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The 99% Episode #12 with Alex Marie Brinkley

Alex Marie Brinkley is an electronic pop singer-songwriter that creates masterpieces from personal experience and complete honesty. Recognized internationally and locally, she’s worked with Grammy-winning songwriters and with multi-platinum producers. With such collaboration creating innovative crafts of songs, she earned an award at the 2016 Wildflower Arts & Music Festival in Dallas, Texas. This great win coincided also as Nashville Songwriters’ Association International naming her “One to Watch” in the same year. Besides becoming an award winner, Alex Marie Brinkley audiences are receiving her talents well and proven with a combination of 100k views on Youtube and nearly 10k streams on Soundcloud. Listen in and read on more about the singer-songwriter in our interview of the 99% Podcast featured on Soundcloud.


[00:00]Steereo:

Welcome to the 99% podcast.  We are here with pop singer Alex Marie Brinkley. How would you sum up yourself as an artist?

Alex:

Pop is definitely what I do. I typically refer to myself as pop with an electronic influence. I do a lot of songwriting for electronic artists as well, but the music that I personally release is definitely more in the pop lane.

Steereo:

Before we really get in depths for your interview, how do you feel the pop market is right now?

Alex:

Honestly I think it’s doing really really well. It seems like pop is taking influences from a ton of different genres which I think always really needed to happen. I think it just keeps the music really fresh, and it brings in influences you normally wouldn’t hear. So I personally think pop is doing phenomenally.

Steereo:

If there was one pop singer out there right now whose career you’d like to emulate, whose would it be? Or, who was the last pop artist you listened to on your phone?

Alex:

Bebe Rexha; It’s so good, I listened to it the entire drive to Nashville, so a good 12 hours of Bebe Rexha.

Steereo:

Is that an indication of a career path that you’d like to follow yourself?

Alex:

I think so. I really respect that she song wrote for tons and tons of people before she was actually known for her own music and that’s a huge part of what I do so I think I’d really love to go the same path as her.

Steereo:

On that note, all the stuff I’ve put out has been stuff I’ve written for my own career, so I put my career first as opposed to my songwriting abilities. Do you think it’s harder to do it my way or to do it your way, be known for writing incredible songs for artists first, and then cross over into your own artistry?

Alex:

I don’t know that’s actually a really interesting question, I’d say you can really go either path. For me, I’d say I definitely always want to make songwriting a priority for myself just because writing is so important to me and it’s the most important process for myself. I’d say my favorite part of being an artist is the songwriting process. So I’d say it just really depends on where you want to go with your career too, but I think as long as you are killing it in your own lane and doing it the way you want, there’s really not a bad choice to go with.

Steereo:

Stay in your own way and I like that. How emotionally attached to you become to your songs. Let’s say you write a killer smash or a song that’s very personal to you, whether it be over heartbreak or relationships or whatever. How emotionally attached do you become, and how easy is it to give that away to another artist?

Alex:

I kind of take it on a song by song basis, just because there are some songs that I’ve written that I know I can’t give this one up because I know it’s so much of an Alex song that I can’t hear anybody else singing it. Actually a couple of the singles I’m working on right now, initially I was pitching them to other people and they didn’t take them, and so they just really grew on me. I’d say I get pretty emotionally involved just because I try to bring personal experience to any write that I go into, but at the same time if the song really really fits for somebody else, even if I love it a lot, I think it’s more just about giving listeners a song. If I’m the one singing it or if someone else is singing it, it’s still out there.

Alex Marie Brinkley via Facebook

Steereo:

Where are you originally from and what is the music scene like there?

Alex:

I’m from Fortworth Texas born and raised, and Forthworth is really interesting because we’re surrounded by Dallas, Denton, and Austin is not too far away so you kind of get a lot of influence from a few different cities around where we are but Fort Worth is known as cow town, so country definitely reigns supreme there. It’s very much Texas Country, and then there’s this really small but weird group of extreme hardrock bands and screamo, so we have a little bit of that too, but mainly country I’d say.

Steereo:

Excellent. Have you ever ventured down to country pop?

Alex:

Not really, I have worked with a few country writers and written some stuff that could go country, but as far as my own material I haven’t ever gone down that path.

Steereo:

Tell us a little bit about you first getting into the music business.

Alex:

I pretty much grew up around music. My mom was a jazz musician before I was born, so I was always surrounded by as I was growing up. I started out with piano when I was five and did that for a really long time. I’d say around seventh grade I kind of ventured into the whole musical theater side of things, but I’m a horrible dancer so that kind of died real quick. Then in early high school I wanted to go into classical singing, opera and that whole thing, but around that same time I started songwriting. I very quickly realized, oh my gosh this is what I want to do, so ever since I was fourteen, you know just writing tons and tons of songs. Initially I’d say the songs were a lot more singer songwriter, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, that kind of vibe. I play the ukulele as well, so that was a huge influence. Then around nineteen I realized oh my gosh I love pop, this is actually what I want to do. Then the E.D.M. trend set into that real quick as well. I’d say I’ve taken a few different turns with music but I’m very happy with where I ended up. I’m pretty sure this is exactly where I’m going to stay, like in the vein that I am now.

Steereo:

For people who are listening to this right now, who are entering into the music business, can you impart some wisdom about some of the challenges you may have faced in the initial part of your journey? Can you kind of speak a little bit to any of the challenges that you faced yourself with that evolution process in your own journey?

Alex:

The most important thing for me that I’ve learned, is to stick with it because you’re going to get told No probably a hundred times more than you’re going to get told yes. I have gotten a ton of opportunities just by staying persistent. Emailing as many people as I can to try to get my music in front of the right people, so I think even if you feel like everything is going wrong, a door is going to open somewhere. I think the most important thing is just to stick with it; work ethic is so important. Just stay persistent and stay hungry, keep that passion and you know you’ll get somewhere.

Steereo:

Let’s talk about the writing of your songs. Where does your inspiration come from, or what are you being currently inspired by?

Alex:

Currently, I’m trying to take a lot from personal experience, and relationships, family, friends. I’d say influence, you can literally find it anywhere. Even if you don’t think that that would be a cool song concept, you can always spin it another way. There have been billions of songs about love but each one is different because I think you bring a piece of yourself to anything that you write. I think it’s just finding a new way to say something that’s been done a million times.

Steereo:

I think of it somewhat of a tricky question when people ask me that question. It can be the simplest of things or it can be the most profound things that have an impact on your writing. But I think it’s always going to merge in at some point. If you were if you were to pull a lyric from The Other Side or Broken, or one of these new songs, what is your favorite lyric right now that you go, “wow that was a gift.”

Alex:

I actually wrote one yesterday while I was in Nashville, I think it was, “give me your heart, give me up or give me closure.” Basically give me all of yourself, don’t give me anything or at least if you can’t give me yourself just give me closure because I’m out here grasping for something. When I write lyrics I love to take two complete opposite things and stick them right next to each other because I feel like that contrast makes it so interesting.

Watch Official Music Video ‘Broken’ by Alex Marie Brinkley

Steereo:

Yeah and I think for me obviously, lyrics mean different things at different parts of your life. For me, as a writer, I try to make things as universal as I physically can, so that people don’t misinterpret the way I feel or maybe they don’t inherit that same pain. There are definitely different songs where it’s been written with an intention to be this, but people take it on and it becomes a different life for them. and that’s very true. When I speak to a lot of songwriters, they automatically make it universal. When it’s too conceited or self-indulgent, the listeners can hear that.

Alex:

I think everybody can bring their own experiences to a song, so I think when you write any song into the world, if you can make it relatable enough but also different enough that it’s interesting, then I think you’re doing something right.

Steereo:

You’re part of our stereo family which is obviously an app that is pro-independent artists. In your opinion, what’s it like to be an independent artist. From your point of view, what are the benefits or the drawbacks of doing everything that you do independently?

Alex:

For me, the biggest thing that I like about being an independent artist is, I have the freedom to take on projects that I want to. I feel like if I was being managed by a label, or signed to a label, there would opportunities that I would miss if I was signed, just because maybe that wouldn’t fit into a labels agenda. With writing, I write with tons of people from all over the world and I have the freedom to do that. I sometimes take on a project, even if I don’t know what the outcome is. I’d say that’s probably my favorite thing. Least favorite thing is sometimes feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing, just because you’re navigating waters and you know you have to figure out how everything works. Sometimes it feels like you’re just floating in an abyss, but eventually you’ll grab on to something and figure it out. So honestly, I really like being independent. When I first started doing more pop stuff, I thought I needed to get signed to a label, and thought I needed this and that. I know that would be very beneficial, but I think I’ve learned to trust the process and know that I’m eventually going to end up where I’m supposed to.

Steereo:

Obviously, our platform is where we combine music and technology. What are your thoughts on music technology, and how has it given you the opportunity to become discovered?

Alex:

I know I wouldn’t be doing so much of the stuff that I am, if I didn’t have technology. Social media has definitely helped me connect with people that I probably never would. I have some Canadian fans I know I probably never would have met if it wasn’t for social media. I’ve worked with producers over in Europe and I actually write for a label in Sweden and I know that I wouldn’t be doing what I am if I didn’t have technology. I think as much as music is very natural, I think technology can definitely enhance it. Even on a production side of things, electronic music, you need technology for that. So I think it’s really good and I think it can benefit independent artists too because, like with Steereo, you can get your music in front of people that probably never would have heard you. As an independent artist that’s so important.

Steereo:

When someone hears your music for the first time, and they’re in a rideshare service in New York, in Austin, or in Los Angeles? What do you want them to feel? When you create this music and put it into the world, what are you trying to make them feel?

Alex:

For me, lyrics have always been extremely important. I think finding a way to have them hear a song and go “wow that’s so relatable, I can totally feel what she’s going through” and say that they’re going through the same thing. I want to give people a song that they can connect to, and I think Broken is the song rotating on Steereo and it starts out mellow and then it explodes into this giant drop, which I think is always fun. Especially it shows, when you can actually see an audience’s reaction to that. I love it when the heads start bobbing, and see them start tapping, nd I think it’s just about just giving them a good song at the end of the day.

Steereo:

For anyone who is listening right now and trying to decide if they should change their own music passion or whatever passion that is within the industry, at the very beginning part of the journey, what advice would you give looking back at your thirteen-year-old self? What advice would you give to people who are starting off in the industry right now?

Alex:

I think it’s extremely important to stay authentic to who you are, and to try to be yourself as much as possible. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but I know personally, I would always go oh, I want to write a song that sounds exactly like Taylor Swift because I love her. But if you’re sounding exactly like her, everyone will always think, oh she sounds like Taylor Swift. You want people to go, “Wow that sounds exactly like Alex Marie Brinkley.” So I think it’s important to find what works for you and what really sounds authentically you and just run with it because at the end of the day everybody is different and I think if you can bring something new and fresh into the world, that’s going to benefit you more than anything else.

Steereo:

One fun question, what do people not know about you?

Alex:

I know my friends and family know this, I’m not really sure if my fans know this or not, but I can’t hear out of my left ear, so that’s kind of a weird little thing about me. I only can hear out of my right ear. I’m really good at figure skating. I actually did that a lot when I was younger. I was involved in figure skating, that’s about the only sport I can do.

Steereo:

From a music perspective, does your ear hold you back in any shape or form?

Alex:

I don’t think so. I’d say the only thing I ever struggle with it is mixing. If I’m producing a track for myself or somebody else sometimes mixing can be a little challenging, but you just have to figure out what works for you and I know for me just don’t whisper in my left ear and we’ll probably be fine.

Steereo:

So what are some of the new and exciting things coming up for Alex in this coming year?

Alex:

Well, I am working on some singles that I’m going to be releasing. Those are almost finished. A lot of the stuff I’ve written for other people or that I’m featured on will be coming out pretty soon. I said I’d write for a label in Sweden, an electronic can pop music publishing company, so a lot of the stuff I’ve written for their artists and D.J.s should be coming out pretty soon. Just working on a ton of music.

Listen to ‘The Other Side’ by Alex Marie Brinkley:

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Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.