The Grapevine Questionnaire: Alysha Brilla
By Susan Wedlock
Twice Juno Award nominated singer-songwriter, producer, and community organizer Alysha Brilla is a critically acclaimed Indian-Tanzanian Canadian artist who just released her third self-produced album, “HUMAN”. Alysha Brilla will have a show at the Evergreen Theatre in Margaretsville on May 26. Visit evergreentheatre.ca for ticket info.
Susan Wedlock (SW): Can you list five words that describe you?
Alysha Brilla (AB): Colourful, Dreamer, Soul Seeker, Idealist, Curious
SW: “Best Dressed Brilla” – I believe this term was used at the Juno Awards in 2015. What was that about?
AB: My friend and designer ZNA.K designed a dress that I loved and wore to the Junos. It happened to catch the attention of a few papers/media outlets and they praised my style. I appreciate it, as my style is definitely an extension of my artistry and expression of my music. I’m colourful and like to mix patterns.
SW: You have a great unique fashion style, how would you describe it?
AB: Thank you. I have always been fascinated by fashion. I actually used to watch Fashion Television as a child and be really interested in the world of design, but at this point, 99% of my clothes are either from second-hand shops or designed by a friend. I love putting interesting outfits together and using colour to express how I am feeling any given day. My style is funky, colourful, playful, eclectic, and joyful.
SW: Tell us a bit about how yoga is important to you?
AB: Yoga actually quite saved me during a time of depression in my life. Connecting to my body and breathing through yoga has been a complimentary form of healing for me. I am able to use this modality when I travel and the beautiful thing about it is you can do it anywhere, anytime. It is a gift from India that I love and cherish dearly.
SW: What do you try to bring to the schools you frequently give talks to?
AB: I try to tell the story of how I made it through the bullying I experienced and my adventures in the industry I have worked in for 15 years now… the music industry. I want to inspire the youth to think outside of the box and aspire for equity both in their chosen fields and in their community.
SW: What would a perfect day look like for you?
AB: A perfect day for me would be spending most of my hours in the sun, by the trees, by water, writing, playing my guitar, and being on my bicycle. I feel free on my bicycle.
SW: If you couldn’t pursue music what other career path might you take?
AB: If I hadn’t pursued music, I believe I would have been a writer.
SW: Which Canadian artist/band should we have a listen to?
AB: You should listen to Janice Jo Lee. Her music incorporates elements of her Korean heritage, and her lyrics are very conscious – commenting on love, community, and equity.
SW: Tell us the story behind your latest album “Human”.
AB: I travelled to India and Tanzania in 2015 to explore my ancestry. I can’t really put into words the effect the trip had on me, but it certainly inspired many songs. I think now is the time for all of us to be looking at ourselves sociologically and thinking critically about our societies and how we fit into them. I called the album “Human” because it is an identity all of my listeners can relate to. We are a shared species and we are doing a lot of healing at the moment.
SW: As a social activist, what is important to you?
AB: What is important to me is equity. I want to see our world heal and I believe it will heal once it is balanced. The balance will come when voices of people who have been silenced and not given platforms, finally have an equal chance to express and have their turn in shaping the way our world looks. I really want to see Indigenous peoples all around the world given a chance to shape our society and I believe there is so much value in the pedagogies and the relationship to the land that most Indigenous peoples have within their spiritual and traditional storytelling. It is critical that we listen and amplify these voices in order to heal both humans and our environment. Now is the time.