Interview with Alisha Espey
I met Alisha Espey back in July. She was very enthusiastic to write about music for Style Bust. She became a great addition to the team and has pumped out many compelling stories. She has introduced me to a handful of new bands, all within a couple of months.
During November, Alisha proved her writing and PR skills are worth noticing. She wrote the article Bieber Fever. This article received more attention in one day than most articles published on Style Bust receive in a week.
To thank her efforts, Style Bust gave her a $50 gift certificate to tobi.com. We assumed this achievement was also worthy of an interview with Alisha since we still don’t know that much about her. She’s a mystery!
Style Bust: What did your parents listen to while you were growing up?
My mom tells me stories about how she would put her belly up to large speakers in our house to Bob Dylan, so thanks to her I think I’ve been listening to him since before I was born. My dad’s roots are really based in blues and rock and roll. He would take me to blues fests during the summer and that’s where I first fell in love with live music.
Style Bust: Did they influence your taste in music at all?
Absolutely. However, it wasn’t cool when I was younger to like what my parents were listening to. I rebelled for awhile and found my own music taste, but my love for Bob Dylan and those classic songs, it’s almost hard to put into words. You just don’t hear that kind of music anymore.
Style Bust: Who was the first musician or band that you really got into?
My first couple albums were TLC and Alanis Morrisette. TLC – CrazySexyCool is such an all around great album. I love the soul in R&B and Hip Hop music. And Alannis Morrissette has so much attitude, like the end of punk era, total angst music, female domination.
Style Bust: How did music become such an important role in your life?
Music has always been my passion. The way a song or artist reaches all different people and touches them in a different way, from a theology perspective I find it so intriguing.
In middle school I was at an O-town concert and happened to meet one of their opening acts, Chicago based boyband, Vi3. I met their manager and started to become really involved with their fanbase. When I saw everything that went on behind the scenes was when I realized that I was already doing promotion for bands without even really knowing what public relations was. I couldn’t believe that I could do that for a career. The idea of helping an artist achieve their dream of performing music and on the flip side of that help people discover new music and artists, it’s certainly a way for me to give back. Knowing how music has changed my life, the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do is share that feeling with other people.
Style Bust: What is your most memorable concert experience?
I’ve seen so many amazing shows that I love for all different reasons. A couple years ago I was in New York visiting a friend and having lunch in Central Park when I saw a group of screaming girls across the street at Trump International. They were waiting for the Jonas Brothers to come out. At the time I certainly knew who they were but didn’t know much of their music. Out of curiosity and a free night to myself I decided to see what the excitement was all about. Talk about a production. I was third row among a sold out Madison Square Garden crowd. I bonded with a 7 year old, felt completely out of my element and thought I would regret forking out so much money for a ticket. Once they got on stage it was magical. I will never forget the energy in the city or in MSG that day.
Style Bust: What are you doing for work?
Right now I’m doing freelance writing. I thought it would be cool to do some weekly segments and interview the most influential people in the music industry in Chicago. Right now I’m in the midst of landing interviews and pitching it to different publications. I have developed a love for writing but I’m certainly looking for a more steady full-time position but haven’t found the right fit yet. I’m one of the few people that had a vision and a dream from an early age that I’ve been determined to follow. There are so many great places that I would love to work in Chicago; Radio Disney, House of Blues, Lincoln Hall, Jam Productions… now if any of them were just hiring.
Style Bust: How does your love for music help you be successful in your career?
It has taught me so many things, a lot of it has to do with being ambitious and having confidence, to stand up for the things I believe in. Music is so personal to me. Despite feeling so passionate about music I struggled for a long time with sharing my opinions. I am not afraid to express my musical taste now. But unfortunately there aren’t enough open minded people in this world and I lose credibility when I say Hanson is my favorite band, or I am up on all the news about Justin Bieber & the Jonas Brothers. In a perfect world, people would just get it. It’s like I don’t get the whole Taylor Swift craze. I give her props for her songwriting skills but when it comes to her live performances I don’t know how anyone can really love her sound. She’s such a sweet girl that people have a hard time criticizing her because they basically feel bad about putting her down. But I would never go to a huge Taylor Swift fan and tell them they are stupid for liking her, that she sucks or that I hope she dies. I’ve been through that junk as a Hanson fan. It’s just not fair and should not be happening. Music should be making people come together. I would love to start an anti-bullying campaign that revolves around music.
Style Bust: Name an artist or song from the 90’s you love.
I’m truly a pop princess so the 90’s were a dream for me. But there’s one band in particular that hit me and hasn’t left my life since and that’s Hanson. It was so cool to be listening to a band that was my age and singing songs that I could relate to. And I’ve gotten to grow up with them, they have changed, grown and evolved with me. Since 1997 I have been continually inspired by their music, creativity, marketing and philanthropic movement.
Style Bust: What new group or artist are you recommending to you friends these days?
For the Rap/Hip-Hop scene, hands down Zack Crawford. I am obsessed with his 100 proof mixtape. For indie-rock folk lovers – Mumford and Sons. They have a great sound and are awesome live, if you can get a ticket. They have had to upgrade to bigger venues then they originally booked and selling out shows in the States. Indie-pop – I’m loving Sherwood. They are a super fun group, their music always puts me in a good mood. Oh and for people that like a more bluesy sound, Serena Ryder. She was the most amazing female singer that I’ve seen live. She is so incredible.
Style Bust: How do you discover new music?
It wasn’t so easy years ago to breakaway from top 40 radio. Outside of sticking by Hanson I was your average teenager brainwashed by consolidated radio and mainstream media. The story behind the music business, specifically the crash of the recording industry I find so compelling. The internet is a truly amazing thing and has allowed me to research and find new artists. I like using Pandora to give me suggestions of bands I would like. I also use Grooveshark, when a friend tells me to check out an artist, that’s a quick way to find and listen to music. Also I have discovered the joy of opening bands, I know most people hate sitting through opening bands but I’m always excited to see a new band. Openers are like a bonus for me. Hanson has introduced me to some truly incredible, little known indie bands. I have them to thank for a lot of the music I listen to.
Style Bust: How has your music taste evolved?
I was able to completely expand my collection more recently. In college I met some friends with a cool indie collection. In particular, Chicago based musician, Louis Holland influenced a lot of what I’m listening to now. I think he’s mostly doing film stuff now but his myspace is definitely worth checking out. He writes some incredible lyrics and you can just feel the emotion in his music. But he has been the first person that I met that has felt the same way about music as me. We had some philosophical discussions about music and its effect on people, emotions and how it means different things to different people. He always respected my musical taste and got me into the band Wilco. Which I wish I had discovered sooner and lived through the makings of each album. But the nice thing about music is it’s timeless, it’s like I may not have lived through the Bob Dylan era but his effect on me is just as strong as if I had.
Photographs: 1. Alisha with Mike Leibovich of Sherwood. 2. Alisha with her friends. 3. Alisha with Taylor Hanson in August, doing a charity walk for AIDS and poverty.