Aileen de la Cruz is one of Canada’s most prolific songwriters. She has launched one of the most talked about careers as a writer, session vocalist, performer and vocal coach. A classically trained musician who began playing the piano by ear at the tender age of 2. At 10 years old, her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall with the highly touted Amadeus Children’s Choir and the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra was fulfilled.
Formerly Signed to Cymba Music Publishing, Vince Degiorgio (Caro Emerald, N-SYNC), Aileen has worked with many Multi- Platinum award winning producers/writers who in turn have worked with the likes of Kelly Rowland, Justin Bieber, Backstreet Boys. Recent collaborations have also seen Aileen working alongside ‘X-Factor’ and ‘The Voice’ winner in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Mexico.
Traveling the world on writing tours, Aileen’s trips have delivered multiple cuts landing worldwide hit songs with artists signed to Sony, Universal, EMI, THE VOICE and X factor Finalists, and Japanese and Korean artists such as Sexy K-pop Group ‘4 Minute’, fronted by megastar Hyuna – who was featured in a version of Psy’s global smash “Gangnam Style”. Recently Aileen is also a Juno nominated songwriter for Canadian “Adult Contemporary Album of the year “ for artist Nuela Charles.
She has also had songs featured on TV Networks BBC, ABC, FOX, HBO, featured on blockbuster movies such as ‘Bad Moms’ and ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. Her songs have also appeared on TV shows such as ‘The Voice’ (UK), ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (US), ‘Desperate Housewives’, Keeping with the Kardashians and charted on Japan’s itunes Top 10 along with features on numerous commercials for globally iconic brands like ‘Reebok’ and T-Mobile USA.
In addition to her songwriting career, Aileen’s start in the music industry goes back to her roots as a first call session vocalist, vocal arranger and live performer. She has contributed her voice globally on records with international Hip-Hop superstars such as Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy who have had their tracks graced by Aileen’s harmonies. Aileen is also a first call musician for Disney Cruise Line and a winner of “Best Musician/Band ” for the prestigious fleet. She also tours as backup vocalist for international recording artist Joey Albert.
Enjoy Aileen’s interview with the S.A.C. below:
What inspires you to create music?
The feeling you get when you hear a song finished that came from one single idea – inspired by real life situations or the people around you.
Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?
Yes. I usually start with melody ideas or sit in front of the piano and play around with chord progressions. I then proceed to lyric writing once I have a basic melody structure in place.
How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?
I was mentored by an up and coming producer named Ron Laxamana in my early teens. I recorded my first originals and Demos with him. I knew after a few sessions in the studio that working in the music industry was going to be my career. A few years later I began doing session work with more established producers and writers and carried on from there.
How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?
When I was first starting off I really only performed and created Pop/R&B Music. Now I appreciate and write for all genres. It was certainly a learning curve but very important as a writer to explore all kinds of music.
Do you write for other recording/performing artists?
Yes. I write for established artists or writers that are passionate about what they do. If they are willing to learn and are motivated and persistent to pursue a serious career in the business than I am willing to work with them.
Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?
I write all Genres.
Have you faced any major economic, social or political hurdles as a music creator?
I’ve been fully working in the music industry for the last 15 years so the challenge of being a self employed musician and writer has its pros and cons. I’ve had to work and wear many hats being a teacher, musician and writer to make ends meet. Also being female has it’s challenges with the way you are treated. But at the end of the day work ethic always speaks for itself and constantly thinking ahead about how you can source new opportunities is key. I think its also important to always think like an entrepreneur. After all, it’s called the music business for a reason.
Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?
I’m influenced by all styles of music really. If I can hear emotion in an instrument or a voice, thats what really moves me to emulate that in my music.
If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?
Andrea Bocelli or Beyonce’.
How did you learn your craft – was it a “formal” or “informal” music education?
It was both. I began playing the piano by ear and my first song played was Chariots of fire after hearing it on TV. At 5 I began learning classical piano and it continued from there.
Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?
Learn to network. But also learn people. The business is all about building relationships. Opportunities don’t also come right away so it’s important to reach out and be involved in the community and in the meantime keep paying your dues and improve your craft.
What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?
My fondest memory is performing at Carnegie Hall with the Manhattan Philharmonic. I was only 10 and completely clueless about life. But the energy and sounds on that stage was something else.
What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, eg. GarageBand, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper?
A keyboard, my laptop, apogee and mic and compact audio booth. Virtually a compact studio that I take everywhere or use at home.
Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like?
Yes I have. In a lot of cases you just get a brief of what the agent is looking for. Sometimes the descriptions are very vague and you have no idea what they want. Sometimes it’s hit or miss. I try to pay attention to what I hear on TV so that I know what’s currently being placed.
How can S.A.C. help you?
The S.A.C has already been very helpful to me and the community. I’ ve been very fortunate to be involved with One on one mentoring, Panels and the Pro Songwriting Camps. I would love to see this continue on all platforms.
If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?
Work on improving Gender equality and diversifying who we have on panels and conferences etc.
What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself?
I think it’s a matter of educating yourself and keeping in line with technology and the trends. Some people write through FaceTime or Skype now days. You can record your own music at home without having an expensive studio.