Growing up in Small Town, Mississippi, Alexandra Presley was sometimes teased because she paid attention to what was happening outside of her world.
Because of a fascination with pop-culture, the hottest new album drop and her interest in the world of high fashion, Presley said she was often “bullied and treated like an outcast in [her] school.” The torment eventually led her to transfer to Tupelo High School, and there she decided to “let nothing stand in the way of achieving her dream.”
“I would listen to Blink-182 and Shirley Manson, who was practically my idol when I was in elementary school, and that was totally not normal for a kid my age,” she said.
In those early years, Presley began to grow as a musician and a fan, often crafting her own music videos and exploring other sides of music that included production, performance and packaging. Today, Presley, 22, is an integrated marketing and communications major at the University of Mississippi, and she has written fashion columns for the UM student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian.
Introduced to the world of music and creation by her mother, Nancy Presley, who once dreamed of a career in the music industry, yet opted to raise a family, Presley took piano lessons from an early age and has always been a singer.
“I will never forget the night that I saw Fleetwood Mac for the first time while watching The Midnight Special,” Presley’s mother said. “From that moment I knew what my dream was — I wanted to be just like Stevie Nicks. But, my mother had other ideas for me.”
To this day, Nancy Presley admits she still has “a pang of deep regret” that she did not chase her dream; however, she will do anything to allow her daughter to shine.
After transferring to Tupelo High School, Presley said she was finally at a school that allowed her to freely express who she was. She found friends who supported her interests, and began to feel more positive about life even though she was still stuck in a small town.
“There were a few summers when I attended classes at the Parsons School of Design in New York City,” she said. “At that point in my life, I was still unsure of how I was going to go about attaining my dream, so I played with the idea of a career in fashion and using that to work my way into music, because it was also something I had always loved.”
The experiences and friendships she made in New York would eventually connect Presley to the career opportunity she had been waiting for.
“It was crazy, really, because I was in the Hamptons with some of my friends on a boat that we had gotten from Airbnb,” she said. “Somehow, everything came together, and I met this guy there.
“He worked for The Cutting Room Studios in New York, and ultimately, after bonding over our shared love for music, he mentioned that I could come out sometime and work there as an intern.”
During the summer following her junior year of college, Presley packed and moved to New York City to begin learning what went on behind the scenes of music production.
“Their whole process of building a song is just as scientific as it is creative, which was something I learned throughout my time in the studio this summer,” Presley said, adding that she has a new respect for major artists who may be perceived as insane to others.
“Kanye West, for example, is so extravagant and creative,” she said, “and as much as people want to hate on him, he is a creative genius when it comes to creating new tracks and breaking the barriers of music.”
Presley’s time in the studio provided her with several opportunities she would have never imagined as a high school student. From producing her own music, playing and recording vocals, and creating a solid ground to further her business, she is determined to keep growing. “I’m lucky enough to have found a small studio here in Oxford,” she said.
You can listen to some of Presley’s music on Soundcloud.
As a UM student, Presley said she’s found it difficult to continuously produce new tracks to send out to record executives. The ability to keep up with the latest trends, craft your own vibe, and get the music in the hands of someone before another artist or producer shines brighter, she said, is one of the hardest things about the music industry. But she’s determined to pursue her dreams.