Music Interview: Alex the Astronaut

New York-based Australian, Alex The Astronaut is one of our favourite new acts, so we’re excited that she’s dropping her debut EP later this week. We asked her a few questions about it:

Hey Alex! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us again. Where are you as you answer these questions?
Hey there! I’m at college in New York at the moment. I’m in the dormitories and I just finished doing some homework. I’m here studying undergraduate physics so I’ve been working on my thesis and studying for midterms. There’s lots of college fun going on!

Your debut EP is out soon. What can you tell us about its creation?
The first song of the five that I wrote was ‘I Believe in Music’ which is kind of a summary on why I think music is important, and the artists and people that have influenced me. I wrote ‘Half of 21st Street’ and ‘Holes in the Story’ a year ago. I wrote them both in the middle of my second year in New York and they really were a response to what I learnt here in that time. ‘Holes in the Story’ is about doing things your own way and ‘Half of 21st Street’ is about taking in everything that’s happening around you in a new place. I wrote ‘Rockstar City’ and ‘Already Home’ when I was in Sydney later last year. ‘Already Home’ took a while to write but it started off with a bad day on a bus trip.

What’s the thinking behind the EP’s name, ‘To Whom It May Concern’?
I chose it because the five songs are really different, so people will relate more to some songs than others and if they apply to you or interest you then that’s great and if they don’t that’s also okay too. I’m trying to tell stories that I think are important to share and some will concern some people more than others.

Tell us about your latest single, ‘Rockstar City’…
‘Rockstar City’ is a postcard home to my mum, telling her about my first gig I did in New York at The Bitter End. It follows me through the day exploring Manhattan in my first few months of being in America and into the show that I played. It was a 15-minute gig and I had to sell ten tickets to play so I dragged my college friends along and there was quite a big crowd for the little venue that I hadn’t really expected. I wasn’t used to speaking on stage so I was a bit awkward and it wasn’t my best performance but I got through it in the end. I knew that this venue had housed Bob Dylan when he started out and I think that added to the nerves. I think that experience gave me a lot of confidence to try and play more shows and so I went back three more times and it got a bit easier each time.

You recently played your first headline shows in Australia. How did they go?
They were so much fun. I had a little tear in my eye when I played and people started singing the lyrics to ‘Already Home’ back at me. I’ve never played to any crowds that have really known my music except my family and some close friends, so that was really cool.

As well as being a musician, you are quite the scientist. Tell us a scientific fact that will blow our tiny minds…
Probably that you can run through a wall. I don’t really understand it completely but one of my physics teachers told me it. There’s a bunch of quantum stuff involved but the main gist of it is that since atoms are mostly free space, and we can’t predict for certain the location and speed of an electron at the same time, there is a possibility that all the nuclei and electrons happened to be out of the way and you can run through. It’s a really, really small probability though, and we worked out that you’d have to keep doing it for longer than the universe has existed to have even a small chance.

And you’re a football (soccer) player too! We love a bit of football. Which position do you play and what would you say are the main strengths to your game?
I play right forward. I’m quite a fast runner so I’m good at getting down the wings past defenders but I’m a bit little so often I get bumped off the ball. That’s been a big problem coming over to college because a lot of the girls are a lot bigger than me. I’ve been knocked out a couple of times so I’ve tried to beef up a bit at the gym, which didn’t really work. I want to play AFL when I’m home too so I’m going to start lifting weights or buy an ab king pro or something. I’ve had lots of fun playing soccer here though, it’s been a really great experience.

Do you support a football team?
I don’t really like watching sport but when I was little I supported Manchester United. I think I just liked that Beckham was there and I stopped following it when I got into high school. I’ve tried to get into American Football while I’ve been over here but the games are so long and I haven’t got the attention span I don’t think.

What have you got lined up for the rest of 2017? More live shows? Any festivals? Is there an album on the horizon?
I’m graduating college in May and then we’ll record a few songs as soon as I come back. Then we’re looking to do some live shows, which will be announced soon. I’m not too sure about festivals and I don’t think we’ll be doing an album this year but more music will be coming out this year for sure.

What are you going to do now that you’ve finished this interview?
I’m going to go to bed! I told myself I’d wake up early to study tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes!

The “To Whom It May Concern” EP is released March 31, via Minkowski Records. Keep up to date with Alex on Facebook.

bobby townsend


Interview by Bobby Townsend.