Not to dwindle down all your hard work to your age, but how does it feel to have all these titles to your name at such a young age? Model, radio host, actress, model, singer, the list goes on… Alli: It’s pretty surreal to me. I think because growing up in Australia, I moved here as a complete novice to the whole thing and it was for Cody, my brother, originally, when he came here for music. And I sort of came here like “Okay cool, let’s go to America!” thinking it was this big deal and it’s crazy how we’ve ended up here. I never would’ve thought, you know? I was really, really grateful for even the opportunity to come here and have my mind open to these opportunities and finding my passion and dipping into so many things. It’s amazing I’ve even been exposed to this world, and cool that I can say at 19 I’ve done all those things. It’s definitely something I could be proud of for myself.
I just wrapped up my show with Radio Disney very recently. I was there for two years, which was amazing, it was called The Alli Simpson Show and I had so many amazing guests on the show. It was a dream. I got to meet so many of my favorite people.
I actually tried doing radio myself, and it was just so hard to pre-record and then listen to it back. I was just so critical of everything that I just gave it up. Alli: Radio’s tough! It took some time for me to get used to that. It was really weird, like I’d rather hear myself sing than talk back. It was a really weird thing, but it’s definitely helped me in so many ways. Like, I’ve built so many skills and tools from my radio experience. It’s helped me come out of the box and be my own person and handle myself in different rooms.
How’d you get started in music? Alli: I’ve recently started focusing on my music thing. Two years ago I had a couple singles out, and that was all in fun because I grew up in a musical family and had musical people around me. Cody was like, “Why don’t you just record a song for fun?” because he always thought I was a good singer, and I was really shy at the time. It was completely not what I wanted to be doing at the time. But I gave it a try, and he came into the studio with me for the first time and it sort of stayed as a hobby back then. I was always a musical person, I grew up with a musical family singing, playing guitar my whole life. It’s sort of weird that two years later I’ve come full circle and come back around to finding this passion for music and songwriting that I never really knew I had. I think just over my experience in the music industry, being around my brother and friends who are also songwriters, I’ve put myself in situations that were out of my comfort zone and ended up finding out what I really wanted to do. Sort of like a life lesson for me as well, to step outside the box sometimes and you might find yourself in a situation that may change your life. The music is a recent love of mine, and now I can’t stop. I want more. It’s a cool feeling to have found that.
“It’s like a life lesson. Step outside the box and you might find yourself in a situation that my change your life.”
And your fans are definitely digging it… Alli: They’re definitely digging it! It’s a really cool feeling to have them connect with me in that way, through my songwriting and music to hear my story. Anything to make them happy.
I know you were on the road with Cody for a little while, and did a few acoustic sessions with him. What’s it like working with your brother, because I work with my sister and it can get tough sometimes. Alli: For Cody & I, people think we’re really weird because I could not tell you one time we had an argument in our whole life about anything. We’re close in age, just twelve months, and we also have a younger brother who’s thirteen. It’s insane, there’s not one time we’ve ever had an argument about anything. I think that makes it really cool working together in this industry because he’s really my biggest fan, and I’m the same with him. It’s amazing to have each other as this go-to. Anytime we write a new song or work with someone, we send it to each other, and ask “what do you love? Hate?” and critique each other. It’s really cool to have him as a bouncing board. I feel like he’s been through the best and the worst in the music industry, bene through it all over the past five years and it’s amazing to have each other.
Maybe it’s an Australian thing and you guys are just more chill (laughs)! Alli: Definitely not an Australian thing (laughs) because some of my friends fight with their siblings too! Maybe it’s a Simpson thing. I’m very lucky, I have an amazing family.
How has your experiences in the industry as a personality (on radio, on social media, as a presenter) had an effect on your sound/songwriting? Alli: Ooh, that’s a good question. Over the past couple years, I’ve grown so much as a person and I think now that I am songwriting– I mean, I was always a writer, writing in my journals since I was ten. I was always an emotional, subdued kind of person and wrote every thought and emotion down in my journal, and bringing that into my music it’s definitely had an effect on my music. And being able to showcase my thoughts and feelings through my music is really cool. My experience in the music industry has shaped me and sort of where I’m going to go now. It’s cool.
Your music is really like a personal diary that you could look back at after X amount of years and recall what you were feeling, good or bad. Alli: Yeah totally! Or more like a public diary haha. It’s cool to have people share your story, or relate to it in any way. Whether it’s exactly like what I’m going through or similar and they can still see me. I’ve always been an open book, and wanted to be that way with my audience, so they can know me as much as my family knows me… maybe not that much. But to just be an open book, be vulnerable and that’s key.
What inspires you? Whether it be other artists, fine art, tv/film, life… Alli: What inspires me… Hm, I feel like this is such a big question. I’m inspired every day. I think I’m more so inspired by other people. I get inspired by people and their passion. Alex [Aiono] is a great example because we’ve been close for a couple years, people like that, or people like my brother or mom or dad, people that aren’t even in the industry. People just working jobs and are passionate about it. I was talking to a guy that was telling me about his art craft that was something really random, it didn’t even make sense, with little knick knacks, but he was so passionate about it. The way he talked about it and how it came about. To see that passion, it’s just inspired. I think if you keep an open mind, I think you can find inspiration anywhere.
People and places. Alli: Good answer. I could’ve totally just said that, instead of talking forever about it haha. People and places for sure.
I started traveling more this year and I keep coming back with so many ideas. Alli: It’s photography, fashion, your surroundings! You look at something and say “Ugh! I want to do that.”
Or just seeing friends do dope shit. Alli: Yes! Totally. Taking the words right from my mouth.
Tell me about “Material Boy.” Without naming names, was it about a specific experience? Alli: Yep. Definitely was. “Material Boy” was one of the first songs that I really wrote that I felt completely connected to. I went in with a couple other songwriters that worked on it, Ferras, Johan and Myah Marie, they’ve worked with like Katy Perry and Britney Spears, and we sat inside this room and they were just like “What’s going on in your life right now?” And the first thing that came to mind was this guy! I need to write about it. You get the whole vibe about the superficiality in LA and dating, it does become tough as a woman. Trying to find someone who really likes you for you.
It’s everywhere, and it’s not just in the industry. It’s just the reality of dating in this generation. Really unfortunate because I’m a hopeless romantic, and so is my brother. He still like writes letters to girls. I feel like we’re living in a different century. It does suck, it really does make me sad the way dating has been going these days, and I wanted to find a way to share my experience, and I was pretty specific in this song, and it was modeled after exactly what I was going through. If anyone can relate, or if I can inspire anyone to walk away from someone and feel empowered, cool!
Who’s the model in the video? Alli: He’s actually a close family friend of ours. He’s Cody’s roommate. They live together in West Hollywood and his younger sister is one of my best friends. We sort of grew up together.
It must’ve been nice pouring the drink over him (laughs). Alli: Yes! (laughs) Exactly! He’s like my older brother. He’s getting into acting and he’s really talented. He’s obviously super cute, so we were like “Okay, let’s do it!” It was really funny because Cody came visited set right when I would pour it on his head. So he said he came at the perfect time. It was really fun and it’s always fun to work with people you’re close with.
Tell me about The ShareSpace. Alli: The ShareSpace was awesome! It was a music competition show. X-Factor stopped back home and they were trying to figure out what the new way to find new talent was, and obviously with social media, they came up with this idea. They’d pick a different artist every day and it aired for 30 days on YouTube. It was a crazy shooting schedule. All the episodes are up now, so normally I’d wait for more episodes, but now they’re all up so you can binge them. It was really fun, and hilarious and at the end of the thirty days, the artist with the most social traction (likes, comments, streams) would win and get signed to Sony. It’s a pretty big deal. It was cool for me and my co-host Jai to sort of act as mentors as people who’ve been in the industry for a while to see young and up-and-coming artists who were really passionate, wanted it so bad, and working so hard everyday.
Did you find that, while you had to stay unbiased throughout, you were picking favorites through the series? Alli: I was definitely unbiased about the whole thing because I ended up becoming quite close friends with all of them. They were all so unique in their own way that I couldn’t favor one. They all had their own sound and personalities, so it was cool to see them evolve at the end of the thirty days. I’m sure judges and things do favor contestants, but I just couldn’t do it.
Who are you excited to see perform at Jingle Ball? Alli: Hmm, at the show I’m excited to see Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran is always incredible live, he’s so real it’s insane. G-Eazy and Halsey, I’m so excited to see. I love their new song “Him & I”. Charlie Puth is another one. Is that everybody? I feel like I named the entire lineup. I just love live music. I love watching how people put together their shows and how they like to perform their songs. I just think it’s so cool.
Are there any artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future? Alli: Ooh, good question. Madonna’s always been one for me. It’d be really cool to work with her or like Britney Spears. They are my idols, I love them. But I also grew up listening to people like Jack Johnson and John Mayer, I think with my acoustic-side of things, my heart wants to work with them as well. AND THEN, I have this side of me that wants this big DJ song, The Chainsmokers or Kygo. I’m just all over the place.
What up-and-coming artists have you been into? Alli: I know that he’s not so much up-and-coming anymore, but he’s killing it on the newer front, Lauv. I think he’s amazing. He’s such a talented songwriter. Not just his own music, but his voice, his tone, I think he’s also worked with so many other people. I do feel like he’s on the newer front and he’s just completely blown up. He also seems just like a really nice guy as well. I love seeing people who are doing so well and are really nice people and grateful for the experience. I feel like later I’m going to be so annoyed and remember someone else.
If you had to live off of one food, what would it be? Alli: I’ve always said sushi or fro-yo. It’s two ends of the spectrum. If I could live off sushi and fro-yo for the rest of my life, I’d be so happy.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently? Move out here sooner and get started earlier maybe? Alli: That’s definitely a good way to think. Because it was something so temporary, I didn’t really think about it. I do wonder what it would’ve been like if I found this love earlier and started sooner. But then I think like, well I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason” so I don’t have regrets. I feel like if there’s anything in my life that I wasn’t happy with, or “I probably shouldn’t have done that…” it bothers you for a bit, but then I get out of it because I wouldn’t be the person I am today. No matter how bad it was, or anything I’ve been through, I just think that all of it has shaped me. I probably wouldn’t even go back and change anything. I’m happy with where I am, and I’m going to continue to make mistakes and as we all are, it’s just going to continue to shape me as a person.
“I’m going to continue to make mistakes. It’s just going to continue to shape me as a person.”
What’s your all-time favorite movie? Alli: I’m a big classic movie girl. I love 10 Things I Hate About You. I watched that again the other day. I think Heath Ledger is amazing. The Breakfast Club, also a favorite. I have this weird obsession with, obviously, Harry Potter. And then Batman: The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger. Harry Potter’s got a soft spot in my heart.
Are you going to watch the new one?! Alli: Oh yes, I’m watching everything and anything to do with Harry Potter. Same with Cody and my younger brother, that’s the thing the three of us do together. We can watch all the movies everyday. It doesn’t even become boring. We know all the lines. Especially #4, Cody will say the line as it’s coming. We all have our lines that we say.
What was your last Google search? Alli: Oh my God, can I look? This makes me nervous. Marquee New York! It probably sounds like I’m confessing I went out last night. I was looking for my friend, I looked up the address for him. Before that was 10 Things I Hate About You poem! There it is!
What’s next for Alli Simpson? Alli: I think more music. As 2018 is coming around the corner, I’ve got so much more new music that I’ve finished that I’m so excited about. I can’t wait to release it. As the New Year comes, it just more music.
What are your plans for 2018? I know you say that you're living your dream now, but do you still have any dreams that you wish would come true? ☺️
Alli: Hmm, languages I want to learn: I actually learned French, Chinese and Japanese. I couldn’t speak fluently, but I could understand it. Now living in the US, I just really want to learn Spanish. I’d also love to be more fluent in French.
Alli: I think this year was a big year for me, personally. I went through so much this year, good and bad, that so many things that happened in my career and personal life that stand out and got me to where I am mentally today. It was a big growing year for me, which makes me really excited for next year because I’m in a really good mental space.