Sugar High Podcast: Two Hours with X-Factor Victors Alex and Sierra

Alex and Sierra © 2017
Alex and Sierra © 2017

Atwood Magazine is excited to announce a new partnership series, Sugar High, formerly known as The Tour Manager’s Guide, a podcast by Danny Carissimi featuring various musicians and industry professionals as they talk about their life and career. The next episode features Alex and Sierra, the winners of the third and final season of The X Factor (U.S.).

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When my mom told me to check out Alex and Sierra on The X Factor, I couldn’t have been more disinterested. The X Factor? Like the one with resident butthole Simon Cowell at the helm? The show that gives people a false sense of what it takes to make it in music and turns art into a petty competition? No, thank you, I had other things to do.

Cut to a few years later, and my mom reminded me that she knew Alex from Alex and Sierra, and that they would be great for my show. After thinking about it a bit, I agreed. My podcast is meant to explore every aspect of a career in music. And like it or not, reality TV music shows exist. What’s more intriguing is that some artists actually thrive after their show ends and blossom into decent artists. Also, I know nothing about the world of pop. My foray into the music industry was Neon Indian, and I’ve been firmly entrenched in indie pop ever since. What is it like? What is the insane machine of reality TV like? If you break the right mirror at Fox Studios, will Simon Cowell turn into a 90 year old man?

I became obsessed with these questions and decided that I had to make it happen. But would this weird family Daytona connection work? Oh yeah. It did. My mom’s friend made the email intro and we went from there. Alex is a super nice dude and invited me over to chat. He lives in Burbank with his buddy from high school. It was explained to me that Alex and Sierra used to live together, but there was another female roommate and it felt too feminine so he moved out. Given the time they’ve spent together on the show, road, studio, and as boyfriend and girlfriend, Alex and Sierra get along surprisingly well. I’ve found that many couples forced into such situations have a tendency to snip; but they don’t. It’s quite the opposite actually. Living through such an intense and often times traumatic experience as The X Factor seems to have brought them closer.

It’s interesting to think that prior to the show, they were barely a band. So much so that they didn’t even have a band name. Alex would play guitar at local bars and occasionally bring Sierra onstage. During my time as a tour manager, I met a few musicians like her: Freaks. Freaks! People that can carry a tune as good or better than any musician on any instrument in the world and it’s all natural. It’s a god-given gift and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

From what I gathered, Alex was pursuing it harder. He had a repertoire of like, 50 songs he’d play at this bar every Friday. We drank beers for hours during the taping of the episode, which took hours. I had to edit out 2 pee breaks. Two! That was a first. It really did feel like there was some sort of family connection. I got along with them very well and we had a great time.

I found it interesting that many of the negatives they experienced after the show made them stronger and only fueled their career. It’s also fascinating just how powerful TV is. I mean, I know indie artists that have 3-times the output and touring history and nowhere near the following. People really like Alex and Sierra, and with all they’ve been through, I find their determination to keep going inspiring. Like many of the artists on my show, they aren’t rich, but they’re doing what they love, and get to keep doing it, day in and out.

So, even if you’re skeptical or hate pop music, go into this with an open mind. At least do it for the Simon Cowell stories because apparently he has a 2.2 million dollar car.

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