Brand new interview with Alexz from Cardinal Playlists.
Canada’s Alexz Johnson has tasted fame since she was a child when she starred on Disney’s So Weird. The road to fortune, though, is paved with speed bumps enough for all of us. Even though Alexz has followed every success with another success- there have been some small road blocks that have kept her from truly pursuing her true passion… music.
That’s where you and I come in.
Alexz has launched a campaign to fund an American tour during 2012 to promote her new release the Skipping Stone EP. She has been asking for donations in exchange for exclusive content, vinyl, and other great perks. You can find information about the tour, you can donate, and you can buy her album all on her HERE
The Skipping Stone EP itself is a blend of pop rock that will keep you on your toes. Each song is catchier and more exciting than the last, and Alexz’s vocal delivery is incredible as it bounces from powerful hooks to intimate confessions. The record is actually really easy to picture in a live setting and sounds like it would be an awesome experience.
My favorite song is “Give Me Fire” (below) because it’s so fiery in itself; fast paced, up beat, and edgy. Each song is worth a listen though and you’ll probably find yourself, like me, humming the melodies of your favorites for days on end.
I’ve recently had a chance to interview Alexz about old music, tour, childhood, and super heroes. Read our full conversation below:
CP) What was your childhood like growing up on Disney’s So Weird? Was it stressful or exciting, and do you ever wish that you could go back to relive those days?
AJ: Working full time as a kid is always a unique experience.. So Weird was a lot of responsibility so young, and I’m thankful that I learnt those work ethic skills. I’ve been able to put them to good use on the music front!
CP) From the video on your kick starter page I learned that you sang your first national anthem at a hockey game when you were only eleven years young, and that you were really nervous. How did you land such a big honor at such an early age, and how are your nerves now compared to back then? Are you any better at walking on the ice nowadays? Do you still follow hockey?
AJ: The local paper in Vancouver was holding a contest to select a singer to perform the anthem at a Grizzlies basketball game. I didn’t end up winning, but I was asked the same day if I would perform for the next Canucks game. I was so nervous. I can skate, but I can’t stop myself and I’m a Canucks fan all the way!
CP) At what point in your life did you realize that music was a passion of yours? What artists inspired you, even as a kid, to want to sing and play- and especially to do it in front of people?
AJ: Singing was always a passion for me since I was little, but it was when I started writing music around 14 that I realized how much I loved it, and in the end, would suffer for it.. lol. As a kid, I was inspired by a few different sounds and styles. My Dad would play the classic 50′s records like The Temptations, Roy Orbison and Elvis. My older brothers would play an assortment of Bruce Springsteen, The Police, Greenday and Offspring. It was a real mix. I was obsessed with the Les Miserables soundtrack..
CP) How have those early influences effected your writing style? And what artists are out now that you’re into?
AJ: The music I grew up listening to definitely had a hand at steering the way I write. I love classic melodies. Artist that inspire me are Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Rickie Lee Jones to name a few. Right now, I’m listening to The Civil Wars, Gotye, Ray Lamontagne, Lori McKenna..
CP) You’re streaming your Skipping Stone EP on your website now. What was the recording process for that like? Were there any specific pieces of equipment that you were excited about getting to record with? For example, in your kick starter video I saw that during your run with Sony you recorded with an orchestra- that had to feel pretty epic.
AJ: The string session for the “Weight” album while with Epic was incredible..
The Skipping Stone EP I did independently. I wrote and recorded it between Toronto and Nashville and Give Me Fire was written and recorded in LA. It really sort of created itself in a way. I was lucky enough to have made some connections on the mixing and mastering end to recruit help, and everyone came through. It was a really special experience. This EP is an expression of that for me.
CP) What are some of the lyrical themes on the record? What inspires you to write the way that you do? And what have you done to promote the album aside from gear up for this tour?
AJ: The lyrical themes are all around love, really. The songs were written during a very vulnerable time, a very in love time and all the fears and feelings that come with it. How these songs lyrically and structurally come to life often feels like it’s not in my control. I try to be as honest as I’d want someone to be with me. I listen to hear if anything feels like magic over the melody. On the promotion end, I’m trying to reach out to as many blogs as I know of. I don’t have a pr team in place yet, but hopefully with help from the Kickstarter campaign and being able to tour that can become a possibility!
CP) How is this EP different from your previous releases, what ways have you progressed and where do you hope to go stylistically with future recordings?
AJ:I feel this EP is different because it’s not as production based as my previous albums. I wanted something raw, minimal and more stripped down. As a writer, I often channel my experience through my songs, so there will be growing and changing – yet I still hope to keep the familiarity that brings people back to listen!
CP) If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead (if they were dead they wouldn’t sing like a zombie grumbles, they would come back with their vocal cords intact), who would it be? Why? What would the song be about?
Sting, Bono, Elvis, Roy, Johnny Cash..
I can’t even fathom what we’d sing.. I’d sing whatever they wanted me to sing.
CP) Since you’re turning your focus to music in a serious way, what does the future of your acting career look like?
AJ: Acting is always a possibility and a joy for me. I can’t tell the future, but I’m definitely open for great roles should they fall on my lap.
CP) Your campaign with Kickstarter has been one heck of a success. What are you doing to give back to those who’ve donated and where are you planning to tour? When will the official dates be announced and who are your supporting acts?
AJ: I’m giving back signed hardcopies, vinyl, video of me on stage, t-shirts, Skype calls, house concerts! I have all the details at www.kickstarter.com/projects/525963075/alexz-johnson-tour-2012
I’m aiming for a summer tour, so dates will be announced as the pieces fall into place! I don’t have any supporting acts locked it yet, but I will be updating details at www.alexzjohnson.com
CP) What was the last book you read? What one is your favorite?
AJ: Last book I read: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My favourite book: Fall On Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald and The Jungle Book
CP) What is your favorite memory from playing a concert or on the set of a show? And what is the most embarrassing one that you’re willing to share?
AJ: On of my favourite shows was actually on set of Instant Star, I sang Where Does it Hurt on a rooftop. That was a fun night. Embarrassing… luckily nothing embarrassing yet, but check back with me after this tour!!
CP) What is your favorite song to play live? What one do you think gets the best reception? And what is your favorite song to sing in the shower?
AJ: Live: Look At Those Eyes, Voodoo, Skipping Stone, Thief
Best reception: (From what I can tell) Skin, Chicago, LA Made Me
Shower song: Right now? Everywhere I go by Lissie
CP) How do you kick back when you aren’t busy with the entertainment industry?
AJ: I like going to music shows, trying different foods (and seeing how little I can spend!), movies, being active. All the usual stuff.
CP) If you were ever in the clutches of an evil mastermind, what super hero would you want to rescue you and where would you go to hang out afterward?
AJ: Hmmm… Superman.
We’d hang out at the top of the Eiffel Tower, have oysters and dance!