Alex Lahey ready to hit US with SXSW debut


Courtesy Pitch Perfect PR

Alex Lahey, an indie pop-rock musician from Australia who opened for Tegan and Sara, is starting her own tour in the U.S., beginning with SXSW in Austin, Texas March 16–17.  

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

It is 10 a.m. in the Melbourne Airport, Australia, and musicians are getting ready to fly to Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest, the annual music festival that also showcases film, music, comedy, panel discussions and interactivity.

“This plane is going to be like a tour bus,” said Alex Lahey, one of the musicians on board, as she greeted her fellow artists.

Lahey—whose sound can be categorized as emotionally driven, punchy guitar pop—is heading to SXSW for the first time to start her U.S. tour for her 2016 EP B-Grade University. Her single “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” was called the Best New Track from Pitchfork, and Lahey closed out the year by being the most played artist on Triple J Unearthed, an Australian music site. The 24-year-old was also voted Best Female Artist at the Age Music Awards.

With more than 83,000 monthly Spotify listeners, Lahey is ready to play for her American fans and will be at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave., March 20. 

The Chronicle spoke to Lahey about her millennial angst songs, an upcoming debut album and experiences touring with Tegan and Sara.

THE CHRONICLE: Your song “Wes Anderson” is about a relationship very relatable to millennials. Does the person know you wrote it about them?

ALEX LAHEY: Yeah, for sure. It was about a relationship I was in at the time and the little things [about it]. I don’t know if that is because I was bored in the relationship, but I was very in love at the time and it [was] a very slow-paced relationship, so I wrote a song about it and the little things. 

Do you still feel the same emotion while performing these songs?

It is interesting how these songs have taken on a life of their own and have found their own journey, whether by people listening in Melbourne, the U.K. or in Chicago. There is like a re-burst everytime someone discovers them. For me, I just came off this tour in the U.K., and performing them over there was like performing them for the first time again. They take on this different meaning every time I play them, depending on where I play them. I said this to my band, “I can’t believe I’m not sick of them yet.” We have done so many shows, and that song has sort of been milling about for three years now since I wrote it, and I am still not sick of it. I am sure I will be, but for now I am just really happy to be sharing new music.

When is your first full-length album due?

I am about 50 percent of the way through my debut album. It’s gonna be 10 tracks and it should be out later this year. I’ve never been involved in making an album, so it is a big life moment. I am very excited to have a 12-inch [record] with my name on it.

What did you learn from touring and working with Tegan and Sara?

The thing Tegan and Sara are so amazing at is they are so socially conscious. One thing I have taken from them is that it doesn’t matter how big you think you are or how much of a capacity to make a difference you have. Every little thing counts toward making the world a better place and making people feel more accepted and included. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel included and safe in a space that maybe they are not normally. 

[Tegan and Sara] do a lot of stuff with the LGBT community, so they are really into having gender-neutral bathrooms and that sort of thing. It is such a small thing. You just call and say, “Can I do this?” and the venue generally says yeah. And then it probably has made a real difference to someone experiencing the show and a real change to their lives. 

They are really wonderful. They have been in the game for so long that they share so many stories and you have these bizarre conversations with them like, “Oh yeah, we were just talking to Katy Perry about feminism the other day.” They definitely are role models.