Alexandra Burke is evolving.
After racking up multi-Platinum success with hits such as ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Bad Boys’, the London-bred beauty is embracing a more soulful sound on her hotly anticipated third studio album.
Fresh from rocking the stage at her US debut, we caught up with the singer who waxed all sorts of candid about a number of topics. Ever keen to the ask the questions you really want answers to, we quizzed Burke on breaking America, signing a management deal with Kevin Liles, and what this means for her eagerly awaited American “launch”. A wholly frank Alex also set the record straight on why she recently left her record label.
Confident, assertive, yet the same “Alexandra” the masses fell in love with, the 24-year-old not only knows the artist she wants to be, she’s grabbed the wheel and is steering herself there.
An insightful read awaits after the jump…
That Grape Juice (Sam): Hey Alex! It has been a minute. How are you?
Alexandra Burke: I’m good, darling. I am fantastic. I’m still on cloud nine because of my performance at the Apollo; I’m still pinching myself that I was able to be apart of that line up and to tribute Chaka Khan. There isn’t any better place that I could have imagined to give my first (US) performance. You don’t get any better than the Apollo!
As well as rocking the house solo, you shared the stage with powerhouses Jennifer Holiday and Deborah Cox. What was the preparation process like?
Alexandra: The prep for it was a little bit stressful because I’m a perfectionist and I want the best for myself. I’m honestly my biggest critic (laughs), so I flew Jaquel Knight in to help me out and really bring out the best in me. Thank God for my management, because they helped me pull the pieces together to really help me do the number.
I wanted to show Chaka how much I love her, how much I honor her and show her how much of an inspiration she is to me and she loved what I did! The feedback I got from her was great which meant a lot to me because I admire her and worked so hard on it!
TGJ: We know you’re in the US to record your new album, which we’re so buzzed about. But before we get to that…
Much ado has been made in the press about your decision to leave your label. In laying all of the speculation to rest, what exactly happened? There was some murmurs about ‘Heartbreak On Hold’ being the reason (we love that album by the way!)
Alexandra: Ok. As everyone knows, I was with SyCo and then I moved to RCA for my second album (‘Heartbreak On Hold’). We had a great run, I was always treated like family, but then it got a point where I knew there was only so much jumping around I could do on stage.
I really want(ed) to strip it all back and have my music be about my voice. Doing everything I did before came from the heart, but RCA still wanted a lot of the Pop stuff, which was great but I remembered the reason I won the X Factor is because I sang my heart out.
People voted for a voice and I want my third album to be strictly about my voice. The label didn’t meet eye-to-eye when it came to deciding what I’d do. It was a mutual decision and they were and still are so great to me. But now I really want to go for it. I’m working with Drake’s producers right now, and there’s so much magic I want to create right now and I can do that with Kevin (Liles). He “gets” me as a person, as an artist… as a young woman. He gets where I want to be and that’s what I needed. I’m so humbled by the support he’s given me. So I’m going back in (the studio) with a lot of producers who understand me…Rico Love is one of them.
I don’t want to put a tag on the music, but at the end of the day my voice is soulful so the music will always be passionate and soulful. I’d describe my “new sound” as a “Whitney Houston meets Coldplay”. It’s pure, it has influences of Pop, Soul, R&B, even Hip Hop- it’s really everything I love. But I’m making sure the focus is on my voice. The album is coming sooner than my fans think it is. I’m working on it now. In the meanwhile, I’m looking forward to giving them something as a pure Thank You for their support before that.
TGJ: Regarding the album, any word on what label it’ll be released on?
Alexandra: Kevin is working on things right now and there are labels we’re talking to now. There’s not one we’ve decided on (yet), but as long as they understand and share the same point of view it’ll all be fine. I’m literally doing what I love (on this record). I’m literally in the studio finding my own place so whatever label gets on board has to share my vision.
TGJ: You’ve enjoyed so much success since going on the X Factor, but have also endured some challenging times. If you could, what would Alex today tell the Alex who JUST won the X Factor?
I would tell myself to always remember to be honest and pure when it comes to what you love. It’s easy to become sidetracked and listen to others when it comes to making what you love or looking a certain way. So I’d tell myself to always remember who you are. I’d tell myself to surround yourself with people who humble you- to remember everything you have is a blessing because everything can be taken in an instant. I’d also tell myself to make music that speaks to who you are, and that shares the right message.
TGJ: Speaking of the X Factor, we saw pics of you on set of the US show last year. How are things with Simon?
My relationship with Simon is great- I rarely see him but I always love seeing him. I saw him a couple of months ago, it’s always a pleasure to see him. But it’s rare that I see him because I’m not on his label anymore. I’m still a fan of his and when I see him I’m always the same girl he met five years ago. That won’t change.
TGJ: Naturally, then the excitement around this show begs the question – when next can American fans see you in action?
Well you know what… I hope it’s soon. There are a lot of things I’ve been put forward for, but right now the focus is the third album and being in the studio. But I’ll tell you what- I’d give anything to perform at the Apollo again!
TGJ: Message for your fans?
I want to thank my fans for being loyal to me and understanding the transition- I really want them to love what I’m doing now because I’m having a blast making it. I can’t wait for them to hear it!
TGJ: Alex, always a pleasure!
Alex: Thank you, That Grape Juice!