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Emby Alexander Lives In Phoenix,

Conquers Wellington

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Leader And Namesake Of The Band Emby Alexander, Michael B. Alexander Relates How A Native Son Of Phoenix Sees Music As A Visual Medium That Helped Him Conquer A New Zealand Radio Station


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Aug. 13, 2013 — Emby Alexander has been playing music in Phoenix for just more than a year, and have already seen their song “Drag the Long Way Home,” become a No. 1 hit ... in Wellington, New Zealand on radio station Radioactive FM 88.6. It might not be the Billboard Top 100, but its much more than a lot of band’s achieve. The group, who recently signed with the U.K.-based Bigo & Twigetti label, has a constantly evolving sound that is gaining them a well deserved Valley fanbase — as well as a large contingent of Kiwi fans. Frontman Michael B. Alexander sat down with me for a cup of coffee at Jobot on Aug. 6.

Modern Times Magazine: What’s it like having a No. 1 single in New Zealand?
Emby Alexander: It’s really cool, It’s kind of surreal. I’ve been researching on Wikipedia and stuff about New Zealand because I didn't know anything about New Zealand and I felt like I needed to be educated about New Zealand. Somebody’s playing your music and you don't know anything about them seems kind of, I don't know like I'm not upholding my end of the bargain.

MTM: Is the single bumping up any tour plans in New Zealand?
EA: I think New Zealand, that’s some time off. We’re still looking for Europe within this next year but New Zealand is kind of, you know, it literally is an island. It’s metaphorically an island. It’s hard to justify a plane trip. That’s a lot of money that we don’t have.

MTM: Are you receiving much contact from your Kiwi fans?
EA: I think we’ve definitely seen a spike in the fans being from New Zealand, and that area. So they're definitely paying attention which is pretty cool.

MTM:Well assuming your fans in New Zealand are reading this, what would you like to say to them?
EA: Hello, thanks for listening. I don’t know, its something that you’re shocked by but at the same time it’s what you set out to do. Is make something that somebody else likes. You know the internet’s not new anymore so you have the idea that it could be, this is the purpose of having the music that it can reach an audience with such ease. So when it actually happens you shouldn't really be that surprised but someplace like new zealand when we haven't put focus there you know we focus on the coasts here Westcoast Eastcoast and big cities like Paris and London. But then something like New Zealand not for any purpose but have neglected. They're the ones who are attached to it is really cool. When you just throw it out there and then they are the ones that picked it up I mean its definitely not just totally random like that, the label in london is definitely pushing us all around, but they're the people who picked it up.

Emby Alexander - Drag The Long Way Home
MTM: Is “Drag The Long Way Home” the song you would have expected to be a No. 1 single?
EA: Yeah, It’s the most unique while still being accessible. It’s not so unique that it takes two listens to get it, you get it right away but it stands out so kind of the perfect formula I think. Of stands out but you know its a decent song right from the first time.

MTM: Has the No. 1 single affected the band in any negative ways? You guys fighting, is there a Yoko Ono yet?
EA: No, no negative impact at all definitely not. I think something we are all passionate about is doing music. But you get complacent and you slow down when you're just grinding and you need these little reminders to keep the morale high. So I think we are all being really creative after something like this happened. Like “oh well that worked,” so lets keep trying. We didn’t make a song for New Zealand we just did our thing and they liked it and that’s really inspiring so then the next time just keep doing your thing because somebody's going to like it, its definitely inspirational.

MTM:You guys are really into music videos, right? Tell me more about that.
I’ve done maybe seven or eight in my life. Three now with Emby Alexander. I think about music videos as much as I think about music now, and just the one-two punch of audio and visual I’m In love with it.

MTM: So it’s going to be a video for every song on the album?
EA: I think for every song that I make I’m going to make a video, forever. I think two things that it does is it’s such a great medium. It helps get your song out in the world but I think some people won't do a music video for something that’s not that strong, its not the single kind of idea. But I think if you're making any songs that don't need a video then it’s a bad song so if you're going to spend that much time to write, record, edit, mix, and master a song and then do that same exact process with write and film and edit and render and export a video. I mean that’s a tremendous amount of work so everything's got to be good so that’s what I plan on making: only stuff that's high enough caliber that you would put that much time into something that’s 3 minutes long. If you think about a month of work that goes into a 3 minute song just to make the song and then a month or two or three to make a music video. I mean that’s four months to do something that lasts three minutes. Its really romantically stupid but I’m in love with it.

MTM: Do you have any sort of formal film background?

EA: The most official thing besides my own stuff is I went out and I did this little extra piece on Criminal Minds — that crime drama TV show on CBS. I played like a student sitting and looking really interested in the lecture. What I’m doing (now) with Trevor Riley is a lot harder and more real than that. That’s just such a mainstream audience. I just got an email the other day from Gage Olsen of Rubber Brother records he emailed me the other day and said he was watching Criminal Minds and recognized me so I’m on there long enough to see me.

MTM: Who’s Trevor Riley?
EA: He’s the guy who just directed our last video and co-wrote it with me, and he just did the Dry River Yacht Club video, and the Vial of Sound video, and the Decker video is coming out soon, and the Snakes! Snakes! Snakes! video he’s the premier director in town here.

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