Alexandra Alden: ‘Always be kind and always be honest’

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter is today a judge on X Factor, but after recording her debut album ‘Wild Honey’ in June 2018, she will be touring Scandinavia, central Europe and the Mediterranean

Alexandra Alden: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? It was something my grandmother told me - ‘give and take - with grace’.
Alexandra Alden: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? It was something my grandmother told me - ‘give and take - with grace’.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Turn off my alarm. Then it’s time for coffee.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

It was something my grandmother told me - ‘give and take - with grace’.

What do you never leave the house without?

My house key – although that’s not completely true as I’ve locked myself outside the house multiple times! Normally I keep a little backpack containing my phone, some money for the bus, notebook and pen, a stick of lipstick and sunglasses (come rain or shine) and if it’s summer, a little beach towel (just in case!).

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Creative, soft-spoken, a little bit giggly and silly.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Recording and releasing my debut full length album ‘Wild Honey’ on vinyl earlier this year.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I try to avoid feeling guilty about anything these days unless it involves having hurt someone. I naturally feel guilty for things I shouldn’t... though I guess maybe I should have asked before eating one of my flatmate’s ‘stroopwaffels’!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To always be kind and to always be honest. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge, too.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

My wonderful instrument. It’s a Martin 000 model and a rich, deep brown colour. It changed my playing forever.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

That you really should always listen to your gut and speak up for yourself. Put yourself first. Also that it is very important not to stress the petty things, because it’s not going to matter tomorrow or the next. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.

Who’s your inspiration?

The people who are closest to me are the people I know to also be the strongest and most resilient. I like to keep myself in inspiring and good company! Artistically, I look up to Nick Drake... such a pity he had to leave this world so young, having only released three albums by the age of 26.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Studying for my Jazz bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands was very intense, having no formal education in music before.

If you weren’t a singer, what would you be doing?

I would definitely have pursued Illustration... or I might be trying to push Malta to compete in the Olympics for Rock Climbing!

Do you believe in God?

This is a difficult question.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

David Bowie. Maybe some of his genius will rub off on me by being in his presence.

What’s your worst habit?

Overthinking.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Less inhibited.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Some have said I look like Keira Knightley. So maybe her. Do you agree? I think it’s a bit of a stretch! (movie-wise and looks-wise).

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Arrogance.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Hmmm. Probably my own. It’s one thing I might be remembered by and I like that idea.

What is your most treasured material possession?

Oh I’ll mention my guitar again. I really don’t value material things that much.

What is your earliest memory?

Waking up in my cot in the early hours of the morning and seeing my brother asleep in the bed next to me. I managed to climb out and walk into the hallway.

When did you last cry, and why?

I watched a video of my grandmother which my granddad took. He made a joke from behind the camera and my grandmother gave a response which was very typical of her.

Who would you most like to meet?

Joni Mitchell. I wonder what she would tell a young songwriter such as myself. Also Nick Cave... although I’ll probably just stand there star-struck.

What’s your favourite food?

Pa-aancakes! Savoury or sweet. Blueberries, yoghurt, peanut butter... or cheese, onions, avocado... Oh gosh I’m becoming hungry. There’s a thing called a ‘pancake boat’ in the Netherlands. It’s amazing.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Louis Cole.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

To the future - where space travel is quick, efficient and convenient... and then return to a healthy planet earth where turtles don’t mistake plastic bags in the sea for jellyfish.

What book are you reading right now?

‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro,

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Flying. I’d also like to travel to different dimensions too.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Fall in love with someone who loves me back. Playing at the Royal Albert Hall would be a dream come true too.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Music my friends make - the Redbourg Quartet, ‘MILD’ and David Ahlen to name just a few.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I’ve had Kimbra’s new album on repeat for that recently, and Louis Cole’s ‘Time’. It’s feel good music. I also really like waking up to bands like Grizzly Bear and Death Cab for Cutie. Coffee goes well with a bit of folk and indie.

Tell Us...

Which artists have inspired your music?

During the writing of ‘Wild Honey’ I looked to the works of Nick Drake for his sensitivity and beautiful alternate tunings and Joni Mitchell for her strong sense of purpose, presence and confessional qualities in her singing and lyrics. A couple other names which come to mind are Bert Jansch, Anne Briggs, Chris Whitley and also my fellow friend and colleague Marien Okkerse, who is an amazing cellist and also plays on my album. He inspires me every time I hear him and I’ve learned a lot from his playing and approach to music. Meeting him three years ago completely changed my life. He has a very distinct tone and creates the most wonderful, dreamy, soundscapes. I don’t know any other cellist who plays the way he does.

Where in the world would you choose to perform your last show ever?

Gozo. Down on the salt-pans by the sea at sunset surrounded by my loved ones and all those who are fans of my music.

How does it feel being a judge on X Factor Malta? What should we expect from the show?

Being a judge on the X Factor is a great responsibility and honour. You can expect laughter and tears. You can expect the unexpected, too. Nothing like this has ever been done in Malta before, I just hope my fellow Maltese are ready for it!

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