California Dreaming with Singer-Producer Alvin Risk

To see more of Alvin’s photos, check out @alvinrisk on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

It’s not unusual for musicians to move to Los Angeles. The city is a mecca for successful creatives. It’s where artists go when they’re ready for the “next level.” And yet, Washington, D.C.-bred Alvin Risk (@alvinrisk) is finding it hard to concentrate.

“I didn’t have an option before, really. It was either be cold or be inside. Now, it’s like the world is my oyster,” he says, laughing. “You’re like, ‘Why am I sitting in this studio just working myself to death when I could be outside? I could go to the beach.’”

It’s a new feeling for the singer-producer. Music has always been his outlet, his means to express his wild and boundless imagination. He may admire and draw inspiration from the urban murals around him, the fine work of a skilled designer and the musings of sci-fi authors, but the man knows his medium.

“It was just the only thing that I would do, the only activity that existed that made me feel like time didn’t exist,” says Alvin. “I was super restless growing up. I was a big troublemaker. Everything was boring, I thought — until I found music, and that wasn’t boring.”

Since he was 10, music has been both his escape and his voice. In the beginning, it was guitar, though it’s been through the futuristic sound of electronics that he’s made his name. There’s so much room for experimentation, and Alvin is nothing if not sonically adventurous. His last EP, Venture, explores everything from reincarnation (“Alone”) to nuclear proliferation (“Dark Heart”). Each track serves as a window into a corner of Alvin’s mind, a small universe of his own creation. They’re not merely songs, but rather “its own little documentary.” If he can dream it, he can give it a beat, and it’s in that openness that he finds the appeal.

“Everything just has a relative period of time that it’s here or that it’s noticed, that it’s seen or remembered,” he says. “The odds that we’re here in this time and in this environment, for this short little speck, it’s miraculous. It’s amazing. It’s a reason to just celebrate. Really, we should just be partying all the time.”

And yet, you can’t party all the time, even as the perfect weather of California’s eternal summer calls your name. It can be a bit of a struggle, but for an overactive mind, the momentary pain is worth the reward.

“Since I moved here, I definitely am trying to get more stuff done during the day, it’s just weird,” he says. “I can do work all day and nothing will happen. You’ll just be going in circles, and then it gets dark, and you’re all tired and strung out, and then something will happen. You’re in that weird zone where you’re kind of uncomfortable and a little bit desperate and anxious because, man, it’s not happening, but that’s when the good stuff comes.”

—Kat Bein for Instagram @music


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