ALEXA MARLEN from RIVIERA F
1. Who are you?
Alexa Marlen, singer in Riviera F.
2. No, really, who are you?
I’m sticking to my story.
3. What are you up to at the moment?
Doing promotion for our new EP, International Lover. Doing a new Hi-Energy club night called How To Pick Up Girls. Writing new songs.
4. What three rules would make up your manifesto?
In Riviera F terms, my manifesto would be:
Do not be political:
A pop song is usually about only 3 minutes long. To use such a format in order to make a political point is extremely
presumptuous. Three verses and a chorus would never be enough to allow anyone to present a cohesive agreement, when
it comes to some very complicated issues.
This is not to say that you should be bland, or that you shouldn’t have any opinions. I think the only way you can make any political point through pop
music, is when it comes from a personal point of view.
A good example for that is Ghost Town by The Specials and Common People by Pulp. Both make a political point by using a personal/social angle. But as a
rule, I believe it’s best to avoid it altogether, otherwise you end up sounding
like Nicky Wire.
Do not be controversial:
I find it embarrassing when you listen to a song or read an interview where people are obviously trying to be controversial or shocking.
Talking about drugs and sexuality is so old and tired. There is nothing rebellious about it. People have been having all sorts of
sex and doing all sorts of drugs since long before pop music was ever invented.
Wanting to be controversial is lame enough, but doing it by using the oldest
tricks in the book just makes you sound like a cliche.
Get a real gimmick instead, like being two underage lesbians who snog on
stage. Oh maybe not.
Do not rock:
It’s really really nasty.
5. If you were the dictator of a modern industrial country, what would
you abolish? What laws would you implement?
I would make everybody wear pastel suits.
6. What are your lyrics about?
When I write lyrics I always try to tell a story. It doesn’t always have a
beginning, middle and end, but it is a narrative. Lyrics are there to work with
the music. That’s why they never tell the full story in isolation. I like to
have contradictions in songs. Saying one thing, while the music can tell you
what’s really going on.
A lot of times when I listen to Bowie I get the feeling that I know exactly what he’s talking about, even though I don’t think he always does!
I try to write songs that create an atmosphere. I only write about what I see
around me. I don’t have answers. It’s more like pointing at things and saying “did you notice that?” When you do that, people might think about it and
get to their own conclusions.
7. What is your opinion on the contemporary music scene? What do you
If the NME is meant to reflect the state of the music scene, then it must be
very very dull. The idea that all those unwashed rock bands are supposed to be
rebellious or original is quite ridiculous.
The NME must be written by 12 year olds (to be read by 8 year olds), or I can
think of no other explanation.
I do like Franz Ferdinand. I think it’s great to see a stylish band that actually writes interesting songs, doing so well.
They are the ones who are making it in the US and are always on CDUK, and not
the Libertines, which always cheers me up. Wit against shit indeed.
8. What distinguishes you from your peers?
I’m not sure who my peers are. People seem to think that Riviera F is an electro or Electroclash band. But I think that we are simply a pop band.
Yes, we do programme our drums and use samples but in many ways we are a lot
more traditional than most electro bands.
Riviera F is a band and not a “project”. We actually write real songs, with
real melodies. We have songs like Dance Alone which is a real pop ballad. I mean there’s even a sax solo in there!
I think we combine the love of Hi-Energy, pop and disco with a more edgy and
dark side. That can be manifested in many different ways, and the songs are
quite different from each other. Some people are not so imaginative. When something is a bit more ambiguous
and not so straight forward, they just don’t know how to classify you and relate
to what you do. They then tend go for the most obvious label. That’s how we got associated with a scene we have nothing to do with.
We don’t want to be one of those bands you can only listen to for a month and
then never again. That’s how I feel about a lot of the electronic bands. They
can get tiring. I want the music to last. I want it to be able to accompany people through different times.
In very technical terms, pop music should be useful and reliable (and preferably come with a life time guarantee).
That’s what we try to do with Riviera F.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
That’s is the kind of question they always ask in job interviews. In that spirit I will have to say that in five years time I hope to be in managerial
position where I can not only benefit from my placement but also be able to contribute to the success of the company.
10. Any regrets?
Worrying about regrets is a waste of energy. Life is about taking chances, and it’s always best to try and improve things rather than to think what went
wrong, or what could have been. Look forward, not back!