We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Artists tend to hit many walls throughout their careers; these can be external barriers in the form of paywalls and elite gatekeeping or personal barriers in the form of plateauing skill level or self-doubt. We hit these walls hard, disrupting our creative processes and overall drive to complete a project. Often, the entire validity of your practice is brought into question, which is enough for most folks to call it quits. My (hopefully) helpful advice to those of you in this situation, is to stop and take a break. This can be as short or as long as you need it to be, but try to give yourself some distance from your work. Give yourself some time to carefully consider how to climb your wall. Don’t forget that you can use your cool artist brain to find creative ways to problem solve and work around your barriers. Overcoming obstacles is how we grow as artists and people; you will likely make a new discovery or learn a new skill in the process.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Like most, my art is the result of the amalgamation of music I have been exposed to through my life. My earliest musical influences came from my parents who raised me on a steady diet of music from their era; 60’s-70’s rock groups like The Beatles and Yes were staples in the household. Digging through my dad’s progressive rock CDs is where my interest in experimental music began. The soundtracks of the video games I played growing up also heavily shaped my love of instrumental music. These tunes also provided my first window into the vast diversity of musical genres that exist outside of my limited, Lake Havasu City perspective. In the pursuit of musical exploration, I began piano lessons, elected to play in various school bands and local ensembles, and ultimately ended up moving up to Flagstaff for NAU’s music program. Through my schooling, I was able to meet Owen Davis and become a recurring performer and improviser in Flagstaff’s Interference Series. Until then, I never had a venue to play the kind of music I wanted to make, and I am very grateful to them for curating a performance space for sonic experimentation. I also began working at Bookmans as a sales clerk and instrument repairman around this time, which over the past several years has helped me acquire the gear and knowledge necessary to create and record my music. I slowly learned to play and record each instrument I wanted to hear in my music. Learning various recording/engineering/mixing techniques has also lent itself to my compositional process. Released in 2019, my first full-length album, Earthbound, is an hour-long instrumental space rock journey featuring NASA audio files. My following release, Planet Beach, was recorded during last year’s quarantine and features several of my musical pals. It’s inspired by Japanese city pop, exotica, bossa nova, and surf rock vibes and is truly my ode to summer. Outside of my own work, you can find me on a few Flagstaff releases or playing bass in my brother’s band, Cheap Hotels.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In addition to being a hub for several high-profile tourist destinations, Flagstaff has some really good breweries. You can be in a different national park/monument each day and a different brewery each night during a week-long stay. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but Dark Sky Brewing is constantly rolling out some really innovative and far-out beers. I think my favorite eatery in this town is a three-way tie between Mama Burger, Red Curry Vegan Kitchen, and Oscar’s Burrito Fiesta, so those are all on the list of places to dine. And I’m (probably not) contractually obligated to mention Bookmans. During pre-covid times, the store was a really great place to buy a coffee and hang out. There are books to read, instruments to play, and records to dig through, and that’s an ideal afternoon for me.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to the Interference Series in Flagstaff. I’m very grateful to Rob, Gene, and Owen for their musical mentorship, life guidance, and for letting me be a part of their series of mind-blowing shows. Check them out for the best experimental music scene on this side of the Mississippi.