Alex Cameron appears to be a restless troubadour that has gone from strength to strength since his debut album Jumping The Shark six years ago. He seems like a musician that has been traveling time with pulling up different personas throughout his songwriting. Yet, his most recent album Miami Memory is his most personal one. For the first time in his career, he tells the story about his newfound family life in Stepdad, yet Far From Born Again is dedicated to sex-workers.
In the Berlin office of his label Secretly Canadian, Alex sat down on a hot summer day with his business partner Roy Malloy to answer a bunch of questions. Just a few years back, they both were based in Berlin. Besides telling candid stories about their life in Berlin, they also shared some thoughts about contemporary love and living in America with me.
Before you moved to New York, you lived here in Berlin and were quite active in the local music scene. What has changed since that time?
Alex: We move around a lot more. We can do shows more or less everywhere. When we were here we were confined to certain cities. I suppose more people are listening to the music. We more and less can pay our rent. It hasn’t changed a lot.
Where did you end up writing Miami Memory?
A: Instead of writing it in different cities, I’ve written all the songs in New York. We’ve got a house down the Rockaway near the beach and I had a tiny electronic piano and wrote the songs there. The process of it was just the little isolation and writing, it was all in the same room.
Your previous music was a lot about failure, for me Miami Memory seems to be a lot more personal.
A: It’s less about failure on this album, there are always going to be elements of that. This new record is far more personal, indeed. I get my satisfaction in the writing of it by it being for someone, as opposed to writing about a number of things.
What’s your connection to Miami?
A: I just spent a lot of time in Miami. I often end up going there with my girlfriend, that song is specifically about that and I just like the phrase Miami Memory. When the song came to me, it was the song that typified what the album was about. Because I wanted the album to be a gift to my girlfriend, I decided to name the whole album after the song and write it under that umbrella.
I read in an interview which was actually with questions written by your girlfriend that you hate Los Angeles though.
A: If I lived in LA for a longer period of time, I would end up dying for various reasons. We spent a lot of time there, but I don’t hate it there.
Roy: I like LA a lot. We’ve been there a lot to work.
A: We make most of our albums in LA, we do the recording in LA. We own a car in LA, we don’t owe one in New York.
R: We got a nice setup in LA.
A: I don’t hate LA, I’m just concerned about my behavior when I’m there. Some cities just make you feel little reckless when you go there.
It’s the same with Berlin for a lot of people.
A: Berlin not so much. For you! (Turns to Roy)
R: For me. I’ve never spent more than a month here. Every time I’m here I’m ending up on the wildest adventures, I never have control where I end up.
A: We DJed at Loophole (local club, editor’s note) and some reason at 2 in the morning Roy yelled out that he’s a really good water-skier, the best one of New South Wales and the next morning, probably at 9 am there’s a knock on the apartment door and its two guys telling Roy that there going to waterski.
R: Then I got in their van and ended up waterskiing for the first time ever. I was okay, I stood up. They were big skies, it looks easier than it is. I’ve got a text from a friend last night asking if I wanted to go out, but then I said I shouldn’t because I wouldn’t be sure if I turn up for the interview day again.
Don’t go to men for advice about women
What are the most important issues you face in contemporary love?
A: Growing up as a teenager was learning how to balance providing pleasure and receiving pleasure. It’s a learning curve, I think for a lot of men you either get lucky and have an benevolent woman teach you or you straight up struggle with that concept for years and years. If I could advise a young man anything about sex it would be ‚Don’t go to a man for advice about women‘. Too often in sport, club or bro culture, it’s men discussing about how to treat women. And they don’t get a fucking idea. For me, it’s, if you want to learn about women and pleasing women, you must communicate with women and listen to them. That’s the most important thing.
R: In the love world for me, the evolution is dealing with topics such as jealousy and ownership.
A: Trusting in general and trusting emotions.
On your Instagram you share a lot of personal Polaroids that you’ve taken. How does photography influence your music?
A: I do a lot of photos. It’s just a different way to get a similar result. it’s some fun, I can see the subject and tell the story and do it. Whereas in songwriting I have to really flesh it out, there’s a lot of scraps that I edit out. Ultimately it ends up being a horseshoe, photography, and songwriting are similar but they’re never the same. But I often look at photos I’ve taken while I’m writing, I’ll set them up and the ideas will come to me while looking at the visual.
It seems like you’ve gotten this family life since living together with your partner, it’s not something a lot of young artists have.
A: I don’t think many artists could afford to. I am fortunate because I kinda got invited into this family dynamic and I feel very lucky for that. But it’s a completely new thing, I don’t know if many people get as lucky as I do, I’m a pretty lucky guy and this family dynamic is really tender and loving. I’m constantly in awe of how sweet it all is. But that opposes significant challenges for someone who’s never been a father figure, I never been around that many children. Just learning and trying to respond to different circumstances with compassion and patience in myself.
R: If you’re interested in the opinion of an outsider, I’ve never seen you smile like that since you were in school.
A: We put ourselves and forced ourselves in a position where our only task was to be creative and I was never really worried that spending time with a family would sack creative energy, it doesn’t, it provides it. The time that you’re away from the keyboard, away from the desk, being occupied is extremely valuable for someone who’s trying to be creative.
With the album being about love, what love songs have you been listening to recently?
A: I like Annie Lennox’ version of Shining Light, it was written by Ash. I actually listened to it after we made the album, I think it’s got a similar spirit.
Alex Cameron‘s new album Miami Memory arrives on September 13 via Secretly Canadian.