- Words Colin Graves
- Photography Donal Talbot
Garstang musician Christian Alexander tells us the last time he cried and the biggest problem facing the human race for Notion 85.
Twenty minutes from anywhere, in the secluded market town of Garstang, 10 miles from Preston in the North of England, a unique talent that goes by the name of Christian Alexander has been quietly blossoming. “It’s a nice place”, says Christian of his hometown, “But there’s never really been much for me, musically there’s never really been much that I can relate to”.
Though he might feel like an outsider, Christian says Garstang’s remoteness has given him “a lot more focus” to write the poignant and intimate songs that make up his remarkable self-recorded and produced debut project, ‘Summer ‘17′.
Mixing manipulated vocals, acoustic guitars and atmospheric melodies, Christian merges genres to tell tales of loneliness, isolation and depression. Despite the sincere sadness in lines like, “I’ve been so beat down and burned out / I seem so worn out and stressed now,” from “I Wanna Go Home”, there’s an exquisite joy and youthful urgency to his sound. Christian will tell you that the best way to describe his music is “pure self-expression”, but we’d call it quality soft boy material.
What’s your writing process?
I’m always thinking about writing but I set a routine. I get up and get in the studio before lunch and just work and keep going away at it. Every once and while a song comes into your head but most of the time creativity comes from persistence and putting the effort in. You have to be disciplined. I’ve been trying to improve my songwriting. If I go back and listen to the stuff from when I was 18, I was just finding out who I was as an artist, I was singing too low in my range.
Do you have any bedroom recording tricks?
Pretty much all of my vocals I did with this SM57 microphone and I just turned it the other way, so I was directly behind it and there’s a sweet spot you get; I wanted to stray as far away from my voice as possible because, in reality, you can’t really escape.
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
It was something like “Touch the Sky”, I made it when I was really young and it was this simple four bar song. It was good. I remember it was the first proper song I made when I got myself some equipment — it wasn’t the best but you have to start somewhere.
What can you say about the follow up to ‘Summer ‘17′?
I wanted to work hard on having some sort of progression no matter what I did. For ‘Summer ‘17′ I didn’t even do things properly, which went to its favour, but I wanted to force myself to step up. I’ve written it from the same place as ‘Summer ‘17′ — that’s a key thing, I’ve not really done much since [making ‘Summer ‘17′], so it’s very much the same kind of mindset, just more polished. Everything I write is intimate. I’m more confident with this next one, from the very first song to the end.
Word on the street is that the new songs feature you rapping…
There’s a song I’ve done called “Peter Parker”, I’ve messed about with, not rapping but speaking. That’s the first song where I’ve listened to it and felt really happy with it. I love listening to rap music and hip hop. What I’m doing, it’s not rapping though is it? It’s just me being me.
How was high school?
It was great actually. I thoroughly enjoyed high school. I was kind of like a class clown towards the end.
You seem so quiet though!
After five years of spending time with the same people you get more comfortable and I had my music thing so that gave me more confidence. College was when it wasn’t really good. I did Media, Photography, Music Technology and English. It was awful. Well, it wasn’t awful, there was nothing wrong with it, it was more me. I was never good at doing stuff on deadlines, or doing work I was told to do. Media and photography seemed like fun but when it’s work and someone else is telling me to do it I never really liked that.
Did you stick it out?
I would spend any time not with one of my mates, going down to the ground floor in the music department and going to a room and making music for an hour and a half or something. I dropped out of college. I wanted to go to uni, that was the plan, but as soon as I went to college, I just didn’t like the discipline people were putting on me.
Do you have a problem with authority?
Kind of but any job I’ve been in, I’ve been very good. I was a waiter for a month or so and I was great, if someone tells me to do something in that kind of role I’m OK. But I do have a little something – if someone tells me to do something, especially if it’s with something I’m passionate about, I just hate it, I’ll just push myself away from them.
When and why last time you cried?
Firstly, I should definitely cry more. I’m actually looking forward to the next time I do cry. It’s a release. I kind of block myself sometimes, for some reason. Last time I cried properly was last year. That was over this girl who dumped me, that was shit, so I cried at that. I don’t cry enough though. I need to. I tear up all the time at little things but I always stop myself though. If I cried more I’d feel a lot better.
What’s the biggest problem facing humanity?
Are we alone in the universe?
No. To say there’s no other life form of any sort, how would you know? To think we’re the only planet that has sustained the right kind of heat and everything’s right about it, out of how many galaxies? It’s infinite out there as far as we’re aware.