Christian Stadil, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA

Closed door equals open door

We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected. The manner in which we, as individuals and corporations interact with one another and ultimately with the world around us is such that we are, on the whole, closer and more transparent. Whilst this does increase the volume of information being processed and debated, creating more pressure, friction and ultimately, clashes of interest, there are also numerous positives to behold.

Meet Christian Stadil – one of Denmark’s foremost entrepreneurs that many will recognise from his ownership of sports brand hummel or his appearances on the jury in DR’s “Løvernes Hule” (The Danish version of Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank) – a show that features up and coming entrepreneurs pitching new business ideas, in the hope of captivating the jury and gaining that all important starting capital.

Christian Stadil is the owner and CEO of the Thornico conglomerate, consisting of around 120 operational companies within food, technology, real estate, packaging, financing, sport and fashion, the latter being in the form of hummel. Christian Stadil took over the hummel brand in 1999, which back then was in a poor condition, transforming it into one of the world’s leading fashion and sports brands, finding a unique position in a very competitive market up against giants.

Besides being a business owner, founder and investor (most recently in numerous tech-based upstart companies), he is an author, active lecturer and adjunct professor in creative leadership at the Centre for Business Development and Management at Copenhagen Business School.

Christian’s corporate success is underpinned by a devotion to company karma – “A kind of CSR version 3.0 where we try to, where possible, think more holistically, in a “4x win” where our companies, customers, partners and a cause (in which we believe and find important), all benefit – especially in terms of the climate and the local environment,” he remarks.

And whilst he is not afraid to admit that combining the varied interests of stakeholders is by no means easy, Christian is adamant that one can indeed capitalise on synergies and create win-win situations to everyone’s mutual benefit. Known for doing things differently, Christian Stadil is an impassioned entrepreneur with a particular way of doing things that we all could learn a thing or two from.

Eske Willerslev, TEDxKEA

Original article co-written with Anton Tarabykin for TEDxKEA, available here

Forming the future by studying the past

Constant discoveries that prompt revisions of what we previously knew to be true are at the very core of our evolution. The merits of science in forming the present and ultimately the future cannot be overstated. Just as important, however, is understanding our past. Studying how problems developed, how our ancestors approached them, and ultimately where they have failed or succeeded, is crucial to understanding who we are today, and what we will be in the future. Lessons harnessed from the past can and should influence social, political and environmental decisions that we make today, and help us build a better future.

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Eske Willerslev is an evolutionary biologist known worldwide for his pioneering work with ancient DNA. He is renowned for several groundbreaking expeditions in Siberia along with his twin brother, anthropologist Rane, during which they gathered ethnographic material and Megafauna remains (Megafauna is a zoological term for large animals).

Eske’s discoveries have in fact re-interpreted much of mankind’s history. His studies on Aboriginal migration patterns proved that the indigenous people of Australia migrated to the continent at least 24,000 years earlier than it had previously been argued. Similarly, Eske’s studies have shown human presence in North America more than 14,000 years ago, which is a thousand years earlier than previous assumptions. Based on samples from the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian boy, Eske’s team discovered a genetic link between Eurasians and Native Americans, which at the time was a major surprise.

Among other Indiana Jones-esque feats, Eske has become an adopted member of the Crow Tribe of Indians in Montana, United States. Of all the lessons learned from such epic voyages, Eske believes that his research on ancient human migration patterns ultimately shows how the spread of people advances innovation and, ultimately, our evolution: “If you look at the past, you will see that the societies that survived were the ones that changed, not the ones that remained conservative and closed in around themselves. The ones that do well are those that constantly learn from others and take in new impressions, while the ones that stay in isolation, like the Paleo-Eskimos, die out in the end”, he points out.

Jan Gehl, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Cities That Move 5 km/h and not 60 km/h

Mankind is evolving and so too is the manner in which we interact with our surroundings. From traditional hunter-gatherer groupings to industrial age production, to modern day office environments, the progress of our civilisation ultimately changes our lifestyles. This progress represents societies that are more efficient, where the obstacles of physical distances are minimised and less and less movement is demanded from the individual. This, however, creates new challenges for mankind. As our need to move diminishes, so does our health, with obesity, diabetes and heart diseases on the rise. So now that fewer jobs are demanding it, how do we get moving again?

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Meet the legendary architect behind Copenhagen’s Strøget – no less than the world’s longest pedestrian street. Jan Gehl’s studies in the early 60’s played a significant role when Strøget was rid of vehicles, in a ground-breaking move that formed the core of many green urban initiatives that have catalysed Copenhagen’s development ever since. Since then, large cities around the world, such as New York, Moscow and Sao Paolo, to name a few, have been inspired by Copenhagen, and have called on Jan Gehl to help them pedestrianise.

Dubbed “the last living worldwide renowned guru in urbanism”, Jan Gehl has raked in innumerable accolades for his approach to urban design, winning everything from The International Union of Architects prize for exemplary contributions to Town Planning and Territorial Development to a Prince Eugen Medal for outstanding artistic achievement in architecture.

An honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and a fellow of the Design Futures Council, Gehl is of the conviction that “we need cities that move at 5 km/h and not at 60 km/h.” His approach to making cities liveable stems from a collaboration with his wife, psychologist Ingrid Mundt, together with whom he began to study how people interact with their environments. Gehl believes that we need to approach architecture in a human manner – it should and always be about people first and foremost. “Studying people rather than bricks” helps us build cities for people, encourage healthier lifestyles and invite people to use the urban space for physical activities.

Simon Prahm, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

Making a Difference For The Youth

A lack of physical activity is one of the major problems in our society. Recent EU figures indicate that 6 in every 10 people above 15 years of age never or seldom exercise or play a sport, whilst more than half never or seldom engage in other kinds of physical activity. Children in particular are affected by this trait, with many exercising less than the WHO recommendations. Poor health and quality of life are but a few of the implications of these figures. Our societies are burdened by an overall lack of physical activity. There are however, many individuals involved in the bid to ensure that people exercise more. One of them is Simon Prahm.

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Simon is the managing director of GAME Denmark, an NGO that reaches out to underprivileged youth by focusing on creating self-esteem, combatting marginalisation and creating self-empowerment for its members. Run by over 70 coaches and an excess of 100 volunteers, GAME was founded by Simon and two other partners in 2002, and is currently on the Global Top 500 NGOs list. The organisation also operates in Lebanon and is currently in the pipeline phase of expanding its operations to 10 other countries over the next few years.

A Henley Business School MBA holder and a bachelor in sports studies from the University of Copenhagen, Simon is also the chairman of the national platform for street sports, and has held positions as a guest lecturer at The University of Copenhagen as well as board positions on various think tanks, boards and steering groups. Formerly a chairman of The Falcon basketball club, Simon Prahm has spent many years disrupting the traditional association-based approach to sport in Denmark with an aim of getting the youth to be more active. For Simon “the youth are the future of societies and the right to sport is a human right that everybody should have access to.” As it stands, even in Denmark, this is not the case. There is a need for evolution in this aspect as far as Simon is concerned.

Anja Cetti Andersen, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

The universe and how we got here

Of the many mysteries of life, none can compare to the quintessential question: where do we come from and what are we doing here? For hundreds of years, science, culture and religion have put forth contesting arguments to try to put an end to our existential doubts. Meanwhile, as the list of Kepler planets found in “Habitable Zones” that exist in earth-like conditions grows, questions of whether or not we have the luxury of the universe exclusively for ourselves must arise.

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Anja C. Andersen is as outstanding an astrophysicist as they come. Currently an associate professor at The Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute, her career spans many years of research in the field, for which the list of accolades she has won is almost as endless as the universe itself. Anja’s interest in the mysteries of the stars began as a teenager in Saudi Arabia, where her father worked at the time. “One of the few things that girls could do was to study, so I sat and looked at the stars through a telescope”, Anja remarks.

Whilst Anja doesn’t claim to have all the answers to the tirade of questions that keep many of us up at night, she is of the opinion that an evaluation of the manner in which we approach existentialist mysteries is necessary. “When can one be sure that something exists, even if one cannot see it?” Anja asks. We are certain, for example, that black holes do exist in the universe, but we have yet to see one with our own eyes.

The mysteries of life are endless and the approaches to solving them equally so. “Physics is a dynamic study, and its approaches and premises are changing constantly – they are constantly evolving.” Prepare to be enlightened.

 

Vigga Svensson, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Sustainability 2.0 – sustainable consumption without compromise

A central theme within TEDxKEA Evolve is that of continuous improvement. We live in a dynamic world that is constantly shifting. One of the recent shifts in consumption patterns has been the idea of circular economy – a trend that has been cashed in by both consumers and innovative businesses alike. However, it is one thing to have an intention to be sustainable and another to actually pull it off. We need to re-think what it means to be sustainable and re-think again just in case.

If Vigga Svensson sounds familiar to you, she probably is. Formerly a radio and TV host at P1 and DR2, respectively, Vigga has been the voice of TV2 Zulu since the turn of the century, for which she still finds 15 minutes for in her busy schedule every week. But her real passions are entrepreneurship and sustainable consumption, to which she has dedicated the last 12 years of her life.

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Having previously founded the world famous baby clothing company Katvig, Vigga’s latest venture is Vigga.us – a firm that rents out baby clothes for a small subscription fee, saving parents vast amounts of money whilst providing a sustainable solution in a clothing industry otherwise notorious for its wasteful production practices. The first-ever brand to combine baby fashion with ideals of the circular economy, Vigga.us has been nominated for and awarded a long list of sustainability awards, and currently features in Sustainia’s top 10 sustainability innovations of 2015. Most importantly, it is an idea that makes no compromises, unlike many other sustainable solutions – prices are in fact lower, the quality is good and the product is accessible: “It is sustainability 2.0 – a better, more clever way of thinking sustainability,“ contends Vigga.

But it hasn’t always been this easy. If Vigga’s ideas of combining sustainability and a profitable business model seem well thought through, it is because they have undergone many years of review, refinement and ultimately, evolution. “The way people used our products in the past went against our ideas of sustainability. There was no recycling. We didn’t create a whole new way of thinking,” says Vigga. By comparison, the current business model in practice is one where sustainability is the main driver in the process as opposed to being an annoying add-on. It is time to show consumers that sustainability no longer has to entail compromises, a message that Vigga is eager to spread around the world.

Rob Scotland, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

The new wave of entrepreneurial creativity and the growing power of the audience

On all levels, certainly in the portrayal given by much of modern media, the world is a grim and unbecoming place. Seek and you shall find however; there are innumerable positives to behold. Whilst there are many who are plagued by concerns over ISIS or Greek financials and long-winded statements by the media, others, choose to see things in a different light.

Meet Rob Scotland – a man with a sense of humour that extends well beyond his positive mind-set towards the world of today and the society of tomorrow. In the midst of all the crises fed to us on TV, Rob stresses the importance of stopping for a second to appreciate the talent and adaptability of our generation. “Five years ago there was no iPad, 10 years ago there was no iPhone and in the last hundred years we’ve had more innovation than in the last 1000.”  “The next generation is probably going to be the greatest we’ve ever had!”

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Rob has spent the last 10 years working in advertising with a client portfolio that includes the likes of Nike, Carlsberg, Telia and Procter & Gamble, where he has ”argued passionately under the guise of creative strategy to turn anthropological understandings of audiences into commercial returns.” For Rob, radical changes in the manner in which audiences think and feel have brought about a paradigm shift that requires more value-based products, services and ultimately advertising. A graduate of illustration, Rob wanted to be an artist for Marvel comics. However, as is the case “with most of our generation”, necessity shifted him into other fields – namely magazine sales and later advertising. In this capacity, Rob founded the much revered ad agency, Bandit, in Copenhagen 8 years ago and advised big brands on how best to target their audiences.

Dubbed a ‘modern cultural anthropologist’, Rob has been championing the understanding of modern culture in marketing communications over the past ten years. Our generation often gets a bad rap in the media, but from Rob’s perspective “Far from being lazy, Generation Next’s unprecedented surge of entrepreneurial creativity is what will solve many of the challenges facing this world”.

Mathias Lundoe, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Monetising Big Data

Big data is the word on everyone’s lips. The exponential growth and availability of data has come to play a pivotal role in the manner in which individuals, companies and society at large operate. So what is big data and how exactly is it a game-changer for consumers and businesses alike?

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Mathias Lundø Nielsen, a 26-year old serial entrepreneur with a devastatingly effective track record within international e-commerce, might just have the answer. The youngest-ever Scandinavian to be accepted in to Henley’s MBA programme, Mathias’ latest venture is Nustay.com, a tech startup that has received one of the highest-ever valuations of any Danish tech company prior to launch, based on the sole idea of its business model. Making a serious case for disrupting the hotel industry, Nustay epitomises what monetising big data is in practice through matching guests with hotels by ranking them using information such as profiles, interests and past consumption patterns. Advanced algorithms work on producing a match between guests and hotels, creating an experience that is both exceptionally customised and that saves both time and money for customers and hotels alike.

In a world that is replete with data and information overloads, Mathias is determined to demonstrate how and why it makes sense to see big data as a new raw material – a commodity that can and needs to be processed in a way that adds value to our societies. However, in order to derive advantages from big data, we need to know what we are looking for, Mathias points out: “If you’re drilling for oil, you need to know exactly what you are looking for before you begin.” As is the case with oil, big data becomes a commodity only when you know what you will use it for: “You also need to know exactly what your end consumer wants, you should have a very sound knowledge of what your end product is.”

So the question we need to ask ourselves is how do we use what we know more effectively? How do we utilise the endless data at our disposal in a way that meets global and individual needs in a more cost-effective and less time-consuming manner? Let’s talk big data.

Khaterah Parwani

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

A Lifetime Battle to Fight for The Right to Freedom and Independence

Violence against women is a major hindrance to the development of our societies. Whilst measures and organisations are in place to attempt to overcome this problem, many focus on helping the victims and not on nipping the problem at the bud; namely men who indulge in acts of violence against their spouses. Add context to this within the frame of the society in which we live in, here in Denmark, and you will find that violence against women of ethnicities other than Danish tends to be both more common and harder to uproot.

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Khaterah Parwani is the vice-chair, legal adviser and ambassador of the Exit Circle, an organisation that engages victims of physical violence, social control, bullying and radicalism in a dialogue. A victim of violence herself, both in childhood and adulthood, Parwani has spent the last few years channelling all her time and energy into helping those deprived of the rights to freedom and independence, using her background in law and a deep-seeded passion to make a difference in the lives of others.

Parwani’s work also focuses on the brothers and fathers involved in the circle of violence and social control. Understanding the underlying social circumstances that explain why, for example, the percentage of uneducated or unemployed men with Muslim backgrounds is as high as it is represents a key point of focus for Parwani: “It is harder to become integrated or accepted in Denmark when you are a brown man with a Muslim name than when you are a woman. A lot of these men feel marginalised.” Similarly, over and above violence and the need to understand why it happens, Parwani is of the opinion that it is more important to comprehend and work at disrupting mechanisms of social control and cultural radicalisation amongst minority societies.

An ardent debater and orator, Parwani has represented her views across numerous media such as The BBC, Der Spiegel, TV2 news, DR1 and Radio 24/7.

Sharon Jones Interview

Vega, Spring 2014.

Daptone records a retro sort of label who think that it’s rad to keep things old school and simple when it comes to the soul music that defines their way of thinking. At the centre of this mindset is Sharon Jones and her backing band, The Dap Kings, who have made it their mission over the years to keep the soul flag flying high, safe from the encroachment of music categories that threaten to redefine it as something that it is not. Sharon was the soul standard beared long before Amy Winehouse came along, conquered and tragically departed and, having fought her way out of a titanic battle with pancreatic cancer, Jones is stronger and more vocal than ever before. Initially delayed, her latest album ‘Give The People What They Want’ is a work borne of her struggles in this battle and is currently one of the driving forces behind her ongoing tour.

I caught up with the endearing songbird ahead of her show at Vega in Ma, for a chit-chat about her music, views on r & b, working with Lou Reed and the U.S healthcare system, which in case you forgot, is quite shit. She was chirpy, and talkative, ahead of her show, which went on to rake in widespread praise from various media and burst into song whenever afforded the slightest opportunity – her flowing locks replaced by an air of statuesque bald sophistication not unlike that of fellow diva-in-crime, Grace Jones.

 

 

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The Battle Against Cancer 

 

 

A: “Welcome back to Copenhagen Sharon. How are you feeling ahead of the show ?”

Sharon: “Im ready.” “ I mean, we’ve been going, we’ve been going, we’ve been going.” “Tonight is the third show in a row.” “We fly to Helsinki or somewhere like that tomorrow.” “It’s a lot, but i’m ready to go !”

A “ This year has been a big one for you – you’ve come out fighting from your battle with cancer.” “Congratulations on that.”

Sharon: “Thanks – it’s still a battle.” “ You know for the rest of my life I have to go every six months to check that none of it comes back, as a matter of fact i’m going for a check-up on the 9th of June.”

A “How has this battle shaped your views on music and what it is that you do as a performer ?”

Sharon: “I just want to do more and get my stuff out there.” “I want people to recognise soul music and recognise that what me and The Dap Kings are doing is true soul music.” I’m alive and my goal is to push for the music world to recognise the category of soul music.” “I think that’s why my life was saved – for me to continue to do what i’m doing.”

A “To keep battling, admirable.” “ It goes without saying that it’s nice for you to be back on stage again”

Sharon “ Oh yeah !” “For me, that’s my joy, that’s my energy, that’s my happiness – the stage and music.” “ When I couldn’t do it, when I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t even listen to anything anymore” “ It was frustrating.” “ From June to September I couldn’t bend over, that’s how bad it was”

A “ Ouch ! “ Here in Denmark, there’s a lot of talk about the medical system” “ In the U.S, they are trying to reform things right now.” “What is your experience with the system?”

Sharon: “Well thank God i’m in the band.” “ We have an insurance” “We pay so much for it though- almost 10’000 dollars a month !” “One of the doctors that did the operation in New York was from outside of my network so I had to pay.” “ He tried to work it into my plan but it wasn’t possible so after 2 or 3 months I had to pay him some 20’000 dollars or whatever it was.” “ I’ve been paying and paying and I wasn’t working so the little money i’d saved up was chewed up.” “I have to take enzymes for the rest of my life though – I just changed insurances so that’s gone up too and the medicine itself it probably also going to go up.”

A: “That’s crazy”

Sharon: “It is – I went to a med store sometime back and I hadn’t shown my insurance card so the guy behind the counter comes back with the medicine – he wouldn’t even tell me out loud how much it was – he wrote it on a piece of paper and pointed to it.” “ I was like have you lost your mind ?” “Five hundred and eighty something dollars !” “Of course when I showed the insurance card the price came down drastically but it got me thinking, if I didn’t have insurance, what would that mean ?” “ Would I just die if I couldn’t afford the medicine ?”

A : “Sadly that is a reality for many people in America”

Sharon: “Yeah, people are sick and can’t get medication – they are not insured” It’s scary, they are fighting Obamacare, trying to say it’s not working.” “ It is working, they just don’t want to give it a chance.” “ They are full of crap !” “It’s all about the pharmaceuticals and the money – you’ve got to keep the doctors and the doctors have to keep you on all your pills instead of telling you to go home and find more natural solutions that could also help you” “I don’t want to talk about natural drugs because the last time I talked to one of the news people in New York they misinterpreted it completely.” “That was not my intention at all – I wasn’t bragging about my experiences with weed , but they need to get it right, there are a lot of people that use it- cancer patients and so on”

A: “Well they have legitimized Marijuana in some parts of the states, Colorado for instance.”

Sharon: “Colorado is a different part of the country.” “Even if people don’t want to smoke it, they can take a pill prescribed by the doctors.”

A : “It’s quite stressful to contemplate a med system based on such rampant inequalities”

Sharon : “ I’m telling you- you see what it’s like ?” “ I figure that everyone has to do what they got to do- i’ve been eating kale, Spinach and carrots, ginger and so on, mixed as a drink sometimes”

A: “Sounds like a nutrient bomb”

Sharon “ Yeah, when I started taking it the doctors were amazed by how fast I was recovering.” “ That’s the power of the greens, the power of vegetables.” “That’s what you’ve got to do, stick to natural stuff.”

 

Give The People What They Want 

 

A: “ Indeed.” “Going back to a more positive topic, your music –your latest album Give the people what they want’ was also delayed by your illness.” “It’s out now and it’s got quite a lot of people baking it up.” “What was the inspiration behind it ?”

Sharon : “It took us a couple of years just to make the album because my mother was sick, Neil Sugarman’s brother was sick too.” “They both died afterwards- my mother died during the making of this album, Neil Sugarman’s brother died of cancer then the next year there I was diagnosed.”

A: “Was the album ready at that point ?”

Sharon “No actually the album was due to drop in August and in April-May I was diagnosed with cancer so everything got postponed to the year after, January.” “We put out ‘Retreat’ already because we thought the album was coming out so while I was in the hospital an animated video was made for it – which changed it to a tale about fighting cancer.” “We also did the video for ‘Stranger’ – I was very sick during that, on chemo.” “ I went in and we did the video over one day and I was in bed for the next four days after that because my white blood cell count had dropped and my immune system was down.” “It was happy though, but I was a stranger to it all.” ‘Get up and get out’ changed as well – first I had to learn it- the drummer wrote it and he didn’t tell me what the song was all about to start off with.” “ Later he told me it was about bed bugs – ‘I’ve been laying with you night after night, you leave before I see the morning light, I always say you’re not welcome no more but when you knock I open up the door and say Get up and get out !” (sings jubilantly ! )

A: “ Haha ! And there I was thinking that this song was about some lousy lover ! “

Sharon “Yeah, right ? (Laughs) “ And then the second verse ‘All my friends they ask me about you and I swear up and down that we are through.” “If only what I say is true, why can’t you find someone new ?” “Get up and get out !” “When I started singing it on stage, we changed the whole groove and I start the song off in a Tina Turner way.” “I don’t tell em about the bed bugs though” “At the end I scream ‘ Get up cancer, get out!’ “I shout the cancer out”

 

Proper R & B is not pop 

 

A : “ Your record label, Daptone, has a back to the old r & b school feel to it…”

Sharon “Yeah it’s r & b but we want to want to be recognised as soul – there is no label for soul music in the music categories.”

A “So what is the difference, for you, between the ‘r & b’ that we hear on the radio today and what you’ve been making throughout the years ?”

Sharon: “It’s just changed.” “The r & b of today isn’t the r & b of the old days because the r & b of the past was called soul.” “James Brown came up with funk and then you had different categories of funk” “ R & B took on a whole other value; I don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to r & b today – it’s pop music.” “Anytime you take, and I keep using their names, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake, and people keep on saying they’re r & b singers I think ‘Wait, that’s pop ! They are great pop singers, their music is great but it’s not r & b.” “I don’t consider it r & b.”

A “For me Amy Winehouse was a very good musician, all credit and respect to her, would you say that you have a similar sound ? “You’d been on the scene for some time before her singing that sort of sound.”

Sharon : “Yeah, we inspired her, I inspired her.” “That’s why Amy and Ronson came to our label, came to the Dap Kings and 6 of her songs on her album were produced.”

A : “ What is your philosophy behind music ?” “Why do you do what you do ?”

Sharon : “I’ve never really thought about it like that.” “I think of music as a bit of my life, it’s been part of my life since I was a child.” “When I did my first solo and realised I can sing in church, at that point, I was aware that it was a gift, a blessing.” “It’s something I have to do – it’s my happiness, my joy.” “I don’t have kids, i’m not married and i’ve been on the road for the last 20 years or so touring” “ To me, when I lose that joy, that happiness, or when I don’t feel that connection, when I lose the connection with my fan or with my band, it’s time to quit, to retire”

A: “Hopefully not anytime soon”

Sharon : “I don’t see it coming any time soon right now”

A: “It was difficult for you to make your big break, having been around on the scene for a while.” “When did you know for certain that making music was something you wanted to devote your life to ?”

Sharon: “It was in church one day.” “Back in the 80’s and 90’s I was trying to do that club stuff with all them beats – you’d go in the studio and they’d tell you ‘Sorry, but you just don’t have the look for this kind of stuff.’ “I knew I had a voice, a gift so to be told that in my youth was hurtful.” “I took many jobs and many of them weren’t for me.” “Everything comes back to my music, back to singing.” “I knew that it was part of my life and something that I had to do.” “ You’ve got to know where you’re going and what you’re doing.” “Some people want to be singers and musicians and it’s not for them. “In your heart you know you’re good and if you’re somewhere and fifty people tell you that you’re not or 100’000 people tell you that and you’re the only one who believes in you, maybe there’s something wrong.” “ However, when one person out of all those tells you something positive, you’ve got to search yourself and keep going- have faith in yourself and keep that one person in mind.” “That’s what carried me, I didn’t have to look though- my ex was out playing and the guys he was with were looking for a soul singer with a James Brown groove thing going.” “ I could do that easily, that was my break and I knew that it was the style of music that I was meant to do.” “I don’t want to go out and try to sound like Beyonce or some of the young girls out there today, that’s not what I do.”

A : “That’s the problem with the music industry, their reproduction of everything that’s already there …”

Sharon: “And people let them do it, they give you a bit of money and if you’re record doesn’t sell a few hundred thousand copies they drop you.” “With my music, whether I sell 500 or 5000, the record label is still going to go on supporting me”

 

R.I.P Lou Reed 

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credit: PaulMcGeiver

 

A : “You’ve worked with quite a few musicians over the years – Lou Reed being one of them.” “What was it like working with Lou?”

Sharon: “Honestly, I didn’t even know who Lou Reed was.” (chuckles) “Of course I remember ‘tu tu tu’ (hums ‘talk a walk on the wild side’ ) but it wasn’t my style – I wasn’t into the rock of the 80’s and 90’s.” “When they told me what he was doing and I listened to his ‘Berlin’ album I thought ‘Wow ! This is dark.” “At that first rehearsal in Brooklyn Anthony from Anthony and the Johnson’s was there too.” “ I didn’t know who this guy was but his style reminded me a lot of Tiny Tim who used to sing ‘tip toe to the garden’ (sings Tiny Tim’s iconic Tip Toe Through the Garden’ ) “ He had a very high pitched voice.” “ I went to Australia and he let me do a verse of ‘Sweet Jane’ with him on the first night.” “ He wasn’t going to ask me to sing”

A: Why not ?

Sharon : “That’s Lou for you – I stepped on his solos.” “It didn’t bother me at all – In Australia someone asked him what it was like to have such great backup singers and he said ‘Sharon, come here, I want you to take a verse of ‘Sweet Jane’ and we tried it out without success to start off with.” “ I told him ‘Lou if I have to sing this song the way you sing it then I don’t want to do it because that’s not who I am’

A: “Two very different styles”

Sharon “Exactly.” “So Lou goes ‘I tell you what, i’ve been singing this song for many years my way – let me see how you are going to do it.’ “I did my Tina Turner thing and at the end of the night Lou says ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, the magnificent, wonderful Sharon Jones !’ “We hugged in the dressing room afterwards and everything was cool.” “ He was happy to start off with but got mad afterwards because he wanted me to go on tour with him in Europe and I said yes, before cancelling 3 days before the tour because I had to do the movie with Denzel Washington , ‘The Great Debaters’- I chose to do the movie.”

A “How come ?”

Sharon: “Because it was Denzel and it was the great debaters (chuckles heartily)” “ It was an opportunity to be in a movie, who would turn that down ?” “I would have made more money with Lou but I turned down the tour.” “I had two short scenes but would you believe it they cut em out !” “ I sung a whole song as well which they also cut out” “So get the original and watch the director’s cut and you’ll see me in there and the parts that they took out.”

A : “ Any idea why they cut that out ?”

Sharon: “Length I guess.” “Movies are always too long and they have to nip it down from like 3 hours to an hour and a half so there are so many scenes they have to cut out.” “Of course my scenes were some of them” (laughs)

A : “I’ve got to see the movie then I guess”

Sharon: “From the beginning Al, It’s all at the beginning.”

A: “Any plans of acting again any time soon ?”

Sharon: “Oh I would love to !” “We are in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ too – the whole band.” “I would love it if Tyler Perry did something and got me in there.” “Singing is acting you know, you’ve got to act those stories out when you’re on the stage.”

A: “This is my last question, what’s next for you ?” “ You’re touring now but are the plans beyond ‘Give The People What They Want ?’

Sharon: “ No plan really, I just want to continue to get this album known and continue to have my health.” “I hope and pray that every show we do goes well, that nothing has to be cancelled.” “That’s important you know- cancellation hurts.”