Star-ry Eyed Alexz Johnson Cuts Through the Bull and Regains Her Independence
Alexz Johnson really loves Brooklyn. It shows on her face with the way she lights up whenever her neck of the woods is mentioned. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter/actress relocated to the borough with one goal for herself as an artist: total scene immersion. It's a pretty good goal when you have to rebuild your career from scratch.
Courtesy of Jessica Earnshaw
Alexz Johnson performs tonight, 2/28, at Highline Ballroom with Charlene Kaye, Jay Stolar, and Misty Boyce.
After stints on the Disney series So Weird and Canadian teen soap Instant Star (edit: a cult-favorite that has two of its four seasons available on Netflix Instant), Johnson's career felt ready for a smooth transition to the music industry until a split with her major label lost her an entire album's worth of material and forced her to start fresh. With some help from her devoted and loyal fans, independence became a little less complicated for her thanks to immense success using crowdfunding resources like Kickstarter -- which helped support her first US tour -- and currently Pledge Music, a similar but more musically-inclined version of Kickstarter, which is helping pay for her next album. Now, as she prepares to kick off her second US tour, Alexz Johnson is ready to give the world fire with her sweet rasp, honest lyrics, and love of A$AP Rocky.
See also: A$AP Rocky Lights Up The City
How do you like being a musician in New York?
It's awesome! It's like the perfect place. I mean, I love acting as well, but I just have decided I want to be a touring artist. I thought the best place to move to would be Brooklyn, just because there's so much talent here. I wanted to integrate myself with those kinds of musicians, so I moved here about a year and a half ago and did my first US tour a couple months ago, which was awesome. It's very music-based.
What other artists in Brooklyn have you been working with?
Ethan Mentzer and an artist named Theo Katzman. He's really awesome. [Ethan] is from the band the Click 5 [from] a couple years ago. I'm going on tour with Charlene Kaye, Jay Stolar, and Misty Boyce.
What came first, the acting or the singing?
Oh my gosh, I'd say singing was my first thing. I went to an agency at 12-years-old by myself and said I wanted to sing, and they just ended up sending me out on auditions. Never went to acting school. Music's always been my passion. Then I got Instant Star, and I got acting shows where I played a musician. I was kind of lucky; it was like acting as myself. Those are the kind of roles I'm attracted to - ones where I can write music for or be musical.
I read somewhere that you were called the "West Coast Celine"?
When I was really young, I would sing the National Anthem for the Canucks games and the Grizzlies games. They ended up pegging me as "the little girl with the big voice."
You were on Disney during this really big era -- Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and, your show, So Weird -- what was it like being a part of that Disney community?
It was just quick for me. I did just the last season of So Weird, then went back to Canada and started doing auditions and started writing music all the time. I got away from that for a little bit. I wanted to go back to school, play basketball, and have a real, normal life. That's when Instant star came into my life. I never really fell into the Disney [experience]. There's so much talent from there it's insane. Like, Justin Timberlake. Disney's like the flagship for a lot of artists.