Since her successful run on The Voice (Season 9), Siahna has continued to hone her singer-songwriter skills. With her recently released 6-song EP Untouchable, the jazz and soul loving songstress is adding a bit of pop flavor to her repertoire. My audio interview (apologies for quality as it was a phoner) with Siahna, as well as the transcription, is found after the jump!
***This interview was conducted February 18th. For more info on Siahna’s music and new EP, check out siahna.com
How have the last few weeks been for you schedule wise with the release of ‘Untouchable’ and your various engagements?
Honestly, these last couple of weeks have been probably the most stressful time of my entire life because I’ve been rehearsing so often. I (recently) had my show at the Hard Rock and (the other night) I did a benefit concert for my community. They were basically in the same week. So I had to rehearse for both of those (events).
I’d drive to Seattle and rehearse. I’m still in high school right now so I’m taking a bunch of online classes so I had to do homework and then I had to go right out to rehearsal again.
It was really, really fun because I’m working with a bunch of musicians that I’m meeting around my area. It’s just been a very busy time and I’m just having the time of my life – even though it’s a little stressful!
What music lessons did you learn while recording EP?
The number one lesson that I’ve learned is if you have an idea – if you write out the song and you see it in a certain way, that does not mean that is how it is going to end up. It starts out as a skeleton and then you keep adding layers and layers. I learned that songs can start out one way but completely end up a completely different way. So that was really interesting for me.
Speaking of interesting, can you talk about shooting your music video for Warrior? What was that experience like for you?
Shooting the video was completely eye opening because when you watch the video, it kind of looks like I’m in a desert and industrial kind of scene. We actually shot everything in Washington state and that’s where I’m from.
I kind of have a negative outlook on Washington because I’m not a big fan of the rain! I thought Washington was just cloudy and rainy everywhere. In reality, we went to eastern Washington and there were windmills and it was a desert. It was amazing to see more of the state that I grew up in and I worked with a lot of awesome people on the project as well.
Can you name a couple of places in Washington that you love?
A place that I really enjoy going to is this place in Seattle called Discovery Park. My brother and I found it one day and you can see – it’s the Puget Sound so you can see the ocean, and there’s a lighthouse. It’s just really calming there and it brings good memories to me because my brother is basically my best friend. When I go there, I always feel really happy. Washington has so much nature and let me tell you, it’s the best air you will ever breathe in your life! Where are you from?
I’m from L.A., so when you came down for The Voice, was it hard to breathe the air?
It’s so different. I actually performed in Las Vegas in October and it smells like smoke everywhere and you feel so dried up. And when you get off the plane in Seattle, it feels like you’re born again and you can breathe in the air. It’s that different!
Has your musical palette increased over the last time we talked? I remember you being a huge fan of Billy Joel and Amy Winehouse.
To be honest, I’ve always been pretty close minded with how I saw myself musically. I thought I had it planned out for me. I thought I was going to be just a jazzy, soulful singer but from this past year, that’s definitely still my foundation. But I definitely started listening to more pop music. Someone right now who I am really loving is Lady Gaga.
Her new album, Joanne, is so different from her other stuff and if you listen to the lyrics – it’s amazing. She worked with Mark Ronson on the album. She also inspired me because she did an album with Tony Bennett so that brings it back to my jazz influences. I just think it’s so cool at how versatile she is, and she’s definitely an inspiration for me.
Another person is Bruno Mars. I’m convinced I’m going to marry him, but I can’t convince the rest of my family, but I love his music so much!
What can people expect from your EP?
This EP is definitely in the pop realm. My voice is more sultry so it still has that aspect of it, and there’s some electronic aspects with the instrumentals. It’s kind of poppy and alternative at the same time. So that’s what they can expect.
Jumping a few steps ahead, do you see yourself recording albums that take different musical directions?
That is actually exactly what I want. (The other night), as I was saying, I did a benefit concert. This concert in particular was really special to me because I got to do it with a live band and I got to actually plan out the set list. I did some country songs like “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, some jazz songs, Stevie Wonder songs, I did pop songs, and I even did some of my originals. Just how Lady Gaga performed with Metallica at the Grammys this year – I think what she wanted to do with that was show people how extremely versatile she is. That’s definitely one of my goals.
Looking back on The Voice, do you see a change in yourself as a performer?
I just feel myself being more comfortable on stage. I always tell people that I’m a singer so I’m kind of an awkward person when I speak on the stage. I found that the more I perform, the more comfortable I am to ask people join in on songs or just talk to the audience.
Since I’ve been rehearsing so much, I’ve found that my vocals are a lot stronger. I can really see myself improving so I’m really proud of that.
Is there a favorite and least part of this process for you?
There are different aspects to each of them. There’s stuff you really like about one part and stuff that is not your favorite part. For performing live, I love getting on stage and interacting with people but sometimes the hours and hours of work you put into it, it’s like ‘oh my gosh, this is exhausting!’ With songwriting, sometimes you just kind of get writer’s block but it’s all worth it when you write that one line that changes the whole song.
I love every bit of it. There are just some bits I just like a little more!
What’s it like having the support of your family?
I grew up with the most amazing family you could possibly think of. I’m actually half-Korean and half French Canadian. When you meet my dad, when you think of a stereotypical Asian parent – he’s the exact opposite of that. He’s one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s just a little crazy but I love him to death. From my early childhood, him and my mom just pushed me and my brothers to pursue our passions.
One my brothers – he’s so funny and he’s living in L.A. right now. His passion is to become an actor or a comedian and my dad and my mom are 100% supportive of him just like they are with me. My other brother, he’s completely different from us. He’s incredibly smart and he’s actually a nuclear engineer. My parents just let us do our thing and they raised so well and they know that we’ll do just our best.
This first question is possibly the favorite question I’ve ever been asked because music is my passion but food – that is my heart! That is my favorite thing to talk about. Korean food is some of the best food you will ever eat in your life. My grandma she makes – if you go to a Korean restaurant, that’s great – but there’s nothing when you come home and your mom makes your favorite food. My grandma she puts her heart into the food that she’s making. My favorite Korean food would have to be – there’s this thing called soon dubu – do you know what that is?
I love soon dubu!
Yeah. that is my favorite. Since Washington is rainy all the time so some hot soon dubu is the best thing.
And favorite song from Untouchable?
My favorite song would probably have to be – I really like “Circus.” When I wrote that song, I envisioned the music video for that. (It had) a Tim Burton kind of feel. It’s like darker – I was thinking kind of a freak show thing. Whenever I sing “Circus,” that’s what I envision. I just really like singing that song.
Thank you so much for your time Siahna, best of luck, and hope to talk to you down the road!
Thank you every much – yeah definitely!