“I would really appreciate it if people would listen to my album enough to make me famous enough to play in the NBA All-Star Game,” says Alexander 23 of his debut LP, Aftershock. “That would be great.”
He might not be on the short list for the game just yet, but anyone who thinks they don’t know Alexander 23 is probably wrong. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and deft producer is a multi-instrumental talent who has worked with Selena Gomez, Olivia Rodrigo, and John Mayer, along with bedroom-pop cohorts like Chelsea Cutler and Jeremy Zucker. His collaborative work has been shared alongside solo endeavors: two EPs and enough singles to fill out an album all their own.
With a resume already so stacked, it’s a bit surprising to realize that his new album, Aftershock (available today, July 15th), is his official full-length debut. Alexander joined Consequence over the phone to break down how he feels on the cusp of the release.
The album spans 11 tracks, four of which were released as singles in advance of the full project. Alexander 23 cares so much about his music, from both a sonic and lyrical perspective, and shares that he found it liberating to assemble songs for a full-length project rather than have to just focus on another single.
“A big focus for me for this album was trying to discern crazy from good,” he shares. He explains that he’s the kind of writer who often finds himself evaluating his own music on a metric of how “impressive” or complicated it is, and challenged himself in the assembly of Aftershock to unpack that self-imposed expectation. Instead, he gave himself the time and space to experiment, and then to peel apart and shape the record how he saw fit.
This includes “Fall 2017, (What If)” which feels like if some imaginary 21st-century version of The Beatles recorded a song for John Mayer’s The Search for Everything (“That’s the nicest thing you could ever say to me,” Alexander replies), alongside upbeat, concert-ready offerings like “Cosplay.”
When it comes to modern singer-songwriters, there’s a tendency to leave plenty of work on the cutting room floor, but Alexander explains that this wasn’t really the case when preparing for this LP. “A lot of songwriters are really good at ‘writing for sport,’ but that’s never been a huge strength of mine,” he explains. “I’m so focused on lyrics in particular, but I don’t necessarily have an unlimited well of lyric ideas.”