It’s easy to add the label “emerging pop star” to a new artist. Any individual making pop music could be deemed that, especially given the direction the genre has been heading for the past five years and possibly longer. But with competition extremely fierce within this genre, trying to make one stand out is critical. For some, that might be wearing extravagant outfits or imitating how the rich and famous look, walk, and talk.
For others like Lexi Strate, her strategy is different. While her focus is undeniably pop, she has opted to test the genre’s and her own limits on how far to take this catchy brand of music on her debut EP, Waves. From channeling the country-pop a la really early Taylor Swift (“Tattoo”), the soul-pop akin to Mary J. Blige (“Out of My Head), and the optimistic pop like Katy Perry and Carly Rae Jepsen (“So Simple”), Strate has been able to master a sound that is radio friendly and quintessential pop music of today.
It’s not on these mainstream-oriented songs where Strate excels. Instead, it is the one electro-pop tune that stands above the rest. Like some of the new wave of indie-pop artists coming – namely Chelsea Lankes, CAPPA, and Phoebe Ryan – “Diamond Eyes” sees Strate terrifically merge electronic rhythms and an R&B vibe into a pop song. There’s less reliance on the music to carry the song, but instead Strate’s voice is front and center. And her voice – it’s sultry yet smooth and one that we hopefully will get to hear on really soulful tracks like those written by Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle. With the diverse directions that Strate has introduced on Waves, anything is possible.
Hear Waves below in its entirety in this exclusive album premiere and stream and learn why she could very well be Canada’s next big pop star – or maybe soul star. Also ready her comments about the album title and each song. A brief background on Lexi Strate follows the commentary.
Lexi Strate’s track-by-track commentary
WAVES (album title) – I chose WAVES as the title of my debut EP because it symbolizes all of the ups and downs in the music industry and everything that I’ve experienced to get me to this point in my career.
“Diamond Eyes” – This song was a pleasant surprise! We started writing the vocal on top of a track we were sent from a label. We thought the vocal was so special, so my producers and I decided to build our own track to take it to the next level. I fell in love with it even more.
“Out of My Head” – “Wish you had a heart so I could break it, wish you had money so I could take it” – Ouch! This song was a lot of fun to write because I got to bring out my inner Carrie Underwood (“Before He Cheats”).
“Tattoo” – “Good thing that you went and screwed me over, like ‘oh my gosh’ it could have been so much worse!” – This is a fun, light-hearted song about looking back at a relationship and being thankful that you got out of it. It’s one of my favourites to perform.
“Miss Me” – I thought we were finished this song long ago. Then less than two weeks before releasing the EP, musical genius, Ari Rhodes, completely stripped it down and re-created it into exactly what it was meant to be.
“So Simple” – It’s an amazing feeling when you find someone who always brings you happiness and it feels so natural and easy… It happened to me and I just had to write about it!
“Antidote” – This song was inspired by one of my favourite artist’s songs – Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t”.
“Miss Me (Remix)” – This was actually the original version of Miss Me. We worked backwards. Confusing I know!
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Brief Background on Lexi Strate
Originally born in Calgary but having grown up in a small town outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Lexi Strate grew up watching YouTube covers, which only fueled her dreams of becoming a pop star. With a rich, rasp-filled, and sensually soulful, Strate’s big break came in 2012 when she was named the Winner of the Edmonton Virgin Radio Star Competition, after which she traveled to Vancouver to work with chart-topping songwriter Mike James (Kelly Rowland, Kreesha Turner, Shilo). The collaboration resulted in the release of her first single, “Turning Point” in Vancouver, which received airplay across Canada.
Lexi’s next track, “Unstoppable”, was released in 2013 and was featured on CW’s TV series Beauty & The Beast. Her third single, “All For You”, which was co-written with Mike James, Stef Lang (Mr. Immature) and Davey Badiuk (Dragonette), would also be played nationally, and it was featured in the hit TV Sci-Fi series Continuum and popular Canadian series Degrassi: The Next Generation. Strate now shares her first EP, Waves, a compilation of seven songs that reflects the influences of her YouTube-watching, teenage years and the people she’s encountered since pursuing music as her career.
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