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You know Alessia Cara—the Grammy-Juno-Billboard-AMA-VMA-winning Canadian pop artist? Of course you do. She’s been out “Here” (#sorrynotsorry) for years, showering us in incredible music and repping Canada on the world stage. Our homegirl is only 23 and she’s already performed on the same stage as Jay-Z and Beyoncé, gained the approval of Taylor Swift and she’s currently touring with Shawn Mendes. Can you say, “Living the dream”?

All that wild success isn’t new. Even back when we met her in 2015, Alessia was living what one might call the Canadian Rock Star Life—meaning she was totally killing it, but too polite to be anything other than breathlessly grateful. We can relate.

“It’s crazy, all the time I’m like, ‘Do I really belong here?'” Alessia said back in 2015, sitting in a park in the Brampton neighbourhood she grew up in. “Do I fit in? Even when I did the Tidal show with Jay-Z and Beyonce… why is my name there? It’s just a crazy experience.”

In honour of Alessia Cara’s 23rd birthday this week, we’re taking a look back at that vintage interview and how things have changed (but also how they’re totally the same).

At the time, Alessia was just releasing her first album, Know-It-All after her first single, “Here,” became a huge hit. She was making her first rounds on the talk show scene too, meeting people like Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres along the way. Oh, and an iconic artist by the name of Taylor Alison Swift.

ON TAYLOR SWIFT

One thing that hasn’t changed is that Taylor Swift is still a titan in the music industry (although her image has been through several re-vamps since 2015). In October of that year (on Halloween, to be specific), Alessia and Taylor performed “Here” at one of Taylor’s 1989 tour dates. Afterwards, the two sat down for a little interview where Taylor gushed over Alessia’s music.

“I think it happened,” Alessia said of the night. “On Twitter… she just asked me to come on her show and sing my song with her and that was the most amazing, crazy thought process and experience I’ve ever been through in my life… Honestly the best Halloween ever.

“It was incredible, she’s the nicest girl ever,” she continued. “She gave me such great advice and it was so cool to just be accepted like that when I’m so new in the industry and stuff.”

ON LEARNING THE INDUSTRY

Speaking of being new in the industry, it’s funny to look back at the people Alessia was idolizing and see how those artists have become her peers. Shawn Mendes was just an up-and-comer himself at the time, but these two Canadian talents have made quite the mark since then.

“The best part of it all is that everyone that I’ve met so far—whether it’s Shawn Mendes or Drake or Taylor, the biggest people in the world, they never treat me like I’m less than them, they treat me like their peer,” she said. “They treat me like, ‘You’re doing this too; I’m doing this too,’ and they talk to me like it’s normal.”

Cut to 2019 and Alessia is on tour with none other than Shawn Mendes who is on the second leg of his World Tour. Look at our Canadian kids go!

 

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ON B-TOWN

The girl from Brampton showed off her city by walking us through the parts that mean the most to her. Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School was where she performed for the first time; Treeline Park was where she spent time riding her bike and listening to music. She even walked us down the road where she filmed her highly-stylized “I’m Yours” video.

“I was really just running along this whole street here with my brother chasing me with some flowers and a moustache,” she said. “And I just had a selfie stick and I was just filming myself and him run… I rode my bike down here too as a kid, little did I know it was going to be the place I would shoot one of my amazing, awesome, professional music videos.”

ON THAT LITTLE GIRL WITH A DREAM

Sitting in that park surrounded by houses filled with little Alessia dreamers, Cara had a message for all those aspiring artists or scientists or anything else. Honestly, we should probably take her wise 19-year-old words under advisement too.

“You don’t always have to figure it out right away and I definitely didn’t,” she said. “I just took a chance because I love to do this and I didn’t know if it was going to work out… You don’t always have to know. Just take something you love and just start wherever you are and do what you can with what you have and be patient but also persistent.

“You gotta really work for it; don’t think it will happen overnight or that you have to know everything,” she continued. “Even now that I’m doing this, I don’t know where I want to be in two years or three years. I don’t know who I am as a person fully yet so it just takes time.”

We think you’re doing just fine, Alessia.