A handy union of folk and electronica paired with profound lyricism, every song she has released to date has captured thousands. Ahead of her second EP See You Soon and the tour to match, we caught up with Alex for a chat.
Fresh off the back of a moving performance at Sydney’s equality rally and right on the cusp of her next EP tour, we take 5 with Alex The Astronaut.
HAPPY: Hey Alex, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
ALEX: Hi there! Not much, just been writing some songs and reading today. I’ve been reading All The President’s Men which is a book about the Watergate Scandal by two American journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who were key figures who reported at the time and it’s pretty amazing. I’m thinking of writing a song about it. I watched the movie too, I highly recommend both.
HAPPY: Congrats on getting Not Worth Hiding into the world! The response so far has been so positive. How are you feeling?
ALEX: I’m feeling great! I was really worried about releasing the song, and I’ve been working on it for a couple of years so I’m happy that people are connecting with it. It’s pretty amazing, people have messaged me saying that the song has helped them and I feel so humbled by all the reactions. It’s been awesome.
HAPPY: The track pushes some really poignant messages about self-acceptance and loving yourself despite how hard it can be sometimes. What inspired these themes?
ALEX: I had a pretty hard time working out how I would come out or if I could when I was younger. I didn’t think that I could live as a gay girl especially when I wanted to work in a lot of male dominated fields like music, soccer and science where I felt I would be dismissed as a stereotype and not taken seriously. I also hadn’t seen any LGBT people around me so I didn’t know where I would fit in the future that everyone around me was laying out for themselves as people do when they’re in school and growing up. I got to a point when I’d left school where I realised that the only person that was suffering by my not coming out was me. It turned out, everything that I was so worried about wasn’t an issue at all and I am perfectly happy now after I’ve come out. I wanted to share what happened to me because it’s a pretty significant part of my life and I wanted young people who might be struggling to hear about it.
HAPPY: Does being so transparent in your songwriting come naturally or is it something you push yourself to do?
ALEX: I always try to write about things that I think are important. I like writing about things that have happened to me or to people close to me. I think that’s where I write most naturally, but I think that might apply to a lot of people too. I don’t like to push myself to write about anything I don’t feel comfortable sharing in song form.
HAPPY: Your new EP See You Soon is out October, just over six months since To Whom It May Concern came out. Why the decision for such a quick follow-up?
ALEX: I had written more music and I really wanted to play some new songs when I moved home from America in May. I finished See You Soon just before we recorded it in June, I was really excited to record and get it all out there!
HAPPY: How has your songwriting shifted between the two records? Were they written in the same frame of mind or are they quite different?
ALEX: See You Soon was written with a more mature frame of mind. I was in my last semester of college when I wrote it, I was finishing my degree and looking to the future rather than just having a great time living on a college campus in America with 3000 18-22 year olds – which is what I was doing whilst writing To Whom It May Concern. It was a big, life-changing experience coming home from living overseas for three years and saying goodbye to lots of people I love. It definitely had an impact on the writing.
HAPPY: Sonically, you work in two fairly disparate camps – folk and electronica. How do you balance the two when it comes to songwriting and production?
ALEX: I cover the folk elements with my guitar and my producer, Ben, covers the electronica aspect of it. I send examples from songs to show what I want the
electronic bits to sound like because I can’t play the instruments. It’s a bit of a process but we’ve worked it out!
HAPPY: Who are your two key influences from each realm? Why them?
ALEX: I always say Paul Kelly for folk, but another folk influence is Van Morrison. And for electronic, at the moment, would be Francis and the Lights. I think Francis is making really cool music and I love his writing. I highly recommend it.
HAPPY: You have a puppy named Martin – that’s rad. Tell us about him.
ALEX: Martin is a beautiful hilarious loving baby dog who throws acorns and puts his head in the snow to work out what it is. He’s living with my friend Tiff in America now because he’s too little to move to Australia. I see lots of photos of him though and I’ll get to see him when I go back to New York.
HAPPY: The Plot is shaping up to be such a great festival – who are you keen to see?
Catch Alex The Astronaut around town on her See You Soon EP tour. Jump over to her Facebook page for tickets.
Sunday 1 October – Wildwood Festival, Cassegrains Winery, Port Macquarie – Tickets
Thursday 19 October – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Saturday 21 October – The Treehouse, Byron Bay
Thursday 26 October – The Lansdowne, Sydney
Friday 27 October – Uni Bar, Wollongong
Saturday 28 October – Howler, Melbourne
Friday 3 November – Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth
Saturday 18 November – The Plot, Parramatta Park – Tickets
28-31 December – Lost Paradise, Glenworth Valley – Tickets
See You Soon is out October 6.