Thursday, March 04, 2010

Interview transcript: Alex Lee of Le Vice.

Talking with Alex Lee of Le Vice is always a treat. She is as focused and talented an artist as I've come across during my five years of writing this blog. Simply put, ya girl is freshtadef.
This convo centered around her latest project, the self-titled debut from Le Vice. As she's come into her own as a well-rounded artist, Lee has opened up different sides of her personality in her music. Sometimes sultry, sometimes contemplative, often confident.
Below is a transcript of our talk, with more after the jump. Le Vice performs an acoustic set at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at The Alternative Cafe in Seaside. For more info, visit

Tell me about the musical direction on the Le Vice album, but also, for you personally. You tapped into an emotional vein on this album, talking a lot about relationships, not that you haven't before. You're touching on personal emotions and they seemed to fit in well with the mood of the music the band produced.
The music on this record, I wouldn't call this record like a hip-hop record. It clearly had hip-hop elements. I rap, so it's going to have hip-hop elements, but for the most part, that's the only thing hip-hop about it, besides any parts DJ Traps had to do with. So cuts and scratches and DJing and rapping (are there).
This record, I wouldn't classify it as a hip-hop record at all. What that says is that the music that's there is music.
It's not rap. It's not strictly about swagger, or strictly this and that and just about me in general, or whatever you might think of that correlates with hip-hop music. And even though I've made a lot of conscious hip-hop music too, it's not just about save the world, this and that. It's music, and the music brought out feelings in me.
I wrote this record a lot differently than I've written in the past. I tried to just let whatever came out flow and not force anything. Whatever I was feeling, whatever direction that something took me, I just went with it and that's what came out.
Something I've been really trying to work on is ... just letting whatever comes out naturally come out, you know what I mean? This record, the more relationship oriented songs or whatever, those are some of the last songs I put on the record. To be honest, they were some of the easiest songs to do.
Don't get me wrong. For the most part, everything I wrote always has some type of exaggeration to it. I generally don't write songs to the exact truth, you know? It's music. It's entertainment or whatever.
I might put things together that might be taken from different relationships or stories or whatever and make it into one song. Or I might take what I see in other people's relationships and things that they feel that I feel I can connect with, things that involve the same kind of feelings, and put that into a song.
When you have something real that you can write about, its' that much easier and truer. And it feels better, you know what I mean? Relationships are good to write about (laughs), you know. What can I say? They give you lots and lots of material.

One thing that I noticed about you on your last solo record, “Headphone Heroes,” was that you hadn't revealed a lot of your personality. I feel like on this one, steering away from hip-hop and getting more in tune with the band's sound, it almost brought out a whole different side of your personality.
Everything I do, every project, every song I write, it's growth. I'm 24, you know, I'm not 20. I'm not 16. I'm 24, and I can't help but want to express things that are more natural for me as a 24 year old to come out.
I don't know if I've ever told you this before. I used to make conscious music, and it's really weird because I have steered away from that for the most part, and in a weird way I feel that's a growing thing. Because when I was 17, 18, 19, 20, I wanted to save the world, and I thought I could do it.
Don't get me wrong. I still want to save the world and everything, but I have to worry about me. I have to save my world every day. I have to write what's true to me. While saving the world is always an aspiration and it should be to everybody, I have to worry about myself and I have issues in my own life that take precedence to saving the world.
So that has a lot to do with things. I have to realize things for myself. What are my issues? My faults? Another reason why I steered away from conscious music is because I'm fuckin' hella not perfect. I'm not perfect, and to rap about the perfect world, when I'm not even perfect? What can I do? When I realized that, I started writing about my faults a little more. Not writing directly about them, but just not afraid to seek them out. Whether it be different issues, relationship issues, or like lusty things or whatever, things that aren't' so positive about my life. I feel that a lot of people can really relate to that
I kind of changed a lot of what I've been writing about. To be honest, it feels realer and it feels truer and it feels good, you know.

Last time we talked, you told me about steering away from hip-hop. I know from our last conversation that you've been more into the indie rock scene. Why is it important to make that move and distinction to fans that follow you music? Is it important that you steer clear of the hip-hop tag?
To be honest, it's not that I really want to steer clear of the hip-hop tag, or that was even an intention. It just happened. I haven't been listening to a lot of hip-hop. It's become a bit repetitive for me. Just for the time being or whatever. I ventured out my little ears and started listening to other music.
Not to mention that being in a band with these guys who have very different musical backgrounds and listen to a lot of different stuff, it was bound to rub off on me at some point. So some of the music that they might listen to that I might not have been up on, they put me up on. I know Shawn put me up on a lot of stuff.
And then I had my little Sirius/XM Radio and I had this indie rock station. I never knew any of the (bands that they played on the station). Sure the names came up, but like, all the songs are kind of similar to me. I hate to sound like that. It's like how people that don't' listen to rap, they say it all sounds the same. But there was a lot that I grabbed from that and I liked it.
I needed something different that inspired me to make music, and hip-hop in general wasn't doing it for me. None of my favorite people were putting out much music in general or putting out exactly what I was feeling at the time.
That's just where I'm at right now, and not to mention, talking about the Le Vice record, there's a lot of different musical influences from the entire band. I want to naturally fit into whatever type of music is there that they're playing. You can't write this hard ass rap to some super melodical, if that's even a word, music. The band is not just mine. Sure, it started off as mine, but it's not just mine anymore, and I'm happy.
So now Le Vice is something that I do, something that I'm a part of. Sure it's one of my babies, but it's not just mine and I'm happy to share in the creative process with everybody. I don't want to overpower what is created by all the different, talented musicians in the band.
With that said, it's like, the solo record isn't super hip-hoppy either. It's not like what I'm doing with Le Vice. Maybe the next Le Vice record I'm gonna put more input in and be like let's make it more hip-hop. Who knows? Maybe my next (solo) record will go back to being a straight hip-hop record. It just depends where I'm at. It's whatever I'm feeling. Whatever inspires me will be the direction I go. If I feel I can go that direction safely (laughs), without making a fool of myself or without going too off course that it just doesn't work.

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