Rex Orange County
Ses influences musicales multiples, ont permis à Rex Orange County de créer un univers pop très élégant, teinté de jazz, de soul et de hip hop.
Cet album, c’est du Rex Orange County à l’état pur : il a écrit, enregistré et interprété presque tout lui-même, dans les Studios Strongrooms à Shoreditch, dans l’est de Londres. Ben Baptie, son ingénieur, associé, producteur et coéquipier, est quasiment la seule autre personne impliquée – à l’exception du bassiste légendaire Pino Palladino sur le pétillant « Face to Face », et de la petite amie musicienne de Rex qui chante une phrase au milieu du sobre et sincère « Never Had The Balls ».
Rex Orange County veut plutôt vivre sa vie en musique. Etre libre d’emmener son spectacle empreint d’émotions sur les routes, et voir le public souriant, mais aussi ému aux larmes. Ce sera réel, vrai, de vraies montagnes russes.
Aged 18, he grew up on the outskirts of London in Haslemere, Surrey. Today his hometown acts as a retreat for when life in the capital gets too overwhelming. But while growing up, he wasn’t exactly surrounded by cultural hotspots. “Thank god for the Internet,” he sums up. As he grew older, music gradually took over his life. He always knew he’d shun the academic route (“the moment education becomes optional, I’m gonna take that different path”) and he only liked the teachers “who allowed me to be myself.” Being in a picturesque but culturally void town didn’t stop him from admiring fellow do-it-yourself producers Thundercat and Toro Y Moi, or falling in love with Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel ORANGE’. “If I could do anything close to that musically, then that’s it,” he beams.
It hasn’t taken long for Rex to find like-minded spirits. Through uploading ‘bcos u will never b free’ came connections to producers like Two Inch Punch and BadBadNotGood who got in touch after stumbling across Rex’s Bandcamp page. And none so perfect a collaborator came to the table than Tyler, the Creator who sent “the most illiterate email” to help reach out. “I couldn’t tell if it was definitely him. Was someone fucking with me? I was just not convinced.” After giving all his work to the internet it seemed to be returning the favour.
Pendulum-swinging between loved-up verses and rap refrains, Rex’s music refuses to be pigeonholed. “You don’t have to be perfectionist about stuff,” he claims. “Nothing has to be perfect. Why take it so seriously when anyone in the fucking world can make music? Make it obvious you did it.” If there’s one thing that defines his early material, it’s a personal stamp O’Connor applies at every opportunity. This is his personality epitomised, spilled out in multicolour.