“I was sitting at home with a guitar and composing songs that weren’t fit for a band. I had these images in my mind, visualizing the lyrics I’m writing. That’s what’s cool about being a solo artist. With Conversing with Oceans, I have the freedom to convey what I am saying in the way I want.” – Alex Bondarev
Alex Bondarev is a singer-songwriter from the Bronx, New York, and is the one behind his alternative, ambient rock solo project Conversing with Oceans. Stumbling upon Bondarev at his release show of his debut EP Past, Present, Future at The Studio at Webster Hall, I had the pleasure of formally meeting him at the Bronx’s Jimmy Ryan’s on Middletown Road.
Over a beer and water, Bondarev opened up about his band A Moment’s Worth. “The guys in A Moment’s Worth are my best friends since the fifth grade when we all went to St. Theresa’s School. When you’re in a loud rock band, there’s a certain sense of when you take your music there, it gets filtered through a rock band. If there’s a song you’ve written on acoustic guitar, the rest would bring in these big riffs and awesome ideas that they have, but it does change the song,” said Bondarev about his songwriting process with his bandmates. “So with Conversing with Oceans, it was to see what I could come up with on my own with these songs. I was experimenting, trying to find the sounds that were me, and everything was about being a little more honest than I’ve been in the past. For the longest [time], I’ve always written happy and poppy material, but this was a moment for me to explore some of the deeper things we feel that maybe a little uncomfortable to sit with.”
Being the sole writer and composer of Conversing with Oceans, Bondarev has unlimited creative control and freedom. However, it hasn’t been exactly easy breaking away from his songwriting norm with the band. “When I was writing the EP, I realized I was relying heavily on the guys in my band to bring forward their talents and gifts. They’ve been a support structure I’ve been trusting on my whole musical career, and doing this without them, it’s like, ‘Oh crap, this is new.’ You second guess yourself a lot, always questioning if this or that line works, but at the end of the day, you must tell yourself it does, and this is how I saw it working out. I have to trust my own vision.”
Through Conversing with Oceans and A Moment’s Worth, Bondarev has been able to perform across Manhattan and Brooklyn with his music, but he remembers how it was the Bronx’s music scene that shaped him to the artist he is today. “The Bronx Underground was a venue in the basement of a church in Throggs Neck, and I’ve had such a blessing of an experience with it. It gave musicians an incredible support network to play their music or release their album and receive so much support from the community. The Bronx Underground was a welcoming environment that accepted everyone, and in retrospect, it may have been overlooked by people outside of it, but I think for anyone who was a part of it, they still talk about how magical it was and how much it brought the musical community together.”
As for the future of Bondarev, he is moving forward with both A Moment’s Worth and Conversing with Oceans and focusing on expanding his musical career, or, as he explains it, “You keep building on the things you believe in no matter what.”