Alex Kijek performs as a one-woman acoustic show under the stage name SocioEmpath. The newly accepted graduate student will attend Marywood University in the fall, but a busy schedule hasn’t stopped her from writing her own music and playing her guitar in venues around Northeast Pennsylvania. Kijek’s mellow tunes tell the stories of the ups and downs in her life, a testament to her stage name.
“SocioEmpath takes both empathy and sociopath and puts them together, and they’re basically opposites. It’s a play on how I often find myself in one extreme or the other with a lot of things. I’m never really in the middle,” the 24-year-old said.
Now ready to take on the local music scene, she never settles for just the middle.
Q: How did you get involved in music?
A: I almost got involved in music by accident. There was a local Girl Scout camp I went to every summer, Camp Louise. I signed up for a particularly unpopular program when I was 12, and it got canceled. I was told I could either get a refund or pick another program. I elected to go to a two-week program that taught guitar skills. I attended that program again every summer until the camp closed.
Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public?
A: I remember being really nervous, but what really stands out is that when I was “done” with what I planned on playing, I was asked to keep going. It was basically because the next band wasn’t ready yet, but it was still pretty flattering.
Q: What is the process like for writing your music?
A: Usually a melody and lyrics just pop into my head, just like two to four lines, and I expand from there.
Q: How have you changed as a musician over the years?
A: I’ve gotten a lot more confident, and that’s awesome. I went from playing my songs because maybe people might like them to playing because I like my own songs.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a musician?
A: My personal favorite memory was long before I started playing shows. My best friend and I wanted to do music stuff, we were both 13 or 14, so neither of us drove. He lived like 40 minutes away from me, so we would try to play together through the phone. There was always a delay, so we were never on time together, but it was fun.
Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
A: Even though I haven’t been playing shows for a long time, I’ve been going to them for the last ten years. One thing I’ve really seen change is musical accessibility for underage kids. I was really lucky, I grew up going to shows at Cafe Metropolis (in Wilkes-Barre), and kids now don’t really have a steady place to go to shows. But having the internet develop more, and having more music websites and things has kept kids in the loop. I guess now, mostly, if you’re under 21, you don’t go to the music, you have to make it come to you.
Q: Who has influenced you over the years?
A: This is a tough question. I really don’t know. Not much of what I enjoy listening to really influences what I play, and I’ve never had any influence like, telling me to keep at it or anything. I’m pretty self-motivated.
Q: What is the biggest challenge?
A: Balancing my schedule. I work, and I dance the Joan Harris Center in Luzerne. I have been dancing there since I was 3 years old, doing ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance, and still do round 12 hours a week. I’ll be going to grad school in the fall to get my Ed.S. in school psychology. I’m also an avid reader and gamer, so I have to schedule in time to play or write music just to be able to get it all done.
Q: What are your future goals as a musician?
A: I like to think in terms of near future, so probably getting myself recorded decently and releasing a album.
— samantha stanich