Interview

We went round to Alex Cameron’s Brooklyn HQ

A comprehensive tour of the Cameron and Molloy Associates nerve centre

A skip and a hop from the IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn, you can find the office of Cameron & Molloy Associates. This is the studio where Alex Cameron works and hangs with his saxophonist and business partner Roy Molloy. It’s also where he recorded his new album, Oxy Music, the first album he’s fully written and recorded in New York. That wasn’t the plan when he moved in there or so years ago, but a hell of a lot has happened since, and here we are in 2022, with Cameron eagerly releasing a new record and trepidatiously anticipating a new tour as Covid refuses to recede.

This album was written and recorded during the pandemic, but it’s not a pandemic record. Alex Cameron albums tackle themes, and Oxy Music takes on opioid addiction. Inspired by the very real crisis facing millions and Nico Walker’s excellent novel Cherry, Cameron’s newest songs catalog the lived experience of substance abuse and their impact on human relationships. Whether he’s singing about filling prescriptions or navigating K-holes, he renders the impact of addiction in tangible, moving fashion.

Cameron is always careful not to speak for people in the circumstances he sings about. He clarifies that he is not necessarily an authority or a role model when it comes to the subject area of his songs. “But I will say that I think the record as a whole, what I wanted to do was give an indication that anyone who’s experiencing addiction, or alcohol or substance abuse problems, it’s much like puberty,” he says. “You go through it, it happens to you. You want it to be something that happened, that doesn’t exist anymore, but you’re left with elements from the experience that will never leave you. It’s something you have to learn to live with and grow out of, as opposed [to something] to put behind you and destroy.”

To write Oxy Music, Cameron pulled inspiration from the space and the objects around him. He equipped his studio with his favourite gear and stocked it with artistic grist for the mill. He and Roy Molloy gave me an exclusive tour of his studio and the objets that inspired his new album. His “office” is a testament to the way creativity feeds itself, yielding better ideas and better music at every turn.

Prophet synths

The Prophet synth is my favorite synth, so we have two Prophets here. I love the Rev 2 because I managed to get in touch with a guy in Germany who programmed all the original Prophet 5 sounds, so it operates basically as an original Prophet-5. And the LinnDrum, my favorite drum machine – I was able to get my hands on one for the first time during Covid.

Some very impressive suits

I have two favorite pieces of clothing. One is Frank Sinatra’s smoking scarf, which isn’t here – I’ve put it somewhere much safer. And this is Dennis Hopper’s suit. I wear the shit out of it. I figure if it’s going to be Dennis Hopper’s suit, you should just wear it. John Richmond made it. It doesn’t really fit me, but I still wear it. 

Roy Molloy: You’ve got this knack as well, Al, that even when a suit doesn’t fit you, it kind of does and doesn’t.

Yeah, I think that’s kind of my style, to wear clothes that don’t really fit.

These belts are just gifts. I don’t think I’ve literally handed over money for clothes in so long. I kind of have a rule with clothes and tattoos – it’s better if someone else makes the decision for you.

Greer Lankton masks

This is a Greer Lankton doll mask, which is really important. Greer Lankton is one of my favorite visual artists, [her] work hugely informed all the aspects of Miami Memory.

Alan Vega collection

I’m a big Suicide fan, as I imagine anyone who likes music is. This is an Alan Vega book that was given to us by Henry Rollins. It’s a collection of his poetry and lyrics and sketches, there weren’t many made. Henry asked me to be on his radio show when Miami Memory came out, so we went to LA and he took me to his house and showed me his massive collection of old demos and collector’s items, essentially. This Alan Vega book was a gift he gave me, that I chose of all the things he said I could have.

NBA 2K21, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and assorted games and DVDs

Most of this stuff comes from tour, whether we’ve got a Playstation in the van or Nintendo or something. Roy is quite a prolific streamer. [Ed note: find Alex and Roy on Twitch, streaming as CameronMolloyAssociates].

RM: I’ve got a Playstation at home. We took years and years off of gaming when we were trying to build a business. Then we got Miami Memory done and bought a Playstation.

It was like a decade of no gaming and then we said, “When we get this album finished, we’re going to get a Playstation.” We went to Best Buy and bought all the shit.

Minalta camera

I started taking pictures when I was a kid. They taught me how to use a dark room when I was 13 years old. This is a Minalta. We have hundreds and hundreds of Polaroids and travel with a bunch of different cameras, whether they’re instant photos or prints from film reels or digital.

Singing and Dancing for Money

This is important – it’s a DVD of a movie we made called Singing and Dancing for Money. We had a bunch of these. It’s a really good movie! It’s on our Patreon.

Roy Molloy and a rugby ball

We watch Rugby League avidly, every single game of a round on a weekend, and there’s probably 10 or eight games a weekend. I just watched the Ashes. And this is important – I always try to have a Hi-Bounce ball. When I found these in Australia I was really happy, and then I finally found one here in a pharmacy.

RM: We try not to throw the ball around too much. The Hi-Bounce ball obviously [is fine] but I had to stop throwing the footy around because eventually I was going to break something.

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