Interview: Alex G
Written by Lanny Lieu on September 14, 2015
If there’s one name in music that has exploded over the past year or so, it’s bedroom-pop boy genius, Alex G. At the age of 22, Giannascoli has released three full-length albums, been featured on sites like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, and withdrawn from college to pursue his promising career as a full-time musician. From the buzz he’s been receiving for his new singles, “Bug” and “Salt”, off Beach Music, his forthcoming album, it seems like Alex G is on the right track.
I caught up with Alex a few months ago and we had a conversation about DSU, “lo-fi” as a label, and garlic.
photo credit: Lanny Lieu
You’ve been releasing music online since 16-17 and a lot of it is under Sandy Alex G. What’s the difference between Sandy and Alex G?
Sandy Alex G was when I wanted to make a Facebook for the music and there’s a girl who’s already taken the name Alex G so I made Sandy Alex G to differentiate. We’ve also been playing shows as Sandy Alex G. The shows are, of course, different than the recordings and Sandy Alex G is more a band than anything.
Anyone who has checked out your music knows that you have a whole backlog of material ranging from full-length releases to EPs/splits. In another interview, you mentioned that you originally thought DSU was going to be another one of those online releases. Obviously, it turned out to be mastered by Warren Hildebrand and released via Orchid Tapes and became this huge success.
Yeah, we played a few showcases with Warren and I had met him a few times through Mat Cothran of Elvis Depressedly and I knew he was doing Orchid Tapes and it was kind of a shot in the dark but it worked out. Warren’s a great guy.
Why’d you reach out to work on DSU but not some of your prior releases? Are you just more proud of DSU?
I reached out because I wasn’t in contact with him before that. I put Rules out and I started talking to Mat Cothran because he liked Rules. I put Trick out and then after, I got a real band together and we started playing out a lot and that’s how we came to know each other. I guess it’s just because I didn’t know him before that.
Your music often described as lofi by many publications and music blogs. What are your thoughts on the thoughts on the label of “lo-fi” as a genre?
I guess people call it that because it’s not recorded in a studio but I don’t wouldn’t want that name to imply that I didn’t put in as much effort into it as a studio recording. I just don’t have the equipment or anything top notch. I make it as quality as I can make it with the means that I have.
When writing music, do you focus more on the lyrics or instrumentation?
It’s a little bit of both. I wouldn’t try to put in a lyric with whatever melody was happening.
Last year, you collaborated with Ryan Hemsworth on his latest album. Do you have any future collaborations in mind?
I don’t think so. That was a cool thing to try but I don’t think it’s something I’ll be doing much of.
Now, I have two questions Mitski asked me to pass along to you. Question 1: if you had the chance to live anywhere, where would you live?
I don’t know. I haven’t had the urge to move out of Philadelphia. I guess if it was really easy to move, then I’d try moving to Arizona. I always like driving through there. I like the scenery but I don’t know much of anywhere but Philly so I don’t really have that desire to move.
Question 2: Do you have music that you go back and listen to when you need to reset or remember why you make music in the first place?
No, I usually have to find something new to be inspired.
Alright, this next question is one I’ve been asking everyone I’ve interviewed lately. Chow mein, low mein, or Gucci Mane?
What’s chow mein?
I looked this up the other day. Chow mein consists of fried noodles whereas low mein doesn’t.
I prefer low mein.
On December 7th, 2014 you tweeted “Alex looks like he eats a lot of garlic.” Question is, do you? What are your thoughts on garlic?
[Laughs] Someone commented online on this Philly interview I did with “Alex looks like he eats a lot of garlic.” There’s this picture of me making a funny face but they probably said that because of my Italian name or something. I probably eat a decent amount of garlic.
Alex G’s music can be found on his BandCamp.