Alex Giannascoli sits perched on the edge of his bed in his South Philadelphia home, strumming his Fender acoustic guitar.
Inside, a mattress is covered with a plaid fitted sheet and one pillow. Elsewhere, a stack of records leans against the wall next to an electric guitar, and his MacBook is placed next to a set of headphones on a desk. An open window on the far side of the room is the only source of light in the scarcely-furnished space.
Giannascoli, a 21-year-old Havertown native who makes music under the nickname Alex G, warns that the room is “hot and smelly.” The bedroom is where he spends his time when he is not touring or doing odd jobs on the side to supplement his burgeoning music career.
“My high school and my sister, Rachel, were always really supportive of my music,” Giannascoli said. “I started playing the piano when I was young, and eventually made GarageBand songs and began to record things when my family got a Mac.”
“Back then, [the songs] were pretty bad, but when I was 13, music was something I latched onto because it was an identity for myself,” he added. “Now, making music is ingrained into me. I cannot see myself doing anything else.”
He described himself as “reclusive,” but quickly clarified the statement by saying that he tends to follow a similar schedule of work and seeing friends each day. Giannascoli credits his fellow Philadelphia-based friends in Rasputin’s Secret Police and Brandon Can’t Dance as his inspiration for following music as a passion and career.
“DSU,” released by Orchid Tapes in mid-June, is the first Alex G release to gain the multi-instrumentalist serious attention from the media and listeners outside of his immediate fanbase. High praise from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork magazines was, in part, due to the work of Orchid Tapes.
“This is my first time working with a label of this size. Orchid Tapes really distributed “DSU” and marketed my music so people could recognize it online, outside of my Bandcamp profile,” Giannascoli said.
The singer-songwriter wrapped a cross-country headlining tour in support of the record on Aug. 17 with a sold-out show at The Fire, and is about to hit the road with California indie rockers Gardens & Villa for a two-month nationwide stint.
“I had to get used to not showering,” Giannascoli said. “The first couple of days were difficult, but once I got in the groove of things, it was amazing. We really had one objective every day, and that was to get to the show and play.”
The upcoming tour opening for Gardens & Villa places Giannascoli in a position he relishes.
“I’m looking forward to [the tour] because I enjoy being the underdog,” Giannascoli said. “It is way easier to go into a show when people don’t have expectations because then you can put on whatever kind of show you want. I can be whoever I want to be and I don’t have to uphold this character that I think people want to see.”
After receiving critical acclaim and accolades from the press, “DSU” is beginning to reach international listeners. The South Philly resident states he is “safe to say” the LP is getting a U.K. release. On Nov. 10, London-based Lucky Number Records will release “DSU” to the European market.
Giannascoli notes that he is taking an indefinite break from attending Temple. He plans to use the money earned from record sales and touring to pay off his student loans.
The leader of the DIY scene in 2014 has hopes that listeners appreciate his music both personally and on a larger scale.
“I hope people can appreciate my music as a universal art form,” Giannascoli said. “I hope there is a quality in my music that, when you listen, you take from it what you might take from looking at a picture or seeing a movie that you really like. It affects you, because you think of yourself, but also because you admire the technical skill required to create the art. I just hope my music is memorable.”
Tim Mulhern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org