This time, it’s personal for Alexa Dirks

Songwriter confronts nerves and projects confidence with Begonia

Alexa Dirks, the soulfully self-conscious singer at the heart of Begonia, is following up her sold-out March 3 EP release by writing music for her first full-length album.

She says she wants it to be as personal as possible.

“When you’re honest about things and other people see that, then they can be more honest with themselves. My goal is just to be as myself as possible, so that people can relate to that.”

Dirks says that being herself means accepting the awkward parts.

“I know I’m not a cookie-cutter woman in the pop world. And I’m not trying to be. I just feel like I want to speak for the woman who maybe doesn’t always feel comfortable with themselves but is powering through … (and) trying to do good, even if they feel awkward sometimes.”

After a Juno award-winning career as part of Chic Gamine, Dirks says she feels a heightened sense of vulnerability striking out on her own. She recalls paralyzingly fierce anxiety striking her on the day of Begonia’s first rehearsal.

“I was so nervous, I was vomiting. And this is something that I’ve done a million times. I’ve been to a rehearsal 10,000 times,” Dirks says. “I can’t even count on all of the fingers and toes that I have how many times I’ve been in a rehearsal space. It’s not like this is a new thing for me.”

Dirks says if she felt uniquely afraid, it was because Begonia is uniquely important to her.

“I hold this project so closely … Like, I want to project this confident person, but inside it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I felt paralyzed, which now seems – laughable is the wrong word because, like, I remember that feeling. It was fucking scary.”

Similarly, when Dirks reflects on her sold-out EP release, she confides, “It just felt like the most personal – like I was walking on stage with no clothes on and just being like, ‘What’s up? Check it out! What do you think?’” 

She laughs before adding, “And then crying and running off stage, like ‘No! Don’t tell me anything! I don’t want to know!’”

Making music as Begonia is not all about feeling naked and overcoming fear. Quite often, it is also about empowerment.

“I feel a responsibility now – if I’m going to contribute something, I want it to mean something,” Dirks says.

“Sometimes being lost, being almost 30, that’s kind of confusing. Figuring yourself out and figuring out where you fit in as a woman in a society that’s pretty patriarchal and tells you that you should be a certain way or look a certain way or have children at a certain age or marry at a certain age … I don’t know. I just want women to feel good about themselves.”

The next chance to see Begonia in Manitoba will be this summer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Discover more from Begonia at hellobegonia.com.

Published in Volume 71, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 23, 2017)

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