Artist Interview: UK Singer Songwriter Alexander McKay

Alexander McKay is a talented singer songwriter with an earnest vocal quality. Is music permeates the space. His song “Winter” was the track of the day recently on Tradiio. I was excited for the opportunity to get a bit more of his story behind his music. Here are his responses to a few questions.

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1) How long have you been playing music? How did you get your start?

I started playing the guitar quite late at 14, I still have to pinch myself when I think that’s now over 20 years ago. I still get just as excited from playing now as I did back then.
My first band took off locally when I was about 17. We were offered a deal with a then small label which was home to some pretty big British indie bands. It was all very exciting.
I used to co-write all the songs with the vocalist at the time as I had no interest at that point in penning lyrics and fronting projects myself, I was guitar obsessed!!
The band imploded when the vocalist mysteriously went AWOL. None of the band has ever seen or heard from him since. I have no idea what happened to him.
I moved to London to study music and whilst doing this met a female singer who’s family was basically rock n’ roll royalty. We went on to tour with Toto and other arena bands, but for me something was always missing.
I know now that I needed more of a connection with the songs and the music and that’s why I started writing songs for me.

2) Who are your musical influences? Being from the UK there’s a longstanding folk tradition. Does that influence your sound?

I love most genres of music, depending on what my mood is at the time.
When I started writing my own songs I went back to listen to the story tellers, which, for me, were usually American artists, as
this is what I grew up listening to thanks to my father.
Bands like; America, Bread, Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Jackson Browne and The Eagles.
The English folk artists I related to musically were Nick Drake, John Martyn and Martin Simpson who I later found at Jackson Browne also has a massive admiration for.

3) I can’t talk to you without asking about Tradiio. What’s it been like being on the artist side of things? Do you recommend the platform?

I think Tradiio is a fantastic platform for Artists to connect with new listeners and for me its been interesting hearing new sounds from around the globe.
Of course I love it even more as I was honoured to find two of my songs taking up the 1st and 2nd slots in the country music chart.

4) Your track “Winter” is a big hit on the Tradiio charts. Can you tell us the story behind it?

I used to live in Los Angeles in my early 20’s and at that age I was all about running around experimenting, making some mistakes, finding out who I was and where I wanted to go.
LA is a great place to get lost in. The track was inspired from hanging out with a girl, hey aren’t most country songs about a girl?
We used to drink Tequilla (a lot of Tequilla!!) lie on the beach, talk until the sun came up. Magic times. California has a big place in my heart.

5) What does your songwriting process look like?

When writing I tend to feel a mood, it could come at anytime, when driving, cycling, out with friends, any time really.
I always have my iPhone on me to record the moment when it comes. Sometimes my melodies are way too high, if anyone heard those raw early processes I’d die!!
I listen back when I get home and start chopping away at some chords, try to find where the song is sitting comfortably in my vocal range, or sometimes uncomfortably if I’m in the mood to push it a bit!!
I love experimenting with open tunings too. Sometimes chords I wouldn’t necessarily find in a standard tuning magically fall under my fingers. That’s just it, it’s magic really, songs are little messages, I just have to be open to receive them (big smile).Then it’s all really about messing around with the lyrics, phrases, finding the story.

6) Are you working on a new album or are you touring? Maybe a little of both?

I have just been involved in a film. So the earlier part of the year comprised of composing solely for that. I’m now in the process of scoring out the rest to picture.
I have been putting together a real vocal harmony project with my new band. It’s been fun seeing how the songs develop in a larger line up.
Hey, I’m always writing, it’s what I do, I go crazy when there’s silence!! I’m planning a tour next year starting in California, over to Tennessee, and filling in the space between.

7) If you could open for any major artist today, who would it be? (and why)

Wow, that’s a tough one. I saw Jason Isbell last year in Chattanooga, I love that guys voice, playing, writing, everything he’s done.
I identify a lot with what he’s been through, evolving as an artist, so hey, Mr Isbell, how about it, lets hit the road!!

8) You have an intriguing “pop country” style. Can you explain a bit about how you’ve made that happen?

It’s just what came out at the time. As I said earlier, I love all music, some pop, some country, it all gets churned up and spat out the other side.

9) Both “Winter” and “Moving On” are about relationships. How do romantic relationships inspire your writing?

It’s hard not to get reflective when writing. I definitely draw inspiration from past experiences. Whether that be a romantic relationship or a life event that emotionally effected me at the time.
I can only write from experiences, that’s where the truth is.

10) What would you like our readers (mostly folk fans in the US) to know about your music?

That I love making it. I write music to be shared, it’s how I connect to people and hopefully they can connect back, through the songs.

Thanks to Alexander for these honest responses.  Check him out on his website.

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