It’s been a big year for the candidly open Rex Orange County - aka Alex O’Connor - who’s passion and talent for music has propelled his soft spoken persona from the sleepy realms of Surrey to a foothold in the global music scene.
The turning point in O’Connor’s career came back in 2016, when the then 18 year old received a huge call up from Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator. Whilst Rex’s music transcends many wonderful things from breezy jazz to noughties R&B, the singer himself is keen to distance himself from rapping and as such was convinced that Tyler’s initial email was some kind of spam. Fortunately for us this wasn’t the case and Rex featured on two of the biggest hits from Tyler’s album Flower Boy - Foreword and Boredom - where his warm embrace of a voice somehow manages to cuddle its way onto the tracks abetted by the sprinkling of cool that oozes from Tyler. Whilst his often self-deprecating lyrics contrast to the ostentatious flair of Tyler, the duo seem to fit together like two sides of a jig-saw - something Rex attributes to reading the same inspirations in different ways.
Aside from this gargantuan collaboration, Rex has been busy recording a vast amount of singles and his latest album Princess Apricot so that he now has a discography that artists of a far superior age would envy. The diverse influencers on Rex range from Thundercat to Kaytranada to Frank Ocean and he draws potently from all of these into his own tenderly melodic style. His music is paired with lyrics impassioned from Rex’s teenage years that base themselves in very personal accounts of falling in love to the anxious ruminations that he hears inside his head. This honesty is both endearing and provides a rough around the edges charm to his sound.
This only comes across more personably on stage. I had the pleasure of seeing him live last month where his poppy groove and free-spoken lyrics only gained more heart when his girlfriend and fellow artist, Thea, came to join him on stage. It’s safe to say labels will be clambering over one another to pin down his refreshingly unabashed youthful take on growing up.
by: The Coos
photograph by: Nina Manandhar