Interview: Alex Porat Transforms from YouTube Cover Artist to Fresh Indie Pop Act Out of Toronto

Alex Porat © 2020
A strong creative from the start, Alex Porat’s artist debut was worth the wait.
Stream: “never say ily again” – Alex Porat




Toronto singer/songwriter, Alex Porat embraced the power of YouTube as an early teen and has developed into the buttery smooth indie pop artist she is today. Her music journey started on the internet back in 2010 when she released her cover of the hit “Airplanes” by B.o.B. and Hayley Williams. Similar to most teenagers at the time, Porat posted singing covers of her favorite songs and has received overwhelming feedback over the last 10 years. With over 100+ million views cumulatively on her YouTube channel, she now introduces her own music to the world, continuing to use the internet as a means to grow her fanbase.

I just really trusted the internet and saw it as an opportunity to share something with people. I had a feeling from such a young age that YouTube was going to be the thing that helped me in the end so I just never gave up on it.

never say ily again - Alex Porat

never say ily again – Alex Porat

YouTube has skyrocketed careers of household names today, providing new artists the capability to share their own sound and showcase their personality. New platforms surface every year, and serious artists must seize the opportunities each one provides to remain relevant and break into the competitive music industry. The internet will always be a vital part in artist creation, no matter what platform is hot at the moment. Transitioning from a cover artist to diving head first into her own career, does not come without hardships. However, with a 10 year build up, Porat seems to be doing everything right. Making her entrance with a go-getter and confident attitude.

With most of her past video content showcasing her irresistibly smooth voice backed by piano, she has developed a produced sound that is true to herself. Purposefully lyricism overtop beat driven and funky instrumentation are all part of her crafted songs, often highlighting the trials and truths of relationships. Collaborating frequently with Iris Kim, her visuals are just as appealing, applying mesmerizing yet simple themes and not taking life too seriously.

From having millions of views of her covers to now having millions of streams of her original music, Alex Porat is well on her way. Atwood Magazine talked with Porat about her early interactions with music, evolving into a recording artist, continuing to grow a fan base online amidst covid, and hints at her official debut project out 2021.

Since the internet is pretty much the reason for my existence I’m going to make the best use of it to continue connecting with my audience.”



A CONVERSATION WITH ALEX PORAT

never say ily again - Alex Porat

Atwood Magazine: Hello! How’s your Monday going? Anything exciting planned for the week?

Alex Porat: My Monday’s going well! Nothing too exciting happening this week. Will probably write more music, call family, and try to enjoy the weather while it lasts.

Is anyone else in your family musical?

Alex Porat: Everyone in my family loves listening to music! I think they’ve all found their passion outside of music but they’re very supportive and are my number one fans. Also very critical of my music, so they’re great to lean on for opinions.

Alex Porat © 2020

Alex Porat © 2020



Was doing music full-time something you always dreamed about? What were your childhood career aspirations?

Alex Porat: It was definitely something I always dreamed about. Growing up I always reminded myself that I needed to be more realistic in my career goals but it never stopped me from exploring opportunities. Music was always in the back of my mind even when I was taking business and law courses in school.

Why did you decide to start posting covers on YouTube a few years back?

Alex Porat: I actually posted my first cover in 2010. It’s a cover of “Airplanes” by B.o.B. and Hayley Williams with my brother rapping B.o.B.’s lines and the video is private now – thankfully. Ever since that video I kept posting but not as regularly as two years ago. I just really trusted the internet and saw it as an opportunity to share something with people. I had a feeling from such a young age that YouTube was going to be the thing that helped me in the end so I just never gave up on it.

After having success posting covers on YouTube, what encouraged you to create your own brand and original music? Who/what drove you to take the leap?

Alex Porat: The end goal was always to share my original music but being so young and having little resources to do that I wanted to use covers as a stepping stone. I wanted to see if I could build an audience so that there would be people to listen to the original music. It’s been a very fun but tough transition. There’s definitely an invisible barrier for YouTubers who want to transition into music – however the ones that have been successful, like Conan Gray, give me hope! It’s a huge sense of relief being able to share original music because it feels more authentic to me as a person.

The end goal was always to share my original music, but being so young and having little resources to do that I wanted to use covers as a stepping stone.

It’s been about two years since Shawn Mendes watched and commented on your “In My Blood” cover via Glamour. Are you still shocked by this? Or are you more used to people seeing your work?

Alex Porat: I’m honestly more grateful if anything because that was a pivotal moment for me mentally where I realized that having a career in music was obtainable and possible. It really motivated me to keep going and to not give up.

I feel like as an artist it’s a huge compliment that your music has impacted someone so much that they want to put their own voice and spin to it. Has anyone covered your originals yet?

Alex Porat: I’ve heard a couple and it’s so nice to hear other people interpret the songs. Even getting DMs on Instagram from people saying how much they relate to the songs feels so surreal for me because that’s how I felt towards so many of the artists whose songs I covered.

How did you develop your overall sound?

Alex Porat: I think my sound is a result from so many phases in my life. I grew up listening to so much Whitney Houston and then later I was very influenced by the movies I would watch. I listened to a lot of Disney soundtracks throughout my childhood and later in high school I would sing in the musicals and choirs. All these things combined helped me find my sound. I gravitate towards melodies that sound emotional so in my own music I find that I naturally write like that as well.

Let’s talk about your recent single, “never say ily again.” How did you get energized to write the song? Did you create the track with anyone else?

Alex Porat: I co-wrote this track with my friends Jeff Hazin and David Charles Fischer aka DCF. This song was so fun to write because the driving force behind it was anger haha. For me personally, I go through phases after a break-up and this song was born out of that bitter phase where you feel like the world is ending. Saying “I’ll never say ‘I love you’ again” is so dramatic but also so relatable to that moment for me.

You frequently work with Iris Kim on your visuals. Can you touch upon what the creative process is like with her?

Alex Porat: Yes! It’s so amazing and easy working with her and it just feels like it was meant to be. I really trust her with the entire process and completely relate to her since she’s such a young and driven creative. It’s so exciting seeing our projects side by side and also looking forward to our next ones together because the visual is such a huge thing for me especially because of my experience with YouTube.

Do you try to surround yourself with other female creatives and teams?

Alex Porat: 100%. It’s super important to me that I support other female creatives and have them be a part of my team. There have been efforts towards evening the playing field in the music industry but there’s still such a long way to go.

Performing and being in front of a crowd has a huge impact on artist growth. It looks like concerts aren’t going to fully resume until at least mid 2021, what are your plans to continue to connect with your fans and grow your career amidst COVID?

Alex Porat: Since the internet is pretty much the reason for my existence I’m going to make the best use of it to continue connecting with my audience. Some days I sit around at home and all I do is reply to DMs on Instagram that people send me. It’s been really nice connecting with everyone through that but I hope I’ll be able to see them in person one day.

Alex Porat © 2020

Alex Porat © 2020

I was reading a Billboard article the other day and Daniel Miller (manager at Fusion Mgmt/Red Light), said that, “We’re referring to 2020 as a year of investment in learning and recalibrating. We haven’t paused or skipped a beat as we set up 2021.” COVID-19 has given people more time to actively consume music and creatives more virtual opportunities to connect with fans. Have you learned new things during this time? Are you developing ideas to launch later in 2021?

Alex Porat: It’s weird to think how much time has passed since the start of the pandemic but I really feel like I’ve found a new comfort in recording vocals at home. All the vocals from my next single, in October, were recorded from my bedroom. Being able to get a vocal going has made collaborating over Zoom or FaceTime so much easier.

How do you envision your artist brand growing in the future? What new things do you want to incorporate?

Alex Porat: Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is live shows. It’s the one thing I’ve been looking forward to the most but the first single off the project came out right at the beginning of the pandemic so I knew pretty early on that live wouldn’t happen for a while. So now I’m just really looking forward to the day I get to perform the songs on a stage.

Which of your creative accomplishments has given you the most satisfaction, and why?

Alex Porat: The songs off this upcoming project – even though some of them aren’t out yet. It’s been such an interesting process telling these stories from my life and seeing how my brain changes after each one. I think each song has helped me grow from whatever thing I’m writing about. It definitely feels like a form of therapy.

Alex Porat © 2020

Alex Porat © 2020

How do you personally define success?

Alex Porat: I think I define success as feeling more happiness than sadness. Still trying to figure that one out.

Who are your favorite fellow Canadian artists/bands?

Alex Porat: I would say Drake and Jessie Reyez are big ones for me right now!

What album or artist has been most impactful on your artistry?

Alex Porat: I’m so emotional and I think that goes back to my childhood where I grew up listening to a lot of Whitney Houston. Her music really impacted the way I listen to other artists. I feel like because of her I can really feel an artist’s emotion through their melodies or lyrics.

Lastly, the most important question. What’s the updated count on your race car jacket collection?

Alex Porat: LOVE this question. It’s at four currently and I have one more on the way!



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never say ily again - Alex Porat

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Kelsey Fitzgerald is a writer, musician, and graduate of Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. She enjoys going to live shows, takes pride in compiling the perfect playlist, and is constantly searching for your new favorite artist.