The classically-trained Colombian producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and DJ Ali Stone, is constantly surprising and fascinating. She has released terrific albums and songs, entertained huge crowds at festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival , composed movie soundtracks and remixed top artists. She won a CDA award, opened for Justin Bieber’s Purpose World Tour, and her self-produced, engineered and mastered debut album “Sexto Sentido” reached #1 on the Electronic Chart. Now living in Los Angeles she is writing songs, touring, and working with the international campaign “Women Working for Women”, to promote gender equality on male-dominated jobs – especially music production. Her new song and video “Oculto” is both a continuation of her excellence in music and a different facet of who she is — and a hint of her future direction.
Patrick. It is great to see you again, and thank you for having me in your studio and in your inner sanctum.
Ali. You are welcome. Yes, my studio- all the music comes from here. All the songs are created here.
Patrick. Let’s talk about one of those songs, and the video that goes with it. – the new song, “Oculto”.
Ali. Yes, “Oculto” is my new song. It’s part of my new CD, En Mis Manos. It is a song inspired by Columbia culture and Columbian music. I wanted to show those songs that are hidden in Colulumbian music. I wanted to showcase the other sounds of Columbian music because people associate Columbian with just one kind of music and there are many kinds. I am showcasing other sounds that are part of my identity. I mixed many different sound with my electronic sound and my vocals so they say “show me what is hidden inside” and they basically show what is inside of me and Columbia
Patrick. So there is more to Columbian music than cumbia?
Ali. Exactly! Much more. If you drive an hour in Columbia you will experience new music, new food, new accents. That is what I love about the Columbian people and Columbia itself. It is a very diverse country and I value that.
Patrick. “Oculto” the song is a precisely crafted dance song – something you are famous for. It utilizes your voice in several different ways. the up close line in Spanish about the middle of the song, and then you are looped and accented by a violin. Are you just sort of playing with your voice?
Ali. I decided to use my voice is an instrument on this song. I had that little break where I am talking intimately to the audience, and I had some vocals going on in the back and me playing piano, singing my own words – the piano and the vocals are the like the same, and then looping. It is that same concept of “show me your hidden inside”. I feel like now, with :Oculto” I really know how to use my voice, to make it an integrated element of the song.
Patrick. To me, the result is it is both ominous and sensual. Was that your intention?
Ali. Yes…I wanted to give that kind of vibe, like a darker side. It has a duality. The audience can play around with it. They can interpret it…they can play with their perception. It is not what I am telling them, it is about their perception.
Patrick. That has always been part of your music – open to interpretation.
Ali. Yes. I always keep it that way. That is how I appreciate art, ever since I was little. With all kinds of music – pop, rock, even with painted art like the works of Monet or Van Gough. I love them. You can have your own conclusions from their art. No one has the absolute truth – in the end the audience can complement the value of the music.
Patrick. I love the drumming –. it really hits you in the gut. is that your drumming on a loop.
Ali. (Laughing) Yes. Absolutely. In all my songs I play the drums. I tend to play the drums and then overlay them on the songs. For example, for the snare, I have 5 snare sounds that I can overlap to make something else, a new sound. I love to play the drums and I love to improvise, to let myself go with the vibe of what I am making. This happens with my guitar…I usually improvise solos and then it is like my soul is talking and I follow what my soul and heart are saying and make my brain learn what they are saying
Patrick. The video is really sensual – it is not an Ali stone I have seen before…sensual, sexy, – far more than “Obsessions” or En Mis Manos. This is a high style, totally sexually out there and in control. Is the new Ali stone, or has it always been there under the space suit?
Ali. It has always been there, but it is a new Ali Stone era, a powerful woman, fully embracing my inner power. The power is already out, bringing my girl power into everything – my music, my image, my video. I have always been there. I love superheroes. I want to show that strength – I am powerful not with what I am wearing, but with who I am.
Patrick. You are credited with the music and the video. You worked with Craig basket of raw Forest Media. How did that come about?
Ali. We met last year at a show and I showed him my music and he said let me know when you have something we can work on together. When I created “Oculto” I felt this was the song we could join forces on. We worked on it together…we saw we could play around with our creative mind and make something like a fashion film, a video. In the end it was about the meaning of Oculto. It gave us a lot of space to play around with the audio-visual stuff and to allow a lot of interpretation because it is such a minimal song. He and his team was amazing; everyone, the team, the models and the crew. The dancers were the perfect people for what Craig had envisioned. The choreography was very precise. We shot it in New York and it was a lot of fun.
Patrick. Does “Oculto” represent a different direction for you?
Ali. I would say it is like a different facet like the EP I just released, En Mis Manus, which has a little bit of darkness to it. But it also shows my Columbian identity. I am very proud of my Columbia heritage and I can show people that these are also Columbian sounds. In the end it is part of who I am and the sounds I have in my head and I get to play with them in.
Patrick. Why are you in Los Angeles instead of Columbia?
Ali. Because of my work as a producer and songwriter. In that, there is more work here in LA…there are more artists to collaborate with. And unfortunately Columbians can be very sexist. When I was in Columbian, a lot of people told me that I shouldn’t be producing and that no one wanted to see a woman who could do everything…they were intimidated. That was so weird…a man actually asked me to prove I was a producer. I had to leave that to reach my full potential. In LA people are open to a woman doing everything – writing, playing engineering, mastering – everything…it is the place for me to use all my different skills. Women will come into their own – people will realize what women can do. There are so few woman producers, but it will change.
Patrick. You spent time at the first all-women Nashville songwriting camp produced by She Is The Music. Can you tell us about it and how it influences your work?
Ali. It was amazing. She Is The Music is amazing too. I got to work with so many amazing women songwriters…we did R&B rock and hip hop and country for a week. It was really nice to explore a little of Nashville – a very musical city. I did write a country song for The Sisterhood Band People said it was strange seeing a Columbian doing a country song, but it was fun and it worked well. It’s for their new album…you will be able to hear it on their new album.
Patrick. You work with organizations that try to make more space for women in music. Tell us about them and what you do…
Ali. Women Working for Women began in Mexico with a campaign of having different women talk about their power in society. Then it extended into other countries and into other things besides music. It has been supercool to be exposed to these women as the organization expands into more and more things. I love to let other people more aware of what is happening with women in music.
Patrick. So what is next for you….you will be promoting “Oculto” and the other songs?
Ali. “Oculto” is another facet of who I am, because I don’t like to stay in the same lane…I like to do the unexpected. It is more dynamic and fun. I like to play around with many sounds and put them into music that is me. I have many tools, guitars and producing and drums…I want to give people so many things but in the end it sounds like me.
Patrick. Thank you so much, and thank you for the studio tour.
Ali. Always a pleasure, Patrick
by Patrick O’Heffernan