Photo: Kirk Stewart
Certain musicians enjoy a reputation for being great performers — an innate skill for some, a learning process for more. For Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves, it’s been the latter, but his training for a different form of performance art helped perpetuate a now-budding music career.
Since his days growing up around Austin, Texas, Rose-Garcia was raised and trained as a stage performer. With a film-directing mother and a father who designed sets and lighting, he was essentially born into the industry.
The skills and knowledge he acquired as an actor in both New York and Los Angeles helped pave the way for the 26-year-old’s more recent calling. Yet, the time spent away from acting is when he was really able to refine his knack for musical performance.
“When I was living in L.A. and starting to develop my music, one of the things that allowed me to even spend time writing music was that I was working or trying to work as a professional actor,” Rose-Garcia said. “I wasn’t expending all of my energy in an office or trying to work in a restaurant or something.”
After enduring some hard livin’ for the first time in his life, Rose-Garcia eventually gravitated back to Austin, with his sights set firmly on his music career and, of course, his closest friends and family.
“It’s a really hard place to leave. It’s kind of unfortunately happy all the time,” he said. “It’s a big city, but it’s a pretty small town. I went back because L.A. finally just whipped my ass too many times.”
While Austin traditionally has been fertile ground for songwriting, the familiarity of the city just as easily can act as a hindrance for Rose-Garcia. Between the distraction of hanging with old friends and the comfort of its weathered surroundings, he’s found that his best songwriting comes away from home, even going so far as to nickname the town “The Velvet Rut.”
But if it wasn’t for the timeless Americana unique to the region, Shakey Graves’ inventive brand of “anti-folk” might not ever have come to fruition.
“I’ve always been interested in people playing acoustic guitars,” he said. “Mainly all I really look for is that sense of connection. I strive to create songs that have that lasting value.”
He seems well on his way: Shakey Graves has been dubbed the “next big thing” by a variety of media outlets, including NPR. And while acting may still be in the cards (look for the Spy Kids 3-D vet in the upcoming sequel to Sin City), he seems to be finding his way as a musician.
“I have a plan of where I want to go next with it. So to a certain degree, I really can’t worry about it because it’s sort of going on point,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s so much work. If that work pays off the way work typically pays off, we’ll see where that takes it.”