Exclusive Interview With Alexx Calise: The Singer Of One Of Maddie Ziegler’s Most Iconic Solo’s, “Cry”

So Alexx, What inspired you to try music?

My father has always been my biggest inspiration. He’s also a guitar player and singer too. When my brother and I were growing up, we’d sit on the floor and listen to my dad play and sing songs like Michelle from the Beatles and the James Bond theme. I wanted to be just like him, so naturally I picked up the guitar at 11. The rest is history.

How would you describe your musical style?

It really just depends on the project. As far as my solo project goes, a lot of folks have told me it’s reminiscent of a lot of 90’s era artists, like Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple.

My other band, SOC is more of a concept band, and we deal with more existential themes. It sounds like a mixture of Portishead, The Cure and Nine Inch Nails.

As you can probably tell from all the artists I’ve mentioned, I have a soft spot for nineties music (ha ha).

What artists do you look up to right now?

I’ve been discovering a lot of great artists lately. I’m in love with AWOLNATION, Glass Animals, Mona and Kaleo. However, my favorite band has always been and will forever be silverchair.

A big accomplishment of yours is having your song, “Cry” featured in the hit reality show, Dance Moms. How did that come about for you?

It’s kind of an interesting story. “Cry” was the sole ballad on an otherwise all electronic rock record I put out in 2010. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I noticed a whole bunch of kids were posting tribute videos using the song and doing cover versions of “Cry” on Youtube, and I wasn’t sure why. After some investigation, I learned that “Cry” had been licensed to a new show called Dance Moms (I belong with several licensing agencies which help to place indie artists’ music into film/TV), and a little girl named Maddie Ziegler did a dance routine to it. Sales went through the roof, and it even ended up charting at #64 on the iTunes rock chart, which was pretty cool.

Can you tell us what it was like to have your song featured in such a hit show? Did it have any impact on the success of the song?

It’s a pretty awesome, and also very weird at the same time. I’m always a little uncomfortable hearing my material on TV because I’m hyper critical I suppose. It’s extremely flattering though! Because of the exposure “Cry” got on that show (as well as some of my other songs like Home Again, Survive, Out of Sight, etc), it significantly impacted sales of course, and it definitely helped to expand my fan base. I guess I can accredit a lot of my success to Dance Moms, so for that I’m thankful.

What has it been like working so closely with Nia, Kendall, Maddie, Kenzie, Abby and the cast of Dance Moms over the years?

It’s been pretty awesome. They’re all amazingly talented dancers, and I really admire their work ethic and ability. I never would have thought in a million years that I’d end up in a world like this, especially being such a crap dancer myself (ha ha), but I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

You recently released a music video for your hit single, “Breathe”. Both the song and music video are amazing. What is the story behind that song?

Well thank you! As far as the story behind the song, I wanted to create something that had a positive message, because the world has been absolutely starving for it. There has been so much negativity and hate swirling, especially over the recent election, and I think people just feel disenfranchised in general these days. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing negative social media posts and news headlines, and I’m tired of feeling isolated. I wrote “Breathe” to reassure myself that it’ll all be okay. We’re living in a fairly dark and tumultuous time in history right now, but nothing lasts forever. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can find the good in just about anything so long as you take the time to look for it.

How did Nia become apart of both the vocals and the music video?

After working with Nia on an episode of Dance Moms in which she sang “Cry” with me on stage during one of my shows, I really connected with her, and thought it would be cool to work with her further. She has a lot of potential vocally speaking, and I thought she’d be a great addition to the song. I think our voices blended really well together. Naturally, I wanted her to dance in the video as well because that’s her main thing!

What inspired the idea for the music video?

Nia is my muse of sorts in the video. She’s kind of the white light in the video, the “breath of fresh air”. I’m more on the contemplative side; I’m wondering when that bright light will show its face. I wanted Gianna (the choreographer) to have Nia do some contemporary choreography mixed with some lyrical since that’s one of Nia’s strong suits. It’s a very romantic and emotive piece, and some of the best dancing I’ve seen out of Nia.

Whats the process to make a “Alexx” music video?

Well, since I do everything independently (and usually by myself, ha ha), there’s a bunch of things to put together. Most importantly, you have to find a great director and editor/colorist, put together a storyboard, secure a location, gather any extras, and then garner some sponsors who could potentially contribute in some way to the video (for example, Chipotle and Jersey Mikes provided the catering for the Breathe video shoot). It’s pretty exhausting, but the end product is always awesome.

Do you plan to work with any of the girls from Dance Moms again in the future?

Absolutely! They’re all wonderful girls, and they’re always such a pleasure to work with. As a matter of fact, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more in the not too distant future!

What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your fans?

Probably Facebook (I know, I’m old!). I think it’s a little more personal than say Twitter or Instagram. You can actually complete a thought without having to adhere to character restrictions. You can keep up with me at facebook.com/alexxcalisemusic!

Does your fanbase have a name?

The Alexx Calise Police!

How do you want your relationship to be with your fans?

I just want to be a positive role model for them, and I want them to feel like they can reach out to me. Kids these days have so few positive forces to look up to. A lot of the “role models” of today are vacuous, Insta-famous, self-involved people who contribute very little to society apart from selfies. I like to this I have a little more to offer than that.

What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?

I wouldn’t say I’ve had really crazy fan encounters thankfully, but I’ve had several fans draw or paint photos of me, which is really cool and flattering. I guess there’s still plenty of time for a truly crazy encounter, ha ha!

What feeling do you get when your fans are singing back to you?

That’s just about the coolest thing ever. To connect with someone on that deep of a level is extremely humbling, and it just makes my heart well up. It truly makes all the years of struggling and personal sacrifice worth it.

Whats your favorite song to perform live?

Probably Morning Pill. I’ve been performing that song live since I was 16 years old, and it’s always the song that I close with. It just has so much raw emotion, and I totally lose myself in it. That song more than any other one I’ve written has stood the test of time for me, and it never gets old. I still go back to the place I was in when I wrote it every time I perform it. It’s an out of body experience.

Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?

Always! I have another project called SOC (with my best friend and songwriting partner, Dennis Morehouse), and we will be releasing a new single in the upcoming months, which is a cover of “6 Underground” by Sneaker Pimps.

Dennis and I also write a lot of music for film and TV as well, so it’s safe to say I always have a ton of irons in the fire!

What so far has been the best experience for you in this career?

It’s hard to say which experience in particular has been the best, but I guess highlights would include appearing on Dance Moms, doing both of my music videos with Maddie Ziegler and Nia Sioux, playing in Nissan, Guitar Center and Line 6 commercials, and having my music on national TV. What I love about my life and my career is that you just never know what’s going to happen next. Every day is kind of an adventure. Like I said before, I never would have imagined I’d be involved in any capacity with the dance world, and yet here I am. Whatever semblance of “the dream” it is, I truly feel like I am living the dream.

What’s an average day for “Alexx” look like?

I’m kind of a creature of habit. I get up, check my emails, run on the treadmill or at the park, start doing my usual PR stuff, rehearse or write, book tours or appearances, and then pass out about midnight or one if I’m lucky.

What goals have you set out for yourself in your career and in your personal life?

I’d ideally love to be touring the world, I’d love for my label to absolutely take off and help jump start the careers of other hard working musicians, and I’d love to be writing music for the rest of my life for myself and others. Writing is what I truly love to do more than anything. As far as personal life, I’d like to get married at least once, ha ha. Just to say I tried it 😉

How has this whole music career experience been?

It’s been a ride to say the very least. Making the decision to be a career musician was the smartest and stupidest decision I’ve ever made in my life. It’s fraught with struggle and sacrifice, and I routinely throw the dice when it comes to career decisions and investments, but there is also so much joy in playing and performing for me. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I can’t do anything else. I’d only be half a person. It’s everything I am.

Do you have any advice for aspiring music artists?

I’d say do it for the love, and nothing else. There’s so little money in music these days, and it’s hard to make an impact when literally anyone can record songs on their laptop and upload it on to Youtube or Soundcloud. If however, it’s in your blood and bones, and there’s nothing else you can possibly ever do, go for it. Just be willing to put yourself on a chopping block, because there is so much sacrifice, and so much involved in getting your music out there. Be willing to do whatever it takes to make people care, because no one is going to care as much as you.

Last thing, Do you have anything you want to tell your fans?

Yes! Please keep up with me on social media! Here are some links:

Facebook.com/alexxcalisemusic

Youtube.com/alexxcalisemusic

Twitter.com/alexxcalise

Instagram.com/alexxcalise

Soundcloud.com/alexxcalise

 

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