Alfie Lucero Canaan - 10 Questions Music Interview
Alfie was born in Tijuana, Mexico and is currently living in Los Angeles. He is available for touring, performing, recording, and writing sessions. He received his B.M. in performance from Musicians Institute, and his M.M. in Commercial Music from CSU Los Angeles. He has extensive experience working with several music ensembles of varying sizes and styles, including big band, jazz combos, blues/rock trios, Afro-Cuban big bands, wind orchestras, etc. He is proficient in sight-reading, transcribing, and arranging, as well as comfortable in performing numerous contemporary styles, from jazz, funk, R&B, blues, and rock. Includes experience in the studio, as both a performer and an audio engineer (assisting or leading roles). Current projects include alternative rock/pop band Coat Check Girl, cinematic-pop band All Follows Eve, rock group Scenic Underground, Soul/Pop/Hip Hop artist Kia, and more.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it. When I discovered Jimi Hendrix was the first time I wanted to play music. I started on guitar for a while but my discipline was basically non-existent. Later in my life, I switched to electric bass. However, my love for Hendrix's music prevailed. That first-moment opening riff from "Purple Haze" was definitely a life-changing moment for me. Prior to that, I was casually listening to what was popular for boys my age; i.e. Linkin Park, Korn, etc. However, Jimi's face-melting and untamed guitar playing was a huge shock to the system. Just thinking the idea of music feeling so organic and expressive genuinely inspired me to pursue music as a way to self-expressive, create my own sense of identity, and maintain a free state.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career? There are so many crazy moments that it's hard to decide. But the craziest and most recent moment was opening for Oingo Boingo at the Rose in Pasadena. The whole situation was extremely stressful and elaborate. All Follows Eve has quite a complex set up of in-ear monitors, backing tracks, and live instruments. Setting up the whole rig and sound checking everything can be complicated, to say the least, and the first time doing on a large stage like The Rose's presented a unique challenge. Add on top of that, the pressure from the audio engineer, guests, attire, tuning and warming up, etc. All of it made the whole night quite a new experience of having control over many if not all of the aspects of performance. The show was a success and incredibly fun, and of course, Oingo Boingo killed it.
What has been the high point of your music path? The high point of my musical path definitely was working with producer Simon Jay for a tribute to legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Fellow musicians and former classmates from California State University, Los Angeles formed a dueling-pianos band for "An Evening with Stephen Schwartz" at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The band consisted of Carly Lyman and Natsumi Ono on pianos, Fernando Marenco on drums, and myself of the electric bass. I prepared and arranged several of Stephen Schwartz's songs to fit our line up. The process of arranging, charting, rehearsing, and coordinating the whole performance was incredibly stressful but satisfying. The night was a success, performing to a sold-out event and to Wallis Annenberg herself was a complete delight. The musical high from that amazing performance a singular incomparable moment in my career. We played sambas, jazz, pop, and funk all to Stephen's music, and we received nothing but compliments and positive feedback. In addition, Simon himself was very proud and happy with the whole ordeal.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like? My creative process is a bit unorthodox. I excel in attention to detail, technical methods, and pragmatic approaches. I can work by myself or with others just fine. However, working with other people allows more ideas to bounce around and share. For the main bands, I'm parts of, like Coat Check Girl or Scenic Underground, we prefer to collectively write and produce our own content. However, it all starts with one of the members approaching the project with an idea (i.e. chord progression, melody, etc) and from there, we as a band contribute to creating a final product. Each band is different, of course, and some can be incredibly detailed and the other one more relaxed and focusing on a theme or mood.
When it comes to working by myself, the method changes quite drastically. I enter this grind mode where I hyper-focus on the task at hand and don't stop until I completed what I wanted to do. I use my thorough knowledge of music theory and harmony and still try to gravitate to creating fresh musical surprises. That can materialize in multiple ways like a simple chord change or a new harmony, or just a new texture.
For inspiration, I listen to a lot of music however for creative control I just write or arrange something I would enjoy listening and playing. I do my best to capture that feeling that I'm trying to convey or the message I want to relay.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The most challenging aspect, at least for me, is creating and maintaining contacts and a steady flow of content. The music business can be very volatile and unpredictable, so depending on a single gig or shtick is never a good idea. Hence, the reasons I touch on arranging, composing, and other disciplines as part of my identity because it provides new sets of skills to learn and apply. In others, being comfortable with diversifying and trying to evolve one's image and sound is crucial while maintaining authenticity and commercial access. In addition, being a person with a professional demeanor in an industry full of clueless and/or overly dubious personalities in this industry is an essential requirement. Proper social and business skills are one of the hardest things to develop as a musician today. Mainly because it’s an ongoing learning experience; you can’t just understand it over a day, rather it takes time to know what to do in situations, good or bad.
The only thing I would ask to change within the music industry would be just cut out the shady business stuff. There's a lot of "producers" out there that don't know anything and I just hate that. Not my thing.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would love to share the stage with Twenty One Pilots or The Foo fighters. Both bands are amazing and it would be an honor to rock out with either of them. I think it would be amazing to collaborate with Tyler and Josh; I believe they are amazing musicians and performers. On a side note, sharing the stage with Finneas would be cool too.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsals are usually very relaxed but thorough. We focus on what needs to be worked on or we run the set multiple times to tighten things up. For instance, for All Follows Eve, we run the set in its entirety then focus on individual songs, and if we have to we breakdown sections that need the most attention. Scenic Underground, on the other hand, we just run the same song until it feels good; usually 2-4 times per song. Kia's rehearsal is even more relaxed, we run the set and have fun. I know her music very well so it's just a refresher.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
What's coming up in the future? The greatest challenge was this unreleased song from Scenic Underground, "Place Nobody Sees." It will be released as part of the upcoming full-length album. The song was a personal challenge for us to explore more experimental and unorthodox approaches to writing music. We played with the chords, the form, the parts, the harmonies, changes in textures, lyrics, etc. We had the sole goal of being as weird and unusual as possible to create this incredibly unique and sophisticated pop/rock song. Easily one of my proudest collaborations and songs. The song is complex but edgy very catchy. And it features the best ending to any song ever.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Coat Check Girl Videos
Coat Check Girl Website. Scenic Underground
Listen on Spotify
Scenic Underground Videos
All Follows Eve Videos
All Follow Eve Website
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