A SOFT SPOT FOR
CAPTURED TRACKS' ALEX CALDER
By Juliann McCandless
Photos by Matt Atkinstall
Alex Calder is a 24-year-old musician originally from Edmonton, Alberta and currently living in Montreal, a city that’s shown to nurture young creatives. He found his beginnings alongside Mac DeMarco (another Edmonton native) in Makeout Videotape and is now signed to Brooklyn-based Captured Tracks. Keep an eye out for his debut full-length record, dropping early this year.
Tell me about Edmonton. I have this idea that there are a lot of talented individuals who come out of there. Why do you think that is?
I'm not really sure. I guess the obvious answer is that it's a really boring and cold place most of the time, so people become a lot more creative with their spare time. But you definitely can't survive doing music in Edmonton. It breeds awesome stuff, but everybody moves away, because it's just too secluded.
You’re in Montreal now – how do you think the city’s been conducive to your career?
I like Montreal a lot right now. There's really cool music going on here. It really helps when you meet like-minded people who enjoy recording music and playing shows in the same way that you do. I think it's good for my music career at this point, because the cost of living is so insanely dirt-cheap. You pretty much never need to have a real job.
You used to live in Vancouver as well. Canada’s East Coast versus West Coast – what do you think?
I really like Vancouver. It was just too expensive for me to live there. Also, all of my friends have moved to Montreal, so the obvious choice for me is the East Coast. The only thing that would make me want to live in Vancouver again is the insane amount of pinball that is there.
How long have you been playing music for? What got you into it?
I've been playing music for a lot of my life. I grew up taking guitar and thought I maybe wanted to go on to school to do it, but realized it wasn't for me. I guess I was also just born into it, with a musical family and friends.
Tell us about your experience with Makeout Videotape.
It was a lot of fun. I had a lot of good times playing with Mac Demarco and being really gross and dirty and poor all over the country.
How do you like touring?
Touring is great. I really enjoy it. You get really used to it about a week and a half in. The first bit kind of sucks, because you think you're going to be really exhausted the whole time, but once you get into it, it's great.
Have you had any other jobs other than music?
I've had plenty.
Oh, lots of dishwashing jobs and other crappy work.
We hear your mom owns a thrift store. Do you have mad hook ups? What’s the best thing you’ve gotten from her store?
Yeah, she does. I used to find a lot of my clothes and also sell them there. I also worked at the store for about four years, so I take back that last question about crappy work, because it was awesome.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Stereolab is one of my all time favorite bands. One day, I would love to be able to play guitar in a band like that. Lots of other stuff though – The Beatles, Pavement, Women, Arthur Russell, Yo La Tengo, Panda Bear, Deerhunter…I could go on forever.
Who do you like to listen to when you’re not recording or playing yourself?
A lot of the bands I just previously mentioned. I never get tired of hearing Beatles songs. I'm also really into a guy named Bobby Conn right now. I really love his albums.
Tell us about Suki?
Suki is actually a pet cat I had as a kid. She was extremely fat and chewed a lot of her fur out.
What’s your next year looking like? What are you most excited about on the horizon?
For now, just finishing up a full-length album. I feel like it's pretty much done…not really sure when it's going to come out, hopefully early next year – and then touring around for it in the spring.