Not many independent artists have such a dedicated following as (Sandy) Alex G has. On the internet, there’s plenty of fan forums such as (Sandy) Alex G 666posting and a pretty active Reddit following. The Philadelphia-based artist started out with releasing his music via Bandcamp in the early 2010s, experimenting with different genres and sounds coming straight out of good ol’ Garage Band (which he still uses today).
In the meantime, he re-released his album on indie label Lucky Number, eventually leading to a record deal with Domino. His circle of fans even grew bigger, after he played the guitar for Frank Ocean on Blonde and joined him on tour. For his latest release House Of Sugar, he toured Europe earlier this year. After completely sold-out shows in the UK, NBHAP author Louisa sat down with Alex to ask him about some of the most urgent topics in today’s world: cartoon characters, books and being independent. What came out of the interview, is a little guide to the weird but wonderful world of Alex G.
You grew up within the D.I.Y. scene. How has that environment changed since you started out?
“I think it just caught on a lot like, it seems. It seems like a ton of people are doing that which is pretty cool. Because it’s so easy to make music yourself now to get a computer that has a microphone and just and has some recording software. So it seems like the music world is embracing it.”
So on what does being independent for you as an artist?
“I mean, I’m technically not independent, ‚ cause I’m on Domino.”
That’s okay, they are still considered to be indie.
“I don’t think about it that much. But as long as I can make the music that I want to make without any other interference, then that’s happy, that would be independent.”
How did your general approach to indie music change since you started out?
“It’s honestly about the same like, I just go every song feels like an experiment. Then I just keep messing with it, until it feels good and then I stop.” (laughs)
Is there any tip you would like to give aspiring independent musicians?
“I guess I would recommend that they just do it because it gives them some immediate gratification and not do it because they think it will get them a career. I don’t really know how this happened, I got lucky a little bit. I don’t have any career advice that someone could count on.”
Books and cartoons
You work with a lot of cartoons in your videos and for merchandise. Which cartoon can you most identify with?
“Oh, that’s a good question. Maybe I would be Mister Krabs.”
You’re also a very passionate reader. What books intrigue you to read them?
“I kind of read everything. Anything that grabs my attention I guess. Right now I have this book called Black Leopard, Red Wolf by this author Marlon James. Thats a fantasy story, before that I was reading The Savage Detectives by this author Roberto Bolano. I guess it’s fun stuff that I like to read.”
You’ve recently mentioned that you would like to write a short story. What topics would you write about?
“I’d like to write a fantasy book. Did you ever read the Golden Compass?”
Yes, it’s great.
“The film was oversimplified, but it was with lots of special effects. They go to the North Pole, there are polar bears and they discovered a door to another dimension.”
I feel like it’s an underrated fantasy book.
“It’s one of my favorites.”
Some characters of your new album can be considered as underdogs or misfits. What characters grab your attention most?
“Just realistic ones, I guess. Sometimes books make a character that’s a bad guy or a good guy. It’s corny and obvious, but I like when you love the bad guy or you hate the good guy. Everyone’s very complicated, I like that sort of characters.”
Recently a lot of artists have dealt with the opioid crisis within their work. You did as well with Hope.
“I wrote this song because the only way I know how to write stuff is to reflect on my experiences and then I just turn it into a story. With that, I wasn’t even thinking about the grander scheme too much. I guess a lot of people are writing about it, because so many people have died. More people are aware now.”
All Photos by Louisa Zimmer