We absolutely love discovering new artists and talking to creators from all over the world and this week we were able to have a quick catch up with Toronto/LA based musician Ally Sereda a.k.a “SEREDA”. Sereda’s opera and gospel trained voice pushes the usual boundaries of pop songs. Her extensive vocal range and the moody element to her first single “I Got You” is expressive and downright catchy. For Sereda, creating music is “the process of turning feelings into sounds,” which is true for her first single.
“I’m usually thinking about a person in my life or an event that moves me to the point that I write something down about it,” she said.
“My favourite way of writing songs is to hear the chords, and then freestyle the song down on the mic the first time.”
As the creative world and event of globalisation is allowing thousands of people to share what they have created, it’s especially hard to set yourself apart from anyone else. This is true for photographers, designers, musicians and painters. With YouTube dominating global searches and with streaming services like Soundcloud and Spotify, it’s becoming easier than ever to discover new talent. However, it’s often “crippling to get going” for an artist.
“Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. That’s all you can really offer that no one else but you has. And don’t listen to people who tell you that you need to sound like anyone else, or like what’s current (especially when you’re undeveloped and just getting started in the industry).”
“It’s a trap. Do you until you’re comfortable you’ve developed your style to your satisfaction, then share it with the world.”
Self confidence and self belief can be two things artists have to deal with on a weekly basis. Self critiquing can be good in some ways as it allows you to improve your work, but it can often lead to feelings of disappointment and anger; especially when an artist is starting out.
“…especially now, when most aspiring artists have more or less one choice, upload a song to Soundcloud and pray anyone will even listen to it,” she said.
“But at the same time, I do believe in myself. You just jump. I try not to worry if what I’m doing is any good or not, and just do it. That might sound crazy, but what else can you do? I can’t change if someone likes or hates what I’m doing with my life or my music.”
Another factor that threatens self-confidence and self belief is being a female artist in the music and movie industry. Both industries are rife with sexism and prejudice towards women*, sexual harassment and horrible displays of people abusing power to get what they want. I have had my share of sexual harassment as a female journalist and photographer and as a female within society in general, so I can only imagine what it would be like in industries that involve a lot of money, fame and power.
“It can be hell. To be honest I don’t know a girl who hasn’t experienced (prejudice or sexism). So if you’re a girl and you’re thinking about getting into music, get your armour on because it’s a very long, sometimes painful road and some guys react pretty badly when you say no.”
“Don’t let it stop you. It’s hard to get respect. In many cases you won’t be given the same opportunities as men, especially as a producer/engineer, and even as a writer.”
“If you encounter that, just search elsewhere for people willing to give you respect, and do good work with them. Don’t waste time trying to please people or work with people who will never give you a fair chance.”
As an any artist will probably tell you, there will always be obstacles, hoops and walls in the way of achieving goals, wants and desires. It takes guts, hard work and dedication – as told by the many artists, photographers and musicians we have interviewed. For Sereda, her way of overcoming any hurdles that come her way is by knowing that she has nothing to lose.
“Life is too short, and in the grand scheme of things, obstacles will come and go. If you let them consume you, you’ll be missing out on the parts of life that make it worth living.”
This idea is the same sentiment expressed by many interviewees we have featured in the past. Obstacles are there for a reason; often to challenge you and to make you a better person. You can face the challenge, accept it’s going to be hard and tackle it head on; or give up. How you overcome challenges often displays true character.
When interviewing artists, I love hearing what that they are most proud of. It allows someone to reflect and choose a significant part of who they are that they love. As her first album comes closer to dropping, Sereda mentioned that the development of her own personal style and how that is evolving is something she’s incredibly proud of.
“I’m also proud of how far I’ve come as an engineer and producer myself. I feel empowered and confident in my creation because I took the time to learn the tools I needed to maintain control over my sound.”
Sereda’s own sound, as heard in “I Got You” is a mix between pop and opera, which she’s called “popra”. And in regards to how music has changed over the past 10-15 years, Sereda believes that more people are going out on their own and “doing what they want”.
“It’s kind of like urban pop / opera, and combines the two,” she said.
“I’m excited about it now and embracing it. There’s going to be more of that style on my upcoming EP.”
“I think more and more people are doing what they want, not what they’re told they should do by others. That’s just how I feel about the world these days. That applies to making music, too. At least that’s how I feel personally.
“I just hope the internet doesn’t become so controlled by algorithms that unknown artists can never break through using it. Because so far the internet has been the most important tool for me to get my own music heard. I hope going forward artists will still be able to use it effectively.”
You can listen, watch and follow anything Sereda at any of her social channels below. Make sure to stay tuned for her album coming out this December.