Clean Bandit star backs Elton John over touring music visa ‘nightmare’

·3 min read

Clean Bandit star Grace Chatto has voiced her support for Sir Elton John over visa issues for musicians touring in the European Union, describing the situation as “a complete nightmare”.

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the bloc and have prompted fears that touring artists will incur large fees in many of the countries they visit.

In August, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had negotiated with 19 EU countries to allow British musicians and performers to conduct short tours without the need for a visa, but this was condemned by Sir Elton as a “rehash of what we already know”.

Ivor Novello Awards 2021
Nile Rodgers (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The singer and cellist from the Grammy winning dance-classical band was among the nominees and judges walking the red carpet at the Ivor Novello Awards at Grosvenor House in London on Tuesday.

Chatto, 35, told the PA news agency: “I am right behind Elton John. He is always flying the flag for good. The situation with visas already is a complete nightmare, so something has to be done about it.”

On the event, she said: “I think this awards ceremony is an optimistic one because the writers are so diverse and there is so much relevant music.

“I was lucky to be on the panel judging for best album, so I got to listen to 100 albums really carefully, which is way more albums that I usually listen to in a year.”

Ivor Novello Awards 2021
MNEK (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Chic star Nile Rodgers told PA he had been performing nearly every night since coronavirus restrictions lifted.

He also revealed the list of acts he has collaborated with recently, saying: “I have been doing a different artist, almost two to three a week.

“I will be doing a full album project with the Zutons who have now reorganised and got back together. I just did Idina Menzel. I just did, Ariana Grande and John Legend – we finished that a couple of days ago. It’s been amazing.”

Hipgnosis Songs Fund co-founder Merck Mercuriadis, a former music manager, criticised the major record labels for the amount of money received by songwriters from streaming.

Ivor Novello Awards 2021
Shaznay Lewis and Melanie Blatt of the All Saints (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Asked if they were paid enough, he said: “Of course not, but that is not the streaming companies’ fault. That is the record companies’ fault. Songwriters absolutely deserve to get paid more money and songwriters will get paid more money if we have anything to do with it.

“There are a lot of changes that need to be made. You asked about Britain – one of the things we are all delighted about is the role the DCMS (Committee) and Government politicians, who have brought it to the Government attention that songwriters deserve to get paid more money.”

Former One Direction star Harry Styles and his Watermelon Sugar co-writer Kid Harpoon, Lewis Capaldi, Joel Corry and MNEK are among the acts nominated at the awards.

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