Xondra (she/they) is the musical moniker of Alexondra O’Connell. Born to Cuban/Puerto Rican and Irish parents and raised on Long Island, New York, she found her love for music and songwriting at a young age. As a child she would sit in front of the radio for hours, writing down lyrics that struck a chord with her and creating new songs out of those lyrics. In her teens, she started to write her own songs as a means to process her growing pains and, at 18, Xondra headed to SUNY Purchase’s Music Conservatory to further hone her skills and find her sound.
Blending elements of pop, rock, R&B and indie-pop, her music explores feminist themes with heartbreakingly honest delivery. Across the six tracks that make up her upcoming EP, ‘Tedious & Brief,’ Xondra shares her experience of being a woman trying to survive in a man’s world. “I wrote this story for all of the people who have been hurt by the people who were supposed to love and keep you safe," she says. "I wrote Tedious & Brief for all the people learning to speak up even if their voice trembles.”
Thank you for taking this interview! What has 2022 been like for YOU as an artist?
Thanks for having me! 2022 has been a big year for me so far! I have been deepening my artistry and moving forward on my first big releases as a solo artist. I worked with a band on most of my previous releases and didn’t start to find my sound as an individual artist until the pandemic hit. I still collaborate with my old band members on many of my solo ventures coming up but it is more from my individual artistic lens instead of a group’s vision. I have been enjoying creating and recording a lot of new art I’m super proud of. I am beyond excited to share all of the work I’ve been creating with all of my amazing collaborators and friends.
Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist?
I have always been very collaborative and open to trying anything and everything. I love challenging myself by trying to write in new genres and vibes. As a result, I didn’t necessarily have a clear cut idea of what sound I wanted for myself. It took a lot of trial and error in order to find myself as a songwriter and artist. I'm a lot more confident in who I am and what I want now. I still carry that openness to try new things with me but I bring my new found bigger picture perspective with me. I’ve become a lot more fearless in my art than I used to be. I’m no longer afraid to write about anything as long as it is from the heart, even if that means delving into some pretty heavy topics.
How did you come up with your latest project?
I suffer from night terrors and had a particular difficult couple of months in 2021. Every night I’d dream about about witnessing women being murdered and having to help solve the murder/stop their killer from killing again. I read a poetry book called “Life Of The Party” by Olivia Gatwood during that time that led me to spiral about the everyday fears women face. I couldn’t stop thinking about how normalized violence against women is. It led me to start examining the underbelly of abuse and how it affects people for their entire lives if it’s not dealt with.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Long Island, New York.
Where do you live now?
I’m still there today! I’m a New Yorker through and through. Even when I leave, I always end up coming back here.
Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made?
Definitely. As a born and raised New Yorker, I have had to learn how to stay safe when I go out places, especially alone. In my recent release “Dead Girl,” I mention a story about a friend being followed after getting off the subway. I have had a lot of similar situations as well and have had to learn how to stay as safe as possible. New York is such an amazing place but it has definitely taught me to be tough when I need to be, which is something I think comes across in a lot of my music.
What was the inspiration to make music your career?
I have always been a poet. I started writing poems, then songs from a very young age. It has just been one of those things where I have felt it in my bones that this is what I am supposed to do since I was a child. I have never really started taking it seriously after my first heartbreak in high school. I had been playing in a band and looking to go to school for theater. I didn’t believe in myself until I was heartbroken and the only thing I could do all day long was write music. Once in Purchase College , I auditioned for the Conservatory Of Music and ended up switching my major to Studio Composition ( songwriting). In a way, my first heartbreak was my greatest blessing. It helped remind me of my true passion and fully believe in myself.
How do you want to shape your career?
I would really love a career where I get to branch out and be a Renaissance woman. I love creating , as long as I’m making something that someone can connect to or get joy from. I started loving acting around the same time I started writing music. It has always been cathartic for me to be a part of all things artistic. I would love a career where I can act, sing, write poetry books, design a fashion line, write and direct films, etc. Essentially, I would like my career to be shaped by doing the things that feel good to me. I always want to come from an authentic place because I think that is the kind of art we all need the most.
Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music?
I used to go with the flow more with my music but in the past year I’ve definitely changed gears. I personally work better with more structure so having a timeline and planning things out ahead of time makes me feel better. I am a big believer in planning things out but also allowing for flexibility because things don’t always go as planned. I like having a timeline but I understand that sometimes things need to happen quickly and more spur of the moment. As a libra rising (I’m big into astrology), balance is key for me.
How did your latest title of your music come to be?
I titled my new single “Inner Child” because inner child healing is something I’ve been working on a lot in therapy the past few years. Childhood trauma is something that has always been a hard thing for me to face, especially in my music. I didn’t want to dig into it because I knew it would be very painful. However, I’ve learned that in order to heal, you have to face the hard feelings and learn to love yourself through the hurt. I was in the thick of healing while writing this song and I wanted my music to reflect the transformation I was going through.
Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done?
Most definitely! I recorded this EP in July of 2021 and I was so unsure if I was going to even put it out in the world. I love all of these songs deeply but I was so nervous because they are all so vulnerable. Letting the songs you wrote to help you get through some tough times out into the world can be a little scary. They become everyone’s songs once they are out. It is both nerve wracking and beautiful. The other thing that makes letting go of songs hard is that songs never feel finished . I always wanna keep adding to something even after it’s done. Learning when to stop and let it go into the world is an art form of its own.
Do you feel an emotional attachment with your music?
Yes! I write songs to help me process things that I experience in my life so a lot of emotions are tied to the songs I put out. Songwriting has always been something that has been cathartic for me and telling personal stories has always felt like the most natural thing for me to do. This ties into me prioritizing being authentic and vulnerable within my artistry and life.
How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet?
Where do they go to listen NOW?
Here is my Spotify page: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3rfrIiPoGHLTSjkBZiBkb9
What has been the best fan reaction to your music?
I played a show in 2019 where I debuted a song about hoping someone heals and needing to stay away from them even though you love them. It was about how someone’s instability and chaos can sometimes suck you in and hurt you, regardless if that was the person’s intention. After the show, a guy came up to me crying. He said he realized he had done that to someone he loved and thanked me for writing something like that. It was a really heartfelt moment and it has stuck with me that something I wrote was able to help someone hold themselves accountable and learn from their own experiences.
Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
I am in the process of filming and editing ‘Tedious & Brief’ The Film. It is 6 music videos that all go into one another to create a film that goes along with my EP coming out November 4th. I have literally never been more excited about something in my entire life. It is my biggest artistic endeavor yet and has been so rewarding to direct a story so close to my heart. We are aiming to finish filming by the end of November. The film will be out at the end of the year.
Are you performing the song anywhere LIVE?
Nothing official yet but we are hoping to announce a few shows on our socials soon so keep a lookout!
Give us all your socials and links so fans can link up with you! Thank you for this interview!
Thanks so much for having me !