meet the 22-year-old songwriter behind some of the world's favourite pop songs
From Nick Jonas and Troye Sivan to Broods and Hailee Steinfeld, Alex Hope is an Australian producer making her mark on the musical landscape.
Photography Connor Franta.
At just 22, Alex Hope is living her dream. The multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer moved from Sydney to LA last year and now spends most of her time in the studio working her song-crafting magic with some of the biggest names in the business. At the time of writing, a track she worked on with Troye Sivan called Youth has been streamed 150 million times on Spotify, their musical alchemy hitting the right notes with listeners. We spoke to Alex about being a woman in a male-dominated industry and what she hopes to conquer by 23.
You moved to LA from Sydney late last year, how are you finding it over there?
It's great. There are a lot more artists, writers and producers to collaborate with. There's also a larger range of genres, which is really liberating. Coming over here I've had a lot of opportunities to be a bit more left-leaning, the range is just far more broad.
You're so young and have already achieved so much, when did you know this is what you wanted to do?
One day I picked up my dad's guitar and it overtook my love for anything else. At that stage I really wanted to be a singer songwriter but then I tried it and realised that performing scared the living hell out of me. I got the buzz from writing songs though so convinced my parents to let me move to the Australian Institute of Music for my last years of high school. When I got there, that was it. I started producing my own songs at home and sending my CDs out to producers and anybody that would listen.
And it seems they did listen.
I was really lucky, some of my music was picked up by a producer living in Australia called Robert Conley and also Brian McFadden. They took me into the studio when I was 18 and that led to my first job working with Tina Arena. I went to Paris, wrote four songs, played guitar and bass and sang backing vocals on that album. After that I got a job writing songs for the X Factor winners and also wrote a song called Borrow My Heart for Taylor Henderson which became my first number 1 in Australia.
That's amazing, and it sounds like it's all moved quickly.
My parents had given me a one year window to make it work. When I was 19 I signed my publishing deal with Sony and that was when it really started — I wrote a bunch in Australia with Jess Mauboy and Guy Sebastian. A little later when I went into the studio with Troye Sivan was when my eyes were really opened and I realised I wanted to do more. When his album was charting in other countries, I realised I might be able to write elsewhere too, it hadn't really occurred to me until then.
You continue to work a lot with Troye Sivan?
Yes and he really was the catalyst for so much. We became really good friends and he invited me to come into his sessions in LA where I met other songwriters and musicians I'm obsessed with like Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, Benny Blanco and Greg Kurstin. That's where my production took off.
There are definitely a lot of male names in production, do you feel the absence of women in your field?
It definitely stands out. I think the fact that I'm doing this is testament to my parents because it never occurred to me that I couldn't do it. When I arrived in America I kept getting told how few female producers there were over here, or anywhere for that matter. I remember Max Martin asking me if I was ready to be the face of female production. I had no idea that it was like this.
It seems like there are a lot of female artists but everyone running the machine in the background is male.
There are women producing their own music but not many producing other people's work. Like when Taylor Swift accepts an Album of the Year award with a feminist message but she's standing in front of the 20 men who helped make the record. For artists like her and Beyonce, they are basically the only women involved. I'm getting a good response from young female artists and their labels because normally they're writing with older guys and they don't necessarily feel comfortable speaking about boys or things close to their heart. I totally understand. If I was a young female artist I'd love to have the choice also.
It's a really good point. And who else have you worked with so far?
Now I've written and produced with Broods, Tove Lo, Nick Jonas, Wrabel, Jason Meraz, Mikky Ekko, Betty Who and hope to soon be working with Andy Grammer and Hailee Steinfeld. I love working so much. It's so fun.
And who's on your list that you'd like to work with in the future?
I'd love to work with Taylor Swift, Adele, Haim. I'd love an all-female-written and produced track out there.
I feel like you're definitely the one to make this happen. Lastly, are you enjoying the LA party scene between jobs?
I don't tend to get too distracted from working but I did go to the Billboard Music Awards recently to Nick Jonas's after party in Tove Lo's limo. I did the crazy Vegas thing. But I just love doing sessions, everyone's been nice and collaborative and I probably have people like Sia to thank, who've paved the way in that regard.
Text Briony Wright