The first time I heard Alexandra Savior’s music was when a friend of mine played me her demo Risk; I was instantly pleased by her sound. She sings, as she slowly blows cigarette smoke into my face, while the instruments build to the walls of the saloon we are standing in. And somehow its sounds familiar. With a big smile on his face my friend told me that Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner was co-writing her album and producing it together with James Ford. From that moment on I was on team Savior.
That was about a year ago and since then singles were released in irregular two to three-months-periods. First Shades and M.T.M.E., then Mystery Girl and Mirage. All songs have a similar sound: AMesque guitar-sounds and a dreamy voice, like Lana del Rey with too much rock, my father says. This sound carries through her whole debut record Belladonna of Sadness, and even my dad certifies that it’s “something very unique, very powerful”. Comparisons to Lana del Rey are (especially live) anything but wrong but still there is more to it; something that distinguishes the person Alexandra Savior McDermott, which is her full name, from other artists.
On stage she seems insecure, not sure how to act, drinks to calm herself down, aborts introductions to her songs and turns her back to the crowd as soon she isn’t singing. But when she sings she expresses her songs in such an enormous way it seems to be at least 50% acting. The line “Don’t you try to calm me down” (from Mystery Girl) sounds less like a piece of music and more like a perfect example of what it’s like to argue with Alexandra McDermott. Maybe that’s why she claimed to “hate that song!” right after having performed it. Rejecting offers from other record labels, who hoped to establish her like stars P!nk or Katy Perry at the age of 16, fits the picture pretty well.
Alexandra Savior, who names The Beatles, Nirvana and The White Stripes as well as Otis Redding and Etta James as influences, will be playing three more shows this year. The last concert will be in her hometown Portland, where she is expecting “a lot of screaming and middle-aged women” (all her mother’s friends). Because of the strong bond she has with her hometown, she also plans to move back from Los Angeles to Portland. The unofficial motto of her hometown, ‘Keep Portland Weird’, also sums up Alexandra Savior. She does not fit into any category. Moving to Portland could also be very interesting for Savior’s musical development. Not being near Alex Turner, who obviously had a big impact on her debut, could allow her to evolve her music in a new direction. Although those more “classic” musicians influenced her debut already (compare Mystery Girl and Billie Holidays Don’t Explain), the uber-talented Alexandra Savior McDermott should be capable of way more than a copy of her debut for a second record.
“The most important thing about the music industry I’ve learnt is that it’s total bullshit, and that the thing you should focus on the most is just the art.”, she told Coup de main magazine in October 2016. Fortunately she seems to be quite good at it.