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Alessia Cara interview

13.Jul.2016
Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara has supported Coldplay on the European leg of #AHFODtour and will join them again for the US dates. We chatted to her on the morning of the second Copenhagen show.

Hello Alessia, how are you?
I’m good, thanks!

So today is the day of your final European show with Coldplay. How’s it gone so far?
Oh my goodness, it’s been incredible. Every time I go on stage it just feels like it’s some sort of weird dream. I’ve never experienced performing in front of this many people on a day to day basis. I think it’s every artist’s dream to do stadiums, so I’ve got a little taste of what it’s like to do that, and it’s validated all my feelings for wanting to do this. The whole aura of the entire tour has been amazing: just so great and calming. And the band is just the sweetest. So it’s been really, really awesome.

When did you find out you were doing these shows?
Actually when I was wrapping up my own tour around February. I just went on my bus and my manager was like, “Listen, Coldplay wants to have you on their tour”.

How did you respond?
Oh, I didn’t even know what to say. I didn’t think it was real. I just kept asking like “Are you sure? They asked for me?”. It was very, very surreal. And it still feels surreal that they asked me or that they even knew who I was.

These are big venues and you’re a relatively new artist. How’s it been performing on these enormous stages?
It’s incredible. The adrenaline is always just so high every time you do it, because it’s so many people, it just looks like they become one. It’s hard to process the fact that there are that many people there. Because, you know, I’ve never really seen what 80,000 people looks like! So it’s a very amazing feeling to be up there.

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How was Wembley Stadium?
That was definitely a special one. The aura and the vibe there is just so different. It was such an amazing feeling. The second night, it was pouring with rain and I stood there on stage with my arms out for a few seconds just feeling the rain and taking in the moment. It was actually my brother’s birthday on that day too, so I had the whole audience say happy birthday to my brother, which was amazing to hear. It was such a great experience.

Being an opening act isn’t always easy. Lots of these fans won’t have seen you before and might just know the odd song. Have you adjusted what you do?
Yeah, it’s true, you never really know what the reaction’s gonna be, especially when you go to foreign countries because I’m so new and it’s not my crowd. You just feel like everyone could be, “Yeah yeah, just bring out Coldplay”. So I always try to really connect. They don’t have to know who I am, but I just want to leave them with something, so I talk to the audience as much as I can.

What about?
About me and my music and what the songs are about. I just try to leave them with little messages here and there, because that’s what my songs are about. And we’ve taken the more up-tempo songs from my album just to keep it a little bit more energised and get people excited.

The Coldplay fans seem to have been really receptive to your sets.
Yeah, they really have been. Actually Chris Martin mentioned that on the first day when we got there. He said, “As long as you’re kind and you just give your all, they’re really receptive and they pay attention”, which is true. I’ve found that their audience is very accepting and attentive.

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You talked in your tour vlog about your slightly awkward first meeting with Chris.
Oh my goodness! It was horrible. I was so nervous, because I had wanted to meet him forever. And when you live a moment in your head, sometimes you just want it to be perfect and then when it happens, you forget everything that you wanted to say. I was so concerned that I told him that my mom was a fan, and I’m never going to live that down!

So you basically told him that your mum was a fan, and that sort of implied that you weren’t?
Yeah! I should have said that I was a fan first – because of course I am – but I said “My mom is a way bigger fan than I am” and he was like, “It’s ok, we don’t need you, we have tonnes of fans!”. He laughed it off, but I was very, very embarrassed and I wanted to crawl into a hole.

But you are a big Coldplay fan?
Absolutely, yes. My mom used to listen to them all the time. My earliest memories of just really, really loving music were dancing to Coldplay in my living room with my mom. And just growing up, always listening to them around the house. And when I was old enough to buy my own music, I bought all their albums and songs, and I was such an invested fan, which is why this was such a big deal for me.

Is your mum coming to a show?
Yes, she’s going to come to the New York show, so I’m hoping she’ll get to meet them. I don’t know if she’ll even be able to talk to them, cos she’s just going to be so excited.

Are you managing to get out and see the cities that you’re going to? Presumably there are a lot of places you haven’t been to before?
Yes, it’s kind of spaced out well enough that I can have a couple of days off here and there and see where we are, which is good, cos usually when I travel to places I never really get to see them. It’s been nice.

Any particular tourism highlights?
There have been a bunch. But I think the highlight was the first time I saw the Coldplay show. We stay back many nights and it’s always incredible, but the first time I saw it, it just blew my mind. Seeing all the songs live that I’ve loved forever and seeing the way they perform. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I’ll never forget that.

And you’ve squeezed in some festival shows too. How was Glastonbury?
It was amazing! Oh my goodness. We had a weird technical difficulty and I was so scared that people weren’t going to like it, but the reaction was incredible. They were so, so attentive and energetic. I love doing festivals, especially UK festivals, because the audience is always so upbeat and energised. So it was really cool.

You and Lianne seem to have been getting on well on Twitter. Have you been hanging out a lot?
Yes, she is amazing – her whole team is. We’ve had a couple of team versus team soccer games, actually.

Who won?
Well, the first time her team won and my team was really upset about that, so we called for a rematch, and then we beat them. I think it was 9-5. So now we have the title! But, yes, I’ve been a fan of hers also for the longest time. If you go back on my YouTube channel, I’ve done covers of her songs since I was like 14 or 15. So just meeting her in person is amazing, and she is the sweetest. We’re cool friends now, which is very nice.

So onto North America. For those people over there who maybe don’t know much about you, how would you describe what you do and why they should come and see you?
Oh wow. I guess I make songs and I sing them, and all my songs are reflective of my life and things I’ve seen in the world. And I just make music to help people and to make people feel like they’re not alone in whatever they’re feeling. I want to make people feel things when they listen to me.

And what’s coming up next for you?
Well, I’m doing part two of my own headlining tour around North America – cos I did one at the beginning of this year. And hopefully I’ll be able to come back to Europe too.

And your album came out at the end of last year.
That’s right. It’s called Know-It-All and it’s available wherever you can get music!

Final question, what is your favourite Coldplay song and why?
Oh my goodness, come on. That’s so difficult. Let me think. There are lots I love on the new album, like Army Of One and Up&Up. Oh this is so hard. Can I have two?

Sure.
OK, I’m going to say Viva La Vida and Magic. The first one, Viva La Vida, is because the first time I ever saw my mom cry to any music, I was in my living room as a kid and I just caught her dancing to Viva La Vida and she was crying with joy. And I’d never seen anybody cry to music like that. I think that was the first time I realised that music can do that to people. I remember I just got up and started dancing with her. And every time that song comes on, we dance, and it makes me cry because I think of my mom. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful song. Something about that song just takes me to another place.

And Magic?
I think the simplicity in Magic is what makes it so beautiful. I just love that. It’s one of the most beautiful love songs ever, I think. And again it takes me to a weird head space – all their music does. But that will always be one of my favourites.

And listening to Coldplay’s music in the future is going to bring back some pretty amazing memories for you after these last few weeks!
Oh my goodness, definitely. This experience has been everything that I would’ve dreamed of and more. And I’m so excited to continue it and to absorb more of this.

For more info on Alessia, check out her websiteFacebookTwitter and Instagram