Alex Vantassel, a 16-year-old young lady walked up to the mic. Something about her persona, demeanor, and style while just standing as the music started got my talent antennae active. Having coached and directed young talent in my past, I had a feeling she was going to be a natural.
Alex began singing, unfortunately, I don’t remember what, and her voice caressed the air and soared through the notes as if she began singing before she was born. The crowd that night all quieted down after just a couple of phrases realizing they were hearing someone special.
Alex handled every note as professionally as someone who has been in music and the business for 30 years. Her quality, control, and understanding of vocal nuances are something you are born with, and can hardly be taught. This is a young woman who had listened to and sang a lot of different music, I felt.
The whole karaoke crowd was stunned, and when Alex finished, she returned from professionally handling her moment, then slipped back into her seemingly shy, and sweet persona.
This was someone who matured and practiced well beyond her age. Alex Vantasel will go places I thought and told a couple of other people. Little did I know that she would release an album just a few weeks later.
Through a video, her father posted of her playing somewhere, with an Instagram handle or something I saw, and next thing you know I found her album on Spotify. So, I listened to her, and some commercials so I could keep going and came to the realization that Alex is probably a genius. Certainly a music and lyric genius. I had to own her masterpiece and so I got my copy on Amazon.
Alex handles herself very professionally, and kindly, without a breath of ego. She has to know how good she is, but she certainly doesn’t carry herself that way. I also wouldn’t say Alex is a weak persona because of being sweet and kind. From her style of fashion, I would guess Alex is not someone to tussle with. So, I see her having the tools already in place to rise in the music industry and certainly hope I can help give her a boost with the interview below.
I shared a link to her album on Amazon in the interview below. Here is my Amazon Review:
Reviewed in the United States on May 31, 2022
Beautiful, amazing, eclectic, unique, original, thought-provoking, and unlike anything you’ve heard before! Alex VanTassel’s 1st album release, “Cockroaches In My Head” shows off her incredibly talented voice, quality, tone, and control in this mesmerizing, dream-like collection of intricate melodies and bold musicianship. You might compare her to some of music’s top female vocalists over the past few decades with similar style and techniqie, such as Tori Amos, Amy Lee, or Dolores O’Riordan, but Alex Vantassel, in my opinion, has reached above and beyond those singers’ ability and I felt like she really reached and hit that place in your mind and soul that those famed singers have also attempted to reach. But, the lyrics and the melodies come from an incredible source of intelligence and full understanding of musical theory, learned, or not. Alex’s beautiful vocal abilities will blow your mind, and at the same time, scratch an itch to hear perfectly crafted songs that are very rare in today’s music world. Get to Spotify and grab your copy of her album, and listen on a good device like an Echo, so you can be fully enveloped by the power of Alex Vantassell’s touching and emotion-provoking voice and music. Included, is her own mastery of the keyboard. The first song could be a Bond Theme Song.
Colin: I listened to your album on Spotify before purchasing it on Amazon. It really spoke to me. I believe you are 17? When did you begin working on Roaches In My Head?
Alex: Thank you so much for listening! I am 16 right now. I started working on recording and arranging the songs in my album a little over a year ago. However, some of these songs were actually written years ago. For example, one of the tracks, Overcast, was actually one of the first songs I ever wrote; I think I wrote it when I was 10. My young age at the time is reflected in the lyrics, I suppose.
Colin: When did you begin singing, and how old were you when you knew you had a pure and natural talent for music, instruments, and especially singing?
Alex: Thank you for your kind words! I have been singing ever since I learned to talk. I figured out that music was my passion and something I was inclined to work hard for when I was around 13. Before that, I thought I would pursue something in the medical field when I got older. Now all I can think about is music. One thing I will say is that I don’t believe ‘natural talent’ really exists on any level that is significant. To be good at anything, you have to work very hard and be passionate. Hard work is what makes a person develop skills. You have to practice and listen and be open to criticism. Anyone who is a good performer or songwriter has put a lot of time and effort into getting where they are.
Colin: I know you play fantastic keyboards and write your own using lyrics. Do you play any other instruments, and when did you begin playing?
Alex: Thank you! I also play the drums, flute, and recorder. My very first instrument was actually the djembe; I started lessons on the hand drum at the age of four. Soon afterward I started lessons on recorder and drums. I owe my introduction to all things musical to my parents and their constant encouragement.
Colin: Your dad, Mr. Dustin Vantassel, sings as well. I was lucky to get to hear you both sing a month ago. Did he entice you to sing, or was his great voice simply an encouragement to you to sing, too?
Alex: Honestly, I believe my love for music and singing is partially genetic. I have always been inspired by my father, and also by my mother. They both grew up learning instruments and listening to many different styles of music. They are very open-minded when it comes to musical expression, which I think is why I felt so comfortable expressing myself through singing since I was very young. My father would always sing when a good song would play on the radio, and the positivity around it encouraged me to do the same.
Colin: The first song on your album, Create Time for Reflection, is a little over 5 minutes. I found myself getting lost in a mesmerizing fashion by the melody and lyrics. I had one thing going through my mind…BOND THEME song…easy! What is the background behind the song, and would you even consider being a Bond theme song singer?
Alex: Thank you, Create Time for Reflection is one of my favorites on the album, actually. Also, funny thing, I’ve been told by several people that my music is reminiscent of Bond theme songs. The first person who mentioned it did so after I played at the Apple Festival last summer. At that time, I had not watched a single Bond movie. After hearing that comment, I decided to watch some of the movies. And by some, I mean every single one, in chronological order, of course. And if I was offered something like writing a theme song for a Bond movie or being a Bond theme song singer, how could I say no? As for the background of the song, a lot of my songs are just my frustrations with aspects of the world and society put in a more poetic form. I think that many people don’t assume responsibility for problems that affect the population as a whole. They think someone else is going to take care of it. However, because we all think that way, or at least I believe the majority of people do, not enough people take action. I guess it’s a bit similar to the idea of the ‘tragedy of the commons.’ Maybe that idea resonated with me. Anyway, that’s what I was trying to say in that song. The lyric ‘I guess we never can progress, we’re always strangers,’ comes down to my frustration that not enough people work together to help in dire situations. There’s too much apathy and everyone thinks it’s not their problem when it’s really everybody’s problem.
Colin: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Alex: My earliest musical inspiration is Regina Spektor. Her songs and lyrics are so unique, and her skills as a pianist combined with her interesting melodies really form something special. I listened to her every day when I was around six or seven and got my first ever MP3 player. Later, I became enthralled with the alternative rock scene of the 90s. To me, that decade was one of the best for music, because at the time it seemed like the goal as an artist was to be different and original. There were so many great bands at the time, such as Sublime, Soundgarden, The Cranberries, Sneaker Pimps, Garbage, Nirvana, Cake, No Doubt, Green Day, Pearl Jam, the list goes on. The mainstream alternative bands would take the time during interviews to promote more underground bands, giving them more listeners and encouraging the audience to search for independent artists. I really respect that. Also, there was a huge singer/songwriter demand it seems, with artists such as Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple. The Cranberries is one of my favorite bands ever, and I was obsessed with them for a while. Dolores O’Riordan had such a beautiful voice, and the sound of the band was like no other. Their first album especially is my favorite, and my father got me into their music. I also really love Nirvana. They have so many iconic songs, and really are proof that a song can be simple and still incredible. Cobain’s lyrics are strange and distinctive and at times seem to resonate with everyone. That created a goal for me – to write something that is odd, yet still relatable somehow. I really owe my musical inspirations a lot; I feel like their influence improved my songwriting, performing, and ability to get motivated.
Colin: Have you studied music or voice, and if so, who with, or are you self-taught?
Alex: I briefly took voice lessons a few years ago. I quit because I personally did not like being told how to sing. I might pay for it later if I don’t have good technique, but I want to keep some individuality in my voice, and when taking lessons, I felt that it took some of that away. I taught myself how to play piano, though a lot of my knowledge when it comes to keyboard playing is from taking mallet percussion lessons. I take lessons for all my other instruments. I feel like teaching yourself limits you in some ways and keeps you free in others. You don’t know the rules, so you cannot follow them. Some might be helpful, and some may keep you in a box.
Colin: What are your plans for your life and/or in entertainment?
Alex: I am still figuring out my future, but all I know is that I want to pursue music as a career. My dream is being able to write and perform my own songs, but I also really enjoy playing drum and wind instrument gigs. I am trying to find myself as much music work as possible.
Colin: Where are you from?
Alex: I am from Endicott, New York.
Colin: Do you have other talents I didn’t mention?
Alex: I don’t believe so? I dance as a hobby. I also love writing poetry and short stories. I wouldn’t say these are talents really, more so just things I enjoy to do.
Colin: Do you act?
Alex: I have participated in some theater productions. I would definitely say I have a lot to learn when it comes to acting, but I did have a great time acting in roles such as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and Katherine Plumber in the production of Newsies. It would be amazing to take part in something like that again; I am thinking of auditioning for a play this summer. I have great respect for skilled actors and believe that acting is a very difficult thing to do effectively, as it takes a lot of courage and thoughtfulness.
Colin: Where do you perform live, and where can we see you next?
Alex: My next gig is at My Cuppa Coffee in Montrose on July 15th. After that, I am planning on playing at festivals such as Binghamton Porchfest, the Endicott Shakespeare Festival, and the Endicott Apple Festival. I am also playing on August 5th at the Kilmer Mansion for their First Friday event.
Colin: I believe you are Grammy-worthy for this album. But I know how hard I used to be on myself. What are your own expectations and goals?
Alex: Thank you so much, that means a lot to me. My biggest goal is just to improve and gain more experience playing and arranging. I also want to form a career around music. I am sort of a perfectionist when it comes to performing, but I always try to set realistic expectations when it comes to my capabilities. I really want to make more connections with musicians and songwriters. I only know a few songwriters right now, but I would love to meet more.
Colin: Alex, thank you very much for answering my questions, and I wish you the best in all you do.
Colin: Is there anyone important you would like to shout out to or any personal story or message you would like to share?
Alex: Well, thank you for doing this, I really appreciate it! I want to say thanks to everyone who supported me during my album release. This year has really been special to me, and very exciting, and it is because of all my friends, music teachers, and family. Thank you to my parents especially, for helping me with the album release and for helping create my first music video for Silly Shoelaces on basically no budget. I also want to say that writing and recording an album is something anyone can do. If you are passionate about music, because of the technology we have today, you can make a good quality album all by yourself. You do not need to be famous or rich to put something out there for people to listen to. Don’t let anything get in your way; finishing a big music project is satisfying and worth all the work you put into it!
There you have it. Wisdom, truth, education, and dedication. Alex Vantassel will be a household name one day, so climb aboard her rise to stardom and be her fan from the start. I can’t wait to see what more she may produce.