Interview – Alex Tedesco

Livonia’s Alex Tedesco is an experimental singer/songwriter, who creates abstract, almost psychedelic tunes with a hint of folk and a distinct pop sensibility. M3 spoke to Alex about his decision to give away his new album ‘Pretty Lies’ for free…

First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Alex Tedesco – I’m a preschool teacher and musician living in Detroit, MI. Music is my passion.

What inspired you to start making music? What is your own musical background?
I have had an interest in music for as long as I’ve been alive. I started taking piano lessons when I was probably 6 or 7, and switched to drums when I was 8. It seemed like a good idea at the time. When I was 12 my cousin passed away and it was at that point that music became an absolute need as opposed to an interest or hobby. It saved me then, and I’ve devoted my life to it ever since. I didn’t start recording my own stuff until I was 17. I recorded a large amount of material as The Toad Disco for a few years, but dropped that god-awful name in 2010 after deciding to try to do something of greater value.

What was the reasoning behind making your recent album ‘Pretty Lies’ available for free download?
Exposure. I’m relatively unknown, so who is going to pay for my music? It’s a gamble most people aren’t willing to take. The whole point for me is to get as many people to hear my music as possible. Money doesn’t enter into it for me. The reason music doesn’t have a high standing as an art these days is because it’s been treated as a product for most of the last century.

What benefits and/or disadvantages have arisen from this distribution method?
Well, I don’t have the backing of a record label, so I’m my own PR machine. You begin to feel like a soulless asshole, emailing blog after blog asking them to post your music. On the plus side, people have instant access to it without having to worry about the RIAA.

On average, how many people would you say still pay for a release when given the option to download for free?
Oh, I’m in no position to come up with that kind of statistic. Out of the people I hang out with? Close to zero. I only know the way I work. I download everything, and if there is an album that occupies a special place in my heart, I buy it on vinyl.

Would you say this method is a realistic possibility for the future of music distribution?
It’s hard to say. Unlimited access to free music leaves you with a lot of awful stuff to sort through. Certainly the music industry as it exists today seems doomed. Spotify is an interesting new approach, and maybe the industry can adapt, but if it can’t then it’s no great tragedy. People bitch and moan about “how are the artists supposed to support themselves?” Well, maybe if they were really in it for the art, they’d get a “real” job to support themselves. Maybe if less people were in it for the money, the artistic value of the music would increase.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Definitely MP3! It’s so convenient! I have a large vinyl collection but I can’t fit a record player into my pocket, sorry.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
No, not at all. The same types of people who have been interested only in singles throughout history are still only interested in singles today, and the album people are still interested in albums.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
I think maybe it has killed the Best Buy music sections and the Virgin Megastores, but the small mom-and-pop record stores are going to be ok. I don’t think vinyl fetishists are going away anytime soon, it’s just that nobody really cares about CDs anymore. That to me is just fine.

What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
You can’t censor the internet. I don’t believe anyone is ever going to get away with it in America either, because we are all already too spoiled by it. People would lose their shit.

Finally, what does the future have in store for Alex Tedesco?
I’m currently working on an album inspired by Charles Atlas and the Grant Morrison character Flex Mentallo. If my math is correct then I am about 22% finished with it. Hopefully that will be out sometime next year. In the meantime I’m playing local shows with my good friend Sean Ronan (aka The Invincible Robot Brigade) as AS-90.

Alex Tedesco’s new album ‘Pretty Lies’ is available for free download now through his Bandcamp page. For more information, you can follow Alex Tedesco on Facebook.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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