Alex Arpino has had a rich history in Perth music, with a decade fronting indie pop purveyors The Autumn Isles behind him, he now sets out on a solo escapade with his debut self-tilted record. Tomatrax caught up with Alex to ask a few questions.
You’ve just put out your latest solo single, what’s it like to have it out?
It’s great, I’ve worked on this material for quite a while now and as a debut solo record, it’s exciting to finally get it out there. I’m really enjoying that payoff.
What was the inspiration for the 80s style video for ‘I Remember You’?
I was lucky to meet up with Yaegar Mora-Strauks early this year, he directed the videos for the first two singles. After we completed the video for Space Ghost (In a Puppet) we started to talk about the next idea. Yaegar was keen on a narrative driven video. I thought a location that had some historical context to my childhood would be fun and the Morley Rollerdrome really fit the bill. It was a common hang out spot as a kid in the late 80’s. I reached out to them and they were so accommodating. For me that venue will always have an association with the 80’s, so we just ran with it! The lyrics really informed the narrative. From there I recruited some friends and the ideas just flowed. It was a very fun and rewarding video to shoot.
You’ve said that this song is more autobiographical covering recollections of lost love, childhood hopes and adolescent adventures. Is it hard to put something that personal out for everyone to hear?
I think when you come from an honest place it can really resonate with people, and ultimately art is better for it. All the things listed are pretty universal themes that have motivated songwriters from the very beginning. I’m just finding my way in all of that, trusting what I know and expressing it.
You have an album coming out next month, how will the rest of the album compare with ‘I Remember You’?
I took the time to produce an eclectic mix of material, and find the unique voice or colour in each song. I really look for that in albums as a listener. I want songs to have distinction across a record. The challenge is to keep it working in a cohesive form. There are some far heavier and equally more delicate moments on the record.
What made you decide to make the album self titled?
I spent quite some time looking for the right title that best summarised the material. As it’s my debut solo album, filled with personal moments, it just felt right to put my name on it. It’s also been a process of claiming it. Something that’s taken some time for me as a songwriter and producer, to proudly stand up and say “I made this”.
You spent a decade fronting indie pop purveyors The Autumn Isles, how does performing solo compare to being in a band?
It can be far more personal, and does take more focus to deliver the music as a sole voice. I have had some really rewarding experiences performing solo. The irony is this album is very much a studio record and would be a challenge to translate as a solo performance. I’m in the process of putting a band together to bring it to the stage, which I’m looking forward to! As far as working on the material in the studio on my own, it has been very rewarding. The sense of freedom with no expectation or pressure has been liberating.
When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
I would historically start with a chord progression and vocal melody. Then I would gradually refine it, add layers, with lyrics being the final stage. For this album however I wanted to mix it up and make the most of not having a band, so it would be working around a beat or start with a synth line for example. It really helped me to try out different ideas and let it come together organically.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
While I’m in the production process, I listen to it a lot. Once an album is completed and released I gradually move away from it and focus on developing new material. I generally don’t revisit it for some time after that. It’s interesting listening to stuff you put out 10 years ago, time is the most qualified music critic in my opinion.
What music do you listen to?
I’m always looking at what’s out there, curios to see what is inspiring people in the current climate, one of the benefits of living in the streaming age I suppose. I’m also lucky to live in a town with great local talent releasing new music- Jacob Diamond, Bats, Michael Savage, Em Burrows, Simone and Girlfunkle, David Craddock, Myths. And I have my staples, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, ELO, Beck, ABBA, Wings, Wilco, the list goes on and on…
A lot of my musical taste is genre driven, based on mood, like Yacht Rock for example – Steely Dan, Hall and Oats, Toto or sometimes I need to listen to KRS 1, Kool Kieth or Portishead, Weezer, Blur, Dennis Wilson…I have broad musical tastes which I think is important as a songwriter.
What do you have planned following your album release?
I have started to put together a great group of musicians to bring the album to the stage. I will be making a few more videos for this album and keep making fun content. As long as the material is strong, I’m enjoying the process and those around me are equally enjoying it, that’s the ultimate goal.
Check out Alex Arpino’s website to find out more!