We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Feder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
In the last few years I have benefited greatly from the “Bit by Bit” approach to getting things done. I have never had much success with approaching oversized, vague goals. For instance, if I say, “I am going to write an entire album this month,” that feels insurmountable and I usually end up writing…nothing. Or If I say “I am going to spend 5 hours a day playing the guitar for the next year,” I find that to be intimidating; when I inevitably miss a day or two, I end up abandoning the whole idea and feeling like a failure. I have functioned best by approaching things in actionable, bite sized steps. For instance, instead of trying to write that album, I can commit to spending an hour working on songwriting and not worrying about the outcome. Instead of committing to practice the guitar every day for a year, I can commit to practicing the guitar today, and I can worry about tomorrow when tomorrow is today. Approaching huge goals usually scares me off from getting anything done. Breaking it down feels more manageable, and my productivity has gone through the roof.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It has been extremely important for me to hone in on *why* I create music. It is very easy to get buried under the weight of “Do I have enough followers/streams/views” etc. and to want to throw in the towel. Last year I identified very concretely that I want to make music in order to impact the lives of others. If those “others” number in the millions — cool! If I only impact a handful of people, that is wonderful too. I have to remind myself of this constantly, because my brain definitely wants to live in the “If you do not achieve (insert specific quantifiable metric of “success” here) then you are an abject failure and deserve to be laughed out of existence.” Here is an anecdote to illustrate why I make music: several years back I received an email from a young woman in Lebanon saying that she had just failed her entrance exam to dental school and needed something to cheer her up. I sent her a voice memo of me singing my song “Love U the Maximum,” and never thought much about it after that. This past autumn, the woman emailed me to let me know that after that exchange, she took the exam again and crushed it. She was emailing me to tell me that she had just graduated and was now a dentist, and that it was my music that helped her get through a challenging time in her life. I totally teared up when I read that email. Incredible. Maybe one day I’ll have a million emails like that. Maybe not. But I am happy to have that one : )
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?
I must say, I am kind of boring and EXTREMELY habit based, so this answer is easy — I absolutely love Larchmont Village. I love the coffee at Go Get Em Tiger. I looooove the cinnamon buns and cookie sandwiches at Erin McKenna’s Bakery (vegan AND gluten free — shoutout to Kat!). I love purchasing books from the fine folks at Chevalier’s (their staff gives great book recommendations — shoutout to Theresa!). I love smelling the wonderful smells at Diptyque (shoutout to their manager, Isabelle!). The surrounding neighborhood is beautiful, the houses are insane, and the whole area feels so peaceful to me. Oh, and when things open back up, my therapist is in Larchmont as well : )
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to mention my dear friend Sarab Singh. Sarab and I met in NYC over a decade ago when we played together in a band that I found through a Craigslist audition, and we have been close ever since. In addition to being an absolutely amazing musician, he is one of the sweetest and most likable people I have ever known. To make a career in the music industry, one has to have a lot of friends and know the right people. Unfortunately, I am often a bit of a shut-in, and a smidgen cold (albeit unintentionally) when I first meet people. But thank God for Sarab, because he knows a million people and has recommended me for every major gig I have ever gotten as a guitarist. I can safely say that if it weren’t for him, I would have been sitting on my couch doing nothing for the last decade. It was Sarab who recommended me for my touring job with LP, which has been an incredible experience. Fun fact: I helped co-write her most recent single, “One Last Time!” So if that song ends up being a worldwide smash hit and I get to buy a house off the coast of France as a result, I’ll have Sarab to thank for that as well.
Talayeh Nasirzadeh, Ryan Jay, Alejandra Moreno