Interview – Alex The Astronaut

Alex The Astronaut © Jess Gleeson

Alex the Astronaut on her New Album, Love Songs and the Australian Scene

By Isobel Mcleod

Alex the Astronaut a.k.a Alex Lynn, has only been around for a few years but in that short time she’s made a major name for herself, with her brutally honest songwriting and track ‘Not Worth Hiding’ which became the anthem for Australia’s marriage equality protests. Her debut album, ‘The Theory of Absolutely Nothing’ is an incredibly personal offering, bearing her thoughts and emotions on all aspects of life. Alongside witty lyrics, the album combines folky guitars and strings, making for a charming listen. I was lucky enough to chat to Alex just before the album was released, have a listen to the album while you read.

What does this new album mean to you?

  • I think it is a group of 10 different stories, some related to me, some related to other people. The ones related to me, they’re like looking back through a photo album, and then the ones that aren’t related to me, I put a lot of work into, I feel really proud of them.

Do you have a favourite song off the album?

  • I think ‘I like to dance’. I think that song was the one I put the most effort into.

It’s incredibly moving, a really wonderful song. What made you write that track?

  • I was at a BBQ with a magistrate judge and he told me that week he’d had a domestic violence case, and that a woman got up and tried to explain why her partner was such a good guy and then in the middle of the sentence just broke down and said ‘I wish he’d just stop hitting me’. He told me about that and it just really hit, he said if you want to learn more, I can introduce you to some people who work in domestic violence and you can ask a lot of questions, so I did that. I kinda constructed this story from the questions I asked them.

I can imagine the song will speak to so many people who have gone through domestic violence, it’s really brilliant.

  • Yeah, I hope so.

There are a lot of videos to go alongside the new album, what do you like about the video format?

  • Most of the videos are directed and written by other people, so I get a treatment and if I like it then we make that video. I think I’ve just been lucky enough to work with people who are so clever and talented.

The video for ‘Happy Song’ includes a cartoon like cat and mouse chase, where did that idea come from?

  • That came from a treatment of an idea. I was coming to London to record and play, I think for Great Escape, and I was in London for a few days and we had like half a day to film a music video. Yeah, it was kind of a mad scramble! We were trying to find mouse costumes that fit and all those kinds of things. It was co-directed by Johnny Marchetta and Bjorn Franklin, who are English people! But yeah, it was really fun, we ran around Richmond or somewhere like that. We ran around a park, I was dressed as a mouse, so kids were like staring at me and stuff.

There’s a lot of songs about love on your album, are there more songs about platonic love or romantic love?

  • Statistically it’s probably like 8 to 2, generally I used to not like writing about romantic love, but now I guess they’re more of a thing. I like the songs about friends they’re really special to be able to send to your friends.

Do you have a favourite love song?

  • I don’t! But I do like Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. That’s a good song.

What influences have you had for this album?

  • I don’t really know, there were lots of different references! A song like ‘I Think You’re Great’ had Blink-182 as a reference, whereas like ‘Happy Song’ had Piano Man by Billy Joel, but then just like a whole mix. Like Phoebe Bridgers for ‘I Didn’t Know’. It was a whole mix. I guess what anyone does I just listened to a bunch of stuff all the time and I guess it seeps in, by osmosis or something.

What music did you listen to when you were a teenager?

  • I listened to a lot of Paul Kelly, and I remember playing a lot of Taylor Swift songs. I also had a lot of books. I had books and books of printed out chord sheets, and I had like so many songs I can’t even remember. I used to play the Jack Johnson ‘Better Together’ album a lot because that was the album I learnt first. Also, an Australian singer-songwriter called Missy Higgins, I played her a lot. I really liked Frank Ocean when I was finishing high school, that was one of my favourites.
Alex The Astronaut © Jess Gleeson

How do you find the Australian music scene? I don’t know too much about it!

  • I like it, I think it’s great! I think it’s very supportive, because it’s quite small. All of us see each other at festivals, especially when we have come overseas before. It’s really nice to see all the other Australian acts. Everyone’s very involved in social justice reform, and everyone really sticks up for each other and tries to help each other. Yeah, so I really think it’s a cool place to be!

What’s your favourite festival that you’ve played?

  • My favourite one would probably be Splendour in the Grass, which is a big Australian festival. Internationally, my favourite would probably be Primavera, like 3 years ago which was really really cool, that was one of my like favourite music experiences.

I can imagine, I’m desperate to go it looks incredible.

  • Yeah it’s really cool, very different to Australian festivals, they don’t trust us to behave ourselves so they treat everyone like kids. There was like people drinking wine out of glasses at primavera!

I wonder if that’s Spanish festivals as a whole, it was like that when I went to one in Bilbao.

  • Oh and I’d really like to go to Glastonbury festival, and I’d really like to play obviously. I know Stella (Donnelly) has played there and she said it was really fun.

Buy and Listen to ‘The Theory of Absolutely Nothing’ here.

Have a read of my review of the album here.