Is Fashion School a Worthy Investment?

The global fashion is currently valued at 3 trillion dollars, making up 2% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Traditionally favoured by those with sartorial flair, fashion is now being scene as a potential moneymaker, with high-end companies such as Chanel boasting brand values in the region of $8 billion. Because it is so intricately tied in with glamour and celebrity, fashion is fast becoming an interesting career choice for creatives. According to The World University Rankings, the UK is currently the world’s top destination for fashion students, with British institutions accounting for five of the 10 best BA and MA programmes in the Business of Fashion’s (BoF’s) world list of top fashion courses.

 

Fashion Education is Booming

Students today have many more options when it comes to a degree in fashion than they did just a decade ago. In the UK, for instance, the London College of Fashion recently launched a new Fashion Business School, where students learn about much more than designing garments, “Projects can range from future forecasting to creating a limited edition range of footwear and accessories or even looking for the response to a burning issue in sustainability. And our students of media and communications know all about promoting the outcomes of these projects,” claims the school. Today, there are many options for those who study fashion; rather than focusing merely on product design, they can use skills obtained to work in a plethora of roles, including marketing, social media, sales, and production management.

 

What ROI can an Education in Fashion Provide?

Central Saint Martins and The Royal College of Art have officially been deemed the top two schools in the BoF Global Fashion School of Rankings. Interestingly, the BoF notes that among the over 4,000 students who participated in their survey, most were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with aspects such as the teaching, study materials, and campuses. However, they were less satisfied with the support offered to find employment. Many students have to raise finances for their schooling through bank loans or loans from family, and wish there was more help from their educational institutions once their degree was over.

 

What is the Solution?

The BoF suggests that top fashion institutions should place greater emphasis on career options, increasing student awareness on possible options through career fairs and similar events. They also note that there is an oversupply of graduates from the fashion sector, with only one in seven UK students finding employment as designers in 2014. However, they noted another interesting statistic: around 85% of fashion school graduates did find jobs in the industry, though not necessarily as designers.

 

Success Stories

There is no doubt that studying at a prestigious institution can open doors. Thus, studying at the UK’s top school or other European stalwarts such as the Istituto Europeo di Design in Italy or the Institut Français de la Mode in France can mean a chance to work as an intern at high-end firms such as Marni, Louis Vuitton, or Reem Acra. Students should be prepared to work in departments they aren’t necessarily interested in. At top fashion companies based in London, Milan, or Paris, movement is possible and students can find that time spent in sales or administration is a small investment for a career in fashion.

 

Advice from Experts

In a recent article in The Guardian, editor-at-large of Refinery UK noted that practical experience and building contacts were key to making it in the fashion world. In the same article, a host of experts recommended attending fairs, considering a placement year, starting local, and looking for alternative routes; everything from garment tech to pattern cutting. Creativity is also key; students should look for ways to start one’s own business rather than form part of the vast group of job applicants who send their CVs to a handful of established firms. Building a name for oneself through a beautiful, well-thought-out Instagram account is also important. Social media has made many a star in areas as vastly different as music, art, and literature. 

Fashion school continues to boast a good employment rate, though changes need to be made both in the way students are guided towards a career in their final years, and in students’ expectations. Students should realise that the aim is to make it into a firm that offers them the opportunity to work in a variety of departments. That is, they may begin in sales or marketing, and eventually work their way to product. Many students actually find abilities they did not previously know they had in areas such as communication and media. There are many roads to success, so keeping an open mind in this time of high supply is key.

Rhys Lewis – From tour to studio with FAULT Magazine

Photography: Jack Alexander 

Words: Miles Holder

Late last year we caught up with Rhys Lewis  on his European tour, finished with his critically acclaimed tour, we were recently treated to new music in the form of single ‘No Right To Love You’. The heartbreaking tune encapsulates exactly why Rhys’ artistry in songwriting is so beloved; it’s intimate, he’s vulnerable and when performed live, it captures everyone in the room. Now back in the studio, no doubt working on even more hits, we caught up with Rhys to discuss his writing process, touring and all things FAULT.

 

You’ve just come off a whirlwind tour, what’s this stage of being a performer like for you? Are you in a rush to get back into the studio or will you be taking it slow?

Yeah, I’ve definitely got a case of ‘tour blues’ but I’m in a great place at the minute. I’ve never felt more confident and comfortable walking out on stage as I have the past few weeks whilst touring. You get into a rhythm playing the same set every night, you start to discover new ways of playing the songs, small moments that you can turn into something more memorable. And having the band behind me is really special for me, they are all way better musicians than I am so I’ve felt quite inspired playing with them every night.

But it’s been straight back to the studio for me. Finishing off some songs I started working on before the tour, and writing some new ones! The album is pretty much written but I feel like I’m writing the best stuff I’ve ever written at the minute so it’s hard to commit to 12 songs when I’m still in a bit of a zone creatively.

 

What tour dates really surprised you? Were there any dates which just didn’t go how you expected for the better?

They all did to be honest! I couldn’t believe how many people showed up to the shows, in quite random places too. We played lots of small Dutch towns and I was really worried we were going to be playing to a lot of empty rooms, but I was overwhelmed by the support, felt like my first proper tour in that respect! Highlights would be Rotown in Rotterdam and the last show of the European tour in Paris!

 

Any that went worse?

Belgium was the only show that was a bit though. I had a lot of sound issues on stage that were not there in soundcheck for some reason. It really put me off and I made so many mistakes, probably not that noticeable but once I’d lost focus I found it hard to enjoy annoyingly. Only about 80 showed up and it was rather large room so it didn’t look great either haha, but probs for the best considering I didn’t play so well…!

 

Do you do much writing on tour? Some artists like to switch off and split their performing and writing time and others like to do both at the same time, which one Arte you?

This tour I didn’t do any writing actually, we didn’t have much time off and when we did we all just needed to chill or do laundry (rock and roll…). The drives on this tour were filled with crosswords and Mariokart on the Nintendo switch. But on previous tours without the band I’ve had a lot of time on my own and I do really enjoy writing when I’m in that kind of situation. Being in new places every day you end up thinking quite differently, and the perspective you have on your own life changes. So I’ve found writing quite rewarding on tour when I’ve got more time by myself. I actually wrote Reason To Hate You and Bad Timing on the last support tour I did.

 

Some of your music is really heart-wrenching like ‘Be Your Man’ and ‘Reason To Hate You’ have really piercing messages, are they written from personal experiences?

Yeah sorry, they are both quite depressing songs! They were both written from personal experience, although I borrowed some emotion for Reason To Hate You from a friend who was going through something similar at the time. I told him about the song and he opened up about what he was going through and it really helped me get deeper into the sentiment of the song.

 

If so, how do you cope with singing about your lowest moments over and over again on tour?

It’s a very odd feeling. There are a few songs that are so personal that when I’m singing them I feel almost a bit embarrassed or vulnerable. But the writing process is actually quite cathartic, and by the time the song is out it’s not as raw or as painful a feeling as it was when I was writing. So I’d be lying if I said I still connected to the emotion of those songs every single night. Sometimes I really feel every word, other times I’m worrying about something random or my mind is miles away and I’m wondering what time lobby call is tomorrow morning. I try to stay present and connect with the songs and the crowd as much as I can, but I found this tour that some shows I just didn’t, for one reason or another, fall into that zone and lose myself in the performance. Maybe it’s partly because those songs are so emotionally draining when I do connect with them.

 

What else do you have planned for the rest of 2018?

Festivals, another tour, some time with family and friends, a few writing trips and maybe a holiday. I need to start learning to drive too, one of my New Years resolutions was to pass my driving test. Still not even booked a lesson…here’s to 2019…

 

What is your FAULT?

I think too much.

 

Wireless Festival 2018 set to be the best yet

 

Entering its 13th year, Wireless Festival 2018 is ready to continue its dominance of the London day festival scene. Taking place across 6th, 7th, 8th July, this year’s iteration sees the heavyweights you hear on Spotify every day making their way to Finsbury Park. It’s proved to be the hottest ticket in London town, with all 3 days sold out.

Friday sees the return of J Cole as a headliner to the main stage. Since his appearance in 2016, he’s released two albums both topping the charts in the US. Friday also sees the return of Post Malone, who has had an incredible 2018 with his album Beerbongs & Bentleys breaking the first day streaming records on Spotify. Supported by PARTYNEXTDOOR, Big Sean and British behemoths Wretch 32 and Wiley, Friday promises to kick the weekend off in style.

Man of the moment and king of grime Stormzy take the stage to headline on Saturday. From a late afternoon appearance in 2015 away from the main stage, Stormzy’s elevation to the main stage speaks volume of the impact he’s had on the music scene since. He’s supported by hip hop’s power group Migos and Stormzy’s heir apparent to the throne, J Hus.


Closing out the festival will be DJ Khaled and friends, with some exciting surprises in store for festival-goers. The notable headliner is supported by revered grime artist Grime and the energetic Lil Uzi Vert.

Each day sees a whole host of emerging British talent taking the stage from 3.30pm onwards, including Mist, Kojo Funds, Big Shaq and Mostack to name a few.

For those lucky enough to grab their ticket, it promises to be a stunning weekend. And one which will leave people already looking ahead to Wireless 2019.

World Gin Day: The Big Session

Celebrate World Gin in Style this year with The Big Session curated by BULLDOG Gin

 

The BIG Session, curated by BULLDOG Gin in aid of Nordoff Robbins, takes place at the infamous Printworks on Wednesday 6th June. With top international DJ’s.

Gorgon City headlining the session alongside the legendary Tom Findlay of Groove Armada, Housekeeping (HI Ibiza) and Siggy Smalls (Hed Kandi); The BIG Session celebrates World Gin Day on 9th June in style this year.

BULLDOG Gin will be curating a session that not only boasts a great line up of world renowned DJ’s, but also supports the valuable work that Nordoff Robbins does with and alongside the music industry through the proceeds of the event.*

The largest independent music therapy charity in the UK, Nordoff Robbins, brings life-changing music therapy to as many people as possible through the delivery of high-quality music therapy services; their Masters-level music therapy training; and their dedicated research to enrich, strengthen and demonstrate the effectiveness of their work.

Always a brand that behaves differently, BULLDOG Gin is known for its injection of energy into the world of gin. Continuing its admired support for the world of music, BULLDOG Gin has curated a bespoke and intimate concert in the lead up to World Gin day. Kicking the evening off will be Siggy Smalls followed by the extremely popular DJ collective, Housekeeping.

Go see it for yourself on Wednesday 6 th June and raise a BULLDOG Gin & Tonic or a bespoke cocktail and toast World Gin Day a bit differently this year.

Ticket purchase information:
Donation to Nordoff Robins: £5.00-£10.00
Link: The Big Session

LIVE DEFIANTLY. DRINK RESPONSIBLY.

MNEK roars back with exclusive FAULT Magazine Photoshoot and new video ft. Hailee Steinfeld

Words & Photography: Miles Holder

Styling: Edith Walker Millwood

Grooming:Bianca Simone Scott

Styling Assistants: Leslie & Felicia

 

MNEK returns today with a brand new track from his upcoming debut album! It’s hard to imagine, but despite years of releasing hits to the world, MNEK is still only 23 years old. New track entilted ‘Colour’ also features vocals from Hailee Steinfeld. We sat down with MNEK to talk all things music, his big battles and look to what will no doubt be, an even brighter future.

 

In other interviews, you’ve mentioned never having a figure like yourself in the industry, is it harder to pen an album when you don’t have a reference to learn from? 

I think when I say that, I mean that I don’t have an artist who is like me. Just as far as being out and being an openly gay musician and I drew influence from different areas of music that I love. I always grew up loving 90’s rob, prominent voices and dance music and so it was just an amalgamation of all those things but with my spin on it. Doing it without a point of reference makes it more fun too because there aren’t any rules that I have to follow.

Colour by MNEK & Hailee Steinfeld on VEVO.

 

Your early music and all-around demeanour at the start of your career was far more muted that it is today, did you ever feel like you were being pressured to tone it down back then?

 

I think I was figuring it out. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the evolution of artists being a sudden “now I’m the real me and doing when I want” but really evolution is about the changes that lead up to that point. I can say that getting to that point 18/17 when I was releasing records, that’s who I thought I was. There were some things that I was maybe surprising, but I guess that comes from the knowledge that I have now. Now, when I’m surpessing something, I know that I’m doing it, but more importantly, I remember when to stop. When I first started putting out records, I didn’t think I was gay. So all the rudimental records stuff, was me figuring things out while growing up and being on tour and getting into the Industry and it was a lot! Now thankfully I’ve established myself as a writer-producer which has given me the comfortability to be myself and find myself

 

 

What would you say is the goal of this record?

I have a bigger goal and more of a target and what more my career can do. I think when I was putting out music, these were all songs that I loved and I’d written, but now I come with the knowledge that if I’m putting myself out there, it has to help people or for me to be the template for young artists that I didn’t have.

 

And what is the overall goal of your career in music?

To be the template, I think the main thing for me is not to be the main one, while it’s great for me to be out here saying “I’m the only openly gay pop star” what my goal is, is for me not to be the last.

 

You’ve made a point about always being yourself, but that can be a detriment to your fanbase and people who don’t agree with your choices – why not stay silent?

 

Everything happens for a reason, and I have a unique career in the way that it’s not conventional for the person I am to be making music that I’m making. I think that everything I’ve done up to this point has happened for a reason and I’m at a point where I’m doing all that I could have dreamed of.

 

It’s a great album, I was expecting because of the messaging, for it to be a more melancholic album, but it’s really uplifting!

I sometimes think when it comes down to the gay narrative, it can come across as unrequited love and sadness or that being gay is a hard knock life when in fact, being gay is jokes and so much fun. I have great friends, incredible stories to tell both mine and others and I think there are ways of singing about our experiences and still having a good time. I have ballads on there which are sad, but it’s mixed with sass and my score sting.

 

You’ve written a lot for other artists, how different is your process when writing for yourself?

It’s both different and the same. When I’m writing for another artist, I’m tailoring it for them. I’ve got to talk to them, and I ask “what are you going through” but when it’s for me, it’s the same conversation, but I’m just having it with me. The way I see the world is different to how DUA will see the world or Zara or Beyonce so I can help paint the picture but it’s got to come for them.

Is it hard putting so much of yourself into your music

No, because I started in the industry when I 14, what was I going to write about at that age. So I grew up and went through things, and that inspires what I sing about now, and I don’t have a problem with it. What’s exciting about releasing this album, is it not belonging to me anymore and it will belong to the fans.

 

What’s your biggest fear?

Failure, but that comes in different forms. I haven’t learnt to drive a car, but I’ll be damned if I have to kill someone and to be in control of my transport.

 

What is your FAULT?

I’m incredibly self-conscious which is more from a vanity point of view, as a result of being a big kid and having the weight issue. I’m working at it, and we should all work on our mental health every day and making sure we are our best selves.

 

FAULT In Conversation With RuthAnne

 

With more and more fans falling in love with RuthAnne, it might be surprising to hear that the award-winning Dublin-born singer-songwriter is behind some of the largest hits from acclaimed artists such as Niall Horan, Britney Spears and even FAULT 26 cover star Martin Garrix. Today with the release of  ‘Take My Place’ we caught up with the young songstress to find out more about her inspirations, process and of course, FAULTS!

 

Hi RuthAnne, who has been your biggest inspiration?

Hi! My biggest inspirations have been people like Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Carole King, Jeff Buckley, Coldpay, Kings of Leon, Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Justine Timberlake.

 

You’re about to head out on tour, favourite thing about performing live?

I think my favourite thing about performing live is just having the interaction with the crowd, something you don’t get if you’re in a studio. And getting to see how different songs connect with people, like you can see it in their face and their eyes. And I actually love making people cry – I kind of want tears. Just being able to talk to the crowd and then just sing, that’s what I love.

 

Is there a different process when you go from writing for other people to focussing on your own music?

I used to think it was different but it is actually pretty much the same. The only think that’s different is when you’re writing for someone else, when they’re in the room with you, you’re trying to tell their story – so I’m not gonna tell my story with the artist in the room, I want to tell their story so I have to kind of be the therapist for them but for my process I have to be my own therapist and pull out my own stories, but it is the same process.

 

What’s the biggest challenge that you encounter when writing for yourself than writing for other artists?

The biggest challenge used to be that I wasn’t really sure what direction to go. I always knew I wanted to do soul, but when you’re writing for other people you’re just used to doing so many different genres, so the problem comes when you’re writing for yourself – how do you just stick to one genre? Cos you’re so used to switching. Writing this album sort of happened by accident – it was through heartbreak and a lot of things fell into place and it kinda just came out and then this sound just formed naturally, which was just all my biggest influences fused together. So the only challenge now is just having my own identity and not always being compared to my songwriting identity, y’know.

 

How did you come to working with Niall Horan?

I had written some songs on the ‘Four’ album for One Direction, but I’d never met him. Actually wait – I met him drunk one time at The Brit Awards and I spilt a drink on him, so I met him then and then my co-writer Matt Rad, who he’d previously written a lot with, was having a session with him for the new One Direction album, and so he asked if I wanted to go and write with him and Niall. I was like yeah. Went in and wrote with him, the stuff didn’t really work for One Direction but we became friends and then when he was doing his own stuff he just sent me a text saying he was doing an album and did I want to come and write with him for it. On the first day together we wrote “You and Me”, which is on the album. On the second day, we wrote “Seeing Blind” which is the duet that’s on the album. So it just worked and we’ve been really good friends ever since!

 


Releasing my album because it’s been a long time coming! Getting to perform more, sing more. Getting to just tour more – see different places and travel. I love travelling. And just taking some time to be the artist, as well as spending some more time back in Ireland which will be nice.

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Relax and enjoy it! I got a lot of success as a writer really young and I didn’t really know how to enjoy it. I was stressed all the time because I was like “oh when you get it you have to keep getting it”, but I think I would tell myself to just relax and enjoy and trust the process. When I was younger I used to think I had to rush and do everything in the now, but now I realise everyone’s journey is different and everyone has different times where things are gonna happen for them. So just trust the process and grow into yourself and find and be your true authentic self.

 

What is your FAULT?

I get impatient. That’s my fault I think. I’m the type of person who will distract kids to skip queues at Disneyland, because I hate queuing and want everything now!

Macklemore covershoot and interview for FAULT Magazine 28

Macklemore X FAULT Magazine

Macklemore FAULT MAgazine Miles Holder.jpg

Photography: Miles Holder | Stylist: Rachel Gold | Groomer: Lauren Griffin using MAC Cosmetics | Photography Assistant: Chloe Ackers | Fashion Assistant: Alexx Dougherty | Grooming Assistant: Bethany London

 

Words: Miles Holder

Macklemore’s road to success hasn’t been a smooth one, despite the runaway success of 2012 album ‘The Heist’ with then collaborator Ryan Lewis – behind the scenes the pressure caused the artist to slip from his addiction recovery and withdraw within himself.

In 2017, Macklemore released album ‘Gemini’, his first solo album in twelve years and for many, the first time they’d seen him without his longtime companion Ryan by his side. With a brand new track ‘These Days’ currently sitting at number one in the UK charts and the announcement on daughter number two ringing in our ears, we sat down with Macklemore to learn more about his solo journey, fatherhood and the ever present elephant in the room, white privilege.

 

Around 2012 with the release Can’t Hold Us and Thrift Shop many journalists referred to you as “new kid on the block” and as a “runaway newcomer” despite you already having a decade of music releases under your belt. Did that label annoy you?

Macklemore: It didn’t annoy me, I think that in a lot of ways I was an underground rapper and then six months later I was this international Pop Star, so it was a very different role very quickly, so I understood why they said it. People don’t see the work that goes into this stuff. I think mainly with the internet and social media; kids get famous quickly now, and for a good bulk of my career the internet wasn’t a thing that was accessible to a lot of people as it is today. It happened extremely quickly when it did, but it was a good decade before that that I was honing my craft.

Macklemore FAULT MAgazine Miles Holder.jpg

You’ve been active in trying to explain your white privilege, even releasing a song of the same title onto your 2005 album ‘The Language of My World’. While commendable, why do you feel it’s essential for you to get the message across (possibly to the detriment of your fan base)?

Macklemore: To me, it’s the truth, and I want to acknowledge the systems in which we operate under in America. We are all under the system of white supremacy, and I do benefit from the colour of my skin in numerous ways, and that plays a factor in how I have an advantage regarding my art and concerning my career. To take from specific cultures and not acknowledge what’s going on is disingenuous. If I know the truth about it, it’s crucial for me to speak on the subject matter.

 

In that vein, why aren’t more artists doing it?

Macklemore: I think in a lot of ways some artists find it easier to stay quiet and think it’s easier for them not to say the wrong thing if they’re ignorant of the matter. There’s a lot of unpacking to do, and it’s not a subject where artists can say “oh I get it now” you’ve got to have conversations and do your research first. You’ve got to go back to the origin of America to see how this isn’t a philosophy or an ideology but that white supremacy has a history and has impacted the laws and systems in place today. For some, it’s easier just not to educate themselves.

Musicians and other media personalities often get called out for taking a political stance or are told to “shut up and dribble”, why is it essential for you as an artist to make your political opinion known?

Macklemore: I think that we as artists have platforms and we have the opportunity to engage with our fan base. I also don’t believe that it’s essential that all artists do that. Often people ask me “do you think that more people should be speaking up?” I feel that if you’re compelled to, and it comes from a real place, and it’s in your heart then that’s amazing. Music has always been a weapon of resistance for the people. There are songs that I wrote for Gemini which are much heavier but ended up not making the album because I didn’t feel like I was hitting it from the right angle. The songs weren’t saying what I wanted them to say and I don’t think that anybody should ever think that “ok now we have to have a political song to hit that quota”. These songs should always come organically should not feel contrived, or like you’re pandering. If it feels like I’m pandering, then I stay away.

 

What has been the hardest moment of your musical journey so far?

Macklemore: Adjusting to the fame in a condensed period and not staying sober has been the worst. There was a rapid transition and to have the world’s eye on me all at once with back- to-back number ones, and all the accolades that came with it – I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t know how to adjust, so I escaped. I think a lot of that peak season when I was around a bunch of people, doing sold out Arenas across the world was me isolating and using drugs. I used drugs to cope it and to get out of my head. Dealing with the love, criticism and outside public perceptions is a balancing act. Over the years I figured out how to deal with it, and it’s by not giving a fuck. People always say, “I don’t care what people think of me” but we all care! We are all insecure, and it’s a human fault that ties us all together, but when you can acknowledge that, you can work consistently in a spiritual practice that lessens how much you care. When you realise who you sincerely are, and not through somebody else’s eyes but through your soul and your spirit, all of a sudden there’s inner peace. It takes work and maintenance, and if you’re paying attention to the media and you’re on social media all the time to look for validation, it’ll never come. There will always be somebody that’s disagreeing with what you’re saying; you have to be at peace with yourself.

Is it a lot of pressure to have a newborn child and suddenly having to leave to be on tour?

Macklemore: I don’t know if pressure is the right word, but it’s strange to spend eight days with my newborn and then to leave and go on tour. It’s tough to look at pictures, and O feel like I’m missing something, and in a way, I don’t even know my baby yet. I’ve been away from her more than I’ve been there and it’s hard, but FaceTime is a beautiful thing in the meantime. My baby wasn’t planned so we’re adjusting, and people have been doing this forever so I am looking forward to eventually slowing down and just honing in on family life and being a dad for a good while.

 

What is your FAULT?

Macklemore: Addiction. I think that’s the thing that always reminds me that I could lose all of this at any minute. If I stop prioritising the daily recovery program that I do to maintain sobriety – I will lose it all. It’s bigger than my career and more significant than record sales – it’s my family. It’s my happiness, my life. A lot people at the beginning of the recovery wish they were normal and asked, “why can’t I just drink and do recreational drugs like other people?” I don’t think like that anymore; I think my program has been a way for me to get closer to god and for me to figure out who I am. Recovery helped me discover my character defects and my shortcomings and how I can progress to become a better version of myself. It’s there to remind me that this life isn’t permanent and I can lose it if I don’t work to maintain that sobriety on a daily basis.

FAULT Exclusive: Exitmusic interview & photoshoot

Interview: Kee Chang
Photography: Alix Spence  (Aleksa in L.A.) & Toran Spence (Devon in NYC)

The February announcement of EXITMUSIC’s (potentially) final album The Recognitions and its subsequent release this week has been overwhelmed by critics’ inordinate fixation on the dreamscape duo’s break-up narrative. The ins-and-outs of their relationship lifecycle so much in the foreground in fact, the extraneous details threaten to overshadow the music itself.

The latest addition to Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church’s at once haunting and ethereal sonic catalogue is a thing of rare beauty. As with their self-released The Decline of the West debut, The Silence EP and Passage LP, The Recognitions is something to be discovered and tightly embraced. So is this really their exit music? Will they tour the record and give it a proper send-off? Whatever becomes of the remnants of Palladino and Church’s creative partnership remains to be seen. There are two sides to every story—and there’s also the music.

 

Q&A WITH ALEKSA PALLADINO

So is The Recognitions EXITMUSIC’s final album?

I mean, there are a bunch of other songs. Few of my favourites didn’t even make it onto this record just because of theme, really, and there’s one that I’m crazy for. I keep doubting the decision to not put it on the record. So it’s possible that we’ll release The Recognitions 2 or something like that. I would love for those songs to come out in one way or another, maybe as another record or an EP. It’s this weird thing: when you really love a song, you want it out there.

A lot that has been written about EXITMUSIC and this new record has focused on the lifecycle of your relationship—the marriage and divorce. How do you feel about that being so much in the foreground?

It feels unavoidable because our relationship was so focused on EXITMUSIC. I think for a long time it was the thing that really held us together because, it sounds silly to say, but we really believed in what we were making. It feels natural to talk about it, especially because so much of the record is lyrically based on that need to become individuals again. It doesn’t feel intrusive or anything like that. Also, we’ve had time since it all happened so it doesn’t feel like it’s too personal anymore. It’s already a couple of years ago now that we got divorced so it feels like another life.

You’ve been asked before whether there was ever a question that The Recognitions would get made.

I think I always wanted it to come out. The world is a stage—you need the final act. We go through something privately, but because so much of the band and the relationship was public, it felt like it needed closure on that level, too. It was also important just for the integrity of the project. It wasn’t like two people came out with a record and then never tried again or cared enough to do it again. It’s something that we’re both so passionate about. The band itself is a separate entity from the two people in it. The band itself deserved to have it’s own closure, too. You kind of feel like it’s a child of yours in a way. The band deserves its own life. We still get emails and there are comments on social media—there’s a niche audience that really gets something from it. That’s an incredibly powerful thing for me because you make this stuff that means a lot to you, but I’m always ready for people to tear it apart. That’s what I brace myself for—that people will think it’s shit. So I’m always ready for that. When you hear that people are actually moved by it, you want to give it to them. You make music, but that’s half of it. The other half is it being heard. That people hear and respond to it is the most beautiful gift I’ve ever been given. I’ve never been the kind of person who felt comfortable in the world necessarily. I was always comfortable in my own body and in my own little groups, but I feel like I spent a lot of my youth and adolescence on guard, ready to be sort of rejected by the world. So when people feel and like my music, it’s incredible. It just makes me happy in a really stupid way. [Laughs]

There was a big lull between Passage and The Recognitions where we didn’t hear from you guys. No updates. No singles. Obviously, no shows. Is performing live something that you were itching to do?

I didn’t miss that because it gives me a lot of anxiety. But I do miss it. It’s this weird thing I have with stuff that scares me: I’m so compelled to do them, but I’m also terrified. So I do miss that to some degree. I don’t miss being on tour for months because I need to make a living. [Laughs] When I’m on tour, I can’t act and we never made money from touring. The life of a touring indie band is hard. There was a lot of reality that set in after touring Passage and after divorcing, and then also just getting older in general, too. It’s a reality where you have to make smarter decisions. So I don’t miss touring necessarily, but I do miss just playing special shows. We may try and do a couple of shows, maybe in the fall or when I’m done with my TV show. It’s always an intense experience for me. It’s not a place I’m comfortable in. But I also think that’s part of the performance. It shouldn’t be comfortable.

How do you feel about moving on from EXITMUSIC?

I feel like I moved away from it already. It’s something that I’ll always really love, but if you’re asking if we’ll ever write together again, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I really don’t know because you never know, but we both have our own projects now and I think that’s important for both of us. EXITMUSIC was a very specific dynamic and that was great for a really long time and now I think it’s time for both people to just do their own thing. That was also part of the divorce. In every way, people need to stand on their own.

I know music has always been a part of your life.

I never stopped writing music. I’ve written and recorded since I was 12. It’s just a part of me. Every real phase or new chapter of my life has to kind of come out in song for me so I have a lot of music that I’ve made in the past few years. I mean, I was recording this morning.

Is it a solo project?

Yeah. It’s how I started and it makes sense that that’s what I’ve come back to. It’s nice when you work alone because then you’re not bossy. I have a very definite style and opinion and it’s just nice to be able to execute it without stepping on anyone else’s toes. I like working alone. I will probably end up releasing the songs. Every time I think I’m not going to do something anymore, few years later, I’m doing it. [Laughs] You can’t stop. It’s such a part of you. It’s such a part of your own identity that you always wind up going back to it. Sometimes I take a break from writing for months, even a year. I’m even like, “I don’t wanna do it anymore,” and then one day you’re like, “I have to sit down and write. I have to.” It’s not even from my brain—my brain doesn’t care. It’s that something in my body that wants to hear my own voice and my own stuff. I want to see myself or experience myself again.

Here’s a hypothetical question: if you chanced on someone who’s never heard music before—they have no concept of it even—what song would you give them that’s most emblematic of EXITMUSIC?

Oh my god, I have no idea! [Laughs] What would you pick?

“The Modern Age.” But that’s so subjective and I’m not the maker, obviously.

I feel like there are so many different emotional pockets to EXITMUSIC. “The Modern Age” is definitely one of them. For me, it might just be “Passage.” There’s something about that song that I’m really happy with. When you’re the one writing it, recording it, mixing it—you always just hear the, “Oh shit, I didn’t turn that guitar loud enough.” You just wish you could go back into that session one more time to fix things. “Then it would be a perfect song…” [Laughs] I hear all the things that I didn’t do that I wish I did. “The Cold” is another very iconic, “This is Exitmusic” song. It’s just very raw and from the gut and not necessarily pretty, but somehow beautiful, you know? There’s a bunch of them.

What about from The Recognitions?

I have a couple. I really love “Crawl.” It’s just always my favourite, but it doesn’t really feel like quite a full song. It’s a little world. “Trumpets Fade” for me is a really beautiful song. But maybe my favourite, for some reason, is “Gold Coast.” Every now and then, there’s a song where the words—everything just comes to you right away and that was “Gold Coast” on this record. It just all came out and I didn’t have to work it, which is such a nice feeling because I usually have to really work on songs. “Gold Coast” is just so filled with loss, but then it’s also the hope of going someplace else and having a new life for yourself. I wrote it when I was moving back to Los Angeles so there’s something in the moment that gets captured. It wasn’t a song that I had to redo vocals on. It’s all in that moment and captured. It’s just really pure.

What is your FAULT?

Feeling too guilty to hurt anybody’s feelings even when it’s completely necessary. Yeah, it sucks sometimes. [Laughs] I always want to protect people from hard truths, but I’m realizing that that can also just stand in the way of their own growth. All of us evolve so profoundly from the things that break us open.

 

Q&A WITH DEVON CHURCH

So is this it? Is this really the end of EXITMUSIC?

Yeah, most likely, unless something changes. We do have a bunch of unreleased material and I hope that stuff will come out at some point. But I personally don’t really feel ready to write a new album from scratch. I have my own record to be coming out later this year so we’ll see where that goes. I mean, anything’s possible, but as it stands right now, I don’t see that in the near future. Although we generally take six years to make a record… [Laughs]

There seems to be a lot of uncertainties right now.

I definitely hope there’s an album of unreleased stuff because I think there are some really good songs that we haven’t released yet. Some of my favourites are from The Recognitions sessions. There’s one from the Passage sessions that I really love that never came out and could be redone to sort of fit into this. So I’d be really interested in something like that. I would be open to working on new stuff, but it’s definitely not something we’ve really discussed. This conversation I’m having with you now is about as far as we’ve gotten with it, you know what I mean? It’s not something that Aleksa and I’ve talked about, beyond thoughts about releasing unreleased material.

Is it comforting to be able to put a definitive end to it with this new album? Does it also feel uneasy?

It was bothering me for years just having these songs sitting there because I think they’re really valuable pieces in our body of work or whatever you want to call it. It definitely makes me happy to be able to share them with people. As far as it making me uneasy—I guess that’s a fair question. My friend and I was joking about this the other night: it’s weird to have a record come out where every single article is about how we broke up. There are painful memories that are associated with every piece of press that comes out. But it’s been long enough now that I feel at peace with everything that happened, more or less. So that’s been interesting and it hasn’t been that bad. It is what it is and I guess people respond to breakup and heartbreak.

I read somewhere that “The Distance” and “Sparks of Light,” for example, were written many years ago and manifested from a different chapter of EXITMUSIC. How did you curate The Recognitions?

“The Distance” is from the same period as “Sparks of Light.” I remember those two songs were really close together. Yeah, it’s just been sitting around and I always liked “The Distance.” Aleksa was hesitant to release it for some reason and we never recorded it properly. We recorded a version of it that was way more guitar-based. There’s really no guitar in the new version of it and we changed some of the piano phrasings around to make it a little more suspended and dreamy. In terms of how we curated, we actually wrote about 16 or 17 songs for this record and then culled them down to the 9 that are on there. “The Distance” becoming a final song really came out of Jeff Owens’s [owner of felte] suggestion. He was like, “That needs to be the last song.” We weren’t sure at first, but then it made sense. I like that the record ends on a quiet and subtle note rather than a big climax. I like the feeling of suspension at the end of that song and the moment of backwards piano with the backwards vocals.

The Recognitions really demands a live experience. Are you going to play shows at any point?

It’s up in the air. It’s something we talked about and, schedule-wise, it didn’t work out to do it around the release of the record. But it’s definitely something that is a potential future for us. I just don’t know to what extent or if that’s going to happen, either. It’s possible. It’s been so long since we wrote those songs—I don’t know how to play them anymore. [Laughs] I guess we’ll figure it out.

How difficult was it to record The Recognitions compared to the previous ones? I know now that you guys didn’t really talk outside of those sessions. That must inevitably affect the process.

I would say it was half-written while we were still a couple and then we finished it after we’d broken up, so that would be six more months, which is kind of ridiculous. It’s an insane thing to do and I don’t recommend it to anybody. That said, in a number of ways, it kind of felt like the recording process was almost more peaceful and professional than it had been before where we’re all up in each other’s shit, all the time. [Laughs] I feel like we fought more when we were making Passage than we did on The Recognitions. Technically, it was recorded the same way in the apartment. We’ve always done everything at home. For this one, we had built a better studio at home and I’d developed better skills for recording, which I think was good since we didn’t have the budget that we had on Passage to hire a mixer and stuff. I think it came out sounding pretty good, given that we didn’t have any outside help.

Can I throw a hypothetical question at you? If you could save only one track from EXITMUSIC’s catalogue that you believe to be the most emblematic of the band, which one would you choose?

That’s tough because I feel like we have three versions of ourselves with three albums. Probably something from Passage. Actually, there’s one song that I really love that no one really listens to, which is “The Silence” from our EP. I listened to it again for the first time in probably a couple years the other day and I really like the mood of that song.

That’s an amazing track. It’s funny you single out “The Silence” because that’s the first thing I’d ever heard from you guys back in 2011 when it landed in my inbox. I didn’t even know who you guys were.

Maybe I’ll say that one just to get people to potentially revisit that song.

How did that song come about?

Oh man, I honestly don’t remember. [Laughs] None of our songs were particularly easy to make. They all took a long time. But I feel like a couple of songs reached an interesting somatic, dreamlike level. “The Sea” is also sort of like that I feel. That happened at the same time and it has this undertow to it.

Going beyond EXITMUSIC, what can we expect from your upcoming solo record?

It’s been an interesting process for me, figuring out how to make music on my own. It took me a couple years of experimenting with different styles. Initially, I just veered left and tried to write songs on acoustic guitar and played some shows that way to test the waters. I made a couple of EPs with that kind of music and just threw up my hands in disgust after the last thing I recorded. Not that it was terrible or anything—it was more that it wasn’t what I wanted. Then over the last spring and summer mostly and into the fall, I sort of surrendered and let whatever wanted to come out, come out, without trying to place a program on top of it. It turned out having more similarities to what I’ve done in the past with EXITMUSIC. There’s a lot more synth and there’s a lot more texture. Learning how to sing and finding what I feel comfortable singing has been interesting, too, and having to write the lyrics on top of writing the music. It’s cool. I’m excited about this record. I think it’s gonna be unexpected. I’m hoping it will make it out into the world in the fall, probably on the same label as EXITMUSIC at felte Records.

Was it daunting going back to vocals and now having to write your own lyrics?

It just took me a really long time to come back to it. When I first met Aleksa, I had been writing my own songs. Then we sort of joined forces. I don’t know if you’re as familiar with The Decline of the West, but I do sing on that record. I kind of withdrew and focused more on the production side of it and the instrumental side of it. At the time, it just seemed to be more coherent for the band to just have one singer. But there was a part of me that always kind of regretted that I hadn’t continued with it—a Blonde Redhead or Sonic Youth approach where there’s both a male and a female vocalist. But I definitely needed to be on my own to find the voice that I have found. I was very shy about singing before so the vocals that I do contribute on that first EXITMUSIC record was pretty understated compared to what I’m doing now, which is definitely more ambitious.

What is your FAULT?

Oh man, there’s too many. One thing that definitely pulls me back is struggling with depression, which is something I always had to struggle with. It’s a huge impediment creatively, as in anything, like relationships. I’ve been trying to learn how to make that an ally almost lately. Most of my creative work comes out of that. Depression is almost like a form of energy that’s kept undifferentiated and feels like this big weight, but if you start moving it around, it can turn into something really powerful if you harness it somehow. I feel like that’s the function of music in my life. But if you don’t do that, I think it can totally fuck you up and almost make you very selfish. I’m not saying that people who are depressed are selfish. It just encloses your world—you thinking that your problems are the most important thing. At least for me, I know objectively that I probably have less to complain about than a lot of people do so I’m trying to remember that.

 

The Recognitions is out now via felte and available to purchase here.