Comedian Alana Johnston’s debut album is insane. Consisting of nineteen tracks, all one minute or shorter in length, with titles like “Podcast Dad”, “This One is For Jay-Z” and “Gain 50 Pounds”, it’s about loving your body, makin’ it work, and party moms with juicy thighs. As a whole, Self Esteem Party sounds like an auto-tuned mental breakdown, but in a good way. The songs are undeniably catchy and well-produced—listening to it, I’m not sure how to feel, but it does leave me pretty positive about my thighs. I talked to the LA-based Johnston about negativity (“rude-a-tude”), recording over the phone, and becoming a goth.
Noisey: Hiya! So, who the hell are you?
Alana: I grew up in Orangeville, Ontario and spent most of my childhood wearing pantyhose on my head, pretending it was long, beautiful hair because in reality I had a mushroom cut for no reason. Then I became a teenager and was like "I hate my life but I'm into these snacks" and grew my hair out super long until I gave myself dreadlocks. Then I moved to Chicago to do improv. The whole time I was there I cut my own hair. I was all, "My body, my choice" you know? Then I came back to Toronto. At this point my hair was just above my shoulders, which was okay I guess. Now I live in LA and my hair is really dry. This question was about hair, right?
Yes! You don’t normally do music, so what made you decide to make an album? BTW this question is not about hair.
I wanted a new challenge and an excuse to wear as much gold onstage as possible. I love comedy more than anything but if I could be Lady Gaga, I ABSOLUTELY would do it in a heartbeat.
And all the songs on it are less than 80 seconds long. What was all that about?
I only like to write the good parts of songs, no need for filler. I don't think I have ever listened to a song from start to finish in my entire life, so I wanted to save everyone the time of having to fast forward to the fun part of a song and just give them the goods right from the start!
I reeeeally enjoy “So What”—there aren’t enough songs with menstrual messages in pop music these days. What’s your favourite track on the album?
My favorite song is "Bizz Bizz Kiss" because of what it stands for. When I was in Syria two years ago having the breakdown of a lifetime, my cousins taught my sister Allison and I how to say a bunch of funny things in Arabic and two of the words they taught us were "Bizz" (which means "breast") and "Kiss" (which means "vagina"). The song I wrote is all about guys wanting to get up in my Boob, Boob, Vagina and how boss my body is (which isn't actually true but you just gotta roll with it sometimes).
So, who would you say Self Esteem Party for?
I think the people that really need to give Self Esteem Party a listen are the people that take themselves too seriously in life. Or people who are looking to have some hot and heavy jams on the go without committing too much time. It's for a business casual audience.
You worked with some more established Canadian musicians while you were writing and recording, right?
The guys I recorded the album with seriously brought the heat. I met Randal Savoy at a show and quickly fell in love with his music. At the time he was a group called BoyTech that performed electro-pop music in short gold shorts while working out onstage. Ian Docherty plays guitar in Dwayne Gretzky and July Talk and composes music for a lot of videos made around Toronto. Henry Fletcher was still playing with Henri Fabergéand the Adorables and working on his own solo projects as well. Henry’s a big dreamer so when he and I collaborated we went wild—the song "Best Friends For Life" sounds like a living nightmare where horses run the world.
I presume you mean that in a good way. How did you record all that?
I would call them and sing a song over the phone and then they would come up with the backing tracks to go with it. Unprofessional or too professional? You tell me.
What else are you working on at the minute?
Right now I'm working on a new goth lifestyle that I adopted two days ago. I accidentally went to a goth dance party and decided that I needed to dedicate my whole life to being goth which basically means posting about it online and bringing it up casually in conversation. I haven't really changed anything else, because the way I see it, goth is a state of mind. So, I'm working on some pretty big stuff right now.
Listen to Alana's shit here.
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