It’s been three years since your last record. What have you been up to?
Well I made the first record and the second was a continuation from that. I’ve just been touring incessantly like a maniac. I didn’t tour much at all with the first few records so I’ve had a lot of making up to do. I wanted to re-establish myself by travelling around and doing live shows. I started off playing small clubs in Asia and ended up filling arenas. I’m an artist that isn’t always guaranteed radio, so when I do it’s fucking great.
What is the concept of the new album Origin Of Love?
I didn’t write anything for this new record when I was touring. I knew I wanted to do something that was really fresh and revolutionary and I chose to remove all of the complexes about my subject matter. It took me a while to create that separation so that I could re-approach it as if I was almost a new artist.
Are there any particular places or countries where you prefer to write?
Away. When I first started out, a woman re-mortgaged her house to finance my first demos. She lived in Miami. It’s kind of similar with this record. I flew out to Montreal to work alongside Nick Littlemore from Empire Of The Sun and within hours of us chatting on the phone I’d booked my flight out there. I also write for other artists and, in pop music, a lot of people write purely with the target demographic in mind and not for themselves. I approach the studio with the attitude that we’ll be working together as a team and we’ll make music that we want to listen to.
Is it difficult to differentiate writing music for other artists and keeping hits for yourself?
I write under many different names, Alice is the one that has recently been leaked. Alice is now a trollop (laughs). I also write for different countries and writing under a diverse range of names helps me separate myself from it. I wrote a track on Madonna’s MDNA called Bang Bang, which she made her own and titled it Gang Bang. That became out of my hands and she definitely did that song justice. She re-invented it because she’s Madonna. The song is almost like a movie; it’s a mini concept and is cinematographic. My inspiration for the song was my grandfather and all of the old saying that he used to have: “Like a fish outta water, like a bat out of hell”.
What was the inspiration behind the new album?
Freedom. I wrote and recorded the album at the same time. It’s a liberated record. I didn’t want to write another record about cartoon characters or caricatures. It was a conscious effort to make it my most personal record yet.
With my other albums I would almost tell stories through characters and I became the narrator. I had to approach this album differently because it was from my point of view and everything reflects that, down to the album art.
Are you fashion conscious? How important is image to an artist’s career?
I’m not fashion conscious, no, but I am style conscious. I’d say I’m fashion weary. Style is essential and things that are fashion faux-pas one day will be the height of fashion a few years later. Throw caution to the wind when it comes to fashion but style is about integrity and awareness. You have to always be yourself.
Pharrell Williams lends vocals to the lead single Celebrate. How did the collaboration happen?
It happened by accident. He got my number from a friend of mine in Miami as he’d heard about this crazy, eclectic record I wanted to make. There are people on the record that aren’t even famous but they’re part of the process. My favourite tracks are the title track and a song called Love You When I’m Drunk.
You’ve been touring Europe and you’ve just announced new UK dates. What can we expect from the new shows?
Lots of music and lots of people on stage making music. It starts off in a living room and erupts into this huge carnival right in front of your eyes. It’s absolute theatre.
How do you feel about being a role model for the LGBT community?
I’m honoured if I am a role model. I’m true to myself and I’m respectful of my sexuality. I’m tolerant of sexuality in general and I think that comes from my upbringing. I’m a young gay man and I’m comfortable with that. I’m comfortable doing interviews and saying that I’m gay, I’m happy and I’ve done it all on my own terms.
Words: Shane Hawkins
Photography: Luc Coiffait