‘You gotta do you’

By Rachel Adler ’12

The Mac Weekly interviewed Kerry Alexander ‘12 about music, t-shirts, and being a Parisian lady. Where are you from? If you had to describe your hometown in one word, what would it be and why? Whoa. Okay, well here’s my condensed life story; I was born here in Minneapolis and lived here for five years, then I moved to Birmingham, Alabama and lived there for 10 years, and then when I was 15, I moved to Tampa, Florida. I like to think of Birmingham as my home. One word I could use to describe it would be southern-fried. What’s your major? Are you working on a capstone or Honors project this semester? I am a Creative Writing/English major and I’m working on an Honors project in which I write a collection of poems about tragic women in history. I have about 15 poems about the lives of people such as Marilyn Monroe, Marie Antoinette, and Eve, you know, from way back when…not the rapper. Though she might come up later. You were a runner up a few years back for the “Everybody” music video contest with Ingrid Michelson. What was that experience like – from making the video to becoming a YouTube sensation, and then finding out you had won second place? I was an Ingrid Michelson fan for a while because “The Way I Am” (sweater song) is just good. I heard it on VH1’s “You Oughtta Know,” and, well, you all oughtta know that it’s a great song. So I was on her newsletter, and right before spring break I got an email that was like, “Everybody” video contest – grand prize is you get to perform on stage with Ingrid Michelson. I thought, oh yeah, that’s what I want! So I went home for spring break and recorded the video. I ran all around Florida, well, mostly just Tampa, Florida and recorded myself and my ukelele in grocery stores, in Jamba Juices, in a bank, and with my five dogs. That was fun, but then it got stressful in a fun way. I was constantly checking how many views the video had. People wrote really nice comments. One lady said that I was cuter than a pile of puppies. A whole pile! That’s got to be at least 16 puppies. Then there were also some weirdly competitive comments. I was just like, “guys, everybody wants to love.” Thanks to the help of my friends for promoting the video and holding up signs on Grand. I got second place and that was good, but it sort of ruined my relationship with the song and maybe even Ingrid Michaelson. When I got my prize of a package Ingrid Michelson stickers, which were fine, but I didn’t get a note. All I wanted was a note that was like, “hey, thanks for entering!” You know, I know, my grandma knows that you always send a note. So that’s my beef. But overall it was a good experience. How was your study abroad experience in Paris last semester? What did you work on while you were there? It was amazing. I was on a program where I had an internship, so I was living and working and commuting in Paris. I was a real Parisian lady, living the life. I made really good friends and met lovely people. I worked for an association that puts on a poetry festival every year, so I helped organize it with my boss, Vincent. It was actually just the two of us organizing this whole festival, which I didn’t realize until about half way into it. Vincent and I were a great team. He was a little shorter than me and smoked these disgusting cigarettes that were more like small cigars. Cigarellos? Yes, exactly. They smelled terrible. He would breathe on me; he would lean over me to point to something on the computer and I’d think, oh Vincent, no. We’d look at venues because there were different events that happened all over the city. We would ride around the city in his purple convertible. It was great – very magical. I ate food in parks and in restaurants. I played my guitar in bars. It was a grand old time. Did you perform in French or English? English mostly, but I attempted to banter in French, which I’d like to think was endearing. Did your French improve very much? I think so. I’m wary to say that I’m fluent because I feel like that’s a bold statement, but I can get around France comfortably; I’m cozy in French. What else have you been working on recently related to your music? I wrote a lot of songs in Paris – ten to be exact; some originals and a few covers. I recorded them all in my room. I lived on a street called Didot so I called them my “Didot Demos.” They were all recorded in my room, and I had the window open so that you can hear children playing outside and cars going by. Just a really nice ambience. I’ve definitely not been making as much music as I would like this semester, but, that being said, I’m very excited because I am now in a band called Bad Bad Hats with Chris Hoge ’12 and our friends Oleh Zeychenko ’12 and Adam Van der Sluis ’11. We’re starting to rock and roll. We don’t have very much recorded, but we do have some songs in the bank. We don’t want to get too big too fast, but ease into out inevitable fame. (Check them out at badbadhats.tumblr.com!) Who or what are your biggest musical influences? Early influences.. number one has got to be Michelle Branch. She came on the scene, she was playing her guitar, and I think writing her songs. But I also though Avril Lavigne was writing her own songs, so huge betrayal when I found out she wasn’t. I don’t even want to talk about that. Anyway, Feist and Billie Holiday are always great. I like a lot of things. Do you know Jaymay? She’s cool. There’s also some hardcore rapper named Jaymay, but it’s not the rapper, it’s the soft singer/songwriter. Laura Veirs is also amazing, and she went to Carleton, so maybe a Minnesota-native. It sounds like you listen to a lot of female artists. I do. I’m into the ladies when it comes to music. Sorry boys. Maybe it all started with Destiny’s Child and lady power. I can just relate to the lyrics more and where ladies are coming from. As a maker of music, I enjoy what they’re doing. No shame being a man in the music world, though. I heard that you have a huge collection of t-shirts. What sort of shirts do you collect? I have a lot that were given to me by my mother and father, so a lot of vintage t-shirts. Also a lot of souvenir t-shirts from family vacations. I have so many that I had to stop bringing them to school with me because they would fill a whole suitcase. I have around 150 at home. Say you were in the t-shirt section of a thrift store, what kinds of shirts would call out to you? I like the ones from schools or events I haven’t been to. What are your plans for J-Term? I would like to record some music because I got the songs up here (points to head). I’ll be in Florida with my family, so I plan on talking to them, hanging out with them, eating out at restaurants, eating at home; I plan on eating, socializing and sleeping. Nothing crazy, but a lot of healthy and important things. What’s next for Kerry Alexander? I think I’m going to stay in the Twin Cities. Maybe I’ll migrate over to Minneapolis because I know that’s the cool thing to do. Minneapolis is where the people and the lights are. So maybe go over there, get a job doing whatever. I don’t care if it’s a coffee shop or a used sporting goods store. I got arms and legs, and I’m going to use them. Mostly what I want to do it make music and see if I can make money off of it. If not, I’ll do the starving artist thing for a year or two, and if it’s not going anywhere, then graduate school. Any last words? You gotta do you.