Interview: Alaska Reid of Alyeska

A bit ago I featured a photo series of Alaska Reid of the band Los Angeles based band Alyeska by Kristy Benjamin. Just after I received the submission I checked out her album. The music was a alt-pop blend reminiscent of my Liz Phair era during my teenage years.

Check out this interview on her influences and how they bleed into her own music.

What are you doing right now?

Right now I am writing and making demos of songs for a new EP/album that I will be recording in the new year! 

Also planning out shows for next year which I am pretty excited about. 

How did you get started in music? 

It just sort of happened, I started singing first and then my parents said, “we noticed that you really listen to the guitar in songs” and so they got me a shitty nylon and told me that if I practiced everyday I could get a steel string. My dad ended up picking it out for me, and he is a big guy 6 ft 6, and so he chose this very very large dreadnought Yamaha. I remember feeling like I was just a head and arms, because the guitar swallowed the rest of my body. I listened to so much music when I was younger, I was actually talking to someone yesterday about how The Mink Lungs, album “I’ll Take It” was my favorite when I was 6 years old. I listened to so much stuff, The Pixies, The Breeders, Doc Watson, Merle Haggard— I was and still am the biggest Dinosaur Jr. fan. I actually teared up at the show they just played in LA. 

What album changed your life? 

“All Shook Down” by The Replacements. Paul Westerberg is in my top three favorite songwriters of all time. I think he is amazing. His songs are so raw but with these amazing pop choruses and guitar riffs.

He has this sort of rebellious, lonely wisdom that is translated through his lyrics and how he sings. God, he’s a great singer too! 

Who are some of your influences? 

Writer Jim Harrison writes this very amazing simple poetry, and he actually lived for a long time in my hometown in Montana, so it feels very close to me. 

St. Vincent, she’s obviously a musical genius, but I think she is amazing because as an artist, and not to mention as woman, she still manages to have a career and persona that cannot be easily defined or pigeonholed. She’s transcended a lot of things that people get caught in musically and personality wise. 

Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead in general. They are a band that has been going for a long time and still are creating content that is completely new and they are always ascending creatively. Greenwood is the sort of musician I want to be — just the way that he thinks about instrumentation in general is really inspiring. 

Eddie Huang— I just think he is so cool. My sister and I are both crushing on him. He says what he wants, has a great sense of humor, but also talks about the hard stuff.  He can be an incredibly eloquent speaker and represents what it means to be a citizen of the modern world for new generations. 

One of my favorite songs is Stones, how did that song come about? 

I had written a poem when I was younger that had a line “like stones I hurt when I’m thrown.” 

The rest of the poem was terrible but I took that line and crafted a song around it. I was trying to model the structure of the song after “Teen Age Riot” with this relaxed trance -y beginning and then a guitar explosion in the second half. 

Who would you love to collaborate with and why? 

J Mascis 100 %%% – I feel like I don’t even have to explain why, I am such a fan. 

Also, I think it would be so cool to collaborate with Toro y Moi. I like what he does production wise on his tracks, and I love his melodies — I would even love to just sing on a track.

If you could pick 5-10 songs on a mixtape to get you through the winter, what would you put on it? 

Winter – The Rolling Stones

Spun – Chelsea Wolfe 

A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh – Celtic Frost 

Ray – Daughn Gibson 

Walkaway  – Weaves

I’ll Keep It With Mine – Nico 

Father Christmas- The Kinks

Answering Machine – The Replacements 

Visions of Johanna (Alternate Take) – Bob Dylan 

I’ll Be Your Angel – P.W. Long 

Cherry –  Chromatics 

Check out Alyeska’s Album on Spotify

— photos by Kristy Benjamin @nbdkb

Check out Alyeska on Facebook + Instagram @alyeskaband & @alaskareid

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