Here on The Back Building it’s no secret that we love a porn star or a drag queen. But I recently worked with someone on a top secret project that is so exciting I thought we should speak to him more and see what else has been going on. Meet Joseph Harwood who has the skill to turn your face into a living, breathing Lichenstein portrait. Earlier this year he won Simon Cowell’s YouGen makeup artist award and now he is being commissioned by The Daily Mail for video tutorials as well as launching his own line.
Hey Joseph, what age did you begin to get into makeup? I’ve always lived in a dressing up box. The idea of transformation and becoming new characters has been something I’ve always been very attracted to, but I only really started playing with makeup when I became a teenager. I began wearing foundation to hide acne and then through my love of painting, I decided to translate my portraiture onto myself. I guess it was a mix of my obsession with the 90s supermodels and how cathartic painting was that inspired me to start translating my ideas more literally into makeup.
Did you ever think ‘Um, this isn’t what boys are supposed to like’?
I have a distinct memory of coming home from reception class in school and announcing to my entire family that I’d found my future husband, I was actually talking about a girl but I’ve always been someone to make up my own rules, and my family for the most part go along with it. They’re the only people who really have an impact on me, but I definitely have a really punk attitude when it comes to the sense of fitting in with the mundane. I’ve naturally had a very gender ambiguous face and I think growing up being mistaken for a girl kinda steered my interests and led me into experimenting with my own image. One thing that I’ve always preached is something my mum said to me, that if I’m going to stand out in anyway for the way I look, make it look expensive. I think it’s a rule to live by, just have value to what you do and it’ll work out.
Scissor Sisters’ album Night Work will forever be in my Top 10. Firstly it feels like a complete piece of work with the same themes running throughout. Secondly those themes are all about bumming! I remember Jake saying at time, that he was fed up that so many Mums were buying Scisor Sisters albums in supermarkets, so the band decided to go hardcore homosexual. It obviously alienated a lot of their fans but I loved that they didn’t give a shit and needed to produce this epic piece of pop music faggotry. Every track shocked me and made me want to head to The Eagle. I never thought they had it in them…so to speak.
But after ten years the band have decided to have a break and pursue solo projects. First up is Del Marquis who has hooked up with Xavier to cover the Jermaine Jackson/DEVO duet ‘Let Me Tickle Your Fancy.’ You can watch the video below and download the free EP at www.delmarquis.com/tickle
What’s the story behind your name change? As far as stage names? Del is a nickname for Derek - in the UK, there are so many variations on a birth name; I could be Degsy, Deggars, Dez, Daz…Del. Marquis was down to the fact that I liked Dandyism at the time, so it was a suitable last name…pretentious.
What inspires you when you’re writing music? There are so many ways in; movies, a word, a loop. I’ve started songs from the top down; starting with lyrics, and the bottom up, built around a loop or sample.
Are there plans for a solo album/tour? I’ve got a record under the name Slow Knights, which involves a rotating group of collaborators. After a decade of touring, I can say it’s something I never want to do again, but I’m planning a few shows in NY.
Are you branching out into other media beyond music? I’ve worked on videos with my collaborator Embryoroom, usually as a producer doing anything from set design, props & budgeting. I’m formally trained as a furniture designer, though I’m not sure I’d ever go back to be being a straight up & down designer… I like to incorporate the different skills I have.
What music are you listening to at the moment? Some newly added music on my Rdio playlist; Discodromo, Cos/Mes, Hot Toddy, George Fitzgerald, Larry Heard, Moullinex, Tim Hecker. Loved the last Usher record, Miguel…but the Tegan and Sara record trumps them all as far as pop music is concerned.
Who tickles your fancy right now? In terms of pleasure & disgust, any celebrity that has the misfortune to end up in the Daily Mail, I’m sustained by those ridiculous stories…even better is reading the comments - so vile!
What is your favourite Scissor Sisters track? 'Skin Tight.' I love that song…could be a Stevie Nicks song. Also a song titled 'Sadistic', which I don’t think got an official release…it’s the only Scissors song that sounds like my guitar playing without a filter.