a Q&A with Alexa Dexa

Alexa Dexa is a soulful girl with bells and bubbles. Her fanciful toychestral concoctions blend floating vocals, poignant lyrics, haunting melodies, and dance-worthy beats. (Not to mention a collection of toy instruments that would put many playpens to shame, the most favored of which is her Schoenhut toy piano.) Hear for yourself http://alexadexa.bandcamp.com/
WRH: So tell us about yourself. Where are you from? 
AD: I’m a Long Island girl born and raised.  
WRH: How did you get into music? And what was the first instrument you played? 
AD: I’ve been in and around music since I was a little girl in elementary school. My first instrument was my voice. The flute was a close second. Then I picked up piano. I performed in every available music-related group my public schools had to offer. I took lessons and exercised my self-discipline and focus on diligently practicing classical music. 
WRH: Who are your influences? 
AD: I take influence and inspiration from all the music I listen to that leaves its mark with me. Most notably the compositions of John Cage, Philip Glass, and the work of toy pianist Margaret Leng Tan.
WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 
AD: AllOneVoice, Nigel Newton, Michael Oldham, Liz Lohnes, Don Miguel, and a lot of commercial hip hop.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?
AD: Toychestral electronic pop. Dreamy, ethereal soundscapes. Jazz-influenced vocal technique. Adorable aural presentation of melodic material through toy instruments in a setting that feels intimate and nostalgic because it takes you back to your childhood for a minute. 

WRH: Your material often employs the use of a toy piano, bells, electronic beats, loops and other effects.  And lately, you’ve recorded material with the typatune. How did you get into using toys and other unusual instruments to compose material? Have you noticed people looking at you strangely when they see you play a live show, and they see you behind a toy piano? 
AD: I actually don’t use any loops right now. I’ve been wanting to incorporate a loop station into my project for some time, but I haven’t committed to that idea yet. The toy instruments seem to me to be the most appropriate and natural progression for my musical expression. I’ve always had an obsession with miniatures, toys like kazoos, anything colorful, and sounds that are bright, full, and chime-like. My toy piano and my desk bells fit my musical tastes and my personality to a T. The Typatune is an instrument that was introduced to me when I attended the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival presented by Phyllis Chen. I fell in love instantly, as I do with many of my toy instruments. As far as my live performances are concerned, it would be uncommon if people weren’t looking at me behind a toy piano with curiosity, concern, or enthusiasm in their demeanor. Once they hear me in action it’s a different story, and people are all ears. 

WRH: You have a new effort coming out on November 2nd titled, Tone Poems for Typatune. First, can you explain what the typatune is and secondly, how does this effort differ from the album you released earlier this year? And how is it similar? 
AD: A Typatune is an educational toy from the 1940s with 32 musical notes indicated by letters of the alphabet arranged like a standard typewriter keyboard. This album is a compilation of poems that are potent in their lyrical meaning as well as in their tonal combinations. The union of the music and narrative make for a strong poetical statement and the smooth resonance of the Typatune is so easy to listen to. “a symphony of band-aids for the visionary wound”, the album I dropped in September, is a much more dense collection of my musical literature in terms of production and composition while “Tone Poems for Typatune” is a 5 minute album meant to deliver concise phrases for consideration. 

WRH: Lyrically your songs manage to be both sexy and yet seem to portray subjects who are on the brink, and in a fashion that makes you seem older than your twenty-two/twenty-something years. Do your songs come from personal experience – or from the experiences of others? 

AD: My songs are always an expression of my personal experience or the collective abstractions of my subconscious. I much prefer to relate things that I have an intimate connection with. It feels more honest. 

WRH: You recently went on a DIY tour across the country. Generally, what was the response to you and your music? Have you noticed a difference between music crowds in other locations and those in the NYC metropolitan area? And if so, what have you noticed? What were your favorite venues to play while on tour? And where’s your favorite venue to play in NYC? 

AD: Throughout my DIY tour I received so much love from members of the audiences I performed to, people who saw me on the street with my toy piano and asked me to play them a little something, and fellow musicians. Everyone I met seemed genuinely surprised and excited by my project. My favorite spot on tour was Detroit. At the Berkley Front the crowd was super supportive and into my tunes and they were not bashful about showing it. I think in NYC sometimes members of the crowd are in their own head so much that it’s hard to tell how they’re vibin’ to your music until they come up to tell you how much they were diggin’ it afterwards. My favorite venues to play in NY are house shows on the island. An awesome group called Common Courtesy Collective is sprouting up to build up the music scene on the island and the shows are always a great time with incredible artists. 
WRH: As a young independent artist, do you have any advice for other independent artists? 
AD: You have to love your craft more than you love anything else about the game. Keep your head up, produce your music, play out to anyone and everyone, and acknowledge that every little step you take to pursue your music is its own success.