Alessia Cara talks ‘The Pains of Growing,’ inspirations, and songwriting

The award-winning singer-songwriter opens up about the vision behind her new album, dream tours, and more.


The voice behind some of your favorite hits on the radio, Alessia Cara has been making waves in the music industry for over three years now. With an extremely dedicated fanbase behind her and anticipation building regarding her newest work, the ‘Growing Pains’ singer will be releasing her second album, titled ‘The Pains of Growing’, on November 30th. In this interview, Alessia opens up to United by Pop about the creation of her new album, her impact as an artist and more.

Going back to the beginning a little, what was it like to see your first single ‘Here’ turn into a song that people could not stop playing and was always on the radio? Did you know that was the start to something bigger than many could imagine?

It’s tough because as much as I believed in that song and as much as I had an inkling that it was going to do something for people, I didn’t really think that it would go to the extent that it did or take me to the places that it has. I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for something like that, so it was definitely a shock. As much as I love the song, I had no idea that many people would love it also.

Was it surreal to hear yourself on the radio or in public places singing your original song?

Absolutely! For many different reasons. I think that the first reason was that the original demo of it, when we first made it, was totally different. It was so rough. I remember playing it for my best friend in one of my classes in high school and it was just barely a song. Hearing it fully done on the radio [and] having people listen to it was a crazy weird feeling. It was a song that, initially, not a lot of people believed in. Seeing it get to where it did, even if it was just [only] one person playing it on the radio, was a huge accomplishment.

I know you started out on YouTube and originally posted covers. One was of an Amy Winehouse medley. Who would you say were or are your musical influences?

Amy Winehouse, definitely. She’s a huge one for me. I also grew up listening to a bunch of different artists like Lauryn Hill, the Black Eyed Peas, P!NK, Queen, and the Beatles. All different kinds of music, which is why I still make songs nowadays that are kind of different from each other on every album.

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polite referee trying to model

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Your new album ‘The Pains of Growing’ is going to be out on November 30th! What makes you most excited to release and share this new work with your fans and people in general?

I think for this album, especially because it has been three years since I’ve put out an album, I think the exciting thing is having the fans react to it and hear new music from me. It feels like a new child is being born with this album as weird as that sounds. New experiences [and] new feelings that I can’t wait to talk about. It feels like a weight off of my chest almost. I’m really excited!

How do you think this album is different or has evolved from your debut album ‘Know It All’?

I would say maybe exploring different genres that I haven’t really explored so much before. I produced some of the songs on this album which I have never done before…publicly at least. That was really interesting and different for me, but I am so excited about it. I’m less afraid of talking about certain things. I think I’ve just grown vocally and lyrically so much.

Congratulations on the success of your single ‘Growing Pains’! What was the inspiration behind that song and the process of creating it like?

This song [‘Growing Pains’] is actually the first song I wrote for the album and it kind of sparked the rest of the album for me because it was the first time that I was 100% fully honest about the things that I was going through in a very personal specific way. Once I wrote ‘Growing Pains,’ I knew what the rest of the album had to be. This song, for me, is talking about certain issues that I was going through and what was going through my head every time I would be alone. The things that keep me up at night. It’s a very personal thing to talk about, but I think it’s such a crucial thing to talk about nowadays. So many young people feel all of these pressures about growing up and we all go through our own growing pains. Sometimes we’re afraid to talk about [it], so I thought it would just be a good thing for everyone if I said something about it.

Several of your songs have very powerful messages. What do you want your fans to take away from this new album or what would you say is the theme of it?

The premise of the album is the idea of growth and change. It’s very transitional. Not only for me, but it talks about the transitions that everybody goes through and I think that growing up is something that we are all going through, but we never stop going through it. I hope that my experiences allow people to see things within themselves and [that] it allows people to connect with these songs the same way that I have.

What can you tell me about your latest single ‘Trust My Lonely?’

‘Trust My Lonely’ is a song that I initially wrote about my insecurities and the voices of doubt within my own head and of other people. I wanted to turn the reflection of feelings and emotions and insecurities into a pretend person that I was talking to I guess and pretend I was breaking up with them in a way as if they were a toxic person that I needed to get rid of. That’s kind of how it started and I wrote it in a way that I think people can associate it with a relationship they’re in or maybe a toxic person in their life or maybe their own insecurities that they want to get rid of. Knowing that it’s ok to get rid of things even though you’re comfortable with them in order to be happier. Sometimes we’re so comfortable in something that is bad for us that we’re afraid of letting it go. This song is just a reminder that it’s ok to let things go and let the negativity go no matter what form it may come in.

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trust my lonely is out now.

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Your song with Logic and Khalid ‘1-800-273-8255’ was a massive success. How was it to work with Logic and see the impact that song had on people and the industry in several different ways?

I think every once in a while you have a song that reminds you of how much an effect music has on people directly. When I first put my voice on that song and wrote on it, I didn’t even know that it was going to end up being a single or that anybody would play it on the radio. I just thought it was going to be a part of his [Logic’s] album. I’m so glad that it was played as many times as it was because it helped so many people in so many ways. I couldn’t even imagine how many people it’s affected directly and it’s not until I talk to certain people about that song and they tell me their individual stories about it and how I helped them that I realize what we do [as artists]. We have such an effect on people and it’s such an important job to have. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s so beautiful at the same time. Logic is great. It was really cool that I was a part of that.

You have worked with several impressive artists and producers. Is there anyone you want to work with in the future or would love to tour with?

Yeah! There are so many people. I would love to work with Coldplay. I toured with them which is crazy to say out loud. I’d love to write with them one day. Maybe even John Mayer. That would be incredible. Also, Anderson Paak. I love him. He’s one of my favorite artists ever, so that would be really cool.

Your fans are so dedicated and have supported you for years now. How has it been to see that fanbase grow and always tweeting/voting for you?

It’s been incredible. It’s such a cool thing to not only see the fans who have been here since the very day, which is amazing that they have stayed this long and cared about me all of this time, but it’s also really cool to see all of the new fans coming in and showing their support as if they have been there forever and talking to me as if they have known me for forever. They’re that dedicated that they take the time to care about me and get to know me. They just constantly support me day in and day out. It’s such a cool thing to see it [the fanbase] grow. It sounds cheesy, but it’s like a family. Seeing them form friendships with each other because of my music is such a crazy thing and I feel so lucky to be a part of that all.

‘Trust My Lonely’ had a promotional tour at different colleges where you got to speak about being a young woman, an artist and also about your music. What was the best or most memorable part of that series and talking to young adults?

I think just helping people out and providing them with some useful information. I remember growing up and stepping foot into the industry for the first time when I was really new and not really knowing what to do. I didn’t really have anyone showing me the ropes and I didn’t really have any other artists to talk to. I think the most valuable part, hopefully for them, was being that someone who was able to talk to them about what it’s like and maybe give them some advice. I know I didn’t really have that at first.

What can fans look forward to besides the album in the near or distant future?

Things are definitely in the works in my head. I have some music videos that I really want to do for some songs on this album that maybe aren’t even necessarily singles, but just songs that I think should have visuals. Also, definitely a tour for sure. I need to tour this album. I think it will be really fun! Getting to meet the fans in person and having them sing the songs back to us is so crazy and fun. It’s really beautiful.

What are some of your goals or aspirations for 2019?

To have this album be something that people remember and that people connect with honestly. That’s the biggest goal for me. I’ve been working so hard on this and I’ve been dreaming about making it for so long. My goal for next year is to tour it and travel and perform it everywhere. I hope that people really love it because I’m really proud of it.

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