For Australian singer-songwriter, Alex Cameron, his on-stage performance has always been a limitless playground for exploration. Despite masterfully adopting the twisted personas of washed up entertainers and deadbeat boomers, drowning in both insecurity and a frustrated libido, the man behind the mask is anything but distasteful.
Over the phone, his raspy, smokey voice is meditative and reflective. “I think I knew I wanted to be in music from when I was about five years old,” Cameron recalls. “I remember being Buddy Holly for the first time. I say ‘being’ because when I listen to music I actually imagine myself performing it.”
The real Cameron grew up in a suburban, semi-detached house, just a stone’s throw away from a beach. The youngest of three children, Cameron shared a single bedroom with his siblings until the age of 15. He fondly recalls the chirping cockatoos and crushing seaside waves that lulled him to sleep every night.
“If I started writing songs with the context of why it is important then I think the songwriting might suffer and I might suffer.”
His retelling of such a wholesome visage was a curveball. The title track on Cameron’s most recent album, Miami Memory, vividly describes “eating ass like an oyster / until [she] came like a Tsunami.” On the track “Marlon Brando,” from his 2017 album, Forced Witness, Cameron used a vicious homosexual slur to play the role of a violent, possessive homophobe who fancies himself a Marlon Brando and David Beckham hybrid. On “True Lies,” off the same album, he parodied a desperate middle-aged man seeking “the hottest barely legal aged teens.”
While Cameron’s tragic characters pander to their god-complexes, basing their bigoted behaviours on a surrender individualism, their creator lacks this impulse. Instead, Cameron places his twisted characters behind the lens of a vintage filter—his tracks shimmer in nostalgic synth, and are rife with a dad rock aesthetic driven by strings and horns. Cameron asserts himself as a high concept artist, surprisingly, unwilling to talk about the perverted, sordid muses that inspire his toxic characters.
But rather than opting for the politically charged rants about toxic masculinity that you’d expect from a woke artist, Cameron denies himself the right to preach. “It seems to be a bit egotistical to start thinking about how I’m writing about important things,” explains Cameron. “I’m much more focused on what I’m writing about, not whether I think it is important.”
During a performance in Vancouver this past February, Cameron’s on-stage performance reflected his fierce individualism. Standing on stage, alongside Roy Molloy, Cameron’s “business partner,” saxophone player, and childhood best friend, Cameron hit the play button on what we can only assume was a laptop hidden inside an old-school briefcase. While Molloy would occasionally stand and play a solo empathically, for the most part, Cameron flew solo.
Finding his inspiration “in the ether,” Cameron finds inspiration for lyrics everywhere: during a car ride, while reading a novel, or, sometimes, in mid conversation. However, his music has a more innocent ambition than his socially-agitating lyrical content might lead you to believe.
“I write to the path of least resistance,” Cameron muses. “I don’t want to focus on what people think of my songs, instead of what they are. If I started writing songs with the context of why it is important then I think the songwriting might suffer and I might suffer.”