Alessia Cara Reveals How Writing 'In The Meantime' Brought Her Catharsis


Photo: iHeartRadio

Alessia Cara released her third full-length album, In The Meantime, on September 24, and the singer continued the celebration with an iHeartRadio Album Release Party. Performing some of her top hits, including "Best Days" and "Scars to Your Beautiful," as well as sitting down with iHeartRadio's Valentine to discuss what influenced the creation of In The Meantime.

Cara's third studio album follows 2018's The Pains of Growing, and continues her theme of self-reflection. With 18 tracks, In The Meantime features only one collaboration, "Middle Ground" featuring CHIKA. The singer does not usually include collaborations on her songs, and "Middle Ground" serves as one of the few Cara has ever done.

"I'm a huge, huge fan of CHIKA," Cara said of the singer. "She's an amazing artist, and I discovered her a couple years back with her Tiny Desk performance [...] She is such a genius writer, and just like such a talented, talented person." Cara went on to explain that she opted to include CHIKA for this particular song because she felt as though "Middle Ground" could use a different perspective.

Meditating on what it was like being in the midst of a quarter-life crisis during a worldwide pandemic, Cara's record resonates with fans and highlights her personal growth. When Valentine congratulated her on the record and mentioned how it has already garnered acclaim, Cara shared that she was actually surprised about how the album has been received.

"I really did not expect it to be quite honest. I really tried to go into this with no expectations, you know, especially after the craziness of the last few years. I was just excited to put something out, and I didn't really know what was going to happen. But, the reaction has been very, very kind and wonderful and great. So I'm very happy."

The album release party saw Cara singing "Sweet Dream," "I Miss You, Don't Call Me," and "Best Days" in full. Alessia Cara also dove out of her own record to cover Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like A Bird" and went back into her catalog for "Scars to Your Beautiful." Snippets of her songs "Find My Boy," "You Let Me Down," "Bluebird," "Lie To Me," "Middle Ground," and "Apartment Song" as Cara's fans sang along to each track.

"I feel like, in many different ways, I think I'm way more experimental than I used to be. A lot more free in my writing than I used to be. And I think that's just something that comes with age, but also practice and doing it for a long time. The more you do it, I guess the more naturally it comes. Just getting more free about it. I don't really harp on things too much. It's not as grueling as a process. It's actually just a lot more fun and easier."

Photo: iHeartRadio

"I'm sure an album would have happened, but definitely not this one," Cara explained of how the lock down influenced her album. "I think that the way that it happened was so necessary just because, you know, I've been doing this for the last seven years. Which entails a lot of traveling, distraction, you know you don't even have time to process your feelings when you're so 'go, go, go.' So, you know, if I hadn't actually had the time to be with myself and be stuck with myself and like, have these really dark, weird moments, I don't think I would've been able to have been as honest on this project as I was. Or discover the things that I did."

Cara explains that In The Meantime is more of an exploration of her growth, and considers the making of the album to have been cathartic. She explained that putting everything into words and getting them off her chest allowed her to take steps forward. Cara also reflected on her first album, looking back on her career and thinking of advice she would provide to her younger self. Throughout the entire album release, the singer emphasized that she wished she could tell herself that things will get better, and she'd learn how to figure out who she was. Its a theme consistent throughout her new album, as well as many of those who also find themselves going through a quarter-life crisis.

"It came in waves," Cara said of the mental growth she had while working on the new project. "I think there was a lot of growth and then like, you know, the opposite of that, and then growth again. I think that's the way that healing kind of works, is that, sometimes you have it down and then you lose it all, and then you regain it again. So it was a lot of that."

However, while Cara's record focused on the trials and tribulations of being in your mid-20s, the singer revealed the tidbit that she can officiate weddings. Cara gushed about how she loves setting people up and helping create new relationships, and hopes to have the opportunity to one day officiate a wedding. When talking about how she became ordained, she joked that it was "suprisingly easy," nailing in that it may even be "too" easy. A friend had gifted her with a course to become ordained as a birthday gift, the singer expressing that it's one of her favorite gifts she'd ever received.