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Out of office: James Clifton – digital designer by day, rockstar by night…

Tim Dodd
7th July 2017

When he’s not designing UI, James is the drummer in a ‘Jindie’ band.

Introducing a brand new Mediablaze series: Out Of Office. Here at Mediablaze, we're proud of everything we create inside the office, but when we do get some spare time, we create some pretty great stuff outside of it, too.

First up, design Wunderkind James Clifton, Mediablaze’s very own senior digital designer and self-proclaimed office jester, morale booster and all-round L.A.D. At Mediablaze, James works on UI (user interface design) and UX (user experience design) on the websites that Mediablaze creates. He also creates infographics for blog and social content. His main project this year has been serving as creative lead on the Speedo On platform.

When he’s not creating intuitive user interfaces and infographics, James is the drummer in a band called Fantasy Paella. The band’s unique style can best be described (according to James) as 'jindie': a delicate fusion of jazz and indie. James describes it as: ‘jazz chord progressions with an indie kind of upbeat feel.’

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James Clifton in 2008

He traces his musical roots back to his parents’ love of rock. ‘When my parents were young, they were all about motorcycles, long hair, and listening to heavy metal music. So I grew up with that music,’ James says. In true family fashion, James joined an old school rock group in secondary school. He even embraced the flares and long hair. Bless him.

Every band has a story

I know what you’re thinking… 'Fantasy Paella'… James says he and his bandmates overheard someone inexplicably mutter the words ‘fantasy paella’ outside the rehearsal studio one day and were immediately inspired. ‘We were like: “That’s it! That’s the band name! We’ve got it visualised. We can see the brand, we can see everything!’” And from that moment, Fantasy Paella was born.

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Fantasy Paella was born

Why gigging is the best and worst thing ever

‘Gigging is amazing. It’s just the best, because you’re terrified beforehand – you have to be,’ says James. ‘If you’re not nervous, then something’s wrong. Then once you start playing, it’s great. It’s the best thing then when you come off, and you’re like, “Ahhh, I just wanna come back on”.’ However, gigging has also become a source of frustration when he watches other bands play. According to James: ‘It kinda ruins going to see bands because all I’m doing is watching and going “I could totally do that! How are you so massive?” All you’re doing is critiquing other bands.’

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James on the drums

On his musical inspiration

Fantasy Paella draws from artists such as Mac DeMarco, Elliott Smith, and Bon Iver. For James it is more dependent on his mood. ‘Music is so emotional – it’s all based on how you’re feeling.’ On a typical day James starts with metal to wake himself up and then moves onto some deep house while he works. In the evening, he listens to old school punk rock. To end the day, he puts on some Charles Bradley, Elliott Smith, or something more relaxing.

The band’s greatest moments

‘One of the best moments was when we were just jamming. We started playing, and Smithy, who doesn’t sing, starts going, “If you change your mind...” We started playing ABBA. We were playing a cover of Take A Chance On Me. I was playing the drums and was just in absolute hysterics. We listened to it back and we were, like, this actually sounds really good.’

The end of an era

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James and his fringe

As with all good things, Fantasy Paella may be coming to an end soon due to the band members’ increasing responsibilities. ‘Life’s getting busy,’ says James. ‘Our bassist just had twins, so now he’s got three kids. Joe, who does all the writing and is lead vocals, is really busy because he’s starting his own business.’ Looking back, James’s time with his bandmates has been useful. ‘Being in a band has made me more outgoing, confident, and loud,’ James says. It’s these characteristics he brings to the workplace every day that keep the environment at Mediablaze upbeat and spicy – kinda like paella. Rock on, James.

Say hello

We would love to hear from you, do get in touch if with the team at Mediablaze if you want to talk about content strategy, content production, digital design and build, or paella. You can find us at hello@mediablaze.com

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