Alan Walker (of The Brilliant Mistakes) to release second solo album, A Little Too Late, on his label, Aunt Mimi’s Records.

Donna Block
8 min readMay 31, 2024

Born, raised, and originally based in New York City, now in the ‘burbs of Connecticut alongside the Long Island Sound. Hearing The Beatles’ “I Me Mineand receiving their Revolver album as a Christmas gift at age six. Your brothers listened to The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Byrds, and many more bands. How does the music you listened to growing up continue to inspire you as an artist today?

Profoundly, I’d say. I still listen to it all, and I feel like I have spent a lifetime playing musicologist/detective, trying to find where the music I listened to came from as well, going down rabbit holes of old 50s and 60s R&B or country and folk. I was working at a book publisher in NYC and a friend of mine had a Rhino Records contact with whom he’d trade books for CDs, and when he left the company he passed the contact over to me, so through my Rhino pal I assembled a pretty comprehensive soul CD collection.

For example, I grew up with the Stones, but not too many people remember Don Covay who may have been the primary influence on Mick Jagger’s voice.

And of course there’s one of my favorite soul singers and writers, Arthur Alexander, who was an influence on John Lennon in his early Beatle days.

Compose music on the piano, “Once they are in my head, I can’t get them out. I’ve loved music since I could walk, since I first heard the album Let it Be through my bedroom walls from the living room when my older brother first played it. The best moments for me with music are the original inspiration of a song, when a melody and chords and lyrics first come together, and then bringing that idea to a band or fellow musicians to see how it evolves.” What was the most unusual inspiration for a song you’ve written to date?

That’s a tough one, too many odd stories to choose from. A friend of mine once challenged me to include the word “diurnal” in a song so I did. It means “daily,” but also has the word “yearn” in it which makes it kind of cool for a lyric. This was on my last record, called Already There.I think my favorite unusual inspiration is a song from The Brilliant Mistakes album Dumb Luck called “Crawl Back,” which I often still do in my live set. I was living in Astoria, Queens, and right outside the building two parked cars had fallen into a sinkhole and I woke up to the sound of this massive crane pulling out the cars, making the worst noise of grinding metal on metal that I’d ever heard. Around the same time I was watching something on the news about this huge, crazy line of mountain climbers waiting to get to the top of Mt. Everest, and these two things somehow inspired this song “Crawl Back” which basically advocates for us to devolve and go back into the ocean where we humans originally came from. So basically a three minute pop song about evolution for all the kids out there.

Lead singer, piano/organ player for the former rootsy/melodic pop band, Brilliant Mistakes, which was named after a song by a songwriting mentor, Elvis Costello. From the early 90s through 2011, played the downtown NYC club scene. Which lyric in the song is your favorite and why?

So many great lines in that song, but if I had to pick one I’d go with this bit from the third verse, “A trick they do with mirrors and chemicals/ The words of love in whispers / and the acts of love in screams.” I mean Elvis can really write a great line when he wants to. As to why I like that line best, I guess like every great lyric, it kind of gets you in the gut, and maybe evokes something you can’t quite put your finger on. We kind of came to the band name because it said something about the music we wrote, in that we tried to emulate our heroes (like Elvis) but thankfully most of the time it would result in something very different and unique to us. Everything in music is borrowed or influenced by something that came before it, and the trick is coming up with something that sounds original. That is always the goal of writing, but if you could hear the influences in the songs, then even better.

First solo album, Something Up My Sleeve. Recorded 10 of your favorite compositions that you’d never had the chance to put down on tape. Second solo album, A Little Too Late. Nods to some of your favorite bands — The Beatles, Squeeze, and Joe Jackson. What has been the most challenging part of running Aunt Mimi’s Records, your own label?

The label has always existed as a platform for first The Brilliant Mistakes and now myself as a solo artist to release our music on. The biggest challenge used to be getting wider distribution as an independent artist and label. But now, in the era of streaming, where everyone can release their own music to the world, that challenge is now just to find your people. I get streams all over the world, but connecting to them is really difficult (especially since I share a name with a much more famous artist named Alan Walker, but that’s a whole other story!).

Off your upcoming album, the first single, “Twist of Fate,” a tragi-comic tale of first attraction.

The second, “Mama Kat,” a ballad, which will be sent to radio. Working with producer Lincoln Schleifer, recording at his Lincoln’s Log Cabin studio in the Bronx, “It’s always fun to see these guys and hear them sprinkle their magic on a few of my new songs! Lincoln is a veritable musical genius with an organic approach to his production that always looks to do what’s best for any given song. I love working with the guy, and after four albums with him (two band and two solo), plus a series of other recordings and back catalog re-mixes, I’ve come to fully trust his ideas and decisions, even when I’m not 100% sure where an arrangement is headed. In a way, that’s what makes it fun. He’s also a seriously talented bass player.” What else can fans look forward to hearing on the new release?

A little bit of everything: there are three songs with horns on them, three songs with the incredible background singing of Lucy Kaplansky and Teresa Williams, and a couple songs with strings. Lincoln Schleifer, the producer, and I let the songs guide us in terms of the arrangements and instrumentation, and the players themselves. Hopefully listeners will get the feeling of an old-style record, lots of melody and harmonies with a kind of through line going through the album where the songs are connected just by having musicians come together in one place, at one time, around a group of songs.

Currently listen to mostly 60’s and 70’s soul records and ‘anything ever recorded’ by Nina Simone or Dusty Springfield. What makes those two artists so special for you?

The soulfulness of their voices, both so different and so unique. Their phrasing too. I could listen to either of them sing anytime. I often listen to the Rhino CD Dusty in London, which is a collection of songs that Dusty recorded between 1968 and 1971. And Nina, one of my favorite recordings of all time is “Lila Wine.” If you don’t know it, play it on your best stereo turned up, and give it a whirl. I’m also a big fan of Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans. I used to go see her in NYC at Tramps when she was still touring, just to hear that voice fill the room. The sheer power of it would give me chills. Speaking of Tramps, I miss that place, I used to live near it in the city and would often go hear soul greats play there when they came around, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, Clarence Carter, and even Billy Preston, one of the most remarkable performers I’ve ever seen, not long before he died.

Spending free time with your wife of 17 years, Sally, and two dogs and two cats. What are some of the ‘off the beaten road’ venues that you’d take first time visitors to hear new music?

We live outside NYC, about 40 miles, in Norwalk, CT. There are some interesting places to see music around Connecticut, and maybe my favorite is a small, very intimate venue with perfect sound, called StageOne in Fairfield, CT. I’ve seen a bunch of great acts there, Marshall Crenshaw with The Bottle Rockets, The James Hunter Six, the great songwriter Ron Sexsmith, and even my producer Lincoln who plays bass with The Masters of the Telecaster. I have a lot of ties as well to Western MA, and one really off-the-beaten path venue is called Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton, MA. It’s a guitar shop during the day and a small venue at night, and has every kind of old vintage guitar hanging on the walls. I’m a piano guy but if you’re a guitarist you will likely feel right at home here.

What’s ahead?

Now that the new record is out, I want to go out and support it as best as I can, and try to find new listeners. I have a great live backing band, The Accomplices, made up of some of NYC’s best players, and occasionally with the right venue I might bring along a horn section to make things even more fun. After that, who knows, maybe another record, this time with this new band, but that’ll definitely be down the road. There are always more songs to record though.

Facebook

Apple Music

iTunes

Spotify

Amazon Music

--

--