Rangoon Rhythm: Dora Alex

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Myanmore talks with 18-year-old Dora Alex, who released her first ever music album First Thing First in September 2018 – and it went straight to Yangon’s Top 10.

Music has always been a part of Dora Alex’s life. Her father, Alex, is well known as one of Myanmar’s favourite singers and Dora has always been his number fan – more or less. “I remember falling asleep backstage of his show when I was 5 years old,” Dora giggles. “And then again on the chair in the recording studio.”

Dora was raised together with her twin brother Kevin and their family of four is close-knit and supportive. Having lived in many different houses throughout her life, Dora explains that she feels like the only thing that stayed constant in her life is her family — her dad, mom and brother. “That’s why they became home to me,” she says.

When Dora was young, she started learning the piano and how to play a guitar, both in school classes as well as private lessons with her dad – who she describes as funny and an amazing musician. Her upbringing led her to appreciate music of all genres and even today she can’t pick a favourite style.

Dora’s own career in music started when her dad’s best friend, Kyar Pauk from the band Big Bag, was discussing the idea to record the English book The Strange Old Man. This inspired Dora to show him the songs that she had been writing in her free time. The recording sessions swiftly followed and her album, First Things First, was released two years later.

“First Things First is a part of me,” explains Dora. “The whole album was a process that I needed to go through to be the person that I am today.” Dora feels that the lyrics are very self-explanatory. Some come from the books she has read, some come from her own memories and when she sits down with her guitar, the melodies come to her and she just lets them flow. For example, the song Wine is simply about how much she likes it!

“I’m not inspired by people but by situations,” explains Dora. “I’m inspired by situations I face that teach me something meaningful. By circumstances that allow me grow, learn, observe, but in the same time fail, fall, and make mistakes.”

Having performed at Yangon Zay once before her album was released, Dora is now looking for more gigs. As she’s leaving Yangon to study abroad, she is determined not to stop writing songs – but it undecided about whether she will choose to share them or not!

First Things First is out now. Find Dora Alex on Instagram and Facebook via doraalex and Spotify.

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