Sunday, August 11, 2013

Interview: Alex Sheridan

It's always exciting when someone from your hometown makes something of themselves. In this case, Alex Sheridan of Marion, Ohio has created a hip-hop album which reached number seventy-seven in the iTunes charts. But beyond that, it's a great album, featuring contributions from local artists to big names such as Skee-Lo.

To find out more about the album, Heartbeats, I asked Alex Sheridan a few questions.

Alex Sheridan
No More Blood From a Clone: How would you describe your music?

Alex Sheridan: Hmm...That's difficult for me. It's pretty eclectic, so I have a hard time giving it a broad description. How about "eclectic-hop"?

NMBFC: Heartbeats contains elements of several musical genres. What artists influenced you growing up? Who are some of your favorite artists now?

Alex Sheridan: As a kid I loved Billy Joel, Queen, Hanson (shut up), Third Eye Blind, and Savage Garden. Nowadays, I still listen to all of the classics, but I try to keep my ear to what's hot at the moment, so I know what to play as I'm DJ'ing.

NMBFC: When did you decide that you wanted to do music as a career?

Alex Sheridan: There was never really a specific moment that I made a conscious decision to pursue music full time. I had done it for quite a while as a hobby, through high school and college years, as I was going to school to become a teacher. I got a job teaching, but maintained the music on the side. As that continued to grow, it allowed me the opportunity to get out of teaching and go into music full time. It all just worked out for me and sort of fell into my lap. Luckily, too, because I don't think I would have been brave enough to leap blindly into this.

NMBFC: Do you have a favorite track or track you are the proudest of on Heartbeats? Is there a song that you feel best represents the kind of music you’d like to produce in the future?

Alex Sheridan: I have a lot of favorites. As a whole, it's probably "Muddy Shoes." The production on that track is just so good. Lyrically, I really like the last verse in "We All Fall Down." The title track, "Heartbeats" is most indicative of what you can expect in the future. I started on most of the songs years ago, but Heartbeats just came around a few months ago. I'm way more comfortable flowing over that track than the others.

NMBFC: If I understand correctly, Heartbeats was made over the course of six years. How have you grown as an artist since the inception of Heartbeats?

Alex Sheridan: That's right. There are a whole lot of reasons that it took so long: life, computer crashes, perfectionism (the best and worst thing ever). I've definitely grown both as a person and as an artist. I've never had any musical training or formally learned how to mix, produce, etc. Most of my knowledge just came from trial and error, figuring things out the hard way, and creating my own ways of getting things done. Now that I have a good part of that under my belt, I'm hoping to crank out the next project within a year or so.

NMBFC: Your album cover is a powerful image. Can you explain how that photo came about?

Alex Sheridan: One of my buddies told me about this old abandoned building in Marion County. We went to check it out and it was an absolute a mess. A perfectly photogenic mess. I talked a couple of my friends into bringing their son there, and asked Kristian Irey - an amazing local photographer - to take some pictures of him for the album art. She just went to work doing her thing. Going into the shoot, the picture on the back of the album was actually intended to be the cover art, but I couldn't get past the simplicity and hope portrayed in the one we chose instead.

NMBFC: My favorite track is “Say You Gotta Man," which features female rapper Anca, who has a sound not dissimilar to the better works of Nicki Minaj. Anca is from Jacksonville, Florida, how did you become associated with her?

Alex Sheridan: Thanks! This is kind of dumb...I really wanted a female rapper on that song, but didn't know any good ones at the time, so I scoured MySpace Music pages for days looking for someone dope. As soon as I found her, I knew I could call the search off. She's ridiculously good. I don't even think she knows that story actually.


NMBFC: How did the video for “F.I.N.E.” come about?

Alex Sheridan: I spend a lot of time online. Browsing the web, using StumbleUpon, etc. I get so much inspiration from things that I find, for music, art, businesses, learning...everything. Anyway, one day I came across a claymation video done by this Polish artist, Tomasz Pudelko. I saw it and became obsessed with his style. I hit him up, sent him the song and a couple months and a few thousand pictures later, the video was complete. He came up with the concept and everything. That man is the real deal.

NMBFC: “Muddy Shoes” is quite empowering. What can you tell us about that one?

Alex Sheridan: Thanks! I love the swampy feel of it. That was one of the tracks that took their sweet old time. The hook has been consistent since it's conception, but I probably have a good 50 different versions of that song on my computer. Every couple of months I would add a new part to it, mix in some new instruments, have some harmonies added, take some parts out, etc. I always knew that song had a lot of potential, so I really took my time with it. There are still some things that I wish I could improve on with that song, but it got to a point where I just had to wash my hands and put the project out, or else I would drive myself mad, and no one would ever hear any of these songs.

NMBFC: There are a lot of children’s voices on the album. Who are they?

Alex Sheridan: "Ardy" features my buddy's niece and nephew, Alecea & Kyron Rucks. For "We All Fall Down" - this is both confusing and creepy sounding; I went to school for a year up at Bowling Green. There was a family there that sort of "adopted" college students. Invited them into their house for home cooked meals, gave them support, and all of that good stuff. One of the people I became friends with up there, was "adopted" by a family who had literally adopted three little kids. My friend acted as a middle man and convinced this super nice family to bring their three children into the apartment bedroom (where I had all of my stuff set up) of a college student to record stuff. They had the voices of angels.

NMBFC: “We All Fall Down” seems like a perfect closing track. Was that always the closer or did you have another song in mind originally?

Alex Sheridan: It wasn't originally intended to end the album. I was planning on ending the album with "On Top of the World", but it led into "A Little More Hip Hop" way too perfectly to not use that transition. After I decided to end it with "We All Fall Down," I added the false ending to the album and that last little surprise scratching part just as something fun.

NMBFC: Obviously this album has been fairly successful, but are you more concerned with making money from this album, or just building a fanbase?

Alex Sheridan: With this album, making money on it is nice, but right now I'm more concerned with getting people to hear it. I've spent so much time on this project and am so proud of it, I just want the world to hear it.

NMBFC: So, what now?

Alex Sheridan: The plan is to continue promoting Heartbeats for the next couple of months. We're putting a band together to do shows with, so it's not just some awkward rapper standing in front of a boombox. I'm hoping to keep the momentum up until I drop my next project in about a year. We already have 5 or 6 songs halfway done for that album. It already dwarfs Heartbeats. I can't wait to get it out there!

NMBFC: Thanks!

If you'd like to check out Heartbeats, it can be purchased on iTunes or Amazon. Or for a physical copy of the CD, you can order at

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