Years & Years

By
Photography John Akehurst

Published July 21, 2015

MIKEY GOLDSWORTHY, OLLY ALEXANDER, AND EMRE TURKMEN IN LONDON, JUNE 2015. STYLING: PHOEBE ARNOLD. SHIRT: DIOR HOMME. ON ALEXANDER: SHIRT: DIESEL BLACK GOLD. NOSE RING AND EARRING: ALEXANDER’S OWN. NECKLACE: DIOR HOMME. ON TURKMEN: T-SHIRT: IRO. GLASSES AND NECKLACE: TURKMEN’S OWN. GROOMING PRODUCTS: DIOR, INCLUDING DIOR HOMME DERMO SYSTEM REPAIRING MOISTURIZING EMULSION. GROOMING: MATT MULHALL/STREETERS LONDON. PROP STYLING: ALEX CLOW. SPECIAL THANKS: BETHNAL GREEN WORKING MEN’S CLUB.

There’s a line in Years & Years‘ press materials that raises exponentially more questions than it answers: “Olly joined the band after Mikey heard him singing in the shower during a party at his house.”

Lead singer Olly Alexander is quick to clarify this bizarre behavior, lest he never be invited to a social gathering again. “No, no, I don’t take showers during parties,” declares the soft-spoken lead singer, chuckling as he ponders such a grave social faux pas. “Mikey [Goldsworthy, bassist] came to a party at my house, and he slept over that night. The next morning, I was taking a shower, and that’s when he heard me singing. The other story is more interesting, though.”

In the five years since then, Years & Years have graduated from Alexander’s washroom to the top of the British dance scene. The young London-based trio scored a number-one hit on the British charts in January with “King,” a sinewy dance-soul single that ably paired Alexander’s breathy, R&B-infused falsetto with keyboardist Emre Turkmen’s frisky acid-synth textures and Goldsworthy’s subtle disco underpinnings. That momentum helped them cinch the prestigious BBC Sound of 2015, an award that carries instant ubiquity in their homeland. “I couldn’t believe we won that; Olly was crying,” says Goldsworthy, an Australian expat who launched the group and still serves as its droll de facto leader. “I mean, a year ago, I was still working in a restaurant, and now we’re playing at Glastonbury.”

Years & Years haven’t rested since their June performance at the vaunted festival: they released their debut album, Communion, earlier this month in the midst of a heavy touring schedule that will continue through the fall. Alexander, an established stage and screen actor (Skins, The Riot Club, Penny Dreadful), has even placed his acting career fully on hold to focus on the band. “This has been a tornado,” he says. “Surreal moments constantly happen. I feel like I can take them with me to the grave.”