In her new single “Strange Things,” Alex Dunaway uses her raw sultry sound to convey heartbreak in light of personal responsibility. She describes a time of change, wrestling with self-blame.
People wax reflective during times of heartbreak, reliving every conversation, wondering when everything started to fall apart. After expressing a love-hate relationship with silence, Dunaway slowly begins to embrace change. But she admits the fear of feeling too alive, separate from the one she loved.
I had the privilege of discussing the song with Alex and getting some answers to my questions:
All right Alex, introduce yourself! Where are you from? And how did you start singing?
All right so I’m Alex and I’m from Murrieta, California. I started singing because my dad would always sing to me. We’ve been singing songs together for longer than I can remember.
Do you play any instruments? What is one instrument you would love to learn?
Yes! I’ve been playing piano for 16 years (classically trained), and guitar for about 8. My dad was the one who got me started on guitar, and from that point I’ve been self-taught. I have always wanted to learn how to play cello!! Hands-down the most beautiful instrument I’ve ever heard.
You studied at LIPA! Talk to me about that experience. How did you grow as a musician there? Would you recommend it to others?
LIPA was an amazing experience. Before LIPA I had never been in a band, or recorded my own music, or collaborated with any other artists. It taught me so much about the music industry and about my own music and style. There were times where I felt like it wasn’t worth it, and felt like I wasn’t making any progress because I wasn’t releasing music. But in hindsight, I made so much progress, and I got an amazing education. I would definitely recommend LIPA for any artist at any stage.
Do you have friends with similar interests and talents that encourage and grow you?
I felt alone musically in my suburban town while I was growing up, and it wasn’t until I got to LIPA that I met musicians that were like-minded to me. I joined my friend Camilla Sky’s band in school, who is also a folky singer-songwriter, and her music definitely inspired me and continues to amaze me. Even more so- being around people and hearing music of different genres has inspired my music to take different paths then it originally would have.
What artist (past or current) inspires you most and influences your style as a musician?
I started off writing poetry before I was a musician, so artists like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan inspired me a lot when I was first getting started, and still inspire me today. Also, people who stood their ground and went their own way musically, and succeeded, like Regina Spektor or Fleet Foxes, have been a big influence on my music.
What inspires you when you have writer’s block?
I usually don’t get writer’s block because I never force myself to write. However, recently I was going through a lot of emotions and really wanted to write something, but couldn’t come up with anything. So I wrote a song about having writer’s block and the rest just kind of worked itself out.
Do you work with the same production team on each song? Do you switch it up? Or is it all you?
On the two singles that I have released, my producer was Marenius Alvereng, an amazing sound technician that I met at LIPA. We worked on a lot together, and hopefully will work together again in the future. Since I’ve graduated however, I’ve tried producing my songs on my own, and that’s currently a work-in-progress. J
In “Strange Things” you almost seem to have a love/hate relationship with yourself. During your time writing this song, did you struggle to find a balance between honesty and revealing too much? Was it difficult to release something this raw?
I definitely had to keep it vague because I wouldn’t want to reveal the identity of the person I wrote it about. I don’t know that I struggled too much with the balance; I think when I write I always explain pretty bluntly how I feel, but not necessarily clearly delivering what the actual situation is. I don’t find it that difficult to release something this raw as that’s how all my music is. I was very anxious about my first single release, but I had played it live enough times to be certain about sharing it with the world.
What was the writing process like? The “oooh’s” at the end produce an almost healing effect. Was finishing this song a cathartic experience for you? Was it something you needed to do to feel more at peace?
I think finishing any song is a cathartic experience for me. Once I’ve finished explaining how I feel through writing, it’s as if I don’t have to feel it as deeply anymore. The ooh’s definitely serve as a sort of exhale, like a final acceptance of the situation and my feelings toward it.
What do you hope your listeners glean from “Strange Things?”
I guess I hope that it makes anyone who’s going through something similar feel less alone. I hope that with all my music. Even the most personal situations can be relatable to someone else and make them feel like what they’re going through is normal.
What can we expect from you in the future? Any albums or big shows on the way?
No big shows as of now. Unfortunately I lost my band since moving from Liverpool back to California. So that part of my project needs work before I start planning any big shows or small tours, but you can definitely expect more music to keep popping up. Whether it’s another single or EP next, I don’t plan on stopping or pausing any time soon.
While Alex Dunaway builds a band and makes more music, let “Strange Things” hold you over. And don’t let the fear of change stop you from feeling truly alive.