Is it just me, or has a recent wave of child-star-turned-cool-adults made the designation of “child star” at least slightly less lame? Alexz Johnson is currently best known for writing brilliant pop tunes with a soul that resembles, in equal parts, that of the Motor City and Nashville… (She also strikes me as a bit like a female Butch Walker, with a bit more of a popular passion for the art of the chorus.) However, she first gained her celebrity status acting, more than a decade ago, most notably on Canada’s Instant Star. She also had starring roles on the Disney series So Weird and American horror flick Final Destination 3. But it was music that always remained her deepest love. Since 2008 she’s released two full-length LPs, an EP, a remix album, a live album, and several digital downloads (including The Basement Recordings III, released last month as the third installment of officially-unreleased demos Alexz had sitting around). Alexz is currently residing in Brooklyn and has a Kickstarter campaign working to fund her next full-length (She’s currently at 27% of her goal, with 159 pledges and 57 days left to contribute, but she has plenty to offer her fans willing to contribute to the campaign. For those big spenders, you could potentially spend a day in Alexz’s studio, get a house concert, or even write a song with her. For those with more modest incomes, you can get signed posters, CDs, and vinyl.) She’s also currently on a tour with Charlene Kaye, Misty Boyce, and Jay Stolar and will be making a stop at Philadelphia’s World Café Live this Monday, March 4th, for likely the most whimsical lineup the city has seen all year. I recently got a chance to chat with Alexz about what you can expect her in 2013 and what she’s currently most excited and inspired by.
Izzy Cihak: What are your thoughts on Philadelphia, Philadelphians, and Philadelphia’s World Café Live? You played a sold out show here last summer.
Alexz Johnson: My band and I had a blast playing World Cafe! I don’t get much of an opportunity to see places on tour… It’s tour-van-to-venue most of the time. The people there were great and the venue treated us very well.
IC: You recently released The Basement Recordings III. What can people expect of the album, compared to your previous work (I realize it’s not technically “new.”)? Do you have a particular favorite track?
AJ: I love “At Your Door.” To be honest, these songs are a way for us to get out all of the demos my brother, Brendan, and I wrote when we were young… My E-mail account got hacked a few times when I was signed to Capitol, so many of these demos leaked anyways. We figured, why not release them?
IC: What do you consider to be your biggest influences and inspirations, whether they come from the world of music or elsewhere?
AJ: Soul and authenticity… People’s struggles and heartache. I love “less is more,” simple, and classic.
IC: Are there any contemporary musicians or trends in music that you find to be particularly interesting or inspiring?
AJ: I’m really into Roxy Music again… Producer-driven albums like that. M83 is amazing and epic. I like big sounds these days.
IC: You’re currently on tour with a friend of mine, Charlene Kaye, so I have to ask, what are your thoughts on Ms. Kaye? How did the two of you come together?
AJ: She’s a baller! She’s super talented and I’m excited to tour with her. I met her through mutual friends at Rockwood, actually.
IC: What can be expected of you and Charlene on these upcoming dates? What kind of a night do you have in store for us?
AJ: My keyboardist, and amazing musician in her own right, Misty Boyce, will be opening, along with Jay Stolar. It’s going to be a rad night, full of soul! I’m excited, as I’ve brought some new material into the set… It will be great to play some of these new songs.
IC: What are you most excited for in 2013… whether musically or leisurely?
AJ: My next album… I’m in the process of picking the producer, the vibe, and gathering the songs… It’s something that’s really close to my heart and I have a lot to say in these new songs.