Thursday, February 29, 2024

“As a composer myself, I know there is no “one way” to interpret a piece…” Interview with Victor Alexeeff

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena, as published by

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Hello Victor. You were a child prodigy, entering the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at the age of seven, having your first album at the age of nine, receiving 33 different scholarships, and appearing in many TV and radio programs. How did it all begin? Were you able to have a normal childhood even through all these major events at such an early age? Who was the person or teacher who influenced you the most in those years?
Victor Alexeeff: I guess you don’t think about these things so much when you’re really young. With so many people saying how gifted you are, you feel that is what you’re supposed to do. And yes, it’s not normal. But it was OK. With all the attention, you do feel special. My greatest support came from my grandfather Basil. My greatest influence in music was my piano teacher, Boris Berlin.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: So, you studied to become a classical pianist, but turned out to be much more, with interests in many aspects of the music world. What triggered your interest in writing music scores, for example? What movies and TV shows did you write scores for?
Victor Alexeeff: I grew up at an exciting time with the age of synths and computers entering the landscape. Rock ‘n Roll was sweeping across the globe. As much as I loved the classics, it was the rock stars who were the new Beethovens. Exploring new ideas and with total freedom to create whatever you felt. I was 14 when I joined my first band, ‘Scarlett Fever’.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Is your album “Amazing Drones” a collection of your music for films and TV shows?
Victor Alexeeff: That along with a whole bunch of pieces that I upload to the music libraries for creators to use on their projects.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena:  What is the “Piano Waves” CD about?
Victor Alexeeff: I wanted to hear something really relaxing while rollerblading in Venice Beach and it was something that others wanted to get a copy of after listening, so I decided to release a CD.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You were part of the experimental band NRG. Could you tell us more about this?
Victor Alexeeff: This was a very crazy and experimental rock band. Jeff Boyce (Bass), Adam Little (Drums and tons of “noise things”) and I jammed around Toronto playing weird psychedelic music in clubs after hours. Later we played live music to classic films like “Metropolis’ by Fritz Lang and ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which was very cool.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You also acted in “Debussy Has Left the Building” … How did you like that experience?
Victor Alexeeff: Certainly, it is different than being a musician. For sure, if you’re the lead, you get all the attention from everyone and that much ego pumping is pretty awesome. Of course, after the shoot is over, it’s quite lonely. I’ll stick to being a musician.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: “Classics Unleased” is an exciting experiment. What inspired you to record this album?
Victor Alexeeff: It started as a thought experiment: If the great composers were alive today, how would they use all this tech?  An inspiration was Wendy Carlos’ ‘Switched-on Bach’, Which was a very cool album at the time. So, I figured with my background, this would be a nice project to do.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: What do you mean by “unleashed”?
Victor Alexeeff: Sometimes, it feels that music from the past has been taken over by purists.  I understand it in some way. They are saying that the composer intended it “this way” (and not any other way). However, being a composer myself, I know there is no “one way” to interpret a piece. Beethoven was the ultimate interpreter. They all were. That’s how they came up with such innovative ideas.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: What kind of audience do you believe will be interested in this kind of recording?
Victor Alexeeff: I hope everyone….

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Do you think you will do more of this type of music recording?
Victor Alexeeff: Yes. In fact, I am working on one now.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You stated that you do mostly Art Rock? What does that mean?
Victor Alexeeff: I like a lot of music types, but for me, music is more art than a commodity and with Art Rock you are free to think outside the box.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena:  You worked on many Special Projects. Could you tell us something about your Detroit International Airport project?
Victor Alexeeff: That was a very interesting and cool project. The idea was to create a Zen atmosphere at the airport with a music and light show to forget the stress of flying for a moment. The tunnel has more than 50 speakers stretching over 700 ft. And a really cool effect is that sounds are traveling up and down the tunnel.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You also composed a musical for the National Museum of the United States Air Force… 
Victor Alexeeff: Correct. That was at Wright Patterson Airport celebrating the Wright Brothers with a special guest, astronaut Senator John Glenn.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Any other projects in the works at this time?
Victor Alexeeff: There’s always something on my mind!

Tiziano Thomas Dossena:  What musician you worked with left you the biggest mark?
Victor Alexeeff: Too many to mention. They all leave a mark.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: If you could talk to anyone, whether from the past or the present, who would that person be? What would be the topic of your conversation?
Victor Alexeeff: Genghis Khan … Are we really related?

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: A message for our readers?
Victor Alexeeff: When listening to music, close your eyes and lose yourself to the vibrations that move your soul.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena
Tiziano Thomas Dossena
Tiziano Thomas Dossena is the Editorial Director of L’Idea Magazine. He is the author of “Caro Fantozzi” (2008), “Dona Flor, An Opera by van Westerhout” (2010), "Sunny Days and Sleepless Nights" (2016), "The World as an Impression: The Landscapes of Emilio Giuseppe Dossena" (2020), "Federico Tosti, Poeta Antiregime" (2021), and "La Danza del Colore" (2023). Dossena is the editor of A Feast of Narrative anthology series and co-editor of Rediscovered Operas Series books on librettos.

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