She’s lap-danced in front of Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. She’s played a serial killer, a forensic psychiatrist and even appeared opposite Al Pacino. Yet there’s another side to Alicia Witt – a far more expressive one. And for the people of London this week, they’ll be able to savour the critically-acclaimed musical delights of a singer/songwriter who is taking charge of her own future.
“I don’t have a manager, a booking agent, a publicist or any of that for my music. In that way, it’s been even more of an adventure. I’ve learned what I know of the music business at this point simply from doing it myself and talking to friends who have been in it longer than I have. I just try to absorb as much as I can from every experience. At some point in the near future, I feel that I will need to try and figure out a management/booking agent situation, but the good thing about knowing so much about how to do it yourself is that you’re not so much looking for someone to help manage the day-to-day, but someone to really put almost as much into it as you do yourself— which is much harder to find.”
Alicia’s work is helped along by a devoted army of friends and followers the world over.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have an army of dear friends, fellow musicians and countless people who have helped me in every way from spreading the word to making introductions, to just being supportive and listening. Without them, I would absolutely not have been able to do what I’ve done so far.”
Alicia’s musical life started from a young age. Playing the piano from the age of seven, she has embraced the power of music to its fullest.
“I loved piano from the moment I started to take lessons. It felt as though it was something I had always been meant to do. For me, it was an enormous creative outlet and I never felt like practicing was something I was under any pressure to do. The classical competitions were what I looked forward to the most. However, by the time I was about 12 or 13, I was starting to realise that I definitely didn’t want to be a classical pianist as a vocation; the pressure on you as a kid to practice and even to play a certain way grows as you advance in levels, and I had no interest in applying to Juilliard or pursuing that sort of disciplined musical life. I’d already completed a film when I was seven (Dune) and I knew I wanted to do more of that. By the time I had moved to LA at 14, I knew that music would always be a part of my life – and that I wanted to write and sing my own songs. Acting took a big precedent over it for a long time though.”
But juggling so many creative talents requires a lot of copious amount of work.
“I think trying to manage the time is the most challenging thing about what I do. Lately I’ve been travelling a whole lot, and that’s a big part of my life in general – trying to balance the acting and music careers. Sometimes, when I’m home for a week at a time, it does feel a little all over the place. For me, having too much downtime is not a good thing though, so writing and making music has been an enormous gift. All the spare time I used to have, even while filming something, is now filled with creating songs. There are always about five unfinished ones knocking around in my head at any given time.
“My genetic makeup is very much like a night owl – like most musicians I know. I often go to bed at 4am but I write anywhere and anytime. Often I’ll have a conversation with someone or just a random thought while I’m out and about, take a quick note on my phone and then go to work on it later. Sometimes it has a melody attached; sometimes only lyrics at first with some sort of basic rhythmic structure but nothing else.”
For any true artist, especially one who invests so much time in their work, there has to be a goal, something that drives them. Alicia’s fans in the UK have been pestering her to visit Blighty for years. And sure enough, she’s hopped on a plane to bring her music directly to them in person.
“You know, I really just want to bring my music to as many people as possible and see what happens. There’s no greater feeling than when a stranger gets in touch with me and tells me a song meant something or related to their life, or helped them through a rough patch; or as happened at my last LA show when the entire front row were standing at the edge of the stage singing along to my songs! I don’t think I could ask for too much more than that. For me it’s really about keeping on with it and putting it out there and taking it to as many ears as I can. Then the rest is up to the people who find it. I’ve travelled to play in the UK this week only because so many people have reached out to ask for London shows, so they really made that happen. I’ve been looking forward to finally playing here for so long now.
“It’s not the first time Alicia has been here. “I have spent a great deal of time here. My film The Upside of Anger was shot entirely in London, so I had a flat in Notting Hill for two months; then a few months later I ended up doing a play (The Shape of Things) which ended up in the West End, after runs in Plymouth and Brighton. A few years later, I did another play at the Royal Court – Piano/Forte. I have many friends who live in London, many of whom I haven’t seen in way too long now. It’s one of those places I’ve felt instantly at home in and have missed a whole lot.”
But there’s plenty more to come from the flame-haired singer.
“I feel like I’m only just getting started in all aspects of my life. It is important to sit back now and then and say: ‘Holy Shit! I’m playing at Brixton Academy!’ You’ve got to enjoy those moments. I also know that as soon as I’m done playing there, I’m just going to want even more than I do now!”