An interview with Australia’s next best star
Alex Cameron is feeling good.
In fact, he says he’s in the best position he’s ever been in. The Australian singer has fallen in love with Jemima Kirke, an English artist and actress who greatly inspires his songs, most notably on his newly released, love-centred album, Miami Memory. His team has just cleared a few years’ worth of debt and can finally afford to pay their rent while living comfortably. Most impressive of all, Cameron is on track to play over 100 shows on tour in 2019.
“We tour our fucking asses off and people come to our shows,” said Cameron. “What we do is a reputation thing. We have a reputation for putting on hot shows and writing songs that, though they are very specific, people find a way to latch onto them and it becomes broad reaching once the ideas spread through conversation. We got no problems, man. We’re feeling good. Are you feeling good?”
The eccentric frontman asks me the question as he sits backstage at the Fairmount Theatre before his show on Nov. 16, alongside his saxophonist and business partner, Roy Molloy.
Cameron is comfortable as he finishes his sound check, sporting a pair of black track pants, slicked jet black hair, his Miami Memory merchandise necklace and a retro City Ford Sydney Roosters jersey to commemorate his hometown. Molloy opts for a more done-up look as he sits alongside us in a black corduroy suit with a bag of Sour Patch watermelon candies in hand.
Cameron’s earlier projects, Jumping the Shark and Forced Witness, touch upon themes of loneliness and distress as a failed musician. However, those days may be over, ever since Cameron was contacted by Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers.
He says that Flowers, whom he has previously labelled as one of the best songwriters of our generation, stumbled across his music on the internet and asked him and Molloy to assist him in writing The Killers’ 2017 album, Wonderful Wonderful. Flowers later took them onboard the album’s tour as a support act and returned the favour with songwriting credits on Cameron’s Forced Witness. The Killers have since announced a forthcoming album, Imploding the Mirage, which Cameron says he may have a hand in as well.
“I think what that whole experience gave us was a lot of information and a lot of guidance about the industry and what it means to be a performer, and what it means to have your music actually impact people,” said Cameron. “There’s a good lesson in there.”
Despite the insight that Cameron and Molloy may have received from connecting with Flowers, they don’t expect their music to peak at the top of the charts – at least not in the foreseeable future.
“I think that pop music is driven by the kids and the kids will always want something new,” said Cameron. “I think that popular music, generally speaking, is consumed by people who are like, between the ages of eight and 15. So when you’re writing a pop song and you’re getting all those sales and making all those hits, it’s because kids love it. If you want to talk about why our music isn’t at the top of the charts, it’s because our music is explicitly for adults. And that’s a different kind of ball game.”
“What we’re doing isn’t for 14-year-olds,” said Molloy.
The duo says that their art is reserved for an older audience because of certain lyrics riddled with mature content that includes explicit sexual references and a certain song with homophobic slurs.
While it is certainly not for radio, Cameron is in no way homophobic. His slurs are sung ironically as his lyrics address him being called gay for the makeup he wears and the way he dresses. Later that evening on stage, Cameron saves “Marlon Brando” for the encore and assures the crowd that it’s normal for them to question their sexuality while discovering who they are.
Cameron carried that same feisty energy with him on stage throughout the whole show. His stage presence was compelling and his dance moves contagious. Many artists could certainly take tips from an Alex Cameron performance.
While Cameron may be considered new to the music industry, his influence is certainly felt by many established and aspiring musicians alike.
“I feel like we’ve presented some ideas that were definitely ours that other people are accessing,” said Cameron. “But I also feel like once you put something out there into the world, you’re putting it into a melting pot to be shared. If you don’t want to be ripped off, just don’t release anything.”
Cameron may be inspiring artists that likely fall into the rock or indie category, but he doesn’t think that certain music thrives because of the genre that they’re boxed into.
“Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a genre thing,” said Cameron. “I don’t think it’s about
‘why is rock not at the top? Why is rap at the top? Why is pop music not at the top?’ Ultimately, it’s about where the spirit is, and where the energy is – where the genius is.”
Photos by Guillaume Knobloch