Photo credit to Desi Arnaz.
Alex Arndt is a creative soul constantly working to make music. With his new project, the Red Couch Sessions on YouTube, Arndt is rapidly growing his reach and giving his fans a chance to have a part in his craft. Continue reading to learn more about Alex Arndt and the Red Couch Sessions.
Before we start talking about the Red Couch Sessions, can you share a little bit about yourself and your background in music?
Sure! Thanks for asking. Music has always been flowing through me. I remember being of preschool age and asking my parents if I could have sleepovers with friends whom I vibed with. Fortunately, I had some young music-minded friends who would appreciate creating songs with me. I had two tape recorders and I would record us singing on one and then play it back and record us on the other one singing over our previous recording. Basically, I was multi tracking between the two tape recorders until I had one big static mess of a song. This is how I learned to harmonize. I can’t imagine being a musician 100 years ago with nothing to record on! Around this age is also when I developed my vision for who I dreamed to be when I grew up. Listening to my favorite songs on the radio, I would imagine that I was the singer and songwriter.
From grade school through college, I was always in the choir. This definitely played a role in strengthening my voice. It wasn’t until the summer after my freshman year of college at Virginia Tech that my sister decided to give me her guitar. I was tinkering around on it one day and she said I could take it with me to school, because she never used it. Since that moment, I was never without a guitar by my side, and I knew music was my calling in life. I started writing meaningful songs and formed a band called “Drive” at Virginia Tech. After graduating, I packed up my car and drove to California. I went through quite a few bands and styles while living in San Diego and then eventually moving to the Los Angeles area, where I currently reside.
I met another songwriter, Kay Glynn, at Durango Songwriter’s Expo in 2007. We instantly hit it off and within a few years had written and recorded a couple of albums, various EP’s, and singles together. One of these albums was called “Sonic Paradigm” and put out under the name “Alex Arndt & The Sonic Universe.” It was Kay who assisted me in coming up with the name, “The Sonic Universe.” At one point, I was disheartened because just as I was about to establish the moniker, I realized there was a comic book put out by Sega called, “Sonic Universe.” I spoke with three different entertainment attorneys. They all told me basically the same thing: that it was ridiculous even to try and use that name and even more so to look into trademarking it. One morning, after seeing me so down about this matter, Kay asked me why I don’t simply try asking Sega myself? Why not give it a shot? So, I got in touch with Sega of America’s legal team. I spoke with headquarters in Japan and they informed me, they had no issue and there was no conflict with me trademarking “The Sonic Universe.” They loved my music and wanted me to keep them updated on my whereabouts.
Since that time, I’ve performed around the world either as “Alex Arndt” or “Alex Arndt (of The Sonic Universe)” or with a full band as “Alex Arndt and The Sonic Universe” or in the recent years just as “The Sonic Universe.” I love performing with a full band — drums, lead guitar, bass, keys, and beats and sound effects which I sync up with the rest of the music. At one time I was working with one of the lighting techs who also worked with Pink Floyd. In this next phase of The Sonic Universe, I plan to get guys like this to help transform the environment at our shows. I aim to give the audience an experience which raises their vibration through the tones we play and the imagery they see on our screens.
So, what exactly are the Red Couch Sessions? What is the concept of it, and what makes these different from the typical cover songs found on YouTube?
Red Couch Sessions is me, Alex Arndt performing songs, which viewers from around the world have requested me to play. I perform them organic and stripped down. It’s usually just me singing and playing my acoustic guitar. Most of the popular covers on YouTube are either very polished recordings with a multi-instrumental production and the singer’s voice is layered into the arrangement just like a song on the radio OR if it’s someone playing acoustically, the sound and video isn’t usually of the highest quality. I’m a big of fan of some of these YouTubers.
One of the things that distinguishes me and my brand is that I’m performing acoustically with high quality sound and video production. I’ve been a music artist for many years and during that time, I’ve acquired the skills and equipment to record, film, and edit my productions so they come across professional. What many people don’t know is that I’m getting the crisp 4K video quality using only Apple iPhone’s 7+ cameras at this point.
Another distinguishing factor is that I’m not just performing songs on YouTube, I’m taking my fans’ requests. A fan can place a song request order on thesonicuniverse.com for a fee. Every song I’ve performed on Red Couch Sessions is a specific request from a person or group. On the order form, fans can tell me which version(s) of the song they like the most and what the song means to them. Also, they can share with me their business or vision and I will promote them briefly on that Red Couch Sessions episode during the ending when I talk about the request.
The last minute or two of an episode gives me a chance to speak about the song request and also promote any upcoming events or tours. I also have a new sponsorship segment in the works where brand related companies get featured in the program. Also, in the future, Red Couch Sessions is going to be expanding into more than just my “Requests Only” segment. I am going to be interviewing other artists and personalities on the red couch and performing together with one or more people. Once I have the proper studio and equipment, it could turn into a YouTube Live broadcast. This is actually just scratching the surface of what’s in store.
You cover fan favorites like last month’s song of choice, which was Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Do you cover your personal favorites too, or is this strictly fan driven?
It is strictly order based. Every order is placed through my website. (Direct link to order form). I reserve the right to refund a fan if I chose to not cover a request. I have been lucky I guess so far because most of the song requests have also been personal favorites! I think my fans tend to know what I like and what I sound good playing, which is pretty awesome.
You’ve really got a great voice. I know you have original songs out there, so can you tell me about your own music?
Aww, thank you, I appreciate that. Yes, actually, performing my original music is what I like to do best. My all time favorite thing to do is the songwriting itself. I have to be inspired to write. When I’m in the zone, I feel as though I’m a receiver of transmissions that are out there in the cosmos. I’m just able to tap into them and be a vessel or conduit for them. They flow right through me. As I was saying before, I don’t know what I’d do without modern technology. Because these melodies and progressions just write themselves, if I didn’t have a recording device to capture them as they are coming out, they’d probably just go right back into outer space. Most of my material is of some type of spiritual nature. Even if it’s about romantic love, it’s still usually deeper than a surface type of love song.
I have a new release coming out soon. I’ve been working very hard on the production over the past couple years here in the Los Angeles area with a talented producer and artist, Patrick Perfetto. This new music is a combination of Rock, Pop, and EDM. Everything is mastered and ready for release. At this point I’m seeking out the best management and label to make sure it gets released properly and really hits. I’ve also already got an additional album of my best ever songs, which is ready to be produced and taken on the road with my band, The Sonic Universe. It all just needs funding.
Is all of your original work for The Sonic Universe?
The Sonic Universe has been my brand since 2009. A large portion of my original work is for The Sonic Universe, but I also collaborate with other artists and have been asked to write songs for other artists, events, film, and TV. Licensing of my music definitely helps to pay the bills. One of the artists I collaborate with is DJ, singer, and producer Amanda Darling. We’ve combined our vocals and dance music vibe and have performed at some pretty amazing events together including a performance at the Olympic Stadium for Ultra Music Festival in Seoul, Korea. Writing music for other peoples’ objectives, including film and TV can be fun for me and brings out another side of my creativity.
Circling back to the Red Couch Sessions, have you noticed a major growth in your audience and the interaction between fans and yourself since its inception?
Definitely. I think my fans are starting to realize that I’m serious about putting out quality content on a consistent basis. I’ve come to find that most of my fans think I have a pro company or label behind me right now producing and pushing this content. When I tell close friends and fans even within the music industry that my content is completely self produced, they are definitely surprised and amazed. I’ve been seeing a lot more interaction in the most recent episodes and my YouTube subscribers have grown by several thousand since I’ve started the program.
Do you have an idea of what your next couple covers are going to be?
Yes, I do. Requests have come in, but it is not within the scope of Red Couch Sessions for me to talk about the song requests before they actually air. People are welcome to send a note in to firstname.lastname@example.org before they place an order to find out when their potential request will be broadcast.
June 1st was the release date of your newest session. Can you tell me about it?
Yes, I’d be happy to talk about it. This request goes out to a long-time friend, Bonnie Jean and her little girl, Tyla. I met Bonnie during our second year at Virginia Tech. We bonded over our love for our all-time favourite band, Pink Floyd. So, this song is actually a personal favorite of mine. It’s Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” This band has greatly influenced my own music and concept of what a concert experience can be. I modeled my album, Sonic Paradigm after Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon album, where each song flows into the next and the whole album is one conceptual piece.
Of the sessions you’ve recorded so far, is there one you prefer to show off first when people ask you about them? Essentially, do you have a favorite?
Yes, I think my favorite is Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” I like it most because it’s quite different than Sinead O’Conner’s version. A lot of people really like my cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).” And I’ve gained a more diverse audience from my cover of Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same.”
Is there anything I missed that you would like to discuss?
I’m looking forward to my Ireland tour this month (June). It’s my first time going to Ireland. Irish people have always loved my music and now I’m getting to experience their culture! Please check thesonicuniverse.com/tour for more details! Thanks so much for interviewing me. I hope your readers found this content inspiring!
Listen to the Red Couch Sessions on YouTube.