artishare profile:

The ArtistShare Profile series features exclusive interviews with ArtistShare artists focusing on inspirations, current projects, and the creative process.

alex skolnick : part 1

Featured Artist: Alex Skolnick

Describe the moment when you realized you wanted to be a musician.

Alex: I would often sing along to The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" and "Yellow Submarine" as a child and can remember thinking how great it would be to be able play those songs myself. When I heard The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, I immediately wanted to play piano. Although the piano didn't work out, it lead to me picking up a guitar a year or so later.

AS: What was your most memorable experience as a music fan?

Alex: Seeing Joe Zawinul in the 90s really had a huge effect on me. Conservative jazz thinkers are quick to categorize him as too electronic or too "fusion." But what I heard that night went beyond categorization. Even though it was in Yoshi's Nightclub in Oakland, you got transported to the hustle and bustle streets from many different regions. There was profound technique, but it was about so much more than that. And as I mentioned in the listening guide, his music brought to mind primitive shades of early man (via tribal rhythms) and modern images of future technology (via science fiction-like electronic sounds), much like that signature scene from Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
AS: What was your most memorable experience with a fan (of yours)?

Alex: I was incredibly moved when a young fan who’d been diagnosed with cancer had a wish was to meet me. He was a kid from a small town in Virginia that was working with the “Make A Wish” foundation. He and his family attended one of my guitar workshops and he explained how my guitar playing had been an inspiration to him and helped him through. This really put things in perspective – suddenly things like readers’ polls and critics’ comments no longer mattered. Although he unfortunately had to lose a limb, the good news was that his cancer went into remission and he survived. We’ve kept in touch over the years.

AS: What was the inspiration or story behind your current ArtistShare project and tell us a little about the creative process.

Alex: World music and acoustic guitar has long been an important side of mine but one that’s been largely unexplored publicly, other than a few projects as a sideman. The idea of doing my own world/acoustic project has been floating around in my head for few years now but has taken a back seat to my jazz albums and other projects. In 2007, Rodrigo Y Gabriela contacted me, we began playing together and that helped re-ignite the idea of doing my own world project. I’ve also been inspired by Ry Cooder’s projects, such as his collaborations with Ali Farke Toure, Buena Vista Social Club and others. I’ve also found much inspiration from a wide range of sources that aren’t directly musical. For example, Ted Talks - particularly the ones on environmental and cultural awareness. So with Planetary Coalition, I envision this eventual performance that is like a cross between a concert and a Ted Talk. But it all starts with recording the album, (first things first)!

Read Part 2