GW BELFAST: Alice La

‘Why would I be called Alice LA? Alice Los Angeles? I’m from a wee town in Northern Ireland. It’s Alice La, taken from name’

Generation W spoke to Alice La, one of the performing artists at our live music debut in Belfast at Oh Yeah Music Centre on 17th October 2023. This show is Alice’s first live music show of original material since before the 2020 lockdown. Alice has since had a little boy and changed her sound of music completely, which she talks to us about.

Alice: I’m from a wee town called Banbrige, but I do live in the city of Belfast.

GW: What’s it like living in the city as opposed to the town?

Alice: People in the city call me a ‘culchie’ which is like a farmer.

GW: Does there feel like there is a sense of community in the city?

Alice: I think some people would say yes, some would say no. The music scene is really great, and recently there is a lot of RnB and rap artists coming through also and the folk scene is mad. There is no real pop music scene and that’s why I have changed my sound. Genuinely, all the musicians know each other, it’s grand.

GW: You say you’ve changed from pop music. Was pop music what you wanted to make or did you make pop music because that was the sound of the times?

Alice: I loved listening to Grimes and Lady Gaga but I never felt like it was me. I had a baby a couple of years ago, after having him I realised that I don’t want to be in pop anymore. So I went and recorded a new EP with Gareth Dunlop, he’s from Northern Ireland too and he gets a lot of work also scoring television and films.

GW: So with his work being placed on television etc. have you found yourself being able to tell stories more working with Gareth Dunlop?

Alice: Yeah I would say my sound now can be described more as Americana, and more stories based. Before my music was more a lot of noise, pop music can be so much noise.

GW: You say your music was more about noise, were you not confident enough as a person to write your stories down before?

Alice: I don’t really know that answer. I do know that one of the reasons I left pop music is you have to be a certain age, have a certain look and I don’t have that anymore. I want to make music that’s timeless and I feel the new stuff is. I always wanted to do this kind of music but I don’t know why, I just didn’t – but I’m doing it now.

GW: When you started making music, was there a strong independent music scene in Northern Ireland?

Alice: It was more band based, so if you were doing things on your own, a wee bit difficult.

GW: Our show together at Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast on 17th October is going to be your first gig since having a baby and lockdown, have you been to other peoples gigs?

Alice: Oh yeah. I’ve been to a few gigs. I do try to get to them if I can.

GW: What sort of things are you writing about on your new EP?

Alice: One song is about when you decide to have a child, and you think it’s going to be lovely, but I’m looking at the darker side of becoming a parent – having the responsibility. The EP is called Waves, I called my son Ocean. It’s about living in the moment – the good times and bad. You don’t have to be a parent to relate to the songs, I don’t even mention babies. Gareth (Dunlop) really guided me. It’s really cool, I’m excited about this wee gig of ours to play the songs to people now.

GW: We have to ask you (sorry), why did you call your son Ocean?

Alice: I don’t know if I should tell you this….
He wasn’t conceived in the ocean if that’s what you think?

Basically, I’m not with Ocean’s daddy anymore but he had a friend called Ocean. I loved that name so I asked why he was called that and he said “his dad was smuggling things over to London, and he got arrested and put into jail. Ocean 1 was born, the mother rang the jail and said “what do you want to call your son and he says ‘I want to call him Ocean because I haven’t seen the sea in nine months’.” I just loved that name and the whole time I was pregnant I was craving seaweed… my hair is dark, I have dark eyes, and he came out with the bluest eyes. He’s a wee Ocean baby.

GW: What did your mum and dad do when you were little?

Alice: Oh they just worked normal jobs, they are not into music.

GW: So did they work on a farm?

Alice: No!! No, they call me a coachie because I don’t talk the city. They say I’m a farmer, but I’m not. I don’t live on a farm, I wish I did, I do have an allotment though, so I suppose I am a bit farmer!

GW: You had a lot of life changes during lockdown with having your son, and the change in your music. How did lockdown go for you?

Alice: I was just starting to get gigs for my old music and then the lockdown happened. The last gig I did was for BBC Introducing, and I was just getting my work out there and then everything changed. The end of lockdown number 2 I gave birth. Then the world re-opened again and I was like ‘nooooo! I’m still pregnant looking!’, and I still look pregnant two years later!

GW: So, is it Alice L-A or Alice La?

Alice: Alice La.

GW: Does anyone ever ask you that question?

Alice: All the time. Why would I be called Alice LA? Alice Los Angeles? I’m from a wee town in Northern Ireland. Like I’m trying to be cool? It’s from my second name, Millar, it’s just two letters taken out of my second name, nothing cool about it.

GW: Oh we thought Alice Los Angeles, with baby Ocean you could be right there in Hollywood with Bono. How do people in your country feel about famous musicians?

Alice: We do love Snow Patrol and Ash. (Who play a key role in the Oh Yeah Music Centre). They support up and coming talents here, even though they are famous, they are really cool with new talent here. The Oh Yeah is great, they do a lot of great things there. They are the go to for gigs.

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