Artist of the Month > 2008 Artists
NAME: Alex Moulton
LOCATION: New York, NY
MAIN GENRE: Electronic
TRAINING: B.S. in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University
LATEST WORKS: “Exodus”
Please describe your artistic themes
My new project “Exodus” is meant to capture that visceral experience of a classic concept album from the ‘70s, re-imagined for today’s audiences. I was inspired to create an album and artwork that borrows from the sounds and aesthetic of the late ‘70s, because I think it was a unique time in music history. It was a time when analog synthesizers were heralded as the future of music, but were still combined with other organic instruments and live drums, before drum machines and sampling. For me, Exodus is a mix of musical naiveté on the one hand, creating space-age music for a fantastical future (or past), and heady psychedelia on the other hand, attempting to open your mind to a new world. It’s as much for your mind as your feet. Music is often very visual to me, so the storyline that accompanies Exodus was tantamount to the music itself. We’re currently finishing up the sci-fi novella that reveals the story of Exodus, and we’ll be releasing it in a serialized form over the coming months through a brilliant organization called CASH Music, or the Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders. I’ll be inviting fans to contribute to the story with artwork inspired by the music and the characters, and my hope is that enough people enjoy it that we can turn it into a graphic novel or a film.
Please describe your creative process
When writing music, I usually begin with a melody, and then decide what emotion it makes me feel. If I need to accomplish a specific emotion, I experiment a lot until I can channel the right mood. That emotion will usually create a scene and characters in my mind, which I use to inform the music choices. At some point I step away from the music and imagine the scene in my head, asking myself questions like, “How does the character need to evolve from the beginning to the end?”, “Where are we in the character’s arc or evolution?” and “What do I want the listener to feel?” It’s very similar to scoring for picture, except the picture is in my head. Then I’ll structure the track around those ideas. Along the way I try many different approaches and hope for mistakes that lead me in new directions. The little mistakes are always what bring new ideas and personality to a song. When I feel like the melody and the tension and release are feeling right, I dive into the details and get the sounds the way I imagine them. Sometimes that part of the process is about making sure that my track will fit into current trends, but just as often I want to avoid all the trends and make something very personal. Usually I work alone, but a whole other kind of magic always happens when I hand over the song to another musician and ask them to collaborate. I know I’m done when I can listen all the way through without stopping to change anything. With ‘Exodus,’ I went through this process on a larger scale because I knew what the overall arc of the storyline was, but like writing a book, I didn’t know how the characters would evolve on their journey. So I sketched out a lot of ideas and forced myself to make choices about how the parts of the puzzle would best fit together. I thought it would be easier than it was, and it took me about 4 years, but the end result was one of the most creatively rewarding experiences I’ve had.
What are your artistic goals?
I’ve always tried my best to keep one foot planted in the visual world, whether film, TV or advertising, and one foot in the music world, as a composer, DJ, music supervisor or producer. Each project that I do now tries to bring those complimentary but disparate sides of my life closer together. I’m not sure what the eventual goal is. I’d love to direct a movie and write the score, but that may be a long time coming. My current goal is to collaborate with as many of my heroes as possible, and in many ways I feel I’m already doing that with company Expansion Team.
What are your views on the industry?
Right now we’re seeing the beginning of a huge explosion in artistry, largely because of the democratization of the tools it takes to make music and films. But you knew that already. As an artist, I’m so enthusiastic about the changes I’ve seen over the past decade since the proliferation of the internet around the world. It’s an understated social revolution, bringing cultures together and leaving less room for bigotry and racism, and isn’t that what music is all about in the first place? As a businessman, it’s a constant challenge to find new ways to make a living being creative without sacrificing your integrity, and I have many days when it feels overwhelming. But it hasn’t stopped me yet. I guess this isn’t a new challenge for artists, just a new landscape.
What advice could you give to emerging artists?
Be patient. This is the hardest part for me personally. I was DJing for 14 years before my first album was released. But waiting until the right moment helped me do it the way I imagined it, and I own the record label. My other advice would be to stay true to yourself, even if it means giving up possible “success.” I’ve had offers that I thought would make me famous, but I’m happy I made the choices I did because I was able keep my artistic integrity and build something much larger than what I could see in the moment of that decision.
Thank you for having me. I’m honored.
WEBSITE: Alex Moulton Creative