Alex Kaf for The Meadow
interviewer: Sara Sharif (@sarangelic)
interviewee: Alex Kaf (@alexkafmusic )
Alex Kaf is a singer-songwriter who has been working tirelessly on her new single, “Alien Love Song,” which she wrote based on her all-too-relatable experience as a young girl chasing after an idea of a person. Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer, Jim Cravero, the song preaches the importance of finding yourself and moving on through a dreamy pop melody that identifies not only the sadness of an ending, but the hope of a new beginning. The song will be available on all platforms Friday, January 15th.
With a background in musical theatre, Alex began writing music at the age of fourteen. Alex’s indie pop music takes inspiration from artists such as Taylor Swift, Maggie Rogers, and Tori Kelly, but maybe a little more straight out of your teenage diary. Recorded out of quarantine-induced inspiration, Alex seized the opportunity to work on a piece that was so close to her heart as opposed to letting isolation get the best of her.
Alex's ideal 2021 Summer
"...I would spend my 2021 summer traveling, spending time with loved ones, pursuing an in person music internship as opposed to an online one, and going to concerts! There is truly nothing like being lost in the middle of a crowd dancing and shouting lyrics to your favorite songs. I really miss that feeling and I will never take those moments for granted again."
* in relevance to our issue #3
t h e i n t e r v i e w
1. Please start with a little introduction about yourself!
Hi! I’m Alex Kaf (she/her). I am a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, PA; I attend college in New York. I have a background in musical theatre and began writing music at the age of fourteen. My music is for doodling in your favorite journal, singing into a hairbrush, crying on your bedroom floor, singing in the car with your best friends, and everything in between.
2. What genre would you say your music belongs to?
I write primarily indie-pop music that takes inspiration from artists such as Taylor Swift, Maggie Rogers, and Tori Kelly, but maybe a little more straight out of your teenage diary. I write about life as I see it. I wrap concrete details and vivid pictures in blankets of metaphor and imagery.
3. What is the story behind your musical journey?
I have been singing and performing since I was born. However, before I wrote songs, I participated in musicals and trained in acting, singing, and dancing. I began writing music at the age of fourteen after seeing Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. King’s inspiring story and groundbreaking music inspired me to write my own stories into songs. Through theatre, I tell other people’s stories. Through songwriting, I tell my own story.
4. And how has your journey been so far?
My journey has been incredible. Even before I began writing songs, I wrote short stories, poems, and journal entries. Writing is a cathartic process for me; I get to dump everything in my brain on a page. Now, I get to release it all into songs! Learning how to spin stories into catchy lyrics has been a challenge. It’s all about memorably presenting relevant material. Putting out the music sitting in my journals and living in my brains has been nerve-wracking but so rewarding.
5. I absolutely loved your debut single, “Summer Love Song”, and now we are expecting “Alien Love Song” on January 15th! Is there a theme we sense here? Is there a general, and maybe, a more personal theme to your music?
Thank you so much; I’m glad you enjoyed it! The common thread between these two songs is they tell the story of consecutive personal experiences. “Alien Love Song” is the prequel to “Summer Love Song.” I released the stress of the emotional isolation described in “Alien Love Song” through the exciting summer fling highlighted in “Summer Love Song.” I love writing songs that reveal small pieces of information about me and my life; listening to a new song I release will give you a different perspective on one of my other songs. I have two main goals for my music:
1. For people to listen to it, connect with it, and feel seen.
2. For people to see who I am. If I can accomplish those two goals, I will be happy.
6. What inspired you to create this song and what does it mean to you?
I wrote the chorus of “Alien Love Song” in the early spring of 2019 (I was a junior in high school) while sitting at my piano at home and reminiscing on my singlehood. Interactions with the boy I might have loved played on a loop in my head day and night. Writing the song served as therapy for me. It helped me realize how impossible it was to fit into his life in a meaningful way. But at the time of writing the chorus, I had not come to that conclusion yet. I wrote the rest of the song over the summer of 2019 when we were veering in two different directions. I recognized that at this point in our lives, we were not ready for one another. He was the person I wanted, but not the person I chose; I ultimately chose myself.
7. Do share about the making and BTS of, “Alien Love Song”!
I recorded myself singing the chorus of “Alien Love Song” acapella in voice memos on my phone. It all came to me at once; I recorded it, then I stepped away from it. I later wrote the accompaniment but struggled to find the words for the rest of the song. I did not figure out exactly what I wanted to say until I owned up to my feelings; the banter, stolen glances, and meaningful conversations prevented me from recognizing the truth about my relationship with this boy. There could not be an “us.” We did not have space for one another in our lives at the time. After I finally let our reality sink in, I was able to finish the song. I self-produced “Alien Love Song” during the winter of 2019-2020. In March, I had the opportunity to record the song at East Coast Recording Studio with Grammy Award-winning producer James Cravero. At the studio, I collaborated with instrumentalist Timothy Campbell to convey the emotion of the song through strings and piano. It was so exciting to work with two seasoned professionals on
this piece. They opened my eyes to a world of creativity I had not explored before.
8. What is your creative process?
I write every single day. Whether it is lyrics, journal entries, piano accompaniment, or short stories, I put my ideas into writing. Brain dumping is my favorite way of getting my creative juices flowing. I do not have one specific
creative process. A lot of the time, words and a melody will come to me at once. I will sing it a few times and then record it acapella in voice memos on my phone. After that, I’ll write out the lyrics in my journal, sit down at my piano, and start composing. This process varies per song, but this is what I do most of the time.
9. Who is your musical inspiration?
The music I listen to inspires the music I write. I try to expose myself to all genres to obtain a wide breadth of knowledge. Female singer-songwriters such as Taylor Swift, Maggie Rogers, Tori Kelly, Julia Michaels, and (of course) Carole King inspire me the most. These women weave relatable experiences and emotions into unforgettable lyrics and melodies that make people feel less alone. That is what I want to do with my music. I want people to listen to my songs and think, “it’s like she wrote that for me” (because I did!).
10. Any musical tips from your experience for our musicians out here?
It is so important to remember why you started making music in the first place. You did it because you loved it and it made you happy! Hold onto that. It is easy to get discouraged when you get writer’s block or your biggest fan is your grandma or the only one covering your album release is your school newspaper. The people who need to find you and your music will find you. Practice, practice, practice, and let your passion and personality shine through. Love the process and hold onto your joy.
11. So, what should we expect next, in the near future?
“Alien Love Song” will be available on all music listening platforms on Friday, January 15th! After that, (I haven’t officially announced it yet) but I will be releasing a six-song EP that includes singles “Summer Love Song” and “Alien Love Song”! I cannot wait to put out more music; the whole experience of beginning my music career has been so exciting.
12. How do we gain access to your music?
You can listen to my music on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music, and every other music listening platform! I also post covers and updates frequently on Instagram.