Screw the girl next door, Alex Lahey is the kid down the street you couldn’t wait to hang out with after school, ripping through some icey poles and playing PlayStation all afternoon. It’s that familiar, close to home, ‘geez that really sounds like me’ vibe that engages listeners to Lahey’s sound. With her debut album, Love You Like a Brother, released this month, the Melburnian songstress hasn’t made it this far by accident.
“It’s one of those things – after years and years of preparing and making mistakes and learning, and trial and error and doing other projects and watching other people do their thing, it is interesting how things can actually fall into place,” Lahey says, “And that’s definitely happened to me. It’s not like I picked up a guitar last year and all of a sudden this happened, it’s been years and years of writing songs that will never be heard, and it’s a funny feeling how things have come together.”
After a huge year that saw Lahey’s career blow up, she received a Pitchfork’s Best New Track Award for her song ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me,’ from her 2016 EP B-Grade University, featured on the triple j Hottest 100, 2016. She then performed at Splendour in the Grass after winning a triple j Unearthed prize. Alex’s festival performance also went on to introduce her to Canadian musicians, Tegan and Sara, who invited her along for the UK leg of their 2016 tour.
Lahey admits the most challenging part of the last year and a half has been taking advantage of opportunities that have been almost greater than her capacity at times.
“Last year the Pitchfork thing kind of came out of nowhere – which was massive, one of the biggest personal opportunities you can get, and it’s not something you can ask for, it kind of happens and for some reason it happened to me. And that opened up a plethora of doors internationally, for an artist that has just put themselves on the internet, and with no support from labels. It was like you have to strike while the iron is hot – and that was challenging, to be thrown into the circle like that. It’s amazing, I still can’t believe it happened,” she says.
Excitingly, Lahey is one of the handful of solo-female rockers to come out of Australia in recent years, a situation Lahey is pretty stoked to see happen too. “Everyone is being themselves and doing their thing, and there is a lot of great music out there, and it’s just awesome that people are starting to take notice of, you know all these women making music as individuals in their own right, and writing great songs.”
While a lot of artists stage the way they present themselves, Alex can’t help but be real. “I feel like this project is so heavily ingrained in my own life in every single way that to pretend or be otherwise would be incongruous,” Lahey reveals. “I remember when I started this project and I was talking to the guy who is now my manager, and I said maybe I should have a pseudonym, he said ‘I don’t think you can do that. I think this is far too personal for you to pretend to be someone else,’ and he was right. It’s something that I’ve carried through. Like I’ll play a gig in the clothes I was wearing that day. I feel like I put a lot of myself on the line in song, so why not be comfortable doing it!”
And the future is wide open, as Lahey keeps herself ready for anything. “It’s really awesome that I still feel that every time I start writing a new song, a blank canvas is there, and I hope that feeling never goes away. I hope I’m never in a spot where I’m like, this doesn’t sound like my last record, this doesn’t sound like me. I want my career as a song writer to be a perpetual blank canvas.” A few goals ahead were revealed however, when asked who Lahey’s dream musician to play with was, the answer being, “I want to open for Bruce Springsteen and introduce him to my Mum.”
Just like the past few months for Lahey, the road ahead is an exciting one.
When & Where: Karova Lounge, Ballarat – October 11 & Workers Club, Geelong – October 12
Written by Megan McNeel