Ballantine’s Scotch whisky and Felipe Pantone team up to create a series of vibrant spaces for young artists.

Ballantine’s Scotch whisky have teamed up with world-renowned graffiti artist Felipe Pantone for their True Music Series. Pantone will use the vibrant and colourful artwork he created for this year’s Ballantine’s Finest and 12 Year Old True Music Series limited editions to create visually stimulating spaces that inspire and foster True Music artists to produce, perform and play the music they love.

Last month, Nii played host to the first True Music Series space after undergoing an inspiring transformation for local artists to perform the music they love. Home to Gost Zvuk, one of the most influential underground record labels in Moscow, Nii is a music community that works collaboratively with homegrown producers, artists, sound engineers and musicians. As part of the True Music Series takeover, Felipe’s artwork connected to sound reactive projectors, creating its own equaliser and allowing musicians to experience a visual representation of the music they produce and play within the space, ensuring a performance experience like no other for the artists and fans alike. The True Music Series space in Moscow has hosted a series of special events all aimed at pushing the boundaries of the local music scene through art-led music experiments.

Ballantine’s has a long-held dedication to music. Tom Elton, Head of Music at Ballantine’s, helped to develop the True Music Series, with his input across the various Ballantine’s True Music platforms, something he’s been keen to be involved in for years: “I’ll never forget the first time I went to Glastonbury when I was a kid…seeing the power of music unite thousands of people in such a positive way, it stuck with me forever.” To be able to take one of my biggest passions, music, and turn it into a career that sees me travel the world to get under the skin of the amazing scenes, well, that’s pretty much the dream.” The choice to previously collaborate with likeminded companies such as Boiler Room soon became an clear one for Elton, who explains that “the key reason is because Boiler Room is so unique and fits our Ballantine’s brand ethos of ‘Stay True’ seamlessly. Moreover, no one else matches what they do on a global scale – Boiler Room gives us incredible reach, so we can bring True Music to fans all over the world. Overall, it is a hugely collaborative partnership with a long-term vision.” This eye to the future is something crucial for Elton, who sees the future of the True Music Series as being just as important as the present: “With True Music Series our aim is to create credible campaigns so we can shine a spotlight on upcoming artists and cultural scenes while connecting with whisky and music fans around the world, providing them with new and exciting experiences.”

With this in mind, working with Pantone was an easy choice for Elton. There are few artists who are really making waves internationally while creating forward-thinking and truly striking art, but Felipe is definitely one of them. With a passion and affinity for music as well as art, Felipe was an obvious choice for us and we couldn’t be happier with the bold, music-inspired limited edition gift packs he has produced.”

We caught up with Pantone about the project, his art, and who he is listening to right now.

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
No I had no idea. All I wanted to do was graffiti until I went to art school (randomly as well, because my mum wanted me to study something), and then I realised what being an artist meant, and then I was like oh, I can do that.

There is a glitchy, hallucinogenic aspect to your art – how much are you creatively inspired by the internet and technology?
Very. I’m very inspired by the internet and technology. I think the internet is one of the three biggest inventions in human history – the first being the invention of writing; the second being the invention of printing. It affects my work; the way I make work, the way I show my work, the way I see the world and how I talk about it.

What would you say are the main themes that run through your work?
Dynamism, transformation, speed, impermanence; all of things I think are characteristic of the world that we live in.

How important do you think the visual side to music is?
I think it makes sense to create visual art with music. The same way music enhances films, visual art enhances music.

Do you think it is important for artists to be multi-disciplinary, and open to collaborating with different media?
I think change of disciplines is really good for creativity. Having new limits creates new challenges to overcome.

You do a lot of public space art as well as private space collections, do you enjoy one more than the other?
No, actually I like them the exact same amount. Working on the street does have its limitations like police chasing you, the fact it’s raining or you’ve brought the wrong paints because it’s dark. All of those factors mean you have to come up with an idea of how it’s going to work, but that’s really cool, I really like that. On the other hand, you then work in a white cube and you can do whatever you want in your beautiful studio which gives you all the freedom to create, that’s also really good.

In a time where the world is so divided, what role does art and music have to play in helping to reunite people?
I don’t think the world is divided at all, I think in many ways, we’re way more connected than we used to be. Nowadays, as an artist – and I guess it’s the same with musicians – you can see the work of other artists from all over and come up with ways of collaborating which brings people together.

How crucial is it for brands like Ballantine’s to use their platform to give opportunities to underground or up-and-coming musicians, as they are with their True Music Series?
I think it’s crucial for brands and institutions to use their resources to invest in culture in any way. The Ballantine’s True Music series is all about giving artists a platform to share and visualise music which I thought was interesting.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist a lot, and right now, I’m listening to a lot of John Maus, Buvette, Bad Bunny and Tom Waits, just to give a few.