Ady Suleiman: Exclusive shoot for FAULT Issue 28

Ady Suleiman was shot by Miles Holder and styled by Edith Walker Millwood exclusively for FAULT Magazine Issue 28 – the Structural Issue. Interview by Will Soer.

Ady Suleiman knows who he is. Since he started singing his own songs aged 18 he’s been through a lot; collaborations with superstars (Chance the Rapper, Joey Bada$$, Erykah Badu), major label deals, and intense promotion schedules. His blend of honesty and groove formed irresistible rolling RnB, that explored the issues of his life in real time. Last year he wrote an article for the Independent opening up about recent mental health issues, a heavy stall on his mind and career that had taken a lot of work and lifestyle changes to release. Today I’m talking to him a couple of weeks before his debut album Memories will drop, and one day before he thinks he’ll be over a flu, but things are calm where he is. He’s enjoyed the excuse to binge-watch TV in his London flat and feels excited to be back on the road. Before getting into the interview we talk about another recent experience he enjoyed; his photoshoot with FAULT chief-editor Miles Holder; ‘it’s a skill for the photographer to get a natural look, as standing in front of loads of bright lights is always a bit tense.’

FAULT: Do you find photoshoots that different from performing in gigs, in terms of aesthetically presenting yourself?

Ady Suleiman: With music you always have the song. Any time I get lost and start thinking ‘oh shit there’s a lot of people in here’ and that’s in my mind, I say to myself ‘listen to the music’ and I can get back into character.

One thing I noticed in your music is that there’s a lot of direct addresses, to friends and lovers, when performing these tracks do you go into that headspace?

I think it’s really good to, as it’s like a scripted performance; you can perform the lines in a million ways, some are right. You can just go onstage and perform, and people would think it’s alright, but I want that extra level; the songs are personal and emotional and quite direct, so I want people to feel that story. I don’t necessarily visualise the person I’m addressing, but I always think about me as a character, what am I showing here to the audience, the emotion I was feeling when I wrote that song.

Do some of your tracks have an element of you talking directly to yourself?

100%, it works in both ways. For example, with Why You Runnin Away, it came about from me being frustrating with someone close to me, I was like why the fuck are you doing this shit. As I wrote it I related it to myself; maybe me running away doesn’t have as much consequence as yours does because you’re in a more severe matter, but I can still apply this to myself.

I recently read an article that connected the rise of quiet-storm style RnB in the US with political tension, as it’s a time when people need help with pessimism and anxiety. Do you think about your music as something that could help people like this?

Definitely. It always depends on the concept, sometimes it is just a story, but sometimes I think what am I trying to say with the story? Why am I telling it? Music is stuff that you say, you know everyone goes through, I can get away with saying it by singing it. Like with Running Away maybe I didn’t actually say that stuff to my friend. Some other people are comfortable just saying that stuff normally, but me not so much.

Do you feel like, this ability to express yourself more through song than through spoken word is aided by your musical lineage? Do you think that, in comparison to other genres, your style empowers you more?

I don’t think so, because I don’t really think of genres as doing a specific thing. I think I’d still be direct if I was into metal. If someone gave me a hip hop beat, a reggae beat, a soul beat, a jazz beat, what I’d do on top of this would be similar in terms of my delivery. Genre for me is more the instrumentation and what you put around it, rather than delivery. I think I got that from Amy Winehouse, because she was doing Jazz on that first record, but her lyrics were like ‘I need to get the right angle so he can fuck me right’. That’s why I really liked it, it was contemporary; she spoke the same way that we speak. I wanna talk the way I talk and speak freely.

So is she the GOAT for you?

Vocally, yeah 100%. She made me believe in myself, because she did that jazz/hip hop cross when I was wondering if I’d be able to the music I wanted to make.

She gave British music more hunger for that kind of direct honesty and strident character, that broke away from the semi-American ambiguous Simon Cowell delivery.

Yeah absolutely, I feel like I knew her, like she was my mate. When I went to see that documentary about her everyone in the cinema left feeling the same way, and I felt annoyed, like ‘you don’t know her better than me!’ I don’t think we’ll see anyone like that for some time.

Listening to the 6 minute version of Need Somebody To Love makes it clear how central rhythm is to your voice, even the acapella section keeps a headnod going, and I could tell when the track’s end came without checking my phone screen because your voice broke time and curtails off. Where do you think that flow in your voice comes from? I’m assuming it’s not Amy Winehouse.

I don’t know, maybe hip hop, I listen to a lot of stuff like Damian Marley and Lauryn Hill. This is just me making sense of the question, it might not be true, but I think it’s because of my dyslexia. My reading comprehension is actually quite bad, so when I write something I freestyle. The freestyle has a specific flow, and I write to that flow. Some people can write something and then change the melody afterwards but that’s not how my brain works, it’s too fucking slow. I wish I could, because it takes ages to write this way, but once I’ve written something it’s already got an accent. Because I write in this instinctive manner I feel stuck to this flow. The music’s put around that; I don’t write to beats, it always starts with me and the guitar. It’s always so natural, which can be a fault sometimes because I want to just write a sentence, but at the same time it helps bring that uniqueness. Like I don’t focus on that flow in my music, it’s not a conscious thing, it’s just me. If you really want to be unique, even if you can’t sing, just crack your voice on a record, because no one else has your voice.

You sing about your social anxiety in Pass The Alcohol; is it difficult to re-access songs that are about being in that dark place?

Absolutely not. Those songs written about my mental fragility, I find it really easy to slip back into them, probably because I still have those thoughts but I respond differently to them. That song was about a time when I was using alcohol to deal with social anxiety, and I can still imagine doing that, but I’m choosing not to. Serious and State of Mind can be harder because they’re more about me having a theory, and I’ve developed on those theories now; I see naivety in them.

Do you wanna keep it that way, or would you consider rewriting songs to fit where you are now?

The only thing I sometimes do is in the outros, I’ll add little bits on, it’s a reflective period. And that’s actually how Need Somebody To Love was, the rappy part after the big chorus when it’s like *sings ‘bam bam bam bam’ beautifully*, in the story it’s like ‘cool, now I’ve met that person.’ But because it’s all me it’s not hard to go back to those places.

Do you think that your ability to slip into the mindset of something that’s been hard for you is easier once that you’ve solidified it into a song?

There’s a sense of that, because there’s a distance from it. When I come offstage I’m not still in that song, it’s over, though that depends where you are in your life. When I wrote Drink Too Much and performed it in those months, I’d come offstage and think about it, and I’m having a fucking drink. This is why I called the album Memories, because these songs are like little segments, little thoughts. Have you seen that Harry Potter thing, where he pulls memories out and puts them in a bowl? I can go into the songs and then come back out, without it sticking.

Photographer: Miles Holder
Fashion: Edith Walker Millwood
Grooming: Shamirah Sairally
Words: Will Soer

FAULT MAGAZINE ISSUE 28 – THE STRUCTURAL ISSUE – IS AVAILABLE TO ORDER NOW

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FAULT Magazine attends James Bay X TOPMAN Launch Party

The fashion and music industries have always shared a close bond with artists such as Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Tinie Tempah making genuine waves and turning heads within the fashion world. Today we’ve been blessed with a new collaborative capsule collection from Brit Award-winning artist James Bay and Topman.

 

Last night we attended the official launch party at London’s Ace Hotel to get a closer look at the 13-piece line and to see the man behind the collection.

The collection is personal and the pieces are all items which we can imagine James Bay would wear himself as opposed to the old ‘Slap a famous name on a predesigned collection’ which we’ve seen so much of from other brands in the past. As with many things, the true beauty of this collection is in the details; the effort put into the meticulous embroidery, addition of personal lyrics, intrinsic patterns truly show and elevate the collection above the norm.

FAULT Magazine alumni were out in full force last night with Ella Eyre, Vanessa White and Becca Dudley all showing up to give their support.  Sipping Patrón Tequila, including Patrónics, Patron Margaritas on the rooftop bar the space was completely decked out like we were on the set of the lookbook shoot – guitars and all!

A wonderful evening of fashion, friends and music – we’re looking forward to seeing what other exciting strides Topman can continue to make!

FAULT Magazine Guest Fashion Reporter Dougie Poynter Reviews Topman ss17 LCM Show

 

This LCM season FAULT Magazine have partnered up with McFly’s Dougie Poynter to add a new perspective to our LCM reporting. Dougie attended the Topman LCM SS17 show and shares his thoughts on the collection below. Stay up to date with Dougie’s thoughts live by following him on twitter and Instagram.
When I first arrived I saw lots of friends like Nick Grimshaw and Oliver Cheshire, who told me he had just got back from a shoot where he had been wearing roller skates and speedos :-).
As the show started it was evident it was to be a celebration of Britain. Starting with the soundtrack, which included a number of drum and bass tracks that I grew up with as a kid. The music gave the show real a sense of nostalgia.
When it came to the fashion I was particularly into the top half, especially the silk shirts with the slight western details. I also thought the fall track suits were very cool. The oversized jackets were also something I will definitely be investing in! I also need to find out what the models were using in their hair and how can I get it?
Great opening to LCM!
Words:  Dougie Poynter

London Collections: Men!

With London Collections: Men arriving, we now have a showcase for the best in menswear design that London has to offer, fitting neatly into the menswear schedule dictated by Paris and Milan. Big names such as Paul Smith and Burberry in the line-up, and even some support brought in from across the pond by the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, promise to finally grant British menswear all the attention it deserves.

Astrid Andersen – A/W 2012

But London Collections: Men is not just an improvement compared to the off-schedule London Fashion Week Menswear Day in terms of timing. A long list of exhibitions and presentations, and not to forget a launch event hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales himself, will celebrate British tradition and unsurpassed quality, while young designers will get the chance to present their work to international press. That mix of experience, tradition, innovation and new ideas is what makes London stand out as a fashion capital.

By creating London Collections: Men, the British Fashion Council did not only intend to offer British fashion houses a bigger media platform for their menswear lines, but also to offer international and British press and buyers an ‘eclectic and exciting mix of designers.’ Long established businesses with decades of experience, such as London’s world famous Savile Row tailors, attract an audience that is above all interested in craftsmanship and well-made tailoring, giving up-and-coming labels the chance to prove that their work is of similarly astonishing quality. Likewise, emerging designers and fresh fashion graduates from London’s countless fashion schools draw the attention of those who look for new ideas and innovation, which they will just as well find in the collection of a traditional British brand.

Agi&Sam – A/W2012

Britain’s heritage brands and tailors managed to stay relevant over the decades and continue to do so because of their worldwide reputation and incomparable skills. But also by keeping up with younger brands and making use of all the modern marketing strategies. Long gone are the times of wood-panelled stores being a standard in Savile Row, these days Mayfair’s tailors outdo each other with most exciting window displays and some of them even launch ready-to-wear collections every season. Burberry, the epitome of a traditional British brand, has one of the most star-studded front rows in the industry at each and every show.

In a similar way, young and hopeful designers turn to experienced brands for inspiration and knowledge, one of the most well-known examples being Alexander McQueen. As one of the greatest innovators of the last couple of years, he learned his craft as an apprentice in Savile Row, cutting patterns and stitching together classic bespoke suits.

MAN, a joint initiative of Topman and Fashion East, supports the newest menswear labels in London and presents their work to the world. Designer Astrid Andersen, whose collection will be shown as part of the MAN showcase, finds some of the inspiration for her innovative sportswear-inspired pieces in the craftsmanship of traditional tailors. Similarly, design duo Agi&Sam, who will present their work alongside Astrid Andersen, make us of very traditional pattern cutting and tailoring techniques, but pair them with unconventional prints and textures, playing with tradition and new ideas.

There’s no doubt that London Collections: Men’s debut will catapult the new showcase into international spotlight, along with London’s menswear designers, making the ever growing market for men’s luxury apparel more accessible for them. London’s identity as a place where tradition and innovation are equally valued and complement each other will set it apart from the rest and leaves us excited to see what’s to come.

London Collections: Men will take place from June 14 to June 17.

Topman: The Next Generation

Trust Topman to find a niche that needs filling. Always on trend with men’s fast fashion and pioneering new talent with it’s collaborations, they have now jumped on the magazine wagon and created their first online fashion magazine entitled Generation.

The first issue is edited by John-Paul Pryor, who comes from the edgy Dazed stable, so expect diverse and educated content. Bridging the gap of music, fashion and film, it will surely open a cultural can of worms!

Designed by Saatchi, the magazine, which is overseen by Gordon Richardson, Topman’s Design Director, promises to offer a multi-media platform, where the reader can gain ‘a unique cultural insight into the worlds of fashion, film, music and art”.

The style of the magazine allows it be easy to navigate and certainly one that will be a go to reference point. The content of the first issue features new designers Matthew Miller, James Long and Lou Dalton, who might be known from London Fashion Week, as well as emerging talent in fashion, music and sport.

Interviews with designers nestle neatly next to features on cult movies, up and coming photographer Kate Cox, Ezra Miller, Yoko Ono and Amy Winehouse.

This site, I am sure will not just be for the boys!

Check it on www.magazine.topman.com/issue-0

By Sara Darling