An Interview With The Emerging New Zealand Band ALAE Front-Man Alex Farrell-Davey On New Music and More!
“Hit Me Where It Hurts,” the first single from Alae’s freshly sealed partnership with Canadian producer Justin Gray and Anti Gravity records was just released today, alongside a local first of it’s kind MUSIC VIDEO featuring the work of some of NZ’s most renowned music video directors.
Recorded in Los Angeles with Gray after a transformative collaboration session at the APRA AMCOS Songhubs initiative in March, “Hit Me Where Hurts” wraps a tale of one-sided love in a a springtime slice of slick soulful pop. This is Alae as you’ve never heard them before, and just a taste of what’s to come.
Songwriter and vocalist Alex Farrel-Davey states; “‘Hit Me Where It Hurts’ was the first song I’ve ever written in a group situation, and with people I don’t know. The process was massively unfamiliar, but it flowed so well. It’s really opened my mind to to a more collaborative songwriting process, which is something I would have been really closed off to previously. It was a real privilege to work with such a knowedgeable collective.”
With bodies of work that read like a who’s who of NZ music, with over 150 music videos in the can between them, Chris Graham, Greg Page, Alexander Gander, Charlotte Evans and Petra Cibilich bring their directing talents to the latest from Alae, with ground breaking results. Mikee Carpinter, band manager and editor of the video explains how the concept came together; “For the music video we wanted to use a selection of directorsand run with the idea of an ‘Exquisite Corpse’ style video, where none of the directors knew what the other directors would be doing for their 1 minute section of the song. We asked these amazingly talented humans because they had shown their own beautiful aesthetic through the work they’d done previously. Lucky for us they all said yes!”
“We all agreed to embrace the mystery of the whole concept, and likened it to the shared drawings from primary school days, where someone drew the head & folded it over, the next person drew the torso and so on. When we screened it for the first time all together, it felt like Christmas and each director’s segment was like opening another surprise present.” – Chris Graham
“Hit Me Where It Hurts” is the first single to be released from Alae’s forthcoming five-track EP which will release Summer 2020. Single is now through Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.
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Learn more about Alae in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day? Now that we are into the 10th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 has treated this band? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
2019 has been great so far, it’s been very busy and full of amazing opportunities. We’ve been to L.A, worked with some amazing people, opened for some great acts and we’re working away on this new EP as well as getting the visual content for each song done and dusted.
What are you already excited about for 2020?
To get outside of our comfort zone with the music we’re writing. It certainly feel like we’ve achieved that with our new music, it’s a lot more ‘feel good’ than it’s ever been which is great. Sad music (as much as I love it) needs to chill out… As for 2020, who knows. I’d love to come over to the USA and play some shows!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on?
There wasn’t a moment as such when we all knew that ‘Alae’ would be what it is now. It was more of a slow burner. • We started as a duo, just Allister and I. It evolved in to the 4 piece it is today over about a 2 year period. In all honesty, the name was kind of a necessary evil if that makes sense? We didn’t really know what to name our selves, but we had to pick something. Alae was visually ambiguous, and had very few, well known connotations. I feel like we’ve grown in to the name.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming EP set for release early next year. What inspired the songs on this collection? What was it like putting this EP together?
The inspiration behind this EP was opportunity. Being lucky enough to go to LA, to work with exciting new talent and to push ourselves further in the industry. Putting this EP together was interesting, it was less work than the album, but It came with new challenges. The writing process was entirely new, a lot of co writes, a new kind of production / producer. We found a new direction I guess.
What was it like working with the acclaimed producer Justin Gray? How did this collaboration come to be?
Working with Justin was great, he’s full of Ideas – literally bursting with ideas… And he’s so speedy! Like some sort of Canadian music ninja. I loved it! • The collaboration came as a part of a NZ on air / Apra initiative called ‘Songhubs’ where upcoming NZ writers have the opportunity to work with international talent. • Justin was one of the producers. On the last day I had a writing session with Annabel Liddell, Djeisan Suskov and of course Justin Gray and we wrote a song that really blew me away. Which is our new single.
What does it mean to you be signed with the indie label Anti-Gravity Records now? How did you about choosing to work with them?
It means a lot to be signed by a North America and Canadian indie label, with a distribution deal through Warner • – because we’re only from lil old NZ. • Even writing that down felt good… • I suppose the fact that Justin is involved with the label and the fact that there’s not too many other artists signed meant that we have a bit more of a personable relationship with the people we’re working with.
Generally, how does ALAE go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
It used to start with me in my bedroom feeling sorry for myself, • thinking my sadness was so individual and poetic. The sadness would then be empathized with and interpreted by Allister and we’d finish the thing. Now days it’s a collaborative process, with co writers and a bit more energy. It’s ever evolving really.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
We do, for sure. Sometimes it’s healthy to have a break from each other though. Allister and I used to live together, write together, gig together and basically do everything together. • That shit gets a bit much though haha. • Now days we all have separate flats, some of the members play in other bands, we hang out after gigs and rehearsals and do the drinking ect…
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
We’ve grown so much, stylistically, as people, as musicians and as friends. But I guess the one thing that’s stayed the same is our love for music and how much we care about each other. A bit sappy, but I love my mates!
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
I think we’re happiest on stage and while recording. • Both spaces have such a different energy, but are both awesome.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues over the years?
I feel like it’s always changing. Our live set is all about adapting to the setting. The gigs where I’ve had the most fun are the intimate, 50 people in the audience kind of shows. But in saying that we’ve had so much fun playing festivals over NZ it’s a way different vibe, but gets the adrenaline pumping.
What does it mean to you to be added to the Going Global Presents Showcase events at the Going Global Music Summit 2019?
That was awesome, it was a great opportunity to play for some people from abroad. The audience was loving it, everyone was there for a good time and that felt great on stage.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
Social media serves a purpose, but I kind of can’t stand it… • You need it to advertise and it can be super helpful, but it’s not music, it feels like a bit of a vanity project ya know?
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Alae isn’t a particularly politically charged band, so current events rarely find there way in to the lyrical content. But, I suppose the world we live in affects how we feel each day so that tonality finds it’s way into the musicality for sure. • Yeah, it’s 100% an escape.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music?
SO MANY!! • Jeff Tweedy, Carol King, Josh Rouse, Feist, Bobby Womack, Mel Torme, Billy Holiday, Marvin Gaye, Harry Nilsson. The List goes on and on and on and on – Oh, Erykah Badu!
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Whatever you want really, music’s a personal thing, there’s no right way to listen or interpret. Just use good speakers!!