Marie: Alex, how did you start out as an artist - how and when did it begin?
Alex: I started playing piano when I was 7, guitar at 14, then writing songs at about 16. I was really into electronic and weird computer music during my late teens. Later I played and wrote for various bands including The Last Men and Gerard and the Watchmen but I’ve always been doing my solo stuff on the side which exists in the alternative-folk world.
Marie: I want to ask about the new single - the recording process, who produced/engineered it and if they have any other successes?
Alex: ‘Animal’ is my current single, I wrote it to have a Jose Gonzalez inspired guitar part with an intricate rhythmical pattern. I recorded that and some lyrical melodic ideas at home then took it to Elliott Richardson at Highfield Studios where we added his drum parts and La.nskey’s beautiful strings which really lifted the arrangement.
Marie: What is the single inspired by? What is the story behind it?
Alex: It’s about feeling like an animal in the modern world (part of the rat race) and partly our relationship with the animal kingdom. Also feelings of changing responsibility in adulthood.
Marie: Tell me a little more about the writing process. Is it stream of consciousness type writing or more planned and thought out? Is there an underlining theme in your music?
Alex: I normally always start with a guitar riff and the lyrics come second. I try and write the lyrics to match the mood of the chords or music. Trying to find a feeling in the music, then explain it as best I can. It normally comes out quite melancholic for me, I think it resonates with some people which is nice.
Marie: Where was the new release written? How does place and time influence you and your writing process?
Alex: At home to start with, I think in the last winter. ‘Animal’ has very wintery mood which is good as it’s been released this winter. It feels like a night time song and the days are so dark now.
Marie: Were you listening or watching anything in particular quite a bit during the recording and writing process?
Alex: I think I was reading Sapiens chapter about how industrial agriculture is one of the greatest crimes the human race has committed. I think to certain extent we farm ourselves as well into positions of work and social standing. I think that is what the kind of premise of the song.
Marie: Do you think there is a perfect time and place to listen to the single, does it lend itself to a particular listening experience?
Alex: Yes, I think it’s a good song for headphones on a Monday morning on the way to work. In the mid-winter. Haha. It’s that Monday morning feeling we all get that you just have to embrace and get through.
Marie: If you could hope that your music inspires someone to do something, what would that be?
Alex: I would hope people enjoy it firstly and that they can take some solace in the mood I’m presenting with it. My music has always been about escapism. Hopefully people can escape with it as well.
Marie: Who are your musical influences? Are you hoping to achieve a certain sound or theme on your new release?
Alex: Jose Gonzalez as I said was a big influence on ‘Animal’. Also I really like quirky drum parts which I think it has which I probably got from listening the math rock bands like Battles. Lyrically I love Simon & Garfunkel, and Bon Iver.
Marie: Tell me more about you and your successes as an artist?
Alex: Well I’ve just released my debut album Ley Lines which is a big step for me. It’s also available on Vinyl from bandcamp. The vinyl was funded by a fan supported kickstarter campaign. So I’m really looking forward to releasing those just before Christmas.
I’ve played some great gigs this year with the likes of Jack in Water, The Last Dinosaur, Laish, Amy May Ellis and Alex Munk of Flying Machines. I’ve also got my own night at the Green note which is quite well respected folk venue in London where a lot of my heroes from the UK 60s/70s scene have played including Davey Graham and Bert Jansch.
Marie: What are your hobbies/interests outside of music? Anything else I should know about you?
Alex: I’ve started climbing/bouldering, I really enjoy that. I read quite a lot, just finished Catcher in the rye which was interesting. I haven’t felt the urge to shoot John Lennon though… Also I love going to club nights and gigs. Spending time with family and friends is really important to me as well. Recently I’ve had such an out pouring of support from friends and family for my music. I try to be supportive back as much as possible!
All photos in this article by Piers Murray Hill