Singer-songwriter Alex Porat spills on her new single, "Girlfriend"
Image: Sise Drummond
Alex Porat is making a name for herself in music, one relatable bop at a time. While she got her start with viral YouTube covers (including one noticed by Shawn Mendes!), the Toronto-based artist is now focused on original music. In 2020, she released an *amaze* EP called “bad at breakups.” Her next single, “Girlfriend,” drops today. Girls’ Life caught up with Alex ahead of the song’s release to learn more about “Girlfriend,” her creative process, and what’s next for her this year. Check out the convo & the song below!
Girls' Life: What was the songwriting process behind your new single, “Girlfriend”?
Alex Porat: When I went into the studio that day, the whole goal was to have fun. It’s been really hard this past year to write about life experiences, for obvious reasons. We had to mine our brains for existing ideas. “Girlfriend” is really about a guy who doesn’t know how to commit. He wants to do boyfriend things and be a boyfriend, but he doesn’t want to label it. And “Girlfriend” is a flipped, girl’s perspective of what it would be like if a girl were to do that. It’s commenting on that double-standard.
GL: Has the pandemic changed your relationship to music?
AP: It definitely has. Usually, it would be really easy to write because there would be so much going on. But now, it’s turning into introspective moments of looking inwards and pulling from places that I don’t think I was able to pull from before. It’s kind of refreshing, because it’s like mining for gold. You’re trying to dig into the depths of your brain to find these ideas, whereas before it came so easily. I actually think that process has helped me so much in creating stronger music and stronger concepts.
Image: Sise Drummond
GL: Would you say that “Girlfriend” is moving in a different direction from the music you’ve put out before, especially your “bad at breakups” EP?
AP: I would say that it’s leaning towards being more on the pop side. I was always a little bit scared to go the pop route because it’s so competitive. But I realized through this past year that that is what I wanted to write, and that’s what felt natural. I think “bad at breakups” was a chapter of my life, and I’ve wrapped that up nicely. This new thing is another chapter.
GL: Of all of the music videos you have made, which one was the most memorable to film and why?
AP: It’s funny because all of them were such different experiences. For the first one, I had friends on as extras, so it was really fun getting to have that moment with them. I’d say it’s a battle between “never say ily again” and “forgot to forgive” as most memorable.
For “never say ily again,” it was extremely hot outside, and I was running up a hill a couple of times in jeans, a jacket, and Doc Martens. And then, “forgot to forgive” was an overnight shoot, so we shot in the middle of the night, and that was also very memorable. But all of them hold such a dear place in my heart, and I love Iris Kim, the director for those videos, with all my heart.
GL: Who have you been listening to lately?
AP: I’ve been listening a lot to Dua Lipa. I think she’s a queen of pop, and I’m obsessed with her. I also love listening to Jeremy Zucker. His melodies and his lyrics are just so beautiful, and I really admire him for that. I love everything he’s been putting out.
GL: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you left school to pursue music. What was your thought process when you were making the decision to jump to a creative career instead of the traditional path?
AP: I finished my second year of school studying business with a major in law. I don’t think there was another time in school where I loved a subject so much. I was obsessed with the idea of becoming a lawyer, and I wanted to go to law school. Then, one day, it hit me: I realized I didn’t really sing anymore. It made me think, this is clearly not where my heart is at. So, at the end of my second year, I decided to take time off to see if I could do music, because I knew school would always be there. In the moment I thought, if I don’t do it now, this feeling could go away, and then come back later and haunt me for the rest of my life.
Image: Sise Drummond
GL: The term ‘bedroom pop’ has been used often to describe your music. Is that a label you agree with?
AP: I love the term ‘bedroom pop’ because it feels super intimate. Like my writing style, it’s very straightforward. I’m a big fan of Julia Michaels and the way that she writes, and how her lyrics come off so honestly. I like to think of my songs as like a diary, and so ‘bedroom pop’ would be a really great way to describe that music.
GL: What’s next for you, post-”Girlfriend”?
AP: I’m looking to work towards another project. The backbone of it is almost done. But there’s still a lot of work to be done on all those songs. I’m excited that they’re getting ready to be released this year. Hopefully, depending on how the world goes, doing live shows would be a dream. Last year, I wasn’t able to do that for the EP. That is one of those big goals that I’ve always had, to perform original music live, and I’m waiting for that day.
GL: Before we end our call, is there anything else you want to talk about?
AP: Something that I’m super committed to right now, especially with having an active voice in media, is representation. With the state of the world right now, when we’ve progressed so much in accepting diversity, I can only wish that there ends up being more Asian representation in the media in North America.
I grew up not really having that as a kid, and I still struggle with naming people that I hear on the radio that are Asian. I’m half-Asian, and I think it’s important that I do speak on that, and make sure that I’m helping contribute. There are so many artists that are doing such an amazing job at pushing that boundary, like Joji and Conan Gray and NIKI. I just want so badly for us to see more of that.
Title image: Sise Drummond