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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Alex Benson

Alex Benson, interview, Bandcamp

Alex Benson is a staple in the local artist community. He was born and raised in Phoenix, performs in bands Rough Tough Dynamite and Confetti Club, makes web and music videos as Plastic Monsters, and just released a solo album, Power Strangers.

The 10-track album was written and recorded entirely on Feb. 16 during a 14-hour session. Power Strangers is available for name-your-price download on Bandcamp.

Below, read The Spec‘s interview with Alex Benson and stream tracks from the album…

How long have you been making music?
I think it’s been about 10 years now I’ve been writing songs, doing bands and recording and stuff, but I’ve only been actually releasing stuff for six years.

Who/what are your influences?
I love DEVO, and Mark Mothersbaugh is my biggest idol. He’s just a super active, creative dude and he makes whatever he feels like making. Super awesome guy. The Aquabats were my first full-on band obsession, and the first band that really helped me appreciate music for all the individual working parts inside each song. And the value of putting on a really fun show that isn’t just playing songs. Being really stoked on David Bowie and Beck taught me you don’t have to be consistent at all or have a genre or whatever.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Javelin lately, too; those guys always have super interesting textures in their songs. Dan Deacon makes really great music, puts on an amazing show, and is super real and genuine. The “why” behind what he does is super inspiring. Cornelius is super textural and really creative in his arrangements, too, that really gets me going.

What is your favorite song you’ve released and why?
Right now, I feel really close to the song “Stay Okay,” but that’s because I was trying to convey a really specific mood and feeling that is super real to me, and it feels really genuine in that way.

What made you decide to write and record the album in just one day?
I’ve always got a lot of projects and stuff in progress and it’s always these big endeavors that take a lot of time and preparation and coordination between a bunch of different people and whatnot. So I just was feeling this pretty strong urge to output something, start and finish it in one day without over thinking it or coming back to it, and wrapping it up and releasing it and that’s it. It’s done. I just kind of felt like operating on impulse for one day and getting more comfortable trusting my initial decisions.

If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living?
I definitely don’t make any money on my music, which is totally fine. But I’m an animator for a living. I really dig it, it’s fun. I think it’s good to work in one medium for money and then come home and switch gears into another medium in my free time.

What musicians or bands do you look up to?
I really admire a lot of my friends locally in Phoenix and Tempe that are making great stuff and have a really good perspective and mindset about it. Friends are super inspiring. I’ll always look up to Diners’ approach to pop and the working studio. The amount of experimentation and process-based stuff that Waytansea Point does has really opened up my brain to new possibilities and appreciation for experimental music. Treasure Mammal will always have the best handle on how to get a whole room of people super stoked and having fun and make amazing memorable nights. I love hearing Jerusafunk’s fusion music and eclectic arrangements. Yairms has me really, really excited, too.

I guess I really look up to people around here making exactly what they want and what they are excited about, even if it feels slightly out of place. Like how Liam And The Ladies genuinely love making really great second wave ska, even though there aren’t a ton of other ska bands around here. That’s super inspiring.

Why do you make music?
Because it’s fun! It’s a really great release, it feels good to make music. Especially with friends. And if I can have fun at shows, involve the whole room in it and help people forget about how much of a bummer their day was, that’s worth it, too.

Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
Also, working on a new album and some music videos for Power Strangers.

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