Royal Holloway’s very own Elliot Gleave revisited our campus this October to talk music, careers, inspiration, advice and of course, a cheeky Nandos.
O: How does it feel to be back?
E: It’s nice, I’ve only been back four times in 12 years, I came back once to show my wife the grounds, she’d seen pictures of the building. It is an amazing campus. I came back a few years after I graduated to see the new buildings… I went to live in Australia after I left. It was amazing to see, and back again today with the Media students and Music students and it’s so nice to be able to talk to both of them and offer advice to both of them, as I’ve worked in both industries.
O: How do you cope with relinquishing control over your music videos?
E: When I first started I was just put with people, but along the way you meet some amazing collaborators, you see their work or hear from other artists how good they are- and you get lucky enough to work with them. I’ve made 40 music videos over the years and several of them have been done by the same guy, Adam Powel who I’m really good mates with and we collaborate, and it works for us.
O: You worked with Jacob Plant recently, how was that? How do you manage collaborations in general?
E: To be honest, I’ve worked with Jacob and I have another grime song coming out with P. Money and Big Narstie. I’m signed to Sony Epic Major Label, with them it’s my singles, Example based, and then when you do collaborations it tends to be other labels and independents, it’s a different route, you have way more creative freedom when you go independent with the video and the sort of song it is. Because it’s being run by 3 or 4 people rather than major label size, 20-25 people chipping in.
I tend to work with people I’m fans of. I’ve never really gone out there and been like ‘I want to work with this person and this person!’ I’ve randomly bumped into people… Became friends with Calvin [Harris], did a song with him. Met Graham Coxon, said do you want to play guitar on my fourth album, did that. Met the Pet Shop Boys, said do you want to be on my album. So, I’ve constantly just done bits and bobs, I suppose I’m just one of those people. I’m an opportunist.
O: Speaking of that, you have a film coming out Friday 23rd October on iTunes?
E: Yeah. ‘Between Two Worlds,’ I’m plugging music and films now.
O: How are you feeling about the release? Any nerves?
E: I was nervous when I hadn’t seen the film, because when you’re on set you only get to see the scenes you’re in. It’s a small budget film, and the problem with that is they can often end up having bad editing, bad sound, bad camera work, which can ruin the chances of it being a good movie, even though it’s a really good script. For me, it was great. It was really an eye-opening experience. I wasn’t very good at acting, I was scared about it. I did theatre acting as a kid, but film acting is a totally different stage– and different to performing in music video. In a music video I am Example, I know how to be Example.
O: You play John ‘the Money Man’ in Between Two Worlds?
E: Yeah, I play an East London Banker… which isn’t rhyming slang for anything!
O: Did you enjoy the role?
E: Yeah it was loads of fun, and I’ve shot two films since then.
O: And one of those it If A Bus Could Run You Over, which is out in 2016?
E: Yeah I’ve just finished filming that in Ibiza, it’s a dark comic thriller. Billy [William] Zane’s in it. I get to kill him, which is great.
O: Always good! What’s the other film?
E: The other film is a short film which is being shown via Instagram. It’s going to be 25, 15 second episodes. The first film of its kind. I signed up to that because it’s got some amazing actors and an amazing director, and obviously a very unique experience.
O: What’s it like going from behind the scenes doing soundtracks, for the likes of Ice Age, to the big screen itself?
E: That song I wrote for The Wanted, Chasing the Sun, was an amazing experience because you never expect to be a big budget Hollywood kid’s animation.
O: And everyone loves Ice Age…
E: Ice Age is good fun. Writing songs for other people, I have to wear a different hat when I’m in the studio, but it’s a great experience. I get to write songs I’d never be able to make myself.
O: What was the inspiration for your recent Whisky Story video?
E: I was looking back at all the 90’s, sort of Fat Boy Slim, Chemical Brothers, really off-kilta, exciting conceptual videos. I wanted to do something that looked like nothing else on TV. I didn’t want to set in a club, or on a beach… something different.
O: Did you have to persuade the TFL?
E: Well, no. TFL let us film but you have to pay per hour, which is quite expensive. I won’t say how much it is, but it was an exciting experience.
O: Does it ever seem surreal to have pals like Ed Sheeran, Adele, Calvin Harris and Wretch 32?
E: Well I don’t speak to them every day and I don’t see them a lot because everyone’s busy, but they’re all inspiring in different ways. Some people because of their success, some people because of their advice, some people just have a fun presence.
O: What are your memories of Royal Holloway’s Orbital?
E: Well, I used to read it, but it wasn’t as big as it is now. Especially with your online presence now.
OFinally, will you be sticking around for our Nando’s SU Takeover?
E: I’ll be doing a gig, but Nandos are coming? You mean a bloke in a chicken suit? I might come back for that, you should’ve said!
By Holly Pyne and Imogen Trinder