Premiere: Saint Clair unveils live video for ‘I’ll Stay’

Saint Clair x FAULT Magazine

Saint Clair - FAULT Magazine

Photography: Navarro Aydemir
Location: Feliks Topolski studio in Waterloo, London
Special Thanks: Bar Topolski

Saint Clair – less beatifically known as Emma Topolski – is a London-based singer-songwriter whose influences range from James Blake, The Internet and Frank Ocean to Amy Winehouse and her ”two main musical giants” Stevie Wonder and The Beatles.

Her latest release, ‘I’ll Stay’, is striking in its grandeur, reflective of Emma’s penchant for writing ”big and dark” compositions that crest to near-operatic peaks before plunging to rolling, emotional depths.

While she isn’t ”fiddling with her Nord”, Emma can be found playing bass for CHILDCARE, synths for FAULT Issue 11 star Ghostpoet, or giving gawping journalists impromptu tours of her grandfather’s old studio and gallery space near Waterloo.

Watch the brand new, live video for ‘I’ll Stay’ below:

 

 

FAULT: Let’s start off with the name. You’ve mentioned previously that you go by ‘Saint Clair’ as a solo artist because that’s your mother’s maiden name. So is it pronounced ‘Sinclair’ or…?

Saint Clair: Well it’s Scottish, so it’s actually pronounced: [unintelligible noise]

Err…OK…could you spell that?!

Saint Clair: Sure – JK…

Ah, I see what you did there!

Saint Clair: Busted! It is Scottish, though. My mum’s family is from a small town in the far North called Wick. Sinclair is the name of the local bay and it’s also my brother’s middle name; not to mention the family tartan…

So it IS pronounced Sinclair, then?

Saint Clair: Well, it started off like that. But then I thought that was a bit surname-y and perhaps a little macho (everyone just thinks of the footballers called Sinclair) so probably a little confusing! So I had a bit of a rethink. I’m bilingual in French and I started thinking that it’d be lovely to translate some of my songs into French, and definitely to do some gigs in France. I was French educated and all my cultural references are French, so ‘Sinclair’ became ‘Saint Clair’ – very ‘phonétique‘, as the French would say!

I guess I saw it as a nice way to marry those two influences in my life – my own French cultural upbringing and my mum’s Scottish ancestry. Although my Dad was Polish and I’m not sure how they would pronounce it in Poland…however they want, I guess!

Saint Clair - FAULT Magazine

You’re a career musician and have been for many years. What was the turning point for you when you decided to start releasing your own stuff?

Saint Clair: Yeah, I’ve been a professional musician for 10 years. I started out as a jazz singer and used to do a lot of corporate events. You know the drill: big boss gets a promotion and wants to make his function look fancy by hiring a jazz trio. I was doing a lot of that, but also just casual jamming and gigs with other musicians that you meet on the scene in London. We used to play 4, 5 times a week.

Your network expands so much by doing that stuff – but much more on the creative side of things. You’re not really industry-aware at that sort of stage: you’re just making a living and meeting people. That then evolved naturally for me into songwriting. People would come up to me after a gig and say things like, ”oh, I love your voice, do you have any original music that you’re working on?”

That’s when I really started to write – to find a sound and an identity. I started working with a friend of mine, Ben, who’s a great guitarist. We started writing a lot together. The whole first EP is with him, as is ‘Human Touch’ off the second EP. That was really my starting point in terms of understanding who I was as a songwriter.

Did you have that epiphany moment when you just thought, ”I get it: this is what I’m about and this is the sort of music I really want to do”?

Saint Clair: Yeah, I did. When I wrote the song that ended up being my first single – in hindsight, analysing what we’d done, it drew from all the elements that I wanted to have in there. It wasn’t intentional but it created a great template for me in terms of what I wanted my music to be about: it had electronic elements and programmed drums, but also real guitars and loads of vocal harmonies…and plenty of weird chords…

‘Weird chords’? Is that a technical term…?

Saint Clair: Yep, very technical term! But, yeah, in essence my music is very hooky, succinct… I always want to soar. I want the chorus to come and grab you by the balls… In a sense, it’s a very traditional approach to songwriting. It’s very accessible and it should be: it’s pop music in its lyricism and its melody. And then there’s all this other weird shit going on…

Saint Clair - FAULT Magazine

You’re a singer, obviously, but what instruments do you play?

Saint Clair: I write mainly on keys. I was playing synths for Ghostpoet for a while. I also play bass for a band called CHILDCARE, who I’ve just been on tour with. We’re also putting out an album in the new year.

What’s the next step for Saint Clair then? You’ve just released the new video, of course, so will you be focusing more on recording or gigging in the near future?

Saint Clair: I’ve recorded the next 5 singles and my sister Tamsin and I have made videos to go with them that are all loosely interlinked. They’re much more abstract than the stuff I’ve done before – all of my videos have been very narrative-driven whereas these are a lot more surreal. They’re a portrait of loss and grief from different vantage points.

The focus so far has been on making the music and finding a coherence within a body of work. Everything is so one-off and track-based nowadays that I wanted to make this more like a mini-album.

What was the inspiration for these new releases?

Saint Clair: After my last EP went out, I found myself reflecting on my archive and realising that a lot of the songs I’ve made were written at different stages of grieving the loss of my Dad. To have that as a through-line – to look back on my head-space during that time…it was almost like having a series of diary entries detailing my reactions in different moments.

Saint Clair - FAULT Magazine

How long ago was that?

Saint Clair: Three and a half years now. At the time, you’re so in the throes of it that you don’t really realise what you’re thinking or feeling. Writing becomes a bit of an outlet: something that you do when you feel the need to do so or, at other times, not at all. All those songs that I wrote during that time became a sort of mini-story for me. I spoke to my sister about it and we thought that maybe we could come up with some treatments that would reflect how we both felt (and feel) as an accompanying visual component. My sister’s an actress and the videos ended up sort of like a short film, I guess.

It’s difficult and there’s a lot of trepidation that comes with doing something like that. You know that a lot of your output has been affected by this massive personal loss, and you want to express that but, at the same time, you worry about it coming across like you’re promoting yourself through a particular narrative. Like you’re looking back on something and saying, ‘oh, look – this fits!’ But, actually, it didn’t come from that place at all. It was very organic. Me and my sister are inseparable and it just felt like a really beautiful way to honour what both of us – and our whole family – were going through at that time.

You’re not signed at the moment – what happens if someone comes along with an offer tomorrow?

Saint Clair: I’ve set up my own label for my releases – Dearly Beloved. The logo for the label is actually an old sketch by my Granddad, Feliks Topolski, that I found while trawling through his old work. After basically drowning in his art for most of my life, it struck me that this image was something that I’d never seen before. I just thought that incorporating it into what I was doing would be a really lovely way to introduce that part of who I am.

For now, it just made sense to get a move on. I didn’t want to wait for any additional infrastructure. I just thought: ‘the music’s here, I’m proud of it, I’d like to put it out.’ So that’s what I’ve been doing with Dearly Beloved.

Saint Clair - FAULT Magazine

Saint Clair in front of work by her Grandfather, Feliks Topolski

 

Speaking of your heritage, and I know it’s a completely different medium, but do you feel any pressure attached to your grandfather’s name and accomplishments as an artist?

Saint Clair: Not at all. I think it’s an amazing thing to be able to carry on that artistic legacy. He’s left such an incredible gift to his whole family – something that’s tangible in the work he left behind but also in the ideology of what he was all about: not precious or pretentious, really accessible and open to whoever wanted to be a part of what he wanted to share.

I’m more of a fan than anything else, I suppose. My relationship with him doesn’t really form a huge part of my identity – I was only three when he died. His work is more something that I want to champion. I don’t think it’s been given the platform that it deserves at this stage, so using his artwork or my label seemed like a fitting tribute, as well as a natural thing to do.

Who’s underrated at the moment?

Saint Clair: CHILDCARE! The lead singer [Ed Cares] is a brilliant songwriter – absolutely brilliant.

What’s your FAULT?

Saint Clair: I’m very opinionated. I can get pretty belligerent when I disagree with someone else’s point of view!

 

Saint Clair - FAULT Magazine

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Follow Saint Clair on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify

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FAULT Weekly Playlist: Billie Black

Rising British singer/songwriter Billie Black has drawn comparisons to Banks, Jessie Ware, and Jorja Smith, and it’s easy to see why. Her effortless combination of R&B, jazz, and electronica also mixes in Roots, Reggae, and 70s disco. There’s nothing stopping this 19-year-old budding talent as evident with her latest EP “the Last Time.”

We asked Billie to put together a playlist of tracks that inspire her music, which includes cuts from Kadhja Bonet, Cosima, and Kwabs. Listen in below.

Kadhja Bonet – This Love
Stumbled across this artist on spotify about a year ago, saw her live in London a week ago, I’m in love with her tone, utterly mesmerizing.

Julie London – Show Me The Way To Go Home
A tune I always end up listening to traveling home last at night after a gig. I love the warmth of the strings and Julie London’s voice will always be one of my favourite jazz voices.

Cosima – WYD
The way the verse drops into the chorus on this tune gets me every time. I love the melody and the production, perfect for feeling warm on cold winter nights. Gentle and honest.

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans
A tune I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. The lyrics are so beautiful, especially in the chorus and melody is very cool. Love how atmospheric the song is, makes me feel like I’m in a film.

Feist – Let it Die
I love the beautiful simplicity of this song. Again, such honest and heartfelt lyrics. This song takes me back to a really specific time in my life, it’s a song that has the ability to draw precious memories back into consciousness.

Chet Baker – Like Someone In Love
One of the first jazz standards I ever learnt, sung by one of my favourite jazz voices Chet Baker. Listening to this makes me feel happy and safe.

Billie Black – The Last Time
Well we all know why this is in here. My latest release that feel sums up where I am in my life at the moment. Hope you connect with it the way I do x

James Blake – Radio Silence
Kind of speaks for itself. James Blake. Beautiful, powerful everything. I specifically like this tune because of the lyrics, they’re super relatable and poetic.

Lapsley – Tell Me The Truth
Love Lapsely. Her voice is so unique. Really like the contrast between the verse/chorus in this, and how the whole song fits together, feels as though you’ve been taken on a journey. Very cool.

Kwabs – Perfect Ruin
Kwabs will always be one of my inspirations, we used to sing jazz together. This song can only be described as beautiful and powerful. One of my favourite songs every written.

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Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018: ‘Full Speed Into The World’

Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018: “If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what.

Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018

Words: Will Ballantyne-Reid
All images courtesy of Nan Goldin and Matthew Marks Gallery

Amidst the hyper-capitalist spectacle of Frieze 2018, the political turmoil of the last year, and on the day before Brett Kavanaughs controversial and much-contested confirmation, legendary photographer Nan Goldin took to the stage with veteran arts writer Linda Yablonsky to discuss her career.

Goldin is famously one of the most fearless photographers of her generation – with work that examines the deeply nuanced relations between couplingof all degrees. From relationships that veer between fear and obsession, to individuals in a complex relationship with their own self-presentation, Goldins work has always delved into the rich tapestry of our own humanity. Her appearance forced a re-consideration of her landmark practice, in the context of a modern world that though plagued with political unrest has at least made leaps and bounds in the context of queer representation – of which Goldin was a torch-bearer, realising the vast array of aesthetic and emotional identities that could be caught on camera under the focus of her lens.

Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018

The instance of photographing, instead of creating a distance, is a moment of clarity and emotional connection for me.

This was clear in each moment of her conversation with Yablonsky, who carefully guided the conversation through a cast of characters – many of whom are now historically renowned; Robert Mapplethorpe, David Wojnarowicz, Cookie Mueller, and other luminaries of New York on the cusp the AIDS epidemic, which would cut short so many of their brilliant lives. Writing on the iconography and rhetoric of the AIDS epidemic — and the epidemic of significationthat occurred as result — Susan Sontag assessed that the catastrophe of AIDS suggests the immediate necessity of limitation.This accompanied, in part, the observation of multiple socio-cultural breakdowns; the conflation of medical fact and social fiction, the sensationalising impact of moral panic upon the media, the effect of hysteria upon imaging the disease — and how these were fuelled careless reporting, pre-existing homophobia, and governmental complacency. In a time of cultural confusion, fake news, and the breakdown of public discourse over multiple crises of socio-political injustice, Goldins work remains as relevant today as it has ever been.

The talk began with Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018 highlighting to the audience the presence of a striking series of medicinal bottles on the table, one for each life that would be lost to the American Opioid crisis during the course of her one-hour talk. This is her latest cri de coeur, and one through which she has suffered directly (as has always been the case with her work.) Writing of her own struggle with opioid addiction, Goldin acknowledges she narrowly escaped […] I went from the darkness and ran full speed into the world.

Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018

“I was isolated, but I realised I wasnt alone. When I got out of treatment I became absorbed in reports of addicts dropping dead from my drug, OxyContin. I decided to make the private public […] my first action is to publish personal photographs from my own history.

As such, she has led an international campaign against the Sackler family – prescription drug dynasty and noted patrons of the arts – described by the New York Times as the family that built an empire of pain.In again tying her work to an epidemic of physical injustice and its emotional consequence, Goldin continues to forge ahead with a photographic practice that is deeply entrenched in her own personal politics – and in the bravery it takes to make the personal public in the name of political progression. We should all be grateful for her fearlessness, and the humility and honesty with which she rages on.

Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018

 

To see more by Nan Goldin at Frieze 2018, visit Matthew Marks Gallery

 

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Will the Concept of the Purely Digital Artist Soon Become a Reality?

It is a bit odd to pair the terms “e-commerce” and “musical talent” together. In fact, they might appear to be polar opposites. It is therefore a bit surprising to learn that numerous artists have become actively involved within the world of retail sales and e-commerce solutions. This brings up an important question. Will we ever witness a day when the popularity of a musician is based solely upon his or her digital presence? Let’s take a quick look at some predictions that could very well come to pass in the not-so-distant future.

Reality Check: The Online Artistic Edge

The gap between the digital domain and our physical existence has been narrowing during the past few years. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and automated chatbots are transforming the ways in which we interact with most websites. Why should this be any different when referring to the music industry?

Artists fully appreciate the fact that their online audience will have a massive impact upon critical recognition and overall success. This is clearly evident when we look at the number of Instagram and Twitter followers the top-rated celebrities boast. We are already starting to witness some well-known names embrace their digital presence. Kylie Minogue is a shining example (1). Not only is her website involved with tours and similar promotions, but visitors can purchase her latest albums as well as other fan-based products. This is a perfect example of an artist who has learned to leverage the power of online e-commerce.

Pairing Technological Innovation with Raw Talent

One of the main stumbling blocks which artists will still have to face is knowing what technology can be used to best promote their talents. It is already a foregone conclusion that international celebrities and major stars possess a team of technical experts, but what about up-and-coming songwriters? Could this be the generation which fully enters into the digital domain? Some experts will argue that this reality might not be as far off as we are led to believe.

User-friendly e-commerce solutions such as Shopify Plus have been configured in such a way as to be easily integrated into an existing marketing campaign. More than 3,600 businesses have already embraced this methodology and these figures are likely to increase. Artists will not be forced to spend hours in front of as computer while developing the sales and marketing facets of their online presence. Such methods can be implemented within a short period of time and they can be customised to reflect the unique flavour of the portal in question.

So, is the notion of the fully digital artist soon to become a reality? While there is no doubt that their online presence will dramatically influence album sales and followers, we should still recall that this environment can never be replaced by more tangible experiences such as a live concert. It is more likely that we will witness a further blending of these two worlds; great news for artists and fans alike.

Sources:
https://www.kylie.com/
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Freya Ridings on open mic nights, Love Island and her career so far

Freya Ridings X FAULT Magazine 

Freya Ridings X FAULT Magazine 

Words by Jack Lloyd

At only 23 years old, London singer-songwriter Freya Ridings has caught the ear of millions of listeners worldwide. Her single, ‘Lost Without You’, resonates with such authenticity and hits with such devastating fragility that it has received over 37 million streams on Spotify and was featured on ITV2’s most watched show Love Island.

Last week, Freya performed ‘Lost Without You’ on BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge and on C4’s annual fundraising show, Stand Up To Cancer.

FAULT: How’s your year been so far?

Freya Ridings: It’s been a whirlwind and kind of unbelievable. I’ve been touring around the world, releasing a couple of live albums as well as focusing on my debut album. It’s been an incredible journey so far.

Your single Lost Without You has gone on to be hugely successful; what’s the story behind the song?

Freya Ridings: I always write from personal experience and I think one of the reason’s ‘Lost Without You’ may have connected with people more is because it really happened.

It’s that feeling where you’re emotionally exposing yourself and feels almost too raw to share with people. You have that feeling of isolation and heartbreak and you’re not sure if you’re ever going to get past that and writing was a way for me to deal with that.

I was quite scared at the idea of sharing it with people but I’m so happy I did because I’ve had a really overwhelming response from people and it’s really touched me. I feel extremely lucky now but at the time I felt like I couldn’t share those stories in my songs and it took a while for me to do that so I’m really happy it’s connected with people.

It was also featured Love Island; how did you feel when that happened?

Freya Ridings: I had no idea it was going to be used on the show. I’m a massive fan of the show and when it came on I got all these messages from my friends freaking out. It was an incredible moment having one of my songs being played on one of the biggest TV shows and the response after on Instagram and Facebook was incredible, I feel so lucky.

Freya Ridings X FAULT Magazine 

Words: Jack

What was it about the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s song ‘Maps’ that you wanted to cover?

Freya Ridings: I feel like choosing a cover song is not just about finding a song you like it’s about finding one that you connect with on an emotional level. It’s like choosing a Pokemon, they kind of choose you as opposed to you choosing them.

If I’m playing a song that isn’t mine, it either gets me or it doesn’t in that first moment and when I first sung that song I was going through a really hard breakup at the time and it hit me like a lightning bolt and I just really resonated with the story and felt like I needed to share it with people.

Being raised in London, has it influenced you in any way?

Freya Ridings: Hugely, at school I was heavily dyslexic and really struggled academically so music was my safe haven. Growing up when I started to do open mic nights around London, it was where I started making friends with other musicians that shaped me and shaped the kind of artist that I wanted to be. I feel like London can be hard when you’re younger but then when you turn into a teenager it’s suddenly the best place to live.

When I started doing open mic nights, I would focus on doing upbeat covers because that’s what I thought people wanted. It was actually the songs I would come home and play on piano that felt like the real me and it was a journey to realise that I can actually share the songs I was writing on the piano and it was only when I started to that everything started to change for me.

It’s been a rewarding experience to be more authentic and raw and less scared to share.

What was it about the Omeara and St Pancreas Old Church that you wanted to record your live albums?

Freya Ridings: I’ve been playing live for so many years and being in the room you can feel this sort of magic, especially in venues like churches or venues that have a bit more character to them. I didn’t want to do something where you hold everything back until it’s perfect, I wanted to share the songs in their raw exposed authentic form and I’m so happy we did that because feel like it’s a way to let people in instead of holding the at arm’s length. I feel like people have really resonated and connected with that which means the world to me and have people come and sing the lyrics with you is just another level.

Freya Ridings X FAULT Magazine 

 

Is there any artists that you never get tired of listening to?

Freya Ridings: Florence and Adele are huge influences because I feel they’re very heart driven songwriters that I resonate with on another level. Tom Odell is huge influence who I adore, I actually saw him recently and wanted to tell him how much I was fangirling.

Hozier is another one, I love really honest storytellers. Ray Lamontagne’s voice transcends like no other voice I’ve heard live, Trouble was the album that made me want to write and play songs to begin with.

I adore Taylor Swift too, she put me on her Apple Music playlist and I literally dropped my phone.

What’s next for you?

Freya Ridings: We’ve just come out the studio and I’m excited because we’re in the final stages of finishing the album. I can’t wait to share the songs with everyone, I’ve been so used to playing them on my own so it’s great to hear them with all the other instruments and choirs because it changes the whole feel. I just never thought I would have the opportunity to share that with people so I’m really really excited.

What is your fault? 

Freya Ridings: There’s too many, I would say up until now not living in the moment enough. I’ve really been trying to work on that mindfulness and gratitude just so I can appreciate all that’s going on and be grateful for the things I have.

 

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Follow Freya Ridings on Facebook and Instagram.

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The Watches that the Most Powerful People in the Music Industry are Wearing

Some of the most influential people in the world work in the music industry. Whether they’re a well-known artist performing on stage or a producer working behind the scenes, their impact on pop culture, in general, is immense. Bringing in huge paychecks, many of these performers have been spotted wearing some pretty impressive timepieces on their wrist. Below are just a few of the most notable watch sightings of powerful people in the music industry.

Max Martin

Many people might not recognize the name Max Martin, as this Swedish producer is notoriously private. However, he is one of the most influential people on our list, having written more Billboard #1 singles than almost anyone in the industry. His very first #1 song was Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”, after which the writer has been responsible for 20 more top hits. While he isn’t spotted with a watch on his wrist very often, Max Martin was recently photographed wearing an Everose Yacht-Master reference 116655 on an Oysterflex bracelet, a choice that seems to complement his style very well.

Jay-Z

Jay-Z has a reported net worth of over $800 million and has been topping the charts for decades. To say that he has been influential in the music industry is an understatement. With such a massive amount of success, it comes as no surprise that the Hip-Hop mogul boats a pretty impressive watch collection, including everything from Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet to Hublot. Recently, Jay-Z has been photographed wearing several Rolex pieces, including a yellow gold Sky-Dweller reference 326938, the widely sought-after Daytona reference 116500, and a platinum Day-Date reference 228206.

Justin Timberlake

The “I Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer rose to fame in the 1990’s alongside the group NSYNC. Since those days, his solo career has taken off, making him a fixture of the music industry. When it comes to his wardrobe, Justin Timberlake appears to be a one watch kind of guy, sporting mostly a gold 40mm Day-Date reference 228238 on a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet. Classy yet bold, this timepiece seems like a perfect choice for someone as influential in the music industry as Justin Timberlake.

DJ Khaled

It’s no secret that DJ Khaled has an impressive watch collection. It’s even reported that the successful DJ recently purchased a $34,000 diamond Rolex for his young son. He’s made headlines in the past for sporting diamond encrusted timepieces on his wrist, such as a Patek Philippe Nautilus worth nearly $300,000. It appears, however, that the DJ has a preference for the Rolex Day-Date, wearing everything from a gold and diamond variation to the most recent addition to his collection, a special edition platinum Day-Date with an icy blue Arabic dial.

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