Olly Alexander on new album ‘Night Call’ and why he went solo

Years & Years: “Going solo was like a break-up” said Olly Alexander

It has been a amazingly extreme a year for Olly Alexander. To begin with, he featured in It’s a Sin, author Russell T Davies’ lively and significantly moving reflection on the HIV/AIDS plague of the ’80s and ’90s, which turned into the most discussed TV show of England’s third public lockdown. And afterward he endured Years and Years’ progress from a three-part band to a performance project directed completely by him.

Olly Alexander vows to be ‘more sexy’ despite BBC complaints.

Years & Years performed during BBC One’s celebratory New Year’s Eve concert in December, alongside Kylie Minogue and The Pet Shop Boys.

However, some viewers found Olly’s set to be ‘overly sexualised’ and the corporation received 179 complaints.
He told press: ‘I’m just going to have to push it even more next time and I have to say, if you think that was too sexual, you probably shouldn’t come to the show, they might have a heart attack.’ Clapping hands sign

‘It’s kind of amazing, I loved it, honestly.’

Last March, it was reported that the third Years and Years collection – later named ‘Night Call’, and presently out today – would be “an Olly solo undertaking” since his bandmates Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen had basically ventured down. “The three of us are still old buddies,” the threesome said in a web-based media proclamation. “Mikey will be essential for the Y&Y family and play with us live and Emre will zero in on being an essayist/maker.”
In any case, any commotion doesn’t seem to have diminished Alexander’s normal warmth and sparky character. At the point when the London-put together star shows up with respect to separate a comfortable looking hoodie, he quickly slices through any Zoom ungainliness by trusting with a grin that he hasn’t got round to showering yet.

Alexander has sparkled in interviews since the time Years and Years solidified their forward leap by winning the BBC’s Sound of 2015 survey and that year’s introduction collection ‘Fellowship’, and today is no exemption. He’s insightful, shockingly genuine with regards to his bandmates’ takeoff – to a greater degree toward this later – and, most importantly, great fun.

Back in 2015 Years and Years’ Olly said he ‘felt like a lose’ before band

‘Night Call’ shows up precisely a year to the day that It’s A Sin appeared on Channel 4 on 22nd January, 2021. This slick piece of close balance feels significantly really fitting when Alexander says the collection was motivated, to some extent, by the show’s ’80s club bangers. “Making It’s A Sin resembled being totally inundated during the ’80s,” he reviews. “We would all impact ’80s playlists in our trailers and obviously there was such a lot of splendid music on the soundtrack.”

Alexander is totally right to recognize the show’s remarkably reminiscent soundtrack.

While his personality Ritchie and his flatmates at their so called “Pink Palace” cushion investigate LGBTQ+ London, we hear everything from Bronski Beat’s period characterizing gay song of devotion ‘Smalltown Boy’ to Hazell Dean’s Hi-NRG hit ‘Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)’. ‘Night Call’ doesn’t sound retro – it’s a trendy assortment of contemporary pop tunes, drove by the Top 40 hits ‘Captivated’ and ‘Charmer’ – yet it’s imbued with a comparative feeling of sexual experience and welcoming idealism. Alexander has said he composed it “from a dream space” as the pandemic kept the nation housebound.

“I was really imagining the ’80s and hearing that crossover from disco coming out of these marginalised communities and then it kind of turning into dance music,” he adds today. “The birth of that [Hi-NRG] sound is so exciting to me and it must have been incredible to have heard it for the first time on the dance floor: all the energy and the freedom and the raw vocals on those records.” Alexander says It’s A Sin “really took me down a path” of listening to groundbreaking artists such as Sylvester, the androgynous disco icon whose seminal single with electro-dance pioneer Patrick Cowley, ‘Do Ya Wanna Funk’, appears on the show’s soundtrack.

Alexander has also said that many of the album’s songs are “patchworks inspired by random memories and hook-ups or men that I’ve met,” and this definitely comes through in his lyrics. “You come in and out of my dreams / Fuck with my head / Making me crazy,” he sings on the pulsingly seductive single ‘Crave’. “I keep comin’ back to the scene / Back to the bed / Been contemplating.”

Though Alexander didn’t necessarily set out to make such a sex-positive album, that’s what took shape when he began “stacking up” songs for ‘Night Call’. “I realised that I wanted the album to be about sex, but also just to have this, like, freedom of expression,” he says. “I wanted to express myself in a way that maybe I hadn’t expressed myself before. And so once I figured that out – that it was going to be uptempo and fun and music you could move your body to – that sort of helped me [put it together].”

Night Call’ seems to delight in subverting this binary categorisation of gay male sexuality. The strutting bonus track ‘Muscle’ has Alexander lusting over a ripped partner, but he doesn’t sound overpowered – he sounds in control. Was he trying to show that queer sex is more complex than the tired old trope of a “dominant” top fucking a “submissive” bottom?

“Oh my gosh – yes! I love this question!” he replies. “You know, being an artist is definitely a strange experience, because when I put a song out, I have no idea how it’s going to be taken – and sometimes I can be surprised. People commenting on how you have sex is quite surreal, I suppose, but I’ve made my peace with it now.”

So much so, in fact, that Alexander now enjoys “playing with people’s expectations” a bit. “Take ‘Crave’, for instance,” he explained. “I thought there was something really empowering about going to this potentially really humiliating place and asking for someone to hurt you. I’m deliberately playing on the kink and [its] dom-submissive dynamics. It just amuses me.” This is a definite progression from Years & Years’ 2016 single ‘Meteorite’, when Alexander snuck a song about bottoming onto the Bridget Jones’s Baby soundtrack by wrapping it in an astrological metaphor: “Hit me like a meteorite!”

Alexander is such a pop connoisseur, it’s a little sad to hear him say that “pop was like a dirty word” towards the end of Years & Years’ time as a three-piece.

Alexander, Goldsworthy and Turkmen co-wrote every song on the band’s 2015 debut album ‘Communion’, home to the shimmering number one hit ‘King’ and even better Number Two hit ‘Shine’, but his bandmates were credited on just two tracks from 2018’s ‘Palo Santo’. He recently said that the second album was “not loved by everyone in the band”, something that presumably led to Alexander carrying out most promo assignments solo. By this point, his profile had grown so much larger than his bandmates’ that this didn’t look strange – or at least, not too strange.

“We could never really agree on what we liked in the music and what direction we wanted to go in, so that made the songwriting process difficult,” Alexander says today. What did the three of them disagree on? “It was never lyrics; they would never touch lyrics. It was just, like, general direction: how ‘poppy’ something was gonna be. Pop was, like, a dirty world, which is a little crazy.”

He lets out a sigh. “Arguments over music can really help you make something good, and I think it did with us,” he continues. “Like, I really love all the music we made, but it always came with its own complications.”

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