You can feel it in the air. Not only was England about to tackle Columbia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but more critical preparations were in place at Rye Wax in Peckham for the mystique persona, also called Alxndr London. Creating music that is as vulnerable and as introspective as his, it is bound to blur the lines, bend the rules and take you on an emotional rollercoaster in a very unconventional way with Alxndr’s ‘2023’ EP out on GAIKA’s The Spectacular Empire.
Alxndr has been flirting with music his whole life; it wasn’t until 2013 when he decided to be committed to being an artist what he realized ‘it’s definitely me’. First name Alexander, second name London does represent his hometown literally everywhere he goes. The London based and raised time traveler shares central concepts for his career with Noctis Magazine. His spaceship flew through topics like fantasy, sci-fi, Afrofuturism, balance, and style.
Taking off, Alxndr takes his spaceship right to the beginning when he studied classical music and played in choirs. Fast forward to 2013, when music became more than what he did, but more what he is: “I just got to a place when I realized I wanted to express what was truly inside without any hesitations and limitations, should I or should I not. In 2013, I just made a promise to myself and my aunt sisters. It wasn’t even music, it was creativity I wanted to be creative,” he explains.
Alxndr as the pilot of his spaceship, the metaphor for life, validates with his art that music isn’t straightforward. There’s always a story and a narrative. Being the time traveler he is, Alxndr decides to tell his ‘life story in a sci-fi fantastic and magical way.’
Picking up on a past interview, Alxndr expands the concept of Afrofuturism and what it means to him. “I just said that I was a time traveler and I was African,” he laughs, “People have different ideas of what Afrofuturism is, it being beyond the world and this realm.” He then goes on by saying how ‘it is about not looking at things as they are, it’s about looking at things in another ultimate reality.’
With the intention to demonstrate the core of Afrofuturism, Alxndr proceeds by saying: “There’a something about the struggles black people have been through and the idea of liberation. Some people didn’t see it in their time physically happening so they had to imagine it or create stories which would tell futures where black people might have the same struggles but they were more in control of the narrative. They could make the characters strong and magical, like Black Panther. Create your own reality and in that reality emphasize on Africa, black people being liberated from their struggles”, he elaborates and uses the American superhero movie Black Panther as an example.
Further down Alxndr’s journey through space, he released his first EP ‘A Long Time Ago’ in 2016 consisting of songs like ‘XXX’ and ‘Jupiter and Pluto’, still sticking to the theme of fantasy and alternative reality. ‘A Long Time Ago’ may be perceived as the first part of his second EP ‘2023’ that came out this Spring. The messages are quite similar and the lyrics are similar. Alxndr portrays it this way: “I”m telling my story as I’m traveling through time. It’s the spaceship talking about my every day”, he says.
Next stop, it is the most recent example of Alxndr’s time travels in the form of seven songs featured on the ‘2023’ EP. After a couple of drinks, the audience sat down and comfortably awaits Alxndr’s performance. The idea is to create an intimate atmosphere, just Alxndr and a DJ, dimmed lights, few plants, and his magical spaceship is ready for a takeoff.
The first song is ‘Silver Universe’ that is meant to introduce people to his reality. The debrief on this one is: “ I called silver because it’s not black, it’s not white, it’s in between but rather than grey because you know grey could look old. Silver is a metal that is valuable and precious, but its also bright. And you know you say, your clouds have a silver lining, which is like even though its raining and is miserable, the raindrops are carrying something special. In a way, seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty. That’s the message for it”, he describes and gets right off to a second song.
‘Silent Passenger’ is a metaphor for your brain and your conscience. Alxndr explains it as follows: “Let’s say you’re driving. The passenger is silent. They’re not really contributing as to opposed to a passenger who’s loud ‘turn right!; turn left; are we there yet;’. I felt like the silent passenger in a lot of my journeys, because people are like ‘you cant do that’ and I guess even though I might present like the silent passenger on the surface, I have all these conversations going on. I know mental health is one of the buzzwords nowadays, but I guess we have a silent passenger in our own heads who tell us to turn right and to turn left. I guess I am also saying thank you to my silent passenger in my head for never doubting me and always trusting me for always telling me to go forward because look where we are. Its just keeps getting better each day”, Alxndr thanks to his silent passenger in a self-reflective way.
Off to a third one, with ‘Broken Soul’ Alxndr is getting more vulnerable, sitting on a chair in front of a crowd explaining his soul and the silver lining of things: “There’s something about my soul. It has so much emotion. The version of my soul is kind of broken. It’s not linear. It’s not A-Z. It takes you up, and it takes you down. The lyrics are ‘Maybe I’ll get myself broken into million trillion pieces.’ Basically you never know you might be doing great and then another day your spaceship might crash and burn. Again it’s the silver lining thing. It’s not right; it’s not bad; it’s not black; it’s not white.Sometimes you have to break yourself down to bring yourself up again. I always try to look at the positives and the negatives”, Alxndr takes us on an emotional excursion of his soul.
‘Maybe?’ commences the second half of the EP, and the more positive part as well. “Talking about maybe my soul will get broken. Maybe when your soul gets broken, maybe you will find a new special part of yourself that everybody including yourself wants to meet”, Alxndr with this song admits that after he has done ‘A Long Time Ago’ and ‘The Only Day After Yesterday’, with ‘2023 he feels a lot more optimistic. Again, it’s about the balance, getting all the goods and all the bads. But you can always look for the half-full option.
The truly rhythmic core fo the EP is ‘Juju Rhythm.’ The word ‘juju’ is a Yoruba word for black magic, but it’s also a type of music. “It’s a lot more floaty and dreamy. It’s never quite pitched correctly. Again, it’s because I am in this magical place, just imagine, little old me, I’ve never imagined I would get this far”, Alxndr proves the positive vibe to ‘Juju Rhythm’ with few lyrics:
“Sometimes there’s rain,
sometimes there’s pain,
but the lightning strikes again.”
Number six on the tracklist is ‘Jury, judge, executioner’ that takes more of a personal turn on the spaceship ride. Alxndr also hints at the industry of being an artist: “We can be our own critics sometimes. It’s just me talking about it. I don’t have a label, so I don’t look to anyone else. Sometimes I’m really hard on myself. If tonight goes well, if it doesn’t go well, I would always take it upon myself. For this album, I’m in a better place. I’m more positive”, he then spits some wisdom for Noctis readers, “Don’t be hard on yourself the whole world is judging you anyways, again take that power back and understand you’re in control of the narrative.”
Last, but not the last, is ‘The Right Amount of Everything’ a truly perfect title for the last song after this emotional rollercoaster of an album. It started off somewhat negative, came to a neutral headspace, reached positive vibes and now Alxndr feels settled. Everything’s the right amount.
In between explaining the tracklist, Alxndr mentions a less positive track of his ‘April’ that he got asked to perform at COLORS, which is a unique aesthetic music platform. Alxndr admired the professionalism of the team at COLORS. Even though ‘April’ is considered a semi-dark song, the dark pink background gives out false positivity.
The only questions left unanswered is the hat. The hat that creates an entire ora of a mystique character around Alxndr artistic persona. They either come from Asia or Africa. But First thing’s first. Alxndr highlights he tries not to place too much emphasis on their physical meaning, he tries to put them down to their story. Generally, Alxndr is a big fan of hats, but the main reason is: “When I came to music, I didn’t know how to be me so I wanted to retain ‘me’ but still giving everybody something different a bit . You know you have ‘you’ when you go to your 9-5 work and then you have you when you’re partying without people from work, different country, no boyfriend…I guess in normal everyday life you want to runaway; you want to escape the 9-5 life, but it always creeps in and reminds you. So with the music that’s the full expression”.
He then continues by saying: “With my hats when I usually wear them I don’t have my hair done, I don’t want to be seen, because I can’t be bothered. I just want to blend in with the pavement and walk off. But then it’s cool it’s a fashion accessory. It completes your look. I don’t want people to see me. I’m not a fan of pictures and filming. I’m quite private. I don’t want to tell anyone what I think they don’t want to know. I could stay in my pretty world and not have to break the fantasy and then become 9-5 because I know that person is looking at me and that person is yawning that person’s camera is in their face. Now I can perform and close my eyes and none knows that I’m closing my eyes In terms of the story the arts are usually used by people that are working in the fields, quite working class agriculture or even religious people to keep the sun, when your travelling long distances and wear the hat and it creates a shade. They keep the flash out of my eyes. Everybody likes them. I like samurai movies and martial arts as well so maybe there’s a bit of that as well”.
Alxndr London’s music is everything it is set out to be. Truthful, emotional, self-reflective, awakening and to top it all, it can challenge mainstream norms of what good music is supposed to be. Alxndr London deserves all the success he is receiving, and all of you deserve to see him live.
Karolina Kramplova | WRITER
Nana Jr | PHOTOGRAPHER
Bele Bele | CLOTHING