Published on November 24th, 2020 | by MuzikScribe0
Allure: The Story
Where have you all been? And what exactly had / have y’all been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, over the course of the past decade?
Alia: When people asks us this, it always makes us chuckle. Through everything, we never went anywhere. We still travel, do shows and make appearances. We are still recording and doing what we love. We are all moms; Akissa is a grandma actually, so family is a huge part of our lives. We know to the world it may seem as if we took a break because we didn’t bring out official music in the last decade, but we always kept our fans and musical loves happy by continuing our musical journey through our live performances.
Initially, you all landed your first recording contract via Mariah Carey’s then boutique imprint Crave Records — What particular string of events actually led to this musical union?
Lala: To be completely accurate, a lot of people don’t know our first recording contract was with LaFace Records, and we signed to L.A. Reid. While The Trackmasters were in SONY Studios mixing our songs, “Mama Said” and “The Story” from our debut album, Mariah happened to hear the songs and asked who were singing and (if she) could meet us. The meeting was set up, we sang live for her, and an agreement was made for us to be released from LaFace and then signed to our second label deal with Crave Records.
You all were later dropped and eventually scored a new deal with MCA Records for your 2nd album, Sunny Days. Talk to me about this transitional period in y’all’s career…
Akissa: Well after everything ended with Crave, we were just confused. What we weren’t confused about was the fact that we still had to work. We weren’t done yet. We caught the attention of Jeff Redd over at MCA, and started the process recording our sophomore album, Sunny Days. We did some writing and also worked with some pretty dope writers and producers. We released our single, “Enjoy Yourself,” which did very well. Most people didn’t even know it was us. Shortly into promoting the album, 9/11 happened. Promotion dwindled and realistically it wasn’t a good tie for music, but we do thank those who supported the album…and till this day love “Enjoy Yourself.” We are still very proud of the project, despite the fact that not many knew about it.
Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did y’all first become interested in it? And how did it all begin for Allure?
Alia: Music for us was always around. Our families loved music, so we grew up in the households where music was everything; from Gospel to Jazz, R&B, all of it. We were always the entertainment at family gatherings, but it didn’t really hit us that we should take it seriously until we were in high school. Then, our families pushed us into the direction of taking it more seriously. So we did, and with a lot of rehearsals at a community center in the Bronx and through a mutual friend we met from The Trackmasters, and our professional music journey began…and, oh, what a journey (it) has been.
Now y’all are natives of NYC, correct? So growing up in “The Big Apple,” who all did / do you all consider to be your strongest musical influences?
Lala: Correct. Alia is from Brooklyn, Akissa is from Spanish Harlem, and I am from the Boogie Down Bronx; you know the borough where Hip Hop was born 😉 As you may know, New York is definitely the melting pot of culture and our musical influences are similar. We’ve been inspired from Sarah Vaughan, Celia Cruz to Mahalia Jackson…but collectively we would have to say En Vogue, The Temptations and The Clark Sisters. We honestly could go on and on about this subject. We recently did a photoshoot paying homage to Ms. Diana Ross, Ms. Phyllis Hyman and Ms. Chaka Khan. So this question is really endless. There are so many icons, and some who haven’t reached iconic status that have attributed to our sounds, needs and quest for tight harmonies.
Where does your moniker originally derive from?
Alia: Poke from The Trackmasters actually gave us our name, because he was not feeling the name we had; So-N-Tense. [Shh…don’t tell anybody! 😂] He felt our names should represent who we were and our sound, so he came up with the name Allure. God blessed him because So-N-Tense was not it!!
Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more so you all as individuals, either changed and / or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Akissa: We think that music has changed drastically. We’re pretty “old school,” and just have a lot of love for the classics. So although some of what’s out we like, there is a lot of it that you wouldn’t really find in our playlists. We respect all artists and their music, even if we don’t understand. Just as we’ve always known everyone won’t necessarily like what we do. We’ve grown as women, so we love to sing about things we’ve been through and hope that people can relate, while still finding a happy medium between what we love and what may be trendy if you will. One thing we will never do is conform and be who we’re not.
Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
Alia: We attribute our longevity to our faith in God, and our love for each other. We truly couldn’t or wouldn’t have made it through if we allowed all that was coming at us to tear us apart. We each had our moments of wanting to say, “the hell with this,” but our love for each other and the music kept us going. Our fans who kept asking for our music – whether it be old or new – are the reason why we are still here to this day.
What do you all want people to get from your music?
Lala: What we want people to get from our music is essentially the message of LOVE…whether it’s self love and loving yourself first…falling out of love…falling in love…we even made sure that after our debut album, Sunny Days and Chapter 3 had a Gospel interlude. Which shows our foundation and love for God. We really want to be known for contributing timeless songs with meaningful message to the music industry.
Is there a hidden meaning / message in any of your music?
Akissa: Our music is always pretty self-explanatory. We talk a lot about love. Real life experiences. We aren’t afraid to be transparent, and love for that to always show in our music. Even (if) it’s a fun vibe. We just want people to feel it, and if they do then we feel like we’ve done our job with putting out a good vibe. That’s all we’ve ever really wanted.
As songwriters, where do you all actually draw inspiration from…and please explain your overall creative process?
Alia: It’s funny (no matter) who writes, it always comes from an experience. We are women of a certain age that have been through some shit! So relationships and life always gets a song out of us. We start off by listening to the music and how it makes us feel; what emotion does it bring out, and then we decide our subject…and from there we just flow.
Do you all have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
Akissa: As kids, we all wanted to pursue different careers. Music just took over. We’ve always had aspirations with acting and being advocates for causes; such as lupus, autism, breast cancer, just to name a few. Honestly, we’re ready to do whatever it is that God has planned for us.
What has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
Lala: I think our greatest career achievement has been performing (for) our troops overseas. Just being able to boost their morale, and tie them a piece of home through our music and performances was priceless. They are continuously on the frontline, and sacrificing for us to be able to live in a free country. They appreciated us, and we truly appreciated them.
Akissa: I always say that I am super proud of us, and everything we have accomplished. Never dreamed that I would ever see the world, and have everyone singing our music. I know that there is probably so much left for us to accomplish still. I’m just thankful to be doing it all with my sisters. Sky’s the limit!
Alia: My greatest achievement I would have to say was recording a song with Tom Jones called “Letter,” and it was produced by Wyclef Jean. He is an icon, so to have someone that our grandparents and parents loved wanting us on a song was a huge honor.
Please discuss how you all interact with and respond to fans?
Akissa: We definitely try our best to interact with fans as often as possible. We try to respond to as many social media posts and comments. We’ve always had a very strong relationship with our fans. We hate to be told that we can’t take pics or stop and talk, although we know we still have to respect security and take caution. We just love our fans and appreciate how they love and support us. That means the world to us and keeps us going.
Now having first been signed to Mariah’s now defunct Crave imprint through SONY Music, it is my understanding that you all have been feeling a bit of disappointment, to say the least, seeing that you all were slighted by not having been mentioned in her semi-recently released autobiography, The Meaning of Mariah Carey — Care to elaborate on said situation?
Akissa: We have always been straight to the point; I said what I said kind of people 😂 We responded to the details of the book the same way anyone would respond to anything that would affect them emotionally. With that being said, we definitely knew that people would have something to say. At the end of the day, our story is just THAT and no one can tell it the best way we could. Our point pretty much went over lots of peoples’ heads. We weren’t upset about her not mentioning us. Our thing is if you’re going to mention something that is directly connected to us and lie about the details such as “who was your first signed artists that was on your label” just to segue-way to other details in your life, we’re going to say how we feel. Can we write our own memoir as everyone suggested, ABSOLUTELY! But until then if you’re going to mention something that we’re connected to, we have a right to say our say the same way millions of fans say their opinion about how we felt. We don’t feel like anyone owes us anything, but what we do know is that we worked hard to get to where we are now. Nothing was handed to us, and the least someone can do is give us credit where our credit is due; the same way any other artist would want that for themselves. We never discredit anyone that we work with, whether it was a good relationship or not. Everyone who has written for us, produced for us, is just as much a part of our journey. Just tell the truth. ‘Cause we always will. Point blank!
What an average day for Allure?
Lala: An average day looks like…remote learning with my son that involves becoming the teacher aid, the cafeteria staff and principal, all rolled into one person 😂 Some days aren’t so smooth, but we manage. Then it’s Zoom meetings, brainstorming and remaining driven, while adding some humor. There’s never a dull moment.
Akissa: I thank God for waking me up, so that I can focus on more things to get done. My daughter and I get some school work with my grandson. I may do some writing; whether musical or just in my journal. I spend lots of time with family, but also try to make time for me. We all face our own battles, and I think it’s very important to focus on yourself as well.
Alia: On an average day for us, first and foremost due to Covid, is early remote learning with the kids. We are then back and forth with each other getting concepts together for our up ‘n’ coming podcast, GAG [Grown Ass Girls], and just keeping our brand moving. Like I said, we are mommies, so the households have to be taken care of; such as cooking, cleaning and a whole lot of yelling 😂 Then back to our Allure grind.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Why?
Alia: My favorite part of our line of work is knowing that we have touched many lives through songs. It fills up our hearts every time one of our fans tells us how a song got them through a difficult time, or how a song touched them in some way. That means everything to us; it’s greater than any award or accolade because we love our fans so much. The worse part of the music business is just that, THE BUSINESS. It saddens us that behind the scenes the music business is just so dirty, and artists go through a lot of shady and unfair bullshit when all they want to do is be creative.
Speaking of that, when’s the last time you all seen or spoke to Miss Carey?
Alia: The last time we’ve seen Mariah Carey was at a show we had in 2001 for WBLS. No words were said.
On a lighter and brighter note, “Head Over Heels” and y’all’s remake of the Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force classic, “All Cried Out,” featuring 112 and taken from your self-titled gold certified debut, are signature Allure songs — How did these two stand out tracks come about? Who came up with the concepts? And, please describe for me the overall studio vibe on those fateful days?
Alia: We were already almost done with our first album, but the track for “Head Over Heels” Trackmasters was stuck trying to find a song that fit the music another songwriter had written to it, but they didn’t love it enough…and by that time we were signed to Mariah, so Trackmasters asked her to write to it and then Nas blessed us with his flow and we loved it! The vibes in the studio that day was a whole lot of fun and laughter.
…”All Cried Out” was Mariah’s idea. We were in the studio, and she said we should do a remake and she started singing the Full Force part of the song and it was hilarious! After our laughs, we said that would be dope but who would we get for the male part? And we were throwing out ideas; like Boyz II Men, and then she said how about that group on Bad Boy, 112? And we were all for it, and we are so thankful to Lisa Lisa and Full Force for giving us their blessing to (do the) record over.
What advice would you all have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Lala: Advice I would have for someone wanting to follow in our footsteps is…surround yourself with people you trust and that have your best interest. You need people to tell you when you are absolutely wrong, and not kiss your ass just to be a part. Believe in yourself. There is no such thing as losing; you only learn from your mistakes. Keep God first!
Lastly, what’s next for Allure?
Akissa / Lala / Alia: We are out to get everything God has for us. We know our story isn’t over yet. We’re just ready to tell it how it should be told. In the meantime, look out for GAG!
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