by GSC Reporter, Daniel Reifsnyder
Dan Reifsnyder: How did you get started in music?
Alexa Valentino: About 10 years ago, I must have been in like pre-school. My mom used to take me to a lot of shows whether it was Broadway or a local production. In my town we have a really nice theater. It’s really high quality, and a lot of Broadway people come out. They did summer classes and after school acting, singing, and music. She put me in these classes and I really liked it and I did a lot of their productions. I started getting better and better roles and I was like “I really like theater!” So I started doing off Broadway shows at 9, and more productions in the city. My first show was actually the U.S. premiere of “Number The Stars” which was about the Holocaust, and I got to play Ellen Rosen. It was a hard role to play because it’s a very serious show, and a hard role for a 9 year old. I really did not think I was gonna get the role either. A lot of times I’d walk out of an audition and be like “Nailed it!” and I wouldn’t get it. I actually showed up at the audition and there was one scene where we had to run around in a circle and I fell flat on my face! I was like “That’s it! I’m done!” I also had never auditioned for this woman before, and she was someone where the more you audition with her the more you go up in her company. She’s not someone where you get a role on the first try. So when I got a callback I was like “Huh?” I did Molly in “Annie”, I did “Les Mis” which is one of my favorites. I did “Dream Street”, I did “Suess” like three times. And that was all the way up until I was like 11. At that point that was all I knew. So I had envisioned myself having a long career in theater, and potentially Broadway. But a bunch of my friends from that community ended up joining an anti-bullying organization called Free To Love. You take a pledge online, they give you signs for your social media posts, and I was a part of it. They reached out to me and said they’d love it if I could write a theme song for them. And I did enjoy songwriting, but it hadn’t really clicked for me yet as something I really wanted to do with my life. So during the intermission of a New York Islander game, I took out this little notebook – that I still have – and in 15-20 minutes I wrote this song called “Free To Love”. I got this team of producers and managers and developers and started to work with them. I recorded the song at a studio in New Jersey and I made a music video! When I made the music video I think that’s when I knew I wanted to be an artist. It got a lot of shares, and the organization promoted it, and it was really great! One of my last Off-Broadway shows I did was written by Debbie Gibson’s nephew and directed by Debbie Gibson’s sister. Debbie came to the last show, and the director said “I told my sister that you write music, and she writes music and she’s gonna talk to you for a little bit!” My parents apparently worshiped her growing up so they’re on the other side of the theater like freaking out. And I was like “Hi, I have no idea who you are but it’s nice to meet you!” So Debbie and I started to FaceTime and she taught me a lot of what I know about songwriting. She helped me write my next couple singles, and I started to release music and got a manager and I’ve been an artist since then. I’ve obviously grown a lot, and gotten a lot more into songwriting now with going to Nashville and everything. But that was my start! It’s been a ride!
DR: Heck of a start! How would you describe your sound?
AV: I would say my style is like an edgy pop. Very similar to Tate McRae or Halsey. The Pop lane, but not like an Ariana Grande mainstream. I use a lot of minor chords and synthy productions. I would say in that realm.
DR: How did you get hooked up with GSC?
AV: I was 13 and my mom was like “I think Nashville is a really good place for songwriters!” so we just got in the car and just drove. I did a lot of touristy stuff, like I went to the What Lifts You wall in the Gulch. I went to Broadway and performed at the Bluebird. And my mom was just Googling stuff and she found NSAI and GSC. I wanted to join both of them, and I did. On our last day there, my mom got a call from a 615 number and it was Sheree! She was like “Why don’t you come down to my home and we can chat?” And I was like “Aw, she’s nice!” So we drove to Sheree’s house and were there for like 3 hours. That was when my songwriting really began. She just brought out this songwriter in me that I didn’t really know existed. Everything I know about songwriting or Nashville goes back to her. She’s like my Nashville mom. She’s like the Oprah of Nashville!
DR: I call her that too! She really is!
AV:She’s the best. From then on it’s been amazing.
DR: What are some songs you wish you’d written?
AV: Every Lady Gaga song. Let’s start there. Definitely the first 45 seconds of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I know I was talking about Tate McRae definitely “You Broke Me First”, that song is so soso good. And, a solid half of the “Reputation” album by Taylor Swift.
DR: Good stuff! Do you have any projects you’re working on?
AV: Yes! So I released a single a month ago now called “Scorpio” featuring artist Jake Ryan, who’s like a rapper. It did really well, and I was really happy about that. It’s the first single off my EP that’s coming. And the second single “Bad Boy Good” is out now with the music video yay! I haven’t filmed or released a music video in well over a year, but I wanted to do it for this one because it’s the best song I’ve ever written. Last month when I posted a little behind the scenes clip and it got like 134,000 views and I was shocked! I’ve never passed the 100,000 view or stream mark so the pressure was on. And I do have my EP coming out in January.
DR: You must be really good on social media if you’re getting that many views!
AV: I do spend a lot of time on social media! Sheree is always like “Can you teach me?”. I used to be spread out across all the different platforms, but I’ve been focusing all my energy on Instagram and I think that’s really helped that grow.
DR: So what are some challenges you face as a younger artist? You’regonna be 16 soon.
AV: I would definitely say a lot of people don’t take you very seriously when you’re younger. That’s why if I’m on the phone with somebody about something I never tell people my age unless I have to. The minute you tell someone your age they’re like “Aw, really?” I feel like I’ve experienced a lot of things at a very young age that I normally wouldn’t have experienced yet. So I feel a lot older than I actually am. I would say not being taken as seriously is the biggest thing. That’s why I’m really happy that Billie Eilish blew up. She blew up when she was my age. Tate McRae too. To see a young artist have the spotlight is inspiring. I actually wrote a song one time – a solo write – called “15”. Just about being underestimated for my age. It certainly is a struggle.
DR: Well cool! Do you have any closing thoughts?
AV: Follow me on instagram – alexavalentino!