Every song from Alex Di Leo is an automatic escape from day-to-day life, a retreat into a state of mind that’s more hopeful and carefree and full of possibility. With his soulful vocals and crystalline melodies, the Fort Lauderdale-based singer/songwriter delivers an impassioned breed of indie-pop that melts away everyday worries and leaves the listener inspired to live more fearlessly.
Given their transportive power, it’s fitting that so many of Di Leo’s songs are sparked by his adventures in visiting new cities all over the country and across the globe. “I’m always most motivated to write when I’m in a place I’ve never been before,” says the 22-year-old artist. “Even just riding on the plane when I’m traveling somewhere new seems to do something to me, and the melodies just start to come together.”
On his new EP Strange Open Land, Di Leo channels that inspiration into an intricately detailed but hook-heavy sound. The follow-up to his debut EP So We Go—a 2016 release that landed Di Leo on the top 20 at more than 100 college radio stations around the U.S.—the EP also perfectly captures the infectious energy that Di Leo’s shown in sharing stages with such artists as Barns Courtney, lovelytheband, X Ambassadors, and The Academic.
With its artful fusion of electronic elements and organic instrumentation, Strange Open Land features lead single “Brooklyn Bridge”: a gorgeously sweeping anthem that finds Di Leo reflecting on his early days with his long-term girlfriend, matching the song’s sparkling piano tones with playfully romantic lyrics (e.g., “We don’t got no money but we’re stupid rich”). The EP also explores the dizzying intensity of infatuation on “Underneath the Covers,” while the brightly shimmering “Promise” looks toward the prospect of a future together. In a moment of dreamy storytelling, Strange Open Land’s soaring title track speaks to the thrill of the unknown in young love (“We’re gonna love all over/Get lost and younger”). And on “All My Life,” with its graceful guitar work and luminous vocals, Di Leo fully embraces the philosophy underlying all of his music. “‘All My Life’ is about taking chances and making the most out of every opportunity that you get,” he says. “It’s about how, instead of waiting around for something good to come your way, you should go out and get it yourself.”
Co-produced by Di Leo with his close collaborators Brother Sundance and Josh Diaz, Strange Open Land showcases the sharp musicianship he’s honed since taking up guitar as a kid. “When I was 10 my grandmother gave me an acoustic guitar and I started messing around with it, then put a band together a couple years later,” he recalls. After spending much of high school recording and playing gigs around town, Di Leo parted ways with the band his senior year and dedicated himself to refining his vision as a solo artist. Arriving in November 2016, So We Go landed Di Leo on IndiMusic TV’s Top 21 Countdown the following month, and also made him the first local artist to end up in rotation on Miami alternative radio station 104.3 FM The Shark.
Along with creating Strange Open Land, Di Leo has devoted the past two years to playing live, including appearances at major festivals like Riptide and a 2018 tour with Arkansas alt-rock band Knox Hamilton. With his live set featuring a five-piece band, each show proves Di Leo’s natural magnetism as a performer. “When we played in Texas this summer, there were people who’d gone to the show the night before and then driven three or four hours to come again the next night, which was so exciting for me,” he notes. Showing his mutual love for the crowd, Di Leo has begun taking Polaroid cameras out on the road, then posing with fans and autographing the photos to create a personalized memento. “I try my best to make every show feel like a big hang between a whole bunch of friends,” he points out. In fact, Di Leo adds, that celebratory spirit infuses all aspects of his musical output. “I try to put a feel-good vibe into everything I do,” he says. “Even when the story I’m telling in a song gets a little dark, I want to help people to feel more positive, and remember that life was meant to be lived.”