Paige Alyssa, 28, sets themselves apart from the pack proudly referring to themselves as a “blerd,” (Black nerd). The young millennial born in 1993 has no problem expressing their love of Sonic the Hedgehog, cartoons or other video games.
ST. LOUIS — Cool varies by definition, there’s subjection with what one person may consider as dope compared to another person.
“I like seeing Black people have these conversations because a lot of people think Blacks are monolith and that we all grow up liking the same things,” Paige Alyssa said. “But there are so many Blacks out there who enjoy quote-unquote nerdy things and I think it’s a really cool contrast to see somebody who looks like me vibing over this really specific culture.”
“I’m honored to be a part of this project, and I think Paige has a great talent and a lot of versatility,” Maul said. I’m really excited and honored to be a collaborator.”
The multi-talented artist recalls playing Sonic and other games as a child in their grandmother’s den as one of the most joyous times of their life. The unexplainable happiness and nostalgic feelings that derive from that era are the inspiration behind their “No Worries,” EP, a seven-song instrumental project mixed and mastered by Paige Alyssa themselves with the help of Sam Maul, Shock City Studios’ chief sound engineer on the finishing touches.
The EP’s title track is the introduction that cohesively piecing together the project sonically. As the song suggests, Paige Alyssa didn’t have a care or a worry in the world when they were a kid.
As the project’s journey continues, each track travels through a quest of Paige Alyssa’s progression taking a leap of faith by moving across the country and then moving back to their hometown.
They first gained momentum to start producing it while they were living in Los Angeles when they were about 24 or 25. Being miles and miles away from home caused them to become homesick.
“It originally started as an exercise for me while I was living on the West Coast because I wasn’t working as much as I used to,” Paige Alyssa said. “When I moved out there I was missing my band and everyone else.” They made the choice to create a body of work that made them feel safe and connected back home. In turn, they began reflecting on those memories they had playing video games at their grandmother’s house because that’s where they most safest.
As a result, Paige Alyssa began composing these one-minute songs that reminded them of their childhood. Each represents that timeframe of being in Los Angeles and moving back to St. Louis. “I’m really happy to be home,” Paige Alyssa said. “I wanted to dedicate this project to my mother and all the other musicians that got me to this point.”
Paige Alyssa’s process for constructing those reminiscent sounds comes from a combination of them knowing the music and what type of physical chords to use for similar sounds; and also a lot of engineering. “I’d play a sound and then I would go in and manipulate different parts of the sound to make it sound more ‘90s, more gritty or have that little byte to it that you hear while playing an arcade game,” Paige Alyssa said.
They said they learned how to mix the project themselves and leaned on Maul’s direction to master it. “I mastered the project, but I also had some input on mixing as well, which basically means they gave the songs to me each in a format that was a collection of individual files to be put together and given a final polish.” Maul said.
In addition to the EP, a four-week long video series via Paige Alyssa’s Instagram, Facebook and YouTube pages accompany it which features some of St. Louis’ leading musicians performing several of the tracks; including Chrissy Renick, Scooter Brown, Phil Graves, and more. “Those are my friends, my buddies, because this project is so personal to me I really wanted to pick people who I love and look up to genuinely,” Paige Alyssa said. “They’ve seen me from when I was fresh out of college trying to make it in the local music scene to the person I am now arranging, writing, and producing.”