On March 22, Alex and Sierra, the music duo made famous on “The X Factor” after winning the third season of the contest, are performing a concert at UTD as part of Springapalooza. The Mercury got a chance to talk to the duo about their career so far and plans heading forward.
Q: What was your college experience like at The University of Central Florida?
Sierra: We probably both had pretty stereotypical college careers. Alex was in a fraternity, I studied a lot.
Alex: I really liked the social side of college. Sierra really liked the educational side of college.
Sierra: We both had a really fun time. I loved college and I feel really old now that college was so long ago. I think we’re both really excited to play (UTD), because whenever we can play a college, we can kind of pretend we’re back in college.
Q: How did your time in college influence you musically?
Alex: UCF was in a pretty big city in Orlando and I think that really helped us kind of get our chops up a little bit with performing and stuff. Sierra was in training at one of the bigger radio stations in Florida, like the big pop station in Orlando and I was playing all around town at restaurants and the bars and stuff. We were able to play some shows for the radio station and made good connections. I think just being in a place like that, in a town where it’s kind of a small town vibe where everyone supports the people around them but it’s also a big enough city that you can sort of make your own way and I think we were able to sort of take advantage of that and play good shows and be around big people and get a lot of support from the students and teachers and all kinds of stuff. It was just a good community to be a part of.
Sierra: Yeah, you grow up a ton in college too. I think if we had entered the business before college, things would be a lot different, so I was glad that we got at least a couple years of college in before we tackled the music industry.
Q: Was music always what you guys wanted to do?
Sierra: It was definitely Alex’s Plan A. It was all of Alex’s plan, so there was no back up plan. I grew up being a dancer, so music has always been a part of my life, but I was never the singer in front of the music or anything. That kind of developed in college, actually. We’re both really happy to be where we are now, for sure.
Q: Has it been difficult to transition the success from “The X Factor” to your career outside of the show?
Alex: I think that there’s definitely like a stigma … definitely something that drives us a lot is getting our own sort of interpretation of how people think of us and stuff. I think that trying to get away from “The X Factor” stigma is definitely something that drives us a lot. It’s a difficult thing and it’s not something that we take lightly. “The X Factor” was a huge launching platform for us, it was something that we were able to take and really get incredible things out of, so at no point are we like, ‘Oh, screw “X Factor, we hate that.’ It’s definitely something that has pushed us to the point that we’re at. It’s something that we really appreciate and it’s definitely a part of us. However, I think that getting to a place where the music is what’s looked at instead of being on TV and people taking us seriously as musicians rather than some kids that just auditioned for some television show is definitely difficult, but I like to think we’re doing an OK job of it. It’s a work in progress.
Q: In terms of making your own sound and creating your own reputation, how have you gone about doing that?
Alex: At the show, we were with Columbia and we’re not with them anymore, we’re independent. While we were with them, we were part of a big machine and there were a lot of people making a lot of decisions, and that was great, but it was definitely, from a creative standpoint, not the best way to make the music that we loved. So the first album, we definitely had a big part of and we really enjoyed making it, but now we’re writing for a second album and we have an EP coming out in the next couple of months. All of the stuff that we’ve been doing is what we want to do, it’s songs that we want to write and it’s the style that we want to write in and the things we want to talk about. It’s been really great, sort of just figuratively and literally, this independent lifestyle that we’re kind of living with our music. We get to sort of do whatever we want, no one’s stepping in and saying, ‘Oh, that’s garbage, you have to do this,’ or ‘We like this instead of that.’ It’s sort of up to us and our team that we’ve created around us to make the decisions. We’re hoping the next stuff that comes out, the next stuff we’re able to release really expresses who we are and also that people gravitate towards it. We’re kind of playing it by ear and hoping that it goes well.”
Q: What can your listeners expect on these upcoming projects?
Sierra: We’re hoping (to release them) this summer. We don’t have the exact date, but within the next few months there will definitely be new stuff out.
Alex: On the EP we did full studio versions of some of the cover songs on “X Factor,” cause those versions online weren’t really great versions, they were like live recordings of our vocals. Also, once the show got cancelled, they took those recordings down. So we did six of the covers we thought were the most popular that we really liked, that we felt that people really liked. So six of those and then we’re going to do … two originals just to kind of get a feel for if people like the sort of new direction we’re sort of going in. But we don’t know what originals just yet and we have the covers done. But we’re hoping in the next few months for that to be available and then once we sort of get feedback out of that and see what sort of things like out of us, then we’ll start figuring out what the album’s going to sound like and then it hopefully won’t be too long before we can get something like that out too.