Vicky Lester Kanye West’s harpist
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.