Alex Brenchley chats with us about his newest album, ‘Chapter Street’, as well as his inspirations for both his music and his blossoming career as a cartoonist.
Q: First of all, how are you doing in this kinda-pandemic-kinda-not situation?
I’m OK thanks! Mostly just going day by day at the moment due to my health issues but just focusing on my health and my family and friends until I’m full strength for more work stuff!
Q: So you’re a cartoonist as well as being an incredible new talent in the music industry. How do you manage to juggle two completely different careers?
Ha, I think I’ve been making it over-complicated by treating them as separate endeavours. I had a sort of epiphany recently that they all work together as part of a larger whole and I’ve been trying to embody this attitude with my recent live performances.
Q: You won the Mayor of London award in 2019 for your wonderful debut album ‘Daylight Snobbery’ – congrats! It really is an award-winning album, the first of many I hope. You happen to have another album coming out in April. Can you tell me anything about what to expect when this is released?
Thank you!! My new album is called ‘Chapter Street’, named after the street I look out onto on a daily basis when working. I’ve tried to make this my most cohesive and accessible album in terms of sound, whilst also looking to hone my love for lyricism and poetry. It covers a lot of topics on being an adult, such as the burden of your creative heroes, acceptance of who you truly are, the joys/difficulties of living in London, and fear of retirement.
Q: Random question here but: if you could perform alongside any artist or band (alive or dead) in front of a live audience, who would you choose and why?
I could have a different answer on any day of the week! Today, I would love to do something collaborative with Anna Meredith. I think our styles are so different but we’d be able to bring out something pretty full-on and unique, hopefully funny and emotional. I would suggest someone closer to home like Calvin Johnson or Ivor Cutler but I think we’d clash as I’d be trying to operate in a space that they just own outright.
Q: You mentioned on stage the other week about your ongoing battle with bowel cancer, which was a truly inspirational and intriguing story to hear. How do you think this experience has affected your outlook on your career, on your life and on performing as a whole?
It’s definitely impossible for this not to have affected me, and will continue to affect me in ways I haven’t yet learned. It’s at least temporarily affected my career by physically stopping me being able to do many live performances (I’m just about to have hopefully my last bit of major surgery). On an atomic level it really has just helped me appreciate the basics. I’ve only performed once since my diagnosis and I was determined above all to drink it in, enjoy it and send out the best possible vibes and the best possible version of me. I think it’s helped me define what I want to do as an artist, I just want to get all the hospital stuff out the way now so I can get on and do it!!
Q: What message would you like to put out there for anyone questioning whether to take the plunge into the career of their dreams – be it becoming a cartoonist or learning to be an A-star tree surgeon?
The obvious: do it!! And believe that you are living the dream from the second you make that decision to pursue it… once you start training to be a tree surgeon then you are *already* living your dream, it’s just you forgot to write that prologue into the dream when you imagined it.
Q: You also mentioned you being inspired by your son, Ren, to create certain pieces of music. What does he think about his dad being such a popular music artist? (p.s. Hi Ren!).
Ren says hi back! Like any self-respecting 5 year old he’s a brutally honest critic. He’s the first to say “that needs some work, dad” when he hears a new song. I haven’t taken to him to a performance for a while, the last time he was there he started heckling me!
Q: You were the introducing act for Tom Rosenthal at Lafayette in London in early February this year. What has it been like to work alongside him, and do you plan on doing any personal tours in the coming years?
It’s never really ‘work’ alongside Tom, always pure joy and fun. If anything, I’m working hard to make sure I’m not a pre-performance distraction! I have one more bout of surgery coming up but once I have recovered I fully intend to get as many live performances going as I can!
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time, be it career-wise or personally?
My oncologist told me last month that if I have 5 years without any cancer recurrence then my chances of getting it again drop dramatically. That’s obviously my main hope right now, primarily to enjoy the close friends and family that I worship even more since the diagnosis. Career-wise, I’d just like to do more; more live performances, more cartoons, graphic novels & paintings, more music and writing. If I can make a living doing such a variety of things I’d consider myself the luckiest human alive!
Follow Alex on Instagram – @lankybrenchley
Listen to Alex on Spotify – Spotify
Have another look at Alex’s cartoons here – Cartoon Webpage
Photo by @siddkhajuria