LA-based Singer-Songwriter Cindy Alexander is a natural storyteller, unafraid to tackle the most intimate subjects in her songs. She is brassy, sassy and full of attitude. This is a woman one definitely wants on one’s side. Seriously funny and sarcastic, she channels all of her life experiences and there’s quite a few, into her craft – the craft of amazingly catchy powerful songs. So many great songs – a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Here’s another strong tidbit on Cindy, she’s a two-year out Breast Cancer Survivor and mom to six-year old twin girls…she’s got fight, grit and moxie!
[Cover photo credit: Kim Aberle]
Guitar Girl Magazine (GGM): How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t heard your music?
Cindy Alexander: That is always the hardest question for me to answer. It goes along with asking someone how they see themselves, as opposed to how they are perceived by others. To ME, I am just sharing slices of life set to music, through the lens of my perception and experience. The slice of life dictates the “Sound” – sometimes acoustic, intimate folky-rock, sometimes a theatrical ballad, sometimes alterna-pop, sometimes good ole’ rock and roll. I’ve heard I can also sound “rootsy.” I favor real instruments rather than programmed, synthesized sounds. I’m sure I’m a product of my influences and the people I grew up listening to, like Glen Campbell, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty…. that’s what my parents had on the radio, and I was singing along. I’m definitely influenced by the ‘70s singer/songwriters, but I also love the “Adult Alternative” or Triple A format that took hold in the ‘90s and early 2000s (Counting Crows, Aimee Mann, Suzanne Vega, Ben Folds, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow). I think the through-line is my voice and lyrical style. I love WORDS ~ love to play with them, manipulate them and massage their meanings.
While I was writing this I put the question up on Facebook to get some help. This is what my fans had to say:
“Sultry and soulful”
“Ethereal and genuine with shades of kick ass rock”
“Positive, Uplifting American Rock”
“Modern day Singer-Songwriter, Folk Rock”
“Ear Worm Material”
“Cindy Alexander writes outside the box. It isn’t defined by genre as much as real, true emotion. It’s music that entertains as much as it reaches in and touches your very soul.”
I’m going to transcribe them all so I can find this piece of paper when I’m a hormonal hot mess.
GGM: You mentioned your influences – who inspires you?
Cindy: These days I am most inspired by my children, my 6 year old twin daughters. They add an element of wonder and awe to my world, as well as a level of responsibility to the choices I make, both personally and professionally.
GGM: How was your experience recording your latest album An American Girl?
Cindy: Fantastic and quick! I was in the middle of touring and had a short window within to get the songs written and recorded. Except for my vocals, most of it was tracked while I was on the road. I’m lucky that I have complete faith in my producer, Dave Darling, and my live band who played on these tracks: Randy Ray Mitchell, Phil Parlapiano, Tina Trevino, Carl Sealove and my husband, Chip Moreland.
GGM: What is next for you? Touring, recording?
Cindy: Right now I’m finishing up writing the next EP, for which I’m collaborating with Colin Devlin of the Irish band The Devlins. He’s also a great solo artist. We’ll be recording over the holidays. That will be the 2nd in a series of EP’s that started with “An American Girl.” We plan on doing 4 in the next year or so, each with a different collaborator. I have some tour dates in Northern California in November, and then a few house concerts in Southern California and Texas. I’ll be touring pretty extensively in 2016. I basically book my tour around what I call Home Invasions (private house concerts) – these are the Best. Shows. Ever. Basically, a Super Fan invites about 30-50 friends for a pot luck evening. I set up acoustic in the living room (or wherever is most comfortable) with a small PA and put on a very interactive show. I get to know my fans and my fans get to know me on a very personal level. I’ll also be doing plenty of club dates around the U.S. I update my website www.cindyalexander.com and this page quite often as more dates are added: www.bandsintown.com/cindyalexander. If anyone is interested in hosting a house concert, by all means don’t be shy – email me! Anything is possible!”
GGM: Is there a band or artist that you want to see play live that you haven’t seen before?
Cindy: Wow – this question makes me realize that I’ve seen most, if not all of my favorites. However, I’d love to bring a few people back from the dead and magically put the Beatles back together for a great date night with Chip. Before I got married and had kids, I would go out to hear live music a few nights a week. It’s a lot harder now to get out of the house. But many times, I get to open up for great bands – I always look at it like I’m “working” for a free ticket to the show. Some of my favorite shows I’ve opened have been America, John Hiatt, Marc Cohn, and my favorite touring buddies: The Bacon Brothers.
“My acoustic Taylor guitar. It’s my challenge – it stares at me
wanting me to pick it up, and lures me from the doldrums.”
GGM: What is your favorite instrument?
Cindy: I have two: 1. The piano – an antique upright inherited from my Grandma. I’ve played my life into it. It comforts me, and returns the love. 2. My acoustic Taylor guitar. It’s my challenge – it stares at me wanting me to pick it up, and lures me from the doldrums. I want to learn more about it, dig deeper. It sounds better with age, as I hope I do too 😉
GGM: How long have you been playing live performances?
Cindy: That’s debatable. My mother would say I was performing in the womb. My first live show in L.A. as a singer/songwriter was sometime late in ‘93. My first show was at Genghis Cohen on Fairfax in Hollywood. And my second was The Troubadour in ‘94. I was selling my songs on….cassettes. Some kid reading this is going to have to look that word “cassette” up on Google.
GGM: What kind of energy do you get from the crowd – or is there a particular energy you look for?
Cindy: Live performance is all about that exchange of energy between the stage and the crowd. Without that special element, you might as well just stay home and listen to the CD. I definitely feed off the energy from the audience, but it’s also my responsibility as a performer to lift their energy if it’s not there in the first place. It’s easy for a performer to blame the audience for a bad show. I don’t believe in that. It’s my job to captivate and to move them to FEEL. It only takes one person to be on the receiving end. I don’t need a stadium full to feel alive on stage. I just need an open heart, and an open mind, that listens.
GGM: What is your favorite song and who is it by?
Cindy: “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell. It’s the first song I ever performed, at a talent show at a dude ranch in Colorado when I was 5. Over the years, the lyrics have meant more and more to me.
GGM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Cindy: I live life one day at a time these days – I try to be so present. I’d like to think that despite all the things I think I want to be and achieve 10 years from now, that something even better is around that corner that I cannot even conceive of right now. My heartfelt response to that question is: Alive. That’s what I visualize: Alive and Healthy, with thriving family and friendships. I think of my daughters being 16 years old and me trying not to have a heart attack because they have the keys to my car.
“… be true to the Artist that you are will make you a happier,
more patient, and I think better parent.”
GGM: Any advice to those balancing career and motherhood?
Cindy: It will never truly be a balance because Family comes first. But giving yourself time to create and be true to the Artist that you are will make you a happier, more patient, and I think better parent. I took off the first 3 years of my kids’ lives to be 100% Mom. I have no regrets. It wasn’t easy, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose some of myself during that time period – but I got it back. Music doesn’t go away. It’s there waiting when you’re ready to embrace it. Children can be your best audience and biggest fans. Create and sing for them.
GGM: Being a two year out breast cancer survivor, with this experience, are there any special dates to be announced for charities or anything like that to look forward to?
Cindy: Whenever I can bring a charitable aspect into my shows, I do. I am an Ambassador to BreastCancer.org and try to educate as many people as I can about ways to be proactive regarding prevention, detection and treatment. Many of my private house concerts are charity benefits. I feel so incredibly grateful and blessed to be where I am today, and I try to pay it forward. If you get a chance, check out the Giving Key available at www.blueelan.com/store. I was given one that said “Believe” when I was going into surgery for my double mastectomy. When “Curve” was released, Blue Elan ordered custom keys that say “Curve” on one side and “Believe” on the other. A portion of the proceeds benefit BreastCancer.org.”
“Stay true to yourself – don’t try to fit in.
Be the center of the puzzle and let the pieces fit in around YOU.”
GGM: What advice would you give to new and up-coming artists or musicians?
Cindy: 1. Your definition of “Success” probably needs an overhaul. 2. Stay true to yourself – don’t try to fit in. Be the center of the puzzle and let the pieces fit in around YOU.
GGM: What kind of guitar do you play?
Cindy: Taylor 514-ce
GGM: How old were you when you began playing and writing songs?
Cindy: I started playing piano at 6, and was improvising on Beethoven shortly thereafter. As far as writing songs, I just called it “making stuff up” at about 16. I picked up the guitar when I first started touring in 1999 with the Bacon Brothers, because the keyboard wasn’t as portable.
GGM: What is your favorite song on your album?
Cindy: I’m assuming you’re talking about the latest, An American Girl. It’s really hard to pick favorites because each song is a musical “child.” But the one that I love to SING the most is “Monarch.” The song is about looking for signs from those we’ve lost, and is loosely inspired by the book Hope’s Wish. You can read more about Hope Stout, her family and her legacy here: www.marchforthwithhope.com. Another thing that is special to me about that tune is that it was written with the woman who taught me about songwriting in the first place: Michele Brourman. Remember I told you that I was just “making stuff up” at the beginning? Well, Michele taught me how to fine tune that “stuff.” We met when she was the accompanist for my voice coach in college. It’s such a joy to be writing with her now.”
Thank you Cindy Alexander for talking with us! Her new album came out on October 9th and is titled An American Girl.
An American Girl
- See You In L.A.
- Burdens and Bones (How Bad Do You Want It?)
- American Girl
- Play (acoustic)
- Monarch (acoustic)
- See You In L.A. (acoustic)
~ Tiffini Taylor