Best young media makers meet successful journalists at international summit – Day One

Future News Worldwide (FNW), an international summit organised by the British Council, opened its doors last week to its best 100 young media makers from all over the world.

The competition in the run-up to the two-day long conference was tough: over 3,000
applicants expressed their interest in attending this event, which was joined by prestigious journalists such as Jon Snow and Christina Lamb and held at the Reuters UK headquarters in Canary Wharf. The prize for the selected winners consisted of accommodation, meals and transport to and from London.

The first day of the conference saw Reuters, NDTV and The Sunday Times industry representatives give insights into complex issues such as bias and truth.

It was opened by Nick Tattersall, Managing News Editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Thomson Reuters. He spoke about the noise created by technology with an increasingly fast-paced access to information, and how this can represent both a challenge and an opportunity. In the process of filtering all the background noise out to reach the essential, he expressed his belief that a high premium is placed on unbiased information:

‘Responsible journalism practised without fear and without bias has never been more
important. I think in the era of fake news and disinformation, it also brings home just how much physical, intellectual, logistical and emotional effort goes into accurate and unbiased journalism.’

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Nick Tattersall opening Future News Worldwide 2019. Photo source: andramaciuca.com

The young media makers were keen to ask questions from the very first speaker, which led Nick Tattersall to speak about the importance of having a variety of voices in the newsroom:

‘It is very healthy in a newsroom to have a variety of opinions and to debate on how and
why to cover something.’

The second speaker, Sreenivasan Jain, Managing Editor for the New Delhi Television (NDTV), spoke about the challenges faced by journalists who do their job, that of ‘exposing wrongdoing’. He also talked about how the public can become more engaged:

‘Defending power seems to sell more. I think there is a challenge on those of us who are
trying to speak the truth, to make truth more compelling, more relatable. We need to find a way to make people feel like they have a stake. If we start to feel pressure, then they will as well. Making that link is important, it is definitely something we should all think about going forward.’

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Sreenivasan Jain, Managing Editor for NDTV. Photo source: andramaciuca.com

The last journalist of the conference day was Christina Lamb, Chief Correspondent for The Sunday Times. She talked about last year’s worrying increase in violence against journalists across the world:

‘It’s not just happening in censorship, it’s happening in India and Brazil, some of the world’s biggest democracies, and a large number of these crimes go unpunished. We have seen a decline in media freedom, which I think is very worrying and journalism plays a huge role in society. You can’t take freedom of press for granted, you can’t take democracy for granted. We all need to step up our game. I think foreign correspondents and journalists are playing a vital role in society.’

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Christina Lamb speaking at Reuters UK during FNW. Photo source: andramaciuca.com

Christina Lamb also tackled the subject of ‘truth’ and the challenges related to it: ‘People
seem to have different versions of truth, some people don’t accept facts. When you have
leaders of the free world lying and accusing journalists of being enemies of the state, it
makes it very difficult.’

The first conference day successfully finished with a networking dinner on the River Thames, where Jon Snow was the guest speaker.

Talking about his background and how it influenced his world and professional vision, Jon Snow said that he was very musical, his mother was a pianist and when he was very young he was chosen to be a choir boy, so music ‘informed’ him: ‘There is my starting point’, he said, ‘Music. I wasn’t very bright at school, I didn’t get very good exam results and I couldn’t go to university. So I decided I would volunteer with an organisation called VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). I was lucky enough to be sent to Uganda and to this day I can still sing the Ugandan national anthem.’ He then sang it to the audience and received rhythmic claps in response.

Jon Snow then proceeded by saying: ‘Music, Africa, development, education, all came
together in the space of a year. Things happen to you along the line which you must never forget. It might be the death of a parent, it might be the birth of a child, it might be
anything, but these things are things which inform who you are and how you see the world.

‘Be true to how you see the world. Be true to yourself. Never find yourself being persuaded by some proprietor of a news service to pursue something in a way that disagrees with the way you are. You must stand up for who you are and what you believe in.’

He also added: ‘Although we are completely neutral, you have to accept what your views
are and set them off a little against what you are being told or what you’re learning.
Somehow you have to come out with a balance in which you are being true to what you
believe in, true to the way you are.’

New song by Naked Canvases coming soon! Live teaser and interview for Forge TV’s On the Beat

Naked Canvases came all the way to Sheffield to talk to me and perform a teaser of their next song, “Songs Apart”. Enjoy!

 

Naked Canvases are “painting” their first Official Video

It is happening tonight. Tonight, between 9 and 10pm, Naked Canvases will be releasing their first official video for “Insane (Hey Now)” – after having launched their audio version less than four months ago.

The event is going take place at Cogs Pub in Birmingham, but Andrei Tiu said the venue choice for tonight is not arbitrary: “The venue is modern and the standard of performance there can be pretty high. So we want it to be a very good performance, good sound, we have the means of exposing the video on  high-quality screens and it’s also in a very good area of the city, so it kind of helps our brand in this way and we can also bring the kind of people that the club would like there. So it’s not just a pub – it’s a higher quality pub! And this is why we try to be a high-quality band and want to have high-quality material…”; “…we are aiming for what we are supposed to”, added Andrei Dutu.

They didn’t want to give me a lot of details about the video and, of course, I wouldn’t want to give you too many spoilers either. But what they did give me was a special kind of enthusiasm for what is coming and a lot of inspiration – and through this exclusive interview, I am hoping to make you as excited as I am now about the first canvas they are painting tonight.

Andrei Tiu, lead guitarist, PR, manager, co-songwriter and co-founder of Naked Canvases said the video director “had the musical knowledge of how music videos should be done, as well as the film knowledge to make it cinematic and the approach of making it commercially appealing as well”.

The band takes pride in managing to achieve the highest level they could possibly reach at this point in their career. They say they are very pleased with what they call a high-quality final product and said the director was able to put into images exactly what they want to express through their music video. The live show taking place in Birmingham tonight will not only mark the launch of their music video, but will also be broadcast through Facebook live so that their family, friends and fans can watch them from whatever part of the world they are in.

The other Naked Canvases member, Andrei Dutu, who is the singer and rhythm guitarist of the band, as well as co-songwriter and co-founder, said the video captured exactly the way they see music videos but also their energy as a new band and their indie approach towards music: “I can’t wait to actually release it”.

The video shows two different timeframes in parallel, telling a love story which is relevant to both  past and present. Their favourite part of the video is the bridge which, they say, looks really good.

While only giving out the fact that the video shows a couple wandering around London, Andrei Dutu explains the story behind it: “There is this couple and they live close by when they are kids, then they become teenagers and fall in love, but at some point one family moves away and they lose connection. And the idea of the song is that they meet up when they are a bit older, more mature, they experience life, and there’s this question there, ‘we’re back in this situation again, but it feels INSANE, I am not sure that we can do this’ ”

WHO ARE NAKED CANVASES?

“Naked Canvases” was formed in October 2016 with only two members, but a lot of motivation to work hard and give music a meaning they believe in.  Andrei Tiu (23) and Andrei Dutu (22) are both from Bucharest, Romania.

Andrei Dutu grew up in a family with a strong focus on classical music, as his mother used to be an opera singer. He studied Drama at an arts school in Bucharest and then started studying music as well, having performed pop, jazz and even opera. When he first moved to the UK, he went to a music college in Wigan, he did a lot of auditioning for musicals but at the same time started gigging on his own. Moving to London, he said, was a life-changing decision – everything felt as if it suddenly evolved, as there he met Andrei Tiu and they decided they wanted to do music professionally together.

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Andrei Tiu had already been part of a few bands by then, one of his bands back in Bucharest having been quite successful and making it hard for him to leave: “I felt attached to it so I thought if I am leaving this here I want to make sure I am going to do something better”.

Tiu studied an undergraduate degree in Marketing and although it is currently helping him promote Naked Canvases, he admits his decision was also influenced by his parents’ distrust in whether music would work or not as a career path: “Sometimes it’s hard to tell parents ‘Oh mum, you know what? I think I am going to study Music in London for four years, 2000 miles away from home and, you know what? I can’t work for a few months, maybe one year, so I am going to ask you for the money. Is that okay?’ Probably not.”

Their first song, “Insane” (Hey Now)” was launched at the National Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, where they had their first concert and ever since they’ve been gigging in London and Coventry. After their launch in Birmingham today, they are planning on gigging in many other cities across the UK.

THEIR MUSIC HAS NO LIMITS

Naked Canvases is open to everyone who want to give variety a go. It ranges from pop and a pinch of rock to soul and even R&B but, as lead singer Andrei Dutu said: “We kind of approach a folk genre, but in an indie way”. Errr, they already got my interest!

Being open to exploring a variety of styles is one approach they take, as Dutu added: “We are not shy about exploring music. Because creation is about exploring and we are trying to incorporate a lot of ideas from any genre that we feel that would fit and would tell our story better.” The golden rule is trying to put feelings into every sound they produce and translating them into something the audience can relate to.

They think Naked Canvases has an advantage in being international, as that means having been part of a variety of societies and countries makes it easier to approach an international audience.

WHY “NAKED CANVASES”?

One of the first things that got my attention about this band was their name – and, as I thought, the guys chose it after careful consideration. Dutu confessed there was an interesting debate around their band name. While trying to suggest an artistic perspective on music, the band name was also received with funny reactions by some: “We decided we want to become a mirror image in an artistic way. We try to show people pure emotion. So we started thinking about how we actually write music and we’ve noticed that both of us are using images when we’re trying to write music. From images, we went to painting and then I ended up thinking ‘what about canvas?’ and then the idea of Naked Canvases just came into my mind! We had a lot of comments like ‘What is this naked word, is it supposed to be dirty?’”

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Andrei Tiu added that “painting on naked canvases” is what they based their band name on because they hope the audience will picture the stories that they are telling while immersing themselves into the music.  What is more, it directly reveals what their target audience is: “We are appealing to everybody that really is a bit artsy and tries to see a bit further down in what music is and how to experience a live performance.”

THEIR IDEA OF SUCCESS?

When I asked them to tell me the top three things that make Naked Canvases stand out from other bands, Dutu pointed at himself and Tiu and said laughing “One, two…”. He then enumerated imagination, mindset and charisma, which Tiu translated as being their love for connecting with people and living and breathing their passion.

“Success means doing something that you love every day and getting better and better every day and I think that our journey goes on this path” said Tiu, while Dutu thinks that, besides this, success means becoming so influential that you get to change people’s lives.

When you first see them, you might wonder how they can deliver the unique performances they are claiming since there are only the two of them. But Andrei Dutu said it is not all about friendship: “We are two minds but we have the same goal. Starting from this, we have so much opportunity of having a certain direction and we are going to follow it without hesitation.” What’s more, even though they do consider gigging as a bigger band in the future (providing they find people as committed to their aspirations as they are and with a similar approach), they find it easier to agree on things in the current formation. They do admit having more people helping them in the studio, but they also think moving around for concerts would be more difficult if all of them were to attend live performances.  Many artists, such as John Mayer, were more efficient when not everybody was taking the decisions, but focused instead on a nucleus and had other people enhancing it. Naked Canvases aim to follow a similar pattern in their musical activity.

ONLINE PRESENCE – FROM VISUAL ILLUSION TO HIDDEN SURPRISES

Another thing that caught my eye about Naked Canvases was the photoshooting they have done to promote their band, as this photograph seemed to stand out:

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It creates a visual illusion in the way that Andrei Tiu looks like he is sitting, but he is actually laying on the ground and the photo was simply rotated. As expected, it is all part of their artsy approach and, as Tiu said, the twisted buildings’ perspective puts a further emphasis on thinking outside the box.

They also explained the #UKNakedHideAndSeek hashtag they have been posting on social media, which stands not only for the name of their summer tour, but also suggests that they are hiding surprises for their supporters and fans, who can only find out about them if they follow the band’s activity.

They haven’t announced this yet, but good news for those of you who are already interested in their activity or will be after tonight’s launch: they started recording more songs last Friday and they have an idea of what they want to put out next!