Originating from Berkeley, California, Alexis Harte is an American singer and songwriter who has musical roots into acoustic folk, British invasion Americana, and Afro-pop. He recently released a five-song EP, Briefcase, and it’s available to stream now. Read below about his EP and what he has planned for this year!
Hi Alexis! How are you doing today?
Great! And I really appreciate you interviewing me.
For our followers who may not know of you, what is one thing you would like them to know?
I actually think skunks smell quite good.
Who are your musical influences?
I listened to so much stuff growing up. My mom was a big fan of 70s folks and pop, so people like John Prine, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Carole King, were was often on the stereo, and that definitely crept in. But what probably had the biggest impact was British Invasion (the usual suspects: Beatles, Stones, Zep, Who, Kinks, etc.), Hendrix, then later West African pop (folks like Baaba Mal, Habib Koite, Oliver Mtukudze), and Brazilian Tropicalistas (Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Ze, and more), and fingerstyle guitar going back to Mississippi’s John Hurt , who was always high on my list. I got very into flamenco guitar for awhile as well.
At what age did you decide you wanted to become a musician?
I started playing music seriously when I was 14, but also pursued a lot of other things. I actually didn’t decide to become a professional musician until I was in my 30s. When my daughter was two, I quit my job and didn’t look back.
For another Bay Area native, what is your favorite place to visit in the region?
Tough question. We’ve got great, relatively wild, regional parks, so I’d start in Tilden!
You released your EP Briefcase just a few weeks ago. How has the reaction been to it so far?
It’s hard to tell at this point…My records seem to do the slow creep thing. That’s the beauty of Pandora and other sites. People eventually find it.
Your first track, The Night of My Death has a deep meaning about death and how we prioritize our lives. Is there a specific person or thing that influenced you to write this song?
It was actually inspired by what I describe in the first verse, though luckily I stepped out of the way at the last minute. ‘The Night of My Death’ freezes the moment of death for the length of a song, in order to explore the final steps we might take to give our lives closure. It’s also a musical nod to one of my favorite short stories “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce.
For mental health being a strong topic, was it hard to vocalize or create it into a song?
I guess I didn’t consciously set out to address mental health issues, but if songwriting is a means to honestly express the anxiety and exultation of being alive, then one’s mental health is kind of the frame for everything I suppose, so it’s bound to come through.
The last music you released was an album back in 2016. What made you decide to release an EP instead of another full-length album?
I think people have limited attention spans these days for a whole album. There is just too much music, podcasts, etc. That said, I hope I’ve covered an album’s worth of themes, tones, and moods in the space of five songs. I’ve never liked adding filler songs, but since this was an EP, I was very intent on making every song standout and clamor for the listener’s attention. Whether I achieved that or not, who knows! I just wanted it to be a very satisfying and a diverse ride for 16 minutes.
What can fans expect from you this year?
Mainly, I’ll be working on the score for a cool animated kids series starting in the Fall which is going to keep me busy. But as often as it happens, when I’m deep in a scoring job, I start to spin off song ideas for my own stuff. I like the idea of releasing fewer songs more often. I may even just release singles for awhile!