Meet the Canadian wunderkind waving goodbye to adolescence on his sophomore EP – Cobalt.
Alex Frew is the Canadian singer-songwriter soundtracking the lives of the next generation. Tackling heartache, growth, self-discovery, substance abuse and pretty much anything else you go through as a teen, Frew’s words are ones of wisdom and hope, set over head-rushing melodies and spine-tingling pop.
Finding himself hooked on music from an early age, be it the guitar or piano, by the time he was 15, Frew had no trouble crafting entire masterpieces of his own. Each song was just as emotive and soul-searching as the last, with his latest single, “9 Feet Tall”, being no different. The track signals the release of his sophomore EP Cobalt, itself a bittersweet culmination of the singers’ last few years as a teenager. “Writing music has always been my way of coping, and there’s plenty to cope with when you’re trying to navigate your way through high school,” Frew tells us.
He’s not wrong either, it’s bloody hard out here for a teen. You try bearing the burden of the omniscient social media gods whilst trying to find yourself amidst a global pandemic, it’s enough to make you go crazy. Frew landed on Cobalt because of its associations with the project’s hard-hitting themes and entire sonic palette, dealing with introversion, depression, and the search for romance over 6 punch-packing tunes. “The colour Cobalt represents the moody, blue emotion that inspired the creation of this project,” Frew elaborates, “and has stuck with me for the past several years.”
We caught up with Frew below, digging deep into his artistic process, surrounding influences and so much more. Take a look…
Hi Alex – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
Hey! Every musician I know is struggling right now in some way, so its definitely been a very difficult time for the industry. If anything, I would say this period has been quite detrimental to the creative process. While I have many hours on my hands to create, I find that there is an increased pressure to pump out tons of music, and there isn’t a lot of inspiration to go along with that. I’m used to writing about the interactions I have with the world on a daily basis, so having that torn away has really slowed my process down. With that being said, it is incredibly rewarding to just be able to focus in your craft, so there is definitely merit to both perspectives.
How did growing up in Toronto influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
I consider myself extremely lucky to be from such a vibrant, artistic city. Growing up here has had a profound impact on my music, and a lot of the sounds I pursue throughout my music are in direct relation to that, whether that is sonically, or lyrically. Throughout my youth, Feist and Broken Social Scene were some of the most important artists in my library, so having that Toronto connection with them is just really special.
Congratulations on your new song “9ft Tall” – what was it inspired by?
Thanks! This song was actually written 4 or 5 years ago now, and it’s simply about feeling close with those around you, and finding a sense of belonging on a cold Toronto night with a group of friends. So overall, I’m just super excited to finally get in out into the world.
And it’s taken from your upcoming EP Cobalt – why that name?
The name Cobalt is derived from the colour and feeling that defined the emotions that went into the creation of this project. Mainly dealing with issues such as mental health and social anxiety, it provided the moody, blue backdrop that has come to define the sonic palette of this record, and I’m ecstatic with the result.
What ties all the singles together into a body of work?
Primarily, I believe it’s the subject matter of the EP that really makes it a cohesive body of work. The topics and issues presented in each song contrast directly with one another in a way that tells a story of adolescence, and all of the uncertainty and doubt that comes along with that, so hopefully you’ll feel the same after listening!
Heartache, self-doubt, self-criticism, growth, coming of age – your music encompasses a whole range of personal and raw themes – talk us through your songwriting process and how you pick what you want to bring to life?
I usually work by just documenting the ideas that come to me on a daily basis, and eventually take those ideas into a studio or session with other writers and producers, in order to help the concept or idea reach its full potential. So whether it’s the feeling that had a major effect on my day, or a daydream of a different world, it is all just recorded “train of consciousness” style, and then simply refined in a more professional setting. Mostly, I tend to write songs acoustically, and then reimagine them in the demo stage, rather than working on everything from the ground up.
How does it feel releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring?
It’s an incredibly strange feeling putting out music and then not playing it live, but I’m holding out hope that the advent of performing is just around the corner. Honestly, I just waiting for the day I get that glorious vaccine, so I can begin to share this project with people in person.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Shows! Before all of this craziness went down, we had put together an awesome live show to support the record, so that’s basically the only thing I’ve been dreaming of. That being said, my new EP is out, so be sure to stay tuned for some awesome content!