Introducing Alex Frew, the 19-year-old Candian alt-pop star with talent for perception well beyond his years. His debut EP “Colbalt” is an introspective exploration of the challenges faced by the modern-day teenager, walking listeners through the journey of his high school years.
Beginning his journey in Toronto at just 6 years old, music became an emotional outlet and a place of solace for Alex. By the time he was fifteen, he had signed a development deal with Warner Music and would spend the next few years finding and further homing in on his sound.
Following his debut, Alex spoke to IndustyMe about its creation process, the state of pop music today, and more.
A lot of writers, tend to write about their experiences after they get to the other side of what they’re going through, but you made the decision to write while you were still working through your feelings. Why is this?
Songwriting has always been extremely therapeutic to me, and simply a fantastic outlet for emotions. Personally, it really helps me to look at a situation objectively and work through it while it’s happening, as it can give a completely different perspective on the matter. So in that regard, it’s simply invaluable to me.
Do you think pop music is capable of tackling issues in a way that is beyond the surface level?
Of course. We’re all human, and we all share the same emotions at some point in our lives. Music is such a beautiful medium because you can convey so many different emotions concurrently, and have that art dynamically change in real-time. Pop is also such a broad genre, so any topic is fair game, in my eyes.
How did your development deal with Warner come about?
I was lucky enough to record a group of demos for songs I had written around age 13 with the incredibly talented Justin Abedin, a guitarist and producer from Toronto. After we finished recording, he was kind enough to send my songs to some contacts he had in the industry. I signed with Warner at age 15, and the rest is history.
If it wasn’t music what do you think you would be doing?
Honestly, music is the only path I have ever really wanted to pursue, so if that didn’t take form in being an artist, I would most likely go into production, engineering, or even mixing.
How did you and Joel Stouffer meet?
I met Joel when I was about 14 when I was working with Warner in an unofficial capacity before I was signed. We wrote the song 9 Feet Tall together, and we just haven’t stopped working since. He is an incredibly talented guy, and I feel unbelievably lucky to know him.
Colbalt your 6 track debut EP originally started as 60 songs. Describe the track selection process to me.
After we had written the songs, we compiled them into a massive list on Soundcloud and got everybody from the label, as well as friends and family, listen and rate their favourite tracks, so we had outside opinions. With that knowledge and the songs we gravitated to ourselves, we moved into a final production phase for the 6 chosen songs that worked from a cohesion perspective, as well as just songs that people liked.
With pop music often veering into quite digital soundscapes, how do you make sure you maintain the human element to your music?
I find most of the human element conveyed in modern digital music is in the lyrics and vocal delivery. With so much of the music we created being done on laptops, it really is the thing that jumps out at me and makes me feel connected with the artist themselves, rather than just the song.
Do you think the youth of today, particularly as a “social media generation”, run the risk of oversharing?
I think social media, as a whole, has been incredibly detrimental in many walks of life, but one of my biggest gripes about it is its influence on the creative process. I find myself and others constantly stacking ourselves up to other people on the internet, which in turn leads to that oversharing, and questioning your creative process. So in that way, I do think oversharing is an issue, but on the other side of the coin, it allows people to express themselves in a completely new way, so there are definitely pros and cons to the situation.
As an artist how do you strike the balance between being open with your fans and keeping the more delicate things private?
In the modern-day, it’s really hard to keep that balance, but personally, I try to not share absolutely everything that I’m doing on social media so I can keep some semblance of privacy, and so far, so good.
Finally, the track “Head’s In The Stars” is all about getting out of your own head. For you what is the key to letting go and living in the present?
Personally, I believe the key is just to not overthink anything. We are all leading very finite lives, and we may as well live to the best of our ability while we can, so I think keeping that in mind is essential.