Interview: Aidan Alexander on his debut single 'I Don't Love You', his upcoming EP, and more.
Lana Del Rey’s ‘Venice Bitch’ is blasting from Aidan Alexander’s iPhone. “You like this song?” he asks me, between singing along with Del Rey’s dulcet words, “Callin' out, bang bang, kiss kiss.”
One of the sassiest Americans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, Alexander not only always has a hilarious quip to offer in response to everything, he’s equally as aware of the responsibility he has with his growing social platform - using it to share selfies and memes, but also social issues that he finds important.
We spent an afternoon with Aidan Alexander in Los Angeles to discuss his upcoming EP, his music making process, and more…
Not everyone is in the position I am, so it feels a little selfish to care more about how many likes I get on a tweet as opposed to just tweeting openly about stuff that I find matters... if you have people listening, you should be saying things.
COUP DE MAIN: What’s your earliest musical memory ever?
AIDAN ALEXANDER: I can tell you the first song I wrote was called ‘Baggy Pants’ and it only had two lines. It was, <sings> “Look out for the guy in those baggy pants, that loves to dance.” I think I was the guy in the baggy pants, but who can ever be sure. It’s probably my best work to date.
CDM: How long have you been making your own music for?
AIDAN: I’m a total perfectionist, so I’ve probably been making it for two years. That’s like the earliest stages of when I first wrote the first line of ‘I Don’t Love You’ in a journal, and I slowly added to it. It was slowly translated from my journal to my ‘Notes’ app back into a new journal, and then I went to the studio with it and it was all on the computer, and then I re-scribbled it down. It’s been written everywhere. Probably, I would say about two years for ‘I Don’t Love You’ in particular.
CDM: How does your songwriting process work? Do you still write poetry?
AIDAN: I started with poetry, and that’s still how I do it. It might not even be in stanza format, sometimes I’ll write down little lines that I think are pretty, or words that I think have beautiful little connotations, or I think sound pretty. I’ll write it all down, then when I go in the studio I can kind of pull from individual notes. I wrote ‘Yours’, there’s little pieces of that song that are taken from a year's worth of notes. There’s stuff that I had just written then in the studio, and then there’s the stuff I wrote a year ago, so it always depends. I like to go in with something, or at least know the direction I’m going, but there are times that I’ve gone in and been like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck we’re going to do today.’
CDM: Do you find the process is long, especially when drawing from old and new material?
AIDAN: It’s definitely a long process. I’ve been drawing from newer stuff more recently. Sometimes I like to strike while the iron’s hot, and try to write it down. It sounds so cliché, but sometimes if it’s really sad or painful and I just don’t want to deal with it, then I’ll compartmentalise and maybe it’ll come out later.
CDM: What was it about ‘I Don’t Love You’ that made you want to release it as your first official song?
AIDAN: I love the title, that was something that was in my Notes. I heard a lot of love songs on the radio that were super-- they didn’t seem real to me. They were written by these middle-aged men, they didn’t seem very authentic. I’m like, ‘If you’re going to write a song and if you are not in love, then don’t write a love song.’ That was my philosophy, I was dealing with someone where I was like, ‘I don’t love them that way,’ so I kind of went in with that philosophy going into it. I knew I wanted it to be my first song because I thought it was something people can relate to, and it’s the least sad of the bunch, so I should reel them in with the pop anthem before everyone’s like, ‘This guy is depressing.’
CDM: You open the song with, “I can’t help I’m selfish,” which is a really relatable sentiment. What do you think it is about humans that makes them inherently selfish sometimes?
AIDAN: I think that self-preservation is human nature. It’s inevitable. I think that you can say you’re all about someone else, but in the end, you’re really all about yourself. I’m not even meaning that in a bad way, I think that you should be about yourself. I don’t mean that you should hurt anyone else in the process of self-preservation. I think there’s a difference between self-preservation and actively trying to thwart somebody else’s self-preservation. I just wanted to be really honest, and that lyric in general I just felt like it was almost selfish to not give them what they wanted - really, it’s selfless, but to me I was like, ‘I can’t help I’m selfish,’ because I still cared very much about the person and didn’t want to hurt them, but it just wasn’t in that way. I think that tying back to the question though, survival is human nature - whether that’s emotional or physical survival. It’s inherent. It’s like how birds fly north, it’s just in our genetic coding.
CDM: What was running through your mind when writing ‘Yours’?
AIDAN: Pure frustration and anger. <laughs> To me, that song is not a swan song in terms of it being the last song I release, but it’s almost like a swan song in the form of an ode to a person. It’s like, ‘This is the last one I’m going to write about you,’ kind of. So that’s kind of what was going through my mind. To me, the song is all about giving so much to someone and being someone’s - whether that’s healthy or not, or okay to say, because right now everyone’s like, ‘We’re our own,’ but being somebody else’s and not really having that requited.
CDM: Do you always write music from your own personal experiences?
AIDAN: Mmmhmm. As of now, it’s just all stuff that I’m dealing with or that I’ve gone through. I have a few songs I’ve written that aren’t even about situations, they’re more like thought processes that I have, they’re stream-of-consciousness in a way, whereas others are distinctive situations, and stories.
CDM: What can you tell us about an upcoming Aidan EP?
AIDAN: There’s something for everyone. I think there’s a wide array of music, there’s some anthemic pop songs, there’s some sad songs, there’s some simple, really stripped-down songs. I think everyone will have something to listen to on it.
CDM: You use your social media platform as a place for your own content, but also to speak out about issues you’re passionate about. You tweeted Laura Ingraham in August about her thoughts on immigration. Why do you find it important to use your platform for talking about issues like this?
AIDAN: I just feel like it’d be a waste if I didn’t. Not everyone is in the position I am, so it feels a little selfish to care more about how many likes I get on a tweet as opposed to just tweeting openly about stuff that I find matters. I’m still learning a lot, so sometimes I try to be a little silent about certain things that I just don’t know enough about to speak on - only because sometimes in the past I’ve gotten in trouble, not so much that I said something ignorant, but I was too out there and I was like, ‘I need to reel it in, this isn’t helping the conversation.’ I think it’s just something that to me, is very essential, if you have people listening, you should be saying things.
CDM: Have you started thinking about playing live shows yet? Are you excited for those?
AIDAN: There’s a whole tour planned. It should be early next year.
CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
AIDAN: Feeling. Poeticism. I think ‘Ribs’ by Lorde is the best song ever written - you’re a New Zealander, you get it - and I feel like there’s a big pressure that when you say a song is the best song of all time it has to be a song from the 60s or something, because it has to have enough time to sit on its own that we can soak up how amazing it is. But, I think ‘Ribs’, as of now, to me, it’s the most poignant song I’ve ever heard. The way it’s written is so beautiful, it just feels so honest, she does such a good job at chronicling and depicting how it feels to be young without exploiting it, or making it seem so dramatic and corny. It’s all so reserved.
CDM: It’s helpful that she’s not a middle-aged white man writing about the youth of today.
AIDAN: Love it! Of course. You can tell! That’s what differentiates a good song from a great song, it's the feeling.
CDM: How have you found working on music compared to acting, as an art-form? Do you still plan on doing both simultaneously?
AIDAN: I’m doing both of them, and never stopping. The thing about acting is that it’s somebody else’s - which is great, I love that, I love being able to find something new that challenges me, and sometimes if you’re writing for yourself it’s hard to challenge yourself because you know yourself. Acting is very cool because I get to tell somebody else’s story, I get to bring to life somebody else’s thought. Music is cool because it’s all my own, I write everything, so it’s a little bit more of a personal experience. I do love both very much. It’s a different facet of creativity.
CDM: And if A.I.D.A.N. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
AIDAN: Asshole. Interesting. Dramatic. Artistic. Nice.
Aidan Alexander’s latest single ‘Yours’ is out now - click here to purchase, or stream it below…