Heart Talk Vol. 1
It might surprise you that Alex McArtor just turned 17 ... a fact you’ll quickly forget after you spend a few minutes talking to the singer songwriter, who (cliché aside) certainly has what they call an “old soul.” Or at least fantastic taste.
“I was always into alternative bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain and artists like Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin,” she says. “Plus, I grew up in Austin, which is obviously a musical city. All that inspired me.”
McArtor would spend her downtime from school writing poems, singing and eventually “grabbing a guitar and experiencing teen angst,” she laughs. She eventually played her parents some of her songs — and they were impressed.
McArtor recently released her debut EP, Spoken Word, produced by Aaron Kelley to critical acclaim. It’s an exquisite, dreamy and downright epic music debut that pulls inspiration from both classic rock and ‘90s alternative while showcasing the singer-songwriter’s powerful voice and pensive soul. It's getting quite a rapturous response, as evidenced by the 3 million collective streams thus far.
She admits, “I haven’t really looked at it; I was just writing new songs and I wanted to get them out there. Actually, when I told people, most of my friends didn’t even know I did music! I’m glad it’s taken off on its own.”
For lyrical inspiration, McArtor takes a rather unique approach, “I’m really into film — that’s a passion of mine — so sometimes I’ll write songs over photographs or scenes from movies, like Trainspotting. That way, I can kind of ‘see’ things moving.” (Speaking of good taste, McArtor credits films like Velvet Goldmine, Garden State and My Private Idaho for providing musical inspiration). That said, there’s always a personal statement at the core of McArtor’s music.
Alex is now gearing up to release her follow up EP, Heart Talk Vol. 1 - the first installment in a fierce pair of releases.
“Heart Talk Vol. I is the first release of a broader, deeply personal collection of songs I wrote over the last year or so," she explains. "The collection was a therapeutic release of emotions for me and loosely based off of a few relationships that I had; young love, getting hurt, hurting others, and being a little bit 'bat shit crazy.'"
In the new track “Loving is the Way", Alex proves she is nobody’s toy. Written after breaking off a long relationship, the infectious tune was penned in an act of rebellion at the thought of feeling owned. “Speed Into Air" is a song to help pull yourself together, inspired by a relationship that should never have happened, while “Crazy" details playing with fire and inevitably getting burned. Then, moving on and learning to not touch the flame again. Written during Alex's last days at boarding school, “East Coast" serves as a farewell song to the past year and the people and experiences in it.
"The 'Heart Talk' title track is the most important song to me on this EP as it spawned a full album’s worth of material," Alex proclaims. "I vividly remember writing it in the dead of winter while I was at boarding school in New Hampshire. I wrote the song in under five minutes on an untuned piano… a really untuned piano," she laughs. "It just spilled out of me so effortlessly and lifted this weight that I didn’t even know I had off my chest. I had taken a little break from writing songs that fall while away at school and that moment just made me realize how much I need it in my life. It’s the best way I can unbottle and release emotions I have."
While McArtor is still young, she already has a musical endgame in sight. “When this doesn’t feel authentic anymore, I am out,” she says. “I think one reason my family’s so supportive is that I’ve been passionate and taking responsibility for all of this. It’s been me painting a picture, not doing something because someone else is telling me what to paint. I think when something comes from your soul it’s real, that’s when people feel it.”
(Thanks to Jeff Killgour at the Syndicate.)