Having left a trail of broken hearts in his wake, Alexander 23 follows up his spellbinding singles with the drop of his debut album — leaving us all with a feeling of Aftershock. Featuring the deeply personal “Hate Me If It Helps”, in which Alexander allows himself to be made the villain in order to appease the person he loves, the entire effort is reflective of the indie-pop artist’s sombre approach to songwriting — that leaves us feeling a kaleidoscope of emotions while ensuring we never feel alone.
From unrequited love in “The Hardest Part” to the elation of new-found love in “If We Were A Party”, Aftershock feels less like an album and more like an intimate diary entry — carefully documenting the natural ups and downs that love, and life in general, can bring.
To mark the release of the album, we sat with Alexander 23 to discuss his favourite singles so far, his experience writing Aftershock and the possibilities of the future. To stream the track and for the full interview, head below now…
Hey, Alexander 23! How is it going?
Going great! Just had a dirty matcha latte. I recently found out about those, they’re great! Life is good!
What have been your peaks and pits of the year so far? Any standout moments?
I think the peak was touring with John Mayer who has been such a hero of mine for so long. The pit would have to be just some of the horrible things that have been happening lately in this country.
Let’s start at the beginning, how did you first get into music? What sparked your interest?
I first got into playing music when I was nine years old. I saw my dad playing the guitar and immediately thought I needed to learn to play an instrument so I could be in a band.
If you had to describe your sound with one word (musical or not), what would it be?
Did you naturally find your sound or did you have to experiment a lot first?
Definitely took tons of experimentation, especially since all of my early work was entirely self-produced. I spent many, many hours driving myself crazy thinking about how I wanted to present myself to the world. It wasn’t until I made Dirty AF1s that I felt like I had found my sound.
You’ve actually featured on our weekly Wonderlist quite a few times, what has been your favourite single release and why?
I think so far “Hate Me If It Helps” has been my favourite single off this cycle. I hadn’t released music in a long time and felt like it was the right way to reintroduce myself and my music. I’m really proud of every dimension of that song, lyrics, production, performance, arrangement, etc.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Aftershock! Can you give us some insight into the album’s title?
Thank you! This album is primarily about a breakup but more so about the like after-effects and grieving process of that relationship. I like to say that if the breakup was the emotional earthquake, the creation of this album was the emotional aftershock.
What was your main goal while writing it?
I very much wanted to make an album. I had released two previous projects that I love but felt like were more collections of singles. Writing a proper album gave me the space to explore new territories both sonically and lyrically.
Who did you first play the album to? What was their reaction like?
My manager and best friend, Andrew. He’s incredibly supportive of whatever avenues I want to explore creatively, but also incredibly honest. I trust him a lot both personally and professionally and having his holistic support was really important to me.
Are there any elements of your artistry that you would like to explore that you haven’t yet?
I mean yeah, I feel like there is so much out there for me to explore musically. I definitely want to dig even further into guitar playing, but also want to experiment with more dance-inspired stuff. I don’t know. I’ll never know until I do!
And finally what’s next for you? Do you have any specific long or short-term goals?
I’m excited to finally make new music again. I’m so proud of this album, but I’ve been living with it for so long and I’m ready to get back in the studio.