Published May 15, 2012In just a week, Cold Specks' debut album, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, will be everywhere, and Al Spx, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter at the centre of the project, will have nowhere to hide -- not that she's made a successful go at selective anonymity so far.
Spx (a pseudonym) says her sister discovered her rock star secret when her niece pointed to the screen during the pre-show movie ads before Mirror Mirror and said, "Look! It's Auntie Al!"
"They didn't know anything," Spx laughs in a recent interview with Exclaim! "I just didn't talk about [my music] with them. It was just a private thing that I did. I didn't like to speak about it with anyone. They're very sad songs. [My mom] happened to be flipping channels one day and there I was on Strombo. Then my sister saw it at the theatre. And then she was watching CSI: New York and 'Lay Me Down' was on it. I got caught there as well. I thought I could hide it for a while, but I knew full well I couldn't keep it up."
So, why try? Spx says it's a matter of respect.
The bulk of Expulsion resulted from years of Spx's personal turmoil. It's a devastatingly beautiful album -- Northern soul has a nice ring to it, though Spx joking refers to it as "doom soul" -- that acts as a timeline of despair, conflict and reckoning. And, no, it's not about a boy. Well, save for one song ("Blank Maps").
"Everything else is about frustrations with religion, frustrations with family, death as well, sadness," Spx says. "Because no one was listening initially, I'd always been brutally honest with my songwriting. I didn't intend for anyone to hear the songs, so I would just sing what I was thinking. Eventually I had a collection and sent them to one person never expecting to make an album. It took [manager] Jim [Anderson] months on the phone to convince me to turn it into an album. It's a pretty brutally honest album. A song like 'Lay Me Down,' it's just about wanting to die really. I wasn't very happy."
But that was then and this is now. She's lived with these songs for a long time, some since before 2009, and she's already thinking about the next record.
"Yeah, I hate to say this, but I'm pretty over the [debut] album," she laughs.
Spx says she's written a lot of new songs already, and that there are tentative plans to return to the studio in September and see what's what, and keep that pattern on repeat.
"I'll be putting out albums for as long as I'm writing songs that I'm happy with. I hope I don't end up like some prick who just throws out whatever they've got."
I Predict a Graceful Expulsion arrives May 22 through Arts & Crafts in Canada (and Mute Records overseas), but you can already stream the record here on Exclaim.ca. You can also see all her upcoming dates here.