Alina Baraz on “Feels Right” and crafting perfect harmonies with Khalid

The R&B dynamo is back with a new song and video.

September 21, 2018

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On Friday, R&B singer Alina Baraz debuted a prismatic video for "Feels Right," the first followup to her moody April album The Color of You. It's a whispery song with some killer melodies, which plays to all of Baraz's strengths. Earlier this week, she stopped into The FADER office to talk about her new single, what life is like on tour, and what she learned from Coldplay.

What was your favorite part of making the video?

It's very representative of the song itself. I don't know what it is about ATVs and cars it's just something about it that feels so free — I wanted an ATV from the start. Everything else, I just wanted it to feel like an installation. We figured a lot of things on the fly, outfits too. It felt just like the song — very free — that's my favorite part about it.

Your music is very romantic. What's the most romantic thing you've heard related to the way your music is received?

I'm such a romantic that everything is romantic to me. If my fans ask someone on a date, I'm like, "oh my god that's so romantic." I fall for anything. A couple got engaged at my show in Orlando. I brought them on stage, it was these two girls. I love it, not to be selfish but it was so amazing. I was just happy they wanted me to be a part of it. They said they fell in love to "Electric," so I brought them out right before "Electric."

I was going to ask about that song and singing with Khalid. Why do you think your voices work so well together?

It's just one of those things that I don't really question. It's one of those special moments where it feels otherworldly. I try not to think about it and just be thankful that it's here and I get to experience it and so does everyone else. There's literally no one else that I would rather harmonize with. [Our voices] go together really well. We go into the studio and something just comes out in minutes. It's crazy.

There's a meme of Khalid where it looks he is the one meeting the famous person and I feel like your pics together are the best example of it.

[laughs] He's such a smiley ball of sunshine. Every time, I'm so happy. We just laugh.

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Your music is so focused in mood and tone. Are there artists or key songs that inspire what you create?

I don't think it's a direct influence or inspiration. I love Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Amy Winehouse. There's intention in their lyrics and that's what inspires me. The lyrics and the poetry of it yes, but the intention is what directly influences me.

How has making your music changed since moving from recording in your bedroom versus an actual studio?

I think just accepting the change. Before, I didn't want to work with any writers. I wanted to write this myself and I was super sensitive to change. Then someone came in and they had brought in a notebook and scribbled my thoughts and they showed me "this is what you just said" and I was like wow we wrote a song from the scribbles. [writers name is Schoon.]

How does touring help or hurt your creative process?

I think both. Depends where I'm at mentally. It's not my pure passion, my passion is writing music. This is what comes with it. It's not a sacrifice, but it's a commitment for sure. I can't really do both. I fantasized about doing both — I made a whole studio in the back of my bus. I haven't touched it but I look at it and I miss it. It helps just seeing speakers.

When you opened up for Coldplay on tour, did you get any valuable lessons from the band?

Chris Martin is probably the most realest artist/person I've come across. He gave it to me straight and said how it was like, I know you got a shit slot for opening up right now but you're going to look back on this...He just kept it very real and pushed me.

Earlier, you said you were a romantic. Is there an early memory you have about first putting those feelings to song?

When I was young, I didn't think about music like that. It's a really weird mentality, but I was like I can't sing but I knew it was going to be my career. I didn't really think about songs at that point. I definitely thought about intension and the law of attraction even though I didn't know what that was. My earliest memories are these weird dreams on stage. I felt like I already did it and was watching back on my past life.

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Alina Baraz on “Feels Right” and crafting perfect harmonies with Khalid