If you haven’t yet heard the name Alex Gardner, don’t worry… .you soon will. With coveted support slots for the likes of Paolo Nutini, Mika and Paloma Faith already firmly under his belt, this 18-year-old from Edinburgh is on a fast track to success.
If you were to ask most 18-year-olds about their musical heroes, they probably wouldn’t be able to name any artists that were around before 1980, but Alex reels off a veritable who’s who of old-school legends such as Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. Marvin Gaye stands out for him at the moment, but he laughs, “If you ask me again tomorrow, I’ll say something completely different. My mp3 player has a bit of everything on it – from Mos Def and Kanye to Sinatra”
Born into a musical family, he says he never felt any pressure to be a musician. “I just always had music around me as a kid. I’m a 90s child, but I had all these different influences from different ages floating around and that kind of rubs off on you”.
As far as inspiring contemporary acts go, his response is immediate, “Miike Snow”, he says with no hesitation, “they are just amazing. I’d love to go on tour with them.”
His rapid rise is in no small part thanks to Brian Higgins, director of Xenomania, the songwriting and production team behind a multitude of hit songs from Cher, Pet Shop Boys and the vast majority of Girls Aloud’s output.
It was only a year and a half ago that Alex went on a failed audition to join a band in London. “It was weird”, he remembers, “I looked around and I was ten years younger than anyone else. They all had haircuts and these real fashionable clothes. I turned up in jeans and a t-shirt. I didn’t get it”. Despite not being asked to join the unnamed band, the audition was a turning point in Alex’s career. “A couple of days later, I got a call saying that I didn’t get in the band, but that a guy named Brian Higgins had been there and wanted to see me again”.
Eighteen short months later and Alex is signed to Higgin’s Xenomania label and is nearing completion of his debut album. Despite the fact that Xenomania have a proven track record for writing hits, he says he’s not interested in just being handed a fully-formed song to perform. “Obviously, I know how amazing Xenomania are at what they do, and what a privilege it is for me to work with them, but one thing I insisted upon at the beginning was being a co-writer on this album. I know I’m only 18, but I still have a story to tell. Some of the songs on the album use recycled lyrics from songs I wrote when I was 13.”