Like many other contemporary artists, singer and multi-instrumentalist David Alexander was shaken up by the death of David Bowie in January.
The Sweden-based Alexander, who records under the name Summer Heart, considers Bowie to be one of his biggest inspirations — and at times, it shows. Summer Heart’s output so far (two EPs and two albums) can be atmospheric a la Bowie, but Alexander achieves that by taking a lo-fi approach to recording. The most recent example of this is “Pretty Haze,” which was released as a single in February and will be included on a forthcoming Summer Heart EP that Alexander is expected to preview at SXSW 2016.
Medleyville.us: What do you like the most and the least about being the type of solo artist who makes music alone, without any backing musicians?
David Alexander: “The best thing is that I can do exactly what I want without anyone interfering. The worst thing is that I can do anything I want without anyone interfering. Seriously, I love working on my own, but it can be problematic ’cause there are so many different things I wanna do and so many different styles I wanna make, so sometimes it can take forever to get anything done cause I just keep changing things, you know. It’s great to bring my friends as live musicians, though.”
How has Sweden changed since you’ve lived there? And how have you changed — personally and professionally — during that same time?
Alexander: “Sweden is pretty unfulfilling, to be honest. I don’t feel at home here, but I have never felt at home anywhere else, either. At the same time, it is easy to live a cheap life here and be able to focus on music, so that is definitely the upside of it.”
You’ve talked in the past about David Bowie’s Hunky Dory being an inspirational record for you. How did you find out about his death, and where were you at the time you heard the news?
Alexander: “I found out about his death early on the 11th of January. It was all over the news, although I still can’t believe he is dead.
“David Bowie is definitely one of my biggest artistic influences. Both his music and his sense of style and artistry are out of this world. I would like to say he has influenced me to believe in [myself] and trying to be who I want to be and not caring what others might think of that, however weird that might sound.”
What is the inspiration behind “Pretty Haze”?
Alexander: “ ‘Pretty Haze’ is about addiction but written so it can be intelligible as a love lyric. Does that make any sense? I write a lot of poetry, so the lyrics come from a poem I wrote in 2014 and then re-wrote, and it all became this track. Lots of my songs are written this way.”
Finish this sentence: At this year’s SXSW, I will …
Alexander: “ … go mental ’cause there is so much goodness going on.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Summer Heart at SXSW 2016 (schedule subject to change):
• 1 a.m. March 16 (Wednesday night): The Townsend — 718 Congress Ave.
• 1 a.m. March 19 (Saturday night): Icenhauer’s — 83 Rainey St.
Photo by Felicia Hansson