The Observer

22 March 2017

Photographer and Interview Cecilie Harris
Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE
Introduction Brogan Anderson

"Lots of people now want to shoot models who’ve got a bit more to them instead of just being a model."

Born in a city shadowed by the towering Highlands in northern Scotland, Calum Paterson at Models 1 has slowly ventured south over his years of growing up, recently cementing himself into the hustle of London life - estranged - a drastically different landscape and livelihood.

Challenged with intimate discussions on today’s generation, we get a small insight into the tickings that are going on within his mind about the world and the people that surround him. He gathers his thoughts as we probe beyond the surface of his reserved and quiet demeanour - what we get to know you would never have guessed on your own. He’s a silent observer, but with a lot to say.

The creative and fashion industries so regularly slated are given thanks to by Calum, allowing him to grow a confidence within himself that a year ago he wouldn't have been able to recognise. It takes a lot to stand semi-naked in front of a room of strangers. Credit has to be given somewhere. A slight feverish change in demeanour rolls over him when the talk turns to music, divulging his favourite bands and where his affinity for music originated. The excitement and passion so clear. He indulges us with his dreams, sights set on the ultimate goal of living a life thriving and saturated in creativity, producing music he’s passionate about.

How would you describe the young generation growing up today?
Disadvantaged to some extent, but at the same time with way more opportunities, compared to older generations - where life seemed slightly easier than ours in terms of getting a job and having flat. My dad bought his own beautiful flat when he was younger than me in the centre of Edinburgh and he didn’t have an amazing job, but he bought his own flat when he was like 21. It’s crazy. The thought or chances of my generation doing that are extremely slim, never gonna happen, not at this age anyway. Also everyone knows about the unemployment stats and whatnot, it’s impossible to get a job. More and more people are going to university, before it used to be pretty elite. I think my mum was one of the first people to go to university in her family, it just wasn’t a considered path. I studied music and got a first, but one girl on my course in her final performance got 100/100 and I just think that’s completely ridiculous. I think it makes a mockery of the system the fact that you are literally perfect at doing something, nobody’s perfect. Where can you go from there?

You should be leaving university having learnt things and accomplished stuff, but still have stuff to learn, it doesn’t finish there. Now there are a lot more creative opportunities due to social media and the internet. The internet is something somebody my age would take for granted, because it’s in your life every single day - unless you’re amish - but the generation before us didn’t have that and it makes such a huge difference with everything. You can connect with anybody around the world. As a musician you can make hip hop beats and send to somebody in LA that you’ve never met. It’s possible to not live in the same city and still make music with them. You don’t have to be in the same place - which is incredible, but then at the same time it’s almost too many opportunities.
What does it do to you having all those opportunities?
Personally, I overthink everything and you can drown in it all, whereas if I were this age 20 years ago, I think life would be much simpler and more obvious. Now it’s like; 'I want to do this, I want to do that'. It can get a bit heavy. I think one of the biggest challenges is there is too much happening that I want to do. I’m sure a lot of people in my generation feel the same, just a bit swamped with it all.
What are you passionate about?
Music would be the main thing.
What did you study within music?
It was just called ‘popular music’, I was basically on drums for a degree. No dissertation, hardly any essays or written work, just mainly practical. It was fine, I don’t think they really encouraged creativity that much, and I felt somewhat stifled. Music college is just kind of you’ll play in a wedding band or you’ll teach drums for a living and it didn’t really encourage you to follow the creative music route, it was just a bit more like a job. It’s definitely a good thing, some of my friends do session work and things like that, but it’s just not really what I want to do.
What is it about the drums that gets you?
A lot of people say it’s like a stress release, I don’t really find that. When I’m stressed, playing drums is not the one for me - I find it makes me more tense. It’s funny, I listen to bits and bobs of music, but I was never really that interested in it and at primary school I started out playing trumpet. It was cool to have your lesson once a week, practice maybe a couple times and I was not that into it. I then moved to French horn, still not interested, and lugging it to school every week was an absolute mission. I wasn’t very good at it and I didn’t enjoy it. I also didn’t listen to classical music, so the tunes I was practicing I wasn’t listening to. Then I started playing piano, gave up French horn and kind of got a little bit better, because I was playing more jazzy stuff. At school we had to have a shot at playing drums and the class was too big and I didn’t get my turn in a lesson, so he was like you’ll get a shot next week and I went home from school and tried to figure out what they were trying to teach us and it clicked. I went to the class the next week, sat down and just did it, and the teacher was like; ‘alright, cool - you’re going to play drums’, but I couldn’t get any lessons so I taught myself for the first year. It was the joy of being able to play music that I listened to and that resonated with me. After that, rhythm in general, I love music.
You said you wanted to be in a band?
I was in a band called Engine in Leeds and I just left to come to London basically.
That's recent - are you looking for a new band?
Yeah, like a month ago, 100% looking for a new one. I thought it would be a lot easier than it has been to be honest. I thought I’d come down and spot a band flyer quickly, but I feel all my friends in Leeds are musicians and all my friend in London are fashion-y kind of people. It’s always that thing about who you know and I don’t really know that many musicians yet, so it’s proved a bit more difficult than I’d anticipated. It’ll happen, I’ve just got to carry on. Music is my passion, it’s what I want to be known for - this is just a transitionary period.
Who is Calum?
People have always described me as being a bit of an observer. I’m never really at the forefront of a situation, I kind of get nervous in front of a big group. Even though I do have strong opinions about stuff, I sometimes find it quite hard to convey them in a big group, so I’m much more of an observer - watching from the sidelines. I’ve got no problem chatting one to one, but in a group I find it a lot more difficult. For people who don’t know me, I guess they think I’m just a bit boring and not really thinking anything, but I’m always thinking. I’ve always felt like a bit of an outcast coming from a town in the north of Scotland. Especially coming down to London, the last couple of weeks I’ve been like; ‘what am I doing here?’ I kind of feel like a small fish in a big pond. I think the whole outcast and misfit thing is kind of fetishised in some ways though, especially in creative industries so I think it’s important to differentiate between genuine outcasts. I’ve always felt like a bit different, but I always remember there are people who are genuine outcasts and find it way more difficult. Observer is the best one for me - always thinking, but not always talking.
Always thinking in a good way or a bad way?
Both. I have negative days and positive days. I’m very up and down.
Describe your current lifestyle.
I wake up pretty early, usually a lot more on it and awake in the morning. I like to do stuff like exercise and playing drums. I cook a lot at home, go out for walks and read a lot in the day. Generally I don’t like to do anything in the evening. Once I’ve had dinner I’m done, nothing productive is happening, unless I’m playing a gig or something. In the evening I listen to a lot of music, that's when I go on a music search. I’m reading 'Breakfast of Champions' by Kurt Vonnegut at the moment, it’s kind of a satirical take on America basically. It was written in ’78, and on the first page it says ‘nobody believes in a New America paradise anymore’, and I was like, especially now and with Trump, that line is so relevant and it was written back in ’78. Before that, I was reading Vivienne Westwood’s autobiography, took me so long to get through. It was really good, I think she’s a pretty incredible lady.
How often would you socialise, what’s the typical thing to do?
When I was in Leeds I was usually by myself in the day and with people in the evenings, because most people would work day jobs. And in the evenings we’d make some food and make some tunes. We’d never go out drinking for the sake of drinking, whenever we’d go out there would always be some kind of musical event or a friends gig or a club night.
Who do you see as influencers for today’s generation?
Kanye West. I’m not the biggest fan of Kanye West, but he is a massive influence. Someone like Adwoa Aboah is a voice for a lot of young girls. Then, for negative reasons, so many people on Instagram who have got nothing to say, but still seem to influence lots of people - it’s just lame as hell. So many people are just so ‘image over everything’, and there’s nothing actually behind that.
Who influences you?
Mainly just musicians. Someone like Damon Albarn from Blur, he continues to do so much stuff, so prolific - always working, always doing a new thing. Both my parents are very influential on me. Maybe not so much any more, but I have a really big family, lots of cousins and when I was younger I kind of idolised them a lot.
How you think social media is effecting this generation.
It goes back to opportunities - the positives and negatives. Social media allows you to see so much stuff; seeing videos of something a drummer has put up is cool, that’s influencing me, but then I find myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. There’s no benefit of that and people can get very absorbed and caught up in it. I think people think it’s the 'be all and end all', and in a situation you should just be having fun instead of getting a picture for Instagram. Live in the moment. It’s a very cheesy thing to say, don’t quote me on that, but it’s that kind of mindset; enjoy what you’re doing at the time instead of fretting over the Instagram photo.
What do you do to make yourself happy?
Again, music. It’s such a big part of my life and my general happiness is influenced so much by how confident I feel with music, if you know what I mean. There are periods where I’m busy doing other stuff - especially the last couple of months and moving to London. I hadn’t had the chance to play as much and it definitely made me irritated and restless knowing I’m not practicing and playing. Especially playing in a band, because a lot of musicians will just play by themselves, but that’s not going to get you anywhere - you need to be playing in a band.
Would you say you are an emotional person?
Yeah, definitely, very emotional. When I get a job I’m on top of the world, if something goes wrong it’s like the worst thing ever. Past relationships have usually been pretty fiery, I think. I’ve always thought it was the other persons fault, but in hindsight I don’t know. I think it’s the Scottish in me, I’ve got a bit of a temper, which a lot of people don’t expect because I seem quite friendly. I’m just a passionate person I guess, very in touch with my emotions and I don’t have any problem with saying how I feel either.
How do you express anger; tears or something else?
I guess a little bit of everything. I’m never satisfied, always looking to the next thing. It is good, because I always want to do better, but at the same time it can hold you back.
Do you cry?
A little bit. I never try and hide it, If I feel a cry coming on I welcome it. Some people when they feel they’re going to cry, they kind of bottle it up, but I think it’s important to just to let it out. It’s almost like good therapy. Instead of bottling up the tension, you should just get rid of it and then move on.
Do you feel like you have control when it comes to your emotions and emotional reactions?
No, I overreact massively and then I look back at situations like; ‘oh I shouldn’t have done that’. I think just do what feels right and if you feel angry, you should just be angry. Activity is the best way of getting over a stressful situation.
Moving into the mental health area, mental health is very much a buzzword at the moment - what are your thoughts around it?
Yeah, I think everyone that deals with mental health issues should not be shy to talk about it, it’s as normal as any other kind of physical ailment. I think a lot of people are shy about going to the doctor and talking to somebody. Being depressed or having anxiety or stuff like that, you shouldn’t be - just go. You shouldn’t be embarrassed, it’s so normal. If you’ve got something troubling you, you go and talk to someone about it like you would if you had a weird rash on your arm, simple as. There is less stigmaattached to mental health issues compared to the past, and so many people are speaking out about it now.
Especially in a lot of musicians actually. There’s quite a lot of bands that have been openly speaking about anxiety, depression and how they dealt with it.
Yeah, it’s riff in music! I’m like massively insecure about music, but at the same time - it’s a weird flip to the coin. One of my best friends up in Scotland is called Ken, he’s 62 and he was a record engineer in LA all his life. It was kind of a chance encounter how we got to meet, but he says all the best musicians he’s ever met have been massively egotistical and they think they’re amazing, but at the same time they’ve got these massive insecurities. Without being big-headed, I wouldn’t be pursuing music if I didn’t think I could do it. I think I’m good enough, but at the same time I’m also very insecure about it. And also, as soon as I started modelling, in my head, the next stage of my career and progress would be when I didn’t have to have a part time job and I could just live off music and stuff that I’m interested in. Then modelling started in Leeds in the summer - and thinking the grass is always greener - I found myself just doing nothing and I felt like I had no purpose. Having nothing to wake up for is a horrible horrible feeling. I think doing both modelling and music have made me stronger. Since I started modelling, I’ve been able to cope with rejection so much easier.

I actually feel a lot more confidence from you now than when we previous worked together for Pretty Green. I don’t know if you feel like there’s a change?
100%! I’m so much more confident. I’ve been doing it since the summer and in the last 7/8 months I’ve grown so much. Not physically, but I’ve definitely become more confident meet peopleing, being able to chat to them and not have any hang ups. Also standing in my boxers is something, I’m more comfortable with my body.
What are your thoughts around gender and fluidity in this generation?
Again, way less stigma, people are way more open. I think in London, the circles that I’m in it’s so accepted that it’s just not a thing whatsoever, people don’t bat an eyelid. There’s definitely still in parts of the UK where homophobia and sexism is still extremely less accepted.
Do you think masculinity is changing?
Yeah, I guess people are just less concerned. There is a certain group of males that still love going to the gym and lad culture is very prevalent in the UK definitely, but it’s also much more acceptable to not be as conventionally masculine.
How do you feel within your masculinity? Do you feel like you’re a man? What does that mean?
That’s a good question. Yeah, I do feel like a man, but at the same time… it’s really tough. It’s important to be chivalrous, look after the opposite sex, but at the same time I am a feminist and equally the female sex should look after - maybe look after is the wrong term - but yeah it should be equal. I don’t feel any pressures to be conventionally manly or masculine. I’ve got earrings and that, but that’s maybe only a thing for older generations, I don’t really think about it.
Touching on religion and being spiritual. Are you religious or spiritual in any way?
No, I’m not religious at all. I’m definitely open to the idea of something that’s out there kind of thing, I wouldn’t shun someone’s opinion on religion. There are definite benefits to being in touch with spirituality. I don’t do anything like that, but it’s something I’m interested in definitely. Like I said earlier though, there’s so much that I want to do and get into - it's something I’d like to pursue at some point. Like I sometimes do yoga, it kind of follows the same idea of clearing your mind, but I don’t practice it… religiously. I find going home really helps to clear my head, ‘cause it just seems miles away from my life here.
What is the dream?
The goal is to at this stage in my life make a living off of music. But doing music that I’m happy with, and making a living off of being creative.
Calum Polaroid
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