In this segment, SoccerNation.com explores the connection between soccer and music. In an effort to delve into that realm, we are looking to connect and tell the stories of soccer-savvy musicians. Soccer is the common denominator in so many people’s lives and we would like to grow the game by growing the mutual understanding we all have of what it means to love soccer.
What’s your full name and background?
Alex G. Vega. Jamaican and Panamanian, but born and raised here in San Diego.
Where in San Diego did you grow up? Which High school did you attend?
I grew up in Lemon Grove and Broadway Heights. We moved to La Mesa soon after I started attending Helix Charter High School. So I’m a little bit of east county and a little bit of southeast.
Where did you play growing up?
Around 8 years old, I joined the Crusaders after playing AYSO for a few years. I moved to Nomads SC at 10 years old and stayed there until College. Being a part of Nomads allowed me to play in a myriad of places around the country. I even traveled to England and Northern Ireland in 2006 for the Milk Cup, a tournament that Wayne Rooney played in during his youth. I have most certainly been blessed and although I realized soccer wasn’t my true passion, I never took for granted those opportunities.
What’s the highest level you played at?
Sadly, I quit playing competitively right before I went to College. I made the decision after already receiving a Division I, full ride, athletic scholarship to Howard University. I believe that I could have made it pretty far. To this day, I have plenty of friends who either aspire to be or are currently playing professionally. But I do not regret my decision however.
Do you still play now?
I do not and I need to! I didn’t love the game enough to play professionally, but I still love the game. One of the main reasons I stopped playing was because it stopped being fun to me. So if there’s a good group of people who resurrect that aspect, I’m all for coming out of retirement.
When did you first start getting into music and why?
I first started writing lyrics when I was 11 years old. The words always fascinated me and rapping came naturally. By the time I was 17, I had recorded numerous tracks, including a full length album for a school project. After quitting soccer, I started delving into other genres of music and subsequently learned how to sing. I bought a guitar soon after and began writing songs on that. I dreamed of becoming one of the best singers of all time, though that is very ambitious.
How would you compare your love for soccer and music?
I love both will all my heart. I learned how to play soccer before I knew how to play dodgeball or any other childhood game you can think of. I went to every single practice and worked harder than most. Needless to say, I was very damn good at it. But I just didn’t love it enough to power through the stress. I couldn’t handle the first time pressure of sitting out on the bench when college scouts were deciding your future. You know what the funny thing is though? I deal with a similar amount of stress pursuing music. The only difference is that the end product seems worth it to me. As long as someone can listen to my music and tell me, “Damn, you’ve inspired me,” or, “Man, you’ve changed my life,” it is worth going through all of the necessary pain and anguish. I saw the outcome of me playing soccer and decided that it was not worth it. That’s the difference.
What made you decide to “give up” playing soccer to pursue a music career?
Near the end of High School, I came to a better understanding of my purpose. Music, not soccer, is the driving force propelling towards that purpose. That is only half the reason. Growing up, I was ridden with social anxiety and utterly lacking in social skills. All I did was eat, drink, and play soccer. I had no time to focus on anything else, whether that was parties, going on dates, trying drugs, or just experiencing life. Part of me wanted to build confidence and better myself as a person. I do not believe I could be the person I am today if I didn’t quit playing soccer.
What are your musical ambitions/goals?
I want to change the world. I want to inspire others. Music is only the tool in which to accomplish bigger things. I might go back to school and get my masters eventually. I might write a book. I thought I would be playing soccer somewhere in England by 25, but you never know where life leads you.
Favorite instrument / artist to listen to / player to watch / etc
Anyone who knows me well, knows that my favorite rappers are Common and Nas. 2Pac and Kendrick Lamar come in close seconds. I grew up in a Rastafarian household, so Jamaican reggae and dancehall is a given. Damian Marley, Sizzla, Buju, Barrington Levy, Dennis Brown and many more have all had an influence on my style. Outside of black music, Elliott Smith is my absolute favorite musician and taught me how to play guitar by learning his songs. Streetlight Manifesto was myt favorite band for many years as well. Regina Spektor, Weezer, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, The Tallest Man On Earth have all had an impact on me. My favorite player to watch right now has to be Benteke on Liverpool. He is just too nasty.
If you could hang out with one person from the soccer world who would it be? Same for music.
Thierry Henry, hands down! He’s my favorite player of all time and we share the same birthday. I’ve already met Nas in person. Otherwise, most musicians I would love to meet most are dead. Recording with Regina Spektor, Kendrick Lamar, and Chance the Rapper however would be a dream come true.
Check out Vega’s latest project: Black American Football