Eric Alexander and I sit on the couch in my apartment, listening to his latest album Eclipse. Known artistically as Sir Deja Doog, Alexander gives me some context on each song from the album, beginning with the title track.
“This song is about just the inevitability of death and the question of whether or not to bring a child into the world, if you even can or want to,” he says. “The question is complicated by my disability and my inability to completely even take care of myself. I have a lot to offer a kid, but it’s more difficult for me.”
Like this track, Eclipse as an album is much more serious in nature than previous Sir Deja Doog releases. Containing themes of Greek mythology, the album also marks a shift in instrumentation, as Alexander relays his always-imaginative voice through synthesizers. Having already received a limited 100-run cassette release via Indy’s Warm Ratio label (Hoops, Sleeping Bag, Vaadat Charigim), Eclipse will be released online for purchase and streaming on Sept. 7, although you can sample a few tracks below while you read.
A lot has happened in the life of Alexander since his 2014 masterpiece Love Coffin. Most notably, his physical condition has been affected by a brain tumor, which led to his aforementioned disability. “Most of the problems that interfere with my daily life come from a tumor in the left parietal lobe of my brain as well as the trauma of the biopsy,” Alexander says. “I spent a year mostly in bed as I learned to walk, talk, sing, and play guitar again.” Other medical issues along the way have also altered what he can and can’t do musically.
“I’ve also had a few surgeries in my lower abdomen which makes it painful for me to sing,” he says. “I’ve had to step back from singing live for that reason. The brain damage exaggerates the pain of my mild carpal tunnel and arthritis which makes playing guitar hard to bear.”
With all of these changes, Alexander has shifted his focus away from the guitar, which can be heard on Eclipse. “Consequently, I’ve taken up the synthesizer as my primary instrument,” he says. “My physical experience is quite wretched. I don’t think I could bear it if I couldn’t retreat into my imagination. I think that’s one of the reasons I make so much music.” In particular, Alexander recently dove headfirst into the world of modular synthesizers.
“I got the Make Noise 0-Coast desktop modular synthesizer, and it blew my mind,” Alexander says. “It opened up a whole new gateway into a world of music that I was marginally aware of, and I didn’t realize how it was made or why it works the way that it does. I just began to devour everything modular that I could find.”
With his new gear setup, Alexander intended for Eclipse to feel like an art house film from the early ‘70s. In particular, he cites iconic sound designer Suzanne Ciani as an influence. “I’m inspired by Suzanne Ciani (who’s actually from Indiana) and her work in early synthesizer sound design for movies and stuff like that,” Alexander says. “A lot of the record is coming from that place of making nature sounds or other sounds that aren’t necessarily supposed to sound like instruments, using the old modular ’70s techniques.” Much like the sounds on Eclipse, Alexander was very intentional with the mood of his lyrics on the album as well.
“I felt like I wanted to give it this more serious tone,” he says. ”I didn’t want anything too goofy to mess it up because obviously Sir Deja Doog can get pretty silly. I like that about the character, but on this particular record, I wanted to focus more on my inner life and spiritual concerns.”
Perhaps no song on Eclipse touches upon all of Alexander’s intentions more than “Cleito’s Ode to Poseidon,” featuring chilling guest vocals from Carly Sobolewski. “Doog is weird in the coolest way,” Sobolewski says. “I’m honored to be the voice for his writing and hope to get to work with him again in the future.” Overall, she sees Eclipse as a compelling new chapter in the annals of Sir Deja Doog.
“The album has a lot of variety and is very different than his other material,” Sobolewski says. “It makes me want to revisit the coast every time I hear it, and the imagery is beautiful.”