#PopularPlay: Sad Alex
Jul 26, 2020
A welcome disruption to the barrage of curated perfection that we face on a daily basis, Sad Alex is a rare breed of pop artist: a chronic over-sharer, her music embraces flaws that we can all relate to on a human level. Born Alex Saad, the Delaware born and now LA resident’s tongue-in-cheek alias is built around a desire to be candid and, often, to observe humor in the awkward mess of complexities that we call life.
“Stockholm’s A Ghost Town” serves as a homage to anyone who has been ghosted. Premiered via Flaunt, the single is a melodramatic reflection of a barely blossoming relationship that disappeared without a trace. Sad Alex’s haunting vocals float in and out across acoustic guitar riffs and vibrant production, lamenting on unanswered questions and unreciprocated feelings.
“I wrote this song after I managed to get my heart broken in a weeklong trip to Stockholm. It was an over-romanticized fling that started with rom-com fireworks on a hotel rooftop and ended with unanswered texts in a smelly Airbnb. My wine-fueled weeping was overdramatic but had more to do with the years of being ghosted than this nice Swedish guy,” says Sad Alex about the release.
“A few days later, I visited the songwriting school called Musikmakarna in Northern Sweden and wrote this with Axel Anderlund, Jonna Hall, and Tobias Naslund. I wanted something that felt less ‘woe is me, I’ve been ghosted’ and more ‘come together all ye fellow ghostees.’ Mix that with some bomb Swedish melodies and a sprinkle of Ed Sheeran, and you’ve got yourself my favorite song I’ve released to date.”
A multi-faceted singer, songwriter, producer, artist, illustrator, and dancer, Sad Alex brings a signature sense of humor, humility, and honesty to each release, crafting songs about lust, love, hate, and every emotion in between. Lending her songwriting skills to artists such as Kelly Rowland and Billions star Condola Rashad, Sad Alex continues to hone her sound, channeling her personality into complex and relatable music. Partnering with producer Vincent on the single “Here For You” and releasing a raw, stream-of-consciousness-
1. You and your music certainly don’t emit “sad girl vibes.” Our team started dancing when we heard your new single “stockholm’s a ghost town,” so we have to ask, what made you pick the stage name “Sad Alex”?
Thank you! Well I am sort of embodying the “anti-sad girl,” the short bio for the project being “the happiest sad girl you know.”
The name actually derives mostly from my last name, “Saad” (I am Palestinian), so people have been calling me some derivative nickname of “sad” (aka. Sad Girl, Saadski, Sadface, etc.) for as long as I can remember. That and the fact that the majority of my lyrical content so far has been on the sadder spectrum sealed the deal. However, I also want to use my platform to dive into my experience with mental health issues and get more involved with the Middle Eastern community.
2. Speaking of your newest bop, what’s the story behind the song? How did it transpire?
As you can probably guess, the song is about an experience I had in Stockholm. I was lucky enough to do a two-week writing trip in October to both Stockholm and Örnsköldsvik, the latter where I visited Musikmakarna, the number one songwriting school in the world (shameless brag). In Stockholm, I somehow managed to get my heart mildly broken in a classic ghosting scenario and wrote about it on the first day at Musikmakarna with Axel Anderlund, Jonna Hall and Tobias Naslund. It was such a fun, easy write, those students are so talented, holy shit.
I brought it back to LA where I produced it with some help from Sleeping Lion and Mike Gazzo, but I was particularly proud and connected to this song because it is the first of many upcoming songs where I did the majority of the production myself.
3. You’ve recently signed a record deal with Red Bull Records. Major congrats! What was it like before when you were releasing music independently?
Thank you!! The team at Red Bull Records has been so good to me, I love them. It really feels like a family vibe, which is really rare in this industry. I am lucky to have a really good team around me with my manager Rob Calabrese, content director Justin Pagano, and producer Mike Gazzo, so we already had a pretty good machine running independently which reflected in our releases at the end of 2019. The Red Bull engine has really helped amp up our existing structure and build on our ideas with their own as well, which I think is the best relationship to have with a label.
4. How do you think the DIY movement through social media and the internet in general has changed the industry and changed the way musical artists like yourself get discovered and reach new fans?
The power of social media in the industry now brings a lot of advantages, but also new challenges; the ability to do everything yourself with just a laptop from song creation all the way to release gives the independent artist more power than ever, but also has led to heavy saturation that can be difficult to break through. Because of this, the days of developing artists from the ground up in a label are becoming music fewer and further between. Typically, a label nowadays wants to jump on a project that is already starting to flourish and have its own vibe going, both sonically and especially with branding.
This can sometimes be frustrating because there is a lot expected of the artist now, I know for me in particular I am doing a lot of work involving visual art, dance, mild acting and even comedy skills that I never intended to have to bring into my music platform, and now with the way the world is evolving I’ve been bringing political views and actions into it as well. Though overwhelming at times, I think its ultimately good to make us be a little more multifaceted and self-sufficient, really thinking into every aspect of your branding and what you can truly bring to the table to offer a unique experience to the listener.
5. Do you recall a pivotal moment in your early life that inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I remember I was interning at my dad’s nephrology practice, initially thinking of pursuing something in the medical field, during a summer break at college. I would have to wake up at 7AM every day to work in the office, but at night I would work on music. One night I was up particularly late finishing up a song, and when you’re a songwriter it always feels so urgent when you are in that headspace. You are willing to give up certain basic needs solely for the good of the song.
As I walked upstairs to get my quick cat nap before the next morning, I saw my dad, also up and working on a spreadsheet of patient data. He had to get up even earlier than me. When I asked him why he was still up he answered something along the lines of, “this needed to get done for tomorrow, I am the only one that can do it properly and wanted to make sure it happened.” I realized in that moment how passionate he was for his work and that he too was willing to give up basic needs and comfort for it. I also recognized in that moment that I would never feel that way about working in medicine. I only felt that reaction towards music. I think it’s important when you are looking for your calling in life: what are you willing to give up everything for?
6. What is your favorite part of your songwriting process?
Right now, I most appreciate its versatility. People ask me a lot what my process is, and though it used to be fairly consistent, recently it’s been all over the map. Sometimes, it’s a concept I want to write out, a melody I want to apply lyrics and music to, a piano part or guitar part I free flow on top of, a beat I rap to (truly), and everything in between. Sometimes my versatility as a writer can be difficult as I dive into the artist path, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It allows me to do something different every day, work with artists and in genres I would never be able to on my own and keep music fresh and inspiring.
7. Are there any hobbies outside of music that contribute to your musicality? In essence, a hobby that rejuvenates your creativity.
Particularly in quarantine I’ve been really diving into my yoga practice and running. It’s really easy to get distracted by our devices and the digital world during this time, which makes it even more important to find time for the inner connection. Doing a vinyasa or detox flow or getting outside and getting blood flowing will often get you unstuck from a music idea within moments.
8. What message do you hope fans take away from your work?
I hope they can relate to my stories, and as more music comes out, I am excited to show the versatility of the project as well. I am taking a bit of a risk with some of these upcoming songs because I don’t always fit into a neat and tidy sonic box, both musically and as a person. I want my artist project to reflect that and I hope people can connect to that idea.