The Independent "How we met: Brix Smith-Start and Brian Molko", Jun'07

Sunday, 17 June 2007
By Rebecca Armstrong

Brian Molko, 35, is a singer-songwriter with the rock band Placebo. Born in America, he moved to London at the age of 17 to study drama at Goldsmiths College. He formed the band Placebo, in 1996. Brian lives in east London with his partner and son. Placebo's latest album, 'Meds', is out now on Elevator.

The first time I ever saw Brix was on TV. I grew up in Luxembourg in the 1980s and there was this legendary show called Snub TV, where a lot of people of my generation got introduced to alternative music. I liked her song so much that I went out and bought the cassette. That was my first introduction to her: a kooky American lady on TV.

Cut to London, 2002, and I was finally moving into my dream loft apartment. My mate and I were dragging all my stuff up in the lift and on one of these trips I ran into this American woman. I said "Hi, I'm Brian" and she said "Hi, I'm Brix". I couldn't believe it. I was moving in next door to the living legend who I'd been listening to for 10 years.

Over the years we've become very close. Even though I spend at least six months of the year on the road, Brix and I have a real unspoken understanding because, in a way, she's already been through a lot of the things I am going through now.

I also shop at Brix's shop a lot. It's the place where I get the majority of the trousers that I wear on stage. I witnessed the beginning of the Start empire and now it's an oasis of genuine glamour in the universe of urban decay, dog shit and trust-fund hipness that is Shoreditch. Every piece that is sold is lovingly picked. Plus it's convenient and the neighbours' discount is fantastic.

We used to party a lot, but things have changed now that I'm a father. When I first moved in here, it was when my band started getting really successful and Brix would always show up to see us in Europe. We'd have the best of times because Brix is the life of the party. My memories of her are of the comfort of a familiar face transported to legendary venues in Paris.

These days we have a lot of dinner parties - Brix is a great cook. Our next outing is lunch, and we're going to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen later. Our crazy days are kind of over. Everybody has started breeding.

Brix and I will be friends forever. We're both people who've lived the rock'n'roll thing to the full - through the good craziness and the bad craziness, the light and the darkness, we've been there for each other. I think it's a sign of a true friendship. Until doing this interview I didn't really think about our friendship because it was so natural and so unspoken. Brix gives off such an inspiring energy she radiates.

Brix Smith-Start, 44 is an American singer and guitarist, best known for playing with British punk band, The Fall for 15 years and as lead singer with The Adult Net. She lives in east London with her husband Philip Start, with whom she co-owns the Start clothes shop, in Shoreditch.

I lived here before Brian did. There were always rumours about rock stars buying places - someone from the Prodigy bought a flat two doors down, and then I heard that Brian from Placebo was moving in. I only really knew his song, "Nancy Boy", and I loved it - but I only vaguely knew what he looked like. Then one day we met in the lift, and we just introduced ourselves. After that we kept bumping into each other, we both thought that we had a lot in common. It was almost like we connected without having to go through the awkward motions of becoming friends. It was seamless really.

I have fitted Brian in many a pair of jeans, but he doesn't always agree with what I suggest. He has a very strong sense of taste and, being a rock star, he gets fabulous clothes from all over the place. I remember once Hedi Slimane from Christian Dior gave him a truckload of clothes and I was extremely jealous.

The thing about Brian is that he's super-intelligent. He's such a special creature - so captivating and warm - I would love him no matter what he did. One night a few years ago we went to this wild festival called Lost Vagueness, where men dressed up as women and where there was a big casino and gambling and burlesque; really mad. It was late and we were all on the blackjack table where Brian was winning, and winning and winning - he just could not lose. I remember thinking it was like God was shining his light on this man.

I've got millions of fond memories of Brian. We've had so many great nights out together, and dinner parties at each other's houses. One year we threw a rolling New-Year's-Eve party that started off at his house for canapés; then to the next neighbours' house for the first course; the next neighbours' house for the main course - and it ended up at our house for champagne and dessert on the roof. It was wonderful, but even just sitting around watching TV with him is great.

I feel lucky to have Brian as a friend. There are times when I've felt a bit low or insecure, and he's always bolstered my ego. He never fails to remind me of my past, which is good, because I could forget it and move on to the next stage of life. It's really special to know that he's proud of me. It makes me feel all warm and teary.

Start is at 57 Rivington Street, London EC2, tel: 020 7729 3334,