Interviews / Music

Alexis Lynn Embarks on a Journey of Healing in Sophomore Album, “Real Talk”

As a Potawatomi woman, storytelling holds a special significance for Alexis Lynn. “Being Indigenous but growing up removed from our community, I’ve been trying to reconnect to our culture and one thing that has always been prevalent to me is how important storytelling is,” she says. “Lyrics are my favorite part of songwriting and I’ve always valued telling stories and using words to paint a picture. Writing about tough subjects has also been something that’s been important to me. Indigenous communities are overrepresented in substance abuse, addiction, suicide rates and other aspects of mental health struggles, and I think as tough as it can be to talk about it, it’s so important to me to be open in the conversations about it. Generational trauma has affected Indigenous communities like no other, mine included, and I believe that taking the first step of talking about trauma, struggles, or therapy is one way to open the door to healing.” Music makes difficult discussions softer and more intimate. “For me, it almost provides a buffer to vulnerability. It’s easier to say something in a song than outright in a conversation sometimes. I think as someone who’s struggled with vulnerability my whole life, it provides that safe space of expression while being self-protective behind the guise of a pop song. The music, melody, and lyrics provide a veil in a way, but I think it also allows it to be more accessible for everyone to relate to and for more people to hear. In a way, the more personal you get in songwriting, the more relatable it becomes because all emotions and experiences are so much more universal than we all realize.”

Her sophomore album, Real Talk, soon took on a life of its own. “When I started writing the album, I honestly didn’t really know where it was going, but it kind of wrote itself. It turned into this beautiful story of struggling with mental health, adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms, and then finally coming out on the other side. It terrifies me to have been so honest, but I’m also really proud of it. The track list was curated in a way to reflect the chronological path of the story. It’s made to be listened to in order, but each song also has its own story. ‘Real Talk ‘ is like the album’s thesis. ‘Bandaids’ then addresses the suppression of trauma, while ‘Fall Apart’ is the coming undone after trying to hold it together for so long. ‘House On Fire’ and ‘Ana’ touch upon specific coping mechanisms – codependency and disordered eating – that can happen while struggling with mental health. The first interlude ‘Good Enough’ addresses the shame and feelings of not measuring up at the heart of eating disorders, but also the realization of self-worth afterwards. The following song, ‘Honest,’ embraces the start of healing, and the strange but necessary duality of happiness and struggle in the healing process. And, finally, ‘Make U Happy’ is the take-home message that a person can only find happiness and healing within themselves, and that no one else can do the work for them. It was a really conceptual project and to see it all finally come together is such a crazy moment for me.”

Alexis is very open about her bisexuality and frequently looks inward to work out her relationship to gender roles and desirability. “I think sexuality is such a spectrum that it’s hard to define, but I recently did a rewrite of ‘Complex’ on TikTok talking about how the patriarchal values of heterosexuality can have an impact on that. For me, I’ve always been accepting of my sexuality outwardly, but like so many people, I’ve struggled subconsciously. The rewrite talked about how as a woman, patriarchal society holds this value that the validation of a woman, being it attractiveness, worth, whatever, can often only come from a man. And how sometimes you end up seeking that unauthentically, no matter how subconscious it is. I think there’s a lot of biphobia in general as well as in the LGBTQIA2S+ community, towards both bi women and men. Bi women are often invalidated in their sexuality and questioned as someone who’s ‘probably just straight’ because again, the perception of women’s worth is often tied to the male gaze, and for bi men, the invalidation is that they’re ‘probably just gay.’ I do experience my attraction to men and women differently, but neither is more valid than the other.”

This self-examination often spills over into her complicated relationship with male validation.”It’s definitely something that’s a work in progress. Trying to unlearn something you’re taught societally since birth takes time, but I’ve been focusing on what feels authentic to me and not as much on the opinions of others. I think defining what you want in a person in general is really important, and I think I’ve kind of let that slide for a lot of men, when really, I want to hold anyone in any relationship I have, be it romantic or platonic, to the standards I have for people in my life. I’ve also been doing a lot of self work and therapy.” In contrast, she enjoys a richer and more communicative bond with women, although it’s about time that we start to expect that from all genders. “In general, I think women are held to a different standard in their relationships (societally), so some of the negative experiences I’ve had with men haven’t necessarily happened with women. For me, there’s such an emotional intelligence and deeper level of connection with women, but with any person again I think it’s important to know what you want and value in someone and in yourself.”

Reflection has come with time for Alexis. “Like a lot of people, I’ve experienced trauma in my life and at the time, those were my natural reactions. I think a lot of the time it’s not something you ‘mean’ to do, it just happens. As a teenager, I developed an eating disorder and struggled with anorexia for about 3 years, and it wasn’t something that was a plan of ‘this is how I’m going to cope,’ it just sort of happened. I think not knowing how to talk about what you’re going through, and even maybe not realizing what you’ve gone through, can spiral into a lot of unhealthy habits unknowingly.” She’s cradling herself with conscious patience and grace. “I’d say I’m somewhere just over halfway on the spectrum of healing. I’m recovered and healthy now, but I’m still working on a lot of other underlying things. Healing isn’t linear, and in my experience, it’s been a continuous journey, but I can see the finish line from where I am now. Honestly, I never want to stop growing. I think that’s another continuous journey, but right now I’m really focused on self-acceptance and worth, and I’m excited to see where that takes me. Life is kinder when it’s tinted with the rosy hues of self love. 

Follow Alexis on Facebook and Twitter and stream Real Talk HERE.

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Alexis Lynn Embarks on a Journey of Healing in Sophomore Album, “Real Talk.” Photo Credit: Simone Chnarakis.