On a sunny Tuesday afternoon I met with Santa Barbara-based Indie Rock artist Alexandra Riorden. With a selection of new singles and her debut LP “Angel City Radio” releasing on June 25th, I’m eager to get into the details of her creative process leading to this project.
Prior to the singles “Dirty Mirror”, “The Barrier”, “Animals”, and her LP “Angel City Radio”, Alexandra Riorden released an EP in 2019, titled “Weridflower”. Alexandra tells me that the EP was her first experience recording a series of songs for cohesive project, and was ultimately a learning experience for her. Alexandra wrote a handful of songs, and formed a little band to make the record; “Weirdflower” is the product of them coming together. And while it was her first EP, Alexandra tells me that she still likes the songs. Shortly after the EP’s release, Alexandra took a departure from her typical sound, and began working on “Angel City Radio”. Alexandra explains that this project embraces more of a Rock and Roll vein, though she emphasizes “it’s still my voice”.
Through the creation of this LP, Alexandra tells me that she collaborated with college friend and member of The Haunts, Max Collier, in his apartment. Recording in this intimate setting allowed her lots of freedom in the songwriting process…”I knew what I wanted exactly, and I got to experiment in the comfort of his apartment”.
Compared to the more lighthearted look of “Weirdflower”, I notice a stark difference of aesthetic for “Angel City Radio”. The promotional artwork and album art features stark contrasts of blues and reds, complemented with a softness in the image. With her talk about creative expression with the music in “Angel City Radio” I ask Alexandra what inspired the look for her debut LP.
She had a very specific idea for the look of this LP, and tells me that she wanted the look to be very dark, gothic, theatrical–David Lynch is a name that comes up. Specifically, she envisioned a closed down theatre, hence many of the visuals using reds and crushed velvet. She’s also inspired by the idea of “the sacred fool”, with the use of white, black, red, and playing cards. Alexandra adds, “My message is being a multifaceted human”.
She emphasizes the importance of “Angel City Radio”, specifically how it helps her work through traumatic events of her past. “I process life very intensely, and I have to create..singing relaxes my nervous system”. Through her music, Alexandra Riorden observes life as well as appreciating what’s around her. “Everything inspires me…there are so many magical and beautiful things I’m processing lately”.
Especially with the sounds and aesthetics of “Angel City Radio”, Alexandra tells me that she gravitates towards haunting and dark music, and likes this sound, but she’s adding these new experiences to it which positively impact it. While art direction and sound are strong and consistent, Alexandra says “I wasn’t focused on the product…This is my experimentation and expression”.
Creatively, music has always been a source of expression and healing for Riorden. Alexandra tells me since a young age she’s always been involved in the arts, adding “my mom threw me into musical theatre to get my energy out”. Although Alexandra released her first EP in 2019, she tells me that she’s always been a poet.It wasn’t until she graduated college when she began to fully pursue her potential as a musician. Alexandra elaborates that during college she was creatively blocked, and it wasn’t until her post-grad travels where she began truly establishing her life as a musician. She describes writing songs off a crappy hostel guitar, and the authentic, DIY nature of her music really shines through.
I’m curious about figures that really inspire her, and before she delves in, Alexandra responds with: “these people are like my gods”…
She excitedly holds up a copy of Patty Smith’s book “Just Kids”, telling me “I feel like she’s my friend..I love how raw she is”. She also mentions David Bowie, as she admires the theatrics and full production that goes into his music. Alexandra loves the concept of makeup and a crazy set alongside handmade clothing. She describes how she wants to set design her performances and holds up a detailed jacket, exclaiming “I make clothes!”
Alexandra Riorden is an authentic DIY artist who loves to combine theatrical aesthetics alongside the complexities of human emotion. Ultimately, she strives to cover the multifaceted spectrum of being human as well as heal and grow through her songwriting. She adds, “You have to feel it to heal it…I have to verbalize my experiences”.
Alexandra encourages others to “let themselves feel everything”, and exclaims, “music is free therapy”. Closing, she gives aspiring artists a word of advice: “I don’t think people have to be perfect or experienced to express themselves. Be weird!”
Interview Written By: Alexa Terry