Italian singer-songwriter Alessia Labate had just finished writing her newest single, “Conversations with Myself,” in Bucharest as the pandemic began to loom large on the horizon, and she knew she was on the precipice of a “spiritual awakening.”
“I locked myself in my house before the official lockdown because I was really aware of what was about to happen,” she tells Audiofemme. “I started to read books about spirituality, and learning about the ego. I was already on that journey.” Labate returned to Milan – one of the first major cities in Europe to shut down – and began honing in on deep reflections about herself, something we’ve all done plenty of this past year. But Alessia Labate translates that reflection into her music, and “Conversations With Myself” acutely represents her new awareness.
She had written all the vocals before recording the single with top Romanian producers RIVIERA at HaHaHa Production, who put their own spin on the single. “All the songs I’ve released were basically written by me. This situation was different. There were five people in the room. Not everyone wrote but everyone was there to build a vibe,” she reveals. At first listen, “Conversations with Myself” has an easy electropop-driven melody, but with a lot of heart. And while RIVIERA mixed the single, they kept Alessia’s message. “The lyrics go pretty deep. But RIVIERA added fun elements. Perfect combination of happiness and sadness. When you mix different tastes, it makes something really unique,” Labate says.
“Conversations with Myself” pits Labate against her own ego. The music video was directed by Mattia Giordano, who helped Labate visualize that inner conflict. “Mattia had this great idea of this one-take scene for the whole video: me fighting with my ego, played by an actress. We are in this beautiful home in Torino, fighting and throwing things around. It’s really heated up,” she explains. Labate wears a vibrant orange skirt and white kitten heels, while her ego sports a black suit. Though she’s standoffish throughout, Labate makes her peace by the song’s end: “Yeah, no more faking I am fine/Cause I am learning how to fly/Finally I found my space/And now I really feel safe in my mind/No more killing feelings that are part of me/I’m happy that I now got conversations with myself.” Labate and her ego hug each other, and in the next scene, only Labate remains, wearing the black jacket, her two sides finally coexisting within one being.
Like so many musicians, Labate has put her career on pause as the COVID crisis plays out. Though Italy has been hit hard by the pandemic, it’s clear Labate has been able to carve out a sanctuary for herself. On our video call, I see her home studio behind her: a keyboard, electric guitars, and a microphone. Labate looks impeccably put together in a blue satin collared shirt, her hair perfectly flipped, curtain bangs pushed to the side. It’s as though she’s just returned from a jet-setting tour, though her most recent set was recorded live at home for Unlock Festival, a benefit for The Prince’s Trust charity initiative Million Makers produced in conjunction with NBC Universal.
Alessia Labate has been preoccupied with music her whole life. Her father was a music producer, and her mother was a dancer; this piqued her interest in contributing to the technical side of music. At just 12 years old, she was discovered on Italian talent show Io Canto; a few years later, she became a contestant on The Voice of Italy. These experiences gave her the opportunity to attend prestigious songwriting school Centro Europeo Toscolano – Mogol, where she began to create her own pop songs. The first of these were released in 2019: “Black Soul,” “Summertime,” and “Kings & Queens.”
2020 was just as productive, despite lockdown; Labate continued to release singles she had in her pocket and created music independently to stay sane during the tumultuous time. Evident throughout her catalog is her natural ability to collaborate – songs featuring Leonail, Josef Bamba, Juze, Jade Key, HZRD, Guy Arthur and more have landed on international pop charts throughout Europe and Asia, while her expressive vocals lend themselves well to features and remixes. She produced an EP for Nicolas McCoppin, and mentors a handful of emerging artists. She has more plans for livestreaming, but Alessia Labate says her heart is in live performances. “Seeing your progress in the music industry is very difficult, especially now during the pandemic. Numbers, shares, and followers matter only so much. The feeling of walking into a room and connecting with everyone is something different.”