Eddy Says

Eddy Says: How I ended up introducing Henry VIII to dubstep

By | Published on Tuesday 16 April 2013

Eddy Temple-Morris

For his latest CMU column, Eddy Temple-Morris introduces a project he has been working on in secret for several months now. Hired by Royal Collection Trust, he has created a playlist of contemporary music to complement an exhibition of artwork going on show in The Queen’s Gallery next month.

Tone TM and I stepped out of the brilliant little convertible Mini I’d hired and gawped at the seventh dazzling chateaux we’d seen in the past three days – this being last summer and we being in France’s Loire Valley – when Dan Fresh’s name lit up on my phone.

“Look Tone – DJ Fresh!” I squawked, enthusiastically, less boasty, more proud that my mate had recently been at number one; the fact my twelve year old son was now singing ‘Hot Right Now’ while jigging like a loon made me even prouder.

Dan said he wanted to talk to me about a project that had come his way, a project he loved the look of, but was so busy he wouldn’t have time to do justice, adding that once he’d read the brief he’d thought of me. He wanted to put me in touch with the Curator Of Paintings at the Royal Collection Trust, a friend of Dan’s called Anna Reynolds.

Anna is an infectious, sparky, passionate and intelligent woman who loves what she does and is very good at it. We instantly had common ground because, not only were we both massively into art, and had studied Art History, but Anna was also part of the Breakbeat Kaos community back in the day. Hence how she knew Dan. She was a drum n bass fan, avid consumer and early adopter. Everybody who knows me knows dnb was my first love in dance music, and is where my heart really lies. This was shaping up to be very interesting.

Anna and I met at Xfm and she gave me her pitch.

“I’m curating the exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery this year and I’m looking at the idea of having music in there too. Dan tells me you studied History of Art? I need somebody who gets both sides of this…”

She had me at “curating”, but it was nice hearing about the whole idea and the background to it all.

Anna explained that she and her colleagues were working really hard to get the collection better known and seen by more people – or more to the point, by more different types of people.

“We’re really keen to engage with new audiences and young people who might not have heard of the Royal Collection”, she said.

She explained that these works of art are held in trust by the Queen for the nation, and should be seen, enjoyed, and even loved by everyone. I wasn’t even aware of The Queen’s Gallery until Anna told me about it, and what a shame, I feel like I’ve really missed out. While awareness of the gallery is growing through good PR there’s still a hole in its audience profile – a young person shaped hole. Young people, generally, just aren’t aware and have tended to stay away, and so Anna had brilliantly come up with a new plan.

“The exhibition is not just art, but interlaces fashion, even armour, and if you can choose music to go with some of the paintings, we’re thinking of having it in the audio guide. It’s something we’ve never done before…” She sounded a mixture of trepidatious and excited. “We’re really interested in the idea of juxtaposing really new, contemporary music with these Tudor and Stuart works of art, and we think you’re the right person to match the two”.

My mind was already racing, and when she showed me photographs of some of these paintings my head exploded with ideas, lyrics, riffs and toplines. Henry VIII – responsible for the biggest shutdown in UK history – the dissolution of the monasteries and dismantling of the Catholic infrastructure. What better juxtaposition than ‘Shutdown’ by the brilliant bass music artist Suspicious Stench? I love this already! Listening to Stenchman while gazing at a painting made over 450 years ago. Who’d have thought!

So over the past few months I’ve been on the phone to artists, managers, publishers and, with some amazing inspiration from Anna about the stories behind some of these magnificent works of art, I’ve put a playlist together to accompany twelve of the objects you’ll see in the exhibition this summer.

My calling almost every artist personally, explaining the idea, describing the awesome paintings I wanted to partner them up with, and why I’d chosen their track to help tell a particular story, resulted in an astonishing show of support from every single one. I really am bowled over that all the artists I asked – from Chase & Status to UNKLE/James Lavelle, from Nero to Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – said yes.

If you come to this exhibition, and I very much hope you do, you’ll see some astonishing paintings, clothes and armour. Plus, should you choose my section of the audio guide, you’ll have an enhanced experience, and hopefully the music will make you look at, or think about, the works in a different way.

I’ll ask you to imagine a young Henry VIII popping down the courtly walkway, in his finest pulling shirt, to the soundtrack of TC’s ‘Do You Rock’. You’ll consider Charles I coming to terms with his blind faith while Liam Bailey sings those emotional words, “I am a man with a heavy heart, and I dare not turn the pages, biding with automatic self destruction” over Chase & Status’s ‘Blind Faith’, or marvel at a master armourer’s incredible technical work while simultaneously marvelling at Reso’s similarly technical drum programming. You’ll hear a heart-breaking story of love and loss while Belle Humble sings ‘Cracks’ over Flux Pavilion’s amazing remix of The Freestylers, or picture Charles II and his sister dancing in 3/4 waltz time to Adamski.

Heston Blumenthal has experimented with altering the taste of certain food using different sounds – hence the MP3 player with seaside noises when they serve the famous seafood starter at The Fat Duck restaurant. I’m trying to achieve a similar thing here, a whole new layer in your experience and a shift in the way you perceive the works of art, their subject matter, or the way they are realised.

Come to this exhibition to see some beautiful, fascinating, enthralling works of art, accompanied by equally brilliant contemporary music, put together in this context for the first time ever. It will appeal to anyone into art, fashion, history, jewellery, metalwork, music and so on.

I didn’t let politics get in the way of my working on this unprecedented exhibition and I’d ask you to show the same open heart and open mind. It really is a great thing that’s happening and I hope we get to do this again in the future. The musicians and I are proud as punch to be involved and I’m really happy they came to someone like me to do this. It could have ended up very differently. They could have asked Cliff Richard!

Increasing awareness of this unique collection and getting it seen by more and younger people is a noble and commendable thing, and I’m enormously proud to be a part of it. It may not seem so on the surface of things, but this might actually be the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

Huge thanks to the following artists, their management, record labels and publishers for being so nice about this:

James Lavelle/UNKLE
Chase & Status
Lana Del Ray
Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip
Stenchman featuring Flowdan

And below, the official blurb!


In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion is at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 10 May – 6 October 2013. Open daily, 10:00-17:30 (last admission 16:30)

This exhibition explores the sumptuous costume of British monarchs and their court during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through portraits in the Royal Collection. During this period fashion was central to court life and was an important way to display social status. Royalty and the elite were the tastemakers of the day, often directly influencing the styles of fashionable clothing.

In Fine Style follows the changing fashions of the period, demonstrates the spread of styles internationally and shows how clothing could convey important messages. Including works by Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hilliard, Anthony van Dyck and Peter Lely, the exhibition brings together over 60 paintings, as well as drawings, garments, jewellery, accessories and armour.

Ticket Prices (all include complimentary audio tour)
Adult: £9.25
Over 60/Student (with valid ID): £8.50
Under 17: £4.65
Under 5: Free
Family (Two adults, three under 17s): £23.00
Tickets purchased directly from Royal Collection Trust can be converted into a one year pass after your visit, giving twelve months’ complimentary admission to the site(s) you have visited.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection and the promotion of public access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities. The Royal Collection is held in trust by The Queen as Sovereign for her successors and the nation. It is not owned by her as a private individual.

Music previews here