We took David, the man behind Summer Heart, to our favorite taco place in Austin (actually he took us, we got lost trying to find it) to sit down with him and get to know him a bit better.
Tell us a little about Summer Heart.
That’s very difficult. It is just something that I… I’ve been doing it for like four or five years, I think. When this started, I didn’t have a band. I have always been in bands, and I didn’t have one and I thought ‘I need to do something’. My dad is a musician as well, and he had some old synths, so I was just playing around with them recording things and you know.
I play the guitar, that is what I do. So synths, I don’t know anything about and a couple of songs came out, I posted them on Soundcloud, some blogs liked them and I was like ‘nice, I am happy that people like what I do’. Then it just picked up from there. I got some tours in Europe and then I made it to America.
One of your songs was on an American TV show?
Yeah, I have had several songs on TV shows actually. One of my songs, I Wanna Go, was on a show called Whitney, and also more recently my song Thinking Of You, that’s been on Teen Wolf and a few other shows. I think that has helped America discover my music. It sounds really stupid, but it has helped.
We listened to some of your music, it is very lo-fi and chill, then you have FEWS. Which is the real David Alexander?
Both. I mean, everyone has loads of different things. My personality, I am not just happy, I can be sad as well. There are multiple sides of who you are, so I guess those two bands are two sides of who I am.
We were almost shocked when we heard the difference.
Yeah, the difference is big. I still want to make the difference bigger. I want FEWS to be over here and Summer Heart to be over here. I think Summer Heart is not similar to FEWS at all, it is more chill and poppy. It sounds much more guitar based and nice live. I actually want to make it more electronic. Some of the early Summer Heart stuff was real electronic, then I went with more guitars and I am a little bit tired of that. I do that with FEWS, so now I want to go back to making poppy synth songs. I love to write music, it is one of my favorite things in my life. I write poetry as well, so I have plenty for lyrics. I use that for inspiration, I read something I wrote and think ‘okay I am going to try to put music to this’.
How do you juggle two bands?
It is quite easy. I think. Or is it? For example, both bands are here at SXSW, so it is simple, Tuesday we play Summer Heart, Wednesday we play FEWS, Friday, Saturday, Summer Heart. That works actually.
Well, it works right now.
Yeah, it works right now. But what will happen if it blows up? That is the question.
Yes, it was my next question.
I see what you mean. I will have to deal with that then. I mean there are plenty of people that are in more than one band. I think. Probably. I don’t know. Give me an example. Someone.
I write a lot when I am on the road. I always have my phone with me, my beautiful phone. (the most cracked, beat up phone we have ever seen) I record loads of voice memos. Like I have an idea for something, a melody or whatever, I record it and for example… when we are touring FEWS, I still do loads of Summer Heart stuff and vice versa. It is always nice to do something else. The ‘I have this, but I want that’ So for me it’s a good thing to have two bands. I easily get tired of things. Sometimes I am like ‘okay so now we’ve recorded this album with FEWS. We recorded an album in December and it will come out in May.’ So I am like ‘okay, I have done that, now I will do a Summer Heart album.’ So I am working on that right now in New York.
And when do you see the new record being released?
Hopefully this autumn, not sure when. I am actually running my own label as well, so I will be releasing Summer Heart stuff myself. It takes a lot of energy to have your own label, so I am not sure when I will release it. We will see.
How exactly do you go about deciding and creating your own label?
You just decide I want to be in control of my own music, lets start a label.
Being in the music business, you just knew what to do?
I had no idea how to start a record label. Unfortunately, the business side of it, the money and that. I hate money, it just fucks things up actually. You know, you have to do tax returns and I don’t know why, I have to do boat loads of boring stuff.
That is why you hire people.
Yeah exactly. Absolutely. Still, when something goes wrong it is still my responsibility, so I am literally paying someone else to fuck my life up.
There are a lot of smaller bands that will produce their own music, or get it out on their own label, and we have just always wondered. I mean, is it just your music you deal with?
No. I am releasing some of my friends bands as well actually, so that is great. I guess I started a label by setting up a Facebook page for it. That made it official (laughs) now it exists. Now I just have to figure out how to get my music on iTunes. Thanks to the internet, you can learn how to do any thing. I guess that is how I learned to play the guitar, how I learned to work the music program I’m working on in my laptop. YouTube! At the same time, to grow a record label you need money, it’s really hard.
As a label, do you have to advance everything? It may be different because it is your friends, but if it were anyone else, wouldn’t you have to advance money?
Well, that depends. We work in the way that we release music because we like it, so we don’t really make anything from my friends bands. We just kind of help them put out the music and they can deal with the money. We don’t pay them anything, but if and when the music actually starts, when someone buys the music, they get the money. I think it is fair, because we don’t have money to pay. I wish we had, that would be amazing. Bigger labels, not all, give you some money in advance and they release your music and then it has to be re-cooped. If it goes well eventually, after a couple of years, you will start earning some money. It’s difficult, the music industry. At the same time, I have to play music, even if the industry is crazy.
As Summer Heart, did you just bring the band over to SXSW because FEWS were playing, or had you actually intended to come?
It was actually a little bit the other way around. FEWS came over because Summer Heart was already planning to be here. Frederick is actually playing with Summer Heart as well, as a live musician. We were one of the first bands that were announced for the festival, so we knew that we were going since about September. FEWS, we just, well, we were already here so ‘lets try to make it work for FEWS as well’.
Do you have any expectations for Summer Heart here at SXSW?
This is actually the second year we played here. We played here last year as well. We played 8 shows last year with Summer Heart, in four days. That was crazy. You meet people. That is what I want to do. Like meet with you guys, and meet other people. That is why I am here. I think it is really difficult to play. SXSW is hard because you just go up on stage, plug-in your stuff and hope for the best. FEWS is a little bit easier to play with here, because its guitars and you can hear the sound coming from the amp. With Summer Heart it’s a computer, samplers, all technical stuff and it has to be worked flawlessly. When you have five minutes to plug everything in, it is difficult, especially when you don’t have enough power for everything. The shows can be a struggle. For me, it is everything around. Meeting people, having fun, drinking beer, seeing other bands. That is what I love at a festival. Even though I never see any bands. I am really glad you called me.
Well last night, we went home, had a bit of vodka.
Did some stalking?
We did stalk you. Heavily. We will admit it.
I think that is great. I love that. It makes me happy. Thank you.
But, we will be honest with you, when we get the SXSW band list, we go through it and listen to bands we want to check out. I am positive we just passed on by your name because it said… electronic… and Sweden.
That is fine. Also I am in the S’s. I should have a band name that starts with the number 10. 10 Summer Hearts. So I will be first in the listing.
What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to music? We won’t judge, we have some pretty questionable music ourselves
I listen to loads of German Electronic music. Very like monotoned beat to music. I love electronic music, especially in Berlin. I think Berlin is one of my favorite cities. Always electronic parties going on. Everywhere. So many good DJ’s, Producers and artists. It is just crazy.
Is Swedish House Mafia actually Swedish? I have always wondered that…
Yeah, they are from Sweden, but I don’t really like them. They are big in Sweden.
So electronic music is big in Sweden?
Electronic music is really big in Sweden yeah
Is that why you want to take Summer Heart more in that direction?
Just because I like it. Also, FEWS os doing more punk stuff. I want to do something on the opposite end of the spectrum, and I like to play around. Summer Heart is my solo project and it is loads of fun to play around with loops and synths. You do a loop and listen to it, turn some knobs and weird stuff happens.
What is your goal?
My goal is to have someone take care of and carry all our stuff
So you don’t care about the fame, about being famous…you just want a roadie?
But at the same time I know when I have that…. I mean, in Europe we have some people that work for us. When we have that, I feel bad because I am not helping them. They are carrying my shit around, that feels wrong to me. It is not that I want to carry my own stuff, its just a weird feeling , some one else taking care of your stuff.
Here especially. We see so many bands pushing their equipment down the street. It must be tiring and frustrating.
That’s why you focus on shows like yesterday. We had so much fun and that was a great show. But we have done terrible shows as well. That happens. You travel a long way, you spend the money and no ones there, everything is bad. That is the downside of it. Then you get a sow like last night, where there are loads of people and everyone is happy. It is so worth it.
Thank you David for such a fun afternoon, and for the great music. <3