Aidan Alexander tells HollywoodLife how singing about being ‘corrupt’ in his new song, ‘the hills,’ is both pushing you to have ‘fun’ while being a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ commentary about the Hollywood Hills.
If you’re “tired of being good,” Aidan Alexander is here to enable your “evil twin” in his new song. “I’ve always, since pretty much birth, been like very cynical. And that is not a good trait. I’m not romanticizing that. But I’ve always been like a skeptic,” Aidan admits to HollywoodLife. “Playing into that” cynicism in himself and others in the entertainment industry, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Idaho put a fun twist on this “darkness” and created his “tongue-in-cheek” new song, “the hills,” which dropped on March 5.
In “the hills,” Aidan pretends to be the “archetype” of the jaded celebrity living in the Hollywood Hills. Think Bojack Horseman — unlike the animated sitcom star, however, Aidan clarified that he penned the track from his 700-foot apartment and not a mansion overlooking Los Angeles. But just like Bojack, Aidan indulges in “the dark side of Hollywood” as he sings in the chorus, “Maybe I’m corrupt / But I can’t get enough.”
“I think obviously, who you are is way more important than what you look like and the things you have. But I really wanted to just play into the cynicism that a lot of people in Hollywood or New York or the entertainment industry as a whole kind of — some of them, I should say — share,” Aidan tells HollywoodLife. And while these people may have been Aidan’s source of inspiration, the song is for everyone (even if you’re stuck in the suburbs at the bottom of a hill). “It’s supposed to be a fun song. It’s supposed to be your evil twin moment, where you’re just like, ‘God, I’m tired of being good,’ you know?,” he explains. “That’s kind of what this is. And that’s what I hope [fans] can take from that.”
“The hills” isn’t just about the Hollywood Hills in the literal sense. The wealthy area that Aidan refers to throughout his chorus is also an “allegory,” he says. “To me, it’s like just being up in space…they’re these coveted, coveted slots of land and houses in the hills that are very sought after, very hard to get, and you’re literally quite literally looking down on all of LA,” Aidan explains. “It’s like, the physicality of like being up above someone on both and altitude and just in feeling superior out that I feel even close to superior to anyone. It’s just that sense of like, once you’re in the hills, you’re untouchable. You’re so far above everyone and everything else.”
Aidan makes it clear, however, that the song is meant to be a “satirical” commentary through the POV of someone living on top of this hill. He does offer his honest thoughts about the downsides of Los Angeles, though, where he moved to when he was only 15 years old. “I’m totally fed up with all the pleasantries and small talks and dinners that don’t mean anything, you know, and I feel like a lot of the things in LA are just like, hollow. That’s one of the only ways I feel like I can describe it,” he tells us. “It’s like the John Green novel about there just being paper towns…it’s this city that is like a glorified soundstage. Everything in it is so manicured and everything needs to be so perfect. Or at least a lot of people fall into that belief…it’s me kind of saying [in the song], ‘Is this really all we’re caring about?’ While saying, ‘This is all we’re caring about,’ if that makes sense.”
In the rest of our interview with Aidan, the singer shares more about the creative process that went into making “the hills,” the inspiration behind his other new song “the end of the world,” his plans in music and acting and more:
HollywoodLife: I’ve read in past interviews that your songs always start as poems. And was that how “the hills” began? As a poem?
Aidan: Yes and no. So, most of the time it starts as poetry…if I’m in a session every day for a week, you run out of things that you’ve written, especially poetry…[“This song”] was written sonically…and we finished this really quick. It was the first time I’d worked with this production duo, Slaters. They’re out of Brooklyn but they had flown into Hollywood and had reached out, saying they wanted to do a session. And they’re amazing. And I think that we had close to finished production and the whole thing written — and, here was no other writer in the room, it’s just me and he was producing — it was done I think in like, three, four hours. So it came about really quick, but I think it’s just because it’s been a poem in my head that I’ve been, you know, writing and added to for so long. Just this collection of notes and observations I have mentally about the things around me and, you know, myself…I dipped into like that and a place that I’ve been multiple times before.
HollywoodLife: Now I want to talk about the last song you dropped. Besides the obvious answer of the pandemic, what made you set out to write and sing “the end of the world?”
Aidan: So yeah, the pandemic was the big inspiration. You know, it was very apocalyptic. So I was like, ‘Let’s exaggerate with this one, ladies.’ But on a different note, I just isolate myself. It’s something I’ve done forever. I am not the person that when they’re upset, they want to like be with people. I want to be alone. That’s always how it’s been…as I said, it’s isolating. And so this song was kind of supposed to be kicking open that door to just like a roomful of people I’ve been putting off, or people that love me and I love that I’ve isolated myself from and being like, ‘Here I am. I don’t want to be a hermit anymore.’”
HollywoodLife: I was actually going to ask about that, because I read in a past statement that you hate letting people in. And was “the end of the world” kind of like your way of overcoming that? How do you approach that in music, since that’s arguably all about letting people in?
Aidan: I mean, it’s not overcome…[laughs] still working on it. But yeah, this song was supposed to be me saying, you know, ‘I’m trying and I noticed this and I recognized [that.]’ And I know that that’s a shared trait a lot of people have, so it was cool seeing the response other people had to that. But, yeah no, I definitely think that I take that approach to songwriting a lot in terms of just writing about exactly, exactly how I view myself, even if that isn’t always positive. So there’s some of that in “the end of the world.” There’s some of that in “the hills.” There’s some of that in “melancholia.”
HollywoodLife: Okay, I have to ask. Was the end of the world in any way inspired by that Steve Carell and Keira Knightley movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World?
Aidan: It’s funny you f—ing said that, it was. So I’m a sucker for just like, one liners or idioms or like, phrases. I know that isn’t really an idiom, but I just, I love Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. It like gave me “wanted poster” vibes…when I went to the session, I was like, “Did you guys see that Keira Knightley movie?” And I was like, “It has a really killer title.” So we definitely ran with that.
HollywoodLife: And so for you, how’s the end of the world looked like given that we’re now over a year into the pandemic?
Aidan: Tsunamis — no, I’m kidding. [laughs] I think that it’s it’s looking up, you know. Hopefully, everybody who needs vaccines first gets them so that people who are lower risk like me can start getting them as well so that we can start to return to a normal life. I definitely think it’s important to let you know, health care workers and teachers and every one that’s in like, an essential field to get vaccinated first, because you know, obviously, they’re limited…it’s obviously not ending, I think it’s looking up. So I think that the end of the world to me is is looking like, if anything, we’re gonna rebuild a bit stronger.
HollywoodLife: I like the optimism.
Aidan: Welcome change.
HollywoodLife: And I wanted to talk more about your acting. You last acted in the series Play by Play? Can you tell me more about the show and your role?
Aidan: Yeah, so it actually just came to Roku TV. I think it’s one of the future shows. I found that out because I bought a Roku TV and I was in Best Buy and all the Rokus were just playing the trailer. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, me with a middle part. I need a trigger warning.’ But yeah, I mean, the show is about a sports announcer. Reid Miller, who’s a great friend of mine, he’s super talented. And me, I played Matt French, his best friend. And we’re both just throughout the show, we’re commenting on these like high school football players. It’s like The Wonder Years meets Friday Night Lights. It’s a really cool vibe. It’s set in the ’90s. I get to rock a very interesting, bordering on frightening, middle part. And it was freezing. We shot it in Des Moines in Iowa for like three months and a lot of the shoots are overnight and we were in football get-ups (or like shorts and button-ups, in my case). It was like negative eight degrees, if you spit on the ground it would just freeze. So that was a bit traumatizing. I lost all my toes over that shoot. But no, it was an amazing experience. So if you guys have a Roku, check it out.
HollywoodLife: Awesome. And can you tell us any more acting projects? Or are you focusing more on music at the current moment?
Aidan: Music has definitely been a massive priority for me. It’s taken up — gratefully — a lot, a lot of time. But no, I still am actively working on a lot of acting stuff that I hopefully get to talk more about in the future.
HollywoodLife: I’m also curious, you were really big into YouTube and Vine. And do you have the same feelings towards TikTok?
Aidan: I was like 14 on Vine. So this will follow me for the rest of my life, I’m afraid. But yeah, I just did it because I was I thought it was funny. I grew up making little videos and burning them to CDs and then going and buying like a dollar movie from the store and then taking out the cover and drawing my own and slipping it in and making my own little DVD case. So like to me, Vine was just doing that in like a way easier way. I could like make my own little movie and it was the same with YouTube. But then, you know, just it was never really my passion so it’s hard to continue doing something that is such hard work, really. I feel like there’s this huge stigma around influencers, that they’re like not real celebrities or blah blah blah.
But you know I’m friends with these people who just work their a– off, to put it frankly. And so, if that isn’t your passion, that’s really grueling work. So yeah, I think my thoughts are still the same. TiKTok is something else. I watch TikToks but posting is…it’s terrifying. Those kids on TikTok are mean…they’re so mean. You like, you blink weird and they’re like, [mocks laughter], “Ugly. You have a fat head.” I’m like “Okay, damn.”…Someone told me I look like a Sim!
HollywoodLife: And you said you used to make little CDs of yourself acting. Could you talk more about that?
Aidan: It wasn’t always me acting. Sometimes it was me holding a — like an action figure, me kind of moving them and I’d be like doing voices from the other side of the camera. And then I would burn them. It was less of the content of these, in quote, “films.” It was more so I loved the final copy. Like I love holding a DVD case, you know, the rectangular ones before streaming took over. And just like having this little paper folded in the sleeve on the front, so it has its own little cover, and then you open it and the DVD is there. And if you play it, it’s something I made, you know, I guess that was — that was really what was appealing about it to me.
HollywoodLife: That really reminds me. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Me Earl and the Dying Girl, but like that’s all they did in the book.
Aidan: Yeah, I read that really — when I was a little younger than that. Theirs’ were way better than mine. Mine was like, in Idaho there’s nothing to do. So I’ll do it for like an hour and then spent two hours packaging it.
HollywoodLife: Well, it’s all about the packaging.
Aidan: Exactly, my marketing brand.
HollywoodLife: And okay my question: what else can you tease about your upcoming music projects?
Aidan: I can say that after “the hills,” there’s a song coming that is one of probably in my top two favorites I’ve ever written. I also really really love the hills. So it’s hard there. It’s just like the polar opposite of anything I’ve ever released. So I’m excited. I’m nervous. But I think that it’s — it’s very vulnerable. And I hope people — I hope people enjoy it. Also, I’m obviously working towards a bigger body of music. No dates yet, but I’m definitely working on an EP and I want it out as soon as it can be out.
HollywoodLife: Actually I also wanted to ask, are you looking to tour once things settle down in the world?
Aidan: Yeah. I love meeting people. I love performing. So I don’t know when that will occur with this pandemic. Everything I’ve heard has been like, at least a year from now. But uh, hopefully with vaccines, maybe that has shortened. I’m not sure. But yeah, it’s definitely something that I would love to do.
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