An Interview with Pop Newcomer, Alexis Keegan On Her Christmas Song, Getting Nominated For a Hollywood Music Media Award and More!
Posted On 08 Dec 2014
Tag: Abercrombie and Fitch, Alexis Keegan, Andrew Williams, Beyonce, Butterfly, Change Gonna Come, City and Colour, City Winery, Clean Slate, Colbie Caillat, Dallas Green, Demi Lovato, Drunk In Love, Elvis, Eric Roberts, Five For Fighting, Gavin DeGraw, Hollywood Music in Media Award, Honor By August, Howie Day, It's Christmas Everywhere, Just A Little, Kelly Clarkson, LA Examiner Music Critic Awards, Mandy Moore, Mariah Carey, Martin Luther King Jr. Gospel Choir', Melanie Fiona, Michael Woodrum, New Jersey, Opposite Sex, PJ Bianco, Ron Pope, Sam Cooke, Seeking Life After The End, Someday, The Gallery, The Jonas Brothers, The Veronicas, Wags and Walks, Whitney Houston, World Cafe Live, Worry No More, Zach Hannah
Alexis Keegan grew up in New Jersey, and relocated to Los Angeles. She recently released her debut EP entitled, Clean Slate, which some describe as having a rock edge with an R&B sound. Her new single, “Worry No More,” is currently catching fire on the AC and Hot AC charts and receiving indie accolades as well.
The song is currently being spun at Abercrombie and Fitch stores nationwide, and will be featured in the upcoming Eric Roberts film Opposite Sex.
This year Keegan has supported prominent singer/songwriters Ron Pope, Howie Day, Honor By August, and The Gallery. She was won two LA Examiner Music Critic Awards for “Best EP Female,” and “Best Lyrical Video,” and she was nominated in the “Best Single” category. She was also nominated for a Hollywood Music In Media Award (HMMA), in the Pop Category for “Worry No More.”
Alexis recently released launched a radio campaign for her holiday song, “It’s Christmas Everywhere” for the 2014 season.
Learn more about this talented songstress in the following interview:
What got you interested in music? What inspired you to pursue a career
as a recording artist?
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be a singer. The furthest back my memory can go, I remember singing into my hairbrush in my bedroom, jumping on my trampoline, singing, and pretending I was in a music video (specifically to Mariah Carey’s “Someday”. I was obsessed with her!)
When I was young I was really shy. I would do all those things mostly when no one was watching. But that all changed when I was 12 years old. At that time my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was an awful time for me. I became a hermit and I would just lock myself in my room and listen to music because it was the only way I knew how to deal with the inevitable.
One day, I got the urge to sing Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly” for my dad, even though I didn’t sing in front of anyone. At this point, my dad was extremely ill and I knew our time with him was running out. When I was singing, he had a response to it. That was the moment where I knew that I was put on this earth to do this.
My career was taken to another level when I entered high school. My freshman year I saw the Martin Luther King Jr. Gospel Choir at one of the assemblies and I was mesmerized. I just had to be involved with that. The next time they held sign-ups I joined without a doubt in my mind. I was the only caucasian member but I ended up being one of the lead vocalists for three years. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I was fully accepted by everyone and no one ever told me I didn’t belong and I was so happy. That choir completely brought me out of my shell and that was the final straw in being able to perform in front of anyone.
The concept for the song came when I was day dreaming about going home for Christmas. My entire family and friends live in New Jersey, and living in LA now away from everyone is hard sometimes because I just miss them so much!
The first lyrics of the song “… haven’t been home in a while, walk into memories of a child, as the snow is starting to fall, into the warmth of mother’s smile, wash away 3,000 miles, been waiting for this moment” was just exactly how I pictured walking up to my house and being greeted by my mom after the long flight back to New Jersey.
The song was produced and co-written by Michael Woodrum and there were a few times when we were recording the song that I would get a little choked up because it was just so real. And forget it, when I listened to the final mix for the first time I was infant crying and so was my mom!
Please tell us about your new EP, Clean Slate, and what it was like working with PJ Bianco (Demi Lovato, The Jonas Brothers, The Veronicas), songwriter Zach Hannah, and Andrew Williams (Colbie Caillat, Five For Fighting)?
Clean S.L.A.T.E. stands for “Seeking Life After The End” (of a relationship). When I first started recording the EP with Andrew Williams, I had just gotten out of a serious relationship. So going into the studio and writing and recording with Andrew was like my therapy. At this point, I was flying out to L.A. for a week at a time every month, so each time I saw Andrew I was going through a different part of the breakup cycle. So when we would start talking about concepts, we would talk about exactly how I was feeling on that day and lyrics would just spill out. One of the last songs we recorded together was “Just A Little.” We were having one of our little therapy sessions and I remember Andrew saying “so you still think about him huh?” and my response was “Just A Little”… Bam!! Song done!
Working with PJ and Zach was incredible. They are also from Jersey so we had that special NJ connection! I absolutely love working with them because they really challenged me, both with my writing and vocally. I can’t wait to get back into the studio with them soon!
You recently took a different direction with your music moving from straight up pop/dance music to more of an R&B/soul/rock vibe. To someone who has never heard you before, how would you describe your sound to them?
I would say if Gavin DeGraw, Melanie Fiona, and Kelly Clarkson had a baby, then that would be me!
You’ve toured with some amazing artists. Who has really stood out to you?
A highlight of one of my favorite shows was when I was opening for Howie Day in NYC at the City Winery. It is such an intimate and incredible venue. Of course, I greatly respect Howie as an artist. And not to mention, playing in NYC is always amazing! But I think my favorite show so far was when I played World Café Live in Philadelphia opening for Ron Pope. I knew it was going to be extra special because my entire family and all my friends made the trip from New Jersey. I also went to college in Philly and so many of my college friends were in the crowd. It was the first show of the tour, and the first time we were trying out our trio version of Beyonce’s “Drunk In Love” in front of a huge crowd. The second I started singing “I been drinkin’, I been drinkin’” everyone went so crazy!!! I still get chills thinking about that moment.
Your song “Worry No More” was nominated for an award at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards. What was that like? Did you have fun at the show itself?
It was so awesome! I was just so honored to be in the same room as all of these talented individuals. It was also the first red carpet and awards show I ever attended so getting all glammed up was fun. “Worry No More” is going to be in a new Eric Roberts movie, and I got the chance to meet him which was really cool. He was such a doll!
How have social networks and sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter affected the way you promote your music and interact with your fans?
I think social media is such a great way to get personal with your fans. For example, people I met opening for Ron Pope on tour this year in Philly, New Orleans, Birmingham and all over Texas I talk to on a regular basis through Twitter and I love it! You get to interact with people that you normally would never have in your life.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Well obviously Gavin! Also, I’m inspired by the incredible Beyonce. Everything she does just takes it to the next level, and she’s always going. I don’t think I have seen one performance of hers that I haven’t gotten full body goose bumps. She is an undeniable talent. She also seems like a beautiful person on the inside, which is so important to me. City and Colour is another one that has inspired me the last few years. Dallas Green just has the type of feeling in his voice where he can make people stop in their tracks. I saw him in concert last year for the first time, and he did some songs with a full band which was incredible. But he also did some songs with just him and his guitar and it was so beautiful. You could hear in a pin drop in there it was so silent.
My all time biggest musical influence is Whitney Houston. I’ve just been idolizing her since I was little. Her voice, her stage presence, her passion…it’s just breathtaking. Her greatest hits album is my favorite albums of all time. I remember in high school, it was the ONLY album I played in my CD player. It got to the point where my friends didn’t want to drive with me during our Senior year when we were going out for lunch because it was just non stop Whitney.
If you could sing a duet with anyone what artist would it be?
Gavin DeGraw!! I’m mildly obsessed with him (ha! ha!) His soulful voice is just magical! I was totally sold ten years ago when I heard his cover of Sam Cooke’s “Change Gonna Come” … I think I pretty much gave a standing ovation to my iPod! I just think he’s fantastic and so talented. In my unbiased opinion, I think we could make a pretty killer song!
If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be?
Elvis! He broke down so many barriers and he didn’t care what anyone said. And what a voice!
I really enjoy running, yoga, hiking, etc. Staying in shape is so important to me, and working out is such a stress reliever. There are so many incredible hiking spots in Los Angeles that I try to do a different one every few weeks. The view from the top of these mountains is incredible! But most of all, in my spare time I like to hang with my little puggle George Linus Keegan. I rescued him two years ago from an organization in LA called Wags and Walks after he was found tied to a pole. Besides moving to LA, deciding to be George’s mama was the best decision I ever made!
How do you balance your family life?
Balancing my New Jersey family life living out in LA is hard. But I try really hard to make those quick trips home for holidays all about family and I like to spend as much quality time with them as possible!
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
One of my best friends in the whole world, Lyle, is the person that has impacted my life the most. I met Lyle my freshman year of high school, before the Gospel Choir. Lyle told me that he was a singer and I shyly told him I loved singing too. After a lot of convincing, I sent him a little .wav file of me singing a Mandy Moore song on my computer, and he freaked out but he also understood how shy I was. He really helped me every single day to get more comfortable before joining the choir. We would sing together in front of our math class, but we had our backs to the class for a long time. Until one day, he got me to the point where I could face the class, which was a huge milestone for me at the time. Now we are still best friends and he has supported me through it all. I even brought Lyle on tour with me this year as a backup singer…I mean touring, with your best friend, can it get much better??