Name: Alex Lahey
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Nationality: Australian  
Recent releases and events: Alex Lahey's new single "Congratulations" is out now. She will also be performing at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, on September 23rd 2022.   
Recommendations: The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency by Nan Goldin - I got obsessed with Goldin’s work while I was in lockdown in Melbourne.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once - I know you’ve seen the hype, but it’s true. It is THAT GOOD. Required viewing.

If you enjoyed this interview with Alex Lahey and would like to find out more about her work, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I’ve been playing music in some shape or form for as long as I can remember.

Although I don’t come from a “musical” family in the sense that no one in my family plays music, I did grow up in a household that was always consuming art and music in some way - everything from Mozart to Bruce Springsteen to Miles Davis. So I was exposed to an enormous array of eras and genres of music from a very young age.

I think the infiniteness and scope of music that I was surrounded by really drew me to the medium along with it being such a central part of the environment I grew up in.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

That’s cool! I don’t have the synesthesia thing going on, but I’ve always wondered what that would be like.

My body responds differently depending on what I’m listening to. When I hear something that I find particularly inspiring, I get an adrenaline type reaction to it, which usually manifests in me wanting to tell everyone I know about this amazing thing that I’ve just heard.

I generally don’t like to listen to music when I’m trying to work or be productive because I get too distracted - I’ll start researching the thing I’m listening to and try to unpack it too much to get the task at hand done.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I guess those interests and challenges change over time. Those initial challenges were things like, “how can I stop doing this shitty day job and just play music forever?” But now it’s about taking this privilege I have of being a musician and an artist and exploring that in the most fulfilling and meaningful ways possible.

I think my voice is always morphing and growing as I do as an individual. It excites me to not know what that voice might sound like or say in years to come.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I don’t really know how to articulate what my identity is per se, but I always go with my gut as an artist. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not for me.

The same goes for me as a listener - if it feels right, I’m in.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

My anchors are “always be yourself” and “do the best you possibly can”

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I just love songs - doesn’t really matter to me how they’re dressed up. I love hearing new things that can even be confronting on first listen, but I also love being presented with something that has a sense of nostalgia and comfort.

For my own music, I’m just trying to write the best songs I can using the stories I have to tell.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Guitar pedals, Logic voice memos, notes app, little Moleskine journals, my camera - basically anything that with record something I find compelling (literally or otherwise) so my brain can come back to it later.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

It really depends on the day and what part of the job I’m tackling at that point in time.

On a day like today when I’m not on tour nor in the midsts of writing: I wake up, go for a walk before the day gets too hot, answer some emails, head into the studio to listen to some rough mixes, grab a coffee, catch up on the AFL match I missed the night before, more emails, listen to some new music, play guitar, do some yoga, cook dinner, hang with my girlfriend and go to bed.

That’s just today though.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

Well, for my new single ‘Congratulations’, the story came first, then came the opening line “I heard the news through someone else”. I was playing guitar in drop D around that time, so I was also putzing around with parts in that tuning.

After sitting on that for a while, I told my friend Brad about the concept and general direction and we wrote the song together.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I’m a very collaborative creative these days. I love writing with other artists for their projects and producing records for my friends. I really need that in my life outside of my own project. From those experiences, I’ve become far more collaborative in my own project after being very staunchly isolated within it.

It’s a great way to push your own boundaries and explore different creative paths.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

Big question. I write songs because it is my way of understanding what happens around or to me. I need it to synthesise both the day to day and the bigger picture.

As for music’s role in society - it’s the great connector.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

Just making my own music helps me grapple with all these realities of existing.

As for other works, Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen is to me the best sonic depiction of isolation. I’ll also put in Paramore’s self titled record as an exploration in the complexity of finding bright vivid colours in the darkness of grief and anger.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?  

I mean, music is like drugs - it can take you in and out of homeostasis. That’s pretty science-y!

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

I love that creativity exists outside of the realm of “the arts”, and I think it takes a relatively creative person to identify that. I mean, I’ve had meals that illicit a similar response in me to when I listen to an awesome record for the first time or see a mind-blowing film.

For me, music is just way more fun that those more ‘mundane’ tasks, so that’s why I do it. I’ll only stop when the fun stops. But I don’t think it will.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I don’t, and I’m so happy handing myself over to the mystery of it.