Delivering a sound that is both fresh and uniquely her
own, guitarist and songwriter ALEXX CALISE combines hard rock,
electronica, and urban-edged pop with crunchy guitars, angsty lyrics,
and an instantly identifiable vocal that is hauntingly beautiful and
completely raw all at once.
Calise grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she
spent her childhood mostly alone or in the pages of a notebook, finding
comfort only in her parents’ vast record collection, which included
everything from Mozart to Led Zeppelin. At 11, she picked up the guitar
to emulate her father, also a talented musician, and began fusing the
melodies she heard in her head with her own poetry and recitations.
Now living in Los Angeles, California and continuing
along the same path, she has appeared in several national TV
commercials, shows and special programs (including the Discovery Channel
documentary, "The Science of Sex Appeal"), and she has been featured in
Blender magazine, Guitar World, and the how-to/method book, "How to
Succeed as a Female Musician" alongside such notable musicians as Lisa
Loeb and The Donnas. Her music is in heavy rotation on MTV/VH1 Networks,
and on thousands of radio stations internationally. Most recently,
Alexx's song, "Morning Pill" was used in a One Tree Hill promo, she
appeared as the lead guitarist for a Disney Imagineering DVD about
soundwaves, and she was featured on Boston's #1 Hit Station, Kiss 108
FM as a "hot up-and-coming indie artist."
Recently, Calise recorded the follow-up to her 2007
critically-acclaimed debut album, ‘Morning Pill’, as well as her debut
album with other music project, Sound of Cancer (with accomplished
drummer/songwriter, Dennis Morehouse). Both albums will be released
simultaneously in March 2010.
Recently we got in touch with Alexx and it seems there is
much to talk about and so we send ALEXX CALISE some questions,
here you can read what she had to say to the readers of
First of all, could you start this interview off with a
short introduction of yourself, who is Alexx Calise?
Alexx Calise is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery; sealed
with a question that never goes answered, ha ha. In all seriousness
though, I am a bit of a walking contradiction. I’m extremely
introverted, quiet and shy, but put me up on a stage and I become a
completely different person—I’m loud, energetic, fearless and confident.
I guess that’s the only way I truly know how to speak. I’ve been writing
for as long as I can remember, playing guitar since 11, and performing
since I was a kid. It’s really the only thing I know how to do, and do
Secondly, Congratulations on your 2nd solo album, which
will be released soon, of course we’d like to ask you a couple of
questions about it.
Which approach did you choose to create this album? Did
you go for a more raw exposition…or something more reminiscent of your
previous other works, or something all together different?
The new album is much more produced than my last record,
and it has a unique, adrenaline-inducing “rocktronica” sound that can be
attributed to my producer’s dance and electronica background, and my
affinity for rock and grunge. I already did the straight-ahead rock
thing with my debut album, so I wanted to go in a different, more modern
direction and push the envelope a bit.
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
It really just depends on the song. Sometimes, I’ll write
a song in 10 minutes (I love when that happens), and other times, I’ll
slave over them for a week or so and drive myself crazy. Usually, the
songwriting process goes like this: I start out with a melody, then I
come up with the concept, and then I “free write,” so to speak. When I
have a general idea of what I’m going to do, I adjust the lyrics to
whatever the meter of the song is. A lot of my material is very staccato
melodically speaking, because I tend to write a lot of words.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record your 2nd solo album? Any elements you definitely wanted to have
on the album?
I wanted to go in a completely different direction with
this record and expand my musical scope. I already did the lo-fi thing
with “Morning Pill,” so I decided to change it up and add some
electronica elements this time around. I also wanted this record to be a
bit more cohesive and representative of my true self than my last one.
Now, I really know which direction I want to go in, I have my songs
together; I have my image together, and I’m more in control of my own
Is there a title yet, because I couldn’t find it. If so,
could you please describe the implications of the title, what does it
stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
The new album is called “In Avanti.” It’s actually
Italian for “onward.” I think it’s very simple, yet very poignant, and
it signifies a new chapter in my life and career.
What about the lyrics, where do you get your inspiration
from and can you tell me something more about them?
I’m inspired by love, hate, joy, pain, life, death, the
human condition, the human psyche, existentialism and secular humanism.
My lyrics are extremely self-exploratory and esoteric, so anyone who
reads them will be getting a glimpse into my innermost thoughts.
How important is it to you that people pay attention to
the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
I think my lyrics are the most important elements of my
music. I take great pride in my writing, and I always, always write from
the heart. My lyrics also speak volumes about me as a human being. Even
if you don’t necessarily enjoy the genre of music I’m performing, I
think you’ll at least be able to appreciate what I have to say, because
I’m not a run-of-the mill pop artist. I actually have substance.
Can you give us a little background about the songs on
the album, is there a story behind them?
Each song has its own individual story and concept, but
on the whole, most of them are about strength, standing up for yourself,
looking inward for answers and just saying “to hell” with all the
negativity in your life.
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
Definitely melody. If you don’t have a good melody, you
don’t have a good song, simple as that. Melody is what initially hooks
people, and keeps them listening past the first 30 seconds. After you
have their attention, they’ll be more apt to pay attention to your
lyrics and analyze the rest of your composition.
The bottom line is, no one is going to listen to a
gratuitous musical piece that you and your other 4 friends like. Say
what you need to say (within reason), and get out. That’s not to say you
can’t be artistic, and that you have to write everything verse,
pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, and out, but if
you, the writer can’t stomach your own composition, then no one else
will be able to.
How did the recording process proceed and how much time
did you spend in the studio?
I’d already collaborated on a song with my producer,
Luigie Gonzalez for my first record, and I absolutely loved what we came
up with, so it was an easy decision to go with him again for the second
The overall recording process was spread out over 3
years. I spent the 2 years following the release of my first record
really pushing that album, and the last year or so writing and recording
songs for my solo project and my other project with Dennis Morehouse,
Sound of Cancer. It’s been quite a grueling process to say the least,
but it is a labor of love.
How would you sum up this album to someone that has never
listened to it?
It sounds like the lovechild of Alanis Morrisette and The
Which element of this new release are you most proud of?
I’m really glad that it sounds like one cohesive body of
work, and that it has a definitive sound. I was still trying to figure
out who I was and what my sound was going to be on my first album. Now,
I know exactly where I want to go, what I want to do and how I want to
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
What are you personally into?
Well, as an artist, I’m inspired by other art, be it
incredibly good or horrendously bad…horrendously bad in particular,
because it tends to have character, ha ha.
I’m also a voracious reader too, and really dig into
authors like Cormac McCarthy, Tucker Max, Chuck Klosterman, and Janet
Fitch. If it’s dark, sardonic, or satirical, it’s right up my alley.
Could you respond to the following terms in just one word
Music : everything
Underground : good freakin’ music
Internet : addiction
Religion : usually misinterpreted or taken too literally
Politics : crooked The Netherlands : would love to visit U.S.A. : God
bless America, my home, sweet home
What have been the highlights and low points throughout
High points: Doing this interview
Low points: Finishing this interview. I’m already crying
What is your opinion on the music scene these days? Is
there anything missing in the scene and what makes you different from
the other singer / songwriters out there?
I think the music industry is in a state of flux right
now. I honestly don’t know what to think of it, or what the future of
music is in general. People are illegally downloading music like crazy
(and are under the impression that it is, in fact, free), concert
attendance is way down (unless of course you’re a major player like Lady
Gaga or Beyonce and/or have an amazing marketing team behind you), and
people are starting to view music as background noise. It’s almost
become disposable to some. There are a variety of reasons why that is,
but it doesn’t make it any easier for indie artists to make a buck these
However, I do have faith. Everything in life is cyclical
and something will eventually give. For now, us artists will just have
to find alternative ways to generate income while we continue pursuing
To answer your other question, I think what sets me apart
from other singer / songwriters are my lyrics. Whether or not you’re
into “rocktronica”, I think you’ll be able to appreciate what I have to
say, because I always stress the importance of self-preservation and
strength, and I write very empirically.
Are there any particular bands who’ve been a big
influence on your song writing, metal or otherwise and which album has
been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is
what I want to do!”?
My biggest musical influence has always been silverchair.
Ever since I played my middle school’s talent show and performed their
song, “Suicidal Dream,” I knew that this was what I was supposed to do.
I just so happened to scare the hell out of all the students and
teachers in the auditorium that day, haha!
Album wise, there have been a few record I hold dear to
my heart and I consider huge influencers: “Freak Show” from silverchair,
“Grace” from Jeff Buckley, “Mechanical Animals” from Marilyn Manson,
“Lie To Me” from Johnny Lang, “Ledbetter Heights” from Kenny Wayne
Shepherd” and “Clumsy” from Our Lady Peace.
What can we expect from Alexx Calise in the near future,
any touring plans for Europe?
After the release of my 2nd album, and the debut album
from my other band, Sound of Cancer, I plan to do some extensive touring
throughout the States and possibly Europe. I am planning the logistics
of everything as we speak.
Is there anything left that has been left unmentioned,
here is your chance?
Yes! Please check out my new album, ‘In Avanti’ , which
will be released in the next 3 weeks. I’ll also be releasing the debut
album from my other project, Sound of Cancer, in the next month or so.
Both albums will be available at Alexxcalise.com,
Soundofcancer.com, Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and many other major online
Alexx Calise – All instruments and vocals
(2007) - Morning Pill
(2010) - In Avanti