Ray Chanis one of Leeds most successful entrepreneurs. His company Candy Pants celebrates it’s 10th anniversary this year so we connected with him for The Business show podcast. Read a few excerpts of the interview and listen to the live phone interview as Ray delves into his story, his businesses and also the future of Candy Pants.
So, for the readers who are just finding out about you. Tell us how you got into entrepreneurship?
I was born in Leeds and grew up in Horsforth with a family who were firmly into the restaurant business. My initial dream wasn’ to own a Chinese restaurant as I am always the one known to go against the grain. I fell into what i did by default and i felt like i had a point to prove as regards not going down the family traditional route. Funny enough, my family have gone from asking me when i am going to get a proper job to asking me for business advice.
So, Ray how did you start the business?
Well, Leeds is a very entrepreneurial place and after University all I did was go out every night. I got to know a lot of people and build good relationships, this enabled me to build a strong network and I guess that’s what got me started into events. When i launched Candypants, i felt as though there was a gap in the market, we wanted to target a broad range of professional people in which the night was more commercially led rather than just the music.
What are your main inspirations?
Leeds has alot of people in my sector who have studied in Leeds. For example; Nick House (owner of Mahiki), the guys from Hideout festival, they are from Leeds and the city was a great inspiration for me as the whole vibe was very supportive in my early days. I am a believer that everything happens at it’s own time.
What was the concept behind Candy Pants?
Back in 2008, I felt there was no end destination to party for professionals. The only place were DJ led venues, in with strangers you don’t know and cheap cocktails. There was certainly a gap in the market and thats what we went for! I didn’t have an end goal, I had a vision and a plan but I am also a believer that things happen at the right time and you have to be consistent in building a name and a great reputation in the industry. We started the project in Leeds and it grew to several different countries and we have had a residency in Marbella for ages.
The interview is continued via The Business Podcast. Listen to the full interview by clicking here
Acclaimed British designer Tom Dixon OBE has created The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Capsule Series, which will be previewed at the elegant Teatro Manzoni theatre as part of Dixon’s exhibition at Milan Design Week this week.
Inspired by the rarity, craft and heritage of the luxury Scotch Whisky, the exclusive Johnnie Walker Blue Label Capsule Series by Tom Dixon encompasses a bespoke bottle design, ice bucket, coaster and bottle cap. The copper accents in the Limited Edition Design are characteri
stic of Dixon’s contemporary designs and are also a deliberate nod to the art of whisky-making, the copper theme evoking the pot stills used during whisky distillation.
Speaking about his collaboration with Johnnie Walker at Milan Design Week, Tom Dixon said: “The parallels between Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge and a designer might seem tenuous but when you think of it in terms of taking excellent raw materials and using patience and experimentation to extract a product with real resonance, then you can start to see the similarities.
“I also believe it is important not to remain static – like the Striding Man logo – with all its historic references it still looks contemporary and represents progressing forward and looking to the future. The copper stills, the oak barrels, the supreme expertise needed to produce a classic product – this was all instrumental to my thinking.”
This is the second year that the two pioneers of craft and luxury have partnered at Milan Design Week, following a collaboration in 2016 that saw Dixon create a one-of-a-kind Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle art installation.
Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge said: “What Tom and I each do in our work starts with an idea and an urge to create something meaningful. The ‘ideas’ part is easy, the real challenge is in the trying and the relentless experimentation before, eventually, things begin to come together.
“For me, it is our experience and dedication to our craft that make Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Tom Dixon feel like a really natural fit, and Milan Design Week is a great moment to announce this latest collaboration.”
Nearly half a million people descend on Milan every year to experience the latest in interior furnishings at the largest fair of its kind in the world. Exhibitions pop-up all across the city and attendees can spend five days appreciating the work of the world’s most important contemporary designers.
As part of this year’s collaboration, Johnnie Walker is also hosting mentoring sessions at Teatro Manzoni. Global Brand Ambassador Tom Jones will walk VIPs through the diverse flavours that define the Scotch Whisky and guests will be invited to enjoy a Johnnie Walker cocktail serve at the bar.
Johnnie Walker Global Brand Director Guy Escolme said: “Tom’s expertise and artistic vision make him the perfect person to put his mark on this new design for our pinnacle blend. This collaboration expresses the creativity and passion behind two world-famous luxury brands. It will be available to whisky lovers later in the year.”
The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Capsule Series by Tom Dixon will be available to purchase from October 2017 in selected markets across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, making it the perfect, rare and luxurious gift to give to discerning whisky lovers during the festive season with an RRP from GBP £180.
Chelsea Monthly Newspapertalks to Vicky Madelyn, CEO of Just Cos Catering, on company strategies, running a successful catering business, and dealing with competition.
How did you start Just Cos Catering and what was the inspiration behind starting your own catering business?
My Sister Priscilla and I both bring a combination of 22 years experience in the Catering Industry. We have been the sole caterers for all events at our local church and at friends’ and family’s celebrations. We come from a Large Ghanaian family and brought up in the UK, with celebrations every month, be it birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas, there is always the need to gather to eat. Even though we appreciate our African background, we are influenced by a large array of diverse cultures, the likes of Mediterranean, English, Oriental and Asian to name a few which is reflected in our menus. Our critics have been our children, nieces and nephews who do not hesitate in critiquing our cooking. Our kids have Michelin star palates and we suppose they get this from eating Grandma’s and our cooking.
In August 2011 whilst on vacation in Portugal, we decided to replicate a dish we’d had in a very prestigious restaurant the night before, and got amazing reviews from our Michelin Star Critics who then advised us to quit our day jobs to start Just ‘Cos Catering so that everyone is able to indulge in what they taste every day.
What have been the most exciting projects and events you have done since you started?
Being the official caterers for London Waste Ecopark, we are privileged to be the Caterers for the prestigious Annual London Mayors’ Lunch Event. We have been and still are the caterers for Deluxe Digital Technicolor Christmas events for the past 5 years and of course becoming official partners of this year’s National Film Awards. However the most exciting and challenging project was catering for Professor Stephen Hawking
and his crew at a London Film Studio. When we initially received the call, we thought it was a prank until we received the confirmation email. Professor Hawking follows a gluten free diet with additional dietary requirements, therefore a great challenge, at the same time exciting. We had amazing reviews from the man himself, a very rewarding and awesome experience!
You recently became official catering partner for the 3rd annual National Film Awards and received amazing feedback from your catering, service and delivery. How was that experience for you?
My goodness…. Knowing we were catering for 350 celebrity guests who dine at the finest eateries, we found ourselves again challenged and excited. It was manic but we had a ball through the chaos and worked tirelessly to ensure our guests enjoyed every bite. We are pleased to hear the amazing feedbacks and look forward to many more.
What type of customers do you aim to target with Just Cos Catering and what makes the service you offer different from any other competitors?
All food Lovers! For us it’s about the taste and being personable with our clients. We are a very friendly bunch always smiling and mingling with our guests. We always make them feel at home whilst enjoying a fusion of flavours.
If you have a belly, it’s bound to be filled up with good nourishing wholesome food. We are aware of the stress that comes with this industry however we try not to take the whole business too seriously; it is food after all, so we aim at delivering the best taste, service beyond every expectation with loads of passion and fun. With music always playing in our kitchens, and an atmosphere of culinary explosions you are guaranteed to be taken on a taste bud journey!
Where do you see Just Cos Catering in the next 5 years?
Opening Restaurants, food trucks across London and getting our ‘Just ‘Cos’ Brands in a supermarket near you.
How can clients get in touch with you?
By calling us on 0208 364 0209, 07931134433, 07506720679 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your top 5 tips in providing a top catering service?
1. Understanding every client’s needs and prompt response to email and phone enquiries
2. Never taking criticisms personally and respecting clients’ honest feedback
3. Working your butt off to deliver the taste, service beyond every expectation
4. Passion in everything you do!
5. Enjoying what you do and a service with a smile!
Jess Glynne rose to prominence as a featured artist on Clean Bandit’s single “Rather Be” and Route 94’s “My Love”, both of which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 2014. Her debut solo single, “Right Here”, reached the top ten the same year.
In 2015, she became the second British female solo artist after Cheryl to have five number-one singles in the UK, following her solo releases “Hold My Hand” and “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” and her feature on Tinie Tempah’s “Not Letting Go”. Glynne’s debut album, I Cry When I Laugh, was released in 2015 and debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart. Chelsea Monthly caught up with the songstress as she announced her exclusive competition for a lucky reader to win an opportunity to review her gig next week.
You are donating a percentage of your fee to charity ‘ Retraining of Racehorses (RoR)’, which is being matched by the Jockey Club Live. Why did you pick this charity in particular?
Firstly I love horses and have loved riding from a young age. When I was first approached about playing these dates at racecourses it made me think about what happens to the horses that get injured or just too old to race anymore so I did some research and found out about the charity and the work it does. So when I agreed to the dates I said I’d do them if I could donate some of my fee to the charity. The Jockey Club kindly agreed to match my donation too, which is great.
Are you looking forward to shows at the racecourses- I imagine the set up is a little bit different from your normal shows, as you’ll have horse racing essentially being your support act?
Yes, never had horses as an opening act before. Looking forward to it.
Will you be placing a bet?
I’ll have a look at the runners and riders and see if any names pop out.
You’ve had 5 No.1 singles and your debut album also headed straight in to the number 1 spot. For a debut artist, you’ve had an amazing couple of years; did you think it would happen this quickly, and this big for you?
No it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind and I didn’t expect any of it, I just hoped and prayed for people to enjoy the music I was making. Being able to take my music around the world, through Europe, down to Australia and across to America has been insane and a real a dream come true.
Speaking of which, you’re playing Sandown Park Racecourse with thousands of people snapping up your tickets in a few short weeks and other courses are following suit. Are you surprised with the reaction you have been getting, as we can’t imagine you get to visit Surrey often?
I am always surprised and overwhelmed when I hear things like that. It’s never a normal feeling. They are not regular stops on tour but I’m looking forward to all of them.
Have you ever visited racecourses before or followed any races growing up? Any experience of horses?
I loved horse riding when I was growing up and used to go all the time. I have been to Ascot a couple of times, which was a laugh with my friends but race wise that’s about it for me.
Your performance at the Brits was spectacular, did this give us an insight into what we expect from a large outdoor summer Jess Glynne show? Do you have anything special planned for these dates?
Yes, the Brits was fun. I’m just finishing rehearsals now for all the summer shows coming up and I’m super excited! We’ve made some changes to the show and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have planned.
Can you give us an idea of your set list- have you noticed any songs fans react particularly well too?
You’re going to have to wait and see.. I’m sure there will be a fair few songs in there that you will know.
Are you working on album no.2 yet? Anything you can tell us, who you are writing or working with?
I’m always writing – I keep all these ideas on my phone-and I’ve started writing a bit but it’s early days yet. When I’m not touring this summer and afterwards I will be back in the studio.
JESS GLYNNE PLAYS SANDOWN PARK RACECOURSE ON 13TH JULY 2016
COMPETITION TIME: Chelsea Monthly in association with Phonaudio are providing one lucky reader plus guest an opportunity to review next week’s Jess Glynne concert at Sandown for Chelsea Monthly. To be in with an opportunity to win a pair of review tickets for Chelsea Monthly. Answer the question below,
What was Jess Glynne’s first ever commercial top 10 single?
Send your answers, together with your full name, contact number and date of birth to; David@chelseamonthly.com
Deadline for the competition is 12pm , Saturday, the 9th of July 2016
Disclaimer: All applicants have to be over 18 or accompanied by an Adult. Tickets are review tickets only, no additional travel/accommodation costs are included.
From a colourful past to nurturing a colourful present. Lincoln Townley has defied all odds by literally overcoming a life of sex, drugs, and alcohol to become an Artist who was recently described by renowned Actor, Sir Michael Caine as “the new Warhol”. So, who is Lincoln Townley? That´s the burning question that sprung to mind when I encountered echoes of his recent success. Luckily enough, he was in London last week so I popped into Soho Hotel to get an insight behind the enigma that is Townley.
Reading about you I was excited because your encounter with the art world is not through the traditional approach. However, your story is an inspiration, which portrays the perception that anyone with passion can use art as a vehicle to inspire change in his or her own life. You have also written a memoire called The Hunger. Could you give us an insight on your past?
When I was 8 years old, I would spend weekends with my grandfather who was an engineer and a self-taught painter. We would go out during the day and he would get me to draw people’s faces with charcoals. He taught me to cut wood, make stretchers, stretch the canvas and prime it to then start to paint.
From the age of 10 to 13 I was painting faces, I would go out to sketch then go back to the studio with my grandfather and the emphasis was to be able to think about what I had seen and express it in my own way.
When I was about 13 years old I wanted to go out with other boys rather than being with my grandfather. It all started to take its own path, probably the wrong direction. At the age of 15, girls come into the scene and when I was 18 I had my first child.
My father died of a heart attack and I had to work to support my son and help my mother. We lived in a council house in North London and we didn’t have anything.
Later on I got into sales, in my late teens I started working as an estate agent, and then moved into the transport industry. After 14 years working there I decided to do something completely different, I knew Peter Stringfellow, who is a businessman and nightclub owner, for 10 years already. He offered me to work selling the strip club and I accepted. At the time I was single so I moved into a flat in Old Compton street, in Soho.
From that point I started drinking, doing a lot of drugs, and from the nature of working in a strip club I had become probably the worst womanizer known to man.
I would be drinking from 2 o’clock in the afternoon, operating in the nightclub, sitting clients and looking after them. The club would close at 3-4a.m. when I would usually go to another bar, drink more and go back to my flat to paint.
I was being consumed by it and by the fourth year of all this I started to get drawn out anxieties. In the real height of my madness I used to do paintings and push them under my bed. I would find them the next morning and never remember painting them.
So we know about the dark side of your paintings. But where does your artistic influences come from?
My grandfather opened my eyes to art, and it was a baptism of fire. There was nothing classical about the way my grandfather painted. He used to paint very aggressively, and his portraits were quite scary, he would never show his work.
The bedrock of my painting is through Francis Bacon, those images where stuck in my subconscious, and I think I picked it them out when I was in Soho. It was the beginning of me wanting to use art as a cathartic way to express the demons I had in my head.
There is an evolution to my work, from the abstract expressionism of Francis Bacon to Pop-art, Andy Warhol and the way things are marketed. There are two sides to my work, one is from my subconscious, and the other comes from a desire to consume; my latest collection is called Consumption. Those expressional paintings represent the idea that we end up consumed by what we try to consume. When I lived in Soho, I wanted everything, I was poisoned and lost track of what life is really about.
Would you say art gave you a reason to change your life?
Soho was swallowing me up. I wasn’t going to be able to survive, I needed to stop drinking and using drugs and clean up and make something of my life. This was only 4 years ago.
I wrote a series of small stories, to look at why I behaved the way that I did. The Hunger was a mechanism that allowed me to create visuals through paintings.
One day my literary agent came around and I had a painting on the side of girl, a prostitute in Soho. She then asked me: where did you get that from? She was surprised to find out I painted it, and told me to put my work out there, promote it and talk about it.
This is a really big part of where I am today… by then I had probably painted around 80 paintings. My plan was to make something out of this, get the book published and get my paintings out there.
What challenges did you face during the initial stages?
I think it was the hardest time of being told I couldn’t do something, and that was part of the reason I was so determined to make this work.
I would go into a gallery with my portfolio and the manuscript from my book and before my work was looked at I would be asked, where were you trained? and told “ You are not going to be able to do it because your not trained in art, you haven’t gone to Goldsmiths or Saint Martins, we are not going to be interested.”
Once I went into a gallery, got a painting out and the manager of the gallery laughed at me turning towards her colleagues and said “You are in the wrong place” I didn’t stop and kept going. I am lucky and very determined. For me every NO is nearer to a YES.
I can imagine how challenging your artistic journey must have been, so how did you manage to overcome the initial rejections?
At that time I was working as a publicist for two hotels, I used the money I was earning to hire an exhibition space at the Riflemaker, in Beak Street. I advertised the show and contacted people I knew from when I was running the club in Soho. I exhibited 15 paintings and sold all of them in two days. That is when I met one of my biggest collectors, David Sullivan.
No doubt your life is an example of perseverance and self-confidence that reaches across…
We are in Soho right now, Soho is known for sex, drugs and alcohol everything that you left behind, now that your emerged in the art world how has this changed your perception on this area of London?
When I gave up drinking I had to move away form Soho. Once you become addicted to alcohol and drugs I don’t think it ever leaves you. It is a constant reminder and I think there are energies in the world that you pick up that will make you feel strangely confortable and then very uncomfortable.
So, where do you paint now and in which conditions?
I have been working in a garage for 3 years. I don’t work anywhere else. I have one strip light above my head. Its like a bomb is gone off in it. But that is the environment I need, I need chaos, I need to be able to feel at home there, I need my man cave in order to produce this images.
No one else gets involved with my artistic process. There is a big satisfaction from knowing that I go from bits of wood, a bare canvas to creating a painting. The enjoyment factor in the process is that moment I actually know I have captured the image of someone.
What makes you choose famous figures as your Motif for portraits?
I have always been really interested in people’s faces and expression. My grandfather always used to tell me that when I feel that I want to paint someone it is usually for a good reason.
When I paint famous people I am looking at the person, not at the characters they play. In most cases, people are always acting. When you meet someone for the first time they show you what you want to see.
One of the reasons why I started the ICONS collection is because I wanted to be able to portray people, the way I think they are seen, with barriers and I am interested in that.
Do you now feel welcome in the art sphere?
Yes, overwhelmingly welcome. It is strange to think four years ago I was breaking the top of a suitcase to fit my portfolio, wheeling it from one gallery to another with no luck, and now I am approached by galleries who want to know more about my work. In October I will be doing a 6 year retrospective of my work at the Saatchi Gallery, in Chelsea.
Andy Warhol said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” 2016 is already turning out to become a successful year for you as we just found out you were commissioned to do a portrait on the BAFTA recipients. Now, is that part of your overall strategy as an artist?
Yes, if I sell my art I can make more art. You’ve got to think like a businessman when you’re away from the canvas. When I am in front of the canvas and painting I am not thinking about selling it, only when I finish I think about selling it. I painted six honourees for BAFTA LA in two weeks, I didn’t leave the garage for 4 days, I would sleep on a small arm chair in the garage. That’s what it takes, that is the commitment.
Recently you did a painting for one of our local icons, here in Chelsea Sir Michael Caine… how did all this come about?
When I was working with BAFTA in October, I went to their offices and saw a black and white photograph of Michael Caine. I painted him as Alfie (1966) and as Harry Brown (2009), in effect trying to cocoon him in film. I finished it just after Christmas, showed to a friend who showed it to Shakira (Michaels wife). I then got an email from her saying Michael loved the painting and that he wanted to meet me.
When we met up he said some amazing things; I was sort of blown away. He said I knew Andy Warhol, he used to paint those soup cans and we all used to think what is he doing? He said to me he thought I was the next Andy Warhol.
You have 197.000 followers on twitter, we can now see the effects that social media has had on the creative industries, so what role would you say social media has had in your development as an artist so far?
Huge, I started using social media to express the way I felt about my art. People go into my twitter account, and see I have a lot of followers, different artist, curators, art dealers, galleries, when they see my outreach they become curious about what I do. In a way I am creating my own news line, building that community in social media gets more people interested in you.
What are your future plans as an artist?
Well I am doing a show of all the original ICONS, at the Royal Academy on the 2nd of June. I am using that as a platform to launch the ICONS into other countries, currently looking at Saint Petersburg, the Middle East, Dubai, New York… I am currently in a gallery at Beverly Hills, called Art Angels, they hold my ICONS work there and also in a gallery in Mayfair.
Are you hungry to explore new mediums of art?
At the moment I have just started talking to a production company, about making The Hunger into a film, its something that I have taken on board in the last week. I am 43 now, if I look further along the line by the time I am 50 my goal is to have made a film about the human spirit.
Lastly, bearing in mind there has been a massive change within several sectors of the creative industry that have had an impact of how its distributed, marketed and consumed. What is your personal opinion on the way the art world will look like in the future?
I think that the thought of someone walking through the door to come and view a piece of art in the wall is over. I believe the traditional ways in which art has been sold, will soon disappear. I think you need to use the social media environment even if you start with one follower. One day someone is going to look at what you do and be really interested and curious about it.
Your creativeness in selling is just as important as what you create, that is the one thing I would say to anyone.
Joana Groba Casillas, 23, has just completed her masters’ degree at Chelsea college of Art and Design, displaying a piece titled Identitatis at the postgraduate summer show. As migrants attempt to find safety away from the current warzone in Syria, it has touched the hearts of many, and inspired Joana to show the other side of the ocean. Born in Columbia but residing in Madrid throughout most of her life, it is a passionate topic for her. She tells Chelsea Monthly all about her recent exhibition, the inspirations for it and what’s next for her conceptual work.
Can you tell us a bit more about your piece?
The piece that I did was for the MA fine art show at Chelsea. It’s an installation, which has two pieces, a video and a mural. It’s adapted to a specific space of 5mx5m and one of the walls has a mirror vinyl attached. The projection of the sea is projected into that mirror and reflected back into a mural made out of concrete.
How did you come up with that idea?
It’s a whole year investigation; I started researching about identity and origins of ethnicity. And I ended up with the concept of migration and identity on the migration. Especially with the whole situation in Spain and the south of Europe with migration and the constant cases of people travelling and passing away trying to cross the ocean. Because I live in Spain, I go to the coast quite often. I guess the concept of the sea is quite different and I was able to interview someone that was in contact with that situation. His concept of the sea was completely different; he would say that the sea was a graveyard and because he was there helping people get out of boats, I guess that was strong imagery. Most people don’t see that, they see a relaxing environment, peaceful even. When it actually doesn’t completely reflect that.
You can tell that a lot of thought has gone into your piece; you even incorporated the seawater that contains the DNA of deceased migrants?
I mixed the water of the Mediterranean with the cement, so the actual cement would contain that water and it would be concrete. The sea that is projected is also the sea of the Mediterranean.
How did the exhibition go?
I think it went pretty well, the preview on the first night was pretty full. I think that was the worst night for people to actually see work because there were too many people. But I had really good feedback, even to the last day there were quite a lot of people coming through.
So, this piece has taken you a year to complete along with the idea?
This concept was a bit more recent because I had been exploring more of the concept of ethnicity and classification.
Have you come across any struggles with this exhibition?
Oh, yes! First of all the size. This was the first time I’d actually used concrete. I had serveral problems with the ratio of water and because its sea water I guess the hardness varies, so you have to do several trials. And then once you do there’s the weight, to move it around and find a wall that’s strong enough for it to lean over.
Are there any artists that inspired this idea?
It’s not so much the idea, but the way of portraying all of this, its conceptual rather than literal. For Adrian Piper, Santiago Sierra and Dora Garcia, its more about the concept than the actual idea, I guess any artist that works in this way was a big inspiration.
What’s been your favourite piece that you’ve worked on?
I have several different lines of work; this is all about identity and origins. And I did several urban interventions for Space, public space and the concept of exclusion, where I take ground and reconfigure pathways. That was fun because you get to see the reactions of people when they avoid or play around with those marks in the ground.
Are you working on anything right now?
I quite interested in continuing working with the cement. But its not like I follow a pattern, my pieces don’t have similarities in the materials from one piece to another, it’s more about the concept that actually flows.
Do you have any more exhibitions aligned for the coming months?
Well right now I’m looking forward to moving back to London mid October time. I’m staying with a couple of MA students to curate a show outside of Chelsea, but that would be around November time. But yeah any show that comes up really. We’re also working with Chelsea salon.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I would want to project myself, seeing myself working in Madrid, well not working but establishing Madrid by producing more for either London or New York. I would probably like to be associated with a particular gallery and push myself like Oscar Murillo did.
Is Oscar Murillo someone that you look up to?
Yeah, he’s a young Columbian artist, that made smart choices enabling him to become well recognised. He was selected by one of the most influential curators at the moment, Okwui Enwezor for the Venice Biennale 2015.
What enticed you to come over to London for your postgraduate degree?
There is more opportunity for showing work and exhibiting, but also its more open to a younger market. It’s a big city, which is constantly alive. The vibe pushed me to want to go to London.
Have you received any negative feedback that may have deterred your ambitions?
With my work they usually don’t tell you. Someone recently said it was too conceptual. But art is changing a lot, it’s diverting into that art that is commercial and conceptual. The work that is shown for the experience of watching or seeing, whereas others are made to observe as it’s hanging in your living room.
What made you want to study art? Has it always been a passion?
Yeah, there was never a moment I doubted that this was what I wanted.
Do you have any advice for other budding artists?
Apply to everything you can, every contest, every residency, everything you can. most importantly always be honest with everything you do!
It’s not often that you hear about a psychologist staring a career in music. But that is the story of Swiss-born Miel de Botton. We were so intrigued here at Chelsea Monthly that we braved the cold weather on a late October Wednesday evening to meet with the trained psychologist turned singer/songwriter Miel de Botton.
What can you tell us about your soon to be released album ‘Magnetic’?
It’s a beautiful album, which is divided into two parts. One is made up of revisited traditional French ‘chansons’; the second half is of my own songs that are written in both English and French. The Album is to be released, on the 1st of February 2015.
Having listened to your album, I find that there isn’t a predominant genre throughout, is that because you don’t identify yourself to a singular genre?
I guess I like many genres, I think there is a variety there that reflects the variety in my taste.
Tell us about ‘Bad Men’ your latest single, what is it about? Is there a message behind the song? Was there a specific person in mind when you wrote it?
It was about moments in my life in which men were being difficult, and so I got it out of my system with this song and the message is for other women to do the same, to forgive. Forgiveness is shown in the music video when I refuse to shoot the ‘Bad Men’. I also believe that there are bad women out there, I’ve been a bad woman too, so this song is all about questioning oneself as well as everything is not all one sided.
You recently released the music video for ‘Bad Men’, where was the music video filmed? What sort of experience was it for you? Where did the idea of the western theme come?
The song was born when my producer, Andy Wright, was strumming with his guitar and came up with an arrangement, and I instantly though the song had an incredible western feel to it. As soon as we started getting the song together I could really visualise the video set in the Wild West. It was an incredible experience for me, very intense, but we were very well looked after. The whole experience was exhilarating; it was like being in a time warp. And having been filmed in Spain, on the set of a ‘Fistful of Dollars’, one of the greatest westerns of all time, directed by cinema legend Sergio Leone (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West), added an almost overwhelming historical value to my video and the overall experience.
Bad Men Video:
You are a trained psychologist, how does a psychologist end up releasing and album? Has that experience in anyway affected your song writing?
It was part of my progression. I do believe that both music and psychology can be linked, and music can be healing, and that is what I look for in music and what I want my music to be. This album was also healing for me, helping me channel my emotions. I’ve gone through a range of emotions that I’ve conveyed through my songs. So whether it be unhappy love affairs that I express in Bad Men, or the remedies to bad men in ‘Magnetic’ and ‘Vivement la joie’.
Is this a start of a new career for you? Or is this just you fulfilling a life long dream?
I would say this is both a new career and a childhood dream, and this is not a one off project, it is something I can carry on with.
Have you always liked making music? When did you discover this passion of yours? Do you play any instruments?
I play the piano, but I prefer singing. I’ve always been surrounded by music growing up, always been transported by music, even by classical music which was playing around my house a lot. We would often go to concerts and opera. I’ve been exposed to a lot of different kinds of music and I would always remember all the lyrics, which showed how much music meant to me.
You say you got most of your inspiration from 40’s and 50’s French variety, what makes that era so attractive to you?
I think it’s the romance, the passion and the fact that love is expressed in a very intense way, but is always delicate. I am just a massive romantic and that is why 40’s Paris appeals to me. This love of post-war romanticism start when my father would sing “Mon amant de Saint Jean” and “Nuit de Chine” to me as a child.
Having lived in Paris, did living there live up to the picture painted by the songs of Brel and Piaf?
I found that as a student, I really could abandon myself to imagining that the old and the new Paris had merged. But when I started working there, life became more hectic, and I struggled to see my vision from before.
One song stood out for me in the samples you offer on your website, and that song was ‘Je ne regrette rien”. Where did you get your inspiration for the Caribbean style reinvention of the song?
That was one of the crucial elements of the album that I insisted on. My producer wasn’t as enthusiastic as me about it, but it was very important to me. It’s a refreshing take on the song; it’s about being relaxed and not having any regrets.
Tell us a bit about recording with producing legend Andy Wright. Am I right in assuming he helped you discover you song writing talents?
It was fabulous, he is a very grounded yet immensely talented, which made the whole recording process all the more fascinating. Being able to watch such a gifted man at work was very fulfilling. He was very organised, very meticulous, and all the chord arrangements were gorgeous.
Initially, the album was only meant to be covers of French chansons. One day, while recording, Andy and I sat down and he encouraged me to have a go at song writing. We worked together at first, he walked me through the process, and he then sent me home for the weekend to finish the song, to write something genuine, that he could believe. So I went home, I cried my eyes out, and wrote ‘Beautiful You’. I’m truly grateful for Andy, and all the support he gave me.
Half the songs on the album are covers of French classics, where do you get the inspiration for your original material?
It was different for every song. A few of the songs were commissioned. The creative process was therefore slightly different, whereby you focus your thoughts on a specific subject and try to get it full of your own emotion and poetry. Compared to my other original songs, which were just free, were all about different moments in my life.
What music do you listen to today, what is your favourite album to have been released this year?
Hard to say, there are so many. I listen to the charts with my daughter, but I also love listening to Bob Dylan, Barbara Streisand, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin and a whole range of other artists and genres.
Tell us a bit about your gig at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital.
Every Thursday the hospital organises an artistic performance (music or acting), part of their healing arts program. It was a fantastic experience, and at the end someone came up and gave me flowers and I was asked to sign autographs. It was all very surreal.
Where can we expect to see you up until the release?
I’ll be doing the album launch at the Southbank Centre in the Purcell Room, on the 27th of January.
Do you have a tour planned after the release?
Yes, there are a few events planned over the year, although the specific have not been finalised, we have been contacted by venues in the US, UK and France.
We will make sure to keep an eye out for the very promising and talented Miel De Botton.
What kick started your filming/photography career? I was lucky enough to study film and television production in high school in Australia and instantly found my passion. I had an amazing teacher who encouraged me and helped me find the right course to continue my studies and meet people in the industry.
How would you describe your style? I would describe my photography style as balanced, honest, vibrant and creative. With filming, I find my style changes with each project.
Where do you get your inspiration from? I get my inspiration from my surroundings. I am always observing and enjoy noticing little things people often miss as they rush about London.
What are your top 3 career highlights to date? When I had finished university I was very fortunate to work on a music video that was directed by Russell Crowe. As you can imagine it was an incredible experience. In 2010 I was fortunate to be part of a global advert. I was working with two friends and together we got flown around the world. It was an amazing adventure. Finally, nothing beats seeing your work on the big screen. I was lucky to attend the London City Film Festival this year and watch a short film that I shot on the big screen with a full audience.
What is your favourite computer/editing accessory? I love my Macbook pro and use Aperture and Final Cut for editing.
How important is the editing process to you? Editing is a crucial step. For photography it is the final step to finishing a picture. Video editing can drastically change a story. Timing is essentially in creating the right atmosphere for your tale.
What has been the best event you covered? Best event I have covered, that is tough. I believe every event is unique and I give it my all. I have been booked to cover a wedding in Saudi Arabia and feel extremely excited and privileged to be able to document such a special occasion.
If you would be able to collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? I would love to collaborate with Alfred Hitchcock. I have grown up watching his films. He is an excellent director and storyteller.
What is your dream shoot? My dream shoot would be working with a passionate group of likeminded people where time and budget where not an issue. Maybe in a warm exotic location.
If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home? I do believe home is where the heart is. I grew up in Australia but London has been my home for the last 10 years. I would like to try America but as long as I am surround by friends home can be anywhere.
What kick started your filming career?
When I was a kid, I would watch Stallone’s films, and I remember enjoying both thriller and horror, I would actually watch the same movie over and over again. I believe I was very young when I realised I would love to be a part of that world. I decided to become an actor, attended Arts and Dramatic school in Milan for three years learning acting, singing and dubbing skills. While filming as an extra, I would usually ask to see the other side of the camera and completely fell in love with the backstage of cinema, understanding in the meantime that acting wasn’t full filing me as much as the back scene. I then attended the Institute European Design in Milan graduating with a 2:1 in Direction and Video Production.
How would you describe your style? I like to believe I am a mixture between Tim Burton’s and Kubrick. Burton’s movies are very dark, gothic and quite quirky. Kubrick’s cinematography, is very dazzling and unique, he has an extreme attention to detail when it comes to realism, and he knows how to work with the soundtrack of his
movies. I quite pick and mix a variety of genres, as crime, drama, comedy, adaptations, thriller, horror. And I have a found love for noir.
Where do you get your inspiration from? It would be very difficult to point one or another, but my first great three would be Alfred Hitchcock,
Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton.
What are your top 3 career highlights to date?
I worked for Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas 2012) as an Assistant for “International”. I am pretty proud of taking part on a short movie as DOP that won the best student movie in the Monarch Film Festival in California.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory?
Final Cut and I really enjoy working with Adobe Premiere.
How important is the editing process to you? It’s when I edit that I actually feel that I am creating something that belongs to me, as no editing and editor is the same, and my eyes don’t see the same as yours. It works both ways. I forget the world while editing. I find it fun and relaxing.
What has been the best event you ever covered? I filmed the National TV event in London for ITV. It was my first big coverage and I loved getting to know ao many people in the industry.
If you would be able to collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Alfred Hitchcock or Wes Anderson.
What is your dream shoot? Aerial Shoot, using the most sophisticated equipments.
If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home? In California or on a Island. The sea relaxes me.
What kick started your filming/photography career?
– It started just as a hobby, taking photos of my own pets and going out with some friends but after a while, I had the opportunity to do some work in Carnival for a studio and that was the start of my professional career.
How would you describe your style?
– I consider it to be relaxed, non invasive and laid back but always adapting to each individual situation. Every shoot is different, even if the model is the same, I believe that it’s best not to put unnecessary pressure as it only leads to getting people nervous and uncomfortable and it shows in the pictures.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
– I had a good mentor, who pointed me in the right direction regarding photographic techniques and lighting. From that point, I just feel that I need to keep looking for ways that my work stands out. I just don’t want to be just another standard photographer.
What are your top 3 career highlights to date?
– It’s hard to choose highlights but I guess that mine are the time I photographed the previous prime minister from Portugal, in which I had the pleasure to chat with him for a bit. Other highlight is the exclusive coverage of the 2nd Madeira Wine Festival, a festival that aims to promote the Madeira Wine both locally and also overseas, with photos and small video clips. and finally but not easier, was being invited by the regional civil defence institute to do the live broadcast online of a conference promoted in their headquarters.
What is your favourite computer/editing accessory?
– The software that I use the most is the Adobe Lightroom. I think that it is a great tool, especially when shooting in RAW. About the computer, I haven’t converted to Mac like most photographers I know.
What has been the best event you covered?
– I really enjoyed covering the celebrations of the Portuguese air force when they were done in Madeira Island instead of the Mainland as usual. But I also enjoyed covering the NRTA 2014, so I guess it’s a tie here.. can’t really point out the best one for me.
If you would be able to collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
-There’s an American photographer, Jasmine Star, who specializes in destination weddings, I really like her work and I’d love to have an opportunity to meet her and even work alongside her.
What is your dream shoot?
– It’s so hard for me to answer this.. I think that my dream shoot would be the one that could carry my name and work for generations to come.. something that leave a long lasting impression.
If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
– That’s easy.. I’d built it Madeira Island, where I was born, in some family land where my grandmother and my mother were born. I would build my house there and enjoy being surrounded by nature and fresh air all the time. So peaceful, it’s like being in paradise.
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