Alex O’Connor is a young artist from England who chose to express himself through music, as singer Rex Orange County. It all started with a bedroom album, “bcos u will never be free”, which he recorded with some friends and that could probably be an illustration of London’s youth culture. Followed by Alex’s most listened to song, UNO, the singer found a way to relate to his peers, with lyrics such as “How do you admit that you’re falling apart?” It is this raw and honest voice, followed by some swearing at the end of some records that appealed to people and lead him to soon releasing a new album. Here is an insight into Alex’s personal life and music to get a better understanding at what it means to be young in London, and how to deal with it.
FUCKING YOUNG! – Hi Rex. First of all, could start by introducing yourself and telling us where you come from?
Rex Orange County – My name’s Alex O’Connor and I make music under the name of Rex Orange County… Currently live in streatham with my girlfriend but I was born and raised near a town called Haslemere in Surrey.
F.Y! – How did the idea to pursue a career in music come?
ROC – I was always better at music than anything else from a young age but I was playing drums at a music school aged 16 and throughout the two years I started singing more and getting into solo artists more so than bands and after realising I wasn’t gonna be a drummer I began writing songs for a solo album and produced it at home with help from a friend. Now it’s everything I do.
F.Y! – Do you have any significant musicians and rappers that influenced you?
ROC – Yeah I like a lot of stuff and appreciate practically everything in music, but as far as influence for rex orange county goes it’s mainly just the solo guys i look up to like Frank, Toro Y Moi, Mayer Hawthorne and this Dutch guy called Benny Sings… he’s like my favourite dude for sure… oh and the rap thing for me goes from Young Thug and Chance to Outkast, Lil Wayne, Kanye etc. Not directly influential to Rex but I guess it’s always played it’s part.
F.Y! – Do your inspirations come from these or can your lyrics also be influenced by life events and your surroundings?
ROC – I for sure listen to how other people say things but I tend to take more from what an artist chooses to do with chords and instrumentation. Lyrics I’ve written have only come from real life experiences.
F.Y! – After listening to some of your lyrics, your girlfriend seem to be quite an important element of your life. Are you a big believer in love?
ROC – Uh yeah well if you’re referring to the lyrics in ‘bcos u will never b free’ I actually didn’t have a girlfriend in the period of time. However, If you listen to everything unreleased that i’ve done in recent months then yes you’d be correct. My girl is very important to me and i am a ‘big believer’ in love haha.
F.Y! – Why did you choose to call yourself Rex Orange County?
ROC – It’s to do with my surname initials being OC and me thinking that a relation to the American soap opera ‘The OC’ would be kinda clever or funny but actually it’s inconvenient now that so many people think I’m from Orange County… haha
F.Y! – How would you describe your music genre?
ROC – I don’t know if I’d consider it a specific genre. Just my favourite chords and drums with lyrics usually sung and occasionally spoken.
F.Y! – Tell us about ‘UNO’.
ROC – I wrote it at school when I was getting jarred at everyone and wanted to drop out of education entirely… I guess it just summarises all the things that made me feel like leaving.
F.Y! – Which song would you say represents you the best?
ROC – In terms of my own music, there’s this song called ‘Never Enough’ due to come out this year which is probably my favourite out of my new shit. It’s just what I’d want people to hear from me right now.
F.Y! – What do you do with your free time?
ROC – I spend most of my time with my girlfriend in south London, we make music together. I like making all my own live show posters and cover art which is useful when you’re a perfectionist. Other than that I go to a lot of other artists and bands live shows. I like seeing people more than once to watch how they move on from the previous time.