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Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFTRA

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter





Indie-pop duo A City On A Lake make its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va. The band's leader, Alex Wong, has appeared on Mountain Stage twice before, most recently with The Paper Raincoat, alongside singer-songwriter Amber Rubarth.

For his latest project, Wong is joined by his friends Kevin Rice on drums and Latin Grammy nominee Ximena Sariñana on keyboards and "everything else." Over the past few years, Wong has worked as a co-writer and producer with everyone from Vienna Teng, Elizabeth and the Catapult and Melissa Ferrick to country-pop newcomers Delta Rae. A City on a Lake's set includes the song "Oceanside," which was not heard in the radio broadcast. - NPR

"Alex Wong – “A City On A Lake” Review"

Alex Wong’s solo monkier A City On A Lake makes his début with his self entitled album and my goodness me – its absolutely stunning.

“The Lake, Part One” is an ambience piece that I’m assuming is the life going on around the lake we’re at as it gives way to “Are You Listening” which is a warming piano, organ and vocal track. Alex’s vocal’s are delicate and clean. The song itself then starts to build with percussion and all kinds of motif trickery slowly seeping into the track as it grows and develops into something quite rousing with all the vocal collages and the simple song structure being given room to breathe. “Never Look Back” sees things growing again with its childlike verses and freeforming choruses. Again there is a certain warming feeling to everything and it’s like a Christmas song without all the jingles. There’s some lovely crisp production throughout and here’s a place where it really shines.

“Oceanside” which features Ximena Sarinaña is the lead single and takes things to melancholy guitar front with its absolutely heartbreaking melody. By using a lot of little noises and percussive edges or open strings the audio palette is filled to the brim without every overcoming the emotion of the main melody. It’s a certain gift that A City On A Lake has throughout and its somewhat of his trademark. “Twenty Faces” is an interesting pop rock track with a tripping beat and an affinity for going for different chords so as to not be normal. Coupled with Alex’s quiet vocals and lots of xylophone love, it’s a cutely understated track.

“The Lake, Part Two” is a very short harmonium track like a demo which falls away to “We Will Surrender” which is by far the most uptempo track on the album so far and its also one of the most sparse. The piano only chimes the chords and its left to the vocals and token keyboard synth waves to carry the track. It’s an unusual juxtaposition that then bursts into a big middle eight before the final run through but again, it’s these production choices that hallmark the album all the way through. “The Fighter” again is a simple song that is given unusual production values. The drums are muted to a single clash and there’s a lot of warped twinkling flurries of keyboards. It’s as if the goal of the song is to change where each instrument would normally sit on the audio spectrum. I love it when artists play with things like that.

“Always Something Better” is more traditional with catchy hooks and is a fantastic place to start withif you’re new to A City On A Lake. Its delicate but dramatic and showcases all the sides of the album and artist in one track. “Patiently” is an acoustic guitar and vocal led track for the most part and is again understated in its beauty and almost warm to the touch. Alex’s simple vocals suit this type of music best and finishes things off nicely before the bizarre “Album Credits” where Alex basically reads the linear notes over background ambience of a fair. A unique idea!

A City On A Lake is a clever album from a clever artist. While the songs themselves are very simple, the production behind them is anything but. It raises the entire thing up a level and suddenly you have a really special album that you want to take time investigating and working its craft on you. Very highly recommended. - HIGHER PLAIN MUSIC

"Alex Wong Opens Up About New Venture A City On A Lake"

The name Alex Wong may not necessarily be one that’s immediately recognizable, but just take a look at his already impressive resumé and it quickly becomes apparent that this is an artist who has made a tremendous impact on the indie music scene in his varied career. Moving between the roles of singer-songwriter, producer, engineer, band member and all-around mentor, Wong has run the gamut and done so with aplomb and dexterity. His projects carry a subtle signature that is engaging, modern-with-heart and wholly engaging, and his approachable skill pushes his collaborators to explore new territories and ways of expression, which ultimately benefits the project and creates sounds and spaces that reveal new strengths.

His most recent project is dubbed A City On A Lake, but is essentially the fruition of a long journey to solo work. It may carry a stylized name, but this is the solo album that Wong has struggled to make, and the outcome transforms those trials into triumphs. It’s a cohesive vignette that examines the intersection of urban life with personal growth and troubles, covering the territories of love and loss, but overall it’s a cogent and thoughtful reflection on the human condition.

Glide Magazine recently spoke with Alex Wong about his new album, the path he’s taken from toddler to adult, his time with Vienna Teng, what excites him about being a producer for acts like Delta Rae, Melissa Ferrick and Ari Hest, and above all what it’s like to make a name for yourself in a business that celebrates innovation and individuality but doesn’t exactly make it the easiest to navigate the many, many pitfalls of a life as an artist.

Tell me about your musical history, all the way back to when you were a child. What compelled you to make music?

I started playing piano when I was five, and was taught by my mother. I never thought too much about doing it-- it’s just always been something that I did. Also, I have seen photo evidence of me banging on a toy drum at age three that my grandmother gave me, with a huge demonic smile on my face-- I guess that should tell you something! I started playing drums for real at age eight, after careful lobbying with my parents. They agreed to let me have a snare drum, but only if I continued my piano lessons. Eventually, they saw where my interest lay and let me continue with drums.

I got into classical music in high school, and that was my first major influence. I was completely smitten with the orchestra and playing repertoire as a percussionist. In fact, Strauss’ Tod und Verklärung was the first music to make me cry.

During college I took a fairly abrupt left turn, after worrying that I was going to end up in an orchestra for the rest of my life, so I joined a rock band and moved to LA. The band was signed to Epic Records for a few years, and we toured and released an album together. The band broke up soon after, but because of this experience I’d found a new love for pop music. I loved the structure, the freedom and digestibility of the form. I wasn't writing yet when i was in my mid-twenties-- that didn't come until much later on. I guess I didn't have much to say before then, and coming from an instrumentalist background singing was always the most difficult thing for me, mostly because of self-confidence reasons. But, I discovered that I loved songwriting and equally so the producing aspect (which I strongly feel is part of the writing process) and eventually started singing my own material and found a way to do it that was comfortable for me.

I first became familiar with your work during your time collaborating with Vienna Teng. How did that relationship start?

We actually met at an open mic in Mountain View, CA. We were both fans of each other’s songs and struck up a friendship immediately, but it was a few years until we would collaborate together. My band, The Animators, toured with her a few times, actually. I started touring with her band in 2007 and we produced a record (Inland Territory) together in 2008. Then, we started doing a lot of duo shows, which was really fun and musically challenging. I've learned a lot from her as a musician. She is an amazing talent.

What was your favorite thing about working with Vienna, both live and on the Inland Territory record?

I was always impressed (and jealous) with her ability to consistently nail performances with little or no practice/warm up. Her voice always sounds in top shape no matter what, which is not the case with me by any means! On the record, I really liked her openness to new ideas and desire to push her music and comfort zones as far as she could, even though her fans would have been very happy with more of the same.

What caused you and Vienna to part ways?

She went to grad school and was taking a break from being a full-time musician, so we just weren't going to be touring nearly as much. For me, I had hit a point where it was "now or never" with - GLIDE MAGAZINE

"Listen: Alex Wong - "Always Something Better""

The self-titled July debut from Brooklyn songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Alex Wong -- aka A City On A Lake -- is a pretty heady affair. After a number of collaborative efforts (and co-writes) with the likes of Ari Hest, Vienna Teng and Elizabeth Ziman, Wong stretched out on his own with an album we noted was chock full of "intricate, classically-inspired arrangements, sophisticated chamber pop melodies and percussive underpinnings and magnificent choral harmonies". A good example is "Always Something Better", six-minute piece of lush cinematic production that transforms Wong's simple melody -- kicking in at the 90-second mark after an elaborate intro -- into something both poignant and grand. More DC on A City On A Lake here. - DIRECT CURRENT MUSIC

"The Perils of Self-Producing: 9 Things Alex Wong Learned Making “A City On A Lake”"

WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN:Who’s producing the producers? Since many of the women and men who helm recordings for a living are songwriters themselves, it’s inevitable that they’ll draw the tricky task of overseeing the production of an artistic album by a fellow producer.

Alex Wong’s self-production process had its share of struggles.
Like one psychotherapist analyzing another shrink, or a National League pitcher serving up a fastball to the other guy on the mound, such reflective undertakings present unique mental challenges. As you can imagine, things get even more complicated when the producer you’re producing…is you.
That was the conundrum that the bicoastal producer/engineer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Alex Wong faced in the creation of the newly-released, self-titled album by his artistic alter ego, A City On A Lake. With a successful track record of producing/songwriting for the likes of Vienna Teng, Elizabeth & the Catapult, Melissa Ferrick, Delta Rae, Ximena Sariñana, and Ari Hest, Wong technically knew what he had to do to craft his own release – but he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Taking things a step further, Wong not only completed the record – a spare, lush and beautiful collection of emotionally organic/electronic songs – but has been touring to promote the atmospheric album with a three-piece band. Accompanied on the road by Sariñana on keyboards and Kevin Rice on drums, Wong (who sang, played guitar, and drum machine on the dates) was reminded first-hand how the experience of a song can change from studio to stage.
Read on to see how the challenges of making his own record, and touring in support of it affected this emerging producer – and why Alex Wong believes his next clients will directly benefit as a result.
When you’re producing an album that’s your own, as opposed to having another artist’s name on it, how does that change the dynamic of your approach? And what stays the same?
I think that theoretically nothing changes, but in practice everything changes. And I would also say it was about a four-times-as-slow process: What I was going for artistically and the goals as a producer were the same, and I was still using the same criteria quality-wise and what I was shooting for. It just took me longer when I was producing my own stuff.
The reason it takes me longer is because I was the only one here for most of it. It was sort of me against myself. I wanted that challenge, but it was also more of a mental struggle, getting over personal barriers and the editing monster, and stuff like that.
A City On A Lakeis an imaginative record, very atmospheric, cinematic — and very much a studio album I’d say. When you made it, were you thinking ahead to its live presentation? Or does that not enter into the equation?

Studio time is for the studio album.
I think that I tend to approach the studio thing and the live thing very differently. I tend to ask the question of “Does it work?” in both scenarios, but what that means is often a very different thing. My goal is that the emotional content and the intention of the song come through on both a record and live, but I don’t try to recreate either one in the other medium. I’ve never really been into that.
I’ve never been somebody who said, “We have these string parts here, so we have to do that live, and we can’t track with too many instruments because we can’t recreate that live.”
Instead, you have this fun and difficult challenge, where you’re given a set of tools and you have to figure out what the vital elements are. You’re asking, “What is causing emotion in this song, and what can get those things across when we don’t have 48 tracks to work with?”
And the record is a very artificial environment, too. You can put something emotional high in the mix, like an acoustic guitar that wouldn’t necessarily be heard live over the other stuff. On the record you’re the master of time and space, and you can directly control so many scenarios.
You’ve been touring in support of this album, and will continue to tour. Do you think a producer/engineer approaches a live tour differently than an artist would?
Yeah, probably! I don’t think you can help it.
And I think there’s a lot more micromanagement. I’ve always thought of what I do live as more of live producing, because with Vienna Teng I was playing a bunch of different things, and I made a setup that was very specific to that set. I produced the (2009) record Inland Territory with full-on orchestral arrangements. Then we went to playing as a duo live, and all of that stuff went into a completely different setup.
Trying to figure out how those songs are going to work in that setup, the live set that we came up with was radically different from the record. We built things from the ground up, and finally Vienna wound up putting out a live record due to the radically different versions of the material we came up with that people loved.
When I create a live set, I come up with the fundamental th - SONIC SCOOP


With A City on a Lake, Alex Wong has touched commercial heartache gold. It’ll be genuinely shocking if this release doesn’t take off, due to a pivotal placement in an emotion-heavy scene on a network television show. The nice part about that is that these songs are delicately assembled pieces that are gorgeously textured and produced, which is more than a lot of other artists who achieved notoriety in that fashion. On A City on a Lake Wong is in full confessional mode and drives these confessions home with deliberate arrangements. Miraculously, they don’t feel overly trite or contrived, which speaks volumes to Wong’s talent and abilities. This is a very effective and quietly compelling debut record from an artist who seems destined for future over-exposure. - POP MATTERS


Producer and instrumental wunderkind Alex Wong has paid his dues by serving in support to numerous other artists over the years, from songstress/chanteuse Vienna Teng to pop pundit Ari Heist. Not surprisingly then, it’s long past time he stepped into the spotlight with an outfit of his own invention. Happily, the descriptively dubbed A City On A Lake’s eponymous debut provides everything that ought to be expected from this brilliant muso, in particular the suggestive soundscapes and and haunting ambience he’s always offered others. Take, for example, the quiet caress and soothing strings of “Oceanside” or the gentle sing-along enticement of “Twenty Faces,”only two of the extraordinary numbers plied from this sumptuous blend of techno rhythms and chamber pop finesse. Wong creates melodies from sonic suggestion, imbuing every song with its own spectral designs. Granted, repeat listens may be needed to fully appreciate every nuance, but be assured that once those aural inducements sink in, the charms will become readily apparent. Haunting and enticing, A City On A Lake proves a lovely destination indeed. ( - NO DEPRESSION BLOG


Has New York stumbled upon our own verson of The Swell Season? A City On A Lake is taking a stab at providing us with that special dialogue particular to the young and in love. A soft meditation on lessons learned and love found, Alex Wong's latest song 'Oceanside' will gently rock you back and forth through its lilting violins, lullaby harmonies, and moonlit rhythms. For the song, singer/songwriter Wong recruited Mexican rocker Ximena Sariñana to provide the tune's opposite voice, and the pair perform beautifully together. Check out the new video below & see him play this Thursday (8.23) at Rockwood Music Hall - Mike Levine (@Goldnuggets) - THE DELI MAGAZINE NYC


A City On A Lake is the self-titled solo debut and latest creative project from talented Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alex Wong. After years of working closely with the likes of Vienna Teng, Amber Rubarth, Elizabeth and the Catapult and Ari Hest, Wong decided the time was at hand to step out on his own. "It was a unique challenge for me as I was trying to fill the roles of both solo artist and producer," he observes, "roles I knew individually but had never attempted together." The new project due July 17 brings to the forefront the wide-screen elements that have been synonymous with Wong's prior collaborative efforts -- intricate, classically-inspired arrangements, sophisticated chamber pop melodies and percussive underpinnings and magnificent choral harmonies that sound delivered from the heavens by the godchild of Brian Wilson and Paul Simon. Lead track "Oceanside" is a stunner that manages to impart complex passages with graceful simplicity, Wong and Ximena Sariñana wrapping their voices together in a gorgeous embrace while the delicate instrumental backing delivers both heat and light with a warm incandescent glow. - DIRECT CURRENT MUSIC


- released on Beverly Martel Records July 2012




Alex Wong is a LATIN GRAMMY-nominated artist and producer whose signature sonic style resonates in all he creates–from cinematic pop productions to electronic tinged theater scores to his honest, direct songwriting.  His solo debut, A City On A Lake, was a spotlight album on iTunes and featured on NPR’s Mountain Stage.   He has produced and written with artists such as Delta Rae (Warner Music), Ximena Sarinana (Warner Music), Ari Hest (Dowtown/Mercer St), Elizabeth and the Catapult (Verve), Melissa Ferrick (Mpress), and Vienna Teng (Rounder/Universal).  His songs have been featured in numerous film and television projects such as The Last Song (Disney/Touchstone), One Tree Hill, and The Lincoln Lawyer (Lion’s Gate).  Alex recently relocated to Nashville TN and is currently working on his next record.

Band Members