Off The Record: Beloved Actress and Celebrated Pianist, Alicia Witt, Talks Songwriting, New Album, and More

“I started taking piano lessons the same year I made my first movie—I was 7,” Alicia Witt tells American Songwriter in the latest episode of Off The Record. “It was one of those instantaneous things where I felt like I had been playing piano my whole life. Unlike the stories that some of my friends tell where they were made to practice and work and they couldn’t wait to be done with it, I was the opposite—I wanted to spend all my time at the piano.” 

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These days, you’d probably recognize Witt from one of her many acting gigs—her aforementioned first film was David Lynch’s Dune and, since then, she’s been in Twin Peaks, Orange Is The New Black, Two Weeks Notice, 88 Minutes (alongside Al Pacino), I Care A Lot and more. But through it all, she had the support and comfort of one of her dearest friends: the piano.

But Witt is more than just a performer—she’s a composer too. Almost as soon as she began getting comfortable with the keys beneath her fingers, she started using them to express herself. “Now, I can’t imagine my life without writing songs and sharing them with other people,” she said.

On September 24, Witt unveiled The Conduit, her fifth studio album. Clad with intimate and heartfelt tunes penned (and produced) by Witt herself, the ingenuity of the harmony and the wit of the lyrical flow demonstrates the knack she has for songcraft.

At times feeling like soul, at other times like Americana, musical theater, folk or classic vocal music, the bottom line is: the record is an exhibition of a timeless American sound. Paired with Witt’s storytelling songs—which often make you feel as if you’re sitting right inside her head, viewing the world through her eyes—it’s a truly transportive record, lifting you from this world and taking you on a wondrous stroll. For her part, Witt is overjoyed that folks can finally go on that journey with her. 

“I can’t wait for these songs to be out there where people can absorb them and apply them to their own soundtracks,” Witt said. “Now, they’re going to take on a whole new life and finally get out of my secret head, where I’ve been hearing them for so long now. Time to put them out there and start working on the next one.” 

Alicia Witt’s new album The Conduit is out now—watch her episode of Off The Record below:

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