The pop census 2012: London’s new ecology
Anyone who’s been up with the escapades of Rihanna’s recent promo campaign would get the impression that the pop industry continues to tower financially over us all. A plane leaving LA taking in seven destinations including London where it concluded.
Those looking at the fine print of this elaborate stunt will have noticed the brand advertising that fuelled the plane with oil and the journalists with booze. Something I am in no way bitter about being excluded from. Definitely not.
The cracks can be seen. A recurring feature of pop videos today is the product placement: the phone, a designer beverage, or whatever multinational brand has decided to market their wares. Not only has this starved the artistry of pop videos but it bolsters the idea that pop’s haughtiness is escaping for pastures real.
With such fiscal degeneration, the magnetic centre of major labels and formal structures has weakened and increasingly ‘Pop’ artists are turning to the fringes, rather than being consumed by the not-so-fat-anymore fat cats. They are less likely to be seduced by the money men, who are standing increasingly pocketless, or the producers whose bloated studios feel increasingly irrelevant.
Now the idea of the bedroom producer, the home studio, or the DIY operation above a suburban kebab shop seems more relevant. There’s also a case, recently made by Carrie Battan over at Pitchfork, that the gulf between the indie scene and its pop counterpart is being exploited. That there is an increasing interest in gentrified pop, in the growing belief that pop music is wasted on the young.
This isn’t a particularly new trend nor is it one I take any claim in. It’s the urban, savvy, talented vocalist constructing radio-friendly ditties with the help of boutique producers and record labels. The self aware, intelligent artist. One who understand the importance of collaboration. Jade Pybus,or Py is one of them. A former Music and Visual Arts student at Brighton University, engrossed in submersion and interactive performance.
“The first [producer involved] was Throwing Snow. I just contacted him… [the] thing with Ross that I real like was that he crossed over the bridge of live music and band music and I was really into what he was doing. Maybe at the time I hadn’t really realised that. It was a really good match and now he’s become a great friend.”
The nature of the scene, with everyone being friendly and I just got to know everyone. To know people working, with everyone working differently.” When Jade talks she sounds neither wide-eyed nor overwhelmed. She has the pedestrian ease of someone in control: “Then Lapalux contacted my on my [social music platform] Soundcloud. You know,” she pauses, “a lot of producers contact me on Soundcloud.”
And when Jade expresses her involvement with the art direction it comes across as real, “I’ve done two videos now. I wanted to get my teeth into it, and the art director was on the same course as me. And I’ve made loads of visuals as well, going on to sound images and capturing things that mean stuff to me – there’s a lot of nostalgia and memories.”
Both Katy B and Jessie Ware have been brought to fame through their own creative endeavours. Katy worked with Rinse, the cutting edge East London dance operation, and Jessie collaborated with Julio Bashmore (perhaps with Sade covers in mind). But these aren’t the only two that fit this exciting and emerging trend. Fatima Bramme Sey moved from Stockholm to London in pursuit of a change.
“I just was bored of living in Stockholm. I really love my home town. As far as the city goes it felt pretty small. One of my best friends was moving here, so I wanted to go there. When I arrived in London I did a few things I don’t think are worth mentioning,” she does, and I mention how working in a sneaker shop was probably a good way to meet musicians, “Eventually as time goes by you get to know the city better. Get to know the characters.”
This change has not taken place overnight, nor does is feel completely revolutionary, but it has crept into the current cultural landscape, and left London a pop industry more feral than ever.Tagged in: Carrie Battan, Fatima Bramme Sey, indie, Jade Pybus, jessie ware, katy b, pop, pop music, Rihanna, Soundcloud
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