Spotlight: Alexander Noice

Los Angeles’ previous generation of experimental music, often built on a scene centered by reedman Vinny Golia, gave birth to Avant-guitar greats Nels Cline and G.E. Stinson. The current generation is producing a new breed of forward thinking guitarists, exemplified by Jake Vossler and Alexander Noice. Noice, like Vossler, often performs with trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom and has also worked with Golia. Unlike Vossler, Noice doesn’t come from a metal background but a jazz one. His sextet music can get equally aggressive though, as it expands from jazz into post-rock and classical modalities.

What kind of music were you playing when you first became proficient on the instrument? And how did you develop that proficiency? 

The first music that got me excited was late ’60s rock music, particularly the Beatles, which led to Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix led to the blues: Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Howling Wolf. The blues eventually led me to jazz, which was my main obsession from age 13 to 17. Hearing horn players Charlie Parker, Lee Morgan, Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman, (the list goes on and on) play with such effortless command on their instruments, inspired me to develop a command of the guitar. I had a good teacher early on who veered me away from some bad technical habits. Obsessive listening and transcribing really helped me develop from a technical and creative standpoint.

What led you to create more experimental (non-mainstream) music?

I have always been drawn to music that was different from anything I had heard. It started with albums like Magical Mystery Tour when I was ten, which led to more music that was pushing boundaries. As I got older, I sought more niche and “experimental’ music in the jazz, classical, and rock worlds because I was always seeking music that would surprise me, music that was fully realized, personal, honest, and consequently unique.

Whose music inspires you? Past and Present.

It changes week by week. A consistent list includes Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Gyorgy Ligeti, Igor Stravinsky, Steve Reich, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Brian Eno, and the list goes on. Some more recent artists are Deerhoof (though they have been around since the early ’90s), Death Grips, Dirty Projectors, Ariel Pink, and Holly Herndon, to name a few, as well as lots of compilations of different types of African music that have come out in the past ten years or so. It’s music recorded in the ’60s and ’70s but my exposure to it has been somewhat new.

How did you get better at your current style? 

I don’t think style is a conscious thing you can manifest in a cerebral way, so it’s tricky to know how you might develop it. Once you have enough proficiency on your instrument, or in composition, the main thing is to be honest and open minded about what you want to get across to listeners. If you don’t cut yourself off stylistically or aesthetically based on trends, or what’s accepted in certain circles, and you stick to what genuinely excites you, then naturally, over time, and with lots of work, you will develop a unique musical identity.

What are you trying convey with your music?

I hope to make music that, if I were not the composer, would blow me away and surprise me. I want to make music that is unique and encompasses all my sonic, stylistic, and aesthetic interests. That’s an extremely general answer, but each project I am currently working on has a number of very particular things I want to get across, so a general statement will have to do for now.

Which guitars, amps, effects, plug-ins and software do you use to create your music, and why?

For recording I use Logic with various plugins: Waves, SoundToys, etc. Generally I play a Fender Stratocaster through an Evans amp. Some pedals I use on a regular basis include the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb, Blackstone Appliances distortion, Boss’ DD3 delay, tremolo, and overdrive pedals, a Line 6 DL4 delay, and a Digitech Whammy (though it’s broken and I need to get a new one). For some things I use a Korg Kaoss Pad for delay and ring modulator type effects.

Which do you enjoy more: recording or playing live and why?

I like them both in different ways. As a composer, recording is more like painting or writing a novel. You have lots of control and can get across exactly what you envision, which is extremely satisfying. But I tend to run the risk of getting OCD with it and too much in my own head. Its nice to balance it with the freeing visceral feeling I get from playing live. Playing live in front of a receptive enthusiastic audience is one of the best feelings. A constant combination of the two keeps me in balance.

How have you built up an audience for your music?

I am still working on that. I am not supported by a major label so the majority of people who enjoy what I do have seen me playing around Los Angeles or elsewhere and find my music online, or vice versa.

With whom would you like to collaborate and why?

I guess anyone I have mentioned, though most of them are dead. I am lucky to collaborate with amazing musicians in the Los Angeles music community. That said, being in the studio with someone like Brian Eno would be amazing.

What is your latest project? When will it be available and where can people in different parts of the world get it?

The Alexander Noice Sextet is my latest live band. We are about to record our debut album for Orenda Records for a release in 2017. There are many videos of us performing live online, so you can get a taste of what we do before our debut next year. The band has some amazing musicians that include two operatically trained female vocalists, alto sax, electric guitar, electric bass, drums, and triggered electronics and samples.

I am releasing an electronic album later this year also on Orenda Records. Its called Music Made With Voices. I take one single note sung by a family member or friend and use that as the only source material to make a particular piece of music. It’s going to be ten tracks, ten single notes sung by ten people with whom I have a very personal relationship. I will be putting out pre-release bits and pieces of that project on my website. Updates on the both releases, and the releases themselves with be available on iTunes and all similar online outlets, along with  and my website. Until then check out my previous release and band Falsetto Teeth.

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2 thoughts on “Spotlight: Alexander Noice

  1. Alexander is a very gifted and creative guitarist-composer-band leader. I first heard him playing with VInny Golia several years ago at In The Flow Fest in Sacramento when my band, L. Stinkbug with Nels Cline, Steuart Liebig and Scott Amendola, were on the same bill with Vinny and Alexander. After so many years, I am rarely impressed by young guitarists even though i often like their playing. Alexander was an exception and is still one of my favorite players. One thing that is immediately appealing to me is that Alexander is very open minded to different kinds of music. Even though he has great technical facility on his instrument, he has not limited himself to one area of music. Super creative and exploring new music.

    P.S. he’s also a very nice guy.

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