Following the unexpected success in the charts of Alex Henry Foster’s new album “Windows in the Sky”, Daily Rock Québec is happy to introduce a very particular interview with the artist. Up in the air in between two big cities, creator Alex H Foster answered our questions about this album; intimate, expressive and very appreciated.
PS: Our interviewer Jérôme Go-dreault says that he has perceived and reconnected with a vibrant and compelling sound, just like Mr. L. Cohen knew how to make me feel. Congratulations, and thanks to Mr. Foster.
JG: Who is Alex Henry Foster? Where are you from?
AHF: We are starting the interview with the question for which the answer is the most difficult to me…! I will simply say that I’m a hardcore fan of music, poetry, skateboard, baseball, and video games, and that I am the father of 2 pups answering to the names of MacKaye and Leonard, which I have adopted in Austin, Texas, at the end of a North American tour with Your Favorite Enemies, a little over 3 years ago now…
I come from Montreal, but I moved too often during my childhood to be able to say exactly where I would consider having grown up…
I studied social work, worked with children victims of sexual abuse, and at the heart of the HLM (“rent-controlled housing”) community of the South Shore of Montreal before committing to my passion for music full time with Your Favorite Enemies some years ago…
JG: Since when and under which circumstances did you start creating music?
AHF: I think that as far as I can remember, I have always created music. Some cassettes hidden in the infamous family archives testify of the constant and uninterrupted way I had to make my parents go crazy while singing continuously… and to make noise with everything that could produce a sound and could be broken or strongly damaged while making said noise…
I logically integrated punk / hardcore / noise bands during my teenage years, thus increasing the circle of people I could render insane while playing Minor Threat, Ramones, Gang Green and other compositions, all of them equally disturbing for my friends’ parents, neighbors, school’s social workers and other people worrying about the fact that not being that good didn’t seem to have an impact on the passion with which I was turning to it so devotedly and… non-stop.
But it’s when I met Sef (Your Favorite Enemies’ guitarist), during his internship at the community organization where I was working – and through him his brother Ben (multi-instrumentalist and producer) – that my passion for music went from seriously dangerous to dangerously serious. We then founded Your Favorite Enemies and left school and any other form of normal type of social life potentially leading to a life made of promises… and of being good sons.
What would follow is in theory largely documented in dark places of the internet!
JG: What are your musical inspirations and your artistic process?
AHF: They are numerous, I’d say, but they must first and foremost be authentic and honest. My process is probably based on not having a pre-established process. I like to be surprised and capsized, which probably explains why I can listen to Japanese traditional chants, Nick Cave, Swans, Fugazi, Mats Gustafsson, traditional flamenco and The Cure in the same evening… it’s the emotions, whatever they might be, that inspire me.
JG: How and why, aside from the circumstances already mentioned in the media, producing a solo album?
AHF: It happened a little bit by accident. I was on an exile in North Africa as I was totally exhausted, both physically and psychologically, after 5 years of touring with Your Favorite Enemies. It must have been close to a year since I had last touched an instrument, but I was writing poetry so as to live and assume some emotions I had buried deep down inside in order not to have to face the reality and risk of losing myself even more than how I was feeling at that moment…
Ben came to find me in Tangier to work on a movie soundtrack, and following discussions, he encouraged me to put those feelings I couldn’t express in music, which slowly became a song, and another one, and finally a cohesive ensemble of what I like to call “moments”. I didn’t have the ambition of making it an album, as I didn’t want to have to face those words, those sounds, and those feelings after, even less have to talk about them publicly, like right now…! In the end, it’s the other members of Your Favorite Enemies who have encouraged me to do it, saying that it would set me free and allow me to assume its nature fully – and they were right to say so!
JG: Would this album have come to life if circumstances would have been different?
AHF: I don’t think it would have seen the light of day, it’s that simple… neither would have any of the music to come.
JG: Tell us more openly about your latest album; WINDOWS IN THE SKY:
AHF: It’s a personal and intimate album, but from which the honesty produces an invitation to share and commune. I’m discovering its true nature through the eyes of others and through how they make it theirs.
JG: Is this album a reflection of all your expectations and what are its qualities?
AHF: I didn’t have any expectation. I never had any expectation for anything I produced with Your Favorite Enemies before. For me, art and creation have for only interest the honesty with which we abandon ourselves to it. And the more we expose ourselves, the more we accept that we have nothing more to give than what we have at the moment we are creating. It’s, in my opinion, the reason why all creations evolve naturally with time, if only for the way we give a new look at what once was, thus making it something that is in the present moment as well. Creation evolves to the measure we allow ourselves to evolve as a person. At least, that’s how I see it.
JG: How many stars on 10 would the album deserve?
AHF: I don’t believe in the gradation of art. Some artists hate that people evaluate their artwork. For me, it’s all a matter of perspective, to put it simply. People who let go to the journey that “Windows in the Sky” is have a perception that is as right as mine… I never feared critics, as when a work is shared, it no longer exclusively belongs to me.