Q&A: Alex Aiono


February 1, 2018
El Rey Theatre // Los Angeles, CA

Congrats on releasing "Thinking About You," your new single! What was it like recording that? How do you think it's the same or different from your previous material?

AA: Thank you so much! Every time I drop a brand new song it feels like Christmas! I always want to be honest and talk about how I feel in my music. "Thinking About You" is about really missing someone and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, which is something new for me.

You've said in past interviews that you're inspired by 80s/90s music and old school R&B and hip-hop. Could you elaborate more on how that came about? Any specific artists that stand out to you in terms of influence?

AA: I think that because I was born in the 90’s, I naturally drifted that way. Growing up, my parents always played 80s and 90s R&B and soul music, and we'd always dance around the house listening to "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan! I love how recently Bruno Mars has tapped into that vibe and is bringing that sound back!

What was it like moving to Los Angeles at such a young age?

AA: When I moved to Los Angeles back when I was 14, I really was just a kid with a dream. It’s been a long but incredible road since. I have to give a big shout out to my family for being so supportive and sacrificing so much to 14-year-old me.

How has your sense of music or perspective on it changed since you first discovered it at an early age?

AA: I’m much more open to listening to more genres of music now. That, plus the experiences I’ve had so far, have really influenced my writing to dig deeper into what I’m feeling.

How was your first headlining tour? Has it been any different from previous tours you've been on?

AA: This tour was one of the most gratifying experiences for me in my career so far. Having the opportunity to go out to crowds every single night is so special. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved all the tours that I’ve been on before, but nothing will ever beat having your own shows sell out and having a whole crowd that’s there for you. That’s a whole different level!

What kind of music do you listen to on tour? Is there a specific artist or genre that gets you pumped up for shows?

AA: It’s funny that you ask that, because the music I listen to on tour is so much different from what I listen to back home. The shows every night are so hype that when I get on the bus afterwards I just wanna chill out. Lots of singer-songwriter, neo soul vocals and piano stuff.

Do you have any specific rituals or routines you have to do before going on stage?

AA: Nothing too mind blowing! I really like to relax and get my mind into the right place to go out and perform the best show possible. After my vocal exercises and prayer, I have a couple secret handshakes. Then it’s showtime!

What can fans expect from one of your shows?

AA: Energy. Energy, energy, energy! Seriously, every single night that we go out on stage I feel like it’s a battle between me and the crowd to see who can give more energy to the show!

Even though you've performed live before, YouTube is your main outlet for music. How is it different when you can record over and over again, versus performing live?

AA: When you’re singing live you don’t get to stop, and I actually love that challenge. You don’t get to say, "Let’s do it 10 times and choose the best take." You only have one shot, and that makes it special. I think that’s why the fans keep coming out to the shows!

Have you been playing any new material? If so, how has the reaction been?

AA: I definitely have some unreleased songs in my set list. And based on the reaction I’ve gotten, I want to release them so bad!

Since your fan base started off YouTube, how has it been meeting them in person during VIP?

AA: Oh man, that’s a whole different feeling! It’s surreal that I get to go out and meet the fans every single night who have watched my videos, and getting to hear what their favorite moments of the journey have been so far. The fans make all the hard work worth it!

Which shows stood out the most to you?

AA: Seriously every show on the Feels Like Tour was incredible. Each night went hard, and every single fan that came to the show gave me their everything. That means the world to me.

Have you been doing some sight seeing?

AA: I’ve been working a ton recently, so every opportunity that I have off I try to catch some sleep! A lot of the only sight seeing I’ve done recently is the back of my eyelids, haha!

How are you feeling about traveling to Australia  and New Zealand?

AA: If you know me, you know that I love traveling more than anything. So getting to go out Australia and New Zealand and the Philippines has been so much fun! Plus New Zealand has a very special place in my heart, because that is where my dad is from and where my culture is from, so it’s always great to go back!

Follow Alex: Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

Photos by Myrah Sarwar.
Interview by Caitlin Ison.

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