Interview by Bre Cura // Photos provided by Artist
So diving right in, I read that this album was inspired by some pretty big events in your life, could you tell me some more about that?
Alexander: “The album as a whole was inspired by a phone call I received from a family member I did not know existed. At the end of 2018, I connected with my biological sister for the first time and learned things about myself that were previously mysteries to me. In particular, I was told that I had Chinese and Hawaiian roots. This played a huge role in my creative process – the album became about self-discovery and took on a completely different tone as a result.”
Do you think your creative process shifting resulted in any new sounds or vibes in this album, or did that kind of stay the same for you as they were in previous works?
Alexander: “Oh absolutely. The sounds and lyrics on the new album are both testaments of the new approach we took in the creative process. Many of my lyrics are deeply personal, and at times vulnerable. We took a lot of risk on this album and I think the instrumentation reflects that as well. There are melodies and chord progressions on this project that we wouldn’t have even thought about using a few years ago. I think the experience of meeting my sister matured me as a person as well as an artist.”
Have you shared this album with your sister?
Alexander: “Yes! I showed her the album when it was still in its earliest stages and made sure I updated her playlist any time tweaks got made. I think it was important for me to show her, as many of the concepts and premises on the album were largely influenced and inspired by her reaching out.”
Does the album art have any special meaning behind it? I noticed some aspects like the mirror, and the hand holding the dragon and thought they were very interesting.
Alexander: “Yes, my Creative Director, Marisa Le, and I were very intentional behind the album art. We wanted to highlight the duality between being an Asian American and what that means. On the cover, I am wearing traditional Chinese “dragon” pants while wearing Air Force Ones. In another image, there is a Chinese lantern but it is actually a spray-painted basketball. Again, it was important to highlight some traditionally Chinese objects as well as the ones that are thought to be “American.” The title itself is also a double entendre of sorts – fortune cookies are not a traditionally Chinese creation, but neither am I.”
Diving into your music video for “These Days”, I absolutely loved it! The colors and the direction were just perfect, can you tell me about your experience filming that, especially during quarantine?
Alexander: “Thanks so much! We really just wanted the video to feel like an “escape” for the viewer. We filmed at the height of the lockdown so it was a bit eerie being at the beach and essentially having the town to ourselves, but that also made the process even more memorable. It was shot in Cape May, NJ and we wanted to highlight the colorful architecture and just good vibrations as a whole. Thanks to all the businesses and houses that allowed us to shoot!”
And now tell me about the merch that you’ve dropped alongside this album! Did you have a hand in designing it?
Alexander: “My merch is something I take a lot of pride in as I am a graphic designer when I’m not making music. That said, all the pieces in the collection were designed by me in Philadelphia. I like to say that each piece is kind of like the songs that I make – I think they vary in texture, fabric, and design, but the collection as a whole has a cohesion that makes it feel like all the pieces “fit together.” I try to incorporate subtle symbols or hints that fans may be able to trace back to a specific song or album. At the end of the day, I want people who have no idea about my music to still be drawn to the clothing that I create and vice versa.”
Do you ever do graphic design for any other projects, or mainly just for your own lines/collections?
Alexander: “I studied advertising when I was a student at Temple U, and graphic design just felt like a natural ‘fit’ for me. I mainly focus on my own brand/clothing line when working on graphics, however, I’ve been approached by several bigger companies to help out on that end. I’m always excited when other brands/companies reach out in hopes of collaborating.”