Scarsdale native and 2016 SHS grad Alexa Kishner is making her way across the country and into the big-time music scene. Currently a senior at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, Kishner is a songwriting major also working on a minor in music business, and she hopes to pursue music professionally. To get a closer look into the industry, she’s currently interning at Primary Wave Music in Los Angeles. Though her college is in an area known for its country music, Kishner describes herself as a pop artist and her latest single, “Moving On” released in May, is edging toward the 20,000 streaming mark on Spotify.
“I grew up listening to pop music and I think growing up in New York and living there definitely had an influence on the music I make today,” said Kishner. “I played a lot of shows in New York and still do over the summer, and I do want to come back because I love New York and the music scene there.”
Growing up in Scarsdale, Kishner was involved in local theater and professional voice lessons in the area. She did shows not only around Westchester, but in the city as well, where she realized she loved to perform.
Even before then, Kishner was just a 3-year-old who loved to sing and, eventually, a 12-year-old who loved writing her own music and listening to Taylor Swift.
“She inspired me because she showed me being a musician was actually something I could do,” said Kishner. “I always knew in the back of my head it could be a career but watching her and then moving on and going to school helped me realize how I can actually make it my job.”
As a songwriting major at Belmont, Kishner spends her time working with some of the biggest and most well-known names in the industry. Though she said it’s hard to explain the actual process of teaching and learning songwriting in a formal way, she described an exercise in which she and her fellow students bring a song into class each week to be critiqued by their mentors.
“You don’t really understand how much goes into the process of songwriting and the industry until you get into it,” said Kishner. “I didn’t know that either while growing up. Back then, I was just writing songs for fun and to express what I was feeling, I didn’t realize how much really goes into it until I started doing it professionally.”
Now that she’s a senior, Kishner is looking toward the future and what’s on her horizon post graduation. She is looking to be an artist and pursue making music full time, a move she knows is a risk, but she finds worth the challenge.
“I think I’ve known since I was a kid, what I want to do,” said Kishner. “I know it’s a very hard task to pursue, but I have so much passion for it that I need to try it, because it just might work for me.”
Some of Kishner’s prior internships were in digital marketing with music organizations, and she said she plans to stay involved with that part of the industry, even if being an artist herself doesn’t work out.
“The music industry is such a big part of my life, I always want to be in it, no matter how,” she said.
For now, Kishner draws inspiration not only from her idols like Taylor Swift, but from moments in her life that remind her why exactly she is pursuing music in the first place. She recalled a special moment her freshman year in Nashville in which she and some of her friends decided to perform in a tribute to Taylor Swift in Mercy Lounge, which holds about 100 people.
To her surprise, more than 500 people showed up and another 18,000 people were watching via live stream. Though she wasn’t singing her own songs, she was playing songs by her favorite artist in front of an excited crowd, and that was a moment that clinched her future vision.
“Having my friends around me on the stage and 500 people in the room singing back at me, I thought ‘this is absolutely what I want to do,’” said Kishner.