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"If you have any kind of misgivings or disagreements with the people who you spend so much time with, not having them there to have that day-to-day interaction really crystallizes the way you know you feel about them," Alexander says. "Since then, it's also clarified what I see for myself and what I hope to get for myself, because a huge part of my relationship with my dad was him wanting the best for me."
Alexander still is working a day job, at Hi-Health, but he still considers music his career. With his friend and business partner Gerald Tennison, the duo run Outer Space Jams, a digital music production and publishing company. Alexander has produced for other singers, but Square Eyes is Outer Space Jams' main focus.
"I think Drew's just kind of made to make music," Tennison, 21, says. "If Drew wants to do producing full time, he could be the next Dr. Luke, the next big producer writing for people."
Alexander also has been in the studio with MTV Hype Music production team Midi Mafia, who have expressed interest in producing his upcoming album. He says he feels he finally has a strong identity, which is reflected in the slick music video clip for the song "All Night," and his personality is showcased in other videos made by Alexander and Tennison for their site.
Despite his new-found confidence, Alexander has no desire to ever get on a major label again. Another local music professional, Tim Kirch, owner of 8123 Management, which represents Sire Records/Warner Bros. act The Maine, agrees major labels are losing more clout every day.
"I think the overall system is sort of screwed up in a way," Kirch, 24, says. "With music sales collapsing, I don't think these big labels could fund a team or put all their focus into a specific artist. A lot of bands chase labels, and musicians just need to go after a fan base that's already listening."
Indeed, Alexander is more focused on creating music he's proud of than pleasing labels, and he feels stronger now about his musicianship than ever.
"At this point, my misgivings about being an artist and being able to follow through on everything that entails — and continuing down this path and knowing what my identity is and knowing what I want to be to people and what I want people to see me as — has never been more clear," Alexander says. "Any misgivings that I had about that in the past are completely gone."