Photo: Pat Ryder / Courtesy of Fancy PR

Alex Porat on Tackling Asian Representation in Pop with ‘Miss Sick World’

Canadian pop singer Alex Porat ruminates on the current lack of Asian representation in pop music. “It still feels like there’s a long way to go.”

Miss Sick World
Alex Porat
6 October 2021

As someone who’s always wanted to make a name for herself in a music industry that lacks Asian representation, Canadian pop singer Alex Porat intends to turn that narrative on its head with her first album, Miss Sick World. With a sound reminiscent of Lennon Stella or Charlotte Lawrence, Porat’s debut studio effort tackles everything from modern loneliness to coming of age in a world that doesn’t want to see you succeed.

Born in Vancouver and later moving to Toronto for high school, Porat grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Christina Aguilera. “I found all three of them through film: The Bodyguard, Titanic, and Mulan. Film was a really big part of my childhood and was where I learned that music was a career that even existed,” she told me. But her dreams of being a musician were born long before that. “I don’t remember it well but or how the events unfolded, but when I was four years old, I sang on this outdoor stage in Beijing,” she explained. “I remember singing two nursery rhymes and then the audience cheering for me. And since then, I’ve always loved the stage and singing.”

The singer feels as though there’s a lot to be said for the current lack of Asian representation in pop music, having grown up struggling to find role models or even just other musicians who looked like her. Her dream is to remedy that through her creations. “I feel like there has been some progress where there was lack of Asian representation but, it still feels like there’s a long way to go,” she says. “Growing up in North America, Asian artists weren’t accessible to me. They weren’t in mainstream music, and they weren’t at the forefront of other North American media, so I struggled to find role models. As it gets better, hopefully, the children in generations to come don’t feel how I did. It’s a very heavy feeling to carry when you’re young because you don’t know any different, and you feel like you’ve been left behind.”

Out of all the songs on Miss Sick World, the title track tackles this theme head-on. “I wrote it with Lowell and Nathan Ferraro, and we wanted it to feel very vulnerable,” she said. “It’s about being worn down by a world that doesn’t necessarily want you to succeed but having to persevere through it because you see your dreams right in front of you. Honesty and vulnerability drove this song, and it’s what made me so nervous at first to release it. But I’m happy to share this with everyone finally.”

She also believes the title track to be the album’s most substantial emotional offering. “It was left for last because it really has felt like the overarching theme for the project as I’ve become a lot more comfortable confronting the struggles I’ve faced since I was a kid through writing these songs. I hope that maybe someone out there will feel a little bit less alone because of them.”

While Porat’s first album does deal with the heaviness of these emotions, the majority of the tracks are pop music at its finest: putting you in your feels before demanding that you dance them away. The singer’s passion for pop music is driven by the variety that defines the genre. “To me, pop can really be anything that society makes it,” she said. “I think what’s really exciting is how much opportunity there is in pop to play around and experiment by blending and bringing in ideas from different genres and seeing what else can be sewn together to make something cool.”

In support of Miss Sick World, Porat is heading out on the road this fall in Canada with fellow pop artist Ralph. “I’m so excited for it,” she said. “I think we’re close enough, like neighbors, for people to come out and dance to both sets, but the music is very different. I love Ralph and her music, so I’m looking forward to traveling and taking the stage with her. Come see us!” The singer also teased releasing more new music from the vault in the foreseeable future, including some collaborations. “We’ll see,” she declared coyly.