Nines Crack Magazine | Issue 90
CROSSTOWW N CONCERTS
P R E S E N T S
FE FO W LAS R TIC T TH K E ETS O2
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE UK TOUR 2019
F R I D AY 0 1 F E B R U A R Y
EVENTIM APOLLO HAMMERSMITH
45 QUEEN CAROLINE STREET - LONDON - W 6 9 Q H
“COME ON PILGRIM… IT’S SURFER ROSA” SPECIAL 30TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION FOR FIVE NIGHTS TUESDAY 30 OCTOBER - WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER OUT OUT LDNOVEMBER THURSDAY 01 NOVEMBER - FRIDAY SO02 SOLD T SATURDAY 03 OU NOVEMBER SOLD
D E AT H C A B FO R C U T I E .CO M T H E N E W A L B U M T H A N K Y O U F O R T O D AY AVA I L A B L E A U G U S T 1 7 BY ARRANGEMENT WITH CAA
ALL INFO AT WWW.PIXIESMUSIC.COM BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY
UK TOUR 2018
WILDNESS TOUR 2019
WEDNESDAY 14 NOVEMBER
O 2 ACADEMY BRIXTON
SATURDAY 26 JANUARY
LONDON THE O2
LO N D O N
SATURDAY 02 FEBRUARY
★ EXTRA SHOW ADDED DUE TO OVERWHELMING DEMAND ★
LONDON THE SSE ARENA WEMBLEY
WITH SPECI AL GUES T
BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X -RAY
TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL
SNOWPATROL.COM BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY
TUESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2018
O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
THE ALBUM SOMETHING ELSE OUT NOW
BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY
UK TOUR 2018
PLUS SPECIA L GUESTS
WEDNESDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 2018
ROUNDHOUSE - LONDON -
FRIDAY 14 SEPTEMBER
BY ARRANGEMENT WITH CAA
TUESDAY 14 AUGUST 2018
JENNYLEWIS.COM BY ARRANGEMENT WITH WME
BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY
T I C K E T S AVA I L A B L E F R O M
SEETICKETS.COM - GIGANTIC.COM - AXS.COM - SSEARENA.CO.UK - ROUNDHOUSE.ORG.UK - EVENTIM.CO.UK - TICKETMASTER.CO.UK - STARGREEN.COM
Restyle, refashion, reform. Share your perspective, share your fries and share your fears. Use your guts, use your feeds, and
use your ears.
&& redefine yourself. Surprise yourself. Show up, ’cause
this is your business. Step up, ’cause this is your hood. Pop-up, ’cause these
You decide what’s next.
are your streets.
THE POP-UP OF STYLE AND CULTURE
31 AUG â€“ 02 SEP 2018 ARENA BERLIN
HELENA HAUFF “QUALM” RELEASED 3RD AUGUST
LEON VYNEHALL “NOTHING IS STILL”
ONYX COLLECTIVE “LOWER EAST SUITE PART THREE”
ROSS FROM FRIENDS “FAMILY PORTRAIT” (BRAINFEEDER) RELEASED 27TH JULY
ACTRESS X LONDON CONTEMPORARY ORCHESTRA “LAGEOS”
MINIMAL VIOLENCE “MVX / U41A”
MODESELEKTOR “MODESELEKTION VOL. 04”
DORIAN CONCEPT “THE NATURE OF IMITATION” (BRAINFEEDER)
RELEASED 3RD AUGUST
Electronic music natural sounds ... Tue 25 Sep
Transforma & Sascha Ring (Apparat) recreate the sounds of a factory floor Sun 30 Sep
Ryoji Ikeda: music for percussion + datamatics [ver. 2.0] A show in two parts, minimalist acoustic rhythms and a digital spectacle Sat 6 Oct
Tim Hecker + Kara Lis Coverdale The electronic producer performs with a traditional Japanese Gagaku ensemble Sun 7 Oct
New Rituals: AĂŻsha Devi + Pan Daijing
Audio-visual performance pieces exploring spirituality and identity
Opening Concert Performing in a 2,000 year-old Roman amphitheatre:
Kraftwerk 3-D Nils Frahm, Moodymann
Nubya Garcia, Josey Rebelle, Debora Ipekel Main Festival:
Jon Hopkins (live) Bonobo (DJ)
Mala Paula Temple Willikens & Ivkovic DJ Stingray Volvox & Umfang dBridge Maurice Fulton The Bug
All Night Long
Hunee Nina Kraviz John Talabot Azymuth & Marcos Valle Underground Resistance pres
(In Dub: DJ Set)
Margaret Dygas The Comet Is Coming Ezra Collective Fatima MXMJOY:[Maximumjoy] rRoxymore Steve Spacek
Depth Charge (live)
Moodymann Ben UFO Helena Hauff Sonja Moonear Peggy Gou James Holden & The Animal Spirits
& 200 More
One year of Dimensions Recordings, the story so far.
DIREC001 An Introduction pt. 1
DIREC002 An Introduction pt. 2
DIREC003 An Introduction pt. 3
ft. Mim Suleiman, Alma Negra, Kerem Akdag, James Tillman
ft. Marcos Cabral, Byron The Aquarius, Lady Blacktronika, DJ Aakmael
ft. London Modular Alliance, Upwellings, Obsolete Music Technology, Mike Dehnert
DIREC004 Hands & Brains EP – London Modular Alliance
DIREC005 Kerem Akdag EP – Kerem Akdag
DIREC006 Nature Walk EP – Marcos Cabral
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S E S S I O N S NYC – LA – LDN SUNDAY 22 JULY 2018 14:00—23:00 MICK’S GARAGE, HACKNEY WICK FREE ENTRY A SUNDAY SESSION FEATURING CONVERSATION AND MUSIC WITH THE FINEST SELECTORS FROM NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES & LONDON
MISTER SATURDAY NIGHT PEANUT BUTTER WOLF RUBY SAVAGE @MLBLONDONSERIES #THE108
REGISTER AT RESIDENTADVISOR.NET FOR MORE INFO
Tirzah: Mahalia 54
Editor's Letter – p.21 Rising: Zozo – p.27
Discover – p.29
Reviews – p.65
Recommended – p.24 My Life as a Mixtape: Let's Eat Grandma – p.63
Retrospective: The Bug's London Zoo – p.75
20 Questions: All Saints' Mel Blatt – p.81
A Love Letter To: Selena – p.82
Adriatique · Amelie Lens · Apollonia · Ben Klock Black Coffee · Carl Craig & Cassy · Dixon DJ Koze · DJ Tennis · Fatima Yamaha [live] · Hot Since 82 Jamie Jones · KiNK [live] · Maceo Plex · Mind Against Motor City Drum Ensemble · Oscar Mulero Rødhåd · Solomun · Speedy J Abu Sou · Antal & Palms Trax · Anika Kunst · Baldo Bambounou · Ben UFO & Job Jobse · Dax J Detroit Swindle [live] · DJ Fra · Eclair Fifi · Fjaak [live] · Flug Fort Romeau & Pional · Hitch · Honey Dijon · ISAbella JMII · Maher Daniel · Morgan Hammer · Nightmares On Wax Pau Roca · Peggy Gou · Perel [live] · Pøli & Lorenzo Sonodab · Tijana T · Traumer [live] · Tuff City Kids [live]
10-11 AUGUST / PARC DEL fòrum / DGTL.ES
Crack Magazine Was Made Using
The sun is beaming in London and school is out. In the Church End Estate, the camera might be fixed on Nines for our July cover shoot, but you can’t help being distracted. Kids who have poured out of local schools flock towards the rapper, thrusting their limbs up for selfies and singing the hook to his hit I See You Shining back at him. Having a cover shoot gatecrashed by children is a first for us, and it’s adorable.
Teyana Taylor Gonna Love Me Trevor Powers Plaster Saint Philip Budny Revaler The Cleaners from Venus The Artichoke That Loved Me Matty Clear The Carters SUMMER Kids See Ghosts Reborn The Internet Come Over Charli XCX Girl’s Night Out slowthai Polaroid Key! & Kenny Beats Move Westside Gunn Dean Malenko Jay Rock Knock It Off Octavian Little J Hus Dark Vader
Nines’ cover story captures the idea that artists have the potential to be an inspiring force in their communities. With two chart-smashing albums, the former underdog has levelled up his success in the UK. Despite legal setbacks and the moral panic surrounding London street music, as he tells Ciaran Thapar in his first press interview, Nines is now focused on sending positive vibrations through those around him. Elsewhere, NYC jazz gang Onyx Collective embody a stylish chaos, while lo-fi Londoners Tirzah, Mica Levi and Coby Sey keep things typically low-key. We also track Pussy Riot’s next moves as the masked Russians harness the disruptive promise of art-pop – and, in their own way, strive to make the light shine on their community too.
Nines I See You Shining
Anna Tehabsim, Editor
Nines shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Jack Bridgland in London, June 2018
03 Greedo Fortnite (remix) ft. Rich The Kid
II: Diaz This month on CrackMagazine.net
Orbital Dreamland, Margate 28 July
Ata Kak Cafe Oto 2 July
O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on th i s su m m e r
Leon Vynehall Hackney Showroom 3 July Flow Festival Lauryn Hill, Fever Ray, Kamasi Washington Helsinki, Finland 10–12 August Held in the site of a historical power plant area in Helsinki, Flow Festival offers another unique dose of music, art, culture and sustainability to the European festival circuit. Booking over 150 international artists each year, this year includes the inimitable Lauryn Hill, hip-hop king himself, Kendrick, jazz magician Kamasi Washington and legendary punk Patti Smith, just to name a few. With the festival only located a short walk away from the city centre of Helsinki, and Michelin-star cuisine available on site, Flow is shaping up to be the cultural fix we never knew we needed.
Øya Festival St Vincent, Kendrick Lamar, Lykke Li Oslo, Norway 7–11 August A festival set in the baroque Viking surroundings of Middelalderparken, Øya Festival is back once more with a massive line-up. Watch Arctic Monkeys make their lounge band comeback, get up in your feelings with Lykke Li, crump to Kendrick, sway along with Jorja Smith, or start a circle pit at Converge – the possibilities are quite literally endless. Head over to Oslo and get your musical kicks while soaking up all the rich Nordic culture. It’s a win-win.
Encore Festival J Hus, Lil Pump, Lotto Boyzzz NDSM Werf, Amsterdam 25 August Encore, a day-long festival in Amsterdam’s docklands, proudly flaunts its ethos through its tagline: Culture Unites. The motto speaks to the spirit of the line-up – global artists welcoming elements from various cultures into hiphop and rap, who are appearing alongside hotly tipped artists from the flourishing Dutch hip-hop scene. Across the sprawling line-up, the likes of J Hus, Lil Pump, Jacquees and Lotto Boyzzz are sure to represent the best in culture clash – and keep audiences hungry for one more tune.
Roy Ayers The Jazz Cafe 4 July
Wiz Khalifa Roundhouse 1 July
D Double E fabric 13 July
Atlas Electronic Jamie xx, Lena Willikens, Call Super Villa Janna Ecolodge, Marrakech 30 August–3 September
Pearson Sound + Bambounou Phonox 20 July John Talabot, I-F + Cleveland E1 London 6 July Metronomy Somerset House 5 July Crack Magazine Open Air Omar Souleyman, Olof Dreijer, Willow Berlin, Germany 11 August
Oneohtrix Point Never Barbican Centre 7 July
This summer, we’re inviting some of our favourite names in contemporary electronic music to Berlin. We’ve staged a daytime takeover of ELSE, the celebrated open air venue perched on the edge of Berlin’s Elsenbrücke. The line-up features headlines slots from electrifying Syrian folk artist Omar Souleyman and Olof Dreijer, one half of groundbreaking electronic duo The Knife, who dishes up some of the most intriguing breakthrough sounds in club music through his DJ sets. Souleyman and Dreijer will be supported by ascendant Manchester DJ Willow, cosmic selector and Red Light Radio boss Orpheu The Wizard, Berlin’s own Darwin and Renate resident Alison Swing. Trust us, it’s going to be one hell of a party.
Perhaps the most appealing event on Morocco’s evergrowing festival calendar, Atlas Electronic takes place at the plush Villa Janna. An ecolodge perched on a palm grove in Marrakech, with buildings made entirely out of raw earth, it’s a quintessentially Moroccan setting. This atmosphere is reflected in the line-up too, with tastemaking DJs Job Jobse, John Talabot, Deena Abdelwahed and the Hessle Audio trio performing alongside a respectable dose of traditional music. Expect Saharan folk from Generation Taragalte, Tanzanian singer Mim Suleiman and a special four hour set from Sufi trance staples The Master Musicians of Joujouka, who famously collaborated with the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones in the 50s. What a treat in that glorious, sun-dappled setting.
Daniel Blumberg Cafe Oto 8 July
025 Jorja Smith Somerset House 13 July
DJ Sprinkles, Fred P, Ge-Ology Oval Space 14 July
Appelsap Nines, DJ Deeon, Kojo Funds Amsterdam, Netherlands 11 August Starting off as a free block jam at the turn of the millennium, Appelsap (that’s apple juice in Dutch, my friend) has evolved into one of Amsterdam’s must-attend festivals for all things hip-hop, grime, R&B and electronic. Taking place over just one day, Appelsap has continued to bring the hype to the otherwise idyllic Flevopark in the Eastern part of the city. Here you can throw elbows to Wiley’s renowned high-energy sets, get weird with slowthai’s hard grime beats, let Yussef Dayes’ tight jazz drumming inspire you, or take it slow with Biig Piig, the Londonvia-Ireland trip hop newcomer whose deadpan-yet-soulful vocals will glide you right into the night.
De La Soul Somerset House 14 July
Sziget Festival Lana Del Rey, Stormzy, Bonobo Budapest, Hungary 8–15 August To some people, the thought of camping outside for an entire week seems like fresh hell. And, to be honest, we don’t blame them – have you ever been to an early summer UK festival? However, some festivals (um, outside of the UK) actually get nice weather, and suddenly camping seems alright again. Budapest’s Sziget is one of these festivals – the kind that feels more like a remote city in the sunshine where you can really immerse yourself. The week-long event was founded after the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 80s as a means to provide arts programming for students, and this progressive ethos has continued to inform the festival, with this year’s bill inviting some of the most forward-thinking artists around: Kendrick Lamar, Gorillaz, Lykke Li, Tommy Ca$h, Bonobo, Rhye and many more will make an appearance. DGTL Barcelona Honey Dijon, KiNK, Ben Klock Parc Del Forum, Barcelona 10–11 August
Ortigia Sound System Kamaal Williams, Bad Gyal, Omar Souleyman Various venues, Syracuse 25–29 July Ortigia sits on the tip of Sicily’s Southern city of Syracuse. A small and compact island which embellishes the stretch of coastline, it acts as the historical heart of the city, having been built into a fortress by its Greek inhabitants in early 4th Century BC. Its labyrinthine maze of winding Sicilian pathways are soon to cram in a weekend of parties for the ambitious Ortigia Sound System. Dishing out tunes amongst the arancini are James Holden and the Animal Spirits, London jazz upstart Kamaal Williams, dizzying Syrian folk maestro Omar Souleyman, Barcelona’s dancehall breakthrough Bad Gyal and many more – a selection of contemporary tastemakers in a slice of old island life.
Sink The Pink O2 Academy Brixton 7 July
You might recognise Parc Del Forum’s shorefront sprawl from Primavera Sound’s eclectic bills. But once all of that festival’s excited punters are cleared out, the location makes room for DGTL Barcelona – the Spanish electronic music festival that is now in its fourth edition. With four stages spread across the minimal site, DGTL showcases the best of both established and emerging talent. The focus is mainly on techno, with sets spanning vibrant, breakneck beats to more pensive, atmospheric soundscapes. Ioining the party this year are Dixon, DJ Tennis, Adriatique, FJAAK and Black Coffee, each set to unleash the stomp on Parc Del Forum’s modernist tarmac playground.
DJ Boring + HAAi Phonox 21 July
Houghton Andrew Weatherall, Nathan Fake, Ben UFO Houghton Hall, Norfolk 9–12 August When tickets for this year’s Houghton festival were released in June, they sold out in one week. So what’s the appeal? Last year’s inaugural edition (also a sell-out) triggered a tsunami of rave reviews and loved up content to sweep across our feeds. Praise fell on its intimate atmosphere, decent sound systems and leafy, secluded surroundings which were lovingly decorated. And it’s a big line-up once again, with usual suspects Andrew Weatherall, Ben UFO, Coleen 'Cosmo' Murphy, Margaret Dygas, Midland, The Mole and Vladimir Ivkovic, alongside live sets from Norfolk’s own Nathan Fake, New York’s finest Midnight Magic and Beirut’s Mashrou’ Leila – and of course the master of ceremonies himself, former fabric resident turned festival curator Craig Richards.
Dimensions Festival Sons of Kemet, Peggy Gou, Fatima Pula, Croatia 29 August–2 September If Outlook was your go-to Croatian festival at the peak of your unhinged sesh days at uni (it’s cool, we’ve all been there) then Dimensions is the Croatian festival for those of you seeking The Thinking Man’s sesh. Located on the crystalline shores of the Adriatic sea in Pula, Dimensions is offering another diverse line-up across jazz, house, disco, techno and much more. Shakedown to freak-out jazz kings Sons of Kemet, neo-classicist Nils Frahm, deep disco producer John Talabot, master of start-stop glitches Jon Hopkins and much more. At this five-day affair, you can indulge in boat parties, beach performances, sunset swims and straight-up club vibes from the stages dotted throughout the site. Whatever you choose to do, it’s gonna be lit.
Kelis The Jazz Cafe 27 July
Raye Troxy 27 July
Years & Years Roundhouse 10 July
Rising: Zozo Sounds Like: Cathartic club music with an esoteric twist Soundtrack For: Humid summer nights File Next To: Alessandro Adriani / Vladimir Ivkovic Our Favourite Mix: Zozo’s Red Light Radio mix
Words: Gunseli Yalcinkaya Photography: Irwin Barbé
Where to Find Her: soundcloud.com/zozo-on-soundcloud
“Do the people in England still party like they used to in the Summer of Love?” Nigar Zeynep, the Istanbulbased DJ better known as Zozo, asks me over email. The 34-yearold, who had only just entered her teenage years during the “heydays of Istanbul’s nightlife” in the late 90s, is fascinated by the positive repercussions of rave culture.
Zeynep’s music can vary from dark, crunchy techno to Turkish psych, and her genre-spanning taste has earned her bookings at international venues such as Berlin’s Panorama Bar and Helsinki’s Kaiku. But since the Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013 – which saw approximately three and a half million people protest against President Erdoğan – Istanbul has been occupied by a climate of fear and conservatism. Following a 2016 coup, which led to the arrest of over 150 journalists as well as corruption and bombings in the country’s southeast Kurdish region, many of the city’s musicians and promoters have had to adjust to a very different political landscape. “With a conservative government ruling the country for 16 years, there has been an erosion of values and serious change in culture,” explains
Zeynep. “It has been done intentionally and we are living witnesses to that.” The closing of cultural institutions across Turkey is one of the many issues linked to President Erdoğan's government. “It used to be freer, greener and happier,” she says. “Today, 90 percent of the bars, clubs or concert halls are gone – either turned into shopping malls, hotels or residential buildings.” Just like the UK in the second Summer of Love, however, political unrest seems to have bought the underground community closer. Venues like Suma Beach and Wake Up Call, which sprung up in response to Turkey’s right wing government, have become symbols of progressiveness and tolerance – pockets of dissent in an ever-growing landscape of intolerance. “Suma Beach is really important for me because it opened six years ago, after the Gezi Park protests. Everything magically started there, right after another magical resistance,” she recalls.
Nevertheless, the homogenisation of the city’s cultural venues is still a concern for Zeynep, who sees internet culture and globalisation as contributing factors to Istanbul's diminishing musical identity. "It has made the city lose its edge," she argues. "In the 90s, dance music was new and unregulated, whereas now it has turned into an industry," she says. "Obviously everybody including artists, promoters, and governments want to have their share of it." But Zeynep is enthusiastic about the potential of dance music to bring communities together. Soon to embark on the summer festival circuit, she is dividing her time between live gigs and opening a new venue in Berlin. “Culture is something people create with consistency, patience and resistance," she says. “Ultimately, it’s just about getting lost in the music and sharing new discoveries and emotions with people.” Zozo appears at Dekmantel, Amsterdam, 1 - 5 August
Zeynep has long been a household name in her native Turkey and she plays regularly at local venues like Suma Beach and Gizli Bahçe. In 2010, Zeynep began curating the music in a bar-meets-gallery called Hush and now she’s also the music director of a venue named Luzia Istanbul in the city’s Besiktas region.
GROUP LISTENING MON 9 JULY ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH
ODETTA HARTMAN MON 24 SEPT THE ISLINGTON
GIANT PARTY WED 24 OCT THE LEXINGTON
CAR SEAT HEADREST THURS 8 NOV O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON
BEDOUINE MON 9 JULY THE LEXINGTON
HALF WAIF MON 24 SEPT SEBRIGHT ARMS
SOLOMON GREY THURS 25 OCT UNION CHAPEL
PARQUET COURTS MON 12 NOV ROUNDHOUSE
TIRZAH WED 11D OJULY UT ICA SOL
MITSKI WED 26 SEPT O2 SHEPHERDâ€™S BUSH EMPIRE
BC CAMPLIGHT THURS 25 OCT OMEARA
LAURA JEAN TUES 13 NOV SEBRIGHT ARMS
LORD HURON FRI 26 OCT ROUNDHOUSE
FLASHER TUES 13 NOV THE LEXINGTON
GOLD STAR MON 29 OCT THE WAITING ROOM
KELLY LEE OWENS THURS 15 NOV VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
SERPENTWITHFEET THURS 30 OCT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
LUKE HOWARD TUES 20 NOV BUSH HALL
LUCY DACUS WED 31 OCT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
THE WAVE PICTURES THURS 22 NOV KOKO
THE KVB WED 31 OCT CORSICA STUDIOS
SUBURBAN LIVING FRI 23 NOV SEBRIGHT ARMS
GOAT GIRL FRI 2 NOV KOKO
HOOKWORMS SAT 24 NOV O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
KITT PHILIPPA FRI 13 JULY THE ISLINGTON LEIF ERIKSON FRI 27 JULY ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH KING TUFF THURS 16 AUG MOTH CLUB ALEX NAPPING MON 20 AUG SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS EZRA FURMAN TUES 4 SEPT O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON (SANDY) ALEX G WED 5 SEPT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL KEDR LIVANSKIY WED 19D OSEPT UT SOL THE PICKLE FACTORY JOSE GONZALEZ THURS 20 SEPT ROYAL ALBERT HALL
JIM GHEDI THURS 27 SEPT ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH SKINNY PELEMBE THURS 27 SEPT CORSICA STUDIOS IDER TUES 2 OCT VILLAGE UNDERGROUND WASUREMONO THURS 4 OCT THE WAITING ROOM MARTIN KOHLSTEDT MON 8 OCT ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH NEGATIVE GEMINI FRI 12 OCT THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS GWENNO THURS 18 OCT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL RINA SAWAYAMA FRI 19 OCT HEAVEN
INSECURE MEN TUES 6 NOV QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL CURTIS HARDING THURS 8 NOV KOKO PARALLELLINESPROMOTIONS.COM
Even if you think you haven’t heard Shay Lia before, there’s a very good possibility you have. She was the soulful genius behind the vocals on Leave Me Alone, arguably the biggest dancefloor shaker on Kaytranada’s debut record, 99.9%. The Montreal-via-Djibouti singer slows it down in her own music. From the slick, sultry production of Cherish, to the unique melodic progressions of the Badbadnotgood and Kaytranada-produced Blue, Shay Lia is illuminating Canada’s future R&B scene. File Next To: Kelela / Charlotte Day Wilson Our Favourite Tune: Cherish Where To Find Her: soundcloud.com/shay-lia
File Next To: Hello Skinny / Kondi Band Our Favourite Tune: Caldera Where To Find Them: ariwo.bandcamp.com
Trevor Powers When Youth Lagoon hung up the proverbial towel after three albums in 2016, we weren’t sure what was next for the orchestrator behind the project, Trevor Powers. Then, in early May, Powers released Playwright, the debut single under his own moniker. The song is characterised by its high-pitched, almostlanguid vocals, which carry the scattered synth-harps and bursts of abrasive bass into an otherworldly territory. Where Youth Lagoon was confined by the at-times mawkish parameters of indie, Trevor Powers takes all of his tools and creates a whole new and expansive dimension for himself. File Next To: Westerman / Lets Eat Grandma Our Favourite Tune: Playwright Where To Find Him: soundcloud.com/ trevorpowersss
Reggaeton is finally having the moment it deserves. Gone are the days where those thumping dembow beats were confined to NYC's bodegas. Now, reggaeton is blasting in the club, your mate’s car, NTS mixes, the local fair, your neighbour’s BBQ – you name it. Specifically leading the way for the waist-winding genre are women, with artists like London-via-Colombia newcomer Lao Ra showing everyone how it’s done. With musical nods to traditional Cumbia and razor-sharp lyrics about body positivity, casual sex and daddy issues – all speak-sung in Spanglish, of course – she’s shaping up to be the Latinx feminist icon we all need. File Next To: Bad Gyal / Kali Mutsa Our Favourite Tune: Me Gusta Where To Find Her: soundcloud.com/laoramusica
The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY is your new favourite deep soul project. Led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Frazer, a member of Indiana neo-funk band Durand Jones & The Indications, Frazer captures the laidback Sunday side to soul. The sparse, raspy vocals, blues-laden grooves and patient, galloping drums of debut single My God Has A Telephone and the comforting chord progression of B-side Live On have a special, timeless quality to them, transporting you to eras you never even knew you felt nostalgia for. Somehow, his music already feels like home. File Next To: Whitney / Charles Bradley Our Favourite Tune: My God Has a Telephone Where To Find Him: soundcloud.com/plaid-room
Ariwo are here to prove that ancestral music can mix seamlessly with electronica. With a name that translates into "noise" in Yoruba, the experimental four-piece features members from all different cultural backgrounds. Treading the bridge between ceremonial Cuban and Iranian music, it's a sonic journey through the diaspora, challenging all the stereotyped perceptions of ancestral music in today's society, one buoyant, slow-burning banger at a time.
Rise and Shine Nines is a superstar in his area. While the moral panic around London street music intensifies, the chart-busting rapper spreads light in the community that shaped him.
“This is all about building up my community”
“Let’s walk to the dry cleaners,” Nines suggests after I arrive at his Church End address in Harlesden, north-west London. Meeting for his first ever press interview, we set off from his living room, which stores little more than two sofas, a TV and a used ashtray. “This is just where I chill,” he says, leading me out through the front door. Outside, children scatter across pavements and high streets, travelling home from school on a hot June afternoon. “My mum doesn’t live around here no more but it’s good to have a place to visit.”
Words: Ciaran Thapar Photography: Jack Bridgland
Despite being one of the biggest rappers in the UK, at first Nines seems surprisingly shy and reserved. As we make our way across the grounds of the estate, he points to a climbing frame, from which two young boys wave excitedly at him. “I’m gonna rebuild it myself, because no one else will.” He becomes animated suddenly, clapping his hands together, channelling the power of speaking hope into existence. “That’s what this is all about. Building up my community.”
The local businesses, cafés and shops on nearby Church Road paint a portrait of suburban-yet-neglected London; of tight-knit, multicultural co-subsistence. In the outer-city, low building density means on sunny days the blue sky is clearly visible – as it is this afternoon, like it is in the iconic video for Nines’ 2015 hit Can’t Blame Me, which currently sits on over 13 million YouTube views. When we arrive at the dry cleaners, Nines strolls behind the
counter to change his clothes. The owner, an ageing South Asian man sat sewing in the corner, holding the thread between his teeth, continues without a stir. “This place is my wardrobe, and that guy is family,” Nines tells me as we leave, the grin on his face underlining the sparkle in his eye. Within minutes he greets two mothers walking their children home from school. “She’s your youngest fan!” one says to him. So he bends down to high-five her daughter, who can’t be older than five. “I see you shining,” he says softly. Recognising his words as the hook to I See You Shining, the lead single from his recent sophomore album Crop Circle, I ask about the expression. “It’s been my catchphrase, it uplifts people,” he replies. “I see you shining!” he calls again, pointing to a group of teenagers in school uniform stood outside a chicken shop. “This place does slushies, you want one?” he asks, and obviously I nod. Nines seems positively carefree today, but this wasn’t the case five years ago. After being charged with the intention to supply cannabis in early 2013, Nines was sat in HMP Wormwood Scrubs, a crumbling Victorian-era prison in west London, when his Fire In The Booth freestyle became his first video to reach one million views on YouTube. “I wasn’t letting that happen again,” he tells me, shaking his head, reliving the frustration of his stifled rise. “I was safe, I had my people in there, but it was shit.”
“My mum was onto me to do something positive with my life, so I told her I’d become a rapper”
Until then, Nines had been firmly underground; a respected name amongst NW postcodes and rap heads, unrefined but aspirational as a troubled wordsmith attempting to transcend the trappings of his upbringing. “I never planned to do music. I went to college for a couple of weeks but that wasn’t really for me. Then my mum was onto me to do something positive with my life, so I told her I’d become a rapper.” He grins, recognising the fact that pursuing a career in road rap probably wasn’t quite what she meant. “I’m still the same guy as before, it doesn’t matter how big I get,” he adds. But if he’s so humble, why brag so much in his music? “That’s marketing,” he says matter-of-factly, shrugging his shoulders as we head back to the estate. The buzz of Church Road falls into the distance as we greet a group of his close friends. They are perched in the front garden of the same house that Nines’ character steals a birdcage from in the short film that came out with the release of Crop Circle. Written and directed by Nines himself, the film features musical snippets from the album – including its noteworthy tracks Oh My with SL, Yung Fume and Tiggs Da Author, nighttime reflection Liz, and braggadocio-filled Trapstar – while telling a comical short story that pivots around life on Church End Estate. It pokes fun at themes usually denounced as unsavoury in urban social commentary: absent fathers, drug-money debts and the tensions of claustrophobic multiculturalism. I ask why he made the film. “It was something new, I always need to feel like I’m moving forward. Next we’re filming a series.” His debut mixtape From Church Road To Hollywood came out in 2012, featuring proud street anthems My Hood, AJ’d Out and CR, all with conceptual videos that present him as a man of the people. He can be seen distributing turkeys from the back of a van at Christmas in the former, buying his “young bucks” clothing from JD
Sports in the second, and giving out embezzled teeth grills to them in the latter. “I was doing stuff like that off camera way before the videos,” he says, deflecting any potential virtuesignalling. “But when the music started taking off I thought, 'why not?'” The foundation of Nines’ steady career trajectory was built upon successive bodies of work: Loyal To The Soil in 2014, One Foot In a year later, and after being signed by XL Recordings, his breakthrough debut album One Foot Out in 2017, which reached number 2 in the UK iTunes album chart. Each level-up in his rise, and the increased visibility of his personal brand, have been the result of converting single releases – Money On My Mind, Yay, Trapper Of The Year – into gripping music videos. Lyrically, Nines’ playful similes have made light work of heavy topics, such as using music as a vehicle of social mobility or to explore the grittier depths of his past. His verses about the contradictions of experiencing fame alongside the lagging temptation of making big money from illicit-means, despite now having a viable career as a musician, are as vivid and honest as you will find. “I just made six-figures off of streams/ Still dealing with the fiends ‘cause I got bigger dreams,” he raps in Crop Circle’s introductory track, Pictures In A Frame. His craft is a coping mechanism for what appears to be a transitional period of his life. The release of Crop Circle came after over a year of radio silence. It included a period of time in which legal restrictions prevented Nines from playing in the UK, despite having played Glastonbury in 2017 and toured elsewhere, including South Korea. This sort of heavy policing of the intersection between alleged criminality and musical expression is a type of conservatism that the London music scene, especially music made by black and working class artists, has long been caught in a treacherous grapple with. Fellow road rapper Giggs’ shows were aborted in 2010 after police warned about danger, and J Hus was once banned from performing gigs in London for fear of public disturbance. In the weeks leading up to our interview, the situation reached
“I’ve seen London getting worse for years. They’re not doing anything for the kids. It’s not ideal, but we’ve all grown up looking up to trappers”
new levels of intensity when the current moral panic surrounding the rise of drill music and its accused connection to youth violence prompted a ban upon Ladbroke Grove crew 1011 (in an unprecedented court order) and the removal of over thirty drill videos from YouTube. “It was frustrating,” Nines says, reflecting on his state of mind last year, looking down at the floor and shuffling his feet. “I was playing FIFA, seeing my peers’ music on the game, and my bredrins were like, ‘Where’s your music?’ Then I’d hear about other people performing at festivals, people who look up to me, while I was sat at home. I almost gave up, but that’s why I had to make Crop Circle: to move things on, to keep growing,” he continues. “I’m still new to performing, playing to audiences who might not know my music, having to win them over. Poland was where we really learned how to rock a crowd,” he says, as a couple of his friends laugh, reminiscing on their tour antics. In any case, there are promising signs that Nines is moving on from the restrictions in his rear-view. His upcoming show in London’s Kentish Town Forum sold out within five minutes, prompting a second date to be added.
Before I leave, we talk more explicitly about Nines’ connection to the local community. It not only seems so important to his music, but it has also defined my experience with him. An endless stream of greetings from
residents of the estate, teenagers and elders alike, punctuates our afternoon together. “Church End has a rep but there isn’t trouble here unless someone from outside brings it in,” one of Nines’ friends says, leaning against the windowsill, receiving mutters of agreement from the group. “There is nowhere like this place in London. Everywhere else is madness right now, but we even get people from other places coming back here again and again because they like the old school, laidback feel to it, you know? There is respect. If someone steps out of line, they get a talking to or told to leave.” This frontline perspective certainly reshapes the perhaps unfair impression many have always had of this part of the city. When I told my father, a GP in suburban west London, that I was heading to Church End to interview one of my favourite rappers, he recalled how his colleagues would have to be accompanied on medical visits there in the 90s, for fear of getting robbed. I tell Nines about my experiences as a youth worker in south London, where territorial youth violence is soaring. Nines responds: “I speak to the young bucks here. I chill with them, and sometimes I might just listen, but other times I’ll have words. Don’t get me wrong, they get into trouble. But they’ve got us to listen to. And it was the same for us, we had the elders.” His friends all nod in agreement. “I’m not surprised because I’ve seen
London getting worse for years. They’re not doing anything for the kids. And it’s not ideal, but up here we’ve all grown up looking up to trappers. My young bucks, they want 50 Gs to buy a car or a chain. But in other places, like in south [London], youngers don’t just want the money, they want a gun, and they can’t walk anywhere without looking over their shoulder,” he adds, turning his head left-and-right, acting out his words. We make our way back to the flat, spotting the climbing frame we passed earlier. “You got a ball? You better be there when I get back so we can play sixty seconds!” Nines yells to the boys on it. Before I leave the estate, I ask if there is anything else he would like to say. “Just that if my people, my community, if they’re not progressing, I’m not progressing. That’s never changed.” Crop Circle is out now via XL Recordings
A nebulous group of 21st century jazz misfits, Onyx Collective are letting NYCâ€™s rule-breakers in through a revolving door
“We want to reflect the chaos of old school New York”
Words: Mike Vinti Photography: Eleanor Hardwick
That’s precisely the way they like it. On stage, Onyx Collective perform in masks custom-made by artist Maxwell Deter, constructed from what appears to be plastic bags and other found materials. Brightly painted and elaborately tasselled, the headpieces obscure Onyx’s identity, cloaking the members playing each show. “People can be guests, or they can be in the forefront,” explains Isaiah Barr, the group’s saxophonist, sometime-singer and strategist. He’s responding slightly exasperatedly as I search hopelessly for a comprehensive rundown of the Onyx Collective line-up. “The same guy who can be a guest at one show could be at the front of the stage at another, [there’s a] guy who isn’t even here today,” he says, alluding to the absence of the some of the group’s core members. We’re sat in a pub in Islington on the hottest day of the year so far. Barr’s thick New York accent strays between rattled and unfazed, and his long hair bounces animatedly under his oversized hat. He’s joined by drummer Austin Williamson and bassist Daryl Johns, his bandmates for this strippedback presentation of Onyx Collective, who are in the middle of a whirlwind UK tour with jazz titan Kamasi Washington. Like Washington – as well as his collaborators Thundercat and Robert Glasper and, over in the UK, artists such as Shabaka Hutchings, Kamaal Williams and Moses Boyd – Onyx Collective are changing the perception of jazz among young listeners. Once unfairly maligned as a middle-aged pursuit, the sound of contemporary jazz channels the raw energy of political protest back into the genre. This wave of artists weave threads of hip-hop and UK dance into their styles and – in the case of Onyx Collective – push the limits of its avantgarde potential. Following tonight’s gig at The Roundhouse, an audience gathers for an intimate afterparty at Camden’s Lock Tavern, where Moses Boyd and fellow London musicians are joined by Washington and Onyx Collective members for spontaneous bouts of late night jamming – and the crowd are remarkably fresh-faced.
Onyx Collective captured a youthful spirit with their debut LP Lower East Suite Part Three – which followed two EPs to complete their Lower East Suite trilogy. Their wildest release so far, Part Three is a mix of atmospheric, experimental and occasionally frenzied jazz. “It came about as a result of trying to kind of put an envelope and a package around the weird kind of unorthodox stuff we do in New York,” Barr says of the suite. “So, we started to create a roadmap around downtown of where we were playing through these recordings... It was like ‘OK, we have two parts of it done, let's write, compose some songs that have a dramatic effect and create an ambience or an environment that’s reflective of the whole neighbourhood, the whole process.’” Barr and Williamson were born and raised in New York, and the relentless chug of the city informs everything Onyx Collective does. “New York is hectic, and we want to reflect that hecticness and that chaos of oldschool New York,” explains Barr. That chaos is most evident in the way Onyx organise themselves, often holding unannounced shows throughout the city’s Lower East Side, performing in art galleries, barbershops and anywhere else that will have them. It’s an approach that has made the collective an integral part of the fabric of New York’s music and arts scene. Along the way, they’ve collaborated with the likes of Dev Hynes and Princess Nokia (who Barr grew up with – she’s regularly spotted wearing the group’s shirts) to acclaimed artists like Lucien Smith, who recently opened an exhibition with hypebeast king Virgil Abloh. In need of an act to soundtrack the opening, the pair immediately asked Onyx Collective.
film, then it’s one made up of a series of vignettes, with each fragment of the group’s activity coming together to create a bigger picture. It’s how their music works, too. The majority of the tracks on Lower East Suite Part Three are named after streets or spots in the neighbourhood; they’re composed or performed cinematically, centred around a mood or image rather than melody or rhythm. The flurry of activity around Onyx Collective can make your head spin. But that chaos has been deliberately maintained – Onyx Collective are aiming to disorient. They clearly recognise that it lends the group a vital sense of unpredictability, something that’s dying out in today’s algorithmdictated music industry. “There are certain things in life that should be kept mysterious and don’t need to be revealed immediately to the media, the press, to anyone,” Barr insists. “The more mystery, the more you have to look forward to. If I just told you everything, would it be exciting?” Lower East Suite Part Three is out now via Big Dada
Thanks to the nebulous nature of Onyx Collective, their sound can change considerably. On record so far, they’ve stuck to a mostly improvised, descriptive form of jazz that paints surreal pictures of their home city. Yet live they often revert to blasts of funk, salsa and even hardcore punk. At one point in our interview, they refuse to answer any more questions until I listen to a pair of trap songs they crafted in their tour van featuring their tour manager on vocals. “People do cameos, that’s how to think about it – they’re part of the film,” Williamson explains, pausing to sip his pint. “Some parts of it might be three or four people or six people, so it’s always changing – but always to cater to the music.” If Onyx Collective is a
Onyx Collective are shapeshifters. Like the often-improvisational spirit of their music, the band’s line-up changes form with every project. As a sprawling New York City-based jazz collective, Onyx are artists, dancers, musicians, producers and singers, as well as a vast universe of collaborators. It’s nearimpossible to define who is and who isn’t part of it.
Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Jacob Wise â€˘ www.jacobwise.co.uk â€˘ instagram.com/jacob.j.wise Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Jacob Wise - jacobwise.co.uk
Words: Leah Mandel Photography: Teddy Fitzhugh
Nadya Tolokonnikova and Nikita Chaika have seized radical pop music for its political power
It’s June and Tolokonnikova is in Paris, speaking to me over the phone along with musical and performance partner Nikita Chaika, gearing up for one of British star Charli XCX’s Pop 2 performances that night. “My sex is unconquered/ Not the church, not the state/ My own fate,” Tolokonnikova recites. “That’s super cool, to bring political, social, human rights, feminist, and queer agenda, into popular music and popular culture.” This is one of Pussy Riot’s main objectives: to infiltrate pop culture with activism. Tolokonnikova doesn’t consider herself a musician – she’s a conceptual artist – but believes music is a powerful medium. She works with Dave Sitek and cites Death Grips, Ho99o9 and Kim Gordon in conversation. “I like the idea of a song,” she tells me. “It’s something very concentrated and laconic. You have to be clear and short. That’s a good challenge.” And Tolokonnikova has always loved a good challenge. Now a reserved, focused, and good-humored 28-yearold, she was born in Russia’s most polluted city, Siberia’s Norilsk, dreamt of becoming an artist, and left home at 16 to study philosophy at Moscow State University. In Moscow, Tolokonnikova became involved with an activist group called Voila, which in 2011 morphed into Pussy Riot, the “fake punk band” that shook the world. Various members of the collective have been arrested and jailed, including Tolokonnikova – who spent almost two years enduring horrendous treatment in Russian prison, but was undeterred in her fight for justice upon her release. Technically, Pussy Riot is an art and protest collective of mostly anonymous members. Musically, and performancewise, right now the band’s core is Tolokonnikova and Chaika, who is gangly and sweet and doesn’t speak much English. The two met about a year ago, when Tolokonnikova was first considering doing live shows – something relatively new for Pussy Riot – and needed a DJ. At first, Chaika worked only on interludes and effects, but after some time he and Tolokonnikova ended up making songs together. Harsh, freaky, political songs, always accompanied by an in-your-face visual. Though Pussy Riot’s sound was “punk” at the outset, Tolokonnikova thinks of the genre conceptually – it’s an ideology, a state of mind, a method of surprise. Agree or disagree, Tolokonnikova believes that for music
Right now, Pussy Riot is all about what they call “digital punk.” They cite influences like the light-performance artist Ryoji Ikeda and experimental electronic musician Alva Noto. As Chaika explains (Tolokonnikova translating real-time), it’s “based on provoking the audience with new mediums, messages, and approaches. We are trying to provoke this horrific effect on the audience.” This is evident in Elections a cutting track about illegitimate imprisonment, which they made as a kind of PSA in advance of Russia’s March special presidential election. The song is a brooding, eerie take on trap, a sound Tolokonnikova and Chaika are currently moved by. They say they use the genre’s gutsy, visceral nature to talk about the things that matter to them: “elections, power struggle, resistance, solidarity.” Pussy Riot have always focused on the power of the image (you know the masks), and this new work is no different. The video for Elections is gritty, filmed under a highway junction at SXSW. Transposed on the dark shots are drawings by current Russian political prisoner Oleg Navalny, who’s serving three and a half years for being the brother of Putin critic Alexey Navalny. Alexey runs an anti-Kremlin campaign called Foundation Against Corruption, whose goal is to reveal how much Russian oligarchs steal from the Russian people. On tour, they show the video for Chaika’s remix of Pussy Riot’s track Make America Great Again, 2016’s unheeded Trump warning. It’s black-and-white and interspersed with icons and barcodes that link to environmental websites, to slogans like “inclusivity is what we need”, and to the Pussy Riot-founded media outlet Mediazona. Tolokonnikova once said in an interview with Pitchfork’s Jenn Pelly, "What pop culture could teach you, as a political activist, is how to be understood by people outside of your community.” And that’s exactly what Pussy Riot is doing with this particular pop medium – bringing their history, activism, and humanity to a sphere that might not otherwise care. “It’s not just about music for me,” Tolokonnikova says, as I try to grasp what it is specifically about the form that really works for Pussy Riot. “It’s about creating pieces of art that have a chance to shift the borders, to radically melt genres and politics that are not supposed to be put together.” Existing on the border between cultural elements is a key theme of Pussy
Riot’s work; thinking of music as simply a medium for the greater agenda helps Tolokonnikova and Chaika push boundaries and examine possibilities. It’s kind of radical, for instance, that when Pussy Riot was in Los Angeles this year, they linked up with PC Music producer Danny L Harle. In the studio, he got Tolokonnikova to freestyle for the first time. “I am not a real rapper,” she says. “I am a nerd and usually I am sitting in the corner trying to make perfect lyrics.” But Harle encouraged her, and what arrived was a flow about morning exercises in prison. “At six in the morning you have to wake up,” she remembers. “It’s really sad to go to the square in the middle of the prison. It’s really cold, guards are grinning at you, and you have to do these exercises or you will be punished.” Home, as well as her experience of prison, remains a deep well of inspiration. Pussy Riot’s music is better and more effective, anyway, when it’s Russian-language and Russia-centric. “When I’m in Russia,” Tolokonnikova tells me, “I feel connected, grounded. Most of us, anti-Kremlin activists, believe that we’re patriots of Russia – not Putin and his fellow oligarchs, who steal everything they can steal and destroy the rest.” She loves Russian philosophy, language, culture, history, its dissident movements, its hunger strikes, riots, how Gulag prisoners made their voices heard. “It’s fantastic and powerful that a human being always will find a way to create an alternative autonomous culture, even a system of knowledge,” she says. It’s this tradition of resistance that Pussy Riot is following, even when it’s with a song like 2016’s clubby Straight Outta Vagina or Pimples, a new body confidence-themed track they made with provocative Texas singer Dorian Electra. “Women got our rights not that long ago,” Tolokonnikova says, when we’re talking about how sex is political. She thinks that, in Russia, women’s sexuality might be on the brink of being embraced. “It takes a lot of time to shift cultural codes,” she explains. Her sexual education, she tells me, involved a priest telling her at 13 that “a vagina has memory, so my kids will look like the first man who I was with.”
pesnya, traditional folk ballads written by inmates that focus on injustice – for a reason. “They belong to everybody,” says Tolokonnikova, “And they have proven to be an amazing tool of empowerment: a good old song that’s making fun of prison guards can lift your spirit in a sad moment and, thus, literally save your life. Spirit is pretty much the only one thing that keeps you alive in Russian prison. Building an alternative universe in prisoners’ folklore helps to keep valuing and respecting yourself as a human being, even if you’re living in a fucking nightmarish hell.”
to be truly punk in 2018, it shouldn’t resemble the four-chord riots it originated from. (“We are dead if we are using the language that was given to us,” she stated in her talk with Marina Abramovic this past May.)
Pussy Riot’s take on the prison chanson is called КОШМАРЫ / NIGHTMARES, a “creepy and nightmarish tale”, Chaika says, about endless incarceration. Paired with chilling, flashing animations by Moscow artist 9cyka, КОШМАРЫ / NIGHTMARES is decidedly not like the gentle, melancholy, sometimes humorous, acoustic sound of tradition. Instead, Tolokonnikova and Chaika wield the pummeling, strobe-y hardcore club style of gabber, turning the ghostly old song into something monstrous. And for the first time, it’s Chaika’s voice on a Pussy Riot track, because, as Tolokonnikova says, “Anybody – man, woman, a person who can not identify with any binary gender – can be Pussy Riot.” It’s a prime example of how Pussy Riot is coming at the world right now: armed with loud, trappy production and flashing lights, on an anarchic pop mission to wake people up. КОШМАРЫ / NIGHTMARES and PONG! are out 18 July, self-released by Pussy Riot
Regressive ideas like these aren’t just confined to Russia, of course – that’s why we all need to talk about it, get songs stuck in our heads about it. We need to think about Putin and Trump and the watering down of democracy, surveillance, corruption, the prison industrial complex. It all affects us all. Music, with its history of art and protest and humanising faculties, might be the best for the job at hand. Tolokonnikova and Chaika are mesmerised by Russian prison chansons – or blatnaya
“You can clearly see an anarchist discourse,” says Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. She’s speaking of My Sex, her collaboration with Brooke Candy, and she’s audibly pleased with how receptive the subversive LA artist was to merging pop music and politics.
“Most of us anti-Kremlin activists believe that we’re patriots of Russia – not Putin and his fellow oligarchs, who steal everything they can steal and destroy the rest”
M o t
A trio of lo-fi Londoners making sluggish pop, Tirzah, Micachu and Coby Sey create a strange intimacy for Tirzahâ€™s new album
i o n
The sun is starting to stoop in the evening sky, and on the top floor of London’s Metropolis Studios, Tirzah is shielding her eyes from the beams streaming through the window. Micachu – the moniker of Mica Levi, who also happens to be Tirzah’s omnipresent best friend – offers her a pair of sunglasses as the night’s heat beats off her back. Sitting opposite each other – warm and affable, if a little nervous – neither of the musicians seem particularly keen on the spotlight. Having released a number of albums with her experimental pop project Micachu & The Shapes, Levi first teamed up with Tirzah to create lo-fi dance music. Appearing on the south London scene as a collaborative duo – Tirzah as the vocalist and songwriter; Micachu on production – they released two EPs together, 2013’s No Romance and I’m Not Dancing, which were teeming with strange, shy electro-pop. Things are a little different now. Four years down the line, Tirzah has been in the shadows, working on occasional features and bootleg tracks with other artists, as well as a slew of other low-key projects. Meanwhile, Micachu has made the impressive ascent from Peckham nightclubs to the BAFTAs and the Academy Awards, gaining praise for her work scoring celebrated films like Under the Skin and Jackie, yet refusing to give in to the lure of celebrity status. These days, she wears hiking boots to award ceremonies while her peers wear dress shoes and stilettos.
After a long radio silence, one that left fans of her work contemplating if the two might ever make music again, Tirzah is poised and ready for her return. This time, she’s armed with the Micachu-produced Devotion, her debut LP of lustful, hardy and heartswelling love songs.
and there were some songs I was still in love with.” Tirzah chimes in – it’s something, quite endearingly, the two do a lot of. “We were trying to take a block of one flavour and make it work [next to] another,” she says. “It took a lot of editing – backwards and forwards.”
“I’ve had a day job, and Meeks [Micachu] was busy in the thick of doing what she was doing,” Tirzah tells me, when I ask why her debut album has taken so long. “It came about naturally when it did. I just didn’t feel the pressure,” she smiles a little, her slightly gappy two front teeth appearing from between her lips. “There was no rush.”
The club-friendly production Micachu once laid under Tirzah’s vocals has, for the most part, been retired. Compared to cuts from her two past EPs, the tempo has dropped, but her subject matters – relationships, love, sadness and loyalty – are still the same. We touch on the idea of how the live show was shaped by fans’ love of those dance-led numbers, a perception of her music she might not have known she had.
Arriving four years after the No Romance EP dropped, Devotion is a languid and unhurried lesson in lovestruck R&B. It’s unambiguous, stripping back the bullshit to pierce the heart of Tirzah’s take on desire and the complexities of relationships. But it’s still burrowed beneath Micachu’s perceptive and unpredictable production. From the pared back beauty of the lead single Gladly to the grungy, endless layers of vocoder vocals and distorted strings on Guilty, a track on which Tirzah repeatedly asks “Did I let you take the blame when I should’ve been faithful?”, it’s a rare debut that’s affecting, melancholic and loyal to its singular sound. “There was a lot of stuff,” Micachu admits, reaching back into her brain to when the first song for Devotion was written. “We’d done a lot over the years
Words: Douglas Greenwood Photography: Yis Kid
“My album came about naturally when it did. I just didn’t feel the pressure”
Micachu wants to ask a question. “Does [performing live] make more sense, now you’ve got the album?” Tirzah nods in response: “All the songs are clearer now.” A few minutes before Tirzah and Micachu head back downstairs to record, Coby Sey shows up. The younger brother of Devotion’s comixer and producer Kwes, Sey is a producer and NTS host, who also plays alongside Tirzah, Micachu and Brother May in the experimental project Curl. Having hung around the studio, his voice, almost without him knowing, wound up being the only feature on the Devotion’s titular track. “I was really ill the day we recorded those vocals,” he reminisces, speaking quietly from the far end of the table. “So I really didn’t expect my inclusion on it. I thought we were just bangin’ about and chatting through music. I did have any sort of inkling that it might be used for something!”
Tirzah’s ability to slip off the face of the earth has allowed her to live a quieter life as of late. Six months ago, she gave birth to a beautiful, doe-eyed daughter. You might assume her child’s arrival had an impact on Devotion’s emotional direction; perhaps some of these songs were not about romance, but familial bonds instead. “I don’t think any of it, in the end, was [recorded while I was pregnant],” she claims, “Some of the songs we tried to re-record to see if it gave it a different feeling – but that just convinced me into thinking it was changing my pitching!” “Apparently, your brain shrinks when you’re pregnant,” Micachu adds – “A lot of shit happens when you’re pregnant!” Tirzah butts in. “So you wind up being more primal with your decisions – no rationality.” Neither of them seem too fussed about emphasising how great a record Devotion is. “You do feel proud to have achieved something that’s comprehensive, and that gets things off your chest,” Micachu admits. “[But] once it’s out, it’s nothing to do with you anymore. You can’t do anything with it.” Tirzah, nodding gently, agrees with everything her best friend just said. “Over the years,” she adds. “It’s all made sense somehow.” Devotion is out August 10 via Domino. Watch Tirzah perform live at Metropolis Studios, coming soon on CrackMagazine.net
The announcement of Tirzah’s comeback show at London’s Bermondsey Social Club earlier in the year caused a ripple of excitement, and it sold out straight away. But Tirzah is happy for the live show – which she performs alongside Micachu and fellow lo-fi Londoner Coby Sey – to take on a new life. “It didn’t feel like a performance – more of a karaokeslash-DJ set, because I was there with the mic and Meeks was doing the mixing!” she says. “I found it hard to be out front performing it, because these didn’t feel like songs I could carry in that way. They’re quite insular; to be up at front of a stage, muttering and mumbling, felt a bit weird.”
Coat: Xiao Li Top: Topshop
Words: Alim Kheraj Photography: Lillie Eiger Styling: Luci Ellis Hair: Kim Rance Make Up: Mary-Jane Gotidoc using M.A.C Cosmetics
For her most recent single I Wish I Missed My Ex, Mahalia filmed the accompanying music video backwards. “Never do it!” she shouts, before cracking a grin. “During one scene I walked off set crying. I went to my manager and said, 'You'll never hear me say this sentence again: I cannot do this.' It's a lot, man. Everyone has cue cards with the lyrics written backwards. You’re looking everywhere to try and get it right, even though you know the lyrics because you’ve been learning them. So I think [the crying] was because my brain was panicking.” Thankfully, the songwriter is happy with the results, even if she is convinced that her friends only like the video because they’re impressed that she managed to do it at all. But the rising 19-year-old singer has been impressing plenty of people outside her friendship circle, too. For Crack Magazine’s shoot, Mahalia glides through looks, including a gloriously pink fluffy jacket matched with some high-waisted jeans which she later, rather gleefully, gets to keep. With glitter under her eyes, she bounces around the studio to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. When we chat later in the studio’s ramshackle garden, sat among old trainers and plastic figurines, she’s effusive and so likeable that it already feels like we’re best friends sharing secrets.
“I think everybody would say that I was super confident at school,” she says. “I definitely was in class and with music. But I don't think I was very confident as a person. As much as I never used to admit it, I was actually quite insecure, which I think is normal when
you're young and you're working stuff out. I was a minority in my school and always a little bit different. I struggled to really feel like I had a place. Now I'm older, I'm super happy that I had that experience in school because now I'm super confident in myself.” Growing up in Leicester, both of Mahalia’s parents were professional musicians, and she signed a record deal at 13. Still, she really wanted to be a 'normal' teenager. “I am a bit of a free spirit and I wanted to be around other kids and date boys and go to clubs,” she explains. “[But] when I finished school and I turned 18, I was just ready to fly and see what I could do.” At 18 she moved to London, an experience she describes as “the worst thing I ever did”. Struggling financially and increasingly lonely, she moved back to Leicester to live with her mum. She got a boyfriend and “did all the stuff that I thought would make me feel better. It was exactly what I needed,” she says. “A feeling of stability and comfort.” Leicester is also musically significant for Mahalia. Growing up, she was immersed in the city’s folk scene – something clear from her early acoustic-driven material – but she was also surrounded by the hip-hop her brother loved as well as the soul and R&B her parents played. “I naturally married them,” she says of her current sound, which sits somewhere between the wooziness of Erykah Badu and the vibe of Amy Winehouse’s Frank. “That's why I've always called my music 'psycho acoustic soul'. I guess I was scared of being pigeonholed and being branded an R&B starlet or a girl with a guitar. I wanted to be my own.”
Songs like Sober, a hazy meditation on drunk dialling, Proud of Me (featuring Little Simz) and its sibling No Pressure, both about her experiences in the music industry, ooze with knowing humour and candour. It’s replicated IRL, too. Discussing the importance of her dual heritage – her mum’s family are from the Caribbean, while her dad has Irish roots – she’s eager to talk about the fact that she wears a wig. “For me, as a woman of dual heritage, it's important that other girls know that my natural hair is me, but the wig is also me. It's super important to me to be true to yourself. My mum always said to me, 'You can have a blonde wig if you want, as long as you know who you're wearing it for. If you're wearing it because you don't like your hair then it's a problem.'” All this self-assurance is a promising sign for an artist still in the infancy of her career. Mahalia is making music that throbs with relatability and is vibrant with youth. It’s echoed in the way she engages with people, seeking out common ground. “I always feel that what kind of music you make plays into your style and your being,” she says as our time together ends. “I think it's a subconscious thing: you naturally wanna be that bitch.” We’d say she’s just about there. I Wish I Missed My Ex is out now via Atlantic Records
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SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
My Life as a Mixtape: Let's Eat Grandma
Words: Rachel Grace Almeida Photography: Brantley Gutierrez
Norwich duo Let’s Eat Grandma, comprised of childhood best friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, have been intriguing audiences since their first single Deep Six Textbook in 2016. Their brand of goth-infused pop doesn’t sound quite like anything else around. With drawn-out synths, deadpan, childlike vocals and beats that range from soothing to frenetic (see: the SOPHIE-produced Hot Pink), Let’s Eat Grandma have carved out a special space in pop for themselves – one that sounds hyper-polished, yet incredibly opaque and real. As they gear up for the release of their second studio album I’m All Ears, we catch up with Rosa and Jenny to talk about the music that shaped them.
A song that makes us think of our family Jenny: Boys of Summer by Don Henley [Geffen, 1984] because we always used to play it in the car when we were on holiday. It’s a really special song. The last record that shocked us Jenny: The first Joanna Newsom record, The Milk-Eyed Mender [Drag City, 2004], shocked me because I’d never heard anything like it before – it was so different and beautiful.
A record that inspired us to make music Rosa: Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange [Def Jam, 2012]. There’s so much about that album that’s so good, it’s hard to even know where to begin. The best kinds of records are the ones you can listen to so many times and still find new and interesting elements with each listen – Channel Orange was a game changer. A record that helped shape our political identity Jenny: Rage Against the Machine, self-titled [Epic, 1992]. Bombtrack and Killing in the Name are huge tunes. There’s this performance where they do Killing in the Name live and it’s got this amazing energy to it. It talks a lot about police brutality and how the education system is really Eurocentric. When something makes you really angry it fits perfectly because politics, most of the time, are shit.
A song that makes us cry Rosa: Breathe Me by Sia [Systemtactic, 2004]. It’s fucking heartbreaking, it’s real teenage tears. The bit where you just cry to “be my friend” and it’s just, like, the one day your friend is on holiday. It’s so melodramatic. We really love old Sia songs, though. It’s never a problem when an artist goes mainstream but Sia is the one artist where it’s like, ‘why did you do this?’. We also really love The Girl You Lost to Cocaine, because of the line ‘I am a girl with a lot on her plate’. We really felt that. I’m All Ears is out now via Transgressive Records
A song that reminds us of being in school Rosa: A.G. Cook’s What I Mean [FMM, 2014] brings back memories of being in school, big time. I didn’t particularly share the fact that I was listening to PC Music with anyone else, I just kind of put my headphones on and went it alone. I don’t know what everyone else would have been listening to at that time – probably not that.
07—18 MOTH Club Valette St London E8
Tuesday 17 July
Tuesday 31 July
mothclub.co.uk Thursday 19 July Friday 6 July
HEY COLOSSUS Saturday 7 July
TESS PARKS Tuesday 10 July
THE COSMIC DEAD Friday 13 July
RINNGS Friday 20 July
PROJECTOR Friday 27 July
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HILANG CHILD ALEX ZHANG HUNGTAI
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CUT Saturday 21 July
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HENRY GREENLEAF Friday 27 July Saturday 7 July
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LYLE Friday 13 July
JOB SIFRE Saturday 14 July
BEZIER Wednesday 18 July
BABA NAGA Sunday 5 August
GHOST CAR Friday 10 August
RICK C QUARTET Friday 24 August
Field Day Brockwell Park, London 1–2 June
boots, she delighted the crowd with a mixture of experimental interludes, insightful speeches and fan favourites – On & On, Next Lifetime and Tyrone – in particular were met with crowd-wide hysteria. The star’s legendary personality shone throughout, as did her ability to connect with the younger audience members who weren’t alive to experience her imperial reign of the late 1990s. In fact, she claims with a smile on her face that Baduizm was created specifically with ‘90s babies’ in mind: “I’m speaking a language, and only y’all truly understand this shit.” Badu wasn’t Friday’s only high point – the likes of IAMDDB, NAO and Loyle Carner also made notable appearances on the opening day – but it was on Saturday that things truly kicked into full swing. As early as 10am, local buses were packed with festival-goers drinking cans. When they arrived, they were met by viral rapper Jimothy Lacoste, whose concise yet catchy set opened the Crack
stage. But it was Princess Nokia’s electrifying 3pm set that sparked crowd frenzy. A renowned fireball, Nokia sprinted on stage and blazed through a series of hits from breakout album 1992. A handful of slower cuts from new mixtape A Girl Called Red were met with a comparatively subdued response, but energy picked up towards the show’s close as she celebrated her love for drum ’n’ bass, triphop and jungle with a series of diverse closers, some of which were lifted from debut mixtape Metallic Butterfly. Without missing a beat, Nokia unbuttoned her jeans and twerked to bashment before finishing with the vocoder-laced Bikini Weather / Corazon en Afrika, rounding off one of the best sets of the day. As revellers stumbled between frosé stalls, the DJs of Kurupt FM stormed through a mix of garage, reggae and grime. Elsewhere, Tzusing delivered an impressive set on the RA stage and the woozy electronica of ZHU rang
throughout the Crack tent. Later in the evening, Charlotte Gainsbourg captivated a packed crowd with her combination of ethereal vocals and jagged, hammering synths, whereas the iconic Thundercat delivered an effortlessly brilliant performance buoyed by frequent and endearing crowd interaction. But it was Fever Ray and her lovable band of queer misfits that stole the show on Saturday. The bald-headed, avant-garde pioneer began her headline slot on the Crack stage a few minutes early, and went on to power through a high-octane set packed with the vast majority of last year's album Plunge. The rapport between the star and her band was palpable; together, they danced, sang and, of course, simulated sex acts on stage. Longstanding fans were also treated to a series of choice cuts from her debut album, many of which had been beefed up with added synths and steel drums to more closely fit the soundscapes of
her most recent output. But it was If I Had a Heart, performed in its original composition that truly wowed her fans, many of whom sang the lyrics back to her. As sweaty, euphoric fans trailed out of the tent, security doubled down and directed crowds to the nearest available transport. The festival may have gone according to plan, but the impact of increasingly strict regulation was clear to see. Still, despite these tightening rules, it seems likely that Field Day delivered enough high points to stand triumphant in the face of widespread challenges to live music in the UK. ! Jake Hall N Tom Ham
Earlier this year, after negotiations with Lambeth Council and local residents finally paid off, East London staple Field Day announced it would relocate South of the river. As details trickled out, it emerged that the deal was secured through an agreement of reduced capacity and an earlier closing time. On Friday night, this new curfew took its toll. After barely an hour of her set, neo-soul pioneer Erykah Badu – who, in fairness, began half an hour late – was unceremoniously ushered off-stage during the closing ad libs of Bag Lady. The crowd booed angrily as a sheepish Badu waved from the sidelines, trying to drum up applause for her stellar band and back-up singers. But the lack of subtlety with which the curfew was enforced highlighted the fact that festivals are under severe threat. That’s not to say Badu wasn’t excellent. Commanding the stage effortlessly in an oversized suit and towering
AMBER ARCADES THE DOME 10 OCTOBER
OVAL SPACE 18 JULY
02 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
THE WAITING ROOM
HACKNEY ARTS CENTRE
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Sónar Festival Fira de Barcelona, Barcelona 14–16 June
There’s a line in Kim Gordon’s book, Girl in a Band, that stuck with me: “People pay money to see others believe in themselves.” The sentiment – that being in the presence of artists who follow their own path can be powerful on a personal level – cropped up a lot over Primavera 2018. This year’s line-up was a balance of crowd-pulling headliners, indie favourites, rap heavyweights and buzzy dance acts, playing over 11 main stages across a tarmac on Barcelona’s waterfront. But many of the best performances were by artists who carry radical self-belief: cult favourites smuggling disarming intensity into music, or outsiders who have made a legacy from crashing the zeitgeist. This became clear from the first night’s headliners: Björk followed by Nick Cave. Appearing on the two main stages which sit facing each other, they drew the biggest crowds of the night with their oddities. Björk’s hushed performance brought a dose of earthy serenity and cosmic splendour. Next up, Nick Cave seized on the emotionally charged atmosphere, made heavier by material from the grief-stricken Skeleton Tree. The set climaxed with a stage invasion, where Cave pulled around 50 crowd members up to join him for the last three songs, orchestrating a makeshift choir for the chorus of Push the Sky Away. Even Cave himself was visibly moved. Friday offered a selection of future stars – Jorja Smith had her young fan base swooning with low-key material from Lost & Found; The Internet also brought a low-slung energy to the early evening crowd. But the night’s most captivating act was Odd Future original Tyler, the Creator, who offered a rare glimpse of his immersive post-Flower Boy show. The energy fell only slightly on Saturday, where Car Seat Headrest kicked off the main stages proper – Will Toledo’s oddball commentary and soaring sing-a-longs were the perfect soundtrack to the evening sun. Things got all the more wholesome with Lorde, who pranced across the stage in a billowing blue dress, embodying elegant anarchy. Primavera was defined by similar moments of grace from musical treasures; lovable misfits who inspire you to fill up on as much self-belief as they do. ! Anna Tehabsim N Róisín Murphy
Beyoncé and Jay-Z: On the Run II London Stadium 15 June The tabloids are at it again. This time they’ve been eagerly reporting the apparently poor sales for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s tour, relishing the social media gossip that tickets are being given away for free in carparks. But they’re going to have to try a lot harder than that if they want to dampen the spirit of On the Run II – an action-packed tag-team show from two of the world’s biggest stars, tied together conceptually with cinema-worthy visuals and backed by an army of 17 dancers. The Carters' more raucous material makes for some of the most hair-raising moments. During 99 Problems, the stage screens show a series of mugshots – ranging from Angela Davis to Meek Mill, Jane Fonda, Snoop Dogg, David Bowie and Jim Morrison – to accompany Jay-Z’s anecdotal lyrics about standing tall in the face of police harassment. Performing Lemonade’s furious track Don’t Hurt Yourself, Beyoncé, dressed in silver PVC, stares into a crowd camera while screaming “Who the fuck do you think I am?!”, prompting roars of excitement throughout the stadium. There have been doubts as to whether Hov can hold his weight next to Beyoncé, a performer of incredible vocal and physical agility. Jay-Z is a master of conversational rap delivery – a style which doesn’t always translate well in the live context – and his slightly clumsy appearance during Beyoncé’s incredible Coachella set was one of the few lulls. But Jay strolls across the huge stage and down platforms which reach the middle of the crowd with slick confidence. And when you’re able to toss out tunes as big as Dirt Off Your Shoulder and Big Pimpin’ early in set, the crowd can happily finish your bars off for you. For the most part of the evening, the roofless stadium has let the light in, and it feels like a relief when the sky eventually goes dark for the final quarter, for which the duo have held back some of their greatest songs. Beyoncé and her team of dancers assemble on a second stage, slinging their hats the moment the Formation beat drops and fireworks shoot to the sky while the stage elevates high above the crowd. In between dropping old classics like Public Service Announcement and U Don’t Know, Jay brings the crowd to a standstill for The Story of O.J. – a poignant song about African American struggle – while a solitary male dancer performs illuminated by gold lighting, and the visuals of racist cartoons appear on screen. Considering the tour’s concept is primarily based around Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s love life – the visuals frequently depict the couple having tender family moments with Blue and the twins, or Jay looking lost during their fallouts – there aren’t many moments of spontaneous, unscripted passion between them. This is a meticulouslyrehearsed show, and the performer’s embraces are part of the choreography. But raw emotion ripples through the London Stadium when Beyoncé dedicates the show to those lost in the Grenfell fire, before her and Jay – both wearing green heart badges – perform closing ballad Young Forever under the glow of thousands of phone lights. It’s a simple gesture, proving despite their impenetrable superstar status, Jay-Z and Beyoncé haven’t lost touch with the struggles and hopes of the everyday people who support them. ! Davy Reed
! Ben Horton N Nacho G Riaza
Primavera Sound Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona 30 May–3 June
To celebrate its quarter-century milestone, Sónar married a cast of returning innovators with a broad selection of debut performances. Thursday belongs to Little Simz and Yaeji, two artists whose rapid upward trajectories are demonstrated by the crowds each drew to the SónarVillage stage. Simz cuts a commanding figure on the stage, exhorting the sound engineers to turn her up as she struts her way through Bad to the Bone and Picture Perfect. Yaeji kicks things up a further gear with a hi-nrg DJ set of house and acid techno complemented by live vocals on hits Raingurl and Drink I’m Sippin On. Come Friday the impossibly nice weather makes tearing ourselves away from Distruction Boyz’s propulsive Gqom set a tough call, but the blacked-out SónarDome is quickly filling up for one of the weekend’s most highly-anticipated performances: SOPHIE. There’s an undeniable sense of moment to the performance – SOPHIE is appearing on the day of her album release, and her explosive stage show feels like an exclamation point in what’s been her biggest year to date. Razor-sharp and expertly choreographed recitals of Ponyboy and Faceshopping are as overwhelming sonically as they are visually, and Immaterial descends into a full-blown dance party. Sónar readily eschews the linear technotil-late approach to after-hours programming adopted by many of its peers. There’s just as much variety to the night-time line-ups as there is the day. Yung Lean’s energetic stage antics impress early on Friday night, as do Bicep, whose high-sheen live set draws an enthusiastic crowd of fist-pumping Brits. Despite being sandwiched between Bonobo and Diplo, Spanish DJ Alizzz maintains energy levels high with a mix of pop, trap and R&B. LCD Soundsystem’s cinematic tendencies work well in the cavernous SónarClub, as does Thom Yorke’s impressive A/V performance with longtime collaborator Tarik Barri. Octo Octa alternates between tougher rave tracks and more jubilant numbers, and Objekt and Call Super are both on typically flawless form. It may sound a little hackneyed, but the depth of programming at Sónar is such that you could attend the festival innumerable times and have an entirely different experience. Fortunately Sónar’s 25th edition was a statement of intent as much as it was a victory lap – its commitment to pioneering music remains strong as ever, and with attendance apparently exceeding 120,000 throughout the week, its longevity seems guaranteed.
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E L E C T R O N I C B E AT S U N T I L 2 A M
Beyoncé and Jay-Z's joint album is another statement of strength from two titans
Words: Cameron Cook
Every one of their moves is premeditated, but instead of retreating into fame and wealth, the Carters calculate all of their releases to highlight the fact they are still a part of that community. Formation, with its images of cop cars submerged in flood waters, was a tipping point, and The Story of O.J. set a new bar for black masculine self-reflection. Everything is Love, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s first collaborative album, is the logical next step in a partnership that transcends the dichotomy between their public personas and private lives. Lead single Apeshit, which dropped on the same day as Everything Is Love, is a revelation in blackness, a subversion of racial oppression as stunning and powerful as anything the Carters have released, separately or together, in the past few years. The video, which immediately went viral, depicts Bey and Jay waltzing around the Louvre, lounging in poses reminiscent of Baroque tableaux, in front of priceless works of art harking back to eras of brutal colonialism. The fact that anyone could pull off a stunt like this is incredible. That it’s the world’s two leading R&B and hip-hop artists is downright empowering.
It’s no coincidence that Apeshit was released a month after Roseanne Barr was kicked off her own show for referring to a former Obama advisor as an “ape” – on his verse, Jay-Z quotes Chief Keef by referring to himself as “a gorilla in the fuckin’ coupe,” before extolling the use of “‘nana clips for this money business” and “smoking gorilla glue like it’s legal.” The rallying cry of “have you ever seen the crowd going apeshit?” doesn’t just refer to the Carters’ throngs of adoring fans, but also to their enthusiastic and categorical rejection of institutionalised racism – and truly, have we ever really seen anything like it? It would be enough for the Carters to make their point with sly references and double-entendre, but what makes Everything Is Love so impactful is that it’s musically on-par with anything else either artist has released in their careers. Here, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are on top form, firing on all cylinders. If you’ve ever doubted Bey’s abilities as a rapper, listen to her match Jay-Z rhyme for rhyme on Apeshit, and in double time, no less. In fact, Beyoncé’s performance on the album is so strong – both vocally and in terms of, for lack of a better word, swag – Everything Is Love almost runs the risk of veering into Crazy In Love, Beyoncé-featuringJay-Z territory. However, the Carters are intent on presenting themselves as equal parts of a whole, as evidenced on Heard About Us, which might as well be the coolest renewed wedding vows in history. As maximalist as anything on Lemonade or 4:44, Heard About Us also feels like a peek into Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s world, blown up for the cameras but brimming with joy and camaraderie. Even though the Carters’ creative lives are highly choreographed, something must be said for the way they have
been able to parlay their union into an exceptional canon of music. Every track on the album serves to strengthen their self-made mythology. Lovehappy weaves the timeline of Jay’s much-talked-about infidelity in between old-school breakbeats, and Black Effect, which features Beyoncé exclaiming “I’m Malcolm X!”, would sound absolutely crazy coming from any other artist. Whether Everything is Love is meant to open a new chapter in the Carters’ shared oeuvre, or simply exist as a standalone creative effort, it’s an astonishing expression of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s joint identity as both African American icons and complex married couple, and it wouldn't have worked unless both parties had already climbed to the very top of their respective games.
The Carters Everything Is Love Parkwood / Sony / Roc Nation
Beyoncé Knowles and Shawn Carter, America’s most culturally relevant power couple, are in a unique position when it comes to their place in popular music. On the one hand, they are opulent, gorgeous millionaires, the last vestiges of an American Dream that seems currently as broken as it’s ever been. On the other, they have become avatars for the universality of the African American experience. Reminders that, no matter how privileged their lives may be, they are in no way immune to the effects of being black in a country built on systemic oppression.
Deafheaven Ordinary Corrupt Human Love ANTI- Records
Gorillaz The Now Now Parlophone Records
Nobody expected Gorillaz to follow up last year’s Humanz quite as quick as this. Depending on your perspective, it might be no bad thing. Humanz was a divisive record, a chaotic mish-mash of styles that sounded very much as if it was designed to soundtrack the current political climate. But perhaps that also felt like a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, with its all-star cast of collaborators coming at the cost of any real sense of cohesion. The Now Now is a different beast entirely. For a start, there are just two tracks with guest appearances: George Benson pops up on opener Humility, while Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle help out on Hollywood. If you found the rolling, noisy drama of Humanz to be heavy going, you’ll likely love The Now Now. Mainly rooted in funk, tonally it’s a world away from Gorillaz’s last album. The blissed-out likes of Tranz and Kansas sound like the summer, perhaps unsurprisingly given that Damon Albarn has indicated that the album was written to provide fresh material for upcoming festival headline slots. Albarn himself is on playful, melodic form, often smothering his vocals with reverb (see: Magic City, especially). There’s always the sense that a stripped-back Gorillaz is one that’s not quite firing on all cylinders. After all, their collaborations have always been a crucial part of their make-up. But The Now Now is irresistibly chilled and the perfect palate cleanser a year on from Humanz's end-of-days disarray. !
The Internet Hive Mind Columbia Records Hive Mind feels as though it begins mid-thought. The chunky bassline of Come Together sweeps you up and then a chorus of voices emerges before giving way for a phrase that rises above: "I can’t be sure". But actually, more than anything else, this record feels very sure of itself. Hive Mind is a smooth, clever consolidation of what The Internet – which originated as an Odd Future “side project” – were already doing well, and what they’re now doing better than ever. Though moods may dip and dive, The Internet’s sound is confident and polished, proving they’re a band of accomplished solo artists that work even better together. Hive Mind is a smooth continuation on the band’s Grammy-nominated debut Ego Death. There are, of course, standout tracks, like Come Over, with its crunchy electric guitar and dirty promises, but the real strength of Hive Mind is the way it, and the band, comes together. A brilliant, electric album to keep you dancing through the summer. !
Since their 2013 breakthrough record Sunbather, California metal band Deafheaven have occupied a strange space in the genre’s lore – they’re too visceral for the majority of the indie crowd, yet too well-dressed for the heavy music purists. Their stunning, evocative take on shoegazey metal captured hearts while still not quite attaining full crossover, and alienated a bunch of unholier-than-thou black metal bores in the process. Deafheaven’s fourth record, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, is more than worthy of the wider acclaim that Sunbather (and its follow-up, 2015’s New Bermuda) looked set to garner. A sprawling opus of glacial post-rock passages and searing black metal extremity, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love thrives in its heel-turn approach to genre. Where New Bermuda channelled the group’s passion for Britpop into something more melodically impactful, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love takes a different tack, embracing the orchestral elements of Deafheaven’s instrumental makeup. Night People, a collaboration with goth rock artist Chelsea Wolfe, is surely the first metal track fit for the Proms. The most impressive confluence is not in the record’s sonics, however, but in its thematics. Clarke’s scorched vocal wraps its way around lovelorn poetry worthy of timelessness, the romantic lyrical intimacy of Glint a particular highlight. It’s a captivating contrast – one that questions the very nature of human emotion and its expression, and pins Ordinary Corrupt Human Love as a masterpiece of both the beautiful and the bleak. !
Kanye West ye G.O.O.D Music / Def Jam “I thought about killing you,” Kanye West says on a track of the same name and, for a moment, one feels tempted to say the same in return. Over the past year and a half, West has given his fans plenty of reasons to want to give him a good shake. Though he gained disingenuous favour with the online alt-right and others orbiting that loosely knit cabal of Breitbartian psycho-conservatives, mostly Kanye found himself at odds with his fans over his endorsement of Donald Trump. Genius is neither perfect nor pretty, as West’s audience have come to know and grudgingly accept. Yet the disappointment of his alignment with someone perceived as hostile and toxic towards African Americans, Latinx people, and women – to name but a few of the American president’s apparent targets – led many to actually dread the release of new music by one of their favourite rappers. May they find more than the cold comfort that comes with ye; Lord knows they deserve better. Refracted through the picturesque luxury of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the ultralight beam that carried him through The Life of Pablo seems to have considerably dimmed. In its place lie sonic fossils of his past accomplishments, thematic and musical husks of material he’s already harvested. No Mistakes attempts a Bound 2 rebound but misses the net, while Yikes tries to titillate with psychedelic chatter before revealing itself as more of his bored hedonism. The less said about the lyrics to All Mine, the better. West’s lack of engagement with the statements and affiliations that followed the 2016 election and carried into the lead-up to ye contributes significantly to its status as a minor work in a major discography. He deserves some credit, perhaps, for using some space here to speak frankly if fleetingly about the mental health issues he struggles with. The discount store t-shirt slogan scrawled on the cover – I HATE BEING BI-POLAR IT’S AWESOME – threatens to diminish that seriousness, but in truth West does more damage on that front by mixing in irrational sexism with the confessionals. Violent Crimes fixates oddly on the wrong aspects of his daughter’s inevitable growing up, prattling on about her future body while stumbling through the tired realisation that women are, in fact, people. ye’s stream-of-consciousness string of ideas doesn’t suit West’s maturing genius. With a project this short, the distance between discovery of female humanity by way of his fatherhood and sophomoric references to sexual fantasies lack sufficient sunlight between them. This isn’t the brilliant artistic conflation of the carnal and the political we all experienced on Yeezus. Instead, ye suffers from a dearth of profundity, the artist spinning his wheels in the lap of Wyoming wealth, hoping nobody will notice he’s run of out ideas. !
Bodega Endless Scroll Rough Trade Records Pop culture is potent, and Bodega know it. The Brooklyn band’s album Endless Scroll is a smart, self-referential critique of 21st-century life, with all its Pokémon, expensive smoothies and, of course, endless scrolling. It's also smart enough to suggest they’ll last longer than yesterday’s meme; the type of falling apart, arty postpunk delivered with a raised eyebrow and an eye on the indie dancefloor that we all love. Songs bounce with a cynical but confident swagger that the likes of Pavement, Wire, early Liars and Parquet Courts have done so well. Endless Scroll is packed full of acerbic bon mots on the quickly vanishing gap between our online and offline selves. On opener How Did This Happen!? lead singer Ben Hozie lets us know, “Your playlist knows you better than your closest lover,” while on Bookmarks it’s the “same clicks to the same sites every day”. There’s also a song called Jack In Titanic where Hozie tells us of his admiration for Leonardo Dicaprio’s ill-fated hero. But even though Endless Scroll shows us we’re all internet addicted, validationchasing zombies, it also makes you feel alive – that’s the surest sign that Bodega have really captured the zeitgeist. !
Florence and the Machine High as Hope Virgin/EMI Records Lotic Power Tri-Angle Records Lotic’s first LP sees the Houston-born producer – who broke through in 2015 as a resident of the wild and experimental Berlin party Janus – lend their futuristic vision a heavy injection of hometown influences, including syrup-thick hip-hop and Texas marching bands. The latter influence, which informs many of the record’s mangled rhythms, makes things especially interesting. On Heart, a rowdy snare section thunders beneath the track’s mournful crooning and icy keys. On Resilience, Lotic crushes a similar rhythm into lo-fi digital detritus, the sound of which flutters amid warm washes of synth. Power also features tracks where, for the first time, we hear Lotic’s voice. This creates welcomed moments of vulnerability and defiance. Hunter’s whispered mantra – “acting real feminine/ make ‘em vomit” – speaks of the fragility of power, and the ease with which those who wield it are made upset. On Nerve, the producer delivers gossipy lines with playful menace over a strangely straightforward beat. On closer Solace, they deliver a soulful performance, thick with loss and reminiscent of Arca’s 2017 output. Perhaps Power’s greatest quality is that while it’s no less experimental than previous EPs, Lotic’s decision to add their own vocals peels open a sensitive core inside their creations – one which you might not have spotted previously. And in vulnerability, there is power. !
It isn’t until you hear High as Hope, the deeply personal fourth full-length from Florence Welch, that you come to realise how little of herself she’s offered up to us in the past. Over the course of her last three albums, she’s used metaphor and imagery more or less constantly, from ghosts in her lungs on her debut album to talk of third eyes, royalty and sainthood on her last one, 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. It’s refreshing, then, to finally see Welch drop the veil and stop hiding behind quite so much allegory. Instead, she casts a fond eye back over the formative pre-fame years on South London Forever, pens a guilt-ridden confessional to her younger sister (the soaring Grace, co-written with Sampha) and reflects on the collapse of a long-distance relationship with The End of Love. Welch has collaborated more widely than ever in the composition of High as Hope, leading to a welcome paring-back of her kitchensink orchestral tendencies. Big God, which grapples with religion and was co-written with Jamie xx, simmers with bluesy menace. The title of album closer No Choir is apt given that it might be the only track here not to feature gospel-style backing, which Welch deploys with far more nuance than you might expect. There’s still the occasional lapse back into the shouty Florence of old – see lead single Hunger – and sixth-form poet Florence too, especially on the asinine Sky Full of Song. For the most part, though, High as Hope is endearingly human. !
Let's Eat Grandma I'm All Ears Transgressive Let’s Eat Grandma’s 2016 debut I, Gemini deployed recorders and childish half-raps in equal measure to paint their inscrutable and eerie world. On their second album, uncanny Norwich teens Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth begin to turn their introspection outwards. I’m All Ears opens with Whitewater, a braggadocious walk-on track with booming horns. Two minutes later, the tone shifts abruptly. Single Hot Pink is lyrically vulnerable – “I’m only 17, I don’t know what you mean” – but fuelled by revenge, as the SOPHIE-produced synth fractures into threatening, glassy shards. Elsewhere, the duo collaborates with David Wrench and The Horrors’ Faris Badwan, building a late-night universe from deeply personal piano ballads, extravagant solos and otherworldly detail. The rest is typically hyperactive. Missed Call (1) is less than 40 seconds of jarring, sparkling instrumental. The Cat’s Pyjamas is a squelching, fairground-inspired trip, and Cool & Collected is a grungy, satisfyingly indulgent slow-burner. Donnie Darko offers a fitting conclusion to an album that avoids any concrete statements about Let’s Eat Grandma’s future trajectory. A grandiose prog journey with oblique lyrics and a faded bassline that unfurls into an 80s rave montage, it captures the euphoria of a band growing comfortable with its own strangeness: a sprinkling of perfect pop glitter, mixed with muddy pond water. !
The sudden arrival of It’s Okay to Cry in the last few months of 2017 was a revelation. SOPHIE, an artist elusive enough to use a decoy during live performances, was suddenly front and centre with an achingly tender synth-pop ballad featuring, for the first time, her voice. It was very much, as the rumoured title of her debut album promised, the beginning of a whole new world – both for the innovative super-producer making a bid for proper pop-stardom and for the untold numbers to whom seeing a femme flying in the face of gender expression while still finding mainstream success and acceptance in doing so means everything. OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES is every bit the full-length statement of purpose SOPHIE’s fans have waited years for; a maturation and refinement of her brand of meta plasticine electro that reflects the sharpened sense of focus that accompanies its creator strutting purposefully into the spotlight. Second single Ponyboy is rife with the same sense of flirtatious kink and unnervingly sweet sonics that marked earlier hits like Lemonade, only here these qualities have been amplified in a manner that displays confidence rather than indulgence. Ever a purveyor of the unexpected, SOPHIE manages to confound as many expectations as she meets. Pretending is six minutes of oceanic ambience unlike anything in her catalogue thus far, while the relentlesslyhard finale Whole New World:Pretend World is pure 90s Eurodance that furiously cracks apart into cascading showers of synth, eventually hissing its way to oblivion. Some listeners may find the album’s middle third to be meandering, lacking the immediacy of its front and back sides, but it inevitably serves as a much-needed bit of breathing room between the noxious environs of her more manic impulses. It is in these moments of seeming clash, of brutalism handled with fragility, that SOPHIE not only thrives but inspires. !
08 Ty Segall & White Fence Joy Drag City
Dirty Projectors Lamp Lit Prose Domino A far cry from the morose, post-breakup ditties of last year’s self-titled record, Dirty Projectors’ latest is a return to the tectonic shifts of their late 00s breakthrough. Switching tempo and texture on the fly, and framed by hypnotic, hocketed vocals, it’s a twisted listen, with the likes of lead single Break-Thru and the Empress Of-featuring Zombie Conqueror tying themselves in knots from the off, while always retaining their pop nous. Throwing open the studio doors for collaboration after collaboration, Lamp Lit Prose’s greatest strength is in its vocal eclecticism. When it all threatens to sag under the weight of all the musical witchcraft and wizardry, another guest is wheeled out to freshen things up. Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and Rostam of ex-Vampire Weekend fame appear on the penultimate You’re the One, stripping back the bonkers for the record’s most straightforward, folky ballad, before (I Wanna) Feel It All surges in with the same blissed-out saxophony that flooded Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. As the record drifts to a close, it all disintegrates into the kind of glitched-out, deconstructionist arrangements that Oneohtrix Point Never might make had he grown up in an enchanted forest, rather than inside a robot. It’s an abrupt, oblique end that once again positions David Longstreth as a left-field musical auteur like no other, making the avantgarde accessible. !
“We are who we say we are!” announce Ty Segall and Tim Presley on Good Boy. As mission statements come, this one is blunt but believable. An endearing rough and tumble through hallucinogenic neo-psychedelia, Joy is the follow-up to Ty Segall and White Fence’s first madcap collaboration, 2012’s Hair. And although the garage-rock oddballs revel in absurdities, you can’t ever accuse them of faking their enthusiasm. Presley’s vintage sounds are a great foil for Segall’s subversive, sometimes glam take on garage, and the record veers enjoyably between sappy and silly. A Nod is about trying to please everyone but losing yourself in the process, with an economic but touching refrain: “I want to be believe in me”. Tommy’s Place is a high-pitched ode to a favourite spot: “I think I’m going to pop! I don’t think I can stop!” Mini-epic Hey Joel, Where You Going With That? riffs on the death of rock with stupid puns (“yellow sandwich submarine”), 60s harmonies and a plodding, percussion-heavy breakdown. Within 15 brisk tracks, skits add extra texture: Rock Flute is the product of a squeaky door hinge and, perhaps, a dog toy. This theory appears to be confirmed when Other Way opens with playful canine growls, before wrungout guitars and snapped, screamed vocals result in the album’s heaviest minute. Sometimes the jam sesh lacks drive, but even if Joy isn’t the most essential record in either artist’s deep discography, it’s a gratifying testimony to capturing a moment when it feels right. !
SOPHIE OIL OF EVERY PEARL' s UN-INSIDES Transgressive
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London Zoo The Bug’s raucous record is a pin-drop of discontent in the English capital
Just two months after the release of London Zoo, the Lehmann Brothers bank filed for the biggest bankruptcy in US history, and the sky-high UK offices in the docklands were suddenly vacated. As the UK economy subsequently stagnated, painful austerity measures were introduced. In the summer of 2011, the police shooting of Mark Duggan in North London led to four nights of rioting that spread across England. Resistance to austerity and the ruling class was fierce, but failed to effect much change until the Brexit referendum and the 2017 election in the UK that – along with police violence and the election of Trump in the US – reordered the political landscape, broke ideological consensus, and ushered in a new era of struggle. Since all this took place after London Zoo was released, how is it that from
Original release date: 30 July 2008 Label: Ninja Tune
Most Londoners looking at the cover of The Bug's London Zoo would immediately be able to date the album. Beneath the enormous wasp-like entity scratched into the yellowing sky are the silhouettes of the City of London's towers: the Gherkin and Tower 42, but none of its brash younger siblings, like the Shard, 'Cheesegrater' or 'WalkieTalkie.' London's skyline may have changed, the effects of the ludicrous pressures of capitalism may have intensified, but unlike its cover, London Zoo is as fresh and ferocious as it was a decade ago.
the very first drop, the record still feels so urgent and contemporary? Its opening track Angry sees veteran reggae vocalist Tippa Irie growl out the words “So many things that make me angry and so many things that make mad/ I gotta say” to a propulsive beat, followed by a rapid-fire sermon on government response to disaster, climate change, terrorism, military imperialism and more. Given the mood, the lyrical content and the thick, dissonant bass, you could be forgiven for thinking you're listening to grime, but it's more complex than that. True, London Zoo does absorb the grime of its day, and some of its best moments come from Flowdan, founding member of Wiley's seminal crew Roll Deep. But London Zoo also reaches backwards in time – Ricky Ranking, who features on three of the album’s tracks, produced work that goes back to the early nineties, while Tippa Irie started in the eighties. Rather than traditionalising the album, however, their contributions underline both the musical and the political continuities between multiple generations of London music of Afro-Caribbean origin. The rage and dread that is a political reality today had always been latent in decades of racial and economic oppression, and it smoulders on London Zoo, awaiting the revolution. Another key local ingredient of the album is dubstep. In 2008, dubstep and grime were closer together in
sound than they are today – dubstep had not yet become the garish new heavy metal its detractors called brostep, and grime had not yet expanded its sound under influence from other genres. And rarely have grime and dubstep ever been as close as on London Zoo, where tracks like Skeng sit squarely and seamlessly between the two sounds. Or where The Spaceape, who had released one of Hyperdub's earliest albums, Memories of the Future, gives one of his best performances in Fuckaz, listing every kind of oppressor with darkly cathartic insight. London Zoo is perhaps best understood as a third point on a triangle formed with grime and dubstep, opening up a new dimension that echoes with the history of underground sounds. Kevin 'The Bug' Martin was in the ideal position to do this, having given dancehall a twist
of experimentalism on his previous release Pressure and dabbled in postpunk and noise of many kinds for years. Not only did London Zoo reach into many layers of the past, or the many parallel universes contained in London's musical underground of 2008, it extended into the future, too. One hopes for a time in which the album's anger is no longer so raw and recognisable. But even if that ever comes to pass – don't hold your breath – London Zoo’s significance as a document bearing the imprint of its times will keep it vital for years to come.
Words: Adam Harper
Wilde Renate //////////////////////////////////////
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09 07 07 Ocean's 8 dir: Gary Ross Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Rihanna
! Louise Brailey
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA dir: Stephen Nomura Schible Starring: Ryuichi Sakamoto In Stephen Nomura Schible’s documentary, contemporary musician Ryuichi Sakamoto finds a damaged piano in a school struck by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. “I felt as if I was playing the corpse of a piano that had drowned,” he says. Death and destruction are major themes in Coda. From Sakamoto’s auspicious beginnings as a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra, through his celebrated soundtrack work up to his current resurgence as an ambient giant, the documentary explores Sakamoto’s decade-spanning career, while demonstrating how events like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, global warming and nuclear power have influenced his work. Instead of showing these events in chronological order, Schible’s approach is more organic. Much like the way memory operates, in snapshot recollections or topical associations, Coda weaves itself from event to event, focusing on ideas and concepts. In one scene, Sakamoto speaks of how he wants to make music that sounds like the score for an Andrei Tarkovsky film that doesn’t exist, while in another, he is in the restricted zone of damaged nuclear reactor Fukushima – itself reminiscent of Tarkovsky’s film Stalker. Elsewhere, Sakamoto “fishes for sound” by lowering a microphone into the water to capture the sound of melting ice in Antarctica, while back in his New York basement studio, he runs a violin bow across a hi-hat cymbal to create an unsettling sound. Underpinning these events are the words of The Sheltering Sky author Paul Bowles and “father of the atomic bomb” J. Robert Oppenheimer. The line between beauty and destruction is a thin one, and it’s a recurring theme in Sakamoto’s work. Although much of Sakamoto’s personal life is left untouched, Coda gives an in-depth account of the Oscar-winning musician’s creative process and inner-philosophy across many decades and key events, making it integral watching for any ambient head.
After a run of films ranging from mixed bags to absolute disasters, Paul Schrader redeems himself with First Reformed. The film follows Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke) as he runs a small tourist church, supported by a corporate megachurch that looks more akin to a shopping mall than a place of worship. After a couple of ill-fated therapy sessions, Toller becomes obsessed with climate change, his despair and poor health slowly driving him towards self-destruction. Shot in boxy, repressive Academy ratio, the film unfolds in a series of stark, still compositions. It’s a dialogue-heavy piece, with Toller’s disturbingly calm narration via his journal leading us through. Both Hawke and Amanda Seyfried – who plays a member of his congregation seeking guidance – give wonderful, understated performances, with Hawke’s despair and rage mostly showing through his eyes. Notably, there is precious little score for the majority of First Reformed, only appearing late as an ominous, ambient drone. In a manner not unlike his past works Taxi Driver – which Shrader wrote – and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Schrader lays bare the inner thoughts of a man driven to despair and radicalism by his vanity, self-hatred and confusion at changing times. A late sequence in First Reformed practically mirrors the opening of in Mishima, though in this case the protagonist’s grim purpose is much more apparent. Despite the similarities, First Reformed doesn't share the same grand impressionism of Mishima nor the bloody conclusion of Taxi Driver. It does, however, share the same grim contemplation of Christianity as Martin Scorsese’s Silence. Ultimately, though, it’s not the concept of faith that Schrader takes issue with, but the commercialisation of Christianity, and the greed of the men in control. ! Kambole Campbell
Hereditary dir: Ari Aster Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne Hereditary, the debut feature film from Ari Aster, is a fraught family drama coated in a shell of hard horror, with glacial chills that have you begging for something terrible to happen just to end the suspense. Set within the spacious, sterile home of the Graham family, Hereditary begins with the passing of Ellen, matriarch of the household, who spent her life largely estranged from her daughter Annie (Toni Collette). As grief tugs at the threads of an already fraying family unit, malevolent forces manifest in horrifying ways, forcing intimate secrets and suspicions out of the woodwork. Collette is magnificent, playing Annie like a violin string set to snap at any moment. Where the still rivers of her life once ran deep, loss has caused them to overflow, spilling chaos into her home. There’s a captivating mania in Annie, and whereas her narrative falls prey to some tired tropes, Collette holds you from the moment the coffin is lowered into the ground. Crucially, she is bolstered by a worthy supporting cast, notably Alex Wolff as her long-suffering son and Ann Dowd, known recently for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale. Aster evolves a sense of dread from the off, finding new ways to stun and spook his audience, yet there is unexpected glee coursing through his film, and a corrosive family drama that takes Hereditary beyond horror film into a complex new realm. ! Beth Webb
! Gunseli Yalcinkaya
Say what you want about gender-flipped reboots – and people generally say a lot, usually on the internet – but you can’t beat the elevator pitch. In this case, heist caper Ocean's 11, only with women instead of men. Still, after the Ghostbusters backlash, many a studio will be keeping a close eye on the box office for Ocean’s 8. When it comes to star power, Warner Bros. are taking no chances. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett play Debbie Ocean and Lou, partnersin-crime whose ambiguous relationship was seemingly written by Lesbian Twitter. They head up a band of felons, among them, stoner hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), tax evading fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) and Tammy (Sarah Paulson) a suburban mom-turned-fence whose criminal tendencies are obfuscated by her neutral knits and tendency to pronounce gala “gay-la”. They’re joined by diamond expert Amita (Mindy Kaling) and quick-witted street hustler Constance (rapper Awkwafina). Together, they plot to steal a $150 million necklace off the neck of A-lister Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Gala. Intriguingly, the key phase of the heist takes place in the women’s bathroom, a zone where men – even Mossad-trained security guards – aren’t allowed. It’s a cute touch in a movie where men’s roles feel, for once, superfluous. You’d have to be a director of unique mundanity to fumble such a fabulous premise. Unfortunately Hunger Games’ Gary Ross gives a shot: the visual storytelling feels staid, and the ingenious mechanics of the plan never quite engage the way they should. Still, Anne Hathaway elevates the movie with her campy pastiche of a Hollywood starlet, whose hundred-watt smile masks untold emotional shallows. It’s a glimpse into what might’ve been, had the Page Six ridiculousness been allowed to flourish. Even so, the spectacle of an all-female ensemble – especially one of this calibre, especially having this much fun – feels worthy of celebration. If not, then there’s always Cate Blanchett on a motorbike.
First Reformed dir: Paul Shrader Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer
“A truly special musical celebration” ★★★★★ The Guardian
END30OF THE ROAD 2018 Aug—2 Sept Larmer Tree Gardens Vampire Weekend St. Vincent •
Feist • Yo La Tengo • Ezra Furman Jeff Tweedy White Denim
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Josh T. Pearson
Titus Andronicus • Hookworms • IDLES • Shame • (Sandy) Alex G
James Holden & The Animal Spirits • This Is The Kit • Iceage • Jonathan Wilson The Low Anthem • Protomartyr • The Posies • Soccer Mommy • Julien Baker Hiss Golden Messenger • Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith • Damien Jurado • Sunﬂower Bean Lucy Dacus • Shannon & The Clams • Amen Dunes • Imarhan Stealing Sheep’s Suffragette Tribute • Japanese Breakfast • The Limiñanas Richard Dawson • Du Blonde • Warmduscher • Moor Mother • Jim White Flat Worms • Lost Horizons • Colter Wall • Tirzah • Bas Jan • The Weather Station Adrian Crowley • Nilüfer Yanya • Sweet Baboo • Darren Hayman • Gwenno Insecure Men • David Thomas Broughton • DUDS • Snail Mail • Kiran Leonard Cut Worms • Erin Rae • Caroline Spence • Samuel R. Saffery • Snapped Ankles Haley Heynderickx • Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker • The Orielles • Boy Azooga Marc Riley DJ • Screaming Females • Anna Burch • AK/DK • & many more acts Plus comedy, ﬁlm, literature and art installations. Dance ‘til you drop at the late night forest disco and laugh ‘til you cry at some of the world’s foremost comedians, all while sampling delicious award-winning food and hand-selected craft beers and ales. Come make new friends under the stars and around the campﬁre.
Book your tickets now at endoftheroadfestival.com
Donna Sunglasses in Mint aceandtate.com £98 Celebrating multiplicity and creativity in their Me, Myself & I collection, Ace & Tate’s frames are equally as affordable as they are stylish. Available in a summery mint green, these statement glasses are a staple for the warmer climate.
OOF: Issue Two oofmagazine.com £6 World Cup season is upon us. On top of shouting at the screen while necking pints at the pub, here’s another way to explore football and culture: via Juergen Teller photography, an interview with visual artist Eddie Peak, and more.
Bokeh Versions Green Logo T-Shirt bokeh-versions.com £17.99
Deviation x AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular Headphone System aiaiai.dk £190
‘Outernational sounds’ is a fitting tagline for Bokeh Versions. The Bristol-based label’s output encompasses dub, industrial, dancehall and everything in between, with alumni including Low Jack, Jay Glass Dubs and Equinoxx’s Time Cow. Support the cause with this limited screen printed tee designed by celebrated illustrator Patrick Savile.
AIAIAI take a unique approach to headphones, allowing listeners to customise modular headsets to suit their own needs. Collaborating with club night Deviation for a limited edition release, this pair has been finessed by the night’s founder Benji B.
Sony SRS-XB41 Speakers sony.co.uk £200 For those seeking a pair of high quality speakers, Sony’s latest output is bass-heavy and waterproof – perfect for parties by the beach, or the arrival of clumsy house guests.
Boys of Hong Kong by Alexandra Leese antennebooks.com £15
Lensed by Hong Kong-born, London-based photographer Alexandra Leese, these images address western stereotypes of East Asian masculinity, capturing arresting portraits that showcase the diversity of men in Hong Kong.
Selena Words: Rachel Grace Almeida Illustration: Tim Lahan
Your first brush with Selena may have been the extensive news coverage surrounding her devastating murder. Or maybe you caught the 1997 biopic, Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez. Possibly, even, the first Spanish phrase you ever uttered was Bidi Bidi Bam Bam. Somehow, wherever you were, you most likely heard of Selena – the young, quickly-iconic Mexican-American singer from Texas that gracefully ushered in a new era of Latinx visibility in mainstream music. Selena was always intended for stardom. She was just ten years old when she began performing with Selena y Los Dinos, a Tejano band started by her father, who sold over 80,000 records in Texas alone. Then, in 1982, after EMI’s label boss advised Selena to become a solo artist – aged 12 – she did exactly that. The career that followed in the next decade was significant, at times tumultuous, and, eventually, cut tragically short, after she was shot and killed by her friend and former business partner, Yolanda Saldivar in 1995.
It didn’t take long for Selena to reach pop star status. Shortly following the release of her selftitled debut album in 1989, she was lauded a sex symbol not only by her devoted fan base, but those around her – and that didn’t come without controversy. She was often refused bookings and scrutinised for
being a solo female vocalist in a maledominated industry. Her teachers used to disapprove of her work, voicing their concerns to her family, claiming that a woman shouldn’t be exposed to the music industry at such a young age, let alone wearing such ‘suggestive outfits’. It seemed like every progressive, self-assured characteristic that made Selena a unique and accessible role model was also the biggest target on her head. Selena’s staunch rejection of the patriarchal structures that are still present in modern day Latinx culture wasn’t doused in metaphor, nor was it coy or timid, characteristics expected of women in the predominantly
conservative climate of late 80s and 90s Latin America. Her brand of feminism was brazen and in-yourface, using the same fiery passion ignited by Latinx culture to kick back at the societal frameworks that she found herself also being subjected to. Perhaps most importantly, Selena represented the female experience in a kinetic, multi-dimensional way. She wasn’t afraid to feel vulnerability, opening frank dialogues about sexual desire and the heartache that comes with pining after someone’s love and affection, while still maintaining emotional autonomy and unwavering self-worth. These themes were explicitly explored in her posthumous record, Dreaming Of You, which celebrates its 23rd anniversary this month. The album, which still holds the title of best-selling Latin album of all time, felt like a natural progression for her as an artist; the music proudly and firmly embraced its Hispanic roots, but felt like it was sifted through a hazy, rose-tinted R&B filter, echoing the same sounds we hear in music today. At its most personal, listening to Selena felt like reading pages of your own diary out loud in front of an audience. Selena bridged the gaps between Western and Latinx pop culture. Still, her music was irrevocably Tejano – a style of music that marries traditional Mexican folk
with pop sensibilities, making for a sound that can be as laced with upbeat joy as it is with deep longing and lament. This emotional juxtaposition was the subtle, bubbling undercurrent of her entire aesthetic as an artist: from the soft-focus drapes of chiffon that used to follow her around the stage, to the bluntly shoulder-padded, ancestral Mexican accents that framed her live performances. The way she made pop stardom and Latinx womanhood tangible was paramount to those of us who desperately needed representation in mainstream pop culture, as well as for those who didn’t understand it. She painted her experience not only through her music, but through her spirit. In many ways, Selena’s story is incomplete. It’s hard to predict where she might’ve been today had she not been murdered, but one fact remains irrefutably clear: Selena is an icon. She was the embodiment of fearlessness, self-assertion and defiance, singlehandedly paving the road for pop music to follow by being a first-hand example of the beauty of multiculturalism, women’s empowerment and, above all, tenderness.
New DJ Range | Available Now audio-technica.com