FEATURE | 14 July 2018
Interview, Text & Photos: Martin Hufnagel
Pictures of Album Covers: Courtesy of Alxndr London
It was last year when a friend sent me the link to Alxndr London’s Colors Show. My first impression: His visual appearance is stunning. Second impression: What a voice.
Pretty rapidly, his EPs Today and A Long Time Ago became my soundtrack to a time when the days were getting shorter and the rays of sunshine getting colder. Two days before the release of his newest EP 2023, we met in the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, London to talk about time, Brexit, and the importance of a good producer/songwriter relationship.
What’s your first childhood memory of music?
I had parents who always sung when they were cooking or cleaning. There’s no particular memory, music was always around me. Listening to the radio in my dad’s car or a couple cassettes with all the songs I recorded from the radio the other night.
Where did you grow up?
London. I was born in North London, I went to primary school there, then moved to South London, then I moved to East.
Do you think Brexit will affect the cultural communities?
100 percent. It will create an even greater divide and also bring people together. The systems we live in recognise race and class. Something as simple as the colour of your skin or your economic and social status can shape so much of your experience of Britain. It’s a bit cheeky that Britain wants to detach from the rest of Europe. After their history. I call this privilege.
How did you think London has changed over the past 10 years?
A lot. I guess I’ve tried to embrace the good bits and the bits that I don’t necessarily enjoy; it’s going to keep changing and evolving. (thinks)
You seem divided.
Yes, because this (points around) is a part of it. Something like Colors is a part of it. Me and you talking right now is also part of it. It's hard to take one bit away from the other without stifling progression, new ideas, evolution. At the same time the impacts on certain communities – that I hold dear to me – is devastating. Sometimes it’s scary how fast it changes.
Your fascination with sci-fi and comics is apparent in your incredible artwork. Who’s responsible for that?
Dysect/IJ. She’s remarkable, she encapsulates a visual representation of the experience I wish to take listeners.
Was there a certain point when music became more serious for you?
Yep, 2013, when I dedicated myself to the arts for ten years. Ten years from 2013 is 2023. I built everything around the concept of killing the old bits of me to birth the new. It’s been a journey of self-discovery, reflection and growing up.
What about the bits that you didn’t like about yourself?
It’s really important to me that I'm responsible. How I treat others, my actions, my words, because that could affect someone and could go on to contribute to the way they experience the world.
There's always a time reference in your EPs. Do you also have the feeling that the older you get, the faster time goes by?
Yes, but I’m more present and aware in the moment now. I’m not a very patient person, fact. I reflect and reminisce on things that were and figuring out what to do now. We’re always planning for the future, yet we know there might be no future.
You mentioned before that you were very selective about the people you’re working with. With which producers did you work together for the new album?
Poté ('Silver Universe'), Harrsn and Entek ('Maybe?'), Elephant Disco ('The Right Amount of Everything'), Haich ('Jury, Judge, Executioner' and 'Broken Soul'). I produced 'Juju Riddim' myself.
What's important about the songwriter/producer relationship?
Respect. Respect and trust for each other’s creative process. To create three minutes of magic, everyone has to feel safe enough to be vulnerable.
Did you have a plan when you started?
I just knew that I was going to be me. So, I knew there would always be a level of consistency. I didn’t have to lay it out completely, it's simpler to let it unravel itself.
Before the release, you did a small tour in Europe. How was that?
Words cannot describe. It’s an epic feeling to share and give. I’m overwhelmed when people connect with my art, when someone’s singing a song you wrote along with you.
What was your favourite city?
I think Moscow was my favourite. It’s so far away from the Europe I’ve visited. A lot of my understanding of Russia was basically based on the Cold War and James Bond. I never knew what would bring me to Moscow. Trust it to be music. It was nice to challenge my own understanding.
Imagine you're at the airport. Where would you travel to?
Nigeria. I haven’t been back in a long time. I want to go there and have certain specific conversations. It’s just a personal thing, it’s not necessarily a tourist destination. There isn’t any particular person I want to see or a thing I want to do out there. I want to reintroduce myself to Nigeria.
Africa fascinates me, but being gay makes it hard for me to travel there.
There are gay people living in Nigeria, of course, but they know their country and how things work. Sometimes we’re not as quick to embrace and by default shame or mock people for who and what they are. It would be nicer to see a Nigeria that did embrace gay people. I must say that this is all a presumption, I haven’t been there in ages.
What's up next for you, after releasing the EP?
More. Like I said, I want to have certain conversations, discourse that revolves around more than my hats. I’m not going to start wearing a scarf or something, I just want to do my part.