Aalok Bala finds her ability to explore and connect through music. When we think about what art makes us feel, we have to consider what it took for the artist to create something that would move us internally.
Aalok Bala found that her music would be the vessel for her listeners to feel what she was feeling at that moment. She breaks down what it means to be expansive through music and how her latest project taps into the delicacies of her being.
Aalok Bala Interview
Let’s first talk about your regional influences; from being Chilean-American to growing up in Queens and now making music in Los Angeles, how do you think those factors play into your artistry?
Aalok Bala: My core family group growing up was Latino, and growing up in Queens, you’re in this melting pot of cultures. I grew up in a Colombian neighborhood. What’s interesting is how the subconscious works; leaving New York and then being around L.A. culture, which at first was a lot of “Hollywood” – which was different [for me] – it took me a bit to take that in and say, “Oh, this is the culture! Okay!”
What’s cool is that I loved the integration of growing up in a busy city with all this Colombian music and then being around a lot of Latin food and Latin energy, and then coming to L.A., where there are a lot of Latinos too. I wasn’t around that so much initially, but when I moved to Northeast L.A. and Highland Park, where there’s a beautiful Mexican community, I got those vibes again.
I love Northeast L.A. so much because it reminds me of Queens. Then there’s this reverence for indigenous cultures in L.A. in general and spirituality that’s very much about honoring ancestral lineages. I loved this! So I started to connect even deeper with my own ancestry, which has a lot to do with the Andean mountains in particular.
It started to ring a bell, if you will, in terms of “This is who I am. This is where I come from. This is why I feel at home,” and being able to create a home for myself wherever I am. It’s been a nice journey and beautiful how that even opened up sonically in my music and how I write songs and melody.
The more I’m accepting of myself in those areas, the more I can channel those sounds without thinking, without trying.
Describe the element of time in creating your music in the sense that you connect the past, present, and future into one. What does that sound like for the listener?
Aalok Bala: You know, it’s incredibly subjective. In terms of the music, for anyone who has followed my journey through my past, there’s more integration of softness coming in. When I first moved to L.A., I slowly found my home. So there’s definitely a softness that’s come in me, and that’s reflected through the art.
In terms of progression and time-lapse, a fluidity is coming into the music and the expression that feels very true, very grounding, and very ethereal.
Do you feel like your listeners are feeling what you’re feeling at a certain point?
Aalok Bala: I hope so! That’s kind of the point, right? LOL. All of us, you know, we’re all creative. You’re living your life, feeling all these emotions, and taking in all this information. You’re slowly but surely synthesizing this kind of expression – whether, through a painting or a song or clothing or a texture, or a really good cup of coffee – whatever it is, you’re expressing what’s within.
When I’ve shared my music in terms of concerts or listening parties, I try not to look at how people as they’re experiencing it, but afterward, I like to make somewhat immediate eye contact, so I can get a feel for it what they’re feeling.
What’s been nice is I see this kind of expansion and “Ahh” moment, like settling in of sorts. And that feels really good because that’s where I am in the studio. When I began falling in love with music recording, I was like 17 or 18, and I was exposed to more studios. I would think, “Oh my gosh, I could stay here forever!”
And that was the place of ease for me or home for me. Now I hope that when people interact with the music, there’s a sense of comfort and expansion because I feel like that’s what I’m doing within myself. That’s what music does for me. It opens me up and allows me to
Let’s talk about your upcoming project. What can you tell us about it, and what direction are you going with its sound?
Aalok Bala: I’m so excited to share it! This next body of work is about a very delicate part of myself that I’m letting come through. In terms of melody and even how I’m singing, I’m trying to be okay with frailty, being a delicate being, and allowing that to come through in terms of feminine energy.
The theme of content deals with acceptance of beauty and allowing beauty to have its moment. So there are a lot of moments in the whole album that are about witnessing beauty.
In that sense, the work is very open and ethereal, but then there are also these very distorted beats that help bring you into the moment of what I’m talking about. Then there’s this very open space sonically, and I definitely feel like it’s my best work yet.
It’s been such a beautiful moment in my life to be able to create this body of work, and I’m finishing up all the little pieces. Soon enough, I want to reveal the name and the visuals we’re working on with my creative team.
I’m sharing some of that live through Soundscapes, and I’m going to be doing more live shows in L.A. and, hopefully, New York and Europe at some point. It’s bubbling up, and I’m excited to put it out there and interact with people.
Tell us something unique about you that your fans and audiences might not know.
Aalok Bala: A lot of my imagery in terms of how I express myself visually can be overwhelming sometimes and might seem unapproachable. I like to express very spiritual themes, but I’m actually a very down-to-earth person. In general, like when I’m in public, I’m a very friendly person.
My true self is very extroverted in social settings, and when I’m in my own kind of home space, I tend to get introverted. What’s important to me is authenticity.
That’s very big in terms of my ethos, how I live my life, and how I interact with my relationships. Authenticity and transparency are extremely important to me.
That’s definitely something that you don’t get to share as much on social media or in concerts where there are too many people to interact with at the same time. But when I get to interface with people in my relationships, friendships, and people who feel connected to the music and the art, I want them to feel like there’s this effort to communicate in whatever level, shape, or form.
Is there any specific messaging in your music that you want listeners to understand and grasp?
Aalok Bala: One song comes to mind, and there’s a lyric that says, “Oh, the beauty of it all. I’m a speck in the universe. It remains one of the most mysterious and magnanimous….” It relates to something that I like to do when I feel overwhelmed by my surroundings – whether it’s life, relationships, working your way through the industry, business, or balance – I have these moments where I like to zoom out. I look at myself as a story.
I think that’s where that lyric came from. Don’t get so attached to what you’re feeling and what you’re going through, but zoom out, zoom out, zoom out. In this universe, you really are just a speck. So it kind of helps in realizing it’s not all about you.
It’s not all about what you’re experiencing. Some people are experiencing so many things, and it’s about letting go, detaching, and understanding where you’re at.
If you could advise other young artists and creatives who want to express themselves through their art, what would it be?
Aalok Bala: Take a moment to not intake too much from outer influences. We can’t help but be influenced somehow, especially at this age. We have so much stimulation and so much information. But I would say, take a moment – you’ll always have the ability to go online or listen to other music, but listen to music that’s a little bit more instrumental.
Give yourself some space and sing or play with nothing. Start from nothing, and whatever the authentic thing is that’s coming out, create around that. What are you feeling? What are you hearing? What are you seeing? Whatever it is, reach for it, and in that reaching, there’s something there.
The theme of this issue is “Freedom.” You can interpret that in any way you’d like, but how does music make you feel free?
Aalok Bala: You know that line, “Hip-Hop saved my life.”? It’s like that. Yes, music. Music is life. The trees, the animals, the wind, the water. It’s music. Like when a baby is born, before they learn the language, the mother’s voice and the father’s voice and whatever they’re hearing it’s received through the part of the brain where music is heard or processed.
So for me, music in terms of freedom has permitted me to radically self-express. It’s that freedom to let loose and to explore. I feel like freedom is connected to exploring. If you’re not truly free, you can’t explore certain things. So if we ARE genuinely free, then we’re free to expand.