Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Kerry Alexander

Kerry Alexander

Musician (Bad Bad Hats, Mixed History)

Posted in musician

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Kerry Alexander. I live in Minneapolis, MN. I'm a musician, songwriter, mix-maker, and a server at a café. I currently make music in a band called Bad Bad Hats, but I've been making music as a solo artist for many years.

I also have a mix series called Mixed History in which I make mixes that could have hypothetically been exchanged between famous couples in history. I like finding common thematic ground across different genres and I love the challenge of arranging a group of songs to tell a complete story. A soundtrack without the movie, if you will.

What hardware do you use?

I write almost every one of my songs on a Dixon classical guitar that my dad bought for me in middle school for $20. It's named Agatha, after Agatha Christie, whose books I love to read and collect. It's a small guitar, so it travels well. The nylon strings make it easy to play. It's my pride and joy. I have a red 1965 Epiphone Olympic, which was the first serious electric guitar I ever owned. Before I got that guitar, I had never written riffs or attempted soloing, nor had I spent any time thinking about amps or pedals. When I got that guitar, it was like a whole new world was open to me. In some ways it felt like I was learning an entirely new instrument. But it was a great source of inspiration for that reason. I still have my Epiphone, but I currently play a white Gibson SG. I play through a blue tone Fender Blues Jr. III amp.

I sing through a Sennheiser e 935. I recently bought a foam cover for my microphone to reduce getting shocked by it on stage. It has been effective thus far.

I have an ever-growing collection of pedals, but the ones I use most are my Aqua-Puss delay pedal, my Interstellar Overdriver, and my Shaker Vibrato.

A college ruled composition notebook + a Pilot Precise V5 RT black pen is my fave combo for writing lyrics.

And what software?

For my mixes, I use iTunes and Rdio to sort through songs. Rdio's nice because I can search for songs I've never heard of using keywords. For instance, that's how I found Patsy Cline's version of "You Made Me Love You" for my Frankenstein and the Monster mix. Once the mixes are set in Rdio, I like to buy all the songs that I'm using. Because paying musicians is cool. And because I love having a stacked music library.

On the songwriting side of things, I probably use Voice Memos more than GarageBand at this point for demoing new songs. I like the immediacy of recording into my phone. I like to sing in the car, work out melodies that way. I get so distracted in GarageBand. It's too easy to complicate things. I love when a song comes together from beginning to end with just voice and guitar. To let the melody and the lyrics shine in that way is really satisfying.

What would be your dream setup?

I would love to own a home with a finished basement, if only to have a place to store all of my guitar cases. They are the bulkiest, most annoying things to have in a small apartment. It would be amazing to have a dedicated music space to play and record in. Especially if I could just roll out of bed and be in it. I also wouldn't mind a 12-string Rickenbacker.