What do you get when you combine a dynamic songwriter-producer relationship, smoked honey vocals, and a pandemic’s worth of pent-up existential dread?
A fucking fantastic song.
Alex Hendrix’s latest single, Necromantic, is all of this and more. It drops this Friday, March 26th, and we have the inside scoop on it – plus a teaser to bless your ears.
Hendrix, a contributor at HuntsvilleMusic.com (and just about every other Huntsville-based institution), sat down with me today to discuss her new single. We covered everything from the recording process to Evanescence to quarantine coping.
But, of course, we had to start with the title.
nec·ro·man·tic | \ˈne-krə-ˌman(t)ic
: – an amalgamation of the Greek prefix ‘necro’ meaning death and the English word ‘romantic’ meaning characterized by or suggestive of an idealized view of reality. Or, according to Alex, “A play on necromancy, which is communicating with the dead.”
Grace: Hello, Alex, welcome to the interview. Are you excited?
Alex: NO. Next question.
Grace: I’m keeping that in.
Alex: Please do.
Grace: We’re here today to talk all about your shiny new single, the name of which is probably my favorite song title in the history of music: Necromantic.
Can you tell me where ‘Necromantic’ as a title came from?
Alex: I am so glad you enjoy it! Necromantic was actually not the original title, so I’m extra glad you appreciate the change. It was originally something very self-referential that tied back in with the line about Death Knells, but once Necromantic popped into my head I knew it was the one. It’s a little bit of a nod to what the song tries to do, which is tie in these gothic romantic themes with ghosts and hauntings, but more than that I just thought it sounded clever, so here we are.
Grace: I like it so much because it’s such a marriage of the eerie/creepy with the beautiful and romantic – like the song.
Alex: Thank you, I thought it sort of wrapped up everything I was going for into one memorable word.
Grace: I think so, too.
The song itself is a pretty big change from your usual sound. You describe it as ‘part gilded ghost story, part synthy melancholia.’ Why the departure from your usual folksy vibe?
Alex: During Quarantine, I got very into writing these gothic songs and eventually gothic short stories, it was such a weirdly specific catharsis for some reason. There’s a cinematic quality to this song that I knew as soon as I started writing the lyrics had to be involved if I was ever going to record it. But, I also think that there’s usually a large difference in the way I write songs in my head and the way I play them. This was my first time working with Johnny Okwu, who produced this track and was absolutely amazing, and my style probably would have expanded a long time ago if I’d met him sooner. This was the first time I was really able to articulate what I heard to someone who could make it happen.
Grace: Your voice and intonation sounds different, too – you told me that [Johnny Okwu] told you to ‘whisper’ some of the words.
Alex: Yes, I ran through the vocals once for a draft version as we were building the track and he said, “That was great-” which I knew meant it was not, in fact, “- but try whispering it this time.” And we ended up rolling with those placeholder vocals and never re-recording finals.
Grace: It worked so well. Your voice sounds fuller and richer – can I make the comparison?
Can I say it? About Amy [Lee, the lead singer of Evanescence]? Cuz… damn, girl.
Alex: Please do, I will bask in that comparison for all my days. There are so many little quirks in my voice that came through on this recording that always get buried or muffled, it’s really a night and day difference.
Grace: It is. And no one ever changes the radio station from Amy Lee – it’s physically impossible not to sing along. Necromantic has that quality, too.
Alex: Thank you, that is incredibly generous. I grew up crying in my bedroom to Evanescence, there is absolutely a bit of my soul that was forged by Amy Lee.
Grace: So not much has changed?
Alex: I have always been operating at this level of emotional flamboyance, yes.
Grace: ‘Emotional flamboyance’ should be the title of the album.
Alex: That’s what I’ll call the tour.
Grace: I cannot wait.
Let’s talk lyrical content for Necromantic. It’s such a rich, visceral song, and I think a lot that has to do with the flickering images you feed the listener. What led that choice?
Alex: It was a little bit of a writing exercise, honestly. I wanted to add elements you’d find in gothic literature, so the verses are very much about scene building and aesthetic. That was a different way to write songs for me, because usually it’s very feelings-forward. I love that genre of writing because it is such a haunting juxtaposition between these vivid beautiful images and the horrifying things that are happening. I feel like that speaks to me on a personal level, also.
Grace: I’m glad you used the word ‘juxtaposition’ since you do a lot of interesting play with juxtaposing two unlike things in this song and making them like.
For example, the drama and dated-ness of the imagery paired with the casual way you use ‘babe’ – something about that feels wrong but also so right.
It’s rare that you get ‘babe’ and ‘parapet’ in the same song.
Alex: I mean, what an oversight for songwriting as a whole! I focus a lot on singular word choices, almost to the point of weird obsession sometimes, so anytime someone recognizes one of those agonized choices I am thrilled.
I wanted a little disorientation there in places, because as much as it’s a song about grief, it’s also a song about romanticizing your grief.
Which, for me, always go hand in hand no matter what.
Grace: That is very type 4 of you.
Alex: It is maximum type 4 energy.
Grace: What do you hope listeners will take from Necromantic?
Alex: I would say that maybe more than any other song I’ve ever written, Necromantic is a “for me” song. It’s all these dramatic elements I love paying homage to a genre I am obsessed with paired with subject matter that is not as relatable as, say, a breakup anthem. Everything about it was really very selfishly for myself. I hope people find a little bit of an escape in it, and more than anything I hope they put it on their Spooky Season playlists
Grace: That’s funny since I feel like when you finally have that little break through and make a piece of art that you think, ‘screw it, this is just for me, I’m not gonna try to adhere to what will ‘sell’ or get views,’ that’s when you make your best work.
And I really feel that this is your best work yet.
Alex: From your mouth to god’s ears!
Grace: I was raised Catholic, so. I’ve got that direct line.
Alex: Don’t tell him we want it too badly, though, I’m trying to preserve my cool image.
Grace: We’ll keep a lid on that part for now.
Alex Hendrix, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to the humble outfit that is HuntsvilleMusic.com.
Alex: It has been a true pleasure, thank you so much for listening to the song and still wanting to interview me.
Grace: I literally cannot stop listening to the song. It’s not just on my Spooky Season playlist – it’s on every single one of my dramatic melancholy sad-girl playlists, which is… a lot of them.
I can’t wait for all your fellow 4’s to put it on their moody playlists, too.
Alex: I hope 4s specifically enjoy this song, and if you don’t, then don’t tell me!
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Grace is the Content Director of HuntsvilleMusic.com and lives in Madison, AL, which really isn’t that far, guys.
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