Arlissa

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Biography

Half German, half American but raised and refined in Crystal Palace, Arlissa looks like a bulletproof pop-star-in-waiting. Don’t let that fool you. Having only just turned twenty, Arlissa’s is a surprisingly turbulent tale of hard-fought independence and maturity, all of which seeps into the emotional core of the appropriately-titled debut album, ‘Battles’.
The past year, however, has gone astonishingly well. Last summer, Nas got wind of one of her demos via a publisher, and asked Arlissa out to L.A to record a one-off collaborative duet, ‘Hard To Love Somebody’. She signed a management deal ... Read more

Half German, half American but raised and refined in Crystal Palace, Arlissa looks like a bulletproof pop-star-in-waiting. Don’t let that fool you. Having only just turned twenty, Arlissa’s is a surprisingly turbulent tale of hard-fought independence and maturity, all of which seeps into the emotional core of the appropriately-titled debut album, ‘Battles’.
The past year, however, has gone astonishingly well. Last summer, Nas got wind of one of her demos via a publisher, and asked Arlissa out to L.A to record a one-off collaborative duet, ‘Hard To Love Somebody’. She signed a management deal between Roc Nation and Three Six Zero, or the team behind everyone from Rita Ora and Jay Z to Calvin Harris and Hurts. Having been longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, Arlissa closed the year as the first ever new artist invited to perform on the Christmas special of Top of the Pops. Less than twelve months previously, she had been working in a clothes shop.
Whilst Arlisssa may have piqued attention with a great collaboration, it’s what she does next that’ll really resonate...and surprise people. “That track was a great opportunity but it’s very much a standalone thing,” she says. “You wouldn’t expect Dido to rap just because she was on Stan!” Arlissa’s solo material has in fact drawn closer comparison to the druidic sound of Florence and The Machine and Kate Bush, and that voice is astonishing: a haunting tremor with incredible range. Yet Arlissa feels like she has just as much in common with her fellow alumni of 2013. “Coming out at the same time as bands like Haim and Disclosure - people who really care about their music - has been fantastic. I get pop music, but not everything has to be superficial. I want people to listen to my record and hear something real.”
Arlissa grew up in Crystal Palace, South London. Her mother was originally from Louisiana, but met her father in his native Frankfurt, before settling in the UK. And whilst the young couple settled in Crystal Palace early on in Arlissa’s life, their annual summer visits to the extended American family would have a lasting impact on their daughter. “I found a giant shotgun under my grandmother’s bed,” Arlissa recalls, “but that’s about all there was to do in our town. Everybody knew everybody’s business and would hang out at gas stations to gossip about it, because there was no real way out: you either married your childhood sweetheart or joined the army.”
As a child, Arlissa was raised with the strange belief that she “hated music”, feeling no connection to the slow-jams that were played in the house. The first song she remembers falling in love with was ‘What’s Up’ by 4 Non Blondes – “it made me realise that everything didn’t have to sound like R&B music. I was suddenly open to the possibility of different genres and also unique ways of singing. But one thing I could never do was sing in front of my family. When I first started to realise that I had a voice, I didn’t want it.”
A musical crossroads presented itself early in Arlissa’s career. Good-looking and over six-feet tall, she worked at Abercrombie and Fitch when she was 16, using her wages to fund studio time. “I guess for those couple of years, I was exposed to that kind of shallow party lifestyle. Everyone from Abercrombie would go to West London clubs like Mahiki wearing skirts that barely covered their arses,” she grimaces. Then, spotted by a manager, she was close to taking up a spot in a girl-band he was putting together. “It wasn’t the life I wanted to be living,” Arlissa says now. “It became clear that I was going to have a particular song or a particular style imposed on me. They just wanted any girl to fill this slot that they had created, and even then, I knew that was nothing like the type of artist that I wanted to be.”
One near industry miss later, and Arlissa continued to juggle her pursuit of music with the more conventional demands of a teenage girl. Around this time, she also began writing songs - simple ballads with guitar and piano. She wanted to encapsulate the tribulations of young love and she had plenty of source material. Much of ‘Battles’ was written in response to the breakdown of Arlissa’s first relationship (of three years). “And he spent every day,” she says, “being jealous and rude to me. The first time I told him I really wanted to try and make music professionally, he just sneered at me, ‘Whatever, so you can just go and marry a footballer?’ He hated when I got a job, and hated when I was doing well.”
Some of the first songs Arlissa wrote detailed this messy patch in her life. ‘Faultline’ sees her tracing the cracks in the relationship back to the first doomed meeting. ‘Writing on the Wall’ is “about accepting that we just didn’t work. The image behind the title is also true: he wrote my name on his bedroom wall, and it was still there after we broke up. It will always be there – even if he paints over it!”And around the time of her breakup, Arlissa also moved out of the family home entirely, making the equally difficult decision to skip university, and take a chance on music instead. “I moved in with a friend and her family in East Ham, where I am now,” she says. “I needed to be in an environment that was more conducive to making music. Everyone must have a time in their life when everything goes wrong, and that was mine.”
Across ‘Battles’, a consistent trend is Arlissa’s ability to turn these universal tales of heartache and independence into something more escapist, uplifting and strong. A turning point proved to be ‘Sticks & Stones’, now Arlissa’s first single, but the song she wrote at her lowest ebb. Its claustrophobic lyrics - “Can’t you understand, I don’t want battles?” - shoves the listener inside a relationship going nowhere. It was her first confessional diary entry to be married to a bigger, epic sound, and one that would provide the eureka moment for recording the album thereafter. “I was listening to a lot of Peter Gabriel and Crystal Fighters – it had to feel really earthy, ethnic and organic. I didn’t want to sound like anyone else on the radio.” And as its evocative tribal rhythms contrasted with the kitchen sink drama of her lyrics, so Arlissa stumbled upon a formula that finally befitted her unique name (it’s pronounced “Arleessa”).
‘Battles’ is an album about growing up and moving on, which is exactly what Arlissa has done. Anthem-in-waiting ‘Braveheart’ was penned in response to the promise of a new relationship. ‘Into The Light’ reflects on fate and change, against an exhilarating Celtic rush. And the soaring ‘Vapour Trails’ picks up just as Arlissa career’s takes flight, asking who will go along with her for the ride. These big sounds are now being set alongside an equally strong aesthetic: in January Arlissa returned to Louisana, filming her debut video for ‘Sticks & Stones’ in Honey Swamp Island (the striking marshlands also depicted in ‘Beasts of The Southern Wild’).
Armed with a dauntingly strong set of songs, Arlissa’s is a voice that she looks set to place firmly on the musical map. She bears a name you might not have heard before, but a sound you will hear a lot of in 2013. “I’ve put everything into this,” she says quite simply, “so if people like it, it will mean the world to me.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Half German, half American but raised and refined in Crystal Palace, Arlissa looks like a bulletproof pop-star-in-waiting. Don’t let that fool you. Having only just turned twenty, Arlissa’s is a surprisingly turbulent tale of hard-fought independence and maturity, all of which seeps into the emotional core of the appropriately-titled debut album, ‘Battles’.
The past year, however, has gone astonishingly well. Last summer, Nas got wind of one of her demos via a publisher, and asked Arlissa out to L.A to record a one-off collaborative duet, ‘Hard To Love Somebody’. She signed a management deal between Roc Nation and Three Six Zero, or the team behind everyone from Rita Ora and Jay Z to Calvin Harris and Hurts. Having been longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, Arlissa closed the year as the first ever new artist invited to perform on the Christmas special of Top of the Pops. Less than twelve months previously, she had been working in a clothes shop.
Whilst Arlisssa may have piqued attention with a great collaboration, it’s what she does next that’ll really resonate...and surprise people. “That track was a great opportunity but it’s very much a standalone thing,” she says. “You wouldn’t expect Dido to rap just because she was on Stan!” Arlissa’s solo material has in fact drawn closer comparison to the druidic sound of Florence and The Machine and Kate Bush, and that voice is astonishing: a haunting tremor with incredible range. Yet Arlissa feels like she has just as much in common with her fellow alumni of 2013. “Coming out at the same time as bands like Haim and Disclosure - people who really care about their music - has been fantastic. I get pop music, but not everything has to be superficial. I want people to listen to my record and hear something real.”
Arlissa grew up in Crystal Palace, South London. Her mother was originally from Louisiana, but met her father in his native Frankfurt, before settling in the UK. And whilst the young couple settled in Crystal Palace early on in Arlissa’s life, their annual summer visits to the extended American family would have a lasting impact on their daughter. “I found a giant shotgun under my grandmother’s bed,” Arlissa recalls, “but that’s about all there was to do in our town. Everybody knew everybody’s business and would hang out at gas stations to gossip about it, because there was no real way out: you either married your childhood sweetheart or joined the army.”
As a child, Arlissa was raised with the strange belief that she “hated music”, feeling no connection to the slow-jams that were played in the house. The first song she remembers falling in love with was ‘What’s Up’ by 4 Non Blondes – “it made me realise that everything didn’t have to sound like R&B music. I was suddenly open to the possibility of different genres and also unique ways of singing. But one thing I could never do was sing in front of my family. When I first started to realise that I had a voice, I didn’t want it.”
A musical crossroads presented itself early in Arlissa’s career. Good-looking and over six-feet tall, she worked at Abercrombie and Fitch when she was 16, using her wages to fund studio time. “I guess for those couple of years, I was exposed to that kind of shallow party lifestyle. Everyone from Abercrombie would go to West London clubs like Mahiki wearing skirts that barely covered their arses,” she grimaces. Then, spotted by a manager, she was close to taking up a spot in a girl-band he was putting together. “It wasn’t the life I wanted to be living,” Arlissa says now. “It became clear that I was going to have a particular song or a particular style imposed on me. They just wanted any girl to fill this slot that they had created, and even then, I knew that was nothing like the type of artist that I wanted to be.”
One near industry miss later, and Arlissa continued to juggle her pursuit of music with the more conventional demands of a teenage girl. Around this time, she also began writing songs - simple ballads with guitar and piano. She wanted to encapsulate the tribulations of young love and she had plenty of source material. Much of ‘Battles’ was written in response to the breakdown of Arlissa’s first relationship (of three years). “And he spent every day,” she says, “being jealous and rude to me. The first time I told him I really wanted to try and make music professionally, he just sneered at me, ‘Whatever, so you can just go and marry a footballer?’ He hated when I got a job, and hated when I was doing well.”
Some of the first songs Arlissa wrote detailed this messy patch in her life. ‘Faultline’ sees her tracing the cracks in the relationship back to the first doomed meeting. ‘Writing on the Wall’ is “about accepting that we just didn’t work. The image behind the title is also true: he wrote my name on his bedroom wall, and it was still there after we broke up. It will always be there – even if he paints over it!”And around the time of her breakup, Arlissa also moved out of the family home entirely, making the equally difficult decision to skip university, and take a chance on music instead. “I moved in with a friend and her family in East Ham, where I am now,” she says. “I needed to be in an environment that was more conducive to making music. Everyone must have a time in their life when everything goes wrong, and that was mine.”
Across ‘Battles’, a consistent trend is Arlissa’s ability to turn these universal tales of heartache and independence into something more escapist, uplifting and strong. A turning point proved to be ‘Sticks & Stones’, now Arlissa’s first single, but the song she wrote at her lowest ebb. Its claustrophobic lyrics - “Can’t you understand, I don’t want battles?” - shoves the listener inside a relationship going nowhere. It was her first confessional diary entry to be married to a bigger, epic sound, and one that would provide the eureka moment for recording the album thereafter. “I was listening to a lot of Peter Gabriel and Crystal Fighters – it had to feel really earthy, ethnic and organic. I didn’t want to sound like anyone else on the radio.” And as its evocative tribal rhythms contrasted with the kitchen sink drama of her lyrics, so Arlissa stumbled upon a formula that finally befitted her unique name (it’s pronounced “Arleessa”).
‘Battles’ is an album about growing up and moving on, which is exactly what Arlissa has done. Anthem-in-waiting ‘Braveheart’ was penned in response to the promise of a new relationship. ‘Into The Light’ reflects on fate and change, against an exhilarating Celtic rush. And the soaring ‘Vapour Trails’ picks up just as Arlissa career’s takes flight, asking who will go along with her for the ride. These big sounds are now being set alongside an equally strong aesthetic: in January Arlissa returned to Louisana, filming her debut video for ‘Sticks & Stones’ in Honey Swamp Island (the striking marshlands also depicted in ‘Beasts of The Southern Wild’).
Armed with a dauntingly strong set of songs, Arlissa’s is a voice that she looks set to place firmly on the musical map. She bears a name you might not have heard before, but a sound you will hear a lot of in 2013. “I’ve put everything into this,” she says quite simply, “so if people like it, it will mean the world to me.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Half German, half American but raised and refined in Crystal Palace, Arlissa looks like a bulletproof pop-star-in-waiting. Don’t let that fool you. Having only just turned twenty, Arlissa’s is a surprisingly turbulent tale of hard-fought independence and maturity, all of which seeps into the emotional core of the appropriately-titled debut album, ‘Battles’.
The past year, however, has gone astonishingly well. Last summer, Nas got wind of one of her demos via a publisher, and asked Arlissa out to L.A to record a one-off collaborative duet, ‘Hard To Love Somebody’. She signed a management deal between Roc Nation and Three Six Zero, or the team behind everyone from Rita Ora and Jay Z to Calvin Harris and Hurts. Having been longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, Arlissa closed the year as the first ever new artist invited to perform on the Christmas special of Top of the Pops. Less than twelve months previously, she had been working in a clothes shop.
Whilst Arlisssa may have piqued attention with a great collaboration, it’s what she does next that’ll really resonate...and surprise people. “That track was a great opportunity but it’s very much a standalone thing,” she says. “You wouldn’t expect Dido to rap just because she was on Stan!” Arlissa’s solo material has in fact drawn closer comparison to the druidic sound of Florence and The Machine and Kate Bush, and that voice is astonishing: a haunting tremor with incredible range. Yet Arlissa feels like she has just as much in common with her fellow alumni of 2013. “Coming out at the same time as bands like Haim and Disclosure - people who really care about their music - has been fantastic. I get pop music, but not everything has to be superficial. I want people to listen to my record and hear something real.”
Arlissa grew up in Crystal Palace, South London. Her mother was originally from Louisiana, but met her father in his native Frankfurt, before settling in the UK. And whilst the young couple settled in Crystal Palace early on in Arlissa’s life, their annual summer visits to the extended American family would have a lasting impact on their daughter. “I found a giant shotgun under my grandmother’s bed,” Arlissa recalls, “but that’s about all there was to do in our town. Everybody knew everybody’s business and would hang out at gas stations to gossip about it, because there was no real way out: you either married your childhood sweetheart or joined the army.”
As a child, Arlissa was raised with the strange belief that she “hated music”, feeling no connection to the slow-jams that were played in the house. The first song she remembers falling in love with was ‘What’s Up’ by 4 Non Blondes – “it made me realise that everything didn’t have to sound like R&B music. I was suddenly open to the possibility of different genres and also unique ways of singing. But one thing I could never do was sing in front of my family. When I first started to realise that I had a voice, I didn’t want it.”
A musical crossroads presented itself early in Arlissa’s career. Good-looking and over six-feet tall, she worked at Abercrombie and Fitch when she was 16, using her wages to fund studio time. “I guess for those couple of years, I was exposed to that kind of shallow party lifestyle. Everyone from Abercrombie would go to West London clubs like Mahiki wearing skirts that barely covered their arses,” she grimaces. Then, spotted by a manager, she was close to taking up a spot in a girl-band he was putting together. “It wasn’t the life I wanted to be living,” Arlissa says now. “It became clear that I was going to have a particular song or a particular style imposed on me. They just wanted any girl to fill this slot that they had created, and even then, I knew that was nothing like the type of artist that I wanted to be.”
One near industry miss later, and Arlissa continued to juggle her pursuit of music with the more conventional demands of a teenage girl. Around this time, she also began writing songs - simple ballads with guitar and piano. She wanted to encapsulate the tribulations of young love and she had plenty of source material. Much of ‘Battles’ was written in response to the breakdown of Arlissa’s first relationship (of three years). “And he spent every day,” she says, “being jealous and rude to me. The first time I told him I really wanted to try and make music professionally, he just sneered at me, ‘Whatever, so you can just go and marry a footballer?’ He hated when I got a job, and hated when I was doing well.”
Some of the first songs Arlissa wrote detailed this messy patch in her life. ‘Faultline’ sees her tracing the cracks in the relationship back to the first doomed meeting. ‘Writing on the Wall’ is “about accepting that we just didn’t work. The image behind the title is also true: he wrote my name on his bedroom wall, and it was still there after we broke up. It will always be there – even if he paints over it!”And around the time of her breakup, Arlissa also moved out of the family home entirely, making the equally difficult decision to skip university, and take a chance on music instead. “I moved in with a friend and her family in East Ham, where I am now,” she says. “I needed to be in an environment that was more conducive to making music. Everyone must have a time in their life when everything goes wrong, and that was mine.”
Across ‘Battles’, a consistent trend is Arlissa’s ability to turn these universal tales of heartache and independence into something more escapist, uplifting and strong. A turning point proved to be ‘Sticks & Stones’, now Arlissa’s first single, but the song she wrote at her lowest ebb. Its claustrophobic lyrics - “Can’t you understand, I don’t want battles?” - shoves the listener inside a relationship going nowhere. It was her first confessional diary entry to be married to a bigger, epic sound, and one that would provide the eureka moment for recording the album thereafter. “I was listening to a lot of Peter Gabriel and Crystal Fighters – it had to feel really earthy, ethnic and organic. I didn’t want to sound like anyone else on the radio.” And as its evocative tribal rhythms contrasted with the kitchen sink drama of her lyrics, so Arlissa stumbled upon a formula that finally befitted her unique name (it’s pronounced “Arleessa”).
‘Battles’ is an album about growing up and moving on, which is exactly what Arlissa has done. Anthem-in-waiting ‘Braveheart’ was penned in response to the promise of a new relationship. ‘Into The Light’ reflects on fate and change, against an exhilarating Celtic rush. And the soaring ‘Vapour Trails’ picks up just as Arlissa career’s takes flight, asking who will go along with her for the ride. These big sounds are now being set alongside an equally strong aesthetic: in January Arlissa returned to Louisana, filming her debut video for ‘Sticks & Stones’ in Honey Swamp Island (the striking marshlands also depicted in ‘Beasts of The Southern Wild’).
Armed with a dauntingly strong set of songs, Arlissa’s is a voice that she looks set to place firmly on the musical map. She bears a name you might not have heard before, but a sound you will hear a lot of in 2013. “I’ve put everything into this,” she says quite simply, “so if people like it, it will mean the world to me.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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