Rising indie-pop artist Alexander 23 just released a new single “Sad,” along with a lyric video to accompany the lo-fi track.
Singer-songwriter Alexander 23 burst onto the scene earlier this year with his breakout debut single “Dirty AF1s.” Since then, the LA-based artist joined rising star Alec Benjamin on tour and has continued to deliver a steady stream captivating tracks. Today, Alexander 23 returns with a new soothing single “Sad,” marking the fourth release from the Chicago born-and-raised artist.
“Sad” is a simple yet addicting song, oozing with instantly memorable melodies over minimalistic four-chord pop production. The track’s lo-fi feel and retro accents complement Alexander 23’s vocal delivery, which invigorates the track with head-nodding singalong melodies throughout.
River Beats had the opportunity to catch up with Alexander 23 via phone ahead of the single release to get more info on “Sad” and his rapid rise to date:
River Beats: Your music and overall style have a delightfully playful and upbeat feel despite underlying themes that are very raw and emotional. How do you think your songwriting style helps balance out your sound?
A23: “I’d say that I take the songwriting most seriously out of everything, but I definitely try to find ways to keep everything else more lighthearted and less self-serious because I do think the lyrics talk about some pretty serious stuff. So, it’s kind of intentional — I want the songs to be meaningful and about something, but I don’t want to be the guy that takes himself too seriously because that’s not who I am.”
Your newest single “Sad” falls right in line as far as the theme and some of your most addicting melodies yet. How did the song come about?
A23: “Some songs just pour right out super easily. For “Sad”, I tried a few verses before I nailed down the final version. On my hard drive, there are a few different files called “Sad” with some different ideas I wrote. I got together with a buddy of mine in New York who I’ve known for a long time — his name is Scott Harris. He’s actually the first person I ever wrote a song with. We sat down in his apartment in Brooklyn and talked through it for a long time before we even picked up any instruments. That helped clarify what I needed the song to be about, so when we finally picked up the guitar and keyboard it came out much more easily.”
There are fans who recorded you performing “Sad” live and learned the words before the track was even released. How does it feel to have that kind of fan support so early on?
A23: “It’s so cool — it’s something that you dream about. I’m obviously still in a super primitive stages of having a fanbase or any real tangible long-standing success, but even what I have now just feels so incredibly good.
It’s funny, because you write these songs, and a lot of times it takes so long before they’re released and other people hear them. The songs mean so much to me when I write them, but by the time they come out they’re more like a commodity to me. To see people listening with my original intention in mind and that the songs mean as much to them as they did to me when I first wrote them is extremely reenergizing. I’m so grateful for what’s happened so far.”
You’ve mentioned that all of your releases will have lyric videos and music videos, and the video for your last single “Mars” was art-directed by your longtime friend Jake Prizant. How does it feel to build on your music through these different mediums and get your friends involved?
A23: “I love doing lyric videos and music videos. For me, creatively and artistically, it’s so important to give songs context, whether it reinforces my initial vision for them or gives them a new life in a way. I’ve known Jake since I was 10 or so and he’s been a dear friend since, so to get to rise up creatively with your friends is super cool — and I’ve had that opportunity on a few occasions.”
Both musically and non-musically, who/what are your biggest creative inspirations?
A23: “I like the non-musically part. You can get inspiration from so many things as a musician that aren’t necessarily music related. I lived in New York before I moved to LA, and last night I got dinner with my “roommate” who was in town. I say “roommate” super loosely because he was really just an amazing friend who let me sleep on his couch for a year. I would get back from the studio at two in the morning, thinking that I was working really hard. He founded a startup and would get back at three in the morning after working so hard all day, and then I would hear him up on a conference call the next day at 7:30 am.
Musically I’m inspired by my friends too. I think so many of my friends are extremely talented, and those are the people that push me to be better on a daily basis.”
It’s been just over a year since you moved from New York to LA. Looking back, what are some of the biggest lessons learned for you over the past year?
A23: “I have definitely learned how to be by myself more, which I think has translated positively into my songwriting — just being more comfortable with who I am. In New York, you always have people around you whether you like it or not. Even if you’re alone in your apartment, it doesn’t feel like you’re totally alone. LA can definitely be more isolating. For me, that’s actually been a positive thing. LA has given me the space to process who I’ve been over the past few years, who I am, and who I want to become.”
This spring you joined Alec Benjamin for a mostly sold out North American tour just weeks after releasing your first single, “Dirty AF1s”. How did the hype and reception of your live show change over the course of the tour?
A23: “I started to realize what parts of the set would get people more fired up or what parts of the set didn’t work as well as I thought they would. It was really cool to be able to shift things around each night or lean into a moment a bit more because I knew that it was going to be important to the people in the audience.
I went on that tour with only one song out at the beginning, and I was a little nervous because I was playing a half hour of music that no one had ever heard. The fans were super open and receptive to liking music that they hadn’t heard which was super comforting for me. It would have been tough otherwise.”
You’re set to play Lollapalooza’s BMI stage on Thursday, August 1st. As a kid from Chicago, what does playing the hometown heavyweight festival mean to you?
A23: “I feel like as you get sucked into this world, it’s often super easy to breeze by milestones without appreciating how much they would have meant to you at the time when they were just a goal.
I’m trying to keep that perspective and am so grateful to be able to play Lolla. It’s obviously been a dream of mine forever since growing up and going to Lollapalooza to see my musical heroes play — so I couldn’t be more excited.”
With an awesome first half of the year behind you, what do you have in store for the second half of 2019?
A23: “A lot more singles for sure. There are a lot of songs that I’ve written that I love that I’m excited for people to hear. Some people have heard them live, but to hear the studio recordings is really exciting. I’m also hoping to work towards a more complete project and a more complete thought — an EP or something of that nature. There’s also some touring stuff that I’m excited to announce.”
Check out the new single “Sad” below and be sure to catch Alexander 23 on Lollapalooza’s BMI stage on Thursday, August 1st!
Featured photo courtesy of artist by Maria Isabel.