“It’s Time We All Reach Out 4 Something New” – Celebrating New Albums from Two Favorite Creators

Laura Tiebert
May 27, 2021

Being essentially a one-trick pony (truly, the only talent I’ve focused on and honed over the years is writing), I’m always fascinated when a friend who I’ve known to excel in one context makes a leap into an altogether different art form. That happened recently with not one but two people I greatly admire, Eloy LaSanta of the Prince’s Friend YouTube channel, and Alex Hahn, my friend and writing partner on “The Rise of Prince.” Each of them, accomplished in their chosen fields, is in the process of releasing an album (Alex released his in April, and Eloy’s comes out tomorrow). Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new — these two are the epitome of that. I recently interviewed them via email to learn more about their new “babies.” In the spirit of living like Prince and trying something new, I was excited to ask them what it feels like to strike out on a new creative adventure. 

ELOY LASANTA (PRINCE’S FRIEND)

His new album “In My Head,” drops Fri., May 28 from his band, Strays of the World

Hi, Eloy! How was the process of making the album? I heard you did everything on your own, is that correct?

11 of the 12 songs on the debut album, “In My Head,” were written, performed, arranged, produced, everything by myself. Learning to play piano really made guitar and bass and drums all make a lot of sense, and really made me appreciate all the creatives out there consistently putting out great music. The process was actually really intuitive, though. I wrote somewhere around 30 songs (which ended up at varying stages of completion) before settling on this assortment and sequencing them in a way to tell a story that I’m hoping will resonate with everyone.

The 12th song is “Ava Adore,” a cover of a Smashing Pumpkins song (one of my favorite bands ever), and also features Alcee Mejia and Nick Simon performing with me. Alcée and Nick were wonderful mentors to me, bringing me from someone with an okay voice but real knowledge to a real musician.

Did you go back and learn some instruments? What all did you need to learn to create the songs?

Oh definitely! Not only did I have to get my piano chops up to snuff, but I taught myself a ton of guitar and bass along the way. I won’t ever say I’m the greatest guitar player, as I’m still learning so much, but I picked up a lot on how to make my guitar do different things and used those lessons on my album.

In the album, there are also some songs built around a beat, others about a piece on piano, others off a guitar chord, every one of the songs was me testing out how my creativity translates on album and pushing myself to make something professional sounding. In all of the above, I feel I was successful and the music will touch people out there.

Is there any lyric on the album that stands out to you the most?

Oh wow, all lyrics are kind of my babies. For me, in the song “All the Colors” there’s a bit of spoken word there. “If you need a new home, or just a place to lay your head, follow me to the place where our souls have led,” and that’s kind of what Strays of the World is all about. It’s an invitation to everyone to come play in our garden, to come together and experience love.

You’ve heard the album, though, I’d love to know what lyric spoke to you on the album too. (Editor’s note: The lyrics of “All the Colors” spoke to me too … “The rose petals lead me back to you” is beautiful!).

What advice would you give to anyone starting out with a new creative endeavor?

Hmmm, any creative thing, whether it’s a book or an album or a YouTube channel or what have you, deserves to be treated seriously. If you devote real effort, learn off your tools, try your best, and have a bit of fun at the same time, the end result will always have the possibility of resonating with others and having longevity. It only works if you work it, if you will.

 

ALEX HAHN (THE RISE OF PRINCE)

His new album, “This Precious Life,” is available on Spotify and other streaming services.

Alex, my “Rise of Prince” writing partner! Tell me, how was the process of making the album?

Once of the exciting things about this day and age is the possibility of virtual collaboration with other musicians.  Almost all of the interactions with the other musicians occurred virtually.  Although this has its downsides in the sense that it precludes real-time feedback, it does add a new dimension for people like myself who record by themselves in home studios.

This process allowed me to work with two female vocalists on the album, both of whom did a great job and added a new dimension to the sound.

After “The Erotic Review,” did you change anything in your playing or singing that made the sound of this album different?

Growing up, I was always a fan of albums that represented a complete body of work and reflected some kind of them.  Although The Erotic Review was much more of a story and a song cycle, the intent of This Precious Life was also to create a record that was also an integrated piece of work.  The album reflects a lot of the angst I was feeling during the dark days of COVID and the run-up to the 2020 election.  There is also a sad theme of disintegrating relationships, although the lyrics in that regard are less autobiographical than they might seem.

There’s no question that this album has some connective tissue with the Erotic Review itself, with “Free Trade Hall” being a remix of a song from that album, and “Mr. Cat Nine” having been written during that period.

Is there any lyric on the album that stands out to you the most?

That’s a really great and interesting question.  I feel like some of the lyrics of “Wonder Girl” cut the deepest:  “there’s a slow fade to black/all the paved over cracks/all the years we want back.”  As someone who is 55, I find myself writing about themes of aging, loss, and regret.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out with a new creative endeavor?

The death of my mother in February 2016 set in motion the events that gave rise to the Erotic Review, which was both about the loss of my mother and other things that happened to me afterward.  Just a couple of months later, the death of Prince in April 2016 set into motion the process that led to our book, “The Rise of Prince.”  Both the album and the book were DIY efforts.  Both efforts struck me as being successful, but DIY efforts are time-consuming, draining, and uncertain.  For musicians, the sad reality is that 60,000 new songs are uploaded to Spotify every day.  I would assume that the vast majority are unsigned artists trying to get some kind of foothold.  So any new music I release is competing with all of those people for listens.

So my advice is to have realistic expectations and also clear goals.  The ground is constantly shifting, so be ready to adjust strategy and tactics.  We live in a time when anyone can release a book or a record, and where Spotify and Amazon are very encouraging towards DIY artists.  There is literally no gatekeeping.  But that means that all such artists are competing for listens and eyeballs against countless thousands of other people doing the same thing.  And the best ways of approaching this problem today may be useless tomorrow.  Things move literally that quickly.

 

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