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Alex Aiono takes things ‘One At A Time’

The US singer and YouTube sensation on fame, goals and working with John Legend
08:43 AM March 10, 2018

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“Fresh is best” basic tee, Cotton On

When Alex Aiono walks into the room, he greets everyone with a big smile and a genuine “Hi!” He even gets to know everyone’s names. It’s almost like he’s not aware of his fame.


For someone of his stature, it’s refreshing that he’s down-to-earth.

Breaking into the scene as a YouTube sensation (his videos have more than half a billion views combined), Aiono, a singer and producer from Phoenix, Arizona, was discovered and signed by Interscope Records.


This led to a tour around North America, Australia and Asia. Last February, he was in Manila for a three-day visit to Megaworld Lifestyle Malls.

If he stays grounded, it’s because even he himself can’t grasp how big his career has become.

“That was always the plan, to make this a career,” he says. “And however many people wanted to listen to me, obviously, the more, the merrier. But I just can’t wrap my head around it because, realistically, you’re not supposed to have fans on the other side of the world. That’s not a thing that everybody has.”

He adds: “It’s super-crazy! It’s such a big blessing. I feel happy and excited and kind of weird. I come here with thousands of fans and amazing, beautiful people.”

Creative process

Printed polo, Bench

This kind of public attention, however, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Apart from being hardworking, Aiono always pours his heart into his work and remains hands-on throughout the creative process.

Everything starts from the songwriting to preparing to shoot his music videos, and down to editing and final version.


“I think it’s important as an artist to be in control of your work,” he says.

“When I write music, it’s usually from my personal experience or what others go through,” he adds. “I remember my sister saying, ‘Oh, I remember this guy said something to me that’s so cute,’ and I wrote it down and made lyrics. Or, I recalled going through a breakup and I wanted to write songs about it. I like writing about things that are close and personal to me because I think the best music comes from the heart.”

“Manila 87” tee, pink joggers, Bench

His latest music video for “One At A Time” also made use of YouTube’s 360-degree function, allowing viewers to click around the video and watch it from different perspectives.

This was an idea YouTube brought to his team, but it was something that Aiono helped conceptualize.

“They said, ‘We want to do a 360-degree video,’ and we thought it would be pretty awesome. So we met with different directors and went with the best idea. And so, the creative process, to me, is something that’s super special and it’s important for me as an artist to be a part of it.”

Of course, it helps that he has worked with such artists as John Legend and T-Pain, whom he credits for teaching him how to create music.

“Each time I work with an artist, it’s always great because you get to learn how people do things differently. And everybody does things differently. Everybody writes songs differently, everybody sings in different styles and in different ways.”

He adds: “Every time I get to work with any artist, it’s special because you learn how to do something differently and maybe you’d do it differently from now on. So, it’s always great to collaborate,” he says.


Bomber jacket, black graphic tee, Bench

While many people consider Aiono a true success, he’ll be the first to admit that he still has personal and career goals to accomplish—such as winning a Grammy, selling platinum albums and buying his mother a house.

“To me, it’s all about taking it ‘One At A Time’—one little goal, one little step, one little country at a time.”

Still, in terms of happiness, Alex thinks he’s already made it.

“That’s a tricky thing because the whole concept of ‘making it’ is different. And for me I’ve always just wanted to be happy… Technically, I’ve ‘made it.’ To me it’s being happy. And I’m so happy.”

That’s why he is extremely grateful to his fans who have brought him joy and continued to support him throughout his journey.

“The fans here are so amazing and so strong and active,” he says. They’re always with me through everything. They’re the best things in the whole world, and I’m just so grateful to have them. Thank you. You’re the best. Mahal kita.”

Denim jacket, Bench; Rolling Stones tee, Cotton On

Photography Shoun Nicholas David
Styling Luis Carlo San Juan
Special thanks to MCA Music
Shot on location Eastwood Richmonde Hotel

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