Korean American K-pop soloist AleXa is closing out her whirlwind of a year with her first EP, “Girls Gone Vogue.”
In May, the “Bomb” singer won the inaugural season of the Eurovision-inspired NBC competition show “American Song Contest,” beating out over 50 other vocalists with her original hit song “Wonderland” and becoming a household name.
Last month, she stopped in eight cities on her first-ever U.S. tour. Around that same time, she signed a contract with United Talent Agency, a behemoth talent agency in California that will represent her in new fields like television and film. She will continue as an artist under Korea-based label ZB Label.
Now she’s released “Girls Gone Vogue,” a six-number project led by the title track “Back In Vogue.” AleXa spoke with NextShark on Monday about what she wants her new album’s impact to be and some of her recent viral moments.
To be in Vogue
“[When] people typically think of the word vogue, they think Anna Wintour, Vogue magazine or the style of Vogue, but then people tend to neglect the actual word itself. The definition is basically, when something becomes fashionable, when it becomes a trend, when it becomes popular, when it gets in that mainstream spotlight,” AleXa says.
For AleXa, coming into that spotlight is about shining a light on others and encouraging them to find it within themselves. The lyrics for “Back In Vogue” convey this sentiment: “24-carat looking amazing It’s not what I’m wearing, It’s in the way that I walk, and I talk, clap ya hands now I’m coming back in vogue.”
“With the album being called ‘Girls Gone Vogue,’ it’s not just applicable to girls or female-presenting people, but saying that you can bring yourself forward into a spotlight and become a trend, become someone that people look to,” AleXa says.
She notes that the record is for the times when people go through a slump or when negative thoughts and feelings persist: “We want to bring you out of that and bring yourself back into that state of a personal spotlight, personal competence radiating off the walls, bringing yourself back into that vogue mindset.”
Final cut and future teases
“Girls Gone Vogue” lacks the cohesion of her past releases, but AleXa says that’s intentional.
“This one does not really have anything that ties in together. I guess that’s kind of what we’re going for with the whole album, invoking a musical. There’s no two numbers that are alike. I wanted to present a musical aspect within one album” AleXa says.
The album concludes with an instrumental version of “Back in Vogue” but opens with “Star” and the piercingly pure vocals of AleXa in collaboration with MAMAMOO’s Moonbyul, who is listed as a co-writer on the track.
The next B-side, “Endorphine,” is “a super happy, cutesy song” and became a favorite of AleXa’s to perform on tour, despite it being a departure from her usual discography. It is the most infectiously K-pop-sounding entry of hers to date.
Showing off her skills beyond singing and dancing, AleXa penned the two remaining songs on the album: “Black Out” and the all-English “Please Try Again,” which Thai actor and singer-songwriter Jeff Satur helped write and compose.
“There may or may not be more versions that come out in the future as a bit more of a collaborative effort. We have some Korean lyrics that are supposed to go in there. So spoiler alert, there’s a Korean version coming out with Jeff,” AleXa teases.
She also hints the album was supposed to have seven songs and that the one that didn’t make the final cut will appear on the next album.
Moments of Pride on the tour
“It was off the wall, it was just so fun to actually perform in front of people. For once, you know, not just people with cameras, but actual people. The energy was so receptive,” she says.
“I don’t want to play favorites or anything, but Puerto Rico and Oklahoma City, those two places I just felt so happy. The fans, the overall vibes, the aura of the places that we were in, it was just such a delightful experience. I will never forget,” she adds.
AleXa gave her fans an unforgettable moment when she went viral for taking a pride flag from the crowd during her Atlanta show, displaying her support of the LGBTQIA community.
“I actually have that pride flag with magnets up on my front door. It’s sitting pretty right there,” she says.
“It just meant a lot that I finally had the opportunity to do that because as someone who was a K-pop fan, I used to see videos of my idols being able to take flags on stage or take gifts from fans and show them off. I saw the flag and thought, my time has come,” she adds.
It was a small but mighty gesture in an industry where many idols are not allowed to speak or blazon their social or cultural beliefs. In AleXa’s case, she says the community the flag represents helped her become who she is.
“I went for it because I would say 80 percent of my friends in America were in the LGBTQIA community. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t showcase my friends that I love? My parents’ friends too. When I was a child, we had several LGBTQIA people in our life. Those people helped shape me to be who I am today. How can I not give back to the community in a time like this? If the least I can do is just bring a flag on stage. There’s so much more that I could be doing, but just the small gesture is something that I could do at that moment.”