Sometimes the truth can be hard to handle, but 21-year-old Alexis Wilkins has no problem telling it like it is. The rising country singer-songwriter released her debut single “Holdin’ On” at the end of March, aptly timed for the many crises the world is currently facing. Wilkins’ music can be best described as holding onto many traditional country music values, with a bit of attitude and a whole lot of truth mixed in. We had the opportunity to talk to Wilkins about “Holdin’ On,” the importance of giving back in times of need, and her love of vintage books.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started with making music?
ALEXIS WILKINS: I got started in music by way of writing my first song at 6. I really wanted to help with a cause that I’d read about and had asked my mom how to help, she had told me that people do something they love to raise funds or awareness for something they care about. I wrote a song to put online to raise money and have been writing and singing ever since!
BTS: How would you describe your music for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
AW: I would explain that my hope for my music is that people feel understood and heard. It’s relatable, it’s country, it’s the truth. I hold to pieces I love about traditional country, I tell stories, I love the instrumentation of classic country.
BTS: Who are some of your influences, musically and non-musically?
AW: Musically, I’m really inspired by writing and writers who say things we all feel in a new way, so that’s what I strive to do. Writing was my first outlet of expressing things in the music space, and everything comes down to the song, so that is my priority. Non-musically, I’m inspired and influenced by people and the way they interact, catching things that all of us feel in our human experience and also catching tiny moments we might miss in that second but feel deeply when we hear it played back.
BTS: What’s your process like in the studio?
AW: It all starts with the writing, but once we have that part ironed out and the songs picked, my producer Josh Gleave and I will go back and forth on a demo (a sketch of what the song is going to sound like, where we’re aiming for the final) until we are happy with it and feel that it represents the song. We write together a lot so he and I are really on the same page from start to finish, and we end up cutting the song for the final with a really solid plan of what we meant to accomplish.
BTS: Can you tell us the story behind your debut single “Holdin’ On”?
AW: I wrote “Holdin’ On” with my good friend Mitch Rossell! We were talking about how there are so many things in life that we hold on to that we should just let go, and vice versa, so we wanted to make the point that in all of the craziness of the world (even pre COIVD-19) the good things are important to hang on to.
BTS: Why did it seem like the right single for your debut?
AW: I was supposed to release my full project around when the song came out, but with everything going on I ultimately decided that people could use a positive song to remind everyone that even though we may not be physically holding on to each other, we still hold on to the things that are most important and that it’s going to be okay.
BTS: You’re donating proceeds from the song to Musicians On Call – how did that come about?
AW: Musicians On Call is an organization that brings musicians into hospitals to sing for the patients at bedside, and I’ve been with them for years and always am trying to think of new ways to support the incredible things they do, so the whole reason I thought to release something after pushing the initial release was because Musicians On Call started their MOC Heals playlist in order to still have music-on-demand for the patients during this time where we can’t visit in person. I wanted to help by contributing something uplifting, and so the idea went from there. I’ve seen what music does for these patients in the rooms, in VA hospitals, in cancer centers, and I know the difference it makes and I really wanted to raise money to help out during this crazy time.
BTS: In addition to releasing “Holdin’ On,” you also shared the music video for the song. Can you talk a little bit about the video concept and what it was like filming the video?
AW: The video was directed by David Colón (who is incredible and so easy to work with, by the way) and we just really wanted to portray a comfort and an casual ease in the video while showing that these absolutely vital and important interactions happen all around us, every day. We thought about vignettes of people holding on to each other, and what that means for the viewer to see that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
BTS: What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned as an artist so far?
AW: I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve learned time and time again to listen to your own voice. Be flexible and coachable, be able to say “I don’t know” but trust your gut and listen to your own voice on who you are and who you want to be as an artist. You truly know best on who you want to show up as every day you go to a write, a meeting or get on stage. Also, keep your family close to you, they keep you real and they look out for you like no one else.
BTS: What’s one fun fact about yourself for our readers?
AW: I collect vintage books, history specifically! I love American history and War history and majored in Business and Political Science in college.
BTS: What can fans expect from you this year?
AW: That this year should be interesting!! I know live shows are still being figured out and the schedule is being ironed out, but when everything lands again, we will have live shows announced, more music is push-button ready and I’m so excited for you all to hear it!
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