Camden, New Jersey is home to one of the most talented and hardest working singer-songwriters in the business. When he’s not performing on Broadway
or re-establishing an historic recording company
, Graham Alexander is busy writing power pop that will lodge itself into your soul’s catalog of all time favorites. Finding a home on your internal playlist somewhere right after The Beatles and just before the Jackson 5.
Priding themselves on their live show, Graham and his band lay down a gauntlet of talent on stage that no backing track or sample based artist could ever replicate. Their timeless sound focuses on Graham’s impeccable vocal delivery and charismatic story telling. The end result is an homage to “retro” or “vintage” power pop rock while still maintaining a contemporary aesthetic.
Evensound was thrilled to hear that Graham would answer a few of our questions about his seemingly endless supply of inspiration and ambition. We wanted to get his thoughts on his writing process, business ventures, and plans for the next year.
What was your writing and recording process like for Repeat Deceiver?
Repeat Deceiver took about 2 years to write. I’d say the writing process was different for each song–about half the album came from live performance energy– meaning that we were hoping for this album to be a bit more uptempo compared to midtempo (like most things actually are these days). I really wanted more energy than my first record.
We started the process of putting this album together at our studio in NJ which, at the time, was a factory which housed our touring equipment, studio, and offices. It had a very cavernous space to it which lent itself to playing as loudly as possible, so much of the album lends itself to that environment. As for the songs themselves, they were all written as I normally write — which is essentially trying to look at where I’m at emotionally (at that moment) from a third party and describing it in song as best I can.
What inspired you to revive RCA’s Victor Talking Machine Co. label?
I was born in Camden, NJ and I reside in the area still, so Victor has always been a presence in the region (since its headquarters were located at the Camden waterfront).
Initially, it’s pretty simple, someone had informed me that a record label from Camden and from Radio Corporation of America’s former brand portfolio was headed up for auction and I thought, well I can’t NOT help bring it back home…and so I scraped together whatever I could from working in NYC and bought the brand and then folded the company I’d formed previously into a new entity which was Radio Corporation of America (a corporate name that was purchased by GE in the mid-80s and all but dissolved until we took it over to be the parent company of the VTMC record label).
In short. The bottom line is: I felt there was a lot of history in the recording industry to be preserved and furthered in the greater Philadelphia/Camden area and my team and I intended to bring some of its history back. Recording history in N.Y.C, Nashville, or L.A.? Pshhhh–all babies compared to Philadelphia.
Was this recording experience more gratifying and/or daunting in anyway given that it was spearheading your own label?
Oh it’s continuously daunting–hasn’t stopped since the release! However, I think it would be that way, my own record label or not. This album was more gratifying than the last, so that helps.
What guidance or insight could you offer new and struggling artists who are trying to make a living with their music in an uncertain and perpetually evolving music industry?
Be weird. Think ENTIRELY outside the box. Study business/music in all forms, just soak in the entire industry in every way possible. Making a living? Well, there may be more ways than ever to earn a living in music (contrary to popular wisdom). If you love it. Sometimes this includes playing other people’s music, or weddings, or birthdays, or other equally *less than rock star* affairs….and while you do that….think of it this way: millions of people would love to be able to do such things and live on it. You are blessed, so keep going.
At the moment I’m sure you’re focused on your tour and live show in support of Repeat Deceiver, but will you be producing and/or releasing any other artists on Victor Talking Machine Co. in the near future ?
Absolutely! We are working on a bunch of projects at the moment, besides some new Graham Alexander songs for a television show and the early start of a new record, we are working on a few alternate genre albums (compared to my own). The plan is to make Victor Talking Machine Co. as vast as its original foray into recorded music was — Victor can boast producing the very first Jazz record and some of the earliest Blues, Opera, Pop, Folk.
What did you learn from your Broadway experiences? How would you say it’s affected you as an original artist?
Broadway is fantastic. Theatre is fantastic in general and I love it all. I’m not sure if it affected me too much as an original artist apart from stage presence, choreography, audience interaction, stage handling–that sort of thing. So it’s affected the live show, but not terribly the writing portions of music making. However, since it was a life experience, you never know.
What are you most excited about for this upcoming year?
The whole year is moving wayyyyy too fast— I’m very much excited about shows in NYC and Albany we have coming up. I’m looking forward to releasing some more promotional films for songs. We are also working on moving the company in the direction of being able to issue some really unique products that complement the music.