We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Budman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
The choice to pursue an artistic career wasn’t exactly a cut and dry decision. Music was huge in my life before college, but I went without a declared major and took a wide variety of classes. The music program at UC Santa Cruz ended up being incredibly intense and time-consuming and I naturally spent most of my time (once the school’s soccer season was completed) hanging around the music building and with my musician friends. There was little curriculum focus on the actual making of a career in music, so I just worked on being a well-rounded musician. (Person, too, hopefully!) At some point I started getting calls to play gigs and it sounds quite silly, but I was short-sighted and hadn’t thought simply playing miscellaneous gigs was a viable option as a career. After moving to San Francisco, I found myself playing in dozens of bands covering a wide variety of music and realized I totally dug doing that! The phone rang enough to keep me plenty busy and I loved the variety of scenery and music I got to experience as a freelancer. I was also fortunate to run my own 16-piece band every Monday for five years. One of the few specific romantic fantasies I had growing up was being a session musician in Los Angeles. Reading the personnel on records was fascinating to me, and the thought of being in that sort of professional company stuck in my mind for many years. Fortunately I’ve been able to make that happen here in LA and retain the freelance lifestyle I’d been used to previously. Does that answer the question? Probably not, but it’s hard to imagine doing something else!!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I possess a large skill set and a variety of interests, which can work both for and against me. There are many artists who know precisely what they want to achieve or focus on, or they have a strong relationship to a single instrument and have dedicated their lives to focusing on mastering that singular endeavor. I’d have a terrible time narrowing my focus like that—variety is how I thrive. I certainly want to perform at a high level with everything I put a stamp on, with the most important part being my contribution is musical, and enhances the art or vision, not detracts. Something I’ve learned to appreciate about the musicians I work with every day in LA is that we all arrive here having taken vastly different paths. Instead of being intimidated by their specific schooling, dedication or craftsmanship, I’ve found it important to embrace those differences and feed off of them. We can all learn and be inspired by each other, and this is especially true in the musical world, where we’re striving to make the whole better than our individual parts.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Though I don’t approach sommelier status by any stretch, this visit would include much wine! A trip to the Santa Barbara wine country would be in order with the great sunset view during the drive back. Often there’s good jazz in the cute town of Ventura, so if still craving the grape and some music, a wine bar there is a great option for a stop on the way back. (We’ve hired a driver, right? We’re being safe here.) Wade’s Wines in Westlake Village and Vendome in Studio City are two of my favorite Valley spots. I’m pretty keen on hiking and biking in So Cal and there are so many vistas readily available. Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park or one of the many trails in the San Gabriels would be lovely. We could bike along the Pacific or in the neighborhoods surrounding the Rose Bowl. A walk around the grounds at The Getty would be in order as well. A weekday trip to Coronado with a stop for fish tacos in Solana Beach/Encinitas wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Living in the Valley, I tend toward Mexican food often. Cilantro (inside a Chevron station!) and Salsa and Beer are personal favorites. Perhaps Luv2eat Thai Bistro in Hollywood if my friend is willing to experience extremely spicy deliciousness. Miceli’s is the place to hang after if Brian O’Rourke is manning the piano. And that brings us to all the music in LA! I generally prefer more intimate venues like Hotel Café, The Mint, The Baked Potato or Vitello’s. Vibrato in Bel Air if I’m feeling fancy; The Cinema Bar in Culver City or Seven Grand in DTLA for an up-close bar experience. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
For getting us through the past 12 months, a shoutout needs to go to healthcare workers and everyone else who has continued showing up to work in a public setting.
Elisabeth Caren, Michael Cahill