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Writer and Vocalist Alanna Lin

By Monk Turner
Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, at 03:52PM
Alanna Lin Monk Turner [Flickr]

Back in the day, a massive wave of westward migration came from billboards on the east coast and midwest advertising L.A. as a place with '365 days of sunshine.' Anyone who has lived here for some time knows the weather isn't quite that perfect, but a few bitter cold Cleveland winters would send anyone sprinting to the southland. Those billboards are no more, but we still get our share of talent from the east.

Hailing from Ohio, writer and vocalist Alanna Lin first landed in Los Angeles by finding refuge amongst the sheep that graze the fields around CalArts. Later she joined the ever growing creative class in Downtown L.A. and has recently been putting together writing workshops in Little Tokyo.

It took us learning a special handshake to enter her exclusive Department of Writing and Power for an interview. It was well worth it.

MONK TURNER: Tell us about your musical background...

ALANNA LIN: Well Monk, I started off as a kid in Cleveland, Ohio. My mom and dad had me play piano at five with Ms. Claussen who was a very elderly lady in Euclid Heights. I started violin when I was eight. Throughout grade school and high school I played piano and violin. So long ago. [laughter]

In high school I started feeling like I wanted to sing so I would sing in the entry way of the high school where there was great reverb and I was like 'I kinda have a nice voice and I like singing a lot.' I met a girl named Elizabeth Acton who was a very strange girl but she was a songwriter. She got me into songwriting and we worked on some things together.

MT: You eventually made your way to CalArts after college...

AL: I took a red Honda Civic to CalArts with my sister in it. After graduating college, I was seized with this idea that I should be doing music and I was seized with the idea that my band was supposed to be called Facinoma. I came to CalArts but I only did it because I needed an excuse to come to California. While at grad school, I tried to figure out how to do music because I didn't have any musical friends or people trying to write songs in Cleveland. At CalArts I started to meet those people but they were in the music program. I ended up turning in a song for my thesis and recording a demo...

MT: ...and eventually releasing an album.

AL: Yeah. I released an an album. [laughter] Oh gosh. I did. [laughter] After mixing my album four years ago, I had gone to a really special yard sale where to co-creater of the show American Dad was selling his things. It was the last two minutes of the yard sale and we got to talking and I got his email and added him to my list. I personally spammed him for a year and then he came to one of my shows and liked one song for the show. It only took four years but eventually it was on the show.

MT: At this time, were you here in Downtown?

AL: I was in downtown. [laughter] I moved here in 2005 because I was subletting a place from a friend.

MT: And in this space is where you're currently hosting a new project...

AL: Yes, Monk. [laughter] Los Angeles Department of Writing and Power (DWP).

MT: And those Writing and Power workshops are here in Little Tokyo. What does that look like?

AL: It looks like a party. It is a combination of writing workshops and public speaking workshops. All casual feeling with the idea that doing is part of the main requirement for figuring out what shifts you need to make in order to be comfortable. Every workshop culminates in some type of recital and then there are certain clubs that are being hosted out of DWP which will be members-only. What I mean by that is members pay a paltry twenty dollar fee to get dinner and entertain on the microphone.

MT: blogdowntown readers who are interested should...

AL: People who are interested in membership can apply online by submitting their email and people who want to sign up for a workshop can just sign up for a workshop.

Write on! More information about DWP can be found at: If you want to hear Alanna's songs, check out: She also has a public service announcement for everyone at You've been warned.


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