J Hus Crack Magazine | Issue 102
An independent platform for contemporary culture
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John Lawrence Sullivan
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APPELSAP + ACE & TATE PRESENT THE AMSTERDAM X LONDON COLLECTION COMING SOON
APPELSAP FESTIVAL AUGUST 10TH FLEVOPARK / AMSTERDAM
DOMAINE NATIONAL DE SAINT-CLOUD GARDEN - PARIS 23 24 25 AUGUST 2019
C�F ART CAF�, → BUSSEY BUILDI�G
�FROB�ATS P�RTY - 5T� JU�Y: They're bringing their trademark dance floor vibes to South London. Expect everything from Afrohouse, Gqom, Afrobeats Kwaito and more. This party is going to bring you melody, funk, big beats and a dance floor demolishing night.
M�TE�IALS LAU�C� 26�H JULY:
�HYT�M SECTIO� - 19TH JULY: After a 6 month break, Rhythm Section Returns to Peckham in style, pulling out all of the stops for a proper summer party. With Bussey's upgraded sound system and the inclusion of a live music room in Rye Wax's basement - its a don't miss scenario. Artists include Moxie, Prequel, Bradley Zero, Nick Hoppner, Dr. Banana, Z.F.E.X, Monzanto Sound and *Special Guests*.
�EDLAM A� BUSS�Y - 23 - 25 JU�Y: A three-day festival of brand new theatre and comedy from some of the UK's most exciting artists. Your chance to catch the hottest new shows before they take Edinburgh Fringe by storm and everyone else starts tweeting about them.
Bass, breaks, electro and beyond. A handful of some of the UK's most diverse selectors have got you covered as Brighton party Materials comes to London. Materials will give you energetic chest-rattling underground music provided by Facta, Laksa, Bruce, Loefah and L U C Y.
�YE W�X, → C�F AR� CA�E BASEME�T
P�N-TING SOU�H VO�.1 - 2�D JULY: Pen-Ting reaches south of the river! Come join us in Rye Wax for a FREE night of the dopest spoken word artists, the most innovative and idiosyncratic poets, and vocalists extraordinaries!
R�S.FM X RY� W�X: LON�O� - 21S� JULY: RTS.FM is the first international internet radio project with Live audiovisual broadcasting from 13+ studios around the world. This time they land in Rye Wax in the heart of Peckham London, the unique record shop and club space is the perfect venue to enjoy this Sunday.
C�U� YEK� - 25T� JULY: Tash LC presents Club Yeke, a night showcasing all the wicked sounds bubbling in the UK via the African Diaspora, Caribbean and beyond...
BLOCK A, BUSSEY BUILDING, PECKHAM WWW.CLFARTCAFE.ORG
INCOG�I�O �ADIO A�D F�IEN�S <3 12TH JU�Y: Incognito Radio is bringing thick Italo disco, house and everything left field to a dark basement with a pleasingly swampy sound system. Enter a throbbing cyclone of undulating beats as these DJs bring an unworldly selection - a cascade of wax to reach deep into yer’ soul. Artists include Tochgi Canopy, Rachael, Main Legs, Trixalade and Rough.
Alfresco Disco presents... Lower East Side A Daytime Block Party At a secret location in Bristol 20th July 2019 Tickets available online now from Crack magazine
THIS IS HARDCORE 18/19/20 JULY 2019 THURSDAY 18
Room 1 Tears In Rain
CHARLOTTE DE WITTE RØDHÅD FJAAK dj set ADIEL The Loft AMATO & ADRIANI live (The Hacker & Alessandro Adriani) GESLOTEN CIRKEL live LENA WILLIKENS IDENTIFIED PATIENT Lolita Nyege Nyege Shake Down Session KAMPIRE OTIM ALPHA live GAN GAH FRIDAY 19
Powered by FUEGO SQUAD
BHAD BHABIE STEVE LEAN PLACES + FACES presents PLUS SOUNDS The Loft Trill Trance Party EVIAN CHRIST EVOL SKUDERO TOTAL FREEDOM YVES TUMOR dj Lolita Suave A.G CHICA GANG Rex Room Broke Kids Takeover HAPPY COLORS KIKS MS NINA dj set MYGAL X SECRET GUESTS Room 1 Fuego
Room 1 Machine
BEN SIMS b2b DJ BONE SURGEON live REBEKAH live ALIENATA DJ BRUCE LEE The Loft BuggedOut! MOUNT KIMBIE dj set PARANOID LONDON dj set MELLA DEE ECLAIR FIFI Lolita Discwoman UMFANG BETA LIBRAE CIEL
THE STROPPIES THURS 18 JUL THE LEXINGTON HAND HABITS MON 19 AUG CHATS PALACE SAM EVIAN TUES 27 AUG THE LEXINGTON BEDOUINE SAT 7 SEPT QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL GIANT PARTY TUES 17 SEPT ELECTROWERKZ STEVE GUNN TUES 17 SEPT OMEARA NATALIE EVANS THURS 19 SEPT THE ISLINGTON ELSA HEWITT TUES 24 SEPT RYE WAX BABII THURS 26 SEPT SET DALSTON PLASTIC MERMAIDS THURS 3 OCT SCALA
BESS ATWELL THURS 10 OCT OMEARA
SHURA THURS 14 NOV ROUNDHOUSE
GHUM THURS 10 OCT THE WAITING ROOM
EZRA FURMAN THURS 14 NOV O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
ROZI PLAIN TUES 15 OCT VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
KATHRYN JOSEPH MON 18 NOV EARTH HACKNEY
KELLY MORAN WED 16 OCT KINGS PLACE
KEDR LIVANSKIY THURS 21 NOV BLOC
SKINNY PELEMBE WED 16 OCT MOTH CLUB
ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND TUES 26 NOV RICH MIX
EGYPTIAN BLUE WED 23 OCT SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
SIR WAS WED 27 NOV SCALA
ROSIE LOWE WED 23 OCT VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
BC CAMPLIGHT THURS 28 NOV ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
LISA MORGENSTERN THURS 24 OCT SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
FAT WHITE FAMILY MON 2 - THURS 5 DEC EARTH HACKNEY
GEORGIA TUES 5 NOV SCALA
IDER WED 5 FEB 2020 ELECTRIC BRIXTON
GIRL BAND TUES 5 NOV ELECTRIC BALLROOM
SLEATER-KINNEY WED 26 FEB 2020 O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON
PALACE SAT 9 NOV ROUNDHOUSE
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Editor's Letter – p.27
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The Click: Wata Igarashi – p.71 Retrospective: Barrio Fino – p.87 20 Questions: Eve – p.89
Rising: ((( O ))) - p.31
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15 + Commissioned Works by 21 Downbeat & Jens Friebe, ANDRRA, Ilgen-Nur, International Music & The Dorf, Janto Djassi Roessner, Jauche, KlitClique, Lisa Morgenstern & Bulgarian Voices Berlin, Magic Island, Masha Qrella, Moshtari Hilal (Exhibition), Nikko Weidemann, Nuray Demir (Installation), »Pop-Hayat«-Yeşim Duman, Rosaceae. 60+ Concerts and DJ sets by Adelle Nqeto, »African Beats & Pieces«, Ah! Kosmos, Alex Kelman, alyona alyona, Anna Aaron, Anna Calvi, ÄTNA, AWA Khiwe, Blu Samu, BNNT, ByLwansta & Robot Koch, Camilla Sparksss, CocoRosie, Dacid Go8lin, Decibelles, Deerhoof, Die Goldenen Zitronen, Die Heiterkeit, Die Kerzen, Gillian Gilbert, Haszcara, Iotaphi, Jenny Wilson, Jessica Einaudi, Juicy, Jungstötter, Karies, Lali Puna, Léonie Pernet, Little Annie & Paul Wallfisch, Maarja Nuut & Ruum, Malonda, Mauvais Œil, Michelle Blades, Молчат Дома, Mona Mur, Mykki Blanco, Nerima Groove, Nic Sleazy, Núria Graham, Odd Beholder, Okzharp & Manthe Ribane, One Mother, Oum Shatt, Perel, Planningtorock, »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs«, Prada Meinhoff, Repetitor, Rosemary Loves A Blackberry, Shabazz Palaces, Shari Vari, Shuma, Someone Who Isn't Me, Station 17, SYTË, Teresa Rotschopf, UMA, Voodoo Beach, Xen, and a few more. 20+ Talks and Movies by Bad & Boujee, Ben Salomo, Berlin Club Memes, Boris Paillard, Dennis Pohl, Dirk von Lowtzow, DJ Ipek, Ebow, Elske Rosenfeld, Emotional Labor Queen, »Everybody in the Place« – Jeremy Deller, Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, Isabelle Edi, Jakob Nolte, Jens Balzer, Juno Meineke, Kristof Hahn, Leif Randt, Leyla Yenirce, Louise Brailey, Marco Porsia, Mariana Berezovska, Max Le Daron, Max Rieger & Max Gruber, Nick Soulsby, Pamela Owusu-Brenyah, Stephen Morris, »Where Does a Body End?« – Marco Porsia, and a few more.
Crack Magazine Was Made Using
In September 2018, The New York Times published an unusual obituary. The article, titled R.I.P., the Celebrity Profile, outlined the slow death of the revealing profile piece. Critic Jon Caramanica argued that today’s pop stars are reluctant to answer questions, to open up a dialogue with a journalist they can’t control, and to dedicate time and focus to the process; often choosing to direct their own narrative instead.
Anthony Naples Lucys Clairo 4EVER Laurie Spiegel Patchwork ((( O ))) Offline Raveena Saltwater Jai Paul Crush - Unfinished Tyler, The Creator IFHY Steve Lacy N Side Kim Petras Another One Tama Impala Eventually Nasty Cherry What Do You Like In Me GoldLink Zulu Screams Octavian ft. ABRA My Head Sleezy D I’ve Lost Control Freddie Gibbs & Madlib Bandana
J Hus shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Crowns & Owls in London, June 2019
Has music journalism taken a hit? In my experience, people can be guarded about putting their story in the hands of a writer. And you can see why. With our increasingly visual culture, intense online climate, and social media offering a controlled closeness to an audience, sometimes artists aren’t thrilled about expressing themselves to a stranger with words they could tap out with careful scrutiny instead. So it’s satisfying when an artist takes pause, and really lets you into their headspace – offering not just proximity, but intimacy. J Hus had a reputation for being a little press shy, and considering the events of his past year, you’d forgive him for being cautious about who he lets into his world. But in our cover story he’s thoughtful, open and generous with his answers. Unpacking those 12 months – his come-up colliding with a short prison sentence, and returning to the studio via one huge homecoming – with journalist Kieran Yates, you get the sense he’s reflecting on his situation in ways he hasn’t before. It’s an illuminating picture of a beloved artist easing his way back into the public eye. It feels good to publish this cover story in my last issue – this month I say R.I.P., my role as Editor. (My time at the magazine isn’t over though, I’ll be here part-time as Associate Editor.) And I’m excited to handover to Louise Brailey, who is already an integral part of our voice. If you’ve read these notes along the way, thanks – letting your thoughts out can be terrifying, but it’s been a treat to share mine with you. Anna Tehabsim, Editor
Robyn Call Your Girlfriend
Minor Science MOT Unit 18 19 July
Recommended O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty
Lovebox J Hus, slowthai, Solange Gunnersbury Park, London 12-13 July Girlpool Moth Club 8 July
nachtdigital Marie Davidson, Powder, Shed Germany 2-4 August
Show Me the Body Moth Club 10 July
After 22 years of excellent parties, the founders of nachtdigital are sadly calling it a day. If you haven’t been before, here’s your chance to catch one of the most respected raves around before it boogies into the sunset. Looking at the line-up, it seems the organisers have chosen the selectors that they’d like the festival to be remembered by. Powder will be there to dispense dancefloor delights, Deena Abdelwahed will be exploring the margins of global bass music, plus there’s a whole swathe of programme dedicated to the best of the 2019 ambient scene. Goodbye nachtdigital, we’re really going to miss you.
Situated in west London’s Gunnersbury Park, Lovebox continues to book the latest and greatest names in R&B, hip-hop and dance music. But this year feels extra special. After a forced hiatus, Crack Magazine cover star J Hus is making his long-awaited comeback, bringing his signature sunsoaked UK rap sounds to the main stage. Elsewhere, slowthai will inject some political urgency into the crowd, Solange and her tight-knit band will undoubtedly shower their graceful sounds over you, and Chance the Rapper will bring his signature sunshine attitude to the mix. With bulkbuy ticket offers on the go, it’s the best reason to get the crew together this summer. After all, Hus is home.
Appelsap Maleek Berry, Flohio, Funkineven Flevopark, Amsterdam 10 August
Ricardo Villalobos fabric 20 July
AJ Tracey XOYO 8 July
The former block party returns to the Dutch capital for another full day of hip-hop pop-offs from the freshest and most exciting acts in the genre right now. Flohio won’t be one you'll want to miss, the MC has already been flexing on the festival circuit all summer with her energy-packed shows. Young creator RIMON will bring blissed-out R&B flavours from Eritrea if you’re in the mood for a more soulful afternoon, and Wizkid producer Maleek Berry will be doing what he does best: getting you winding. If you’re a hip-hop fan based in Europe, this festival should be on your bucket list.
Lil Keed Phonox 8 July
lisb-ON Marcel Dettmann, Zip, Caroline Lethô Lisbon, Portugal 6-8 September Rosalía Somerset House 15 July
Smack in the middle of Portugal’s coastal capital city, yet still pleasingly hidden from view, lisb-ON features some huge names in dance music. Celebrated selectors touch down in Lisbon’s most iconically hedged park Eduardo VII for an edition to remember. The likes of Marcel Dettmann, Zip and Carl Craig will dominate the decks, joined by an arsenal of Portuguese talent, too. Of these, we’d make the effort to take in the airy thumpers of Caroline Lethô, the high-octane jazzery of Helena Guedes, and the relatively minimal beats of Joao Girao. Loads to get your teeth into – when you’re done sampling the local seafood by day, of course.
Sziget Festival Big Thief, Post Malone, Khruangbin Budapest 7-13 August Colourful, cute ’n’ quirky, Budapest’s Sziget encourages the little kid in you to get out and have a dance to some of the planet’s biggest acts. Emerge from a refreshing visit to a Budapestian bathhouse after a full night of partying and straight onto the festival island where you can see the likes of IAMDDB, IDLES, Micheal Kiwanuka and Big Thief alongside thousands of like-minded Szitizens over seven days of thrills. The headliners are substantial, too, with The 1975, Florence + the Machine, The National and Post Malone all in attendance. You won’t want to go home.
Sons of Kemet Somerset House 13 July
Amber Mark Scala 9 July
Melvins Electric Ballroom 10 July
The Internet Somerset House 11 July
The Body The Dome 12 July
Bluedot Festival Jon Hopkins, Sons of Kemet, Kelly Lee Owens Cheshire, UK 18-21 July Bluedot looks to the stars for inspiration for their stellar festival, and this year it’s shaping up to be out of this world. Based in the shadow of an enormous observatory in the rolling hills of Cheshire, it showcases a line-up of perspective-pushing music alongside hands-on science workshops, art installations, talks, and much more to help you see our planet in a new light. Kraftwerk headline on Saturday with their iconic 3D show, Kelly Lee Owens will transport you to another planet with her laid-back techno productions, and the science and tech programme isn’t to be sniffed at either. There’s a celebration of cosmic culture on the cards, too – make space the place.
This August, Southbank Centre opens its doors once more for its annual Meltdown Festival. This time, they’ve invited legendary disco songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers to curate the programme – which includes a rare live show from visionary producer and former Crack Magazine cover star SOPHIE. Originally from Glasgow, the daring artist came up through the playful beginnings of PC Music’s earlier years, before moving on to produce for pop royalty like Madonna, Charli XCX and Kim Petras. 2018 welcomed her critically acclaimed debut album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, a body of work that blasts glacial electronic textures, industrial chimes and hyperpop into a whole new world of its own. A trailblazer in every right, here you have a chance to step into her intoxicatingly uncanny universe.
Novelist Brixton Jamm 18 July
The same team who puts on Turin's brilliant Club to Club festival also produces this multi-venue banger of a festival that takes advantage of the historic venues and cuttingedge clubs of Valle d’Itria, while adding a few specially constructed stages of their own. Yves Tumor is just one of the intriguing headliners, bringing a new guitar-fuelled vision to the stage, and Erykah Badu will appear as her Lo Down Loretta Brown DJ alterego behind the decks. The rest is crammed with underground heroes like Powder and Jayda G, and for those who want to take their joy to celestial reaches, Todd Terje will also be playing out one of his trademark luminescent sets. Best not miss.
Neopop Jeff Mills, Ivan Smagghe, Amelie Lens Viana do Castelo, Portugal 7-10 August Don’t be fooled by this Portuguese festival’s name – Neopop isn't interested in the world of pop music. What they prefer is techno in all its exciting forms. Against the dramatic setting of the coastal town of Viana do Castelo, attendees can observe a full span of techno wonderment, from the genre’s spiritual father Jeff Mills, to slightly newer offspring of the art form, like Héctor Oaks, Julianna and Japanese acid savant Wata Igarashi. It’s going to be a hell of a time.
Garbage Kew Gardens 13 July
Floating Points fabric 7 July
Travis Scott The O2 16 July
Optimo Phonox 12 July
KALLIDA Debonair, Joy Orbison, DJ Bus Replacement Service Yeovil, UK 19-21 July
Teki Latex MOT Unit 18 26 July
Giant Swan Oval Space 12 July
If you like your festivals dinky and dance-focused, this mini festival in a Georgian mansion may well do it for you. Though the rave has shifted from one grand home to another (from Baskerville Hall in Wales, to Sparkford Hall in Somerset), the organisers are promising the same ‘mad house party in a different mad house.’ There is certainly some mad stuff on the line-up: DJ Bus Replacement Service is known for her unhinged and usually totally inappropriate forays into gabber and meme-adjacent music, and Teki Latex is all over hyped-up edits and freakishly fast samples used in inventive new ways. Yeovil isn’t going to know what’s hit it.
Bristol techno punks Giant Swan have been on a steady ascent. The duo, made up of Robin Stewart and Harry Wright, once made noise as part of The Naturals, a guitarleaning band that became more experimental over time. Now, they’re whipping dancefloors into a frenzy with their full-bodied techno, a wall of sound created entirely by live improvisation. On this night, they’re joined by dystopian electro genius DJ Stingray, homegrown 90s legend Goldie, and the inimitable electronic composer Afrodeutsche. It’s going to get loud.
Sherelle XOYO 12 July
VIVA! Erykah Badu, Jayda G, Yves Tumor Valle d'Itria, Italy 1-4 August
SOPHIE Southbank Centre 10 August
((( O ))) has chosen a name that's unpronounceable on purpose. “I don't resonate with my [given] name,” the emerging experimental R&B auteur explains, speaking over a crackly line from the Philippine jungle. “I'm super energy-based, so the best representation of who I am is without words.” She’s not even worried about being impossible to search on the internet. “It's really good that I’ve ‘selfsabotaged’ by not having a name,” she reflects. “It keeps me grounded, and constantly reminds me of why I'm doing this project at all. This is not just about music or getting famous.”
herself. Her approach is a breath of fresh air in a music industry that has been increasingly scrutinised for being eco-ignorant. “Using solar panels, I’m powered by the sun and don’t depend on anyone. Creating art without needing anyone's approval is the most pure form of discovering yourself. I need to go back into society to spread these messages the best way I know how, which is through music.” Later in the year, ((( O ))) will release her first annual sundrop at a launch that will promote biodiversity, gardening and a sustainable approach to living.
Rising: ((( O )))
The record features gorgeous nature recordings, thoughtful spoken word and ruminations on the universe through ((( O )))’s eyes. Although she concedes that the world is “pretty much fucked,” she wants to share as much of her knowledge from the jungle as she can with others. “You have to go back and try to help,” she says determinedly. “I can serve the world with my message, and bring the things we may have forgotten back here as well. I can do both worlds.”
Words: Sammy Jones
((( O )))’s debut album is set for release this summer
This sustainable, big-picture approach is unsurprising. After leaving “everything” behind in America, ((( O ))) works alone from a solar-powered treehouse studio in the jungle. She’s at the beginning of a 12-year-long project during which she will release yearly musical ‘sundrops’, and shorter monthly ‘moondrops’. Her latest moondrop, a track named One, Two, is typical of her work so far: blissedout R&B rhythms interacting with her elastic vocals, alongside lyrical references to following the stars. Figuring out how ((( O ))) links her ecologically-minded life in the jungle – where she has opened a community store, searches for ancient medicinal plants and works under a spiritual mentor – to the Western world can be difficult for her. “Sharing this with people is a whole other challenge,” she muses. “How can I bridge [my work] with modernity without compromising? How far can I push it without losing the things I believe in?” Sounds Like: Low-slung, soulnourishing R&B Soundtrack For: Reflective morning walks in the sunshine File Next To: Raveena, Jhene Aiko Our Favourite Song: One, Two Where to Find Her: lllolll.bandcamp.com
((( O ))) is certain that the will of nature is best left untampered with, both within the natural world and within
J Hus is ready for you MUSIC
Words: Kieran Yates Photography: Crowns & Owls Styling & Direction: Ade & Michelle
Jacket: Bianca Saunders Top: Vintage Moschino c/o 194 Local
Hat: The Real McCoy's Top: John Lawrence Sullivan Vest & Trousers: ABAGA VELLI Shoes: Asics x Kiko Kostadinov
J Hus is rubbing his temples as he recalls one of the most seismic music moments of the year. “That moment… was the moment I’ve been waiting for. Everyday I’d been saying to myself, ‘I can’t wait to be home,’ and then I’m home and I get to shake the world like that.” He has a wide grin and he’s back there, earlier this April when Drake, as part of his show at London’s O2 Arena, invited J Hus onstage for his first public appearance since he’d been released from prison. He found out about it before his release. “I just kept it to myself,” he says. “I prepared myself mentally. Before I went onstage, my manager was like, ‘That stage is… kinda big.’ I was nervous, but as soon as I went on, I was like, ‘Yes, this stage is for me.’” Hus is sprawled out in a studio chair, shaking his head. “The reaction was crazy. People crying, the ‘Welcome Home’ sign! [the message was lit up onstage] I didn’t know I was this supported. I didn’t know people loved me like that.” People do love him like that, and it’s with excitement (and relief) that today,
Hus is in a recording studio, situated at the end of a meandering, single-lane countryside road by the River Medway in Kent. It’s respite, miles away from the small, two-bedroom house on a Stratford estate in east London where he grew up with his mum, younger brother and sister. Growing up Muslim meant that Hus didn't have the usual musical education of church like many of his rap peers. Instead, the second generation British Gambian says his distinct ear was honed through his mum and stepdad playing African music, Whitney Houston and Beenie Man in the house.
His underground ratings were bubbling on low heat for longer before that though, with his 2014 SoundCloud upload, Vacation, and freestyles that featured on the now-defunct Newham YouTube channel FLI5STAR. The hype led to 2015's anthemic Dem Boy Paigon, a record deal with Black Butter, and the genre-defying Brit, Mercury and MOBO-nominated Common Sense. His debut album, it cemented the universal party appeal of tracks like Friendly and the contagion of his ‘hustler baby, hustler baby’ adlibs, and clocked up more than 10 million streams and counting.
The result is a playful and intoxicating mix of UK rap. In recent years he’s been championed for bringing sounds of the diaspora together through Afrobeat and bashment-inspired hybrids. So much influence has he had that he's almost single-handedly spawned the (slightly hackneyed) genre classification 'Afro Swing'.
Then, last year, time stopped for a brief moment. Hus was caught in Stratford Westfield shopping centre carrying a knife and sentenced to eight months (serving four) in Pentonville prison. Today, a Wednesday afternoon, he’s comfortable in an all-black Adidas tracksuit and white socks and sliders, shuffling around the place he’s made his makeshift home for the last seven weeks. “Studio is home for me now,” he grins. He’s visibly different: contemplative, deeper voiced, and physically bulked up. He is, of course, as likeable as always, bragging about his maddeningly simple (but
The last time I met Hus – real name Mamodou Jallow – was in 2017, around the release of Common Sense. He was stuffing socks into smoke alarms so that he could smoke weed in the backstage green room of a show.
After creating the music moment of the year just three weeks after a forced hiatus, J Hus is back with new music, new reflections, and the same charisma. We catch him in a moment of contemplation to look at life over the last few months, going vegan with the help of YouTube, and becoming a man.
effective) skincare regime: “it’s just olive oil, seriously!” As moisture collects on the leaves outside of the tall windows, I ask whether London feels like a place to escape from now, all things considered. “You know what it is? Here’s just quiet, peaceful. I don’t have a phone. Right now, I’m low-key, not trying to be seen. Well, until the album comes out and then I’m—” he claps his hands enthusiastically, as if he just did a magic trick. I ask what else is new and he cracks a wide smile. “I’m a vegan now!” he declares, describing his recipesourcing. “I go on YouTube and I just type in ‘vegan food’ and follow directions from some next people… but I’m still a West African boy. The last thing I made was dumplings, okra chips, plantain, wild rice and Portobello mushrooms, but I made it into nuggets,” he says proudly. The cooking is, partly, a welcome dietary shift from prison food which he describes as “not good”, but also a nod to being in what he calls a “good place”. He is definitely focused on music as therapy. If last time he was
incarcerated (in Feltham in 2015 for a litany of convictions, including knife possession) he recalls listening to Gangnam Style on TV, this time, it was strictly work, listening to instrumentals sourced from shared CDs and writing to them.
“My plan wasn’t ‘I’m going to do this rap ting, and I’m going to be a role model’. But now I understand that, being in this position, it comes with it.”
He namechecks Shakespeare poems, fashion magazines and books on “atoms and science and that” as part of his Pentonville reading list. Also a part of his lust for information gathering was finding the thrill in details of rumoured cannibalistic dictators. One of the first lyrics he wrote after his release was a verse on What Do You Mean, from Skepta’s recently-released album Ignorance Is Bliss, that references Ugandan tyrannical despot Idi Amin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “I’ve known about [Idi Amin] since I was young,” he explains. “I heard rumours he used to eat people!” The psychological impact of being confined for four months then re-entering the music world in front of 20,000 people was, as Hus acknowledges, more than a homecoming. It was a slightly nerve-wracking coming-of-age. Part of that was getting right back to work. He welcomes me from the front door over plush rugs and settles down to play new music. He’s smiling, between
Hat: The Real McCoy's Top: Visvim Jacket: CP Company Trousers: Monad
shyness and pride, but the songs aren’t finished yet due to a brief Ramadanenforced break. “I didn’t want to be recording while I was fasting, you get me?” Not that taking a breath has diminished his fan base. The night before we meet, J Hus is trending on Twitter after the tracklist for Ed Sheeran’s new album shows him on a track with Young Thug. The tweets are jubilant – people love to love Hus, and the tweets implore him to make more music so that their summer can officially start. He presses play, and the studio is filled with a charismatic jolt that reminds you of his fun spirit and sheer electricity. Some of these songs he’s been sitting on since Common Sense, others are brand new. One is a pulsing, bodyswaying blend of upbeat R&B which shouts out the aunties. Another is a gluttonous, icier foray into bashment, which namechecks fortune telling and er, Arnold Schwarzenegger. On one joyfully catch Afrobeat track the hook is just an instrumental. “I’m saving that for someone like Wizkid or Burna Boy, not sure yet,” he says nonchalantly. It sounds like the music to come will also be massive, and between excitement, I tell him about how conflicting it feels to challenge an artist you’re such a fan of. On one hand, at 24, Hus is a young man who has undergone trauma from historical violence (in 2015 he was stabbed five times), suffered the loss of his father early last year, and found protection from his own fear the only way he knew how, caught in a moment. On the other, he is a global superstar, a role model who, some may say, has made the debate around knife crime and UK rap harder to defend. He gets it. “You see, Common Sense times, all them times, I realised – being in jail – that I didn’t appreciate, or understand what I had,” he says. “The come-up was so fast, and I was so young… People are watching me grow from a boy into a man.” The hindrance to being such a celebrated artist with a rapid ascension is that news of your misdemeanours becomes part of your story whether you like it or not. For Hus, an eightmonth prison term in the middle of his story brought into focus what he didn’t see before. “My plan wasn’t ‘I’m going to do this rap ting, and I’m going to be a role model, and all the kids are going to look up to me’. But now I understand that, being in this position, it comes with it.”
“People don’t know how powerful they are, especially black men”
“When I was in jail, people would look at me like I’m crazy, asking ‘How have you had this opportunity and ended up in here?’” He pauses to think. “Being humble is good, yeah, but I feel like I didn’t know how big I was.”
“See, the life I lived before this music thing, it was hard innit,” he says quietly. “A lot of us youths, we take the wrong path, we make decisions when we’re young that we don’t know is gonna affect us later.”
argument shouldn’t be about drill, the argument should be about: what can we all do. Everyone’s saying ‘it’s drill, it’s the drill artists.’ But the person that’s saying that, what have they done for knife crime?”
“That’s what I’ve learned. People don’t know how powerful they are, especially black men. We always degrade ourselves. We don’t know ourselves. If you look at rap culture, it promotes boy-ism, it doesn’t promote men. So a lot of us, we’re 30, 40, and we’re still boys. Can I ask you a question? How many black men that are 30-plus, do you think other black men want to be like?”
I ask him how it feels to be so visible compared to his previous life of concealing his body and cautiously looking around corners. He takes a long, 30-second pause and we sit in silence for a moment, the question hanging in the air as he contemplates the differences between us before gently answering.
Spending time with Hus, even in these reflective moments, is energising. He is wickedly funny, quietly confident and disarmingly sweet. His real story, away from the tabloid headlines, is one of artistic exceptionalism – someone who has shifted the musical landscape so much, that it’s difficult to think what the current charts, festival line-ups or radio would sound like without him. Contemporaries like MoStack, Dave and Stormzy all consider him inspirations, and Jae 5, his producer who re-joins him for this album, is hot property thanks to the magic of Common Sense.
“…This could be a dangerous situation?” “Exactly.”
It must be strange to draw comparisons between his dad being “closed off” and his own inability to process his fear. How much does he think PTSD brought on from his earlier stabbing played a part in his decision to take a knife to Westfield? He sighs and leans back in his black leather studio chair. “I was a zombie,” he says. “You know what it is, all this knife crime stuff – I feel like people undermine it, they don’t understand the effects of it. You know like soldiers that go to war have PTSD, there was a point in my life, even to this day, if I walk in the street I have to look at every car that’s driving past…” he trails off.
I tell him that 24 hours prior, drill rappers Skengdo and AM were in parliament with Diane Abbott discussing the censorship of drill music, the rap movement that is accused of contributing to the increasingly high numbers of knife murders in the UK. The result has been widespread censorship of the sound. “If you feel like the things they’re rapping about are so shocking, why do you just want to put them in a cage?” he questions. “Give them some mental help! I feel like a lot of black people are suffering from mental illness. The
His future plans will see him breaking out of this moment of quiet again, and include a trip to Gambia later in the year, as well as festival appearances and a new album. This time, he’s drinking it all in. If he didn’t before, it seems like he finally gets it. He is a big deal. People are rooting for him. Before I leave the studio I give him a hug and mention that he must be excited to go home. He gives a mock puzzled look in response: “...I’m home!” J Hus appears at Lovebox, Gunnersbury Park, London, 12 July
The question is rhetorical, and isn’t really for me to answer. I’m just a sounding board for him to consider his learnings in real time. As he reflects on his journey into manhood, he mentions the recent loss of his father. “I wish I could speak to him because there’s certain things that I used to hate about him that I see in myself. He was closed off. He was strict. He was stiff. He should have been in the army, would have been perfect in the military, still.”
“See… for you, you walk into a room and you ain’t gotta worry about nothing, you’re calm. But me, I’m worrying, it’s a distraction, it’s a weakness. It’s weird when I say it, but it makes some of your senses more stronger than others. When you walk into a room you see certain things, but for me, my head is elsewhere. I’m thinking about other things like…”
up i r e n
o r w g in is
After a storm of viral success, the 20-year-old songwriter is learning to embrace the unknown
Words: Sydney Gore Photography: Michelle Helena Janssen Art Direction: Ade Udoma Styling: Dominick Barcelona Make-up Artist: Mimi Quiquine Set Design: Mat Cullen
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to realise that I made the music. Giving myself credit has been one of the hardest things throughout all of this.”
The breakout single was initially featured on the now-defunct The Le Sigh’s third compilation tape released through Father/Daughter Records. The accompanying video sees Clairo on her bed lip syncing into her laptop with various props from her room. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but that sense of normalcy seemed to be what made it so appealing to the online community. Soon enough, a burgeoning swarm of Gen Z fans whose insecurities resonated with hers followed, and now she has 992,000 of them gushing over her on Instagram. As of today, the video has racked up more than 34 million views. At the time, she was just another student at Syracuse University making
music on GarageBand and uploading it to SoundCloud. There was no strategy aside from putting the tracks out for fun. But after that first semester of college, Clairo began living a double life. On weekends, she would travel to Chicago to record and then return to the isolation of upstate New York for her regular schedule of classes. Online, Clairo was becoming famous, but on campus she blended in amongst the rest of her peers. “I was feeling a lot of pressure,” she admits. “You don't really know who you are yet, you don't know who you look up to or what you want to do with this platform, yet you have it and you have to act now… I didn't know what I wanted out of it because it was so instantaneous.” The expectations were high for diary 001, Clairo’s self-produced debut EP, which featured collaborations with Danny L Harle and Rejjie Snow. After completing a European headline tour, she flew out to Los Angeles in January to start working on her debut album, Immunity, which is set for release this August. “I think the moment I left [Syracuse], I had time to focus on one thing, and it's given me time to figure myself out,” she says. Clairo spent weeks building up her confidence as a writer and producer.
After a successful session with former Vampire Weekend producer Rostam, she decided to have him produce the entire record. Throughout the process, he became a mentor to her, but it was only recently that Clairo started viewing herself as a professional singer as opposed to “an artist that uses her voice to get her point across.” Identity is something that Clairo has struggled with for much of her young adult life. She’s openly queer, but tells me about how she didn’t “come out” in the traditional sense. Clairo leans in closer on the couch to say how she was waiting for the moment speaking about her sexuality felt right. “It's something I've known my whole life and never felt comfortable enough to vocalise,” she explains. “I'm not trying to talk about it now just because it's quote, unquote 'trendy' or 'cool' to be gay. That’s not the intention, but it does help me feel more comfortable now that it's an open discussion.” Immunity is also about taking negative situations and turning them into positive experiences. The title is a play on words in reference to the autoimmune disease that she suffers from, rheumatoid arthritis. “[My friend and I] were talking about how sometimes it feels like we're acting because you can't see it,” she says. “I feel it, but am I just being really
Claire Cottrill is chatty even though she just woke up. On this particular morning at her apartment in Bushwick, the 20-year-old is most comfortable in a ribbed white tank and pink tie dyed shorts, sitting in the corner of her couch with her legs stretched out on a wooden table. Her speaking voice is gentle, exactly how you’d expect if you’re familiar with the lo-fi pop she releases under the name Clairo. She lets out a big yawn before telling me about how she’s experienced a lot of growth in the year and a half since she accidentally went viral with her 2017 song Pretty Girl.
dramatic? Does it really hurt that much? Or do I just want attention? But then you go to the doctor and they’re like, ‘You have permanent damage to your elbows and knees.’” Although it’s not overt, the tracks where she alludes to her invisible condition are about yearning for a person who fully accepts you despite physical limitations. The album is also about being immune to negativity – acknowledging that it exists, but making sure that these experiences don't define her. One of the narratives that Clairo was forced to rewrite was the idea that she’s an industry plant. She’s aware of how her family’s connections open her up to criticism (her father is a longtime friend of Jon Cohen, co-founder of The FADER and FADER Label). However, Clairo asserts that she chose to sign with FADER out of the necessity of having a familiar face around that she could trust as her career unexpectedly took off. “I agree that I come from a more privileged place, but I do think it's silly to say that [my dad] paid for my career, like he's the reason I'm doing anything,” she says. “I want people to know that my dad is a dad. If he's anything in this process, he's really just a support system for me emotionally.” As she reflects on the whole debacle, she’s not defensive. Clairo acknowledges that she’s extremely lucky to have powerful people in her corner that want to see her succeed. While the misconceptions about how things are handled behind-the-scenes is frustrating, she’s able to look back at the experience from a place of gratitude because people are watching her grow and learn in real time.
“I sometimes feel bad that I take up the space that I do,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to realise that I made the music. Giving myself credit has been one of the hardest things throughout all of this.” But Clairo invites the criticism. She’s conscious that she has a younger fan base and while she hasn't necessarily set out to be a role model, she does believe in taking on the responsibility of being someone that they can look up to. So, she’s choosing to celebrate the progress that she’s made. “This album is necessary for me to move forward. It's showing everyone how I want to be. This is the music I always wanted to make,” she says. “It’s who I am.” For the time being, Clairo just wants to make music that speaks to her truth. She’s living out a dream that she’s been imagining for herself since the sixth grade, but there’s still more work to be done. She wants to get more involved in her local community. Eventually, she might go back to school to get a degree so she can teach art to second graders in the area. After confirming that “we plan and God laughs” is not a Rihanna quote, Clairo goes on to outline how that saying is a representation of her whole life. “I've tried to plan around this viral video, tried to plan my life around what it should be… After this shit happened to me, you just have to run with it,” she smiles. “You don't know what's going to happen and that's the best part.”
Immunity is out 2 August via FADER Label
With heavenly R&B, New York artist Raveena maps out a space for healing
Words: Rhian Daly Photography: Davey Adesida Styling: Aeri Yun Hair & Makeup: Shideh Kafei
“The industry always says there’s no space for you. People consider you niche just because of your race, even if your music is pop." Harlem’s Apollo Theater has helped numerous musical legends get their start in the 85 years since it opened. Its weekly talent competition called Amateur Night played a part in launching the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Dionne Warwick and Ella Fitzgerald. It’s also where New York-based R&B singer Raveena began her journey into music. When Raveena was eight years old, her class went on a field trip to the lauded Manhattan venue, where she was first introduced to the music of Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Something about them connected with her instantly, spurring her to seek out their music back at home. “They expressed so much pain and hope in their voices at the same time,” she says, sat cross-legged on her bed in Astoria, Queens, just across the East River from where she had this pivotal encounter. “The emotions of R&B and soul are similar to the sounds I was hearing in Bollywood music. Those songs have this nostalgic and deeply emotional feeling.” At the time, Raveena was living in Stamford, Connecticut with her mother (a fashion designer) and father (a businessman). Her parents had escaped genocide in India and moved to Queens at first, but later relocated to rural suburbia when she was five. “We lived in this really tiny house in the woods,” she recalls. “I was talking to trees and had this very intuitive childhood in nature, which was really beautiful.”
Growing up, Raveena tells me, she didn’t have many friends, so music became her place in which to process her thoughts and feelings. It still has
the same purpose for her now as it did when she wrote her first song, aged 12. “I always feel a little off-centre and out of touch when I’m not writing,” she says. “It’s always been my therapy and the way that I understand myself better.” The first evidence online of Raveena’s forays into songwriting is very different to the artist who exists today. Sitars and tala rhythms weave beneath clubby pop on her debut tracks Sign Your Name and Cry No More – both as emotionally-charged as her later work, just wrapped in different packages. Later, she began experimenting with a more soulful, tranquil iteration of R&B. Shanti, her subsequent 2017 debut EP, saw her settle into her new sound and eventually led her to the stage at Camp Flog Gnaw, the festival curated by Tyler, the Creator, with whom she now shares management. In the two years since those events, Raveena was working on her debut full-length, Lucid, released on her own label Moonstone in May. On it we find the 25-year-old sharing more of herself than ever. The album deals with a previous abusive relationship, documented in the velvety flow of Salty Water (“I think my body’s had enough going through this”) and the smooth snap of Stronger, which finds its protagonist growing in power as the song progresses. The latter came pouring out during unexpected sickness on Raveena’s 25th birthday. “I’d randomly gotten food poisoning and I’d thrown up maybe 15 times,” she says, her eyes fixed as if she’s looking into her past. “I’d reached this kind of ayahuasca state with it and wrote Stronger at 3am.
I always had that song in me, but it was like I needed something extreme to happen to write it.” The DIY musician had been wanting to write about the feeling of being disconnected from your body after suffering physical abuse but, having found a safe place with boyfriend and producer Everett Orr since, found it hard to access the same feelings that she had once grappled with. “In that trip, I was [out of control] so I think it brought me back into that place,” she explains. To her, it was important to tackle her trauma not only as a means of processing her experiences for herself, but also as a source of healing for others. Lucid doesn’t just focus on bad relationships, though. It also examines the blissful sides of love. Nectar’s feather-soft psychedelic breeze highlights Raveena’s empowering way of writing about sex. “I could surely provide/ Mother Earth in my thighs” she purrs over jazzy inflections, later building a picture of the imperfections that often get airbrushed out of women in mainstream media, like stretch marks and knotted hair. “I always try and write about sex from a non-heteronormative and non-male view,” she admits. “It’s about feeling sexy for myself and whoever I want to be sexy for.” Raveena’s family and their experiences as immigrants also play a big role in her debut album, with two songs detailing their perspectives at different times of their lives. Nani’s Interlude features a recording of her grandmother talking about death. “She never really speaks English so it was amazing to catch her in this 30-second moment where she does,” Raveena smiles. The fact that her parents uprooted their lives from India to America was, according to Raveena, why they were initially dubious about her making music for a living. “Immigrant parents want safety and financial security for their children first,” she explains, her voice calm with understanding. “Once I started making my money off of it, I
think they realised, ‘Oh, this actually can work.’” You can see why they’d be cautious. Raveena might have proved that she doesn’t need the machinations of the music biz to be successful, completely self-funding her music videos and independently releasing her music, but she’s aware that’s not always the case for everyone. “This has happened to South Asian artists for decades,” she sighs. “The industry always says there’s no space for you. You’re not white, you’re not black, you’re not Latinx – there’s no ‘obvious market’ for you to fall into. People consider you niche just because of your race, even if your music is pop." As a teenager, Raveena explains she only had M.I.A. to represent “some version of herself”, even though the two artists make wildly different music. But with the steady globalisation of music, Raveena hopes that won’t be the case for much longer. “It’s good because it gives people something to identify with, but I hope there’s a time when music is a bit more fluid,” she says. “Five albums from now, it’ll be very different.” In the immediate future, though, Raveena has a US tour to plan. True to her soothing aesthetic, she wants to flip the energy of a live show on its head and create something where people can feel relaxed instead. “If I can even touch just a few people’s lives in a meaningful way, I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.” Lucid is out now via Moonstone
LAURIE SPIEGEL’S The revolutionary electronic musician reflects on a life’s work at the vanguard of music – and why she’s still an old-fashioned composer at heart
054 The only time Laurie Spiegel leaves the city is when she visits her childhood home in Chicago. It’s difficult for the electronic music pioneer to make time to leave behind the apartment in TriBeca she’s lived in since 1976. Here, she and her six-year-old rescue cat Pussins dwell among the winding piles of computers, stacks of books like Cybernetic Music and The Tao of AppleScript, and various instruments that have accumulated in this space over 43 years. There is also the flock of pigeons she cares for to think about, and the bird rescue group she runs, and the matter of finding a particular file, wherever it may be, for someone who might request it from the massive archive at any moment. But when she does manage to get back to her parents' house in Chicago, she is at peace. The house, which sits on the edge of a ravine (“there's wildlife around,” she says), is filled with paintings, weavings and sculptures her mother, a math teacher, made, alongside various mechanical handiworks by her father, who was an inventor and independent businessman with many patents. She returns to the house on occasion to gradually sort through all these items, and, away from the noisy streets of downtown Manhattan, she enjoys the quiet. “The ability to just take a cup of coffee out into the backyard, and have an actual backyard, and listen to the breeze and the trees, that's something that I really miss, being in the city,” the 74-year-old artist tells me. We happen to be drinking coffee, which Spiegel offered after welcoming me into her TriBeca loft, on the fifth floor of a building mainly occupied by the artist Richard Serra. Spiegel’s coffee mug is a giraffe (“Where did that giraffe run off to?” she asks before we settle in, after feeding Pussins), and mine is Star Trek-themed. We are sitting together on her couch – with a vintage Apple computer, an old black-andwhite television test pattern, a shelf of computer art programmes, and a couple menorahs behind us – talking about information overload, folk music and history.
Words: Leah Mandel Photography: Davey Adesida
“It's preposterous to be discovered at my age,” Spiegel tells me. To have been a low-profile artist for the majority of her life, and then to experience a significant uptick in recognition in her 70s. It’s disorienting. “The world has changed so much, and there's so much to think about,” she says. “Different information rates, the point along the shiftline between information – including music – being a scarce commodity, and silence and isolation being the norm. And now, when silence and isolation are the scarce thing, and overload is the norm. These cultural shifts. It's important that some of us old-timers can try to turn people on to different ways of being that may be endangered at this point. Things like being in touch with your own imagination. And your own internal rhythms. That are so easily overwhelmed by all the stuff that impinges upon us. And particularly our emotions.” This is why Spiegel so enjoys those visits to her family's back porch. Spiegel is an innovator of electronic music. She worked with early sythesisers at Bell Laboratories, created a popular music programming software called Music Mouse (which became a commercial product for Macintosh, Amiga and Atari personal computers), and had her haunting interpretation of Kepler’s Harmony of the Worlds sent into space, as part of the Voyager 1 and 2's Golden Record project in 1977. But the artist has, until recently, operated in relative obscurity. It was around 2012, when Spiegel’s 1972 song Sediment was included on the Hunger Games soundtrack, that she re-emerged in the public eye. That same year, an expanded version of her textured, cosmic 1980 album The Expanding Universe was reissued by the New York-based independent avant-garde label Unseen Worlds (which, funnily enough, happens to be named after Spiegel’s 1991 album, Unseen Worlds, also re-released in January 2019). It’s a collection of universe-imagining rhythms and harmonies inspired by Bach, the guitarist John Fahey and Appalachian
folk, made using Bell Labs’ GROOVE (Generating Real-time Operations On Voltage-controlled Equipment) System between 1974 and 1977. The cover of that record is printed with a conversation between Spiegel and herself, in which she debates the usefulness of terms of genre and style, and credits her teachers. What is music, even? And more to the point, what is it without its history, without the people involved? These are the kinds of questions Spiegel, who’s forever been ahead of her time, is always asking. Now, it’s not just Spiegel’s past work that’s experiencing a rejuvenation. “The cat was let out of the bag,” she says, that she doesn’t just make electronic music. “She writes notes, too!” In summer 2018, the cellist Oliver Coates put together a concert of chamber music Spiegel had written, at London’s Cafe Oto. That led to her being asked to write a piece for the London Contemporary Orchestra, called Only Night Thoughts, performed at the BBC Proms. Various instrumentalists, she says, have been asking her for pieces, and she can be found, at any given time, working on this media project, or that one. And her inbox is always full of music to listen to. She jokes that since computers no longer need her to fight for their assimilation as “real” instruments, she’s been liberated to return to her roots as an improviser, composer and guitar player. To what really drew her to music in the first place. These days, she’s been revisiting old and unfinished compositions, and hanging out with the guitar a lot. “I love electronics, I love electronic sounds, I love logical processes,” she says. But lately she’s been more interested in, “Where did I start out before I got so into electronics?” When Spiegel was nine, her grandmother gave her a mandolin, which she kept under her bed and used to “make up soulful melodies.” After her parents refused to buy her a guitar despite her pleading, Spiegel saved up her babysitting
to work directly with the sounds (as opposed to waiting for computation to occur) that excited her. “The same way a painter works directly on the painting or a novelist works directly on the novel. You just turn a knob and you hear it. I love that,” she says, eyes aglow. The analogue synth became, for a long time, her favourite medium.
Spiegel’s unique way of thinking about art and information has much to do with the many areas in which she’s decisively immersed herself. For undergrad, Spiegel studied anthropology and spent a year finishing her degree at Oxford. From there, she moved to London to study guitar and theory with composer John W Duarte. In 1968, she returned from “flower children and LSD and bobbies on bicycles who didn't carry guns,” to Chicago’s ‘68 political convention, to tear gas and tanks. In August of that year, she moved to New York City.
While studying at Julliard, Spiegel’s music career started to take off. She got a job composing soundtracks for a small production company run by an elderly Viennese Jewish refugee filmmaker who taught her about film music, which she still does to this day. (“It was too early for a woman to have a real career composing soundtracks. Just not possible then,” she notes.) She also freelanced for WNET, animators, and documentarians, and taught electronic music and guitar – all while actively involved in the city’s experimental scene, performing her analogue synth pieces at venues like The Kitchen.
When she got here, Spiegel moved in with a college friend, a member of the Black Panthers, who got her a job working for American Documentary Films. After that ended, Spiegel held a number of unsatisfying jobs including bookkeeping, research and typing. It all came together when Spiegel relocated to a three-room first-floor apartment on the Lower East Side, where she paid $42 a month – “so you know it was pretty seedy” – and a group of jazz players would get together in the basement. “You can't really do anything else while you're sitting right on top of a jam session,” she remembers. “You might as well go and hang out.” It was one of those jazz musicians who encouraged Spiegel to sign up for courses at The Julliard School, where she met her teacher, the composer Jacob Druckman, to whom she was also personal assistant. Spiegel, with her penchant for improvisation, took a liking to the analogue synthesiser, first introduced to her in the form of the Buchla synthesiser. It was the ability
Spiegel followed Druckman to Brooklyn College, and while studying there, ended up under the tutelage of the American musicologist H. Wiley Hitchock. Around the same time, in 1973, Spiegel became the mentee of Bell Labs’ Max Mathews and Emmanuel Ghent, who gave her a residency in the renowned Murray Hill, New Jersey research institution, after three months of “deciding if [she] was smart enough.” The gig gave her the opportunity to experiment with electronic music systems such as GROOVE, with which she would create her first album, The Expanding Universe. Spiegel is a self-described “idea junkie.” That manifests not only in the meditative, exploratory nature of her music, but also in the plethora of philosophical essays she’s written, the software she’s developed, the books, instruments, toys and games she collects, the way she likes talking
through concepts and merging disciplines. As part of her graduate research fellowship under Hitchcock, for instance, she applied her anthropological studies to music, and wrote a paper in which she compared different kinds of music to their means of distribution. The study proved what she’d thought all along: electronic and folk music are not so dissimilar. “The materials travel around and are adapted and used by different people,” she explains. “The authorship is lost track of, there's no final fixed form because different people keep making variations of the same material, like in remixes and sampling.” Before computer music was accepted, those who made it were accused of dehumanising music. Long before Holly Herndon and SOPHIE, Spiegel argued for the softness, the potential for warmth and connection within a computer’s harsh exterior. “There was more resistance to the fact that I was using computers than to the fact that I was a woman doing music or computers,” she remembers. “A lot of things,” computers included, “are endowed in the mind of the perceiver with the characteristics of those who control them.” Before the personal computer revolution in the 80s, computers were owned exclusively by large institutions – banks, the government, insurance companies – which made the idea of computer music dystopian. There was a sweet spot, a period before the commercialisation of the internet and the computer’s transformation into a communications medium in the early 90s, when computers were used
almost solely for private, personal, offline expression. Nowadays, with our concentrated, mega-corporate social media platforms, wariness of digital control has almost come full circle. Spiegel, mostly concerned by the distraction that an onslaught of information creates, continues to direct her attention inward. “People are always constructing images of themselves for external display,” she says. “And their creative art, their music, is part of that. There's an inauthenticity to it that is really different from going out on the back porch with a guitar after a big fight with my parents. It’s about what the music does for us. How it works for us as an individual alone, that has to be a basis for the music that we put out in the world. The music that will touch people the most deeply has to be what comes from the deepest parts of yourself. And it's so hard to turn off everything else and get in there.” Unseen Worlds is out now via Unseen Worlds
money and bought herself a factory reject. Whenever she felt sad, or had a big argument with her parents, she’d take her guitar out on the back porch. “I'm really an old fashioned composer,” she says. “In my book, whether it's conventional instruments or electronics, emotion is the essence of what music is for.”
“There was more resistance to the fact I was using computers than to the fact that I was a woman doing music”
It’s been a long time since we heard from Anthony Naples. In the four years since his debut album appeared on Four Tet’s Text label, the once-hyped house producer has barely breathed a word to a journalist. In those four years he moved to Berlin, “flopped” as a superstar DJ and got pulled into the city’s party undertow, before returning to New York to rediscover his purpose and his community. None of which would be quite such an intriguing narrative were it not for Fog FM: his exquisite new LP which could well be the year’s best house-slashtechno album. Fog FM is music for grown-ups, or those of us who occasionally aspire to be one. Thoughtfully composed and richly melodic, it has the ring of a classic – or at least feels indebted to them, variously bringing to mind Carl Craig at his masterful best, the millennial cosmopolitanism of The Other People Place and the expansive ruminations of Shinichi Atobe. It’s a significant evolution from the sampleheavy, loose ‘n’ dirty jams that made Anthony Naples a darling of what we used to call “outsider house”. When he broke through in 2012 with Mad Disrespect – the Pharrellsampling groove that was snapped up by Brooklyn DJs Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter as the debut release for their party-turned-label Mister Saturday Night – the then-22-year-old musician played up to his status as a freshfaced newcomer, allowing journalists to paint him as a naive genius. But, as he later admitted, Naples has been making music since his teens, mixing his friends’ rap demos and even taking an audio engineering course at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. As Mad Disrespect became an underground anthem, the Miami native cemented his rise with solid 12”s on The Trilogy Tapes and his own Proibito label, taking every opportunity
that came his way with the horizontal insouciance of a beach bum who’s found a winning scratch card. “I remember being on the phone to my booking agent at the time,” he recounts, “and I'd DJ’d five times in my life. He said, ‘I got you a gig at Panorama Bar, do you wanna do it?’ I was like, ‘Why not?’ I just didn't think about any of these things. [Trilogy Tapes label boss] Will Bankhead would be like, ‘Do you want to make a record for me?’ ‘Sure, easy.’ It was all easy. It was that way until two years ago.” 2017 was a turning point for Naples. Having just returned to New York from Berlin, he found himself an outsider in his old stomping ground, but it was the best decision he’d made in a long time. Today, we're eating quiche in a Parisian tea room, despite neither of us living in Paris, and Naples has just returned from a two-month roam around Japan with his wife (and Incienso label coowner) Jenny, where between onsen dips he played at Precious Hall, the audiophile temple in Sapporo. (“There might have been eight people there on a Friday night, but it was one of the best parties I've ever been to,” he beams.) After a few dates in Europe, he’ll soon be heading back to New York and to the community of musicians – including Huerco S, DJ Python, Beta Librae and Doxa – who have been the catalyst for his much-needed reinvention. His time in Berlin took its toll. “It got dark for me. It wasn't as bad as the horror stories about people going to Berlin and really losing themselves in the party, but as far as I would let myself go, I lost myself in that.” Off the back of his swift rise to fame in New York, Naples had great expectations of the high-flying, hard-touring career that awaited him in Berlin. “And I just flopped. Everywhere I went I was doing the wrong thing. I wasn't thinking
anything through. I was playing music that I didn't even really identify with, like Bileo’s You Can Win – a big Motor City Drum Ensemble classic, which I didn't know was a huge classic! I just found it in a store, like, ‘Yeah, I'm gonna throw this into a techno set!’ Like an idiot. It was just so disjointed and I made a fool of myself.” Dean Blunt once described Berlin as “the biggest coffee shop in the world; nothing happens, it's purgatory for people who failed in their own countries.” Naples nods in recognition. “I definitely had that ringing in my head when I was there. The thing about New York is you can’t do what I did in Berlin, which was just loaf around. You couldn't get away with it. Most of my friends have three jobs.” Thousands of miles from the tight-knit scene that had boosted him into dance music’s top tier, Naples lost his direction and “made some bad choices”. “It's something you have to go through yourself,” he says, “and I wasn't asking anyone for advice on how I could get out of the slump.” Looking back, he wonders why he left New York just as everything was going his way. But his return – aided by moving into a house in Queens also occupied by DJ Python, Will DiMaggio and DJ Nicely, and then meeting his soon-to-be wife – was the catalyst for his quarter-life comeback. “It all improved in New York, and it's only been improving. Now it feels like a static, blissful state, where every time I go out it's a great time – and I feel like I want to reflect that in my music.” Fog FM was created in idyllic-sounding circumstances, written over several months in the tiny apartment he shared with Jenny in Ridgewood, Queens. He maintained a routine for several months: wake up, lots of coffee, a quick walk, then solid work from 10am until late afternoon. “Then around 5pm
Words: Chal Ravens Photography: Alex Huanfa Cheng
After the producer-of-the-moment lost his footing, he went back to basics
“As a person I'm not so confident. Over time I've worked on that, and I think this time I gave myself a licence to make something solid.”
I'd be like, OK, I need to shower,” he laughs. His setup stayed minimal, with just a few synths and, for the first time, Reaktor software. The biggest change was getting decent monitor speakers, finally, and spending time actually testing the music, playing tracks in Ubers to gauge his friends’ reactions. “As a person I'm not so confident,” he says, picking his words. “Over time I've worked on that, including in music. I think this time I gave myself a licence to make something solid… or something.” (Resistant to anything like a bold statement, he frequently qualifies his words with "or something" or “I think”. You can see why he’s made friends with the nice guys of house, like early supporter Four Tet.) Where his early tracks were banged out in a few hours, directed by the “first thought, best thought” philosophy of labels like L.I.E.S., these days he allows himself the indulgence of spending weeks refining his compositions, working to a clear brief.
But, he says repeatedly, Fog FM is absolutely not a concept album. “I'm not making Dark Side of the Moon,” he laughs. “It's rare when I'm making music that I'm thinking about anything at all. But I made the title track and all of a sudden I was making music to reflect this idea I had of a really isolated radio broadcast.” It’s supposed to sound like someone is playing music “over there, somewhere”, or like catching half a song on the radio and never finding out what it was. “I used
to listen to so much music on the radio, and you would hear stuff more ambiguously than you do now, where you go on Spotify and you have the title of the track [right there].”
place like this [café].” Naples held his ground against the big mood machine for many years, only uploading his music to Spotify in 2016. He tries not to think about it. “I use Tidal,” he grins.
Front-loaded with steely, propulsive club cuts, Fog FM takes several diversions into mulchy ambience before gently unravelling in hazy house drifts. “I thought really hard about how to make it flow from beginning to end,” he notes. “It would be a shame if it was just [heard as] one song here, one song there.” He’s referring to Spotify, of course. He hates the way it separates music into quantifiable units, ranking tracks by popularity. Artists are now at the mercy of this “big mood machine”, as journalist Liz Pelly recently described it, criticising Spotify for manufacturing mood-based playlists in order to sell advertising.
When he and Jenny get back to New York in a few weeks’ time, they’ll be ready to plant roots. Through Incienso they’re building a family-oriented operation, with increasingly essential releases from artists like Kiki Kudo, Buttechno and DJ Python. “I feel like I left right as things were going really well in New York, and I came back into it as an outsider for a little bit. But now I have a strong community of friends,” he says, reflecting on his journey. “And right now, New York is the best scene in the world.”
The idea of music being reduced to background ambience is “really scary,” he sighs. “When you see a film or read a book you have to be 100 percent involved, but with music it's becoming more and more like it should be for a
Fog FM is out now via ANS
Stephen Umoh is finding his voice. We’re sat in the front garden of a café in Bethnal Green. It’s the first properly hot afternoon of the summer, the kind of day where the heat rises up from the tarmac and the guttural snarl of traffic seems to conceal a smile. He’s ordered the vegan fish and chips and sits primed while it sputters in the fryer, his eyes darting around, drinking in details. “I'm not really a talkative person,” he explains. “It's always been difficult for me to express myself in a straightforward way. But now I'm trying to say things as straightforwardly as I can.”
His latest track Frens is a prime example of the new writing style he’s experimenting with. The song is built on a disarmingly simple affirmation of love: “You matter to me,” he chants over and over in a spiritual of personal affection. But that track aside, Umoh’s musical identity is hard to decipher. His output has rarely landed on a set pattern, ranging from the poppy warmth of Adjacent Heart to the soft anxiety of Creepin’. It’s a sonic journey that mirrors his enigmatic character – distinctive but difficult to pin down. As a result, Umoh has been labelled everything from neo-soul to performance poetry, but his own inspirations vary from Fela Kuti to the poetry of Tracy K Smith. Having lived a varied life between Nigeria, Surrey, Norwich and London, he infuses everything with his current experience and sees no need for consistency just yet. “I could go start singing opera if I wanted to right now. You've just got time to build and to find your voice.” In an industry populated by brash personalities with crystal-cut personal brands, Obongjayar’s ambiguity is intriguing. Adjacent Heart or Blue Skies might fit the neo-soul box more easily than others, but his performances can easily plunge into frenetic darkness on tracks like Set Alight, Carry Me or Endless. “At the moment I'm listening to a lot of punk and a lot of rock'n'roll,” he says. “If I
was to coin [a name] I'd say that what I do is post-Afro. It's a mix of all these other different genres and different ideas, infused with where I've come from.” Umoh’s earliest inspirations came from bootlegs of American chart rap like Nelly and Eminem, back when he was growing up in the port city of Calabar in Nigeria. Back then, he was rapping in an American accent and going by the rap name J.R; a take on junior, which his mum used to call him. At 17 he moved to the UK to live with her in Ashford, just outside London, after she had moved from Nigeria. He went to art school in Norwich to meet other musicians and it was there he started playing a few shows with a band, ditching the Americanised raps for singing in his Nigerian accent. It was a crucial moment. “We can't succeed if we're trying to emulate,” he realised. “My decision to stop doing the American accent thing or trying to be something else is almost in protest to that. I can do this by being myself – that's the starting point.” He gave himself the new name Obongjayar, a portmanteau of King (Obong) and Junior (like his mum used to say), and dipped his toes in the water with 2016’s elegiac Home EP, a collection of nocturnal instrumentals and spoken word aphorisms. 2017’s Bassey EP built on that work, driving Umoh’s voice forward with the Afrobeat percussion of Endless, then enveloping it in the rich atmospherics of Spaceman, a track that seems to tumble backwards. From featuring James Massiah’s poetry on Gravity to linking up with Yussef Dayes for Scum or jumping on Super Human by Kojey Radical, Umoh has drawn energy from a community of like-minded artists sitting somewhere
Words: Francis Blagburn Photography: Michelle Helena Janssen Photography Assistant: Zoi Pahtalias Styling & Direction: Ade Udoma Styling Assistant: Ivor & Losh Haje
between performance poetry, Afrobeat and the resurgence of jazz in the capital. His name was elevated last year when he was picked up by Richard Russell and featured alongside names like Kamasi Washington, Ibeyi and Sampha on Mercury-nominated Everything Is Recorded. He quite literally wears that experience on his sleeve as we chat, in the military style Maharishi jacket he’s wearing, part of the brand’s collab with XL Recordings. He points to designers and artists of Nigerian descent working in London as inspiration, like Mowalola Ogunlesi, or Skepta’s manager Grace Ladoja, whose Lagos-based Homecoming festival has hosted nights celebrating the impact of migration in music. “These people are going back to their roots, buying black and trying to just push that idea forward to greater heights.” If there’s one uniting force behind Obongjayar’s music, it would be that idea. “It’s about shifting change and making young Nigerians proud of their heritage...” he says. Umoh is still embracing the joy of finding his distinctive voice, but his goal is to encourage kids like his younger self to skip straight to that step. “That is my mission,” he says, “to give people a kind of hope.” Obongjayar’s new single Frens is out now
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FRIDAY 15 – SUNDAY 24 NOVEMBER efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk
POSTMODERN JUKEBOX ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO CASSIE KINOSHI’S SEED ENSEMBLE MAKAYA McCRAVEN & ROSIE TURTON CHRISTIAN SCOTT & MADISON McFERRIN WE OUT HERE PRESENTS A FESTIVAL SPECIAL
The Click: Wata Igarashi
In his own words, the Japanese producer reflects on how the art of repetition kickstarted his acid techno explorations
and I continued it when I started making techno. One day I decided to make one slow acid track per day for a month, always at the same tempo: 110BPM. After two weeks I reviewed what I had completed. There were a few tracks I really liked, some others were OK, and some were just not good. Overall I wasn’t satisfied with the results, so I started thinking, ‘What am I doing wrong?’
When I was younger I obsessed over practicing the guitar and would play it every day for years. This process of practice and repetition stuck with me,
To answer my question, I analysed the tracks I made and tried to work out what elements distinguished the tracks I thought were the best, what separated
I still have so much to discover with making techno, and I know I am still developing as an artist. This early experience was an important step that gave me the confidence to keep going with electronic music. And if people like it, play it and listen to it, then I am happy. And if they don’t, well, I will still keep on going, repeating it over and over... Wata Igarashi appears at Neopop Festival in Portugal on 8 August
Before turning to techno, I had been producing music for TV commercials and playing jazz for many years. By this point, I felt like I could handle myself in the studio, and techno seemed pretty simple and straightforward. This all gave me a false sense of confidence. I quickly found out that making techno was much more challenging than I had anticipated. In fact, the ‘simple’ nature of the music is partly what makes it so difficult.
them from the rest. This revealed to me what I couldn’t clearly see before: I was developing a sound of my own in there. The tracks I liked tended to share certain things in common. I became more self-aware of the character of the acid bass lines and the way I was using atmospheric sounds. Through this I was able to more clearly understand what I had been doing on an intuitive level, to get a better sense of what was working, what I was trying to do.
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07/08â€”19 MOTH Club Valette St London E8
Thursday 11 July
Friday 16 August
mothclub.co.uk Saturday 13 July Monday 8 July
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CLOUD NOTHINGS Wednesday 10 July
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PARTNER Saturday 27 July
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THE HOLYDRUG COUPLE Thursday 22 August
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The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16
Wednesday 4 September
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS Sunday 15 September
Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Friday 5 July
HANDS OFF GRETEL Monday 8 July
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FADE TO ZAIRE : BRIAN NOT BRAIN Wednesday 17 July
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INTERGALACTIC GARY Wednesday 24 July
Wednesday 28 August
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EXPERIMENTAL SET W/ GUEST
UPCOMING LONDON SHOWS rockfeedback.com THU.11.JUL.19
CLOUD NOTHINGS FRI.15.NOV.19 THU.17.OCT.19
Jazz Cafe 29 October
HELADO NEGRO RAYANA JAY
Camden Assembly 29 October
The Dome 5 September
THE MYSTERY LIGHTS Dingwalls 21 September
The Lexington 30 October EartH 4 November
The Lexington 6 November
ANNA OF THE NORTH
SHABAKA HUTCHINGS’ ONE FEST
Union Chapel 21 September
Islington Assembly Hall 2 October
Heaven 6 November
Scala 10 November EartH 12 November
St Matthias Church 2 October
O2 Academy Brixton 19 November
Moth Club 3 October
Heaven 20 November
BILL RYDER-JONES GRACE LIGHTMAN
OSCAR JEROME ELDER ISLAND Roundhouse 24 November
The Islington 9 October
Village Underground 25 November
Moth Club 16 October
Omeara 26 November
FAR CASPIAN FRI.11.OCT.19
London Fields 25 August
St Matthias Church 3 October
Scala 28 October
Village Underground 29 October
Roundhouse 28 October
EartH 3 August
EartH 26 September
UT WED.27.NOV.19 SOLD O
The Lexington 25 July
St Pancras Old Church 12 September
MELT YOURSELF DOWN
Cafe Oto 4 September
The Dome 27 October
Oval Space 17 July
UT THU.22.AUG.19 SOLD O
Islington Assembly Hall 24 October
The Lexington 26 July
Scala 24 October
Moth Club 10 July
THE DREAM SYNDICATE
THE YOUNG GODS
Barbican 18 October
Studio 9294 19 October
Union Chapel 27 November
The Garage 28 November
Shacklewell Arms 21 October
Fabric 29 November
EartH 3 December
HOT FLASH HEAT WAVE
SARAH KLANG The Lexington
Field Day The Drumsheds, Meridian Water, London 7-8 June
Earlier in 2019, when punk band Bikini Kill announced that they’d be reuniting for a run of shows in May and June, the news was not a surprise. A reunion between Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail and Kathi Wilcox has always felt something like inevitable – not least because the assaults on rights which galvanised Bikini Kill in the first place have rarely loomed more ominously in recent history. When she takes the stage at a sold out Brixton Academy, Hanna says as much. Wearing a pink, puffy-sleeved princess dress, she does her warmup stretches, launches the opening attack of New Radio into Jigsaw Youth, and then pauses to decry the “right-wing horror show” going on in the world right now. Addressing the audience is important throughout Bikini Kill’s set. Hanna and Vail, who share vocal duties, impress upon us the significance of figures from Poly Styrene to Bertolt Brecht, and of the fundamental rights of “women, woman-presenting, and nonbinary people.” Vail stresses that riot grrrl is a movement, not a music genre. As such, the band interject the songs with the exchanges of energy and ideas that characterised the original riot grrrl concerts and chapter meetings, to great encouragement from the room. The defiant simplicity of anthems like Rebel Girl, Double Dare Ya and Suck My Left One are proof enough of that. I have rarely seen a venue quake with such excitement as Brixton Academy when Bikini Kill played those three tracks, Hanna’s roar practically shaking the foundations. The message is simple, and it is absolute: “Keep making your fucking art.” ! Lauren O’Neill N Abbey Raymonde
Primavera Sound Parc Del Forum, Barcelona 30 May-2 June 2019’s Primavera Sound line-up was eye-popping. Boasting a 50/50 gender split, acts as genre-leading as FKA twigs and Solange were neatly programmed next to cult bands like Built to Spill and Shellac. Seemingly countless stages were scattered over a concrete wonderland that was filled with neon light by night, and each one made sure there was enough room for everyone to get a proper sightline. On the Primavera stage, hyper-pop princess Charli XCX’s fans made full use of the capacious space. She pumped out recent hits from Boys to 1999 to Vroom Vroom while stalking the front row in a mesh coat that gave her a regal air. To add yet more thrills, Héloïse Letissier of Christine and the Queens joined her for an asyet unreleased banger. Later on the same night, FKA twigs showcased hits old and new along with all the astonishing physical feats she’d revealed at live shows earlier in the year, including her Cellophane pole dancing and sword-fighting. To see this sort of mastery of voice and body in an open-air stage was an unexpected heartstopper. Even later, over in the Primavera Bits area, Objekt debuted an accomplished live A/V set that brought his Cocoon Crush LP juddering to life with flashing lasers and nightmarish insectoid visuals. Immediately after, Helena Hauff provided one of the Bits’ stand-out sets, closing out the night with a characteristically devastating set of EBM-inflected techno. Stationed back at the biggest stages on Sunday and Spanish superstar Rosalía has the biggest crowd of the weekend. Speaking in Spanish for the ease of the Barcelona audience, she spins out a capella verses to the almost silent spectators who strain to catch every word. Primavera is big both in scale and in ambition. In fact, it’s set to get even bigger – the festival series announced over the weekend that it’ll be expanding to LA in 2020. If they’re able to pull off the blockbuster madness that they have in Barcelona this year across the Atlantic, it’s looking like there will be many more Primas springing up across the globe. ¡Viva Primavera! ! Sammy Jones N Róisín Murphy
Kala Festival Dhermi Beach, Albania 12-19 June Last year, the debut of Kala felt like a marked shift by Albania’s tourist board to position itself as a raving destination. As the area’s first international music festival, its importance cannot be overstated. Festivals are often criticised for a lack of meaningful exchange, but with the organisers working in close collaboration with local businesses, Kala is designed to have an ongoing impact on the economy. Despite the second edition seeing attendee numbers double that of the first, the atmosphere remained peaceful and relaxed during the day. The main difference of the festival’s expansion was, simply, that there was more of a party vibe spread across its many stages. This could certainly be felt during Inner City’s Saturday night slot at the Empire stage, where a live rendition of Get Free felt like the triumphant anthem that primed the audience for the weekend ahead. It was, however, Josey Rebelle who stole the show at the Yacht Club, and the impromptu b2b with Danielle that preceded her set should be noted, too. The pair complemented each other perfectly with their seamless synergy, taking the crowd on a thrilling joyride that weaved between genres at lightning speed. Over at the blissful Gjipe island, with its towering cliffs and turquoise, crystal clear waters, Jamie Tiller ramped up the energy to take it home in the last hour on the Sunday evening. DJs Hunee and Jayda G joined in with the crowd – proving that, much like the festival-goers, the artists love the experience of Kala too. It’s worth noting that for its second edition, there was a new string of secret beach parties – boat trips were in place to take festival-goers to secluded islands where they could party with the likes of Hunee and Call Super. Sadly, these were all cancelled, bar one. But if there’s any suspicion of this new format being Fyre Festival-esque hyperbole and a too-good-tobe-true marketing strategy that reads more like an algorithm binding together several millennial aspirations – in truth, it’s not. The cancellation derived from issues with a new boat company and for its next edition, the organisers promise to iron out logistics. Kala has some way to go in ironing out creases, but it’s a learning curve. Ultimately, the location is a winner for Kala – and it’s difficult to feel truly inconvenienced when it feels like you’re lounging in paradise. ! Vivian Yeung N Laurence Howe
! Mike Vinti N Tom Ham
Bikini Kill Brixton Academy, London 10 June
“My name is JPEG motherfucking MAFIA, and they got me in a cage,” Barrington Hendricks grinned as he paced Boiler Room’s in-the-round stage. The Baltimore icon is loved for his wild live shows and on Saturday afternoon he barely spent a moment on stage, instead performing on top of speaker stacks and hanging off the side of the railings. When his show ended 45 minutes later, he was shirtless and had hundreds of sweaty fans chanting his name. That was Field Day 2019 at its best. In its 12 years, Field Day has slowly morphed from an east London indie day out into one of the best showcases for cutting edge music. In a new home at Drumsheds, and with pioneers like Death Grips, The Black Madonna and Tirzah on the bill, 2019 was supposed to be the year that transformation was complete. Sadly, it didn’t quite reach those heights. Battling terrible weather and technical difficulties that blighted the festival's opening hours, the first day’s performances were promising. Kelly Lee Owens pushed Printworks’ warehouse stage to the limit with her live set, standing silhouetted and triumphant in front of a huge LED screen. Death Grips channelled the chaotic energy that defined Friday afternoon and the likes of Tirzah and Deerhunter shone on the Crack Magazine stage. However, Friday’s headliner Skepta, performing just a week after his latest album’s release, had his set cut off mid-song due to noise curfew. On Saturday Channel Tres served up a generous helping of his Moodymannvia-Compton house, igniting a dance party. A textbook set from Pusha T was the cherry on top, splicing together highlights from his career. All that was left was for Jorja Smith to bring it home. The most obvious successor to Adele’s crown, she was on triumphant form. Hints of where Field Day is headed were everywhere but it needs some organisational tweaks before it lives up to its line-up’s promise.
Anthony Naples Fog FM ANS
Black Midi Schlagenheim Rough Trade Records
Anthony Naples only seems to make moves when they’re required. After gingerly stepping out in 2012 with Mad Disrespect, it was on a run of sensational 12”s across 20132014 for Rubadub, The Trilogy Tapes and Mister Saturday Night that Naples really came alive, projecting authority with slamming chords while letting detritus cloak the mix. The pace of releases has steadied since, but he’s kept up that batting average with wispy aftersfocused albums (Take Me With You), club-ready EPs (Us Mix, Love No Border) and a pair of co-run record labels, Proibito and Incienso, that birthed breakout LPs by like-minded producers Huerco S and DJ Python. Naples' murky music has belied few obvious influences. On face value though, Fog FM, has Naples sizing up a seat at the high table. All across the album are songs like Unhygenix and Benefit with the lysergic swirl, spatial sound design and chunky bounce of Studio 1, Thomas Melchior and (whisper it) Big Ricky Villalobos. Even when circling back to the dark chords of his TTT EPs on a song like Purple Iris, his accrued experience and improved chops show. Everything feels like a level up, his robust thumpers flaunting an obsessive attention to detail that should provoke molecular rearrangement on the dancefloor. If Naples was gunning for peak time slots at trippy minimal festivals, he might just have locked them down. And even if he wasn’t, he’s made the most complete statement of his stillyoung career.
Fun fact: Black Midi’s first ever performance together was covering Neu!’s Hero at the BRIT School, where they met. Since then they’ve enjoyed an intriguing word-of-mouth rise, going from playing Brixton’s Windmill pub to being heralded as a ‘new type of British guitar band’ and ‘the UK’s weirdest group’. It’s a lot to live up to, and Schlagenheim is a record that ticks and snaps with taut virtuosity rather than mind-melting chaos. Anchored by drummer Morgan Simpson’s mesmeric free jazz drumming, songs constrict and then explode; skittering time signatures and driving basslines blown apart by explosions of sound. These songs – lengthy jams chiselled down to meticulously tight sonic sculptures – feel like puzzles that somehow suddenly lock into shape. Opener 953 erupts with shards of noise, Speedway makes that Neu! cover make sense and the visceral tension and release of Years Ago matches the thrill of their shapeshifting live shows. The group’s minimal online presence and enigmatic approach has allowed a mythology to grow around them. This album doesn’t bring us closer to knowing them and lead singer Geordie Greep’s vocals – an arch, detached, performative snarl – doesn’t give much away. He alludes to social anxiety and crumbling cities, yet at times it feels staged and over thought. But as Ducter ends, giving way to teeth chattering yelping as if Greep is being electrocuted, you get the feeling this is a band who you can believe in.
! Gabriel Szatan
Idris Elba The YARDIE Mixtape 7WALLACE
Crumb Jinx Crumb Records
There are many things to like about Idris Elba – his kind, forgiving and powerfully symmetrical face, for example. He’s a man of many hats: best known for his scene-stealing performances on the screen and his shirtless Squarespace ads, he’s also an accomplished DJ, producer and rapper with a new reggae release under his belt. Titled The YARDIE Mixtape, the project is as serviceable as it is danceable. Its construction, however, leaves a bit to be desired. The mixtape is a companion piece to YARDIE, Elba’s directorial debut. The film traverses between 1970s Kingston and 1980s Hackney, and while the soundtrack reflects both sonic cultures reinterpreted by the ample guest features, the listening experience is perhaps too scattered and unfocused. The problem with polymaths is that their perspectives are often broader than they are thorough. The tropical rhythms and flows on The YARDIE Mixtape are as friendly and accessible as the People’s James Bond himself. Stand By Me is particularly catchy, but the drum’n'bass of Stannup, which follows, feels jarring. It’s the dizzying confusion at the heart of the project. While the songs are perfectly fine on their own, together they fall flat.
It would be easy to discount the popularity Brooklyn psych-pop quartet Crumb have enjoyed so far. After all, their brand of laid-back guitar jams definitely fit in alongside your average play-by-numbers dream pop on algorithmically-calculated ‘Indie Chill’ playlists. But as their organic popularity has shown (their debut LP has been fully funded by their listeners), that’s underselling their clear appeal. The foursome started playing together at Tufts University in Boston, and each member already had experience of being in their own jazz, soul and rock bands before that. Each of these genres shimmies across this beguiling album. Unexpected but welcome undertones of spookiness haunt singer and guitarist Lila Ramani’s creepy lyrics (“The blood inside me is a dark purple shade,” she sings languidly on the ostensibly upbeat Part III), and imaginative recording techniques lift and layer each instrument, giving the record a blurry, nostalgic feel. The warped guitar line darting in and out of the gauze-like organ on Fall Down is an especially well-executed moment. Now on tour, the band have to prove they can live up to their online hype in front of live audiences. With an album as gorgeous as this to draw from, they can’t stray far wrong.
Michailo + Irakli Release Intergalactic Research Institute for Sound The emergence of Tbilisi’s techno scene has proven a thrilling chapter in recent club music history, but the affliction of Michailo Todua’s situation is a heavy counterweight. Imprisoned on drug charges which, in the UK, wouldn’t likely earn him more than a fine, the Georgian DJ and producer is now six years into a nine-year sentence. His is by no means an unusual case. The 2006 introduction of the country’s zero-tolerance drug policy saw offenses triple over its first two years, and a surge in prison population followed. Michailo is one of thousands wrenched away from friends and family, the victim of an ignorant moralism which still exerts a strong influence over the state. His incarceration means he has been absent in these recent years, which have seen techno lovers from across the continent pour into the likes of Bassiani, Mtkvarze and Café Gallery. But this four track collaboration with Irakli, a Berlin-based Georgian who runs the much-loved Staub party, shows that he still dreams of the club. An accompanying letter to the Georgian government lends Release an explicit context. We hear of a young man whose suicide note detailed abuse at the hands of the police as part of a drug investigation. Ikrali pleads directly for further changes in the law. There were developments on this front last year, when cannabis possession was decriminalised, but any progress this might represent is limited. The Georgian Orthodox Church, still a hugely influential institution, continues to fight progressive reform. The threat of far right violence is never far away. Partying will never solve socio-political problems as complex as Georgia’s. However, in the case of Tbilisi, it has been encouraging to see techno once again voice a political yearning, while largely avoiding a typical refrain from some dance music fans to keep politics out of the music. The thoughtful, restrained production work on Release’s four tracks offers a glimmer of hope. !
06 Peggy Gou DJ-Kicks !K7
Thom Yorke ANIMA XL Recordings
Peggy Gou’s short career has been one of milestones. Since she first appeared on the scene in 2016, she’s released records on the storied Ninja Tune label, bagged a Mixmag cover, and was the first South Korean DJ to play the hallowed halls of Berghain. Now, another achievement can be crossed off her ever-dwindling bucket list – a !K7 DJ-Kicks compilation, another marker for the cream of the crop of the international DJ elite. Across 18 tracks, Gou demonstrates the breadth of the music that has influenced her, from legendary stalwarts such as Kode9 and Aphex Twin, to deeper cuts like the 90s Andrew Weatherall mix of The World According to Sly and Lovechild – an early highlight of the mix that pairs exquisitely uplifting vocals with deep, dank house. There are a few exclusives at play here, like Italian duo Hiver’s Pert, which pulses and undulates like some prehistoric sea invertebrate, and I:Cube’s Cassette Jam 1993, a track that the French producer shared with her from a hard drive of unreleased gems. But, unsurprisingly, Gou really shines on her own track, Hungboo, which plays like a morning chorus of a forgotten jungle: birdsongs and bongos, percussive kotos and shuffling backbeats. Much like her DJ-Kicks comp, it’s steeped in the sort of eclecticism that not only makes for an interesting listen, but reveals a musical knowledge that only comes from years of curiosity.
Thom Yorke’s solid second solo album has been overshadowed by the arrival of 18 hours of vintage Radiohead demos, which the band opted to give away after a hacker attempted to hold them to ransom. The proceeds from MINIDISCS [HACKED] are going to climate activists Extinction Rebellion, a gesture that nods to the ongoing preoccupations of their ponderous frontman. Yorke recently told Crack Magazine he’d been writing songs about his anxiety, finding twisted inspiration in his jetlagged visions (“Humans and rats changed places,” he remembered darkly) and dystopian environments. So far, so Thom Yorke – and the album will be thematically and musically familiar to any Radiohead fan. There’s Twist, with its waterlogged piano traversing awkward cadences; a Gloaming-ish groove on Traffic. Glitches cut into Last I Heard (He Was Circling the Drain) as multiple Thoms shiver at the memory of an anxiety attack: “I woke up with a feeling I just could not take”. But compared to the prickly froideur of 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Yorke sounds relatively upbeat. Check the dubby groove of Impossible Knots and the almost clubready Not the News, which cracks into widescreen glory as he looks down at his “dancing feet”. Yorke is in his safe space here: it’s a more songwriterly and satisfying record than its predecessor, but there’s nothing radically new on offer, either.
BEA1991 Brand New Adult BEA1991 Five years is a long time in pop, but for an artist who was once gushingly described as “a poster child for all things now” it’s practically a lifetime. Any fears that BEA1991 might have missed her moment are quickly allayed by Brand New Adult. Arriving half a decade on from her first EP, this longanticipated debut finds the Amsterdam-based singersongwriter applying the same unhurried perfectionism to her songcraft as she has to her career so far. Co-produced with Sneaker Pimps’ founder Liam Howe and Dutch pop artist Benny Smalls, Brand New Adult utilises the diaphanous, multi-tracked coos of the Robyn-endorsed singer to spellbinding effect, pairing them with spacious electronic pop and gauzy R&B. Despite the contemplative subject matter and often glacial pace, this is an innately physical set, from the gently rolling groove of Loser Wins to the muted pulse of Modern Comforts, which features woozy, pitch-shifted guitars and sloping bass reminiscent of Kate Bush’s arrangements circa The Dreaming. It’s this ability to draw on the past while still breaking new ground that ultimately lends Brand New Adult a timelessness that transcends hype. !
Octavian Endorphins Black Butter Records
Hatchie Keepsake Heavenly Records With 2018’s Sugar & Spice EP, Hatchie (aka Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Harriette Pilbeam) did something quite remarkable. She transcended the trappings of a well-trodden retro-genre (in this case, 90s indie and dream pop) by transforming shimmering instrumentation, heartfelt lyrics and needle-sharp production into an interior world so precise it bordered on fantasy. Her full-length debut, Keepsake, takes her sound a step forward. Like your teenage cut-outs from issues of Sassy and Jane serenading you from your bedroom wall, Keepsake’s songs are both impossibly beautiful and dripping with nostalgia. Lead single Obsession jingles with shining guitars and basslines that wouldn’t have felt out of place on a New Order song during their heyday. Hatchie excels at creating moods, little bubbles that trap you for a few minutes before bursting into soapy rainbows. Her songs are about love in a traditional sense, but are always undercut with enough bite to keep things interesting. Not quite vintage, not quite modern; not quite in love, not quite heartbroken. Hatchie takes these contradictions and uses them to perfectly distill the essence of her music, where that indescribable feeling of youth and wonder rubs up against adulthood and longing, and in the process, created one of the strongest rock debuts of the year so far. !
METZ Automat Sub Pop On paper, there’s something counterintuitive about METZ releasing an odds-and-ends album; records that suggest an artist taking a moment’s pause and reflecting on the story so far. Inertia, you’d imagine, does not come easily to the Toronto noiseniks – all three of their fulllengths to date rattle along at a blistering pace. Long-standing fans will be relieved to discover, then, that despite its cobbledtogether nature (it’s comprised of early rarities and non-album singles) Automat plays out every bit as heavily as the rest of the METZ catalogue. The first half of the album is a run through early singles from 2009 and 2010. These serve as a stark reminder of just how boldly the trio announced themselves back then; the bone-crushing Soft Whiteout teeters on the verge of sludge metal, while the guitars are screechingly unrefined on Lump Sums. On the back half, the band venture into more experimental territory, especially on the manic Can’t Understand and brooding closer Eraser. Automat, like so many releases of this nature, is probably a fans-only affair, but those already on board with METZ will find this every bit as indispensable as their LPs proper. !
In a recent interview with DJ Semtex, Octavian described how he felt London hadn’t accepted him as an artist. In LA, he said, they embraced weirdness, and it was why artists that made the city their home were more successful, citing Kanye as an example. His latest project, Endorphins, opens on a remarkably different sound: a heartfelt love song backed by a gospel choir, not sounding worlds away from the opening sequence of The Life of Pablo. Octavian has always floated musically somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, and Endorphins similarly dances between styles. King Essie stomps along with the kind of choral progressions of early A$AP Rocky, while other cuts recall Travis Scott with Octavian’s Auto-Tuned throat vocals. But where Endorphins experiments with genre is where it’s most successful. The 80s-influenced Feel It (featuring Theophilus London), with its ghostly power ballad drums, is a highlight, whereas more forgettable cuts like Risking Our Lives lack the real grit of his 2018 SPACEMAN mixtape. The interplanetary theme on Octavian’s last project was apt for a record that sounded alien, zooming out of UK rap’s boundaries into something far further afield. Following up that release was always going to be a tough task, and although Endorphins doesn’t quite hit the same highs, Octavian continues to carve out his own lane in global rap music. !
Smithereens For his Black Mirror score, Ryuichi Sakamoto captures the ominous ebb and flow of social media Words: Karl Smith
Whether it’s as part of pioneering 80s synth pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, working with glitch king Alva Noto, soundtracking films, or simply creating music truly of his own, the Japanese maestro has not so much carved out his niche over four decades as he has created and thoroughly expanded one. With some of Sakamoto’s most well-known works being his many film soundtracks – even those who don’t think they know Sakamoto know the haunting piano refrain of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence – and his last solo album, 2017’s async, essentially a study of his own experiences with the finite nature of life, it’s perhaps no surprise that Netflix came calling for Black Mirror.
Ryuichi Sakamoto Smithereens Milan Music
Smithereens, the second episode of the show’s fifth season, is a Black Mirror classic. It’s a dark, brooding, often funny attack on the evils of social media and a nod to the plight of overworked rideshare drivers – the kind of reductive, loosely relatable politics that has come to define the Black Mirror narrative. Having Ryuichi Sakamoto onboard doesn’t necessarily change this, but it does vastly improve it. There is an elegance to everything that Sakamoto does, a particular lightness of touch, something you could argue Black Mirror has been lacking in recent times. The opener, Meditation App, is notable for this subtlety above anything else.
Its sprawling, floatation tank-like soundscape is not so much a sonic void to stare into, but more an allencompassing feeling of emptiness. It’s a reflection of the conflicting nature of omnipresent technology; how it coddles and asphyxiates simultaneously, both a warm hug and a chokehold. Sakamoto, in his total lack of cynicism, finds beauty in the mundanity of repetition and release. Rather than being a critique, it is the perfect guided meditation. One where he simply looks on, a stoic smile spread across his face, as if to say “yes, it is whatever you feel – let go and go with it.” It’s as perfect an opener for an episode of Black Mirror you’re likely to get, as it lulls viewers into a false sense of security; welcoming them rather than putting them immediately on edge, waiting for the (inevitable) twist. The rest of Sakamoto’s soundtrack is perhaps less subversive and more functional, providing apt accompaniment to the unfolding social media psychodrama. This is the type of glittering darkness that Sakamoto can so effortlessly create, and with his pulsing synthesisers and distant twinkles and trills, he’s produced one of the most fully enveloping soundtracks of recent memory. Sakamoto’s way of writing has a serenity to it which can’t be forced. An acceptance of life as fleeting, filled with potential struggle, yet ultimately a thing of extreme beauty. This, of course, is more unsettling than any attempt at synth-laden edginess could ever be. Sakamoto, in a sense, is more Black Mirror than Black Mirror itself.
Black Mirror may have jumped the shark years ago, walking into a state of unknowing self-parody, but Ryuichi Sakamoto – having racked up some 41 years making music by this point – has taken a very different path to Netflix’s stilted flagship.
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Barrio Fino Daddy Yankee’s third studio album sparked a reggaetón revolution Words: Gary Suarez
Original release date: 3 July, 2004 Label: VI Music / El Cartel Records
Dembow, the dancehall riddim adopted by Panamanian and Puerto Rican producers and transformed into a distinct Latin music movement, owes no small part of its modern day ubiquity to that single. Yankee’s corresponding 2004 album Barrio Fino gave the regional urban sound – born of mixing reggae and rap – its foremost cross-cultural moment. While reggae previously permeated global pop charts a decade prior, thanks to songs like Inner Circle’s Bad Boys and Ini Kamoze’s Here Comes the Hotstepper, its Spanish-speaking cousin presented it to the world in a different context altogether. Barrio Fino experienced something closer to a slow burn than an explosion. It took 21 weeks of charting in the US (of which Puerto Rican sales qualified) on the Billboard 200 before reaching its peak at No. 26 in April 2005 – at the time a huge feat for Latinx representation in mainstream music. This commercial performance also opened doors for other reggaetoneros operating at the time, with peers like Don Omar, Tego Calderón and Wisin y Yandel all releasing albums to critical acclaim, some even surpassing Yankee’s hard-fought chart position.
These seminal albums, by artists now regarded as living legends of the genre, had a profound effect on what came next. The stateside visibility of Gasolina not only emboldened its contemporaries, but also a younger generation of reggaetón listeners and, eventually, creators. Among those who credit the single with inspiring them artistically include future hitmakers like Farruko, J Balvin and Bad Bunny. As was the case with the Latin pop boom surrounding the millennium, the English-language media treated reggaetón like a trend, here today and gone tomorrow. Yet the appetite for música urbana proved insatiable and even gluttonous, growing in listenership not only across Latin America but in cities throughout the US with Spanish-speaking populations. Yankee continued to release singles and albums that prospered on the American Latin charts, though some branched out into EDM and pop, a portent of his eventual global resurgence when he and Luis Fonsi dropped Despacito in 2017. While the Justin Bieber connection catapulted Yankee to dizzying new career heights, the fusion of reggaetón and pop had been going on for quite some time. Colombia’s rise as a powerhouse of the format through singles like J Balvin’s 6AM and Maluma’s Borró Cassette bore no small semblance to what Yankee had done years prior on Barrio Fino cuts like Lo Que Pasó, Pasó and Cuéntame, both blending tropical sounds with its unmistakable urban grit.
The legacy of Barrio Fino hoists not only these homegrown reggaetoneros and Latin pop singers who’ve made this music their own, but also the nonLatinx artists embracing this sound. Few who heard Gasolina back in the day could’ve anticipated how deeply ingrained dembow would end up 15 years later, its stomping off-beats and unforgettable choruses still vibrating on dancefloors today. Thanks to its worldwide success, Barrio Fino seeded the culture for a cross-cultural bloom, legitimising the art of reggaetón to wider audiences. And while the genre’s roots trace back to the pioneering work of DJ Nelson and DJ Playero, reggaetón conceivably wouldn’t be where it is now without the undisputed King of Reggaetón.
On his recent single Reggaetón, Colombian urbano star J Balvin paid homage not just to the genre of its title, but to a handful of its pioneers. Among those cited in the track’s tropical throb was Daddy Yankee, the Puerto Rican artist that blazed a new path for reggaetón with his astronomical breakthrough hit Gasolina.
WORDS: RACHEL GRACE ALMEIDA ARTWORK: COKEOAK
By Hitoshi Iwaaki As someone who tried to kamehameha his first grade Jewish studies teacher, you could say that anime has shaped my imagination. I still love animated action, but find it difficult to enjoy as an adult. Enter Parasyte, a show recommended to me by our sound engineer’s band, Twin Seas. Parasyte tells the story of Shinichi, a timid high schooler who is infected by a sentient parasite that takes control of his arm. As
e: ntim Dow
he learns to relinquish control to the creature, he gains strength and confidence at the cost of emotivity. Each fight scene is fresh, and the sci-fi elements evolve until the very end. This show put me back on the anime saddle. – Jonathan Gilad
Welcome to Downtime: a new series in
which we ask our favourite artists for their cultural recommendations. This can be anything – but music. This month, we catch up with Crumb.
Lila Ramani, Jesse Brotter, Brian Aronow and Jonathan Gilad, brought their neopsychedelic visions into focus with their recently-released debut album Jinx. Here, the four-piece take a break from their busy tour schedule to fill us in on what they like to watch in their spare time. From anime parasytes to cave-based blood baths, this is not for the faint of heart.
The Holy Mountain (1973)
Dir. Alexandro Jodorowsky While we were making the music video for Nina, our director, Haoyan of America, showed me this film. It's sort of the archetype for all things surreal, kind of like a music video without the music – just one big image jumble of symbols. The film drags the viewer through highly-choreographed, uncomfortable scenes that keep you in a constant state of unease. I think John Lennon and Yoko Ono threw down some production money and George Harrison was supposed to play Jesus in this.
– Jesse Brotter
Dir. Neil Marshall Over the winter, my friends and I would get together every few weeks and watch
horror movies. This was by far the most
beautiful and terrifying one we watched.
It tells the story of a group of women that go spelunking and get trapped down in a
cave where they have some deeply disturb-
ing encounters. There’s a truly iconic shot
of one of the women lifting her head out of a pool of blood that will forever be etched
in my brain.
The Brooklyn-based band, made up of
The Descent (2005)
– Lila Ramani
Jinx is out now via Crumb Records
Eve Where were you the first time you heard Eve and Gwen Stefani’s Let Me Blow Ya Mind? Maybe you were a moody teen bob bing your head in front of your MTV altar, or perhaps you were a full-blown adult at the club, jolted into life the second the opening hoo k comes in. The 2001 hit marked an importa nt moment in pop culture: it bridged the gap between generations and genres, even bag ging the
inaugural Grammy for Best Sun g/Rap Collaboration. Since then, the rapper, actress and host has been working on a forthco ming new album – for which she’s keeping the details close to her chest – and even taki ng a stab at writing television shows in her spar e time. A reigning queen of hip -hop, we caught up with Eve to talk current inspirati ons, her 2019 mantra and a certain embarrassin g moment.
What’s your worst habit?
Second guessing myself.
What was the happiest day of your life?
This is so cheesy, but my wedding day.
So, what really gets on your nerves?
What is something really embarrassing you’v e done? OK, I’ve never told anyone this because it’s so embarrassing. I went on a talk show and Jamie Lee Curtis was also a guest on it. The producers asked us to do our best horror scream – horror is my favou rite
film genre – and I screamed so hard I peed
You know what I hate? People who don’ t use their turn signals when driving. I just want to speed up and follow them down the street.
myself. I was wearing a short playsuit and people defin itely noticed but were too polite to say anything.
What’s your sweetest childhood mem ory?
What would you want written on your tomb stone? “She fought everybody.”
When I was about five, my mom was on the phone and I could see she was really upset. I was holding a little Peppermint Patty doll and I thou ght giving it to her would cheer her up. It did. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever
I’m not the best cook but I’m very confident
Weirdest thing you’ve seen happen in
A Prince impromptu performance at
LA. There were maybe 100 people in
a club? Teddy’s in
the club, and I
turned around and I was like, ‘wait, is that
After that he did a string of midnight performances at the same place. It was one of the best nigh ts of my life.
My desire to be creative. I have that fire How would your friends describe you
Intuitive, kind, goofy.
in three words?
Favourite animal? My little French bulldog Hendrix. He
is my happi-
What’s your favourite verse you’ve ever written? Let Me Blow Ya Mind. That song was such a transformative moment for me, it was exac tly how I felt about my career. I also wrote every sing le lyric – usually I’d collaborate with people to writ e choruses, but this was all me. What’s the nicest thing someone’s ever done
about this dream I had about being at the top
the Great Wall of China, so he took me
prawn tacos, they bang.
What makes you feel nostalgic?
The smell of sweet almond oil. It was always
around the house when I was a kid.
Best party you’ve ever been to?
My wedding night in Ibiza where Deadmau5
What’s inspiring you right now?
you can be around entirely different communiti es just going 30 minutes in any direction. Do you have a go-to recipe to impress?
Don’t get comfortable.
One morning I woke up and told my
What’s the best thing about London? I like the different pockets of London and how
for my next
What’s your 2019 mantra? Just live and do what you want to do. What instantly cheers you up? When I know I don’t have anything to do. No deadlines, no work, no alarms in the morning. If you could give young Eve one piece of advic
would it be?
Trust your instincts. You know what’s right
Eve’s new single Reload is out 12 July
on the commodification of queerness window. Imbued with a northern sense of selfrighteousness, I call them a wanker and cycle on. My mind really is on other matters. It’s quite possible I’ve just lost 12 months of half-finished tracks and stupid edits of Billie Eilish tunes – not the greatest loss, I’m aware, but it hurts nonetheless. I reach the top of Market Street and there it is again, the number 92 glowing in its yellow LED array. Of course it's parked across two sections of cycle lane. As I overtake to stop at the signal, I come past the window of the bus and make eye contact with the driver, then say some lukewarm comment about their spatial awareness.
Words: LOFT Illustration: Johanna Burai
As Pride celebrations roll out around the world, brands and corporations are falling over themselves to signal allyship. Here, Manchester DJ and producer LOFT reflects on why we should be on high alert when it comes to the marketisation of queerness.
So there I am, a rainy Tuesday evening in June. I’m two broken hard drives deep and leaving for Germany in 12 hours so I’m frantically cycling to Manchester’s CEX in a last ditch effort to resuscitate my laptop. In my hurried state, I make the admittedly foolish (but arguably legal) decision to turn left on a red light into a perpendicular cycle lane. The number 92 bus comes right in from my blind spot. As I cycle past, the bus driver mouths an obscenity through the
This has apparently shaken the bus driver. They lean out of the window and a suitably red face spits "why don’t you come up to Shudehill and we’ll sort this out you little poof?!” A magnificent display of character and fortitude. They’ve somehow managed to conjure this slur through a wormhole from 1982 and also failed to notice that the vehicle they’re driving is, in fact, covered in rainbow hearts. Pride, eh? Ain’t it a funny thing. Simultaneously pervasive and yet somehow impotent in affecting social change. All around us companies are signaling their allegiance to the cause by selling us things and trying to remind us that they’re down with all non-heterosexual people. You’ve seen the LGBT M&S sandwich, you’ve probably come across the Lloyds TSB lanyard, but have you seen the eyebrow-raising Spotify playlist entitled Transcend?
When I first came across the playlist, the artwork was a pink, white and blue gradient, the colours of the trans flag. This has since been updated to a rainbow gradient with SOPHIE dead centre. The playlist, exclusively featuring trans and gender nonconforming artists, comes with a provocation to “take gender and genre to the next level.” Now I’m no Liz Pelly, nor am I the Final Boss of Gender, but I don’t think one needs to be in order to see this is as the kind of shallow, insidious marketing ploy of inclusion in which Spotify is so accustomed. I mean no shade towards anyone that has found this playlist engaging – a brief flick through to the updated tracklist shows it is, in fact, wall-towall heaters. However, just because a playlist bangs doesn't make it inclusive. While this can be taken on face value as a celebration of queer artists, beneath that there is an othering. To me, it says "we appreciate your struggle but we do this by highlighting your difference to us while also flattening any difference within your group." This also serves to reinforce heteronormative assumptions of queerness. Since we are raised in a society with such logic at its very core, it's incredibly easy to find oneself reflecting back these inflated caricatures, which ultimately leads to internalising the very same phobias that create othering in the first place. It’s this othering nested within the marketisation of pride that ultimately makes the celebration feel so hollow and impossible for me to engage with, never mind the incredibly steep ticket prices. All of that being said, my queerbait princess Ariana Grande is headlining the PureGym Thomas Cook Boohoo Manchester Pride Weekender™. I suppose my hands are tied. and departt from mono games is out now via Tri Angle Records
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