Alexandria Pickell’s unnaturally blonde hair, spider-like eyelashes, and unconventional sense of style demand attention upon first glance. So much so that her alter ego as part-time indie pop-rocker Alex Sloane is practically exposed to the world.
Sloane, a first-year English student, additionally distinguishes herself among the many student musicians present on campus with her recent successes. Having performed at the Whisky A Go Go in October, Sloane is set to once again take the stage at the Whisky A Go Go Saturday night at 7 p.m.
“My performance there on Oct. 17 was my first time performing backed by a full band, and the biggest place I ever played, so it was a definitive step forward,” Sloane said.
Sloane began her career as the guitarist of an all-female rock band composed of elementary school friends while playing in an after-school music program at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, Calif. during elementary school. However, it wasn’t until she turned 16 that she became confident in her desire to pursue music. It was then that Sloane decided to release a solo five-song EP titled “Awakening” and transitioned to performing daily on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.
“I think part of me was kind of scared to admit that I wanted to pursue music, ’cause you don’t want to say ‘Hey, I’m going to be a starving artist for the rest of my life,’” Sloane said. “But then when I was 16, I realized, ‘Okay, I actually want to do this.’”
Sloane’s natural drive was apparent from the start, said Howard Anderson, her instructor at Sierra Canyon’s after-school music program.
“She’s very intense, very focused,” Anderson said. “You could tell she really wanted to be good, more so than the other kids. And these were pretty talented kids, too, but you could tell she wanted it.”
Sloane began to perform in front of a band to further advance her career this summer after several gigs as a solo restaurant performer. As a result of the addition to her act, Sloane transitioned from the indie-folk sound apparent in “Awakening” and her first album, “Everlasting,” to a pop-rock style.
“I was looking towards playing bigger venues and I couldn’t be playing at the Whisky as just one person, so I started a band with my friends, and the sound just kind of changed because of all these people joining it,” Sloane said. “I think I was ready to switch over, though.”
Despite working with a band, however, Sloane maintains the sound that she hopes to achieve for the group as a whole, while simultaneously incorporating new ideas from her band members, said Andres Lopez, the drummer of the Sloane’s backing band.
“She’s really been open-minded to people’s opinions, and it’s always great to work with someone who can do that,” said Lopez. “She does all the lyric writing and she’ll come up with a general idea of what to do on the guitar. We have an electric guitar and bassist that follow along, and then I come up with a beat and we all contribute.”
Sloane said her music generally comes together as a result of the combination of individual “bits” of music that she writes down as she is playing on the guitar or going through her daily routine. In addition, she derives her lyrics from her interest in poetry.
“I actually write a lot of poetry. I’m an English major because I like to write. So what I’ve done sometimes is that I’ll write a poem first, and then write a song based on the poem … that’s how some of my lyrics came to be,” Sloane said.
Sloane said she hopes to be able to simply support herself and her passion through her music.
“I want to be able to sustain myself of off my music,” Sloane said. “I hope it can take me to the point where I can have both financial security and creative freedom, which is often difficult to achieve in mainstream pop culture.”