Jimmie Walker is actually quite funny

Alex Lloyd’s Beautiful Music

Sometimes, when you do an interview, the best part of the interview takes place after the actual interview is over.

I met Alex Lloyd in a busy restaurant where he happened to be conducting all of the press regarding his new single Beautiful. Although we were able to overcome most of the ambient diner noise by huddling in the far corner, this happened to be the corner closest to gum trees that a flock of cockatoos decided to approach in a screeching frenzy somewhere towards the end of our chat. Despite them, we had a pretty good natter, after which we continued an informal discussion mostly off mic.

What happened was that I had noticed that all of the songs on Alex Lloyd’s albums were credited to ‘A Wasiliev’. I put it to the singer-songwriter that ‘Alex Wasiliev’ was in fact his real name. (More effective – in a kind of ‘cold war operative’ kind of way – would have been the name ‘Alexis Wasiliev’.) Turns out that ‘Wasiliev’ is the surname of Alex’s dad, a writer, and ‘Lloyd’ was the surname of his mother, an artist. Sadly, Alex’s mother passed away when Alex was a teenager. But his adoption of her surname is not merely a tribute: there is more to it than that. In Alex’s words, “as a writer, I have my father’s surname, ‘Wasiliev’, and as an artist, I have my mother’s surname, ‘Lloyd’.” A great anecdote. Adding to it was the comment that Alex and his dad didn’t always see eye-to-eye, that they are in contact more frequently now than they were earlier on, and the birth of Alex’s son Jake has brought Alex and his dad closer together.

Had I been on the ball, I would have ensured all of this was ‘on mic’; it would have brought not just a greater depth to the story, but more polish and style to its execution – developing the theme of songwriting and artistry, and ending, as it began, with talk of Alex’s son, Jake. However, as it stands, the conversation that was captured despite diners and cockatoos is still informative, and although it was broadcast a few weeks ago now, I present it here in honour of the national tour Alex Lloyd will commence on Friday 28 May.

Before I let you read the transcript, I’d like to point out the frequent presence in Alex’s music of what sounds like backwards guitar and percussion (you can spot them because, forwards, guitar notes and drum beats begin suddently and fade out gradually; backwards, they fade in gradually and stop suddenly). Lloyd is a self-confessed Beatles fan, particularly of their later, studio-based work (backwards guitars started appearing with songs like ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, from Revolver, and backwards percussion, onStrawberry Fields Forever). When I talk to him again, I will bring this up.

Music: ‘Beautiful’ – Alex Lloyd, from the album Distant Light and the ‘Beautiful’ single.

Demetrius Romeo: Alex, when your son was born recently you said that you wouldn’t be writing songs specifically from the ‘new dad’ point of view, but your new single ‘Beautiful’ seems to fit the bill perfectly. Was the presence of young Jake something that influenced that song as the choice for the new single?

ALEX LLOYD: No, not really. I’d always fancied ‘Beautiful’s chances of being a single. I kind of leave the decision of what’s going to be a single up to the record company, or at least, I have up to this point, but yes, it is very apt. You’re correct on that, that it just so happens that my little boy was born.

Music: ‘Beautiful’ – Alex Lloyd, from the album Distant Light and the ‘Beautiful’ single.

Demetrius Romeo: I notice with all your singles that there’s always a wealth of bonus tracks. Do you have a mammoth backlog of songs, or do you just write them all the time?

ALEX LLOYD: Well, with this particular single I really wanted to… I mean, they are sort of ‘throw together’ tunes, but I wanted to give something more than just a version of a song I did on radio or something like that, because, with Watching Angels Mend I did a lot of that – using those sort of songs as B-sides – because I didn’t have enough time. But I recently took a few months off and I just got creative and I had a few surplus songs so I thought, it’s about time I did a good singles package. I mean, they’re not cheap, are they? And you want to give people value for money.

Music: ‘What’s Wrong?’ – Alex Lloyd, from the album Distant Light

Demetrius Romeo: When you perform a show, is it hard to chose what songs will make up an Alex Lloyd set?

ALEX LLOYD: I can sort of play it by ear. I try to put as much variety into it as I can and just try to create a set that flows really nicely, and I thought it would be easier having three albums under my belt, but it’s actually making it harder because it’s like, ‘which ones do I leave out?’ or ‘which ones do I leave in?’ and there are people who come to the shows because you have three albums who are bigger fans of a specific album rather than another album, and if you don’t play their song, you kind of feel as though you’ve ripped them off.

Demetrius Romeo: That must be a bit of an issue at the moment, considering that Watching Angels Mend went double platinum and the new album, Distant Light is just getting to platinum now, even though it went gold in its first week of release. Does that pose a problem when playing to an audience?

ALEX LLOYD: When I tour a new album, I try not to just do the new album. I probably put half of a new album into a set. I don’t think sets should be too long, either. I think they should be a certain length that you expect people to stand around and watch a show. So I guess I just try to rotate it – if I didn’t get to play it the first night, maybe I’ll play it the second night. It’s luck of the draw, really.

Music: ‘Coming Home’ – Alex Lloyd, from the album Distant Light.

Demetrius Romeo: As an artist, how does it feel knowing that the last work has done so well and that you’ve got to come to the block again and start anew with the new one?

ALEX LLOYD: I try not to take that kind of stuff into the studio. You can’t help but some days think, ‘oh, is this any good?’ and go through moments of self-doubt. I think every artist would do that. I really try to make every album a new experience, if you know what I mean, and try to challenge myself as well, so I have plenty to think about; I don’t have to dwell on whether it’s gonna be as successful as the last one.

Music: ‘America’ – Alex Lloyd, from the album Distant Light.

Demetrius Romeo: I notice that all of your album titles have a ‘heavenly’ or ‘etherial’ angle to them: Black The Sun, Watching Angels Mend and Distant Light. Where are you coming from with your albums?

ALEX LLOYD: To be honest with you, all of them have been song titles from my albums. They’re kind of the songs that I feel sum up the albums best. In fact, one of the new b-sides on the ‘Beautiful’ single is a song called ‘Travelogue’ and I almost wish that I got it on the album because I know that it’s not the kind of song that I’m gonna do for my next record because I’ve already started writing that, so I had to use it. I think it sums up the record best, ‘Travelogue’, because essentially that’s what it is: it’s a travel diary. So, Distant Light, for better or worse, is a kind of a journey.

Music: ‘Travelogue’ – Alex Lloyd, from the ‘Beautiful’ single.

Demetrius Romeo: Alex Lloyd, thank you.

ALEX LLOYD: Thank you.

Music: ‘Travelogue’ – Alex Lloyd, from the ‘Beautiful’ single.

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