The British Council and PRS Foundation have announced that Jasmin Kent Rodgman, Laura ‘FEMME’ Bettinson and Love Ssega will each spend up to six weeks in China as part of the Musicians in Residence programme.
Since 2011 this immersive cultural programme has given musicians the opportunity to create original work, build networks and explore new international influences. Alumni include Imogen Heap, Matthew Bourne, Mira Calix, Jamie Woon and most recently Emmy the Great.
The three musicians selected for 2018-19 will spend time separately in three Chinese cities from autumn 2018: FEMME has been paired with the city of Chengdu; Jasmin Kent Rodgman with Lanzhou; and Love Ssega with Nanning. During their residencies they will collaborate with local artists, write new material and explore new creative and professional opportunities.
Each musician has already submitted plans for what they aim to focus on during their residency, while allowing for the fact that any creative output will be shaped by their experiences and encounters in China.
- Artist, songwriter and producer Love Ssega was born in London. This enigmatic polymath has managed to carve his own career through the music industry, with songs, visuals and shirts to surprise and excite. He is most widely known for having been the front man, songwriter and founding member of Clean Bandit while still at Cambridge University. The band achieved a UK Top 20 hit with ‘Mozart’s House’. Having left Clean Bandit to complete a PhD in laser spectroscopy, Ssega returned to music as a solo artist. He received PRS Foundation Momentum Music Fund support for his second EP ‘Emancipation!’ (2017), leading to worldwide attention, including from BBC Music Introducing and the BBC World Service. Ssega has performed on Glastonbury’s Other Stage in front of 45,000 people and stages as far as Japan and South Korea. He has also had separate pieces of music performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra.
- London composer and producer Jasmin Kent Rodgman was born to an English father and Malaysian-Chinese mother. Her work focuses on cross-arts collaboration and interaction, celebrating identity and social engagement. Drawing inspiration from, and engaging with diverse communities, her sound is expansive, explorative, and plays with a sense of narrative. She is one of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Jerwood Composers 2017/18, writing new music as well as curating for their 2018 programme. Other recent projects include jazz groove ‘Kiko’ for band YUSUFLA, premiered at the Royal Albert Hall's Late Night Jazz series; ‘The Story of Looking’, a VR film centered on filmmaker Mark Cousins’ latest book; and transmedia LGBT project ‘The Book of Gabrielle’, directed by Lisa Gornick.
- Producer, artist and DJ, FEMME (aka Laura Bettinson) has always been in the driving seat of her career. Her DIY invention stems not only from necessity – for instance, learning how to launch electronic loops live so she didn’t have to drag her keyboard to early pub gigs – but also from a desire to retain total creative control. Several major label overtures have been entertained down the years, but ultimately Bettinson has always preferred to pursue her own artistic vision. This has been the case ever since those early performances, which earned Bettinson the attention of Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, who recruited her to front electronic alt-pop group Ultraísta. Following rave reviews from Pitchfork, The Guardian and Rolling Stone, Bettinson then took a sabbatical to launch her solo career as FEMME. Debut single ‘Fever Boy’ immediately found a home on both the BBC 6 Music playlist and the stereo of Charli XCX (who invited FEMME to tour the USA with her), as well as on several adverts, catwalks and TV show soundtracks. She successfully applied for and received PRS Foundation Momentum Music funding.
Vanessa Reed, Chief Executive of PRS Foundation, said: “I am delighted that through this partnership with the British Council we are able to support the very talented and acclaimed music creators FEMME, Love Ssega and Jasmin Kent Rodgman, with this unique international opportunity. Since 2011, 15 music creators have been supported through this programme to create new music and build new international networks in China, which has contributed both to their creative development and their potential to reach new audiences. I look forward to following their creative adventures in China and the impact it has on what they do next.”
Cathy Graham, Director of Music at the British Council, said: “I am so pleased that our partnership with PRS Foundation continues to thrive, and so proud of the work that has emerged from the artist residencies since we started nurturing these musical links between the UK and China seven years ago. The three artists that have been selected for the residencies this year are exceptional for their eclecticism, their fearlessness and their openness to cultural exchange and adventure. I can’t wait to see how they are inspired by their trips to China.”
The Musicians in Residence China programme was launched in September 2011, with Gareth Bonello, Imogen Heap, Jamie Woon and Matthew Bourne relocating in 2011 and early 2012. The 2014 residencies saw Oliver Coates, Sam Genders, Arun Ghosh, Anna Meredith and Sid Peacock travel to China. From January to March 2016 Mira Calix, Kerry Andrew and Bella Hardy took part, and in 2017 it was the turn of Quinta, David Lyttle and Emmy the Great. Following her residency, Emmy the Great now splits her time between London and Hong Kong.
The residencies have resulted in a diverse range of outputs. Imogen Heap included the track ‘XiZiShe Knows’, composed during her time in Hangzhou, on her 2014 album ‘Sparks’. In 2013 Gareth Bonelloreleased the album ‘Y Bardd Anfarwol’, combining Welsh and Chinese folk music to tell the life story of the Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai, which won Welsh Album of the Year at the 2014 National Eisteddfod, and was nominated for the 2014 Welsh Music Prize. The track ‘Little Wonder’, on Jamie Woon’s Mercury Prize nominated album ‘Making Time’ (2016), was inspired by his time in China on the residency.