“A lot of songs on my album are about love, empowerment and how people treat each other,” says Alina Engibaryan. “It’s all about some kind of relationship.”
On We Are, the follow-up to the jazz/singer-songwriter’s 2016 critically-acclaimed debut Driving Down the Road, the Russian-born Engibaryan chose to concentrate on making original music — and creating something far more personal.
It marks a huge step forward for the artist, the granddaughter of jazz drumming great Nikolay Goncharov and a budding singer since the age of two. “I kind of changed everything for this record,” she says. “The band is different and the music is stylistically different from the first album. I only had one original song on that record. This time, all except one song are mine.”
Helping Engibaryan along the way is Michael League, the label head of GroundUP Music and co-founder of the Grammy-winning collective Snarky Puppy, who arranged and produced We Are. League discovered the singer while touring the Netherlands, when Engibaryan was studying jazz vocals at the Prince Claus Conservatory.
“A bunch of students and I were talking to Michael after the show, sharing our musical visions and views on life, and he told me to send him what I was working on,” says Engibaryan. “I never thought we’d end up working together; I’ve always been a huge fan of his work.” The two eventually performed at a music festival together and, soon after the singer moved to New York, started working on a new record for GroundUP.