Kita Alexander on her debut album ‘Young In Love’

The old adage goes that you have a lifetime to write your first album and three months to write your second. But Kita Alexander has never been one for convention. The Australian pop artist penned all of the songs on her debut album, ‘Young In Love’, over a cumulative four weeks. Given they were collectively forged in a whirlwind, it took Alexander a moment to assess exactly what she had created – and how to tie it all together with a single phrase.

“I came out the other side of it going, ‘what did I just write?’,” she says. “I was going through these songs, because I really wanted to grab a couple of words from one of the songs to get a title. We came up with a lot of cool ones, but it just wasn’t encapsulating the body of work I’d created. When I found ‘young in love’ in ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’, it all fell into place.”

The title was perfect. After all, she’d forged a collection of songs that lyrically drew from the last decade of her life – in which the Brisbane native married retired pro surfer Owen Wright and became a mother of two before she turned 30. “I was creating this life outside of music that became my number one, and still is,” she says. “Everyone that knows me knows I will drop everything in a heartbeat to look after my family. By naming the album ‘Young In Love’, I basically mapped the whole thing out in reverse.”

With its broad sonic palette, Alexander describes ‘Young in Love’ as an album where “each song has its own little world”. From the brassy, confident pop of ‘Queen’ to the pensive bedroom-indie of ‘I Never Really Knew You’, the album impresses with its versatility – and its list of collaborators.

Kita Alexander, photo by Rob Tennent
Credit: Rob Tennent

Former Evermore drummer turned pop producer/songwriter Dann Hume, with whom Alexander worked on her double-platinum 2017 single ‘Hotel’, gave her crucial advice. “He once told me that you’ve got to let songs be what they want to be,” she says. “You can try as hard as you want to make it something else, but then it loses its essence. There were definitely times on this record where I tried to change a handful of songs completely. Every single time, we ended up reverting back to the way it was.”

Alexander is not using the royal ‘we’, but referring to the village that raised ‘Young In Love’. Collaborators included Andy and Thom Mak, Konstantin Kersting and Shungudzo Kuyimba – whose collective CV spans some of the biggest names in pop, both in Australia and abroad. “I am all about collaborating,” says Alexander. “I used to really fight back against it. My idea was the best one, and that was that. Nowadays, there’s this beautiful ebb and flow.”

“If you want me on your song, fucking talk to me!”

Perhaps the most surprising name on the album’s list of collaborators is Morgan Evans – a Newcastle-born singer-songwriter who has lately become Australia’s biggest country music export. When Alexander’s A&R suggested he duet on her then-new song ‘Date Night’, however, she was blissfully unaware of his superstardom. “I definitely went in pretty naïve – I just kind of asked out of nowhere, not realising how big he was,” she recalls. “Thankfully, he was into it – and, as it turned out, he was a fan of Owen’s.”

Kita Alexander, photo by Rob Tennent
Credit: Rob Tennent

‘Date Night’, which racked up millions of streams upon its release last July, isn’t the only collaborative Kita Alexander hit with an Owen Wright connection. He’d floated the idea that she work with his mate, the megastar DJ Fisher. “Fish said he was interested – but I just took that to mean he was being polite,” says Alexander. “I mean, I’m his mate’s wife, y’know?

“One time when he was over, I grilled him for about ten minutes about what kind of songs he wanted to make, what inspired him – stuff like that. He said that no-one had really asked him those questions before, and so when I sent him a bunch of top-lines for a new song I already had an idea which one he’d really like.”

“There’s ups and downs, but being young and in love are two things that coexist beautifully”

While in Bali, Fisher played the ‘Atmosphere’ demo to another Aussie mate – a bloke by the name of Chris Hemsworth, who deemed it a smash-hit on sight. (“I’ve never really name-dropped like that before,” Alexander laughs. “I don’t know if I should, but why not?”) Upon returning, Fisher asked Alexander to write a second verse. “I asked how big of a rush he was in,” she recalls. “Classic Fish: He says ‘oh, no rush – I just want to play it in my set at Coachella in a few weeks.’”

The rest, as they say, is history. Seventy-six million Spotify streams and counting, plus a further five million YouTube views, have made ‘Atmosphere’ one of the biggest songs in both artist’s repertoires. The cake was iced this past January when ‘Atmosphere’ charted at number 14 in the triple j Hottest 100 of 2023 – marking Alexander’s first time ever in the countdown.

Kita Alexander, photo by Rob Tennent
Credit: Rob Tennent

An influx of producers, songwriters, beatmakers and DJs have flooded Alexander’s DMs since the success of ‘Atmosphere’. She has one request for these people: give her five minutes of your time. “That’s all I ask!” she says. “Get on a Zoom with me. Let me ask you a couple of questions. That way, I can know what you want – whether it’s a sad dance song, or a party song or whatever. If you want me on your song, fucking talk to me!”

It’s not a surprising ask from a creative who is crystal-clear about her place in the driver’s seat. “It all starts with me,” Alexander says. “I come into each session pulling on these immediate feelings and my own immediate experiences. Because I know what I want, it makes the entire creative process so much easier – what guitars to use, what synths to use, what concepts to build up, what elements to emphasise.”

Though she’s made an album that is specifically personal, Alexander is putting ‘Young In Love’ out into the world hoping that everyone can find something within it to connect with. “Everybody is young and in love at least once in their lives,” she reasons.

“It’s never easy, and it’s never a fairytale. There’s ups and downs, but being young and in love are two things that coexist beautifully. Whether it works out or it doesn’t, everyone goes through it. There’s all these fireworks and butterflies and big emotions, but there’s also these creeping doubts and insecurities. You’re still figuring out who you are. These are songs you can learn and grow with.”

Kita Alexander’s ‘Young In Love’ is out now via Warner Music Australia

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