Popping Up: Jocelyn Alice
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Rihanna and Katy were once unknown, too.
When Calgary native Jocelyn Alice felt the rush of singing her first solo at the age of 10, she never looked back. A self-described “hyperactive young child,” Jocelyn had a problem with authority — until her 4th grade music teacher opted to “discipline” the budding young artist by having her do the heavy work in her school’s choir.
“I’ll never forget that moment of stepping out in front of everyone and being the lead and feeling like, oh, man — I’m so hooked to this,” Alice tells Idolator. “After that it was just 10 years of singing. I was on a TV show in high school, that did really well. I was traveling a bunch while I was in school. I finally found songwriting when I was 20 years old and everything just made sense.”
The blonde-haired singer-songwriter is currently signed to a stateside deal with Sony. You may know her from the duo she formed four years ago with fellow Canadian Lisa Jacobs, called Jocelyn & Lisa. (The pair are great friends and still play together, and Jacobs even came along with Alice into Idolator’s office for this interview.) Or you might have heard her soulful, synth-filled single “Jackpot,” which was a decent-sized hit in Canada last year.
In fact, one look at the charts in the States and it’s clear that our northern neighbors are well-represented on the airwaves these days. “Which, I mean, is awesome, but it sucks for me,” Alice jokes. “I didn’t get nominated for a Juno because of fuckin’ Justin Bieber and Drake!”
So let’s get to know more about this rising pop force before she really strikes the jackpot worldwide.
Jocelyn’s big break: “[Canadian series Popstars] was a really cool experience because I was the youngest one on the show; I was 16. My first flight I ever took was to Toronto, by myself, my dad weeping at the gate. I got second place in this contest that was across Canada. It was kind of this little taste of the industry. I quit for two years after that show. Everyone in my life has always been like, you have a great voice, this is what you should do. For me, it was like, do I just do this because you’re all telling me to, or do I actually want to do this? It took me a second to figure that out.”
Her all-time favorite album: “Best album of all time to me is Amy Winehouse, Back To Black. When I first heard that album, that was when I started writing. I was 20 years old. I heard this white girl singing soul music and I was like, ‘I’m fucking doing this’.”
Most unusual place she’s written lyrics: “Oh god, I write everywhere. I’ve written on airplanes. I write while I’m walking down the street all the time. But generally now it’s either in my Airbnb that I’m staying at, wherever that is, or in the studio with producers. ‘Jackpot’ was one of the first times I sat in the room one-on-one with someone else and wrote. Luckily I had known Simon [from] Hello Moth, the guy who produced ‘Jackpot’, before.”
Last time she Googled herself: “I actually haven’t done that in a really long time! I should probably do that. I don’t know why I would have done. that, though. It seems very weird. I’m told the bigger you get, the less you should Google yourself.”
What she’d be doing if she hadn’t pursued music: “I would still be a writer. I also have a lot of interest in psychology. I love people; I love to understand how we work in relationships, or why it doesn’t work out.”
Artist she sees as a role model: “RiRi. I love my Rihanna, I do. I think the coolest part of pop music is there are so many ways you can be an artist. Like, with her and Ariana Grande, they don’t write their own music. Normally I prefer when artists write their own stuff. But there are some artists where I don’t care, because [their] songs are incredible. It also gives this opportunity for other songwriters to be put on the pedestal instead. I just think Rihanna’s career has been very steady. She’s in charge, and that to me is the most important thing.”
Who she’s been working with on her forthcoming album: “The guys who helped write Alessia Cara’s ‘Here’, the Gerongco brothers, are in Toronto. I’m working with them a bunch. Ryan Guldemond, from a band called Mother Mother, has a few cuts on my album. And now I’m in this new game of L.A. Now I’m searching for some new cats.”