Allyson Seconds, with a little help from friend Anton Barbeau, finally makes her own album
Sacramento, CA 95814
This week, Allyson Seconds releases her first solo album, Bag of Kittens—what took so long? After all, Seconds is a Sacramento music-scene veteran; for the last 20 years, she’s played guitar and sang harmonies, most notably with the likes of Go National and Ghetto Moments.
The 41-year-old singer, artist and personal trainer, said it came down to confidence and, ultimately, a need to face age head-on, and the album, produced by her longtime friend Anton Barbeau, is just one step in a journey to find her voice.
It’s been a year and a half since you recorded the first song, “I Used to Say Your Name”—did you intend for it to take so long to make the record?
Has it really been that long? Honestly, I didn’t care how long it would take; I never had it in my mind that I would have an album or CD finished at all.
When did you decide to start writing songs?
I was coming on 40, and I wasn’t freaked out about that, but I thought, if this really could be midlife, I want to know what I sound like singing lead before I’m 80. But words and I don’t have the best relationship—that’s why I’m a visual artist—so when Anton came in early on, it was a good way for him to flex his songwriting muscles; he was really excited by the challenge, and the stuff coming out of him didn’t sound like him—it sounded like me, the songs were tailored for my voice and its different ranges. I wanted to see what my Liz Phair voice sounded like—I can have a really low voice—but it can also sound high and girly, too.
What were your thoughts when you heard the first song “I Used to Say Your Name”?
The first [demo] I heard was with Anton singing, so I didn’t really think anything until he gave me a track without vocals. The point was for me to explore me for once; I’ve sung with so many people. Then I started to feel the song and the words instead of just hearing him. It was vital for me to make it my own, and I started to see that somehow, even though Anton wrote it, it really was my song.
Did this at all change your approach to singing?
Oh, absolutely. I didn’t have much experience hearing my own voice, and I’d still go for the harmony line. The first week we recorded three to five songs, and I had to get used to hearing my own voice. I’d giggle like a fifth-grader—“Oh, that’s what I sound like?” Harmony fits like a glove for me, but I wanted to push myself, to scare myself, to try something new. Now I think my harmony is stronger because I know my voice so much better.
The album covers a wide range of styles—pop, electronica and country—was that intentional?
That’s what the collaboration was all about, just me and Anton vibing. I’ve got a little country girl in me; I was born in Indiana. I’m such a gardener, I should be a farmer. There’s a little country thing that comes out in my voice. I think that aspect influenced Anton—he picked up on it.
What’s next—are you writing your own songs now?
It was nice to be in that zone to have someone writing songs for me; it made it so easy, but now I have my next battle. Now I get busy.