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by Nicholas Camacho
June 12th, 2014

Tomorrow night at The Old American Can Factory, upstate New York guitarist/composer phenom Alexander Turnquist will grace Rooftop Films with his lush 12-string melodic sensibilities and intricately engaging compositions. Toying with influences ranging from new new age to classical, electronic ambiance to Americana, Turnquist creates dense, emotional tapestries that are as dynamic as they are beautiful. Direct Current Music says, “If Philip Glass had played guitar on his groundbreaking works such as “Metamorphosis”, it might have sounded something like what Turnquist is exploring here.”

We spoke to Alex about his new album, the musical impact of health issues, and dealing with loud and unruly crowds. Check out our interview, watch his amazing video, and come see Alex perform live at THE SEARCH FOR EMAK BAKIA, Friday June 13th in Brooklyn!

RTF: Your upcoming album, Flying Fantasy, just came out this week on June 10th. We’re curious: what does the flying fantasy signify in your music?

AT: it signifies our desires to be who we can’t. To experience a daydream and embracing the imagination of youth and keeping them throughout our lives.

RTF: You’ve had some pretty serious health issues in the past couples years that halted progress on Flying Fantasy: first hand surgery on your ulnar nerve, then meningitis. As you resumed work on the album, how did these experiences influence your composing process?

AT: they slowed it down physically for sure, but it mentally made me focused on making something that pleased my ears to hear. In a way it was a bit healing but my health issues aren’t the motivation for the music. They were just a bump in the road.

RTF: As your left hand healed, you practiced your picking hand on an eight-string harp. How did you translate this new instrument into the album?

AT: Some of the patterns I developed with that can be heard on “finding the butterfly” and “wildflower”.

RTF: You’ve described how large, loud crowds are difficult spaces in which to perform your music well. What was the most challenging venue you’ve ever performed in?

AT: Definitely the most difficult performances have been at art openings in galleries. It’s hard to communicate musically while people are talking.

RTF: Understandable. Where else can we see you play this summer?

AT: I’m planning a full northeast US and Canada tour with Christopher Tignor. Starting in August. We should have the dates up soon.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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