It wouldn’t be a stretch to call ALYA a performance artist rather than a musician. While she is a songstress, the term just doesn’t seem big enough to hold every bit of her. It’s not grandiose enough, not monumental enough to adequately convey just how magical she truly is.
Here at BASIC, we are certifiably in love – with her sound, her personal style, and her avant garde approach to visuals and music.
As you can imagine, we’re pretty visually oriented (we are an art and fashion magazine, after all), so before even hearing ALYA, we saw her. What was supposed to be a quick scroll through Instagram turned into an in-depth obsession over her surrealist presentation. ALYA – who herself is a pretty blonde with an Old Hollywood/silent film star sort of beauty – is not afraid to get weird. Her feed paces itself like a to-be-continued visual narrative, where figures reminiscent of white futuristic mummies accompany her on adventures. Maybe they’re doppelgängers, maybe they’re split personalities or even dissociative minions, but they join her on her journey, pushing, pulling, spinning with her through the world and acting out fictions on her behalf. It feels a little like if Cindy Sherman had made her film stills series during the Dadaist movement – and we are here for it.
The main reason ALYA landed on our radar was for her recently released music video accompanying her single “Animals.” Her surreal offerings clearly are applicable to the way she wants her music to be consumed. Setting the stage with dramatic, sweeping footage of a castle that wouldn’t be out of place in a Grimms’ fairy tale, what follows is a musical fable that is viscerally disturbing, arousing, and hypnagogic. ALYA sings from her place of being trophy mounted on a wall. With a few others mounted besides her, other humans appear in the frame, either captured in cages or squirming in tanks. These scenes are cut with a looming feeling of being hunted, and a foreboding scaly tale that slithers menacingly through the mansion’s hallways. Humans are, quite clearly, the prey. It’s four minutes eight seconds of art film, and truly, everything ALYA touches is a bit cinematic, but strength.
The rich, textural sound of the track itself appeals to an indistinct inner animal as well, sometimes stretching for lengths languid like a cat in the sun, and other times sprinting forward like the racing heart of an antelope. It’s clear that ALYA is interested in blending and bending genres – electronica, jazz, modern pop, indie. It’s dystopian rather than utopian, and she’s been quoted saying she wants an audience to imagine music with “no fear, no boundaries, and no rules.” Her work is associative, and while it may harken to other inspirations, it will also remind you of nothing in particular – such is the effect of her unique gift. It’s an easy comparison to link her to reigning queen of ethereal quirkiness, Bjork, but it would also be too easy, you know? ALYA is a creature all her own