Melbourne’s Alex Lahey pens absurdly good fuzz-pop gems.
"The first song I learned to play on guitar was 'Everywhere' by Michelle Branch," Alex Lahey recalls with a grin, "which still stands to be an amazing song." No stranger to an addictive guitar hook, since the release of her debut EP last year the Melbourne musician has been stirring up quite the storm. Having made music her day job, toured half a world away from her home with Tegan & Sara, and now readying to release her debut album, there's no shirking the excitement that surrounds Alex Lahey right now.
"I started writing music when I was maybe thirteen," she details. "I was formally learning the saxophone at school, and I had been for a while, but I wanted to teach myself how to play the guitar." Picking up the instrument through her favourite songs, writing her own music was something that came naturally. "I was just kind of making up my own shit and not really thinking twice about it," she laughs. "It was just something that I did. It just made sense."
Sense is something Alex Lahey has in droves. Her straight-talking lyricisms and knack for a snappy pop hook never fail to prove accessible to anyone who wants to hear it. "For people to come back and be like, 'How are you so relatable?' It's like, it seems so candid and it seems like we can all connect with this because we're all the fucking same," she laughs. "We're all dealing with the same shit, at the end of the day."
"I think it's really funny that people are like, 'No one talks about it'," she continues. "I don't think I'm breaking any new ground. I'm like, 'Yeah, but it's happening to all of us'." Citing "the world of LimeWire and season one of The OC" among her inspirations, Alex Lahey's writing is driven by simply "wanting to express myself and how I genuinely feel about the world and what's happening around me."
That's exactly what her debut album offers. "It's this collection of songs about relationships of all kinds that we encounter in our lives," Alex describes. "Whether that's with your family, or with someone that you're madly in love with, or with someone that you like who doesn't treat you right, or with a friend, or whatever. It's the multifaceted nature of those different relationships, and love in all those shapes and forms and levels as well."
It's a dynamic that echoes through the record's very title. "I really like the duality of that line 'I Love You Like A Brother'," Alex considers. "In the song itself, it's very literal." Written about her own brother, and the changing dynamics between siblings as they grow older and come to understand loving each another like a sibling, it's an innately felt notion that can resonate with anyone.
"I really like the line," Alex enthuses. "On the one hand, telling my brother 'I love you like a brother' is such a breakthrough for us, given that our relationship hasn't always been the most solid thing in the world. But if someone I was in love with turned to me and said, 'Hey, I love you like a brother', it'd be the worst thing in the world to hear," she explains. "There's something in the line that's almost like a sick joke," she adds, laughing. "For what it means to me, that's actually a really nice thing."
Drawing from her own observations, emotions, and experience, ‘I Love You Like A Brother' has been a long time in the making. "I've been playing shows for about eighteen months now," Alex states. "If I was just playing songs that I'd recorded in that time I'd have a set of five songs," she laughs. Instead, drawing together the strongest of her capabilities, the album is an instinctive portrayal of the world that anyone can relate with.
"There are songs on the album that had a lifetime far before we actually went into the studio and were sort of considered as recorded products. There are songs on the record that I've never played live, and that no one has ever heard before, which is something that's really new," Alex enthuses. "It's been really interesting watching those songs transform from format to format, and sort of settling, so to speak."
With the release finally imminent, excitement duels with expectation at an all time high. "It's hard not to get too reflective and start second guessing things," Alex admits. "Not in an 'I want to change this guitar part on the record' type thing, but being like 'Are we doing this in the right way? Are we rolling this out in the way that we should be? Is the record getting listened to in the right way?'"
"That's definitely something that's on my mind, but now that the wheels are in motion, it's kind of like 'Whatever happens, happens,'" Alex shrugs. "It's almost like the stages of grieving – eventually you end up at acceptance," she laughs. Relinquishing control as her debut album sees release, the result is now whatever you choose to take from it or make of it.
"Maybe there is a sense of grieving of losing that control," she confesses. "You are seeing that cliché of the person who's owned the dog for years and is letting them run off into the wild," she laughs. "It is nerve-wracking, but it's exciting," she concludes, before questioning "if I was making records and putting them out and I didn't feel a thing, then why would I do it?"
"The only thing I can really write about in this project, the only thing I want to express, is just me as an individual," she explains. As character-driven as her writing is, what makes Alex Lahey's music so special is the universal recognition that fuels it. "I'm really not that different to anyone else," Alex portrays, affirming, "it's not about me. It's about people connecting to the songs in their own way."
Taken from the October issue of Dork, out now. Alex Lahey's debut album 'I Love You Like A Brother' is out 6th October.