Interview: allie’s Debut LP ‘Maybe Next Time’ Looks Ahead with Hope

allie © 2021
allie © 2021
Nashville-based allie’s debut LP ‘Maybe Next Time’ is shining, warm indie rock that mourns and honors the past, as well as looks toward the future with hope and love.
Stream: ‘Maybe Next Time’ – allie

The last time Atwood Magazine spoke to Allie Cuva, they had just released their March 2020 debut EP, the internal and thought-provoking Junior Coder’s Experiment. Just a few short weeks later the world shut down, ushering in a series of changes in Cuva’s life, as well as the beginnings of their debut full length record, Maybe Next Time. Out August 27, 2021 via Other People Records, Maybe Next Time is shining, warm indie rock, deeply personal yet ultimately connective. Inadvertently inspired by 90s alt rock, Allie and their brother, Jacob Cuva, brought the wide array of sounds and themes on Maybe Next Time to life.

Maybe Next Time - allie
Maybe Next Time – allie

The record boasts sixteen tracks, each one loosely connected and heartachingly beautiful. Centering around the end of a longterm relationship and the beginning of identifying as transgender and nonbinary, Maybe Next Time holds feelings of pain and sadness, but it is also a record tinged with moments of hope. From the brooding bedroom-pop of “ETYG” to the lighter steadiness of “ice cream song,” Cuva boldly opened themself up to the music they were creating, letting the lyrics and sonic intricacies heal and guide them.

Though Cuva has been playing music for quite some time (The Pressure Kids, Cuva), the project of releasing music as allie marks a new chapter of authenticity and growth: the art of embracing and loving every version of themself– past, present, and what’s yet to come.

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Maybe Next Time - allie

Atwood Magazine: The last time we spoke was about a year and a half ago, right after you released Junior Coder’s Experiment. With JCE being your first solo release, has your perception or feeling towards those songs changed over this last year?

allie: I released music under the name Allie with that previous EP you mentioned (Junior Coder’s Experiment) a few months before I started realizing that I had a lot more identity issues to unpack. I ended up just going by that name in my everyday life because it felt right spiritually. I found that it was interesting that that name originated just from me brainstorming for that project; I kind of just weirdly knew immediately that it was a really cool name for this project, and then that just turned into [a good name] for me as a person. That is one way in which I think about those songs, but aside from that, I can tell there is a lot of suffering and emo-ness in those songs. I wish I could just give myself a hug, and just let this person know that, “you have a lot of work to do but it’s going to be okay and don’t be scared.”

I’m so glad you were able to get those feelings out. That kind of leads into my next question: while JCE felt like an initial questioning that led to big changes in your life, Maybe Next Time seems to be a reflection of those changes taking place. Did Junior Coder’s Experiment inform the beginnings of Maybe Next Time in any way?

allie: I think that it totally did. And the way I started writing the record was basically, the first song was “ETYG” and I wrote that the day that Junior Coder’s Experiment came out. So it was just a continuous flow of ideas, and these themes explored in the EP were just consistently being addressed, kind of by necessity. I wasn’t sitting there trying to think of them or trying to give them space, it was like everything was flooding in quicker and quicker. I think that’s also why the record has sixteen songs, and originally there were there were a lot more. But there’s such a flood, such a torrent of concepts and ideas that came from such a trying period and an important stage of personal growth.

Totally. Congratulations on the upcoming release of Maybe Next Time, by the way. It’s a heartachingly beautiful record, the kind that makes you long to be deeply loved, no matter what. As you began writing these songs, were you intending them to become a full length record?

allie: As soon as I finished my EP and I started making a few more songs I think I was pretty aware that I had enough ideas flowing, and I had enough to say to make a collection of songs. But I had no idea what the name was going be, or the fact that it was going to be so largely about this really crucial relationship in my life evolving fundamentally. I wasn’t as aware of the scope of how that would be reflected on the record, and some of the more earnest and pained expressions on the record came later on, once my partner and I had broken up and they were living elsewhere. I could not have known that that stuff was going to happen, but I did have the sense of there being some sort of momentum here, and I was just kind of on the precipice of it and had this sense I needed to follow all of it, not just creatively, but in my personal life.

It seems Maybe Next Time is just as much about the changes taking place within yourself and your gender identity as it is about the changes that come with the end of a relationship. Lead single, “ETYG,” especially, looks back on your past selves with love-- what was the inspiration behind writing that song?

allie: I started realizing when it was still really vague that there was some sort of evolution about to start happening. And I am fully honest when I talk about the fact that I couldn’t place exactly what that was, but I was pretty depressed and I felt like there was something on the other side of all of it, some sort of revelation that would relate to my identity. So that song was birthed from the sense of knowing there’s something coming. And knowing that I’m going to have to change as a person somehow, and so I want to be able to extend love to myself right now because this is different than I will be.

I know it’s very vague and it’s hard to describe because it was such a series of many ruminations in that time period. But I remember the feeling of making a song and and just writing those lyrics. It’s like the lyrics were coming to me and revealing to me what was going on. It wasn’t like fortune telling, but like showing me what’s in my consciousness at a deeper level. I was just chipping away at what that means and [once I realized,]  it wasn’t a secret I wanted to keep to myself. That started conversations about the fact that there’s some sort of shift that needed to happen at the level of my identity so I could move forward.

I love that writing “ETYG” opened you to experience and confront that. The sound of “allie” is quite different from the music you’ve been making with The Pressure Kids and Cuva. As you’ve stepped into the realm of being a solo artist, what have been the biggest influences – musical or otherwise-- on the sound you’ve settled into?

allie: I love that question because it’s something that came up recently when I was rehearsing for the first allie show I played. I was analyzing the music itself now that I’ve had some space from it, and I was listening to some of the drum beats and the arrangements reminded me of this 90s alt-rock nostalgic factor that I tapped into in this record very naturally. It’s so interesting to me because I think there’s a lot of that influence lodged deeper inside of me from my childhood. There’s so many alt hits that I love, whether it’s the Goo Goo Dolls, or Smashing Pumpkins, or The Foo Fighters. There’s so much there that I never consciously draw from, but I think it just inevitably is still in my psyche from growing up, and this project requires me to be really honest about what is inside of me, and what I can bring out, and musically that was part of it. So I think the influence has always been there, but now because the nature of this project is about going deeper and deeper, it’s resurfacing elements and inspirations that I’ve carried my whole life that I just haven’t been able to express until now. It feels really good, and really connective to my core being, and I have a lot of fun digging into those influences.

Songs like “the present is sorting out” and “sit and stare” elude to a sense of hopefulness even in the midst of pain, but “new life” really grasps onto that feeling of hope. Was that something you were experiencing while writing these songs?

allie: Absolutely. And thanks for pointing out those songs! I get goosebumps just thinking about it because so many of these themes are still running, but that’s exactly right. It was oftentimes through the assurance of not only my closest friends but my ex partner themselves that we would talk about those things and remind each other that we’re doing this for ourselves, but also for each other. My partner just so continuously offered support and companionship through what was such a hard period for us both individually and that gave me a sense of hope for the future. So those songs are written out of a place of hope, and I really wanted that to be featured on the record because that was absolutely a part of the experience. You know as hard as it was, this whole thing is an investment in our futures, and is saying yes to living and life.

allie © 2021
allie © 2021

My very favorite moment on the record is the last track, “ice cream song.” It has this beautiful childlike simplicity! Tell me about how the song came to life, from the gang vocal to the quiet ending.

allie: That song was mostly the last sentiment that I wanted to leave the listener with, definitely one of optimism and hope. And I wanted my friends to sing on it because the whole record was pretty insular. My brother helped so much with recording all the songs, and my ex partner was the only person who was hearing most of them and they were giving feedback. And I just knew that yes, this is a solo record, but this song feels bigger than me, and I feel like this is a sentiment that my friends and I communicate to each other through our actions, and through other words, but I thought, “Why not name it?” It just felt like it was time to declare it for each other, and by asking my friends to be on that song, it very much was a thank you to them, and a reminder of the fact that I just want to love them, and support them, and also thank them for joining me in this life so far. So that element of collaboration, just hearing those voices, represented people choosing life, and choosing hope, and being in it together, because ultimately I think that’s where the magic of this whole thing is.

I also like how the song ends with this static and the birds chirping. It sort of feels like a moment to pause and reflect before the record officially comes to a close. Is that sort of what you intended with that?

allie: A lot of the songs are written in the summer of last year, and I live by some heavily wooded areas. I would spend a lot of time just being outside by myself, listening and trying to be meditative. I wanted to kind of infuse an element of meditation into this project, and [I wanted to convey] there’s also a lot more going on that has nothing to do with this record, and it’s outside of my head. My hope for people listening to the song would be that they hear that and are able to snap back into their own lives and their own realities, and feel empowered to live their own stories.

As the record comes to a close, there’s this overwhelming feeling that you’re on the precipice of experiencing a deep sense of peace. How are you feeling as you’re preparing to release Maybe Next Time?

allie: I feel really excited to be able to share this, and I hope that it can be helpful to some people. I feel like I would not have wanted to express some of these things that were more painful if I didn’t hope that they could help other people, especially people who have specifically gone through something that is gender transformative and involves work that has to be done on a really individual level. I’m still working through it, and personally I also need to prioritize my own healing from a lot of these situations. So I’m figuring out how to continue to love myself even more than I was able to when I was writing the record. And I think I’ve grown a lot since then, so when I hear some of the songs and some of the lines in them, I just wish, again, I could go back and hug that version of myself. But in acknowledging some of those larger themes that the record does, it was definitely looking to the future. And so now that I’m here, I’m really glad I’m still here. And it has been worth it! And I feel really proud and excited that this is coming out; I’m just glad that I made it.

Though it’s a deeply personal record, Maybe Next Time has that rare quality that really draws people in, that has the potential to deeply connect. What do you hope listeners feel or experience when they hear the record in full?

allie: I just hope that it can be inspiring for people to follow their own narratives, and to maybe address some of the harder things that they might be scared to look at. And to think about their relationships in their lives and ask how all of it is servicing them as an individual, and then the people in their sphere. I just hope that it can help give anyone an extra 1% of strength to confront some of the harder things in their life.

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Maybe Next Time - allie

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