Few people can call themselves a true YouTube sensation but Ali Brustofski is certainly one of them. The singer-songwriter from New York has already achieved more than 100 million views on her channel and has more than half a million subscribers.
Her growing fan-base are proud to support and share Ali's original material together with an array of covers which have so far included Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" and she's sure to delight them further with the release of her latest single, the catchy, almost anthemic "When I Fall" featuring Veslocki.
Ali has a busy year ahead and lots of exciting plans in the pipeline, but taking time out of her hectic schedule, she kindly agreed to this interview to chat touring, TV and her top choices of artists to tour with.
PW: How would you describe yourself in four words?
Ali Brustofski: Honest. Loyal. Driven. Emotional.
PW: When did you first realise that you wanted to be a singer and did you have any other career ambitions prior to that?
AB: I’ve always had a love for music. I’ve been singing along to songs and putting on shows since I could remember. I started doing musical theater when I was 8, so originally I thought Broadway was in my future. As I got older and started to write down my own ideas and songs I realized that I’d rather be myself onstage instead of playing a part.
PW: How did your first professional performance as Brigitta in the Sound of Music, solidify for you your plans to be an artist?
AB: That was definitely a big moment for me. The feeling you get being on stage and performing for that many people is something unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced in life. I knew for sure after playing Brigitta at age 10 that I wanted to be on stage for the rest of my life.
PW: What would you say makes you unique from all the other artists out there today?
AB: I’m lucky to have my built in fan-base through my Youtube channel. My alinators know me as a person, not just the music that I make, so I think I have a unique connection with my fans that a lot of artists don’t have nowadays.
PW: Is there an artist you think you're most similar to or are you always wary of replicating what's come before and so make a determined effort to be yourself?
AB: I try not to compare myself to other artists out there because I’d like to carve out my own path with my music.
PW: You were the NY finalist on The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep on the CW Network. What are your memories of that and did the likes of Nelly, Gloria Estefan and Joe Jonas give you any tips or advice?
AB: Being on “The Next” was such an incredible experience. All of the mentors on the show genuinely took the time to talk to all of us and give us personal advice and tips. My mentor Gloria Estefan was so amazing. Her and her whole team shared so many stories from Gloria’s life that I’ll never forget. She really helped give me the confidence to not be afraid to be myself on stage.
PW: You opened for Rita Ora in 2014. What was that like and what impact did it have on your career?
AB: Opening for Rita Ora at Six Flags in NJ was like a dream. Rita was one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever come across. She asked me a bunch of questions about my career and how I got to where I am today and we had a really great conversation. I definitely gained a lot of new fans from that performance and it gave me a taste of what that next level of touring and shows would be like.
PW: You've also shared stages and bills with bands including The Script and Gym Class Heroes, but if you had to share a stage with three other bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would you choose and why?
AB: Oh my god this is hard! Definitely The Beatles for one. I grew up listening to them, and they were so iconic and really changed the world of music. I can’t even imagine how it would’ve felt to sing some of their songs with them all together. Katy Perry is a more recent idol of mine. I really admire her as a songwriter as well as the quality of the shows she puts on - she transports you to another world. Sharing a stage of that caliber with one of my favorite artists would be a dream come true. The third artist would be Sia, another idol of mine. Her song-writing changed the way I thought about my own writing. Her vocal range is also off the charts - can you imagine singing “Chandelier” with her on stage? I’d die.
PW: Tell me about your new single "When I Fall.”
AB: The idea for “When I Fall” came to me when I was out one night and saw this guy walk in the room. He had this energy that was contagious, everyone was drawn to him. I just knew that no matter what happened between us, that first glance feeling would be something I’d remember and take with me forever. Veslocki and I worked together in the studio and wrote this entire song and recorded the demo in a few hours - it was one of those sessions where the ideas just kept flowing. We wanted to go for an upbeat EDM vibe with the production with a somewhat arabic influence in the post chorus. It’s been fun taking my fans into this new direction of music for me.
PW: How did it come about that you teamed up with Veslocki for the track?
AB: Veslocki and I go way back. We started working together initially on a lot of covers for my Youtube channel a few years ago, but since then we’ve written a ton of songs together and have become great friends. We wrote “When I Fall” together and knew it would be a perfect fit to team up on this single.
PW: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process? Does it depend on the subject matter?
AB: Song-writing is the best form of therapy. Every session and every day is completely different, which is beautiful. Some days songs fall into place and you can record a whole demo in a few hours - which was the case with “When I Fall” and then others it feels like time stands still if you get stuck and your brain can’t figure out where to go next.
PW: Who or what most influences your song-writing?
AB: I always write from personal experiences or experiences I’ve seen people around me go through.
PW: If you could have written any song, by any artist living or dead, which would it be and why?
AB: My all-time favorite song is “I’m in Here” by Sia. I get chills every single time I hear it. Something about that song is just so beautifully tragic and it came to me in a point in my life where I could really relate to that. Everything from the lyrics, to the track, to the way Sia performs the song seems to fit together perfectly.
PW: You've covered a number of songs including "ET" and "Suit and Tie" but is there any particular song you really want to do that you haven't yet?
AB: It’s hard to say! I do around a cover a week now so who knows what song will come out next week that I’ll be obsessed with. I do always love a good ballad so I’m excited when anything I can really sing my heart out on comes out.
PW: You’ve been featured in several big name publications including Billboard and Forbes, but do you care what music critics and the like say about you, or are the opinions of the fans more important?
AB: I feel incredibly honored to have been featured in Billboard and Forbes. I mean even typing that sentence makes me think “is this really my life?” But for sure the opinions I care about the most are those of my alinators. I would be nothing without them, and their feedback and support is what keeps me going.
PW: You've had more than 100 million views on your YouTube Channel and you have close to 512,000 subscribers. With that in mind, do you think you'd have anywhere near the fan-base you do without the help of social media and the internet?
AB: I’ve been so lucky to have created an online fan-base that supports me not only in covers but in my original music. Doing covers helped people find me online, and they’ve stuck around and supported my originals as well. I don’t know where I’d be without social media and the internet because I’ve grown up knowing only this!
PW: You've also done voice-over work for Nick Jr as the voice of Piper O'Possum between 2003 and 2007. Is that something you'd like to do more of, either in TV or film perhaps?
AB: I LOVE voice-overs. I still do them now from time to time. I think it’s a really fun way to use your voice and create something different but still not jeopardize yourself as a musician or an artist because most of the time people will never know it’s me. I did used to audition for TV and film, but I kind of made the decision to pour all my efforts into my music for now. I’d definitely be open to any opportunities in TV and film that felt right for me in the future.
PW: What are your tour and performance plans for the year? Would you like to head overseas to Europe?
AB: I’d LOVE to go back to Europe! As of now I’m still working hard in the studio on some new originals before I do any major touring but I’ll probably do some smaller shows in the NY area. I’m excited to get back on stage again!
PW: For anyone who hasn't seen you live before, how would you describe one of your shows?
AB: I like to give my alinators what they want to see, so I try to do a good combo of originals and cover songs that everyone can sing along to. I love working the stage so I can see and connect with everyone in the audience.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate goal as an artist and do you have any other plans in the pipeline you can tell me about?
AB: I have a lot of goals for the future. I'd love to do a world tour. I have so many amazing fans in other countries and it would be incredible to be able to perform for them and meet them face to face. I’d love to keep writing and win a Grammy someday. But ultimately as long as I’m making music and performing I know I’ll be happy in life. Look forward to more originals coming out in the next few months, as well as the video for “When I Fall” coming soon!
You can listen to “When I Fall” below and for more information on Ali, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. You can also check out more of her music and cover versions on her YouTube channel.