Aged just 20, Arlissa is half American, half German, but was raised largely in Crystal Palace. A year ago she’d moved out of the family home and watched her friends go off to university, whilst she stayed put - intent on making music her life. Her gamble paid off the moment Nas rang. Nas was such a fan of the ‘Hard to Love Somebody’ demo – which he was passed via a publisher - that he asked to record an alternate rap version of it, and flew Arlissa out to L.A, wishing to do so in person, transforming Arlissa’s fortunes virtually overnight.
Having worked on it for two years, Arlissa’s solo material is stronger still, drawing unusual inspiration from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Crystal Fighters (with whom she’s recording for their album) and the rich, soulful vocals of Neneh Cherry. Arlissa is also an old lyrical head on young shoulders: a consistent theme across her debut album is her ability to turn her universal tales of teenage heartache into something more escapist, uplifting and strong. The album’s strident yet vulnerable first single ‘Sticks and Stones’ is about letting go of conflict and moving on - its evocative tribal rhythms contrasting with the kitchen sink dramas of her lyrics. Future single ‘Writing on the Wall’ is a dramatic and impassioned meditation on a breakup, but as its marching Latin beats and soaring chorus imply, this is not your traditional weepy ballad.
Already armed with a dauntingly strong set of songs, Arlissa bears a name you might not have heard before, but a sound you will hear a lot of in 2013.