Ever have a crazy dream and wake up trying to remember it all, but it slips away like the morning mist?
Singer-songwriter Alex Stanilla had one of those, but he managed to recall enough of his weird dream to create a song about it — his latest release, “Savior,” which comes out today.
Suitably, considering its genesis, it’s a trippy, retro-pop flavored track; it was recorded at the Kaleidoscope studio in Lancaster.
“It’s definitely something very ‘90s-ish,” Stanilla said in a phone interview. “I really like (the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith), so I was kind of trying to be like (him), but just with more stadium-esque vocals.”
He described the dream that inspired the lyrics.
“These two characters (a man and a woman) who didn’t know each other are on a family vacation,” he explained. “They run into each other at a hotel – a Quality 8 or something – and somehow they both ate something that had some sort of psychedelic effect.
“So they’re both tripping on something (and) they wander away from their family. They find themselves in this church having all these psychedelic, religious (experiences),” he added.
Stanilla just releases singles – the most recent one was “Overtime” back in June – and has no plans for a full-fledged album as yet. He started a brief tour earlier this month.
“The next (song) will be out in January – I’m going to try and do some shows around that,” he said. “And I’m looking to do another song in April with a little bit longer tour around it.”
Stanilla, 31, was born in Lebanon, graduated from Cedar Crest, went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, then moved to Seattle, where he lived for two years.
“I had a friend who was moving out there and asked if I wanted to go,” he said. “At first I was just planning to drive with him, and then we got into town and ended up signing a three-month lease. And then I got a job and ended up staying longer than I initially thought. It just kept turning into more than I thought it was going to.”
Then of course he came back to Lebanon – “It’s hard getting away from here,” as he said. He especially enjoys “the peacefulness” of the area. He works at Revive Cafe and Craft in Quentin and at Funck’s in Palmyra and also helps with a friend’s power-washing business.
“I always pictured myself being somewhere else, but I always come back to Lebanon,” he said. “It’s a nice place; it’s hard to stay away for very long. At one point, I did enjoy living in cities, but now I prefer being out in the country.”
Stanilla started his musical journey at age 5.
“I started taking violin lessons with Connie Stambaugh (of Suzuki Strings of Lebanon),” he said. “And then it just turned into more and more, playing different instruments. By 15, I started writing and recording my own songs and I’ve been doing that ever since.”
He now sings and plays guitar and piano. He also runs his own label, Some Bite Records, which releases compilation albums by local artists.
“We put out four compilations a year, usually inspired by a theme,” he explained. “The one that came out in August was ‘Summer Songs,’ and then we’ll do a Halloween one (due out around the week of the holiday) and a Yule one. All proceeds from the albums go to local animal shelters and veterinarian clinics.”
“I like to try and put a song that’s unreleased or an alternative version of a song that’s been released, like B-sides or demos (on the compilations),” he said of the content.
“I really encourage people to send songs that might not get released otherwise – maybe it’s an older song they had lying around. (I’m encouraging) local artists (to do) covers of each other for the Halloween one,” he added.
The remainder of Stanilla’s upcoming tour dates are in the South.
“I had a friend in South Carolina (and) we’ve just been talking over the years about you gotta play a show here sometime,” he said. “Then I just tried to fill in the rest of the way. My aunt lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, so I’m going to try and see her. I’ve never been to the Carolinas before, but I’ve always wanted to go.
“I’m always looking to branch out and lay down roots in places,” he added.
To hear the Some Bite compilation albums, visit somebiterecords.bandcamp.com.
Here are the upcoming dates of Alex Stanilla’s tour:
- Oct. 18: Burger Bar in Asheville, North Carolina
- Oct. 19: Gather GVL in Greenville, South Carolina
- Oct. 20: The Shop in Dunbar, West Virginia
- Oct. 21: The Moonlight House in Woodbridge, Virginia
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