Five years ago, while still in high school, Alexandra Savior uploaded a cover of “Big Jet Plane” on her YouTube channel, triggering a tweeting endorsement from Courtney Love: “This girl is gonna be huge!” Soon, the teenager, who started writing songs at 14, was fielding calls from Love, and Linda Perry was comparing her to the next Fiona Apple. “I wasn’t super driven. It wasn’t like I set out for anything. It just kind of happened,” says Savior over a plate of ribs at Moonshine Grill, where she played four shows during SXSW, including Showtime’s packed “Twin Peaks” showcase. “I’ll probably sleep like 48 hours when I get back from Austin,” says the first-time fest attendee.
Soon, finding that amount of free time might be tough for the singer-songwriter. On April 7, the 21-year-old will release her long-awaited debut album, “Belladonna of Sadness,” co-written with Alex Turner, frontman for Arctic Monkeys and Last Shadow Puppets, and produced by “crazy talented” James Ford, who has worked with Haim and Florence and the Machine. Hopefully, Savior’s inability to describe her dreamy desert-rock sound won’t prevent her from fulfilling Love’s prophecy. “It’s hard to describe yourself. It’s like writing your eHarmony description,” she cracks.
PROVENANCE: Portland, Ore.
WRITING PROCESS: “I started to keep a journal when I was 12, and then when I was 14, I wrote a proper journal, and then it just became songs. I would put melodies and lyrics to my friends playing the piano, but it was never really organized,” says the musician, who learned to play the guitar three years ago.
BIG BREAK: Her first demo song, “Risk,” was featured on the soundtrack for the second season of HBO series “True Detective.”
L.A. STORY: “I lost so much weight when I moved [to Los Angeles] just because I was, like, depressed,” says Savior, who scored a deal with Columbia Records within two months of her arrival. “I felt like I was in purgatory for a long time,” she explains. But once her label hooked her up with Turner, work became “really fun.” “I just thought maybe he wanted to write a song,” she says. Turns out, he wanted to write a full record.
TWINNING: “When I was little, I used to get told I look like the Olsen twins,” reveals the lithe blonde. Her present-day lookalike is yet another Olsen: Elizabeth. “I used to play with this guy Darren [Weiss] who’s in this band Papa, and the first thing he said was that [I looked like Elizabeth]. I’m not offended. She’s natural and she seems like a cool girl.”
DREAM DESIGNER: Savior, who once modeled for Erin Fetherston, admits to being “pretty obsessed” with Gucci’s Sixties-inspired wares. “I would die if they sent me anything,” she gushes. But until then, she often opts for vintage. Offstage, her look is decidedly more tomboy. “I usually wear overalls,” she admits.
DATING DON’T: “I was like, no more musicians! I’m around them all the time. You get sick of ’em. You need someone who’s solid,” says Savior. Enter boyfriend Sam Kristofski, a filmmaker who directed the video for her single, “Mystery Girl.” In turn, she appeared in his short film “Zieri Cosmos.” “His friends are in it, which is fun,” says Savior, who insists she has no acting aspirations. “Besides that, no,” she says emphatically, the same answer she gives when asked about plans to model in the future.
UP NEXT: Her European tour kicks off in April, with stops in Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, where she will play the Primavera Sound festival this June.