I have been speaking with Alexis Keegan…
about her new track, Gospel, and whether there is a story behind it. She tells me how she got into music and which artists have been most influential; a few albums that she holds dear and whether there are any tour dates coming up.
Keegan talks about future material and which memory from her career so far stands in the mind; which rising artists we need to get behind; what advice she would give to musicians coming through at the moment – I ask how she chills away from music.
Hi, Alexis. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! My week has been awesome. Had a viewing party last night for my new music video which was so fun!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m just a girl currently living in Los Angeles who loves R&B and believes music can change lives like it changed mine. Also; I’m a dog mom to the cutest Puggle named George. Haha
Gospel is your new single. What inspired the song? Does it come from a personal perspective?
After spending many years writing and recording songs about heartbreak, I was so ready to put out something that wasn’t about my broken heart: I just wasn’t in that place anymore. I was working on my upcoming E.P. with producer Andrew Williams and we called in my friend Dom Williams to co-write a few songs. At the beginning of our first session, Dom said that he wanted to play us a song he had written that he thought I would like.
As someone who always has a hand in the writing, I was on the fence about it. But, once I heard this song, I was so blown away and had to record it. I grew up in a gospel choir but am not very religious so I LOVED the way this song had the Gospel-Soul feel without it being a religious song. I also loved the lyrics of basically telling someone to get their actions right or they will be kicked to the curb. We wanted to create a female version of CeeLo’s Forget You…just a super-fun, sassy; attitude-filled song.
What sort of music did you grow up around? Did music come into your life quite early?
I was obsessed with big Soul voices growing up…all the greats like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey; Aretha Franklin and then, later on, Christina Aguilera. I also really loved The Beach Boys. Their harmonies are insane. I have such amazing memories of going to a Beach Boys concert every summer with my dad. It was such a childhood highlight.
I love your vocal and its raw edges. Is it quite hard to get your found sounding like that?
Oh, thank you so much! I think growing up listening to those Soul singers; I just kind of pulled them into my own style.
Do you think there will be more material coming down the line?
Definitely! The plan is to release a full E.P. at the beginning of next year.
Can you remember when you decided to go into music? Was there a single moment where you knew you had to follow it?
I have always loved music and have wanted to be a singer my entire life but, when I was little, I was really shy. I would sing, but locked in my bedroom into a hairbrush with no one watching. Things changed a lot when I was in seventh grade. When I was twelve-years-old; my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I truly believe listening to music was the thing that got me through it. I would listen to Mariah Carey's Butterfly over and over again. Something about it just spoke to me in a special way. Towards my dad's last stage, I sang the song for him and he responded and smiled.
From that moment forward, I made a promise to myself that I would use my voice and music to help people get through hard times the way that music helped me. From there, when I entered high-school, I joined the MLK Jr. Gospel Choir where I became the only Caucasian member and one of the lead singers. It was one of the best experiences of my whole life and really brought my out of my shell. It was the priority for my life from that moment forward.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
One memory that sticks out in my mind is the first show of the first tour I ever did. I opened for Ron Pope and the first show of the tour was in Philadelphia. Since I am from New Jersey and I went to college in Philadelphia, my whole family and so many friends came out. This was also a sold-out show so it was just insanity! One of the coolest nights of my life.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
The first album I was ever obsessed with was Mariah Carey’s Music Box album
I remember having it on a cassette tape and it really was the first taste I got of a female that could REALLY sing.
Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits album is definitely on the list
I played that so much that it literally stopped playing. Haha. In high-school, my friends didn’t want to drive with me anywhere because I only played that album. Whitney is just my ultimate queen and such a huge influence on wanting to be a singer. I wish I could have had the chance to meet her.
The third album and probably the most important is Mariah Carey’s Butterfly
Because that song is one of the reasons I got through my dad passing away.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Oh, wow. The dream would be to open for Mariah Carey! Since she plays such a huge role in my life, that would just be a dream come true. I’m excited even thinking about it. Haha.
My rider would be pretty minimal. Probably would just need bottled water, hot tea with honey and some gluten-free pretzels (I have a small addiction. Haha).
Can we see you tour soon? Where are you playing?
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Early on, the things I was told and what appeared to be most important is likeability and physical appearance. As a teen, I put a lot of pressure on myself to look good because that’s what the magazines told me. To be a young girl and to feel the need to focus on sex appeal, I now know it doesn’t matter who you are; what you look like or where you come from…the most important thing is focusing on what you’re passionate about, what makes you truly happy and staying true to yourself. I would tell new artists to focus on those important things.
IN THIS PHOTO: Maren Morris/PHOTO CREDIT: Austin Hargrave : Photographer
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Because music is my everything; I have to make a conscious effort to unplug and take a break sometimes. And Los Angeles is such a busy city that it can get exhausting. My favorite thing to do is drive up to a little wine country area a couple hours outside of L.A. - the towns are Solvang and Los Olivos. It’s so quaint and beautiful. Plus, I love wine (smiles). It’s really nice to go up there a few times a year just to clear my head and relax; wine in one hand, dog in the other.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I feel like dancing so let’s blast Whitney Houston -I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)!
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