Six years ago, when Alex Hope was 19, she signed her first publishing deal with Sony/ATV in her native Sydney and went on to write songs for contestants on Australia’s version of The X Factor. By early 2014, she and Troye Sivan — whom she met through Sony/ATV head of A&R Maree Hamblion — were regularly meeting in Los Angeles for writing sessions. Working with Sivan expanded Hope’s circle of collaborators and inspired her to try producing. She moved to L.A. that year and quickly started strengthening her résumé. She won breakthrough songwriter of the year at the 2016 Australasian Performing Right Association Awards; produced and co-wrote “Lucky Strike” on Sivan’s 2018 album, Bloom; and so far this year has produced for Alec Benjamin, Ingrid Michaelson, Alanis Morissette and others. No matter the act, working one-on-one remains Hope’s favorite approach to making music. “It’s a very vulnerable thing,” she says. “It really does feel like therapy.”
Marina, “No More Suckers,” Love + Fear
In 2018, Hope met British singer-songwriter James Flannigan for coffee, and the two bonded over their shared admiration of Marina, who was on Hope’s list of dream collaborators. Within days, the trio headed to Flannigan’s Los Angeles studio for a session that resulted in a standout track off Love + Fear, which hit No. 28 on the Billboard 200. “It was a good hang that happened to also produce a song,” says Hope, “which is the best kind.”
Tegan & Sara, Hey, I’m Just Like You
In April 2018, Hope tried to collaborate with Tegan & Sara Twitter DM — and, she thought, failed. Then her manager called to say the duo wanted to work together in person. Hope flew to Vancouver and joined the all-female studio team for the pair’s new album, out Sept. 27 on Sire Records. “Working with two Virgos is kind of a dream for me,” says Hope of the hyper-organized duo. As for producing an entire LP for the first time? “It was fun to feel supported by super-talented women.”
Carly Rae Jepsen,“Right Words Wrong Time,” Dedicated
When Jepsen was ready to follow up 2015’s Emotion, she reached out to Hope, whom she had met in 2016. They worked in the basement studio in Hope’s former home, which she calls “a dark little cave with a lot of weird novelty lighting.” They ended up co-writing “Right Words Wrong Time,” which Hope then co-produced with Grammy nominee Rogét Chahayed (Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar).
Ben Platt, “Grow As We Go,” Sing to Me Instead
Hope describes her best friend, fellow Aussie singer-songwriter Ben Abraham, as her partner in binge-watching The Office. But Abraham helped shape her work, too, by introducing her to Platt in January 2018. The three worked together on the Dear Evan Hansen star’s debut album, munching on doughnuts in the studio. “It was very Nashville-style, sitting around with an acoustic guitar,” says Hope. “The two Bens had been working together for a minute, so they had great synergy.” Sing to Me Instead reached No. 18 on the Billboard 200.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 24 issue of Billboard.