Since releasing her debut single in 2017, Sydney-based artist Alexandra Younes has carved out an incredibly unique space for herself in the world of Aussie pop. Her music somehow feels simultaneously dark and shimmering—it balances between vulnerability and power.
As Younes prepares to release her debut EP later this month, we caught up for a complete track-by-track run down. So here’s what you can expect from Head Held High, the highly anticipated debut EP from Alexandra Younes.
Before she releases her debut EP later this month, we caught up with Sydney artist Alexandra Younes for a complete run-down of each track.
Happy Ever After (ft. Nic DC)
Happy Ever After opens the EP with its soft and melancholic melodies. It defines the acceptance and realisation that a relationship might never be going to work the way we want it to. “We’re lost in forever, but it’s never a happy ever after” — two people just going around in circles, lost in a fantasy world but always experiencing the same fate. I never actually intended for it to be a duet until I performed it live the first time – that’s when I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. After that, the production and arrangement became more clear, and was eventually inspired by famous duets from the 2000s – Hate That I Love You by NeYo & Rihanna, Art of Love by Guy Sebastian & Jordin Sparks.
This song is inspired by some friends’ relationships that my mum predicted would fail — she was right. The production is heavily inspired by Charlie Puth’s latest work; fat and heavy bass lines, wordy phrases, and melodies that bounce around a lot — I have Kabusii (from pop duo, Maari) to thank for doing it justice. It wasn’t originally going to be my first single, but I ended up loving it so much. It’s definitely my most experimental track on and off the EP, and I was nervous about how people would receive it, but it’s been loved so far!
Losing was really fun for me because it really brought out my rock-inspired side. I was so into pop/rock and 70s rock during my early teens, especially when I first started writing, and I think this really brought me back to that. It was super exciting to just belt out the chorus over the guitars and heavy drums when we were in the studio. This song is the one that changed the most during the production process. The structure was completely different when we began, we added a third verse, completely removed a part in the pre-chorus, and I had a lot more planned for backing vocals. We ended up finding this incredible balance in it all. The backing vocals throughout the end weren’t even added until the last stages of mixing! This song definitely goes through the motions of being sad, angry and confused about a situation all at once, which is really reflected in the contrast of the verses and choruses.
Tell Me Why
Surprise(!) Another angsty tune about how someone has hurt me! Hahaha. This one was more inspired by the fact I had always gone above and beyond for people, for them to turn around and not appreciate any of it. My mum’s always told me that I have an issue with saying no, and how I would put everything on the line for people. Tell Me Why is definitely my way of delving into the country music scene — which I’ve been doing more often than not, as of late. During production I said; “this is 100% my country song,” and Kabusii came back to me with this wild production of country-inspired guitar comping, accompanied with an amazing solo idea from Matt (Kabusii rerecorded the solo, so that’s his handy work you’ll hear towards the end).
Keep You Happy
This song is the only one on the track that I can’t really listen to. When I first recorded the vocals, it had been a long time since the experience it was inspired by so I was so far removed from the situation. I got home from a short trip to the US, listened back and decided I hated the vocals and wanted to re-record it. A really similar situation, with the same person, had come up again so I was in the perfect headspace to smash this one out. The song is pretty much about giving up trying to convince someone that another person in their life is no good without looking like the bad guy. Eventually, you just give up, because ultimately you care about this person so much and just want them to be happy. It’s super vulnerable, so the production really needed to be exposing.
Scores is the last track you hear on the EP because it’s one that reflects what I really learnt from every experience previously covered: I’ll leave with my head held high, and I’m better for it. This song is definitely inspired by early 2000s pop, which really defined my childhood. Kabusii came up with the opening guitar lick, and we threw a breakdown in there to emphasise that the lyrics are like an anthem you need to cheer yourself on, really empower you to move on, and learn from experiences in life — good and bad.
Head Held High will be released on June 21st.