INTERVIEW: Alex & Sierra

It was just over a year ago that Alex & Sierra charmed our television screens and ears for the first time.

There was magic in the chemistry that Alex Kinsey and Sierra Deaton shared both on and off the stage. The duo became the first group to win The X Factor USA crown, tallying the highest number of votes from viewers every single week. The vision that Alex & Sierra shared for their music was evident from their reworking of songs that they performed on the show.

Rather than rushing the release of their debut album, the duo put effort and time towards the writing and recording process. The result? It’s About Us was released last month and made it to #8 on the Billboard charts in its first week. As Florida natives, it makes sense that Alex & Sierra have the sunniest of dispositions, and rightfully so with a music career and fan base that only continues to grow.

Last week, we had the opportunity to chat with Alex & Sierra over the phone about co-writing their debut album and the fans. What was the first song in your memory that inspired you to pursue music?

Alex Kinsey: There’s a song – this is going to come as no surprise to anyone that has ever read anything about me, but there’s a song by Jason Mraz and it’s called “The Dream Life of Rand McNally”, like the map maker. There’s something about that song that… I don’t know. That’s one of the first songs that I ever remember actually listening to and being just blown away by the lyrics.

Sierra Deaton: Oh my goodness, this is the most difficult thing ever – I really don’t think that I can pick just one. I remember going to Warped Tour though and watching all of the musicians on stage and how much fun they were having really made me want to be a musician, but I don’t know if I could just pick one song… I have a really, really broad taste in music. Can I pause on that?

A: No worries! We can come back to it in the end.

Sierra: Oh, good!

A: One thing that was clear from the moment the two of you won X-Factor – besides the chemistry you shared, was that you wanted to co-write your debut album. How important was it for the both of you to get involved in the songwriting process?

Sierra: I think for us, it was extremely important. We don’t want to be seen as just, you know, kids that were handed a record deal or anything. We want to be songwriters as well – we don’t want this to be just a flash in a pan type of thing. We want to be playing music for as long as we can and we thought that being involved in the songs and being a part of the creation would make it easier to garner respect and then we could be proud of the things that we’re singing and performing because we made them. It was just really important to us to be proud of what we came up with and being involved in that would make us really proud.

A: Was there anything else that came out of the recording process that came as a surprise that you were really proud of?

Alex: We wrote for about three months for the album and in those three months we wrote about 50 songs or so. There’s still quite a few leftover and the 40, 35 that we still have that we really, really love and would love to release at some point. There’s definitely some stuff in there that we really want to get out because it’s really good, we think. But surprising? I think just the writing process in general was surprising. Just being a part of that and seeing how different people write – we get to write with some really, really amazing people and I think just watching their process and learning from that was a really surprising thing and really fun and exciting. It was a really cool three months.

A: So Sierra previously described your music as “a cup of singer-songwriter, a sprinkle of fun, and a dash of energy” – what has been the most interesting description that you’ve heard someone else use to describe your music?

Sierra: Oh!

Alex: You have all the hard-hitting questions!

Sierra: I know! Your questions are so good! Someone said our music was like… not like, it made them want to sit in a rowboat while we serenaded them.

Alex: That was a funny one.

A: You have quite an extensive fan base with supporters from all over the world. How does it feel to have people from all these different countries embrace what you do and being able to connect with them through your music and through social media?

Sierra: It’s pretty insane and really surreal that people from other countries, places we’ve never ever been to in our lives, can relate to our music especially the things that we’ve created and especially with the language barrier in other countries where English isn’t their first language.

Alex: I don’t know if it’s really hit us yet though because we’ve not been anywhere except for America to play shows. I think it’s really going to become apparent and be really emotional and amazing when we go overseas – hopefully that opportunity presents itself, but it’s pretty amazing to think that people know who we are in different places and I’m excited to experience that firsthand.

A: What has been one of the most memorable fan encounters that you guys have had?

Sierra: There’s a lot! A recent one was this four-year old girl and she was freaking out. I didn’t even think at four, I could love something so much that wasn’t like a Disney character or something. She was just so cute, I picked her up and she started singing one of our songs – it was really, really cute and I fell in love with her and I really wanted to keep her. That was one of my favourites. There was a girl that literally walked up to us, cried, and didn’t say a single word. We took pictures and we kept trying to talk to her but she couldn’t speak and then she left.

Alex: That was hilarious.

Sierra: It was really cute because she just couldn’t speak at all and never spoke to us and just cried the whole time. But honestly, every single fan encounter and getting to meet the fans is something that we love and really, really cherish – meeting the people that have actually supported us and getting to thank them in person. It’s always cool hearing what they have to say, especially the ones that are like… there was a guy that was in the hospital that sick and he would listen to our music and it got him through that. Stuff like that, it’s really humbling and it makes me super happy.

A: If you could narrow down a message that you would want your music to convey, what might that be?

Alex: I think just happiness and love. It’s tough, because the music has just a bunch of different meanings and the songs aren’t necessarily about one theme specifically. I think just in general, it’s like us performing and us being able to be performers and be musicians. I think the message that we’d like to spread is to just find something that you love and stick to it. Whether it’s a person or a passion or whatever it might be, just make sure that you dedicate as much time as you possibly can to the things that are important to you. That’s definitely something that we’ve tried to do as much as possible and it’s a really happy way to live. So I think happiness, love – positive things, we really like positivity.

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