Allison Weiss Explores the Value of Contrasts

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Allison Weiss
8 p.m. May 25, SoNo Caffeine, 133 Washington St., Norwalk, (203) 857-4224, www.facebook.com/pages/SoNo-Caffeine.

At its core, Allison Weiss' music is made by two people: the person she's become, and the person she was 10 years ago. Back when the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter attended high school in the early 2000s, she was into the kind of palatable pop-punk made by the likes of MxPx and New Found Glory. A budding guitarist, Weiss hoped to be part of the genre, but her terms weren't exactly modest. “I wanted to be a pop-punk star,” remembers the musician, now 24. As it turned out, that niche wasn't quite the right one for her. “All the songs I wrote in high school were very emotional. The drummer kept giving me shit. 'All you write is love songs! Write something else.'“ However, Weiss didn't particularly want to write something else, so she began to move away from pop-punk and take up after acoustic-oriented emo bands like Dashboard Confessional. During her time attending the University of Georgetown for graphic design, she seriously began to divide her time between school and her solo project (which is occasionally backed by a band), recording her first EP in 2007.

This isn't to say that she entirely left her old flame in the dust. Weiss' material focuses on clean hooks, easily digestible structures and crisp production, so the influence of pop-punk is more than plausible. “I just love to get up on stage and play fast, fun, catchy music, but the only stuff I'm really able to write about is dark or sad things and the demise of relationships. I put the two together without ever really thinking about it,” she says. “That said, I have some songs that sound more dark and a lot of sad folk songs as well. Somebody once said that my music sounds something like your saddest memories [to] the tune of your happiest.”

To get a better idea of how Weiss navigates contrasting worlds — in her music, it's catchy, poppy instrumentation versus crestfallen reflections on romances gone sour and memories being missed — consider how she approaches social media. Multiple articles have been written about Weiss' fan-friendliness and go-get-'em attitude to social networking outlets. By making herself easily reachable and posting her daily thoughts public on Twitter, Facebook or other means, Weiss comes across as a regular person who just happens to be a musician, eradicating most of the mystique that makes a songwriter an “irregular” personality. On the flip side, she's content with losing that if it means forming a stronger bond with her audience. “I've accepted the fact that I am not the kind of artist that relies on any sort of mystery. My songs are very straightforward. I write as if I would talk to whoever I want to write the songs to,” she says. “I'm really outgoing and fun. I'm not a brooding songwriter, all sad by myself, not wanting to tell anybody what my songs are about. I'm a lot more into human interaction than I am being an artist, I guess.”

Still, there are unpredictable aspects to Weiss. She avoids discussing the specifics of what personal events have inspired which songs, instead saying that she likes to keep her words open-ended so listeners can form their own associations. Another refreshing surprise: In taking on love — a songwriting topic as cliché as it is classic — Weiss has the honesty to admit that her lyrical POV on the subject isn't quite groundbreaking. “I don't even know that I could say that I write about relationships in a way that's different than anybody else,” she says. “I just write about relationships in a way that works for me.”

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