Interview: Alexander Biggs talks navigating his way through The Great Escape and his first overseas trip

Melbourne’s Alexander Biggs is an artist we’ve been big supporters of for a while now – seeing how his profile rose exponentially off the back of his 2017 BIGSOUND appearance was a big air-punch, a triumphant step forward for the songwriter who has taken it in his stride. Following an impressive showcase at The Great Escape this year, we caught some of his time to find out how his first trip to the UK had treated him.

Alex, welcome to London! This is your first time over here?

Yeah; I’ve never been overseas before, this is my first time in a different country, well actually, my first time in a different country is Abu Dhabi I guess, because that’s the stop over. It’s great.

Well yeah, welcome to The Great Escape! It’s not your first showcasing festival, so you, I mean maybe you kind of know what you’re in for, depends on the sound.

I feel like I know what I’m in for just having done that show. Maybe I don’t… the crowd is so quiet and really respectful, and that was a bit unnerving. I wasn’t used to it.

You whipped out a few dad jokes in between.

Oh yeah, I love a good dad joke. Banter just keeps it going, you know, when you’ve got so many sad songs, I think it’s important make people laugh at your dumbness.

Yeah exactly, sets the mood for your, you know, often heart breaking songs. Well, I don’t know if your songs are heart breaking, but, certainly melancholic at times.

Yeah, for sure, definitely.

You’ve just been on the road with Alex the Astronaut and Stella Donnelly, both of whom are here as well, so a bit of a reunion after touring Australia, doing some shows with them over the last few weeks. What was that experience like?

It was really cool, like they’re both really lovely and down to earth, and that’s the kind of people I really like being with, like not to say that I’ve ever gigged with any wankers, I definitely haven’t…

Not on record anyways!

They are really awesome people and its really cool to watch their set and take pointers, see what they’re doing, and see how they survive these pretty gruelling showtimes. They’ve played shows so many nights in a row and learning from them, how much it can weigh you down, it’s a really good pointer for me being on tour.

And how you can not let that affect the set on the night, which is the most important part.

Even just things as like booking a day in between, because four shows to me with those guys is definitely the limit. No more after that. Just because, I don’t know, it becomes work after that.

Yeah, we don’t want that.

No, definitely not.

There’s enough early morning lobby calls.

Yeah, tell me about it.

But really, this is kind of really the start of that for you, jetting overseas, and kind of looking ahead to kind of quite a lot of touring in the months and years ahead.

Yeah, hopefully. It’s definitely what I want to do. That doesn’t make it not work sometimes, it definitely is work sometimes, and sometimes I don’t want to even do it.

When you say you don’t want to do it, you mean the touring aspect of it, or just any of it?

I just feel so lethargic, maybe that’s just my energy levels, I don’t know. Sometimes you just feel really disappointed having to play shows, and other times you feel really great. It’s definitely like 80% it feels awesome to play a show, so the other 20, maybe its like 40%… I don’t know. The other 40% is not that great, that is 120% great.

Well that means you’re giving 120% every show.

Yeah, I’m really good at math as well.

Which is why you’re a musician. You’ve been promoting the EP for a little bit now, and kind of playing songs off that; I imagine teasing new material as well?

Yeah, I played three songs [sort of] new in that set. It’s fun, like I write so frequently that I have to play new things. I’m really telling myself to come back to the old things because I know it’s what a lot of people know, especially playing in new crowds. I really force myself not to play too many new songs.

You can’t assume here most people don’t know any of it.

Definitely, I’ve already had a lot of people say, “God I came to hear this song, I came to hear that song,” and they’re like a couple years old. I just do it [for] the fact that people want to hear it, but yeah, if it was up to me I’d play the songs I wrote a couple weeks ago. You know?

Does that give you a chance to also test them out and see how they react, how the audience reacts, be someone who likes to do that?

I never consciously wrote test songs because I don’t really care what other people think about my songs. Maybe I should, I hear a lot of people are writing test songs… when I write tests it’s just seeing if I like it and if I like playing it enough, it will probably get thrown on the album or something.

You’ve got the same thing though, at the end of the day.

Yeah definitely.

Just looking at it from a different perspective I suppose.

I mean it sounds mean, but I guess I don’t give a fuck what people think about my songs, because it’s about whether I enjoy it or not. If I don’t enjoy it, then you’re not going to hear it anyway.

Yeah exactly, so, you’ve been working on new material, you’ve been writing a lot. What does that mean for the year ahead in terms of releases?

I’m so excited to put more things out. Just purely because it’s been a little while between drinks and uh, so that’s going to see the year being pretty full out. We’ve announced that Amy Shark tour.

Big shows in August, September.

Yeah, between that and putting a EP out, it seems like a pretty full year. I’d definitely like to start recording the next stuff as well. Between all that, I’m going to have my hands tied.

Do you think you will have new stuff out by the Amy Shark shows, is that kind of the goal?

I’m not sure how much I can say on that, but it can probably can achieved.

Yep. That’s the hope anyway.

If it was up to me it would all be out tomorrow, and then another two albums of B sides.

Are you really sitting on that much material?

I’d say so. I’m starting to do these recounts every month of songs I write, and I was looking through it the other day. I probably got, probably 50, 60 unreleased songs. Writing for this EP, I wrote, how many, about 27 songs or something and that got condensed down to seven, maybe even a bit more. And then during the EP and after the EP, I wrote just as much. I’ve got a fair amount.

Are you someone who can write anywhere, or do you need to have a certain setting for that?

I wouldn’t say I write it, but I can definitely be inspired everywhere, but writing is still, recently I’ve really enjoyed sitting down at the kitchen table in the morning before anyone’s up, because it’s like a really cool reverb in my kitchen. I shut the door, and that’s really the most inspiring so far.

That’s how everyone in your house is woken up!

Generally, yeah. I think that’s where I’ll tend to write a song if I do that. I sit down, most of the song, if not all of it is done.

During a trip like this, I mean this is your first time overseas, you talk about inspiration, there is often nothing more inspiring than getting to see the world and seeing how the other half of the globe live. Are you going to get to stick around a little bit after The Great Escape? I know you are doing The Aussie BBQ on Sunday in London as well.

Yeah and after that I’m just going to be a tourist, oh I’m doing some hubs over here, so writing with a bunch of UK folk and Aussie folk.

Have you ever done one of those before?

I’ve done a co-write, like a dedicated co-write, kind of weekend with my publisher. That’s been really fun. I’ve been doing some co-writes, like I’ve co-written a bit with Dustin Tebbutt lately, and so yeah, it’s going to be exciting, and I just want to have a holiday, so I’m going to go to Berlin and Dublin, it’s going to be fun.

If I go, even just on the fly without a guitar, it’s emotionally draining. Like it’s, I hate to reference it, but it’s kind of like a drug in that. I honestly feel like I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t play music in my 24 hours. It’s kind of a curse.

Do you enjoy watching it as well, are you going to get to check out some stuff while you’re here?

Yeah, I like watching it but, I’m just so hands on man, it’s probably really insufferable. I want to play music more than I listen to it, but then there’s some artists I’m really obsessing over that I really want see like Phoebe Bridgers, I think her album is incredible, and Halle Hendrix as well, she’d be really great to see.They’re people who I don’t think have come to Australia yet, so I definitely want to not miss that opportunity.

Catch Alexander Biggs on tour with Amy Shark in Australia this August and September. Stay up to date with him at www.alexanderbiggs.com.

August 24th | HQ Complex, ADELAIDE
August 25th | Metropolis, FREMANTLE
August 31st | The Forum, MELBOURNE
September 1st | Enmore Theatre, SYDNEY
September 7th | The Tivoli, BRISBANE
September 8th | The NightQuarter, GOLD COAST