Catching Up With: Allison Weiss

By Jordan Reisman

Photo courtesy of Allison Weiss

When Allison Weiss was first featured as a BTR Discovery Artist back in August of 2011, it was written that her songs “make you feel the angst and sorrow of those adolescent years.” Now two years later, her career has organically blossomed, shedding the marks of her teenage years and allowing her songs to take on more  mature themes.

BTR had a chance to catch up with Weiss while she was in Chula Vista, CA during her leg of the Vans Warped Tour.

Weiss got her start musically during the pop-punk/emo boom of the early-mid 2000s. It was a pretty incredible time as a once underground style of music that only really had a home in VFW halls and basements was suddenly being played on mainstream radio and MTV.

Though she didn’t really make it a career until she moved to Brooklyn, Weiss says been writing and performing as her own act since 16 or 17. Her initial inspiration for playing solo music was, unsurprisingly, Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional. Though mostly forgotten now in the spectrum of popular music, he tugged at the heartstrings of millions of teenagers for a brief period, Weiss included.

“Dashboard was just, like, the most emotional thing I had heard. I had a lot of feelings as a teenager, I still do have a lot of feelings and that to me was the first band I had ever heard that, like, went for it lyrically,” emotes Weiss.

As a lot of those teenagers that Chris Carabba inspired grew up alongside of Weiss. She still feels a need to reach out to her fans, even though MySpace and LiveJournal are vestiges of the past. In 2010, she recorded a video to her fans as part of the anti-bullying, pro-LGBT “It Gets Better” campaign that was started in response to the string of suicides of gay teens that were happening. The first lines in her video were, “Number one: I’m totally gay. It’s not a big deal. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing to hide anymore.”

Allison Weiss’s promotional video for the “It Gets Better” campaign.

“I wasn’t super involved, I just made a video and put it online. I chose to use an ‘It Gets Better’ video to come out as gay to let my fanbase know that they are not alone,” She says about her involvement with Dan Savage’s campaign. “Anybody who’s a fan of me who is also gay can know that everything is going to be fine, they’re gonna be okay. I’m cool… if they can look up to somebody like me, I’m not afraid to be who I am.”

Though she wears her pride on her sleeve, there’s not necessarily an element of gay identity in her songs, she says the themes in her songs are “pretty universal.” Since Weiss grew up on pop-punk, and she carried the pop aspect with her into her mid-twenties. The basis of all of her music is the catchy hook, which is a pop element that ought be revered more.

She speaks of her pop fascination, “I love catchy music and so I make music that I would want to listen to. I love songs that you can sing along to, I love songs that make you feel good but also I write really sad lyrics so there’s a weird combination of a sad song that feels good.”