Ballantine's True Music Series gives artists a global platform to express themselves unfiltered. We find out how it started and where it's going.
Recognising the intrinsic link between art and music The Ballantine’s True Music Series is an ever-evolving platform born from the brand’s ‘Artist Series’, and features some of the hottest events and collaborations in the creative industry, sitting alongside other ‘True Music’ projects such as the ongoing partnership with Boiler Room, resulting in over 20 live events and relationships with over 150 artists and musicians world wide. Giving artists limitless freedom, the series is an ongoing worldwide project that offers a unique platform for musicians and artists to share their art and work completely unfiltered.
Most recently Ballantine’s partnered with pioneering street artist Felipe Pantone on an immersive event in Russia, and previously have worked with multi-disciplinary artist Reeps One, album cover designer Leif Podhajskya and music photographer Dave Ma. And they’re just getting started. And with more global events on the horizon the future is certainly looking bright. We sit down with Ballantine’s Head of Music Tom Elton to find out what’s yet to come.
Over the last four years you’ve worked with over 150 artists from around the globe, putting on more than 20 live shows. Can you tell us a little about the True Music Series, why it has come about and what it stands for?
True Music is our global platform that we created and it’s got two reasons to why we created it, firstly it’s literally to provide a stage and a platform for authentic, original and pioneering artists, and – really importantly – the second reason is about bringing together people from different communities to experience what these artists have to share. The True Music Series is part of the platform, it’s where we use art to visualise music and it’s one of the boldest and bravest things we do. As a brand we really stand by our words and support the artists that we collaborate with, like Felipe (Pantone). We gave him our bottle to redesign as a blank canvas. And that is what the true music series is about.
What have been some of your favourite shows, special moments on this journey?
So many! The last True Music Series launched with Reeps One and Printworks was really special, where the beat boxer used his talent to visualise music and music scenes. That was an incredible one. He beat boxed and interacted with the whisky, the way the whisky was spread from the speaker was used as the inspiration behind the artwork. From a music perspective, we’ve taken our Boiler Room platform there five times. We’ve worked with some of the most amazing international and loyal artists, we’ve had Anderson .Paak and DJ Premier play there but then we’ve had the local talent, which is almost the best bit. Giving a stage to the local talent and sharing them with the world is special – like Lapti, BMB Space Kid. The Russian music scene has just got it, some of the local producers and DJs have really got something special.
What is your interpretation of the scene in Russia, what do you think is popular? What kind of trends can you see coming through?
Unfortunately there is some uncertainty around some clubs closing down but one thing that our platform has been created to do is bring people together and build a sense of community. It gives them a place to go and have a good time and listen to music from local artists. One of the reasons why we’ve partnered the True Music Series with Moscow’s Nii space and the underground record label Gost Zvuk is because that’s what they’re about – they describe themselves not as a club but as a music community. And that’s exactly what we’re about. It’s pioneering and hopefully it’s going to become more a common thing in Russia. If you’ve ever partied in Russia you’ll notice that the people are so open, they are fully committed to the dance floor! The platform is as much about the fans as is it the Russian artists and the Russians have this unique no ego attitude that’s like else in the world. That is why we keep going back.
Has there been anything you’ve had to deal with in terms of preconceptions or has it just been a pretty open platform the entire time?
Everything we do as a brand is all about being open, honest and what we are trying to do is showcase the music, art and the creative people of an area. It’s all borderless, especially in the digital age. For example, the reason that we partnered with Boiler Room is because it’s a free platform and whether you’re physically at the event or watching it online, you can see what it’s really and you can see what the local talent is like, what the atmosphere is like in the club. We are not there to solve any preconceptions we are there to give a stage to artists and a dance floor to people. Or in this case in the True Music Series we’ve given a blank canvas on a bottle to people like Felipe, just to play our part in bringing people together to experience it. For us, it’s kind of as simple as that.
How do you pick your talent?
It’s about shared values. As a brand True Music is all about being a pioneer, working with pioneering artists who are authentic, genuine artists not willing to compromise and our job is to share the greatness that they do with the world.
What’s next? Where are you guys heading?
Next we are off to Chile where Felipe is going to be doing a mural at a festival and in February we are going to finish off in South Africa where he’s working with a local artist called Kid Funk to create a True Music studio where, again, we are going to see the crossover between art and music. True Music is the delivery platform for art, and art is becoming such an important piece of experience that people expect around the world.
What are your plans for the future of the True Music Series?
True Music as a platform keeps on going! We are continuing with our Boiler Room collaboration, and we’ll be going to many new countries around the world – watch this space. Wherever we go we try and shine a spotlight on the local music scenes and communities and share it with the world.
Felipe Pantone’s artwork forms this year’s Ballantine’s True Music Series limited edition gift packaging for Ballantine’s Finest and Ballantine’s 12 Year Old, which are available globally now. To find out more about the Ballantine’s True Music Series click here.
29 November 2018