We are thrilled to announce Skirts as this week's Band To Watch. Skirts is without a doubt a band that should be on your radar. Singer-songwriter Alex Montenegro has crafted something really something special with the band's debut album, Great Big Wild Oak. It's been a while since I've been this enraptured by an album. What's considered the most influential album? Pet Sounds? This is our generation's Pet Sounds. We recently had the opportunity to talk to Alex, check it out! Also, keep an eye out for Great Big Wild Oak, out July 30th.
1. What have you been listening to lately?
Imaginary People by Charlie Martin, Cool Dry Place by Katy Kirby, The Band S/T..Been also revisiting a lot of past favorites!
2. You think you could pull off wearing a backwards Kangol hat?
3. What did you listen to growing up?
As a teen I was super into things like Joanna Newsom and Tallest Man on Earth, you know..the indie darlings we all still have a soft spot for today.
4. My dream lineup would be Skirts, Tenci, and Lomelda. How can I make this happen?
Honestly same here, sounds like a dream! Let’s talk to Double Double Whammy and Keeled Scales and make it happen!
5. What are you currently looking forward to?
Looking forward to my album coming out 100%! Also a couple weeks after the release my closest friends and I booked a cabin in the Ozarks and are going to celebrate the album release along with my birthday and I’m very excited about that!
6. What game show do you think you’d do well on?
I can’t decide if I would be incredibly good or incredibly bad at survivor but I love that show so that is my answer.
7. First concert you ever attended?
Can’t remember if it was Coldplay or Greg Laswell in 2009, both were a lot of fun and very memorable.
8. If we were to start a musical duo, what would we be called?
9. What would you be doing right now if you weren’t answering all of these questions?
I’ve been getting back into rock climbing so maybe I’d be at the gym climbing with friends
10. Any Dallas bands that we should check out?
There are a lot! Tex Patrello, Steven Leftovers, Y’all’re, check out this comp too (a lot of north texas, some austin, a lot of TX love)
To start things off, can you introduce yourself.
Hi my name is Alex and I am from Dallas, TX.
When did you first start recording and putting out music?
I started releasing some not so good music in 2011 when I was about 16 I think.
Was there anything in particular that motivated or pushed you to start making your own music?
I think teenager me just felt really inspired and sad and wanted to do something other than sulk.
What do you think has helped you grow as an artist since then?
I didn’t really know any of the Dallas music community then, so getting involved with the local scene definitely changed things. I met a lot of amazing people and started playing a lot more shows.
Your debut album Great Big Wild Oak is coming out soon! How do you feel?
Excited! Nervous! Ahhhh!
Can you give us some background on the album?
Sure– the songs started out just as a big group of songs with no plan. I was just writing a lot and I knew I eventually wanted to release an album but I didn’t know much beyond that until we were talking about recording. I picked my favorite songs out of the bunch and it just went from there! The idea of “Great Big Wild Oak '' didn't come until months into recording when I wrote sapling around my birthday and the idea just grew from there!
I read that some of your previous releases were recorded on cassette tape and digital 8-track. What was the recording process like for Great Big Wild Oak?
It was kind of all over the place to be honest! We recorded at a few different home studios, a few songs in studios (all cut except true). I also had a lot of help from Vincent Bui and Joshua Luttrull. They took the wheel in recording and engineering which was new for me. In the past I always would just do things on my own and you can definitely tell!
Are most of the tracks on the album songs that you wrote specifically for the album, or were they songs that you had been working on before?
Most of the songs were songs I had been working on, there are a couple though. “Back Out” was written later in the process because I wanted a short and sweet opener. I liked the idea of a short song opening and closing the album.
What was your mindset going into the album?
I didn't really have one to be honest, I was just trying to get passed a weird time and song writing helped me
Something that stands out to me about your music is all of the layers, and the little details that make your music sound complete. How do you approach songwriting?
Thanks so much! Songwriting feels very personal to me, I say a lot that it sometimes feels like journaling. It’s different with every song, sometimes it starts with a guitar part, or a melody, but a lot of the time it just happens very naturally without a real pattern to it.
What is the most important thing to you when it comes to making a song?
Just staying true to myself!
When you’re working on a song do you have the layers and everything that you want planned out? Or do you just keep working on it and add as you go along?
Sometimes there are little ideas there like, “oh some pedalsteel here! Piano there!” but for the most part It's a very in the moment thing! I love layering vocals and sometimes it feels naked without a double track or harmony track so most of the time there’s a double track in there.
There's a wide array of instruments throughout the album like steel guitar, Saxophone, and I think clarinet??? Going off the last question, had you planned on using those instruments when you first started making each song, or did it just come about while working on each song?
Yes, on Easy! There is saxophone, flute, clarinet, pedalsteel, and so much more. I did not plan on any of those things
How do you know when a song is finished?
I don’t most of the time, I just have to force myself to say “ok it’s done”
Is there a song you’re most excited for everyone to hear?
Sapling, Annie, Remember!
The opening line of Swim is “Spare key in the front yard, underneath the bed of flowers”, do you have to hide your spare key somewhere else now that the song is out? You may want to move it.
Haha, that line is actually about when I was cat sitting at a friend's house. She had a spare key under her plant for me, but I'll tell her to change her spot just in case!
It’s almost impossible for me to pick a favorite song off the album because it’s such a strong album, but the song I’ve had on repeat the most is “Always.” Can you give us some background on that song?
Always is the oldest song of the bunch, I think I wrote it in 2018. There are some demos of it floating around but I became very “over it” i guess, and almost cut it until I got inspired to rewrite it, so I changed the verses and kept the chorus and outro and basically changed the entire song. Many people comment on how they didnt recognize it til the outro. The day we recorded it Joshua and I decided to scrap the original drum part and Joshua wrote it maybe a couple hours before we recorded it.
You’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with a ton of (I think I may have been at the Snail Mail show back in 2018??) Any most memorable moments from your time opening or touring with any bands?
Woah! That was a very cool show! Had a lot of fun getting to play with SALES, and had an amazing time touring w Rachel Levy and also Spencer Radcliffe.
Releasing your debut album is a huge accomplishment! What is your next goal for the near future?
Shows :-) Just got a practice space so we are practicing hard for them!
What do you like to do when you aren’t working on music?
Rock climbing, riding bikes, swimming, hanging with my friends and watching True Blood on HBO Max. (the worst streaming website)
Is there anything that you want our readers to know? It doesn’t have to be about music.
Sure, thank you for reading this interview and listening to the songs.
And to wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?
Why “Born Loser”?
When I decided to start the site I was looking for a name, and I couldn't thing of anything. Around that time I was listening to Juicy by Biggie on repeat. The lyrics "Born sinner, opposite of a winner" stood out to me. Somehow I got "Born Loser"out of that.
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