feature photo by Lauren Zbarsky
By Juliana Bergstrom
Alexis Young has found her sweet spot in the world. By day, she’s a graphic designer for Vancouver’s iconic yoga brand, lululemon. By night, she’s the fiercely talented frontwoman for her band, Youngblood.
We caught up with Young to chat self-reliance, making dreams a reality and Youngblood’s bright (and busy!) future.
Loose Lips: So you have your own band and support yourself by working as a graphic designer. Did you always want to pursue both?
Alexis Young: Yeah, I definitely always wanted to do something artistic and visual. Growing up, I did a lot of performing. Music, acting and arts; drawing and writing — those were the things that occupied my time so it seemed like a no-brainer to keep doing them.
When I was about to graduate from high school, you know, you’re at that point where you’re like, now I get to decide my life. I had that mentality of wanting to make sure I could support myself and my dad is very much of the disposition of like, you know, make sure you have a skill and can afford to look after yourself. Be self-sufficient.
I wanted to translate my love of art into something that would make me money, which is why I went to university for design. The whole time I was in school I was also in a band and going on tour. It was funny, there were a lot of tours that I had to bring my computer to do homework on the plane and send in my assignments to my teachers from NYC, super hung-over. It was really… Those were wild time (laughs).
Music keeps me sane and design is my skill.
LL: Do you do a lot of your own artwork for your albums?
LL: Do you like it?
AY: No! I kind of hate it, actually. I do it because it’s cheap! (laughs) What I do love about it is that I have a specific vision in my head and I can fully execute it, there are no communication barriers. So, in that sense, I love it. I’m just so critical of my own work.
LL: So you started Youngblood in 2015, how did it come about?
AY: It wasn’t until a couple years into playing with my former band, Sex with Strangers, that I realized I really wanted to take it seriously. I felt this go-go-go mentality that wasn’t necessarily reciprocated in the band. At that point I knew that I had to start my own project and do it on my own terms.
LL: Cool. So, I know your music idols are Grace Jones and Aire, but who’s life would you like to model yours after?
AY: Hmm. There’s a lot of romanticism in the life of a tortured writer, like Ernest Hemingway. Living in your little cabin by the sea, waking up, having breakfast, maybe a drink and a cigarette, going for a walk, then making dinner and staying up ’til two in the morning writing. I feel like that kind of lifestyle (maybe a slightly healthier version) is pretty ideal. Just like, being able to dedicate yourself completely to the craft and immersing yourself in it and letting it take control of you. That would be really awesome.
Another figure that I would like to model my life after… would still be Grace Jones. She moved to NYC from Jamaica and immediately started doing whatever she wanted. Going on motorcycle trips with her bf, day-long acid trips… she became a model, moved to Paris, met tons of people and then she was just like, “I’m doing music.” She’s just crafted her life on her own terms and has had the sickest life — she gets to do whatever she wants because she doesn’t take no for an answer.
LL: Tell me about your EP launch.
AY: It’s Thursday, Sept. 22 at the Fox Cabaret, which is probably one of my favourite venues in the city. We’re playing with The Response (from NZ), my friends Rococode, and Christa Belle is DJing.
This EP is a thing I’ve been working on for a really long time and I’m so excited to finally have it come out. I’m really proud of it and I’m also really excited to move on and start writing new stuff. I’m excited to go down to LA and push myself a bit, get out of my comfort zone and see how that iconic place influences my writing. (More info about the launch party and tickets here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/youngblood-ep-release-party-tickets-27312698015 )
LL: You’re going to LA for two months, is the goal to write a full album?
AY: My goal is to write 100 songs and then pick like, the best 10. It’s mainly to get into the habit of writing everyday. I remember hearing this quote, “show up, show up, show up and then one day the muse will show up, too.” You know, not waiting until you’re hit with inspiration and writing a new song only when something happens but just writing all the time. You just get better the more you do anything. So, I’m looking forward to getting better.
LL: Is this your first time where you’ve had nothing to concentrate on but writing and music?
AY: Yeah! It’s my first time to fully commit myself 100 per cent to writing without having to worry about anything else. I’m really excited and a little nervous… but mostly excited.
LL: So you have a tour coming up, tell me about that.
AY: The tour is western Canada. We’re going out to Regina for The Break Out West Festival, playing in the prairies, then Alberta… It’s going to be non-stop.
Check out Youngblood’s dreamy, upbeat tracks “Feel Allright” and “Easy Nothing” available on iTunes. The band’s five-track EP is released Sept. 23. Find out more about Alexis and Youngblood at youryoungblood.com
Juliana loves most Vancouver clichés — such as yoga, hiking and drinking tea with elaborate names — but what you wouldn’t guess about her is that she danced her way through 32 countries, is a die-hard No Doubt fan and cries when she is really excited and/or happy. Oh, and she loves a dry sauvignon blanc.