We get to know local singer Alexandra May over a cup of coffee (or two)

2017-09-21 12:05

Cape Town – If you haven’t heard the name Alexandra May yet, be sure to remember it.

I meet Alexandra for coffee in Cape Town. I introduce myself, we chat about the weather. She finishes a takeaway coffee as a new cup of coffee arrives. "I love coffee!" she explains. I like her already. 

At just 21 years old, the bundle of determined energy that is singer Alexandra has already amassed a lot of experience in the music and theatre industry. It’s been exactly a year since the release of her debut EP One, and now she’s back with a brand new single and video titled Like You Do.

A feel-good pop ditty, Like You Do is sure to be one of this summer’s top dance tracks. Alexandra lets us in on what the new single is about, how she decided on music as a career and whether we can expect an album soon.

This is what Alexandra revealed over a cup of coffee: 

On her new single:

I'm discovering new bits of me that I didn’t really know and so this song is essentially that. It’s a weird thing, because I was just released from my contract with David Gresham Records. I was signed to them since I was 18, and then we recently parted ways. It was a mutual decision, they’ve been a great team with great support, and I just thought, it’s an opportunity to do something different, try something new. I’m 21, so I might as well do it while I can and just have some fun. So, being independent has been a really interesting journey. 

Honestly, it’s the first song that I’ve completely written in a way. My first two singles were written for me and so this is now... this is my baby. This is a true testament to my journey, it’s something that’s a growing space for me, it’s something that I’ve written from the heart with people that believe in me and my journey, and that have encourage me. So the song, there’s a lot of weight behind the song.

I worked with a producer called Greg Carlin, who’s part of Zebra and Giraffe. We’re very close, I’ve known him since I was 15. We both went through a programme called The Africa Voices Trust. Greg and I both went through the programme at separate times, so we have a deep understanding, we connect really well. And I remember walking into his home, at his home studio. We tried a few things and eventually he picks up his guitar and he goes tjiekie tjiekie (guitar sound), and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh oh my gosh, that’s it, record record!’ And we spent the rest of the afternoon playing, I went home and he essentially sent me like a backing track of it, of what he’d sort of created that night. I spent the next day writing, it was done in like one day. The song was made in one day. It was amazing!

On whether we can expect a new album soon:

I’m working on it, I’m constantly writing things. Being a musician, it’s a full time job, so I’m writing and I’m working. Right now I’m focusing on a few gigs coming up here in Cape Town. But I am writing, I’m working with two producers at the moment on two separate projects, so, new music is in the pipeline. I don’t have a date, honestly, I’m really wanting to take the time to enjoy it. I mean Like You Do was amazing, because it happened and worked out so organically and perfectly and it happened quick enough, but I enjoyed the space of taking the time to know exactly the type of music I want to create and it’s going to constantly evolve. That’s what I’m doing with these next two projects, taking the time to create it and mould it and so hopefully next year I’m aiming for an album. That’s the goal. But I need to get there first. 

On her new 7-piece band:

It’s the most amazing feeling to perform with such a big band. When I was 14, 15, 16, I used to sing opera, and a few times I got to sing with orchestras. And to sing an Aria with the orchestra behind you, nothing beats it. It’s a warmth, of just like the air that comes behind you. And that’s what I needed for my career now, I needed the opportunity to have that complete warmth and something stable behind me, It gives me this brilliant platform to perform and to do what I love to do. 

It’s actually made up of a guy called Keith McFarlane, he was in the 80s band called Face to Face.  I think they were called the next Duran Duran, or the South African version of Duran Duran. So he’s big in the industry, and he’s great. And his daughter, who’s 19 is my electric guitarist, she’s this blond bombshell, she’s just beautiful! My drummer is Daniel Mhlanga, my bassist is Kieran John, then I’ve got Steven de Longchamps, he’s pretty much, I call him my rock. He’s a close personal friend of mine, been there through everything with me, we go to church together, like that sort of relationship. And he’s sort of guitar, and backing vocals and everything. He’s played for Kelly Clarkson, The Script, like he’s done all of those. And then there’s my sister who’s also in my band. She plays pads and also sings backing vocals. 

On that moment she picked music as a career:

I worked my butt off. I failed millions of times, I failed, failed, failed and failed. I think I was 7 years old, I remember the moment, we were at piano lessons, and the piano teacher asked my sister, ‘Ah why don’t you try singing Isabella’, and she was like, ‘Okay’. And she sang Bare Necessities, and she went to the Eisteddfod, she won a gold, she was like 5 or 6 at the time, she’s two years younger than me. So the next practice she was singing, and I was like, I wanna try that as well, so my teacher was like, okay come on, and I tried it. 

I did vocal exercises for 45 minutes every single day, it didn’t matter how bad I was feeling, every single day, holidays, weekends. I worked. I was 14 years old and I came back to that competition, and I won my first award, which was triple threat at SA champs and that meant I got the best mark for singing, acting and modelling. And the next year I won grand champion vocal, I won grand champion vocal again the next year, so I think it was when I was 14 that I thought, ‘I’m so tired of being second best, I want to prove that I’m good enough’. And this was my thing, I want to prove people wrong, I love that. So it was at 14, 15, that I just knew this is what I want.

On what she’s currently listening to:

The new Taylor Swift songs, I love those! Like I can’t get enough of them. It took me awhile to get into Look What You Made Me Do, because it was so different. But I love the music video, I just love what she’s doing, her music is just evolving. That’s the thing about music, it’s pop, she’s still who she is, but she’s creating her own space, she’s still pop princess, but she’s really creating and showing her influences, and I love that. At the moment I’m also listening to Shortstraw’s Those Meddling Kids, the new album, I’m so in love with Shortstraw, it’s so stupid. But I’m in love with them! 

On the one thing no one knows about her:

I don’t think there’s like one thing that no one knows about me, but I do have weird habits I think. I’m addicted to the smell of cinnamon, not addicted, not addicted! But one of my favourite treats is a cappuccino with cinnamon. 

*Alexandra is performing at Café Roux in Cape Town tonight. Click here for all the details.

You can also catch her at the following venues:

For updates like her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

Read more on:    local music

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