Interview / Elizabeth Stafford / The New Respects

Members of The New Respects: Alexandria Fitzgerald, Alexis Fitzgerald, Darius Fitzgerald, Jasmine Mullen

  • If you could just start out with a little background on how you all decided to make music together, that’d be awesome.

    • Alexis: We grew up in Nashville and everyone did music. So we thought, “We aren’t going to make music.” We were the cool kids that didn’t make music. But one day, Alexandria and Jasmine wrote a song together, and someone said we should start a band. So we did. It was a very casual thing. Over the years, we grew more passionate about it and really dove into it.

  • How did you all being surrounded by gospel music impact your process now? Did you ever try to push away from that?

    • Alexandria: We definitely had our rebellious phase. But we realize now it’s not about NOT doing religious but about speaking up about what we believe in and what we are passionate about. With so many things going on in the world, we want to make statements that are true and real, and the base of it is love.

  • Looking back at several years ago, how have you all stayed growing and changing? I believe you used to more folk and now you definitely have a strong rock and blues influence.

    • Jasmine: I think we ended up in rock as a result of curiosity just like we ended up in folk as a result of curiosity. We listened to a lot of Mumford & Sons and then we realized none of us could really play a banjo, and it didn’t really fit our style. Going to pop, soul, and rock ‘n roll felt right. It’s like a pair of jeans that fit just right. And as time goes on, I think we are open to finding new parts of ourselves, but this feels like home right now.

  • I was actually speaking to a young lady in the Dillon Francis crowd about her African-American background and how it affects her approach to some things and her lifestyle. Does your cultural background have any influence on your music and the way you create? If so, please explain.

    • Alexis: We grew up in a very diverse community. We had people who were black that loved us, and we had people who were white that loved us. I never really thought it was a thing, and I never thought racism was a thing. We grew up in a very sheltered mentality. The more we grow up and see the world for how it is, I think we have a very unique call and serve as a bridge between different cultures because we lived in both. But I love going back and looking at influences in rock ‘n roll like Jimi Hendrix and black people who did music that we are putting a twist on and realizing that this isn’t necessarily new, but there is a long history, and it’s exciting.

  • In a lot of your songs, you have such a high energy. How do you keep that up and effectively translate that to the crowd?

    • Darius: I feel like you just have to give it. If you want high energy, you have to give it back to them. I think that’s my game plan. If they are seeing we are having fun, hopefully they will come have fun with us.

  • What do you all individually think you bring to the table?

    • Alexandria: I think in my guitar playing, I never learned anything, but I did learn how to use my ear. I was very influenced by people like John Mayer, but hopefully I can have my own spin on that. I think I’m coming from a different perspective because I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know the rules. It’s all very honest. That’s all our stories. We were never taught what was right or wrong, and we had a lot of space to be our own person. We don’t know how to be normal, and we were never taught the rules so we break them by accident.

    • Jasmine: I think since I am the only one not a sibling, I bring a different outlook on life because I was raised differently. Even the way we form songs can be different.

    • Darius: I am the only dude. Yeah, that’s my answer.

  • What do you think is in store for The New Respects?

    • Alexandria: It’s crazy because we are here at Hangout to play, not just chill. It’s beyond anything we expected. We are so early in our career so anything could be ahead of us.

    • Alexis: For sure an album will be coming out soon. We are writing for that. And we will be opening for Fitz and The Tantrums on tour soon.

  • From what I have read, you all like to present yourselves as very approachable and fun. How do you all maintain such a positive attitude and outlook?

    • Darius: I honestly feel like that is just our demeanor. We don’t put on a show. We just like to meet new people and to do that, you have to be that kind of person.

  • As a last piece of advice, what advice do you have for young people trying to maintain a strong spirit in their process of creation and work?

    • Jasmine: Don’t give up. Work hard. Dream big.

    • Alexandria: Be sure you can do it. People in our community will tell us we can do it even when we think we can’t. We always compared ourselves to the greats. Like Coldplay. But then we realize, like, yeah, their stories are way longer than ours. Stay positive and keep good people around you.

    • Alexis: Have fun.

    • Alexandria: Yeah, we are best friends. We have fun. Whether it is music or going out and getting coffee, stay in a positive environment.

    • Darius: As hard as it is, don’t compare yourself to others. With social media, it is easy because we have the world at our fingertips. As much as you can, don’t do it. You’ll end up mimicking someone else. We need more 100% people and less copies.

    • Alexis: We went to a concert one time and we said, “Okay, we aren’t going to compare and be discouraged. We will be inspired.” We are inspired by great musicians, not discouraged.