Four years ago it seemed like Alexander Vincent had it all. He was the drummer for the vastly popular band Magic! and toured the world playing alongside prominent artists in the industry.
He achieved a kind of success many musicians could only dream of, but there was a yearning inside that left him feeling unfulfilled. He possessed a deep desire to craft his own sound on his own terms and that is exactly what he did. Finding the courage to brave the waters alone, Vincent foraged ahead with his solo career creating music that is truly personal and profound. Showcasing wistful songs of anguish and heartbreak, listeners unearth healing within the sadness.
Vincent had always envisioned becoming an electronic music producer before getting swept up by the pop scene. The singer’s expressive electro tracks are a reminder of why he left his hometown of Toronto, Canada for Los Angeles in the first place. Building something that finally feels honest and real, he has gained the confidence to show a more intimate side of himself. Culture Collide spoke with Alexander Vincent discussing his new music, time in Magic! and work as a producer.
You have had a thriving career in the music industry. You were the drummer for Magic! who has topped the charts with their hit single “Rude”. Though you are grateful for obtaining that level of success, at the same time you knew you had your own message you wanted to share with the world. What did you learn from your time in Magic and how have things been different cultivating your own solo career?
Though I am very grateful for my experience with Magic!, I also got to see behind the curtain in a sense. I found out what it takes to be successful and what artistic sacrifices have to be made. With Magic!, the music that we were congratulated on wasn’t very close to my heart. My approach to the band was a more clinical, businesslike approach and the response, in turn, was not as rewarding because the music wasn’t coming from an honest place. I had a lot of fun making the music and playing the shows but I have learned that the closer you get to making something that is personal and honest, the reward is much richer. Not in a financial way, but in a way that is much more gratifying and connected to my love of music and the beauty of expression.
Sonically, your music exudes warm, moody vibes yet also possesses an animated vibrancy. How did you develop your distinct style?
Thank you for saying that! I think it is a combination of my different influences. I really am obsessed with all genres of music and I like to try and create a clash of opposing sounds. I also am constantly working on my craft as a producer to be able to sonically create what I am looking for emotionally. I think I tend to lean towards the sadness. I find comfort in it. So my music usually has a melancholy mood.
You have mentioned that Bjork’s music is a big inspiration for you. Though made by computers, it has a very human quality to it. Your music also portrays that same genuine human feeling. How have you found that balance between creating something that is digitalized yet also real and organic?
Yes! She is one of my favorite artists. She has had a huge impact on my creativity. You’re absolutely right about her music having a human quality to it while being mainly made with computers. For me, a simple answer is that I try to mix digital and live instruments. On this song, “Close To You”, I recorded several live instruments. Drums, bass, guitar, piano, organ and vocals. (some instruments were played by co-producer George Linev and the bass by Cooper Appelt) Also, for the digital sounds, I try to not make them so stiff feeling and right on the digital grid. I try to perform them naturally and not edit them, taking away the human feel.
Your latest single “Close To You,” is a track examining why you have been single for so long. You emotively sing, “It never feels like home. I can never feel that close to you”. Can you describe the meaning in more detail?
One of the lyrics in the song is “there’s something in the way that I just can’t get through” Which is pretty poignant for me. Writing this song was a process for me to search for what that thing is. I feel a separation between myself and people I try to connect with romantically. I have been single for a few years now and have gone inwards too much and now it is hard to let another person in and fully express the complexity of my solitude. I think the longer you are alone, the more you become self-reliant and you strengthen your habits and routines. Especially in these crazy times where we literally can’t get close to each other, it’s more difficult. This song was a collaboration. I co wrote it with my friend and artist Annaca and George Linev.
In addition to your time with Magic! and now your solo career, you’ve also made a name for yourself producing tracks for prominent artists like Sabrina Claudio and remixing the work of pop/rock orchestral influenced Kan Wakan. What have those experiences taught you and how has it helped shape your own music?
My experience as a producer has helped me from a technical standpoint very much. Hours and hours of trying to achieve a certain sound for the record I’m creating has given me the ability to more easily create a sonic experience that is representative of what I am feeling in that moment. For many years, my skills on the computer were limiting my ability to create. Also, my confidence in myself has grown from having those experiences with other artists and producers.
I understand you are a big believer in getting in touch with your vulnerable side, which leads to more insightful musical experiences. What has allowed you to become so emotionally open?
My parents. They are both very emotional and artistic people. My mom is an acting teacher and a huge part of her teaching is about opening yourself up and being vulnerable. My dad is a musician and a lover of the arts so I’ve always been exposed to great art. They also always taught me that it is ok to cry. Which has turned me into such an overly sensitive guy and I blame them for it constantly.
Finally, what initially sparked your love of music?
It seems like my whole life has been surrounded by great music. Since I was a kid, I had headphones in my ears. One very significant memory to me was when I was young, I had the album Nevermind by Nirvana on tape. I was lying on my bed listening to it on my walkman and I felt some feelings inside me that we’re brand new. A burning feeling. It’s hard to put into words, but the impact that that experience and hundreds of others when I was young implanted this endless desire to create music and devote my life to something greater than myself.