About Alex Gushurst-Moore

Alex Gushurst-Moore is currently studying English Literature and History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. In 2011 she founded The Designer Index as a global platform for emerging artists in fashion, and hopes to continue with the promotion of young talent through her academic work as well as through the media. Alex has worked with publications such as Spear's Magazine, The Student, and The Journal, as well as the artistic hub Creative Bath and her student radio station FreshAir.org.uk. She takes most pleasure from working alongside and collaborating with other creatives.

Archie Smith

Beethoven started playing the piano aged four, Mozart at three. Even Chris Martin, frontman of legendary pop/rock band Coldplay, dipped his toe in the acoustic pool pre-puberty. So when Archie Smith tells me he was hitting the piano before he could speak, I know we are onto a winner.

Aged 20, from a rurality outside of Bath, Archie had somewhat of a classical beginning to his musical education. At school, he sung in choirs and in musical theatre most of the way through. Pop and rock soon followed, and he started his first band, ‘The Aviators’, aged 12. A slew of other groups, in different incarnations, came and went throughout school, until a year ago when Archie decided to go solo.

As is the case with most of the artists showcased as part of the ‘Born in Britain’ programme, Archie does all of his creative work alongside his studies. In just the past months, he has performed with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin (also on the Born in Britain site here), Lewis Watson, Luke Concannon, Josh Record, and many other talented, young musicians. He was also a part of the late BBC Introducing programme in Wiltshire, and has subsequently moved to BBC Introducing South. It’s amazing then, to weight these accomplishments along with all of the other commitments he has, but it’s done through hard graft and a natural flair.

His first CD, entitled ‘Out of the Ashes’, was recorded and released in 2012. After the physical editions sold out, Archie turned to his next project, which was to be the ‘I Will Love You’ EP. A magical and touching ballad (which I feel the music industry is hard pressed to come by nowadays) explores themes of love and loss. Taken as a piece on it’s own, it’s extremely easy listening, and receptive to the ideas of the writer. Accompanied by a short film, that Archie tells me really came about by a chance encounter whilst busking, the result is a deeply moving piece of musical cinema. Elrose Media have successfully conveyed the core meaning of the song through a plot that ebbs to an overwhelming conclusion.

What is clear is the artistry is at the core of Archie’s sound. Never one to rush his work, the writing process is always organic, and his inspiration comes from the heart of artistic endeavour. In true New-Romantic fashion, galleries and theatres hold much to be enjoyed, especially dance, for as Archie says ‘there isn’t much that is more captivating than watching people move to music’. Musically speaking, Coldplay is a tangible influence: mellow chords and robust lyrics melt together to create something of an echo. The protegee isn’t hollow though, bolstered by other contemporary classical notes to the tune of Eric Whitacre, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, and Andy Williams. The list is endless: but the sights are high.

In relying on classical tones, his contemporary sound is given a starting point from which age old concerns meld with those that are perhaps more modern. From his first CD ‘The First Days of Love’ is a standout track. Subtle and creative, it’s a gentle tune with a heartfelt message that most of us can associate with. Stripping back the angst of young adulthood, Archie gives us a refreshing taste of honest upset and, in turn, elation. A young Chris Martin? Perhaps – but Archie Smith will no doubt soon be a household name of it’s own.

www.archiesmithuk.com

Sarah Kilkenny Design

It’s often the case that creative types draw a lot from their childhood, after all we are each one of us products of our upbringing. It was natural then for Sarah Kilkenny to make the move from embroidering with her grandmother in Manchester to studying fashion design full time at the Edinburgh College of Art. Following a slew of fashion opportunities in sixth form, including the Fashion Awareness Directive and the Vauxhall Fashion Scout programme, the latter of which granted Sarah the research award, the young designer gathered enough confidence and experience to continue her passion into higher education. She is now entering her fourth and final year of study.

Often cited as the fashion capital of the North, Manchester plays host to a number of creatives, many of whom have been featured as part of the ‘Born in Britain’ project. Between the experience her home town has leant her, and those which she has learnt in Edinburgh, Sarah’s style is one that is comfortable and cool. Growing up around many artistic influences has allowed her to broaden her own repertoire and she cites illustration and writing as areas of interest to be explored, as well as photography, film, and design and the impact and relationship they share with fashion design. As well as this, the designer talks about the merging of fashion and academia as a growing trend, alluding to Anja Aronowsky Cronberg and her work at Vestoj, and with such a multifaceted nature to her work, Sarah imbues creation with meaning, drive, and interest.

Currently, her work is largely fashion design with a focus on surfaces. Studying at the ECA has lead to an endless number of awesome opportunities, including the chance to work with high-end designers Duchamp and Michael Kors, both of whom selected Sarah as a finalist in their design competitions. The accolades don’t stop there, either, she also made it to the finals of the British Alpaca Society Student Knitwear Designer of the Year Competition and the Mackintosh Competition, narrowly missing out on the top spots. The latter two competitions were of great importance to Sarah because of their positions as forerunners in a long line of British heritage brands, which, alongside Gola, support and sustain the tradition and economy of Great Britain. That’s why, when a young Scottish brand announced her as winner of their design competition, she was so enthusiastic to see her designs realised. That’s all under wraps for now, but watch this space.

Inspiration comes from many areas, but Sarah stresses that they are mainly visual ones. Feelings and characters play into her ‘imaginary muse’, but the main theme is a focus on perception through vision. Work with other creatives is also impactive, and she describes working on a collaborative sketchbook project that involved sharing visual illustration ideas and building upon them as a group of artists.

This summer, Sarah has embarked on an internship with another heritage brand, Pringle of Scotland. Living and working in London, Sarah tells me that she will be ‘assisting with all areas within the design team, knitwear and wovens but predominantly knitwear as this is where I have been specialising this year. Also research, colour palettes, fittings and working with the lookbook shoot’. The formal part of her training begins here, but she is no stranger to the hard-faced world of the fashion industry, and has previously worked with clients such as Chanel on their 2013 Metier D’Arts show in Edinburgh.

Sarah admits that the future is anyone’s guess. She’d like to do an MA in Womenswear, but with such an extensive and impressive CV already, the sky really is the limit for this impressive young designer.

Top Photo: Coat, Sarah Kilkenny; Hat, Emma Lawrie; Top, Catrina Murphy; Trousers, Birgit Saviauk. Model: Marju Kaps.

Sarah may be contacted at: sarahkilkenny91@gmail.com

sarah-kilkenny.tumblr.com

Made As Mannequins

What do four guys carting three mannequins from Edinburgh to Glasgow make? The new Made As Mannequins single of course. This is just the kind of stint they pulled to create the new video for ‘Am I Alive?’. With a cheeky attitude and fabulous instrumental skills, their unique brand of Scottish Indie is attracting a lot of attention. Here’s what they had to say:

Made As Mannequins is composed of four members that hail from all corners of Scotland. Ben Macfarlane (Glasgow) is the singer and guitarist, Jamie Flynn (Stirling) is the lead guitarist and backing singer, Ian Smith (Edinburgh) is the bassist , and Ryan Ramsay (Arbroath) is the drummer. The band are based mainly in Glasgow and since forming in November have enjoyed great success playing at a collection of venues across Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. Ben and Ian attend Glasgow University, Ryan studies at Edinburgh University and Jamie is an unemployed bum/tentative farmer so he hopes more than anyone the band make it big!

They generally meet as a three piece (Ben, Jamie, Ian) to discuss ideas and play around with riffs and lyrics before heading to Lo-Fi studio in Glasgow to get the input of drummer Ryan. It is here where the band develops most of their songs together. They also have a habit of impromptu changes when hitting the studio, leading to frustration of the sound engineer but essentially a better record (in the bands opinion).

Based in Glasgow, Made As Mannequins draw inspiration from a wide range of ‘Scottish greats’ including the Fratellis and Frightened Rabbit, but probably draw a closer comparison to the smaller bands in Scotland whom the band continually go to watch such as Admiral Fallow and Bwani Junction.

Having just released their debut single and video ‘Am I Alive?’ they have followed this success with a slew of radio appearances across Scotland. They are currently in talks with Daylight Records to record an EP over the summer, and from hereon out the future looks bright. Their appreciation of a core fan base is testament to their good natures, and with this in mind, we are sure that success will soon follow.

For more information go to their facebook page, or contact them at madeasmannequins1@gmail.com.

 

INKA

Olivia Rafferty spent seven years playing the French Horn and singing classically. Though she stresses that this is not the kind of music she plays anymore, traditional music techniques are very much apparent in the melodious tones of this Edinburgh based singer songwriter. Originally from Aberdeen, she is now studying for a degree in English Literature at Edinburgh University, and since arriving here four years ago, INKA has been born out of the vibrant creative scene that the city has to offer.

Musically speaking, she cites the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Billy Joel as inspiration. Though she might not sound much like all or any of them, it’s their bottle she admires. ‘Melodic, real, and unashamedly catchy’ are the qualities she has taken and mastered from this slew of greats, but the fact that they are all men is noteworthy: this genre of acoustic pop has often been dominated by males, and INKA tells me that the contemporary Edinburgh music scene is no different. That’s not to mention the ‘Scottish folk’ tradition that pervades most of the sounds of these acoustic singers, but this is exactly what makes INKA such an exciting talent. As a female pop acoustic artist, she finds her niche quite neatly.

I for one find that there is much in her songs to empathise with. My favourite song, ‘Innocence’ speaks to me quite clearly about relationships I have been in. I know this to be true of all my friends also, be they male or female, Scot or not, and is this not the most obvious sign of a successful artist? There is absolutely something very universal about her lyrics, which she says often come to her at the most inconvenient of times. But often this is the way: genius strikes when you least expect it.

Rafferty graduates at the end of this academic year, and from there she hopes to go to Toronto. She is in the process of cultivating her first EP, but as she builds her fan base, gigging takes priority, but ‘putting one foot in front of the other’ moreso. Her gumption and drive will undoubtedly see her through – and I for one sincerely hope she continues to write, for her talent is enormous and very exciting.

inkamusicofficial@gmail.com

www.inkamusic.co.uk

Dwyle Flonk Film

With a name as abstract as theirs, it comes as no surprise that the two man band behind ‘Dwyle Flonk Film’ embrace the weirdness on a personal, as well as professional, level. We caught up with Jack and Lysander to discuss their magical world.

The two met at Downside School in Somerset, where they bonded over many things, not least of which ‘being dark-haired’. Warp Films and Warp Records, as well as Ninja Tune artists, also figured in their friendship, and later became key players in the creative inspiration behind Dwyle Flonk. It really came about, Jack says, from ‘finding the darkest in humanity funny’. He explains that ‘Dwyle Flonking is an old English game where the aim is to hit a man with a beer soaked rag. DFF does that but with film, in some way’.

This celebration of the absurd is at the heart of the Dwyle Flonk ethos; each film plays upon the uncanny and the bizarre, all with a good added dose of humour. They largely work in shorts that ‘experiment with stereotypes through film, and the subversion of normal film tropes’, and are quick to point out that ‘there is a lightness of touch in our work, though what we deal with is dark’. The films are testament to this, and the rather glib sentiment that DF is ‘whimsical about death, decay, sexual perversion, and creepiness’ probably most straightforwardly sums them up.

Both have impressive and lengthy creative resumes; Jack has worked extensively in film and theatre in Cheltenham, Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol and Edinburgh, career pinnacles being ‘an explicit and violent version’ of Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre, directing a sell-out revival of Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Beautiful Thing’, and acting for Warner Bros TV. He currently studies TV, Theatre and Film at the University of Bristol. Lysander began by staging a school producation of Jam by Chris Morris, a production that still haunts the vacuous halls of my own subconscious. His education is a mixed bag, having worked in photography, to running a pub, to the antiques trade; a CV with a ‘breadth of experience that helps inform a lot of our work’. The both have before worked with BBC Drama, and can be seen in a new adaptation of The Lady Vanishes which aired on 17 March 2013.

Their rise to dizzying heights has commenced, and there are many projects currently on the go at DF, including a collaborative work with photographers and composers on the theme of ‘the weird’; curating the South West’s newest short film festival – Jump Cut Film Festival, in collaboration with various other media groups, in May 2013; as well as several films, including Gin. Two Fingers. and a short film about the troubles of being a statue performer.

Currently based in Bristol, they can be contacted at dwyleflonk@gmail.com.

Info on Jump Cut Film Festival can be found here: www.jumpcutfestival.co.uk

Film: The Goodparent, entry into Virgin Media Shorts 2012.

The Monty Hall Problem

Glasgow-based band The Monty Hall Problem have been making music for two years now. Having met at school, Lewis, Mark, Ryan, and Timmy quickly developed a great musical repore. Now, with an album coming out early next year that they have funded themselves, a record deal is on the horizon for the four piece combo.

From the formative stages in Glasgow, the boys are now steadily going their separate ways. They now bridge their hometown and Edinburgh, and play most of their gigs in these two cities. They make it work with a combination of hot talent and fierce dedication.

Music is the ultimate goal for all four: their indie, rock n’ roll vibe hones in on the sound of a younger generation, of which they, crucially, are a part. They write all of their own music, testament to outstanding creative powers, and the inspirational use of brass and keyboards gives a profoundly emotive tone to their songs. Their influences include the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Glasvegas, and the Vaccines. They draw a lot of comparisons with these last – tapping into that same young indie vibe, but putting a uniquely Glaswegian crunch on the lyrics and riffs.

Future plans include the promotion of their first album, entitled ‘Is This a Dream or Am I This Lucky’ after a track on the album. Under the tutelage of producer Roger Shephard, it will be out in early 2013. What follows is anyone’s guess, but there are whisperings of a UK tour. For now, check out upcoming gigs on their facebook page, or email that at themontyhallproblem@live.co.uk.

Come see The Monty Hall Problem play in Edinburgh next November 27th for the Scottish stint of the Born in Britain Creative Showcase. Details on the facebook event page.

Marvellous Medicine

If you’ve been searching for the new groove: look no further. How happy I was to be introduced to Oxford-based Marvellous Medicine: very much a mash of jazz and folk, ska and rap, most of their melodies obviously fall into a reggae mood. They say that ‘this is a consistent feature, but you can hear Brecker-inspired funk in our song Colour, klezmer music in Streets and Avenues, and Spice Girls (!) in Girl Back Home.’

Marvellous Medicine met whilst studying at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, (the informal, arty kind of college) and it was the initial efforts of Rob – bass, Piers – keys, Jake – sax, and George – cello/djembe that founded the band. A year later, they were joined by Jamie and Holly, playing the guitar and drums respectively, and together formed MM, the six man wonder-band they are today.

Hailing from all over the UK, their backgrounds are an equally mixed bag when it comes to music. Rob, former member of a thrash metal band, cites a particular love of Bruce Springsteen, which proved of great influence in the song Homecoming. George has had classical training his whole life, and is now a formidable cellist, whilst Piers studied jazz and classical piano in Cardiff. The others are equally enthusiastic about their work, and have all been from an early age. But they do stress that this is foremostly a collaborative effort  – all members of the band sing, and they fondly consider themselves to be ‘a colorful set of personalities, but the music that comes out puts a smile on our faces’. Ours too.

So what’s next for MM? They have just released a four track EP, available on soundcloud here. They intend to continue making music together for the foreseeable future, with the ultimate intention of touring ‘Planet Earth’. I for one cannot wait; this band’s unique and soulful sound is well worth a listen. Catch them on their facebook page: facebook.com/MarvellousMedicine.

Joanna Lisowiec

The crunchy lines and bold colours of her work are the antithesis of softly spoken, elven Joanna Lisowiec. But in conversation with the Edinburgh-based illustrator, one gets a sense of her dynamic and definite attitude towards the arts. We both agree not to touch the subject of concept-based art, choosing instead to speak at length about where the art world should be heading (not necessary synonymous with its current direction) and its purpose. Clearly an intellectual, Joanna’s work has profound and extensive meaning beyond the aesthetic.

Born to Polish parents, the artist was brought up between the USA and Switzerland, before moving to Edinburgh to complete a degree at the ECA. She takes great inspiration from the natural world, and tells me that mountains are of especial significance, which, considering her childhood spent in the Colorado Rockies and European Alps, it’s no leap of the imagination to understand why. This translates nicely into her art: natural forms meet boundless emotional shape, playing out in visual harmony to communicate a story.

As an illustrator, Joanna has naturally put emphasis on the relationship between art and literature: hers is a didactic art, imbued with true sentiment. The collision of word and image has always been of intense fascination for me, for the echoes and mimicries that leap between the mediums are extensive and of significant importance to art history.

In terms of the practicalities of working in the contemporary industry, Joanna has a fairly clear idea of where she is heading. In 2011, Joanna beat competition to design the book cover for ‘Viking Gold’ by V. Campbell. She intends for this to be her main stream of revenue in the future, given that designing book covers is something she has an earnest passion and natural flair for. Aside from this, an artist-in-residency position could be on the horizon, but for now, the chance to focus on and hone her craft won’t be passed up.

Samuel Sultana

There are few artists you can feel an emotional connection to from the offset, but on the rare occasion that an artist does reach through the canvas, magic ensues. Samuel Sultana is one such creative. Currently working on a collaborative artists commune-type project, he is clearly well liked and respected for the work he is doing.

A painter at heart, Sultana acknowledges that these kind of labels can be restrictive. Looking at his work, one sees few limitations: boundless colors and shapes that morph in front of your eyes, each painting tells a story. The strength of the work lies in the composition of the pieces. Sultana tells me that he now treats ‘art as philosophy’, and one certainly perceives the intellectual in each of his artworks.

I have no doubt that Sultana’s creative process would be of exceptional interest to observe. When your philosophy is that ‘it is essential to use everything. Everything is the arsenal’, the product will inevitably be of celestial proportions.

Relying on ‘chaos, intensities, and extremes’, his work is in league with the likes of Willem de Kooning, Rothko, and more recently, Bryan Lewis Saunders. The environment is paramount to the success of the artwork: hence the idea behind his current project. In a nod to the Romantic, ‘isolation, solitude, and obsession’ also compute.

The diverse range of artists Sultana is currently working with reflect a global spirit, bent on redefining and redesigning the creative landscape in Bristol, where the project is based. He says the creative platform will encompass all media, from ‘fine art to film, music, and theater’, offering a chance for young artists to network and build a support base from which to flourish.

Equipped with the creative holy trinity of vision, faith, and obsession, I have no doubt this is an artist of the future. To view more of Sultana’s work, go to his facebook page here or youtube. He can also be contacted by email at ssul0011@gmail.com.

Jacob Birge

Anyone familiar with the Edinburgh fashion scene will have come across the name Jacob Birge before. This young man is a creative force to be reckoned with; working in the fields of fashion, music, and design, Birge constantly pushes the boundaries of mixed media.

Having graduated from the Edinburgh College of Fashion in 2012, Birge’s graduate collection was shown in Vogue, Trendland, Slang Magazine, I Heart, and Not Just a Label. The collection ‘Symmetric Strategy’ showed clear references to architectural forms and geometricity, and their relationship with the female form in a Pughian fashion. There were also nods to the natural world – the final look, composed of tectonic membranes, was quite groundbreaking in it’s exceptional construction and conception.

Most important to Birge’s creative outlook has been his mixed education. Prior to the move to Edinburgh, the designer studied at TEKO Design College in Denmark. But interestingly, this was only a secondary degree following an MA in Chemistry for the University of Science and Technology Cracow in 2008. Such a comprehensive knowledge base imbues the designer’s work with intellectual facets that are so often lacking in most graduate collections.

Despite having interests that are far-reaching, encompassing science, maths, and music, fashion became Birge’s passion from an early age. In September 2012, he received funding to establish the fashion label Jacob Birge Vision. Plans for the brand include establishing it as a household name, as well as showing regular collections at London Fashion Week, the first of which will be shown this February for A/W 2013/14.

Musically speaking, Birge released his first album ‘Variations’ in November 2011. His sound is ethereal and arresting, a curious combination of natural harmony and discordance. He cites music as the overwhelming influence for all of his creative work, and includes Autechre, Venetian Snares, SND, and Aphex Twin as some of his favorite artists.

Jacob Birge is by far and away one of the most talented and hard working artists I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with. His focus on modernity and drive to discover will inevitably lead him to dizzying heights.

For the full body of work visit www.jacobbirge.eu.

bare pale

It’s amazing where a little bit of tech know how can get you, and for young London based band Bare Pale, it looks like infinity and beyond. About a year ago, Matthew (guitar and lead vocals) made tentative steps onto soundcloud. Following an early onslaught of praise and recognition from a slew of music bloggers, the band compounded into what it is today.

Matthew was joined by childhood friends Harry (drums) and Joe C (bass and vocals) to form a holy trinity. Their music comes together somewhat naturally, and has to fit in around already busy schedules. However, after a year of gigging and jamming, bare pale are finally set to release an EP towards the end of this year.

It’s difficult to put a finger on Bare Pale’s sound. Messy riffs and catchy beats bolster the delicate and melodious lyrics: the kind of music you hope is played at the end of the evening, and is often pulled into soundtracks for big-budget indie films. This melancholic slush is remarkably easy listening, filling the gap for weekend afternoon sounds. They quote Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., and Pavement as inspiration, but their novel out-of-this-world sound is unlike any other, likened by one blog to ‘the xx played through a marshmallow’.

This particular brand of ‘fuzz’ is currently based in Harry’s basement; bare pale are currently looking to broaden their horizons by stepping out of Londontown and going a little further afield, available for gigs in the UK. Their tracks are currently available for download here, and make sure to follow them via their facebook page.

Rioch Temporal

In the eternal quest to find the new sound, artists come and go, plagiarizing and pilfering from contemporary and historical modes in order to come up with something that is totally unique, with varying degrees of success. One musician that seems to have slipped quite stealthily onto this scene is GHR Leeming (under Rioch Temporal), whose progressive sound strikes a chord somewhere between metal and an acoustic singing sensation. We caught up to discuss all things artsy.

Tell us a little about your background.

I displayed an affinity for visual art and illustration from a very young age, but discovering musicians like Soundgarden, Tool and Cat Power in my teenage years became a catalyst for my desire to write and play music. After moving to Manchester at 18 I became involved with the underground music scene as a writer and promoter.

What creative spheres do you work in?

I’m a part-time music promoter, journalist and graphic designer, but I spend most of my time writing and playing music. I’m mainly a pianist, sampler and vocalist, though I’ll play any instrument I can get my hands on. I wrote both music and lyrics for my material, and am planning pen/pencil based artwork to go with it. When I have the time I create gig posters and band artwork using photography and digital techniques, but am increasingly integrating hand-drawn elements or entirely hand-drawn pieces.

Any hobbies you’d like to share?

I enjoy cooking, cycling, and swearing; and I can’t drive a car, but I can sure pull a damn good pint.

Inspiration?

The natural world: mankind’s history. Mythology, symbolism, and the occult. All colored by my own instincts, emotions, and experiences.

Have you had any training?

I have had classical training in the past, but for the last four years I have been very much self-taught. I constantly try to push the limits of what I’m doing vocally.

What are you working on at the moment?

My solo, piano-based project Rioch Temporal (compared to the likes of Austrian Soap&Skin). Planning a record, whilst working in a trio to prepare my songs for more band-based live performances. More collaborations are also in the works. The Rioch Temporal EP will be out at the end of this year, and I’m currently playing shows whilst getting my teeth into the writing.

Whilst many a young musician is crunching away at scores and tab, Leeming’s natural flair for composition is the piecemeal of great stuff to come. Leeming is currently based in Manchester, and available for gigs. Follow him on his journey up and away over on his blog, or alternatively, to get in contact email manager Rachel Emms at misanthropymusic@hotmail.com. For a free download of the track Helios (Wolves), head to soundcloud here.