Vicky Lester Kanye West’s harpist

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - Arts -


I’m a free­lance harpist. Last year, I got plucked out of mu­sic school to play with hiphop star Kanye West at the Brit Awards, and this year I joined him at the Con­cert for Diana at Wem­b­ley. To­day we were record­ing Chan­nel 4’s Fri­day Night Project and just get­ting to the stu­dio was stress­ful. Harps take up as much room as peo­ple so I live in a ground-floor flat with a spa­cious liv­ing room – I wouldn’t want it loom­ing over me in bed – and drive an es­tate car. It stalled twice on the way to the stu­dio but I got there even­tu­ally.


I woke up feel­ing tired – we’d spent 13 hours at the stu­dio yes­ter­day. In the af­ter­noon we had re­hearsals for an­other gig for which all the mu­si­cians have to wear fu­tur­is­tic sil­ver lamé dresses – Kanye is very par­tic­u­lar about what he wants vis­ually and mu­si­cally. I was ex­hausted at the end of the day and still had to drive the harp home. You have to be phys­i­cally fit to play the harp and lug it around. It also took a long time to scrape the glit­ter off my face. Some of it is still in­grained in my steer­ing wheel.


I packed the harp to be trans­ported to the V Fes­ti­val the next day. I was ner­vous about send­ing my harp off but it was great to be able to ride around on pub­lic trans­port and have a drink for a change. We re­hearsed at Abbey Road stu­dios un­til mid­night. It is im­pos­si­ble to com­pare the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing classical and pop – they’re struc­tured in com­pletely dif­fer­ent ways. With Kanye, I’m not play­ing the most dif­fi­cult harp pieces, but there is more pres­sure on tim­ing and fit­ting in with his rap and the beats from the DJ.


Got a coach from Kanye’s ho­tel up to Chelms­ford for the V Fes­ti­val. It was such a bril­liant day – my first fes­ti­val as a per­former. Kanye could get mod­els to pose with the in­stru­ments, but he doesn’t – he em­ploys real mu­si­cians and we al­ways play live. One day, I’d re­ally love to be a heavy-metal harpist. My favourite band is Muse.


Un­for­tu­nately, it rained to­day so the fes­ti­val was much less fun. Kanye’s posse didn’t want to get their train­ers dirty so they put plas­tic bags on top of them to walk through the mud. The crowd was still amaz­ing. When Kanye comes out, they go wild. The ground rum­bles un­der­neath your feet.

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