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Kelsey Lu Crack Magazine | Issue 98


Music, Creativity & Technology www.sonar.es

Barcelona 18.19.20 July

a$ap rocky, actress + young paint live ai/av, amelie lens, andy c, arca, artwork, bad gyal, blawan & dax j, body & soul (6h set), caterina barbieri live av, catnapp, daniel avery, daphni, disclosure dj set, dixon, dj koze, dj seinfeld, dj tennis, d’valentina, erol alkan, faka, fennesz, fkj, flava d, floating points (6h set), four tet, ha$lopablito, haai, hibotep, holly herndon, jesse baez, jlin, kaytranada, kelly moran - grand piano av live, la diabla, leon vynehall, lomepal, lotic: endless power, lyzza, mall grab, mans o, masego, max cooper live av, maya jane coles pres. nocturnal sunshine, nicola cruz, obongjayar, octavian, paul kalkbrenner, peggy gou & palms trax, phran, red axes live, rejjie snow, ross from friends, sho madjozi, skepta, slikback, snakehips, underworld, vince staples, waajeed and many more. Buy your tickets from SonarTickets by StubHub I www.sonar.es an iniciative of

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UPCOMING SHOWS

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08 MAR

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09 MAR

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A-Z

DYED SOUNDOROM MOTOR CITY DRUM ENSMEBLE SKREAM TAMA SUMO & LAKUTI VERY SPECIAL GUEST:

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22 MAR

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AMNESIA PRESENTS PYRAMID

23 MAR

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KÖLSCH

VERY SPECIAL GUEST:

ILARIO ALICANTE MATADOR LIVE TIGA AGORIA LIVE MATADOR LIVE HECTOR COUTO B2B MATTHIAS KADEN MAR-T B2B LUCA DONZELLI BOWLER & T.BUNTS PIQUE & DARKSIIGHT TECHNÍK EVERYTHING WILL BE OK TRISTAN INGRAM YAZMIN

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SOLD OUT 29 MAR

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05 APR

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KENNY DOPE TODD TERRY HOUSE GOSPEL CHOIR SOUNDSYSTEM LUKE SOLOMON ABSOLUTE. JOSHUA JAMES GUY WILLIAMS JONJO JURY MICHELLE MANETTI TASTY TIM PRINCESS JULIA


FLOATING POINTS

VINYL / CD / DIGITAL Out 29 March 2019


Tue 14 May, Royal Festival Hall

Actress x Stockhausen Sin {x} II The British electronic artist and his AI project, Young Paint, reimagine Stockhausen’s opera on the meaning of love, Welt-Parlament #SCGIGS

B R U TA L LY G O O D M U S I C


F R I D AY DJS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

S AT U R D AY DJS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

THE HEX

THE HEX BICEP DAPHNI | GILLES PETERSON MR G SELECTORS DJ SET | FORT ROMEAU

THE BRIDGE

MACEO PLEX B2B TALE OF US MACEO PLEX | TALE OF US MAX COOPER | VAAL

THE BRIDGE

RICARDO VILLALOBOS CRAIG RICHARDS | DIXON | DJ KOZE JOB JOBSE | S_AS

T H E S T R E TC H

ADAM BEYER RICHIE HAWTIN | JOSEPH CAPRIATI IDA ENGBERG | BART SKILS

T H E S T R E TC H I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

HUNEE | MOTOR CITY DRUM ENSEMBLE JEREMY UNDERGROUND CARISTA | PEACH

LOCO DICE APOLLONIA | TINI LAUREN LO SUNG | GENE ON EARTH

T H E WA R E H O U S E

T H E WA R E H O U S E I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

DANIEL AVERY OBJEKT | DJ STINGRAY UMFANG B2B VOLVOX | BATU THE WOODS

I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

AMELIE LENS DAX J | DENSE & PIKA ETAPP KYLE | IMOGEN THE WOODS

C U R AT E D B Y B E N U F O

BEN UFO CALL SUPER B2B SHANTI CELESTE RROXYMORE | RE:NI

I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

SONJA MOONEAR B2B NICOLAS LUTZ CRAIG RICHARDS | SAN PROPER VOIGTMANN

F R I D AY 7 T H & S AT U R D AY 8 T H J U N E 2 0 1 9 B O S T O N M A N O R PA R K , L O N D O N

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713 st e Au gust, Budap

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Richard ashcroft Franz Ferdinand james blake years & years Tove lo Catfish and the Bottlemen kodaline chvrches jungle the blaze razorlight son lux Richie Hawtin CLOSEr maribou state JAIN idles Yeasayer Yellow Days parcels superorganism pale waves Tove Styrke boy pablo masego iamddb Protoje & The Indiggnation Xavier Rudd frank turner & the sleeping souls alma gang of youths of mice and men frank carter & the rattlesnakes wanda w&w vini vici carnage sigala Hucci Elderbrook yungblud Roosevelt anna of the north Fakear tamino Valeras Welshly Arms and many more... szigetfestival.com facebook.com/szigetfestival


Victoria Park London E3 24 May > 26 May Fri 24 May

HOT CHIP > PRIMAL SCREAM > JON HOPKINS LIVE >

Spiritualized > Little Dragon > Peggy Gou Presents Gou Talk > Roisin Murphy > Danny Brown > David August > Lane 8 > Little Simz > Optimo > Ibibio Sound Machine > Petite Noir > Maurice Fulton > Josey Rebelle > Ge-ology > DMX Krew

Sat 25 May

THE RACONTEURS > INTERPOL

Johnny Marr > Parquet Courts > Jarvis Cocker

introducing

JARV IS...

> Courtney Barnett >

Connan Mockasin > Anna Calvi > Bakar > The Nude Party > Viagra Boys

Sun 26 May

JAMES BLAKE > METRONOMY > MARIBOU STATE

Kamasi Washington > Beach House > Honne > Kurt Vile > Princess Nokia > Ezra Collective > Toro y Moi > Rina Sawayama > Bob Moses > Andrew Weatherall > Yves Tumor (Full band) > Joy Orbison > Baloji > Cuco > Moxie Presents On Loop > Octo Octa > Galcher Lustwerk > Paquita Gordon + More acts to be announced


28 August—01 September 2019 — Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia — dimensionsfestival.com

Last dance in the Fort Opening Concert, 28 August

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals

Hunee, Objekt (live / visuals by Ezra Miller), Tony Allen & Jeff Mills (live) Main Festival, 29 August—01 September

Photo by Ollie Kirk

Jeff Mills (DJ) Larry Heard a.k.a. Mr. Fingers (live) Nina Kraviz Omar-S Peggy Gou

Alienata Andrew Weatherall Awesome Tapes– From Africa Batu Binh Blawan Call Super Courtesy Craig Richards & Nicolas Lutz DaM-FunK (live) dBridge DJ Bone (Electro Set) DJ Stingray DMX Krew (live) DVS1 Eris Drew Francesco Del Garda Fumiya Tanaka

Gilles Peterson & Mr. Scruff (All Night Long) Helena Hauff Hessle Audio — Ben UFO, Pangaea & Pearson Sound Hunee Identified Patient Jane Fitz Jayda G Jensen Interceptor Josey Rebelle Joy Orbison Mala Nu Guinea (DJ / live keys) Objekt (DJ) Octave One (live) Paula Temple Peach Petar Dundov Radioactive Man (live) Sadar Bahar Saoirse Shanti Celeste Skee Mask Steam Down Vladimir Ivkovic Zip & More


FOUR TET • BROCKHAMPTON • LOYLE CARNER • H.E.R. • ACTION BRONSON • KAYTRANADA ANNIE MAC • SOLOMUN • GUY GERBER • GREEN VELVET • PATRICK TOPPING • FISHER DAVID RODIGAN & THE OUTLOOK ORCHESTRA • FKJ • LIZZO • SLOWTHAI LYRIC & ROBERT HOOD PRESENT FLOORPLAN • CHARLOTTE DE WITTE KRYSTAL KLEAR • JAYDA G • ROSS FROM FRIENDS LIVE • CHILDREN OF ZEUS PLACES+FACES TAKEOVER FT PLUS SOUNDS, BUDDY, SUSPECT & MORE • CUPCAKKE ADRIATIQUE • MASON MAYNARD • PATRICE BÄUMEL • PAUL JOHNSON TION WAYNE • KETTAMA • PROSPA • ALEX VIRGO ELI BROWN • VANJESS • BIG MIZ • SALLY C

i-D •• NOISEY NOISEY •• FACT FACT •• PLACES+FACES PLACES+FACES •• HIGHSNOBIETY HIGHSNOBIETY •• PXSSY PXSSY PALACE PALACE i-D


016


017

+200 acts

16 + 17 + 18 August 2019

Biddinghuizen | The Netherlands

www.lowlands.nl


Robyn / Bombay Bicycle Club / Groove Armada Tom Odell / Caravan Palace / Tom Grennan Freya Ridings / Ólafur Arnalds George FitzGerald Eats Everything / Honey Dijon / Erol Alkan The Cause present Adonis & Tribes

SOAK / Blanco White / Durand Jones & The Indications

Ronnie Scott’s presents: Incognito / Ata Kak (Awesome Tapes from Africa) Beating Heart / Cykada / Jurassic 5’s Soup presents: The Fullee Love Collective The Arts

Letters Live

The Royal Academy of Arts / Southbank Centre Roundhouse / The RSA / Sadler’s Wells / Rambert2 Royal Geographical Society Wilderness Orchestra / Sunday Papers Live / Hip Hop Karaoke / 5x15 Banquets and Feasting

Yossi Elad / James Knappett

Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano / Petersham Nurseries / Josh Katz x Woodfired Canteen Nieves Barragán / Dan Smith / Neil Borthwick / Tom Brown Patty & Bun / Temper The Wilderness

The Lakeside Spa / Wild Swimming Yoga and Mindfulness Climbing Wall / Horse Riding / Woodland Bike Rides / Forest Bathing Hunter Gather Cook


CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF

TUE 19 MARCH

SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO AND DEEP THROAT CHOIR PERFORM MURMURATIONS

MAFALDA PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS WED 20 MARCH

THE ORIELLES

MELLAH CREWEL INTENTIONS PLUS DJS TBA

FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY 20 YEAR OLD ENTRY FEE 20 YEAR OLD BAR PRICES & CLOAKROOM

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P R E S E N T S

The Triumphant Return of

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O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN LONDON

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The World’s Number One Entertainers CELEBRATING THE REISSUE OF LIQUID SKIN

SUNDAY 21 JULY 2019

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BY ARRANGEMENT WITH PRIMARY TALENT INTERNATIONAL

MONDAY 29 APRIL 2019

EartH

(EVOLUTIONARY ARTS HACKNEY) LONDON

WEDNESDAY 21 AUGUST 2019

EVENTIM APOLLO

THE NEW ALBUM

HAMMERSMITH

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THE SECRET OF LETTING GO OUT 26 APRIL 2019

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BY ARRANGEMENT WITH ITB

BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY

IN ASSOCIATION WITH ITB

SUNDAY 21 A P R I L 2019

UK TOUR 2019

EartH

)

)

EVOLUTIONARY ARTS HACKNEY

SUPPORT FROM

JOYERO (ANDY STACK FROM WYE OAK)

LONDON

14 FEB

O2 FORUM

BY ARRANGMENT WITH ASGARD

KENTISH TOWN LONDON

NEW ALBUM FIVE OUT 01.02.2019 WHITELIES.COM

BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY

with...

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SUPPORT FROM CHRISTIAN LEE HUTSON

friday 19 THE LONDON PALLADIUM

SATURDAY 11 MAY 2O19

O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE LONDON

B Y

A R R A N G E M E N T

W I T H

X - R A Y

by arrangement with X-Ray

ETON ALIVE UK TOUR 2019

THURSDAY 25 JULY 2019

SPECIAL GUESTS

FRIDAY 19 APRIL

TUESDAY 02 APRIL 2019

MARGATE

LONDON

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NINA KRAVIZ | PEGGY GOU | SETH TROXLER | SOLOMUN | SVEN VÄTH HONEY DIJON | JASPER JAMES | KINK LIVE | SECRET SPECIAL GUEST ECLAIR FIFI | FOLAMOUR | SOUNDSTREAM | KORNÉL KOVÁCS BIG MIZ | KETTAMA | THEO KOTTIS LALA | LIAM DOC PLUS PERFORMANCE FROM

LITTLE GAY BROTHER

18.05.19 — 19.05.19 HOPETOUN HOUSE EDINBURGH


Kelsey Lu’s

Cola Boyy

These New Puritans:

42

50

crackmagazine.net

34

027

Contents

Eris Drew and Octo Octa:

Theophilus London 62

Editor's Letter – p.29

Recommended – p.30

My Life as a Mixtape: Little Simz – p.71 Dear Frankie – p.92

Reviews – p.73

20 Questions: Homeshake – p.93

Rising: KOKOROKO – p.33 Retrospective: Talk Talk – p.89 A Love Letter To: The Rewind – p.94

CONTENTS

56


EDITION NO 5

SACRED GROUND FESTIVAL

CURATED BY

RY X AND FRANK WIEDEMANN DATE

12 — 14 JULY 2019


Crack Magazine Was Made Using

Our cover star Kelsey Lu is on her own exquisite path. There have been a few left turns in the cellist and dream pop auteur’s journey so far, but there is one thing she remains fixed on. As she tells Ashleigh Kane in our story: “I’m not going to be something that's easily consumable all the time.”

Cherry Glazerr Daddi Julia Jacklin Comfort Fabiana Paladino Mystery Curt Cress Dschung Tek Public Practice Fate/Glory 21 Savage a lot Cola Boyy, Domenique Dumont Beige 70 Ariana Grande fake smile Anthony Naples Ris Bassline, Lorraine Chambers You’ve Gone Darrell G Johnson Starst Solange Dreams KNWGD 2 in the Back Theophilus London Seals Octo Octa I Need You Kelsey Lu I’m Not In Love

While they tread different terrain, many of the artists across these pages seem to be heading in a similar direction – away from something that’s easily palatable, even when it’s uncomfortable. US rap star Theophilus London had a cushy major label deal and an album co-produced with Kanye West, but ducked out of his contract and cancelled his tour when he couldn’t see himself in his audience, instead choosing to hang out and record with “underground kids” in London. Meanwhile, These New Puritans offer a visceral example. In our feature, painful metallic splinters are the result of a heady recording process in the outskirts of Berlin for the newest chapter in their sound. This hands-on approach is taken to a new dimension by Cola Boyy, whose grassroots work in radical community activism feels refreshing in a scene often guilty of flimsy, faux woke discourse. And of all the captivating images in this issue, there is one that I keep coming back to as we prepare to print. Octo Octa and Eris Drew, captured in each other’s arms on page 57 by Kasia Zacharko, open up in a conversation about heart-melting club tracks and their experience as a powerhouse DJ duo who are also two trans women in love. The couple have embraced discomfort by harnessing vulnerability to make their work, and these pages, more radiant. We stan. Anna Tehabsim, Editor

Kelsey Lu shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Emmet Green in London, February 2019

EDITORIAL

Hiroshi Yoshimura Blink

029

March 2019

crackmagazine.net

Issue 98


030

Recommended

Noname O2 Shepherds Bush Empire 29 March

O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty

These New Puritans Rough Trade East 22 March

Fatima Al Qadiri Southbank Centre 29 March

Batu Village Underground 29 March

slowthai York Hall 1 April It’s hard not to feel like the world – ahem, the UK – is caving in on itself. Around every corner looms a new vote, a new argument, a new imaginary deal. Sometimes the only way to cope with the news is to just sweat it all out in a grime-fueled moshpit. Luckily for us, Northampton rapper slowthai knows how to facilitate exactly that. Everyone’s favourite rascal, the 24-year-old is taking no shit – from the Queen to Theresa May to Richard Branson, no one’s safe from his cut-throat rhymes. Just remember to bring a spare t-shirt.

Puma Blue Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 28 March

In an algorithmic world of endlessly fluctuating feeds, it’s hard to sustain enough patience to digest an in-depth work of art. These New Puritans – a project with a core duo of brother Jack and George Barnett – have slowly matured since the spiky art rock of their 2008 debut Beat Pyramid and they’re following up their 2013 masterpiece Field of Reeds with the similarly dense album Inside the Rose. Here’s a chance to unlock the emotive power in music’s quieter moments, and let yourself breathe a little.

Jessica Pratt EartH 26 March

Rewire Festival Nicolas Jaar, Julia Holter, Mark Fell The Hague 29-31 March For fans of experimental sounds, the line-up of this year’s Rewire festival is absolutely stacked. Nicolas Jaar will play a solo/live DJ set and also premiere a new group performance, while other highlights on the line-up include Yves Tumor, Low, Gazelle Twin, rising rapper Flohio, punk techno duo Giant Swan, the CURL collective (featuring Mica Levi, Cobey Sey and Brother May), William Basinski's collaboration with Lawrence English and many more. Impressed? Check out the festival’s website to lure yourself in with the full line-up, or simply enjoy it as an index of adventurous musical movements.

The Internet O2 Academy Brixton 21 March

Childish Gambino O2 Arena 24 March

EVENTS

Oneohtrix Point Never Roundhouse 8 March

Sharon Van Etten Roundhouse 26 March After ticking off some major life moments, like becoming a parent and studying for a psychology degree, Sharon Van Etten is the Comeback Kid on her breathtaking new album, Remind Me Tomorrow. Hanging up her guitar, this vibrant new LP sees the US songwriter tune into a synth-ier frequency than her previous albums. Hear her 808 and Jupiter 4-backed balladry brought to life in Camden’s Roundhouse on March 26, where US/AUS duo The Golden Filter will also be on hand to get the party started.

IAMDDB Roundhouse 4 April After breaking through in 2017 with her anthem Shade (which is currently sitting on over 21 million YouTube views), IAMDDB spent the following months embracing her buzz while burning bridges with anyone she saw getting in her way. But the 0161 artist has won a loyal legion of fans with her distinctive ‘urban jazz sound’, for which she flexes rap braggadocio with honey-smooth vocals, and this tour will see fans sing the words from her recent SwervvVVv.5 EP regardless of whether or not the industry backs her. A lot of artists claim a badass image, but IAMDDB means it.


031 Ibibio Sound Machine 100 Club 13 March

Intonal Festival JASSS, Oliver Coates, Astrid Sonne Malmö, Sweden 24-28 April

Cherry Glazerr Electric Brixton 2 April

Malmö doesn’t get as much airtime as its more famous siblings, Stockholm and Gothenburg, but there are plenty of reasons to visit Sweden’s multicultural, third largest city – and one of these is Intonal. Now in its fifth year, the festival has become an annual meeting spot for boundary-pushing club and experimental music and visual artists, with DJ Marcelle, Ikonika, Oliver Coates and Clara! y Maoupa among this year’s highlights. Go for the sublime architecture and dancing – that’s guaranteed.

Guitar music’s definitely not dead, and scuzzpoppers Cherry Glazerr are flying the flag for six-stringed calls-to-action that seethe with angst, defiance and fury. Since 2014, the LA trio have been kicking up moshpits all over the world and on April 3rd they return to London for an unmissable show at Electric Brixton. Catch them perform tracks from their new album, Stuffed and Ready, along with other delectable fancies.

Andrew Weatherall + Roman Flügel Oval Space 22 March What do you get when you mix two rave veterans and a Radioactive Man? The answer is Big Beats, Big White Tees and a Big Night Out. Featuring a headline set from esteemed techno-punk gent Andrew Weatherall, aka the Guvnor, an appearance from German techno alchemist Roman Flügel, and a live show from Radioactive Man, this night at Oval Space is a home for the real OGs. Support comes from rising London talent Minou.

Kelsey Lu Roundhouse 8 March

SASAMI The Lexington 8 March

Octo Octa Mick's Garage 23 March

Anderson .Paak Alexandra Palace 15 March

Fredo O2 Kentish Town Forum 14 March

Dance for Refuge IWD Takeover FOLD 8 March Amsterdam crew Dance for Refuge raise money and provide supplies for organisations like War Child that support refugees in Calais and beyond. For International Women’s Day 2019 they’re putting on a party at London hotspot FOLD, with all profits going to Women for Refugee Women – a charity which supports women who seek asylum in the UK. With Pickle Factory resident Gwenan and Bristol DJ Danielle behind the decks, come out and dance to support a vital cause.

Eskimo Dance Printworks 22 March

DJ Nobu Studio Spaces E1 29 March If you like techno, you’ll love DJ Nobu. Let the cult Japanese selector whisk you away on a driving, 4/4 journey through the genre’s darker, woozier corridors when he plays as he touches down in London this month. Prone to throwing in the occasional oddball challenger, while tying everything together with the punk ethos of his youth, come and experience a supreme DJ in action.

[TEMPLATE] Dance for Refuge raise money and provide supplies for organisations like War Child that support refugees in Calais and beyond. For International Women’s Day 2019 on March 8th they’re putting on a party at London hotspot FOLD, with all profits going to Women for Refugee Women – a charity that specialises in helping women of a refugee background both in and out of the UK. With Pickle Factory resident Gwenan and Bristol DJ Danielle behind the decks, come out and dance to support a vital cause.

Nubya Garcia Village Underground 4 March

Damo Suzuki The Lexington 17 March

Mr Eazi O2 Academy Brixton 10 March

EVENTS

Nicki Minaj + Future O2 Arena 11 March


033

Rising: KOKOROKO Sounds Like: Blissed out Afrobeat rhythms Soundtrack For: Sun-soaked strolls in the park File Next To: Moses Boyd / Nérija Our Favourite Track: Abusey Junction

Where To Find Them: kokoroko.bandcamp.com

There’s no denying Afrobeat’s impact on youth culture today. The genre, originating in Ghana in the 1920s, has informed a fresh chapter in UK music. But the new generation of musicians playing the sound are less visible.

Emerging from the same ranks as jazz polymaths Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia and Moses Boyd, KOKOROKO are integral to London’s jazz scene. Their debut single Abusey Junction featured on Brownswood Recordings' prolific 2018 We Out Here compilation, amassing over 20 million views on YouTube alone. Since then, they’ve sold out shows up and down the country. As part of KOKOROKO, Maurice-Grey harnesses the transformative nature of Afrobeat and jazz. “It’s that freedom to be yourself,” explains Maurice-Grey. “That’s essentially what improvisation is – to be expressive in that moment.” But Maurice-Grey feels the scene tends to focus on the fact she is a woman more than the music she creates. As a result, she resents being asked about her gender, though she agrees sexism

in jazz is an important issue. “I feel like the first thing people should see me as is a musician rather than female,” she continues, “which frustrates me because when you see a guy playing, you're not thinking, ‘Who is that man playing that instrument?’” Questions surrounding her gender have been more prevalent after KOKOROKO released Uman earlier this year. Translating to “woman” in Krio, the national language of Sierra Leone, the song arrives as a celebration of women, black women in particular. Uman, like Abusey Junction, will appear on KOKOROKO’s forthcoming self-titled EP due in March. “It’s just a presentation to be like, ‘Hey guys, this is who we are’”: the young Afrobeat musicians the UK’s been waiting for. KOKOROKO EP is out 8 March via Brownswood Recordings

Words: Precious Adesina Photography: Nina Manandhar

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Led by London-based trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, KOKOROKO aim to change that. The eight-piece band channel their West African influences through a soul-shaking blend of neo jazz and Afrobeat. “We wanted better representation,” Maurice-Grey tells me over the phone. “[Afrobeat] needed younger musicians playing, especially from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.”


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Kelsey Lu’s

Words: Ashleigh Kane Photography: Emmet Green Styling: Jamie-Maree Shipton Styling Assistant: J'Nae Phillips Make-up: Mimi Quiquine Hair: Isaac Poleon Nails: Sylvie Macmillan

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Trip


Music enabled Kelsey Lu to chase her wildest dreams. The cellist and avant-pop alchemist is on her own divine path, and she’s soundtracking each step of the journey

Kelsey Lu is radiant in the Saturday afternoon sun, which shines through the windowpane of her London Airbnb. Her hair colour can only be described as fire – a flaming red, which works its way into hues of orange to yellow and brown. She pulls a takeaway box of calamari close to her and picks up a fork. “I’m going on tour with Neneh Cherry,” she beams. Lu is joining the singer for four of her performances across Europe in early March. “I don’t really have the words to describe her,” she says, pausing to consider her thoughts. “A woman of colour who has been such a powerful figure in the world of music, such an individual.”

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To anyone familiar with Lu and her music, the synergy between the pair is obvious. Both are vanguards in their fields and each has fought hard to live their full truths. The tour is a breakthrough moment for the 27-yearold and a prelude to another: the release of her debut album, Blood. Although the exact release date is uncertain, anyone who has seen Lu play live in the past few months will already be familiar with some of its tracks. “I’ve pretty much only been performing new stuff from the

album,” she reveals. “People have been surprised. They were probably expecting something else, so they’re like, ‘whaaat?’” Her eyes widen. “But they’re still captivated.” The singer and musician first caught the world’s attention in 2014 when a candid video interview was uploaded by web platform StyleLikeU. In seven minutes, Lu opened up about escaping her upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness by fleeing to music; the other constant in her life aside from the faith. Despite holding back tears, Lu was no longer holding herself back. Almost two years to the day, she unveiled her debut EP, Church, which was performed and recorded live in a Catholic church in Brooklyn. In six songs, Lu delivered a haunting eulogy to a past that she – through her voice, cello, and loop pedal – was burying. Receiving co-signs and credits on the albums of Solange and Blood Orange, as well as performances with Lady Gaga and Florence + the Machine, Lu’s sound refuses to be fully defined. Instead, she’s self-described it as “Luthereal”, a genre which delicately traverses a

spectrum of folk, pop, R&B, and, if Blood is anything to go by, a hint of disco too. With Lu, you’re never quite sure where you’re going to land. Born Kelsey McJunkins on May 12, 1991 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Lu was the youngest of two and raised a Jehovah’s Witness. Her home was filled with music, which offered freedom from the demands of religion. “Music was all around, it was an artistic release,” Lu reflects, looking out of the window at the high rise flats across the yard. Her mother was a pianist who loved pop music, and Lu recalls that she had tapes they weren’t allowed to listen to. “Paula Abdul was one. I remember she was like” – Lu lowers her voice to mimic her mother – “‘This is dirty. It’s too old for you’.” She bursts into laughter and adds that she listened to the tapes but she didn’t understand them. She credits a song her mum played on piano, which she can’t name but can reenact – “dun, dun, DUN!” – as having an effect on her sound. “It’s why I love Shostakovich, Beethoven, Mahler – drama, drama, drama! Thanks mom.”


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Lu found the cello at nine years old, having already tried the violin and piano. “I never got along with the violin, holding it wasn’t comfortable.” When attending symphonies or her sister’s rehearsals, the cello enraptured her. “There was something about the size and how people have to wrap their bodies around it. Whenever there was a cello moment, the lower tones just filled my belly.” During a violin lesson, she spotted one resting against the window and asked if she could take it home, her music teacher obliged. “There was a music store near my house which was my favourite place to go,” she says. “They had filing cabinets of sheet music and I knew exactly what I wanted. I was like,” – she bridges her fingers – “‘I wanna play the Bach Suites’. I couldn’t wait. I put it against my chest and I could actually feel the notes. It was full on, full body. I was just obsessed.” Her parents were encouraging and hoped one day Lu would play at Bethel, the headquarters for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “If you go to Bethel, it’s believed you will be under so much praise from Jehovah. So I was like,” – she switches into a childlike voice – “‘I’m going to play Bethel’. But slowly I started to feel like that was not my life, that it was not the religion for me.” This awakening turned Lu’s world upside down. Instead of going to orchestra rehearsals, she snuck around. “I was like, ‘I could smoke weed instead’. That was the only way I could have a quote-

unquote ‘normal existence’. Music was my way out.” When she was 18, Lu left home after a series of “dramatic events” and “literally ran” to her sister’s school, staked out the cello teacher’s room, and sat outside waiting for him. In tears, she begged him to let her play, and gained admittance to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts on a scholarship. “I was desperate,” she remembers. “It was the only way I knew how to keep going. Music has always been the thing that’s brought me the most joy.” College was transformative for Lu but it was also difficult. “I started writing poetry. There were times when I couldn’t sleep because I was really depressed,” she remembers. “When I think back on it, I didn’t understand what I was going through, I was just living in it. I would go to these practice halls with my cello, play it like a guitar, and hum and sing. I was getting out some form of emotion outside of playing the notes that were on the page that I’d always been playing in that way.” Lu started to improvise with other music and worked with dancers, who would perform to her cello or vice-versa. She recalls, “I was finding other expressions of music outside of the classical world.” But when school became “too much”, she dropped out. Lu soon met a group of people who were involved in an underground hip-hop group called United Minds

Conglomerate. “One night, we were all jamming on someone’s back porch. I had taken ecstasy for the first time and the sun was coming up. Everyone was singing, and it was going around until it got to me. I was holding it in for so long and then I was just like ‘ahhhhh’, and everyone was like, ‘What! Lu! You can sing?’” A year or two later – “My concept of time is not the best,” she waves – Lu was on tour with southern rap quartet Nappy Roots. It was her first experience on the road and a period which she’s previously described as

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In July 2016, Lu released her debut EP Church, which was recorded live in Brooklyn’s The Holy Family Roman Catholic Church. With the rise and fall of her cello bow, Lu sings – sometimes wails – with poignant honestly about her strained relationship with her parents, as well as with her own heartbreak and anguish. “My memories of being inside of a church were always for orchestral things or funerals – for mourning. The echoes of wailing and crying always really stuck with me,” she explains. Sonically, Lu admired the church and had been struggling in the studio because “it didn’t feel like when I would perform live”. By recording it there, she was laying to rest a heartache that she had carried for ten years. “Mourning those feelings that I was having, it just made sense for me to do it there.” Church followed her appearance on Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound and came a few months before she featured

on the track Interlude: The Moment from Solange’s A Seat at the Table. That same year she also played cello on Lady Gaga’s Joanne and joined Sampha on his Process tour. In 2017, she performed on Kelela’s Take Me Apart and became the face for fashion label Kenzo. Lu eventually left New York for Los Angeles and began working on her debut album, taking time out to sing on Blood Orange’s Negro Swan and play keyboards on Oneohtrix Point Never’s Age Of. Lu has since released three tracks – mostly in the past few months – including Shades of Blue, Due West and a cover of 10cc’s I’m Not in Love. On Christmas Eve, she shared a version of Joni Mitchell’s River, for which Sampha accompanied her on the piano. The track is close to her heart, despite her label not backing its release because they were worried it would be “challenging” for listeners. Still visibly frustrated, Lu, slamming her hands on the table, tells me, “I’m not going to be something that's easily consumable all the time.” Blood marks a turning point for the singer and musician. Not only is it her debut album – boasting collaborations with Jamie xx, Skrillex and Adrian Younge – but it shifts the heaviness of Church into a lightness that Lu has

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“not glamorous” but one which helped her find her own voice. On a stop in New York City, she met someone and they began dating. She had always wanted to move to NYC and, in 2012, the relationship provided the impetus to do it. Although the relationship fell apart – “It was terribly toxic,” she confides – the city was her rebirth.

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“I put the violin against my chest and I could actually feel the notes. It was full on, full body. I was just obsessed”


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It’s the opening of three acts which are broken up by two interludes. As we step out on the balcony for a cigarette, Lu explains: “The first act is one of reflection, of home, and the past with my parents, their relationship, being interracial. Then the thread goes into the present time – into playtime and political observations, sexual experiences, social experiences – and it gets more upbeat and fun. The third is an outlook of the future.” The title itself remarks on the unifying bond that we all share; blood. “It’s what runs through all of us, a tie that we all have and we exist from. It can be scary and weird, but it’s also life-giving.” Shuffling back inside to sit at the table, Lu says that yesterday she came across a folder of old files from her time

in New York. “I started spiralling – but in a really good way,” she explains as I cast her a concerned glance. “I can look at it now and be like 'damn girl, you were, like, writing songs. You were really going for it'.” She laughs at the residue of her younger self. Her writing has since taken on a metaphorical approach. “It’s direct but it's more abstract, and it could mean anything. For me, I think the meanings change over time, so to feel like it can move through that is really exciting. I like that other people can find their own interpretation in the words.” Suddenly we realise we’re sitting in the dark, the sun having disappeared on the horizon long ago. Lu turns on the lights and shows me some videos on her phone of her Flemish Giant rabbit, Cava, who passed away last year after a tragic accident, but who she believes is her spirit guide. We speak about TV shows and guilty pleasures. She muses that nature is her church and drinking tea is her ritual. She reveals plans to make blooming teas as merch for her fans so she can evoke memories of her

shows and her music through other senses. She also weighs up whether she will return to LA because she’s fallen in love with a Virgo who lives in New York. While she’s shy on the details of the romance, she’s generous when it comes to speaking about her repaired relationship with her parents. Lu has come full circle, seeking out a place where she can feel peace, reconnected to her own blood. “They brag about me all the time,” she smiles when I bring up her mum and dad. “It took a lot of time for me to emphasise where their fear came from because I was riddled in the pain of how it affected me, and my relationship with them, and the rest of the world. It took a long time to heal from that, but music was always the thing, beyond religion, that connected us, no matter what.” Blood is set for release in spring via Columbia

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finally been able to embrace in recent years. “The overall message is one of hope,” she explains. It was important for Lu to open the album with cello and strings, which feel like an homage to Church, a nod to what she’s been through.

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“Music has always been the thing that’s brought me the most joy.”


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Words: Brian O’Flynn Photography: Alex Cheng

Col y a B oy

Armed with neon disco, the Oxnard producer and activist takes part in the radicalism he preaches


044 “What’s dangerous is expectation. If somebody wants me to say a certain thing, that’s when it might not come from the heart.” It’s six months since the release of his debut EP Black Boogie Neon and Cola Boyy (real name Matthew Arango) is sitting in the office of his record label in Paris’ 18th arrondissement. He’s here recording part of his upcoming debut album, which he's finishing across New York, LA, and ultimately his hometown of Oxnard, California. It’s the first sunny day of spring in the city. Outside, the milling weekenders mark the beginning of another season in the busiest year of Arango’s life. Inside, in the cool interior of the studio, he’s trying to reflect on the last few months; to say something from the heart. “This is something I’m learning as someone who’s new to people giving a shit about my music. I’m learning that’s a dangerous area to be in, to be expected to do something,” Arango thinks aloud. “I don’t want that because none of us are perfect, or – Huey Newton said it, I think – none of us fell from revolutionary heaven. There are gonna be moments when I’m exhausted and I don’t wanna talk about this fucking oppressive existence that I go through. And that’s OK, I think.” Why would Cola Boyy ever be required to talk about revolutions or oppression, you ask? Well, while his music is an innovative sonic hybrid of rock, funk, and disco strung together with a lyrical backbone of solid “70s songwriting”, his art is not the only reason he’s gotten so much attention in the past year. He’s also a Marxist community organiser back in his hometown of Oxnard, where he works with Todo Poder Al Pueblo, a collective which defends migrants and workers. Oxnard is a town famous for its strawberry fields and the ‘nardcore punk movement of the late 70s. The thriving punk scene carried over into the 90s and 00s, and Arango naturally gravitated to the subculture, where he spent time in punk bands in his teens. From there, Arango got into leftist reading groups and then into activism proper. Most

of the city’s population is Latinx, many of them undocumented immigrants, Arango says, who are working on the fields in tough conditions while facing harassment from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Todo Poder Al Pueblo aims to defend them from the brutality of the state through rallies and lobbying. Now a member of several years, he’s a bonafide activist. Cola Boyy’s appeal in 2019 is clear: for many, he’s the counter-example, the real deal in a rapidly swelling sea of faux woke popstars. Arango has centred his community in his work in some ways, making its inhabitants and its scenery the subjects of the video for Penny Girl, from last year’s EP. The neighbourhoods he showcased are the same ones where he attends open meetings with his collective, and where he coordinates with comrades over messaging groups to keep track of which street corners ICE vehicles have been lurking around. The more he has revealed of his activist roots and community-oriented values, the more his audience has clung to them, and the more they have demanded to see. As much as his belief system informs his work, this mounting pressure to be the perfect example has left Arango with some soul-searching to do. “Somebody criticised me recently because I didn’t say anything political at one of my shows. I find that so crazy,” Arango shakes his head. “That’s the priority: performance. Politics are just performative for so many people. I don’t blame them because so much in our lives is performative, that’s how we’re taught to exist.” “But I think it’s a learning process that we all need to go through – it’s not just performance, it’s material engagement when nobody’s looking. No fucking Instagram, no badge of honour.” His is a confusing situation to be in. For Cola Boyy, the essence of good activism is taking performativity out of the equation, and putting community at the heart: “It’s not about me, I’m one person who contributes to something that’s a collective effort. I should be

faceless,” he emphasises. But equally, he feels a huge sense of duty to make good on his homegrown socialist ethos even in his work. “When I get offers, I always have conversations with my comrades back home, not just from my town but from the towns over, and I ask their opinion. I know they’ll hold me accountable, and be honest with me. I think that’s steering me the right way so far,” he says. This commitment to the cause in his music has meant that fans unsurprisingly look to him as a kind of leader. His face, despite his best intentions, is becoming important.


“I try not to be too cliché or too obvious putting politics in my music though,” he qualifies. “Sometimes I like being cryptic. But one of my songs on the new album, it’s very obviously political, straight up, it mentions white supremacy.” “I’m trying to learn how to engage with people on radical politics in a way that doesn’t scare them off. It’s a slow process,” he says. It seems that even though Cola Boyy is trying to politely back away from the mantle of leader, he’s tripped up by his own insatiable appetite for spreading the radical message. He’s aware that his newfound success means nothing if he can’t use it to benefit the people he’s singing to in real, tangible ways. “I’m starting to think about the accessibility at my shows,” he explains. “Like, who the fuck am I to not consider that? From now on my plan is to not play any shows where it’s not accessible for disabled people. It’s kind of exciting to have that power to be able to say, ‘nah, fuck that’.”

“Representation is a step towards recognising that we exist, that we have desires and perspectives that deserve to be taken into consideration. If that happens then real things will start to change for us materially,” he explains. Material changes, like the accessibility he wants to enforce at his shows, are what really matter. “Accessibility is the big issue all over the world. Non-disabled people don’t even think about it, the subways aren’t accessible. I heard there’s an app somebody made for disabled people that marks all the accessible places in a city – to me, that’s awesome.” As our conversation draws to a close, the overwhelming impression I get from Arango is that he’s a staunch realist. He wants real, concrete changes for disabled people, for migrants, and for those suffering under capitalism. He wants action, not performance; realism, not idealism. “That Utopian shit, I cannot stand it,” he states bluntly. “I saw a comment online once, saying ‘You’re a communist… but you take full advantage of capitalism’. Me buying clothes and living in a city doesn’t make me a capitalist; I don’t own the means of

production. I don’t have a choice. I’m not gonna live in a forest,” he jokes.

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For the moment, Cola Boyy is working on unravelling the different strands of himself – his music, his identity, his politics, his community, his art – so that they’re not so tangled together all the time. They’ve still found their way onto his new album, though.

“I mean… Walmart’s owned by some fucking pigs! But am I gonna condemn the hood for shopping at Walmart? Walmart’s cheap as fuck, people go there!” he exclaims, more animated now than he’s been for the whole discussion. “I would never let a brand use my politics as a slogan for them to sell shit. But I’ll take some money and buy shit for my fucking community – money’s going somewhere so why not use it for some radical shit?” It’s easy to see why Cola Boyy’s refreshingly frank politics and distinctive sound are winning people over, especially coming from someone who really follows through. This year, with the release of a genre-blurring album, his fusion of radical and realist politics will hopefully carry even further. Cola Boyy fans of the world, unite! Black Boogie Neon is out now via Record Makers. Find out more about Todo Poder Al Pueblo at todopoderalpueblo.org

Arango also lives with a disability. When he played at Pitchfork Paris earlier this year, it was one of the few things he mentioned in his inter-song monologues (“When I’m talking shit,” as he puts it). “I might be the first disabled person to play Pitchfork Paris,” he wondered to the 6pm crowd. “Isn’t that cool.” But as pleased as he sounded at the time, he knows well that representation is not enough. “It’s important. It’s a step,” he tells me. “But it’s not the end goal.”

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“Yeah, I’m up there on the stage but what about all the other disabled people in the world who make music, who do art, who just exist and walk out their door every day, and people judge them and abuse them and exploit them?”


“I would never let a brand use my politics as a slogan. But I’ll take some money for my community – why not use it for some radical shit?”


Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Ben Thompson - @desirepress


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Words: Angus Harrison Photography: Oscar Eckle

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The return of England’s most transgressive band, These New Puritans


“There is no one as focused as Jack is when he’s doing his thing”

George Barnett

Though they’d struggle to tell you precisely where it began, These New Puritans agree they owe much of their fourth studio album to a former GDR broadcasting facility in East Berlin’s industrial borderlands. Jack Barnett (30) started writing there shortly after relocating to the city from his home in Southend-on-Sea, and was soon joined by his twin brother and musical partner George (yes, also 30), who made regular trips from the UK to work on the new record. The surrounding neighbourhood comprised of little more than a coal power plant, a cement factory and a training centre for attack dogs, the latter of which provided the distant ambience of violent barks. It was an unsettling and extraordinary place to work; a setting, for them, with “no memory or history of anything,” as George puts it. Jack recalls boarding the tram with factory workers every morning, leaving the city’s established artistic quarters behind him. “It’s quite nice,” he says, “to be going in the opposite direction to everyone else.”

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These New Puritans have built a reputation on the opposite direction. As they prepare to release their first record in six years, Inside the Rose, the desire to divert expectation never feels far away.

First rising to prominence in 2008 with the release of their debut album Beat Pyramid, it’s fair to say the Essex band were misunderstood. The Southend of their upbringing was at that time the centre of an indie micro-scene, built around now-closed venue Junkclub where the band played many of their early gigs. It’s a moment the music media sought to trap them in, hurriedly grouping them in with a roster of guitar-led indie bands, a limiting label they decisively shook with the release of 2010’s Hidden, a bold, statement record celebrated for its use of taiko drums and dancehall horns. 2013’s follow-up, Field of Reeds – a fuggy, orchestral record smaller in scale but arguably larger in craft – cemented their reputation. Given the stark differences between their records, and the sizeable gap since their last, it’s easy to imagine the pair calculating each musical diversion. In fact, they say, each step has felt like a natural development. “We don’t start the writing process,” George explains, sitting opposite his brother. “We’re constantly writing.” “It’s just that at some point you have to decide what to record,” Jack adds. Inside the Rose is without doubt their most direct album to date. Following the move to Berlin to work on the record, it became clear they both wanted to produce something sharper. Songs were vocal-led, melodies rose to the surface, and lyrics came to the

fore in a way they hadn’t previously. The process saw George write lyrics for one of their albums for the first time. The result is the most romantic, coherent music they’ve ever produced. “I think our instincts about it were the same,” Jack says. “We didn’t even need to discuss it, it was really obvious.” Inside the Rose also sees the band return to the family unit, following the departure of long-time bandmember Tom Hein who has left to study computational neuroscience. “It takes a certain amount of focus, tinkering around with brains,” Jack concedes. The brothers have a good handle on the balance that makes their partnership work. George explains that “there is no one as focused as [Jack] is when he’s doing his thing.” That he lives in amongst the music, obsessing over details and generating ideas. George, on the other hand, has an eye for the big picture. He takes responsibility for album artwork, music videos and their currently-in-progress live show. Jack credits him with shaping the direction of their music as a whole. For making things happen. Take, for instance, Where the Trees Are on Fire, a highlight from the new album that Jack says came to him fully-formed in a dream. He had dreamt music before. A few years ago it would happen so often he took to keeping a dictaphone beside his bed. Most of the time he’d wake to “terrible synth-pop 80s tunes” or unappealing


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“There are two ideas of what art should do. One that it should reflect and be a mirror to its age, and another that it should go beyond it. I always prefer stuff that sits in the latter category.”

The pair are earnest about making art. It’s something they take seriously. At various points during our interview they praise a variety of creatives: David Tibet of Current 93 who guests on the album, “the best lyricist working today”; an unnamed “performance artist, qigong master, and raconteur” who introduced them to the post-Soviet studio; HansHenning Korb, the fine artist who taught himself classical composition as a teenager and will play vibraphone on their next tour. They celebrate Berlin too, as a city where art is taken seriously, unlike England where being serious about what you do is the “ultimate sin”. They make a distinction about selfimportance, though. When asked what he was reading during the production of

the album, George tells me his favourite writers are Michel Houellebecq and Sue Townsend. When I ask Jack which part of the album they found the most challenging to achieve, he dismisses the idea of struggling out of hand. “There are so many more burdensome things. If you really find music, writing, poetry whatever it might be, a real burden, then I wouldn’t add to the load. Do something else.” The trick, they say, is to take the music seriously but not yourself. In many respects These New Puritans are returning to a musical landscape that suits them better. Lines they were praised for blurring in 2010 are now barely distinct. Their version of alternative music sits far more comfortably alongside Arca or Yves Tumor than it does the four-piece guitar bands of the early 10s. Yet in other ways their priorities still feel unique. They are uninterested in responding to the immediate world; an ethos at odds with a popular culture that feeds off social commentary. Jack compares petty Twitter disputes to religious wars of the Middle Ages – thousands of people killing each other over minor differences of theology – much to George’s amusement.

“I think there are two ideas of what art should do,” Jack concludes. “One that it should reflect and be a mirror to its age, and another that it should go beyond it. I always prefer stuff that sits in the latter category.” “That’s why our artwork has shifted towards what I define as beauty,” George chimes in. “It’s not about the shape-shifting technologies of today, with some watered-down image and a little bit of spicy aluminium through it. I think it’s good to get back to a romantic idea–” He interrupts himself to inhale tightly through his teeth. “Sorry, I’ve got a bit of metal stuck in my thumb.” He’s spent most of our interview negotiating with it: a large splinter, the result of drilling holes in big metal blocks that will be played during their live show. Jack leans over but quickly looks away, horrified by the sight of the grey shard moving under the skin. “I’m with you,” George winces. “I’ve nearly got it out.” There are plenty of available metaphors but above all it’s a neat nod to their dedication to making music. The art of giving nothing less than yourself. Inside the Rose is due 22 March via Infectious Music

Jack Barnett

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murmurs, but on this occasion the tune and the words were all there. “I was superstitious about writing the chords,” he remembers. “I had this melody but no idea about the harmonic structure underneath it, so it was stuck in limbo.” It took George to press him to finish the song ahead of the band’s landmark show at the Barbican in 2014. “I thought it was great,” his brother beams.


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Eris Drew and Octo Octa are the dance music power couple on a mission to move you

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Eris Drew


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“I had a very awkward school girl crush on Maya. We’re also two trans women who were going through a lot at the same time so we had a bond through that”

Words: Rachel Grace Almeida Photography: Kasia Zacharko

Eris Drew and Maya Bouldry-Morrison are kindred spirits. Driven by the healing power of the dancefloor, the two DJs are on converging paths. Both artists are much-loved figures in electronic music. Maya makes radiant, expressive house music as Octo Octa. 2017’s breakthrough LP Where Are We Going? saw her chart new emotional terrain, cementing her as one of dance music’s most enchanting producers. Chicago native Eris Drew emerged from the old school rave scene of the 90s, spinning techno and electro at underground queer parties. Last year saw Eris’ profile as a DJ rise while she spread the good word of the Motherbeat, her personal philosophy that sees music as an ancient healer. Together as partners and creative collaborators, they’re an unstoppable force. In October 2018, the pair put out their first split release, five-track EP Devotion. Appearing on Violet’s Lisbon-based imprint Naive, it’s a cosmic house journey through themes of love, sensuality and magic. Their recent joint tour, T4T LUV NRG, united them behind the decks, where the two are luminous. Their sets are a celebration of their love for each other, dance music and the

queer community. Both independently and together, Eris Drew and Octo Octa are leading the charge with love.

Maya: I was blown away thinking, ‘here’s this girl that also likes all the same stuff I like!’

Crack Magazine: How did you two meet?

Eris: One who likes to drive around in the car with the music way too loud.

Maya: We met in 2017. I was playing Smartbar in Chicago and I was over at a friend’s house doing a video for a release of mine. Eris was the hospitality runner for the night. Eris: I used to drive for Smartbar to earn extra money and meet people. Steve, our mutual friend, has been friends with Maya for a while and when I heard when she was coming into town I asked if I could take that job. I really wanted to meet her and spend some time with her. I drove her around for the weekend basically. The next time we saw each other was when I played Club Toilet and that was the first time you heard me DJ. Maya: I came back to Chicago after that and that was when I was playing on your birthday. I really wanted to kiss you. And I didn’t. Eris: We drove around in my car listening to UK hardcore. We were just kind of bugging out.

Maya: So, I didn’t know that Eris liked me. I knew she was my friend. Later through a mutual friend I found out that she liked me also. So I sent her a text message saying, ‘I have a crush on you.’ Eris: I had to sit down and read that message several times. Maya: We’re both polyamorous and had other partners as well. I had my partner Brooke and I’ve been with them 16 years. There was a lot of navigating when it came to our relationship. Eris: I had a very awkward school girl crush on Maya. We’re also two trans women who were going through a lot at the same time so we had a bond through that. Maya: The way Eris talked about dance music and the power of it is something I felt deeply but didn’t necessarily know people that shared that same ideal and connection with it. All my work is highly


060

“Music allowed me to unlock that emotional side of myself, especially with coming out. Before that there were societal pressures to be more reserved”

personal and emotive. I found that music was the best way I could express myself and talk about what I wanted to talk about. People talk about clubs being a place to heal but not in such explicit and powerful terms like she does, which is another thing that attracted me to her. Crack Magazine: Eris, the way you speak about the power of dance is so interesting because you describe it as a kind of exercise in spirituality, both physically and mentally. Eris: It’s interesting you mention the physical because that’s one of the things Maya was talking about in her connection to me initially, and ideas about what a dancefloor could be, healing-wise. She was also the embodiment of a lot of the things that I was interested in with dance music. Maya is someone who very much understands the power of music to unlock your body. We both use dance and our bodies when we're playing to help bring people into that state of letting themselves be free. I think it's something we share. She’s this beam of light playing house records. Maya: The thing that pulls me towards your DJing is the fact that, honey, you play bangers. You have this dynamic way of playing and orchestrating the floor, to bring forth emotion from records and also having resting moments of consideration as to why you’re there and who you're with at the time. It’s really great.

MUSIC

Eris: There's certain emotional vibes I play within sets. There’s just pure love, and one of the vibes is this communal vibe. There’s no genre search for community. I can’t explain it, I can't put it in English, but there are these tracks that just bring the power of the community and the ritual that you're partaking in. It's almost like

your perspective shifts. It's not just the ecstasy we whip the dancefloor into sometimes. It’s interesting to hear how you perceive that. Maya: Eris has such an understanding of what I see in the things I listen to. I’ve done plenty of b2b sets with people and most of them are fine. But with her it's so easy and I'm so excited about every track she plays. Eris: I've played b2b sets with people that were really fun but this dialogue we have about the music that we're playing is like nothing I've ever seen. That's really, really magical. Especially since coming out, a subject I’ve been exploring has been psychedelic love. But she really brought out romantic love in me, big surprise! It factors into


Crack Magazine: It's nice to hear people talk about how much they love each other because this is something people struggle with – this really open, public adoration for a partner. There’s still shame attached to affection. Eris: What you say resonates with me because I think that a lot of people are scared to love in big ways. You know, we all hold back a little bit. I play this song called Alright to Love. I love this song because I was falling in love with Maya. I've seen the song rip people's hearts open because they need that message. Love is biologically built into us, we can access this place pretty easily. We're all affected by our ability to express love. Maya: I think sometimes that's why a lot of people don't love vocal house. But these songs are extremely expressive and emotive pieces of music. I think sometimes people are scared to let go because it is so vulnerable. Eris: I totally agree. When you look at the popularity of 90s garage, it’s ecstasy culture, and all that had something to do with it. People were cracked open when that shit was huge. I think your heart does need to be open to access that music. Maya’s dead-on about that. Maya: Love is so conditional for a lot of people. We all struggle with this one.

Octo Octa

We should be able to express love in ways that are honest and descriptive and don't become, you know, our provision. I struggle with that too. I think everybody plays those mental gymnastics. Eris: I really use music to help myself with my emotions. I was raised in a home where you could be emotional, my parents were very sweet. But also they’re baby boomers raised by Depression-era parents in a conservative, middle class environment. To connect with emotion on that kind of primal level took some deconstructing work like music and dancing. That is some of the most direct technology we have to open our hearts. Maya: Music definitely allowed me to unlock that emotional side of myself, especially with coming out. Before that there were societal pressures to be more reserved. It was very real and heavy. The lyrics are where I let it go before coming out. There's a lot of power in trying to harness that vulnerability and that has proved extremely healing for me. Using music as permission to go beyond art and personally enact something in the world with the people I love. That’s what makes this all worth it. Octo Octa's For Lovers EP is out now via Technicolour Octo Octa appears at Bilbao BBK, 11–14 Jul

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our sets and it’s part of life. It makes my work more radiant, frankly.


062

Theophilus London

Theophilus London operates his Instagram, he tells me, like a finsta. There is no cohesion to the grid, no apparent attempt at curation. Many of his posts are unvarnished and unedited iPhone videos of him dancing or singing in the studio; photos of his shoes or shots of him walking runways. His captions, generously garnished with emojis, are his own, often effusive proclamations of gratitude and confidence. His stories are populated with out-of-context videos and photos from his everyday life. “It's just raw,” he says. “I was about to hire this assistant, and he gave me this 20-page letter on how to get my Instagram to 20,000 likes. But it was so boring what I had to do. That's not me.” It wasn’t always like this. In 2017, the Brooklyn-raised Trinidadian musician wiped his Instagram clean and disappeared from the internet. It was a shocking move for someone whose hype preceded him as an It Boy of fashion and music. His last album, Vibes, co-produced with Kanye West, was released in 2014. He was close friends with Virgil Abloh. He sat front row at Paris Fashion Week and shot campaigns for Karl Lagerfeld, Virgil Abloh and Cole Haan.

MUSIC

But the experience left him creatively burnt out. “I love patterns, but I hate when shit gets old. I started to feel like my brand was too accessible. I let too many people in,” he admits. “People were dragging my brand here and there.” The return on investment was minimal, and diminishing with each passing moment: even with a Kanye co-sign, Vibes’s first week sales didn’t reach 3,000 units. By 2017, the young singer felt disconnected from

his own music. “I hated the fact that when I played, as soon as I got out my neighbourhood, and I started playing shows and festivals,” he says, “I started playing for [fewer] people of colour and people of different ethnicities. I played for fucking college kids. They don't give a fuck.”

neighbourhoods that he grew up in, marinating in Dominican, Puerto Rican, Jamaican and Trinidadian traditions. “Every Friday, there was this hall we'd go to to dance. [We’d] learn new dances straight from Jamaica,” he says. “It's that type of energy that I want to bring back.”

So London deleted his Instagram. “I didn't want to be me,” he says. “I don't want to be Theophilus London, whatever the fuck that meant. It was so tough.” He ghosted the industry, left his contract with Warner and went indie. Cancelled his Vibes tour. Went to London, hung out with “underground kids”, reacquainted himself with the African diasporic cultures that constitute his hometown of Brooklyn. Started his own label, My Bebey Records. And then he started making music again.

The week we speak, he released another single, Seals, a spare, somber solo track. “Eat me alive, I can't say no/ Need me tonight,” he sings in the hook. He wrote this song 10 years ago.

Not to belabour a metaphor, but the post that marked his return to Instagram, on 12 May, 2018, was a black-and-white video of London singing his first single out as an indie artist, Bebey, into a microphone. It was simply captioned ‘Test’. The song, then just a preview, is a fuzzy, feelgood dancehall track that evokes sandy coasts and bawdy beach hedonism. “She want me to smoke her and chief like a loosie,” he sings. “Kissing on her neck I got respect for the coochie.” He also released a remix, with UK rapper Giggs. Since then, the 31-year-old artist has been teasing his new album, also titled Bebey, by releasing collaborations with Aussie psych titans Tame Impala. Bebey represents, he says, a return to his roots. It’s a tribute to the Brooklyn

But Bebey is not a project that is beholden to nostalgia. The music London wants to make is timeless, Afrofuturistic. He wants to look back as much as he looks forward; pull the past into the present. “One kid hit me, he was like, ‘yo, I was a freshman in high school when you first announced the album and I'm about to graduate and it's still not out’” he says. “I felt a little bit of guilt but... it's like, fuck it, yo, I'm working on [music] that's going to played on the next spaceship.” Bebey is coming soon via My Bebey Records

Words: Tasbeeh Herwees Photography: Ryan Cardoso Styling: Yolibel Hair: Tyarra Jones


063 MUSIC

Top: Raf Simons Trousers: Dior


064

STYLE


065 STYLE

Trousers: Patagonia Hoodie: Givenchy Loafers: Gucci


066 Jacket: Vintage Shirt: Vintage Trousers: Saint Laurent

STYLE


067 STYLE

Top: Louis Vuitton Jacket: Vintage


068 Jacket: Colmar x Shayne Oliver Shirt: Yves Saint Laurent Loafers: Dior

STYLE


STYLE

069


19 th - 22 nd July 2019 AFRIQUOI (DJ), CC:DISCO!, CERVO, DONNA LEAKE, ESA, JAMIE TILLER & ORPHEU THE WIZARD, MARCELLUS PITTMAN, MASALO (BRIGHTER DAYS/RUSH HOUR), MIM SULEiMAN (LIVE), PEACH, TECH SUPPORT, TIMBALI (LIVE), YAABA FUNK (DJ) - AND MORE TBA -

TI CKE TS FRO M

Shipping Hill Farm, The Ridgeway, Manorbier, Tenby, SA70 8LE


071

My Life as a Mixtape: Little Simz

Since busting onto the UK rap circuit with 2010’s STRATOSPHERE mixtape, Little Simz has received a lot of love. The North London rapper, singer and actor has dominated the scene with her quick-witted rhymes, breakneck flow and beats that go in hard, yet manage to stay distinctively soulful. Now, Simz is flexing her best chops on recentlyreleased third studio album GREY Area, a body of work that crystallises her ability to balance high-octane pounders with quiet, introspective moments. She spoke to us about the songs that helped her climb all the way to the top. A song that makes me feel empowered. Lost Ones by Lauryn Hill [Rough House, 1998]. Lauryn Hill is a black woman just fully rapping her heart out. It really just shows that your voice is enough. She taught me that a good artist could drop gems with minimum instrumentation and be clear and bold.

An album that made me who I am. Ready to Die by Notorious B.I.G. [Bad Boy, 1994]. The first time I heard that album I started to understand storytelling and painting a picture through your words. That album really inspired me to commit to making the listener feel like they’re having a visual experience. A song that helped shape my political identity. Terrorist Threats by Ab Soul, Jhene Aiko and Danny Brown [Top Dawg Entertainment, 2012]. It's so club-ready yet so political and clever. I love when rappers write songs like this because there’s such a stereotype towards rap music about guns, girls, money, drugs. This shows the public that we’re conscious people, talking about real stuff happening in the world. An album that unlocks my vulnerability. Erykah Badu's Mama’s Gun [Motown/

Puppy Love, 2000]. Erykah Badu is really open and warm and honest. She just says things like, ‘remember when I felt the day I first got my period?’ Who even says shit like that? It’s so relatable as a woman, especially a black woman. She’s great at going to those lengths. She’s a Pisces as well, and so am I, so we obviously have a connection. A song that makes me feel proud. Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense by Fela Kuti [Barclay, 1986]. Fela’s one of the greatest musicians that ever lived. He’s Nigerian and I’m Nigerian. I remember when I first heard this song feeling really proud of being from a place that has so many talented people. A track that reminds me of where I grew up. JME's Serious [Boy Better Know Records, 2008]. I grew up listening to grime. JME’s from North London, I’m from North London. This takes me back to a time in my life where me and my friends were just completely gassed up over that song. Simpler times. GREY Area is out now via Age 101

MUSIC

Photography: Jack Bridgland

Words: Rachel Grace Almeida


MOTHERS WED 27 FEB OSLO HACKNEY

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STATS WED 17 APR BERMONDSEY SOCIAL CLUB

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073

Live

CTM Festival Various venues, Berlin 25 January - 3 February

This balancing act between scholarly and silly was keenly felt, a tonal push-and-pull between dark and light. Dancers responded with the same thrust and enthusiasm to Miss Djax’s scything acid warpers as the lightspeed singeli of Tanzania’s MCZO & Duke. A pair of midweek performances by DJ Haram hammered home this duality: if you weren’t feeling the suffocatingly dense reverberations of 700 Bliss – her project with magnetic doomsday poet Moor Mother – Haram lifted those same arabesque rhythms

out of the murk and placed them in a peak time set the following evening at Panorama Bar. Sometime on Saturday morning you could simultaneously take your pick between the barelymarshalled chaos of Indonesian duo Gabber Modus Operandi and the tightly-regimented hard drums of TSVI, who used a pair of M.I.A. edits and FisT’s evergreen Night Hunter to showstopping effect. Friday night pivoted around a pair of bonus shows situated well away from the dance floor. The Mantis, a sound installation conceived by Nik Nowak and Kode9, exploited the middle ground between Robot Wars, Mad Max and Banksy’s Dismaland. The live show had it all: customised sound system tanks, dread-soaked manifesto readings, experimental rapper Infinite Livez toasting over what sounded like the THX Deep Note, and a rapid tour through post-war and post-capitalist visuals ranging from Helmut Kohl to Abu Ghraib to Sky Sports. The Mantis made Lightning Bolt seem like a lighthearted affair by comparison. The noise duo were on typically

blistering form, a swivel-eyed squall of staggeringly proficient racket that had the crowd stage-diving within minutes. But they also had warmth to compliment the cascade of fuzz, with drummer Brian Chippendale massaging his hamstrings between songs and endearingly ribbing one audience member for unironically wearing a Hard Rock Cafe tee. There were also disappointing aspects, resulting from both too much ice (the polar vortex that grounded Venetian Snares’ flight) and a lack of it (the farcical sight of a skating rink that apparently wasn’t made of ice). The festival’s theme of “Persistence” was also apt: catharsis is hard to sustain across nine days. Most people I spoke with over the festival picked one or two choice events to attend, rather than the full spread, and walked away conflicted about the amount of performances they had to sacrifice due to untenable times. Still, CTM was a welcome reminder of the vitality of far-out fringe concerns. A musical multiverse where fun doesn’t have to come at a premium.

Words: Gabriel Szatan Photography: Camille Blake

REVIEWS

CTM, celebrating its 20th edition this year, is an integral part of Berlin’s cultural furniture, adventurous in its quest for ideas that no one else would consider, let alone have the gall to execute. You could attend numerous tech hackathons, bed down for the night at a 4DSOUND sleepover, or poke your head into a talk on “Arkestrated Rhythmachine Komplexities” (a brief history of drum machines, in layman’s terms). What CTM does well, though, is to consciously skirt the trap of selfseriousness, instead banking on artists who both jolt the senses and raise smiles.


XAVIER WULF CHRIS TRAVIS

IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE

MATHILDA HOMER

MON 11 MARCH

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BIIG PIIG + KEYAH/BLU + BONE SLIM TUE 19 MARCH

LONDON VILLAGE UNDERGROUND

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NAO

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GEKO

MON 08 APRIL

LONDON VILLAGE UNDERGROUND

COMETHAZINE

FRI 12 APRIL

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THU 11 APRIL

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Programming

Saturday 9 March

RADIDAS

Monday 11 March

CHRISTOF VAN DER VEN

mothclub.co.uk Monday 11 March Monday 11 March

CALVIN LOVE

FEELS Tuesday 12 March Tuesday 12 March

MOZES & THE FIRSTBORN

UNGE FERRARI Saturday 16 March Wednesday 13 March

THE LEGENDARY TIGERMAN Saturday 16 March

PINK TURNS BLUE Wednesday 20 March

BAYONNE Saturday 23 March

ALEX ZHANG HUNGTAI Wednesday 27 March

RINA SAWAYAMA + GEORGIA Tuesday 2 April

LE BUTCHERETTES Wednesday 3 April

QUAL Friday 5 April

THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS

BILL BOTTING & THE TWO DRINK MINIMUMS Tuesday 19 March

RINA MUSHONGA Wednesday 20 March

POZI Thursday 21 March

UGLY Friday 22 March

BLEIB MODERN Saturday 23 March

IMMERSION Monday 25 March

DAVID NANCE GROUP

The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com

Tuesday 16 April

BENNY SINGS

Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Thursday 7 March

TETINE

Thursday 7 March

SAVOIR ADORE Friday 8 March

GABE GURNSEY Saturday 9 March

IDENTIFIED PATIENT

Wednesday 13 March

NAOMI BANKS Wednesday 20 March

JAMES ALEXANDER BRIGHT Monday 1 April

PAIGE BEA Friday 5 April

[KSR] Saturday 13 April

GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS Wednesday 17 April

JESSICA WINTER Friday 19 April

SPILL GOLD Tuesday 23 April

CAMERA

Studio 9294 92 Wallis Rd E9 5LN @lanzaroteworks Saturday 9 March

RENDEZ-VOUS Saturday 27 April

TEST PRESSING FESTIVAL: MOON DUO, A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS Thursday 23 May

VIAGRA BOYS


084

Releases

07

08 05

08 07

Jayda G Significant Changes Ninja Tune

REVIEWS

Last year, Canadian DJ and producer Jayda G reached a pair of milestones: she launched her new label, JMG Recordings, and completed a Master's in environmental toxicology. The influence of the latter seeps directly into her debut album Significant Changes. Meandering opener Unifying the Center (Abstract), the aquatic field recordings of Orca’s Reprise, and the spoken-word sample of biologist Misty MacDuffee discussing a whale conservation court case on Missy Knows What’s Up each point to her studies, while showcasing a calmer side of Jayda's musical persona. The rousing, high-energy moments that populate her DJ sets are also well represented on hip-shaking tracks like Move to the Front (Disco Mix), and cheekily so on Stanley’s Get Down (No Parking on the DF): “Hey you, I see you with your phone looking at Instagram!” Jayda playfully chides an inattentive clubber. "This is the dancefloor, baby! This is where you're supposed to get down." Sunshine in the Valley, featuring frequent collaborator Alexa Dash, offers a moment of hands-in-the-air euphoria with dreamy synths and reverbed cooing harmonies. Science and a repertoire of house, disco and diva vocals may seem unlikely dancefloor partners, but in Jayda G’s hands, they live in harmonious coexistence. !

Krystal Rodriguez

These New Puritans Inside the Rose Infectious Music

Nilüfer Yanya Miss Universe ATO Records Since she first started commanding column inches back in 2016, much of the buzz encircling Nilüfer Yanya has focused on the effortless and soulful feel of her sound. But the 23-year-old West Londoner subverts that tag entirely in the opening bars of her debut album, Miss Universe. Imitating an automated phone line by splicing together dead-eyed intonations, WWWAY HEALTH is the first of five spoken interludes outlining a fictitious care programme with increasingly sinister undertones. Leaving aside the fact the execution is a bit am-dram, these Black Mirror-inspired skits are perhaps a bid to add a sense of cohesion to a body of work that feels scattershot, but conceptually add little. Taking in choppy, Strokes-inspired indie on In Your Head, motorik pop on Heat Rises and supple, Everything but the Girl-style jazz-soul on Paradise, Miss Universe is consistent with Yanya’s diverse tastes and strong technical pedigree, but as a collection it feels unfocused and disjointed. There’s better work ahead of her. !

Gemma Samways

These New Puritans have made a career out of difference, often pushing the sonic senses of listeners to extremes as they delve into the deconstructed, the abstract and the obscure. “I want music that sharpens you,” TNP's Jack Barnett said in a recent interview, adding that music should “amplify your nervous system.” The description couldn’t be more apt for Inside the Rose, their first LP since 2013’s Field of Reeds. The band, now recording as the core duo of Jack and twin brother George, heighten our senses with everything from frenetic vibraphones, synapsetingling orchestral strings, anxiety-inducing drones and heavenly choral hums. It’s a bold and typically brave offering. “The imagination is not a state, it is human existence itself,” the duo recently said, quoting William Blake, the inspiration for one of the album’s standout songs, Anti-Gravity. But it could well be the album’s manifesto. Exploring the imagination in all its conflicting states from inspiration to insecurity (Inside the Rose), beauty to decay (A-R-P) and heaven and hell (Into the Fire), it feels at times like the album is the Imagination personified, inviting a musing on the very concept of artistic creation itself. !

Liz Aubrey

Late Night Tales: Floating Points Late Night Tales

Ariana Grande thank u, next Republic In 2018, Ariana Grande’s highly acclaimed fourth album Sweetener proved to be a career-defining milestone. And barely six months later, here’s thank u, next, a record that comes off the back of an enormous eponymous single and continues Grande’s path to total pop dominance, albeit at the cost of some of her most interesting traits. Grande’s songs are like Instagram posts – they’re diaristic, introspective, but filtered and controlled, letting you see enough to give an air of authenticity but never too much as to appear messy. Sweetener felt novel in this approach, and thank u, next retains some of that magic. But its songs are simpler, less layered and easier to digest. fake smile, an IDGAF anthem about personal empowerment, seems almost put-on, posturing for likes instead of digging deeper. However, tracks like imagine graze the clouds of pop heaven, Grande’s flawless vocals as close to classic-era Mariah as they’ve ever been. Breakup song bloodline uses a ska-tinged horn riff and acidic lyrics to impressive effect. thank u, next may lack some of the bleeding heart and zeitgeist-arresting power of Sweetener, but with this broad and biting follow-up release, Ari’s crown remains secure and her throne unrivalled. !

Cameron Cook

It's no surprise that Floating Points' contribution to the Late Night Tales series feels so healing and patient. The DJ, producer, Eglo Records co-founder and actual neuroscientist specialises in fluid, warming electronic music that has become increasingly mind-bending since his 2009 debut J&W Beat. Here, he treats listeners to a lovingly-curated lesson in 1970s spirituality and the contemporary avant-garde. Two tracks from French experimentalist Alain Bellaiche offer a bridge between the shining, soft-rock rarities that fill the first half of the mix and the celestial soundscapes in the second. Kara-Lis Coverdale contributes an excerpt in which organic acoustics spin gently off-course, which sits against the creamy vocals and plaintive brass of Azimuth's jazz epic The Tunnel, the opening record on Floating Points and Four Tet's much-loved final Plastic People mix. Shepherd's own stunning cover of Kenny Wheeler brings us to the dawn, and Lauren Laverne's vigorous reading of Emily Dickinson throws open the curtains. So nourishing that it almost feels better suited to the morning's earliest hours, this Late Night Tales edition confirms Shepherd, once again, as one of our most generous selectors. !

Katie Hawthorne


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Karen O & Danger Mouse Lux Prima BMG

SASAMI SASAMI Domino

After almost three decades, the darling of American indie rock has made an electronic record. Or so Stephen Malkmus would have us believe. Groove Denied, Malkmus’ first solo record, only half-delivers on the PR promise, but given the former Pavement frontman’s rep for angular guitar licks and wry witticisms, it’s worthy of our attention nonetheless. Belziger Faceplant opens the album like a hazy hallucination of a New York night. With shimmering screeches, tuneless whimsiness and pitch-bent sirens, Malkmus concertedly mines the decade of his youth with two standout songs. Viktor Borgia sounds like a kitschy Gary Numan, while A Bit Wilder deals in Mute Records’ raison d'etre with a submerged bassline and gothy indifference. Malkmus’ knack for melodious songwriting means the album’s tracks that do trade in more traditional indie fare are gorgeous. Bossviscerate in particular, built on a gently knocking drum machine pattern and slide-guitar hook, is a gem. But largely, it’s the strength of his curious forays into digital tools that give Groove Denied its unusual charm.

As a producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Sasami Ashworth has previously helped Soko, Vagabon and Wild Nothing flesh out their artistic visions. Last January, the LA based musician finally resolved to realise her own, relinquishing a supporting role in Cherry Glazerr to go solo. Sifting through failed relationships and missed connections on her self-titled debut, Ashworth’s lyrics are at once diaristic and intriguingly opaque. That delicate balance is honoured in the record’s skilful arrangements and deft use of dynamics. Gossamerlight vocals mingle with serrated guitar distortion on Callous, while the layered, Stereolabstyle atmospherics of Morning Comes are juxtaposed with the naked simplicity of Devendra Banhart-duet Free. Meanwhile, Turned Out I Was Everyone is hypnotic dream-pop conjured from sparse drum machine, mantra-like repetition and a gauze of Angelo Badalamentiesque synths. It’s an understated yet deeply accomplished debut, and with it Ashworth has delivered irrefutable evidence that, creatively, hers is a voice that deserves to be amplified.

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Theo Kotz

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Gemma Samways

Few bands can as confidently claim the term ‘progressive’ as London trio Teeth of the Sea. Surging through early-days post-rock and a subsequent delve into psychedelia (and onto the techno-infused present day), theirs is a path not only less-travelled, but freshly stomped each time. Ostensibly inspired by ghostly apparitions in the studio, Wraith is typical in that regard, and that regard only. Erol Alkan-featuring EBM opener I’d Rather is a gripping sprint through clubland excess, while the subsequent title track uses skittish percussion and a meandering trumpet solo to take the new jazz explosion into a new, warped world. From there, things tend to veer and melt a little too readily into the walls. Teeth of the Sea’s reliance on ambience and jazz sonics coming off as slightly less boundary-pushing, given the jazz world’s present youthful vigour. Tracks like Her Wraith glide past without any ado, only the 26-second chaotic loops of Wraiths in the Wall really breaking through the hazy atmospherics. Teeth of the Sea may have always pushed their ideas forward, but when the world around them is now following suit, they need to do better than just keep pace. !

Tom Connick

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Steve Mallon

Little Simz GREY Area Age 101 Efdemin New Atlantis Ostgut Ton Berlin-based producer Phillip Sollmann – also known as Efdemin – seems to exist on the fringes of the Ostgut Ton roster despite being one Berghain’s longest-serving club residents. Sollmann’s latest studio album New Atlantis furthers this point. It cements him as a techno mainstay with ease, but it’s the boldness of this release that makes it stand out. At eight tracks long, New Atlantis could have worked as one long intertwined composition. The album, bookended by two otherworldly vocal tracks, is a homage to Francis Bacon’s unfinished novel of the same name which imagines a fantasy island where culture is synthesised and all worldly sounds are condensed. Despite the lofty ambition, it’s an incredibly mature deployment. The cross-pollination of sounds, all loosely falling under the techno bracket, makes New Atlantis as much a record for those with experimental leanings as those who favour 4/4. From ambient drone to guitar to whirring, hypnotic techno, Sollmann captures Bacon’s dream world to stunning effect, each listen demanding more of your attention, revealing something new each time. !

Tom Frost

There’s plenty to admire about Little Simz but there hasn’t always been a lot to enjoy. On third album GREY Area, the deep-thinking rapper matches these indomitable strengths with a richer set of instrumentals and more adroit songcraft than before. Simz, in her familiar North London tone, raps over the kind of heavy, percussion-driven beats that Nas was leaning on a decade ago. The battering drums of Boss sees Simz at her most dissonant, while the fuzzy bassline and dramatic strings of Offence sound like they were captured from the grubbiest corner of the 70s soul canon. On the other end of the stylistic spectrum, the simple piano chords and sweet hook of Selfish forms a fresh slice of laidback lounge rap. As ever, Simz’s writing is sharp. Over producer Inflo’s thin electronic beat that sounds like it was teased out of a hacked Gameboy, 101 FM evokes the star’s youth as she remembers growing up to the pirate radio stations that grooved London in the 00s. Less successful is Little Dragon-featuring Pressure, where barbed rapping, heavy drums and gentle piano chords feel at odds with one another. Still, this is Simz at her most enjoyable, delivering everything that makes her distinct but with a welcome layer of polish. !

Dean Van Nguyen

REVIEWS

Stephen Malkmus Groove Denied Matador

Teeth Of The Sea Wraith Rocket Recordings

As vocalist of art punk outfit Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O is an electric front-woman. She’s charismatic and energetic, with an ear for catchy hooks and a voice that cuts through the band’s agitated guitars and clattering drums. But her Achilles’ heel can be found by looking closely at her lyrics. Often a collage of muddled metaphors and airy aestheticism, this is largely eclipsed by the band’s unruly sound and her vibrancy as a performer. In the case of her latest offering Lux Prima, a collaboration with prolific producer Danger Mouse, her weaknesses in songwriting become impossible to ignore. The catchy hooks are mostly gone; the tone is introspective. Danger Mouse is the steady hand in the background bringing the album’s lush, smooth soundscapes into being, but sadly they do little to deflect from O’s impenetrably vague writing. Intelligible ideas can just about be glimpsed in the alphabet soup of meaning she creates – feeling like nothing in the world matters but your partner on the title track, or the importance of positive self-talk in Woman – but they’re so unclear that it’s difficult to connect with them emotionally. Translating as ‘Luxury First’, the album’s title is appropriate in describing its prioritisation of style over substance. And style can’t save this one.


April 21st 2019 5 Years...

Warehouse Elementenstraat

IsBurning

June 1st 2019 WAS...

IsBurning


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Giggs, Big Bad

Words: Tara Joshi

There might be no other UK rapper like Giggs. The Peckham MC has reached canonical status at this point, having successfully made the crossover to the mainstream after years in the relative underground (his last album reached number two in the UK charts), all while maintaining the respect of his peers and day-one fans.

Giggs Big Bad Universal Island Records

His fifth album Big Bad cements his position. His last release, 2017’s tape Wamp 2 Dem, with its greater scope of sounds, was a solid indicator of things to come. Doubling down on this approach, Big Bad finds Giggs embracing a US-influenced palette of trap sounds, warm melodies, and soulful samples, which sit alongside more minimalist and occasionally bashment-tinged UK sounds. A constant factor in Giggs’ appeal has been his distinctively gruff and gravelly voice; the engaging way he can switch up effortlessly between menacing and comical. These familiar traits make the more ambitious terrain (and sonics) he’s traversing on Big Bad work. Clocking in at over an hour, the album can drag at times, but it certainly gives him space to experiment as he pleases. Tender moments about his partner’s perfume mingle with stone-cold tracks about the streets, and he’s even producing some of the beats this time around (on the metallic, winding

piano of 187). When he tries his hand at singing on Talk About It, it’s surprisingly endearing, even if it’s a little out of tune. Of course, not everything quite works. Baby, with its seductive production from The FaNaTiX is, on the surface, one of the biggest tracks on the album. But Giggs’ enunciation is so clear that it’s impossible to ignore how bizarre the lyrics are. “Shit's Madagascar/ When the monkeys made a poo scatter” is one of the refrains. It’s pretty funny, but also unquestionably jarring in a track where he’s chirpsing (“Hello baby/ don’t be so paro baby”). With its bold production and weighty bars, Big Bad is an album as huge as the fairy tale wolf he’s invoking, and sees Giggs stepping up a level while retaining a deep sense of self. The high standard of features brings out some of the best of the Hollowman’s flow (Run Me Down with Ghetts is a stand-out). But more than ever, Giggs is shining on his own terms. Over the humid, gangsta rap beats of Mic Check, New York legend Jadakiss erupts into the song, his presence a reminder that Giggs has reached a similar calibre. But Giggs’ expansion isn’t derivative or at the expense of his own persona. Big Bad is a big album that brings London – with it’s shit chatup lines and all – to the world.

REVIEWS

07

With bold features, immense beats and that voice, Giggs is bringing Peckham to the world stage


ANNA OF THE NORTH 25 Mar Village Underground MØ 27 Mar Hangar KOKOKO! 4 Apr XOYO OUMOU SANGARÉ 10 Apr EartH FAR CASPIAN 11 Apr The Shacklewell Arms DAWN 16 Apr Jazz Cafe ALICE PHOEBE LOU 17 Apr EartH TELEMAN 24 Apr EartH VERA SOLA 24 Apr The Lexington WILLIAM TYLER 25 Apr St John on Bethnal Green BARRIE 26 Apr Moth Club FIL BO RIVA 1 May Oslo LONNIE HOLLEY 8 May St John on Bethnal Green CHARLY BLISS 13 May The Garage STONEFIELD 13 May The Lexington BODY TYPE 15 May Moth Club G FLIP 15 May The Garage POTTERY 16 May Sebright Arms rockfeedback.com

CHAI 17 May Moth Club TRUDY & THE ROMANCE 21 May Oslo JACCO GARDNER 22 May The Dome LAURAN HIBBERD 23 May The Lexington TOMBERLIN 24 May The Lexington OPEN MIKE EAGLE 24 May Islington Assembly Hall FM-84 26 May Electric Brixton STRAND OF OAKS 27 May Omeara RAYANA JAY 29 May Camden Assembly MAYRA ANDRADE 30 May EartH THURSTON MOORE GUITAR ENSEMBLE 31 May EartH WIRE 1 June EartH CASS MCCOMBS 6 June EartH MATMOS 11 June Jazz Cafe KEVIN MORBY 19 June O2 Shepherds Bush Empire ADULT MOM 25 Jul The Lexington GIA MARGARET 9 Sept St Pancras Old Church ELDER ISLAND 20 Nov Roundhouse

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Talk Talk, Spirit of Eden In the wake of Mark Hollis’s death, Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden draws eerie parallels to the world today

Original release: September 16, 1988 Label: Manhattan Records

Against all that, Spirit of Eden can feel like it’s from another world entirely. A six-track suite of ghostly structures and sharp contrasts, it’s hard to imagine how it came from a band of power-pop hitmakers who had once been dismissed as a budget Duran Duran. Neither rock nor pop, Spirit of Eden has more in common with the cool introspection of early-60s Miles Davis or the dreamy minimalism of Erik Satie. Impossible to tour and with no conceivable hit single, the album

The members of Talk Talk had been in bands since the 70s, following the trail from punk to new wave to synth-pop. But on Spirit of Eden, you can hear the sound of a journey coming to an end. The album was pieced together from hours of improvised performances by outside musicians, with Hollis and Friese-Greene painstakingly editing tiny fragments of their recordings into a whole. With the band members evolving from musicians into producers, Spirit of Eden acknowledged a paradigm shift taking place: the redefining of pop through sampling technology. Despite the labour-intensive conditions of its creation, Spirit of Eden above all offers silence; an escape from the brash excess of 80s pop. “Silence is the most important thing you have,” Hollis explained in an interview with Melody Maker in 1991. “Spirit is everything, and technique, although it has a degree of importance, is always secondary.” The album has often been called the beginning of “post-rock”, a genre that claims the end of rock itself. Hollis’s voice is the exact opposite of a flamboyant frontman; on I Believe In You it cracks and and crumbles in mid-air as he calls out to this unknown

“spirit”, caught between between ecstasy and surrender. The day after Hollis died, I listened to Spirit of Eden while walking through London on an uncomfortably hot February day. I noticed again the first line of the album. Whispered, as if Hollis thinks you’re not listening: “Oh yeah… the world’s turned upside down”. Eden, you have to remember, is not just a paradise, but the memory of a paradise lost, already spoiled in our minds with the knowledge of its destruction. It was 18 degrees that day, and every year our paradise shrinks. Insects disappear, birdsong is replaced with silence. These days my thoughts are plagued with the end of history – not the kind that Fukuyama celebrated, but a truly cataclysmic one.

REVIEWS

Fukuyama missed the mark, but the tailend of the 80s was nonetheless a time of strange upheaval. The Cold War ended suddenly, leaving America aimless and in charge, while Britain was drained after a decade of Tory rule. Meanwhile, the “second summer of love” brought the stirrings of an anti-establishment youth culture, this time built on the machinic repetition of sequencers instead of flaming guitars.

confounded EMI and triggered a legal battle that ended with the band signing to Polydor for their final album, 1992’s Laughing Stock. By that time, the eccentric studio habits that frontman Mark Hollis and his co-producer Tim Friese-Greene had dreamt up for Spirit of Eden had fossilised. They blacked out the windows, threw out the clocks and worked by the light of an oil projector.

Words: Chal Ravens

Talk Talk released their fourth and penultimate album Spirit of Eden in 1988. The following year, the American political theorist Francis Fukuyama published The End of History?, an essay trumpeting the end of communism and the triumph of capitalist democracy. By the time Fukuyama expanded his essay into a book in 1992, he even felt confident enough to drop the question mark. Unfortunately, history would prove him wrong by carrying on regardless and – one dotcom bubble, a war on terror and a global financial crash later – raising a few question marks of its own at the capitalist world order.


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Film

07 07 06

Velvet Buzzsaw dir: Dan Gilroy Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton

Boy Erased dir: Joel Edgerton Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe

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Josh Winning

Green Book dir: Peter Farrelly Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini The term Oscar-bait is thrown around a lot during awards season. In effect, it describes a non-blockbuster that is released just before the Academy Awards – usually a biopic or historical epic – with the intention of racking up as many nominations as possible. Green Book, an entertaining film about mid-century race relations, ticks all of these boxes. But something’s off. Based on a true story, it follows Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian doorman who finds himself suddenly unemployed when the nightclub he works at closes. Surrounded by ignorance and racist relatives, Tony holds similarly backwards views. Eventually, he gets a job as a driver but his employer – an African American pianist (Mahershala Ali) – balks at Tony’s sloppy manners and slobbish behaviour. What follows is a moving ‘odd couple’ dramedy set against the tense backdrop of 1960s southern America. A kind of reverse Driving Miss Daisy. Driven by stellar performances, Green Book lives and dies by its lead actors. Mortensen is a revelation as diamond-in-the-rough Tony, while Ali deservedly won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. However, Peter Farrelly’s flick has come in for its fair share of criticism. Condemned by some who say it flattens America’s racist history, the film often fails to engage with its subject matter. In an early scene, Tony sees two black workmen drinking from glasses in his kitchen. When they leave, he promptly throws the glasses in the bin. Oddly, that’s the last we see of such behaviour and he morphs into a likeable rogue for the rest of the movie. Green Book is an accomplished biopic, of that there’s no doubt, but – as exemplified by the outcry when it picked up Best Picture at the Oscars – there’s a sense this could, and should, have been something more.

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Lara C Cory

08

Capernaum dir: Nadine Labaki Starring: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole A raw account of what it’s like to grow up in poverty, Capernaum shows how some children are robbed of their innocence and forced to become adults prematurely. Following 12-year-old boy Zain (played by the extraordinary Zain Al Rafeea), a gutsy, street-smart child who runs away from his negligent parents and ends up living with Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), an Ethiophian refugee, and her infant son Yonas, Capernaum sometimes feels more journalistic than cinematic, with many of the actors being real kids scouted on the streets of Lebanon and asked to improvise dialogue in life-like situations. Scenes about hunger and human trafficking are directed with an unflinching authenticity, making you feel like you’re baring witness to a bleak everyday reality for children rather than something that’s been romanticised for Western audiences. Director Nadine Labaki shoots the film with a poetic eye, as she makes the point that there are boys like Zain all across the world and it’s our duty not to walk past them. Yet Labaki also doesn’t seem completely sure of what she’s trying to say with her film; the idea that it’s a crime to bring children into poverty is only hinted at. Even if Capernaum is flawed, it has enough heart to stay with you long after the credits roll. Almost 30% of the Lebanese population, many of whom are Syrian refugees, live below the poverty line, and Capernaum will make you want to do everything in your power to help them. !

Thomas Hobbs

Alex Flood

REVIEWS

After his chilling 2015 debut, The Gift, director Joel Edgerton returns with a very different but just-asunsettling second film. Adapting Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir, Boy Erased sees teenager Jared (Lucas Hedges) signed up to a gay conversion therapy course run by therapist Victor Sykes (also Edgerton). There, Jared wrestles with his feelings for other men, while hiding the true anguish of attending the programme from his preacher father (Russell Crowe) and affectionate mother (Nicole Kidman). As with the similarly-themed The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Boy Erased doesn’t shy away from the psychological traumas visited upon vulnerable gay people who have been – and, in some parts of the world, continue to be – subjected to the humiliation and bullying of conversion therapy. While Cameron Post had a hard edge, though, Edgerton’s film feels quieter and more introspective in comparison. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments, particularly in one shocking dorm room scene that lays bare the destructive potential of men shamed for their sexuality. The performances are also uniformly excellent. Hedges makes for a soulful, likeable protagonist, while Kidman and Crowe bring immense depth to their roles. For all it gets right, though, it’s curious that Boy Erased stops short of showing any genuine affection between men. Even when Jared meets a potential love interest, their encounter is chaste to the point that the pair never even touch. Ultimately, that sweet-naturedness is one of the film’s strengths, and its well-deployed message is hugely affecting.

It doesn’t happen much these days, but the madefor-Netflix film Velvet Buzzsaw might be guilty of trying to give the audience too much. Writer and director Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) wants to deliver a serrated commentary on the art world, an epic Robert Altman-style ensemble cast, bloody horror, supernatural thrills, wry humour and existential depths. And he almost gets away with it. The sunny and sterile art scene of LA provides the paradoxical backdrop for the dark and disturbing images that fill the paintings of the mysterious Vetril Dease, whose dead body and apartment full of art is discovered by superficial gallery assistant Josephina (Zawe Ashton). The plot unfolds around a complex – sometimes confusing – tangle of relationships between Rene Russo’s frosty gallery owner Rhodora Haze, frustrated artist Piers (John Malkovich) and conceited art critic Morf Vanderwalt (Jake Gyllenhaal). Aside from a few moments of insecure dialogue and poor delivery that distracts from the otherwise high quality, Velvet Buzzsaw works hard to give you a story that goes deep into the philosophical chasms of art and the economic structures built upon it, while presenting a supernatural conundrum redolent of H.P. Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model, where the art reveals more than anyone really wants to see. Gyllenhaal’s performance as Morf is enthralling. Jumping between insufferable smugness, explosive rage and extreme vulnerability you’re never really sure if his eventual fate is warranted, unlike the rest of the cast who seem to deserve their grim destinies. Gilroy clearly has a lot to say about art and hypocrisy, and while he might have made a stronger point by killing some of his darlings, the riveting performances and innovative death scenes make Velvet Buzzsaw an entertaining, if flawed, satire.


Advice on existential anxiety and navigating the discourse from the member of NYC’s Discwoman collective

FULL COLOUR MAGAZINE

NOVEMBER ‘99

$5.00

Design : CokeOak

Dear Frankie,

Hey Frankie,

Dear Agony Aunt,

I recently started learning to play the drums. I've only been playing for a few months, and I am aware that mastering an instrument takes years of practice, but I still find myself being incredibly frustrated even with the idea of not being good at something straight away. Or, in worse cases, I’m bad. This is a mentality that spills into my personal and professional life too. How can I be more kind and patient with myself?

I take an active interest in dancefloor politics and am all here for encouraging inclusivity and progressive values in the scene. But I am so bored of the same after-hours chat about the woke club scene's topic of the week that seems to go round in circles to no conclusion and nobody's benefit. Is it bad to duck out of the discourse? Or are there better ways to spend my energy?

I'm trying to be better at communicating my needs but I also know that I'm known for being finicky around personal hygiene and also critical of other people's personal choices that don't necessarily make a difference to my life, so I am also trying to be more open and kind. How can I tell someone very close to me who I see often that I hate their perfume?

I’ve been thinking about this recently and came to the conclusion that I think it demonstrates such strength in character throwing yourself into something that you’re not an expert at. Be proud you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable and shit at something.

LOL tell me about it. But people have different access points in regards to these subjects, so what’s tired for you maybe the first point of learning and understanding for another. So as much as I may be bored talking about the same thing constantly, I don’t think it’s that beneficial stating how bored you are of it. How about instead starting your own conversation? Or take the action you think needs to be taken. There’s always a lot of criticism from folks who don’t try to change anything.

Hi Frankie,

Dear Frankie,

I don’t think that you can tell someone that. I think you have to just embrace people for who they are unless they’re racist or misogynistic or homophobic or transphobic or ableist or xenophobic or all of the above. If they smell a certain way you dont like, I don't think it’s fair to make that their problem. I mean, you could tell them, but don’t prepare for it to go very well. In my younger years an employer once told me I smelled bad, and it never made me look at them with respect lmao. I just left the job, so expect the same with your friendship. If your friend asks then that’s a different story, be honest. But you can’t control people and expect them to be who you want them to be.

All this talk of societal collapse is making me anxious. What's your plan for the apocalypse?

My New Years resolution was to read more books but every time I sit down to read I end up on the timeline. Help!

Aspiring survivalist, London

Jacob, East London

My plan is to open a flower shop and die.

I am the worst at finishing books, but I really love the idea of it so understand your pain. Once I put my phone in another room so if I were to get distracted it would be quite an embarrassing effort to do so. Or put a timer on your phone for like an hour, and hopefully by that point you’re into the book and won’t need any distraction. But if the book is shit, then I'm sorry, there’s little hope of you finishing.

Love, Vexed But Trying

Looking for wisdom on sex, politics, techno and reality TV? Ask Frankie at agonyaunt@crackmagazine.net


20 QUESTIONS

HOMESHAKE - EST. 1983 -

Over the phone, Peter Sagar – better known as Homeshake – is unflappably chill. Once a guitarist in Mac DeMarco’s live band, the Montreal-based singer and multi-instrumentalist made a slick transition into silky bedroom R&B in 2014. Since then, he’s released four studio albums, all dripping in lo-fi, wonky jazz grooves and his signature honey-dipped falsetto. Here, he talks bad habits, socialist memes and what helps him keep his cool.

Words: Rachel Grace Almeida

How would your friends describe you in three words? ‘Where is he?’ Best tip for getting through the futility of modern life? I’m gonna have to go with moving slowly – just moving really slowly from place to place. I don’t like getting too stressed out. What’s your worst habit? I chew my cuticles really badly. My fingers are a nightmare, this manifestation of stress. There’s always something in the distance giving me anxiety and I don’t know how to stop. My partner Selena freaks out at me, she’s like, ‘you can’t keep doing this, you look like you just had a horrible manicure.’ What’s your earliest childhood memory? I have one memory of my mom passing out when I was getting my first injection. I developed a full phobia of needles. The idea of putting something in me or taking anything out of me is what really gets me about injections. Oh, and I’m not an anti-vaxxer or some dumb shit. I just can’t not pass out at the sight of a needle. What annoys you the most in this world? When people are mean to my partner Selena. What would you want written on your tombstone? “Lived casually.”

Favourite meme? The Gritty memes. He’s the mascot of the ice hockey team the Philadelphia Flyers. His image has been adopted by leftist memers and it’s just his big orange face with text about the proletariat revolution. It’s so good. He’s our champion. The worst thing about the Internet? The comment sections. YouTube comments in particular. You can click on any video and it’s just the worst place where people share ideas. The best thing about the internet? Free music. I like to pirate things. I love illegally streaming movies, it’s the best. Do you get pissed off when people pirate your music? No, that would make me the biggest hypocrite. I’ve been doing that my whole life. I try not to do it when it’s smaller acts. I buy a lot of stuff on Bandcamp now I can afford extra things in my life, but if some kid can’t afford Spotify and needs to rip my music then that doesn’t bother me at all. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Love and support from my sweetheart. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given? I give pretty terrible advice. If I ever have, I don’t know about it. Don’t trust me.

What city really feels like home? Montreal because I’ve been here for eight years. My parents left my hometown so the house I grew up in isn’t there anymore. When I go back to my hometown, it doesn’t feel like home at all. When I go see my parents at their new place it doesn’t feel like home either. Have you read anything good lately? I don’t really read books, but my friend did a really good tweet that was a pun about a Pavement song that I liked. I thought about that for a couple more hours after I read it. What makes you feel nostalgic? Ugh, everything. I’m really, really nostalgic. It’s stupid, it seems like a waste of energy, but I can’t help it. I mean, is there such thing as negative nostalgia? I always think of it as a positive thing because people are never nostalgic for something shitty, like being born in the 30s. What’s the biggest realisation you’ve had in the past year? I had a realisation about my own mental health. That's all I'm going to say.

What’s the weirdest party you’ve ever been to? There was this one party in high school that was very big and there was a fight and a gun. It wasn’t really weird, it was a regular sketchy winter party on the west side of Edmonton. Favourite food? I love noodles. Spaghetti, ramen, it’s all I eat. What has disappointed you lately? I was really disappointed that nobody booked me to play a show in Mexico. Obviously the ‘come to Brazil’ joke happened and everyone had a laugh at the expense of these poor kids wanting to watch live music, but I’ve been getting a lot of requests for Mexico and I really want to go there. It feels like it would be great for everyone, I don’t know what the problem is. Heavy metal or EDM, for the rest of time? What even is EDM? Helium is out now via Sinderlyn


The Reload This was a remarkable Trojan horse moment for Jamaican music culture in the UK, looking back on it now. Even for an increasingly bloated and commercial repetitivebeats-industrial-complex, where superclubs and superstar DJs were fully established parts of the pop cultural landscape, the rewind remained an arcane, oftenmisunderstood, oftenmaligned practice.

The third millennium after Christ began with a rewind. And lo, He did look upon His works, and did wheel and come again, speaking unto the congregation: my selector! Artful Dodger and Craig David’s Re-Rewind was not, to be fair, in the number one spot on 1 January 2000. It was at this point placed 5th in the UK singles chart, behind the significantly less seminal contributions of Westlife, John Lennon, Cliff Richard, and Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo. But the platinum-selling UK garage smash captured the spirit of the age in a way that these four lesser icons did not: spending eight weeks in the top 10, either side of millennium eve.

Words: Dan Hancox Illustration: Dominic Kesterton

What is easily forgotten is that the zeitgeist at the time of this epochal calendar change was – from the front to the back – an instructional lesson in the dynamics of DJ-MC-audience relationships, and how and when to execute a reload.

When I started going to grime and dubstep nights like FWD>>, Straight Outta Bethnal and DMZ, it was precisely the egalitarianism of this crowd participation that made the atmosphere so convivial, precisely the unpredictability of hearing those one-ofa-kind new dubplates pulled that made each rave so memorable, and precisely the climactic hype of those devastating drops and wheels that made them such thrilling nights out. Skepta and Plastician even wrote a song about those very parties, Intensive Snare. The frenzy of hands in the air, lighters flicking in the darkness, the collective yells to wheel and pull the track up. And then the abrupt intervention and the record screeching to a halt, like a tape cassette unspooling, like Wile E. Coyote running off the edge of a cliff, his legs still pedalling in mid-air for a second. And you’d turn to the random dancer stood next to you and both shake your head in disbelief, grinning, taking five seconds to mop the sweat from your brow. What the fuck was that? I’ve no idea mate, absolute madness though. Sometimes a dubplate would be so massive, and so of the moment – having recently built up a head of steam on pirate radio, or at the previous couple of raves – that it’d come back four or five times. You’d be

ready and waiting, knowing from the first snatch of the glowing synth riff of Skream’s Midnight Request Line, teased into the mix, that it was about to kick off. The same went for Mala’s AntiWar Dub, or Skepta’s Duppy. None of those records ever got far. I distinctly recall MCs and ravers wagging their fingers at DJs after pulling back one of their tracks, as if to say ‘nah, come off it fam – there’s absolutely no way you’re letting that one run.’ For me the rewind was intensely bound up with the warm, community vibe at FWD>>’s only true home, the muchmissed Plastic People in Shoreditch. The ceiling is low, the dancefloor is almost pitch black, and if the crowd decides the track is coming back, the track is coming back. Only once or twice did I see this go wrong, when a hyped-up (or exportstrength-Guinness-drunk) part of this community leaned over the decks and pulled a track on behalf of the crowd, having entirely misjudged the vibe, and the DJ’s mood. The glare on Kode9’s face, after an over-eager punter did this during one of his FWD>> sets, was something to behold. He rolled his eyes – the crowd did too – but he shook his head and got on with it. Worse things happen at sea. Some people will never understand their magic. When, at the peak of grime’s popular renaissance in 2016, the Evening Standard sent their regular music critic John Aizlewood to review Skepta’s huge homecoming gig at Alexandra Palace, he earned himself widespread derision for mistaking rewinds for technical glitches. “Not everything went to plan,” he wrote, “songs were re-started.” What was more significant than a middle-aged hack’s cock-up in a crappy newspaper was the presence of a 10,000-strong, largely teenage, largely white crowd, who were entirely au fait with rewinds. That, right there, is the legacy of several decades of Jamaican soundsystem culture continually shaping the contours of the UK, and it’s something to celebrate. When the crowd go wild, what else you gonna do?


4–10 July TREE Created by:

ONO

YOKO

4 July BELLS FOR PEACE Opening event

Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival. Photo: Matthew Placek, Copyright: Yoko Ono

IDRIS ELBA+ KWAME KWEI– ARMAH A Manchester International Festival, Young Vic and Green Door Pictures co-production. Photo: Maarten de Boer/Contour by Getty Images

17–19 July Secret Location

SK EPTA DYSTOPIA987 Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival. Photo: Olivia Rose

4 – 21 July

mif.co.uk

Full programme announced Thursday 7 March 2019


Profile for Crack Magazine

Crack Issue 98  

Featuring Kelsey Lu, Cola Boyy, These New Puritans, Eris Drew and Octo Octa, Theophilus London and more.

Crack Issue 98  

Featuring Kelsey Lu, Cola Boyy, These New Puritans, Eris Drew and Octo Octa, Theophilus London and more.