New Yorker Alexa Dexa, who plays a free concert tomorrow night (March 23) at House of Loom, coined the term “toychestral electronic pop” to describe her avant-art music played on a toy baby grand piano, desk bells, alarm clock and iPhone (playing pre-recorded beats). Add to that her swoony, bluesy voice and you’ve got an altogether unique musical / performance art experience with the charm of early Purity Ring or Bjork crossed with Philip Glass but played on tiny toy instruments.
This must be seen to be believed.
We asked Alexa to answer our Ten Questions. Here’s what she had to say:
1. What is your favorite album?
Alexa Dexa: Probably my favorite record to listen to is Peter and The Wolf. Prokofiev is a master!
2. What is your least favorite song?
I’m not a huge fan of commercial pop songs. I think most of them are too sterile both musically and lyrically.
3. What do you enjoy most about performing?
My favorite part of performing is having the opportunity to connect with people. To share my story and then listen to the stories of others who came to hear me. It’s a beautiful exchange.
4. What do you hate about performing?
I hate all the work it takes behind the scenes to plan a performance – I certainly can’t romanticize sending countless emails into the Internet void knowing only a handful will contact me back and an even smaller percentage will be interested. I love when I’m lucky enough to stumble on a venue like House of Loom where there’s a clear reciprocal interest in the event and I’m given a generous helping hand in putting the show together!
5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?
I feel like my number one definitely has to go to water. I don’t think I’m going anywhere without that! Recently I got an inhaler for a brutal chest cold. That was pretty stellar to be able to breathe easily again after so much constriction. Kind of like putting glasses on for the first time when you start needing them. I love glasses too.
6. What city or town do you love performing at?
There are a few! Detroit is absolutely teeming with friendly and creative people. So are Houston, Memphis and Charlotte! I find that these cities are always ultra welcoming to me and genuinely focused on music as an art-form to facilitate building community. That’s a big deal for me. I always want to perform for and with people that are in it for the quality of the music and for creating lasting friendships instead of playing into the industry’s mandate that music is only as valuable as the big money or big connections backing an artist.
7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?
My worst gig to date was in Austin, TX. The sound engineer who was also the owner of the venue I was playing was out of his mind with rage (and allegedly crack) because he couldn’t find the stage plot I had sent him a month earlier. He almost cancelled my show during the hour-long sound check he insisted on giving me because I tried to show him how I mic my toy piano and desk bells. A regular sound check for me takes like 10 minutes. My set up is just 2 mics and a 1/4 inch cable. Nothing complicated. Anyway after playing the show (which I should have just refused to play at the first sign of inappropriate behavior) I left behind my favorite Native American turquoise necklace. I came back for it 20 minutes later and it was cracked in half.
8. How do you pay your bills?
I teach music lessons through Skype and at some music stores on Long Island when I’m not on tour. Royalties for my performances and CD sales help quite a bit too!
9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?
I’ve been thinking about this lately actually! I’m pretty sure I’d make a rad travel agent since I spend so much time touring and organizing my own national and international music-related travel. I have a few itineraries that I’m sure some people would enjoy! I also have the know-how on budget travel. Lots of tips! As for what I would absolutely hate: I have an aversion to being stuck in front of a computer screen doing mindless tasks all day and to routines that don’t allow for educational/creative/personal growth. Any 9-5 data entry type position that doesn’t require much intricate thought or involvement is sure to lose my interest and commitment pretty quickly.
10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?
One of my favorite professors at Berklee College of Music (and an incredible composer at that) named Marti Epstein is from Nebraska. I remember her once telling our class how proud she is of being from the area! Honestly, I’m excited to have my own stories come March 23rd!
Alexa Dexa plays Wednesday, March 23, at House of Loom, 1012 So. 10th St. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information, visit houseofloom.com.