By Jordan Mooney.
There are few bands we’ve been quite so complimentary towards as Alexa De Strange.
We’ve dubbed them ‘world class’. We’ve claimed there’s few bands that deserve recognition as much as them…we solemnly believe Alexa De Strange to be one of the finest in the UK’s independent talent.
However there’s a lot more to the Strange family than meets the eye.
Indeed, Alexa, Shannon, George and Chris have weaved in and out of numerous bands, outfits, lifestyles and ideals in their time, but none quite so much as Alexa herself.
She’s classically trained, she’s worked with some huge artists, and now, here she is in an independent – near operatic – rock and roll outfit that we’ve simply fallen in love with.
And the story doesn’t end there.
On July the 11th – that’s right, tomorrow! They’re set to perform in front of the world famous RCA Records, as a showcase of their talent and capabilities. This is a huge opportunity for an incredibly talented group – and it’s only right that before they inevitably become the latest signing, you get to know them, isn’t it?! So, without further ado, get taking notes…as Alexa’s very kindly sat down to answer some questions for us.
Cat on the Wall: Hello there, Miss Strange! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. How are you today?
Alexa De Strange: Hi Jordan, no worries! I’m good today, recharging a little before we have our showcase this coming Friday to Jar Music Live and RCA (!!!) it’s come completely out of the blue, really, so we weren’t entirely prepared, mentally, for what we have to do. But as the days get closer to the show, the excitement’s building – I currently feel like a little coiled spring that is ready to explode with a killer show! That way we can show them what we’re made of!
COTW: Please, introduce yourself, and what you do (keep it relatively clean!), to our readers!
Alexa: I’m Alexa De Strange, part of the four piece ensemble that makes us the bizarre mish mash we are! This also includes Shannon Lee, who is the Co-writer along with me, and our bouncy, sexy bass player – that has most of the women on the front row screaming! George Stergiou, our Divo Guitar God, who, I have to admit, is something a little bit special, and Chris, our wonderful, chirpy Skin Stroker, who’s probably the smiliest member of the band!
COTW: Alexa De Strange isn’t your first musical project. You’ve had quite the career beforehand. Would you care to reveal all to those uninitiated to Alexa’s Wild Ride?! (Relatively clean again please!)
Alexa: Well…this is a tough one to keep clean! This is thanks to an intermittent career between Music School, where I am now, and a Glamour Model, posing in publications such as Playboy!
Although, I have to say, I got bored of Modelling very quickly, and returned to my first love of music – via a world tour with a very famous US Rock band (Ed’s note – We’ll never tell!) as a Vocal Coach. On returning from the tour, having being inspired, standing at the side of these massive stages, at huge stadium shows, I decided: “This was what I want to do”; and I replied to an Advert on Gumtree for a “Female Singer Wanted”. From there, here we are today, four years down the line!
COTW: We first discovered the strange world of Alexa De…well, Strange, at Whitby Goth Weekend this year. How did you enjoy it?!
Alexa: Whitby was amazing!! Such a fine, well oiled machine, where we were definitely looked after. We have played some brilliant venues (The Roundhouse, various O2 Academies) but The Spa is not only up there with them, it tips the balance in its favour with just how well organised it is. All of the organisers deserve a major applause for all the hard work they put in.
COTW: You made quite the impact at Whitby from the feedback I’ve heard from attendees. Would you say you’re a traditionally ‘Gothy’ group?
Alexa: We cross a lot of genres, and have touched upon Goth, but ultimately, we’re just a kick ass rock & roll band. I think it’s great that the organisers have opened the festival to other forms of music, those that wouldn’t necessarily be termed ‘traditional Goth’. I absolutely love the bizarre, eclectic, diverse mix of bands that the festival has been responsible for booking in its recent days. It’s a heavy risk, as the traditional Goth fraternity can get quite ‘precious’ as to what bands should play, but I think it’s a risk that will ultimately pay off. When we played the Friday night, our old tour mate Toyah was playing. Not many, if any, would consider her Goth, but the place was full! I think this is always a good sign..!
COTW: Whitby Goth isn’t the only exciting experience you’ve had this year. You’ve become a columnist for a rock magazine and I’ve even heard whispers of talks with labels…Yet, I hear there’s even more on the horizon! What can you tell us..?
Alexa: I’ve just done my first Article for the Music Magazine Rock, Raunch and Twisted, it’s quite a naughty look at Rock stars and Groupies. I even managed to secure an Interview with the awesomeness that is Pamela Des Barres, who was the first Groupie ever, and forms an amazing insight to a time when groupies really did help rule the world of Music! 🙂
We have had a fair bit of label interest recently, but we’re on a long road to success. I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy, and we’ve a lot of work ahead of us. When we started the band, there were a lot of bands on the circuit that “grew up” with us as such, many of those didn’t or couldn’t make it, and fell by the way side.
It’s a hard world for bands. You really have to say to yourself, “Right. I’m willing to sacrifice everything I have for my music“. We’ve done just that and there’s been some very tough days. There still are, but every milestone we reach makes us work ever harder to our goal.
Our main focus right now is this Friday’s Showcase, every thought is based around that, wardrobe, music, logistics, and, of course, promotion. As an independent band, there’s no respite: when you’re not writing, you are promoting, playing, networking and, of course, dreaming..! 🙂
COTW: Your travels have taken you to several patches of the music industry, complete with some pretty big names working alongside you. What would you say is a more comfortable ‘patch’ to work in – the relatively independent scene you’re at work in, or the bigger, fancier mainstream?
Alexa: We’ve played a lot of venues at some incredible levels, but it isn’t all about how big a venue is. It’s really about the crowd and their response. We bounce off of their energy, and we could be playing a tiny room, to a crowd of bouncing, enthusiastic fans, and it’d be absolutely equal to the excitement of playing a 3.5k+ crowd. It’s not the stage, it really is the fans, they’re as much a part of our stage energy as we are!
COTW: As a group that’s been moving with such velocity, onwards and upwards, is there anything that has been a particularly exciting experience for you? (Not including meeting our fabulous head honcho, of course…)
Alexa: The best thing about this journey is meeting so many lovely people that get what we’re doing. We’re a band that you can’t put into a safe little pigeon hole, and that ends up being both a positive and a negative.
It’s incredibly hard to intentionally do something original in music, but the uniqueness and magic comes from when you get the right unit together. That’s a good thing. You’re doing something that, while people may hear elements of other bands and genres, they can never say “You sound like” whatever band they care to mention.
The bad point seems to come from the fact that the UK has a tendency to try and pigeon hole an act. If they can’t pigeon hole you, then it can be incredibly hard to get the right attention. That’s why it’s so amazing and incredible that when we play and we get people that just ‘get it’, it blows us away!! It’s, like, the biggest thrill…and when we say we’re so grateful, we say it with complete sincerity.
COTW: As is standard for a group like yourselves, you’re often to be seen on the road. How would you describe your live shows for those who had no idea what to expect?
Alexa: We like to compare our show to a circus. A complete thrill, an attack on the senses! We’ve also got a few animals & clowns! Lol! Rest assured, when you come and see Alexa De Strange, we’ll give you a show that’ll stay with you months after. And you’ll want to see us again.
COTW: What do you find are the strongest inspirations that build up Alexa De Strange? Are there perhaps any we’d find surprising, that don’t necessarily reflect the sound of your music? Films, books, television, childhood memories…you get the idea!
Alexa: Inspiration for Alexa comes from many things, far and wide, that sound nothing like our music. Here are a few – Sparks, Rammstein, Blondie, Faith No More, Slipknot, Grace Jones, Serge Gainsbourge, Mozart, W.A.S.P, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Puccini, The Beatles, David Lynch, Maria Callas, Adam Ant, Ennio Morricone, Astor Piazzola, Scissor Sisters, Donna Summer, Electric Six, Bach…
COTW: Finally, who do you feel is really responsible for building up Alexa De Strange’s success? It’s no secret that you have a very personal way of communicating with fans and friends, and many of them have been with you since day one. Is there anything you’d like to say to anybody in particular?
Alexa: There are many people, probably too many to mention. This is a DIY “peoples” band and it’s through fan support we’ve made our EP “Tits Of Death“. It’s through talented friends, family and fans that we’ve made our videos, and photo shoots…all on shoestring budgets.
I ‘m afraid to mention any one person in particular, because that would lead to name after name after name… but The Strange Army are a force to be reckoned with, and we always have time for our fans. You’ll see us after our shows, wandering about (maybe a little tipsy) but we mingle, we watch bits of the other bands, with our own fans, and we’re always happy to do whatever we can to make every fan’s experience of meeting us unique, we’re also fans, after all, fans of music, which unites us all in the same way.
Alexa De Strange will be performing as part of Jar Music Live – Presented by Upsurge! At the O2 Academy, Islington on July the 11th.
Doors open at 6:45PM and the show finishes at 10PM – after which there’s an afterparty until 3:30AM!
Sadly Cat on the Wall is unable to attend this one – but on behalf of everybody here we’d like to wish Alexa De Strange good luck – although we already know they’ll impress!
Tickets, if you wish to pop down last minute, are £7.50 from Alexa De Strange themselves – contact them via Facebook! – Or £9.00 on the door.
If you can make it – be there! It’s sure to be a rock and roll circus you’ll never forget.