EDITOR’S NOTE: Hailey Mullen, a student at La Costa Canyon High School in Encinitas, is an intern at The Coast News. This is her first published article.
CARLSBAD — Since attending Carlsbad High School, independent recording artist Alec Beretz has developed a passion for music that he wants to share with others.
“For a long time, I’ve been running all over California, sleeping at friends’ houses, sleeping on couches, performing in backyards, anything to keep the music alive,” Beretz said.
Beretz, who sings and plays guitar and bass over electronic beats, is known for his lyrics confronting tough issues, such as mental health, in songs he has self-produced over the years. Since age 16, he has produced several singles, including “I See Ghost,” and a full-length album, Peep This, which features 10 original songs.
On the track “I See Ghost,” Beretz collaborates with Minnesota’s DJ Sidereal and OMB Peezy, an Alabama-based hip-hop artist.
“(The song) is not about getting through the depression, but the moment when you’re like, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna keep pushing,’” Beretz said about the track.
According to Beretz, mental health is an issue close to his heart, as he struggled with his own depression. At some point, he noticed how the people around him appeared to be ruled by their problems, so he started making an effort to stop letting his troubles define him.
In order for Beretz to connect with people through his songwriting, he had to first find himself. He drew on his experiences from theatre when he played the title role in a high school production of The Phantom of the Opera.
“I didn’t realize (at the time) how amazing the program was,” Beretz said, giving a shout out to his drama teacher, Monica Hall. “It was so, so awesome.”
Beretz said he feels a kinship between musical theatre and pop music, but the hardest part of songwriting was learning to be himself, which he has described as a “beautiful,” “spiritual” and “exhausting process.”
“(As a musician), you’re playing yourselfー you’re the writer of the play and the director and everything, but you have to embody the character that is you.”
Growing up, Beretz moved around a lot but was lucky to have supportive and creative parents who made a strong impact on him. He considers his family to be his home more than any location but always loves to come back to Carlsbad.
“I really love it here, it’s so cool to be coming back,” Beretz said. “I get a feeling of peace when I’m down here… I love that people here seem to have respect for where they live, which I don’t feel anywhere (else).”
After earning his Bachelor of Arts at California State University, Chico, in 2016, he shifted his focus from being a musical jack-of-all-trades to primarily core songwriting, specifically developing lyrics, chords and melodies.
But despite his musical independence, the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted his ability to perform his music and connect with others.
Since concerts and open mic nights have all but ceased to exist, many artists have moved onto online platforms. And Beretz is no exception, developing a music profile on Twitch, a video live stream service.
“I think it’ll be fun, especially while we’re waiting for concerts to get up and at it,” he said. “I think this will be a really good and interactive way to create a community again. I think the most important thing with music is… finding the highest emotional connection you can with your audience.”
For Beretz, building a community around music in Carlsbad, whether online or in-person, is integral to his career as an artist.
“I love it here and I want to start throwing events and taking more of a leadership role in expanding the music scene, and creating experiences for people,” Beretz said. “I’m very into collaboration and including other artists so I want to book local artists and give anybody a voice.”