the face –
With his traffic-stopping combination of superhero build, a high-precision bone structure fusing Jamaican, Chinese, Indian and Cuban genes, a full-body web of stunning custom tattoos and gender-transcendently luscious lips, eyes and skin, Roy Anthony Brown’s outrageous, ever-changing style manifestations have been igniting London’s most flamboyant club nights and the world’s most hallowed fashion pages since the glory days of Taboo, i-D, Kinky Gerlinky and Red Hot + Blue.
But did you know Roy also packs a voice just as arresting, expressive and individual? Sometimes soulful, sometimes defiant, sometimes intimate and sometimes full-on furious, it’s an instrument which, in his latest incarnation as ROY INC, the multi-talented Mr Brown unleashes on his debut solo album We were here, I’m just like you.
Heralded by the first two singles Attention Kills and F.A.M.E. For All My Enemies, and now by the brooding Point Defiance, it’s a collection of ten tracks plus bonus material in shades of sophisticated, ebony-dark electro pop, and comes accompanied by spectacular videos that marry some of Roy’s most dazzling guises yet with state of the art special effects and sweeping, cinematic storyboarding that betray the singer-songwriter’s graphic artist past.
Perhaps you did. At the same time as Roy was building a unique profile as a performer, model, and artists’ muse that saw him photographed by everyone from David Bailey to Pierre et Gilles to Nick Knight, gracing the pages of The Face, L’Uomo Vogue and Dazed & Confused, vogueing for Les Childs and Neneh Cherry and rocking the runway for Thierry Mugler, BodyMap, Pam Hogg, he also made his first moves on the mic'. Perhaps you were there at one of his two years’ worth of gigs as frontman for indie rockers Recreation. Or later when he mined his childhood love of Black Sabbath and Queen singing with hard rockers Platinum, subsequently reborn as This Is War. Or maybe you were among the hundreds of rapt roisterers who lip-synched along to Roy’s live performance of Attention Kills at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Wig Party at the Café De Paris last Hallowe’en or MTV’s EMAs afterparty in Frankfurt.
Graced with stunning new and archive photographic collaborations with Peter Ashworth, Andreas H. Bitesnich and Kate Garner and an eerie image of a Kent dogging site by artist David Gwinnutt We Were Here, I’m Just Like You comprises eight original songs written by Roy and two bold reinventions of immortal tracks by Grace Jones and Nirvana. By turns arch, wounded, cynical, idealistic and outraged, the original songs’ enigmatic lyrics showcase the writing and poetry he has explored privately throughout his career. ‘My narratives are a channel for the borderline voyeurism I’ve indulged in since I was a child,’ he explains. ‘They’re outlets for what I’ve seen of human behaviour and relationships, how we treat each other.’ For the artist, his first album is another lifelong ambition achieved. For the rest of us, its slick, silky grooves offer exhilaration, seduction and a touch of subversion – plus plenty to think about next time we wonder what’s going on behind a pair of beautiful eyes.