Keep it honest

Alex Salveson turns bad experiences into good vibes

What to do when the wall behind you is more interesting than your shirt?

What to do when the wall behind you is more interesting than your shirt?

Photo by Lauran Fayne Thompson

Check out Alex Salveson at 7 p.m. Friday, August 4, at Sol Collective, 2574 21st Street. Tickets are $7. Learn more at

There’s a photo of a flipped over 1991 Mercedes Benz on the cover of Alex Salveson’s 2016 EP, Blessed. That’s his car. The EP’s title track details the story behind this car accident.

“I thought I was going to die,” the local artist says. “As I was flipping I accepted my fate that this was it, and out of pure luck, I’m still alive.”

He immediately offers, “You want to see pictures?” After scrolling through several on his phone, he switches gears and tells me how, for weeks after the accident, he relived the moment of impact in his mind over and over again. He’s only performed the song live once.

“I don’t like it,” Salveson says. “Everything on there is honest. I don’t want to think about it. That’s bad energy.”

Despite his reservations, the song has become a favorite among his fans. It and the entire EP marked a turning point in Salveson’s rap career.

He recorded his first song in the seventh grade—he’s 18—but it was in late summer last year, when Hobo Johnson let him hop on stage to perform a couple of songs, that he decided to take his music more seriously. First thing he needed was some music online. He put together the Blessed EP and released it on Bandcamp. He just released his newest EP, This One’s 4 You on August 1.

Since Blessed, he’s been playing consistently. Having been a bedroom rapper, his stage presence started off a bit awkward. To get a sense of early Salveson, check out the music video he released for the song “Fiend.” Shots of his rapping in a parking lot with his hands in his pockets mismatch the fire of his flow.

“My stage presence, it’s a little better now. It sucked though at this time,” Salveson says.

His rap career took a big step this past March at the Starlite Lounge. Salveson’s dad joined him on stage, doing a five-minute a capella song. Salveson says his dad killed it.

“He’s always dope. There’s nothing bad from my dad. Just imagine me, but twice as better.”

That wasn’t his dad’s first time on stage. Back in the mid-aughts, he was a prominent rapper around Sacramento going by the name The Emaculit 1, part of The Hurchu Alliance, an early influence on Salveson.

“I grew up around that. I’m playing Tony Hawk[’s] Pro Skater 2, and they’re recording in the back,” Salveson says.

Unlike his dad and fellow crew members, Salveson chose not to give himself an emcee pseudonym. He did at one point call himself “Clean Edit.” At the time, he was a rapper who didn’t cuss, but he’s since decided that name was silly.

“I don’t like rap names. Ninety percent of rap names suck,” Salveson says. “I don’t want to portray something I’m not. I don’t want to be Lil O.G. I’m just Alex, your friendly neighbor,” Salveson says.

Since Salveson started, he’s watched as the artists who motivated him to give it a serious attempt—like Hobo Johnson and The Philharmonik—have gotten some credibility in town. He’s hopeful that the time is right for him, too.

“I can vibe with this, versus, you’re at the rappity rap show, where everyone in the crowd is mad cause they’re listening to rap music. They’re just head nodding. That’s not my thing,” Salveson says. “When I come to these shows that are happening lately, I want to be on the stage. There’s some cool stuff going on lately. I’m at the right time.”