Alexander Ludwig has always been a storyteller. Years before traveling to Nashville to record his first song, “Let Me Be Your Whiskey,” he grew up near the mountains of Vancouver, balancing his time between hockey games, outdoors trips, and a flourishing acting career. Everywhere he went, there was always country music — playing in the locker room before games, pouring from the dashboard as he drove into the mountains for a weekend getaway, and blasting in his headphones as he headed toward the movie set.

“So many other styles of music try to sell a dream or something you need to attain,” he says. “But in country music, the dream is already here.

To Ludwig, those country songs unfolded like miniature films. They told stories about small towns, broken hearts, and wild nights. They turned everyday life into something cinematic. Most importantly, they left a lasting impression on the young Renaissance man, who received his first guitar at age nine and was strumming his own songs by 12 years old. Inspired by the classic (Alan Jackson, George Strait) and the contemporary (Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Eric Church), he began building his own outlook on country music, making regular trips to Nashville to hone his songwriting chops.

With Ludwig’s self-titled debut EP, he funnels that storytelling spirit — the same quality he brought to his roles in Vikings, Lone Survivor, The Hunger Games, and Bad Boys For Life — into five songs that blend old-school twang with modern muscle. Released by BBR Music Group/BMG, his self-titled debut EP Alexander Ludwig (due out May 21) is the sound of a longtime musician staking his claim in the genre that’s always inspired him.

“So many other styles of music try to sell a dream or something you need to attain,” he says. “But in country music, the dream is already here. You’re living it. You don’t need a big house or a bunch of cars; you can be happy with the blessings you already have in life. For someone who’s always on the road, it was country music that helped get me through the tough times. It’s always reminded me to take a breath and be grateful for how good things really are.”

These days, there’s a lot to be grateful for. Ludwig first crossed paths with his producers and fellow songwriters, Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy, while waiting to board a plane at the Los Angeles airport. He was heading to Nashville for another week of songwriting sessions, while Allison and Kennedy — both members of Jason Aldean’s band — were heading back home. Mutual admirers of each other’s work, the three became fast friends during that Tennessee- bound flight, with Allison and Kennedy agreeing to take Ludwig under their wing. Before long, they were spending weekends together in the recording studio, recording Alexander Ludwig during breaks in Ludwig’s busy acting schedule.

They layered “Love Today” — a country anthem about savoring the moment — with Keith Richards-inspired electric guitars. They turned “Sunset Town” into a radio-ready power ballad. They highlighted the good things in life with “Summer Crazy,” a song whose lyrics celebrate wide-open highways, warm weather, and well-spent weekends. They stretched their legs with an out-of-the-box love song, “Malibu Blue,” filled with references to the sun-kissed west coast.

“We focused on songs that really resonate,” Ludwig explains. “A ‘hit’ isn’t necessarily a No. 1. It’s a song that sticks in your head for years. I remember when I first listened to our recording of ‘Malibu Blue.’ My now-wife and I were on one of our first date together, and I played it for her we were driving to the mountains. I’ll never forget hearing it for the first time.”

Another song that immediately resonated with Ludwig was “How It Rolls,” an anthem about romance, car wheels, and everything else that pushes us forward.

“‘How It Rolls’ is everything I love about country music,” he enthuses. “It takes you away and leaves you flying high for three minutes. It teleports you to a feeling, where you’re so enamored by a person that everything in your world appears to be rolling the right way. That’s what all of these songs are — they’re moments in time. We’re just trying to capture those moments properly.”

In a genre rooted in honesty, Ludwig is the real deal. He’s a lifelong country fan who knows how it feels to roll up his sleeves, get to work and chase down his dreams. And while he’s already found success in Hollywood, he isn’t expecting anyone in Nashville to simply roll out the red carpet for him. He’s going to earn it, one song at a time.

“I’m here for the long haul,” he says. “This isn’t some actor who comes to Nashville and expects the world to be handed to him. That’s not who I am. My heart and soul are in this music, and I’ll do whatever it takes to continue earning my spot in this community. I’m here to work for it. I’ve always liked the journey as much as I like the destination anyway.”

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