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Creative Corner with Andy Hobsbawm

November 2021
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Andy Hobsbawm is the founder of independent music and management label River Rose Records. He also co-founded the first international digital agency Online Magic, sustainability public service Do The Green Thing, and IoT software platform EVRYTHNG.

Our recent chat with Andy discusses his favourite campaigns and discusses the overlaps between visual creativity and music.

I’m currently working on the album launch for Kate Ellis’ sophomore record Spirals next year.

It was produced by John Reynolds, who was Sinéad O’Connor’s producer as well as working with artists like Indigo Girls, Belinda Carlisle and Damian Dempsey. 

We’re super happy with how it turned out. It’s definitely roots music and lives somewhere in the spaces between Folk, Americana and Country, but I really like how a lot of the tracks do their own thing and sound quite different from everything else in the genre. 

That said, things that don’t neatly fit defined tags can be harder to market. But in the end, we made a record we really love and are proud of, which in my view is the most important thing.

I'M LOVING

Based on the latest Kate Ellis single Wonderland it brings together music, art and nature to inspire change. It’s a creative collaboration between a musician and an artist that aims to bring emotion and voice to the global rallying cry for urgent environmental action at #COP26. 🌱

You can check it out on this one-page site.

The music video is being shown as part of the COP26 United Nations Global Media Network which is programming environmental content for media organisations worldwide to broadcast during the conference.

A lot of political activism is planned for COP26, but we hope that The Wonderland Project can communicate differently, in a complimentary way. Perhaps the double emotional punch of visual arts with an anthemic soundtrack can reach the parts that other climate campaigns cannot reach? After all, like the Washington Star’s famous 1967 “Flower Power” photo of a carnation in the soldier’s gun barrel, you never know what will touch someone and inspire change.

FAVOURITE VIDEO

I’ve always been a massive fan of Tim Pope’s Cure videos and Close To Me is a work of genius. Filming the band in a wardrobe that gets pushed over a cliff into the sea perfectly fits the claustrophobic, breathless feel of the track. 

However, I think I’ll have to pick Nothing Compares 2U by Sinéad O'Connor. Putting to one side her extraordinary beauty and presence, the simple magic of shooting her face in close up against black is incredibly affecting. 

I haven’t seen anything more emotionally powerful in a music video than that moment when the tears appear in her eyes as she sings “but I’m willing to give it another try” and roll down her face during the chorus. 

As a footnote, I also appreciate these amazing videos because they look easy and relatively cheap to film. I love the video for Losing my edge by LCD Soundsystem for the same reason.

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BEST ARTWORK

I’ve always loved the album art for The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Apparently, the inclusion of Hitler, Jesus and Gandhi in the crowd was rejected by EMI for being too controversial, which is a shame really.

RECENT CAMPAIGN

The most recent campaign I’ve enjoyed working on has been The Wonderland Project I mentioned above.

Part of my background is in music (I was in a spectacularly unsuccessful ‘80s rock n roll band) and also in using creative communications to inspire sustainable behaviour change. So it’s brilliant to be able to bring the two together in this way.

BRAND COLLAB

I’ve always thought that the danger of music partnerships for brands is it’s creatively lazy – like putting celebrities in ads. Of course, it can work to great effect, but too often it masks the fact there isn’t a strong brand idea to start with.

I like simple utility-based campaigns that make people’s lives easier. Like Heineken partnering with Coachela to provide a cold storage tent where people could keep their beer cool. Or Spotify’s playlist integration with Uber. But I’m sure there are much more recent examples that people can come up with.

CREATIVE VIDEO

For me the most creative and original music video of the past year is Chaise Longue by Wet Leg.

I think the band is brilliant and their songs and videos are incredibly entertaining. The combination of frenetic, pulsing indie beat plus quirky, catchy melody with their surreal, Amish-in-pyjamas outfits and deadpan delivery is irresistible. And then the moments of spontaneous dancing are the cherry on the cake.

LOGO LOVE 

For me Jamie Reid’s Sex Pistols artwork (which I think you can say includes their ransom-note logo) is still hard to beat.

It was the perfect encapsulation of punk’s subversive culture and sneering attitude in a design system and was used to create some of the best record covers and posters of all time.

GO FOLLOW 

The one artist you should follow on Instagram is Kate Ellis of course!

ICONIC

I adore all of Pennie Smith’s Clash photos and, of course, there’s that London Calling album shot – when you look up “iconic music photos” on Wikipedia it should really display that image.

But I saw that someone had already name-checked this in Creative Corner so I’m going with Tom Copi’s incredible shot of Iggy Pop at a 1970 Stooges gig in Cincinnati where he’s standing on the crowd triumphantly, held aloft by fans. 

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