It happens to the best of us. We embark a personal journey with the most genuine and virtuous intentions, and then somewhere along the road, we divert into something completely different–something negative and perhaps shameful. Alejandro's "Lost" is a powerfully honest testament to that reality, and Ones To Watch has your music video premiere along with a deeply insightful Q&A with Alejandro today.
In the "Lost" video, a lush and beautiful nature setting is juxtaposed with the ugly truth of Alejandro's self-identity struggle. As he comes to terms with his personal choices ("If I wanted out, I would've never stayed."), grim guitar riffs and bass-infused percussion pull us deeper and deeper into his conflicted psyche. He expanded,
“'Lost' is about growing into or becoming something you fear or hate. Now you’ve come to realize that it’s almost impossible to change because that fear/hate is all you really know."
Today is a glorious day for Alejandro fans because the "Lost" music video also comes with the release of his debut EP, Alejandro. The producer who confessed that "doubt is one of [his] demons" as he lent a hand in creating Rihanna and Sia hits has officially come into his own as a solo artist, and we must say, he wears it well. Learn more about Alejandro below, and pick up his EP here.
started producing in 2013, and you've already accomplished so much. Can you tell
us a little about how your career
I was in middle school when I discovered music as my channel to the source. I always operated at my best anytime I played an instrument, wrote a lyric or simply hummed a melody, but I felt like I was missing one small piece to the puzzle. I played in a few bands in high school and fell in love with programming beats after I bought my first shitty recorder, but the reality was I knew I couldn’t do this forever. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. I eventually surrendered to the little doubt that enjoyed following me around. So I went to college after high school. I dropped out after sitting in class one day just thinking, "What the fuck am I doing here?” I am not doing what I was put here to do. So I moved to Los Angeles and applied to the one and only Westlake Recording Studios. I was lucky enough to get a job there and worked my way up.
Next thing you know, you have this young Mexican-American from the city of Fillmore working along side with all the biggest artists, producers and writers in the game. I began to notice I was better than I thought, and all my weaknesses were just getting stronger. I was hired at Westlake to be trained as an engineer, but while there, I found out producing was the strongest tool in my toolbox. I knew in that moment that I would eventually be making big records.
OTW: Before going solo, you produced for Rihanna, Sia, and Ne-Yo, just to name a few. When and why did you decide you wanted to break out and do your own thing?
It was about the end of last year when I decided I was going to finally listen to my heart and pursue my own solo career. The middle of last year was when I started to notice people needed me more than I needed them, but I felt like I was still getting taken advantage of. I didn't feel respected anymore. So I would start fantasizing about going solo, playing sold out shows, meeting with fans etc., but regardless of how good I knew I was, doubt would come back around and try to scare me. You see, doubt is one of my demons. It’s a virus, a cancer. Remember the movie “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe? *Spoiler Alert* There is a scene when he realizes his friend and the little girl are imaginary because he is schizophrenic. Well, the imaginary people never disappeared after he confronts them; he just learns to shut them out and ignore them. That is what doubt is kind of like for me. It never goes anywhere, it tries its best to lure me back into the dark, and over time that demon never submits or loses its power; I just get stronger. Because of that doubt, it took time to realize I had the “secret” all along. I was waiting to tag along on someone else’s success but I had what I was looking for; I just didn’t believe it. I felt like I wasn’t good enough again, like I would come up short if I tried to go for the gold. I didn’t want to fail. Michelangelo Buonarroti said, “The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” I read this and thought, “Its my damn responsibility to be the best I can possibly be and perform to the greatest potential which was gifted to me!” This realization is what pushed me to go solo whether people liked it or not. It's my fuckin' duty.
OTW: What sets your solo music apart from the work you've previously done for other artists?
It’s 100% true. It’s organic. I am not trying to please everyone in the group, or worried if an artist’s manager is going to like it or not–I am just letting go and allowing my higher self to say, sing, play what it wants because it’s right and because it needs to be done. Not that I didn’t have fun working with other artists. Creating is always such a beautiful experience whether I do it alone or with a team, but for once there wasn’t anything stopping me. I didn’t feel like there was a list of “rules” behind me while writing or producing a song.
OTW: Who are your biggest musical influences?
I think my biggest musical influence is Portishead. The sad thing is by the time my friend introduced me to them, they had already released all their albums. But there is no other music out there that gives me that dark/sad emotion through Beth’s melodies stacked on top of the dirtiest, hip-hop grooves and breakbeats. Love that shit.
The combination of MF Doom and Madlib is a very big one for me. That Madvillainy album changed my life. It’s hard to explain what it did to me, it just kind of turned on a "light."
Kanye West is probably my biggest artist influence. He is one of the very few artists that consistently pushes the creative envelope. Just when you think you have figured him out, he pulls the rug from under you. He's not afraid to take risks, and that really motivates me to dig deep, so deep where things start to get uncomfortable.
OTW: If your sound was a color, what would it be?
I don’t really see sound in colors; I see it more in shapes. But if I had to pick a color, my sound now is an aqua blue color which fades into a purplish red, kind of like the cover art of my single “Arrows.” It represents this calming wave which has some evil/darkness to it. Not that I am an evil person, but I believe we all have a little evil within us.
OTW: Who are 3 artists on your Ones To Watch List & why?
I try not to listen to too much music. I'm already kind of overwhelmed with what I hear in my head. I am also easily influenced, so I don’t like the thought of me possibly copying something from another artist without knowing it. So it’s rare for me to come across new artists–by the time I come across them, they aren’t really new anymore. With that said, here is my list (in no specific order):
Bibi Bourelly is one for sure. I don’t know if she has an album out or not but I came across her singles “Riot” and “Ego.” I knew about her writing for Rihanna, but when I heard her two singles, I was very impressed and inspired. I can feel how she allows herself to get possessed by the art. I can’t imagine what we would write together.
Ian KAMAU is another. I came across his song “PohLease” and was blown away. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. I haven’t listened to any of his other stuff yet because when I come across a song that speaks to me, I will literally listen to that one song for a few days, sometimes a few weeks.
My third would have to be Rook Monroe, dude that wrote "Desperado" for Rihanna. We were both working at the same studio recently, but he was in the room next to me. I got to meet him, and he just "had it," you know? I felt like he knew something no one else did. I haven't heard any of his other music, and I don't know if he has any solo records out yet, but after meeting him and hearing his "Desperado" demo, it was enough to make me a believer.
OTW: You've released 5 impressive singles since launching your solo career in May. What's next for you?
More music of course, but my music is just the beginning. I want to help change the world. I want to help inspire the next generation. I am ready to re-educate not only our youth, but the people who have been misled. I want to give hope to the weak and remind them to never ever give up. Like I said before, it is my responsibility to create which will hopefully inspire others to be their best. We need to work as a unity to overcome things that are much bigger than us, and I want to remind everyone that we all have the “secret” within us. There is a Greek Proverb that says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” I’m not an old man but I am here to plant as many trees as I can, even if I don’t get to enjoy their shade.