Vuela Loves: Musician Alela Diane
To celebrate Mother's Day, we're so excited to share our interview with inspiring mother, songstress and artist , Alela Diane. She welcomed me last fall to her beautiful home at one of my favorite cities, Portland, Oregon. From the moment I walked in, it maybe a cold drizzly day, but I'm welcomed with such warmth and joy into her cozy family home and grateful to hear a sample of her latest dreamy evocative song. From the exquisite textiles, instruments, to children's decor, the charming details that fill the space truly makes one feel that there's no place like home!
1) Who.. is Alela Diane?
I am a musician and mother. I’ve been releasing records and touring since 2007. I’m mostly a self-taught musician, and learned how to play the guitar through song-writing. In the past year, I have been taking piano lessons, and opening things up in an entirely new way, by learning more of the language of music.
On your downtime, what are your other hobbies or interests?
I draw and paint, and have been working on a children’s book.
2) What ….
...is music to you? Fave holiday songs?
Music has always been part of the fabric of my life. My parents were always singing songs together around our kitchen table. Music is deeply rooted in who I am. This time of year, we always get out a special crate of vinyl full of christmas albums. Favorites include anything by Johnny Cash, and I really love the Charlie Brown soundtrack by The Vince Guaraldi Trio.
...is your creative process and inspiration?
When I was younger, I was able to follow the whim of my creativity. I could write songs whenever I felt like it, sometimes staying up til 3 am in some far off hotel, chasing down a melody. Now, because I have children, I have to be much more structured about it. I write weekdays, 9-3, while my daughters are at school. It is much less glamorous, but if I am patient with myself, the songs do eventually come. It depends on the song, but sometimes the words come first and other times it’s the melody. I’m inspired by the happenings of life, by nature, by love, loss, fear, hope. Songwriting has always been a way for me to process what is going on in my world.
-do you collect for yourself or home?
Both. For myself, I collect beautifully made clothing pieces that I carefully choose and wear often. I have a particular weakness for woolen sweaters, which I wear many months of the year living in Portland. Our home is full of antiques acquired from family and many treasures I have collected on my travels. I love pottery, and have always adored miniatures. I have a tiny sink on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, and it makes me smile everytime I see it.
-is your recent album and any upcoming projects/tours?
My last album, Cusp, came out in 2017. It was written when my older daughter was about 2, and was recorded while pregnant with our younger daughter. Thematically, it is very much written through the lens of motherhood. I am currently finishing the writing process of a new album that I have yet to record. I am always working on the aforementioned children’s book.
-are you based and how does living in this city inspire you?
I live with my family in Portland, Oregon. It’s a beautiful city with plenty of trees and kind people. We have settled into a wonderful community here. I am inspired by the changing of the seasons, and the rain is a particularly dear companion for writing songs.
Local travel tips:
My friend, Vajra, owns a lovely clothing shop called Monochromatic, that sells beautiful ethically made clothes for all genders. I also love a perfectly curated shop called Palace, which has clothing, home goods, and beauty products. For food, I love P’s and Q’s Market and Sweedeedee for breakfast and lunch. Coquine for an exquisite dinner or for a cup of tea and scone after walking around Mount Tabor. Dove Vivi has the best cornmeal crust Pizza. Navarre has my favorite low-key weekend brunch.
-are your fave places to visit and where would you like to travel next?
I love Paris, and have traveled around Europe quite a lot for my music. I would love to go to Japan. I’ve never been there.
Why..... and how did you get started as a musician- songwriting and playing instruments?
I began writing songs at age 20. My parents had recently divorced unexpectedly, and I was heart broken. Song-writing became a way to process what I was feeling. Our house was full of instruments when I was a child, so when I decided I wanted to play guitar, it wasn’t hard to find one.
Why is it important to create songs that share your personal experience and journey as a mother?
For me, I always write about what particular chapter of life I am in. This chapter is motherhood, and there are plenty of emotions to process about it all. So, for me, it is important.
-do you think your music resonates and touches others who listen to them? From what I have gathered at concerts, and by receiving notes from listeners, yes, I do. I am grateful that others can get something out of what I spend my time creating.
Special thanks to Portland-based musician Alela Diane for this wonderful interview, beautiful music and welcoming me to your home and studio.
Alela is wearing a selection of our apparel. Shop the collection.