How did you come by your stage/brand name?
My stage name “ZANDER” comes from my first name Alexander. When I was growing up people either called me Alex or Zander but I wouldn’t let them call me Alexander, it just always sounded so weird to me. It also comes from me always wanting to be like some of my favorite artists who have been so impactful in the world that they are only addressed with one name such as Drake, Rihanna, Usher, and Beyoncé.
I’ve released music and have been called other names in this past but I feel like Zander has always been the name that kept coming back to mind with what I felt comfortable for people to call me when that switch turns on in my head and I’m ready to give my all to performance or while creating my music.
I even got the advice of Princeton Perez when I met him one time in Los Angeles a while back and funny enough he actually recommended that I go with my middle name which is Phoenix but personally that name never really felt right for people to call me that but I do love it. I also always felt that there was too much of a connection to Phoenix, Arizona, and the band Phoenix so I just stick with my first name.
When did you discover your love for your craft and what made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in it?
I really fell in love with performing and entertaining people when I was about three or four years old. I think anyone who has watched me grow up can confidently say I have always been an outspoken and very energetic kid.
Music in particular has always been a big factor in my life whether I was singing a song in a musical or playing instruments. Over the course of my life, I’ve played the piano, guitar, violin, saxophone, and drums so I’d say trying to express myself with music has always come naturally.
To what or whom do you accredit your sense of style?
I honestly credit my sense of style to my mood. It’s really just how I’m feeling. If it’s fashion then I don’t necessarily think about what message I want to tell I just grab what I like. For music on the other hand or any of my other creative passions like acting, filmmaking, and painting than I usually try to look at things from the perspective of what message I want to tell and put my good and painful emotions in a way that someone who isn’t in my head can understand some sort of start, middle, and ending.
But ok if we really wanna credit my sense of style I’d probably have to say like my best friend Angelique A.K.A “Lique” she really is getting me right whether that’s by styling what I’m wearing, cutting my hair a certain way, or even trying to reign in my ideas. She’s so helpful cause when I think of something I immediately go to it on a large scale and sometimes I forget that less can be more.
So many times it’s a matter of getting my message across in the fewest words and I’m forever grateful for her keeping me in check. I get in my head a lot so it’s good to have people around me who can listen to what I’m saying cause I talk too much and can break it down.
On your current project, how did you come up with the concept?
I came up with the concept of my upcoming project “Thoughts I wish you Knew” by going through a lot of good and bad relationships both romantic and not. I consider the songs on this project “suicide note love letters” because I really did start taking this project in particular seriously over the past couple of years and it documents a lot of moments in my life from like 2017 – present and honestly some stuff from even before that.
There’s a lot of trauma that I’m learning to process and express finally and I feel like it comes through with every song. Some of the themes that are most present in it are homelessness, unrequited love, feeling alone, suicidal thoughts, fear of sharing personal truths, and more. This project really hits hard the most when I’m by myself and just listening to the songs in my headphones remembering my past and how far I have come since those moments.
Sometimes I smile, other times I cry but with every note and word I sing I feel as though people are gonna hear the authenticity once I deliver the complete body of work to whoever does me the biggest favor and listens to it.
Are you the best at what you do in your opinion?
I’m not the best I do and I’m not afraid to admit it. I work hard every day to always surround myself with people who I feel are better than me at something I’m interested in so I can learn and grow from those experiences.
I will say that no one works harder than me though because when I set my mind to something I’m gonna do it and nothing can stop me. Sometimes I fail but it’s all good because it helps me see things I didn’t before. I also can live with knowing that I messed up and something I was actually interested in as opposed to something stupid like math. No disrespect to people who like math it’s just not my thing.
What are your plans for the near future?
My plans for the near future include finally getting my driver’s license because I’m super behind on that. That’s a long story I’ll save that for another interview. I also really want to get verified on Instagram, hit 20k streams on all platforms which I’m getting close to as we speak, and last but not least finally drop this project “Thoughts I wish you Knew” because my people are always blowing up my phone asking when it will be out.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank, any shoutouts?
I’d like to shout out and thank everyone who has worked on my project so far and everyone who doesn’t even know that I’ll be reaching out to them soon to see how they can get involved with it. Also, huge shoutout to anyone who has ever played my music reposted it or given me any type of feedback or advice I seriously appreciate it. I just want to spread love and create a safe space for people to be themselves.
How can fans find you?
For any new supporters, the best way to follow my journey would be to add me on Instagram @zander_._
What suggestions do you have for other artists like yourself?
Some suggestions I have for other artists is to be themselves and make what will keep them going even when no one else believes in them. I’d say no matter what way you express yourself do it out of love and enjoy the process of making it/learning how to get better as much if not more than the goal or destination that you’re so desperate to achieve.
Sometimes I catch myself losing sight of how hard I work. I am always working on myself and trying to be happy that I miss out on fully appreciating the amount of vulnerability I’ve allowed myself to have creatively. Basically, just be yourself and work hard at what you love. That’s it. I’d rather be tired doing something that’s gonna help me than be lazy and expect things to be handed to me and regret not taking chances and failing.
All great success comes from learning from mistakes. Get out of your comfort zone, I literally was putting off doing this interview but now I’m so glad we’re doing it so I can hopefully inspire someone else to share their story of what they’re passionate about too.