Dynamic singer-songwriter duo on capturing ‘honest, raw” emotion from home during the pandemic with their favorite recording tools
A dynamic collision of seasoned musical talent with a palatable passion for performing, rising singer/songwriter duo Alexander Jean have been bringing their unique blend of rich, memorable songwriting and warm vocal interplay to music lovers across the world since their first single Roses and Violets made its way to up the iTunes and Billboard Digital charts in 2015. When pandemic lockdowns cancelled the duo’s touring plans and forced them to begin recording their music at home, they embraced the isolation as an opportunity to return to the raw, live feel that ultimately drew them together, with a stronger focus than ever on their intuitive harmonizing and acoustic instrumentation. Realizing that they didn’t want to sacrifice studio-quality sound in these home recordings, Alexander Jean have made the Mojave Audio MA-1000DS tube microphone an essential part of their signal chain to ensure that they had all the richness and detail they needed to bring their music to life.
Chemistry and energy
Both members of Alexander Jean bring their own extensive musical pedigrees to the duo — multi-instrumentalist Ballas has performed on Broadway in Jersey Boys and Kinky Boots, singer/songwriter Jean has worked in the major label system since her early 20s and wrote “If I Were a Boy”, the triple-platinum selling single from Beyonce’s I Am… Sasha Fierce — but it was their genuine enthusiasm for singing and writing together that led them to ultimately form a group and strike out on their own. “Performing together has always felt really natural for us — we’ve always had a real chemistry and energy both on and off stage,” said Ballas. “It was a natural step for us to start writing together and once we did, building our own signature sound came very intuitively.”
Working from the ground up, Alexander Jean have built their fanbase by capturing audiences with their natural chemistry and talent on different stages around the country and using social media as a tool to connect and interact with their listeners directly. The strong showings have impacted the duo’s standings on streaming charts as well, with songs like Highs and Lows charting #12 on the iTunes US Charts, and #1 on the Singer/Songwriter charts in the US, UK, and Canada. They see this as a natural progression from the response they have received when performing live. “Performing together has always come naturally to us — our chemistry lives both on and off stage,” said Ballas. “Our goal was to tour in 2020, but due to obvious reasons, we had to get creative from home. Our only way of sharing our music and connecting with people was through social media.”
Jean agreed, citing the importance of doing so in a raw, honest way matters when building that connection. “Although we spend a lot of time in the studio, we’ve always wanted to learn to record ourselves and become more self-sufficient as artists,” said Jean. “When lockdown started, we quickly realized it was the perfect time for that. Now we have the ability to capture ‘real’ moments as they come and do it in a way that doesn’t compromise on quality.”
Riding the wave
For Ballas and Jean, sounding like themselves means capturing all of the nuances of their intertwined vocals, as well as the intricacies in the guitar work. This meant finding a microphone that not only gave them the necessary sound quality but also the detail and dynamics to make it all sound real – an essential component for the duo. The duo track all of their vocal and guitar tracks through the Mojave MA-1000DS, which is run through a BAE 1073 preamp and an Apollo Twin interface. Designed for simplicity without cutting any corners, the setup has allowed Alexander Jean to continue working on their latest album during the pandemic despite not being able to be in the studio. “What we wanted in a home setup was the ability to track studio-quality guitar and vocals and to be able to do so whenever we wanted,” explained Ballas. “I’ve used everything when it comes to microphones, and although they all have their strengths, we were really looking for something that was going to capture the versatility of our sound.”
“What we love about the MA-1000 is that it picks up all the textures so you can really feel the room in the recordings,” he continued. “I’m so proud of this setup because no matter what we do with it, we’re always happy with the final product.”
“It all comes down to what you’re putting into it, but when you’re in the moment, the MA-1000 is there to capture the magic,” says Jean.
For more information about Alexander Jean, please visit http://www.alexanderjeanofficial.com/