Nov. 29, 2020

Singing soul in Germany, and BLM from a distance (Alicia from the USA)

Singing soul in Germany, and BLM from a distance (Alicia from the USA)

Alicia is a soul and blues singer currently living in Germany. She moved from Texas, USA to Germany complete her studies just over a year ago. I discuss with Alicia what her mindset is after moving countries in such a turbulent year, what her feelings on Germany are, and how she was able to speak out for Black Lives Matter from Germany.

Watch Alicia's BLM speech in Hannover

Visit Alicia's website to watch videos of her performing and to learn more about her: Alicia Cibola Music
Follow her on Instagram: aliciacibola
Alicia on YouTube: Alicia Cibola

SEGEPADFO:
Advent time is also time for me to face off with my sworn rival, Nicole of The Expat Cast, to see who can raise the most money for charity. This year, the cause is funding a mobile kitchen in Freiburg for Über den Tellerrand. Über den Tellerrand aims to  create opportunities for people of different cultures to meet and and to integrate.

For more information, visit TheGermanyExperience.de/Charity2020

POSTCARDS FROM 2020:
What was 2020 like for you? What did you learn? And most importantly, what message do you want to give to others? I want to compile your responses and put together an episode called Postcards from 2020. Send me your contributions: write me a message at TheGermanyExperience.de/contact, leave me a voice message through my website, or write me an email at info@thegermanyexperience.de.


JOIN THE THE GERMANY EXPERIENCE FACEBOOK GROUP

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Transcript

What follows is a direct machine transcription of the podcast episode. Please note that there will be some anomalies and incorrect transcribing, since it was done by AI and not by a human. 

Shaun B:

It's the Germany experience the podcast about life in Germany, as seen through the eyes of outsiders. And I'm your host, Shaun, visit the Germany experience dot d to access all my episodes and Get in Touch at thegermanyexperience.de/contact or leave me a voicemail on my site. And while you're there, sign up for my newsletter just get some information straight in your email inbox. Now this year at Advent time in Germany, there are a lot of things that we don't have. We don't have large family gatherings. We don't have Christmas markets. And we probably won't even have overcrowded stores as people rush to buy gifts. But what we will have is a tradition that started last year, if you were listening to the show back then over the 2019 Advent period, Nicole of the xpac cost and I faced off against each other to see who could raise the most money for charity. Now, it wasn't important who won or not, but I won. And we call that the first ever German expert podcasters face off, or FEGEPADFO. for short. I don't know if you could hear the quotation marks marks there. And this year, guess what? It's SEGEPADFO. The second ever German expert podcasters face off, it's no more easier to pronounce this year or to remember, but it's back. And there's a short bonus episode that I released yesterday explaining it, Nicole and I chatted about what we're doing this year. So go and listen to that. This time, there's only one charity and that's a charity called Uber den killer. And now what they do, they're a Germany wide organization that brings Germans and foreigners together over a plate of food to connect, practice language skills and promote intercultural competency. The Freiburg branch, which is local to Nicole is raising money to create a portable kitchen that would enable them to expand and improve their events. And we'll get more into it with Intel and as the week's progress over the over the Advent time. But that's what you need to know. Now that's the the cause that we're donating to because it's a really great way of integrating different cultures and, and making sure that we keep we don't end up with dysfunctional situations when people don't integrate. So even though there's one charity donor will still be competing. So if you donate, be sure to write the podcast that you're donating on behalf of in the comment field. It's a little box that says your your public comment. And it's optional. But it would really be go a long way to telling us that you donated on behalf of one of our punch cards. So just write in either the German experience or the export costs. For all the details go to the Germany experienced T Ford slash charity 2020. And this, just like it was last year, it's something that is very dear to my heart. One thing that Nicole and I do agree on is that Germany has given us both so much. And we really want to give back in some way over this Advent time. So get donating the Germany experience dot d Ford slash charity 2020. And it might seem like we're working together by the way, but don't get me wrong, I still want to take Nicole down. She's my rival, I want to take her that was the way this works. And by the way, the speaking of there will be challenges along the way. And Nicole has already issued me her first one, I must write a jingle for segi pedco. By next Sunday, no problem, I'll just bang a tune up. It's very easy to write songs after all. So there'll be a jingle hopefully coming up before next Sunday. So a little bit of pressure on me. Another thing that I want to talk about is in a few weeks, I am planning a sort of the last episode of the year, I'm going to take a break for the second half of December. And I want to do an episode called Postcards from 2020. And I need your input I need you to give me your thoughts and feelings about 2020. And essentially, I want to know what was 2020 like for you? What did you learn this year? And more importantly, what message do you have for other people going into 2021? What is what do you think 2020 has given you that you have a message to give forward. I would love to hear your thoughts. So as I said at the top of the show, you can contact me at the Germany experience dot d Ford slash contact or you can write me an email at info at the German experience dot d and across my social media channels. I'll also be putting out that request to get your Postcards from 2024 for an episode that's going to happen in a few weeks time. Now, we're on to my guest. She is Alicia and she's a soul and blues singer from Texas, United States of America and she's releasing her debut EP next year that she is recording in Germany. Actually. She's only been here for a year and what a year to move to another country. I mean, being far from home is hard enough at the best of times with everything that happened, especially as an American this year, it was particularly tough. And I first noticed Alicia, way back in May, June, after the death of George Floyd when she was very vocal on her Instagram account. And I thought it would be great to get her on and just hear more from her about how she is part of something that is happening very far away from her. So it says, you know, what is it like to feel the need to contribute to this cause that's happening in our home country of America, but being here in Germany, so she talks a bit about that. We also talk about music, we talk about why she is in Germany, and also how her time has been in general here in Germany. Here is Alicia to explain it all. and you're a soul blues and pop singer living in Germany. Yes,

Alicia:

I am. What a strange combination.

Shaun B:

What a strange combination, but we're gonna get to that. We're gonna get to your your why you're in Germany. We'll get to that shortly. But you're originally from Texas, aren't you?

Alicia:

Yes. So actually, I grew up in Louisiana. But I was living in Texas before I moved here for the last five years. And I actually was born in Texas, but not Yeah, I was I went to school and everything in Louisiana. I was raised in Louisiana.

Shaun B:

Okay. I mean, first of all, I must ask you, are you a professional musician? Or is this a hobby? Mr. I assume it's professional, right?

Alicia:

I mean, I consider myself a professional. But I guess you got to ask the audience members. Yeah. Okay.

Shaun B:

But But you're doing it full time. This is your livelihood.

Alicia:

I'm not doing it full time. I'm doing it part time. But I would like to do it full time. Okay, I'm also a student. So for me, though, the focus and what I would love to do, you know, every day of my life is music. But that's also that's not always sustainable. You know?

Shaun B:

Yeah, it's always the problem with the arts, isn't it? It's you never know where the next job is coming from or where the next thing is going to be. But I can say, for the listeners that maybe haven't known, I'm going to put all the links, or I'm going to put some links to YouTube videos in the show notes that you've got an incredible voice insanely talented.

Alicia:

No, thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

Shaun B:

So how did you get into music?

Alicia:

So I've been singing since I was really small. I was always in like school plays and musical productions. And at one point, I was into acting and stuff when I was small. But for me, it was always about the music. I loved being in choirs. We had choirs and my schools. That's one of the things that I really appreciate about the American school system is like the heavy, heavy focus on the arts, especially at a young age, you know, for students. And so for me, it was about singing at school, I was singing in church, you know, every week I was saying in church, and that, for me definitely had a huge impact on my love of music.

Shaun B:

So, so how did you end up in Germany now?

Alicia:

So I ended up in Germany, because I actually was dating somebody who's from here, okay. And at one point, I knew I wanted to leave the US. And but I was kind of looking at all my options and thinking, Okay, where can I go? I know, I want to be in Europe. But what is the best place for me to be, especially because of school as well, I knew I wanted to pursue a master's degree. And it had to be in a place that was affordable, and, you know, offering something that I would want. And so for me, Germany was the next step after a long list of, you know, considerations of other countries, but I ended up with choosing Germany, and I'm really glad that I did.

Shaun B:

Okay, so it sounds like you're having a good time in Germany, then.

Alicia:

Yeah, now.

Shaun B:

Okay, well, we'll get to your trials and tribulations. In short, because it sounds like there are some, but why not the USA though? What was the what was the attraction about going to Europe?

Alicia:

So for me, I've been to Europe a bunch of times before actually moving here. So I already knew that I just found like, the lifestyle here more attractive. Um, for me, it also was about cost. Like I knew that getting a master's degree in the States was going to cost me a lot of money. Just because higher education is just expensive. And I knew that healthcare was going to be expensive. I knew. I mean, there's so many like expensive things about the lifestyle in America, and that I wanted to kind of get away from and part of that was the stress of money, even though I was working full time, as a social media manager and web manager, that still did not alleviate the stress of, you know, having to pay for everything. And I knew that coming to Europe, especially Germany would be pretty cost effective for me. And that would get rid of that, that, you know, that level of stress that I had. And it absolutely, I was totally right about that. Because now I don't have you know, those kinds of stresses.

Shaun B:

Yeah, I'm always amazed when I meet Americans that almost every single one of them are being followed around by student debt, at least. Oh, yeah, it's incredible, the amount of student pensive,

Alicia:

I went to a very, I went to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. And it's not an A crazy, expensive school, like, it was just like an average, you know, and my bachelor's degree cost me $40,000. And that's a cheap school, you know, like, I have friends who went to private institutions and Ivy League schools, and their debt is three or four times mine. So insane. It's insane. And when I tell people here how much it is, especially other students, they can't believe it, you know, because here, it's like, I think I pay like 500 euros or something a semester, which is the cost of like, my books for one semester in the States. So a I like, for me,

Shaun B:

it's a very attractive thing that this study here, and you can study in English? And are you studying in English? Or are you studying in German?

Alicia:

Yes, so my program is in English. And that was one of the main things for me was to be able to find a program that I could study in English. And that's what I found. And so for me, it was mostly about finding something affordable, and something that was gonna benefit me, you know, and the US, I mean, it's, it's expensive in a lot of ways. But there are some benefits, you know, like, there are major differences within the schooling systems here. And back home, it's like you kind of you pay a lot, but you, you can kind of expect a lot from the university, because you're paying so much. So there, there are small differences, like just like offices being open every day, from nine to five, always having access to the people you need, um, entire staff dedicated to helping international students and housing and all of that stuff. Here. It's a little bit more bear. I think in terms of like staffing, and it's more you have to be more independent, you have to be able to get a lot of this stuff done by yourself.

Shaun B:

Okay, I guess I guess that does make sense, because I can say you're paying a lot less here in Germany for that tuition.

Alicia:

Yeah.

Shaun B:

So your here to study you've been here? How long did you say?

Alicia:

I've been here for one year, just one year, So I'm still a baby here.

Shaun B:

And what and how long is the plan for what is how long are you planning to stay for?

Alicia:

So I don't want to leave? I am convinced now that I want to stay.

Shaun B:

I feel like it can go either way. After a year. Some people might be after a year hitting that stage where they're thinking this is not as great as I thought it was in the first few months. And now maybe they're thinking of heading home, but good for you. It's the opposite.

Alicia:

No, yeah, I absolutely love it here and considering the state of what's going on in America. I am not exactly I'm rushing to get back. I can always visit and I have visited once since I've moved here. But I don't have any plans of moving back anytime soon.

Shaun B:

Okay, so you can see yourself been here for a while?

Alicia:

Yes, absolutely. I could see myself living here forever. Probably. Really?

Shaun B:

How long as the degree?

Alicia:

It's two years.

Shaun B:

Okay. Yeah. So yeah, it's very interesting that, that you're seeing it that way. So how, in this year that you have been here? How has it been for you, with regards to integrate into Germany? Sounds like it's been great. From what you're saying?

Alicia:

Well, it's great now, but in the beginning, it was not easy. And I think for me, the biggest thing was the language barrier. I'm a pretty resilient person. I'm pretty tough. You know, I, I'm very independent. But for me, being here, the language I think was the hardest, it has been the hardest barrier for me to cross. And because it kind of makes you feel helpless, like when you don't, when you don't speak and like I can understand some, but I'm still learning. And I speak like three other languages. So adding this one to the docket was not easy. And like I said, I'm still learning and so aside from the language, I think there were some cultural things too, that I definitely experienced that made it a little bit harder. But the beginning was not easy. And I think I think no matter where you move, you're going to have some some trials and tribulations, you're going to have some hurdles to jump over. And I was expecting that I didn't think I was going to come here. And it was just going to be a breeze. But I also didn't expect it to be as hard as it was the beginning. And let's, let's say like the first six months were really difficult.

Shaun B:

And and you mentioned the language barrier. What else was it about that time that makes it difficult?

Alicia:

I think being so far away from home and being away from everyone, and very family oriented, and I'm very, like, you know, social, and I love my friends and my family back home. And for me, that was one of the hardest parts is being away. I'd never been homesick before. And I've traveled all over the world. I've been out of the country for extended periods of time. But I'd never been like living outside of the US, you know, for this long. And so for me, I was actually homesick. And that's never happened to me before, but never. So being away from everyone and thinking, wow, I don't really know anyone in this country. I know, like two people here. And I that for me was a bit daunting. And also just, there were some cultural things like I feel like Americans are much more Oh, gosh, I don't want I don't want to offend anyone when I say this, but Americans are just more friendly in general to strangers.

Shaun B:

I think this I think that is something that has been covered quite a bit on this podcast is not the first so it is fine.

Alicia:

Americans are super friendly. And just more talk it is and more open. I think in the beginning, even if they don't know you. And that's one thing that was hard for me was kind of feeling like an outsider and you know, people not really interacting with me. Or if they did, it maybe wasn't so positive. And so that was hard because you feel like an outsider, you know? Yeah.

Shaun B:

Yeah. It's it's a common theme for people coming to Germany. But you said that you move past that after the first few months. What was what do you think it was that God was something that got better in you? Did you understand the Germans better? What started making things get a little better?

Alicia:

Yeah, that the I had to do some learning, you know, about what the things that are just culturally acceptable here and how things are run here. You know, I think for me, it started when I kind of started getting more involved in school and with other expats and kind of like talking to them about their experiences, and then also becoming friends with more German people, because then I could kind of see and figure out like, the social stuff, you know, that maybe wouldn't have known otherwise. So and I also started getting involved in my own hobbies, like music and things that make me happy, I had to realize, you know, that those things would kind of get me through. And I knew that some of this would just take time, I think it just takes time to settle, like, let the dust settle. When you first move here, you're you're doing so much to get settled. You have to get a phone, you have to get a bank account, you have to there's like so many there's a million things you have to do, right? school stuff, paperwork, immigration, it's like, you don't ever your wheels are just constantly turning. And it takes a while for you to finally be able to just exhale, when I finally got my, my, um, my residence permit, like, all with all the visa stuff, that's when I could finally like, take a break. Because before it was like, you know, I'm freaking out, I'm freaking out about getting my mail and making sure I'm not missing appointments and, you know, finding a place to live. I mean, it's, it's a lot. Yeah. And once you finally get the dust once the dust finally settles, then you can say, Okay, let me kind of absorb this moment. And, and, and figure out my new environment here. But it definitely took me some time and also making friends here. That was really important. Yeah.

Shaun B:

And how did you make friends? Because you mentioned that you started making friends with some Germans, you had some expat friends. How did you make friends? Was it all university? Or have you made friends in other avenues? And I think people would be interested to know how.

Alicia:

So in the beginning, it was mostly university students, because we're all kind of going through this, you know, experience together, we have classes together. And that was the easiest way to make friends. And then I started kind of branching out a little bit and going off on my own. I would go to protests, like whenever all of the Black Lives Matter stuff started happening, I, I would just go to things on my own really, but that's just I'm the type of person who can do that. Like, not everybody is comfortable going places alone and doing things alone. I know that can be hard for some people, but for me, it's not like I don't Watching movies by myself, I will go to a restaurant by myself, I do not mind.

Shaun B:

It's a great experience is one of the things that I love. I used to go to the cinema all the time on my own. Because if you just go and see whatever movie you want, you don't have to talk about what you're gonna eat beforehand, what are you gonna watch, you just walk in and watch whatever you do, and it's a great experience. So I'm a big advocate for doing things on my on on your own as well, I think is a good point.

Alicia:

Yes, and so that's what I did. And I, most of my, like, musician friends that I have now I've met in the last, let's say, four months. And, um, and that was because I went to an event and I met a musician there. And then and I did a show with her I think background, and then I ended up meeting all of these people, um, musicians. And I think that's been definitely that's, that's given me a huge inspiration, I think to be happy here and to be working on like music and everything. I think it's really important to connect with people who do the things that you love to do as well as an expat. If you're no matter what you're into, there's always going to be a group or somebody else that's into that same thing. And that you can really make good genuine friends like that by just, you know, participating in activities that that you love, because you're going to meet like minded people.

Shaun B:

I love that. I love that I had a guest who said something similar in an early episode of the podcast, he his quote was very similar. He said, just seek out the things that you love. And the people there will be the people you want to hang out with, because the interests and the passions are common. So it's a great act of advice.

Alicia:

And that makes a huge difference, I think. Because you're doing what you love. And then you're meeting people who genuinely love those things, too. And then, yeah, it's like genuine friendship, as opposed to it being kind of like, forced, you know, I think the university setting was good to start. But it didn't necessarily mean that that that all of these people were people that I would call up for brunch or something on a Saturday.

Shaun B:

Yeah. While while you were talking, I also realize because you said, You've been here for a year. And then you also mentioned, you know, some of the things that happened with Black Lives Matters. A lot has happened in a year, you chose a really eventful year, to move to another country.

Alicia:

I know. And, and you know, what, I didn't know sometimes I like, I asked myself, like, How did this happen? How did all How is all of this happening? While I'm not home, you know, it's, it's just crazy. And I moved here in September at the end of September 2019. And so this year has just been incredible. Like I, I am just shocked at the amount of history happening. And I'm not home to see it. And so sometimes it's it's like a double edged sword like on one hand, I'm, I'm grateful to not have to deal with a lot of the issues that I had to face in America. And on the other hand, I feel kind of guilty that I'm not there, you know, being able to participate and, and make change. And so yeah, that that was that's, that hasn't been easy. And then to be also in a country where you don't necessarily have like the community and the support around you that you would have back home. That's also hard, because you see people going through this. And I mean, I was on the phone with my friends almost every day, you know, when all of these protests started just asking questions, and you know, how are you feeling? What's going on there? What's happening? Because I'm seeing this from the different lens now that I'm outside of the states?

Shaun B:

How has it changed your viewpoint?

Alicia:

Well, on which topic black lives matter? Yeah. Um, I think for me, it made me kind of realize how big of an impact the US has on the world. I didn't necessarily see that or understand that when I was living there. That people kind of look to America for you know, as a as an example for a lot of things. And it's not a perfect country. No country is perfect, but we have a lot of work to do. And some of the things that I experienced in America I thought were like normal. I realized when I moved out of the states like no this is not normal like police brutality is not normal. Like that's not something that we should be accepting at all. Um, even my interactions with police here I my friends that have all like lived here and grown up here are very laid back and have no you know, qualms about the police. About for me, you know, my experience has been different. You know, if I see a police officer or something I might get I might tense up or I might say, Hey, you guys, like you know, there's a police officer or whatever, even if they're just coming to say we're being too loud. You know, musicians, musicians are always making noise. They're coming to say, oh, you're being too loud, or whatever I am, you know, I'm very, um, that makes me nervous and it. But then I realize like police aren't in the police here are nice. Like, some of them are really nice. And they show up with a smile, and they're like, Can you just turn it down? Or, you know, they're so kind here and I'm like, What is going on? And it's not to say that all the police back home are bad. It's not that at all, like I have friends that are police officers, and work in law enforcement, and they're good people, but just the interaction and the the stress of deal of police interaction in America. That's something that has affected me. And even here, I realized, like, okay, you don't have to be scared, you don't have to be worried. I've been pulled over in my car before in the states and, and had like, really a really bad reaction to that, because I was scared even though I didn't do anything wrong. Yeah, it's still scared me because I thought, what if I'm the next person, you know, that's gonna be on the news tomorrow, or, you know, or whatever. So it's just, I had to realize that, like, there's some stuff that happens in the States, that's just not okay. And also, when I saw the effect that the movement had on the rest of the world, and how people all over the world are marching. That was that gave me some sense of hope. You know,

Shaun B:

yeah, it was amazing to see the reaction here in Germany as well, with all the the people protest going out on the protest marches. And all of that. And you went to like you said, you went to a few protests, but I saw on your Facebook, I remember seeing this actually, back in June, I think it was, you're based in Hanover, and I think it was in Hanover, that you went to this protest, and you gave a speech in front of what I think was 15,000 people, right? And it was, it was a fiery speech, I'll tell you, it gave me goosebumps when I was watching. I was like, oh, wow, that was really, really inspirational was really moving speech that you gave and also put a link to that in the show notes.

Alicia:

I had to say something, I think, for me, being away from home at that time was really difficult. And it's such a historical time is such a historical moment. And I felt like I have to do something, I have to say something. I can't like let this go by without speaking. And I just contacted the organizers of the protest. And I said, Hey, would you guys mind if I, if I came and said a few words? Yeah. And you know, I wrote this speech the day before. And I got up there. And I saw how many people there were. And it, it scared me.

Shaun B:

15,000 is a lot.

Alicia:

Yeah, that's a lot of people. But I try to speak from my heart and just speak on, you know, things that so many of us are feeling in this community. And actually, a guy ended up jumping on stage during my speech.

Shaun B:

What what that was, was he a German, or?

Alicia:

I think he was, I don't know, he was speaking in German. And I didn't understand anything he was saying, but I think there was something wrong with him because, um, he was kind of like, slurring his speech and stuff. Like he could have, we don't know what was wrong with him. But in that moment, I felt really unsafe, I thought, wow, like, they don't even have anyone, you know, keeping people from jumping on the stage. And like he could have, he could have had a weapon like it could have been a jump on the stage. And then like a mob of people hold like, took him off the stage.

Shaun B:

Oh, my God, that's terrifying.

Alicia:

Oh, it was absolutely terrifying. And, but I continued my speech. And when I got off of this stage, I actually had to go give a statement to the police. Like, they pulled me aside and I had to like, you know, write stuff down and talk to them about what happened. And the guy they had him like, detained and like in the back by the police van and everything, and he wouldn't even look at me. He was like, I guess he was embarrassed. I don't know. But um, yeah, that was a really weird moment.

Unknown:

You and You barely, I think you said straight off there. When when obviously when it was all over and he went away, you said, are we gonna let that stop us? You just you didn't skip a beat. You just went straight back into it.

Alicia:

Oh, yeah. My mom raised a fighter. That's me.

Shaun B:

That is obvious. That is very clear. You sit you said, I think on the next day on Facebook, you had another post that said that it had that day had changed you in so many ways. I think it was that day you were referring to how what what would the changes that that they brought for you?

Alicia:

Um, I think I would say that it made me realize like, how many people are in support of this movement and how many people are in support of peace and equality. And I think sometimes we can be in a bubble. And also, this was the first time in that I'd been in Germany that I'd seen so many black and brown people. I'd never seen that and since I moved here, I've always felt Little bit like, out of place and a little bit like there's no like community here. And because in the States, especially like in Houston, and in Louisiana, you have really like large communities of people of color, and you never feel alone. You know, it's it's kind of like, there's always someone there, and there's always communities. And here, I never saw that I literally never saw it, I would see, like black and brown people, one or two every now and then, but there and see this huge crowd of people, and not just black and brown people, but also white people all together. I mean, that made me It gave me a lot of hope. And it gave me a sense of, of strength. And that I wasn't by myself, I didn't know anyone at that protest. And I left that protest with three or four people as friends that I met, you know, and that I've seen since then. And that was a very important day. I mean, we laughed at the protests, we cried at the protest. It was a very emotional day, where people were just like, just pouring out their emotions. And there were so many speeches, and so many people talking and, you know, I got to hear about the black experience in Germany. And that's something that I never heard. And I thought, wow, like, this experience sounds very similar to my experience in America.

Shaun B:

That's interesting, because that's something that I was wondering at that time, as well, when when all of this was going on. I it got me to thinking What is the situation in Germany? I mean, like you were saying, maybe police brutality isn't that much of a problem, but maybe there's still prejudices? What, what would you think in Germany, the problems are?

Alicia:

I think police brutality is is an issue here. Um, I've seen a lot of stuff online and have heard experiences from people that I know who've been beaten by police here. And that's, I mean, it might not be as much on the forefront like it isn't America. In America right now. This is like very sensationalized, you know, so, you know, any little bit of that gets a lot of attention on in the media and everything. And here, I mean, Germany's a much smaller country. So I feel like, the issues are not amplified as highly, there's definitely systemic racism here. There's definitely prejudices. Um, and I think that people kind of looked to what was going on in the States, when all of this, the movement started really, like catching steam. I think that people were inspired by that to finally speak up and talk about some of the things that they're dealing with, because people don't always speak up. They don't. So I think that I think that police brutality is an issue. I think this systemic racism is an issue. I think that prejudice is an issue. I think that um, there are issues here with with, especially with foreigners, I've heard a lot of expat and refugees. I mean, an X pattern refugee, I guess it's the same thing. I don't know, we could get into that too. Because I've gotten I've people have asked me, what's the difference? And I'm like, I act To be honest, I don't really know. But, um, I think that there are issues here too, with like refugees, and people like having to kind of assimilate into this culture and be being treated poorly because they're not doing a good enough job. You know, that's also an issue in America as well. We, we we don't embrace immigrants as much as we should. Yeah.

Shaun B:

Speaking of 2020 There was also a small other matter that happened this year in terms of the Coronavirus How did that affect your whole psychological well being?

Alicia:

Oh, my goodness, for a year,

Shaun B:

I mean, it's a lot.

Alicia:

It's a lot this year has been crazy. Um, I spent a lot of time alone. And at first I really enjoyed it. And because I like being alone, but then after a certain point in time, I started to get really worried about my family in America, I knew that I was safe here. I knew that Germany was taking things very seriously. And that my safety would not be compromised. But I was very worried about what was happening in America because it just seemed like nobody was taking it seriously. And it starts with leadership leadership was not taking it seriously. Therefore everyone else wasn't taking it seriously. I just could not believe what I was seeing. I'm like, Do people really think that this is a hoax or that this is a joke? No. And and we were in lockdown. I still had friends going to parties and like throwing parties and going out and going to bars and clubs and and I'm thinking to myself, do you guys know what's going on in the world? Yeah, you guys understand that the world is in lockdown right now. And you guys are still partying it up like the Fourth of July like there's no problem.

Shaun B:

Yeah, spring break.

Alicia:

Oh, yeah. And Florida everyone has on the beach. Oh my gosh, it was insane. It was insane to watch. And I thought this is how people see us. I really could not believe that people had no clue what was going on. And even the lack of correct information, not believing in the science, not believing in what all of these leaders are telling you. I mean, I could not believe that the President, the President of the United States of America refused to acknowledge the impact and the severity of this pandemic. Yeah, I just, I couldn't believe it. I still can't I still

Shaun B:

think that is some of what you described as a lot of what a lot of Americans that I've spoken to feel as well that they feel a combination of feeling safe here in Germany, or safer here in Germany, but also worrying about families and just a sense of horror of what's happening in general.

Alicia:

Yeah, it's crazy.

Shaun B:

It's been, it's been quite a year. And let's hope 2021 is nice and boring. That's all yeah. Oh,

Alicia:

yeah. I've had, I've had enough action for the next 10 years.

Shaun B:

So I want to move on to your music now. Okay. And talk about the music that you're making in Germany. So you are you did you must have done a lot of performing performances and so on in in the United States before you left, right.

Alicia:

Yeah. So before I before I moved here, I was working on music as well. But I did have about probably like a two, two and a half year period where I wasn't so much focused on music, I was just working. And I couldn't really focus on music because I was working nine to five daily. And so that kind of makes it hard to pursue the music stuff. And I didn't release a single back home. Yeah, but then after that, I took a bit of a hiatus, you know, but since I moved here and started getting involved, it just inspired me to get everything. Get the ball rolling again, basically, yeah.

Shaun B:

So you do as we said at the beginning, you do soul and blues? And do you do originals? Is that you write your own songs.

Alicia:

Yes. So I write my own songs. But I also do covers. So whenever we have a set, you know, at a venue on stage, we usually play like an hour to an hour and a half. And it's a mixture of covers and originals. But I do write my own music as well.

Shaun B:

Have you been writing this year?

Alicia:

Yes, I have been writing this year.

Shaun B:

I'm looking forward to hearing those songs. Because there's gonna be a lot of interesting experiences and insights coming into those songs.

Alicia:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Because how could you not write about this year, it's like, this is the year to write and I you know, what, actually, a lot of people, a lot of musicians, I know, I have been so creative this year, writing and getting in the studio and doing all of that because there's there was literally nothing else to do, you know, um, especially that part of the year with, we're Corona kind of like took hold. I think a lot of people because everything was canceled, like I've had shows get canceled or postponed. And so people are really kind of feeling the burn from that. And I think the best way to stay busy is to stay creative.

Shaun B:

I think we're going to hear a lot of amazing art, and not just music, but all kinds of art, visual movies, books, I think there's a lot of stories that are going to come out of this this period, which is at least one really positive thing. Like that's, that's where the best art comes from. Right? The darkness.

Alicia:

Yes. I always say that I can't write songs unless I'm sad. Like, even my happy songs I wrote when I was sad. So like I have to be in that state of mind in order to in order to write because, you know, the best stuff comes from when you're actually inspired by what's going on in your life.

Shaun B:

Yeah, and I see that I saw some videos of you performing and you've got a band that you were performing with. Those are all people that you met here in Germany and formed a band. That's amazing.

Alicia:

Yes, all of them are musicians here. The music scene in Hanover is really good. Read are some Yes, yes, there are some great musicians and and I'm like, What are you guys doing? Like Where have you been hiding? Where have you been hiding? Because my and my experience here playing with musicians, has been unlike anything I've ever experienced. Even back home. I didn't really Yes, I didn't get really the support. Back home. I didn't get like the loyalty that I have here. And there's just something about I don't know if it's just like, in Germany, people are just really super loyal and helpful and, you know, supportive back home, it's people are a bit more competitive in the music business. And a lot of people and it's not to say I haven't had good experiences back home I have I've had good experiences. But I just find that here, people are more supportive, other musicians are more supportive with you. Even if they've got their own projects, some of the people that I work with have their own projects, you know, their artists themselves, or their three other bands. You know, when people really believe in you here, they stick with you, they support you, and I really appreciate that.

Shaun B:

Okay, how do you communicate? Are they communicating with you in English? Or are you switching to German to communicate with your band? What, what does that communication look like?

Alicia:

I speak with them in English. But they all have them 95% of the time are speaking in English. But sometimes when they're talking to each other, they're speaking in German. And I'm totally fine with that. And I encourage that actually, because it helps me to listen. And it helps me to learn. And also I'm learning like music terminology, I'm hearing them, you know, use vocabulary and stuff that I wouldn't hear in any other setting. So I do appreciate that. But when they talk with me, most of the time, it's in English. And then sometimes they do talk to me in German, and I understand enough to be able to say, Okay, I can't always communicate back with them. But, um, yeah, I understand. I think more than I can speak, which is one of my, one of the things that I have to work on. Yeah, but they, yeah, they mostly speak English with me, everyone is pretty, you know, flexible with that. And they like speaking English, that's one thing that I don't get often is that sometimes people find out that you're from the States, and they want to talk to you in English, like, they don't want to talk German with you. They want to hear your accent they want they want to talk with you in English. And, and that's that can be good and bad. But I think that also is kind of like enabling, enabling My, my, my bad habit of not, you know, focusing on learning and speaking German. And one of my band members speaks French too. So I speak French fluently. And sometimes we talk in French. So at any given time, you might hear three languages.

Shaun B:

You said you speak three other languages. I think it was three other languages. So French is one of them.

Alicia:

Yeah. So my total I speak a total of three. So English, French and lingala, which is a language from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Oh, yeah. So I'm a first generation American. I was born in the States. But my parents are Congolese. Okay. Yeah, I grew up speaking French and lingala with them. And English because we were in America. But yeah, that's why I speak those other languages.

Shaun B:

So your parents understood as well, the life of an immigrant, I guess, then.

Alicia:

Exactly. Exactly. And now I have a different kind of appreciation. Because I, you know, I think to myself, sometimes when people ask me, why did you leave? Like, why did you come from America? Why did you go to Germany? I think, man, how did my parents feel like How did my my mom feel and like to move across the ocean, you know, to America, where she didn't really speak English. And now she's more American than all of us.

Shaun B:

And that's integrating people.

Alicia:

Yeah. So yeah, it definitely has given me a different perspective on what it takes to be able to move and, you know, go to a new place and start over essentially, it's not easy.

Shaun B:

But very exciting. Like you've got a an EP coming out.

Alicia:

Yes. So yes, we start recording, we record everything next week. Basically, it's five songs. And they're all arranged and ready to go. And so I start with the band next week, and then I come in and do vocals later. I'm really excited about that. And these are songs that I wrote probably three or four years ago, so they're, you know, ready to be recorded. Yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm really excited. And they're kind of from a different time in my life, like when I wasn't even living here. But it just feels right to record the songs here and with this band, because they've just we've performed some of them live actually some of the songs but um, yeah, I just felt like now is a good time to get in the studio and record and and get it done. So the hope is that I can get it out in January, but it will probably be February.

Shaun B:

Okay, Alicia to wrap up. What What is the one bit of advice you would give to to new foreigners coming to Japan? Many too, to help them get through the difficult times in the beginning,

Alicia:

I would tell them to be patient, and find ways to stay connected to home. Because oftentimes, that's what gives us the strength to keep going. So if that means you know, talking with a friend from home once a week, then do that, if that means, you know, watching, like your favorite show from home or cooking meals from home, I know for me that was important to eat, like, home cooked meals of, you know, very American food.

Shaun B:

That is not easy to do here.

Alicia:

It's not I'm like thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas and how I'm gonna put together you know, my green bean casserole. I'm literally I think my mom is gonna send me a box with some, you know, some cooking supplies, because some things are missing. But yeah, find ways to stay connected to home and just be patient. Like embrace your your new life, your new space, but you have to find ways to stay happy and stay inspired. And that way you won't feel so alone. You don't have to just because you move to a new country doesn't mean you have to completely strip yourself of your identity. You know, you can still be you you can still, you can still be involved with home to a certain degree. So that's what I would say.

Shaun B:

Yeah. Great advice. Great advice. Alicia, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and taking your time. It's been so much fun to talk to you and you're insanely talented and very, you got a lot of very interesting points of view. So I appreciate you coming on and sharing them.

Alicia:

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. It was really awesome to be here.

Shaun B:

All right. That's it for this week. Music In this episode by my band 10 Cent Janes and additional music by Ryan Anderson, "until the end". Thank you for listening. Don't forget SEGEPADFO, so get donating. I'll speak to you next week. I'll be done.