"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."In modern Britain, we can get a fairly accurate gauge by sitting in our courts. In the last few days of the outgoing government a new set of fees were introduced into legislation...
I have personal experience of self-publishing and know just how satisfying it can be to have readers respond to a book. My second self-published novel, Phase, has recently been acquired by Endeavour Press and will be republished later this year under its new title, Out of...
I've previously written about Josh Savage a very talented singer songwriter. In addition to possessing prodigious talent, Josh has to be one of the hardest working musicians around. Not content with building an online following, Josh has quite literally taken to the streets in order to win fans....
If John McLane became a priest, he'd probably end up being cut from the same cloth as Doug Heming, one of the most unusual and adventurous clergymen I've ever met.
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Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu is back this week, returning for its fourth series on Cartoon Network. On Saturday, the first three episodes were premiered at the Empire Leicester Square, where they were presented in full IMAX glory. My wife and I took our three children and the whole experience...
A slow death by a thousand cuts is still a death. Free speech is regarded by many as a fundamental right because it is the guardian of free thought. If you are free to say what you think, you are free to think. By constraining free speech, we automatically constrain...
Ella on the Run caught the music industry's attention earlier this year when she featured on Glastonbury's Emerging Artist list. I first got to know Ella on the Run when she released her single Golden Boys and have since been lucky enough to collaborate her on the music...
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I got to know Shane Abbess in 2009, when we started collaborating on my graphic novel series, The Hunter. Anyone who's ever read anything about Hollywood will know the movie business demands that people earn their stripes. In the years I've known him, Shane has earned enough stripes to become...
I first wrote about Laurel in October 2013, when I tipped her as one of ten artists to watch. Since then, Laurel has exceeded what anyone could have expected. Her new single, Memorials, is simply beautiful. Check it out below:
Photo by Cansu
Laurel has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times, NME, Q Magazine and many other publications. She's had support from Zane Lowe and Huw Stevens amongst others, and charted in Billboard.com's Top 40 Emerging Artists. Millions of online plays and thousands of singles sold, it seems like Laurel is rightfully on the cusp of breaking big. Here's a mix of experience and advice gleaned from Laurel's journey so far.
If you've got talent, you'll make it eventually. Sometimes, eventually comes before you turn eighteen. Laurel says:
"I've always sung, but at about eleven I started writing songs on the keyboard, and then went onto get a guitar at thirteen. I was really into folk music and listened to Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. My music is very different now but lyrics still remain the most important part of a song for me. When I was seventeen I uploaded a demo onto Soundcloud and somehow it was found by the music industry. It was pure luck. We had huge support from blogs and on my 18th birthday, I signed a contract with Turn First Artists."
DREAM BIG AND BE PREPARED TO WORK FOR IT
My friend Shane Eli has a tattoo of these words, "Those who don't create the future they want must endure the future they get."
There will always be people who tell you that what you're striving for is impossible, but if you don't attempt the climb, you'll never know how far up the mountain you might get.
"I have huge ambitions, when I was younger I found this quote that I have always lived by, "Dream your dreams a size too big so you can grow into them." I always want to better myself, constantly improve. You can never predict what is going to happen and sometimes goals like selling a million records or winning a Brit Award doesn't necessarily mean you are a successful artist. My goal is to be able to make music for the rest of my life."
Photo by James Perolls
DO IT FOR THE LOVE
Laurel is another artist who is driven by something greater than the need for fame or fortune.
"I write because I have to express myself in some way. I have learnt over time that I find it hard to open up and talk about how I feel sometimes, not because I don't want to, but I can't seem to express how I feel. That is where writing comes in. It really takes a weight off after I have written a song about my troubles. Theres nothing like creating something either, its such a buzz that you have just made something completely brand new."
Photo by Rebecca Need-Menear
BE PREPARED FOR GOOD THINGS
The life of an artist isn't all pain, strife and angst.
"So many crazy things have happened but I think my favourite thing so far was actually playing Bestival this year. I headlined the bandstand and whilst I was on stage I was thinking this really is nuts! I didn't expect many people to come to my slot but it was packed and everyone was dancing and singing along. I've been to Bestival four years in a row, and to be playing somewhere where I have seen so many acts that I admire is so awesome."
AND BE PREPARED FOR BAD THINGS
And we're back to the angst. Or comedy strife at the very least. Laurel has a great example of why artists should be prepared for anything.
"When I was shooting the video for Shells we had the craziest day of bad luck. We decided to take the ferry over to Calais as we wanted to film the white cliffs of Dover. It started with someone forgetting their passport, then we hit six hours of traffic, our film cameras broke so we lost half the footage, and when we finally got to Calais, the rental car company phoned us to say we weren't actually allowed across borders and had to come straight back. We got searched at the other end on suspicion of carrying drugs, and it ended at five in the morning with us driving over our other camera. Some how we still managed to make a video!"
Working as a music video director, I've had bad days, but destroying two cameras is something else. Be prepared for anything and everything to happen and when it does, just do what the poster says; keep calm and carry on.
Laurel - Shells
FIVE THINGS EVERY MUSICIAN SHOULD KNOW
According to Laurel:
1. 99 percent of the things you are told might happen, never will.
2. Its a really small world where everyone knows each other.
3. Its probably the most competitive industry EVER.
4. Its so uncertain and spontaneous that it will constantly keep you on your toes. You'll learn to never make plans too far in advance.
5. A lot of people don't actually have their own opinion everyone seems to follow one another, so don't take their comments too seriously. You should know how you want your own music to sound.
Thanks to Laurel for sharing her thoughts and experiences. Laurel is playing with Jack Garratt December 2nd at the Prince Albert in Brighton, and is headlining Hoxton Bar and Kitchen for Gold Dust on the 9th Dec. Laurel's forthcoming EP, Holy Water, is released on the 15th December. For more information, check out http://classiclaurel.com
Last week's launch of Band Aid 30 has once again focused the world on what is happening in Africa. However, there has been something of a backlash against the single from people who accuse it of perpetuating negative, old fashioned stereotypes.
12 years ago, my...
The greatest trick of all time was not the devil convincing man that he did not exist. It was man convincing himself that woman is an inferior being. The continued strength of anti-female feeling is extremely worrying, which is why campaigns such as HeForShe, spearheaded by
I recently remarked on how David Cameron's video rating scheme might have unintended consequences in that it will probably create a whole new category of music videos that feature graphic sex or violence.
I recently shot a music video for a song called War of Words by the very talented Ella on the Run. If you like catchy electro, check out Ella's earlier track, Golden Boys.
Ella on the Run - Golden Boys
During a packed day of filming I realised that I've come down with a serious affliction: I'm a 'liker'. Likers are people who use the word 'like' in a variety of ways that have nothing to do with a comparison or expressing a fondness for something. I had that Matrix moment of self-awareness when I heard myself saying the words, "I was like, you can't do that."
In this instance I'd replaced the perfectly satisfactory word 'said', with the words 'was like'. Once I'd realised that I was a liker, I caught myself using like in place of a pause. Instead of the dreaded 'er' I was subbing in the equally unattractive like. I found I was also using like as an unnecessary additional word, "So we went to the pub and there was like this guy who had no trousers on." There wasn't like this guy, there was just a guy.
Growing up in North West London, I was often mocked for being moderately well spoken. I don't think I was a defender of the Queen's English, but I certainly never used like as some sort of linguistic condiment, to be sprinkled liberally over every sentence. I wondered when I'd been struck by the affliction and just how far like has spread.
The news isn't good. Like has spread everywhere. Chances are you know a liker. You're probably no more than ten feet from one right now. You could well be a liker yourself. A quick, unscientific straw poll of half-a-dozen friends revealed only one non-liker; my UK manager, who has no time for superfluous words. A movie industry couple are severe likers, using like almost every other word. A well-respected businessman and senior partner in one of the world's largest professional services firms, is a moderate liker. A European musician, who has been living in London less than four years, is another severe liker. Primary school teacher; chronic liker. National journalist; severe liker. If you're a liker, chances are you won't even be aware of it.
Listen to Radio 1 and it's full of likers. Nick Grimshaw is a serious liker. Dev is another big liker. By the way, if you haven't heard his hilarious Strictly fan messaging service for Scott Mills check it out here.
Like is totally mainstream and, because we're deeply impressionable beings, it won't be long before it conquers the nation. None of the people I've spoken to realised they were likers, and most vowed to immediately cure themselves of the affliction. The trouble is it's very hard to undo linguistic programming, particularly when it's taken place without the subject even knowing it.
What really worries me about the rise of like is just how easily it's spread. Language is an expression of thought, and if it's that simple for an unwanted verbal affliction to invade the subconscious of so many people, what other ideas and behaviours might we have caught without realising it?
I'm making a conscious effort to stop mis-liking and am going to try to use the word like properly. For example, I really like this video of Jungle performing live in Bratislava.
Jungle - Live in Bratislava
Of course, that's easy to write. If I was saying it in person it would be like, "I like really like this like video of like Jungle performing like live in like...
Earlier this year an attorney based in Savannah, Georgia produced what has to rank as one of the most cost effective commercials of all time. Originally broadcast on his local TV station during the Superbowl, Jamie Casino's ad went viral overnight and became a global sensation. It's easy to see...