Only a year ago Alex Cameron was playing to empty rooms with empty pockets. Fast forward 12 months and he is selling out shows across the world.
This Tuesday Cameron – or Al Cam – as he refers to himself on social media, will be back in Vancouver. Performing at Imperial he will be showcasing his new LP Forced Witness, a collection of upbeat songs offering a take on modern romance with a twist of tragic comedy.
The Sydney-based maverick is difficult to miss. His iconic slicked-back blond hair, along with tight-fitting jeans and unmistakeable outlandish dance moves, stand him apart from other male solo artists. So does his faithful wingman, the equally long-haired Roy Molloy, whose saxophone adds extra colour to Cameron’s boisterous melodies.
Cameron is renowned for his unique stage act, in which he has often adopted the persona of a failed entertainer. À la David Bowie, the Australian sees the stage as somewhere to express himself but also a place for letting his audience become comfortable expressing themselves too.
“You’ve got to give people the opportunity to dance themselves. Part of buying tickets to a music show is conceding that things might get a little weird,” says Cameron.
Al Cam is conscious of his role as a performer and as a narrator for other people’s stories.
“Part of our job is to make everyone feel comfortable and willing to express themselves because that’s part of the entertainment. It’s about making the most of the opportunity to be animalistic or to be a mother***er.”
Cameron’s second album Forced Witness was released in September and follows his first effort Jumping the Shark, released in 2013.
Both albums are unique but Forced Witness is noticeably more optimistic. Cameron explains that things have changed since 2013 and his sound will never be the same album to album.
“My records are always going to be different – at least periods of time are going to be different. People change a lot in three years and so should the music.”
Undoubtedly, songs like Runnin’ Outta Luck, Candy May and Politics of Love are more upbeat than darker, soul-searching numbers Internet and Mongrel on Jumping the Shark.
Indeed, Forced Witness has seen a number of high-profile collaborations. Stranger’s Kiss is a duet with American singer-songwriter Angel Olsen while the promiscuous Runnin’ Outta Luck was co-written with Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. The two have formed an unexpected professional and personal relationship.
Cameron, who has been touring with The Killers, speaks highly of Flowers and his influence on the album. Cameron also helped write The Killers new record Wonderful Wonderful.
“Having Brandon on board and having his knowledge and skills has been really eye-opening and educational. He’s a powerful mind when it comes to songwriting,” says Cameron. “For whatever reason, we clicked. I count him as a really good friend and someone who I have no problem going to for song-writing advice.”
As for the future? Cameron is focussing on the present for now and says he will never tire of endlessly touring or being away from his native Australia.
“There’s no short of entertainment. There’s a lot of shit going on in this world to read about…everyone tapped into some kind of storyline,” says Cameron.
Who knows what the next year holds for Cameron as more people fall in love with his eccentric dance moves and lavish locks. Of course, having good tunes helps too.
“I just think they’re so much work to be done – I don’t anticipate that I’ll be able to get it all done in my lifetime, I’m just trying to get as much done as possible,” says Cameron.
“It’s the wild ride of life that keep me going – there’s no boredom here.”