Noel Clarke knows talent when he sees’s it. He’s singlehandedly spawned a whole generation of new acting talent via his debut movies Kidulthood (2006) and Adulthood (2008). Keen not to be stereotyped as the urban movies man, he always keeps his personal portfolio diverse with his roles in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Doctor Who, Star Trek and more.
After setting up a genre of movie that has many pretenders to the throne and launched acting careers for numerous young urban talent, he proved he is much more than an urban film innovator by continuing to make movies that are diverse covering a multitude of subjects. From storage units in Storage 24, young Olympian athletes in Fast Girls, a heist movie with 4,3,2,1 and more, he’s also acted on the stage, won the Laurence Olivier Award for “Most Promising Newcomer” in 2003 for his performance in the play Where Do We Live at the Royal Court Theatre, won the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer in 2003 and was awarded a BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award in 2009.
For all this accolade he remains a humble figure, who is loud and boisterous in groups of friends, but consciously stays away from the surface glamour and glitz of London’s celebrity parties and red carpets.
This week in an uber trendy west London pub, Clarke – actor, screenwriter, director, and hero to thousands of young film makers- also added Record Label Head to his resume. Always keeping things close to his west London roots, Noel threw a showcase at Ladbroke Grove’s infamous Elgin pub for his latest signing Jamie Joseph. Always ahead of the trend curve and known for it, meant that a lot of notable UK music industry key influencers and power players turned out to hear what Jamie could bring.
Noel has been quietly opening minds and launching new faces into the UK entertainment industry for a while, and now his music label Unstoppable has launched with two new acts. Jamie Joseph and a south London rap act TZY.
JASMINE WITH NOEL CLARKE’S MUSIC ACT TZY.
Noel told me why he decided to branch out into music and how the opportunity came about.
‘’Music is something I’ve always been into. When I used to watch American films like Deep Cover, and Boyz in the Hood back in the day, you would always get your film and a great soundtrack. When Huds (director Menhaj Huda) and I did Kidulthood we wanted to make sure we copied that format. Moving on to Adulthood, we had Tinchy and Chipmunk on the soundtrack. We had Plan B on both the Kidulthood and Adulthood soundtrack, long before people realised he was as great as I knew he was. Eliza Doolittle is in the Adulthood soundtrack, years before she, really popped, although her and her manger act like I’m shit on their shoe now. Anyone who knows, knows I was backing that talent from way back, All this culminated in my thinking I should have a label, and here we are’’.
Highlighting again and again that social media is changing the world and the way business is done, Jamie clarified how he got in touch with Noel.
‘’It all came through twitter .I was told by a friend, that there was a post they came across involving a company looking for artists material to use in different areas of entertainment. After I posted my bits (film and music consultant and A&R) Martyn Berg instantly replied and asked if I was being managed and we discussed details. From that, we’re here! Mad!!’’
Jamie doesn’t underestimate how important Noels co-signing is to any new up and coming talent ‘’Obviously what Noel has achieved already in his career is a testament to his strong personality. We’ve had passing talks of ventures and avenues I might be able to be involved in but I am concentrating on my music, as it is my main goal in life’’.
Jamies single ‘’But You’’ has been causing a buzz on the streets, at nightclubs and pirate radio stations. Produced by Baby J – (producer to old skool hip hop acts like Skinnyman)- it’s a catchy feel good soulful song that sticks in the brain like the best hum-along melodies.
Baby J explained what was it about Jamie that struck him as different.
‘’ I had got to the stage where I had lost faith in the UK black music scene a little, around the time the whole ‘urban pop’ thing happened and had pretty much stopped producing, a year or so later I decided I wanted to make a soul album that sounded like the soul tracks we’d sample for hip hop and started to look nationally for a singer. After being in talks with a couple of singers from Birmingham and London a friend directed me to Jamie who was right on my doorstep but strangely I had never heard of. As soon as I heard him I knew he had something special, he was a perfect singer in his delivery, there where bits that where out of key and strained, but there was just something special about his tone that made him sound unique, his melodies and vocal ideas were original and really good too. I meet dozens of singers every month, many of whom are much better singers than Jamie from a technical point of view, but Jamie has a real character and honesty to his voice, imperfections and all, and that is what all those old soul records were about, honest performances’’.
Jamie Joseph (Born March 5th, 1990, Normanton, Derby) is a real music act in the way Ed Sheeran is. He’s a singer that knows music and isn’t cut from boy band styled and groomed to within an inch of his life by a glam squad. He comes from a very multicultural, rough area and acknowledges this is an advantage. ‘’My mum worked 2 jobs because my Dad lost his leg before I was born. But he did all the picking us up, dropping us off, school runs, cooking and cleaning and that. He is the main source for my vast musical palette. I grew up around a lot of different cultures and I think it’s the main reason why I’m so adaptable. I have many different friends of many different cultures and I think it shows in my band too’’.
Like many young music fans Jamie cites acts like Michael Jackson and other Motown artists like, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson as inspirations but adds ‘’but I am very eclectic. I listen to all genres. So Meat Loaf, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Queen, Nas, Biggie, The Carpenters… I could go on….’’
One observation most in the UK music industry would agree on is that ‘its tough to make it in music in the UK unless you’re from London. The out of towners like Craig David and Oasis from Southampton and Manchester have to fight to be spotted early in their careers, and are very few and far between in the British charts. Jamie hails from Derby up north but thinks not being a Londoner is ‘’No pressure at all. I feel that because I’m from a small city outside of the capital I’ve been able to home in on my talents and keep a humble warm feeling in my personality and my music. I’m confident and believe in myself completely but when people complement me, that’s when you see me blush’’.
There are no official album release dates for Jamie yet but knowing Noel he wont be doing anything that sticks to the old tried and tested music industry status quo. Asked about a potential album title Jamie laughs ‘”Hit the ground Running” seems fitting!’’
After a red hot set of tracks which saw Jamie show off not just his vocal gymnastics but his clearly dynamic, punchy attitude, Noel had the final word ‘’You never know who’s going to make it in any career, there are many many many factors, but I have belief in these two, I believe in their talent and as long as the bosses want them we’ll work on making them the best artists we can so their careers can flourish, We have plans and hopefully with Jamie Joseph and TZY we can make that happen’’.
In a world where successful people try their hand at complimentary industries this isn’t an unusual move. After all, rap stars and music acts set up clothing brands and restaurants regularly. Actors like David Hassellhoff and Kylie once tried singing. Richard Branson can juggle music, fitness and travel brands. Noel Clarke was once annoyed that young black talent couldn’t get access to the big screen so he made it happen himself and now is silently making moves that are setting up a new working blueprint in the music and movie industry. His hustle is to be watched and admired.
To stay connected to Noel Clarkes two music signees check out @jamiejoseph and @tzyworld.