Alexa Wildish ’10 turned her passion for connectivity and collaboration through music into an EP full of personal revelations.
Alexa Wildish ’10 has always had a passion for music. A music theatre major at Elon, she learned to play the mandolin during her sophomore year and fell in love with Americana and bluegrass music when she went to a summer music festival and saw The Wailin’ Jennys and Nickel Creek play a set together. But despite her love for music, it would take more than a decade for her to release her own recording.
After graduation, Wildish hesitantly went the music theater route. She worked on a cruise ship for a year as a performer and after short stints in New York City and Portland, Oregon, she settled in Boulder, Colorado. All along, she was writing her own music, but it wasn’t until 2018 that she decided to fully pursue her musical passion. She raised money through Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform, to record her album at Goosehead Palace, a music studio in Nashville, Tennessee, and in January of this year, she finally released her self-titled debut EP. “To know that this many people had been moved by my music and had wanted me to keep creating, it was so incredible,” she says.
On her record, Wildish worked with Jordan Tice, a guitarist for Hawktail, which Wildish describes as a progressive bluegrass band. Ruth Moody, a member of The Wailin’ Jennys who had inspired Wildish to create her own music, sang back up vocals on her EP. “It was sort of surreal to have her singing with me and I just had a ton of people who I had admired so much over the years playing on this record,” she says.
Wildish draws her inspiration from her own life, second-hand experience and aspects of nature. Even though there isn’t a singular theme in her EP, her songs touch upon personal revelations. “I’ve started to understand myself better and different ways in which I could articulate that, so a lot of internal work was done during this process,” Wildish says. “It was just really my way to understand my mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
The cover art on Wildish’s EP includes hummingbirds, a small but powerful force, she says, which illustrates her emotional state in her songs. “This felt like a big flash of saying, ‘I feel small and even though I feel small, this is not a small record,’” she says. Wildish says she appreciates Elon’s music theatre program’s “quest for telling the truth,” which has remained with her through her career. “Whether you were performing your own material or someone else’s material, you had to make it so deeply personal that the audience could feel that within you,” she says. “I feel like that really has helped me as a songwriter to go deeper and not just tell a vague story but to get really clear on what I’m communicating in every song.”
While it is her record, Wildish emphasizes the collaboration that made it all possible. “Through this record I’ve made so many wonderful connections and I’m really proud of the work and what we all did as a crew together,” she says. “It is my project but it’s also the work of my production team and the musicians that put their voices on this, which was amazing.”
Like many other artists, Widish has had to cancel all her in-person performances and deliver her music strictly online as the country adjusts to life during a pandemic. She has continued fueling her creativity by immersing herself in nature while also performing virtually and holding voice workshops via Zoom. “I want to connect and I want to share my voice as often as possible,” she wrote on a recent Facebook post. “Music is medicine, and though our world might undervalue it, it’s what keeps us sane, and keeps us connected.”
For more information about Wildish, visit alexawildish.com.