Shakey Graves’ stage name is intentionally ambiguous, similar to the music he makes

Shakey Graves is scheduled to perform at the Ritz in Raleigh Sunday, Sept. 16.
Shakey Graves is scheduled to perform at the Ritz in Raleigh Sunday, Sept. 16.

Update: The performance will be postponed, according to The Ritz. A new date will be announced.

Shakey Graves, who is scheduled to perform Sunday at the Ritz in Raleigh, has one of the more interesting nicknames in the world of music.

When Graves, aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia, was emerging out of the musical hotbed of Austin a decade ago, his name made people ask whether it was as a solo recording artist or a band.

The singer-songwriter, calling from his Austin home, explains his name, details why his latest album “Can’t Wake Up” isn’t such a departure, and why he’s back living in the capital of live music.

Q: You always seem to be writing songs, but in the past you’ve mentioned other artistic pursuits. What do you do when you’re not writing?

A: I’m a compulsively arty guy. I draw and paint when I’m not making music. I just can’t help myself.

Q: Do you have any nerdy hobbies?

A: Yes, I do puzzles and models. I go bowling. You can’t get much nerdier than that. I also drink with my buddies.

Q: Drinking reaches epic proportions during South by Southwest. Is it still worth it for folks to travel to Austin in March for the mega-music event, and what’s your personal take on the festival?

A: I still think it’s worth it for those to travel to Austin for South By. My personal view of South By is that it’s a pain in the (butt). It’s mobbed here and it can be out of control. A lot of locals depart when South By starts. However, I’ve also had a lot of fun here in March. Ultimately if you’re here and you’re a local, it’s wise to put on your party hat.

Q: How did you come up with such a cool nom de plume?

A: I wanted to go by an alias to be ambiguous. When people heard the name Shakey Graves, I wanted them to think, ‘Is it a solo artist? Is it a group? Is it a series of recordings?’ I also wanted it sound like whatever. I didn’t want to get pigeonholed.

Q: But you did get pigeonholed as an Americana artist.

A: What exactly is Americana? Is it folk? Is it rock? All I know is that Americana can be anything but hip-hop and dance.

Q: But your latest album isn’t Americana.

A: I don’t think this album is that different than my other albums, but people tend to think that it is a departure. It’s not since I use the same sonic elements this time out that I typically use. The bottom line is that when I make an album, I approach it like it’s an omelette. It has different ingredients. I didn’t grow up a Beatles fan. I kind of revolted against the Beatles until I became an adult. But you look at what they did and they just made such wild and different music. I can’t help but be influenced by the Beatles and David Bowie. I’m all about the constant exploration of sound but I’ve yet to really expand on my sound.

Q: What’s your goal as a musician?

A: To express myself and be relevant to the times. I also aim to be honest. I think that’s important, especially now.

Q: You moved to Los Angeles and New York. Why did you move back to Austin?

A: I didn’t have to move back here but there is such good music here, and I’m a music guy more than anything else. I’m back in Austin because I love it here. There’s always someone great playing the Continental Club. It’s not cutthroat in Austin. I needed to go to Los Angeles to learn about being cutthroat. It’s important to be a little cutthroat in this industry.

Q: Reveal something we wouldn’t expect that you enjoy.

A: I love comedy. My girlfriend and I saw Dave Chappelle and it was one of the best shows I ever saw. He’s an absolute pleasure to experience. You’re in a room with him and it felt like a conversation even though he’s the only one talking.


Who: Shakey Graves

When: Sunday, Sept. 16, 8 p.m. Check with venue in case of inclement weather.

Where: The Ritz, 2820 Industrial Drive, Raleigh

Tickets: $27

Info: 919-424-1400,