Alexander Jean have broken out of their indie fame with their recently wrapped up tour with Lindsey Stirling. The Warmer in the Winter Tour brought their music to a new audience and people are loving the duo. Their chemistry is infectious and it shines through their music most notably in "Roses and Violets" and "Paper Planes."
Mark Ballas and BC Jean had a crazy year, between marriage, Broadway, Dancing with the Stars, a winter tour and a killer Christmas cover, they have been nonstop. Thankfully we were able to grab a few spare minutes with them to catch up on their year and take a peek into their holiday season.
It has been a whirlwind of a year for you two. How has the first year of marriage been between your busy schedules?
When we got engaged, it was a new level, and when we got married, that was another new level. It’s incredible — a lot of people say the first year is one of the hardest, but we’ve been enjoying it. We have each other at the end of the day.
Your video for “Paper Planes” takes your fans into some private snapshots of life, how did the decision to share those moments come about?
Paper Planes was inspired by our wedding last November.
Mark: BC and I folded our vows and put them in a box, and we both started talking about how cool it would be to write a song that was about them.
BC: “Paper Planes” is basically a metaphor for the love Mark and I have for each other.
While you two are no strangers to juggling multiple projects, you must be exhausted. Do you have any holiday R&R plans?
A long awaited honey moon, finishing decorating our home, and then diving into EP 3 & definitely looking into the next touring adventures.
Mark, how was touring with Lindsey Stirling after DWTS? Did you guys break out into dance backstage every night?
Before DWTS, we didn’t know each other well, but now we’re all so close—on both creative and personal levels. Lindsey is like our family now.
In seriousness, the friendship between you and Stirling seems so organic. Whose idea was it to go on tour together?
Lindsey came to see us perform at Hotel Cafe and also jumped up to jam with us on a song that night. The very next day she asked if we would be down to open for her this winter. We were flattered that our show made her decide to bring us along and we immediately said yes. This has been our third Alexander Jean tour, and we’ve loved every second. Again, Lindsey is like family now.
What has touring as a married couple been like? Is it easy to find a balance in work and quality time together?
Our music is and always has been a huge part of our lives, separately and now together. So it’s not something that ever completely gets turned off because when inspiration strikes, you must let it lead. And we tend to do our best work when it’s natural and not forced. For example Mark could be in the living room playing with some guitar riffs and I’ll be in the kitchen cooking and without really thinking about it, I’ll be singing a melody over it, which sometimes leads to our best material.
Has being on a holiday themed tour totally killed your Christmas vibe? Or has it hyped you up for the season?
I think it’s made it more exciting. We love Christmas music & enjoy helping get the crowd in the holiday sprint. Since we are so busy these days we really look forward to taking a break even if it’s a small one to spend some time with our family & loved ones so it’s exciting to have that to look forward to right after the tour.
What current band are you guys listening to now? What oldies band will you never stop loving?
Currently we’ve been listening to Kaleo, Rag N Bone Man, and Chris Stapleton. As far as Oldies, Nirvana, Queen, and Fleetwood MAC will always play in our house :)
BC, what is your songwriting process like on the road?
When I write it’s a natural process. I write lyrics, poems, and song concepts constantly and sing voice notes of melodies and ideas which I save to use at the right moment. Unless I have a specific session scheduled, in which I sit down and force myself to write something depending on the session. And if there isn’t a natural flow at that moment then I can always look through my saved melodies and lyrics and go from there.
What do you guys turn to in order to de-stress from writers’ block? (Sports, painting, reading, etc.?)
Again, we tend to do our best work when it’s natural and not forced. But we do force ourselves once in a while to put away our phones and try to turn off our work brains and just be together and do something “normal”.
What can we expect next from Alexander Jean?
We are in the beginning stages of putting EP3 together. We’d love to be back out on the road by Spring/Summer.
Any individual projects coming up for either of you?
Nothing to announce quite yet! But exciting things coming very soon!
Your cover of “We Three Kings” with Casey Abrams is absolutely stunning. Who approached who for the song and what was the writing process like?
We felt like we could do something earthy and cool with this particular song. This version of the holiday classic could be played any time of the year and be enjoyed. It’s not your traditional Christmas carol.
To us, “We Three Kings” was the perfect choice because although it is classic it sometimes lives in the shadows to some of the other famous Christmas tunes. Once we began playing with the arrangement we both felt we needed a third king, which led to the idea of having a featured artist. The light bulb went off immediately for us, we turned to each-other and said “Casey Abrams” at the same time. We knew we wanted the third voice to have power and grit and also bring a third harmony to the table creating “The Three Kings” sound, enhancing our duo into a dynamic trio.
Can we expect any other holiday songs? Whether that be a cover of another carol, a popular song, or an original?
Yes, we wanted to do a Christmas EP this year but time got the better of us, so we decided to focus on making “We Three Kings” as special as we could. We plan to do a full Christmas EP next year in 2018.
What holiday song from your childhood means the most to you? Do you have any songs that bring back memories of the holidays?
Mark: “Walking in the Air” from the movie “The Snowman” will always be special to me
BC: “Silent Night” was always a song we played in the house during Christmas. It’s such a beautiful song and we loved singing it in my house growing up.
What does the spirit of Christmas mean to you?
For us it means put aside the hecticness of our everyday lives to share love, happiness, and joy with the ones we love. Life is so short and it’s times like these that we cherish the most.
Can you pick one word to describe your 2017 (one word each!)?
interview by Megan Garzone, photos by Garrett Stroup