Street Sounds: Alex G.

Alex Giannascoli of The Skin Cells experiments with multiple instruments and sounds on his solo project.

Sophomore Alex Giannascoli, or Alex G., has gained a following from his solo project and full band, The Skin Cells. Giannascoli plays piano, drums and the guitar. ( KATE MCCANN / TTN )
Sophomore Alex Giannascoli, or Alex G., has gained a following from his solo project and full band, The Skin Cells. Giannascoli plays piano, drums and the guitar. ( KATE MCCANN / TTN )

Most people abandon their childhood nicknames once they reach a certain age. Alex Giannascoli, or Alex G., ended up embracing his.

“When I was younger, I had neighbors named Alex and Chris,” Giannascoli said, a native of Havertown, Pa. “[Alex’s] little brother Chris used to call me Alex G. so we knew he wasn’t talking to his brother.”

The name stuck throughout high school, and Giannascoli, a sophomore who plans to declare a major in biology, adopted the name for his solo music project.

A member of the noticeably louder project The Skin Cells, Giannascoli’s solo work is easier listening and a chance for him to show off his talents as a multi-instrumentalist, as well as a vocalist. Giannascoli’s soft and sweet vocals float over his instrumentals.

Musically influenced by his brother, who is 11 years older, Giannascoli began playing piano at a young age, adding drums to his repertoire in elementary school and later guitar, which he now considers his primary instrument.

Alex G. will be playing at Jolly’s Dueling Pianos and American Beer Bar on Sept. 18.

THE TEMPLE NEWS: You seem to have a lot of influences in your music, including a little bit of jazz. Where do those come from?

ALEX GIANNASCOLI: I took drum lessons for a year in middle school because I was trying to get into the jazz band. So I’ve been jazz-trained on the drums, so I guess that crosses over. I think I make an effort to not follow traditional patterns with my chord progressions. I mean, I do fall into them anyway, because you can’t help it. If you have a chance to write a poppy song, you’re going to do it because it sounds great. But I kind of make effort to make it a little bit dissonant or something like that, and I know jazz does that also. But they have like a real purpose, and a thought out thing behind it, which is different. I do it kind of randomly. I guess that’s a similarity.

TTN: Who would you consider your main musical influences?

AG: My first main influence was Rasputin’s Secret Police. When I was in eighth grade, I saw them play at my high school. I looked them up, and the guitarist for that band does his own solo stuff called “Brandon Can’t Dance,” so I was listening to that. He recorded it all by himself in his house, and I recognized that he did it by himself and thought, “This sounds awesome, I have to do it too.” I guess as far as writing music, I listen to old Courtney Love and Silver Jews.

TTN: You don’t hear a lot of people list Courtney Love as a main influence. What do you like about her?

AG: I guess that she has really confrontational lyrics. She’s just really hateful in all of her songs, and it’s awesome. She’s got a lot of guts. She’s so cool.

TTN: When you’re making music, do you record everything yourself?

AG: For like 90 percent of them, I’ll just do it myself. I’ll write it on guitar, and then I’ll either record a guitar part or I’ll record a piano part first. I don’t have a bass, so I record the electric guitar and I use this effect on the computer where I can turn it down like 12 pitches so it’s like an octave lower so it sounds like a bass. I’ll usually record the vocals last. That differs. Sometimes I’ll write the lyrics before I record it, or I’ll write them as I’m recording it.

TTN: That’s really cool that you sometimes think of lyrics as you’re recording them. Do you have a particular place where you draw inspiration from for your lyrics?

AG: Sometimes, I just like, pull them out of my a–, but other times I’m just trying to convey a particular feeling or something like that. If I’m trying to portray a different atmosphere, I will try to think of lyrics that will put you in that atmosphere.

TTN: You’re pretty prevalent among the houseshow scene at Temple. What do you like about playing house shows?

AG: I guess because you sort of like know everybody, it’s not that threatening, which is cool. You look around, there’s like this giant posse that welcomes you. Whether they’re too drunk or whatever — they’re not going to judge you too hard. Also, there’s not a lot of pressure to be great. People are just going to listen to you if they want to listen to you, or they will do their own thing. It’s super casual, which is something that’s really nice. The people are just enjoying music and making music because they like it, which is awesome.

Jenelle Janci can be reached at

*Disclaimer: Assistant Photo Editor Abi Reimold has recorded backup vocals for Alex G. She was not involved in the assigning, reporting or editing of this story.

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