Alex Aiono is one of 2017’s hottest rising stars. The talented artist first came to our attention through his incredible covers and mashups on YouTube, which have since accumulated over half a billion views. However, at the beginning of this year, Alex went to the next level by releasing his debut single ‘Work The Middle’.
Following the single’s release, we had the chance to quiz Alex, which you can read here. Since we first interviewed him, he has continued to post superb content on YouTube, alongside releasing his latest single ‘Question’ and a collaboration with Felix Jaehn called ‘Hot2Touch’.
Alex recently came to London for a promo trip, in which we were given the opportunity to catch up with him on the phone. During our chat, we discussed ‘Question’, Nando’s, tour rituals, his fans, and much more! Check out our interview with Alex Aiono below.
Hey Alex, how are you? Welcome back to the UK!
I’m alright thanks! I appreciate it, I love being here.
How’s your trip been so far?
Oh it’s been so much fun. We got to hang out at Nando’s yesterday with a bunch of fans. We took some pictures, we got to play some music, it was a real good time.
Every time an American artist comes over to the UK, they seem to love Nando’s. Did you make time for a meal yesterday?
I didn’t get to order anything this time as I was so focused on hanging out with the fans and spending time with them. The last time I was here, I definitely had my share of Nando’s!
We spoke to you a few months ago, just after you released ‘Work The Middle’. Since then you’ve also released ‘Question’ – how’s the response been to your solo music so far?
Oh man, the fans have been SO great at mobilising the music and streaming it on Spotify, watching the music videos on YouTube, and basically supporting and sharing it so much with the world. They’ve been so great about it. I was a little bit nervous when I started putting out original music because I wanted them to take kindly to it as much as they do with my mashups and covers, but they’ve gone above and beyond. I’m so happy with it.
Can you tell us a little about ‘Question’ and the inspiration behind it?
‘Question’…well I like to call it a celebration. I don’t know if you’ve been in a relationship where you get broken up with, but I know that feeling of being broken up with and you kind of feel unwanted and sad, you feel like you want that person back. But then that day comes where you’re like, “wait, I feel good, I’m happy and I’m better”, and you meet someone else and start talking to them and they make you happy. Then that person who broke up with you comes back to you and is like “give me another shot”, so it’s questioning that moment where you get to look them in the eyes and get that feeling of, not necessarily revenge but, of “I’ve moved on, I’m happy and I’m telling you this is how I feel.”
What would you say is your favourite lyric from the song?
I like the lyric, “Don’t act up around your lame-fall, and try to call me on your way home”. I always think back to the one time this situation happened to me, which was a big inspiration for me when I was cutting the song. They would be like (to their friends and behind your back), “Alex doesn’t matter” etc, and on her way home that night whilst driving back to her house she’d call me and be like, “heyyy, miss you”. You’re just like, nah I don’t like that. It’s funny, “don’t act up around your lame-fall”, don’t talk crap about me with all your girls and how you’re so much better off without me, and then try and call me on your way home and say “I miss you” and all that stuff. It’s definitely one of my favourite lyrics from the song.
Talking about the lyrics, I noticed on Twitter that you’re getting fans involved with creating a lyric video for the song?
Yeah! I’ll tell you the truth, we made a lyric video ourselves and it looked fun and was great but I just wanted something special. I wanted to give fans the opportunity to really be a part of this process. They’re so important to me and my fans are so creative with the edits they make on Instagram, on Twitter and everything. I wanted to give them the opportunity to say, “I can be a part of it, I can be creative”. I’m looking back, and honestly my fans are so good, they’re making lyric videos so far which make me think, “why are they so much better than anything I could ever make?!” They continue to impress me, they’re the greatest fans in the world and I feel super lucky that I get to enjoy this process with them.
So we know there’s going to be a lyric video, but can we expect an official music video too?
I’m not gonna lie, we shot one! It’s ready to go, we’re just waiting for the right time.
What can we expect from it? Can you let us in on any secrets?
It’s a little bit more artsy. The ‘Work The Middle’ video was pretty much dancing, energetic, very linear, a very surface-level type video and song. Since ‘Question’ dives a little bit deeper conceptually with the song and the lyrics, we took the video just a little further. I’m not talking about an Emmy-award winning film, but it’s definitely got more of a storyline to it and a little more of an artsier take rather than just cool dancing shots.
We can’t wait to see both videos! You’ve also recently released a collaboration called ‘Hot2Touch’ with Felix Jaehn which we’re absolutely loving. How did the collaboration come about?
Man, first off Felix (and Hight) is such an amazing producer and DJ. I first heard the song and was sent it over a year ago. Felix’s team had asked if I could try putting a vocal on it so I put my vocal on and it sounded great but still missing a little something production-wise. For the last year, we’ve tried different versions of it, different vocals and lyric changes, then finally Hight jumped on the track as well and took it to the next level. He brought that flavour that we needed, the modern pop mixed with a classic French-house disco vibe as well. It’s been so much fun, and again, the fans have been loving the song and supporting it. It’s already hit over five million streams, they’ve been so great about it, about all of this new music, and I’m just so happy to get to be a part of that along with Felix and Hight.
It definitely shows a different side to you as well, the song is unlike anything you’ve previously released.
That’s the fun thing about doing songs with different producers and DJs is that they get to stretch you a little more, and stretch what you can do and the genres you sing. They let you figure out that you’re a little more capable than you think you are in those kinds of things.
So you’ve released a few solo tracks now, are there any more singles or even an album in the works?
Heck yeah! I have a couple more singles that we’re very, very excited to put out. I’ve been touring so much, doing Radio Disney, I’m now in Europe for the next couple of weeks, so I haven’t had too much time to think about putting an album together but we have so many new songs that we’ve written, recorded and put together. Hopefully we can figure something out and get an album out for the fans because they’ve been so hungry and great about sharing the original music. I just want to give them more!
You mentioned that you’ve spent a lot of the year so far on tour, you sold out a London headline show not so long ago. What’s been your tour highlight of the year so far?
Man, the whole Afterparty tour in Europe was such a big highlight for me. Not only was it the first time that I’d toured in Europe, but they were some of my first headline shows. For those European shows to sell out in minutes, and for it to be just my tour with all the fans coming to see me was so nice. It’s so gratifying and I’m so blessed to have been able to tour like that. I can’t wait to come back and tour again!
Do you feel there’s a different energy when you tour in Europe compared to the States?
Absolutely! When an artist comes from a different country, let alone a different continent, the fans don’t tend to take it for granted. In their mind, and it’s the same in my mind, who knows the next time I’ll get to come back? I need to live it up right now, whereas if I play a show six hours away from myself in Los Angeles, there’s a strong chance that I can go back, even if it’s just for travel or to pass through to do a little meet up. Every time I come to Europe, especially when I had the tour, the fans did not take a single moment for granted. They were so loud, dancing and singing. There was so much love in the room and I really felt it, it was so strong.
You’ll be back on tour later this summer with Sabrina Carpenter. What can we expect from that?
I’m excited for the Detour! Sabrina is so great, and New Hope Club, who are from out here (UK), are a great new boyband, I’m just so excited to be a part of that tour. My set is going to be a little bit shorter – but all of the same energy packed into a little bit shorter of a set. You’ll get more ‘banger after banger after banger’ as I have to keep that energy super high for the 30 minutes that I’ll be out there.
Do you have any tour rituals before you go on stage?
I always say a prayer right before I go up…if my team is around then we have a couple of secret handshakes that we do. Then it’s just show time, I get up there and have as much fun as I can!
What are your three must-have on the road items?
Vitamin C, whether it’s the emergency package or airborne, or even Vitamin C tablets to chew on or swallow. Lots of hand sanitizer, because I’m travelling so much and I’m getting to meet so many amazing people, and with many amazing people come many amazing germs. I always try and stay as healthy as I can as I want to be able to play the shows each night. My last item would probably be cough drops to keep my throat nice and open, soothed and ready to go.
What else do you have planned for 2017?
Ohhh man, a whole lot! We’re definitely going to be releasing a ton more music, music videos, covers on YouTube, touring, hopefully I can get some time to work on the album, more radio promo and overall, have a fun time! This is a very interesting time that we live in, I wanna spread as much positivity and love as I can. Whether it be through my music, YouTube videos, interviews or anything, I just want to spread as much positivity as I can.
Quick round – song title quiz based on Alex’s songs/covers
Who would you like to have ONE DANCE with?
I would like to have one dance with Zara Larsson!
Which frequently asked QUESTION do you hate answering in interviews?
Ooh..I don’t really know! I don’t mind answering any questions but I guess if someone tries to ask a question which is looking for a bad answer, to make me look bad, then I don’t like those questions.
If STARBOY is The Weeknd’s alter ego, who would yours be?
It would probably be Carlito and he would just have a little bit more of a zing.
Who in the music industry do you think is too HOT2TOUCH right now?
When it comes to making music, Kendrick and Drake are just on a different level. Their music is untouchable. When it comes to somebody who’s just a beautiful human, it’s between Selena (Gomez) and Zara Larsson. They’re both goddesses among men.
Thank you so much for your time Alex! I really enjoyed speaking to you again and look forward to hearing what else you get up to this year.
I appreciate it, until next time! Thank you.
‘Question’ is available now.
Are you loving Alex Aiono as much as we are? Let us know on Twitter @CelebMix
FEATURED IMAGE: CORY GEHR