Photo: Mariah Hamilton
There is a gentle magnetism to the music of Alex Porat. It is one that pulls you in with its all too real portrayals of young love and heartbreak, all told through the medium of sublime pop.
The project of the Toronto-based singer-songwriter, Porat is no stranger to the world of transcendent pop musings, finding her start posting covers of Jorja Smith, Shawn Mendes, and more on YouTube. Mendes, in particular, would soon join more than 750,000 subscribers in applauding the young Canadian talent after seeing her cover his single "In My Blood" for Glamour Magazine's "You Sang My Song." Now, she is releasing her own music.
"happy for you" follows closely on the heels of "only hanging out cause i'm lonely," and continues the trend of showcasing Porat's undeniably impressive vocal range in a newfound light. Over a subdued trap beat, the Toronto singer-songwriter unapologetically spills her heart.
The emotional crux of the song is an all too relatable one, the fruitless attempt to find some solace following a breakup in an age of information overload. The effect is a bittersweet and dreamlike reflection elevated by Porat's pained vocals and an infectious undercurrent of understated electronic production.
Premiering here today alongside a music video directed by Iris Kim, we had the unique pleasure of catching up with Porat about everything from bringing "happy for you" to life to using social media like one uses Google.
Ones To Watch: How would you introduce yourself and your music to someone who may be discovering you for the first time?
Alex Porat: Hi! I'm Alex and I like to sing songs that make me feel something and hopefully they make you feel something too.
You originally found your start covering songs on YouTube, and now you're releasing your own equally stunning music. What was that transition like?
Definitely not an easy one. It really comes down to the people that have been following me and supporting me as a person through this journey of finding my footing as a songwriter. I'm extremely thankful to everyone who has been there from the start, AKA YouTube.
How does the process differ from choosing what song to cover versus sitting down to create a song of your own?
I love singing songs that I can relate to, and I feel like I've done that with the covers by trying to find my own meaning within someone else's lyrics and melodies. But it's a whole other thing being able to have the freedom to say what's been on my mind. I feel very free right now to express myself and it's been exciting. Instead of adapting someone else's story to fit whatever situation I'm in, I'm choosing stories from my life to share, and it feels more vulnerable and honestly, a bit scary.
"happy for you" deals with the aftermath of a breakup. What's your best advice for getting over a break-up?
I'm still trying to find my way around this one. Every time I've been through a break-up it feels like my heart is in my stomach and I lose function of my body. I think my best advice would be to let yourself go through the motions, and when you're ready, channel your emotions into something creative. Create something that makes the heartache worth it.
Your new single also deals with our difficult relationship with social media, especially when we're at our most vulnerable. What's your relationship with social media like?
I use social media like someone would use Google - I find out about everything on there. So I love how it's a way for me to reach others and I also love how it's a way for me to find new things including new music. That being said, overexposure to anything that makes you feel negative feelings is not something to strive for so I think it's really important to be at peace within yourself. It's all about balance.
What was it like working with director Iris Kim on bringing "happy for you" to life?
She's the best. The scenes she creates are straight out of my dreams. She is so creative and really understands the vision with the music. Our time together on set is always memorable and I just love her as a person.
How have you been staying safe and sane in quarantine?
The first week I was absolutely losing it, but I think I've found a routine and that's helped me a lot. A mixture of creative things to do throughout the day (writing music, tie dying, making TikToks) with physical activity and lots, lots, lots, of facetimes and zoom calls.
Who are your Ones To Watch?
My Ones To Watch are Gracie Abrams, SHY Martin, and Wafia!