'We are living in a brutal age' An interview with Robert Nettleship

‘We are living in a brutal age’ An interview with Robert Nettleship

Kicking off No Frontiers at 1pm on Saturday 25 March is Robert Nettleship. We asked him some questions and he answered them. Here are said questions and answers…

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Robert Nettleship and I am a Composer from Nottinghamshire, who graduated a couple of years ago from Birmingham Conservatoire.  Last year I taught English as a foreign language in Vietnam and now I am trying to survive in the big wide world.

Please tell us a little about your project for No Frontiers and what is involved to make it happen.

This project is a romantic realisation of my debut album My Sweet Love that will be performed live in Brindleyplace Bandstand, Birmingham.  I will be bringing a band together from as far away as Amsterdam and Bristol to give you a once in a lifetime performance of my work. Within this project, we want to bring out the theatrical potential within the album, so to give a live and loving experience.

This year’s festival’s theme is ‘breaking down barriers with music’ – How do you think music helps to break down barriers?

Well this project is all about sharing and I have taken away the concert hall so there are literally no walls between the music and the audience’s experience. I am really happy that the performance could be seen by anyone who passes by no matter whether they are frequent concert goers or people who would not have the opportunity to see this otherwise. In a wider sense, it does not matter where you are from or who you are, we all respond to music in some way and might have a shared experience in an unexpected place.

Who do you admire artistically and in what ways do you think their work has broken barriers?

I have stages of obsessions with artists but currently my latest obsession is punk band The Fall, as I absolutely adore the abrasive vocal style of Mark E Smith over the cacophonous jumble of guitars. I love the band’s uncompromising attitude to the popular norms of their time, who refuse to conform to ‘trends’. I feel this is particularly punctuated by a relentless repetition to their music. I have also been listening to a fair bit of: Nick Drake, AMM & Ravi Shankar.

As a composer in 2017, do you feel a responsibility or particular impetus to represent or interpret current social or political issues?

As we are living in a particularly ‘brutal age’ I feel there is a definite lack of love within our societal attitudes.  Therefore, I wanted to give this public performance to anyone who happens to come across it in their daily lives to offer them some love which they can either take or reject. Within my music I feel it is important to give and so this performance is very close to my heart.

Has your work in any way been compromised by an unaccountable bureaucrat in Brussels?

Thankfully there is nothing stopping the European members of my band from travelling to the UK….for now….

An alien has landed in Birmingham, they are hungry and also in need of examples of contemporary culture to report back to their people. Where do you take them to eat and how do you entertain them?

If the alien is friendly and not trying to eat me, then first of all I would take them to Bella Italia for a slap up Italian Meal (recommending anything but Spaghetti Bolognese or Margarita Pizza). We would then go to Ikon Gallery for a wander (avoiding the Birmingham Museum due to my dance related ban). I am definitely not taking them to Birmingham Conservatoire Library 😉 (for reasons undisclosed). Following from this I would take for a trip down to Digbeth where we would perhaps grab a pint at the Spotted Dog and watch some Jazz.

Robert Nettleship and His Heartfelt Band perform My Sweet Love on Saturday 25 March at 1pm at Brindleyplace Bandstand for free.


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