Look At Me London is a music TV production and online promotion company that works with South East London-based artists, occasionally hosting ‘Look At Me SE14’ nights free of charge in partnership with Southwark Arts Forum with different styles of music each night.
The latest, hosted at New Cross’s The Montague Arms on the 29th of June, encapsulated all flavours of modern music including rowdy jazz-infused rock from United Vibrations, mellow ballads from Katy & The Elders and gentle soul from headlining ESKA’s solo acoustic set.
Marie-Claire Denyer, 29, is the multi-talented power behind the project. She produces, directs and edits music videos for upcoming bands and artists under her company, Look At Me London, as well as providing backing vocals on-stage for trip-hop soul singer Stac.
Drawing inspiration and advice from previous colleagues like Jonathan Glazer (Jamiroquai, Radiohead), Marie-Claire shoots honest, intimate footage without the ‘tasteless’ mass-manufactured sheen of more commercial offerings. Once the production is complete, the artist is in complete control with copyright ownership to do, as Marie-Claire says, ‘whatever they please with it.’
Just over a year has passed since its inception, but Look At Me London has built an impressive roster of artists – Stac, hip-hop outfit Hadouken, rock band Sound of Guns – with a diverse range of production styles. Performance footage is also a part of their domain, including Little Dragon and Gabriella Cilmi amongst many others. As well as audio-visual production, the young company cover live music events as well.
Marie-Claire said: “There’s so much talent that doesn’t have much exposure. It would be fantastic if nights like SE14 increased the quality of the local music scene.”
“I remember being in the midst of it all thinking ‘I’ve finally done this!’, but I couldn’t really enjoy it since there was so much work.”
Look At Me London works with different partners on each project. Certain jobs are delegated to students and friends to involve as many people as possible, but much of the workload ultimately rests on Marie-Claire’s shoulders.
“There were only two of us doing everything on ESKA’s night, and we barely had time to do a proper sound check. It was worth all the trouble though. Over 250 people showed up so the turnout was wild, which is great considering it was our first event for over 18s.”
Previous nights were geared towards younger teenagers. Last November, the very first ‘Look At Me’ was hosted in Camberwell with funding from MusicLeader and the Newcomen Collet Foundation, in partnership with Southwark Arts Forum.
“They did similar things to Look At Me London in trying to facilitate meetings between industry professionals and artists in a laidback manner where young people could also have a good time. We did a live music night together when I worked there voluntarily and it went very well, but it was a one off.”
Having worked at Sky TV’s independent music channel ‘MusFlash’ as a producer, Marie-Claire had the resources and contacts to take it a step further. “I approached them after I left, and they helped draw up proposals and kindly gave me the support I needed.”
“I asked the young people what was in demand and they wanted hip-hop artists. I did initially pay for security, though I wasn’t expecting anything to happen. And nothing did. I was very impressed and encouraged by how polite and supportive the young people were in Camberwell, particularly the pub that hosted us since they were the only ones that would allow under-18s.”
Judging from the success of the first night, she thought funding could be secured just as easily for the second. “It’s actually quite hard as an individual. I’m not eligible for a lot of what’s available out there since, according to one funder, I’m apparently not serving the public, which is outrageous. It’s fair enough if they don’t have the funding, but these events are all about benefiting the public and communities so to claim they’re not shows that some funding organisations don’t even read the application forms properly.”
Determined to host the second night, she decided to fund the event herself. “I brought in Ska this time, but there weren’t as many people as I’d hoped for. I made quite a loss. There was a lot of hiring to be done, The Albany was quite expensive, and the marketing fell down. It just didn’t work out, so at that point I thought ‘I can’t do these anymore’.”
Luckily for Marie-Claire, Southwark Arts Forum approached her in early spring with funding to host ESKA’s night. “I knew her through the Goldsmiths Ensemble, which I sang in for a while. She bumped into me, expressed interest in playing, and even waived her fee since it was such a good concert. It was an absolute privilege, and it might also be why the place was so packed.”
Indeed, the venue was at full capacity with queues spilling out onto the streets and beyond the curb. “Hopefully, if I could get some other people on-board, build up some proper PR and gather some more artists, we could host another in the coming months. It all depends on funding.”
Marie-Claire plans to continue with music video production, driven by the current state of the music television industry. “It’s really infuriating to see cheap American knock-offs on UK music channels. All this cheap Sony R&B bikini crap is getting coverage, but the talented progressive ones aren’t,” she muses. “Established artists are spending lots of money to produce awful videos, so I’m sure there’s cheaper ways to do it better.”
With expectations beginning to build for her hard work over the past year, Marie-Claire is finally starting to see the fruits of her labour. Where does she see herself going in the future? “It’s a bit of an idealistic dream but if Look At Me London really takes off, I’m hoping it could expand to other countries. Imagine if there was a Look At Me Paris!”