Performer Spotlight: Phoenix Axel readies for launch of first EP


Photo by Phoenix Passini

Junior Phoenix Passini is a talented musician who is preparing for the launch of their first EP.

We understand you are a member of concert choir. When do you start singing, and how long have you been involved in choir?

I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, my mom is a music teacher and has been heavily involved in choir and theatre throughout her entire life. It came to me naturally, and I’ve been in choir all three years of high school so far!

How would you describe the dynamic in concert choir?

It’s fun! We obviously do a lot of singing, but it’s really just a big family, there to support each other and have a good time. I haven’t been in a class like it before, everyone is nice to each other and obviously very involved in the process, and Fan is an incredible teacher! I think it’s honestly my favorite class of the day right now.

A promotional piece for FIFTEEN, Phoenix Axel’s upcoming album. (Photo by Phoenix Axel)

Can you explain the difference between the different choirs? How is concert choir different from chorus, for example?

To be fair, I did not get to do the final concert freshman year in mixed chorus because of the pandemic, so my group missed out on the end of the year bonding piece that comes with that concert. Having done that concert this year, I can easily say that concert choir is the nicest group of people, as are the rest of the choirs, but we’ve been able to grow and bond with each other for multiple years. I don’t think there is a huge difference between the choirs, we’re all there to sing and have a good time, and although there’s an element of improvement from freshman year to senior year, that’s just because we’ve had the ability to grow and learn more.

Music obviously plays a big part in your life: we understand you are working on an album. Can you tell us about that?

My album is called FIFTEEN, and is going to be released June 15 on all platforms under the name Phoenix Axel. I turned fifteen during the pandemic, and wanted to immortalize the year that I lost because I was inside the whole time. About a year and a half ago, I realized I was dealing with issues in my personal life that I didn’t see other musicians talking about, and I’d been trying to write what could’ve been an album for about 2 years at that point, just not really going anywhere with it. In June of 2020, [I] got into a band called Palaye Royale and through watching them perform and interviews about them, I decided to finish writing the album I’d always dreamed of writing. I released a song on YouTube entitled “Mars” (which is now on Spotify as well) in October 2020.

FIFTEEN was put on the back-burner until mid-2021, when I got into a different band that really inspired me to write and even rewrite a few songs, and finally start putting together the album. It was all recorded in my room, on my computer, using my ukulele, guitar and the built-in computer mic. Some of the songs aren’t my favorite, but I know it’s just the beginning and there is significant room where I can improve, which makes me excited. There were four singles for the album, all available on most streaming platforms, the most recent being the title track “Fifteen” which released April 14. [Note: the album cover artwork for FIFTEEN, not pictured here, was created by junior Bella Wiehle.)

To be honest, I write for myself, but in doing so I hope that I’m able to get through to someone, and let people know that these issues they deal with don’t have to isolate them. I was alone in 2020, trying to deal with my issues alone, and I remember how horrible I felt, and want people to remember someone cares. I’ve built up a good relationship with the people who listen to my music, and I do deeply appreciate and care for them, right now most of them are my friends, but even years down the line when I have a bigger audience, I don’t see anything changing too much.

Who has really mentored you as a performer?

I don’t really have a mentor in real life, but I have found deep inspiration in musicians like Gerard Way and Awsten Knight. Gerard Way is a very eccentric performer, and takes the stage by force, really using his love of theatre on stage. He is able to capture the attention of an audience through his crazy phrases and wild ideas. When I think of my next two albums, I envision one of them potentially being a concept album, something Gerard writes about in almost all of his albums. Awsten Knight has also been a mentor for me, in the sense that I would not be taking music seriously without his influence. He once said something along the lines of “If the next generation of musicians wants it then they have to work for it,” and I’ve taken that idea to heart. I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m working hard for what I want. I told him this when I met the band he’s a part of, and he told me that I was already a musician just because I told myself I was. His band, Waterparks, is very important to me, in the sense that I write lyrics partially the way I do, because of them. I’ve learned to be a bit more outgoing in my themes, and that it’s okay to be upset and write about it.

Beyond releasing the album, what role do you see for music in your future?

I have many goals at this point, mainly to tour with a few of my favorite bands and sell out venues like The Metro downtown. I hope to be able to do music full-time, and already have ideas for the next two albums and EPs. I plan to alternate between albums and EPs, hopefully I’ll be able to put out the first EP next spring (no promises though, yet!), and I hope to be able to work with artists like Zeph and Ryan Ross. I see music playing a very large role in my life, hopefully being my career for a large portion of my life.