It is not a city. It is an emotion. Alex Bloom uses a broken J Dilla inspired beat and a delicate melodic line to express it effortlessly. Read our discussion with the artist below!
Describe your sound in three words
Complex, familiar, homegrown.
Now describe life in NYC in three words. Also tell us a few things about your new song Bleary.
Cold, grimy, fun.
Bleary is about my experience living in NYC. Just walking down the street, you start to discern a deeper layer of life and culture there, and the plethora of mini-worlds that coexist on the small island of Manhattan. All I brought to my closet sized apartment was an acoustic guitar, a mic, and a laptop, so the track reflects me as this little acoustic guitar pitted against this J Dilla inspired beat which portrays the never ending flow and smooth intensity of NYC. My coproducer and mixing engineer, Cary Singer, helped me create a beat that was entirely original but still reminiscent of a J Dilla style beat to keep that original feeling I had making the demo. The production around it, like the Mellotron strings, horns, etc. are all flurries of culture that swirl around you like exhaust from the street sewer vents.
You are a fan of J Dilla and that’s evident in Bleary. What would be your favourite beat he ever made?
I was introduced to Donuts in high school, and it instantly became one of my favorite albums. I would listen to the whole thing through like it was all one continuous song. If I had to choose a favorite I guess it’d be Airworks. I get that sample of LV Johnson’s voice stuck in my head. He totally flips the source material on its head, LV Johnson’s “I Don’t Really Care” and creates a disembodied version of LV’s voice that feels so familiar yet otherworldly.
Apart from J Dilla, which artists and people have influenced and inspired you?
The Shins are a huge inspiration as James Mercer synthesized his classic rock influences into an entirely new sound, and created new worlds with his witty and lyrics. Elliott Smith is also a huge inspiration for a similar reason, his attention to detail in his songwriting is something that still blows me away… he writes perfect chord progressions effortlessly.
If Bleary was a soundtrack of a movie, which movie would this be?
I guess Taxi Driver, just because it portrays the inner-workings and dark underbelly of NYC.
Do you have an artist that you would describe as a hidden gem that we should know about?
Lilliana Villines! She is an amazing artist. I think it’s just a matter of time until people hear her music and it spreads like wildfire.
Is songwriting a talent or a skill?
I would say some combination of both. You’ve got to have the drive to start doing it in the first place, and once you start, you get feedback from those around you to see if they like it. And whether it’s well received or not, if you love doing it you just keep writing and writing until you think what you’ve written is really good. Ultimately all that matters for an artist is if you are satisfied with what you write and release. It’s possible you could start with a gift of talent for songwriting, but you still have to hone that skill to keep getting better and keep having fun with the medium. So yeah, I’d say it’s a combo of both.
What moment in your career are you proudest of?
In 2018 I did a mini tour in Europe, and played in a few churches in London, Sweden and Denmark opening for Newton Faulkner and Darren Criss. I was proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone of Southern California and playing my music for so many new ears in a different continent.
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