Alexx Calise is a singer and songwriter based out of Los Angeles, California. She is perhaps best known for her hit single called “Cry”, which was featured on the show “Dance Moms” and has gained over 5.3 million hits on YouTube. Calise also works with an LA based production duo called Sensitive Robot, Rob Johnson and Evan Marquardt, which focuses on songwriting and video production. She has cultivated an independant following with her heart-and-soul lyrics and no-apologies attitude. Calise is also a published model and actress, a writer for a number of music publications, and the other half of the musical project called Batfarm with Dennis Morehouse.
Released today is Alexx Calise’s fresh new single called “Rise”. The song begins with a melancholic chord progression with electric guitar and piano. Calise’s vocals enter shortly after, and her tone is immediately captivating. The mood of this song is eventually quite uplifting, but not without the description of the things in life that can get you down. What the listener is left with is the ultimate sense of overcoming obstacles, hence the aptly named “Rise”. The chorus is uplifting, and Calise’s voice is soulful, polished and empowering. The instrumentation is old-school enough, with the use of organ and horns, and the overall pace of the song is perfectly understated. There is an accompanying music video to go with this soulful tune, featuring Calise writing with her partner on a couch, preparing for a performance, and ultimately performing with her band. This suits the pacing of the song perfectly, as the video builds up along with the music. We highly recommend you check out the song and video for “Rise” today!
Check out "Rise". Read more from Alexx and Rob in our exclusive interview below!
Hey, thanks for chatting with us! Would you mind starting off by describing your background and how you first became involved with music?
Alexx: I was lucky in that I had a pretty musically rich childhood. My parents would play everything from Mozart to Led Zeppelin in the house, and my father (who is also a guitar player) would regularly play Beatles tunes and the James Bond theme for my little brother and I when we were small. Being a daddy’s girl to some extent, I just had to pick up the guitar myself too eventually, so I could be just like him. I discovered I loved singing when I was young as well, and very much looked up to artists like Janis Joplin, Steven Tyler, and Chris Cornell, which is where I guess I picked up my vibrato and torchy voice. Because I was a writer first and foremost, it seemed natural that I just put my writings to music, which I was also equally passionate about. Rob: I figured out how to play Beatles songs by ear at age 7 so I took piano lessons as a kid. My older siblings were musical so there was a lot of jamming and playing songs in our house growing up. I played bass in lots of bands in my teens and twenties, highlights include being produced by David Robinson of The Cars in a Boston band called Boys Life and playing in a popular Boston band called The Outlets. I’ve also written 4 musicals that’ve been produced numerous times throughout the US.
Who would you describe as your biggest artistic influences?
Alexx: Probably Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Aerosmith. I have a laundry list of other artists across all genres, but these artists in particular were always in my rotation and continue to be because of their brilliant songwriting, chord choices, impassioned performances and how they made me feel chemically. Rob: The Beatles, John Prine, The Brill Building songwriters of the 60s, classic Broadway songwriters like Rogers & Hammerstein, Jerry Hermann and Sondheim etc. I just love the songwriters of great songs, that's the best way to sum up my influences. Those Brill Building songwriters were also an influence on the “Rise” music video.
Your new single “Rise” seems to be a lot about overcoming the mundane obstacles of the world. Did you have this in mind from the beginning when you wrote the song?
Alexx: Absolutely. We wrote this following Hurricane Irma in 2017, which caused catastrophic damage to some parts of the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. We wanted to write an uplifting song about rising from the ashes and overcoming your circumstances. Sometimes you have to start small, like forcing a smile, or just getting out of bed, which can seem almost impossible some days. Even if it hurts, sometimes you have to force yourself to rise. You really only have two choices in this life: to roll over or rise above. Rob: Alexx came in with the title "Rise" and the idea to write a song about her family and friends dealing with Hurricane Irma. I loved her idea and just started writing a gospel-tinged chord progression on piano and we finished writing the song together in a couple hours.
You collaborate a lot with other artists and producers. How would you describe your overall songwriting process? In other words, how does your music all come together?
Alexx: It really varies. Sometimes I start with the lyrics or melody, and the other person does the music, sometimes we do it all together. It just really depends on the situation and what the moment dictates. Mainly we’re always just bouncing ideas off of each other, and we both decide what stays and what doesn’t. Lyrics and melody are kind of my calling card especially, so I try to be really involved with that. Rob: Yeah, it depends. I have a good understanding of music theory but I think emotion or an idea comes first and then lyrics and music happen kind of effortlessly in support of a strong concept. I’ve co-written songs and musicals with numerous people and love the synergy of collaboration.
What can we hope to see from you in the future?
Alexx: As far as with Sensitive Robot, we’re always writing, be it in the form of cues, or whole songs. Right now, Rob and I have been working on these schlocky French style tunes, and we’re having an absolute blast doing it. We’re huge fans of 40’s style music, and it’s just so fun to write and sing. We will be releasing those songs as singles over the course of the year. I’ll also be releasing an EP with my other band, Batfarm in the coming months. Rob: As Alexx said, we’re having a blast writing a collection of retro French type songs. I’m also currently co-writing with Marvin Etzioni (founder of American country rock band Lone Justice) and Sensitive Robot is working on some very interesting musical projects that we’ll be releasing in the near future.
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