There sure is plenty of time for self-reflection these days. If you are Alina Bea, your internal journey may lead you to find someone that you didn’t expect; her new single, “Split at the Seams,” depicts a brutal dissonance of identity. The Los Angeles-based artist also known as Alina Cutrono was part of SILENTSHOUT until the band’s dissolution, and so she now releases under her solo moniker. Her debut full-length, You Will Learn, is due out May 29.
Chaos attempts to overtake “Split at the Seams” at its most vulnerable moments. The chorus is an adrenaline rush, with thundering production and angular melodies contorting alongside Cutrono’s own movement in the accompanying music video. Reckoning with oneself is difficult enough when you have been actively working toward your true self; to realize that you have never known your own truth is excruciating.
The themes on this track, as well as the rest of the forthcoming record, are personal, as Cutrono explained in our interview below. Read on to discover more about “Split at the Seams,” the video’s Suspiria inspiration, and the inspiration behind You Will Learn.
You are a trained dancer, and this music video, unsurprisingly, relies on both sound and movement. Does your raw creativity favor one discipline or the other?
I grew up doing both and they each feel like essential tools of artistic expression for me. For most of my childhood through my teen years, I thought dance was it. I was hopelessly devoted. Then, around college time, I realized that if I wanted to actually be a professional dancer, I’d have to give up everything else. And although I had been singing and writing music since I was tiny, I didn’t really start playing out and taking it seriously until then. So I made the decision to go to college and start playing in bands and dance became more of a hobby for me. But I’ve always been a very physical performer and when I discovered Kate Bush, I was totally inspired and realized that I had to bring movement into my music performances in a much bigger way. I am still working on integrating these two disciplines even more and this video was a very satisfying project for that reason.
On “Split at the Seams,” dramatic changes in volume and instrumentation feed into a sense of unease, emphasized by the lyrics. One line in particular stands out as an accusation: “…It’s happening/Every time your voice comes out of me.” Who or what is the voice that you are fighting?
This song is about identity and agency. I think most humans like to think that they have some say in who they are. But there are so many factors that contribute. One factor is our genes, handed down by our parents and their parents before them. We are genetically predisposed to have certain personality traits. While this can sometimes be a nice and comforting thing, it can also feel like a terrifying concept.
I read that the inspiration for the video’s choreography comes from Suspiria (2018). I sense that there might be more than just this connection, though.
My sister, Lilly Cutrono, choreographed the dance in the video. She and I were both haunted by the Olga mirror room scene in the remake of Suspiria. In the scene, the dance movements made by one person inflict damage and pain on the woman in the room next door. Her body contorts into unnatural shapes and she is thrown across the room by invisible forces. We wanted to convey the terror of this strange-looking, one-sided fight and connect it to our theme of internal struggle.
You began releasing singles for You Will Learn as SILENTSHOUT, and today you claim them for your solo project, Alina Bea. Do you feel more of a responsibility over the lyrics or sound since the change?
This album was made as a pure collaboration between myself and my producer (and SILENTSHOUT bandmate), Theo Karon. Our creative relationship started as an artist/producer relationship. So when we decided not to work together as a band anymore, it felt natural to both of us to return to that dynamic. We agreed that I should release the record under my own name, since the lyrics are written and delivered in my voice. Although I deeply value his contribution, the songs are very personal to me.
Can you reveal any more details about the forthcoming record?
I started writing the songs on this record pretty soon after Trump got elected, with my 30th birthday following soon after that. I felt a lot of hopelessness and disillusionment, but I also felt like I was finding out who I was and what I wanted and there were positive elements to that, too. You Will Learn, as a title, suggests a promise and a threat. You’re not necessarily going to like what you learn about yourself and the world when you grow up. It was a very dark, but very formative time for me. And I hope that people can relate to the subject matter when it finally comes out. Production-wise, we really pulled out all the stops, with both acoustic and electronic elements, tape loops, vocal effects, and a live string ensemble (something I had never done before). We had a wonderful array of musicians appear on this record. We also put a lot of thought into arranging the songs as a full-length record and it is meant to be consumed that way. I am looking forward to releasing more music videos in the months to come and having a big release show with a large dance component when we are allowed to have shows again!
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photos / Noel David Taylor
story / Zoë Elaine