Photography by Ryan Pfluger at Tribeca Journal Studio, New York, on September 15, 2015. Styling by Michael Cook. Groomer: Elaine Lynskey. Suit and shirt by Gucci.
If you, like many, have had energizing Years & Years tracks like “King” and “Real” stuck on repeat this year, then you’ve been reached by Olly Alexander, the British electro-pop trio’s 25-year-old frontman, who’s proved that an openly gay singer can lead a chart-topping act. Invigorated by the fact that queer visibility is growing fast worldwide, Alexander has poured his gay highs and heartaches into his music. “I write most of my songs after a guy’s trampled all over my heart,” he says, “but I also like dancing to really loud music, and having sex.” Alexander saw Years & Years’ first album, Communion, debut at number 1 in the U.K. this summer, and its success is a heartening sign that popular art increasingly trumps an artist’s private life.
“I love performing music,” he says. “You get to construct your own personal slice of reality, be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to worry about whether you’re saying or doing the right thing.” Clearly, Alexander is doing all the right things.