“Chi-Tunes: White Mystery,” Loyola Phoenix
Posted Friday, April 19th, 2013 at 4:20 am
If Chicago’s underground garage-rock scene was Middle Earth, Alex White would be Gandalf. Currently, she is the lead singer and guitarist of White Mystery, the ferocious, fuzzed- out brother-sister duo, but at 27 years old, Miss Alex White (her full stage-name) has been playing in various bands with figures from the scene for 14 years, more than half her life.
Her first band ever was known as Psychotic Sensations. After that, she played in another drums/guitar duo called the Red Lights and played mostly basement house shows. Later, she played in a band called Hot Machines, then self-released a song with drummer Chris Playboy called “Young Monsters,” after which she played in a band called Candy Apple Killings and put out a song on local label, HoZac Records. As her career continued, she pulled together a new backing band called the Red Orchestra, and created a couple of shorter-lived bands called Headspace and Forestbride. Somewhere along the way she also managed to earn a degree in entrepreneurship from DePaul University.
When White started her current musical endeavor, she was determined to see the project reach a higher plane of realization.
“When White Mystery began [in 2008], my brother Francis [who plays drums] and I made a ten-year commitment to the band. That commitment meant no significant others, no day jobs and no other bands. Just a laser-focus on White Mystery to watch it succeed,” she told me over the phone from Seattle, where the band was on tour.
“We are halfway through our commitment, and I think we’re doing a great job,” White said.
It seems so, as the band has already played almost a show per day in 2013, just finished up their first-ever European tour and is about to release their third LP Telepathic on April 20, their band’s fifth anniversary. The album is a unique release in a few different ways.
“It was our first time recording a full-length [album] while touring. We were mid-tour in California and took four days to record this album,” White said.
In addition to that, a limited-edition coloring book is coming out as a companion to the album. It is an incentive for people to purchase a physical copy of the record.
“It was illustrated by Debbie Allen. She drew a picture for every song on the new album. It’s such a visual, sensory-rich album with songs like ‘Jungle Cat’ and ‘Secret Garden.’ It’s easy to visually represent,” White told me.
Though they like to collaborate with other artists on certain projects, “White Mystery is 100 percent independent,” White said, and the band does their own booking, licensing and recording and releases on their own without the aid of a record company or outside management.
All of that keeps them very busy.
“How do you keep your energy up? You sleep when you’re tired. You try to eat well. Apples, oranges, whole-grain bread. Playing to a crowd of amazing people is very energizing, too,” White told me.
Interestingly, instead of being drained from constant touring, White told me “we tour so much because that’s the fuel [for making more records]. When you like to tour, you have to create new releases to share with people.”
The band is a kind of grassroots operation, where White inspires people and they inspire her in return.
“The thing that means a lot to us are all the people out there who open up their homes, feed us, take care of us and tell us what to do in their city as if we were their children,” White explained.
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