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Christian Alexander
Christian AlexanderPhotography Mikey Massey

Christian Alexander is a tender bedroom songwriter who’s slowly growing up

The Lancashire artist writes lo-fi songs from his small town, and was handpicked by BROCKHAMPTON to tour with them before the pandemic hit

Christian Alexander’s new EP is titled Growing Up. It’s something that the 22-year-old singer-songwriter says is an ongoing process. “I’m still kind of growing up,” he explains. 

Living outside Preston, Lancashire and writing songs at home, Alexander’s music is the sound of suburban youth in 2020: anxiety and alienation set to tender bedroom pop. His previous two projects captured very specific times and places, titled Summer ’17 and Summer ’19 respectively; these caught the attention of Kevin Abstract, founding member of BROCKHAMPTON, who fell in love with Alexander’s music, describing the British singer as “my favourite artist in the world right now”. He invited Alexander to be the main support on BROCKHAMPTON’s European tour this summer, although those plans had to be put on hold until next year following the pandemic. “When Kevin first showed appreciation of what I do, that was crazy,” Alexander says. “These types of things slowly make you more confident.”

Did you have any posters on your bedroom wall growing up?

Christian Alexander: No, I didn’t really. I have posters in my bedroom now though, and I’m still kind of growing up, so that kind of counts. I have a Pulp Fiction poster and some Kanye and Frank Ocean too. And the Beatles, of course. I remember getting to a point in my life and seeing other kids putting up posters and it made me ask myself, “Who is it that inspires me? Who is it that I want to see everyday?”

What was school like for you?

Christian Alexander: School was pretty good. I wouldn’t say I was particularly good, but definitely wasn’t bad. I just kind of drifted through high school, sang some songs, missed some homework, failed some exams. I was drifting quite a lot. When I realised that I could sing and write songs, I thought, “Oh, I do music now,” even if I didn’t really know what to do with it at the time. I actually dropped out of my first course at college then spent a year waiting to get onto a music production course. When I arrived, there were a few weirdos and no young people – it gave me an excuse to focus rather than socialise.

How did growing up in Preston influence your relationship with music?

Christian Alexander: I guess it made music more singular for me, more of a personal thing, for the most part. I didn’t surround myself with anyone into other kinds of music, so I was just finding new stuff on my own. I had no idea if there was any kind of music scene in Preston. It’s a small town – little activity, except the weekend visitors on a night out – so you had to find music yourself.

What sort of music would play around the house growing up? Has that had an impact on the music you make today?

Christian Alexander: My brothers would play a lot of acoustic songs, singer-songwriter – I grew up with that, which definitely has shaped part of my style. I started to listen to a lot of rap when I hit my teens, that also has definitely impacted me. I first heard Frank Ocean’s “Lost” on the radio; I remember hearing the DJ talk about how good his voice was, it made me sit up and listen properly, and that led to Channel Orange and BlondeBlonde was the pinnacle at the time. Someone had set the standard. It was inspiring.

“I had no idea if there was any kind of music scene in Preston. It’s a small town – little activity, except the weekend visitors on a night out – so you had to find music yourself” – Christian Alexander

Are you the main character in your songs?

Christian Alexander: For both projects (’17 and ’19), I’m talking from my perspective, but recently I’ve been trying new things. I like to sing about things impacting me personally. It was the only real way I had to express myself – it was my form of escapism. Everything comes from me, but I’m starting to let other elements in and take me away from myself. I like that John and Paul used to sing songs about love then they ended up singing about a walrus. 

You’ve released two projects, Summer ’17 and Summer ’19. What do you think Summer ’20 would sound like, given everything that’s happening in the world right now?

Christian Alexander: I don’t think my music would change too much, but rather it would be a body of work that people can escape into. Everyone knows what’s happening in the world right now, and obviously music and world events are so connected – but for me, what I do is escapism. I’m just making music to be somewhere else for a bit.

What can you tell us about the music you’ve been writing recently?

Christian Alexander: It’s more collaborative. I’m working with other people on different things for the first time, and it feels cool. What I’m making now is amplified by everything that’s going on. I’m living and breathing music.

What lyric are you most proud of?

Christian Alexander: “I see no point, trying again. I lost my friends, like I had them.” It’s a lyric from Summer ’17, one of the first that I wrote for the project. 

You’re going to be on Brockhampton’s rescheduled tour next year. Would you say you were more excited, or more nervous about it?

Christian Alexander: I’m definitely more excited. Nervous too, though. That seems so far away though. I’m just tryna make sure that I surround myself with the right people and work hard, so when I’m on the stage I have heat to give.

What fictional character do you most relate to?

Christian Alexander: Right now, Clancy from The Midnight Gospel. I don’t normally watch too much animation, but this really worked for me. Not sure if you’ve seen it, but Clancy has a universe simulator in the shape of a pear, and it’s basically his way of escaping the real world and avoiding his responsibilities. It’s so hard.

What was the last song that made you cry?

Christian Alexander: I think one of my own, a song that I made recently. “Sucker Punch” from my latest release was a song I wrote that really helped me get through some things. I listened to it on repeat for a couple of days.