warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Alyssa Bentley, The Brand New Girl On The Music Scene

Aja Dang |
January 21, 2011 | 1:13 p.m. PST


Alyssa Bentley (Alyssabentley.com)
Alyssa Bentley (Alyssabentley.com)

It’s hard to stand out in the music scene these days, but Alyssa Bentley has managed to do that with ease.

Having already performed in the hottest venues in Los Angeles, Alyssa is taking over independent radio with her unique blend of pop, dance, rock and r&b. Her first music video “Brand New Girl” made her a YouTube sensation, and Alyssa plans to repeat that success with her second video “Til We’re Ready To Go”. Shooting this Saturday at Libertine in Hollywood, fans can join Alyssa for a live performance and an opportunity to be featured in her video. With her debut album “Brand New Girl” dropping on February 25, Alyssa is excited to show the world that a good ol’ southern girl can make it in the big city.                                                                                          


Neon Tommy: You’re getting ready to shoot your new music video “Til We’re Ready To Go” tomorrow. Your first video Brand New Girl was such a popular video and you directed it yourself, how was that process? 

Alyssa Bentley: It was exhausting and amazing all at the same time. I had tried to work with a director and everything was coming way over my budget so I decided it would be better if I did it on my own. 

NT: When I talk to music video directors they always complain that the hardest thing about their job is trying to pair their creative vision with the budget but as a first time director you did a really good job. How did you come up with the storyline?

AB: It’s a story of a guy who falls in love really quickly. He loves the romance and once the girls has fallen for him then he’s gone and on to the next girl and it’s over real fast. I had a girlfriend that went through that exact experience, I didn’t have to make anything up. There’s some people that are addicted to falling in love and romance rather than actually being in a relationship.

NT: You can really see the love and hurt your female lead goes through, it’s almost like we are going through it, it’s personal. Are most of your songs written about personal relationships?

AB: Most of it is personal experience, I wouldn't say personal relationships so much. I like to write about anything that’s part of my day to day life. Most recently, I was going through a ridiculously difficult time and that one week where I had to write and record that song was the hardest week. The song was more like an inspiration to me that I can get through it, the song itself actually speaks to me. Every song has a different motivation, relationships are tucked in there from song to song.

NT: So song writing is therapeutic for you. Is it nerve racking to put your heart and soul in your songs?

AB: Not at all, that’s the most comfortable place for me to put my heart and soul. I’d rather do that than in real life any day of the week. 

NT: Where does your passion for music come from?

AB: It was never not there. I started performing when I was two, it was mostly for family. I don't think there was ever anything I wanted to be other than a singer, ever. 

NT: People need that passion in order to succeed in the industry because it’s very gut-wrenching trying to make it. How was the process for you getting to the point where you are now?

AB: It’s a realization that there’s a lot of hard work involved. It’s more than just singing and writing songs it’s time invested in research, in the business aspect. How to get your music from where you are to that next step and that’s really complicated. Even though social media and the Internet makes it easier than it used to be, it’s still complicated because now there are so many ways that you can take this thing. 

NT: Youtube, Facebook and Myspace is a hub for artists wanting to make it big so it’s really important to stand out in the crowd.

AB: There are so many more artists because it’s more accessible. I’m talking thousands of people who are trying to get to the same place as opposed to just a handful. If you have a really good product and the support of people who are trying to do their part to push you out there, then it will happen.

NT: What makes you stand out?

AB: Product. It’s really important to me that everything is excellent, I’m not going to put something out there that’s half hearted so I work really hard. Even though I don't have the resources and support of a big label, I want my product to seem like I do. It’s really important to me that there’s excellence behind the product.

NT: Speaking of excellence, a lot of artists now are singers, dancers, designers, entrepreneurs. Do you have any desire to do that or are you strictly singer songwriter?

AB: I’m a bit ADD so even though singing is my passion I don’t think I’d be able to sit in one place and do it for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed the directing process for the music video so that’s something I’m going to really learn more about. I also started talking about collaborating with a designer to come up with a line that would be inspired by my fashion interests. These are all long term goals. 

NT: Your style is very retro, which you don't see very much these days. Where did this retro vibe come from?

AB: The most memorable fashion eras for women would be the 50’s and 80’s. I love the color and the vibrant patterns of the 80’s and I love the fitted, tailored look of the 50’s. Trying to marry those two together is kind of my thing, but I still keep it modern with a bit of a hard edge.

NT: That hard edge is something not commonly found in a southern girl. Where do your musical influences come from?

AB: I’ve got to be the only person who grew up in Kentucky with parents from West Virginia who is not into country. I’ve grown to appreciate it but my parents were into gospel and that’s where a lot of it comes from. That was a huge influence when I was little and then I branched out from there and kind of grew into where I am today. The core of my music now is pop but I like to have each song with a little bit of different flavor on it. A little bit of r&b, there’s some hip hop, occasionally some reggae, definitely some rock and some really good electric pop, i get bored.

NT: Where do you hope to be in a couple of years?

AB: I would love to be releasing record number two. It will still have the pop sound and feel to it but it will be a marriage of a live band and the pop music together. I would love to be releasing that and probably be heavily involved in fashion. I wouldn’t be so sad if the Grammys were involved! 

NT: Speaking of your second album, you have your first EP out, with your full length album dropping soon. 

AB: It’s quickly approaching, it’s nerve racking to think about. There will be some great songs from Jay Reid and Clarence Jay. They lean in the pop/dance/rock direction. Then I’m going to have another song that leans more towards pop/rock and one more that’s r&b.

NT: A lot of artists have jumped into the social media realm to connect with their fans, what’s the importance of that?

AB: Second to a live show that’s a great opportunity to connect with people outside of just hearing your album. It gives them more of a reason to care because they are experiencing things with you and it gives them an opportunity to become an active part. They can say they had something to do with it if I succeed because they share what they want to share when they want to share it and without that I couldn't make it. It’s giving power to the fans. 

NT: So your fans are important?

AB: Very, its been amazing what they’ve done on my behalf. I don't know why they do it but I’m thankful. I don’t have a plan b, it’s either all or nothing.



To contact Aja Dang click here

To follow Aja Dang on Twitter click here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.