Alexander Jean Take Music Into Their Own Hands on ‘Coming Down’

There’s something to be said about productive observations. For the past 15 to 20 years, BC Jean and husband Mark Ballas, who go by the name Alexander Jean, have carefully watched the inner workings in the studio but never imagined learning it all. Working around the pandemic lockdown, the couple turned one of their spare rooms into a studio and started learning everything they could around production and engineering—from cueing, quality recording, and vocal comping—which led to their new EP, Coming Down (Parts & Labor Records).

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“We decided let’s take the bull by the horns and learn the engineering side of it,” says Ballas. “I always rely on a producer and an engineer, and we know what needs to be done, but it’s different when you’re actually manning the ship.”

Learning the ins and outs around production around Coming Down was a good exercise for the couple, says BC. “It’s kind of like just a puzzle,” she says. “He’s really good at making the frame of the puzzle, and I’m good at filling it in, so one person can go in and make the track, and then the other person can record. It’s a good tag team situation.”

Following the band’s previous EPs, the 2017 release High Enough and Head High in 2016, Coming Down teases another sampling of Alexander Jean songs, pierced by BC and Ballas’ pulsing harmonies. Initially, the couple started working on a full-length album in 2019 for release in 2020, writing “Nevermind” the first day they reconnected with Parts & Labor head Jimmy Messer, who had written with BC a decade earlier, and ended up producing Coming Down.

“We wanted to take our listeners on a journey with us, on more of an experience,” says BC, “and just feel what we’ve been feeling.”

Mixing alt-pop and indie inclinations, Coming Down gazes from the funkier rock title track, through the country-led “Nevermind,” and warmer “Highs & Lows” beating around different pops of “For Anybody Wondering” and “Drunk” and closing rendition of Marcy Playground’s 1997 hit “Sex & Candy,” the sole track produced entirely by the couple.

“That song makes you feel so cool and sexy and takes you back,” says BC. “It was a good one for us, because of our fan base, or someone younger who’s never heard it before.”

The ’90s are a centerpiece of their influence, but Alexander Jean never fit into any uniform genre or time period with their music. “We’re kind of finding our own modern twist on things,” says BC, “like this ’70s meets ’90s thing that really works for us.”

Writing comes in different forms for BC, in song titles, lyrics, poetry, or concepts, while Ballas tends to work off the guitar. “I’ll be playing the guitar in one room and she’ll be doing her hair, or she’ll start humming a melody unintentionally, and I’ll hear it from the other room,” says Ballas. “Then, I’ll come raging in there trying to record and not disrupt the flow.”

The best songs come when you’re not thinking much, says BC. “Sometimes you just have to like let it let flow out of you,” she says. “It’s like a waterfall. Once you open that tab, you just got to let it go and not over-process it.”

BC adds, “Sometimes the universe doesn’t want to give you that word and that song at that moment. We could sit there and make a square fit into a circle and write any song, but we want to have a message. We want to say something that we actually mean. We don’t want to just put something out because we can.”

Next, there’s a new batch of songs, but BC and Ballas are taking their time with the next release.

“There’s like three cauldrons going at the moment,” says BC. “We’re always writing but since we’ve had the studio, it’s unlocked another level of creativity. I think we’re finding ways to get out melodic ideas, lyrical ideas, or even approaching production differently at home now—just the two of us nobody else in the room.”

Alexander Jean’s Upcoming Tour Dates:

August 15   Austin, TX @ Empire Control Room
August 17   San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
August 18   Houston, TX @ Continental Club
August 19   Dallas, TX @ Sundown at Granada Theater

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