In this city where there is more talent than there are pizza joints in Manhattan, one local musical multi-tasker I hope you are paying attention to is singer-songwriter and producer Alex Wong. In addition to manning his Nashville studio where he serves as producer-of-choice for local faves Delta Rae and others, Alex makes some fine music on his own.
My first taste of Alex Wong was his tender introspective single “In the Creases,” an infectious Lo-Fi gem that is one of the best songs about lost love you will ever want to cry over.
Alex has just released “Kivalina,” an ambitious EP he put together with his longtime collaborator, Jesse Terry. The EP tells the tale of a small town in Alaska impacted by climate change. Alex had this to say about the inspiration for this latest project: “When Jesse and I first read about the people of Kivalina, we saw our own friends and families in their stories. It’s hard to imagine how I would cope with my homeland disappearing beneath my feet and what it would do to my relationships, my sense of history, and my thoughts of the future.”
Thanks Alex, for the great music and your 11 Answers. New Yorkers can see Alex on the Rockwood Music Hall stage on October 21. You can become a patron of Alex at www.patreon.com/Alexwongsounds where you can get access to more of the stories he tells through music.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I guess the last place I lived before Nashville was Brooklyn, NY, but technically I moved from a storage unit in Torrance CA. I was on a tour for about ten months with Vienna Teng and didn’t know where I would land after the tour. I moved to Nashville in 2014 at the repeated suggestions of another local musician/producer, Jordan Brooke Hamlin, who was on the same tour with me. She and I talked about Nashville quite a bit on the road, and I decided to check it out when we finished.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
My first record was Thriller on cassette. It was also the first thing I bought with my own money as a kid. My last record was Dylan LeBlancs’ newest album, Renegade, on vinyl from Grimey’s. He’s one of my favorite new Nashville discoveries.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
The first was the Grateful Dead at Shoreline Amphitheater. It was my first rock concert, my first concert without parents, and my first contact high (I think?) The last was Grant Lee Phillips at City Winery as part of his August residency. Josh Rouse, Wild Ponies, Kevin Gordon and I also played a few songs. It was a very uniquely Nashville experience for me to get be a performer and a fan in the same night, because I was such a genuine fan of all the musicians on the bill.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
I don’t feel like I’m the most qualified to answer this, since there are so many people more versed in the rich lineage of Nashville talent. But my personal votes from my own listening life would probably be Dave Cobb or Kacey Musgraves.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
For coffee, in my studio it’s the Philz coffee I smuggle back from CA and Crema. For pizza, its Five Points although my sample group is admittedly small.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
At the moment, it’s probably Hula Hi-Fi featuring producer/artist Josh Kaler and singer Danica Dora. It’s creative and edgy and cinematic but very listenable and true to the things Nashville loves in their records: organic, performance-based and strong writing.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
Sichuan Hot Pot & Asian Cuisine in Nolensville or Babo Korean Bar in East Nashville. Both offer a refreshing alternative to diner food. But if it’s really late, Dino’s is kinda the only game in town.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Off the top of my head I’d say Eric Holljes (of Delta Rae), Josh Benus (Glass Dove) and Ruthie Collins. They are all making songs that are super well-crafted while trying to push the edges creatively and lyrically
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
Bluebird is always fun and nice that it’s always full and you still sell CDs. But it’s a bummer you can’t actually get your own crowd in there. The Basement(s) are great, and those rooms feel really good. The 5 Spot is great and cheap, and you randomly see blinding-good musicians. The City Winery Lounge is actually one of the best sounding small rooms right now in my opinion.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.
Kanye West, Pharrell and Diplo would definitely help push us creatively.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
As an artist, I’ve just released a duo album with Jesse Terry called Kivalina. It’s a concept record inspired by stories of climate change. I’m also releasing a new solo album on Tone Tree Music in February 2020. I’m finishing work on my first work for musical theater with Nashville artist Amber Rubarth and Devon Copley called The Paper Raincoat. As producer, I’m heading into the studio to produce Delta Rae’s third and fourth albums this fall, as well as SF artist Megan Slankard’s newest album, and MA artist Seth Glier.