[INTERVIEW] Catching Up with AleXa and A.I Troopers in Los Angeles

Before K-Pop artist AleXa was everyone’s favorite cyborg fighting heroine, she was best known as Alex Christine, a Tulsa-born girl with a passion for dancing who posted K-Pop dance covers on social media. After winning Soompi’s global audition program “Rising Legends,” signing with ZanybrosZB Label, and participating in the vastly popular competition show, Produce 48, she made her triumphant debut and launched her musical career as AleXa in 2019. 

Unfortunately due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to meet her fans in person. Despite this, the 24-year-old singer released back-to-back girl crush anthems that garnered her a growing, passionate fanbase. Called the A.I Troopers, they continuously expressed their love and unwavering support for her through virtual activities such as her online performances, podcast hosting, and video call events. 

In late September, AleXa embarked on her first official US activities in order to meet her global fans. Her first schedule brought her to the famed Dodger Stadium for “Korean Heritage Night.” Standing in front of a crowd of over 46,000 avid baseball fans, AleXa sang the U.S. national anthem. “I cannot believe what an honor it was to stand before you today in Dodger’s Stadium & sing the Star Spangled Banner,” she shared on her Twitter. “It’s been 3 years since I’ve been in America, and this memory is definitely one I will never forget!!”

Following her performance, AleXa spent the rest of the week hosting her first offline fansign events at Amoeba Music and Choice Music. Not only were these events her first time meeting her fans face-to-face, but they were also the first offline K-Pop fansign events in the United States since the start of the pandemic. Seattle native Erin flew out to LA and secured her spot in line at 7AM outside of Amoeba Music. Understanding the difficulties for fans to travel during the pandemic, she collected and hand wrote heartfelt messages from over 30 A.I Troopers who were unable to make it to the event. “I wanted to create a letter project in which fans who maybe wouldn’t be able to attend would still be able to express their love and appreciation to AleXa, even if not in-person,” she shared. Having participated in AleXa’s past video call events, Erin was delighted to know that AleXa remembered her from their past exchanges. “It’s really awesome to be able to be a fan of someone who is as supportive of her fans as we are of her. When I handed her the letter from the project, she was incredibly touched by the amount of people who came together for it.”

While in town, AleXa also made a surprise appearance at the SUBKFANXP: A.I TROOPER STOP, a fan event for A.I Troopers to celebrate the singer’s debut anniversary. Taking place at Dragon Boba, the sold-out event featured exclusive signed merch giveaways, a photo-opp with AleXa, and an exclusive “Reckless & Flawless” drink accompanied by a Blueberry Earl Gray Mochi Donut. Inspired by the lyrics from her newest song, “Xtra,” the “Reckless & Flawless” drink was crafted by AleXa herself – a refreshing iced passion fruit tea with aloe vera, mango jelly, and lychee jelly. 

LA A.I Trooper Su Harman was a lucky attendee at the private event and has proudly been a fan since discovering AleXa’s pre-debut dance covers on Instagram. Having followed AleXa’s journey from Mnet’s Produce 48 to her grand solo debut, Su found inspiration in AleXa’s road to success. “When she debuted, I was just really proud and truly inspired by her, to just leave everything behind in America to go to Korea just to pursue her dreams. It made me think, ‘Okay, I’m gonna do what I want and I’ll pursue MY dreams.’”

AleXa found time between her busy schedules for an impromptu interview with the Kpopconcerts team to discuss her LA activities, reflect on her accomplishments thus far, and even get her own take on some of the hottest films and shows to date – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Squid Game!

INTERVIEW

KPC: Welcome back to the States! How has your stay in LA been so far? 

AleXa: It’s been very fun! It’s been about a week since I arrived and have been pretty busy, but I’ve had a chance to meet fans so I’m having a lot of fun!

KPC: You started off your schedule at Dodgers Stadium where you sang the national anthem in front of over 46,000 people! What was it like to perform in front of a live audience again?

AleXa: It was WILD. From the day they told me I was going to be singing the national anthem I was already so nervous. I was taking some vocal lessons to make sure I was in top condition to perform to the best of my ability. When we got to the stadium and I finally set foot on the field for my second soundcheck – it was so overwhelming! It’s just such a big field, and there were so many people (AHH!). In Korea right now, we have a rule that states that no more than two or four people (depending on vaccination status) can get together at a time. So it’s just crazy to see that many people but it was so nerve wracking but such an honor and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity. 

KPC: You then jumped straight into your first in-person fansigns at the largest record label store here in LA, Amoeba Music, followed by a signing at Choice Music! What was it like to finally come face-to-face with some of your US A.I Troopers?

AleXa: It was SO touching. It was so nice to be able to look into someone’s eyes for once and actually hear their voice and not just read a black-and-white comment on the screen. It was just so refreshing and my heart felt so light and so happy. Some of them ended up crying and it wanted to make me cry cause I’ve been there before. I know what that’s like. So it was just so touching to see!

KPC: Some of your fans were those you’ve met on past video calls too!

AleXa: They did! There are also people from yesterday, and the day before that came today. So I’m just so glad that they wanted to see me!

KPC: In celebration of your upcoming two-year anniversary, you teamed up with SubKulture Entertainment and Dragon Boba for an exclusive event with your LA A.I Troopers that includes a drink that you came up with yourself. Tell us about your inspiration behind the “Reckless & Flawless.”

AleXa: I chose a peach tea with lychee along with passion fruit and other good stuff, it’s good! “Reckless & Flawless” comes from my lyrics in “Xtra” – “The biggest, the best, I’m so reckless, I’m flawless~!”

KPC: As you approach your two-year anniversary, what have been some of your biggest takeaways from your experiences thus far? 

AleXa: Definitely right after debut, it was going to KAMP Singapore, that was incredible. I thought 10,000 people were a lot back then but then the Dodgers game with 46,000 people?! WOW. Other memorable takeaways was when I held my first online concert last summer and definitely now having my first in-person fansign and fanmeet here in LA!

@hyunaofficial

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♬ PING PONG – 현아&던

KPC: On top of those experiences, you also had opportunities to dance alongside Jessi and now you danced alongside one of your remodels, HyunA, for her #PingPongChallenge! What was that experience like?

AleXa: Oh my god yes! When I say I was a nervous wreck before she walked in (gyah!) Immediately I was like, “I’m sweating, why am I sweating?!” I was so nervous! It was not just because she is someone I look up to but as someone as established and well-esteemed in the industry as her, I wanted to make a good first impression. She also came with a mini mint-choco frappuccino from Starbucks for me. I was thinking, “You, bring ME a drink? I should bring YOU a drink!” We talked about things here and there and she really liked the bracelets I made her, and she said that she does beading too so we have that connection! She was so kind.

KPC: TikTok has truly become a powerful platform that opened doors for emerging musicians to share, collaborate, and promote their music. As a musician and fellow TikTok user, what are your thoughts on TikTok’s effect on the music industry?

AleXa: TikTok is a very beneficial app. I’ve actually found songs that I didn’t know about unless it was through different TikTok challenges. As from an artist standpoint, it’s a good way for us to promote our songs especially to the younger audiences that are really active on social media.  Also, doing things like dance challenges are really fun for not just the artists but the fans to make fun videos with their fans or other artists, like the #PingPongChallenge.

KPC: Having started off making dance covers to your favorite K-Pop songs, what is it like to now see K-Pop fans around the world covering YOUR songs? 

AleXa: It is something I never thought I would see. As someone who was a fan for over a decade at this point and turning around and becoming an artist myself and having fans show up to MY fansigns and wanting to see ME in concert…I said this to someone yesterday – I’ve always wanted to go to a fansign event but I never could. But now I’m hosting my own so that’s crazy! It makes me so happy and it’s just very touching. I understand where their hearts and their minds are because I was there once. It’s cool to see it being reflected back.

KPC: We’ve seen a growth in Asian representation in the media the last few years. Most recently being Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Squid Game. What are your thoughts on seeing more and more Asian representation in mainstream media?

AleXa: I think it’s absolutely incredible! It’s something that’s been needed for far too long but I’m so grateful we finally have it. Growing up, I didn’t really have many other people, Korean people specifically. When I found K-Pop, that was my outlet for representation. And now K-Pop has become so global, and people nowadays aren’t like “Oh why are you listening to that music?” That’s not what people say anymore. Now it’s like “Oh K-Pop? Yeah I know BTS.” It’s become so much more global, so many more people are familiar with Asian people and culture. It’s just so heartwarming and it makes me so proud to see other Asians just thriving in the media.

KPC: I’m assuming you’ve watched Shang-Chi and caught up with Squid Game. What is your favorite fight sequence from Shang-Chi and what is your favorite challenge on Squid Game?

AleXa: I really like dragons so it was definitely the very last scene and the big nasty one and the pretty water dragon. Oh my gosh, the CGI was just so beautiful! For some reason though, the water dragon reminded me of Haku from Spirited Away. Haku vibes!! With Squid Game, I think I really liked the first one “Red Light, Green Light” because it really set the tone for everything. Originally I was like, “Eh, what was Squid Game about?” My friends said it was a survival game and that there was a lot of blood, and then I was like (thumbs up) “Okay! Red light, green light, LET’S GO!”

KPC: I’m curious, among the A.I AleXas, who do you think would have come out on top in the Squid Game?

AleXa: Who would win Squid Game?! I think the evil AleXa from “Do or Die” with the twisted face. That one would win somehow. It would kill the other players or something. I mean it tried to kill me in the music video so (shrug). That one would win. But if not that one, maybe the Valkyrie AleXa that comes in at the end of “Revolution.” I don’t know what she does yet but she was there when the other one died, so I mean she’ll maybe win Squid Game.

KPC: Shang-Chi’s soundtrack also featured a lot of noteworthy singers from 88rising and other labels. What was your favorite song on the soundtrack? 

AleXa: Yes! I know Saweetie actually did one song on the soundtrack. I think it was really good that they included her as a mixed Asian. But, the first track was really good. I was actually super happy to hear Keshi too! While I haven’t met him in person, we did interview him [on Dive Studios]  and I know he’s Jae’s friend so shoutout to Keshi! 

KPC: How have you been spending your free time in LA? Have you had a chance to catch up with your friends and family while you’re here in the States?

AleXa: My family just left for the airport today, but they did come up from Dallas and they came into the hotel the same day as we did. They stayed in the same hotel as me for about a week or so. I got dinner with them a few times, I hung out with my mom and brother once, and we all got together last night. I had some good times with them, because I haven’t seen them in two years! With the other free times I’ve had, I’ve been trying to get my naps in (laughs).

KPC: You’ve had back-to-back schedules so I get it!

AleXa: I’m used to it, this is how it is in Korea too so I’m used to it!

Bank of Oklahoma Center

KPC: With live concerts and touring coming back, what cities have been on your mind that you would like to visit while on tour someday?

AleXa: For sure my hometown Tulsa, Oklahoma because there’s actually a really good performance venue called the Bank of Oklahoma Center. It’s the performance venue where Lady Gaga and a bunch of other artists performed there. So that is my main first target for performing in the States when I do tour. I would like to go to Dallas of course because that’s where my family lives, but then LA’s Staples Center  (If I can manage something that big) would be nice! 

KPC: What was your favorite concert that you’ve attended in the past and whose concert would you love to attend in the future?

AleXa: I’ve been to a handful of concerts. I’d say for me the most special one is when I went to KCON 2015, that was the first time that I saw any K-Pop artists live in concert.  But then, I think seeing SEVENTEEN’s tour was something I was really so happy about! In 2016, I also saw SHINee in Dallas for their fanmeet. It was after the View album came out and they did a few songs like “Sherlock”!

KPC: Nice! Manifesting that you will one day perform at the Staples Center. Maybe dance alongside Taemin as well?

AleXa: See THAT is the artist that I would love to see in concert eventually. I respect him so much. While I did see him at the SHINee fanmeet, it wasn’t a concert. But I would give my left leg to see him in concert though! 

KPC: Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything you would like to say to your fans? 

AleXa: A huge tremendous thank you to everybody who was able to make it out to my events these last three days – The Amoeba, Choice Music, and today for the little fun Dragon Boba event. I’m very grateful to have been able to meet you guys in person and hear your voice. It’s so refreshing to actually hear another person and actually speak to someone in person. Thank you so much for waiting, your patience, and for driving and flying from wherever you did (I know some people came really far. Thank you for the love and support. Stay safe, stay healthy and hopefully I can see you again in the near future.

Congrats to AleXa on her 2nd anniversary and please continue to show your support for her and her future projects!

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