What Alex Stavropoulos-Laurie ultimately set out to attain, when he embarked upon his upcoming project, was to seize the freedom to write and produce music on terms dictated by no one but himself. It’s his response to creative restrictions he has experienced as an artist and musician up to this point. Alex grew up in Newmarket Ontario, a suburb an hour’s drive north of Toronto. The local music scene when he went to high school was thriving – a number
of up-and-coming bands in the area had created a small but passionate indie music community, which would inspire Alex to strive towards making a living as an artist and a professional musician.
He’s calling this solo act of defiance RubēHill (pronounced Ru-bee-hill), a name taken from the main character of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Stroke of Good Fortune”. There was
something in the internal and contemplative nature of O’Connor’s prose and the title character’s continuous fixation on her own anxieties that resonated deeply with him. The explorations of human behaviour and the dark nature of the conscious mind were concepts
Alex sought to infuse into to his own songs. Upon an initial listen of RubēHill’s second single, titled Apartment, you get the sense that he’s tapped into a special class of alternative music. By alternative I don’t mean the genre as a whole— more-so in the innovative divergence from the norm that he’s taken in the song’s
unconventional structure and bold changes in tempo. His lyrics carry a sense of entrapment with an unfulfilled need to break free: “If I leave this room it means I’ve made it out of a tar pit / roll me up in a carpet / please, someone get me out of this apartment, ” Alex bellows out in the sinister and epic outro. There’s an overtone of ambiguity in his words that leaves you longing for an album of songs just like it, or at the very least another verse of Apartment.
After hearing Apartment, it isn’t hard to believe that Alex’s range of influences vary greatly in style and genre. Alex drew inspiration particularly from the Gorillaz record “Demon Days”— the record’s post-modernistic bizarreness and strange blend of genres was a luminary for his desire to create a style of music that goes against the grain of patterns in the industry.
However, it isn’t just the eccentricities of Gorillaz sound that have inspired RubēHill; he also sees great value in the creative approach that Damon Albarn has adhered to— the process of collaboration from a range of artists from different backgrounds to work towards a common goal: the generation of a single outlet of inspiration through an eclectic blend of sounds. It’s a philosophy that Alex continues to implement in his inner circle of Toronto-based friends, a group of tightly-knit and exceedingly talented musicians.
Alex speaks in earnest of the faith he has in the intelligence of his audience and rejects the notion that people will only be interested if the music adheres to certain set of rules and limitations. If the versatility of Apartment is any indication of what lies ahead, Rubēhill has seemingly given birth to a rare form of being: a sound that’s singularly his own. It’s a feat that shouldn’t be overlooked, considering the exponentially blurrier lines between musical genres.
In truth, it isn’t easy to find the words to express the exact quality that sets Rubēhill’s music apart. Thankfully, like any piece of art that makes lasting impression, the complexities and levels of intrigue to Alex’s creations more than speak for themselves.
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