Ada Lea recently joined a few of our favorite artists (Big Thief, Orenda Fink, and The Rural Alberta Advantage.) as a member of Saddle Creek’s roster, when she released her debut LP, what we say in private, just about two weeks ago. Ada Lea is the musical project of Montreal-based artist Alexandra Levy, who is also a painter. The album, which has already received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, NPR, and VICE, began with 180 days of journaling, following the end of a particularly profound romantic relationship. The music, which could be described as introspective and boldly-melancholic indie folk pop, ultimately sees Levy exploring large, abstract, and ultimately-hard-to-quantify concepts, such as womanhood and love. Although what we say in private delves into many, if not most, of the heaviest aspects of the human experience, it is ultimately more inspiring than anything else. Ada Lea kicks off a world tour tonight that will have her headlining our very own Boot & Saddle this Saturday, August 3rd, and earlier this week I got a chance to chat with her about her debut LP.
Izzy Cihak: You just released your debut, what we say in private. Have you had any favorite reactions to it whether from critics, fans, or just friends?
Alexandra Levy: Definitely from all of the above. Fans that have recorded versions of themselves singing along – that’s quite fun. My friends and family have been so supportive.
Izzy: I really love the album, but “yanking the pearls off around my neck,” is definitely one of my favorite tracks of the year. How did that particular track come about? It reminds me of some of the most devastating ‘90s minimalist alternative balladry and it definitely makes me cry every time I hear it.
Alexandra: That’s so sweet of you to say, thank you. It came about while touring the states last year. It was the last song that I wrote for the album. Wrote it in Columbia, Ohio. Instead of going to a party, I stayed back in the hotel room and jotted some ideas down frantically.
Izzy: How is it working with Saddle Creek? They’re one of my favorite labels. Any particular favorite labelmates? I’m a big fan of Big Thief, Orenda Fink, and The Rural Alberta Advantage.
Alexandra: I’m a big fan of Land of Talk, Big thief, Tomberlin, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Sam Evian, and Hand Habits. Pretty much love everything they release. It’s been a complete dream working with Saddle Creek – I didn’t know it felt this good to be signed to a label I admire so much.
Izzy: While you make your non-musical influences pretty clear, I’m curious what are some of the things that you’re currently listening to a lot of (if anything), whether or not they seem to directly inspire your own work or not?
Alexandra: These days I’m listening to a lot of Nina Simone’s catalogue, and random jazz standards.
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of creating art, or just your aim as an artist? I know you also do visual art, in addition to music.
Alexandra: That’s a really good question – my process for creating varies from time to time. I really enjoy writing lyrics first and bringing them to music, but that isn’t necessarily the method I always use. Sometimes songs emerge straight from another song, or a walk, or a phone call with a friend.
Izzy: You’re about to set off on a relatively big tour. Are there any dates you’re especially excited for, whether gigs you’re most excited to play or cities you’re most excited to visit or revisit?
Alexandra: I’m excited for every show! Mostly New York because it feels like my second home, I miss living there quite a bit.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience when you play our very own Boot & Saddle in the near future?
Alexandra: Many emotions, lots of fun, some tear-shed. We’re playing a couple of new songs.
Izzy: And I know that your live dates go nearly to the end of the year, but I’m curious if there’s anything you’re especially excited for in the tail end of 2019 or the first part of 2020? Is there anything you currently have in the works, or are you looking forward to a little break?
Alexandra: I’m looking forward to recording the second LP. I can’t wait to start working on it. I don’t foresee any breaks, so to speak, but that doesn’t faze me, as I love working.