Alana Maria is ready to fly the flag for the UK RnB scene. Inspired by soul veterans like Brandy and Aaliyah she’s taken all her favourite bits from the noughties, including the fashion, and made a hybrid vibe that’s entirely her own. “My music stands for being yourself. It’s about being happy, loving yourself, treating yourself right and being around good people. That’s what my music is about, that’s what I want it to stand for.”
Signed to Atlantic Records, the west London artist has already worked with the UK’s hottest talent including the masked afrobeats star Midas the Jagaban. With the single dropping earlier this year, it’s clear to see Alana’s still on a high from collaborating with the hitmaker. “Working with Midas was such an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to have worked with her. As soon as I heard her verse on the song, it was straight FIRE.”
Since her breakthrough last year, Alana has amassed over 300k views to date with her Instagram and is rapidly establishing her status on TikTok with over 350k likes. Her swaggy braids (which we come to find out she does herself) and street cool style makes her a breath of fresh hair to the music scene. Here, we get to know the 20-year-old on a deeper level and cover everything from social media fame to the virtues of beauty…
Even thought you’re a noughties baby you nail the nineties aesthetic. What draws you to this throwback era?
I guess it’s the carefree vibe. Everything was pure and filled with positive vibes and that’s what resonates with me most of all.
You’ve got an old and new school sound. Tell us about your process when creating music.
Honestly, it’s an extremely vulnerable process. A lot of people wouldn’t understand the energy that goes into making a song. Being an artist means you have to deal with emotions head on as one beat can make you relive a lot of buried feelings you thought you’d dealt with. Writing lyrics is the most vulnerable stage as you’re putting every thought, feeling and emotion on paper and it’s for everyone to judge and hear. It’s like having no privacy or secrets, but once it’s out my system I feel so much better.
What can you tell us about the vibe of your next two tracks that are dropping soon?
The next two tracks are very different to each other but they’re both based on good energy and you can vibe to both of them on REPEAT. I promise!
Who’s your dream collaboration?
That’s a difficult question because I love so many genres. I’m going to say a few of my favourite artists that would be a dream come true: Brandy, Young Thug, SZA, Kehlani, Anderson .Paak, Lucky Daye, Wizkid, J HUS, Dave, Tiana Major9 and so much more...
As an artist you’re able to work with talented hairstylists. What’s been your favourite look?
So far the majority of the hairstyles I’ve worn for shoots have been styles that I wear as an everyday look. I like to show people the real me on camera and off. I want people to know what you see is what you get and I’m always myself to the fullest. If I had to pick one, I’d say probably the All Me pt.2 video shoot with the girlies Rebecca Garton, Ling Hussle and Tia Carys. I braided my own hair and added green highlights.
Hold up, wait a minute! You actually braid your own hair? Where did you learn and how long does it take?
After transitioning to natural I taught myself how to braid my own hair. I used to wear French braids 24/7. Depending on the style and length I want, it varies from around three to nine hours.
How do you maintain your natural hair when they’re not in a protective braid style?
I make my own deep conditioning treatments using avocado and egg. I also use a lot of oils like argan, coconut and olive oil. I have so many products on my shelf but the brands I like to use the most are Cantu, Shea Moisture, The Mane Collection. I’m a certified product junkie.
Will we ever see you in a wig or sporting your natural hair any time soon?
100 per cent! I always show off my natural hair. There’s even photos on my socials with my natural hair all out.
Before music you were modelling. Why did you make the career move and do you have any regrets?
Music became such a huge passion that it took over the other hobbies and creative things I enjoyed doing, such as modelling, dancing and athletics. I don’t have any regrets as the career I have now has always been my dream job. But I’d definitely like to get back into modelling.
How important do you think it is for today’s artists to show different forms of beauty?
It’s very important to show different forms of beauty but only if it makes you feel powerful and confident within yourself! My mantra is always do what feels best for YOU.
Going back to hair, drake shaved a heart into his hairline because of a thinning hairline. Have you had any similar dramas?
I have to admit I understand why Drake did it. He’s in the public eye and it’s important you feel your best. I went through a lot of drama trying to figure out my hair texture and the porosity. It was hell because I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’ve finally figured it out though – I’m 4a-4b and low porosity.
Having achieved so many successes in your career so far and at a young age, what keeps you grounded?
I feel like the main thing keeping me grounded is knowing no matter how much success I have already achieved, there’s still so much more to come. For me this only feels like the start and because I’ve come this far it keeps me feeling grateful and humble.
How do you feel about being an influence on young women and girls who might want to follow in your footsteps one day?
I’m extremely excited about it. I feel like knowing people see me as an inspiration is what keeps me pushing even harder as I know how hard it is in this society to just BE YOURSELF!
The news has dropped that X Factor has been axed. What’s your opinion on TV talent shows?
I think it’s a great way for people to broadcast their talent, but I don’t really think it's authentic. I believe there’s always a subliminal plan behind it.
You’re super popular on TikTok – what do you think of TikTok stars and finding fame on the growing platform?
I think TikTok is a great app to show creativity and new ideas alongside humour and entertainment. I’ve learned a lot of educational things and witnessed amazing unique businesses being created through the platform.
Besides your music and modelling skills, what’s your secret talent?
I was an athlete the majority of my life! I used to compete in 100m and 200m hurdles and relay. If I wasn’t an artist now, I’d definitely still be on the track.