Tell us about yourself.
I’m a drummer turned multi-instrumentalist who went to Berklee College of Music for a short time before moving to LA. I’ve traveled the world drumming for other artists and wanted to create a situation for myself where I could freely create and express myself.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I’m a very energetic person and carry a certain irreverence and rock n roll spirit with me. My music usually is some form of adrenaline and escape, longing and building towards that which I am currently without.
Tell us about the genre of your music.
The music fits somewhere in the Rock/Alt/Indie realm. Following up on my own energy and pace as a person, I craft songs to have a certain energy and rhythmic spark.
Tell us about the story behind your song.
Lyrically, I had been having this thought that “I need the pressure,” in terms of getting motivated when you’d rather daydream and play things out in your mind. For me, most daydreaming feels like longing, an imagination of how you’d rather reality be. I would notice when I was in that trance, I would run fingers across my lips without being conscious of it. I was very much longing for closeness at the time, and the song fell into place from there.
Tell us about the problems you are facing as a musician.
I keep a really close eye on how music tech is developing – Spotify, Soundcloud, intellectual property, and how creatives are compensated. There’s a lot of talk about how streaming is going to save the music industry, that Spotify is leading the way, but I think that’s massively amiss. The biggest problem I face is how to scale and transcend from obscurity to an artist career. Even with the internet and streaming, it’s not an equalizer or a level playing field.
Tell us about the recording and production of the song.
I was on the east coast, with a two-week break in my tour schedule. I had recorded my first EP in LA and thought it’d be great to record the second one in NYC, and then subsequent ones in different cities all over the world. Anyways, I was in Brooklyn at Virtue & Vice studio, and even as we were working on the song, it had this groove and this pulse to it that itself going round and round. We would lock into this sort of zone and focus, and I knew that this song would lead the way.
List the names of blogs, radio, or TV stations that have supported you so far.
Brooklyn, I’m Trying… blog
Tell us more about your music career, experience, and future goals.
I was a drummer by trade originally and expanded into an artist career as a way to create opportunities for myself. I didn’t want to feel limited by someone else’s schedule, ambition, or creativity (or lack thereof). I would fight to get auditions for situations that I didn’t feel excited about, yet go in there and hope that they loved me and picked me. That’s not to say every situation was bad, because I’ve also had truly wonderful experiences playing for artists, touring, and creating, but I was always fitting into someone else’s thing. Future goals are to find the most direct way to deliver and grow a fan base and make genuine connections through more live shows.
Brief us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.
There’s this thing that I believe is inside all of us – whether it’s a tempo, a pace, or a certain groove. It’s like the way you walk; everybody has a certain rhythm to their motions. I think mine just naturally echoes out and reverberates off my surroundings, thus creating a need for me to direct that groove and channel it into a conscious output. I love the scope of composing, how you can take a wide variety of instruments and textures and they can all play off each other. Singing is actually not something I physically come by naturally but spiritually felt like I was a songbird. I felt the need to outwardly project how I see the things that resonate with me, whether to offer support, encouragement, a different perspective, or a bending-of-the-will towards what reality is and what you’d rather it be.
Brief us the top-secret behind making a hit song.
That’s the 500 million streams question, isn’t it? I think what’s beautiful is that everyone can tell you the tangible things that most hit songs contain – they’re shorter, tend to have a simple form, have hooks, get to the chorus early and often – yet there’s still something elusive about when all those things come together into an undeniable hit versus when they don’t.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to an upcoming artist.
Don’t judge an idea before you’ve fully had a chance to explore it, turn it inside out, and outside in.
Discuss at length your music careers, albums, songs, tours, recognition, or awards you might have obtained.
Drummed for several different artists that took me around the world, performing at the Latin Grammys, on tours, on cruise ships, corporate gigs, and theater runs.
Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio.
I tend to only go into the studio after I’ve really workshopped the demo version of the song. I like to get in there and have a pretty clear idea of what we’re after and what needs to happen. But initially, creatively, I’ll have either a riff/chord progression or a few lines of what will become a verse or chorus. Whichever one I have first, I’ll record and loop and go in search of the missing half. From there, it’s a matter of massaging the initial idea into a complete statement. I try to get pretty far along in the process of single guitar or piano structure with the melody before I start to produce/arrange the rest of the track.
Name the artists you are willing to collaborate with.
This could be extensive! Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, Mutemath, Twentyone Pilots, Ryan Tedder, John Mayer, Dave Grohl, Calvin Harris, Pharrell, Drake, The Roots, Mark Ronson, Max Martin.
State the links to your social networks and stores for the purchase of your songs.
Tell us about your happiest day and saddest day.
The saddest day is when the lead singer of my high school rock band was run off the road by a drunk driver and killed. I think the happiest days are more plentiful, as there’s not one that solely takes the cake. There are truly wonderful moments to be had, and I have a pretty optimistic, positive outlook.
Tell us how you will spend a million dollars.
I’d hire a personal chef and invest the rest!
Tell us how you manage other activities with your music career.
I absolutely get tunnel vision when trying to write and produce a finished product. But I’m a fitness junky, love to be active, and love sports. If I make time in my day for anything, it’s a good workout and quality food!
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
Alex Stickels – felt pretty natural to go with my actual name. I spent a little time trying to decide if I was going to go under a pseudonym or a band name that wasn’t really a band, like Nine Inch Nails. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide on another name I liked enough and just ran with it.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
“I Need the Pressure” – Which in one meaning is the very physical sense of “I need to feel your skin and your lips pressed against mine,” while in another started as the idea that I need and enjoy being under pressure to deliver a result.