in the last few years, Alex Giannascoli‘s life progressed in such a way that it looked like he was about to record a very substantial new album. The pandemic has grounded the 29-year-old musician, who goes by the name Alex G, in one place for the longest time in years. He started walking again and bought a house in Philadelphia. He read a lot and thought about religion. And, perhaps most importantly, he put aside his reputation as a self-taught home production genius and began recording in a professional studio for the first time ever.
So it is significant that the resulting record God save the animals Leaning into that mood of introspection and growth, it remains his most exciting and playful record to date. On a July morning in the atrium of the Brooklyn Ace Hotel, Giannascoli mused over how his tenth album, out this week, became such a romp. “I always try to entertain myself while making music,” he said. “Because that’s just my only measure of quality.”
Kindly laconic, of slight build, wearing putty-colored clothing, and drinking a bottle of water, Giannascoli told me he often finds it difficult to describe his creative process. “I have a process of writing and trying to think about this stuff. But it’s something that happens subconsciously for the most part,” he said. “And then I try to put it into words, and I end up… I almost lie when I try.”
Whatever the truth, it worked. Over the past decade, his prolific output of hauntingly catchy songs has made him a cult hero, with boosters in Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner and frankocean, who invited Giannascoli to play on his 2016 album Blond. His fandom, which is young, has garnered him a minor TikTok hit, and die-hards congregate on a highly active Reddit page — 12,000 members strong — where they dissect lyrics and share playlists. (They were apparently the original source of a photo showing a shaggy Giannascoli covered in spilled beer that went viral in 2019 after conservatives mistook it for a photo of Beto O’Rourke.) In July, he gave up his late-night debut the tonight show and when he returns to New York on his fall tour, there will be two nights of sold-out shows at the Brooklyn Steel.
In a way, Giannascoli embodies the humor and subtlety of his music, while also acknowledging that the phenomenon exists somewhat outside of himself as a person. He mainly stays away from social media except to promote the music, and described his main occupations as watching TV and cooking for his partner and musical collaborator. Molly Germer. The outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 postponed a much-anticipated world tour for his latest album, but otherwise he said his life hasn’t changed all that much in quarantine. Eventually, however, he wanted to spend some time away from home, so he made a habit of going to a local recording studio.
“One day if I was trying to write and I couldn’t think of anything, I’d hit my friend who worked in the studio and say, ‘Can I come in and just fool around?'” Giannascoli recalled. “And I was just messing around a lot, and one thing led to another, and I was like, oh, I actually think I could do this.”
Eventually he brought his co-worker with him jake portrait, a producer and member of the indie band Unknown Mortal Orchestra to help turn his studio foray into a record. In an interview last month, Portrait explained that Giannascoli’s talent as a songwriter makes their collaboration much easier. “It’s so cool that he has such an imaginative idea of how records should sound and also the ability to just write some sick songs and some really great lyrics,” Portrait said. “When the meat of the song is this good, you can do it a million different ways without doing the song a disservice.”
He added that recording in the studio for God save the animals was an opportunity for her to expand on some of the things he already loved about working with Giannascoli. “Alex loves recording, and he comes in with those references, like a song or a specific drum sound,” Portrait said. “Even when he was making records with a $99 mic, he was always a listener.” The goal for this album was to make it a little less isolated and more referential, while still utilizing the skills of studio engineers and musicians that he knows.
Ultimately, it meant bringing in some of the youthful energy of Alex G’s live performances. The rest of Giannascoli’s live band participated in some recording, and the final song on the album, “Forgive,” is a live recording from a trip to the Clubhouse recording studio in Rhinebeck, New York.
https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2022/09/alex-g-god-save-the-animals-interview Alex G, Cult Hero Songwriter, Upgrades His Sound