Swedish singer/songwriter Simon Alexander emerged in 2017, breathing new air into the modern folk scene with his profound lyrics and heartfelt melodies, getting comparisons to Matt Corby and Dylan LeBlanc. The past years have contained several acclaimed releases, big features in influential magazines and touring around Scandinavia.
We had a chat to Simon about how it all started, his songwriting process and what to expect in the future!
How did music play a role in your life growing up?
When I look back at my youth I imagine it as constantly surrounded by music, like a soundtrack playing in the background. My dad as an old musician rooted in 60-70’s music introduced me to Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and I hung around in his studio a lot. So I pretty much lived with a pair of headphones on, or went to live performances, from early on.
What was the first instrument you learnt?
Drums was my main weapon of choice until about five years ago. Have played everything from reggae to metal, and everything in between.
How did you feel going from being the main backbone in bands to then playing guitar and singing as a front man?
To be honest it took quite some effort to go from sitting in the back, to being a front man. That change was really scary at first, especially since I’ve never been confident about my guitar playing. But somehow I had the need to express myself musically in a different way, and to do so I had to learn to face my fears. All it took was practice and just doing it again, and again.
What does Simon Alexander get up to in his spare time aside from music?
I’m currently studying communication and culture, and writing my bachelor thesis. The sun has just kinda returned to Sweden, so besides that I try to be outside as much as I can.
How is your songwriting process, are you all about lyrics first or is it a melody that sparks into a masterpiece?
Mostly melodies and ideas just kinda pops up in my head, perhaps influenced by things I’m currently listening to. After that I give it a lot of time with my acoustic guitar, just trying to create a good vibe - before I eventually record demos and starts to add more flavors. Sometimes it takes a week until I have a finished song, sometimes years. What I think is important is to not romanticize how you’re ”suppose to write songs”. I don’t need to sit on a hill watching the sunset to write a lyric, it can happen on the tram or while watching something on TV. As long as it feels real and honest.
It has been a crazy year to say the least. How has covid affected you and your music career? What have you done to stay motivated during these hard times?
Like for everyone it just came to a stop, or at least performing live. But I probably had the most productive year yet when it comes to releases, as I released two albums late 2020. But after that I decided to take a break and focus on other things in life. Pouring out a whole lot of songs in three years has taken it’s toll on my creativity, and I needed to give it some time to ignite that flame again. But it’s slowly coming back.
We have been fortunate enough to see you play live both with a band and solo. I believe these songs work so well in an intimate setting solo, to then getting the crowd up on their feet playing as a full band, which do you prefer?
For me it’s like two different entities, and I love that. It’s such a different experiences to have a silent room listening to every word, or to have people in the front dancing and singing along. But as I’ve always loved to have a band and to make some magical moments in a rehearsal space, I think that’s my favorite thing to do right now.
Listen to Simon Alexanders album here!
We loved your spin on the classic song Cotton Eye Joe originally by Rednex, what was your inspiration behind this one?
I absolutely love James Vincent McMorrows cover of Wicked Game, which already is a one of my favorite songs in original. But I figured that perhaps I could do my own interpretation, but on a weirder song. I wanted to create something serene out of something opposite, and what happened was that the lyrics gained some meaning and depth. When I played it live a bunch of times I saw how people started smiling when they figured out which song it was, so I decided to record it so that everyone could experience that ”aha moment”.
What can we expect from Simon Alexander in the future?
Sometime this year a project I’ve been working on will see the light of day. I can’t really say anything about it yet, but it’s an original song written for a specific purpose, and it’s been recorded by me and my band from our homes. I’m super excited about it, and I think some people will be pleasantly surprised.
Besides that I’m gonna hopefully play some showcase shows on Live At Heart and Future Echoes in Sweden, if everything works out. Either way I’m not finished due to this pandemic, I’ll be back with new energy and motivation when we all can dance together again!