Alice Underground are a sultry Jazz-infused group that is taking the world by storm with their latest release, The Cambria Sessions. An ambitious and delightful record, the group have launched off with the enticing single and video, “Superman.” Their musical range knows no boundaries as they create a sound that is easy accessible and equally as enchanting. I had the chance to catch up with the group, and what an honor it was! Be sure to check out the interview, below.
When you are writing music, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
Much of the groundwork for the record was laid during a single epic writing session between Tash, Sash, Scott and our good friend Shawn Strider, who contributed many of the conceptual ideas and lyrics. On that day, many of the song structures and lyrical ideas were set. From then, the writing process was very organic. Scott came up with additional chord progression and lick ideas on the guitar, the entire band got together and worked out the arrangements and the finishing touches on the songs, with the vocal arrangements and remaining lyrics. We all feel very connected to the writing process. It’s a very collaborative effort in the end.
What is the meaning behind the title of the lead single, "Superman”?
"Superman" was originally written as part of a storyline from the album. A man, that one of the girls is in love with, has gotten himself in trouble because of trying too hard to be a hero. Ultimately, the song is about how in love, we can either put someone else on a pedestal, or we struggle with being put on a pedestal. Tash explains, "In the end, I want to love a person as the real human being that they are and not as a superhero."
With smooth and outstanding lyrics, that read like poetry, how do you write the lyrics? What is the ultimate inspiration?
Thank you for the kind words! The lyrical process really depends on the song. When I (Tash) write songs by myself, I often listen for the proverbial whispers of the muses. I grew up writing poetry from a young age and spend a lot of my time immersed in reading and writing. Sometimes I wake up from dreams and will have written poems or songs in my sleep. It’s why I keep a dream journal right next to my bed. I find our subconscious mind is filled with so much to say and that all we really need to do is to listen. When we collaborate with Shawn or as an entire band, it becomes like a really fun tennis game, where we volley that ball back and forth to each other. Shawn is a fellow writer, who has written countless stories in so many mediums and also thinks like a poet. We really love to create story-driven songs and have stories in mind for the upcoming follow-up albums.
Do you produce and record your own records, or do you head into the studio? How did you record The Cambria Sessions?
Yes! We record and produce our music at our own studio in Studio City, California. For this record, we recorded all the instruments, live, in one day. We wanted to capture that magic of the way we feel when we actually play together. There’s nothing like being able to have a conversation musically and really feed off of each other in real time. Vocals were recorded separately by Scott Landes (guitar). Gordon Bash (bass) and Scott collaborated to produce and mix the record (except for "Superman" which was mixed by Eric Hart at Glashaus Studios), and Eric Hart mastered the album at his studio.
The new video for "Superman" is gorgeously crafted. How did you come up with the story line (and/or treatment) for the piece?
Thank you so much! We’re thrilled with how it came out.
We wanted to play with the concept of time...past, present, and future. Jean Renard, our director, crafted the storyline and worked closely with our lead dancer, Clinton Kyles, to choreograph a piece that could shift between present day and an imaginary past era. Jean utilized some of the same camera and post-production techniques used on the film “Sin City 2”, to create the characteristic black-and-white look with red accents. The set was designed by Jean, and built by our (and our wonderful friends') own bare hands, in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. From there, we had a team of incredible dancers and artists who came together to help us make this piece.
Jean is s
uch a gifted artist with vision. We've been so wonderfully lucky to collaborate with such a talented community of artists.
What are your key musical goals for the rest of 2016?
2016 has been a phenomenal year so far!! The Alice Project (which is made up of 4 bands - Alice Underground, AL1CE, ¡BASH!, and MKIO) went on tour through the southwest US, playing 18 shows in 10 days! We headlined the Anime Expo Cowboy Bebop show and Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball in Los Angeles, released our debut record for Alice Underground The Cambria Sessions, released 2 music videos (a 3rd on the way), and have played countless shows.
In the next few months, we have lots more in store! We are scheduled to record the AL1CE record next month, play multiple upcoming shows including another tour through the southwest US, and in December, we will be heading to Uzbekistan to represent the US State Department on a cultural exchange! In the interim, we will be writing for the next Alice Underground album and already have storylines that are brewing for it. Whew…
We love playing and creating as much as possible.
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