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Listen to What the Men Said | The McCartney Legacy Authors Discuss the First Volume of Their Series | Interview

The authors took the ‘Long and Winding Road’ down all things McCartney in this chat.

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It’s no secret that Paul McCartney is my favorite artist of all time. Many days of my childhood were spent blaring the music of the Beatles and McCartney on my little iPod touch. To this day, his CDs reside in the center console of my car. But this isn’t news to those who know me (or read our interview with McCartney’s guitarist Rusty Anderson). Suffice it to say, I was thrilled when the email for a new book, The McCartney Legacy Volume 1: 1969-1973 arrived in my inbox. I was able to chat with the authors Adrian Sinclair and Allan Kozinn about the first installment in their series. Due to the length and density of this interview, I’ll just get into it and let the interview “Take it Away.”


Coastal House Media: Thank you guys both for your time and congratulations on the book. I’m very excited to actually get to read it all. Paul McCartney is my favorite artist and I really love anybody that can nerd out about him, so I’m very excited to chat about him with both of you guys. Let me just start by asking, how do you know each other and how did you just decide to write a book together?

Adrian Sinclair: That’s a very long story. We met online through Beatles forums, so we’d known each other for quite some time. And then I conceived this project [The McCartney Legacy] — although it started off very differently from how it came out — I decided I wanted to work with an actual writer given that my background is broadcast on television. I thought: Who better to work with than a genius like Allan [Kozinn]? 

When I first started this out, it was gonna be more like Mark Lewisohn‘s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions — it was gonna be like a walk through Paul’s recorded history — but then the more we delved into the project and the further we went along the track, we quickly realized that you couldn’t separate Paul’s life from his art. It’s just impossible. The two coexist, they go hand-in-hand, so we decided really after what was the “eureka!” moment, I suppose, was when I was interviewing drummer Denny Seiwell.

We were just talking to people who’d worked with Paul in the studio; recording engineers, musicians, former members of Wings, people like that, and at the end of a Skype interview with Denny Seiwell, he said to me just very casually, “Oh, you know, when I was in Wings, my wife Monique used to keep these little diaries. I was wondering if that was something you might be interested in hearing about,” and of course, I raised an eyebrow and I said,” Yeah, we’d love to hear any information you might have in those diaries,” because obviously, it would’ve been useful for the recording sessions book as well as anything else.

Anyway, long story short, about seven hours of Skype calls later with Denny [and] we’d been through his entire time in Wings in really microscopic detail and I said to Allan at the time, “I think we’ve got more than a recording session’s book here. I think really we should be looking at expanding this and really getting the most out of the information that we’ve just been given.”

So that really was the turning point, and that’s really when it became more of a fully-fledged bio[graphy] of Paul’s life than just a recording sessions [book]. 

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

Allan Kozinn: That plus we were talked into it by Mark Lewisohn to a degree. He had wanted to know how this was going and he was visiting me at one point and we sat down and had a really long talk about the fact that there’s a need for a serious McCartney bio and [take] what we’ve been collecting and actually do it seriously as a biography, not just a sessions [book].

And so we sort of explored that with our agent and it turned out that it was a good idea. So it became what it is. 

CHM: And let me ask you guys because you are on two opposite ends of the world, how did you guys manage to work together? I feel like that has to be hard working on a book together. I don’t know if you guys are using Google Docs where you guys can both edit the same things or if you guys writing different parts of the book. 

Kozinn: It’s actually not as hard as you might think because it’s almost as if we have an open line on WhatsApp. If either of us has a question about anything, the other one is at the other end of WhatsApp and we monitor them pretty closely. No more than certainly an hour will go by, but usually, we get an immediate answer and we talk a lot on the phone and given that the major places of Paul’s career are both the United States and Britain, it’s great having one of us in each place. 

In terms of the way we’ve divided the workload into broad terms is that Adrian has been doing a lot of the interviewing and research, and I’ve been doing a lot of the writing. Adrian also has written quite a few chapters of the book and I’ve done some interviews and research as well. I mean, I have a sort of a research library of not just McCarney, but all Beatles stuff in my house here. And among other things pretty much every issue of Rolling Stone, which has been pretty handy for this project. I knew it would come in handy for some reason — I never threw any of them away [laughs] — so we’ve gone through a lot of that. 

Adrian has been in the British Library a lot spending lots of time getting things from around the world, plus our interviews. So it has all come together that way. I mean, we never decided, “You write this chapter, I’ll write that chapter,”  it’s been as we’re going along, I’ll be working on part of it and Adrian will say, “I’d like to do the chapter on the University Tour,” or whatever it is, and you know, and he would do that, and then I would look at it and sort of edit it and add things, subtract things, raise questions, or whatever and he would do the same thing with the chapters I’m writing. 

So it really is a collaboration. I’ve never written with anyone before — I’ve always been a solo — but this has worked out really, really well from my point of view. 

Sinclair: Yeah, I think like you said, the one magic thing that we’ve got is having in a way kind of works in our favor that we’re on both sides of the Atlantic because Allan has all the connections in America, and what I didn’t realize when I moved to where I live now is that there are two branches of the British Library and one of them is seven miles from my house. So I can be in the British Library in 10 minutes. So I spent an awful lot of time there.

You’ll see things like in the book, there’s a chapter about Paul and Linda going for a trip to Scotland in 1970, all of the information there came from the British Library. We knew that they were in Scotland because we’d read Paul’s Life magazine [where he] said that they’d been in Scotland, they’d been on a boat, and I went to the British Library and I took out every newspaper from every outpost you could conceive in the north of Scotland and we suddenly found this trail of breadcrumbs all the way to the Shetland Islands, and we had the entire story then. So really, it’s kind of worked well for us that we [have] this transatlantic partnership. 

And also, given the scale of this project, we kind of understand now why Mark Lewison is taking so long between volumes. There are two of us. We can divide the work, we can edit each other’s work, we can cast [a] critical eye over each other’s work whereas Mark’s working alone. So in a way, it works out quite well that we’re a partnership taking on such a big project. 

CHM: So this is Volume One, are there more to come? 

Sinclair: Right now, we’re writing Volume Two, which will take the story up to 1980, and then we think we could probably do the rest in two more volumes. I say two, just because when we started, I had lunch with our editor and she said, “How many volumes do you think there will be in total?” and I said, “Five,” and the look of horror on her face made me say, “I mean, maybe four,” [laughs] so it may be four. The thing is, the parts we’re doing now are very intensive because he’s always doing something. But from say, you know, the mid-eighties on, an awful lot of what he was doing has been touring. And while we do what we can to cover the tours thoroughly, and if there’s anything interesting that happens on any tourist stop or we write something in between shows, or whatever, we wanna have all of that, but we won’t need to describe every single show that he’s done since 1989. So we’ll be able to fit more years in a volume than we have been in this first volume.

Also, you know, because it’s the start and because it’s coming out of the Beatles and because the end of the Beatles needed some explanation too, and Paul’s position within that maelstrom, all needed to be explained a bit. And so this first one [is] only ‘69 to ‘73, but so much happens in that. I mean the text is 720 pages — I don’t know what it is with the index and everything else — and that’s with stuff cut. There’s plenty more to come. 

CHM: Let me ask both of you guys really quick, ’cause, I know you guys span five albums over the course of this book, right? Do you guys have a favorite album that you guys covered in this book?

Sinclair: That’s a really interesting one. I think when we were writing about the albums, each album becomes your favorite as you are writing about it. I developed a real fondness for Wildlife when we were writing about that and began to really appreciate some of the secret hidden nuggets in Paul’s collection, you know, like “Some People Never Know” and “Tomorrow.” I mean, if you spoke to most McCartney fans on the street, they’d never have heard of those songs, but they’re probably two of the greatest melodies that he wrote during that period. 

And then you also come away from writing about Band on the Run realizing that of all the songs on the album, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” is the greatest song on the album, which, maybe before we’d written this book, you might not have had such a deep appreciation for that song, but when you explore that as a piece of music, as a composition, it’s just stunning, you know?

So yeah, but I’d say that while we were writing the book I think Wildlife became my favorite album.

Kozinn: I think for me it was probably Ram. Although when I say Ram, I really mean Ram and about half of Red Rose Speedway because I’m thinking of the Ram sessions [laughs]. And in the Ram sessions he recorded an awful lot of stuff, a bunch of which ended up on Red Rose Speedway and a bunch of which ended up as outtakes from Red Rose Speedway, you know, [songs that he] wanted to get on Red Rose Speedway but that was when they were gonna make it a double album and it got cut down to a single album. So a lot of good stuff sort of fell out. 

But the Ram sessions, I think, were amazing. And it’s an amazing story that takes up a large chunk of the book because he was working on that from October 1970 through maybe March [or] April 1971. And it [The McCartney Legacy Vol.1] includes that whole period [where] he has to go to London for the course court case of “Paul versus the other Beatles and Apple [Records]”, he has to go again because his publisher challenged whether Linda [McCartney] helped him write “Another Day,” so it’s really an action-packed bunch of chapters, but certain things in it, those sessions like “The Backseat of My Car” and “Little Lamb Dragonfly,” especially. I knew the songs, [but] I never had really focused all that much on them. Really focusing on what made those songs tick, how they came together, how they were recorded and then what the final product was really eye-opening for me. 

And I have to admit, Wildlife was always probably one of my least favorite albums of maybe not just Paul but any [of the] former Beatles’ albums [laughs]. But like Adrian was saying, as we sort of got into looking at the recording process and the writing process of that album, a lot of it began to grow on me, especially the stuff on side two, which is where the couple of songs Adrian mentioned are from. There really is a lot of good stuff on that album that gets overlooked because its general reputation is so out there. But we’re hoping that with a lot of these things, people who like McCartney generally but haven’t really focused on everything he’s done, [that when] they read the book, they’ll have a new appreciation as well for what he’s done and how he’s done it. 

CHM: Since you guys are both experts on the subject matter, I wanna ask this question I’ve had since I was probably five years old. I grew up listening to Band on the Run a whole lot and “Jet” is one of my favorite songs of his career both solo and with Wings. The line that always drives me insane is the “suffragette” or “suffra-jet” line, and it’s always been an internal debate in my mind. What is the real line and why is it written that way?

Sinclair: I think it was probably written as a play on words. “Jet” was the name of his dog and around that time, David Bowie had “Suffragette City” out, so I’m guessing that that probably entered his consciousness through Bowie’s song. At the end of, I think the very last word in
“Suffragette City” is jet, isn’t it? “Suffra-jet,” I think it ends on. So I think that probably entered his consciousness through that. 

But that’s kind of the way that Paul’s songwriting engine worked quite a lot, you’ll see that in the book. He’ll be reading a newspaper or a magazine, or he’ll see a billboard, and all these things just kind of enter his subconscious, and then he plucks them out when he’s writing his songs. He must have an incredible capacity to absorb the world around him and then translate that into song and into music because it happens so frequently. Even with little songs like the unreleased song from the Red Rose [Speedway] era, “1882,” was all based on things he’d read in the British press about the IRA tarring and feathering traitors. So he read that in a British newspaper and then he decided to evolve that into a tale that was based in 1882. Things like that happen quite frequently with Paul and probably still to this day. 

CHM: I know you guys also kind of go deep into the recording sessions too, and I need to get into the McCartney chapter cuz I love, “Maybe I’m Amazed.” I mean, that’s a pretty well-known song, but I’m always been curious about the recording of that song. I feel like that’s one of his greatest vocal performances but when he sings that song live, even back in the seventies, he’s never been able to sing it the way he did on the album… I feel like that was almost lightning in a bottle. Does your chapter on McCartney go into that at all?

Kozinn: I think with “Maybe I’m Amazed,” one of the really interesting things about it is that when he started the McCartney album, all he had really for new stuff was two little snippets: [“Maybe I’m Amazed” and] “The Lovely Linda,” and that would be something. Neither of them were really completely finished songs, especially “The Lovely Linda.” I mean, he even said, “This is just a trailer — I’ll finish it later,” which he never did so far as we know. And then to go from there to “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which is really up there with his Beatles-era work, that was maybe a quicker recovery than people often imagined. 

And that was recorded not at home, but in the studio. So apart from it being really a full-fledged, brilliant song, he had facilities to record it that he didn’t have for the part of the album he did at home. It just sort of worked out really well that it came together during that part of the making of the album.

CHM: I want to talk a little bit about some of the, I guess “criticisms” that he’s had in the past. One of the ones that has always been fascinating to me was “Hi, Hi, Hi,” which I believe is not on Red Rose Speedway, right? 

Sinclair: It’s a single. 

CHM: So in that case, is that covered in the book? 

Sinclair: Yeah, yeah. Everything’s covered. 

CHM: Okay. I just didn’t know if songs not on an album would be included. But did “Hi, Hi, Hi” have some controversy with its lyrics?

Sinclair: Yeah, it got banned by the BBC. I mean, they wrote that song when they were just about to go on tour in the summer of ‘72, so they said basically before they went on tour, they felt like they had a gap in their setlist where they wanted a rocker. So they all disappeared after Spain and had a holiday in a villa, and what came out of that holiday was “Hi, Hi, Hi.”

So really, “Hi, Hi, Hi”  is an embodiment of the Spanish sunshine and probably a lot of pot smoking, red wine [and] Spanish tapas. So it’s got that kind of “summer-y” energy about it. But when Paul got home, he had this lyric, “I’m gonna lie you on the bed/Getting ready for my ____,” and he needed to find a word to fill in the gaps. So he plucked a lyric from a French play to slot in there and he felt that that would get past the censorship test at the BBC. But the second that they heard it, they thought the sexual content of the song was inappropriate. And after one play on BBC radio, it was banned.

Kozinn: But that was because the word he used was “polygon” and they heard it as “body gun.” I think he said in an interview later, “I actually like ‘body gun’ better,” but he was trying to come up with something that would be unobjectionable and in a way not mean anything, but mean whatever you wanna make it mean. Then “polygon,” it’s a shape. So he put that in there. 

It’s kind of interesting actually because what he was doing, and I don’t know if he did this consciously, but by making that the issue, by making it into a sexual thing that people are gonna be listening to and [asking] “Is he saying what I think he’s saying?” completely distracted them from the fact that the chorus is, “I’m going to get high, high, high,” [laughs] you know? And originally, I think when he originally wrote it down, it was [spelled] h-i-g-h and then it was changed to h-i, which, on the surface [is] kind of harmless, but it really was “gonna get high, high, high,” and it sounds like what it is, or it is what it sounds like. But having the sexual thing in there distracted the BBC from the drug issue and that was kind of funny. 

Sinclair: But I think that Paul’s problem at the time with that was I think number one on the British charts was “My Ding-a-Line” by Chuck Barry — which didn’t get banned — and the lyrics are, “I want you to play with my ding-a-ling.” He gets away with that and Paul can’t say the word “polygon” [laughs]. 

CHM: I assume that both of you guys watched the Get Back documentary last year, but did anything from that footage in the series play a part in this book at all? Or was the book finished by then? 

Kozinn: Well it was finished by then, but there was a long editorial process, so we were able to go back and there are certain things like the meeting with Dick James, where he comes in with a publishing catalog that he has bought on behalf of John [Lennon] and Paul. So Northern Songs, which we think of as the publishers of the Lennon-McCartney catalog, actually own some other catalogs. To most people watching Get Back, that was just like, Okay, who cares? but we care because Paul later went into buying publishing catalogs and this was sort of an interesting moment where you see in that conversation, Paul is saying, “We own all these and what are the titles?” and he’s going through the list of titles. He’s obviously quite interested in it and he always gives credit to the Eastmans, his in-laws, for persuading him to buy publishing companies as an investment.

It goes back earlier than that, obviously. The Eastman’s advice there was kind of crucial to Paul’s fortune, let’s say. I mean, he’s done extremely well with that advice, but it wasn’t totally out of the blue. He already knew a bit about buying publishing companies and owning publishing companies other than his, so that was an interesting moment that we ended up adding to the book. 

Sinclair: We were advised by our editor [that] when Get Back came out to revisit the chapters that we’d written which discussed the [Let it Be] sessions. I think essentially what we’d written didn’t change a huge amount, did it? There were a few factual things we were able to smooth out, thanks to Get Back, but there were also a few things that caused a bit of a problem for us. There’s something in the Get Back film where Paul’s sitting at the piano and he says, “I wrote this song morning,” was that “The Back Seat of My Car” [or] “Another Day,” Allan?

Kozinn: I think it was “The Back Seat of My Car.”

Sinclair: And he says, “I wrote this song this morning,” but actually, the song that he then played was an edit; so that actually happened 15 minutes later. So some people might watch the Get Back film and think that Paul wrote “The Back Seat of My Car” that morning, but that wasn’t the case. So we had to revisit some of the original audio as well to make sure that those things were accurate. 

Kozinn: We have all the Nagras, so we could check if he says, “I wrote this this morning,” and sits down and plays it, whether that really happened that way or it didn’t. And he actually had played some other song that never became a full-fledged song. It might have been “Another Day,” actually, I can’t remember, but either “The Back Seat of My Car” or “Another Day” happened [about] 15 minutes later. 

It’s a great documentary. I love Get Back. But if you’re writing a book based on that, you have to be really careful and go back to the original audio recordings to find what actually happened. The one great thing about Get Back was that we’d been listening to these Nagra audio recordings for decades and what you imagine is happening is quite different from what you see happening in the Get Back film. 

Listening to the Nagras I’d have thought that for most of the sessions, John has just sort of slumped in [and out of] his chair, absolutely not interested. You look at the Get Back film, he’s there, he’s on, he is interested and the audio is the same, but when you add a picture, it gives you a completely different perspective.

CHM: Looking ahead at the next book, since this one cuts off at ‘73 and in ‘75 was the “Wings Over Europe Tour,” I forget what the actual tour was called. But then Wings went on a big world tour then, right? This is my interpretation of it, but it felt like Paul kind of resisted some Beatles stuff. I know he played a few songs in ‘75, but it seems like in ‘79, he started opening up a little bit. That’s where “Let It Be” started being played a little bit. I’m just curious if the next book will kind of tackle any of that. 

Sinclair: Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot about that recently because one of the keys to our project, to not only understanding the story but getting the story as accurately as possible is to find interviews from as close to the time as possible. So when we’ve got Paul talking about writing songs, we go as close to the time as we can get music for us, magazines, anything we can get our hands on where he is talking about songs. When it came to the “Over the World” tour, we actually have Denny Laine to thank for that. 

What happened in 1975 was that they were round at Paul’s house in London and they were jamming in Paul’s back garden and they started to jam some Beatles songs. Denny Laine was pushing Paul in that direction. Paul was always opposed to it. He didn’t want to do it on the ‘72 tour or the ‘73 tour, even when it was suggested to him because it felt too close. I think he still had a few wounds from the breakup of the Beatles. And then, yeah, Denny Laine persuaded him [on] the ‘75-’76 tour that he should embrace the music that he’d written with the Beatles. And that’s why they introduced a few numbers on that big tour. That’s probably the reason why that tour was so successful. Not only did he have a great catalog of songs at that time that he’d written with Wings and solo but he delved into his Beatles catalog as well. And really, that’s kind of what the audience came along to hear. 

And Paul was the first to admit that in interviews at the time. He’d say that he almost felt embarrassed that people just wanted to come to see him rather than Wings. But really, when you’re Paul McCartney and you’ve been in a band as big as the Beatles, that’s what people come to see. They don’t come to see Joe English or Jimmy McCulloch, or maybe to a lesser extent they might come to see Denny because Denny’s got some big songs, but they came to see Paul. So yeah, the world has Denny Laine to thank for that and to this day Paul still plays some of those songs in concert that he did in ‘75. He played some of the songs he played in ‘75 at Glastonbury —  so that has had a ripple effect through five decades. 

Kozinn: There is another factor that goes back to the era of our book, which is that Paul’s big issue in 1969 with the Beatles was them engaging Alan Klein as the manager. Alan Klein’s contract ended in ‘73. So in ‘73, he still wasn’t playing Beatles things with Wings. But on the James Paul McCartney television show, he played “Yesterday” [and] he played “Blackbird” at the live concert that’s at the end of that show in the full recording of it. Wings did a version of “The Long and Winding Road,” [that] didn’t make it to the TV special. They also played it that night at what became their London debut at Hard Rock Cafe. It was a charity show late at night, so he began opening up at least psychologically a bit after Alan Klein’s contract was not renewed by George, Ringo and John. He also began talking [about] the constant interview question of: Will the Beatles get back together? [which] at first was just sort of brushed aside, and then it began after 1973 becoming, sometimes, “No, we’re not gonna do that,” and sometimes, “Well, you never know. We might,” [laughs] so it became a little confusing for the other members of Wings, too, hearing him say, “Well, yeah, I might do something with the Beatles again,” you know?

So there are the roots of that. It had also something to do with Kline being out of the picture. 

CHM: One feature I love with the McCartney “Archive” reissues are the bonus tracks which range from radio edits to demos. I feel like McCartney seems more open about releasing that stuff than other artists — take U2, a band I love, for example — but is there a reason for this?

Kozinn: McCartney’s reissue series has varied over the years — some have more outtakes and demos than others, and I think that has to do with a number of things, including when in the series you’re looking at (the early issues didn’t have much in the way of outtakes or demos; later ones like Flowers in the Dirt had plenty), as well as what exists in the archives for each album. Compared with what’s available on bootlegs, he has actually offered relatively little, and we know of quite a few things in his archives that remain entirely untapped. There was a 30-plus song demo tape from Spring and Summer 1970 – before he left for New York for the Ram sessions – that he has released none of. And there are four-track demos for Band on the Run, made before Denny Seiwell and Henry McCullouch quit, that I’d love to hear.  

I once had a discussion with him about outtakes and bootlegs, and it was interesting: he said he likes bootlegs, but he had some real misgivings about releasing that material officially because he’s afraid it will muddy the waters for young listeners who don’t know the official discography yet. I said what seemed logical to me — that there would be liner notes in which everything would be explained. But he pointed out that when the outtake versions are played on the radio, the deejay is not going to read the liner notes, and someone listening could easily walk away from hearing an outtake thinking that it was the finished version. And since he works quite hard to make the finished versions finished, he is reluctant — or was at the time of that interview, which was 1990, well before the Beatles Anthology and most of his archival sets — to release the unfinished versions. 

Sinclair: Oddly enough, Paul is not known for including bumpers crops of outtakes in his archives sets, but his box sets are getting better (all the time). McCartney’s early archive box sets didn’t harbor many bonus tracks, but Paul has included more media in his reissues since he re-signed with Capitol Records (the first deluxe sets were issued on Concord Records — part of the Starbucks group). Paul has never been a big fan of outtakes, his view is that outtakes didn’t make the album for a reason, this is likely why some of his reissues may appear thin when compared with, say, Bob Dylan who puts out every take of every song he has ever recorded in his deluxe sets. All that said, the recent Capitol Records books have been much richer in content – the early mix of “Wild Life” that dropped in 2018, for example, was sublime.

CHM: Rapid fire question for both of you guys before I let you go: now that we’re almost 50 years removed from all that, do you think if all four members of the Beatles were still alive, do you think they would’ve reunited and played a show or reunited in some capacity?

Sinclair: Yeah, definitely. 100%. 

Kozinn: They might have reunited around the time of the Anthology to do something. Maybe [the] “Free As a Bird” [sessions], or something else. Whatever they had to do. But they might have reunited for a recording. I doubt they’d have given a concert. I don’t know.


The McCartney Legacy Volume 1: 1969-1973 is available now. For more information, click here.

FILM RATING

Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Charlie Michael Baker: Journey of Autism, Social Media and Working with Kylie Jenner (EXCLUSIVE)

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Charlie Michael Baker and Kylie Jenner

At just 17, Charlie Michael Baker is giving his all to change the world. Baker is a renowned author, entrepreneur, actor, and journalist and he is on a mission to help millions of people suffering from autism. Charlie Michael Baker previously told Costal House Media he raised over £400,000 to help people with autism. He faced many challenges since childhood but his determination and perseverance were the key to his success.

Baker is a Social Media sensation with over 1.2M followers on Instagram. Charlie Michael Baker is one of the many influencers being bullied on social media every day. He receives 300-500 rape and death threats daily!

Charlie Michael Baker

Charlie Michael Baker

We had the honor to connect with Charlie Michael Baker. You can read our conversation below.

Nikita Pahwa: Congratulations on launching your new book! What can you tell us about it?

Charlie Michael Baker: So my new book is about social media, specifically, the dangers of social media. All young kids now want to grow up and be ‘famous’ but don’t know the bad side of it all. I was one of those kids, I’d always wanted to be famous, it’s something I’d always dreamed of!

NP: How do you deal with death and rape threats?

CMB: The short answer is, I don’t, really. I stopped reading my DMs a few months back because of it all. I don’t deal with negativity and there’s too many trolls to block each and every one, so they all just get ignored.

Charlie Michael Baker Social Media and I

Charlie Michael Baker Social Media and I (Photo: @kaybeephotography2 on Instagram)

NP: What advice would you give to people in similar situations?

CMB: I’d say don’t listen to them, do what I do and just don’t read them. It’s better that way. What you don’t see can’t hurt you!

NP: If you could say one thing to people sending you threats, what would it be?

CMB: Without ruining my career *lol* I’d say just to be a bit kinder. If there’s something going on in your life that you’re not very happy with, ask someone for help. Speak to someone you trust rather than swaying to a life of being a keyboard warrior. It’s not nice!

NP: Is your new book related to Charlie Baker: Autism and Me?

CMB: It is! It will be written in the same – ish way BUT Charlie Michael Baker Social Media And I will be exclusively E – book sold on my website charliembaker.net.

NP: Are you currently working on a new venture with Kylie Jenner?

CMB: I am! We’re working with the same brand – glow beverages. We’re working alongside an NBA star too whose name I cannot remember for the life of me – oops lol.

Kylie Jenner and Charlie Michael Baker

Kylie Jenner and Charlie Michael Baker

NP: Are you planning to collaborate with more celebrities in the future?

CMB: I love working with celebrities. Mostly just to see what they’re like to be honest. Kylie is so nice though honestly I keep messaging her life updates!

NP: Last question, is it true that you’re working on the Charlie Baker: Autism and Me movie? Are we going to see it on the big screen?

CMB: Yes, it is! I’m filming something very very special this year with Creation Media 22 which should appear on Netflix and Prime Video which is so exciting! It will be my first time in front of an actual TV camera so it’s a bit different to daily vlogs!

You can get your Charlie Michael Baker Social Media And I E-copy on March, 1 for £0.01 (yes, a penny!). Get your Charlie Baker: Autism and Me copy on Amazon.

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Interviews

INTERVIEW | ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ Stars Brandon Soo Hoo and Leah Lewis Discuss Representation, Positivity, and the Power of Belief

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Tiger's Apprentice
Tiger's Apprentice (Paramount+)

Paramount’s latest animated flick ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ has finally been released and garnered positive response from everywhere. Adapted from Laurence Yep’s beloved children’s book series, ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ brings to life the thrilling journey of Chinese American teen Tom Lee (portrayed by Brandon Soo Hoo). He is suddenly thrust into a realm he once believed existed only in bedtime tales. After a tragedy strikes his family, the young man discovers his identity as a Guardian. Subsequently, he is mentored by the mystical Tiger Hu (played by Henry Golding) to confront the evil Loo (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh). In between all this chaos, he develops a special friendship with a girl named Rav (played by Leah Lewis) who helps him in defeating the villain and saving the world.

It is one of those films that you can enjoy with your family. It is tender, beautifully crafted, and encourages you to think about how traditions play a crucial role in everyone’s lives. In this exclusive interview, Brandon Soo Hoo and Leah Lewis share their perspectives on the film’s themes, the significance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in media, and the impact of portraying multi-dimensional characters. The actors delve into the importance of maintaining positivity in the face of adversity, believing in oneself, and breaking stereotypes in the entertainment industry. From challenging outdated narratives to normalizing cultural heritage, Brandon and Leah express their excitement for viewers to experience the film’s adventurous and tender journey of self-discovery.

Tiger's Apprentice

A still from ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ (Paramount+)

Aayush Sharma: ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ is a mixture of so many great things love, care, culture, and family. But for you guys, what was the one thing that made you relate to this story and made you proud? And why do you think that particular thing is so important for people to see?

Brandon Soo Hoo: One of the favorite things that I related with my character was Tom has uncanny ability to maintain a positive outlook when things get really tough. And so, you know, he’ll drop in a humorous little quip here and there in the face of adversity. I think that’s such a powerful way to confront anything challenging because life isn’t that serious. And, if you really lean into the negative, and if you really lean into the dark side, I feel like it can really corrupt and taint you. I believe maintaining that light and positivity around you is like the ultimate protection that you have, from the dark stuff when life kind of gets you down. Because if you let life get too dark, then you won’t let enough of your inner light kind of radiate outwards and do what it needs to do. So, you know, hold on to your light, hold on to the positivity. I feel like it’s contagious. It’s very, very healing.

Leah Lewis: I think, for me, one of my favorite things about this film that I would take away, is really learning how to believe in yourself. And I know that’s such a simple statement, but it’s a big loaded one for me. I really feel like when it comes down, to believing in yourself, it’s the things that you care about, the people you care about, where you came from, where you’re going. You see this character, Tom, struggle with believing in himself in any aspect. I think that’s really important too. And I think, when you can believe in yourself too and present yourself, honestly, and vulnerably, that’s also when you find other people who are right for you in your life. You see Tom eventually learns how to be himself, and because of it, he fits into this Zodiac and kind of ends up finding a community that he never would have expected. So, I think that aspect is important for me.

AS: So, you know, besides showing so many great things, this is also an Asian story. The characters, the cast, the makers, and most of the people involved in this project, have an Asian background. But you know when we see the entertainment industry, we still see a lot of talented Asian actors stuck in a kind of stereotype. And they are cast in one kind of role. For you guys, how does Asian representation in movies intersect with a broader discussion about diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry?

BS: I mean, it’s 2024, we’re past the era of having Asian people playing just submissive roles or playing like the tech support. I think that right now is like a renaissance for Asian entertainers and Asian artists to showcase that we are multi-dimensional people, that we can be the hero, we can be the cool guy. It’s all that stuff is like, we’re really seeing Asians being at the forefront of stories like that. And it’s so important because growing up, if you don’t see all of those things represented in media, it’s kind of hard to feel like, you can see that in yourself. So, it’s almost like this conditioning that we received from a really young age. So right now, we’re trying to reverse engineer all of that by showing you can be the hero of your own story, you know, you can save the day. And you could be more than just like whatever aesthetic or face that people want to put on you. You can kind of step out of those boundaries and as a human being, you can do whatever the heck you want. So, I think that it’s so important for us to be able to share with you all.

Brandon Soo Hoo (@brandonsoohoo/Instagram)

LL: I agree, I think, we’re living in a day and age where we’re moving towards a place where representation isn’t such a flashy, flashy thing. It’s a necessary and needed thing that should already be kind of embedded into our society. So, it’s a huge win for the AAPI community any time there’s an API lead or like, especially something like this film where it’s completely eccentric. But I also think the more and more we start to see those projects, like, it’s important to be able to normalize the difference in all these characters. You know, when I also look at, the list of like, Caucasian actors, I can think of an actor for every kind of character. I’m like, oh, yeah, I know, this actor played that, and this and that. But you know, for Asian, that’s been a long time coming, where it’s like, oh, it’s only Michelle Yeoh, who plays that or like, you know, we have the designated person who plays the geek or the kind of hero or like the dark character. And what’s so cool about this film, too, is like, Tom is just, he’s a cool, regular guy who hails from Chinese American culture. This film shows heritage and culture in a way where it’s so normalized, and just so kind of nuanced. I feel like that sense of representation is so cool for the people at home who are like, hey, casually, I like this guy, or I know those kinds of traditions, and I love the way he builds in this theme because I feel that way. I don’t know, I just, I also wish I had something like this growing up too. But like, now is the best time to see people that look like you, speak like you, or act like you on screen. It really recovers that belief in yourself that things are possible for you. Like we all watch TV. We all care about these characters to feel seen and feel like you know, you have a voice out there somewhere. There’s nothing better than that feeling. So, I hope that this film does that for a lot of people to me.

AS: You guys are working with such huge stars. Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, Henry Golding, and more. What was your reaction when you heard these guys will be in the movie?

BS: Man, I mean, the reaction was and still is just like, almost like a surreal disbelief. I was like, these are people that I watched growing up when I was little, I was like, dang, these are some huge Asian names. They are the biggest names in our community. So yeah, I told my parents immediately about, like, who’s going to be in the project, and we all just like giggled about it together. So, I think just immense pride. It’s such a celebration, and it’s such a win, not just for me and my career, but it’s such a celebration for the Asian community. It’s like, man, look at all of us, like, together just being badass Zodiac warriors.

LL: I felt the same way. I mean, honestly, I tend to do this thing to where if someone tells me like this person is who you’re working with. I’m just like, wait, what? And I’m still like that, you know, like when we were able to even see Sandra Oh, at the premiere of like, let’s go, oh, my God, like, that’s really freakin’ cool. It’s also just like, I think it’s a really proud moment to finally see all different generations of AAPI actors coming together on one screen and to be able to see that there is space for more than just one or two. This whole cast is like a chock filled with it. And everyone is so talented, it’s been an honor. I’m really proud to be a part of it.

Leah Lewis and Sandra Oh

Leah Lewis and Sandra Oh (@leahmlewis/Instagram)

AS: The film has finally been released and it has opened to great reviews. If anyone hasn’t seen the movie, what’s your advice to them? And why should they watch ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’?

BS: What do you what are you waiting for? Get in there. Watch this movie. It’s special, it’s beautiful. There’s something in there for everybody. And yeah, I think you’re really missing out on something that’s, that’s really beautiful and important. So go check it out. I hope they get to watch it with your family because there are a lot of beautiful lessons in there to share. So, go go check it out. You have to.

LL: It’s like, it’s a cool, like, genuinely cool. It has Steelo to it. Adventurous, tender film about finding yourself and I know we all want to do that. So, you should totally watch it and I hope you find a bit of yourself in this cool tender film.

‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ is currently streaming on Paramount+.

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Interviews

INTERVIEW | Sarayu Blue Dives Deep into ‘EXPATS’ Journey with Cultural Authenticity and Emotional Depth

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Sarayu Blue stars as Hilary Starr in Lulu Wang's 'EXPATS' (@sarayublue/Instagram)

After taking the world by storm with ‘The Farewell,’ director Lulu Wang is back and this time, she has taken her storytelling prowess to the small screen. Her series, ‘EXPATS,’ is a story mainly about three women trying to overcome guilt and grief in the most authentic way possible. The very first frame of the series encourages viewers to take a remarkable journey into the lives of characters that are connected in one way or the other. Nicole Kidman portrays Margaret in the series while Ji-young Yoo plays Mercy. Both stars have given spectacular performances in the six-part series, but one actor who has managed to nab all the attention is none other than Sarayu Blue, who plays the role of Hilary.

At first, Hilary seems to be a no-nonsense woman who has moved to Hong Kong to make strides in her professional life. She does brilliantly professionally, but her personal life is in a bit of turmoil. Her marriage is not going well, her best friend seems to have lost almost everything, and she is overburdened with the pressure of becoming a mother. Wang knows how to extract a powerful performance from an actor and Sarayu is no different. Sarayu’s portrayal of the character is truly magnificent, capturing Hilary’s frustration and compassion with authenticity on screen. I sat down (virtually) with Sarayu Blue and discussed several aspects of her character in the Prime Video series. The actress opened up about how she learned Punjabi to make her character more authentic and also, how South Asian parents show love most uniquely.

Sarayu Blue in a still from ‘EXPATS’ (Prime Video)

Aayush Sharma: Congratulations on the series. It’s getting such beautiful reactions. Your character is written so beautifully, but Lulu Wang made some alterations to your character’s journey in the series, particularly regarding her approach to motherhood. So, how, as an actor, approached the shift in your character’s arc? And what kind of discussions have you had with Wong regarding these changes?

Sarayu Blue: Actually, the changes had already happened before I came. Because in the book, Hillary is not written South Asian. And so that was one of the changes. And so, when I auditioned, it was already South Asian, of course. I think when I got on board, I was able to read all the scripts, and I just devoured them. I mean, in one sitting, it was like, you know, I couldn’t get enough. It was such an exciting experience to see this South Asian woman who’s so human, she’s so layered and complicated, and messy, and real, and beautiful, and funny and vulnerable, and raw and hurting. And so, then it just became the biggest gift I could ever imagine.

AS: One of the best things about your character was her backstory, and showing the kind of Sikh family she was born into. But what was that one thing that you wanted viewers to see in your character to understand why Hillary sees the world in the way she does? Also, how challenging was it for you to learn the Punjabi language to make your character sound more authentic?

SB: I’m so thankful to our team and our wonderful consultant, Inder, who was like the most patient and kind human. I kept reciting it repeatedly, because somebody who speaks Telugu, and I’ve tried to teach people Telugu, pronunciation is everything. It’s everything, along with the accent, and every emphasis that matters so much. So, I was so thankful for that support. Also, Sudha (Brinder) speaks Punjabi, so I had Masters constantly working with me, and I was so thankful. Meanwhile, I think as far as the view that Hillary has, or what was important to me, it was important to see the hurt for both Brinder and Hilary. You know, what I love about the dynamic you see in Episode Four is you really see that they’re both hurting, and there’s aggression because that’s how we speak to each other. (laughs) I mean, that part is so universal, because my mother and I have a very contentious love. But, you know, that hurt underneath, and the vulnerability underneath is why it feels so real. And that representation of that specific dynamic was very important to me.

AS: Yeah, I mean, I can understand as an Indian, I know the kind of relationship that we share with our parents. I mean, they would just bash us, and then say that’s how we show our love for you. That’s, that’s our love. (laughs)

SB: I said to my dad, my dad was calling. I was FaceTiming with him, and he said, ‘So what are you doing? Are you doing anything interesting?’ I said, ‘I’m just doing a lot of press for this show. Remember that show? I did EXPATS? And he said, ‘I remember that.’ He added, ‘So nothing. You’re not doing anything.’ (laughs) But I get it.

Sarayu Blue with Sudha Bhuchar and Jennifer Beveridge (@sarayublue/Instagram)

AS: Your Punjabi was so amazing in that scene because I’m a Punjabi and when I was hearing that conversation, I had to pause the episode and go to the internet to see if you had any Punjabi roots because your accent was so authentic.

SB: Let me tell you how much that means to me because it’s the most important thing for me. Because Telugu is not easy to speak. It’s not, and I was raised by a Telugu professor and a Telugu short story writer. Also, I’ve tried to teach Telugu to somebody, and if it doesn’t sound right, it won’t feel good. That’s why it’s all I wanted to show. You must speak the language with the right pronunciation. That’s very important.

AS: Now that EXPATS has premiered three episodes on Prime Video and receiving so much love. But for those who haven’t started the series, what would like to tell them and why they should be watching this show?

SB: I am so honored to be in this show. I really am. I get goosebumps even talking to you right now, seeing you smile, and having this conversation. I want people to watch the show for everyone. There’s so much good talent in this show. You know, Sudha who plays Brinder is extraordinary. Kavi Raz, who plays my dad in Episode Six, is brilliant. You know, all these actors, Ruby Ruiz, Ji-young Yoo, Brian Tee, there’s so much brilliance that I hope people just watch and realize how many actors of color are getting to do amazing work. It feels like a dream. But, of course, there’s so much to see in this show, you know.

Cast of ‘Expats’ with director Lulu Wang at the premiere. (Getty Images)

The first three episode of ‘EXPATS’ are currently streaming exclusively on Prime Video.

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