EXCLUSIVE: The making of the…FINTECH RAP BATTLE: Monzo vs Starling in The Fintech Magazine
Fintech’s legendary spat between the UK’s Monzo and Starling banks, led by former colleagues, now rivals, Tom Blomfield and Anne Boden, has stoked gossip, insider commentary… and a book. Now it’s a rap. Conceived and created by Fintech Finance’s home-grown hip-hop legends – with guest support from (the real) US artist Coolio – it features guest ‘appearances’ from a stellar line-up of fintech founders… and the odd unicorn (of course). This is the true story of how the FINTECH RAP BATTLE: MONZO vs STARLING was made
We’re getting the juicy details from all the key players from the costume designer to the lyricist… So, buckle in, and get your hip hop hands at the ready…its about to go down.
Ali Paterson – Video Manager & Director
First up, we’re talking to the creative genius, the maverick and the visionary, Ali Paterson. As well as being Editor-in-Chief of Fintech Finance, Paterson first got the ball rolling with the Fintech Rap Battle. We caught up with him to get the latest…
Why a rap battle?
I love Epic Rap Battles of History. I love fintech. I thought, why not put them together? It’s as simple as that! Even though fintech is becoming more mainstream, it still is incredibly niche. I think the chances of them doing a rap battle between Monzo and Starling is slim to none. And I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no rap battle between the British banks!
How did you get started?
We sat down with a lot of ex-employees from the banks before Anne’s book was released, and they told us about lots of different things that had happened – lots of behind the scenes stories… so every line has a reference to something … and there are a lot of visual gags too.
With a lot of research, Lewis was able to interpret and bring everything into the rap itself.
Coolio made a cameo appearance! Any others that we should look out for?
Lewis was in the bear outfit!
Why is it important to show content in a different medium?
Because otherwise it’s just black and white boring.
What’s your overall vision for the video?
This is not about Monzo versus Starling. This is very much a love letter to everything fintech. All the people that we’re representing are absolutely amazing. And the fact that there’s so much entertainment, drama and details happening in the fintech space is amazing.
Lewis Averillo-Singh – Writer of the rap & Videographer
The hero of the hour is undoubtedly rapper extraordinaire, Lewis Averillo-Singh, who not only wrote the rap, but he also performed it, filmed the scenes, and made a cameo. Legend. We managed to snag a quick chat with this magnificent multi-tasker to find out more.
You’re a Fintech Finance camera guy and a rapper? Tell us more!
I’ve got a degree in film making, and I’m a videographer for Fintech Finance. So usually, my job would entail travelling the world and being behind the camera. But [writing rap] is more creative and it gets me excited. It’s fun! I never imagined I’d be able to do this, but it’s fun – very, very cool. I’ve been [writing rap] since I was about eight years old. I loved hip hop and rap as soon as I heard it from my older cousins when I was about seven… It’s only recently that I’ve started to record them, put them out there and share them. [Editor in Chief of Fintech Finance] Ali’s been really supportive of that, and I think that’s why he, you know, trusted me with this whole thing.
What was it like to have rap legend Coolio feature in your video?
We thought he was going to say, like a ten second intro, but he went and gave us way more. It was surreal!
How did you decide on the right level of banter?
Ali and I had lots of meetings about specific lyrics. There was a moment when we were like, how scathing do we want to be? … There have been hard times for everyone, so we’ve taken that into account, and we didn’t want it to be mean or anything – I want it to be good fun!
How do you think will the founders react?
I’m excited to see! I hope that they will take it in the spirit of good fun, which is how we were making it.
What advice would you give to any budding fintech rappers out there?
I think just really, really stick to who you are and be authentic to yourself ,100%.
Actor Anto Sharp on playing Tom Blomfield:
Anto Sharp is no stranger to comedy videos online, and he did a stellar job portraying Monzo’s famously confident founder, Tom Blomfield. We sneaked in for a quick interview to discover more.
How did you approach the role?
I went in with the comedic flare and high energy!
Give us some tips for impersonating Tom Blomfield?
He sort of puts his shoulders back and hands together quite a lot. And he’s very sure of his stuff! He’s very confident.
What was the best bit of filming?
There were lots of good bits, and a lot of shots with the green screen where things would be falling on me. Like there’s a massive book which will fall on me, so I need to act like I am being squashed by a book. There’s one [scene] where I’m a barman and I have to turn around and act shocked when he gets out his Monzo card.
“There’s no mistaking the hot coral card, when I order at a bar, I watch the cashier say ‘Ah’!
What was the most Blomfield bit?
There’s a part where I make it rain with money, it was really fun to stand up on a box and shower fake money all over the room – which I think he must be doing in real life with all of his wealth and confidence! It was a lot of fun to play.
How would you describe the experience in three words?
Fun, boisterous, electrifying!
Actress Gilda Waugh on playing Anne Boden
We were so impressed with her performance; we don’t know whether to call this actress Gilda Waugh or Gilda WOW!! Waugh’s no stranger to impersonating bad-asses, as well as Anne Boden she’s played Angela Merkel and Mary Berry in the past. We caught up with her to find out more about how she got into the role and what is was like to step into the legendary Boden’s shoes.
How did you nail the audition?
When I did the audition, I did a bit of homework before the Zoom call. I put on an outfit that resembles what Anne wears – like a shawl over a dress – and put my hair on one side. When the others joined and asked if I’d researched the look, I said [in a Welsh accent], “Oh no no, I don’t know what she does or what she’s like at all!” and I did all the right hand gestures and everything. We all started laughing!
What was it like to rap and play Anne Boden at the same time?
It was very challenging – I mean, I’ve done Shakespeare and I found it more challenging than Shakespeare!
I worked at the lines for a good few weeks – I was practicing them in fields at the top of my voice! I thought, I’ve got to get these lines in my head, because its rapping and I’ve never rapped in my life! At first, I wasn’t sure what I was going on about, but as the days went by I started to understand it more.
But I was glad that I could get it and that I got it done – That’s another box I can tick!
“I talk like a boss, because that’s what I am.
I heard you’re making a loss? Guess I’ll see you on OnlyFans”.
What are the give-away Anne Boden characteristics?
She makes fists with her hands quite a bit, and then she holds her hands quite flat. And she does these gestures with her hands – she’s an animated person, you know? Quite a lively sort of woman! That’s what I get from her. And she looks like a good laugh as well… I’d like to read her book! She’s one of those people who I think are always very inspiring.
How do you think Anne Boden will react?
She’ll laugh her head off!
Jordan Drew – Video editor & Co-director
Oh, the magic of the green screen! It’s given us so many great moments that slap the COVID social distancing rules right where it hurts. Not only that, but it also means we can see our favourite founders flying around, dancing with unicorns, and getting squashed by a book… we heart green screens. And who is the wizard behind this trickery? It’s none other than the wonderful Jordan Drew! We caught up him to find out more.
How did this all come about?
Well, Ali came up with the idea – which sort of moved over to Lewis actually writing the rap, recording and producing the music. It’s convenient Lewis is a great rapper! Then I came in with directing the visual side of it. Although Lewis – since he obviously wrote the rap – had loads of ideas for what could be going on visually as he wrote it. So, he stepped into the role of directing too. Even right on the day in the studio, we were bouncing ideas off each other!
How did you shoot all the scenes with the social distancing rules?
So, as one person arrived for hair and makeup … they would do that while we were filming another person. And it just kind of revolved around. It worked pretty well!
Obviously, the advantage of doing everything with a green screen is that we can put people wherever we want [later in the edits]. So, at times, there were people in the same shot, who we didn’t shoot together. It does take a bit of planning!
Have you ever filmed the real founders?
Oh yeah! I think we’ve pretty much [filmed] all of them! I think they’ll find it funny… it’s very light-hearted. It’s a funny way to showcase all these different companies as well.
Emily Leaff Pond – Costume Design
It’s one thing having talented actors and fierce rhymes, but what really brings it all together is the look! Taking these characters to the next level was Emily Leaff Pond from www.emilyleaffpond.com, with a bit of research and a lot of skill, she created the perfect wardrobes for our founders. We asked her more about the experience.
How did you decide on the looks?
I picked a key piece of clothing for some, for instance Kristo always wears this brown cord jacket. Then for others they have recurring themes in their looks. Anne Boden always seems to wear these navy dresses with a silk scarf. It was quite a lot of fun!
Which fintech founder has the most iconic look?
Anne Boden definitely. While Will.i.am has a lot of iconic looks they vary quite a lot. However, Anne Boden has a very distinctive look – the blue dress and the scarf always!
How can we recreate Anne Boden / Tim Blomfield’s looks? Any top tips?
Top tip of Anne is to grab a big, patterned silk scarf and a shapeless navy dress and flaunt your stuff. I think she quite likes a Hermes scarf, but I found some good ones on amazon. Tom Blomfield is a comfy pair of chinos and a grey shirt, very easy!
What was your favourite moments?
There was a constant flow of people, so all the actors were only in for a few hours. So, meeting a lot of people was fun. However, I think the teddy bear costume was the best moment. Especially Lewis, who was the producer, in the costume.
Louise Collins – Casting Director
Getting the cast right is an essential part of any video, and for that we must thank Louise Collins of Collins Casting. Here she walks us through the process of finding blooming brilliant Blomfields and beautifully bodacious Bodens!
Can you tell me about the casting process? How does it work?
Sure! Firstly, we take a look at the brief and who we need to cast. The most important thing for casting the heads of the financial services was to firstly ensure physical likeness to who we are casting. Secondly, we check that they had good performing, comedy, rap skills! Actors trained in musical theatre were naturally very good at this. Thirdly, it was also important for us to cast some people who had a good social media following as this is going to be shared online, so we want to boost the audience.
Any top tips?
Yes, we also researched comedy groups and comedy awards to look for the best comedians.
How did you find the whole process?
It was a really fun experience, and the rap is hilarious, so watching the audition tapes and offering feedback to our performers was really enjoyable. Thank you to everyone who took part in auditioning!
If you’d like to see Fintech’s finest battle it out in the glorious medium of rap, you can check it out now. There’ll be unicorns, handstands, and even poor Tom Blomfield getting kicked in the face by an Alpaca.
Spoiler Alert: You may never feel the same way about fintech again.