Interview by Karmin Yu. Originally from Florida, pop darling duo Alex and Sierra have had the chance to tour with a star-studded list of performers including Colbie Caillat and Train. After championing the final season of The X Factor USA, the only group to win the show has released their first album called It’s About Us. The singing sweethearts talked to us about how they first got started, what they miss the most about being part of the talent competition, and what their future is looking like.
Can you introduce yourselves and tell us one pet peeve about each other.
SD: I’m Sierra Deaton… Alex is messy!
AK: And I’m Alex Kinsey and Sierra complains about me being messy.
You guys recently got back from tour, how was that?
AK: It was awesome!
SD: We went on tour with Colbie Caillat and that in itself is really cool for us because we used to cover her songs. So, getting to tour with someone that we’ve musically looked up to was an honour for us. Her entire crew and herself and her band – they all were really welcoming to us! We had no idea what we were doing because we had never toured before and it was a really awesome experience! We’re so glad that was our first tour because they taught us a lot and we had so much fun.
AK: We also got to play three shows with Train – we used to cover their songs as well. So, it was just really surreal to think that these people that we used to do a lot of their songs, we’re now opening for and getting to watch from side stages.
When did you guys realize you wanted to do music together?
SD: It happened really gradually. Alex would play gigs where we’re from and I would normally go and watch. I entered at a radio station in Orlando and my thoughts knew that Alex would play music and every once in a while, I would sing harmonies in the back. So, they asked us to play outside of the Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran concert and that made us learn a bunch of covers together. So, I think that really set it off, whereas before, we knew one or two songs and from that, we had to play a few hours. We got some really good reception and we had fun with it and it just kind of happened!
How has fame affected your relationship? Do you find it hard to keep your relationship private when you want to?
AK: I don’t think it’s really affected much – I mean granted, yes, people are definitely more interested in what goes on between the two of us. But, we just have fun together and when we get a chance to go on a date, we go on a date. It’s really neat because we get to share something [that] we share together, which is being on stage, playing music and being able to do something really amazing. I think it’s done nothing but enhanced our relationship.
Since you guys won the X-Factor, what is one thing you miss about your experience on the show?
SD: We miss, I mean a hundred percent [and] I think I can speak for [the] both of us, everyone that we were with on the show. We had so much fun! It was kind of like a weird musical summer camp that was really stressful. Going through really stressful things like that with those people was what bonded us and put us really close together because the only people that know exactly what it was like to be on that show at that time are the other contestants and the people we worked with. So, definitely hanging out with them and laughing at all the really stressful things and celebrating the fun times is what we miss.
Your album, It’s About Us, has been out for a couple months now, how has the reception been?
AK: I think pretty positive! We’re pretty happy! We had a number 8 album on Billboard in the first week that it was out. I think it’s pretty good; we’re really stoked! The fact that it was on Billboard at all – a top 10 album on Billboard is absurd! It’s just absolutely crazy!
Can you tell me the recording process behind the album?
SD: After the show was done, we had ten days off; we went home and then we went straight back out to L.A. We actually stayed at the house of our producer from X-Factor and we brought out ten songwriters and producers that we knew from the show. We had known them for months and months, so there was no awkward “Hi, nice to meet you! Let’s pour our hearts out and write songs together now.” Before that, we were pretty nervous [because] we didn’t really know how it was going to work. For the first five days, we wrote twenty songs and a few of them ended up on the album. So, it was a really productive week. It was really laid back: we would wake up in the morning, get some food and try to start writing a song. If it didn’t work, we would go for a hike or see a movie – it was just so relaxed that it helped us get into the groove of writing and being comfortable with ourselves and figuring out the best ways that we work together and the best ways that we write together.
What’s the most personal song on the album?
SD: They’re all kind of personal because they’re about us…
AK: Yeah, that’s a tough one!
SD: “Little Do You Know,” “Back to You”…The sad songs are all in a way personal, I suppose. But we wanted other people to relate them to their own relationship as well and make the meanings personal to them too.
Now your debut single “Scarecrow” has been such a hit, can you describe the inspiration behind the story of the video?
AK: The music video is a funny situation because we actually went through two or three different versions of it; we actually did a whole music video and then redid the whole music video again. So, the inspiration was a compromise between us and the label: what they wanted it to be and what we wanted it to be. They wanted it to be a little more intimate than what we wanted it, but to us, it’s fun being able to do this, whether exactly it’s the vision that we came up with or whether it’s a compromise – it’s pretty amazing that we’re in a position that we can make a music video. The inspiration behind it though, it was just to tell a story of the song and allow people to interpret it however they might feel or however they might relate to it best.
What are your upcoming plans?
AK: For the rest of 2014, we’ve got some shows here and there; we’re playing a couple things locally and trying to take some opportunity to relax and recoup because this tour that we were just on, it was about a month and we did promo because the album came out, so we were gone and on the road and travelling. So, it’s really nice to be home for a little bit and spend some time with family because we know that next year, it’s really going to take off. We’re going to try and get on tour next year, but we don’t really have any plans set in stone yet. For right now, we’re just trying to take a breather and make sure our minds are right before we really hit hard next year.