Emily May had the opportunity to interview Reggae/Pop/Rock Artist Zander recently about his latest EP “Sunshine State Of Mind” and more, check it out below!
Miami musician Alex Baugh, who goes by the stage name Zander, is creating a buzz with his upbeat and fun blend of reggae, pop, funk and rock. Having started his musical career at a young age by playing classical piano, he later picked up a guitar and played in a variety of bands in various genres. Although he is best known as the front man for The Crazy Carls, who opened for such bands as Weezer and Fall Out Boy, he decided to branch out on his own in 2015 and launch a solo career, with music inspired by surfing in Florida and beautiful sunsets. Armed with a positive attitude and an insatiable zest for life and travel, his upbeat persona translates into his music. Zander has toured all across the US, as well as in The Caribbean, Latin America and Australia and has cultivated an amazing and passionate fan base through his lively and energetic performances, striving to give his fans the best show possible. He released his new EP Sunshine State Of Mind last month and just finished a tour supporting The Wailers on their US national tour. Fueled with a positive momentum, Zander has no plans of slowing down as he plans to keep traveling, touring and writing music.
1) Your debut EP Sunshine State Of Mind was released last month! What can you tell me about the inspiration behind the songs? What was the writing and recording process like?
It’s been so great to share this EP with my fans and the world. I really enjoyed the writing and recording process. I wrote most of these songs on the road. I feel inspired to write when I travel. It’s all about enjoying the moment. That’s what most of the songs in Sunshine State Of Mind are about.
I recorded most of these tunes in Miami with a talented group of producers known as The Pushers. A very fun vibe recording in Lil Havana, Miami!
2) You were born in Hong Kong, have performed all across the US, as well as the Caribbean, Australia and Latin America and have called Norway, Connecticut, Texas and Florida home. How do you feel that all of your travels have influenced your music? I imagine being exposed to so many different people and cultures is inspiring! Do you have a favorite travel destination and do you have a specific place you’d like to travel to next?
Traveling the world has left a huge impact on me as a person. I would say it’s influenced everything that I do. My parents have a very well traveled background. I grew up listening to music from all over the world. There is so much diversity out there. So much inspiration that you can pull from every culture. Every place takes on a new feeling. It’s amazing! From Peruvian pan flute music, to Irish folk… I grew up listening to it all!
When I became in love with the ocean and surfing, traveling took on a whole new meaning for me. I went on surf trips all over the Caribbean and Latin America with my buddies. There is so much vibrance in caribbean and latin culture. Now, I just want to play great shows! From amazing festivals in Europe to New Zealand, I want to do it all. You can’t stop dreaming! 🙂
3) Your parents exposed you to all different genres of music growing up. Who would you count as some of your musical influences growing up? Are there any current bands/artists that you would count as influences?
Yes, I am very grateful that my parents exposed me to such a wide variety of music growing up. All styles. Classical and opera. Led Zeppelin and The Doors. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a band we would listen to growing up. John Frusciante’s funky guitar playing left such an impact on my playing. They also made me fall in love with California!
4) You recently toured with The Wailers! What was that experience like for you and what are some highlights for you from the tour?
It was an experience I will never forget. The are living legends! Those guys are so talented and still so humble. I was able to learn from their professionalism, and I also really enjoyed seeing how much they still love doing what they do. I hope I can play music my whole life as well. Timeless music!
There were countless highlights. I would say Dallas, TX and Napa. CA were the best shows. Very different, but incredible. Canton Hall in Dallas was packed, and the crowd was super energetic. The Uptown Theatre in Napa is such a gorgeous venue. The sound was flawless, and I felt very connected with the crowd.
5) Previous to your latest musical endeavor, you performed with The Crazy Carls, who had more of a rock sound. What prompted you to start a solo career and change your musical direction to a more reggae/pop sound?
The Crazy Carls were definitely a blast. Super raw and pure fun. I transitioned to my solo career very smoothly. The time felt right. As I matured, my musical style did as well. I am just a pure lover of music. Writing sessions on the beach with my acoustic guitar and ukulele really influenced my new direction.
6) You collaborated a bit with MC Bernz of Mayday on the EP. How did that come about? Being a fellow Miami musician, did you two know each other prior to the collaboration? Are there any specific artists you are hoping to work with in the future?
I love how that collab came out! We played a show or two in Florida, so we were familiar with each other. We bumped into each other at the studio in Lil Havana. Mayday is going in a more reggae direction as well… So, it felt right to try out!
7) You played classical piano growing up, switching to guitar in middle school. What led you to transition to the guitar? Do you still play piano?
I always wanted to shred guitar as a kid! My mother put me in front of a piano first so I could really learn musical theory, and also so my hands could grow! I am grateful for that. Guitar is something you want to start learning at a bit older of an age. It’s tough on little hands!
8) You have said that every moment of life teaches us more about ourselves. What do you think life has taught you about yourself?
Life has taught me that my perseverance is a great strength. I never give up. I fight to be a person of hope!
9) What’s next for you?
Tour Tour Tour ! I hope to be on the road a lot this fall/spring. Some new music and videos are on the way too! 🙂
FOLLOW ZANDER ONLINE!