Years & Years’ Olly Alexander says Lil Nas X “has completely changed the game”

“I think there’s a ‘before Lil Nas X’ and an ‘after Lil Nas X’"

Years & Years’ Olly Alexander has praised Lil Nas X for “completely changing the game” for LGBTQ artists.

Alexander was speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read when he praised the impact that the singer/rapper has had since his 2018 breakthrough with ‘Old Town Road’.

Initially reflecting on how he’s personally become “much more relaxed and at ease with myself” in recent years, Alexander said that at the start of Years & Years’ career “I was really quite scared”.

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“Putting the word ‘boy’ into a song – it felt like there was quite a lot of jeopardy there,” he said. “Like, it felt risky in a way that it just doesn’t now.”

Noting how “times have changed” since Years & Years dropped their 2015 debut album ‘Communion’, Alexander said that he believes that he and other LGBTQ artists are benefiting from Lil Nas X’s “fearless” rise to the top.

Years & Years
Years & Years on the cover of NME

“Even just a few years ago, I’d get comments about my show like: ‘It’s not really family-friendly; we can’t broadcast this [on TV] in the daytime,’” Alexander said. “And it was literally just because I’m gay and had my nipples out or something – there was nothing [sexually] explicit going on. People would get a bit scared, but now, after Lil Nas X, that just doesn’t happen. I don’t think it can.

“I do think [he] has completely changed the game, if I’m honest,” he added. “I think there’s a ‘before Lil Nas X’ and an ‘after Lil Nas X’.

“It’s so undeniable, the success he’s had, that it’s like the industry is now trying to catch up with [him].”

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Elsewhere in his latest NME interview, Alexander opened up about Years & Years becoming a solo project.

“We could never really agree on what we liked in the music and what direction we wanted to go in, so that made the songwriting process difficult,” he said about working with his former bandmates Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen.

“It was never lyrics; [Goldsworthy and Türkmen] would never touch lyrics. It was just, like, general direction: how ‘poppy’ something was gonna be. Pop was, like, a dirty world, which is a little crazy.”

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