Livewire’s Christmas charity singles pit boys against girls

You’ve never seen the Pogues done like this

Charity christmas uea

The Livewire boys and girls have gone head to head in a charity fundraising event for Shelter by releasing their own Christmas singles. 

The boys’ video and the girls’ video are on Youtube and we interviewed the musical masterminds, Thomas Rees and Siân Cooper, behind the singles.

What inspired you to make the video?

Thomas: The main inspiration came from the male Livewirers of two years ago, who produced a version of Stay Another Day. We’re hoping that some of the stars of that video become famous in the radio or music industries so we can bring that out to the media and embarrass them/make a tidy profit.

We didn’t do anything last year for no good reason, so we wanted to come back this year with something bigger and better.

Siân: It used to be a Livewire tradition that each Christmas, we’d try and raise as much money as we can for a charity. After not doing it last year, we knew we had to step up and produce something amazing that will thrash the boys and want to make people donate as much as they can to make our video win!

It was after the new John Lewis advert was released a few of us girls were in the media centre saying how much we loved them, and then ideas started to fly everywhere and we thought a John Lewis advert mash up would be so much fun.

Who was involved in making the video?

Thomas: There were a load of us (about 20) who contributed in some way to the project – but there are a few people who deserve a special mention: Tom Cooke, without whose directorial and organisational skills the video just wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it is; Will Shears, who isn’t in the video but put in the hard work behind the camera and editing; Mike Price, Livewire’s Lord of the Things, who for some reason just happens to have a tiny piano and a drysuit; Sean Harbottle and Harry Radcliffe, who brought the bars to my beats and turned the rap verses from a gimmick into the best bit of the song. And then I did the music.

Siân: All the girls had an active role in making it. We had one hilarious meeting where we came together with all our ideas and watched the John Lewis adverts over and over deciding which ones would be funniest. We all wanted to make this something we could look back and think of our UEA experience, so we storyboarded around all the best bits of UEA. The swan even featured!

But I filmed and edited it all together, and I think it’s better than my practical coursework (probably because I spent more time on this… shh, don’t tell). But everyone pulled together with Issy Panayis in charge of trying to get us to sound half decent (a challenge) and all the girls giving up a lot of time for filming.

How long did it take to make?

Thomas: The most time-consuming part of the process was getting all the guys in to sing on the song. I laid down all the instrumentation and arrangements in a couple of days, but then it was a good week before the choir was in place, during which time I locked myself in Livewire’s version of Abbey Road (which is basically a glorified store cupboard with a Mac in it) and went a little bit crazy trying to produce the audio. The video was all filmed the day before the deadline, which took a few hours,many then another few hours for editing.

Siân: It took about four weeks in total, a very hungover post LCR Sunday was spent four hours singing and dancing in our dressing gowns in the square. Then four separate filming days with a few hours of editing.

Why are you raising money for Shelter specifically? 

Thomas: Because they aim to provide for those who are living with bad housing or homelessness. Their work is very important all year round but especially so in the cold winter months.

Obviously there’s loads of good causes we could have chosen but we had to pick one, so that’s what we went for. But we’ve just been busy raising money for Movember too, so charity at Livewire doesn’t ever really stop.

Siân: It was a decision made by the Livewire Committee, boys and girls, as it’s a charity that really helps people that are less fortunate than us to enjoy Christmas – as it’s the season to be happy!

Where did you decide to film on campus?

Thomas: We sort of snuck into the LCR on Saturday morning with crates of Capri-Suns and a tiny piano, drawing some interesting looks from the cleaners. Plus there was an open day going on at the same time, so we’d have groups of bemused sixth formers stumbling upon a group of 20-ish year olds staggering around holding soft drinks. I think we probably sold UEA to them.

Then we did a bit in the library (I’m not sure how we managed to get a guitar in there), quite a bit in the square (having previously been a flash mob of one dancing to Drake’s Hotline Bling in the square on a Monday lunchtime, it was nice and quiet), and some stuff by the lake. And in the lake.

Siân: We filmed everywhere (except in the Lake like the boys managed to do). Lake, Square, Campus Kitchen, Chill Out Zone, Hive etc.

How much did it cost to produce?

Thomas: I don’t think the video cost that much. Our director Tom Cooke bought about six boxes of Capri-Suns but otherwise we just happened to have everything we needed.

Of course, that’s the monetary cost. Emotionally I had a bit of a breakdown halfway through. But huge thanks to the support I’ve had from the guys and even more so from certain individual/s in the opposition, without whom I would have struggled to complete my bit. You saved Christmas!

Siân: Nothing. Apart from costumes (I’m talking 90p for a lego old man to stick on Tess’ (The Moon) face, and £1.50 for a bald cap. But people were more than willing!

Do you have any funny anecdotes from the experience?

Thomas: The video went by without too much of a hitch really, so there’s no major anecdotes. In many ways we got all the funniest bits on camera. At one point I run into a fence, which was certainly not planned since I have the bruises to prove it.

You’ve really got to rewatch and rewatch the video to get all the background details, especially during the rap scene. Just go through and watch what everyone is doing, since everyone is doing something funny that you can’t take in all at once.

Siân: The best moment of my life was covering Tess Robinson’s face in shaving foam to be the moon. We had to base her face with sudocream (as recommended by union shop staff) and then layer on shaving foam, but we couldn’t keep a straight face so there was cream flying everywhere.

To donate to the boys’ video, click here, and to donate to the girls’ video click here.