The singer/songwriter is dedicated to creating more honest, healing spaces in her lyrics and shows.
Shortly wants listeners to see each other. In previous projects, Alexandria Maniak often felt tokenized and not taken seriously, but as Shortly, she is building herself into a beautifully introspective songwriter while building a community, too. Her EP, Richmond, stresses the importance of finding the ambiguity and nuance of the world in order to create more original, honest work.
She will perform on November 26 at the House of Blues along with Oso Oso, Have Mercy, and The Wonder Years.
Shortly was raised just outside of Detroit, and her musical roots blossom from a wide range of influences from her family and her environment. Her sound was shaped by Simon & Garfunkel, American Football, and Motown. She ran through a trial and error method of finding her right avenue for performing, starting at a young age in theater before moving into indie pop and rock bands before she finally found her footing as a solo artist.
Her lyrics often start as poems, which gives the songs an honest, personal starting point. Her song “Two” discusses mental health struggles openly and beautifully. It’s about codependency and depicts the thoughts that run through our heads that can be hard to admit. She writes about wanting to give up in these times, saying “The white flag is raised and it’s burning / It’s burning around me.”
Although her work discusses mental health, but she doesn’t want listeners to see her as the only one who gets it. She tries to create community with the people who come to shows who can see themselves in each other and not just in her music. “I don’t want to be the person the kids have to come up to to talk about their problems,” she says. “I’m like you, but there are other people in the audience like you.”
Of her music, Shortly says, “I wouldn’t describe it as vulnerable, I’d say it’s candid.” This distinction lets her navigate more comfortably through difficult mental health discussions. Vulnerability is often associated with weakness, so she’s attempting to shift the connotation more toward the strength that is associated with candidness.
Her dedication to nuance and honesty has also influenced the way that she approaches her own DIY community’s instances of abuse and allegations. She talks about the polarization that has come when people called out abusers, outing victims at the same time. She is against the DIY community’s tendency to use victims’ names as a way to further a political stance without actually checking in with the victims themselves.
“You need to respect your friends, and not use victims’ names as a cape,” she says. In a political climate that rallies around victims or rallies around abusers with no actual focus on what healing looks like, this call for less polarization is radical.
While Shortly does not consider herself a PC warrior, she tries to be someone who cares. Her music and shows are working to help people see each other--and heal with each other--in a way they might not be able to elsewhere.