Alexander Saint is a storyteller born and raised in Toronto, that tells about loss, love, and loss of love. As an alt-rock artist with a bit of soul, Alexander is a multi-instrumentalist who explores different musical worlds, using contemplative melodies and sounds. After his first album, Alexander returns with a new project through which he wants to explore our innermost dimensions and the deepest parts of our souls. In his latest single “What you need”, he wanted to tell about his ex, but not with nostalgic tones as we might imagine, but with images that move from horror movies. With his song, Alexander takes us to the open sea, taken by spasms against a persistent passion that actually keeps us tied to a boat that is sinking. the song ends with the awareness that the person we care about and loved will never come back to save us…
YMX: Hey ALEXANDER SAINT, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
ALEXANDER SAINT: To be honest, pretty good! I’ve described this year as being “the best and worst year of my life”. Normally as a working bassist in Toronto, all of my gigs have been either cancelled or postponed. This has left me with a lot of time to focus on myself as a person, and as an artist. I’ve been able to create all this amazing new music, starting with the last single “The Light”, and hone in on my craft of songwriting and production. I miss playing live and seeing a lot of my friends, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more productive. I’ve also been building charcuterie boards!
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
ALEXANDER SAINT: Music was always around in my family. My Dad is a talented singer who loves a lot of classic R&B such as Earth, Wind and Fire, The Gap Band, Prince and Michael Jackson. My Mom also loves music, showing me my all time favourite band The Beatles. Both really fostered my love of music, but never pushed me to do it. I didn’t really start taking it seriously until I picked up bass guitar when I was about 16. I’ve always been a songwriter at heart though, my Mom still shows me poems and lyrics I wrote when I was 8. Maybe I should make some new songs out of them haha
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
ALEXANDER SAINT: The Beatles – I mean… who doesn’t like The Beatles? They have something for everyone, and really informed me how you can write a song and convey emotions to people through great storytelling. From Eleanor Rigby to Help! to Come Together they were constantly breaking the mould, but also could stay in it! They knew how to create something so beautiful using every colour in the box.
James Blake – I’m a huge James Blake fan. Whatever he puts out, I’ll listen to it. He to me is a true artist, in the sense that there’s no one like him, and only he can do what he does. The way he utilizes space, both in his music and lyrics, is really captivating. My favourite song of his right now is I’ll Come Too off of Assume Form.
Honestly, there’s a lot of local Toronto artists I want to shout out for the last one, these people keep inspiring me to grow and get better. Alex Laurie, KC Roberts, Kyla Charter, Kitsuna, Charlotte Day Wilson, River Tiber, Justin Nozuka, Dame Electric (sick duo with Kirt Godwin & Gracie Ella), SATE, the OBGMs, Meagan De Lima, Tafari Anthony, Mohsin Zaman, Danielle Knoll and many many more. I’d go check out all of these people, you won’t regret it.
YMX: You recently released WHAT YOU NEED. Can you tell us how that project came about?
ALEXANDER SAINT: It’s one of the first songs I started writing under Alexander Saint. It started as some bass chords I had on a loop, then evolved into this swimming feeling I had for one of my ex-girlfriends. I wanted to tell it through the lens of a B-horror movie, equal parts creepy and chaotic. I want people to feel like they’re stranded out at sea, lost to old throes of a lingering passion that keeps them tethered to a sinking boat, like the curse of a siren. Then final the realization that the person I cared about doesn’t feel the same anymore, and isn’t coming back to save me.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
ALEXANDER SAINT: It didn’t really change how I recorded/created music. I mostly make music from my home studio in Toronto. What I found though is that I started doing a a lot more writing sessions via zoom with other artists than I’ve done before, which was an adjustment, but very fun! It’s funny how a pandemic brings you closer to people.
YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
ALEXANDER SAINT: I’ve already done a lot of them haha It is a little strange not having people in a room with you, but also freeing because you can be anywhere in the world and hear me play. I can’t wait to get back to playing live shows, but like any change in life, you learn how to adapt so you can keep creating and connecting people with your music.
YMX: Since the pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
ALEXANDER SAINT: It’s very important. With the loss of live shows, we need online promotion to keep our music relevant in these times. Artists have to make sure their content is together at least a month before release. By content I mean press photos, videos, clips, pre-saves on Spotify/pre-adds on Apple music etc. Have a proper 3 month plan so you can strategize accordingly. I’d also highly recommend learning how Facebook and Google Ads work. I took a couple of courses, and am currently working with marketers to understand what my target audience is, who views my content, and who I should be focusing on. That way when you spend money, you’re not wasting it by just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. And don’t be discouraged! It takes a bit of time to understand your brand (yes, you are a brand), nothing happens overnight. Just trust yourself, your music, and don’t be afraid to grow.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
ALEXANDER SAINT: After the release of What You Need on November 20th, I’m planning to create another live video utilizing my live looping setup. We’re going to do it in one shot, no edits, so hopefully I get it right! After that, releasing my first EP in Spring 2021. Then I would love to go on tour and see all your faces and share some music. Here’s hoping!