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Highlights Highlights Highlights Highlights Highlights
Exhibitions Exhibitions Exhibitions Exhibitions Exhibitions
Looks Looks 2222 Apr Apr 2015 2015 – 21 – 21 JunJun 2015 2015 Looks Lower Lower and and Upper Upper Gallery Gallery Looks Looks 22 Apr 2015 – 21 Jun 2015 2222 22 Apr Apr 2015 2015 –– 21 – 21 21 Jun Jun 2015 2015 Apr 2015 Jun 2015 Lower and Upper Gallery Lower Lower and and Upper Upper Gallery Gallery FB55 FB55 Lower and Upper Gallery 2424 Mar Mar 2015 2015 – 17 – 17 May May 2015 2015 FB55 FB55 Fox Fox Reading Reading Room Room 24 Mar 2015 – 17 May 2015 2424 Mar Mar 2015 2015 – 17 – 17 May May 2015 2015 Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio in the 1980s Fox Reading Room Fox Fox Reading Reading Room Room From Fromher herwooden wooden sleep... sleep... Ydessa Ydessa Hendeles Hendeles 26 May 2015 – 19 Jul 2015 2525 Mar Mar 2015 2015 – 17 – 17 May May 2015 2015 Fox sleep... Reading Room From her wooden Ydessa Hendeles From her wooden ICA sleep... ICA Theatre TheatreYdessa Hendeles Mar 2015 – May 2015 2525 25 Mar Mar 2015 2015 – 17 – 17 17 May May 2015 2015 ICA Theatre ICA ICA Theatre Theatre
Film Shout ShoutOut! Out!UK UKPirate PirateRadio Radioininthe the 1980s 1980s 2626 May May 2015 2015 – 19 – 19 JulJul 2015 2015 Stanley Picker Lectures: THE1980s ANCHORAGE + Q&A with director NTS Parallel Visions #6: felicita Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio inthe the Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio in 1980s Fox Fox Reading Reading Room Room Gavin Turk C.W. Winter and Anders Edström presents WISH Events
May 2015 – 2015 2626 26 May 2015 2015 – 19 – 19 19 JulJul Jul 2015 2015 Wed 3 May Jun, 6pm Sun 7 Jun, 4.15pm Thu 4 Jun, 8pm Film Film Events Events Fox Reading Room Fox Fox Reading Reading Room Room A one-night takeover of the ICA Theatre Doug Ashford The Look of Silence + Q&A with and featuring Kero Kero Bonito, Cobain: Cobain: Montage Montage of of Heck, Heck, Force Force Stanley Stanley Picker Picker Lectures: Lectures: Fear Fear ofBar of Missing Missing Out Out Film Events Film Events Tue 16 Jun, 12pm director Oppenheimer hosted and Lil Data. Majeure, Majeure, 8 Joshua 1/2, 8 1/2, Heaven Heaven Adores Adores You, You, Rose Rose Wylie Wylie 29Lipgloss 29 May May - 31 -Twins 31 May May 2015 2015
by filmmaker Adam Curtis Phoenix, Phoenix, Futuro Futuro Beach, Stray Stray Dogs, Dogs, The The Tue Tue 12Picker 12 May, May, 6pm 6pm A three-day A three-day event, event, bringing bringing together together Cobain: Montage of Heck, Force Stanley Picker Lectures: Fear Missing Out Cobain: Cobain: Montage Montage ofBeach, of Heck, Heck, Force Force Stanley Stanley Picker Lectures: Lectures: Fear Fear of of of Missing Missing Out Out Artists’ Film Club: Sat 12and 8.20pm Now: Sleaford Mods Tribe Tribe and A1/2, A1/2, Girl Walks Walks Home Home Alone Alone at at leading leading artists artists and and social social Majeure, 8 Heaven Adores You, Rose Wylie 29 May --theorists, 31 May 2015 Majeure, Majeure, 8Jun, 8Girl 1/2, Heaven Heaven Adores Adores You, You, Rose Rose Wylie Wylie 29Culture 29 May May -theorists, 31 31 May May 2015 2015 Fri 5 Jun, 1pm Gianfranco Baruchello + Q&A Night...All Night...All screening screening throughout throughout May May Sophie Sophie von von Hellermann Hellermann thinkers thinkers to to discuss discuss postdigital postdigital anxieties anxieties Tue Phoenix, Futuro Beach, Stray Dogs, The Tue May, 6pm A event, bringing together Phoenix, Phoenix, Futuro Futuro Beach, Beach, Stray Stray Dogs, Dogs, The The Tue 1212 12 May, May, 6pm 6pm A three-day A three-day three-day event, event, bringing bringing together together Sun 7 Jun, 12pm ICA Cinematheque: Eye on I Post-punk/hip hop duo Sleaford Mods Tue Tue 19 19 May, May, 6pm 6pm and and the the social social condition. condition. Tribe and A Girl Walks Home Alone at leading theorists, artists and social Tribe Tribe and and A Girl A Girl Walks Walks Home Home Alone Alone at at leading leading theorists, theorists, artists artists and and social social 5 May 16 Jun 2015 discuss their work with Derek Walmsley. ICA ICA Cinematheque: Cinematheque: Eye Eye on on I I Night...All screening throughout May Sophie von Hellermann thinkers to discuss postdigital anxieties Night...All Night...All screening screening throughout throughout May May Sophie vonvon Hellermann Hellermann thinkers thinkers to to discuss discuss postdigital postdigital anxieties anxieties Sophie Screenings which explore the production Breaking Joints Part 2: 5 May 5 May 16 16 Jun Jun 2015 2015 Artists’ Artists’ Film Film Club: Club: Shifting Shifting Visions: Visions: Collections, Collections, Memories Memories Tue 19 May, 6pm and the social condition. TueTue 1919 May, May, 6pm 6pm and and thethe social social condition. condition. and performance of identity inIa modern era Wed 10Joints Jun, 6.45pm Symposium: Screenings which which explore explore the production Breaking Joints Part Part 1 &1 2: & 2: and and Archives Archives Tomorrow Today: Design, Breaking ICA Cinematheque: Eye on ICAScreenings ICA Cinematheque: Cinematheque: Eye Eye onthe on I production I dominated by mass digital culture. andand performance performance of2015 identity of identity in ainmodern a modern eraera Fiction and Social Responsibility Wed Wed 13 13 May, May, 6.45pm 6.45pm Wed Wed 13 13 May, May, 6.30pm 6.30pm 5 May 16 Jun Artists’ Film Club: Shifting Visions: Collections, Memories 5 May 5 May - 16 - 16 Jun Jun 2015 2015451 (1966) on 2 Jun Artists’ Film Film Club: Club: Shifting Shifting Visions: Visions: Collections, Collections, Memories Memories Artists’ Screening Fahrenheit dominated dominated by by mass mass digital digital culture. culture. Season Season We Can’t Be There. Thu 11 Jun, 11.15am Screenings which explore the production Wed Wed 10 10 Jun, Jun, 6.45pm 6.45pm Curator Curator Karen Karen Alexander Alexander chairs chairs a a Breaking Joints Part & and Archives Screenings Screenings which which explore explore the16 the production production Breaking Breaking Joints Joints Part Part 1 Emergency &1 1 2: & 2: 2: and and Archives Archives and Liquid Sky (1982) on Jun. opens opens with with Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Godard’s Godard’s Alphaville Alphaville on on and performance of identity in a Provisions For (Un)Anticipated panel panel discussion discussion in response in response to to Ydessa Ydessa Wed 13 May, 6.45pm Wed 13 May, 6.30pm andand performance performance of identity of identity in ainmodern a modern modern eraera era Wed Wed 1313 May, May, 6.45pm 6.45pm Wed Wed 1313 May, May, 6.30pm 6.30pm Tue Tue 5 May 5 May 2015. 2015. dominated by mass digital culture. Season Culture Now: Rebel Architecture Futures: Iván Argote + panel Charles Charles Atlas Atlas + Q&A + Q&A Hendeles’ Hendeles’ ICA ICA exhibition. exhibition. Wed 10 Jun, 6.45pm Curator Karen Alexander chairs a dominated dominated by by mass mass digital digital culture. culture. Season Season Wed Wed 1010 Jun, Jun, 6.45pm 6.45pm Curator Curator Karen Karen Alexander Alexander chairs chairs a a Open City Documentary Festival opens with Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville discussion Fri 12 Jun, 1pm opens opens with with Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Godard’s Godard’s Alphaville Alphaville on on on Sat Sat 23 23 May, May, 1pm 1pm panel discussion in response to Ydessa panel panel discussion discussion in response in response to to Ydessa Ydessa 17 Jun – 21 Jun 2015 NTS NTS & ICA & ICA present: present: Industrial Industrial Tue 5 May 2015. TueTue 5 May 5 May 2015. 2015. Wed 17 Jun,+8pm A discussion in response to Al Jazeera’s Charles Room&Book Room&Book Art Art Book Book Fair Fair Charles Atlas + Hendeles’ exhibition. Charles Atlas Atlas Q&A + Q&A Q&A Hendeles’ Hendeles’ ICAICA ICA exhibition. exhibition. Soundtrack Soundtrack For For The The Urban Urban Decay Decay series Rebel Architecture. Looks: Looks: Trace Trace Bodies Bodies 22documentary 22 - 24 - 24 May May 2015 2015 Sat 23 May, 1pm Sat Sat 23 23 May, May, 1pm 1pm A Nos Amours: Chantal Akerman 21: 17 17 May 2015 - 21 - 21 May May 2015 2015 NTS & ICA present: Industrial NTS NTS &May ICA &2015 ICA present: present: Industrial Industrial Wu16 Tsang’s WILDNESS SatSat 16 May, May, 7.30pm 7.30pm For For its its second second year year Room&Book Room&Book Room&Book Art Book Fair Room&Book Room&Book Art Art Book Book Fair Fair willwill De l’autreFor côté Soundtrack For The Urban Decay Soundtrack Soundtrack For The The Urban Urban Decay Decay SatTrace 20 Jun, 1pm return return to the the Nash Nash &Now Brandon & Brandon Rooms. Rooms. Looks: Looks: Trace Bodies 22 --to24 May 2015 Looks: Trace Bodies Bodies 22Technofeminism 22 - 24 24 May May 2015 2015 Thu 18 Jun, 7pm ICA ICA and and BRITDOC BRITDOC presents presents 17 May 2015 21 May 2015 May May 2015 2015 - 21 - 21 May May 2015 2015 17second Jun,year 6.30pm Useful Useful and/or and/or Useless: Useless: Artists, Artists, what what is is 1717 May, 7.30pm For year Room&Book SatSat Sat 1616 16 May, May, 7.30pm 7.30pm ForWed For its its its second second year Room&Book Room&Book willwill will 9/11 9/11 Trilogy Trilogy and and selected selected shorts shorts by by Culture Now: Bau Magazine and its Panel by Helen your value? value? Post-Craft: Post-Craft: Towards Towards New Economies Economies return to Nash & Brandon Rooms. return return to discussion to thethe the Nash Nash &chaired Brandon & New Brandon Rooms. Rooms. your Catalan Avant-Garde: Tots volem el Laura Laura Poitras Poitras ICA and BRITDOC presents ICA and and BRITDOC BRITDOC presents presents Context revisiting the contributions of Wed Wed 20and/or 20 May, May, 6.30pm 6.30pm of Hester of Making Making Useful and/or Useless: Artists, what Useful Useful and/or Useless: Useless: Artists, Artists, what what is is is ICA millor per a ella (We all what’s 27 27 May May -Trilogy 30 - 30 May May 2015 2015 want 9/11 and selected shorts 9/11 9/11 Trilogy Trilogy and and selected selected shorts shorts by by by Fri 19value? Jun, 1pm technofeminism, light ofEconomies recent Wed Wed 6 May, 6 May, 1pm 1pm inNew your Post-Craft: Towards New your your value? value? Post-Craft: Post-Craft: Towards Towards New Economies Economies best for her) In association In association to to Fear Fear of of Missing Missing Out Out Laura Poitras Laura Laura Poitras Poitras An investigation into the Austrian of leftist critical thinking. TEXT2SPEECH: TEXT2SPEECH: Room&Book Room&Book Wed 20 May, 6.30pm of Making Wed Wed 20 20 May, May, 6.30pm 6.30pm of developments of Making Making Fri 26 8.50pm 27 May -- 30 May 2015 2727 May May - Jun, 30 30 May May 2015 2015 Bau ahead of ICA Reading Frimagazine Fri 2222 May, May, 3pm 3pm FB55: FB55: with with Bacon Bacon Wed 6 May, 1pm Wed Wed 6 Wrestling May, 6 Wrestling May, 1pm 1pm Mar Coll’s second feature confirms her A Nos A Nos Amours: Amours: Chantal Chantal Akerman 20: 20: In association to Fear of Missing Out In association In association to to Fear Fear of Akerman of Missing Missing Out Out Looks Live Room exhibition Everything is Thu Thu 1414 May, May, 6.30pm 6.30pm TEXT2SPEECH: Room&Book TEXT2SPEECH: TEXT2SPEECH: Room&Book Room&Book to dissect inner workings of the La ability La captive captive Fri 19 Jun, 6.30pm Bau Magazine from the Looks: Looks: Symposium: Symposium: (Dis) (Dis) identifications identifications A curated A curated evening evening ofwith of screenings screenings and Fri May, 3pm FB55: Wrestling Bacon FriArchitecture: Fri 2222 22 May, May, 3pm 3pm FB55: FB55: Wrestling Wrestling with with Bacon Bacon and Catalan bourgeois. Thu 28 May, May, 7pm 7pm A Nos Amours: Chantal Akerman A Nos A 28 Nos Amours: Amours: Chantal Chantal Akerman Akerman 20:20: 20: Performances by UK and international Wed 60s 70s which opens on 29 July. Thu Wed 27and 27 May, May, 11.15am 11.15am talks. talks. Thu May, 6.30pm Thu Thu 1414 14 May, May, 6.30pm 6.30pm La captive captive captive writers, poets and Looks: Symposium: (Dis) identifications A evening of screenings and Looks: Looks: Symposium: Symposium: (Dis) (Dis) identifications identifications La La A curated A curated curated evening evening of artists. of screenings screenings and and Thu May, 7pm Thu Thu 2828 28 May, May, 7pm 7pm Wed 27 May, 11.15am talks. Wed Wed 27of 27 May, 11.15am 11.15am talks. talks. Institute Institute Contemporary ofMay, Contemporary ArtsArts TheThe MallMall London London SW1Y SW1Y 5AH 5AH Institute of Contemporary Arts 020020 7930 7930 3647, 3647, www.ica.org.uk www.ica.org.uk The Mall London SW1YArts 5AH Institute of Contemporary Arts Institute Institute of Contemporary of Contemporary Arts 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk The Mall London SW1Y 5AH TheThe MallMall London London SW1Y SW1Y 5AH 5AH 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk 020020 020 7930 7930 3647, 3647, www.ica.org.uk www.ica.org.uk
The The ICA is ICA a registered is a registered charity charity no. 236848 no. 236848 The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848 The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848 The The ICA is ICA a registered is a registered charity charity no. 236848 no. 236848
Contents Features 24
SLEAFORD MODS The British working class has been subjected to five more years of inequality, doomed to have their voice muffled into silence. Two men from Nottingham are focused on rediscovering that voice. By Geraint Davies
NOZINJA Pulse of a Nation: the Shangaan electro figurehead speaks to Duncan Harrison about taking his local sound to the global stage
SHARON VAN ETTEN How the New York songwriter found therapeutic power in her voice. By Thomas Frost
PRURIENT Dominick Fernow's latest release as Prurient, he tells Tom Watson, sees him nihilistically embrace the pointlessness of making a record
BULLY The Nashville band’s frontwoman Alicia Bognanno tells Jon Clark why it’s better to take matters into your own hands
BLANCK MASS Following the release of his excellent new album, Amelia Philips calls up Ben Power to discuss the rise of artificial intelligence, the cruelty of God and being shit at dancing
SAUNA YOUTH With an impressive list of extra curricular activities, the London-via-Brighton band have just about managed to put together a new album. James F. Thompson finds out how they juggle it all
Anna Tehabsim speaks to Hun Choi about the blissful mindset with which he creates his laid-back, hypnotic beats
RECOMMENDED Our guide to what’s coming up in your area
NEW MUSIC From the periphery
TURNING POINTS: TY DOLLA $IGN The dirty-minded crooner has sun-kissed LA music in his blood. By Davy Reed
ALEX FROST & JIM GEDDES
EDITORIAL All aboard the gravy train
Ren Schofield has a few objections to raise about the way his intense techno has been categorised. Xavier Boucherat hears him out
Cassandra Kirk visits the London-based designer’s studio and mines the political and artistic process behind her vibrant, feminine vision 46
Augustin Macellari examines two London exhibitions from two very different artists, who share some intriguingly relevant threads 56
Sleaford Mods shot exclusively for Crack by Benjamin Mallek Bristol: May 2015
AESTHETIC: KALI UCHIS We created a luxurious, 70s-themed parallel universe to shoot the fast-rising Columbian star
REVIEWS Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in film and music
DIGRESSIONS Baines’ World, Sold Out! with Billy Corgan, the crossword and advice from Denzil Schnifferman
20 QUESTIONS: DJ KOZE Davy Reed called up the eccentric Hamburg genius to ask him who would be his dream surrogate grandparent
PERSPECTIVE The Quietus founder and respected journalist John Doran contributes a column titled I Hate Writing… I Wish It Would Just Fuck Off
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
S AT 2 6 T H S E PT V I L L E P A R K , B R I S TO T S A E L WELCOME TO
ROOTS MANUVA LIVE MIKE SKINNER (DJ) KOSHEEN LIVE MJ COLE STANTON WARRIORS JERU THE DAMAJA LIVE KOAN SOUND SUBMOTION ORCHESTRA LIVE THE BEATNUTS LIVE JEFF MILLS DERRICK MAY MIDLAND PAUL WOOLFORD LEON VYNEHALL FUNKINEVEN RYAN ELLIOTT SAN PROPER JEREMY UNDERGROUND MARQUIS HAWKES BILL BREWSTER ALFRESCO DISCO DJS SHAPES DJS DAVID RODIGAN FOREIGN BEGGARS LIVE DUB PHIZIX & STRATEGY BANDULU SHOWCASE KAHN & NEEK HI5GHOST BOOFY FLOWDAN SAM BINGA FT. REDDERS DURKLE DISCO FT. LAMONT KOAST TS2W JAY DROP FIREMAN SAM SPECIAL GUEST: KURUPT FM CALYX & TEEBEE HAZARD ED RUSH BREAK SPECTRASOUL LENZMAN BENNY PAGE ED SOLO RANDALL FRE4KNC DESPICABLE YOUTH SKIBADEE SP:MC GQ LX ONE SHABBA D REMIDY DIGITAL MYSTIKZ FT. SGT POKES YOUNGSTA SUKH KNIGHT COMMODO CHANNEL ONE ABA SHANTI-I O.B.F SOUND TOKYO HIFI DUTTY GIRL REGGAE ROAST A RTI STS B I L L E D BY STA GE S G E N ERAL R EL EAS E TI C KETS Â£30 - W W W.TO KYOWO RLD.O RG
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SHOW ART . DESIGN . FILM . JOURNALISM
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18:00 â€“ 21:00
T O : 11 . 0 6 . 1 5
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— Cr R1 Ja ai Th mi g R e e J ic h Re o a — ve ne rds Se R2 ng s Gi cr e e Ja le s t s (L u m iv M S n e) e Pa ike s mi da t P z tri H ri h e ce uc es — Sc kab tle 10 R3 ot y y Th Ye t e a D To eat Rev rs O FB ni h O en f K Ju D n T ge ub lia he (D ic l n Ba J Se e lc t) on y
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— Cr R1 To ai De bi g R La w Ne ic h m alt um ar d ac a — & an s h R n C e Sh Dr ulp 2 an Ad oo rit no Ba ria g n (L m tiq iv bo u e) ok e
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Executive Editors Thomas Frost email@example.com Jake Applebee firstname.lastname@example.org Editor Geraint Davies email@example.com Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Davy Reed Junior Editor Anna Tehabsim Online Editor Billy Black Junior Online Editor Sammy Jones Editorial Assistant Duncan Harrison Creative Director Jake Applebee Art Direction & Design Alfie Allen Design Graeme Bateman Junior Designer Yasseen Faik Marketing / Events Assistant Lucy Harding Staff Writer Tom Watson Film Editor Tim Oxley Smith Art Editor Augustin Macellari Fashion Charlotte James, Jess Taylor, Shiori Takahashi, Susan Daniel Contributors Josh Baines, Denzil Schniffermann, Xavier Boucherat, Tom Watson, Amelia Philips, Thomas Howells, Jon Clark, Angus Harrison, Cassandra Kirk, James F. Thompson, Robert Bates, Henry Johns, Francis Blagburn, Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black, Jason Hunter, Farah Hayes, Ayesha Linton-Whittle, Jack Bolter, Lewis Lloyd, John Doran, Jill Blackmore Evans, Aine Devaney Photography Benjamin Mallek, Charlotte Rutherford, Teddy Fitzhugh, Chloé Rosolek, Ross Trevail, Kate Bones, Valerie Martino, Bex Day, James Burgess, Valerie Martino, Maria Jose, Viva De La Chesnais Govea, Júlia Soler, Bernd Borchardt Illustrations James Wilson, James Burgess Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack: email@example.com CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd © All rights reserved. All material in Crack magazine may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of Crack Industries Ltd. Crack Magazine and its contributors cannot accept any liability for reader discontent arising from the editorial features. Crack Magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any article or material supplied for publication or to edit this material prior to publishing. Crack magazine cannot be held responsible for loss or damage to supplied materials. The opinions expressed or recommendations given in the magazine are the views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of Crack Industries Ltd. We accept no liability for any misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the contents of these pages.
CRACK WAS CREATED USING Omar Souleyman Bahdeni Nami (Legowelt Remix) Julio Bashmore Umuntu Container Peripheral Drinks Hermits On Holiday Pega Nostro Braço de Ferro Rework Moon Outboxx Under The Lights JME ft. Giggs Man Don’t Care Kanye West ft. Pusha T Runaway Medium, Medium Hungry, So Angry
Crack’s got wind of a quiet epidemic. We’d like to make this entirely clear: Crack is a free magazine. If you see it somewhere, pick up and roll it up and walk away with it. Unless it’s someone else’s copy and they’re already reading it, that would be rude. But you probably know that. We don’t have to outline the very basics of social etiquette to you. But yeah, we’ve taken the word ‘Free’ off the front of the magazine because we’d got to the point where we thought it was implied by context. But some crafty people have seen this ambiguity as a business proposition. People can be so crafty. We’re getting reports from across our key cities of Crack being flogged on the streets. We’re getting emails from London, Berlin, Manchester, Bristol, telling us that stacks are being sold one at a time, or even wholesale. We’re not really sure what to make of it. It’s bloody Cameron’s Britain, innit. Well, and Merkel’s Germany, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. It’s been going for anywhere between 50p and £4 – four fucking pounds! That’s actually quite flattering. We sympathise with the homeless people who’ve seen a chance to make a few quid, that’s fine. We’re more than happy to let it slide. Might even buy one myself. But the STUDENTS who’ve been spotted selling it in Manchester to earn some extra money for dirt bar and Strongbow, that’s just taking the piss. Entrepreneurial spirit and all that, fair play. But come on. Couple it with the cheeky bastard we spoke about in last month’s editorial, who’d invented a job for himself and got in touch with festivals asking for press passes, and it’s getting out of hand. All aboard the Crack gravy train. But anyway, we thought it best to make it clear. Crack is a free magazine. Pay for it if you want, but don’t think you have to. Either way – thanks for reading.
Geraint Davies, Editor
Stellar OM Source Sudden Girlpool Dear Nora Kali Uchis Speed Fat Trel I Need You ft. Fetty Wap Gunplay WuzHaninDoe ft. YG Young Moose Fucked Up KeithCharlesSPACEBAR All My Luv ft. Abra So Stressed Little TV Christopher Owens Selfish Feelings SHEER MAG Travelin On RAPHI GOTTESMAN Not To See Roses BULLY Reason PRESENTE Hierarchy The BANGLES Walk Like An Egyptian YOUNGER LOVERS Can I Come Over? STORMZY Shut Up KOeHLER Sacred Realm SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS Stranded In Your Love BILL NELSON When Your Dream Of Perfect Beauty Comes True
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
Respect Lauren Barley Nick Griffiths Björk Claire Ruddock Xavier Boucherat
O ur g uid e t o w ha t 's g o ing o n in y o ur cit y
PHARMAKON Tufnell Park Dome 4 June
THE GARDEN FESTIVAL DJ Harvey, Ben UFO, Gerd Janson, Craig Richards, Seth Troxler The Garden Tisno 1 - 9 July Sold Out
BL AWAN Village Underground 3 July
HOLLY HERNDON XOYO 10 June
Nick Colgan was exporting Balearic principles to Croatia long before its picturesque beaches filled with partygoers. As the mind behind Garden, an event celebrated as much for its laid back, intimate atmosphere as its varied booking policy, it was a decade ago that Colgan pioneered the idea of the Croatian dance music festival. As it inches towards its last ever instalment this summer, a loyal crowd of devotees and DJs has been summoned to bid farewell to the much-loved event. And what a send-off it will be, with likes of Ben UFO, Seth Troxler, Joy Orbison, Midland, Craig Richards, Optimo and Gerd Janson playing across four stages, 20 boat parties and a one-off 10-hour party at Barbarella’s, while the very last show sees DJ Harvey playing all night long as they graciously hand over to Electric Elephant. So long, Garden, you’ll be sorely missed.
SLE AFORD MODS Koko 5 June
SHINY DARKLY The Waiting Room 9 June
JENNY HVAL Cafe OTO 14 June £8 + BF “Think big, girl, like a king, think kingsize,“ utter the first words of Jenny Hval’s Apocalypse, girl. The Norwegian artist’s fifth solo record is a lucid experience. Sitting somewhere between hallucination and reality, it brings universal ideas into focus with razor sharp wit, spiralling from childhood dreams to post-feminism via Armageddon. It’s also driven by a nagging frustration – as she explained in our last issue, Hval is “sick of the images that dictate how you are supposed to be as an alternative artist.” We’d say she overcomes these notions with poise, wildly twisting pop-informed ideas around a narrative of introspection and mass destruction. Witness Hval navigate this axis of clarity at OTO this month.
DU BLONDE 100 Club 4 June £11 + BF Following the disastrous recording sessions of a difficult second album in LA and a nervous breakdown in a Zurich hotel room, the Newcastle-born artist formerly known as Beth Jeans Houghton decided it was it time to refresh herself, both musically and psychologically. After parting ways with her former band the Hooves of Destiny and shedding her freak-folk skin, Houghton has re-emerged as the rockier, weirder and more rebellious Du Blonde. Expect a wild show.
ØYA FESTIVAL Belle & Sebastian, Mastodon, Tyler, The Creator Oslo, Norway 11 - 15 August Weekend Pass £225 / One Day Pass £77
FIELD DAY Patti Smith, Caribou, Run The Jewels, FKA twigs Victoria Park, London 6 + 7 June Friday £43.50 / Saturday: £59.50 / Weekend £93 You know the score with Field Day by now, so let’s just recap. Here is some of the music you can see over two days, honestly: universally agreed goddess FKA twigs headlining the Crack Stage; rap’s heaviest of heavy-hitters Run The Jewels; Caribou’s loved-up antics; Patti Smith literally playing one of the best albums ever all the way through; reformed shoegaze champions Ride; indie clown prince Mac DeMarco; post-internet US grime/rap squad Future Brown; a live set from the mighty Hudson Mohawke; legendary hip-hop desk icon Madlib; a master/apprentice arrangement from Daniel Avery b2b Andrew Weatherall; new material from jet black post-punk heroes Savages; Berghain big-wigs Klock b2b Dettmann; PC Music prize plum A.G. Cook; last month’s Crack cover star Tei Shi … these people are literally all playing, and there’s literally loads more. It’s mental. You’re mental if you don’t come. Peace out.
Øya always kill it with their line-ups, but this year they’ve impressed even by their own high standards. Taking place at the manageably sized Tøyenpark site that’s pretty much in the centre of Oslo (the must-see Edvard Munch museum is a stone’s throw away), the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Beck, Mastodon, Future Islands, Holly Herndon, Flying Lotus, Kathleen Hanna’s band The Julie Ruin, Run The Jewels, Crack favourite Vince Staples and eccentric singer-rapper iLoveMakonnen will play across the festival’s five days. If you’re tempted by this one, then we also recommend that you purchase a tin of gum-burning snus tobacco and visit Oslo’s anarcho-punk venue Blitz while you’re there.
SUN R A ARKESTR A Cafe OTO 8 - 10 June
ARCA + JESSE K ANDA (LIVE) St. John at Hackney 12 June
LITURGY Electrowerks 11 June
MR . TIES - ALL NIGHT LONG Dance Tunnel 13 June
T YONDAI BR A XTON XOYO 16 June
PILE The Lexington 11 June
HUNEE Dance Tunnel 19 June £10
PENDER STREET STEPPERS Corsica Studios 15 June
Hunee’s debut album Hunch Music is due in late June. Arriving after a four-year production break, the Amsterdam-via-LA-via-Berlin DJ has spent the time wisely, gathering a glorious reputation for his sets spanning 70s disco, shimmering house and deep techno, all mixed with a giddy smile. Hunee’s appearance at Thunder, the London night championing deeply underground house music, is a rare opportunity to see one of dance music’s warmest characters in the intimate, 200 capacity environs of Dance Tunnel.
WILDERNESS Björk, George Clinton, Nils Frahm Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire 6 - 9 August Tickets from £165 + BF OPTIMO B2B IVAN SMAGGHE Patterns, Brighton 27 June £10
DAN DE ACON Oval Space 16 June
Brighton’s seafront club Audio has relaunched as Patterns. Fitted with a banging soundsystem and a curatorial refresh to boot, the club now opens its doors every day of the week, having seen the likes of Tama Sumo and DVS1 christen the revamped venue. Presenting all shades of forward-thinking house, techno, disco and oddities, this month’s Vanishing Point sees cult Glaswegian party starters Optimo, known for their legendary Sunday parties at Sub Club, join forces with Parisian electro kingpin Ivan Smagghe for five hours of unbridled tag team joy.
If you like your festivals bijou and your music blissful then Wilderness might just be the place for you. With a line-up that includes the likes of Björk, Róisín Murphy and George Clinton you’ll never be more than five minutes from a soulful vibe, and there’s also a world class selection of festival food, kids areas and a host of other extracurricular activities to keep you entertained. So if Björk doesn’t float your boat (shame on you) or Clinton’s just flat out too funky, you can always pop down to the food tent for some of the good stuff courtesy of your boy Raymond Blanc and pals. Festivals don’t have to leave you a battered, regretful husk, y’know.
BLUR Hyde Park 20 June
DJ QU Dance Tunnel 20 June
CONVERSE WORLDWIDE Worldwide 24 June
Ever wanted to record at Abbey Road? How about Berlin’s famous Hansa Tonstudio? Know how to write a great song? Converse are looking for you. The brand new Converse Rubber Tracks program is set up to find aspiring musicians looking for a chance to lay down tracks in some of the most iconic recording studios in the world. Converse’s scope is global and with studios such as LA’s Sunset Sound and Jamaica’s Tuff Gong signing up it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Registration is open until 24 June and you just head over to converse-Music.com/worldwide to get your application in.
HESSLE AUDIO fabric 3 July
NATALIE PR ASS Islington Assembly Hall 24 June
GODSPEED YOU! BL ACK EMPEROR Roundhouse 30 June
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
STOP MAKING SENSE Levon Vincent, DJ Koze, Martyn The Garden Tisno 16 - 19 July Tickets £80 / Accommodation from £12 per night Anyone who’s been to The Garden Tisno will tell you what’s up; it’s basically the most idyllic place you’ve ever seen not including stuff you’ve seen on the telly. Which is why people flock there year after year for crystalline waters and bleary beaches and toasty sunshine – oh, and beats. Plenty of beats. This year’s SMS delivers, as per usual, with the cream of onpoint and credible dance music, namely the unerringly awesome Levon Vincent, leftfield house wonksman DJ Koze and, fresh from churning out one of this year’s outstanding electronic albums Folk, Ostgut Ton’s cuddliest, Nick Höppner.
WA X AHATCHEE Electric Ballroom 10 June £13 + BF Katie Crutchfield – the beguiling figure behind Waxahatchee – has been one of the most divisive artists in the history of Crack. Her confident, trembling songs and bluntly introspective lyrics have abetted many a moment of serious self-examination amongst exactly half the members of our full-time staff. The other half live on a diet of steak and pingers, listen exclusively to Perc and have pretty much forgotten what emoting feels like.
DR AKE Finsbury Park 3 July
CHEST They released a promising EP back in 2012 and we’ve heard nothing since. Finnish sludge posse CHEST remained a mystery. Until now. They’re back with a new mini-album, and fortunately they’ve released a whopping 50 copies of it on that utterly useful format: cassette. CHEST play sludgy doom, swamped in stoner metal with an underlying vein of pure evil. If you don’t happen to own a tape player, then you can just listen to their new LP on the internet. We suggest you do, because it’s the scariest record we’ve heard in ages.
O The Epitome Of True Evil 1 Sleep / Melvins
INSTITUTE Texan punk bands are almost always a safe bet. We’ve been wooed by so many in the past it’s getting hard to keep count. Institute are no exception. The band can count members of Glue, Wiccans and Back to Back amongst their ranks. They’ve come from good stock and they’re making great music. Following a string of d-beat inspired 7”s, their debut LP is coming out on Brooklyn’s evercredible Sacred Bones. It kicks through the dust to carve out a whirlwind of straight-forward punk underpinned by a healthy Southern drawl. We are officially in.
NAO The blogs have been saying very nice things about this East London singer, and rightly so. Nao’s 2014 debut EP So Good was spearheaded by an infectious title track that was produced by A.K. Paul – the brother of the enigmatic Jai Paul. As it happens, there’s some debate about whether or not Jai and A.K. are the uncredited production team behind Nao’s excellent new EP February 15. Apple Cherry recalls – and we wouldn’t make this comparison if it didn’t feel so accurate – FKA twigs, with lyrics of lust emphasised by a lover’s detachment and a brooding beat that uses skittery percussion and negative space. But generally, Nao deals in a more extroverted kind of sass, with her powerful voice riding over a purring, clubready bassline on Inhale Exhale and the compact slap bass notes, finger clicks and Latin-flavoured guitar riffs of Golden. Expect to see Nao’s name everywhere in the forthcoming months. O Inhale Exhale 1 Tweet / Yukimi Nagano : @thisisnao
Existing outside the confines of strict dancefloor sounds, Gramrcy’s killer debut release comes out on Berceuse Heroique sublabel Ancient Monarchy this month. The label is dedicated to ‘raw UK shit’ – refracting the golden-age jungle and DnB sounds of Reinforced and Metalheadz through a fresh attitude, looking for a way forward by remixing the past. Gramrcy’s sound, which can be introspective, dark, and uncertain at times, finds full on slaughter mode on its lead track. Ruffian is an apocalyptic peak time banger, sweaty hardcore juggling cartoonish samples with a dubwise techno swagger. Featuring a submerged re-synth from Hessle Audio-endorsed producer Bruce and a jittering remix of the B-side from Hodge, it revels in a reluctance to take itself too seriously. “I’m good friends with Tessela, and he gave me the breakbeat that ended up on Ruffian,” Gramrcy explains. “Then I found a strange CDbased magazine made by British expats living in Singapore at my Nan’s house and that’s where most of the other sounds came from.” Much like his peers Tessela, Hodge and Bruce, the music of Gramrcy breaks free of stylistic shackles, straddling a gloriously indefinable line. “When people ask I’ve defaulted to saying ‘weird techno’, but I’m not too sure what I mean by that,” he admits. “I just make this stuff because I don’t know how else to get these ideas out.” Not much is known about the newcomer – a quick search will reveal his music has been proliferating online since early last year via various radio rips as well as his affiliation with Housework, the Bristol clubnight co-run by Shanti Celeste and Golesworthy that brought Anthony Naples, Kassem Mosse, John Swing and Jane Fitz down to the city’s Motorcycle Showrooms venue (RIP). And though he’s yet to define his style, if you were to seek out one sonic element that binds it together, it’s the juxtaposition of the alien and the familiar. “I made Bargain Jam after listening to Vessel’s first album and wanting to make something slow and mushy and sludgy," he reveals. "I listen back to it and honestly have no idea what it’s made of.” With an EP for Charles Drakeford’s (he of Boiler Room fame) label FTD out later this year, things are just getting started for Gramrcy. It certainly looks promising; after all, he’s emerged from a pool of unswervingly determined producers. “It really gives you a kick to get your shit together and make tracks. I don’t send my music out to many people, but having those few whose opinion you value makes all the difference.”
O Ruffian 1 Shed / Hodge facebook.com/gramrcy
SO STRESSED The first band to be signed to Perfect Pussy singer Meredith Graves’ label Honor Press and fuck, they’re good. It took over two years for the Sacramento trio to make their second album The Unlawful Trade of GrecoRoman Art, and you can hear why. The band’s influences are rooted in improvisational noise, post-hardcore and technically proficient, mathy Sacramento bands like Hella and Tera Melos. So while they channel the feeling of fist-clenched fury, So Stressed’s form of punk music feels more like a skillfully executed obliteration rather than straight up a sock in the jaw. It’s a ferocious formula, and it’s one hell of way to launch a label.
Cate Le Bon moved from the Welsh wilds to LA in 2013, and once those first few rays of crafty sunshine crept into her totally unprepared head, she’d never be the same again. Le Bon released the superb, psych-flecked Mug Museum that same year, and her latest project has seen her join forces with Tim Presley, who through his work as White Fence has been embedded in the Cali psych scene for as long as he can probably remember, though his memory probably isn’t what it was, probably. Hermits On Holiday is the first single from this collaboration – dubbed Drinks, after the duo’s favourite type of beverage – and it’s the title track from their debut album, out in August on Heavenly. Cate’s voice is boss, trilling over a mild, playful track which is light, loveable and a-OK with us. We await more such oddball visions of bliss.
O Hermits On Holiday 1 Mystic Braves / Gruff Rhys : @drinks_band
O Merv King & The Phantoms 1
Single Mothers / Lungfish
O Cheerlessness 1 Gang Of Four / The Mall : nstitute.bandcamp.com
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
O Listen 1 File Next To : Online
EXPERIENCES & EXTRACURRICULARS
Shangri-La Superstar & Global Local presents Bandstand Remixed Roundhouse presents The Voicebox w/ Apples & Snakes Little Gay Brother presents The Vegas Bar Fish Island Labs Art Technologies - Bump Roller Disco
Turning Points: Ty Dolla $ign Tyrone Griffith was always destined to become a West Coast star. Born and raised in LA, the singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist fell in love with hip-hop while learning about the genre’s DNA from his father – a session musician whose CV included work with the longstanding funk band Lakeside and the Death Row Records roster. Since forming a tight bond with Compton rapper YG and the hitmaking producer DJ Mustard, Ty’s career has remained on an upward trajectory. His solo material is defined by his goldtoned singing voice and his sleazy, sexually explicit lyricism, while his gift for writing unforgettable melodies has led him to work on hits such as Kanye West and Paul McCartney’s Only One. After numerous attempts to reach out to him, Ty picked up the phone at 1am to discuss the evolution of his career.
“My album is dedicated to my little brother, who’s locked up for something he didn’t do”
Words: Davy Reed
Early Years: Father’s Influence My dad was a musician, he had instruments all over the house, so I picked them up naturally. He was always on tour really, then he’d be in the studio making music, staying up all night, and keeping me up [laughs]. I eventually started wanting to do it, when I picked up the guitar and the bass, was playing on the keys and figuring out that I could learn to play any song that I heard on the radio, then I knew that it was meant for me to do music. Mid-to-late 90s: Embracing hip-hop Around the house, I’d hear all my dad’s homies, from Earth, Wind & Fire to Rick James, to Parliament / Funkadelic. And then on the radio, you had Ice Cube, Tupac and Snoop Dogg and shit, and that’s what I wanted to listen to! So I’d sneak and get the tapes and shit, my mom found them, ripped them up and made me break them. I’d end up going to buy them again! I met Tupac when dad was working with the guys from the group Digital Underground. Tupac just happened to be there at the crib in Oakland. I remember he’d just woken up, he was still in his drawers [laughs]. He came out, he had a cigarette, he shook my hand and he just kept on pushing.
2009: Hooking up with YG and DJ Mustard My big homie big B, who was also YG’s manager at the time, he told me ‘Yo I want you to work this cat named YG from Compton. He’s hard, he’s got it poppin’ right now.’ Then like the third song we did was Toot It and Boot It, and with everything I dropped after that, the numbers just kept on rising, and rising, and rising. Mustard at that time, he was just DJing and shit. He’d always come over and we’d shoot dice, just be fucking around. But Mustard is a genius, and he really started from just DJing and not doing any beats, to becoming the biggest producer in the world. I’ve been doing beats forever, so that was crazy right there. 2010 - Present: Coping with success I’ve had a couple of arguments with certain friends who feel like you owe them something, or that they’re doing bad and I’m doing good so why don’t I just hook them up with something they want. I just have to really look them in the eye, like ‘You really just asked me for a handout? Pussy. Can I record this right now and play it back to you?’ [laughs] So that’s the only problem I’ve run into. But other than that, all my real friends are still here right now. Whoever was gonna be around me whether I got big or not – that’s who I want around me. Present: build up to debut album Free TC The album is dedicated to my little brother TC, who’s locked up for something he didn’t do. It’s basically a body of dope ass songs put together as a conversation with me and him, you get to hear what he thinks about what’s going on and what I think about what’s going on. I’m excited for that shit to drop, I got some crazy production on there, a lot more instruments on there. It’s not just like my mixtapes. It’s not trying to be a party joint. There’s a couple of party songs on there, but it’s more about some real shit. Free TC is expected to be released this summer via Taylor Gang / Atlantic
Sleaford Mods: These Streets Are Ours
It was a fickle moment, near 10pm on 7 May. A flickering moment of gut-churning disbelief. The perceived collective consciousness, the sense of mutual understanding, disappeared. That collective consciousness had been imagined, it was an illusion, it had never existed. It was false. What a sickly, selfish, scared ideology it was that had taken power. All in a moment. --It’s later that month, and two rough-hewn characters stand onstage in front of a couple of hundred people. The one at the back – taller, gaunter – wears a baseball cap and grips a beer bottle like a mascot. His body bounds from side-to-side on the balls of his feet. At the front, a shorter, broader, pitbull of a man. His expression is livid, his posture tense. If it weren’t for the eyes set on them, the tinny bass and drum clatter seeping from the speakers, you’d never guess that these two men from Nottingham, both in their mid-40s, were one of the country’s most important bands. To see Jason Williamson (words) and Andrew Fearn (music) in the flesh is to see a seething, writhing depiction of working class ire. It’s theatrical and thrilling. Williamson tics and tweaks, clawing at his head, neck jerking involuntarily like cathartic punk icons of the past. It’s a performative caricature of the plight of the underclasses; a fuming, feral, uncontrollable manifestation of deep-rooted discontent. --The Jason Williamson I met earlier that day wasn’t the confrontational, furious character from onstage and on paper. How could he be? He turned up for our shoot on time, a ball of confidence. Andrew Fearn turns up half an hour later, stubbing a pungent joint out next to the studio door. He’s equally self-effacing, conversational and keen. As they pose for photographs, the duo’s faces switch to stern for the camera. Williamson throws on a freshly-purchased Burberry bucket hat as they stride outside into the drizzle: “I look like a cunt, don’t I?” he asks Fearn. “Nah mate, you look good.” The two are warm, to an extent; Williamson swears, constantly. When our conversation turns to topics that rile him – and of course, I nudge it that way relentlessly – he starts to tweak and twitch a little, like the version I’d see later that evening. The separation between the performance and the everyday is slender; the anger is very real. Words: Geraint Davies Photography: Benjamin Mallek
The timing of Sleaford Mods’ upcoming
album, Key Markets, coming barely a month after the disarming election results that saw the Conservative party win a majority in UK parliament, has amplified its importance. The band’s last two records, 2013’s Austerity Dogs and last year’s Divide And Exit, were surreal, embittered visions of life on society’s muck-riddled, slippery bottom rungs in Cameron’s Britain, relayed over rigid, mottled no-fi beats. “Key Markets is an album about beigeness, the nothingness of life in England,” says Williamson as we sit down at a table, him sipping on a throat-soothing herbal tea. “Everything’s packaged and covered in logos, and since we’ve been touring all you see is Wagamamas and Pizza Express and … and all the old town centres are dead.” The album’s name – which refers to a supermarket at the centre of the East Midlands town of Grantham where Williamson grew up – recalls, for the frontman, memories of sickly 70s interiors and sipping on plastic cups of pop. It’s the banality of British life, the sapping of colour and character from our towns, and by extent, our people. It’s a sense of resignation and passive acceptance which offers a change in tone from the more livid, dissident imagery of their previous work. “I see it as a more direct, more graphic album,” offers Fearn, whose sound palette has gained a refined focus: Key Markets is defined by the almost omnipresence of a loose, organic bass pluck and a wincing, snappy snare. “I had the word ‘progressive’ in my head,” Fearn says, “alongside the nostalgia of the obvious punk ideas. Punk to me is doing something different.” It’s this view of punk as a progressive rather than retrogressive concept which sees Williamson reserve particular distaste for the use of punk ideals as a hollow marketing tool. Specifically, when he brings up the band Slaves. “I think they’re a pile of shit,” he snarls. “They’re doing my pose in photos, ripping us off. We met them at Beacons festival last year and they asked if me and Andrew would be interested in writing something for the album, and I said no. They looked like a Matt Bianco sort of thing, and now they’re trying to play this working class game. I think they’re fucking appalling.” The parallel significance of the words Key Markets is, of course, one of business and marketing; the cynicism of consciously selling people things they don’t need. In part it feels like a stab at the ‘industry’ which Sleaford Mods have strived to avoid. Over the years they’ve released via labels including Geoff Barrow’s Invada, and in the US, Mike Patton’s Ipecac – hype-free,
26 party politics in any sort of constructive way, his opinions on the recent election flood out of him in waves. “It didn’t really matter who got in,” he spits. “Ed Miliband is David Cameron and Cameron is Boris Johnson who’s Ed Miliband and he’s Nick fucking Clegg. They’re all the same.” Williamson, in a decision with which he still doesn’t seem entirely convinced, voted Green. Fearn didn’t vote at all.
artist-led imprints. Key Markets and their previous two albums have found a home on the avant-garde noise/punk label Harbinger Sound, run by the band’s manager/mentor Steve Underwood. The glut of Sleaford Mods releases between 2007’s self-titled debut and 2011’s S.P.E.C.T.R.E consisted of strange collages of sound and dank, antisocial streams of consciousness with an almost outsider quality: a scratchy bassline here, a ripped Who riff there, largely manufactured by associate Simon Parfrement, or ‘Parf’. “I knew when I was doing all that stuff that it was stepping stones,” says Williamson. “I didn’t see it as bona fide. In the true sense of punk it probably was, y’know, using samples and lobbing them out, didn’t care. I was selling probably 10, 20 copies of the first four albums. People just couldn’t get their heads around it.” Having been spotted playing abstract sounds to a poor reception at a Nottingham gig, Fearn was initially invited onboard as a producer. Under Underwood’s suggestion, he later joined Williamson onstage. He now provides a merry counterpoint to the eye-boggling rage of his partner; he’s a vision of slightly uncomfortable happiness onstage, swigging bottles of beer and taking photos of the crowd. Besides pressing play on his laptop to kickstart each track, he doesn't even pretend to do anything else. The current incarnation of Sleaford Mods band has a voice: one that is political in its representation of tangible issues, but anti-political in its wholesale rejection of the systems in place. While in the past Williamson could be guilty of scattergun ranting, he’s now found a way to centre his ire, to prioritise his disdain. And while he finds it almost impossible to engage with
“It’s the lies,” Williamson continues, sitting up in his chair. The rhythm of his lyrics begins to emerge. “The constant lies. It’s lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. It’s total, absolute lies. All of it. Everything. I can’t believe a word they fucking say. There’s no talk about looking after people, if there is it’s a short paragraph done without any sensitivity at all. It’s all about getting Britain back on the business map, making Britain an attractive place for investment and big business. What about the people that are dying? The people that have died because of these policies? There’s no talk about that. People haven’t been arrested because of it who should’ve been, there’s people dying, disabled people, people hanging themselves. Not right. Not right. It’s fucked. That, in itself, is bigger than anything they can say.” Such giddy fury is what’s made Sleaford Mods one of the most galvanised reflections of the working class condition in British music. The anger is powerful, yet is too rarely voiced. “You can read, you can self-educate, that’s all you can do,” says Williamson. “You can’t fight against this tide in a physical sense, cause you’ll get your fucking arms bitten off. It’s much bigger than us, and the only thing you can do is to educate yourself, be aware of it, be suspicious, constantly.” The worryingly popular response to distrust of the political system has been to turn to the ‘alternative’: namely, UKIP. I ask what they see as the difference between the disillusioned, invisible, regional working class person who becomes a Sleaford Mods fan, and the one who turns to UKIP. The party were firmly established as the third largest in Sleaford Mods’ hometown of Nottingham; second, in fact, in Williamson’s birthplace of Grantham. “Yeah, obviously it’s frustrating,” says Williamson, and he squirms uncomfortably in his seat for the coming confession. “My old man voted for ‘em. My old man’s a socialist, communist, that belief system, and he said he couldn’t find a fault wrong with their manifesto.” It’s shockingly close to home, and a situation Williamson would never profess to explain. “We can’t offer any answers,” he insists. “We just talk about stuff and communicate a feeling that people feel.”
27 What Willliamson can offer is a real, relatable image. He’s been there, he knows where the bodies are buried. He’s been unemployed, and for a period ending last October, worked as a benefits advisor at the local council. Perhaps Sleaford Mods’ most important statement is still Jobseeker. Having appeared in various forms as far back as 2007’s The Mekon, it grabbed the attention as the second track on the exceptional 2014 singles collection Chubbed Up. The song’s central mantra is worth quoting in its entirety: “Jobseeker / Can of Strongbow, I’m a mess / Desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression supplied to me by the NHS / It’s anyone’s guess how I got here, anyone’s guess how I’ll go / I suck on a roll-up, pull your jeans up, fuck off. I’m going home” “If you’ve ever been unemployed for any sort of period of time, you never forget it,” says Fearn. The deficiency of selfesteem caused by the system is infectious, dangerously cyclical. The track was written before the contemporary Tory era of grim employment statistics and zero hour contracts. “It was agency work back then,”
“You can read, you can self-educate, that’s all you can do. You can’t fight against this tide in a physical sense, cause you’ll get your fucking arms bitten off”
says Williamson. “That was zero hour contracts by any other name. They’d treat you like cunts and the people who used to run them were fucking cunts.” He fumes, suddenly tics. “I’ll still see one of the cunts about in Notts and give him a look. Driving his BMW around town, fuck off.” So the danger is that now, removed from this daily exposure, Williamson will struggle to evoke it in his words. What hits so hard about Jobseeker is its hyper-specificity: the conversation between the advisor and the embittered subject; the monologue, barked, which references to plunging thermometers into pallets of chicken on delivery. “19.4 top / 18.6 middle … Rob?” One of the artists Sleaford Mods are most frequently compared to is The Streets. When Mike Skinner experienced widespread success, his observational leanings meant third album The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living focused on the trials of new-found fame. He quickly found out it’s difficult to ask for sympathy from an audience who’d give anything to be in your situation. “The spirit will always be there with me,” insists Williamson. “There’s parts of this album which are observations of being in airports and stuff like that, the loneliness of travelling, but the despair will never leave my lyrics. I did 25 years of prodding thermometers into pallets of chicken. I’ve done my time.” Williamson is still sufficiently attached to experience those emotions on a day-to-day basis: the intrusive stares of the police, the feeling of violation and encroachment which exists in the current government, where distrust and intrusion is encouraged; where privacy is a rapidly dissolving concept. “You get to a point where you’re walking down the street and you think, if a fucking copper looks at me I’m gonna tell him. You get that anger and you wanna vent it. Fortunately for us we’ve got this, but a lot of people haven’t, and for a lot of people it goes like that” – he signals a pint being downed – “and like that” – he mimes a bump of powder to the nose – “and a lot of hatred is created because of it. People feel powerless.” Williamson has done his time with that and that. He’s previously stated that at some of his lowest ebbs he was getting through as much as three or four grams a night. Last April, when the Sleaford Mods hype was gathering exponentially with each ferocious gig; each explosive interview; each mention of their name over a drink, Crack sent a writer to review their appearance at Brighton’s Prince Albert. The gig never took place. Williamson had gone missing, last spotted in the aftermath of the band’s show at London’s 12 Bar the previous night. At
“The spirit will always be there with me. I did 25 years of prodding thermometers into pallets of chicken. I’ve done my time”
the time, an apology on Twitter put the noshow down to ‘old demons’.
you’re 25, 45, makes no difference. They still make you feel like shit.
Williamson was, and is, unyieldingly remorseful. “It was a pinnacle gig, that one in London. Stewart Lee turned up, it was just a bit weird,” he says. “A bit out of the ordinary. And I got a bit excited and got fucked up and just carried on getting fucked up and felt really bad about it, and still do. It wasn’t on, it was not on, and it dawned on me – it’s not happening.”
“Without meaning to sound like a wanker,” emphasises Williamson, “this is a business. It’s my livelihood. I’m not gonna fuck it up.”
The band’s multiplying status has added a weight of perspective to his shoulders. On the day we meet he’s already been for a run around the city, a session of acupuncture, and invested in some herbal tea. He’s off the booze and the substances. A few days previously he’d been forced to cancel a gig in Skegness, one of a number of appearances in towns off the beaten track of the accepted gig circuit. “There’s just so many dates,” he says. “If my voice goes we’re fucked. If I break down we’re fucked. I could keep on like this for three years but after that – forget it. The idea is to keep making music. I love a drink, and I miss it, but this is my job.” Both Williamson and Fearn have home lives to consider, too: Williamson married with a daughter, Fearn settled down with his partner. “I ain’t 25. This is my fucking job. Drugs have always been the same: if
--Five hours later, Sleaford Mods plough through an almost unbearably intense Tied Up In Nottz. Williamson stalks the stage, his shoulders rotating like a panther. Fearn stands behind his sticker-mottled laptop, beaming. As the song finishes, the vocalist marches off the stage and into the crowd. I’m stood near the front. As he bounds past, I see the navy polo shirt he’d worn for the shoot earlier that day is several shades darker with sweat. I cautiously, unwisely, grab him by the arm. He looks at me at first confused, then with a flicker of recognition. “Why d’you do it, Jason?” I ask. It’s a wonder he’s ever done anything else. He sneers. “There’s fuck all else for me to do, is there?” I let him go. Key Markets is released 17 July via Harbinger Sound. Sleaford Mods appear at Bestival, Isle Of Wight, 10-13 September
THE WORDS OF SLEAFORD MODS “£3.50 for a mega breakfast including toast and a cup of tea. I always go in with a suit jacket on ‘cause if I ask for extra toast, she doesn’t charge me. She must think I’m quite posh. Hardly” - Teachers Faces Porn Charges, 2007 --“What you having an EP launch for, useless prick. I’ve done three albums in eight months, I don’t fucking brag about it” - The Mod That Fell To Earth, 2009
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
“Sonic Youth fan? MBV? / If you like feedback that much get a job at the council” - 14 Day Court, 2013 --“Weetabix, England, fucking Shredded Wheat, Kellogg’s cunts” - Tied Up In Nottz, 2014 --“You’re trapped / Me too / Alienation / No one’s bothered” - No One’s Bothered, 2015
Words: Duncan Harrison Photography: Teddy Fitzhugh
Swift movement: Nozinja represents his tribe with flying colours Limpopo is a rural province located in the northernmost region of South Africa. It is also the heartland of the Shangaan nation, a Tsonga-speaking tribe whose presence spreads into Mozambique and Zimbabwe. They are one of the smallest tribes in South Africa, and their history is a complex one. At the start of the 20th century, much of the Shangaan population were forcibly moved from their ancestral land to make way for what is now Kruger National Park – one of the largest game reserves in Africa, offering everything from nine-day wilderness trails to honeymoon safari packages. After the Shangaans were uprooted from the land they had occupied for generations, many moved to Johannesburg in order to find work. But the cultural history of their nation remains rooted in Limpopo. A central pillar of this culture is their music. In the 1980s, artists like Thomas Chauke and Graceland contributor General MD Shirinda represented Shangaan tradition through an upbeat and fluid sound performed at 110bpm. The sonic landscape of Limpopo was later transformed by a man by the name of Dog (a nickname he shared with his notoriously lion-hearted grandfather). While running a successful chain of mobile repair stores in Soweto, he embarked upon a quiet revolution. It started in 2005. From his cabin-style home studio, Dog took the traditional Shangaan blueprints and catapulted them in to the realm of hyperactive afro-futurism. He removed the bass from underneath the marimba-based melodies, and ramped up the speed to the dizzying heights of 180bpm, using an array of Tsonga-only vocal samples to create a hybridised sound that was at once ancestral and wildly revolutionary. The man once known as Dog is now known as Nozinja – the 45-year-old ambassador for Shangaan electro. He’s taken the genre and transformed it from an off-centre craze on the periphery of South Africa’s post-apartheid cultural explosion into a far-reaching phenomenon, captivating audiences on all corners of the globe. When I speak to Nozinja, he’s just returned to Johannesburg after visiting New York. Along with his team of dancers, the trip saw Nozinja lead a party at Washington Square
Park where the frenzied Shangaan electro experience was played out, centralising its most crucial element – the dancing. “The sound cannot be perfect without the dancers and the dance cannot be perfect without the sound,” he tells me over the phone. The dance sees the women wear dome-shaped Xibelani skirts, historically used for an indigenous Shangaan dance that all girls are required to learn. The male dancers wear fluorescent jumpsuits with masks and make-up, recalling the ritualistic origins of the tribe. Often supplemented with fake pregnant stomachs, the costuming is based on age-old fertility ceremonies, and for the females, it is all in the waist: the heavily pleated skirts are shaken by rapid hip movement. The dance became the focus of weekly street contests in Limpopo, which Nozinja would judge. As the turnout began to grow week-on-week, he decided to leave his successful chain of mobile-repair shops behind in order to forge a real future for the movement. “My family said to me, ‘Something is not right with you. How can you leave your business?’ But I took the business and applied it to the music,” he explains. Nozinja Music Productions was set up to organise the dance contests, distribute the CDs, tapes and DVDs that documented the movement and scout for the freshest voices in Shangaan. After Nwa Gezani – a Nozinja production that came with a video featuring giant superimposed tulips and footage of the dance contests – became a viral hit, the Brooklyn-based radio producer and manager Wills Glasspiegel found a DVD in a shop in Limpopo with Nozinja’s number on the back. This led to Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance – a compilation on Honest Jon’s records which exposed artists like the Tshetsha Boys and BBC to the Western world. Unsurprisingly, it was the speed that perplexed and delighted audiences when they first heard it. “The funny part is, the only people who say it is fast is you guys!” says Nozinja. “To us it’s not fast. It’s a tradition. We can’t dance to slow music!” While some listeners were overwhelmed by the unfamiliar music’s intensity, heavyweights of contemporary electronic music were finding themselves hypnotised by Nozinja’s output. Two years after the New Wave Dance compilation, a remix album featuring Actress, Theo Parrish, RP Boo and
Mark Ernestus took the idiosyncrasies of Shangaan electro and showed how they could be remodelled and embedded into house and techno sets. Around this time, Nozinja flew over to Europe for the first time and struck up a friendship with Dan Snaith, who went on to release two Nozinjaproduced EPs on his Jiaolong imprint. Since 2014, Nozinja has been signed to Warp, who’ve just released his debut album Nozinja Lodge. He’s successfully made the move from telecommunications repairman to international Shangaan trailblazer, but it’s a transition that didn’t come without growing pains. “Every artist will say ‘Thank God I’ve gone international,’ but it comes with challenges,” he says. “You need to be a good performer and you have to meet
“We want the music to be fast. For us, it’s a tradition”
the expectations of being an international artist. I had to say to myself, ‘If I’m going into music, I must know what I’m going to do’." Despite his international popularity, Nozinja refuses to pander to the tastes of fickle yet intrigued Western audiences. “You mustn’t be known for changing your style. Once I change my style of music, I’m changing the thing they found me for. If I change then I’m changing my identity.” To record Nozinja Lodge, he returned to his home studio in Soweto: a soundproof room with a computer, mixer, MIDI organ and his chair. For the best part of a decade, that room has been the hub of the global Shangaan electro operation. “That is the space where I’ve spent most of my life! That’s the most important thing to me.” Nozinja is making sure he remains closely loyal to the stories and the mentality of the Shangaan nation. “It represents my culture and it represents the Shangaan people. That is all it is about. If I let my Shangaan culture or my tribe down, I don’t think I would be happy for the rest of my life”.
“If I let my Shangaan culture or my tribe down, I don’t think I would be happy for the rest of my life”
For many artists emerging from global subcultures, widespread success in their homeland becomes the catalyst for acclaim in Europe and America. For Shangaan electro, the process is almost happening in reverse. Aside from some support on Munghana Lonene FM – a Tsonga-speaking FM station broadcasting through Limpopo and a handful of north west provinces – the mainstream South African media were more focused on covering house-influenced, commercially viable strands of dance music. The Shangaan nation is one of the smallest tribes in South Africa, and this bold new frontier in their musical lineage once found itself sidelined by the outlets they needed support from.
foreigners and represent a united front under banners that read: ‘We Are All Africans’.
This sense of marginalisation is something Nozinja feels a particular affinity with. “For you to be seen on TV you must be from this nation or this tribe? That is not supposed to be done. We are supposed to respect each other,” he says. At the time of our conversation, South Africa is in the news once again for a series of xenophobic attacks which started in Durban and spread to Johannesburg. Shops are being looted and people from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been murdered. On 23 April, Nozinja joined in a march through Johannesburg to protest against the attacks, show solidarity with the
As we talk about the situation further, his tone switches from one of cultural peacemaking to fervent empathy. “The difference between you and me is that I get angry when I talk about xenophobia because I know how it is to be marginalised by other people and by other nations. I’m a Shangaan. Some of our Shangaan people were beaten. People don’t know where we come from. I am marginalised in my own country. You will never see us on TV, that is how painful it is. I know what the foreigners are going through because we also feel it. I feel it.”
“The atmosphere at that march was angry,” he recalls. “If someone had come out with some xenophobia that day I don’t know what would have happened to them. People are very, very angry. There are 53 million people in South Africa but you couldn’t even find 3000 xenophobic people.” The way these stories tend to dominate the discourse surrounding one nation is a painful truth for Nozinja. “It disturbs me when these things happen. It didn’t happen in my province. Where I stay in Limpopo, my neighbours are Zimbabwean and they just walk across to my village. For Mozambicans, it is the same.”
The frustration and pain of marginalisation
is at the forefront of Nozinja’s mission to fly the Shangaan flag. What success in the Western world has offered Nozinja and the Shangaan nation is a scenic route to recognition and acceptance back home which he is now starting to see. Having recorded over 30 songs for Nozinja Lodge, the 10 that made the cut are bold and ecstatic examples of his sound and his vision. From the cardiac frenzy of Vatswelani to the hushed peacefulness of Jaha, the album is another pivotal chapter in Nozinja’s quest to make the voices and the stories of the Shangaan nation heard. While it might lead to even bigger shows in London and New York, even bigger collaborations with ‘producers of the now’ and an even higher profile on the global stage, Nozinja will only be satisfied if these triumphs contribute to better recognition in South Africa. “Now there is respect! They understand now they know we are international. It makes me feel good! Now they are phoning for interviews and I decide which interviews we do. It’s not me going after them. They are going after us.” He pauses for a moment to reflect. “That is the greatest feeling you can ever imagine.” Nozinja Lodge is out now via Warp Records. Catch Nozinja at Melt! Festival, Leipzig, Germany, 17 July
33 5 Shangaan Artists You Need To Know Tshetsha Boys After catching Nozinja’s eye at a dance contest, the Tshetsha Boys have become a prominent force in the genre. Their attire is truly characteristic of the traditional culture – masks, bright orange boiler suits and clown wigs. One of the more accessible acts of the Shangaan movement. Tiyiselani Vomaseve After setting up Nozinja Music Productions, this group were Nozinja’s first real hitmaking machine. Made up of three sisters and two friends, the female group broke Shangaan tradition by placing themselves firmly in the limelight rather than singing back-up to their male peers. Mancingelani With a stage-name that translates roughly as “security guard” (his day job), Mancingelani comes from a dynasty of musicians in Soweto. His voice is more raspy and his sound a little more makeshift than a lot of his peers, but it embodies the DIY principles of the genre. His track Vana Vases was remixed by Theo Parrish in 2012. Foster Manganyi Hailing from Giyani in Limpopo, Manganyi is a pastor who makes a gospel-infused strand of Shangaan electro. Put it this way: if more Sunday-morning services sounded like this then turnout might rapidly improve. Sincere, devotional vocals against the bass-free backdrop of Shangaan.
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Mualusie SHANGAANBANG are a London-based digital Shangaan electro imprint continuing Nozinja’s legacy. Mualusie is a Limpopobased signee of theirs who takes a contemporary, cutting-edge take on the sound. With auto-tuned vocals, a post-internet aesthetic and the same breakneck momentum – tracks like Siyavhuma and Khombo maintain the futuristic ethos which started the whole genre.
Words: Thomas Frost Photography: Ross Trevail
Matters of the Heart: when it comes to putting pen to paper, Sharon Van Etten fears nothing
You expect every fibre of Sharon Van Etten’s being to be riddled with struggle. The visible exposition of her inner turmoil through her last two records, particularly her latest fulllength, the wonderful Are We There, left us pondering the disposition of arguably one of the finest songwriting talents to emerge in recent times. Etten’s majestic voice and evocative lyrical verse give her an unpretentious literary quality, and the musicians she’s been able to work with have lent a huge sense of craftsmanship to proceedings, not least Aaron Dessner from The National, who produced her stunning 2012 album Tramp. Yet a sense of unbridled longing remains. It was somewhat surprising, then, that our conversation with Etten absolutely radiates positivity. There is clearly an innate understanding within Etten about how to project songs that offer catharsis, with the track Serpents and the utterly heartbreaking Your Love Is Killing Me being two personal favourites, but it’s refreshing to see so much buoyancy in her character. To see the catharsis working. The quality of Are We There meant a number of songs never made the final cut. Her latest EP, I Don’t Want To Let You Down, is a continuation of the recordings from the last record and fits loosely into the bracket of relationship turmoil, but better than that, it once again showcases the wealth of songs the native New Jersey songwriter has at her disposal. But it’s the flourishing relationship with her partner-in-crime Heather Woods Broderick and their dual harmonies which have elevated her live performances to a new plain. Our conversation precedes a sold-out gig at Bristol’s Trinity Centre, and devotion is etched on the eyes of audience members relating to the sentiments laid down so nakedly in her work. Luckily, our conversation is a little lighter.
What was the thinking behind releasing an EP shortly after Are We There? We’d recorded so many songs for the album and I didn’t want to overwhelm people by having too long a record. Also some of the songs we recorded didn’t fit vibe-wise so we decided to throw them in the set to see if we wanted to re-record these songs, or if we liked how they were. The audiences just seemed to really like them and even requested them at some shows even though they weren’t even released.
So many of your songs seem to be about the dynamic of connection, are relationship integral to your songwriting? Most of the time when I write, it’s because I’m trying to get through something or understand something. I write a stream of consciousness whenever I’m going through a really hard time and of course it’s usually affairs of the heart, whether that be my partner or a friend or my past. I have a really hard time communicating with people so I keep my emotions inside, and they have to come out somehow.
After seeing you and Heather Woods Broderick perform together, it seemed you have a good understanding of how to project your songs live. Heather is one of the most amazing singers I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never really been able to sing with anyone before. I met Heather through Aaron Dessner when we were working on Tramp together and he just kept planting seeds – “Have you heard Heather Woods Broderick? Her record blew my mind.” Heather told me she was coming to New York to visit sometime and we exchanged information and by that time I was getting a band together to tour Tramp, so I sent her the record and we hung out. She can hear harmonies well, she can play any kind of keys and she’s classically trained in piano. She’s like my other sister.
Does baring your soul every time you go on stage like that prove difficult? Depending on the day, it can be really emotional and it’s sometimes difficult, but other times it’s cathartic and it feels like a release. The band I’m playing with right now transcend those moments. It’s not re-living them, it’s getting past them. Being able to translate them live the way we have feels so good. There are days when I over-think it and listen to the lyrics and go into this wormhole and even while I’m singing it can get to me, but it’s felt so great recently that I’m strong. It’s not like I’m giving up my address or naming names though. The only personal thing is that these are real emotions that happened to me. They’re not even really stories. It’s not like you could read it and be like ‘that was the time she got a burger and threw it at Ben’ or whatever. I’m just not afraid to show that vulnerability without naming names.
Does Brooklyn continue to inspire you or contribute to your music in any way? I actually don’t live in Brooklyn anymore. I live in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. I’ve only lived there a little over a year now, but Brooklyn actually started getting so expensive and Manhattan prices are going down, so I thought I would do the uncool thing and move away from it all. When I moved to New York 10 years ago, Williamsburg was just starting to really blow up and there was an amazing community there, but since then everybody has started to spread out because when things get too popular or populated or expensive it defeats the point of it being an artist-led community. There’s still so much happening though – it’s New York. Civilisations rise and fall and rise again.
Now you’ve had time to reflect on the impact of the last record, how do you feel about it? I’m proud of that record and I’m even more proud of where we’ve come since that record, as a band and friends and me personally. I have a lot of hindsight and I’m a stronger person, friend, daughter and partner. We created something really beautiful and we’re ending this record cycle super positive, like blowing out Shepherds Bush Empire – in fact, all the shows have been awesome. I’m proud of what we accomplished together. What was it like kicking around with Nick Cave when you supported him?
“I have a really hard time communicating with people, so I keep my emotions inside. And they have to come out somehow”
I feel so lucky. I couldn’t afford to bring my whole band as support so I only brought Zeke Hutchins, who was my drummer when I toured Tramp, and they took such good care of us. They let us put our gear on their bus and they helped us unload our gear every day, and their merch person sold our merch and their monitor guy did our sound. They are complete gentleman. Some people expected us to say that they fucked shit up and they were assholes, but they were true gentleman. It was an honour. They are still intimidating as hell, but really sweet guys. As I arrived at the venue in Houston for the first time to start the tour, someone came up to me, walked me on the stage and took me up to Nick Cave who was in a suit – as he is all the time. He came up to me kissed me on the cheek and said, “thank you for joining us.” What’s next for you? I’m trying to set up my new home studio so I can work on some new music. I might go back to school full-time so I can be challenged and read and learn things, write and be on a schedule and have a routine. I have to catch up on life so that I have something to write about. I Don’t Want To Let You Down is released 9 June via Jagjaguwar
Through Prurient and his many guises, Dominick Fernow is confronting himself and destroying nostalgia
Words: Tom Watson Photography: Maria Jose Govea
“This is tough. Let me think about that for a moment.” Dominick Fernow falls silent. He’s struggling to conceive whether criticism of his latest record, Frozen Niagara Falls, will be at all relevant to his art. “Of course I care, but it’s a hard thing to understand…” Silence again. His guttural timbre slowly builds as he phrases and rephrases his answer. “Well, let’s put it another way,” he restarts with intrepidity, “when my friend Function finally completed his first album he said there would be a lot of criticism and he welcomed that because it was nothing that he personally hadn’t felt or thought of before. And I thought that was a very true statement.” Self-negating and brazenly frank, Fernow ruminates over the importance of an artist’s role in art itself. “If you actually consider art practice in itself, it’s really not very special,” he says with assertion. “There’s no shortage of artists. It doesn’t really mean anything to be an artist. It’s more how you relate with your audience. People hide behind this idea that just because they’re an artist somehow, their work has value in itself. I don’t accept that. Art really only has value after the audience determines its value.” Verging on twenty years active, Fernow has both singlehandedly and collaboratively canonised New York’s noise and power electronics scene. His back catalogue is an uncompromising matrix of limited edition cassettes and seven inches. Performing under diametrical bynames including Vatican Shadow, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, Tortured Hooker, Exploring Jezebel and his most realised project, Prurient, Fernow’s mushrooming international fanbase has spored from Brooklyn basement shows to Boiler Room livestreams. His work ethic seems infinite, unsatisfied and omnivorous. “I wouldn’t say that being prolific is a good trait.” Fernow blurts a controlled cackle. “It’s kind of a dirty word in relation to music. There’s this kind of discrepancy because music has to do with manufacturing and distribution of a product versus making one of something. It’s an interesting contradiction if you think about it. How does one quantify art when we’re pressing thousands upon thousands of copies of the same record?” Yet Fernow’s unyielding index of releases doesn’t come from any sense of pride or
lack of restraint. He only writes when he is struggling; both creatively and internally. Prurient’s last studio album Bermuda Drain was a derisive departure from the clamour and discord of his earlier work, opting to realign the structural format of pop music contained in the parameters of experimental techno. Two years on, Fernow’s struggles with Frozen Niagara Falls were almost cataclysmic. “The record spawned out of fear and anxiety that we had nothing to present,” he admits. “It really only came together in the final moments. I was even calling the label about not knowing what we had. They didn’t hear anything until the last minute. So the entire time we were working, they just had to take my word for it that something was happening.” Fernow is first to say that his most recent release is “unmanageable, unlistenable
The actual process saw Fernow move back to New York from Los Angeles. Here, he began re-establishing his perception of the city he made his name in. “Moving back was like seeing your ex-partner and they just don’t look that hot anymore,” Fernow laughs facetiously. Yet this was not the archetypal idea of an artist fastened to the concept of nostalgia. “It’s this brutal reality of facing age and time. Nostalgia’s a very dangerous thing. I had to accept that all relationships, be it personal, sexual or geographic have one common denominator and that’s you. It’s one’s self.” Fernow argues that rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance, you have to take responsibility over your actions. This viewpoint expands to the city Fernow’s music seems tied to. “The disfunction of cities is what brings them greatness,” he continues. “New York is a small place and that’s part of why it’s so terrible. But the
“There’s a lot of value in love and death”
and demanding”. It’s an obstinate heave of dissonance riddled with Carpenteresque synth lines. Yet through this constant dualism comes a balance that could be regarded as Prurient’s most cumulative work to date. “In the past I’ve made records out of bad periods as some sort of way to deal with something that’s happened.” Fernow is animated yet sincere. “Not in a cathartic way but in a transformative way. To try and take that kind of negative energy and do something creative with it. Whereas this particular record was something that in itself was a kind of crisis. “It was like the whole absence of a point, a nihilistic absence saying what does it mean to be an artist and who gives a damn,” Fernow declares. “The crux of the crisis itself was me asking why the fuck am I doing this? So this project took so long because I was unable to realise that unlike the past, where I was defeatist and had Prurient as the outlet, the actual process of creating this record was defeatist.”
congestion is actually its strength and its power. At some point it’s a mathematical equation based on what will happen. If you take enough people, ram them in to this prison cell, something is going come out of that whether you like it or not. It’s a universal truth. That took time to understand. The whole discomfort and misery and suffocation and the oppression of this city is also why it’s a great place to get things done and to work. It’s a demanding lover that calls you at the worst moment.” These sentiments can be embodied in a single line from Frozen Niagara Falls’ A Sorrow With a Braid, “What you remember isn’t the way it was.” Fernow grows excited by the connection. “When I was editing those lyrics there’s a whole section about the need to destroy nostalgic pretences and that’s exactly the essence of what I’m trying to communicate.” In the liner notes of Frozen Niagara Falls is a list of recommended reading on the
topic of love and death. Beneath this list is the phrase, ‘The boundaries of love are not limited to the flesh’. In Fernow’s most recent struggles and successes, is this his closing avowal for Prurient as we currently know it? Fernow pauses again, ensuring every word is as imperative as the last. “There’s a lot of value in love and death. We take great lengths to hide death from our world. We put makeup on people when they’re dead to make them look like they’re alive. You go to the grocery store where our meats are very cleaned and packaged. We don’t like to see things get killed. We don’t like to see people suffering. Out of sight, out of mind. That line is a battle cry for the human spirit, but it also intrinsically addresses our fragility and the kind of hopelessness of our situation. “We have to die but we’re cursed by this idea of consciousness,” he argues. “As for Prurient, I certainly hope this isn’t the end, or even the best Prurient record, because then the game is over and I’ll just have to throw myself into Niagara Falls.” Frozen Niagara Falls is out now via Profound Lore
first come, first served.
Nashville’s Bully have ranked top of the class
In an era where creative degrees are often perceived to be an increasingly expensive three-year exercise in procrastination, Bully’s Alicia Bognanno is a beacon of hope for those who are enrolling in these perennial ‘tut’ inducers. Despite always being musical by instinct, Bognanno rarely picked up a guitar until college and, after completing a degree in audio engineering, thoroughly impressed Steve Albini as an intern at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago. When I reach out to Bognanno, Bully have just returned from a well-received UK tour, which saw them make a big splash at Brighton’s annual music industry love-in The Great Escape. Oh, and she also wrote, produced and engineered Bully’s debut album, the screeching, snarling Feels Like, and it’s fucking great. Bognanno is relatively humble about such an achievement. Although she admits it was something of a matter of convenience, she notes that, “it’s nice to know that I don’t really have to rely on anyone else to do the work for me. Audio engineering is something I’m very interested in and want to get better at, so right now I have no reason not to do it.” It’s perhaps this understated DIY ethic, coupled with a ferocious sound that earns
Bully frequent comparisons to the altrock of the late 1980s and early 90s (ad nauseam). Bognanno’s voice ranges from faintly-croaky singing to cathartic howls and screams, and her lyrics are often both deeply personal (“And I remember the way your sheets smelled,” she yells on the album’s opening track) and widely relatable. Musically, the band’s sound is appropriately direct, with no room or necessity for any studio or instrumental embellishments or tomfoolery. “I’m always a little bummed when I fall in love with a record and then go and see the live show and it isn’t the same,” Bognanno explains. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing for a record and live show to sound different, it’s just a personal preference of mine for them to sound similar.” And it sounds very similar: nothing of the record’s intensity is lost in the live show, and vice versa. It’s emotional issues outside of performing which seem to trigger the risk of vocal strain for Alicia, not, seemingly, the continued and prolonged act of screaming: “It usually only gets worn down when I’m stressed out or have a bunch of other things to do whilst touring,” she admits. “I try to warm up before every show, but don’t always get the opportunity to.” Hailing from Nashville, long thought of as the hub for commercial and conservative country music worldwide, the band are
something of anomaly, although Bognanno insists that the Tennessee capital has a diverse, supportive music scene. Bully’s grunge-pop could be filed alongside Speedy Ortiz, Cloud Nothings or White Lung – contemporary, fuzz-loving bands who probably roll their eyes at all the 90s comparisons. Although they may draw comparisons to their 90s predecessors, the journalistic preoccupation with that era probably exaggerates the resemblance. Bully are a very real reminder of the benefits of writing lyrics that are straight from the heart, and their album is testament to the merits of taking matters into your own hands. And if in doing this, your band ends up sounding a bit like Hole sometimes, then so be it. Feels Like is out 23 June via StarTime International / Columbia
Words: Jon Clark Photography: Kate Bones
If the end really is nigh, then Ben Power’s mighty new Blanck Mass album might help shake the doomsday blues Words: Amelia Phillips Photography: Bex Day
I saw an interview with Stephen Hawking at the end of last year. He was speaking to the BBC about an update to his Intel communication system. Then things took an apocalyptic turn. When asked if he had any reservations about technology, he replied that advances in artificial intelligence could spell the end for the human race. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution,” he went on, “couldn’t compete and would be superseded.” A bit of internet searching revealed that Bill Gates, Nick Bostrom and Elon Musk have also voiced their concerns about a movement towards what John von Neumann – and later Vernor Vinge – called ‘the singularity’: the point where machines outwit human beings. It all used to feel so comfortably like science fiction. As it happens, Blanck Mass’s second album Dumb Flesh is announced soon after the interview, described as “a comment on the flaws of the human form in its current evolutionary state.” On the release of the record in May, I take the opportunity to quiz Ben Power on our biological ineptitude. Judging by the title, it’s not something he finds easy to accept. “I do find it quite difficult. I think you have to reach some kind of understanding and make peace with it. It’s all hopeless, isn’t it?” he says. “Nature’s very cruel. One in three of us are probably going to die of cancer. No matter how much we try and play God, we can’t escape that.” Lovely. Ben is in Scotland, speaking from his new home in the East Lothian countryside. Don’t misinterpret the above tone to be as weighty as it reads. Ben is essentially shooting the breeze, phone on the shoulder. He has just returned from a show in Brighton and is papering the walls. Talk of our genetics is intermittently interrupted
by the minutiae of domestic life. “Darwin, stop licking the wallpaper paste. Can you not be a pain in the ass for five minutes?” Dumb Flesh was produced during a particularly humbling year for Ben. “I herniated a disc, which left me unable to walk for a good month at least, and I lost a friend,” he explains. “Our evolution isn’t keeping up with us. There’s still a lot that can go wrong. No matter how we advance with regards to technology, we’re still made up of exactly the same pieces as the next sentient being.” There have been other, more welcome, developments. He
not here to tell anyone they’re wrong or suggest I’m right,” is all Ben has to say about it. “I outwardly suggest people make their own mind up about the aesthetic so I’m not really in the position to complain. I think that’s the beautiful thing about making the music that I do. It paints a different picture for everybody.” For the most part, Ben’s music seems to send journalists into a thesaurical frenzy, spouting adjectives and sub-genres ten to the dozen. Fecund electronica and chiming utopian techno. Grandiose is a term banded around a lot. Does he
“Some of my record is completely undanceable. Although it depends on how one dances”
got married, left east London behind and bought a house 400 miles north. “I’m really looking forward to writing again. I can’t say precisely how it will affect the sound – I’d have to have psychoanalysis to know that – but I’d be lying if I said the move wasn’t going to have some sort of impact. And that excites me. It’s always good to surprise yourself. I think that’s really important.” Thematically, the new Blanck Mass album continues where the former left off. Ben’s self-titled debut called on “the beautiful complexity of the natural world,” while Dumb Flesh moves forward into the human condition. It has been incredibly well-received, save for one oddly vitriolic review in The Observer. “Everyone has their own set of rules, don’t they? I’m
consider his music grandiose? “I guess I am drawn towards something that sounds a little bigger. I’m interested in a bigger picture, something that is still human but on a grander scale.” In crude summarisation, Dumb Flesh is a cleaner and more rhythmic record than the last, and that’s mostly down to the electronic knick-knacks Ben has acquired in the last few years. Along with a couple of soft synths, Ben’s added a modular to his set-up. “It’s quite nice because those things have a mind of their own,” he explains. “It’s feisty. You have to build a relationship with it.” Reviews of the new album have echoed each other in saying, without any notes of condescension, that it is Ben’s most accessible to date.
Accessible meaning in this case that you can – and perhaps some die-hard fans will wince here – dance to it. “Making a dance record wasn’t my intention,” he insists. And I’m certainly not suggesting that there was any kind of automatic writing at play, but it did definitely end up there and I can see people using it in that way. Some of it I wouldn’t suggest people dance to at all, really. Some of it is completely undanceable. It depends on how one dances,” he laughs. Ben is not a dancer. “No, no, I can’t. I dance, maybe, when I’m drunk at a wedding. That’s about it.” The rest of the year will be dedicated to performing as Blanck Mass. There’s Tramlines in Sheffield, ATP and a few dates in America. “Then come next year, Andy and I will be writing the next Fuck Buttons album,” Ben says. “That’s no secret.” I wonder if he’s got any idea of how he wants it to sound? “No, I haven’t. I think it’s unwise to plan to do things from the get-go because then that’s what you’re doing. You’re giving yourself no room for manoeuvre. I think it’s a lot healthier to approach things completely openly and what happens, happens.” Before we have had the chance to hang up, Ben’s cat takes the matter of human fragility into his own hands and demonstrates just how dumb flesh can really be. “Ow! Darwin! He’s just fucking clawed me, the prick.” Dumb Flesh is out now via Sacred Bones
Goldenvoice Presents THE STRYPES
09.06.15 TUFNELL PARK DOME OUT 09.06.15 SOLD SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS 10.06.15 SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
26.09.15 BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY 08.10.15 SCALA
ALL WE ARE
YEARS & YEARS
21.10.15 DOME TUFNELL PARK
11.06.15 LONDON FIELDS BREWERY OUT 12.06.15 SOLD O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE OUT 13.06.15 SOLD O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE 27.10.15 BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY
LEFTFIELD 12.06.15 FORUM 13.06.15 FORUM
WHILK & MISKY 08.07.15 BIRTHDAYS
17.09.15 BRIXTON ELECTRIC
SATURDAY 8TH AUGUST
13.10.15 EVENTIM APOLLO
CAMERA OBSCURA / HOLY FUCK / FAT WHITE FAMILY THE ANTLERS / TOY / JENS LEKMAN / ANDY STOTT SON LUX / HINDS / SHAMIR / CEREMONY / MERCHANDISE HO99O9 / PEAKING LIGHTS / LUKE ABBOTT / JJ / GIRL BAND GAZELLE TWIN / TORN HAWK / OSCAR / JONES / LOYLE CARNER THEO VERNEY / PIX / THE BIG MOON / CLAW MARKS
SPEEDY ORTIZ SWIM DEEP
LUCY ROSE 18.11.15 FORUM
ALABAMA SHAKES OUT 18.11.15 SOLD BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY 19.11.15 BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING 29.11.15 BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY
02.06.15 MIRANDA AT ACE HOTEL
17.09.15 THE BORDERLINE
JUN – NOV
02.06.15 TUFNELL PARK DOME
STREET FOOD FESTIVAL, MARKETS, SCREEN PRINT CLASS, AV INSTALLATIONS ACROSS SIX HACKNEY VENUES
Don’t give up the day job: Brighton rockers Sauna Youth are well busy
It’s an interesting question, this: when does a band become a side-project, and viceversa? When it comes to art-punk outfit Sauna Youth it’s a particularly pertinent one. I’m supposed to be here to speak with them about their new record, but I could just as easily be talking to each member about a dozen other projects. In no particular order: drummer and vocalist Rich Phoenix releases his own music as Twin Lakes/Burnt Brains and also plays with Tense Men; keyboardist and vocalist Jen Calleja is one-third of fellow art-punk group Feature and also finds time to edit an Anglo-German arts magazine and write for The Quietus; guitarist Lindsay Corstorphine is in Cold Pumas and Primitive Parts while bassist Christopher Murphy has himself a nice side-line printing t-shirts.
Now we understand why the excellent new Sauna Youth album is called Distractions. Phoenix and Calleja sing about taking the path of least resistance on New Fear, the perils of boredom on Monotony or in the case of Try to Leave, just getting the hell out of somewhere: “I try to leave but I couldn’t go through with it / I try to leave; distraction was never enough.” A thread of escapism runs through most songs, as though the band playing them would rather be somewhere else in their lives. For Phoenix though, actions speak louder than words. “I like the escapism aspect but I’ve never wanted to live my life one way, doing a job I absolutely hate and just having escapism through playing in a band or whatever,” he says. “I like the idea of almost finding the ‘escape’ – the thing that excites you and you’re interested in – then actually inhabiting it. So, lyrically it’s about always trying to explore the contrast with what your life is then what you want it to be and the kind of clashes that happen there.” To that end, Sauna Youth might be escapists but they’re also realists: the
band all still have jobs, albeit doing things they enjoy. Phoenix, for instance, spends his time putting on shows and organising workshops, as opposed to staring at spreadsheets all day (“It’s sort of a busman’s holiday,” he says). In fact, for Calleja, the idea of anybody in the band ditching their job is ridiculous: “Never going to happen. We’ll keep going until one of us has a nervous breakdown!” Having made the move from Brighton to London, jobs are a necessity given the absurd cost of living in the capital, particularly when it comes to property. “There was this awful video online from some development company – I think it was advertising some flats behind the place I work in Deptford – and it was essentially saying, artists in Deptford have made the area really nice, we’re creating an opportunity to invest, now let’s just destroy that community,” says Phoenix. “I said we should write a song about luxury flats but I kind of knew that I would never be able to write that song in like, a direct manner for Sauna Youth.” Instead, Corstorphine recently penned Luxury Flats (sample lyric: “penthouse / shithouse!”) and in the process assumed the mantle of chief songwriter and vocalist
for yet another new band, the proto-punkish Monotony (signed to Sauna Youth’s previous label, the Brighton-based Faux Discx). Calleja plays drums, Phoenix is on bass and Murphy handles guitar; the four often simply switch instruments to play back-to-back shows as Sauna Youth and Monotony. The switcheroo means that Monotony necessarily play rudimentary, direct punk songs; a marked contrast from “Steve Reich meets the Ramones,” as the band themselves have described Sauna Youth. “I think I’m the only one playing an instrument that I’m comfortable with,” says Jen. “It’s changed the boundaries of what we can sound like.” Murphy has a mischievous idea: “Maybe Monotony was what we always wanted to sound like but it didn’t come out right. Now we’ve got another go!” Even the band’s vinyl pressing company seem to be embracing amateurism: Phoenix pulls a test pressing of the forthcoming Monotony album off the shelf but its songs are muddled up in the wrong order and bits are missing. “It will come out!” he cries. No doubt by the time it does there’ll be yet another band or three to talk about. Distractions is released 8 June via Upset The Rhythm
Words: James F. Thompson Photography: James Burgess
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
In fact, no sooner have we all sat down – without Corstorsphine, who for the purposes of our shoot was replaced by a lizard – in the Stoke Newington flat shared by Phoenix and Calleja that the pair start telling me about yet another separate gig they’re playing that very evening, alongside a guy who’s apparently turned his violin into a drum machine, no less. “We’re not alone in doing this,” says Calleja as she tries to rationalise things. “Everyone we know is in multiple bands and have jobs, plus other hobbies on the side.”
Container’s noise-infused techno is finding a wider audience. Just don’t call it confrontational
It may be time for us to start thinking differently about Ren Schofield. It turns out the Providence-based noise veteran turned techno producer known as Container has got a bone to pick, which is awkward because when it comes to talking about his heavily saturated, hardware-based take on the genre, there are persistent difficulties. Dominick Fernow, who you might label a similarly ‘extreme’ producer, cut to the core of these difficulties in a recent chat with Red Bull when asked if he’d ever read any writing on his work which had really nailed it. “Very rarely, almost never,” was the reply, the problem being that as soon as you label something ‘extreme’, you’re stuck with a thorny question – extreme to whom? The general public? Them who voted the Tories back in?
In labelling something extreme, you might be unnecessarily robbing it of a certain humanity, and doing the aforementioned tens of thousands of fans who plug into these sounds a disservice. And this is one of the things Schofield’s grappling with just now. In recent times, he says, his techno consumption has gone up. “I know much more about it now than I used to,” he tells me over Skype, “that’s for sure.” But difficulties remain for Schofield, whose background in the American noise and improv underground is a far cry from techno’s traditionally austere and regimented ethos – where allowing the sound to move beyond your control isn’t always necessarily valued.
OK, fine, how about the fans? Maybe, but consider the further end of the spectrum populated by the likes of Wolf Eyes, Cut Hands, or Yellow Swans (RIP), all of whom have reached out to global audiences. There are evidently tens of thousands of people to whom this ‘extreme’ music makes complete and total emotional sense.
“It’s not that I don’t like the music,” he clarifies. “What I don’t like is the way a lot of people treat it, so maybe the new record is a reaction to that. I feel like some people want their techno a very certain way, from how it’s presented to how it sounds. They impose weird limitations for the sake of keeping the party smooth, and I feel like that prevents a lot of potentially interesting things from happening.”
The problem, continued Fernow, is that ‘extreme’ music cannot, by definition, be viewed as sincere. Extreme doesn’t tend to just occur. Extreme is the result of concentrated and pinpointed effort. Extreme often goes hand in hand with contrived, and is therefore open to ridicule.
As one 2014 interview highlighted, Schofield’s performance at Berghain in May 2013 sent some purists home to their keyboards to moan loudly about the ‘incoherence’ of the sound (“Back into the container with you!” demanded forum user ‘Jens’). Perhaps Schofield is performing a
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“I don’t like this idea that once you step outside of the confines, you’re suddenly being confrontational”
specific role within techno? To muddy the waters, to provoke confrontation, to drag us out of our comfort zones? Nope, says Schofield. That’s fair enough: firstly because that’s been a cliché for about as long as noise has been a ‘thing’, and secondly because this would see him working only in opposition. Although this latest album – titled LP, like both his previous albums – may be responding to certain attitudes, the fact is that Schofield’s music has been widely embraced by members of several communities, from those favouring L.I.E.S and Trilogy Tapes output, to hardware purists who can immediately tell what’s been made on a laptop and what hasn’t, to noiseniks who’ve always secretly wanted a 909. “The whole idea that my tracks could be a problem for someone is exactly what I don’t like – this idea that you step slightly outside of these confines, and all of a sudden you’re being confrontational. I don’t know but, to me, that’s funny. What you hear on the record is just what I prefer to hear. Those things sound good to me. “I definitely don’t think the tracks are dark,” he adds, suggesting that the Container project remains concerned with a previously stated objective of simply creating accessible dance music, albeit with an approach honed at noise shows. But saying that, LP is almost upon us,
and terrace vibes it ain’t. One of its most striking moments comes seconds into the record, when opener Eject erupts in a festering mess of screeching synths and drums overdriven to the point of collapse. A textbook statement of intent, it sets the tone for the remainder of the record: raw, immediate, unflinching. The track has a music video, which in keeping with Schofield’s homegrown approach is typically DIY. “My girlfriend found this VHS in a Virginia thrift store a long time ago,” he explains. “It’s a home movie shot in the 90s labelled ‘Kev’s Video’. It’s a video letter from this guy to his friend Kev. It starts with this dude at some insane street rock festival in Japan, where he films some of the bands and the crazy audience behaviour. After that, it moves onto him talking directly to Kev, showing him all the blacklight posters in his bedroom, and his new surfboard.” 2015’s LP is no radical departure from previous releases. With faster, shorter tracks, Schofield identifies a more direct approach than encountered on 2012’s LP, but stops short of suggesting this was intentional. Gear-wise, little has changed, with Schofield enlisting for this recording an MC-909 sampler, a four-track with some tapes for distortion, and two delay pedals. This minimalism serves a purpose in forcing Schofield to drive his machines to their very limits. “Basically I go through phases where I get really frustrated with the gear I have,” he says, “and then I’ll
stumble upon some new feature, or discover some different way I could use it, and that will spawn a bunch of new ideas. Then I’ll get enthusiastic about it again. Maybe it’s here, amid the detail of collecting together and setting up battered gear for a home recording in a remote part of Tennessee, that we encounter what’s truly human in ‘extreme’ music. Ultimately, it may be worth remembering that some of Schofield’s commonly cited influences – the likes of Arab on Radar, Black Dice, Lightning Bolt – may go some way to explaining Schofield’s insistence on the accessibility of his work as Container. “The music scene here when I was growing up is and was a huge influence. It’s totally ingrained in what I do. There’s a lot of stuff from here that is brutal, noisy, intense, but also just pleasant and fun at the same time, and not in a corny way, which can be extremely hard to pull off. “So yeah”, Schofield says, “I guess my perception might be a bit warped.” He’s probably right. But then again, that’s no bad thing. LP will be released 7 June via Spectrum Spools
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Hunee just cooked up a woozy summer classic Words: Anna Tehabsim Photography: JĂşlia Soler
51 Hun Choi is one of dance music’s most likeable characters. Both his sets and productions as Hunee exude warmth and elegance. He’s perpetually smiling and dancing in the booth as he plays out his elongated sets that dish out generous servings of the finest in all spheres of dance. Choi’s style may fluctuate wildly, but his passion for the party is always contagious. This characteristic, one that initially accelerated the house and disco maven’s word of mouth success, has now secured Choi’s standing as a beloved member of the dance music community. Though this alluring quality is in part down to a deep knowledge of groove and a thirst for a good party, it’s also down to his outlook: the profound enjoyment of the sociality that dance music culture develops is central to Choi’s relationship with his work. From his visual enthusiasm at gigs to the love of his adopted hometown Amsterdam, Choi operates best in the midst of a vibrant community. Talking to him about his time in Berlin, for example, where he moved at 19 after growing up in Bochum, West Germany, Choi is keen to stress the central motivation for his move. “The most important thing for me about Berlin was meeting all these different types of people,” Choi explains. “In the end, it comes down to the people that I met, the experiences that I shared with them, and the things they taught me about club culture.” This outlook, based on the rewards of human interaction, powers Choi’s activities as DJ and producer. It even seeps into his own work as a promoter, throwing sporadic events during his time in Berlin. “The whole experience of a party is what interested us. We wanted to build a relationship to every aspect in the space,” he explains. “From who would be the door guy, to what friend of ours would have the right vibe to do the tickets at the entry. We would do little games at the entrance – once we put out 1000 balloons." Now currently based in Amsterdam after nine months living in LA, Choi was lent a studio space by charismatic local DJ San Proper in the summer of last year. Neighbouring some of the city’s most respected local artists, the hub was a catalyst for his recent return to production after a four-year break. “I was part of an environment with a lot of different people that I respected,” he explains. “Just having these friends around, I don’t think I could have done it without them.”
It was here that Choi made his forthcoming debut album Hunch Music. Typical of his omnivorous tastes, it’s an ebullient mélange of tribal drum patterns, warped vocal samples and fluttering strings. While a lot of his previous work
sits at the intersection of house and disco, Hunch Music fuses the physicality of dance music with an enchanting, abstract and most importantly, human depth. Existing outside of strict dancefloor conventions, the album is inspired by recordings collected by the likes of Sublime Frequencies and Numero Group, labels dedicated to exposing obscure sounds from urban and rural frontiers. “There are these almost ethnomusicological approaches to field recordings where they go out to the Sahara region or some remote place and record people,” Choi tells me. “I was fascinated by these records because they were functional by completely different terms: it would be ritual music, or some musicians would go out into the mountains and play for themselves, without an audience, without a recording even. I was really intrigued by that because our musical world is so functional, I’m slightly allergic to it.” Choi’s ear for subverted functionality is evident in his ability to get a crowd moving with techno that gratifies with inventive weirdness and curious, offbeat disco alike. It is also in this contradiction that Choi found inspiration, and set about operating on his own terms. “I needed that liberation, this mental model to not pressure myself with things. So I envisioned how would I make this music if I could just make music for myself. As if I was alone in this world. I didn’t think about how this could work or what I would need as an addition for the ‘album’. I made it just for me.” This introspective approach results in a rich musical journey. Brimming with character, Hunch Music’s rhythmically inventive production forges a style of its own. Its confounding collage should come as no surprise at this point, though, as Choi has never let himself be guided or swayed by dance music tropes. “I always strive to make work as close and as honest to my life as possible,” Choi confesses. “I wanted to make a really human album. There are a lot of little mistakes in there. When I played it to friends they were like ‘but you still have to edit this!’ But I would never edit these things. I consciously tried to make things more loose and a bit more free flow.” Speaking to Choi, it’s clear that he’s not only benefitting from a prosperous return to the studio, but a refreshed outlook on his motivations within music. The move to Amsterdam has allowed for reflection on his philosophy, one that expands on his humanistic approach while offering a renewed vitality for his craft. “Before I saw music as just what I do on the side,” he admits. “But now I get up
and I DJ and I do what I need to do for my work. Not necessarily seeing it as your work, as the way you make money, even though it is, but it’s also your work in terms of realising yourself as a person. That’s how I see it now. That’s how I want to grow as a person, in music.” Hunch Music is released late June via Rush Hour Records
“I make music as if I am alone in this world. Just for me”
Property Guardian, 2015
The work of Alex Frost & Jim Geddes was born in different worlds, but finds common ground in both media and thematics
My favorite shop in London has just closed down. It was called K.C. Continental Stores. Located opposite the Tesco on Caledonian Road in Kings Cross, it had been run by the same man since the 1960s. In all the years of its operation, Leo had never been on holiday. An Italian deli, the shop was remarkable in its quite incredible refusal to make any concessions to the modern world. Its resolute anachronism was far from an affectation; it rather seemed as though, ageing at the same pace as the business, Leo had never seen fit to adapt. That model of a small deli with an unchanging but high-quality range of stock, with a manually operated meat-slicer and no computerised systems in place was, for a long time, perfectly adequate, only becoming unsustainably outdated when Leo had become too old to change. He’s now retired though, and for now the property is empty. In South London, at the other end of the 63 bus route (which goes almost door to door), Peckham has seen an unprecedentedly swift, comprehensive and comprehensively reported (not to mention simultaneously bemoaned and celebrated) wave of gentrification crash over it. Kings Cross has also undergone a profound (though far less organic) rebranding, with the station’s redevelopment and the opening of the new Central St Martin’s functioning as a hub, around which all manner of quintessentially contemporary pop-ups and street-food stalls have started plying their trade.
Words: Augustin Macellari
The outcome of both of these processes has been similar; a spike in the cost of living and a pervasive sense of existential dread as the community’s character is first co-opted, then homogenised. Two exhibitions are opening at either end of the 63 route. The first, in Leo’s empty old
shop, is a retrospective. The second, south, is an outcome. A response to four months residency in Flat Time House – the gallery, archive and former residence of the late postwar artist John Latham. Ostensibly, the shows are very different. The retrospective has been organised by curator Cornelia Marland, and is the first major exhibition of the work of Jim Geddes, a Canadian who made his home in Kings Cross for much of the second half of the 20th century before passing away in 2009. Geddes was, essentially, an outsider artist. While he went to art school (he was a contemporary of Warhol), his practice developed in a kind of solitude. He was removed from the art world. Alex Frost, exhibiting at Flat Time House, is, by contrast, very much a part of the art world. He talks eloquently and fluently about the complicated conceptual, social and political tapestry that underpins his work. A not inconsiderable aspect of the exhibition, called Property Guardian, relates to the institutional meta-narratives of which he’s found himself a part. “My initial plan was to research where the idea of the artist residency as the ideal form came from. Because of the nature of the work that I make, I’ve done 11 residencies, which, compared to other people, is an enormous amount.” The disparities between an outsider artist who spent most of his adult life in one place making work for himself that never reached an audience beyond his local community, and a self-aware, institutionally engaged contemporary artist, are obvious. A closer look, though, reveals both points of connection and tensions which themselves cast some light on a social, economic, cultural and political phenomenon that irrevocably impacts community and society. The process of gentrification is complicated and divisive, with varied outcomes, both good and bad. The benefits it bestows
on one sector of society tend to come at the cost of another. In the face of it, communities and local businesses become as fragile as porcelain. Neither the Geddes retrospective nor Property Guardian explicitly set out to critique this process, but in their way each one resonates, highlighting and calling into question facets of both the process and its outcomes. Originally from Tottenham, Glasgow has been Frost’s home for the last 20 years. Coming in to Peckham as an outsider, unused to the ever increasing economic challenges of living in London, Frost’s response to his residency reflects his awareness of the strangeness of the shifts taking place in the area. His exhibition by no means deals exclusively with gentrification – his acknowledgement of the process doesn’t necessarily even extend to casting judgement. “The relationship to the gentrification is very clear. It didn’t necessarily repulse me, because it was doing things that I’m really interested in. I just felt like I didn’t want to add to it.” Instead, much of it relates to notions of unconventional domesticity, drawing out links between the artist-in-residence and the property guardian, two contemporary short-term solutions to surviving as an artist. The works in Property Guardian are small-scale; reconfigured readymade ceramics, wall-mounted resin sculpture/ pictures and pewter casts of domestic objects. I’m shown a pile of coins, a set of keys and a potato waffle. “I did these on the barbeque outside. It’s this idea of trying to push the possibilities of a house as a place to make things; in Glasgow you can make quite large work because there is more space to do it. In London I can imagine getting quite frustrated – these are all quite small objects, and the reason they’re small is to do with that space.”
The exhumed collection of Jim Geddes’ work is a case in point. While it encompasses a few paintings and some larger scale wooden sculptures, the bulk of his oeuvre comprises some 300 ceramic sculptures, largely figurative, and all made to an entirely consistent scale.
acknowledgements of the transience of the art object, artifice and modes of display. Now the speckling adorns the soles of Nike trainers, packing fabric is used as a prop in the window at Selfridge’s and they balance Clark’s Originals on foam blocks in Urban Outfitters.
“He turned his basement into a studio, where he spent a lot of his time obsessively making sculptures and paintings, mainly sculptures, mainly ceramics,” says curator, Cornelia Marland.
Recently, clay as a medium has undergone a shift. Once limited to the twee and maligned peripheral realm of the craft, it has found itself in vogue. Whether used functionally, figuratively or in a more abstract capacity as a medium capable of incredible tactile expression, its move from craft fairs to white-wall galleries represents a kind of legitimisation. Its innate functionality and rich tradition renders its absorption into a mainstream more nuanced than a set of visual tropes co-opted by Urban Outfitters, but the arc of its acceptance mirrors the gentrification Frost describes.
The works on display are difficult to engage with on their own individual terms; though they span more than 20 years, it’s impossible to date any of them: “His work is very repetitive, it’s very similar,” says Marland. “There’s not a huge amount of progression – he didn’t show much of his work, so he wasn’t getting any external advice or comments; he did it very much for himself.” The consistency in scale clearly manifests nothing more than logistical necessity – the size of the kiln he was able to fit into his studio. In this sense his work reinforces Frost’s observations about the restrictions of making in London, where space is at a premium. More than this, though, Geddes’ choice of materials foreground another interplay between the two artists. In conversation, Frost recalls a talk by artist Simon Bill, who “made a quite flippant remark about how contemporary art is like the Research & Development department of the world of culture. A bit like gentrification, it finds new areas and blossoms out, creates new things.” The arrival of an artistic community as a catalyst for gentrification is uncontestable – one of the major turning points for Kings Cross was the relocation of an iconic art school there – but this idea of contemporary art acting as a catalyst for a more abstract, conceptual type of gentrification is interesting. Three or four years ago packing fabric, foam bricks and that Memphis Design-type speckling were part of a wider discourse:
Jim Geddes’ position in this is intriguing and unique. The context of his retrospective, the now-closed former Italian deli/time warp, and his decades-long single-minded exploration of a material that has shifted from anachronistic to trendy, in an area that has seen millions poured into its regeneration, functions as a powerful memorial for an outdated social circumstance. The individual pieces in the collection become irrelevant in the face of the collection as a whole; their importance lies in what they signify: “It’s a man’s life’s work.” Their juxtaposition with the gallery space creates the memorial, for a shop, an artist and a shifting area. The exhibition itself, as Cornelia says, is “as much about the history of Kings Cross, a bit of recent history, as anything else. It’s acknowledgement, and bringing people into the space to think about that. To think about changes in the area, and the future.” Alex Frost’s use of ceramics in Property Guardian serve as a bookend on the other side of this process; rather than the outcome of a borderline mono-maniacal material interrogation/catharsis, his are jagged assemblies, evocations of the
Photography: Dante Traynor
familiar reshaped into sculpture. As objects, there are no comparisons to be made with Geddes’ work beyond the material. The context of their display, though, the issues and themes raised in Property Guardian – even the name, referencing a contemporary and insecure means of living – manifest the consequences and outcomes of the same changes that have made Geddes’ exhibition significant as a memorial, rather than just a spectacle of eccentric curios. In this sense, the narrative of gentrification is bookended by these two exhibitions. A Resident Artist and an Artist-in-Residence, in their occupation of mutually opposing positions, force an interrogation of an inexorable and complicated social change. Property Guardian by Alex Frost runs at Flat Time House from 5 June to 2 August. Jim Geddes: A Retrospective ran through May, for more information visit corneliamarland.com
Photography: Dante Traynor
Property Guardian, 2015
Clio Peppiatt: Pretty in Pink We waste no time getting started with Clio Peppiatt. In the first 10 minutes of our conversation we cover topics as far reaching as the complexity of the modern woman, fashion’s lack of diversity and fetishisation of youth, and the loud, voluptuous lady sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle. The much-loved emerging designer dives in by telling us about her Female Matters exhibition. Co-curated with Ione Gamble, Editor-in-Chief of the proudly trashy zine Polyester, the event explores sexual liberation in the 21st century. Along with over 30 artists, photographers and creatives, the designer is customising a pair of knickers to coincide with the event. They are to go on display on a washing line in Shoreditch in a bid to raise money and awareness of female genital mutilation. “The reason we’ve taken this stance,” she tells us, “is to get people to come in and feel able to talk about it in an environment that’s not intimidating.” It’s not the only potent collaboration she’s working on. Her Autumn/Winter ‘15 collection includes three handbags, the first collaboration between Peppiatt and accessories designer Sara Sboul. Sboul’s heart-shaped doggy clutches are so in sync with Peppiatt’s crafty, emoticonembracing sensibility that you wonder how they weren’t already sipping from the same punch bowl for years before now.
Words: Cassandra Kirk Photography: Chloé Rosolek
These two designers are part of a wave of London talent, including Cassandra Verity Green, Piers Atkinson and Ashley Williams, who are disregarding definitions
of good and bad taste with their alternative fabrics, neon palettes, pop imagery and faux furs. Indeed, such concepts feel like anachronisms when observing the output of this creative set, where craft, detail and fun is placed at the heart of all work. Feminism is also a big part of Peppiatt’s vision. She aims to confront the realities faced by modern women through myriad textures and patterns, though the message at heart is really quite simple: you can be whatever you want to be. “When I first set out I had a really strong feeling that a lot of the time, when a designer presents a collection, it’s for this kind of girl, or that kind of girl,” she declares. “It’s often quite a two-dimensional representation of what a woman is. I try to present a multi-layered, real woman. That’s reflected in a very literal sense with print, embroidery, beading, working with layers, and also by having a range of different garments just to reflect the fact that you don’t wear the same thing every day. It depends on what mood you’re in and how you wake up feeling, how you want to represent yourself that day.” The reductive portrayal of women – whether it’s through age, race or attitude – is something that continues to crop up in the industry. A backlash to fashion’s minimalist tendencies, the multi-faceted modern woman is a core element to Peppiatt’s vision, striving to evoke complexity in collections that are cohesive. “I’m interested in presenting traditional femininity with something new,” she explains. “The pink colour palette, embellishment and fluffy textures are all traditionally linked to femininity. I’m also interpreting handcraft – crochet, needlework, all of those things that women traditionally did – in a modern way, as well as trying to pull different ideas of femininity into one so you have a wellrounded representation of a woman.” She describes her aesthetic as a melting pot of femininity, combining oft-fetishised materials like latex and leather with cute, pretty details like crochet and beading. “I build up layers of different techniques and textures on quite a simple, wearable shape, just so that it’s not too close to costume – not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Peppiatt graduated from Ravensbourne University with a BA in Fashion Print and
Womenswear in 2013. From the age of 16, she began securing placements with fashion houses during the summer breaks. Interning at Cassette Playa and Madrid-based Agatha de la Prada no doubt consolidated her love of bold colour and pattern – the latter’s upturned umbrella skirts, ball pool dresses and fried egg prints make Jeremy Scott’s Moschino look discreet. Printed on a cropped shirt from Peppiatt’s current Spring/Summer ‘15 collection are heavy-lidded eyes, muscly mermen in sailor caps and cocktails complete with pink umbrellas. This bedecks a backdrop of patchwork pattern: zig-zags, love hearts, and tablecloth squares. The detail of the print does indeed verge on maniacal. “I’ve always really loved detail,” Peppiatt explains. “I will sit for hours and hours working on something and really enjoy it.” The coming Autumn/Winter collection
“When you are discussing serious ideas, making them inviting with colour and detail helps,” Peppiatt explains. “Maybe it’s about drawing people in. But yeah, I’ve always liked shiny things, pink and shiny things!” Throughout our conversation, 70s fashion, the work of Grayson Perry and Niki de Saint Phalle are all cited as influences for Peppiatt’s bright, uncompromising style. Indeed, those three points of reference are a good way to summarise her work: joyful, political and profoundly feminine. Find more information about Clio Peppiatt’s latest collection at cliopeppiatt.co.uk
“I try to present a multi-layered, real woman. Not a two-dimensional representation of what a woman is”
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
features patchworked stripes of alternating coloured fur and love hearts. A bubblegum pink velour leotard wears a textured blue and yellow heart on the crotch, calling to mind Vivienne Westwood’s fig leaf bodystocking from 1989.
Aesthetic: Kali Uchis Kali Uchis looks like her music sounds. All pout, heavy eyeliner and thrifted outfits, her Bridgette Bardot blonde betrays a love of sixties and seventies soul and the open-minded culture embroiled within it. Her pretty-but-tough look is echoed in her raspy vocals, equal parts Amy Winehouse and Astrud Gilberto, effortlessly switching from sugary gloss to Latino sass. Take, for example, the video for the ascendant Columbian-born, LAbased artist’s track Ride. The video’s dreamy haze encapsulates her creative vision: a soft focus daydream with a warm, vintage soundtrack. Inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s seventies-style exploitation flick Deathproof, it’s an ode to the freedom found on the open road, a mirage of pastel tones, the sprawling LA highway and, crucially, lowrider cars. Enchanted by its impulsive, uninhibited nature, she consistently references the lowrider subculture of 70s California. “In Colombia, everyone has old school cars because it’s the third world, and every once in a while when I saw a beautiful lowrider it was like spotting a unicorn,” Uchis tells us. “I couldn’t wait to be the girl inside of one.“ Kali's saccharine sound blends decades and styles, gaining notoriety – and support from the likes of Snoop Dogg and Rick Rubin – after navigating vintage samples on her 2013 debut Drunken Babble. Her voice has recently found a home on the Por Vida EP, a ninetrack rush of modern soul produced by the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Kaytranada.
Citing the likes of Edie Sedgwick as influences, her penchant for pastel pink, Playboy and retro clothing constructs a style that can only be described as iconic. Although seventies vixen may not have always been her signature look, Uchis has long been unconventional when it comes to fashion. Preceding the fashion industry’s current love for seventies bohemia, it’s the evolution of her staunchly individual approach to style. “I detest trends or brand names,” she declares. “I prefer to make my own clothes and use style as another creative outlet rather than buy expensive clothes that everyone else wants.” This DIY sensibility sees Kali remain firmly in the driver’s seat; directing videos, designing artwork and producing her own line of merchandise that includes her own pin-up posters, framed reading vintage Playboy or lounged luxuriously over the hood of a vintage Cadillac. Kali’s allusion to lowrider cool isn’t the only theme permeating her creative concepts. Her visuals are a near utopian vision of unity, freedom and female empowerment, creating worlds where the sugar crushed fantasy of her music can live. “Being raised between Colombia and the U.S has made me see the world in a different light,” she explains. “I was very aware that my present circumstances were always malleable and that there’s a whole other world out there, no matter if you feel stuck. You can live so many different lives just inside this one.” Por Vida is out now
Photographer: Charlotte Rutherford Styling: Charlotte James Make Up: Jess Taylor Hair: Shiori Takahashi Stylist Assistant: Susan Daniel Location: Poodle & Blonde House Models: Jaime Jarvis, Jennifer Lo, Yasmin Ogbu Words: Anna Tehabsim
Kali Coat: Beyond Retro Belt: Beyond Retro Necklace: Mary Benson Sunglasses: Heidi London Shoes: McQ by Alexander McQueen Girl Gang (L to R) - Jamie Jacket: Rokit Skirt: American Apparel Shoes: Model's own Jennifer Top: Beyond Retro Trousers: Paper Dress Vintage Hat: Atom Retro Boots: Xuzhi Yasmin Jacket: NOTHING SPECIAL Top: American This Apparel Spread Skirt: American Apparel Dress: Tata Naka Boots: Atom Retro Beret: Mary Benson
This Page Dress: Beyond Retro Opposite Page Jacket: Stylists Own Skirt: Sasha Lousie Latex Eye Patch: Atsuko Kudo
This Page Dress: Rokit Necklace: Maria Francesca Pepe
Opposite Page Dress: Tata Naka Beret: Mery Benson
Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York
Over of the Easter Weekend of this year, we partnered with Red Bull Music Academy for a date on the Bristol leg of their UK tour. The party, dubbed Lords Of The Manor, hosted the likes of Danny Brown, Mumdance, Novelist and his crew The Square in a Grade 1 listed 18th century manor house. The event felt unique, and it was part of a wider series of events whose focus revolved around the curation of an events venue and concept as much as any individual performance. This mantra is the cornerstone of what makes the output of Red Bull Music Academy particularly exciting. Finding the talent to perform in the right spaces requires contacts, planning and money. We’re in New York for a week, taking in five events; two conversational and three live shows. With New York acting as the backdrop, it’s hard to think of another city worldwide whose heritage can give up such devoted audiences to so many disparate strains of music. Every event we attend over the week is well frequented and as we maraud from Manhattan to Brooklyn the sheer variation of taste, people and sound New York throws up in relatively short distances from each other is astounding. In order to give you an idea of the variation and quality on show, it’s easier to mention some of the events we missed due to time constraints restricting us from decamping in Brooklyn for a month: a three night residency from FKA twigs in a hangar, a conversation with A$AP Rocky, PC Music’s Pop Cube event, a night called Yardcore
celebrating the best in new dancehall and the opening night, which showcased new electronic African music. The first event we attend is the Conversation with George Clinton. Tired and slightly jet-lagged, hearing the crown prince of funk reel off anecdotes about Motown, Sly Stone and his current work with Kendrick Lamar in his own inimitable style is both a revealing insight into the man’s musicianship but also how, despite his years, both his wicked sense of humour and keen grasp on cultural shifts are still firmly intact. As we move onto Brooklyn’s Output club for a noise night of the weightiest proportions, the change of vibe couldn’t be more marked. What exists within the realm of this music is a constant sense of struggle; not so much for acceptance – it’s absurd for music so frayed at the edges to ever consider such a thing – but rather, with the canon of noise itself. It’s almost impossible to make music with such obtusity at its core without approaching sound from a place fraught with friction, or damage. Margaret Chardiet’s live projection of her noise project Pharmakon draws on all this inner turmoil to shuddering effect, the intensity of her vocal the most immediate variable in question. Genesis P-Orridge and Aaron Dilloway of Wolf Eyes perform the first ever rendition of GPO’s Electric Newspaper album created under the Psychic TV moniker. The disconcerting tones of GPO’s voice adds dread, but the intense strobing makes you feel too transfixed to escape. The night ends with Japanese pioneer Merzbow’s onslaught, surely the most intense act of the night so far. Eyes close and we surrender to the bombarding wall of sound. After a period of recovery, we move on to a round table discussion between four hugely respected beatmakers at Red Bull Studios in Manhattan. Che Pope,
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
65 Words: Thomas Frost Photography: Maria Jose Govea + Drew Gurian
Word has spread of a special performance, and following Forest Swords’ set, a masked woman takes position behind the decks. The set that unfolds includes Tri Angle releases, Kate Bush, Cut Hands, Death Grips, Brandy and grime instrumentals that are often merged with female vocals. And while the novelty of major stars DJing is sometimes slightly ruined by dubious technical ability, Björk’s set showcases her dexterity as well as her impeccable taste.
9th Wonder, Just Blaze and Khyrsis have collectively produced records for the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Blackstreet, Kendrick Lamar, Destiny’s Child, Lauryn Hill, The Fugees and many more. The A-League was in town for two hours of chatter, with topics that ranged from securing yourself against rogue artists who owe you money and don’t pay up, to production inspiration that featured enough enthusiasm to make anyone want to buy an MPC. The following night was one of the most unique events across the whole calendar. On 23 Wall St there is a deserted building that used to belong to the financial institution JP Morgan before they presumably upped and left to make more money in another big building in the Wall St area. The New York Stock Exchange sits opposite with the digital display of the day’s closing trade figures scrolling past for the dedicated financier, or whatever you might call them. Watching this from our viewpoint in line for Tri Angle Records 5th birthday, it all feels a bit strange. But as we are ushered inside to take our place downstairs in the dark vault of the old bank complex, the picture becomes clearer.
Rounding off our time in New York, we experienced an extremely special event channelling the earliest period of New York’s rave culture. The Brooklyn warehouse where tonight’s re-imagining of the original Storm Rave is taking place is perfect; long, thin, bricky and wonderfully apt for a massive rave. The story goes that one DJ Frankie Bones (real name Frank Mitchell) was booked to play an event in the UK called Energy in 1989. Due to the nature of the event, cultivating the freeparty/acid house/rave explosion in the UK at the time, Bones ended up playing in front of 25,000 people. Feeling somewhat inspired, Frankie brought the sounds and rave philosophy he’d encountered and set about promoting and pushing his own Storm Rave parties in Brooklyn. Tonight’s event is a celebration of everything that made the Storm Rave so unifying and revolutionary for those who attended during its heyday. The production in the venue is unparalleled yet again, with punishing sound and suitably full-on lighting to match the intensity of the music.
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
It’s heavy stuff, as techno, hardcore and even hardstyle make an appearance as the music moves into the more extreme and dislocating areas of dance music. Those who live in the New York area have had huge opportunities to see music on a scale that isn’t usually possible in conventional gig spaces. And whether it be the Bristol party, the New York festival, or the Paris takeover which is taking place later this year, it’s a commitment to presenting compelling programmes that connects Red Bull Music Academy’s events together. For highlights from RBMA NY and to find out whats coming up next, head to www.redbullmusicacademy.com
STEALING SHEEP NOT REAL OUT NOW
EAVES WHAT GREEN FEELS LIKE OUT NOW
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD QUARTERS! OUT NOW
HEAVY LOVE DUKE GARWARD OUT NOW
TOY JOIN THE DOTS OUT NOW
KID WAVE WONDERLUST OUT NOW
Live FLYING LOTUS Brixton Academy 1 May
“Portishead is from here, right?” Silence. It’s been five and a half years since Tyler, The Creator first released his ambitious debut full length Bastard. And while roughly half of Odd Future’s early catalogue featured Tyler’s blissfully spaced-out, post-N.E.R.D. production, it’s the aggressive material and the juvenile behaviour that’s made him the household name he is today. Tonight's set is built mainly around tracks from new album Cherry Bomb and 2013’s Wolf, and although there’s plenty jazzier material such as Perfect / Fucking Young and Bimmer aired, moshpits sporadically break out to energetic renditions of Domo23, Rella and Tamale. At one point during the set, Odd Future hypeman Jasper throws up onstage. Somehow, a fan called Gareth is then challenged to climb the stage and lick the vomit for £80. Tyler looks like he doesn’t really want it to happen: “I’m giving you ten seconds before I change my mind,” he declares. But Gareth makes it onstage in time, he laps up Jasper’s puke with enthusiasm and everyone groans. So yes Tyler, Portishead are from here. But so is your puke-eating fanboy Gareth. And no matter how many credible references you make, no matter how many Roy Ayres-indebted tracks you make, there’ll probably always be a few Gareths ready to meet you wherever you go.
! Henry Johns
THE GRE AT ESCAPE Various Venues, Brighton 14 - 16 May If anyone had any doubts that The Great Escape is the most important UK music festival for new bands, new trends and making new friends, then they most certainly got blown out of the water this year. 10 years in, and TGE went harder than ever before. We kicked off Thursday at many a TGE stalwart’s favourite venue, Komedia, for recent Crack cover star and future pop princess Tei Shi. Her sultry dreamery wooed us all as she asked her mesmerised (and heaving) crowd “Do you like slow dancing? I do,” before crooning Go Slow and Bassically from her Verde EP. Star power. Friday saw us trundle along to the PRS showcase to see marvelous Manchunians Spring King, whose incredibly talented anti-front man Tarek Musa dwarfed all other indie bands of the weekend. Later came one of our best discoveries – Tkay Maizda, who shook the rafters of Brighton super club Coalition with her MIAinfluenced turbo-powered rap. To Saturday, where all eyes fell on The Dome; we shined our boots and hit the pit for Stormzy followed by Skepta and JME. Demanding full energy of their audience at all times, they play one another’s hype man powering through Straight Up and That’s Not Me, before Skepta takes a step back to appreciate the crowd, muttering “fucking hell” a few dozen times. The night ends with an absolutely raucous mosh pit for Shut Down, and it’s just as well it’s the end of the night, and the weekend, because what could possibly follow this at a festival which strives to prophesise the future of British music? Nothing. ! Lucie Grace N Mike Burnell
AMERICAN FOOTBALL Electric Ballroom, London 14 May
LOVE SAVE THE DAY Eastville Park, Bristol 23-24 May It once felt like the city centre’s Castle Park would always be the spiritual home of Love Saves The Day. You didn’t have to travel far to feel soaked in the love of 7000 or so music enthusiasts losing inhibitions in a field, in fact, it was happening right on your doorstep. It was with trepidation, then, that we arrive at their new, expanded location in Eastville Park. But we needn’t have worried: the production this year was the most impressive yet, with the offer of getting married in an inflatable church, sipping cocktails from a caravan, trying not to break a limb at the rollerdisco, or getting down to the hedonistic glitter-smothered orgy that was Shambarber’s Temple of Lust: a sure highlight of the event. As for musical highlights, we closed Saturday out to rock solid sets from Âme and Craig Richards, conserving our energy for the relay of Ghost Culture, Daniel Avery, Floating Points and Four Tet on Sunday’s Crack Stage. Having also soaked up a late afternoon burst of sunshine during Kelela’s laidback, sensual set and then hyped ourselves up to DJ EZ, the pinnacle of the weekend came in the form of Skepta’s headline slot. The level of interest in grime right now cannot be underestimated, and if there was one glaring error of judgement on the organiser’s behalf, it was that a few of the MCs on the line up needed to be on a bigger stage. But all in all, Love Saves The Day was a successful upgrade in size. Now that the doors are open to bigger crowds and line-ups, the hard part will be to maintain Love Save The Day’s carefree atmosphere. !
! Jason Hunter Martin Thompson
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
Jason Hunter + Farah Hayes N Mike Massaro
Ah, the reunion tour. Quickly becoming the superlative musical cliché of our age, the near-guarantee that any leftfield punk or indie rock band from the tail-end of the 20th century will be creakily doing the rounds again over the next 12 months is as soul-destroying as it is money-sapping. Normally, I’d remain cynical, but the ‘return’ of American Football – the highly influential, jazzy Chicago emo band whose tiny back catalogue was released to quiet acclaim in the late 90s/early-00s – is too intriguing to ignore, not least because they were largely a studio band first time round. Expectation inevitably weighs heavy but, thankfully, it’s pretty much met. Aside from a typically morose Mike Kinsella, the band – Steve Lamos, guitarist Steve Holmes, and touring bassist/cousin/Birthmark dude Nate Kinsella – look delighted to be playing, doubtless compounded by the fact that they were never, ever this popular first time round. They’re note perfect, too, playing much all of the self-titled album and EP, as well as the reissue cut, The 7s. But I’m still left relatively cold. Ultimately, this was an enjoyable hour or so of heritage emo that managed to not to fuck up my love of American Football’s back catalogue which, as far as reunion tours go, is usually the best you can hope for. ! Thomas Howells
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
T YLER , THE CRE ATOR O2 Academy, Bristol 15 May
It’s bright daylight outside, and touts are trying to shift half price tickets for tonight, seemingly unimpressed by the last minute line-up substitution of illusive cult rapper/producer DOOM with illusive cult rapper/producer Jay Electronica. So, DOOM didn’t make it, in FlyLo’s words “he flaked”. But Jay Electronica is one hell of a last minute replacement. He steals the crowd – quite literally – as he orders audience members onto the stage (“He’s with me, she’s with me, he’s fuckin with me, let him on the stage”) while security quibble over whether or not they’ll get fired if they obey his demands. The visual artists involved with FlyLo’s I’m Dead tour should have been credited on the line-up. White bug eyes bounce about amongst their metamorphosing purgatorial comic book world, and are attached to Flying Lotus’s head. It’s a seemingly tangible interplay between the real world and simulation where real objects (like the DJ) and illusions (like a giant floating crystal) are indistinct in the controlled space of the stage. The set itself feels heavier than the album, but hooks from Cosmogramma and Pattern + Grid World come off the best. With added help from Thundercat, their cover of Kendrick Lamar’s Complexion is stunning and hypnotic, taking the show back to earth briefly, before it collapses back into multi-dimensional flux.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
DUKE DUMONT / EATS EVERYTHING GORGON CITY / JAMIE JONES / LOCO DICE MACEO PLEX / MK / NINA KRAVIZ / SETH TROXLER SIGMA / TEN WALLS LIVE / WILKINSON ÂME / AMINE EDGE & DANCE / APOLLONIA / BICEP / BONDAX / B.TRAITS / CAJMERE CATZ ‘N DOGZ / CHEZ DAMIER / DARIUS SYROSSIAN / DAVID RODIGAN MBE DERRICK CARTER / DENSE & PIKA / DJ SNEAK / DUSKY / EJECA / FRICTION GEORGE FITZGERALD / GREEN VELVET / HANNAH WANTS / HEIDI / HUXLEY / JOY ORBISON JUSTIN MARTIN / KINK LIVE / MISTAJAM / OLIVER DOLLAR / PATRICK TOPPING PAUL WOOLFORD / REDLIGHT RICHY AHMED / ROUTE 94 / SECONDCITY / SCUBA / SHY FX SKREAM / STEVE LAWLER / SUBB-AN / THE MAGICIAN / TODDLA T / WAZE & ODYSSEY ANDREA OLIVA / ARKIVE / ARTWORK / BLONDE / CEDRIC MAISON / CERA ALBA / CHRIS LORENZO / CITIZENN DEATH ON THE BALCONY / DIMENSION / DJ HYPE / DJ EZ / DOORLY / DUNGEON MEAT / ETON MESSY DJS FRIEND WITHIN / GEDDES / GOTSOME / GRAIN / GRAINGER / ISAAC TICHAUER / JAYMO AND ANDY GEORGE JAX JONES / JONAS RATHSMAN / JUST KIDDIN / KARMA KID / KOVE / LANE 8 / LAST MAGPIE / LUKAS MAK & PASTEMAN / MATTHEW STYLES / MEDIATE / MIKE JONES / MJ COLE / MONKI / MY NU LENG NICOLA BEAR / NORTH BASE / PBR STREETGANG / PEOPLE GET REAL / RALPH LAWSON / RONI SIZE SHADOW SHAD CHILD / SHALL OCIN / SIMON BAKER / SPECIAL REQUEST / STAR SLINGER / STE ROBERTS / TCTS THE SONIC EMPORIUM / TOM TRAGO / wAFF / WAYWARD FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT WWW.HIDEOUTFESTIVAL.COM
URBAN GROW PYR AMID Urban Outfitters £40 urbanoutfitters.com This indoor greenhouse (or terrarium, to give it its full title) will do a great job of giving your urban plants a fighting chance at life in the smog-filled paradise you've chosen to call home.
MUSLIMGAUZE: CHASING THE SHADOW OF BRYN JONES Ibrahim Khider £45.99 boomkat.com Trying to get your head around Bryn Jones' work as Muslimgauze is a daunting task, so it's handy that someone's written a book about the mysterious Mancunian producer. Dedicating his work to the endless, ongoing struggles in the Muslim world years before Dominick Fernow attempted the same via his Vatican Shadow project, the 200+ albums he recorded remain seminal in their polyrhymthic, post-noise techno stylings and politically-charged agendas. If you don't know then get to know.
SUN RISE SET Lousy Livin Company €36 smallville-records.com Smallville - the sick label outta Hamburg - has relied on the artworking skills of Stefan Marx since the beginning. His naive doodles have become as recognisable as the deep, playful house and techno 12"s they adorn. If you're not convinced by the vinyl resurgence however, you could do worse than to pick up one of these shirts from the man himself (through the Smallville shop of course).
USB CHARGEDOUBLER WN Products €7 chargedoubler.com Technically you can't buy this yet as it's still deep in the Kickstarter phase, but seeing as they reached their funding target within 10 hours (and currently sloshing around about 1400% above that), it's safe to say that the ability to charge your phone twice as fast as you ever thought possible is well within your grasp.
YELLOW IK AT POLK A DOT BAG Pleats Please Issey Miyake £245 liberty.co.uk Working again with his iconic heat-pressed, pleated techniques, here Miyake contrasts a symmetrical ikat design with a clean polka dot pattern on the reverse. Classic Issey Miyake vibes all over.
F O R M A T : IN YOUR HANDS (EDIT ) Trevor Jackson £40 vfeditions.com Trust Trevor Jackson to take the fetishisation of the physical musical format to its logical conclusion. He's decided to release his latest album, F O R M A T, on nine different formats (see what he did there?), including Mini Disc, DAT, 7" vinyl, 8-track, and, as seen here, VHS. Choose your own adventure.
Technically a women's shoe, I could see these being pulled off just as well by a sharply-dressed young man. Regardless of your gender, the smooth leather, sewndown tongue and clean finish offer something for everyone. Another hit from COS, aka the posh H&M.
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
SLIP- ON LE ATHER SNE AKERS COS £89 cosstores.com
JENNY HVAL Apocalypse, girl Sacred Bones
If you don’t know much about Faith No More there’s a high chance you think they’re either a second rate Red Hot Chilli Peppers or a first rate Lionel Richie. The truth is, they’re neither. They’re a musical curiosity. Beloved by everyone from King Buzzo to Danny DeVito for their audacious experiments that sit loosely in the ‘metal’ framework and, of course, their unerring sense of humour. On Sol Invictus – their first album in 18 years – Mike Patton’s tongue remains firmly in his cheek. The histrionic track Matador is almost parodical in just how Patton its ostentatious madness actually is. His players are still pushing their genre’s boundaries in strange (and marvellous) directions. The thunderous slap-bass on tracks like Superhero recall the metal oddness of the band’s 1989 mega-hit Epic. There’s even reggae vibrations and enough Pungi to charm a decent-sized snake on Rise of the Fall and a healthy dose of Tomahawk-style theatrics on Motherfucker. Tomahawk, I should add, is just one of Patton’s many, many side projects. His sabbatical from FNM has been filled with bands, production and various – often confusing – collaborations. While you’d think this would seep into his vision, 18 years of playing away hasn’t really changed Patton’s approach to Faith No More. The upshot is that Sol Invictus is a solid Faith No More album. The only real mystery is quite why it took them 18 years to make it.
Apocalypse, girl opens with a quote from the Danish poet Mette Moestrup. One of Scandinavia’s most important contemporary writers, Moestrup struck a chord with readers for her provocative, mischievous poetry about the female body. In this respect, she draws many parallels with Norwegian artist Jenny Hval, whose fifth solo record is a trip. Its woozy mesh of ideas spiral from childhood dreams to post-feminism via Armageddon, her unrestrained vocal delivery ranging from lush, nondescript tones to hilariously lucid imagery, like the spoken word introduction likening the cupcake to “the huge, capitalist clit.” A politically charged fever dream, its wild rush in and out of concepts and form often sits somewhere between reality and fantasy. Yet, while being both eerie and alluring, Hval has used Apocalypse, girl to apply ideas such as post-feminist deception and the traps of domestic pursuits to a pop palette, and it’s in this she secures her most rewarding results. Twisting pop-informed ideas around a narrative of introspection and mass destruction, she navigates an axis of clarity that aims to bring universal ideas into focus with razor sharp wit: joining the dots between female experience through extreme close ups and sprawling existential narratives. From the epic Primal Screamesque shakers on The Battle Is Over, the lush orchestral swells of Heaven or the bouncy skewed organs of Why This, Hval’s placement of avant-garde vocal experiments over an ebullient soundtrack is seamless. This soft hallucinatory experience reaches its peak on Sabbath. “I’m six or seven and dreaming I’m a boy,” she begins. It’s a lucid depiction of warping gender identity, at once focused and abstract, set to a bright, skittering pace. Confounding, yes, but thrillingly satisfying nonetheless.
It's odd to think Snoop Dogg was once feared by the curtain-twitching classes. With no-holds-barred lyrics that depicted sex, gangster culture and, of course, weed, Snoop was one of several 'bad influences' in the 1990s. White America was scared of black men who wouldn't "behave", brashly successful and irreverent (to a large extent, it still is). Then, like many of his peers (Ice Cube foremost among them), Snoop transitioned from putative gangsta to avuncular entertainer, to the point where Snoop could dedicate a song to Prince William's stag do without a trace of malice. His way into the establishment has been markedly breezy, achieved through sheer charisma and some great songs. If the social commentary is gone, the sex and drugs remain. With Bush, Snoop has produced an homage to the P-funk and RnB of the 70s, the Bootsie Collins / George Clinton vibe, in a haze of innuendo and laid back posturing. Opener California Roll benefits from Stevie Wonder's vocals and harmonica, the Midas touch of Pharrell, and some just-about-nottedious lyrics on weed. But it soon becomes clear that while these joint efforts have produced easy, fun listening, there's no variety here. Each track merges unremarkably into the next, lending the album a listless, workmanlike feel. No risks have been taken whatsoever. Lead single Peaches 'n' Cream is another highlight, but there's nothing here to match previous career highs of any of its main participants. Bush came about a decade too late. Much like Snoop, the album is immensely likeable - just a little half-baked.
‘No label, no PR, no publisher…’ so goes JME’s Twitter bio, ‘no meat, no dairy no egg.’ He’s an independent artist who abstains from the spoils of hedonism. A 16-bar grafter, he's grime’s tireless lifer with the ethical mettle to safeguard the genre’s integrity. And it’s with this stringent teetotalism that we begin to understand the MC’s steady ascendancy. Rooted in his Boy Better Know enterprise, he spits like the educator of reason; “If you want something, work towards it.” JME works hard, and as Integrity> attests, hard work pays off. Yet while JME preaches over the fruits of veganism and the toils of A&R depravity, there is a storming vocal aggression that uppercuts the purls of his production. Behind the computer console accreditations, the Nazir Mazhar citations and internet meme quotes is an unquenched ferocity fuelled by the desire to be self-sufficient in an unforgiving social climate. In Work, JME belittles the luxuries of debauchery while celebrating his own morality over a trap-rooted warble and industrial clinks. In Man Don’t Care, his verbal physicality is pitiless, swearing to box anyone in the mouth with his BMW X6 key if they try to violate his lifework. By all means, this is all just hyped up trash talk, but his bars are sprayed with such brute professionalism that we can allow ourselves to suspend disbelief. JME’s plucky berating of industry naysayers is Integrity>’s primary objective. During an awkward period in grime where some aim to monopolise on the false idea of a genre’s resurgence, these 16 songs play out as a razor-sharp recoil to such a pretence. And while the zeal is infinitely refreshing, there is enough familiarity to appeal to purists. Appearances from the scene’s mainstays including D Double E, Jammer, Frisco and JME’s brother, Skepta, act as a sign of camaraderie. The inclusion of longtime collaborator Deeco, along with eski-tinted mixes from Rude Kid, Teeza, Joker, Swifta Beater, and Preditah provide the homespun devilry for JME’s playful mischief. Much like previous albums Famous? and Blam!, the Lord of the Mics charm and schoolyard slander is ubiquitous: “I came to this planet, a 8lbs caesarean/ Now, I’m a badmanarean”, “Smiling ear to ear/ Revving hard like he’s got a Dark Charizard.” With Skepta’s Konnichiwa a swift album leak away, Integrity> plays as the perfect precursor to a year that will see the Boy Better Know brand’s longevity solidified. All of those years constructing flatpacks for reasonably priced snapbacks, hosting impromptu rap battles and denying a commercial stigma accusing the genre’s innovators of encouraging gang violence, grime is now reaping the benefits it is duly owed. And JME’s Integrity> is the end product of grime’s militant immortality.
Stories abound about the recording process for this third full-length from No Joy. One of the most interesting is that the gloomy Montreal shoegaze outfit apparently holed themselves up in a Costa Rican farmhouse for 12-hour mixing sessions once the recording sessions were done and dusted. Of course, anybody familiar with Jasmine White-Glutz and Laura Lloyd won’t be especially surprised; the band’s modus operandi involves painstakingly building compositions with densely-layered guitar overdubs and treated, multi-tracked vocals as a cumulative sonic onslaught of shock and awe. The difference this time though is the sheer, Herculean size of it all. More Faithful is a finely-sculpted monument of grandiosity and complexity, a record that sounds genuinely epic in scale and ambition. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gambit though, one that requires exceptionally strong material to avoid songs collapsing in on themselves. Unfortunately, there aren’t quite enough hooks here to make things work. In fairness, where More Faithful does succeed, the results are utterly sublime. I Am An Eye Machine gradually builds a head of steam before exploding into life with a gnarled, hulking mass of guitar; layer upon layer of riffs coalescing into an orgiastic climax. Oftentimes though, songs seem to fall over, lurching into oblivion without ever really getting going. Fuzz-fests like Corpo Daemon recall Hüsker Dü without the riffs, while Chalk Snake sort of just lumbers around aimlessly. Patient listeners will doubtless find reward but this is just too much like hard work.
! Billy Black
! Anna Tehabsim
! Robert Bates
! Tom Watson
! James F. Thompson
FAITH NO MORE Sol Invictus Ipecac Records
SNOOP DOGG Bush Columbia
NO JOY More Faithful Mexican Summer
JME Integrity> Boy Better Know
CONTAINER LP Spectrum Spools Yeah you ‘eard, someone’s gone let Ren Schofield back behind his infernal hardware for more punishing techno cuts from the frothing banks of the swamp. If there’s one thing this man knows damn well, it’s that after midnight, your party needs way more nutter vibes, and god love him he’s 110% willing to oblige you. LP delivers another seven tracks tailor-made to clear the room, giving the real players space to go taps aff in the kitchen and throw down for half an hour, probably in the pitch black once the lighting gets taken out. This will happen within the first four seconds. Opener Eject is the sonic equivalent of someone pouring a pint of cow's blood into an overcrowded piranha tank. It carries on in this vein. Cushion’s mutant acid erupts in a flurry of razor sharp hats and a diabolical synthline, perpetually descending. Peripheral comes through like a shit-faced Schofield bulldozing through the side of the club in a flaming JCB, taking out half its occupants and giving you the excuse you’ve been waiting for to run home, lock your doors and stick some fucking Air on, or whatever your middling after-hours jam is. Ren don’t care. Let’s talk quickly about the one problem track on this record though, i.e. the one that for some reason tries to slow things down. Calibrate, the closer, is a truly unpleasant excursion into that weird realm of mid-tempo industrial. It’s so grotesque it’s actually kind of brilliant, particularly towards the end when Schofield dumps a tonne of screaming, glitched-out frequencies over the top of it. In fact, forget it, it’s totally great. Stick it on again.
Part of the school of intellectual pop that politely but insistently rolled into town three years back, Django Django’s second record has them on as similarly good form as on their first – though lacking the kind of statement singles like Default and Hail Bop that cemented their royalties from EA Sports for years to come. No longer the bedroom composers they once were, on Born Under Saturn the band discard the lo-fi and surf elements of their previous material in favour of thudding piano house to bolster their trademark harmonies and soaring choruses. Pause Repeat sees them master this with aplomb, the verses building to its buoyant if jittery chorus, reminiscent of a more focused Animal Collective. Elsewhere Shake and Tremble sees a bit of a return to first album favourite Love’s Dart in its airtight, we-know-this-works structure and attention grabbing opening FX, whilst Found You allows the band to go sultry, pentatonic and mysterious, cracking out the music lesson güiro and playing it fucking cool for five minutes or so. There is no particular U-turn to be seen in the Djangos’ formula here, but their Devo meets New Order mix nonetheless remains a potent one, and timely considering the onslaught of BBCcovered festival montages (or just festivals) this record will soon be soundtracking. It’s almost as if they knew.
Ciara champions tracks that soundtrack both the night out and the morning after; pillow-talk pop alongside bottle-service bangers. It is a totally thrilling and timeless formula. Remarkable then, that throughout the entirety of her career she has always seemed to be a few steps from real world-conquering superstardom. She has always been a slightly off-centre force in RnB, opting for enigma be the fuel for her seductiveness. Jackie is her sixth studio LP, and it’s a very comfortable sounding album. Tracks like Lullaby and Give Me Love tiptoe around the periphery of being commercial dance efforts. Ciara’s featherweight vocal style is a lot more suited to hushed balladry than it is to these semi-EDM numbers. Similarly, putting Pitbull toe-to-toe with Missy Elliot on That’s How I’m Feeling feels like a misfire for all involved. Highlights come in the form of I Bet (where a series of staccato ad-libs end up sounding an awful lot like Ciara’s ex-beau Future) and opener B.M.F. where the spoken lyric, “Imagine delivering a 9 pound 10 ounce baby / I’m a bad motherfucker” provides one of the record’s only truly carefree moments. It isn’t surprising that this has been Ciara’s worst charting full-length. There is still a place for Ciara’s voice, so it’s a shame that Jackie doesn’t quite make the mark it could have.
Everyone knows that girl pals are the best. So why hasn’t the world been blessed with the triumphant concentration of female friendship we’ve seen in the first quarter of 2015 since the Spiceworld days? There’s Nicki and Beyonce feeding each other cheeseburgers in the Feeling Myself video, T-Swiz and her troupe of hard as nails mates with guns in the Bad Blood video, and an affectionate Chastity Belt singing sex positive odes to friendship for a start. And what about Girlhood, Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road in the cinema? It’s a glut! It’s everywhere you look! It’s marvellous. Girlpool are best friends Harmony and Cleo. There’s only a bass and a guitar, and Harmony and Cleo, and their music conveys a psychic flux. It’s thanks to their spare, shrieking sound that Girlpool are probably the only band in the world that can include glockenspiel on a song about childhood without coming off as total cheeseballs. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that Cleo and Harmony could ever come off as cheesballs. The songs are crushingly sincere: “I feel safest in knowing that I am true”, they sing, unblinking. Their honesty is hypnotic; you’ll strain to hear every word, and then spend the rest of your day trying to decipher it all. Girlpool are calling us out. Why can't we always be our true selves when it can be this good? Before the World was Big is big and it’s fearless, and it feels so easy with Girlpool taking the lead.
! Xavier Boucherat
! Jon Clark
! Duncan Harrison
! Sammy Jones
DJANGO DJANGO Born Under Saturn Ribbon Music
GIRLPOOL Before The World Was Big Wichita CIAR A Jackie Epic Records
17 VARIOUS ARTISTS PC Music Volume I PC Music Here we fecking go eh - all the hits from dance music’s most impassioned cranks, with the exception of the one legitimate ‘hit’ (out of interest, has anyone real gotten hold of an actual can of QT yet? Bell me pronto! My money’s good!). The problem here is that no matter what I write, the joke is effectively on me. “It’s all so simple,” read Hannah Diamond’s tee at Pop Cube, the label’s recent “multimedia reality network” event which saw members of the collective rocking up in limos and greeting fake members of the press, before making their way to the stage where little attempt was made to hide the fact of their pre-recorded sets. Diamond’s tee is a very tongue in cheek way of acknowledging that attempting to critically dig below the pristine gloss of the label’s surface means getting hopelessly caught up in PC Music’s high-flown and contradictory dialogues on artifice within art. Which kind of kills the vibe. But how useful might coming to terms with the post-internet, mutant-idol funsters be? Have PC Music artists, producing at the intersection of irony and sincerity, found new ways to teach us things about ourselves? Hannah Diamond’s heartbroken anthems lay bare the fundamentally arrested development of nearly everyone in their 20s. GFOTY’s ADHD on a track like Don’t wanna / Let’s do it is like being dragged somewhere you really don’t want to go by someone you really, actually want to hang out with. Lipgloss Twins’ Wannabe is the sound of online anxiety creeping into our IRL interactions. But then, such is the fear that PC Music’s mess of contradictions have managed to strike into the hearts of music writers that maybe none of that’s really true? It’s hard to reconcile all of this on a one to twenty rating scale, so let me break down how this has been scored - 2 points for Danny ‘dick in the pants’ Harle for having arguably the funniest moniker out, 2 for those ‘Red Bull own PC Music’ rumours that you yourselves probably started, and 6 for GFOTY who weirdly reminds me of my mum. Jokes on you Cook! For all you know I didn’t even give it a proper listen!
Luke Younger has always been one of the more beguiling noise/ concréte mavens in a UK underground positively brimming with them. But Olympic Mess – a sprawling, hour-long masterpiece of rich textural ambience and, potentially, PAN’s finest release yet – presents an unexpected segue from the subterranean mire of his past work. Instead, Younger reaches skywards, towards the celestial void, and the results are utterly thrilling – a resonant, subtle and masterfully composed opus, in a genre where artists are so often satisfied by blunt frequency abuse and stagnant fugs of ‘mood’. The Hollow Organ, Younger’s last record as Helm, was particularly marked by a grinding claustrophobia that manifested itself in his visceral, piercing live sets. Here, an overarching sense of space pervades, flitting between evoking a dead, distant cosmos, and channelling something more immediate and organic. Balearic house and dub-techno are heavily cited as influences on the record, both of which – along with flecks of library music, Radiophonic soundtracks and a little of the steely, robotic IDM of Autechre – are resplendently prevalent here; the former particularly in the insistent, buried kicks of album centrepiece Outerzone 2015, the latter more widespread but pinpointed in the cavernous acousmatic shufflings of Sky Wax (London). Often Destroyed factors actual strings, a magisterially pastoral drone symbiotically heightened by its bed of static; and, in album closer Sky Wax (NYC), a smothering noise reminiscent of the late, great Yellow Swans’ Going Places. It's as panoramically emotive as it is smothering.
! Xavier Boucherat
! Thomas Howells
HELM Olympic Mess PAN
IVY TRIPP LP / CD
HEYDAYS LP / CD
bEfoRE THE woRLD wAS bIg LP / CD
MuRASAkI EP 12"
bEAuTIfuL woRDS EP 12"
FrAnkiE & THE HEArTSTringS
DECEnCY LP / CD
Donâ€™T wEIgHT Down THE LIgHT LP / CD
A LL RE LE ASE S AL So AVAIL AbL E DIgITAL LY W W W.W i C H i TA- r E CO r d i n g S .CO M
WETDOG Divine Times Upset The Rhythm
DESAPARECIDOS Payola Epitaph
HOT CHIP Why Make Sense? Domino
Son Lux (once the solo project of Ryan Lott, now expanded to include Rafiq Bhatia on guitar and Ian Chang on drums) are a force to be reckoned with when performing live, pirouetting through melodic hairpins, juddering with rhythmic energy. It’s unrealistic to expect this to be completely captured in their recorded output, but previous albums – 2013’s Lanterns in particular – have fizzed with virtuoso vitality. Disappointingly, Bones, the fourth Son Lux full length, doesn’t have the same feel at all. It’s not by any means a terrible album: Lott is an astute lyricist and the arrangements occasionally dazzle. On You Don’t Know Me, Lott’s plaintive, soulful and emotion-drenched vocals sit over whip-crack percussion, pulling the same simple-but-effective trick James Blake manages on Limit to your Love. As on previous work, ghostly female backing vocals add a welcome contrast, the ethereal tones complementing Lott’s furrowed-brow grandstanding. But for the most part, this is a more pious and gloomy set of tracks than previous material, and less loveable for it. Lead single Change is Everything is an exception to the fug that clouds the rest of the album: a triumphant melody lifts the track above the fray. But White Lies erupts into a dystopian, snarling stomp, and ends up sounding too close to pantomime dubstep for comfort. Not Son Lux’s finest hour.
A five-year hiatus may had led you to believe that Wetdog were a mere two-album wonder, confined to nostalgic East London conversations and the occasional ‘related artists’ list on Spotify. This fate didn't sit well with the trio, compelling them to deliver another eerily erratic album of melodic post-punk infused pop songs and atonal harmonies that sees them thrive into the dynamic, weird new wave-charged band they’d previously threatened to be. Despite consistently being shoved into irksome comparisons to The Raincoats and The Fall, Rivka Gillieron, Sarah Datblygu and Billy Easter's appetite for inconsistency banishes resemblance with the two bands, seeing Divine Times' fervent rhythms and bolshy behaviour fashion a genre somewhere between Josef K and Bauhaus. Ridgway Crash is a mesmerising minimalist interlude that spawns goosebumps, opposing the sparse disjointedness of Horse's Head and Sometimes I'm a Bitch's pleasingly piercing vocal melodies, sounding like Marine Girls having their ovaries squeezed. Divine Times' erratic manner can be traced to Datbyglu's relocation to America four years ago, which inevitably led to a Postal Service-esque remote recording affair, and Easter immersing herself in her new band, Shopping. Nevertheless, the band's seductive third album propels its way to potentially be Upset The Rhythm's finest offering of 2015 and brings Wetdog’s considerable qualities gleaming back into focus.
As the nature of band members Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard’s side-projects have drifted further apart, they seem less and less comfortable adopting the other’s sound. The Hot Chip equation balancing out cold, outsider soul with skewed poppy house – is attempted on Why Make Sense? but we can’t help but get the feeling it’s all falling apart. Following on from his years producing club friendly house anthems under his own name, Goddard has gripped the reins a little tighter on the production, and Taylor isn’t singing on Goddard’s tracks with interest. Album opener Huarache Lights features non-descript drums, a repetitive bassline and a robot voice telling us, "replace us with the things that do the job better". The limp hook bears little thrust, unfortunately setting the precedent for the album, where uninteresting and uninspired political lyrics wilt over like bad poetry throughout. Alas, the new Hot Chip album is not good. And, even worse, it’s not fun. One saving grace is the album’s closer and title track. Burning spasmodically and vividly, rising into wildfire reminiscent of James Holden, it portrays some real guts and aggression, with Taylor’s hyper choir boy vocal working into overdrive for the first time. It’s a satisfying new experiment; they could have made something interesting with an album full of tracks like this one. But, as it stands, Why Make Sense? sounds depressingly contractual.
Giorgio Moroder has had an illustrious career: several number ones, four Grammys, three Oscars, and one I Feel Love. The music tapered off in the 1990s, and Moroder may have envisaged a comfortable retirement through the 2000s and beyond. Now, however, on the back of his appearance on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Moroder is enjoying a career renaissance. With tours and an album to promote, in interviews Moroder seems charmingly bemused by the whole thing; a guileless synthophile ‘just happy to be there’. That music owes a debt to Moroder is beyond doubt. He is also an extremely likeable guy. But an iconic legacy and an endearing likeability do not make a good album. This is, instead, a crushingly bad album, a glitzy bauble of vapid nothingness, so dazzled by its own confected effervescence it fails to register the other irony of its title. Experiencing deja vu? That’s because you’ve heard every single one of these songs before. Only the names are different. Ironically, the long list of guest vocalists on the album - Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Sia, Kelis, and so on - ends up merely emphasising the conformity of commercial pop, not its supposed diverse vibrancy. The opening bars of title track Deja Vu, for example, sound like a pastiche of a pastiche of an 80s-era Stock Aitken Waterman track; Britney Spears’ listless vocal on the butchered classic Tom’s Diner will have Susanne Vega fans clutching their ears in distress; the main riff in 4 U with Love sounds so like that of Avicii’s Wake Me Up, both producers may want to brief their lawyers. There is, indeed, almost no enjoyable music on this entire album, except the somewhat catchy Right Here, Right Now (feat. Kylie Minogue) - but even there, the burpy bass and facile lyrics drag us on a grim safari from the anodyne to the asinine. This album a sad coda to an otherwise impressive career. But while Moroder is hardly blameless, it's clear he's just tried to recreate what's most popular right now: EDM. It's music depressingly indicative of the moribund cultures that produced it, of the self-cannibalising tendency in mass-market music and the broader artistic failure of pop. Its demise can’t come soon enough.
While we still struggle to pronounce the band’s name, we’ve been listening to Desaparecidos’ previous album incessantly since its release thirteen years ago. Read Music/Speak Spanish filed in a circa-2002-emo-posthardcore part of our record collection that hasn’t always aged well. However, it stood out as something special then, and it still does. It bore the pop-punk halftimes and faux-metal-guitar-harmonies of emo, but where so many of Desaparecidos’ contemporaries sang about relationship heartache, a precocious Conor Oberst wrote angry songs about urbanisation, vanity and consumer culture. It was a really good album. And now they’re making a comeback. It’s hard to be cynical about this though, after all, Oberst enjoyed his greatest successes through Bright Eyes and his solo work during the inter-Desaparecidos years - it would’ve been easier for him to have stayed on those paths rather than reuniting this lesser-known band. We’re certainly glad he’s done it though Payola is an absolute joy. It’s hard not to feel nostalgic for the simpler era to which Desaparecidos once belonged upon hearing synth-laden opener The Left is Right, whilst Golden Parachutes is the album highlight, a perfect two minute pop-punk song that is sunny and furious in equal measure. In Payola, Oberst has shown that his soft spot for an honest pop-punk sound is still there. Now a master of his song-writing craft, he has wrapped it around even better pop music.
! Adam Corner
! Ayesha Linton-Whittle
! Henry Johns
! Robert Bates
! Jack Bolter
SON LUX Bones Glassnote
GIORGIO MORODER Deja Vu GM Music
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02 THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON dir. Joss Whedon Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johanssen, Mark Ruffalo Despite an A-list cast and the nous of proven pop director/writer Joss Whedon, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, as with its predecessor, lacks class. Like a pneumatic drill of American sass and cliché, Age of Ultron is a long wide-eyed chew on the XXL end of Hollywood. And with an attempt to look past the irrational disapproval we have for The Avengers in general, Whedon manages to apply some popular contemporary ideas – such as the probable inevitability of the rise of Artificial Intelligence that will end us all. Ultron, nicely performed by James Spader, seeks to do just that, terrorising the troupe of heroes by harnessing the world wide web for its information and accumulating into his physical form as a scary looking robot. But for all of the characters Marvel has at its disposal here, none are ever really examined. The shallow, aesthetic nature of Age of Ultron becomes tiresome, and comes as confirmation that Marvel are dead-set on sticking to the same approach – an approach which definitely seems to be working for them in box office. ! Tim Oxley Smith
THE TRIBE dir. Myroslav Slaboshpytsky Starring: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Roza Babiy We tend to view silence in cinema in historic terms, as though audio in film is a given and any effort to revert to a dialogue free state must be retrospective, born from tokenism rather than organic expression (see: The Artist). It is this that makes The Tribe such a revelation. Set in a boarding school for deaf and mute children, the film’s script is comprised entirely of sign language – that is subsequently not subtitled. The school is built on a mafia-like pyramid of power, within which newcomer Serhiy (Grigoriy Fesenko) attempts to find a place. The narrative is brutal, and despite the absence of spoken word, unfolds with devastating clarity. In fact, the lack of words makes the illustrations of prostitution and theft all the more menacing. Without focusing on phrase or cadence, the events play out somewhat helplessly, with eroticism bleeding seamlessly into violence. It is notable that the film is the debut feature from Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy and, while the environment is unmistakably Eastern European, the dark ubiquity of the film’s themes and the lucidity with which they are communicated make it troublingly universal. Not an enjoyable watch by any stretch, but a necessary one. ! Angus Harrison
MAD MA X: FURY ROAD dir. George Miller Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult Max hasn’t even finished his opening soliloquy before he’s captured and kicked the shit out of by a gang of murderous nutters, which is an excellent start to George Miller’s reboot, or more accurately, a continuation of this now timeless dystopian franchise. Miller has kept the same premise from the earlier Mad Max films but, in contrast to its predecessors, Fury Road has just the right amount of structure so that the blend of science fiction, fun and violence is his most satisfying yet. Hardy evolves Max away from Mel Gibson’s Marlboro Man angle, adding another dimension by making him unhinged, hapless and all the more believable (bar the accent). A distilled concept and the brooding performances of Hardy and Theron – perfect as Furiosa – cohere to enhance the film’s production design, enthrallingly depicting the panoramic pandemonium. Miller has created an acid western with a metal soundtrack; a beautiful monster of a movie. ! Tim Oxley Smith
17 TOMORROWL AND: A WORLD BEYOND dir. Brad Bird Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy
A PIGEON SAT ON A BR ANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE dir. Roy Andersson Starring: Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom It took seven years to make A Pigeon..., the final instalment of the Gothenburg auteur Roy Andersson’s trilogy “about being a human being”. The lag is no surprise. Andersson’s process is one of painstaking craftsmanship, with every set made bespoke and each amateur actor picked (sometimes literally) off the street exclusively for their little part. It’s a creative process that’s more akin to stopmotion than live-action. And yet, the control-freakery behind his slow-moving vignettes bears a striking contrast to what Andersson’s actually trying to say with them: that life is a chaotic mess. A Pigeon... revels in the bleak comedy of this randomness, embroiling its audience in a topsy-turvy world that’s equal parts totally absurd and mundane, hopping liberally from 18th century armies to poky high-rise flats and hyper-modern animal testing labs. The closest we come to a narrative in this mêlée is the recurrence of two squabbling salesmen who travel from hither to thither failing to flog novelty toys. Their journey towards bankruptcy is something of a coherent thread, but any semblance of structure is abandoned whenever the necessary tangent demands. Why get bogged down in plot when you can cut away to a 10 minute tableaux vivant musing on the decadent amorality of European colonialism? In some ways, this is the ultimate art-house film. It’s confusing, strange and esoteric. But this shouldn’t be mistaken for being pretentious. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rather than giving the impression that he ‘gets it’ and you don’t, Andersson is trying to say that nobody gets it and that, in fact, we’re all as confused as each other. You may not find you leave the cinema any the wiser about being a human being, but that’s probably the point. ! Francis Blagburn
Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is Disney's pitch at a big summer blockbuster. Directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and written by Bird in conjunction with Damon Lindelof (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Prometheus) the credentials are solid. It’s a sci-fi adventure including jetpacks, spaceships, George Clooney and the occasional ejecting bathtub but unfortunately, no discernible storyline. This is the part of the review where I would normally summarise the plot, but I can't, because there isn't one. It moves between the past, the present and the future, in both our world and ‘Tomorrowland’, from the perspectives of Frank (Clooney) and Casey (Robertson). Chunks of exposition are hurled at random, pivotal information briefly mentioned once and never expounded upon. The script is terrible. The acting, with the notable exception of Raffey Cassidy, is terrible. The ham-fisted ecological proponent is terrible. It's all terrible. Once, maybe twice, childish gleefulness breaks through the deluge of excrement and you feel genuine thrill at seeing a youthful fantasy come to life – see the aforementioned jetpack – before being pulled back under the shitty, shitty current. I struggled heroically through 90 minutes before conceding defeat and leaving, the relief of escape doing little to lessen my misery and regret at having wasted any of my life in Tomorrowland. ! Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black
Issue 53 | crackmagazine.net
Jesus H Christ, is there no let up? The UK is descending into a cartoonish hell, and every time we go to the pictures for a bit of escapism we end up leaving even more depressed. Disney’s current inability to make a fist of real-life epics continued with Tomorrowland, not just testing anyone’s love of film to breaking point – literally, our reviewer left – but equally guilty for failing to entice audiences away from films like The Avengers: Age of Ultron – which was also total nonsense, its maximal blandness blowing up 2D characters into flimsy 3D. Thank fuck, then, for the rest of this month’s offerings: Roy Andersson’s latest, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, packs more ideas into its title than Disney and Marvel could manage in a couple of hours. Similarly, Ukrainian film The Tribe examines the brutality of hierarchies within a school, told completely in sign language, and Mad Max: Fury Road delivered the goods the originals failed to, boasting sumptuous action on a Napoleonic scale.
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The #clickbait music news rounded up by Josh Baines THIS B(TEC) IS MINE The head of the AQA exam board has announced that DJing is going to be part of the GCSE Music syllabus. Given that the only people who take GCSE Music are ginger boys who smell dimly of mud, and girls with thick, untamable hair, we’re set for the spoddiest set of DJs since Ben UFO started meekly strutting his stuff. Presumably they’ll learn about beatmatching, handling a massive coke addiction and how to guarantee a late check-out in a hotel without paying extra. THE EDGE FALLS OFF THE EDGE This month, the Edge, of the famous rock band U2 fell off the edge of a stage. The Edge literally reached the edge and fell off that edge and after the Edge had fallen off the edge all we could think about was the Edge falling off an edge because his name is the Edge and things have edges and the Edge walked over the edge of something and that something he fell over the edge of was a stage and a stage is where the Edge makes a living so for the Edge to fall off a stage is pretty ironic because he is called the Edge and he fell off an edge and…
Denzil Schniffermann Love, life and business advice from Crack’s esteemed agony uncle
KARMA POLICE SUTRA Remember when it was funny to make jokes about Thom Yorke having a wonky face? Those were the days weren’t they? Things were better then weren’t they? Yeah? Yeah. Hold on though, just as we’d got used to Thom Yorke’s new role as thinhaired-club-grandad-who-just-got-intoApparat-and-does-Boiler-Room-sets he’s only gone and popped up on ... get this ... my sides are splitting here ... an Iranian sex manual! Thom Yorke! He’s got a funny face! That’s not sexy! Guffaw!!! WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE One is one of the most overrated artists in the world. The other is Marina Abramovic/ Jay Z [please delete as applicable – JB]. Apparently Hova — typing that made my balls recede into the depths of my stomach, by the way — left the woman who’s conned a million imbiciles into thinking sitting on her arse in a gallery is boundary-pushing art “very pissed” due to something he did or didn’t do at a performance called Picasso Baby, a name so embarrassing that I literally slammed my laptop lid shut when researching this story, so I don’t actually know what it is. @bain3z
I can’t stop collecting vintage furniture. Every night I’m scouring Gumtree and eBay for rare treasures – Danish coat racks, broken record players, bed headboards with inbuilt cassette players in them – that sort of thing. The thing is, I’m usually pretty skint, so I’ll take anything just to get that buzz. The other night I took home a cupboard that had been dumped on the street, and later on I found a dead seagull inside it. How can I up my game?
As it happens, I’m the proud part-owner of a large furniture and carpet store in Milton Keyes, and I’ve got a couple of bargains for you in the clearance section. I can do you a luxury granite bathtub, a burgundy recliner sofa and a 36” X 24” framed picture of the famous New York builders eating their lunch on a girder – all for just £399. I’ll even delivery them myself, free of charge.
Amy, 24, Cheltenham
Can you have a word with those pricks at Crack for me please? I’ve tried emailing them but they never get back to me. Basically, I’m sick of seeing news articles about Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj on my Facebook feed. There’s something about those women that deeply infuriates me. I’ve been telling them that it’s not on in the comments section – loads of the lads have – but they still keep posting this shit. Nick, 25, Nottingham
Ahh Nick. I suspect that, deep down, your frustration has little to do with these pop singers. Are you the type of young chap whose Saturday night begins with liberal dousings of aftershave and ends with a lonesome kebab? Do your summer excursions mostly consist of you ‘skinning up’ within the walls of your tent while the others are out dancing? My advice is that your start by cleaning your bathroom at least once a week. Denzil does it, and Denzil is – as the kids say – ‘on fleek’.
After many years together, me and my wife have recently parted ways. The other night I found myself alone, listening to Black Sabbath while making burritos and drinking Coronas with lime, and it occurred to me: am I handling this with dignity?
The first divorce is bound to hit you the hardest Simon. After mine, I went on an Ibuprofen-fuelled bender that lasted around a week, and I was eventually found wandering the beach of Margate wearing nothing but a pair of Marks and Spencers briefs and a t-shirt which read ‘Super Furry Animals’. If anything, it sounds like you need to loosen up a little.
Simon, 47, Brighton
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The Crack Magazine Crossword Across 03. Marge’s maiden name (7) 05. Ned Flanders’s niche shop (9) 07. Frozen drink containing hallucinogenic quantities of sugar (8) 10. “Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins” “Homer Simpson, ___________” (7,8) 12. Heavy set German classmate (6) 13. Patty and Selma’s greatest love, besides smoking fags (8) 15. Homer’s short-lived adopted name (he got it off a hairdryer) (3,5) 16. The food Homer believed had fatally poisoned and left him just 22 hours to live (5) Down 01. Idealised transport system (8) 02. Springfield’s rival town (11) 04. ____ Murphy, saxophone icon with sub-par oral hygiene (8,4) 06. Japanese dishwasher detergent sporting an image which looks a heck of a hell of a lot like Homer (2,7) 08. Spinal Tap star who recently announced his intention to leave the cast ... like an idiot (5,7) 09. Homer’s crossbred pet (6-3) 11. Springfield’s finest barbershop quartet (3,2,6) 14. “You’ll have to speak up I’m wearing a _____” (5) 15. Embittered, misanthropic pub landlord (3) Solution to last month’s crossword: ACROSS: 01. MICE, 04. CARIBOU, 05. CROCODILE, 07. REINDEER, 09. PENGUINS, 10. SHETLAND-PONY, 12. PIGEON, 13. THE BIRD, 15. LYNX, 16. ALBATROSS, 17. CAT DOWN: 02. CHIMP 03. DUCK-BILLED-PLATYPUS, 06. ELEPHANT, 08. WHALE, 11. HYENA, 12. PIRANHA, 12. ANT
Even at the peak of his powers, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. But in recent years he’s really lost it: y’know, playing an eight-hour interpretation of Herman Hesse’s spiritual tome Siddhartha in a Chicago tea shop; rifling through a succession of weirdly high-profile romances, and even more band members. But the cherry on top was putting his name to Resistance Pro Wrestling. Standing beaming at the side of the ring like a combination of Uncle Fester and Vince McMahon, he even used his position to cash in on an endorsement for a chair company – “wait!” he cried, as a roided-up lunatic prepared to pummel another with some furniture – “that’s a Walter E. Smith chair!”. The world’s gone mad.
Simple Things Festival 2015
Saturday 24 October 12pm - 6am Various Venues, Bristol
Tickets from ÂŁ27.5 tickets.crackmagazine.net simplethingsfestival.co.uk
20 Questions: DJ Koze
“I love shoplifting, I don’t know why everybody doesn’t do it”
Stefan Kozalla’s sense of humour shines through his work. As DJ Koze, the Hamburg-based artist has spent 15 years carving out his own weird space in electronic music, filtering kaleidoscopic pop oddities, pristine soundscapes and technicolour workouts through his mischievous charm. Starting out in Germany’s fledgling hip-hop scene as part of the Fischmob click, Kozalla soon turned his hand to melodic house and techno experiments. Recently, Kozalla mixed the landmark 50th edition of DJ Kicks, placing tracks from the likes of Portable and Freddie Gibbs alongside Star Trek actor William Shatner. We called up Kozalla to fire a bunch of silly questions at him, and it turned out to be a great idea.
Words: Davy Reed
What was your favourite cartoon when you were a kid? Tom and Jerry. I liked the over-exaggerated brutality. What was the last book you read? The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle. What’s your signature recipe? Steamed salmon with a little bit of wasabi and som tum. Who’s your favourite comedian? Louis C.K. Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram? I don’t have Instagram but if I did, maybe Damon Albarn. I’m not gay at all, but a little bit I could imagine with Damon Albarn. He’s a nice guy and he has a good attitude. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? Chet Baker or Billie Holiday. If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? George Clinton... And Hilary Clinton. [laughs] Do you have a no.1 fan? I had some stalker, but they are not so focused on my music, they’re focused on my body! Out of all the tracks you’ve ever recorded, which is your least favourite? There was a remix for German rap group, Fettes Brot I think it’s called, and I’m happy that it’s in the trashcan of history. Would you go for a beer with Kanye West? I’m not so sure, if he asked me it could be interesting. But if I could choose another hip-hop artist, I’d rather choose Kendrick. Have you ever shoplifted? Yes, of course, I love it. You don’t have to pay the bill, so you can go a get a drink or something with the money instead. It’s a really convincing principle, I don’t know why everybody doesn’t do it. What’s your favourite drunken snack? Udon soup. A pizza is also good.
Do you have any regrettable tattoos? I have a tattoo with magic ink. So if I’m naked you don’t see it, but if it’s neon light my whole body is like a Yakuza. And you regret it? I don’t really have problems with it because I don’t have neon light in my home here. Have you ever been arrested? Not really, I never stayed overnight. But the police caught me when we made some silly things when we were young and we destroyed cars on purpose, or made damage in the city. It wasn’t so nice because my father was an attorney, and he didn’t like the police cars in front of our house. It was embarrassing for him. Have you ever had a nickname? My artist name is my nickname. My surname is Kozalla, and then they called me Koze. While we’re here, what’s the correct way to pronounce ‘Koze’? Originally, it is Kot-zuh – really hard. But people changed it to Koh-zee. Then in Japan they say Koh-zuh or Kowze. Now I’ve let go, it’s wonderful, you can say it how you want. Have you ever taken acid? I never tried acid, because I had so much effect from trying other things that I thought it would destroy my brain. Strange things happen if I eat a special cake or something, I lose it totally. What’s the first thing you’re going to do after this interview? I’m going to take a bath, and try to hold my breath for as long as I can under the water. Are you trying to break some kind of record? I do it for two to three minutes, I’m trying to increase it. If you don’t hear from me again, then you’ll know I broke my record. DJ Koze appears at Stop Making Sense, The Garden, Tisno, Croatia,16-19 July
John Doran is a journalist and founder of the respected music and pop culture website The Quietus. In 2011, Doran was invited to write a column for Vice. That column, Menk, formed the basis of his first book Jolly Lad – a memoir about his recovery from alcoholism. Here, in a column entitled I Hate Writing… I Wish It Would Just Fuck Off, he recalls the anguish he suffered while writing Jolly Lad. Writing my first book was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Here are some other things that were a walk in the park by comparison: 1. Giving up crack cocaine. 2. Giving up amphetamines. 3. Giving up cocaine full stop. 4. Giving up alcohol (I will concede that this comes a close second). 5. Having my heart broken. 6. Dealing with the death of friends. None of them are things I want to go through again, of course, but they’re not quite in the same league as simply writing some shit down. I have to admit that I may have made the whole experience harder on myself than I necessarily needed to. After wasting nearly a quarter of a century just sitting round on the lash and talking shit I have, rather late in the day, discovered I have a fearsome work ethic when sober. I like to multi-task wherever possible. So when I booked a three month sabbatical off work to write Jolly Lad at the end of 2014, I couldn’t help but wonder what other jobs I could cram into the time frame. I’d been on a strong dosage of SSRI drugs for bipolar disorder for the best part of a decade and was getting quite angsty about coming off them. Suddenly a plan coalesced in my – admittedly confused and fatigued – mind. I would use my season off work to come off antidepressants … simple! My work colleagues would be spared me sighing and grumbling, I would minimise rudeness to
colleagues in the PR industry and I wouldn’t get into any senseless online slanging matches with Artrocker. I essentially didn’t want to be a prick to anyone, so why not come off them while I was going to be on my own at home for months? Of course, what actually happens when you stop taking a heavy dose of SSRIs after 10 years is really unpleasant and not conducive to writing a book. I developed what felt like concussion mixed with amnesia as well as suffering the terrifying ‘brain zaps’, not to mention crippling headaches. I should mention that I muddied the waters even further by the fact I was already completely addicted to painkillers – a habit I’d picked up after giving up drinking in 2008. No mealtime was complete without me knocking back a handful of strong ibuprofen, something I’d been doing every day for seven years. So I immediately started throwing copious amounts of codeine-based analgesics into the mix as well. So what could go wrong, right? I think I lasted about three months before I had to seek medical help. My daily routine was trying to remember where I was and what I was doing, gobbling down handfuls of painkillers, constantly spasming like someone was sticking a cattle prod into my brain, slipping into a lurid world of paranoid fantasy … and, during the whole thing, I was trying to write a book. And to be fair to me I did complete a first draft, but it was so bad that my editor quit. Natasha Soobramanien, who is an author herself, has been my friend for many years but when she read my manuscript she advised me to give up on the idea of being an author and seek psychiatric help instead. She was right. It was like the Unabomber’s Manifesto written on homebrew and poppers. It was garbage written by a lunatic. So I was lost, my book was a failure, my editor quit. The whole thing had been an unmitigated disaster, I made my mind up to abandon the book. And then,
after some liver function tests, to make it worse, my doctor insisted I stop taking all painkillers – effective immediately. This didn’t go well. I had a nervous breakdown immediately and had to have a serious conversation with my doctor about spending some time as a voluntary inmate in a psychiatric institution. The same week, I received news that my friend had died unexpectedly. In a strange sort of way this news, while devastating, galvanised me. I felt that it was obscene for me to be sitting at home crying and wishing myself dead and glumly thinking of myself as a failure when my friend – a genuinely brilliant artist, with unique and beautiful talent, not just some chancer like me – no longer had any say in the production of art or of anything else in life at all. For the little it was worth I was determined to finish the book, make it worth reading and to dedicate it to him. When I finally finished Jolly Lad I said emphatically: “I will never, under any circumstances whatsoever, write another book.” But then, a few weeks ago, I went to meet my publisher Mark from Strange Attractor and he handed me a box of books. The sun was out and the birds were singing, and I immediately thought to myself: “You know, I’ve always fancied writing a historical novel … maybe a trilogy set during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. And then how about a short story collection early next year?” And isn’t that just the thing about writing? It’s fucking horrible, it’s a massive pain in the arse and I hate it, but it’s tougher to kick than alcohol, crack, cigarettes and amphetamines all combined. And as addictions go, at least it’s killing me slowly. Jolly Lad by John Doran is out now via Strange Attractor Press
Illustration: James Burgess
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Featuring Sleaford Mods, Kali Uchis, Sharon Van Etten, Nozinja, Ty Dolla $ign, Container, Prurient, Hunee, Bully, Sauna Youth, Clio Peppiatt...