ALEX ANDRA

I recently had a super fun chat with pop punk’s latest goddess Paige Savill to hear all about her new solo project Alex Andra.

Alex Andra is my first solo project, in the sense that, I have kind of shared creative control in the past and it’s not really felt that I have been able to put my real fingerprints on the works even though it was a strong representation of myself and my music. This has been a real breath of fresh air to be able to go na lets just take this thing and run with it. I can feel myself thinking, even with this second single, how can we step it up. I just have so much fun exploring all the different ways that we can combine art to create something that is really fun and really moving and thought provoking. That’s were the lyrics come in but everything else I just want it to be a lot of fun.

When I first listened to the new single I fell in love with it. It’s got pop punk; it’s got heavier elements in it, but I can hear it being played on a commercial radio station. There’s not many songs in the genres I listen to that you would hear played on there.

Thank you. I’ve seen a lot of the artists that you interview and written about. It’s really cool, there’s a lot of emerging artists which I like to see.

Thank you. That’s my passion; metalcore and emerging artists. We have so much talent in Australia.

That’s awesome to hear. It comes across in your writing as well.

What is the story behind your latest single ‘Infliction’

Infliction is an ongoing story. I really wanted to capture this internal struggle that I have with social media and my role in it. Because I want to find a really healthy balance where my presence in it and my art in it is a positive impact on the community. Its really hard when you understand that you are still part of a system that is so damaging. Its such a fickle balance I find, and I don’t know where it’s going to go in the future in terms of musicians and stuff. Particularly musicians and how they are going to continue sharing their art and actually making money from it. How much have things changed in the last few decades. I used to save up money and buy singles if I couldn’t afford the album. And to think I’m even poorer now and I can only afford to stream my music and I feel guilty about it. So it brings in the whole social media and the way that it uses algorithms and you have to advertise and things like that. The engine itself is designed to suck all your money, it is a business and it is doing exactly what it was supposed to do under the guise that it connects us. And it does connect us, and it can be that vehicle.

That’s one of the positives, is that it does connect us.

Yeah. So it’s that constant how do we continue to engage in it and engage with one another in a positive way moving forward. And I don’t know yet!

Let me know when you find out please! I’m sick of calling people out on social media lately for inappropriate comments.

That’s a fulltime job…

I think because I am on it so often checking for new music and bands that I get to see the worst of people too.

Yes, because your having to consume that sort of material and for us we have to use these platforms for our work. I don’t know how involved I would be with it if it was just for leisure. Or for announcing my political views!! It baffles me.

The way social media is at the moment, if it wasn’t for the fact that I need to be on there I think my accounts may have been deactivated for a while. There’s not a lot of positives on there at the moment.

That can be quite exhausting. It’s a labour within itself to be on one of those platforms and you never know what you’re going to come across. Then you’re having to digest it and reject any information that you are like ’No I can’t deal with that’. Or like you said having to call people out. It’s almost like selling your soul. I don’t know if I did this to myself and I can’t beat myself up for it because I think I was about 19, which is considerably late seeing how young kids are getting on to Instagram these days. But I got Instagram and very quickly gained a few thousand followers because pages would share my images, so I’m sitting just under 30k followers now on my personal page. It’s been very difficult to transfer that to the music side of things because they just want to see me posing. I’ve sold my face pretty much. I’ve monetised my face, it is part of my income now. And I don’t know how that is going to go moving forward.  

It’s trying to now meld those two aspects into the one page

I’m very happy, I think my image and my sense of style is something that I do want to put at the forefront of my music and my presence online. But it has become a bit clear that a lot of those people that are consuming those images just want that and they don’t want a whole lot more which is unfortunate.

Well it’s unfortunate from them because at the end of the day it’s your page. So the content that you share is up to you. They’ll miss out on some fantastic music and there’s always the delete button!!!

Oh that’s true. I should use that way more!

And the unfriend button!! I’ve started to use both lately.  My personal page is private, but my Recurrent Verse and my vinyl page are public.

I kind of wish I did that from the beginning because I don’t actually have a private presence on social media. But then I’m like do I need one? I’ll just interact with people outside of that sphere and that should be enough for me.

The video for ‘Infliction’. Was that your idea? It’s such a good clip.

Yeah leading up to it, the couple of days before hand, there were so many things that I still needed to get in line. I was so stressed. I thought I’m not doing this again; I’m going back to simple music videos! Why have I done this??? But I’m very glad that I did commit to going to that extent. I wanted to keep in mind a budget, cos I don’t have any money! The videographer of course was the most expensive part, but we didn’t have to pay for a set. We were really fortunate that a friend of a friend had a house that was going to be demolished. I’m so, so lucky. I’m the luckiest person in the world. When he showed me the place I was like ‘Yes this is it, it’s the 70’s in here’. It was just this perfect vintage house and they hadn’t destroyed it to much before they moved out. That was a really big money saver. It worked out.

I’ve played it a few times now and every time I get so caught up in the music and start dancing and then think damn I’m supposed to be watching the video!

Haha I’ll allow it!

You’ve also gotten a few WAM awards is that right?

No just nominations. I wish I could include those eisteddfods from when I was a 12!

I let you include those!!

Yes my first experiences with the Wammies was a couple of years ago which was really cool. And I of course dressed really over the top and apparently WA artists love flanno, so I was slightly overdressed!!!! I loved it, it was a great night and I know Psychedelic Prawn Crumpets took out one of the awards we were nominated for. I almost want to say they got the other one as well. Not mad at all about that, such a good band. That was in the early days of that band, which is now a synth pop band, I Call Val.

You also have released another single ‘Not The Beginning’

Yes Not The Beginning. I really wanted the first that I released with this project to be like ‘this is what you can expect’. The irony of Not The Beginning was, I was talking about mental health in a sense because I’ve been on a journey so far and I know I’ve got further to go. But I also thought it was a little tongue in cheek as the debut to call it Not The Beginning. I couldn’t help myself. This song fits really neatly into pop punk. That was the sound that I wanted to put out there for that. That one was a lot of fun. I think most of the stuff we’ve got coming up is not the same, but it has that same energy. That’s the energy I want to put out. That’s the shit that had me up and moving when I was younger. It’s the same impact I want to have on the 14 year old’s.

Well you’ve had it on the 51 year old too!!!

I’m not limiting it. I would never. Even my mum says that. Every time I send her something she always says, ‘That’s a hit, I couldn’t stop moving to it!’

I get that. Your voice actually gives me goosebumps and I move so to me that’s a winner

That makes me feel really good because I’ve had like imposter syndrome with my vocals in this genre. I was like no own it, that’s your voice. Of all the things that’s your voice.

Have you had a lot of traction on the first single?

I was very proud of how ‘Not The Beginning’ went in terms of streams. That’s my most successful release to date. I think last week or the week before it crossed 90.000 streams on Spotify.

Is it just you with a backing band or are you actually a band?

I guess technically. I’m calling them my family for now. Until they have to bugger off I’m going to hold onto them. Matty on the drums, he’s just killer. He’s working all day everyday just drumming. He has a bunch of projects on the go. He’s just picked up a sponsorship which happened right before we started filming. I had sourced all these instruments that we could destroy, and he was like ‘okay but I can’t. He’s amazing. Lou on bass, again she’s just this ball of light. Whenever she is there you feel calmer and she just wants the best for you and the world. It’s just lovely being with her. Jay who is playing guitar in the video has been co-writing and he was helping me produce it. He did the mastering and recorded all the instruments because he is a genius. He’s also been doing a lot of the marketing as well. He’s a real legend. So yeah I will be holding onto them pretty tight.  

Are we going to see an EP, or will you just release singles?

So pre covid we did have a plan to release a few singles this year and then an EP next year.  I really wanted to tour; I just love performing. I feel really at home being able to trash about and make a lot of noise. The goal is to release a few singles and an EP still, so we’ll see how we go with that. It’s been interesting chatting with musicians with the whole streaming side of things. I know that so many people are leaning towards drip feeding their audience content. It doesn’t feel unnatural to just be releasing singles. It feels like so much work though doing releases that way. Making videos for every single you release. That’s why I was settle down on your next music video! Even the latest video I was going to go three ways with it. One including playing in public, but restrictions made it too hard to do. Then the idea for the video came to me quite last minute and I got the house to use. Who knows I might wake up in the middle of the night and there will be a very simple, very cheap, very good music video idea.

So who are your influences?

In this genre when I was a teenager and I was introduced to pop punk it was bands like Greenday, Paramore, Panic at the Disco, Fallout Boy that sort of thing. You know how those songs still bring that nostalgia. But around that time I also liked Avril Lavigne I felt really guilty about it!

I loved Avril Lavigne!

I had to unguilt myself, I don’t know what it was.

She’s like the Nickelback of pop punk!!

That’s exactly it. That’s what I always say. And the fact that she’s with Chad just drives that home

Haha I didn’t even think of that! That basically hits the nail on the head.

I’ve just come to appreciate her stuff so much more as I’ve gotten older. I loved pop icons too. I got into music because of Madonna. Then Lady Gaga and I remember being who is this woman and what are all these visuals. She just kept stepping it up and she hasn’t really stopped. I just admire that so much.

At the moment the sounds that I am loving, I think Yours Truly and Stand Atlantic.

I’m actually waiting for my Self Care vinyl to turn up today.

Have you listened to Self Care?

Yes. I’ve played Undersize so many times.

I love their music so much and they are really sticking to what I consider to be pop punk, like really at the heart. Stand Atlantic have been doing a lot more electronic elements, which again I really fucking love. Tonight Alive have always been huge for me.  I Call Val got to open for them when they came here a couple of years ago. I thought it was a joke message, that someone was pulling my leg. We had done one show so why would we open for Tonight Alive? And it happened! It was this weird little show and I lost my shit!

I’m not going to be one of those people that says they listen to everything because when I really don’t. I love when people do suggest music and there is not much I will reject. I think my playlist at the moment has nearly 4000 songs. Everything has a real pop edge to it. I really love that there is music that can be so widely consumed. I’ve always been drawn to that. I like that children especially are drawn to it. I love music that can be suitable for anybody of any age. I love it!

I’m still drawing inspiration from anybody that I can. Any little sound, any little production quirk, any little vocal inflection, different things that are done with releases or whatever it might be. It’s always so inspiring and I am blown away constantly by peoples creativity. I want to be able to contribute in my own way, to be able to push my own boundaries.

A band once told me that they wanted to put their own drop of water in the pool. I really liked that analogy.

That’s’ nice. It’s not competitive it’s collective.

What has Covid been like for you?

I found the three months that we were affected. I say three months because that’s how long we couldn’t gig for. That really spun me out and I think we had this real collective weight. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I remember thinking at the time this might be a good break for you. And I got hounded by people saying it’s such a good time for you to write music and you can create. I didn’t not create but I didn’t go above and beyond. I actually really welcomed a break.

It’s been really great seeing a lot more support for artists during this time. I’m fearful of that kind of dissipating as we return to normality. Which in WA we pretty much have. I hope that we can see a value in this work from non-artists and non-creators. We’ve done a great job supporting each other.

I think it will. It’s made everyone take stock. Like the carpet can be pulled out from under us at any time. We need to look at the whole industry I guess, as a whole, and work out what is the best way forward.

Yeah. Collectively hopefully.

I’m pretty confident that will happen. There seems to be a much greater sense of community in the scene

I’m glad to hear that. Your confidence rubs off on me ever so slightly because I’m terribly cynical.

Anything else that you want tell people?

I am nowhere near done. I know that bands come and go because I’ve had my fair share of that. This feels very right to me and I’m really excited to be able to keep pushing my own personal boundaries with this music. I’m excited for what’s to come. With this release I think I am the most proud. I have achieved maybe more than what I expected with it as a whole. I’m going to take that win into the next one and put all that energy back into the next song. I really want to keep exploring tough topics in my music. All my songs are just me going Hey I think I’m confused about this one thing. Anytime its just going to be me going ‘This is probably kind of fucked up so let’s talk about it’

Art has always needed to exist for the community. It can be something that comforts the community, but I also think it will benefit them. Sometimes the things that benefit us make us uncomfortable or make us have hard conversations. I really, really want to be able to do that. That’s not for everybody that consumes it, but I want there to be people that ask, ‘What does she mean by this’ and “What can I take away from this’ ‘How can I apply this to my life or my art’. That would be cool.

Infliction is out later this week. Go give Alex Andra’s socials a like so that you don’t miss out.

https://www.facebook.com/shesalexandramusic

https://www.instagram.com/shes.alex.andra/

https://twitter.com/ShesAlexAndra?s=20

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