September 11, 2011

Alex James to judge Ambition AXA Awards

AXA, in association with Arts Council England, have recently launched the Ambition AXA Awards, making available £200,000 to 5 talented 11-18 year olds in the UK.

Each winner will receive up to £40,000 worth of personalised mentoring, to help develop their ambitions in their chosen field of arts, enterprise, science, community or sport. The prize will be judged by an expert panel, which includes Laura Gander Howe, ACE Director of Learning and Skills Strategy as well as celebrity musician Alex James from Blur.

He also had a little interview that talked about his life, bio and achievements so far. 

Alex James - How to aim for a career in the arts and get the most out of it 

I’ve always loved music, but I never thought it was a career option.
My dad bought a piano when I was 13 and showed me how to play boogie woogie. Not much later I got a bass and joined a band. I went to London to study French, but spent all my time playing music. I dropped my studies because I wanted to be in Blur.
It’s very hard to know what you want to do with your life – in fact it’s the hardest thing there is. I’ve never had a master plan, but I’ve always followed what has interested me most.
Do what you love
I don’t think you can help following interests. And it’s vital, even if it makes you look ridiculous – there was a time when leaving university to be in a band that had songs that all went very, very fast and were very, very loud seemed ridiculous, but that was what I cared about.
I’ve always loved music, but journalism and even inventing cheese are equally creative. I really love cheese so I always find it interesting.
Get into a band
Whenever you find something that interests you, you’ve got to go after it with everything you’ve got even if it makes you look stupid. If it’s music, get involved in a band. If it’s writing, write. If it’s cheese, er, give me a call. Whatever it is, the important thing is doing it, not dreaming about it.
Don’t fret about music lessons/training/not having enough money
I didn’t have any training when I was younger. I just played every day and eventually I could do it. Pop music is great, as you don’t have to know loads -  it’s just a way to express yourself. But I don’t think I’ve ever stopped learning. I’ve had loads of music lessons recently, and I wish I'd done it years ago.
Enjoy yourself
I like playing the guitar on my own. I love making records, I love playing music, I like talking about it – always have, always will. So I was drawn to music.
If you dedicate yourself to something you like, it is surprising what will come out of it. I still find it amazing that what I enjoyed messing about at as a teenager has led me. Who’d have thought when I formed my first band in my bedroom all those years ago that I’d be playing to thousands at Glastonbury? (Apart from me, I mean – I knew it was going to happen).

Read about Alex James from AXA's official website HERE