AIM alumni Alex Smirneos performed live alongside First Nations superstar Baker Boy at the St. Kilda Festival, and has joined him at several shows since. We caught up with Alex to talk about these memorable musical moments with an amazing Indigenous artist and what she’s been working on since graduation.
When did you study at AIM and what did you love most about the experience?
Alex: I jumped into my studies straight after I finished high school, so it would’ve been 2016. I graduated in 2018 with my Bachelor of Music (Contemporary) as a vocal major. The best part about AIM was being able to collaborate with other passionate musicians every day and the connections I made with fellow students/faculty that I still hold onto today. Ensemble and Concert Practice were my favourite subjects for sure. What I learned in Concert Practice is the reason I’m doing so much session work now.
How did you get the gig with Baker Boy?
Alex: Baker Boy needed a last minute emergency feature vocalist cover for his show headlining St Kilda Festival earlier this year and I was put forward to the team for the position by someone I’d been with working in another project. Within 48 hours, I sent off some audition recordings, booked the show and learned all of the material the day before the gig. It happened so fast and unexpectedly. I’ve played a couple more shows with him since, and it’s just been such an amazing experience.
What is it like performing with such an incredible rising star of the Australian music scene?
Alex: Unreal. It’s just such a special feeling when you get up on that stage and feel the energy of not only the incredible band and presence of Danzel (Baker Boy), but being able to see and feel how proud his audience is and the absolute joy they feel being there. His audience is so diverse too. There’s just something really special about the Baker Boy project that’s unlike any other.
St Kilda Festival photos credit: Chloe Hall
Why is his music important to all Australians?
Alex: It’s refreshing and important for all Australians to see a First Nations artist taking over, spreading love and providing a voice/platform for other artists. I think that’s why I love this project so much too. Baker Boy has a song called “Be Who You Wanna Be” and it has such a strong message for everyone, (but most importantly young people) that you can do anything you set your mind to. Danzel is the perfect example of that. I think this song carries so much power and strength behind it, especially for the wider First Nations community.
What have you been doing since AIM that led to these shows?
Alex: I’ve been working as a session vocalist for some amazing projects and producers. I’m also a lead singer and vocal arranger for a really cool gospel/techno crossover project called Sunshine & Disco Faith Choir. I’ve also been writing, recording and getting my solo project (Royal Drue) up and running. I released my debut single “Cinderella” to all platforms recently which has been a long time coming! You can check it out on all platforms now.
My experiences at AIM are what prepared me to dive in the deep end and take on the music industry with confidence. Since I finished my studies, I’ve been a working musician, collaborating with some insane artists/creatives that have led me to bigger and better opportunities like the Baker Boy shows. There’s plenty of shitty gigs out there. It’s not as easy as just leaving your studies and pursing the session musician life full-time. I’ve always had a day job along the way and I when first I started, I’d say yes to every gig, but with all of those experiences, I now have the knowledge and power to choose my shows wisely. You’ve got to put in the work yourself. It’s tough, but in the end It’s very rewarding and you get to do what you love with people you respect and that’s your job? It’s epic.
What’s next for you?
At the moment I’m promoting my latest single and booking some shows in for the rest of this year for the other projects I’ve been working with. I’m also cooking up my second Royal Drue single set for release in a few months … so just lots of background work right now. Keep your eyes on my socials for all of the latest Royal Drue updates (follow on Instagram at @royaldrue or Facebook at @royaldrue).