Not content with releasing a debut EP that crosses multiple musical boundaries, from deep, haunting ballads to more upbeat pop-punk infused rock, Crawley-based Adalia is also intent on offering a voice for an ostracised generation she refers to as ‘the army of the Unspoken Youth.’
Having been raised on the likes of Queen, AC/DC, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Jim Steinman, then getting into The Offspring, Avenged Sevenfold and P!nk through her sister, one band, in particular, stands out in the creation of Adalia.
As she tells us: “I can’t ever mention Adalia without thanking Madina Lake. Adalia is the name of a character they created, and I was fortunate enough to talk about her origin and everything she stood for with one of her original creators. This is a band who it doesn’t matter what song I listen to I always think how I wish I had written it – I don’t think there’s a song I don’t relate to! While my Adalia isn’t a replica of theirs – the only thing they really have in common is the name – it is a band I have always related with, and when that thought aligned in my head of Adalia, something just clicked.”
However, Adalia tells us an unusual source first inspired her to get into music. She said: “The key turning point for me was the first time I saw Back to the Future, Marty McFly’s version of Johnny B. Goode completely blew the 10-year-old me away. I have no idea why it did but I’ve never looked back.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and to a point feel like I’ve always lived in a realm somewhere between. Adalia embodies both the parts we hide from prying eyes and the parts we wish we could live by. She celebrates those aspects that make us freaks, but acknowledges the vulnerabilities of being human. She’s my outlet, an idea that’s been in my head for the best part of four years, and it’s taken me this long to figure out exactly what she stands for, and how I want the world to see her. She’s not just a name for me to release music under, there’s a whole backstory I am slowly attempting to write down.”
Adalia tells us she’s always wanted to be in a band, has done so previously and thinks she’ll always strive to find one, but has struggled to find the right people and for now is focused on going solo. She told us: “There was a moment last year I realised that it’s my responsibility to pursue my dream, no one else and that just because I’m solo now doesn’t mean I always will be. Adalia stands for taking control of your own future, so that’s exactly what I did. I got some incredibly talented friends to help me arrange the songs on my EP, and record with me on it – it was in that moment I realised everything I am capable of if I just push myself past the boundaries I’ve set up in my head.”
That dream has been realised with last week’s release of her debut EP Stray Hearts, on which she told us: “The process of creating it has been long – four years to be exact. A lot of it was spent trying to pinpoint this quite abstract idea that had been fixated in my head for so long and attempting to find a direction for it. After I had figured that out everything else followed relatively quickly, from writing to finding musicians and sitting down to record last February.
“I’m incredibly excited for people to hear this! Although it’s not my first ‘release’ so to speak – there are a few songs floating around the Internet under a different name – this is the first body of work to be released under Adalia. It’s my debut as the artist I’ve always strived to be if that makes any sense. I’m excited to see what people see in the songs, the reactions and support I received for my two singles has been unbelievable! But I’m interested to see how people react to them being part of something bigger as it’s a concept EP that tells a greater story.”
The EP kicks off in rocky style with opening track Victorious, which opens with bursts of guitar chords and a funky bassline that drop into a more laid-back opening verse of really cool vocals, including “She’s a saint with a sinner’s smile, A silver-tongued princess with words like bullets.” It kicks into a rockier chorus that ends on a hit of big guitar chords then drops into another storytelling verse, then the second chorus leads into a cool repeating heavier guitar section that feeds into a final chorus.
The pace drops down for beautiful, delicate second track The End, then picks up again for more of a rock ballad in Legendary. It opens up with a rolling piano intro soon joined by Adalia’s vocals that gradually increase in intensity towards a chorus of “We’re old enough to know better, But we’re too young to care, After all that’s been said and done, We will resurrect the life, You and I could be legendary.” Drums and bass kick in during a more upbeat second verse that ends on the line “Even saviours need saving sometimes” and kicks into a second chorus, which ends on a grander burst of instruments then drops into a bigger rendition of the chorus.
The final two tracks of the EP are actually the first two songs released as singles. The first, Shatter The Glass, begins slow and melancholy in a laid-back opening verse that bursts into life with building guitar chords and intensifying vocals that lead into a big singalong chorus of “Shatter the glass, Let it cave in, Shower me in the fragments, Let it all come down.” Check it out in the video below:
But the rockiest element of the EP is saved for last with the excellent Royals. It begins with low repeating guitars and hits of tambourine through more edgy vocals that build to a big rocky chorus of “We are royals, Kings and Queens, Oh the royals, The last ones standing, And you can try but you’ll never, Never take us alive.” The second verse alludes to Aladia’s ‘Unspoken Youth’ then flies through to a second singalong chorus, that leads into a bridge of “They can try to strip us down, they’ll never steal these crowns” then a blast of rocky guitars that feed into a final chorus.
This is an EP that has a little bit of everything, and Adalia freely admits it’s a mixed bag on both sound and approach: “It’s a mixture of intimate ballads and unapologetic anthems. It’s bold and gritty laced with delicate narratives and clouded in a sweetly melancholic mist. I was listening to so much as I wrote it. Each song I focused more on the story rather than the style, so it’s a bit of everything – rock, grunge, ballads and pop-punk.
“The interesting thing about this EP is that it was an ‘experiment record’ and ultimately has helped me figure out the style I want to carry on with – I’m a storyteller. I love haunting ballads, but still, attempt to encompass my rock and punk roots by marrying it with grit and honesty.”
And, building on that, she tells us that words are the most important thing about her music. She said: “I’m a lyrics first kind of writer, and they usually follow similar themes of feeling lost, or broken, or generally just trying to figure out who you are to yourself. But on a less depressing side, I write about celebrating those differences, embracing your weird and wonderful sides. While my lyrics are quite specific I always try to weave in ambiguity because who am I to dictate what someone sees in my songs?
“I strive to offer escapism, a sense of belonging, giving those a voice who feel like they don’t have one. I think by showing my vulnerabilities in my music, I hope to show my audience that vulnerabilities don’t make you weak, they make you human. The whole theme behind this record is telling the story of the Unspoken Youth, an ostracised group who refuse to bow before an oppressing Empire, it’s about finding your voice, greeting your demons and sharing the stage with them.”
There’s plenty more to come from Adalia, and she’s already excited to start work on her next project. As she tells us: “I have a few ideas to start writing again, but also writing a book to go alongside the EP, mapping out the story a little more. I’m hoping to start gigging too as it’s been a while since I’ve been on stage, even if it’s little open mic nights, I want to get back into it!”
There’s a sense of fascination and intrigue not just to Adalia’s music but the backstory and the thoughts that fuel it, and we’re looking forward to accompanying her on her musical journey.