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Interview: Alex Cameron Talks 'Miami Memory' & Returning To New Zealand

Interview: Alex Cameron Talks 'Miami Memory' & Returning To New Zealand

A.K. / Interview by Morgan Leary / Tuesday 18th February, 2020 10:17AM

Boundary-pushing Aussie pop-rocker Alex Cameron, his prized saxophonist and business partner Roy Molloy and the rest of the Al Cam band make their way back to New Zealand this March for a two-stop North Island tour. Last here in 2018 for a stonking Kings Arms headline show and support slot for The Killers, this time around Cameron is basking in the glow of his latest album – the raw and romantic Miami Memory. With less than a month to go before his visit, we linked up Tāmaki Makaurau musician and film-maker Morgan Leary (Cindy, Kathy Bates Motel) to have a chat to Cameron about storytelling, collaborating with partner Jemima Kirke (Girls), and writing 'Stepdad' about his relationship with her children. Scroll downwards for the full convo and note the upcoming tour details here...

Undertheradar proudly presents...

Alex Cameron
Friday 13th March - Meow, Wellington 
Saturday 14th March - Tuning Fork, Auckland (all ages)
Tickets available via 

Morgan Leary: The sense of character and story in your work is prevalent across your work. Would I be right in saying that Miami Memory follows suit with that, or is there a departure you want to tell me about?

Alex Cameron: I think in some songs it’s definitely more personal than I have done in the past. There are definitely elements on Miami Memory which are far more personal than I’ve ever done, but there’s still character work in there, there’s still story-telling. I’m kind of reaching a certain point in my creative life where for me it doesn’t really matter.

Your relationship with your regular collaborators like Roy and Holiday (Sidewinder), can you tell me about the importance of having your regular team with you?

Miami Memory is the first album I’ve done with the band that I tour with. We became really close. When someone like Henri Lindström our drummer, or Justin Nijssen our guitarist and bass player, and especially Roy Molloy who is my oldest friend that I’ve known since I was 5 years old – when people work with you on tour, I like to think that while we’re a close family. Touring is work, but recording is really the joy of it and the magic of it. So I like to say "you guys are committed to touring, but if you feel like it or want to do it, I'd love to reward you with work in the studio." Which is fun and creative and where people really get to explore their talent as musicians. It's like me saying "thank you" to them for all their work on tour, me and Roy really appreciate you working so hard and we’d love to fly you out to Los Angeles and we can put an album together and have some fun. It’s like us saying thank you to them.

I love that, I feel closer to some of my bandmates than I do with my own blood family.

Sure! I mean we’re talking about spending a lot of time with these people… we did a tour last year that was three months straight in a van. We did sixty shows in those three months, so there wasn’t a lot of time off. We were close by the end of that run to the point where sometimes it can get tense and other times it can get really emotional, but either way we are very supportive of each other. I do feel in many ways you become sort of related to people in your band.

Speaking of touring, how do you find returning to play Australasian crowds after slogging it out internationally on the bus?

I really like coming back to Australia. I live in New York now, me and Roy both live in New York, it’s where a lot of our work is, it’s where my girlfriend is and her family. But last time we came to Australia I did night club shows, and New Zealand as well and it was a lot of fun and playing in Australia especially, it’s definitely got that home-town vibe to it. It’s really special. We’re still relatively new to New Zealand we’ve probably played between 5 - 10 [shows] there total over the past four years, we’re fresh little daisies over there. We’re still winning New Zealand over but the crowds are awesome. Really vocal, great singers and a lot of movement. There's great culture down there, they’re hilarious people – it’s brilliant.

I don’t know if you remember any Big Day Outs, I think you and I are the same age… have you ever played or attended any of the Big Day Outs?

I went to a Big Day Out in 2005. I think when I was in high school and then I played the Big Day Out I think in 2009 or 2010, when I was just sort of starting bands around then.

I was looking back at some footage of one the other day and I think it’s Limp Bizkit performing and the crowds are so savage! I don’t know whether the times have changed but I just feel like contemporary festivals are more mild-mannered.

I suppose they are! I don’t have any experience of Big Day Out except from way back, but when I went in high school it was – no joke – 41 Degrees when I attended. I remember just being so thirsty that we were eating watermelon, because it was cheaper than water. They had a watermelon stand and we bought a whole watermelon and sat down and just ate it. I just remember it being stinking hot, it was out in Homebush in Sydney which is a hot part of the city out west. Most of the festivals we play are out in Europe and the European culture is very different to Australia. Our music as well, its up-tempo and people dance and sometimes they crowd surf and stuff like that, but we certainly haven’t experienced much rowdiness. It’s so rare that we get violence. I think other bands may get more than we do, but I’m very fond of the people who buy tickets to our shows because they tend to be good people.

Like any self-respecting millennial, I follow both you and your partner Jemima on Instagram... can you tell me about how you inform each others work?

We work a lot together, we both have studios in the same building in New York. Jemima’s painting and writing and shooting a lot and I’m writing music. I think that my first introduction to Jemima was through her painting and I was immediately struck by it and slowly became obsessed with it. Her portrait work for me is just out of this world, it’s so fantastic and there’s so much to discover? When you look at her paintings, the way she paints… she’s done women in their wedding dresses after their marriages – after the divorces – and she’s also done incredible portraits of children and young people. I just love the way she studies the form, the posture and captures expression. I think the best I can do with Jemima’s painting is just encourage her. We have collaborated on video clips and she supports me with my song writing emotionally and she critiques my work for me, I get a lot of constructive criticism.

I think we just share a passion for wanting to track and record our existence. We’re both fascinated with creating artefacts and memories of what it has been like to be human in this day and age. I think we’re tied together, there’s a tether that connects us. That tether wants to pass a thread from our time into the future, so that people years from now that can get an understanding of what it is like and what it was like for us to be around and we want to improve. We’re both obsessed with our skillsets and we wanna get better and better at what we do.

Can do you tell me about the song 'Stepdad'?

I wanted that song to be something that ideally Jemima’s children could listen to maybe 10 - 15 years from now when they’re adults. Regardless what happens to me and regardless of how they see me, I just want them to know that I care a lot and that I want to be more than just their stereotypical step-parent. I want to be someone they can trust and someone that they can talk to no matter what. Ideally, I’d like to be their friend.

I think that’s all the time that we have, Thank you so much!

Thank you! Hopefully I'll see you at a show down there!


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