Don’t let her contagious energy or easy-going charm fool you: ready-to-explode singers rarely come equipped with résumé’s as tight as Alexa Goddard’s. At 14 she was travelling across Europe recording early demos; by 18 she’d toured the United States, performing to thousands each night. By 22 she was one of the ten most subscribed musicians in the history of YouTube in the UK with over 40 million views under her belt who scored a Top 20 single on her own independent label and now, still only 24 but possessing a resume that bursts with evidence of talent, determination and an uncommon pop flair, Alexa Goddard is perfectly placed to become a household name.
No wonder there’s a twinkle in her eye as she prepares to take the world by storm. And while her backstory is persuasive, in 2014 Alexa’s music speaks for itself. She’s already recorded with bluechip producers such as Stargate (Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ne-Yo, Shakira), lending her sophisticated but uncompromisingly pop-influenced yet soulful vocals to songs penned by the likes of Ester Dean (Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Mary J Blige) and even Chris Brown. She’s already proved herself to some of the music industry’s biggest names, and now it’s time for the rest of the planet to meet this exciting new star.
Recorded in LA and New York during the summer of 2013, Goddard’s debut album showcases qualities that mirror her personality: it’s a smart, fun, sparky and refreshingly straightforward take on contemporary pop, with an uncommon clarity in its vision. Infectious, bass-heavy, banger ‘Marilyn’ is a fearsome, kick-the-door-down opening volley which, Alexa says, is about “wanting to stand-out from the crowd by celebrating being yourself – like Marilyn Monroe did”; ‘So There’ is breezier but no less addictive, and packs the sort of resistance-is-futile killer hook that could dominate international radio playlists for years to come. You’ve then got ‘Stay Pretty’, an uplifting pop anthem that describes the frustrations of the female plight to be expected to always look their best for their malecontemporaries. ‘Who Needs Perfect’, meanwhile, is a spacious, thundering track which Alexa says is about unreasonable expectations in relationships. “The songs says don’t get hung up on finding somebody that’s textbook perfect,” she explains. “If it feels great, or whatever you’re doing feels great, that’s perfect for you.”
Alexa might be standing on the precipice of colossal success, but the plaudits waiting around the corner are a far cry from her earliest experience of performance. Growing up with three older brothers she quickly found a way to make her voice heard. Whether belting out Whitney songs when she was three or winning a talent show during her first holiday age 8, Alexa found her voice through singing. “When I got on stage I remember a feeling of ‘I can do anything’,” Alexa recalls with a flash of her infectious smile. She found that the more she sang, the more initial nerves would evaporate.
Mum loved Tina Turner and Whitney, Dad was obsessed with Bob Marley and UB40, but the real keys to musical discovery (and the sense that she can more than hold her own in any situation) were Alexa’s three older brothers. The eldest was into dance music; garage, drum ‘n bass and house, the next lovedIndia.Arie and Erykah Badu, and the youngest favoured a mix of everything. Alexa herself added Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child, and a little bit of Spice Girls and even some hip-hop to the pot, and experienced her first lucky break when she was 14, at a talent contest at a seaside holiday camp. Having been coaxed onstage by her parents, she won the whole thing, and after finishing her winning performance she was offered representation from her first manager.
Their working relationship lasted three years, during which time Alexa would regularly fly over to Germany for recording sessions.“I was working on an album, but I was so young and so clueless,” Alexa remembers. “I didn’t know who I was as an artist at that point and I just kept recording songs.” After a couple of years she decided to take decisive action and they amicably parted ways, but the next chapter in Alexa’s story was already beginning.
It was 2008, social media was in its infancy and Alexa had set up a MySpace profile. This was to be the first time Alexa’s talents were noticed online and the finger of fate (or the fingers of multi-million-selling prog rock behemoths Trans-Siberian Orchestra) soon pointed in Alexa’s direction, when the record-breaking band invited her to audition for a forthcoming tour. Now 16, Alexa travelled to the New York audition by herself. “All I could think was: ‘Right, I’m going to get lost, I’m going to get abducted, something bad’s going to happen’,” Alexa laughs. In fact, something very good happened: she landed the job, and over the next couple of years, for three-month stretches, Alexa would immerse herself in the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.
Traveling up and down America’s East Coast, she lived on the tourbus, and as well as allowing her to hone her skills as a live vocalist, the experience provided a huge confidence boost. “It completely brought me out of my shell,” she says. “I didn’t go to university, and for me, that was my uni. That was my training. Even though I was surrounded by people, I still did my own thing – I had to learn to live by myself. I grew up.”
While some young stars are so immersed in work that they miss the bit of growing up that makes them functioning adults, Alexa’s on-off touring work meant she didn’t miss a thing about being a teenager. “The tour was only for 3 months of the year, so there were still big chunks of time where I could do what I wanted,” she smiles. When she was back home she’d go out or throw impromptu house parties, but after three years of fun she knew that she had to take the next step; she bade farewell to the tour, and went back home.
“I’d kind of come back to the beginning,” she recalls. “Even though I’d done all this stuff, I wanted to go back to basics and start writing songs and see where it got me.” After several years without management, one of her brother’s friends, a fledgling music manager, arranged for Alexa to have recording sessions with various producers. While she was recording demos, he suggested she shoot a quick video and whack it on YouTube. They got one of those old Flip cams and hit the YouTube upload button. After a matter of weeks, the views went supernova and her subscribers went through the roof, with one of her cover versions even hitting the Top 20 on the official UK charts.
At the end of 2012, amid a flurry of label interest, she signed with Jay-Z’s RocNation label and her feet have barely touched the ground since. In one particularly productive eight day period she recorded an entire album’s worth of songs at the world famous Roc-the-Mic studios in New York. “It just all came together,” she recalls. “I got to work with some of the best producers at a world famous studio. It all happened very naturally. It was amazing.”
As she edges closer to realising the dream she’s held for close to two decades, Alexa’s loving every minute. “My achievements so far have given me a little taste of what’s to come, and I’ve been very patient. I haven’t rushed anything. But believe me, I’m ready now.”
Her music is ample evidence, but meet Alexa in person and the star quality is undeniable. You’ll meet a girl from a small town in the suburbs of southern England who still has to pinch herself when she finds herself rubbing shoulders with music royalty at LA parties, but you’ll also immediately realise what it is about this extraordinary young talent that earned her the attention and respect of some of the music world’s biggest starmakers. Alexa is an artirst who has found her strength through music, and can’t wait to tell the world her story.