KROST NEW YORK

(courtesy of KROST NEW YORK)

 

Words: Chaunielle Brown | Images: Jay Blum

A movement triggered from catastrophic echoes, a tragic repetition of a far too frequent headline, “School Shooting.” Parkland, Florida, February 14, 2018 tore at us all once again, and out of the broken, fallen and destructively destroyed rose a connected championed community, marching out of the madness, together, to march for our lives. In the desperately needed togetherness, a channeled understanding and respect for life came a stapled support, unwavering and bold. KROST NEW YORK found its place, tying in an ever burning determination to provide support for all; strangers pledged in a common belief, support for your friends, those past and present and those you have yet to meet. Together, as we march for lives, we march and vow to support. An inspired placement and nod to the transformational sixties and its engraved grit for fight, freedom and justice, support and love for all, we are bound together in a firmly rooted cornerstone. Rising to the surface we find a brand bonded in brotherhood with a gifted emboldened Pantone Autumn Glory Orange, unified, transitional no matter gender or preference. Founder Samuel Krost and Designer and Creative Director Scott Camaran lead us in a movement to be proudly worn. 

This First Semester, we found ourselves introduced and taken on an emergence of transcendent truth, #Support Your Friends. A camaraderie of banded souls, striving for principled authenticity, artistic and social change, KROST NEW YORK is lined with a school housed remembrance, outfitted by lockers, fresh fancied custom turfed golden green grass, varsity tracks and iridescent labels to remind us we are all the colors of the world, friends bound together in support.                                                                                                                                                         

(courtesy of KROST NEW YORK)

 

Following their well tailored motivational opening, we caught up with the two for some good loved chatter.

Tell me something about KROST that hasn’t been recorded or put down for all to read. 

SK: I think I got emotional yesterday for the first time on Instagram. For me personally, this entire concept started right after, unfortunately the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. It kind of really hit a certain chord in me. I was determined to get involved with the youth. I think it was a week later, that March for Our Lives was put together and just watching the youth come together and supporting one other, whether they knew each other or not, they were supporting each other based on having the same beliefs. At that time I was determined to become involved in it, but at the same time, I wanted to pursue my passion and started to think about how I can combine the two. So this idea of Support Your Friends was created, and it has been a personal slogan for a long time. 

What Scott and I both will tell you, is that this brand wants to be known first for its message – for its story and for the community that we build around support your friends and and for us just being such fashion lovers, we are using apparel and accessories at the very beginning to try and tell that story. 

And that doesn’t go to take away from the attention to detail that we put into this clothing. We did not go to a warehouse and buy 500 t-shirts and write support your friends on them. We went through, 10 to 12 rounds of samples, really making sure that our fits and fabrics were of the utmost luxury and understanding where the fashion space is moving and were able to provide a luxury product, because we’re not wholesaling the brand right now. So we’re hitting good margins but were providing a luxury brand at one of the most accessible price points in the entire market right now. And that’s the exact feedback we’ve been getting about our price points, about our fits, about our fabrics, and of course the message finally is starting to come out. I think with trying to launch this company, there was so much that was happening that you know we were kinda just putting a fashion brand out there, but now the story is finally getting out there with the help of people like you and the press. With the backstory of how this actually happened.

And with March for Our Lives being the exact inspiration behind the brand, we wanted to take that and use it as the inspiration of how we were going to design this collection. And if we look when the last time something like this happened, we really just took it from the 1960s, which was the epitome of a decade when youth came together to forge a better today. Now whether it was about the sexual revolution, or whether it was anti-war, or anti-poverty, that was a decade that was filled with riots, protests, different movements, but what we take from there is it was the youth coming together to support one another. So that’s what we used as the inspiration behind the brand. And then we kind of took on the first collection and said hey let’s do this based on our modern take on the collegiate, university, varsity elements of the 1960s. That’s how we came to the aesthetic of our first collection. For us, this is called First Semester and Second Semester is really going to come down to what’s important in society, what’s currently happening and what needs more awareness, that needs more support, that needs a community to be built to bring people together to help actual create tangible change. Instead of just saying things, we want to show that through action. 

 

Were there roadblocks to this journey? 

SC: I don’t think Sam and I are quitters. We know how to divide and conquer.

SK: I think we both wear, I don’t want to use the word multiple, because it’s more than multiple, but we wear A LOT of different hats right now. I didn’t want to tiptoe our way into this. We wanted to come out and let people know we’re here. And I wanted to do it the right way. With that being said, like I said before, this wasn’t “Let’s go into a warehouse and buy 500 t-shirts.” We put a serious investment into this company in creating from scratch our patterns. And every time our pattern was wrong we had to go and pay to redo it and redo it and redo it. And we had to start from scratch and every dollar put in, before we raised money, I don’t want to say, went into the garbage, but technically it did. It was an educational experience and technically as a startup there’s going to be mistakes along the way. But we do know that we don’t allow mistakes to happen twice. There were so many roadblocks, so many days that were harder than others. To be honest, I had to make sure our product got to this pop-up for the opening. When I say everything came down to the last minute…EVERYTHING came down to the last minute.

We know our systems now, we have our patterns. We’ve developed them. So we’re hoping and praying that based on an incredible seven, eight month educational experience, that we know how to do this the right way moving forward. And we have an incredibly huge team. A digital marketing team. We’re a digitally focused brand that wants to continuously have physical retail concept stores. The vision for the future is bring other brands into our retail to make those experiential retail spaces and falling into this idea of “Support Your Friends;” bring other brands in that follow our message, that help us broaden that message. Anyone or anything, any vehicle that we could create, whether that’s through video, photography, art, other apparel, whatever it may be, that’s the future for the brand. Getting into those spaces to help us push this message. 

How did you two meet?

SC: Sam and I knew each other for about a year before we started the company. Back when I was working at ACNE STUDIOS, he was my client. I think it was last December when I met his mom, they were shopping for the holidays. I was helping him shop for his Aspen trip. His mom had mentioned to me, “Sammy, you’ve always wanted to have a clothing line.” And I said, “You know, I’m a designer. and then I showed them my designs on my phone and pretty much after a bit, we finally got together to talk about it, talk about some ideas and concepts and next thing you know, eight months later, we’re launching our concept retail space in Soho. 

 

Why Autumn Glory Orange?

SC: It’s the color of friendship. The thing about orange in general is it’s a mixture between yellow and red. When you google the meanings behind colors, friendship is one of the names that pops up as the definition for it. But also Autumn Glory, I think, what it was, was kind of random. Sam in his apartment had a coffee table book that was orange, similar orange to the one we chose for the collection and THEN (laughter) we googled it and then it all ended up working out. 

Will there be other colors introduced?

SC: We want to develop these accent colors. For next season we have a couple Pantones in mind. If you look at our tags and our stickers, they’re iridescent so the iridescent we kind of want to touch upon every color, every person, it’s supposed to show that lack of conformity to one thing. I think what’s so cool about iridescent is that it changes color depending on what angle you look at it. So I think that’s how I perceived the design aspect to each collection. It’s really the same message at a different angle. So I think we represent a new color Pantone every time there’s a new season, but still maintain that same thread, that same message cohesively throughout the brand. 

(left, Samuel Krost)

What is next for KROST, any special collections, community relations?

SK: We’re working on a capsule collection special for March for Our Lives, where proceeds will be donated directly back to March for Our Lives. I think one thing that’s super interesting is we’re continuously trying to find unique angles to make this brand different and to stand out. And with that I’ve been working with a developer integrating a platform onto our website. Our vision is to white label it and pass it through the entire non-profit sector. Unfortunately in the non-profit space, it’s also one of the most corrupt spaces. As a brand you say “I’m donating this.” You don’t believe it anymore, it doesn’t really sound credible anymore. I’m trying to think, how am I going to not just be another brand that says, “Hey we partner with March for Our Lives and we’re giving them money” so we’re creating a block chain software, where basically if you buy a hoodie for $100 Chaunielle and I donate 10% of that, that $10 that you bought that hoodie on November 16 goes into an escrow account, when March for Our Lives wants to take that $10, what happens is we basically own this digital ledger that keeps track of all the donations and when March For Our Lives goes into that escrow account and takes your $10, Chaunielle is going to get a message, an email, a notification, that says, “Hey it’s Jan 1, March for Our Lives just took the $10 that you donated, based on the sweatshirt you bought on November 16 for $100, that we got $10 from, oh and also, we’re using this $10 to buy Tommy a box of cereal.

(courtesy of KROST NEW YORK)

So basically were bringing credibility back into the non-profit space, that money is not being released until the organization actually needs it and for the brand, we’re reengaging with our consumers and giving you the ability to feel good about what you just did. We’re bringing transparency and we’re bringing credibility. And most importantly we are making our customers feel good about that they did. And again it’s about putting this product on, that you were able to buy because it’s an accessible price point and now you’re wearing a brand thats bigger than the clothing, our goal is to make you feel like you’re part of the community when you were something from the brand. 

Also for Second Semester, we’re going to be tackling other issues that stem from the same concepts, of community and unity but also this idea of loving yourself. Because in the past year, we all know how much suicide has affected the world. Young people, successful people, people who have the facade of living a happy life and non-problematic lifestyles and are still suffering and still don’t know how to love themselves. So i think that’s one message, when designing I have in mind for next season. We’re all about designing with purpose. Because I really think it’s important to do that.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PART?

SK: For example if you look at our campaign video, there’s a side by side in the campaign where we have a few of our models, one on the shoulders of another, you know, peaceful protest celebrating and then there’s a side by side of the EXACT, identical replica video that was shot in 1960s in black and white and it’s just like, this is exactly what we envisioned and like Scott said, to see it, to just come to life, I still haven’t been able to sit down and like, give ourselves a pat on the back and I don’t think I ever will, because I’m difficult to be satisfied. I think we can always do better. And I think that’s what’s going to keep us alive. Scott and I both have that same drive. Definitely just seeing this come to live when we met in a Le Pain on Grand Street and literally sketched out on a napkin, and now we’re sitting in our first concept retail store with our product hanging, with our team around us and it’s just a blessing. It’s been our dream. All my friends and family know I’ve always dreamt about having a brand. Scott’s the most talented person, across the board. From design to photography to film, whatever needs to be done, Scott can get that done. I think we’re an incredible team that we divide and conquer. And we are getting to live our dream. That’s something we’ll never take for granted and always look at as a blessing. And if we’re able to create some real change and put a positive message out there, that’s the just going to be the absolute cherry on top. 

(courtesy of KROST NEW YORK)

WHAT IS YOUR FAULT?

SK: Patience, becoming good leaders. Making sure we’re doing everything by the books. Having patience with people. Having patience with each other. Scott and I have screamed at each other along the way, but just knowing that it’s in good faith and it’s all love. 

SC: Ya, Sam is my brother. Our moms were literally hanging out at the opening. I think patience and I hate the word, “expectations and being realistic.” But along those lines just understanding who we are and where we are and what we’re doing. I know I have HUGE expectations. When I say, I want what I want, I mean it. Sam and I are both stubborn which is why I think we were able to get to where we are. We’re so set in our ways and know what we want that we actually have to get it. But I think it’s just working with other people to understand. We’re also working with people who are professionals and have done this before and we have to come from their perspective and understand what it takes for them to do their job. I think gaining that sort of perception will help and that’s just a startup fault: expectations. 

(courtesy of KROST NEW YORK)

KROST NEW YORK concept retail pop-up store in Soho at 357 CANAL STREET will tentatively be open till November 26th 2018 and “hopefully if everything goes well, we’ll have it till the end of the year.”

Jack Rowan Exclusive Photoshoot and Interview for FAULT Magazine

 

PHOTOGRAPHY ELLIOTT MORGAN

STYLING KRISHAN PARMAR

GROOMING LAUREN GRIFFIN @LONDON STYLE AGENCY

 

JACK ROWAN is a young actor with an already-enviable track record. Fresh from a BAFTA nomination for his first lead role, the ‘Peaky Blinders’ favourite has moved quickly and seamlessly onto the silver screen in Simon Amstell’s Benjamin. Currently filming the TV adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s ‘Noughts + Crosses’ in South Africa, we caught up with the young star to discuss his career thus far.

 

You received a BAFTA nomination for your first lead role (in ‘Born to Kill’) – an incredible achievement. Do you feel any additional pressure now to continue go for those sorts of awards or does it just inspire you to try and win them in future?

I went in to ‘Born To Kill’ with no expectations, which made the award nominations even more special to me. If I can go into every job with that same outlook then I won’t feel pressure as such, just a drive to do the best performance I possibly can. That way, if it leads to awards or not, I’ll never be disappointed.

I read that you filmed last Summer for Simon Amstell’s debut feature film, Benjamin, which is scheduled for release later this year. Was it tough to transition from some pretty dark, drama-driven roles to a comedic one?

It definitely was a challenge but it was one I was incredibly eager to take on. I want to look back in the future at a diverse body of work and say that I gave all genres a go and tried as many roles/characters as possible – as long as I see something in each one. It’s scary being on set and having to trust your natural instincts to try and evoke laughter, yet, I enjoyed every second of the experience.

There’s a widely-held perception that the film’s pretty heavily autobiographical. Was it tough to work on something with a director so personally invested in a project?

I’m sure that could be the case with some projects but Simon Amstell’s definitely an exception to that. He created an environment on set which was so positive and as an actor I felt completely free to do whatever came natural to me. That being said, Simon kept control of his message and was always there to give articulate and clear direction whenever he felt it was necessary.

 

You’ve got a lot of well-publicised interests outside of acting. Do you appreciate the fact that you can control – to some extent! – what fans and the general public know about you (through social media, interviews etc)? Or do you worry about public intrusion into your private life becoming too invasive?

I wouldn’t say it’s a worry at this current stage because I’m relatively early on in my career. Although, I do value privacy in my personal life and going forward it’s something I aim to keep. The less people know about me, the easier it is for someone to believe in the characters I play.

 

Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua – who’d win?

I’m going to have to stay on the fence with this one, because as a fan of the sport, they’re two boxers I’d like to meet. I don’t want to be in either ones bad books! So how’s about we go with a draw?!

 

Who’s had the greatest impact on your career so far?

Without a doubt its the whole ‘Born To Kill’ team. That project will forever have a place in my heart. Not only did it make me believe in my own ability, but it led to an agent in the states, multiple award nominations and posters all over the underground. All these things combined have opened so many more doors and I can’t wait for what the future holds.

Do you have a dream role? If so: what is it and why?

I wouldn’t say there’s a specific role that I see as being ‘The One.’ But as I said earlier, I’d love to take on characters in all genres of film, tv and theatre. For me, dream roles are apparent when they arrive. For example, ‘Born to Kill’ was one, and hopefully there’ll be many more.

‘Peaky Blinders’ season 5 is scheduled for 2019. If plot wasn’t an issue (ie: if your character were to stay alive and integral to the plot indefinitely), how long could you see yourself working on any one series?

If the journey of the character was right and it made sense in the bigger picture of my career, I can’t see why I wouldn’t stay in any one series.

What else are you working on later this year/next – acting-related or otherwise?

I have a few things lined up including a project later this year, but as it stands I’m unable to share any specific details. However, I can say I’m excited to embark on another controversial piece playing a complex character at its core.

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

~

Follow Saint Clair on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify

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.

 

~

Follow Freya Ridings on Facebook and Instagram.

Lily Allen cover shoot with FAULT Magazine: FAULTs and all

Lily Allen X FAULT Magazine

FAULT Magazine Issue 29 - Lily Allen cover
Photography: David Yeo
Fashion Editor: Rachel Holland
Hair: Jake Gallagher
Make-up: Georgina Ahmed
Nail Technician: Diana Drummond
Set Designer: Andrew Macgregor
Fashion Assistants: Ana Cirnu And Lupe Baeyens

 

Words: Miles Holder & Elly Watson 

 

FAULT: So obviously No Shame is amazing, congratulations! How’s the reaction been so far?
Lily Allen: The only reaction I’ve really seen is live from fans, and that’s been really amazing. I guess the other thing is reviews which have been on the whole really good. Couple of bad ones, but it is what it is…

 

It’s been four years since Sheezus and you’ve previously said you made “a record for a record company”, how did you approach No Shame differently?
Lily Allen: Well I don’t know if I’d made it for the record company, but I made it for the market. When I first started making music I didn’t think I was going to be a pop star. To be honest, I thought I’d be like Jamie T support act. Then when ‘Smile’ came out and whatever happened… It was beyond all my expectations. I don’t even know if it was really what I wanted, but it happened like that. Because it was successful it’s like you’re trying to repeat that cycle and I think that became wrong in whatever way, and that’s what culminated in Sheezus. I had to reevaluate what it was that I was doing, what it was that I liked and what it was that my fans liked about the first albums when it was going right, and not really thinking about the commercial aspect of things. Because those things aren’t really in an artists control now anyway, it’s all to do with algorithms and streaming figures.

 

Releasing a song at the right time and all of that?
Lily Allen: Not even that! I think it’s all to do with marketing. If you’re not a priority then it’s not going to happen like that and I knew that it was no longer a priority so I was like “Well, what are you doing this for then?” If it’s not to be a pop star it’s got to be for the other reasons, so it was going back to the other reasons.

 

FAULT Magazine Issue 29 - Lily Allen cover
And how was it going back to those previous reasons?
Lily Allen: A relief, I think. Just having the freedom to do whatever it was I wanted and reconnecting. I think it was interesting as well that the first and second albums were very truthful and honest, but from a different perspective. I was a lot younger and I didn’t have any responsibilities – it was all about drugs and sex and the good sides of that. No Shame is the other side.

 

What made you want to explore those other sides in No Shame?
Lily Allen: Just because I was in it! That’s where I was. I’ve always written about my lived experiences and what it is I’m going through. In the first album it was all about going out and London and boys because that’s what I was! I was 19 and that’s what I was seeing. On this album I was really lonely and very isolated from my friends and my peer group, even from members of my family. I suppose maybe because I was writing a book alongside the album I became quite introspective and started thinking about myself and what’s happened more. I spent a lot of time on Twitter and seeing what other people think about the world, but it was the first time I sort of explored myself outside of therapy.

 

What made you want to write a book?
Lily Allen: Money!

 

Fair.
Lily Allen: Money and running out of it! Not seeing many avenues to make it anymore. And also, aside from that slightly facetious answer, I actually don’t have a very good memory, I get really bored of repeating myself and I think that this period, the last four years at least, have been not only really important formative years for myself but for my children as well. And they’re going to ask questions about what happened with Mummy and Daddy and I’m not going to want to go over it. Also it’ll not be accurate in 10 years time when I’m retelling the story. Lots of parents have that difficulty but most parents’ children don’t have the Daily Mail online as their point of reference to find out the truth about what happened and I just don’t want them to think that that’s what it is. So it’s my way of explaining that… and getting paid, yay!

 

And what’s the book called?
Lily Allen: My Thoughts Exactly.

 

FAULT Magazine Issue 29 - Lily Allen cover

 

How about No Shame? Where did that name come from?
Lily Allen: It was called The Fourth Wall for ages because it did feel like that moment in House of Cards where Kevin Spaces turns to the camera and starts talking to the audience and saying that everything else that came before was a bit of an act really – which is true to a certain extent, but it’s slightly exaggerated. But my manager said “imagine if you’re on Graham Norton and you’re having to explain this, that makes you sound really pretentious.” Then one day I came up with No Shame and he was like “you can explain this better.” And I guess it’s just being a woman in music and being tabloid fodder for such a long period of my twenties, everything kind of came with a side dish of guilt and shame and humiliation, but it was all kind of written for me. No-one ever said “are you really embarrassed by this?” or “aren’t you really upset by this?”, it was just “she’s upset, she’s embarrassed, she’s a failure.” So I think it was me addressing all of those things that I do on the record but putting up a bit of an armour really, just saying I’m not ashamed. That’s how we move forward from these things that lots of people go through, but maybe not a lot of us talk about because we feel ashamed.

 

Obviously a lot of us don’t have our lived plastered on the front of the Daily Mail for everyone to read but especially being a young woman, is that motto of not being ashamed something you want people to take from this?
Lily Allen: I think most of of my albums have had a double entendre thing to it – except Sheezus. It’s me saying that I’ve got no shame but Daily Mail readers will listen to it and go “oh she’s got no shame that one.”  You can make it what you want to really. But then also, so often when I’ve been experiencing really great things, like album sales and playing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury or whatever, it’s like I almost don’t let myself have it. I’d be like “didn’t the band play a really great show?” or “didn’t Greg Kurstin produce a really great album?” It’s difficult I think as a woman, especially when people are being so rude about you the whole fucking time and trying to tell you that everything’s happened because of other people, we find it difficult not to feel guilty about our accomplishments in a weird way. It’s that imposter syndrome thing.

 

Like claiming the narrative for yourself and not being ashamed of it. Is that what you want people to feel when they listen to the album?
Lily Allen: I’ve come to terms with the idea now that you put something out and people will make of it what they want. That’s almost another reason why the album’s got that title, it’s like you can either hate it and think that I’ve got “no shame” or you can listen to it and be like “oh that’s good, she’s rid herself of all of that guilt and shame.”

 

And you’ve just mentioned Twitter, do you think it’s important to call out people when they’re being twats on it? Because a lot of people in the public eye get people who are mean about them online but don’t address it.
Lily Allen: I probably address 0.00001 per cent of what it is that I get. And I’ve spent a lot of time online and I think most of my peers do as well. The analogy that I tend to use now is that Twitter is the modern pub. You know? And if people would talk to me like that in real life – if someone was really drunk and lecherous and annoying, I’d probably walk away and ignore him, but if I felt what they said really crossed a line I would call them out. So that’s kind of my filter for it, I guess.

 

You also use your social media to bring up issues that are happening. Do you think it’s important for artists to do that?
Lily Allen: It depends what their goal is. If it’s to make money and get lots of brand endorsements then probably not. If what you’re striving for is something different, which I do, then yeah. I feel like you’ve got to be able to back it up, you know? And I think that’s why the tabloids and everyone hates me so much is because they can’t get me. I am a leftist, I am a socialist, I pay all my fucking tax, you know? I don’t have a company registered in the Cayman Islands and they know that. That’s why they’re so angry because they can’t… if I am being hypocritical I’ll put my hands up and say “yeah that is”, but I believe in what I say. I walk the walk and I talk the talk and that’s why they hate it so much.

 

Completely. I think you’re using the influence and followers that you have to promote important things that people need to be talking about instead of being like “oh if I bring up this issue Missguided might not give me that 10% off sample sale.” So what would you say has been the worst piece of advice you’ve gotten in the industry?
Lily Allen: Sign this record deal for £25,000 from my lawyer at the time… In all seriousness I think there’s a real issue with the legal firms that are giving advice to really young people. I signed that deal when I was 19 years old and I’m still in it. It was a five-album deal for £25,000. And I paid for the advice to sign that deal and it was not good advice.

 

FAULT Magazine Issue 29 - Lily Allen cover

 

Is there any way you can get out of it?
Lily Allen: I’m working on it but I’ve only got one more album to go. But I am very concerned for other young artists for sure.

 

Yeah, it’s terrifying. Finally, what else have you got planned. There’s a big tour at the end of the year?
Lily Allen: I don’t really make plans anymore. It’s all so unpredictable. I just kind of see where the wind takes me. I’m doing this book, which is coming out in September. There’s talk about maybe people buying the rights to it and whether to make it into either a film or TV, and then I’ll take the producer credit on that and do it through my production company so I don’t know, I might really enjoy that process and decide I don’t want to make music anymore and do something else. Or I might decide to do another album.

 

Was there ever a time in those four years between Sheezus and No Shame where you were like I’d rather just…
Lily Allen: Never that I’d rather just do something else. I did do something else when I did my clothes shop with my sister and also having babies. Also having kids is choosing to go on a different tangent. So I do have those moments but I’m completely unqualified, I left school when I was fifteen, this is the only thing I know how to do and I do really enjoy it.

 

And finally, what’s your FAULT?
Lily Allen: Brexit, apparently! I dunno, everything? It’s all my fault, blame me for it. Like what’s my inner fault? What’s wrong with me? Again, the answer is just everything. I think just write everything.

 

FAULT MAGAZINE ISSUE 29 – THE MOVEMENT ISSUE –  IS AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW

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Calum Scott bares all for FAULT Magazine Issue 29

Calum Scott X FAULT Magazine

 

PHOTOGRAPHY WILLIAM BAKER

STYLIST OZZY SHAH

WORDS AMIE PHILLIPS

 

Yorkshire lad Calum Scott shot to fame in 2016 after his goosebump-inducing cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” on Britain’s Got Talent. As well as breathing new life into the record, the rendition propelled Scott into the spotlight, landing him a record deal and changing his life in more ways than than he could ever have known.

 

Your cover of Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my own’ was the most downloaded song of the summer in 2016 after BGT and you became a household name pretty quickly. How did it feel to lose your anonymity so suddenly? 

Calum Scott : It felt incredibly surreal. I went from having a very normal life with a very normal day job and in one moment, the whole trajectory of my life completely changed. Britain’s Got Talent gave me a springboard and a platform where the audition and ultimately my single would be seen and discovered by people all over the world – had I known that going in it would have completely freaked me out. I am lucky in that I still have some anonymity, I still remain a very normal person and do what everyone else does, go to the same places.. staying grounded is very important to me.

 

Although it’s a cover, you sing it with such piercing emotion that you must have related to it quite strongly. Tell me what the song meant to you then and what it means to you now?

Calum ScottI remember hearing the original back in 2010 and was a huge fan because there is no denying, it is a smash! At that time, because of the cool pop production on it, I didn’t hear the lyrics as heartbreaking as they actually are. When I covered the song it was just me and piano.. the words literally leapt out and hit me straight in the chest. I completely relate to them as a guy who is a sucker for falling in love with the straight guys so in my cover I purposefully didn’t change the pronouns – I wanted it to be from my own perspective because I related so much. Now, the song still means the same to me but has complete new purpose. This song undoubtedly changed my life and I feel whether its Robyn’s original or my interpretation of her song, it is changing other people’s lives which is the most humbling feeling ever.

You’ve said that ‘If Our Love Is Wrong’ is effectively your coming out song. What led you to open up about your sexuality on this track?

Calum ScottGrowing up I found it really difficult to identify who I was.. I struggled when I was younger working out if I was gay or if I was just going through a phase and after putting trust in my friends at the time and talking to them about it, I was completely abandoned. That made me suppress my sexuality for the best part of my life. I came out to those closest to me but after my career took off, I had to open my private life to the world and that’s where I had to make a decision on how I was going to handle it especially because at this point, I still hadn’t told my Dad. I literally went into a songwriting session, told them the situation, cried my eyes out and ‘If Our Love Is Wrong’ was born. After we had written that song, it opened the path to my most honest songwriting and made me feel the most empowered I’ve ever felt.

 

You signed with Capitol records back in 2016 but released your debut album ‘Only Human’ this spring. What happened in that time?

Calum ScottThe biggest adventures of my life! I had such unprecedented success with ‘Dancing On My Own’ that it completely changed my world! When Capitol brought me to LA to discuss signing with them, that visit was the first time I had been to the states! Since then I began writing my own songs, travelling all over the world to perform at shows, on TV and radio, supporting incredible artists in the UK such as Jamie Lawson and Emeli Sandé, and all the while trying to record my debut album! It’s been a whirlwind adventure but I have loved every moment of it.

 

You’ve said that, after hearing your music, people have told you it’s given them the courage to come out themselves, or helped them face difficult times. How are you finding the reception of the record so far? 

Calum Scott :The record is becoming exactly what I hoped for – it is becoming a ‘medicine’ for people. I am always incredibly touched when people get in touch to tell me their stories that are/were influenced by the music on my album. To write honest music and remain relatable and approachable was always my goal but releasing this record was more about helping others through my own personal stories and struggles. My fans have been very patient waiting for this album to be released and the reaction has been unreal, it continues to be discovered beyond my fan base in all corners of the world, I couldn’t have asked for a better reception of a debut album.

Tell me about the role your family – especially your sister – has played in supporting your musical career?

Calum Scott :Without my sister I don’t think I would be sat here answering these questions! I only actually discovered my voice because of her. One day she overheard me singing in my room and took it upon herself to put me into a competition and not tell me… NOT impressed initially but with the belief from my friends and family, I took to the stage for the very first time and a passion ignited in me that I had never felt before. Ever since then I have dreamt of what I do now and it is 100% down to them that I believed in myself enough to chase it.

Who would you say your musical idols are?

Calum Scott :When my sister and I were younger, my Mum would always play her favourite artists; Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Queen, Celine Dion.. all these powerful and emotional performers and they just resonated with me! I knew even before I started singing that if I was to open my mouth and perform, it would be that style that came out. I personally still love those artists but my more current influences are artists like Adele, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, artists who for me, write and sing real music. Adele is my number one though. I admire her songwriting, her voice is unreal and she has remained the same down-to-earth girl that started out which is 100% the same footsteps I wish to follow in.

 

What is your FAULT? 

Calum Scott :Making a lot of people cry probably! I don’t mean to but with my music, it just happens! I guess, because I write from very real, sometimes painful places, people can see I am being genuine and I think that goes a long way. That’s something I will continue to be over the course of my career. That might mean more tears though… sorry in advance!

FAULT MAGAZINE ISSUE 29 – THE MOVEMENT ISSUE –  IS AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW

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FAULT Magazine Interview with The Kooks’ Luke Pritchard

 

WORDS: ROBERT K. BAGGS

PHOTO: ROBERT K. BAGGS

With cigarette smoke on my All Saints cardigan, and snakebite on my converse, I would shuffle in to the local meeting point for fresh-faced dreamers, when drinking was new and hangovers didn’t last. A local band would awkwardly slither on stage and bellow some angsty homage to Queens of the Stone Age, before a playlist filled the gaps between acts. The quiet guitar rift of Naïve would start and the volume of the swaying masses increases before converging in to a flat chorus of karaoke. The Kooks have been anthemic to so many people for so many years, and in a symbiotic relationship, the band has stood the test of time and so has their music.

To this day, a long shopping list of their tracks will get a rise out of audiences of all ages, and they stand as only a handful of the early indie era who have evolved and maintained relevance as the geography of modern music has shifted dramatically, as it’s one to do. Sticking to their core musical beliefs and tastes, they haven’t leaned in to the whims of radio air time — a commercial and business risk that’s both noble and saddening — but have instead developed their sound and massaged it in different directions. Their new album Let’s Go Sunshine takes another step in to a refined and thoughtful motif that still bears the thread of the playful, nostalgic sound that made them famous.

 

FAULT: The Kooks have stayed together for so long now, and that’s rare to see. Bands, like companies, don’t usually last that long whether they succeed or not. You’ve had some changed in personnel, but generally it’s stayed constant. Do you have any advice for other bands starting out with regards to longevity?

Luke: It’s a mixture of the team. We’ve all just soldiered on when things were tough, and when things were good, we didn’t lose out heads… completely. We also have a very caring and small management team, so we get a lot of personal care which is a big part of it. They become family and friends as much as a business partnership. I’ve got to believe we’ve always put out decent music and that’s kept people excited and kept the song writing a bit more inspired. Or it’s just luck!

It’s interesting, I’ve spoken to artists before privately about support network and how when you “make it” so to speak, they become crucial in keeping you grounded and healthy, or working to your detriment. Particularly when you go through a dark period and you need a break, I know some artists have had their support network tell them they can’t have a break, they have obligations.

Luke: Yeah and there’s mouths to feed at that level. People depend on you to make money. You have to be strong with that stuff. We’re a different kettle of fish in many ways as we’re a band and we’re not megastars, so we’re not hugely pressured. But with this new album (Let’s Go Sunshine), there are pressures. There are guys in there who have kids and need to pay their mortgage, there’s all that going on. When we took some time, I raised it, and it was difficult. But it did work. It does work. Happiness is so important, mental health is so important, general wellbeing — even if you’re getting smashed all the time and enjoying it, it can get dark. Most song writers are highly emotive; your emotions are just under the surface. So you can lose the plot a bit, and it’s sad to see. But with us, we have a couple of conversations and can take a step back if we feel we’re doing the wrong thing. This is all very relevant to Let’s Go Sunshine. I think this is a really fucking special record because it’s a band coming back in to focus and being a band again, but it took us four years.

Why did it take that long? Was it perfectionism, trial and error, or something else?

Luke: It wasn’t really trial and error, we did some stuff that we shelved. So we decided to stop, regroup, and I went away and wrote some songs and we put out a best of album. It lucked out really, because from that we did some live shows and it all started to come together.

I find it interesting to see how bands progress with their sound over the years. I spent some time yesterday comparing Let’s Go Sunshine with Inside In/Inside Out which obviously shot you to prominence.

Luke: Well, this is the funny thing really. When we first met you said that Inside In/Inside Out had soundtracked a time in your life, which is really cool. But it’s a double-edged sword and I was talking about this the other day. There are a few bands I would say who are in a similar position. We are trying to breakout of that sound back then which was synonymous with that time for so many people. For example, we played a festival the other day and this girl said “listening to you reminds me of when I was 15”. It’s cool, but it’s tough! There are obviously bands that don’t have that and have this freshness. Where as we feel like we’re anchored to our first album. With this new album it’s very important for us to try and break out of that, even though we’re keeping our sound.

I hadn’t thought of it like that, but it’s true. When I say you soundtracked a time in my life, it could be seen as a sort of backhanded compliment, where I’m also suggesting you’re not relevant anymore, which I of course didn’t intend.

Luke: Oh no, I don’t see it as a backhanded compliment. But it’s funny with public perceptions as to me, day to day, what we’re doing is fresh. But it’s got to be a testament to Inside In/Inside Out being such a strong record. I don’t find it frustrating, but it’s very interesting. It’s as if we have this sound that locks us to that time and we will break out of it. Which is what our new record is about.

It is interesting. I mean, with Arctic Monkeys for example. With their albums, they seemed to always make a conscious change. Whereas, with The Kooks, it feels more like evolution than revolution. There’s a strand going through your albums that I recognise as ‘The Kooks’ but Let’s Go Sunshine is a new sound. But if you compare early Arctic Monkeys with Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, it’s just worlds apart. So, for you, I guess you want to break away from your sound, but at the same time, breaking away is bitter sweet.

Luke: It is bitter sweet. On the new album I was conscious to show the DNA of the band. Even when I was writing Four-Leaf Clover, I was jamming on the Ooh La chords, but Hugh brought in a more Smiths vibe to the guitarwork. We want to keep the sound but progress. You can only emulate the bands that you love, and no matter how far you go, there’s always a nod back.

Have you tried revolution as opposed to evolution?

Luke: Well, our fourth album technically was that. I mean, it was a commercial flop, but I’m really proud of that album. We ripped up the album and started again. So, we did it once, and it was exciting. But this new album is about defining us and being ourselves. We’re not trying to follow the trends; I’m not really in to trends, rightly or wrongly. I had a lot of people saying to me that we should get off the guitars and team up with producers and DJs, but it’s just not us. We’re guitars and we’re good live.

I would have hated if you had done that. I can see the commercial value, but I’d have hated it!

Luke: Radio is a tough one, particularly when you’re competing with high-end produced stuff. We never entertained that change, but there were some really great people telling us to do it. They weren’t being arseholes. But I believe in what we did. I love that we found this guy Brandon Friesen who has worked with Nickelback and Sum41, who are not in my world at all. He hadn’t done any band records for years and was working with Billy Ray Cyrus and doing country and I just met him at a barbeque. And we just decided that we should work together and make a proper record like how they used to be made.

Right, time for some straightforward questions. Favourite song off the new album?

Luke: Weight of the World.

All time favourite song to play live?

Luke: Bad Habit. Great guitar opener.

Right, this can be off the record if you want, but do you hate playing Naïve?

Luke: Ha! It can be on the record. I hate playing some of the old songs on radio sessions, but live it’s always great. Even if you don’t feel like playing it, when the crowd get involved it’s amazing. Weirdly no then, I actually love playing it. For a while I said we should do a different version, but I don’t know if we can. It’s such an epic moment when we play that stuff live. It’s a euphoric tune and chorus. Naïve is so unique in our music as we don’t have any other song like it really. But it’s funny, I wrote those when I was so young.

That’s a good point. Do you have any musical regrets? You’ve obviously grown up while putting out music.

Luke: Yeah, I have written some bad songs… some bad songs. But there’s only a few artists in the world that have never written a bad song, I mean maybe not even that. Even David Bowie wrote occasional stinkers. But one of my biggest regrets is on our second album with the mixing. One day I want to go back and mix it again and I want to do it myself. We were going to the States and we were trying to do stuff over there and you get blinded by that, and we mixed it with a big American sound. It was sad really as there was inevitably a backlash coming for us after that first album.

Yeah, you must have been under pressure for that second album to succeed.

Luke: We were, and we did it quickly too. We didn’t take our time. But, some of those songs have lasted well. But the mixing on that second album is definitely my biggest regret.

Ok, what is your most memorable performance? I mean, you recently opened for the Rolling Stones, so that must be up there!

Luke: The Stones was cool actually as I have a family connection. My Dad played with the Stones in his bands in the 60s so that was a nice connection. There are a few performances that stand out though. When we played Ibiza for the first time we were just blowing up but no one really knew us. We played in Ibiza supporting Faithless, who are amazing live,  just as Naïve was hitting and it felt like the band might actually make it you know? Glastonbury too of course.

Finally, what is your FAULT?

Luke: I think my biggest fault is over thinking, its a bit of a double-edged sword because with songwriting it can work out well to never give up and keep chipping away at a song, but you gotta know when to stop otherwise the outcome will suffer. Quite often I’ll rewrite and rewrite and then go full circle back to my original idea. And I get into some pretty bad sleep patterns when I’m working and can mess me up!

 

Taylor Bennett open and honest interview and photoshoot for FAULT Magazine 29

Photography Dalong Yang
Fashion Editor Chaunielle Brown
Grooming Brittan White @kate ryan
Photo assist’ Maya Lou
Fashion assist’ Carina Camacho, Francis Harris and Jennifer Laurantius
Words: Will Soer
Have you ever talked to someone you’ve just met about your sexuality? It’s a scary thing to do at 2pm. Despite the global reach of his music, Taylor Bennett talks to me alone, without intervention from his record label (whose staff includes only his father and his best friend). His older brother – Chance the Rapper – has Chicago on his shoulders, and his father worked as an aide to Obama, but Taylor is carrying a mass of inestimable size. The 22-year-old rapper represents those who resist the repression of categorisation. In 2014 Donald Glover praised Macklemore‘s on-record advocation of gay rights, whilst noting that he was able to do this because of being white. Like its home country, Hip Hop still has many barriers to break.
The title track of your new EP Be Yourself explicitly states ‘I’m an outstanding Afro-American bisexual’? Do you remember where you first performed it?
Nashville Tennessee, at a pride festival. I had never even practiced it, but I knew this project was coming out, I knew what I wanted it to stand for. As much as I love the track and you can bounce around to it, it’s a statement, and it’s often easy to leave a show on a turn-up note and forget the one thing you wanted to have said. I always get the show-tracks (which strip the main vocal) made as soon as I get songs, in case I have a moment like that. I remember performing it and it not sounding that good, with the voice control.
Aside from the sound, physically how did it feel?
Physically it felt great. Like you can go onto the stage and fucking kill it for thirty minutes, and hit everything on the right punch, but sometimes it’s those two minutes where you cut off all the music and talk about what’s going on in your life, why you want to portray this, and then your fans come back and understand it… It’s a crazy feeling, getting an energy that’s reciprocated and sent back to you.
This interview is about you not me, but I want to share where I’m coming from. The first person to play me your music was my brother, he’s three years younger and really benefited from that-
That’s what my brother tells me all the time, we went to the same school, he’d always say to my parents that I know what I shouldn’t do because I’ve seen what he’s done.
I envy you for that! We moved to England when I was eleven, and I was bullied because I sounded gay. I got more confidant, got into music, my brother and best friend both came out, and hip hop has been a big thing between us in a lot of ways. So alongside your music, I really want to explore this stuff, what’s it like to be bisexual within hip hop.
Everybody asks me that question, but that really hit me what you just said. Because in America, I’m black, and we’re all very limited, but to hear about somebody that lives overseas that’s white, that has a younger brother and a best friend that’s gay, and something that keeps you together is hip hop, like man… I won’t say that that’s not something that happens all the time in America, but I’ll tell you that that’s something you won’t hear someone say.
It’s not out in the open.
You’ve gotta ask yourself why people don’t talk about it, and that’s a big part of why I’m doing this, I believe there are people that don’t want us to explore ourselves, who want African Americans to be oppressed based off communication. There are a lot of people who have the same stories as you, but they won’t share them, because it’s not familiar. We all listen to Kanye West, but we don’t talk about how he got bullied and called a gay fish on South Park, and the whole world hated Kanye West. Same with Lil Wayne, he wore skinny jeans and everybody called him gay.
You know I’ve never thought about that aspect of Kanye’s story, it happened before I got into hip hop, when I thought rock bands were where it’s at. Before I saw how clearly human idiosyncrasies are presented in hip hop, where you’ve got all that intensity focussed into one person.
I talk about Young Thug [a cross-dressing rapper who is also featured on Be Yourself] a lot, he’s one of those people that have had to be sacrifices for education. Every time something like that happens in main hip hop culture, the whole world gets affected, and that’s the power of not just music, but like you said, hip hop, having one person who carries the weight. It is hard to be a black artist and not be a rapper, even if the aesthetics of what you do are nowhere near that. It forces people to feel as if they can’t be original, because even their personality has to be what the listener wants it to be. And that’s when things start to be regurgitated.
You recently said that, after coming out on twitter to everyone [including friends and family] on the night you turned 21, there were ten minutes when you could have backed out and claimed you’d been hacked. Did you seriously consider it? Are there certain responses that could have made it very difficult not to back out?
Yeah man. Like yes, yes, yes. I’m not superman. All artists do read their comments, some things that people say do really affect it, there’s a lot of artists that are trying to live with this perception of who people think they are. My whole thing with this project is I’m gonna do the exact opposite, I’m gonna stand up for what I believe in and bring attention to something in the world that is a major topic. Like why, when I talk about this situation, am I always combatting with the fact that hip hop doesn’t identify with gay people?
That’s the funny thing about Young Thug, I know gay people identify with him, my best friend has literally been told ‘you are to Young Thug as Jesus is to God’. We’ve had nights where we get back from a club and put on his track Safe, and we’ve jumped and screamed along to it, and it doesn’t matter that we can’t go through every lyric and say ‘yeah we agree with that’, what matters is the expressive exuberance of his voice and image.
And he’s Young Thug. His name, that’s how America… we are all products of our environment, and that’s how America is made to be. And it’s nothing shy of that. I feel a certain way when I walk down the street, when I have my hoodie on, I don’t feel safe going a lot of places, there’s a lot of things I can’t do. I was talking about cars to one of my friends, and the fact that maybe I shouldn’t get the Porsche that I could afford, because it’s dangerous.
Damn.
There’s a prison-to-school pipeline, based on the standardised testing we take and what bubbles we fill in when about our ethnicity, that’s how many prisons they build in the next 15 years. Private owned companies own and buy prisons for the government, and most of these people who get locked up, they don’t just fucking make license plates, these guys make big brand clothing, all sorts of things in America, for private owned companies.
It’s difficult to remember with this stuff going on that you can do something, rather than just focussing on achieving the chilliest form of existence possible.
I mean I was raised in a Christian household, I believe I have a relationship with God. I believe that God is just like the internet, he sends little bits of pieces of information to everybody, and that’s why we need to have conversations, because you have a piece of information that I need, and I need to transfer to you. Religion puzzles so many people because it is an unknown power, it has variables of people way older than you claiming to have seen things you haven’t seen.
That’s also a defence for hip hop, that you can’t judge the lyrics if you haven’t walked in those shoes. It’s impressive that you have embraced both Christianity and Hip Hop.
Because I’ve seen the greatness that they can bring in my life, the happiness, and I can’t shy that from my listeners, I just want you to be yourself. I don’t wanna be a leader in this thing, I can feel that’s not my purpose. The biggest thing right now that I believe on the world, something that is my purpose, is to start conversation. I’m not supposed to tell you when and where to have it, I’m just supposed to put out an opportunity to kick the door open and talk.

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