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Lex Allen: ‘Music needs to carry a message of worth’

Lex Allen says the positive vibes in his music are sincere. He’s had personal struggles, and his work in overcoming them accounts for his need to empower his audience, as well as himself, he says.

We talked about how he got to this point, the meaning of his career and his desire to be a focal point of the Milwaukee LGBT community.

How did your music career begin and how has your sound evolved over the years? I started as a kid in church. My cousin was in a quartet in church and seeing him and all the greats on stage made me want to do that. …I picked up a lot from other artists, writing techniques, etc. I rap a verse in a new project I have coming out. Being around (local creative group) New Age Narcissism has opened up a lot to me and taught me to be diverse. I do more wordplay now and write with more of a hip-hop feel. It gives you room to joke around and be more playful.

For readers who don’t know much about your musical style and personal brand, would you describe it? My brand is all about empowering the powerless. I had to stay in a homeless shelter growing up and it was a trying time. It was sh*tty and sad, but now it’s made me very free. I don’t worry about things when I don’t need to, and I’ve realized I’m in charge and in control of my life. 

“Soul pop fusion” is how I would describe my style, with a new-age kick. My family is from the South, so I love country. You’ll hear that soulful sound if you listen to the song “Mirror Mirror.” I have no limits to what I’m trying to create, but you have to be current in what you offer, and offer something to get people through their day. 

Party songs are party songs, but there’s no purpose to them except maybe to have a good time. There needs to be a message of growth and worth to make timeless music. Empowerment is relevant year to year, you need to move people with your words rather than just add to the wishy-washy fads of the time. I have a new song called “#TagsForLikes” about when I lost my phone for two weeks and realized that I hadn’t been present in the moment. I’m not anti-technology, but I’m all about being present in your life and not disrespecting the connectivity you could have with everyone. 

This will be your second performance at PrideFest, right? This is. ...I just was persistent and constantly motivated, connecting with people and getting more involved with the community. I just started talking to people and not being scared, not giving up. Just getting people to take notice, posting my songs online all the time. I can’t wait to see how I grow in the LGBT community. 

Do you have past experiences going to PrideFest — good memories or appreciation of the event as a whole that you’d like to speak about? Yeah, I just love to see people that come in from up north who don’t expect to be able to be themselves. I was in Door County and it was such a surprise to see a lack of LGBT representation. It really opened my eyes to how people can’t express themselves every day. (PrideFest) gives them a chance to do that. Not that we don’t have our struggle in the city but it’s easier for us because we have more places to go out. Some people in isolated communities don’t have as many options.

You recently came out with a collaborative video called “This is Our Year.” Of course the meaning could simply be that you’re going to make a lot of music and perform more this year, but is there something else about this time for you as an artist that you’re speaking to in the song? One, our city is booming with music. When I was growing up, I lived in a poverty-stricken area and having access to do things outside of where we were wasn’t as easy. So that’s just a song for my family, which includes everyone I know. It’s an embodiment of community, basically the embodiment of self. 

The opening lyrics are, “I’m a mess at times/I don’t do everything right.” It’s about people putting limitations on themselves just because they’re not perfect and sometimes when they realize it, it’s too late. ...That’s where we all are; there’s no time like the present. Everybody has a purpose and maybe you just need to hear something, a poem or a song, outside of yourself to realize how great and capable you are.

After PrideFest, where else can we see you perform? I’ve got a fun summer lineup. I’m opening for the group Peppers on the Briggs and Stratton stage at Summerfest. We’re going all out, it’s gonna be an amazing show. July 3 I’ll be at Summerfest again with my brother WebsterX opening for Lupe Fiasco. I’ll be singing with Kiings on the Fourth of July at Summerfest, and I’ll be doing the Lunar Koss series on top of the MAC building downtown again on July 17. And I’m headlining Brady Street Fest.

Any long-term plans for your music career that you’d like to share with us? I’m planning on releasing a new EP Social Me Duh between June 7 and June 17. I’m really excited to give people new music to listen to while I work on a new conceptual album. This (album) is just a fun release of things that are on my mind with nice beats. My producers Q the Sun and Jason Kartz just get my sound.

We’re here, Wisconsin is no longer a fly-by state, and I’m so happy to be part of what is now a budding artistic community. 

PRIDEFEST 2015

Lex Allen will perform at 8:30 p.m. on June 6 at the Loft Lounge. Visit
pridefest.org for details.

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