There’s something both admirable and delicate about recording from your bedroom. The sound is more delicate and may be a little rough around the edges, but the bedroom is also a special, rather untouchable, space. It is where we lock up our nightmares, where we unpack our complicated emotions, and the sanctuary for our art. For Alex Behrens, it’s where he sorted through his mind to create “Cobra Hold”.
Only his second song (his first being “Fourteen”), the track is incredibly cool, making you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from Black Mirror episode “San Junipero.” Behrens’ talents shine through, and his velvety vocals quickly envelop us as he leads us through the foggy unknown.
Read on to learn about Alex talking to strangers, his fascination with Toro Y Moi, and the story behind the saxophone boy stock photo.
What’s your background with music?
I’ve been interested in music (especially making it) for as long as I can remember. Performing too. My parents tell me I used to approach strangers asking if they’d like to hear me sing Backstreet Boys. I 100% would have pushed me over. But my parents listened to a lot of great music while I was growing up, and that’s when I really started to care about it.
My brother and I used to make these ridiculous songs on my mom’s old computer. One year we burned them all onto a CD and gave them out as Christmas gifts to our family. I think that’s why I’m so interested in sampling now (though I didn’t know there was a name for it at the time) because most of the time we were just fitting loops together and singing over them.
I was really fortunate to go to a high school with a really great music department. That’s where I learned most of what I know about music. I was in chamber chorus and all the musicals. But yeah, my interest in making my own music started way before that, strangely enough.
The lyrics for Cobra Hold are incredibly mysterious, but also really poetic. Is there a story behind them?
I can’t really point to one experience and say “I wrote the song about that.” A lot of it is really personal, but some of it even I can’t pin down. While I pack a lot of myself into the lyrics I write, sometimes it just has to do with the way the words sound beside each other and the feeling that comes from that. “Mediocre overcoat” doesn’t exactly mean anything to me; I just love the weird feeling of those words together.
And on the note of lyrics, your language use is fantastic, especially when you say “All the faces I could hold / It was nice to meet you”. Are there any writers that you’re especially inspired by?
I’ve been really influenced by Chaz Bundick (Toro y Moi)’s lyrics. There’s so much heart in the way he writes, but he’s never too wordy. It seems effortless. On an album like Causers of This, the songs aren’t necessarily about the words, but the lyrics still feel essential to the song. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all.
Same goes for Sufjan Stevens, he can be so abstract but there’s always so much honesty to it. I think he could sing anything and it’d still make me cry.
What musicians do you think you are influenced most by?
I grew up on Howard Jones and Supertramp and Phil Collins because of my dad, and I don’t think I realized how heavily I was influenced by them until I started making my own music. There’s something about Howard Jones’ melodies that just stick with me and I find myself constantly trying to replicate that.
I love the Beach Boys. And Steely Dan. I’ve been listening to a lot of funk recently, groups like Banda Black Rio and the Stovall Sisters. I’ve also been really into Vaporwave these past few years, and I think that’s had a huge effect on my music.
This is a really great song, and a really fresh take on where pop is going. Do you have plans to release more music?
I’m working on an EP now that I hope to release sometime in these next few months. I just want to make sure I’m doing all this right. I’m not going to rush anything just to get it out, if I’m making something I want to put all I’ve got into it.
I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself here. I get really frustrated when I see small bands starting to take themselves too seriously, it sucks the fun out of it. “100 Likes on this post and we’ll release our new single! Type in the code VERYHIPANDCOOL before checking out to get a 20% discount on your order !!!” It’s very annoying to me. Just be real, be a human. I’m just making the music I like, and I’m really psyched that people are listening.
The question everyone wants to know: Why a stock photo of a boy playing saxophone?
That Gentle Boy represents all I aspire to be: Sweet Funky and Free !!
Keep up with Alex here.