A gentle conversation with Alex Mendham – Alex Mendham & His Orchestra, London
A refined gentlemen’s lifestyle is constantly embodied by different sophisticated elements around him, for certain an impeccable and tailored attire, a well-groomed look and polished hair-do accompanies with a splash of pleasant use of fragrance, the choice of selecting his matching accessories and timepiece, then finish the final touch with a pair of exquisite, hand-made leather shoes. Just like an old Hollywood actor that spending their days in a fairy-tale like lifestyle, having a decent and elegant meal or tea in the most elegant hotel restaurant, either enjoy the spectacular interior décor or the beautiful and well-dressed patrons around him, or, enjoying a very personal down time of reading a beautiful book, we in ‘My Modern Darcy’ have basically covers all these elements in the past, but what I aware of, there is one topic that I have never write about before, which is - music.
Don’t get me wrong, I am passionately fond of music as it contributed a great portion of creating a stylish life, which is the reason why I have included a ‘Tune of the day’ section in my blog here, to offer some melody helping you all, my dear readers, to indulge yourself in the ultimate fantasy and enjoyment while exploring my blog. In general, there are a couple of genre that I like, mostly lounge and down-tempo that relaxes my mind, yet, a part of me is pretty much an old-soul which reminiscent the golden day of the glamourous and fashionable eras, no matter is the Belle L’Epoque in late 19th century, to the heyday of the Jazz Age in the 20s, and even up to the late 50s to early 60s, they are all the timeless classic that provide the joy of dressing-up and high-society-gathering mood dated back then, the melody is emotional that somehow touches our soul that ones might subconsciously imitate the gesture, move and even the conversational tone from those days. While there is a sign of the coming back of the old day jazz concerts, there is one I recently discover that impresses me a lot, not simply just because of the incredible performance itself, but, the entire package that comes with it are consistently impeccable and sophisticated, what I would like to introduce to you all today, is one of the most regarded singer, and anchor of his performing band, Mr. Alex Mendham of ‘Alex Mendham & His Orchestra.
When I firstly came across this talented young gentleman, I am instantly fond of his personal style and demeanor, a very classic British gentleman with a flawless and sophisticated attire, a well-groomed appearance and a youthful yet sophisticated demeanor. Having been one of the most adored singer / performer in one of the most prestigious Hotel in London then outside UK, his impeccable performance has been exceptional regarded, winning the heart of every audience in each of his performance along with the Orchestra team, their expertise of bring back the glamorous music from the 1920s to 30s, replicating the splendid aura with every single details from the music instruments and microphone (which are original from the 20s and 30s), to the attire of each performers and their grooming, all the effort made are noteworthy, no wonder why it captures the heart of each single guests easily, enable them to dance along with the beautiful performance effortlessly. Perhaps this is what we call a ‘magic’, yet, I am intrigue by this young talented gentleman of all the work that he does, and today, I am more than thrilled to have a very gentle conversation with Alex, and try to let his passion, talent and youthful spirit unfold.
My Modern Darcy: Hi Alex, I am truly honored and thrilled to have this conversation with you today, how does it feel to have this Q&A with us?
Alex Mendham: I’m always very grateful for the chance to talk about my work with the orchestra and my passion for the music of the 1920s and 30s. It’s always exciting to bring the story, and share that enthusiasm to a new audience!
MMD: So as starter, I have learnt about your amazing achievements in the past, such as your many concerts, International Festivals and New Year’s Eve Ball engagement at the Savoy Hotel, and eventually having the band appeared in some of the most prominent TV shows, can you tell us about how’s your journey come about? And what motivates you to do that?
AM: One thing that motivates me above all else is the original music. When I listen to an old recording I hear such talent, dedication and attention to detail. I strive always to achieve the very best from myself and the young musicians in my Orchestra so it’s always very gratifying when we are invited to perform for some of the wonderful engagements and film work that we have done.
MMD: Can you share with us about something of your childhood, did you ever think of being a jazz singer one day? And is this want your aspiration in life?
AM: As a child, I was always watching musicals and black and white films. Something about the sophisticated era, the clothing and above all the timeless music appealed to me. Almost always there would be a dance orchestra in the background so it seemed an obvious choice for me, even as a young teenager.
MMD: As I understand that you are very enthusiastic of bringing back the classical jazz of the 20s and 30s back to now, what intrigues you to pick this era but not the others? What is the story behind?
AM: I love music from many different eras, from classical to pop. Something In the music from the 1920s and 30s really speaks to me and grabs my attention. I think the lyrics are very sincere and meaningful. I also really get excited about the roaring arrangements from the 1920s. I love the very high standard the musicians and the orchestras achieved and many of the very best compositions from this period are still being performed today by artists of all genres due to their very high quality.
MMD: For the formation of your band ‘Alex Mendham & His Orchestra’, how is that happen? And how did you work along with your band-mates to follow the consistency of every details to such flawless aspect?
AM: I was very lucky with the musicians I found for my orchestra. I put an advert around in London and before I knew it, I was sent dozens and dozens of messages from young musicians all wanting to be involved in such a project. I held a series of auditions as I must have everything to a high standard. Their appearance and their musicianship must be flawless as you say, and I’ve always encouraged that from the orchestra’s very beginning. Every instrument, every suit and even the microphone are of the period. The Dunlop Sister’s evening dresses are hand made in original material by a couture dress maker.
MMD: Did you offer your styling and etiquette protocol personally to your bandmates? If so, how is that like?
AM: Yes, it was actually a very easy task. The gentlemen (and ladies) all very much like the style protocol of the Orchestra. We do sometimes refer to photographs and films for the finer details of hair styling and makeup.
MMD: OK, now let’s switch the question back to you, how did you master your sensitivity on mens classic style? Did you have any mentor or else?
AM: When I was younger I would travel into London and I was especially fascinated with Saville Row, the famous street for men’s tailoring. I would look into the shop windows and admire the very smart suits. I had no mentor but look at classic Hollywood stars of the 30s for inspiration.
MMD: And can you share with us how’s your personal style looks like when you were off the spotlight from your performance stage?
AM: I try to avoid jeans and t-shirts where possible. I prefer, even when casual, to wear an oxford shirt and trousers. I always like a blazer or a “sport coat” as they would sometimes be called as they are accepted at most occasions. For an evening in town I will almost always opt for a well tailored suit and a neck tie.
MMD: As we all know that being a refined gentleman is not simply about how well he dress and groom, but also many aspects as well, how do you define what a gentleman is? What are the qualities should a modern gentleman should have?
AM: For me a gentleman is someone who is well mannered, emotionally intelligent and treats everyone as an equal. He’s someone who is well traveled and chivalrous (even if the world has moved on somewhat). A gentleman is never afraid to fail. Often, more is achieved through failure than success.
MMD: Life is full of challenges and surprises, especially for artist even musicians, with the experience you have, how did you overcome some of the challenges and follow your dreams, then eventually, achieve what you are now today?
AM: My biggest challenges have always been overcome with my original inspiration. The music. No matter how tough things have been in the past or how tough they will be in the future, I just have to put a record on the turntable and realise that every effort is worth it. Just to be able to bring such wonderful music to a live audience is the reward itself. I very much hope to be able to bring my music to an audience in Hong Kong, with its own very rich musical heritage. Thank you.
Special thanks to Mr. Alex Mendham, image courtesy of Inspire Management