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February 2021

Alex The Astronaut: Aussie pop tunes from the heart

"I try to tell the truth, as close as I can get to it"
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Published: 9:00 am, August 21, 2020 Photos: Jess Gleeson.
Alex The Astronaut: Aussie pop tunes from the heart

Throw away your Friday plans. Whatever you're thinking of doing, Aussie superstar-in-waiting Alex The Astronaut has a better idea: "I'm going to eat churros in the bath." Truly, she's a visionary. Dork approved. Sorted. Bang that on your press release.

Alex is the sort of magical person where everything new you find out about her, is wonderful. Moving from Sydney to New York on a soccer scholarship? Wonderful. One of her songs becoming an unofficial anthem of the Australian equal marriage referendum? Wonderful x2. If someone wrote a film about her life, you'd think it too delightful to be true.

As well as enjoying yummy snacks and bubbly fun today, it's also the release day for her debut album, 'The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing'. It's a proper lovely record that sees her tackle some pretty hefty coming-of-age style topics in a really relatable and charming way. If you're feeling worried about life, love, or whatever, and could do with a musical hug from someone who instantly feels like your new bestie, this is the record for you.

Give it a listen below, and dive into Alex The Astronaut's world while you're at it.

Hi Alex, how are you doing? What's the mood like in Australia at the moment?

Hello! I am well; it's varied all over. In Sydney, we're not in full lockdown like Melbourne so on the pandemic front. Hopefully, we're on the up and up. There are important conversations happening around the BLM movement. In Australia, more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been killed in custody since 1990, and there has been a lot of anti-racism work done lead by talented artists like Briggs, Thelma Plum and Ziggy Ramo. Hopefully, everyone keeps working, and real change continues to be made.

Has all this virus business interrupted your plans much?

I was meant to go to SXSW in March and then do a US tour which we cancelled the week before and then a few weeks later all my shows for the next six months were cancelled.

What's a typical day like for you at the moment?

On a typical day, I eat a lot of food and try to only watch one episode of Grey's Anatomy. It's been great for writing, and having a routine; I haven't been in the same spot for more than a few months in a while. I've been learning the drums and learning how to use power tools; I don't think my neighbours like me very much.

It must be weird releasing an album during a pandemic, did you consider putting it back at all?

No, it's been coming for a few years, and I wanted to set it free ASAP.

What's the timeline like on the album's creation, when did you start and when did you finish?

I started writing the songs two and a half years ago, and they were all finished and recorded halfway through last year.

Deadly virus aside, what were the main challenges you came up against while working on it?
I think getting all the lyrics right. Lyrics are the thing I definitely overthink the most. Most of the songs I was writing up until the day of recording and then even on the day I still made lots of changes. I made myself very stressed.

How did you approach curating the record's tracklisting?
I started with 'Happy Song' because it was the first song I wrote off the album. I put 'Caught in the Middle' in the middle because I thought it was a funny joke. I finished with 'San Francisco' because I thought it was a good summary song that gets the feeling across of how up and down the world we live in is. Then all the songs in between I just tried to flow them through with light and dark moments that felt like they fit next to each other.

Is there a particular vibe or feeling you like to aim for with your songs?

I try to tell the truth as close as I can get to it. Which, as our friend Einstein taught us, is all relative.

How do you go about distilling difficult experiences or topics into a three-minute-or-so song?

I'm still learning, but I think you have to focus on the most important details that the listener needs to know. After you've got an idea of that, you add the colours which are the extra pieces that help you really feel like you're in a story and with difficult experiences it's about the little things. Like if you're talking about losing someone, you might include the detail of calling their phone number or texting them even when you know it's disconnected. I think in difficult situations there are sometimes a few things that everyone does and if you can include them, then people can really feel what you feel.

Australian acts seem to be having a bit of a moment over here, how does it feel from your end?
Hahah, I did not know that. I feel supported, and I'm very very grateful for that.

A lot of them have talked about how hard it is to tour internationally, is that something you've come up against?

It is very hard when the borders are closed, but even in non-pandemic time, it's expensive to go anywhere from Australia. Europe has a lot of cities, so it's expensive as well to play a lot of shows if you don't play big shows. I really like it though; I love playing in all the different places and going touristing, I miss that part a lot. One time I had French Onion Soup in Paris after a show, that was the best.

Do you think being based somewhere that's often pretty hot and sunny impacts the music you make?

Lots of us sing very sad songs, so perhaps not? It is winter time now though so it's pretty cold and dark. I'm looking forward to the hot and sunny part.

What's coming up for you, do you have much in the diary?

Not yet, it's all pretty up in the air which is a very strange way to live. I think it's good to have to let go of all the planning.

How are you going to celebrate the album release?

I'm going to eat churros in the bath.

Alex The Astronaut's debut album 'The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing' is out now.

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