Allie Gonino Interview

Allie Gonino is passionate about music, but for the artist, pursuing other passions pushes her to new heights. The former girl group member released her first solo EP, Hollywood High, earlier this year. Aside from music, she acts and is directing her own documentary-style pilot, as well as directing a short film she wrote. Gonino is well-known for the ABC Family shows 10 Things I Hate About You and The Lying Game, and when she’s not pursuing her artistic passions, she is lending a hand to those she can help support. Currently, she’s raising funds to help with building a school in Nepal and will be traveling later next year to help build the school. Below, we chat with the singer/songwriter about her musical past, present, and future, and also give you a chance to win her Hollywood High EP!
Cliché: How did you first get involved with music?
Allie Gonino: I always loved listening to music from an early age. I have vivid memories of driving around with my dad singing to Warren Zevon and James Taylor when I was really little, but it wasn’t until I saw The Dixie Chicks play live when I was 4 years old that I knew I wanted to play an instrument. Three years later, my parents finally let me start taking violin lessons, then a couple years after that I started singing in front of people.
You were originally part of The Stunners. How did that come together?
The group was already formed actually, but they were replacing an original member. The group was put together by Vitamin C. I already knew Hayley Kiyoko from having worked with her on Unfabulous, and I was insanely hesitant at first about joining a girl group, but I decided to do it for the experience and I’m really glad that I did.
How is it watching some of the former members pursuing their own solo careers as well?
It’s awesome! Tinashe and Hayley are doing so well, respectively, which isn’t surprising. They’re both so talented and have worked really hard and have authentically earned all of their success. I’m happy for them. They’ve always been inspiring people.
How was it touring with Justin Bieber then?
It was a freakin’ blast! I miss touring so much. It can be really fun, especially when you’re on the road with people you enjoy. I feel really lucky to have shared the experience of performing in front of so many people. Justin had just become the new sensation and his fans were so passionate and excited, which made for really high-energy shows.
You have an eclectic mix of inspirations, what draws you to music?
Everything about it. It’s the ultimate form of connecting to another human being’s soul. It feels like a blueprint, when you listen to music. That blueprint becomes part of you, and it can transport you through time. I wasn’t alive in the ‘70s, but when I listen to The Eagles or America or Simon and Garfunkel, I’m there. I feel the way people must have felt living in those days. Music communicates the truth. It is love.
Where did you draw inspiration for Hollywood High?
Mostly from my personal experiences at that time. “Hollywood High” is about seeing through the Hollywood version of yourself and letting go of the persona you come across as in order to be free. Hollywood is a show. So that song is about freeing my identity from the character I play in the show, which allows me to truly be myself. “Mazes” is about my struggle with not knowing whether or not I should give up entertaining as my profession. Because it all is just a big show, I was having a hard time recognizing who my true self was. I felt that life was having to perform and lie all the time to keep people happy. “Vamp” happened out of nowhere; I’d been learning to play “Folsom Prison Blues” on guitar and came up with that song, which kind of wrote itself. Upon reflection, it’s a song about owning who you are, your mistakes, the people you’ve been with. “Walk the Plank” is about what it can feel like to be a ‘role model’. As much as I can give others advice, as much as I can say all these things I know to be true, at the end of the day I’m still human, I make mistakes; I don’t always take my own advice and people are responsible for themselves. I don’t really like the label ‘role model’. It makes me feel like I’m responsible for other people, like I can’t be human, like I have to live by a certain set of rules all the time. And “Mad Man” I wrote after my parents told me they were getting a divorce. It’s from my mom’s perspective, although, at the time, I was also going through a break-up, so it’s also inspired by that. On a macro scale though, it’s about the ego in general. The mad man in all of us that tells us we’re not good enough, that we have to struggle to be worthy of love, that if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we’ll get hurt, that others are wrong and we are right.
What’s your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song of my own to perform is “Vamp” because it’s so fun and upbeat and empowering. But I also do a cover of The Black Keys’ “Little Black Submarines” that I’m partial to.
Are there plans in place for a debut solo album?
We’ll see! I’m definitely going to record new material, but I’m going to take a lot more time to develop the next release. I have a lot of writing to do. That said, The Good Mad is throwing around the idea of making a Christmas album!
What are your plans for the next year?
I’m developing a docu-style pilot that I’m also directing. It’s a show about healing through the art of dance and movement, and it will also be a platform for creating new music, and featuring up and coming musicians/producers. I’m going to direct my first short film that I penned, and I’ll continue to work on other scripts I have in development. In addition, I’m helping to raise funds to build a primary school in Nepal through BuildOn, which is a non-profit organization that brings education to children in impoverished areas of the world! It’s been a fun journey so far, and I’m excited to visit Nepal next year to lay the foundation for the school. Other than that, I’m sure I’ll be making more music, and fingers crossed I’ll go on tour in 2016!
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Allie Gonino Interview: Photographed by Victoria Fayad

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