From the opening notes of track one on Alexandra's hauntingly beautiful new release, Ecdysis, through the album's coda, "Cycles", this multi-talented, Portland-based artist casts off all inhibitions to create a deeply personal soundscape that defies categorization. The layered work brings new discoveries with each listen. Favorite tracks include the subtly rhythmic "Roller" and the hypnotic "Membrane." The Tasty Turntable recently caught up with Alexandra for five quick questions:
What music are you listening to these days?
I have been resonating with ethereal, ambient works as well as house, electronic, and hip-hop. I have been inspired by producers and visionaries Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Björk, FKA Twigs, Kelly Lee Owens, Tyler, The Creator, Anenon, James Blake, and Dirty Projectors. I go back and forth between hyped and calm sounds, getting lost in the worlds that these artists paint. They are true composers.
Do you have a favorite playlist?
One of my favorite activities is to craft playlists on Spotify. I’ve compiled a collection of songs that remind me of basking in summer light or sunbathing by the lake. It’s called, quite literally, “sunbathing by the lake” and is full of gems from João Gilberto, Angelo de Augustine, Amália Rodrigues and more. Excited to play it in headphones at a nearby river for an upcoming 80-degree Oregon day.
What excites you about your new release?
What excites me most about the album is the experimentation with new textures. I found liberation in exploration. This is the first album where I used samples and electronic techniques so it was exciting to stretch my idea of how my music could sound. What elevated this album over previous releases started with breaking my own perfectionistic ideals. I started listening to artists outside my usual listening scope, releasing the self-imposed expectation that I needed to stick to a certain genre, and following my gut for compositional arrangements.
What else would you like people to know about you and your music?
This album was born after a summer of touring through Europe with my good friend and talented musician, Adam (The Duke of Norfolk). We spent five weeks walking, biking, taking trains, planes, and buses through the U.K., France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. We visited Annecy, a lakeside French town I grew up in where I first learned to ride a bike, where my love for swimming began, and where I had the SUPREME privilege of eating croissants everyday after school. We continued our journey through various mountain landscapes, urban jungles, and quiet villages. The chaos and calm brought a lot of memories back of traveling the world as a young kid. I archived these experiences in my noggin until I found a recording space that felt comfortable and distraction-free. I wanted these feelings to breathe and have a home of their own. I set up a little studio in my childhood home in San Diego, CA, where I spent hours playing with sounds and arrangements like a little kid in a sandbox. Thus, Ecdysis was born.
Where can people hear you?
People can hear me on Spotify, iTunes, and Bandcamp! Thank you for giving your ears and hearts so generously to the music.
More on Alexandra: Last summer, freshly buzzing with inspiration after a five-week European tour, Alexandra (formerly Ali Burress) was eager to begin production on her fourth studio album. The songs of Ecdysis ([ek-duh-sis], the shedding of an older skin) cocoon listeners in a sense of childlike wonder and exploration—perhaps because Alexandra recorded and mixed the album entirely in her childhood home in San Diego. Encased in a more mature production style than her previous albums, Ecdysis is an 8-song ode to our inner child. Entranced by the processes of molting and metamorphosis, the 21-year-old Portland songwriter/producer speaks to how perfectionism can block the flow of creative consciousness, the trials of remaining openhearted and vulnerable in a world that wants to harden us, and reopening our innate receptivity to the messages being communicated to us in the dream world and waking life.
Inspired by relentless whisperings of the sea, chattering crickets in tall grass, and bubbling waterfall alcoves in deep forests, the trance-like rhythms of Ecdysis induce the feeling of flying in a dream; soaring above luminous, shifting terrain. Alexandra describes her recording process as finding a sonic home—somewhere she can comfortably return after periods of wandering to map the inner and outer landscapes she has explored. The sonic atmospheres Alexandra produces are shaped by her deep connection to nature and a childhood spent roaming the globe, which created constellation lines in her psyche spanning across mountain ranges, desert sands, and turquoise waters.
Here's a collection of tracks that would fit perfectly into a movie soundtrack. Look for these songs to be coming soon to soundtracks near you!
Background to the foreground. One of the things that we love most about music is the ability to discover new things about a song, no matter how many times we have heard it before.