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Our experts tip the talents set to shine in 1998. You read it here first
Sunday 04 January 1998
Nick Barber, IoS rock critic: "I have chosen the Dust Junkys because they are a very late-Nineties sort of band: they are multi-racial, and have a DJ as well as a guitarist. I saw them supporting Black Grape and on that particular night they were better. The singer is great, like Shaun Ryder meets Buster Bloodvessel. They come across as an archetypal Manchester band. The Warm Jets will also do well. They are another guitar band, but good enough to distinguish themselves from all the others, and their singer's going out with Zoe Ball, which can't do any harm."
MANC groovers Dust Junkys follow in the Black Grape vein but also create their own sound, mixing funk, rap and big beats. Frontman Nicky Lockett is a rapper - known for his work with 808 State as MC Tunes; other members include guitarist Sam Brox, DJ and vocalist Ganiyu Pierre Gasper, drummer Mykey Wilson and bassist Steve OJ. They have supported Fun Lovin' Criminals and been compared to them, though, in truth, they are more like Stereo MCs with guitars and plenty of attitude. Earlier this month, Lockett leered to Loaded, "I look at this this way. If you end up in a hotel room with a couple of psycho chicks that's just the way things are in life." Front cover for Lockett on Loaded must surely beckon, as must celeb friendship with Howard Marks and leaving Manc roots for des res in London. Their album, Nothing Personal, is released in February.
Annalisa Barbieri, IoS fashion editor: "As I don't really go to the shows, I rang up Wendy Dagworthy, course director of BA Fashion at Central St Martins, whose opinion I really respect. She successfully predicted the rise to fame of Antonio Berardi about two years ago. This time her tips for 1998 are Matthew Williamson and Tristan Webber. Dagworthy is particularly enthusiastic about Williamson and says he has a wonderful colour feel; his clothes are very simple but he uses nice images on them. Also, she says that he hasn't gone too fast - he's started in a sensible, gradual way. He graduated in 1994 and had a very small show last year. Tristan, she says, is a more aggressive designer: very simple and clean, but he really is an excellent cutter."
DURING last year's London Fashion Week, Williamson, 25, proved his cool credentials by inviting style pundits to Ladbroke Hall in Notting Hill with an array of fashion "chums"; Jade Jagger, Kate Moss and Helena Christensen all modelled in exchange for his designs. Even though there were only 11 outfits on show and it was all over inside 15 minutes, the buying team from Saks of Fifth Avenue raved about what they saw. Williamson's signature is beaded dresses, dresses in patterns of spider's webs, dragonfly and butterfly-inspired embroidery. After setting up his own business last year, he is now selling to Browns and A La Mode, London.
Chucky, Guest List editor and Real Life clubs consultant: "Friction will be big this year - every third Friday at Bar Rumba [in London's Shaftesbury Avenue], the atmosphere is a totally hedonistic free for all and it seems to pull a great crowd. Also, watch out for Friction DJs - Adam Freeland, Rennie Pilgrem and Tayo Popoola. They are dropping electro like no one else at the moment and causing quite a stir. They experiment with break beat and electro club and they are among the first people to use a vocoder in their set. If you don't like it sweaty, there's not a lot of point going there. Also look out for Nutonik in Birmingham - it's kicking out all things experimental. Used to be monthly, now it's fortnightly because the response was so huge."
JUST when you thought block rockin' big beats were hip, they are apparently tres 1997. The "Friction Four", Pilgrem, 36, Freeland, 24, Popoola, 22, and Ian Williams, 28, are keen to get away from predictable house on the one hand and Chemical Brother-ish big beats on the other. They started out at Gossips last April and moved to Bar Rumba in August. Pilgrem has his own record label, TCR, and Freeland has recently done an Essential Mix for Radio 1. Popoola says of their Friday night Friction sound, "We were tired with the yawnsome posturing of the big beats scene and stepping over the debris of pissed up post-Oasis students scared of real hip hop." Not for Oasis and Metallica kids, then, Popoola and crew offer, he says, a "rock-friendly thrash hop, pop pap alternative".
James Rampton, Independent comedy writer: "Johnny Vegas is certainly a face to watch next year. Over-excitable critics at the Edinburgh festival were proclaiming `pottery is the new rock'n'roll' after Vegas became the latest act to make the journey from nobody to hottest ticket in town in the space of a week. A well-deserved Perrier nomination followed. His bizarre man meets-potter's wheel act is not like anything you've seen - dark, dangerous and distinctly disturbing. Naturally enough, a Channel 4 special awaits him."
VEGAS, 27, has created the perfect comedic persona for the late Nineties. On stage he is Soft Lad: sensitive yet aggressive, confident with his cheesy chat-up lines, yet paranoid and vulnerable. "You don't know what it's like to be me," he slurs to the audience at one point, then he picks on a young woman in the audience with one of his over-laden metaphors, "Love's a postman," he croons, "and you've got a vicious dog called Pride." Much has been made of his potter's wheel, which he brings on towards the end of his act. Vegas as rejected potter isn't too far from the truth: he studied ceramics at Middlesex Poly for four years. "I came away very embittered", he says, and you're not sure if he's joking or not. He cites his influences as Vic and Bob, Billy Connolly and, "Tom O'Connor; he can't be forgotten." As with Partridge and Steve Coogan, you wonder where the man ends and the persona begins.
Caroline Roux, IoS Living Review editor: "Designer Michael Young will be enormous this year. His work is going to be produced by four big Italian companies. He is completely right for the moment: very poppy, bright colours - orange, limey greens and powder blues. He designs things like sofas with holes in them. Generally, the people buying his stuff grew up in the Sixties; they have a very emotional response to it. He has the commercial potential as well as the creativity, everyone is going to know his name by the end of the year. There's also Miller Miller, a multi-media company run by a couple, Helen and Sam. They designed a Donna Karan party with something like 5,000 candles, and have just designed a new restaurant in Wardour Street."
BORN IN Sunderland, Michael Young, 31, studied furniture and product design at Kingston University where he worked with Tom Dixon (head of design at Habitat). After his degree, he was invited out to Japan by a furniture company and designed a collection which he eventually brought back to England. His designs instantly took off and he now sells through the Conran Shop and Space in Westbourne Grove, as well as many museums and galleries around the world. Asked to described his work, Michael admits, "I'm not a traditional designer, I'm a bit more indulgent. I never intended to be `of-the-moment'."
In other words, he creates stuff that interests him. Luckily, other people seem to share his taste. He believes design should be humorous, simple and accessible, never over-intellectualised. "It's not about objects you have to read a book to find out what it's about," he says. "If someone looks at something and it speaks to them visually - that's what it is about."
Victoria Lukens, Sunday Review picture editor: "I nominate Greg Williams just because he's incredibly versatile in the way he works; he's going from strength to strength. He is able to take on serious photojournalism stories that he generates himself, but he also does interesting art features: he comes back with the goods every time. He also understands what makes a good story and works himself to death. He is committed to good photography without being a photo bore. I have never worked with a photographer who is quite so energetic and enthusiastic."
Greg Williams, 25, studied photography at school followed by St Martins and the London College Of Printing. Age 19, Greg "jumped in at the deep end and went off to Burma with a friend to spend a week with Karen guerrillas photographing the war there." On his return, he sold his work to the Independent, the Guardian and Newsweek. Soon after, he was taken on by Select photographic agency and went off to photograph a drought in Zimbabwe, his work there won him Young Photographer Of The Year Ilford Awards i n 1991. Now represented by Rex Features, he works for many of the national newspapers. Williams describes himself as a social documentary photographer. "What interests me is telling stories with my pictures, capturing a moment. I like big projects. I rec ently documented someone dying of CJD, but I also enjoy lighthearted stuff, like the show-jumping bunnies story for the Sunday Review. I can put my mind to both sides. It's easy to make a situation look bad. What you strive for is to show some grace, som ething positive, especially if it's a depressing story. That's much harder."
Marek Kohn, editor of the Sunday Review's Technofile: "In terms of hypermedia, the ones to watch out for aren't the ones with the cleverest multi-media but those who have worked out a niche for themselves. That's why TMG Hypermedia have an interesting ap proach. They have got a strong political and community commitment, which they combine with their commercial work. They are diverse and they have got lots of energy. And they do a really good informative site for International Crisis Group, as well as com mercial sites. Another aspect is Brixtonia - their attempt to produce a new kind of community forum. Also, they are not afraid of ideas or words and, after all, the thing that hypermedia does best is deliver text."
Technophobes may like to know hypermedia refers specifically to hyper links - links that allow you to click onto images on a web site or in CD-Roms. It also refers to the more general use of new media and Internet design. London-based TMG Hypermediais a new media communications, consulting and production company which, according to one of their director's, Lee Bryant, "put into practice the work we were doing for other organisations". Bryant used to work as a journalist and a press officer for the Bosn ian Embassy. "A lot of my work was trying to influence policy makers and journalists using things like automated fax networks. Then, I got really turned onto the Internet." He intended to work mainly for Internet networks but became interested in commerc ial opportunities as well. Now they work with a range of companies consulting and developing information. They are also involved in non-profit research of the Internet's social potential - they are busy building up an on-line community network in south L ondon.
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe
Peter York, IoS media guru: "Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe have come on hugely over the past 18 months and people will be watching out for them this year. They have got a job that is a milestone in the life of an ad agency - winning the launch of Vauxhall Astra. They also have the idea of being an intellectual property, selling ideas and working out ways of exploiting it. That's very much in tune with the times. Then there are the things they have done that are rather cool but at scale: they inventedthe format of Miller Time, which is a pastiche of programming. They have also got plaudits for the Vauxhall launch. And they are probably the largest agency with a woman at at the helm."
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe started four years ago but really got noticed in ad land with their Miller Pilsner campaign of three-minute "mini programmes" mimicking Letterman-style chat-show. Deemed terribly postmodern, ergo ironic and cool (just right f or the "knowing" viewer primed on Larry Sanders) it led to lots of plaudits. More cool points followed for thier Virgin Cola ads and using Helen Mirren in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class campaign. The icing on the cake came last month when they won the p ounds 30 million pan-European Astra launch. Also, as York says, they are the largest agency around to have a woman in charge, though MT Rainey recently told Campaign, "It's difficult being a woman in business, it's assumed you are pushy and publicity cra zed." She would prefer to be treated as "just one among four partners".
SHANE MEADOWS and SAMANTHA MORTON
Matthew Sweet, IoS film critic: "The film actor to watch is Samantha Morton, who was the heroine of Tom Jones on TV, and stars in Under The Skin. In Tom Jones, she made her role much more raw than you'd expect: she played it as a modern form of psycholog ical torture. She's brilliant and certainly a star. She's also very Nineties: short hair and quite androgynous. Then there's director Shane Meadows who started making films when he was on the dole. He's only 24 and has made more than 20 shorts. Theyare a bit Mike Leigh but less neurotic. His work is rough in a very likeable way; it's social realism but with a very smart sense of humour and he's good on character."
"ANYONE can make a film. I have no time for moaning bastards who'd rather sit and watch taped episodes of Kilroy than do something out of the ordinary," said writer and director Shane Meadows recently. Still only 24, he is doing very nicely, thank you, w ith a first feature which has already made him an international sensation. He first started making films in 1994 when he spotted a camera crew outside a building in Nottingham. He offered to do some labouring work and they lent him a video recorder.He h as since made around 25 short films, using his mates as actors and never straying from home turf - a housing estate in Uttoxeter. His 10-minute short Where's the money, Ronnie? and 60-minute film Small Time both received rave reviews on the festivalcirc uit. This year his first big feature Twentyfour Seven, starring Bob Hoskins will be shown at the London Film Festival.
Samantha Morton, 20, like Shane Meadows, is refreshingly original because her talents have not been honed via the predictable RADA /Oxbridge route - anything but. Morton's parents split up when she was three and she spent most of her childhood in foster homes around Nottingham. By 13, she was hanging out in local clubs but, most significantly, she joined Central Television's Junior TV workshop, which helps to develop young actors. After small TV parts, she moved on to Band of Gold, playing a teenage pro stitute. Most recently, she has proved her range playing Sophie Western in Tom Jones and Iris in Under The Skin, a 19-year-old who embarks on a series of sexual encounters following her mother's death. Like Meadows, her success relies on an in-builtatti tude that anyone can do it, regardless of background or class. She recently told a magazine, "I really think it's about getting to people when they're young, telling them that they can do what the fuck they want and that they are just as bright as Billy Bloggs in Oxford - they should be told that they are bright enough to succeed."
Suzi Feay, IoS books editor: "The literary world was bemused by the news last November that Penguin had paid pounds 250,000 advance for the first novel (plus follow-up) from an unknown 22-year-old. Zadie who? And the company didn't even have a completed novel, just 100 draft pages to be going on with. This is bonkers money, and a scan through those pages at first merely increases the sense of disbelief. And yet... the multi-cultural action of White Teeth is lively, the plot is wildly ambitious, anda fr esh, vivid voice occasionally makes itself heard above the wince-making juvenility of expression. White Teeth needs work, but Smith is sassy, sussed and, at 22, has all the time in the world."
It matters little that we won't see Zadie Smith's first novel until early in 1999. She has all the prerequisites to create a media stir well before the public sees anything in print. She is young. She is also half-Jamaican and began White Teeth while stu dying for her English finals at Cambridge (she got a First). Then followed the hefty publisher's advance, negotiated by agent Georgia Garrett, head of Andrew Wylie's London bureau (clients include Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, Salman Rushdie etc). The rest i s hype not history: comparisons are already being made with Rushdie and Hanif Kureishi. Smith says of her novel, which explores several generations of three families, one Indian, one white and one mixed, "I hope it's trying to take stories back to fictio n. I'm not writing Bridget Jones' Diary. It is about storytelling. I don't think I'm similar to Kureishi, it's just a matter of geography." She clearly feels uneasy about the publicity surrounding her book deal and, at the moment, her main priority is to finish writing it. " There's an Elizabeth Hurley aspect of fame where you never do anything," she says. "You just get mentioned here and there - and that is scary." See Review, page 26
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