• Andy Shearer

Day 384 - Alas de Liona: My Time In Perth

From a small town in the Mojave Desert, Alas de Liona was an exchange student at Edinburgh University when COVID-19 hit. She moved to Perth to stay with a friend just before lockdown began and then focussed on recording new music. She's been releasing one song per month and this week premiered the beautiful Cascade along with a touching video, which Alas also directed. She tells us a little more about her time in Perth below.

Alas de Liona hails from a small town in the Mojave Desert and her final year at UC Santa Barbara saw her head to Edinburgh in Autumn 2019, to complete the course there.

Having originally studied religious history and folklore at college, she had an instant affinity with the city’s striking architecture and artistic lineage. During her stay, her main passion for songwriting and performing saw her starting to make a name for herself performing in Edinburgh pubs before the pandemic closed all venues. Her haunting vocals, often compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Phoebe Bridgers, are woven through lyrically complex, rich imaginal soundscapes.

Finally, free from the rigour of academia, Alas pursued her musical aspirations, recording Radio Astronomy EP in December 2020 with producer Rod Jones (Idlewild) at Post Electric Studios, Leith, Edinburgh.

"I wrote As Diamonds, a melancholy drone that would become the first track from my EP, Radio Astronomy, in Perth overlooking the Tay. I had recently finished a class on the history of religion and literature in Scotland and my imagination was alive with the dark sermons and ghostly spectres that populated much of our coursework.

Lockdown was still a few weeks out, COVID-19 was a faraway disease at that point, and life was peaceful. I took walks and visited an open mic night or two, riding the train to Edinburgh twice a week for my classes. I relished the peace and space in which I could write and work, away from the bustle.

Shortly after, when universities cancelled on-campus meetings, Perth really became my full-time home. Walks around North Inch and through Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park became my primary interaction with the outside world. I'll admit, it has been a bit sad living here almost entirely during lockdown, as my experiences are limited to a favourite cup of coffee and snack at the takeaway window of The Post Box Restaurant, trips to the grocery store, and watching water birds on the river. I have often passed shuttered museums, theaters, galleries, and pubs imagining an alternative timeline in which I could have seen and done more.

This is, of course, a common tale of the day-to-day during lockdown all around the world and is not unique to my experience, but I am endlessly glad to have spent this quiet time in Perthshire. Wandering the town and surrounding nature has given me a rare opportunity to write and reflect, but I do hope someday to return and experience all that this city has to offer. Until then I have many memories of the eerie peace of lockdown, of green pastoral scenery and wooded hills, of crunching around in the snow on North Inch, and now the yellow and purple flowers of spring. And I have many songs forever linked to this place."

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