Although it might seem singer-songwriter and producer Alexis de la Rocha is a newcomer to making music, she has more than 15 years of experience behind her back. As the frontwoman of bands BEATMO and LJ Laboratory, the LA-born and raised artist grew up playing the piano and dancing, the latter of which is often seen in her music videos.
It wasn’t until recently when she started putting out music under her name in 2015, having recently returned to solo work with the synth-inspired single “Haze.” And now, with “Running Back,” the newest single and video, de la Rocha finds self-love through fond memories against the backdrop of a toxic relationship.
On “Running Back,” the best of both worlds are taken from R&B and synth-pop, resulting in a unique blend that reminds of the 80s and 90s. The chorus immediately strikes a chord for those who consider the 90s nostalgic, reminiscent of groups such as SWV and Destiny’s Child due to how catchy it is. It helps that the booming bass and clap rhythm also call back to that era, complete with some sonorous synths similar to those found on “Haze.”
Aside from the stellar production, de la Rocha’s unique voice gives the song’s upbeat energy an added layer of depth made poignant by the introspective lyrics. Her vocal range throughout the entire runtime remains neutral, emulating a sense of numbness that makes you rethink what the song is about. While some of the lyrics are devoted to 90s references, the underlying dread in lines like “I can’t tell everybody, he’s a mad dog sinner” and “I build it up, he tears it down / It’s just our habit” is enough to keep you from falling too deep into the fairytale.
De la Rocha, who also co-directed, produced, and co-edited the music video for “Running Back,” extends her independent approach to the visuals. Shot amid an outdoor movie screening, de la Rocha, alongside two other dancers, moves through crowds dressed like witches. The DIY and on-the-go style of the video makes the already positive atmosphere all the more lighthearted, complementing the song’s nostalgic daydreaming.
If it weren’t evident by the production, the song pays homage to all things 80s and 90s, including her past self. “It’s a tribute to my 90s self and an anthem for anyone who’s ever found themselves in a toxic relationship or situation, where they compromise their essence and lose sight of their best selves,” said de la Rocha. At the very least, she hasn’t lost sight of her artistic self, only getting better with time as her sound becomes fully realized into an attraction that can’t be ignored.
Words: David Sosa