On The Record: Alexander Carson

Welcome to Unrecorded! For those who haven’t come across Alexander Carson before, how would you describe your sound?

Imagine Robert Smith (the Cure) and Chopin wrestling in the nude at the foothills of the acropolis, I am the soundtrack to that encounter.

You recently released ‘I Swam’, which is a very delicate track full of emotion. What was the songwriting process like for this track?

I’m desperate to under-think my song-writing. I spent a good majority of my youth worrying that what I wrote wasn’t “clever” enough (the danger of a classical background is you inadvertently become a snob). I Swam is the embodiment of that desire to move away from over-thought, over-wrought, over-cooked writing. It’s just 2 chords. And those 2 chords allow a lot of melody to exist. Lyrically it’s about my wife, who I’m obsessed with, and have been for nearly 12 years. But like all good goths I can only process love in the context of loss. So the track is about the fear of losing those we love and how’s it best to exist completely in the moment.

What is it that you’d like listeners to take away from the experience of ‘I Swam’?

That they are hearing honest, genuine, emotion. Art is utterly and entirely subjective so whether someone likes something or not is arbitrary in my opinion. The only objective element that can be judged is whether something is honest. I believe whole-heartedly that this one of the most honest pieces of work I’ve ever created.

You cite one of the influences for the song as French composer Erik Satie. Is it important to your work to raise the awareness of classical and neo-classical music?

Truthfully, not really. I think these classical composers occupy enough artistic space without anyone championing them. Specifically the Satie pieces that are the inspiration for “I Swam” (his suite of Gymnopedies) as I think they’re probably his most popular work. I suppose my one desire is that people look further than these popular pieces, as Satie’s Ogives are great for instance but often overlooked.

Do you think that people are more open to classical sounds these days? Or does the genre still have some obstacles to overcome there?

I think there can be a ‘seriousness’ to classical music which I have no time for. It can appear as if it is reserved for rich, white, upper class, elderly folk – whereas I believe it should be part of a varied musical diet for all people. “Classical” as a genre is incredibly broad and usually covers everything from Bach (1600s) to Satie (early 1900s) so I think that’s worth remembering. Whenever people say they don’t like “Classical” music they probably just haven’t heard enough, so it’s easy to write off.

Who are some of the other composers that inspire you?

Benjamin Clementine for his unwavering honesty and integrity. Rufus Waingwright for his wit and heart. Billie Holiday for her raw vulnerability and how that became her power. Frederic Chopin for his gloomy gothic sensibilities and his virtuosic flare.

For any budding songwriters or composers out there, what’s your top piece of advice for them?

Don’t be a dickhead. (feel free to edit that if you’re not allowed vulgarities)
But truthfully that’s the best bit of advice I can give you. There is always someone more talented and younger in the wings ready to take your place. If you’re difficult to work with, you won’t last long in this industry. Once you’re selling out stadiums you can afford an over-inflated ego (but even then I wouldn’t advise it) when you’re on the way up, move with love and kindness.

Final question, what other exciting plans do you have for this year?

I’ll have another singled called “Algorithm” out in the Summer (Aug 23rd)

My album “The Idiot” comes out Oct 21st and I’ll be doing a UK tour around this time. Currently confirmed:

Oct 23 – Leeds Oporto
Oct 24 – London the Waiting Room
Oct 25 – Brighton Folklore Rooms
Oct 30 – Norwich Arts Centre

And there are more UK dates to come in November and December. I’m also planning on some continental dates with my booking team in Portugal, Spain, France and Germany in 2023. So I’m hoping to be out on the road a lot over the next year or so. One of the most exciting things about making music for me is sharing it with people in real life.

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