Promonews - 22nd Apr 2020

Lee Fairweather, music rep at London-based production company COMPULSORY, has been adding new skills while in lockdown: boiling a kettle without burning the water, and helping to launch an online gallery space.

compulsory.gallery has now opened, a dedicated space to see specific pieces of work - films, photography and art - that are curated by a different creative each day. Promising a mix of premieres, hidden gems and forgotten masterpieces, these artworks will only stay up on compulsory.gallery for a few hours, then replaced by the next selection, but not archived - replicating a gallery rather than a common-or-garden website.

Lee is curating his own show on compulsory.gallery today (April 22nd), presenting photos taken on Kilimanjaro, a documentary on Zambian psych rock, and a reworking of a Marvin Gaye classic. A good time to catch up with him via the Quarantine Q&A...

We noticed was how hard it was to keep track of time, so we brought that into the schedule of compulsory.gallery.

What were you working on before the lockdown? 
Putting directors and artists together. My usual process on a weekday would be speaking with our directors, photographers and our friends at labels, trying to figure out a campaign or an approach. Asking people who they are listening to, would they want to work with those artists, and how does that fit with where they want to go with their careers.

I also listen out for artists that are new and upcoming that may fit the COMPULSORY brand and align with our taste. If you find someone who you feel in your gut is going to be up there one day, we're lucky enough to know how to be a part of that and get them there. And I’ve tried to also help develop longstanding relationships between directors and artists. Magic can happen when two creatives have worked on a shared vision over time.

What are you working on now? 
Still working on those goals, but also applying the same values in an alternative way during Covid. Last week we launched compulsory.gallery, an online space where we are inviting creatives to come on board and curate an entire day of work by other musicians/directors/photographers/artists that inspire them.

This is our way of trying to do something to help right now, but using entertainment and art as a way to help combat isolation anxiety. We are using our taste-based infrastructure to create an entity for creatives to share work they are passionate about and hopefully inspire a sense of community in times where we can’t meet and discuss this stuff over a coffee.

Above: 'conversations at 3750m elevation' by Nahwand Jaff, featured in Lee Fairweather's curation on compulsory.gallery

What's the most surprising, or least predictable thing, that's happened to you during quarantine?
Not watching as many films as I thought I would. I think this is because most of the things I would usually lean towards have unintentional reminders of the reality we are in today, with some sort of epidemic subtext or reference. So I’m trying to avoid that!

What's the favourite part of your daily routine? 
Getting on a conference call with my fellow office family, seeing each other’s faces checking in and then coming up with innovative fun ideas such as compulsory.gallery. It can be difficult at this time of uncertainty to be creative working from home, but when discussing and brainstorming with the rest of the team, it feels like we are back at the office. But less croissants...

Are things getting harder/better/staying the same? 
Starting to get better now but still has its ups and downs. Some days you wake up with a routine in mind that feels more like normality. Other days you wake thinking it was all a dream.

One of the things we all noticed was how hard it was to keep track of the time. When morning becomes afternoon becomes evening. So we brought that into the schedule of compulsory.gallery. Each day the programme changes at 1pm and 6pm to help replicate breaks in an ordinary day.

Above: Lee Fairweather (left) in more social times, with Soren from directing duo Bedroom (pic: Chris Toumazou)

What have you learned about yourself during quarantine? 
I’ve learned to be way more patient and tolerable. I always appreciated seeing people and meeting up but now there’s more of an incentive to do it and not just put it off due to things in life that can actually wait. 

Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking 
While my cooking skills are improving everyday - I no longer burn boiling water - the best meal I’ve had is a takeaway from Samosa Love. Absolutely delicious in every possible way. The lamb samosa in particular with beetroot pastry certainly hits the spot and I can’t get enough of it. If you’re in South London check it out.

Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown, and why? And the worst…? 
Best thing I’ve watched while on lockdown is the doc I curated today which looks at the psychedelic seventies Zamrock scene (below). It delves into where the genre found its influences and how the Zambian artists put their own unique spin on it. I’m really into looking at what influenced certain movements and why, and this doc is super informative and full of knowledge. 

First thing that comes to mind in terms of what I’ve heard is Isaiah Rashad snippets and Stark Reality - Acting, Thinking, Feeling.

How's your Work/Life balance at the moment?
Pretty good, getting into the groove of things. And it is quite fun to find new ways of separating WFH from Home.

• Check out Lee Fairweather's selections on compulsory.gallery on April 22nd.

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    Promonews - 22nd Apr 2020

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