Alice Sorensen – Interview – Thanks for Asking

Written by on March 8, 2024

Alice Sorensen – Interview – Thanks for Asking – by Liam Sweeny.

RRX: Who are you? Not, like, philosophically, but you know, who are the members of the band, who plays what? Describe yourself in one sentence (it can be a long sentence.)

AS: My name is Alice Sorensen, I’m a Capital Region-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, previously a member of the Brooklyn-based band Alice and the Underground, featuring Jon Hildenstein on guitar, Danny Reisbick on bass, and Shane Kerwin on drums – I have to shout those guys out even though I’m solo now, because they’re amazing, and also because they collaborated remotely on my solo release and I am so proud of it.

RRX: Do you have anything out right now that people can enjoy, and if so, what’s the best way for them to get it?

AS: After writing and performing with the guys in Alice and the Underground, I worked with them once again on a solo Alice release, called Just Before Morning, which you can find on Spotify, iTunes, wherever you get your music! People who like Just Before Morning would probably also quite like the releases from the AATU days, which are an EP (Cocaine & Cabernet, 2019), a single (Remind Me – 2017) and our holiday tune, Run Little Donkey (2017).

RRX: We do this for the fans. For the blisters also, but mostly for the fans. Who’s one your best fans? Without necessarily giving their name, what are they like?

AS: When I started performing solo after moving upstate in 2021 (after 10 years in NYC), most of the Alice Sorensen fans were people who originally liked Alice and the Underground! So that’s an awesome group of people who like country music, rock & roll, and good times all around. Since venturing out on my own, the Capital Region fans are just as awesome – there is such an appreciation for original music up here that I really love. The audiences here are so attentive, I love it. I’ve had people come up to me and be like “oh you should cover this song or that song” and they’re actually great suggestions a lot of the times, I’m so impressed.

RRX: Is there a favorite time of year? What time of year does the band have the most shows? Is there a recurring thing in the year that’s particularly memorable?

AS: Summertime is absolutely my favorite time of year as a musician. There is just something so comforting and freeing about outdoor shows in nice weather. (I also feel like summertime is more fun to dress for!) I’ve had the pleasure of playing so many memorable summertime shows – kicking off the Meadowlark Music Fest was a favorite, I was actually the first performer to kick off the entire festival, it was brand new the year I opened it up! I also loved sharing a bill with Howard Fishman for the Johnstown Music & Arts Midsummer Concert Series. There is nothing better than an outdoor show – I loved playing street festivals down in Brooklyn (a favorite was the Fabulous 5th Ave Street Fair). The songwriter night I host at Great Flats Brewing is also amazing in the summer – not that it’s not also awesome in the winter, but I love when they can open the doors up and we have the breeze flowing in – so good.

RRX: What do you think is the most poorly understood thing about music, or the music you play?

AS: This is something I’ve talked about with fellow musicians lately, actually, is the idea of who the ‘self ‘ is in relation to the music you are creating, and how much of our own value we tie up in performing, creating, etc. As a mental health professional by day I became especially interested in this – it’s so easy to feel like you’re not a valuable person or a good musician if you’re not performing all the time, accepting every gig, constantly writing songs and cranking out new music. People who do that are awesome, and I respect that so much, and so when you’re making music but not necessarily working at the pace of other musicians around you, it’s easy to feel like ‘oh, my music must not be as good or worth hearing if I don’t want those things for myself’. And you start to feel that guilt.

But as a lifelong musician who found a lot of personal freedom when I stopped tying my personal worth to whether or not I was making money as a musician – it was like my world opened up.  My personal story is a little different, I worked as a music therapist and as a church organist for years and that was like, my main gig – I was so afraid that I’d be betraying myself if I dared to not have something music-related as my 9-5. But I did it, I untethered my self-worth to whether or not I was a successful musician, I pursued other interests that I had in mind for my career, and I redefined what that meant for myself – what it meant to be a successful musician. (Um, this was not something that occurred overnight, shoutout to the therapists along the way, right?) Music became fun again, and I wasn’t any less of a musician, people didn’t like my music any less, nothing terrible happened. I learned it’s okay to put your art into the world and yet not be defined by it; it can just be a thing you do. I felt like I owned my musicality more when I wasn’t making music all day or defining myself by whether I did that or not.

RRX: Playing out is tricky because you never know what’s going to happen when you get there. Sometimes a few factors team up and hit you in the face. What was your worst show like?

AS: I love this question. I’m not going to lie, I have had zero weird or bad shows in the capital region since moving here and playing, and when I think of “worst show”, I draw a blank… So I guess my dues are coming up right? But I can think of a few like, odd things. I was a featured artist on the record “Home” by Morris & Rivers, and the concert we gave in the barn in October was FREEZING cold, so that was interesting, but not ‘bad’, I was really proud of how that show turned out.

I guess I did have one recently that was completely and 100% my own fault.  I recently played a benefit show for Orange Street Cats, and I just…well, let’s just say everything worked out completely fine, but the lesson here is, always check your gear bags, kids. Do not assume a prior version of yourself has not removed cables that you vitally need. Hadn’t ever happened before, never will happen again!

Another time, years ago at this bar in the middle of nowhere, this dude kept asking us to play Johnny Cash over and over again and the more drinks he had the more adamant he became about this, so eventually I was just like yeah dude we don’t know any Johnny Cash, not a single tune, I don’t even know who that is. I can’t remember if that was an Alice and the Underground gig or if that was a duo gig (I play out with my dad from time to time too!), but we do cover Johnny Cash, for the record. At that same bar actually, another night with the band we sold the place out of one of the beers and some of the food offerings, and during a cover of “Johnny B Goode” a young man very confidently came up to the mic uninvited (I think his impression was that someone had nodded to him that it was OK?) and began to sing! But it was actually extremely awesome somehow? I feel like whenever someone comes up to your mic uninvited, nothing good is going to happen at all, but this was pure magic.

RRX: How can people keep up with you? What’s coming up, soon or eventually?

AS: I always invite people to follow my page on Facebook, which is, also will always appreciate those follows on Spotify.

I’ve got some old AATU songs I haven’t released yet as well as a couple of new ones that I’m trying to get out into the world this year! So that is exciting, folks can look for more solo releases this year.
In terms of live shows, I’m hosting another songwriter night at Great Flats Brewing on May 2nd at 7 PM, and then on June 20th, I’m playing at a fundraiser for Orange Street Cats at Meadowdale Winery out in Voorheesville.



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