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Original Content
Posted by Dani-Dee Monday, November 28, 2022

EXCLUSIVE
[INTERVIEW] AleXa talks ‘Girls Gone Vogue,’ working with Jeff Satur, and performing back home in Oklahoma

AKP STAFF

2022 was a big year for AleXa. From winning ABC’s ‘American Song Contest’ in May to appearances on ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show,’ the ‘Billboard Music Awards,’ and even ‘SNL Korea,’ the ZB Label artist spent much of the year drawing in new fans both in Korea, her current residence, and her home country of the United States.

The hard work paid off. After many years of releasing music as a K-pop artist, AleXa was able to perform at a number of international events this year as well as return to the States for a successful eight-city tour.

Through her new album ‘Girls Gone Vogue,’ led by its confident title track "Back in Vogue," she reveals a solid track list of songs spanning wider genres and demonstrating her artistic growth. The album is not only her best-selling mini album thus far, but it also features songwriting and composing credits as well as collaborations with MAMAMOO’s Moon Byul (“Star”) and Thai actor/singer Jeff Satur (“Please Try Again”).

To discuss the new album, as well as the second half of an exciting year, AleXa met up with allkpop for an exclusive interview.

ALLKPOP: As ‘Girls Gone Vogue’ is your first full-fledged comeback since ‘American Song Contest,’ what specifically would you like to show your fans and the public in general through this new release?

ALEXA: With the ‘Girls Gone Vogue’ album, and specifically “Back in Vogue” being promoted, I really would like to showcase a more chic, more mature, and a bit more feminine image to my fans. But sonically, through the actual music itself and through the tracks that we have on the album, I just want to showcase the fact that I'm a diverse artist and that I can do multiple genres. I'm not just a one trick pony who does loud music – you know, there's more to AleXa that.

AKP: Are there any goals that you have for this comeback that might be different from previous comeback goals?

ALEXA: Coming back to Korea after everything that we've done in America this year, one of my main goals is to get a bit more of a wider Korean audience if possible. Because now that I'm promoting in Korea for the first time in a long time and the pandemic has lessened, audiences are able to go into these music shows again. It's nice to perform in front of fans of other artists, of course, and to introduce myself to them and be like, “Hey, I'm AleXa. And this is what I do.”

AKP: Before we go into talking more about the album, can you just introduce it a little bit?

ALEXA: The ‘Girls Gone Vogue’ album consists of six tracks. (One of them being the instrumental for “Back in Vogue,” of course.) It carries you through multiple genres and different sounds. The main goal for this album's creation was to basically take a musical aspect and then condense it down into just six songs to take you through that kind of journey. Because when you think of a musical – there are new songs in a musical that are always different. There’s always a varied sound. And we wanted to kind of present that aspect on this album.

AKP: How do you want your fans to feel when listening to the songs? When your fans listen to it, what kind of reaction would you like from them?

ALEXA: If I'm a fan sitting down and listening to the whole album for the first time, I want them to think, “Oh my gosh, I never knew she could do that! Oh my gosh, I never thought she would do this genre! Oh my gosh, this sounds really good!” I want them to be surprised in a pleasant way about how all the songs differ from one another, but also about how it's not just the same sound throughout. My vocal color changes, and my inflection changes stylistically. A lot of things changed. So, I guess the fans could be surprised – in a good way!

AKP: Is there a part on the album where even you impressed yourself? Like, maybe you thought, ‘I didn’t even know that I could do that until this album!’

ALEXA: Well, so here's the thing: I don't know how well-known of a fact this is, but I've stated it before on VLIVE or something. Personally, for myself, I'm not too keen on cutesy, girly concepts. However, on this CD, we have the track called “Endorphin.” And it is basically the personification of everything that I have never really seen myself doing. But listening to the track itself, I was like, “Okay, damn! This turned out good! I'm not mad at it!” I was pleasantly surprised. I pulled it off. So I was like, “Okay, a little bit more of this in the future wouldn't be bad.”

AKP: So this album has some pretty interesting collaborations, both with MAMAMOO’s Moon Byul and also songwriting collaboration with Jeff Satur. How did those collaborations come about? Is there a special behind story for that?

ALEXA: My company is very close to [Moon Byul’s label] RBW. We've done a lot with them in the past. Before I even debuted, I was fortunate enough to appear in one of the music videos for MAMAMOO. I was also able to do a dance video with some of them, and when I was doing ‘American Song Contest,’ specifically Moon Byul sent in a cheering message video for me. And so it just amassed into this collab happening. She heard the track and was like, “I would like to jump on this.” And that's how that came into fruition.

And then with Jeff, that was also done through RBW itself. He presented them with this track, and then I guess they thought, “Oh, you know who'd be good for this track? AleXa!” And so that's how we started working together. There is a collaborative version that we recorded with both Jeff’s and my voice on it. When will that come out? Not sure, but we did physically collaborate for this one.

AKP: Do you have any fond memories of working on the album with them? Were you able to work with them together? Because we know you were really traveling around for the U.S. tour in October.

ALEXA: Yeah, I was kind of all over the place, to be honest. But when it did come to the recording, I was able to receive the files that they had done, so I could get a listen to it and get a feel for it. I did get to meet Jeff in person. We talked about things and showed each other lyrics that we'd written. He's a nice dude. He seemed a bit shy, but he's very, very nice, so I'm very fortunate to have met him and to collaborate on this track together.

AKP: Now let’s talk about your songwriting process for “Black Out” and “Please Try Again.” What was the process like, and were there any particular challenges you came across when developing these songs?

ALEXA: I helped write and compose the song “Black Out,” and then I wrote all the lyrics for “Please Try Again.” There’s a collaborative version with me and Jeff, like I mentioned. That version has his lyrics and my lyrics, plus a different lyricist. But the one on the album is the one that I wrote.

So, with “Black Out” itself, I was given just the instrumental track. I didn't get anybody else's top line. It was just the instrumental. I came up with my own version of it, and then I gave it over to the production company. And then they did some changes here and there, so I'd say right now, it's about half my melody versus half what they did. It was basically a struggle to come up with an entire melody that can be [considered] a pop song. Because the thing is whenever I make music, I typically go towards more of the indie vibe or an Amy Winehouse kind of vibe. Trying to gear my brain toward a K-pop sound was definitely a bit of a challenge. But overall, I'm very happy with how they changed it, and I think it turned out really nice. I'm very grateful for that.

“Please Try Again” was more like the vibe of what I typically make. And so when I got Jeff's demo for that, I was like, “Okay, what story do I want to tell through these lyrics?” I was just fishing in the back of my mind – like, let me think of a sad situation. Because I thrive off of sad situations. I just wrote the lyrics for that, and it was accepted. And I'm like, okay, great, so this is perfect for the album!

AKP: So, let’s talk about the music video. Of course, when someone thinks of AleXa, they also think about ZanyBros and your amazing music videos. Can you explain the “Back in Vogue” music video’s concept to us? How do the visual elements of the video relate back to the theme of the song?

ALEXA: Sure, I will try to to the best of my ability [laughs] because the thing is that the music video, when we filmed it, was 99% green screen, so I never knew what was going to go behind me. I never knew what the actual setup was. I'm filming these things, and I'm just dancing and doing my lip-syncs. I didn't know what the plotline was gonna be or how things were going to appear until the music video came out. When I saw it, I was like, “Oh, okay, so this is what that scene was. This is how that ties in with this. Okay!”

If I'm gonna be honest, I'm personally still a little bit confused on storylines, but when I jump out of the portal at the very beginning, I like to think that's the portal from the “Tattoo” music video. I don't know if it is or not, but that's what I like to think.

And then I fall down into this rabbit hole as a nod to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ because, you know, we just did ['American Song Contest' song] “Wonderland,” but then I find myself in this virtual reality-like circus with a giant mannequin hanging from the ceiling of this theater. I think it's AleXa exploring old memories. Maybe in the past, she was like a showgirl or something – like the AleXa with the black and red dress with the checkerboard floor. Maybe she was a performer in the past and that stage and theater are just rundown now. But definitely a “Tattoo” connection. That's 100% the one I'm banking on right now.

AKP: If you think it, it's automatically canon. It's automatically real.

ALEXA: There you go! If I think it, it’s the truth [laughs].


AKP: So, on one hand, there’s ‘vogue’ like the dance style, but then you also have the type of ‘vogue’ that evokes that iconic 80s/90s magazine editorial vibe. You’re turning looks this comeback, and the music video has some pretty amazing and bold fashion. Do you have a favorite look from the video? Or is there something you wore that you wish you could’ve brought home with you?

ALEXA: First and foremost, all the outfits were my favorite because they were so different from things I've normally worn in the past as AleXa. It was so fashion-forward. Personally, when it comes to performance, I really liked the simple white shirt with a black boot but with that corset with all the accouterments on it. Oh, I love that outfit. I love that outfit so much. Not just because of the corset, but I think it just looks good. And it translates well on camera and on stage. But if I can steal that corset, I will. Better keep it on lock [laughs].


AKP: We’ve really been enjoying the ‘Gone Vogue’ dance challenge videos that have been coming out of this comeback and wanted to know: Is there someone – whether they’re an idol or a celebrity in general – that is your bucket list dance challenge partner?

ALEXA: In the future, whenever Taemin gets back from the army, whenever he decides to promote again, if we happen to promote at the same time, I will knock on that door, bow with my hands, might bring a bouquet of flowers and a bunch of lobsters and steaks, and be like, “Hi, will you please do my dance challenge with me?”

AKP: That’s a total mood for sure! So, let’s talk about your recent tour. Earlier this year, you were able to go back to the States and spend a couple of weeks out there. What was spending so much time in the States for the tour like? Especially, what was it like performing back home in Oklahoma?

ALEXA: Oh my gosh, the tour itself was a dream come true! I could not go on long enough about how fun it was. It was the first time for me to be able to perform in front of such a massive audience that was there for me. It wasn't a festival with multiple artists. It was just my personal concert. That was the first time I've ever really felt that kind of excitement!

In Oklahoma, specifically – oh my god, the venue. I'm pretty sure it was sold out. It was so amazing to see all these people show up – people that I used to go to college with, people I used to work with, and people that I lost contact with as soon as I moved to Korea. I haven't spoken to these people in years, but they came to the concert, and it was just so touching to see these people again. Of course, my family came in as well. All my hometown friends came over for it. It was just such a nice homecoming honestly.

AKP: So the year is wrapping up, and it’s been a big one for you. Not only did you win ‘American Song Contest,’ but you were able to travel the States with your tour, perform here in Seoul, appear on SNL Korea, and create some cool content for your fans. If you could sum up the year in one word or phrase, what would you choose and why? And then, also, do you have goals or resolutions for 2023?

ALEXA: Let's see. If I can wrap it up in one word, honestly, I would just say “blessed.” As for my resolution for next year, keep striving for bigger and better – and hopefully a world tour!

Want to check out more allkpop exclusives? Check out our recent interviews with ITZY, Xdinary Heroes, and UP10TION.

  1. AleXa
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deez-what-sir
deez-what-sir164 pts Monday, November 28, 2022 0
Monday, November 28, 2022

I LOVE JEFF SO MUCH HE'S SO HOT

4 (+5 / -1)
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proudorbit
proudorbit710 pts Monday, November 28, 2022 0
Monday, November 28, 2022

I love her so much! <3

GO QUEEN ALEXA!

4 (+5 / -1)
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