Art by Samuel McEwen
Alex Cameron is the real deal. His every move seems dictated around his effort to remain true to himself whilst navigating the labyrinth of show business. You’d better recognise him as one part of Sydney electronic trio Seekae, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. And I only mentioned it to get your attention.
If you’re looking to check Cameron’s legitimacy on whether or not he is the ‘real deal’, take a look look at his 90s geocities themed website which opens nonsensically: ‘This website full blown I spend so much goddam time on it you need to pay attention to what’s happening or it’ll just slip through your fingers what a waste of time.’
The website is a grand performance, being apart of Cameron’s construction of his comical, rigid persona that he embodies on stage.
“Hell I’m more comfortable on stage than I am at a dinner table or on the couch. Don’t get me started on the couch. What a piece of junk Yank invention. My heart never beats right sitting on a couch cause it knows that I’m wasting my goddamn time.”
Cameron’s never on the couch; he’s always pushing the boundaries as a performer by keeping his guard up, from website, to stage, to social media presence. Over the phone his voice is honest and invested, all while figuring out if I’m a pretentious Arts student loaded with questions on gender politics and Seekae’s next release. Hope he didn’t realise the truth.
“I wasn’t very good at school, I wasn’t that talented at learning systems, I was more fascinated by my imagination. I liked the school, I played a lot of basketball. Three games on the weekend, four training sessions during the week, it was good training. Kept me occupied.”
A Scots College alumni, Cameron stands out from the gold plate Vaucluse white-boy in the uncanny nature of his art, likely influenced by his time spent in the country.
“I grew up in the New England area in a town called Deepwater, so I would spend big portions of the year up there until I was about 15. It influenced the way I see the things, the way I see nature and understand the law of the world.”
In 2013, Cameron released an 8-track EP titled Jumping the Shark, available as a free download on his website. Few labels were introduced in the record, and it wasn’t until after the online release that local Australian group Siberia Records (Midnight Juggernauts, Kirin J Callinan) caught on to Cameron’s unique sound and produced some vinyl copies. This record was long in the making, crafted not to perfection but to honesty.
“I realised I had something I could get behind fully. I’ve got a record I can put a show on. And that was when the concept came to it, because they’re all talking about one thing. I can create a world where the characters can come to life, and potentially I can tour this around the world.”
And that’s what he did. Earlier this year, Cameron and business partner/saxophonist Roy Molloy embarked on a US national tour, blazing a trail in a jet black cadillac as openers for Californian indie rock group Foxygen.
“I gave Roy some money for a car because I wasn’t there yet, and he picked me up at the airport in this black Cadillac—and I was laughing. I said pick us up something nice, pick us up a good American car…”
The previous year, around the same time, the duo journeyed to Austin to explore SXSW, busking and documenting their experience in a wonderfully bizarre documentary available on the Alex Cameron website. The video offers an existential reflection on the role of artists at the festival, and more broadly it presents a neo-noir depiction of Texas, aesthetically and poetically representing Cameron’s feelings towards the USA.
“The culture over there is very welcoming and they like to be entertained, they like rock and roll, I think they want to see the concert for different reasons.”
By that same token, one goes to see an Alex Cameron for different reasons than the common indie rock show. The audience instantly falls victim to his confidence and swagger, muttering sly quips at their expense and sharing reflections on the origins of his lyrical creativity. Then it’s to the business. Cameron’s behaviour on stage recalls Nick Cave with a streak of autism; a personality that exists in a universe isolated from twitchy dance moves, apprehensive stage banter and general self consciousness. But Cameron isn’t in his own world on stage, he’s a part of the venue mood. He’s canned the anxiety, and exercises his ability to make this show something real.
“My focus is always on the flow of the set. I try to find where I want the climax to be in terms of song placement, and energy in terms of which songs I’m going to push hard on and which songs I’m going to let the lyrics do the talking… It’s a matter of finding some reason to spark celebration, y’know. If I’m feeling terrible it’s good to find a way to celebrate that.”
Alex and Roy performed last week at the Botany View Hotel on the eve of the King St Crawl, at which I had the pleasure of meeting the enigmatic showbusinessman. When asked how long until we see another record, he seemed at ease.
“I’m not really stressed about release yet, I wanna make sure I can just get something down. Yeah, I’m not stressed about perfect either, I just want it to be true, y’know. I’ll wait for that to happen. Let’s just take it nice and easy.”
Jumping the Shark explores a community of washed up entertainers, obsessive romantics, and laughably fallible individuals. Cameron earnestly explored the darker corners of his creativity with the narrational capability of an aged, delusional bushman. I sincerely encourage you to see Mr. Cameron perform, for he provides a service of glamour and professionalism unlike any current local artist.