Strawberry Guy chats to GigList about the origins of his band name - inspired by fellow Liverpool band Her's and his time on tour with music buddies The Orielles.
Liverpool is producing some of the most exciting new musical artists in the UK right now, with Her's and Pizzagirl amongst others putting the indie spotlight on the city. We featured Liverpool native, Alex Stephens aka Strawberry Guy back in May as part of our Lo-Fi Listens playlist with his excellent woozy dream pop single 'Without You'. Since then the track has gone on to have nearly 700,000 plays on YouTube which is amazingly impressive for a self-release, without the PR and label machine behind it.
Moonlighting as a live keyboard player for The Orielles, Stephens has been getting a taste for tour-life and is gearing up to take Strawberry Guy live - watch this space! With many more unreleased tracks and a forthcoming EP release on the horizon, we're really excited to hear more music and watch Strawberry Guy bloom. Strawberry Guy is for fans of Beach House, Tame Impala and Yellow Days. Read our chat below.
GL:So you’re working with The Orielles at the moment, how did that come about? Strawberry Guy: Well, I met the drummer Sid, through the Liverpool music scene as we had a lot of mutuals. We became good friends last year and through her I became closer with Es and Henry so when they needed a keyboard player they just asked! It’s been amazing to work with people I get on so well with and nothing is forced, it just all clicks. It’s been great touring and playing festivals with them and I can’t wait to play more! We just have too much fun haha.
GL:When, where and how did you start making music? Strawberry Guy: I started playing piano when I was four believe it or not! I had classical lessons but then got into writing music... I wrote my first song when I was about 14. I grew up in Wales and my parents have this beautiful piano that I used to write on before I got my own synths and keyboards. I play it every time I go back and visit!
GL: Are you a band or a solo artist? Strawberry Guy: Solo artist baby! I used to have an old band called Plain Vanilla but as I wrote all of the songs pretty much I eventually decided to be a lone berry. I record and write all the songs by myself, so it just made sense for me to be a loner.
GL: What is the Liverpool music scene like? Strawberry Guy: It’s good! I love it. It’s certainly not ‘too cool fo school’ either. Liverpool bands to look out for… Her’s, Hannah’s Little Sister, Seatbelts, Beach Skulls, Bill Nickson, Danye, Brad Stank, Hannah and the Wick Effect.
GL: Do you think location influences music making and the songwriting process? Strawberry Guy: Maybe! I only really write in two different places, Liverpool and Wales. I take trips to visit my parents sometimes in rural Wales and it’s a really good place to just lock yourself up for a week and write. However, I’d love to have a writing trip sometime and visit places around the world and see if it affects my style more...
GL: Where did your band name come from? Strawberry Guy: Haha... I think I’ll be honest here. I was at a festival with the Her’s guys and Audun the bassist asked me what my favourite drink was and I replied with ‘Strawberry Milkshake’ and he responded with ‘Strawberry Guy’. I really liked it, as you can probably tell. I think it suits my ‘sweet’ sound and character also I guess.
GL: How would you describe your sound? Strawberry Guy: Hmm, I guess I’m trying to make synths sound natural really. When I tell people I play synths they often think I write techno music or electronic music or something haha... So I guess I’m trying to escape that (even though I love some electronic music!). I want to mix natural and electronic sounds, but overall I guess my sound is sweetness with a touch of heartache.
GL: We loved your single 'Without You', totally reminded us of Beach House - tell us a bit about how you recorded and released this track? Strawberry Guy: Thank you! I recorded it in my room, I record all of my tracks in my room. I like having control over the production of my tracks. I wrote the chords on piano and then started writing the lyrics and vocal melody when I took it to my synth. It was lovely to hear the track fully grow in my room with all the other instruments. It also makes the whole recording experience feel a lot more intimate to me, just me and the music. As for releasing it, I just put it out willy nilly on soundcloud and it got a lot more listens than I expected... So then decided to release it officially on all the streaming platforms!
GL: Strawberry Guy fans have been making videos on YouTube for your tracks. Are you hoping to make some music videos in the future? Strawberry Guy: Ahh, some of the videos are great! There’s an especially good one for ‘F Song’ on youtube.. I’m not sure if I can top the fans videos, so I might just leave it for them to make the videos... Haha
GL: Well, the single is great, evidenced by the amount of blog love, Spotify and YouTube plays, future plans? Strawberry Guy: Well currently, I have a lot of songs I’m ready to release. I’m very excited about one in particular... I would quite like to put together a little EP at some point next year also. And, I actually haven’t played a gig yet as Strawberry guy so I will certainly be gigging soon!
GL: What are you listening to at the moment? Strawberry Guy: Hmm, a big mix of things! Erykah Badu, Orange Juice, Hailu Mergia, Louis Prima, Stereolab to name a few! Here’s a playlist to some of my favourites!
GL: Tell us about the best places to hang out in Liverpool? Strawberry Guy: The Kazimier Garden is a personal favourite of mine, cool music, cool outdoor vibe. The Grapes is great also! The Reeds on London Road was another favourite but it, unfortunately, shut down a couple of weeks ago... To be honest I don’t really hang out much out in Liverpool, it’s mainly at friends houses for parties!
GL: Describe an average Friday night in Liverpool? Strawberry Guy: Unless I’m busy with music, I’m usually out drinking at The Grapes or The Kaz, and then we drink maybe a little too much and decide to have a party at a friends house or my house... mwahahah
GL: What live acts are you liking right now? Strawberry Guy: DUDS, Lylo, Avi Buffalo, Halo Maud and Her’s! There’s my top five for ya!
GL: Who would you like to support in the future? Strawberry Guy: I would love to support Michael Franks, that’d be a dream.
For the latest updates on Strawberry Guy, see here.