Head or heart - Which takes precedence?

It's really the absurdly archaic question. One that's never received a unified answer. Follow your head and you could end up miserable. Follow your heart and you could end up fucked.

Snoh Aalegra knows the consequences. The Stockholm-born, L.A.-based artist has had plenty of life experience toying with the question. She writes about her ultimate outcomes in the emotion driven songs that are penned directly from her own timeline, like the soaring R&B numbers on her latest album FEELS. And she studies the juxtaposition of both results in the art she chooses as inspiration. Like favourite film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona - a visual reminder that the blend of head and heart doesn't always create an equilibrium.

But as long as Snoh keeps feeling, she'll keep writing. And that comes first.

The way I was just ringing down your phone, I was scared you were going to think I was a crazy ex-boyfriend.

Oh, I’m definitely used to that. Just joking.

You’re currently on tour with Daniel Caesar. How has that experience been so far?

Amazing, his fans are crazy in a good way. It’s been a blessing to perform even though we’ve only done five shows. We have so many to go. But every night has been magical, I’m not even exaggerating. It’s been so much fun.

I’m from Toronto, Daniel’s hometown. So it’s safe to say the city is looking forward to your five back-to-back show run. You might just have to move here.

Yeah. I’m going to come there a week ahead actually to work with some of the producers over there. And it’s my first time coming to Toronto, so I’m looking forward to it. The ones I’ve been talking to about working together are T-Minus and Boi1da.

You’ve worked with 1da before obviously, which is how Drake’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ came to be.

Yes yes yes. We did that and we also did a song called 'Charleville 9200' on my previous project.

Congrats on FEELS by the way. Obviously you went from working on the project to putting it out and then jumping straight into the tour. So, how has your year been and is it what you expected from all your hard work?

I’ve been working on the album for almost two years, since the previous project. Things took a little bit longer than expected. I had a lot of voice problems at the beginning of the year and I kind of lost my voice for a few months. So that delayed the album and finishing it up. But everything is running smoothly now and this tour was a blessing. It just sort of came up and they asked me if I wanted to do it and it was dope timing with the album coming out and I just get to meet new people every day at these shows and meet new fans. It’s been really dope. I’m just on the road now and I’ve been in the studio, so I’m very much in these environments so I don’t notice much change. But I notice more growth and I feel like more people are discovering the music, so I love that.

The album is such a sensory experience based on the emotional power behind the songs. How was the process of preparing to deliver those authentic feels in a live experience on tour?

Right now, on this tour, since I’m an opener, I have a shorter set. So I’m singing a few songs from this album and a few from Don’t Explain. I can say that definitely, every time I perform the song ‘Time,’ I get super emotional. It’s kind of hard, because I’m a person that really gets into it and into the song while I’m performing it. And for me, that’s nothing that I can really do to prepare for that. I just go with the flow.

When it came time to record, what was our process of tapping into those places and emotions in a more isolated space?

I actually never record in the booth. I sit in the control room with a hand mic. I don’t use those extensive microphones. I just don’t like the sound of them so much. They’re too clear and crispy for me. Sometimes, it’s nice but I actually didn’t use it at all on my project. The same mic that I use on stage is the same one that I record my songs on in the studio. All songs have different emotions, obviously. And all my songs are super personal. So, I really dig into all these emotions and it can be really draining after a night in the studio. I come home and my brain is on a loop and it takes me some time to chill out and be able to fall asleep. I’m repeating all these emotions over and over. Doing different takes. Tapping into the exact feeling of how you felt. It’s a challenge.

You’re admittedly a very emotion driven person and you’ve said before that you usually feel before you think. But as an artist, how do you describe what emotional stability is to you?

I’m definitely not a person to ask advice from, because I don’t have emotional stability. I’m all over the place. That’s why I’m a writer. I do really feel before I think, which is really good when you write songs. It’s not the best advice to take when you’re making life decisions. Sometimes you need to think with your head and not with your heart. I have a lot of people around me giving me good advice that I should be following but I just don’t. I’m the type of person that needs to get burned from my own experiences and learn the hard way before I learn the lesson. That’s who I am.

But you make great songs out of those experiences so it’s not a loss.

Yes, at least something good comes out of it.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your album FEELS in terms of what you produced as the artist you see yourself as?

I’m just very happy that I didn’t have to compromise anything. I just got to do a project that I love. I have such a great team that lets me do whatever I want and they help me figure everything out. We sit and listen to the songs when they’re done and we go through them together. We do a little test where we mute the production sometimes and leave one instrument in there just to see if it’s a real song that you can play on just the guitar or piano. That’s kind of how I test stuff. But other than that, I’m just proud and happy that I work with such amazing people and musicians. I’m super proud of my band that I have with me on tour. They’re just incredible. I’m most proud that I get to stand next to these people and perform.

A word that gets used a lot when it comes to your work is “cinematic.” If you could have one actress or one director play out your narrative through film, who would it be?

I do really love Penelope Cruz. I’m obsessed with her and her husband Javier Bardem. One of my favourite films is Vicky Cristina Barcelona. If I could have that cast, that would be awesome. And Martin Scorsese can direct it.