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On the Pickleball Court with Shakey Graves

(Photo Credit: Alden Bonecutte)

1. How does the process of making this album for (i.e. a soundtrack to a film) differ from your previous work?

Alejandro - "Well one of the biggest differences is that I went to make a body of music. I wasn't considering it to be an album. In previous years I slowly work on songs and amass an album. This started as a COVID project that me and my friends were trapped. I got so excited about writing for something visual in a very direct way. The process to scoring a scene that's five to eight minutes long is very different than a three minute song. I parted ways with my longtime collaborator Chris Boosahda, we had a separation right around COVID. So I got this big band together and they were really light hearted in the process. The song "Heart Stopper" is one of the one's that is most directly from the film it was originally intended for. Most of the time we made music and later I would piece together and find out what it meant.

"The sessions would be ten hours long and we caught everything. At the end of the day I would listen to everything and then I would find something cool. "Playing Along" was a song that no one remembers playing, that I just sort of found. It's a fabulous way to do it, but you have to have a lot of people that you trust. As much as I work with other musicians, I feel like I don't pay attention to people's processes in how they record. I would just let people go and just assemble it later."

2. You have a very different style of engaging with your fans including scavenger hunts around Austin, Shakey Graves Day, etc. Where do these unique ideas come from and how does it impact your relationship with you ever-growing fan-base?

Alejandro - "It's kind of a classic kindergarten 'treat people the way you would want to be treated'. I also enjoy musicians that are very aloof. I think it's a choice to be acceptable and to share yourself with the public. No matter how mysterious I might seem sometimes, I'm sort of a hardcore goofball. I was raised as an artist by other artists, dance company people, theater people. One big tenant of performance art is that you engage your audience. If unobserved I would still make music. I have been inspired by Andrew W.K. because I literally could not find out what is going on. There's an 80 page book that was leaked by his roommate from 1999 that is a pure manifesto of him building Andrew W.K. Part of me is like this is a fake piece of art, but even if he did fake it, he stole my heart and imagination when I paid attention to him. If eyes are on me, I want to make sure we're having fun."

3. You're getting ready to hit the road with some great supporting acts including Rayland Baxter, flipturn, and Sadurn. What are you most looking forward to with this tour?

Alejandro - "These are really cool bands that I'm playing with on this tour. I'm really excited to play this new music once people have heard it. Me and Rayland are great friends so that will be a sort of co-headlining effort. It's just going to be a great rest of the year."

4. Movie of the Week features a fantastic duet with Sierra Ferrell and yourself. You've had previous success with duets including your work with Esmé Patterson a couple of albums ago. How do you create such powerful duets and how do you find the pairings that you have?

Alejandro - "It's not intentional, let's put it that way. The Esmé Patterson stuff was all organic. At that point it was a band, she helped write a lot of those songs. "Ready or Not" came from a time that I was listening to the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton duet "Islands in the Stream" written by Barry Gibb, and I was like "God damn!". So I said 'We should do a duet like "Islands in the Stream"', then someone on the band recommended Sierra. But I didn't think it could happen because she's busy all the time. But then out of the blue she hit me up that she was coming to Austin for 24 hours. So I was like "Do it!" I picked her up and we did it in less than a day".

5. I saw you live several years ago in Austin and your high school math teacher was in the front row. How does it feel to be living this life and how does it feel to know that you are embraced?

Alejandro - "Well I can guarantee you it was not my high school math teacher, though it might have been my English Teacher. I have mixed feelings about Austin being such a destination because it enables me to live very large on my home turf. But on the other side I live on a large pickleball court. It's a good time, but it's sometimes too overwhelming. That's a problem that I have of my own. Me and the spirit of the city share a lot of ideals for better or worse. There's a very long lineage of great musicians and pretty cool people from this town. The big one being Willie Nelson but you can throw a rock and hit a legendary musician out here on the pickleball court."

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