story / Koko Ntuen
photos / Landry / WNA
Alani Gibbon is mesmerizing in every sense of the word. Raised by two artisans the stylish yet coltish artist makes music and art under the name ALA.NI and captures the essence of something that Gwyneth Paltrow could easily bottle and sell on GOOP. It’s mysterious, its dainty, it’s like a breeze on a spring night with a hundred-year-old whiskey in a crystal glass while bluebirds sit at your feet. Her devotion to her unique craft seeps through every reverb of her finely tuned voice and couture covered body.
“Cherry Blossom” is a delightful gem off her debut LP You & I out this spring on Missing Piece Records. The collection of music is a beacon of light that streams influences from the past with ALA.NI’s unique and sophisticated arrangement of strings and vocals into a wonderful masterpiece of lullabies. This video establishes Alani as an ethereal visionary. Alani’s angelic face partnered with her haunting vocals will leave you spellbound.
Did the idea for the video of “Cherry Blossom” come to you in a dream?
HA!!! I don’t know is the answer??? I can’t remember???
I am obsessed with Cherry Blossoms. Every year I take a nice moment with them, because they don’t last forever….a good lesson in life. I filmed the cherry blossom shots a year before completing the video. I woke up one sunny spring Saturday morning and headed to my local park, where I proceeded to film, spinning around with my iPad above my head, to an array of very strange looks from passersby.
I looked like a mentalist…maybe I am? The shots of myself were filmed a year later against a wall in my friends flat. He was out. I moved the furniture. He had no idea of the chaos caused. I had the joy of being in Japan last Spring. Fully enveloped in pink blossom. It was magical.
Did your parents sing you lullabyes as a baby?
I think my mum would. I vaguely remember some old Caribbean folk songs being sang to me. My St Lucian Uncle would sing us a beautiful folk lullaby in French patois. We would request this on repeat as children.I love singing lullabies to babies. When they fall asleep to my voice, the resonance from my chest to their ears, its such a nice feeling. “Baby mine” is a personal favourite.
What drove you at an early age to create?
I was an only child until the age of 10, so I spent a lot of my formative years very much in my own imagination. I still very much live in this place. Some kind of arrested development I guess.I was a curious child too and went to theatre school from the age of 5, so it’s all I’ve ever really known how to do. Be freely creative.
Your parents are both fantastic artists, were you ever encouraged to go into another field?
I was encouraged by both of my parents to be adventurous and try anything at least once.
Going to the specialist school that I attended meant that I got to do what I wanted to do everyday. Sing, dance, (ballet, jazz, tap), act, mime. I did delve into the fashion world once, with my mum’s full support and guidance as she works in the couture fashion industry. It wasn’t for me, but I learned so much about how to brand something.
I’ve taken this learning into my music. It must and always will come back to music. I’m miserable without it.
I love the combination of the guitar and harp, particularly the harp which is seldom used, and the blend of those two string instruments. What is your favorite instrument to sing along to?
I love the harp too! Its so vast, so many strings! Yet soft and gentle and not as intrusive as a piano.I’m currently really liking my voice and cello.
You always seem so happy when you sing ‘Cherry Blossom’ do you think of different people, places, ideas everytime you sing it?
What a personal question…and the answer is yes to all. I really enjoy singing this song, as it’s about the first moment you set eyes on your love.I believe in true love, so it makes me happy. I smile.
What appeals to you about the history? Based on the nods to the past we see in your art, films and music.
I didn’t set out to make a “nostalgic “ album or project. I just wanted to keep things bare and lo-fi. No computer music. No BPM. No drums. No effects. Just one take, real time songs. No money, meant that I shot most of my videos myself on my iPad. I like working with no budget as you have to think in a completely different way. Be resourceful.
I was actually going to use the microphone from my iPad on the album, as I did all my acapella demos on with it and I loved all the noise and hissing. I ended up using an old RCA BX44 that I went to hunt out in Munich. THE MONSTER MIC!!!!
How do you feel in the modern age?
Lost and FUCKED!!!! We’ve all moved so quickly, we are forgetting what it means to be human….we are slowly, but surely, turning ROBOTS!
As a creative, how do you approach your new projects from an organizational point of view, do you use google docs?
Not being much of a tech head, I’m not even sure how Google Docs would facilitate my songwriting process? I’m currently starting to work on a new album project. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
The first thing I get is a fresh new writing pad. I’m quite partial to a Moleskine. Plain paper, no lines. It messes with my eyes. I can’t write lyrics on a computer. Doesn’t feel right. My writing pad from the “You & I” album makes me laugh. It is ridiculously organized.I colour coded studio sessions/ musicians. Had timelines. Spider graphs. All the workings of the songs are in this book. Poems. Wish lists. Game plans.It’s interesting to review.
What does your desktop look like? Are you super organized?
I am a bit of a perfectionist. A little OCD. Im a virgo…but my desktop is a FUCKING MESS!
This is it at it worst. There is some kind order. Music to the left, other shit to the right.
Where would be your dream place to perform if space, time, atmosphere were not an object?
Sydney Opera House or Carnegie Hall are obvious ones. Oh..WOODSTOCK too. Super high on life.
I love spaces with big natural reverb, so maybe a massive underground natural cave with water rippling through it.