Saturday, September 25, 2010

Interview with Eric Alexandrakis



ERIC ALEXANDRAKIS Is classically trained since the age of 6, and originally discovered by Duran Duran's John Taylor, [composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist] Alexandrakis has had dozens upon dozens of his songs licensed to various media. Also a pioneer in digital copyright protection [Alexandrakis produced the first digitally watermarked CD while in graduate school (technology developed by bluespike.com)], he is also a critically acclaimed Indie artist having three times entered the top 40 radio charts in the Adult Contemporary genre.


Eric has recently guest stared on Showtime’s hit show Dexter and has popped up on Oxygen’s Reality TV show ‘Bad Girl’s Club”! He set some time aside to interview with me about…well a potpourri of VERY COOL things from movies to music we covered it all and he is a REAL treat to chat with and a REAL inspiration to anyone that feels they could use some sunshine in their life!

Here is Eric Alexandrakis; have a seat and ENJOY~


LadyaslanDDTTRH: Do you think Duran Duran deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Eric Alexandrakis:

Well they do meet the requirements, and considering how much of an impact on music and pop culture they have had, it’s a no brainer.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: Are you a self taught musical talent or were you classically trained? At what age did you start to play music?

Eric Alexandrakis:

When I was a tiny tot, I would always try to make music out of anything I could find. I took classical piano lessons from age 6 to 16, and got heavily interested in John Williams, Mozart and Thomas Edison. In between I picked up as many instruments as I could get my hands on, while taking art classes, theater classes…then had my first recording session at age 16. From then on, I became heavily interested in production/sound engineering and learning everything I could about everything musical. So I’m a mix between schooled and self-taught. Mostly self-taught.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: What is your favorite Duran Duran song and video?

Eric Alexandrakis:

It’s hard to pick, but “New Moon On Monday”, “Ordinary World” and “Big Bang Generation” tends to stick out today. It might change tomorrow. “Big Bang” more so because of the killer production.

Videos…love what Nick Egan did with “White Lines”…those scratchy plates of color that are also in “Live Forever” by Oasis,…the black and white bits…the editing in “Too Much Information”, and what Ellen Von Unwerth did with color in “Electric Barbarella”…especially the super 8 bits in the beginning…I think they were super 8. I have one of her books, she’s really cool.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: How would you describe the specific style and sound of your music to any New Wave/ Electro/ fans that hadn't’ heard your music before?

Eric Alexandrakis:

Since I write a lot of for TV, it tends to vary according to what someone wants. What I enjoy playing with the most is a sort of electro/rock vibe, where I blend electronic elements, with acoustic ones to create color and tension. I’m a big fan of early 60’s, 70’s albums that sound raw and almost like they were done in one take with imperfections. John Lennon’s first solo album has a sound to it especially that I love. I like to retain that in some things, but I also love totally perfect sounding records that have uniqueness, like the ones that come out of Anthony Resta’s Studio Bopnique. That’s the best sounding stuff coming into the world today that I know of.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: What contributions do you feel Duran Duran has made to the world of music and fashion in the past 30 yrs?

Eric Alexandrakis:

The thing about DD is that their contributions go well beyond the obvious, and I think only mentioning that part isn’t really an accurate representation.

The musical style has always been a unique approach, but what makes them more unique than any other artist is how their careers have merged musical elements, with fashion, design, technology, artistic evolution and “extracurricular activities”. By the latter I mean things like side projects, John’s fashion designs with Juicy, Simon’s work with Nick Wood (which by the way, most people probably don’t know this but SYN is the most in demand music production house in Japan, perhaps even Asia), Nick’s side projects/art, Roger’s DJ’ing… I also like how their musical style was stretched during the 90’s, which is always an important thing for artists to do.

You also have technological firsts. Most of the general public has no idea that a Duran Duran song was the first track to be downloaded off of the internet via Liquid Audio. Aside from everything else they’ve done, if being the first downloaded band in history isn’t worthy of induction into the rock and roll hall of fame, then the whole thing is a sham.

There are a ton of interesting/important accomplishments that the general public has no idea about, as when a band like DD becomes as big as they have…more than once…the largeness of the image tends to supercede the other stuff. I’d like for all them (as a band and as individual artists) to be recognized for more than just the obvious. One just needs to look.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: What Duran Duran song would you like to remake if you could and why?

Eric Alexandrakis:

I have no idea, I wouldn’t even bother. More fun to listen to the records.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: Tell us about the digitally watermark CD that you support in regards to copyright protection…

Eric Alexandrakis:

One of my best friends invented the digital watermark (bluespike.com), and came to my department head when I was in graduate school at The University of Miami School of Music to test his technology out on a release. I was producing an album for the school’s record label, and we had decided to embed the technology within the cd as a test. I was super excited about it because it was obvious what the impact would be, so Scott Moskowitz (the inventor) and I became really great friends, and together we oversaw some of the initial testing. Over the years I watched it evolve, was involved in some additional testing, and it’s amazing to see how it’s applied today. I remember several years ago sitting in Berlin reading a newspaper article about how a rough cut of the first “Hulk” movie had been put online illegally. Due to the technology embedded within the promo, I think the FBI was able to trace the kid that did it in like less than a week. Now it’s everywhere.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: Tell us how you met and rock out with your unique and innovative crew: Steve Ferrone, Warren Cuccurullo, and Anthony J Resta? What is your favorite creation the four of you have created together thus far?

Eric Alexandrakis:

We all have this common thread, DD, and my music production/licensing company. My company represents/works with a lot of high profile artists, and those three guys were people I wanted to work with. We became friends over the years, and since I already do composing and licensing of my own material to various media, I thought it would be cool to create a scoring collective of sorts to try something new. I’ve been anti-collaboration for years due to some bad experiences, but I’ve started to snap out of that. Plus when you have access to those types of musical abilities, it’s very hard to not want to immerse one’s self in their talents to learn from the best. I consider myself a life-long student of music, more than anything.

We started planning the project early last year, but had a few bumps along the way as everyone is involved in lots of things, so getting together is always difficult. A few demos were being passed around, which were really cool, but due to commitments it was hard to get locked down. We had a 5th member early on as well, Roger O’Donnell of The Cure, who had too many commitments and had to drop out right before the 5 of us had made plans to have some sessions in LA. He’s a great friend and super amazing talent, you should check him out.

We’ve only really been full-on planning and solicitation wise since about April of this year, and that’s been mostly organizational and paperwork related. We have a lot of interest, so now it’s a matter of moving into the next stage of promo, which we are almost at. We’re also working on new music (long distance for now), and will probably get together once Steve is off the road and has rested from his round the world twice in a few months stint! It’s incredibly exciting, as we aren’t limited to one approach or style, and don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: If you could have a sit down with any member of Duran Duran who would it be and what would be topic of discussion? ( I have a feeling you have done this already ha-ha )

Eric Alexandrakis:

Being artists and adventurists…if that’s even a word, I’d take them to hike the Gorge of Samaria in Crete, and to the Minoan Palace of Knossos. That would stimulate lots of interesting discussion I think.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: When can fans expect the single “Mediterranean Sea” with John Taylor of Duran Duran to be released? What is the theme of the song and how did you both contribute to the genesis of this song?

Eric Alexandrakis:

You’ve really done your homework! “Mediterranean Sun” will be out next Summer, and probably end of this year in Australia, as their Summer is in December. Promo can take ridiculously long to plan, and this is part of a new album project of mine called “Terra”. It’s a travel themed album, whose over 30 songs were written and recorded in a matter of hours. 97% of the whole album was done in one take. I’ve been releasing a new single every two weeks since Spring, and I have an EP called “Terra Firma” coming out on August 30th via iTunes.

The song came about when I was on the beach in Rethymno (Crete) filming over exposed shapes, waves and pretty girls with black and white super 8 film. The chorus came to me then, and the rest just flowed. I asked John if he would mind playing on it, and he graciously said yes. He was going to play on another one as well called “London Girls”, but there was no time. Was lucky to have him on one. He’s been very encouraging over the years with my material, and I’ll always be very grateful.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: If you don’t mind, would you share with our readers the trials and tribulations you went through when you battled cancer ( twice )? What form did you get diagnosed with? Has it changed the way you view life and yourself in general? *My father is a Prostate cancer survivor….going on 10 yrs cancer free, your story hits home with me*

Eric Alexandrakis:

I’m very glad to hear your Dad is doing well. They say if everything is ok for ten years, then you’re in the clear

I had Hodgkin’s in my chest twice. The first time I kept getting this pain in my left chest, had no idea what it was. With these things we tend to ignore and assume it’ll pass, but it kept getting sharper and lasting longer…sometimes for two weeks straight.

Finally one day I was lifting some weights and noticed a lump on my chest. I thought that I’d pulled a muscle, as it was really hard and strange. Soon thereafter I was diagnosed and started 6 months of chemotherapy. I essentially had a tumor the size of a fist pushing through my rib cage.

During the 6 months I had chemo every two weeks, which would leave me nauseated for about 5 days. To keep myself from losing my mind, I recorded an album called “I.V. Catatonia” during the 6 months of treatment on a friend’s borrowed 4-track recorder. It was a lot of fun creating, smashing stuff in the garage, I had very little to work with and borrowed instruments from friends. The album has my chemo nurse on the cover.

At the same time I was producing a band called Eyes of Pandora, mixing another album and getting ready for pre-production on a record by an artist that had recently been dropped from Atlantic Records. I was probably overdoing it, as I remember being in a big studio having to barf in between my guitar takes. Looking back it was actually quite funny, in a sort of twisted way.

For about a year I was clear, then it came back. I then had to have a stem-cell transplant, with a month’s stay in a germ free “bubble” in the hospital, with about 8 blood transfusions, chemo, crappy food…but pretty nurses. The day I was admitted, I ended up having a catheter cut and pushed into the side of my throat, pushed into my heart and pulled out of a hole in my chest…without anesthesia…twice! After that, I realized I could handle just about anything.

The relapse made me paranoid, impatient and a little nuts…and it took several years to get back to “normal”.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: How did you come to work with John Taylor of Duran Duran & Patty Palazzo ( of Juicy and Punkmaster.com) on John’s solo album Japan ( 1999 )?

Eric Alexandrakis:

I met John at a solo show, gave him some of my tapes, and a few months later he and Patty approached me to sell my first album “9 Demos On A 4-Track” on Trust The Process. I’ve always been heavily into photography, and sent Patty the pics from the show I had met them at, which they put on the site and used in the CD. I’ve admired Patty’s designs for a very long time, and love her Punkmasters line. We’ve been friends ever since.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: How did you come to have a supporting role in the hit Showtime series Dexter

Eric Alexandrakis:

It was nothing major really, the casting agent called me to do it, and I said ok. It was a new experience doing TV, and more than anything I was curious to see how the whole process worked. Almost got my fingers smashed by a sliding van door during a scene, and had fun with the main cop dude that wears a hat all of the time.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: What was your overall experience in filming Miami Vice with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx?

Eric Alexandrakis:

Totally fascinating. Loved watching the process, being directed by Michael Mann, watching him plan out a scene… CF and JF were very cool. JF was gangsta rapping in Bill Cosby’s voice, and CF was either drinking or smoking for 3 days straight. I was in a bunch of scenes, but only one or two made it into the film. Burned my scalp, got slightly dehydrated, and drove some fancy cars. It was a fun experience, but I didn’t like the movie.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: Tell the readers about how you entered the Top 40 radio charts….when…where…and which songs….

Eric Alexandrakis:

My Christmas song “Here Comes The Snow!” was promoted to U.S. adult contemporary radio, and charted in the top 40 three years in a row. I think it peaked at #22. Every so often someone texts or calls me during the holiday seasons, saying that they are shopping in a store and they hear that song on the speakers. That’s always fun.

LadyaslanDDTTRH: Anything you would like to share with your fans?

Eric Alexandrakis:

Keep in touch!

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