By Ingrid Martinez
Being a RAW artist means being an artist of flaws and faults. Simply just artists who have not yet reached their full capacity. What makes our RAW artists special is embracing the imperfections that give a sense a self-acknowledgement, an empowerment allowing artists to grow and evolve to further perfect their craft.
If there’s one person aware of their self-being it’s 18-year-old Chicago singer Ally Ahern, who has no time trying to be perfect.
She is unbothered by the so-called shortcomings she may possess and knows where she stands as an artist and where she wants to go. Which is a pathway of intuitively following her own musical stimulations.
“I believe in my artistic impulses and try not to overthink my music, and I like to keep my sound real and raw. I don’t believe in perfecting my voice, or overthinking any ideas I have in the moment, because I think overthinking the end result can disrupt the creative flow. Also, although I am a pop artist, I like to bring a range of genres and influences into my work from all across the board. Then, just as a person, I like to embrace the things that may come across as flaws or quirks to others. I’m no Barbie, and I don’t want to hold myself to a standard that is not authentic, or try to fit some cookie cutter shape", says Ahern.
To learn more about Ally’s story read the full interview below.
Where did your desire to perform/write derive from?
Writing music has never felt like something I actively made an effort to get myself into, it just kind of happens to me, and takes over me like an impulse I can’t really fight. So, I guess I was songwriting before I even knew I was songwriting.
As for performing, I used to have terrible stage fright - to the point where I couldn’t even bring myself to sing for my parents. My first solo performance was at church when I was 14, and since then I realized the emotional high I get from performing is something I will spend a lifetime chasing again and again.
With a background in jazz, opera, and musical theater what made you want to compose pop music?
Although I have a soft spot for all the genres I’ve studied, I find myself migrating to pop music in terms of what I think suits me as an artist. Vocally, pop music can feel like the biggest challenging for me against other genres, but since I started studying voice, I was always that one pushy student asking my teacher for the hardest piece they had. So, I appreciate the challenge. I actually explore all genres when writing as well. I’ve written everything from instrumental classical pieces, to musical theatre song cycles. I just see myself as a pop artist in terms of what I release, but alongside that I am a songwriter.
Your sultry voice makes you sound a lot older than you are. Are there any challenges that come along with being so young and trying to break out in the music industry? Like being underestimated or overlooked?
I definitely have had people throw me the “young and foolish” label, or the “when you grow up and settle down” spiel, but honestly, I don’t ever want to lose the “foolish dreamer” in me. When I try to imagine myself as a “grown up”, I see myself as that grandma with the “21 forever” tattoo and pink hair.
So basically, I see my youth and vigor as something to embrace, and something to hold on to as I age.
Where did the inspiration for ‘Ocean Eyes’ come from? What’s the story behind it?
My eyes have always changed color depending on my environment, they’ll go from bright green, to sky blue, to dark blue, to grey, to straight up hazel, so I’ve never really known what to label myself in terms of eye color. I’ve had people who know me well ask if I’m wearing color contacts because suddenly my eye color is different! So basically, when I was fourteen, I remember asking one of my friends what my eye color was, and upon close inspection, he said “you have…. ocean eyes”. I immediately was sparked with inspiration by it, so that very day, I took the phrase and ran with it, creating the character and story of “Ocean Eyes”. Later on, I pieced together that the story of “Ocean Eyes” metaphorically reflected something I was going through around the time I wrote the song.
Any other genres you plan to musically explore more with?
At this point, I feel like I have dabbled in most genres in my writing at one point or another, so I’m not even sure. I would not be surprised if future me visited present me and said I’d be spitting rap verses in my songs 5 years from now or something like that. So, who knows… anything could happen.
What are some long-term goals you hope to accomplish with your music?
In my heart, I know I won’t be fully satisfied unless I’m constantly engrossed in music as my main focus. I’m passionate about a lot of things, for a while I even thought I wanted to study political science or psychology in college. However, once I realized how deep my love of music and performing was, I realized I couldn’t not devote myself fully to it. So, I guess my long-term goal is to just go for it - full speed - and enjoy wherever it takes me.