ALA.NI's voice is as much a vibe as a conveyer of ideas, of words and thought. For me, it's evocative of love and heart. This video and the song ALA.NI sings illustrates my point. But I'll let ALA.NI tell more in the magnificent note she wrote to me. She has a lot to get out and is obviously passionate about it:
"The message that I wished to convey in the making of this video is...
"LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE.
"Take it where you can get it, cause lord knows we need as much of it right now in this mad, mad world.
"The song, 'Not Coming Home' was written three years ago in a hotel room in Paris. I wrote it about a male friend of mine who we both shared an open attraction towards each other. We'd spend hours together, smoking pot after closing hours in Soho Square, hanging out at Ronnie's Scotts, drinking fine whisky, listening to and making music. We even shared a tent once. But nothing ever happened. I used to wonder how he explained this very intimate relationship to his girlfriend. So I wrote a song about it from his point of view, supposing that we had done the deed and set our true feelings into action and he had to explain to his girlfriend where he had been all night.
"Just for the record, I did eventually kiss him once he was single.
"But then I relocated myself to Paris. We are now distant friends.
"He has a new girlfriend.
"My original idea for the directing of the video was to feature two males. Knowing that I was releasing the video into the US market, I had to be very mindful of the color 'contrasting' and mixing. I don't discriminate. I don't see life that way. I keep it simple. We are all humans, bleeding and breathing in different hues of skin. Circling our multicultural globe. Dipping, mixing and tasting each other.
"How lucky we are.
"The issues started when I realized that I couldn't have two white males to decide over in the video. I couldn't have two black males either. The choice then was to represent one of each color, but I couldn't be seen leaving my black boyfriend for a white man. Heavens forbid!
"So I decided on leaving my white boyfriend for a black male. Seemed like a more digestible situation.
"Call me an 'oreo,' a 'bounty,' a 'coconut,' a 'traitor,' but I haven't dated or even kissed a man within my own race for over 10 years. Yes, a long, long time. I still have yet to find the answer to this question. Is there an answer or just an acceptance of my preference. I should have the freedom to love who the f*** I want. Im looking for a heart, a mind to connect with, not skin.
"Just for the record. I rectified this no-black-male drought whilst casting for the video. Call it creative research.
"I am a product of my environment. I went to all-white schools.
"I trained in drama. I speak a certain way, act a certain way. A 'white' way? But I have never ever forgotten who I am. If I wish to better myself out of a certain mentality, put on to us, for us to believe that we are lesser beings... that black equals bad, negative, loser, ill-educated, cannibal. Yes I went there! Then I am called a 'wanna-be white.' Oh I can't win. Safer to just be me: ALANI.
"So, back to the video. I had two wonderful, handsome black male actor friends that would have been perfect for the part of the 'love at first sight' male, but both being supreme at their craft, were attending the Emmy's during our shooting schedule, breaking down even higher, bigger walls. So proud of my brothers.
"I had hit a brick wall. Back to the casting couch! I received over 150 headshots of black male actors. Nothing worked for me. The production team was starting to get a little annoyed at my non-selection.
"So, after a discussion over lunch in London about my video-making dilemma, with my very open-minded uncle, who is forever setting the world to rights — Fostered and raised by a white family in Brighton, he would be riding his horse in a field on a Saturday afternoon as a kid. How many black children get to do that? He knows that he may have lost a youth of growing up in 'Black London' with his immediate family, but he also knows that he has been given opportunities that never would have presented themselves if he had been a disadvantaged west London black male. As an adult, he is an antique furniture seller and restorer and once famously made a bed for Freddie Mercury —
"So, my dear Uncle says, 'Why not have three females in the video?'
"Erm... I had not even considered this. Maybe not three, but the leading MAN could be a FEMALE. Perfect!
"No boundaries. No discrimination when it comes to LOVE.
"The walls came down and production for the video was on a roll again.
"The only other thing was, I had never ever kissed a female before. Speaking with my girlfriends in Paris, 100 percent had kissed a female and at least 50 percent of them are openly bisexual. Have I missed out on something?
"Six years single. Maybe I need to broaden my dating spectrum.
"I learnt a lot about myself during the making of this video.
"I learnt that kissing a girl feels like... I can only describe it as talcum powder. Soft smelling and oh so delicate. I think I prefer stubble and a hard, firm male body to hold me. I also got to reinforce my belief that true love is definitely for sharing, no matter the cost.
"Never say never to life.
"Who knows what is just around the corner!
"And to reiterate my opening message....
"LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE!!!!
"ONE LOVE XXX."
ALA.NI's most recent album is You & I. "Not Coming Home" was originally featured on the European-only release of the album. This version of the song was re-recorded with accompanist Marvin Dolly as part of the Amazon Acoustics series.