21-year-old Montville native, Alus, is much more than a Puerto-Rican, Austrian and Russian bombshell; she is a singer, songwriter, musician and dancer that is well on her way to greatness.
Alus recalls making melodies as soon as she could speak and mimicking music video choreography as soon as she could walk. Alus knew, as did her parents, that she had found her calling. As she grew older, she continued to work hard and improve upon her talents landing her with a full ride to Berklee College of Music. As amazing as this accomplishment was, Alus was offered another tempting proposition, one she had dreamed of her whole life, a record deal with Water Music Publishing with whom she is still signed to today. Her shining personality, amazing talent and super-star quality have gotten her to where she is now but this is only the beginning of her journey.
Interview by Michelle Locke (@mishtheishh)
GFM: How did you get started in music?
A: I’ve been pretty much singing since birth. As soon as I started talking I was always singing and making melodies. My parents would hear me and wanted to get me involved with as much as possible. So, when I was 4 my parents put me into musical theater, and I had a baby grand piano in my house that I started playing by ear. I also got classical opera vocal training, and taught myself how to play the guitar. When I was in high school, I used to go into the city with my resume and headshot to try and make something happen. A lot of times people didn’t take me as seriously as I wanted them to, they thought I was just looking for a 9-5, but I was looking for a career. My last year of high school I auditioned for Water Music Publishing, to whom I am still signed to today. They put me through an intense, old school training and development program where I was working out, losing weight, writing, and rehearsing non-stop. At first it was really stressful but I knew they were grooming me to be a super star.
On top of being a singer you’re also a dancer, songwriter, and musician. To what do you attribute this quadruple threat to?
A: I think it all just happened naturally. As I grew up I felt like I needed a way to release my emotions in a therapeutic way and I was always very poetic and deep as a child *laughs* so music writing was a great outlet for me. I also believe that my parents played a role in my development by putting me into dance lessons, vocal training and classical piano lessons as a child.
How difficult was it for you to decide between a full ride to Berklee College of Music or pursuing your music career straight out of high school?
A: It’s funny because prior to me being signed I wanted to go to Berklee, it was my dream school. I did college summer programs there and I loved it; I just thought it was best contemporary school for music. But when I was offered the opportunity with Water Music Publishing I just thought to myself that I would be going to school to get this opportunity so why not take the opportunity now. I can always go back to school later but I will always be an advocate for education.
How would you describe the journey leading up to and the feeling after the release of your debut mixtape, “Alustrious” in 2014?
A: At first I didn’t think I was going to be releasing a project; I was just working in the studio a lot trying to get my music together. I released one song and the response was crazy! I started getting more and more fans asking for new music, so I put together a compilation of older music and some of the new tracks I was working on. The songs on “Alustrious” are about things that were going on in my life at the time. The song ‘Relapse’ was about an unhealthy relationship I was in and just my process of growing and learning. I felt like I was very young at that stage and still finding out new things about myself.
Your new track “Talk It” featuring fellow NJ artist Dougie F is really making waves out here. What has it been like working with Dougie F and can we expect more collabs in the future?
A: Awesome, I knew him for a while. We had a session in the studio a while back but then both got really busy and didn’t get a chance to link back up until now. When I was working on, ‘Talk It’ the sound reminded me of Dougie F’s ‘Back Up on It’ so I knew I wanted to get him involved. He came into the studio, laid a verse, and I put my ad libs over it and there it was. It has somewhat of a Jersey Club feel for New Jersey people to come together!
Who is your inspiration?
A: Mariah Carey, growing up she was my vocal goddess. When I was little I used to mimic her runs. I sort of have her melody choices embedded in me because I listened to her so much. I usually start in the studio with just a melody and it sometimes helps to predict a melody that Mariah would sing and just go from there.
Who are you currently listening to?
A: I really love Meek Mill’s “DWMTM” and I love Nicki Minaj as a female MC she’s just so dope. For the most part, I’m working on my own stuff and I try not to listen to what’s really popular right now because months from now when I release my music new stuff will be coming in and the trends can change. I just listen a little as a fan while vibing out with Apple Music!
Beyond being an amazing musician, singer, songwriter and dancer I was surprised to hear that you’re also an animal rights activist. What has being an ASPCA ambassador been like?
A: I’m a HUGE animal lover! I have 4 adopted animals, 2 cats and 2 dogs. I am also of course a vegetarian and I frequently try to rescue stray cats *laughs*. There’s actually a bunch of stray cats that hang around the studio that I record at in New Jersey that I always just want to save.
Your fans, the #AlusArmy, are extremely loyal and show a lot of love! How does that make you feel as an aspiring artist?
A: I love them so much; they are more like friends and family at this point. I know a lot of them by a first name basis.
Now Time For Some Fun…
Name one thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did.
A: Some people may know that I have a huge sweet tooth. I am super obsessed with sour patch kids even though I know they are not good for me at all. Don’t forget to brush your teeth kids!
From a dancer’s perspective, “You Got Served” or “Stomp the Yard”?
A: I’ve actually never seen “You Got Served” so I am going to say “Stomp the Yard” because when I first saw it I remember how dope the stepping was to me. I was always more of a “Step Up” or “Save the Last Dance” type of girl. Those were my movies!
What’s your biggest fear?
A: I’m pretty fearless *laughs* but one thing that really does get to me are sharks, I’m so scared of sharks. One summer when I was younger I saw “Jaws” and I didn’t get in the ocean until like two years ago!
Janet or Mariah?
A: Definitely Mariah Carey but don’t get me wrong I love Janet , she’s my girl too!
If Rihanna rolled up on you asking for her money, what would you do?
A: You know I don’t want to get put into a trunk or kidnapped like she did to that woman in the video so I’d give her the money because there’s always more to make *laughs*.
First Thing that Comes to Mind when I Say…
Since you’re a 90s baby like me you know we had all of the good TV shows. What was your favorite 90s TV show?
A: Wow this is a hard one, probably “The Amanda Show” or “All that”, or maybe “Hey Arnold”! You know what just 90s Nickelodeon in general!
A: Hmmm this is actually kind of hard! I’m definitely going to have to kill Chris Brown. I guess date Tyrese and marry Channing Tatum because I see him with his wife and they’re so cute together. He looks like he treats her very well.
Your ultimate Celebrity MCM Award goes tooooo…
A: This is going to probably sound like a very weird answer, but you know when someone is just so exceptional and talented at what they do that it’s attractive? I’d give it to Johnny Depp. He’s definitely my favorite actor and just so amazing in the character roles he plays in his movies.
If you could pick any artist, dead or alive, to do a collab with who would it be?
A: This is going to be pretty old school of me but I would pick Billy Holiday, a collab with her would just be so epic. I used to listen to all of her music when I was younger and watch, “Lady Sings The Blues” all of the time.
What is your favorite song of all time?
A: Emotions by Mariah!
What’s a piece of advice that you can give to other young New Jersey artists trying to make it?
A: Just to keep working because you can have a great team behind you but nobody is going to be doing anything for you. Somebody in the town next to you may be doing same thing as you and chasing the same dreams as you so you just have to be hardest working person. Someone could always be more talented but you have to work harder than them. It may take a lot of time, but it is worth it.
Where can your fans catch you performing at next?