Years & Years Talks 'King', Ariana Grande And More
On top of the band's sound is singer Olly Alexander, whose emotive vibrato and passionate delivery can recall such synth-pop legends as Andy Bell of Erasure and Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat.
Alexander turned to music after cutting his teeth in the world of acting, both in movies (Enter the Void) and television (Skins, Penny Dreadful) before making a full-time commitment to music.
Years & Years quickly became a phenomenon in Britain, culminating earlier this year with the band winning the prestigious BBC Sound of 2015 poll, positioning them as the next band to watch (previous winners include Sam Smith, HAIM and Ellie Goulding).
The singer was charming and open during a recent phone interview with Radio.com, frank in his assessment of the band's burgeoning status in America and how they found themselves to be cast as the music world's next big thing.
Radio.com: Congratulations on the success of 'King" --what was it like watching that happen?
Olly Alexander: I guess it was'surprising. We were all very shocked and to be honest, I think it was so surreal to have such a big hit. Running up to it, every day there was some new, crazy thing that was happening and the song was getting bigger and bigger. They told us it definitely wouldn't make it to No. 1 but then it did. It was like being in some strange dream land. The craziness has exponentially grown.
Radio.com: In a good way, hopefully?
Olly: Oh, yeah. I feel like the best thing is that we're getting to play more shows to more people with better time slots. We're not stuck playing at 11 a.m. on Sunday when we do festivals anymore. We have more fans getting in touch all the time, which is amazing. It's all still new for us, so it's still exciting.
Radio.com: You did an interview last year where you talked about how hard it was at the time making the band's debut album. Now that it's presumably finished with a title (Communion) and release date (July 10), are you happy with the final product?
Olly: We only just finished it last weekend. It still hasn't really sunk in yet. It's been exhausting, exhilarating--just so many emotions. Making a debut album for us has been kind of a challenge because we've had to do touring and promo and rehearsals and lots of other things at the same time. It's been a strange process, but it just feels like such an achievement.
Radio.com: Is there a song on the album that you're most proud of?
Olly: At the moment, the song I'm most proud of is one called 'Real." It's something we wrote about a year and a half ago, maybe a bit longer. It feels like the coming together of all these different influences. I think our sound kind of came together when we wrote that song, took on a whole new direction. It came together really quickly and yeah, I'm proud of that one.
Radio.com: You've made it pretty clear that you're a big fan of Ariana Grande, so I'm wondering if you've met her yet?
Olly: Not yet, but I feel like it will happen one day. I will probably be too nervous to speak to her. It will be great. She has this shiny, perfect quality that I find fascinating, and her music is great. She just seems'perfect, which is very interesting to someone who feels very imperfect. We're all human, but her veneer feels shinier than most.
Read the full interview here.
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