Meet Alexander Stewart, the Canadian singer-songwriter who needs to be on your radar.
Born in Toronto and now LA-based, the artist has pretty much been surrounded by music all his life, but it really kicked off when he started a YouTube channel as a teenager. After his covers of hit songs such as Camila Cabello’s “Havana” gained major attention, he decided to take music as a career seriously and ultimately started recording his own material – flying back and forth from Toronto to LA. Fast forward, and Stewart has accumulated a dedicated, ever-growing fanbase, and his previous singles have instantly amassed millions of streams.
His brand new single, “Blame’s On Me,” is currently sitting on 22.5M streams on Spotify alone, but the release is only the beginning of what is due to be an eventful year for the artist. In a conversation with EUPHORIA., Stewart opened up about the challenges around writing “Blame’s On Me,” his creative process, and his love for TikTok.
Let’s get straight to it – you’ve recently dropped a new single “Blame’s On Me,” massive congratulations on its huge success so far! What inspired the song and what was your creative process for it?
I was in a relationship and it ended, and a lot of my other songs are all kind of about that but they’re all about me playing the role of the victim mostly. For this one, I had to sit with myself for a while and realize why it had ended and what was going on, and a lot of it this time was my fault which I wasn’t fully used to. I’m used to having my heart broken but I think my life has gotten very busy at that point in my life and I wasn’t really sure how to handle it and my relationship suffered because of it. I wasn’t there enough and so the relationship ended and I lost out on you know the person I love. I hadn’t written about it for like five months because I was a little emotional. I haven’t talked about it because I didn’t really know how to and then I walked into the studio one day and sat down and it was just like ‘I have to write about this’. It was all I could think about and I just sat down and the first thing I wrote was that the blame was on me in this relationship and then I was like that’s the song, so we just sat down for the next five hours, and did the entire thing. It felt so special and I was like “this has to come out immediately”.
I feel like after a break-up it’s so normal to jump into victim mode, did you find it challenging to own up to the blame once you wrote about it?
It’s kind of everybody’s first instinct, whether you are breaking up or getting broken up with. But the thing that’s been really interesting with this song is, I think a lot of people that are listening to it have had the same reaction to when I wrote it. A lot of people were relating to it in a sense of “yeah, I messed up and can see it in hindsight”. There were a lot of people on the flipside that were listening to it as if someone had written it for them, so they were talking about wishing that this was the song someone had sent them as an apology, and it was giving them some sort of closure. I didn’t even think about that side. I was literally terrified to release it because I’m calling myself a not-so-great person in this song, and talking about the whole reason we didn’t work out. It’s funny how art can be perceived in different ways.
Yeah, absolutely! Some probably used the song as a sort of accountability for themselves too. It’s great your fans have related to it in so many different ways! So when you’re creating a song, what is usually your creative process?
I would say it’s been similar in the past, it’s been very healthy recently. When I first got to Los Angeles all I wanted was to write songs so I did everything I could to write a song. I would go with whoever I was writing with, I got to the studio, and then it got to the point where I was writing so many songs that I got burnt out. I couldn’t write any more songs, I was like ‘this is an average nine millionth song for the same situation’. So I took a step back and I had to fall back in love with songwriting. I came out from a different perspective and now I have a few collaborators that I absolutely adore working with. When I’m feeling really passionate I will hit them up and maybe do like two to three sessions a week instead of like nine, and I’ll get in there and I’ll talk to them very deeply about the situation at hand and it will come out as what I want, instead of, you know, just forcing myself to write a song. So yeah, the process now is very much like: Step one, feel the emotion. Step two, call the people. Step three, go to the studio and put on a piano or a guitar, start playing, and well, then I kind of jump in and then tell the story!
Oh wow, sounds very streamlined, that must make everything a lot easier! So when you’re working on a new song, do you keep over perfecting it, or do you know when it’s ‘finished’?
This is a great question, it’s so different from song to song. I’ve had songs where when I got them back, I was 100% happy and was like ‘This has to come out’. Then there’s been many songs that I’ve been unsure of and I think a lot of it comes down to you knowing how I specifically feel and relate to the song at the time. So I could write a song about something that happened a few months ago and then have a big change in my personal life. And when I get that song back, I don’t fully relate to it emotionally. But when “Blame’s On Me” was written I was really feeling it and I thought it was perfect. The moment I had that song on my phone I thought it had to come out immediately. I was perfect, I mean nothing is ever perfect, but it was perfect to me and it was exactly what I wanted.
It’s a lot of gut feeling as well I suppose.
You know what’s crazy about gut feeling? I might totally butcher this, but there is actually science behind the fact that there is an actual gut feeling connected to you. It’s crazy to explain.
Haha, it’s so hard to describe how a gut feeling works. It makes so much sense but then again it doesn’t at the same time! So let’s talk about your journey so far – obviously, your previous singles have become hits almost instantly and your fan base is ever-growing. At what point in your life did you know that this was what you wanted to do?
I grew up with music all around me. My dad owned a recording studio so I went to studios since I was an actual baby. I grew up in Timmins, Ontario, where Shania Twain was born. So I would grow up listening to a lot of Shania Twain and The Beatles and all that, and then I went on to listen to my own stuff. The first CD I ever bought was Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame’ and the next one was Sam Smith’s ‘In The Lonely Hour‘. I was also in the choir, learning guitar and piano and all kinds of stuff. So yeah, music was always very ingrained into my life. But back then I hadn’t really found a part of me that was like ‘I want to pursue this’, but I also hadn’t really found pop music at that point yet. So when I got into high school I realized how much I just absolutely dreaded high school.
Oh god, I can relate!
Yeah, I knew it wasn’t a viable option for me then, and I know it wasn’t viable for me now. So I talked to my parents and I was like “I want to start a YouTube account” when YouTube was really popping. So I started making YouTube videos and it all started taking over. I started to see people paying attention which was really cool. And then it got to the point where in high school I was like “This is what I need to do, I need to do music”, and flash forward, and here we are.
It all worked out! Also, first of all, I love how Lady Gaga’s The Fame was the first album you bought because it’s totally iconic, let’s be honest. Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
The first song I ever wrote was with one of my friends Evan back home but I haven’t talked to him in probably a decade and I cannot even remember the name, if you look hard enough you can find it somewhere online. But looking back I’m like “aww that’s cute, it’s a very small Alexander”. Something else that’s so, so cool is that a lot of my life was online so it’s like music as a timeline. I can go back and listen to my music and it’s a diary for everyone to hear, but also for me to hear them and remember how I was feeling at that point in my life. It’s a sonic diary of my life since I was literally 16 years old.
Yeah, it’s incredible, you can revisit all your big musical milestones pretty much. Talking about being online and on social media, I couldn’t help but notice that you do indeed have a large social following, particularly on TikTok. This platform has quite seemingly taken over and impacted lots of artists with their careers as well. Do you use it as a vehicle for your music as well?
I mean, I am a serial TikTok user. I love being on TikTok, and sometimes I scroll until 3 am and I’m like “I need to go to bed” but some video will pop up and be like “go get some fruit bla bla” and I’m like “Oh I should probably also get some fruit.” But yeah, for sharing my music, TikTok has been extremely exponential. I’m very grateful for that app because it’s giving me a way to share my music with people that may have never heard it before. I think it’s so fun, it’s like, I get to be silly and stupid, I can make videos with my music, and can really just be myself and do ridiculous things. I have a whole other second account, a spam account for whatever I want to post. It’s not only fun and addictive, but you learn so much on it, stuff about crazy things that you never even thought of. But also on the music-side of things, I get to sit there and have the opportunity to show potentially millions, tens of millions of people my music that didn’t know it. I think that is just so amazing.
I totally agree, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t scroll for hours as well. It’s so addictive.
I mean your ‘for you page’ is really your for you page. It knows you, it knows how to keep you on there. Have you ever noticed that it totally knows what you are going through? I’ll open the app and it just reads me and attacks me.
I know, it’s so wild, isn’t it. It’s almost suspicious! So word on the street is that you’ve new music coming out soon, and an album later this year as well. What can you unveil already?
It’s relatively top secret but I will say that I think it’s a lot of music that showcases me and what I want to say. It’s the music I’m the most proud of by far and it kind of just dives deeper into situations and feelings. It’s a body of work that I’m extremely proud of, and I really, really hope that other people like it.
That sounds great, I’m sure your fans will love it. On top of that you’re going on tour very soon as well, including a stint in London. How are you feeling?
I’m feeling ecstatic! I’m extraordinarily excited. I’ve been dreaming of doing my own headline tour. I mean it’s only a very short tour but being able to actually finally announce it and have the tickets on sale is like it’s actually happening! It’s really, really crazy.
How exciting, so what can someone who’s never been to a show of yours expect?
Well, expect all the sad bangers. Hopefully we’ll cry together. I will be sure to be sobbing on stage. I think they can hopefully suspect a good time, I think it’s really gonna be fun. Sad bangers, relevant covers, there’ll be a lot of tempo as well so you’ve got a whole emotional rollercoaster.
That’s what people want and need to be honest! So last but not least, what are some of your personal favourite songs right now?
I have a few but there are two especially. One is “Escapism” by Raye, I know that song word by word, I can recite it backwards. The other one is “Kill Bill” by SZA. The whole album is unbelievable.