I had the chance to catch up with Melbourne singer/songwriter Alexander Biggs, following his recent show with Angie McMahon at the Adelaide Uni Bar. We talked about his recent EP Whatever Helps You Sleep, his recent trip to the UK to play at The Great Escape festival, and his recent tour with Aussie legend, Amy Shark.
Your new EP Whatever Helps You Sleep has recently been released, how are you feeling about that?
It feels good to have a new batch of little songs out. Making the songs and recording them is one thing, but it’s really rewarding when you have a collected bunch of them. It’s kind of like the feeling of making a playlist of what you really love at the time and burning them on a disk for your friend, except your friend is yourself. It feels good to have them all together, and they’re better than on their own, and in the future it will be really nostalgic.
What is your favourite track from your new record, and why?
I don’t think I could choose a favourite. They all have their own little personalities and place. Regina Spektor said once that it’s like picking favourites with you children. BUT if I had to pick some highlights, it would be Death Bed, and its warm sounds and close piano, the outro of Dog Boy for its catharsis, and the bridge of Close Enough for its sonic palette and story within a story. That’s at the moment, though. It’ll probably change next week.
What did you do differently on Whatever Helps You Sleep compared to your previous record Still You Sharpen Your Teeth?
I guess I gave more of a constructive fuck. That’s not to say I didn’t give a fuck making Teeth, it’s just that the fucks manifested as doubts and fears and that just kind of held me back, kind of like not committing to a ten metre dive just after you jump. I kinda botched the entry there. With Whatever Helps You Sleep I made sure my effort went into making sure the sound was what I wanted. I think I’m getting closer to making the songs and the sounds I’d want to listen to.
What is your favourite track to play live, and why?
My guilty pleasure is playing new songs. It feels good to play them because I’m most excited about new songs. I guess I kind of do that for myself, because people probably want to hear the songs they know. I try to tone back on new songs these days, just one or two. So during the Amy Shark Tour, and the Angie McMahon show, it was this song Wonderful You which might never come out. Who knows.
You released a music video for Figure It Out last year, are you thinking of making any more music videos soon? If so, can you tell me a bit about them?
Yeah, it’s on my mind. I felt a little dumb acting for a while so I took a break, but now I’m really excited and have some ideas I’m working on. I can’t talk too much about it this early in the process, but I’m working on it as we speak!
You’ve recently done two national tours, one with Amy Shark, and one with Angie McMahon, what were some of the highlights from those tours? How did you end up on those tours?
Well, Amy’s team approached me for her shows, which came to fruition a few months after Amy had reached out through Instagram to say she loved Figure It Out so it was nice knowing that I was on a tour where the artist had a proactive engagement with my music, especially considering the huge gap between where we both are, her being huge and me being not very huge.
The Angie show actually came about when I realised I couldn’t attend Angie’s show at The Forum because I was on tour with Amy, so my manager Sabi figured we’d reach out to Angie to see if I could jump on the Adelaide leg. A show with Angie McMahon and Leif Vollebekk is a pretty big highlight, I love their songs so much - I would have played for free.
Another highlight was playing The Forum, being in there when it was empty, staring up at the features in awe, and then stepping out to a 2000-ish-strong crowd.
You went to the UK earlier this year, what exactly were you doing over there, and what were the highlights of the trip?
I headed to the UK to play The Great Escape, a festival held in Brighton. On top of that I played two shows in London as well. Highlights were meeting great people, and hanging out with my Australian friends. Oh, and the museum in London.
How did you originally get into music, and what made you want to be a musician?
I got into music through learning piano when I was a kid, but I got into emotive music when I was a teen listening to emo anthems, and I got into songwriting when I studied a BA in Music Industry.
I guess it’s always been a strong interest. If I find something like that, I obsess over it, and get really deep in it. The general direction changes, but the dream stays pretty constant. I probably wanted to be My Chemical Romance or Mozart when I was a kid.
Which artists inspire your songwriting, and why?
Too many to name! I really like Elliot Smith for his imagery, DIY work ethic, and thought into the craft of a song. His music is so beautiful and honest, and where it’s not a direct account of his life, I’m sure there’s still a little bit of him in it.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
A Randy Newman collaboration would be pretty great. He’s a wiz.
Where has been your favourite place to tour so far, and why?
I really like playing shows in my hometown, Melbourne. Aside from that, Sydney is becoming more home to me now. Brighton was great for its narrow streets, pretty church venue, and pebbley beach.
If you could tour anywhere in the world, where would you like to go, and why?
I’d love to tour the US, as well as Scandinavia, Berlin. If anyone wants me to head anywhere, let me know!
Keep up to date with what Alexander Biggs is up to by following him on social media, or via his website. Check out his new EP Whatever Helps You Sleep, which is available for purchase, or stream it on Spotify. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this incredibly talented young man.