It’s a classically rainy day in the city and K-pop star AleXa has agreed to meet me in a quiet corner of Melbourne Central for an interview. She’s getting ready to hit the stage of 170 Russell, the last stop of her Oceania tour, Girls Gone Vogue. After visiting Auckland and Sydney for the first time, she’s excited to be here in Melbourne.
AleXa grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and her journey to becoming a K-pop singer was an unconventional one. From just 18 months old, AleXa was taking ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, lyrical and tap lessons. Attracted to the strong performance styles of K-pop, she first dipped into the music world by taking part in the online talent competition, Rising Legends. After winning, she later joined ZB Label, a subsidiary of music video production company Zanybros.
She made her official K-pop debut with Bomb in 2019, after roughly two and a half years of training. She has since released other notable tracks like Do Or Die, Villain and Back In Vogue, and has received nods from Asia Artist Awards and Soribada Awards. She also received a People’s Choice Podcast Award in 2020 for the show, How Did I Get Here with Jae of Day6 and AleXa.
Last year, she competed in America’s version of Eurovision, American Song Contest. Hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson, AleXa faced off against other musicians like Michael Bolton, and won the show with her song Wonderland. It ranked #38 on Billboard’s Pop Airplay Chart.
In 2022, she also started acting, with a role in the Korean anthology horror film, Urban Myths.
Now she’s ready to showcase her talent in Melbourne, fresh off the release of her song Back In Vogue. AleXa is performing at 170 Russell on Saturday April 1 from 6:30pm.
Interview with AleXa in Melbourne
Please note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
N: It’s your first time in Australia. When you were planning this tour, what were you looking forward to the most?
A: Honestly I think I was just looking forward to meeting the fans in person! I was so surprised that when we announced the tour, so many Aussies and Kiwis were excited about me coming, so I was just so pumped to just see everyone face to face finally.
N: And thank you for coming here –
N: – because oftentimes there will be a tour, and it’ll say ‘World Tour’ –
A: But it’s not really world!
A: Yeah no I get that.
N: Was there a reason why Australia and New Zealand were chosen?
A: Why was it first on the list? It’s like, why not start from the land Down Under and then work our way up top, you know?
N: And have you been enjoying your trip so far?
A: I’ve been having so much fun. Sydney was a blast. Auckland, New Zealand, was also super fun. The crowds were lit in both New Zealand and in Sydney. But I’ve heard that Melbourne is gonna be more exciting from what I’ve heard.
N: Yes, Melbourne is the last stop on the tour.
A: The last stop right now for the tour.
N: The finale.
A: Ohhh yeah. So, I’m anticipating good energy, I’m anticipating it.
N: Was there anything you were looking forward to about coming here?
A: Not gonna lie. I mean, I’ve heard that the scenery in Australia is beautiful because you know, my company is a music video company, and places like Australia and New Zealand are very scenic and everything. But it has been raining! Which is unfortunate. But indoors isn’t bad!
N: Speaking of music videos, would you put Australia as a place to potentially come back and shoot?
A: I would love nothing more. Originally we were scheduled to shoot a music video while we were on tour. But we decided against it because of just timing. We didn’t have enough time. But next time for sure. For sure.
N: That sounds good. And Melbourne is the last stop. After you perform are you going to stick around and do some sightseeing?
A: I wish I had time to do some sightseeing but I’m flying back to Korea the next day. Busy busy busy. But reasons to come back! I still haven’t done that much sightseeing, not much food trying either, so I mean, there’s much to do.
N: We’re very proud of our coffee here. Have you had a Melbourne coffee yet?
A: I have had a Melbourne coffee. Granted, it wasn’t a magic – I know that’s a big thing here. I didn’t try magic, I just tried a latte, but it was really good.
N: Is a latte your go-to?
A: Normally I’m not a coffee drinker, I’m more of a tea person. But I heard that the coffee is famous in Melbourne so I’m like, might as well give it a go.
N: Another Melbourne thing is that everyone in Melbourne just wears black.
A: I’ve been looking around and a lot of people are wearing black. I missed the memo clearly, I’m wearing white.
N: Also puffer jackets.
A: Puffer jackets, I’ve noticed that!
N: I guess where I’m going with this is, do you have a go-to look?
A: Oooh, it’s either jeans and something comfortable on top, or sweatpants and just a sports bra if the weather permits it. Comfort is my number one priority in clothing. Music videos is glitz, glam, platforms the size of my head, but in real life, it’s just comfortable sneakers and sweatpants.
N: With your song, Back In Vogue, is there something from the past that you’d like to see come back into vogue?
A: It’s been becoming more prevalent through fashion I’d say like the Y2K and a like bit of punk, but I would love to see pop punk make a big resurgence. I feel like pop punk was so big in the early 2000s and mid-2010s, but the resurgence hasn’t happened yet. If it came back into vogue, I would be so happy.
N: You could also be the change.
A: I could! I could be the frontrunner. ZB Label write that down.
N: Sometimes cities have different quirks. On your travels, has there been any quirks sticking out that you remember from any cities that you’ve been in?
A: Not to be like favouritism here, but going back home to Oklahoma. We have that good Southern hospitality. Everybody is so kind, everybody’s got that Southern belle kinda twang, like “Oh bless your heart, sweetheart”. It’s just a very warm place to be.
N: Speaking of Oklahoma, on American Song Contest last year, did you feel a lot of pressure on stage in terms of representation?
A: Yeah, I mean not only was I representing my home state of Oklahoma, I was also representing the K-pop community, but also Asian-Americans, and just Asians across the world. And so it just felt like a really momentous occasion to win the whole contest because again, it wasn’t just for me. It wasn’t just for my team and everyone I work with. It was for so many different communities that I am fortunate enough to be a part of. It was definitely scary. I felt like I wanted to do well – not just to win but to do us proud.
N: What was the process in preparing for this tour?
A: Before we left Korea, literally the week before, we had practices day in, day out, every day, like starting at midnight, ending at 7am. We would have rehearsals every day, practicing all the set list, all the live singing. New choreographies too. We learned three new choreographies. So yeah, it was a lot.
N: People have a lot to look forward to!
A: Yes you do indeed.
N: And you’re a theatre kid as well! With musicals, or plays, do you have a favourite?
A: I do. I feel like this one is very cliché, but Phantom of the Opera is my all-time favourite. But then following that is Beetlejuice actually.
N: And you’re getting into acting?
A: Yes, there might be some things that we’re working on the backburner. But acting is definitely something I would love to focus on more in the future.
N: Any preference between TV, stage, etc?
A: Honestly any opportunity that comes my way I’ll be more than willing to take. So TV, stage, voice acting, I would love to try anything.
N: And is there a dream role that you had in mind?
A: A dream role, my goodness. Not that I could think of but I would love to be in a horror movie.
N: Do you have a favourite horror movie?
A: I love the Hellraiser franchise, it’s my favourite.
N: And what inspires your music and concepts?
A: Everything that goes behind the AleXa concept and the AleXa music is a very big team collaborative effort. Not only with my company and everyone in it, but also the songwriters that we have, we’ll give them an idea. Like okay, for this era of AleXa, we want her to be a badass fighter who fights off a clone of herself. Or for this version of AleXa we want her to be more chic and stylish and more feminine. So we’ll run with a story plot for the music video. And the songwriters would help figure out a melody and lyrics to go around that. And then we’ll translate things into Korean. Or I’ll help write lyrics myself. It’s just a very big collaborative effort. And I think inspiration is taken from everything from daily life to movies or books that we read, real life experiences.
N: Is there a song you would recommend for new listeners?
A: For new listeners, probably Wonderland. Since it is the song that won the American Song Contest, I think that’s a good song to start with.
AleXa is performing at 170 Russell on Saturday April 1. It’s an all ages and alcohol-free show. VIP doors open at 4pm, and general attendance doors open at 6:30pm.