24th October - Reply from Gemma Calvert - referred to by Maria Coole Look Magazine

Gemma also works for Look magazine as an assistant editor, and maria felt it would be more appropriate if Gemma answered my questions because she had more experience within the music industry, which was lovely of Maria to do.

Hi Charlotte,

Here are the answers to the questions you wanted me to ask. Best of luck with your dissertation.

Best wishes,


In your role as acting assistant editor you are exposed to lots of daily gossip, fashion and artists – some established and some that have come from talent shows e.g XFactor. Do you think that artists that have come from talent contests have had their image decided for them by the show?

The contestants that appear on talent shows like the X Factor are first of all shown in their own clothes, often in their own environment and this is a good indication of the person and image that they are trying to portray for themselves. For the live shows the finalists are given access to a style team who are there to help with hair, make up and clothing. This is obviously because the contestants are going to be on live TV so make up and styled hair is important for the overall impact of the show. In my experience the team works closely with the contestant to enhance their own image and it's often at this time where contestants are given professional advice about new trends and ideas that they hadn't considered before. 

Have you interviewed artists or written about artists from the start of their career and again as they have become more successful? If so did you think their image/attitude had changed since they started out? Had a brand been ‘built’ for them?

In my previous role at another magazine, as entertainment editor and continuing now in my current role I've interviewed many celebrities. I've interviewed new artists who haven't made it past the first year and also those who are starting out and have continued to be more successful. Inevitably as they progress as an artist and with more experience of the industry their image alters, they are open to more ideas and have access to more fashion than they did before they were famous. In terms of attitude, this entirely depends on the individual. Sometimes celebrities are created into a brand, for example Kim Kardashian who has built an empire on her own range of make up, fake tan, perfume etc. 

When you are interviewing people do you find that there is always someone from the management team present? Have you come across situations where you have asked a question and the management team have stepped in to stop them answering it?

It is usual for a member of the celebrity's publicity team to be present at the interview location, although they don't always sit in on the actual interview. In my experience, the publicist more often than not lets the interview take place in a natural environment. I have however been in situations where the celebrity's publicist has intervened, explaining that their client won't be answering the question that I have asked, however it's usually the celebrity who explains this before the publicist if they're unhappy about a line of approach.

Recently XFactor is published in all magazines and papers, what do you think it is about this year? Is it how they look and what they wear? There attitudes, or being controlled and told what to do by there management teams?

Since the start of the X Factor there has been huge publicity in magazines and newspapers. Any programme which pulls in 11million or more viewers on a weekend is clearly loved by the nation so print press cover the contestants and the show to give the readers more information and access than they can get just by watching the programme on the telly. For Look, the style, hair and make up of the X Factor contestants during the live shows are of huge interest because many of our readers want to know how to recreate the looks themselves.

If you had to answer my dissertation question in your unbiased opinion, who do you think creates the brand for an artist – the label or the artist

This is impossible to answer one way or the other and is very much based on each individual case. An artist will have their own ideas about who they are, how they wish to appear to the wider audience, their image, their sound and their message. Stronger, more influential artists – Lady Gaga and Madonna for example – are unlikely to let anyone dominate these areas unless they are totally in agreement. Of course any management company, publicity team and record label worth their salt will use their experience to advise any artist about the direction they should be going in, and some artists inevitably will be influenced more greatly.

Gemma Calvert
Acting Assistant Editor

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