Allison in Queeryland
Allison Weiss, singer songwriter and poster child of Kickstarter, discusses her upcoming album, her new crowd funding campaign and her gay firsts.
Photos by Shervin Lainez
Unless you are a fan of Tumblr and are a lesbian living in New York, then chances are you haven’t heard of Allison Weiss. But it’s high time you remedy that and hop on the fabulous bandwagon—because we’re about to introduce you to your new favorite musician.
Her music is reminiscent of old school No Doubt, yet grounded in the roots of folk. Weiss is a self-proclaimed folk singer, a fan admired pop singer and a borderline rock singer. And clearly this synergy of styles is working, because thanks to her unique sound, Weiss is one of the poster children of Kickstarter.com, the crowd-funding website. In fact, her first album, Was Right All Along, was completely funded by fans on Kickstarter in 2009. She raised triple the amount of her goal.
Now on the verge of launching another Kickstarter campaign to fund her second album, I Was An Island, Weiss is still amazed by her first experience with crowd funding. “I was only trying to go for a couple grand the first time around just to test the water. And it was pretty incredible to see how well I could actually do. I had no idea honestly that it would be so successful. But this time around it’s going to be a bigger goal because I’m actually trying to fund the entirety of the record.”
In preparation for her new album Weiss has all but locked herself away in the studio. “Every day I come here at noon and work until midnight. So I’ve kind of lost touch with the world,” she says. The challenges of putting out the album haven’t stopped her from looking toward the future. “Ten years from now is such a long time. I feel like my musical goals that I want to reach can hopefully happen a lot sooner than that. I would just like to see the hard work that I’m putting in now just take everything to a higher level. Right now I’m making music and I can pay my rent doing it, and it’s a thing that I can technically do for a living, but I would like to see that all move up on a larger scale. I basically want to be able to tour and play for as many people as possible, and I want be able to make records whenever I want to, however I want to, with whomever I want to, without having to worry about how I’m going to fund it.”
What can Weiss fans expect with her second record? “In the second album you can look forward to everything being a lot more fun than the last record. So far all the songs are louder and they’re faster. It’s sort of got a little bit more of a pop-punk feel as much as a folk singer-songwriter record can because that’s the genre of music I happen to love. So, you can look forward to a really good fun time, but then also some more sad songs. It seems like my new record is like really upbeat, excited and happy and fun and full of energy, but then lyrically it’s a breakup record.”
The new album won’t mark the first time Weiss has strayed into heartbreak territory for her source of creativity. “I pull from lots of different relationships all the time. I’ve never written one record specifically about a specific relationship. A lot of the songs on this record are sort of in relation to breaking up with my first girlfriend, which was a very intense, sad thing for me. But it was also something that opened a lot of doors, and like I said, that was when I started participating more in the queer community—getting more comfortable in my own skin. I cut all my hair off, and started dressing the way I always wanted to dress.”
Weiss told us that she was worried about what her friends and family would think about cutting her hair and changing her style, and remembered the thoughts she imagined they would say to her. “Why did you stop wearing dresses? Why are you only wearing button ups? What’s with the tie? Why is your hair short?’ You know what I mean? But once you can just say fuck it, and do what you want to do, and your friends — you realize that your friends and family don’t actually notice — or they’re like, ‘Oh that’s a cool shirt that you’re wearing.’ There you go, and then the next thing you know you’re doing exactly what you wanted to.”
One of the things that is striking about Weiss is her honesty, and her ease in opening up about sexuality. It’s a trait that translates equally well into her music, which comes off as both honest and intimate, off-hand and incisive. Despite her easy candor today, coming to the realization she was gay was not as straightforward for the singer-songwriter.“ I sort of had a feeling [that I was gay] since I was in middle school, which was probably like the same time that I learned what a lesbian was. And I was like, Oh god! Why does this sound so familiar? You know what I mean? I’m sure a lot of people have had the same experience. But I also felt like I really liked boys, and I had sort of dated some boys. And every time I would like a boy, I would be like, This is great. I really like this guy. Hopefully this means I’m not gay. But, you know, it was a scary thing. It was very frightening until I grew up more, I feel like. And I got into college and I started hanging out with more gay ladies and sort of realizing that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of, and it was stupid. Why was this the thing that scared me?”
Both albums deal with heartbreak with women, but this does not exclude the possibility of men playing a romantic role in Weiss's life. “I’m super attracted to women. And all I’m interested in right now is in dating women. But sometimes boys are so cute. You know what I mean? And I feel like human beings in general probably have a lot more fluid sexuality than some of them may think. You love who you love, and I feel like I love people. Most of those people happen to be women.”
Confidence, motivated and excited— these are the qualities of Weiss as both a musician and a person. These are also qualities Weiss saw in the queer community when she shared her first gay pride experience. “I didn’t actually get to attend the pride parade in New York, but what I did go to was the New York Dyke March, which was amazing. It was so much fun. It was just like — it was so cool to just be marching through the city with all these other people who were exactly like me, which was something that I have never experienced before. The night that gay marriage got passed was the first sort of night of pride weekend. So I went to Greenwich Village and hung out in front of Stonewall. It was just amazing to be in this mass of people who were all so excited about this one thing that we all finally got.”
Something else we all finally have in common — a love for Weiss. Where can you find your new favorite singer-songwriter's music who couples heartbreakingly honest lyrics with an upbeat danceable tune? You can listen to her music, download free songs and find out where you can see her live by visiting her website allisonweiss.net. If you sign up for her free song download, "Fingers Crossed," you'll be kept in the loop about her upcoming projects, such as the launch of her second Kickstarter campaign.