Pocket rocket pop newcomer alice is aiming high. We’re talking Madonna, Beyoncé and Lady GaGa levels of triple-threat superstardom, all on-point choreography, high-concept videos and attitude-laden vocals that aren’t afraid to belt. Bored of a modern pop landscape that’s rigid and way too-cool-for-school, alice is here to shake things up, with the help of some of pop’s biggest names: Max Martin’s right hand man Rami Yacoub; fellow Swede Carl Falk; Years & Years’ producer Mark Ralph; Katy Perry collaborator Bonnie McKee and Mozella, who penned Wrecking Ball. Not bad. If that’s not enough, she impressed will.i.am so much after a one off meeting on a night out that he’s become a mentor, helping kickstart a major label rush that was won by Virgin Records in the UK and Capitol Records in America.
Introductory track GIRLS X BOYS is the perfect encapsulation of what makes alice so special; a provocative pop banger that pays homage to the past while looking firmly forward. “GIRLS X BOYS is all about being rid of labels and being open minded to try anything at least twice!” says alice. “When we wrote it I was adamant that the lyric should be inclusive of everyone. I hope it talks not only to my generation but to everyone. The vibe of the track is definitely representative of my darker side and I like that it’s about exploring things sexually whilst also expressing my confidence as a woman and an artist.”
“I’m inspired by real entertainers,” she continues. “Those are the elements I grew up with. I love the old music videos where the choreography was so fierce and of such a high standard. I want full on choreography, theatrics, acting, and absolutely loving being a pop star. I’m also heavily influenced by old Hollywood glamour. I love that aesthetic, so there’s always a nod to that too.”
alice grew up a world away from the 90s superstars she adored. Born in the seaside town of Ramsgate in Kent, she was raised in a household full of classical music. It was a form of escapism for her, lost in a music world she understood far more than the educational one. While she struggled at school due to dyslexia, she studied her parents’ opera collection, mimicking the classically-trained singers around the house. Her ability to keep up got the attention of her mum who put her into classical music singing lessons at a young age. At the same time, she was also a huge fan of Whitney and Mariah, harnessing her not inconsiderable pipes via impromptu versions of their many classics. Passionate about entertaining via any means necessary, she also followed her family’s love for ballet. “All of my family were professional ballerinas who trained with the famous Rambert dance company – all my cousins and aunties. I never really wanted to be a ballerina but I was inspired by them to do it. From there I got into modern jazz and tap.” Brilliantly, it didn’t occur to her that all these extra curricular activities – she acted as well, appearing onstage at 11 in a production of Annie at the Marlow Theatre – would have to be whittled down to one. “I wanted to do all three. So singing, acting and dancing. I still do. I never focused solely on one.”
So far so stage school cliché right? Wrong. alice’s parents weren’t wealthy, and Ramsgate isn’t a wealthy town, so she went down the scholarship route. Having a hard time at school, her parents suggested she leave and try the local St Lawrence College, a private school that focused on music. alice impressed so much she earned a full scholarship, repeating the trick with Italia Conte at the age of 17 “But then we had the issue of how I was going to live in London so I got housing benefits and stayed in the YMCA,” she explains. “The YMCA was opposite Italia Conte and we would come into school with bites on us from bed bugs. I did it because I was so desperate to escape my little bubble. I always had big aspirations.” She also had a rebellious streak, eventually being kicked out of Italia Conte because she “didn’t really play by the rules”. After sharing her songs on YouTube and Facebook she started being approached by producers who asked her to come in for writing sessions, something not allowed at Italia Conte. “I had to lie, say I was at the doctors. In the end they asked me to leave and so I didn’t do the end show, but I did manage to convince them to give me my diploma in the end.”
Those early sessions, although not ideal for her Italia Conte future, were a revelation. Having written her first song when she was just 14, her first proper session in New York put her in a room with four professional writers, a daunting prospect for anyone. “It can be hard to put across your ideas in that situation but I held my own,” she says. Ever determined, she also turned a one off meeting with an apparently psychic will.i.am into an opportunity. “I met him at an event,” she explains. “He came up to me and was like ‘I know you’ and I was like ‘pretty sure you don’t’. Then we were talking and he was like ‘you look like a star’ and I said ‘I’m actually a singer’ and he was like ‘I know!’. I mean he didn’t. Will took my phone and put his number in and he asked me to call him the next day. So I did and I gave him my email and sent him a video of me singing.” That video of her singing Bieber’s Love Yourself at a piano lead to Alice working with Mr i.am in LA along with producer Printz Board. “Will has been amazing at helping me and getting my name out there in the industry.”
In early 2017, as her name started to gain traction major labels started getting involved from both sides of the Atlantic. And they all offered what alice demurely refers to as “lovely deals”. But she had a good feeling about Virgin, who had heard one of her songs, the aching self-penned ballad Breathe, and fallen in love with it. “When I went in there were ten of them in the room and I just told them my vision and what I would love to do and the fact I want to be an all-round entertainer and put on a show. They were all so incredibly passionate and they were saying they didn’t have anyone like me.” They were so enamoured in fact, they also signed her to Capitol Records in America (“Katy Perry’s label! Who I LOVE” she says). All of this happened before she’d even secured a manager, which only happened after another weird mix of fortune meeting talent head on. “My now manager, Amy from ATM Management, walked into her daughter’s room and I was playing on YouTube and Amy was looking for a young female pop star so she got in touch with my lawyer. I fell in love with her and here we are.”
Straight after signing she found herself in writing sessions with world renowned hitmakers including Christoph Andersson (Dua Lipa, The Chainsmokers) and Martin Sjoile (Sigrid and RAYE), while other sessions included people like Caroline Ailin (who co-wrote Dua Lipa’s New Rules) and Bonnie McKee (all the Katy Perry bangers). The next stop was Sweden to work with Rami and Carl, while UK sessions have included Mark Ralph. Alongside her every step of the way has been her songwriting mentor Kee Ingrosso, wife of Sebastian Ingrosso, and co-writer of J.Lo’s On The Floor among others. While all these future-hits percolate – there’s the Human League-sampling Hourglass; the stripped back Paper Planes and the heartbreaking Breathe – alice is laying the foundations for what’s to come with re-workings of songs by her heroes including Madonna’s Hung Up and Mariah’s Vision of Love. “I recorded that with the man who wrote it with Mariah, Ben Margulies. He suggested it when we were in the studio together.”
Intro track ‘GIRLS X BOYS’ hits streaming this Spring, produced by Swedish pop impresario LIOHN. Visual intro video ‘My Name Is Alice’ comes with a video that screams superstar in big letters. “It’s a visual introduction to me and welcoming you to my Alice world,” she says excitedly. So why is there a massive spider in it? “The spider is called ‘Baby A’, and the spider is the fierce side of me, because sometimes I can be a little bit shy or goofy, but when I’m ‘Baby A’ I can fight my demons and be a fierce woman who doesn’t take any bullshit.”
And that right there is alice’s M.O: a proper, multi-faceted pop star who can actually properly sing, dance and perform, who is as vulnerable as she is fierce. “I just love pop bangers that make you feel amazing and make you want to dance,” she says. You can’t say fairer than that really.