Artist Q&A: Catching Up with Ally Brooke

Artist Q&A: Catching Up with Ally Brooke

Ally Brooke is ready to go.

Six months after Fifth Harmony announced its “indefinite hiatus,” Brooke has a new record deal with Latium/Atlantic Records. And, two weeks ago at Fusion Festival in Liverpool, England, the San Antonio native performed an unreleased single from her forthcoming solo release.

Fittingly, the single is titled “Vamonos,” or “let’s go.”

We recently caught up with Ally and spoke with her about the new record deal, working with Latium co-founder Charles Chavez and the freedom of being a solo artist after six years as a member of Fifth Harmony.

And since it’s Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, we also spoke with Ally about her Mexican heritage and how that influences her life and music.

SoundExchange: Congrats on your new deal with Latium Entertainment/Atlantic Records. Now that you’re on your own, do you feel like you’ll have more freedom to develop your own sound?

Brooke: Absolutely. The amazing thing about being with Latium and Charles Chavez is that I’m able to bring my music to life and be heard. Charles Chavez is so incredible. We have such a great and strong relationship together, and he’s all about the artist and all about the music.

He’s like me. He’s a perfectionist. He doesn’t want to rush anything. He wants to really pay attention to the details and make sure, most importantly, that I love the record that I’m doing. Whether it’s writing or co-writing, he wants to make sure they fully sound like me and represent who I am. I’m in the best situation possible with him and with Atlantic – Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman.

It’s been such a dream come true. I’m so glad that my identity will be fully transparent in this music.

SoundExchange: You performed “Vamonos” a few days ago. We don’t have much else to go on, so can you describe what an Ally Brooke solo effort will sound like?

Brooke: I was able to premier “Vamonos.” That is with producer Kris Kross Amsterdam. They have a really big song out right now called “Whenever” with Conor Maynard. It’s a feature, so it’s them featuring me and Latin trap artist Messiah. He’s so talented. He’s just a force to be reckoned with.

We were able to premier “Vamonos” at the Fusion Festival, and people went crazy over it. It’s all in Spanish… it’s a very fun female empowerment record about being proud of who you are and sticking up for yourself and being a strong woman who knows what she wants. That will be out hopefully in the next few weeks…

But, an Ally Brooke sound… is definitely in the pop lane. I give you different flavors. I love to experiment with different sounds. But what you have heard is more on the pop-dance side with a little bit of Latin. We’re working on a bunch of stuff, and I can’t wait for the music to speak for itself when it comes out.

SoundExchange: Are there any recording artists you’re collaborating with on the new project that you can mention?

Brooke: I can’t really say much yet. I can talk about Messiah and my collaborations with him. He’s so incredible. One of my managers heard him on a different song and showed me his work. I was like “wow, this guy’s voice is absolutely insane.” He has such a beautiful tone in his voice. It’s rich, and he’s so talented with his flows and cadence and lyrics. We were able to get him on “Vamonos”… and he’s such a joy to work with.

He goes in there and just puts his own voice on a song and his own spin and he’s so open to everything… and he just goes in and brings a song to life and gives it a new energy and flavor. He’s a total beast, and I’m so happy that I was able to work with him.

SoundExchange: Is it scary or exciting to be on your own? Or both?

Brooke: It’s definitely exciting. I’ve actually been doing this since before Fifth Harmony. Six years before [Fifth Harmony] I was in Los Angeles with my parents… going back and forth from San Antonio, recording music and writing and performing at high schools and middle schools and really hustling and grinding and working on my craft for years and years.

So much blood, sweat and tears went into that. So many sacrifices from my parents and family.

Now it’s so incredible to be able to come full circle with being an artist and being the artist I want to be – a solo artist.

I’m so thankful to be with Latium Records. Charles Chavez is such a blessing, and I’m so happy to have him by my side… someone who fiercely believes in me and my project and who is very wise and smart and knows music. That part is so exciting, to know that I have a team who believes in me and who I can trust. We collaborate together. We’re like a family, and we go through this together.

Of course, there are those nerves. You never know what’s going to happen. Each day is a new mystery and blessing and challenge. But, of course, you have nerves because you never know. But it makes me so happy and confident to have that team behind me. I can totally trust them, and I believe in them so much, and I know they believe in me so much.

That’s what gives me gratitude and making music that I love and that speaks to me, that moves me… you just have to make music that’s authentic to you and everything else will come.

SoundExchange: As you move forward on your own, are there women in the industry you think of as role models? Someone you’d like to emulate, either musically or professionally?

Brooke: Jennifer Lopez has been a big inspiration of mine since I can remember. She is a full-out entertainer, and that’s what I dream to be like or aspire to be. She goes up there and gives you her all and gives you a true show where you’re dancing and you’re on your feet. You watch her in awe. She sings from her heart.

I’ve always gravitated towards “entertainer,” so I think she’s amazing.

Selena Quintanilla has always been my number one inspiration in music and, of course, as a person. She brought so much joy to so many people’s hearts and souls. I would love to do the same thing. It would be my hope and dream to bring that much joy to people through my music.

I also respect and love Adele because she is a true vocalist. She’s up there, she’s totally herself but her voice is unmatched. Her voice gives so many people the chills, and I love that about her.

SoundExchange: Can you talk about Fifth Harmony announcing its indefinite hiatus? Was it time to move on?

Brooke: We had been hard at work for six years. We went through so much together. We were able to build a wonderful army of fans and people who loved us. We were able to make an impact on so many people, so that was incredible.

The decision was made, and everyone went with it, and it’s a blessing honestly because I’m able to be my own person and do things I never dreamed of. All the girls are able to do things we have wanted to do. It’s a very exciting time for all of us to be on our own.

SoundExchange: Since we’re running this interview to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, let me ask you about that. How important is your background to your music? Does your cultural heritage play a role in your music?

Brooke: Oh, yes. I come from a big Mexican-American family. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I think it’s just the greatest city… so I grew up listening to Tejano music with Selena. I listened to Gloria Estefan and Shakira. Being from San Antonio, I was able to dive into my culture. I had my family, and we would go over to each other’s houses and there would always be rice, beans, enchiladas, chalupas, queso and tacos.

We’re very proud of our culture. We’re always so loud and funny and passionate. We love our Mexican music. We love our Spanish music. My family was so happy when they found out I was doing a song in Spanish… and I know my grandma is definitely proud.

It was special to grow up in a city where my culture was embraced. I live in Los Angeles now because of music, but all my family is still back at home, and San Antonio will always be home, and it will always be my favorite city.