BASED out of Houston, Texas…
Alex Riddle is in a great place to get his terrific music heard and appreciated. He tells me about his upcoming E.P., Snow White, and which song from the collection stands out from the rest – he tells me about being compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and The National.
Riddle chooses some new artists to get excited about; which albums are important to him; if there are any gigs booked in the diary at the moment; whether we will see him in Britain anytime soon – he ends the interview by selecting an incredible Bob Dylan cover.
Hi, Alex. How are you? How has your week been?
Great, thank you.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer/songwriter from Texas. My music tends toward the eclectic but people regularly bring up names like Jeff Buckley and The National when they hear me. I am happy with those comparisons.
Snow White is your new E.P. What sort of themes inspired the songs on the E.P.?
Oh, you know, the classic ones: life and death; war and peace; crime and punishment.
Is there a song from Snow White you would select as a highlight?
Probably Snow White, the song. It has great performances from the band and a pretty catchy chorus to boot - which I hear the kids are into these days.
How do songs come together for you? Do you set time to write or do you wait for inspiration to hit?
Where do I get my ideas? There’s not one way they happen...
Sometimes a song will hit me all at once. Sometimes I’ll finish writing it months, even years, after the initial inspiration hit.
Which artists do you count as influences? Did you grow up around a lot of music?
My influences are all over the place: I don’t try to emulate anybody in particular. What I do, really, is whenever I hear something that really grabs me, I try to figure out what it is about that thing - whether it’s a chord change or a vocal riff - that has that effect on me. I guess you could say that’s my principle for taking in influences.
You are based out of Houston, Texas. What is the music scene like there at the moment?
Houston has tons of talent, but it’s spread over too great an area. The sprawl is aggressive and it affects the culture.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
With any luck, I’ll hit the road for a bit after I release the album that I’m currently working on.
Do you think you’ll come to the U.K. later this year?
I would love to come to the U.K. - have somebody from the U.K. gimme a call.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
A full-length album is in the works. I’m very excited about those tunes.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Playing House of Blues for a music festival in Houston was very fun. I’d been going to concerts there since I was a teenager. It was a trip playing the same stage where I’d seen people from B.B. King to St. Vincent.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang — Dislocation Blues
The Eastern Sea — Plague
Joanna Newsom — Ys
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Play out of town at regular intervals - not just every now and then.
IN THIS PHOTO: Buck Meek
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Check out Buck Meek’s new solo record (he’s the guitarist from Big Thief and a fellow Texan).
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I read Trump’s tweets. There’s just something very soothing about them.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
How about a tune from one of those albums above?
Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang - Changing of the Guard
This is actually a cover of a much-overlooked song from Bob Dylan’s 1978 album, Street Legal. Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang give Dylan’s rocker a subdued urgency which, to my mind, captures the true spirit of the song. Frankly; everyone should know about Changing of the Guard
Honorable mention: The Eastern Sea - Wasn’t for Love
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PHOTO CREDIT: MarsHall Forse Walker