Sydney born, currently New York based singer songwriter Alex the Astronaut is the kind of person to make you really assess your life achievements.
Currently living in New York while studying a Maths and Physic degree on a soccer scholarship, she’s somehow found time to craft a string of impressive acoustic pop singles – first ‘Half of 21st Street’ and more recently ‘Holes in the Story’.
A catalyst for her creative and academic pursuits, Alex harbours an inherent need to question those things that the majority of us just accept, it’s this curiosity that inspired her latest effort ‘Holes in the Story’ which was recorded with and produced by Benjamin McCarthy (Gordi, Kate Miller-Heidke).
We recently caught up with Alex to get to know a little more about this quiet overachiever, check out our chat and the premiere of her brand new video for ‘Holes in the Story’ below. If you like what you’re hearing stay locked to Alex’s Facebook page for more info on upcoming shows and releases.
I’m 21, I’m from Sydney but I study at college in New York. I’m there on a soccer scholarship and my degree is in Maths and Physics, which I chose because I love solving puzzles.
I’m looking at the relationship between light and sound at the moment. Shrimp blow bubbles in the water and then scream at them at a particular frequency and then the bubbles can turn into light! It’s so amazing so I’m doing my thesis on why that happens, it’s called sonoluminescence. I also love Einstein, he’s a major inspiration to me.
My friends get bored of my physics stories so I usually have to save them for my professors. I like surfing when I’m home in Sydney, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the show that I’m currently addicted to.
Mainly Paul Kelly, he’s been my favourite artist since my parents played his album Nothing But a Dream when I was little. I aspire to be as honest and wise as Mr Kelly.
[include_post id=”480434″]I love David Bowie and how reassuring and inspiring his music is, it’s helped me be happier about being a nerdy soccer playing musician which has, in turn, helped me write better music. Bob Dylan is also the coolest and one of my all time favourite writers probably because of how bizarre some of his lyrics are.
Courtney Barnett’s music has taught me a lot about writing stories as well over the past few years. I’ve written songs since I was 12 (a lot of them have been terrible), but I think the music education I’ve had by listening to these artists is what has made me love writing stories in all my songs.
On The Move To New York
I’m in NYC eight months a year on a soccer and academic scholarship. We train everyday and play games twice a week. I have friends in my team from Sweden and they’ve taught me a bit of Swedish, which is another little plus because I’ll get to go and visit sometime in the next few years.
We’ve been able to travel all up the east coast to play soccer, as far as Niagara Falls. One time we had to play in the snow, which was a completely new experience.
On Living In New York
I love it, New York is amazing. It’s perfect for me because I can go into Manhattan and sing at places where my musical heroes have played before and explore all the cool spots there are around the city. There is SO MUCH MUSIC everywhere.
The subway performers are usually handpicked by organizations and are incredible. On hot days in Central Park there are usually drummers, trumpet players, saxophonists, spoon players, you name it, they’ll be there.
There’s always someone new to see and I’ve loved watching Australian people come over and perform and see all my American friends lose it over them.
NYC Recommendations For Aussie Musos
[include_post id=”480389″]The Bitter End on Bleeker Street is my favourite little singer-songwriter venue. Bob Dylan, Billie Joel, Tracey Chapman and Patti Smith have all played there so it’s always such an honour to get on stage there.
I was so nervous my first time there but the staff told me that all the coolest people on their board of big names got nervous as well so I got up did my best and they liked it, and even bought me a lemonade after (I wasn’t 21 yet). I’ve played there three times now.
Pianos NYC is really cool as well, it’s on the lower east side. Another place to check out is Postcrypt Coffeehouse at Columbia University, it has acoustic singer songwriter sessions and they tend to have a lot of Australians come and play.
Finding Time To Make Music
I have to be really organised, which doesn’t really suit me but I’ve had to get used to it haha. I give myself an hour a day to practise at some point and that’s just become a little ritual, and then I write whenever I think of something.
A normal day for me is class from 8am-4pm, soccer from 4pm-6pm, and then study if we aren’t travelling to a game. It is totally doable, I just need a few extra weetbix in the morning to keep me going.
Story Behind The New Singles
I wrote them both at the end of last year while I was finishing up at college for the year. I had been talking to Benjamin McCarthy about working together and we decided those two were our favourites. We recorded them in Melbourne in January. He’s such a legend, I’ve had the best time working with him.
‘Half of 21st Street’ was only half a song at that point (hence the name!), so I had to finish writing it on the plane home. It’s kind of an innocent love story that’s meant to show that the harshness of New York sometimes can make people forget the great things that happen all the time.
‘Holes in the Story’ I wrote when I was having trouble balancing everything, it’s about breaking stereotypes and being different instead of following preset guidelines. I got the idea when someone told me that Physics was a “boy’s major” when I was explaining black holes to them. I was unimpressed and so I thought the best way to make it better was to write a song about what I thought of being different and why I’m happy to try and challenge what people think.
Plans For The Rest Of 2016
Right now I’m in Sydney until August to record and play shows. I’m releasing my Debut EP in September which I’m super excited about! That means I’ll be recording a few more songs with Ben McCarthy while I’m back and playing shows in Sydney and hopefully Melbourne in June and July.
I’m playing at Oxford Art Factory June 10th supporting Th’fika and again on June 11th supporting Project Montreal – my first Sydney shows! Everyone come watch if you can!
Friday June 10th
Oxford Art Factory
Saturday June 11th
Oxford Art Factory
Supporting Project Montreal
Tickets and info: oxfordartfactory.com