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Ben UFO / The Black Madonna / Craig Richards Gerd Janson / Heidi / Honey Dijon / Horse Meat Disco Job Jobse / Jazzanova / Leon Vynehall / Midland Mood II Swing / Optimo / Palms Trax Paranoid London / Prosumer / Studio Barnhus Tim Sweeney / Tony Humphries / Young Marco Alex Dallas / Andy Hart / Apiento / Banoffee Pies / Beautiful Swimmers / Begin / Bill Brewster / Call Super / Christophe / Dan Beaumont / Darshan Jesrani / Dave Harvey DJ Nature / Eric Duncan / Ess O Ess / Felix Dickinson / Gatto Fritto / Gideön / Glowing Palms / Harvey Sutherland / Heidi Lawden / Hodge / Honey Soundsystem / House Of Traps / Ilija Rudman / Jaime Read / James Holroyd / Kornel Kovacs / Krywald & Farrer Lauer / Last Waltz / Lexx / Linkwood / Lord Of The Isles / Lovefingers / Man Power Mark Seven / Medlar / Moonboots / Moscoman / Moxie / Mudd / Mr Price / Paramida PBR Steetgang / Peak & Swift / Petter Nordkvist / Phil Mison / Red Rack Em / Ron & Neil / Ruf Dug / Saoirse / Steve Heurta / Tornado Wallace / Unabombers / Waifs & Strays Alfresco Disco / Andrew Hill / Bad Passion / Balearic Mike / Belfast Music Club / Bobby Beige Bobby Pleasure / Charlie McFarley / Craig Christon / Dirtytalk DJs / Dan Wild / Dean Smith Frank Broughton / Frank Tope / Feel The Real / Flux DJs / Future Garden DJs / Helen Burnip Hessletime / Itchy Rich / Jenny Jen / Jess Farley / Joe Lye / Joe Morris / Kelvin Andrews / Katie Barber / Leftfoot DJs / Mr Paul / Mr Solid Gold / Nadia / Pete Leung / Park Ranger / Pardon My French / Tayo / Tom Rio / Tosh Ohta / Sebastian Spring / Simon Morell / Stevie Wonderland DJs With Many More To Be Announced. Joining These Crews: Aficionado / Banoffee Pies / Beats In Space / Crack Magazine / Disco Knights Dirtytalk / Down To The Sea & Back / ESP Institute / Firecracker Recordings / Flux / Gottwood / Electric Chair / Futureboogie / Inkfolk / Just Jack / Krankbrother / Leftfoot / Lowlife / Magic Door / Not An Animal / Percolate / Ransom Note / Resident Advisor / Ruff Kutz / Road To Nowhere / Shapes / Stevie Wonderland / Studio 89 / Test Pressing / Tief / Trouble Vision / Warm / Wolf Music
June 28 - July 5 2017. The Garden, Tisno, Croatia
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Sonia Sonia Boyce Boyce We way Wemove move in in her her way 1 February – 16 April 2017 1 February 16 April 2017 Upper– Gallery Upper Gallery
Helen Helen Johnson Johnson Warm Warm Ties Ties 11February February––16 16 April April 2017 2017 Lower LowerGallery Gallery
Closing Closing this this month month Carmel Buckleyand andMark MarkHarris: Harris:Sparrow Sparrow Come Come Back Carmel Buckley Back Home, Home,until until55Feb Feb2017 2017
Events Events Transpersonal: Elizabeth Povinelli Transpersonal: Elizabeth A. A. Povinelli Wed 8 Feb, 2pm WedA 8lecture Feb, by 2pm Elizabeth A. Povinelli focusing A lecture by Elizabeth A. Povinelli focusing on her work with indigenous colleagues in on her work indigenous colleagues Australia with and her critical theory of an in Australia and her critical theory of an ‘anthropology of the otherwise’. ‘anthropology of the otherwise’.
Transpersonal: Rizvana Bradley
Transpersonal: Wed 15 Feb,Rizvana 2pm Bradley WedA 15 Feb,focusing 2pm on Glenn Ligon’s 1992 lecture
A lecture focusing onfour Glenn Ligon’s Untitled series of etchings and1992 aquatints and of and Ralph Ellison Untitled series of the fourwritings etchings and Zora Hurston.of Ralph Ellison aquatints andNeale the writings and Zora Neale Hurston. Culture Now: Irina Korina Fri 17Now: Feb,Irina 1pmKorina Culture
Moscow-based Fri 17 Feb, 1pm artist Irina Korina is known for her large-scale sculptures weave Moscow-based artist Irina Korinathat is known narratives of collective memory and social for her large-scale sculptures that weave history. She joins us in conversation. narratives of collective memory and social history. She joins us in conversation. Symposium: Art is Not a Commodity Sat 18 Feb, 11am
including unpaid internships, payment of including unpaid internships, payment of artists and public funding of arts. artists and public funding of arts.
Workshop – Sonia Boyce:
Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 of 7930 3647, ica.org.uk Institute Contemporary Arts
The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647, ica.org.uk
Fri 3 – Thu 9 Feb
Discover Japanese cinema through Discover Japanese through the prism of desires, cinema hopes and impulses. the prism of desires, hopes and impulses. Taking inspiration from Charlie Chaplin’s Taking quote inspiration fromisCharlie Chaplin’s famous that “Life a desire, not a famous quote that “Life is a desire, not a sorryyoufeeluncomfortable lead a workshop meaning”, this season presents films by around the notion of opacity and race in meaning”, this presents films by around the to notion opacityWe and raceinin established and season up-and-coming directors response SoniaofBoyce’s move her established and up-and-coming directors response to Sonia Boyce’s We move in her including animation, documentary and way. including animation, documentary and way. classics.
Workshop Boyce: We move – in Sonia her way We move in her way Thu 23 Feb, 6pm Thu 23 Feb, 6pm sorryyoufeeluncomfortable lead a workshop
STOP PLAY RECORD STOP PLAY RECORD Application Development Workshop Tue 28 Feb,Development 6.30pm Application Workshop
classics. Koudelka: Shooting Holy Land + Q&A Fri 24 Feb, 6.15pm Koudelka: Shooting Holy Land + Q&A
proposal, ideal for focusing aspiring filmmakers Anfilm artist-led workshop on writing a planning to apply for the STOP PLAY film proposal, ideal for aspiring filmmakers RECORDtoprogramme. planning apply for the STOP PLAY RECORD programme. Gallery Tour - Sonia Boyce: We move in her way Gallery Tour 6.30pm - Sonia Boyce: Thu 9 Mar,
process of and Josefintimate Koudelka, one of the creative A unique look into photography’s greatest living masters. process of Josef Koudelka, one of The film follows Koudelka as he masters. embarks photography’s greatest living on a journey through Israel and Palestine. The film follows Koudelka as he embarks This screening will be followed by a Q&A on a journey through Israel and Palestine. with Josef Koudelka and director Gilad This screening will be followed by a Q&A Baram.
unique and intimate An 28 artist-led workshop focusing on writing a AFri 24 Feb, 6.15pmlook into the creative Tue Feb, 6.30pm
We move in her way Join gal-dem Arts and Culture editor Thu 9 Mar, 6.30pm Leyla Reynolds for a gallery tour of
Symposium: Art is Not a Commodity A symposium with speakers examining Join gal-dem Arts and Culture editor Sat issues 18 Feb, 11am Sonia Boyce’s new work. around the economic context of art, A symposium with speakers examining issues around the economic context of art,
The Touring Film TheJapan JapanFoundation Foundation Touring Film Programme 2017 Programme 2017 Fri 3 – Thu 9 Feb
with Josef Koudelka and director Gilad Baram.
Leyla Reynolds for a gallery tour of Sonia Boyce’s new work.
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
Contents Rae Sremmurd: Top of the Pops - 28
New Music - 27 From the Periphery Reviews - 65 Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in music and film
Willow: Word Around Town - 46 Having stirred up a sense of intrigue with her excellent Workshop-released productions last year, Manchester artist Willow is shaping up to be one of the UK’s most exciting new DJ/producers. By Theo Kotz
Turning Points: JoJo - 83 Since topping the US charts when she was just a tween, JoJo has faced her fair share of struggle in the music industry. She traces her steps to freedom with Anna Tehabsim 20 Questions: Tim Darcy - 85 The whip-smart Ought frontman shares his perspective on poetry, omelettes and classic rock with Davy Reed Perspective: Celebrating the Legacy of Mark Fisher - 86 Beloved music/culture theorist Mark Fisher passed away last month but his ideas will resonate throughout generations. One of his former students, Estonian producer Maria Minerva, remembers his company and celebrates his work
Aesthetic: Bala Club - 56 With their name a play on Japanese wrestling outfit Bullet Club and their style a warped continuation on that theme, the rule-breaking London collective cut a unique figure in club culture. Brothers Kamixlo and Uli K grapple with their vision in our extended editorial
Editorial - 23 John Lennon lenses
With their single Black Beatles sitting at the No.1 spot of the US charts for seven weeks, Rae Sremmurd have achieved astonishing commercial success. But the party-loving brothers are much greater than their onehit-wonder, and there’s originality to their style that’s praised by discerning rap critics and internet-savvy teens alike. Davy Reed meets with the Mississippi brothers as they’re swept up in the whirlwind of hype
J Hus: New London Sound - 48 J Hus is one of the greatest MCs associated with an exciting wave of UK artists combining rap with afrobeat. Felicity Martin meets with the rising star as he prepares for the release of his hotly-anticipated debut album
Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann: Now is the Time - 38 After reuniting on a milestone release for their Berghain family, the techno duo reflect on the institutions that drove their success. By Emma Robertson
Sex and the Pity: When Lydia Lunch met Matt Korvette - 52 For their typically sludgy new album Why Love Now, Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette has turned his lyrical focus towards the pathetic inadequacies of male gender. With nowave hero Lydia Lunch having stepped in for production duties, here the gruesome twosome discuss non-monogender, dead rockstars and the sheer horror of US politics
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With additional support from the Robert Rauschenberg Exhibition Supporters Group, Tate Americas Foundation and Tate Patrons Robert Rauschenberg Retroactive II (detail) 1963 Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, partial gift of Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson, 1998.49. Â© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York. All rights reserved. Photo: Nathan Keay.
OPENING CONCERT: 6TH SEPTEMBER 2017 PERFORMING IN A 2000 YEAR OLD AMPHITHEATRE:
DIZZEE RASCAL - DJ SHADOW -
MAIN FESTIVAL: 7TH SEPTEMBER - 10TH SEPTEMBER PERFORMING IN AN ABANDONED FORT:
WILEY, GIGGS, GOLDIE, FRICTION, PHAROAHE MONCH, BUGZY MALONE, MY NU LENG, AJ TRACEY, TQD , DIGITAL MYSTIKZ , DJ MARKY, GENERAL LEVY, THE BUG FLOWDAN & KILLA P, NEWHAM GENERALS , AKALA, MNDSGN, PRINCESS NOKIA, DAWN PENN, GENTLEMANS DUB CLUB, LTJ BUKEM ADRIAN SHERWOOD, JEHST, LEVELZ, OCEAN WISDOM, CALIBRE, DUB PHIZIX STRATEGY, MUNGOâ€™S HIFI, MEFJUS, RUDE KID, STANDHIGH PATROL, IRATION STEPPAS, SPECTRASOUL, ENEI, SKEPTICAL, KASRA, KAHN NEEK, WOOKIE, MADD AGAIN ZED BIAS, KILLA BENZ, SPECIALIST MOSS & TRIGGA, MATT JAM LAMONT, PLASTICIAN , MR THING, DUBKASM, DUB DYNASTY, SIR ELIJAH SKILLIAM, THE MOUSE OUTFIT, JENNA G SPYRO, SWINDLE, MURLO, SPOOKY, PALEMAN, CHIMPO, KENNY KEN, DLR, COMMODO, SAM BINGA, EVA LAZARUS JOSEY REBELLE, SIGNAL, CHAMPION, ANT TC1, CHILDREN OF ZEUS, JACK SPARROW, LADY CHANN, BIG ZUU HI5 GHOST BOOFY, MISS RED, MADAM X, SWING TING, BIOME, CAPO LEE, WALTON, DANNY T TRADESMAN VITAL TECHNIQUES, FINWA, CHRIS MUNKY
FORT PUNTA CHRISTO - PULA, CROATIA WWW.OUTLOOKFESTIVAL.COM
14 â€” 15 JULY 2017
023 Everyone knows that rappers are the real rockstars now, and it’s been that way for a while.
Crack Was Made Using Migos T-Shirt
Mica Levi Lee Harvey Oswald
Tim Darcy Still Waking Up
The Black Madonna He Is The Voice I Hear
Stefflon Don + Abra Cadabra Money Haffi Mek
Slowdive Star Roving
Pissed Jeans I'm A Man
CEP Drawing The Target Around The Arrow
Sheer Mag Worth The Tears
Sampha (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
William Basinski For David Robert Jones
Arcade Fire I Give You Power ft. Mavis Staples
Oliver Wilde You're So Kool-Aid
Michael Chapman 50
The Golden Filter There Is No Love Between Us
Hotline Fellas Doing It In Lagos
Oby Onyoiha Enjoy Your Life
Doon Kanda Axoloti
Machine Woman Digital Delay
Interstellar Funk Caves of Steel (Convextion Remix)
Peter Gordon & David Van Tieghem Winter ft. Kathy Acker
JLin Nyakinyua Rise
And in more recent years, rappers like Young Thug, Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert and this month’s Crack Magazine cover stars Rae Sremmurd have all finessed a flamboyant fashion sense, projected fantasies of a wild lifestyle and generally concerned the generations that came before them.
January’s over now, so it’s time to give up the puritanical purge in favour of some good times. Because, despite the dark forces conspiring against us, the party’s not over yet. Davy Reed, Editor
During my interview with Rae Sremmurd, Slim Jxmmi proudly declared himself to be a rockstar, and it was cool to see the duo – who are still on a buzz after having a No.1 single in the
Rae Sremmurd shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Leonn Ward London: January 2017
The way I remember it, there was a cultural shift around 2011. Partyloving breakthrough stars like ASAP Rocky and Danny Brown had ditched traditionally baggy hip-hop attire for punk-influenced looks while the jaded retro guitar bands of the noughties were struggling to squeeze into their skinny Levis; and Odd Future were whipping up wilder moshpits than Slayer. By 2012, Kanye West had persuaded an entourage of big name rappers to strut around in leather pants for the Mercy video.
US for seven weeks – enjoying some good old-fashioned tour debauchery. The carefree joy of Rae Sremmurd is contagious, and if you’re looking for more fun-loving vibes in this issue, you can find techno heavyweights Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann declare their unyielding love for playing marathon sets at Berghain, rising Manchester producer Willow shout out her city’s music scene and an interview with the unstoppable J Hus, who proudly shared the news that police had shut down an entire street in Birmingham when hundreds of fans couldn’t get into his club show.
Issue 73 February 2017
INGA COPEL AND The Jazz Cafe 10 February
O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty
TIM DARCY The Lexington 20 February
HORIZON FESTIVAL AJ Tracey, Ben UFO, Motor City Drum Ensemble Arinsal, Andorra 26 March - 2 April From £119 Tucked away in the Pyrenees Mountains in Andorra between France and Spain lies the new home of Horizon Festival, a haven of snow sports and world-class soundtracks. This year's music offerings include West London MC AJ Tracey, adventurous selectors such as Courtesy, Avalon Emerson, Mumdance and Josey Rebelle alongside jazz explorers Yussef Kamaal. As après-ski entertainment goes, this line-up is very attractive indeed. On top of that you can refine your skiing ability, perfect the halfpipe, master the piste and make new friends. Thank us later.
MITSKI Village Underground 6 March If you picked up last month’s issue you’ll no doubt be familiar with Mitski. Our recent cover star is quickly ascending the ranks of indie royalty with her personal brand of crashing melodrama and millennial angst. Frank reflections on gender, identity and sex are stitched into Mitski’s careering riffs, wailing saxophone yelps and dynamic drums on her latest album Puberty 2. She’s clearly destined for big things so catch her now before it’s too late and you’re watching her through binoculars from the back of a soulless arena.
A J TR ACEY XOYO 21+22 February
T YCHO Electric Brixton 27+28 February
Days before Wiley dropped his much-delayed 11th studio album Godfather, the legendary MC/producer announced a Boiler Room launch event that evening, before canceling it hours later. For his fans, Wiley’s attitude towards his touring commitments has provoked anger and amusement in equal measure (“Glastonbury ain’t paying me enough to leave my comfort zone ...tight bastards” reads one of his many classic tweets). But there’s a reason why everyone’s stuck with him, and it’s pretty simple. Wiley is grime’s most significant architect, and after all these years, he’s arguably still the best to ever do it.
JENNY HVAL Rich Mix 28 February Jenny Hval is forging a path as one of the most important avant-garde songwriters of her generation. Blood Bitch, her fourth album under her own name and sixth overall, was released earlier this year. It follows the story of Orlando, a fictional time-travelling vampire, to unpack Hval’s own thoughts on menstruation, horror and the writing of Virginia Woolf. If you’re not already sold we can confirm that her compositions are just as fascinating as the concepts that sit beneath them. You’ll be transfixed.
DEKMANTEL SOUNDSYSTEM The Pickle Factory 3 March £12.50 The announcement of Dekmantel’s new Sao Paulo festival cemented an era of enviable success for the label-turned-events empire. The success of the swelling Amsterdam upstart stems from the passion and attention to detail that fills each and every aspect of the institution. This is fueled by the event’s organisers, Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij, who make up the Dekmantel Soundsystem collective. You know your night is safe in the hands of these and tested party curators, taking control of the soundtrack all night long.
WILEY Roundhouse 9 February £19.50 + BF
THE PE ACOCK SOCIET Y FESTIVAL Parc Floral De Paris 17 – 18 February From €32.50
BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS Oval Space 24 February
METHYL ETHEL Oslo 1 March
PE ARSON SOUND Patterns, Brighton 18 February
A recent addition to the ever-expanding Parisian dance calendar, Peacock Society takes place in the lovely Parc Floral in the vast stretch of greenery that is Bois Des Vincennes. A stark contrast to the sunnier climes of the open air events held in the park throughout summer, the Peacock Society specialise in erecting massive warehouses and filling them with an all-star cast of DJs. Fueling their electronic music marathon this year is a very rare live performance from Chicago pioneer and current Paris local Larry Heard alongside Ben Klock, Ame, Modeselektor, Bjarki, Omar S, Paula Temple, The Hacker and Lena Willikens. Winter is bleak and, at times, February can feel like one long morning, so treat yourself to a line-up sure to jolt your limbs into life.
025 CARL A DAL FORNO The Islington 4 February
SLEIGH BELLS Electric Ballroom 27 February IN BET WEEN TIME FESTIVAL Various Venues, Bristol 8 - 12 February
COMMUNIONS The Lexington 15 February
The Blackest Ever Black label is home to a variety of “wretched” goths. But its recent stand out release captured an especially intimate kind of gloom. Last year, Carla Dal Forno’s woozy, weary album You Know What It’s Like introduced listeners to one of the best new talents in spooky synths, claiming her own territory in cold wave. As Berlin-based dal Forno tours the UK this month, expect ominousness, elegance and intimacy.
LENA WILLIKENS Moth Club 25 February
In Between Time is one of the most highly-anticipated events in the Bristol arts calendar. Each year the festival’s curators endeavour to provide unique, extraordinary experiences in venues around Bristol. This year’s programme features 40 artists performing, exhibiting and installing in 10 locations over five days. From self-proclaimed mutant drag acts to immersive musical performances in the city’s aquarium, it’s a sense of pure creativity that underlines the ongoing success of IBT. PILL Shacklewell Arms 7 February
MURLO Camden Assembly 10 February
DR AKE The O2 28 January - 5 February 14 - 15 February
As part of their in-house Ovation series, Oval Space have lined up two of Manchester’s finest. Hoya:Hoya resident Jon K and Ninja Tune signee Illum Sphere head up some Thursday night business at the Bethnal Green venue. Both DJs will play sterling sets independently but they are rounding the night off with a very special back-to-back. Expect deep-cuts, outside choices and the kind of unique party atmosphere that defined one of Manchester’s most loved nights.
SHIRLEY COLLINS Barbican Centre 18 February
L AURENT GARNIER Oval Space 11 February
Aubrey’s breath frosts the screen. He holds his finger on the cross and deletes the three words he’s aching to send. I miss u. The streets feel too safe. Too much like home. Back in the condo, he’s flicking through channels to find the game. The Raptors are down, the six is frozen, and there’s a whole world out there. A world that’s not Toronto. A world that’s not even Calabasas. London, Berlin, Melbourne. He flicks to Channel 7. A rerun of Boy Meets World. “Siri.” He says. “Call the label.” Papi’s coming.
ASHANTI + JOE Eventim Apollo, London 26 February £39.50
SONJA MOONE AR Oval Space 3 March
MADAM X fabric 24 February
Legend status. Quintessentially noughties pop icon Ashanti lands in Europe for an exclusive tour with often-overlooked singer, songwriter and producer Joe. Ashanti’s soulful, hip-hop-inspired strand of RnB helped pave the way for artists like Kehlani and Ariana Grande – stylish, contemporary pop that never felt too selfimportant for the dancefloor. In case you’re in desperate need of a reminder… Foolish, Rock With U, Happy and The Way That I Love You are all glistening, timeless bangers that should make the ticket purchase irresistible.
THOUGHT FORMS Shacklewell Arms 17 February
LIL YACHT Y KOKO 24 February
CALL SUPER fabric 18 February
OVATION: ILLUM SPHERE , JON K The Pickle Factory 9 February £11 / £12.50
PORTER R AY
A mainstay of ones-to-watch lists this year. Russian DJ Inga Mauer follows in Lena Willikens’ footsteps as the latest member of the Cómeme family to transcend the airwaves of the label's radio shows. This is good news for fans of Willikens too – Mauer is cutting through the noise with a distinct, punk techno approach not dissimilar to Lena’s and a sound that ranges from minimal wave to EBM to dark and psychedelic techno. Former resident of St. Petersberg’s Stachenschneider club, Mauer has found a fitting home within the Hague’s Intergalactic FM and Bunker Records crew, as well as on John Talabot’s Hivern Discs label offshoot HVNX, where her From Cologne to Clone release explored the feelings of displacement accompany her nomadic lifestyle. For those who like their electronic music obscure and gritty.
After catching the attention of Ismael Butler, the Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces artist who now does A&R for Sub Pop, Seattle rapper Porter Ray was quickly snapped up by the legendary label. “Ishmael had me in a trance growing up. Watching everything he was doing with Digable Planets was dazzling. Ishmael believes in me. He and Sub Pop have given me a great opportunity and I don't take that for granted.” While he’s grateful and maybe a little in awe (he and Ismael grew up in the same neighbourhood), Porter’s managed to turn in a measured, thoughtful debut that makes good on the promise Sub Pop saw. The picture he draws of Seattle and his life are vivid and they act as deliverance from a turbulent youth and early adulthood. He saw his father die, his brother killed, his mother incarcerated and his first child born. The album, Watercolor, lives these trials out on Seattle’s metropolitan streets. “I grew up in the Central District of Seattle, Washington. Before it became overly gentrified, it was a very jazzy place with a lot of flavour”, he tells us via email. “The African American community in Seattle is very tight knit. The language, the fashion, the people and their personalities all had a very large impact on myself and my music. I want to immortalise that flavour through my music.” As a rapper, Porter’s storytelling skills drive his lyrical content. He tries to “paint pictures”, never sounding overexcited or too energetic, opting for beats which create unique moods. Now his sound his pinned down and his debut album is ready to drop on 10 March, Porter has his eyes on the grind. “I'm going to spread the album as far as I can, with hopes of touring nationally and internationally. You can expect much more music and visual content from me throughout the year - I want to shine a larger light on Seattle's rap scene and continue to grow as an MC.” Describing any rapper as streetwise or enlightened through struggle is a hackneyed narrative but with his effortlessly smooth tone and considered lyricism, Porter Ray definitely carries himself with the striking presence of wisdom. “I think any rapper's role, young or old, in America, or anywhere in the world, is to use our voices and our influence to raise awareness about what's going on in our communities and our countries.” Having caught the eye of his idols, he’s now turning his attention to us. “We have the power to effect real change in the future.”
1 Lena Willikens / Helena Hauff : @Inga Mauer
R ATA NEGR A Spain has a rich history with punk rock. In the years immediately following the dissolution of Franco’s regime a number of Spanish-language punk records came crashing onto the scene. Madrid’s Rata Negra are carrying on that tradition in fine style. Their debut album Oido Absoluto combines the giddy urgency of West Coast hardcore and the snot-nosed attitude of UK82. Obviously, if you don’t speak Spanish then their overt political lyrics will be lost on you but trust us, there’s enough anger in the music to make the message clear: Rata Negra are not putting up with any of your shit. O Ratas 1 Agent Orange / Wax Museums : rata-negra.bandcamp.com
Having built a reputation among Istanbul’s liberally-minded underground, last year the gimp-mask sporting synthpop outfit Jakuzi shared their Fantezi Müzik LP via Turkish label Domuz Records, and this March the record is getting a worldwide release on City Slang – the renowned German imprint that’s released records by the likes of Arcade Fire, Caribou and HEALTH. The City Slang guys were charmed by the music after they got a tip-off from what’s apparently Turkey’s only music and culture magazine, and it’s not hard to see why. Jakuzi make emotional, glossy-sounding music with a DIY approach, and while the world isn’t exactly short of independent synthpop bands, Fantezi Müzik is brimming with a sense of charisma that makes Jakuzi truly stand out.
O Koca Bir Saçmalik 1 Future Islands / Ariel Pink : @jakuz1
NOT3S Not3s is an exciting new talent hailing from Hackney. Joining the ranks of J Hus (who, as it happens, actually co-signs him in this issue), he’s putting out the kind of nimble, hybridised blend of afrobeat, UK grime and RnB which looks poised to explode across the next year. His biggest hit to date, Addison Lee, is a quintessentially London love song about arranging an executive car service for bae. He’s even teamed up with actual Addison Lee to get his own discount code. Canny business acumen for an unsigned 18 year old. We’re excited to see music like this take over the charts and we’re excited to see Not3s be a part of the invasion.
O Addison Lee 1 J Hus / Jeremih : @Not3sofficial
O Mick Jenkins / Ab-Soul 1 Arithmetic
O Track 1 File Next To : Website
O I've Nothing To Say
Words: Davy Reed Photography: Leonn Ward Styling: Luci Ellis
Rae Sremmurd are living out their wildest dreams. Both born in the 90s, the brothers embarked on a musical mission during their humble upbringing in Mississippi, and now their hyperactive style of party rap is a definitive soundtrack for the constantlyfluctuating landscape of online youth culture. Having gatecrashed the US charts with the astounding success of their hit Black Beatles, the duo are on a high thatâ€™s not going to wear off anytime soon.
Jumpsuit: Billionaire Boys Club Trainers: Nike x Roundell Motorbike Jacket: Misbhv Trousers: Wesc Slides: Givenchy
“I’m a rockstar, Paul McCartney is a rock star. We’re related. Skin tone don’t matter” Slim Jxmmi
The Mississippi brothers are born entertainers. Both short in stature, there’s a comic charm to their restless movement. They speak quickly, peppering their sentences with impulsive ad-libs – namely ‘swag’, ‘SremmLife’ and screeching rubber tire impressions: ‘skrt-skrt’. As if fighting off sleep deprivation with the energy of Southern rap bangers, Jxmmi constantly interrupts the shoot to select tracks on my iPhone and crank up the stereo, choosing the likes of Gucci Mane, Blac Youngsta and Yo Gotti, and both of them loosely freestyle over iLoveMakonnen’s Where Your Girl At? At one point, Swae Lee is holding a Timberland boot to his face like a phone, and singing into it. But as soon as the shoot is wrapped up, Rae Sremmurd flop like hyperactive kids crashing after a sugar rush. Swae Lee leaves the room, and we’re informed he won’t be returning for the interview. Jxmmi, who’s been slumped on the couch, learns of his brother’s exit. He drops his bags of gifted clothes, and storms out after him. We take their publicists’ advice to catch up with them once they’ve “refuelled”. Right now, Rae Sremmurd are at the peak of their stardom. After the duo broke through in 2014 with their track No Flex Zone, they achieved moderate chart success with the following singles from their debut album SremmLife – an album which also earned them critical credibility, proving there to be skill and originality in their party rap formula, and disproving early suspicions that they were some kind of frat boy-
friendly version of Kriss Kross. But, of course, it’s with Black Beatles that Rae Sremmurd made history. Black Beatles is a great song. It’s an end-of-night club anthem which maintains a gorgeous sense of stoned tranquility, and it helped to galavanise the feel-good comeback of the recently freed Atlanta trap legend Gucci Mane, who is featured on the track. After being released as the third promotional single from the group’s sophomore album SremmLife2, Black Beatles entered the US top 20 – a promising boost after the disappointing commercial performances of the album’s previous two promo singles. Then, in what’s considered a remarkable feat in recent chart history, Black Beatles went on to spend a total of seven weeks at the number one spot on the US Billboard charts after becoming the unofficial theme song to last year’s biggest viral craze, the Mannequin Challenge. “Man, we made the whole world freeze,” Slim Jxmmi says, beaming with pride. “That’s tight.” He’s sat facing me in his hotel room, with a blue haircutting gown draped round him as he smokes a blunt and his barber gives him a fresh buzz cut. Swae Lee – who, at 23, is two years younger than Jxmmi – is sat in the corner facing a mirror while a hairstylist re-twists his bleached dreads. Like all successful internet memes, the Mannequin Challenge – a charming, goofy joke for which were filmed while posing motionless – was easy, fun and accompanied by a definitive hashtag. And while Black Beatles wasn’t initially associated with the meme, the fluttering synths of the track’s intro began to soundtrack thousands of Mannequin Challenges from people across the globe, including various major sports teams, celebrities such as Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian (who did it with hospital staff at the delivery room before the birth of their child) and supermodel Gigi Hadid, who got the entire audience at 2016’s British Fashion Awards –
including Kate Moss, Anna Wintour and Naomi Campbell – to participate as she accepted her ‘International Model of the Year’ award. So, according to Rae Sremmurd, whose Mannequin Challenge was the best? “Probably Paul McCartney,” Jxmmi argues. “Cause he’s the real Beatles. He put the part [of the song] in where I said we was related. Cause I’m a rockstar, he a rock star. We’re related. Skin tone don’t matter, you know what I’m saying? Skrt-skrt-skrt!” The Black Beatles story is remarkable (“we had the number one for seven weeks... seven weeks,” Swae Lee mumbles to himself, as if still in disbelief), and the fact that the song’s successor followed a similar pattern is another important part of the story. Last October, Atlanta trap trio Migos (who’ve played a significant role in contemporary rap music but had only enjoyed moderate chart success) released their single Bad and Boujee, which features ascending artist Lil Uzi Vert. Having debuted at No.76, the track began to gradually climb the US charts after memes related to the song began to generate, and footage of Migos performing the song to a high-energy crowd in Lagos, Nigeria went viral. In January, Bad and Boujee knocked Black Beatles off the No.1 spot, meaning that the power of fan-generated memes had given two Southern rap artists number one hits in a row. Seemingly content with their seven weeks, Rae Sremmurd are happy to applaud Migos’ achievement. “The reason why I’m really happy for the Migos’ success,” Jxmmi explains, “is because now two groups – two hip-hop groups – had the number one song in 2017, you know what I’m saying? SremmLife! Skrt skrt!
“Is that a parachute?!” asks Slim Jxmmi, wide-eyed as he bursts into the London photography studio and snatches a brown Nasir Mazhar vest off the rail. “I want this one!” It’s a relief. While Rae Sremmurd’s Twitter feeds suggested they were groggy after getting littleto-no sleep in Paris last night, for the duration of our shoot they’re going to give us their best performance.
Hoods: Christopher Shannon
“It’s a crazy time for hip-hop from the South,” he continues. “There’s only two rap groups goin’ crazy like that, and they on the charts, and they both had a number one song. We kicked in the door,” he karate kicks the air, “blahblah-blah-blah!” Far from a story of overnight success, Rae Sremmurd put in years of hard work to get through that door. Born in California, their mother’s job with the US army took the family to Mississippi, Maryland, Texas and then back to Mississippi, where they’d grow up in the Ida Street housing projects in Tupelo (other music exports from the town include Elvis Presley and Diplo) which are reportedly among the most troubled in the state. As their parents got divorced, they embraced music while enduring poverty, low-income jobs and squatting in an abandoned house. Always determined party-starters, however, Jxmmi fondly remembers the DIY gigs they’d host at the squat. “We had all types of ethnic groups,” he tells me. “We was cool with so many people because we were just, like, nice people to be round, fun people to be around. It would be everybody, black people, white people, people from the good neighbourhood, people from the bad neighbourhood. But everybody would be having a good time, just like our concerts now.” Although the group’s momentum was stifled by unsuccessful label meetings and the coming and going of various third members, eventually their DJ (who still plays with them as D-JaySremm) managed to hook them up with a cousin of his, who makes beats under the name P-Nazty and is affiliated with Atlanta-based super-producer Mike WiLL Made-It. While working on Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz album, Mike WiLL – who's since established himself as one of contemporary rap’s most adventurous hitmakers – eventually signed them up to work almost exclusively with him and his camp of
producers, the EarDrummers. Jxmmi nods to my suggestion that Mike WiLL is like a third member of Rae Sremmurd. And if you hadn’t already noticed, their name spells the words “ear” and “drummers” backwards. In 2007, the teenage rapper Soulja Boy achieved a meteoric rise to success with his single Crank Dat, which launched the craze of his ‘Soulja Boy Dance’. Around that time, the Brown brothers were making music as Dem Outta St8 Boys (a reference to their cross-state upbringing) alongside third member Lil Pantz. The self-made video for their song Put It In Rotation features the trio performing a tightlyrehearsed, synchronised dance routine while dressed identically in oversized basketball jerseys. In recent years, various rappers have had their profile boosted by memes and dance crazes – see Vine users inventing Bobby Shmurda’s ‘Shmoney Dance’ with a snippet from his Hot Nigga video and subsequently sending the song up the charts, Silento going viral by combining popular moves the Whip and the Nae Nae, iLoveMemphis racking up millions of YouTube hits with Hit The Quan, and so on. Looking back at Outta St8’s Put It In Rotation, I wonder if Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi always aspired to go viral in some way? “Nah that wasn’t the dream,” Jxmmi insists. “But the dream was to have that type of success – to have that success where everybody knows your music, everybody likes your music and everyone is dancing to your music. Not necessarily to have a viral challenge or something, that was never the aim.” Contemporary hip-hop culture has proved that – if the youth are excited about it – a dance routine, catchphrase or meme can catapult a track toward the type of success that Rae Sremmurd dreamed of, and it’s worth noting that Black Beatles is an example of
Tracksuit: Bobby Abbley Boots: Timberland
035 T-shirt: Liam Hodges
Jumpsuit: Billionaire Boys Club
“We’re trying to be original, we don’t model ourselves off anybody else”
the major label industry adjusting to capitalise on quickly shifting internet trends. In an interview with the Pigeons & Planes website, Interscope Record’s Gunner Safron and the blog-turneddigital brand consultant Pizzaslime discussed working on “non-traditional forms of marketing”, explaining they paired Black Beatles with the Mannequin Challenge by filming Rae Sremmurd freezing onstage to the song’s intro, suggesting that they distributed the video “strategically to specific influencer accounts.” But even if you’re tempted to take the cynical point of view, it would be incorrect to brand Rae Sremmurd as a fluke, or one-hit-wonders. Over the course of two albums, they’ve penned numerous anthems, partly due to Swae Lee’s gift for writing unforgettable hooks – a talent which has led to him being credited as the writer of Beyoncé’s Formation chorus, and scored him work with Katy Perry. This, paired with their raw and elastic rapping style (“we’re from the South mane,” Jxmmi emphasises, “we used to do these rap battles and we had to be real aggressive”) sees Rae Sremmurd exercise a vocal range that can be sweetly melodic, intense, and even experimental. “When we’re in the studio, we’re trying to make original songs,” Swae tells me. “We don’t model ourselves off anybody else.”
Rae Sremmurd’s lyrical content is like a giddy adolescent take on hedonistic hip-hop tropes, mostly covering the thrill of female attention, getting high and the joy of sudden wealth after years of being broke. It’s far from groundbreaking, and lyrics aren’t the primary appeal of Rae Sremmurd’s music. But after all these years, they’ve well and truly mastered the art of the turn-up.
“Some songs, I see myself performing after we’ve recorded it,” says Swae Lee. “Just play it back and be like, damn, I can imagine performing, it’s like I can see the crowd rocking to this.” He references SremmLife2’s raucous opener Start a Party as an example. “When it drops, it’s like a bomb dropping. Soon as that first bass drop, it’s like an explosion, you know what I’m saying? And just the way we came in – beaucoup bitches in the lobby! – screaming it. That’s ready for a concert.” Later in the week, Drake cosigns Rae Sremmurd’s showmanship during his surprise appearance at their Amsterdam concert. “I came here to join this Sremm party because I heard there’s no party like a SremmLife party,” the Canadian superstar told the crowd, before launching into a rendition of Jumpman. On the night of our interview, Rae Sremmurd are performing the first of their two gigs at West London’s 2000 capacity venue Shepherds Bush Empire. Admittedly, the show gets off to a sloppy start. When it's around half an hour past their 9.30pm stage time, D-JaySremm announces that Rae Sremmurd “need 10 more minutes” to loud booing from a restless audience, before slipping backstage himself. When the duo arrive, they seem relatively unconcerned about performing their entire verses and hooks, instead relying on the vocal backing track and often taking selfies with iPhones passed to them from the front rows. Nevertheless, they know how to make the crowd go wild. Garish, old school computer game graphics are displayed as Slim Jxmmi stagedives repeatedly, Swae Lee tosses pineapples into the audience and London grime group Section Boyz make a rowdy surprise appearance. Then, of course, there’s the Mannequin Challenge.
And just as Slim Jxmmi has promised back at the hotel, it’s a noticeably diverse crowd up in the balconies of Shepherds Bush Empire. “We don’t ever know what to expect, but all I know is the people who are coming to the Rae Sremmurd show are there to have a good time,” he’d explained. “And no matter where they come from, man, that’s understood. Having fun is universal, smiling is universal, laughing is universal, you know what I’m saying? Everybody turning up at our shows, they’re having a great time. They jumping, they hugging, you got the mosh pit, they doing all that. It’s great.” “Our music is positive,” he continues. “No album where you ever hear about a choppa, nobody get killed. It’s very fun music. Very positive, to get the party going. You know what I’m saying? Yeah, that’s us. That’s Rae Sremmurd.” SremmLife 2 is out now via EarDrummers / Interscope
Ben Klock Marcel Dettmann: MUSIC
“With cheesy music — it’s easy, you get it, it’s there. But with techno, it makes you think more, explore more, experience more”
Words: Emma Robertson Photography: James Perolls
It’s been over a decade since Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann released their first record together, and they’ve been friends for just as long. As frequent back-to-back DJ partners, their marathon sets have gone down as the stuff of clubbing legend. In fact, the duo play together so well and so regularly that people like to suggest that they can read each other’s minds on stage. As I put this idea to them as they sit side-by-side at the Ostgut Ton office in Berlin, they glance at each other before Dettmann laughs a laugh that fills the room. “Read each others’ minds? I wouldn’t go that far…” Klock, on the other hand, entertains the theory: “Well, maybe sometimes.” Dettmann laughs again. It didn’t take long for Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann to become two of the best-known names in techno — but clearly they take it all in their stride. Klock and Dettmann have been producers and DJs in their own right since the nineties, releasing driving techno cuts on their respective selfmade labels as well as the likes of BPitch Control, WMF Records, Memo, 50Weapons, and most notably, Ostgut Ton. Ostgut was founded in 2005 as an off-shoot of the iconic Berghain/ Panorama Bar club, where both Dettmann and Klock are resident DJs. The label had been putting out mix CDs before debuting their first vinyl release in 2006: an EP by Klock and Dettmann. “At the time, Ostgut had no plans to release any EPs,” Dettmann explains. “Maybe they were just waiting for this moment when somebody comes up and offers them music!”
That first EP, a two-tracker, entitled Dawning/Dead Man Watches The Clock, is still a banger; cleverly built techno that’s permanently stowed in many record bags. The record set a precedent for the dozens of Ostgut records that followed — not so much in sound, but in quality. These days, Ostgut Ton is a frontrunner in contemporary electronic music, with artists like Steffi, Planetary Assault Systems, Tobias Freund, Function, Virginia, Barker & Baumecker and Nick Höppner under their wing. Dettmann and Klock’s latest joint effort, Phantom Studies, promises to be just as valuable as their first; it seems fitting that the pair would be asked to produce the label’s 100th 12" release. Phantom Studies is a dark piece buzzing with an opium hum that includes club anthems and home listening in equal measure. It’s their first in-studio collaboration in a decade. “We always wanted to get back in the studio together,” Klock says, “but we never really found the time. Now for the 100th, it was kind of like, ‘now is the time.’” Produced in January of 2016, the EP was made during a month off from touring. Although it had been years since they’d shared the studio, the duo had no trouble picking the rhythm back up. What was different, however, was their approach to production. Ditching production software for a Roland TR-909 synth, some effects, a Space Echo and a modular set up, Klock and Dettmann each had gear to play with, feeding off each others’ sounds and energies. “The way we made Phantom Studies is a bit more intuitive,” Klock explains. “You can’t really say from the result if this better, but the process was definitely much more fun.”
“It might be a dark sound, but the mood on this record is much darker than the mood we had when we were producing it,” Dettmann says, before Klock interjects: “We were laughing all the time, even with the vocals, it wasn’t like lyrics, more like speaking some bullshit into the microphone.” Dettmann jumps in again: “For hours Ben would be talking in the microphone while I laughed in the back the whole time. I’d leave to go run an errand, smoke a cigarette, come back and he was still talking into the microphone!” When I ask what story they hope to convey with this release, their answer builds on that same “mood.” Music is a tool for creating energies on the dancefloor, of course, but where making music is concerned, their interest is in challenging their listeners. Phantom Studies’ Prophet Man, for example, is a favorite of the pair. “It takes so much time to get into your mind,” Dettmann explains. “It’s a trip. The Room is its total opposite, it’s harsher, darker, more evil, scary…” There’s a pause, before Dettmann laughs, “I’m a big fan of our music, actually!” The challenge in creating adventurous music is what keeps them going. Klock sums it up: “I can’t listen to happy music to make me happy. With cheesy music — it’s easy, you get it, it’s there. But with techno, it makes you think more, explore more, experience more.” The pair’s relationship to techno has been a love affair from the very beginning. On New Year’s Day 1999, OstGut (the original club from which the label takes its name) opened its doors for the first time, and Klock and Dettmann fell quickly in love with the venue, the sound, and the crowd’s
041 Words: Emma Robertson Photography: James Perolls
â€œBerghain is a homecomingâ€?
“I think some people don’t know that they need a home like Berghain before they come here”
alive but… I was worried. So when they invited me to play at Berghain, I was really happy.” Dettmann was DJing at the new Berghain from the very beginning, helping to induct the club’s more house-orientated upstairs room, Panorama Bar. Klock had his first gig in the downstairs behemoth, Berghain, in the venue’s early days, closing the club out on a Sunday — a set time that remains a staple for him even today. “The last slot on Sunday used to start at seven in the morning and went until noon,” Klock remembers. “It seems short now, actually! The vibe was similar back then, the only difference was that it was a bit more local, a bit smaller. I enjoyed that first set so much, I had been anticipating it for so long that when I finally played I was like, ‘This is what I want!’” It’s thanks to Berghain that Dettmann and Klock met at all, having been introduced for the first time when they were billed one after the other. They’ve played at Berghain so regularly over the past 12 years, sometimes together, sometimes solo, that I wonder aloud if the feeling of being behind the decks has lost some of its appeal. “Not at all. It’s amazing actually, that after all these years, every time I walk up the stairs at Berghain, I have a certain thrill,” Klock says. “A kind of nervous excitement, I don’t know… This vibration. The way I feel about Berghain hasn’t changed at all. When I look at the crowd and I hear the music, I’m still always thinking, ‘Wow, this is why Berghain is Berghain.’” Dettmann agrees, thinking back to the rush of his first gig at the club: “If I think about that first time [when] I arrived for my set and I walked up the stairs, it’s still the exact same feeling I have today. Sometimes you
have a weekend that doesn’t fit perfectly, but you come to play here and everything’s fine again. It’s a homecoming.” If Klock and Dettmann sound sentimental, it’s not misplaced. For many, a night at Berghain can be a spiritual experience. There’s a freedom in that space that is somehow more tangible than anywhere else. “I think some people don’t even know that they need a home like this before they come here,” Klock concludes. “Lately I’ve been thinking more and more that it’s such a privilege to have something like Berghain still. People come here and they’re like, ‘Oh, right, this is how clubbing should feel.’ You can come here for hours and forget about everything, do what you want without being judged. It’s so good that we’re able to do this. I think we’re pretty lucky.”
Phantom Studies is out now via Ostgut Ton Marcel Dettmann appears at Field Day, London, 3 June
openness. “We had heard about this new club. At the time we were going to E-Werk and Tresor, and OstGut was a similar venue with high ceilings and stuff. We went there once and already, I really, really liked it,” Dettmann explains. Dettmann became an OstGut resident early on, while Klock was a frequent guest. “I was kind of ready to give up DJing at that point. I’d been playing in clubs in Mitte, Tresor, Cookies, stuff like that, and I was really looking for my home,” he explains. “When I went to OstGut, I remember thinking, ‘Playing here in this place, that would be the only challenge, the only thing that would give me the fire again.” When OstGut shut in 2003 and re-opened in a new location as Berghain the following year, Klock says it was a once in a lifetime chance for him, one that saved him from giving up DJing altogether. Techno first made its way over to Europe from Detroit the previous decade, but by the early 2000s, it seemed like that wave of techno was fading out. The buzz in the city, Klock and Dettmann say, was palpable, as people waited for new venues, new homes for a new type of techno. “Everyone was waiting for it,” Dettmann explains when I ask what the reaction was to Berghain’s opening in 2004. “I always had the feeling that we’re part of something big,” Klock continues. “Everything, from the heart of it, every little thing felt right at that time. I knew that this aura would just grow and grow, and that more and more people would feel the same.” “After OstGut closed, I didn't know what was going to happen,” Dettmann says, his tone somewhat somber. “I worked at Hard Wax, so that kept me
Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Karin Idering - instagram.com/niceeasy
Words: Theo Kotz Photography: Jack Johnstone
The first time I heard Willow I didn’t know who she was. But I, along with around a hundred others, would be forced to take notice. On the Saturday at Croatia’s Dimensions festival in 2013, overlooking the 19th century ruins of the festival’s Fort Punta Christo location, Boiler Room’s stage was reaching its peak. Under the setting sun, Move D sauntered into the booth in the centre of a shoe-less crowd to round off the party. A couple of tracks into his set, a deep and discombobulated tune came rolling through the speakers, pregnant with promise, before a pop, crackle and a dearth of sound. The system had cut off. The track was Feel Me, Willow’s gorgeously warbling, low-slung house gem, being played out for the first time.
When I bring this up during our meeting at Peckham’s Rye Wax, Willow laughs at the memory. Early on in our conversation, the Manchester DJ/ producer had seemed a little reserved, partly due to a misquote in a previous interview, and partly because she left the familiarity of her glasses in an Airbnb in Berlin the previous weekend. She’s thawing as we warm up from the cold though, and over the gothic drone coming from the speakers I learn about her personal piece of festival folklore. “My friend was like: ‘The bass is so big it cut the system out!’” she remembers. “But I think the generator just went. It was the most surreal feeling. Obviously it was my first track, but hearing it being played out on a big system, especially by Move D, in a Boiler Room, at a festival… I’ll never forget it.” She’s humble about the story, but the truth is she had to put plenty of work in.
Willow was involved with Nottingham’s 808 parties, and her reputation as a DJ had built steadily from her residency there with her friend Alex Lewis. It was at these parties that they met Move D, when the German DJ played with Gerd Jansen. “That was probably the one that sticks in the memory most,” she remembers. “We cooked them dinner first, they played and then came back after and it just felt as a night, like, really wholesome.” That same summer, Willow and Alex were playing at Gottwood festival in Anglesey, where Willow’s career took a decisive turn. “David (Move D) came to our tent after playing to drink some wine and jam with us. My phone was plugged in to some crappy iPhone speakers and the track Feel Me came on, not mastered or anything. I was like: ‘Guys, turn it off, turn it off.’ He asked what it was and my friend’s shouting ‘It’s Willow! It’s Willow!’ Two weeks later, I got a message from him, saying ‘Send me that track it was beautiful’. I was like ‘shit, right,’ so I did.” Move D passed the tune on to his friend Jens Kuhn, aka Lowtec, who wanted to release it on his Workshop imprint. The Workshop 21 EP was released in March 2015, with Feel Me widely regarded as the highlight: a quick glance at comment threads on Discogs will tell you Move D wasn’t alone in recognising a special tune. Then last year, Workshop finally released the first piece of wax devoted entirely to Willow. The four track Workshop 23 release, which was among Crack Magazine’s most highly-rated EPs of 2016, is a deep, dubby and emotive affair, at once doubling down on the sound palette
The connections Willow built in Manchester have been instrumental in who she is as a DJ and producer. Like many people who have lived in that city (myself included) she’s forthcoming about her love for the place. “It’s in my heart man. When I first started going out clubbing I kind of lived in Sankeys. I was in there Friday night, Saturday night, from the beginning till the end. I remember just thinking: ‘how do they make you feel like this with music? I want to do that.’”It was at Sankeys, which sadly closed its doors in January, that Willow made many of those initial connections: gigging with Isherwood and Alex Lewis, and getting to know the owner Dave Vincent. Her first set playing out was upstairs at Spektrum, thanks to a hook-up from a friend who worked at the club.
Willow explains. “I would go in and he would literally have a pile of records waiting for me. It was the same with Eastern Bloc – Jimmy, Ben and Kerry would pick me out stuff straight away that they thought I would like. I wouldn’t even have to flick through, they’d just say: ‘yo, listen to this.’”
she explored with her first release and exploring different avenues within her work process. Much of this stems from her use of vocals, supplied by long-time collaborator and friend Natasha Davies. The distinct style of Davies’ voice is no small contributor to the way her tracks feel. “I use her for all my vocals; only her,” Willow explains. “I’ve known her since we were little because of my sister, so it’s a good relationship.”
With a distinct production sound and the DJ skills to back it up, Willow has found herself deservedly rubbing shoulders with vets like Kassem Mosse and Evan Tuell, and it looks as though 2017 will see her profile rise. In the past few months Willow has flown more than in the rest of her life combined, playing places like Bucharest, Antwerp and Berlin for the first time. By the time this article is published, she’ll have added Amsterdam and Milan to the list. I ask her what’s in store for the year and, much like the tracks she makes and runs, her answer taps into the best of what dance music is about: “I’m just excited about the gigs and going to new places,” she says. “Exploring, meeting new people, and making good music.” Willow appears at DGTL, Amsterdam, 15-16 April
Just as important was the triumvirate of legendary record shops in Manchester’s Northern Quarter: Piccadilly Records, Eastern Bloc and The Vinyl Exchange. “Matt Ward from Piccadilly Records is a good friend and he knew I was into the stripped-back, dubby, groovy stuff,”
“Manchester is in my heart”
“The album's more grown up J Hus. But I'm still quite immature, I'm not gonna lie!”
Words: Felicity Martin Photography: Cian Oba-Smith
Pulsing through Addison Lee aux cables, wheeled up at Carnival, blasting out of phones on the top decks of Routemasters; if there’s a sound that captures the energy of London right now, it’s the music of J Hus. The Stratford 20-year-old’s blend of UK afrobeats, road rap and West African lilt has earned him a following that counts Popcaan and Premier League footballers as fans. The fact that J Hus has carved out a fresh British sound is impressive on its own; even more so when you consider he achieved this with barely any flex of a commercial muscle. Now with his debut album — arguably one of 2017’s most hotlyawaited UK albums —packaged up and primed for release, more eyes are on J Hus than ever. We meet in a Formica-clad caff in Hoxton, where the MC has his silver puffer hood strung tight around his face, with his back to door. It’s clear he likes to keep a low profile. “To be honest with you, yeah, it's hard — I'm not really an open person in real life,” he admits, before imitating the more aggressive persona that his harder lyricism projects. “But in real life I'm a bit shy, a bit closed. The spotlight is a bit mad...” J Hus, born Momodou Jallow, started rapping before his tenth birthday. Nicknamed ‘50 Pence’ at school for his love of spitting, his musical education ranged from bashment to garage, Outkast to Fela Kuti. “I've had lyrics forever,” he nods, before dropping the first, Muhammad Ali-referencing, bar he ever wrote to prove his point.
It wasn’t some A&R who recognised J Hus's talents but a couple of his mates, who offered to manage him, and he first got noticed via a Link Up TV #StreetHeat freestyle. His 2015 15th Day mixtape was his debut statement of intent. Polished off in just over two
weeks (hence the name), it packed catchy ad-libs, a rudeboy flex and touches of his Gambian heritage into a neat package that promptly exploded online — marshalled by breakthrough hit Dem Boy Paigon, with its club-heating bounce and TLC hooks. It’s not all about those earworm melodies and ‘aaaahhaa’s. The East Londoner’s lyrics range from the lighthearted (the hook of Bangers & Mash is an ode to dating white girls) to the hard-hitting – Guns & Butter provides a devastating take on the contradictory way we perceive crime, yet still manages to name-check the Chuckle Brothers in the same breath. Having inked a deal with Sonyassociated Black Butter in 2015, E15’s (self-described) ugliest MC came out with the more radio-friendly Lean & Bop. But the major label affiliation wasn’t behind Lean & Bop’s sonic switch-up — in fact, Hus’s mum had asked him to make something more “clean, fun and dancey” for his fouryear-old brother. “Just a fun tune for him, something that he could enjoy.” Interestingly, that track went on to receive props from the whole scene, with Westwood and Krept and Konan making cameos in the video. Lean & Bop was accompanied by a fun and simple dance move, and so far the video has gathered over eight million views on YouTube. Hus recognises how important the social media hype has been to his ascent. “Alex OxladeChamberlain was working out to one of my tunes one time,” he recalls. “Then there was a little boy in Pakistan singing Lean and Bop – that was sick!” Hus’s quirky lyricism has spawned handfuls of memes: there are videos of toddlers chanting his lyrics, as well as a McDonalds employee singing Friendly through the drive-thru intercom when a customer requests a ‘Fanta with no ice’.
But the spotlight hasn’t always been kind to Hus. In August 2015 authorities branded a mass singalong of Dem Boy Paigon at a Stamford Hill party as a ‘large scale disorder’. ‘Stabbed London rapper J Hus sparks fury after making 'gang signs' from his hospital bed’, The Mirror wrote that same year, failing to mention any of his accolades. Of which there are now many – a MOBO nomination, a support slot for Young Thug where he nearly eclipsed the headliner, Mixpak bringing him out at last year’s Culture Clash, and so on. The latter was a performance to remember: the day before the Red Bull event Hus was finishing a four-month sentence at Her Majesty’s pleasure. He beams from ear to ear when I mention it. “I could not sleep! I was just waiting by the door. The day I came out… The fact they let me on Culture Clash was just mad. Best feeling ever.” Shelling in front of tens of thousands at the O2 Arena, he helped clinch the victory for Mixpak over Taylor Gang and Eskimo Dance. Having released the well-received Playing Sports EP last September, Black Butter will be the vehicle for J Hus’s imminent LP too, and he insists he didn’t have to tailor his sound to suit the label. “The only thing we compromised on was the amount of tracks — I would've put so many tracks on there. People ain’t heard me in so long!” he stresses. “I feel like I've evolved so much from before, innit.” He’s kept his team the same though, working with his musical partner Jae5 (a member of his favoured production crew JOAT) on every single track, along with No Disclaimer duo Valentino and Tobi ShyBoy. Confirming feature slots from MoStack and Birmingham rapper Mist, J Hus explains there’s no title for the album just yet, later posting a thought bubble emoji on Twitter for inspiration. From the
snippets I’ve heard, Bouff Daddy is Hus at his most joyous — half-sung, halfspat, with memorable hooks (‘ya dun know ya dun know’), while Common Sense has a slick G-funk strut. “The album's a little bit more of a grown up J Hus,” he says. “I grew up a bit, a little bit. I'm still quite immature, I'm not gonna lie!” Though he might be reserved in person, J Hus’s confidence as a performer continues to grow. “You might see me in the village, you might see me in Dubai,” he crooned on 15th Day cut Dubai, and sure enough he flew out there recently for a live PA. “When I retire I'll buy a big house there,” he grins. “11-year-olds there, they got tigers, ligers, zoos…” Though he bemoans the fact he couldn’t take his top off there to perform: “There was a 20 grand fine! At the soundcheck they said, ‘Make sure you don't do that tonight — you'll be in big trouble’.” Two days before Christmas, instead of panic-buying gifts, he was out in Lagos, performing with Skepta and Burna Boy. And a J Hus show could be coming to a place near you, as he’ll announce his touring plans right after the album drops. Underground in every sense of the word, J Hus has set himself apart from the current crop of MCs while highlighting the multicultural vibe that makes the UK capital so great. As he puts it, neatly, his sound is like everything you’ve heard before, but like nothing you’ve ever heard before. “The music is on a different level now,” he finishes with quiet confidence. “You're gonna love it.” J Hus’s debut album is expected to be released in April
Lydia Lunch Pissed Jeans Words: Tom Watson Illustration: James Burgess
Since forming Teenage Jesus and The Jerks in 1976, Lydia Lunch – the multimedia poet, writer, actress, and all-round embittered speaker of truths – has long chronicled the primitive delinquencies of men.
LL: I’m not a technical producer. I'm more of the inspirational cattle prodder. The only downside was when I flicked my ashes on to somebody’s neck and it went down their shirt. Who was that? Oh God.
Lunch wasn’t simply a product of New York City’s late-70s No Wave scene – she was one of its true visionaries; and she has stampeded through the decades with an anti-commercial outlook. She's also sunk her teeth in to music production, having recently assisted self-deprecating US sludgepunks Pissed Jeans with their new album, Why Love Now. Reflecting on the process in this conversation for Crack Magazine, Lydia spoke with Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette to discuss the Internet age, the rotten condition of US politics and the concept of the non-mono-gender. If you’re easily offended, avert your gaze now.
MK: Sean [McGuinness, drummer]. But I think he was fine. Probably hurt him for a moment, but it’s a pretty good story to come away with.
Lydia Lunch: You came and got me baby. You didn’t need a personal invitation. And here we are. What was it that brought you to me? MK: I don’t know. I needed some excitement in my life. Recording can be super fun but really clinical. LL: I was shocked that you came to me, because Pissed Jeans already have a defined sound. So my first question was ‘What are the lyrics? What are the topics?’ That’s what won me over. MK: That’s what I thought you’d be interested in. You weren’t there to assess the bass tone or anything, you know what I mean?
LL: I have a pretty good aim. You said you wanted some excitement, why not start with a small spark that could end in a forest fire? MK: [Laughs] Definitely. I just hoped you'd be interested. I didn't know you personally before and you totally cared. LL: I don’t do anything unless I totally fucking care about it. There were two things that really drew me to it. The chunky nature of the music and the perversity of the lyrics. It’s just fantastic. In It’s Your Knees, you actually adapt the insecurity most women have about any part of their body. It’s like women accept men who are fairly unattractive and disgusting yet women still opt to have sex with them. Women are, for the most part, far more attractive creatures but it's women that pick on their own knees or their elbows or their wrists like ‘are my wrists too fat? Are my knees too fat?’. I love that you spin the lyrics – can we twist that and see how we accept you grizzly motherfuckers in to our beds quite often? Well, not often enough if you ask me…but if you’re talking grizzly. Not you Matt, you’re hot. MK: Oh, thank you.
053 LL: You’re hot and all my gay boy friends agree. MK: I mean who’s hot and isn’t liked by gay boy friends? Right? LL: That’s what I measure shit by. More than the current socio-political landscape. I think your scale is more of an emotional landscape manifested by the Internet. MK: I think so. I think about it a lot. The Internet and how it dictates our interactions. I feel like you're pretty good at living a real life rather than fabricating an Internet one. I can’t imagine you filling out an Internet profile, ever. LL: I have Facebook sites, but I don't look at them. You want to write an essay, I’ll read it. I don't want to read bathroom graffiti on Twitter. I don't have Instagram. I don't have time to do that crap. I see so many people getting into little tiffs or misconstruing shit because they're not having a direct conversation, voice-to-voice or eyeball-to-eyeball. It’s just bullshit. MK: But do you notice that there’s a lot of newer bands, maybe younger people, that really take that stuff to heart? They almost shape their music so that the comments will be more positive. It makes me nervous. Like there’s no risk-taking. LL: My issue is never about being liked, honey. But they're being defined by something that doesn't exist.
LL: People in 1979 were not worried about being liked. They were just doing what they did and if you liked it then good for you. If you didn’t, get the fuck out of the club. MK: So are things getting worse? LL: I think it’s indicative of a spoiled, pampered infantilism where reality TV is more important than reality and everybody can be a superstar in a universe that revolves around their own fucking asshole. I like this question – ‘Do you identify with my idea of the ‘non-monogender’?’
MK: Have you ever worked a straight job for a few weeks just for the money? LL: For two weeks, I worked in a bar to steal food. When I first ran away to New York I went back and got money. I worked as a maid in a hotel but only to steal everything and screw the engineer in the bathroom. But it’s too late for me to have a straight job. I don't even know if I’ll manage to keep my head above the gutter but I’ve been a nomad for four years and I’ve been on rent strike. MK: Maybe not a straight job, but have you ever sucked it up and performed just for the money?
MK: Yeah, tell me about this. LL: Well, having consumed my brother in the womb - my first murder - I’ve always felt equally as masculine as feminine. As I like to say ‘don't let the tits fool you, they're just balls that have ascended’. I've always embraced my sexual schizophrenia. I feel like a faggot truck driver in a women’s body. It’s what I am, honey, I can’t fight it. MK: I feel like the general social masculine role is such an easy target. It’s so self-conscious and scared and fragile. I love fighting with that if I can. LL: And it shows in the diversity of your audience. You're like ‘anything but straight white males’. Not that you’re excluding them. MK: No you can’t, they’re everywhere.
MK: Is it the Internet that’s making people want to be liked? Or do you think there were just as many people in 1979 desperate to be liked?
different parts of their personality.
LL: Not that we have anything against straight white guys but the more nonmono-gender the more interesting people are because they're embracing
LL: No. Truthfully, I don't do anything I don't want to do. I would do more if I could. MK: I don’t have that level of integrity. I’ll hold a bag of Tostitos if you give me 30 bucks. I love money too much. LL: I’m not saying I don't love money. I’ve just never functioned in a corporate or mainstream realm. Not even been on a major record label…or major anything. I do too much for anyone to say ‘you’ve got to tour this album for two years’. I don't have that pressure at all. And because I mostly perform in Europe, I can bring diversity, which I couldn’t do in America. So it’s the opposite for me. It’s like ‘Hey motherfuckers, gimme some shows!’ Magazines don't cover me and don't want to cover me. But by this time you either know who I am or you don’t. I don't really care. MK: You know when you die, they’re going to act like you changed our lives…
“The general social masculine role is so selfconscious, scared and fragile. I love fighting with that”
054 LL: Back up, baby. First, you assume I'm not already dead. Then you assume I'm going to die or die once more. Then there’s the assumption that death matters.
MK: I read a quote from Lil Wayne recently. I’m sure you're familiar with him.
MK: Last year has just been nothing but praising dead rockstars.
LL: Love crunk.
LL: I wish more would die. I’m amazed at how few died. How long are you supposed to fucking live? Don't cry to me that Bowie died at 70 with a billion dollars in the bank. Give me a fucking break. That’s just pathetic.
MK: He does all of these crazy raps and apparently doesn't write any of them down and he was asked why. He said, “I don't want to die and have someone sell my diaries like Kurt Cobain.” That’s pretty right on.
MK: I like him but I wish I could read something somewhere hating on him just for perspective.
LL: That’s different to me. I’m about to sell my archives. Not journals as such but more personal correspondence with bodily fluids.
LL: Well, he had about 20 years of bad music. He died 20 years ago. I mean Lou Reed. Die already. I’m glad he did. Spare me. MK: I don’t expect you’ll die. There’ll just be no more appearances or nobody will be able to locate you. LL: You know me. They'll never find my body unless I donate it to Gunther Von Hagens' body world, sliced into a million slithers. Or stuffed... the ultimate in taxidermy.
“Everybody can be a superstar in a universe that revolves around their own fucking asshole”
LL: I love you Matt. You know all my fantasies.
MK: But that’s something you're doing on your own accord. LL: I want to do it before I die. Lil Wayne could go out any day now. Straight bullet. MK: So – this whole presidential election, what’s your take on that?
MK: You’d be a great hologram.
LL: I knew it was going to happen. One of my quotes was ‘What do you want? Pussy on somebody’s fingers or blood on their teeth?’ I don't want either actually.
LL: I’m loud in life. In death I’ll be louder.
MK: Yeah, it was a terrible choice.
MK: What would be your ideal age to die assuming you're going to die an immortal death?
LL: There was no choice. We didn't need an election, we needed an insurrection. It’s good because it’s pushing all sides to react. [Trump] is very indicative of the stupid of the American psyche. Just the fact that he’s so blusterous that he's bankrupted six times and yet he thinks he's going to repair this country. And then there was the other side. Somebody who's had her fingers in every war over the past 20 years. Who knows. It’s the same as it ever was. It’s feudalism. It’s nonstop war all the time. The best thing that happened today was that Obama agreed to let Chelsea Manning out.
LL: When the pain is intolerable, then I will slither away. I never get sick at all unless it’s catastrophic. I don't feel death waiting around the corner but I won't resist it when the time is right. Then again, my father was as strong as a fucking bull and he died from a brain aneurism. I’d rather go out kicking and screaming. MK: How about instead of kicking and screaming you go at the hands of a murderer?
“I’m loud in life. In death I’ll be louder”
MK: That was great. A surprise glimmer of hope. LL: Maybe he did that because Julian Assange said that if he did he would come back to America. Assange and Snowden need to be released from their possible indictments as well. One of the great lies of the Obama presidency, the beige prophet as I call him, was whistleblowers. We welcome them, but Obama incarcerated more than any president before him. I don't trust any of them. I left America originally because I saw how fascist it was under Bush Jr. So I went to a country that was 30 years out of fascism. I came back because ecstasy is at the mouth of the volcano. Pleasure at the brink of disaster. I've been talking about this bullshit since Reagan. A numerical came out yesterday saying eight men in the world own more than half the fucking population. MK: Crazy. I just wondered will there be a tipping point? Will [Trump] be impeached? Assassinated? Will he just quit? LL: He won’t quit. Who knows where it’s going? We are the laughing stock. Again, it’s like reality TV isn't even reality. Lies are the new truth. It’s outrageous. I can’t help but be amused and depressed for the sufferers.
LL: The whole country is a bully, which is going around mass murdering others. Cops are just a microcosm shooting people without reason. We are not freedom of liberty for all. We have more prisoners than Russia or China. 65million American people have criminal records. 300,000 people were arrested in New York alone last year. We pretend that there’s an American dream, that we’re all white and rich, living in LA. I talk about politics in my spoken word. My music is sexual politics, which is still politics. But I think there’s a lot of parallels in our work because we are conscious in what we do. I think you knew to come to me just so I sit in the studio and tell stories. Pretend I produced your record. That was a great joke. MK: What could be better than giving your money to Lydia Lunch? LL: Hey, ‘fuck the world, feed Lydia Lunch.’ That was a t shirt I made years ago. Anyway, your music harks back to Jesus Lizard or Butthole Surfers. That’s the period when there were a lot of great rock bands that had some weirdness that made them unique. Even after spending time with you, I haven't really decoded what your weirdness is. Why Love Now is released 24 February via Sub Pop
MK: I’m definitely not one of those people that had a wake up call about this. This is the fascist state really showing up. I'm already afraid of the cops. I could be killed at any minute.
Bala Club Photography: James Pearson-Howes Hair & Make-Up: Naomi Nakamura Styling: Kusi Kubi Words: Niloufar Haidari
On set at a studio in a corner of East London, Bala Club are trying on outfits that include wrestling masks, angel wings, inflatable jackets and make-up that ranges from a bit of eyeliner to fullon Juggalo. Just like their music, their look is trailblazing and apocalyptic, and it refuses to play by anyone else’s rules. Although the looks have been turned up to 100 for Crack Magazine’s shoot, the boys don’t really look much different on a day-to-day basis. “The first time we started experimenting was when we were about 10,” Uli K tells me. “I started painting my nails, lips, nose, eyes black. I wanted to be like The Murder Dolls, or Slipknot, like the metal bands I was listening to. I had long hair and when you're that young you're still quite androgynous, and people look at you like ‘What are you? Are you a boy or a girl?’”
An aversion to being defined is central to Bala Club’s ethos: they are loathe to even define the collective itself. At the core are brothers Kamixlo and Uli K, along with producer Endgame and MC BlazeKidd, but “there are always people that are coming through and getting involved in some way without it ever being a fixed entity,” Endgame tells me. “With the [Bala Club Vol 1] compilation there were a ton of people involved who were not necessarily there at the beginning but they've got the same ideas.”
Loosely, the crew fit into the wave of producers, DJs and artists taking over the underground with their ‘deconstructed club music’, repurposing everything from reggaetón to industrial noise to euphoric trance into something altogether new. The brothers didn’t go to school as children, something that Uli K believes was instrumental in the breadth of their influences. “We were eating through music so fast,” he explains. “By the time we were 12 we’d already been through everything from N*Sync to Limp Bizkit to Dr Dre, and we were listening to avant-garde shit like Frank Zappa. Even now, I want to create something new. Things already feel quite stale and the whole idea with Bala Club is to never become formulated, never become stuck.” Bala Club find common ground in their otherness. Themes that explore the extremes of light and dark, demons and angels, are central in both their music and their style. “It's kind of a representation of how I feel,” muses Uli K, “you gravitate towards the nighttime and the darkness when you feel excluded. When you're in the dark you're hidden, nobody can see you.” In terms of influence, wrestling is a huge inspiration for the brothers. Kami references WWE legends Matt and Jeff Hardy. “They're two brothers just like us, and their looks were always super colourful – long hair dyed red and green
and shit, colourful designs on their arms”. Uli K, wearing a wrestling mask custom-made for him by Nasir Mazhar, agrees: “That imagery [of] wrestling, and the sound of new metal that was huge at the time, the combination of these looks really blew our minds. As a child you want to imitate it, but once you reach a certain age of maturity you don't want to imitate any more, you want to create your own thing. We're inspired by all of this stuff but we don't want to be Slipknot or the Hardy Boys. We're just Bala Club”. Kamixlo’s Angélico EP is out now via Bala Club
This Page Pants: Soulland Shirt and Gloves: Kamixlo's Own Trainers: Nike
Opposite Page Mask & T-Shirt: Kamixlo's Own
This Page Embellished Jumper: Faith Connexion Mask: Uli K's Own Opposite Page Mask & Jersey Top: Uli K's Own T-shirt: Mars Pants: Nike
060 Overalls: Y3 Gloves: Nike
Cropped jacket: Berthold Pants: WESC Oversize Gillet: Mars
Shirt : Mars T-Shirt: BBC
This Page Shirt and Leather Pants: Faith Connexion Gloves: Stylist's Own Spike Choker: Kamixlo's Own Opposite Page Chain: Malibu 1992 Longsleeve Crew Jumper: Cut-Out Overall : Achieve KTZ
Ovation x radar radio: Prayer Live, Gaika Live
the Pickle Factory
02.02.17 the Golden Filter Live, Makeness Live
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02.02.17 Gidge Live, David Douglas Live
08.02.17 Utrecht Live, special Guest tBa
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09.02.17 illum sphere, Jon K
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02.03.17 romare Live, special Guest tBa
09.03.17 Lakker Live, Chambray
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02.04.17 Nerija Live, theon Cross trio Live, tom skinner
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06.04.17 Chrome sparks Live, special Guest tBa
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20.04.17 Daedelus Live, special Guest tBa
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21 .04.17 Clap! Clap! Live, special Guest tBa
27.04.17 Guy andrews Live, Untold DJ set, special Guest tBa
the Pickle Factory
27.04.17 HVOB Live, special Guest tBa
30.04.17 Ovation x soul:ution: tBa
the Pickle Factory
ekali Live, special Guest tBa
25.05.17 Death in Vegas Live, special Guest tBa
WITCHY METHODOLOGIES Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 13 January
Words: Valentina Egoavil Medina
The last time this could be observed was during the thirdwave of feminism in the 1990s. Whilst women were challenging the norm and celebrating female empowerment, popular culture introduced strong female lead characters such as Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), The Charmed sisters and the witches of The Craft. Millions of girls felt empowered by the concept of magic and these character’s strong personas. Today we see a similar recurrence where the interest in witchy subjects; historically, spiritually, pop culturally or aesthetically, seems connected to the rising popularity of the current feminist movement. In a recent event titled Witchy Methodologies at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, artist Anna Bunting-Branch presented an evening of screenings and discussions that explored the idea
of the witch in society, and the intersection between collective identification, political activism and artistic practice. The panel of artists included poet Holly Pester, Glasgow-based artist Georgia Horgan, performance artist Travis Alabanza and South African artist and writer Linda Stupart. The idea of the witch continues to resonate deeply in the context of queer and feminist academia. The term witch is almost always linked to subjects of sorcery and occultism, but also continuously connected to the feminine. History, however, has shown that witches and witchcraft have had little to do with paranormal phenomena. Rather, the persecution of witches can be seen as an expression of a general distrust in women with progressive views, holistic knowledge and unconventional lifestyles, embodying a threat to those in power in a patriarchal society. Georgia Horgan echoed these ideas with her performance lecture The Recording Demon,
which examined the narrative of sexuality and capitalism in medieval society. The idea of the witch surfaced in English society during the Middle Ages. As Horgan explained, there’s a direct correlation between female emancipation and the great witch-hunt. As one of the first and only ways to gain financial independence from men, women often turned to prostitution. Many of those women worked in the vastly underpaid textile industry as Kempsters or Spinsters, terms that were soon not only associated with the textile industry but also with prostitution. ‘[...]Sexual deviancy, aggressive or obstinate behaviour and reproductive crimes such as the use of contraception or abortion [were] featured heavily in charges brought against women in witch trials,’ Hogan explained. Accusations of sex with the devil, infanticide or cannibalism and cursing were all accompanying cases against women who were involved in disputes that were otherwise mundane’. The focus on female sexuality in witch trials
started a deadly crusade against these independent, single women, whose entrance into the labour market presented a threat to the social order and a culture of otherwise domesticated women. The subject of societal control previously discussed by Georgia Horgan was also evident in Travis Alabanza’s and Linda Stupart’s performance A Spell To Protect Each Other. In a powerful recital, the artists shared their personal encounters of continuous harassment for being black, trans, queer, female or simply outside of the bodily norm. The intimate discourse was essential for what followed next – the casting of A Spell to protect Each other: Mirror glamour 2:0, which was collaboratively executed with carefully assembled paraphernalia. Their intention behind this spell was to free themselves from experienced trauma, and it also served as a future promise to protect one another, emphasising the sense of solidarity and community found in witchcraft.
Following the theme through feminist history, Anna BuntingBranch fast-forwarded to the second-wave of feminism of the 1960s and 1970s with her short film W.I.T.C.H. (“Women Inspired To Commit Herstory” and other tales). Digital animation harmonised brilliantly with the tunes of Mary Watkins’ Witches Revenge while dissecting the period’s feminist movements, drawing inspiration from feminist fan fiction and science fiction. This film also referenced several unrelated activists groups, also known under the collective umbrella of W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), exploring the sense of community and sisterhood behind them. These women may not be burned at the stake anymore, but their bodies are still policed in numerous ways. The so-called witch maintains her heavy symbolism as someone who challenges the status quo. By reclaiming her body, practicing alternative healing methods, sharing ancient knowledge.
The empowered witch is as alive as ever. Inner power is not necessarily something magical but rather innate in all women. These ‘Witchy Methodologies’ demonstrate conclusively how witchcraft, similar to feminism, creates an idea of collective identification. A phenomenon that repeats itself throughout history, again and again.
Themes of witchcraft seem to surface in times of female liberation, and it seems as though the figure of the witch is casting its shadow over society once again.
prestatyn pontins, north wales april 21-23, 2017
SHIRLEY COLLINS / THE RESIDENTS CRAIG LEON & MARTIN REV OMAR SOULEYMAN THIS IS NOT THIS HEAT / ULVER OOIOO / ACTRESS / MICHAEL ROTHER richard dawson / GAIKA ANNA MEREDITH / CHROME MARK ERNESTUS’ NDAGGA RHYTHM FORCE demdike stare / Nurse with wound GROUPER / hieroglyphic being DOPPLEREFFEKT / ISLAM CHIPSY & EEK karen gwyer / Princess nokia BRAINBOMBS / rezzett / warm digits the cosmic dead / basic rhythm ATA KAK / CIRCLE / horse lords basic house / CARLA DAL FORNO MOOR MOTHER / asiq nargile guttersnipe cloud becomes your hand / zs and more still tba
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DVS1 CUR ATES fabric, London 13 January
NEW YE AR NEW NOISE Arnolfini, Bristol 20 – 22 January
fabric has always been run by a forward-looking team, so it’s no surprise that they took their enforced hiatus as a chance to reassess the schedule. But the switch up in Friday booking is also part of a new wave of changes to the club following an agreement struck with the local authorities. This included strict new licensing conditions, an over-19s policy and cutting the drum’n’bass and grime-focused fabriclive events down from weekly to monthly. As part of the shake-up, their big announcement was a new series: Curates, launched by Berghain regular DVS1. At the inaugural Curates event, in one sense the pressure was off. fabric’s reopening the previous weekend had run smoothly to good reviews. In another, their second weekend open was a chance to prove the club’s continued relevance. Online, fans of the club worried about the new conditions, sharing concerns that more security, lifetime bans and increased lighting would sanitise fabric. From the time I spent watching, searches appeared thorough but courteous. Security was tough, as it has always been. So far, little had changed. Medics were on hand by the door letting attendees know where to go if they felt ill. Occasionally, bouncers would part the crowd flashing torches in dancer’s faces. But the overarching feeling was of professionalism. “Welcome back”, said one staff member with a grin on his face. Arriving before midnight, I found ASOK, another Berghain regular, opening RM1 with a mix of percussive, looping techno. A larger crowd could be found in RM2 where, before fabric’s closure last year, a new Pioneer soundsystem was fitted. Few dancers were able to hear it before the club was shut down, and it sounded crisp as Freddy K warmed up with stabs of rave melody and bleeping techno. DVS1 had clearly put some serious thought into the night and by the time he appeared in RM1 he had the room on his side. He looked in control, almost nonchalant behind the decks, as he moved through a variety of sounds. By 4am he was dropping Paranoid London-esque acid-flecked techno. As the crowd began to diminish, Khutoretsky took a left turn, abruptly slamming Levon Vincent’s Arpeggiator Track into the mix. The track’s off-kilter chords reset the crowd before Khutoretsky moved into the final two-hour stretch, dropping classics like Plastikman’s Elektrostatik. Like any good night in Farringdon, it felt like a marathon. Exhausting as well as elating. But it was good to be back.
Bristol-based Howling Owl Records returned to the Arnolfini for New Year New Noise, on a weekend when many might be looking for reassurances. Lucky then, that something as brave as NYNN should coincide with something so terrible as the dawn of American Kakocracy. If nothing else, it’s comforting to consider how many of the things happening inside the gallery – multiplicity, inclusivity, ambiguity, deviancy – would probably annoy the shit out of neo-nazis. First to play in the pitch-black Dark Room is Bristol’s Agatha, lit up by garish, heattreated visuals to match his rich, heady techno. For tracks that carry so much weight in the beat, Agatha pours a lot of emotion into his music – bold-as-brass swells, vocal cut-ups and cinematic strings sit tight on top of thunderous drums. After an unscheduled fire alarm, people shuffle back upstairs for fiercely weird new artist Klein, but before this comes the debut of Portia Lewis, a girl-group put together and managed by Klein via Facebook. The trio croon, rap and harmonise over a set of unsettling, borderline-nightmarish backing tracks, beneath the buzz of which you can just about hear some more conventional RnB tropes – warm keys, sharp hats, cut-up vocals. The misbehaviour continues as the group leaves and Klein steps up, excitedly addressing the crowd through so many layers of effects that her speech is rendered unintelligible, her pitch-shifted voice reaching people like alien transmissions. A looping soul sample degrades into a bit-crushed frenzy, which she pitches up and down with reckless intent, creating fleeting rhythms and patterns. Klein live is like a desert, unhospitable and exhilarating, with things you think you recognise, or want to recognise, hovering and fading at the edge of perception. Saturday moves things downstairs to the main gallery. Drag king johnsmith slows Madonna’s Vogue down into male vocal territory, performing a mesmerising lip-sync. Soon after this, Silver Waves delivers the most satisfying set of the weekend. Hunched in the middle of the room behind a table of battered looking synths and pedals, the guy immediately dispels any fears of another second-rate Container and delivers a truly brutal twenty minutes of mutant breaks and dread-ridden electronics, all the while howling and frothing over the mic. The response from the packed gallery is huge. Dublin noise-rock unit Girl Band bring the night to a decisive, raucous finish. Lawman’s hypnotic waves of squealing, DNA guitar and plummeting bass get a particularly big rise from a crowd that’s very on its feet. The superb attention to rhythmic detail from all members suggests that an association with techno which the group has garnered over can be owed to more than simply a cover of Blawan’s Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage? – although said cover does get trotted out, and everyone loses it. On the Friday, Klein took us on a long journey to show us how, through tirelessly breaking with tradition and embracing fantasy, different worlds may be possible. Saturday, by contrast, was more straightforward – a howl of rage, directed outward. Intentionally or not, NYNN has explored two coping strategies – fantasy, and anger – that could prove more useful than ever in the years to come.
! Alex Green Danny Seaton
Most popular bands have trouble with a ‘singles crowd’, but the Flaming Lips have a confetti crowd. Before the show, I wait while the man next to me Googles ‘the Flamin Lips’. Surely, this Brixton Academy gig is where my childhood love for the band has come to have its coffin nailed shut? It seems too hyped, too overblown... too much. But, goddammit, Race for the Prize starts up and I cry. I cry, okay? There are streamers and there are colours, and it’s all covered in glitter and the music sounds as if it’s about to burst. Because the Flaming Lips’ reputation is not just due to a confluence of economic factors, experiential spending and the need for cosmic escapism in the face of an increasingly terrifying world. And they’re one of the few bands where the songs actually sound much better live. The textures are different, the volume is important, and the musicianship is, quite frankly, insane. Large Christmas-light tentacles hang from the ceiling, moving up and down in increments for different songs; Wayne rides a giant unicorn during There Should Be Unicorns; and balloons which glued together to form ‘FUCK YEAH LONDON’ are chucked into the crowd. The only sour moment is the discovery that the Flaming Lips are still doing that fucking giant blowup ball thing, and worse, they’re playing Space Oddity while Coyne is in it. It’s always going to be hard to continue to unselfconsciously love the Flaming Lips when this is what they’ve become. But the twistedly euphoric chorus of How??, from new album Oczy Mlody, comes close to bridging the gap between an auditorium singing Do You Realize?? at the tops of their lungs, and the gorgeous, wide-angle darkness of a project like The Terror. In spite of the weight of prophecy, there is still plenty here for a Flaming Lips fan.
! Xavier Boucherat Paul Samuel White
! Suzie McCracken N Lauren Harris
THE FL AMING LIPS Brixton Academy, London 21 January
TUE 28TH FEB
Jenny Hval MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
WED 24TH MAY 2017
Angel Olsen MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET 0300 6789 222 ROUNDHOUSE.ORG.UK
TUE T D OU 30TH MAY
O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON
WED 31ST MAY
Mac DeMarco MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET A BIRD ON THE WIRE PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH ATC LIVE
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tickets and more info at www.rockfeedback.com
07 08 08 CALL SUPER fabric92 fabric Records
With all the dialogue about a renewed critical and commercial interest in grime and UK rap music, it can sometimes feel like we have more think-pieces and ones-to-watch lists than we do music. Refreshing then that New Gen, a playlist-turned-label A&R’d by ex-GRM Daily editor Caroline SM, places the cast of artists firmly at the centre. The story goes that these 17 tracks were put together in a basement studio in Dalston, a space which became a hub of fiery, boundary-pushing musical energy. The end result is an exciting and diverse compilation of promising artists with a couple of highlights. BBC Sound Poll winner Ray BLK sounds bright with rich, soulful vocals on Busy, the unstoppable Stefflon Don conjures a storm on Money Haffi Mek and Coventry rapper Jevon makes a promising arrival on the melodic Man Of The Hour. There aren’t quite as many experimental forays as the hype suggested – a lot of the tracks are familiar styles done exceptionally well – but the prevailing triumph on this compilation is the mere fact that the music does all the talking. With any luck the New Gen imprint can grow and give artists enough space to work outside of typical blueprints – trying new things with the talent they’ve clearly got.
The first of fabric’s mixtapes since the club reopened its doors in January, fabric 92 comes with an undeniable sense of expectation. Charged with the task of meeting those expectations is Call Super, who takes this anticipatory energy and plays it off against moments of escapism and clarity in a set intended for the last hours of the night. Wellversed in slicing musicality and eccentricity into a floor-friendly techno set, Seaton weaves and winds his way across a stormy landscape with a tough bass providing the pathway, and glitches, muffles and high-end melodies informing the view. It’s a thoughtful, often moody mix full of complex emotion, from apprehension to elation to reflection. M:I:5’s Maßtab sets the scene nicely, as though clouds are coming in before droplets start to fall. Objekt’s The Stitch Up gets things moving, but it’s the subtle-yet-significant bassline grooves here and throughout that provide the spine to the mix and, even in its darkest moments, give it an accent of hope. There are moments of jazz and soul, of acid and IDM. Dalliances in tropical with Don’t DJ’s Pornoire and electro with Jega’s ZX82 give welcome stabs of energy without ever deviating too far from the transcendence of the mix. Call Super’s own Acephale II is a high point. As the rain begins to subside, Walter Brown’s Keep On Walkin’ cuts through, a powerfully lucid memory of American slavery. When worked into the gentle Flamingo-esque pop of Yves Tumor’s The Feeling When You Walk Away, it makes for a heartbreaking combination. Seaton’s deftness for blending styles and textures marks him out as a particularly musical DJ but here his knack for communicating a message also says a lot about him as a person. He’s not afraid to throw up challenges and suggestions, he’s committed to doing something different and he has something to say – in this instance, regardless of how stormy things get, beauty is there if you look for it.
Process swells with the impassioned, melodic expressions of South London’s Sampha Sisay. Despite not releasing a full-length solo album until now, Sampha has enjoyed mainstream recognition primarily as a featured artist. In 2016, he seemed to thrust out of a relatively quiet period, appearing on the albums of Kanye, Frank Ocean and Solange. It’s been a steep ascent since his early days collaborating with SBTRKT, but it’s clear to see why he’s so sought after: Sampha’s voice hits you at a spiritual level. Last May, he announced on Instagram; “I’ve had a lot to process these past couple of years, as we all do, and it’s hard to articulate sometimes.” During that time, what Sampha was processing and writing about was the death of his mother after the unexpected return of her cancer. And on Process, it’s hard not to feel deeply absorbed in his pain. Blood On Me hits you straight in the gut with Sampha’s vulnerable and desperate his pleads, as he runs from the fears in his dreams only to wake with their presence at the edge of his bed. (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano – written when Sampha moved back to his mum’s house – is a stirring duet between his velvety voice and the piano, which represents her home. A ballad co-written by Kanye, Timmy’s Prayer is the track where Sampha really gives everything he’s got: “I don't know which way to go now, don't know which way is home now.” The track is flooded with a sense of being lost, imagery of being at the shore, feelings suffocating him. Feelings which he’s poured into this exquisite debut album.
! Duncan Harrison
! Amelia Phillips
! Jo Kali
NEW GEN New Gen XL Rrecordings
06 SAMPHA Process Young Turks
RUN THE JEWELS Run The Jewels 3 Self-released
Killer Mike and El-P toy the line between comedy and catastrophe. Even their most absurd ideas carry a sort of radical intent. While 2015's fan-funded project Meow The Jewels – a remix of the group’s second album for which the beats were entirely replaced with cat noises – seemed like something of a goofy promo stunt, profits were donated to a charity supporting the families of victims of police brutality. Despite its cartoonish nature, their Run The Jewels project is a camouflaged weapon commandeered by the duo, with its target centered at America's rising right wing. According to Killer Mike, one of the fundamental aims for Run The Jewels 2 was to be harder, darker and angrier than the duo’s debut album. Released in 2014, it saw Mike concentrate on social and political activism for black America, while El-P parodied the state of the world as if seeing out the impending apocalypse armed with crisply sealed joints and dick jokes. Chronicling RTJ’s disdain over the current political landscape, this third album is a record of deeply-rooted antipathy towards the elite, something that’s fuelled both rappers’ discontent for decades. Bass-heavy, Bomb Squad-indebted production – now El-P’s trademark sound – remains as prominent here as on editions one and two. Gnarling electronics and thunderous drums form the bedrock for Killer Mike and El’s breathless verses. The crass weed and genitalia references are pretty unremitting, but these slapstick quips are usually followed by a cry for revolution. Never before has Killer Mike been so open about his past as on opener Down, where he soberly prays to himself that he will never go back to his Atlanta trap lifestyle. His politics, too, shine with clarity. "Go cold like the land of Chicago/ Child soldiers sprayin' the chopper/ But you don't give a fuck that's them though," he snipes on Don't Get Captured; a harrowing summation of the Obama administration's failure to reduce gun crime in impoverished areas. On A Report to the Shareholders, he expounds upon his cynicism towards 'old-fashioned' protest techniques: "Choose the lesser of the evil people, and the devil still gon' win/ it could all be over tomorrow, kill our masters and start again." Conversely, El-P takes opportunities to snarl at conservative taboos. His comical blabbering on tracks such as Panther Like a Panther act like precisely-timed jabs to Mike's angered preaching, with lines like "I'll flood the speakers with heat seekers and keep sneakers cleaner than nunnery pussy evening of Easter," providing comic relief. And this remains Run The Jewel's ultimate call to arms for the counterculture that supports their music. Stand up against the autocrats and rip away the red tape wrapped around big issue politics. Fill your lungs, point and laugh at all the lunacy until your airdrained body collapses to the floor. If RTJ2 was the emerging sounds of revolt, RTJ3 is the much-needed blueprint for change. ! Tom Watson
THE GOLDEN FILTER Still // Alone Optimo Music Like the Italians Do It Better label, The Golden Filter were making gently paranoid, vaguely menacing yet sexy electronic pop before the Drive score dripped into everyone’s ears, and way before the Stranger Things synths became last year’s sofa soundtrack. Still // Alone, the second LP from the London-via-New York duo, is an album in two halves, with the first section more muscular and the second half in softer focus. The serpentine opener We Are The Music is a darkly seductive invitation, like Factory Floor at their clockwork best, before Vibrational serves up taut, tense electronic rhythms, bleepy melodies, and Penelope Trappes’ breathy vocal overlays. In the second part of record, the slow, synth-led Dust has more of a song than a club track structure, with Trappes’ 1000-yard stare vocal swooping low and intoning ‘digging in the dust/ leave you in the dust’. The wistful Rivers closes things out: a forlorn, throbbing melody and a beautiful Chromatics hit that never was. In a sense there’s nothing very new in here, and it is possible that post-Stranger Things we’ve now reached peak sinister/smooch aesthetics. But the quality control is high, and The Golden Filter get a free pass because the zeitgeist caught up with them – rather than the other way around. ! Adam Corner
07 WILEY Godfather Wiley UK
Dutch Uncles claim to have taken their cues from impressive touchstones such as David Bowie's Low and Kate Bush's The Red Shoes for their fifth full-length record. Anybody familiar with the Manchester outfit will recognise their reliable blend of art-pop on Big Balloon, but might struggle to pick out precisely where either of those two icons come into play. Big Balloon is dutifully slick and assured in its weirdness, and its successes tend to come when the group aim for out-and-out aggression; the pointed title track pulls that off in opening the LP, as does Streetlight, which simmers with palpable tension. As usual, Duncan Wallis' lyrics are opaque and heavy on metaphor; and in this sense he’s stuck to his stylistic guns on a collection of tracks that, otherwise, feels like the most wilfully retro thing the band have done so far. Big Balloon is another confident stride from a group that remain a hidden gem within the alt-pop world. The only concern is that here Dutch Uncles veer uncomfortably close to being predictable. Anathema for a band with weirdness ingrained so heavily in their DNA.
William Basinski and his manipulations of decaying tape loops have been referenced alongside Jacques Derrida’s concept of hauntology – best described by Colin Davis as “the figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive.” Like the melancholic re-imaginations of the past explored in the work of The Caretaker and Brian Eno, Basinski has the ability to transport you into introspective and hypnotic states, stirring questions of our own mortality. It’s been fifteen years since Basinski released Disintegration Loops, the mesmerising music which was created in the shadow of 9/11. Utilising sorrow as an almighty muse once again, with For David Robert Jones – the second of this release’s two lengthy tracks – Basinski presents a forlorn and hopelessly bittersweet eulogy for David Bowie. Using an old Voyetra 8 synthesizer and bits of tape that were chewed up by his flatmate’s cat, Basinski pulls you deep inside a world of shapeless memories accented by both beauty and decay. A Shadow In Time opens with a faint but foreboding drone. Metallic noise slices into the dense and warbling atmosphere. Glacial in its movement and austere in its beauty, there is a brooding dissonance that gradually wanes, giving way to shimmering harmonies that moan and stretch until their own drowsy death. For David Robert Jones emerges from the murky depths of a bank of lost memories, provoking hazy visions of a life as seen through a rearview mirror. As much as there is light and a sense of being reborn, its gentle cascade also hints at a life turning to dust in the darkness. With restrained repetition, Basinski’s work reminds us that life is a series of perpetual cycles. For David Robert Jones, however, is the blanket over the inevitable end.
Gnawing on the heels of last year’s Emotional Mugger and LPs from pie finger bands Gøggs and Fuzz, in the least surprising news so far this year, Ty Segall is back with some more guitar tomfoolery. Departing from his multitracking jack-of-all-trades approach, here Segall has shared recording duties with a band, mish-mashed of players from his sprawl of projects. The result is punchy, with 10 tracks bounding in and out in just over 36 minutes. The aptly-titled opener, Break A Guitar, is a subtlety-free slab of sleaze and proto-metal riffing that would be at home on a Fuzz record. Freedom increases the pace and decreases distortion with rhythmic verses and jostling choruses punctuated by tennis-racquet-in-the-mirror solos. Talkin’ is a cautionary saloon bar tale of a disillusioned smack talker that buffers the feverish haste that continues on The Only One and into Thank You Mr. K. The latter of which features the sound of glass smashing and the sort of rock ‘n’ roll piano refrain you’d imagine having to play with your feet. Orange Color Queen is a love song written for Segall's longterm girlfriend Denée, of L.A. punks Vial. It’s by far the most earnest moment on the album, and perhaps even of his career to date. Ty Segall is essentially a splurge of ideas that showcases his many sides. Less cohesive as an album than Emotional Mugger and 2014’s Manipulator, it’s fun, loose and as skilfully crafted as it is reckless and boneheaded. Much like anything with a guitar should be.
Max Richter’s Three Worlds: music from Woolf Works begins with a reading of Virginia Woolf’s seminal essay, Craftsmanship: ‘Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations’. The clip, recorded for a 1937 BBC broadcast, is the only surviving voice recording of Woolf. In a way, it acts as the binding force for the entire score, which relies so poignantly on the importance of memory and nostalgia. Like Blue Notebooks, Richter’s 2014 experimental score that used excerpts from Kafka’s Blue Octavo Notebooks as its starting point, Woolf Works is as much about concept and curation as it is composition. Structurally, the score has a three-part structure, built around themes from three of Woolf’s novels: Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves, and includes spoken word from Gillian Anderson and Sarah Sutcliffe. Typical to Richter, the music takes inspiration from 20th century composers such as Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt, but at times it submerges itself fully into synthular modes of expression, as in Modular Astronomy and Genesis of Poetry, or the grandiose transitional style of The Tyranny of Symmetry. Woolf’s suicide note, her heart-rendering farewell letter to her husband, read by Gillian Anderson, sets the contemplative tone for the closing track The Waves. Like the novel, Richter’s twentyminute piece plunges into a mournful gestalt. It is a stunning manifesto that combines elements from each track into one profound and final thrust. As the album comes to a close, all that remains is the allpervading cry of a single violin and then, silence.
! Joe Goggins
! Tomas Fraser
! Aine Devaney
! Ian Ochiltree
! Gunseli Yalcinkaya
DUTCH UNCLES Big Balloon Memphis Industries
WILLIAM BASINSKI A Shadow In Time 2062 / Temporary Residence MA X RICHTER Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works Deutsche Grammophon T Y SEGALL Ty Segall Drag City
! Sammy Jones
SHEER MAG Compilation LP Wilsuns RC Philly punks Sheer Mag have been around since early 2014. This, their first full-length release, is a compilation of the three excellent four-track EPs that span their career thus far. Their retro-rock influences immediately and unashamedly lick every track – the feel of Thin Lizzy comes on strong thanks to lead guitarist Kyle Seely’s snappy riffs, and the soul-filled howl of vocalist Tina Halladay is full of punk fight in the vein of The Dirtbombs. It’s a good mix: the feel-good classic rock vibes mellow Halladay’s powerful vocals, and that same throaty, belligerent delivery pulls the moonshine-soaked jams back from getting too cheesy. It works in the flesh too – at their notably wild live shows, the vocals and band gnash against each other just enough to grind both down to their essences. This is instantly appealing music you want to flip into your cassette player while you zoom into the desert, for sure, but another layer of what makes Sheer Mag exciting is their reclamation of a workingclass genre and how they’ve translated it back into inclusive, empowering political music. These power chords, riffs, and licks are traditional ‘cockrock’ all over, but Sheer Mag use them to tackle domestic violence, class oppression, and, broadly, minority resistance. Can’t Stop Fighting, the first track of the band’s most recent EP, discusses the murder of the women of the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. It feels particularly poignant in the wake of the global Women’s Marches against the newly-inaugurated Trump: “All my life I've felt the eye of the catcall,” Halladay tells us. “We're striking back baby, and you can find me in the vanguard.” Punch the air and grab a whiskey already: it feels great to have Sheer Mag on our side.
The beauty of Wiley’s music is that there’s so much of it to sift through; 11 studio albums, countless mixtapes, freestyles, remixes, rave recordings and radio sets that stretch back to the early 2000s. Despite the remarkable legacy, he’s found his mettle tested over the last two years, particularly given grime’s contemporary crossover appeal — spearheaded by a new generation of lyricists like Stormzy and conversely, the success of his others from his generation, most notably, Skepta. For years, his was often seen as one of grime’s dominant narratives, but as he admits on the opening throws of this new album, Wiley’s role is changing. It feels fitting then, that his best album in some time is called Godfather, a title bestowed on him by the grime scene for over a decade. Over the years, Wiley’s music has also always been at its best when he’s had something to prove — and this album is no different. A master of flow, he excels on classic Wiley tracks like Speakerbox and the skittish, On This, which also features two of his former protégés — Ice Kid and Chip — as well as veteran, Little Dee. Their inclusion, as well as others like President T, P Money, Ghetts, Skepta and Scratchy, is indicative of Wiley’s mindset — he regularly shouts out new MCs he rates, but none make the track-listing here. As the album moves through the gears — it does feel a bit exhaustive at 17 tracks — he does start taking shots at his doubters: “I walk in the place like everybody’s better than me … ummmm, pysch!” he jokes on Bait Face for example, clearly irked by having to play catch-up on some of his contemporaries. That said, it does feel like a more mature Wiley album too; old rivalries have been cast aside (Devlin) and he tackles a fair amount of earnest, self-reflection (Lucid, U Were Always, Pt 2). All in all, Godfather does deliver as Wiley’s biggest statement in some time, but also as a symbolic passing of the baton — he’ll always be the best, but as he said in a recent interview with RWD, “I’m 37 now and I’m getting a stitch.”
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In 2016, Toronto singer and rapper Tory Lanez had a big hit with the dancehall and RnB blend of LUV, the hook of which was nicked from Everybody Falls in Love, a hit for Jamaican dancehall duo Tanto Metro and Devonte in 2003. Chixtape 4 rides nostalgia similarly, with Play Picasso’s beats incorporating samples of well-loved RnB hits of the 90s and 00s. The New Toronto 2, a mixtape of more cuttingedge material which Lanez simultaneously dropped on New Year’s Day, is essentially just as derivative. Belting out odes to drug dealing and Rolls Royce SKRRTing, through an autotune, over bombastically sombre beats (Play Picasso again), Lanez sounds completely upto-date on TNT2 – and always like someone else. R Kelly’s You Remind Me of Something isn’t sampled on Chixtape 4, but it’s practically the Tory Lanez theme song. When Lanez sings, he reminds you of Chris Brown. When he bellows and squashes his vowels in his nose (e.g. ‘right narrr’), he reminds you of Travis Scott. Elsewhere, he reminds you of Bryson Tiller. Inevitably, he reminds you of Drake. Love or hate Drake, RnB/rap hybrids these days are created in the North Face clad shadow of Toronto rap’s first megastar. Drake and his production team have made forlorn piano, ominous filtered bass and (both sonically and emotionally) isolated vocals the RnB sound of the past decade. And Lanez isn’t one to buck a trend. TNT2 demonstrates how effectively this aesthetic conjures a sense of ominous drama around a voice; moodily lit like this, the hollowest bragging can feel deep, the paltriest three-note melody can easily soar. This is ideal, for a weak (though distinct) singer like Drake. Lanez is a more talented (although less distinct) singer than Drake, and decent rapper, but The New Toronto 2’s aesthetic is claustrophobic, for both Lanez and listener. This RnB aims to be as toughly masculine as trap, and so everything is played in a minor key, and the emotion is displaced with indulgent use of autotune. ! Jack Law
KING GIZZ ARD AND THE LIZ ARD WIZ ARD Flying Microtonal Banana Shuga Records
TORY L ANEZ Chix tape 4/The New Toronto 2 Self-released
THE FEELIES In Between Bar/None One of the slightly ‘nicer’ post-punk outfits, New Jersey band The Feelies were a band that kept the fringes but lost the dread when they released their stupidly good debut Crazy Rhythms in 1980. A largely acoustic, slow-building indie rock forerunner, you can hear the influence of its jangly strum in everyone REM to Yo La Tengo, and its iconic cover is more directly appropriated on Weezer’s Blue Album. The Feelies’ latest album is a generally serene and often excellent one, recalling the college rock and rootsy Americana of their first two albums with some welcome, more abrasive notes thrown in. Flag Days is a strong, if slightly grating, example of the more ‘down home’ tracks that are occasionally featured here – the “Hey now, hey now!” chorus providing an awkwardly strident interlude between the cosy, insular tracks set around it. The majority of the record enjoys more success, and is so distinctively Feelies-esque in its sound that it is both instantly familiar and constantly enjoyable. The sound of their beloved Velvet Underground permeate the tracks: with Doug Yule mellowness evident in the likes of Pass The Time and In Between, while you can practically hear John Cale’s discordant piano stabs during the messy, tense jam that finishes the latter song’s reprise at the end of the record. Awesome. ! Jon Clark
Australian psych rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have released eight records in four years. Now the Melbourne band aim to release five albums in this year alone. It’s a fittingly insane promise from one of the weirdest and most wonderful bands on the planet, and I wouldn’t bet against them coming through on it. The best thing about King Gizzard, aside from the psychotic bedlam that envelops their gigs, is that they somehow manage to avoid blandly rehashing the same ideas, even at their exhausting rate of recording. Their last effort Nonagon Infinity was a nearperfect amalgamation of garage rock’s capacity for exhilaration and propulsion. But it was also defined by its conception as an infinite loop: when played with a repeat function activated, the end of the final track segues perfectly back to the beginning of the first. Further back in early 2015, before the warm and hushed Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, they released Quarters, a four-part improvisational album where each song was exactly 10 minutes and 10 seconds long. These conceptual frameworks somehow avoided feeling gimmicky, instead giving the band focus. The particular quirk that gives Flying Microtonal Banana its name is their experimentation with microtones: splitting traditional western octaves into 24 tones instead of 12. The result is an eastern flavour that won’t be unfamiliar to anyone aware of psychedelia’s longtime flirtation with sounds from beyond Western Europe. The difference here is that there aren’t many bands who built microtonal guitars shaped like flying bananas before. Often, admirably outwardlooking records like these overlook the fundamental tenet of actually sounding good. Thankfully frontman Stu Mackenzie recently stated that for them: “[The] challenge was to make music that didn’t sound too wrong within those parameters.” On Flying Microtonal Banana, their mix of experimentation, insatiably chugging rhythms, and classic psych screech-and-squawk, sounds so, so right.
Kehlani’s name gained some unwelcome attention in 2016. After finding herself at the centre of a Twitter storm of false cheating accusations, the 21-year-old Oakland singer refused to buckle under the pressure. Instead, she transformed a stressful moment in the spotlight into a platform to speak frankly about mental health, public perceptions and her own relationships. An extension of the direct nature that the RnB upstart has become known for over the past two years, Kehlani continues to explore these themes on her hotly anticipated album. Kehlani’s style is a contemporary tribute to all things femme, soul and/or girl group, even down to the album title, which harks back to TLC’s 1994 album CrazySexyCool. Songs like Keep On, Distraction and Too Much are crying for a Hype Williams-directed wind tunnel video with their soft, trustworthy RnB harmonies, keys and creeping double clap beats. In Personal, Not Used To It and Piece of Mind we find gems of infectious vulnerability reminiscent of Drake circa Marvin’s Room. The therapeutic function of SweetSexySavage is clear; and the pensive conversation is honest and intimate, almost to a point of voyeurism. The last element of Kehlani’s empowering trifecta is her unapologetic message of self-ownership in all her youthful and albeit flawed glory – CRZY, Undercover and Do U Dirty act as the sing-along anthems of strength and tenacity: “If I gotta be a bitch, Imma be a bad one” as words to live by. To be clear, this is not the classic album many hoped Kehlani had in her, and in a few respects it falls victim to tropes – ballads such as Escape and Hold Me By the Heart, for example, are so sweet that they lean towards Disney Channel territory. But often the strongest collections of work are those of which the fan favourites vary from person to person, and this could be true of SweetSexySavage. By building upon the foundation of her dynamic Grammy-nominated mixtape, You Should Be Here, Kehlani has again accomplished her mission of unpacking the diversity of the individual. And in there, among a sprinkling of indulgent auto-tune and a few tiresome epiphanic skits, we find the emotional and sonic Sweetness, the retro Aaliyah-esque Sexy and the maverick feminist Savage to complete Kehlani’s holy trinity of badassery.
While you could categorise his music as indie rock, Oliver Wilde’s first two albums established him as a fine composer. Steeped in fuzzy noise, his songs are nonetheless orchestral in their outlook, with layered instruments and imaginative arrangements. PostFrenz Container Buzz, Wilde’s third full length, is his finest album to date – one of soaring musical passages in difficult lyrical contexts. With many vocal takes laid down on a tape recorder from within a hospital toilet, the record was made in the midst of treatment for his unusual heart condition, one that has presented obstacles in Wilde's music career for several years. The hiatus has provided a vitality to the new record that was absent from his second album Red Tide Opal in the Loose End Womb, which acted more as a continuation of the work heard on his debut. Here there is heavy, crunching noise and pop-oriented belters that meld perfectly with his lighter, dreamier offerings. Opener Good Kind of Froze sets the record off with its pulsing cacophony of insistent beats and infectious choruses, whereas Smothered sees more familiar, but no less welcome, Wildean wooze that juxtaposes heavy subject matter with a detached surrealism. Big Black Chunk provides further inventiveness in its neat cutting and pasting of disparate ideas into a romantic, affecting six minutes. But it’s Klooker’s Feathered Trill that summarises the whole of Post-Frenz Container Buzz: a track of flickering, distorting imagery and startling imagination, realised as superb pop music.
! Theo Kotz
! Natty Kasambala
! Jon Clark
OLIVER WILDE Post-Frenz Container Buzz Howling Owl Records
KEHL ANI SweetSex ySavage Atlantic / TSNMI
FEBRUARY 2017 ~ LIVE ~
Oscar Jerome + Babe
Peggy’s Big Sunday /
Julie Bergan + Camden Cox
1st 5th 8th
Sounds Familiar Music Quiz / 15th
The Station Breaks /
Il Teatro Degli Orrori /
SOUND & VISION
Free Monday screenings
ft. Purple Rain, Pulp Fiction etc.
~ LATE ~ every Friday
BUSHWICK BOOGIE TIM WESTWOOD
Two rooms of hip hop, R & B,
Exciting bi-monthly residency
90s hip hop and r’n’b knees
house, garage and bashment
from the big dog himself
up for all you cool kids
across the board
Dates, times & tickets: w w w.hoxtonsquarebar.com
T SOLD OU
T SOLD OU
T SOLD OU
T SOLD OU
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Erykah Badu's seminal debut, Sassy Black celebrates its soulful complexity
Original Release Date: 11 February, 1997 A source of inspiration and enlightenment, Erykah Badu has been an essential influence to artists such as Janelle Monae, Solange, Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote, Solange and myself among many others. So how do we celebrate this Black Queen who has been bopping to the sound of her own beatbox all her life? How do you celebrate the 20th anniversary of her seminal debut album Baduizm, with its sense of freeness that’s as vast as an open field? You bask in its glory.
Baduizm helped expand soul music, and it bridged the gap between multiple (Black) American genres. The tracklist includes numberous Badu classics, from Bag Lady, to Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long. The music also includes flares
of folks with whom Badu has collaborated (D’angelo), divas who are considered to be her peers (Jill Scott) and disciples of her groove (Anderson .Paak, who has worked with Baducollaborator Shafiq Husayn on many of his projects). The sense of vulnerability on the record is deep. To share stories which incorporate universal belief systems, astrology and wo/man as a decisive, bold creature in such a carefree, playful fashion is powerful. Badu is able to exert the lyrical dexterity of Nikki Giovanni with the confidence of the illest emcee. I first got into Baduizm as a college student. I’d heard Badu’s music growing up, but I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t comprehend the mature stories she was weaving. It wasn’t until I was 18 and began my journey as a young adult woman, that Badu’s lyricism and situational playfulness hit me in my gut and serenaded my soul. And it wasn’t until I experienced my first
heartbreak that I would begin to truly grasp all that was Baduizm. With songs like On & On and Appletree, Erykah Badu expresses definitive confidence of self and acceptance of what the situation at hand consists of, all the while breaking down her personal process of analysing what is currently taking place. On Otherside of the Game, Badu sings of her understanding and affinity for her partner and their lifestyle, while expressing concern for their well-being of themselves and their unborn child: “Now, I ain't sayin' that this life don't work/ But it's me and baby that he hurts”. The journey she constructs, with the musical accompaniment of The Roots, plays out like a short film which leaves you wondering where the couple will ultimately end up. Next Lifetime tackles the age-old subject of monogamy, commitment and thoughts of infidelity. While the theme here is familiar, Badu’s interpretation is soulful and
bluesy while being cosmic, proposing the idea of connecting with a romantic interest, although you are involved with someone else, in another lifetime: “Now what am I supposed to do/ When I want you in my world? How can I want you for myself / When I'm already someones girl? / I guess I'll see you next lifetime" Here, Badu suggests that she isn’t afraid of the taboo emotions she feels, and also that she believes in several opportunities to live and fulfil a lifetime. Whether metaphorical or literal, the lyrics of this song speak loudly about the woman behind the words. If Baduizm doesn’t hit the soul, I don’t know what does. Badu is more than a vocalist, she is an ancient storyteller sent to Earth to provide a universal connection and cosmic perspective to those willing to listen. Within an hour, we are taken on a trip through
jazz, soul, blues and funk; a deconstruction of hip-hop for the advanced listener. Having studied jazz all my life (as a listener and trained vocalist), Badu was my missing link. I was having a hard time connecting jazz music to my experiences, modern sound and finding a way to actually own it. Erica Wright created a uniquely soulful, bluesy and psychedelic sound for herself and ultimately other Black women like her, including myself. She presented a space wherein I could freely express my sentiments without feeling like an outsider or wrong-doer. She expanded my musical community. ! Sassy Black
ERYK AH BADU Baduizm Kedar Records
L A L A L AND dir. Damien Chazelle Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
SILENCE dir. Mar tin Scorsese Starring: Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver ENDLESS POETRY dir. Alejandro Jodorowsk y Starring: Adan Jodorowsky,Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores For those who aren’t familiar with the surreal wizardry of Alejandro Jodorowsky, this autobiograpghical film may seem like a wholly incomprehensible and egoistical affair. Taking inspiration from old masters like Fellini and Kusturica, the 87-year-old’s latest film and sequel to 2013’s The Dance of Reality is a spiritual journey of artistic self-actualisation. The film follows young Alejandro (played by the director’s son, Adan Jodorowsky) as he pursues a bohemian life at a poet in the Chilean capital, against the wishes of his father who believes that poetry is for “faggots”. In this portrait of the artist as a young man, Alejandro undergoes a string of events that finally amalgamate in his moving to Paris in the 50s, a bidding a final farewell to his father. Moments of the absurd dominate the picture as misfits, artists and circus performers carry Alejandro on his adventure through the giant 2D cut out world of his own imagination. What follows is a carnivalesque theatre of menstrual blood rituals, a dwarf dressed like Hitler and a pseudo-Freudian love-affair with a bad-girl poet Stella Díaz, who is played by Pamela Flores – that is, the same actor that plays his mother. Endless Poetry is a fantastical and shamelessly self-indulgent portrayal of a poet in search for meaning in a world of vanity and illusion. ! Gunseli Yalcinkaya
Due to an onslaught of setbacks, Silence is 30 years in the making. And this adaption of Shusaku Endo's novel of the same name is among the most pained and personal work Martin Scorsese has completed in just as long. Charting the grave journey of two Jesuit priests (Garfield and Driver) through 17th century Japan, they aim to investigate their former mentor (Neeson) after word of his apostatising and spread the word of Christianity in a country where their faith has been outlawed. Mostly taking place in exterior locales, Dante Ferretti's stripped-back period production design, Rodrigo Prieto's washed out photography, and Scorsese's reigned-in formalist approach to the material paints a perfectly savage picture of religious persecution. It’s important to discuss the ‘miscasting’ of British and American actors as Argentinian priests, and yet the devoted performances from both cannot be denied. Scorsese has always finely walked the rare path of personal filmmaking through the studio system and here everyone involved bares their soul in a film of raw majestic power that, even at its most harrowing, remains life affirming. ! Joseph McDonagh
! Francis Blagburn
The Fits dir. Anna Rose Holmer Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Niblett, Da’Sean Minor The Fits explores shifting adolescence as seen through the eyes of Toni, who is played with masterful poise and elegance by Royalty Hightower. Toni attempts to make an uneasy transition from the masculine world of the local boxing club to the glamour and giggles of the Lionesses dance troupe across the hall, but just as she seems to have achieved her goal the girls begin to be struck down with ‘the fits’ – convulsive shaking episodes with no medical explanation. Toni finds herself alienated again, except now she understands that fitting in is simply not standing out. In her directorial feature debut, Anna Rose Holmer draws on authenticity for the Ohio-based film. The parts are cast from a real dance troupe, the boxers are Junior Olympic level, and the fits are inspired by real historical cases. It keeps The Fits far from the usual tropes of comingof-age films, and the minimalistic locations and dialogue serve to emphasise the kinetic power of movement at the heart of the film. Most people have felt the struggle of acceptance, however fleeting. The Fits is a mesmerising reassurance of both this struggle, and of the solutions we find. ! Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black
T2: TR AINSPOT TING dir. Danny Boyle Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald Many years ago, Begbie, Renton, Sick Boy, and Spud were pissing in a disused railway station. A homeless alcoholic man approached them. “Are you trainspotting?” he asks. Spud recounts this in T2; reminding the audience this was Begbie’s father. It’s an important story in a film about ageing; about men getting older and realising, with terror, that they’re turning into their own deadbeat dads. The film picks up 20 years after Renton double-crossed his friends and stole their money. His betrayal worked its way like a poisoned splinter into his friend’s hearts and destroyed their lives. Begbie is a murderer, Spud a smackhead, Sick Boy an embittered cokehead (his hair still looks great, of course.) Once more, a financial opportunity presents itself. T2 isn’t a perfect film. Women barely feature (Kelly Macdonald is wasted), or when they do their characters are stereotypes: tarts-witha-heart or put-upon mothers. The nostalgia propelling the film ends up being sentimental, and some of Boyle’s visual flourishes (showing words being spoken on the screen, for example), are annoying. But some scenes—like when Renton and Sick Boy steal credit cards at a nationalist party, or when Renton and Begbie unexpectedly reunite in a nightclub toilet—are incredible. When Danny Boyle introduced T2 at a press screening, he said, “I just didn’t want it to be shite.” T2 is definitely not shite. It’s a very good film, and a worthy sequel to an all-time-great. ! Sirin Kale
La La Land is the opium of the people. It reboots old Hollywood musicals like Singing in the Rain with all the escapism of the originals and added 21st century self-referentiality – take when Mia (Stone) confides in Sebastian (Gosling) that the play she’s writing is “too nostalgic”. There’s a meta-level parallel to La La Land as a whole. Sebastian retorts: “Nostalgic? That’s the point!” It’s a fair defence. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia per se, so why not just embrace it? Where the film falters is that for all its supposed self-awareness, it fails to see what’s problematic about romanticising often whitewashed 40s, 50s and 60s stories with a depiction of a white man ‘saving’ jazz. Gosling is an A-list star complaining that jazz musicians aren’t getting the credit they deserve, in a film in which he’s one of the only jazz playing characters with a speaking part. As a sensory experience, the film is enjoyable. The drawback is that there’s little to be nostalgic about when Hollywood is stuck in the same regressive habits it was when these musicals came around the first time. Nostalgia, after all, works best from a distance.
THE BEST IN NEW LIVE MUSIC HOPSIN
CHAIN OF FLOWERS
FEB 11 THE VICTORIA LONDON
TOUCHÉ AMORÉ W/ ANGEL DU$T
FEB 16 HEAVEN LONDON
FEB 18 SOUND CONTROL MANCHESTER FEB 23 O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
MAR 08 KAMIO LONDON
ODDISEE & GOOD COMPNY
MAR 09 HEAVEN LONDON
MAR 11 ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL LONDON
Products CAPITALIST RE ALISM Mark Fisher zero-books.net £7.99
WHAT DOES OUR FUTURE HOLD? polyesterzine.com £15 In response to the growing popularity of the medium, Polyester Zine teamed up with London witches The Coven Collective to deliver an alternative, feminist tarot deck. Featuring the likes of Maisie Cousins, Hobbes Ginsberg and Clio Peppiatt, over 70 artists give the tarot deck a fresh new look while championing diversity and intersectionality. A 21st century makeover for the ancient healing tool.
Following the sad loss of influential music writer and theorist Mark Fisher, arm yourself with his crucial work as we head further into an uncertain world. Fisher is known for his big-picture thinking for publications like The Wire, his many books and his era-defining K-punk blog that galvanised a generation of writers. Regarded as his most vital text, Capitalist Realism argues that it is now easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, asking how the dogma can be challenged. Essential reading.
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Bumped into a wasteman and in need of a fast and effective par? Introducing the Boy Bye Bot! Give him the number listed on boybyebot.com and, when he inevitably texts you, he will get an automated reply of creepy crazy foolishness that will put him off for good. Our favourite auto-reply is, “When we have babies, would you accept them if they just wanted to be artists?”
WILLIAM ONYE ABOR CANDLE luakabop.tictail.com $15 RIP Fantastic Man. Shine bright.
PHYSICALLY SICK COMPIL ATION allergyseason.bandcamp.com Name your price
Just in time for the dreaded Inauguration Day, Discwoman and Allergy Season dropped this compilation, with all proceeds going to selected charities who oppose the incoming Trump administration. Featuring the likes of Rroxymore, Umfang and Physical Therapy, the album is a who’s who of underground electronic music that aims to “alleviate the symptoms of discrimination and demagoguery”.
Crossword Across 3. The day before today 5. French, Vodka, Dance Dance etc 8. The GOAT underwater transportation method 9. Bored of these four things on my car 10. Hot, dark liquid energy elixir 12. Long-tusked sea cow, you are one 13. Baked, kidney or coffee Down 1. Hard backed tiny dudes who come in many varieties 2. That thing you should ask for but you don’t 4. Catherine, the witch’s companion 6. Not everyone’s favourite plant-based sweet 7. Salt and this guy… 10. Cylindrical woodwind, favoured in the Klezmer community 11. The darkest colour ever
Answers Across: Yesterday, Revolution, Submarine, Tire, Coffee, Walrus, Bean Down: Beatles, Help, Cat, Liquorice, Pepper, Clarinet, Black
Self Portrait Oliver Wilde
Ryan Giggs or FKA twigs? Who said it: the unfussy Manchester United legend, or the otherworldly songstress? 1) “I really keep my life very simple” 2) “I definitely keep myself to myself. I don't really go out. If my friends want to see me, they know to come around to my house” 3) “I need to get better at talking to people in groups. If I go to a party or dinner party, not feeling like I have to be really quiet” 4) “I’m not comfortable being photographed, though I accept it is part of the job” 5) “I want to be a role model, but not for the world”
Answers: 1) twigs 2) Giggs 3) twigs 4) Giggs 5) twigs 6) Giggs
6) “I’m lucky enough to have met people from all sorts of industries. Even the Gallagher brothers have been nice to me when I’ve bumped into them”
This month's artist takeover was created by @DRME_Studio, who was responding to the word 'Participate'.
If you're interested in contributing to this series, please email email@example.com
Turning Points: JoJo
At just 26 years old, JoJo has lived a lifetime in the pop industry. Known to most as the noughties pop star who styled out hoop earrings while sassing exes, Joanna Levesque initially got her big break performing on US comedy programme Kids Say The Darndest Things, prompting calls to appear on Oprah and America’s Most Talented Kids. At the age of 12, she signed with Blackground Records, home to artists like Aaliyah and Timbaland. JoJo became the youngest artist in history to top Billboard’s Pop 100 chart with her school disco-defining debut single Leave (Get Out), going on to release three albums and sell over eight million records. When Blackground ceased to be active in 2009, JoJo was left trapped in a label limbo and experienced troubling input from label execs attempting to control her image. But after filing a lawsuit to extract herself from their control, JoJo was finally able to return to public consciousness last year with her third studio album Mad Love. We spoke to JoJo over the phone while she getting a new tattoo – a turquoise bracelet, specifically – to look back on her journey so far.
2004: Releasing debut album JoJo at age 13 I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, so I always wanted to make albums, to tour. I was in London with my mum when I heard that I had a number one single in America. We ordered a pizza, and we ate the whole pizza. I was 13 and she didn’t want me to get a big head, so we went about life like it was just another day. I’m lucky that my mum always looked out for me as a child before anything. She protected me from a lot of gnarly things that can happen in the industry. It’s funny to listen back, I sound like a chipmunk, but I remember how I felt. I can hear myself finding my footing as a young person, as a young woman, as someone who is feeling imperfect and wants to see if other people feel the same way. 2009 Onward: Trouble with label Blackground Early on, I didn’t feel like I was being coerced or forced to present an image that I wasn’t comfortable with. But around the time that I turned 18 I started to get uncomfortable and hear opinions about my weight or the way I dressed. It took me a few years to reclaim my strength and to feel comfortable even in my own skin, in my own style, in my own body. I was
reading self-help books, and building myself back up by telling myself that I’m good the way I am. With the contract, I felt like I was suffocating, because I wasn’t able to continue with my career. I got into that situation thinking that we’d be family forever, and now what I want from my label is truly a business partnership. 2013: Separating from Label Getting out of my contract with the label was very emotional, I’m thankful that I can finally release music. Having success from an early age, having a lot of ‘yes’ people, can shape you into a certain type of person, and it can be dangerous. Facing the adversity with the label, having to really fight for what I want to do for the rest of my life, gave me perspective. I’ve had some very high highs and some very low lows. When I was suing my record label, I recorded several incarnations of albums that unfortunately never got released. I think, through that, I learned about myself as a songwriter. I really grew into that role. 2015-16: Career Comeback [My debut] came out in 2004. In the years since then there’s been major strides in the way that young women are represented. There are so many different ways to be a woman
represented in pop culture now. There’s no cookie cutter model. Now, labels know that shit doesn’t work. My generation, our generation, can sniff out fakes. We want something that’s real. That’s the biggest difference, that we as an audience demand it, and artists respond by being more of themselves, not trying to be an old version of what was considered perfect. 2016: Release of Mad Love album The album came together in the beginning of 2016. Right at the beginning of the year I got into the studio, I pretty much scrapped everything I had done the previous year. I just followed what was making me feel. The album is shaped by romantic love, sexual relationships, self love. Love is the best shit ever. It drives me. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had making music and the support from my fans has been so beautiful. I’ve been overwhelmed actually. After being gone for so long, to have gotten this reception is just very affirming. It’s the beginning of the next chapter for me. Mad Love is out now via Atlantic / Warner
Words: Anna Tehabsim
“There’s been major strides in the way that young women are represented in the industry. There’s no cookie cutter model now”
02—17 MOTH Club Valette St London E8
Friday 10 February
The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com
Thursday 16 February Saturday 4 February
BAD GUYS (FINAL SHOW)
Saturday 4 February
LIKE A MOTORCYCLE
Friday 17 February Wednesday 8 February
Thursday 9 February
Saturday 18 February Friday 10 February
YOUNGHUSBAND Saturday 11 February
TWIN PEAKS (ALL AGES) Saturday 18 February
WILD NOTHING Monday 20 February
TONSTARTSSBANDHT Thursday 23 February
WIFE Friday 24 February
COSMONAUTS Saturday 25 February
Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Saturday 4 February
PSYCHIC MARKERS Tuesday 7 February
PILL Thursday 9 February
OMNI Friday 24 February
NOVELLA Monday 27 February
The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com Friday 3 February
ASUSU Saturday 11 February
RAPHAEL TOP SECRET Monday 13 February
TAXIWARS Wednesday 15 February
BAYONNNE Tuesday 21 February
PICK A PIPER Tuesday 28 February
SAPPHIRE SLOWS Wednesday 22 March
Sunday 12 February
FOX CHAPEL Wednesday 15 February
TABLE SCRAPS Thursday 16 February
FALSE ADVERTISING Saturday 25 February
THE C90S Monday 6 March
BLANK TAPES Thursday 16 March
GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS
The Montague Arms 289 Queen’s Rd, London SE14 2PA montaguearms.co.uk Thursday 9 February
PELUCHÉ Monday 13 February
OMNI Tuesday 21 February
GILLBANKS Thursday 2 March
085 Words: Davy Reed
20 Questions: Tim Darcy
“The first record I fell in love with was In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. That was a big one for young Tim”
What book are you currently reading? I’m reading a book of poetry called The Gift by Hafiz. Would you recommend it? Fuck yeah, it’s amazing. There’s a sense of humour to it, but it’s very beautiful. What was the first record that you fell in love with? In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. That was a big one for young Tim. What’s your favourite computer game? There’s this Robin Hood computer game I used to play. And then like a year and a half ago there was like, tour depression a little bit, so I got it into my head that I’d get into games again, and I found some random site on the internet and I downloaded it.
What’s your signature recipe? I’ve get worse at cooking the more I tour, it’s really sad. I feel like I make a killer omelette, with mushrooms, almonds and cheese... That’s a pretty lame answer. Well, omelettes can easily be gross. There’s an art to getting the texture and consistency right, and not everyone can do it. I appreciate that. What’s the worst hotel that you’ve ever stayed in? I don’t even have to think about it – it was in London, an absolutely ‘shite’ hotel in Hackney. It was super small, really dingy and the beds were practically touching each other. When you turned on the sink, the water just sprayed everywhere in the room. We were railed against this hotel very strongly. Who’s the most famous person you've ever met? I chatted very briefly with St. Vincent at a festival in the food court. What’s the best live show you’ve ever seen? I feel like different shows have had different strengths. I did see Richard Youngs play once at a very tiny venue in Montreal, and he very memorably put down the guitar and did this audience participation thing where he had everyone sing with him. It was really special.
What was the name of your first ever band? Mondegreen. Not a bad name. It’s not terrible. The music was pretty terrible! What did Mondegreen sound like? It was a very serious classic rock effort, there was three of us and we took turns playing the instruments. Which website do you waste the most amount of time on? I get pretty sucked into a Wikipedia spiral, especially when you’re looking up bands and artists that you like. There’s clearly some amazing, beautiful nerd out there who’s presented all this information. Have you ever shoplifted? I don’t think I have, I grew up in a pretty rural area so there wasn’t tons of opportunities to do stuff like that. If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? That’s a good question... Maggie Smith.
of like puke green dress shit with an apron, and you had to wear khaki pants. But then after that, they let you wear your own pants and a red polo shirt. Is there a number one Ought fan? Yeah I think it’s either my mom or our friend Tristan. They’ve chatted at our shows, one time Tristan went up to my mom and said ‘I know you think you’re the number one fan... but I’m the number one fan.” Have you ever had a nickname? When I played baseball in middle school, I was not very good, but I was decent at hitting, so the coach called me ‘Stick’. It was like a term of endearment and it was nice to be recognised for that. But it was also because I was really skinny, so he was kind of a bully as well. What would you like written on your tombstone? “Keep On Keepin’ On” Saturday Night is released 17 February via Jagjaguwar
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I worked for a long time at a grocery store, bagging groceries and pushing carts. It was good that I was working, but I hated that job. Was there a uniform? The uniforms got a little better. At first you had to wear this ill-fitting, kind
The members of literary-minded artpunk band Ought met while studying in Montreal, and their frontman Tim Darcy has been praised for creating poetry with prosaic details that range from condos to cartons of milk. So with Darcy’s debut solo album Saturday Night (which is very good by the way – kind of like an Ought record with more prominent Arthur Russell and Velvet Underground influences) coming out this month, we convinced ourselves that he was fair game for our 20 Questions questionnaire. Omelettes, nicknames and Darcy’s beginnings in classic rock were discussed in the conversation that unfolded.
Illustration: Ed Chambers
Perspective: In Commemoration of Mark Fisher’s Infectious Intellectualism Following the recent news that celebrated music critic and cultural theorist Mark Fisher passed away, Estonian musician Maria Minerva, one of his former students at London’s Goldsmiths University, reflects on his legacy as one of our most essential thinkers They say getting to know your idols can result in disappointment. That was not the case when I studied with Mark Fisher, aka k-punk, one of Britain’s leading cultural theorists and music writers, who took his own life last month. I believe I speak for all his former students by saying that Mark taught us there are hidden meanings in pop culture, and not-so-hidden, real meanings behind our daily gestures of resistance. You don’t need to know Mark to delve into k-punk’s world of ideasin-becoming and theories-in-motion. Mark’s was a mind on the move, 160 bpm, just like jungle (one of his favorite genres). His legacy – books, blog posts, articles, everything that Zero Books and Repeater ever put out – lives on. Mark's seminal Capitalist Realism, published in 2009, is now more relevant than ever. I urge you to read it and give it to at least one person you know.
Capitalist Realism is a remarkable book – in only 80 pages, Mark touches on everything from Hollywood movies, sci-fi, hip-hop and French philosophy to
bureaucracy, post-Fordism, education and mental health. Capitalism, writes Mark, is what remains when beliefs have collapsed and all that is left is the “consumer-spectator, trudging through the ruins and the relics”. The book is funny (“Marxist Supernanny”), self-aware (“To tell people how to lose weight, or how to decorate their house, is acceptable; but to call for any kind of cultural improvement is to be oppressive and elitist”) and depressing. Nevertheless, Mark has hope. The last pages offer a call-to-action to the left to devise a “renewal that is not a return”. We still need to figure that one out. I met Mark in 2010 at Goldsmiths. Him and fellow music writer Kodwo Eshun were the driving forces behind the new and rather experimental MA program in Aural & Visual Cultures. There were the big, packed lectures full of aspirational art history girls and know-it-all guys, whose questions sounded more like answers. Then there were the small seminars we held with Mark and Kodwo, a group of 12 or so, with students from South Korea, Lebanon, Egypt, Serbia, USA, Estonia. There were no answers, ever. And often, no questions. It got awkward. Everyone loved it. I would joke we were like a cult. I recall a two-hour seminar on Bryan Ferry’s accent. Reading up on Mark’s more recent projects after his passing, it appears that he was digging deeper into the themes of Englishness and
class. Back then, the text spoke to me for different reasons. I had just moved to the UK, trying to fake a British accent while realising I don’t have any money or time to attend the £20 Marxist talks at Tate Modern. I felt alienated, broke, overwhelmed. But I didn’t need to explain, because Mark seemed to understand; he had a special bond with every single one of his students. Mark openly wrote about depression in connection to economic insecurity and how he found it difficult to perform the role of a functioning member of society and the intelligentsia. Mark was never complacent; he questioned the academia and why we were all there in the first place. But Mark loved teaching. One of my fondest memories is the day we went protesting against tuition fee increases in front of the Houses of Parliament. We got kettled by the police and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, but Mark’s calm and fearless demeanor put us at ease. He talked the talk, and walked the walk – with us, his students. In a wonderful obituary to Mark, the critic Adam Harper wrote about how Mark and Kodwo came to my first solo show as Maria Minerva at Shacklewell Arms in London. I was terrified as I didn’t want to let my professors down. The show sucked. But the fact that Mark was there, supporting someone like me, meant a lot. At the time, Mark was writing and speaking a lot about
the lack of innovation in popular culture. Something that 20-somethings do not want to hear. In Capitalism Realism, Mark writes how ‘alternative’ and ‘independent’ are now the dominant styles within the mainstream. But more importantly, Mark wrote about neoliberalism taking away the most precious resource needed to make good art – time. Mark wasn’t nostalgic, he wanted to be excited about contemporary culture and never drew a line between ‘high’ and ‘low’. Mark’s writings on music open up worlds. The era of influential critics is over, and as artists, we don’t have to listen to them. But we should, as it just might make our work a tad ‘better’. “What if you held a protest and everyone came?” asks Capitalist Realism. I am writing these lines after the biggest protest in US history – the Women’s March following Donald Trump’s inauguration. Everybody came, and I would love to hear Mark’s take on things. I am so sad he had to feel this sad. As critics, writers, artists, curators and social justice advocates we will not forget k-punk. As friends, we will not forget Mark. Thank you for sharing your ideas with the world. Rest in peace, Mark Fisher. Mark Fisher’s latest book The Weird and The Eeerie is published by Repeater
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Barcelona 15.16.17 June
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