Jerrica Alyssa has no regrets. She doesn’t regret abandoning her genetics degree from the University of British Columbia to pursue her passion of music, she doesn’t regret embracing the new adventure her fifth single “Ride” has taken her on and she doesn’t regret leaving her hometown of Vancouver to fully immerse herself in an environment of like-minded creatives and artists in Nashville. I got the chance to talk with her about music-filled childhood, the inspiration behind her new single, “Ride,” her move to Nashville and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
As a child, my home was always filled with music. My parents were always playing classic pop and R&B records, like Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Aretha Franklin. I actually come from a Filipino family, so we always loved to sing and dance. So I would put on shows and sing and dance for my family and that was the beginning of my musical journey. Music has always been the center of my life and now I get to express it through my own music.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
My grandma was a classical pianist and my father was a singer, so lucky for me, they put me in lessons really early. So I don’t really remember a time when music wasn’t the center of my life. Professionally, I actually started dancing when I was young; I’m a Polynesian dancer. I still dance some now too, but my first work in the entertainment industry was dancing and touring internationally when I was a teenager. On these tours, my mentor would also get me to sing and perform. So I felt like it was also a natural transition for me to do this because I really loved it.
So it just kind of effortlessly went from dancing all over to world to music?
Yeah, I would say so. It’s kind of funny. I was reading your bio on the website and I saw that you said, “you could have been a doctor but you’re doing entertainment writing” or something like that. I kind of have a similar story too. There was a time where my parents wanted me to follow that path too. They would say, “Oh well why don’t you consider being a doctor?” or things like that. So I went to university for genetics. Optometry was one of the things I was looking at doing [afterwards]. I did a couple of interviews around the country, but it was totally at that point where I was like, “No, music is too big in my life to want to switch over and pursue that.” So I kind of left that part of my life and transitioned to what I’ve always been comfortable doing: music.
That’s awesome. You don’t regret getting a degree in something that you’ve never used since then?[laughs] You know, I don’t actually. I feel like those skills that you learn in school, it just transfers over to everything else. It’s totally helped me. I’m really proud of it and I really enjoyed it. But this is always what I’ve really wanted to do.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So if you had to describe your sound without using genre names, what kind of music do you produce?
That’s a good question. I really create music that I feel inspired by. Subject-wise, it touches on empowerment, freedom of expression, fearlessness, and also at times, accepting my vulnerability. In terms of sound and feel, growing up as a dancer and keyboardist, I’ve always been drawn to music with great grooves and rhythm. So I really want to share that part of me through my writing and production.
Going off of that, I know you mentioned that your parents played classic R&B and pop growing up, but who are some of your musical influences?
Definitely some of the stuff I was listening to growing up, so Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire were some of the early ones. My biggest inspirations include Alicia Keys, who was phenomenal at the Grammys. I remember watching her as a kid and she was playing piano and stuff on TV and I was like, “Wow, this is awesome.” So yeah, her, Bruno Mars and Prince are some of my biggest influences. In my eyes, they are fierce, passionate and really dedicated to their craft. Growing up, [I would] listen to their powerful music and watch them take on the world unapologetically with a purpose. So as an artist, I’m really in awe of all their achievements, songwriting, singing, and performing. That’s really inspired me to push myself and work my ass off to better my craft every day. I feel like it’s given me the confidence and love to strive to be the better version of myself as an artist.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Ride.” What inspired this song?
This song is actually a new adventure for me. It’s my fifth single and I feel like it has a lot of energy; it expresses a sexual energy and freedom, feelings of exhilaration and risk. It’s a lot of funky tracks [and] it’s wrapped in this blissful attraction. It’s inspired by the anticipation of something new, whether that be a new person or the excitement of embarking on a new journey, it just has a lot of feel and passion.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so what was that like for this song? Are you someone who always has to write by yourself or do you like doing co-writes with other artists and writers?
This song I actually wrote by myself. Sometimes I co-write with another partner of mine and I have a co-producer, Joseph Magee, that I work with on bringing my music alive. This song came about in Vancouver. I was working on a production and I heard this really cool guitar riff that just totally sparked some ideas for me. So I was listening to it over and over and I started playing some stuff on the keys and I ended up writing it, I would say, pretty quickly. Usually, I write the melodies and stuff first, but this one kind of came out all at the same time, which was a little different for me. Then I brought it with me to Nashville and I was lucky and blessed to have worked with some amazing session musicians. We laid out this really funky feel and energy, [which] sparked more cool ideas. So when I laid the vocals, I had a bassist come in and just lay down this really psychedelic bass line that just drove through the entire song. All of these elements just came together. This ended up being more than I thought it would become so its really exciting for me.
You just mentioned Nashville and that you moved there from Vancouver. Obviously Nashville is typically known for its country music, but it’s growing and expanding to include music of all genres. What has your experience creating music there been like? How has being surrounded by so much diverse music impacted the music you’re creating?
It’s been amazing. It’s seriously changed my life. One of the biggest challenges for me was actually moving away from my hometown in Vancouver to Nashville. But once I came here, [I realized] there’s just music and creativity happening everywhere — it’s just so incredible. Being surrounded by other like-minded individuals, artists and creatives, in all genres of music, has totally inspired me. It’s inspired me to write more, create more and be the best kind of artist that I can be.
Going back to “Ride,” were there any major changes made to the song once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Not really, not with this one. Kind of near the end, as we were listening to the different elements, we started adding some different synth parts and stuff like that. I really wanted to add that kind of feel and it was kind of influenced by some stuff from Prince back in the day. So there wasn’t really any changes made, but there was more additions to the song to make it come alive.
I know it’s only been a couple of days since it was released, but what’s the response been like to the single so far?
It’s been really good. I’ve been really happy. This song is a little new to me; it’s a little more adventurous then what I’ve released before. I get really excited when I see people share my songs or reach out and tell me they really enjoyed it.
I know you mentioned that “Ride” is your fifth single, but do you have any plans to release an EP or a full length project sometime soon?
I would like to. I’m looking at doing that. But in the meantime, I’m working on singles. That’s where it is right now, but maybe in the future.
What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
Now that I’m new to Nashville, I’d really love to play some more live shows here and get more settled in the community. I’ve just been wanting to create more of a repertoire that I can show.
How long has it been since you’ve moved to Nashville?
A couple months.
Oh wow. So still very new.
Yeah. I was in Vancouver for Christmas and here before that just transitioning. But yeah, it’s still pretty new. I’m really enjoying it.
Was there anything that pushed you to move to Nashville? Or were you like, “I’m ready for change” and that was that?
I had actually been back and forth between here and there a few times. I met my production partner on a film in Vancouver, and he had relocated to Nashville. And some of my other artist friends live here as well. So I was coming back and forth for my music and being surrounded by this environment totally inspired me. I was like, “This is the place I need to be.” So I did. I wrapped up my life, moved out here and haven’t regretted it since.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I’m really hands on with everything I’m creating, from the music to the visual media. So I have my own little studio set up where I produce and write. I also edit all my pictures and videos, so I love getting into learning new skills on all the programs I have and putting the whole thing together. Musically, with my production partner, we’ve been looking at all of these new plugins and sounds that have been coming out like crazy, which has been really exciting to explore new creative ways of producing. So yeah, those are the kind of things I get nerdy about as I’m working on my new stuff.