Alex da Ponte
Gig Seeker Pro

Alex da Ponte

Memphis, TN | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Memphis, TN | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Pop Rock




"Go Backstafe at Beale Street Music Fest with Alex da Ponte"

“Everybody seems to want to help everyone else. That is the driving force behind why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

We had the chance to go backstage at Beale Street Music Festival with Alex Da Ponte, one of only a handful of Memphis artists to perform at the festival this year. She shared her thoughts on how the community of support she’s experienced in her hometown has led her to pursue her dreams.

Check out Alex’s music here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram for updates. - Choose 901

"Video Premiere: Alex da Ponte - "Nevermind""

Check out the official music video for “Nevermind,” the lead single from Alex da Ponte’s ALL MY HEART, out January 29, 2016 on Blue Barrel Records. ALL MY HEART is a thesis for 20-something self-discovery. Bright, fresh and biting, it is as honest and brash as it is knowingly self-conscious: that perfect juxtaposition of emotion that pop music has been trying to capture for decades. Alex’s voice has earned comparisons to Jenny Lewis and Karen O, and her style (a blend of femininity and punk undeniably influenced by 90s alternative) to Courtney Love’s Hole.

Standouts on the record include “Dinosaur,” a simple and surprising alt-pop love song (a gentle little dinosaur / but your heart sure weighed a ton), the sharp, witty post-breakup gem “Tell Your Friends,” and of course, the lead single: “Nevermind,” a sweetly sung indie anthem whose title phrase again seems to capture that indecision of this perfectly undecided decade. Check out the music video and look for ALL MY HEART everywhere January 29.

“Nevermind” was directed by Laura Jean Hocking. - Paste Magazine

"Alex da Ponte on exploring lighter subject matter with “All My Heart”"

In a world where we all struggle to find our voices and tell our stories some float to the top. Out Floridian songstress Alex da Ponte is one of those voices, as she sits on the precipice of releasing her second full-length album All My Heart (out January 29th on Blue Barrel Records). Alex has meticulously taken the energies and experiences that have shaped her life and turned them into infectious alt-pop we can all share in.
Alex took the time to share with us her experience in music and in life as an out woman navigating the creative world, not to mention some quite helpful tips for me to wow my wife. Key West is seen as a queer/writers/artists/Buffet-heads Mecca. What was it like actually growing up there?

Alex da Ponte: I think my growing up in Key West helps prove that shame can run so deeply. I remember in middle school when I was living there I had a crush on this older girl with brown hair and braces. I wrote in my journal something like, “Does this mean I’m gay?” And the next day I was so mortified that I had committed those words to paper, I promptly ripped it to shreds. I mean careful, indecipherable pieces into two different trash cans. Even in the midst of such culturally forward thinking, I knew the bottom line. I knew how some of my family felt about “queers”—as I’d heard them referenced—as well as most of the world. I was able to bury the truth so far that I was actually surprised when it occurred to me again in High School. I found myself watching The L Word and listening to Tegan and Sara. It all made sense.

AE: My wife and I are going in February for a combination of our honeymoon, Valentine’s day, our anniversary and both our birthdays (no biggie). Any insider tips?

ADP: That’s amazing! Congrats! I was just talking with my fiancée about the possibility of going back to Key West for our honeymoon—I haven’t been in over 10 years, I believe. But I think we have decided to nerd out at the museums in DC instead.

As for tips, my knowledge is outdated but if you’re driving, going across the seven-mile bridge is gorgeous and also unavoidable so look forward to that. My grandmother lived right in Key West, I actually lived on an island just north of it called Sugarloaf and I liked walking around and petting the stray cats—it really is a wonder it took me so long to realize I was gay. There’s a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and an aquarium. Also Trolley Rides. People along the sidewalk who will urge you to pose in a photo with their birds or snakes or Iguanas. It’s very eccentric and eclectic.

AE: Tell us a bit about how you started playing music?

ADP: My mom is a single parent and had to work a lot so my older sister and I were left to our own devices. I watched a lot of TV and movies. And I realized what an important role music played. The biggest moments are set to music and it sets the tone. It pairs with the visual and can change your whole mood. It sucks you in. I always knew I wanted to be a part of that. In middle school, I wrote lyrics for a few songs but it was the movie Walk The Line that came out when I was in high school that pushed me over the edge. I picked up the guitar and started writing songs and I just haven’t stopped.

AE: What was the evolution of All My Heart?

ADP: These records are just my life documented, it ties into my last record, Nightmares, which was entirely about a bad break up. It was so angry and deeply sad. I had fallen in love with a girl who was someone else’s and then she deployed overseas without even a goodbye. It was all very dramatic and very devastating. The whole record reflected that. And then, after three years of staying single and depressed, I met the girl who is now my fiancé. She saved me from spending any more time mourning the losses—of that break up as well as tragic death in my family—and obsessing over the cards I was dealt.

There are still some songs on All My Heart that are about that same break-up from the previous record, which speaks to the huge impact the experience had on my life, and then, of course, there are songs about my fiancé. Songs like “Dinosaur,” that make reference to Jurassic Park, the 20th anniversary re-released movie we saw together on our first date. And “Like Home” which lays out all that is good and terrifying about love. The deep and comforting content and the absolute terror of losing it.

You can definitely see a broader spectrum of emotion with this record. You can hear hope. From the album art alone, you can see the two records are coming from very different places. My fiancé, very fittingly, did all of the album art for All My Heart by the way! So All My Heart is really just the next chapter. It came about and evolved because it had to. I’m still alive.

AE: When you were writing the music did you have a way in mind in which is should be consumed?

ADP: With the last record I thought a lot about the record as a whole and setting the track listing so that it told the story of the break-up. With this record, as crazy as it sounds, I didn’t do that at all. I concentrated on it song by song as pieces rather than a whole. I was putting more effort into my life and as a result, the songs just came. I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into going places I’d never gone before, musically, it was just happening because that’s the path I was on. I built songs like “Boulder Creek” and “Colorado” that rise from the ground up and just shatter and fall all around you by the end. That experience of letting go and letting it come somewhat casually was new for me. My anger was such a driving force for the last record; it was nice this time around to be able to smile as a song developed.
AE: How has being an out lesbian musician affected or altered the course of your career and how you’re treated in the industry?

ADP: I think I’m lucky to be coming along now after the path has been paved several times by other out artists. I haven’t felt that it was a “thing” yet. Someone gave me kudos for using female pronouns in my songs, though. They said it surprised them because overwhelmingly it seems gay artists go without. That was no conscious decision on my part. I’m so comfortable, and it feels natural, I’ve never thought about wielding pronouns on purpose as a political statement. It’s just my life. That’s how it should be. I’ve always hated the idea of perpetuating the ideology that these things are abnormal because they’re not. It’s because of fear and people hiding that it ever appeared anything but ordinary. I’m so thankful to be part of the age of visibility and courage. We are here. We have always been. I hope that as a gay artist my openness is one account of many that allows a more human view of people and relationships. Something for people to connect with and come together over.

AE: How has the lesbian/queer community received you and your music?

ADP: My experience of the gay community is that we are extremely supportive of each other. I think we are so happy when we see other gay people reaching their full potential because it means that they’re no longer fighting to be who they are. You have won if you have time enough to concentrate on your craft. Either that or you’re able to use the fight to fuel your creativity. Either way, it’s inspiring, and I see the community celebrating that. I think you guys talking with me is proof of that. So thank you so much for the support!

AE: What’s your favorite part of the process and why?

ADP: I love being in the studio. Having all your songs come to life around you is an incredible feeling. I’m a little bit of a homebody/creature of habit, but I’m lucky to have worked in studios that are really comfortable and relaxed. I like routine and going to bed early so touring can be a challenge. I love the thrill of playing shows for sure and traveling, but I love being with my family. When I’m able to bring them on the road that will make me happy. Brandi Carlile has it right.

AE: What’s your current jam?

ADP: Shovel and Rope‘s album Swimmin’ Time has me right now. I love it so much. Their harmonies are killer.

AE: What’s one thing we wouldn’t be able to find out about you through a deep internet lurk?

ADP: That’s a good question. Well, you wouldn’t know that I recorded a demo of myself singing and playing the song “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber for my friends and I’ve left it on my iPod to this day and still sing to it when it comes on. The rap in the bridge of that song is so fun and I can do it really well. It’s hilarious. Or that I know every word to the Buffy musical episode. Every. Word. - After Ellen

"Alex da Ponte’s latest album, ‘All My Heart,’ documents happier times"

Back in 2012, when Alex da Ponte released her first album, you could be forgiven for casting her as a moody, morose singer-songwriter type. Her debut, "Nightmares," was a lyrically dark and depressed concept album about love gone band. It stands in stark contrast to the sunny, hopeful alt-pop songs on her new album, "All My Heart."

"My life is radically different from where it was four and five years ago to where it is now — it's a whole world apart," says da Ponte, who will celebrate the album's release with a show Sunday at the Young Avenue Deli. "Last record was completely about a bad breakup. This new record finds me in a new relationship, I'm engaged, life is just looking a lot different. That's what I'm doing: I'm writing about my life, and these songs are a bookmark of this time."

Born in Memphis and raised in Key West, da Ponte returned to the Bluff City as teenager and attended Houston High School in Germantown. Making music was a constant by then. "In my family, everybody plays instruments, and everybody knows how to sing," says da Ponte. "It was real easy to find myself picking up a guitar and putting my own words to songs. The urge to be heard was always pretty strong."

She continued to perform while attending the University of Memphis. "Playing music got serious at the end of college," says da Ponte, who graduated in 2010. "I was still doing it, and the songs weren't running out. It wasn't something I could put down."

Although she fronted local combo Yeah, Arturo for several years, lineup changes led her to release "Nightmares" under her own name. Over the last couple of years, da Ponte has been reshaping her backing band — which now includes Shawn Zorn on drums, Ryan Adata on bass and Joe Austin on guitar — and sharpening her craft.

Last year, da Ponte signed to the local imprint Blue Barrel, a nonprofit Memphis label project funded by John Buford and administered by Ward Archer. She soon got to work cutting tracks at Archer's Music + Arts studio with Lucero's Rick Steff and Roy Berry on keys and drums, Jeff Smith from Star & Micey on bass and backing vocals, string players Jonathan Kirkscey and Jessie Munson, and Robby Davis on guitar.

The resulting LP is a catchy, well-crafted alt-rock/pop platter that reflects the influence of da Ponte favorites: 90's alt radio staples "like Nirvana, the Gin Blossoms, and Goo Goo Dolls," she says. "I'm glad that came through. That's what I've always listened to and the kind of music I want to create."

Among the contingent of female singers-songwriters in town, who are generally more roots-oriented, da Ponte stands out. "I never wanted to be doing stripped-down acoustic solo stuff because that's not what I listen to," she says. "The way I have it set up, you get the singer-songwriter essence of one person writing about their life, but you've also got a full band, and it's kind of a big sound, which I think people really enjoy."

Her audience has been building locally. "Our crowd seems to be — I don't know if I can find a word to describe it … maybe eclectic is the best way to put it," says da Ponte. An out-and-proud lesbian, she's found support from all quarters. "Yes, there are gay folks at the show — I know that because they're friends or friends of friends, or people I've met. But I don't think there's any one monopoly on the audience. It's a broad mix of people that are coming around. And keep coming around. The (LGBT) community has been very supportive, but Memphis as a whole has really been supportive."

Da Ponte will try to extend that support to other parts of the county as she plans to undertake her first national tour later this year. She'll balance that with a full-time job at Outdoors Inc., where she works as an e-commerce manager. "I'm lucky to work for a company that is flexible enough to let me do both things," she says. "With Ward and the label behind me now, I feel like I'm really ready to branch out." - The Commercial Appeal

"Sing with All Your Heart: Alex da Ponte on her new album for Blue Barrel Records"

With her debut album Nightmares, Alex da Ponte crafted vengeful songs that were angry and incredibly personal. On her new album All My Heart, da Ponte enlisted an all-star cast of Memphis musicians to create a different kind of personal album, one filled with hope and self-realization. We caught up with da Ponte to find out more about All My Heart before her release show this Sunday at the Young Avenue Deli. –Chris Shaw

Flyer: Who was involved in the recording of your new album, All My Heart?

Alex da Ponte: I've been working with guitarist Robby Davis for years — he's an incredible guitar player that plays all over town. Rick (Steff) and Roy (Berry) from Lucero play on the record, along with Geoff Smith from Star & Micey. It was recorded at Music + Arts studio in Midtown, the building that Archer Records and Blue Barrel Records are run out of.

How would you say All My Heart is different from your first album, Nightmares?

It's definitely less angry. There are songs that are filled with hope and songs that build up with emotions other than anger. There might still be some anger, but there's more going on than just that. You can tell that I'm in a different place in my life than I was when I recorded Nightmares. My music is always going to be a reflection of what's going on in my life. Even if you just look at the covers for the two albums, Nightmares has a really dark, black and white cover, whereas this cover is filled with color.

Who did the artwork for All My Heart?

My partner and fiancée Karen Mulford, which I feel is very fitting. She's the reason the album has a bunch of color and isn't all black and white, because I'm in a better place now, and she's a big part of that. The songs about her on the album are probably the happiest ones. She's a big reason this album was a much happier one in general.

Have you been working with the same musicians since you wrote Nightmares?

Well, not really. When Nightmares came out, I formed a band and played with them for about three years, but that band dispersed, and the only person I stayed with was Robby Davis, so I had to basically start from scratch. Luckily the Memphis music scene is very supportive, so people would be like "Oh, you need a drummer? Try this person." I can tell the difference between when my last band played a song like "Nevermind" compared to when my new band plays it, because different musicians change the tone of a song. It's still the same song obviously, but you can hear the subtle changes where a new musician's influence comes in.

Let's talk about your song "Tell All Your Friends." It seems like a classic breakup song. Is that accurate?

Yeah, it definitely is. Who hasn't had that experience of hearing trash from other people about yourself? It ties into the last record, when I went through this terrible breakup, and you can still hear some of that in this new record because of how much it affected my life. This song is a great example of how that experience is still working its way out of me.

Do you think the songs on this new album have as strong of an overall theme as your first album?

Not really. The last one had such a strong theme that I wanted to move a little bit away from that and work on this album piece by piece. I was writing the songs at different times, and it was actually nice to concentrate on this project song by song, because with the first record, I felt so intense that I spit out all of these hateful songs, where as this time I was inspired by all sorts of different things.

When Paste premiered your video for "Nevermind," they compared you to Jenny Lewis and Karen O. Who are some other singers or bands that influenced you that your listeners might not expect?

I was listening to a lot of Shovels & Rope when I was writing the song "Come on, Boy," and I think that ended up making me write in a different way, even if it's not that noticeable. I also love Brandi Carlile, and I got back into the bands that I really liked in high school, even middle school. I got back into Eve 6, Nirvana, Gin Blossoms, and the Goo Goo Dolls. I loved all that kind of stuff, even bands like the Shins. There's a lot of stuff that worked its way in there.

Let's talk about your new video for "Nevermind." How did you link up with Laura Jean Hocking?

The people who run Blue Barrel Records suggested Laura Jean, and she came in with this idea to model the video after this movie from the '70s. It was really cool to watch her work and be able to work with another Memphis artist, and we were able to work through her vision together. It's really nice that we are all coming from a similar creative community. Memphis is exploding right now, and it's really cool to have all of these people around you who are willing to help. - Memphis Flyer

"Featured Artist: Alex da Ponte"

Straight out of Memphis, TN and citing influences like Tegan and Sara, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and Muse, this week’s featured artist, Alex da Ponte is about as diverse as they come. In addition to a range of musical influences, there’s no shortage of literary and historical references within da Ponte’s lyrical library. With a voice both feminine and strong, backed by engaging instrumentals, you’ll be playing her OurStage chart topper, “Leaves” on repeat. -


All My Heart (2016)

Nightmares (2012)



When Alex da Ponte was 22, she recorded an album called Nightmares. 

“I think that’s part of getting through your 20s,” she says casually. “You get your heart broken and you write a record about it.”

It’s casual, perhaps, because it’s sort of always been the way Alex processed things, since she was a kid, growing up isolated in Key West. Living in a house on stilts that perches over the water will draw out the creativity, especially in a kid born of a musical family – a many-generations-removed relative was Mozart’s librettist, grandmother sang opera and there was always a piano in the home – and Alex tried to write the songs she wanted to hear. 

“I remember writing really ridiculous Blink 182-style songs in middle school because I’ve always been trying to create something that I want to listen back to,” she says. “So it’s a really selfish thing, I guess -- I needed an anthem.”

But now, Alex da Ponte is 27. And in January she'll release All My Heart, a record whose title is as evocative as it is precise. 

"I found my people, I guess,” she says. “You can tell I've grown and matured, which they always tell you that you will."

Case in point: just a few years ago, playing shows was mortifying, awful, all those eyes bearing into her. Each band member she added was a stitch in a safety blanket that took the attention away from center stage. And just a few months ago, Alex took the bull by the horns, walked into a meeting with a Blue Barrel Records executive, played a fuzzy demo recorded on an iPhone voice memo and said to him confidently, “this is the hit.”

That hit was “Nevermind,” and it will be the first single from All My Heart. "I've learned in life that I can make things happen for myself." 

Ultimately what Alex made happen was a thesis for 20-something self-discovery. All My Heart is bright, fresh and biting, as honest and brash as it is knowingly self-conscious: that perfect juxtaposition of emotion that pop music has been trying to capture for decades. Guiding you through it is Alex da Ponte, her voice earning comparisons to Jenny Lewis and Karen O, and her style (a blend of femininity and punk undeniably influenced by 90s alternative) to Courtney Love’s Hole.

Standouts on the record include “Dinosaur,” a simple and surprising alt-pop love song (a gentle little dinosaur / but your heart sure weighed a ton), the sharp, witty post-breakup gem “Tell Your Friends,” and of course, that hit: “Nevermind,” a sweetly sung indie anthem whose title phrase again seems to capture that indecision of this perfectly undecided decade. 

While working with Blue Barrel Records meant Alex was able to record All My Heart at Music+Arts Studio, she held to one philosophy from Nightmares - “we had a dream team then, so I had to have a dream team for this record, too.” This time around the dream team included Rick Steff and Roy Berry on keys and drums (Lucero), Geoff Smith on bass (Star & Micey), Jonathan Kirkscey and Jessie Munson on cello and violin and Robby Davis on guitar. 

And now the girl who used to hate the idea of taking center stage says she's settling in to the idea that all eyes may be on her come spring. "These songs are me,” she says. “I'm documenting my own life and creating these things because that's what I want to sing about. I feel like I am claiming that this year." 

All My Heart is out January 29 on Blue Barrel Records. ​

Band Members