The thrill of a night with a new love interest may be a distant memory for some of us, but VISSIA’s latest single “On My Mind” will allow you to re-experience that feeling. The flirty track opens with ’80s-inspired synth, electric guitar, perky percussion, and sassy singing reminiscent of an old Madonna hit as Alberta, Canada-based alt-pop artist Alex Vissia sings about the kind of encounter that lets you completely surrender to the moment.
“‘On My Mind’ is a song about having a nice time with another person as intimately as you want, and it’s about really being in the moment and embracing that,” says Vissia. “You don’t have to worry about what’s happened before or what’s going to happen. You don’t have to hold back, and you don’t have to worry about crazy attachments happening with it.”
VISSIA worked with producer Nich Davies on the song, with the goal of making it light and fun to dance to. After demo-ing it on her phone’s Garage Band app, she built lyrics off a simple beat, then added breathy layered vocals to give the song a sexy feel, with Robyn in mind as an inspiration. “The way your body moves, I just want to feel it too/we don’t got a thing to lose/just take your time/you keep me coming back/I can hardly handle that/thought you would never ask what’s on my mind,” she sings in the energetic chorus.
The single comes from her forthcoming sophomore album With Pleasure, whose tracks run the gamut from motivational songs to breakup songs — as Vissia puts it, “there are some songs to cry to, songs to dance to, and songs to forward to a friend who might need to hear them.”
The genres of the songs, like the topics, cover such a wide span, you wouldn’t guess they were on the same album, beginning with “Doorway,” which melds country and rock. The next track, “My Wom,” is a bluesy ode to the strong women in VISSIA’s life, followed by the soul-inspired “The Cliffs,” the R&B ballad “Walk Me Home,” the electropop “Take It Apart,” and more.
The sonic diversity is largely due to the fact that VISSIA’s influences are quite varied, ranging from Motown to hip-hop. “I’m listening to a lot of different things these days because I’m just so inspired by the things being created,” she says. “I think With Pleasure definitely touches on a lot of my influences because the production does kind of vary. It sounds like a full album for sure, but I think if folks were to ask me specifically about each track, I could probably dig up an influence I was going for.”
With Pleasure marks a departure from VISSIA’s last album, 2017’s Place Holder, which mainly drew from roots influences and felt more solemn. In fact, the most recent album started off along these same lines, but evolved into something different. “When I started writing this record, I had a completely different idea for it that was maybe more introspective and serious,” she says. “As I started to write it, I kind of decided, no, this doesn’t make sense for me right now. This is a time to experiment and have fun with it. So [the title] With Pleasure is cheeky and it’s just about enjoying yourself.”
Vissia had already written a few of the songs by late 2019, when she began writing the bulk of the album in earnest. She continued writing some of them right in the studio in January and February 2020. This was the first record where she didn’t play the guitar, instead enlisting guest musicians while she focused on the vocals. Thanks to arts funding that allowed her to devote time to the project, she had the master tracks in her hands by August. “It was a process that was a lot quicker than what I’d done in the past,” she says.
VISSIA performed in a band with her two sisters when she was little, then went off to college and recorded her first album, 2011’s A Lot Less Gold, as soon as she got out. Last year, she began an Instagram series called Tuesdays Together, where she interviewed other musicians on Tuesday evenings. It was a way for her to facilitate interactions between artists that fans could watch during a time when such opportunities were limited. At the moment, she’s developing a podcast with a similar concept.
“It was just a really nice way to keep connecting with other people and kind of see how they were coping, see how they were making out, especially with 2020 being so difficult for creatives,” she says. “I was fortunate enough to spend time working on a lot of projects related to my career and work, but people struggle finding motivation, which is understandable. It was good to open up to these people and get to know them better and have artists open up.”
Quarantine has inspired her to take more walks and read more books, but mostly, she’s “living and breathing the work thing,” she says. “The place I live in, it’s like my bedroom is basically my studio and my office and where I sleep and rest. Maybe one day that’ll change, but right now, it’s an all right scenario.”
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