Alexx Calise 2010 Interview

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Photo Courtesy of Alexx Calise

May/June 2010 originally published by Ocean View Press
Alexx Calise Interview
Interviewed by Rob Watts

Last month I received a copy of In Avanti, the sophomore effort by Los Angeles based singer/songwriter/guitarist Alexx Calise.
I was so impressed by the music I heard that I just had to learn more about this up-and-coming performer. Alexx Calise has been keeping
herself busy lately, promoting her new album and prepping a tour, not to mention promoting her product lines and conducting interviews across the country. Alexx was cool enough to sit down and talk with us about some of her beginnings and a lot about her future. She’s an interesting musician to say the least, with a full-tank of talent to back it all up. Check out our discussion and decide for yourself. Enjoy!

OVP- So before we begin, how are you doing and what are you up to these days since
your new album In Avanti was released?

Alexx-I’m doing very well, thank you! I haven’t had an opportunity to enjoy the fact
that my solo album is complete just yet, because I’m trying to finish up my
other record with my other band, Sound of Cancer. When that’s over and done with
though, I plan on doing absolutely nothing for a few days. The past few years
have been pretty intense (what with trying to finish 2 records at once and all),
so I think I deserve it, ha, ha!

The next step after that however is touring. I’m planning the logistics of it
right now.

OVP- In Avanti is such an amazing album and it’s been getting a lot of positive
press so congrats. Is the album as it is today what you envisioned it to be when
you first set out on the recording process?

Alexx-Thank you, much appreciated! Actually, it’s much better than I anticipated it
would be. The more I listen to it, the more I love it.

I had no idea what to expect when I went back into the studio with Luigie again
to be honest (we worked on the song, “Give It To Me”, for my first record). I
knew it was going to be great, because Luigie is immensely talented and I
absolutely love working with him, but I had no idea that the end result would be
this.

Perhaps the best part about the album though is that it has a little bit of
something for everyone. It’s definitely a rock record, but it also has
electronica undertones (we doubled synths over a lot of the main guitar tracks
to give it an electro/electronica feel), and great pop hooks and melodies.

OVP- How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since your debut Morning Pill was
released a few years back?

Alexx-I think I’ve grown exponentially. My first release was in 2007, so I now have 3
more years of life experience under my belt, my vocal, guitar and songwriting
chops are light years ahead of what they were during the recording of Morning
Pill, and I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) a whole, whole lot more about
the entertainment business.

OVP- Now you play guitar, which you’ve been doing since 11 years old. Do you play
any other instruments or are there any you’d like to master in the future?

Alexx- I play a little bass and piano, although I’m not all that great at either. I’d
like to be a little better on piano, because it’s a great tool for songwriting.
I’d also love to get into drumming. I originally wanted to be a drummer (fun
fact), but my mom wasn’t going to have any of that because of the noise factor.
It’s definitely one of the coolest instruments there is though.

OVP- What was the one song or album you heard when you were a kid where you said
to yourself “this is what I want to do with my life”?

Alexx- I remember being really into the “Freak Show” album from silverchair, so much so
that I played their song, “Suicidal Dream” at my middle school talent show. I
scared the hell out of all the students and teachers that day to say the very
least. It was at that moment that I realized I wanted to instill that kind of
emotion in people on a daily basis, so I decided to become a career musician.
The rest is history.

OVP- Now you live in Los Angeles now but you grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
How do you feel your music would differ from what it is now if you were still
based in Fort Lauderdale today?

Alexx- I don’t think it would have been nearly as good. Firstly, I would not have been
working with my producer, Luigie Gonzalez, who has been instrumental in creating
my new sound. I also don’t know if I would have grown to be as good a musician
as I am now. Moving from my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, FL (where I’d lived most
of my life) all the way to LA (without knowing anyone but my producer, Luigie)
taught me a whole lot in a short amount of time, and provided me with all kinds
of inspiration. Had I stayed at home, I don’t know if I’d have the same things
to write about. I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime since moving from Florida, and
I think I needed to take that step in order to grow as a musician and as a human
being.

OVP- What are some of the advantages of being an independent musician, without the
politics of a record company looming over you?

Alexx- There are many advantages. As an indie musician, you’re your own master. You own
all your own songs and publishing, and you make 100 percent profit from any
sales. You don’t necessarily need a label anymore these days for distribution
purposes either. You can make your own music accessible to most major online
music media sites, like iTunes and Amazon through digital distribution sites
like CD Baby or TuneCore.

OVP- And the disadvantages?

Alexx- Well, what a label may be able to do for you that you may not be able to do
yourself is put you on a major tour or put some major advertising dollars behind
you. Unless you have an investor or a lot of money, it’s usually a lot harder to
make things like that happen. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but the
process might be a lot more difficult and take much longer.

OVP- What’s a typical day for you when you are in your full-on musician mode?

Alexx- It really depends on whether or not I’m in town. A typical day when I’m at my
home base usually consists of recording, practicing, promoting, and doing
interviews. If I’m out on the road, I’ll get up, get dressed, do some phone or
radio interviews, and then hop on the bus or van to the next gig. It’s the life
of a gypsy.

OVP- And if I may toot your horn for you a little, while going this alone for the
most part, you’ve managed to get endorsements by clothing and guitar companies,
you’ve appeared in nationally run commercials and magazines such as Blender and
Guitar World and your song was recently used for a “One Tree Hill” promo. So
there is definitely something to be said about the dedication and drive it takes
to succeed as a musician, especially when you are doing everything yourself.

Alexx- Well thank you! It definitely takes a certain type of person to do these kinds
of things (a crazy one, that is, ha ha!). A musician’s life is usually fraught
with struggle, sacrifice, poverty, and emotional torment, so you really have to
be a strong willed, driven and dedicated person. The only reason I continue on
this path, long and arduous as it may be, is that there is no other path for me.
It’s all I know how to do, so I know I have to suck it up and carry on.

OVP- Now you have a new project in the works called Sound of Cancer. Talk about
that and when can we expect to hear it?

Alexx-Sound of Cancer is the brainchild of my songwriting partner, Dennis Morehouse
and I. It sounds like a mixture of The Cure, Portishead, Massive Attack, Pink
Floyd and early Marilyn Manson. Obviously much different than my solo project,
ha ha! There are a ton of intricate choral harmonies and ominous soundscapes
going on, and everything you hear is 100 percent performance based. We didn’t
want to get into too much editing or Melodyne or pitch correction. It starts to
change the sound after a while. What I love about some of my favorite bands like
silverchair or STP are the rawness and realness of their records. We wanted to
create that same experience with SOC.

OVP- What are some of your favorite non-musical sounds that you hear on any given
day?

Alexx- Well, I love the sound of the beach. When I lived in Florida, I would always sit
on the sand and write songs. It’s the most calming place in the world for me,
and the only place I feel like I can escape from everyone and everything.

I also love when my kitten, Mittens talks to me. He’s so damn cute it should be
illegal.

OVP- If you could change one thing about today’s music industry climate, what
would it be and why?

Alexx- Well, I would definitely like to see illegal downloading stop. What people don’t
realize is that it’s stealing (unless of course, the artist offers up their
music for free). There are a variety of costs associated with making a record,
like production costs, replication costs if you decide to make CDs, and
promotional costs (to name a few). How are independent artists expected to make
a return on their investment (let alone a profit) if no one ever pays them for
their music? Moreover, what incentive do they have to keep making it? It’s
great if you just want to make music for fun or for your own personal enjoyment,
but if you want to be a career musician, then you really have to find some
creative ways to generate income, otherwise, you’re just not going to make a
whole lot selling your actual music.

OVP- If you could play live anywhere in the world to any audience, where would it
be and why?

Alexx- I would absolutely love to play in Spain. I’ve heard that it’s one of the
coolest places to tour on Earth, and that they absolutely love American rock
music.

OVP- Do you think music as an art form still exists or is is just destined to
become an intangible vapor that gets downloaded, listened to and forgotten about
almost in the same day?

Alexx- That’s a very interesting question, and I often wonder it myself. I think music
as an art form still exists, but it has become disposable to some (then again,
some music can be considered disposable). The days of sitting around with your
friends and listening to a new hit record are long over. Many people just don’t
have the attention spans anymore to sit and analyze a composition. I’m hoping
that will eventually change, but with all the new technologies and social
distractions going on, it’s no wonder anyone can even form a complete thought
anymore. I think that alone is why many people are capricious about contemporary
music.

OVP- If you were in a room with all the powers-that-be in the music industry, and
had the opportunity to suggest ways to bring music back to a breathing life
form, what would your suggestions be?

Alexx- Well, I would tell them to get more involved with digital distribution (some
have already started doing this however), and go back to the days of artist
development. Not everyone is going to have a hit record right off the bat. Some
artists need to cut their teeth a bit and build their career. All good things
require a lot of time, energy and effort, and bands need to be able to do that.

OVP- I know you’re into a lot of old-school rock like Zeppelin. Silverchair is
another great band you’re into. Are there any new acts out there today that turn
you on?

Alexx- I’m really digging into Archive, The Dissociatives and Apollo 440. I’ve been on
a bit of an electronica kick lately.

OVP- Anything you’d like to promote? Your endorsement companies, etc..

Alexx- Yes! Please check out my new album, In Avanti available at
alexxcalise.net/store! Also, check out the new music for my single, Break Me
at YouTube, which was filmed and directed by
renowned videographer/director, Ricardo Moreno. (See Top Right)

OVP- And without jinxing yourself, where would you like to see yourself five
years from now?

Alexx- Five years from now, I’d like to be doing all the things I’m doing now, except
on a much larger scale. Ideally, I’d like to be touring internationally, making
more appearances, and possibly even acting in some major feature films.

OVP- Just remember me in 5 years when I want to do another interview ha ha! Have
you enjoyed our chat today?

Alexx- Aw, how could I forget you? And yes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our chat. Cheers!

OVP- Any parting words or advice to fellow musicians?

Alexx- Yes. First and foremost, you need to be in this business solely for the love of
music. The fact of the matter is, you may never catch a break, you may never
make any money, and you may never reach the level of success you hope to reach.
It’s unfortunate, and it may sound harsh, but it’s the entertainment business.
There are so many talented people out there who have the same goals and
aspirations as you do, and who are fighting for the same things you are.

However, don’t ever sell yourself short and don’t ever compromise yourself or
your art for anyone or anything. It’s not worth it. Always be yourself, because
your integrity may be the only thing you have left at the end of the day.

OVP- Alexx, it was a real pleasure talking with you and I wish you all the
success in the world. Come back and talk to us anytime.

Alexx- Thank you so much; right back at ya!

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