Criminal by Alexandra is triumph, it is bold, powerful and expressive, lyrically genius and a sign of great music and performances to come. Her voice is soulful and direct, opulent and honest. She is seductive and knows her range and power, vocally Criminal is sublime.
Few understand what it’s like to have such pure devotion for something that infiltrates every aspect of their being, so few could understand the depth of passion Alexandra has for music. “That’s not a real job!” followed by laughter and usually a few days of continual mocking was the reaction Alexandra would receive when she would proclaim she not just wanted to be, but knew beyond reasonable doubt she was going to be, a songwriter and singer. Not knowing how to not come across as whimsical or naive to the fact that it wasn’t an easy career choice, she eventually became sick of not being taken seriously and often kept this a secret. Most people were therefore unaware of just how serious Alexandra was about music and how hard she was willing to consistently work to learn and keep learning all she could to enable herself to achieve her gutsy ambition of moving to America where the music scene, as she saw it, was the most alive and alluring, to live out her dream.
An English teacher once said to her “Artists like you are always a little strange and unconventional” and as someone who’s biggest fear is disappearing into the dark, tangled web of the typical, she remembers this as one of the nicest compliments ever given to her.
Regardless of how many creative activities she tried while growing up, including learning and performing dance for eight years, Alexandra’s main interest always seemed to come back to music. It wasn’t until getting a proper keyboard and finally her first real acoustic guitar on her thirteenth birthday, that focused Alexandra on songwriting and she started taking it seriously, often ‘binge’ writing and playing songs consistently for almost days on end.
The small country town of Armidale in NSW(New South Wales Australia, where Alexandra grew up, boasted one radio station which played the same ten songs every day on a continual loop driving listeners insane, but luckily at home, Alexandra was immersed in a wide variety of musical influences that have formed the foundation for her love of writing and an appreciation of imagination and creative flow. Old cassette tapes her Mum would give her when she very little of Madonna and Fleetwood Mac, would keep her entertained on the long drives along the Australian coast her family would take every summer. At home, out of the speakers of the family’s stereo would blast AC/DC, Neil Diamond, Michael Jackson, ABBA, Rick Springfield, Olivia Newton-John, Peter Frampton, Pink Floyd and INXS. Too young to be fully aware of whom she was actually listening to, all she knew was that she loved this stuff and it made her feel great. It wasn’t long until, having been given a small notebook for her fifth birthday, she began writing short songs and as she got older, thanks to her love of hip hop, some slightly embarrassing raps. Alexandra would perform these for anyone who was willing, or even not willing, to listen.
From the memory of the mix tapes her older sister would give her to her first concert – Beyoncé, and her first ‘Big Day Out’ music festival experience in Sydney, Alexandra’s older sister gave her that first live music experiences and introduced her to a lot of the bands she still loves today. The image of how The Red Hot Chili Peppers had captivated the entire stadium at the festival she attended as a teenager has had a lasting effect on Alexandra and she tries to have the same effect with her performances, no matter how small the venue. Other artists like the Pixies, Kanye West, David Bowie, Drake, The Rolling Stones, Sonic Youth, Jay Z, Rihanna and Lana Del Rey, have had a lasting influence on her remain the models she uses to be diverse, relevant and to evolve as an artist.
After falling into modeling and traveling back and forth between Sydney and Armidale while still at school, she realized early on that the only thing that would ever truly fulfill her was music. She decided not to pursue the already promising career she had as a model to focus solely on the seemingly impossible journey of one day having a career doing what she truly loved, singing and writing songs.
Repeatedly strange yet meaningful moments would reveal themselves as inspiration for her lyrics. For instance, the night a distant gunshot from nearby farm stirred in Alexandra a melody, ad-libbing around that melody, it would eventually evolve into what would later become the chorus for ‘Criminal’. This unconventional writing process makes it rare that Alexandra will ever have to actively look for inspiration, as it usually finds her, resulting in lyrics that are far from being transparently contrived. She says “It’s like being possessed when a wave of inspiration hits her. It won’t let go until what needs to be said has been said and explored from every abstract angle.”
Alexandra spends some of her time exploring different creative outlets such as painting, poetry, drawing, writing and photography. These art forms have always triggered bouts of inspiration for Alexandra and allow her to find her inner thoughts and emotions, giving her more clarity when it comes to expressing what she needs to say through a song. Like an invisible limb, she finds it impossible to completely remove herself emotionally from her art, which leaves her unable to write a song she does not relate to on some level, even if the way she relates to it is not glaringly obvious to her at first.
Alexandra always tries to capture at least some of the elements she had heard and respected in her favorite artists’ work. She admired how Patti Smith, Lou Reed or Kurt Cobain had a poetic finesse in their lyrics creating a deeper meaning. She wanted to tell a story like Bob Dylan, but with a strong melody like that of the Beatles. Yet the infectious attitude that Queen or Led Zeppelin exuded was just the ultimate thing to try and achieve to Alexandra as an eager, young artist. Strong female rock singers such as Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks and Debbie Harry have also been inspiring and intriguing to Alexandra as examples of what can be achieved by female singers who can bring a different perspective to the male musicians she idolized. This unveiled to her the vast array of things she believes are still left to be expressed by women through music. Alexandra took notice of how these musicians seem to have transcended time, as their music keeps being discovered by new ears. Her songwriting then became molded around constructing something timeless, which for her is an integral part of creating that immersive experience that hooked her as a child and keeps her coming back.
Alexandra finally felt like she was heading in the right direction after her home demo of ‘Criminal’ was picked up by producer Stuart Epps in England and his production of the song was well received online. However, it wasn’t until Alexandra’s song was heard by American award-winning producer Keith Olsen that Alexandra’s true sound started to form. Alexandra knew she was lucky to be working with someone as experienced and as dedicated to getting it right as Keith Olsen. His extensive background in the music industry included the very songs that Alexandra associated with fond memories from her childhood and which would later shape her as a young songwriter. He transformed ‘Criminal’ into an energetic song that comes alive, breathing life into any room its sound fills. Thought provoking and not subtle in its nature, there is no denying her music has an edge and element of risk that she believes to be mostly missing in music today.
Alexandra feels she would be lucky to keep alive the demand for genuine music and songwriters with integrity who don’t wear a superficial facade, and so she vows to continue to work hard remaining raw, real and indefinable.
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