Bad For The Boys: We sit down with Alex Cameron
I’m sitting in an attic room above a cobbled floor music hall in Bristol. Opposite me, comfortably on the couch, is Alex Cameron who’s tucking into a fresh avocado with some nachos in a vintage football shirt. “It’s a good avocado,” Alex tells his business partner Roy Malloy, who’s digging into some other food in the corner. Tonight is another sold out show for Cameron, who’s touring for the release of his third studio album titled Miami Memory. As Roy Malloy deals with a situation involving dropped cheese behind us, Alex and I get chatting.
Alex Cameron’s new L.P is fresh on record store shelves, released by Secretly Canadian. “It feels good to have it out,” he tells me. Back on the touring circuit Alex is very business minded. He’s a self sufficient artist, and Miami Memory is a testament to the 29 year old’s will to have it how he wants. “It’s a real solid excuse to tour when you have an album out. I’m always going to make records, but whilst we are in the thick of it, our lives depend on the touring and the business model is heavily reliant on touring.”
Alex is aware of the importance of playing live, but for him it’s more of a pleasure than a job, despite having the business ethos. “It’s such a bonus playing songs that I want to perform. I really do love performing these songs, they’re such a pleasure to sing.” If you’ve seen Alex Cameron live you’ll know his stage show’s are unique. He’s witty, comfortably awkward, and can quite easily wrap a crowd around his little finger. “I get emotional and I feel extremely motivated. The new songs are going down better than the old ones, it’s the first time we’ve ever done a tour where the new songs are going down well straight away. People have jumped onto these songs and it’s really exciting.” The current U.K. tour is the first time that all the shows are selling out. The Al Cam hype is real and its infectious. “It makes our job a lot simpler, you know, emotionally,” Alex says. Gone are the days that the singer feels like he’s trying to win over a crowd. “It feels much less of a pitch and more of a celebration,” he continues. “I can focus on the songs and perform them the way I want to perform them.”
Miami Memory focuses on more personal topics than 2017’s Forced Witness. Alex’s flair for narration is still at the forefront of his songwriting, but the most frequent character in Miami Memory is himself, displaying candour insights into his own life and his relationship with his girlfriend. “It absolutely feels more personal,” Alex says. “It’s much more of my perspective in the songs, even if they are characters. It’s a more fluid way of communicating my ideas.” Alex feels more connected than ever to his work, and the songwriter has felt a lot more free and that the writing came natural to him. In Miami Memory relationships are held with high regard. “I haven’t always been an open person. I’ve learned through relationships to express myself more naturally and more honestly,” he tells. “I do also think I’m grappling with that, I’m still learning how to be open with people and confront the more difficult emotions when it comes to communication.” In the press release for the new record, Alex says ‘…it’s a symbol to hoist on the totem of love’. On the theme of openness, I ask Alex an outright question. Alex Cameron, what is the definition of love?
“For me it’s very much to do with learning, not just in sex but in all platforms, learning how to give instead of focusing on receiving. Learning how to give whilst receiving. Wether it’s give pleasure, give compassion or an open ear. It’s about the reciprocal nature of a relationship. I think my best moments in relationships are when I’m giving very freely.” Alex admits that it’s not necessarily an easy thing to learn and come to terms with. “In a cosmic way it’s just about finding the right person to do it with. I’m learning through my girlfriend Jemima at the moment about what a good relationship can be. It’s just being open to learning and not being stuck in your ways. I realised at a certain point in my mid-twenties that I needed to stop going to men for advice on women. I think it messes with the nature of love and relationship when you have a boys club and a girls club.”
Alex lays it all bare in his music. Though at times his honesty will give even the squarest of person a chuckle, there is strong emotional value behind each line. Some of it may seem outlandish, however for Alex his rawness is something he wears on his sleeve. There are themes tackling the stigma around sex work and masculinity. A favourite line is in Far From Born Again in which Alex sings, ‘the same men that tell her, “stop”, are the same suckers that pay, far from born again, she’s doing porn again’. However, Alex feels no obligation to engage in these social issues despite his platform allowing him to reach a large audience, wether onstage or through social media. “I’m always surprised when I hear a band who are known for being spokespersons for certain causes and then have none of that content in their songs. I’m much more focused on what my songs are about and having the message clear in them. All of my ideas go into my songs. It’s important for me.”
It’s unfair to pigeon hole any artist into a genre, and Alex Cameron certainly defies any of them, but I wonder, for songwriters and pop artists to stay relevant and interesting do they need to focus on pushing boundaries in music? For Alex, he’s not sure if artists have to, but he sure would like it to. “Ideally it would remain interesting,” he tells me, “but I always have felt that pop music is driven by what young people want. I think pop music at the moment sounds really crazy and wild, and in that sense it’s quite interesting.” Alex is thinking about how his music will develop from Miami Memory. “I would like to find a middle ground between character work and songs from my perspective,” he tells. Alex is already thinking about L.P four, and though his concept is in an early stage he tells, “I’ve got this very twisted idea for what my next record will be about. Though I don’t want to talk about it too much, it’s fairly decrepit. It’ll definitely have a theme, but I’m not sure if it’ll be a ‘concept album’”.
The future for Alex Cameron is certainly bright. He’s a man with ideas and he’s not afraid to confront them. It’s exciting to think about how his intelligent and uncommon songwriting will develop, and what ventures him and his business partner Roy Malloy will get up to. In the mean time Alex is focused on his live shows with Miami Memory, listening to Angel Olsen on the road and always learning how to be an open person.
Keep up to date with Alex Cameron here.
Interview by Nathan McLaren-Stewart.