In a male-dominated business, Alyssa Trahan is giving the guys a run for their money. A jill-of-all-trades, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and audio engineer, Trahan began making waves in Nashville as soon as she moved from her hometown of East Rochester, N.Y., in 2016. She also puts her skills to use as a producer, producing not only her own music and demos, but music and tracks for several other artists and writers as well. Playing over 100 shows a year, the singer/songwriter is captivating audiences with her energetic live shows opening for the likes of Sara Evans, Charlie Daniels, Jana Kramer, Josh Turner, Lee Greenwood, Lee Ann Womack, Midland, and many more.
Yes! That was so much fun. I think my favorite part of shows like that is getting to see the soundcheck and the ‘behind the scenes’. There’s just something so cool about seeing a huge artist like that before all the lights come on and the crowd arrives. Just them and their band, doing their thing!
Fellow New Yorker Randy Montana’s dad, Billy, co-wrote Sara’s song. Which New York artists have most influenced your career?
The NY music community as a whole was a big influence on me. Their support and the incredible amount of talent really made me grow as an artist and performer. From the coffeeshops to the major festivals, the level of talent is just amazing. It reminds me a lot of Nashville in that sense.
You reflected, at the start of the quarantine, “We can be upset, point blame, obsess over articles, freak out and panic buy toilet paper (plz don’t do that) or we can try to make the best of this whole situation by taking action but staying calm.” How has music helped you stay positive as we enter month seven of the pandemic?
Music has given my days a purpose during all this. It’s something I can dedicate my time to so I don’t go stir crazy and feel like I’m letting time just pass by. Being able to completely focus on writing and recording is something I had to adjust to without touring, but it’s been very rewarding creatively and I can hear the growth in my work over these last few months.
While some venues have been able to help out artists, you turned to online concerts for fans, including StageIt shows and The Comfy Couch Tour, to help make up lost income from show cancellations. In what other ways can fans show artists support?
The best way for fans to show support is just by being a fan. Follow the artist on social media, engage with their posts, buy their merch, stream and buy their music. Artists have taken a huge hit without touring so every little bit of help means the world right now.
Connecting songs with memories. “You broke my heart but the worst part of it all, You ruined my favorite song”. On the flip side, which one song can always bring a smile to your face?
Recently I’ve been rediscovering the music I loved as a kid and it’s brought me so much joy. Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Dolly, Reba, The Chicks, and even artists like Hilary Duff and Michelle Branch, all their throwback songs that made me fall in love with music and want to pursue it as a career.
Socially distancing and staying in our homes. Needing to be creative when so many places are closed, have you been able to explore any new places in Tennessee?
I haven’t left my studio much, in all honesty. But I have been getting outside a lot in my neighborhood, going for walks and getting some sunshine. It’s been fun to take some time to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings I never noticed before.
Covering Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One”. In what ways has her music and career influenced yours?
I adore Shania. The way her music pushed boundaries, how relatable it is, her style. And I don’t think there’s a single girl out there that doesn’t get pumped up when we hear “let’s go girls!”! She’s a perfect example of a true artist that stayed true to themselves throughout the years.
You said your songs almost always start out with just a guitar and your voice. How else would you describe your musical style?
I would describe my style as modern country. It has elements from traditional country like banjo, mandolin, and slide but it also has elements from pop production like cool drum loops, synth, and melodies. I love pushing boundaries in my music.
Producing your own music — “… a challenging, at times frustrating, fun, and extremely rewarding experience …”. How do you keep your creative perspective fresh through the process?
It’s been tough this year! A big thing for me is just not overthinking what I’m doing. The lyrics, the melody, the production. If my first instinct is “wow that’s cool”, I try to leave it and not tear it apart with the “will people like it?” questions that always pop up in my head. I’ve also been trying out a lot of new sounds and textures recently that I’ve never used before to try and spark new ideas.
“Ain’t Ever Goin’ Back”, a song about standing up for yourself. “Now there’s no returning to the way it was before…” What were the unique challenges of totally self-producing during the quarantine?
Self-producing is not easy. There’s so much more that goes into it than you might think. I’m used to producing my own demos and being a co-producer on my music, but doing it 100% on your own is pretty scary. It’s up to me to make sure the energy is where it needs to be and everything is up to par with what listeners are used to hearing. If something isn’t right, it’s up to me to fix it. I’ve definitely learned and grown a lot in the process.
Describing the song’s music video, which CMT shared on its website, you wrote that it was the most cinematic video you’ve ever done. Representing a song through visual images — how did you pre plan the shoot?
Since this was filmed during the pandemic, we had to make sure all the safety precautions were being taken. It was a really small shoot with only a few people on set at all times. The biggest challenge for us was finding all the locations. We needed a country road surrounded by forest, a location we could use as the character’s home, and a cool looking performance space. Then we had to find extras for a few scenes. And, we had to squeeze the whole shoot into one day! So everyone’s availability was tough to work around and it was a very long, very tiring day. Somehow, all the pieces came together in the end!
“Psychology”. Co-written with Kyle Rife, can you describe the writing session for the song that addresses what it is like to date in the 21st century?
This is a song I had been working on and had mostly finished but I wasn’t happy with it. I thought it was missing something, but I didn’t know what. So I brought it into the writing session and Kyle loved the idea. He helped change up some lyrics and chords and together we added the bridge. After our write, the song was exactly where I wanted it to be. He helped bring out the magic that was missing. That’s what I love about co-writing, it helps get you out of your box and bring in fresh new ideas and perspectives to make the song the best it can be.
“Use your voice … Every vote counts”. Which local issues will most impact the music industry in next month’s election?
I think the biggest issue in the industry right now is touring. Everyone’s wondering when we will be able to get back on the road and struggling to make ends meet without the income since touring is the biggest income stream for most artists. Any regulations surrounding music venues will definitely be a hot topic. Of course, no one wants to tour until it’s safe. But it’s been hard for not just the artists but the venues, sound techs, tour managers, musicians, etc.
Partnering with Breedlove Guitar as a featured artist. What advice would you give someone looking to learn how to play the guitar?
I would say give it your best shot and just keep practicing. I learned by playing until my fingers bled and blistered. Find some songs you love that you want to learn how to play and keep expanding your knowledge and experience. It’s tough at first, but you’ll get the hang of it! And the pain only lasts a little while!
“Organic Treats & Tunes”. Besides the vegetarian taco soup, what other recipes have become go-to’s in your meal planning?
I’ve been trying out a lot of soup recipes, there’s something so comforting about soup especially when the weather is getting cooler. I’ve also been making a lot of veggie-based recipes like fried zucchini, vegetarian pasts bakes, and mashed potatoes!
National Coffee Day. Best coffee shops in Nashville?
You posted that your idea of a perfect summer day includes reading a good book. Any book recommendations?
My favorite books I read recently were “The Couple on Cedar Close” by Anna-Lou Weatherly and “In The Woods” by Tana French! I love a good murder mystery and these were both captivating until the last page!