We had the good fortune of connecting with Glenn Alexander and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Glenn, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’m way too smart and passionate to be overworked, underpaid or otherwise exploited to make someone else’s dreams come true while never fulfilling my own.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think what makes my art and myself special is that I’m almost completely self-taught in both writing music as well as comping and mixing in a DAW. I basically had one producer homie show me the basics of recording and mixing in Ableton Live in like 2016, and I picked up some other general recording/mixing techniques from sitting in on several sessions another producer friend (shoutout to Dallas and Devin). Aside from the tips, tricks and techniques they’ve shared with me, I had to learn a LOT more through experimentation, trial and error, etc. to figure out how I could apply what I learned from them to my own process. My instincts and approach for melody, sampling, rhythm, and arrangement are definitely unique to me, but Dallas and Devin definitely helped me channel and harness these things so they don’t sound trash when I bring them to life.
One of my biggest obstacles in my music career was pressure from family to take a more traditional career path (i.e. going to college, getting a 9-5, etc.). When I got out of college and realized my degree meant nothing in terms of securing a job I didn’t hate, I definitely felt like I had wasted 4 years of my life to make other people happy without any fulfillment of my own or anything to show for it other than my family “being proud.” During my second year of college I bought a Yamaha MOX6 to seriously learn how to make beats and mess with chords on a keyboard. I made my first like 8 beat loops on there and while the melodies were kinda cool, the drum work was pretty basic because the keyboard didn’t have a lot of capability as far as comping intricate drum patterns—or at least it wasn’t super efficient. Eventually, some of my fellow musician friends put me onto a cracked version of Logic Pro X where I taught myself how to arrange (but not mix) the loops I’d been making with the MOX. My third year in school I bought an Akai MPC Studio to learn the basics of drum pad sampling and comping. I was doing and learning all this stuff about music production as I’m pursuing a degree in Japanese and working part time which made it all the more challenging to stay consistent and really make progress.
Once I got my degree, I started bussing and serving tables at a restaurant in downtown Atlanta (cause my degree got me nowhere) while continuing my music production “education.” 2016 is when I started hanging with Dallas and the other homies who ran a casual indie label/click (illectric Gold) to really sharpen my skills and learn as much as I could. Dallas put me on Ableton and I ended up loving it way more than Logic, and stuck to it from there.
Between 2016 and 2020, a lot of tough stuff happened: doubts, depression, relationship strains, financial instability—life stuff. Things would get especially dark in 2020 when I got laid off from a desk job that I had worked for a year due to covid, and months later I would lose partial mobility in my left pinky due to nerve damage from an accident. This was especially devastating for a guitar player of over 15 years. I was ready to give up. Nothing was going well. I felt myself stagnate creatively and slipped into a very deep depression that I probably would not have survived without my wife, Irian. I’ve struggled with depression disorder since I was about 8 or 9 but this was one of the roughest bouts of it I’d ever experienced. I felt worthless and like dying would lift a burden from the people around me.
But I stuck around. First for my wife, but eventually for me too. I started working on my album again and even started laying down new guitar, bass, and drum elements to super old songs/beats that I thought I couldn’t do more with. I could still play lead guitar licks and some chord progressions that didn’t require a fourth finger. I had gotten some of my inspiration back and it was translating really well to my album, Blue Dreams, which is a producer’s LP that I’m still currently working on. I’m really excited for Blue Dreams because it captures and refines some of my best musical ideas from this era in my life (2016-2021). It features a roster of 12 (maybe more) vocal artists who’ve encouraged and supported my work over the years plus some special guests that have done the same without directly participating in the music.
In late 2021 I lost one of my best friends, Travis Anthony Rust, to a tragic motorcycle accident. Travis was one of the most alive people I’d ever known or met, and he taught me a lot in the few years in which we grew very close. Travis was one of the biggest sources of motivation for me to always want and do better for myself in life. In early 2021 I had started training with him (he was a fitness instructor and American Ninja Warrior contestant) to get myself into shape, and told him i was gathering voice memos/messages from friends and family who wanted to offer words of encouragement while I was completing my album. The message Travis recorded for me was so powerful, and its power/gravity multiplied 100-fold when he passed just a month after coming to my birthday party at our new house. This was another devastating blow to my psyche, but my grief, as crippling as it still feels at times, inspired me to dedicate an entirely new intro on my album to him so that if anyone ever cares about who I am as a creative they’ll get insight on the kind of human my brother was and the kind of people I love and keep close to my heart—because my story definitely isn’t just my own. It took a lot of special, loving, & compassionate individuals for me to survive what I have, and I hope that San Studios will be my pathway to doing the same for other artists in my community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Atlanta is a very diverse and spread-out city so it really depends on the person and “part” of Atlanta they want to see. For me personally, Edgewood, Castleberry, and East Atlanta are the best places to go for night life or intimate music/creative events. For food, I’d probably take them to Buford Highway, Ponce City Market, Marietta Square, and maybe Buckhead/Paces/Vinings if they wanna get extra bougie with it. I’m not a big drinker, so if they were tryna get lit I’d have to get a recommendation for a good spot from the homies. I’d probably take them to one of my friends’ shows too if they were performing honestly. For more fun I’d probably take them to Cartridge ATL for an above-average Wednesday night.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my parents for raising a neurodynamic and creative black child that didn’t (and still doesn’t) always wanna be here.
Shoutout to my partner, Irian, who has shown me compassion and understanding I never thought possible for me from others.
Shoutout to anyone who donated to my GoFundMe or referred an artist to San Studios to help me get a start.
Shoutout to all my musical/creative heroes (too many to list).
Scrill Davis, Johnny Healthy