Alexx, what inspired you to start playing music?
My greatest inspiration has been my father. He is also a guitarist and singer. My brother and I sat on the ground as children listening to our dad sing and playing songs like Michelle from The Beatles or the James Bond theme. Naturally, I wanted to be like him so I got a guitar at 11. The rest is history.
What would you describe as your musical style?
It all depends on the project. My solo project is a favorite of many people, including Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette.
SOC, my other band, is more concept-oriented and deals with existential themes. It sounds like a mix of Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, and Portishead.
You can probably see from the list of artists that I mentioned that I love nineties music (ha ha ha).
Which artists are you most inspired by right now?
Recently, I have been discovering many great artists. I love AWOLNATION and Glass Animals. Mona is my favorite. Kaleo is my favorite. My favorite band is, and will always be, silverchair.
Your song “Cry” was featured on Dance Moms’ hit reality series. This is a huge accomplishment. How did this happen?
It’s a fascinating story. “Cry” was the only ballad on an all-electronic rock album I released in 2010. It was then that I noticed many kids posting tribute videos to the song and performing cover versions of “Cry”. I didn’t know why. After much investigation, I discovered that “Cry” was licensed to Dance Moms (I am a member of several licensing agencies that help indie artists’ music be placed on film/TV). Maddie Ziegler, a little girl, did a dance routine. It was a huge success and charted at #64 on iTunes’ rock charts.
Were you able to share your experience with having your song on such a popular show? It had any effect on the song’s success?
It’s both very strange and amazing. Because I am hypercritical, I find it a bit uncomfortable to see my content on TV. It is very flattering, though. It was due to the exposure that “Cry” received on the show (along with other songs such as Home Again, Survive and Out of Sight), it had a significant impact on sales. I also gained a lot of new fans. Dance Moms are responsible for a lot of my success, and I am grateful.
How has it been to work so closely with Kendall, Maddie and Kenzie as well as the Dance Moms cast over the years?
It has been amazing. They are all amazing dancers and I admire their hard work and talent. I would never have imagined that I’d find myself in this world, especially as a poor dancer (ha ha), but I am very grateful for the chance.
Recently, you released a music clip for your hit song “Breathe”. The song and the music video are both amazing. Is there a story behind this song?
Thank you! The story behind the song was a simple one. I wanted to convey a positive message because the world is desperately in need of it. People feel disconnected these days because of the negativity and hatred that has been swirling around, especially in light of the recent election. Frankly, I am tired of reading negative news headlines and social media posts, and I’m tired being isolated. To reassure myself that everything will be alright, I wrote “Breathe”. Although we live in a dark and turbulent time in history, nothing lasts forever. There is always light at the end, and there’s always something good to be found if you are willing to take the time.
How did Nia get involved in both the music video and vocals?
After Nia’s performance of “Cry” on Dance Moms, I felt a connection with her and decided to continue working with her. She is a singer with a lot potential, so I thought she would be a great addition. Our voices blend really well together, I believe. Because that’s her main focus, I wanted her dancing in the video.
What was the inspiration for the music video?
Nia is my muse in the video. She is the “breath” of fresh air, the white light in my video. I tend to be more contemplative and wonder when the bright light will shine. Gianna, the choreographer, wanted Nia to do some contemporary choreography with some lyrical choreography. This is one of Nia’s strengths. It’s very emotional and romantic, and some the best Nia dancing I have ever seen.
How do you make an “Alexx” music clip?
Because I do everything myself (and often by myself), there are many things to do. First, you need to find a good director and colorist. Next, you need to secure a location and gather extras. Finally, you will need sponsors that could possibly contribute to the video. Jersey Mikes and Chipotle provided catering for the Breathe video shoot. Although it’s exhausting, the final product is always worth it.
Do you have plans to work with Dance Moms’ girls again?
Yes! They are all beautiful girls and such a joy to work with. You’ll see more of them in the near future, as a matter fact.
Which social media platform are you most comfortable using to keep in touch with your followers?
Facebook, probably (I know, it’s old!). It’s more personal than Instagram or Twitter, I think. It’s possible to complete a thought with no restrictions on character count. You can keep up with me at facebook.com/alexxcalisemusic!
Is your fanbase known by a name?
The Alexx Calise Police
What do you desire from your fans’ relationship?
I am a positive role model and want them to feel they can reach me. There are very few positive role models for kids these days. Many of today’s “role models,” despite being Insta-famous and self-involved, are empty, vacuous, and uninterested in society beyond their selfies. I believe I have more to offer than this.
Which was your most bizarre fan encounter?
Although I can’t claim to have had crazy fan encounters, I’ve had many fans draw and paint photos of my face, which has been really flattering. There’s still time to have a truly wild encounter!
How does it feel to have your fans singing back at you?
This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It is incredibly humbling to be able to connect with someone at such a deep level. It makes all the hard work and sacrifices that have been made worthwhile.
Which song is your favourite to perform live?
Most likely Morning Pill. Since I was 16, I have been performing this song live, and it is always the song I end with. It has such raw emotion that I can’t help but lose myself in it. This song is my favorite. It has stood the test, more than any other I have written. Every time I perform it, I go back to the exact place I was when I wrote it. It’s an experience that is out of your body.
Do you have any other projects that you would like to tell us about?
Always! With Dennis Morehouse, my best friend and songwriting partner and me, I have another project called SOC. We will be releasing a brand new single in the coming months. It is a cover version of “6 Underground” by Sneaker Pimps.
Dennis and me also write music for TV and film, so you can be sure I have many irons in my fire!
Which was your best career experience?
Although it’s difficult to choose the best experience, highlights include performing on Dance Moms with Maddie Ziegler, Nia Sioux and playing in Nissan, Guitar Center, and Line 6 commercials and my music being featured on national television. My life and career are full of surprises. Every day is a new adventure. As I mentioned before, I never imagined that I would be involved in the dance industry in any way. It doesn’t matter what the “dream” may look like, I feel like I’m living the dream.
What is the average day like for Alexx?
I am a creature of routine. I wake up at around midnight, check my email, go for a run or on the treadmill, then I fall asleep.
What are your goals in life and work?
I would love to tour the world. I’d love my label to succeed and jumpstart the careers of other musicians. I’d also love to continue writing music for the rest my life. Writing is my passion. Personal life is what I would love to do. Just to let you know, I tried it.
What has the whole experience of a music career been like?
It has been an amazing ride. The best and most stupidest decision of my life was to become a professional musician. Although it’s not easy and without sacrifice, I am able to enjoy the joy of performing and playing music. I would not want to do any other. I cannot do anything else. I would only be half of a person. It’s all I am.
Are you able to offer any advice to aspiring musicians?
Do it for the love and nothing else. It’s difficult to make an impression when everyone can upload songs to Youtube and Soundcloud. There is so little money these days in music. It’s possible to do it if it’s something you love and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s worth it to be prepared to sacrifice your life in order for your music to reach the masses. You have to be willing to do anything to make people feel good. No one else is going to care the same as you.