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Interview With Hellothisisalex

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Hellothisisalex is the Canadian duo of Melissa and Mark.  I was fortunate enough to discover their music a few months ago, and I have been consistently impressed by their catchy, fun brand of instrumental electronic music.  They are a very interesting and talented musical outfit with an intriguing story.  I recently spoke to Mark about the duo's sound and their illustrious history....


Click here to listen to the music of Hellothisisalex


1.  Please tell us about the formation of Hellothisisalex.  How did you guys meet?

We met through mutual acquaintances while we were still in high school—we even played together in concert and jazz bands.  We didn’t start making music together right away, though, that happened two or three years later. All said and done, we’ve been making music together for about ten years.
2. How would you describe your music?
We most frequently trot out the term instrumental electro-pop.  We are unabashedly electronic and unabashedly pop.
3.  You describe your music on your MySpace page as “non-linear”.  There seems to be a very fluid, organic quality to the music.  Are many of the songs created through improvisation?
They are—we’ll play around with sounds and patterns for a while, trying to draw out the most complementary sounds and phrases, and then we’ll try out a basic arrangement.  Once that’s in place, we’ll usually record what we have so far and just mess around on top of the recording.  Eventually, something more concrete forms, but it takes an awful lot of improvisation to get there.  For the past couple of years, this has usually meant one of us improvising at a time while the other is out of the room.
4.  What gear do you use?
We have a pair of Korg Electribes (ER-1 & EA-1) that we use for
percussion, bass and lead.  We round them out by blasting an Akai AX60, a Korg MS2000, and a Roland Juno-1 overtop of them.  Occasionally we tuck a saxophone, a melodica, an acoustic guitar, and an old clock radio into the spaces.  Until a couple months ago, we recorded all this mess on to a Pentium III computer.  Sadly, ol’ faithful has more or less passed on.
5.  What is it like being an electronic act in Newfoundland?  Are you the only electronic band in Corner Brook?
It can feel very lonely.  There’s not a whole lot of electronic music
being made in the province, and what little is made is hard to find.  In Corner Brook there are a couple of other electronic acts, mostly all
students at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.  (Full disclosure: we also
recently moved back to Ontario)
6.  Who are your influences?
Our influences are equal parts sound art and 60s pop, with a particular
emphasis on anything ‘fun’.  That’s about all we agree on, and it’s what really brought us together musically way back when.  Outside those two areas, our tastes tend to diverge.
7.  You mentioned online that you have done some live performing.  Do you get a great deal of enjoyment from performing live, or do you prefer to work in the studio?
We do enjoy performing live, but it happens very rarely.  When we lived in Toronto, it certainly happened much more often.  This period had a big influence on us—it broke us out of our isolation in our home studio and made us feel accountable about being able to present our music in a live format.  In the last five years we’ve become more hermit-like again, and we’re re-discovering the freedom to just record as many parts as the song calls for, whether or not it can be approximated or re-created live. We’re only two people, but we have tendency to want to write parts for six or seven.
8.  What brought you from Ontario to the east coast?  How would you
compare the music scenes in either areas?
Melissa decided to go to school at Memorial University’s campus in Corner Brook.  Mark followed along.  We both had a blast over the five years that we were there.
The music scenes are really similar in many ways—they are both dominated by music ultimately labeled rock and urban—even if the scale is different. The main difference between the two is probably the high volume of traditional music being made on the east coast.  That said, the east coast seems to have a higher proportion of its population making music, even if that still translates to less musicians than you find in Ontario.  There’s just something in the water out east that speaks in musical notes.
9.  I noticed that you re-scored an old National Film Board film called
“the New North.”  How did this project come about?
“The New North” came about as the result of an open call put out by
Terminus 1525, C0C0S0L1DC1T1 and the NFB.  They were looking for musicians and sound artists to remix the sound from old NFB films, and video artists to remix the visuals.  We applied and were successful.  We had a great time working on the project.
10.  Speaking of film, many people feel that electronic music naturally
has a very visual quality.  Do you agree?
Music, especially instrumental music, makes a challenge to the
imagination—“Hey you!  Accompany these sounds with some imagery!”  I think that’s why instrumental music is so often paired with film and video.  The words and lyrics don’t get involved and inform the context.  Much of our music was inspired by memories, dreams and events from our own lives, which we then try to translate into the sound textures and mood of the music.  It’s a vicious, but rewarding, cycle.
11.  What is on the horizon for hellothisisalex?
We have another bunch of music on the horizon, for sure.  We’ve been very carefully finishing our most recent album ‘The Accidentals’, and it’s due out any moment now in digital format.  Once that’s out, we’ll be concentrating on entirely new material.  We’re really excited about it because we’ve been working on ‘The Accidentals’ for so long now.  We have no idea what the next album will be about, but we like the title ‘The Grey Country.’  (Full disclosure: we previously liked the title ‘The Other Coast’ and nothing came of that, so who knows…)
12.  Please tell me about a film, book, artist or song that really had a profound impact on your life.
Early on, we both got into David Lynch’s work in a big way.  We’re huge
Twin Peaks fans, and we really like his films.  Lynch has an attention to details, both audio and visual, that few other artists possess.
13.  Where can interested people purchase your music?
Our albums are easily found in digital format in the iTunes stores online, as well as at CDBaby (  If people prefer the physical format, CDBaby and The Blue House ( are excellent places to look.
Our newest album, ‘The Accidentals,’ will be available really soon only in digital format at iTunes and CDBaby, so watch out for that.