Creating fuels Alexandra Sedlak. Whether it’s music or film, she’s not afraid to push boundaries and explore. As we continue celebrating Women’s History Month, I wanted to feature this award winning filmmaker, actor, singer-songwriter and business owner. She’s been releasing singles over the past couple of years and producing and directing music videos as well. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Nashville’s been home for a while now. It’s where she met her creative collaborator, Warren Smythe while they were both working at a small record label on Music Row. She currently co-owns and operates Nashville-based production company, GOLDFOX.
AnaLee: With so many outlets for creativity, do you have a favorite or a “first love”?
Alexandra: I get asked that question a lot! The truth is that music was technically my first love. I grew up in a family where music was pretty central to any gathering or weekend spent at home. My dad used to be a musician, and his band actually got to open for Alice Cooper back in the 1970s. He had these record collections and vintage guitars lining the walls of the basement, and he was (still is) a Beatles fanatic. He would always sing harmony parts to their songs, and at some point, I started doing the same. My brother was insane at piano from a very early age, just naturally gifted, and we would often play together. We probably played, “Heart and Soul” thousands of times, taking turns riffing and each making up intricate solo parts. We probably drove my parents nuts. To this day I love playing little songs I made up as a kid whenever I’m near a piano. I started consciously writing my own songs as young as 8 years old or so, and I actually started voice and dance lessons when I was 6. That particular vocal coach was one of the best in the area; she used to train Broadway vocalists and actors. She was really the first to push me way out of my comfort zone. I remember my stomach being in knots before lessons, and even crying before some recitals, but I eventually got over that. I really won’t ever forget her, because as shy as I was, she took a chance on me and took me under her wing. I barely knew how to read at that age, so she was simultaneously teaching me how to read, how to decipher sheet music, and essentially teaching me about character development and how singing a song is the same thing as telling a story. She helped me get an audition for the Ohio Children’s Theatre at that time, and I landed my first official acting role. I think I got bit by the acting bug big time after that. So, I see all of my creative interests and outlets as working together in a way; they are different mediums of expression, but one without the other would not be nearly as colorful for me.
AnaLee: You’ve written about anxiety, depression and PTSD in both film and music. Your feature film, Trigger, with Warren Smythe, received Official Selection at the 2019 RiverRun International Film Festival, Official Selection at the 2019 50th Anniversary Nashville Film Festival, and won the Grand Jury Prize. Last year, you were selected as a winning artist in the ThunderWorks, "Artists Against Anxiety" contest for your original song, "Kitty Girl." Can you talk about what drives you to create awareness for these mental health issues?
Alexandra: The discussion on mental health is near and dear to my heart, because I understand the depths and complexities of it on such a personal level. Anxiety, Depression and trauma-related issues are so pervasive and I think it’s all bubbling to the surface right now for a reason. You can only suppress something for so long, whether that’s collectively as a society, or on an individual level. So, I have a lot of empathy for others out there who are struggling. I would love to find ways to help people, even if that’s just talking about my journey and how I’ve been moving through it. I’ve always been a sensitive person and felt different in a lot of ways growing up. I think losing my brother in 2011 was probably the event that pushed me over the edge; it was the beginning of years spent battling my mind basically, and it manifested itself in so many physical ways that truly terrified me. It sounds dramatic, and in my experience it was. In some ways I feel like I’m on the other side of that to some degree, but I still have my days and my moments. It may sound trite, but we really don’t know what other people are going through. We have to look beyond the surface to figure out what’s really going on.
AnaLee: I wanted to link to two of your songs today, first your recent single, “Sideways”, a collaboration with Warren Smythe. Tell us a little about this song and your creative partnership with Warren.
Alexandra: Warren and I met in June of 2013 and we have been collaborating ever since. It was just the two of us in the creative department at this small label on music row, and we ultimately became best friends. I was wearing many hats at the label as creative director, basically managing the publishing side of things, pitching songs and getting cuts, as well as singing some of the demos and even providing background vocals for other artists in town. Warren was an amazing cinematographer who was hired to shoot music videos for the label. So, we partnered up and basically came up with all the concepts for various video projects ranging from music videos and commercials to documentaries…etc. and we found our groove in terms of producing and directing together. I remember a turning point happened when Warren mentioned a personal film project that he wanted to revisit. He had a script but he wanted to start from scratch. He knew I was an actor, so we basically agreed that I would portray one of the lead characters once he started production. I told him I would do it under one condition: if he let me write the script with him. After some time, he agreed and that was the beginning of Goldfox. We have collaborated on so many projects by now that I lose track. This song came out of the blue for us. Back in December of 2020 I wanted to record one of my songs over the course of one weekend (what I thought would be my next single), but magic happened and here we are. Warren was strumming some chords and I thought I heard him sing the words, “I cried sitting in your driveway.” I was like “we’re writing this song right now.” He already had a couple lines, and I basically took that and wrote the rest of the song that afternoon. It was recorded and finished by the following night.
AnaLee: I love the video for one of your older songs, “Silver”. It’s like a mini movie. I really care about what happens with this character! Plus, it’s a great song. Did you direct this one as well as write and sing the song?
Alexandra: Thank you! Yes! I had such a blast with it. We actually shot it back in 2017, but it took me a minute to release it. I told Warren that I wanted to shoot something weird for the video, something with a nostalgic feel to it. I had some ideas, but we really didn’t 100% land on the concept until the day of the shoot! I wouldn’t recommend doing things that way, but it worked out for us in this case. We brainstormed the concept as we were driving to set, and everything fell into place kind of perfectly. Our friend Andrew agreed to play the main character. I felt like he had this iconic look that I wanted to highlight, and with the long hair…it felt very 70s to me. He also happens to look a lot like Warren, so I thought it would be perfect if Warren played the part of the older brother. They already knew each other and had a comfortable chemistry, so we had a ton of fun playing with it.
AnaLee: Do you have any plans to compile these single releases into an ep or album?
Alexandra: I am planning on releasing a full-length album in October of this year. It’s a project that I started really formulating back in 2016, but I’m happy that I waited because it has evolved into something greater than what I think it would have been if I made it years ago. I’ve been through more changes and crazy life experiences within that time, as well as personal growth as an artist, so I think it’s all working out in a really beautiful way.