Interview with Musician: Dmitry Nechaev

Interview with Musician: Dmitry Nechaev

Dmitry Nechaev is a musician based in Moscow, Russia who started his career working as a professional model since he was 11 years old. It all started by participating in photos sessions for the world’s leading fashion magazines, being featured in TV adverts and mastering the runway. In a short period of time, Dmitry gained the status of an international model in Russia and Europe.

Today it’s such a pleasure for me to introduce this 24-year old musician who conquered a vast audience worldwide with his deep, sensual voice and  nourishing lyrics that touch our soul. He inspires you in so many ways, setting you free to a different, new, fresh world, where we are connected by what moves us: the desire to simply live and to be happy, evoking many more feelings which were sleeping deep inside for a long time, making us feel alive again. It is a sharing of how he feels — simply beautiful. For those who have spent a lifetime in a surreal world, and have lost touch with what matters, he brings the chance to dream again because there is so much illumination in his lyrics in contrast to the things that we often forgotten, and that realization brings tears to our eyes.

So enjoy this exclusive interview and please visit his official web sites:

 

Anonymous – Dmitry Nechaev

RH: Tell us about your transition from an international fashion model to today’s singing & songwriting?

DN: My modeling career started years back when I was 11. I’ve mastered the runway and acquired a great deal of acting knowledge, got publishing deals in fashion magazines and advertisements both in Russia and Europe. It sure has given me some real balls and actual experience of public performance ever since my childhood. But I’ve always had that passion for music. Yet I’ve never dreamed to become a musician, but music turned out to be the only art I find complete self-realization in. And in no time it became the primary language to express everything that I find trapped within me, although I take an interest in many kinds of arts.

RH: Were you around music growing up in Russia? Tell me about the music scene back there at that time?

DN: I’ve always been going along with music. Ever since my childhood I was totally surrounded by it. Bands like Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, A-ha along with all the other tunes of 80s really took a great part in my upbringing. Moreover, I think the fact that I was raised listening mostly to foreign music determines my style at the moment. I’m not really sure where is it coming from but I can’t sing in Russian, literally, and even if I try to I do it with a terrible accent.

RH: Then you mentioned in other interviews that you were influenced by Japanese musician Akira Yamaoka. How did you first discover his music since you were only 15 years old at the time. Was it Akira whose music first inspired you?

DN: Akira Yamaoka for me was someone I would really want to become for other people out there. Not only had he inspired me to take steps towards making music, what is most important he was the one to open up my consciousness allowing me to believe that I can actually create stuff on my own. Also he has an incredible talent to express feelings and emotions in his tunes. He managed to invent his own language in music. And that in itself is extremely remarkable.

RH: Your new was released worldwide in September: what was the inspiration and creative process behind it?

DN: That was quite a journey I have to admit. It was the first time ever I dealt with a German record company to actually produce the single. I’ve also got acquainted with European music market as we previously launched the single in Europe. It hit central radio stations such as BBC Radio 1, WDR2, Radio NRW, Antenne1 etc. That was a really significant experience I gained.

RH: How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music? Are there any messages that you are sharing with the public in your lyrics?

DN: Some say that a mission of a true poet is to give a voice to the social background he is surrounded by. I pretty much feel to sort of collect and reveal social concerns and outbreaks within my lyrics. It’s not something I’m aiming to, mostly it is something that comes out by itself. Commonly speaking I never make up rhymes, they usually come as a consequence.

RH: Which is your favorite song on the single as well as the new debut album Ignis Fatuus and why?

DN: Secret Love is definitely the one. In fact this song is the climax, the turning point of the whole album. It is me standing up against society’s cultural aversion, outbreaks of its gross diseases such as racism and xenophobia. It has been composed under a great pressure of thoughts kicking up in my spirit. The whole diversity of ideas exposed in lyrics is verbalized in the sound allowing one to read between the lines and get to the essential point.

Dmitry Nechaev – press release photo

RH: How would you classify your music?

DN: Expressive, psychologically overfilling… a mixture of electronic and live sound bound together with a strong melody and provocative philosophy expanded in lyrics and style, I guess. It is meant to make people think… I do really believe that commercial-based music industry constructs haven’t yet come up with a classification versatile enough to put that in, or have they? With this classification be marketable enough for the mid-class majority of consumers. We bet this is a bit too complicated – they’ll probably answer.

RH: What has been the hardest part in getting your music out there?

DN: The hardest part was gaining belief that I create something that could be understood and appreciated by the masses. I always thought myself to be unique in my own way, to create tunes that are hard to compare to mainstream or whatsoever. It took me quite some time to perceive my art as something I really want to contribute to the music culture of the future.

RH: Do you think that helps media outlets, such My Space, YouTube and Facebook are good ways to get the word out about your music?

DN: Definitely social networking makes sense, to some extent at least. Absolutely perfect for making first steps towards publicity. Besides that’s the perfect means to keep in touch with your fans and followers. But I thought they were essentially meant to raise public interest towards indie culture as to the only industry concept in which real art can exist. As all these major acts seem to become more and more contrived.

RH: How important to you are the visuals that correspond with your music — and do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a performance?

DN: Visual image is actually one of the most significant aspects that goes in tandem with my music. I really strive to deliver a complex idea within my art and give people a chance to perceive its diversity by all means possible. That was the main reason I founded the art project “Equinox” the main purpose of which is to depict the idea emerged in tunes by means of shapes, colours and stuff. Even the way I look mostly reflects the atmosphere trapped within the music.

RH: How often do you create a new song?

DN: Who knows, really. I get various ideas time after time, always try to sketch them down. But for me writing stuff is sort of falling in a trance I find myself involved with, when the whole universe collapses in a malevolent darkness of one’s endeavors, the moment in time in which you’re unaware of your existence and surrounding. You never know how long it may last. The only thing that matters is to capture the idea you carry in sounds and tunes distinct enough for other people to perceive.

RH: Where would you most like to perform? And who would you most like to open for?

DN: On planet Mars, really! My project manager Max and I recently signed for a NASA space campaign to become citizens of Mars. So performing there would be the best thing we could contribute to the cultural desert of the universe. A splendid metaphor for the crucial reality, ain’t it?

RH: If you could choose another genre of music, what would it be? And which genre of music do you most/least listen to?

DN: Due to the music I pick to listen to – Mine mostly… seriously… Someone said that one creates something he lacks in the whole wide world. Well, that’s obviously true for me. As to other artists, I’ve never really dig into music classification to set my preferences in the style or genre. I listen to the tunes that kick up in my spirit, evoke emotions and fit my mood. Even though I do stick to some of my favourite bands I still prefer my music menu completely versatile.

RH: Do you play any instruments?

DN: I play guitar, mostly acoustic, piano and harmonica. Pity the latter doesn’t fit in my music at all. I do really want to learn to play shamisen someday!

Dmitry Nechaev on stage

RH: What was the first concert you ever went to? An how do you felt after?

DN: I’ve been to many when a child, but that was unconsciousness so to speak. But the first gig to get captured in my memory was my favourite Duran Duran’s one. I was 12 at that time, and was completely fascinated and overdriven by the emotions and feelings I experienced. I’ve also had an opportunity to get acquainted with the guys in person and even talk to them a bit.

RH: What do you think of Lady Gaga?

DN: I don’t think of Lady Gaga much more than of an extremely successful commercial project: an unbelievably splendid collaboration of various artists, designers, image-makers, producers, songwriters etc. I happen to believe she might be the apotheosis of what major labels can bring into the cultural disorder of the present. I wish there was a matching personality behind the glossy cover, same bright and unique as the visual.

RH: Who do you think are the three most influential persons in the music industry today and why?

DN: Sony Music, Universal and Capitol. Pardon my sarcasm, but these guys really seem to create the immediate music culture and are believed to know what ordinary consumers’ taste might determine in the nearest future.

RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?

DN: To stay true to what I am and to what I believe in. They’ve been and they are my greatest support ever. They are the ones who created my personality. If not for them I might just look into the world through the eyes of an ordinary man resting his future upon the obsolete stereotypes socially acknowledged as ultimate truth.

RH: Do you have any shows coming up?

DN: Indeed I do. We are currently working on a live Unstaged performance held in November in Moscow, Russia. Where we will not only play released material but also will include some previously unheard tracks from the upcoming second studio album. There will also be a couple of local performances on TV and radio to support that show.

RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to say?

DN: Most of the thoughts and ideas are trapped within my music and lyrics. Have a listen. Tsss… Can you feel it? That is me whispering in your ear.

This is my gift to you Dmitry HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Interview with Britain’s First It Boy – Emmanuel Ray

Interview with Britain’s First It Boy – Emmanuel Ray

It is my privilege to share with you this exclusive interview with London based socialite and fashionisto Emmanuel Ray aka “Britain’s First It Boy” as named by BBC, and winner of Fashion Icon of the Year Award at Fashions Finest Awards 2011, UK. It gives me extraordinary pleasure to interview this talented, amazing person and humanitarian man. For those of you who don’t know him yet here in the USA, soon he will be popular here as he has been approached by a few publications and agencies in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. He is spectacular, stylish, fun to be around, smart, generous, well mannered, an extraordinary writer and is the author of a fabulous new column titled Diary of an It Boy,  rapidly growing in popularity. So I am delighted when he graciously gave me this exclusive interview. Now you’ll know why the audience have fallen in love with Emmanuel Ray and his work which is being called London’s answer to Sex & The City.

Register on http://www.emmanuelray.com and be one of the first to view Emmanuel Ray’s official website when it goes live!

Fashion commentator and presenter Emmanuel Ray represented Britain in the Los Angeles-based celebrity-led International NOH8 campaign when it was shot in London’s Soho Hotel. Launched by Hollywood photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley, the NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest in direct response to the passage of California’s controversial Proposition 8, which eliminates rights of same-sex couples to marry. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislations around the world, with “NOH8” painted on one cheek in protest.

RH: You had a difficult past growing up and a troubled childhood. What are some early experiences in your life that have shaped who you are today? 

ER: My parents always encouraged my ability to dream big. We were very poor but they saved up and sent me to St Thomas’ Prep School in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was a school attended by rich kids and they never accepted me as one of them. I remember being angry and bitter all throughout my school years. I later won 2 scholarships to continue my education and was determined to break out of poverty. Generational poverty has always been a big problem in Sri Lanka and I remember being very jealous of the other boys in school as they had everything I did not have; the cool trainers, video games, generous pocket money and so on.

My parents had been entertainers in their youth. Mummy was a dancer and Daddy was a singer but they gave up their dreams as the economic situation in the island wasn’t very good and the long civil war meant everyone was living in uncertainty and fear. Life in general was uncertain and my parents encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming an entertainer and also enjoy life at the same time, treasuring every moment as if it were the last. I think they both saw themselves in me and tried to live out their dreams through me, but in a good way as I always wanted to be a performer and entertainer. Now as a fashion commentator, I break the rules and add comedy, sex jokes and fun into my work which the audience loves. Fashion commentating can be seen as a boring job by many, but I am proud to say that when I speak, announce or present, everyone is all ears!

My earliest memory in school was my first day in school and a drawing class. We were asked to draw the first thing that came to our mind, and while all the other boys painted their houses, family, cars and so on, I painted a flamboyant peacock perched on top of a tree. My teacher told me I had a very creative mind and gave me a bag of sweets. I instantly developed an attitude and yelled at my father for turning up late to pick me up from school.

Despite being poor, my parents were always well dressed and well groomed. I learned “beauty & style on a budget” from them. Daddy taught me how to polish shoes and iron shirts and would always dress me up in little waist coats and berets and click pictures of me. Mummy encouraged my interest in dance and Daddy never stopped photographing me. I would watch TV when I went to relatives’ houses and dream of becoming a fashion icon and wearing designer suits and hosting soirées. I think most experiences I had as a child played a part in the development of my character and personality.

I always wanted to explore, experiment and create. I would stand on the beach at sunset and imagine what lay beyond the ocean. Sri Lanka is a beautiful island and everything about nature… from the fireflies dancing in the garden to the monsoon rain, the sea, sun and sand, from the lush green tea estates in the hill countryside to the elephants that roamed Kandy, the citadel in the hills – everything I saw, inspired me.

RH: What are the most important lessons that you’ve learned a long way, from the boy that sold snacks on the beach, to the brilliant modeling career —after failing hard, rising again to success?

ER: I’ve learned never to give up and that winners never quit. I have failed numerous times but always had a glimmer of hope in my heart and a strong voice in my head (probably that of my Dad’s!) that told me I will succeed. I also learned that we should never push away the ones that love us and cherish every moment in life. I have stared death in the face numerous times, thrown away every second chance I have had, and have made more mistakes than I can count. I learned that I can learn from those who are more experienced, mature and informed than oneself. I also learned that life is what you make and create. Some people may believe in destiny and fate. I do too, but only to a certain extent. Ultimately, it is ME who is in charge of my life and I must take responsibility for all the mistakes I have made. And I have made too many. It has been a learning curb, to be honest. I may not have degrees and qualifications on paper, but I had the best teacher in life; Experience.

RH: How do you feel about being called the male version of Carrie Bradshaw and having your column, Diary of an It Boy often compared to Sex & The City?

ER: I feel very happy about it, if I were to be honest. In a way, it’s hilarious to be called that. But many women can relate to Carrie Bradshaw, and many men can relate to my life, column and story. There aren’t many men writing columns similar to Diary of an It Boy and my audience constantly gives me great feedback, saying how funny and interesting the column is. Very often, at parties and social gatherings, I have people come up to me and say something along the lines of “Oh My God! I have experienced the same thing” or “I know exactly what you are going through” and so on. A lot of people give me good feedback, while some openly condemn certain things I talk about. One thing I love about my readers and audience in general is the fact that they are never afraid or reluctant to speak their mind to my face. If they don’t like something I have written or spoken about in my press interviews, they tell me. They also tell me what they think I should write about. They are always honest with me and I owe my success to them. An entertainer or artist cannot survive without the support of their audience. They are the ones that possess the power to make or break your career. So I always listen to what they have to say and spend time with them. If I am at an event, I make sure I speak to each and every one of them. This way, I always linger on their memory and the fact that I have no airs or graces, helps a lot.

Emmanuel Ray and model Philippe Ashfield wearing Antony Morato/Milan Fashions UK. Fashions Finest Awards 2011, UK. Photo by See Li.

RH: And how is your column different from the original show?

ER: Well, apart from the obvious difference of Diary of an It Boy being written by a man, I think the main thing that differentiates it from Sex & The City is the fact that it is written by someone who has worked hard to get where he is, with little or no resources. Also, it is set in London and everything in the column is REAL and TRUE, whereas Sex & The City is fiction. Diary of an It Boy is out and out factual and documents the life of a single man in London, who also happens to be a fashion commentator, socialite, presenter, human rights activist and charity fund raiser. It is also the story of how a boy who grew up in extreme poverty in war-torn Sri Lanka, went on to become an award-winning fashion commentator and presenter in Britain. Although most of my past will be written into the book I am working on. The column was spotted by a literary agent and she encouraged me to write the book. We have already had interest from a few publishers. Despite the advice I got from some people in the industry, I have decided not to have a ghost writer. I want to write my book by myself and although it is taking longer than I expected, because of my busy schedule, I want to write it in my own time. I want to do a good job as this book is for my audience, and they deserve the best for making me who I am.

RH: You won Fashion Icon of the Year at Fashions Finest Awards UK 2011. How does that feel? Are you getting more offers because of the award? 

ER: It feels AMAZING! I feel very honored and special that the British public both nominated and voted for me — a foreigner who has only been in the fashion industry for less than 2 years. I LOVE the fact that they love me and I owe most of my success to the immense support I have received from my audience.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing and my publicist David Mann from Highmore PR (who is in the process of setting up a new PR agency) is taking care of everything while I relax in the spas and salons that have been offering me beauty and grooming treatments! I loved the Gina Conway Aveda Salon in London Kings Road so much I didn’t want to leave. The Nickel Spa for Men in Covent Garden and Jungle Fever Salon in Soho are also great. They treat customers so well in these places, and I am lucky not to have to queue to get an appointment. I love rest & relaxation in spas. Every time I finish presenting, commentating or any sort of work in general, I am back at the spa being pampered and spoiled!

I can’t reveal much but I have auditioned for 2 TV shows here in Britain. Now we’re playing the waiting game but I have to move forward. I’ve only had 4 brief appearances on British national television and radio and a few on satellite channels and overseas. So I find it surprising that people know me and come to see me at events and shows. I am also in the process of setting up 2 companies, and am talking to a film maker and 2 production companies that are interested in commissioning a documentary about me and a reality series about my life. There is so much work to do and despite working with a publicist, assistants and so on, I oversee everything and make sure I know exactly what is happening.

I am also being dressed by Italian fashion house Antony Morato (courtesy of Milan Fashions UK), award-winning British fashion label A-Hallucination and have just done interviews with the BBC and Exclusive Magazine, have shot for the Los Angeles based NOH8 campaign when they came to London, have done a cameo in a TV series pilot named Nightlife and have also filmed two scenes for Dumar, an independent British film in which I play a silent assassin. There’s tons more to do and I am working around the clock. We have also had interest from overseas; USA, India, Sri Lanka, Morocco and New Zealand. I can never refuse a good opportunity so I guess I will say YES to most of them. But I do my best to have a break every now and then. What’s the point of being in the creative industries if you cannot give yourself a well earned rest every now and then so you can relax, dream more and have as much sex as possible? This way, you nourish your body, mind AND soul.

RH: To whom do you credit your rising back to success?

ER: There are a few. My ex-lover Marcel, for giving me hope, being my pillar of strength and for being with me throughout the most difficult time of my life when I fought so hard to battle my drug and alcohol addiction. If not for him, I wouldn’t exist. He is the main reason behind my success and for this; I will forever be in his debt.

My parents for encouraging me to dream big and going out of their way to push me forward, my cousin Sulochana (a journalist) for making me feel and act like a star at all times, and my sister and brother for telling everybody about me (doubling up as my unofficial PR people!) and of course my first agent Simon Wilson for investing a lot of time and effort in my career. Then there are the friends, relatives, colleagues and contacts that have all helped me with the age old art of word-of-mouth. Thanks to them, my Google rating has shot up!

Almost every partner, lover and spouse (well, I’ve been married twice and engaged once!) I’ve had has contributed to my success in some way. These relationships made me happy, even though in many instances the happiness was quite short lived. They made me feel good and encouraged me towards pursuing my goal. Many times I lost track, but there was always someone to push me back into the path. Every photographer, journalist and of course my audience. They have all contributed towards my success. I know I repeat myself when I say this, but I cannot thank my audience enough for the love and support they have shown me. I feel overwhelmed by it all.

I must also thank my new publicist David Mann from Highmore PR is also very helpful., for being of great support and for handling all of my affairs, often doubling up as an agent (while I am looking for one) and for taking care of everything. I depend on him a lot. And I take great pride in saying that I was the first one to spot his talent and am helping him set up his own company offering public relations and event management to the fashion & entertainment businesses. He has a natural flair and talent for this business and I know for sure that he will go onto achieve greater things. I am also very proud to have a Publicist who is also an award winning Style Icon! He was crowned Style Icon of the West Midlands (UK) by the Westfield Group, the world’s largest retail property company. How fabulous is that?

So as you can see, Emmanuel Ray is a team effort. If not for all of the people I have mentioned, I would never have gotten to where I am now. So I owe my success to all of them.

Emmanuel Ray with Joan Collins at London Fashion Week ’09.

RH: Where did the idea of Diary of an It Boy come from? What is the definition of and It Boy? And what is your vision for the Diary of an It Boy?

ER: My previous agent Simon Wilson (from Express Broadcast) forced me to write a column saying I must have one to update my audience about what I get up to in my life and career. I was quite lazy but eventually gave in and started writing, soon realizing how much I enjoyed it.

A Sri Lankan journalist named Jayanthi Liyanage once wrote “When I write, my dreams become others’ dreams. I fly… using my pen as a steering wheel. Would you like to fly with me?” That is exactly how I feel when I write about certain things. Writing is very liberating. It is almost therapeutic. You’ll see what I mean when Diary of an It Boy the book, comes out. I see beauty in everything, mainly in nature. I am also providing snapshots of my past in the book. The column is mainly about my current life and career, the present.

The definition of an It Boy and It Girl are quite similar. Wikipedia it! You’ll see some interesting information on the It Girl page. But the page about It Boy seems to have disappeared. I have my own opinions and views as you know, so here goes...

An It Boy is a man who possesses timeless charm, individuality and originality. He adds new meaning to the word “unique” and a new term or adjective needs to be coined to describe his uniqueness! An It Boy also possesses generous amounts of “It”.

And “It” has nothing to do with looks, age, ethnicity, race, background, social status or financial wealth. “It” is all about personality, character and ability. It’s about standing up for the right thing and helping those who are less fortunate. It is about being thankful for what you have. It is about accepting your limitations and then overcoming them.

Every human being has “It”. It is what connects all of us together. It makes us REAL, raw and basic, stripped of the layers of fakeness and superficiality. “It” lies in the combination of our primal and gut instincts of doing what is right, or what we think is right or practical for now.

An It Boy knows no fear, faces no competition and has nothing to prove to anyone. The only person he needs to both fear and listen to is himself as he is totally self-made and would not exist if not for his own hard work, perseverance and beliefs. These are however, my own opinion which I built up and made up my mind about once you asked this question. I am naturally spontaneous. It makes me feel alive! I’ve never based my opinion on what others have said. I base it on my own experience. I need to see, hear and face. I am very hands on!

My vision for Diary of an It Boy the column is to turn it into a book and then write one every few years. I would love to see one published every year, but it will all depend on how much time I would have and what my audience would want. I think the first book will answer many questions I have in my head. I’ve always enjoyed sharing my life and career with my audience, through my column. So in a way I think I have achieved part of my vision already. But there is always more to come.

RH: You have a new book coming up soon. Can you share a little bit about it and when will it launch?

ER: I want to see it becoming a mixture of things for many; an entertaining read for some, a tutorial on life for others, maybe a How-To guide as well as a naughty read and guilty pleasure. Well, there’ a lot of love in it and generous amounts of sex! The book will definitely be a warning too, as it will bear all the mistakes I have made in life. I will also share everything I have learned through trial and error, from how to succeed in the business to how not to lose your REAL self. Like every author, I would like to see it become a best seller. I also want it to go down in history in a BIG way for some reason! Maybe it would become a TV series or a film, but I honestly can’t see anyone else playing me but myself! But I might be middle aged by then, so I guess it would make sense to see some hot young actor playing me. This is funny… the book isn’t even completed yet. But I did tell you I’m a dreamer. But my dreams do come true!

I hope to finish the book this year. Then it will launch next year. But you never know. Let me finish it first and then I’ll tell you!

RH: Which five words best describe you and your philosophy of life? 

ER: Live, Love and F*ck! OK that’s three words and they pretty much sums up my philosophy in life and I.

RH: What do you enjoy most about your job – and least? 

ER: MOST: Getting to do what I enjoy, the clothes and products I get, being treated nicely, audience interaction, being able to break the rules in the name of entertainment, helping up & coming talent in the industry, using my growing popularity and the flamboyance of fashion to draw attention towards charitable and humanitarian causes. Being made up, styled and air brushed to perfection so I get to look perfect even if it is only for a few hours. And definitely putting old fashioned eccentricity, a bohemian lifestyle and the art of dandyism back on the map! Also, hooking up with sexy pretty things and having more sex! Being touched, fondled and groped by uninhibited women is a definite plus. I also LOVE the attention the fabulous gay men bestow upon me. Gay men are the sugar coating of the audience community and they’re great! They are the backbone of the fashion industry and if not for them, the industry would be a rather pathetic and miserable one to work in!

LEAST: Bitchy, fake and superficial people whom I find totally annoying! Copycats, liars and backstabbers – they are too much of an effort. Having to answer to my Mum and explain the not-so-nice things I have said and done. She never misses anything. Having to look, act and be perfect all the time – it is such a pain in the balls! Conforming to stereotypes – I hate that with a vengeance but sometimes you just have to suck it up and play the game. Early starts. I hate them so much as I love sleeping until noon and it is rude to leave your bedmate on their own. They gave you a good time the night before so a lie-in and then some is basic courtesy! I also hate scripts, rehearsals and “the norm.” If the audience like and enjoy my performance, work and ME in general, why should I conform to these stupid unwritten rules that those that run the show expect me to follow? Isn’t being Emmanuel Ray enough of a reason to do things my own way?

Emmanuel Ray on the cover of My Kali Magazine 2010

RH: Who is your style icon(s) and why?

ER: My family. Daddy was a natty dresser and believed in looking presentable and well groomed. He always looked neat, chic and elegant. I learned how to look amazing on a budget from him. Mummy is more flamboyant and wears cheap jewellery with plain clothing so well it looks amazing. When we went out, nobody would have guessed we didn’t have a dime to our name! My sister’s style is understated and classic. But she always wears her wild unruly hair au-naturale and apart from framing her soft featured face so well, it contrasted well with her dress sense. My brother’s style is more sporty and relaxed. But he pulls it off so well. My cousin Sulochana (the journalist) was never afraid to be flamboyant and over-the-top. She would take ages to get ready and sometimes we would choose what each other should wear. She is one the first Fashionistas I met, and this was before the term “fashionista” even came into being.

Then there’s Marcel my ex. His style and look are very 1920s French riviera-style. Timeless elegance, chic and effortlessly elegant. He never wears prints or flamboyant clothing. Accessories are always kept to a minimum and he carries himself so well. Tailored shirts and trousers that accentuate his slim toned frame and tall figure, bags, belts and shoes that compliment the outfit and don’t contrast too much.

There is also a woman whom I nicknamed Blondie, who works at a kiosk opposite Earls Court underground station. A mature woman, she always looked like she’d just got out of the shower. Fresh, beautiful and always smiling, I used to chat to her whenever I passed by. She always wore red lipstick and her hair was always perfect. The blouses she wore, her pearl necklace and the way she carried herself made her look very 1950s.

I guess what I am trying to say is that most style icons are people we know and meet in our day to day life. Celebrities, film stars, entertainers and models always have a team of people who make them look perfect. There are stylists, make up artists, hair dressers, etc. who contribute to the fabulousness of a celebrity or public figure when they make public appearances or perform.

The REAL style icons are the ones who do it without help. They don’t need help as they are naturally stylish. A natural sense of style is something you are born with. It can be cultivated, brushed up and perfected over the years but the core of it is something that comes to you without any effort or help. So these REAL people are my style icons. They exist everywhere, just look around you.

RH: The Duchess of Cambridge is naturally a very stylish woman, who doesn’t have a stylist. She trusts herself to just go with her own style. What have you noticed in the changing of dress style in UK as a result of the Duchess? 

ER: I’ve heard constant gossip about Kate shunning stylists, then hiring one secretly and then not having one and so on. I don’t usually pay attention to gossip or anything that celebrities get up to. I only keep an eye on fashion trends as it is part of my job. I find the whole in-now out-soon process a big bore and time consuming.

I will gladly applaud any public figure who does not have a stylist and goes with their style. But we must accept the fact that everything in our world, work and life is changing. Stylists are a vital part of the fashion industry and are very much in demand in show business. But if someone feels they do not need a stylist, then that is a choice they make. Stylists are to the fashion and show biz what amyl nitrate is to BDSM Sex! Not everybody needs them to perform well!

In my own personal view, I think women who follow Kate’s style in the UK are a minority. It is usually a woman who is comfortable in her own skin who follows this style that is chic and elegant with a much understated touch of trendiness. It is smart, neat and polished. But it is also quite young and fun without being too loud. It is the perfect combination of style and comfort. I am sure Kate wouldn’t wear anything that makes her feel uncomfortable. She doesn’t seem like the type of woman who would put up with discomfort, pain and compromise just for the sake of fashion. She strikes the balance well and looks good doing it. So I guess women find this a good example and think “I want to look like that. Chic, ladylike, fun and glamorous – all at the same time.” All-In-One, a look for all seasons!

But women are constantly told in the media, advertisements, fashion magazines and campaigns, etc. that they need to look a certain way. It’s happening to men too. I am sick of seeing cover stories about the perfect abs in every men’s health magazine. I guess it is ironic I condemn this trend as I work in the fashion industry, but I am just being honest here. When did it come to this? When did it come to the point where brands and ads told people that they were not good enough, didn’t look pretty enough and had to change the way they looked? I guess it is also psychological. Human beings have a masochistic streak and have always enjoyed varying levels of pain. Being told, made to feel or worse, feeling UGLY (yes, I said it!) also causes pain. One wants to get rid of that pain but it is always temporary. It comes in the form of cosmetic surgery, a fake tan, anything that can turn back the clock and so on. But those who go down this route do not identify themselves with the Middleton Brigade! Now that is a different breed of woman we are talking about. As I explained earlier, they are women who are comfortable with themselves and want to accentuate what they have, not pay through their dainty little noses to look the way society, the media and the fashion & beauty campaigns tell them what they should look like.

The majority of the women here seem to favor fakery over all other styles these days. Fake eye lashes, hair extensions, fake nails, permanent make up, sky high heels, glittery dresses, fake tan, highlighters, bronzer and the list goes on. Not to mention the growing obsession with anti-ageing (botox, fillers, implants and what not!). A look that was favored by drag queens, then she males and trans sexuals has finally filtered down to REAL women, the majority of whom do not want to be REAL at all. I don’t think anybody saw this coming. It would be nice to see women celebrating natural beauty again, and putting an end to the endless quest for eternal youth, the obsession with attention-grabbing and looking like painted fake dolls. The fake look is now finding its way into men’s fashion. Many guys I know have now turned to tans, tinted eye lashes and brows, highlights brighter than the sun and whatnot. There’s looking well-groomed and neat and there’s over doing it! Why not look after your skin and treat it well and keep the make up and fakery to a minimum? I have never understood this obsession with tangerine tan, to be honest. I hope the Fake Trend in fashion and beauty will come to an abrupt end. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the REALness in a lot of these people!

RH: You are a human rights activist and raise funds for various charities. Tell us a little about this work. 

ER: It’s very satisfying. Almost therapeutic. Some people who don’t like me say I am doing charity work and supporting human rights campaigns for publicity. That is ridiculous. If I wanted publicity, then I can make a sex tape or strip naked on the red carpet! One of the reasons I do charity work and human rights is to encourage more young people to get involved in worthy causes and also to publicize the causes I get involved in. Fashion and show business can be very visual mediums. And they help draw attention to worthy causes.

I was photographed by Hollywood photographer Adam Bouska to represent Britain in the Los Angeles based celebrity-led NOH8 campaign when it was shot and promoted in London. I am very happy to have taken part in this campaign against California Proposition 8. Every human being has the right to live and love freely so I find it angering that governments use traditional values, religion and various other reasons to deny equality to an entire class of people.

I was the only guest to be interviewed on Stonewall LIVE Radio, USA’s first ever international broadcast. They want to feature me in Stonewall National Museum in Florida and I feel much honored. I was also the only entertainer to have appeared on Brit Asia TV’s Broken Silence programme on Sky, discussing the problems faced by sexual minorities within ethnic minorities.

Then I lent my support to the All Out campaign that successfully persuaded the government of Uganda to abandon the controversial Kill The Gays bill. I’ve always had a keen interest in promoting peace and human rights and have also attended the Ministry for Peace campaign in the House of Commons (British parliament).

I presented at Miss Sri Lanka UK 2011 in aid of the Sri Lanka Christian Association’s children’s day centre and playground in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. I have also raised funds for various charities; SOS Children’s Villages, Save The Children, Tree of Hope children’s charity, London Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund, St Mary’s Hospital Pædiatric Unit, Look Ahead Housing & Care, Shelter, Samaritans, Photovoice, Portugal Prints and Derbyshire Hepatitis C Charity.

In Sri Lanka, I helped the poor while working with the Anglican Church. I also tutored children of refugees displaced by the civil war while campaigning for the Ceylon Workers Congress and presenting at their events in Parliament. They support poor laborers in the tea plantation sector who face a daily struggle and live in poverty.

I also had a very difficult life growing up, but several people helped me. In Britain, the public has been very supportive of my work and constantly tells others, and word-of-mouth is the best news vehicle. My fans have made the events I present at successful, they voted for me at the Fashions Finest Awards and it makes me feel very special to have the support of the audience and my listeners, viewers, readers etc.

I owe my success to many people. I could never have achieved what I wanted without the help and support of countless numbers of people, so charities and human rights are my way of giving back, in addition to say thank you. Anyone in a position to make a difference or help those less fortunate, should do so. Enriching someone else’s life, standing up for the right thing and helping those who need your help are very special deeds. I did many horrible things in the past, so this is also my way of collecting brownie points to when I get to heaven!

Emmanuel Ray – Classic Portraits Photography by Kenneth Koh

RH: You publicly spoke about your personal life in a variety of publications and interviews going into a past with drug addiction —now you’re clean for about two years. Recently Amy Winehouse passed away at the young age of 27, following other talented artists including: Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.

What advice can you give to this young generation not to get involved with drugs?

ER: Saying “don’t do drugs, they’re evil” might not change anything. Human beings have always enjoyed what is bad for them, be it drugs or alcohol, fatty food and various other vices. Young people need to make their own mistakes and learn from them. But they need to realize that losing self-control and letting drugs control you is a definite path towards downfall. I deeply regret wasting my time, life and years on drugs and alcohol and being addicted to sex. That’s all I did. Sex, drugs, clubs, more sex… I was living in a bubble and I thank my lucky stars for my Ex Marcel. If he had not stepped into my life, I would probably have been dead by now.

The younger generation should listen to their loved ones and realize they are called “loved ones” for a reason. Some people are full of excuses for their behavior, citing broken homes and poverty as reasons for stealing, committing crime, doing drugs, running away from home, etc. But the truth is that your life lay in your hands. Your ambitions, destiny, career, happiness – all depend on YOU. I learned this the hard way and had to stop blaming others and making excuses.

Drugs will always be in society and no matter how many crackdowns and investigations are carried out; people who want cocaine, marijuana and various other substances will always find a way of getting them. Self-control and self-discipline is the main thing. It can be very hard to achieve for the majority of us, but speaking as someone in the creative sector, I would tell the younger generation to enjoy their vices in moderation. Too much of anything is good for nothing. We only have one shot at this life and we need to live it with happiness and contentment. Hard work and perseverance is key to making it in this business, especially if you don’t have famous or rich parents. So never let your focus on your goal waver and just keep at it.

Don’t give in to pressure and give yourself a break every now and then. Meditation and nature can do wonders to one’s personal satisfaction and relaxation. Some people might enjoy other tasks that make them feel relaxed, nourishes their soul and helps the well-being of their inner being. This is all part of self-discovery and knowing yourself and what works for you. Drugs and alcohol are temporary fixes. What you need is to find a balance and realize that illegal substances are not just a waste of money but are also injurious to your health. If you must do it and need it so badly, then do it moderately and don’t let it control you. You need to be able to stop when you want to and if you are unable to do that, then that is a sign that it is taking over.

RH: Are there any other thoughts you feel compelled to share? 

ER: I just have to thank all my audience for their support, your readers for reading this far and you, for this opportunity. I love your jewellery by the way, and look forward to wearing them!

Follow Fashion Icon of the Year on http://twitter.com/emmanuelray

Emmanuel Ray picks up Fashion Icon of the Year Award 2011, dressed in Antony Morato/Milan Fashions UK. Photo by See Li.

Movie Review of the Week — The Young Victoria

Movie Review of the Week — The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria

This film is one of the most beautiful, touching and memorable love stories ever about the life of Queen Victoria and her accession to the throne, and her relationship with Prince Albert, all set in Great Britain during the 1830s.

It’s history full of political intrigue and fascinating details about Queen Victoria, caught in a conflicted and manipulative world, struggling with her mother the Duchess of Kent. She and her unctuous adviser, John Conroy, go so far as to pressure Victoria to sign a letter of regency which, if signed, would postpone the princess’ accesssion until age 25 (?) and would give them control over the kingdom. However, the princess was determined not to let anybody control her, determined to take on her responsibility with her 18th birthday.

But the film glows after Victoria gets to know Prince Albert who is handsome, ardent, witty and vulnerable, a little shy, politically progressive and a man with an intellectual philosophy he intends to preserve. (He’s drawn his own designs for housing for the underclass and offers his insights for free: “I would like to be helpful to you,” he submits, quite earnestly). She cheerfully falls in love with him and the romance simply blooms, based in love, respect, partnership and loyalty.

The story is fascinating and strong, the costumes spectacular the scenes are shot in gorgeous locations, the performances are brilliant especially from Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend and a amazing supporting cast.

Absolutely delightful well-worth a second viewing… Making we wish the story could go more further. It’s definitely a five star movie!

 

Cast

  • Emily Blunt as Young Victoria
  • Rupert Friend as Prince Albert
  • Jim Broadbent as King William
  • Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne
  • Miranda Richardson as Duchess of Kent
  • Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy
  • Thomas Kretschmann

 

Director

Jean-Marc Vallee

Producer

Graham King, Martin Scorsese, Tim Headington, Sarah Ferguson

Screenwriter

Julian Fellowes

Movie Review of the Week — Green Zone

Movie Review of the Week — Green Zone

“Green Zone” is a thought provoking war movie with action, drama and political intrigue. The film’s objective is to make the audience think about why we really went to war? Watching the thriller, we’re presented with various conspiracy theories regarding our government’s involvement and what really could have provoked the war in Iraq. Did we go to war for our own benefit, and looking for war-glorification?

The film was inspired by the 2006 non-fiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran which documented life in the Green Zone, Baghdad. Also, what makes some of the scenes so intense, accurate and realistic is that the cast includes dozens of real soldiers recently back from Iraq and Afghanistan adding true authenticity to the dialogue and action scenes.

Certainly we have no idea what really happened in Iraq, but this movie and its plot seem plausible.

It’s hard to believe they were able to make the movie look so real as it was actually filmed in Spain and Morocco. And I just couldn’t finish the review without mentioning actor Khalid Abdalla for his great performance as “Freddy”, portraying a proud, injured, patriotic ex-soldier in the movie where he becomes Roy Miller’s (Matt Damon) translator. Ironically, Freddy has his own frustrations along with Roy about the war in his country. I thought the authenticity was amazing and well matched between both actors as Freddy showed sincerity, honesty and affection for his homeland while Roy, a patriotic US soldier, felt that he was being lead on a wild goose chase while the truth of his mission’s purpose was eluding him.

Green Zone may not be totally appreciated by the entire audience because of its perspective towards the Iraq war. Nonetheless, for those who like action movies with intelligence, suspense and intrigue, it’s a movie not be missed. It was excellent and very well directed.


 

Green Zone Details
Length: 115 min
Rated: R
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Release Date: 2010-03-12
Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Khalid Abdalla
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland, inspired by ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’ by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Music: John Powell

PS: For your consideration: 1.5 million dead Iraqis, over 31,000 US military deaths and 100,000 wounded, and 18 suicides per day.

Movie Review of the Week — Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio is a British film and a true story about one of the most exciting periods in Rock ‘n’ Roll starting in the late 60s and early 70s with a group of outlaw disc jockeys who broadcast Rock ‘n’ Roll to Britain from a boat off the coast. The film has fun acting and strong conflicts between the characters. It’s well directed by a talented director with comedy and a touch of nostalgia. It’s brilliant, hilarious, easy to follow, has funny jokes all around, and full of fantastic music that brings back memories from that time. The songs really capture the true spirit, the soul even of the 1960s, a music era I really enjoyed despite it being before my time and very different from the artists of today.

It is one of the coolest movies that I’ve seen in a long time with such fun and excitement going on that you don’t even notice it’s been 2hrs in passing. The only disturbing part is when the government is trying to shut the boat down in their misguided efforts to control an art form. Like any government, they try to create laws for simple things which aren’t meant to be regulated. Besides this, Pirate Radio is definitely well worth to watching.


 

Movie Still: The Men Who Stare at Goats

Movie Review of the Week — The Tooth Fairy

Welcome to the first edition of my new feature: Movie Reviews!

Every week I’m going to share some photos and recommend a movie that I consider inspirational and interesting. And what better way to start with one of my favorite theme Fairy Tales stories: The Tooth Fairy.

I watched this movie and to be honest I actually quite liked it. It made me laugh and made me feel good, but to truly understand this movie you have to transport yourself to the fantasy world where everything is possible. If you want to see a movie that has comedy and is inspirational at the same time clean for kids to watch (because today it’s rare to those children who believe in tooth fairy’s) then this one should be part of your collection. Please never judge a book by its cover, it’s the essence that is important. Enjoy this charming, sweet message, it’s all about the importance of following our dreams that carries us!


 

A scene from "The Tooth Fairy."

Dwayne Johnson as Derek in "Tooth Fairy."
Credits:
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release Date: 2010-01-22

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, Ashley Judd, Brandon T. Jackson, Billy Crystal, Stephen Merchant
Directed by Michael Lembeck
Produced by Jason Blum, Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray
Written by Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Randi Mayem Singer

Visit the movie’s Official Site!