What does faith mean to you? Do you have a faith? (i.e. a religion, or something you believe in like karma)
My father is a somewhat lapsed Catholic and my mother is a daily practising atheist, so I’ve received a lot of mixed messages about faith in my family. I read the bible in its entirety recently, and we can’t deny how significant it’s been as a piece of literature. I love the way artists for thousands of years have adapted those stories. I took a shot at that with my song, “Genesis,” where I talk a little about violence in the old testament, and more specifically the way faith and violence seem to be so intertwined. We see it in the news every day- and every day I pray that the world will heal.
I guess it can’t be denied that faith makes its way into my songs. I guess faith is what keeps you going when all rationality tells you that you can’t go any longer. I like to keep my personal religious beliefs private, but I will say that my religion is what keeps me tied to my grandmother, who was a lovely, strange old woman and a Roman Catholic. In my song, “Butterfly,” there’s a part in each verse where I am essentially praying that she is okay. I guess when she died I knew that she would have wanted me to pray for her. I have a bunch of rosaries that she left me, that I wear whenever I’m feeling down.
What does spirituality mean to you? How do you bring it into practice?
Most of my spirituality revolves around waiting for the song. Waiting for the feeling in my body that tells me to start writing.I guess for me, spirituality is a sense of connectivity- with my craft, with other people. Standing in a room and sensing that I am a part of a greater whole.
Two years ago from now where did you think you would be? How does that differ from where you are now?
In July 2014 I was working at Young People’s Theatre teaching drama at their summer camp. I had just finished a year of theatre school. I was having anxiety attacks almost daily and I feared I was losing my mind. I was playing in a band called “The Strangemakers,” doing a combination of progressive rock covers and jazzy original songs. I had escaped my alcoholic mother and was mooching off my boyfriend and his roommate. I had no idea where I was headed. I thought I would feel scared and frustrated forever.In a series of fortunate events my parents split, meaning that my mom was essentially out of me and the rest of my family’s life- which as any child of an alcoholic will tell you, was a good thing. My boyfriend (who also was my co-producer on “A Strange Sense of Humour,”) helped me get treatment for my anxiety and you cannot believe how nice it is to be able to breathe every day. And I’ve been playing in so many bands that I am so much more confident as an artist than I ever thought I could be. So really, I’m in a much better place than I expected.
Where do you think you will be in another year?
I’m trying to plan a really big tour- first to the US and then hopefully to Europe. So, hopefully, in France! (I love France.)
Yes, I am. I’m always working towards my personal goals and I’m always willing to help those who ask. I am a part of a wonderful community of artists and have a lovely set of family and friends.
What does your work mean to you? How have you grown/learned from it?
I’ve often said that if I could do anything else besides music, I would. It really is such a pain. It’s horrible, really, except that it’s also the most amazing thing and there’s no greater rush than realizing you’ve created something lovely or being on stage and hearing applause.
My work has always been my anchor, my way to figure out things that I’ve been thinking about. It’s also led me to meet wonderful people and constantly challenge myself.
What has been the best learning experience for you?
Doing this album I have learned so much about myself and my music. I think mostly it’s been important to gain the confidence that I can do this- that I can figure out how to do things that at first seem way too difficult.
What are your expectations for yourself? Do you meet them?
I have crazy expectations for myself- I think the key to my happiness is not to meet those expectations but to do my best and try to let go of my own pressure.
I think they think that I’m kind of weird and that I care about people and I love doing art. I think sometimes I come off a little strange.What do you think are others expectations for you?
No one “expects” anything from me except my father, who always me to keep the switch on. The switch is just behind my ear and turns my brain on.How do you see yourself? How does this compare to how you would like to be seen?
I see myself as an artist. I’m pretty strange.What do you consider your “flaws”? Why? How have they hindered you?
I think sometimes I forget to be nice to the people around me- I love to joke and mess with them- and remind them that I care as well.I think I alienate people sometimes- and I’m really not sure why. So it makes meeting people a little difficult. That’s what my single “A Light Goes Out” is about- weird social anxiety and not knowing what to say.
I don’t practice my guitar enough.
Do you think you’re someone others can/do look up to?
Yeah, I do. I still teach in Toronto theatre companies, and I always try to be a good role model for my students. I never patronize them or put on an act- I want them to be themselves and create true, awesome work. I also try to do that with my audience, and I hope that they see that.
What are you passionate about?
Besides the arts, I’m really passionate about politics. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on and I think it’s really important to be informed and have an opinion that you are willing to stand for. I also think it’s important to not belittle those who have opinions different to you.
What about yourself/your life are you most proud of?
I’m most proud that I have made my own path. My parents are/were accountants, so there wasn’t really much of a roadmap towards being an artist. But I’ve done it.
Do you think it is more important to try and make an impact in the world at large, or in your own world? Why?
I think it depends what you’re good at and what you find fulfilling. You’re going to be better at what really matters to you.
Do you believe that your work is making an impact on the world?
In some small way, yeah. For this album I’ve brought in a whole ton of musicians and created a lovely little community. I’ve written songs about mental illness that aren’t defeatist and will hopefully connect with people who also worry about being insane. And I’ve done something that I’m passionate about, which makes me feel alive and loving and helps me to put positive energy into my everyday interactions.
What are some of your dreams? Are they things you work towards, or things that you hope for?
I really want to travel, and I want to do it while playing music. I’m working on it.
What “words of wisdom” do you live by? Why?
“Courage is not the lack of fear.” To keep me moving forward.
Describe your relationship with yourself.
I’m happy to say that I think I’ve always had a pretty good relationship with myself, which sadly seems so rare in young women. I really enjoy being alone and, in fact, really need to be alone often in order to stay grounded. It’s other people I struggle with! #introvertstruggles
What do you think it means to love? Is this reflective of your experiences with your relationships (including with yourself) or based off an ideal you are working towards achieving?
My wonderful boyfriend says that love is when passion turns into compassion. And I think he’s right.
What do you think it means to be kind to yourself? How does this compare to how we are kind to others?
For me, it’s changing the little voice inside my head from a self-deprecating voice to a positive one. To tell myself that I can do it, that things will be okay. And then literally doing nice things for myself. Taking a bath. Buying myself candy and a new book to enjoy. Taking time to sit and cuddle my cat. Writing songs.
It’s so strange the things we say and do to ourselves that we would never do to other people.
What do you want from your life?
I want to make music that connects with people. I want to create beautiful things. I want to love beautiful people. And be loved.
Describe your relationship with you art.
It’s tempestuous, wonderful, and takes a lot of work. It’s shifted a little bit while making this album, because rather than spending most of my time songwriting, I spent days and days on a song after writing, trying to add parts and make it sound really cool as a recording.
What inspires you?
The world, especially concerts, the subway, and dive bars. I’m also inspired by other art- local musicians but also the great lyrical songwriters: Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits…
How has your art brought about an understanding of yourself/your world?
Writing songs the way I do lets me look at emotion and events from a whole bunch of different angles, which I really appreciate because it makes me feel like I’m really taking in the life that I have.
What, for you, is the hardest emotion? Why?
Probably excitement. I tend to be a little to apprehensive at times.
What for you is the significance of creating?
Jeez, I have no idea. We’ve done it forever and it’s beautiful, but I don’t know why we do it. I think it helps people empathize and feel and think. With art we create the stories that may be told over and over again. We help to create and crystallize our own culture. I really hope that this first album of mine will be a welcome contribution to that culture.
Alex will be releasing her full album on August 4th, but until then you can check out the single released on soundcloud which can be found here on our Local Listening playlist.