Art & Design blog

XETH interview Jay Clique

Artist / designer:   Jay Clique
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Wed, 2 Aug 2017

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Photographer: PDL II

Multi-talented artist Jay Clique originates from the steel city of Sheffield and has developed his sound over the years taking inspiration from his childhood music. Gospel music plays an integral role as well as R&B and Hip-hop. Jay often refers to Ludacris as the “first rapper I really got into”. XETH met with the producer, rapper & singer this month to discuss the album he’s working on and what inspires him in the studio.

XETH: At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

Jay Clique: I started rapping at 13 although I used to write poems and lyrics before. Age 13 was when I featured on my first track. I did that for years and it was only when I turned 20 that I turned to production. At first it was out of necessity as I needed beats to rap on, but slowly my interest in the creativity of production grew so I combined the two.

X: What’s your proudest achievement so far?

J: Releasing my first album, The Rebuild, online would be up there especially for the vocalist in me. I pushed myself to do things I wasn’t comfortable doing on there, singing being one of them. One song in particular, which is called ‘That Dress’, was the first song I ever sang a verse on. I remember going to the studio and Seppy, the sound engineer, heard the demo. He was like “yeah man this is fire” so I asked him to sing it and I’d do the rapping. He challenged me to do it and I haven’t looked back since.

X: What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

J: I think getting people’s attention, these days it’s not just down to talent. A lot of the work you do in music today has to have a gimmick. Due to this it’s hard to get people to even hear your stuff because you need a dance move or repetition or videos which can be expensive.

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Photographer: PDL II

X: What are your top three favourite songs?

J: I have a lot of favorites which change so this is such a hard question. However there are a few songs I found myself singing as a kid and still sing them from time to time so I’ll give you those. Not necessarily in this order but…
Leave Me Alone by Michael Jackson
My Way by Frank Sinatra
I Believe I Can Fly by R Kelly

X: What is your favourite London music venue and why?

J: In terms of a place I’d love to perform, I love The Jazz Cafe in Camden. I’ve only been once but the energy in that place was amazing. The stage and surrounding area is quite engaging and it’s got a beautiful balcony which differs from other venues of that size that I’ve seen. The event was a soul orchestra and I was definitely in my element. The music and vocals complement each other nicely

X: Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

J: Again there are more than these three but being exposed to music by these artists has definitely had an effect on me. Kanye West for his production style as well as lyrical content. Ludacris for the pronunciation of his bars and the way he plays with concepts. Producer, Rapper & Singer Ryan Leslie; this man is definitely where I aim to be creatively

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Photographer: PDL II

X: Have you got any exciting projects coming up in the near future?

J: I am working on a new project to release hopefully this year. It already has a name which will be ‘10,000hrs’. The reason for this is to do with the famous rule created by Malcolm Gladwell, which is to say if you spend 10,000 hours at something you will perfect it. As I’ve been spending a lot of time doing music in its different forms, this project is to kind of address this. I’ve already got some features lined up and I’m really excited about it all. I will be producing the majority but not all of it too so this will be nice to have both sides of me on a full project.

X: If you weren’t a musician what other career would you have chosen?

J: Acting. I would definitely have gone down that route. I used to write plays for a local youth club and also star in them. It’s always been close to my heart but music definitely had a stronger pull.

X: What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry?

J: Throw yourself in and don’t wait for people to do it with you. If you see an opportunity, take it and run with it because there is absolutely no telling when the next one will come up.

For more information and tour dates, visit Jay’s website

 

 

XETH meet Indie Folk-Pop Artist Connor Roff

Artist / designer:   Connor Roff
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Tue, 6 Jun 2017

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Photographer: Emi O’Connell

Singer-songwriter Connor Roff combines West Coast Canada with London’s urban sprawl, cleverly blurring the lines between indie folk – pop and gritty realism. His 2016 EP “Chasing Dreams” won him a place in the Roundhouse Rising Sounds Program and this year he’s been long listed for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition as well as touring the UK.

Roff is also one of the front men for leading alternative choir London Contemporary Voices and will be singing at their third annual show at Union Chapel on Saturday 10th June. Special guests include Reeps One, Amber Run and Martin Grech. Tickets are available on the venue’s website.

XETH: At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

Connor Roff: I was 19 years old and had just left university after finishing my first year to take take time off school, while working and living in Vancouver. I was creating, performing and singing more and more until it got to a point when I thought to myself “this is what I want to do. I want to be an artist, I want to make that my career.”

X: What’s your proudest achievement so far?

C: I think moving to London by myself without knowing a single soul in the city, finding my feet, and setting myself up as an artist in this transient town. At times I was terrified, but I’ve managed to make it work, for the most part haha.

X: What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

C: Managing daily life including affording to live in such an expensive city while staying motivated towards my passion and career.

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Photographer: Emi O’Connell

X: What are your top three favourite songs?

C: That is impossible to answer! Some nostalgic ones are Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley and A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

X: What is your favourite London music venue and why?

C: London Bridge’s latest venue addition Omeara is a great new and exciting place to watch live shows. Plus it’s run by the lovely Ben Lovett from Communion Records!

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Photographer: Emi O’Connell

X: Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

C: Fleetwood Mac, Ben Howard and James Vincent McMorrow

X: Have you got any exciting projects coming up in the near future?

C: Yes! I’ve started a little side project with a good friend of mine called Becky CJ, it’s a male/female duo called ‘Little Water’. Both singer-songwriters in our own right, we’ve been doing some writing together over the past few months and are excited to get something fresh off the ground. I’m also writing as much as I can right now for my solo stuff with the hopes of embarking on the recording of my debut album. Then there’s all the work I do with the fantastic London Contemporary Voices choir which is always ongoing and exciting.

X: If you weren’t a musician what other career would you have chosen?

C: God another hard one, at this point probably something else just as creative and unpredictable. An actor or yoga instructor.

X: What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry?

C: Have a vision. Work hard. Make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t give up. Be prepared to make sacrifices for your art. Write prolifically.

 

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XETH interview singer-songwriter Tom Speight

Artist / designer:   Tom Speight
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Mon, 10 Apr 2017

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Photographer: Tom Leishman

Having previously landed support slots for the likes of Fleet Foxes, Jake Bugg, Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran, Travis and Bastille, Tom Speight has returned to the UK stage performing three intimate shows at the start of April which coincide with the launch of his 4th EP ‘Willow Tree‘. Support for his music has grown steadily over the past year, culminating in his most recent single, ‘Love’, being playlisted by BBC Radio2. XETH spoke with the singer-songwriter after his London gig at Camden Assembly to hear more about his love for music.

XETH: At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

Tom Speight: I started doing music when I was around 8  years old.I think Oasis was the first band I fell in love with and inspired me to pick up a guitar.I haven’t stopped writing songs since.

X: What’s your proudest achievement so far?

TS: My proudest achievement is doing music full time. It’s so difficult to make music a full time career and earn any money from. I’m just thankful I get to do that.

X: What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

TS: I think the business side is the most challenging and the easiest part is the music. It’s the other stuff that goes alongside with it that I find difficult to find head space for.

X: What are your top three favourite songs?

TS: ‘New Slang‘ by The Shins

Abacus‘ by Fionn Regan.

See You Soon‘ by Coldplay

All beautiful pieces of music!

X: What is your favourite London music venue and why?

TS: I think it would have to be Koko. I played there with Joshua Radin a couple of years ago! I loved the size and grand nature of it.

X: Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

TS: Ryan Adams every time, he never fails me! Clean Cut Kid‘s Mike Halls is my songwriting partner on a lot of songs. Multi-instrumentalist Justin Vernon‘s production on the Bon Iver records inspires me all the time.

X: What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry?

TS: Don’t give up!! Unless you think there is something else you want to do then give up! I didn’t want to do anything else but music so didn’t really have a choice to not succeed!

To find out more about Tom Speight’s music and where he’ll be touring next, visit his website and facebook page

XETH interview musician TUSKS

Artist / designer:   TUSKS
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Thu, 23 Mar 2017

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Photographer: Jodie Canwell

TUSKS’ Emily Underhill took a moment out of her busy schedule to talk to XETH and tell us about her latest project. The London based artist and producer is newly signed to One Little Indian Records and releases her debut album later this year. Her music, described as Electronic meets Experimental Indie Pop, is loved by BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac and BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson says it’s “Gorgeously atmospheric”.

Tusks’ self-produced debut EP ‘Ink’ clocked up over a million streams on Spotify thanks to her sweet vocals. She’s just completed a UK tour promoting her latest single  ‘Toronto’ and we asked the artist about challenges she faces as a musician and her proudest achievement so far.

XETH: At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

TUSKS: I always played music from a young age but I don’t think it was until about 17 that I decided to try it properly and start releasing songs and playing live

XETH: What’s your proudest achievement so far?

T: Hmm good question – I was really proud of the False EP that I released last year after signing to One Little Indian Records. I’m a big fan of the label and the artists that they work with so it’s amazing to be a part of that now

XETH: What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

T: I think doing everything solo can be really challenging & believing in yourself even when no one else is there to back you up but you just have to go with your gut and be confident in yourself. I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far.

XETH: What are your top three favourite songs?

T: It changes on a daily basis but today I’ll go for

I Forget We Were’ by Ben Howard

Guuurl’ by Lapalux

London Thunder’ by Foals

XETH: What is your favourite London music venue and why?

T: I love smaller more intimate gigs. Places like Birthdays and The Waiting Room are great. They have great PA’s and enough people to have a vibe but small enough so the gig still feels really special.

XETH: Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

T: Bjork, Grimes and Bonobo

XETH: Have you got any exciting projects coming up in the near future?

T: Yes! I’m releasing my debut album this year which feels unreal. The new single Toronto is online now.

XETH: If you weren’t a musician what other career would you have chosen?

T: I really wanted to be in costume design but to be honest I think I’d probably just be travelling. I used to teach Watersports so maybe that on some hot beach…

XETH: What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry? 

T: Be prepared to work really really hard. Don’t sell yourself short, focus and believe in yourself.

TUSK’s new single ‘Toronto’ is available to listen on Soundcloud and buy here

 

Sculpture by Anna Gillespie

Artist / designer:   Anna Gillespie
Article author:   Ricky Thakrar
Published:   Sun, 22 Jan 2017

Dappled Sleep. Acorn cups, acorns, twigs and galls

Dappled Sleep. Acorn cups, acorns, twigs and galls

XETH: You often work with found organic matter – what drew you to using this as a material for sculpture?

Anna Gillespie: I used acorn cups and other found tree materials almost exclusively for a period of about eight years – I think I found working with it deeply soothing.  Each tiny piece is beautiful and beautifully engineered in its own right.  Every bit free, and yet hard-won by grueling hours of collecting.  And every bit challenging common traditions of what is valuable.

In many cases, I was trying to recreate a feeling – that I seem to get only in nature – of being at one with the earth and therefore with oneself.  In a political sense, I was also trying to draw attention to the beauty of nature, in the hope that we would care for it more, collectively.

Beech nuts on beech tree. Photographer: Ricky Thakrar

Beech nuts on beech tree. Photographer: Ricky Thakrar

XETH: I was particularly moved by one of your pieces at Burghley House and Sculpture Garden, made of beech nuts, and fixed to a beech tree.  Was this a gesture, of sorts, to retain the link between the medium and its source?

AG: The beech nut piece at Burghley was typical of my work with organic matter, in that I hoped to draw attention to the beauty of the tiny beech nuts that we just walk over without thinking about most of the time.  It was an attempt to honor the tree – both as an individual, and more generally.  So yes, there was a very direct – and one could say political – reason behind linking the material with its source.

XETH: What are you up to at the moment?

At the moment, I’m enjoying plaster a bit more, because working in it allows me to take risks in how I make life size figures – bronze is very expensive, of course, so the one problem with it is that it can lead to a tendency to cast ‘safe’ pieces that one knows one can get ones money back on.

XETH: Is making your figures life size important to you?

I’m beginning to think that pieces either have to be life size (I have no desire to make humans bigger than they already are, except by a fraction to bring them up to apparent life size), or really quite small so that one almost has to peer in – to project oneself into them.

Alderney Man, 2014, mixed media including cable drums on a former WWII bunker

Alderney Man, 2014, mixed media including cable drums on a former WWII bunker

XETH: Your work has been exhibited in many different settings – do you prefer creating for a particular context?

AG: Most of my work is bought by private individuals, whether that be for their house or their garden.  But the pieces that I’ve got most of a kick out of seeing installed are definitely the ones in public settings.  Unfortunately, most have those have been temporary opportunities, such as at festivals or exhibitions in larger spaces.

I’m also experimenting with coating plaster in resin so I can get this new work outdoors, although I think resin is probably my least favorite material to actually work with – the toxicity, both to oneself and to the environment, is worrying.

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Handcart, 2016, mixed media. Photographer: Colin Hawkins

XETH: Some of your pieces have a feeling of being associated with the afterlife – is this intentional?

AG: No, it’s not intentional but there does seem to be some association… quite a few people have become really attached to a particular piece of work, and then gone on to buy it when they are dealing with a bereavement.  I’m not quite sure what is going on here, but I do have a repeat experience, when confronted with supreme beauty, that it would be ok to die.  Perhaps some of this sense of meeting the sublime comes through in some of the work.

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What It Takes, 2016, mixed media. Photographer: Colin Hawins, 2016

XETH: Your pieces that feature a crowd of people seem to be more loosely formed than those featuring a solitary individual – does this apparent trend hold any weight or meaning?

AG: That’s an interesting observation.  I hate to say it, but on a very practical level, perhaps some of that is due to necessity – the time allowed.

That said, I do find that it’s all too easy for us to see a ‘mass’, rather than see many individuals together.  I am particularly interested in this in relation to the images in the media of refugees coming to Europe in recent years.  The title of a recent piece of eleven walking life size figures, inspired by photographs of refugees walking, was ‘What It Takes’ – I am interested in ‘what it takes’ to recognize a fellow human being.  One just sees a mass of people, in a walking column, or on a boat…  then, there is an interview with one person – just a few seconds for them to say their name, tell their story – and suddenly we see an individual human being, someone who could be us.

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