Image & Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“I discovered that I enjoyed teaching myself guitar
and writing songs way more
than playing scales in a practice room.”
— ALEX LAHEY
Alex Lahey is a musician from Melbourne, Australia. She released her debut EP B-Grade University in July 2016 on her own label, Nicky Boy Records, in conjunction with Caroline Australia. The EP has received critical acclaim, and Alex Lahey has toured internationally, including a debut at SXSW in 2017. Lahey recently signed to Dead Oceans, and B-Grade University is receiving a US release through the label.
On her debut EP, B-Grade University, Melbourne’s Alex Lahey takes on her post-grad life in all its mundanity and confusion after dropping out of college to pursue her own music. Its lead track “Ivy League” opens with the question “If I was an ivy league kind of girl, do you think that they would give me more shifts at work?” Lahey’s lyrics are imbued with this same casual, raw honesty and anxiety about life choices, layered over fuzzy guitar and lively rhythms. The result is an optimism and infectious excitement, despite the situation, even emboldened by it. This is what makes Lahey’s music so relatable, and what garnered her so much attention since she self-released the EP in summer of 2016. Lahey has since signed to Dead Oceans, and B-Grade University is now receiving its official US release.
Issue recently met up with Lahey for a live performance at her motel in West Hollywood, where she played “Wes Anderson”.
Where are you from?
I’m from Melbourne, Australia.
When did you start making music?
I’ve been playing music my entire life, but picked up the guitar and started writing songs when I was about 13 years old.
Who did you listen to growing up and who is your music influenced by today?
Growing up, I taught myself how to play guitar by learning songs by artists like Tegan and Sara, Michelle Branch, The Beatles and Missy Higgins. These days, I’m influenced by a lot of my friends and peers like Eilish Gilligan, Bec Sandridge, Julien Baker and Julia Jacklin.
How would you describe your musical genre/style?
Relaxed yet upbeat indie rock.
How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
After a music lesson with my favorite teacher in high school when I was 14, I knew music was all I wanted to do.
What’s your story of getting started as a musician?
I learned how to play in bands by playing saxophone in my high school big band. During this time, I was also writing songs, but just thought of it as a hobby of sorts. As I went to study jazz at university, I discovered that, in fact, I enjoyed teaching myself guitar and writing songs way more than playing scales in a practice room.
“I learned how to play in bands
by playing saxophone
in my high school big band.”
— Alex Lahey
How does it feel to have finished your first EP? What was the process like?
Although the EP has been finished for a while, it feels awesome to finally have it out in the US. The recording of the EP was a relatively relaxed process that took place in my producer’s little studio in Abbotsford, Melbourne. I’m really proud of it.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
A Swedish songwriter and producer, Max Martin found fame in string of late-1990s hits for the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and NSYNC. Since, he appeared on the Billboard 100 for songs including Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”, Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.” He has won nine ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards and has produced 22 number one hits.
Max Martin—I want to know the secrets of the inner sanctum.
What’s your favorite book, film, and music right now?
At the moment, I’m reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, watching Black Mirror on Netflix and listening to The Big Moon.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
My cats, eating good food and copious cups of tea.
What are you working on now?
Although I’m touring a lot at the moment, I’m currently working on my debut album, which is due out at the end of the year.