Interview: Allison Iraheta of Halo Circus


First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this. Can you introduce yourself, and your role in the band?

Hi there, I’m Allison Iraheta and I am the lead singer and main writer for Halo Circus.

Let’s start with the basics: Halo Circus is a very interesting band name and I’m sure there’s quite the story behind it. Would you mind indulging us a bit on how you chose this name and a little background on how the band was formed?

When we first began writing these songs it was actually for my second solo album. As we continued to write more and more songs, we felt the the lyrics and the music felt best represented by a band. It just felt right. We wanted a name that represented the lightness and darkness of the world we live in. The beauty and chaos that we all juggle. Halo Circus was perfect for us. “Halo” representing the sacredness of our lives and “circus” the chaos of the world we all live in.

How does it feel to be called “the best live band in the USA” by a legend like John Taylor (Duran Duran) and can you tell us the story behind how you found out about his statement?

It’s still a shock to us that we would have these legendary human beings get on board to support us. Having someone so influential give us such a high compliment like that only makes us want to prove their point to be true. We work harder and try to earn it. John wrote the song “Something Special” with us on the new album. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

HC’s new album, Bunny, will be released on June 24th and, as I understand it, had quite the journey to completion. What can you tell us about that journey and what trials and tribulations did you face along the way?

We recorded the album twice. The first time we recorded it I think we probably recorded it a lot like everyone is these days. Computer, editing, pro-tools, etc.. When we were writing these songs, it was exciting and we didn’t really think about how they would translate live. When we started playing out, we realized that we were going to have to build an audience. It was actually hard to find a club that believed in us and when we did, sometimes there would only be 10 people there. And we’d have to make believers out of everyone. There’s nothing better for your material than being on the edge of losing. One day things just started to click and the songs took on a life of their own. When we were finally ready to discuss releasing the album, the album sounded like a bunch of demos compared to our live show. So we decided to re-record the whole thing as a live band.

Different people have different influences and one of my favorite things to do, when researching a record-writing process, is finding out what influenced that band? Tell me, what were your influences during the writing process for Bunny and will we hear those quite clearly or will they be more like subtle hints?

There will be times when you will hear our influences very clearly and moments throughout the album that are filled with subtle hints. When I met Matthew I was listening to a lot of 90’s alternative music and we bonded over that. As time went on, we started digging into some of my deeper influences that even I had forgotten about. When I was a kid, I sang in a professional wedding band. We did a lot of music from the 50’s and 60’s. Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, etc. We would talk about those artists and that time period and it made me realize how big of an impact they had on me. We didn’t make a 50’s sounding album, but if you know what you are listening for you can hear those influences pretty clearly.

So, let’s talk the first single: “Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)” which roughly translates to “what it all comes down to is desire.” Released on March 4th and directed by the legendary Nick Egan, the video for this single stretches far beyond a normal performance video. It’s a very powerful single and pays homage to your Salvadoran background. What can you tell us about the story behind this video and how it was all put together?

When working with a genius like Nick Egan you almost have to step aside when it comes to the visual aspect of your song. This is someone who will capture what you really want to say like no other. He’s subtle in the fiercest ways. The song itself is a reference to my upbringing in South Central by my Salvadoran parents.

You decided to release the single, along with a special alternate version of a song called “Guns In Our Hands” exclusively to BitTorrent. This goes against what the industry standard is and, as a result, I’m sure turned a lot of heads. What was the thought process behind this decision and how has it faired for you, thus far?

I’m not sure if there is an “industry standard” anymore honestly. Artists have very few ways that they can release music and we think it’s good when there is more than one option out there. BitTorrent was an opportunity to put our music out there in front of a very large audience very quickly. It was up to the people if they wanted to download it. We didn’t know what to expect. So far we have gone out of our way to do things differently. One of the things that kept coming up when we were playing every few weeks in LA was that record labels didn’t know what to do with us. They said we were different, as if it was a bad thing. We’ve found that by doing things differently, people hear us differently. And now we’re that weird band that people are starting to get behind.

Are there any plans for additional singles and/or videos before the June 24th release?


If you had to pick a favorite song from the album, as of this moment, which one would you choose and what’s the story behind it, if you wouldn’t mind telling us?

Right now it is Band-Aid, but it does change a lot. Band-Aid feels like the heart of the album on a few levels. I grew up listening to Paul Williams and he had a huge impact on me as an artist. To be able to write with him was not only a dream come true, but incredibly surreal. One day a few years ago I got up the courage to approach him on Twitter and it turned out that he was a fan. We ended up writing together a week later. The song not only sums up the album, but also sums up the band.

Something I thought was amazing to read is that Halo Circus is involved in the first-ever Crowdsourced tour, via RoadNation. What can you tell us about that experience, now that it has completed and 30 cities have been confirmed?

Thank you. It was probably the scariest experienced we’ve been through haha. I came from a major label album to do Halo Circus. Since my album, the business has gone crazy. Getting out on the road is really the only source of income left for artists and now it’s so expensive that it’s almost unreachable. When we decided to attempt this, it was because we had literally run out of options. Every week we would have more and more fans online and we could not reach them. It’s actually bizarre that you can have online popularity and not be able to find any way to get on the road. Our goal is simple, we want to meet our fans face to face and play for them. And now we can!

Since your RoadNation campaign was very successful, would you consider doing another campaign or stick to a traditional method of booking shows?

I think that ultimately this is turning into a fan to artist business. If the future is crowdfunding, so be it. It’s a lot of work but it’s incredibly rewarding. Getting to know our fans has been an amazing experience. Ultimately it would be great to see a healthy music industry where people are investing in new music again. Doing it all yourself is really fun, but it’s great to get help too. We love help.

What is the one thing you hope that fans, or prospective fans, will take away from Bunny when it gets released and can we expect pre-orders/more info on it to come soon?

We made an album in a time of singles and a band in a time of duos. Our songs are anthems for introverts and the album is meant to be heard from start to finish. We know it’s a little different, but we hope that people enjoy it as much as we do. The pre-order is coming soon!

That’s all I’ve got, unfortunately. I appreciate you doing this, once more, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just a thank you to everyone that believes in our little band. We can’t wait to share this album with you and meet you all in person when we’re on the road this year!

“Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)” (Official Music Video)
Visit Halo Circus on Social Media
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Catch Halo Circus on the “Follow the Rabbit 2016 US Summer Tour”, cities below (click to expand)… dates to come!

Halo Circus is:
Allison Iraheta – Vocals
Matthew Hager – Bass
Veronica Bellino – Drums
Brian Stead – Guitar