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


Olly Alexander offered a dancing and sensual show in the Lab on Saturday. Just before he hit the stage, he confided in his latest album, Night Call.

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Olly Alexander in the laboratory changing rooms a few hours before his concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Sebastian 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.

Sebastian 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 would shape the history of Montreux jazz when big stars passed here, I answered: by wearing a beautiful deconstructed mesh jumpsuit,” Olly Alexander confided to the scene with humor.

The Brit, known as Years & Years, rocked Le Lab this Saturday July 2nd. With its 5 dancers (sparsely dressed) and its 3 singers with impressive voices, it was the most festive concert of this 56th edition so far. Dance sounds, a dizzying voice and a sensual, simple but effective choreography. The audience jumped to the rhythm of the bass from “Desire” or “Starstruck”. The most striking moment remains his piano cover of his hit “Eyes Shut”. A religious stillness 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. Earlier this year he released his album Night Call which topped the charts in the UK. He talks about this shortly before his appearance 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 was always jealous of all the other artists who were invited there. I’m 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 why there are many Dance 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 that time and I missed dancing, going out, talking to people a lot. Because of this, the project is all about that.

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

You are absolutely right. I had absolutely no sexual relationship during this time. (Laughs.) I had no contact with anyone. When I was composing this album, I had also been single for four years. Although I’ve had a few flirtations, the pandemic hit and that lack of sex found its way into the lyrics of my songs. This topic was on my mind and it was natural to talk about it.

On this third album you also seem more confident.

It’s age. (Laughs.) I will be 32 years old on July 15th. As the years go by, I’m more comfortable with who I am. The many concerts have certainly helped me to gain self-confidence. Not to mention I’m not in a band anymore (Note: in 2021 the other two founding members will leave Years & Years). When I set out on this solo project, I had to be sure of what I wanted. There was no question of censoring me. It was a challenge, but I’m getting there step by step.

“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 it always been like this?

I may have lied a little. When I was younger I was ashamed to be gay. I really didn’t want to be. There were so many taboos surrounding homosexuality. I didn’t even know I was ashamed, I just didn’t want to be gay. Even when I came out, that feeling didn’t go away. I think folks strange have a lifelong relationship with shame. But I have learned that facing these situations, bringing them to light and being proud of yourself can only be beneficial. Yes, I’m scared sometimes, but nobody should feel bad about being gay.

Do you still feel this fear today?

Yes. For example, when I’m in the back of a cab 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 track Starstruck. how did you convince them

I met Kylie Minogue in 2015. We had opened for one of their shows. The following year she invited me to sing at a Christmas concert. We then met a lot at festivals… She always supported my music and I’ve been a big fan since I was a child. During the pandemic we both worked on our albums. I was hoping that she would accept my suggestion for this remix and that was it. She really is an angel and one of my best friends.

They recently paid tribute to a gay icon 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 (Note: A police officer 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 speak for him. All the tabloids wrote about it and he said, “I’ll give my version by composing a song.” It’s inspirational.

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