Eric Alexandrakis is back with a mixture of quirky love songs that mix 60s psychedelic tones with 80s new wave in Love’s a Bitch. While the album is a companion piece to his double travel concept album Terra, it stands perfectly on its own. With some guest appearances from John Taylor and Steve Ferrone, you will get lost in the unique tones of the music. Eric Alexandrakis took the time to sit down and chat about the album, Grammy nominations, working with these collaborators and much more!
OSR: Music has always been a part of your life and you have a degree in Music Business, but what made you want to record your own songs?
Alexandrakis: When I was a little kid, I’d started out playing in a band, so recording was more of going into a scary unknown to see if it could actually be done. Once I began, I was hooked. I loved the process of doing it, arranging, production, etc, was really satisfying. When I started my solo bits, I only started because I had the means to do it, which was in the form of a friend’s borrowed 4-rack cassette recorder. In the end, the opportunity to record was really the catalyst.
OSR: Your album I.V. Catatonia: 20 Years as a Two Time Cancer Survivor was nominated at the 2019 Grammy Awards, how excited were you about this?
Alexandrakis: When I would think about it or be reminded of it, it was very exciting, but generally speaking it’s never “consumed” my thoughts. A culmination of struggle, dreams, desires, sacrifices, rejections, so it was a validation. The funny thing is that leading up to the ceremony, I would kind of forget as I worked on other things, so I’d just feel pretty normal. Then I’d have a live interview on Greek national television in front of 10 million people at 5 am and that special tingle would tap me on the shoulder. It’s always an exciting footnote, but one has to be careful not to turn into a wanker.
OSR: Your latest album Love’s a Bitch is a combination of new music and love-themed tracks from your album Terra. What prompted you to release this collection and why now?
Alexandrakis: Terra is 28 tracks long, like a long film. Since it’s a bit much to digest really, even for me, I fancy the thought of having little EP’s and things that are more accessible. I also like themed/seasonal releases, and I thought this would be fun for Valentine season, especially with that cool cover. This is my fifth release in 6 months, with another coming in a few weeks and another a month after that. I’m really backlogged with material that I need to sweep out.
OSR: The album is an amalgamation of different influences and sounds. Was this something you planned or did it organically happen as you made the album?
Alexandrakis: I love everything, and I hate everything, so even though I may not like something, there’s always something to learn and apply from the experience. The last track ‘R.I.P Unfinished Business’ was an active effort to make something that sounded like my new wave youth. I wanted it to sound like Nick Rhodes played on it. ‘It Was Me’ is an instrumental demo of the first song I ever wrote and that also sounds like the ’80s, but there was no effort there as it’s a time capsule. The bizarre spoken word stuff, that’s just me having fun and channelling my theatrical training, whereas the rest is just me letting loose with my influences driving me subconsciously. I’d say organically really, as I only set out to sound like me, and no one else which can be a blessing or a curse sometimes, as people have always had trouble placing me in a “category”, and yet, I have no interest in fitting into any mould but my own.
OSR: You handled every aspect of the creative process from writing to recording and mixing. What was the biggest challenge you faced with this?
Alexandrakis: The biggest challenge was knowing that because everything was played, and not done on a computer, sonically it would perplex most bloggers and playlisters who are now mostly young dudes into beats and the iTunes top 30. That’s totally fine, as music is like food, but I’m not of that creative ilk. Some of the comments I’ve had from those types have literally crossed over into a dimension beyond the absurd. It’s come to the point where so many are so conditioned to algorithmically looped and pitch-corrected quantization, that if you play them a Rolling Stones album, their brains will bleed. It’s sad that brains are being conditioned in this way, but for me, what has been great is the reaction from college press and blogs such as this. I’ve always had a very strong reaction from college publications and considering those are thinkers in training who are open to new ideas without a corporate agenda, I enjoy their curiosity very much.
OSR: How do you feel this album compares to your previous releases?
Alexandrakis: They all have a familiar thread going through, very kind of independently thinking, experimental, fearless, so for me, it feels like it’s just a continuation. Sonically better and the next one will be sonically better than this one. Earlier tunes were very much lyrically encoded, but I’ve opened up more lyrically on these, and have opened up even more with what’s to come. I guess you grow older and are more and more comfortable with expressing yourself, and generally don’t care what anyone thinks. I don’t make music for people unless it’s a client who wants something specific, and even then, I generally approach the process as I choose. Bowie said that when you play to the gallery, you do your worst work. I’ll never do that.
OSR: There are a few people who helped with the album, how did you connect with them?
Alexandrakis: I don’t generally collab, as I tend to be a creative control freak. John Taylor discovered me and he’s about as amazing as it gets with his talents and I’ve had a long relationship with him and his band, and well you know you can’t resist having someone like that on something. Steve Ferrone is a good friend and we’ve worked on a lot of tunes over the years. He’s one of the most important drummers in music and makes everything sound 1,000 times better, so I couldn’t resist that either. Plus he and John together, that’s a rhythm section everyone drools over and it just worked great.
Kirk Kelsey and I have been friends since I was in college, and you won’t find a better rock engineer/mixer. Isolde Fair is the daughter of producer Jeff Fair and composer Starr Parodi, who are really good friends. Isolde is an amazing talent, and I couldn’t resist having her on. My son plays drums on a track, he’s a total natural but has no interest in pursuing the instrument.
OSR: You have always been innovative in your approach to music, how do you feel this influences your sound?
Alexandrakis: Thank you! I think a lot of it has to do with just using what’s around, but also my love of lo-fi music. If you combine lo-fi elements with hi-fi elements, something weird happens. My approach is never the same as it changes according to what I try to express. I may do everything on a synth for example, or just a guitar through a synth, it just depends, but I’m always coming from a place that is fed mostly by my 80’s new wave roots, classical training, love of soundtrack music, and Greek music from the ’70s.
OSR: What is the one piece of advice you would give new artists looking to follow in your footsteps?
Alexandrakis: There’s isn’t one really, but in a nutshell, focus focus focus. Learn and digest everything there is to know (all forms of creativity, business-wise, legal), keep an incremental long term plan, accept that it’s a lifelong time and financial investment, accept that being creative is not a choice, stick to it until you find your way.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming year?
Alexandrakis: Several EP’s, one coming on March 22 called GMT, a soundtrack to a short film, an audiobook, a spoken word album and a few other things on the back burner.