Years & Years: "It was natural to talk about sex on this album"

Years & Years: “It was natural to talk about sex on this album”

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Olly Alexander offered a dancing and sensual show on Saturday at the Lab. He confided in his latest album, “Night Call”, just before going on stage.

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Olly Alexander in the Lab’s dressing rooms a few hours before his concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Sebastien Anex

He was able to enjoy a dip in the lake on Saturday afternoon.

He was able to enjoy a dip in the lake on Saturday afternoon.

Sebastien Anex

Years & Years on stage at du Lab on July 2, 2022.

Years & Years on stage at du Lab on July 2, 2022.

Marc Ducrest

“When I was asked how I was going to mark the history of Montreux Jazz when big stars have passed through here, I answered: By wearing a beautiful deconstructed mesh jumpsuit”, confided with humor Olly Alexander on the scene.

Known as Years & Years, the Brit rocked Le Lab this Saturday, July 2. With its 5 dancers (sparsely dressed) and its three singers with impressive voices, it gave the most festive concert of this 56th edition, so far. Dance sounds, a dizzying voice and sensual, simple but effective choreography. The public jumped to the rhythm of the bass of “Desire” or “Starstruck”. The most striking moment remains his piano cover of his hit “Eyes Shut”. A religious silence had settled in the room.

Olly Alexander took over the catalog of the group with which he became known more than ten years ago, but above all presented the titles of his solo project. He released his album ‘Night Call’ earlier this year which topped the charts in the UK. He tells us about it just before his show in the festival boxes.

You finally come back on stage, but this time alone. Happy?

Above all, I am happy to be here. The Montreux Jazz is such a prestigious festival. I have always been jealous of all the other artists who have been invited there. I am happy to be able to share my music there. I also took the opportunity to go swimming in the lake this afternoon.

Your album is very positive and up-tempo. Was that what you missed the most during the pandemic?

Exactly. This is the reason why there are a lot of dancing on this disc. At first, I had no idea what kind of album I wanted. I started from scratch during the pandemic. I didn’t want ballads or slow music. I was all alone during this period, and I missed dancing, going out, talking to people a lot. It is for this reason that the project is only about that.

On several tracks like “Muscle”, “Night Call” or “Reflection” we find a sexual tension in the lyrics. Did you miss sex?

You are completely right. I had absolutely no sexual relationship during this period. (Laughs.) I had no contact with anyone. When I composed this album, I had also been single for four years. Even though I had a few flirtations, the pandemic arrived and this lack of sex found its way into the lyrics of my songs. This subject was in my thoughts and it was natural to talk about it.

In this 3rd album, you also seem more confident.

It is age. (Laughs.) I will be 32 on July 15th. The more the years pass, the more I feel good about who I am. The many concerts have certainly helped me gain self-confidence. Not to mention I’m not in a band anymore (note: in 2021 the other two founding members leave Years & Years). When I embarked on this solo project, I had to be sure of what I wanted. It was out of the question to censor me. It was a challenge, but I’m getting there little by little.

“When I was younger, I was ashamed of being gay. I really didn’t want to be. There were so many taboos around homosexuality.”

Olly Alexander, singer

A few years ago you said at a concert in Glastonbury: “Sometimes I’m scared, but I’ll never be ashamed because I’m proud of who I am.” Has this always been the case?

I may have lied a little. When I was younger, I was ashamed of being gay. I really didn’t want to be. There were so many taboos around homosexuality. I didn’t even know I felt shame, I just didn’t want to be gay. Even when I came out, that feeling didn’t go away. I think people queer have a lifelong relationship with shame. But I learned that if you face these situations, that you bring them to light and that you are proud of yourself, it can only be beneficial. Yes, I’m scared sometimes, but no one should feel bad about being gay.

Do you still feel that fear today?

Yes. For example, if I’m in the back of a taxi with my partner, I think about whether I can really kiss him or hold his hand. Which is sad. Maybe the driver just doesn’t care.

Back to the music, you managed to collaborate with Kylie Minogue on your title “Starstruck”. How did you convince her?

I met Kylie Minogue in 2015. We had opened for one of her shows. The following year, she invited me to sing at a Christmas concert. We then often met at festivals… She has always supported my music and I have been a big fan since my childhood. During the pandemic, we were both working on our albums. I was hoping that she would accept my proposal for this remix, and that’s it. She is truly an angel and one of my best friends.

You paid homage to a gay icon recently by releasing a cover of George Michael’s “Outside.” Why this choice?

This is one of my favorite George Michael songs. He wrote it after being arrested for indecent assault (Editor’s note: a policeman caught him in the middle of a sexual act in the toilets of a public park in Beverly Hills). It’s one of the most iconic stories. I love this artist. He had absolutely no problem talking about sex and he never let anyone do the talking for him. All the tabloids wrote about it and he thought, “I’m going to give my version by composing a song.” It’s inspiring.

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