Remember when you used to care about the music you were listening to? Identifying with an artist so strongly that you had to find out everything about that you possibly could? You knew their favorite breakfast cereals, and their dog’s name. Remember when a musician actually grabbed your attention with personal and honest lyrics, passionate songwriting, and a true love for their craft? Having that intense wonder that didn’t fade with the onslaught of a new season of ‘American Idol’? Sure, those artists are out there and always have been, but they’re few a far between. In a sea of plastic artists who bend to what will make them the most money, it’s rare to find ones that dare to break the mold and create art from the soul.
Meet Alexx Calise; singer, songwriter, and woman of many other talents. An honest artist, writing and playing honest music with an attitude, and bearing her soul without remorse.
Having dabbled in acting and modeling, this siren is also hard at work self-promoting her sassy rock songs with an electronic edge, which have been featured in a ‘One Tree Hill’ promo, as well as various MTV and VH1 programs. That’s not to mention her side project, ‘Sound of Cancer’, which she refers to as more “dark, twisted, grungy and raw.”
I found out that Alexx and I share an intense love for all things Silverchair. After going on about them for an extended period of time, (which I will spare the reader from,) on a level that can only be described as extremely nerdy, we moved on to her career…
FM: What influenced you to start playing music?
Alexx: I owe a lot of that to my father. He was a musician and guitar player, and he would play for my brother and I. I would be in complete and utter awe and thought it was the coolest thing in the whole world. And, like we were talking about earlier, I was completely obsessed with Silverchair. One of the first songs I ever learned on guitar was “Suicidal Dream”. I played it at my seventh grade talent show, and scared the shit out of my teachers. [We both laugh.] It was a great moment. I think that’s when I really learned that, that’s what I needed to be doing. I was heavily influenced by Silverchair.
FM: I had a similar experience when my band played Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” at a talent show. During the chorus our singer was just going crazy and screaming at the top of his lungs. We made little kids cry, and people got up and left. It was the greatest moment of our lives.
Alexx: [Laughs.] That’s so awesome. You know, there’s something about that. Just, scaring people. At least you get them to react.
FM: I like to shake things up.
FM: So, I was reading your blog “Is Music Dead?” where you describe the musical experience in the current scene as becoming background noise as opposed to being more in the forefront. What makes you say that, and what are you doing with your music to try to change that and keep from falling into that category?
Alexx: Basically what I was trying to say is that, we’re an A.D.D. generation these days and there’s constant over-stimulation all the time. And even something as powerful as music can be pushed to the background because there’s so much going on. There’s so much music media, and so many different artists that it’s hard to sit down and give something the attention that it deserves these days.
FM: Yeah, I agree. You pretty much have to get your music placed into a commercial or something along those lines just to get noticed. On one hand, you have these great outlets for indie bands to get their music out there like, iTunes and CD Baby, etc., but at the same time, everyone else is doing the same thing and flooding the scene, and it’s hard for the diamonds to stick out of the rough.
Alexx: Yeah, it really is. As many social networking sites and music media as there are, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. There’s just so many artists to sift through. So, these days you pretty much have to put up a video on Youtube that showcases you doing something really, really stupid. That seems to get peoples attention, unfortunately. There’s a lot of legitimate artists out there who aren’t being heard because they’re not willing to parade around like fools. I have plenty of ideas. Plenty of things I could do… I wouldn’t say I’m a funny person, per-se, but I have kind of a dry sense of humor, and I could do that. But, I’m an artist and I want to be recognized for my art and not what I do on the weekends.
FM: You pretty much have to put up a ten-second nut-shot video to get attention.
Alexx: Yeah, pretty much. I’ve seen some stupid shit on the internet before. It’s ridiculous. It’s like what you’re saying, you either have to put yourself out on the line an do something retarded, or you get your music in a commercial or something like that. There’s plenty of avenues where you can do that. If you sign up with some licensing agencies or have a label that works the publishing end of your music, that’s all well and good. But like I said, it’s just tough! It’s easier than ever to be noticed, but harder than ever to be noticed. It’s kind of a weird dichotomy.
FM: I think there will always be that core group of true music fans who really appreciate true artists and will delve into the underground to look for that stuff. And that’s why I really liked your blog about making sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Doing it because you love to play music, and not to make money. Because that’s something I’ve always struggled with, too. I’ve always wanted music to support me. But it seems that the harder you try, the harder it is. You need to just let it flow naturally. And that’s hard for a lot of people to do.
Alexx: That’s very, very true. And, the further along you get, the more people expect you to compromise. But as long as you stay true to yourself and you do things because you truly want to do them, then that’s all that matters. If you do end up making money, or you end up acquiring things, then that’s just candy. You just have to do it for the love.
FM: In another blog you mention, when recording an album to make sure it’s your record and not to let the producer make it for you. What prompted you to write that blog? Did you have a bad experience with a producer?
Alexx: In some of my past projects, yes. I’ve had other bands, and even on my first record… Not to knock my producer, I’m not trying knock anyone because I’m very happy with the people that I’ve had in my career, with the exception of a few people. But, I don’t think that one of the producers I worked with on my first album necessarily “got me”. And upon first glance, or first listen people automatically want to pigeon-hole me into the pop market for whatever reason. They want to stick me with the Kelly Clarkston, Miley Cyrus niche, and that’s not me. I love Silverchair and grunge and stuff like that. I also have my other project with Dennis Morehouse, [Sound of Cancer,] who’s worked with Gilby Clarke from Guns ‘n’ Roses, and Marc Ford from the Black Crowes. It’s really really, really, raw and that ‘s what I get my rocks off and existential dark spots out with. The Alexx Calise project I enjoy as well, because it has enough darkness – lyrically speaking, but I think if I had made a straight-forward rock record, it would have been really boring.
FM: Do you enjoy having those two different outlets? If you could pick one and go with it, would you? Or would you like to keep doing both?
Alexx: I’d like to keep doing both. Had I been asked that question a year ago when Sound of Cancer was just in in its inception phases, that might have been a different story. But what Sound of Cancer allows me to do is let out my really dark, fucked-up side. I have that in my solo project too, but that’s very adrenaline-inducing. It’s like cocaine music that makes you want to get up and dance, whereas the other one is more dark and twisted. Like a Portishead or Pink Floyd, you kind of have to be in the mood for it.
FM: You’re currently shooting a video for your song ‘Break Me’. What’s the premise of the video?
Alexx: It’s kind of about a toxic relationship, but not. It states that you’re not going to break me as a human being. If you’d like to say it’s about a relationship… If you want to interpret it like that you can, but you can also apply it to life in general.
FM: What’s the song like?
Alexx: It’s kind of an Alanis Morissette meets Prodigy song, which is what the whole new album is going to sound like.
FM: Nice! I like it. When I was first listening to it I could hear some of the edgier Alanis, some Tracy Bonham, and earlier Garbage.
Alexx: That’s awesome! Growing up, I was totally in love with Tracy Bonham, and Garbage. Alanis… I really liked the Jagged Little Pill album, and then I’m not familiar with anything she did after that.
FM: Same here. Musically speaking, how do think your new album differs from your last album Morning Pill?
Alexx: It has more of and electronic feel than the last one does. And that’s because I’m working with Luigi Gonzales. I worked with him on one song for the last record, but he’s primarily a dance/electronica producer so he works a lot with Madonna, The Killers, The Veronicas, and Shakira doing a lot of remixes. So, I’m getting a lot of that sound based on Luigi, but obviously the songwriting style is still there because it’s still me writing the songs.
Look for Alexx’s new album In Avanti as well as the video for “Break Me” and the new album from her side project Sound of Cancer all to be released around the end of February/beginning of March. You can also check her out at alexxcalise.com as well as Myspace and Facebook.