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Olly Alexander admits performing at Coachella felt ‘weird’

The singer spoke during the Annie Mac Presents London Conference.


Olly Alexander (Ian West/PA)

Olly Alexander (Ian West/PA)

Olly Alexander (Ian West/PA)

Olly Alexander has admitted that he felt “weird” performing at Coachella because of its owner’s apparent support of anti-LGBT charities.

Philip Anschutz, whose AEG entertainment company runs the Californian event, is said to have made significant donations to charities supporting anti-LGBT causes.

Alexander, who is gay, and Years & Years bandmates Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Turkmen performed at the music festival in 2016.

The singer, 29, said he was comfortable with his choice “politically” because he was able to express his sexuality on-stage.

TRNSMT festival
Years & Years perform on stage (Lesley Martin/PA)

He told the Annie Mac Presents London Conference: “It’s hard because, I’m going to be honest, I want to play Coachella. There is literally one festival in the US that is important and it’s Coachella.

“We have done it. I felt weird about it but then I thought, ‘Well, I am standing up here in front of all these people – my gay self. This must mean something’. For me politically, I am OK with it. I don’t really know.

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“We are not big enough to really turn down festival offers. We really are not. If we were headlining stuff, maybe we would. I would hope that we would be able to take that kind of stance but…”

Alexander also recalled being advised not to come out as gay during the early days of his career.

He said: “When we first got signed, I had a media trainer advise me not to come out.

“That was six years ago. I think it’s not likely to happen now. I think obviously we have seen a lot of change but I suppose my question is whether or not we are becoming more palatable, in the sense that overt homophobia has been taken away from these institutions.”

2018 MTV Video Music Awards – Show – New York
Ariana Grande (PA)

He also addressed the furore around Ariana Grande’s performance at Manchester Pride, after some criticised the event for booking a non-LGBT headliner.

“We played Manchester Pride last year and there was a big online thing about Ariana Grande headlining and should she be allowed to headline or not,” he said.

“That is probably going to continue so I would hope that Pride line-ups will see it in their own interests to have more queer acts on their bills because, you know, it makes sense.

“And I liked Ariana Grande, I’m not anti-Ariana.”

He was speaking on a panel called Reshaping The World: Has Popular Culture Embraced LGBTQ+ Artists In 2020?

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