By Alissa Arunarsirakul // October 1, 2020
On a mission to build her own brand under the pop genre, ALIX is the Bay Area artist leaving us stunned time after time. With a luscious blend of R&B and pop, ALIX’s music will make your heart throb and your troubles stop for even a brief moment. Revolving around self-care, human connection, and positivity, ALIX’s new album Feel Better is finally here to convince you that this California native is well worth your time.
On Feel Better, ALIX reflected,
“The project reminds me of familiar comfort, warm cups of coffee, getting cozy, dancing around the house, focusing on self-care, and feeling connected to others by getting connected with ourselves. I wanted to keep the sounds light, comforting, and positive to symbolize a lifestyle I want to be dedicated to. But I wanted to include the humanity of needing to talk through feelings and turn frustration into constructive growth. There were emotions I confronted in these songs that I needed to get off my chest to feel better and move on.”
To celebrate the release of her new music, we recently chatted with ALIX about home studios, change, and of course, Feel Better.
HH: How did you first get into music?
A: I got into music through my parents. They did not do music themselves but got me started with violin lessons at a really young age. They also had me in a local kids’ group that would sing holiday songs to the retirement home and small local events like that. I was raised on a lot of music from different genres, and grew up in a place where it was part of the culture to go to concerts and festivals. For as far back as I can remember I loved music more than anything–with the exception of visual art. When I was about ten I started vocal lessons and as I got older I started songwriting and playing bass as well. When I was in high school, I won a singing contest. It gave me the experience to write a song and record it in a renowned San Francisco studio. That experience solidified me wanting to take music seriously as a career. I fell in love with studio life; it gave me confidence and made me realize it was a dream I could make possible as well as one I would be genuinely passionate about beyond everything else. I’ve been pointed in that direction ever since.
HH: How does it feel to finally have Feel Better out in the world?!
A: It feels wonderful and like a relief. We have been working on this project for over a year now and it has really captured such a big part of my life. Releasing it has made me nervous and excited. I am so happy it is finally out. From the writing, the vocals, the music, and the visual content, I think it shows a good representation of the sound, direction, and what we are capable of as a self-sufficient, independent, small team. I think Feel Better has ways it is familiar and ways it is unique; the project showcases that in our sound. I think it will be the start of wonderful things to come. I have been really touched by the feedback it has gotten. People have reached out saying the stories and music have helped them especially in tough times like these. I don’t know if I could ask for more. I am very grateful that it’s out and that there have been those positively affected by it.
HH: Feel Better really is an incredibly uplifting record. What inspired you to write this impressive collection?
A: This album was written over a big change in my life. When we started writing, we were living in our LA apartment. We were exhausted. I am so grateful for the experiences I had there and for all I learned and gained from my experience living there. But after a while, sometimes you just need to leave. Like I said, LA can be wonderful but I needed a break. We wanted to go someplace new, with no noisy neighbors, where we could get back to a peaceful artsy space and feel refreshed. I love change and new scenery. I move quite often. But I am a proud born and raised Californian and I had never lived outside of my state. I thought it was time to leave the nest and see a different perspective of coast living. I talk about it mainly in “Golden” and “Young” and I poke fun at it in “Let’s Leave,” where I address that LA can definitely be cool, but sometimes you just need to take a look at what really determines your happiness. We moved to the east coast and it worked. We got a backyard, more space, and started to feel better. It was nice to be away from the city and people and be in our own space. My writer’s block started fading away and our music became warmer. We had decided back in LA to put out a project but hadn’t solidified that it would be an album or how many songs. By the time the new songs like “Golden,” “Lucky,” and “Dreams” were written, I thought the collection showcased my experiences and wrapped up naturally. In the album, I reminisce on stories from the past that I choose to look at now in a kinder light, I explain what finally realizing real love was like, and the idea of working to be at peace with yourself. I feel better going into my next endeavors. I feel more confident and excited than ever to chase my newly shaped goals. I wanted to share that feeling through the sound and visuals for this album.
HH: Whether it’s the memorable guitar hook in “Easy Living” or the funky bass lines in “Can’t Get Enough,” Feel Better has countless sonics that truly blow our minds. Can you describe the creative process of the record?
A: I have to give that all to my producer and mixing/mastering engineer, Paul. He played all the guitar, keys, and live bass on the album and is proud to have done the project completely sample-free. His guitar was the origin of “Easy Living” and his bass line brought “Can’t Get Enough” to life. We have a flow when we work so I’ll let him jam out on his own starting the beats while I begin writing in my laptop and voice memos. His instruments often guide me in my writing and vocals. Paul is an incredible musician with a unique ear and style. Influenced by renowned idols, he creates smooth and captivating compositions. Always pushing me to take sonic risks.
We wrote, produced, recorded, and engineered both songs in our living room home studio. Paul played both live instruments and digitally produced every instrumental on the album. He loves “Easy Living” because of the guitar specifically; I think he feels especially connected to those melodies. I am pretty sure he was inspired by one of his favorite songs by Common. On “Can’t Get Enough” we were going for an effortless R&B/pop jam with a 2000’s feel. Watching him play the bass line was a big moment. It felt so good as it dropped into the verse, we knew it was going to make the whole song.
HH: What was it like to record Feel Better from home? What limitations does that have as opposed to a recording studio?
A: Besides the super fancy equipment and flashy studio photos, there were actually more benefits to recording from home for me. We had so much creative control over when and how we worked. We weren’t held back by allotted time slots or studio costs. We woke up, got our morning coffee, and went downstairs to record. I have been a part of big studio sessions or writing camps where a house is rented out. The house is always my preferred option. There’s comfort and freedom in it. It’s true that my living room acoustics may not be up to par with a major studio booth but I believe we got the job done, and in an impressive way, I think, for it being so homemade. Creatively, being in my own home was wonderful. When I lost inspiration I would just go outside or to different areas. We know how all the equipment works so there was no need for outside assistance. I was always in my pajamas and never felt the “vibe” wasn’t right. I also recorded a few songs on the go. I brought my microphone and some select equipment when I flew to LA in November 2019 to film the music video for “Good” featuring NEZZA. I was staying at 1323’s apartment and we ended up recording their verse for “Let’s Leave” as well as almost their entire album in their bedroom. If anything, how the album came out in the end made me proud that we pulled it off without all the major studio glam.
HH: How would you say you’ve grown since 2018’s Since ‘96?
A: I have grown a great amount since Since ‘96. We have developed and executed a more solid sound and brand. We are stronger in our writing, production, mixing/mastering, and marketing skills. I believe our improvement shows through. In the short term, the world has gone through tremendous change recently and I feel as if we have all changed personally one way or another. This album showcases growth and change that is evident in the new sound. I have grown in my goals as well as my artistry. This new project shows our growth. It is the beginning of what we have in store.
HH: If you could collaborate with anyone in the music industry, who would you pick?
A: That’s a really tough question. I have too many dream collaborations to count, but right now my top picks are probably Tinashe, Kehlani, or Mahalia.
HH: What are your three hidden hits?
A: “Faded” – Saint Christopher
“Heaven” – 1323
“Nothing Now” – NEZZA