If you haven't heard of Alexa Wilding yet, you will soon. The New York-based singer-songwriter (who shares a stage name with the muse of Italian painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti) was called "one of music's hippest chicks" by NY Post, released a critically-acclaimed self-titled EP in 2009, toured with Au Revoir Simone, and will debut her own dreamy full-length album soon. Photographer Bek Andersen visited Alexa Wilding at her home, which, it turns out, is exactly the kind of magical abode you'd expect the smart, stylish songstress to inhabit. Bek photographed Alexa surrounded by the stuff she loves, and the two talked about Alexa's impressive bookshelf, fashion influences, and her spooky new single, "Knife."
Bek: The first thing you showed me after we ate figs and cheese and drank tea was your vintage copy of BUST. Amazing!!! It’s so cute. Do you remember when you got it/ learned about the mag?
Alexa: Yes! I was twelve and I bought a copy at the old Kim's Video on Bleeker Street. Growing up in Greenwich Village, I used to zip over there and see what the cool older girls were reading and then copy them! I was super hungry for information about everything and BUST was where I learned about music. So of course it is delightful to now be interviewed, yay!
Bek: What’s your musical background? How did you come to where you are?
Alexa: Well, I was a dancer as a kid, so music was always a part of my life. When I quit ballet I felt lost , and then I picked up a guitar. I started playing my songs around town as soon as I graduated college, and that's when I was asked to moonlight with the band Int'l Shades, with Bob Bert [ex-Sonic-Youth/Pussy Galore], Live Skull's Mark C, and Tim Foljahn (Cat Power, Two Dollar Guitar). I was the folkie chic playing with all these art-rock dudes and I learned so much those two years.
Bek: You guys opened for Mudhoney!
Alexa: Oh yes! I was totally girl in dude land. I think it was a surprise to the guys that I was just as much a Mudhoney fan as they were! But I've always been that way, split down the middle, loving quiet, dark ballads as much as abrasive rock and roll. Don't let the little dresses fool you!
Bek: You kind of found your way playing music with dudes….who are your female influences?
Alexa: I am deep in 70s singer-songwriter land and probably always will be! Besides the obvious stuff - Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Sandy Denny - I love the darker worlds of Nico's solo albums, Brigitte Fontaine, and of course Stevie Nicks. Their music never gets old. I am lucky to love the music of my girl friends: Denmark's CALLmeKAT, Au Revoir Simone - check out Erika's solo EP, such an inspiration and totally Fleetwood Mac meets something modern. Love my pals.
Bek: From being the girl in boy land, you ended up touring with Au Revoir Simone. How did you ladies meet?
Alexa: We were introduced by a now-mutual friend, Paola Suhonen, the designer behind Finnish fashion label IVANAhelsinki, who I make music videos with. She was breaking into making films and cast us to wear summer dresses in the dead of winter. So we met, freezing, in Central Park by the carousel, and it was love at first sight for me. You just know when you meet sisters. I was very lucky when they brought me on tour, as it was my first one and I had no idea what to expect. I learned that I was made for it, and I have their generosity to thank.
Bek: Your book shelves are full of vintage and modern classics. You obviously love to read. What are your fave books?
Alexa: I am bit of a maniac with my books. I mostly collect memoirs by female artists both obscure and famous. Everything from the life of Cleopatra to the journals of the girlfriends of famous male artists, now those are interesting! I guess I'm still very much the girl at Kim's Video trying to figure out the best way to live life, so I like to read about how others did it. I also love vintage murder mysteries! And I collect books on plants and alchemy, as I'm a bit of a closet potion maker...watch out, I might insist you try my homemade facial mist! I used to have thirty five plants, but obviously I made some mistakes. That's how you learn! One day I hope to get my Green Witch certificate. I know it sounds insane, but the Wise Woman Way is the way to go.
Bek: Tell me how you ended up on Page Six.
Alexa: Hahaha. I was at a dinner and the man to my left and I hit if off - in a platonic manner of course! - and he asked me if I would jump out of his birthday cake the next week. I thought he was kidding! Long story short, I said if I'm jumping out a birthday cake, I'm going to make this good! So I teamed up with a designer friend and we made me a Josephine Baker-meets-ballerina corset number, and next thing I know, I'm popping out a cake and the cameras are flashing and it turns out it was kind of a big deal. Quite the New York society adventure for a scruffy ballerina from Greenwich Village! I am forever grateful to that cake.
Bek: Who are your fashion Icons?
Alexa: Characters I would see growing up in New York, and you would always know it was them because they had their signature look. Greta Garbo, even as an old lady, in her trench and sunglasses. Patti Smith, Isabella Rosselini, would always run into them. I take finding your own voice in your clothes very seriously. Anna Karina, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shiva Rose...No matter how much I try to change, I've been dressing the same, with tweaks, since I was flipping through BUST at Kim's Video! Floral baby doll dresses, long hair and boots and a big black coat. Done.
Bek: All of the clothes we are shooting today come from the same designer. Tell me about her and how you met.
Alexa: I was deep in the Cleopatra book, and decided I wanted some tunic style dresses, and I happened upon Mina Stone-- a beautiful designer and an incredible cook! I saw her pieces online and worked up the guts to introduce myself via email. I was so nervous. We're good friends now and I love that her pieces just worked with the mood of my upcoming album, Coral Dust, Flowy, ancient and modern. I love to work with friends. Arianna Bohling designed these Cleopatra like sandals, and Randi Mates of Aesa designed the jewelry. She also made my wedding ring. Working with your friends, your worlds combine and you create a new mythology together. That's what life is all about for me.
Bek: Your single Knife came out last week- it reminds me of the Nick Cave Murder Ballads. Is he an influence?
Alexa: I love dark love songs and Appalachian murder ballads, so of course Nick Cave is just the best. Besides the ladies, I am nuts for my men: Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Bill Callahan, my friend Tim Foljahn...the darker the better. In my music I am able to explore parts of myself in a safe way. I can go on adventures, do all sorts of things I would never think of in real life. "Knife" is a murder song. The only thing I kill in real life is a plant every once in a while, by accident!
Bek: Speaking of murder, tell us about this video!
Alexa: My friend Paola [of IVANA helsinki] and I teamed up again, and we made a little murder video for Halloween! I had been thinking about that 70s film Don't Look Back, with the girl in the little red raincoat, and we spent weeks trying to find one. Finally I found this red trench on Etsy and begged the seller to send it to me over night. The next day we staged a murder. You tell me what happened!