Tag Archives: art

Does a perfect success formula exist for Music Industry?

What do Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik and Adele have in common? They are what every musician dreams to be like one day. Fame, success, power, money and music, they are the complete golden package.

Every year the Music industry sees many new artists flock from all over the world in hope to score their one sweet chance to be the next musical sensation. Some of them grow up listening music and dream of becoming like their idols, some wish to live the life of fame and have their moment in limelight, some feel it is their calling because music is the way they want to express their life’s story. They spend most of their life training for music, learning their instruments, performing, some even pursue music in their college degrees in hopes of improving their success chances. Seven in every 10 children (69%) in the UK say that they currently play a musical instrument with adults at 74%.

And these people come in all shapes and sizes with vast diversity in their ideologies. Yet the one thing they profess that unites them is their passion, inclination and inherent talent for music.

But then why is it that when we observe the working lives of these people, only a very few manage to break big in the industry? What is the difference between the artists who become famous and those who don’t? Are they more talented? Or did they have any special connections that most don’t? Or were they just plain-and-simple lucky?

The answer is as simple as it is frustrating, for all of the above reasons are true, but one. For people who do manage to climb their way to the top of the pyramid, being talented is a given thing. Because really without talent why would they even consider pursuing this career. This super competitive industry with more supply than demand for new musicians. It’s not like the musicians have the ‘fake it till they make it’ kind of liberties. Nowadays big record labels mostly want those artists who already have established themselves up to a certain level, who have their fan base, have already performed many gigs, and even better if they can write their own songs too. They practically want people who already have their plans figured out down to the last detail and are halfway done in executing it.

Now imagine the kind of distress a newbie but a wannabe feels when he first decides to go down this path. All the planning, making the right connections, discovering their ‘unique’ style and finding a way to sell it as ‘new and original’ to their audience, putting themselves out in the open and creating a fan base, finding the right people to help in the PR and production of their music and connecting with other artists to get a chance to perform in big gigs. So much work to do in so little time, because if we are being real, the music industry is notoriously ageist when it comes to accepting new artists. And unless you are an already established celebrity or a super-rich individual trying your hand at music, there is not much room for entry in the music industry at a ‘late’ age.

But still every year the music industry sees more and more artists coming into it. It is a huge business, with it contributing £4.4 billion to the UK’s economy as recorded in the UK Music “Measuring Music 2017” report with about 142,208 jobs sustained by the music industry. And now with the growth in the online streaming platforms, the industry is experiencing a resurgence in its profits.

And one such newbie artist, looking to make it big in this industry, is Leonard Nedelcu. There are many things that he shares with other talented musicians, like his love for romantic songs, playing the piano, penning his own songs, and being born with the looks of a superstar. But the things that make him stand out in the crowd are his deep appreciation of music by John Legend, Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith, his approach to music as his way to include the LGBTQ+ communities and share his story in a way that is relatable to all.

In this interview of his confessional musings, he shares his story, aims, and the beginning of his musical journey. He talks about how a person, a child of two economist parents gets into music, his struggles. And how despite them all he managed to create and release his first single, “Start with you”, while working on an extended playlist which he hopes to release by end of this years’ summer. All the while being a student at the University of Westminster, pursuing a Commercial Music bachelors’ degree.

Here’s a snippet of ‘Start with you’

He seems to have tapped into the ‘success formula’ of pursuing formal musical education to work on his talents, learn to create his music, find and make industry contacts and finally get discovered. It’s almost like he is trying to pull an Adele (success story) here.

You see, even though every artists’ success story is different, the basic formula of approach to things remains the same. And the six main success formulas are:

  1. Using YouTube to break big
  2. Performing at the biggest, most popular music clubs to get discovered
  3. Participating in Musical Contest show, and with any luck, winning it
  4. Becoming a part of a band, and when/if it goes big, using that exposure and experience to fuel solo act
  5. Formally studying music and training to be the best through schools
  6. Self-releasing music until discovered by big record labels or celebs to endorse music deals

Some of the very well-known celebs got their starts using these very formulas.

View this post on Instagram

I

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Justin Bieber – the YouTube star before becoming the Global star

Like most things relating to him, even his start in music has a story. Even from a young age, Bieber had an affinity for music, and he narrates himself that when his mom gifted him his first set of drums he was “basically banging on everything I could get my hands on.” But it was an obscure talent contest in his hometown, in which the 12-year-old Bieber finished second that put him on the road to superstardom. Although, his YouTube journey did not begin with the purpose of becoming the next pop sensation. As a way to share his singing with family, Justin and his mom began posting clips of Bieber performing covers of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo on YouTube. And the next thing you know, Justin was an Internet sensation, with a large following of fans and an eager manager arranging for the teenager to fly to Atlanta to consider a record deal. There, Bieber had a chance meeting with Usher, who eventually signed the young singer to a contract.

Taylor Swift – from performing small gigs at the Country music capital to performing globally at her sold-out concerts

Inspired by her grandmother, a professional opera singer, Taylor Swift soon followed in her footsteps. By the age of 10, Taylor was singing at a variety of local events, including fairs and contests. She sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Philadelphia (where she lived at the time) 76ers basketball game at the age of 11, and began writing her own songs and learning guitar at 12 years old. And to further pursue her music career, Taylor often visited Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital. There she co-wrote songs and tried to land a recording contract. Noting her dedication, Taylor and her family moved to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, in an attempt to further Taylor’s career. Then a stellar performance at The Bluebird Café in Nashville helped Swift score a contract with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. She released her first single, “Tim McGraw,” in 2006, and the song went on to become one of the Top 10 hits on the country charts. It also appeared on her self-titled debut album in October in 2006, which went on to sell more than 5 million copies. With that, more popular singles soon followed, including “Our Song,” a No. 1 country music hit. “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Picture to Burn” and “Should’ve Said No” were also successful tracks. And once she firmly established her roots in the music industry, the sky became her limit.

View this post on Instagram

04.12.18

A post shared by Zayn Malik (@zayn) on

Zayn Malik – gone from contest show to being part of famous boy-band to finally becoming the solo music star

A triple threat of music in terms of utilizing the success formulas if you say so, he began as a teen taking performing arts courses and appearing in school productions. Then in year 2010, he auditioned for the seventh season of the reality TV music contest show The X Factor. He sang “Let Me Love You” by rhythm-and-blues vocalist Mario as his audition song and was accepted into the next round. Then he was eliminated before the final round of the competition, but judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell grouped him with fellow competitors Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson to form a new act for the remainder of the show. And thus, the global sensational boy-band One Direction was born. They finished the competition in third place and they were immediately signed to Cowell’s Syco music label. Then came the One Direction with their first single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” which topped the pop music charts with when it was released in September 2011 in the United Kingdom. And their debut album, Up All Night, proved a best-seller in both the United Kingdom and the United States in 2012. After that Malik toured extensively with One Direction, meeting the band’s young female fans around the world. But in March 2015, Malik surprised fans by dropping out of the group’s world tour. On March 25 then, Malik announced that he was leaving One Direction for good. And soon after leaving One Direction, Malik launched his solo music career with a demo version of “I Don’t Mind,” which was leaked online by producer Naughty Boy. Then official singles followed, including “Pillowtalk” and “It’s You.”  And both of these tracks were featured on his first album, Mind of Mine, which debuted in March 2016.

View this post on Instagram

Auckland / Mt Smart Stadium / Mar 25

A post shared by Adele (@adele) on

Adele – the modern-day champion of classical and old-school-style music

“There was no musical heritage in our family,” Adele told The Telegraph in a 2008 interview. “Chart music was all I ever knew. So, when I listened to the Ettas and the Ellas, it sounds so cheesy, but it was like an awakening. I was like, oh, right, some people have proper longevity and are legends. I was so inspired that as a 15-year-old I was listening to music that had been made in the ’40s.” And it soon became apparent that while clearly bright, Adele wasn’t oriented towards traditional classroom settings. So, her mother enrolled her in the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology, which has the likes of Amy Winehouse as its alum. Then while she was at school, Adele cut a three-track demo for a class project that was eventually posted on her MySpace page. And when executives at XL Recordings heard the tracks, they contacted the singer and, in November 2006, just four months after Adele had graduated school, signed her to a record deal.

View this post on Instagram

Thank god for factor 50 sunscreen – photo by Nic Minns

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

Ed Sheeran – from street-smart artist to king of the global music charts

Even from a very young age, Ed had been as quick and smart at learning things as he had been active at working on his dreams. He studied at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham. Then he also studied music with the help of ‘Access to Music’, a UK-based independent training provider. And he also joined the National Youth Theatre when he was a teenager. So, it was no surprise when he had started recording CDs and selling them from his teenage days. At the age of 14, he released songs ‘The Orange Room’ and also ‘Spinning Man’, both he regarded as important works of his early years. And it wasn’t long before Sheeran was recording CDs and selling them, and he soon put together his first official EP, The Orange Room. With that accomplishment and his abiding ambition driving him, at only 14 years of age, Sheeran headed to London for the summer. Thinking he could find gigs in the big city, Sheeran left home with his guitar and a backpack full of clothes, and his musical career took flight. And once in London, Sheeran got busy recording and playing the local singer/songwriter circuit and quickly released two albums: a self-titled record in 2006 and Want Some? in 2007. He also began opening for more established acts, such as Nizlopi, the Noisettes and Jay Sean and released another EP, You Need Me, in 2009, a year that found Sheeran playing more than 300 live shows. Then in 2010 Sheeran posted a video online that got the attention of Example, a rapper, and Sheeran was asked to go on the road with him as his opening act. This led to establishing an even larger online fan base and gaining inspiration for many more songs, which later ended up filling three new EPs, all in 2010. Next Sheeran headed to the U.S. that year and found a new fan in Jamie Foxx, who asked Sheeran to appear on his Sirius radio show. Soon after, in January 2011, Sheeran released yet another EP, his last as an independent artist. Without any promotion, the record reached No. 2 on the iTunes chart, and he signed on with Atlantic Records. With Atlantic, Sheeran released his major debut studio album, + (called Plus) which became an instant hit, and the album sold more than a million copies in the U.K. in the first six months alone. Then Sheeran began co-writing songs with bigger artists, such as One Direction and Taylor Swift and supported Swift on her 2013 arena tour. And quickly and steadily he became the huge global star that he is today.

 

Still out of all the artists who pursue music as their career, 95% of them fail to make a proper living out of it, let alone become huge successes (results from a survery of 200 musicians in UK). The artists we celebrate as our champions, as the main faces of the music industry are only a handful of people out of the millions that get into this industry with dreams of making it big.

And every person wanting to make a career in music looks for a success formula, but life doesn’t work that way, especially in music. For every successful artist following a set mould to enter music industry, there are thousands who failed at it. That is the harsh truth about this industry. And no amount of wishing, dreaming or googling for tips and tricks can change that. The only thing sure about a success formula is that it only works for a few people. At the end of the day, the only way one can make progress towards becoming a musical success is through genuine talent, unending hard work and determination, and with loads of luck and good timing.

Artist Ylenia Molinari talks – ‘my need to fix emotions on a canvas’

She’s an artist: illustrator, graphic designer, painter, fashion and shoe designer. But she doesn’t work in the industry. At 26, she’s currently a supervisor in Press coffee and has worked in hospitality for three years, since she moved to London after completing her studies in Italy.

 

WNOL: How would you define your art?

An extension of my soul. I put my feeling on my art, even though it might not mean anything to someone else, each of my drawings and paintings is an emotion that I’ve felt with the need to fix it on a canvas.

 

WNOL: Who is Ylenia Molinari?

(laughs) She’s an artist… I guess. I haven’t found my way yet. I do many things: I do paintings, tattoos… I mean I do tattoos on me, I’ve never tried doing it on people because I don’t trust myself. So if I do it on myself is fine. I like things that are artistic or creative, but I don’t know what to do. I mean I can do everything, but it’s like doing nothing.

 

WNOL: Do you think you art sends a message? Do you want it to send a message?

Not actually. It’s more like expressing myself and my feelings. It’s why I’ve never done exhibitions. People ask me ‘why didn’t you do an exhibition’, because I don’t want to show it, it’s something that’s for myself. Even when they ask me for commissions, I just draw what’s in my mind.

 

WNOL: You seem to have a very strong position over nudity on Instagram, what do you think about it?

I’m very open about this. I like modeling, I do nude modeling but I don’t like to share it because I know that many people message me about it and not in an artistic way. I’m very upset that they see me just for my naked body, like a sexual object. I’ve never posted before because my friend, she posted a drawing of a girl showing her nipple and they censored it. So if they remove a drawing, I cannot post a picture obviously. I don’t understand why it is allowed for men to show their nipples. If men’s aren’t sexual then women’s shouldn’t be either.

 

WNOL: Your profile picture on your Instagram account says ‘ask me about my crippling anxiety’, what’s that about?

It’s weird, but this friend, she’s a photographer and she asked me to pose for her. And I connected that photoshoot with my anxiety. Usually when I do modeling I don’t look happy. Or when I take a picture of myself I’m never really happy because I’ve got anxiety and I don’t feel like smiling in my pictures, even though I’m a pretty happy person. (laughs)

 

WNOL: Why did you shave your head?

I think the first time was after a mental breakdown, instead of cutting myself to do something bad to my body, I just shaved my head. I knew I wouldn’t like myself without hair but I’m now used to it and I actually like it. The second time was a month ago after another mental breakdown because I lost my best friend. He died on Christmas day. Now I’m getting over it. They first thought it was a suicide. I was super upset because he was supposed to be my best friend and he didn’t tell me anything. But after a month we found out it wasn’t a suicide, it was an accident where he fell down from a building.

 

WNOL: What about your tattoos?

I think I can’t count them now, definitely have more than 25. I haven’t done them all, but most of them. For example this one says ‘nothing is going to hurt you baby’, it’s from a song and I got it done on the palm of my hand. It is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo and that’s why I did it there. Most of them have meanings, probably all of them.

View this post on Instagram

Nothing’s gonna hurt you baby

A post shared by Len (@teenytinylen) on

 

WNOL: Do you think there should me more conversation going on around mental health?

Yeah. In my previous workplace, I told my manager I was having a panic attack and she just told me ‘yeah, yeah, go out for a smoke’. And it’s like no, I’m having a panic attack, I don’t need a smoke. People don’t understand anxiety either. They’re all ‘just chill out’ and it’s like no, it’s not about that. Yeah I relax, I go to bed at 9 pm but don’t go to sleep until 2 am. I spend hours trying to sleep. For many people it’s hard to talk about it. I found out a few months ago that I am bipolar and it’s hard to understand. My flatmate is bipolar too and she takes medicine but I don’t want to.

 

WNOL: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the future?

Something creative for sure. I’m not even looking for a creative job at the moment because I met this guy who’s an artist, he’s a painter. He was doing it as a job and he started to not enjoy it because he had to do commissions. After a while he left his job and started to work as a kitchen porter, I would never work as that but (laughs). He does that for four days a week and he’s got three days that he can actually paint and he told me he’s much happier. So maybe finding a creative job is not my way, maybe I can just do a normal job and in my free time do my art.

Cover image: Ylenia Molinari

Sheikhspeare Sid: targeting islamophobia and media bias one poem at a time

Sheikhspeare Sid, aka Sid Kenpachi Valapp, is a business student that has fallen in love with the power of spoken word. Focusing mostly on taboo context, this young 20-year-old is the furthest thing from a cliché.

With his faith by his side, and a talent to kill for, is this anything this modern-day Shakespeare (or shall I say Sheikhspeare) can’t do? I sat down with the poet to get an insight into how he started, and the toughest parts of writing poetry.

Q. Tell me something about yourself

Sid: I was born in India and moved to the UK when I was 5. It was a passion I had from creative writing in school, it’s never something I really thought of doing.

Q. What made you want to advocate change through poetry?

Sid: The kind of views that are portrayed with the media, but I think the tipping point would probably have to be the Trump presidency.

Q. I saw that in one of your videos, ‘Terrorist’ where you mentioned Trump in a verse

Sid: That made me do what I want to do, I didn’t think it would be something that was very impactful but a lot of people liked it so

Q. How was your first time performing on stage? 

Sid: That was the terrorist video, I was extremely frightened to be fair.

Q. You didn’t look as frightened in the video, putting on a brave face or..?

Sid: You know what,  I spent several hours practicing in front of my wall everyday. By the time I got on stage and I was barely two lines in and, that was it. All i could imagine was the wall in front of me. I never made eye-contact with anyone either, everyone thought I did but I was just looking over their heads. So it really worked.

Q. How did you get into spoken word so much?

Sid: I really like spoken word and I think it’s a modern way to advocate change, because it gets people interested. When people think of poetry, they think its boring and the old form of it, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s an umbrella term, poetry is like in rap for example. It’s a form of art.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.06.57 pm.png

Photo credits: Sid Kenpachi

Q. What do you wish to change? 

Sid: Thats a broad question (laughs). I would say probably to provoke thought. Thats what I want to do. If you see the stuff that I’m known for doing it’s not really directed towards muslims. Its directed for your average [xenophobic], and to make them think. So I take a very emotive stance and having a bit of logic does shake some people. You just got to hit the right audience.

Q. You mentioned hitting the right audience, aren’t you afraid you might strike a chord with someone or make them uncomfortable?

Sid: I don’t think I’m afraid of that, if someone feels uncomfortable then that’s good. If it can annoy somebody, that means I must be doing something right. The only people my poetry can annoy are hostile, ignorant people who don’t want to change. If my words are affecting them, that must mean they are true.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.06.24 pm

Photo credits: Sid Kenpachi

Q. Doesn’t that frighten you, that someone may do something to keep you quiet? 

I feel like I’m in a safe place to project my voice, and if something does happen to me, I guess it just furthers my cause, doesn’t it?

Q. Fair enough! Could you describe your poetry style in 3 words? 

Sid: I’m trying to do this without sounding too cocky (laughs). Logical, Emotive and Strategic.

Q. How do you usually prep for a performance? 

Sid: I usually practice in front one of my friends, he’s as unbiased as you can get because he’s not Muslim and we come from different communities, so if it impacts him, I know it’ll work out on stage.

Q. How important is your faith in terms of creative processes? 

Sid: Whenever I write something, I think it has to be as religiously appropriate. So purposefully  I don’t use any profanity, and I don’t try to be offensive. I just want to speak the truth, and if I use religion then it helps me and empowers me throughout the poem.

Q. When did you really get into poetry? 

Sid: It was quite recent actually, I wrote Terrorist in November. i used to write it before just by hand, and then when i saw the rise of spoken word I wondered if i could write a spoken word piece. Its more sophisticated than writing it I think because it’s a performance. You have to adopt a persona on stage, because if you’re into what you’re saying then that’ll impact people more. That is the main reason I don’t use paper or read out of my phone, because it resonates with me and my audience

Q. With the situations all around the world, how are you feeling as a Muslim spoken word poet amidst all this hate?

Sid: People don’t like talking about taboos, especially on stage. If anything, I think it’s an opportunity. A lot of people come up to me and say, ‘oh you’re so good.’ Its not me per se, it’s my content. The things I write are kind of the things people want to hear. I can use it and try to change their image of us.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.06.36 pm.png

Photo credits: Sid Kenpachi

Q. What is the most difficult part in writing poetry? 

Sid: I feel like my objective is to impact the people watching, so everything I say is in there for a reason, but sometimes it doesn’t support the flow so I’ll have to manipulate it or change the order around a bit.

Q. You’re performing with Bunkers without Borders next week, how are you feeling? 

Sid: Its one of my biggest performances to date, way bigger than I’m used to doing. I actually got it through someone I met at Word Up! He enjoyed my pieces so much, he wanted them to be performed at Bunker.

Q. How did you get into Word Up? 

Sid: It’s actually a free space, and anyone can get up and perform and there’s no registration fee. You put your name into a hat, and if it’s called out you get to perform. It’s a space where new poets show up, so just hearing that put me into ease. There was nothing to lose so I just went for it.

Q. How are you feeling about university and spoken word?

Sid: I’m doing business management and accounting, and in the beginning I really loved it but over time, I realise I like spoken word more because of the change it can create. Yeah, I could make money in accounting, but I can help people in my community and Insh’Allah, I will one day.

After our interview, I asked Sid to freestyle some bars for me. He did not disappoint. You can check his video, “Prayer for the Opressed” and the freestyle below.

You can follow Sid and his journey at @SheikhspeareSid on Twitter.

 

Loving Brick Lane

East London is the hype for young Londoners, in the centre of this hype is Brick Lane, a place where you find a bit of everything. There’s culture, art, diversity, food, stores, clubs, music, pop-ups, tattoo shops, literary everything. But why it become such a place to go? What is so special about Brick Lane?
IMG_3415

coffee car

“Brick Lane is just

a fun place to be

where good

stuff happens”

Sam, 22 Years old

Well, the story of Brick Lane starts way before I was born, and it’s messy and complicated, like a good book. It all start on the 19th century when the first breweries, and one of the first markets outside of central London, and still happens every Sunday; it was after that when the area started to grow.

In the beginning, it was an area of immigrants; it began to be a place where Irish and Jews people used to live in, back at the start of the 20th century. As the years went on, the Irish and the Jews moved away from the area, and the people from Bangladesh start to get in around the 70’s,  mostly because of the house prices.

“When I came to

IMG_3411

Rainbow baggels original store

brick Lane I feel alive

and connected with the city”

Charlotte, 27 Years Old

Because of that nowadays is one of the places that you can find the best Bangladesh curry in, is the place where are the most houses of curry in London. And is one of the only places where the street table is in Arabic, it even had the name of Bangla town, it was a form of ghettoization at that time, but nowadays we see it as an inclusion symbol, showing that in that area they are welcome and that everything is fine.

As the years pass by East London start to become the area of the arts people, it was not too expensive, and it was close to the centre of London. At that time till nowadays the artists explore the street as a form of art, one of the things that made Brick Lane famous was the street art.

By that time, Brick Lane started to evolve to what it is today, becoming one of the places that you can find a bit of everything.

“It’s funny how Brick Lane

IMG_3412 2is always changing but

it never losses

the essence of it”

John, 54 years old

This mix of everything was what made this place famous. The fact that different things, religions, points of view, communities living in peace in one small area show the essence of London. The diversity is the fame of this place, and it is what people get from London and hope for the world.

Posted by WNOL on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This tiny place in the world show’s how diversity can bring happiness and be peaceful; we need more Brick lane’s around the world.

Third year fine art show

 

Last night saw third year fine art students display their work in a completely unique venue, out of the usual realms of suburbia. Down a dodgy side street, just a hop, skip and jump away from Peckham Rye tube station, stood the withered remains of 139 Copeland Road.

A perfect venue to display artistic works, the house em-compassed the oh so sought after element of ‘shabby chic,’ that appears to be continually transforming London’s shit-holes into hot spots. Maybe there’s hope for Kenton after all?

Viewers could explore the crumbling remains of this charm-filled dump, which closely resembled that of number 12 Grimmauld Place, whilst observing some Westminster’s fine art pieces.

Whether or not viewers deem such works as art, is of course a personal preference for whom ever is examining the piece. However, amidst the misconceptions of students conjuring art out of thin air and simply ‘winging it’, there is great deal of intellectual thought carried during the creative process and indeed hardwork.

Agony and ecstasy has only previously been reserved for that of Michelangelo’s painting of the sistine chapel, but amongst this endearing bunch there are many examples of suffering for art’s sake. Natalie, 21, explained her trials and tribulations of producing a 3D cast of her own head, “I went there, sat there while she slowly covered my whole head in mod rock. I was trapped inside it. I thought I was pharaoh being made into a mummy.” Others went on a journey. Laura, 22, quite literally followed in the footsteps of German writer Sebald, as she carried out 27 mile walk, taken as inspiration from his book, ‘The Rings of Saturn.

So it’s safe the fine art lot don’t f*** about, they also know how to party hard in the trendy realms of SE London. Check out the video above of the nights events!