(Above) PORTRAIT OF ALEXANDER, Image by Cezary Zacharew.
Gary Farrelly interviews Berlin based disco cabaret performer Alexander. The interrogation takes place at an undisclosed glamorously seedy location in the German capital. Farrelly is dressed in a Mao style suit made of beige sack cloth and herringbone finish. Alexander is wearing an early coco Chanel suit tailored to his tall, slim, boyish figure. Farrelly is smoking a Cabinet (East German) cigarette and drinking a generic brand gin, neat. Alexander is drinking a mint tulip in mini pear shaped glass. The atmosphere is cordial as the interview commences.
Gary Farrelly: We met at a at Sophie Iremonger’s Kreuzberg apartment under a year ago. My first impression was that you had arrived from 1920 in a time machine. The hair, the attitude, the clothing and to some extent the music. Are you an anachronism? Or at least very nostalgic?
Alexander: Lover, I’m a daydream. That epoch resonates with me very much, I suppose it’s part of the hundred year cycle isn’t it? Most of my favorite art and literature comes from the early twentieth century, and there’s a definite sense of glamorous tragedy to the era that one can’t help feeling a kinship with.
GF: Do you remember our first encounter? What was your first impression of your interrogator?
A: I remember it well, you had an erection. Actually, so did I.
GF: How are you liking the 21st Century? Do you feel at home in 2011?
A: To put it bluntly, no. I can’t help feeling that all the interesting people are either dead or have gone into hiding. Wilde put it perfectly when he asked, “Why was I born with such contemporaries?”
GF: I like your music. Is your music your favourite music?
A: It’s my favorite music to sing that’s for sure, but I’m also a big fan of Justin Vivian Bond who is probably my favorite living singer, and also a lot of contemporary electronic music by artists like SSION and Light Asylum.
GF: Characterize your style of music for me in three key words.
A: Come over here.
GF: Characterize your performance style in three words:
A: Less is more.
GF: On a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being not at all and 10 being very much so. What grade would you give the presence of egoism in your personality?
A: I’m a Leo so probably pretty high, maybe 8. Does that sound reasonable?
GF: Alexander is in the process of producing a new record. What is it going to be called and when do you envisage it’s completion? A natural evolution of your previous output or a radical change of direction?
A: Yes, this album is taking a long time and I’m trying very hard to stay cool about it, respect the process and all that, but it’s difficult. As my darling friend and collaborator Jordan Hunt put it, I, “have a lot of patience for a person with absolutely no patience.” The list of collaborators is endless and they are based in four different countries, which adds to the complication. When it’s finished the album will be broader in influences and styles than my EP “Dandylioness”, in a way it is becoming a snapshot of a certain internationally coalescent music scene. There are several possible titles, though I quite like “Blood Sports” at the moment. I hope that it will be finished (if not actually released) this year. But who knows? I’ll keep you posted, lover.
GF: Other projects of interest in the pipe lines?
A: Yes, I have a month long residency at The Silver Future in Berlin, where I will be performing every Monday night at the horrendously civilized time of 8.30pm. I’ll have special guests too and a fantastic new backdrop from the aforementioned Sophie Iremonger. All of the details, times, artwork, are on my website (www.thisisalexander.com)
GF: You have lived and performed in Los Angeles, Liverpool, New York and now Berlin. Do you like being based in Berlin? Do you see the German capital as home?
A: I also lived in London and Athens, but never actually L.A. though I have performed there. When I was in California I lived in San Francisco, psychedelics and bad art are more my style than smog and TV sets you see. I love living in Berlin, I have been very happy here but it was only ever meant to be temporary. I imagine I’ll move on when the record is done. Maybe back to London, a city that I have always found quite ghastly, but seems to be calling me back. We’re in an off-again on-again relationship I suppose.
GF: I find Berliners somewhat charm less. Do you agree?
A: Do you mean the cream filled donuts? I actually rather like them. Oh the people? Not at all, I love them, each and every last one. Even the ones who ride their bicycles whilst drunk, with no lights at 3am, on the pavement, and get irate when they crash into you. And of course all of the kind, gentle, patient souls who selflessly dedicate themselves to customer service, always with a smile, giving their utmost, everyday.
GF: Do you eat red meat?
A: I’ve never met a cow I wanted to eat, though if cannibalism were a serious option I’d be quite happy to carve up any number of ex-acquaintances.
GF: What kind of boys attract the desiring attention of Alexander?
A: Lover, everybody is beautiful! I really can’t say I have a “type”, that seems like too much work to maintain, especially for one who has such a short attention span, what a bore that must be hounding the same old template. As a rule of thumb, cheekbones score more highly than muscles, but generally if you have the nerve to try it on with me then you’re pretty much made, my door is always open to those brave enough to cross the threshold. I realize that I can be a little intimidating sometimes, but really I am all heart. Well, at least 25% heart. I must say, I do like the smell of your armpits.
GF: Are you political?
A: Of course, how could I not be? My existence is political, everybody’s is of course, but it is magnified when you live outside of certain norms of gender and sexuality.
GF: I recently spent some time working in the Autonomous Coastal city-state of Neustern. I was covering the shambolic parliamentary elections there for New Obsessive. I had the opportunity to meet the Supreme Controller (head of state). He made it known to me that he is a fan of your music. Would you be interested performing in Neustern some day?
A: As long as you don’t try and fly me there on a budget airline I’m game.
GF: The Supreme Controller of Neustern is known for his style and commitment to lavish full service air travel. He would never do that. Especially not to an esteemed guest.
GF: Do you believe in god?
A: Absolutely. And I always capitalize the “G”.
GF: A brief closing statement?
A: Tiocfaidh ár lá
Gary Farrelly, Berlin.