Crack Magazine | Issue 87
Music Creativity & Technology
14.15.16 June 2018 Barcelona
2manydjs (dj set), agoria live, alizzz, alva noto, alva noto & ryuichi sakamoto, amp fiddler x tony allen, a-trak, benjamin damage, ben klock & dj nobu, bicep live, black coffee, bonobo, call super, charlotte de witte, chino amobi, chloé - slow mo live, cornelius, daedelus, demdike stare & michael england, despacio (james murphy + 2manydjs), die angel: ilpo väisänen + schneider tm, diplo, diplo presents (distruction boyz, kampire, mr eazi), dj earl x nick hook live av, dj2d2, dj harvey (6h set), dj stingray x mumdance, dre skull, errorsmith, fatima al qadiri live, george fitzgerald live, goldlink, gorillaz, helena hauff, henry saiz & band, iamddb, jamz supernova, jasss, jenny hval, joe kay - soulection, john talabot (6h set), king doudou, kode9 x kōji morimoto av, kokoko!, lanark artefax, laurel halo, laurent garnier, lcd soundsystem, liberato, little simz, lorenzo senni, maribou state, miss kittin & kim ann foxman, modeselektor dj set, motor city drum ensemble & jeremy underground, nídia, niño de elche & israel galván, objekt, octo octa, oddisee & good compny, ólafur arnalds, oscar mulero - monochrome av, preditah, richie hawtin close, rosalía, rozzma, russell haswell ft. sue tompkins, second woman, sinjin hawke & zora jones av live, sophie, studio barnhus, suzanne kraft x jonny nash, thom yorke, tokimonsta av live, tony humphries, wiley, yaeji, young marco, yung lean and many more. Buy your tickets from SonarTickets by StubHub I www.sonar.es an initiative of
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DIPLO ANNIE MAC ANDERSON .PAAK VINCE STAPLES MURA MASA ACTION BRONSON THE INTERNET BIG BOI DAVE BICEP LIVE JACOB BANKS KALI UCHIS JON HOPKINS DJ BLACKBEAR MABEL THE BLAZE LOCO DICE GREEN VELVET FLOORPLAN CASHMERE CAT JACKMASTER PRESENTS MASTERMIX UNDERGROUND KAOZ : KERRI CHANDLER X JEREMY UNDERGROUND MOTOR CITY DRUM ENSEMBLE SHY FX SOLARDO BELLY MHD DENIS SULTA PEGGY GOU MALL GRAB B.TRAITS CAMELPHAT MELLA DEE TENSNAKE MIKE SKINNER & MURKAGE MOXIE CASISDEAD KRYSTAL KLEAR DJ ZINC B 2 B SPECIAL REQUEST D DOUBLE E DJ Q PREDITAH MS BANKS JAMZ SUPERNOVA FT STUSH SAOIRSE STEEL BANGLEZ BLACK PARTY HAPPY MEALS JUST JAM TAKEOVER SKRAPZ SUSPECT K TRAP M HUNCHO BIG ZUU MOWGLI AMY BECKER KENNY ALLSTAR TIM & BARRY SIAN ANDERSON STAR.ONE ANDREW HILL JANE FITZ CICI & THE FREE NATIONALS
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Retrospective: Capital Punishment – p.89 My Life as a Mixtape: Elias Rønnenfelt – p.97
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15 – 24 JUNE 2018 DEFTONES | THE LIBERTINES | MANIC STREET PREACHERS | MOGWAI M Y B LO O DY VA L E N T I N E | N I N E I N C H N A I LS | P L AC E B O | T H E P SYC H E D E L I C F U R S 6 5 D AY S O F S TAT I C | A L C E S T | T H E A N C H O R E S S | T H E C H U R C H | K AT H R Y N J O S E P H KRISTIN HERSH | MONO | THE NOTWIST MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED M E M B E R S G E T P R I O R I T Y B O O K I N G . FO R YO U R B EST C H A N C E T O S E C U R E T I C K E T S , J O I N N O W. # M E LT D O W N F E S T
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Crack Magazine Was Made Using
A good print magazine should give its readers a jolt of excitement every single time they see a new issue, and it needs to be edited by people who are grateful for the attention of everyone who picks it up. If a publication isn’t like this, then it’s probably not worth the paper it’s printed on.
03 Greedo 100 Bands ft. OMB Peezy Liz Phair Divorce Song (Girly-Sound version) Jimmy Lacoste Subway System Junglepussy Ocean Floor ft. Wiki Lolina Fake City, Real City Let’s Eat Grandma Falling Into Me Snail Mail Pristine Slowthai T N Biscuits Björk Arisen My Senses (Jlin remix) Flame 1 Shrine 700 Bliss Ring The Alarm High Ingleton Falls Mavis John Use My Body Years & Years Sanctify Kali Uchis After the Storm Minnie Riperton Inside My Love
The role of music journalism is often debated in an era when artists can communicate directly with their fans and it takes less time to locate an album stream than it does to read the first paragraph of a review. Over the years I’ve thought about these conversations a lot, and I’ve never doubted the significance of quality culture media. Good writing arouses intrigue, it can enhance your emotional connection with music or art and it often provides the immense satisfaction of seeing a thought or feeling that you can’t quite articulate written down with precision and wit. And when an artist is represented with exciting design and photography, their aesthetic world is extended. That’s the kind of publication we want Crack Magazine to be, and I actually think we reached that standard a long time ago.
This is the last time I’ll be writing our Editor’s letter. As of next month, Anna Tehabsim will be stepping up to the Editor role, and I’ll continue to work with her as the Associate Editor. So there are going to be a few changes, but one thing will stay the same: Crack Magazine is one of the good publications, and it’s in the hands of people who care.
Kali Uchis shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Molly Matalon in Los Angeles, February 2018
Davy Reed, Editor
Recommended O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty Spectres The Victoria 27 April
Kahn & Neek b2b Commodo Patterns, Brighton 4 May Kala Festival Roy Ayers, The Black Madonna, Jayda G Location TBA, Albania 20-27 June Kala Festival, which debuts this year, is Albania’s first international music festival, and it promises to showcase the serene beauty of the Albanian riviera. It’s set in an “undiscovered location” – so God knows how they found it. Jokes aside, they’re welcoming some of the best DJs in the world to what looks like an absolutely breathtaking location and giving them lengthy sets with a liberal running order to allow room for those magical unplanned moments. They are also offering ticket holders "unrestricted access to the beach caves, natural canyons and hiking trails" around the site. Discover your favourite new festival.
IAMDDB KOKO 19 April
Sneakbo Village Underground 20 April
The Run Out Copeland Park & Bussey Building April 21 This month, The Run Out is returning as an alternative to Record Store Day in celebration of the burgeoning DIY music community of South London and beyond. Over the one-day festival, you can watch live performances from bands and DJs, shop for deep cuts in the independent label market, attend workshops and talks, and even get your hands on exclusively cut dubplates only available on the day from Night Slugs, Lorenzo Senni, Gabber Eleganza, !K7 Records and more. Catch sets from the likes of Beatrice Dillon, Tyree Cooper, SIREN, Minimal Violence, Kwake Bass and more, with music running from midday up until the after party that goes on until 4am. The Run Out is once again proving that South London continues to be a force for independent music and culture – don’t miss out.
Field Day Erykah Badu, Earl Sweatshirt, Charlotte Gainsbourg Brockwell Park, London 1-2 June It’s always a buzz to find out what Field Day have pulled out the bag, and this year’s announcement did not disappoint. Having slimmed down to a one day event last year, the festival is confidently striding onto a new south London site as a two-dayer, and The Barn – a huge hangar stage with advanced sound and lighting – will be back by popular demand. Honouring the spirit of Friday’s stunning headliner Erykah Badu, a soulful vibe will be drifting throughout a schedule that includes funky soul singer Nao, LA based violinist/ vocalist Sudan Archives and reflects the buzz of London’s new jazz scene with young acts like Ezra Collective, Moses Boyd and Zara McFarlane. Among the highlights of Saturday’s jaw-dropping line-up are Princess Nokia and AJ Tracey as well as former Crack Magazine cover stars Fever Ray, Earl Sweatshirt, Nils Frahm and Helena Hauff, while the DJ offerings include Avalon Emerson, Willow and Objekt going b2b with Batu. Despite some fierce competition out there, Field Day have totally nailed it. If you haven’t already, we advise you waste no more time in getting those tickets sorted.
Ben UFO w/ DB1, dBridge and Storm (Metalheadz) XOYO 1 June The announcement that Ben UFO is embarking on an epic 13-week residency at XOYO felt like a landmark moment for a DJ who everyone knows is more than equipped for the challenge. Able to coast between styles, eras and sounds without ever losing sight of the crowd in front of him, Ben's DJ sets have become benchmarks for marrying diversity with unwavering danceability. The programme for his residency, which he said he worked on for months, is a manifestation of his borderless gaze. The cuttingedge of techno with Call Super, Courtesy and Objekt; the unpredictable selections of peers like Margaret Dygas and Hunee; and a handful of rising talents like Peach, Leif and Joe. Ben’s also secured dBridge, DB1 and the legendary DJ Storm for a DnB tear-up across both rooms. All hail BUFO.
Amen Dunes Omeara 2 May
Cowpuncher: Holly Blakey & Mica Levi Southbank Centre 13 April
Not3s KOKO 17 April
Holly Blakey is an exciting choreographer with an antielitist approach to dance. Her performances have provoked discussion by exploring themes of class, gender and connectivity, and her career has included high profile work with acts like Florence & The Machine and Coldplay. For Cowpuncher, Blakey is teaming up with Mica Levi – one of the UK’s most innovative musicians – to play around with the tropes of the Western film genre, confronting contemporary sexual politics on a scorched sandy desert. Woah there, cowboy.
Thurston Moore: 12 String Guitar Orchestra Barbican 14 April
Hunee Fabric 21 April
Peach Corsica Studios 7 April
027 Ulrika Spacek Corsica Studios 25 April
serpentwithfeet Village Underground 13 April Appearances can be deceiving. With his facial tattoos (which include the words ‘suicide’, ‘heaven’ and a pentagram) his unsettling stage name and affiliation with leftfield electronic label Tri Angle, you’d be forgiven for presuming Jonah Wise makes aggressively confrontational music. In fact, the Baltimore-raised artist’s sound is a gorgeous blend of gospel and RnB, and the soul-stirring purity of his voice has won the heart of Björk, who describes Wise as one of “the most emotionally generous singers.” Here’s your chance to experience a unique talent before his debut album soil casts a spell over the masses later in the summer.
Killah Priest Archspace 26 April Exit Festival Fever Ray, Migos, Nina Kraviz Novi Sad, Serbia 12-15 July
Serbia’s Exit Festival doesn’t do things by halves. Its storied location, in a Serbian fortress, adds a heightened sense of dust bowl drama to the proceedings while the sheer scale demands equally monolithic headliners. It’s refreshing then, that this year’s line-up manages to be so diverse. We’re not going to lie, the prospect of seeing what David Guetta fans make of the queerdo shenanigans of Fever Ray’s live show is worth the price of the ticket alone. But the prospect of catching Migos, Ben Klock, Sevdaliza and IDLES all on the same bill really seals the deal.
Gum Oslo 24 April
Love Saves The Day Avelino, Floating Points, Smerz Eastville Park, Bristol 26-27 May
Kojo Funds Electric Brixton 5 April
Wiki Oslo 18 April
Up Festival Ricardo Villalobos, Ellen Allien, Magda Vystaviste Holesovice, Prague 11-13 May
Tommy Cash Scala 17 April
As Whitney Houston told us in 1976, 'Love will save the day'. Bristol's Team Love continue to bring that mood into 2018 as they bring the festival festival back to Eastville Park with a selection of acts to make you feel warm and fuzzy. The swooning sound of Mercury Prize winner Sampha is among the big hitters, alongside Bicep, Loyle Carner, Raye, Mostack, Nightmares On Wax and Fatboy Slim, who all play the mainstage. Over on Crack Magazine's stage Four Tet and Floating Points are joined by Croydon rapper Hardy Caprio, Octavian, Tottenham’s Avelino and rising Norwegian duo Smerz, and scattered across the rest of the sprawling lineup are the likes of The Black Madonna, Flava D and Ben UFO. In other words: pure joy.
Kamasi Washington Roundhouse 2 May
Prague’s Up Festival is a new event that leans hard into Europe’s dance and art underground. Sure, there are those headliners – Ricardo Villalobos, Ellen Allien – but we’re more intrigued in the lesser-known DJs and acts who will be taking up space at Prague’s sprawling exhibition centre. Across these 72 hours you can expect a thrilling pin-drop into what’s stirring across Rome, Bucharest, Paris, Prague and any city with a basement venue and a will to create.
Pinch & Riko Dan Lightbox 27 April
Freqs of Nature Niedergorsdorf, Germany 4-9 July
Lil Uzi Vert Brixton Academy 10 April
Hinds Electric Brixton 19 April
MIRA Festival Croatian Amor, Peter van Hoesen, Eomac Funkhaus, Berlin 5-6 May Exploring the intersection of digital art and music collides, last year this festival staged an immersive event of mesmeric visuals and innovative technology that looked towards the future. This year’s theme for the two-dayer is based on ideas surrounding emotions, diversity and social change, with a broad and carefully-curated programme ranging from 4DSOUND explorations and performance with interactive media. If there’s a futuristic festival you’d like to get lost in, this would be the one.
Ought The Garage 24 April
Freqs of Nature feels like the antithesis of Berlin's sleek techno institutions. For one, the location provided by the event is simply a postcode, which leads you to a spot half way between Berlin and Leipzig. Taking a look at the breadth of music across the Forest, Groove, Kreuz & Quer and Relaxperimental stages at this spirited festival, we're pretty sure it'll get looser than your average Kreuzberg open air – set to careen through “12 hours of the most peculiar psychedelic trance”, foresttrance, dark-psychedelic, hi-tech, psycore and drum 'n' bass, as well as house and techno from the likes of Etapp Kyle, Dasha Rush, Matrixxman and Rrose. Not for the faint of heart.
Rising: Mafalda Words: Anna Tehabsim Photography: Bella Fenning
Soundtrack For: Transcendental Meditation File Next To: Jayda G / Gilles Peterson Our Favourite Mix mafalda: colectivo futurecast Fun Fact: Mafalda drew the image of a hand clutching a rose that adorns Melodies International's landmark release, You're A Melody Where to Find Her: soundcloud.com/mafaldafromthesun
In the heat of a packed club night, a seemingly out of place track deployed at the right time can be electrifying. In the belly of Corsica Studios at 4am, one of these moments proved so powerful it sent Mafalda's life in a new direction. “It fascinated me,” she recalls of dancing to Sadar Bahar's set in 2014. “Not just the music, I couldn't believe I was listening to jazz in a club, but also the crowd's reaction. People went crazy.” Spurred on by the experience, Mafalda uprooted herself from Lisbon, landing in London just in time to catch the final boom of its storied sweatbox Plastic People. She spent her weekends glued to a spot in front of the decks, captivated by the way DJs like Floating Points effortlessly careened through a concoction of jazz, deep soul and rare oddities. “It wasn't about being seen, it wasn't about Instagram posts, nothing superficial," she says. "It was a spiritual home."
Currently, Mafalda co-runs the label and sporadic You're A Melody events alongside her own DJ schedule. Last year her bookings picked up steam, from regular gigs in London to DJ booths across Europe, including the main stage at Dimensions festival. It was during this set that Mafalda hesitated over a record by Rotary Connection, wondering whether their track Love Has Fallen On Me was a weird call for her last tune. She stuck to her guns and as the record's psychedelic soul unraveled, the crowd stuck with her too. “Being bold and doing what you believe in, it's the best thing about what's happening in club culture right now,” she says. “I haven't emptied any dancefloors lately, so that's good!”
The experimentation left a lasting impact on Mafalda. Having stuck it out
Mafalda appears at Field Day, 1-2 June, Victoria Park, London
Sounds Like: Spacious soul and jazz with an ethereal lilt
in London, her enthusiasm for the city's thriving jazz scene and its passionate community of record collectors burns brighter than ever. It's a scene she's now immersed in. After Floating Points announced his label Melodies International, which unearths rare gems, she reached out immediately. Work began with the Melozine – a fanzine tucked into the sleeve of the label's sought-after reissues. Packed with reviews, interviews and diggers' ephemera in the form of old stickers and record shop cards, the last issue took on a more political scope, contextualising the record's original release date around the end of the Vietnam war. “Music and politics are connected and they always have been,” Mafalda says of the focus on music's role in cultural revolution. “We can all do better and we can all do more.”
Silvia Kastel is something of a fixture of the underground in both Berlin and her native Italy. She’s chalked up releases on deep cover cassette labels like Noisekolln Tapes and Sameheads' c60 Series and in the early ‘10s was part Control Unit, a hallucinogenic project that blended no wave and free jazz. But it’s Air Lows, her recent album for Blackest Ever Black, that’s seen her profile rise. The LP channels chilly electronics that shift from high drama cold wave to ambient meditations which lurk almost beyond perception, like the stirrings of a panic attack. Kastel, it seems, knows how to get under your skin. File Next To: Carla dal Forno / Throbbing Gristle Our Favourite Tune: Target Where To Find Her: soundcloud.com/silviakastelWe
File Next To: HEALTH / Lost Sounds Our Favourite Tune: In My Mouth Where To Find Them: @WaxChattels
RB The sleepy London district of Forest Hill might not be the first place you’d expect to be producing the city’s most exciting RnB. But 23-year-old Congolese-British artist RB is here to prove you should never assume. Having produced for some time, RB has now moved to the other side of the mixing desk and struck up a fruitful creative partnership with producer Nav Michael, who’s best known for providing the beat for Drake’s Back to Back. Having signed with exciting Peckham label Cotch International, get to know RB’s intoxicating style of RnB as it reaches more ears. And never write off Forest Hill. File Next To: PartyNextDoor / Jeremih
James Murphy's DFA Records has released plenty of nocturnal synth music inspired by Germany's electronic pioneers, but the label's roster keeps close ties to its NYC home. Now, Perel is the first German producer to release on the label with her debut album Hermetica. Real name Annegret Fiedler, Perel's sound is informed by the kosmische and new wave textures she was exposed to growing up in the East German surroundings of Saxony. Named after ancient Greek texts containing teachings about the divine, the cosmos and nature, Hermetica sees the Berlin-based producer deliver her own pearls of wisdom – her laconic German drawl layered over slick techno, Italo and new wave to chilling effect. Schön.
File Next To: Murlo / Grimes Our Favourite Tune: Hikatteru Where To Find Her: soundcloud.com/5_lin
File Next To: Juan McClean / DAF Our Favourite Tune: Alles Where To Find Her: @perelmusic
Our Favourite Tune: Bitter Skies Where To Find Him: @ReidyBeatz
Guitarless guitar music. It shouldn’t work, but with this Kiwi power trio it totally does. Between Amanda Cheng’s overdriven bass, Peter Ruddell’s crunchy keys and Tom Leggett’s combative drumming, Wax Chattels’ music is immensely heavy despite the absence of six-string shredding, while their rhythmic agility is probably down to their years spent studying jazz performance at Auckland University. Having won praise for their spaced-out Gillian Anderson tribute single from The X-Files actor herself, Wax Chattels recently signed a joint deal with Captured Tracks and legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun. Intrigued? Keep an eye out for the band’s ferocious debut album next month.
Rin Suemistu is a Japaneseborn singer, producer, dancer and performance artist creating playful, futuristic pop soundscapes that sound as though they belong in an alternate universe or a fast-paced video game. Bouncy rhythms converge with saccharine-sweet vocals and a clear J pop influence percolates throughout her Momo EP, released in 2017 via Belgian label Midlife Music. The title is inspired by the popular Japanese folk tale, where a boy, named Momotaro, came to earth inside a giant peach. He was discovered floating down a river, and he eventually saves the world. It’s not your average experience, but neither is Suemistu’s surreal, and highly danceable, explorations into another world.
Grounding himself in grime’s DIY tradition, the Lewisham MC maps out the culture on his independent debut album
Your debut album’s finally here – it’s been a long time coming. Yeah, man. I’ve been working on a lot of songs - I’ve got songs that are coming out now that I started producing in 2013, 2014. I’m very happy to show the world what I’m about. I’m a very pedantic guy, myself – I have to have the magic touch on everything, and make sure that my music’s exactly how I want it to sound. There’s some songs that didn’t take more than half an hour to make, and some that took me three and a half years. That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s a much more diverse record than a lot of people will probably be expecting. Was that the aim? My whole life I’ve been producing all types of music. I’ve got some old ‘80s pop beats on my computer that I made ages ago. All types of genres. So I wanted to be expressive in that way. I produce as well; I can engineer; I can sing, if I choose to. This is more about showing people Nov’s much more of a package than what you may know him to be. I feel like I can be so much stuff now, and it puts me above the average level of just being able to pick up a mic and spit. You’ve taken it as indie as you can go: you’ve got your own label. Is that something that you want to stick to – being in control? Yeah, for me there’s no reason why I can’t keep it that way. In this music game, the whole time that I’ve been here, I haven’t moved position. I’ve
stayed in the same place. But what’s happened is the congregation around me has just got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. I don’t feel like I’ve jumped from scene to scene, I haven’t done anything untoward. I’m just stationary, and I feel like my label is a part of the foundation that keeps me stationary. If anyone wants to come and visit, they can come and visit! But I’m always going to make noise from my corner. The way grime exploded a couple of years back, was it weird for you, suddenly all these people trying to get involved? Not for me. I know why it exploded, but most people won’t know why it exploded. It’s just another thing for me to observe, and take understanding from, and apply to whatever I’m doing.
The first time you see the blueprint of what makes what pop off… that’s a lot of power to have! And I’ve got that. I know that I haven’t been making noise myself, but it’s all part of timing for when I’m ready to make noise. And now my album’s dropping? It’s peaked. All the pieces are in place. Every piece is on the board, but not every piece moves at the same time. And the king piece moves the least! Novelist Guy is released 13 April via Mmm Yeh Records
Interview by: Tom Connick
Earrings: Vanessa Mooney Pearl collar: Kim Shui Bodysuit : Kim Shui
036 Words: Aly Comingore Photography: Molly Matalon Styling: Ashley Guerzon
It takes three bars of Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody to get Kali Uchis hyped. Sat among flowers in photographer Molly Matalone’s LA apartment, Uchis looks like she’s been plucked right out of a painting. Her eyes are dark and shimmering, her hair is slicked, curled, and not an inch out of place. As she idly scrolls through a phone, the 24-year-old insists we find the right soundtrack before the cover shoot begins. Then that familiar synth line kicks in. Uchis’ manager starts singing and she flashes a smile. It’s go time. As the night goes on, little dance parties break out all around the apartment. At one point Uchis climbs and straddles an old painter’s ladder as Janet Jackson’s Control blasts out of the nearby speaker. She’s laughing as she angles her stiletto-clad feet and steadies herself, but when the camera is on her, she’s all business. From up above, she bats her eyelashes and serves looks with the confidence of a 90s supermodel. Later she changes into a massive choker and strikes a pose as Madonna’s Material Girl starts playing. “I feel attacked,” she deadpans as everyone erupts in laughter. It comes as no surprise that Kali Uchis' pump-up playlist is a stream of beltable songs by iconic women. Uchis is becoming somewhat iconic in her own right, with her bold style, brassy spirit, and unmistakably rich voice. To her fans worldwide, Uchis is also a vital role model – a strong Colombian woman who’s proud of her culture and her sexuality. Her songs are often selfsustaining anthems of empowerment, elegant vignettes about striking out on your own and knowing your worth and not needing a man. In her music videos, Uchis plays motorbike-riding hustlers, power suit-wearing newscasters, and the kind of women who shove the guy who wronged them in the trunk of their car. In the promo photos for her first EP, she posed in the desert wearing all white, a suitcase in one hand and a rifle in the other.
“I like to reinvent myself,” Uchis tells me, puffing on a spliff in the kitchen after the shoot. She’s bundled in a floor-length puffer jacket and wearing pink-hued sunglasses. Nowadays, Uchis’ look falls somewhere between retro-future, California pin-up, Valley of
the Dolls glam, and Sade. “I just like to have fun and express myself through the physical, regardless of what it is.” Kali Uchis (born Karly Loaiza) may be the queen of reinvention, but she’s been an artist for as long as she can remember. She was born and raised in Virginia alongside three brothers. Her parents are both Colombian immigrants, who fled their home country in the early 90s to escape the escalating violence and political unrest caused by a decades-long war between the Colombian government and the far-left guerilla group known as FARC. Uchis says she spent much of her childhood travelling back and forth to South America to visit family, and she still considers Colombia home. As a kid, she loved books and at one point aspired to work in a library and read to children. “I also wanted to join the circus,” she laughs, “just so I could infiltrate and set all the animals free. That was going to be my life’s work.” As she got older, Uchis started writing poetry and short stories. In her teens she played piano and joined her high school jazz band. “Making things made me feel really close to myself and close to God,” she says. “Growing up, it gave me a really strong sense of power. It was never about being a singer or a star or anything. I just always felt like I had to make something, I had to create something and put it out there to make myself feel alive.” In spite of her creative spirit, Uchis struggled in school. She’d skip classes to work on her photography and often butt heads with authority figures. “I believe in education, but I don’t believe that the way schools do it is for everybody,” she tells me. “In high school I just felt like nobody could teach me art, nobody could teach me how to be a creative person.” Intent on getting her GED certificate – the minimum requirement for graduating high school in the US – and getting out of there, Uchis took a job at a grocery store and sold clothes to make extra cash. At 17, she was kicked out of her family’s house following an argument with her dad. Headstrong, she vowed to make it work. During the day Uchis would go to school. At night she’d crash at friends’ houses or sleep in her car.
Top: Knorts Bottoms: Knorts Hand warmers: Knorts Earrings: Vanessa Mooney Mini evil eye necklace:: Vanessa Mooney Choker: Madame Baloge All other jewelry: Model's Own
Kali Uchis hustled hard to make it as a musician. Now, a generation is in love with her timeless style.
Blouse: Kim Shui Pants: Knorts Pearl hoop earrings: Madame Baloge Cross choker: Vanessa Mooney Mini evil eye necklace: Vanessa Mooney All other jewelry: Model's Own
Blouse: Kim Shui Pearl hoop earrings: Madame Baloge Cross choker: Vanessa Mooney Mini evil eye necklace: Vanessa Mooney All other jewelry: Model's Own
â€œEmbrace who you are. Your heart and your soul are not defined by stereotypes or expectationsâ€? MUSIC
After high school, Uchis released 2012’s Drunken Babble mixtape – a laidback and woozy mix of RnB and hip-hop that found Uchis speakrapping on many of the tracks. She codirected the 2013 video for What They Say, a moody homage to West Coast lowrider culture that features the singer and her two friends stealing a guy’s car, riding around Los Angeles and smoking weed. A few months after the video dropped, Snoop Dogg reached out to propose they collaborate. The result, On Edge, ended up on Snoop’s 2014 mixtape, That’s My Work, Vol. 3, and introduced Uchis to a whole new world of listeners. She began working with Tyler, the Creator, who called called on Uchis to sing on his 2015 album Cherry Bomb. The two have remained close friends and collaborators ever since: Uchis is featured on his 2017 LP Flower Boy, while Tyler contributed a verse to the single After the Storm from her debut album Isolation. 2015’s Por Vida EP was filled with the themes that have become Kali’s calling card: coy, take-no-bullshit lines about self-discovery and self-empowerment. And the lyrics on Isolation are some of the most regenerative and uplifting she's written. On After the Storm Uchis coos a heartfelt message of self-love: “If you need a hero/ Just look in the mirror/ No one's gonna save you now/ So you better save yourself.” “I think we live in a world that profits and thrives off of our insecurities and self-doubt,” she tells me. “So to truly love yourself in this world that’s constantly telling you not to, telling you that you’re not good enough, is so important.” In a lot of ways, this is the message at the heart of Isolation: that true love, and true happiness, can only come from within. “I think being viewed as alone or isolated is too often conceived as negative,” Uchis says. “Isolation to me means giving yourself the space emotionally and mentally to heal, grow, create, reinvent, tap into your intuitive senses and your truest self.”
Still, Uchis is hesitant to talk too much about her famous friends, or her rising profile. She tells me she used to struggle with the idea of being a public figure, but she’s slowly learning how to not think about it. “I feel like I had to go through an adjustment period,” she explains. “I’m a very passionate person and I also have a very bad temper. I used to try and fight with everybody. If I felt like someone stole something from me or made me out to be something that I wasn’t, I’d be like, ‘Oh, fuck that person.’ And then you kind of just get used to the fact that everybody has their opinions. It’s like, you could be the ripest peach and there’s still gonna be people who don’t like peaches, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“I feel like I went through a long time where it was really hard for me to be happy,” she says. “I feel like as I’ve gotten older I learned how to navigate it better and control it better and filter everything in a way where I know what to do with it, and I feel like I’m in a place now where I feel the most womanly I’ve ever felt, and the most powerful I’ve ever felt.”
Isolation is a masterclass in contemporary soul music. It credits the likes of Thundercat, Damon Albarn, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and the Dap-Kings, while vocal contributors include reggaeton superstar Reykon, The Internet’s Steve Lacy, ascendant British artist Jorja Smith and Bootsy Collins. “It was very humbling,” she says of working with the funk legend. “We were in his house and there were photos everywhere of all these iconic moments in American culture. It was like, ‘Oh shit, that looks fucking crazy, and I wasn’t even born then.’ He’s a timeless classic soul, and if I had been that age back then, I feel like we still would have worked together.”
As evening turns to night in our makeshift photo studio and Uchis and her makeup artist sing along to a steady stream of karaoke hits, it’s hard not to believe her. Tomorrow she’ll fly to Paris to continue the endless stream of promotion for Isolation, then to Colombia to be with her family before the record drops. The idea of keeping normal work hours or a healthy sleep schedule in the coming months isn’t really an option. But in this moment, she doesn’t seem to mind much. “So many people are blinded by what’s going on right here and right now, and the reality is the best part of your life probably hasn’t even happened yet,” she tells me. “Constantly reminding myself of that finally got me to a place where, you know, I don’t feel good all the time, but I’ve learned to choose happiness.” Isolation is released 6 April via Virgin EMI
Uchis goes on to tell me candidly that mental illness runs in her family, and that she's struggled with depression herself. She says that up until recently, her family didn’t really understand what she was doing with her life, but ever since her 2017 duet with popular Colombian artist Juanes, they’ve been very supportive. In the last few months, she’s also dealt with her fair share of online haters, many of whom have raised issue with the fact that she identified as a brown Latina. “Being Latinx, being proud of your roots and where you come from, is something that no one can take away from you no matter how hard they try,” she says. “I like to know everyday that I am making my ancestors proud and that they are guiding and protecting me. It will always be a part of [me]. It’s important to remember that being Latinx comes in every colour, shape, and personality. So embrace who you are. Your heart and your soul are not defined by stereotypes or expectations.” Rather than dwelling on the negative, Uchis says she’s finally gotten to a point in her life where she feels like she’s choosing to focus on the positive – on creating art and having fun “before everything goes to shit.”
Top: Knorts Bottoms: Knorts Hand warmers: Knorts Earrings: Vanessa Mooney Mini evil eye necklace:: Vanessa Mooney Choker: Madame Baloge All other jewelry: Model's Own
To this day, she says she credits her father with helping her find an artistic purpose. “My dad is the hardest worker I know,” she says. “He had a fourth grade education and still managed to come to America, do all his own shit, and take care of everyone in our family. Even though he works hard everyday, he does things that make him happy. I really sympathise with people who haven’t found that thing, that purpose. Your purpose doesn’t have to be about your career, but there’s no point to living life if you’re not doing anything that makes you happy. It really gives you greater insight into why people are miserable or angry or insecure.”
With the responsibility of footworkâ€™s legacy on his shoulders, the young producer is unlocking new sounds with his imagination
“Certain people don’t get footwork. But it resonates so hard with me. There’s still no other vibe like it”
DJ Taye didn’t always dream of being a musician. “I used to want to be an astronaut,” he explains, “until my auntie told me I couldn’t do that. Like on some ‘if you go, you won’t ever make it back’ type of shit.” He laughs at the memory now, and he has no regrets about the vocation that never was. “I can just be in space in my music.” The 23-year-old Chicago-born, LAbased artist certainly drifts towards new territories on Still Trippin’, his debut LP for Hyperdub. The record throws up plenty of nods to Taye’s interstellar aspirations: the launch sequence of arpeggios on single Trippin’; the neon synthwork of Same Sound; titles that evoke both the near future (the chilled, funky opener 2094) and the far future (the minimal interlude 9090).
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dancers, remains divisive. “Certain people get it, certain people don’t get it,” Taye says. “It resonates so hard with me… there’s still no other vibe like it.” DJ Taye became enchanted by footwork when he first heard it as a kid on a mixtape he’d found with friend and collaborator Desmond Penn. “We made a goofy dance to it [but] didn’t know what the fuck we were doing,” he remembers. After downloading Fruity Loops, Taye started out crafting hip-hop beats and uploading them to SoundCloud predecessor Soundclick. Soon, his friends started footworking, and he learned about local elders DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn and the Ghettotekz crew – which would become Teklife. “This is some crazy-ass music,” he remembers thinking. “My beats were already weird and spacey, so I was fucking with the vibe of it.”
Still Trippin’ also emphasises the versatility of his chosen genre. DJ Taye has been positioned as one of footwork’s bright young things since the beginning of the decade and the album sees him swiftly fluctuate between different vibes. With THCinfluenced psychedelic textures, densely-programmed percolators and meditations that embrace white space; clipped dance floor instructions in the ghetto house tradition and AutoTunewarped rap vocals, Taye envisions everyone from his pre-teen cousins to footwork veterans finding something to love here.
Having joined Teklife in 2010, DJ Taye turned out a handful of self-released EPs and albums that established him as one of the anchors of the crew’s second generation alongside fellow Chicagoans DJ Earl and DJ Manny. On his 2015 Hyperdub debut, the Break It Down EP, Taye connected with out-of-town newcomers DJ Paypal and Tripletrain on ragged battle tracks and soul-sampling mind-expanders. 2016’s moody Move Out EP showed off Taye’s gifts for woozy synth melodies (on the title track) and featured the poignantsounding masterpiece Burnin’ Ya Boa.
In many ways, Still Trippin' is the decades-long culmination of the complex footwork genre, which emerged to soundtrack Chicago dance crews in the wake of ghetto house and juke music at the turn of the millennium, before reaching wider acclaim and global audiences in the early 2010s. Still, footwork, with its intense drum patterns designed to challenge
No stranger to collaborations, Still Trippin’ sees Taye looking outside the box for talents that help him explore new corners of footwork. Cool Kids rapper Chuck Inglish is a natural fit on Get It Jukin, Jersey club star Uniiqu3 brings her infectious energy to Gimme Some Mo, and Odile Myrtil (a Montreal vocalist who also appeared on Rizzla's Iron Cages) adds a delicate
counterpoint on Same Sound. Perhaps the most unexpected guest is Fabi Reyna, the editor-in-chief of women’s guitar magazine She Shreds, who met Taye at a Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp residency. On I Don't Know, Reyna contributes bass guitar and some reverb-heavy riffage. With its experimental, collaborative spirit, Still Trippin' proudly continues the legacy created by footwork's elder statesmen. And as with everything Teklife, DJ Rashad’s influence and presence looms large, four years after his untimely passing. “You can feel how we miss him, you can feel his energy through the album,” Taye says, a somber tone in his voice. “I’m just pushing as hard as I can for him, his son, his legacy. That’s the best I can do for my friend.” Still Trippin’ is out now via Hyperdub
Words: Chris Kelly Photography: Thomas Chatt Styling: Mhya Mclean
Turtleneck: Calvin Klein Jacket: Prada
Amongst a demanding tour schedule and the pressure to follow up a hit album, the DJ/producer has never stopped searching for that special feeling
Daniel Avery is a habitual secondguesser. You might not expect it, as these spurts of low confidence are incongruous with his poised presence in techno’s big leagues. This does, however, go some way to explain the lengthy and unintended pause between Avery’s 2013 breakout LP Drone Logic and this month’s follow-up, Song for Alpha. He hasn’t been entirely silent this whole time; fans of Avery’s signature psychedelicelectronic sound could get their fix through a pair of EPs released as part of side-project Rote. But as a solo artist, he went through the ringer working out the fine details of the next major statement he wanted to make. Six albums worth of material got discarded during the process – though he thankfully stopped short of the full Chinese Democracy. The bouts of skittish self-assessment also give clues as to why Avery keeps so many plates spinning at any one time. Admitting that he’s still yet to settle into a comfortable niche no matter what he does, he cycles through multiple ventures partly to avoid being pigeonholed. If he took an easy road now and again, or at least stopped
swerving between lanes out of fear of stalling, he’d likely have a more harmonious life. “Sure, there’s a lot of anxieties that go with all this,” he admits. “What if it falls on its face, and I’m over by next week? But as long as you do stuff on your own terms, you can’t really lose.” Nervous hyperactivity hasn’t hurt his career, though it might be exerting a physical and mental toll. When we meet – holed up at Avery’s favourite pub as the majority of the UK seems to be submerged in snow, both shivering despite being swaddled in coats and scarves – he apologies for being frazzled by an intense schedule. There’s a typical thrum of activity: DJ sets are booked at venues across the world for the next six months, many of them start-to-close marathons. His second BBC Essential Mix landed just days after another NTS Radio residency slot; both consciously avoided a rote 4/4 route. His curation at cherished French festival Nuits Sonores was unveiled, looking very much like an extension of his earlier Divided Love parties. It features a white-hot cast of contemporary club destroyers (Helena Hauff, Nobu, Lena Willikens et al), as well as some
exploration of the outer reaches, from live acts Tropic of Cancer and Nine Inch Nails’ hardware warrior Alessandro Cortini (Avery has been a fanboy since his teens). All this is happening at the same time as Song for Alpha’s promo push. On a purely categorisation level, the polished chrome of Drone Logic and the icy blue flame of his DJ-Kicks mix will be easier to place than the orange-purple hues and non-linear flow of the new LP. He shows off a broader array of influences compared to the consistent clubby lurch of the debut. There’s an expanded sonic vocabulary at play; it floats as much as it pummels. Song for Alpha doubles up as a cumulation of learned experiences over the past five years of Avery’s life. A light/dark contrast mirrors his experience on the road, shuttling between blinking airport lounges and strobing dancefloors. “Making the album was a necessary distraction from what was happening at the weekend,” Avery recalls. “It was a space to breathe.” The calm retreats on the record, he concedes, “were made for me, first and foremost.”
Words: Gabriel Szatan Photography: Tom Andrew Grooming & Make up: Charli Avery Styling: Davey Sutton
Songs for Alpha's dynamics might throw first-time listeners, with mesmeric techno assaults folding into ambient lullabies in a shuffled manner. These interludes will bookend each side of vinyl for the physical pressing, something Avery hopes will feel “like natural chapters of a novel”.
“There’s a lot of anxieties that go with this. What if it falls on its face and I’m over by next week? But as long as you do stuff on your own terms, you can’t really lose.”
T-Shirt: Helmut Lang Trousers: Balenciaga
“The actual, final flurry of creativity came pretty fast,” he says of the album. “The rush of excitement when it did was utterly addictive and euphoric.” That provoked an identical feeling to being in the pocket during a home-run gig, “when it’s almost like the room is selecting records for you, and you feel you can’t do anything wrong”. This is when Avery knew he finally had it down. Avery, rocking back and forth on the pub sofa either through twitchiness or the biting cold, is at his most animated and comfortable when talking about what inspires him. Interestingly, he’s keener to tackle the topic of DJing rather than the album which took half a decade of his life. His mood feels typical of someone with over 10 years under wing on the tour circuit. Having stared out from behind the controls for so long, he now values the shared energy of a communal gathering, or the importance of carving out solace from a meanspirited world. But the positives – a breakthrough wave of DJs with something different to say, and an uptick in audience appreciation for slowburns and left-turns – stand in stark contrast to what he’s increasingly fatigued by: the dickswinging. “It is one of the most tiresome sights in dance music, isn’t it? A load of DJs, usually blokes, lining up with their headphones and their USBs, instantly giving it some behind the decks, as if to say, “oh it’s my turn to smash it now!” That fucking bores me to tears.” Avery spends a fair part of our afternoon bloodletting over the inane posturing, the fighting for bill placement, and the general collateral faff surrounding club culture.
The problem is, Avery is very much ensconced within that world. He spends a lot of time trying to punch out of the circuit DJ mould, but kowtows to some of its opportunities, too. Drone Logic ended up being the hit record
that kept hitting. If you subscribe to Daniel Avery’s online presence, it’s not hard to become desensitised to monochrome videos of his old bangers still circulating. Isn’t this playing the same zero-sum game of DJ dominance he rails against? It’s not quite as black and white as that. Even if he didn’t want to make another Drone Logic, he’s still proud of its impact and longevity. It’s kept him in rotation, and acted as something of a smokescreen while he finessed a better idea of where he wanted to go next. Five years is a very long time in electronic music: see LCD Soundsystem’s entire interregnum for proof. Now, a welter of ideas lay ahead: art installations, live plans, “a body of work” he wants to build up now the pressure of the sophomore LP has been hurdled. “I kind of want to get off this DJ merry-go-round,” he says, though I’m not sure I fully believe him on this. There's a sense that the initial connection Avery forged with fellow British psychonauts Erol Alkan and Andrew Weatherall was not simply over a shared sound or style, but shared sensibilities too. Weatherall doesn’t take any weekday shows at all; Alkan can dip in and out of dance music at a scale that suits him, comfortable with a mega-festival or a regional sweatbox. Both have broad and respected catalogues, both sit slightly above the mire, and both have a finessed relationship with their audience. They offer a roadmap to what Daniel Avery might really be after: some peace at the eye of the storm. But for the moment, with more flexibility, maybe Avery will be more at ease with his lot. “I’ve been given enough confidence by the last five years to think the next stage could be truly exciting,” he enthuses. We won’t have to wait long to found out. Songs for Alpha is released 6 April via Phantasy Daniel Avery appears at Field Day, London, 1-2 June
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Jun glepus s
The sex-positive rapper indulges in a healthy dose of self-love
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Earrings: NANA Amsterdam Gloves: Ninamounah Boa: Stylist's own
Words: Felicity Martin Photography: Alex de Mora Styling: JeanPaul Paula Hair Stylist: Nuriye Sönmez using Leonor Greyl Make Up Artist: Mary-Jane Gotidoc
But as the hair stylist sprays and teases the puffy circles of the ponytail into place, the Brooklyn rapper discusses her European tour with far less enthusiasm. “Navigating through these countries has been the hardest thing I ever did in my life,” she says. Weaving through Belgium, Germany, France and beyond, it culminated in a show in Dalston last night. “As a black woman and for my DJ, who’s also a black woman, the racism was on levels I’ve never ever experienced before.” The smile has faded. “In America we’re very vocal about it, but over here it’s disgusting,” she continues. “We got harassed way too much. Just by the locals. We could just be sitting there listening to our headphones and we’re a threat. I'm happy I completed [the tour] ‘cos I didn't think I could…” The London leg of Junglepussy’s tour did offer her some much-needed breathing space. She stole the show at Little Simz’s Welcome To Wonderland II festival in Camden’s Roundhouse, an event ‘experience’ that included a lecture by Riz Ahmed and free haircuts alongside a diverse line-up of Simz’s favourite musicians. “That really helped me finish the rest of the tour. I was like, ‘This is what matters, the people, the art, the creation coming together...” Junglepussy, real name Shayna McHayle, is very much in the business
of self-love. The rapper of Trinidadian/ Jamaican parents radiates selfconfidence, fashioning empowering, bravado-filled rap which squares up to a world of patriarchy and white supremacy. Her cut-throat, unapologetic witticisms have attracted a following that includes Erykah Badu, and provoked tweets like ‘College has made me wise but @JUNGLEPUSSY has made me wiser’. It’s a manifesto that can be summed up by one of her best-loved lyrics; “Pussy muscle hustle”, now a feminist call to arms. It’s been a minute since the independent artist dropped her last solo project – 2015’s Pregnant With Success, which was preceded by 2014’s Satisfaction Guaranteed. With the #metoo movement, coupled with seismic shifts in global politics, a lot has changed since 2015. But for Junglepussy, the weight isn’t on her shoulders to confront these topics – not directly, anyway – on her new album JP3. “I’ve been feeling everything, really digesting it all,” she says. “But I want to be authentic, and I didn’t want to get people to like me off the struggle. I want to be a representation of joy and excellence”. From the name of lead single State of the Union, you’d imagine it might tackle the Mango Mussolini currently occupying the White House. Instead, Junglepussy uses her two and a half minutes to send a direct-fire hit to all manner of haters: “You think you poppin' cause your new chick low maintenance,” it starts off. The album is her best project yet. Produced by regular collaborator Shy Guy as well as Sporting Life, the album
sees silk-sheeted RnB jams (Groovy) sit next to irresistibly funky tracks (All of You) and a slick collab with Three Six Mafia legend Gangsta Boo. Rather than being an archetypal love song, I’m n Love bluntly describes how your boyfriend isn’t answering his phone because she’s “hitting skins” with him, over cute, bouncy production. “Good ass movie but we never caught the end,” she winks. I Just Want It is a sex-positive, unashamed ode to female power in sex: “What’s love got to do with making me come?!” she asks on the track. “I was tired of complaining about guys,” she explains. “I’m not trying to dedicate my work to their mishaps or the shit they do to annoy me. I love love songs. I wanted to make music that was just about me loving myself, but it seems like I’m loving somebody else.” The day after we meet, Junglepussy drops second single Showers. As she reaches the chorus: “Shower with my chains on,” a child’s voice chirps in adorably next to hers; her three-yearold nephew, Zachary. “He went to the studio and had the time of his life,” she laughs. “We’ve been playing him the mixed version and he just, like, freaks out when he hears it. He starts running all around the place and gets shy. It’s so cute.” Zachary even helped his auntie out by painting the single’s artwork in bold primary colours. “When we do the New York show I’ll have to get the kiddie
soundproof headphones and bring him out on stage,” she says, before adding: “I’m not gonna pressure him!” Having been invited to give talks at Ivy League schools Yale and Columbia recently, Junglepussy can now add acting to her ever-expanding CV. She’s starring in upcoming film Support The Girls, which has just had its SXSW premiere. Directed by Andrew Bujalski, she plays single mother Danyelle. “I don't wanna give it away, but I just stand up against all the fuckery.” “That experience changed my life,” she continues. “I just wanna see what else is inside of me, ‘cos I never planned to do music. I never planned to act. But yeah, I'm just going with the motions. Just growing. Just learning myself as I go along the way.” JP3 is released 5 April Junglepussy appears at Melt Festival, 13-15 July, Ferropolis, Germany
While the sounds of dancehall artist Konshens fill a north London photography studio, Junglepussy is getting a wig fitted. Two gently curled strands hang by her face, and she pauses to flash a glowing smile to show much she loves it.
054 Chains: Model's Own Earrings: NANA amsterdam Underwear set: Pure Romance Gloves: ROB amsterdam Cargo pants: Custom JoahnPaula
Sunglasses: Oakley Chains: Model's Own Earrings: NANA Amsterdam Bikini top: Ashley Williams Shorts: Ashley Williams Coat: The North Face Shoes: Custom JoahnPaula
“I’ve been feeling everything, really digesting it all. But I didn’t want to get people to like me off the struggle. I want to be a representation of joy and excellence”
A new film about Act Up-Paris remembers how the protestors forced the world to address the AIDS epidemic, reminding us that thereâ€™s a lot more fighting to be done
059 Robin Campillo, director of 120 BPM
“For 10 years, the community was so silent. Act Up felt like a new freedom”
Words: Douglas Greenwood
Back then, the LGBTQ+ community, sex workers and drug users were in a biological chokehold; forced to face their own mortality as HIV spread somewhat silently throughout the city and beyond. But to make sure the masses didn’t forget about it, audacious protesters played dead, strewn across the forecourt of Notre Dame carrying signs that read ‘Silence = Death’, and throwing fake blood on the gates of the Elysée Palace. There was a movement forming; politicians and priests dreaded the protesters’ presence. Manifesting on the streets of New York in 1987 before crossing borders to reach other countries, Act Up reached Paris in the summer of 1989 thanks to a trio of friends: Didier Lestrade, Pascal Loubetand and Luc Coulavin. Their tenacity fuelled the formation of one of the city’s most visible protest groups, and Paris felt stronger for it. Whether we’re discussing the French or the global situation, a strange, almost villainous homophobia existed back then. There was a fear of ideals – of the so-called “gay cancer” that actually permeated all creeds, classes and sexualities in society – that made
many people uncomfortable. But Act Up forced politicians to address LGBTQ+ issues. It wasn’t unusual for the the group’s members to congregate around high schools that refused to support contraception and distribute condoms themselves, or to hold impromptu lectures on how to practise safe sex to students. Robin Campillo, the writer and director of the group’s widely celebrated and award-winning biopic 120 BPM, walked into his first Act Up meeting in lieu of a rendez-vous. His other half failed to show up, and having been fascinated by the group’s militant and forceful approach to AIDS campaigning for the past year or two, he felt compelled to take part. He was met with the antithesis of what he had come to expect: a family of angry and yet triumphant campaigners. “I had to ask myself: where is the disease?,” Robin tells me over the phone from Paris. “But it showed later. After weeks and weeks of going, I was shocked by the [extra] dimension of the group, but there was a jubilation that came from the fact that for 10 years, the community was so silent. It felt like a new freedom. It made us stronger.” There’s this kinetic energy that flows through 120 BPM. By turns sobering and upsetting, miraculous and beautiful, it paints a picture of Act Up-Paris that sheds light on their bravery, reminding us that we’re in a better place now because of them. In a social era that actively
tried to silence the voices of those suffering from AIDS, there was no other way to be heard than to be loud. Polite discussion wasn’t getting the community anywhere fast, and Act Up’s confrontational approach got people talking. But for all of its political power, there’s still something indelibly sexy about BPM: a film that explores both the perils of queer existence as well as its more riveting and intimate moments. Effortlessly, the film weaves protests with a potent love story between two Act Up activists: one suffering from AIDS, the other disease-free. It’s a proudly queer and loving collaboration, so alive it wound up winning six Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscars) in March. Nowadays, with drugs like PReP (a course of medication that can stop HIV infecting a person exposed to it) proving that there’s more than one preventative method in reducing new HIV cases, people might question why groups like Act Up still need to exist. “But I don’t see the political will from the prime minister to make all of these new methods [like PReP] efficient,” Robin tells me of the situation in France, dwelling on the fact that in Eastern Europe, contraception is still dangerously expensive. “Today, it’s Act Up’s role to make politicians understand that we have the chance to control the epidemic.” London’s arm of Act Up told me they
found 120 BPM “heart-wrenching and inspiring” when they saw it, and revealed they’re marking the film’s UK arrival with a rejuvenated call for change. “We will be strengthening, educating and supporting our community,” said Act Up’s Dan Glass. “[We want to] confront the root causes of the privatisation of the NHS through a series of creative art-interventions and civil disobedience, which will ultimately empower our movement.” There’s a reason that famous slogan – “Silence = Death” – is still boldly printed on placards and t-shirts today; because without groups like Act Up, or films like 120 BPM, how would we be reminded that complacency is so often a killer? For a new generation of queer people, sex workers and drug users that are still exposed to the dangers of HIV and AIDS, engaging with these activists – both on screen and off – will leave you feeling hopeful, rather than victimised. That fear may be lifting, but there’s still progress to be made yet. 120 BPM is released in UK cinemas on 6 April
When you’re feared by the world, your power is immeasurable. This was understood by Act Up-Paris, the angry and jubilant collective that spent the 80s and 90s forcing people to recognise the danger of the AIDS epidemic.
The Amsterdam-based DJ explores the sensations that words canâ€™t capture
Glasses: Neil in Matte Black, Ace & Tate
062 Glasses: Neil in Matte Black, Ace & Tate
“With certain harmonies, melodies or rhythms, you feel comfortable suddenly, and you don’t know why”
Lena Willikens grew up in a bowl – a grey valley poured full with smog and obscured by tall walls. Stuttgart, home to drivers of Porsches and Mercedes Benz. Down in the valley the people could not see beyond themselves, but she could. She could see much further. She could see through the scumbled sky to cities bristling with lights. She could see the ground was shifting. On the morning we meet in Amsterdam, we start the day with croissants, dipped into large cups of black coffee, between long cigarettes. The city is her new home, and today it’s cold but sparkling. After years bouncing between Cologne and Düsseldorf, she has been drawn to the Dutch capital by its small and supportive scene. It’s the next chapter in a career that has been characterised by movement. Whether Berlin, Montreal or Kyoto, Willikens is used to finding the good record stores, getting to know the interesting people: pulled in different directions by an evergrowing network of club owners, selectors and artists, who in turn gravitate towards her unique creative vision.
Words: Angus Harrison Photography: Mike Chalmers
It was in Düsseldorf, as an art student in the mid-00s, where Willikens made her first connections as one of a small circle of DJs who founded the Salon Des Amateurs, a modest venue in the bar of an art gallery. She started work there as a bouncer in 2006, soon moving to behind the bar, where she began to play records between serving drinks. Before long she was booking acts and holding down her own residency. The Salon Des Amateurs, named so in admiration of hobbyists – those who love what they do – was the first venue Willikens ever played. As a space it escapes clear definition, equal parts bar, café, arts space and nightclub, a fluidity that informed her own attitudes towards clubbing. “Salon was never about becoming a proper DJ, technique. It was always about sharing music,” she explains. She reifies spontaneity, describing the club as a place where the unexpected always happened.
Willikens is a genreless DJ, who works instead with mood and colour. Her identity as a selector is complex and multifaceted, but also simple in her unflinching commitment to the new.
She vows never to repeat mixes or transitions, and refuses where possible to have her sets recorded. “It’s about this particular moment,” she qualifies. “It’s one thing we experience together. I don’t want to try and repeat it.” She also claims little interest in showing her audience a good time – “I’m not so much into escapism” – preferring an experience that triggers more abstruse emotions, perhaps even discomfort. Her most recent project, a collaboration with Sarah Szczesny (the artist behind Cómeme Records’ aesthetic), was devised as part of a Goethe Institut residency in Kyoto. The audio-visual performance that combines a mix with snippets of films and spoken word. She describes the Phantom Kino Ballett as radio-drama. Willikens and Szczesny even venture into the crowd in costume, blaring field recordings from moveable speakers through dry-ice and strobes. “It’s an energy exchange,” she explains, when asked what she’s trying to realise. “I can’t just give, I need something back.” Provocation runs in the family. Her father, Ben Willikens, is a painter. His most famous work dates back to 1979: a reimagining of Da Vinci’s last supper as an empty table without Jesus or any disciples, caused uproar when he completed it. The church denounced it, and on its first exhibition one protestor even attempted to slash at the canvas with a blade. Her mother was an architect, who largely gave up work to raise her two daughters. As we talk about her past – her childhood in Stuttgart, a place she describes as a valley full of “shortsighted” people – Willikens relishes the power of memory and its inexorable relationship to music. “Why does everyone I know like the smell of gasoline?” she asks. “It’s because when you were a kid and on the road with your parents, you might get a nice chocolate bar or an ice cream at the gas station. This works with certain harmonies, melodies or rhythms as well. You feel comfortable suddenly, and you don’t know why.” It’s with her radio series for Cómeme, Sentimental Flashback, that she has achieved this best. Across the show’s 31 episodes, Willikens showcased tracks from across the globe, new and old, connected by her loose definition of the word ‘sentimental’. You’d be hard pushed to find a show that does esoteric listening music better. If crowds increasingly know her exclusively as a peak-time DJ, it adds an important dimension to her power as a selector. After all, Lena Willikens is a sentimental DJ. Not sentimental in the traditional cloying sense, but sentimental in
terms of the materials she uses. She understands that the human experience is neither light nor dark, something the dancefloor should reflect. Her work explores the unknowable spaces between: “Certain feelings don’t need intellectual proof.” While she hasn’t recognised a notable shift in her fortunes, it seems fair to say Willikens' stature as an international DJ is only going to rise – her profile growing with every radio show, every major festival appearance. Her magnetic presence is pricking attention outside of the confines of sweatbox clubs too, having recently been chosen as a face of Ace and Tate’s 'Me Myself and I' campaign, alongside Eglo Records' Fatima and Mona Morssy from hardcore outfit Vile Act, which highlights the complexity of identity by celebrating creative spirits who refuse to be defined. It's clear to see why Willikens is an enticing prospect for such a project – an artistic outsider who occupies her own space in the electronic music landscape, whose sound invites her audience to explore the power of amorphous, in-between spaces. Willikens is also preparing to release her contribution to the Dekmantel Selectors series – a double vinyl compilation comprised of unreleased tracks and rare oddities from her archive. In the liner notes, she describes the collection as resembling a “little trip through the dunes”, an image she clarifies in person as ground where you can dance but it might be challenging. “The best things I’ve experienced in DJ sets have been when I’ve been sober but was tripping only through the music,” she continues. “That’s the ideal goal, that you don’t need hallucinogenics.” She raises a smoke to her mouth, before succumbing to laughter. “But that’s also nice sometimes.” It’s heartening to know Europe still exists somewhere; that pools of artists still collect in riverside bars to talk about sculpture and play post-kraut records. That DJ-turned-performers can drift from Cologne to Amsterdam in pursuit of good parties and interesting spaces. In this sense Lena Willikens will forever be an art student. Forever smoking cigarettes, forever gathering sounds from the edges of the world. Tripping on the dunes, never standing still. Lena Willikens' Selectors 005 compilation is released 16 April via Dekmantel
Sunglasses: Paul in Spaceman, Ace & Tate
Crack Magazine has collaborated with David Rudnick on an exclusive collection born from the rave, destined for the bargain bin For David Rudnick, there's a dialogue that oscillates between music, images, sound, textures and spaces. Having created visuals for producers such as Evian Christ and Nicolas Jaar, over the years Rudnick has consistently fused his visual practice with sound, each informing the other in perfect symbiosis. Rudnick is also the designer behind our latest merch collaboration, which captures the intensity and euphoria of the jungle genre. Accompanying the merch is Rudnick’s We Live As One mix, a cross-genre exercise which ties vintage and contemporary sounds with the thread of exhilarating jungle beats, celebrating the genre’s heritage while restoring its future-facing ethos.
It’s often speculated that jungle derived from Britain’s working class youth in the rubble of a post-Thatcherite state. While the genre is considered by some to be a quintessentially 90s movement, for Rudnick it feels more potent than ever today, mirroring the current climate of political unrest in a digital age. “We live in a quite chaotic
time of ruin and bloom,” he says. “The world is being reshaped visually around us in quite extraordinary ways in that we're building an entirely new social model, through the way in which we're rebuilding society as a digital-first space, and re-picturing the way that images work, music works and culture works. And that's made jungle more and more relevant to me.” An embroidered patch of Max Ernst’s masterpiece Europe After the Rain embellishes Rudnick’s collaborative collection with Crack Magazine. A desolate landscape of twisted wreckage paints the scene of the post-apocalyptic image, and it’s “this idea of epic verdant ruin, of some sort of blinding beauty out of the chaos” that Rudnick sees in jungle. The ways in which the music is formed from samples and polyrhythmic snippets, layered, re-cut, and “smashed into some kind of fusion reactor to create music for the future” reflects the idea of hope rising from the wreckage – envisioning the future by remixing the past. “For some people, fluorescent yellow will be strongly identified with
rave and 90s aesthetics,” Rudnick explains. “For me, it's the idea of pairing a Roman-esque inscription – something that might be thousands of years old – with something blinding, ultra-bright. It's this idea that jungle is always new.” In Rudnick's eyes, this look isn't purely destined to live a damp life between warehouses and clammy after-hours. In fact, he would rather it was worn anywhere else – “Family dinner. Violent protest. Co-ordinated robbery. Christenings” – and he hopes the collection will retain a pure sense of wonder and discovery. “Throw it in the bin. Take it down to the charity shop,” he jokes. “I don't think there's a more beautiful, pure way to encounter something than to see it on a thrift store rack and have no fucking clue what it is or where it came from.” They belong, he says, in a “disregarded thrift store somewhere in the middle of fucking nowhere… For a designer, that's the highest I can hope for.” CrackMagazine.net/shop
Words: Vivian Yeung
Sega Bodega Words: Josie Thaddeus-Johns Photography: Jana Gerberding Styling: Lorena Maza
Trenchcoat: Dries Van Noten Shirt: Dries Van Noten
070 People get into music for all sorts of reasons, not always the most honourable. “I started DJing because I thought it looked cool,” Sega Bodega confesses, chilling on the photographer’s studio sofa in between shots. “I was 17 or 18, and the way I looked at CDJs at the time was the same way I used to look at guitars when I was ten. I knew that if I got hold of it, I would practice, and I did.” Luckily for us, the electronic musician, whose real name is Salvador Navarrete, didn’t stop at looking cool with CDJs, instead moving deeper into music production. His sound is difficult to categorise. Meandering soundscapes might juxtapose heartwarming strings with heavy, churning drums and spitfire samples – perhaps from a video game or a cartoon series. From his 2015 EP Sportswear on Activia Benz to last year’s EP Ess B on Crazylegs, his songs are clearly influenced by the bounce, climaxes and thrust of club music and yet also continually conjure up new and unexpected ambiences.
Today in Berlin, Navarrete is stepping out from behind the laptop, getting styled in Louis Vuitton and Dries
Van Noten in a courtyard studio on Karl-Marx Straße. Quite a change for someone who admits that working with the visual elements of the music industry is all quite new for him.
sounding board for his music. “They just tell me when something is shit,” he laughs. “That helps you grow. It's like therapy almost, working with other people so closely.”
“I didn't think it was going to be something I found fun, but it is,” the Ireland-born, Glasgow-raised, and London-based producer admits. He’s been getting into the idea of finding a visual aesthetic to match his music more recently, since founding collective-label NUXXE with DJ and lyricist shygirl, and French artist Coucou Chloe. “They always get so into the fashion end of things and it makes everything feel so much more like an event. Before, I wouldn’t have even thought of it. I didn't have my face on things because I felt ugly in the pictures, but I think it's important for me to get over that – it doesn't help me in any way.”
Alongside the show he does on NTS with his fellow NUXXE members, Navarrete also runs his own show on the internet radio station that is dedicated to film soundtracks, which fits the producer well, given the undeniably cinematic nature of his music. “It seems like it's where I get all my inspiration from,” he says of the medium. “Essentially a good soundtrack to a good film is just a really good music video.” Despite this, he says isn’t particularly inspired by the visual aesthetic of certain films – apart from one – The Matrix: “It looks cool as fuck.” Apparently, he has also been told that he bears a passing resemblance to Jonny Lee Miller in Hackers, from a similar era of cyberpunk cinema. “People say that I look like I try to copy him but I haven't even seen it. So maybe I'm just naturally drawn to that era without even knowing…”
It’s clear that working with the NUXXE crew has made a tangible impact on Bodega, and not just in terms of the visual focus. Indeed, he chose to put his album SS out on the NUXXE label last year. As well as being his best friends, they have been invaluable
As anyone who has watched Hackers, with its skateboarding villain and
Pacman graphics, can attest, films can also be a demonstration of how easy it is for an artwork to become simply an aesthetic product of its time. “It's always interesting to see what lasts,” Navarrete says. “Some films that are really of their time, you watch five years later, and it dates so terribly! It's the same with quite a lot of electronic music that was so important at its time.” Partly, it seems like trends move so much faster now, with movements in art, fashion and music often feeling like they’re over before they’ve even begun. It presents a tough landscape for artists who really want to make a mark. “It's interesting how quickly things move now,” Navarrete says. “But I'd like to be able to listen to my music in ten years and think that it sounds all right. I think part of it is not hiding yourself away from it, to have people connect to it in some way.” And if the cyberpunk films of the 90s can hold their value, why not the whirring, cinematic beats of Sega Bodega? Sega Bodega appears at Hyperreality festival, Vienna, 24-27 May
Next Page Coat: Ami T-shirt: Live from earth Pants: Acne Shoes: Roa
Current Page Trenchcoat: Dries Van Noten Shirt: Dries Van Noten Shoes: Roa
074 Current Page Shirt: Louis Vuitton Previous Page Trenchcoat: Dries Van Noten Shirt: Dries Van Noten Shoes: Roa
SOPHIE has remained an enigma for so long that it feels like a mirage to even see her on stage. Tonight’s venue is Heaven, an iconic gay club nestled just underneath the arches of Charing Cross station. In its cavernous main room, thunderous bass wobbles announce SOPHIE’s emergence. Her skin-tight latex dress is slashed to the thigh and is teamed with a matching cap, which hides her tight red curls. This choice of stage costume echoes her fascination with textures and materials; in her hands, undulating synths mimic the frenetic frequency of a snapped elastic band, whereas pitchshifted vocals bounce atop beats like balloons. Unsurprisingly, these frenzied soundscapes translate seamlessly into a live setting, building on top of one another at steadily increasing tempos until the entire crowd is thrashing like one giant, rhythmic wave. Impressively, SOPHIE seems to alter her outfit a little with every song. When she re-emerges with a pale pink clip-on ponytail, the crowd erupts. Without missing a beat, she performs the elaborate gymnastics of the Ponyboy choreography while the track’s sledgehammer drops and looped vocals ring throughout the building. Recent release Faceshopping is met with similar hysteria; serving as a simple yet effective commentary on artificiality in the digital age, the track is accompanied by videos of a CGI SOPHIE’s face being stretched, distorted and squashed in time with the beat. Then there’s new track Immaterial Girls, best described as a dystopian rave track with a relentless tempo. The night reaches its emotional climax with fan favourite It’s Okay To Cry, a tender, vulnerable electronic ballad which sees SOPHIE utilise her own vocals as opposed to recruiting a guest. The single also marks the first instance of the star allowing herself to be fully visible in a music video; tonight she does the same, as the lasers drop and the spotlight illuminates her face. She may be at her best when manipulating beats and toying with the notion of any ‘real’ identity, but these short moments of transparency are just as entrancing. ! Jake Hall N Burak Cing
Kylie Minogue Berghain, Berlin 20 March
A room full of bad bitches welcome the UK’s reigning queen of rap to take to the stage for the London date of her sold out UK tour. Draped in diamonds and a figure-loving nude leotard, right from the start the ‘The Don’ has the crowd mesmerised with her sexy flow, hard bars and a whole lot of wining. Staying true to her Jamaican roots, Steff captures the true element of an island girl whilst on stage, delivering a high energy performance made all the more spectacular with her thick thighs and the bright emojis in the visuals behind her. Performing a multitude of fan favourites from 2016’s Real Ting mixtape, Steff’s setlist also includes early tracks launched on platforms like GRM Daily and Link Up TV such as her Uno My Style and Lock Arff remixes, reassuring the fans that grime is where her heart is. The most amazing part of Steff’s show is the interaction with her fans. Pausing the tune Wobble to call four of fans on stage (one of whom was male), Steff hosts a twerking battle, with both the winner and losers being gifted a prize from The Don herself. During her breakthrough hit Real Ting, she instigates a ladies-only stage invasion to remind everyone that women run the world. Steff also does very well for surprise guests, with Ms Banks, Krept and Konan, Fekky as well as Raye and Mabel (performing their new collab Cigarette) all sending shockwaves through the venue as they take to the stage. This was my first time seeing a female UK rapper headline her own live tour, and I was truly impressed. With the show taking place on International Women’s Day, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than watching a woman who prides herself on being strong, independent and a bad bitch. Stefflon Don is here to stay. All hail the queen.
A queer club for hedonism unrestrained, Berghain is often described as either a church or a sea. The former is governed by the ritual: Sundays spent queuing, then convulsing in submission under the sermon of the night’s DJ; the latter is governed by the moon and the anonymity: a foam of smoke and darkness cloak digressions and expressions, which are cast under a protective shadow. Both offer their own form of intimacy – the church is prescriptive, reliable, and therefore an absolution of autonomy, whereas the latter washes out the undercurrents of the individual, leaving a sea of bobbing bodies indistinguishable in their actions and consequences. Kylie Minogue’s much-discussed performance marked a new form of closeness in the club, however – capped at around 600 people, the venue sold out within minutes of tickets being released, and ID verification at the door placed a tourniquet on ticket scalping. Kylie performed in the main hall within the Berghain labyrinth – the nave, so to speak – but tamed the stage with a red velvet curtain framing a glittery heart punctuated with vanity lights and a silver K. A web of rose-hued bulbs were strung like vaulting above the crowd, offering a warm glow in sharp contrast to the rough and notoriously industrial architecture. “You better put your phone down,” she said within the first three minutes of being on stage. “Even I can’t take photos in here”. Eschewing heavy wobbles of her behind-the-beat basslines for a seven-piece band, this was Kylie’s way of giving her most eager fans a taste of forthcoming album Golden. Following a very public breakup, Minogue had hit the studio in Nashville for a two-week writer’s retreat and come back with a set of twangy, Dolly Partontinged heart melters. It was more than convincing, and at points, her voice soared over her band to drown the floor in duelling heartbreak and ecstasy. For one night and one night only, Berghain was governed not as a church or the sea, but as a cosy open mic with a bubbly dusky blonde excited to share her new songs. Kylie strode on stage and launched into an eclectic mixture of hits; there were the new: hipswinging hoedown Golden, road-trip ready Raining Glitter and lead single Dancing; the old (an acoustic version of All the Lovers was a surprising swell in emotion); and the unexpected – Minogue dipped deep into country classics for a rousing performance of Islands in the Stream. The night was a Grand Ole Opry dream: it was sweet, it was sentimental and it was sincere. ! Nathan Ma
! Shakeena Johnson N Chloe Newman
SOPHIE Heaven, London 13 March
Stefflon Don O2 Forum Kentish Town 8 March
THE NATURALS THURS 5 APR BIRTHDAYS
AIR TRAFFIC FRI 13 APR KOKO
KATIE VON SCHLEICHER THURS 26 APR THE ISLINGTON
ERLAND COOPER THURS 24 MAY ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH
TIGER LION MON 9 APR SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
JAMES ELKINGTON SUN 15 APR THE ISLINGTON
LOW ISLAND THURS 26 APR SCALA
RINA SAWAYAMA FRI 25 MAY THE GARAGE
HANNAH EPPERSON OUT TUES SOLD10 APR SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
GOAT GIRL TUES 17 APR THE GARAGE
COUSIN KULA FRI 27 APR SEBRIGHT ARMS
THE MEN FRI 1 JUNE OSLO HACKNEY
SOFT AS SNOW WED 11 APR THE WAITING ROOM
OTZEKI TUES 17 APR OSLO HACKNEY
KEDR LIVANSKIY THURS 3 MAY THE PICKLE FACTORY
ROSTAM MON 14 JUNE SCALA
OKAY KAYA WED 11 APR ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH
WASUREMONO WED 18 APR SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
JAMES HEATHER WED 9 MAY ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH
JOSE GONZALEZ THURS 20 SEPT ROYAL ALBERT HALL
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04—18 MOTH Club Valette St London E8
Thursday 19 April
Saturday 21 April
mothclub.co.uk Saturday 21 April Wednesday 4 April
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JEFFREY LEWIS AND LOS BOLTS
USA NAILS Friday 27 April
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MONA Friday 20 April
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ED SCHRADER’S MUSIC BEAT Tuesday 8 May
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RAFIQ BHATIA Saturday 28 April
THE DEATH OF POP
Thursday 26 April
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The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com
Thursday 3 May
Thursday 12 April
3PEACE Wednesday 9 May
Monday 16 April
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The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com Saturday 7 April
Tuesday 24 April
MR. YOLK Friday 27 April
CASTORP Saturday 28 April
Sunday 13 May
Wednesday 11 April
SOFT AS SNOW
Sunday 13 May
Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Friday 13 April
COWTOWN Wednesday 18 April
Friday 13 April
DOMINO DANCE WITH ZOZO Saturday 14 April
PLEX BASEMENT SESSIONS #5 Friday 20 April
Tuesday 15 May
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SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
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DETROIT SWINDLE every friday in may
08 Melvins Pinkus Abortion Technician Ipecac A Place to Bury Strangers Pinned Dead Oceans
700 Bliss Spa 700 Halcyon Veil / Don Giovanni
700 Bliss is the project of Philadelphia duo Camae Ayewa and Zubeyda Muzeyyen – known as Moor Mother and Discwoman-affiliate DJ Haram, respectively. Together they deal in intricate, breathless polyrhythms – both in terms of percussion (be that an 808 or delicately jagged brushes of finger cymbals) and Ayewa’s vocal delivery. Industrial quakes melt into sheens of dissonant Middle Eastern melodics, while Ayewa invokes snarling punkrap lyricism (“Don’t hate bitch/ You still in here trying to code switch”). The EP is short and concise, which in turn imbues every moment with more intent – the harrowing slave-ship imagery of opener Basic, the meditative hip-hop production on Ring the Alarm, Living’s feminine energy (“Relearn everything grandma taught”). The overarching question here is about race (“That anti-black’s programmed in your head/ now you wanna steal my culture”), but there are no easy answers, and there’s not a clearcut line to end on. Instead Spa 700 gives a space to ruminate and rage, to bathe in diasporic sonics, and come out feeling both enriched and enraged. It’s a journey that’s at once cathartic, but leaves you charged with the adrenaline to fight. !
Sometimes albums grow on you, and repeated listens reveal hidden rewards. Sometimes, a record just gets worse. Pinned is of the latter camp. The influence of The Jesus and Mary Chain is as present as ever for A Place To Bury Strangers, and lead singer/designer of guitar pedals Oliver Ackermann is never going to give up on fuzz. The New York band have gradually cleaned away some of the fog that so enshrouded their eponymous debut, but the trouble is, songwriting has never been their strong suit. At best here, clichéd mantras counterpoint pleasingly thunderous crashes and chirrups of treble (Execution), and the band make a decent homage to Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Maps (Was it Electric). At worst, hackneyed ideas of ‘rock n roll’ (Attitude) and vague, macho lyricism (Too Tough to Kill) rub shoulders with what feels like an endless succession of indie-disco beats that are exhausting by the album’s end. It’s not all bad: the band fare ok when swapping that annoying hi-hat rattle for machined beats as on Look Me in the Eye and I Know I’ve Done Bad Things, and Ackermann definitely can write good songs. Pinned is simply missing the sweetness that’s hidden away on previous albums. The Jesus and Mary Chain’s trick was to submerge gorgeous pop songs in their catatonic squall. By neglecting this, APTBS and Pinned are dour and hollow by comparison. !
By the time you get round to releasing your twenty-second studio album, you’re going to need to look for new ways to keep things fresh. Melvins know that, which is why, for the insensitively-titled Pinkus Abortion Technician, they drafted in eponymous Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus to join the band’s own Steven McDonald in what they describe as “an experiment in the low end of the aural spectrum.” Accordingly, this is the most deeply grooveoriented Melvins album in quite some time, and that cuts both ways; the likes of the guttural Embrace the Rub seem gimmicky in their deployment of the dual bass players set up, while closer Graveyard puts them front and centre in a way that neglects the rest of the instrumentation and leaves the track feeling directionless. On the other side of the coin, though, Break Bread is all thunderous, riff-driven swagger, whilst the epic Don’t Forget to Breathe is among the finer examples of how well Melvins can do intense slowburners. Opener Stop Moving to Florida –which is a mashup of James Gang’s Stop and Butthole Surfers’ own Moving to Florida – is a fun enough diversion, but the real treat, and a surprise one at that, is an irresistibly heavy take on The Beatles’ I Want to Hold Your Hand, which the band play almost entirely straight to endearing effect. It seems that Melvins are going to be churning this stuff out forever. But as long as they’re having this much fun, that might be no bad thing. !
Speedy Ortiz Twerp Verse Carpark
Steven Julien Bloodline Apron Since shedding the FunkinEven moniker with the release of his concept LP Fallen in 2016, Steven Julien’s work has taken on a more introspective direction. Landing on his own imprint Apron Records – which has released soulful dance music from the likes of Seven Davis Jr. and Shanti Celeste – Bloodline sees the Londonbased producer and DJ dig deeper still. The mini-LP explores Julien’s personal and musical heritage, from being inspired by elder family members involved with dancing, MCing and soundsytem culture, to echoing the rhythms of African tribes and natives in the Caribbean. “Rhythm in the drum programming I produce ain’t coming from just me,” Julien recently told FACT, “it comes from a long line of ancestors.” Where Fallen more loosely shape-shifted into every expanse of his production style – from fluid jazz basslines to ragged breakbeat – Bloodline is driven by compact drum programming. In dedication to the Roland founder and engineer Ikutaro Kakehashi who passed away last year, the command of machines like the iconic 808 coursing through the veins of every track create a wild, almost three-dimensional array of pattern, texture and timbre. They drive the record with a propulsive energy – at times jaw-clenching and claustrophobic in maxed-out cuts like Apache, at others more scattered and fluttery in synth-house jam Queen of Ungilsan. There’s an inherent playfulness to this approach, which seeps into even the most hard-hitting beats. Yet Julien’s production flair shows not only in the nuances of raw analog drums but in the sounds crafted around this rhythmic framework: scribbling acid distortions, thick twanging basslines, glowing organ-like Roland Juno keys. Against the brazen kick drum in album closer IDK, the gushing synths and soft pads breathe a sigh of relief after the intensity of the album’s first half. His boldest release yet, Julien packs as much into six short tracks as he did with his full-length debut. Bloodline isn’t an easy record to pin down; the sounds of his upbringing rich in bass-heavy, rhythmic and soulful electronics aren’t obviously signposted, but they form the backbone of his own idiosyncratic and captivating sound. !
Building on the momentum of her Sad13 project – an optimistic, self-produced pop record which critiqued the industry’s male gaze – Sadie Dupuis breathes a kitschy pop sensibility to Twerp Verse, the third LP from her indie-grunge outfit Speedy Ortiz. The title, Dupuis said in a press release, refers to “when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish – like a Lil Wayne verse – but it becomes the most crucial part.” This kind of accidentally-onpurpose charm is what drives Twerp Verse. But despite being decorated with perky synths, new guitarist Andy Molholt (of Philadelphia psych band Laser Background) supplies enough fuzz to rescue he record from the saccharine. Backslidin’ collapses into a rich, scratchy crescendo, while the sound of clipping gives Alone with Girls an anxious tint. Closer You Hate The Title boasts one of the brightest pop melodies on the LP, yet the lyrics make sharp observations about how people respond to those who speak out: “You hate the title, but you’re digging the song/ You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong,” Dupuis sings on top of the sparkling production. Combining heavy instrumentation with sweetsounding melody, Twerp Verse is the best demonstration so far of the Speedy Ortiz balancing act. An enjoyable record by a band working hard to have a good time. !
Euphoria wins the day on Alberto Guerrini’s three-track gabber EP. What began as an archival tumblr dedicated to re-examining the oft-maligned fringes of hardcore has been taking physical form since early last year, with Guerrini creating zines and DJing with hakke dancers, so stepping in the studio was always the next logical step. Released on Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!? label, Gabber Eleganza treats the music of its devotion in much the same way Senni does with trance, another sound largely derided among modern dance circles. The pummelling abrasion and intense speeds are present here, but at just shy of 170BPM and with a focus on dynamic and tension it does a good job of making it accessible to people who likely watch footage of nutty kids in Belgium, Rotterdam or Glasgow at gabber raves and think ‘what the fuck is that?’ Opening track Junonica breathlessly builds with jagged synth stabs but settles in a deep rumble without erupting. The title track wouldn’t sound out of place on Bicep’s 2017 LP, which was a melancholic ode to rave, if the pounding kicks were swapped out for a breakbeat, while Total Football is disconcertingly menacing and gorgeous in equal measure: skittish lazerguided stabs bloom with a bubblegum sweetness along galloping snares. Dance music isn’t scary anymore, having been firmly co-opted by the mainstream. Gabber offers a glimpse back in time, when an older generation were shocked and disgusted by what kids did in fields and warehouses at the weekend. The sight of skinheads covered head to toe in tattoos and dressed like football hooligans may drag up more negative connotations than a lot of people are comfortable with. But Gabber Eleganza goes a long way in showing there’s more to the scene than face values. There’s beauty and unity to be found here. !
Moon Gangs Earth Loop Village Green Arriving on the Village Green label, the head-turning debut from BEAK>’s William Young is a treasure trove of synthesiser melodramas, dripping with classic cinematographic references and a joyously maximal approach to production. Things get underway with the portentous Second Run, before The Terminal raises its head to a neon-soaked sky. Like bandmate Geoff Barrow’s soundtrack work or composer Tom Raybould’s score for sci-fi indie The Machine, there’s a gothic, gloopy edge to Moon Gangs’ material, and as much kinetic energy in some of these tracks as Fuck Buttons or Rival Consoles. But where these latter acts deliver their power punches partly through muscle and might, Moon Gangs pull off an even harder trick: flooring you softly without the aid of the loud/quiet/loud dynamic. Sea Circles swirls gently through a rhythmless vortex, while Familiar Machines is the most Blade Runner-esque track of all, a deep, pounding bass note providing the heartbeat for concentric circles of synths to cluster around. The album is bookended by a pair of gentle, drowned chants, a natural contrast to the intense noise contained within. It's difficult to find fault with this all-consuming set of songs: an epic unfurling of electronic melody. !
Bad Gyal Worldwide Angel Pure Records & CANADA Editorial Born in 1997 and raised on the internet, Barcelona’s Bad Gyal (aka Alba Farelo) is one of the more promising products of the global web of culturallyconfused artists making popconscious club music for the online underground. Singing in Catalan, Spanish and occasionally in English, the 21-year-old performer’s so-called ‘futuristic reggaetón’ is a (not uncontroversial) take on a style steeped in an afro-latin sound, beginning in Jamaican dancehalls then spreading across the Americas on variations of the famously anti-colonial dembow rhythm. From 1990 to the early 00s, the wave of music influenced by said tresillo moved from the margins into full view of latinamerican pop – from Panama’s El General to Puerto Rico’s Daddy Yankee and his 2004 hit Gasolina. Farelo’s music is a somewhat skewed reclaiming of a sound rooted in subcultural resistance, by virtue of her youth and the language barrier between the Spanish and English-speaking worlds. With a 90s revivalist fashion sense and a powerful visual aesthetic – both live and in press – the success of the European artist rests as much on her marketability as it does on the palatability of her music. Incorporating elements of trap, RnB and UK garage into this hybrid reggaetón, Worldwide Angel features production by frequent collaborators Dubbel Dutch and Fakeguido, as well as melodically-driven post-club producer Jam City. The latter London-based artist’s input is significant, given that he was also executive producer of Kelela’s breakthrough album release Take Me Apart last year. Meanwhile, between its slick and sultry riddims and Farelo’s signature Auto-Tune vocal, Worldwide Angel might very well be a similar step towards becoming something much, much bigger in the future. !
Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois Timesig It’s a collaboration precisely no one saw coming: noise agitator and extreme electronic futurist Venetian Snares and rock record producer, guitarist and fellow Canadian, Daniel Lanois, who is famed for his work with Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Though it sounds like an outlandish proposition, Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois is, in places, surprisingly beautiful. Recorded live in a former Buddhist temple in Toronto, it’s a project that seems to have inspired its participants. Lanois has said of the record: “To come upon a new form reassures the head that frontier lives on.” Venetian Snares (aka Aaron Funk) is known best for hyperactive splurges of speedy digital percussion and splintered jungle breaks. These intense bursts of electronic rhythm frequently surface here, though mixed with Lanois’s intensely mellow echo-drenched country guitar, they take on a new form. On HpShk5050_P127 dubby bass underpins warm washes of psychedelic pedal steel, while blasts of mechanically altered beats dip in and out of the mix. Night_MXCMPV1_P74 is an impressionistic ambient affair, where Funk’s skittering rhythms twist and contort beneath the dramatic skies evoked by Lanois’s playing. The combination is strangely soothing: neither artist compromises their distinct identities, yet their polarised sounds seem to slot together naturally. The open-minded will find much to enjoy on this weird and wild combination. !
DJ Koze Knock Knock Pampa There was a period when Stefan Kozella was one of European dance music’s most intriguing, infuriating and inconsistent producers. Over the past 15 years or so his 12”s – released by the likes of Kompakt, Philpot, and IRR – have veered from cracked-out abstruse deviant dancehall (2010’s Mi Cyaan Believe It) to minimal techno workouts (the still absurd stomp of his seminal Brutalga Square) via downtempo chipmunk soul (Smornin’) and wonkier-thanthou piano house-not-house (Rue Burnout) all of which hinted at an incredibly talented musician who couldn’t quite work out what exactly he wanted to be. Then came Amygdala, his 2013 LP on his own Pampa Recordings imprint. The record was a lush and sublimely sensate listening experience, packed with micro-moments of genius that coalesced into a towering totality. Luckily, almost impossibly, Knock Knock rivals its predecessor. Kozella’s approach remains as scattershot as ever – luminescent sadlad filter-house (Moving in a Liquid) and broken-hearted disco (Pick Up) sit alongside sunrise-ready dewy eyed anthems in the making (Seeing Aliens) and Wighnomy Brothers-esque mutant microhouse (Bonfire). But there’s a cohesion at play that means Knock Knock feels like the best DJ mixes; these are songs that talk to one another, poly-vocal constructions that prioritise pure pleasure. Sure he’s as goofy as ever, but it feels like Stefan Kozella is that step closer to knowing who DJ Koze is. And DJ Koze is someone to treasure. !
Preoccupations New Material Jagjaguwar When Preoccupations chose to name their new album New Material it indicated one of two things: the deadpan title was either a droll attempt to disguise the fact that they’ve run out of ideas, or a sign that the Canadian band are ready to let their music speak completely for itself, raw and unvarnished. So which path do Preoccupations – a band with a problem in naming themselves, never mind their albums – tread? This record is, according to singer Matt Flegel, “an ode to depression” and the one-word song titles like Decompose, Disarray, and Doubt, suggest its dark subject matter, as well a love for post-punk B-sides. On first listen the songs themselves can feel too one-coloured; painted out in ink black. Doubt’s splodges of synths underwhelm while Antidote’s mechanical funk doesn’t deliver on its promise. Yet there’s a thrilling, menacing, itchy quality that bleeds through the album. Espionage is great; an echoing, clattering drone that sounds so much like Joy Division that Peter Hook is probably already out there, somewhere, trying to make money from it. The motorik swagger of Solace and the glacial chimes of Disarray capture 80s post-punk so well you can hear the wind blowing in Flegel’s hair as he drives an open top Cadillac. It’s an ominous, claustrophobic listen – only released as the haunting instrumental Compliance disintegrates and implodes. It’s not so much the sound of the new, as the sound of a band figuring out who they are. !
Gabber Eleganza Never Sleep Vol. 1 Presto!?
07 05 07
07 μ-Ziq Challenge Me Foolish Planet Mu
On his first album-length outing as Mr. Fingers since 1994’s Back to Love, Larry Heard’s recent transformation from often-overlooked deep house pioneer to festival-headlining legend is complete. That’s not to say, however, that Cerebral Hemispheres is a classic by any stretch of the imagination. When Heard’s attention is focused on the dancefloor, Cerebral Hemispheres approaches the triumphant. While nothing on the LP can stand up to the earthshatteringly humane brilliance of early releases Mystery of Love and You’re Someone Special, or even more recent releases like The Sun Can’t Compare and Deja Vu, the album’s opener Full Moon is as elegiacally smooth as anything Heard’s ever released. Few producers are able to wring out such with so little; there’s a reason they call these deep house. The Drexciyan ooze of Electron shimmers like a vision of a future foretold, and the title track hints at the kind of rough hewn minimalism that Robert Hood made his own in the mid-90s. The problem is, there’s too much meandering, jazzy, washed out and watered-down filler; a few too many bland approximations of sun-kissed Sade backing tracks. Still, Heard is getting the recognition he so richly deserves, with another generation of clubbers likely to have their head rearranged by Washing Machine all summer long – and if that’s the price we have to pay for an album that can’t decide if it wants to be a state of the house nation address or a Sunday morning snoozer, then so be it.
This selection of unreleased music by Planet Mu founder and IDM pioneer Mike Paradinas – aka μ-Ziq – reveals just how influential he was and continues to be. Compiling material from the late 90s, these tracks were created around the same time Paradinas was making a name with his seminal Royal Astronomy album and support slots for Björk. Challenge Me Foolish retroactively produces a more complete picture of eerie nostalgia in experimental electronica; a sort of protohypnagogia that preceded projects by the likes of James Ferraro and Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never. The onomatopoeiac DoDaDu, a collaboration with Japanese vocalist Kazumi, features breathy vocals that are cut up and spread across a swell of soft basslines and glimmers of tender keyboard melodies, echoing James Ferraro’s frenetic corporate dreamscapes of the early 00s. The hiccoughing string simulations of Robin Hood Gate and staccato multi-tonal keys of Perfame, meanwhile, emerge later in the rolling tableaux’s of Lopatin’s R Plus Seven era. The drill ’n’ bass aspects of Paradinas’ oeuvre – which aligned him with the defiantly un-danceable sounds of Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Squarepusher – emanate here in tracks like Bassbins and Lexicon but not without smoothing out its more anxious edges with ambient organs. The sense of fun and humour of the subgenre is more pronounced on Challenge Me Foolish than Royal Astronom, while maintaining a deep affection for its drum ’n’ bass, jungle, breakbeat and techno roots.
Paul White Rejuvenate R&S
Hinds I Don’t Run Mom + Pop “I wanna show you it’s cool to grow up,” sings Carlotta Cosials on I Don’t Run’s album opener The Club. Madridbased band Hinds made their name playing fun, energetic but often ramshackle live shows, whereas second album I Don’t Run is a record full of tightlywrought riffs and masterful playing. It rings with a mature sensibility that Cosials, along with fellow guitarist and vocalist Ana Perrote, Ade Martin (bass) and Amber Grimbergen (drums) picked up after endless bouts of touring. They sing with all their gut, so often making every sentiment an extreme – either a jubilant celebration or a fury-filled ruckus. If you didn’t quite catch the words, you’d think Tester’s “Should I’ve known before you were also banging her?” was a celebratory remark, not a spit in the face at a former lover. And among these intense moments lie tender gems. There’s the easy breathiness of I Feel Cold But I Feel More, and the sweet bliss of Linda, which chimes with a harmony which demands you to succumb to longing. On paper Hinds may seem like any other indie band who jump around with their guitars, but the songs they write are pertinent and affectionate, and I Don’t Run basks in that vitality. !
A.A.L. (Against All Logic) 2012-2017 Other People Nicolas Jaar released an album on 17 February, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing. The LP appeared under one of Jaar’s lesser-known monikers and no PR campaign accompanied the launch. We all caught up a little while later, excitedly generating a thick wodge of press over the previous lack thereof like the gimmick-hungry hacks you all know us to be. Built around funk and soul samples of the 70s, the A.A.L. (Against All Logic) album is a collection of tracks Jaar created between a five year period. It ranges from the languid, downtempo songs he’s known for to uptempo, day-glo rave tracks. By and large, this is an album of house music. I Never Dream has a DJ-friendly build-up before a Moodhutdoes-UKG drop, with shuffling hi-hats and a chorus of vocals twisting around each-other like a double helix. Notwithstanding the title, it’s playful and fun – there’s even a spinback. Such A Bad Way is probably the most identifiably Jaar track, and the album’s highlight. Though melancholic, it showcases Jaar’s gift for melody in a way can sometimes feel genuinely anthemic. But 2012-2017 is not Jaar’s best work. Know You is essentially an edit, and sadly a rather clumsy one. Chipmunked vocals and clatteringly quantised percussion detract from what sounds like great source material. Similarly, Cityfade is a fizzy yet forgettable piano house number, its kids-choir sample recalling old Kitsune material, only with slightly better drums. While Jaar has attempted to play provocatively within the boundaries of the various forms of house music, this is ultimately a conservative effort, straightjacketed by rigid quantisation and the conventions of this over-30 year old genre. It is perhaps reflective of the high expectations we have of Nicolas Jaar that an album with no particularly bad tracks on it feels like a disappointment, but there’s not much here that warrants repeat-listening, and you’ll soon find yourself heading to 2016’s much better Sirens for an example of what this talented and adventurous artist can really do. !
Paul White is the Londonbased producer responsible for the heavy psychedelic beats that back leftfield US rap giants such as Danny Brown and Homeboy Sandman. So you might expect a similarly high dosage of acidic grittiness on his latest solo album. The headiness that White’s come to be associated with is present on his seventh solo LP Rejuvenate, but it’s of a gentler quality here. Rather than mine his usual sources of 60s electronics or Middle Eastern funk to make hip-hop beats, this time around White has opted to play the entire thing with live instruments. Still, residues of his favoured sound sources linger on Rejuvenate. But it’s when White ditches the script that things get gripping. The title cut is a blur of warm electronic chords and propulsive drums, helixes of guitar spinning in space, and Returning unwinds a circular riff drenched in reverb. Halfway through, a lolloping beat joins in with subtle smears of synth. Soul Reunion has White himself singing, and his voice is the most disarming quality of this bittersweet song. While Rejuvenate might leave you craving for a few of the spikier sounds from his earlier productions, at its best the LP is a commendable excursion into unusual territory. !
Mr. Fingers Cerebral Hemispheres Alleviated Records
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089 Words: Gary Suarez
Capital Punishment Original release date: 28 April, 1998 Label: Loud Records
The reverberations from the Hoe Avenue Meeting loosened invisible borders and allowed for more free movement throughout the city. Barely two years later, former rivals were mingling to the sound of DJ Kool Herc’s prototypical turntablism. This was the world Big Pun grew up in. The Bronx’s rich history in hip-hop sprouted up around him, from the cracks in the sidewalk concrete. It
took roughly 24 years before his first recorded appearance on a major label release, a feature on the Diggin' in the Crates Crew emcee Fat Joe’s 1995 Jealous One’s Envy LP. A brash ode to the South Bronx, Watch Out introduced Pun’s world to the rap world at large. While Big Pun certainly wasn’t the first Latinx rapper to make an impact, he was the first with an album to receive RIAA platinum certification. Released roughly a year after the murder of fellow outsized New York rapper The Notorious B.I.G., Capital Punishment sported his Puerto Rican heritage proudly. Its biggest single, the enduring hip-hop classic Still Not A Player, flipped an O’Jays sample into a radio-friendly, salsa-adjacent jam. The sung praises of boriquas and morenas coupled with Pun’s thug lover lyricism captured a pure feeling, one prevalent and sincere in música romantica yet too often exoticised by outsiders, including non-Latinx rappers who fumbled with high school Spanish.
With gritty tales from the South Bronx streets, Big Pun’s debut made the Latinx hip-hop perspective go platinum Despite the tremendous appeal of Still Not A Player, to this day a rotation staple of rap radio both in New York and elsewhere, the commercial success of Capital Punishment wasn't guaranteed. By 1998, the term 'gangsta rap' may have fallen out of favour with everyone except Republican congressmen, yet its spirit and sentiments prevailed on records like Pun’s. Over boom bap production by the likes of Dr. Dre, Rockwilder, and RZA, he represented the South Bronx that raised him, a place where gang activity and related crime had evolved and adapted rather than dissipated in the two decade wake of the Hoe Avenue Meeting. While some might criticise Pun for romanticising street behaviour and violence on Beware and the Pakinamac skits, the lyrics could be considered a stark reflection of his reality. To his credit, Pun compensated for his gritty and occasionally downright bleak worldview with a proficiency on the mic, something made even more stunning by the fact that Capital Punishment was his full-length debut. He was a dextrous spitter, capable of complex cadences and rapid fire flows on cuts like The Dream Shatterer and You Ain’t A Killer. Some 20 years before latecomers got wise to The Roots’ Black Thought as one of the greatest rappers alive, Pun went toe to
toe with the dude on the exquisite Super Lyrical, a masterclass for rap bars. Capital Punishment includes a number of guest appearances by then-known quantities in hip-hop such as Busta Rhymes, Inspectah Deck of the WuTang Clan, and Wyclef Jean. Yet the album also held it down for the Bronx with its features, giving time to his Terror Squad associates Armageddon, Prospect, and the aforementioned Fat Joe. The pairing of Joe and Pun remains one of rap’s finest duos, as evidenced by the incredible interplay of Twinz (Deep Cover ‘98). 20 years after its release, and 18 since Pun’s untimely passing, the influence of Capital Punishment endures. He remains a cited and felt influence by Latinx artists, including those in the current trap en español boom. Bodega Bamz, Cardi B, and Messiah can all count Pun as a godfather figure, in more ways than one. Regardless of race or ethnicity, he continues to give inspiration to wave after wave of Bronx rappers who can relate to his stories and marvel at his lyrics.
About a month after Christopher Rios was born, a pivotal event occurred in the Bronx. For years, rival gangs mostly comprised of black and Latino members had made the uptown sections of New York City a veritable warzone, with groups like the Black Spades and the Ghetto Brothers territorially carving out blocks as their own and defending their turf vigorously. Sparked by the death of one of the leading peacekeepers of the time, 1971’s monumental Hoe Avenue Meeting gathered representatives from multiple factions to achieve a truce.
07 06 Thoroughbreds dir: Cory Finley Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin If your teen movie tastes tend to lean more towards Heathers than Clueless, Cruel Intentions over Can’t Hardly Wait, then Thoroughbreds is your deliciously dark, dangerously good looking modern day fix. Starring Brits of the moment Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) as pedigree student Lily and Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) as Amanda, a monotone outcast who mercy killed her own horse, Thoroughbreds follows the pair as they move from an awkward post-high school reunion to plotting an intimate and bloody murder. The target is Mark, Lily’s clean-cut stepfather who quietly loathes his wife and stepdaughter as they tip toe around his massive house and swollen ego. Lily loathes him right back and as house politics rise to unbearable highs she enlists the help of Tim, a local drug dealer played with bleary-eyed relish by Anton Yelchin. This would, devastatingly, be one of Yelchin’s final roles before his untimely death in 2016, and he fully delivers as the slimy and unpredictable third wheel to Lily and Amanda’s wicked duo. Taylor-Joy and Cooke in turn are brilliant, mixing unsentimental sisterhood with a deadpan wit that will knock the wind right out of you. For a bloodthirsty teen thriller that puts Yorgos Lanthimos to shame, there’s undeniable heart under treacle-black comedy and an achingly stylish aesthetic, marking Thoroughbreds a triumphant feature debut for writer-director Cory Finley and a strong effort from his perfectly cast murderous misfits. ! Beth Webb
Unsane dir: Steven Soderbergh Starring: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah Always one for experimenting with the construction of film, Steven Soderbergh took to using iPhones to shoot his claustrophobic thriller Unsane. The device works for the tone and the space, with the camera often placed from an observer’s perspective – following Claire Foy’s character Sawyer Valentini from behind trees or placed on tables during conversations. But there’s a downside – the imagery itself is extremely ugly and unpolished, the low-budget look feeling more student film than found-footage horror. It feels predictable to align the film with Time’s Up and #MeToo, but these movements hang over the events of the narrative, which explore misconduct, the suffering of women under selfentitled men, and ultimately, how women’s stories are often dismissed. Most of the thrill of Unsane comes from Sawyer reclaiming her agency. A thorny and tightly-wound office worker, we see from the beginning that she’s a very driven character, often to the point of being off-putting to others, a quality that finds her isolated due to her recent move away from her hometown. Later on this develops into a blistering, extremely satisfying monologue that lets Foy show off a more fearsome side. What’s more, Soderbergh and scriptwriters Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer turn the narration into a parable about where privatisation of the US medical industry could, and has, led. However, it’s clumsy, with the film portraying mental health care and some of the patients with an extremely unsympathetic eye (one such patient being a dreadlocked Juno Temple). There are questionable choices throughout, not the least of which is a laughably misjudged final shot that may make it into the bad freeze-frame hall of fame alongside Jungle Fever. Somewhere between Detour, Gaslight, Sleeping with the Enemy and a student film is Unsane; a messy, trashy B-movie thriller that is more enjoyable than it should be, despite some major pitfalls. ! Kambole Campbell
Isle Of Dogs dir: Wes Anderson Starring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton Wes Anderson puts his storybook approach to its most appropriate use yet with Isle of Dogs, a fable of friendship and loyalty that asks what we really owe each other. In an Andersonian Japan, the cat-loving Mayor Kobayashi of Megasaki responds to an epidemic of canine flu by banishing all dogs to an island of rubbish. Years later, his adopted nephew Atari heads there in search of his beloved pet Spots. It’s probably Anderson’s most ridiculous plot yet, but it suits both the exaggerated animation and the micromanaged narrative style perfectly. The opening 10 minutes are like the wittiest infomercial you’ve ever seen, turning exposition and world-building into goofy comedy, but after that, there’s some bold choices. By leaving lots of the Japanese dialogue untranslated and keeping the characters deadpan, the director has to rely on his visuals to tell the story – luckily, there are few better at doing this than Anderson. With the help of cinematographer Tristan Oliver, his camera slides and spins through every scene, flicking between reaction shots and visual details that reveal more narrative and raise more laughs than most directors could manage with a page of dialogue. Even more importantly, when his characters do speak they don’t waste a word, with the likes of Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig and best of all Bryan Cranston bringing humanity to the canine ensemble. There’s no doubt that Isle of Dogs combines the intimate and the epic to great effect, balancing the story of one boy and his dog against the genocide of an entire species. But while the epic vistas and stop-motion animation are filled with delicate details and the comedy offset by a melancholy mood, sometimes Anderson’s direction is so controlled, his characters so cool that emotion or excitement is sacrificed. Even as the plot careens through kidnappings, assassinations and political corruption it rarely feels like there’s that much is at stake. In other words, Isle of Dogs has more bark than it knows what to do with – but maybe not quite enough bite. ! Tom Bond
120 BPM dir: Robin Campillo Starring: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel In 1992, Robin Campillo joined a militant group of activists called Act Up Paris. Dedicated to battling government apathy towards the AIDS epidemic, Act Up Paris did everything it could to grab headlines and make its cause visible, no matter what the cost, in an era when the supposedly 'gay disease' wasn't taken seriously. The group's spitfire spirit crackles through Campillo's third feature film, 120 BPM, which is partially inspired by the French director's time with Act Up, and sheds new light on gay militance in a time when LGBTQ+ people are enjoying more freedom than ever. The film's plot follows a number of the group's members, cleaving particularly closely to HIV-positive extrovert Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), and his growing closeness to new member Nathan (Arnaud Valois). Among the many other activists, all of whom get their moment, there's a mother and her 16-year-old son Marco (Theophile Ray), who's a haemophiliac and contracted the AIDS virus from an infected blood transfusion. At two-and-a-half hours long, Campillo's film could have used a little judicious editing, but the freewheeling style and realistic delves into the group's rowdy lecture hall meetings are hugely seductive. As its title suggests, 120 BPM pulses with passion and anger on numerous levels. At times, it feels like an exorcism for Campillo, who lived this, and has lived with it for over 30 years. There's hope, though, too. The sparse musical segments are euphoric, while the sense of community is warm and invigorating. For those who have watched How to Survive a Plague, 120 BPM offers a nourishing and rousing insight into gay activism outside of the US, and won't be forgotten in a hurry. ! Josh Winning
Tala walnut touch lamp £120 goodhoodstore.com Over the past few years, the Danish idea of hygge – a mood of warmth and cosiness – has become a highly coveted concept. Looking for a way to give your interiors a boost without splashing out on a total do-over? Simple. Add a touch of style to your room, and enjoy the art of hygge.
Ace & Tate Ringo sunglasses £148 aceandtate.com Ringo Starr is arguably the best Beatle. Inspired by the iconic drummer, Ace & Tate offer this standout retro design with a one-year guarantee. Spring is coming, so prep yourself.
Timothée Chalamet hand painted shirt TBA instagram.com/andrew.mania At the Oscars, screenwriter James Ivory was one of this year's best-dressed, donning a white shirt with a blue, hand painted outline of his Call Me By Your Name colleague, and famously handsome man, Timothée Chalamet. Painted by visual artist Andrew Mania, the shirts are available to commission if you slide into his DMs.
Public Enemy x Supreme x UNDERCOVER £598 supremenewyork.com The collaboration everyone's ogling this month. Yes, we still remember the Supreme-branded brick, but here’s one drop worthy of your attention. Teaming up with Japanese label UNDERCOVER and the legendary Public Enemy, this drop celebrates the iconic rap group’s seminal album Fear of a Black Planet.
Peep Publication: Issue Two £10 k-i-o-s-k.com
Berlin Living Rooms by Dominique Nabokov £39 apartamentomagazine.com After photographing the most stylish residences in Paris and New York, French photographer Dominique Nabokov turns her eye to the rooms of prominent figures in the German capital. A third instalment rounding off her trilogy, Nabokov believes interiors are a reflection of character, and her project has seen her document these portraits over two decades. It’s quite costly to do your room up nice, so maybe just look at these instead.
Featuring a range of brilliant illustrations and visuals from a pool of designers – each with their own idiosyncratic style – Peep has released its sophomore edition. Inside, you’ll find images of each designer’s unique side projects. An ideal publication to immerse yourself in on the commute.
Crossword Across 6. Cute and fluffy / Gloria Steinem's disguise 7. This time of year, Japan is famed for its... 8. US gym chain / when the centre of the sun is over the equator Down 1. Sometimes it snows in 2. The springtime vegetation aligns with this Nirvana track 3. First sign of the zodiac 4. T-Pain classic in present tense 5. It's the resurrection / foremost chocolate-based holiday 7. Gooey festive classic with contentious consumption methods
Answers Across: Bunny, Cherry Blossom, Equinox Down: April, In Bloom, Aries, Spring, Easter, Creme Egg
Self Portrait King Tuff
Kurt Vile or 8 Mile Is it a line by the folk-rock troubadour, or is it from Eminem’s 2002 hiphop drama? 1) “There were a few verses I wrote literally on the spot. But the concept was there.” 2) “Ain’t got time for overthinking, so I just rely on early intuition.” 3) “Here’s a pencil, go home, write some shit, make it suspenseful.” 4) “So when I feel blue, don’t know what to do, I look at you.” 5) “We sign us a deal you can take the motherfucking benefits.” 6) “I bet by now you probably think I'm a puppet to the man.”
Answers: 1) Vile 2) Vile 3) Mile 4) Mile 5) Mile 6) Vile
x o F k c Za
Words: Davy Reed
Who’s the best person to follow on Instagram? @b3n1s. Favourite member of Slipknot? The dude who had the Hellraiser spikes coming out his mask [Craig Jones]. Who’s the best member of Awful Records? Best just like at everything? Who is dearest to your heart? Abra. What’s your signature recipe? I’m a fried chicken connoisseur. I do an overnight buttermilk and hot sauce marinade. Nashville hot chicken
“I once worked as a sandwich delivery guy. A week before I started that job my bike got stolen. I’d run with the sandwiches.” basically, and I serve it on a brioche bun with a 40z of malt liquor. That’s the speciality, that’s my breakfast. Describe your most embarrassing haircut… I had cornrows once in like eighth or ninth grade. I had a big ass afro and my mom wasn’t going to let me walk around like that. Who’s the most famous person you've ever met? I was at Asanebo, a small sushi place in north Hollywood. I was with Thundercat and two members of the band King. Like six security guards with earpieces and suits escort Jay Z and Beyoncé in. They recognised Thunder because of his relationship with Erykah Badu and Kendrick Lamar, they stopped by our table and said hi to all of us. Amber from King had just got these beautiful braids with some colour in them, and Beyoncé says “oh my god girl I love your hair,” and Amber just starts crying immediately. I remember trying to get out my phone and tweet but one of the security guards stood behind me watching my phone. He’d slap it out of my hand probably.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I worked at the Jimmy John’s chain as a bike delivery guy, delivering sandwiches in downtown Atlanta. A week before I started that job my bike got stolen, so I went to the job and didn’t tell them that I didn’t have a bike. I’d run with the sandwiches. What’s your favourite painting? The Harrowing of Hell by Hieronymus Bosch. What was the first record you truly fell in love with? The first shit I was obsessed with was the crunk movement, so Lil Jon Crunk Juice and Crime Mob’s first album. What’s the worst hotel you’ve ever stayed in? I remember one time I was at a hotel in south east Atlanta, there was a crackhead banging on the door at 4am because he thought I was his dealer. Best character in The Sopranos? Tony, James Gandolfini is such a good actor all around. A lot of the genius of Gandolfini’s performance is actually down to his nasal breathing.
Yeah! That’s really interesting. Name an overrated artist… Post Malone. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? The music from the first Halo video game. The title screen had some very inspirational, sensual music. What’s your favourite emoji? The running horse. If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? 2 Chainz. Have you ever taken acid? Too many times. If you could give yourself a piece of advice 10 years ago, what would it be? I would give myself all the lyrics to all the Migos songs ever and tell me to make them myself. What would you like written on your tombstone? “Shake yo ass, damn.” @zackfox
Taking a look at Zack Fox’s Twitter account, you might presume he’s the least employable person on earth. But somehow the LA-based illustrator’s relentless stream of obscenity and absurd humour has gathered around 153K followers, and he’s gone on to create artwork for Atlanta’s Awful Records crew and Thundercat while landing an role in Flying Lotus’ body horror movie Kuso. In one of the most disturbing movie scenes in recent film history, Kuso sees Fox’s character confronted by a giant bug called Mr. Quiggles, who happens to live inside George Clinton’s anus. Participating in this ridiculous questionnaire, Fox talks crunk, cornrows and being under the surveillance of Jay Z and Beyoncé’s security guards.
Available now from crackmagazine.net
L A C
(Fati Recordings / 12th Isle / Mood Hut)
Live & DJ set
(Low Company / Reckless Records)
4TH BIRTHDAY SPECIAL
My Life as a Mixtape: Iceage’s Elias Rønnenfelt
Words: Davy Reed
A record me and my bandmates have bonded over on the road The Stooges, Fun House [Elektra, 1970]. Still makes every other record feel like vanilla ice cream in comparison. It’s a record we can never get tired of.
“There are songs that tell you that it’s ok to stare the melancholy directly in the eye”
The first and last record that shocked me There were a few things that shocked me when I was a kid. I remember the feeling of being able to be afraid of music; when sound would get to you in a way which would make you feel physical unease. The Andy Warhol song [RCA, 1972] on David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, I remember being terrified of that. And later in life, I was sitting in a dark tour van at night and everyone was asleep besides me and the driver. I’d eaten some surprisingly strong edibles and I tried listening to The Drift by Scott Walker [4AD, 2006] for
the first time ever. I had an amazingly terrifying experience. A record which gives me the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia I can’t think of an [album], but individual tracks: Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac [Warner Bros., 1982], You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory by Johnny Thunders [Real Records ARE3, 1978], The Orchids by Psychic TV [Some Bizzare, 1983] have always been really crushing songs for me. They’re songs that are sort of between something tragic but hopefulness, and that tell you that it’s ok to stare the melancholy directly in the eye and confront those feelings. A record which has helped me through a hard time Music is not always great in hard times, but usually there’s a period of getting through a hard time when music can speak to you more directly than anything else. Arthur Russell’s Another Thought [Point Music, 1994], that has some great healing qualities I think. A record that reminds me of a city I love dearly Scott Walker’s Scott 3 [Philips / Fontana, 1969] – there’s a song on it called Copenhagen of course – but the feeling of that whole record always reminds me of dawn in Copenhagen. I remember listening to it with a friend and looking out the window as the sun was rising. My go-to karaoke song Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You [Philips, 1967] is a personal favourite, perhaps inspired by the use of that song in the film The Deer Hunter. I think that if you’re good at karaoke, you’re doing it wrong. Beyondless is released 4 May via Matador
Having formed in 2008 during their teenage years, Iceage have been drunk on a sense of youthful energy that’s key to creating truly visceral punk music. But despite their roughness, the Danish band’s sound has blossomed. Their fourth LP Beyondless is both unhinged and anthemic, featuring flourishes of strings and brass and a literary quality to Elias Rønnenfelt’s rugged romanticism. Here, Rønnenfelt – who also has played in the bands Marching Church, Vår and Pagan Youth – discusses some of the music that has touched his heart.
Perspective: Crossing Cultures
Tirhakah Love examines the complexities of PoC artists coming under fire for cultural appropriation Last month Washington DC musician Meshell Ndegeocelloone – one of black music’s longest-reigning virtuoso-sister groovemakers – kept it all the way funky when pricked about Bruno Mars sweeping up the Grammys big awards. “It’s karaoke,” she quipped, “With [the song] Finesse, in particular I think he was simply copying Bell Biv DeVoe.” Mars – a Hawaii-born artist whose mother is Filipina and father is Puerto Rican and Jewish – must be used to terms like ‘theft’ and ‘appropriation’ being tossed around when discussing his music. Bruno Mars’ double-platinum album 24K Magic was released in late 2016 and it continued to envelop 2017 in his weightless rendering of 90s-era hiphop and RnB. Some liken the sounds to Teddy Riley or, as Ndegeocello points out, the party music that made Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis household acts. Ndegeocello’s comments were followed by a video of writer and activist Seren Sensei arguing that Mars “plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres” going viral, sparking one of the biggest debates about cultural appropriation in recent memory, with the likes of Charlie Wilson and Stevie Wonder coming to Mars’ defence.
If every conversation about cultural appropriation begins with an individual artist or group, then it must end with
the socialised oppressive power dynamics permitting artistic theft in the form of non-accreditation, noncompensation, and erasure within the music industry. After a promo trip to India to promote his new Adidas line, Hu Holi, Pharrell and the brand recently came under fire for capitalising on the Holi festivals traditions without proper accreditation. The shoes contain leather – which, as President of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed pointed out – directly contradicts Hindu belief in the sanctity of the animal. Adidas stood pat on the shoes design and perspective, claiming that the footwear promotes a global platform to advocate for change. Tossing out buzzwords like “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “humanity” seems to be the reaction du jour to claims of appropriation. And there are very real voids when it comes to sufficient representation in the music and fashion industries, but to make Pharrell the harbinger for a larger conversation on Hinduism requires a baffling amount of gall. The complex discussions that arise when PoC are accused of appropriation have followed Drake – who began his pop takeover by swiping the sounds of southern rappers, who magically learned patois for his occasional excursions into dancehall and who probably calls his homies “bruv” after linking with Giggs and Skepta. If we’re honest, it’s his proximity to blackness – Drake is a
half-black, half-white Jew from Canada – that so often lets him off the hook. Bruno Mars is just going to have to grin and bear the questions about cultural appropriation because they will not stop. Even if I disagree on our usage of the term to describe 24K Magic – black artists got paid and he routinely mentions his influences, who were also compensated – the visceral reaction of hearing a nonblack voice performing black music warrants discussion. Because Mars does occupy a fun, loose, sexy space that black male RnB performers haven’t been allowed in quite some time. When it comes to men crooning these days, it’s a lot more pelvic thrust than cheeky choreography; more put-ons than prenatural charm. It’s that theft, the removal of the space for diverging forms of black male sexy, that hurts the most.
Featuring Kali Uchis, Lena Willikens, Daniel Avery, DJ Taye, Junglepussy and more