Last summer, Brendon Whitney, aka, Alias, left Oakland and returned to his hometown, Portland, Maine. Resurgam, his first solo full-length since 2003’s Muted, is out 9/2 on anticon and includes collaborated tracks from WHY? and the One AM Radio and a Latin title fittingly translated, “I Will Rise Again.” The dreamy, dense, skittering, synth-drenched “Crosswalks,” which premieres in this week’s Drop, won’t be on it. We spoke with Alias about the song and what can happen in crosswalks.
What are “Crosswalks” lyrics? Or the general narrative?
“You only own time in crosswalks / Your place in between those two lines is yours / Try your best to make it shine / like all dimes you find heads up…”
The vocals are mixed pretty low. Was this intentional?
It’s mixed that way intentionally due to my insecurity of my own singing voice.
It’s an epic track — the slow build, the repeated motifs, etc. Is the structure important to the song’s meaning? It feels like a drive through the city, or a walk across the street and back again? Actually, a place between … a spot where a driver has to pause and let someone move past?
I was walking in San Francisco one day with my wife Jenn and we were crossing Valencia Street in the Mission — this car almost hit us when it was our turn to cross. It was our turn to walk, we had the pedestrian light and everything, but this car came so close to hitting us. Jenn said, “What the fuck? we’re in the crosswalk! This is our time!” I started thinking about the legalities of it, and how you legally have that time to get where you are going. It’s your time, so don’t mess it up. Right after that, we drove back to Oakland, and I started working on this track. The general feeling I spun off of that was going over all the options of what could have happened. We could have been killed. We could have been seriously injured, altering our lives forever, etc. I just kind of took that theme and went with a sort of “make every day your best” vibe with the lyrics…