Did any event in particular inspire you to write your new song, “Speed Into Air”?
I would say that a few events inspired this song…some good some not so good. The song actually started out as a 15-minute Americana love song that I wrote this past Spring while I was at boarding school. I had a whirlwind romance that impacted me a lot, which is what I wrote the first version of the song about. I never finished the song because I didn’t know how the story would end with this person. I just couldn’t finish it. It was one of those things where if I would’ve kept writing, this 15-minute song would turn into a never-ending piece. So, I just put it to rest and didn’t think about it until late August when I was flipping through my journal. By then, I knew how the story and the whirlwind romance would end. I’m not a person who will destroy a song of mine just because it doesn’t resonate with me anymore…or at least I try not to because I respect the fact that it did once upon a time. But, for some reason I felt like I wanted and needed to destroy this long romantic beautiful piece that I wrote. So, I really did! Haha, I turned on Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” which made me only want to destroy this piece even more. Which led to deconstructing what once was a warm love song, into this cold, screw you, power song.
Any plans to release a video for the track?
Not at this point, but it would be a fun video to make.
The single comes off your new EP Heart Talk Vol. 1 – what’s the story behind the title?
Well to be honest, I am not the best at naming things sometimes. I guess I just named it “Heart Talk” because it was the first time that I experienced a new type of vulnerability while writing. I let parts of my heart speak that I had not tapped into before and I really gave it free reign and let it all come out.
Would you call this a conceptual EP?
No, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s conceptual. More collective, I mean some of the same themes are woven through most of the songs but not with purpose. I wrote most of these songs pretty quickly over a short period of time, so they do correlate to each other, but not purposely. If they do, it’s subconscious.
This is Vol. 1 – is each EP installment going to follow a different theme?
No, it’s all a part of a collective work that I wrote. I didn’t want to release a full album at this point, so I just split it up.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was great. I’m a writer before a singer so writing songs is my vice, and one of the closest things to fulfilment that I have. I wrote most of these songs in my dorm room at boarding school during the dead of winter, pressed up against my little windowsill. I felt like I was in the “Dead Poets Society.” I loved writing up there! The East Coast had such a beautiful almost melancholic tone about it and every day I fell further and further in love with it. It was a special time for me, and I won’t ever forget it. When it was time for me to record, I did it back home with my producer Aaron Kelley at AK Songworks in Dallas, Texas. He is such an amazing musician that plays literally everything. He is also an incredibly humble, respectful and patient human being. I’m so blessed to be working with him because he really does let me lead the process and he trusts in my vision for the music and sound. I’m so thankful to be working with someone like that at such a young age because a lot of artists don’t have that. I think all singer songwriters should have creative freedom for their vision, but a lot don’t, especially the young ones. A lot of what I do is based off feeling and what I see when I hear the music. One of my goals as an artist is to connect auditory to visual. I want someone to see, touch and feel a certain way when they listen to my music…like they are watching a movie.
What role does your hometown play in your music?
Hometown is a weird word for me because I was born in LA, spent most of my life in Austin, then moved to Dallas for about a year and a half before I went to boarding school up in New Hampshire. Now, I’m back in Dallas homeschooling and pursuing my music. So, I don’t exactly know which one would be truly considered as a hometown because I grew up in all those places, lived different lives between each, and gained wisdom from everywhere I’ve been. But of course, they impact my music, especially my early stuff because it was really hard for me to leave Austin in middle school. It felt almost like a death to me at the time. Because I knew I would never be the person I was there again. So, most of my early writing revolved around the dynamics of leaving, loneliness and community. But you know it was one of the biggest blessing I’ve ever had looking back…having the opportunity of shedding my skin and coming into my own, learning the beauty in a little bit of isolation, dealing with some bullying, realizing who I am and what I want to do in this life. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I only had one hometown, and one perspective. It’s a gift not many get. If you stay in a place for too long, you grow comfortable and forget that there’s more to this world than the little bubble you live in.
Which aspects of your own life did you get to explore on this EP? How much did this EP serves as a therapeutic session for you?
The EP provides a window into the trials and errors of a 17-year-old girl’s love life. I think if you’re writing songs and it’s not therapeutic for you, then why are you even writing songs in the first place?
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Movies, other artists, life experiences, billboards on the side of the road, bumper stickers, gravel under my feet. It’s all around me!
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m focusing right now on becoming a better writer, a better musician, reading as many books as I can, listening to as many new and obscure artists as I can find, and really honing my craft before I hit the road. My time will come. I’m only 17, there’s no rush. You know, it’s funny because everybody is in this big rush to make it big while they are super young, especially girls because the industry puts this pressure on them like no one wants to listen to or watch some 30-year-old on stage. That to me is total BS! There’s either good music or bad music and there’s really nothing else to it. I have time. Having said that, we are working on a few dates later this year at some cool venues. Everyone should go too, because it will be super sick.
What else is happening next in Alex McArtor’s world?
Later this year Heart Talk Vol. II will be released, and we might be adding another video or two.…but for now I am writing and recording new songs and working on putting them out.