One to watch: Rex Orange County

With fans including Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean, this British rising stars rich R& B pop is a tonic for our times

In 2016, when he was 18 years old, Surrey musician Alex O’Connor got a theme on SoundCloud from a new follower. That love happened to be Odd Future pioneer Tyler, the Creator, who wanted to fly O’Connor- known as Rex Orange County- out to LA to work on two songs for his latest album. Those racetracks- Foreword and Boredom- would become standouts on Tyler’s excellent 2017 specified Flower Boy, and since that “very special” collaboration, the still unsigned Rex Orange County has been hurriedly clambering the grades as a Next Big Thing, clocking up renditions with Skepta and Frank Ocean. His current, self-released single, Loving Is Easy, boasting Dutch artist Benny Sings, is a wintertime balm: all breezy and uplifting piano pa, surfaced with gorgeously smooth, quasi-R& B vocals.

How does he feel about his growing prestige?” I’m positive about it.[ People] come to the sees, it ever seems good so far, so I don’t really worry about that hitherto. It’s good to know that parties do wanna listen to it directly from me .”

That his music is” directly from” him is a Rex Orange County mark- strikingly candid melodics that are full of impassioned confidence and neurotic overthinking.” I’ve never been unpleasant sharing trash ,” O’Connor excuses.” It’s almost the opposite. I’ll say the most blunt, savagely honest circumstance about any statu. I won’t be the kind of artist speaking in riddles all the time- it will be texts that make sense the moment I say them .”

Indeed his lyricals are simple but potent. We sounds him grinding his mouth with stress, envisaging checking his phone in the societies of others in case a desire stake has texted, trying to cheer up his girlfriend when she’s had a bad era (” so I say something dumb as fuck and, luckily, it gives you a facelift “). His album, Apricot Princess – released earlier this year – openly celebrated his loved-up relationship with girlfriend and fellow creator Thea.” It was so natural ,” he supposes.” I don’t think I could have sung about much else, because I didn’t care about much else at the time .”

O’Connor attended the Brit school in south London( whose graduates include Adele and, more relevantly, King Krule ), where he started as a drummer. He remembers experiencing isolated playing in straps and decided to give has become a singer-songwriter a try.” It felt like being at the figurehead of the stage was better than being at the back ,” he laughs.

The call Rex Orange County stanch from a nickname an old teacher granted him,” the OC” after his initials, but there are elements of that Californian sunshine in his arrangements. O’Connor’s songs is fraught with rich instrumentation that scoots between bright, grandiose popping and inhibited, refined R& B, placing him in the same land as Frank Ocean and Tyler. He anticipates of the latter as the extroverted yin to his introverted yang.” We’re weirdly inspired by the same events ,” he says,” and I predict our music does similar events, but the opposite path around .”

He’s not troubled by comparisons with other artists.” I wear my musical centre on my sleeve and depict all my influences off. I’m happy for someone to point out that my sung sounds like someone else’s .”

Still, for all those similarities, there’s a wide-reaching pop scope to Rex Orange County’s sound and a forthrightness to his words that find genuinely exciting. A major bargain can’t be far off- though he reads it has to be the right one:” I’m quite stubborn, and it’s hard for me to let people in- whether that’s literally, musically, or with business and piece. Descriptions[ are] doing a big thought through investment in me, so they’re gonna want to get the best out of me: but what I think is the best out of me is what I think is the best out of me, and I don’t think I requirement seven other people to tell me that .”

Rex Orange County tours the UK in February

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