Alicia Lemke, a.k.a. ALICIA, may be more enthusiastic about her work than any other musician I’ve spoken to in my life… and that’s pretty cool. She’s quite excited and thankful to have the opportunity to be able to explore her loves as a professional musician in a time when work in “the arts” seems to be somewhat bleak, even among those who have been on the scene for years and/or decades. However, Alicia hadn’t always been poised to be a professional musician. She actually got a degree in Biology and Theater at Swarthmore but, after a string of coincidences, she kind of fell into it… not that she was exactly shocked.
“I got a degree in something else, but I always seemed to gravitate toward the stage and performing. If I was playing saxophone or playing in a jazz band, I would always prioritize that over everything else… There’s no place I’d rather be than onstage,” she tells me. “I kind of stumbled into writing and then it was like, ‘This is absolutely what I should be doing for the rest of my life.’ I’m pleasantly surprised with all of it,” she explains. However, her initial degrees haven’t been rendered useless to her these days. In fact, one of them is finding itself at the forefront of her musical work: “In general, my biggest inspiration is the Earth, having studied biology as an undergrad.” She tells me she’s interested in “creating an environment for people,” with her music, describing it as having “Thick, dense vocals, creating this ‘world.’”
“Musically, I’m attracted to an amalgamation of all kinds of music,” Alicia tells me, going on to say she is a big fan of folk, pop, and jazz. More specifically, she’s very influenced by “The forcefulness behind Florence and the Machine,” Bon Iver (“Really good example of someone who creates an environment.”), and Imogen Heap (“A person who affects her voice. I find that very exciting.”)
Alicia is yet to release a full-length, but has put out a handful of EPs and singles, which seems to be what she’s most comfortable with for the time being: “I have to create in order to evolve. I have to just put them out and get them out of my system. When it comes to the EPs, I had outgrown them by the time I put them out.” So, for the time being, she’s happiest releasing her songs, “Single-by-single… I will probably release an EP-worth of singles.” But she does assure me, however, that there will eventually be an LP
Alicia described her two most recent singles, “Luminous” and “Higher” as, “Big, drum-driven, ethereal worlds.” “Luminous” is… quite a bit luminous. It’s delicately and epically whimsical, with a playful piano gradually giving way to pounding drums and frantic strums of a guitar. It has a folksy core, but an other-worldly shell. “Higher” sonically cascades like a space age gospel… or a mass parade, unafraid at the end of the world. She feels as though these songs are her best and most confessional to-date: “I listen to these songs and I’m like, ‘That’s my soul.’”
Although we won’t, likely, see ALICIA in-person before the year’s end, she tells me that she plans on, “Extensive touring in 2013… I’m currently spending a lot of time writing.” As for 2012, Alicia considers her biggest highlight to be her musical partnership with her producer, Nick Paul (who plays piano in St. Lucia): “Taking a musical stride with him has definitely been the highlight of my year. I feel like I’ve really come into my own as a writer. When you find a collaborator and hit a stride with that person, there’s nothing more exciting than that… I’m very grateful for him.”