Join British-Chinese provocateur artist Le Fil in a pop gig with extras as he, she or it explores a 24/7 world of gay-straight men, bad romances and the modern constructions of gender that package us up for consumption.
Armed with killer hooks and queer looks, Le Fil smashes gender stereotypes one song at a time. Expect striking visuals, hip-thrusting dancers and warped dance routines to a kaleidoscopic soundtrack of music from EPs that will leave you gagging for more.
Hello Fil how's everything going, thanks for talking to tNC how's it going?
It’s a pleasure! I’m sat on a train travelling back to London from Yorkshire, eating a cheeky danish pastry… shh, don’t tell anyone!
What does it mean for you to be making your Edfringe debut with 24/7 Live?
I’m absolutely thrilled, Edinburgh Fringe is a rite of passage for almost every performer. It's launched so many artists and I’m so excited to do my debut there. Personally, it's already been such an amazing year so far, where I’ve performed my music across London, Newcastle and Brighton, so to get to perform 24/7 LIVE in its full entirety night after night - I’m gagging.
The response to the show has already been amazing, how much has the show changed since you first performed it?
Since I released my first two EP’s Nightlife and Pop Sculpture, I’ve been experimenting with how to perform my music for a while anyhow. At the heart of it, I’m a singer, musician and artist - but at the same time, I also knew there was a story in the music that existed in its own right that needed telling. So I tried it as a normal pub gig, then I tried it as more of a scratch theatre show at Battersea Arts Centre - and now it’s something that fuses all that together, existing somewhere between music, art, cabaret, comedy, film, theatre - so I call it a ‘pop gig with extras’. Everyone loves a bit extra!
And since we launched the show last year at Hackney Showroom in London, I have received some great support from the press and also from the audiences. Those who have seen it more than once always note that they always discover something new each time, which as a creator, it always a delight to hear.
Is it important for you as a performer to keep your show organic and constantly evolving?
My main impetus is how I can deliver a special live experience for my fans and audiences - something that allows them a window into this world I’ve created, whilst also honouring the original concepts of the show. For example with each venue, we tweak the show to make it unique for the visitors of that particular site.
If there’s a massive space, then we’ll throw in a runway and live band and make it an arena-sized show. But if it’s on a smaller scale, we’ll make it more intimate and in your face. Neither format is better than the other, but it’s a constant evolution of the initial idea. That alone is enough of a creative and logistical challenge for me as a performer and director to keep it fresh and exciting for everyone involved and those coming to see it!
You're also fronting some rather huge LGBTQ campaigns, how did these come about?
Ooh yeah, these were really exciting. Both collaborations came about pretty much after I launched the initial 24/7 Live show last year in London. Smirnoff’s ‘We Are Open’ campaign celebrates LGBTQ nightlife, especially genderqueer and gender fluid artists, and basically gives the community visibility and credibility in what is quite a cishet-world, especially when it comes to how nightlife is promoted in the media. The TV advert basically follows me getting ready for a night out with my friends and it’s super fun! It's even been played on the big screen above Piccadilly Circus and I freaked out I was so excited.
My ‘Go Your Own Way’ collaboration with Toyota was totally different. This campaign celebrates self-expression and identity, so I really worked closely with them to develop a personal ‘Pop Sculpture’ public art installation in London. Pop Sculpture is my term for artworks that I make, which are linked to pop music and pop culture. So we created an installation where audiences could interact with my lyrics on a big screen and have their own billboard photoshoots on a stage that I designed. Throughout the day, I would perform my music to the passing crowds. It was such a big set and team and was super fun. They even made a little documentary clip that followed my journey and the process of it all.
I know that working with brands can sometimes be difficult for some - but as an independent LGBTQ artist, I’m really pleased they’re supporting the visibility of our communities while also supporting new work that challenges the world around us. Working with them basically allowed me to produce my own work and bring a show like ’24/7 Live’ to Edinburgh, which makes me very thankful!
"Being able to invite an audience into this world I’ve created through performing my own songs is a really special feeling."
Can you tell me a little bit about 24/7 Live, what can we expect?
The show is based on my song ’24/7’. It’s a dance-pop song that talks about serving the listener anytime and anywhere - with lyrics like “all that you can eat, your wish is granted, welcome to heaven 24/7!” That consumerist theme basically links all the music together into a narrative that looks at how we are packaged up in order to fulfil certain roles within our relationships and society. Whether or not you’re familiar with the music already doesn’t matter, as this is definitely a standalone piece that you can just come and be thoroughly entertained for an hour. Expect a show that is part performance art, part-pop concert, part-fashion opera - where my dancers and I will be completely devoted to serving you.
What was the inspiration behind your show?
The stories in my music are based on my daily life experiences like encounters with men who want to experiment with their sexuality, cheating men, businessmen, racial fetishisation, gender roles, the advertising around us, the random strangers that would tell me to go get a haircut since only girls should have long hair - you know, all the things that make you want to write a song to change all that. Then once I looked deeper at all those issues, I noticed how most of these are rooted in that sexy topic of gender politics and that’s what linked all these stories together into the show.
In three words how best would you describe 24/7 Live?
I’ll give you three E’s for a good time - energetic, empowering, entertaining!
Who are your musical inspirations?
Spice Girls, Beyonce, Kylie, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Charli XCX, David Bowie, Antony and the Johnsons on their I’m A Bird Now album, plus anything produced by Max Martin, RedOne, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Irrepressible, Grace Jones, Christeene - the one who rims on stage and pulls buttplugs out, not the suit-wearing French chanteuse… Basically, I love a diverse range of epic pop music.
Have you always had a passion for performing?
Yes! I used to pretend to be Kylie Minogue when I was a toddler and sung all her songs. I even coerced some straight boys at my junior school to form the Spice Boys so we could perform Spice Girls songs in our morning assemblies. In fact, I was recently invited by Sink The Pink to dance with Melanie C at a music festival in front of 15000 people and it was insane. It was a total dream come true to share a stage with her. Melanie C was one of my childhood idols and I don’t think it really sunk in until I saw the footage back afterwards, and I was like ‘woah, this is intense!’ It's a completely different feeling to when you’re singing your own material though. Being able to invite an audience into this world I’ve created through performing my own songs is a really special feeling. That’s why Edinburgh’s going to be mental.
What was your first time like out on stage?
Oh my god, I don’t remember, I was tiny! But funnily enough, my first professional job was in Edinburgh! Several years ago I played Aladdin in King’s Theatre, and it was mental. I still remember the opening night when I was in this epic chase sequence where I had to run up a ladder and jump into a moving bin. In rehearsals and in the opening matinee it was all fine and there were no problems.
So obviously on the opening night when all the press and VIPs were in, my foot decided to catch itself onto the ladder, causing the whole thing to fall over with me attached, tumbling through mid-air and knocking all the bins over. I had never heard such a large collective gasp, and I just died of embarrassment. I crawled back into a bin in pain and got pushed away. The shame! It was hilarious though!
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given in your career?
Be you. Literally, be the best version of yourself and don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone has their own timelines so there’s no point feeling inadequate or losing sleep over opportunities that may come and go to other people. You are the sum of all your own personal experiences, so create them for yourself.
For all those other fringe virgins this year do you have any advice you'd like to share?
If you’re a punter, don’t sleep and see everything! And if you’re a performer, do the opposite - sleep, rest and sleep whenever you can fit it in!
Give me one reason to come and see your show?
My show is subversive and saucy pop at its finest. If you’re a fan of Lady Gaga, epic choreography, gender politics, cheeky gossip, conceptual costumes and philosophical chit-chat - you’ll love this!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from 24/7 Live?
I think they’ll get a better understanding of how gender affects us and how it impacts relationships, plus new melodies to hum along to and definitely a few drops of my sweat and saliva over them, cause it’s gonna be one hawt show!