Wednesday, 18 April 2012

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Claire Shilton

Ever heard of “Frolic”?   
This increasingly popular DJ collective bring a sense of unadulterated fun to their monthly disco. It has everything to do with the fusion of the three DJs and the people who turn up to make it happen on the dance floor. 
Claire Shilton, aka “Crumpet Claire”, is one of those DJ’s and she is also a freelance graphic designer. 
Here she tells us how Frolic came to be and how music and design have shaped her life. 
Originally form Portsmouth, Claire is 47-years-old and now lives in Bridport. 
Frolic takes place on a Thursday every month at the Conservative Club, North Street, Bridport. 

HOW did you become a DJ? 
When I left art college, in the 80s, I worked in a live music venue in Portsmouth. I loved promoting live music and I liked the way the venue was run which was very all-inclusive. I wanted to have a go at DJ-ing  because I was an “indie chick” and the music I loved wasn’t being played in the venue and they gave me that chance.

WHERE did the name ‘Crumpet Claire’ come from? 
At 40 I was living in Ipswich in Suffolk. Again, I found there was nowhere I could go to dance to the music I enjoyed. By then I was a freelance graphic designer and I started doodling about what sort of a club night I’d have and I came up with the idea of “Club Crumpet” which is slightly saucy but still somehow fun and innocent. I fell into a community radio station who gave me my own show with the remit “to play tunes not played on mainstream media”. Here, I was in my element and my programme was called “Crumpet Radio”. It was there I became known as Crumpet Claire.

HOW did you end up in Bridport? 
A friend of mine invited me down to stay and during the four days I was here I felt totally at home, I didn’t know there was still somewhere like this in England. I loved the undulating countryside and walk to the coast, the independent shops, the market days and the vintage quarter at St Michael’s Trading Estate – everything seemed to work in harmony rather than in competition and I made a vow to move here.  

HOW did Frolic come in to being? 
Although there is a vibrant arts scene in Bridport, yet again, I found there wasn’t anywhere for me to go and dance. I was introduced to two other DJs Special KK (Kathy Kelly), and DR Funk (Mitch Norman). When the three of us got together we were trying to think of a name which conjured up the same kind of smile on your face that crumpet did. Frolic popped into my head and the others agreed. We wanted to put the onus on having fun in a place to dance  the night away. The people who come get this and are active in contributing to the lovely atmosphere which, has at times made me ache with laughter. 

HOW do the three of you DJs operate as a collective? 
We all still love music and have the desire to share it with others and we bring different skills; I design the publicity, Kathy makes great props and Mitch provides the equipment and vintage lighting. Alongside our unique collections of music we bring something to the event that compliments each other. I would say I am more comedy/art house/political. As someone who is used to working on her own and making a lot of singular decisions, it’s been a real education and it’s nice to be working collaboratively because you share the responsibility.

WHAT do you do when you are not Frolic-ing? 
I’m also a graphic designer. I love visual communication and I like to promote things that I am passionate about – anything from the environment to mental health awareness, the arts and small businesses and of course live music. That’s where I see value in what I do. 

WHERE can we see your work? 
I got a most extraordinary brief recently to design a banner “to make people smile in my doorway”. It was to promote the fact that there is a new local pet shop, that also sells records in the back room. A dream job that was completely bonkers but very Bridport. There's often a piece of my work on the notice board at Bucky Doo Square usually promoting a gig or two and the arts. I designed the children’s activity sheets for a catering company in all the Tate Galleries. It’s still in print seven years later and I had one thrust in my hand (half finished) whilst in Good News in Bridport.

WHICH three famous musicians would you most love to “Frolic” with? 
There are so many musicians I respect but I have soft spots for Arthur Lee of Love, Danielle Dax, and Polystyrene from X-Ray Specs. They have all enriched my life enormously. 

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