"I've been so beat down and burned out, I seem so worn out and stressed now," Christian Alexander sings gently at the beginning of "I Wanna Go Home" as ambient noise that might be street sounds seeping in through his bedroom window underpins his vocals. Listen with headphones in and eyes closed and you could almost be sitting right beside Christian Alexander as he plays you a song he just wrote. This sense of intimacy and atmosphere is one of the most appealing aspects of his home-recorded debut project, summer '17, which is out now.
Christian Alexander is a 21-year-old from Preston in the North of England, a former industrial town that he describes as nice but lacking in any sort of music scene or community. As so many young people do today, he turned to YouTube, discovering a whole new world of creativity from Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean to Blood Orange and Mac DeMarco.
Christian sung, produced, played guitar, mixed, and mastered summer '17—a solo project through and through—and the result is a stunningly cohesive project of quirky, left-of-center pop music. Although many songs are based around acoustic guitar and vocals, this is far from typical singer-songwriter territory, and Christian Alexander shows his ambition and creativity with touches like the strings on "I Wanna Go Home," warm beats like "Interlude," and the way he manipulates his vocals in the second half of "Drug 2 Me." Paired with the honest, open approach to themes like loneliness and depression in the lyrics, the final result is a powerful, personal introduction to an artist with so much potential.
Watch Christian Alexander's first music video and read an interview with him below. Listen to the full summer '17 project at the bottom of the page.
Who is Christian Alexander? What can you share about where you're from, how long you've been making music and anything else you want people to know?
I'm a singer, songwriter, I like to make beats, I draw a bit. I just like to create stuff, doesn't really matter what. I was born in Preston, England, and have lived near the city all my life. I've been making music for as long as I can remember, but I've been taking it more seriously in the past year or so. I'm also 21.
What is Preston like? Is there much of a music community or scene there?
It's a nice city, although there's never really been much of a music scene. There was never a community that I feel I could relate to or fit in with and grow my knowledge of music, so I'd just go on YouTube. That's where I found pretty much everything that I listen to now. I remember first watching the video for "Yonkers" by Tyler, The Creator, stuff like that was so alien to me, it was crazy.
You made this project over a short period of time—what can you share about that time and how this music came together?
It was quite relaxed, I was just enjoying making new sounds and not stressing on trying to make things sound a certain way. I was just focused on expressing myself and how I was feeling at the time, so I kept things pretty simple. I didn't set out to make a ten track project, I just made one song at a time. They all just came together as one in the end.
Who or what was inspiring you while you made summer '17?
I wasn't really inspired by any artist or song whilst making it, but I'd listen to a lot of Frank Ocean, Mac DeMarco, Blood Orange, Earl Sweatshirt. I remember listening to Blonde for the first time, it really changed the way I think about music, and how an artist can express themselves.
You touch on topics like loneliness and depression throughout the project. Is music a kind of therapy for you and do you find it easy to be so open and honest in your songwriting?
Yeah, I like to get lost in my own little world. Whenever things are bad I use music as a distraction from everything. There's not really much to do where I am, there's never any friends around or anything, so music has always been the thing I cling to when there's nothing left.
You self-recorded this project in your bedroom. Do you want to work with other people in the future or is making music more of a solo endeavor for you?
I think a mixture of both is something I'd want. I don't think I'll ever stop creating in my own personal space, as it's how I express myself best, but I think for me to progress it'd be cool to work with other people and try new things. I'm still only young so picturing working solely by myself for the rest of my life is quite depressing! I still wanna produce my own stuff though, and I'll always write my own shit. But a way to elevate that would be cool.
Who did you work with on the "Going Thru" video and are the more on the way?
I've been working with a LA based filmmaking duo called Acetone Films on a couple songs. The videos are cool, we spent ten days around Preston and my house and shot a lot. They're all really simple ideas and straightforward. It was good opening up and being in front of a camera, trying new things.
What else do you have planned for 2019?
I want to release another project I've been working on recently. I think it'd be cool to have two bodies of work out in the same year. Other than that I just wanna experience life some more and do new things.