Interview: Stefan Alexander
Just before the release of his EP, Cry Again, Galaxy Magazine got the opportunity to ask singer/songwriter Stefan Alexander a few questions about the process of making the EP, and the struggles he faced while creating it. Cry Again is out now and available on all common streaming platforms.
Your EP, Cry Again, is so close to being released after 5 years of songwriting. How does it feel to finally be here at this point after all that time?
It feels incredible that the release is finally here. It’s yet another benchmark for me in my recovery from the years of illness that kept me from singing and performing. It’s also a time capsule for that time in my life. I’m so excited to finally share it with everyone.
During all that time, you were also dealing with the diagnosis of Central Sensitization Syndrome. How did your music help you to cope with the pain and frustration you must’ve been feeling, both emotionally and physically?
The most difficult part about that time in my life was not being able to make music. I was going through so many different emotions, feelings I would have processed through songwriting and performing, but without those abilities, I bottled a lot of things up. Now after my recovery, having those emotional outlets back is such a gift. I have a much deeper appreciation for my health and my music-making.
Your music definitely has pop hints to it, as well as a few different subgenres of pop. How did you develop this style of songwriting? Who are you inspired by?
My initial songwriting education actually came from the grassroots folk festivals of my childhood and my love of indie music as a teenager. I also became obsessed with older music later in high school, listening to everyone from Billie Holiday to Joni Mitchell, from Nick Drake to Jackie Wilson. This classic style of writing is at the core of my aesthetic. I also love modern artists like Troye Sivan, Wrabel, Phoebe Ryan, and Carly Rae Jepsen.
One of the new tracks off of your EP, “Up and Away,” expresses having power as an individual specifically from a political standpoint. Can you go more in depth on how important this is in a time like right now where there is so much division among people?
I definitely came at this song from a progressive political mindset. I see so much wrong with this country and the world at a foundational level, but in this time of great division and turmoil, it’s also an opportunity for systemic change. In light of everything that’s happened over the last few years, it’s easy to get demoralized and jaded, but staying the course is more important now than ever. In the past, I’ve been afraid to tackle a political song, worried about trivializing the situation by putting it to music, but I wrote this song with the hopes of reminding myself and listeners of the power we all have as citizens, especially when we work together.
A lot of the songs on Cry Again talk about the struggles of understanding and trying to fit in with your own generation's culture. “Photograph” hits on dating apps and how impersonal they are. What are some other aspects of this topic that frustrate you, or things you wish would change?
Dating apps are certainly impersonal, but they also tap into our romantic imaginations in a way that can be unhealthy. At the same time, they’ve connected me with people I never would have met without the platforms. I know plenty of long term, loving couples that met on Tinder, Hinge, etc. As with most new technology, they have their pros and cons. I’m not sure how exactly they can be changed to improve them, but “Photograph” is a reflection on the darker side of the apps, without negating all their positive aspects. They are especially important for folks in the queer community or anyone else that may have a hard time finding romantic partners IRL.
Is there anything else that you’d like to include?
If I can do anything with my music, my songwriting and my platform as an artist, I hope to encourage people to be vulnerable with one another, especially during these difficult days of quarantine. It’s more important now than ever that we express what we’re feeling to one another, no matter how dark and fatalistic those feelings may be. We’re all going through this together, so even if we can’t be together, we can at least support one another emotionally.