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đź’Ą Exclusive Q&A With Alex About the New Song!

đź’Ą Exclusive Q&A With Alex About the New Song!

Hey,

I hope you’re doing well! It’s Saturday afternoon in Montreal, where I’m about to land in less than 2 hours, after a wonderful and exhausting week in Dublin, Ireland. I was invited there for the first time at an event called Ireland Music Week, where they asked me to meet every artist that was performing, two sessions of three hours, giving them advice on how to reach their artistic and career goals and dreams.

A very fascinating task, but it was quite humbling and inspiring for me to talk about art, culture, community, and soul rather than the number of clicks, plays, streams, and all those boring metrics which don’t mean shit 99% of the time. Just to give you a little hint… When David Geffen, one of the greatest legends and minds in our industry, decided to release Nirvana’s Nevermind, Geffen Records only printed 100,000 albums, hoping and praying they would sell them all. No one ever thought this band would change the music world forever and sell 30 million albums worldwide! Just another example, since this is fun: Chris Blackwell from Island Records (U2, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, PJ Harvey, etc) refused to sign Madonna thinking she would never make it and almost passed on U2 until his staff convinced him not to...!

My point is… The music industry thinks they know what they’re doing, but we rarely do! It’s like baseball: those who hit the ball 3 times out of 10 attempts are superheroes, and if they repeat this year after year, they will end up being legends and hall-of-famers!

On a completely different and more exciting note, it was so great to see all your package pictures shared all week long! Thank you all so very much for your kind words! Alex and I are delighted to know you appreciate the design, the vinyl, and the song, if you’re a New School member! The best part for me was to read all the questions you sent me regarding the song!!! I thought it could be cool to forward those to Alex and share his answers with you today!!!

So, with Nirvana’s Nevermind playing quite loud in my ears, honoring the fact that sometimes, and hopefully more often than not, art and artists are right and the great winners of it all! Here are Alex’s answers to your questions! Enjoy!!!

*****

Can you share the title of your upcoming album with us?

Even though I have a much clearer perspective on the project’s nature at this point, I haven’t settled for a definitive title yet, especially as it combines several different creative elements. I know it’s not really an answer… but the answer will come very soon! 

 

Based on your last journal, you mentioned “project” and “album”. Is there a difference for you?

It’s true that it could be quite puzzling, even by my own particular puzzling standards…! I guess the best way to explain would be to describe why a “project” and an “album” are completely different for me by exposing what they are. 

For those who are familiar with TV series, an album is the main storyline while a project is more like a spin-off. And when it comes to music, I would say that an album is like Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation”. It’s Kim, Thurston, Lee, and Steve giving life to a body of work that represents a moment in time created by the 4 of them, while a project is what they were releasing on their own SYR label; noise, experimental, improbable collaborations. I hope it makes sense and that you are not more mixed up because of terminology now!

Alright, in this particular case, it’s a project I made with Ben, who’s been my musical partner in crime for the last — let’s just just say forever — and Japanese artist Momoka, who’s been a long time collaborator on pretty much every creative journey I’ve been giving life to since her active participation in Your Favorite Enemies’ album “Between Illness and Migration” back in 2013… Wow…! 10 years ago already… unreal!

I have been envisioning working with Momoka for quite a while, but it didn’t seem like the timing was right, or our respective schedules wouldn’t allow the proper disposition to do an art piece that would truly embody what I had in mind. It even became a bit of a running joke for Jeff, as every single time I was asked to define what I wanted to creatively invest myself in for the next 18-24 months, I would always bring what he called MIP — short for “Momoka and I project”. Well, maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m a pretty persistent type of person. My friends could rant about this for days… or weeks!

Therefore, in some ways, that MIP — or should I say MBIP (Momoka, Ben & I Project) — became my post-surgery anti-depressant venture, something that was so positive and bright that it would keep my everlasting darkness away during what turned out to be a prolonged period, where I knew I would be highly vulnerable to that demeaning voice in my head. And it did… That’s the reason why I’m so grateful for Momoka and Ben’s indefectible support and total investment in what was a crazy endeavor to begin with. The degree of patience they demonstrated throughout the production process as I wasn’t able to do much in a day at first. Their resilient trust in my crazy ideas (should we blame the meds?) not only defined the actual essence of the project but allowed me to dive deep into the necessary instinctive unconsciousness I needed to incarnate emotions I knew I wouldn’t be able to express by myself. It’s been an incredibly liberating voyage for me, both as an artist and as a person.

When you say that it’s “a sort of soundtrack”, what do you mean? Is there really a movie involved?

Yes, the project goes with an immersive motion picture Ben and I gave life to using images I filmed all over Japan back in 2010 for a movie project I never had the opportunity to complete before the album-tour-album-tour cycle started with Your Favorite Enemies soon after. I kind of rediscovered all those mesmerizing and contemplative images at the very early stage of my recovery. It was about a week since I had gone back home to Virginia at that time, and watching those images made me travel beyond my distressing condition and it inspired me the actual project. It’s difficult to say which of the images or the music inspired the other, especially as they are so intertwined now. Music blooms, giving meaning to the images and vice versa. Then words started emerging from that living motion. And it all started to become a specific entity of its own… This is when I knew it was greater than myself and whatever vision I had about it. It was “it” and “it” is still impossible for me to explain in detail as I’m discovering its nature right now. But I can already foresee the blessing it will generate once the project will be shared with you all, and that is the most amazing part for me.

 

You mentioned in your journal that the project includes 3 distinctive parts. Can you be more specific?

It might be more now… it grows as days go by!

My initial idea was to produce a sort of triptych project. You have the immersive motion picture on one side and the reflective lyrics videos on the other, both standing side by side, while being hinged together as two aspects of the same living entity. And those two elements hold the music and its poetries as the project’s altarpiece in their midst. Simple, right?

It was a fabulous gift for you to include a surprise vinyl in the membership package. Why that song and what is it all about? 

I’m happy to know you liked the addition to this year’s package! It is such a wonderful piece of art, I couldn’t resist. Especially knowing that you would be the only ones, not only to have that specific vinyl, but that alternative version of the song as well — it’s not the one that will be released with the project. I liked the idea of offering you a different emotional perspective of a song to be part of a greater musical collage. This way, you are the ones defining the very first meaning incarnation of the project. It’s not my words, not even a voice. It’s yours, and yours alone. That was the intention behind the vinyl inclusion; for you to close your eyes and let your spirit hum as you listen to it. Let’s see that as a spiritual type of karaoke…! ;)

 

Is it an instrumental project because you still can’t sing? Will you be able to sing again?

There are different ways to answer that question, but the most honest way is that, like every creative voyage I embark on, it’s the journey itself that will start dictating its own nature… What I mean by that is that I will let it grow from the moment I begin to perceive its colors after instinctively sculpting through its yet invisible substance… This is when a project becomes an entity to me. Once it does, I can decide to either force myself into it or to let it grow until it’s too late for me to change its nature unless I want to destroy its organic flourishment and eventually kill its radiant light altogether. The seed was instrumental, but it grew into something else through Momoka’s interpretation of my words, which became hers to own and to express. It was so “it” that I didn’t want to even try and add anything to it for fear of ruining a perfect display of emotional sincerity. I have always been tremendously moved by Momoka’s emotional and flowing voice, and to be in the studio to lose myself in it has been a blessing that I have rarely experienced through artistic collaborations before… Not that I didn’t like my previous experiences, on the contrary, I loved every one of them. But this time was for me somehow an intimate present that I was about to share with the world.

 

And about your voice?

As for my voice, I will be able to sing again once I go through the next phase of my recovery. Yes, there’s always a new phase nobody told me about before. It’s like a Russian doll. It’s always like: “Good news, Alex! Yes, you are ready now… There’s only this one thing missing, and until you have it, you can’t go anywhere.” Always makes me hope there’s no bad news coming with it. And when there’s none, that’s the good news… Get the point? So I will need to incorporate some light vocal exercises to build my stamina and strength again. It should be followed by another “Good news, Alex! Yes, you are ready, but…” and so on. It’s truly a process. And it goes with my lung condition, as I also was grafted there… I am still struggling with subsequent infections recently, so it’s slowing the whole process down a little. But all things considered, my voice improved mightily in the last couple of weeks. I’m getting there.

 

When is the complete project set to be released?

Good question… I don’t know. Like… I don’t know how I will release it either… Piece by piece? All at once? I haven’t figured it out just yet. There’s a whole lot of personal investment required on my part every time I share a project or an album, and I don’t have much of the energy usually required for me to do a whole communal motion or a global press campaign, as I like to do. So I’ll see how it goes… But knowing me, it shouldn’t be that far off ;)

 

Can you share details about the full-band album you recently referred to?

Not really… no! ;)

*****

Let’s be great to one another!

Your Host and Friend,
Jeff

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