‘He who does not leave the cave shall never know the light’ | Alex Alden

Ahead of a relaxed gig at Café Jubilee in Valletta together with drummer Luke Briffa, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Alex Alden assures us that, following the release of her debut EP The Curious Child earlier this year, she’s far from ready to rest on her laurels.

Luke Briffa (left) and Alex Alden. Photo by Sebastian Kittel.
Luke Briffa (left) and Alex Alden. Photo by Sebastian Kittel.

What led you to team up with Luke Briffa? What would you say are your musical strengths, and how do you bounce off of each other?

It all began at Cafe Jubilee in Gzira back in December 2012. I had spoken to Luke quite a few times before since I was interviewed about my music on Meander, a show he produced. He mentioned that he played the drums and percussion and that he would like to collaborate with me sometime. So when I was offered a gig a few weeks after at Jubilee, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask him if he was game to play that night. Luke, being the spontaneous jazz musician (and therefore familiar with improvisation), took me up on the offer to perform without us having rehearsed together at all. The gig was a success and we decided to continue working together since we clicked so well.

The fact that Luke is a drummer has helped me to better understand rhythm. We share similar interests and tastes, not only in music but also in other aspects of our lives (such as a mutual love for nutella). The fundamental aspect of this duo is our strong friendship and this shows when we're on stage. We're there to entertain the audience, and if they see that we are not enjoying ourselves then neither will they.

How would you describe your musical career ever since your EP, The Curious Child, came out? Has anything at all changed about the way you work?

Recording the EP was my first experience working in a 'studioesque' setting and also applying my solo-acoustic songs to a band arrangement. It was a very intense and fulfilling period where I got to gather my ideas together with the knowledge and expertise of my producer Mark Mcrae and session musician Jimmy Bartolo to breathe life into my songs after having dreamt about the opportunity to do so for such a long time. Now that the EP is out, I finally have something to show for myself wherever I go. It's my passport into the music world. Launching the EP was an unforgettable experience. With the support of the Malta Arts Fund, I managed to hire a theatre to perform in, include notable lighting and sound engineers, and also work with very talented musicians to perform my songs (including a string section!). This was my first experience in a live full-band environment and the energy onstage was phenomenal. I can appreciate the hard work that goes into putting up a show such as this now, and with the right people and support I've learned that anything is possible.

Summer is lazy season: do you find it hard to get out there and perform?

Is it really lazy season? I associate summer with long days and an endless list of activities I want to do, from climbing to canoing and swimming! Finishing the day off with a relaxed gig outside in the city with a glass of wine and an enthusiastic audience sounds perfect to me. The summer season is definitely a busy one!

How do you feel about performing at smaller venues like Jubilee?

A venue like Jubilee is very laid back but you are also aware that the customers there appreciate a variety of music, so we try to cater to these tastes while also applying a personal edge. The audience can be very receptive which makes the experience that much more pleasant.

What's next for you?

I am moving to Holland in a couple of weeks to continue my music studies at a Conservatorium and to gain more experience performing overseas, where the competition is incredibly high, as is the standard of musicianship. I feel it is important to continue challenging myself as this is the only way to learn: he who does not leave the cave shall never know the light.

Alex Alden and Luke Briffa will be performing at Café Jubilee, Valletta on August 7 from 21:00.