Music has always been a refuge for Alyssa Veniece. This Canadian has a successful acting career but it’s music that has always been with her. Like many of us, it becomes a means of empowerment, escape, and motivation. In contrast to most of us, she has fashioned her affinity and creativity into a successful career as a musical artist. It’s fitting that she is also an actress because her story could easily be made into a movie, in particular the instance that concerns her work with famed Canadian rock band Down With Webster. It seems that in her pre-solo music artist days, Veniece auditioned as the love interest in a Down With Webster video but was rejected for the role. Sometime later, she would help the band create one of their most well-known hit songs “Chills.” The story is almost unbelievable for a film premise because viewers would insist it couldn’t happen. The most important ingredient in this formula for success is Alyssa’s self-belief, a trait evident in her music. It’s become a point of “poking fun” between Veniece and the band; the fact that they failed to recognize the benefits of this magnetic female artist but were given a second chance.
Her involvement with “Chills” is not where it began for Veniece. Long before the song, long before acting…when she was just nine or ten, Alyssa built a studio in her parents’ basement out of inflatable couches and used sheets to partition her makeshift recording fortress. The sign hung on it said “Alyssa’s Studio.” While she may not have actually recorded songs, she wrote many of them out in longhand in a notebook as a budding lyricist. She credits her parents for instilling the sense of self-belief in her that led to pursuing her dreams.
Years later, when a musician friend of Alyssa’s was writing a song for David Guetta, she was asked to come up with some lyrics. However, when Down With Webster heard Veniece’s work they were so captivated that they insisted on having it. In fact, they rewrote a song they had already begun based solely on the verse Alyssa wrote “These chills didn’t come from the cold, they came from you,” and it became part of a verse on the song. The song was originally titled “Into The Blue” but when it was played for the band Down With Webster, they loved the line and turned it into the chorus and hook. The song was also retitled to be called “Chills.”
Veniece concedes that she has always been a hopeless romantic. It’s a positive (though sometimes painful) trait for one of artistic temperament. It translated well for “Chills” though. She relates, “I think it’s the factual simplicity of the statement that is so accessible. It says so much in so little. Before two people ever fall in love, before telling each other, there is a moment when each becomes self-aware that they are, in fact, in love with somebody else. This phrase captures that exact moment, only taking it a little further — it is the most vulnerable part of falling in love, which is letting the other person know. I think anyone who has ever been in love can relate to this feeling, it’s scary, risky and super honest. That’s why I think it resonated with the band and also the listeners. It’s saying, “Hey, you’ve made me feel this way and it is absolutely out of my control, out of the entire universe’s control.” Pretty deep statement in such a small phrase.”
Down With Webster is an immensely successful band with recognitions that include nominations for twenty-two awards, including twelve MuchMusic Video Awards and six Juno Awards. Tyler Armes (Bassist and Keyboardist) of the band notes, “At first, I didn’t know (none of us did) that she wrote the lyrics that made such and impact on us; everyone assumed another writer did because no one told us otherwise. When I found out, I was blown away. What made Alyssa’s work exceptional was the impact that her writing had on the original song. It was clever, relatable, personal, and helped make the song a hit on Top 40 radio which is still being spun in recurrent format 3 years later. It was a pleasure working with her and I would love the opportunity to write with her again. Working on ‘Chills’ with Alyssa was such a pleasure. She sure made believers out of us!”
Alyssa took particular pride in the fact that it was the lyrics which jumped out to Down With Webster. She has always been a fan of lyrics and Rap lyrics in particular. The poetic nature of the songs she has loved and the songs she has created has led her to refer to her overall life approach as “lyricism.” For her, it’s all about clarity. Veniece declares, “I always try to be as honest as possible in my work and my writing in particular. I find that so many times in relationships, people make excuses for the way they feel and try to come up with reasons as to why they feel or react a certain way…sometimes through external circumstances and sometimes just due to their own nature. The lyrics that led to the complete song “Chills” came to me very quickly. Tt is basically me being transparent and vulnerable in letting somebody know that the way I am feeling has no mask or room for question. It is letting them know that they are the sole reason for my feelings and nothing else. I tend to be very straight up with people in my personal life and it definitely does transfer over into my style of writing.”
Down With Webster is one of the most unique and successful male groups in Canada. To have a band so well-known recognize something you created is not only a recognition of one’s talent but also the type of situation that makes others take note. While Alyssa states that she always loved Down With Webster’s catchy songs, she’ll ask to be forgiven for being particularly partial to them after this collaboration. As she contemplates the entire experience Veniece remarks, “It’s a really cool feeling knowing that another artist can so passionately relate to something I wrote. Hearing my thoughts expressed through another voice, knowing the listeners can relate, knowing they get it, it’s the best feeling in the world. I think that’s what every artist craves… honest connection to other people, sharing and feeling connected through our weirdest and most emotional selves. I love that they did a head-over-heels exciting take on my thoughts. I mean, what’s more exciting that falling head-over-heels in love with someone else?”