|Birth name||Alexander Gordon de Menthon|
|Also known as||Alexander Wolfe|
|Born||24 December 1981|
|Origin||Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK|
|Occupation(s)||Songwriter, singer, musician|
Alexander Wolfe is an English singer-songwriter and musician.
Alexander Wolfe (born 24 December 1981) is a musician and songwriter. Born Alexander Gordon de Menthon in Cambridge, he moved to Woolwich in South East London as a child. His parents are Anne de Menthon and James Gordon. On his mother's side he has a Canadian grandmother, Betty Wolfe, and a French grandfather, Count Henri de Menthon. The de Menthon family are one of the oldest families in Europe dating back to the knights of Charlamagne, among their numbers is Saint Bernard de Menthon who was made a saint for rescuing lost travellers from the Alps with the help of his dogs who went on to inherited his name. Alexander's grandfather, Henri de Menthon, died and in his will he left Alexander a Rembrandt lithograph which he later sold to fund the making of his debut album and the beginning of his musical career. His brother is the writer Jamie Scallion.
Upon leaving school Alexander formed his first band, 'Taxi', with Jamie Cullum, after a chance encounter in a guitar shop on London's Denmark St. The band enjoyed mild live success and toured with Paul Weller before finally imploding in the summer of 2002 due, partly, to Jamie's pending solo deal with Universal and partly due to musical differences. During this time Alexander's grandmother Betty died. He took her maiden name 'Wolfe' as his own and decided to pursue a solo career.
Alexander released his debut album Morning Brings a Flood in March 2010, his second album Skeletons in September 2012, and his third From The Shallows in October 2014.
Morning Brings a Flood
Alexander Wolfe's debut album, Morning Brings a Flood, was originally intended to be an acoustic collection of songs what began life as some simple recordings, evolved into a dense, sprawling, internally driven piece of work. He sold a Rembrandt lithograph left to him by his grandfather to fund the making of the album. He bought a portable home recording studio set up (a mic, a laptop etc.) enabling him to record anywhere. Taking a completely DIY approach, he shut himself away in various lofts, bedrooms and studios around London and Buckinghamshire, where he played all of the instruments (bar the drums, the strings and the horns) and took a self-taught crash course in recording and production. The result is a personal and direct musical insight into the world of Alexander Wolfe.
The foundation of Morning Brings a Flood was recorded in Wheeler End Studios in Buckinghamshire, UK. The "home" studio owned by Noel Gallagher of rock band Oasis. All the instruments were played by Alexander except the drums, which were played by Steve Pilgrim (Paul Weller, formally The Stands), and the strings and horns.
Alexander adorned the album with extras in the shape of videos and artwork. He created the stop frame animation video for 'Teabags in Ashtrays' in his loft and followed that with the seven minute album closer 'Stuck Under September' as a short film. The film stars Emilia Fox as the Moon, and was premiered at the National Portrait Gallery in September 2010. The album artwork came from a chance visit to Goldsmiths Art School (100 yards from Wolfe's front door), where he fell in love with a painting called The Future; Stage 1 by Shaan Syed.
Since its release in March 2010 Morning Brings a Flood has garnered significant critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. The New York Post called it "the most beautiful album heard in years. Period" as well as four-star reviews in Q magazine and Uncut which described the album as, "An object lesson in how to wring out every last drop of emotion". The Sunday Times simply declared it, "A beautiful album".
'Song For the Dead' was used as the opening and closing music for BBC 2 sitcom Whites starring Alan Davies. The album was released on Dharma Records in March 2010. It was preceded by the double A-side single 'Till Your Ship Comes In/Teabags In Ashtrays' which was released in November 2009. 'Song For The Dead' was released as a single in May 2010. The Breakdown EP was released in July 2010.
Alexander's sophomore album Skeletons is a mainly acoustic collection, born out of restlessness, and made very quickly, recorded in the house he grew up in Woolwich, South East London.
He was in the middle of writing another album, his intended second album, (which became his 2014 album From The Shallows), when Skeletons took over. In a period of insomnia that lasted a little over a fortnight he wrote the songs that make up Skeletons. After a series of vivid dreams, he would wake in the night and scribble down images and lyrics. The album is full of visceral metaphors, many bone and teeth references, skeletons, blood, and horses dying. If Morning Brings a Flood was from the subconscious, then Skeletons came from the unconscious.
When he had the songs written he wanted to record them quickly while they were still fresh in his mind. He moved back into his parents' house, the house he grew up in, when they left for a weekend, and turned it onto a recording studio.
Armed with a couple of mics, a guitar and long time friend and collaborator Stan Kybert, the songs were recorded live in one or two takes, with an emphasis placed on immediacy over professionalism. The idea was to strip everything away and get right to the source of the song, which was to highlight the words. They gave themselves rules, no drums and nothing faster than a heartbeat.
They then went to Dean St Studios in Soho for a couple of days to record the overdubs. Splashes of piano, reverb soaked electric guitar and space echo were all added. Another friend and long time collaborator, Alex Metcalf, then supplied some sparse string and horn arrangements, and it was done.
The artwork was once again supplied by Canadian conceptual artist, Shaan Syed. an oil painting called A Little Bit Of Everything Everywhere.
The album was preceded by two singles, a dark reworking of the Neil Young song 'Don't Let It Bring You Down' in April 2012 and the title track of the album Skeletons in July 2012.
From The Shallows
After the stripped back & immediate nature of 'Skeletons', Alexander reacted outwards. On his 3rd album 'From The Shallows', he returned to the full-band format. Released in October 2014, it was his most ambitious recording to date.
He says, “The last album... I gave myself limitations, this time I took the limitations away, I gave myself no rules except to serve the song. Because of that there's a lot of horns and strings and electric guitars etc... It was refreshing, it was really nice to do. I just got to flesh everything out.”
And that is exactly what the London-born singer-songwriter did, creating an epic, lush and sensual collection of songs, featuring lots of expansive arrangements, instrumental interludes & lush orchestrations. Meanwhile, lyrically, “it's about getting over something difficult and you're out the other end. 'Skeletons' is about being inside something difficult and the new album is about life afterwards. I would say it's hopeful, there's a running theme of hope in what I do... it's a free, forward-looking record.”
'From The Shallows' features 2 guest vocals from singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin, the first on album highlight 'Still Life', and also on the penultimte acoustic ode to lost love 'Love Is All There Is'. Hudson Taylor (musician) also add their vocals to album closer 'Set Your Shadow Free'
The album was preceded 2 singles, 'Trick of the Light' which was released in August 2014, which received widespread regional & national radio play, and 'Sunburn', released in September 2014 which featured an accompanying fan made video featuring a guest cameo from Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin' Criminals, The video budget going to The Children's Trust.
- Emergenza emerging talent UK 2009
- Emergenza European singer/songwriter 2009
- International Acoustic Music Award (IAMA) for Teabags In Ashtrays 2010
- International Songwriting Award for Stuck Under September 2011
Whites (TV series)
Whites is a BBC sitcom, written by Oliver Lansley and Matt King, and starring Alan Davies as the executive chef at a country house hotel. BBC 2 gave the go ahead for the show to go into production in August 2009 with the first episode airing in September 2010. The opening and closing music is "Song for the Dead" written and performed by Alexander Wolfe.
- BBC2 Sitcom Whites - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v3736
- Dharma Records - http://www.dharmarecords.co.uk/artists/alexander-wolfe/
- Interview with The Vinyl District - http://www.thevinyldistrict.com/uk/2011/06/06/alexander-wolfe-the-360tvd-interview/
- AWAL - http://www.awal.com/blog/alexander-wolfe-till-your-ship-comes-teabags-ashtrays
- Interview with LCassetta (French Language) - http://lcassetta.com/alexander-wolfe-linterview/
- Line Of Best Fit - http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/2010/05/alexander-wolfe-morning-brings-a-flood/
- Interview with The Playground - http://www.theplayground.co.uk/review/review.php?revID=125
- Guardian - http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/aug/14/new-band-alexander-wolfe
- Interview with Sport.co.uk - http://www.sport.co.uk/features/Football/1331/Sportcouk_meetsAlexander_Wolfe.aspx
- Official Website - http://www.alexanderwolfe.co.uk/about.html
- Allmusic biography - http://www.allmusic.com/artist/alexander-wolfe-mn0002468256/biography