Portrait — Alxndr London

A Soulful Messenger

Alxndr London is not just a true delight for jazz and funk connoisseurs, which are pleased by a contemporary twist, the soul singer also raises his voice as a political advocate for Black British culture.

19. September 2017 — MYP N° 21 »Ecstasy« — Text: Katharina Weiß, Photography: Roberto Brundo

Even though we love these world hugging artists, who are keen to share every bit of their day from morning shower to good night kiss – there is always a special atmosphere around the creatives, who choose to hold on to a little bit more mystery. Alxndr London, unsurprisingly based in the British capital, is one of these humans, spreading this exact kind of interpretative secret. His public social media is streamlined and efficient, his hallmark is a lamp-like hat, pulled down low over his face.

The listener immediately desires to fall into a suggestive sway!

When he speaks, a few silver teeth lurk behind a fuzzy smile. We almost forgive him for the very Hipster move of erasing almost all the vowels from his artist name…But just because his tracks give us shaky knees, especially the ones, that blend into a sexy mood: the listener immediately desires to fall into a suggestive sway!

By now the British singer’s name is a buzzword among disco-leaning funk and afro-punk enthusiasts.

Since he and his two co-musicians released their first song Cold Sun at the beginning of 2015, a small but excellent audience spread the word. By now the British singer’s name is a buzzword among disco-leaning funk and afro-punk enthusiasts. No wonder, that Berlins newest night club, Father Graham, booked Alxndr London for its opening party at the end of August. Alxndr London and his colleagues definitely do not fail to charm us, when we meet them the day after in Berlin-Schöneberg. Due to the unexpected date with our MYP photo team (just 24 hours before, we basically ran into Alxndr London in a café and asked him out), the musicians were short on clothes. With some help from the lovely Superconscious Store, we organised some jackets and fancy shades—probably to hide a fashionable hangover from their celebrated Father Graham show the day before.

The new night club’s long-expected opening party is good news for two reasons: On the on hand, the neglected Berlin-Mitte area around U Stadtmitte has a new venue, where explorative artists and soul lovers find a beautiful alternative to the usually rather raving city. On the other hand is the invitation of wildly creative musicians like Alxndr London, which are inspired by a non-white community and heritage, significant for the cultural (and political) advancement of the German capital. Whilst activists like Grada Kilomba represent the endeavours of the Afro-Germans (German self-designation: “Afrodeutsche”), using places like Maxim Gorki theatre for performances or lectures about decolonizing knowledge or existing power configurations, a more global approach to Black identities is too often limited to traditional academic spaces. We can not talk often enough about the enrichment of pop culture, which refuses to stay within West European and North American influences and boundaries.

»This was the free-spirited Afro-futurist utopia I had only seen in my dreams.«

Next to his sound, Alxndr London uses African heritage and Anime visuals (like his performance kimono, designed by Sabode Designs), to set unique aesthetic statements. But the London-born son of Nigerian migrants also speaks directly about the complexity of his Black British experience, for example in a comment he wrote for Clashmusic about the joy of joining Londons very first Afropunk Festival in 2016: „I was teleported to a land of melanin, surrounded by thousands of people who looked and spoke like me. It felt foreign; this was the free-spirited Afro-futurist utopia I had only seen in my dreams.“ He mentions, that even though Black people make up about 3% of the British population—over 95% of Black Britains live in England, one million in Great Britain alone—they still face irritating experiences of exclusion.

»Long gone are the days where Black men believe they can't wear pink because it’s gay.«

He is part of an urban scene, creatively fighting this ethnical alienation through an embracing and displaying of diversity: „Long gone are the days where Black men believe they can’t wear pink because it’s gay, or Black women can’t have too many opinions because she’ll come across as difficult and challenging. Afro-punk has no time for those colonial, Willy Lynch ideologies that seek to exploit every difference between human beings in order to control, divide and conquer.“ In a political period, where these dividing movements are fuelled by uninformed fears, we need an army of charismatic hitmakers like Alxndr London. So every time there is another sexist, racist or homophobic comment, we can tap on an uplifting song like Circus Of Mermaids and dream about thirsty mermaids with no hair…welcome to the circus in our head!