Alessia Cara's anti-party party anthem, "Here," was inarguably the most ironically cool tune of the summer — landing her in the top 25 of Rolling Stone's best songs of 2015, coming in as runner-up in BBC's "Sound Of" competition and dueting with Taylor Swift on the 1989 tour stop in Tampa. Even Drake's a fan.
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter (born Alessia Caracciolo) was discovered via YouTube, where she uploaded raspy, soulful covers from her Toronto bedroom before she was swept into a series of successes leading to her November full-length release of "Know-It-All" from Def Jam Records. Cara is now set to headline her first-ever North American tour through April — with stops in Boston (Jan. 22), Philadelphia (Jan. 23) and New York (Jan. 29) — before joining the Coachella lineup later that month.
We caught up with Cara from her hometown before her tour kicked off.
You rumoredly started using YouTube to overcome your shyness, and now you're performing in front of a crowd almost every night. What has that been like?
Doing YouTube really helped because I was always in this weird phase where I wanted to do music, but I was always too scared or too shy. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t that confident in myself. It helped me get through that because I was still singing for people and they were hearing me sing, but I didn’t have to be in front of them yet. It helped me break down that barrier I was hiding behind.
Do you ever get stage fright?
I think it’s nerves than fear. Before I was scared to, but now I’m not so much scared as much as I am nervous.
Do you ever watch your old YouTube videos? Do you ever want to take them down?
I’ll go back and watch them sometimes, but not for too long. It’s just kind of awkward and weird. But I don’t ever get tempted to take them down, because they’re for a reason and they show the progression [of my work]. I like having them in my archives.
Do you feel like you have to fulfill this role as of "loner" or "anti-social" before "Here"?
I never really claimed to be that, you know? I think people assume that’s what I am because of [“Here”] when I say “anti-social pessimist” one time. But I guess a lot of those people don’t really pay attention to the lyrics and aren’t really hearing what I’m trying to say. I don’t think I was ever that, and I don’t think I ever have to be that because that’s not what I am.
I heard the host of the party from "Here" knows the song is about him.
Yeah, he’s one of my friends, actually. He knows it’s about him and I don’t think he cares. We all think it’s kind of funny.