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Thursday August 8, 2013

Expats driven by Example

One might expect that the least likely haunt for a convening of middle-aged expats in Majorca would be a hip music venue known as Mallorca Rocks in Magaluf where the average age group seems to be about twenty.

And yet there I was this week in the company of my teenage son Ollie and his friends, hoping that some other saintly expat parent – possibly sporting earplugs and a Joan of Arc ‘on her way to the stake’ grimace – might be propping up the al fresco bar and drowning her sorrows in a towering plastic beaker of Cola. Happily there were the usual suspects, the parents cum chauffeurs who regularly take their offspring along to the concerts and wait like dutiful Cinderellas for the moment when on the dot of midnight the music ends and the hordes depart the venue in a surprisingly orderly manner to party elsewhere.

For my sins, I have visited Mallorca Rocks and its sister venue in Ibiza many times in the guise of guardian and chauffeur but on this occasion I had been invited to interview the star of the show, Elliot Gleave, better known as Example – a play on his initials E.G – before he took to the stage. Fortunately not only had I seen the effervescent Example perform live at the venue the previous year but, thanks to my son, already knew two of his chart topping hits- Changed the way you kissed me and Playing with the shadows which I had to admit to finding very catchy.

I’m not sure what I expected but having spent a dollop of my life humouring a vast array of diva celebrities I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 31- year old Londoner did his interviews without fanfare and the obligatory entourage of flunkies, PRs, precious assistants and makeup artists. So far so good. In fact the understated figure sitting opposite me in dark T-shirt and shorts didn’t frown when I admitted to habitually confusing Chase and Status, the successful electronic music duo with the seventies singers, Chas and Dave. He nodded and grinned, saying that he knew exactly who I was talking about. He even sweetly showed me how to set up my i-phone recorder properly while I hovered over him with reading glasses firmly in place.

In the limited time we had to talk I learnt a surprising amount about this phenomenally successful rapper and singer. Having trained in film directing at Royal Holloway, University of London, he produced a single as a hobby and before long found himself jet-propelled to musical success. Aside from releasing four successful albums, this one-man dynamo is a few tracks away from finishing his fifth and has a new single out in December. This year alone the singer has clocked up 170 flights and performed at 142 international venues. Best known for his electrifying stage performances, his summer residency at Mallorca and Ibiza Rocks will see him jetting between the two islands in-between frequent trips to London and elsewhere. But he’ll have to wait until January for a break from his punishing schedule when he will at last have some down time in Australia with his family and wife of four months, Erin McNaught, a TV presenter and former Miss Australia.

The singer’s long-term plan is to produce another few albums before turning his hand to film. Having already written two horror films, and with previous successful stints as a stand up comedian, film editor and voice-over artist, it’s hard to imagine him twiddling his thumbs in the future. All the same, he envisages himself returning for a musical heritage tour when he’s in his late thirties.

As I caught up with expat friends at the bar later, I told them that what impressed me most about Example was his work ethic and professionalism. Surely if anyone should prove a valid youth icon it had to be this workaholic music sensation? All it was left for our impressionable youth to do was simply to learn by example.

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