Those Feels: Snoh Aalegra's Art Is Intertwined With Her Soul

Those Feels: Snoh Aalegra's Art Is Intertwined With Her Soul

An honest conversation with the phenomenal vocalist...

Each of Snoh Aalegra’s project are, as she describes them, “a soundtrack to a time capsule of my life...”

‘Feels’ her first album released in 2017, was a retrospective of a failed relationship. Melancholia, depression, and nostalgia all have a seat at the table of this album lead by Aalegra’s raspy soul voice.

On her newest album ‘Ugh, Those Feels Again’, the singer explores the world of dating, with songs like ‘Situationship’ where she sings the tremendously relatable lines: "I don’t mean to / Go on and confuse you / I know I’m confusing now..."

Often compared to Adele and Amy Winehouse, Snoh created her own little corner of soul/R&B which she names ‘cinematic soul’, in reference to her soundtrack like songs, with strings, choirs and synth pads.

The universe she’s created, one where being in touch with your feelings is the most important aspect, her album flows smoothly, giving her listeners the chance to be part of her world and even at times feel like she’s written the soundtrack especially for them.

Clash sits down with her after a very small but intense European tour in Peckham Levels, an old car park remodelled into hipster-ish cafés and radio stations in a neat pocket of South London.

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How has your tour been?

It’s been super good but very quick! It was only four shows, but it’s been intense because I have been having vocal issues and needed rest constant rest between shows.

How have you coped doing interviews while on vocal rest?

It’s been hard, my songs are really hard to sing as I have a lot of high falsettos. I definitely need seven to eight hours sleep, not to talk too much. All that diva shit! (laughs)

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This new album is all about dating. How have you found being back in that world after a very serious relationship?

I’m in a really good place, I am happier than I ever been. I’m excited about life. I had my head down when I was working on the album. But since I have been talking to people, just being more open to meeting people.

I have had really bad experiences but I don’t want to give up on love. I try to give everyone a chance, and not put my old baggage on someone new.

Your songs are very relatable, especially 'Situationship' which many people seem to go through nowadays. How was living that situationship?

That was a one-time thing. I’m not a very situationship person, I am all or nothing, but it did happen and it was a good experience. I have no regrets.

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You are Swedish-Iranian living in LA at the moment, how do you mix all of these cultures in your personal life? And in your music?

When I was a kid, I didn’t actually think about it that much. I was learning three languages at the same time, and you don’t realize that shit. Now that I am in LA and I uber a lot, I get asked where’s my accent from, and when I say I’m from Sweden the answer is always ‘oh but you don’t look Swedish’ and then I say I’m Iranian, and I just have to explain myself every day.

I try to explain as much as I can about myself through my music, how I present myself, my visuals and even in interviews.

I am proud of my heritage, to be Iranian, be born and raised in Sweden and living in LA doing what I love. I really embrace all three cultures for what they are supposed to be, they all play an important role, and it all make sense.

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Do you find it hard to have producers who understand your point of view, and communicate with them your vision?

When I make music it’s about nothing other than how you are feeling. So, if I vibe with the person I am working with, then we connect.

For your next album you said you were done with the feels, but are you thinking about still keeping soul as a primary genre?

Yes! Soul and R&B is what I do. I haven’t thought about my next album at all, I’ve just dropped this one a month ago so I’m focusing on this one. My songs are about my life, what I’m going through, so now I have to live, and then write.

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Many English artists support you such as Rita Ora and Stormzy. You were also working with Jorja Smith in the studio. Anyone else you would like to collaborate with?

Yes, Jorja and I spent a bit of time in the studio here in the UK, but I am not sure if anything is going to come out of it. I love to collaborate with people! I am big fan of Frank Ocean and Drake and it would be a dream to collaborate with them.

What are your favourite albums of the last two decades?

Anything that Frank Ocean has ever put out, Drake's ‘Nothing Was the Same, ‘More Life’ because I’m sampled on it (laughs)... Adele ‘21’, Amy Winehouse.

It’s hard because my favourite albums are all from the 90’s and 70’s like the ‘Bad’ album or anything that Stevie Wonder has ever put out. I loved Lana Del Rey’s debut album, Kendrick, the Weeknd … Yeah there’s a lot!

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You can see the influence in your songs of a lot of these artists, especially Michael and Stevie, and I know a lot of people compared you to Adele and Amy Winehouse.

The thing is I’m not influenced by them (Adele and Amy Winehouse) despite being a massive fan of them. I am around their age, so I grew up with Whitney, Mariah, Michael, Prince, etc… I’m not influenced by them as much as I am inspired.

So why cinematic soul?

I have always dreamt of making cinematic soundtrack, and having my music fit for a movie. I see it as, everyone’s life is a movie, and I’m writing the soundtrack to my life, each of my projects are like a time capsule of my life. But I love the elements of strings and choirs, that’s the music I fell in love with and I try to incorporate it in my projects.

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Are there any soundtracks or movie composer like Hans Zimmer, that I have helped while writing your music?

So, I am in talks of working with composers in the future!

You said you are always “in your feelings” but what about when you have to deal with things in a business manner, and asset yourself as a woman and an artist?

I’ve learned to that now, I used to act out of emotions. Rather now I try to act out of wisdom, I learned to not take things personally. And it was hard for me to understand that, that in this industry it is all a game, it’s not about me, it’s about everyone else, their jobs, and what they can get out of me.

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You have been in the music industry for a very long time, have you seen a change for women? Is there a certain sisterhood between female artists? 

Yes, I feel like we are in a good place, one where we are being heard. I mean there is a sisterhood between certain artists, and with others it feels very fake. Not many female artists support me, some will send me private messages but won’t support me openly because they feel threatened. And I hate that because I support every person, I am a fan of.

I have been getting quite a lot of support recently as everybody jumps on the bandwagon. But again, that’s me being emotional and the new me don’t give a fuck! (laughs) I welcome everybody!

Do you ever read reviews of your albums?

I do, I’ve read some. Most of them are positive, but I read one where I felt “you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.” They were complaining about my writing saying that I was just filling in words. Every word on my album has a story, meaning for me.

When somebody don’t know you and tries to criticizes you with no background, I can’t respect it. At the same time, I try to never take any critics to heart, whether they are good or negative.

I still appreciate the love though.

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'Ugh, Those Feels Again' is out now.

Words: Noura Ikhlef
Photography: Tyrell Willock

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