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After Years & Years, the time has come for Olly Alexander's solo reign

After Years & Years, the time has come for Olly Alexander's solo reign

Olly Alexander
Sarah Louise Bennett

"I'm trying to fool people into thinking I'm a brand-new artist," Olly Alexander tells Out. "Like I haven't been around for 10 years."

As of 2024, Olly Alexander is just getting started with his solo career under his own name after years of being attached to Years & Years. Between his new single "Dizzy," an upcoming album, a waxwork figure at Madame Tussauds, and his performance representing the United Kingdom at the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, Alexander is breaking through and making waves with his solo career.

In an interview with Out, Alexander discusses his upcoming solo album, whether he's open to acting again following the massive success of his role on It's a Sin, and what fans can expect from him in the near future.

Keep scrolling to read Out's full interview with Olly Alexander.

Editor's note: this interview was conducted before Queers for Palestine's open letter calling for the United Kingdom and Olly Alexander to boycott Eurovision 2024 due to the event's decision to move forward with its inclusion of Israel.

Out: What went into the decision to rebrand from Years & Years to Olly Alexander?

Olly Alexander: Honestly, I wanted to do it for kind of a while, but I just didn't know when the right time would be. And I thought, 'This is the time to do it. It's now or never.' I'm coming back with a lot of new music, so it felt like it was time for me to start releasing under my own name.

Why did you choose "Dizzy" as the first song to release under your name?

The way things have worked out, with Eurovision, it was like, 'Okay, I've got new music ready, and the first song for my new album is going to be a song that goes to Eurovision.' I love the song, and I'm really happy it's going first. I feel like it's one of those quite like... it's a good indication of what the rest of the album sounds like and the direction I wanted to take with my new music. But I submitted a few songs to the Eurovision selection people, and "Dizzy" was the one that everybody kind of agreed was the song to go with it. So it kind of just followed on and that became my first single.

Olly Alexander

Sarah Louise Bennett

How has this transition period — from being identified as Years & Years to now using your own name — played out so far?

I'm still getting used to it. It still feels kind of new, which is really exciting. I made the decision to release all this music under my own name as I was kind of making the album a year or so ago, and it was a very liberating feeling. I love Years & Years, but it was just nice to feel like I was starting a new chapter.

But I'm still getting used to seeing my name on streaming platforms or a festival lineup, instead of Years & Years. It's like, 'Huh, that's really me.' It's kind of cool. It's nice. It makes me feel a little giddy. I'm trying to fool people into thinking I'm a brand-new artist. Like I haven't been around for 10 years [laughs].

That reminds me of when "Padam Padam" came out last year and became a global phenomenon. I was shocked by how many people weren't familiar with Kylie Minogue. Some people kept referring to her as if she were a brand-new artist.

Yeah, exactly. We're all just on a road of reinvention and discovery, no matter who you are. I'm welcoming you to the party, so it's fine.

Olly Alexander

Sarah Louise Bennett

We're facing a lot of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the U.S., and the U.K. is having its own problems as well. The whole world is experiencing this reckoning against our community. As a queer artist, how do you see this anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric that's playing out right now?

Timing is a funny thing. I'm so lucky, in so many ways, to have grown up in the U.K. and to be British. There are so many things I love about being British and the U.K. I am 33 years old now, so I've seen LGBTQ+ rights progress in my country, and then take steps backwards as well.

I think now, more than ever, we need people to be authentically themselves and live their truth. Not to sound too corny, but we do actually need that more than ever. For people to speak up. So, I'm just like, 'Okay, well, I have a really big platform now. I'm going to just be as gay as possible.'

As you've mentioned, "Dizzy" is the first song from your upcoming album. What's the status of that project?

I'm just basically finishing it up now. It's almost done, and I'll be looking to release it later this year.

Should we expect a second, and perhaps even third single, before the actual album is released?

Oh, yes. I'll definitely put something else out after Eurovision. Definitely at least one song, maybe two. And then, yeah, the album will be coming your way.

Olly Alexander

Universal Music

Is this new music a huge departure from what we know and love from Years & Years, or do you consider it similar? How do you think fans will react to it?

I don't think it's going to be a massive departure, to be honest. I think my identity as a songwriter is still kind of the same. But what was really amazing about making this album, I made it all with this producer, Danny L. Harle. I really love his work, and we both share a love of '80s music, like early Kylie Minogue pop music that's super emotional and joyful. So that was really my goal, to create an album that just really sat in that world. I love it. I'm really excited for people to hear it.

Besides your new music, you also had a very successful run on It's a Sin as an actor. Do you want to do more acting, or are you solely focused on music right now?

I'm focusing on music. I would love to do some acting at some point, for sure. I think that would be really fun, actually. You have to just wait for the right thing. But yes, I'm definitely going to get this album out and focus on music for the next little while. While I'm young, while I'm still young.

Olly Alexander

Corinne Cumming

You also got a waxwork figure at Madame Tussauds, which is kind of iconic. What was your reaction to seeing it?

It was a real honor, honestly, because they take such good care of everything. It takes a year to make one. All the artists and designers were just so lovely and created this amazing statue of me. It looked so much like me. It really scared me because it was surreal seeing myself and being like, 'Wow, why does it look so much like me? I can't believe it.' And seeing the way I look from behind, and from the side, and everything… I was just like, 'Wow, this is the most insane experience in my life.' But it was really amazing, too. It was quite the gag.

Most people I've spoken to say the same thing: that it's an out-of-body experience of seeing yourself as a waxwork figure. That it's kind of weird but also kind of lovely.

Yeah, it was bizarre. An out-of-body experience is very accurate. Just kind of like, 'Wow, this is insane. But very cool.'

I've read that you've been a fan of Eurovision since you were a kid, but we don't have a big tradition of watching Eurovision in the United States. How would you explain this event to people who aren't as familiar with it?

Eurovision is a song contest that takes place every year. It's been going since the 1950s. Traditionally, Eurovision is quite over the top. You see performances that you would just never see next to each other, all wrapped up in this very high stakes, high drama competition, week-long event. Every country sends an artist with a song, so you get just such a mixture of different genres and musical styles, all mixed together to make this really fab live music event.

Ever since I was a kid, I used to watch it on TV. People would have watch parties, and when I got a bit older, I would have watch parties with friends. It's just always been fun and joyful and it's had really iconic performers come out of it, like ABBA, Måneskin, Loreen, and Gina G. I don't know if you guys know who Gina G is, but it's just very cool to now be a part of this very special kind of legacy.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We hope your performance is great.

Thank you! People in the U.K. can't vote for their own country [on Eurovision], so I can't rely on the citizens of the U.K. I must employ the people of America to vote for me, please!

The live finale of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest — taking place Saturday, May 11 at 3 p.m. ET — will be streaming on Peacock. If you wish to participate and cast your vote, you can visit the contest's official website.

Olly Alexander

Sarah Louise Bennett

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Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.