Alex Moye released his latest single “I Wanna Dance” earlier this month, and continued to establish his name as an artist and producer to watch. But his talent isn’t the only reason to keep an eye on him – he has a great story and a different perspective on music.
I recently sat down with Alex to find out what inspired him to pursue music, what his take is on the electronic genre (which is about much more than pushing buttons), and how he sees his career in the big picture of his life. He’s not like your traditional EDM artist, or like your usual artist overall, and audiences can learn something from him in addition to how much they’ll love his sound.
Brittany Frederick: What originally interested you in music and what motivated you to pursue it professionally?
Alex Moye: I’ve always been into music, I’d say, more than your average Joe. Everybody’s into music to some degree. Everybody listens to music. But my dad played in a bunch of bands; my older half brother started taking guitar very seriously when he was 13. He still plays. He’s an audio engineer now at House of Blues, but every day of his life has been surrounded by music and musical influences as far as playing in bands and writing songs. So I just grew up with it. I played in a handful of bands in high school and in early college, but I never really took the production side of things that seriously. I always relied on my brother for that until I got a little bit older.
It started as a bucket list [ambition]. It was something I wanted to do for 2016 – I wanted to write one song. I wanted to produce one song. But it got pushed back to 2017, and then 2018, and then by the end of 2018 I said “Alright, I’m finally going to do this.”
[Avicii] had that documentary come out, Avicii: True Stories, and when I watched it, I was just so blown away by his story. I was like, I can’t push this off anymore. I have to get back into this. I really connected with him, honestly. We’re the exact same age, pretty much. I think I’m a month older than him. He just seems like somebody I would hang out with, and the style of music is something that I used to work on. I was just so moved by his story, and I was just really touched by his ear for melody.
So I called up my brother. He told me he had the Ableton [software] and I knew he would have an additional license. I downloaded it, and literally that day I went home after work and I just sat on my computer and started studying…I was like, I’m going to learn as much as I can. Eventually it’s going to get good enough, and I’ll be able to start putting songs out. Like I said, the goal was just to do one song. But by the time I dove into it and learned as much as I needed to learn to make that one song, I was like well, I already have all this knowledge now. I might as well make another song, and another song. And it hasn’t stopped since.
BF: It’s been a few years since then, so how are you balancing continuing to develop your career with your day job? Because that’s not something many artists talk about or many fans think about.
AM: I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, for sure. Civil engineering is my day job; I typically work like 40 [to] 50 hours a week. But I’ll come home, and I just don’t enjoy doing trivial stuff…I want to continue to build upon something. I have all this free time to do something that I can invest in. What is it going to be? Well, I’ve been doing this music now, so let’s make that the thing.
It’s been about two years now, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I’ve been getting some pretty good responses on my music, too. So I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out over the next couple of months and years with my new tracks.
BF: I want to talk with you about your idea of electronic music is as a genre, because people who don’t listen to EDM may not understand that it’s not just people pushing buttons. There’s a lot more that goes into it.
AM: There’s definitely been a lot of focus on production and all the time spent in the studio. It’s pretty apparent that people get the terms DJ and producer mixed up, and they connect the two together. I have friends that call me a DJ all the time. I wouldn’t call myself a DJ by any means. I’m a producer. I make music.
There’s production in the music and then there’s DJing, where there’s a completely different art form to actually properly mixing two or more songs together at once.
As far as EDM, the genre as a whole, people take away credit from producers by saying like, “Oh, they’re not artists, they’re not musicians. They just push a bunch of buttons on the keyboard.” But you have to know what buttons you’re pushing. You still need to know music theory. You still need to know what keys you’re working in, if you’re going to change scales, arpeggios, layering, and arrangements and everything that works from the bass, to the keys, to the synthesizers, to the leads, to the drums. What kind of drums? What kind of vocals will work with this? It’s still music production just like it’s always been, it’s just a different genre of music.
In electronic music, you really deal with a lot more sound design. So ADSR, attack, decay, sustain, and release, and just dealing with the specific wavelengths, and just shaping all your sounds to make it sound exactly the way you want it to sound. There are a lot more technical aspects than people who are unaware of don’t give these producers credit for it. So that’s something I’ve definitely grown to appreciate over the past couple of years, especially diving into myself and really seeing what all goes into it.
BF: Let’s talk about your current single “I Wanna Dance.” That came together pretty organically, didn’t it?
AM: The main reason I got into this genre was to make that dance floor kind of music, and I feel I’ve come out with a couple of songs that are kind of poppy, kind of radio friendly, not really club-oriented. So I actually have this subscription through Splice; it’s just a bunch of samples and stuff. I was going through a bunch of different sounds, and I heard the guitar in there, and I listened to it, and immediately, “I Wanna Dance” came to me.
I didn’t have to think twice about it. I heard the loop, and the first thing that came to my mind was, “I wanna dance. Da da da da da da da,” and the entire melody. I’d have to sort out the lyrics later, but the main focal point of the lyrics and the melody came to me immediately. I didn’t even want to think anything more of it. I said to myself, “Alright, I’m just going to take it and run with it and just see what happens.” And within a few hours I had a pretty solid demo for it.
Then over the next couple of days, I just kept coming back and listening to it…Within two or three weeks, I had it completely done, and I was really, really happy with the way it came out. I made sure to emphasize the low end, because I know that’s what everybody is all about when it comes to the dance floor. So I had a good low end in there with this specific plugin I was using. And it just came out to be a really great track.
BF: Musicians I’ve spoken to have had different reactions to how current events have affected their careers. On one hand it’s now impossible to tour but on the other I’ve had people say it’s easier to create and release music. What’s your approach to this new normal?
AM: I told myself, “I’m going to make the most of this and just make as many songs as I possibly can.” That’s really what my intentions were anyway. I signed on with a management team, which has been a great help with taking off some of the busywork for me so I can focus on the music. A lot of what they do is focus on coordinating with venues and booking gigs and things, but obviously that’s not a possibility right now because of coronavirus, so we’ve just had to switch gears a little bit and figure out how we’re going to keep things moving forward.
BF: Have you discovered anything new just as a fan? Or what’s the music that interests or inspires you?
AM: I listen to so much different stuff, honestly. So outside of electronic, I listen to a lot of hip hop. J. Cole is somebody I would love to work with one day. I have a very eclectic collection of music on my playlist. I’ll still rock out to Coheed and Cambria, which I used to listen to a lot when I was in high school during my alternative rockin’ days. If I leave it on shuffle, I’ll head bang to some Slipknot, and then the very next track will be Hootie & The Blowfish. I love it all.
BF: Is there anything you want people to know about Alex Moye as we get to hear more of your music?
AM: Like I said, I’m a civil engineer. That’s my daytime job. That’s what I do. That’s what pays the bills. I feel like there so many people in my position who are the exact same. They’re a civil engineer, or they’re a doctor, or they work at a grocery store, normal daytime jobs. But I feel so many people aspire to do something else, and they just don’t do it. For me, I decided to just commit to one thing, and constantly get better at that, and constantly improve at that, and grow and build upon that. And it’s just inevitable that if you do that, regardless of what it is, as long as you set out to do something and grow something, it’s eventually going to get bigger if that’s what you want to do. For me, I just decided for it to be music.
If you want to write books, if you want to be a painter, if you want to do whatever it is, there’s no reason that you can’t do it. It’s just so much easier to dream about it than to actually do it. For so many years, I was no different, but I just caught the bug.
My point is I’m still a normal guy doing a very normal job. So it’s taken a lot of commitment; I really don’t have the social life I used to have, but it’s okay with me. I’m totally fine with it. That’s the sacrifice I make to be able to do this project, and it’s been so worth it. And I feel if more people knew that, it would inspire them to go after what it is that they want…I don’t think you hear too many stories where people are saying, “I had a desk job. I wasn’t satisfied with it. I decided to do more.” And for me, that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’d be the happiest guy if I could make music for a living, but for now, civil engineering and making music is what my life has been all about, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, too.