South Londoner Daniel Alexander has a sultry delivery and ear for production that might remind listeners of James Blake or Sampha, but he also has a clear voice and statements to make. On the heels of multiple captivating singles, The 405 spoke with Alexander about his upbringing, music, and how we need to be mindful of language in the age of Donald Trump.


What’s your background in life and in music?

Musically, I listened to all kinds of stuff growing my up. My mum was into pretty standard “mum stuff”: Fleetwood Mac, Gil-Scott Heron, jazz as well. My dad was into all sorts, Springsteen, Tom Waits. And then as a teenager, hip-hop, kind of rock, not so much heavy stuff, never really went there, but you know, the kind of usual stuff you do growing up, I suppose. Both my parents work in social care, my mum was a nurse, a mental health nurse, still is a mental health nurse. My dad works with people with learning difficulties. Neither of them are particularly musical but very fond of it nonetheless though. My granddad, he was a big jazzhead.

How did you find your voice as a performer?

Just like making beats, writing, singing a lot on a six-string, pretty traditional kind of songwriting, or not even not really songwriting, just fucking around and singing lyrics. Often, I’d just have loads of lyrics, and then I’d just sing them into a melody, and it always came pretty easily. But then I got some stuff to produce on a little bit when I got a little bit older, and I’d just make beats and try to sing kind of like, crowbar the two together, and it was kind of like, in learning to produce, I would make a beat or make a track, and then I’d have the mic next to me. I learned to sing from my chest, this weird thing that I can project from quite low down. It just felt good when I did that. So, I just started doing that and trying to channel - and I suppose this is what obviously music is -  trying to channel something that’s incommunicable just through words. You know when you’re pissed off where you’re upset? Even when you’re buzzing and you’re in a good place, just like that, pushing it out just felt really normal, natural and where I should be. I kind of learned to grapple with my vocals like that.

You formerly played bass in the band Breton. What inspired you to go solo?

When you love someone and they don’t really love you back, there’s not a lot you can do, and a number of other things. I wanted to say what I wanted to say and being part of a five-piece didn’t afford that, and I just made the decision. Sometimes, you just gotta make a decision that’s not necessarily easy but you know it’s the right one to make.

Are all these songs completely solo or are you collaborating with other musicians?

They’ve all been solo, yeah. Live, it’s just me and Nick [Searle] on drums. Very recently we’ve been fucking around together, which has been fun.

On songs such ‘DOUBLEGLAZEGAZEDOWN’ and videos like the one for ‘ATOM EYESD.’ You have really strong political statements. How do your beliefs inform your music?

What do you think those statements are?

Just about how society might be a little bit in the dark about things going on, about problems. That’s what I noticed, at least.

That’s interesting. I believe that if you have a platform where you have someone’s ears for three minutes, there’s an element of responsibility there, and so, if you can, pull someone close and let them know that you feel it too and you see it too, and if somehow that’s comfort in any way or resonates in any way, that’s something I believe is very important. My beliefs, I don’t know what I believe [laughs]. I just despair, I suppose like a lot of people and believe that people are fundamentally good. I believe that we’re at the most important pivotal moment within history since the Second World War and who sees which way we’re coming out of this? I can’t, personally, see which way it’s gonna go. It’s gonna go one way or the other within two decades, whenever, you know? I’m not talking apocalypse, but I’m saying, it’s not sustainable, is it? So, it has to go one way. I believe that everyone sees that, really...So, let’s talk about it.

Do you want your music to be empowering for people when they listen to it?

If that’s what they take from it, then power to them, absolutely. The authorship isn’t entirely on me. However someone else takes it, that’s equally as valid and that is what it is. If that’s what it does for you, then cool.

Do you ever worry about possibly alienating people who might like your music but maybe they are a little bit turned off by your message or disagree with you?

Nah, there’s plenty of other stuff they can listen to.

The end of one of your tracks, ‘the moments u had but were never at’, there’s an audio of people chanting “We gonna be alright” from the Kendrick Lamar song. Since you have kind of a hip-hop influence on your music, would you want to collaborator with any rappers?

Kate Tempest, I think is one of the people who I sympathize with musically, big time, these days, and I think she’s amazing, incredible, incredible rapper. Denzel Curry, he goes hard, CASisDEAD, AZ, or André 3000 or Killer Mike maybe.

Your single, ‘Separatehood’ was produced by Andy Savours who’s worked with My Bloody Valentine and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Do you intend to work with him further?

Yeah, I’d love to. I’ve done another one with him, actually. I’m gonna finish that soon. He’s a good person and that was cool working with him, because lots of them, most of them, all of them, produced them in my bedroom. Writing them’s a bit isolating, and he has a much more traditional form of doing it, which is cool, kind of like wrapping my head around the project being able to be that as well as be what it was previously has been interesting. I’m digging it, man. Working with him has been illuminating.

Whose idea was it to record the song live?

That was his idea. I vibe it, man. It’s always a different energy when you got it live.

How much does living in London inform your songs?

A lot, actually. I’ve been thinking about this city a lot recently. I think it carries a really heavy, dark energy, and I don’t mean ‘dark’ in a negative way. The sounds here like the sirens and the particular sound of all kinds of life here, I think it’s had a massive influence on the way the music sounds.

Outside of music, how do you try to better the world?

Man, this is a question that we all gotta answer in some degree. I try and get down to demos as much as I can, and I donate to stuff, sign stuff, petitions etc. I always feel slightly fickle doing that, and I think that allows people to have the responsibility they feel placated just by clicking a button. At the same time, that is helping in some degrees. I try and raise awareness about things on my own platforms. I go to meetings about things, but I could always do more. Be good to people and love the people you can love around you. Really, that’s it.

Do you any imminent plans for a full-length album?

None imminent, but it’s definitely within sight. That’s what we’re working towards. I’m excited actually, ‘cause I’m kind of just like getting ideas together and sketches and stuff. As to when that’ll be, it’s still be decided.

Is there anything else you’d like to say or mention?

I think as Trumpism has demonstrated in people [in the United States], language and the words we used to refer to things is so powerful, and it’s actually all-powerful in that it gives the things power. You know, the rebranding of disagreeable news to the Trump administration as “fake news.” It’s awful and abhorrent and heinous, but kind of genius in a propagandistic sense. The Alt-Right became palatable again, because they were no longer the Far-Right and they weren’t the KKK. Now, they’re the ‘Alt-Right’. So, we have to change our language in the way that we refer to these structures that keep fucking with us.