Alex Burey is a 19-year-old producer, songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist from South London. His unique musical background has led to an expressive, enthralling and extraordinary style that reshapes the music of countless left-field influences – from Aphex Twin to Shuggie Otis and Pink Floyd to Outkast – and shades it with stories from the fringes of London life.
Burey started playing the piano when he was seven. His classical training led him to write songs on the piano as a young child before moving on to learn guitar and bass. Once at school he soon turned his attention to grime music. “Loads of people in the area were MCs but no one was making the music” he remembers. So he taught himself how to use software starting with a mixer his Dad had brought home to fix up lights for a Halloween party. Soon his house became the local studio as “all these 17-year-old MCs, rowdy guys, would come around to the house.” He remembers some of the local upcoming rappers having to hide their dogs in Just Do It bags – his parents house was a dog-free zone – while Alex, aged 11, played the Rick Rubin of Sanderstead, a random village outside Croydon.
Today Alex works in a self-made studio at the end of his parent’s garden, often making music in there all through the night, emerging only when the sun comes up. “When I’m feeling happy I can work all day and all night, I don’t have a time zone” he explains.
You can particularly hear the Californian warmth and sun-kissed soul of key influence Shuggie Otis in Alex’s style, but his inspirations are wide-ranging and eclectic. He draws from 60s/70s psychedelia and the production and lyrics of Pink Floyd but also the focused, tight production of Aphex Twin (he listened almost exclusively to ‘Selected Ambient Works Volume II’ for two years in his mid-teens). He’s a long-time fan of legendary Chess Records affiliate Charles Stepney, particularly the ‘Rotary Connection’ album, and also cites the grand, overwhelming production on Scott Walker’s records. Dr John and The Lovin’ Spoonful are key too as well as the avant-garde Art Of Noise’s ‘The Seduction Of Claude Debussy’ and the jokey wit of Devendra Banhart and André 3000.
If there’s one thing that makes Alex stand out from his contemporaries it’s his artful skill at creating music that brims with reveries of warmth and comfort twinned with an honest expression of human experience. “I always aim for my music to be comforting” he says. You can hear that promise in the warm synths and sequenced sounds he employs: the bird caws, the sunrise horns, the hazy, sun-blushed production filters and the gorgeous, layered harmonies that hang effortlessly in the breeze.
Alex’s debut four-track EP will be released on January 26th 2015. Listen to “Inside World and “Unspoken” below.
‘Inside World’ EP Tracklisting:
Dome Creed / Amen / Inside World / The Intimidator