Some people learned to bake sourdough; Alessia Cara wrote and recorded a new album.

Not everyone fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those initial months of uncertainty—the isolation, the rolling lockdowns, the hoarding of toilet paper.

The Grammy-winning Cara wasn’t spared from feeling those dark days either, and as COVID pressed on and forced most of the world to stay home, she admits it felt like there was a “veil” shadowing her outlook. But over the last year and a half, the Brampton singer-songwriter has been able to translate her emotions into a raw and fresh new album, In The Meantime.

“If there’s anything that this year of craziness has taught us it’s that we’re so lucky to live another day because it’s not promised,” she says. “Coming out of this pandemic, even though we’re not fully out of it… I feel like I’m changed in so many ways… I just try to be consistently conscious of looking around me and, you know, just taking a moment to notice it and feel lucky about it.”

The songs on In The Meantime are like a blueprint to how Alessia navigated her mental health, both during the pandemic and before it. “In the last six months I’ve come to terms with what I’m dealing with and being OK medicating instead of trying to self medicate by toughing it out and getting through the day,” she says. “I think there comes a time where you got to surrender to that and surrender to getting the proper help and just assistance in general.”

She adds that she wrote all the songs on the new album herself. 

“When you’re in the pop world, it’s not very common to write a lot of your own stuff,” she says. “I think people just assume that when you’re a young woman in the pop industry that you can’t speak for yourself or that you don’t have a voice.”

But she’s had big names back her up. Because the pandemic shut down borders, Alessia was able to connect with some of Canada’s top producers like Boi-1da, Mike Wise, Billboard, Doc McKinney and more.

“The pandemic and lack of travel really helped push me towards [working with Canadian producers because, yeah, I had to kind of stay home,” she says. “I really got to lock in with Canadian people in my home, which is also great.”

Complex Canada’s Alex Narvaez caught up with Alessia to talk music, mental health and superpowers. Watch the convo above.