10 Questions with | Alex Roberts
Acclaimed folk artist Alex Roberts breathes new life into his album Love & Supernatural with a remix and remaster, along with all-new bonus tracks. Releasing Oct 28th of this year, the 17-track epic reimagines the timeless LP for a new decade complete with cutting edge production. As its name reveals, 'Love & Supernatural' explores the realms of romance and magic alike. Inspired by Roberts’ own magical practices, Love & Supernatural twists and turns through stories grand and intimate, with shades of something beyond our known world. These tales are weaved through the artist’s raspy, emotive vocals, and intricate six-string arrangements. Indie Boulevard spoke to Alex to find out more about his new album.
IB: Hi Alex, it's an honor to talk to you about your music and learn more about you. But let's dig a little bit into the past. Can you remember the beginning of your creative path and how you got into folk music?
ALEX: The honor is mine, thanks for asking me here.. My songs are my myth and Myth has inspired me for as long as I can recall. It speaks to us on a very deep level, raises us above the material and mundane. I consider music to be a vehicle for this, the one that I chose to pursue. I began learning music formally at quite a young age and then really invested my time from my teens and throughout my adult life, exploring the potential of six strings to the best of my ability, pushing boundaries wherever it was necessary in order to create the best vehicle for my songs and stories. In a way I am writing one song only, and each iteration comes closer to what I am aiming for. I mean, from the first song I wrote to the most recent, I am exploring the nature of song. The idiom of 'folk' seems most resonant with me. Isn't all music folk to a certain extent though?
IB: Your new album 'Love & Supernatural' is out now, and it's available on all digital platforms and even on CD. The album sounds really awesome! How did you come up with the idea to tell such fascinating stories in an album?
ALEX: Thanks! I am very proud of this album and pleased you like it, but it's actually not new to me as its a 10th anniversary edition, remixed, remastered and with previously unreleased live recording included… That said, the songs on Love & Supernatural are certainly part of the artistic process I described earlier. The title implies that love and the supernatural operate on the same frequency, a concept born from the ancient mysteries and particularly the hermetic teachings. What stands out for me on reflection is that these songs represent my first really coherent offering to something greater than us. They each aspire to honour myth, ancestry, magic, and most of all Mother Earth. Even after ten years many of the songs have remained in my live sets, which either means they are popular with my audience or that they still resonate strongly with me.. both hopefully!
IB: What inspired you to remaster this particular album?
ALEX: It was felt my the record label - Mottow Soundz - that the album deserved a refreshed sound and a wider audience than it had ten years ago. Many of these songs have stayed in my live sets for hundreds of shows over the past decade so they still have resonance, perhaps more now than before. Songs do have a life of their own, and we need to allow them the space to grow.
IB: Folk, country, acoustic and jazz are all interwoven to an incredible degree in your music, and you manage to make it all work together. Who inspired you to write songs and create such magical music?
ALEX: Ah thats kind of you to note. I find inspiration in my relationships, my learning, and in nature and magic - which are one and the same.
IB: I love the cover of the repackaged album 'Love and Supernatural,' it looks so.. so medieval, like a spell. What does it reflect? What are the sacred meanings in it?
ALEX: The tree is the tree of life, forbidden by god in the old testament (much to our detriment in my opinion) along with the tree of knowledge which Eve had the good sense to eat from.. Religion has twisted many ancient mysteries to its advantage, often as in this case completely on its head - imagine what we may have achieved were we not denied these things… instead we were plunged into the dark ages and our ancestors were persecuted by the dogmatic instruments of religion. I find no stock in organised religion, however at its root there is often a seed of truth. The serpent in the branches represents the spirit of Sophia, the Earth Goddess, who truly had our best interests at heart and has been much maligned over the centuries. The owl, also a symbol of Sophia, represents wisdom.
IB: You have a very extensive discography. I counted 10 albums on your official site, including the new 'Love & Supernatural' and 'Live at the Vic'. I understand that each is unique in its own way, but is there a favorite album of yours? And if so, why this one in particular?
ALEX: No, there is no favourite, they are all collections of songs I am proud of and represent different aspects of my life path.
IB: Your music sounds like a journey, you touch the unseen sides of life, you deal with classical literature and esotericism. Were there any mystical stories during the recording or songwriting?
ALEX: Certainly I have witnessed some strange occurrences related to these songs, especially 'Wandering Aengus' which is a highly magically charged poem. The Love & Supernatural session itself was not without its fair share of high-strangeness; indeed the entire session was almost lost when the studio inexplicably blew up, leading to our engineer spending days retrieving the recordings from the depths. The inclusion of the trad folk-song 'A Sailors Dream' aka Lord Franklin was timely, almost prophetic, as Franklin’s long-lost ship was raised from the depths some 200 hundred years after its disappearance on the day of the album's initial release.
IB: You are a multi-instrumentalist and have a large collection of musical instruments. Tell us about the most unusual instrument you have ever seen?
ALEX: I had a sylvan moment when I lived in France; I was playing a Hudry-Gurdy, the French call it a wheel violin - It produces a drone, over which you play a melody. I was sat out on the porch playing and a bee landed on the Hurdy Gurdy, followed shortly by a whole swarm which settled on me and my instrument. I played for about ten minutes or so, not one sting, and when I finished playing they flew away. It was beautiful… The strangest instrument? I'm not sure, I like the instruments people build from plumbing pipes and stuff… a Mongolian nose flute perhaps?
IB: Do you have any ideas for future releases? Is anything already in the works?
ALEX: The next album 'Meridians & Superpowers' (out Feb23) is a set of songs I am extremely proud of, not least because they were written around the time I met my beautiful wife. The instrumentation is not far from previous releases but the content of the songs is, I suppose, more intimate. They are dear to my heart. This is a new collaboration with my dear friend Graeme Ross on double bass, guy is a wizard.
IB: And the last question. Which countries would you like to visit with a concert?
ALEX: I've never toured in America or Australia and I'd like to do that but to be be honest its not about the venue for me, it is 100% about the audience. I've played literally hundreds if not thousands of gigs in some great venues and festivals but it doesn't matter where you are if you're creating something reciprocal. Music brings people together and song connects them.
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