Singer-songwriter Xondra isn’t afraid of being direct or reactionary. Rather, feminist themes and personal topics characterize a number of her songs.
This post may have affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission on purchases through the links (at no extra cost to you). This does not change our opinion but does help support the site. Thank you!
Recent track “Inner Child” – off her recently dropped EP Tedious & Brief – explores what it’s like growing up in a toxic home environment and finding validation through healing and acknowledging one’s individual experience.
Born Alexondra O’Connell, Xondra discovered her love of music at a young age, listening to the radio and jotting down lyrics that resonated with her.
She transitioned to her own songwriting in her teens as a way to cope with the ups and downs of adolescence.
This then paved the way to studying music at SUNY Purchase’s Music Conservatory. Today, her sound blends elements of pop, rock, indie, and R&B, while her lyrics have a storytelling quality about them.
With her six-track EP now out, Xondra spoke with us about the release:
How did you start making and playing music?
I started writing songs when I was a little girl. I used to sit in front of my radio for hours and listen for lyrics I liked from different songs. I’d write them all down, piece them together, and make new melodies.
They were basically my very own Frankenstein songs. I started vocal lessons at 8 years old and guitar not long after. I performed in plays and in a band all throughout high school and ended up majoring in songwriting in college.
You studied at SUNY Purchase’s Music Conservatory. How did this experience refine your songwriting and musicianship?
I will always have a special place in my heart for Purchase. It made a stronger songwriter and musician. My favorite parts of my experiences there were the people and what I learned from them.
I got in the habit of surrounding myself with musicians I deemed “better” than me or more skilled at different things, and it was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. If you hang around geniuses enough, you definitely learn some things.
I’ve always been a strong vocalist and songwriter, but working with jazz and rock musicians expanded my idea of what I was capable of creating. I was constantly being pushed to dig deeper within myself and find my sound.
I am so grateful for the experience of getting to experiment and learning how to write in various different genres. I have definitely taken my love of genre blending with me to this day.
I think the main thing I took from my time at Purchase is that there is room for everyone in music. You don’t need to feel competitive with your peers.
Be happy for the success of those around you, and know that your journey and success may look different (and that is A-okay). Just make good music, and don’t give up. You gotta be in it for the long haul.
Feminist themes frame many of your songs. What draws you to this topic?
For one, I am a woman, so women’s rights affect me every day. I like to draw from my own experiences and writing from the lens of a woman’s experience just happens naturally, I think.
I grew up in a Latin family where the women ran everything. I think the experience of being raised by a bunch of strong, independent women has shaped the way I interact with the world and how I cope with my experiences.
I really love tapping into the divine feminine and coming from a place of strength, wisdom, and perseverance.
“Inner Child” focuses on identifying and embracing inner pain. What influenced you to write about this theme?
I’ve been unpacking a lot of childhood trauma the past few years in therapy and focusing a lot on inner child healing.
I think when you’re the change-maker trying to break the cycle of generational trauma in your family, it can be super isolating. Everyone would much rather you continue to push everything under the rug.
The biggest thing that I have had to deal with is some of my family refusing to face what is right in front of them, because it is too uncomfortable or painful for them to face.
For me, embracing the pain and walking through it is the best way to fully heal. Just acknowledging what happened can be so validating.
I don’t want to shy away from my experiences, however painful. I want to take them, feel them all the way through, and use them to grow into the person my younger self would be proud of. I’m a big believer that you are not what happened to you.
You are what happens after, when you pick up the pieces and decide whether or not you will keep your heart open despite all the pain and heartbreaks.
How did your upcoming release Tedious & Brief come together?
I suffer from night terrors, and at the time of writing the EP, I was having a lot of dreams where women would get murdered and their ghosts would come to me to help solve their murders. It was really intense.
Separately, I was grappling with feelings of grief for who I was before life’s trials and tribulations weighed so heavily on my chest. I was reading a lot about abuse and its long-lasting effects on people and feeling it in real time.
I wanted to examine the underbelly of abuse in a way that felt cathartic to me, so I turned to my songwriting. I wrote so many songs during that time and then chose the six ones that I felt the most connected to.
Aside from this track and “Dead Girl,” what more should listeners expect to hear?
My next single “Tedious,” out in November, is about learning to live wholeheartedly instead of being in survival mode all the time.
There is another track about always being called “too sensitive” because you feel things so deeply and face your feelings.
The last song on the EP is from the perspective of a ghost haunting the people that led to her demise, wondering if they care enough to miss her.
A lot of the songs are about loss, whether it be loss of self, loss of a childhood, or loss of relationships you never thought would end.
You pull from rock, pop, and R&B. Over the past few years you’ve been releasing music, how has your sound taken shape or evolved?
I think I’ve learned that I can blend all three into my sound and still have consistency in my songwriting. I think I’ve gotten better at blending the genres in a more subtle and deliberate way as I’ve continued to develop my craft.
I have always loved pop and R&B, and I think my melodies portray that naturally. I have always worked with rock musicians from the time I was 15 years old, playing in local venues on Long Island.
There’s something about putting pop and R&B melodies over rock riffs and chord progressions that have always made my brain really happy.
What plans do you have to promote this release?
I have a really fun merch collaboration I’ll be announcing soon, as well as a short film that goes with the entirety of the EP coming out later this year.
Making the film has been incredibly rewarding thus far, and I cannot wait to put it out in the world for everyone to see. I’m also going to start playing some live shows soon, so keep a lookout for announcements about that, too!