Releasing an album right before giving birth isn’t everyone’s idea of “perfect timing,” but for indie folk rock singer-songwriter Alice Brightsky, Box of Me couldn’t wait any longer. Now, this musician/business woman/new mom doesn’t bother trying to balance the crazy days and busy nights, opting instead for an ebb and flow. Here, Brightsky discusses her journey, motherhood and her passion for music.
Tell me a bit about your background – did you always want to be a musician?
I’ve been interested in music since I was very young. Even in grade school, I was always running into my music teacher’s room to teach myself something on the piano or practice something. It’s engrained in me. I got a guitar around the age of 12 but didn’t really pick it up until I was about 16 after a guy broke up with me. He was this incredible rock musician in high school and I was really heartbroken. I made the decision then to become a great guitar player; I started playing and never put it down.
By the time I was playing guitar regularly, I was really coming into my own. I started to perform in college and I became pretty well known around campus. That was just the beginning for me. I came to New York City with a dual purpose; on the one hand, I needed to develop and cultivate the interests that I have in the business world, and I also needed
to pursue my music.
Tell me about your career – you work full time?
Yes, I’m in finance and that’s what I do during the day. It’s a career that I’ve nurtured and cultivated – I call it my “side career” [laughs]. The music industry is tough and a lot of people don’t make it – only one percent do – so I believe in having a way to fund myself.
How would you describe your music style?
I think it’s fairly raw on some level; I’m a skillful guitar player and singer, but I’m also very emotional when I play and the music comes from an emotional place. It creates a more raw performance, so I think I’ve got that edginess. My style of music is very singer-songwriter. There’s a certain genre of people who play an instrument and emote through their instrument and their voice in a lyrical and melodic way; I’d say I fall squarely in that genre. I’ve got a lot of different influences from blues, funk, jazz, hip hop, country, bluegrass – all of those things kind of weave their way into me as a singer-songwriter.
What’s one of your favorite songs you’ve written and what does it mean to you?
Gosh. I have hundreds of songs. At different places in time, I’ve had different favorites. I guess if I think about my most recent songs, one of my favorites is Enter this World. Sometimes it’s misinterpreted, but it’s really about me acknowledging that I’m an infant in the world and the older I get the more I realize how little I know.
Tell me a little bit about your album Box of Me – what was it like to release that into the world?
Well, it was interesting because I was giving birth to my son at the same time [laughs]. I was birthing two major projects at once. I released the song in May of last year just before my son was born; it wasn’t the best timing, obviously. It’s not great to release a CD and try to promote it when you’re also nursing your son on your couch all day. But it had been on hold for too long, and I really got the impetus to finish it while I was pregnant. I thought about the example I was setting for my son; music is such a big part of my life, so I realized it’s really worth doing. I just had to get it done, it didn’t matter when or how. It was a relief and a release for me to have this thing out in the world.
You work full time, you write songs and you have a 1-year-old – how do you manage to balance things?
It’s impossible [laughs]. It’s a little imbalance, always. You just have to embrace it. I’ll do what I’m doing until I keel over, and then something will give – obviously not my son.
If I ever begin to compromise being a mom then something else has to take a back seat, but so far I feel like my music and my job and everything I’m doing is making me
a better mom. For me, I think it’s important to not halt your life. I want to do a multitude of things and involve my family in those things. Life is multifactorial; you’ve got a lot going on, but you have to learn how to shift gears and live that full life.
I wouldn’t call it balance because balance implies that I’ve got it all under control and I definitely don’t [laughs] but it’s an ebb and flow.
What advice do you have for a new mom who’s also working full time?
Don’t feel guilty. I felt a lot of conflicted guilt when I went back to work, but I’ve realized that you have to do what’s right for you. Going back to work felt right to me. I need this other part of my life and I need to stimulate this other part of my brain so that I can come home and feel really excited and be the best mom for my son. Other parents may feel like staying home is what’s best for their children, and that’s fine too. Just whatever you decide, don’t feel guilty. There’s always an opportunity to self-correct if you need to. Kids are resilient and we’re all just doing the best we can.
What do you hope to accomplish over the
next few years?
Gosh, there’s so much. Aside from world peace [laughs], I’d like to achieve a modicum of success with music. I’m obviously putting a lot of time and energy that I don’t have into my music because it’s such a big part of who I am. On the home front, I want to be a good mom, wife, friend, daughter and community member. I want to do things that make a difference with my friends, family and in my community so that I’m not just living in this microcosm of “me me me.”
Check out Alice Brightsky’s new focus track “Up Up and Away” off her Box of Me album – available now on iTunes