Gay Times October 09 - Issue 373
The full frank fashion interview! Online Exclusive *snaps fingers*
So let’s start with this red outfit
More from Gay Times October 09 - Issue 373
It was designed by Aiden Anderson, I met her through my friend Bishi and she’s really instinctive in terms of – I wanted to look like a warrior. To step out of some kind of place of the past, my outfits have been described as camp and flamboyant and I wanted it to be more tough. The outfit that’s tough and still has passion. So I went to a lot of sex shops and bought lots of skin head boots and… wanted to make an outfit out of it.
Do you think when journalists use words like ‘camp’ and ‘flamboyant’ they’re basically…
Saying gay? Yeah. It’s boring.
It’s basically homophobic – using the stigma of being camp to have a go at you
Yeah because they can’t actually discuss what the image is or music. I find it really irritating that the use of flamboyant – my music isn’t flamboyant it has strings and I have costumes designer through haute couture, flamboyance is excessive amounts of cliche
Well, someone like Steps
Exactly, I’m not camp I’m quite dark, intense and sometimes I think people’s vision when they don’t know gay culture or gay art, gay history, then camp is generally anything manly or masculine, so they white wash camp over everything. Anyway my look for this album was to be more masculine, I’m getting older – I’ve gone from being a little boy to having a house. The thing is the next album is about sex and romance, so I dread to think where it will go next
Well it doesn’t sound like it's at odds with the boots
NO! No exactly, I think it's going to be gentlemanly, this is quite an aggressive, single ‘I want my way now, everything now’ way.
One of the things about your recent press imagery is there’s a Peter Pan feel to it; in terms of lots of green, the bow and arrow...
It’s just about fighting but not fighting with people in terms of GI Joe, more like war in a primal sense, bows and arrows and a lot of the sounds on the album, instrumentation I chose was glass instruments, sounds really crazy there are 2 glass instruments in the world. Aiden works really well with ethnic materials – sounds really boring – but everything is really cheap and really sturdy and hardwearing as if you’re going to war and I kinda felt like that, my third album I fought for and still feel like I’m fighting for and doing my first round of proper gay press is really important to me. It’s interesting how I’ve gone to do a lot of gay press and then a lot of doors shut down; Q magazine, Mojo, Jools Holland, all these things it’s very different, suddenly there’s a different – maybe it’s the image or my history but there’s this idea I’m a real renegade now but I’m happy to do that, but still I’m fighting to subvert the mainstream
I guess part of that is that Magic Position came across as a pop record – atleast it was your most accessible, so maybe that built up an expectation that you would go further down that route.
I don’t think I could’ve done that. I thought the whole idea was to do the pop thing, you have an audience and then you give them something really intense to follow up with, educate them. Ha…
It takes a long time. One of my favourite bands is Pulp, took them 18 years to reach Different Class, their definitive pop album and then they tried to do something different… well that was it really
Yeah yeah that’s my favourite album. Its strange people want the same again and again.
How’s the new album going?
I guess it’s another pop album. But all about love between two men, which I think is a perspective that’s not been covered very well by a singer songwriter. A proper decent 2009 gay love. Love songs that aren’t maybe, it doesn’t even, like with joni Mitchell – when you listen to a love song by Joni Mitchel it’s a love song you don’t listen to the he/she or if its male or female a good love song is a good love song and so hopefully the general public have come far enough to hear a he and a he together in a decent singer song writer context and be able to experience it in the same way that I listen to a woman singing about a heterosexual relationship.
Yeah I mean this whole idea of gay music is completely absurd, but you can identify certain hi-NRG sounds, even though it’s not about being gay
Its about celebration, having fun, party, it’s a lifestyle. But in terms of like literature, gay vernacular, what’s been said lyrically it was really sad for me – Rufus Wainwright I don’t listen to his music much, but when I was younger he wasn’t around so looking back at Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, all these songs from the last years have nobody telling you in song about your experience, what you want to feel, do feel, throughout your life.
There’s a really great compilation by Jon Savage called Queer Noises you should check it out, it totally covers that.
I want to be able to talk about sex on this record without having to be smutty, getting older and less smutty
In what way?
I dunno, try and be a bit more graceful
You don’t come across as very smutty. But then I do love that you have all the s&m style stage outfits. For me personally, I used to have my dressing up clothes and my day clothes and they’ve gradually merged into just my wardrobe
Yeah me too, when I was about 15-16 I realised that I had school uniform and I hate my clothes, and I used to hate what I had to wear at school so I would customise what I had to wear and manipulate it, through my hair or shoes or the bags or whatever, a statement of defiance against boringness, normality, you know? So then later on I decided I wasn’t going to have any boring clothes in my wardrobe because then I wouldn’t have the excuse of just going to the shops and putting on my tracksuit, if there’s not tracksuit there I’m just gonna have to wear like hotpants and if there are no shoes im going to have to wear rollerskates, youknowwhatimean? Just something and it’s a statement of liberation, actively liberating yourself by dressing the way you feel, not the way you think you should dress.
So don’t have any ‘comfortable’ clothes?
I do, if I’ve eaten too much food I have big t-shirts that go down to my knees from Sheperds Bush market with 2pacs face on it and stuff like that, and then I have disguise outfits for days off. Like in Canada we were doing a tour and I wanted to go to a theme park, so I got a disguise outfit on and I had to get inspiration from watching Britney spears in national enquirer, so I had a Britney spears trucker hat, aviator shades, I thought I was doing my straight trucker look but THEN I got there and everyone was like ‘oh look its Patrick wolf!’ I don’t know why perhaps they went to the show the night before and I had to hug people and sign autographs, I can’t win. I think whatever you wear your personality shines through.
Have you ever looked up to some else other than Britney to go for a look?
Yeah. This at the moment is a mixture of Greatest Hits V2 madonna and what it feels like for a girl
I have to be honest, I’m not *that* up on my Madonna
I don’t blame you, William my boyfriend is a really big Madonna fan and its crept into my world over the last 2 years very slowly and I’m going though a bit of a – I’ve been called a misogynist recently, I called somebody a bitch onstage and on youtube. It’s rocknroll, its not talking about feminism you’re onstage. I suddenly thought I need to channel more of a feminine phase for the rest of the year, because the shows have been getting really aggressive and my violinist cant take it anymore and I hate the though of upsetting her. I used to hang out in punk clubs and moshing and staying out for 2 days and then go to an art gallery or launch. Too much aggression in my roots. What is shocking to some people is really conservative for me.
How’s your modelling going?
This year, maybe it’s the recession, magazines are asking musicians ‘hey do you wanna model clothes in a fashion magazine’? and its like – you cant afford a model. But I’ve been doing a few for the international press recently and I have to do a lot of photoshoots and people go so overboard, six racks of clothes, wonderful outfits, lots of costume changes lots of hair and make up and I’m like a Barbie doll, I don’t mind I sit there. And behind the make up artist is going “mek ‘im more mask-u-leen”(translation: Make Him More Masculine) and im like do whatever you want, make your fantasy on me, ill be your canvas. I’m like, this isn’t extreme enough for me, more more more. I think that’s why everyone asks me, it’s a fun thing to do. When I’m not on tour, on the road, recording I’d much rather be doing that, otherwise id be sat at home watching property ladder.
It’s a funny image
I watched it last night actually. I want to meet Sarah Beeny. She’s my fashion inspiration, she’s my lifestyle inspiration
Have you got this flat recently?
Its rented but I want Sarah Beeny to come round and talk about it. I really really really want to meet her. I’ve tried twittering her a few times, and then I twitter Kirsty Alsop and she twitters about 500 twitters a day
It’s a full time job
I know it really is, I can’t cope with it. But Sarah Beeny is on my hitlist of people I want to meet, she’s number one at the moment.
Enough Beeny, we’re hear to talk fashion. When I showed this picture to our designer he said ‘oh, is he wearing a cod piece?’
I do have to wear a leather jock strap under all my outfits. I’ve got two and I had to buy them in small, not that I am, in order to cup everything in – it is like a codpiece basically, because designers don’t think about people with big willies and if its dangling about, bit of camel toe and I’ve had many photos in my time before I thought about this, buying sexy underwear…
It’s basically a bra
It’s a bra for your balls and willy. Onstage I do this [leans back and sticks his groin out] I stretch out like that and that’s a bad image, there are some really shocking things – I wore these really scary hotpants, a Romanian designer, at a TV awards thing at the roundhouse and I couldn’t find my jockstrap anywhere and I needed it to cup everything in and its got to be a leather jockstrap aswell because its like a codpiece yeah it cups it all in
Why does it have to be leather?
Because it shapes it, otherwise it all bulges out
That’s not a problem I have
But I like to wear tight trousers as well, so onstage everyone is trying to get the right angle. You go online and there’s the most horrendous… I’ve got this new gold lame jumpsuit genie outfit, I’m trying to usher in a new golden era for the rest of the year and this gold lame slipped down so you could see the back of my jockstrap and the top of my bum. The cameraman would go into it – all the other bands were straight up, grizzly bear, live streamed from the festival and they basically put the camera on my bum the whole time, zooming in, it is Holland so they are gonna pick up on these things. You know on the bum where its sagging down, its like eurotrash going in and in again to comedy music...
Is there a dedicated site like Peaches?
She’s a real inspiration, at the royal festival hall, she was amazing. She’s all about the circle of shame, I love that. Leigh bowery, all those kind of people taught me when I was younger, or his people, the whole idea of embarrassment, what other people thought was embarrassing was not at all.
We yabber on for quite a while, just before he styles me in one of his outfits. The End.
Words: Bob Henderson