Tag: interview

Fresh from his performance during HMV Next Big Thing and from his album launch party Who's Jack caught up with Mike Marlin about how he went from being a computer programmer to a singersong writer over 25 years, gaining Romeo Beckham as a fan, fighting personal deamons and how as a 40-something year old man Mike is finally making waves all of his own...

Hi Mike. Can you start by telling any of our readers who might not know much about you a little bit of history about how you got in to the music industry?

I was in a series of bands as a student, but back then I was playing bass guitar and standing very much in the shadows. We never made much progress in the 'industry' - though I absolutely loved it. Things then went a bit pear shaped for me and I took an extended leave of absence from music (and the world). I ended up working as a computer programmer for 25 years, though I always had a secret songwriting hobby. I would get friends (or anyone who was willing even if not so able) to sing them and I would record them on to four track cassette tapes. About two years ago, through a friend, I met my producer, James Durrant. I played him my songs and he rejected everything - until I played him some demos with me singing. He immediately latched on to my voice and told me that I had to sing my own songs. I then made the album, put a band together and now I am on the road playing my songs! I still can't quite believe it. I certainly don't see myself as being in the music industry - I'm just doing what I love doing.

What sort of thing can they expect from your music?

Honesty, experience and a sense of humour. At my age, these are my best (and some would say only) attributes.

It was your album launch party a few nights ago. What did you wear?

A dressing gown. You should always be ready for a good night's sleep!

How long did it take you to make the album?

All but two of the songs were written for the record, so including writing it took about 18 months from start to finish. I needed the time because I was feeling my way and finding my voice. It was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed it.

Is it about anything in particular? Does it follow a theme?

The recurring themes are age related: I look back on things lost and things learnt; on regret and on redemption - all with a strand of humour (I hope). I do not do teen love songs or rock posturing - you have to be 25 years younger than me to do that well!

You recently played a HMV Next Big Thing show alongside Josh Weller. How did it go?

On stage - it went very well! You can never tell how it went front of house, but the response was great. In some ways Josh is also a man out of his time - he is a showman and his songs are far cleverer than the average indie band offerings - he reminds me of Elvis Costello. So I think the combination made sense to the audience, in spite of the age gap!

Josh told us after the show in an interview that he loves your music. Do you have a message for him?

"Thanks, Josh. The £10 I promised you is in the post." No, seriously, my message to Josh is that his songs and his stage presence knock the socks of lots of current big big name artists. His name absolutely deserves to be up there in lights.

When is the next London gig you’ll be playing?

I am playing on March the 11th at the Hammersmith Apollo supporting the Stranglers! It's just a small, low pressure gig for me ......

What is your favourite thing about London?

Pizza Express!

What is your least favourite thing about London?

The underground in rush hour. Actually, now I think about it, the best thing about being a musician? No more commuting!

If you could write a one line review of yourself what would it be?

"I love his music, and my parents like it too!" - Romeo Beckham

... Thanks Mike!

King Koma is the nickname given to David Koma, London Fashion Week’s most hotly anticipated designer.

Who’s Jack writer Tania Willis was fortunate enough to grab an exclusive peak into his upcoming LFW show through the eyes of his First Assistant, Aisha Kascioglu...

If you have not yet heard of the 25-year-old Georgian born designer, then you will most definitely recognise his genius eye for structure and embellishment, which has not only paid dues to his celebrity following, (Cheryl Cole, Beyonce and Kylie Minougue are huge fans) as much as leaders of the fashion world.

Not many designers are fortunate enough to finish their Central St Martins MA and within a year explode into stratospheric demand; (for starters his graduate collection won him the Harrods Design Award) swiftly evolving from student designer to superstar designer, being pressed by the likes of Rhianna for pieces fresh of the runway to having just recently released a capsule collection with high street mogul Topshop, there is no doubt David doesn’t deserve the nickname King Koma.

Like all precise trend forecasters AUCB Costume Design alumni Aisha Kascioglu was smart enough to notice Koma’s design’s when he was still deep under Alexandra Shulman’s radar; “I was doing my usual stalk of Central St Martins students and came across David Koma. His work appealed to me with the strong silhouettes and materials he uses, he really creates a very powerful and sexy image. I emailed asking if I could show him my work, and if he would need any interns soon. My timing was lucky, as I messaged him when he was just starting out and was his first intern!" Very lucky indeed, Aisha continues, “David is great to work for, as his first assistant I was even trusted to try on one of his dresses! Alicia Keys wore the exact same design to perform on Britains Got Talent”.

So what is it really like working for one of the UK’s highly anticipated designing talents, a bit like embodying a multi-tasking, tea making, pin cushion? Or as titillating as being invited to raid Alexa Chung’s wardrobe and be her plus one to a super exclusive bash in one of Karl Lagerfeld’s hand chiseled icebergs?

Aisha begs to differ: “It really is such a privilege to work for such a huge up and coming designer like David, every day varies which makes the job very exciting. Sometimes I will be working on finishing his collection for runway, or writing the press release for his upcoming collection before fashion week.” However working for fashion’s new ‘it boy’ or granting a request from her wacky highness Lady GaGa for your painstakingly hand stitched affections does not guarantee that you will be cosied up on your sofa in time for Hollyoaks. “It’s never a 9-5 however; sometimes I’m working through the night! But seeing the audience’s reaction to the designs I’ve helped work on when they come out on the runway makes it all worth it,' says Aisha.

Can she reveal any exclusive secrets about his upcoming collection at LFW, a collection which is working up quite an anticipatory sweat amongst fashion editors? After some reluctant mumblings Aisha discloses, “everyone is working very hard for this season, I am not allowed to give too much away, you will have to wait till the 21st of February. All the best designers must keep their secrets!” But does indeed confirm the A/W 11 collection will be influenced by forests touched by a Tim Burton level of darkness. A complete antithesis to his last S/S 11 collection inspired by the metamorphosis in Swan Lake, imitating a very structured tough ballet silhouette, which used monochromic patterns and inserts of python leather dipped in striking metallic embellishment.

Behind every incredible designer there is without question an equally commendable assistant, after all who was appointed creative director after Alexander McQueen’s untimely death? None other than his first assistant Sarah Burton, who closed her debut collection with a deafening round of applause. Miss Kascioglu does eventuallt see herself following in such famous first assistant’s footsteps, but not just yet. “I do have ambitions to move into designing at some stage, but at the moment I'm happy to help David with each season. I’m learning so much on the job, this will be my third season with David Koma so we will have to keep our fingers crossed and see where it takes me!”

Follow Aisha on twitter at www.twitter.com/AishaKascioglu

Fans of The Strokes who have been waiting for their next album to be released can breathe a sigh of relief as the band say that it will out by March. The long awaited fourth album will be released just before the band head off on a world tour. The band's bassist, Nikolai Fraiture, told BBC Radio 1 that the new album had a 'classic sound' but that a lead single from it had yet to be chosen. The album will be the band's first album since their last release in 2006, First Impressions of Earth.