Calgary-based singer-songwriter Alex Hughes released her latest single, “Gentleman” earlier this month, and we can’t get enough.
I had an opportunity to catch up with Alex and learn a little more about her Canadian roots and her career as a musician. We also talked about her influences growing up, some of her favourite tracks right now, and being an absolute foodie!
Before we get to the interview, be sure to listen to Alex’s single “Gentleman”.
Listen To “Gentleman” By Alex Hughes
Interview With Canadian Country Artist Alex Hughes
Jenna: Let’s start by giving you an opportunity to introduce yourself to everyone at Front Porch. Tell us a little about your roots and how you got into music.
Alex Hughes: Thank you so much for having me on the Front Porch, it’s so nice to virtually meet you all!
I’m Alex Hughes from Calgary, AB. I’ve been performing since I was 7 years old and pursuing my lifelong dream of a career in music ever since.
I grew up in a large multicultural family surrounded by music and dancing and fell in love with performing as soon as I was thrown on stage at our family BBQ’s. Since those early days I’ve had some great moments.
I was a top 100 gold ticket holder in Canadian Idol; toured my first CD on the Alberta Rodeo scene giving away over 50,000 copies through various promotions with The Alberta Dodge Dealers; I moved to Los Angeles in my 20’s and worked with Grammy award winning Producer, Walter Afanasieff (All I Want for Christmas Is You, My Heart Will Go On, every Disney song … like ever), where I learned all about recording vocals and had some opportunities to perform at Hollywood parties and at the House of Blues on Sunset.
That’s just a short highlight reel and I’ve definitely had my share of downs but I’ve continued to try and use my experiences to influence my sound and I feel like I’m settling into the music I want to release and the artist I want to be.
Jenna: Your single, “Gentleman” is out, how would you describe the sound of this song?
Alex Hughes: “Gentleman” is a girl-power anthem influenced by 90’s female country, with a modern spin. It’s pure Pop-Country with nods to my influences in both traditional country in the way my voice sounds and my love of pop-production. It’s a fun summer song meant to be taken light heartedly.
Jenna: How do you connect with “Gentleman”? What was the process behind connecting the song with how you want to be viewed as an artist?
Alex Hughes: Most of us ladies have experienced the guy I’m describing in this song. He’s too big for his boots, and God’s gift to women.
“Gentleman” calls out those guys and lets them know that we see them for who they truly are. This song may be directed at the typical guy at the bar but it really can apply to anyone who thinks they’re a big shot.
For me, being a “Gentleman” is all about being respectful and chivalrous. As a female Country artist, I want to be viewed as someone who doesn’t take any nonsense and as a relatively shy person this is easier for me to translate through music.
This is also a time where I think we could use a little more light hearted fun and I’m thrilled to be releasing a sassy summer song!
Jenna: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue your career as a musician?
Alex Hughes: It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment because I started performing from a really young age but I think I would’ve made the official decision to pursue music sometime after high school.
All my friends were going to University and I always felt like my path was different – it was supposed to be in music. I worked my butt off and got a sponsorship deal with the Alberta Dodge Dealers which let me begin recording and touring.
I think that’s when my “career” really started.
Jenna: Growing up, who were your biggest influences? How have they shaped your sound and creativity as an artist?
Alex Hughes: My parents were younger when they had my sister and I so they listened to mostly top 40 and hip hop which is why I always try and squeeze a TLC or Snoop Dogg cover into my sets.
I was raised on shuffle – a little bit of everything.
I got into Country at around 8 years old when I discovered LeAnn Rimes and always admired the nod to the world of old country music in her sound and songs. LeAnn opened up my world and I soon became obsessed with artists like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but I think some of the best music came from that time of classic country.
There really isn’t a style of music that I don’t like and I try to incorporate the unique influences that I’ve had to mark my take on Pop- Country. It’s an authentic expression of my influences combined with my style and sound.
Jenna: You’ve got to perform alongside some amazing names in Canadian country, like Brett Kissel and George Canyon. What have you learned about yourself as an artist through the exposure to these great performers?
Alex Hughes: It’s been an honour and a privilege to get to open for some amazing Canadian artists. Artists like George Canyon, Brett Kissel, Aaron Pritchett and Paul Brandt are showing Canadian Country to the world and paving a path for new artists like me.
It’s such a great learning experience seeing how artists like that interact with the crowd and how they continue to be creative and push the boundaries of their music.
Jenna: When can we look forward to your first EP?
Alex Hughes: I’m aiming for an EP by the end of 2021.
I actually released a self-titled EP in 2013 which was all original music that I wrote in my late teens. I love that EP because it’s such an honest expression of that time, but I think I would consider my next EP as my first EP only because I finally feel like I’m close to being the artist I’m meant to be.
I have so many songs I’m excited to share so it’s more a matter of narrowing down the music, recording and putting together a cohesive body of work. I might spend a little more time releasing singles (probably 2 more in 2020!) as I settle into my sound and style.
Jenna: Tell us something about you that many people don’t know!
Alex Hughes: I’m a full-on foodie and I love to cook.
I think that cooking can be similar to music in that you’re creating something unique and an expression of you that you get to share with others.
Jenna: Who are you listening to right now? What top tracks are you listening to?
Alex Hughes: Morgan Wallen – I’m obsessed. My favourite track right now is “Chasin’ You”.
The pure Pop music lover in me is really digging K-Pop girl group, BLACKPINK, and I’ve had “How You Like That” playing on repeat.
My go to album to listen to when I need inspiration is Eva Cassidy, “Songbird” her voice is effortless and her music and style have been a major influence on me.
Jenna: Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
Alex Hughes: It’s something I don’t talk about nearly as often as I should but I want to share just how passionate I am about writing and collaborating with other artists and bringing together community, especially at this time.
I recently worked with some amazing Canadian artists in a collaboration called The Blue Jay Sessions. We just released a cover of Joni Mitchell’s, “Both Sides Now” and I think it’s absolutely beautiful.
I also just want to say thank you again for taking an interest in up and coming Canadian artists!
Outlets like Front Porch Music are so important and meeting on the Front Porch, either virtually or physically (social distancing!) are essential right now!
Jenna: We had such a great time getting to know more about Alex Hughes and we’re looking forward to what 2021 has in store for her!