new-mag-cover

Pop star Arlissa opens up about prejudice in the music industry: "If you are a person of colour people try to put you in a box"

"I found myself being put into a lot of sessions with hip hop producers. It was a route that I don’t know very well. I don’t have a favourite hip hop rapper."

Becky Donaldson

Arlissa has been making a name in the music industry since the age of 19, but it wasn’t until she started writing her debut album The Broken Hearted upon moving to LA that everything truly fell into place.  "Ahhh," she told HFM when they interviewed her for the September issue cover. "I’m really excited."

Upon moving to the US, she felt she had the freedom to do exactly what she wanted but admits reaching that point has been a constant battle. "I would say, if you are a person of colour, people, particularly labels and mainstream outlets, try to put you in a box. They think, 'Oh, you’re a brown-skinned girl, how can we make you urban!'.

new-mag-cover

"My music just isn’t urban. In fact, what really is urban music? At first, I found myself being put into a lot of sessions with hip hop producers. It was a route that I don’t know very well. I don’t have a favourite hip hop rapper. I feel this attitude lacks imagination." 

If she was to categorise her music, it would fall into the pure pop genre. "I love pop music and that is something I find inspiring. It is what I listen to – and I just want to make good songs."  

new-mag-cover-singing

One of the musician’s first accolades came in. 2012, when a song she had written, Hard to Love Somebody, was picked up by American rapper, Nas, who then approached her to appear on it. It was chosen by Scott Mills for his record of the week on BBC Radio 1. 

The following year she released Sticks & Stones, which was described by critics as a "stomping break- up anthem" and "fierce pop song" – it peaked at number 48 in the UK and was picked up by Nelly Furtado in 2017: "It was crazy because I’m a big fan."

She also co-wrote Spring Day for K-pop group BTS, which won Song of the Year at the 2017 Melon Music Awards, and Flames for ex-One Directioner Zayn Malik.

The full interview appears in the September issue of Hello! Fashion, which is out now. 

Activate HELLO! alerts and find out about everything before anyone else.