By Caleb Oldham
On a small island named Bruhaha far out at sea in a galaxy far, far away there is a special way of saying hello (and goodbye) that's a bit different than how you or I would do it. Out there they say: "Chill Grooves!"
"Oh Chill Grooves there!"
"Sorry I can't stay, Chill Grooves!"
"Stop right there!"
"Oh shit you got me!"
"You're arrested right now."
"I'm a real man"
"Fuck tha man!"
"I've got a gun and a badge"
"Fuck tha man!"
"I've got a gun and a badge!"
"Fuck you man!"
"I've got a gun!"
"Fuck the man! And I hate the world!"
That last part was from the Halifax smoothcore artist Harley Alexander's song "F Da Man". Alexander is the kind of musician that would have any native of Bruhaha immediately exclaiming "Hello!"
I had the extreme pleasure of asking Harley some questions, and this is what I got:
Doing research for this, I couldn't find a lot of bio information on Harley Alexander-would you mind filling us in a little?
Well, I'm a Canadian boy. I'm 25 years old. I grew up in Ottawa. I am a boy.. a male. Male (laughs)
You used to record under the name "Sheepman" what prompted the switch?
I had a falling out with the band and the content was changing and I was changing, and it just didn't feel like we were the same band as when we started out, and I wanted to be free from that. I just wanted to be completely free to create whatever I wanted without the history.
The sound of your guitar is really at the center of your songs-do you usually come into the studio with a specific sound in mind or does it come out of a trial and error approach?
Sometimes I have it in mind. I usually write on acoustic guitar, but I generally know the sound that I want - the texture. I like pretty clean sounds-not too synthetic.
What artists inspire you?
I really love Jonathan Richman, I really love The Kinks, Harry Nilsson, Neil Young and Lou Reed. Old music mostly. Old sensitive boys.
Why doesn't Tony Stark just give Black Widow, Captain America and Hawkeye Iron-Man suits? We know he has them.
Tony stark is a narcissist and he doesn't want people taking his identity.
There is a lot of great guitar-oriented pop music coming out of Halifax right now- what do you think makes you stand out?
I like clean guitars, and I think my influences are different. I grew up in a different city listening to different music. A lot of the bands here are from here and grew up listening to the same kind of music. I think coming from somewhere else, growing up on different stuff just innately makes my playing different.
Was your song "F Da Man" inspired by a specific experience?
Funny you should ask! It was actually a handful of experiences. Overall, I was taking out my frustration with authoritative figures. I've never felt safe or really appreciated by them.
Specifically the song was about two experiences. The first half of the song - the first chorus specifically- was about getting a speeding ticket a few years ago on my way to Vancouver, and the cop pulled me over. And he had already pulled us over at a sketchy speed trap spot so it was already greasy. It was on Transcanada between a gas station where the limit is 50 and the highway where the limit is 90... Anyway, the cop was parked right in between the speed change and caught me going 90. He pulled me over, and I knew he was looking for blood because he started looking around asking me if I had any alcohol drugs or weapons. He made me pull out all the empty bottles to check that there was no alcohol in them. He then scanned my license, noticed I had an X under the optical thing and asked me where my glasses were, and I told him I had contacts in. So he preceded to stare me down and call me a liar and say I didn't have the contacts in. He looked me straight in the eyes, told me he couldn't see the contacts. I told him I had them, he said no you're not you're lying, I said again I have them in here. He told me to take them out, so I took my contacts out. That's why there's the line "take my eyes take my pride, make me hate the world". So he sees I have the contacts in, and gets all pissed off because obviously he looks like an idiot. So then he goes back into his car, then comes back to me, to the window, rolls it down, and he hands me a ticket face down, so I don't see how much it is. Tells me that I have blah blah this many days to pay it. Then scurries off, and I flip it over and it's 300 bucks. 300 dollar ticket and my eyes were all itchy and hurting for the rest of the day cause I had to drive all day long with my dirty contacts in.
The other half of the song was just about a house show that we had and the cops came and gave me a 500 dollar ticket and no one at the party helped me pay for it. So that's like the intruders filled their mouths to shake down at my house, just a bunch of drunk 19 year olds and no one helped me out. Basically the song is frustration trying to be filtered into a light context. Try not to face it with anger, but make a joke about it.
A different Halifax group The Jennifers actually recommended you to me - what other Halifax acts should we be listening to?
You should be checking out Robert Loveless he's my main man, my partner in crime, also Brian Askew another sensual being very talented, the Everywheres, the Gnarwhalz. These are like my main crew.
What are you doing when you aren't playing music?
Chilling with my bae mostly. Sort of looking for work. I have a home studio- which I just record my friends and anyone who wants to pay me who I'm not morally opposed to I'll get down with.
When's the next time you're coming to NYC?
As soon as you invite me! Probably in the Spring- I gotta put together some US dates obvi.
Any parting words?
Thanks for having me! Spread the love, treat each other with kindness. Peace to the world. Love yourself.