Alexander East is that rare renaissance man in this scene – spinning records, singing on them, a master of a half dozen different instruments (and probably more). Born in Brooklyn, he’s done an amazing job in recent years representing the Minneapolis scene.
Alexander is bringing his latest project, Urban Camouflage, to Darkroom in Chicago this Saturday, December 11th as part of Soul Foundation’s monthly residency alongside James Anthony with DJ sets from Brian Gardner and John Simmons. I had a chance to have a brief chat with him ahead of the date. He also has a new single, “Supposed 2 Be”, in promo release now on 3345 Music; Mazi (who features Alexander East on his Hip Shake Heartache album – contributes an Audio Soul Project remix.
So I first heard about you as a producer, then probably as a DJ, then as a musician, and finally as a vocalist. Do you find that people familiar with your music still don’t know all of what you can do?
When performing live, I do notice a majority of people not realizing I am singing and/or playing a musical instrument. I strive not to draw attention to myself when i perform because I want the focus to be on the music.
From what I understand you’re totally self-taught. What came first and what can’t you do that you think you might want to pick up next?
I began at 5 years old playing percussions and organ. At 10, I started to learn music theory by playing violin in my school. It would be nice to know how to play trumpet and/or saxophone.
Tell me about Urban Camouflage. Is this a touring group, or a production group that’s able to play live shows?
Urban Camouflage is both a production group and touring group starring DJ James Anthony deejaying and myself performing live music and vocals.
Our first show performing together was a year ago in Portland, Oregon at Groove Suite. We are excited to bring what we do to Chicago!
Your track with Jay-J, “Higher Ground”, seems to me to be one of those hidden gems that still kicks serious ass 7 years later. Are there any cuts from your catalog that you dust off and think, “someday, someone digging through a crate is gonna have a great surprise waiting for him”?
First of all, thank you for the compliment on “Higher Ground”. I can only hope that people would consider tracks I have done in the past a good surprise
Urban Camouflage is playing at Darkroom here in Chicago on December 11th. What can people expect to see, hear, experience?
I will be singing and playing guitar and keys while James Anthony spin the tracks. Come expecting to dance all night while we do what we do