...It’s cliché to say but, I try not to limit myself. I create what comes to mind and just leave it at that.
You were born in New Jersey and raised in California, are you an East Coast or West Coast girl?
You know I call myself an honorary L.A. native, because this is all I know. I grew up here; this is home, this is my comfort zone. My Mom was born and raised here, so a lot of her side of the family is here, yeah…this is where I’ve lived pretty much all my life (since the age of two). My Dad is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up mostly in New Jersey. I wish I knew and remembered more things about the East Coast growing up, but L.A. is home.
How is it balancing your work life with motherhood, career, social and spirituality, do feel it’s a good balance?
I think life for me is just one day at a time, I am actually a lot more intentional with my time now. I feel like I’ve just really tapped into myself as a woman and being able to pour into myself first allows me to be sure I am good, in turn my daughter is good. I’m doing better than I expected; I pictured myself being everywhere and not as stable in regards to handling daily life. However, with my daughter it’s great. (Her daughter’s name is Isley Rose🌹).
How has your legendary lineage shaped your artistry; do you ever feel pressured as an artist because of your background?
It’s shaped everything! They were a part of the first sounds I absorbed around the house, I mean hearing their music is second nature yet, it can still feel new to me. I’ll hear them in a grocery store or wherever and that part never gets old. At the same time, that music is in my blood, for as long as I’ve known music to be─ I’ve been immersed in those sounds for as long as I can remember.
On Pressure: I definitely want to expand on what they’ve laid as a foundation in my own way, I want branch out and I feel like I’ve developed a sound for myself while keeping in tack those roots; any kind of pressure has been internal. Only because, I’m adamantly aware of what impact they’ve had and still have. They’re still performing and traveling. Any kind of pressure is from me in my own head, to live up to that name and all that comes along with it. The most important thing to me as well, is to make them proud in which, they are and have expressed that to me and I am grateful for that. It’s cool for them to hear what I am doing.
It was actually my Mom’s idea, she asked, “why don’t you produce your own stuff” and when she said that, I thought…what does that even mean, produce my own stuff?
Can you recall a favorite music story that’s happened with your dad or your uncle’s?
My dad, pretty much like anybody else, had great love for Michael Jackson. I had to be like two or three years-old always watching Moonwalker and being obsessed. He was supposed to work with Michael once and this was like the early ‘90s and I guess something happened where he showed up at a session and he wasn’t there and things didn’t gel like they were supposed to. Unfortunately, they ended up not working together, but my dad told me about a letter he wrote Michael a letter expressing “hopes of working together soon and being sorry things didn’t work out as planned,” then adding how his “daughter Alexandria loves you and watches you on TV every day”… and I don’t know how my dad found out that Michael read the letter but, he was pleased with his words. I thought that was kind of cool. I never got to meet him unfortunately, but just knowing that Michael knew I existed at one point was enough for me.
Sonically, your music sounds like it’s been elevating itself since 2012, when your first album came out. Do you feel that your sound has evolved since then?
From a creative aspect or just being in the moment of actually creating, I believe I’ve learned to go with my first gut instincts. Like most artist, I am very much a perfectionist and I’ve gone back with my first project and changed almost all of the songs; I have like ten different versions of like every song. “FDA” almost didn’t even make it on to my first project and I had to get to a point where I was like, just leave it alone and let it do what’s it’s supposed to do. Overtime I’ve just learned to create and just put it out there and let it go. It’s easy to get caught up in second-guessing yourself. “Are people going to like this? Are people going to listen to this?” I’ve learned to be more intuitive and to let it just happen.
Love, I think can be an idea but, it can also be an action. It’s an experience.
I can imagine during your childhood, having the opportunity to be introduced to a vast amount of all types of music. Who are some of your main musical influences? Do you have any favorite artist you listen to?
I go through phases. Sometimes, I am listening to new music and then other times I listen to purely throwback music. I try to keep my ears open to anything. Currently, I am listening to this artist signed to Stones Throw Records named Gabriel Garzón-Montano, he writes and produces all of his own music. It has hints of R&B, funk, folk and electronic; it’s a hodgepodge of things and it grooves, it’s really dope. I’ve also been listening to H.E.R. as well, I know her personally and I’ve got to say that she is an amazing talent; she’s still pretty young and I really admire what’s she’s doing right now. Of course, Justin (Timberlake) just dropped his album a little while ago. Plus, I am always on Spotify pressing shuffle to see who pops up.
Do you listen to yourself often?
Coming from my position of doing mostly everything myself, and going back like every day and picking things apart, I haven’t really been able to listen to myself up until this new project. I have to say that this is the first time in a while, I am actually enjoying listening to my music; just completely, genuinely, enjoying it and not thinking about it or over analyzing anything like with my past projects. I am honestly in the moment listening to what’s there. It’s nice to be in that position for once.
Genres of music are so fluid nowadays, however, we can hear pop, jazz and soul influences in your music; are those genres of music chosen intentionally? What do you consider your music genre?
I haven’t really thought about trying to stick to one category. I mean it’s cliché to say but, I try not to limit myself. I create what comes to mind and just leave it at that. Sonically, I am already influenced by a bunch of things, I believe my core is R&B yet, I’ve branched out in so many different directions so it’s hard to condense my music into one particular area.
Your latest singles from your new album, The Beauty of Everything, Part I seems to embark on deep emotions driven by love and love lost, is that your overall favorite theme to write about, love?
I believe it’s just natural to me. It’s inevitable that my life and everything that I draw from includes love; it’s involved in some kind of way. Love, I think can be an idea but, it can also be an action. It’s an experience. There are so many different ways I’ve been able to draw upon that emotion and talk about it. There are a million different possibilities to draw from love and what that might mean to you. For me, I don’t think it’s my favorite per-say; it’s just natural.
Do you write all of your songs or did you collaborate?
I write and produce all of my music for now. I am starting to finally branch out and collaborate with other producers and I’m excited about that. It was like rocket science when she said it and I asked, “What do you mean?” My mother really helped me and invested in the equipment for me. I sat down and took some time and after wanting to throw my computer out the window from frustration, it began to come together. I even tried looking at YouTube tutorials. It’s crazy how now, I can’t imagine me doing it really any other way.
From a creative aspect or just being in the moment of actually creating, I believe I’ve learned to go with my first gut instincts
You’ve produced your own music over the past 5 years, when you do decide to branch off and work with other producers, do you feel that you’ll still be so ‘hands-on’ in what they produce for you?
Oh yes, definitely. I am already starting to work with a friend of mine who’s an amazing producer. I definitely feel like because, I am familiar with some of the equipment and know the jargon, it’ll be an easy transition.
What experience would like your listeners to gain from listening to your new EP?
An appreciation for life and for living overall. If you have air in your lungs, you’re alive and things are not that terrible. I know that may be hard for some people to grasp but, it’s called The Beauty of Everything and for me I believe, that’s what it is. To learn and to gain from everything. Now, it’s a lot easier said than done─ to find a silver lining or a consolation prize but, that’s what I’ve been learning for myself nowadays. Including my daughter, to appreciate the little things, have gratitude for your loved ones, your friends and who you may be surrounded by.
When should we expect The Beauty of Everything, Part II?
I have ideas brewing now because, I don’t want there to be too much of a gap. I would say maybe to expect something late summer towards early fall. I think the second part maybe lengthier as well. Part I is only five songs.
And, any plans for an LP?
What I plan to do is put both parts together to make it a complete album and redistribute it as a full LP.
You’re currently Independent. Does being signed to a record label entice you in today’s market or do you want to stay independent as a choice?
I mean there’s always pros and cons especially nowadays where everything is so DIY; while seeing success with some independent artists, a prime example would be Chance The Rapper. There are definitely a lot of pros right now. It would also depend on the terms and conditions as far as the label. There’s more than compromise in a lot of instances and I think I would want to keep most of, if not all of creative control and just having a say in production. Therefore, it would really just depend.
I love Adrienne Haughton, Aimee Son and LaLa Anthony’s styles. They’re street style chic.
What do you consider your personal style?
I like to mix classics and staples pieces with statement jewelry. I love gold statement jewelry. I like to mix between casual and dressy to upscale. I think now entering my thirties, I cleaned out a lot of my closet. I like more solid patterns and my main thing is just classic pieces, like a good leather jacket and good pairs of denim jeans. I love denim, you can’t go wrong with good denim.
Who is your favorite designer or designers to rock?
I am open, there are so many designers that I like and some I don’t even know by name. Though, I do have some fashion forward women I scope for inspiration. I love Adrienne Haughton, Aimee Son (an interior designer) and LaLa Anthony’s styles. They’re street style chic.
What’s the forever item in your wardrobe?
My denim jacket. I actually found a distressed one at Forever 21! It’s pretty thick so, I can rock layers when it’s cold or sometimes I’ll just wear it as top in of itself, with it buttoned a certain way. It’s versatile, you can dress it up or down.
What can we expect from Alex Isley for the remainder of 2018?
You can expect more music and more growth from me more than anything. Sonically, artistically, I believe I’ve grown between this and the last project I put out. I think it’ll be a deeper look into myself as a woman.
Do you plan to drop any visuals out for the album?
Yes, the visual for “On To You” will be out very soon.
Outside of Alex Isley’s continuous budding music career, you can catch her featured on 3-time Grammy award winning musician Robert Glaspers x Kaytranada’s remix album from his 2016 The ArtScience album that drops on April 21st. Listen and purchase her new EP The Beauty of Everything and catch her new groovy track “When It Rains” being played on Joe Budden’s latest Podcast here. 🖐🏽