We all have our own pregame rituals, but how does your favorite artist prepare for a night out? Culture Trip’s Music Editor Ryan Kristobak sits down with a variety of rising artists in one of Brooklyn’s trendiest spots, Loosie Rouge bar in Williamsburg, to discuss music, life, and everything in-between, while enjoying the artist’s favorite bites, beverage of choice, and games to get the party started.
In this episode, singer ALA.NI teaches us how to drink rum like they do in the Caribbean, gets a little more than she bargained for with her sushi order, and improvises a song a cappella based on hilarious quotes from one of her favorite TV shows.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
“You know I’m just going to scatter everything in the end if I’m not winning.”
It’s an all-too-familiar refrain for anyone who has played Trivial Pursuit before, but it certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear from British-born, Paris-based singer ALA.NI.
A first listen through her debut album, You & I—which she wrote entirely a cappella on Garageband—immediately draws comparisons to greats like Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, and Édith Piaf. It’s a seraphic blend of jazz and chanson so tender that you dare not utter a word while listening out of fear that it might retreat, like a deer startled by sudden human presence.
So when I first met ALA.NI in South Williamsburg’s Loosie Rouge, it didn’t surprise me that she was soft spoken and brief in her words, dedicating a chunk of the time leading up to filming to locating the perfect pink flower to pluck from a jardinières sitting just outside of the bar and press into her notebook, which was beginning to look like the swelling bellows of an accordion.
But once the camera started rolling, the theater student emerged.
“Oh, fuck you,” she griped after I answered an uncommonly simple Trivial Pursuit question. “No. No, no, no, no! I’m the guest, I should win!”
The role of the petulant child nailed. But when it came time to follow through on the game’s loser eating a chunk of the wasabi provided with our sushi (a bet of her own design), she did so, despite her imminent performance later that afternoon, with a few exaggerated fake sobs, lots of laughter, and then a few real, justified tears.
Suffice to say I’ve discovered a new power within ALA.NI’s music.
Despite being the daughter of a reggae bassist and the great-niece of cabaret star Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson, ALA.NI’s passions are constantly bouncing beyond music’s edges. Growing up under the guidance of her “couture seamstress” mother, she is eager to design clothes, shelving units, and wardrobes, and even has a great idea for wrapping paper (she’s keeping that one under wraps for the time being).
She’s handled the majority of duties for her music videos, and is constantly jotting down film concepts, with a particular penchant for gangster films and heists. In fact, one afternoon, she, along with a friend who has done set design for films like Harry Potter, planned out how to rob an Italian art gallery in London, which apparently has no security, all the way up to her moped escape out the garden.
But don’t expect ALA.NI to veer off her current track just yet.
“I’m a believer that if you want to do something, it all just falls into place; things just align themselves,” she says. “For now it’s music, and I know I have to be really focused and dedicated to it.”
You might also like: The Pregame: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Sins on Gin
Pregame with ALA.NI in the videos above, and check out an assortment of her best words of wisdom—and words of drink—from the full shoot, as well as her fall U.S. tour dates, below.
“Where my parents are from in the Caribbean, rum is a big thing, so you kind of grow up with the smell of rum around you. They tend to prefer white rum because you don’t get as fat. I remember being told by the ‘pro’ rum drinkers that you have a sip in the morning and then you top it up with water throughout the day, and then you just keep on getting drunk because it’s so hot it evaporates in your body and when you drink water it comes back to life, so you can sustain drunkenness for the whole day.”
ALA.NI: “I got [Twister] for Christmas one year—an ex-boyfriend got it—and it was fun!”
Culture Trip: “That’s all that needs to be said.”
ALA.NI: “I was going to go somewhere else and be like, ‘it’s wipeable,’ but, you know…”
“Pink: it’s like red but not quite.”
“I just always remember my dad rehearsing, I’d go to his rehearsals with him and seeing that form of discipline, or let’s say a group of men playing music, getting very high, playing reggae. Or he’d be at home with a spliff in his mouth, playing the bass, just in this other world. I’d be talking to him, ‘Dad, it’s dinner time, dinner’s ready.’ And he would just be like [imitates playing bass]—he’s lost. I was like, ‘Is that yes? No? Talk to me.’ But he couldn’t break it. That was kind of like, ahh, this other focus, this thing that transported you. I did find myself thinking, ‘What is that thing he’s smoking that makes him do that?’”
ALA.NI: “When I was in Grenada, I met this random German man on the beach. I spotted some white man on the beach with a big beer belly and I was like, ‘You, let’s talk.’ And it turned out that he does music too. And we spoke for the whole day—he was leaving the next day—and we just spent the whole day together, going to different parts of the island and just talking about music. Both just obsessed with music, and it turned out that he collects old microphones. When I was in Grenada I wrote [“Cherry Blossoms”], and then when I came back to London I was like, I’ve started this project, I think I want to use really authentic instruments and sounds, not add in some plug-ins; I want to record it at the source. He kept sending me these pictures of old mics, and I was like, ‘Dude, fuck it, I’m coming over to Munich, I don’t know you, I’ve only met you for like 14 hours, don’t kill me in the middle of the forest, I’m coming.’ I went there, found two great microphones to use, and I still have them.”
Culture Trip: “That’s a strong pitch: Don’t kill me. I’m coming, but don’t kill me.”
ALA.NI: “Well, he lives on a farm, and there’s cows, and it’s all powered by manure, so there’s these big generators, so I was like he could just put me in the generator or something and be turned into manure. But I’m okay, I’m fine. I just saw him a few months ago and he still didn’t kill me so I’m okay.”
“I wanted to make a film with songs, so no dialogue or anything, just a silent film with songs and a love story. One of the film stories was actually based around the Civil War times. It was a house maid—a black slave house maid—who falls in love with the master’s son, who then goes off to war, and he comes back and they’re still in love, like they have this really young love thing, and he’s supposed to marry the whatever woman, but they’re really in love, and how they would meet by the river and the cherry blossoms flowing.”
“What am I doing? See I shouldn’t be drinking in the afternoon. I’m taking thread off my dress with my teeth! Ugh, I’m a lightweight. Okay: wasabi, jet lag, this [points at drink and then takes another sip].”
“It’s a hip-hop thing. I think I went… I can’t remember why I started it. I think I did a gig once and I asked someone to give me a book, and I just started to read and improvise. I like to keep my gigs moving and changing and different so that they’re interesting, or otherwise [gestures head nodding, as if falling asleep] I’m singing the same songs every night. That’s boring. But now it’s a real thing. There’s printed paper as the audience comes in, there’s a box of pens, it’s a very integral part of the show, and it’s great.
“It’s so random. The audience, some of the words I get—the guy who did the artwork for my U.S. album, he actually is from Zurich, and he came to a gig and it was his handwriting. He just had this beautiful handwriting, so I was like, ‘Who is this? Who is this person?’ He came up afterwards and he presented himself, and I told him I’m just about to start doing the artwork for the U.S., I don’t know what I want yet, but I know I want your handwriting on there. It really helps people feel like they are part of the gig.
“I was thinking the other day, I may start recording some of them because some of the songs are really cool, and just have an album of improvisations, or a little EP, or to just collect them because I never get to hear them back.”
ALA.NI U.S. Fall Tour Dates:
October 18, Wonder Bar
Asbury Park, New Jersey
October 19, Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, New York
October 20, Bearsville Theater
Woodstock, New York
October 21, The Sinclair
October 22, Daryl’s House Club
Pawling, New York
October 24, Rams Head on Stage
October 25, The Barn at Wolf Trap
October 26, The Mothlight
Asheville, North Carolina
October 27, Smith’s Olde Bar
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.