The Israeli-born queer recording artist is captivating audiences with catchy tracks, colorful visuals and a positive message, with a unique take on his own moniker: ALONE.
Thotyssey: Hello, ALONE, thanks for chatting with us today! So I saw you’re video for your fun, affirming track “Everything,” and it featured several trans and gender non-conforming folks being fierce. Our sis Thee Suburbia is there, too! What inspired the casting of these folks?
ALONE: They are all people who I love, care for, and respect very much. They inspire me with their creativity and resilience, and we help each other grow and be all that we can be. They also beautifully capture the message of the song.
There’s an interesting story behind the lyrics to “Everything” regarding an ex of yours.
Yes. It started as an attempt to get a “Negative Nancy” ex to appreciate all the wonderful things in their life and see the glass as mostly full, but it didn’t quite work. However, the song grew into something so much bigger and more powerful than that specific incident by the time it was done. It became an affirmation and a proclamation that right now, just as we are, we already have all we need to thrive… and we are already, in fact, everything. I wanted to dedicate the song’s powerful, uplifting message to those who could truly use and fully appreciate it, and those are my trans and GNC siblings.
“ALONE” is a play on your birth name, Alon. But is there more meaning behind it… like, do you feel solitary as an artist?
Bartending at queer bars in the city for so many years, I would often come across people who found it hard to get my name “Alon.” I would have to repeat it over and over, and ultimately many of them would ask me to spell it for them. Upon doing so, most would compare it to the word “Alone” and remark on how sad that was. That did not sit right with me, and I would raise the question: “why is being alone a sad thing?” There I was, very much alone at the moment (as many New Yorkers are) and feeling happy, full of possibility and in control of my life, far removed from sadness.
It made me want to reclaim the word “alone,” and challenge the false binary concept that being alone is bad and being together is good when in fact both are vital to our growth and well-being. As an added bonus, I quickly learned that introducing myself as “Alone” rather than “Alon” saved me precious time repeating my name over and over to get people to understand what my name is… and so it was a win-win decision.
As for feeling solitary as an artist, I feel like becoming an artist was a journey of reinvention for me that I had to go into alone in order to break free of all the boundaries, preconceived notions and expectations that were placed upon me throughout my life. I did, however, always have the support of friends and family when I needed it, and was always able to rely on other musicians collaborating with me to help me bring my musical visions to life. That is why my social handles are @togethalone, as I feel like being alone is something that connects us all and makes us come together.
You have a fabulous sense of style! What inspires that?
Thank you! As a child of the 80s, I had the privilege of growing up watching some incredible style icons at their prime. Artists like Grace Jones, Prince, Sylvester, Annie Lennox, and shows like Dynasty and Buck Rogers exposed me to the power of style and fashion, and showed me ways to express myself through my looks.
How did you begin as an artist and musician?
With a dream and a single person who really saw me and believed in me. I never had any training or encouragement to pursue music, and I never dared to even admit to anyone that that was who I was inside. At that time in Israel, if you were growing up in a middle-class suburban family you were expected to grow up to be a doctor, lawyer or work in finance. The creative types would study media or marketing at best. There wasn’t really a lot of awareness and openness to experimenting with arts, so I never felt like I had a chance or the opportunity to sing and make music.
It remained a secret dream of mine until I was in my late 20s, when my boyfriend at the time somehow heard the songs I was singing to myself and at some point encouraged me to start writing them down. That was the beginning of making it real, and his faith in me as an artist made me believe in myself. Then the hard work started… but that’s probably a whole other question, lol!
If you would, tell us a bit about growing up as a queer person in Israel.
Although Israel is known for being tolerant to the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s definitely not in all areas. And I still felt like I had to hide my queerness to avoid bullying or physical harm. My father died in military action when I was 3.5 years old, so I grew up in a women’s household and was raised by my mom and my big sister. Looking up to them both, I naturally embraced femininity as a young boy. Some kids would pick up on that and try to bully me, call me names or threaten me. I was clever enough to form alliances that kept me safe and, like many queer kids, I realized becoming social and popular was essential to my well-being.
I came of age in the late 90s, which was a beautifully progressive moment in Israel. My introduction to nightlife was through the queer underground scene, which was bigger at that time than anything I have seen since. It was like a fantasy movie of grand productions, amazing house music, love and acceptance by everyone involved. Still, it is such a small place… and I knew there was something bigger out there for me.
And so once I was done with my mandatory military service, I moved to NYC [so that I could] find the music that has always been in my heart, but not so much available to me in Israel: blues, gospel, disco, funk, and that special soulful house music of Chicago and New York. It’s the music that guided me here, and it has mostly shaped me as an artist through NYC’s underground nightlife. A lot of my songs were conceived on the dancefloor, in dark, sweaty after hours, after many hours of dancing.
Where have you performed in NYC so far, and do you have any favorite collaborators amongst the city’s nightlife folks?
I’ve performed all over NYC both as a singer and as a DJ. I have had headliner shows at all the main live music venues from The Bitter End to Mercury Lounge and Rockwood Music Hall and more as well as random parties around town…I even got to perform on the main stage at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) for their Pride festival “Everybooty,” which was an incredible experience. I’ve also DJed at a bunch of clubs.
My favorite collaborators in terms of nightlife are my sis Thesan Pollyanna the brilliant musician who often plays her saxophone during my DJ sets; Suburbia, who’s always got something fun cooking and invites me to perform for her from time to time; Ricardo Tavares, who throws the “Harder” and “ConTEAnental” parties and has had me DJ both before; Joey Israel, who puts together the “Queer Social” events and often books me to DJ their fun pool parties; and the “Easy” crew Austin Downey and Brian Gately, who throw my favorite old school party and have me as a regular guest DJ every few months.
Your next single will be called “Fine.” What can you tell us about that song?
“Fine” is a sultry tribute to those 80s rock strip songs that make you want to tear your clothes off and give someone a lap dance. An ode to all the hot men out there, It was written from the perspective of a man lusting for another man… and by that, it unapologetically holds space for queer passion as it celebrates and normalizes homosexual attraction, intimacy, and romance.
You’re premiering the song live in April!
I’m making my return to the stage on my birthday April 12 with a big release concert at DROM for “Fine,” accompanied by my 15-person live band. It will be the first full ALONE show since the pandemic began, and I can’t wait to see everyone again!
What else is coming up for you?
I’m off to the California desert to DJ the Nudies’ “Deep Campout” on Mother’s Day weekend. The “FINE” music video will come out around mid-May, and a remix EP of “Everything” will come out on June 1st to help us celebrate Pride month.
During the summer there will be two ALONE block party shows in my neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn: one on June 4th, and one on July 30th. -Then another ALONE single will come out in the Fall.
Lastly: what’s your best advice for someone who wants to break into music?
Don’t give up! If you feel a calling and you are inspired to make music in any capacity, dive into your process. Don’t look at the mountain, look at the path before you and take at least one step every day. As a self-taught, self-made musician, it took me over a decade to figure out how to make it happen… and now I’m able to share these beautiful songs with the world. It takes a lot of work, but you can do it if you choose to invest your energy into it. Use whatever is available to you right now, and allow yourself to take the time to experiment, and learn from your process. Your engagement with your art–your music–is the most important thing. Everything else will align around you when you are ready. And remember: inspiration is a gift to the world that flows through you. Do not keep it to yourself… it has a purpose.
Thank you, ALONE!