Music and Art In Your Backyard

Alyson Alonzo

You know that voice. The one that makes the hair stand up on the back of head. It's soulful, it's poignant, and it completely captures your attention; that voice is Alyson Alonzo. Her electric, sultry, soul music will move you to make grand gestures, if nothing else.

Photo by Jade Hernandez

Photo by Jade Hernandez

Hi Alyson, so glad we could interview you! Tell us a little about yourself, where you hail from and how you started making music

I’m was born and raised in San Antonio and I grew up on the south side of town. I grew up loving music and I don’t know exactly how it started but I know that music runs in my family. My godfather founded a xicano-soul group called “The Royal Jesters” back in the 60’s so my family instilled a great deal of music appreciation in me from the get-go. I fell in love with the keys when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My parents eventually bought me a keyboard, and overtime one would break and they’d keep buying me keyboards until I was able to buy my own. I practiced everyday on my own for years and never took lessons, I just loved synths, making beats and putting stuff together from really early on but I didn’t discover my ability to sing until I was much older.

When I graduated from high school, like almost everyone else, I was pretty clueless as to what I was going to do with my life when school was over. I tried majoring in radio, television, and film at community college because at the time I wanted to edit movies and short films. I used the computer I got as a graduation present to start making music instead of editing videos, shortly after that I quit school and locked myself in my room and started making music all of the time. I was making music alone in my room and posting songs on myspace for about 3 years before I started playing shows out in public. I’d go into the public myspace chats and spam my music and see how many views I could get on new songs. I was really shy about it and I had my reservations about playing live because I doubted my singing abilities as I was starting out. I was in a few different bands and made a lot of different kinds of music before I met Jeffrey Palacios and we formed a band called "Vincent Vega" and eventually changed the name to "Sugar Skulls". Sugar skulls was originally Jeff and I, and over time it formed into a full soul-rnb 10-piece band. We still play special events from time to time but we both got busy with our own projects. Jeff is in three different bands and I’ve been rigorously working on my solo project and working full time at a corporate job.

Some may be surprised by how many talented folks are in San Antonio. How does the City inspire you and contribute to your growth as an artist?

I love my city. I draw inspiration from the growth I’ve seen all around me and I have, in turn, felt myself grow along with it.  Everyone works together to creative a positive working environment to play music in and I appreciate the fuck out of this place and my fellow artists for that support.

What is the music scene like in San Antonio? What style of music can we find there?

When I started playing shows, San Anto was saturated with bands in the metal/punk/hardcore scene and it was a little hard to get a show and be taken seriously if you weren’t some lone star drinking fuckface with a shitty emo haircut in a black t-shirt and tight pants.  This was maybe in like 2009? I’m not too sure it was a long time ago. In the last five years alone there has been such an evolution of community and sound. Different genres and new bands pop up every year and they just get better and better. I’m always amazed at even these kids in high school forming bands that are doing better than I was when I was their age. It makes me really regret being so shy and not starting sooner. I’m so proud of where I see us going. I’ve said it in interviews before and I’ll say it again: We don’t have a music “scene” we have a music “community” of people rising up to make this place a better place to play.

We have something for everyone:

-Lonely Horse is a band that does neo-blues that will melt your fucking face off. (in a good way).

-Femina-X has an avant garde sound of their shaking the city up to its core.

-Fishermen have this crazy contemporary rock sound that pulls from all of the elements to make something beautiful.

-Elena Lopez fronts a band called Octahedron, and she is an indie powerhouse and all of her projects are executed with passion and grace.

-Deervibes is pretty much it’s own indie orchestra boasting a full band, as well as a remarkable horn and string section. Michael Carrillo is the band leader and lead singer and he never ceases to amaze.

-Hometown heroes, Girl in a Coma sell out every single venue they play with their alterna-indie-punk whateverthefuck you wanna call it badass sound these days and never leave a crowd disappointed. I mean they were signed to Joan Jetts record label when Nina was only 15 so they were pretty much groomed for success and they’ve made everyone here proud. Nina Diaz fronts that band and she also has her solo thing going on, she just released an amazing album and everytime she sings I feel her voice vibrating through my bones. Fea is the side project of the other half of that band founded by Phanie diaz and Jenn Alva, they came out with this raw-as-fuck femipunk sound that has been making waves all over the city too.

There are so many other bands and sounds I could touch on and the list keeps getting bigger and better every year. I’m truly proud of every single member of this music community and how we’ve managed to make it completely ours over the years. It’s beautiful and untainted by corporate greed and the need to be like crabs in a bucket.

The first song I heard from you was Love Memory. Your voice was so stirring, with so much soul and that r’n’b twang. What was the inspiration for that song?

I wrote that song about being in an emotional place where you’re willing to let love into your heart wholly and fully and that song is pretty much asking the other person if they’d want that too. This song has kind of a crazy ass story, you may not believe me at first but if you do a little digging and fact checking you’ll find that I’m telling the truth. For a long time I never said anything about it because I thought people would think I was crazy. Plus it’s a pretty dumb thing to lie about.

So here is how the story goes:

The first line of the song “I crave a love so deep the ocean would be jealous” came from a poem I wrote on a really old tumblr (in-eloquent.tumblr.com) in 2011 back when I was really into drinking whiskey and typing poetry (like i was a lesbian mexican bukowski or something) and scanning it then posting it online. You’ll see a pre-masculine picture of a very young Alyson Alonzo with long hair in black and white on the icon. That damn one-line poem got reblogged soOoOooo much that it eventually took on a life of it’s own. Now people are selling shit that says “I crave a love so deep the ocean would be jealous” on etsy and Khloe Kardashian had that fucking quote on her Instagram bio for some time. I even had to put a copyright on it, have I seen any money from it? No. Do I care? Not really…But it’s mine so I needed to copyright it after I realized that it was getting out of hand. I partly wrote that song to take back my poetry and to finish the job I started when I wrote the poem in the first place. The whole part of that song goes, “I crave a love so deep the ocean would be jealous, I pray that somehow I could drown in your gaze when your eyes meet mine, and then if I should die I know that I’d go happy, cause I’d be by your side, yeah I’d be by your side.”

That song is about the type of love that if you found, you’d die happy.

What was it like performing with such a huge orchestra and the Sugar Skulls? That was pretty amazing. How did that collaboration come about?

Troy Peters is the mastermind of the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio. The entire project is his baby. I think he had seen me performing out and about. He personally asked me himself if I’d do the first Radiohead show a few years ago and I immediately said yes. It was always my dream to sing with an orchestra. After the initial shock of the gig it finally set in and I felt like all of my hard work leading up to that made that moment really worth it.

Out of all the songs you’ve created, which one would you say you are most proud of? and why is that?

I’m really proud of Love Memory. From the production to the lyrics I feel like I really took back something of mine and made it completely me to share with everyone.

What can we expect from you in 2017 and the upcoming months?

I’m just about wrapping up my first solo EP, “The Romantic” and I’ll be announcing a release date at the end of February. I can’t wait to put that out so I can finish writing a full album. I’m really looking forward to the next YOSA orchestra show on March 13th. We’re covering Prince songs this year and you should definitely make the trip down to San Antonio for it. You’ll be able to see me and various other badass local bands cover prince songs with the orchestra. It’s going to be so so great.