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Snoh Aalegra Talks ‘Feels’, Prince, And Honoring Her Heritage

Snoh Aalegra is a self-defined “emotional person”, meaning that she has lots of feelings—about everything. Her album title, then, should come as no surprise—Feels is a study on how Aalegra moves through the world as a person that feels everything deeply, and passionately, and with each song, the musician is introducing her listener to a little more of her identity as a Swedish Persian. In her own words, she’s “connecting the dots”; and we’re following each one avidly as it takes us further down the path of who Aalegra is—as a musician, and as a human being.

Feels features hip hop favorites like Logic and Vince Staples, and of course has elements of Prince’s influence on Aalegra, who mentored the singer for three years and named her an important artist to watch—a moniker that’s left her with a sense of responsibility to live up to his prophecy of sorts. If Feels is any indication of how Aalegra is doing so far, we’d say she’s well on her way to making Prince damn proud. Now that’s something worth ~all the feels~.

So Feels is out next Friday, October 20—how are you feeling?

I feel great. I’ve been working on these songs for, between a year and two years, some of them almost two years.

Is there a thread that’s kind of woven throughout the album?

All my songs are written from real life experiences. I’m such an emotional person, and I feel so deeply, so that’s why I felt that the title Feels was suitable for the album. I would say all the songs are really just about my life. I think that’s the thread. I touch on subjects, not only about my love life, but also losing my dad, 2009, there’s a song called “Time” on my album that’s about feeling that I didn’t have enough time with him. And something that was also important to me was to kind of describe where I’m from. A lot of people always wonder, “Wait, where are you from?” And I say, you know, “I’m from Sweden, and I’m Persian.” I made sure to have some Swedish lyrics on the album, I have a song where I speak a bit in Swedish and sing in English, and then I have one of my favorite rappers from Sweden, Timbuktu, he’s like an OG rapper, doing a verse on one of the songs, so I’m super excited about that. And then for some of my visuals, like “Nothing Burns Like The Cold”, I filmed it in a Persian house in LA, so all the interior was Persian, the rugs, everything. So it’s important for me to connect the dots a little bit, of who I am and where I’m from.

How long have you been in LA?

I’ve been in LA back and forth for like four years, but I’ve been living there for almost three years now.

I think it’s really cool and special to bring together all the different parts of where you’re from and pay homage to them—how do you feel like they all come together for the one album?

Basically, what I was doing after I put out my EP Don’t Explain, I was gonna put out a few more EPs after that, but I happened to have written like 50 songs, and I couldn’t pick only EP material. I had to have all 13. So it just happened to become an album. I wasn’t planning on it. I just want to tell my story, I just want people to get to know me. It’s just really me, all the songs, all the stories, again, just connecting the dots. How do I explain it? It’s just a different culture and I want to just share that.

Do you have a favorite track on the album?

It always varies everyday. [Laughs] You get so sick of your songs after listening to them so many times and mixing and mastering. But right now, for instance, I really love my intro track. I keep listening to the intro. The intro, it’s called “All I Have”, and it’s just about taking a moment to appreciate what you have. It’s almost like I’m singing to the people in my life but I’m also singing to God, saying thank you for everything I have instead of asking for more. I try to appreciate everything and every person I have in my life, so it’s a bit spiritual to me, that song. So I really love that song.

Do you feel like in a place of gratitude right now just because of how your music is doing so well?

Yeah, I definitely feel super blessed. It’s been a long journey, and I still have such a long way to go, obviously, but I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to work with the people that I’ve worked with. All the talented musicians, people that I never would have imagined I would even meet, like Prince, it was such an incredible experience to be around him for three years, learn from him, and have him say that I’m an important artist—I can’t even believe that I heard those words from him. So I feel a lot of responsibility, even to him, as a friend and somebody I always looked up to saying that to me, I feel like I have so much hard work to do and to live up to what he said.

What is it like working with people like Logic or Vince Staples on an album that’s so personal to you?

It was incredible. The thing is that everything happened organically, I’ve known Logic since before he put out his first album, we were in the same studio when he was recording his first album, and I was doing my thing. Same with Vince, we’re all under the Ardium family, so it all happened really organically. It wasn’t like just calling somebody you don’t know and asking for a verse. So it felt natural to work with them, and I have great admiration for both of them. All the rappers on the album, they really spit. [Laughs] And even the Swedish one, Timbuktu, he’s like their version of Nas, he’s a true poet. I’ve known about him since I was a kid, so I’m so proud to have him a part of the album.

As far as fans in Sweden versus fans in the States, do people receive your music any differently? Or do you just write for both simultaneously?

I’ve never thought about it. I’ve been living outside of Sweden for such a long time—before I moved to LA I was living in London for about four years—so I kind of left Sweden almost seven years ago. I feel like music is a universal language, and it’s all about how it makes you feel. I just want to make people feel something.

Yeah, I mean it kind of transcends language, so even if you don’t know the words you can still feel it.

Yes, it’s the emotion. Exactly.

I know you’re going on tour, is it just the US or are you going back to Sweden?

For this Daniel Caesar tour, I’m joining him just for the US and his five in a row shows in Canada in December. [Laughs] He’s from Toronto, and so talented so I’m super happy for him. That was also something really organic that happened. One of his producers DM-ed me, and was like, “Do you want to open up for Daniel?” His producer had produced the song that I sing on for Joyner Lucas, this other rapper, and I didn’t know that he had, but the overall executive producer was Boi-1 da, and I worked with him on the Drake stuff and on my own stuff too. So he DM-ed me, and said, “Love what you did on the song, we’re going on tour, would you like to open up?” And of course I said, “I would love to.”

So with the album about to drop, what are you most looking forward to?

I just want as many people to hear the project as possible. I believe in word of mouth, that’s how I’ve discovered some of my favorite artists, so my wish is just for as many people as possible to listen to the album. That’s my biggest wish.

Images courtesy of Madeleine Dalla

Stay tuned to Milk for more rising stars.

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