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, 2nd Sep 2013
We caught up with Pauline Black, frontwoman of The Selecter, to talk inspirations, icons and what's up next for the band. Following a stand-out performance at this year's Coachella festival, the band are heading to America's East Coast this September for a series of shows.
What are The Selecter working on at the moment?
We’re about to shoot a video for our single Secret Love, which we’ll release online. Hopefully we’ll get that done before we head out to America, and we’ll have it in time for when we go on tour with Public Image Limited in October, which we’re really excited about.
John Lydon has been aware of us for a while - a long time ago we were playing the Palais with The Specials, John Cooper Clarke and the Modettes, and in the audience that night I just saw John hanging around at the bar, looking a bit shifty. He was known as Johnny Rotten back then, and I’ve always liked him and the stance that he has.
Many people refer to you as the ‘Original Rude Girl’ – how would you describe your style?
People say that, but in truth, the idea of a ‘Rude Girl’ didn’t exist – I invented her! There were no ‘Rude Girls’ in that sense. There were Rude Boys, and I just thought to myself; you can either stand onstage and do the whole girl thing, or just get down there and wear some smart trousers, a good little suit and a hat. I mean a hat solves a multitude of problems – you never have a bad hair day for a start – and my style of dress just came down to that. I’d seen films such as The Harder They Come, and I had the sense of what a Rude Boy looked like, but it was just organic really – and a trip to an Oxfam shop!
And for you, who is the ultimate Rude Boy?
For me, the one and only Rude Boy has got to be Neville Staple of The Specials. I used to stand at the side of the stage when we were on the 2-tone Tour, and just watch Neville do Monkey Man standing on top of a huge stack of PAs , making monkey noises to a crowd of skinheads. I mean, that takes bottle, and he has my ultimate respect for doing that.
Of all the songs that you’ve written and played, is there one that you most enjoy performing live?
Probably the last single we did! I mean, always, the audience wants to hear the hits. That’s what they pay good money to come and see, but I credit our audiences with more intelligence than that. They don’t just want to see us play the same songs time and time again – you can go on YouTube for that! I still feel we have to prove our worth as a band, and come up with new stuff. If people don’t like, it, they don’t like it – they vote with their feet.
How was it performing at Coachella festival earlier this year?
It was just fantastic – I mean, in some ways we were completely amazed to have been asked to do it! I think apart from Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, we were the only Ska band out there doing it. And a lot of people were obviously at the festival to see the headliners – the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, etc – and a lot of people there probably weren’t even born when we were around, so were coming out of curiosity. People come along to have a look, and to see what you do, and I think they got a bit of a shock! For the first weekend we played it fairly safe and gave people the Too Much Pressure album, but for the second weekend, when we came back after having been on tour up the West Coast doing new material and it doing equally as well, we thought we’d try it out at Coachella. So we bit the bullet and did that, and it went down a storm. If anything, it was actually better than the first week! So for our contemporaries who maybe want to stick to what they’re known for, and do the heritage thing – I just say be brave, just do it. What’s not to like? And it proves your worth as a band.
If you were asked to curate a festival, which three artists would headline?
I’d have to say Bob Marley, Billie Holliday and oh, I just think it would have to be The Supremes – they were poppy to the extreme but just so wonderful.
You were a contributor to our Don Letts Subculture Films, but what would you say your personal connection to Fred Perry is?
Well I’ve been wearing Fred Perry since 1979, and certainly in the early days, a lot of us wore it on stage. I see it as a symbol of youth, so now, everyone who comes to see us is wearing Fred Perry. I’ve known Don Letts a long time, and it was great he did that series of films. Fred Perry’s are really comfortable, and I think women can really rock them as well as men.
In New York on the 20th September? Win tickets to see The Selecter live at the Gramercy Theatre in our competition - enter here.
Monday, 22nd Jul 2013
We caught up with Dean Chalkley, the man behind the lens at our Twisted Wheel Collection shoot.
Fred Perry had seen my Young Souls project and knew that there was a love and passion for Northern Soul – that project, in particular, showcases that there’s a younger generation who are now really into that music. When it came to the Twisted Wheel shoot, we talked about the approach and really wanted to capture the environment – the essence of the moves, the dancing. There’s a joy in it, which is completely real.
For this shoot, it was absolutely vital that we captured dancing and movement whilst showcasing the clothing. It’s a contemporary study – looking through the shoot, we can see that each person is in their element. There’s a great picture of Tomas, where his face is completely in the moment. He’s not smiling, he’s not posing for the camera; his focus is completely on dancing. Similarly there’s a shot of Emma, where she’s concentrating on her moves but there’s a lot of composure – Northern Soul dancing has a high level of energy and crazy moves, but there’s often a lot of grace and composure there too. It’s almost like a gymnastic performance – it’s like doing a vault, you have to land it properly.
Music is a vital influence for me and my work. Some people think that I’m actually a music photographer – I love music, but for me it’s so much more than a collection of notes and lyrics on a page that’s been performed incredibly well. For me, music is an all-encompassing thing – for example, when you think of Northern Soul, there were plenty of live bands that appeared at the all-nighters, but the scene was largely based around records. People will adore a record, because it makes you feel a particular way, it makes you adopt the essence of the scene. That links up music and photography for me, because I might go see a band play, and then when I photograph that band, I’ll work with them to try and apply the essence of their sound to the shoot. When you look at Northern Soul records, when they’re played out to an audience that are really into it, the dancefloor itself becomes the illustration of this sonic experience.
It’s really nice to see how Fred Perry have peppered little details through the designs – the rose, the badges. The Northern Soul scene is very diverse – there are the styles that are specific to the movement; the baggy trousers, the swing skirts, but the Twisted Wheel itself actually started out as a Beatnik club. The thing I love about the Northern Soul look is that it’s actually all-encompassing. Obviously things like the Fred Perry shirt have travelled throughout the whole of that period, they’ve always been worn on that scene – not only are they great looking, but they’re very practical, and perfect for dancing.
The models featured in the shoot are genuinely into it. They’re real people; they’ve not been selected from an agency because they fit a certain aesthetic. They have a depth of character that makes them a perfect fit not only to Fred Perry; but to the Twisted Wheel Collection itself.
Thursday, 4th Jul 2013
We're now into the third phase of our 60 Years Auction to benefit the Amy Winehouse Foundation, with new contributions available from designers David David and Karen Walker, Bearbrick creators MEDICOM TOY and electro outfit Nitzer Ebb. We caught up with Douglas J McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb to talk music, inspirations and his contributions to the project.
Fred Perry: Tell us what you're up to at the moment?
Douglas J McCarthy: Right now, I'm taking a week off from touring Europe with Depeche Mode, my solo project, HEADMAN and Fixmer/McCarthy. I'm traveling on a train to the Cotswolds to see my Mum.
FP: Talk us through your contributions to our 60 Years Auction - Nitzer Ebb customised a shirt as a group, but you also created a shirt yourself?
DJM: The Nitzer Ebb shirt was based on a very rare demo tape we made in 1983. I asked (fellow members) Bon and Jason their thoughts on the idea, then customised the shirt myself. My personal contribution was inspired by the poster for Ken Loach's exemplary movie 'Kes'.
Original Fred Perry Shirt customised by Nitzer Ebb - available at auction here.
FP: Describe your connection to Fred Perry?
DJM: I defy anyone born in the UK in the 1960s not to have a connection to Fred Perry. Me and my mate, Mark Ford, were proper little rascals at comprehensive school and, as school uniform was strictly enforced, a pair of loafers, Levi’s super thin cords (me and Mark would man our mother’s sewing machine to make them skin tight) and a Fred Perry shirt and a V neck were de rigueur.
FP: Do you have any favourite Fred Perry items?
DJM: Right now, I’m obsessively wearing the Raf Simons for Fred Perry trousers -they're brilliant for traveling in, and great to wear on stage too. I’ve been rocking them with a long sleeve button down and some brogues sans socks because, even though it doesn’t feel like it, it’s summer.
FP: Which of the other customisations in the gallery did you like?
DJM: I thought the Beams and Neville Brody ones were great - unfortunately, touring doesn't give one much time for such things as bidding online.
FP: Who inspires you?
DJM: I'm going to have to be terribly clichéd and say my wife, Hazel Hill McCarthy III. Her own art and the shows she curates are a constant source of delight and inspiration. Also, she makes me laugh out loud all the time, apart from when she makes me so frustrated that I stamp my foot.
Bidding on the third set of special customisations, including the shirt by Nitzer Ebb, ends Sunday 7th July. See all the shirts available as part of our 60 Years Auction here.