Published on June 17 2013

In the opening seminar of an advertising unit I did last year, we as a class were asked why we'd chosen the subject. Most answered "Well, I want to work in advertising...", which is funny considering the first thing we learnt was how toxic a degree is to getting an advertising job, where senior employees prefer to mould their mindmoulders from scratch. 


My answer to the question was simple: "I hate advertising, and I want to learn more about it." That's my philosophy when it comes to most things I dislike in life. The best way to find the subjects people know (or claim to know) the most about is to speak over a pint, and drinking with me will reveal my vast range of knowledge on reality shows, creationism, The Daily Mail and polystyrene cups. But unlike all the formers, knowing a lot about advertising actually requires knowing something


And yet no matter how much you've learnt bout the advertising business, brands and public awareness, once in a while a little enigma comes along that sends your worldview into spirals. I give you the new Cadbury's Crispello ad:



If you have taken a vow of blindness against anything trying to sell to you, the advert can be summed up thusly:




I won't even attempt a full synopsis of this advert, which brings the words 'chocolate' and 'saucey' together in a totally unprecedented manner, as Andrew Falkous of The Guardian already nailed that. But I will immediately acknowledge the most unifying problem people had with the advertisement, and why it's the reason I love it so.


What exactly does shagging swagboys Dad have to do with chocolate?

OK, I see what you were driving at; trying to sell a chocolate product as 'naughty', one that sadly can't be worn around your genitals. But whereas most logical writers might go with chocolate being a guilty treat or doing naughty things with chocolate, we somehow ended up with an attempt to undress a middle aged father.


It wouldn't surprise me if this was the answer: a gifted writer had been storing this golden idea away for when their shining moment, but when simultaneously thrusted with the threat of student loans swapping pieces of his/her tongue for fingers, and the opportunity of writing a cadburys advert, they sold out.


Of course we've all come to expect advertising to be as far removed from the product as possible. What is aimed for is a loose concept designed to humour/annoy/annoy/annoy/annoy, with the slightest chance that the fools might recognize some elements of the brand. It's the shot in the dark approach that led to those YouTube winning, inspirational Asian family of the year adverts...the ones so good that no one even remembers what was being sold. 


The other big talking point about Cadbury's finest few minutes was whether or not it was offensive. Oh that's not a question by the way, it clearly isn't. Rather, what this glorious piece of marketing has accidentally revealed is the greatest way to offend the snobs of Britain is to take their foundations (roast dinners, over careful driving, not-yet-vintage clothing), and confront them with it somehow becoming sexually appealing to liberal son snatchers who travel the woods with their own travelling bands - the embodiment of all conservative nightmares.


In my previous blog post on advertising, I considered that the solution to the adblock problem for online video makers was to start making their own adverts, ones that would be fun to watch, at least to a certain level. One objection to this idea is Jon Lajoie, who in the past has made horribly horrible and funny adverts for companies that you'd think wouldn't give a shit...


 ...but ironically did give a shit, as when Wal-mart asked it to be removed from YouTube. 


It's a shame we can't be a bit more risque with TV adverts. Everytime a new one shows up and gets a few laughs, it's branded a new Marmite monster and complained about constantly for just less than a week. Yet adverts like the Crispello one are actually a total win win. If I lived in the 80's I would never buy 'Life Call', but if it's slogan was "I've fallen and I can't get IT up" then I would remember it fondly..


If more adverts could strive for higher levels of uncomfortablness (particuarly on internet platforms with audiences who'll lap this shit up), then companies could exploit the hype, debate and external humour from their campaign to implant their product into our minds, and we will stop reaching for the remote, or maybe even the adblock. 

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Written by The Urban Shepherd

Published on #Sociology

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Published on June 11 2013

This here is an interview I conducted with Crystal Fighters back in November 2010; during their tour with Foals and just a little while after the release of their debut album Star of Love. It was originally published on Mewbox, a blog for an android music app that just...disappeared

Up until recently I shyed away from strict Q&A interviews, preffering prose, but this was an early departure. Anyway enjoy the read and I hope you've enjoyed their music, both past and present.




Caught just a while before their appearance on stage at Southampton Guildhall as the supporting act to Foals on the 7th of November, Keyboardist Gilbert, singer Sebastian and guitarist Graham from the five piece folk electronic group Crystal Fighters were surprisingly laid back and cadenced considering what a wild charge of energy their stage act was. The group are currently gaining a huge amount of momentum with their fan base and critical reception; their Basque influenced dance music a truly unique result of a wide range of influences and personal inputs. In their own words, the guys really give the full rundown of the type of music they play and just what it sounds like:


Gilbert: It’s fast, energetic, passionate, Basque-influenced, modern, old, dance fun music.
Sebastian: Yes, that sounds good.

How did you get interested in the type of music you play and who were the big influences?

Gilbert: Well basically I met Sebastian, had known him for a while, and then we met Graham in 2007. We’d all had different musical upbringings and music we were interested in and listening to at the time so we decided to get together and make music.

We started out just tried to make stuff that’s fun, trying different ideas here and there. Sebastian’s always been interested in 80’s European music and Graham’s interested in traditional rock and roll, he’s got a background in that as well, and so we’re making all this fun stuff and it was only when Graham introduced us to his friend Laure whose grandfather was from the Basque country and he died shortly after we just met her and she got some of his belongings so she was really enthralled by these things, these books, as she didn’t know him that well. When she showed it to us it seemed really interesting, really characteristic pieces of writing and we started looking into it.

We had all these different influences that we had and we were actually struggling trying to find something that we could connect on, you know we were doing things with one genre and another genre but nothing solid. So when this came around the time was almost there, it seemed such an interesting prospect for us to look further into the culture and musical tradition of the Basque country and to try and combine that with the stuff we were experiencing in London when we were making dance music, and also this stuff that we’d grown up with separately as individuals. So that’s how we sort of got started and now it’s great to be able to make music where we can put in all our different tastes and still have some sort of consistency but not in the more traditional sense of every song sounding the same, if you know what I mean.

What’s your music making process? Where do you get your inspiration for a piece and how do you go about putting it together?

Gilbert: Well we live together so it’s quite difficult if someone’s playing something and it’s good you know it’s quite difficult to avoid and you want to go in there and join in and work on it.
But we’ve taken inspiration from lyrics, passages and sentiments from Laure’s grandfather’s book and then we have also looked towards traditional Basque folk music so a specific piece, specific song or specific melodies, maybe taking bits out of there and trying them…rhythmic ideas as well. But usually it starts with either a big vocal, lyrical idea or a big music idea, like a riff, and then we’ll work from there and sort of get it together.

What’s been interesting for us in writing our album and getting it out is that we play live a lot and it was great developing the songs on the album through playing live. We didn’t set out at first to write an album as it were, we set out to play and make music. How we came to the album was seeing what worked and what we really enjoyed playing.

Critics have noted that the way audiences tend to react really intensely to your music. What kind of atmosphere do you try to create when you play live and what do you hope the audience is left feeling afterwards?

Gilbert: Definitely we try to bring a lot more energy and rawness than you might hear on our records, we feel that’s something we like to do. The whole point is you got to a nightclub and you see a lots of people that aren’t even looking at the performer and all having a great time, everyone’s dancing. Then you go to a gig night maybe and everyone’s looking at the performer and no one’s dancing and no one’s having that good a time. We try to, I don’t know, bring a bit of both situations so the crowd can actually fee involved with the music, hearing it, seeing it, but also take some of our vibe that we bring on stage which is quite deep.

Graham: Well it’s just nice that we hope people leave like they experienced something…unique.

Gilbert: And the thing is that we feed off the crowd completely and our performances to be honest completely depend on how lively the crowd is. That’s at least our perception of how well we’re playing and how much fun we’re having. So we want them to be as involved in the performance for us as we are to them.
Graham: It takes two to tango. (laughs)


The band recently announced via twitter that they’ve been recording some live acoustic tracks to release as a bonus disk with the CD release of their debut album Star of Love in January. Asked if there was any thought of feeling on a follow up album and how it might progress from what has come before they answered:


Sebastian: Yeah I think the idea is that we like the boldness of our first record, and it talks about fairly large time honoured concepts but we’d probably go further into that with grander melodies and larger arrangements and more of the same but wholly authentic. Not that it wasn’t on this one but we were learning how to do things.

Gilbert: More of the same but better.

Sebastian: More of the same but better, exactly.

Your music videos are really striking in their imagery, creativity and just really how unique they feel. Who’s in charge of directing your videos and how the concepts for them put together?

Gilbert: We really like working quite close with the director. When we do video we put it out there with the core idea that we’re going for and see what ideas people have and work with that and we’ve been quite lucky to have met some really cool up and coming directors who’ve done some really nice pieces of work.


Sebastian: Definitely. We like to work with new directors. I know some bands sort of stick with one person but we like trying new techniques just cause the songs have different genres within them so it suits the visual thing as well.

Finally, what is your favourite aspect of the music that you play and what drives you to carry on playing?


Gilbert: I know that playing stuff we enjoy and finding new things within our own ears by combining sounds of one thing that we love with another and trying to put interesting stuff together and, you know, stuff that’s fun and we enjoy listening to.

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Written by The Urban Shepherd

Published on #Music Articles

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