AA Wallace is fresh off the heels of his latest – and most exciting – release, In Alpha Zones. Here he chats with Raz Mataz Magazine about writing and recording that album, why he wanted to collaborate on it, and… Dr. Who?
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): How did the album come together? Did you hit any roadblocks?
AA Wallace (AW): I’m always writing and recording so it was just a matter of having a sufficient amount of not-awful material mixed with an arbitrary deadline. I should probably have a more cohesive idea as far as an album but, really, I guess they’re more like compilations for me. I’ve been living in Toronto for a while now and at first I found it hard to write here but I’ve got a new studio space where I can have all my gear set up and not worry about noise levels so that’s been kool.
RMM: I read that much of the record is a sort of reflection on your life – from working in an office (“Success”) to touring experiences (“We Just Stopped”). What made you want to reflect in this way?
AW: That’s what humans do. It’s hard to write fiction or about the future. I like it when music is easy. One of the easiest things to do is dwell on the past. That’s not to say I only write in a reflective way, but I don’t want to do anything that’s forced. Lately, I’ve been spending my time re-watching Stargate and reading fashion magazines. I’ve noticed these things sneaking into songs.
RMM: You incorporate so many different flavours on this album. Where did you draw those influences?
AW: I’ve always been interested in new sounds and songwriting ideas and making them work in classically structured pop songs. I try to take note of anything I hear or think of that may work in the context of the music I make. Then if I ever get stuck I just refer to that list of ideas and try things until something works out. “Success,” for example, is musically based on the 6/8 structures from Julio Bashmore and Disclosure songs, though it sounds nothing like them.
RMM: You also brought on a lot of guest artists. Why did you want to collaborate with these people, and what was that experience like? How did that collaboration impact the final record?
AW: Bringing people in is mostly a matter of overcoming my own limitations. I like to work with people that have distinctive styles. Everything that made it onto In Alpha Zones that I didn’t play did so because it’s nothing like I could, or would, do. It’s also nice to get feedback from your peers on things you’re working on. It’s easy to lose perspective when you’ve been listening to the same four minutes of music for a year.
RMM: Producing your own album is no easy feat! How did you find that challenge? Did it ever frustrate you or do you prefer that process?
AW: In the way that I work, the production is really part of the writing so it’s not particularly a challenge. I’ve always kind of worked that way. I’ve never found it frustrating. It can, however, be easy to lose a whole day working on what amounts to seconds worth of sound, only to walk away and find that it was a huge waste of time when you return to it. It would be interesting to be produced by someone else.
RMM: What’s next for AA Wallace?
AW: There are more videos for songs from the album coming out soon, as well as touring and all of the things that go into promoting a record. The recording of the next record has already started and there are a few side project recordings I’ve been working on too.
RMM: Any other comments?
AW: I’m pretty psyched on the almost-confirmation that gravity waves have been observed.
A year is too long to wait for more episodes of Dr. Who, even though i’m not super feeling Peter Capaldi.
Coloured vinyl, for the most part, sounds like shit and has been recycled so many times it’s terrible. Stop paying premiums for it.
If you’ve lived in Canada for your entire life and measure distance in miles only in song you should probably fuck off.
For more on AA Wallace, visit www.aawallace.xxx.