Q + A with Monsieur Adi

Monsieur Adi

Monsieur Adi has been a firm favourite here at Public Description.  Our first interview was in 2013 while I had a weekly radio show. After researching different artists I stumbled across a slick and addictive remix done by Adi of a Lana Del Rey track ‘Born to Die’.  From that moment I was hooked on Monsieur Adi’s music. I am not alone as he became a sought after musician, producer and remixer due to his elegant musical offerings.

Since 2010 he has been creating official remixes for artists such as, Ellie Goulding, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Bastille, Laura Mvula, and The Kooks. In 2014, he debuted his brilliant single “What’s Going On?” featuring vocals of A*M*E.

Adi has established himself as one of the most consistently creative and dynamic artists around 

Public Description is thrilled to have caught up with Monsieur Adi for a short Q&A to find out how he has been coping during lockdown and what we can expect from him in the near future.

 

Elle: We have missed you at Public Description. How have you been spending lockdown?
Monsieur Adi: That means so much to me! Thank you. I have been working on some various projects. Luckily I had planned for it to be a quieter year.

ElleWhat positive would you take from this period?
Monsieur Adi: The positive is that I have been able to get in touch with myself on a very deep level as well as
connect with my friends and family more, despite the social distancing.

ElleHave you found it difficult during this time to be creative?
Monsieur Adi: At the beginning of the pandemic, I just completely shut down and could not create even if I wanted
to. My anxiety, something I have been dealing with, just multiplied heavily. But through some inner and
outer work, I was able to get back to it and am feeling happy.

Elle: It sounds like it was quite challenging for you for a while. I am so pleased to hear you over came this and are excited to be back. Is there any advice you could give to anyone else starting out right now during this time?
Monsieur Adi: Breathe, haha. Even after I have been in the industry for a while, it feels like I am just starting
out. I’d say never lose the fun and joy of making music if you can.

Elle:The suspension of live music under lockdown has been devastating for artists, how has this impacted you?
Monsieur Adi: To be honest, it has not impacted me so much as I prefer the production side of things as opposed to performing live and I had already planned to make it a really quiet year in terms of being out and about.

Elle: So the most important question is can we expect to hear new music from you soon?
Monsieur Adi:It’s funny… I said I was not going to make music to release ever again, but a year ago I was at a concert of the Soweto Gospel Choir in Amsterdam and while they sang “Amazing Grace”, emotions just flooded me and I said I have at least one album left in me. Ever since then I have been working on it. It’s different, but full of heart and soul.

 

Elle: Sounds intriguing. Any planned collaborations coming up?

Monsieur Adi: Yes, I am working on some projects for others which is super exciting!

Elle: Which artist and song do you play on repeat right now?
Monsieur Adi: I have “My Love” by Inez on repeat ! It’s so beautiful.

Elle: Is there anything about the music industry that you would like to change?
Monsieur Adi: I’d change how social media numbers are the measure used to determine an artist’s talent. I think it is very short-sighted. But I could also just be very old-fashioned, haha.

Elle: Lastly, what is the positive you will take from 2020 so far?
Monsieur Adi: It was the year that everything changed and I found myself after having lost that many years ago.

Thanks to Monsieur Adi for this interview.

Vindata | Leaders not Followers

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(This interview done originally with publicdescription.com in 2014 )

I’ve been a fan of Vindata for a long while now. I was first introduced to them by my Phoenix FM presenter; Vixter, who has been fiercely supporting Vindata for a long while. Regularly playing their tracks and telling anyone who will listen that they will be the next big thing, so how smug are we now that BBC Radio 1 have only just caught up and started playing one of their tracks off their next EP which was aired on Skream & Benga.

You will be blown away by this LA based duo too. Take my word.

 

Elle: For our readers could you tell me who forms Vindata and how you guys formed?

Vindata: Vindata is made up of Branden Ratcliff and Jared Poythress. We met through mutual friends around 2007. We started this project in 2010 after realizing how much our musical background and upbringing we had in common.

 

Elle: How would you describe your music style?

Vindata: We have a very broad range. It’s mostly based off what we’re feeling at any given time. Some call it Future Bass, Future R&B, Chill trap or whatever name they just created. We actually like not being bound by a specific genre. It gives us plenty of room to grow as artist.

 

Elle: What is your musical influence?

Vindata: Well, we grew up in Church so Gospel definitely had a huge impact on both of us. But we also have roots in Hip Hop and R&B.

 

Elle: Who would be your dream collaboration to work with?

Vindata: The Neptunes, Kanye West or Timbaland.

 

Elle: Which person do you feel you have learned the most from in life?

Branden: My Mother,

Jared: My Father.

 

Elle: Any plans to come to London soon?

Vindata: Hopefully, London has always been one of the places we wanted to visit first. We really respect and admire London’s appreciation for the arts.

 

Elle: What can we expect to see from Vindata?

Vindata: We finished our second EP titled “…For One To Follow”. Have been really excited for this, as it further elaborates our path we’ve chosen and what we’re currently feeling.

https://soundcloud.com/vindata

vindata.bandcamp.com/

Nitin Sawhney | Illusion and Reality

Nitin-Sawhney-2013-36-x-24-IN-91.5-x-61-CM-oil-on-canvas-Private-Collection-web-Cleaned      Album artwork, Paul Benney

Dystopian Dream is the edge between illusion and reality, which I guess is what life and death feels like to me.

In Nitin Sawhney’s own words, he is a composer, producer, and molecular accident. In my words, Nitin is a humble, intuitive, and meticulous genius.

Nitin’s love and possibly, obsession with music, began at the tender age of 5 years old when he trained initially as a classical pianist. He would then go onto learn jazz piano, guitar, flamenco guitar, and Indian classical percussion. The relationship Nitin had with music would also be a form of escapism and a way of soul-searching for Nitin.

Using music as a translation for Nitin thoughts and emotions has meant that each studio album created has been a cathartic release. Dystopian dream is no different. In this interview with Nitin, I get to find out in his own words, what his latest album represents to him and what keeps the multi-talented workaholic awake at night.

 

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What does Dystopian Dream represent to you?

“This album started with my dads passing a couple of years ago, which I found really difficult to deal with. I was trying to find a way of expressing everything I was feeling at the time.”

“I have always been into looking at different ways of looking at the universe, and at looking at life and death.”

“Some of the ways at looking at the universe, is to do with an interest in Eastern spirituality and Hindu philosophy and some is to do with how I look at physics and what happens to particles. All kinds of things to do with quantum physics interest me, and I kind of think that when someone passes away that maybe they slip into another universe.”

“There is this concept in quantum theory around the multiverse. That the universe is multi layered and that our universe is not the only one, but that there are many universes that exist parallel to each other. That is also in Hinduism, God is depicted with many arms and each of those arms represents perhaps a different reality. So I was just playing with those ideas in my head.”

“I was there when my dad passed away and I felt I didn’t know where he had gone. That was the issue I had. I thought ‘He can’t have just gone?’ It was a kind of internal and external struggle. So what Dystopian Dream is, is the feeling of being on the edge between illusion and reality, which I guess is what life and death feels like to me.”

“Over the last few years I have been lingering on the edge in my head of this reality, and wherever my dad went, which I couldn’t really let go of very easily.”

 

With your dads passing, has this made you feel more religious?

“No. I feel that religion quite often, is when a religion becomes corrupted or distorted by people’s egos, that try to control other people for their own reasons.”

“I never really related to religion, and never related to this idea of belonging to a collective way of thinking about spirituality.”

“Spirituality is a very personal thing to me and it’s very individual. I do think there are a lot of good things that come from religion, but which should also come naturally. Trying to be selfless, conducting your life with integrity and not being an arsehole to people. That should be a natural function of how you lead your life. It shouldn’t be that you need some kind of other eternal motivation, and it shouldn’t be that it comes from people’s needs to control you or tell you how to think and feel.”

 

Do you feel you got some of the answers you were looking for?

“It’s a difficult thing. I once said Dystopian Dream feels like the light down an infinite tunnel, and that’s what it feels like to me. You don’t ever really get the answers until you die, but then, maybe even then you don’t. An album for me is a cathartic experience and an artistic expression. So it’s about exorcising demons or feelings, that you at times feel are difficult to cope with or are therapeutic, but at the same time having an awareness that you want to organise your chaotic feelings into something that feels musical. I use the grammar of music to try and create something that I feel is moving or powerful or emotional.”

 

Collaborations on the album

“It’s definitely great having a name like Joss Stone, but also good having some of the young up and coming artists on this album, like J’Danna. You can hear with J’Danna that she has got a really amazing voice and is phenomenally talented. She has a touch of Macy Gray about her. You can hear that huskiness which I really like.”

“Eva Stone is a really talented young artist. She has a very similar tone to Eva Cassidy and also Joss Stone. It’s an amazing voice.”

“I seem to meet these artists at a very early stage of their career. All these artists that I come across, go on to do really well. I was working with Ellie Golding at the beginning of her career and I met with Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran. I was supposed to produce an album with Ed at one point. Also, Taio Cruz was in my band for 2 years.”

“I am drawn to great voices and it’s exciting working with such young talent.”

 

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What accomplishment are you most proud of?

“I was really proud of composing the Human Planet score I did for the BBC. There are many reasons why. I love what the series represented. It was about human resilience, and what it represented across the world and also about showing the diversity of humans. It was a beautiful series.”

“I had to do 400 separates pieces of music and orchestrate them all for the ‘National Orchestra of Wales’ to play. I was doing 50 minutes of music a week for 8 consecutive weeks running. It nearly killed me. I ended up with pneumonia at the end of it. It was a phenomenal ask and it felt like a mountain but I felt like I managed to climb it. It was the hardest thing I have actually ever done just because it was relentlessly creating music, but it was creating music with an amazing amount of inspiration from all these beautiful images and experiences of human endeavour. I felt really proud of that score.”

 

Is there anyone you would really like to work with?

“I think Thom Yorke would be number one on my list if I wanted to work with anyone. I just think he is an incredible artist and he has always stayed true to that. He hasn’t compromised at all. He has been really successful but on his own terms. Also I love the guys from massive attack.”

“But then, I also loved working with Mala from Digital Mystikz. We did a track together. So I wouldn’t mind working with him again.”

“I really enjoy working with Anoushka Shankar. Anoushka is a close friend. I’m godfather to her son Zubin and I was present at Pandit Ravi Shankar bedside when he passed away. I was producing her album at the time ‘Traces Of You’ in San Diego.”

“We wrote a track together called Fathers from the album, because my dad passed away a few months afterwards, the both of us were trying to deal with all of the grief we were feeling. So there was a kind of synergy that came out of what we were feeling at the time.”

“She’s an amazing person. She really does her father proud because she’s a brilliant sitar player and she has incredible technique and knowledge of classical music. I also knew her husband, Joe Wright, before they married. I had worked with him. Joe is director of Atonement and some of the biggest films in the world, Pan being more recently. So it’s nice knowing them as a couple now.”

“I have been lucky that I have worked with a lot of the people I really wanted to work with.”

 

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You are constantly busy. What is an average day?

“I don’t have one. I only get about 4-5 hours sleep. I get excited about the day. I have always been like that. That whole concept of seize the day, is quite a big thing for me. Not being a nut about it, but I think it is important to actually enjoy the moments you have, and I always recognise that I am really privileged with what I do. I have an incredibly blessed life and I recognise that.”

 

What worries you?

“What worries me is the amount of bullshit that is out there being bombarded to people everyday. There is an incredible amount of lying that is going on; and distorting of facts. Unfortunately people accept it. Also, what worries me is Islamophobia, and seeing junior doctors having to go on strike, yet more money is being spent on bombs. If they could spend just a fraction of what they spend on bombs, it would actually save the NHS.”

“I feel surprised that we are in a so-called democracy yet everything is so carefully orchestrated in terms of information received and how much power or little power people have.”

“Everyone should be able to speak out but dissent has become stigmatised. I was one of the people that marched against the war in Iraq. There was 1 million people maybe more, and Blair just went ahead and did exactly what he intended to do without even caring. Then the next time there was a protest there was only a hundred thousand, because people felt disillusioned.”

“You have to recognise reality to change it and I think how you go about changing it, starts with education and awareness.”

“It sounds like I’m going off on a rant in regards to the state of the world but I find it disgusting. It is George Orwell’s vision in a way. His dystopian perspective and that is partially why I called this album, Dystopian Dream, as I feel that we are living it to some degree.”

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Special thanks to Nitin Sawhney  for his interview with Public Description.

 

Purchase Dystopian Dream here: Amazon and iTunes.

http://www.nitinsawhney.com/

http://www.wangramirez.com/en/news/

Human Planet – Nitin Sawhney

www.paulbenney.com/paintings/

Twitter: @thenitinsawhney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NitinSawhney

Photo credits: nitinsawney.com

 

Dame Eileen Atkins | Nothing Like a Dame

 

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Watching a great actor playing another great actor is not an everyday occurrence. Legendary stage, film and television actress, Dame Eileen Atkins, 81, leaves you feeling hypnotised by her commanding performance at the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse with her reprisal of Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins. To play this role must be very demanding  but to play it again, after a sell-out performance to rave reviews in 2014 must surely be even more intimidating.

 

What is it like reprising this role?

“It’s horribly daunting” Eileen replied. “I was asked to do it a year ago while I was in a “Samuel Beckett” play, All That Fall, with Michael Gambon, I had this whole other big play in my head when they asked me so I was very unsure. However my agents thought it was a really marvelous idea and I went along with it. What I didn’t realise is the difference a few years can make.  It’s the same when you are young as when you are old. There is a big difference between being 7 and being 9 years old.  There is the same big difference between 79 and 81.

“It just seemed a lot more daunting to me this time. I thought ‘I’ll be alright. I’ll slowly learn it’ but I had simply forgotten things like needing to walk around the stage all the time. I had forgotten about being on my feet for so long and it didn’t come back nearly as easily as I thought it would.

“To me, the things that come back easily are the things you learnt when you were under 30 years old. Anything you learned as a child is usually still in your head. Poems and plays for example, but the things you learned when you were older don’t come back to one as well. Or for me they don’t anyway; although some people have better brains than mine for remembering.

“There is no point in doing something unless it appears effortless and there is no strain. So I did put myself through tough rehearsals.”

 

Preparation

“I find Shakespeare comes back very easily. I am reading Ellen Terry & Bernard Shaw A Correspondence, these are letters to each other. It gives me very much a feeling of her. It is her voice.

“I was relieved to hear from Ian McKellen the other night that it took him 9 months to rehearse for the part in the film of The Dresser. It was a huge part. The great thing is though, in cinema, if it goes wrong, you can go back again and re-film.

“You know you can do it again and you know you won’t make a fool of yourself in front of hundreds of people. It’s not the same with theatre.”

 

Do you ever suffer from stage fright?

“All the time. For anyone who doesn’t get some stage fright, I honestly feel there is something a bit wrong with them. I have to work it so that my preparation is exactly timed. I do not like having a lot of time waiting around backstage. I get there, I get into a dressing gown, I have make-up put on, maybe a wig fitted, I get back to my room and put my clothes on. I hope they will say we are ready to go on just as I put on my clothes. But then, if there is a long hold up, I take deep breaths, keep tapping my feet, and start to pace up and down.

 

“When Judi Dench and I meet, and if we ever talk about a job she always says to me, ‘How much out of 10 for terror? How frightened were you?’ I will say. ‘My God Judi, you did the Albert Hall  and sang there and she will say ‘Yes. How much was that for terror? 9 out of 10!’”

“There is something wrong with anybody who says they can   go out there quite casually, after having a few chats with friends.

“One night I went on to the stage and looked into the audience and stared straight in the eyes of my ex-husband, Julian Glover. “We get on very well thankfully” she laughs.

“Then I turned around immediately to the left and looked straight into the face of Edward Fox.  So I thought I would turn and face the other side of the stage but there looking at me was Zoë Wanamaker and Patricia Hodge. So I had to give myself a very fast talking to saying, “They are there, you are just going to have to face them and get on with it”.

“That said, nerves work in your favour. You need the adrenalin. I have to stay absolutely concentrated in my head. I have to stay being Ellen and talking what she is talking  and it can be very difficult at the theatre because I can see an awful lot of what is going on around me.

“The adrenalin is extremely addictive. When you finish a run of any play, you think you want to stop  and you are tired but then of course you are missing the adrenalin. In the evenings you start to feel yourself getting depressed and missing the buzz you get from performing. It’s our adrenalin rush.”

 

 

Early beginnings 

“I went to drama school at 16 years old. My parents would say to me ‘when are you going to be out making some money?!’ they were shocked I stayed at school till 16.

“I was brought up as a dancer and danced in working men’s clubs from the age of 7 years old. By the age of 12 I really hated doing the working men’s clubs. I didn’t even want to learn to dance. Unfortunately  my mother was extremely superstitious. When I was a baby, a gypsy came to the door and told my mother I was going to be a great dancer and so for that reason  my mother kept sending me to dancing lessons.

“I was a very social child. I liked school  and I liked the other kids at dancing class and I liked the social life that went with it. But I hated going out at night and dancing in these men’s clubs. I really didn’t like that. On the other hand it earned money for the family.”

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

“When I got to drama school  I lost my confidence. I was the only working class person there. I got very good parts, people appreciated my work  and I was encouraged but I was very aware of feeling different. I used to go to auditions thinking,  ‘I know you are not going to cast me but I know I am bloody good.’ I think this harmed me. I didn’t do well in acting until I was 27.

“I left drama school lacking in confidence  and I had developed a huge chip on my shoulder. So I would say more than anything try to keep confident and try and get rid of that chip.”

 

Advice to others

“The only way is to keep going. Stay disciplined. I am very disciplined, as was Ellen Terry. Ellen Terry learned Rosalind even though she never played it.

“So I would say, when you leave drama school, keep on learning. You must have that instinct that when you are not working you still go on learning. Also try to keep meeting up with your friends so you have that support network around you.

“I remember once collecting my dole, now I think it is called social security  with [Dame] Maggie Smith. We both realised we would have to get other jobs to earn our money until the acting work came in. The worst thing to do is to sit and feel sorry for yourself.

“Also, having charm and likability is important. If you have charm, it serves you well in any area in your life. I think being a beauty can go against you sometimes as it becomes a bit dull. It is far better to have a slightly more interesting look and have charm.

Lastly, you have to want it very much. You have to be prepared to work very hard. I hope I have shown that you can do it. If you’ve missed a good school like a public school, or you haven’t gone to university, or if you have come from a dicey background, you can still fulfil what you want to fulfil.”

 

Confidence in a young Tom Hardy

“I saw the actor Tom Hardy when he was still at school  in a school play. His father said to me “He wants to be an actor’, and I said ‘Well I think he is rather good.’

“The father asked ‘will you help me? So I advised them to apply for drama school. I gave them the name of a good teacher to go through his audition pieces with. The teacher was so impressed  she rang me up and said ‘This boy is really talented.’

“So we told Tom to go in to auditions with as much confidence as possible. He went  to his first interview at RADA . It was an absolute no. They had no interest in seeing him again. The teacher rang up RADA, and asked why and she said that she and Eileen Atkins felt this boy was extraordinarily talented. They said, ‘He was too cocky!’.

“So there you go.  He wasn’t really, it was what we had told him; to be confident. So it is getting the balance right.”

 

The Proudest moment

“What most surprised me and thrilled me beyond measure, was that I was given an honorary English literature degree at Oxford University.

“It was a two day event  with a procession through the streets of Oxford. I cried practically throughout the ceremony.  There was always a bit of me that wished the opportunity to go to university had come my way. That of course would have been out of the question as my parents wanted me earning as quickly as possible.

“So that did thrill me. One of the Oxford Dons said to me when I was there, ‘Now, you know, this is a much bigger deal than getting a DBE!'”

Elle: “Well, that’s not bad for the girl who came from Clapton, East London, now is it?”

“It’s not bad. It’s not bad. It’s not bad at all!” laughs a jubilant Eileen.

Special thanks to Dame Eileen Atkins for her interview with Public Description.

 

 

**********

Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins’ runs at Shakespeare’s Globe from:

11 January – 13 February

Adapted & performed by
Eileen Atkins

Tickets
£10 standing
£15 – £48 seats
£62 premium tickets

BOX OFFICE 020 7401 9919

Book online here

“Atkins is sublime. She is an artist at the peak of her powers. Nothing she does goes for nothing. It’s inspiring. ”
★ The Financial Times

 

 

 

 

 

Felicity Dean | Being Sustainable

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Interviewing Felicity Dean could have been a slightly intimidating experience, not least due to her extensive portfolio of work in film, stage and TV, or for the impressive list of fine actors she has worked alongside; but also because my first encounter with Felicity was albeit with her looking amazing but also very naked.

Felicity had been taking part on a photo shoot  whilst I was interviewing the founder of ‘Fishlove’ Greta Scacchi at the time as Felicity’s photo shoot taking place in the background. Trying to discuss Greta’s role in a new play was rather overshadowed by the chaos. The delightful Felicity was a pleasure to interview though and completely flattered, and not embarrassed with my accolade in the article.

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Regan | King Lear | The Globe

From working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, to performing on Broadway, and being nominated for ‘The Critics Guild Award’ for Best Actress alongside Charles Dance; Felicity has had an eclectic acting career. Felicity has done what many actors only aspire to and had success in popular television programs to acting with screen giants like, Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Joan Plowright, and Greta Scacchi.

Felicity is also one of the many stars that has given their time to be photographed for the ‘Fishlove’ campaigns that help raise awareness around sustainable fishing. 

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Masha | The Three Sisters | Charles Dance

Fishlove

“I was delighted and very flattered to be part of the new campaign. Greta asked if I’d like to take part and as I have known Greta for some time now, she’s a good friend, and also a colleague, it felt great to be involved. Greta started ‘FishLove’ with co-founder Nick Röhl in 2009 and I think they have done an amazing job of raising the profile of a charity, which isn’t really renowned, to an elevated prominence with their photographic campaigns.

It’s a brilliant idea started by Greta who did the first campaign, shot by Rankin, and it has just developed from there.

Through her contacts, and the people she knows. Everybody has just wanted to step on board.

The photographer for the campaign this time round is, Jillian Edelstein. Jill is a wonderful, and talented photographer. I was absolutely thrilled to be part of this. I surprised myself as I thought it was going to take some bravery to actually stand up and pose naked. When I arrived on the day of the shoot, I was rather alarmed, because I looked in the box where the fish was kept and there were just a couple of little herrings left. I thought what do I do with that? Then Nick Röhl came in with this big cod” she laughs.

“All the pictures from the campaigns are beautiful and look like art. Sustainable fishing and giving support is a wonderful charity to be part of.”

 

What can the general public do to support this campaign?

Elle: We’re often told we need more fish in our diet, but determining which fish to eat is sometimes a minefield.

Felicity: “I think what everyone can do is to look out for the sustainable label markings on their fish packaging. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is one of the names to look out for. If they are endorsed with those initials, you absolutely know they’re a company you can trust.

The picture promotes ethical fishing and can be found on fish products sold at Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and also  Marks & Spencer’s. There are various supermarkets that really do care. I think if everybody looks out for that we can make a solution.

Also broaden your fish base. Buy fish that you wouldn’t normally buy.

We concentrate on cod and salmon, so they then get over fished.

Try to avoid over buying deep fish, which are slow growing and not that productive. They take a long time to mature, and then the stocks get depleted which results in them being hard to be replaced.

My awareness has actually increased just by knowing Greta and talking to her and seeing the campaign. I have actually now made a point of buying fish that is ethically caught.

Due to ‘Fishlove’ the media coverage has been worldwide because of it. It’s fantastic what they’ve achieved.”

 

Social media and acting

“I think as an actor, and my generation, you have to keep up with what’s going on otherwise you just get left behind. If you don’t have a twitter account or all that stuff , it makes you inaccessible to fans.”

Elle: True. I feel twitter allows fans to support their favorite actors and feel they are connecting with you, but without compromising your privacy. 

Felicity: “Yes, absolutely. I have one fan who has followed me since I was really young and from when I first started. He found me again on twitter, and so we have a kind of twitter relationship. Very, very sweet. I’m delighted.

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“It’s funny, you always feel like you’re a beginner somehow.

From the beginning

“When I start a new job I still feel I sort of know nothing yet I then look back and realise I have achieved quite a lot.

I didn’t come from a theatrical family. When I was growing up, acting was a profession nobody in my realm did. My dad passed away when I was 12 and we moved to Sunnydale. I had a wonderful drama teacher at the school there.

Losing my dad that young was hard as we were very close. He was an artist, a wonderful painter, which he did as a hobby as he had grown up through the war and so never considered it as a ‘real’ job. But he was a real influence. I too, always had that artistic leaning.

After my dad died I found a refuge in drama through a wonderful drama teacher named Sue Marshall. Sue brought me out of myself and gave me a belief in myself.

I felt like I rediscovered a family. Although I had a really loving the tribe of actors and acting had become like a surrogate family and was very supportive.

I got headhunted while at school by a Pine studio scout, they would come and look at our school productions.

I felt very un-pretty, and very shy. Immensely shy. I was the kid at the back but acting was an escape.

I found that I could find attributes in myself by being somebody else.

This gave me a real confidence. I also found that I could hold an audience. My drama teacher encouraged me to work harder to develop these skills.

Through this, I had a newfound confidence and went to the school secretary to ask for an agent. The school secretary, who was wonderful, named Bunty Walsh suggested someone she knew.

I signed up with the agent for one year. She wanted to sign for 5, but for some reason I said no. I’ll just sign for a year, god knows where that came from.

Within that time she got me a job working on a major feature film The Prince and the Pauper’. Playing a character called Lady Jane who was a sort of cheery lead girl opposite Mark Lester who had starred as little ‘Oliver’ in the 1968 musical film version.

There I was, aged 18 going off to Hungary for 3 months to do my first job with Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch and Rex Harrison. These were just extraordinary people.

It was a wonderful experience. I have lots and lots of memories of those times Oliver Reed dropping his trousers on the dance floor.” she laughs mischievously. Then there would be fights breaking out in nightclubs. Really extraordinary off screen stuff happening.

The thing about Oliver Reed, was that he was brilliantly talented. He was a drunk, I mean he really was, and he had to be managed, but he was funny. I mean it was a nightmare for the producers I think, but he had a minder to keep him sober. There were some days he was turning up and he looked drunk yet he had no access to alcohol. He kept ordering oranges. He had piles of oranges, and he was peeling these oranges. What we didn’t realise until after, was that he was injecting the oranges with vodka.

When he was eating the oranges, he was absolutely getting sozzled.

 

From that experience I then got myself another agent, and I interviewed them. When I look back I think, ‘How the hell did I have the gall to do that?’ but I was very savvy. I got worse. I didn’t get any better.

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Goneril | King Lear

Rehearsals | King Lear with Jonathan Miller, Michael York, Joss Ackland, John Nettles and Greta Scaachi

 

“I started out working in film and TV but I actually always wanted to work in theater. So I took a year out. My friend had a restaurant and I went and became a waitress for them for the next year. I then came back and auditioned for the Royal Shakespear company company, and something like 12 times.

You had to keep going back and keep seeing director after director. It was a golden age of the ‘RSC’ then, and all the young actors wanted to be there. I thankfully got in and worked for them. Then went back subsequently and did another few years with them at a later stage.

I did a lot of very interesting television. Television took over and it was becoming more the main stream medium at that point and brilliant TV. The days when the BBC was really an industry unto itself. They had their own designers, they had their own costume people, make-up, who went onto be Oscar winners.

I think it was the golden age of the BBC when we were all there. We used to go to what we called the North Acton Hilton, where they rehearsed, because you rehearsed almost 3 weeks for a television play. Then you’d go for lunch, and everybody was there. There would be John Cleese, doing Faulty Towers, Sir Ian McKellen would be doing Shakespeare.

Everyone in the business would meet on the top floor of what we called the Acton Hilton. Everyday if you were working there you would go, and you would meet old friends. It was like a club in a way.

Everyone worked very hard but it was less pressurised than it is now. I think people were less aware of a career strategy. It felt much more bohemian.

At Pinewood Studios, they used to have a working bar at lunch time. People would come in, and sit working with their drinks. Nobody does that anymore. It’s too uptight. I mean obviously it’s probably for the best because I don’t know how much work people got done but the quality from the work was amazing. The risk takes were extraordinary, the actors were absolute legends, who I worked with.

One of the great experiences that I have was at the National Theatre doing Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman. It was the last play that Paul Scofield did and also starred Eileen Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave. It was a absolutely brilliant experience working with those giants, really.

Paul schofielf

Paul Scofield’s final performance at the NT

Preparation for a role

“The first thing is to look at the text, look at the story, the characters within the story to gain clues. Clues as to the person, what is their psychological profile. Then keep going back to the text, re-reading scenes to discover more and more. It doesn’t matter if that’s film, TV or stage.

With stage parts, I would make sure if there’s physical characteristics, I’ll find the character with physicality which aligns with their psychological profile. If you start to align physicality and how you’re going to approach your character physically, psychological profile, then you start to have something that you feel you can work with. I always look for that.

A lot of it comes down to mechanicals, who you’re working with and what you’re hearing back. Really working out the art of the story, an illustration of the people. It’s particularly relevant in Shakespeare.

With theater especially, there is a huge amount of learning.

I will usually go through a script or the book and brake it down.Then I brake it down again. I keep working through in pieces. I will then go for a walk, somewhere I know will be peaceful and quiet, like a forest perhaps, and then read the lines out loud.

Talk to the trees, say it out loud. Just somewhere you feel you can be free. I always do that. I’ve always done that. I go for a walk, somewhere you can feel not so locked up. Then I try and find a voice for the character because that’s important. You find that through the text, within Shakespeare.

Shakespeare you actually find the character through the language because the punctuation is the thing that gives you speech pattens. You know from certain clues in Shakespeare where there’s a pause and actually if you look at it in the context of the play, you think ‘oh I understand why there’s a pause there’ because she’s actually drawing the sword from her hilt. There’s a natural pause.

With Shakespeare it’s slightly different because that gives you, the punctuation gives you the rhythm and also gives you the indication of the narrative and the emotional state of the character. It’s very, very close punctuation. You know that the character is taking breaths, so they’re agitated state. You can apply that to any text. You look at the rhythm of the text. You find the character through the language rather than the other way around. I see a lot of actors which I don’t like, try and fit the text to the character they’ve decided on. They don’t try and find the character. The writing is the key. We are interpreters. You get a great writer and it just translates. Its giving the writer their voice. I have a great respect for writers and also how they phrase is very particular. They write very particularly.

Also I would say that when you go on set, you look at it like a room. How familiar are you with that room. I got this from Vanessa Redgrave when I first worked with Vanessa on a film we did named Steaming. She went around the whole set, she touched everything. She picked up the cups, she drank, she sat down, she felt, she had a sense of spacial  dynamic. I do that whenever I go on set. If it’s supposed to be my sitting room, I make myself familiar in that room, so I can cross the room blindfolded.

It’s about taking in everything.”

felicity 2

What advice would you give to anyone new coming into acting?

“Well, I’d say not mine, but a great phrase from Constantin Stanislavski, the great acting teacher and stage actor and director; ‘Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art’. To me that says it all.

You’re not there to self-grandiose you’re there to work and interpret and be an artist.

Just do everything you can. Also I really, really believe in testing yourself with a live audience. Keep practising. If you want to just do movies, they are great to do but don’t get a feel, you get a barometer. Who you are, what you’re putting out. Is it connecting an audience, is it real? You don’t know that when you are doing film. Does it connect with an audience? You don’t know that until you have a live audience.

Is it believable yeah? Do you have an audience? Can you work with the energy of the audience know how to develop your craft. Just keep developing your craft I think. I would say that to all kids coming in.”

 

Special thanks to Felicity Dean for her interview with Public Description.

Links:

https://fishlove.co.uk

IMDb

https://twitter.com/felicityjdean

http://www.jillianedelstein.co.uk/

 

Nickolas Grace: Tell Me Candidely | Part Four

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Nickolas Grace  for the campaign, Fishlove 

The final instalment of the exclusive Nickolas Grace interview. The interview which was conducted on two separate occasions over coffee in Notting Hill revealed to me a warm, funny, and sincere individual. One that also has an undeniable talent. I would like to thank Nickolas for his time and hope you all enjoy reading the final part of the series.

Any Advice?
“Don’t do it. Haha! We are in a very strange time. Things have changed a lot. Young people in reality shows think ‘Ah I’m famous now, it is easy to get into’. But it’s not easy to sustain.”

“What saddens me is they think they don’t need to go to drama school or they don’t need to study. I always say go to drama school if they are serious about it. There are many many more people now that come in for lots of different reasons. Our union, Equity, is now weak because you don’t have to be part of the union. Anyone can act. Anyone can employ anyone. When I have the chance to employ people as a director I always say I’m only going to employ people who are members of Equity.

“So I’d say don’t do it unless you want to study hard and want to go to drama school.”

Proudest Moments

paul McCartney
“I am very fortunate I have been given two honorary degrees. I’m a Fellow of the Royal Central School, and a Companion of LIPA. I received one from Terence Stamp and one from Sir Paul McCartney.”

“Central had asked me who I would like to present me with my honorary degree. As Alan Bates and Terence Stamp were my two mentors. I asked Alan Bates to present my degree. Sadly, Alan Bates was just beginning to be ill, and said ‘I don’t think I can do it but I’ll be there’. He came in a wheelchair bless him and sat at the back of the hall. So Terence was kind enough to present me with my degree , and it was quite funny: my best mate giving me my honorary degree. That made me cry too. At least my mum was there, and it made her quite proud.”

Amazing Moments
“I have indeed. Who’d have thought I’d work with Madonna in Evita. Alan Parker who is one if my favourite directors wanted me to be in the film. “

Madonna… Sugar or Spice?
“A nightmare. Haha! She’s a great star. The first time we met was amusing. She was tired and it was the last day of shooting. Madonna had done a twelve week shoot for Evita all over Europe and Argentina too. So I go there at 6:30am, to go to make up and costume. I’m sitting in the dressing room to start and there’s a knock on the door and it’s Jonathan Pryce who I’ve known for a long time. He says ‘Listen Nick we’ve done twelve weeks so don’t fuck it up alright’. So I say ‘oh thank you’ haha. No pressure.”

“So I think I’ll be on in a minute. It’s now 9:30am, I have a cup of coffee and she’s not ready so I go back to the room and then there’s another knock at the door and it’s Antonio Banderas who I’d met once before in Spain, when I played Lorca. He says ‘Nickolas remember do not fuck up this movie’ I thought this is obviously a wind up. Haha. So it gets to lunch time and Alan Parker says ‘I’m really sorry there has been a bit of a problem, you go and have some lunch’. So by now I’m quite tense. So I go to get some lunch come back and then Alan says ‘come down I’ll show you the set’, so we go and look at the big set at Pinewood studios. Then suddenly there is a temperature change in the studio. I can feel it. I see Alan strain a little, and you see these two bodyguards come in. I think to myself she’s coming. She walks in and Alan Parker says ‘Oh M, this is my mate Nick, Nickolas Grace, this is Madonna’ she snaps back ‘Don’t touch my fucking hair!’

“I’m like ‘No of course I’m not going to touch your fucking hair’. So that was my first line from Madonna. I think back now, and at the time I was thinking inside I really mustn’t do anything wrong. You can imagine how the day proceeded, but by the end she changed her attitude. She said ‘I really like you’, and made the sign of the cross on my face. ‘I said is that the Madonna blessing?’ and she smiled mischievously.

“You’ll get the full version in my auto-biography. It probably won’t come out until I’m in my 80’s because I want to tell the truth.”

Thank You, Nickolas!

Read the entire interview here: Part one | Part Two | Part Three

To find out more and read why Nickolas is naked holding a fish please see below link:

http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/celebrities-strip-down-and-snuggle-seafood-support-sustainable-harvests-154293

Greta Scacchi discusses her dream role in The Glass Menagerie

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Image courtesy of Headlong.co.uk

“We realise the saddest moments are sometimes also the hysterical moments “

Meeting one of your film icons is not an everyday occurrence. So when I was granted an opportunity this week to have an interview with Emmy-winning actress Greta Scacchi, I immediately jumped at the chance.

Greta is currently on tour with her latest role; in Ellen McDougall’s production of Tennessee Williams’ play ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Now in its final week, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ held one final performance in London this evening, 7th November at Richmond Theatre and is now moving onto Warwick Arts Centre, Tuesday 10th November until 14th November 2015.

The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, and its action is drawn from the memories of Tom Wingfield. Tom is a character in the play, The play is based on the playwright Tennessee Williams and his family life. Greta plays the role of Amanda, the frustrated and overbearing mother of Tom. Produced by Headlong Theatre Company, the play has been given a modern approach; with all the preconceptions and traditions of the original Tennessee Williams play removed. 

Plot Summary

By night, Tom lives the life of an assassin, an outlaw, a czar of the underworld, via his trips to the movies. By day, he works in a factory. In the apartment he shares with mother Amanda (Greta Stacchi) and sister Laura, the air hangs thick with the scent of sickly sweet flowers and his mother’s oppressive nostalgia. Laura barely survives it, a shadow of herself, clinging desperately to her only solace, a beloved glass menagerie.

When Amanda insists Tom bring home a gentleman caller for Laura, the fragile dreams of all three are shattered with consequences they may never escape.

A scene from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams @ The Courtyard Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Ellen McDougall. (Opening 11-09-15) ©Tristram Kenton 09/15 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams | Greta Scacchi seen her with Erin Doherty

On the day of the interview with Greta, I arrive at reception at the same time as a delivery of fresh fish. A young man is carefully handling the crate. I wait behind him breathing in the faint fish scented air while he talks to the receptionist. I think no more of it and rush on to Studio 3 to meet Greta.

I open the door, to a room of high energy. Greta Scacchi sees me, and rushes over to greet me with sparkling eyes and the warmest of smiles. Greta has a way of making you feel at ease immediately. Greta is distracted though. She is in the middle of a busy photo shoot. It feels hot, noisy, and chaotic. Friendly faces, rushing around. Buzzing with creative energy. Hair and make up is in full swing. Photographer is poised. I see the fish again. A crate of dead fish sits proudly in the middle of the room. This shoot is not for Greta. I scan the room, and stare straight at a lady’s hair free vagina. The stark naked actress in her 50’s, stands looking fabulous and body confident, and rightly so. (Her body looked better than most 20 year olds). I try to carry on oblivious as if this is a perfectly normal situation, while the actress poses up a storm with a still gawping strategically placed fish.

Once Greta is happy that the shoot can continue without her, we proceed with our interview. I can see Greta giving a mix of protective and approving glances back to the shoot ensuring her naked guest is fine and looked after. I soon learn that I have unknowingly come along to Greta’s other passion, her campaign Fishlove which she has co-founded since 2009. 

Greta has regularly been defined by her beauty and sex symbol image. I am keen to know how she feels in her new skin playing the role of Amanda, a faded southern belle. “It is a dream come true. It is a classic role for an actress of my age. It is a part that nearly all actresses hope to do. So I was thrilled to win the part.”

A scene from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams @ The Courtyard Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Ellen McDougall. (Opening 11-09-15) ©Tristram Kenton 09/15 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from The Glass Menagerie with Eric Kofi Abrafa

Greta has nothing but praise for her cast, Tom Mothersdale, Erin Doherty, and Eric Kofi Abrafa. 

“They are all young enough to be my own children, and I am stunned at their discipline’. “I think all three of them are promising actors and we will see a lot more of them.”

What was it like working with Ellen McDougall? “She is definitely a shinning star”. Ellen McDougall is part of an important new wave of young directors who favour a contemporary stripped-back approach.

A scene from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams @ The Courtyard Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Ellen McDougall. (Opening 11-09-15) ©Tristram Kenton 09/15 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from The Glass Menagerie with Tom Mothersdale

“Ellen is so clear about what she wants, it is wonderful and at the same time quite alarming to find someone so young with that much conviction. Ellen’s preparation process in rehearsal is something I hadn’t encountered before. It is very thorough. We spent the first week researching the period and all the characters. Including ones that are just lightly mentioned, like the landlord or the boss at Tom’s work. Every character was thoughly researched, so it become real to us in a sensory kind of way. Meaning, layer-by-layer was built in rehearsals over a 4 week period. Very intense. We had to let go of any preconceptions about the roles. Ellen is also very perceptive, she observes everything that actors bring to a character”. 

What would you like to say to readers interested in seeing the play ‘The Glass Menagerie’?

“Tennessee is really ahead of his time with dealing with the strife of bringing up a broken family, through those times when there is so much conflict. It is a very harrowing play, and all four characters have a lot of disappoint, disappear and struggles in their life. It couldn’t be more harrowing.  Yet it manages to come across also very funny, quite naturally.  Through the paring away it becomes timeless. The humour in the lines comes to the surface and we realise the saddest moments are sometimes the hysterical moments.”

After seeing Greta’s commanding performance this week myself, I strongly recommend going to see this play. Tickets can be purchased from Headlong and at the Warwick Theatre

Special thanks to Greta Scacchi for her interview with Public Description.

Look out for special feature on the Fishlove campaign here on Public Description in the next few weeks.