LEXXE is a classically trained dancer turned metal-tinged pop star from Long Island, New York. After performing in underground neo-burlesque theater Company XIV and mingling within the local Long Island punk and hardcore scene, LEXXE has acquired a musical identity that feels both grungy and glamourous. She released her debut EP Meet Me In The Shadows in late 2020 which is a dark pop journey with exciting visuals to match.
You released a new music video for your single “Meet Me In The Shadows.” Share with us the making of the video — there’s lots of water involved!
Yes!! When I was younger, my sister lived in Queens, and my first taste of independence was when she was watching me (I think I was around 12?). I would be there so I could go to ballet summer camp, and in my free time, I’d watch her movie collection. The two that stuck out to me the most were The Lost Boys and Flashdance. When I wrote “Meet Me In The Shadows,” I was really seeing myself as this outcast character and leaned into the inspiration from the Lost Boys. I wanted to have this huge finale, and the song really started feeling like something that could’ve been in Flashdance, so I HAD to give myself a rain moment; it was only fair — except instead of just dancing in the rain, I played the solo too. It was my first time playing guitar in a video, and I wanted my entrance to feel just as big as the song is to me. Because the track itself is really the start of me coming into my own as an artist and musician, I felt like the rain was a great metaphor for a fresh start.
Not only a singer and a songwriter, you’re also a dancer and director. Starting as a ballet dancer and classical instrumentalist, how did you cross over to playing guitar and pop/metal music?
My dad was a classical piano player and music lover, so he inspired me to pick up the french horn when I was in 4th grade. I played for about nine years. At home, there was always a strong mix of disco, classical, and then later on, when my step-dad came into my life, metal and rock. I was always actively listening, and I believe everything brewed in my head for a while as I was attempting a professional dance career. When I realized it was music that I loved the most, I switched lanes. I have a pretty good ear, and I had always been teaching myself piano and guitar as a hobby, but it wasn’t until I saw a good chance of me really being able to make it in music that I took it seriously. For me, my favorite performances are pop acts that employ rock and metal elements into their live shows. Have you ever seen old Britney Spears footage? Her band is sick! It’s no Anthrax performance, but the guitar is a main attraction. Guitar is 100% necessary in my music, and I’m just here to genre bend as much as I can and make music that I’d listen to.
How do you merge the two into your creative work?
Coming from the dance world, I think I am always aware of what makes someone want to move and I’m always conscious of if I’d want to move to it. I cannot sit still when I hear Def Leppard just the same as Dua Lipa, so I think my purpose in life is to really create a world where both soundscapes exist for an artist.
Being involved in both dance and music, how do you balance your time between both?
I have to be really picky about what I commit to because not every gig is going to be understanding of my double life. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to perform with Company XIV for the last few years because not only are they supportive but the director Austin McCormick is always trying to show me in my best light, as well as supporting my original music. They are this incredible baroque-inspired theater that employs the best of the best dancers, aerialists, and singers in Brooklyn. In their last Nutcracker, I went from performing a classical ensemble piece to playing guitar in a matter of minutes (my guitar and amp were side stage ready to go). I honestly don’t think any other prestigious company is ever going to really get me in that way, so I honestly lucked out.
Reuniting with axelghxst for the first time since Red Velvet on “Joyride,” how did this collaboration form and what do you like most about the remix?
Axel was the first person I wrote with who literally let me be myself. He’s from the rock/metal world originally and went into pop production, so he understands how important guitar and other rock elements are in popular music in general, even if they are not the main focus of the track. He is so multi-talented and honestly just gets me — so getting to work together again was a blessing. This remix came about because he was genuinely inspired by “Joyride” and asked to take a stab at it. I love the bass and the re-imagined soundscape; it is a spooky disco dream. We hadn’t been able to collaborate in a while and it got us back on our feet — I can’t wait for what we do next.
How did you spend your time during the pandemic staying creative?
“Meet Me In The Shadows” was written during the early stages of the pandemic, and it was a last minute addition to the debut EP I was working on. It ended up becoming the title track and I went into full creative director mode to create the visual world for the project. I was really fortunate to be able to keep creating because I was actually quarantined with my creative team — we completed all the videos and content for it in lockdown. It was easy to dive into that and really focus on it, but once it was released, I felt a little empty — I hadn’t written in a while and had a creative block. We weren’t supposed to be sitting in our rooms for days on end, and the pressure to keep creating was high. I learned that the best thing you can do is never force anything — and now, as the world slowly returns I’m finding myself coming back to life too.
Who are some of the early classical musicians that influenced your creative style, and what musicians are you currently listening to today?
I love everything about Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky — and I listened to a lot of opera growing up too. In my music video for “85’” I was directly nodding to Pagliacci (the opera with the infamous sad clown). I love incorporating those influences — it’s how all fun multi-dimensional art is made. In an unreleased track I have coming out (spoiler alert), there’s this awesome opera sample. I think sprinkling in classical elements will always be a part of my art; I am literally a tattooed ballerina, so that paradox is sort of my thing, haha! Currently, I really love The Weeknd; he incorporates so much into his sound, and I love it. I think what Miley is doing is awesome, and I honestly have been listening to Billy Idol and Deftones a lot more than usual lately.
Who or what inspired you to learn to play guitar? What brand do you play and why?
Brian May is incredible, and I always air-guitared those Queen solos growing up and never thought I’d be able to do those things. Phil Collen too — just so incredible and in the pocket. I started playing guitar more because I was at a point in my life that it was something I felt I needed to prove to myself (and I was getting tired of singing leads to someone else to record). I’ve been really fortunate to have great help and supporters. When I was recording guitar leads by myself for the first time at Westfall Recording Studios with my producer Anthony, he let me use his Sully guitar. He took a video to commemorate it, and it caught the attention of Sully himself, who got to know me and my project and decided to sponsor me. I am very guilty of having imposter syndrome, and when he reached out, I decided I needed to stop being so afraid of taking myself seriously. His guitars are works of art, and I am so grateful to be able to grow as an artist with such an awesome supporter in my corner. I currently play a beautiful Sully Concorde, who I’ve named Lola. You will see much more of me playing in my live set when I am able to get back on stage.
With such a busy schedule, what’s next? Any plans to release an EP or full-length album any time soon?
Right now, I’m perfecting my live set, which is really exciting. I’m really proud of my debut EP and never got to play it live! Other than that, I have some really exciting new music ready to go — you’ll most likely start getting a peek at the next chapter come fall.