Last summer, Mumford and Sons sent out an invite to their Agora community to be a part of a secret project. That has resulted in four films. The first was directed and produced by Paper Sky Films Ltd. The film went live before Christmas and the responses have been wonderful and we are immensely proud of it.
After the Christmas break, we had a quick catch-up Q&A with Charlie Reader, the fan and 'star' of the first 'Entwined' episode, looking back on the whole process, the making of the film and how his profile as a singer has been heightened as. a result, as well as the extra inspiration and drive the whole experience has given him.
Mumford and Sons launched the video just before Christmas - how are you feeling after the release?
Overwhelmed - I’d say that’s the main word. It’s definitely impacted me, ever more, after the release. I thought the experience alone was amazing and then the video comes out and - especially as a musician - you get a lot of traction, through social media and online messaging, from these diehard Mumford fans. My music is very similar to the Mumford sound, so I’ve definitely picked up a lot of new followers and fans. It’s also motivated me, to push on even more with my music.
We imagine your social media channels received an influx on the release day.
It all went a bit mental for the first few days. At the start, you get your friends and family messaging you, a few people coming out of the woodwork who you haven’t seen or heard from in a while reaching out. Then you have the Mumford fan-base; you read through the comments beneath the video itself and you realise just how nice the fans are - there were so many people who left comments like “All the best to you and your partner” - “Such a lovely story!” and it kind of restores your faith in humanity; I didn’t see any trolls or anyone writing anything nasty. Which feels quite rare on the Internet (laughs).
Take us back to when you first discovered the ‘invite’ online - when Mumford and Sons put a call out online for fans to be a part of their ‘Entwined’ series.
At first, I thought ‘I bet so many people are applying for this, so is there any point in me doing it?’ Then decided that was no harm in trying, I didn’t really plan it - I just thought ‘Let’s go for it’ - so I sat on the sofa, rolled the camera and spoke from the heart. Sent it off, didn’t think much of it and then a few days later, I saw an email pop up titled ‘Mumford and Sons’. My reaction was ‘Oh…what’s this…? That’s not an everyday email…’ (laughs) It was mental, I remember ringing my girlfriend and a few other people to tell them the news - so yeah, that was an awesome moment.
Then that’s where we came in - the Mumford team brought Paper Sky on board and we had the good fortune of being assigned to you to tell your story. We loved the experience - for the folks reading this, would you care to share your own experience of the day itself?
I definitely felt pretty nervous and anxious about it - I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Of course, we had our phone calls and conversations leading up to the day but I wasn’t quite sure on how the actual day itself was going to play out. But soon as we met up for the shoot and had a drink to start things off, it relaxed me for sure; I felt right away that I could trust you and you knew what you’re doing, I definitely felt a lot better from then on.
As part of the day, you were given backstage access in the arena - as a fan, how was it for you experiencing all of that?
At that point, the whole thought of ‘making a film’ went right out of my head because I was so caught in the moment! Which was good, it didn’t make me feel like there was a camera filming me all the time and I actually felt like I was with mates, not a camera crew, which definitely had me feeling relaxed. The whole day was so surreal, from walking into the backstage area of the arena, seeing all the coaches and the gear getting loaded in by the tour crew. I was lead into the green room to chill out and during that period, I had some time to sit down, compose myself and gather my thoughts - that’s when it hits you: ‘Holy s**t this is actually happening!’
And then you got the surprise visit from Ted (Mumford and Son bassist) as well…
Yeah…(laughs) the best I thought would happen - as I’ve met the band before at a signing in HMV, years ago - you go up to them, shake their hands and go ‘Hi! It’s nice to meet you!’ and you move along. But, I was sat there in the green room, and out of nowhere - from around the corner - in walks Ted, with a casual ‘Hey, Charlie!’ It was like a double-take at first: ‘Oh hey… wait…what?!’ and you properly clock it, I remember trying to stay somewhat calm but yeah…that was mental…
What was lovely - and this sadly didn’t make the cut - was how Ted had listened to your music and checked out your website.
When he started talking about my music, saying ‘Oh I see you’ve got two gigs on Saturday, is that right?’ It was another double-take moment, I was like ‘How’d you know that?!’ I did not expect anyone to go out of their way to learn about me - the guys and their team are so busy as it is with being on tour, press and all the rest of it - the only way he could have known the things he asked me about was by going on my website. The fact that he’s done that just shows how thoughtful, genuine and nice they are; they took their time out of their busy, busy schedule to do that. It made me love them even more.
You and Ted really hit things off from the get-go - how did it feel getting a good chunk of time to have a musician-to-musician chinwag together?
I didn’t feel like I had ten seconds to say something, so I don’t think I spoke that much nonsense but any fan would ask themselves: ‘If I could meet such-a-such-a person, what would I say to them?’ and all of that goes out the window, because you start saying the first thing that comes to your head. But it was a two-way conversation, it wasn’t just me spurting stuff at Ted and him politely listening, we had a good back and forth. Definitely something I’ll remember forever.
It was a lot of fun for us to follow you both onto the stage and witness you getting the up-close-and-personal experience of the set-up.
When he took me up on the stage, he was talking me through all the equipment, lighting, pyrotechnics, and as a musician myself I felt there were a lot more talking points than perhaps your average fan would have. It somehow felt both normal, being a musician - we were talking shop - and yet completely surreal because I was hanging out in the Manchester Arena with Ted from Mumford and Sons (laughs).
And let’s not forget Ted pointing to Marcus’ bass drum and tambourine set-up and pointing out how it was similar to yours…
Yeah! Those were things that made the day extra, extra special - those were the moments I remember the most when I came out of there.
Our favourite moment from the film is the ‘sound check scene’ - want to let the rest of us know what was going through your head at the time?
That was the first moment I had on my own since sitting alone in the green room backstage and all of what had transpired started to hit me, I was thinking ‘Oh my god, did that really just happen…?’ So that overwhelmed me and then all of a sudden, back over on the stage, the band started playing - I think it was ‘The Cave’ - and I literally felt like the one fan getting a private performance. All of that accumulated together, it’s when I suddenly got a bit choked up.
Talk us through the day the video was released online - everyone gets a bit nerve-wracked when a film about them is about to be seen by the world - how was it for you?
I was at my nan’s house in Liverpool when the video went live, we were all sat on the sofa watching the film together, which was nice. Everyone was commenting on how amazing it was, both my grandparents were curled up with their iPads watching it on repeat all night (laughs). My reaction to the video itself - I knew I had every faith that it was going to be great in terms of the production and how it was put together on the day itself - I was never worried about that side of things. Although, I was a bit self-conscious and worried about how I would come across, because no one likes to see themselves on camera. But after seeing it, I was really happy with that side of it all, I loved how Paper Sky had edited the film and used my ‘narration’ to carry the story, it was all really nicely cut together - I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would; I thought I would be cringing at myself all the way through it.
You were great, Charlie. Glad you were happy with it. Being a Mumford and Sons fan, as well - were you satisfied with the film as a whole, purely as a viewer?
Absolutely. Personally, I loved the way it was shot - the visuals really elevated the viewing experience and, as a Mumford fan, the the dramatic way it looks was extremely well-suited to the band’s style. And the way the film was put together I think really complimented the story, as well as the fact that comments and reactions were saying how they got chills, that they cried. The story I told means a lot to me, obviously, but it never occurred to me that my experience could impact other people the way it did. Paper Sky clearly knew how to hit the spot and strike the right chords with an audience, as people have reacted in a way that I would have wanted, as well as I imagine what the band and their team would have wanted.
The band and their team did a wonderful thing where they tagged links to your website and social media channels in the video description across all of their own platforms, so the Mumford and Sons fans could find you and listen to your music.
That’s the main thing, the video has boosted my social media channels and Mumford fans are the kind of fans you want, they’re - what you call - ‘superfans,’ which is really nice as I only have one or two videos on my pages and they’ve drawn in some attention. So when I finally release more music and videos this year, it’s definitely going to have a response. I feel like it’s planted seeds for a new fan-base and I feel ready more than ever to release new stuff.
You deserve it. We’ve listened to your music, and this may sound biased, but we’re now fans as well. Do you have any final words before we let you go?
As a musician when you get an opportunity like this, you don’t want to sit back and be happy with what you get - after the video came out, I felt more motivated to push on to the next step. It gave me a taste for more attention on social media, the backstage access and sound-check walk-through gave me a bigger hunger to keep making music and press on with my career. It’s made me look forward to the future, keep working hard and release new music. And hopefully - with Paper Sky - we’ll be making a new music video together in the near future!
Absolutely. What’s the plan for 2020, then?
I’m going to try and release music and videos every other month or so, keep that momentum going, 2020 is definitely going to be a year where I move to the next step.
And to keep an eye on Charlie as his career makes headway, go to: