Alex Silas & the Subterraneans
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Alex Silas & the Subterraneans

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Hip Hop

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The past year has been one of growth for Alex Silas — not just as an artist, but also as a person.
The Ottawa rapper grew closer to new friends while drifting apart from others, experienced a whirlwind romance while travelling abroad and addressed personal issues as a means of healing some of the wounds of his past.

“It’s been a tumultuous and eventful year,” he admits.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and I think I’ve done a lot of growing up. Got my head on my shoulders and I’m a lot more focused on what I want to accomplish, what I want to do with my life.”

Determined to immerse himself more fully in his music, Silas set out to make his first full-length album. Investing virtually all of his free time and money into recording, making music videos, commissioning the album art, and organizing over a dozen artist appearances and collaborations, Silas is releasing Roots, a follow-up to his 2012 EP Lovers and Fighters.

Unlike his previous offering, Silas was determined to make an album that covered more than just romantic relationships.

“I touched on a lot of subjects I had never written about — personal stuff like my relationship with my Dad, stuff from my childhood — things that I not only had never written about, but had never really talked about either,” he explains.

“But Roots isn’t just about the past. I tried writing a lot about my current conflicts too: dealing with insecurities, self-destructive tendencies, depression. It’s not really stuff that’s easy to write about, but it’s cathartic. I feel like my own personal growth and the development of the album really went hand in hand. It made me as much as I made it.”

Musically, Roots isn’t your typical straight-up rap record. It’s a blend of hip hop, alternative, blues, folk, punk, reggae and spoken word.

The hope, Silas says, is that by pouring his heart into this project and revealing his vulnerabilities through raw, honest emotion, he’ll be able to establish a deeper connection with his audience.

“I wear my heart on my sleeve in my songs. I hope it resonates with people and they can relate to it. I hope it makes you feel something.”

Jen Traplin
MetroNews Ottawa - Metro News


Folks, this is Alex Silas. He’s one of those guys who has a vision that’s a bit all over the place. He’s strongly influenced by hip hop, rock, folk, country. I haven’t seen a lot of jazz yet, but I’m sure that’s coming soon. I really dig his work because Alex finds a common space for all these sounds and makes is sound natural. One pet peeve of mine with a lot of top 40 stuff is that they have a multitude of producers mix artists and sounds for maximum marketing penetration (throw a popular rap artist into the middle of a pop-country artists’ song and we’ll sell a lot more product).

Alex mixes these sounds on his own, with his own voice. He’s multifaceted as a performer, and a pretty great songwriter too. Check him out.

Kevin McGowan
The Revue - The Revue


Ottawa’s Hip Hop Hippie, Alex Silas, just released a fresh new video for the lead single off his upcoming album. The track is called “This Town” and is an awesome combination of hip-hop and folk. It is a little more on the folk-country side than some of his other stuff, but it still has that hip-hop and harmonica combo that drew me to Silas. There is definitely a lot of room for some harmonica and acoustic guitar in the hip-hop world and I truly dig it.

Anyone from Ottawa or living in the capital can certainly find familiar landmarks in this video, which is something I like to find in local releases. I love the opening line, “I want to make a record about, where I come from, where I am and where I am going. I want to make a record about growth.” If “This Town,” is a sign of things to come on his upcoming album, Roots, which is scheduled to be released this summer, I am pretty excited.

Eric Scharf
Ottawa Showbox - Ottawa Show Box


Alex Silas’ 7-track album, Songs For Lovers & Fighters, is exactly what it claims to be, but is anything but cliché. Silas constantly mixes up the flavour on this diverse album, each track bringing a different vibe while maintaining a constant theme throughout. Silas introduces indie-rock to rap in ways I’ve never heard before, creating a fresh genre all his own. His tracks are not over-produced, instead featuring live backing instruments, and his rap skills are fine-tuned and well-articulated. I very much enjoyed Silas’ merge of genres and would recommend this album to rockers and R&B lovers alike.

It’s difficult to speak about specific highlights on Songs For Lovers & Fighters because the album is filled with them and deserves a complete listen. While I thoroughly appreciated every song on the album, my favourite would have to be “Destroy Myself”. This song combines rap and rock elements impressively – think Eminem-Aerosmith or old-school Linkin Park. The track’s lyrical depiction of someone with an addiction is quite moving. It’s self-loathing, epic, and ultimately relatable. The metal-esque break-down is the pinnacle of the song, mirroring a mental break-down in the speaker. The electric guitar and hard driving bass mixed with Silas’ screaming vocals make this a really angry and emotional climax not to be missed.

In contrast, tracks such as “Cheap Wine”, and “Delightfully Fucked Up”, are endearing, genuine, and relatable depictions of true love. These specific tracks project more of the indie influence than others. “Delightfully Fucked Up” features a spritely alt-folk tempo with female backing vocals, acoustic guitar, and interchanging shaker and drum percussion. Karolinka Kaminska’s high pitch vocals contrast well with Silas’ deep voice. “Cheap Wine” is more mellow and organic. The harmonica, wood block percussion, and birds chirping in the background create vivid imagery for the listener, and fit nicely with the innocent and touching lyrics: “she’s the kinda girl that refills ice trays at parties”. Overall, both tracks are goofy and fun-loving songs that reveal the starry-eyed side of love.

The other tracks on the album stand alone from each other. The heavy electro vibe in the backing production of “Love Wasted” makes it the only track of its kind on the album, with the help of featured artist The Matt Dorgan Project. “Roll The Dice” brings a hard rock, dirty party vibe with a bit of country twang, Kid Rock style. “Hipster Grrrl” creates a dance-rock combo that makes it the catchiest track on the record, with Chase Van Dusen’s R&B featured vocals on the chorus demanding gyrating bodies. Finally, “Coming Home” features a persistent, bass-centred backing track that lightens up with Sandra Bunga’s romantic vocal response. Each song is worth a listen and requires a different state of mind to analyse and groove with. From sex to romance to heartbreak, this album covers every aspect of love with grace and style.

Samantha Cowan
Independent Music News
- Independent Music News


Ottawa radio has many distinct sounds, and distinct camps. Unless you’re Bob Marley, it’s hard to get radio play on more than one radio station (all of which play a lot of Bob Marley, by the way). Alex Silas is one of those artists who have managed to not only get played on traditional radio (which is very tough for any indie act), but has been given time on two very different stations: Live 88.5 and Hot 89.9.

Alex considers himself “Indie Alternative Hip Hop.” The description covers a lot of musical ground, as does his sound. I call artists like Alex “bridges” as he seamlessly combines some groovy hip hop with some country-influenced alternative pop. He’s one to watch…but for today, just have a listen.

Kevin McGowan
Ottawa Citizen - Capital Revue - Ottawa Citizen


It isn’t often that one comes across an artist who can draw on a variety of different influences and blend them seamlessly into one finished product. However, that’s exactly what Ottawa’s Alex Silas has done with his latest EP. Catching the ears of many at the local level this past July with his five-track effort Catania, Silas returns this time with Songs for Lovers and Fighters, a seven-track record which sees him cover the gamut in terms of outside influences on his music. Rooted in hip-hop, Silas incorporates everything from country to electro in expert fashion, making for a very diverse, enjoyable listen.

Right from the get-go, it’s apparent that Silas has an eye for creativity with “Delightfully F’d Up”. On the track, he proceeds to rap over a quick country two-step, delivering lyrics of love and friendship (I’m a kid on the beach buildin' sandcastles/I dig you), while special guest Karolinka Kaminska joins him in singing the hook. He then switches gears entirely on “Hipster Grrrl”, having lead singer Chase Van Dusen of Ottawa pop rock group Benefit of a Doubt deliver a very R&B-esque hook. Musically, the track heavily relies on funk influences, grooving forward with a prominent bassline and a guitar lick straight out of the seventies. “Coming Home” sounds like something The Black Keys could easily be featured on, with its blues-rock stomp and soulful vocal appearance from Sandra Bunga. Where will this EP go next? Straight to the dancefloor, with “Love Wasted”. This track features pulsing electro grooves from Ottawa local Matt Dorgan, while also featuring a slick electric guitar tapping solo near the end of the song.

It is at this point on Songs for Lovers and Fighters where Silas drops a few numbers geared more towards the fighters. “Destroy Myself” features some lyrical flow and content that offer up shades of a young Eminem. The song is mostly downtempo, characterized by its plodding guitar line, but soon explodes into a thunderous part that wouldn’t seem out of place in any hard rock or heavy metal work. “Roll the Dice” puts more electric guitar swagger up front for the listener, while the album returns to the acoustic side of things with the easy-going “Cheap Wine”.

Songs for Lovers and Fighters really shines in the area of musical diversity, with Alex Silas showing his appreciation for a multitude of different musics by mixing them in to his final product. The man does so in a way that constantly keeps the listener guessing what style will be presented next, while also showing that he does still have room to grow as both a singer, rapper, and lyricist.

Calum Slingerland
EnvyMagazine.ca
- Envy Magazine


Ask Peter Simpson how the hip hop scene is in Ottawa these days and he likely won’t say a word.

The Ottawa Citizen columnist and music writer for the past 15 years will instead tell you head to Irene’s Pub this weekend for his hand-picked Marvest show that features everything from acoustic and gypsy rockabilly to modern day, conscious hip hop.
It’s exactly the lineup Simpson was hoping for, to blend three different-sounding bands together with similar foundations in acoustic, electric and rootsy sounds. He found that seamless mix with The Maxim Cossette Combo, Slo’ Tom and The Handsome Devils and rising Ottawa hip hop star Alex Silas and the Subterraneans.
“It’s just different from most hip hop,” says Simpson, adding that Silas is one of those hip hoppers who stays away from the typical themes.
“If it’s dissing women, I’m just not going to listen to it, if there is too much of the N word, I just won’t listen to it … I think we should be past that by now, although we are not. But a lot of rappers are and Alex is one of them.”

Things will start out a little weird at Irene’s Pub Saturday night with gypsie rockabillies The Maxim Cossette Combo opening up the show at 9:30. The gypsy folk four-piece, who used to be called the Sick Sick Sicks, still pack that nomadic party punch that Ottawa fell in love with.

And who doesn’t love a good dustup with Slo’ Tom and the Handsome Devils? It’s pure acoustic rock at its finest, littered with humour and apathetic attitudes. The band refers to themselves as “crazy rollicking country” and that sounds hella fun. Alex Silas & the Subterraneans then take over the stage as the main headliners at 11:15 p.m. and bring their witty, alternative hip hop, filled with overtones of outlaw country, twangy folk and synthetic beats.
It’s no surprise that Silas has landed a headlining slot at the festival.

“I think Ottawa has an absolutely thriving hip hop scene,” adds Simpson.

“I wouldn’t imagine there is any aspect of the music industry in Ottawa that is more vibrant than the hip hop scene over the last couple of years.”

But hip hop isn’t the only thing that will be echoing throughout the Glebe this weekend, as Marvest will send more than 60 bands down Bank Street for a wild weekend of music.

There are a total of nine shows that have been put together by a handful of Ottawa music writers, bloggers and photographers that have hand-picked bands to play in the showcase Friday and Saturday.

And these cats aren’t just dudes and dudettes who pretend to know a lot about music by throwing on the new Metric drop at their weekly hipster dinner party. No, these are passionate music peeps that have been grinding it out every single week, writing previews and reviews for little or no money, to give Ottawa musicians a chance on the big stage.

Who doesn’t want to see a show curated by music photo blogger Ming Wu? How about an evening with Ryan Bresee, who has been manning his Whatever is Cool With Me radio show on CKCU for 18 years? Or the Ottawa Showbox night with Jack Pine & The Fire, Jonathan Becker & The North Fields, and Nightshades taking over Original Burger Joint Saturday Night.

A quick glance at just a few of these shows will make you cancel your weekend knitting circle to join in on the sonic fun. - Metro Ottawa


Discography

Roots - The Opera of June Ma単ana (June 30 2014)
Songs for Lovers & Fighters - Rebounds (November 2013)
Songs for Lovers & Fighters (November 2012)
Catania (March 2012)

Photos

Bio

Alex Silas & the Subterraneans are an alternative hip-hop group based out of Ottawa, Ontario. Since transitioning from a solo career to forming a full fledged band in early 2014, Alex Silas has drawn upon such varied inspiration as the artistic culture of the 1950's beat generation, classic songwriters of the 60's and 70's, and contemporary rap to create a unique brand of emotional and honest hip-hop. Renowned music critic Alan Cross has described him as an artist who "makes a palatable smoothie out of indie rock, blues, electronic, folk and reggae".

The current incarnation of Alex Silas & the Subterraneans consists of a rapper, drummer, guitarist, bassist, and DJ. The band released their critically praised album "Roots" in the summer of 2014. One of the album's singles, "Hip Hop Hippie", was named one of the Top 20 Songs of the Ottawa Region for 2014 by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.


 

Band Members