oopsteppa’s dreamy downtempo/bass music releases have made him an institution in the international bass scene over the last decade but he considers himself a human first and a famous artist second. The time is now to redefine the idea of success in the music industry and Goopsteppa is leading the way.
Alex Goopsteppa had been silent on social media after the initial phase of the pandemic. He performed in the US for the first time in almost three years in December 2022 directly supporting Ott in San Francisco and Portland, followed by a Nevada City headline show. Since then he’s dropped a new EP, began his own tour, and will headline Cervantes’ Shift Thursdays in Denver on June 1st. We chatted with him after the first leg of his Return Of The Goopsteppa tour and he had a lot to say…
Before his ski accident in 2020, Alex knew he was touring too much. He performed close to 60 shows in 2019 while also maintaining family commitments and all the other responsibilities that go along with being a human being. The ski injury put everything on pause.
"When I hurt myself skiing, the really obvious realization to me was: I'm out of shape and my body is tired. I could just seriously feel that I need a break… The silver lining or the gift that an injury brings to us is a reminder to slow down and be still and be attentive to what's directly in front of you instead of always running"
The doctors were worried that he seriously damaged his spine but after a disciplined regiment of physical therapy and rest, he was totally fine. He was back on tour three weeks after the injury. Then the pandemic hit.
“When it first hit I was like, “Fuck, yeah.” I called it the International Snow Day and I loved it. I was stoked to have free time at home and I ended up making a bunch of music during March & April. I was really productive working on music and I did four or five live streams. It was fun, but every time I would turn off the computer, I felt pretty hollow. Like damn……….where's the people?”
Some of the tunes that Alex wrote in early 2020 and late 2019 would end up becoming the Invisibility Cloak EP which was released in April 2023. After that initial burst of creativity, he started to miss the human connection that he thrived off and being online during the pandemic didn’t help at all.
“I cherish the human connection and the love that music spreads way more than I cherish being famous, and you might have noticed, I was off social media for like two and a half years, no posts, nothing, because it started breaking down my mental health… It dehumanizes you in a way. You get put on this pedestal like all you do is make music and all you do is this and that. But really, you're also a human who wakes up in the morning and has your challenges. It's so superficial in a way and interacting with people only online, really kind of broke my brain.”
While all of this was going on, he dropped the Diaries EP in October 2020, a collection of particularly smooth and emotive songs. The 4th track on that 5 track EP was ‘Mt. Rose’, a collaboration with his good friend Charles Ingalls, otherwise known as CharlesTheFirst. Charles passed away on December 10, 2021. I asked Alex to share the story about that piece and what his relationship with Charles meant to him.
Yeah, we loved each other. We always had really deep conversations. I mean, he was a guy who kind of wore his heart on his sleeve and I'm a pretty down-to-earth real guy in general and we always had a good friendship. I feel like he would reach out to me sometimes like, “Ah, I'm going through it…” and I was one of his trustworthy friends that I think he hit up once in a while.
When we ended up having that time off and I was close by, I hit him up and said, “Yo, I'm flying to Reno!” and he replied, “Dude, come over!” So we had like four days or something together. He just picked me up in Reno and then we drove over to Tahoe that afternoon and the mountain pass was Mt. Rose. We ended up just chilling and making music and we named that piece, “Mt. Rose,” because we drove through that pass and stopped on the mountain together and kicked it. It was really awesome.
It was really nice to just drop in off the touring vibes with each other. I hung out in his tiny little cabin, we went to the lake, drank a beer on the dock, then went back and busted out on some music, kind of poked around the woods a bit and it was super nice to just kick it. That piece kind of sat on the side for a little while. We made it sort of quickly and I ended up, asking if I could just put it on my album and he was like, “Fuck, yeah, dude.”
What it comes down to is just like chill people making music and other people vibe with it. That's, what Mt Rose reminded me of. It was just like, friendship vibes, the pleasure of creativity, the small things in life, those moments where you get to drop in with someone. Fuck the name, Fuck the Instagram profile. It's just friendship and creativity and fun, you know and that's what that piece just reminds me of forever now…
I think that he blew up SO fast and so young too, you know. I could see how it would frazzle him certain days, some days he would just hide in the green room like a lot more, you know, and we definitely coped together by partying. It was fun, but I could just sense that like, tour life was crazy for him.
I think he really fucking rocked it and he moved a lot of people. I think he put a lot of love into what he did and gifted a lot of people with a cool vibe. That's what I celebrate when I think about him, you know. I've been even playing one of his early originals that I really like at shows lately, this one called Step/Time. That one super stood out to me… His ripples are still here. He put love into what he did and we can still dance to it today. That's the biggest honor if, like, you live a life and then people feel your love after you're gone.
After releasing the Diaries EP and feeling the mental effects of the isolation, Alex decided to get away from Vancouver city life. With everything shut down in the city, it felt “pointless” for him to stay. He decided to move closer to nature but remains in British Columbia. With an uncertain future for live performances, especially in Canada, Alex started to change his lifestyle.
“When I hit that depressive state of just being hella lonely and feeling super disconnected from people and everything. I kind of just wasn't able to muster up caring about my project. It wasn’t like I didn't care about music but I ended up just becoming more of an instrumentalist over that year. I practiced piano. I played drums. I was just playing music in my house. I had a piano and just wanted to serenade my girlfriend. I even got into singing songs. I went to folk music song circles and just explored different realms of music… Last year (2022) I honestly thought I might never really go on tour again and was kind of writing it off… I spent the entire year last year just growing food actually and fishing and going on hikes and doing farmer stuff…My girlfriend and I are working on a big garden…We're gonna raise some chickens again and we basically are trying to grow as much of our own food as we can. And I love getting my hands in the dirt and stuff.”
It’s hard to imagine a world without Goopsteppa shows but that was a serious possibility. Luckily, his shift of mindset and location started to bring him back to center. He felt well enough to play two shows in Canada in late October and November 2022. Those shows reminded him why he was called to be a musician.
"It nourished me again. I like doing it for the people. I like making music but if I'm making it alone, I can leave a piece unfinished and be happy because I just created it and heard it, and it's cool. But sharing is the gold for me. I can play this and then people are gonna dance and feel good and get along with each other on the dance floor. There's a vibe that brings us together and I think it's almost a tribal thing, to just dance and share that moment together. Like forget about everything, we're dropping in with each other, we're moving our bodies – reviving. And that for me is the juice. I love it."
Those two shows in Halifax and Toronto got Goopsteppa writing again and he is currently sitting on a bunch of new ideas for tracks. If you caught his show at the Nectar Lounge in Seattle, you heard some of these new creations.
Goopsteppa’s goal for the future is to “increase touring but on a less hardcore, every weekend regime.” He wants to prioritize having enough time off to continue writing music because touring is intense enough on its own. He’s become quite acclimated to being immersed in nature and doesn’t “really want to live in a city anymore.”
“That's kind of my general game plan, doing it sustainably and knowing how the burnout can feel, [I’m] just making sure that I stay nourished and on top of it. I'm 33 years old now also. So, it feels different. It's different than when I was 22 you know.”
Goopsteppa has redefined success for himself in the past few years and gives everyone in the music scene something to consider. I think there are so many things in the material realm to attain but we can’t forget the simple beauty of experiencing consciousness, love, and music.
"There's such a grind mentality out there and a lot of people feel like we're in a society that defines people by their achievements, by their financial success, by what you do. And I think it's not as much about everything you do but who you are and how you show up. The recipe is not necessarily crushing out as many things and just dying of burnout. It's like, are you a good vibe? That's what I asked myself. At least I'm like, what's the vibe I'm leaving behind? Is it extreme intensity or is there a sense of peace that comes with it? Is there a sense of love? Put the love in there.
You can't take the money, you can't take the followers, you can't take the house, you can't take your whip. All the shit you get is just superficial. But if you leave a mark in people's hearts that will live on forever. Love is what drives all of life. I feel like there's this love that gets passed down through life that kind of keeps it sparkly and shiny and creative.”
Be sure to catch Goopsteppa when you can!