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      Rex Orange County in Dallas

      • Rex Orange County Photo #1
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      February 21, 2020

      Friday   8:00 PM

      2713 Canton Street
      Dallas, Texas 75226

      Rex Orange County

      I dont want to do anything else with my life. This is the perfect job. Im also aware thatits brutal, and thats where the pressure comes from I know that people need to love itfor this to continue Rex Orange County, March 2019I had a think about my oldest friends, now I no longer hang with them/and I cant wait tobe home again/I had a year that nearly sent me off the edge/I feel like a five I cantpretend/but if I get my shit together, this year maybe Ill be a 10 10/10, September 2019For a minute there, Rex Orange County felt like a five. Halfway there. Semi-satisfied. A demiquaver short of happiness.At first the young singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wasnt entirely sure why. Hisdebut album, bcos u will never b free, self-released on Soundcloud when he was barely 18and just arrived in London, caught a wave of interest. Its lo-fi textures and hi-def emotionsled to a hook up with Tyler, The Creator. He asked the teenager born Alex OConnor to cometo Los Angeles, where he wrote and sang on two tracks on the album that became FlowerBoy.Inspired, Rex turned to making his own album proper, 2017s Apricot Princess, a beautiful,woozy, heart-shaped tribute to his girlfriend. A Number Two slot on the BBCs Sound Of 2018followed, as did lots and lots of touring.All good, right?Well.I put the last album out and let it go out there, begins the thoughtful, reflective musician."I just let it be. My main priority in all this is to play live. I really thrive on stage; I must cravethat type of my attention. Its the one thing I really desire in my life. Not even the writing ofthe songs does the same thing for me.So I spent a year touring, and experimenting a bit I worked with some other producers andit was a really valuable lesson: I learnt that I didnt want to do that.He also learned that all wasnt well in his professional world.I was feeling quite suppressed in my work. I really did have a bad year, he says, noddingtowards a key lyric at the top of his new album, in first track and just-released first single10/10.That song is purely autobiographical and it is definitely true. I dont want to go into thedetails, but Id been in a tunnel that was very dark. Then, writing that song, the lyrics camequickly, and I came out of the tunnel and I finally felt I could look at the future in a positive way. Its definitely not a love song, or even an anti-love song. Its just anti- anyone whos evertried to bring you down and put you in a bad place.But heres the genius bit: 10/10 isnt snarky, embittered, angry-sounding. In Rex OrangeCountys glorious new single and album curtain-raiser there is positivity and uplift, even astheres a bite and edge to the lyrics. He has, in fact, alchemised some real shit into melodicgold. Once again, hes scoring full marks in the emotional stakes.I had a plan to make it sound positive and happy and open. And it was also definitely goingto be the first song on the album, from the moment we made it. Its meant to summarise allthe songs: this is what happened, and this is where Im at now. Then track two onwards is mejust explaining each layer.This is the set-up, the framework, for an all-round wonderful album that Rex is calling Pony.Firstly I love the word and how it looks, he explains of the title. But its found its way intohaving some relevance. The idea that a young version of a grown thing has a name as wellBut with the album cover just showing my face, the idea is: this is me when I was a youngman, and thats what I really looked like, and that whats I felt like. I felt like a young horse, ina way! he says cheerfully.Pony is both simple and smart: five songs laying open the troubles that beset Rex over thelast year or so, then five tracks teeing up how he turned things round. Or, as he puts it: Thefirst half to me is the angry, reflective thing. And the second half is: now Ive gotten over it.That meant there was no room for New House, the brilliant surprise single he dropped earlierthis year.I feel like that song is too negative to go on the album. I was in quite a bad phase from theend of last year to February, so it was worth saying and putting it out there: Im still in lovebut Im unhappy for these other reasonsPlus, he smiles, I like a ten-song album.This is the ROC nation: he wrote, recorded and played almost everything himself, inStrongrooms Studios in Shoreditch, east London. Ben Baptie, his engineer, producing partnerand wingman, is pretty much the only other person involved apart from legendary bassplayer Pino Palladino on the sparkling Face To Face, and Rexs musician girlfriend singing aline in the middle of the pithily candid Never Had The Balls.Face To Face blooms with kaleidoscopic, multi-tracked vocals and an energetic spring in itsstep. Its ambition set a benchmark for Rex and Baptie when they began work in May 2018.We made Face To Face quite early on. It sounds quite similar to how it does now, but it wassurprising to both of us to have something that was so much more expansive, just sonicallyrich.He was pleased at this turn of events and inspired. Ben and I realised that we were going tohave to raise the bar to this level. That is a cornerstone song for the album, and so is 10/10.Alongside girlfriend Thea, Never Had The Balls also features pizzicato strings, birds tweetingand a cracking fuzzy guitar solo. I really wanted to get Albert Hammond Jr or Rivers Cuomoto do it, admits Rex. I emailed them both but neither of them were able to. So I did it. Imnot really a guitar player, but it was worth it.The subject matter is reflecting on the fact that I was lost, he continues, but Im back now.Its very much in the present looking at the past. At the end its saying: I am the man if yourelooking for a positive time, because I am better.And those birds are tweeting because the skies have cleared somewhat? Rex sucks deep onhis cigarette and nods from within his hoodie.And where it comes in the album, its meant to be that turning point at midway. Id like tothink every song after that is me saying: now Im settled and looking at the good things in mylife.That closing run of songs includes the Randy Newman-esque Everyway, a classic piano ballad,and It Gets Better, glowing with strings and beats. Both, he says tenderly, are about theperson I love.Rex Orange County signs off with his best vocal and affecting, mournful brass on the quietlyepic Its Not The Same Anymore.You might say thats a sad little phrase, he acknowledges. Im not trying to end on a sadnote, but artistically I like the idea of people maybe wanting to cry on the last song. And it feltlike it had to be a long, reflective song.But the ultimate point is: its not the same anymore its better. Its the most positive thingI could say. My life has fully changed.It all comes back to that journey, from despair to here. From feeling only halfway tohappiness, to feeling like a ten out of ten.If theres a concept, its that: things change, people change, we learn a lot, and Ive learnt alot. I clearly gravitate towards speaking my truth.Rather, Rex Orange County wants to live his musical life. To be free to take his emotional showon the road, and see audiences be spurred to smiles, but also moved to tears. Itll be real, itllbe true, itll be a rollercoaster.I just love to play live with my band, he concludes. Its just the most rewarding part. Andnow Im way happier than I was before, I want to let people hear that in the songs but alsohear what it took to get here. Thats all.

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