Youngblood (Not the 80s hockey movie filmed in Canada starring Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze …you know the one I’m talking about right? No? Oh ya…I’m old) is a musically talented electro-pop songstress and force of nature, full of ambition, humour and songs that make you feel like you’re dancing in a mystical trance.
Alexis Young, otherwise known as Youngblood, is just starting her solo career after four years in the new wave, dance rock (and totally awesome) Sex with Strangers. I sat down with Alexis recently to talk about her musical collaboration, female role models, and our favourite Spice Girls.
CG: First and foremost who’s idea was it to do a cover of Gowan’s Moonlight Desires?
YB: It was actually my brother Adam. We decided that we wanted to record a cover together so we went through a bunch of ideas and none of them were really what we wanted and then Adam said, “You probably don’t want to do this one, but what about Gowan’s Moonlight Desires?” I was like, “Yes. I love that song!”
CG: It’s a great cover. I really like it.
YB: Thank you.
CG: Did you send your version to Gowan?
YB: I haven’t sent it yet. I’m a little nervous. I want him to listen to it but…
CG: You’re scared? I think he will like it.
YB: I think he probably will too. Maybe I will send it.
CG: You have an EP coming out. I read that you wrote some of the songs with Parker Bossley (Gay Nineties). What was it like working together?
YB: Parker and I have a funny relationship where I have known him for a very long time and it took a few years for us to gain a bit of mutual respect — and I say mutual in a sense that I respected him first and it took him a few years to understand me as an artist.
YB: I think it’s just that it took me some time to have a proper platform to express what I was doing. As soon as things aligned and I was at the fullest expression of myself, he wanted to be a part of what I was doing.
CG: You just needed to build your resume a little bit.
YB: Yes. Parker has a lot of experience in the music industry because he started at such a young age. He has a really great understanding of musical composition and song writing.
CG: It’s nice to collaborate. It’s more fun.
YB: It is fun and everyone can bring a piece of their own magic and wisdom. I really like working with Parker and I think some of my best songs are the ones I’ve written with him.
CG: Do you remember the first piece of music that you ever bought? And does that music influence the type of music you play today?
YB: The first tape I ever had was Spice Girls in 1996. I remember Franz Ferdinand’s first record when I was in high school, when you’re around 14 or 15 and you start to think you’re an adult and start paying attention to music. I grew up in Calgary when I started reading the local Fast Forward and Beat Route magazines. There was a good review of that album so I thought, “Ok, I’m now going to buy this CD and I’m going to be so cool because I read about this in a magazine.”
I listened to it to death. I had this alarm clock with a CD player, and the CD would start playing as the “alarm” to wake me up. Because I listened to the album so much it wouldn’t wake me up when it started playing because I knew it so well. It would start to become the soundtrack to my dreams… Haha. I’m not sure how much of an influence on me musically it is, but I really love that album to this day.”
CG: What about the Spice Girls? Who was your favourite? Mine was Ginger.
YB: I’m embarrassed to say that at the time Baby Spice was my favourite. But as an adult I think Ginger Spice would be the one. She was definitely the coolest.
CG: Ginger was more out there… She wore the crazy outfits.
YB: I have that union jack dress that Ginger wore because I went as her for Halloween a couple years ago. It’s actually become one of my favourite stage outfits. I wore it the first time I ever played with Gay Nineties at Ponderosa a few years ago—I was totally channeling my inner Ginger Spice.
CG: Nice! Can you tell me some of your strong female role models in music?
YB: That’s a good question! Personality-wise, I would have to say Grace Jones.
CG: I like her too because she is so fierce.
YB: She is a fucking firecracker.
CG: No apologies.
YB: She is not afraid to do whatever the fuck she wants and I love her for that. She has fully given me the courage to be a weirdo. To just own it. If you own whatever you do people will respect that.
Also, Blondie (Debbie Harry) is a bad ass bitch… Very cool. Getting closer to home as a teenager — Emily Haines was a big influence on me. I thought she was a bad ass. Same with Cat Power. In my bio I have Nancy Sinatra because I think she is effortlessly rad. She’s one of those people that you want to go to a party, sit on the couch, chain smoke cigarettes with, talk about life and maybe swap outfits, drink a martini… She seems like a classy lady.
CG: Can you tell me some of your favourite books?
YB: Yes, one of my favourite books of all time is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
Another great book is called A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. I was backpacking a few years ago and I randomly picked it up because the cover had polka dots and I thought it looked cute hahaha! It ended up being one of the best books I have ever read. I have recommended it to pretty much everyone. Its laugh out loud funny and bawl your face off sad. I have read it four or five times.
CG: How about a film that you would watch over and over again?
YB: I’ve seen Wayne’s World about 200 times. Hahaha!
CG: I watched the first Back to the Future so many times…
YB: When you had a bunch of movies on tape as a kid you watch it over and over. Another I had was 10 Things I Hate About You.
CG: I can’t watch things over and over anymore.
YB: If you are going to choose to watch anything over again, it’s got be amazing because nowadays we have unlimited access to all movies, old and new, but I don’t think I will ever get tired of Wayne’s World. It could be playing right now and I would be stoked.
CG: A movie that I watched and referenced a lot as a teenager with its great one liners is the movie Heathers.
YB: It’s about time I re-watched Heathers.
CG: So good… My last question is: Have you always wanted to make music? Do you remember a time when you were like, “This is it! Sold!” or has it been a gradual thing?
YB: When I was around 15, I would write songs everyday and it was just like a thing I needed to do in order to feel normal. I didn’t play them for anybody except for maybe my sisters. I moved to Vancouver when I was 20 and I recorded my first real song with my brother in his apartment bathroom, a song that I wrote while I was traveling in India. That was the first thing I recorded and I remember feeling just so satisfied and feeling like this is what I want to do. The whole creative process — from feeling something and then needing to get it out and then crafting it — making it sound the way you want to and then hearing the final product…
CG: And saying to yourself, “I did that!”
YB: I did that. I made something. Now there is a thing in the Universe that wasn’t there before because I made it. It’s pretty cool.
CG: Yes. It’s a great feeling.