Making It: Caleb Femi and the Power of Words
Why do people create and how do they do it? Shure has partnered with Mixcloud, an online platform dedicated to long-form audio, to speak with innovative emerging artists from around the globe for the new multimedia series MAKING IT.
For the first episode, Mixcloud caught up with Caleb Femi, a poet, filmmaker and photographer from South London.
Named the city's Young People's Laureate in 2016, Femi draws on his background and experiences growing up in the British capital to fuel his art and push the boundaries of youth culture in the UK. The Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature and St. Paul's Cathedral have all commissioned the 28-year-old's poetry. He has also written and directed short films for the BBC.
"I'm a big fan of music, but lyricism – I love that more," says Femi explaining his passion for the spoken and written word. "I would describe myself as someone who likes to tell stories. Through poetry, through photography and film."
In the podcast, he explains his motivation for documenting experiences and moments, both sad and happy.
"Most of my poems are very personal. So people can understand not just what happened – but how it felt," Femi says. "Even if they don't find commonality with it, at least understand this version of life existed at one point."
Femi's fascination with words started early on: He remembers being 10 or 11 and saving up money for a Walkman. Listening to his sister's cassettes, he would transcribe songs with particularly good lyrics: "I remember copying out a specific song of Oasis and thinking these guys are amazing."
Then he turned to London's rap scene for inspiration, including local hero Giggs. "He put into perspective the experience we were all living but in such a poetic way," Femi says.
Though he often takes on a specific perspective with his work, the format doesn't matter so much as long as his ideas are being released into the world.
"Technology is really central to every medium of art that I'm involved in," he explains. "With poetry, a lot of people have this perception that you write with a quill and paper like Shakespeare. The writing often happens either on my laptop or phone. I've got a mic I can plug on my iPhone. So even on the go, I can do it."
He says, however, that writing doesn't make up the biggest part of his creative process. Instead, he puts considerable time into revising his poetry. "I used to wait for those moments of illumination, wait to be inspired – but it doesn't work like that," Femi says. "The biggest element is the editing. That's when you're constantly improving the work until you feel it's at a good enough stage."
Intent on bringing poetry to new and unexpected places, Femi envisions one day filling an entire stadium for a performance immersing the audience in sounds, images, and, of course, words.
"I've got this idea of a stadium at night, with multiple screens," he says. "For people who don't normally get to experience art, who don't get opportunities to go to galleries."
Listen to the full podcast below.
MAKING IT explores the creative process of emerging artists in LA, Tokyo, Berlin and London. The four-part series can be found in its entirety on Mixcloud.
MAKING IT was recorded exclusively with Shure MOTIV microphones. This range of digital mics enables content creators to capture professional-quality audio using iOS and USB devices.