Le Fil is one of the scene’s most promising new recording artists. He’s both sparklingly original and disarmingly self-aware, qualities that are increasingly rare in our Instawhore Kar Krash generation.
His music is a gorgeous, sensory kaleidoscope of sound. In his new EP, there’s slugs of industrial, shots of dance and a generous trickle of glam pop.
Ahead of the release of his new single ‘Genesis’ in April, Dylan Jones spoke to him about gentrification, the role of queer musicians, and more.
It all started for me by writing soundtracks for live art performances, where I used to writhe around in clay and cling film in warehouses. I’m a sucker for catchy choruses and big hooks! I guess I find pop music the more accessible art form to discuss themes like sex, gender and identity with a mainstream audience. It’s sort of like a trojan horse – seduce people with the music, and then once you’re in – you can wreck havoc from the inside!
Recently Olly Alexander wrote a great open letter about gay men in pop music. What do you think about it all?
I loved that letter! Olly’s like a trojan horse too, and he’s now in a position where he can change things. The mainstream music industry plays it so safe, and ignores such a large part of our culture in favour of promoting safer options like Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran. I’ve really struggled with that. I’m glad people are being more accepting of gender-fuck artists! The 80s were so queer and I’m happy to see that queerness and otherness is making a comeback – even Boy George is back on TV! In fact, that’s what my new song ‘Genesis’ is about – everyone coming together to create a culture of acceptance. I feel really optimistic about that now – it’s been long overdue.
You live in Peckham, right? Very up and coming! What are your fave places to go around there?
Oh God, Peckham’s been up and coming for years, and will be up and coming for many more. I think people should stay away from Peckham otherwise my cheap rent’s gonna go up again! Bussey Building’s great for a dirty party. Canavan’s pool place is good too, lots of hot boys bending over, wooden sticks and karaoke. Perfect.
What artists is your music inspired by?
The new EP I’m making is proper inspired by film soundtracks like Drive and The Fifth Element, cinematic epic pop! Talking of epic pop, everyone hates her now, but she still inspires me – Gaga. Sure, she loses her focus sometimes – but doesn’t every mid-twenty year old get a bit lost sometimes? I know I do. Pulling your shit together is what is inspirational – and also writing a song like Bad Romance! I admire loads more – Björk, Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, FKA Twigs, Matthew Barney, The Irrepressibles, Kylie, Laurie Anderson, Andy Warhol, Gilbert & George, Bowie – any artist who pushes creative boundaries really inspires me, no matter what discipline.
What do you think about genderqueer stuff and non-binary? Do you identify with any of that at all?
Absolutely. We all need to identify with it and talk about it more. This is what inspires me to write music and be heard! Here’s an example: every day I get challenged about my long hair – it’s such a simple thing, but for most people, it’s a shock to see a man with long hair. I’m like, it’s hair – it grows?! And just because I wear eyeliner doesn’t mean I’m a drag act or want to be referred to as a woman – it just means I’m changing the notion of what it means to be a man. We still live in a culture where everyone has to fit into a certain type of box – masc box, trans box, asian box – when in fact we’re all different shapes, different genders, different colours, different spectrums. We are all individual! The more we create dialogue with each other, the more acceptance there will be for everyone to just be themselves.
What do you make of the London gay scene?
Its great! My hometown is Huddersfield, where there isn’t too much of a scene. So London in comparison is this massive, colourful, fertile hotbed of happy and proud gays! I love The Glory. I’ve performed there a few times and launched my EP there last year. Jonny Woo, John Sizzle and Zoe are fab and so supportive of my music. Royal Vauxhall Tavern too – I love Bar Wotever! And Heaven on a Thursday night, dirts! It’s all about creating an exciting and diverse mix of culture and energy, not just one homogenised mass.
And of London as a whole? A lot of people are saying it’s getting too expensive, too corporate. Do you agree with that?
It’s been getting too expensive for ages. One of my songs ‘Big Job’ talks about that dichotomy of needing the investment but needing freedom too, and the struggle in finding that balance. Being a creative living in London is tough, and means surviving on £1 Iceland pizzas – but at the same time we’re partly to blame for it becoming expensive too. We bring the culture and then culture brings corporations and investments to the area, and then boom – everything becomes super expensive. Peckham’s recent regeneration is a good example of that. Unfortunately it’s a vicious cycle that seems unavoidable unless the government and local councils put a foot down on landlords, big companies and foreign investors ruining an area and pricing everyone out. But we can’t boycott London, we are the artists and culture that keep it fresh – we just need to keep campaigning where we can!
Which three famous people would you most like to party with and why? Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones and Rihanna – ultimate sass-fest! When I get going, I can just dance forever and I imagine those three would too. High on life!
What are your plans for the future?
I’m headlining a night at The Amersham Arms in New Cross on March 30th. I’m gonna be performing my electronic pop sculpture songs with a full live band, guitars and all. It’s traditionally an indie rock venue, but expect added glam pop, whirring synths and hot boys dancing! We’re also gonna premiere ‘Genesis’, which fingers crossed will be coming out next month. Then the EP will come out later in the summer, and it’s all sounding super fit. And I’m just warming up!
What advice would you give to young queer people striking out on their own?
I’m only starting out too, so I guess I’d offer the advice that I go by myself, which is – we only get one life to live, so live the one we want to. Shape it like a sculpture. Be bold, be brave, be yourself – and take the time to learn what being yourself actually is. Embrace it and enjoy it!
• Le Fil is at The Amersham Arms (388 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY) on Wednesday 30th March from 8pm.