Photo credit: Kane Hibberd

When a young artist such as Alex Lahey releases her debut EP on a revered label to an incredibly positive reception, fellow up-and-comers may find themselves a little envious. But don’t be fooled, Lahey has been working at this for as long as she can remember, and her solo effort just happened to be the project that propelled her to universal acclaim.

The Australian rocker abandoned her music degree studying the saxophone because it wasn’t resonating with her. Lahey recounts her decision to focus on her own music. “I honed my songwriting skills and kept playing heaps and heaps of shows in various bands around Melbourne before starting this solo project. For whatever reason, things just came together, and with that came the opportunity to tour… and I eagerly took it!”

Her breakout single, “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me,” opens with the candid, straightforward lyrics “All I want is to have cleanskin wine and watch Mulholland Drive with you.” Lahey isn’t entirely sure what attracted people to this song in particular, but according to the musician, “for some reason, this song was the catalyst for [years of making music] in a small, yet significant way. I literally wrote and demoed the song on GarageBand in my bedroom one night – it’s a very special song to me.”

Her music will inevitably draw comparisons to fellow Aussie rocker Courtney Barnett, but her songs are less meandering and more succinct in their delivery. The instrumentals abandon shrill reverb in favor of pop melodies cloaked in surf rock psychadelia. Like Barnett, Lahey is self-aware in her songwriting, but rather than traipse between a myriad of themes via stream of conscious musings, Lahey is simply trying to navigate early 20’s anxieties, indulgences, academia, and of course – love.

Lyrically, she finds inspiration in her own life, “conversations I’ve had, people I’ve met, feelings I’ve felt. All the classic songwriting stuff.” Musically, however, her influences often waver depending on what she’s currently listening to. “At the moment, I’m super into the tongue and cheek grandiosity of Foxygen and Father John Misty, which I guess comes from artists like Elton John. I love it because creating something like that from scratch is such a mystery to me.”

Lahey is currently touring to promote B-Grade University, which was released January 30th on Dead Oceans. The title alludes to the EP’s opening track “Ivy League” in which the artist scoffs at the notion of attending an ivy league school by rhetorically asking if her life would be different, er, better, if that’s the path she chose.

When asked what she intends for fans to take away from the album, Lahey suggests “maybe a little bit of themselves that they weren’t aware of before. That sounds a little lame, but I’m so jet lagged, it’ll satisfy me for now.”

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Alex Lahey