Finding the Hook with AlphaCub

>> Alphacub is the brainchild of Marc-Antoine Robertson. This talented and introspective Toronto artist shared a bit about his musical journey with us in this guest blog post below, check it out!

I was nine when I wrote down the lyrics to my first song. I called it ‘A Thousand Wishes’, which seems fitting because I’m sure somewhere on that list was my wish be some kinda rock star, pop star, movie star, bright star. Popular. Someone notice me. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I don’t think about that wish and let’s be honest, realistically probably only about seven wishes were listed in that song. I’m not going to say that I had a great high school education but at the time we didn’t have the internet to get music. I think in grade 12 I downloaded the Xfiles theme onto a floppy disk, it took 6 hours. I started writing seriously there. I wanted to avoid listening to my teachers because I felt what they had to say wasn’t going to matter in my future. That is one thing I can say I was right about. My ‘education’ came later when I attended Dalhousie University. It was the nineties so obviously my grungy influences encouraged me to write about my overexposed melancholy feelings of darkness and those feelings spewed from my lyrics of lost love with song titles like ‘Malice’ and ‘Thrown Away’. At the time it was junior high and I had never even kissed a girl. Only in dreams. Daydreams. Night dreams. Many nights lying awake and awake dreams at night make for great lyrics. My writing style revolves around routine and habit. Wake up early. Drink coffee till my belly hurts. Write. Maybe eat maybe. Keep drinking coffee even though my belly hurts. Write. I’ve been doing it like this for years and as a result, have piles of songs in bits and pieces. Sometimes I put them together like a ‘Frankenstein’ sometimes I start from scratch and finish a song or two in one go. Sometimes it’ll be a bit of both where I’ll write a hook and won’t make it a part of anything until the right verse lyrics come along. The hook melody stays in my head forever so I can always use it whenever I feel I have the right body of words. I’ve always been lucky like that. The melody to any lyrics I’ve written always just comes back to me, which works well these days because the masses only want to hear hits. Songs have come completely disposable in the wake of ‘millennial enlightenment’. That is to say, our attention span has become much shorter. Since my move from Halifax to Toronto, I gotta admit my style and routine have changed. This city moves at a different pace with varied distractions. Some of them more numbing some of them open my ‘third eye’ and make the flow of my writing more accessible. I feel like I spend a lot of time thinking in melody. I think it’s from my propensity for repetition when I hear something I like. When I find a song I’m into I listen to it over and over again until it blankets my brain. I take in the beat first then I find the ‘hook’ and absorb it. The ‘hook’ is the most important part of any song. It can be any part of it. It’s the piece that makes you want to listen to a song forever. I’ve always listened to music like that. Four out of five songs I’ll listen to twice but that fifth song I’ll listen to two hundred times. I can remember doing this with the first album I ever owned so I guess I have the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’ soundtrack to thank for that. The way I see it if you want to write a ‘hit’ song you have to ‘hit’ people with a hook and be loud about it too. When I write I like to get into that deep deep dark. The stuff that no one really wants to talk about is not only the stuff I tend to relish when I’m writing but ironically it’s all those anxieties and vulnerability that I want to put on display for as many people as possible. As a songwriter, I feel like I need to wear my baggage like a badge of honour right on my chest. The name ‘AlphaCub’ represents sort of a new beginning. I came up with it because when I signed to Culvert Music I was starting over from scratch. After past attempts at the music biz, I was trying again with a blank page but most of me realizes now that there’s nothing blank about it. I just flipped the page over and started new on the other side. <<

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