We exchanged a few emails with mega-keyboardist, Alex Kopp, to snag the skinny on his background, music creating process, and how he hooked up with Third Eye Blind.
Kyle Warner: First off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into producing, composing, and songwriting?
Alex Kopp: I grew up in a studio that my dad built in the 80’s. It’s a big place, so as a kid I would sit on the couch during sessions rather than go to day care. I was kind of immersed at a young age. From there I started playing drums really young and playing on albums at the studio. That was kind of my first glimpse into the writing world so to speak. After that, in high school I had a lot of my own bands throughout the years, which I recorded and produced myself, with some help from my father. That was my first experience into production and songwriting. I became obsessed with sounds and little things back then like, when a guitar should be mono or doubled and reverbs/delays on backing vocals. I always had a computer as a kid so Protools and DAW’s were second nature to me. Composing is something I more recently have stumbled in to. I spend a lot of time making tracks and such on my own for other artists and remixes as well. So once I started to notice that some of today’s scores and ad spots were resembling the sounds of modern pop music, I thought it was just a natural transition to try to bridge the gap.
KW: Could you describe your process of production? I know some people that will lock themselves in their rooms for days until they get that perfect sound. What’s your process?
AK: I don’t have a specific process per se, but I do have a short attention span and I know the stuff I use inside and out. So a lot of the time for me, making beats isn’t a super long process. I usually start a track a day and if I am digging it I will finish it in the same day. If I come up with chords or a drum loop that I like but can’t progress on in an hour or so, I save the session and bounce whatever else I have and store it for some other time. But I usually just open a blank session and some plugin I use a lot (either native instruments, Xfer Records, or something sample based) and work on a 4-8 bar chord progression. From there, again, if I am feeling it, it all comes together pretty quickly. But it’s nothing methodical. Could be drums first, could be a melody, really just wherever my brain goes. I try to let it out and not think much past that.
KW: You make beats in a variety of fashions whether it’s ambient electronica, pop/rock, techno, etc. Is there one you prefer producing over another? And one that you’ve found that tends to have more commercial success?
AK: I don’t think I have much of a preference, really just whatever I am feeling at the moment. Some weeks I just am on different style kicks of what I am listening to and inspired by. I really love pop music of all types so that is mostly the type of stuff I tend to write. Commercial success I think is very particular to what the circumstance is. But pop music and electronic music seem to be everywhere today. Things that express a mood instrumentally, can create feeling without lyrics and move you in some way are always good.
KW: Do you prefer collaborating with singers on your beats or having them standalone?
AK: I love collaborating with singers and just other people in general. I think working with other people really inspires a different level of creativity than working on your own. I love working with vocals in general because you can make so much just with a vocal track and sampling it.
KW: We see you’ve been featured in quite a few big commercials in your career, do you feel like you’ve found a recipe that helps your music get placed in the mainstream?
AK: I wish I had a recipe, haha. I think dedication and focus is what helps most. I spend a lot of time researching commercials and who produced them, where the music came from and trying to figure out why they used that type of music. By doing this it lets me network and connect with the right people that my music might fit with. It’s a lot of time emailing and researching that’s for sure. Not getting discouraged and staying focused is definitely what helps me the most.
KW: In an ideal world where would you like to see your music licensed?
AK: I would love to do more stuff in film, but mostly overall I would just like to see my music in more places. It’s really fun to be watching TV and randomly hear a track of your own that has been used in some unique circumstance that you may never have imagined.
KW: Can you talk a little bit about how you got together with Third Eye Blind and how that experience has been, being a part of such a famous, influential band?
AK: I came to join Third Eye Blind through touring and meeting people. One of the people who used to work for the band and I had been friends for years and toured with other bands together. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get the gig. But, I owe a lot of it to networking and building friendships within the industry and keeping them over the years. You never know who you might meet and how you might be able to work together. Overall it has been a really fun experience, we have done a lot of great tours and shows over the past handful of years. I have been to some places that I never would have expected I would travel to in my life, like India haha. Touring is the best and we have done a couple records now with the current lineup so its really become a family to me.
KW: Speaking of Third Eye Blind, I just saw you guys at Outside Lands the other week, you killed it by the way, what’s it like playing in front of such a huge crowd at a major festival like that?
AK: Thank you, crowds like that are awesome! We have played a lot of festivals this summer and every turnout has been amazing. It’s really something that is unexplainable to see that many people singing along and having the time of their lives. But, that’s not to say smaller crowds aren’t great as well. There will always be something special about playing a super hot, sweaty, little club as well.
KW: Do you ever perform solo?
AK: I don’t really perform solo. I have been working on a lot of different music and I have a lot ready to go, but a lot of it is drastically different than the other stuff. So I am trying to decide what genre I want to pursue as a solo artists before I put it out. I really want to have it all dialed before I dive into that world, but eventually it will happen.
KW: Where can the people see Alex Kopp next?
AK: That’s a good question. Third Eye Blind came out with an EP a couple months ago, called “We are Drugs”. We just announced a Summer Tour. I am always up to something. People can follow me on Twitter: @akopp and Instagram: @alexrkopp and check out thirdeyeblind.com to find out what I am up to!