If Alessia Cara's anti-party anthem "Here" hasn't hit your earbuds yet, it will soon. Back in May, the 19-year-old released the soul pop banger built for anyone who's ever felt like an outsider. "Truly, I ain't got no business here," Cara sings on the track. "But since my friends are here / I just came to kick it / But really I would rather be at home all by myself." The message is refreshing in its honesty, and the song's more than enough to satiate those awaiting Cara's upcoming debut album, Know-It-All, drops November 13. With influences that run the gamut from Amy Winehouse and Frank Ocean to Drake and Ed Sheeran, and a real-deal down-to-earth personality, Cara seems like she's on the fast track to stardom, and capable of holding her own next to young female powerhouses like Lorde and Janelle Monáe.
Leading up to her U.S. tour, which kicks off December 2 in Phoenix, Arizona, we caught up with Cara on the phone from her home in Ontario to chat about her heroes, her live show, and what it feels like to make a fan out of Taylor Swift.
What performers do you look up to?
I love Ed Sheeran's shows—it's just him, and he captivates thousands of people. Imagine the presence you have to have in order to do that! That's something I've always wanted to have.
What are the themes explored on your album?
It largely captures my thoughts and feelings about being a young teen girl. There are some love songs, as well as some songs like "Here" that address different views on teenage life and youth. It's the thoughts and feelings of an 18-year-old girl.
What's the story behind "Here"?
It's about this friend's party I went to two years ago. I've been to parties before and I don't hate all of them, but I realized that night that that type of party was just not for me. I didn't know how to talk or act—I just stood in a corner and didn't say anything. The next day I went into the studio with my production company, they asked what I wanted to talk about and I ranted to them about the party, so we turned it into a song.
What's your favorite part of performing live?
I love when I hear people sing my songs, it's the best feeling in the whole world. The response from the audience is always great—I can't wait to put out more songs so that they can do that more often.
What would be your advice to up-and-coming musicians who are just starting to perform?
Focus and breathe. I get really nervous before I go onstage all the time. Just come up with a ritual you like—breathe or say a prayer—figure something out that works for you. No one is judging you; the audience is there to see you. Just chill out and have fun.