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DIGITAL SOUL BOYS
SG Lewis, Suedebrown & Special Guest; Jamie Woon at The Palm House, 7pm – 11pm
CREDIT TO THE EDIT
at Constellations, 5pm – 7pm
FUTURE SOUNDS OF HIP-HOP
Krept & Konan, Rejjie Snow, Loyle Carner, Suicideyear, Siobhan Bell & No Fakin’ DJs
at The Poetry Club, 11pm – 3am
14 Friday October
Kenny Dope, Kidkanevil & No Fakin’ DJs at The Merchant, 11pm – 4am
09 Sunday October
Stargazing for the Post-Disco Generation with Moodymann, Hunee B2B Young Marco, Sassy J & Or:la
D Double E curates an exploration of rhyme and the spoken word with AJ Tracey, Big Zuu, Dave, Footsie, Jammz, Lady Leshurr, Ocean Wisdom & Tommy Genesis at St. George’s Hall, 8pm – 11pm
* shows/details subject to change
Lorenzo Senni, Denis Sulta & General Ludd at Stallan-Brand Basement, 7pm – 11pm
A DIFFERENT CIRCLES SPECIAL at The Admiral, 11pm - 3am
Jackmaster and Throwing Shade bring the spin at this micro-party in a Laundrette at Majestic Laundrette, 7pm - 11pm
LA CHEETAH’S 7TH BIRTHDAY
Actress (DJ Set), Mister Saturday Night, Beatrice Dillon, Lukid, Wardy & Dom D’Sylva
at Invisible Wind Factory, 10pm – 4am
A NUMBERS SPECIAL
Mumdance B2B Logos, Doc Scott (’92-’94 set), Russell Haswell (Live), Beneath & Inkke
at Camp & Furnace, 7pm – 11pm
IMMORTAL SOUNDS OF HIP-HOUSE
at Barrowland Ballroom, 7pm – 10pm
D Double E, Sir Spyro, Jammz, Capo Lee, Jack Dat, DJ Milktray B2B Rapture 4D, Bushido
at Buyers Club, 11pm – 3am
Experience Kölsch live at Barrowland Ballroom supported by Nightwave & The I AM followed by a DJ Set at Sub Club
GLA X LDN
Greg Wilson, Henry Greenwood, Peza & Derek Kaye
A CONVERSATION WITH KREPT & KONAN
SUB CLUB SPECIAL
at La Cheetah Club, 10pm – 4am
16 Sunday October
A CONVERSATION WITH YOUNG FATHERS at Mitchell Library – Jeffrey Room, 1pm – 2pm
STUDIO SCIENCE: A MODULAR SYNTH WORKSHOP Talk with Mumdance, Russell Haswell, Matthew Allum (ALM Busy Circuits) & Aleks Jurczyk (Rub a dub)
at Glasgow University – Melvin Room, 3pm – 4pm
Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour
STUDIO SCIENCE WITH GORGON CITY
A sonic and visual installation
A new photography and film exhibition curated by Hattie Collins that explores how Grime has been documented since its inception. Featuring; Cleveland Aaron, Ewan Spencer, Lord of the Mics, Olivia Rose, Practice Hours, Risky Roadz, Ruben Dangoor, Simon Wheatley, Tim + Barry & Vicky Grout
at Clore Studio, South London Gallery, 7pm – 8:30pm
Venue TBA, 7:30pm – 10:30pm
Black Butter DJ duo Gorgon City lead a special production masterclass at Red Bull Studios, 6pm – 8pm
003 WITH REZZETT
A CONVERSATION WITH DIZZEE RASCAL at The Yard Theatre, 6:30pm – 8pm
GO EAST WITH JAY PRINCE Guests TBA
at The Macbeth, 8pm – 1am
THIS IS AWFUL
An Awful Records showcase with Father, Abra, Ethereal, KeithCharles Spacebar, Lord Narf, Tommy Genesis + Special Guests, Blood Orange and Kilo Kish at St. John-at-Hackney, 6pm – 11pm
AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA 10TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY African rhythms and rarities at Corsica Studios, 9pm – 2am
21 Friday October
AN EYE ON GRIME
STUDIO SCIENCE WITH LADY LESHURR
The Queen of Birmingham drops into Red Bull Studios to shed some light on her lyrical process and production techniques
28 Friday October
30 Sunday October
FORM & FUNCTION
An all-Berlin techno takeover featuring Marcel Dettmann plus support from Objekt, Call Super & Laurel Halo at Wire Club, 11pm – 6am
DJ Harvey returns alongside the new generation’s finest. With Leon Vynehall, Job Jobse & Palms Trax at Canal Mills, 11pm – 5am
STUDIO SCIENCE WITH SHURA
From her bedroom in West London to headline tours and festivals worldwide, Shura sits down to share an intimate workshop. at Lambert’s Yard, 1pm – 3pm
IT FOLLOWS - LIVE SCORE
A special live-scored screening of indie-horror smash, ‘It Follows’, featuring Disasterpeace. Arranged by Emma Jean Thackray and hosted by Gareth Averill at Hyde Park Picture House, Show 1 – 2:30pm, Show 2 – 7:30pm
at Red Bull Studios, 4pm – 5pm
DIZZEE RASCAL: BOY IN DA CORNER LIVE Venue TBA, 8pm
WILEY · BIG NARSTIE · CHIP WILEY · BIG NARSTIE · CHIP MIKE SKINNER & MURKAGE PRESENTS TONGA · MALA · PREDITAH MIKE SKINNER & MURKAGE PRESENTS TONGA · MALA · PREDITAH PHAELEH STANTONWARRIORS WARRIORS··6.7 6.7 PHAELEH··SHAKKA SHAKKA·· SLIMZEE SLIMZEE ·· STANTON CARL FLOATINGPOINTS POINTS CARLCRAIG CRAIG·· DANIEL DANIEL AVERY AVERY ·· FLOATING HODGE (LIVITYSOUND SOUNDSHOWCASE) SHOWCASE) HODGE··KOWTON KOWTON·· PEVERELIST PEVERELIST (LIVITY MOODYMANN TRAX··SHAPES SHAPES MOODYMANN ·· PALMS PALMS TRAX ARTFUL DJ LUCK LUCK&&MC MCNEAT NEAT ARTFULDODGER DODGER ·· A.SKILLZ A.SKILLZ ·· DJ DUB BLAK··THE THECORRESPONDENTS CORRESPONDENTS DUBPISTOLS PISTOLS(DJ) (DJ)··KRAFTY KRAFTY KUTS · LAID BLAK THE OMUNIT UNIT··SOOM SOOMTT THEFOUR FOUROWLS OWLS·· THE THE NEXTMEN · OM BREAKAGE DELTAHEAVY HEAVY··DC DCBREAKS BREAKS BREAKAGE··CALYX CALYX&&TEEBEE TEEBEE · DJ HYPE · DELTA RUSH··HAZARD HAZARD··ICICLE ICICLE · LOADSTAR ··RANDALL EDEDRUSH RANDALL··SKEPTICAL SKEPTICAL AD··CARASEL CARASEL··GQ GQ · LX ONE · REMIDY AD REMIDY··SKIBADEE SKIBADEE SHABBA D · VISIONOBI ··22SHY SHABBA SHY ABASHANTI SHANTIII··BLACKBOARD BLACKBOARD JUNGLE JUNGLE ·· CHANNEL ABA CHANNELONE ONE··COMMODO COMMODO COMPA··GOTH GOTHTRAD TRAD·· GANTZ GANTZ ·· GENERAL COMPA GENERALLEVY LEVY&&JOE JOEARIWA ARIWA ISHANSOUND SOUND ·· KAHN KAHN ·· THE ISHAN THE HEATWAVE HEATWAVE WILEY HEADLINES. ALL OTHER ARTIST BILLED A-Z & BY STAGE. WILEY HEADLINES. ALL OTHER ARTIST BILLED A-Z & BY STAGE.
EARLY BIRD TICKETS £25.00 | GENERAL TICKETS £30.00 - £35.00 - £39.50
IN:MOTION SERIES - SEPTEMBER 2016 - JANUARY 2017 F R I D AY 3 0 S E P T E M B E R IN:MOTION OPENING PARTY
S AT U R D AY 0 1 O C T O B E R IN:MOTION OPENING PARTY
F R I D AY 1 4 O C T O B E R M TA
JOSEPH CAPRIATI EATS EVERYTHING KöLSCH [DJ SET] BREACH B TRAITS CRAIG RICHARDS HORSE MEAT DISCO JASPER JAMES SOLARDO FELIX DICKINSON DAVE HARVEY
RONI SIZE & KRUST PRESENTS FULL CYCLE CONGO NATTY ONEMAN RANDALL P MONEY ELIJAH & SKILLIAM NEED FOR MIRRORS DJ CHAMPION D PRODUCT JAMMZ & JACK DAT SPECIAL GUESTS: GENTLEMENS DUB CLUB
CHASE & STATUS [DJ SET] DIMENSION TARGET RUDE KID 1991 JAMZ SUPERNOVA SKANKANDBASS ID THE BLAST DJS
S AT U R D AY 1 5 O C T O B E R CREAM IBIZA
S AT U R D AY 1 5 O C T O B E R CRITICAL SOUND
F R I D AY 2 1 O C T O B E R BUGGED OUT!
S AT U R D AY 2 2 O C T O B E R SUBSOUL
F R I D AY 2 8 O C T O B E R T H E B L A S T: H A L L O W E E N
S AT U R D AY 2 9 O C T O B E R JUST JACK: HALLOWEEN
F R I D AY 0 4 N O V E M B E R H O S P I TA L I T Y
S AT U R D AY 0 5 N O V E M B E R BONFIRE NIGHT
S U N D AY 0 6 N O V E M B E R MOTION & HYPERCOLOUR 1 0 Y R B I R T H D AY LAURENT GARNIER MARCO BERNARDI ALEX JONES CEDRIC MAISON
F R I D AY 1 1 N O V E M B E R DRUMCODE
S AT U R D AY 1 2 N O V E M B E R AN EVENING WITH
F R I D AY 1 8 N O V E M B E R UKF
ADAM BEYER ALAN FITZPATRICK DENSE & PIKA IDA ENGBERG
NERO [DJ SET] FRICTION DIMENSION
S AT U R D AY 1 9 N O V E M B E R H O T C R E AT I O N S
T H U R S D AY 2 4 N O V E M B E R ROOM 237
F R I D AY 2 5 N O V E M B E R RUN
S AT U R D AY 2 6 N O V E M B E R NIGHTOWL
F R I D AY 0 2 D E C E M B E R THE BLAST PRESENTS
F R I D AY 0 9 D E C E M B E R THE BLAST PRESENTS
S AT U R D AY 1 0 D E C E M B E R CRACK MAGAZINE
S AT U R D AY 1 7 D E C E M B E R ANTS
DJ EZ MATT JAM LAMONT CONDUCTA THE BLAST DJS VS BODYNOD DJS TAKE OFF DJS
ANDY C BAD COMPANY UK [DJ SET] TC LEVELZ RICHIE BRAINS [FULLCREW] BRYAN GEE SOUL IN MOTION JAYDROP
RØDHÅD DANIEL AVERY AVALON EMERSON DISCODROMO TIJANA T BANOFFEE PIES PARDON MY FRENCH
JORIS VOORN DJ TENNIS ANDREA OLIVA FRANCISCO ALLENDES YOTTO
PAUL VAN DYK BEN NICKY ALEX M.O.R.P.H ANTHONY PROBYN
SHY FX TQD [ROYAL T,DJ Q,FLAVA D] BAAUER NEWHAM GENERALS SIR SPYRO CHIMPO HOLY GOOF UNIIQU3 KLASHNEKOFF RIZ LA TEEF & MORE
EATS EVERYTHING RICHY AHMED RUSS YALLOP DENNEY DETLEF SOLARDO WAIFS & STRAYS
MEFJUS IVY LAB KASRA SIGNAL JAYDROP B2B TS2W MANTMAST REMIDY
MARCEL DETTMANN PRINS THOMAS MIKE HUCKABY MARCELLUS PITTMAN PENDER STREET STEPPERS JANE FITZ TOM RIO DAN WILD
AUTECHRE [LIVE] RUSSELL HASWELL ANDY MADDOCKS
DUSKY [LIVE] JULIO BASHMORE SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO MARQUIS HAWKES LORD LEOPARD ELLIOT ADAMSON LEMMY ASHTON COUSN PUNCTUAL SPECIAL GUEST: EROL ALKAN
NETSKY METRIK FRED V & GRAFIX DANNY BYRD SPY DILLINJA ETHERWOOD KRAKOTA LOGISTICS HUGH HARDIE
HIGH CONTRAST DJ HYPE SASASAS THE PROTOTYPES CULTURE SHOCK GHETTS GUV TURNO EVIL B VS B-LIVE JOKER B2B SILKIE
F R I D AY 1 4 O C T O B E R SOULECTION PRESENTS THE SOUNDS OF TOMORROW
JOE KAY SOSUPERSAM THE WHOOLIGAN
SHADOW CHILD CHRIS LORENZO FRIEND WITHIN CAMELPHAT ICARUS HARRY JUDDA MANT SLY ONE
LINE UP TBA
BICEP MIND AGAINST JONAS RATHSMAN MOXIE JOSEY REBELLE COUSN TTANDOM PUNCTUAL MARBLE FACTORY: SKREAM [OPEN TO CLOSE]
TATE MODE RN 1 JUN – 6 NOV 2016
BH UP EN
K HAK H AR YOU C AN’T PLE A SE ALL Supported by
With additional support from the Bhupen Khakhar Exhibition Supporters Circle Bhupen Khakhar You Can’t Please All (detail) 1981 Tate © Estate of Bhupen Khakhar
015 Crack Magazine is a free and independent platform for contemporary culture Published and distributed monthly by Crack Industries Ltd. For any distribution enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Words Jazz Monroe, Sirin Kale, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Grant Brydon, Lucy Bourton, Jake Hall, Gary Suarez, Karl Smith, Suzie McCracken, Angus Harrison, Thomas Painter, Katie Hawthorne, Sarah Sahim, Nina Langel, Anna Herber, Tai Kolade, Charlie Binkhurst-Cuff, Ian Ochiltree, Adam Corner, Lee Fairweather, Joseph McDonagh, Jason Hunter
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DJ SPINN . TRAXMAN JACKIE DAGGER . FELONEEZY LENA WILLIKENS FLAMINGODS BRACKLES IGLOOGHOST KAYLA PAINTER SAOIRSE KLANGSTOF T.WILTSHIRE
KAREN GWYER THROWING SHADE MARCO BERNARDI GOLD CLASS STEVIE PARKER
3–8 Oct 2016
3 Oct Artist’s Talk: James Richards
Artist James Richards is in conversation with Kirsty Bell.
Andrew Kerton: _fieldnotes
A solo performance by multi-disciplinary artist Andrew Kerton.
4–5 Oct ICA Associates PAN present...
An audio-visual programme of talks, live performances, and screenings. 4 Oct Aleksandra Domanović & M.E.S.H. Ville Haimala & Jenna Sutela Harm van den Dorpel HELM x Embassy for the Displaced 5 Oct James Hoff Lee Gamble Steven Warwick & Nora Khan TCF
6 Oct Sharjah Biennial 13
Curator Christine Tohme and SharjahArt Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi discuss the programme for Sharjah Biennial 13, 2017
Art Post Capitalism
Artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas explores new ways to describe artwork today as the term ‘contemporary’ dissolves.
Culture Now: Sanya Kantarovsky
Mårten Spångberg: Natten, The Series
Russian artist Sanya Kantarovsky discusses his painting practice on the occasion of his London solo show.
Swedish choreographer Mårten Spångberg presents his specially curated seven hour tour de force, Natten.
Free entry to the ICA Bar, featuring a range of guest DJs throughout the week between 9pm and 1am Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647
Event tickets prices vary. For more information, please visit: ica.org.uk/icalive
Supported by Art Copenhagen, Embassy of Sweden, London, ICA Russian Talks Circle, The Swedish Art Council, The Swedish Art Grants Committee and The Swedish Institute
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
Regular Features Editorial - 23 One of the Greatest New Music - 27 From the periphery
Björk: With All The Earth’s Electricity - 28 Offering unique new ways to connect with her artistry with her Björk Digital exhibition, the Icelandic icon takes one step further into unchartered dimensions. Speaking to Jazz Monroe, Björk explores the harmonious balance to be found with nature and technology
Reviews - 65 Festival reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in film and music
20 Questions: Ho99o9 - 89 One half of the New Jersey noise-rap duo talks PBJ sandwiches and the case for disrobing with Jason Hunter Perspective: The Subversive Stride of Mykki Blanco - 90 The fearlessly progressive performance artist and musician has restrung categorisations of hip-hop and helped push radical queer ideas toward the mainstream. Here, he reflects on the freedom this platform has granted him
Show Me The Body: Take It To The Streets - 42 Increasing displays of police brutality, art spaces on the brink of extinction and the erosion of New York City’s creative essence fuel Show Me The Body’s undiluted hardcore. Tom Watson finds out how the band are rallying rebels
Get Together: How Collectives Are Building Dance Music’s Better Future - 36 As restorative as dancefloors are, they can also be an unsafe place for some. Sirin Kale gets to know the collectives that are doing away with unbalanced power structures and concentrating directly on the party
Japanese Breakfast: Spiritual Healing - 44 Michelle Zauner’s solo project Japanese Breakfast pools emotions into a swirl of shoegaze nostalgia. She expounds on change, sentiment and whitewashing with Gunseli Yalcinkaya
Björk Collaborator Andrew Huang threads together the symbolism of dreams - 54 Throughout the abstract visions and characters he creates, the LA filmmaker mines the reality-distorting potential of the dream state. By Augustin Macellari
Go Slow: Calm & Collected’s synergic platform for woozy design - 48 The duo behind art and design practice Calm & Collected shun the furious scrolling of internet trends to embrace the IRL pleasures of their Peckham base
Aesthetic: ScHoolboy Q - 58 The Black Hippy rapper flaunts his trippy charisma for our darkly psychedelic shoot
Turning Points: Altern 8’s Mark Archer - 87 Following the 25th anniversary of the debut album from the rave scene’s quintessential masked marauders, Mark Archer reminisces on mischief with Theo Kotz
10 th anniversary edition 10 - 13 november 2016
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MARCHING CHURCH • RP BOO
W I L L I A M T Y L E R • WA N D • D R I N K S
GOOD SAD HAPPY BAD • HANNAH PEEL
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P I TA • K YO K A • ARNOLD DREYBLAT T
JOHNNY HOSTILE • I SPEAK MACHINE
E M A H O Y T S E G U É - M A R YA M G U È B R O U
JERUSALEM IN MY HEART
THE CAIRO GANG • K L A R A L E W I S
DUKE GARWOOD • DON TEEL CURTIS
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m o r e a r ti s ts to b e a n n o u n ce d
Issue 68 September 2016
Back in the early days, the idea of featuring any of those names on the cover of a magazine we were making with our mates and distributing by hand could have seemed totally unrealistic. But for a while now, that’s not really been the case.
Crack Was Made Using Rae Sremmurd Black Beatles ft. Gucci Mane
Caina Torture Geometry
Nick Hook Can’t Tell Me Nothing ft. Novelist
Manu Dibango Echos Beti
The Square Defeat Us
Isaiah Rashad Wat’s Wrong ft. Kendrick Lamar and Zacari
Camisra Let Me Show You
Frank Ocean Ivy Frank Ocean Rushes To Children of Leir Questions It’s a Fine Line Vaguement Froid Angel Olsen Sister Honeyblood Ready for the Magic Doe Sincere Shit Present Anxious Type Japanese Breakfast The Woman Who Loves You
For the majority of my lifetime, Björk has been consistently releasing some of the most innovative, emotionally potent music around, and she’s just never lost that ability to be at the forefront of the cutting edge. Having spent an afternoon with her ahead of the Björk Digital exhibition in London, our writer Jazz Monroe has interspersed their conversation about nature, technology and matriarch energy with passionate discussion of her art, making for a comprehensive feature that does justice to her life’s work. So thanks to Jazz, thanks to the publicists who made this happen and, most of all, thanks to Björk for keeping everyone inspired. Davy Reed, Editor
Fango Rectum T.Wiltshire #2 Seahawks Escape Hatch Accidente Pulso Camp Cope Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams GØGGS She Got Harder Jamila Woods VRY BLK PWR BTTM Projection Zomby Fly 2 ft. Banshee Young Thug Kanye West ft. Wyclef Jean
Marching Church Heart of Life
We ticked one name off the list when, to our own amazement, we managed to track down DOOM for one of the very few interviews the masked rapper has granted over the last half decade. We ticked off another when – after three years of persistent pestering – we convinced the famously press-reluctant genius Ricardo Villalobos to let us spend some time round his house for a cover story. The criteria for these dream cover stars is that they’ve got to be
legendary artists who we can all agree are the very best in their fields. They’ve got to be among the most credible musical icons on the planet. Björk is one of those artists.
We’ve got a list in our minds, of maybe around ten artists, who we regard as perfect Crack cover stars.
Recommended O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER Dingwalls 20 September VIC MENSA Heaven, London 11 September £17.50 BISHOP NEHRU Oslo 1 October
POWELL Corsica Studios 8 September MOGA FESTIVAL Âme, Kode9, Huerco S Essaouira, Morocco 14 - 17 October €100
OBJEK T fabric 10 September
Set in Essaouira, the area formerly known as Mogador (which, impressively, has been used as a film set for Game of Thrones), MOGA joins Marrakech’s Oasis festival on Morocco’s electronic music festival circuit. For its inaugural event, MOGA’s day programme involves workshops, video installations and beach parties. For later, Hyperdub leader Kode9, Innervisions’ Âme and intriguing US producers Huerco S and Terreke are billed alongside performances from Gnawa musicians for the festival’s evening schedule and night parties, which are tucked away in guest houses within an argan forest. Just type “Essaouira” into Google images if you don’t already think this will be special.
Vic Mensa has always attracted the right kind of fans. He first emerged as a guest on Chance The Rapper’s pivotal 2013 mixtape Acid Rap and since then he’s teamed up with Kanye West for The Life Of Pablo’s chilling Wolves and soundtracked campaigns for Alexander Wang. Now he’s busy in the lab cooking up his debut album. Earlier this year he dropped an EP framed around the disenfranchisement of America’s youth and the police brutality crisis. As his sound has developed depth and character, his live show has grown into a similar beast – as he returns to London at the peak of a monumental year, this show is bound to be explosive.
R AEK WON & GHOSTFACE KILL AH Kentish Town Forum 25 September
MARCEL DET TMANN fabric 17 September
AFROPUNK Grace Jones, GAIKA, Lady Leshurr Alexandra Palace, London 24 September £55 + BF ONE MORE TIME WITH FEELING (SCREENING) ICA 8 September £7-10 Following their stunning 2013 album Push The Sky Away, this month Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds release their long-awaited sixteenth album Skeleton Tree, and this screening of the accompanying film One More Time With Feeling offers the chance to hear the music for the first time the night before its release. With the writing and recording process of the album taking place around the tragic passing of Cave’s son Arthur, director Andrew Dominik gained the artist’s trust and filmed the footage in black and white and 3D to create a unique effect that captures the “disembodied sound of the record and the weird sense of paralysis that Nick seemed to exist in at the time.” Certain to be a rousing work of art.
KING GIZZ ARD & THE WIZ ARD LIZ ARD Electric Brixton 8 September
NITE JEWEL Jazz Cafe 17 September
DJ SOTOFET T + DYNAMO DREESEN The Pickle Factory 9 September £12.50 Typically impressive booking at the Pickle Factory here, with Sex Tags Mania and Wania head honcho given the time needed for his idiosyncratically sculpted sets. Joining him is Dynamo Dreesen, whose Acido Records presented one of Sotofett’s first releases back in 2011. Their respective reputations as heads of two of the most interesting labels in electronic music are matched by the renown for their heterogeneous sets and mixes. Expect literally anything.
No Sexism. No Racism. No Ableism. No Ageism. No Homophobia. No Fatphobia. No Transphobia. No Hatefulness. For a long time we’ve been admiring the Afropunk festival from across the pond, and after this manifesto appeared on billboards in London back in July, we immediately knew it was time to get excited. Named after a documentary about African Americans’ involvement with overwhelmingly white punk scenes, over time the festival has opened its musical policy and gone on to represent a now-global cultural movement, also hosting events in Atlanta and Paris. With previous line-ups that have included legends like Bad Brains, D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill as well as boundary-pushing contemporary acts like Mykki Blanco, Death Grips and Kelela, the inaugural London event continues the legacy. The incredible, iconic Grace Jones will headline a bill that includes GAIKA, Top Dawg singer SZA, confrontational duo Ho99o9, Young Fathers, Lady Leshurr, London punk trio Skinny Girl Diet and the underrated New Jersey rapper Cakes Da Killa. A celebration that London needs.
ZOMBY The Nest 9 September
STARS OF THE LID Barbican Centre 2 October
DEKMANTEL SOUNDSYSTEM Phonox 30 September £5 Party series-turned-labelturned-head-turning festival Dekmantel has gone from strength to strength. This year’s festival, set in the picturesque surroundings of the Amsterdamse Bos woodlands, was another excellent curation of electronic music. Dekmantel's success stems from the love and attention to detail that fills each and every aspect of the institution – fueled by the event’s organisers, Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij, who make up the Dekmantel Soundsystem collective. You know your night is safe in the hands of these tried and tested vibe curators, taking control of the decks all night long.
BANDULU Patterns, Brighton 16 September £8 Kahn and Neek’s Bandulu label has borrowed elements from soundsystem culture, grime’s sonic brutality and the heady, dubplatefilled sets of dubstep’s recent past to create a frenzy. The label’s sound tends to champion grime’s darker, murkier depths but they also harbour a talent for reaching anthemic status, demand for the buy-on-sight label has been constant since its inception. With label heads Kahn and Neek billed alongside new school Hi5Ghost and Boofy, expect bleeding edge dubplates of grime-rooted annihilation and some of the freshest sounds to come out of Bristol.
FL ATBUSH ZOMBIES KOKO 12 + 13 September £22
L A LUZ Moth 24 September
NENEH CHERRY (DJ SET ) The Old Queens Heads 9 September
PROSUMER XOYO 7 October
THE GOON SA X The Shacklewell Arms 27 September
Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighbourhood is famous for a number of reasons. Iconic video game plumbers Mario and Luigi reside there. The main character in Futurama is from there. Bernie Sanders is from there. Busta Rhymes is from there. Neil Diamond is from there. It’s also the birthplace of Flatbush Zombies, the NY rap trio who have spent the last six years mastering a trippy, colourful style of rap which is shot through with vivid imagery and hallucinatory musings. They dropped their debut album earlier this year and the psychedelic cosmos of their sound was fully realised. They’re landing in Europe for a string of shows with Harlem’s best kept secret A$AP Twelvy. Go along to witness an outfit who have done things entirely their own way.
COLLEEN GREEN Moth Club 22 September
DAMO SUZUKI Shacklewell Arms 13 October £8
2016 marks ten years since Wild Beasts released their first single. Since then the band have signed to Domino Records, released four lauded albums and risen to the top of the UK indie pile. The band’s subtle pop bangers and singer Hayden Thorpe’s unique vocal acrobatics have lead to their status as a one of the country’s most revered live acts. Their latest album Boy King sees Wild Beasts go turbo with their most animalistic effort yet. If their latest live iteration reflects their new found energy you’d be a fool to miss them this time around.
MOTOR CIT Y DRUM ENSEMBLE Phonox 9 September
WILEY KOKO 16 September BY THE SE A FESTIVAL Super Furry Animals, Bat For Lashes, Anna Meredith Margate 30 September - 2 October £67.50
DILLY DALLY Scala 22 September
BJÖRK Royal Albert Hall 21 September
Hold up, there’s no need to shun your suncream quite yet. Despite what you might have heard, summer’s not over, and By The Sea festival is proving the point with dodgems, fish and chips and a multiplicity of incendiary musical acts to take in as you’re inhaling your last 99 of the season. Alongside headliners including Welsh godheads Super Furry Animals, fun-loving festival-goers can view acts as diverse as Anna Meredith, Let’s Eat Grandma, The Big Moon and more against the backdrop of the good old British seaside. Just don’t get carried away on the lemonades and fall off the Ferris wheel.
WILD BE ASTS Roundhouse 4 + 5 October £20
They say that age breeds maturity but Damo Suzuki is 66 years old and he’s still completely bonkers. The occasional Can frontman and full time psych-funk wizard was most recently seen on our shores with Eat Lights Become Lights for a frenetic psych fuelled date at Brixton’s Windmill and now he’s returning to bring his insane krautrock antics back to the UK once again. Expect flailing limbs, fractious howls and flashing lights.
Scarlet Rascal have had an on/off flirtation with the Bristol gigging scene for the past six years. With the announcement of their highly-anticipated self-titled LP (due out on Geoff Barrow’s Invada imprint late this month), lead track Strange is a confident stride into their next chapter. Constructed around a ferociously tight roll of rhythm section teamed with a Strokes-y guitar riff, it forms an effective cast on which to throw the most striking trademark of the band’s sound: lead singer Luke Brooks’ deadpan drawl, which cuts through the noiserock/post-punk hybrid with a snarl. Gloriously shadowy, sure, but we hope the band will throw more light on themselves very soon.
O Strange 1 Television / The Birthday Party : @scarletrascal
O Altering Ego ft. Alice Go & Molly Soda 1 Maria Minerva / Arca : moonbowmusic.co.uk
DRUGDE ALER While it’s easy to over-exaggerate the relevance of drugs to Michael Collins’ music, naughty substances have been a running theme in his career. Now basking in the LA sunshine with his gorgeous West Coast rock under the name Drugdealer, Collins has previously been based in Baltimore and New York, creating lo-fi hypnagogic music as RUN DMT, and then later Salvia Plath. At the time, it was widely believed that the switch up for the druggy puns was due to a dispute with a naff dubstep outfit also called RUN DMT. “There was never a legal issue with the name RUN DMT,” Collins assures us. “I don't know who wrote that but it’s a funny rumour that’s been looming. I will say that a lot of people who listened to my RUN DMT albums have terrorised those guys online and at shows because I think their particular brand of art really bothers my fans. Luckily, I don't have to deal with such sad psychedelic imposters in actuality.” In actuality, Collins is fortunate to be dealing with a circle of similarly far-out musicians. Drugdealer’s album The End Of Time – released in September via Domino – is a warm, fleshed out album featuring musical contributions from fellow LA acts like Regal Degal and Mild High Club as well as the dudes in Mac DeMarco’s band, plus vocal contributions from Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood. “The community of artists that I work with here in LA is one that has completely encouraged me to collaborate as much as possible,” Collins explains. “I feel insanely grateful to be around such an inspiring orbit of productive and loving freaks.” While the contributors come from far and wide, The End of Time has a laidback feel that’s specifically Californian. What prompted his move from the East Coast? “I think I just felt that indescribable need to relocate that people often have as they get into their mid to late 20s,” he says. “One thing that has affected me since moving from the east coast cities is the fact that LA feels a lot slower - I guess something that I didn't realise I needed.... My wanderlust has for the last decade kept me from submitting to any longterm living situations or stillness, but somehow LA has a tendency to help quiet people's minds sometimes. The End of Time seems to have a loose narrative that’s structured by soundtrack-style song titles – Theme From Rockaway, Theme From Alessandro, The End. The music encourages scenarios in your imagination of a blissful but ever-so-eerie LA, a bit like the sweeter descriptions in Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Asked if cinema influences his music, Collins enthuses about Brian DePalma’s Body Double (“DePalma has one foot firmly planted in meta critical humor and another in truly masterful Hitchcockian suspense”), Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and the documentaries of Errol Morris. “Honestly, anyone that knows me is aware that film has always been my main squeeze throughout all the music that I've been working on,” Collins tells me, proudly revealing that he's currently making his first feature film. Who ever said the drugs don’t work?
AYSTAR Full disclosure here: like a lot of people, we came across Liverpudlian MC Aystar when he made a starring turn on The Best, a standout track from Giggs’ recent chart topping LP, The Landlord. If Twitter is anything to go by, we weren’t the only ones. Ever since the record came out, Aystar’s timeline has been flooded with new supporters all enamoured by his gritty flow and distinctively regional intonation. The rest of his material is laced with streetwise imagery and real-life storytelling all delivered through his piercing scouse cadence – check out his ferocious Fire In The Booth session for a prime slice of his style. We’ve been slow on the uptake with this one so our thanks to the Landlord for introducing us.
Emerging from what seem to be more tropical climes than their native London, Don Loudo’s debut self-titled EP dropped in the height of summer and their psychedelic, melody-driven pop sounds like it really is only just getting started. Like countless crossover artists who have come before them, Don Loudo demonstrate a seemingly innate ability to write hits which irreversibly lock themselves into your mind after one listen. While the instrumentation and production value signposts rich creative ambitions, there's a refreshingly direct quality to their material which sets them apart. Their three-track opening effort is up on BandCamp now, and Don Loudo sound ready to to soundtrack the end of the summer.
O Good Thing 1 Jungle / Tame Impala : @DonLoudo
O Scouse Matic Freestyle 1
Bugzy Malone / Lee Scott : @Aystar_
O The End of Comedy ft. Weyes Blood 1 Tobias Jesso Jr / Ariel Pink
SCARLET R ASCAL
Moonbow is the musical project of multidisciplinary artist Eleanor Hardwick. She builds dense, celestial soundscapes to accompany her drenched-out vocals, yet many of her tracks remain eminently danceable. Her project is interweaved with fine-art, using visuals and other forms of media to create the most immersive experience any given venue can accommodate. Hardwick is a member South London’s all-female crew SIREN, who through their parties, zines and mixes, are making a serious mark on Peckham and beyond. Playing with machines, pedals and with her voice taking centre stage, Moonbow contributes avant-garde pop to a technoorientated scene that’s making solidarity and safe spaces pave the way for a better future.
Cover Photography: Santiago Felipe Words: Jazz Monroe
Bjรถrk has always embraced new ways to communicate matters of the heart. One of the most innovative musicians of all time, the icon is celebrating the intersection of music and technology with the Bjรถrk Digital exhibition, which maps the extension of her vision into virtual reality. By offering these intimate and immersive methods of engaging with her art, Bjรถrk continues to prove that technology can be a tool, rather than an enemy, for emotional power. Scan this QR code with your phone for exclusive content in our Bjork: In Focus web portal
031 At the time, the symbolism had slipped my mind, because Björk was transforming before my eyes: her insectile mask sparkled golden, her aura fluoresced and her marionette hands made an odd paddling motion, bombarding me with cosmic confetti particles. As she stamped out a rogue, vicious beat, she grew and grew, until the monolith of her body was all I could see. When the music stopped, everything went black, and I removed the VR headset. The harrowing experience, based around Vulnicura track Notget, forms part of the new Björk Digital exhibition, which has arrived in London this month after early runs in Tokyo and Sydney. The project began three years ago, when Björk and her crew began to send “drone-based terrain capture technology” into Iceland’s volcanic wilderness. The preposterously gorgeous scenery they captured forms the virtual arena for Björk Digital, which headset-clad viewers can navigate by staring at an icon and getting sucked into the corresponding experience. Among those completed so far are Vulnicura tracks Mouth Mantra (recorded – yes – inside Björk’s mouth), Black Lake – shot in a lava tunnel half an hour from her
home – and Stonemilker, in which you hover over a black beach, wait until Björk appears in emergency yellow, and allow her to spend seven minutes making art of obscenely penetrating eye contact. Although it took staggering effort to create, the acceleration of VR technology means the project exists in a constant state of renovation. “We got fucking carried away,” one organiser said, chuckling to hide his grimace. To illuminate the exhibition, Björk has arranged to meet one afternoon at an upscale East London hotel, not far from the V&A Museum of Childhood. Along its corridors scuttle waiters with silver trays and serious waistcoats. Inside an ornate first-floor room sit presidential chairs, a table with coffee options and, turned to the window, a regal figure in an engulfing black dress, with padded shoulders and thick purple veins. Inside the dress is Björk. She turns, with a young-old smile, and apologises. “I’m very happy,” she says, “but real scruffy.” Throughout the chat, her exquisite manners and sporadic giddiness put me in mind of a lyric from her song Pluto: “Excuse me, but I just have to explode.” Although it’s 4pm on a Monday, Björk is still nursing a punishing hangover. Last night, on a whim, she travelled the breadth of the country to party with an old friend in a field. (“DJing for cows,” she recalls fondly.) She perks up when describing the exhibition’s response from Vulnicura fans, whose visible distress appears to indicate a resounding success. “In Sydney, I actually had the luxury of seeing all the people watch the video – people holding hands and crying, people who never tried VR before,” she marvels. Of the extraordinary Notget experience, she adds, “It had to be a larger than life character, like a giantess – but it’s not me. I’m trying to tap into the myth of all wounded women.” How so? “Notget
is a song that starts as a very wounded and defeated person,” she continues. “But by her discovery halfway through the song, and with her mantra, ‘love will save us from death’, she grows and becomes unbeatable. This is not, for a second, trying to show me as this person with no doubt. On the contrary, it’s about me overcoming the doubt.” She smiles. “And emphasising that we all go from the state of not believing in love to believing in it.” ***
Björk Gudmundsdottir lived with her parents, a feminist hippy mother and struggling electrician father, until she was two. When they divorced, her mother, Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, fled to a Jimi Hendrix-worshipping commune, where Björk would join her aged five. In the meantime, she stayed home with her father, Guðmundur Gunnarsson, inventing songs and listening to her grandfather’s prehistoric stories of the first power lines to arrive in the old Icelandic countryside. From a young age, her comfort with electricity and technology converged with the melodramatic landscapes around her. Lonely half-hour walks to school, past black volcanoes she believed might erupt any moment, were an excuse to compose epic walking songs. Given her radically liberal upbringing, nobody was surprised when Björk styled herself as a precocious, anticorporate renegade. Even so, the intensity was alarming. Her punk ethic was fomented, along with her collaborative impulse, in Smekkleysa, aka Bad Taste, in her early teens. The record shop, label and book publisher doubled as a DIY collective at the heart of Reykjavík’s mid-80s bohemian punk scene, a coterie of absinthe-brewing
artists, surrealists and “photocopy poets” who launched an empire from their low-rent print-room. When times were hard, they made a quick buck on handmade Christmas cards. Embedding herself at Bad Taste was a daring move for Björk, who, after releasing a record aged 11, had refused a novelty second-album deal to perfect her original songwriting. She cut her teeth in punk girl group Spit & Snot, dabbled as flautist for Exodus, and helmed punk terrors Tappi Tíkarrass, which translates as “Cork the Bitch’s Arsehole”. In 1983, aged 17, she cofounded the supergroup KUKL, who shunned outside labels, major chords, Anglicised lyrics and 4/4 beats as if they carried the same contagious disease. When they scored their first major TV appearance, Björk – seven months pregnant with her first child – shaved her eyebrows and wore a Madonna-style half-shirt, emphasising her bump. Upon its airing in Iceland, Björk has claimed, a 90-year-old viewer had a heart attack on her settee. If anarchic energy was in the national character – a symptom of the previous six centuries’ oppressive Danish rule – anarchic joy defined the local indie scene. The Sugarcubes broke out with Birthday, a pop delicacy so ineffable it was hard to believe their claim the band was all an out-of-control joke. (Then again, Iceland is the sort of country where a good satire is never far from fruition: former Reykjavík mayor Jon Gnarr, a friend of Björk’s, began life as a political comedian. His most successful gag was standing for office; the anticopyright Pirate Party are leading polls
A week before our interview, Björk and I came face to face in the New Wing of London’s Somerset House, a former Inland Revenue headquarters reclaimed for culture. In typical Björk fashion, she arrived not as a human but a surreal shadow figure, shrouded in a sparkling frenzy of kaleidoscopic matter. The colours, she’d tell me, illustrate the emotional palette of her latest album, 2015’s exhaustingly brilliant Vulnicura. “Neon yellow,” she explained, “for the danger and emergency of the heartbreak saga, and lilac for the cure, with a hint of red for the wound.”
“One of my favourite things is the feeling of going into the unknown. Put on my rucksack, and march into some unknown terrain”
on the post-Panama Papers general election.) Either way, Björk’s novel way with words had the ring of genius – as unique and unpindownable as Joni Mitchell, Morrissey or Rakim, with a philosophy all her own. After a few international tours, The Sugarcubes split; half the band had poetry to be getting on with. In the summer of 1990, Björk embarked on a cycling journey around the churches of Iceland, improvising songs on the organs. Along the way, she became seduced by electronic pioneers like 808 State and LFO. By the time she moved to England, in 1992, she was proudly declaring live rock bands “just crap” and assembling a new, multinational outfit to record her first album. “The whole Britpop thing, the whole Oasis thing, the whole guitar thing,” she told the BBC in 1997, “is a sort of British ‘scared of losing Britishness’ and ‘the immigrants taking over’ [mindset]. They’re trying to hold the Victorian flag alive, but it’s just dead.” Despite the supernova success of her first proper solo albums, Debut and Post, Björk remained a source of puzzlement to many, particularly men. Journalists were prone to casting her as a gifted sprite, rather than a single mother who’d dropped into the world’s leading music scene, triangulated its hive of working-class futurists into hybrid avant-garde pop and sold three million copies of her debut album. In Inside Björk, a BBC documentary, Sean Penn rhapsodises over her “woman-baby face” and “uncorruptedness”; Beck adds, “I think of her voice as not quite human,” which is understandable – nothing about Björk conforms to masculine ideas of authenticity. But it’s more rewarding to invert it, I think. To say Björk sounds so alive with humanity, the rest of us must’ve been doing it wrong.
“Western civilisation countries have this expression ‘going back to nature’, which I’ve never understood. I’m rather keen on going forwards to nature”
Scan this QR code with your phone for exclusive content in our Bjork: In Focus web portal
In September 1996, an obsessive fan who disapproved of Björk’s engagement to Goldie, mailed her a letter bomb, before filming his suicide to the soundtrack of I Remember When. (Scotland Yard intercepted the package at a post office.) Björk retreated from London to Spain, where, after recording Homogenic, her worldview shifted. “I got interested in the idea that instead of the exciting people being the loud, flamboyant ones, maybe it’s the people who don’t say anything for a week and then whisper three words,” she told the New York Times in 2001. The following year, she bought a home in New York with her new husband, the artist Matthew Barney. Björk’s relationship with Barney, as well as the birth of their daughter, Isadora, shone through in 2001’s Vespertine, a cocoon of introvert micro-beats and lullaby ambience. Originally called Domestika, the shy, self-produced record swapped studios for laptops, stages for bedrooms; instead of making the first move, the songs peeled back icy layers to reveal a warm, fuzzy centre. It crystallised the concept emergent in Homogenic, where her contrasting sonics – sub-bass thumps against elegant strings, glockenspiel taps over trembling synth warps – represented a wider, utopian bid to harmonise nature and technology. * * * In Iceland, there’s no shortage of belief in a digital tomorrow, partly due to the country’s late industrialisation. Björk suggests that, because of this, Iceland could leapfrog the industrial phase and press on with digital entrepreneurship. “The self importance of the first world can sometimes be a bit patronising to us second and third world countries,” she tells me. “They think any interest in living a harmonious way with nature is naive and idiotic. Their route through the industrial age is not the only one. There is another narrative possible which is more hopeful.” In 2004, Björk followed the beatintensive Vespertine with Medulla, an album of “heart, blood and meat” recorded with choirs, beatboxers and other vocal contortionists. It was, she said at the time, a return to primitivism in the uneasy era of George Bush, 9/11 and rapidly advancing technology. She updated the themes with follow-up Volta, her most explicitly political album, which led to her being banned from China
033 Although she’d never bought into the Kid A model of tech-paranoid alienation, the app album Biophilia announced a deeper phase of scientific enchantment for Björk. She rejoiced in the magical aliveness of chemistry, musicology and the planets, all rendered with pixels on touch-screens. She struck up a friendship with the radical ecological philosopher Timothy Morton, who argues that nature – instead of existing “over there” with the forests and fields – is a master network in which humans are totally intertwined, along with our tools and technologies. Björk concurs: “Western civilisation countries have this expression ‘going back to nature’, which I’ve never understood. I’m rather keen on going forwards to nature!” This new clarity freed her to intertwine technology and science more explicitly with her art. “Part of Biophilia, for me, was being confident enough as a woman not to have to make a singer-songwriter album about my relationships,” she says, looking forlornly at her coffee. “I could go on about science and about education; it’s a subject matter a guy could totally get
away with covering. And I was, like, I wanna be able to do that. Not always be the sort of person with a heart on my sleeve.” She sighs. “It just happened to be in a time in my life that I had this kinda, quite dramatic divorce happening to me. Suddenly I was just – swoosh – pulled back.” *** Vulnicura was, if you like, the stockmarket crash of Björk’s kingdom. She had stayed loyal to art, gambled in love, made a home in the floes of sorrow and cores of joy. Early on, she had the fireburst glow of an exploding star; on Vulnicura, she became a black hole. It’s said that when a solipsist dies, the world dies with them. As solipsists occupy their inner universes, Björk inhabited family: intently, with devotion and faith, its own kind of immortality. When her marriage ended, the world died with it. Björk released the album last January, and the world kept spinning, as if it were perfectly normal for music like that to exist. Journalists congregated, hypnotised by the splashy divorce narrative and Björk’s “open-chested” sincerity. In a devastating interview with Pitchfork, Björk explained, through tears, how her divorce had forced her into a feminist reawakening. “When I did this album – it all just collapsed,” she explained. “I didn’t have anything. It was the most painful thing I ever experienced in my life.” Billboard published a story headlined, “Björk’s New Album Has a 10-Minute Diss Track About Matthew Barney.” Slate
argued Björk’s empowered, anguished expressionism was unfair to men. All over, Vulnicura prompted naked discussion, exultant praise and zealous think pieces; in December, it placed well on yearend lists. It was a strange, multiplex outpouring for such a personal album, and one turbocharged in our opinionbusy social-media era. Like most people, I tend to celebrate great music by listening to it repeatedly. Vulnicura, which I played three times (and a fourth for this piece), presented a new problem: its sorrow was invasive. When the Stonemilker chorus swoops in – “I have/ Em-ooooooootional needs...” – lots of things happen without my permission. My breath shortens, my stomach jumps, something tells me I’m about to vomit. A small patch of tissue, somewhere in my brain’s right hemisphere, tingles and tightens with pleasure. Then I’m paralysed, then my temples burn, then I’m crying. After that, I usually feel serene and happy. In the end, the songs were such a rollercoaster I stopped listening to them.
after a show where she turned “Declare Independence” into a rallying cry for Tibet. But it was the animist anthem The Modern Things, a digital ballad from Post that places human-made tools within the wilderness, that best illuminated her radical new philosophy going forward: “All the modern things, like cars and such, have always existed/ They’ve just been waiting in a mountain, for the right moment, listening to the irritating noises of dinosaurs and people/ Dabbling outside.”
â€œVR seems like a stage where there can be direct connection between the musician and the listener. Also, weirdly, a stage for a woman outside the patriarchyâ€?
Scan this QR code with your phone for exclusive content in our Bjork: In Focus web portal
035 Needless to say, I wasn’t over the moon about experiencing Stonemilker in hyperimmersive virtual reality while sitting in an old tax office with some English bloke called Andrew. Nonetheless, here at Somerset House was Andrew, explaining the thinking behind the project’s virtual landscapes; Timothy Morton’s Hyperobject theory, a development of the idea that all things are connected and equal, had somehow informed the VR navigation. It might sound a bit much, but close listeners are already attuned to the record’s astrophysical romanticism: atoms dance, souls are fine-tuned “to the universal wavelength” and, on Quicksand, “choreographed oxygen embroiders the air”. With its forensic account of heartbreak, the LP ought to play like melodrama, and in a way it does. But it’s melodramatic realism, with a canvas enormous enough to reflect the pansensory rupture of a heartbreak. As Björk intrigued the MTV generation with her videos in the 90s, she aims, with VR, to pursue a credo of soulful innovation in tech. What singles out the Notget experience is its refusal to treat the new form like immersive cinema. Stonemilker, which you can watch at home with a special headset, is brilliant – an intimate treat, immeasurably richer and prettier than video. You're on an Icelandic beach with Björk, watching her dance around, demanding your “emotional respect”. The moment you enter the world of Notget – which, unlike Stonemilker and Black Lake, is interactive, meaning you can walk around in it – a new form emerges. Instead of watching Björk perform, the two of you share a space, and that space represents a compartment of her mind. If the Stonemilker video is, as one exhibition-goer said, “like FaceTiming Björk”, Notget teleports you into her dreams.
Today, she covets her “matriarch energy” despite immersion in “pretty macho” tech circles. “I definitely am still in that matriarch world, especially socially,” she says. “And it’s interesting, with VR coming up now, that it is gonna be more equal. There are just as many girls in the studio of facial capture”— where Notget is being finalised—“as there were guys. VR seems like a stage where there can be this direct connection between the musician and the listener. Also, weirdly, a stage for a woman outside the patriarchy. At least for now.” As her music career enters its 40th year, the singer, composer, electronic producer, visual avant-gardist, DJ and pop star finds herself in an artistic field of her own. “One of my favourite things is that feeling of going into the unknown,” she reflects, suddenly animated. “Be a little trooper, put on my rucksack, and march into some unknown terrain.” She dons an imaginary backpack. “You make a lot of mistakes, then you find the little bits that shine. But what’s really interesting is being my age and finding that my biggest terrain, now, is actually just to have a voice. “There are not that many women to look up to. There’s Louise Bourgeois, or Joni Mitchell,” she continues, a distant smile darting across her lips. "There’s not that many who say something different when they’re 40 or 50, and when they’re 60 it’s something else, and when they’re 70 it’s something completely different. So it’s a territory that’s really unmapped. And it’s kind of scary, but it’s also very exciting. And it is surprising, the energy from the patriarchy, feeling the pressure of the difference between men and women. That when you hit a certain age, you’re meant to just go home and be quiet. It’s a rebellion to continue to do what you do.”
*** Björk Digital runs at Somerset House, London, until 23 October. Björk performs at Royal Albert Hall, 21 September, and at Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, 24 September
Björk’s dreams are, on a grand scale, unaffected by the setbacks in her personal life, she assures me. She is planning a new, career-spanning scorebook, meticulously designed over the past six years. A full Vulnicura VR album is on track, constantly readjusting to revolutions in the tech. And at home, she is in a healing state. Last week, her grandfather, with his memories of pure, pre-power line Iceland, passed away. “He was literally brought up in a hut made out of rocks and grass that was, like, medieval,” she marvels. “So that’s just a picture of that coordinate I’ve always got. You have nature in one hand, technology in the other, and”—she claps her hands—“they can work together.”
037 Words: Sirin Kale Illustration: Sophie Chadwick
About a week later, I have my answer. I snake my way through an overflowing Hackney Wick late on a Saturday evening, winding past crowds queuing for overpriced street food and keying bumps of coke behind canal-side Portaloos. Ahead of me I notice three girls literally dancing their way into the venue: dressed in spray-on jeans, Afros and matching chokers. We get to The Yard club's doors and I pay my entrance fee (with proceeds going to anti-domestic violence charity Sisters Uncut). Inside, the mostlyfemale crowd dances enthusiastically to Chic’s I Want Your Love. I ask the girl manning the zine stall what sort of music we can expect later in the night. “Hard techno,” she responds, with an absolutely stoical expression. Here are some of the patronising and inaccurate attitudes you might find about female collectives in dance music: that they are having a “moment”; that they’re needed
because women can’t handle a maledominated industry on their own; that they’re just a collection of photogenic DJs; that they’re about excluding men. Female DJ and events collectives aren’t some transient trend with an Instagram-friendly aesthetic that feeds off the existing popularity of dance music. They’re communities that exist in the online and offline world. They’re forces for social change. They’re professional networks. And while women have shaped the dance music community ever since someone first figured out how to programme a drum machine, there’s no doubt that the female collectives of today are a powerful accelerant for change. “Men are exceptionally dominating in the club scene,” say London-based female, trans and non-binary events collective Resis’dance (who chose to be quoted as a collective). “Even in very radical spaces. It’s absolutely outrageous when you go to fundraisers where all the DJs are men, or the women are given shit slots, or given support on the decks in a very patronising, disempowering way.” Melanie Alcázar of Sister – a 1000-strong virtual collective of female and non-binary electronic music professionals from around the world – explains some common misconceptions. “Most white cis men in the industry tend to believe all-female line-ups or parties, even collectives, have the sole purpose of excluding them, which is not true.” She goes on, “some don’t understand how these
virtual or physical spaces are created for us to support and love each other, to forget about the usual exclusion or even discrimination we can face, and to have fun while doing that.” While all of the collectives I interviewed for this piece spoke candidly of structural problems and social goals, one word recurred more than most: fun. For all the bullshit and misogyny, female collectives are about having a fucking good time: and making sure that other people do too.
“Collectives can be a space to support each other creatively, politically and emotionally” “We just want a safe, fun and full of love dancefloor!” say Resis’dance. Zine-makers, DJs and radio host collective BORN n BREAD (who also speak as a collective) tell me about their dream dancefloor. “People, sick DJs playing the tunes you play on your iPod. No one standing against the wall; everyone dancing.” “Music is universal,” they continue. “It has no colour; no race; no gender. It’s about people having fun, not caring about what they look like or if they have the right garmz.”
Days before I go to dance music collective SIREN’s London club night Synchronise, I’d been at a major European techno festival. Finding myself alone on the dancefloor, I looked around and was struck by the overwhelming maleness of my environs. It’s not that I was intimidated – not exactly. Any female techno lover will rapidly become used to mostlymale dancefloors. But still, a voice inside me questioned whether things really did have to be this way. Would dance music always be like this?
“You can shut down our clubs, but you can never shut down our parties”
Molly O’Reilly, UNITI
“My dream dancefloor,” says Alcázar, “would be my IRL and URL sisters reunited, inside a big warehouse with only tints of purple light, smoke and lots of tropical flowers.“ Molly O’Reilly of the Femme and LGBT party collective UNITI tells me she wants to recreate long-lost 80s rave vibes. “My dream would be to successfully recreate the vibe of the summer of rave in 1989. I want everyone to be there for the music and for each other. I would also want a whole variety of DJs and a whole variety of revellers. Also, since this is just a dream, I wouldn’t want to charge anyone to come in.“ She concludes, sadly: “But none of this seems like it could be a reality in 2016.” There’s no doubt 2016 is a difficult time to be in the party business. On one hand, dance music is more popular than ever. That said, a lack of affordable club spaces in big cities, notably London, alongside the threat posed by overzealous licensing authorities, means that clubbing is rapidly becoming an endangered pursuit. Against this backdrop, creating inclusive and affordable spaces where people can dance their cares away is more important than ever. “So many clubs in the UK right now are shutting down – it sucks, but I’m not disheartened,” O’Reilly explains.
“More clubs will open, or more people will start throwing parties in unlicensed spaces. You can shut down our clubs but you can never shut down our parties.” As anyone who’s ever lost themselves in techno will tell you, loud electronic music can have a healing effect: something Sister’s Lenora Jayne knows all too well. “For me, there’s something mystical about stepping onto a dancefloor and shedding my day and the things that are upsetting me. You find a freedom in the physicality of dancing with others. It’s my form of meditation and a place where I found acceptance on many levels as a queer, nerdy femme that’s obsessed with techno.” Historically, dance music articulated the voice of the dispossessed and marginalised; the queer and the other. “Dance spaces are so important for culture,” argue Manchester-based rave cooperative Meat Free. “So often they’ve been platforms for change and revolution, as well as escapes from the outside world. You only have to look at the rise of the punk; disco; house; all underground scenes driven by political, environmental, social and technological forces happening in the outside world. The world influences music and music influences the world, that’s what keeps it turning.”
BORN n BREAD
“It’s so important for females to see themselves represented out there”
BORN n BREAD
For BORN n BREAD, visibility is key. “It’s so important for females to see themselves represented out there – in any industry. Knowing that it’s ok to do what you do and be a boss at it.” UNITI agree. “Seeing other women making things happen for themselves is an empowering concept,” says O’Reilly. “All female/queer collectives take up space that is not otherwise carved out for them,” agrees Englesia from UNITI. “It shows others that you can do things you never knew were possible for you before.” Sister helps support up-and-coming female talent and breaks down barriers to information, whether it’s
warning fellow professionals about unscrupulous promoters or reviewing new technology. “Collectives are an important way to share resources, information, and connections with one another, especially when the beginner’s bell-curve can be overwhelming and intimidating. The music industry is a place where privilege and who you know defines the spaces you are allowed access to,” Jayne explains.
violence in the party scene,” Resis’dance explain, telling me they prioritise the voices of women, trans and non-binary people and people of colour. “We want to create a safe space for people who normally feel uncomfortable in “normal” party spaces, by creating an atmosphere where everyone can feel free to be themselves, without the threat of the male gaze or being judged for who they are.”
“As a collective, we can make much, much more noise,” Sister member Coral Foxworth also argues. “We can promote one girl’s music to thousands of Facebook friends and do what hyped-up blogs overrun with biased male writers won’t. We can blow up an abusive promoter or engineer’s spot publicly, and not have to live in silence. We can help each other steer clear of shady people or situations.”
Leaving the SIREN party on a sultry August night, I smile as I remember the graffiti scrawled across the toilet walls. “QUEER INSURRECTION,” it reads. “FAG MOB.” I think about how all the collectives I’ve spoken to for this article (and there are more I’ve yet to meet, the NYC collective Discwoman and Berlin's Salt + Sass to name a few) do more than just throw parties. They’re an insurrection. Party by party, they’re radically reworking our clubbing culture in order to shape it anew. And in so doing they’re creating the dancefloor of our collective dreams. It’s a place for people to meet, fall in love, dance and listen to great music, free of the patriarchy and alive with a positive, inclusive energy.
Resis’dance also believes all-female collectives can be powerful agents of social justice. “It’s the collective job of all women in the community to shape the dancefloor into somewhere they feel accessible and safe,” they explain. “Whether that’s creating anti-commercialised party spaces or supporting venues that are at risk of gentrification.” Many of the collectives I spoke to put their proceeds from the night towards radical activist causes. More than anything, collectives can help people to feel safe. “We are all women who have experienced
For more information about Sisters Uncut, visit sistersuncut.org
From acid house ravers rebelling against the Tories to the socially conscious club goers of today, history proves that at its best dance music creates a sense of solidarity among a community who’ve got something to resist or fight against. As such, some question whether the new wave of collectives are doing anything particularly new. “People have always worked collaboratively so it’s hard to know whether collectives are ‘having a moment’ because there are actually more of us, or because there’s a lot of hype,” says all-female party collective SIREN. “If the former it’s maybe a reaction to the increasingly difficult and individualised lives we’re forced to live under neoliberalism,” they speculate. “Collectives can be a space to support each other creatively, politically and emotionally.”
Show Me The Body:
In the centre of Dalston’s Gillett Square, Julian Cashwan Pratt paces between two speaker stacks. His worn Tupac t-shirt rustles between each step. There’s a nervous sense of tension as an eager crowd of around a hundred draw closer together, pausing a few metres away from a microphone stand. Skaters take recess, propping their boards against makeshift landing ramps, while a nearby hula-hoop class protect their designated practice space. Behind Pratt sits drummer Noah Cohen-Corbett, camouflaged by metallic stands and cymbals. With his Rickenbacker bass draped over one shoulder, Harlan Steed postures himself behind an FX board. An acute shrill, like the mutated crow of a megaphone, screams out from the amplifiers. There’s no stage or partitions. Zero security. Pratt forcibly waves his arms, urging the audience to come closer and fill the awkward three-foot divide. It’s a success – as they launch into their first song, bodies tumble towards them. Hours before, the experimental punk band had announced details of a free generator show via social media, willing fans to contact the group directly for more info. As we speak after the event, the trio stand in a circle and pass around a joint. “We have to keep these sort of events a little more secret because when it’s not a secret it inevitably gets shutdown by city officials and the police,” Pratt explains, squinting from the beams of the mid afternoon sun. “We have to be clever. But that’s exciting. I’m excited to see a greater trend of these generator shows happening around New York too. Bringing music back to the streets and out of the clubs.” Steed and Corbett nod studiously. Show Me The Body are a byproduct of New York City. A bona fide manifestation of their urban surroundings. Across the Yellow Kidney and S M T B EPs and this year’s full length Body War, their convergence of harsh distortion, unorthodox time signatures and Pratt’s intense vocals has encapsulated the rebellious energy of New York’s youth culture.
Just under thirty minutes in length, Body War is an explicit combustion of disharmony and rage that’s fuelled by the coercive closing of art spaces and increasing displays of police brutality. The group are also closely associated with the NY based community, Letter Racer, a non-hierarchical company of likeminded artists and home for no wave rap crew Ratking. “The initial goal with Letter Racer is just to bring people together and make really cool shit,” Pratt expounds on the community’s common grounds, “regardless of anyone’s circumstance. We’re starting to witness a larger culture of people actually caring about New York life and how to preserve it. People are writing music specifically about that in a way that hasn’t been approached before. There’s a new aggression in the city. One that’s all about feeling free.” Body War feels full of antiestablishment anger, yet Show Me The Body claim they’re not an explicitly political band. “We don’t make political music,” Pratt says, exhaling a swilling cloud of weed smoke, “we just address what’s happening around us.” Distributed through Corpus NYC, a label co-founded by industrial hip-hop experimentalist B L A C K I E from Houston, Texas, Corbett outlines their intentions are to “deliver music with a sense of urgency,” which the band hone through ballistic DIY shows and engaging directly with their fans. Pratt annotates Corbett’s answer, “It’s amazing to meet new kids and play for them. It’s a sick way to get a greater perspective as humans. But if anything I think it reinforces that kids feel the same sense of loss everywhere that needs to be dealt with in some way. Empowering people through music is a wonderful way to come together and experience that urgency.” Despite their music being a repercussion to what’s eating away at New York’s art scene, Pratt argues the same pressures are felt on an international scale. “New York is a specific place but holds a lot of the same problems that are found all over America and, to some extent, the world,” he admits. “We were super
surprised to pull up in Dallas and have kids screaming our lyrics back at us. It was the first marquee show we had done. We were on tour with B L A C K I E and on one side of the stage it listed the line-up, and on the other side was a poster reading ‘We Stand With The Dallas Police’.” This show was just after the killing of five police officers back in July. That was a super crazy experience. To travel to a place where there was already a politically charged temperament. For us, it was hard because we don’t stand with the police but we also don’t condone senseless murder. To be in a small town and realise our problems are felt everywhere was eye-opening.” Pratt has been arrested twice for minor incidents, once for being aggressive towards a police officer. “But that was just freedom of speech,” he assures, claiming he was an easier target due to the colour of his skin. “Being white plays a part in it. According to the cops, it’s a lot less dangerous to pick a fight with a white kid than a bunch of black kids.” His distress around police brutality resonates strongly with Steed and Corbett, who are listening intently, agreeing with everything. “Surveillance is crazy,” Pratt continues, “Watching cops beat up riders and homeless kids for no reason, shutting shit down left right and centre. It’s fascism – being muscled out so that out of town money can build bullshit. It’s a physical manifestation of white supremacy and capitalism. Part of our goal is to organise the youth against that.” Body War is out now via Loma Vista
Words: Tom Watson Photography: Juan José Ortiz
043 Julian Cashwan Pratt
“Cops are beating up riders and homeless kids for no reason, shutting shit down left right and centre. It’s fascism”
044 T-Shirt: Won Hundred Trousers: Monki Jacket: Traditional Weatherwear Shoes: Dr Martens
Words: Gunseli Yalcinkaya Photography: Jack Johnstone Styling: Luci Ellis Assisted: Leah Abbott
Spiritual Healing MUSIC
“I feel that we’re coming into a time where differences are celebrated. I don’t know if the political landscape is changing, but I’m positive”
As the cover art suggests, Psychopomp is an ode to Zauner’s late mother. The album has a dream-pop sound palette of airy synths and jangly riffs that was crafted in collaboration with her friend Ned Eisenberg, and its honest lyrics capture the feelings of bone penetrating loneliness and grief that come with losing someone close to you. “The dog’s confused/ she paces around all day/ she’s sniffing at your empty room,” Zauner sings on the opening track In Heaven. There’s a direct sincerity to Zauner’s lyrics that reels the listener in beneath the misty shoegaze textures. The result is something that’s both tragically beautiful and cathartic. “I’m a very sensitive and open person, and I think that makes for very sensitive and open art,” the 27 year old South KoreanAmerican singer tells me. In 2014, Zauner was in a period of change. Her mother had been diagnosed with a severe strain of cancer which forced the young artist to leave her home in Philadelphia and spend time in her family home in Oregon. “I was emotionally very fragile,” Zauner muses. It was here that Zauner put aside Little Big League – the indie rock four piece she fronted in Philadelphia – to rest and start focusing on her Japanese Breakfast project. Writing those songs, Zauner explains, gave her an opportunity to explore complex emotions. “When my mum passed away, I was really confused and I didn’t know how to
emotionally release how I was feeling,” she says. “I think [I had] a very natural desire to find out how to communicate that in an artistic, creative way.” Alienated by both the religious consolations of her extended family network, who’d tell her things like ‘she’s in a better place’ and ‘she’s in heaven’, as well as the seemingly dispassionate logic of her atheist friends, Zauner turned to the works of psychoanalyst Carl Jung as a “middle ground between spirituality and religion”. At the time, she confides that she was “having a lot of dreams about my mum and privately began to believe that was her way of communicating with me”. Jung’s philosophy resonated with Zauner, in particular his coining of the term “psychopomp” to mean mediator between the conscious and unconscious realms. In a way, the album too acts as a bridge between Zauner’s conscious and unconscious, putting into words thoughts that she could previously not access. In Heaven is about coming to terms with such thought: “I got to this place that I allowed myself to feel that way, I allowed myself to do what helped me to grieve, process things and move forward,” she says. The most important lesson that Zauner learnt in the process of creating Psychopomp, she tells me, is to “take your experiences that you feel isolated by, and make art. Put it out in the world and ultimately, your people will find you”. She applies this sentiment not only to life’s tragic losses but also her childhood experiences as a Korean-American growing up in a seemingly whitewashed state. “I was
very angry growing up because I felt that when you’re younger and you’re trying desperately to fit in, you feel that anything that’s different about you feels like a scab,” she begins. “I think I tried to whitewash myself and run away from my identity.” Earlier this year, Zauner supported Japanese-American indie rock musician Mitski for a summer tour. Like Zauner, Mitski is vocal about the whitewashing of indie music and more generally, Western culture. The video to her 2016 song Your Best American Girl features Mitski trying to catch the attention of an attractive, white man, only to be ditched moments later for a whiter, more Westernised woman. Zauner can relate. “I didn’t feel like there was a space for me, especially as a creative person. I felt like I had to write from a voice that wasn’t my own, a white voice. I felt that my own personal experiences were going to be too niche of a market.”
T-Shirt: American Apparel Skirt: Le Kilt Shoes: Dr Martens
“I feel that we’re coming into a time where those differences are really celebrated,” she continues. “I don’t know if I think that way because I’m older or the political landscape is changing, but I’m positive.” Zauner’s optimism is refreshing, and it’s testament to the strength of someone who has grappled with questions of identity, living and death and has come out the other side. “Since my mum’s death, I’ve run into the arms of my heritage,” she says, smiling. Psychopomp is out now via Dead Oceans
It is with the nostalgic beauty of an old photograph of her mother that Michelle Zauner introduces Psychopomp, the latest album under her solo project Japanese Breakfast.
Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Andrew Thomas Huang - www.andrewthomashuang.com
Stay Cool: Calm & Collected is a Synergic Platform for Vivid Design
Words: Lucy Bourton Photography: Oskar Proctor
051 Donal Sturt
“There is enough content on Peckham’s Rye Lane to inspire ten years' worth of output”
Take S.A.D for example. Worked on in collaboration with Alex Mccullough, whose design portfolio includes Young Turks offshoot record label Whities, S.A.D is a book full of sunbleached designs to tackle the dull winter of London. It was born from a desire to diversify, and has been their
biggest project yet, culminating in an exhibition at Protein gallery last year. The success of the team working within publications pushed them to work on a more experimental piece, Fluro Flora Fauna, a concept collaboration with the now defunct Peckham Print Studio. “We gave a mix of prints to them 75% full, it was a load of illustrations with instructions of the direction we wanted to go in, then waited to see what came back,” Donal explains. The result represents the fluidity of the studio – a mix of riso printing and gloss centre pages explaining the process, bound together with hand stitching. Adam and Donal create work under the name Calm & Collected on top of freelance jobs, using any spare time they have to visit their studio. Despite the pair living together, having an outside space to work in is key, their own area full of “paint pots, Pantone books, laser-cut things, publications, reference books and archived commercial work.” An average day for the two-man team revolves around working, chatting to their neighbours, and listening to a mix of grime and Italo disco.
Calm & Collected is an apt name for the London art and design practice run by Adam Bletchly and Donal Sturt. The designers nurture a relaxed enthusiasm for what they do, with visual trademarks of unexpected colour combinations and ornate illustrations running across their work. Their style is consistent and considered, whether they’re working on eye-widening illustrative prints referencing Peckham, or commercial work for the likes of Jo Malone. Calm & Collected is driven by a determinedly collaborative ethos. “The whole concept was to put stuff out under one umbrella and to play to our strengths,” Donal explains, referencing the print studios, illustrators and designers they’ve worked with. “That’s how we’re different – we just display what we’ve put out. It doesn’t matter who did what.”
052 Rather than naming other studios or designers as influencers on their work, Adam and Donal take inspiration from everyday interactions. “We’re surrounded by friends and we meet people on a daily basis to discuss work,” explains Adam. “We take more inspiration from those encounters than browsing the internet all day.” Separately, their influences differ largely, from Donal collecting Asian food packaging, to Adam obsessing over classical art. He names Dutch still-life and Renaissance paintings as his go-to inspirations.
However disparate the pair’s cultural markers are, they can, however, find points of mutual admiration: both cite Peckham, where their office is based, as a massive influence. “Off-key shop front signs, badly designed stuff, and little characters you see regularly” are elements Donal takes interest in as he walks up Old Kent Road, using his old iPhone to capture the area’s unique aura. “There is enough content on Rye Lane to inspire ten years worth of output, genuinely,” he gushes. “That’s what’s so interesting about living in this area. I don’t even know what the vegetables they’re selling are called, but it’s so much richer than a strip of Pret, Pret, Costa, Pret. It’s still independent.” In Peckham people regularly pass on unwanted belongings by leaving them on Rye Lane to be
taken, a process that the pair take full advantage of. “Last year we found all these tapes of this Nigerian guy called Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, one of the tunes we played repeatedly last summer. That was something that became a massive influence on us,” Adam says. Calm & Collected’s work refuses to be constricted by trends. In an industry where success is increasingly measured in Instagram and Twitter followers, Adam and Donal have made the conscious decision to take a step back. “We’re going to carry on doing this forever so there is no rush to do everything we want instantly,” says Donal. “We’ve tried to avoid the pressure you can feel in London especially. Everyone seems to be on this treadmill constantly, testing to see who is winning, when actually it’s all a mirage. We’re going to do what we want, when we want to do it, have fun and not stress out so much.” As proved by their expansive portfolio, there’s something to be said for embracing the laissez-faire. For more information, visit studiocalmandcollected.com
Andrew Thomas Huang
Words: Augustin Macellari
While his background is in fine art, Huang’s work now straddles the commercial and the artistic, finding platforms online and in galleries. The LA-based artist's baroque, conceptually abstract visions are experimental – but they operate within the boundaries established by more conventional, mainstream filmmaking. At the same time, his more commercial works – including his music videos with Björk – offer a much weirder experience than the more quotidian lip-syncing-in-a-clubwith-peripheral-romance narratives that often illustrate pop songs. Huang’s first breakthrough came with a 2005 short that went viral when he put it on YouTube. Called Doll Face, it’s an angsty, surreal mini-narrative, in which a disembodied robotic doll’s face (all pincers and rickety bits like the scary toys in Toy Story) makes itself up in an attempt to look like a human it sees on a TV screen. Doll Face got Huang an audience with J.J. Abrams, the sci-fi director who’s been breathing new life into genre classics: the Star Wars and Star Trek reboots.
It was in 2012, however, with Solipsist, that Huang’s ideas started to crystallise into a more experimental tone. He talks about Solipsist as a formative moment in understanding his own relationship with his work. It’s a poetic exploration of individuality and union; literal connection between lone figures and characters. Fabric takes on a life of its own; growing at terrifying speed as a kind of infestation from two human figures, seated back to back, or floating purposefully in darkness before gathering, a communion of furry jellyfish. It presents an elaborate, theatrical and crafty grotesquery, and it garnered comparisons with the work of long-time Aphex Twin collaborator Chris Cunningham. On paper, the merging Huang presents in Solipsist is as intense as any classic body-horror. The scenes of connections, disintegration and infestation are mediated, though, through Huang’s colourful, crafty visual language. There are no tentacles and latex here, rather swathes of cloth, seams and roughness “I wanted something that felt dry instead of wet,” he tells me over Skype. “I stayed away from anything too obviously fleshy.”
His decision, to go with sand over slime, distances his work from the more familiar visceral ickyness of body-horror cinema, at the same time as his deconstruction of the human form echoes the genre’s concerns with the bodies’ mutability. For Huang, however, realistic horror is a turnoff. He cites the example of recent hit Netflix series Stranger Things, as a pole against which he defines himself. “The use of latex historically is to represent flesh; to create something credibly fleshy, credibly real. In Stranger Things the creature is real; it’s not meant to be a symbolic creature. It literally is some kind of fleshy, gooey alien.” This, Huang argues, kind of misses the point – and potential – of film as a narrative tool. Discussing his avoidance of gore, he advocates traditional – almost folk – symbolism, as a powerful alternative to the evocation of the distorted real as played out in horror. “Throughout most of human history, [deities and demons] are presented with this symbolic, abstract logic. Chinese Dragons, for instance – they’re not representationally reptilian. They’ve got a deity logic to the design.
“I feel like if we have the ability to create other proxies of ourselves, and create other futures and stuff. Why not do it in a way that’s playful and mind-expanding?” Huang argues for the arguably forgotten power of symbols: through foregoing credible realism he instead opens up a more fundamental and, somewhat paradoxically, more realistic arena for the exploration of monsters. Symbols can be presented in a way that rejects of the logic of the every day in favour of the logic of the dream, the unconscious, or the folkloric, and that can alter a fiction. In doing so, questions about our own realities, be they emotional or spiritual, are more easily asked – and perhaps answered. This is where art could be seen as having real power. Rather than a cold, intellectual exercise, or a moment’s entertainment, it instead updates traditions as old as language and culture – the use, and power, of stories, as a way into complex questions about how to live. Solipsist was the film that initiated Huang’s ongoing work with Björk. After seeing it, she got it touch, and he went
Andrew Thomas Huang is a very contemporary sort of filmmaker.
“I feel like we have the ability to create other proxies of ourselves. Why not do it in a way that’s playful and mind-expanding?”
on to make music videos for Vulnicura tracks Stonemilker and Black Lake, the former of which has developed as a VR project, and the latter which been enhanced in galleries as an immersive film with panoramic visuals and surround sound. Are music videos, nowadays, more collaborations than anything else, I wonder, or are they simply wallpaper? “I think a music video feels almost more like a snippet of the world that the musician is ultimately creating,” he says, telling me that it becomes fun when “the visuals that the designer is curating directly serve the message of the content.” In this respect, Huang’s musicvideo-making is an opportunity to directly expand the emotional world constructed by the artist, and at the same time as further explore and develop his own.
Interstice, his most recent personal project, presents a further refined vision. Co-opting symbolism from Huang’s ethnic background, it depicts a nowhere world sparsely filled with the machinery of Chinese ritual. Chittering, jerky forms locate and dislocate themselves, interacting with themselves and one another, haunted by a veil – another bit of animated fabric that seems possessed with a life force of its own. The fractured movements of the dancers are unnatural; insectile and simultaneously fluid and glitchy, like the disintegration of datamoshed footage.
The film employs symbolism, rejecting monsters, as emphatically as Solipsist, though is further loaded by the directness of Huang’s own experience. Its name refers to a kind of space, inbuilt negative space between ceilings and floors, or behind walls; it engages with the liminal, as Huang describes it: the space between. Between what? Cultures, realities. It plays out some of his racial complexes, the experience of growing up in a new and domineering cultural environment, with a home life steeped in ancient and sophisticated and fundamentally other traditions, values, language.
by the richness of the imagery. The hot, red lighting is almost Lynchian, the animated veil, a lantern and a palanquin. All are loaded with meaning, but subvert the standards of more conventional video-artworks.
“It wasn’t in the foreground of our family conversation every day or anything,” Huang says, “but the idea of being orientalised, or being marginalised, was always kind of in the back of our consciousness. I think with a lot of the work that I made in my twenties, I didn’t ever want to make anything that was political, or that referenced my own identity as a marginalised person ever. I think I was always really afraid to go there.”
Ultimately, he says, “I still consider myself a filmmaker because I feel like I still want to tell people stories, and I still want to engage people in a format where they sit down and watch it beginning to end, and they’re drawn in, you know?” It’s within that conventional aspiration that Huang finds room to test, and push, the boundaries – of music videos, symbolism and an audience’s expectation. But it’s in the strength of his creative interests that he’s able to explore his own ideas, at the same time as doing justice to someone else’s.
These ideas are certainly present, with racial discourses and expectations further muddied through various casting decisions – the overt orientalism of the set-pieces playing out behind exclusively African-American dancers, for example, but at times they become subsumed
So how are Huang's films to be viewed? He describes a personal uncertainty, regarding distinctions between his commercial and personal projects, “how to navigate the tightrope between the two communities.” He’s cautious of the cut-and-paste potential of the commercial, but also wary of down-theline video art – “It’s hard to watch, right?”
Andrew Thomas Huang’s Björk collaborations Black Lake and Stonemilker VR appear at the Björk Digital exhibition, which runs at Somerset House until 23 October
Words: Grant Brydon Photography: Mehdi Lacoste Set Design: Dora Miller Styling: Luci Ellis Styling Assistant: Leah Abbott
Fear and loathing in South Central Los Angeles. Against an orange sky Groovy Tony hurtles through the street, full throttle, in an old school Chevrolet. His round sunglasses and black fedora cast a shadow of humanity over his otherwise featureless face. The No Face Killer’s psychedelic excursion leads him off on a wild ride of prescription drug sales, debauchery and overblown action scenes that would require a Hollywood budget. At times the madness begins to numb, allowing for moments of deep thought, glimpses of a former life glimpsing out through the lucid ultra-violence. ScHoolboy Q’s Blank Face LP is both sonically and aesthetically unique. It’s both a love letter to the hardcore street rap of the mid-2000s and a sprawling, blockbuster album crafted to be mass consumed via social media. It consolidates a position that he’s been developing for a while now, South Central’s premier gonzo journalist; Hunter S. Thompson if he’d grown up gang-banging with a soundtrack of 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. Like all great writing, there's an autobiographical element to Q's work. “It’s a lifestyle, you know?” he explained to Crack. “It ain’t as easy as just rapping about it.”
“Your favourite rapper broke, he don’t get this paper. But claim he got a kilo, been born in ’93 though,” he spits on Black Thoughts, showing up those rappers whose laughably
preposterous lyrics aren’t to be believed. Q’s brand of vivid street storytelling has him agonising over the details – dirty jeans, a shattered wing mirror, orange shoelaces, pissy sofas and Pringles litter his stanzas – painting a vivid picture of the warts-and-all West Coast gangster lifestyle that we’re fed all too often in a glamourised fast-food fashion. From the cinematic feel of the music, to the movie-ticket shaped cover art – film has been an important influence on Q’s latest album, even moreso than his previous work. He kicked off the campaign with the Jack Begert-directed Groovy Tony video, taking place mostly in first person, and setting the pulp fiction tone of the album from the jump. In the video we’re introduced to the faceless character who adorns the album’s cover, as he goes on an after hours killing spree in a container terminal. As one quarter of Black Hippy, arguably one of the strongest rap collectives in the game right now, it’s been vital for each member to develop their own lane or be eaten up by the success of their peers. Back in the early days, around 2010, Kendrick Lamar would bring Q on stage, paying him with exposure about $200 per show. “I was just his hypeman,” Q explained, “but he was making sure I got loved.” Without a strong sense of individuality, he could have easily been regurgitated as one of rap history’s many sidemen. But for Q, his charisma is effortless.
Between his breakthrough Setbacks mixtape and his acclaimed Habits + Contradictions album he’d evolved from snapbacks to bucket hats, and by the time he’d unleashed his debut album Oxymoron you’d be most likely to catch him rocking a fedora. He’s rescued “groovy” from 70s disco lingo to a reflection of his wavy lifestyle and scrawled his distinctive handwriting across a number of TDE releases (including Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D city and To Pimp A Butterfly). Watching him perform live in socks, a dashiki and his staple hat and glasses, it’s clear that Q is comfortable in his own skin. He promotes individuality, but not in a try-hard sense. Q is about the details, from the hard work and grit that goes into his lyrics, to the way he capitalizes every H in his tweets to represent the Hoover Street Crips and the HiiiPoWeR frame of mind. As he continues to expand his mythology and originality on the Blank Face LP, we’re reminded of an early warning of his uncompromising stance back from Black Hippy’s remix of U.O.E.N.O back in 2013: “Gangsta nigga, no trap beats, bet I still sound like the new shit. Originality in my blueprint, still Figg side, Figure pimp.” As he continues to make music that sounds unlike any other MC in the market, this promise still stands. Blank Face is out now via Top Dawg / Interscope
Hat: Artist’s Own Sunglasses: Garrett Leight Jewellery: Artist’s Own Black T-shirt: Alexander Wang
Jewellery: Artistâ€™s Own Sweatshirt: Vintage
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JOHN CARPENTER: LIVE
23.10.16 SUNDAY 23 OCTOBER, 7PM - 12PM COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL SIMPLETHINGSFESTIVAL.CO.UK
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065 DEKMANTEL Amsterdamse Bos 4 - 7 August
Words: Thomas Frost + Anna Tehabsim Photography: Bart Heemskerk + Desiré Van Den Berg
Proper, a veteran of the Amsterdam scene, was the first booking for Dekmantel back in 2007 when he played a 200-capacity party. Having lit the fuse with that event, you get the sense that Dekmantel has gradually grown into a dream scenario for its creators. Not only has it become a major focus within electronic music – amassing an unwavering support base and garnering ecstatic reviews across the board – it has also allowed them to invite a growing tally of their musical heroes year on year. And Proper was right: throughout the event, emphasis is placed on intimacy despite demand growing exponentially. This year’s festival seemed to be the biggest yet in terms of scope but its success was fueled by
never losing focus of its initial spirit and charm. 2016 saw the team stick with its winning formula while pouring passion into every aspect of the event. The beautifully constructed site, consisting of five expertly curated stages woven neatly into its woodland setting, remained relatively untouched from last year, with regulars soaking up new experiences on their nowcoveted stages and new attendees noting the ease at which you can move between them. There were slight changes – this year the opening programme was expanded to include conference talks with the likes of Marcellus Pittman and Surgeon alongside rare performances such as Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H. Kirk and Tony Allen (the latter who performed a joyous set at the waterfront Tolhuistuin venue), giving the event a refreshed, well-rounded feel. One of Dekmantel’s strengths is its interspersing of first-class electronic talent alongside those on the rise. DJ Harvey’s opening
set on the beloved Selectors stage was a particularly special touch. With a solid hour and a half of precipitation greeting those first through the gates, the first 45 minutes of his set were abstract wanderings that somewhat suited the dank weather. Mirroring the anticipation before the sky clearer and gave way to sunnier climes, the groove was eventually found and the pleasure in watching an empty dance-floor become packed out was fulfilled. Later in the afternoon, Ricardo Villalobos was in a playful mood as he returned to take the slot he played last year. Even by his own flamboyant standards, this was an animated set skirting between hi-octane cuts that reflected the good weather and more abstract techno wanderings towards the end. Diversity was also a focal point this year. Friday was a great example of this, spanning Holly Herndon’s avant-laptop pop in the UFO tent, freaky acid jazz and wigged out house from Theo Parrish b2b Marcellus Pittman,
driving jams from Ben UFO and Joy Orbison on the main stage, and whiplash electro from DJ Stingray at Boiler Room. The variation in sound on Sunday in the Greenhouse was a welcome addition, with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s wayward vocal wanderings halted sporadically while he pulled fans on stage to share joints and slow-dance. Special Request’s proto-jungle got a huge response, as did the absolutely ferocious set from Digital Mystikz. With the crowd dancing like it was 2006, there were three mosh-pits at the final count as Mala and Coki turned back the clock. Old and new cuts were shared – the latest from The Bug gave way to classics like Shattered by Coki and Anti-War Dub. The reverence with which Mystikz are held was evident from the large numbers of producers and DJs fully locked in by a speaker at the front. As well as spanning such a diverse array of talent, the event also acts as a snapshot of the
Dutch scene as well as artists close to the festival’s heart. The Red Light Radio stage was a good example of this; an embodiment of the ongoing strength of the Netherlands’ tight knit DJ community. Holding down a tiny pop-up studio amongst the catering area, station regulars were joined sporadically by the likes of Lena Willikens and Trax, the latter who has recently developed a personal connection with the station crew, banging a three hour set of jacking acid out of the tiny hut to a sparse crowd who looked like they couldn’t quite believe their luck. The headline scheduling of homegrown talent also neatly reflected how far much of Dekmantel’s core artists have advanced since the festival began: Tom Trago played back-to-back with Cinnaman, label regular Joey Anderson closed out proceedings at the foliage-filled Greenhouse stage, and Intergalactic Gary proved just why his profile has risen so much over the past year while closing pro-
ceedings on the Selectors stage. After closing out the festival, the theme continued with after parties at The Melkweg, where Hunee and Antal’s soaring disco infusions, IF’s moodier slant and Legowelt’s live electronic explorations all continued to capture our imaginations in the Crack Magazine-hosted room. But it was Motor City Drum Ensemble’s exuberant closing set on the main stage offered up the pinnacle of this – a fittingly epic zenith of a success story that keeps artistic integrity close to its heart.
Speaking in our Destination: Amsterdam documentary last year, San Proper praised Dekmantel for sustaining the event’s initial energy, saying, “they showed the rest of the festival culture that it’s actually way more interesting to keep it intimate.”
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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2016
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THE BEST IN NEW LIVE MUSIC
BOOMTOWN FAIR Matterley Bowl, Winchester 11 - 14 August
BERLIN ATONAL Various Venues, Berlin 24 – 28 August The now legendary Kraftwerk building acts as the central gathering point at Berlin Atonal. This former power plant, built around the same time as the Berlin wall, used to provide heating to the residents of East Berlin. And one cannot talk about Berlin Atonal without noting the impact this larger than life edifice has on its attendees. Equipped with an impressive minimalist lighting system that is harmoniously synchronized with the sounds rattling through the space, at one end of the hall a three-storey high screen provides the backdrop against countless fog machines. This, combined to the immensity of the main hall, lends to an overall sense of awe. Atonal also curates a brilliant selection of contemporary visual art, and this year’s installations emphasised the convergence of analog and digital medias. Since the resurgence of the festival four years ago – after a 23 year hiatus following the fall of the Berlin wall – Berlin Atonal named Delfina Venditi as its art director; offering a refined coherence and organic evolution of the festival’s visual identity. To abstractly introduce this year’s edition, various mediums and techniques were used to create abstract poetic arrangements of broken shapes and forms. Breaking away from the standards of graphic design, Delfina Venditi set the stage for the festival’s gathering of the jagged and confrontational vanguard of modern noise, industrial and techno. Unique collaborations are a guiding force for the musical programme each year, and this was no different. Canadians Orphx and JK Fresh (Justin K. Broadrick of the legendary Godflesh) engulfed the main stage with a haunting blend of dark industrial techno. Jealous God label head Juan Mendez’s alias Silent Servant and Berlin-based Phase Fatale provided a searing set, and the grand finale was reserved to ex-Nine Inch Nails synth wizard Alessandro Cortini for the world premiere of his AVANTI project, with immersive visual arrangements by Sean Curtis Patrick. An open mind, a sense of curiosity and adventure are the key components to keep in mind while experiencing Berlin Atonal. Beyond the formal beauty of its artistic selection and setting, there emanates from Berlin Atonal an intangible sense of magic where each of its elements converge and complete each other harmoniously.
Boomtown Fair has once again made a grab for the crown prize of festival production. Every district is driven by a zany narrative with semiserious political undertones: from the showstopping grandeur of China Town, its nine-story high Bang Hai Palace and the sexy dystopia of DSTRKT 9, to Mayfair’s down-at-heel decadence and the wacky antics to be found in the Wild West. New stage Vamos draws on all things Mexicana to provide a technicolour backdrop for a revolutionary influx of house and techno, with sets from the likes of Jackmaster and Skream contributing to an otherwise bass-heavy line-up. The industrial Sector 6 area dominates the landscape with its sheer scale. An exuberant press officer told us that the increasingly powermad leader of Boomtown (a Frieda Kahlo-esque Comrade Jose) rose to prominence on a wave of support and installed an industrial powerhouse complex. However, her megalomaniac ways now face discontent as revolutionary forces take over, and turn it into a rebel stronghold of their own. A sprawling complex of towers, turbines, pipelines and platforms, practically every segment is a moving part that spits fire and lasers, while black-clad revolutionaries spray pyrotechnics. With heavy nods to Anonymous mission statement videos, the common law rights of squatting, and anti-establishment sentiments, the defiant, rebellious antics of the faceless revolutionary figures took on an exciting anarchic atmosphere. In terms of the soundtrack to this madness, Saturday night saw a grime and garage takeover that began with Newham Generals, and progressed to a set from So Solid Crew that drew as much on current beats as it did on nostalgia. Sunday night took it back to drums, climaxing with a heavy Hype b2b Hazard set sure to please both dedicated and casual fans of hi-octane drum‘n’bass. We’re lucky in the UK to have many festivals that champion enlightenment, mind expansion and political purpose. But few have that feel of having risen from the thriving underbelly of the underground in the way that Boomtown Fair has.
! Anna Herber Boomtown Fair
DIMENSIONS Pula, Croatia 25 – 28 August
BLUEDOT Jodrell Bank Observatory 22 - 24 July In the shadow of the monstrous landmark of technology that is the telescope of Jodrell Bank, the inaugural Bluedot festival hosted sets from the likes of Underworld, Jean Michel Jarre and Caribou alongside scholarly and comedic selections curated by some of the Northern region’s foremost arts and culture powerhouses. The welcoming feel of the festival held no bounds as all ages groups donned the same wide-eyed gasping face at the technological feats on show. That same awe-struck amazement was shared by all in attendance for Underworld’s mastery, while Jean Michel Jarre’s cosmic transcendence sent the crowd into a hysteria. Bluedot also showcased two more contemporary supernovas in the form of Floating Points and Ben UFO. The visual accompaniment to Floating Points’ live set left many in a trance as the live band brought together the intricate compositions from his record, transforming into an entrancing outpouring on the Orbit stage – a blast of futuristic modernity on a bill fleshed out by nostalgia. Like all good extraterrestrial sagas, Bluedot has already announced its sequel hitting Jodrell Bank for 2017, with their marriage of science and music is only beginning to develop. Something for the family that offers enough for the spaceage partiers.
When the sun goes down at Dimensions festival it marks the end of the day, but only the beginning of a long night. This is a festival that goes hard into the early hours of the morning – fuelled by drowsy, restful days spent on the beach and, of course, a line-up which serves a mixture of underground and well-known electronic artists and a sprinkling of hip-hop to an eagerly awaiting European crowd. As the smaller sister to Outlook, the festival is known, as one punter put it, for being the organisers’ “baby”. This year saw Dimensions celebrating its five-year anniversary, with a line-up to match. At the magnificent Roman amphitheatre in Pula’s town centre, Massive Attack pounded through an emotional opening concert performance. Dimensions ‘proper’ began the next day, taking over a sprawling campsite spread over an old stone fort on the seafront tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. The beach is stony and the sea slightly cold, but the scenery is beautiful. I spent multiple days baking on the beach, watching ridiculously toned, tanned and beautiful people splashing around in the water, and listening to the music from the only daytime stage, Beach Party. From Brian Shimkovitz’s blog-turned-label Awesome Tapes From Africa to Jordan Reiki’s crooning vocals and Hunee’s crowd-drawing set, this was Dimensions at its chillest. The festival’s Knowledge Arena, headed up by CDR founder Tony Nwachukwu, emphasised what I realised quite quickly: this is very much a festival for musicians. At the arena, artists lent their skills and time; teaching aspiring producers and novices how to work their way around music technology like Ableton. The festival’s keen eye for artistry continued across the weekend. The final standout performance of the event (although Josey Rebelle, Loefah, Kahn, GAIKA and Mala all deserve a mention) was Hiyatus Kyote’s set on the Sunday evening. In a crowd which had just enough space breathe, lead singer Nai Palm shined: a vision, with her boxy cut black hair and effortlessly clean, soulful vocals. It was the perfect end to a closeto-perfect festival.
! Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff N Dan Medhurst
! Tai Kolade N Jody Hartley
! Nina Langel N Helge Mundt
CLUB.THE.MAMMOTH. PRESENTS THE SUNSHINE UNDERGROUND + YUMI AND THE WEATHER
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SHAW THING PRODUCTIONS AND 27 LONDON LIMITED
A NEW MUSICAL
THE RISE OF A FALLING STAR MUSIC, BOOK AND LYRICS BY
08 sep - 22 oct
GUCCI MANE Everybody Looking Atlantic Records
To define Mykki Blanco by genre is to miss the point entirely. Following three mixtapes, three EPs and a group project, the creative polymath has stretched boundaries with anomalous, intense musical output spanning uncompromising hip-hop, riot grrrl-influenced lo-fi punk and industrial techno. It’s been five years since the debut Mykki Blanco performance at New York’s Ghe20G0th1k party, and now we have Blanco’s debut retail album Mykki, which is an expansive testament to this versatility – and, for some, surprising – proof of the artist’s pop sensibilities. Loner, for e xample, is a great pop song in many ways; despite its lyrical exploration of depression and abandonment (“I’m fucked up / I’m so sad / I need help / I know that”), the song is armed with beautiful melodies, hypnotic production and a glitchy earworm chorus designed to linger. Tripped-out ballad High School Never Ends is another highlight; psychedelic lyrics and hazy vocals gradually build up to Woodkid’s wounded, emotive cries of “Why don’t you just delete me?” It’s a revelation of the album’s thematic core: love and loss. This theme is most prominent in a spoken-word interlude, in which Blanco muses on desire before deciding that selflove and self-respect are crucial facilitators of intimacy. Tellingly, Blanco’s poetry precedes the album’s most personal track, You Don’t Know Me, a musical exorcism of past sins: “Save me for my heart is bitter, Lord, I need the light”.
Despite the fact that a Canadian child actor and a former Miami corrections officer became two of this century’s biggest rap stars, insufficient realness can still do damage to a spitter’s credibility and his career. As such, an artist on the rise can fall victim to a number of institutional and systematic snares. A godfather of trap music with a history of repeated arrests and incarcerations, Gucci Mane knows this all too well. Beloved by many for his role in centring the contemporary hip-hop conversation on Atlanta after decades of coastal dominance, the personal toll of his invaluable contributions finally seem to have accumulated enough to lead to some much-needed lifestyle changes. Freshly released from a fairly substantial federal prison stint, Gucci surprised many with sobriety and a lean new look, along with a rapidly released series of newly recorded tunes. Thematically, Everybody Looking is a sometimes shaky, but often rewarding, entry into a post-trap future, albeit one with beats by trap producers like Zaytoven and guest appearances by Gucci’s major trainee Young Thug. No longer the selfmedicated doughy thirty-something seen grinning fiendishly throughout Spring Breakers, a fitter, happier Gucci looks back on his time as a pint-a-day promethazine addict with a sense of enlightened bewilderment on No Sleep. He brushes over six figure Vegas losses like shoulder dirt on Waybach while calmly recalling a karmic comeuppance on Robbed. Transcending any existing or quashed beefs, Gucci basks in his own influence on the tongue-in-cheek All My Children. And just to show that he hasn’t lost his knack for that drug dealer braggadocio, bonus track Multi Millionaire Laflare drops slick allusions to Escobar and luxury accessories. Though authenticity has become one of the more malleable hip-hop tenets in recent years, a lot of rappers still purport to be about that life and Gucci still reigns supreme, however much the life changed him. Welcome home.
If New York’s Tri Angle label is, as their bio says, “haunted by the need to find things that will haunt us,” then signing Josiah Wise, aka serpentwithfeet, must have provided them with a great sense of satisfaction. The 28-year-old Harlem-based artist effortlessly blends slinky RnB slides with neo-soul and gospel elements to create songs with an emotional impact that lingers. Although his earlier demos disappeared from the internet, one line from Wise’s earlier Soundcloud releases resonated a theme that’s echoed in this EP: “being lonely is not a win/ being a slave to hatred is not a win”. Some might perceive the smoothness of Wise’s sound almost contrary to his striking, heavily-modified physical appearance, and thematically, blisters reflects on feelings of love, loneliness, identity and spirituality. In flickering, Wise sings: “My will is strong/ take this body as yours/ I offer myself to you”. The imagery could be perceived as sexual, or a reference to his Christian upbringing. Wise’s goth-gospel approach is, nonetheless, refreshingly honest. “How can I touch somebody who can’t even touch themselves?” he sings in brassy RnB track four ethers, perhaps an allusion to his own transformation to a proudly queer individual. “I am constantly looking for ways to make my music extra gay and extra black,” Wise said in an interview last year. Through blisters, Wise breaks down the conventional boundaries of blackness, gayness and otherness, and the beauty of the results is accessible by all.
! Jake Hall
! Gary Suarez
! Gunseli Yalcinkaya
MYKKI BL ANCO Mykki !K7
ANGEL OLSEN My Woman Jagjaguwar
SERPENT WITHFEET blisters Tri Angle
FR ANK OCE AN Blond[e] Boys Don’t Cry
In the grand scheme of things, four years isn’t that long. Reality, however, feels different: four years in the age of digital nativism is better measured in hours. And, yes, it’s hard not to admit that 35,544 hours sounds like a long time. But Frank Ocean’s Blond[e], as much as it’s about anything, is an album concerned with time in a wholly different fashion – not how it passes, but how it changes and changes us in the process. From the thinly-if-at-all veiled digs of Futura Free (“I ain't on your schedule, I ain't on no schedule”) – which could as easily be aimed at impatient fans as much as at the label obligations he’s expertly extricated himself from with the aid of Endless – to the shifting seasons and the times of day (the summer, the moonlight, the solstice) that figure so prominently in Skyline To, Blond[e] tackles questions about the speed, shape, inevitability and subjectivity of time and our place within it. White Ferrari is a hazy mix of nostalgia and self-realisation; photo snapshots of memories punctuated with lines – “16: how was I supposed to know anything?” / “Mind over matter is magic” / “Clearly this isn't all that there is” – that throw them instantly into doubt. A phone call from a mother to a son on Be Yourself, too, is sweet and sincere on the surface – but this isn’t Ocean’s mother and this message wasn’t for him: it’s like a treatise in the art of misremembering – a reminder of how memories can be skewed, transformed, and even absorbed over time. As Ocean wrote in reflection of his recent life in an accompanying Tumblr post: “in my rearview mirror it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good.” Blond[e], as a collection of songs, feels erratic more often than organic – certainly compared to Channel ORANGE. But for those who critique the patchwork nature of the album, its apparent unevenness, how it seems “stitched together”, or that a “few standout songs” don’t necessarily make for a cohesive album, there is a vital missing of the point. With 44 credited contributors, some of them literal and some very much spiritual, over 17 songs – a mix of atmospheric ambience (Siegfried), slow beats (Nikes), fast verses (Solo (Reprise)), and reaching, often distorted falsetto (Ivy) – the only thought given to consistency is that consistency has no place in reality or the narrative arc of this album. Frank Ocean knows that, as individuals, we’re built from our memories – and that memory, in short, is messy. The crass question of whether or not Blond[e] was “worth waiting for” is, as ever, one not actually worth answering. “Who was I while I waited?” Now, that’s something worth thinking about.
! Karl Smith
On 2012’s Half Way Home, Angel Olsen’s sorrow-laden voice was taken at face value, plonking her sound within a country-folk acoustic genre. But then 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness switched up the genre trappings, with the production lo-fi and the guitars grungey. Suddenly, Olsen’s cutting humour and palpable anger came to the fore – lyrics that previously would have seemed sentimental were changed by the knowledge that Angel Olsen simply doesn’t give a fuck. Burn Your Fire for No Witness presented a laconic Olsen, singing in an intentionally downbeat manner, teething emotion out of barely audible syllables. She sang like a child that had been told a thousand times how pretty her voice is – stubbornly, maybe even insolent. This is not the case with My Woman. Here, Olsen has fallen back in love with her timbre. She jumps around scales, introduces some gorgeous work in the higher registers, and employs a breathiness in Those Were the Days that transcends flirtatiousness. She’s not belting it out of course, but she's playing with the different textures available to her – she goes from almost loungey in Woman to falteringly emotional in retro rock anthem Shut Up Kiss Me (which benefits exponentially from viewing Olsen perform it, full of sarcasm and self-parody, in the song’s music video). The record is intended as a classic A/B side, with the particularly moving tracks languishing in the closing act. And here the sunny climes of LA’s Vox Studios are more obvious, with songs like the Fleetwood Mac-indebted Sister given permission to stretch out on a sunlounger and approach the eight-minute mark. Closer Pops, meanwhile, is a sparse piano ballad that could soundtrack an episode of a California teen melodrama. “After it all ends/ we’ll be just like friends/ Hey, what was that passing us by?" goes the heartbroken lament. And then, the knowing wink of maturity: "Hey, it was only something in my eyes.” ! Suzie McCracken
07 08 03
JENNY HVAL Blood Bitch Sacred Bones
WARPAINT Heads Up Rough Trade
On 27 July, an album titled 10/10 appeared on a Bandamp page called “jesus, take the wheel”. As with most things attached, however loosely, to the Hype Williams project, the LP is not without smoke and mirrors. Is Hype Williams still a collaboration between Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland? Or, as it has been claimed, has the line-up changed? If so, then who is Denna Frances Glass? Her name surfaces regularly throughout Hype Williams lore. It was Glass who announced Blunt and Copeland’s departure from Hype Williams back in 2013, and who reiterated that “the ting continues with other cats” for the release of 10/10. Early descriptions of Glass are outlandish – describing her as a founding member of Hype Williams alongside her husband, motivational speaker Father Ronnie Krayola – but recently she has been more reservedly credited as the outfit’s manager. She is only contactable via email. The pursuit of logic here bears fruit: Denna Frances Glass is surely Dean Blunt – an artist who never wants our eyes to settle on him for long enough for us to feel that we really know him. But regardless of who actually made this album, the music here is a marked lowpoint in Hype Williams’ discography. At their best, Hype Williams sound like composite retellings of recent cultural history. Surreal abstractions of urban decay. 10/10 lacks the weather or rust to achieve this pull. While on stronger moments like DIVA or REVELATIONS, there’s some absurd appeal in the tackiness, the album is often uncharacteristically emotionless, and recurrently dull. Ultimately, sleight of hand tactics are only so interesting. The game is only fun when the prize at the end is worth winning. 10/10 sees Hype Williams at their most opaque, and as such their most impenetrable.
In a press release, Norwegian art-pop auteur Jenny Hval asserts that her fifth album, and the third under her own name, is about blood, menstruation, and vampires. These things are referenced throughout Blood Bitch, but in typical Hval style, the ideas feed into grander themes – desire, control, and confusion fleck every track. Musically, Blood Bitch is Hval’s most accessible work so far. Conceptual Romance, a raw love song with a catchy chorus, proves this, as does Female Vampire, a pulsing meditation on losing yourself to someone else. But while the music is more straightforward than ever before, Hval’s lyrics, when you can make them out above the swirl of melodic synth work, still invite deeper analysis. There are jarring moments too – field recordings reminiscent of the sound of urination, screeching feedback, and ripping electronic organ aim to shake you out of the dreamy reflection the sway of her throbbing synth-pop and gorgeous harmonisation lulls you into. Highlighted previously on last year’s Apocalypse, girl, Hval’s storytelling continues to be compelling. One of the most powerful moments of the album casts Hval back to childhood, where she starts to recollect a memory: upon waking up, she discovers blood on the bed. “Didn’t know it was time yet,” she ponders, before following a gut instinct to dip her finger in the liquid and mark the room with it. The song ends, “I have big dreams. And blood powers.” Elsewhere, she takes her birth control with a glass of rosé, and feels more connected to her body after being examined with a speculum by a doctor. Ultimately, this is an album reflecting on what Jenny Hval refers to twice on the album, in separate songs: her “combined failures.” Convinced that she’s too lustful, too obsessive, too much, she repeatedly makes snatches at ways of surviving: “I don’t know who I am – but I’m working on it,” she sings. It’s an amalgamation of past, present and future, and a dazzling realisation of self from one of the most thought-provoking songwriters working today.
The conflict between two schools of hip-hop fan continues. Those who hold lyrical complexity and soulful samples as the touchstones of quality watch on in disbelief as radio stations and audiences celebrate a sound built – in part – on club-ready beats and hashtag-friendly punchlines. More than most, Rae Sremmurd have been caught in the crossfire of this war. The brothers’ distinctive, stop-start flow arrives in tightly-screwed bursts – a style which has been mimicked and parodied ever since their hook-heavy debut album, 2015’s SremmLife. Here, on the much-anticipated follow-up to that hit-machine, the Atlanta-via-Mississippi duo unlock something even more hyperactive, gleefully throwing any artistic inhibitions out the window. And that’s the beauty of SremmLife 2. Swae Lee’s unique songwriting style – which helped form the hook of Beyoncé’s historic Formation earlier in the year – reaches giddy new heights here. His scratchy squawks are offset by the forceful delivery of his brother Slim Jxmmi’s, who practically explodes on the aptly titled opener Start A Party. The Gucci Mane collaboration, Black Beatles, is a banger for the ages – a gloriously melodic club ballad with a hook you’ll struggle to forget. Then there’s Set The Roof, where the brothers team up with crunk emperor Lil Jon for a pastiche of the style in its mid-2000s commercial peak. It’s a smart nod, Lee and Jxmmi would have been eight and nine years old respectively when Get Low took over the charts for 21 weeks. But by bringing Lil Jon into the fold, they acknowledge the forefather of their philosophy – an unapologetic expression of youthful energy. The brothers are darting forward here – amplifying their eccentricities for those willing to embrace their magnetism. The war wages on, but Rae Sremmurd barely even acknowledge it. Resistance is futile.
As indicated by the score above, this is a terrible record. But before we get started, let’s just set one thing straight: as the founder and producer of the Wu-Tang Clan during their 9397 peak, RZA is responsible for some of the greatest music ever committed to record. In recent times, however, it’s like RZA’s been doing everything he can do break a Wu fan’s heart. As if totally fumbling the production of last year’s Wu-Tang Clan album A Better Tomorrow wasn’t enough to damage the group’s legacy, RZA simultaneously teamed up with obscure Wu hanger-on Cilvaringz to flog Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a press-baiting “one of a kind” album which somehow landed in the hands of a price-hiking pharmaceutical executive whose behaviour is so appalling I can’t even bring myself to type his name. And now, RZA persists with Anything But Words – an awkward indie-rap record made in collaboration with Interpol frontman Paul Banks. RZA’s been preoccupied with analogue instrumentation for some time, and this isn’t Paul Banks’ first foray into hiphop. He’s played rap sets as DJ Fancypants, and you may have forgotten Everybody On My Dick Like They Supposed To Be, a mostly-instrumental hiphop mixtape that was initially supposed to be some kind of ironic press stunt to draw attention to his 2012 solo album. While neither party comes off looking good here, to be fair to RZA, at least he sounds like he’s trying to rap here – for half the record he splutters jagged syllables as if he knows he’s still got something to prove. But then, by obligation, Banks creeps into every track with a whiney hook and dour indie rock guitars, sheepishly steering the musical direction back towards the middle of the road. Let’s just pretend this never happened.
Ultra, like much of Zomby's output, is deceptively simple. The sparse drum patterns belie a compositional depth and range of influences that rewards repeated listens. Breakbeat, 'ardcore, techno, ambient, garage, house and RnB are all dissected and digested here to form the masked producer’s own distinct palette. Following a comparatively clean-sounding pair of EPs released via XL Recordings, Ultra – Zomby’s fourth full length – is an album of restraint. There's nothing close to a club-friendly beat until the fourth track, and the overall pace is slow. Like the experience of being passed a joint by a much more experienced smoker than you, Zomby demands that listeners lose themselves and tune into his warped perception of passing time. Yet with Zomby, we’ve come to expect the unexpected, and Ultra switches between tempo and genre with itchy impatience. The guest spots on Ultra stand out for all the right reasons. On Fly 2, London producer Banshee joins Zomby to manipulate an RnB vocal sample into an emotive, catchy hook. Sweetz, produced with the similarly shadowy producer Burial, is a menacing seven minutes of enigmatic and aggressive vocal loops, tape hiss and degraded rave percussion. Deserving of the hype it garnered when released as a limited single sided 10" last month, Sweetz is a great combination of Burial's taught, paranoid sound and Zomby's harder-hitting approach. Where beats are present, they’re often set against loosely programmed samples and hooks, deftly treading towards the dancefloor with lurching unease. Ultra is a record that fluctuates between gentle euphoria and anxious dread, and it’s yet another great album from a fascinating producer.
“Cool. Let’s try it,” a member of Warpaint says part way through Heads Up. It’s hard to tell, but the voice might belong to Stella Mozgawa. Since the drummer joined Emily Kokal, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Theresa Wayman in 2009, Warpaint have spoken with a singular, inimitable voice – one that’s defined by that spirit of casual experimentation. After the dust settled on 2014’s critically celebrated Warpaint, the four-piece spent eighteen months following individual paths. Then, when they reunited for this, their third LP, the band chose to record in pairs – or even solo sessions. It’s a brave new step, and as a result, Warpaint’s trademark singularity has been switched out for songs which amplify the individual personalities of the band’s constituent parts. Over eleven tracks the record sprawls in a dozen disparate directions, completed by the band’s usual brew of precise, perfect detail and ramshackle, dizzying jam sessions. Soft, eerie hip-hop beats form the backbone of Dre, So Good has a shimmering, unsettling carnival quality that will sound ridiculous live, Don’t Let Go captures the mood of Lindberg’s 2015 solo record right on!, and Today Dear carries echoes of Kokal’s atmospheric home recordings. By Your Side opens with cold, electronic beats, only to melt into familiar Warpaint stonerpsych. For the most, Heads Up feels as spontaneous and raw as their debut EP – they’ve even revisited Exquisite Corpse’s original producer Jacob Bercovici. Yet New Song, the record’s disappointingly generic, radio-ready single, saw YouTube commenters scrambling to describe the dance-pop sidestep; “Done a Grimes” was a common (misguided) complaint. Although pure pop in isolation, in full-album context the single is just another turn in Warpaint’s constant, effervescent shape-shifting. They’re just trying things out. The strange psychic ties which hold the four-piece close have slackened slightly - for the better. Heads Up is earnest, warm and complicated, and Warpaint have always rewarded patient listeners. Trust them.
! Angus Harrison
! Sammy Jones
! Duncan Harrison
! Davy Reed
! Thomas Painter
! Katie Hawthorne
HYPE WILLIAMS 10/10 Self-released
R AE SREMMURD SremmLife 2 Interscope / Ear Drummer BANKS & STEELZ Anything But Words Warner Bros.
ZOMBY Ultra Hyperdub
BIOSPHERE D E PA R T E D G LO R I E S
New album out 23 September 2 Ã— LP ( incl. CD ), Digital and CD
Industrially powered electronica is a niche that Mogwai’s Rock Action label does well. Following the playful prog of Errors and the caustic cacophonies of Blanck Mass comes Xander Harris – and he’s got some more scary noises to spook you with. Opener The Scarlet Deception sets the tone for the rest of the album: epic, melodramatic synth lines and a dark, pulsing rhythmic core. Straight Up Satan has a fair amount in common with the brooding analogue contours of Mogwai’s Rave Tapes – in fact the production of the album consistently evokes the Scottish post-rock titans’ more electronic-based material. Buckle Bunny, which is the closest thing on the album to a pop song, is a gentlyeuphoric robo-anthem, while Dirts sounds like Helena Hauff slightly waylaid by a languid daydream, rather than engaged in teeth-gnashing techno. Although the dramatic horror aesthetics get a little grating, with California Chrome, Xander Harris has pulled off soundtrack for introspective bedroom raving in the dead of night.
The enigmatic Swedes return with their third album in four years. Anonymously masked and dabbling in several unfashionable genres; on paper, Goat should be a pretty niche prospect. But with the release of 2012‘s World Music, the group ascended. The fatfree approach of their songcraft, when merged with the music’s exhilarating danceability, lowers the barrier of entry. Goat’s brand of weird is weirdly accessible. To say this is their “folk” album, as Goat themselves have declared, is fair. There’s a little less of the searing, fuzzy psych rock guitars and instead a wider range of wind and percussive instruments. Opener Union of Sun and Moon begins with an homage to Béla Fleck and Oumou Sangaré’s Djorolen, ritualistically sung over birdsong, before breaking into an infectious pan flute riff over bounding, tribal backing. The band clearly loved the pan flute while recording Requiem. It continues to prominently puff away over subsequent tracks – lead single I Sing in Silence and Temple Rhythms. A marked difference on this album is an increase in chirpier moments. These are best exemplified by Trouble in the Streets a nod to Ghanese Highlife bands of the 60s the floaty Psychedelic Lover and the bouncing jubilance of penultimate track, Goodbye. That’s not to say that their ripping moments have completely gone – the intensity is welcomed back on Goatfuzz – which is rooted around a buzzing Sabbath esque riff. Almost predictably, this is another great album from Goat. While they’ve absorbed and regurgitated a variety of cultural influences, Requiem sounds as though it was recorded in no particular place, and during no particular time. And thus is the measure of a band who have forged their own formula.
To say that we’ve been exposed to the many facets of M.I.A. would be a lie. Within her character, creativity, and art itself lies so much depth that it perhaps hasn't been mined enough. As it’s allegedly her final album, it makes sense for AIM to be unabashedly M.I.A. – a typically uncensored display of honesty. Here, we’re introduced to the real Mathangi Arulpragasam for all we’ve known her to be and more. A prime example of this character exploration is the two remixes of Bird Song – one from longtime Baltimore-based collaborator Blaqstarr, and the other from Diplo, with whom she shares a tumultuous personal and professional past. While Blaqstarr’s version is more stripped back, focusing on the almost grating bird song-cum-kazoo hook, Diplo works his signature dancehall groove, adding a little distortion to her vocals. There seems to be different objectives here; while Diplo’s take adds an edge bursting with sex appeal, Blaqstarr forces you to listen to her words of protest as she describes herself, “Humming higher than a drone / Doves cry.” The prominence of this hook is overpowering, but she’s still begging to be heard. Second-wave white feminists deemed the personal as political, but M.I.A. has always interpreted the political as personal. In her efforts to change the world, she does it the only way she knows how: through artistic impression. On Jump In, she raps “When I see that border, I cross that line” amongst a sea of glitchy vocal congestion. She continues to give no fucks, pushing for what she deems to be right, but perhaps that comes as a disadvantage. Crossing the line is a feat that doesn’t come without punishment, especially as a person of colour. That being said, it goes without saying that an M.I.A. record has to contain levels of self-love that border on braggadocio. Go Off exhibits this: “I’m on ten like men / Even better than them.” Her confidence is often perceived as arrogance, but those who criticise it don’t comprehend its importance; she’s lifting herself up in a world that wants to shoot and drone bomb her down. In this sense, you could draw comparisons between M.I.A. and Kanye West – for both artists passion for themselves and their art runs rampant through their blood. They make brash statements, sometimes imprecise and occasionally insensitive, but the music better communicates their message. If we are to believe M.I.A. that AIM is her last record, then this cathartic send-off encapsulates every ounce of her being, front to back.
It’s been three years since Giggs’ last retail album, and the South London Hollowman is now divorced from his most lucrative label signing with XL Recordings. But Giggs’ fanbase never forgot about him, and a terminated label contract has seemingly done little to stifle the buzz around his name. With Landlord, Giggs presents an album rich with pond-leaping trap-ordained production. Perhaps Landlord’s well-timed comeback is indebted to the pairing of the UK’s recent embrace of southern US hip-hop alongside the celebration of its homegrown MCs. Giggs’ vocal style – a slow, conversational flow that relies on charisma rather than agility – has always been more suited to spacious, US-style beats. Landlord is a record of personal truths – all of which Giggs wears with pride. "I dropped Walk In Da Park, got banned from the radio," he grumbles on Intro, before outlining how his flows smash up tracks and leave everyone "Pecky-narming." Like much of the record, it's his marrying of on-trend Atlanta-inspired drum patterns and slurry sub bass with an LDN vernacular that makes Landlord compelling. Guest features are also a matrimony between homespun MCs and international acts. The hunger of Stormzy's short lived 16s on The Blow Back make it sound as if it was his debut performance. Usher's young protege Rico Love appears on the notably pensive Of Course. CasIsDead and Young Teflon play the perfect counter to Giggs' sedated vocal interplay. It's also a relief to see Ard Bodied partner Dubz make the occasional appearance, reminding us that the duo's creative chemistry work is as strong today as it was eight years ago. Yes, maybe Landlord relies on its guest verses to keep album propped up. But with his ability to ride heavy duty beats and flip between intimidation and playful humour (“She’s telling me I’ve got handsomitis”), Landlord reminds us that there’s depth to the Hollowman’s craft.
! Adam Corner
! Ian Ochiltree
! Sarah Sahim
! Tom Watson
THEE OH SEES A Weird Exits Castle Face Records There are only so many times a review of Thee Oh Sees can open with a statement about frontman John Dwyer’s prolific work rate. But that A Weird Exits is the latest in a string of LPs released at a rate of more than once yearly since 2003 says something about Dwyer’s passion. Here, over eight new tracks, the garage rock powerhouse further pursues the tangent he took since dissolving the band’s ‘classic’ line-up in 2013. Having flirted with dual drummers in part on previous albums, A Weird Exits is the first to showcase this setup within the now permanent lineup. Alongside bassist Tim Hellman (formerly of Sic Alps), many of the songs feel crafted around this road-sharpened three-man rhythm section. This makes for a twitching – though tightly locked – rhythmic backdrop for Dwyer to Jackson Pollock over with vocals, guitar and synths. Openers Dead Man’s Gun and Ticklish Warrior showcase Thee Oh Sees’ heavier side with a sound that’s reminiscent of 2013’s Floating Coffin, as walls of thick riffs break into sweet melodies and swirling licks. Plastic Plant and Gelatinous Cube make up the album’s middle part, for which a krauty pulse pulsates throughout. The latter is already a muscular live staple, appearing on their Live In San Francisco LP earlier this year. The final three tracks float off spaceways, as Unwrap The Fiend Pt.2 builds from a quiet opener into a concurrent guitar and synth solo that unwinds itself at the end. Strings on Crawl Out From The Fall Out tie together voyaging tweaks and blips on the synth to an cinematic-like degree. The Axis is a gorgeous finale, entering with a fidgety groove of Barrett-era Pink Floyd that eventually douses itself in glitchy, fuzzed-out guitar before imploding on itself completely. Go listen before the next one comes out. ! Ian Ochiltree
GOAT Requiem Rocket Recordings
X ANDER HARRIS California Chrome Rock Action
M.I.A AIM Interscope / Polydor
GIGGS Landlord SN1 Records
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Life on the Road is a genuinely pathetic piece of work, one that not only harms the legacy of The Office but also pulls into question how it existed in the first place. Brent is now nothing more than a weird squeaking noise, his once clumsy cultural insensitivities have ballooned into poisonous and completely unrelatable references. The script rarely attempts anything resembling an actual joke – one scene sees Gervais literally just naming objects in a hotel room and shooting looks into camera. The plot, which follows Brent’s last ditch attempt to pursue a career in music, feels like the same few scenes on an endless loop of badly executed embarrassment and muted responses. It’s often said that Gervais and his Brent are inseparable – that one is simply a fictional manifestation of the other. Here the opposite seems true. The David Brent in this film is a completely different creature to the original series – both unlikable and crucially unrelatable – provoking the conclusion that Ricky Gervais has somehow lost touch with his own creation. As a writer, actor and director he seems to have completely disassociated himself from the ability to empathise or express anything close to the human experience – as well as the ability to say or do anything funny. That said, if Ricky Gervais is deluded enough to believe he is still producing great art, then perhaps he’s not so dissimilar to Brent after all. ! Angus Harrison
THE BFG dir: Steven Spielberg Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Bill Hader Putting a beloved children’s book at the mercy of Hollywood can sometimes spell disaster. For some reason though (perhaps out of sheer reverence) Roald Dahl’s stories rarely fail to translate to the big screen. Dahl’s multi layered and often imperfect characters come to life willingly - Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka was a show stealer, Danny Devito was simply despicable as Harry Wormwood in Matilda and Mark Rylance’s performance as the simple but lovable BFG gives a centre to Steven Spielberg’s recent adaptation. The film is also a dream for purists who will notice that Spielberg has remained painfully true to the original story. The BFG and Sophie, played aptly by newcomer Ruby Barnhill, are even saved by the Queen herself in an oddly jingoistic twist that we’d completely forgotten about. The only other fault with this faithful approach is that the film itself takes a while to pick up pace. It wasn’t until the infamous wizz pop’s started flowing that the film’s younger viewers really seemed engrossed. In spite of the slow pace, and Spielberg’s slightly misjudged royalist undertones, The BFG is a good-looking film hinging on a charming performance from Mark Rylance, who bumpkins his way through a beautifully imagined universe (even if it is a universe pre-imagined by Roald Dahl many years prior). ! Billy Black
Nerve sees Emma Roberts and Dave Franco take us through a neon lit, one night odyssey into a dangerous online game. Roberts takes centre stage as the unassuming young Vee who is coaxed into taking part in the game by her more reckless best friend. Once a participant, a dare is sent to the player's phone from the game's anonymous creators known as 'watchers'. The player must film this challenge on their phone or they’re a Tinder swipe away from dropping out of a looming cash prize. As the cash prize increases, so do Vee's followers and of course Nerve is all fun until it's not. Franco and Roberts play longingly with each other as the world of Watchers observe, before the narrative’s darker twists take centre stage and romance shifts into fear. With the team of 2010's Catfish behind it, Nerve does a tremendous job of projecting the darker aspects of the internet into the physical world; taking the entrepreneurialism of YouTube with the location tracking, follower obsession of Twitter to create a wholly believable heightened reality that echoes our own. While there's no knowing how relevant/dated Nerve will be even by the time it's available for HD rental, there's no denying it speaks for now, however long that is.
Dark independent filmmaker Todd Solondz’s latest film follows a cute dachshund in four different stories as it passes from one quirky character to another, including a pessimistic film professor (Danny Devito) and a lonely veterinary nurse (Greta Gerwig). Wiener-Dog has fun shifting tones and emotions, bouncing between funny, dramatic and strange without any warning. Occasionally it works and compliments Solondz’s confidence in contrasting beautiful visuals with gloomy content and sharp dialogue. However, this approach quickly becomes ineffective and sluggish as we go from story to story without much covered or established. It’s obvious that Solondz is fond of the same dark joke, but runs that sentiment into the ground as the scenes become predictably unpredictable. Luckily some of the inspired performances save the film from being a total misfire, with Danny DeVito and Greta Gerwig using their everlasting charm to perk up some of the dull material. There is also an intermission halfway through, which may sound out of place within a 90-minute film, but considering the slow pace and limited amount of laughs Wiener-Dog offers, it feels necessary. ! Lee Fairweather
! Joseph McDonagh SUICIDE SQUAD dir. David Ayer Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto In his attempts to sex up the DC universe, David Ayer fails miserably. The big budgets that keep churning out these crime fantasies seem to bring an insatiable need to dumb it down for a broader audience. In Suicide Squad’s case – where the bad guys fight the even badder guys – the gulf between the original texts and its marketedto-masses script leaves Suicide Squad a loud, embarrassing mess. While Jared Leto’s debonair Joker looks great, his screen time is astonishingly low. One of the greatest super villains of all time is sidelined for some vengeful gods who, very slowly, attempt to build a gravitational, beam-of-light doomsday weapon that protrudes over a city skyline (yes, this is happening in yet another film). With its grotesque overtones of US army recruitment and pacifying attempt to make you feel anti-establishment simply by watching it, Suicide Squad might be our new least favourite superhero film. And that's really saying something. ! Tim Oxley Smith
DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD dir. Ricky Gervais Starring: Ricky Gervais, Doc Brown
NERVE dir. Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade
WEINER-DOG dir. Todd Solondz Starring: Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito, Tracy Letts
OC T NO V DE C
ALLAH LAS AQUILO ATA KAK AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA BEACH BABY BENJI B
CALL SUPER CIGARETTES AFTER SEX COURTESY CRAIG CHARLES CRITICAL SOUND FEAR OF MEN DANIEL AVERY HANNAH WANTS DEAD MEADOW DVA [HI:EMOTIONS] HONEYBLOOD LEON VYNEHALL HORSE MEAT DISCO (2016 RESIDENCY) LIVIN’ PROOF INHEAVEN MAURICE FULTON JESSY LANZA MIDLAND JULIO BASHMORE MIKE SERVITO ONEMAN B2B BOK BOK MOON HOOCH OSCAR MOXIE ROAM MYKKI BLANCO ROMAN FLÜGEL ROMARE (DJ SET) SILVER APPLES THE BLACK MADONNA SKREAM (ALL NIGHT LONG) THREE TRAPPED TIGERS SUDANIM TOURIST SYD ARTHUR TWIN PEAKS ZENKER BROTHERS ZERO 7 (DJ SET)
Products PINK COMP SHORTS drbanana.co.uk £34 Amphibious pink shorts from Dr Banana – the Banoffee Pies-affiliated clothing brand. You can find more clean designs, quality fabrics and free downloads online; everything you need from bucket hats and bum-bags to liquid d’n’b and hip-hop instrumentals.
GAL-DEM ISSUE 1 galdemzine.bigcartel.com £8 gal-dem started as an online magazine last year, and since its inception, it has continuously built on the talents of fifty contributing women of colour who specialise in creating content as diverse as pop culture commentary to tips on self-care. Now, they’ve got their first ever print magazine on the way, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what the team have come up with.
ZDI PAOLO LONG SLEEVE drmartens.com £45 Dr Martens pay homage to prolific 15th century painter Giovanni di Paolo with this long sleeve. Taken from their new collection and part of the di Paolo line, it echoes the mythical intensity and gothic decoration mined by the Italian painter. Pair with some DM boots and get your stomp on.
SPANDEX OFF-SHOULDER LONG SLEEVE CATSUIT americanapparel.co.uk £38 Spandex season approaching. You might be surprised to learn that cotton spandex is one of American Apparel’s most used fabrics. Maybe it’s the stretch. Maybe it’s the smoothness. Whatever it is, this off-shoulder all-in-one flaunts it for all it's worth.
GROUND 1 BOMBER roamersandseekers.co.uk £95 We’ll level with you. Lots of people have got bombers. That’s because bombers are stylish, flexible and warm. The only issue now is finding a bomber which is truly yours. The folks at Roamers and Seekers have the answer – a sleek version of the MA-1 in a rich Italian red which will allow you to enter the bomber brigade but stay firmly in your own lane more than ever before.
ICE CREAM DAD HAT store.warnermusic.com/atlantic-records $25
Gucci Mane’s out of jail and he’s looking good, feeling good and sounding good. In celebration, Atlantic Records are releasing these official dad hats, which feature Ice Cream logos in tribute to Guwop’s famous facial tattoo and the general iciness he’s maintained throughout his career. Brrrrr.
K Flay / 14th
~ LIVE ~
Daunt + Mind Enterprises /
Sound & Vision: Station to Station /
Sounds Familiar Music Quiz /
Phlake / 25th Chuka Royalty /
Nothing / 29th
Mullallay + Loa Ra
Toh Kay SOLD OUT
coming up 1st+2nd oct
The Warlocks /
Adia Victoria /
Flyying Colours /
Palace Winter /
By The Rivers
~ LATE ~ every friday
THE DOCTORâ€™S ORDERS
Exploring every year of the
A proper old school
80s & 90s house designed
A fresh new slice of global
40+ year history of hip hop
to keep you dancing
& tropical sounds
Dates, times & tickets: w w w.hoxtonsquarebar.com
LONDON FIELDS DAY & NIGHT PARTY
PARIAH B2B PANGAEA, VIERS, LUKAS WIGFLEX, MIRO SUNDAYMUSIQ, RE:NI SIREN & DJ DONGA
16 SEPTEMBER Fils de Venus presents
BAGARRE, FANTASTIC MAN, CHARLES DRAKEFORD & EVEIL DJS 22 SEPTEMBER
13 OCTOBER Parallel Lines presents
THE TELESCOPES, FLAVOR CRYSTALS & STERLING ROSSWELL
15 & 16 OCTOBER
HACKNEY WONDERLAND 28 OCTOBER
23 SEPTEMBER CLUB.THE.MAMMOTH. presents
POP.1280, PROM & RED LION LICKS 25 SEPTEMBER
Bad Vibrations presents
HALLOWEEN ALL NIGHTER WITH TRAAMS, DEAD GHOSTS, K-X-P, ZOMBIE ZOMBIE AND MORE
(& E VERY OTHER SUNDAY)
19 NOVEMBER Shadow Child presents
LONDONFIELDSBREWHOUSE.CO.UK londonfieldsbrewhouse 369 & 370 Helmsley Place, London E8 3SB
09â€”16 MOTH Club Valette St London E8 mothclub.co.uk
Monday 12 September
KLAUS JOHAN GROBE
Saturday 10 September
SCOTT FRASER & TIMOTHY J. FAIRPLAY
Wednesday 14 September Tuesday 6 September
THE CULT OF DOM KELLER
Wednesday 14 September
FIRST HATE Thursday 15 September
Friday 9 Sepetmber
SWEAT Wednesday 14 September
SUPER HANS Thursday 22 September
COLLEEN GREEN + CASSIE
MATIAS AGUAYO & THE DESDEMONAS Thursday 22 September
CAMERA Sunday 25 September
RAMONE Tuesday 27 September Friday 23 September
THE GOON SAX
LOOSE MEAT Saturday 1 October Saturday 24 September
RATS ON RAFTS
LA LUZ Monday 3 October Monday 26 September
DEAD MEADOW Thursday 13 October Thursday 29 September
TEMPESST Tuesday 11 September
GABRIEL BRUCE Wednesday 12 October
Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com
The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com
Friday 17 September
SAMO Tuesday 20 September
TOM WALKER Thursday 22 September
VOX LOW Wednesday 5 October
The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com
Friday 9 September
OSCAR DJ SET Saturday 10 September
MURKAGE DAVE Wednesday 14 September
PEARCE Tuesday 6 September
Thursday 15 September
Wednesday 7 September
Wednesday 21 September
PEARCE Friday 9 Septmeber
Friday 9 September
MIKE SKINNER & MURKAGE DAVE
Wednesday 5 October
SAT.17.SEP.16 WED.23.NOV.16 THU.27.OCT.16
TUE.27.SEP.16 THU.01.DEC.16 SAT.29.OCT.16 MON.03.OCT.16 FRI.02.DEC.16 WED.02.NOV.16 WED.05.OCT.16 SAT.03.DEC.16
COLLEEN GREEN CASSI E R AMONE
100 CLUB Wednesday 24 August
SCALA Thursday 15 September.
MOTH CLUB Thursday 22 September.
THE LEXINGTON Monday 26 September.
KAMIO Thursday 29 September.
THE FORGE Thursday 29 September.
WOLF ALICE SU PER FU RRY AN I MALS WI LD BE ASTS & MORE
THE FINSBURY Friday 30 September.
DREAMLAND, MARGATE Fri 30 Sept. & Sat 01 Oct.
THE DOME Tuesday 04 October.
ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL Thurs 13 & Fri 14 October.
SCALA Thursday 14 October.
VILLAGE UNDERGROUND Saturday 15 October.
OSLO Monday 17 October.
ROUNDHOUSE Wednesday 19 October.
MOTH CLUB Thursday 20 October.
BR ANDT BR AUER FRICK
ROUNDHOUSE Saturday 22 October.
OSLO Tuesday 25 October.
MOTH CLUB Thursday 27 October.
KOKO Friday 28 October.
AUTUMN STREET STUDIOS Friday 28 October.
OVAL SPACE Sunday 30 October.
LUBOMYR MELNYK & MURCOF and VANESSA WAGNER
BARBICAN Monday 31 October.
THE FORGE Tuesday 01 November.
OVAL SPACE Wednesday 04 November.
RUN LOLA RUN
TROXY Friday 04 November.
MICKS GARAGE WAREHOUSE Friday 04 November.
ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL Tuesday 08 November.
THREE TR APPED TIGERS
PANTHU DU PRINCE
HEAVEN Friday 11 November.
ELECTRIC BRIXTON Friday 11 November.
ALEXANDRA PALACE Thursday 17 November.
CECIL SHARP HOUSE Thursday 17 November.
THE DOME Thursday 17 November.
BUSH HALL Sunday 20 November.
HOW TO DRESS WELL
R ADICAL FACE
VILLAGE UNDERGROUND Monday 21 November.
SCALA Tuesday 22 November.
KAMIO Thursday 08 December.
KIR AN LEONARD
HAPPYN ESS LUXU RY DE ATH SPORTS TE AM
featuring Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and the Rajasthan Express
BY THE SEA FESTIVAL
LET’S EAT GR ANDMA
P R E S E N T S
28 | 09 | 16
| 11OU | 16T 22LD SO
- HEAVEN -
- ELECTRIC BALLROOM -
05 | 10 | 16
22 | 11 | 16
- HOXTON SQUARE BAR & KITCHEN -
- O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE -
| 10OU | 16T 05 SOLD
23 | 11 | 16
- THE LEXINGTON -
- ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH -
| 16T 07 10OU SO|LD
23 | 11 | 16
- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -
- O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN -
| 10OU | 16T 08 SOLD
23 | 11 | 16
12 | 10 | 16
- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -
- THE LEXINGTON -
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY
25 | 11 | 16
- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -
- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -
27 | 11 | 16
13 | 10 | 16
DIGITALISM - HEAVEN -
- O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE -
14 | 10 | 16
T 28 | 11 | 16 SOLD OU29 | 11 | 16
- THE SSE ARENA, WEMBLEY -
- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -
20 | 10 | 16
03 | 12 | 16
THE FRONT BOTTOMS
- ICA THEATRE -
- O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN -
20 | 10 |16
06 | 12 | 16
THE DUKE SPIRIT
- SCALA -
- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -
23 | 10 | 16
08 | 12 | 16
SUPER FURRY ANIMALS
- ROUNDHOUSE -
09 | 11 | 16
- ROUNDHOUSE -
- EVENTIM APOLLO HAMMERSMITH -
18 | 11 | 16
EMANUEL AND THE FEAR
09 | 12 | 16
SUPER FURRY ANIMALS - ROUNDHOUSE -
- THE ISLINGTON -
16 | 12 | 16
21 | 11 | 16
JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN & BENJAMIN LAZAR DAVIS - HEAVEN -
RIZZLE KICKS - ROUNDHOUSE -
01 | 02 | 17
- O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE -
T I C K E T S AVA I L A B L E F R O M
SONGKICK.COM - GIGANTIC.COM - TICKETWEB.CO.UK SEETICKETS.COM - STARGREEN.COM
Crack Magazine Annual Subscription From £20 Delivered to your door every month Visit crackmagazine.net/subscribe for more details and to purchase your subscription
Crossword Across 2. TV oddbod Fearne 3. 1981 John Waters film 4. Why ponder life’s complexities, when this runs smooth on the passenger seat 6. A lovely red cake / you might find this underground 7. Hudson Mohwake’s Panthers Down 1. The illicit road where your techy mate buys his gear 2. Kanye’s favourite feline 4. Agadoo duo Black _____ 5. Never double up 7. Hey I’m Elvis don’t step on my blue shoes!
Answers Across: Cotton, Polyester, Leather, Velvet, Satin Down: Silk, Cashmere, Lace, Denim, Suede
Self Portrait How To Dress Well's Tom Krell
BasedGod or God? Where did we get these quotes from: the free-spirited rapper Lil B, or the Bible? 1) “If you are sick you need a physician. I am your physician” 2) “Love everybody, I am an asset to the world” 3) “My people… think before you move, speak before you cry, live before you die” 4) “He who puts me first will have the right answers” 5) “In me is life”
1) God 2) BasedGod 3) BasedGod 4) God 5) God 6) BasedGod Answers:
6) “When you want to read the book, read the book. When you want to come talk to me and be my friend, come talk to me”
This month's artist takeover was created by Calm & Collected, who were responding to the word 'Escape'
If you're interested in contributing to this series, please email email@example.com
Turning Points: Altern 8‘s Mark Archer
1988-89: Starting Nexus 21 with Chris Peat I did a few breakbeat albums with Dean Meredith as Rhythm Mode OD and then decided to do Bizarre Inc. Unfortunately, Dean eventually wanted to go solo and got me the sack. Everyone gets shafted in the music industry, and I did quite early. Nexus 21 started when was I was bought a box set for my 21st birthday and there were a few Detroit techno tunes on there. It seemed so futuristic but so full of emotion and I knew that was the music I wanted to make. I called the studio with an idea for an album and they put me with Chris because he could play keyboards. When we went
to sign at Network we heard a Kevin Saunderson mixtape, on it he puts an Inner City acapella over the top of (Still) Life Keeps Moving. He then remixed it, along with MK and Carl Craig. Years later I discovered it was Carl Craig’s first ever remix. 1990: Forming Altern 8 When [Stafford recording studio] Blue Chip closed we were owed studio time. We went in and in a week did nine tracks. I’d been going to loads of raves and different kinds of tunes were out by 1990 so we didn’t just stick to the Detroit thing. Network wanted to keep Nexus quite pure, so we put it out as a side project, which was Altern 8. It wasn’t a plan to have an image. We were playing our first PA as Altern 8 at [Coventry club] Eclipse where we’d played before as Nexus 21. I thought people would recognise us so I asked my brother, who was in the RAF at the time, for these chemical warfare suits. It absolutely went off. Before we knew it we were being booked again. 1991: Shelley’s Lazerdome I was always at [Stoke-on-Trent club] Shelley’s, if we weren’t doing a PA I’d be there. We’d got a tape cut of Activ8 and they let us test it there. I just wanted to give something back to the club and all the people who had supported us. I noticed that after the club finished everyone would stand around their cars
playing their shitty little stereos. I thought it would be cool if there was a decent soundsystem, so when we needed shots for the video we did a set in the car-park. Thing is, word spread and people came from all over, there were more outside dancing on cars than had got in the club. There was also a radio presenter going round interviewing everyone and doing a kind of voiceover. He turned up so he could take his interview to Radio Stoke but they didn’t want it. There were so many little sound-bites that we pressed what he recorded onto 12”. The intro of E-vapor-8 was him that night. In the end the police turned up, we tried to carry on until they said we’d spend the night in a cell if we didn’t stop. 1991-1993: Mainstream Success The first big warehouse rave we did was at Donington Park, there were maybe 20,000 people there. We started playing and behind the mask I just had this massive grin on my face. Obviously you get a buzz from DJing, but when they’re dancing to what you’ve made it’s that buzz times ten. We couldn’t believe the chart success. We’d been at number three and got booked by Birmingham council for New Year’s Eve. My dad phoned me in the afternoon and said there were 45,000 people in the middle of Birmingham. We came on and there were 2000 fans right at the front who’d come to see us, chanting our name. We were only on stage for 15 minutes, but
everyone went mental. Mid-late 90s: Split with Chris, Going Solo It just got to the point where we were pissing each other off. Chris was into computers more than anything. He kept going on about the internet and I was just bang into remixing. In the end Chris tried to sue me because I’d done stuff on my own and he wanted half the money. After that I produced and remixed under different aliases. In 1999 I got asked to DJ as Altern 8 again. It was the furthest thing from my mind at the time but I agreed and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since. I play a lot of festivals. 2016: Releasing Autobiography Mark Archer - The Man Behind The Mask Certain people have always said to me, “you need to write a book”. When I saw Derrick May in a club around 2005 that was the first thing he said to me. It was a case of [co-author] Andrew Woods calling me every day for three weeks and letting me burble, going off on proper tangents. Everything came into place, and I’m really glad I’ve had the chance. Full-On Mask Hysteria will be rereleased late September via Network/ Blech
Altern 8 were arguably the quintessential rave act of the early 90s. More significant than the novelty of the duo’s chemical warfare suits might suggest, their raw energy and sample-heavy approach drew on the explosion of electronic music to produce some of the most alien and exciting music that ever entered the mainstream. With a career spawning many projects over nearly three decades, Mark Archer still regularly sends dancefloors into frenzies when DJing under the Altern 8 name. Ahead of the 25th anniversary deluxe release of Altern 8’s album Full-On Mask Hysteria, we called Archer to discuss rave’s manic heyday, the allure of Detroit techno and writing a memoir on Derrick May’s recommendation.
Words: Theo Kotz
“For our first gig, I asked my brother who was in the RAF for these chemical warfare suits. It absolutely went off”
20 Questions: HO9909
“Getting naked onstage is just me being free”
What’s your favourite video game? Twisted Metal. Who’s your favourite
member of the Wu-Tang Clan? Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Heavy metal or EDM? Heavy metal, of course. What was the first live act you saw? This group called Ninjasonik, they played at The Shank in Brooklyn. This was like 2008. Good show? Yeah it was crazy. It was fuckin’ nuts. Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? Erykah Badu. Wow. What happened there? It was at SXSW. We were in this fucking private Converse thing, getting free shit. She was walking
past and we were like ‘Oh shit, we gotta say something’. And like 10 minutes after that we seen Too $hort. That was pretty sick. Too $hort might not be the most famous person you’ve met, but is he the coolest? Yeah, one of the coolest. So we put him down in the OG category. What’s your signature recipe? The god damn peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’m about to eat in five minutes. That combo is considered kind of unusual in Europe. For real? Who’s the best person to follow on Instagram?
Damn, I don’t follow many stars and shit. I can switch the question up and be like favourite person on Snapchat? Sure, I think the kids prefer Snapchat anyway. This rapper RetcHy P, his Snapchat is wild! If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? I’d definitely put on The Growlers. But that backfired once when I brought a girl to my house and she was like “Oh, I used to date their guitarist!” So I think I switched The Growlers to, like, fucking Black Sabbath. If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be?
Damn, that’s a good fuckin’ question. Let me see... For some reason, the first person who came to my mind is Henry Rollins. That might be a dick move, he might be upset if I said that about his age.
What’s the craziest response you’ve have had from a crowd? When people like scream our name when we walk off stage, it seems like they’re gonna break the barricade down...
It’s OK, I don’t think he’s going to read this. Have you ever taken acid? No.
What about when you’ve performed nude? How does that go down? Well, you get too hot onstage. It’s just me being free. Freedom is a wonderful feeling. You get naked on stage, you sleep naked. I was born naked.
Do you have any tattoos that you regret? No. I don’t regret nothing. What’s the first thing you’re going to do after this interview? Eat that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I gotta text my bandmate because he’s disappeared. And now you’ve just done this interview for him. Yeah, he owes me one!
Ho99o9 appear at Afropunk London, Alexandra Palace, 24 September
Ho99o9’s sound is a gruesome concoction of hostile hardcore, unhinged rap and eerie electronics, and the intensity of their live performances is fucking ridiculous. It’s a style of punk that old punks probably hate, which is probably proof that it’s proper punk. The LA-based duo is compromised of theOGM – who was meant to take this call but never answered the phone – and Eaddy who, despite seeming slightly perplexed when I called him out of the blue, was a very good sport as we ran through Crack’s 20 Questions.
Words: Jason Hunter
Illustration: Ed Chambers
Perspective: The Subversive Stride of Mykki Blanco Having been an independent artist for the majority of his career, Mykki Blanco has steadily built a global fanbase across five years. Ahead of the release of his debut retail album, here he explains how the expanding of mainstream narratives surrounding queer and trans issues has intersected with his career, reflecting on the merits of consistently challenging preconceptions. As told to Jake Hall. When I first emerged, people would label me a ‘queer rapper’ alongside Cakes Da Killa, Big Freedia, Le1f and Zebra Katz. I realise now that we created a revenue stream. We created an audience and a fanbase that grew and expanded. Now, you have fringe acts and underground artists that feel they can do what we did without being seen as niche – they know it’s possible because they saw us do it.
I have more notoriety now, but people never used to understand what Mykki Blanco was. The interdisciplinary elements of my act have become mainstream, and people feel more comfortable because the world finally fucking caught up. If I had stepped on stage in drag with a guitar, music journalists would have immediately called me the next Prince, or the next Bowie; I would have fit so neatly into a lineage that people could codify and understand. It’s different when
it’s hip-hop – internalised racism and homophobia create this blind spot, and people suddenly don’t know what to do. I’m unfiltered about a lot of things on social media; there are people out there that have made me more open. I call it the ‘Kardashian effect’. I can discuss things with my followers because I see it’s mainstream to be blunt and open now. The more people know about me, the closer our connection is, and the more they feel they can understand my work. One thing I absolutely did for myself was come out as HIV+. That wasn’t a media stunt, or me feeding into ideas surrounding celebrity. I did that because I was tired of psychological warfare. I would meet guys at parties and clubs yet I felt I couldn’t have a boyfriend because I was so afraid of people discovering this secret and turning their backs on me. That was the same year I announced I would be quitting music; there were so many small things leading up to the event that showed signs of a very unhappy, depressed person. People associated Mykki Blanco with having fun, with this ‘social butterfly’ persona. Talking about HIV is not fun. Being diagnosed with HIV is not fun. If I had come out as HIV+ in the 90s I would have been shunned. To my surprise, fans of mine rallied around me even more after the
announcement. I had taken for granted that people could be so compassionate and so understanding. I think that has a lot to do with the times we’re living in. I can still sell out shows and tour as an HIV+ artist because people understand it isn’t just some death sentence. That acceptance creatively informs everything I do. When we shot the video for my song High School Never Ends, I made it clear to Matt Lambert, the director, that I wanted to show queer, anarchist punks on film. I’ve never seen gay, trans or queer punks on film, so that was the starting point. I always pride myself on making visuals that people have never seen before. People say to me they’ve never seen a music video with a genderqueer person having realistic sex with a guy, but those were really elements I didn’t even consider. Ultimately, people think I’m trying to ‘make a statement’ because I’m queer. Nobody would be asking me these questions if I was a heterosexual man or woman. The truth is, I’m 30 years old. I’m not rebelling against anything. What I am trying to do is infiltrate the mainstream with radical queer ideas that stem from people that I know who live like this – they already exist in networks and communities across the globe. Sometimes an artist doesn’t particularly want to make a statement, but if you portray your social circles and your
community it can appear political because a wider audience can’t relate. I wanted to change the way I write, record and create music, so I really spent time with this debut album. I’m not ashamed that I’ve learnt things throughout my career – I started making music at 25, as someone that clumsily fell into it and decided it was a good performance medium. It just so happened that narratives surrounding trans visibility and gay rights were gaining visibility when I was making music; people are now more accepting than ever, and my profile has risen as a consequence. Ultimately, I’ve worked over the last few years to develop a platform for myself, and I think it’s important to maintain that visibility. Any success I may experience represents something; it represents something to queer people, to people of colour and to people from a certain social class, and that truly matters to me. I’m not willing to jeopardise that for anybody. Mykki Blanco’s debut album Mykki is released 16 September via !K7