Check out all of the posts in the category ‘Interviews’ below. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, try searching by using the box on the right hand side of this page.
Monday, 27th Oct 2014
Five years in the making, "Northern Soul" is the cinematic debut from acclaimed photographer Elaine Constantine. The film saw its theatrical and home entertainment release in October 2014.
Newcomer Josh Whitehouse plays central character Matt, bad boy of the film who steers lead John Clark (played by Elliot James Langridge) towards the vibrant Northern Soul all-nighter scene of the 1970's.
We met up with Josh to discuss Northern Soul dancing, tattoos and how it felt working on a project that was such a labour of love...
How did you meet Elaine, and get involved with “Northern Soul”?
I met Elaine five years ago when my band were in the background of a photoshoot she was doing. She asked me to entertain a crowd whilst they were fixing something, and I jumped up on a hay bale played my guitar and sang a song. I think she noticed how responsive the crowd were in a situation like that. She invited me to her Northern Soul dance classes she was putting on in London, and I went along with no prior dancing or acting experience and just got involved really. I went for about six months, and after that she offered me private dance classes as I was getting better. We started doing acting workshops too – guys already involved with the film started trying out scripts with me and I then started doing acting classes. So from the dance classes, to script reading to acting lessons, one thing lead to another really. It was only about two months before we started filming that I was formally offered the part. It was two years of total anticipation and preparation.
I’ve seen footage from some of the Northern Soul dance classes on youtube - they look pretty incredible. How did that come about, did they slowly build over time?
I joined the classes two years before we started filming, and to be fair, they were as packed at the beginning as they were at the end. They were held at a pub called the Old Queens Head in North London. Everybody was incredibly inviting and welcoming – I started new to it all (everybody else was amazing at dancing), but I gave it my best. It was just a great environment. At the end of every dance class two people had to go up and show what they’d learned that day– everybody would clap, cheer and support. It was really helpful.
How was it learning Northern Soul dancing? Obviously the dancing is a little different from how most people normally dance. Were you nervous, or self-conscious?
Yeah, haha. It’s one of those things where you’re aware you feel nervous and self-conscious, but the only way to get past that is to throw yourself into it and let it go. It’s the same thing as moving to a new school and trying to make new friends. The more you do it, and the more you have people see you do it, the less it feels like something that is completely new to you.
With the music, was Northern Soul a genre you were into before the film, or is it something you’ve come to enjoy?
No, not at all, haha. I’m a musician – I play music, and I listen to a lot of different styles of music, but I’d never heard of Northern Soul. When I joined the dance classes I was given three albums of tracks being considered for the film’s soundtrack. I was asked to learn them, asked to listen to them. I really wanted to give everything to this so I listened to them day in day out, tried to learn all the vocals. Elaine would quiz us on the records, making sure we knew the songs. To be presented with a whole new genre of music – not just a genre, a culture of music, it was difficult for me to know whether I instantly liked it, but after going through all this – the classes, making the film, all these experiences really made me feel at one with soul music.
You mentioned you have your own band, is soul something you’ve started to incorporate into the music you make now?
Absolutely. It’s really inspiring. I’ve got a band called “More Like Trees” and we do a cover of Frankie Valli’s “The Night” which is in the film. We do it a bit flamenco-y a bit like house music, but all acoustic. It’s very different to the original, but I realised I’d been learning all of this music so rigidly that I have this catalogue of great soul tunes that have been hand-picked for me by people from the scene. I started playing the songs on guitar, partly to learn the words, partly to learn some of the feeling as we had to sing along with these songs when we’re on set. When I learn a song I use a guitar. Singing along to the record doesn’t quite bed the words into my brain as much. It was my way of getting into the songs.
Your character in the film is a bit of a bad boy, he’s the guy that steers Elliot’s character away – do you see much of yourself in him, or are you quite different?
Yeah he is a bit of a bad boy. I’m definitely different from the character, but I think you have to have an element of a character deep down in you to be able to portray it fully. The main thing I connected to with my character was his relentless hatred for chart music. I used to spend many long drives listening to the radio in someone else’s car, and it used to drive me mad. It’s one of the reasons I started a band to be honest. A lot of the great independent bands, they never seem to hit the mainstream, and even when they do they get turned into something completely different. Everybody hates them because they’ve gone into making money instead of doing this or that. It can be a really messed up industry. With my character, he was obsessed with these great records. He had a hatred for Cliff Richard and the charts - one of my favourite lines was (adopts Northern accent) “Forget the charts, it’s all propaganda”. So yeah, I channelled all of this into my character – he’s obsessed with music, and I think that if you have that same venom running through your veins, you’ll be alright.
Your character has lots of tattoos which stand out in the film, I heard you kept one of them – is that right?
Yeah ha, I got it on the wrong arm actually – I must have preferred it on this side. My girlfriend got it for me for my 24th – my last birthday. I always said to Elaine that if I got the part and I played the role for her, I wanted a reminder to represent all the work that went into the project. You can only really get tattoos to represent big moments of your life, and I guess “Northern Soul” is one that I’m not going to forget.
The film is now out in cinemas, how does it feel for it to be finally out there? It took a while to actually get to the screen…
Yeah, yeah it’s an incredible release of anticipation and waiting. Since I first got involved, the whole process has taken five years to release. For five years I’ve been imagining that film coming out, it’s been a really long wait and I’ve been looking forward to it a lot. It kind of feels a bit numb now, like it’s not necessarily happening – but I definitely know that it is, and the film seems to be doing really well, so I’m really really pleased about that.
We’ve already had a fantastic response from Fred Perry customers about the film
And something that keeps being mentioned in conversations is the level of detail and authenticity that runs through the film. How was it working with Elaine, who came from the scene itself?
Oh man, Elaine is incredible. I consider her one of my closest friends now, even though she’s 30 years older than me. I think when I met her on that first photoshoot, I decided internally I wanted to stay involved with what she was doing. She manages to be so on-point and professional, whilst making sure everybody is doing their job, but still keeping everybody relaxed…I don’t know if I’d describe it as Northern? Haha very Northern. She’s a dirty, grotty Northerner and she’s completely amazing, incredibly talented. She was a dream to work with really. She’ll be really blunt with you, and I need that because I wasn’t an actor before. She’d come up to us and say things like “Y’know that line you just did? You’re saying it all wrong. Could you just like, say the words properly?” which was great – I’d be like “OK love, yeah yeah, now I know exactly what you don’t want me to do”. Her way of handling people is really fantastic.
In terms of the authenticity and attention to detail, the costumes were just incredible. She’d have top DJs from the scene constantly down. If you think about the dance scenes where there were perhaps up to 2000 people on the floor dancing, what you can’t see is the other 1000 people sat on the balcony above who were all from the Northern Soul scene originally. They were there watching. They are the people who are going to really critique this film, the people this film is really going to matter to – she invited them all down to come and watch her make it. I think it was a smart move of her. She was saying she was confident she wasn’t going to get anything wrong, and if she did they could come here and tell her.
I think it definitely seems to have struck a chord. How was it working with your co-stars? There is some real British talent involved in the film.
It was fantastic. I’ve never really worked with other actors before. I was a bit nervous about acting with really experienced people. They were all brilliant to work with, and seemed really excited about the project and got really involved. We all got on really well, and spent the whole time on set talking in a proper Northern accent. The film completely came out in everybody – I felt Northern by the time the shoot was finished.
What has been the reaction been like since the film has been released?
I’ve been tagged in many, many, many posts on Facebook – I’ve been getting a lot of love from people. Loads of lovely messages, from old friends to complete strangers. It seems overall incredibly positive. I keep getting pictures from friends of sold out cinemas. There’s been a campaign to get the film shown in bigger cinemas, which I totally support. It’s a bit like going back to what I was saying about chart music. There are a lot of other films that get attention because of the name, or people cast in them, but I think sometimes people like to support the underdog. The film has done so well already at independent cinemas, I think the next step is to get the public to push to get the mainstream cinemas buckle I guess. There’s a load of groups for the film on Facebook and the internet, and I think public support is one of the main ways an independent film can get out there – and I’m just really happy it’s happened to Elaine.
Finally, what’s next for you?
I’ve just signed with an acting agency, and if something good comes in acting-wise then fantastic. But I’m mainly focusing on my music and my band, so lots of gigs and solo gigs. I’ve got big plans to have an all-powerful band by the New Year. It’s an exciting time.
Northern Soul is out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital HD
Josh Whitehouse on Twitter
Thursday, 9th Oct 2014
We speak to British cult film writer Simon Wells (pictured left) about his new book “Quadrophenia: A Way of Life (Inside the Making of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film)”
What impact did it make on you the first time that you saw Quadrophenia?
I was mesmerised, confused, enchanted, bewitched. Like many who saw it first time around – overall, it was the energy that totally captivated me. But beyond that, there was a raft of elements that were going on that made it fascinating. In a sense, Quadrophenia is a classic “Boy meets girl loses girl” type of film – a bit like West Side Story meets Saturday Night Fever – but the great thing was it was OUR story – a believable British film – one of very few.
Why do you think it has earned such a special place in the hearts of so many people over the last 35 years?
It’s the template for a generation; a blueprint for living. It’s a fierce reflection of youth – and that’s at the core of its appeal for me. That time period of 16-19 has a golden glow around it for many – and that is a time many of us reference as the most exciting period of our life. I haven’t heard anyone say, “I remember how great it was to be 27 or 35” No – it’s that time as teenagers that many of us remember as a slightly whacky period, and Quadrophenia is all about that.
Jimmy’s choice of Fred Perry Shirt and parka made it very easy for the kids on the street to emulate the leading character’s style. Do you think that helped people feel connected with the film?
Fred Perry like Quadrophenia never goes out of style – it was a wise choice of apparel – and ensures that the film will look eternally cool. I am not surprised Fred Perry formed a large part of Jimmy’s uniform during the film.
Quadrophenia has almost become the definitive historical document of Mod culture in Britain. Do you think of Quadrophenia as a second hand account of 1960s British youth subculture, or more as a first hand artefact of the 78-81 Mod revival?
It’s a good question and the answer is that it is actually a bit of both. If it was a straight reflection of 1960s life – it would fail – as it carries much of the fury of the late 70s Punk attitude. So welded together it is a very powerful, believable document.
What was the most surprising fact you un-earthed whilst researching the book?
In my researches I came across the story of a young Mod who actually fell to his death over a Brighton cliff in 1964 following the riots. It fascinated me, and I was intrigued to whether it inspired the album. Pete Townshend relayed to me that it did not, and he was surprised that it had happened - but then I found out that the boy’s brother went onto work for The Who and was a close friend of Townshend. So, it’s incredible – and if people are interested, the whole story is on a blog here. http://quadropheniaslostmod.blogspot.co.uk/
You’ve written extensively about cult British cinema, including other iconic films such as ‘Get Carter’, and ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Do you think there have been any true Brit cult classics since Quadrophenia?
Very few to be honest – I would say Meantime (also starring Phil Daniels) is a bona fide British cult film, but few have seen it and it hasn’t got the romance of Quadrophenia. I wince when I hear films that are made in the style of a “cult” film because it doesn’t really happen that way – and with the internet, will probably never happen again in the future. Trainspotting and Withnail & I for me are probably the most famous cult films since Quadrophenia. While Trainspotting borrows heavily from Quadrophenia in terms of gang mentality and energy, Withnail and I is a bona fide cult object – the fanaticism to the film is very similar to those who follow Quadrophenia, and has endured generation after generation.
There’s been a lot of speculation in the last 35 years about the ending of Quadrophenia. Where do you think Jimmy Cooper is today?
Ha ha! What a great question. I think Jimmy is probably in a council flat – probably somewhere on the south coast - in his late sixties. He probably fathered a few kids in his time – not least the one with Steph! I sort of imagine life has been hard for him, and that he was unemployed a lot. In his quieter, reflective moments – he probably looks back on his time on the Mod trail – with great fondness – as we all do!
You can order Simon Wells' "Quadrophenia: A Way of Life" from Countdown Books, along with their other excellent titles dealing with British Subcultures of the Twentieth Century.
Tuesday, 23rd Sep 2014
National hero and British sporting legend, Sir Bradley Wiggins has now collaborated for 6 seasons with Fred Perry - creating together a stylish collection that heavily references Bradley's cycling heritage.
The Autumn/Winter 2014 collection - now in-stores - features both new and reworked favourites offered in vintage inspired patterns and colours. Hints to his love of 60s style can be found in slim-cut turtle neck knits and retro sports track jackets.
Bradley was involved in every step of the design process, with inspiration taken from classic cycling jerseys, and pieces found in the Fred Perry archives.
Currently undertaking an intense training schedule, we met up with Bradley for a catch-up, and to hear his thoughts on his collection, music and of course, cycling...
When we first met in 2012 you mentioned you were nervous about whether people would take to the collaboration or not, the collection has since gone from strength to strength. What are you most excited about seeing in your next collection?
For the next collection, I am most excited to see the kids range
We’ve just produced the first Bradley Wiggins Kids shirts together, you said you bought your first Fred Perry back in 1989 when it was a slightly left-field choice, are either of your children into the Laurel Wreath yet?
…which brings me onto the answer to the next question. My son Ben is very into the Laurel Wreath already. My little girl pinched his parka so I'm guessing she's next
Pictured above, the Bradley Kids Shirt from our current collection
Is there anyone in particular whose style inspires you at the moment or who you’d really like to see wearing a Bradley Wiggins Shirt?
I'm always looking a at loads of different style icons if you like from many different eras. There's not really anybody in particular that I style myself on, I take many differ elements and do my own take. I would've loved to have seen Steve Marriott in one of my shirts.
We really enjoyed your BBC 6 Music special with Paul Weller, could we see a future disc-jockey in you much further down the line?
Really enjoyed the Radio 6 thing too, it's something I'd love to be able to do in future.
You’ve said previously that the Northern music scene has stayed much more underground than the South’s, are there any bands or musicians that you’re listening to at the moment that we should know about?
Not really. I'm listening to the Stone Roses again just now. I've been enjoying a reggae cd a Jamaican athelete gave to me at the Commonwealth Games.
This year saw the 20th anniversary of Blur’s Parklife and the beginning of what was to become Britpop. What was your favourite nineties album and do you have any fond Britpop memories?
Definitely Maybe. That album, the video of "Live Forever" on MTV. Some powerful imagery and the sense that music/culture could change things.
Having just won your fourth Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and having claimed victory at the Tour of California earlier this year, are there any plans for a holiday before the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro or are you straight back into training?
Yes I'm looking forward to a short trip to NYC in November for my wedding anniversary. After that the family will combine training and holidays, there won't be any time! we often go to Majorca because the roads and terrain are fantastic for cycling whilst the kids can enjoy the beach. It's the best of both worlds.
A few years on from the Wiggo Effect and the London Olympics, the Tour de France can be seen departing from England, do you see the resurgence of cycling particularly in London being a lasting one?
Yes absolutely 100%. Cycling is a real viable, sustainable, green, transport alternative. By using cycling as a tool to get about it becomes a simple way of fitting exercise into your daily life without thinking about it, that fits around work and life. Aside from all that it's damned enjoyable and I love it.
Bradley, good luck and thank you for your time!
The Bradley Wiggins collection is available in Fred Perrry stores and online now.
View the collection online HERE
See the Bradley Wiggins Kids Shirt HERE
Find your nearest Fred Perry store HERE