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Today is our Spotlight – Alex Hughes Round 2. We last talked to Alex back in 2020 so it was well past due catching up and hearing what’s new. Check out what she had to say.

After just over a year, Alex is joining to tell us about her newest single “After 31.” But before we get to that, Alex how has life been since we last spoke?

Thank you so much for having me back to talk about my new single! Life has been really great. Despite the pandemic making it a lot more challenging to play shows and promote my music, I was able to take the time to garner new skills and really hone in and focus on my craft. I rented some recording gear and invested in Logic to learn how to record and comp my own vocals and was able to write well over 50 songs with writers from across Canada and the US.

If someone out there were to listen to your music for the first time, what would you recommend they start with?

I would tell them to start with the first single from my latest project, “Strong As You”. This song is a really good representation of my style. It’s got a funky groove and strong beat with lyrics that are melodic and passionate. I have definitely grown as a writer and artist since I released this song in 2019 but I still think it shows my style and it’s a good starting point for new listeners!

This is your first release of the year. I can see you have been keeping yourself busy with tons of live shows. Did you feel rusty at all after the long break?

It definitely felt like getting back up on a bike after not riding for a long time. It took a few pedals (shows) to settle in but it sure feels good to ride again! I was really lucky to have some opportunities to play pretty unique shows even when things were still somewhat locked down. I played at King Eddy in Calgary and actually performed in a separate room from my band. I also played a few shows behind plexiglass but it definitely feels nice to be getting back to normal and playing shows for real, live, audiences alongside other performers.

Last time you were gearing up to release your song “Gentlemen.” Since then you also dropped “Drive.” Both songs have been received splendidly amongst country fans. Is there anything that surprised you regarding the release or the fan’s reactions?

Every release surprises me – you just never know how fans are going to react. Often songs I wouldn’t necessarily think are my best are songs that go over really well live, and vice-versa, so I always try to test out new music on friends and family before recording. I think the response to “Gentleman” in particular was really exciting. I got a lot of great feedback that my fans were ready for something fun and maybe even a little silly. I collaborated with a local choreographer named Heather Morris and created a TikTok dance that was really cool to see friends, family and fans try out!

This new song “After 31” has been described as your most emotionally raw release to date. What is your stance on that statement? What drove you to share your vulnerability in aging insecurities with your audience?

Writing so much over the past year and a half has encouraged me to keep digging deeper and try and be as honest and raw with my fans as possible. I have always wanted to get vulnerable with my writing but it has taken a lot of souls searching to get there as I tend to be a very private person. I wrote this song with two amazing female country artists, Parker Graye and Lydia Sutherland, who both write incredibly emotionally-driven songs. When we started the zoom writing session, I opened up about feeling anxious about turning 31, they both said they felt pressure at certain stages of their lives too and we felt as though everyone could probably relate to that feeling.

What is the takeaway you want listeners to hear in this song?

The message I hope listeners take away from this song is to not put so much pressure on themselves to achieve things by a certain age or stage in their life. There is no time limit on reaching any of your dreams whether they are career or relationship-based; everything happens when it’s supposed to.

This track was produced by Nashville artist Shannon McArthur who has worked with some other substantial artists such as Mayday Parade. How was working with him on this piece?

Shannon and I have been long-time friends, we both lived in Los Angeles many years ago and met at a songwriter round. Shannon moved to Nashville and pursued a career as a producer and artist and I moved back to Canada to pursue music here. We kept in touch a little bit over social media but really reconnected during the pandemic. I never imagined myself recording completely remotely but Shannon really helped walk me through the process, teaching me how best to record my vocals and video conferenced me in for every stage of recording in his home studio. It was such a great experience collaborating and working with him as I got to be part of the process every step of the way, even from many miles away.

I am dying to hear about Coyote Stunning. Country and Drag seem like two things that shouldn’t go together but they did and worked beyond our expectations. Tell us the whole story, how you got involved, the girls, and how the show went.

Coyote Stunning was absolutely amazing! The show was an idea that my friend, and amazing music encourager and supporter Dan Clapson (creator of the Blue Jay Song Writing Sessions) conceptualized. When he approached me with the idea to bring these two worlds together, I was beyond excited. The Drag Queens were so much fun to perform alongside and I feel so lucky to have been able to have had that experience. It felt like what I can only imagine being in a group like the Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child might feel like. We all amped up each-others performances and the energy level and the crowd’s reaction were unbelievable!

Did you have any interest or exposure to drag culture before Coyote Stunning? Did you learn anything that surprised you?

I have been to some drag shows and brunches in Calgary and have always had so much appreciation for drag. The costumes, the hair, the makeup, it’s all over the top and fabulous and I love all of those things! The biggest thing I learned was just how much work goes into being a Queen and their respective performances. From creating a persona to hand-making costumes and looks; it’s such amazing art!

I see you have signed up for Tik Tok this year and posted a few to your Instagram. What do you think about the way the app has taken control of popular music determining all the trends? How do you think you fit in on this massive platform?

I have a love/hate relationship with Tik Tok. I’ve had some videos do well but have a hard time finding my niche and relating it to my music. I love that it can blow up songs and musicians and think that’s so unique. I also love how music-focused it is as a platform but I’m still just trying to figure it out alongside everyone else!

What is the best piece of musical/career advice you carry with you today?

When I was about 14/15 I won tickets to a really small and intimate Tim McGraw show before he played at a stadium in Edmonton, Alberta. I got the chance to meet with him afterward and asked him what advice he had for an aspiring artist and I can’t remember the exact quote but it was something along the lines of “…be crazy, and make sure you want it more than anything in the world.” That has always stuck with me, through challenges and being told no, or you’re not good enough, etc. I always remind myself that I did get a fair warning that it’s not always an easy road from someone who really knew what he was talking about.

You have a big upcoming festival, how is the prep going for Blue Jay Sessions: Holiday Edition? Are the nerves setting it? What excites you most about this festival featuring 24 amazing artists?

I love being part of the Blue Jay Sessions. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking to do a songwriting session since they are usually intimate shows where you share stories about your songs, but this particular series has started to feel like home to me. It’s such a supportive group of artists who perform as well as an amazing crew involved in making it happen, so that helps the nerves a ton. We’re actually taking the show to London, Ontario for the CCMA’s (Canadian Country Music Awards), and I’m so incredibly honored to be part of the national line-up. It’s so cool to be able to perform alongside so many unique and talented artists!

Heard you are planning to release a full-length album next year followed by a Canadian tour. How is the progress on that coming? Any themes we can expect?

Yes! I’ve had an album in the works for a while now. This one explores a lifetime of making music and experiences like growing up, heartbreak, getting married, losing loved ones, and other themes that I hope people can relate to. I’m really excited to use this album as a chance to share my life and my story with fans and to tour it across Canada and beyond.

Thank you for joining us today. Before you go, want to give a shout out to any person, organization or charity of your choice?

Thank you so much for having me and for all the wonderful questions! I would love to shout out Adam Chiasson of Tree Picks. He is such a great supporter of music and creates beautiful and unique guitar picks made from wood. A tree is also planted for each package of picks purchased which is pretty amazing. You can check them out on TreePicks.com

Spotlight – Alex Hughes Round 2 is in the books! Huge thanks to Alex for stopping by again to catch up

Check out After 31 right now

Keep up with Alex right here

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