Bank of Sound Feature C. Alexander
Check out C. Alexander’s latest EP – keep scrolling…
From the first 30 seconds of listening, I was captivated by the track ‘Anxiety disorder – The full EP link is HERE. I managed to get Caleb to offer some insight into his ways of expressing himself creatively and his views on his work, the music & creative industry and mental health. I have so much respect for creativists who experiment & do something radical with their creativity.
I was drawn to the stream of consciousness of General Anxiety disorder as it is a form of writing I use often. I found someone who was doing (a better job) something similar to what I was messing about with.
A stream of consciousness writing is underrated & sometimes disregarded as not structured or nonsense writing.
In Caleb’s case, It can reveal thought-provoking, philosophical & hilarious often insightful into a person’s natural unrehearsed steady rhythms of thoughts.
Please, can I introduce the creator of this dope General Anxiety Disorder EP.
who are you?
Man. That’s sort of a tough question haha. My name is Caleb Alexander. I’m a 29 year old Poet/Musician and English Teacher (have to pay the bills somehow right?). I have a Masters of Fine Arts for Creative Writing, and have released a book of poetry (The Cosmic Hello), and two music EPs (Cosmic Aging (which corresponds to many of the poems in my book) and Found Poetry) under the name C. Alexander (mostly because there is already a semi-famous author named Caleb Alexander).
I suppose there is also a level of anonymity involved with not using my full name, but most people in my life know about the moniker anyway, so that’s pretty ancillary.
It’s safe to say the secret is out. Haha!
Excerpt from the cosmic hello synopsis
I wrote my pain of loss. I wrote my confusion about the existential questions that plagued me as someone who grew up in the bible belt, but had a hard time swallowing the bigotry I saw.
What (if anything inspired) General anxiety disorder’ and EP?
After releasing Cosmic Aging EP I really wanted to experiment more with strange drone sounds and “found sounds”(sampling) where I mash-up speeches and other elements that you wouldn’t typically think of as musical, and try to make something new with it. The single, “General Anxiety Disorder,” was an example that I thought best encapsulated this new style. The name comes from a psychological disorder that I suffer from that is marked with panic attacks and sometimes dissociative states. I’ve had it since I was a kid, and luckily I’ve learned to manage it without needing medication, but it certainly shaped me and my world-view during my formative years. I think that the song, and the strange list of items listed by the voice actor pretty well encapsulates the way I feel during the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had, that leave me disoriented and somewhat disassociated from reality.
WOW! That is brilliant (not the panic attacks obviously), that is terrifying. We never know what we can do with our so-called vulnerabilities. Creative outlets are (as we know) positive ways of maintaining well being. I think it’s commendable to use what can be a debilitating disorder as a muse for your EP & connect with others. It’s a genius & respect to you.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in a small town in the U.S. State of South Carolina. The town is called Williamston, and it is the definition of a “one stoplight” town. I really appreciate that I’m originally from the middle of nowhere, even though it was somewhat culturally isolating growing up.
Where do you live now and why?
I actually live in Providence, Rhode Island, which is a long way from where I grew up. The story is fairly long for how I ended up here, but it mostly involves me falling in love with a beautiful girl and being a hopeless romantic. We are still together almost 4 years later, so I guess it was the right decision. It has the added benefit of being a really fun city that is very kind to artists. I’ve met so many amazing people since I moved here.
Who says romance is dead? That’s incredibly whimsical, poetic & a blooming incredible reason to live where you are.
Why do you continue to do music?
I have an immense need to create. I follow that down different paths in a way that I’m sure would frustrate anyone who wants me to have a more focused output, but music is one of the most important aspects of my life and my creativity, even if it never goes anywhere. I think everyone needs a creative outlet. We are only in these bodies and minds for so long, and it’s important to explore what this particular version of a human can create while we are here.
Have you had another career/jobs/weirdjobs that wasn’t in the music industry?
For sure. I don’t make nearly enough money (read: basically none) for this to be anything other than a fun side project that I hope sometimes connects with people. I am primarily a high school English teacher and college professor, and I expect I will continue down that path to pay the bills.
We can’t live on fresh air & love alone.
When/What made you start playing music?
I actually got a pretty late start to music. I did have a couple of guitars in my teen years, and I learned how to play a few punk songs or whatever, but I didn’t really start playing music in earnest until about 3 years ago. I started out playing the keyboard with some friends, mostly just chords and stuff, and then got into finding loops, mixing them with some melodies I would come up with, and later incorporating some samples/my own poetry.
I’ve always loved music as a listener, and always wanted to play an instrument, but thought for a long time I just wasn’t talented. Around my 25th birthday or so, after a pretty nasty divorce, and a year of therapy, I really started to get my life together in a different sort of way, and music was one of the elements that have flourished since that time.
As of about 4 months ago, I’ve started really learning guitar, and I’m hoping to have some of those elements in whatever I come up with next.
That’s what it is all about. Be creative, experiment to recover, move on, grow as an individual by expressing yourself to do what makes you happier than where you were.
How did you get/break into started in the music industry?
I mean I wouldn’t really say I am “in the music industry”, just because I feel like that implies I’ve had success commercially or something, which I have not. But I did decide after a while, that I wanted to create some music that would be on platforms for people to discover (Spotify, Apple Music, whatever) and started to research how to make that happen. The subreddit r/wearethemusicmakers was a great resource for me as I was learning that whole process.
Thanks for sharing that resource for another like-minded folk to follow up.
What kind of people connect with you and your music?
That’s a great question (haha). I mean most people that I have interacted with that enjoyed my art and music seem to have similar questions about life and existence I guess. I think a lot of what I create has an existentialist vibe to it, and a lot of thinking people today have a similar viewpoint on the absurdity and potential meaninglessness of existence. At the same time, I personally think that even though on the surface that idea is depressing, there’s a lot of freedom to it as well. So I don’t know if people get that out of my art, or connect to that, but that’s my overall thesis: Life is meaningless, but your life isn’t.
That is a deep thesis & incredibly empowering. If people don’t get it then they have overlooked the whole point of being creative.
Like life, creativity is a process. (all my opinion) It’s about connections, communicating & finding likeminded people who you can collaborate with or bounce ideas around. That’s the beauty of experimenting with multiple creative methods like you do (in my humble opinion).
What genres of music do you like/would like to perform in?
Oh man. I like basically everything. I would say I primarily am drawn towards Indie/emo sort of vibes, but I also am really interested in hip-hop and electronic music, because I think a lot of the biggest innovation is taking place in those spaces right now. My ideal would be the mix the two, find a way to make electronic music grungy. Like I said before, I’m writing some songs with the guitar now, and trying to incorporate a little bit of singing, so maybe the next project will get closer to that ideal.
So are you venturing into Future grunge? It’s an interesting fusion because of the lack of angst & rage and ‘political induced ambivalence found in today’s grunge music is at the opposite spectrum of electronic music which people associate with the MDMA-induced positivity “scene”.
Do you write your own music?
Yes, but with the caveat that I do use pre-made samples and loops sometimes, but I construct and meld them in a way that is entirely up to me. I also write all the “lyrics” or poetry that you hear with my voice (Cosmic Aging EP) and the next project will feature lyrics and poetry written by me as well
What other roles do you play in the industry?
My other “role” in the music industry is that I’m a fellow music blogger/podcast host. My friend Seth and I run a website called B-Side Guys (www.bsideguys.com) that features artists across multiple genres. We also run a podcast of the same name that discusses music as it relates to various universal themes.
I love it & love what you are both doing.
“B-side guys are so dope. They gave me more confidence than I had in myself before. Tbh I dreaded submitting songs until I started working w them, because they actively helped me grow as an artist w their feedback, posts, artist write ups, etc. – it’s lit these people really help independent artists grow! Real anonymous fans are hitting me up it’s unreal” – Joe P. The MC
What are you trying to do in the industry?
Ultimately, I’m not really trying to do anything, at least commercially. I just want to create art and use my voice. I hope more people connect with it in a positive way, but I don’t care about becoming famous. That actually sounds pretty miserable to me. I want to keep my relatively quiet little existence going, and create the art that I want to create. Do I hope more people come to check it out? For sure. But am I actively creating in hopes of being “found”? Absolutely not.
Miserable? Quite the opposite. it’s refreshing to hear someone say that they don’t have to be a creative artist commercially, to get out there, and do their own thing. Pursue our creative pursuits for commercial gain or as a hobby (or whatever ) is great and both are equal in value & quality on a spectrum.
What is your view /experiences with/on mental health issues and the music industry?
That’s actually a really interesting topic that I’ve discussed at length over quite a few beers. Growing up, I always was really into the “tortured artist” idea. I wanted to be Elliot Smith or Kurt Cobain. A lot of my favorite artists over the years have dealt with mental health issues, primarily depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety. Over time, I’ve seen some of them get better, and sometimes their art suffered for it. It’s a really tough concept because I do think that I have created some really interesting art when I was in some of the lowest points of my existence. But ultimately, I think getting the help you need, and living a happier life, is more important than making tortured art. I wish Elliot Smith or Kurt Cobain had been able to go through therapy and recover, even if it meant they never made the art they are adored for. If anyone is intentionally not getting help because it makes them a better artist, I think that’s a mistake, even though I used to have the same viewpoint. Life is messy and mental health is a constant battle, but it is a battle worth fighting, regardless of how artistic or not you are.
That is a valid point you make. No amount of ‘tortured art’ as you call it, is worth a persons life or happiness. It is a serious issue in the world and in the U.K. creative arts industry. Its sad how many artists are exploited or feel the need to self medicate to fuel their career and creative endeavours.
A great U.K. charity for help with mental health issues is MUSIC MINDS MATTER
What is your favourite quote?
I am an avid reader and have been for my entire life. There is no way I could pick just one, so I’ll just pick the first one that comes to mind at this particular moment. This is a quote from Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy:
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour — such is my idea of happiness.” -Leo Tolstoy
That sounds like a Eutopian (attainable) existence. Freedom without conforming to specific Utopian ideals. It’s more of a mutual exchange that is beneficial to all. Thanks, GOOGLE 😀
What quote/sentence would you say best describes you and your music?
There is a line from a Brand New song that I got chills the first time I heard because it resonated with me. It’s from their song “Can’t Get It Out” and it says:
“Not just a manic depressive
Toting around my own cloud
I’ve got a positive message
Sometimes I can’t get it out”
Classic answer because we all struggle to get shit out of our heads or to speak at times in the way we want it to be fully understood. it’s probably why I think your music/projects are relatable to me and (I’m sure ) to others who read this.
What are your 3 favourite songs?
This is another impossible question, so I’ll give an in the moment sort of answer.
“The Silence” by Manchester Orchestra
“Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst” by Kendrick Lamar
“Time” by Pink Floyd
What is your perspective on the current state of the industry?
I think it’s a really cool place to be in right now. I think a lot of the major labels are dying, and I’m completely fine with their death. We have more access to people’s creativity than ever before.
That makes it very difficult to stand out obviously, but it has lowered the barrier to entry for artists to get heard, and I think that’s a great thing. Like I said before, human creativity is incredible, and the more people that are allowed to create, regardless of socio-economics or exposure, the better in my opinion. Everyone has a story to tell.
Amen to that. If only people realised they don’t have to be shit hot from the start. It’s great that the audience gets to decide what they want to listen to & can do so by accessing so many different platforms.
What do you think will help the industry survive/what do you think the industry needs in order to stop its decline? (from an American POV)
I don’t think it’s a problem really. I mean I guess it’s a problem for some of the major acts, and it’s a problem if you want to do this as your only job, but I think we are in the coolest time in music history right now. Even if the economics aren’t ideal for it.
Finally, what are you currently working on?
Like I said before, I tend to pivot back and forth between various projects, so it’s hard to say what the next thing you see will be. I will say I have 3 different balls in the air primarily right now.
First, I think I’m going to finish up my next book of poetry, which will hopefully find a publisher in the next year or so. Music wise, I’m writing a ton of music on guitar right now, and trying my hand at singing a bit. So I’m working on figuring out how I want that to sound.
As far as my more conventional sound, I do have another spoken word album almost entirely written, about two brothers who have a tumultuous relationship growing up, but I haven’t decided what musical direction to go with it yet, so maybe that’ll be the next thing. I will definitely keep you posted on whatever it ends up being.
Thank you so much for this. It has been an absolute pleasure collaborating with you, conversing with you. I appreciate your candour and honesty. And I look forward to checking out your new projects.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. I’m so happy that you find something of value in my art.