A native of Toronto, Canada, Alexandria is no stranger to the Canadian music scene or to traveling the world. Grabbing the attention of and working with Canadian icon Dan Hill, Alexandria has had the opportunity to collaborate with talent such as Brandon Paddock – who previously worked with Avril Lavigne, Gavin Brown – award-winning producer, UK outfits Frequency and Ill Phil as well as Canadian artist/producer Songsbury and many more.
Alexandria’s music has been heard and seen on Canada’s CP24 Breakfast Show, Daytime Toronto, RogersTV, OMNI TV & OMNI V-Mix, SiriusXM, CHRY 105.5 FM and Radio Humber 96.9 FM; as well as heard on America’s 94.3 Party FM, BubblyTalkRadio and more. With her new debut single “Stay”, and her upcoming album, Alexandria is quickly settling as one of Canada’s most promising rising stars.
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Sean Ritchie: Coming from Toronto, describe the city a little bit – the atmosphere. What was it like growing up there?
Alexandria: I’d say it was pretty fun. We have a good combination of city and parks – green land. I spent a lot of my childhood going up north on the weekends – driving a couple hours north, because Ontario, my province, is pretty big. I would spend a lot of time outside and playing in the ravines, even throughout the winter – constantly outside tobogganing and making snowmen. I definitely was able to experience both a city life and nature.
Photo courtesy | Abi K
The atmosphere here was pretty cool. You can basically find anything that you want here. There’s a community or neighborhood for everything. [It’s] Similar to New York City where there’s a Little Italy, there’s a Little India and a Chinatown. We have all that as well. We’re so culturally diverse here. For me that was always fun, because if you wanted to find certain pieces, even if you’re working on an art project or decorating, there’s the possibility to find anything there.
SR: Sick! So, I’ve never actually been to Toronto. Are there a lot of suburbs? Did you grow up in the suburbs or downtown in the city?
A: I grew up in what they call “uptown”. So, still in the city, but we definitely have a lot of suburbs surrounding the city, which we call the GTA or the Greater Toronto Area. That includes all the suburbs going out all the way until the next city’s. Toronto has its’ downtown, its’ uptown and its’ midtown just like any other city. Where I grew up is maybe a 25-minute subway ride to the way down, downtown. If I wanted to go to midtown I would be like 10-minutes away.
Photo courtesy | Marcela
SR: Describe the nightlife a little bit. What’s the music scene like in Toronto? For an up-and-coming artist what are the positives about it? What’s the benefits of being there?
A: Well, Toronto is a city that I think has a lot of untapped talent. I’m lucky enough to be in a creative hub, almost like an incubator where there’s just so many artists. It’s really awesome to see the people that I work with, how everyone is indie in their own way and how I get to co-create with so many other artists who are on their way up.
READ MORE: Virtual City Tour: Toronto
The nightlife scene is a little different. We do have a lot of live-music venues that are really beautiful. If you want a night out, you can find live music every night of the week. As for myself, I perform at different kinds of venues. I’ll be performing a few shows at a billiards room this month. It’ll be cool having people playing pool listening to live music. There’s definitely a variety I would say of scenes. We have a really strong urban community here.
SR: On a broader level, I know you said you’re well-travelled. What are some of the destinations you’ve hit? What are the highlights or places that stood out?
A: So, I’ve been fortunate to have gone to various different continents. I’ve been to Europe. I’ve been to Africa. I’ve been to India and Thailand. I’ve been to South America. So, a big majority of continents and countries. Definitely some of the highlights I would say were Africa. I spent a month in Tanzania and a few days in Kenya. That was a highlight for me, because it was the first peak I summited, which was Kilimanjaro. I spent a week trekking. I had the pleasure or the fortune to go with my family. It was my parents, siblings and I. We took a month out of our year and spent it together in Africa.
We camped the whole time. So, we would go all across Tanzania and we would pitch tents every night. Then every day we’d un-pitch them and drive eight hours, not every single day, but we would drive far and then pitch our tents again. We actually got to camp outside in the middle of the Serengeti. Which was a really cool experience, because you’d be sleeping in your tent and you’d hear the wild bores just grazing outside. You’d hear the lion roar in the morning and the hyenas. So, it was kind of scary, but also really cool to be submerged in that environment.
Photo courtesy | Per Arne Slotte
SR: Yeah, wow, that’s really, really cool and intimate way to see a destination. Especially one as so natural as Tanzania.
A: Yeah, so we got to camp in the middle of the Serengeti, or the Ngorongoro Crater, which is a natural reserve park. That was really awesome. Then we spent about a week trekking up Kilimanjaro, which was a whole other experience in itself, from the physical aspect of it being actually difficult, but being more difficult in the mental aspect of continuing to keep going. The high altitude played a factor. Then you’re away from the density of what cities and large populations bring. So, you’re almost more clear minded. Which was fantastic, because doing it with a family it opened up conversations and things that we would not normally have. Everyone was in a different state so we were able to communicate differently. That was really powerful and memorable for me.
SR: Kilimanjaro is almost 20,000 feet, correct (actual summit elevation is 19,341)? How far up did you make it?
A: Oh, we summited!
SR: Oh, wow! That’s crazy.
Photo courtesy | Gary Craig
A: Yeah, everyone in my family summited, which was really cool. The hardest part was definitely the last 24 hours, because they woke us up in the middle of the night. They made us go to bed really early, like 5-6pm, because we had to wake up at 11pm to get our gear on and trek in the middle of the night through the snow. We went from trekking desert to like minus-25 degrees Celsius. We had to be super clothed, because we were on glaciers. That last 24-hours was the hardest, because of the climate, attitude and lack of oxygen.
They say that part of the reason they make you trek at night is, 1) they need us to be off the summit, by a certain time, because we’re too close to the sun if it gets too late in the day, and 2) if we saw the altitude in terms of how steep we had to climb people would be too scared to do it. It was steep. We couldn’t climb straight up. We had to zig-zag in order to keep moving. By the time the sun came out my body wanted to give up. The only thing that kept me going were my sisters. I was like, “There’s no way I just did this for five days and I’m just going to sit here. I’m going to make it to the top with them.” We all did it.
SR: I’m speechless! That’s the definition of active, adventure travel right there.
A: Yeah! For my brother and I now, one of our travel goals is to summit as many as we can.
Photo courtesy | Mike Behnken
SR: So, this is definitely going to be a trend then.
A: Right, so there’s two trends for me. I would say that Africa was a trend, because of those reasons. My other highlight would have been Thailand, because I spent a month by myself there, actually in September. That’s where I spent a week doing my diver certifications. I [received] my open water and advanced certifications. I have a big affinity for wildlife and the ocean. I love being under the water, seeing the beauty and realizing there’s another life functioning below us in a completely different way than what we understand. It’s so beautiful. My travel destinations coming up are either going to be based on some of the most beautiful dive sights in the world, or a mountain I can climb.
SR: This all ties into my next question. Wellness and active travel are enormous trends in today’s world. Tying in your yoga background as well, how important is it to stay fit on vacation and not just vegetating on a beach all the time?
A: When I am in a beach scenario, I’ve gone on trips that are beach-oriented. What I tend to do for myself is I’ll wake up in the morning and I’ll do my own self practice. So, I’ll be practicing for about a half an hour, an hour in the middle of nature, while I’m looking at a beautiful sunrise. I’ll start my day like that. I think in general, whether you’re traveling or not, being in a healthy state of mind is important. I think yoga is great, because it’s not only physical, but it’s mental and spiritual. I think it’s more about having the mind-body-soul connection. I think that’s what makes people thrive, it’s not just the physical.
Photo courtesy | Alexandria
SR: Tying it back into music. How does music and travel fit together?
A: My passions are both music, something that is innate to me, and travel, something that is so interesting. Having done both separate and together is, I think, powerful. My eventual goal is to allow music to enable me to travel the world. What I love about music and travel is that we get to connect with people from other places with different points of views, upbringings and cultures. The beauty of the internet right now is that I can actually reach people from other cultures, backgrounds and countries without needing to physically be there. There’s a more powerful connection when I get to perform for an audience, because really when I’m performing there’s an energy created by the audience. We’re creating a space together. I think there’s a power in that presence. They definitely go hand-in-hand for me and what I want to do.
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For more on Alexandria visit her website:
Cover photo courtesy | Olivia Ho