Art: Brekken Selah
Interview by: Isabella Vega
SKANDRA, the bold moniker for singer/songwriter Alexandra Duparc rose to fame after going Tik-Tok viral on her husband's account. Based in Paris but splitting her time between there and Los Angeles, SKANDRA creates music that combines the mindsets of both countries and shows the poetic sensibility of a future supernova. SKANDRA was kind enough to speak with us on her upcoming album, how she lives her franco/american life with love, and a few unreleased lyrics.
Isabella: How would you describe your musical style?
SKANDRA: I’d say Skandra is a mix of bedroom music and synth pop. I always start by writing things very minimally and then producing from there. I think this may be exactly why anyone would resonate with it. It starts in my heart.
Isabella: Tell us the story behind your stage name!
SKANDRA: I’m half Russian and my Russian name is Sasha. Since I tend to associate that name with Beyoncé now, I went with a Scandinavian version of it: SKANDRA.
Isabella: Do you try to separate you as Alexandra, the private person, and you as “SKANDRA”, the musical artist? Or do you believe they’re more or less the same?
SKANDRA: They’re slowly becoming one in the same! I’ve noticed I’ll say Skandra when they ask my name at coffee houses or when I’m on the phone with someone about my music. I do prefer the name.
Isabella: You split your time between Paris and LA. It has been said that the French have a certain “je ne sais quoi” about them, a more carefree and intentional way to live.
Do you agree with that statement?
SKANDRA: I do! I think there’s this mystique Americans associate with Parisians and being married to one and spending so much time there, I’ve dissected it quite a bit. There’s a tough veneer you must have to survive in Paris and then you have romantics who see that as a game. So, you have this blasé attitude to be tough and these romantics trying to break through it. I think the mixture of these creates a very interesting culture that sets the mood you describe.
Isabella: How do you “intentionally live”, especially in such crazy times?
SKANDRA: I go in and out of it, I have to say. I’ll have weeks where I cannot put my guitar or pen down. I’ll be making content, writing on everything, feeling so inspired to create. Then, there’ll be weeks where it all feels a bit pointless and I’m hard on myself. I think this is normal for any artist. These crazy times seem to amplify it with no social life. It doesn’t give you much of a chance to step away. I think 2021 is going to be a better year for all of us.
Isabella: What are your favorite attributes/things you carry with you from both places?
SKANDRA: I really love food. I love growing it, cooking it, and I love when it’s organic and whole. French food, from the cafes to the grocery stores is the best. I strive to find this quality everywhere. The delusional goals I seem to have as someone from Los Angeles is something I carry with me and cannot seem to let go of. It’s completely this city’s fault!
Isabella: Which one of your songs was the most exciting to make?
SKANDRA: Out of the three I’ve released - I’d say I was most excited about “Ashes”. I think it’s because it’s really just a poem I’m reading. I found it challenging to keep interesting enough to have you listen to the end for the pay off. I really loved this challenge. This song also just feels so authentically me.
Isabella: Can you tell us anything about an upcoming album?
SKANDRA: I’ve recorded nearly seven new songs and I’m hoping to have some ready for release by Spring! It’s been quite a process being that I have high standards for them and I’m doing this all independently.
Isabella: How has your writing process progressed from when you were 14 and won the National Poetry Contest to now?
SKANDRA: Back then, it was all about finding my voice. I could really feel myself sifting through insecurities and hesitating with every word. Now, I just write. I know my voice and how it works. I know what feels right. Writing is a very, very satisfying and cathartic thing for me.
Isabella: Is poetry still an important part of your life?
SKANDRA: Always. I write hundreds of poems per year. Mostly for myself. Just to let something out.
Isabella: What is your favorite lyric that you have ever written?
SKANDRA: I haven’t officially recorded it yet but it’ll end up in a song one day.
“The night lives inside of me in the way of the moon; I’ve got a dark side to everything but I can light up a room.”
Isabella: How are you staying true to yourself in your music and in the music industry?
SKANDRA: In all the major label conversations I had this year, I reiterated over and over again that I want to keep my team and I only want to sign a contract that guarantees that I can make art for the rest of my life. Anything else sounds like appeasing industry gods and I just don’t believe in that structure.
Isabella: Do you feel, since you were an artist who went viral very quickly, that there is a pressure to push out songs? How do you make every song special and fight the industry standard “pushing out music because the public demands it”?
SKANDRA: Absolutely! I’m dealing with that right now. I’m drowning in pressure and I’m trying to keep my head above it. I have only released 3 songs! They’re 3 songs I never, in a million years, thought would bring me this much attention. So, I do feel that whatever I put out next has to be the right evolution. Maybe it’s all the anime I watched in 2010, but the pressure to level up is very real. I must remember that the entire point of art is to communicate what you want to, and the way you want to. It’s about making something you believe in. So, I remind myself of this constantly. It’s important.