Nashville singer/songwriter, Alyssa Trahan, felt drawn to Nashville after visiting on vacation with her family when she was younger. Trahan said, “I remember loving Nashville, thinking it was so cool. I felt like this was where I was supposed to be like something was pulling me here.” Alyssa would eventually “follow her gut” and move to Nashville. Since moving to town three years ago, Trahan has been writing, recording, producing, and playing a lot of shows around town. It was at Nashville Tour Stop, where I first met her, and I was finally able to sit down with the singer/songwriter to talk about life and music.
Alyssa’s Musical Journey
Alyssa Trahan is originally from East Rochester, New York, where she grew up loving music. She participated in several activities, in which music was a part. Alyssa said, “I was in dance, cheerleading, gymnastics, band, chorus, an Irish music group, and musicals.” Music was destined to be a part of her story. Trahan said, “My father was in a band before I was born. He would play guitar around the house every night. Listening to my dad playing guitar, I thought it was so cool. While I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was writing songs in my head. I would come up with stupid little melodies and words. I finally realized when I got older that these were songs.”
After learning the guitar, things began to snowball for Alyssa. The singer/songwriter said, “I wrote every second of every day. Eventually, I told my dad I wanted to start playing gigs. A local musician in the area asked me to be apart of his weekly show in the summer. I began to record music during high school. After graduation from high school, I played out, wrote every night, and recorded my music. Every day I would tell my dad about the new song I wrote, many of them were terrible, but I was still writing.”
Trahan would go on to college for two years to study music production. It was during this time, she told her dad, “I want to start going to Nashville for business trips.” Alyssa continued, “I came to Nashville a dozen times over a couple of years. People began telling me that if I was serious, I needed to move to Nashville.” In 2016, Alyssa Trahan would finally make a move to Nashville.
The Nashville Experience
The first year in Nashville for a singer/songwriter can be overwhelming for some, and for others, they hit the ground running. For Trahan, “Nashville was and wasn’t what I expected. It was a shock to see how many people are here and how good everyone else is. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a minnow in an ocean. Quickly, I realized I had a lot of growing to do. The first year, I worked my butt off. I wrote three times a day and practiced a lot.” It is apparent, Alyssa experienced tremendous growth as a writer, performer, and as a person. Trahan felt like she had to work that hard because of how talented everyone is in this town. It indeed forces you to up your game if you are going to make it in Nashville.
In some ways, Nashville surprised the singer/songwriter. Trahan said, “I was surprised at how supportive the whole community is. I was used to stupid competition and people trying to tear each other down. Not necessarily in Rochester, but online. I always heard the music industry is a dog eat dog business. However, I got here, and everyone seems genuine and kind. It’s competitive, but Nashville is more people-oriented. People in this town are great about introducing you to others.”
Like many other singer/songwriters in Nashville, Alyssa has to supplement her income with many side jobs, but they are all centered around music. In addition to songwriting, she plays a lot of gigs around town for tips. Trahan also records demos, produces projects for other artists, and doing freelance graphic design and website creation. The grind in Nashville can be frustrating and exhausting, but the people that have made it in Nashville kept on grinding. The singer/songwriter said, “My love for music keeps me motivated. I always have to remember why I moved here. Music is such a part of me that I can’t see myself doing anything else. Even when I feel down about the process, I want to write a song about it.”
Many people never chase their dreams because they fear they will fail, but you most certainly will fail if you never try. Alyssa Trahan said, “I was terrified to move here, but I kept thinking how much more terrifying it would be to look back on my life when my time on earth is almost up, and thinking back and saying wow, I didn’t go for it.”
The Writing Room
It seems Alyssa made the right decision to move to Nashville, as she signed a publishing deal with Dan Hodges Music in January 2018. Writing songs to pitch for publishing can be different for a songwriter since you have to be radio-friendly. According to Alyssa, her writing process typically begins with “a hook list, concepts, titles that I keep on my phone.” The singer/songwriter continued, “I may start with a melody that I record in my voice memos. “Because I’m a Girl” poured out, but other songs I may work on for a while. I try to focus on writing songs that are radio-friendly, but raw and can hit you in the feels. As a writer, it sometimes helps to feel what you are writing.”
Stories Behind the Music
Alyssa has released four singles in 2019: “Rocking Chair,” “Petty,” “Vinyl,” and “Blue Fire.” However, it was 2018 single, “Because I Am a Girl,” that garnered Alyssa a lot of attention. Trahan said, “Because I Am a Girl” came out of one of those times I was upset about the process in Nashville, but it ended up being a great song for my career. I received support and criticism from the song. It was rewarding to me that my song was able to change people’s minds on the subject.”
Trahan co-wrote “Petty” with Emily Daniels. Alyssa said, “We wanted to write a sassy song. We included as many Tom Petty references as possible.” The hook, “you ain’t Tom, so don’t be petty,” is very cool. Before I knew the backstory of the song, I honestly didn’t catch the references to Tom Petty.
“Vinyl,” written by Trahan and Ashley Scire, is about a relationship that is a classic, something that never goes out of style. The singer/songwriter said, “My sister had bought me a record player for Christmas. My songwriter brain immediately thought about how vinyl is classic, and relationships can be too.”
“Blue Fire,” written by Trahan and Mark Narmore, is probably my favorite of all the singles Trahan released this year. Alyssa admitted the story behind this song is a little nerdy. Trahan said, “I was at dinner one night, and I could see the chefs cooking. The flames were blue, and I remembered from high school chemistry class that blue flames are hotter than orange and red flames.”
Lessons Learned and Future Plans
There is a learning curve for a songwriter when they move to Nashville. Finding co-writers you have a rapport with, learning what rounds to play, and improving your songwriting are all lessons you have to learn. The need for self-care is often overlooked in the daily grind to make it. Trahan said, “I learned that you need to follow your gut. If it doesn’t seem right, then it probably isn’t. I also learned I need my sleep. If I do not get enough sleep, I get sick and anxious. It affects my performance.”
Trahan will spend much of the remainder of 2019 planning for next year. Alyssa said, “I plan on taking everything up a step. I have plans to release new music in January or February. The music will show my growth. I will also be playing more shows in 2020.” If you have not heard Alyssa’s music or seen her play live, do yourself a favor and do that today.
If by chance, you see Alyssa Trahan eating a basket of fries, pass her the mustard, and share your favorite moments from “The Office.” Undiscovered Nashville would like to thank Alyssa Trahan for taking the time to talk with us. We look forward to seeing your continued success in Nashville.