Alec Wigdahl is a king of bops. Lovely, summery, why-aren’t-these-all-over-the-radio, irresistibly catchy bops. On a day where we’re all getting new music flung at us infinitely faster than we can hit ‘play’ on our preferred streaming service, his latest ‘Summer Is Over’ has already taken up 100% of our Friday morning listening. The follow-up to recent hits ‘Lipstick’ and ‘Cologne’, it sees the LA-via-Minneapolis 10K Projects/Internet Money Records-signed newcomer round out a trilogy of top-notch tunes. Introduce yourself to a new fave.
Hi Alec, how’s it going? Are you having a good day?
I’m having a fantastic day, a great day.
How’s LA treating you, are you sticking it out through lockdown?
I absolutely am sticking it out through lockdown, and LA’s been treating me great so far. This is the third city I’ve fully lived in, because I grew up and lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota my whole life, and I spent a decent amount of time in Boston while I briefly went to Berklee College of Music. Boston was really fun, but LA is like super different from anywhere I’ve ever really been. It’s a whole different culture and world out here.
Where do you like hanging out in LA? It must be a great place to live.
The main hangout spots are definitely the Internet Money houses. We’ve had a couple of ones; we’ve actually lived in three different places since I’ve even been here the last eight to nine months. It’s really easy to all hang out at the house, because there’s space for all of us, studios to work, places to just relax, and at the end of the day, we’re all just friends, not co-workers. Besides that, we go to Melrose to go shopping. Actually, this week we moved closer to the Santa Monica area, so now we’re closer to the beach too!
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician then, did you grow up in a musical household?
I don’t know if I really grew up in a musical household. I didn’t have parents shoving instruments down my throat, and my parents weren’t musicians, but they played a little bit of piano, and my mom sings at church. The biggest influence my parents had on me, which was huge, was just showing me music. My parents are both huge music fans, and they both had different, unique tastes in music that they showed me from a young age. I think a lot of my music taste has stemmed from the music they showed me when I was a little kid. They also tried to put me into lessons as a kid, but I just wanted to teach myself. They definitely made an effort to make sure I was surrounded by music. Clearly, it worked!
Can you remember your first-ever favourite song, or album?
I would say my first ever favourite song that I first remember having is a song my dad showed me from his favourite band, Aerosmith. He’d always play Aerosmith in the car and just say like “Listen to this! This is real music right here.” Also, the first concert I ever went to was Aerosmith because my dad took me when I was really young. Aerosmith is very near and dear to my heart. It was a song called “Amazing” by Aerosmith – it’s a random album track, but my dad thought it was the best. It became my first true, favourite song.
Did it take you long to hit on your sound?
Absolutely, and it’s something I’m still working on every single day. It’s really hard…the hardest part about being an artist is that, personally, I’m just a fan of so much music and so many different genres and artists that when I have to go back and make my own music, it’s frustrating that I have to put myself in a box. It’s hard to pick and choose the influences that I want to reflect. It’s definitely a journey to figure out where your voice is as an artist and where you have a unique sound. Finding my sound was definitely a challenge, and something I’m still doing.
How did you learn how to do all this?
It really started my junior year of high school. By that point, I learned some music as a kid, but had stopped doing music entirely. I hadn’t done music in years. Then I had this back surgery, and I was out of school and couldn’t play sports, and it caused me to start playing guitar again. I picked up my mom’s acoustic nylon guitar that she had just laying around, and I started teaching myself. I used to watch videos of Ed Sheeran playing and literally study his hands as he was playing. I’d try to mimic him and find the chords. I didn’t just go Google the chords to “The A-Team” and try to learn the song. The way I really learned was by watching YouTube videos and going “How are his hands moving? How does he hold the guitar compared to John Mayer or BB King?” I had kind of the same approach to learning production. I had some producers and artists that I looked up to, and I tried to mimic them but do my own thing with it. It’s been the most gradual process. Trying to get better at writing and playing has been a slow process of chipping away at new skills. Usually, I didn’t even realise I was getting better at it, it’s just kind of something that happened because I really wanted it.
‘Summer Is Over’ is really fun, where did it come from?
A lot of my songs are based in my relationships… which is fine, that’s how a lot of music in history has been, but I think ‘Summer Is Over’ was me trying to make a song that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not really a song that has a story, and I think the music video reflects that too. It’s a feeling, not a story, and I love that about this song. I just wanted to reflect the feeling of summer, the feeling of playing a song really loud with the windows down, a song to sing along to. That’s what I had in mind when I started making the song.
Are your songs autobiographical?
To me, they are, but when I release them to the world, I want them to be for everyone. My songs are like my babies, I love them dearly, but once I release them, it’s not my song anymore. Releasing a song to me is like giving it to the world and saying to the fans and people who listen, “Ok, I’m giving this to you guys now. You can take it, and it’s yours to enjoy and reflect on your own life now.” I try to detach my own life from it, so someday I can perform ‘Cologne’ and not just be thinking about how personal the lyrics are to me. Once I release it, it’s not about me anymore, but yes, when I’m making the songs, all of them are autobiographical.
What do you do for fun?
Honestly, my job and my free time has all kind of become one thing now because the people I work with are also my best friends. So, what I like to do for fun is hang out with my friends and make music with them.
What’s coming up for you, do you have ‘big plans’?
I see ‘Summer Is Over’ as the last in the trilogy of my recent songs. After ‘Summer Is Over’, it’s time to finish a full project and make the project feel cohesive. I’m ready to put out the next body of work to define where the music has gone in the last year since my 2019 EP ‘Strawberry’.
Alec Wigdahl’s new single ‘Summer Is Over’ is out now.