KCL French and Hispanic Studies student, Faustine Buttenshaw, has left studying to pursue singing career. Would you risk it too?
Most of us harbour a secret dream. We imagine ourselves doing what we truly love and have a passion for. In our heads we embark on careers that they would have advised us against at school; something our parents would have awkwardly steered us away from towards a safer path. Something with better job prospects. But for Faustine, the dream became too all consuming, and now after having just completed the second year of her degree, she leaves King’s for a two year hiatus to put all her energy into becoming the next big thing.
‘I was always going to have some kind of higher education’, she tells me curled up on her sofa. ‘It’s been a case of- I’m going to sing but this just has to be done first. When I had to make the decision between Uni and a performing arts school, that was easy too. I didn’t want the stigma of being a performing arts girl- bitchy, and…’ Her voice trails off and she laughs infectiously. ‘I just wanted to have an academic background and to go to uni but also be in London in the thick of the music scene.’
When I ask her whether leaving King’s was a difficult decision to make, she hesitates musingly. ‘I wouldn’t trade my time at King’s for anything. I loved it. If in two years time, I’m nowhere then I will come back. But I can do a lot in two years and I really hope that’s not the case. I knew I had to do this now because the year abroad would have started in September (a year abroad is mandatory on many of the KCL language based courses) and I’d have had to leave London for a year. It was like I would have to say goodbye to my dream and I wasn’t ready to do that yet.’
‘My tutor cried when I told her I was going to leave. She said, ‘You have talent; you’re going to do it. Not only do you have the talent, but you have brains.’ She was so supportive and so lovely.’
I’m completely taken with Faustine’s striking self-belief as she confidently looks me in the eye. A tattoo on her arm just showing out of her short-sleeve shirt reads, ‘It’s all part of the master plan’ which prompts me to ask: what is her master plan?
‘Well, short term: writing a lot. I went to France this summer to see family, which always makes me feel more emotional. It’s theraputic to get away and I find I can write more easily. I wrote a song called ‘Life Could Be Worse’ when I was at my Grandparents’, miles away from anyone or anything. I went down to the valley and had an amazing view of the Pyrenees and starting thinking: why do I let myself get flustered by the small things when in reality I have a great life? I wrote the song in five minutes, melody and lyrics, which is rare for me.’
‘Longer term plans, I’ll be gigging a lot to see what people respond to and what people don’t. I’ll also be meeting a lot with my producer and talking about the direction I want to go in and what kind of artist I want to be. In the past, for musicals or performances, I’ve been given songs and had to perform them in a certain way or act them out but now – cliche as it sounds – I have to find my voice. I don’t want to create commercial stuff that’s going to be forgotten.’
She flashes me a grin and starts to list off a reel of current artists she considers to be simply a flash in the pan, one hit wonders. ‘As much as I like to be ridiculous and have a good time, when it comes to music, I’m very serious. So my music may not be a reflection of my personality, but it is a reflection of my art. Like Adele: she’s not depressing all the time, she just sings depressing songs!’
Her advice for anyone wanting to go down a similar route is merely this: ‘Get involved. I was in three musical theatre productions at Kings and was really active within KCLSU. Also, I would always say, if you have reason to believe that what you’re dreaming could be a reality, make it a reality. Don’t live your life thinking, ‘What if?’.
I can’t help but feel we’ll see a lot more from Faustine. Not only does she have the ambition and drive but she certainly has the talent- which I gathered from the impromptu riffs and ad libs she dropped in during our conversation that placed her somewhere between Beyonce and Jessie J stylistically. I leave her flat feeling a boost of positivity and start musing on ways to bring a few of my smaller dreams to life.
www.facebook.com/faustinebuttenshaw / @FaustinaMusic