Alexx Calise’s is Your All American Women

As a child growing up isn't always easy but in Alexx Calise's case Florida where she use to call home she found comfort not only by her parents but by the sounds of music. At 11, she picked up the guitar and hasn't looked back since. Her talent of raw emotion and fusing energy is what made her the women she is today and now that she is living in a whole another place California, Los Angeles is her home base and what she calls home. Calise's music has taken control and several paths not just her alternative punk rock side but an even darker side with her side project Sound of Cancer who just released their debut LP this past Halloween "No Vampires in Gilroy".

But returning to Calise's current outreach and musically outlet, her music has appeared on numerous television networks, Lifetime’s “Dance Moms”, VH1’s “Audrina,” MTV’s “Next”, the CW’s “One Tree Hill”, and will be featured in a feature film, “LA, I Hate You” starring Malcolm McDowell and William Forsythe. If that's not going for her she has also been featured in various music magazines such as Blender, Guitar Player, and Guitar World. Let's not forget the how-to/method book, "How to Succeed as a Female Musician" (alongside such notable musicians as Lisa Loeb and The Donnas), and she is endorsed by over 13 music gear/clothing manufacturers. Calise has also appeared in several special programs such as Disney’s Science of Imagineering educational DVD series and the Discovery Channel’s “Science of Sex Appeal”, and she has lent her voice to numerous promos and commercials, including a recent Coachella promo video directed by Sam O’Hare. There is nothing this woman cannot do.

Well music is her specialty and since 2007's "Morning Pill" there just so happens to be a follow-up entitled "In Avanti", released last year. Calise goes into detail about her latest release, how the fame has taken to her personally and how she wants to focus not just on her music but Sound of Cancer’s musical path as well.

1. So you’re an independent music artist. How has that been for you?

Alexx: It definitely has its benefits in that you’re your own master and you really don’t have to answer to anyone necessarily, but it’s also an extremely difficult and arduous road. One thing is for certain as an indie artist (and you can also apply this to life): no one is going to care as much as you, so it’s up to you to make things happen for yourself and achieve your own success. Most every deal I’ve procured (or publication I’ve ever appeared in) is a direct result of my own hard work and blood, sweat and tears, so you’ve got to be willing to put in the hard work and effort. One of the most rewarding things about being an indie artist however is the fact that you’re the one responsible for your own successes, no one else.

2. What can you tell me about your song writing process, what does your content consist of? Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?

Alexx: Sometimes a song comes to me pretty easily (for example, my song, “Cry” was written in about a half hour), and other times, it’ll take me days to come up verse or chorus, or write lyrics that I feel are worth a damn (my song, “Release Me” was one of those songs). It can be very painstaking.

The content is usually dictated by my mood or whatever force of nature it is that allows me to create. I had a few toxic relationships that provided me with some good material for a while there, but I’ve moved on from that now, and I’ve been writing some really esoteric, introspective stuff lately. I don’t want to keep rehashing the same things; I want to keep growing as an artist.

3. What about your popularity? You've been featured in an array of magazines from Guitar Player to Blender. How does being promoted and populated like this make you feel from the inside out?

Alexx: I truly feel blessed and honored that people think my music is worth promoting or writing about. I write music for myself because it’s what I love to do and all I know how to do (and it’s also extremely cathartic), so it’s nice to be recognized and praised for something that comes naturally to me, and is an extension of myself.

4. Your music has also been featured in television shows and films such as, One Tree Hill, MTV's Next, VH1's Tough Love. Who contacted who and has this affected you as a person in any way or changed you at all?

Alexx: I’m affiliated with several different music licensing agencies. Music licensing agencies help to place independent artists’ music into film, television, commercials, and more. I wouldn’t say that having my music in different shows or films has changed me as a person in any way, but it’s definitely helped to boost my career and generate awareness about my music, which is great. I’ve found licensing to be the most effective way to get my music out there and of course build a stronger fan base.

5. Tell me about your song "Cry". It has been played on 3 episodes of Lifetime's "Dance Moms" and VH1's "Audrina". Are you a fan of these programs? Do you ever get so excited that your music is being broadcasted in this way, that you run up to your television set and crack it up and dance around in pure joy?

Alexx: To be honest, it’s extremely surreal. I never really get used to it, and it’s always a bit weird to hear my music on a major show or commercial. That being said, I’m also extremely flattered that someone thinks my music is cool enough to use for something of that magnitude. It’s a huge honor for sure, and I feel very lucky.
I hadn’t really seen too many episodes of Dance Moms or Audrina before my music aired on the shows to be honest, but now I catch myself watching Dance Moms sometimes because I became a fan of one of the little girls, Maddie Ziegler, who actually danced to “Cry” (she’s a phenomenal dancer with serious star potential), and it just hooks you. The kids are almost secondary (not because of their lack of talent) to what goes on between the moms and the dance teacher.

6. What about the industry? You say you’re an unsigned artist--or has that changed and you’ve gotten yourself a deal in place?

Alexx: I’m an unsigned artist at the moment because I haven’t yet found someone to pair myself with. I’ve gotten some offers in the past, but nothing yet that has been palatable enough for me to give up a large percentage of my publishing (or a whole assortment of other things) without some kind of return. I know I can’t do everything myself forever (it’s already quite a load as it is right now), but until I feel that the deal is beneficial for both parties involved, I’ll remain an indie artist.

7. In Avanti is your second album to date, how does it compare to your previous release? Is there a similarity or are they both different no matter how you look at them?

Alexx: In Avanti is drastically different from my first record in that it’s much more mature and thoughtful in terms of thematic content. There was a 3-year gap between both records, so that’s bound to happen—I became an adult, you know?

The production is also extraordinarily different. In Avanti was produced by Luigie Gonzalez, who has worked with Madonna, Shakira, The Killers and The Veronicas. I thought it would make for an interesting pairing in that my influences are primarily rock and grunge, and Lu loves dance and Electronica.

I think there are definitely similarities between the two records in terms of songwriting. While I think my songwriting has gotten better since the first record, I definitely have my “thing”. As my dad has put it, I do a lot of “lyrical compression”. I guess I just have a lot to say, haha. I’m also big into melody because I love pop music. A song isn’t a song without a hook I believe.

8. Why the name In Avanti? What does that even mean? Do you have a story to tell about where its name came from and what the meaning is behind it?

Alexx: In Avanti is Italian for “onward”. I thought the title was apropos because I was growing up and moving on from (as well as moving toward) a lot of things in my life. I wanted it to reflect the shedding of my skin, and my metamorphosis into adulthood.

9. What was your first concert experience? Do you remember how you felt once the concert was over?

Alexx: I do believe that one of my first concerts was the Beach Boys. They were just awesome, and just as good as they were in their heyday--incredible harmonies and fantastic musicianship (and talk about career longevity!). I remember being completely blown away and inspired by their talent as a kid.

10. Did you grow up wanting to play music, or when did the whole making albums thing come about and how?

Alexx: Well, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I just didn’t know what capacity I’d end up writing in. I picked up guitar at 11 mostly to facilitate my writings, but I ended up falling in love with the instrument in the process. It just seemed to be the most logical step. I loved writing and I loved music, so I decided to become a songwriter.

I played as a solo artist for a number of years and made some crude little demos, and then I put together my first real band at 18 (the band dissolved, but I’m sure our EP is floating around somewhere on the internet). My first full-length album I ever recorded was actually “Morning Pill”.

11. Have you ever cried while listening to music? If so what were you listening too?

Alexx: It isn’t often that a song will evoke that kind of emotion for me, but every now and then, I hear a song that just tugs relentlessly at my heartstrings and won’t let go. Most recently, I heard one of those kinds of songs: “Skyscraper” from Demi Lovato. The performance and arrangement is just fantastic, and it’s a wonderfully written, emotive song. My brother just passed away on September 17th and it’s actually been helping me through it. It’s a song about self-preservation and strength, and not allowing anyone or anything to take you down. Every time I listen to it, it literally takes my breath away.

12. If you could re-record, or re-write any song of yours what would that song be?

Alexx: There are a few that I wouldn’t mind taking another crack at in the future. For example, “Throw Your Words” I’d like to hear a little more rockin’ (with crunchier guitars) than on my first record. I’d also love to do a live version of “Morning Pill”. However, I’m not dissatisfied with the previous productions at all. While it would be fun to revisit those songs, I’d much rather move on and continue writing new material.

13. What do you have planned for the future? Do you plan on celebrating the upcoming holiday season?

Alexx: Right now, I’m concentrating on really getting my other band, Sound of Cancer’s record out there. My songwriting partner, Dennis Morehouse and I spent 3 long, hard years writing and recording it, but we both think it’s our best work to date. It’s much different than my solo material—very artistic, brooding, mournful—but I think it will really speak to a lot of kids who feel different and alone (much like how we did when we were younger) and who want to hear something that’s a little more raw and emotive.

I’ve also started pre-production on my 3rd solo record as of last week actually, so I’m sure I’ll be holed up in my studio for the next several months. As far as holiday plans, Den and I may be visiting my family in New York this year, which will be nice since we never really have an opportunity to all hang together.

14. What do you hope to find under your Christmas tree? Have any New Year's resolutions?

Alexx: I honestly don’t feel like I need anything (in terms of material things) for Christmas; I’m just jazzed that I’ll be around the people I love. As far as resolutions go, I’m resolving to be an even better musician and human being. There’s always something to improve and expand upon.

15. If you had your life to live over again, what one thing would you change?

Alexx: I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I really do believe that my past experiences, good and bad have made me who I am today. You need to make mistakes, and you need to learn how to pick yourself back up when you fall. It builds character and makes you a stronger person.

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