From YouTube sensation to one of Jay-Z's protégés, we catch up with one of RocNation's newest artists
A humble and down-to-earth woman from Hampshire, Alexa’s latest single ‘Broke the Sky’ is due for release this week. We caught up with her to see just want the singer has been up to…
So Alexa, tell us what you’ve been doing lately!
Well, I’ve been working hard! I’ve got a new song coming out very soon and I’ve just been non-stop making music and writing.
I know, and we love it! Your fans have been able to get a taste of it from your music video – has the response been good so far?
Yes really good, especially considering it’s a little different to stuff I’ve realeased in the past. That has been deliberate because as an artist I’ve developed so much, and this is much more me. Thankfully my fans have been so supportive of it, they’ve been with me since I started putting videos online, so it’s nice that they’ve come with me and that they get me and my decision to change.
You gained a huge following from YouTube, do you think social media has been a huge part of your success then?
One hundred per cent, I think social media is such a fantastic thing! Everything I’ve been doing now and my record deal with Jay Z’s label RocNaction has stemmed from my YouTube channel. Labels saw me through my videos and got in touch. Obviously it wasn’t as easy as just putting a video up and then overnight fame. It took time, I had to think about what people wanted to see.
How about now? Do you use social media in your day to day life?
I love using Twitter and Snapchat to connect with fans, and friends. That’s one of my favourite things about it. I’m an artist and it’s good to be able to share my music online, but more than anything it’s nice to just be able to have that direct communication with my supporters. Plus as a fan of other artists, I love to be able to tweet them too!
Before YouTube you were spotted at a talent show, right?
Yeah, when I was 14 I entered a talent contest at a family holiday resort and someone came up to me afterwards and asked if I was interested in having management. I was like “ooh okay”, which was very ignorant and naïve of me, but luckily my parents were way more clued up than I was so they went in for a meeting with this guy. He managed me for three years and in that time I had SO much experience, going to places like Germany to record demos. But then my management ran it’s course, so I started a MySpace page and got asked to tour with the Trans Siberian Orchestra. I did that for three months of the year for three years. It was fun, but it wasn’t creatively satisfying, so that’s when I started my YouTube channel.
Did you stay at school whilst you were off touring and recording demos?
Up until I was 16 I was still at school so I would only go and record during the school holidays. But when I finished my GCSEs, I was ready to leave – it just wasn’t for me. When I was touring with the Trans Siberian Orchestra I was 18 so luckily that didn’t conflict with my education.
Was your heart always set on that pop and soul sound? Because the Trans Siberian Orchestra is so different to how you sound now!
Yeah it was so different because it was a mix between classical and rock, and I was one of three backing vocalists. Don’t get me wrong, it was genuinely an incredible experience, but I love pop, soul and nineties R&B. What I’m trying to do now is encompass different aspects of those sounds.
Who would you say your musical influences are then?
When I was growing up it was women like Celine Dione, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Christina Aguilera. However as I entered my teens I discovered incredible soul artists like India.Arie, Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway. In terms of modern artists I love my female vocalists like Beyoncé and Rihanna.
That’s an eclectic mix! Did your family influence your music growing up?
My parents and three older brothers all had different tastes in music. The music playing around the house would always be different. One of my brothers would be listening to garage in his room, and then downstairs my dad would be blasting out reggae and then in the car my mum would put on Tina Turner. I feel so lucky to have been able to grow up exposed to lots of different types of music.
So how would you describe your sound to someone that hasn’t heard you before?
I’d say, pop with a soul twist.
It took you quite a while to release original music – why was that?
I think it took me a long time from starting my YouTube channel to getting a record deal to figure out my sound and what music I wanted to create. To be honest, in the last year I’ve still been developing and growing, and finding out my sound. Obviously by doing covers I’ve been able to try out loads of different things, and it was important for me to suss out not only what I wanted to sing, but what others liked to hear from me. I didn’t want to rush putting something original out until I’d really figured out what I wanted that to be.
So does that mean you’re also glad you waited to get a record deal later on rather than jumping into one you might regret?
Yeah definitely! I don’t feel like I’ve missed out because since the age of 14 I’ve been able to experience touring and traveling and writing before I even had a deal. So even if it took me a while to get the music right, I was still getting experience in other aspects of my career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means an expert now, I’m still learning about the music industry everyday!
You mentioned earlier that you’re the youngest sibling. What was it like growing up with three older brothers?
It definitely made me mature quickly being the youngest. But it’s great having older brothers – they’re all so different. One of my brothers is creative, the other is a businessman, and the other one is super protective so I’ve learned so much from all three.
What’s the toughest thing you’ve faced in your career so far?
The toughest thing I had to overcome was definitely having other people around that had opinions on my singing, because I was so used to doing my own thing. But I knew I had to let people in. I’m a singer, I’m not a marketing guru, or a businesswoman – I needed people’s advice and help.
So you signed a five album deal with RocNation – have you finished your debut album yet?
Well, I’m at the point now where I’m nearly there, but I still feel like there are a couple of things missing. Especially in the last year or so because my sound has changed so much. When I first got signed I felt like a rabbit in the headlights and I just wanted to please everyone. There was a lot of people involved and suddenly going from YouTube to having a huge team around me was a daunting experience. I was so excited to get a record deal but the first year I was singing music that I love, rather than music that was right for me to sing. And that’s the thing, all musicians go through that stage, trying to hone their artistry. But I definitely feel like my latest single is so much more ME as an artist. I still love the stuff I did before though because even though it’s different, a lot of people assume artists only have to like and record one genre – but we don’t.
What advice would you give to a young person looking to get into the music industry?
Never give up and always stay true to yourself. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by everything, especially when other people get involved in a project. But just go with it and really hone your voice and know yourself, and your brand and stick to your guns.
So can we expect anything else exciting from you in the near future?
Well I’ve got so much more music just waiting for people to hear. I’m also keen on going back to basics and putting up more videos on my YouTube channel of original songs and covers. So watch this space!
Alexa Goddard’s single ‘We Broke The Sky’ is available to download on 28th August.