She may only be 23 but Sydney’s own, Alex the Astronaut, is making a cosmic impact on the Australian music scene! Since landing #23 in the latest Triple J ‘s Hottest 100, she’s been playing gigs at festivals and even a co-headlining tour with Stella Donnelly. Whether it’s speaking her mind on the lack of diversity or how to always put yourself first, she’s not wasting any time letting the world know that your opinions are not worth hiding.
Playing the latest Splendour in the Grass, Alex is being rightfully recognised for her musical talents, having played alongside the likes of Ball Park Music’s Jen Boyce and heaps more. Telling her story of the unknown through her EP ‘See You Soon’, it’s no wonder Alex is up, up and away with the promise of a skyrocketing career!
Read on to find out what Alex the Astronaut shared with us and her latest single!
Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?
My first musical inspiration was probably Paul Kelly. I admired how he writes and learned a lot from listening to his music. Through early high school, I had folders of printed music which might have included a fair bit of Taylor Swift. Right now, a band that I really admire is Ball Park Music, they’ve consistently released five albums of great music. They’re very talented, clever, kind and funny people and the quality of their live shows is something I strive towards!
What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
I print out all my set lists before I go so I feel prepared. I also pack comfy clothes, tea and sometimes a travel blanket for naps too. Snacks are also important as always. Mostly have a lot of fun but make sure to look after yourself, practice self-care, get sleep, eat some good food when you can, learning that made me enjoy shows way more.
What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
Having my song in Triple J’s Hottest 100 was a pretty incredible experience. “Not Worth Hiding” got number 23 in the countdown and it was a great moment, all of my team were listening together and when it came on we were all ecstatic, I was so happy. I really think celebrating those moments with the people you love makes them even sweeter.
How has your music practice changed over time?
I put a lot less pressure on myself now. I used to worry that I couldn’t sing really big notes, now I’ve seen you just get better with time and practice, you can’t rush it. When I practice I do warm-ups on scales, I play a few songs that I like and work into songwriting when I’m ready. I do that once a day.
My top business tip for new artists is…
Find good healthy people to learn from and cherry pick what works for you. Money was really tight for me when I was starting out but I only spent money on production of the songs, a publicist and radio plugger. I was taught by people I trust that if you want to release a song, saving some money to work with a good publicist and radio plugger is important because they’ll help get your music heard by the right online and print media or radio stations. Never go with anyone that guarantees you a spot on Triple J or in key blogs, no one can promise that and they’re probably not the best people. But in general just listen to people, especially if they care about you and take in as much as you can from lots of different people.
If Alex’s business tips have you craving more industry insight, check out our ‘Advice for Emerging Artists & Industry Workers‘ course!
My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
I stress too much which is a mistake because it blurs your decision making and makes you experience the incredible things that are happening with less clarity. I stress over whether songs are good enough, I worry what people will think of me, if my live show is good enough, and what will happen in the future. These are all things that are out of our control, and if we fixate on them, it’ll take away from the things we can control like writing music that is honest and enjoying the opportunities we have in front of us.
In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
I think the topic of diversity in music is extremely important, as it is in every other industry. The people producing popular art should represent proportionally all people in the population and at the moment, in Australia, it’s not. People get really angry about it, they think that artists are asking to be employed or included in a lineup or on radio based on their gender or ethnicity. That’s been an argument against affirmative action since it was introduced. I think the thing that will help, is to get it across to people that no one is asking to be employed if they’re not good enough for a job but that if you have two equally qualified people you should choose the one that has been systematically discriminated against because it’s the only fair way to make change. I think by talking about it with people that can help is how I can play my part in changing things.
With these handy snippets of what life in the music biz is like, we’ll leave you to immerse yourself in Alex’s brand-spankin’ new single which, unlike the title, is definitely not a ‘Waste of Time’!