dialogue with treehouse artists
i sat down with alexander wren under a streetlight in a parking lot after a nightlight session in nashville, tn. i had just heard his music for the first time, and i had to ask him if he would do an interview. his music has a soul decades beyond his age, and it is clear why once i've asked him the interview questions.
he sat on an amp, i sat on the edge of my passenger seat in my car, trying to charge my phone so i could record the interview. it seemed to fit.
i began at the beginning. who is he, and what makes him that way?
there's a moment as that sinks in.
"oh my gosh! i didn't know i was signing up for this!" he laughs.
"i'm alex wren or alexander wren i go by. i moved to nashville 5 years ago. i'm 22 years old. i'm an indie artist and i've been banging my head against the wall for 5 years trying to figure it out. i'm from indiana. midwest boy. definitely some angst there.
i'm always having this never-ending existential search for what is real. That is probably the theme for a lot of my music. questions more than answers."
he's worried that was the wrong answer. but the best part of these interviews is that there is no wrong answer. i ask the next question.
what do you see music's role in society to be?
"i mean it depends on who you are, i think. for me, i mean what i hope to do, i feel like why i do music is i feel like its role is healing, and not necessarily in a music-therapy-degree sort of way, but i feel like if i hadn't had the records from my favorite artists these past few years, i would have been stuck in indiana. even though i feel like while there is a love/hate relationship, in the end, music has carried me, and is what carries people through even on a subconscious level on dark, cold, or even very joyous moments. that's what i think it's all about, or what the role should be, at least.
if you're younger self could give you advice, what would they say?
this throws him. it takes a few moments to put an answer together.
"i think if my younger self could give me advice, it would be... "
he's still thinking.
"i'm trying to articulate it!"
"i think if my younger self could give me advice, and this is a little bit cliche you know, but i think it would be to always remember why you do what you do. kind of 'what gets you out of bed in the morning and what keeps you up at night?' because i feel like it's so easy to just be going throughout your days, music, not music, anything. and just kind of do it and not really know why. always know the why."
what's the one question that you hoped i would ask, and what is the answer to that question?
he reflects on this for a while. several moments go by, and i remind him there are no wrong answers. but he struggles with this one and asks if it is a cop-out to talk about musician stuff.
as this is an article about a musician, it is not!
"i feel like one thing maybe that we don't talk about or one thing i don't hear as much among creatives is like questions centered around the song. because i feel like so much of what i do in my music and my artistry is song-centered, and i just - that's why i moved to nasvhille and why i love it here. i like see myself as a writer. and i feel like nashville is a very good place to be a steward of writing. devoting yourself and just figuring out the craft of songwriting.
i just feel like where some people or most people can out sing me or most people can outplay me or out theorize me when it comes to music, but i feel like maybe my value to the arts is just the simplicity of the song. i guess i'm just trying to - i'm always searching for the song. you know what i mean?"
i ask if there is a question i would ask that would lead him to the song.
he reflects on this. the song is more the answer than the question. but we never arrived at the question.
what is the imprint that you hope to leave in the world?
he reflects on this. it's literally what he asks himself every day.
"i feel like, you know, as far as music is concerned, i feel like the punchline if you will, of what i want to do, and the imprint that i want to leave is, i guess leans into what i said earlier: bringing people back to the song. and not necessarily the artist, not necessarily the production, but bring people back to the bare bones of just-- in 200 years when we're all dead, in 100 years when we're all dead when no one remembers my name, is there still the vessel? is there still the song that can still be sung? that can still be performed?
so i think that's like, musically, that. and another thing i'm still trying to figure out, but another thing i really want to lean into, is really learning the line between what is music's relation to the arts and fine art. i feel like just music and art can be compartmentalized 'you can do this but you can't do this' and i feel like trying to figure out how to think differently and trying to open up people's mind as far as experiencing music and how that relates to the arts. i'm not far along on that one.
i'm further along on the song thing."
in the end, it's all really a work in progress... and that's ok.