Last week Up My Street was in sun-drenched Belgrade, Serbia. This week during the buzz of the Olympics, we stay in London, our home city, with Neil Gillespie. The drummer for Cymbals and an illustrator, his work has been commissioned by the likes of Hiut Denim, CLASH Magazine, and Openhouse festival. We caught up with Neil to hear about his neighborhood of Bethnal Green and to find out how his two pursuits feed off each other, one being a solitary, individual activity and the other very public and collaborative.
“It’s nice to work on your own and produce work by yourself but it’s equally as rewarding writing and playing music with people you love spending time with. I mean they are totally different, you’re never expected to draw in-front of a large audience which is a relief but then you don’t get an applause when you finish a drawing! Playing drums is more physical and instinctive which is fun but carting your gear around London isn’t so fun. There’s definitely a time for both.”
Hailing from Northern Ireland, you still do some illustration work for clients around Belfast, how does that work now that you’re in London?
“A lot of my illustration jobs have been for Northern Irish clients. When I started producing work for a couple of bands over there it got my work circulating and it opened other doors. A few friends who are graphic designers back home have sent work my way and over the years we’ve teamed up on various different projects. Northern Ireland is home and I love it but it doesn’t have the same zeal as over here. London’s intense. I think I’ll stick around for a bit.”
Which neighborhood do you live in?
Bethnal Green in East London
What is the name of your street?
Where do you spend most of your time?
Probably South of the river in Waterloo where I work in a Day Centre for the Homeless.
What is your favourite local business?
“EX-trim” hair dressers. Really nice guy and the most thorough “two back n sides” I’ve ever had. He trims your whole hair line, even round your ears, with a cut-throat razor. Pretty “EX-trim” indeed.
Where can you get the best local bargain?
Mr Bull’s Butchers on Roman Road do two large packets of spare ribs for a fiver! I hope that deal’s still on, so good.
Who is the most inspiring person in your neighbourhood?
Karen, my wife.
Where is your favourite place to go on a sunny day?
Sun? If only. Victoria park is mainly on the agenda when the sun’s out. BBQ’s, beers and amateur sport. Last year we played cricket with this yellow plastic bat all day until dark. It got pretty serious.
Where is your favourite place to go on a rainy day?
Straight home. I keep getting absolutely soaked whilst cycling.
What is your favourite secret place/thing?
My friends have this amazing garden that feels like a little sanctuary. It’s a lovely place to spend time in with its silver-birch, wild flowers and tree house.
Where is your favourite place to eat?
Upstairs in The Crown do a mighty fine Roast. The view over Victoria Park’s nice too.
Where is your favourite place to drink?
Wherever the company’s at.
Is there any street art in your neighbourhood you like?
There are a few big pieces by Billy & Malarky on Roman Road that I’m in to, they’re really playful and the colours are great.
What is your favourite memory since you have lived on your street?
Leaving from our flat on my wedding day. Heading to the corner cafe with “the lads” for a cooked breakfast then getting suited and booted in the flat was special.
Cymbals are playing 14th August at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen with Violens and Dawn Hunger. Buy tickets here.