Interview — Alex Cameron

Not From This World

Don’t let yourself be fooled by the name: Alex Cameron’s music act is not just a one-man show… this time around, you’ll be getting two for one. We talked with singer Alex Cameron and saxophonist Roy Molloy about their collective creative goals, wild nights in Las Vegas, and intense orgasms.

11. November 2017 — MYP N° 21 »Ecstasy« — Interview: Jonas Meyer, Text: Katharina Weiß, Photos: Maximilian König

The two Aussies might be crazy—but there is a method to their madness. Alex Cameron and Roy Molloy want to tell stories about personal tragedies, lost loves and failures through their music. In an abstract and other-worldly manner, they perform shows around the world, in front of audience members, who may constantly be asking themselves, if the show is some form of high-concept art or just a result of massive drug abuse. We met Alex and Roy during their European tour and amongst other things found out what inspiration lies behind their ecstatic performances.

Jonas:
Roy, a couple of hours ago, you posted a long and serious statement on Facebook. You said that you guys are sick of everything going on in the world right now, especially in the U.S. You called the current situation a very dangerous one and talked a lot about the right-wing ideology that seems to foster it. Do you guys feel like you have a special responsibility to express yourselves as musicians in these trying times?

Roy:
I think you have to be aware of your reach and you have to be knowledgeable in general. It´s a matter of consistently expressing how you feel. I think that I focus on having a message but I don’t know if that’s the job of a musician.

Jonas:
You seem to be very outraged?

Alex:
Yeah, anyone with half a brain is pretty outraged by what’s happening. It’s a fucking travesty, it’s just blightingly wrong.

Jonas:
You guys spent months traveling the States now. Did you come back in desperation or with hope?

Alex:
There is just work to be done. There is no time to contemplating the future, you have to stay active in the present.

Playing in front of a few hundred or a few thousand people is pretty similar to taking ecstasy.

Jonas:
Which moments of your journey caused real ecstasy for you?

Roy:
The early tours in the States and in particular the early tours in Europe as well. We realized people were actually paying attention to us! That was a revelation for me—playing in front of a few hundred or a few thousand people is pretty similar to taking ecstasy. Especially compared to our modest beginnings when we were playing in restaurants, where no one was there to actually see us. The few guests were seeing us by accident while having their meal.

Jonas:
Your new record sounds like the soundtrack of a road movie. Listening to it feels like being on the road with you and Roy, sitting on the backseat of this ’88 Cadillac Coupe DeVille that you call “Duchess” and that can be seen in the video of your song “She’s mine”. Do you still own this car? And what kind of stories do you want to tell with your new record?

Alex:
It’s a collection of stories, for sure. Based on characters and myths I wanted to tap into. It’s the way I see the world—especially from certain perspectives, like personal tragedies and things like that.

Roy:
The Cadillac story is actually a tragic one as well: It’s been impounded by the state of California. At the time, we did not have the money to release it… So it has been crushed into a cube, it’s now scrap.

Jonas:
You travelled together for thousands of miles around the U.S., mostly in this car. It probably takes a good friendship to be spending so much time with just one other person am I right?

We’re both pretty committed to the idea of reflecting our current respective situation and having a body of work that echoes this and functions as our broadcast.

Alex:
You are right, I’ve done other tours and the relationship has not been as creative as I’ve hoped for. This one with Roy has—we are both using what we’re doing at the moment as inspiration for more writing and for other types of work. There are a few things that keep us going. The first thing is that we both need to work for food and accommodation. The second thing is that we’re both pretty committed to the idea of reflecting our current respective situation and having a body of work that echoes this and functions as our broadcast. It’s a living and breathing journal.

Jonas:
How long have you known each other for?

Roy:
It’s been a long time, 23 years.

Jonas:
What has changed since then?

Alex:
We left all the friendship drama behind us, from when we were kids and teenagers and now we are business partners.

Roy:
Once you’ve cleared a couple of hurdles as friends, it gets very smooth.

We saw a very different side of Las Vegas. Mostly, we did not go out and get shitfaced.

Jonas:
You also made it through wild nights in Vegas together and you filmed a video there, how did the city inspire you?

Alex:
We were just there doing work; we got asked to stay there and write songs! I think we saw a very different side of Las Vegas. Mostly, we did not go out and get shitfaced. Everything I basically have to say about Vegas is in a post, which I put on Facebook when I released „Candy May“:

I flew to Vegas with a deep seeded fear of a dormant syphilis.
I left with negative blood test results, an inflamed body rash, and a brand new music video.
If you’ve ever bought a car for $300 off a guy with cuts all on his face, or if you’ve ever traded tales of recent infidelities with the one person you promised you’d never betray, then this one’s for you.
If you’ve ever raised your voice in anger together with your sweet one at a bus stop like a bag of groceries about to split, then this one’s for you.
If you feel like you’ve been let down by love, or like you’re owed respect, then get your life in order and start behaving like an adult.
This is a song about falling apart.

Jonas:
In your Instagram stories, I often saw you hanging out with Brandon Flowers from The Killers. And now one can hear his voice on your new record. How did you meet each other and how was working with him on the new album?

Alex:
We’d just played a show for about eight people at a record store and we were driving our rental car through Florida. During that same time, we received an email from Brandon Flowers. He was interested in meeting us. So we went and paid him a visit to Las Vegas, stopped by his studio and I guess the magic was in the room because we were able to write a couple of songs very quickly.

Jonas:
Besides Mr. Flowers, there is another very interesting collaboration on the record with Angel Olson. You were touring with Angel in U.S. What can you say about working with all of these well-known artists? Especially after you played your first shows in restaurants with just a few people watching?

Roy:
At the end of the day, we’re trying to stay focused, and we’re so lucky to be working with more and more people we deeply respect. We’ve been fortunate that they’ve contacted us. For someone to reach down and offer a hand up to their level is both very flattering and – I hope – a sign that you’re doing something worthy and important.

I remember a particularly intense orgasm with a total stranger that left me giggling uncontrollably.

Jonas:
The main topic of this issue is „ecstasy“—in which moments in your life, do you remember feeling truly blessed by the enchantment of ecstasy?

Roy:
What a lovely topic. When I think about ecstasy I think about a few different things. The first time I felt mutual love, that feeling of shock that someone could love you like you love them, your heart being squeezed just when you look at them. I remember a particularly intense orgasm with a total stranger that left me giggling uncontrollably. Heroic moments in sport. I think about some super powerful ecstasy I took with friends in a town called Mollymook in 2014 and I just sat there looking at the shiny hair on my arm. Man. Cool topic for a magazine issue you guys.

Jonas:
Talking about the high times in life, it´s also part of the human experience to face the low ones. As an artist, how deeply are you in touch with your dark moments?

Roy:
Very in touch. I think the records speak for themselves in that way.

Jonas:
Some of your fans love the atmosphere of insanity around your stage and video performances—what inspired these unique acts of expression?

Roy:
I think that atmosphere comes from a few places. Initially, I mean, for the first two years or so, we were operating completely under the radar. Even by Australian standards, we were unknowns. The saying “dance like no one’s watching” comes to mind. So there was a reckless feeling of anonymity that came from that. Then there’s also a very conscious desire to perform the music as we think it should be and a bit of something that’s inherent to who we are. We really put a lot of our personality into it, and I don’t think that’s very common in a lot of musical performances these days.

There's a lot of different types of love and if you take the abstract out of it, it'd probably just be a chemical reaction in your brain.

Jonas:
In songs like „She’s Mine“ you sing about love in a very abstract manner—is there anything concrete to say about that topic?

Roy:
There’s a lot of different types of love and if you take the abstract out of it it’d probably just be a chemical reaction in your brain. Same as being depressed or elated or proud. The abstract is what gives it personal meaning and allows us to try and explain what we’re feeling or tell a story about it. So let’s keep the talk fluid on that topic for now.

Jonas:
You probably have many amazing projects ahead of you… can you tell us where the journey is heading to next?

Alex:
Right now the priority is to work. To tour the album thoroughly, perform it as best we can, and continue bringing people into our world. We’re the kind of guys who a day off is a curse for. So, for now, we’re just going to keep working hard and playing shows. We’re feeling good.