BST Hyde Park FESTIVAL SPECIAL – THE WELL-KNOWN, THE NEW, THE LEGENDARY

Photography: Jack Alexander

 

Words: Adina Ilie

This weekend, British Summer Time showcased an array of exceptional talent ranging from the well-established to the ones-to-watch. As ever, BST Hyde Park is a celebration of music in all of its splendour, where genres intertwine, and people gather to immerse themselves in pure talent. This year, Bruno Mars, this year’s most acclaimed headline act completely sold out the festival on Saturday. He gathered support from acts such as Charlie Wilson, Naomi Scott, Liv Dawson along with the likes of DNCE, Khalid, Yungen and many others. As an impromptu moment, Joe Jonas of DNCE also announced that both of his siblings were supporting the band side-stage, making the crowd go wild in ecstasy and nostalgia altogether.

 

British Summer Time is now left behind with a heavy heart as the sight of a deserted Hyde Park is imminent, but there is no doubt that 2019 will bring even greater things for the most emblematic event in London’s festival history. For the time being, we look fondly at the acts that graced the stage in splendour this weekend.

 

LIV DAWSON

What’s your most exciting festival moment to date?

The best part has to be meeting people that I admire. Also, last year I played Wildlife festival on the main stage, which was absolutely amazing. I also remember meeting Lucy Rose, who is an incredible singer and I was absolutely freaked out.

 

What are you most looking forward to at BST?

I am so excited to play my set and also be surrounded by so many amazing talents. I’m looking forward to seeing Tom Walker, Bruno Mars, Khalid. It’s going to be a good day.

 

What is your festival FAULT?

I played The Great Escape quite recently and I had some technical difficulties on stage. I started one of my songs wrong and I had to start it all over again. It always happens, but that just makes the set funnier.

YUNGEN

 

What’s your favourite part about playing music festivals?

They bring an entirely different vibe. I was doing a lot of club gigs and there’s only a certain set that you can do in a club. At festivals you can get really creative.

 

How will your set today differ from the sets you usually play?

At club gigs, I like to quickly go through the songs to keep the energy up. I feel like at festivals, they come to see – you – so there’s more space to be creative.

 

What’s your festival FAULT?

I was at a festival and some kids climbed up on the fence and started shouting ‘Hey Yungen!’ And I was like ‘hey man, are you alright?’ and they thought that was an indication to jump over the fence. Security was looking at me like ‘what have you done?!’ because they had to chase those kids all around the festival!

 

DNCE

 

You’ve recently released a new EP People to People which has an entirely different sound to your previous material. What made you change direction?

Joe: For any person, you look at yourself a year back and realise how much you’ve grown ever since. For us, as musicians, we definitely have grown together, separately, emotionally and even physically *laughs*. We finally tapped into something new and it’s exciting to share the journey this very moment, instead of waiting a few more months for putting an entire album together. We just wanted to release this EP and get it out there.

 

You’ve got a more serious note on the EP. How did you tap into that particular part of song writing?

Cole: What we did is that we took away a few layers and stripped it down to what instruments we’re playing and where we are emotionally. It might be a little more sophisticated, but it’s also a bit more indie rock. We wanted to focus on that. Because we couldn’t do a 180 – we’re DNCE – funk meets rock’n’roll meets pop. So, we twisted the knobs a little bit and we have a good idea what’s next. We hope to release more music soon.

 

How are festivals different to you as opposed to your own personal shows?

Joe: Festivals are always more fun. You get to meet a lot of new artists and hang out in really elaborate tents. But it’s not just festivals – this is Hyde Park. Playing Hyde Park is the dream. It’s definitely a bucket list one for us.

 

Do you have any festival anecdotes that you’d like to share?

Joe: We’ve had moments when we’ve lost each other and then found each other in the most bizarre situations. We’ll disperse and then hours and hours later I’d be waiting in line for the urinal and Cole pops right out.

Cole: We were at a festival and we were watching Average White Band play and we were literally having the time of our lives. Dancing, singing, it was great. But somehow, all the pictures that our fans took of us then – we literally looked mortally depressed.

 

What’s your festival FAULT?

All: Fried food, that’s for sure.

NAOMI SCOTT

 

You’ve got a stellar Hollywood career and now you’ve gone into music too. What spurred your love for music?

I grew up in church, so I grew up listening to gospel music. I remember going through my dad’s iTunes and stumbling upon Kate Bush. She’s fantastic, weird and whacky and I loved it! I also love Enya (probably because I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan) – but clearly my influences are very mixed!

 

Who would you most like to collaborate with – out of all of the artists that you’ve pointed out just now?

Honestly – I really love Chance The Rapper. I’d love to do something with him. Collaboratively, he would be ideal in terms of what he actually brings to the table. I also love J. Cole – and what I love about him is his storytelling. There’s always a message with his music.

 

We all know of your Hollywood highlight moments – but what are your musical highlights?

For me, the highlight has just been able to grow and stay independent. But the biggest moment was a month ago when I ended my UK tour in London. I’ve been putting out music sporadically for a long time and people knew the whole back catalogue. Stuff that I’ve released years and years ago.

 

What stood out the most?

I was in Cardiff, in Wales and there was a girl right at the front who literally knew all of the words to every single song. For me – that was the best moment.

 

What do you want your fans to take from your music?

I honestly just want people to have a good time. I want them to have fun, I’m completely myself on stage and I want people to feel escapism when they come to my shows. Kind of like movies – in a way. And I want it to be a memorable experience.

 

What’s your festival FAULT?

Well, this is my first festival, so I’ll just say that it’s very hot outside and I’m very disorganised!

 

CHARLIE WILSON

 

What’s your most fond memory of BST Hyde Park?

I was here a couple of years ago on one of the smaller stages when Stevie Wonder and Pharrell were playing. I said that one day I’ll play the main stage and here I am today.

 

Do you have a memorable moment from playing live that you would like to share?

I played a show with The Rolling Stones when I was in my 20s. We opened the show in Kansas City. Back in that day, we had no hits. We were making up songs to sound like rock songs basically. So, I went into a song – except that I didn’t know it was already a Rolling Stones song! And I started singing Jumpin’ Jack Flash and everyone kept signalling me to stop doing it. And afterwards I went to my manager and asked him how many shows we had left with The Stones and he said that he was pretty sure that that was our last one.

 

What’s your festival FAULT?

I don’t have one now, but back in the day it used to be drugs and alcohol. I’m sober now, been sober for a long time, but I wish I hadn’t wasted all the time.

 

‘Not Another Grime Artist’ – Discussing The Transcendence of Yungen

 

It’s no big secret that over the last few years grime music has broken back into the mainstream and been introduced to a whole new wave of listeners and supporters. Despite some scepticism to the rise, it’s undeniable that it has allowed underground and independent artists new and seasoned to flourish.

The case of Yungen is different, however – in truth it’d be wrong to label Yungen as a solely “grime artist”  – his musicality transcends genres and while many have tried to place his music into simple one-size-fits all boxes, it is, in fact, his ability as a songwriter to work in several disciplines of music which has always seen him flourish regardless of the trending musical climate.

Just off a headline show at Jamaica House 2017 and with ‘Bestie’ bursting into the UK Top 20 – we caught up with Yungen to discuss his musical journey, labels and growth.

 

FAULT: As a songwriter, where do you look for inspiration?

Yungen: I get most of my inspiration just being out and driving. When I’m sat down in a writing session, it’s difficult to just start from scratch; I need prior inspiration before I just start.

Has not releasing music which fits into solely one genre made it harder on you as an artist?

I think it’s helped me because when times have changed and music has developed, not being able to put me in a box has allowed me to stay relevant. In the last few years with grime and afro bashment-rave being in, to be able to do everything has helped me release music people are vibing at the time.

 

Is it hard when people say “Yungen, the grime artist” and put you into that one box when you work across a number of different genres?

A little bit – I feel like me being called grime MC is because I came in at its peak. Me doing grime they’d call me grime but years before I was called a UK rapper and now after ‘Bestie’ they’d probably call me an afro-beat artist [laughs]. I don’t mind that I have been labelled as this or that because I know I’m not just one kind of artist and it’s on me to always make that clear.

 

A lot of new fans have jumped on to the grime very quickly – do you think this sharp rise is going to help or hurt the genre in the long run?

I don’t believe that it’s going to hurt the genre. I think grime has just been opened up to a wider audience especially with people like Stormzy who are killing it and giving all the younger MCs coming up more opportunities.

Are you a fan of large stages or do you prefer the smaller venues and session gigs where it’s just you and the music?

I enjoy performing, it’s one of the biggest perks that comes with it. A couple of years ago I went on tour with Naughty Boy across the world, and that was a big experience for me, and it made me see a different side to performing in smaller clubs.

 

What’s been the best part of your musical journey so far?

There have been so many different moments that have been iconic for me. Signing a record deal and being able to put out songs and charting. Being on tour with other people and putting on my tour has been cool.

 

‘Bestie’ has blown up and become one of the hottest records this summer, do you ever worry about topping the high bar you’ve set for yourself?

No, I’m not worried, it just made me excited for my next one. With ‘Bestie’ I had a plan when I made it, and I had a plan of what I want to release after, I didn’t expect it to go as big as it did but I’ve always had a long-term goal, and I’m excited about the next move.

 

What are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to everything really – a lot of R&B and rap and whats popping at the moment.

 

What’s changed the most about you since the debut?

I’d say I’ve grown and learnt a lot about the industry and the strategies of putting out new stuff. Going from being independent and to signing a record deal, it’s good to learn everything involved.

 

If you could give your younger self any advice what would it be?

It’d be to learn more and be smarter on the business side of music – I’ve learnt it along the way now, but it’d have been good to have known how things work from the get go.

 

What is the big dream?

When I first started, I didn’t think I”d be here now, and because I’ve met what my target is so now, I’m just setting myself new goals every week.

 

What is your FAULT?

I don’t like going out much, and I’m antisocial with going out. I’m more happy at home with my boys or in the studio, so maybe I need to start going out and enjoying life a bit more.