If you haven’t yet heard of Ali Stone, it’s only a matter of time. A native of Colombia based in LA, she’s a talented producer, multi-instrumentalist, DJ, musician and singer/songwriter with excellent taste in audio interfaces.
She’s won a CDA award, made a remix for Disney’s Monsters University, became the youngest film composer with her original soundtrack for Demental horror movie and was one of the opening acts for Justin Bieber’s Purpose world tour. Her debut album Sexto Sentido reached #1 on the US Electronic Chart and she was named by Billboard as one of the new acts to watch. They were right!
Writing and producing with Mary J. Blige and Jason Derulo are now on her resume, and her latest single, ‘The Sweetest Death Is Loving You’ was released last month; written, mixed, produced and mastered by – you guessed it – Ali herself, all with her Audient iD44. Stylish, smart, artistic, savvy, driven and still only 26, Audient was keen to chat to this rising star, starting with a brief overview…
I’ve been super passionate about music since I was little and began to play classical piano when I was 4. Since then, I studied different instruments and music theory and these elements built who I am now.
Some fun facts about me: I graduated from Business in university, love cats, and I speak English, Spanish, French & Portuguese (I love learning languages).
You took your iD44 to the recent ‘She Is The Music’ Song Camp, a three-day songwriting event for female-identifying songwriters, artists, engineers and producers including Mary J Blige. Does it go everywhere with you? What was your take away from the event?
Yes! I do take my iD44 everywhere. I also have the iD4, but I really love everything that the iD44 brings to the table. And even though it’s bigger than the iD4, it’s still very portable.
“I take my iD44 everywhere […] even though it’s bigger than the iD4, it’s still very portable”
The ‘She is The Music’ songcamp was one of the opportunities where I brought my iD44. I’d say this is one of the most special experiences I had in 2018. It was such an honor to make music for Mary J. Blige and to create with so many talented women that week in Nashville. People like Priscilla Renea, Jillian Jacqueline, Ingrid Burley, Stacy Barthe, Alyssa Bonagura & Ruby Stewart from The Sisterhood. I also loved that I got to make R&B and Country music! It was a super fun experience and I’m very grateful to have been part of it.
Tell us about your studio setup.
My current studio setup consists of my Audient iD44, a pair of Avantone Abbey Pro monitors & a pair of Kali Audio LP 6 monitors, V-Moda & Audio Technica headphones to record, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones to mix, Audio Technica & Slate Digital mics, the Roland JD-Xi synth, Roland FP-50 piano, my Gibson Les Paul guitar, SG guitar and HP acoustic guitar, Fender bass, and Roland V-Drums. As for DAWs & plugins, I use Ableton Live & Pro Tools, and my main plugins/sounds are from Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate 12, EWQL Complete Composers Collection, Waves, T-Racks, Omnisphere, Sylenth, Spire, Thorn, AmpleSound.
“I looove the preamps! Everything that I track with the iD44 sounds so clear and pristine”
How does your iD44 fit into that? Describe your workflow.
My iD44 is my main interface, so there’s not a single time I don’t use it. My 4 monitors are all connected directly to the output sources of the iD44, and since it has a monitor management function, I can easily change between each pair or mix in mono, all from my interface. I also have my mics connected directly into the iD44 preamps, and I usually use the Direct Inputs that are in the front of the interface.
Tell us what you love about your Audient audio interface.
I looove the preamps! Everything that I track with the iD44 sounds so clear and pristine. That’s one of my favorite things, especially because I like things to sound as they are and not to come out with some preamp makeup that can change a lot the perception of any instrument or vocal you’re recording.
I also love the monitor management buttons where I can easily change my monitoring outputs with just a button, change to mono with another button. The talkback function is also a plus when I’m tracking with other people, it makes communication so much easier. The double headphone output is great for this as well!
And I also love the iD function button, which turns the knob of the iD44 into a controller of whatever I’m doing in the session. This comes super handy when I’m automating lanes or changing parameters in Ableton, it really makes the workflow feel like a breeze.
“The talkback function is also a plus when I’m tracking with other people, it makes communication so much easier.”
You are an inspiration to women as you confidently include yourself in what is still a very male-dominated industry. Was there someone that inspired you to do the same in your formative years?
Thank you! Yes, since I was little I always looked up (and still do) to Shakira, who’s also from Colombia. I really admire her because she doesn’t limit herself into molds, and she’s constantly reinventing herself with discipline and perseverance.
Another one of my big inspirations since I was little is Imogen Heap…she’s a genius! I was and am also very inspired by Dido, The Corrs, Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries, Orianthi Paganaris, to name a few.
How would you like the landscape to have changed for women in the next 5 years?
I’m glad to see a cultural shift has been happening this year, where people are really taking into account what inclusion and equality mean. I do hope that in 5 years all the negative stigmas and stereotypes that have been imposed by society regarding what women can/should do are broken.
I’ve been as a spokeswoman for the “Women Working for Women” campaign & “Women in Business” congress specially to work on that. In the end, I seek that the capabilities and performance of not only music, but also any labor, are based on talent. Genders, races, and nationalities shouldn’t be used as factors to determine if somebody can work on something or not.
What message would you like people to take away from your music?
I’d say I want people to take the passion & soul I put into music. I feel passion is the force that really moves everything, and whenever I’m making music I put all of me into it…in the end, I want to give people a little piece of me with each song, something they can hold onto timelessly. This also explains the origin of my artist name; the “Stone” comes from the phrase “carved in stone”, which is the purpose I imprint with every song I make.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on new songs I’ll release later this year, which will have a more electronic atmosphere, and that will be in English & Spanish. I’m also working on songwriting and production projects for other artists, like MKTO, Prince Royce, and some others I can’t still mention publicly, but that will come out later this year as well! So, stay tuned because I’ll be releasing more info regarding all of this very, very soon!
I also post some snippets from those sessions, so if you peep into my socials @itsalistone or my website alistonemusic.com, you’ll be up to date.
Are there any other tracks that you recommend we listen to, to give us a better overview to your style?
I just released my single The Sweetest Death is Loving You, where you’ll hear my very characteristic reverb-y vocal harmonies and the guitars that always play an important part in my music-making.
I’d also tell you to go listen to my debut album Sexto Sentido (Sixth Sense), which shows all the color palette of sounds I have in my head. I also made this album thought out like a book, so each song is intended to be heard in that order, to fully understand the whole album. There’s a classical piano song, some very pop ones, others that have a soundtrack-like sound, some more dark and electronic. They all show the different faces I have with music.
What are you most proud of?
I’m always proud of everything I make, no matter how big or small it is. As I said, I want my music & art to remain carved in stone, so I always strive to making the best I can with everything I work on. But I would say some of the most exciting things I’ve been able to do have been opening for Justin Bieber during the Purpose Tour, making the complete film score of a horror movie (I love horror movies), and getting to work for Mary J. Blige!
What gets you up and motivated in the morning?
Colombian coffee, haha. Joking aside, the happiness music makes me feel is certainly my main motivation always. I’m also very motivated by my fans, by the amazingly talented people I’ve worked with, who teach me so much too, by everyone that supports me…all of these elements have always been reason to get to make what I do.
What piece of advice would you give a younger you just starting out in the business?
I would say my younger me to never doubt her dreams, no matter how crazy they seem; to stay strong and learn to build an iron skin against people, the bad energies sometimes “friends” and people may throw in the way, and to keep on persevering through discipline and focus, because the most unexpected yet exciting things will happen when these elements meet one’s dreams.