Alyssa Morrissey hails from Peterborough, Ontario. Discovered by songwriter, Cyril Rawson (Reba McEntire, Gretchen Wilson, Lorrie Morgan) Alyssa’s first CD, Let’s Not Call It Love received international airplay and charted in her home country. Her 2nd release, Way To Go was released in 2013. Alyssa is a two-time Wire Awards nominee, and a 2014 Winner!
Alyssa went from singing on boxes at age 3 to winning several singing contests and had her first professional performance at age 12. “Some of my icons are Shania Twain and Jennifer Nettles, for their personalities on stage and their ‘feel’ for a song. Taylor Swift is my personality idol! I think she is such a cleaver and creative person! I think country music is amazing. Everything about it is so real, whether it’s the music or the people singing it. It just feels like home to me, and I love being a part of it.”
Alyssa has recently completed a duet recording with Matt Williams entitled, “Make Love Tonight”. Matt Williams is from Cobourg, Ontario. He plays guitar and sings, as one-third of the country-pop trio, Western Avenue. Western Avenue is a Nashville Universe Award winner, twice-nominated International Music and Entertainment Award nominee, 2014 Independent Country Music Association Award Nominee, and a Country Music Association of Ontario Award nominee. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2013, included the Top 75 Music Row chart and #1 New Music Weekly chart single, “Wherever You Are.”
Matt remembers when he knew music was a path for him. He was 10 years old and received tickets from his parents to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in concert: “As soon as the lights went down, that was it,” Williams said. Two weeks after the Tom Petty show, he took up the guitar. “I had to work really hard at it, but it’s something I persisted at.”
“Make Love Tonight” (MTS Records) was written by Williams, Morrissey, Doug Folkins, and Adam Newcomb. It was recorded at Newcomb Studios in Cobourg, Ontario, with Newcomb producing and mixing, and playing bass and piano. Additional musicians include Newcomb and Williams on guitar, Matt Newcomb on drums and Andy Schick on pedal steel. Adam Newcomb also produced Western Avenue’s debut self-titled release.
Here in an exclusive interview, Alyssa Morrissey tells us about her thoughts and projects.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Alyssa Morrissey: Ever since I can remember I have been singing! My first Professional gig was when I was 11 years old and that was through my Vocal Coach at the time! When I was 15 I was discovered by Songwriter/Producer Cyril Rawson and he took me down to Nashville for the first time where I recorded my first album and everything just started to take off from there.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Alyssa Morrissey: My first few influences I would have to say were Shania Twain, Amanda Marshall and Avril Lavigne.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to, and is there any one of these you’d like to collaborate with?
Alyssa Morrissey: I’m listening to a variety of different artists right now. From Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton to Katy Parry and The Lumineers! And honestly collaborating with any of those would be amazing.
4. During recent years, most genres of popular music are experiencing serious drops in sales, Country music is the only genre actually incrementing it’s market. Do you have any personal ideas on why this is?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think because Country music is basically incorporating every genre these days, that’s making it more generic and relatable to everyone. Also people love to follow trends and right now Country music is definitely a popular trend, so more and more people are giving it a chance and loving it!
5. How was your experience working with Grammy Award winner Glen Duncan and is there anything in particular you learnt from that experience?
Alyssa Morrissey: Glen was amazing to work with and I was so lucky to have him. He went up and beyond with the songs he played on for me and I think without him the songs wouldn’t be the same! What I learned from that experience is that no matter how high the credentials of a session musician they still devote the same love and passion for your work just as they would for a superstar!
6. Live gigging or studio work, which do you prefer and why?
Alyssa Morrissey: I love doing both but the one I prefer the most would have to be live gigging! For me, there’s just something therapeutic about being on stage and putting everything you have into preforming a song. Every song I sing, whether its my own or not I like to be able to relate it to my own experiences so that my emotions come across as believable and real.
7. Could you explain the musical process involved in your songs? Do you write any of the lyrics and music yourself, which usually comes first, or do they arrive as complete packages from outside sources for you to interpret in your manner?
Alyssa Morrissey: My first two albums consisted of songs that I did not write personally but were either written with me in mind or I played a big part in choosing them. For that process again I chose songs that I could best relate to and that I was just passionate about. I am doing my own writing now and I’m still learning a lot of that process. Typically the idea comes first then we work on the lyrics, then once that’s done we work out the melody!
8. On which one of your songs do you personally think you delivered your best performance so far, from a technical and emotional point of view?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think as of right now I would have to say my song Not Afraid To Die. It’s a power ballad so technologically it just has a big production sound to it which really adds to the emotion of the song. Then the lyrics are what I really love. It’s very inspirational and something that means a lot to me, so I was really able to connect with his one emotionally and I think that really came across in the recording.
9. Which ingredient do you think is the most essential in making Alyssa Morrissey’s music, sound the way it does?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think the ingredient would be emotion. Whether is a positive or negative emotion that’s one of the things I strive to put into my music. Like I’ve said previously, making people really believe what I’m singing is important to me and I think it’s something I’m known for!
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion, hysteria or pride etc., and why?
Alyssa Morrissey: Passion. It definitely is a tough business and it can be easy to get discouraged but I think my passion for music and what I do keeps me going and gives me the ability to never give up on it!
11. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think starting to actually see results and building my fan base more and more really excites and inspires me. It helps with every aspect knowing you have people who dig your music and believe in you.
12. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process discourages you most?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think just the fact of knowing there are thousands of amazing musicians out there that haven’t been able to make it can be discouraging for any of us. But what I really try to focus on is what will set me a part from everyone else and to just not give up on it.
13. How involved are you in any of the aspects regarding your musical career (recording, producing, and marketing processes etc.)
Alyssa Morrissey: Right now I’m pretty much involved in every aspect. I have people that help with the producing and recording part of it but I like to have a hand in on all of that.
14. What do think is the best piece of advice in this business you received and actually followed so far, and one piece of advice you didn’t follow, but now know that you should have?
Alyssa Morrissey: A piece of advice that I followed when I first started out and still follow now is “Get as much exposer you can, whether its a paying gig or not, you never know who’s in the audience” and this has found to be very true for me, and its actually those nonpaying gigs that have gotten me so much further! There’s not really any advice that I can think of that I haven’t followed.
15. At this point, as independent artist, is there any aspect or element you consider exclusive to Major label artists that you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit your future?
Alyssa Morrissey: Something that would definitely help would be having that financial backing that Major Label artists get to better promote them and help them reach a broader fan base. That can be hard to do sometimes as a independent artist!
16. Do you consider Internet and all the new technology, as fundamental to your music, or indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre copy-and-paste artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Alyssa Morrissey: I consider the internet and social media incredibly fundamental to any independent artist right now! Like I was saying before, without a lot of financial backing it can be difficult to get your stuff out there to a broader fan base and make yourself known. But now with all the social media outlets we have… That definitely helps to reach out to fans all over the world!
17. You have recently released the duet single, “Make Love Tonight” with Matt Williams. Matt is one-third of the Award Winning Country-Pop trio, Western Avenue. Could you tell us how that collaboration came about?
Alyssa Morrissey: A couple years ago Western Avenue helped me out with a few shows and that’s how I was introduced to Matt. Since then him and I have been doing a lot of shows together and just recently started writing together. Make Love Tonight was the first song we ever wrote together!
18. There has also been a video produced (and currently viewable on Youtube) for the song “Make Love Tonight”? Which means there is obviously a keen mutual interest in the project? Can we expect further collaborations with Matt Williams in the near future?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think so! We love working together and have been doing more writing together, so whether there or more duets or just co-writes… who knows!
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist, in your quest to achieve your goals and attain any significant commercial success?
Alyssa Morrissey: I think the biggest barrier is standing out. There are thousands and thousands of aspiring artists who are trying to make it just like me. So finding that special thing that makes me stand out and be able to crack into that mainstream of already incredible artists is key! And can be easier said than done.
20. One last dilemma. Is going Platinum or winning a Grammy important in your scheme of musical things? And if you were forced to settle for only one choice, which of the two would you ultimately prefer and why?
Alyssa Morrissey: Obviously going Platinum and winning a Grammy would be absolutely a dream come true and if I could do either of those, I would be a very happy girl! But one dream I have always had, is one day being able to accept a big Award like a Grammy and be able to properly thank everyone who has helped me get there from the start and along the way in my acceptance speech. I think just being able to stand on that stage and do that, would symbolize really making it for me.