Interview: Kita Alexander on Writing, Touring With the CT, and That Day at Snapper

27 Feb 2020 0 Share

Photo: WSL

Photo: WSL

COASTALWATCH | INTERVIEW

Hey so there's a couple things you should know about this week: First, The Drop Festival – a music festival that follows around the Australian WSL surf season – starts this weekend at Noosa. Second, on that line-up this year, alongside the motherflipping Presets, Boy and Bear, Ball Park Music, DZ Deathrays and Allday – is Kita Alexander – the singer, songwriter, popstar, and, as of this month, the woman who calls Owen Wright her husband. Third, Kita released a new single this week, which happens to be about her Olympian fella and their journey through recovery from his brain injury suffered at Pipe in 2015. And fourth, we spoke to Kita on a telephone. Big week. This is that telephone conversation, in text form.

CW: First up, congratulations on the wedding! Can you tell us about the day?

KA: Yeah! It was a beautiful sunny day, so the sun god or rain god was in our favour, or whatever you'd say, but the rain held off till the floods started coming a few days after. We got so lucky, absolutely nothing went wrong, which, you know, something usually goes wrong when you plan something for so long, like a wedding... I was half an hour late, got him sweating a little bit. He thought I'd run away to Mexico, all the boys were giving him shit, Mikey and stuff, but nah, I rocked up and like I said it was just perfect. My dream of how I wanted it to be came together. One of my girlfriends sang for us for our first dance, and it was the most wonderful day ever.

One of the most memorable images in surfing, in the last, I'm not sure, maybe decade, is of you and Owen and your son celebrating after Owen won at Snapper in 2017 following everything you guys had been through. I think everyone, whether they knew you guys or not, were so moved when they saw that. I was hoping you'd be able to take us through that day from your perspective. You'd lived every step of that journey, what was that day like for you?

Well, I'd been with him through it all and watching his challenges day to day, and what he had to go through to get to that final, the heats leading up to that let alone the recovery... like he'd only been surfing for a few months before that. The doctors only gave him the all-clear a few months before that to get back in the water, and each heat he surfed was like, “I just gotta survive…” It was really really pure, there was no other motive except getting through; getting the job done, and making it through. When he's ready he's going to tell his story in full, but he was still going through it, and he still went through it for a long time after. That recovery process is a long time, and to see him win when he was going through so much, that was more than we'd ever expected. And just so inspirational, even for me. I was so overwhelmed, I was shaking... it was.... I'm almost welling up right now talking about it.

Even from the outside, it felt like a miracle and a celebration in that he was just surfing again – that he was healthy and happy and surfing – and then to be in the comp was like, “Oh, well that's great,” and then he got through some heats, and that was like, “well that's great too,” but we didn't dream of the win.

No. Neither did we. We were just like, right, “Get one heat under your belt, do one heat. Alright, do the next round…” Everyone surfing against him and everyone on tour was also so supportive, and holding my hand. Everyone was holding on to each other every heat he did. We weren't wanting him to win necessarily, we were just wanting him to be okay... so for him to have that win, with so much surrounding it, it just meant so much for him and his confidence in his own recovery, because there was still such a long way to go. The fact that he could do his job and succeed whilst in the recovery stage... just incredible. He's such an incredible surfer, to be able to do that innately, and not have much training, he's a natural. It's just in him. And I think that confidence has stayed with him for a long time.

You guys live such nomadic lives, while raising a kid too, and I know you've got a new single coming out... how do you even go about sitting down and making music? What's your songwriting process, because it doesn't seem like it'd be easy to just set up and go for it?

No, these days, if I'm writing I have to be really inspired, it's not like I've got time every day to sit down and write even though I want to get back there. Because to practice something – to be good at surfing, you want to surf every day  – to be good at something you really want to do it every day. When I'm inspired, I still write, but it is just so full on like you said, there has to be real designated moments where I'm away for the week or I have to take myself out of the equation of how full on our life is. It's full on, but we're finding time and O's so great with Vali, and on the tour with the Drop shows, they're during the waiting period, the third day of the waiting period for each comp, and O's like, “Yeah I'll look after him.” “What if you're surfing?” “Oh someone on tour will be there, Mikey or Tyler…” It's a balancing act to find time to do stuff that we love, and that I love. Like, "Alright, schedule it in. O, you're on." And it's great. The reason why these are my first shows back is because they're on the tour and it's easy for us to ease back into this lifestyle. My lifestyle is in the city and his is on the coast, this tour blends both of them together, which is pretty unheard of.

You surf as well, right? What's your own relationship to surfing like?

When I was about 16 my friend's dad taught me to surf, she already surfed and yeah he took me out in Forster heaps, and all of a sudden decided I wanted to learn how to surf, and I'm not great, I just longboard, but I'm okay, I tried a new board over the summer, and...

What was the board?

I've gotta remember, it's this Byron brand, and it's a Japanese name, I actually can't remember the name (Ed note: It'd be a Gato Heroi, we think), it's in the store Wild Things. I literally have had two longboards in my whole life, I stood on this thing and I was like, “Woah, I can actually surf okay, I can noseride really well right now.” I've never experienced stepping on a different board like that. O and all the pros fricken change boards left right and centre, with tiny differences in the board, but I just never knew stepping on a different board could change your surfing so much... anyway, I discovered that this summer and I've been hinting at Owen, "Hey, remember this board... it's my birthday in a few weeks!"

The Drop Festival Dates and Locations:

Noosa – Saturday 29 February
Newcastle – Saturday 7 March
Manly – Saturday 14 March
Coolangatta - Saturday 28 March
Torquay – Saturday 11 April
Busselton - Saturday 25 April

You can see Kita perform at the Drop Festival, alongside The Presets, Boy & Bear, Ball Park Music, Allday, DZ Deathrays, and Graace by getting tickets here.

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