INTERVIEW WITH… TORONTO’S BROODING FOLK POP ARTIST ALEX SOUTHEY
Singer-songwriter Alex Southey is well-known in the Toronto songwriter music scene. Immersing himself into the scene, he was becoming a bigger part of it as well. As the artist was now regularly performing around the city, and running an open mic at Toronto’s Imperial Pub. Alex’s songwriting itself is a blend of contemplative and confessional. His new single ‘On the Dance Floor’ hone into that feelings and abilities. Southey cultivates a beautifully atmospheric track. One that celebrates love, dating, and nightlife in his beloved city of Toronto. A music video accompanies the single ‘On The Dance Floor’. It features nostalgic sourced material of home movies and vintage videos. It drives home that feelingof nostalgic the track feels solely. The music video features art direction from Linda Badgley. As Southey continues to work on his forthcoming tentatively titled record ‘…And the Country Stirred’. Alex had a quick chat with me at TRB about his new single and more. You can read it below.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Let’s talk about your new single ‘On the Dance Floor’? What’s the inspiration behind it? And how was the writing and recording process?
ALEX SOUTHEY: “On the Dance Floor” was inspired by just wanting to write something very “Toronto”. That meant including references specific to the city, and using past experiences of my own to flesh out the song. The writing process flowed pretty quickly. Some catchy stuff just kind of flows together after long enough. Once I had the bare bones, I let the song kind of sit around for a bit. Only when I begin recording the song do I really build an arrangement. I knew I wanted the sound to be different from my last record, and what I ended up with was something with hints of country, and bluegrass, ultimately sounding kind of alt-country, in the lineage of, say, Wilco, or Bahamas, or Feist. I got Kenny Feinstein and Tommy Drinkard (two members of California folk band Water Tower Band) to play fiddle and lap steel, respectively, all across the record and it took on this different personality. It was like putting on a new coat. It changed everything else.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You also released a music video with it. How did the music video come together? What’s was that collaboration process like?
ALEX SOUTHEY: One of the first great reviews I got was from a local Toronto outlet called The Spill Magazine. Aaron Badgley wrote it, and we hit it off. After chatting off and on over Facebook, he mentioned one of his daughters is a film student in New York. She and I got to chatting after I took a look at some of her work and I asked her to put together a video! It was a dream to work with her and truthfully I’ve been trying to get her on every project since.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How has been adjusting as an artist and musician to the ‘new normal’ after covid?
ALEX SOUTHEY: As much as I don’t love being in large groups of people for too long, going this long without it has definitely screwed with me, and many others I know. It’s weird to live basically the same day over and over again. Of course, you can fight against it, and fix that, but it is as easy to slip into a schedule where the days blur as it is to work in bed. I also do that. For me, the greatest benefit from this is having time. Time that I would have used for commuting I now use for… whatever I want, and that’s a big general increase in quality of life. I think commutes are a huge part of burnout. We should be up and going places every day, at least some walks, but rollercoasters of fury and anxiety for over an hour every day to get to and from work is not normal I want to return to.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Switching gears… Who are some of your favorite Toronto artists?
ALEX SOUTHEY: Zoon is a big one, I just purchased his record on vinyl. He’s a shoegaze artist out of Toronto-Hamilton, and he’s always doing something interesting. His record Bleached Wavves seems to have tons of staying power on college radio. I love it. It’s great for walks. Great to get lost in. I very recently found out about Pantayo and I’ve been listening to their self-titled for the last little while. It’s so far from anything I normally listen to and yet because it pulls from different influences it all sort of… sits comfortably once you adjust to its logic. It’s a great record and one that invites you to participate. I’m also a big fan of Tired Kid’s last EP.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is one album that you can never get tired of?
ALEX SOUTHEY: One I’ve been revisiting every 9 months since it came out is In Rainbows by Radiohead. I’m a huge fan in general but like many people I am a sucker for that one in particular. For a long time I knew The Wall by Pink Floyd inside and out. I liked the theatrics of it… and I liked that it was theatrical without being corny. Roger Waters’ greatest gift is his sense of phrasing words a certain way, and then dressing them up another way (or in exactly the way you expected) to emphasize emotion. I realise now most of my favourite songs are sort of built like little movies. Probably why I tend to go “Hey Jude” on every one of my songs at first.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you could collaborate with any artist who would you pick and why?
ALEX SOUTHEY: I think something with Pantayo would be really cool. They’ve got everything figured out as far as I can see. I’d like to see their creative process and how they arrive at such unique music. It’s got such a clear personality.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Recommend something in pop culture that you’re obsessed with?
ALEX SOUTHEY: Peep Show. It may well be my favourite comedy series ever. It is both so of a time, yet timeless. The comedy is a mix of the selfishness and pettiness on shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Seinfeld, and what can only be described as Englishness. Buried deep, deep down, too, there’s a little pathos. Mostly, though, it’s fun seeing exactly how pathetic these men allow themselves to become.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And to close, what’s next on the horizon for you, Alex? Thanks for taking the time out!
ALEX SOUTHEY: Thank you! I’m planning on releasing some more music way later in 2021, but the main focus now is giving my upcoming album …And the Country Stirred and “On the Dance Floor” the attention they deserve. In the past, I’ve rushed to release music, but now I want to sit with each release and sort of observe and-or take it through its phases of absorption.
You can stream Alex’s new single ‘On the Dance Floor’ out now everywhere.