Many artists don’t survive scandals, so to say. Even fewer make it through disagreements with their label. And even fewer can say they appreciate those things happening so they can make their best music yet. Come to think of it, only one name truly comes to mind, Alex Winston.
From Detroit, Michigan, Winston was signed to Island Records in 2011. Although being signed is the ambiguous end to many a musical fairy tales, it was more so the beginning to an ongoing nightmare for Winston. Her debut album, King Con, released in 2012 to an incredible fumble. Rather than being the indie pop album of the year, or even gaining much notoriety, King Con was mismanaged, mis-marketed, and missed everything music related.
After a few fiscal successes, such as tracks being used in various advertisements, Winston signed on to 300 Entertainment in 2014 to release The Day I Died EP. Now, this EP was different from Winston’s usual style, it was as the executives directed, an alternative pop hit for radio play. Which is probably why The Day I Died also fell flat on the charts.
Rather than seeking out any more labels, Winston began some independent projects and her fans couldn’t be happier. Neither could Winston, stating that, “I’ve had a tumultuous career, but I’m not sure that I’d change all that much about it. I have the most patient, understanding and loyal fans – I don’t know what I did to deserve them. I think I’ve finally ended up where I’m supposed to be and I think my new music reflect that.”
Although this is the first chance Winston has had in some time to truly make her own music, the process for her, hasn’t changed. Winston says that, “[she] always starts a song with instrumentation. I have to feel inspired by a beat or a chord progression. A lot of people can just bust out melodies or lyrics and build a song that way, but I’ve never been able to do that. Sometimes I’ll have a lyrical concept that will set the tone for the music, but generally it always starts with recording drums, piano etc.”
Probably a method that comes from her musical childhood. Winston says that, “Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started playing guitar at 7 years old and studied opera at 10. Writing my own music came a little later. When I was in the 10th grade I recorded some original songs and sold my CDs out of the trunk of my best friends car.”
One can only wonder if the excitement of that period feels similar to the creative process Winston has now as a self-sufficient musician, rewriting the fairytale of musicians around the world. The end is no longer signing a contract and becoming a star, but making music the artist and audience love. “My idea of success has shifted a lot over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever necessarily had the drive or desire to be a “pop star” which is what a lot of people wanted from me in the early days. I know that I love to perform and I love to create. So for me, being able to do those two things while simultaneously not being homeless sounds good to me,” Winston says.
Lucky for us, Winston’s success seems to be a reality. She has confirmed the releasing of numerous songs in the coming months and a live event in Los Angeles on February 25th. Go to the Checker Hall to catch Winston live, you may even hear her new single “Tourist.”