Alisha Zalkin‘s new EP, March to a Different Beat, finds the San Diego singer-songwriter of Jewish and Mexican heritage establishing her own sound. In this special guest blog, Zalkin gives her take on the ephemeral songwriting process.
Songwriting is a very spiritual process for me. I like to take situations going on in the world and dig deep until I hit the truth of the matter. The way I know I’ve found that place is I’ll instantly hear a melody that comes straight from just being in the space of what I’m feeling. Once I’ve found the emotion and have let the melody form from within, I just start writing down everything. For me, the melody informs where I want to take a song lyrically. Once I’ve written everything out, I go back and begin to edit and formulate my message. For the most part it happens that way, but now and then I’ll read an article or a book and find inspiration for a lyric or a song title. I also love to co-write. The beauty of co-writing is being able to feed off somebody and turn a song into something you wouldn’t have created on your own.
This EP is a result of figuring out who I am and what I want for the world. Each song carries a bit of darkness but brings light, courage, and hope that only comes from within youreself. I chose to write about topics of self esteem, bullying, and my families history, because they are issues that people all over the world are dealing with. “March To A Different Beat” came out of a conversation I had with my dad about his life growing up as a first generation American in the 60’s and 70’s. Both of his parents survived the Holocaust. As the son of survivors he carried the weight of his parents emotional struggles having to start all over again in a foreign country. He also grew up at a time when America was undergoing a cultural and political revolution. He found himself trying to bridge two very different realities. There were many moments where he could have given up, or gone down a messed up path, but “in the dark where little light can go, you had the will to survive, and the hope that you felt when all else failed, became your strength to rise.” It really put a lot in prospective for me. It takes a teremendous amount of courage to pick yourself up, despite your circumstance, and make something out of yourself. If my dad wasn’t who he is and hadn’t gone through what he went through, then I wouldn’t be who I am. This story is about not giving up, because you never know what your life could be and the amount of lives you can change because of who you are as a human being.
Another issue I touch on is bullying in the song “Say It To My Face.” I had seen a special on bullying and something that really took me back was a kid who was being interviewed and said “it’s easy to bully onlline because you dont have to see the other kids reaction.” Immediately a rush of anger/frustration/pain ran through my body just thinking of my own experiences and how kids these days are suffering tremendously by cyberbullying. Tina Shafer, who I co-wrote the EP with, and I began discussing this issue in our writing session, and shared stories left and right about the bullying epidemic. This song was written as an anthem to empower and encourage those who think they dont have a voice, to speak up, be courageous and tell their bully how they feel. The bullying epidemic is so incredibly tragic, children are committing suicide left and right. People innately connect to music. When you don’t know what to say or how to express yourself, we turn to music. We need more music that encourages people to be bold and find strength from inside to stand up for themselves and love themselves!
This is why I love songwriting. Because you have the ability to create something for someone else. I view songwriting as a service. This career is not about me, in fact it has nothing to do with me. It is about creating music that inspires others to find inner peace, full self expression, and courage in order to promote a harmonious world!