TR/ST | Robert Alfons

by BJ Panda Bear

BERLUTI   hat.

BERLUTI hat.

There is something best contrasted in a singer that looks like a young gothy Luke Perry circa Beverly Hills 90210 with the captivating voice of some ancient warlock from Sabrina. After five years since his last album, Robert Alfons the voice and image of the band TR/ST is back bringing the enigmatic dreaminess to a lighter place with a 2 part album, the first one dropping today, The Destroyer – Part 1. Having held his place securely in the darkwave scene the musician has built a following off of his minimal treatment to synth music, bewitchingly danceable yet drawn from a visceral delivery. With his latest offering the sounds are still catchy as ever, yet the time spent experimenting has forged a complex growth which draws deep from personal struggles. This evolution sees the musician veer into cinematic and lush compositions keeping in line with the dramatic drone that long captivated fans but also a new headiness offers up a new course into the light. We grabbed a few questions with the artist whilst on his transatlantic tour. 

BALENCIAGA   jacket and pants and talent’s own shoes

BALENCIAGA jacket and pants and talent’s own shoes

Firstly, I have to say I love the direction you have been exploring, I feel it’s so dancey whilst also sinister than ever! What are your points of inspiration for this body of work?

Thanks babe. Sonically I was deeply inspired by albums like like PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire? and Nine Inch Nails Downward Spiral but also the lush strings of Henryk Görecki and Heitor Villa-Lobos. I wanted the album to have this push/pull.

It feels like a nice progression into heavier industrial sounds and this lush production on this album. At its height I can feel it echoing on “Poorly Coward,” how did you come to this point musically?

I think maybe my mood swings were just crazier than ever while making it lol. Always in chaos instead of a nice medium balanced place. “Poorly Coward” is one of my favs from the album, it’s very important in the journey.

You get quite ethereal or rather airy on half of the album on your tracks “Control Me,” “Gone,” “Wake With,” and “Grouch” your voice is quite delicate, is this a direction you see yourself experimenting more with?

I’ve always thought of my voice as an instrument, and rarely pushed it to the foreground or sang in my “speaking voice”. It just felt like the right time to present it this way. I went with my gut.

This album is to be released as 2 bodies of work, what was the thinking behind the process of splitting up the album and what can we expect of part 2?

Honestly 16 songs is a lot to digest in one sitting but more importantly the second half empties into a moody solemn place and that felt like a nice split point.

Who is “The Destroyer”?

I don’t really think there’s one answer to this, I don’t have like a concept album in place. But for context, I started writing this song while in this immature pattern of continually pushing people away to see who would stick around. I’m sure it’s just the inner child acting out of feeling of abandonment, but nonetheless that’s where the song started. I’m a destroyer of everyone.

GUCCI   pants

GUCCI pants

You’ve been called the goth eeyore, gay joe dirt, there was a strong Ziggy moment I saw with Ionnalee, what is your current visual iteration?

Lol love all these. I think I’m embracing my inner alien more and more, and as I get older my face is changing so I’m naturally just starting to look like one!

I love the album work for your singles, very grotesque and elegant. Who is the artist behind the art work? Is there as story to the figure on the covers. They all seem the same with their striped body until we see this new work on the cover of “Colossal”

So glad you like, I love them so much. The artist is a dear sweet friend Blake Armstrong, you can find him on Instagram @blkarmstron.

I think we just modeled the character and it’s journey as if the album was an operatic tragedy. I really love what he did with them all. 

With the work you had done with Ryan Heffington for “Destroyer” is that a sound we will be hearing more of, or is it hinting at Destroyer’s part 2?

Yes the second half is much more tender and sonically speaking includes much more piano, which is something I have been trying to make work for some time now. Loved working with Ryan and Justin [Tyler Close] on that video!


Photographed by: Beau Nelson

Styled by: Shab Mohammad

Grooming: Erika Fitzgerald using MAC Cosmetics

Set design: Zaid Arriola

Production: BJ Panda Bear