Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Meets Gemma Cairney

 

If you don’t already know about this chick, you must be living under a rock. She is the presenter and official style expert of the channel 4 show Frock Me, radio presenter for BBC 1xtra and stylist to the stars. Yup, you could almost call her superwoman.  I spoke to the gal herself about her latest ventures.

You are a lady of many talents. You have been a TV presenter, stylist and a radio presenter. But what was your main ambition as a youngster?

I went to the BRIT school, as I wanted to be an actor. I did a lot of theatre there which was great fun. But I soon realised that I couldn’t really play any other character but myself! Shortly after my drama experience, I moved to London, where I found myself highly inspired by fashion. It inspired me to get involved. I gained a lot of valuable experiences, meeting loads of wonderful people. But even at that stage I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I thought, ‘how can I combine all my experiences to create my dream career?’ I decided to do a short course in Radio, where I found my niche. After my course I got myself out there on a mission, and radio became my 9 to 5. With radio jobs coming in, the TV followed. That led to my show on channel 4, Frock Me.

What do you prefer, fashion or radio/TV?

I am in love with fashion. It is a great way of expressing yourself; I think it tells a great story. It influences me immensely. But I find that my passion for people over rides that. If you listen to the BBC 1Xtra breakfast show, you will know that I absolutely love to talk! So whilst I adore wearing silly clothes to make a statement, I love interacting with others more, so people win hands down for me. I feel so lucky to be on the radio, doing what I love the most.

How did you get your name out there?

First, I have to say, I feel really lucky for everything I am doing. I honestly never believed I would be in this position. The best advice I have is to always keep an open mind. Do not limit yourself to one genre, one idea, or one goal. There is so much going on in the TV Industry, radio and media in general. There are so many wonderful people involved in all sorts of projects and collectives. So I find if you have an open mind to try new things, it helps you develop your craft and you meet new and fabulous people. The experience also helps you decide where exactly you think your destiny lies. And do not forget about networking! Hand out as many business cards as you can and build up those contacts.

What else have you been up to on the TV front?

I have been everywhere! I have produced some plays; I have set up my own shoots… I remember on one shoot, I had to lug suitcases around Richmond Park, it was crazy! But all those efforts when I had no one else to help me paid off tremendously. I find the way to get into TV is to brave but not pushy. There is a fine line between the two, but you have to get the balance right. Also, you have to have a sense of humour, as life can be ridiculous! Be open minded but never, ever, lose your own values.

So January 2011 is a big look for you, as you are starting your new radio show, leaving Trevor. How does that feel?

It feels majorly exciting! I will have my own slot from 1pm – 4pm every weekday. As I’ve been doing the breakfast show with Trevor, I haven’t had a lie in in years! I have loads and loads of ideas for the show. I’m a random person, so I have loads of random ideas, but we’ll see what ideas will materialise. But I will definitely be changing the afternoon slot up. It will be new, exciting and filled with lots of chatter by me! Not forgetting the amazing music exclusives either, of course…

What is it like working with Trevor Nelson every morning?

He has become a life-long friend to me. He has 15 years in the game, so I learnt from the best, truly. We may bicker in the morning, we may disagree, but ultimately he is like family to me now. I have untold respect for him. It will be very sad not to have him by my side on the radio. He gave me the best introduction to radio that I could have ever hoped for. He is a strict mentor, but a great one. I mean, working at the BBC is rewarding in itself, I have seen so many amazing things. I absolutely love 1xtra, and I do not see myself leaving any time soon.

What is next for you?

I hope to be climbing mountains… I mean that literally! I will be setting up something physically intense next year. I hope to do some presenting at Glastonbury next year. Festivals are a great love of mine. I have been in talks with some TV heads about some shows that I want to do in the near future, I want to do something unique, and not something that has been done and redone, like so many other shows on television. So you’ll have to wait and see…

Check out Gemma’s show on BBC 1xtra from 1pm – 4pm every weekday.

You can read the full Jan/Feb issue of NXG Magazine here.

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Meets Wretch 32

 

Wretch 32 has had a crazy year: He was nominated for MTVs ‘Brand New 2011’, and BBC’s Sound of 2011 before releasing his breakthrough single Traktor. The rest is history in the making. The NXG crew and I sat down with the Retro Boy to find out what he will be doing next…

With your new singles, you are in a good place right now. How do you feel about it?

I am feeling really good. I don’t want to plan for too much. I would rather put my stuff out, see how it goes and if it goes well, it means it was meant to go well, you know.Traktor set us up nice for a good year and I think Unorthodox is doing similar things. For me it’s just like fingers crossed, you know. What will be, will be. You are only going to do all you can do, nothing more than that, nothing less.

Urban music is in a great place right now in the UK. How do you feel about people such as Dizzee and Wiley who paved the way?

I think every generation of artist are as important as the last. You know, I think So Solid are as important as Wiley, who are as important as Chipmunk and Tinchy, who are important as Tinie and Plan B… you know what I mean? Without the ones before, there almost is no one after.

We are all learning as we go along, it is a learning curve for every generation of artist. When someone is up before you, you can watch their mistakes and see where they went wrong. I think that is what each new generation should do. Dizzee is a total legend, Wiley has opened a lot of doors… it is just time that people get their heads down and work. The other day, when I found out Tinie Tempah was doing the o2, I nearly fell off my chair! That is MASSIVE! I phoned his manager and said: “I just want to congratulate you on everything that was done previously, and whatever is about to happen.” It is phenomenal; the o2 is a big move. It is definitely a good time right now in UK music.

You came out several years ago and a lot has happened since then. What have been the stepping stones that paved your way to mainstream success?

I think everything has played a massive part. I think being in the crew I started in (The Movement) was a big part of it. We were like brothers, its not that we broke up, we just don’t do music together. They taught me so much. Being in The Movement helped to keep me on my toes so much, it sharpened my skills.

I think you got to learn something from everything, even your mistakes. It is hard to put a pin on specific thing, because it was everything in one, as a whole. Every time I messed up a lyric on radio, I learnt from it, times when I recorded material and heard it back and it was wrong… I learnt from everything.

How do you find performing live?

I try to come out on stage at the last possible moment. My song intro will be playing and I try to wait until the last possible second. I like that suspense. I try and take you through a whole load of emotions. If you catch me in a club, expect to hear a club set. If you catch me at a jazz café, expect to be touched.

Of course we would still do Traktor as well, but I have a completely different set to what I do at a festival, as I cater to wherever I am performing. But I am still giving them me as I will only do stuff that I like or wrote, you know? At a festival, expect it to be hyped! I might give you a little emotion so you know to expect when you come to one of my shows.

What did you hope to achieve with Unorthadox?

We were in a predicament after Traktor. It was like, what do you do now? Do you show your emotional side, or do you do Traktor again? We wanted to do something different that would capture a different audience…

 

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Meets Manjinder Virk

I was extremely excited when it came to talking with Manjinder Virk.  An award winning actress, director and screen writer, she is a treasured talent in the UK film industry, named as a “star of tomorrow” by Screen International. She discusses her influences, her love for acting and what she is going to be up to this year.

Hey, Manjinder. So, let’s start from the beginning. When you were growing up, what did you initially want to do for a career?

It was either to be an actress or an artist; I knew it would always be something creative.

Yes, you are not only an actress, but you are also a screenwriter. What do you prefer?

Both demand different things from you but are equally rewarding, it depends on the project and who you’re working with. I have worked with some amazing people and they make the projects interesting, challenging and fun. Writing is a much longer process. I think acting is more social, you work with other actors, directors, a crew, whereas writing can be a solitary process – but music is usually my companion then.

You played a suicide bomber in the two part drama, Britz. How did you find the public’s reaction?

It caused a lot of debate. I found people wanted to talk about the issues Britz raised. To me, it was a positive experience because it allowed a platform for much needed discussion on a sensitive subject matter.

Where do you get the inspirations for your writing?

In so many things! It can stem from personal experiences or from reading a news story or watching someone on the street. I am hugely inspired by watching films too. I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction again recently and they are both still as brilliant as the first time I saw them.

How did it feel being nominated for Best Actress and Most Talented Newcomer at the 2010 British Independent Film Awards?

I was really proud to be up against actresses like Carey Mulligan and Sally Hawkins, actresses who I genuinely admire. Awards are great for celebrating the work you do but for me, the real sense of achievement always comes from doing the work.

How do you choose the roles that you do?

I try and choose roles that involve working on interesting stories, subject matters. It can be the story, although it’s often the character, but then it can be just because you want to work with the director/company or on that play.

What genre of acting do you prefer and why?

I love working on screen, but I started out in theatre and I would say theatre is where I really learnt to act.

Being an Asian woman in such a competitive industry, do you have any coping strategies?

I try not to label myself as ‘an Asian woman’ as it can be very limiting to yourself and others. Stories and life experience is universal, regardless of people’s background. I think that’s my coping strategy. I am aware of being pigeon holed so I try to surprise myself and others by setting challenges that exceed mine and others expectations. That doesn’t mean it always happens, but I try!

 

Categories
Music Work

Review: Wireless Festival 2011

On the tube down to Hyde Park Corner, the excitement mounted as I thought of the acts I was yet to see. This year was different. For once, there was a strong presence of British artists and not just ones who were ‘fillers’ for the ‘real acts’ i.e – the American artists. British music has had an amazing time over the past few years, which has led to our own sound being spread and eventually accepted across the globe. Although the festivals first headliner was The Black Eyed Peas, I was more pumped to see Example and Plan B.

Fellow NXG team member Emma Knock and I arrived fashionably late, only picking up pace after my sister called me screeching “The queues here are ABSURD, Maz! Hurry.”

Arriving in somewhat of a fluster, the queue had completely vanished, so we walked straight in. Phew. It was my first time at Wireless and I was surprised to see how relaxed it was. Its location told me to expect pure mayhem, constant barging and other typically London mannerisms.

I was massively disappointed to see that we although we had dodged the queues, we had arrived towards the end of Example’s set. I managed to glimpse a regrettably small portion of his performance of Changed the Way You Kissed Me, which was electric. We also managed to have a little groove to Far East Movement’s performance of Like a G6, which was undoubtedly one of the best high energy performances of the Friday. Although I previously doubted their longevity as artists, I could not doubt their stage presence. We then went to explore the park, which was filled with food stalls and bars of extortionate prices. I instantly regretted not smuggling a bottle in my bag as I reluctantly purchased a plastic glass half filled with rosé for £4.

Emma and I then tottered along to the main stage to check out Tinie Tempah’s highly anticipated performance. This was our second time seeing the Plumstead born rapper, after initially seeing him at the Hammersmith Apollo earlier this year. I had expected that the Pass Out star would have perfected his performances with the amount of practise he’s been having. I was disappointed to say this was not the case.  I was taken aback when Tinie freestyled over several current pop chart instrumentals and the DJ set was exactly the same as when he has performed at the Apollo, several months ago. Was he playing it safe or was he simply lazy?  Who knows, but it did not impress me. The rest of the set lacked charisma and confidence, but was overall acceptable. First time Tinie Tempah attenders would have been more than satisfied with the set; perhaps I expected too much.

Dressed all in black, I was boiling. Emma had a spare white t-shirt, so after a change of clothes right in the middle of the park (“Rock n Roll behaviour – thus totally acceptable at a festival” Emma promised) we went to find some munch before the next set, David Guetta. We grabbed a tiny portion of chips for £3 to share and sat down on the eroded grass for supper. David’s set began earlier than I realised, so we hastily finished our humble meal and tried to get a good spot in the ‘rave tent’ which was dazzling with lights, confetti, occasional fireworks and unbearable body heat. We were unlucky in this pursuit (which suited me, I was hot and my new pink shoes had been trampled on enough) so we watched from a distance. With his large audience, I was surprised that he was not on the main stage, but the rave tent was perfectly suited for him; it was almost made for his vibe of music. Mass amounts of bodies grinded, swayed and jumped about to When Love Takes Over, Sexy Chick, I Gotta Feeling and many of his other dance floor fillers.

Restless, we moved along to witness the remainder of Plan B’s set on the main stage. Dressed in his signature black suit and tie, he looked, sounded and acted the part. His song choices had a slight alternative music/rock edge, which prompted me to question which genre his future album will reflect. Although I prefer Plan B’s urban sounds, it was clear that he knows what he can get away with in terms of diverse music and he also knows what he is comfortable with and it works for him. Witnessing his set was to see a true artist perform, one with as many layers as an onion.

Next up was the headliners, what most people were here to see. The Black Eyed Peas.

For the rest of my review, please go to the NXG website where the original article can be found: http://bit.ly/obZ1Ux

Categories
Interviews Music Work

Maz Meets Talib Kweli

Talib has been standing strong in the hip hop scene since 1998, when he and fellow rap genius Mos Def released the classic album Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Since then, the Hip Hop general has released four albums, worked with the legend Mary J Blige and with Hip Hop’s favourite rapper, Kanye West. I chat to Talib to find out what he has planned for us next.

Hey Talib. What have you been up to recently?

My focus at the moment has been all about Gutter Rainbows. I am about to work on the album Prisoner of Conscious for Blacksmith. I am excited about the group Strong Arm Steady’s new album, Arms and Hammers. have also been working on Jean Grae’s Cake or Death LP and some more Idle Warship material with Res.

You have a loyal but exclusive UK fan base. Do you plan to try and break the mainstream UK market?

I do concerts in the UK at least twice a year. I sold out at two concerts last year; I did Roundhouse in Camden in October. I am not sure when the next one is, but I will keep you guys in the loop for sure!

You have worked with major artists, such as Kanye West. How was that experience?

I happened to meet Kanye when he came to my recording sessions looking for Mos Def. Back then, he was just a producer making beats for everyone. Nobody knew he had it in him to rap. It was great to work with him, we had and we still do have a lot of mutual respect for one another.

You also worked with Mary J Blige. How was that?

Mary was one of the most gracious, professional artist’s I have ever worked with. I would love to work with her again.

You quite a socially conscious rapper. What influenced you to take that alternative path?

The music I make is not alternative hip hop, it is REAL hip hop. All that other stuff they play on the radio is the alternative…

 What advice would you give to up and coming rappers?

Ignore the industry and create your own legend.

 

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Miscellaneous

Hey, you. Welcome.

 

After setting up a blog on another well known site and eventually neglecting it beyond all hope, I was encouraged to open a WordPress account. A humble creature, I am not afraid to say that as soon as I logged in, I was totally baffled. Writing I enjoy; technology I do not.

I won’t bore you with details of myself. I am a writer. I have written for newspapers and mags, but live for twisted creative writing. At the moment – in the year 2011 – I am currently freelancing/contributing around London for all sorts of things, mainly MTV Wrap Up, Flavour Magazine and Pardon My Blog. My job has allowed me to interview some pretty cool people, but I won’t start name dropping, you can read ’em for yourself in my ‘Maz Meets…’ section.

I am a typical Cancerian in every sense. I fall in love too easily; however as an emotionally free spirit I can fall out of it pretty easily too. I love cats, Cadbury’s chocolate, UK hip-hop and poetry.

PS: At the time of writing this, I am the Deputy Managing Editor for NXG Magazine, an urban youth publication. Check out the new issue online:

http://www.issuu.com/nxgzine/docs/movie_issue_july-august2011