Behind the scenes of a Brit Awards after-party


Taylor Swift and Ellie GouldingImage copyright
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It’s one of the biggest parties after one of the biggest award shows in music.

The Brits Awards after-party hosted by record label Universal has, unsurprisingly, hosted some major names – from Taylor Swift and Ellie Goulding to Katy Perry and Lewis Capaldi.

This year the likes of Billie Eilish, Sam Fender and Celeste will be in attendance.

But how do you plan a memorable party for celebrities who are regular partygoers?

Claire Haffenden and Ashton Attzs – the brains behind this year’s Universal party – are the people who know, and Radio 1 Newsbeat has been chatting to them.

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Billie Eilish will be one of the biggest names to attend this year’s after-party

Like any party worth attending, you can imagine there are some basics – a venue to start with, as well as food, drink and music.

“And a fantastic guest list,” says Claire, the director of artist relations and events at Universal Music UK. “It’s not complicated!”

But with so many stellar stars attending, surely there has to be something special?

Claire’s party trick is visual artist Ashton Attzs, whose artwork has inspired this year’s entire party.

From the lighting to handwritten invites, table cards and even the car park passes, Claire says everything goes through Ashton’s artwork.

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Carsten Windhorst

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Ashton says there are “always conversations to see how we can engage people”

“We’ve tried to create an invite which has a real sense of excitement from the moment you open it. There’s a limited edition special postcard inside which is a lovely keepsake too,” says Claire.

With the likes of Billie Eilish taking home these special prints, it’s a proud moment for Ashton, who’s non-binary and uses the pronouns them/they.

“That’s mad – crazy – and I’m honestly over the moon. I have to pinch myself every day,” they say.

‘Immerse yourself’

Ashton says they designed two pieces, called turnheads and turntables, as part of a celebration of uniqueness.

“I take iconic symbols linked to Universal, like the vinyl, and I celebrate individual artists’ diversity. But ultimately, it’s just a celebration of music and the individual.”

They say colour is the “driving force” behind their work.

“I like to pick out colours that are strong and dynamic and make people feel joyful.”

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Claire Haffenden

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Claire has been in her role at Universal UK since 2008

The setpiece this year will be an immersive photographic room – where you can be in the artwork.

“You literally immerse yourself in the arts and you’re one of the characters. So it creates magic moments of people having great fun and celebrating,” says Claire.

And whilst you might expect A-List parties to have VIP areas – this one won’t.

Claire says instead of people wondering “what’s behind there?”, everyone is together and “having a ball – which is why they’re able to let their hair down”.

“We want a friends and family celebration, and if you can stay true to that, the magic will happen with the people and the music.”

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Getty Images

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“We’ve had moments when artists DJ and it erupts”

In a place full of the best musicians, getting the music right is obviously pretty important.

“It’s the music and people that make a great party. We’ve got great DJs that we work with and the artists.”

Claire’s favourite moment from past parties is when artists take control of the music.

“One year we had Ellie Goulding and Katy Perry DJ, and the room erupted.

“And I think that’s what makes it unique – it’s a celebration.”

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