Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Article by Abe Plaut
Instagram & Twitter @abeplaut
Musician, songwriter, and Chicago native, Ré Alissa studies international business and music at Indiana University Bloomington. Coming from a family of musicians, she credits her parents for supporting her musical interests. A multi-instrumentalist father and vocalist mother first got Ré a piano when she was six years old, and her musical career has only grown from there. “I enjoyed learning instruments all the time so I kept picking up new ones.” Encouraged to learn and practice musical instruments, Ré is proficient on keyboards and guitar.
Whenever people ask her how long she’s been singing, her reply never changes. “I always tell them the same thing,” Ré told Season over a phone call while social-distancing, “I don’t remember ever not singing.”
Finding some early successes as a child model and actress, Ré Alissa appeared in a T-mobile advertisement, among other projects. Focusing herself on theater during middle school and high school, Ré had numerous roles in musicals before releasing her first EP on SoundCloud during her senior year of high school in 2017.
In just a few short years since that first release, Ré Alissa has grown as a songwriter and performer, and her skill as a songwriter shows on her recent EP Rétrospect. Available on all major streaming platforms, its standout single “Secret” shows Ré’s commitment to finding and developing her already established voice as both singer and songwriter. More impressive still is her apparent reverence and respect to established musical tradition while pushing the boundaries of what listeners have heard before.
“I called it Rétrospect because the songs are about looking back on a past relationship and kind of just closing a chapter,” Ré Alissa explained. In this way, her EP connects to broader tropes of love and breakups in R&B and Pop music. It would be a disservice to Ré Alissa’s songwriting to merely describe Rétrospect as a breakup album though. Her melodies and harmonies have the power to drill into deep and more honest emotional places, and her message is not one of mere love lost. Unlike some songwriters who might frame a fractured relationship as a failure, Ré Alissa’s opening track from Rétrospect, “Something I Know”, demonstrates her commitment to telling a story of personal growth.
“And I’m not saying we’re through, but I’m too good for you,” Ré Alissa sings. From this angle, Rétrospect is a story about realizing one’s own self-worth, not simply bashing an evil ex-lover.
Ré Alissa’s themes of trust and independence manifest in her personal life as well. It can sometimes be challenging for emerging artists as they reckon with whether or not people near them always have the best intentions. Making good use of Indiana University Bloomington’s diverse and talented community, as well as her home city of Chicago, Ré Alissa has assembled a team of creatives she trusts to help her with tasks that are too much to do alone like music video production. Ré Alissa has also recruited fellow Indiana University students and music makers to play her music live, including a performance at SoFar Sounds Indianapolis, a concert series known for identifying artists with bright futures.
Even if Ré Alissa’s Rétrospect is about looking back and reflecting on the past, there is no doubt that she is looking to the future, and folks have good reason to be excited about what that future may bring. For more from Ré Alissa, follow her on Instagram @realissamusic and listen to Rétrospect wherever you stream music.
*All images courtesy of Ré Alissa*