INTERVIEW: Alexa Swinton

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Hi Alexa, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? 

I’ve been great, thank you! It’s been a strange time, but my family and I have made the most of it! WE have quarantined since March 14 and there are seven people- (My grandparents, mom, dad, sister, brother and me) PLUS our chihuahua named Lola.   It’s a lot of fun for sure.  And also a lot of yelling.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “You, Me, And My Purple Docs”?

Yes of course! Well- its my latest AND my first, so its pretty exciting.  

Purple Docs is about using your special strength, whatever makes you feel good, to go out and make a positive difference in the world.  To stand up for what you believe is right, for things that will make our planet a better place to be for all of us.  It’s also about kids taking action, young people taking action.  Well, and any people taking action.  My grandparents like the song too!  

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I have been working with Dawn Elder, a Grammy nominated producer for the past year and a half.  Dawn mentors young singer songwriters and I have learned a lot from her.  We wrote the song together.  She asked me what made me feel special – was there an outfit or something – when we were brainstorming and I thought of my purple Doc Martens which I loved and which made me feel cool whenever I put them on.  So we wrote about that.  

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

Yes, our music video will be released in August!  It has been SO MUCH FUN making a video for this song.  The video tells a story and it’s funny.   I can’t wait to share it!  It even has an Easter egg referring to Emergence, the ABC TV show I starred in last year.  So for Emergence fans – definitely check it out and let me know if you see it 🙂

How was the recording and writing process?

It’s so nice now that you can work on Skype or FaceTime – so Dawn is in LA and I am at home and you can be writing in your slippers.  I also write down lyrics on my own of course – and bring them to our sessions.  I have lots of journals – and over the years – when my mom and I drove to auditions – she always handed me my journals.  So I have a habit of just creating stuff all the time.  You never know what you can use in the future!

The recording process was so much fun.  We did a lot of it time shifted and working remotely – because Dawn is in LA and we are in New Jersey.  So she worked with the musicians ahead of time and laid down the track.  

I have been writing songs and stories since I was little – at least since I was five.  We were in Arizona  on vacation and I started singing some words in the pool and my mom said – wait a minute – that’s super funny!  So she got out of the pool, got her phone, and recorded two lines.  Then we wrote more around that.  The original two lines were “Tonight we’re making Chicken with Chicken Sauce. / You won’t want to miss this party.”  Later, in New York – we had my voice teacher Bob Marks record a piano track to the melody I had come up with and I sang this song in my school talent show.  My mom encouraged me to sing an original rather than a cover.    Yes, it was quite…. bold!  

You get to work with some top notch names such as Errol Cooney and Luis Conte – what was it like work with them and how did they get to influence the song?

I knew many of the musicians because I have performed live with them in the past at Dawn’s Vocal Summit concert event in Los Angeles.  It’s wonderful to work with, collaborate with such talented and experienced musicians!  

Do you tend to take a different approach when collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?

Well, I just turned eleven so I don’t really work on my own.  I bring my ideas and I also get ideas from working with someone.   I think older musicians also work with others – creating music for me is a very collaborative process.  Also – I think recording ideas at the time when you have them – that’s something my mom has taught me.  She does standup comedy and is a writer.  Whenever she hears a good idea, something funny, something interesting, she captures it in the moment.  She does the same with me. 

What role did LA play on the writing and music on this song?

I always love going to Los Angeles – and – we recorded the song at Sunset Sound studios.  This was really cool because Prince recorded Purple Rain in the same studio.  So – I thought it was funny that my song is Purple Docs.  It’s amazing going into the main office at Sunset Sound.  The wall is covered with gold and platinum albums from so many incredible bands. Very inspiring! 

LA is such a cool place.  We went for lunch to Urth Cafe (one of our must-visit places every time we are there) and my sister Ava who is thirteen went slightly crazy when she saw Tik Tok star Addison Rae sitting at the next table.   And we go, we also like to go to the Hard Rock Cafe on Sunset – they always have a great live music or a stream of music videos playing.   We love watching old videos there – we saw Pink Floyd the Wall and Aha’s video too.  One time we also went to the Grammy Museum and there was a Johnny Cash exhibit which was super.  

With a background on acting – how would you say this experience translates into your music?

My background in acting helps me recognize the importance of storytelling. I’d realized a song is a story set to music so I knew I wanted to write a song where there was a beginning- middle- and end.  The story of the song is; I wake up, have a feeling, have an idea, go out into the world and take action! You know, just a typical day! LOL!  

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

At Sunset Sound, I also recorded  “Happy As I Wanna Be” by Micheal Jay, Nicole Anderson, Aiyana-Lee & Andre Mieux. So we would like to release that soon! I am also writing some new music, so stay tuned and follow my Instagram @alexaswinton for news of what’s next!!

Any plans to hit the road?

I would love to!  I love to travel and my family and I have been to Hawaii, Scandinavia, Latvia, Europe and across the U.S.  I also love CANADA – my dad is Canadian – and many amazing singer songwriters come from there.  For now, I will be doing a few virtual appearances including in CANADA – yay!  I will be on CHCH TV  and also on ETALK on CTV.  I am also super excited to sing live at Ryan Seacrest’s foundation for children who are in hospitals.  That will be in Nashville.  What’s cool is to be able to go to all these places without leaving your house!   

Of course – I am also super excited to sing live, in person, with an audience, once that’s possible again.

What else is happening next in Alexa Swinton’ world?

I am currently in bed writing this and also fighting with my siblings.  I LOVE to multitask!

Actually – this summer I have been working on my singing and doing lots of virtual summer camps!   I am participating in competition math, studying puppetry, writing poetry, and also playing Roblox and Sims 4- my two favorite video games in the world!  I also started a new GACHA YouTube channel so I can make stories.  My mom and I are finishing up Skylie, our YA novel, in August.   Plus – there is a movie on the horizon that will be shooting this fall,   

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