After David Sneddon won the 1st Edition of Fame Academy the hopes weren't high for the 2nd series, but when Alex Parks delivered a flawless version of Coldplay's "Yellow" it was clear that we had a real unique talent on our hands. The album "Introduction..." turned out to be a product of the TV Show littered in cover versions, but the singles "Maybe What It Takes" and "Cry" show what we can expect from the forthcoming proper album. We caught up with Alex to discuss why guitars are being thrown out of the studio in favour of synths.
Q: We were hoping to speak to you before Xmas about
this - you came second (behind Alesha Misteeq) in the Sexiest Female Category
in our Best Of 2003 issue
A: Did I, oh my god!!! It's made my day. I never thought of myself as being sexy, but now I will. Now i'll become a sexy diva. I think if I was voting for it i'd have to go for Fergie out of Black Eyed Peas, everyone's after her aren't they?
Q: Starting this year must be amazing when you consider
this time last year you were probably just sat at home twiddling your thumbs.
A: Yep, this time last year I had no job and was absolutely skint. I was really panicking about what I was going to do and trying to pretend that I loads of really cool plans. The thought of them was really great, but getting round to doing them never actually happened. I was sat there watching This Morning everyday and now i'm that busy I just want my day back. I'm really excited though to be getting into the New Year and writing the album and stuff, that's just what i've wanted. I wish that in a way it would have been great if I could have come out and gone straight into it, but it just wasn't possible. Now, it is the thing.
Q: When you won Fame Academy the BBC must have thought
they'd bitten off more than they could chew cos you're not the typical
A: ...that they're used to. I don't think they were too happy. They don't own me, but the interview that you're talking about was completely terrible anyway. It was just taken out of context and made me sound really ungrateful which is not the case, but I was trying to get my point across which is that it's not all strawberries and cream. I couldn't give a f**k about the flat, I didn't go into the competition to win the flat. I went into to get the record deal, so as far as i'm concerned that's all that matters.
Q: Out the Fame Academy contestants we've got someone
like you and then on the other side we've got a guy like Peter who
is totally into the lifestyle.
A: Yeah, exactly. We're not that extreme, but I just say what I think. Were still friends and we talk and we still get on, but it's a different world in that house and I just think Pete changed a lot, I think the whole experience taught people a lot of things, and he loves it. Some people are complete extroverts and get a buzz out of it and I get a buzz out of it, but not as much as Pete does.
I don't do clubs, I prefer to stay in or go out with my
mates. If I do go out I don't want to go anywhere where I know paparazzi's
going to be standing outside cos I don't want to be in the Mirror in the
Sneaky page or whatever it's called.
Q: Do you ever get the chance to go home now or are
you a city girl?
A: I'm always in London. I went home at Christmas and that was really cool. I got to go back to my local and the beach and stuff. But i'm up here trying to find places to go and familiarize myself with it...just get a bit of a circle going, yer know.
Over Christmas I was just totally relaxing because or couldn't have done anything else, at the end of the year I was just so tired and that is probably the only break i'm gonna get all year so i took full advantage of it. We went on a few writing trips for work and I was really pleased with what came out. It's just at such early stages and we've got some really good writers we're working with. It's just really exciting to be doing the new album.
Q: How do look back at "Introducion...". For many people
it was the typical Fame Academy style album with the obligatory covers.
Did you want to wait to write a proper album?
A: I don't think we could have waited to be honest. I think it would have been silly if we had and it would have been for the wrong reasons whether we wanted to wait or not. It had to done like that. It was a shame though because the covers had to go on...cos otherwise it would have had to be a whole album of covers or a rushed album of original songs which could have been done and I wouldn't have got slated for putting covers on there. That's what Fame Academy was about - we went up and performed covers every week - and that's what people liked you for.
Q: But in terms of being an artist you're enjoying
writing your own material now?
A: Completely. That's all I want to. I'm working with Rick Knowles which is really exciting and Dianne Warren so we've got some cool people going on. I haven't got anything sorted yet in terms of a single, but i'm only gonna decide it when i've got like 70 in front of me. That's the thing. I might go on this writing trip with Rick Knowles or whoever and nothing might come out (laughs), but that's the fun of it. You can't force it.
You've just got to try different things. I'm trying to walk away from guitars at the moment. I keep walking into studios and going I don't wanna see a guitar!!! I'm into more alternative stuff at the moment. I'm into lyrics and melody really. I'm not into the music side, I just haven't got the ability to write good enough songs. But I think the lyrics will suit a completely different sound. I really like the Zero 7 sound - a bit more synthy and ambient.
I'm really happy with the two writers we've got already,
but I'd really love to work with Annie Lennox as well. Could that happen?
Maybe. I hope so.
Q: Tell our readers about your new single "Cry", it's
about your mum isn't it?
A: It's about me and mum really and about our relationship. I mean any up and down mother / daughter relationship really. With me growing up and her not being able to handle it, cos i'm the last of four as well so it's quite a big thing for her. It's about that really.
Q: You looked up to your mum. Do you feel like a role
model to young girls at all?
A: You know what, it's scary but I do sometimes. When I meet really little girls they come and ask for your autograph or something and you think Oh My God, what must it mean to them. I don't think of myself as a popstar or even being famous or whatever you want to call it, but when you meet them their faces say everything. You just know you've made their day or week and they won't forget it for a while...and you think god you're gonna want to cut your hair short and wear ripped jeans and your mums gonna go mad, you're gonna turn gay and smoke. It's quite a lot of pressure and I don't know whether I'm the best to do this job. I do like the fact that kids look up to me, but it does worry me.
Q: It's nice to have someone like you than the Holly
Valance types though isn't it?
A: I don't know whether parent's quite see it the same way. I think it is good for music that people like myself and Michelle can come out top, but to be honest I haven't heard any evidence that Michelle is going to do anything that different music wise. Obviously she is completely different from what people generalize Pop Idol as and I think it's wicked she won. I voted for her, but let's see how it goes, the music business is a bit dodgy isn't it - I don't know what's going to happen.
"Cry" is out on February 16th. The album "Introduction..." is already out
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