We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Nester and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I don’t feel like I chose an artist/creative career. Instead, I feel like it chose me. When I was in third grade I auditioned and got the lead in my school play. I had wanted to be an actor before that, and was stoked at the chance to play a lead role on stage. I also had a solo. That solo changed my life. I went to a small school so we only had one performance, which was pretty much for all our parents. I got a bit nervous before the show started, but when I sang that solo something changed. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of such great joy. It was an elation I didn’t know could exist. I still get that feeling today. Such great joy and peace from being exactly where I belong and doing exactly what I’m meant to do. It’s like my soul found it’s home. After that little solo in third grade I knew I wanted to sing and make music. It became my life in that very instant. A year later I started working in the studio.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Every voice is unique and every story is unique. The life I’ve lived and the people who have been in my life or crossed my path have shaped me into the person I am today. My cancer diagnosis at age 16 definitely fueled my songwriting by expanding the depth of my knowledge of everything from hope to devastation. Love and compassion came to the forefront of my heart, and I experienced another level of joy and gratitude for music—whether I was playing or listening. I also had incredible mentors. My dad got me into jazz and blues, my mom played me funk and Motown. Then, when I began working in the studio, my dear friend Robby Robinson took the potential he saw in me and helped me grow and grow and grow. Currently I am super excited for the release of my third full length album, “Someone Better”. I am indescribably proud of it, and I love it with all my heart and soul. The album is being released one song at a time because it is also a visual album. Getting to this place in my life and in my career was not easy by a long shot. Just as the highs are life giving, the lows are soul crushing. There have been times where I worked so hard I felt it was almost impossible not to succeed…but for one reason or another, that opportunity just wasn’t in the cards for me. It was such a difficult road that I spent most of my twenties questioning whether or not music was actually my purpose here. Every time I turned around there was another singer who was younger, better, prettier…and succeeding far past where I currently was. It was devastating. To me, every one of their successes meant a failure for me. Every great new singer meant one less place for me. It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, but it’s how I felt for a very long time. The title song “Someone Better” is actually about this time in my life, and I feel like it sums up one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. Truth is, no one else’s successes diminish my own. All artists should be celebrated, and they are there to inspire, not to compete with. With music, just like life, we’re all in this together. If there’s anything I want the world to know about me it’s that I put everything into my music. My heart, my soul, and my entire existence. My music is made with pure love, and I pray that that love is felt in a powerful way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This question makes me miss live music so badly! If I ever wanted to show someone around town I would definitely start with live music! I am blessed to play with such great musicians as in my own band, The Urban Renewal Project, Sara Niemietz, and Twisted Gypsy, and I love sharing those experiences with the people I love. I also know tons of crazy talented musicians and bands who always put on a great show, like Cliff Beach, Westside Wisemen, Noble Creatures, Jessica Childress, Dirty Honey… And if we couldn’t find a friend of mine playing locally we could go to one of any number of amazing local venues like NABU Wines, Sagebrush Cantina, or Harvelle’s down in Santa Monica. I love that there—well, there used to be—live music everywhere. I’d definitely take them to the beach, too. I’ve become partial to Port Hueneme. It’s beautiful and much less crowded than, say, Malibu. After that we could jet on down to the Cat Cafe Lounge! Yes, you read that right—I would take my friend to a local cat cafe!! It was so fun to hang out and play with all the kitties, and I actually adopted a sweet little kitty named Lillian from there last year. Come to think of it, the cat cafe might be a little dangerous for me…I already have three cats… As for food, there are a couple great places I’d love to take them. The first is In N Out, because…well…it’s In N Out! The food is always incredible, and it’s so much fun to dip your fries into your shake! For a nicer restaurant I’d take them to Din Thai Fung. They serve the most unbelievable dumplings. My husband Eddy and I even went there for our 10 year wedding anniversary because we loved it so much! After dumplings, a trip to Wanderlust Creamery is a must. They serve the most delectable artisan ice cream in an array of very interesting flavors. One day would have to be dedicated to doughnuts. Going to Voodoo Doughnuts is like a right of passage as far as I’m concerned. They’re even fully licensed to do weddings (yep—weddings!) so my husband and I actually renewed our vows at one of the original locations in Portland some years ago! Some other drool-worthy doughnut shops include Dot & Dough, Randy’s, Blue Star Donuts, and Donas.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The phrase “it takes a village” is definitely no joke! I have been so incredibly blessed by the people in my life who’ve gotten me to where I am. My wonderful husband Eddy, my loving parents… But I want to dedicate this shoutout to my best friend, Katie Brown. Katie has been a major force of good and love in my life. She is always at my shows, singing along in the audience to all of my original songs. She is my makeup artist and has made me feel so beautiful in my music videos, pictures, and on stage. I know she loves my music just as much as I do, which is a tremendous feeling. Katie has been a huge source of songwriting inspiration for me as well. She has congenital heart disease (a lot of which is very rare), but she has never let it stop her from living a life she loves. She is a powerful force, and I am in awe of her strength, courage, and her incredible capacity to love and care for others. Four years ago this month, she went in for a very dangerous and complicated open heart surgery. It was a surgery that took us all on a very terrifying path, and there were several times we thought we had lost her for good. I spent nearly every day of her month long hospital stay with her by her bedside, and stayed overnight with her almost every other night. Looking back, as scary as it was, I was so thankful to have someone I loved so much to be able to do that for…and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. That time led me through a surreal path of emotions, and one night while sitting next to her hospital bed, I started to jot down some thoughts and lyrics. Since that time I have written quite a few songs about my experience, one of which I just released entitled “Open Heart”. Given we just passed the anniversary of her surgery, I felt Katie was the perfect person to dedicate my shoutout to. She is my best friend, my sister, a huge source of support and inspiration, and I am beyond grateful she is still here with us. Katie, I love you boo boo!!
@chicano_slice, Chad Tasky, Michael Delmonte, Rose Weng, Rose Weng