Toronto-based artist, Alex Porat, is exploring her multifaceted identity through her sensational talent as a singer-songwriter. She began her career on YouTube covering mainstream pop songs, eventually breaking out as a solo artist with her own unique voice. Porat’s mini-album, Miss Sick World, was unveiled on October 6 and is a beautiful testament to the 23-year-old’s personal stories and addresses issues such as race and gender. The project’s melodies coupled with her impressive vocal range provide an enchanting soundscape for listeners. S/ recently spoke with Porat about her album release, and what advice she has for anyone chasing their dreams.
How do you feel after releasing the Miss Sick World mini album?
“I’m really excited to have it out and even more excited to perform it live at the upcoming shows. It’s been so surreal because I’ve been working on it for quite a while. The whole album was released during the pandemic, so I haven’t been able to perform any of it live. The first song came out on March 11, 2020, right before the weekend when everything closed. It was a big step for me because I was so used to doing covers—it felt weird being so vulnerable—but luckily I had so much time to mentally prepare for the album to come out.”
I’m sure there have been a lot of these moments, but what’s been the best memory since you started pursuing music full time?
“Earlier this year I was at a store—I think I was thrifting—and someone asked me if I was Alex Porat and I said, ‘yes, do we know each other?’ and she said, ‘no, but I listen to your music and I love it’—we were talking for forever after that. I was also wearing a mask when she came up to me, so it was very surreal for her to know that it was me. I began to realize that the numbers I see online translate to real people, which made me so excited for when I meet everyone as I begin to hit the road. There was another incident on the subway. I had just gotten off and someone else was getting on and screamed my name and when I turned around, they yelled lyrics from one of my songs—I just couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.”
Photography by Pat Ryder.
How was the process of distancing yourself from covers to release your own compositions?
“It was definitely difficult in the beginning because the Alex that released the covers was, in a way, wearing a mask since I was singing other people’s songs, but now you’re hearing things straight from my life. It was a very hard space to get into when you’re switching genres, because even though I was still singing pop, most of the covers I sang were more acoustic—now I try to do a little bit of everything in the pop world. It’s been a journey but it’s working out well. I’m grateful that a lot of my old listeners are taking to the new music too, and they’ve been around for quite a while because a lot of them have come from YouTube.”
There’s a line in your song “Miss Sick World” where you say, “I close my eyes and I’m who I wanna be. Wake up and they won’t let me, let me.” You’ve mentioned that this song specifically refers to the adversities rooted in the Asian community, what is your advice for young people who are going through similar hardships?
“In general, for young people who are going through similar hardships I would say find the thing that keeps you motivated and the reason you’re going after your dream. I feel like it’s a constant perseverance, and sometimes it sucks, but that would be my biggest piece of advice. Find your core values behind your goals and use that to move forward, and in the meantime wait for the world to catch up.”
You’re very honest with your songwriting, how do you stay inspired?
“I like to pull song ideas from real-life experiences. It’s been harder this past year because nothing crazy is going on and I feel that going out and experiencing life outside of my bedroom is where I find most of my inspiration. For the title track “Miss Sick World” it was written in my bedroom on Zoom, so I guess things can come out of introspection too—the brain is a weird thing. I haven’t had writer’s block yet and I’m sure it’s coming at some point, but I feel as though I’ll always have something to say. If I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll put on a show or movie, my phone is full of ideas. Sometimes when a song idea hits me while I’m out, I’ll pull out the voice notes app on my phone and start singing. When I play it back at the recording studio it’ll sound nothing like what I thought it did at the time but that’s the gamble you take as a songwriter.”