Reach Audiences with Your Music – Alexx Calise

Singer Songwriter Guitarist Alexx Calise
This singer, writer, composer and industry pro takes us behind the scenes with industry and singing insights.

Alexx Calise is a singer-guitarist-songwriter whose music has been featured on film and TV – including “Cry” on the show Dance Moms. 

Like many singers today, her career has many dimensions: host and brand ambassador for Guitar World, interviewing top music gear manufacturers, major artists, and reviewing great music products. Alexx has appeared in a variety of commercials, TV shows and films as a musician (Guitar Center, Nissan, Disney, etc).  Now she shares insights and tips with Singdaptive. 

A favorite quote?

Is it narcissistic if it’s a personal quote (haha)? One I say/use all the time is “our scars are our art.” I’ve used that in a song I wrote as well. Our scars aren’t meant to be hidden and they’re nothing to be ashamed of. They’re what make us beautiful, special and unique. 

Critical steps you took to reach larger audiences with your music?

A big one was signing up for different music licensing agencies. Without doing that, I wouldn’t have gotten a lot of the big placements that put me in front of those large audiences. I spent years tirelessly promoting my material on social media, playing shows, and getting reviews/interviews, but nothing worked quite as well as having my music played on national TV shows or in movies. All of those other things are all hugely important for different reasons, but I’ve always had the most success (personally) with licensing music.

Key turning points in developing your own unique vocal work? 

I had a bit of an epiphany a few years ago when I discovered a few things that drastically helped with my pitch and range. It may seem very simple, but really opening your mouth (or smiling) when you’re singing not only improves annunciation, but it helps substantially with pitch. Along with proper breathing technique, I’ve found you can almost always hit the note you want to so long as you go in with confidence (don’t be afraid of the note—you won’t hit it if you think you can’t) and keep your mouth as open as possible.  

An object that inspires you in your musical work.

My guitar. I usually can’t help but write whenever I pick one up. Even if my intention is just to run scales or practice my existing material, I’ll always end up writing a song on it because it just speaks to me.

Key insights on vocal health and technique?

Get plenty of sleep, keep your cardio game strong (without this I would pass out from exhaustion onstage), practice consistently (your voice is a muscle like anything else and it needs to be exercised/cared for), and warm up before the gig. My bandmate and I actually like to practice our set the day of so we’re warm for the night of the show. It works!

Alexx Calise tracking guitars for the Batfarm EP at Ultimate Studios in Panorama City, CA. Photo by Dennis Morehouse.

A vocal artist who inspires you? 

There are a ton, but I’ve really come to appreciate Daryl Hall a lot over the years. The guy just smokes. If you ever watch “Daryl’s House,” he always just ends up annihilating whichever guest he brings on, no matter how good of a vocalist they are because he’s just that good. He has perfect relative pitch, he sings with so much soul, and his meter is just…stupidly good. He has a way of playing around with and manipulating time all while still staying in time. Such an underrated vocalist. Also, let’s not forget Oates either. He’s a great vocalist (and guitarist) in his own right (haha)!

What was your first performance?

My first singing performance was in the 6th grade at a talent show, and I sang “I Believe in You and Me” from Whitney Houston. I think I shocked everyone there because they didn’t know I could sing (I was the introverted writer kid). From there, I got the bug and haven’t stopped since.

What did you learn from that performance?

I learned that I wanted to be a performer as much as I wanted to be a writer. Being a songwriter is a great marriage of the two, and I’ve found that nothing else makes me quite as happy or fulfilled. Only when I’m performing consistently do I feel content and at peace.

What’s a lesson with tech that’s helped you make or share your music?

I’ve learned over time that the best way for me to execute anything—be it making music, working out, creating content, etc—is to make it as simple as possible and always accessible. For example, having a permanent setup for recording music, a home gym with equipment, and a ring light assembled and ready to go for recording content is the only way I will do it. Know yourself and make your space as inspiring as possible so you can create comfortably. It’s easy to get lazy when you know that it’s going to be a pain or a process to do something.

What’s your relationship with social media – what works for you?

I fall in and out of love with it all the time, which may not be the best thing because it’s all about consistency with social media. It’s just very difficult to come up with content all the time and then also pursue your art/hone your craft. I really admire people who integrate the two well and stick to a schedule. What works for me is posting fun and silly content, because that’s who I really am, and I think that’s what people like to see anyway. Everything is so serious these days. We should all be having a little more fun.

Any social media “fails” or “successes”?

I’d say my greatest social media “success” has probably been the music video for “Cry” on YouTube in that it has the most views and engagement, and people are still enjoying the video to this day. As far as fails, I’ve definitely had my share of “duds” or things that didn’t work at least according to analytics. It’s really hard to predict what is going to work and what isn’t because social media is ever-changing and so fast-paced. I’d say nothing is ever really a true “fail,” because you learn something every time you post. Sometimes mistakes can be extremely valuable. 

What are you currently working on in terms of your voice/music-career?

Right now, my band Batfarm and I are playing live as much as possible. With the pandemic, we weren’t able to play live at a traditional venue, so we’re trying to make up for lost time ;) We’re about to roll out a radio campaign for our EP soon, and we’ll also be filming a new music video in the next few weeks. In terms of voice, I’m always looking to improve, and I find that experience is really the best teacher. I’m sure with this next run of shows, that I’ll be even better than before 

One video of your music that was particularly hard to complete?

One of the most involved videos that we’ve done is the one for my band Batfarm’s song, “Snake.” That was filmed, lighted and directed by my bandmate Dennis Morehouse and I, I edited it and my fiancé, Ken Gust colorized it. It was very rewarding in that we did everything ourselves, but it was difficult to wear all those different hats. 

What was challenging about this project?

The hardest part I’d say was when I was editing, and I had to come up with a story of sorts for the footage. We definitely had a concept for the video, but putting it together in editing is a whole different ball of wax. At the end of the day, I’m very pleased with/proud of the video and I’m so grateful for all the things we learned during the shoot, but I also learned that it’s good to dole out some responsibilities to other people too so not to get too overwhelmed. It’s also nice to have another set of eyes on your project so you can get some different insights and perspectives.

What are some of your career dreams/goals?

I would love to tour the world and make the majority of my money from my music. I’ve done little mini tours here and there, but I’ve never been able to really tour the way I want to due to lack of budget. I’d also love to produce and/or write music for other major artists. 

See Alex Calise: Website | Batfarm | YouTube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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