|Birth name||Alexis Rebecca Strum|
|Origin||Chingford, London, England|
|Labels||Warner Music Group (2002–2003)
Mercury Records (2005–2007)
Alexis Rebecca Strum is an English actress, singer-songwriter stand-up comedian and comedy writer.
She is currently performing stand-up comedy as 'Denise' and writing sketches for Hat Trick.Prior to her acting career, Alexis was a recording artist- she released singles in the UK whilst signed to Warner and Universal records respectively as a solo artist, provided guest vocals on the song, 'April Fools' with Robbie Williams, sang on dance records for York, Lange and Ed Case as well as wrote and recorded a song on Channel 4's 'The Inbetweeners' soundtrack in 2010. She has also worked extensively as a song-writer, co-writing "Still Standing" on Kylie Minogue's album Body, "Nothing Good About This Goodbye" on Rachel Stevens' album Come and Get It and "Why Not Us?" for top German girlband, Monrose. Alexis Strum was also the singer and songwriter behind Bo Pepper, a puppet-fronted indie pop band/ project, championed by the likes of Perez Hilton.
Making the transition into acting was definitely the right choice. As well as her work in film ('Will's Diaries', 'The Keith Lemon Film' and short films with Richard E Grant and Sir Ian McKellan), TV (world's first iPhone series, 'Persona', BBC3's 'Celebrity Bitchslap News') musicals ('Over The Rainbow',’ Exposure', 'Snow White'), commercials (M&S, Schweppes, Niquitin), and on stage (with British Touring Shakespeare and Theatre Productions), Alexis is fast building a name for herself as one to watch in UK comedy as both an actress and as writer.
Her play, 'Hummus' was selected by The Royal Court's 'Young Writer's Festival' last year and she wrote and co-starred in the short film, 'Shoes' (officially selected for Portobello, UK Jewish, Toronto Jewish and London Short Film Festivals) in 2012. 'Shoes' is directed by BBC's Dermot Canterbury and co-stars Steve Furst ('Little Britain', 'Skins').
Alexis recently finished production on a second self-penned short film, 'Taking Minutes', directed by Rachel Givney (of Rebel Wilson 'Bargain' fame) and co-starring Henry Luxemburg and is working on a screenplay adaptation of a successful novel as well as sketches for the web and beyond. She still manages to find time to contribute to TV soundtracks and has been commissioned to write and record tracks for Channel 4's 'The Inbetweeners' and ITV's 'Vital Signs' under her own name and her pseudonym, former Radio 2 and Perez Hilton favourite, Bo Pepper.
Alexis has also had rave reviews in theatre productions of 'It Started with a Touch', playing lesbian schoolteacher Fay at the Wimbledon Theatre and as Lady Macbeth in 'A Season Before The Tragedy of Macbeth' by Gloria Carreño at the Camden People's Theatre, for which she was described as, "the excellent Alexis Strum. Her strength and poise gave her character some much needed gravitas" Fringe Review 2010
Strum was born and brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Chingford, Essex; her parents are both half-Polish, with Belgian blood from her father's side and Italian from her mother's.
At age 14 she was discovered by Carole White (the booker at Elite Premier model agency who discovered Naomi Campbell) and began a short career as a fashion and beauty model, appearing in The Daily Mail newspaper as one of the 'new faces to watch'.
However, she soon discovered her love of music, and her desire to be a performer after she attended a school concert where a covers band were playing Mudhoney and Nirvana tracks. The very next day she went out and purchased her first guitar. Around this time she began writing and performing her own poetry and at age 17 became the youngest UK Farrago Slam Poetry champion, the award given at Chat's Palace in Hackney.
Turning to music, Alexis formed several local bands, performing Elastica and L7 tracks, before experimenting with computer-aided production, to emulate the sound of a full live band on her own. She studied English at King's College London, gaining a First Class degree in English Literature. Whilst there she held the position of Music Editor of the University newspaper, 'Roar' and also wrote a fashion/ beauty column in a magazine supplement, the now defunct, 'Insync'. Throwing herself into music and interviewing bands for 'Roar', she attended gigs and began playing her own, exaggerating her experience to blag performance spots. After graduating and spending a couple of years working odd jobs and performing here and there across London, she signed her first worldwide publishing deal with Mike Sault at Warner Chappell. She guest vocalled on tracks by Thrillseekers, Lange, and Ed Case until in 2002, Strum signed her first solo record contract.
In 2002, Strum landed a record deal with WEA records, distributed by the Warner Music Group. There she co-wrote and recorded an electronic-pop album, some of it written in her own home studio after taking a music production course at City Lit. She also worked with producers such as Xenomania. A single release was scheduled entitled "Addicted," with a video added to music television channels, and promo CDs sent ro radio, alongside an album sampler. The single was cancelled due to lack of media support, and Alexis released herself from her contract soon after. The album sampler features the tracks: "Addicted", "Coming On Strong", "Rock This Disco", "Still Standing", and "Nothing Good about This Goodbye"; two of the tracks were later recorded by popular artists: "Still Standing" features on Kylie Minogue's 2003 album, Body Language and "Nothing Good about This Goodbye" features on Rachel Stevens' 2005 album, Come and Get It. The album was also set to include tracks entitled "Still", "Keep Up", and "Rodeo"; these, alongside the album sampler, have been leaked onto the internet.
Writing in the wilderness
Following the disappointment of parting company from WEA records, Strum left Britain to travel alone to Antigua on holiday. For two weeks, she sat in a hut with no electricity, covered in mosquito nets and trying to plan what she would do next. Still songwriting, Alexis wrote two songs there – "Cocoon" and "Stay Until Summer" – and when she returned home, self-produced them into finished versions. Re-building confidence in herself, she returned to venues she had played at previously, and went back to performing gigs in London, before sending a sample of her work to the management of Billy Steinberg – writer of Madonna's hit single, "Like a Virgin", Cyndi Lauper's "True Colours", and "I Drove All Night" – requesting a session with him. Together they wrote a track called "It Could Be You". She then called on Magnus Fiennes and Pascal Gabriel, both of whom she had met previously, to add touches to the album she was making. The album was recorded in LA and London.
By early 2005, Strum had recorded her second album, semi-acoustic, but with left field beats and electro synths ("I don't want to get wrapped up in myself. There's a whole slew of female singer-songwriters going, 'Ooh, I'm so bloody tortured'. 'Oh, I'm in so much pain, la la la'. It's so calculated. Get off the stage", she has said) and signed a deal with Mercury Records. They loved the album, but felt it lacked a "first single", so Strum went back and wrote and produced a track called "Bad Haircut". She also started writing a blog for the popular music web site, Popjustice, as well as launching her own official web site and MySpace profile.
In August 2005, following a spot at the V Festival, it was announced that Strum would release her debut single and album in September 2005. The two were met with critical acclaim, and album reviews were positive, but once again, Strum was spurned by most radio and television outlets, despite the "Bad Haircut" video featuring up-and-coming actor, Tom Ellis. The single was released, but missed the top 40, and plans to release the album, called Cocoon were quickly shelved.
"It Could Be You"
In early 2006, a video to the track she co-wrote with Billy Steinberg, "It Could Be You", was sent to music television, set to a new version of the song to that which had appeared on promotional copies of the Cocoon album in late 2005, remixed by Ash Howes. The song was spurned, yet again, by radio, but television support grew strong, and, although the record company pulled the single release a week before its due date, the video was among the top ten most requested on UK channel The Box for a few weeks. Once again, plans to release Cocoon after the single, were also shelved; however, the single was added to iTunes UK, and the album was also added (by mistake – it was later removed), giving fans the opportunity to legally purchase the songs pre-release.
"Go My Own Way"
In March, shortly after "It Could Be You" had been cancelled, Strum announced via her MySpace blog that she had exciting news, and in April explained that she had scored the theme tune spot to the much-hyped new ITV drama series Vital Signs, starring Tamsin Outhwaite, over more established artists, such as KT Tunstall. The track, entitled "Go My Own Way", is played at the start with vocals, and at the end in instrumental form, and was added in its entirety to iTunes. Strum said that, whilst the track will not be the next single, a new mix of the track will also appear on a revised version of Cocoon.
A new version of Cocoon appeared on iTunes temporarily (alongside other digital retailers in the UK, such as Woolworths.co.uk), in April, featuring both the original and new album versions of "Go My Own Way", the single version of "It Could Be You", and the previously unreleased "The Starting Line". Again, it was shortly removed from sale, after Strum herself was alerted to it, through her MySpace page. At the same time, Strum launched a second MySpace, featuring some new songs she had written to be considered for other artists, having had two songs from her WEA record be taken by A&R men for Kylie Minogue and Rachel Stevens.
In May 2006, Strum made an announcement that she would be undergoing surgery, and would be unable to return to work until September 2006, when she had recovered. In September 2006, Strum posted a message on MySpace stating that all was well with her health, and added a note saying that her album will not be released as was planned, announcing a sabbatical; "I have decided after this big lifechange that I need to address my priorities and do something different for a bit – time for a new challenge! Challenge Strum!" In December 2006, a personal Christmas song she recorded for her friends and family was added to her MySpace.
Perez Hilton, a long term supporter of hers featured it on his website www.perezhilton.com and propelled the song's video, made by Paul Rowley of Penny Mix Films, onto YouTube's top videos chart. At the time Alexis blogged, "I won't be releasing any more Alexis Strum records and am gonna concentrate on other things, namely boys and food. Stay in touch!" In March 2007, Strum revealed on her MySpace that her song, "It Could Be You," had been covered by UK singer, Roxanne, who supported Westlife on tour.
In early 2007, it was revealed that Strum was the voice and songwriter behind UK indie group, Bo Pepper. The band consisted of Alexis (aka 'Dolly'), Matt Park (also in Drew McConnell's band Helsinki) on guitar, Remy Mallet on bass and Danny Lenox Wonder Years Conyngham on drums.
Bo Pepper were known for their puppet-fronted videos, made by Paul Rowley at Penny Mix Films, which were an internet sensation, championed by the likes of Perez Hilton, The Sun's 'Bizarre' column and YouTube. The first single, self-released in April 2008 on 'Peppered Records' scored airplay spots on Radio 1 (Huw Stephens), Radio 2, 6Music, Channel 4 Radio and Virgin Radio/ Virgin Xtreme. Another track, "Buses," featured in an online Coca Cola advertisement, and featured on the "UK:ONE the New Music Collection – Coca-Cola Soundwave" digital album, available to purchase via iTunes.
In 2008, Bo Pepper graced the pages of The Sun, The Times, The Guardian, played at SXSW in Texas, supported Pete Doherty and Sparks and recorded an album but Alexis decided to end the project in January 2009. She kept the puppet.
Post Bo Pepper
Alexis was personally asked by Robbie Williams to record the Martha Wainwright part on a cover of Rufus Wainwright's song, "April Fools". This has now been recorded but there are no plans to release this track as yet.
Alexis was also featured on BBC NEWS as part of the Indie Ghetto YouTube programme phenomenon where artists perform indie covers of hiphop tracks, alongside Paloma Faith, V V Brown and Kate Nash.
Music For Television/ Synchs
Alexis wrote, produced and performed the song, 'Got A Grip on Me' which appears in the last series (Series 3) of Channel 4's cult hit, 'The Inbetweeners'. This episode aired in October 2010 and follows on from Alexis's earlier TV synch success- she previously co-wrote and performed the theme tune to ITV's Tamsin Outhwaite-fronted drama, 'Vital Signs'. Additionally, she has written a lead track for Louis Walsh's new girl band, Wonderland, released 6 June 2011, tracks for Diana Vickers and has written a catalogue of songs with the likes of Guy Chambers (of Robbie Williams fame), Fernando Garibay (Lady Gaga co-writer) and many others in the UK and US.
- 2002: Addicted (cancelled)
- 2006: Cocoon (cancelled)
- 2005: "Bad Haircut" (available on CD, featuring the video and B-sides "Train off the Track" and "Might Be the One", digital download, and exclusive acoustic version digital download)
- 2006 "It Could Be You" (available on digital download, featuring B-side "We All Fall Down" and two remixes of the album track, "Why Me, Why Now" by Bent and Blu Mar Ten, and exclusive acoustic version digital download). A new version of "Why Me, Why Now" has been included on Blu Mar Ten's latest album "Black Water" (exceptional records)
- 2007 "Blink & You'll Miss It!" EP (as part of Bo Pepper, featuring the songs, "Blink & You'll Miss It!" "Love Or Die!" "Children" and "Good Cop, Bad Cop")
- 2007 "I Haven't Got You Anything (This Christmas)" single
- 2008 "No-One But Yourself To Blame" single
- 2008 "Steppin' On My Toes" single
- Alexis Strum Official Website
- Denise Comedy Official Website
- Denise YouTube Channel
- Alexis Strum in the JC
- Official MySpace
- Alexis Strum Mercury Records videos and acoustica on YouTube
- Alexis Strum Warner Records video and Mercury Records EPK
- Alexis on Indie Ghetto feature on BBC News
- Alexis Latest Myspace
- Bo Pepper in 'The Guardian'
- Official BoPepper MySpace
- Bo Pepper videos on YouTube
- MUZU Bo Pepper Channel
- Penny Mix Films