“It was a pretty magical moment where I felt, ‘this is it, I found her. I found the one!” Ally Brooke says about hearing the single “Low Key” for the first time.
“I was prepared with another single, so we were almost ready to hit the go button on that but… we couldn’t get it perfect,” the singer tells the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast about how she changed plans and opted to release “Low Key” as her first official solo single. (Listen to the full 20 minute interview, below.)
“My manager calls me and he’s like, ‘Ally, oh my gosh, I found this record. I just listened to it and it’s incredible. All these amazing songwriters are a part of it. John Ryan, Julian Bunetta, Ian Kirkpatrick, Teddy Geiger. You need to hear it and if we can get it for you, it’s going to be your single.’”
“I was like, ‘oh my gosh, that’s amazing, let me hear it.’ So he played it for me the next day and as soon as I got done with the first listen I was like, ‘wow.’”
Ally says after being in the “studio for months and months,” “just trying to find the right record,” she’s just “so happy.”
“We all really just love (the song) and it feels like me, and that’s what matters.”
“Low Key,” featuring Tyga, is Ally’s proper introduction as a solo act, following the announcement of Fifth Harmony’s hiatus last year. Interestingly, Tyga wasn’t initially planned to be part of the track, but, “magically, the stars aligned,” she says.
Originally, the song didn’t have a spot for a rap feature, but executives at Ally’s record label suggested that perhaps Tyga could hop on the track. She thought it was a great idea and when she got the track back with him on it, she says, “I was blown away. He freaking annihilated that song in the best way possible… He made the record so much better. He brought a new life to it.”
Tyga joined Ally for the track’s glossy music video, filmed at the Los Angeles Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. (Where such movies as Fight Club and Charlie’s Angels have been shot, along with Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” video. “What?! Yes! Queen Mariah! That is awesome!” Ally exclaimed after the Pop Shop told her the video was filmed at the same location.)
As for the storyline of the video, Ally says, “I knew from the beginning — I was like, ‘I want this to be a story. I don’t want it just be me in front of lights singing. I want it to be a concept.’”
The video is “basically a story of me being in a dance room, getting ready for a big audition,” Ally says. Then, a secret sort of romance blossoms between Ally and a fast-dancing gentleman, and of course, there’s a choreographed dance number involving Ally and her leading man.
Is “Low Key” part of a larger album project on the way?
“Yes absolutely, it’s definitely part of a body of work,” Ally says. “As far as plans for an album, I think we’re just going to see how this does and then kind of go from there, probably do another single. Maybe an EP, maybe an album. Eventually of course, I mean, I want to do an album. There definitely will be (more music). I’m very looking forward to that. This will be the origin of it all.”
As for Ally’s mission with her music in general? “I want people when they hear my music to feel good about themselves and to feel positive and confident.”
What’s it been like going through the whole process of making and releasing music solo for the first time? Before, she had her fellow Fifth Harmony members to lean on to make decisions and to share responsibility for those decisions. But now she gets to make her own decisions, but it’s all on her. So, what’s that whole process been like for Ally?
She says that it’s actually a “full circle” moment, considering that before Fifth Harmony began, she and her parents were trying to get a solo career going for her in Los Angeles — recording in “dingy” studios.
“I’ve had to go through a lot to get to this point,” Ally says. “I mean, finding my identity, finding my confidence again, and finding my voice. Literally my singing voice and how I wanted that to sound, but also my voice as a woman having opinions, speaking up…
“So, right now… I am so overjoyed with the team that I have, the label that I have, the people in my circle… It makes such a difference. They’re so positive and they’re so real, and they collaborate with me. You know? It’s never like ‘you’re doing this and that’s it.’ It’s like ‘hey, we think you should do this. Or ‘we love this idea, what do you think?’ And we go from there. And most of the time we agree with each other and it’s just so awesome to feel empowered and I’m just a new woman now so I’m able to be confident in what I’m doing and be supported even through… even if I’m scared or nervous, I’m there to be supported, whether it’s from my manager(s) … to my parents. It’s all a family. I’m actually in just the happiest space ever. I find this being so positive and liberating.”
Also on the Pop Shop Podcast, because it’s Valentine’s Day week, Ally shares some of her favorite love songs (and even belts out a few seconds of a tune!).
In addition, hosts Keith and Katie discuss their respective experiences at the 2019 Grammy Awards. Keith was stationed on the red carpet and chatted with a number of acts, including BTS and best new artist winner Dua Lipa, while Katie was in the press room backstage and caught a moment with Lipa as well, among others.
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard‘s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)