AMINE K • KARMON • KENNY GLASGOW b2b MY FAVORITE ROBOT
RICHIE HAWTIN MARCEL DETTMANN
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ANJA SCHNEIDER • ARTUNIQUE • AUNTIE FLO • CHARLOTTE DE WITTE CHLOÉ • DANIEL AVERY • HARVEY SUTHERLAND live HENRIK SCHWARZ • JAZA • JEREMY UNDERGROUND • KARENN live KiNK live • KORNÉL KOVÁCS • MAR 1 • MARCELLUS PITTMAN MATTHIAS MEYER b2b PATLAC • MIKE SERVITO • PATRICE BÄUMEL POLYSWITCH • THRIS TIAN • UNES • YOUNG MARCO + MORE
THE SOURCE MARR AKECH T H E OA S I S F E S T.C O M
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PRE-PARTY WITH FATBOY SLIM 4-HOUR-SET 13 JULY 2017
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aethereal arthropod, aitor etxebarria, aj tracey, amnesia scanner, anderson .paak & the free nationals, andy stott, anímic, arca (live) & jesse kanda (av), avalon emerson & courtesy, bad gyal, bawrut, beautiful swimmers, bejo, benji b, boris chimp 504, bsn posse, c. tangana, carl craig’s versus synthesizer ensemble, cashmere cat, cerrone, christian tiger school, clams casino, clara 3000, clark, connectome, conor thomas, craig richards, crystal / sparrows, d∆wn, damian lazarus, daniel brandt & eternal something, daphni & hunee, david lang: “death speaks” performed by stargaze, de la soul, deena abdelwahed, dellafuente y maka, denis sulta, diego armando, dj florentino, dj shadow, dubfire, earl sweatshirt, elysia crampton, eric prydz, etyen, evian christ, fat freddy’s drop, fira fem, forest swords, fran lenaers, gaika, ghostly enemies, giggs, heidi, huma, hvob, jacques, jacques greene, jlin, joe goddard (live), jon hopkins (dj), juana molina, judah, julián mayorga, justice, keys n krates, kiddy smile, kinder malo & pimp flaco, lamusa, lanoche, lcc, lena willikens, little dragon, lunice, marcel dettmann & dr rubinstein, marco carola, marie davidson, mario nieto, matmos, miiin, moderat, nadia rose, nick hook, nico muhly, nicolas jaar, nina kraviz, nonotak, nosaj thing + daito manabe, optimo, overmono, pan daijing, pauk, playback maracas, princess nokia, prins thomas, rayray, river tiber, robert hood & lyric present: floorplan live, roosevelt, rp boo, rumore, sandro jeeawock, seth troxler & tiga (6h set), sofie winterson, sohn, soulection, soulwax, star eyes b2b jubilee, stööki sound, suicideyear, suzanne ciani, t q d, tarik barri, telmo trenor, the black madonna, thundercat, tommy cash, total freedom, tutu, valgeir sigurdsson, veronica vasicka, vitalic - odc live, and many more. Buy your tickets here www.sonartickets.com an initiative of
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MEFJUS CHASE & STATUS IVY LAB (DJ SET) KASRA FLAVA D KINGS OF THE ROLLERS: KOJO FUNDS BLADERUNNER, SERUM ELIJAH & SKILLIAM & VOLTAGE SAM BINGA B2B CHIMPO ANNIX & TRIGGA FOREIGN CONCEPT BELLY SQUAD SIGNAL DARKZY KLAX THISISDA JAYDROP FIRE MAN SAM SP:MC K STYLZ MANTMAST KOAST JAKES REMIDY
KAHN & NEEK SIR SPYRO COMMODO HI5GHOST & BOOFY AMY BECKER MADAM X ISHAN SOUND OH91 GEMMY LEMZLY DALE FLOWDAN KILLA P RIDER SHAFIQUE IRAH LONG RANGE
29|07|17 AVON STREET â€” BRISTOL TICKETS AND INFO: WWW.SEQUENCES.CO.UK | @SEQUENCESUK
into the factory august 10 – august 12, 2017 Abdulla Rashim Adam Beyer Alexandra Andrew Weatherall Ata b2b Roman Flügel Barac Bicep (live) Cari Lekebusch & Joel Mull (B2B) Dana Ruh Daniel Avery Dasha Rush Dax J DJ Nobu DVS1 Evigt Mörker Fabio & Stef Gago Cuk & Max Lindevall Gander/Örnell Genius Of Time Harvey Sutherland (live) HBNG Headless Horseman (live) Honey Dijon Ion Ludwig (live)
Jayda G Jessie Granqvist Johanna Knutsson Johanna Schneider Juan Atkins Julia Govor Karenn (live) La Fleur LEGO Magda Marcel Dettmann Mathew Jonson (live) Mattias Polanco b2b Anna Bohlin Molly Moodymann Mr Fingers aka Larry Heard (live) Nastia Nina Kraviz Optimo Paula Temple Pender Street Steppers Robert Hood Rodhåd Sadar Bahar
Tickets musicgoesfurther.com Location Stora Vika, Sweden
Sebastian Mullaert (live) Shanti Celeste Shinedoe SHXCXCHCXSH (live) Skatebård Sonja Moonear Spacetravel Steffi Studio Barnhus The Field Tijana T Tini TM404 V2V Vasicka Vera Veronica Vril (live)
into the valley june 29 – july 1, 2017 Abelle Africa Andrey Zots Anna Hanna Answer Code Request Antal Anthea Avalon Emerson Axel Boman Bella Sarris Bjarki Black Madonna Cassy Cobblestone Jazz (live) Craig Richards Dana Ruh Dasha Redkina Deep Space Helsinki Dixon Dj Stingray Dyed Soundorom Eli Verveine Ellen Vene
Emma Valtonen Fernando Costantini Francesco Del Garda Function George FitzGerald Haidl & Lindström Helena Hauff Hessle Audio Trio: Ben Ufo/Pearson Sound/Panagea Honey Dijon Hunee Janina Jeff Mills Jennifer Cardini KASK Katerina Kerri Chandler Kim Ann Foxman Kink featuring Rachel Row (live) Maayan Nidam Marcel Dettmann Margaret Dygas Midland
Tickets musicgoesfurther.com Location Rummu, Estonia
Momo Trosman Nastia Nikolajev Nina Kraviz Olga Korol Oshana (live) Praslesh Q Phase live Rebolledo Recondite (live) Regis Renaat Vandepapeliere Rhadoo Ricardo Villalobos Rødhåd Sailor & I live Saoirse Sassy J Scuba Sonja Moonear Stockholm Murder Girls Vlada
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Highlights Exhibitions Sonia Boyce We move in her way 1 February – 16 April 2017 Upper Gallery
Helen Johnson Warm Ties 1 February – 16 April 2017 Lower Gallery
ICA Video Library: 1981-1993 14 February – 16 April 2017 ICA Fox Reading Room
Opening next month Stuart Middleton: Beat, Frans Masereel: The City, from 6 May 2017
Events STOP PLAY RECORD Practical Application Workshop Sat 8 Apr, 12pm
Artists’ Film Club: Basim Magdy + Q&A Sat 15 Apr, 2pm
Artist’s Talk: Sonia Boyce Wed 12 Apr, 6.30pm
Frames Of Representation: A Dialogue On Labour – Talk With Rahul Jain Fri 21 Apr, 6pm
A practical workshop for young people aged 16-24 who are interested in applying to make a film for STOP PLAY RECORD. Led by producer and fundraising consultant Polly Perkins, this informal workshop will show you how to focus and refine your project idea and application.
ICA exhibiting artist Sonia Boyce is in conversation with art historian Sophie Orlando discussing her work on the occasion of the exhibition Sonia Boyce: We move in her way. Here, Boyce and Orlando discuss the artist’s participatory practice and this new work in which Boyce has invited others to engage performatively with improvisation.
Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647 ica.art
The recent work of Egyptian artist Basim Magdy is the subject of this screening featuring his 2014 film trilogy alongside earlier short works. Magdy’s work reflects upon how we deal with the present social and economic climate in a pragmatic and humanistic way, mixing sumptuous imagery with ambient and melancholic soundscapes.
Machines director Rahul Jain talks about the role of the director as someone responsible both for documenting reality, and managing the ethical challenges of making a film about the exploitation of workers. Jain discusses the implications of different filmmaking styles and the dangers of romanticising poverty.
Frames of Representation: New Visions for Documentary Cinema 2017 Fri 21 – Wed 29 Apr
Returning to the ICA for its second year, Frames of Representation showcases new forms of documentary cinema . This year the films and events focus on the social and political issue of ‘working’ through a series of screenings, talks and activities.
Prelude Screening: Those Who Jump + Q&A Tue 4 Apr, 6.20pm
Malian refugee Abou Bakar Sidibé is given a camera to document his experiences as he desperately tries to reach a better life in Europe. Camped out with his fellow migrants atop Mount Gurugu, overlooking a Spanish enclave, his intimate footage records the plight of African refugees from a bold new perspective.
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
Contents Helena Hauff: Death Disco - 32
New Music - 31 From the Periphery Reviews - 75 Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in music and film Turning Points: Nelly Furtado - 99 With an impressive greatest hits collection behind her, the Canadian pop legend has embraced a more alternative path for her new album The Ride. Nathan Ma talks her through the definitive moments of her exciting career 20 Questions: Thundercat - 101 Davy Reed talks LSD and overly personal questions with the Californian bass noodler Perspective: What is the role of online forums in dance music? - 102 Sirin Kale examines the makeshift revival of forums and the politics of ‘woke bros’ in electronic music
Aesthetic: Jason Williamson - 60 As firmly stated by the Sleaford Mods frontman, tower blocks and chip-shops were among the list of no-go’s for this shoot. Augustin Macellari finds out why
Octo Octa: Move On, Let Go - 56 An expression of queer identity, Maya Bouldry-Morrison’s third album as Octo Octa feels like a fresh start. By Christine Kakaire
Belly Squad: Catching a Vibe - 54 Belly Squad are at the forefront of the UK’s new wave artists combining Afrobeats with UK hip-hop. Hamda Issa-Salwe meets with the young London trio to discuss the fabric of their sound
Slowdive: Teenage Dreams Recovered - 40 During the 90s, Slowdive’s sensual shoegazing failed to take off in a climate of savage music critics, Britpop machismo and druggy industry clichés. But with shoegaze back in fashion and a highly-anticipated new album on the way, Gemma Samways finds the five piece enjoying some muchdeserved appreciation
Death of a Poet: Coming to Terms with Ren Hang's Final Show - 72 On 23 February the highly gifted photographer tragically Ren Hang passed away. Rachel Sato-Banks surveys his beautiful work, which has gained a heavy sense of poignancy, at his final exhibition in Amsterdam’s Foam gallery
IDLES: Brutal, Honest Truth - 48 For seven years, the underrated Bristol punk band have been the most visceral force in the city’s gig scene, and now the rest of the world is taking notice. But with their hedonistic reputation, will they dodge the pitfalls of success? By Thomas Frost
Denzel Curry: Miami After Dark - 44 How the Florida rapper developed a hard-hitting, leftfield style with psychedlic flair. By Theo Kotz
Editorial - 27 Principles and Provocation
Helena Hauff embodies dance music’s punk spirit. Since sharpening her slamming style in Hamburg’s proudly dive-y Golden Pudel club, Hauff has been inducing ecstatic reactions from pitch-black sounds, and as a DJ she currently finds herself more indemand than ever. On a bleak day in Hamburg, Emma Robertson glimpses into her magnetism.
Beyond Big Brother: CO Berlin's Watched! Surveillance, Art and Photography - 68 Reacting to the mass invasion of privacy creeping into everyday life, this Berlin exhibition asks, are you paranoid enough about the reality of modern surveillance? By Josie Thaddeus-Johns
88 99 JULY JULY 2017 2017 PARCO PARCO DORA DORATORINO TORINO 12:00 12:00 24:00 24:00 KAPPAFUTURFESTIVAL.COM KAPPAFUTURFESTIVAL.COM
ÂME ÂME(LIVE) (LIVE) BODY BODY &SOUL &SOUL (FRANÇOIS (FRANÇOIS KK - JOE - JOE CLAUSSELL CLAUSSELL - DANNY - DANNY KRIVIT) KRIVIT)
BOO BOOWILLIAMS WILLIAMS/ /CARL CARLCOX COX/ /DIXON DIXON FATBOY FATBOYSLIM SLIM/ /GLENN GLENNUNDERGROUND UNDERGROUND HONEY HONEYDIJON/ILARIO DIJON/ILARIOALICANTE ALICANTE JACKMASTER JACKMASTER/ /JAMIE JAMIEJONES JONES JOSEPH JOSEPHCAPRIATI CAPRIATI/ /KÖLSCH KÖLSCH/ /MACEO MACEO PLEX PLEX MANO MANO LELE TOUGH TOUGH / MARCEL / MARCELDETTMANN DETTMANN NINA NINAKRAVIZ KRAVIZ/ /PAUL PAULKALKBRENNER KALKBRENNER &JOHN &JOHN DIGWEED DIGWEED SASHA SASHA B2B B2B THE THE MARTINEZ MARTINEZ BROTHERS BROTHERS SETH SETH TROXLER TROXLER SVEN SVENVÄTH VÄTH/ /TALE TALEOF OFUS US
AND AND MANY MANY MORE... MORE...
WITH THE WITH PATRON THEPATRON AGE OAGE F: OF:
CHRONIXX ZINC FENCE REDEMPTION BAND, GIGGS, WILEY, SHY FX, GOLDIE, PHAROAHE MONCH, HORACE ANDY, DAVID RODIGAN, ROOTS MANUVA, LOYLE CARNER, NINES, AJ TRACEY MY NU LENG, DIGITAL MYSTIKZ, TQD, DJ MARKY, GENERAL LEVY, CHRIS LORENZO, LOEFAH, JORJA SMITH, LTJ BUKEM BUGZY MALONE, FOREIGN BEGGARS, FRICTION, TOM MISCH THE BUG FLOWDAN, KILLA P, MISS RED LADY CHANN, ADRIAN SHERWOOD, MAD PROFESSOR, NEWHAM GENERALS, AKALA, MNDSGN, JONWAYNE, MICHAEL PROPHET VIBRONICS DAWN PENN, PRINCESS NOKIA, JEHST, LEVELZ, MEFJUS, CALIBRE, DUB PHIZIX STRATEGY, KOJO FUNDS, GENTLEMANS DUB CLUB, MACKA B THE ROOTS RAGGA BAND 7-10 SEPTEMBER - FORT PUNTA CHRISTO, PULA, CROATIA FOR FULL LINE UP VISIT WWW.OUTLOOKFESTIVAL.CO
PATTERNS APRIL / MAY / JUNE 2017
Addison Groove Anchorsong Andrew Weatherall Andy Smith Antal Avalon Emerson Axel Boman
Beautiful Swimmers BO NINGEN Bondax Bradley Zero Brandon Block Breakage
Daddy G Dimensions Soundsystem DJ Boring DJ Faro DJ Format DJ Haus DJ Seinfeld Donga Dubkasm
Mark E Mehtola Melt-Banana Monki Mouse On The Keys Move D Mr Bongo
Flowdan Footshooter Horse Meat Disco J-Felix Jacky Jasper James Jesca Hoop Joy Orbison
Nathan Fake Neal Schtumm New Street Adventure Nick The Record Nosebone Ollie Terrey
Caldera Cassia Chaos In The CBD Charles Green Clean Cut Kid Cohesion (live)
Klax Lakuta Letherette (live) LEVELZ
Pablo Contraband PBR Streetgang PÃ©pe Peverelist Princess Nokia Roots Garden Rozelle
Sam Binga & Redders Sam Redmore Schtumm 10 Shanti Celeste Splashh Tasker
Vril (live) Wild Fantasy Will Wiffen Willow Wolf Music
Issue 75 April 2017
Crack Was Made Using Alex G Bobby
Psychic TV Alien Be-In
Gorillaz Ascension ft. Vince Staples
Il Est Vilaine Yama Yama
Show Me The Body Stress ft. Cities Aviv
Objekt Theme From Q
Octo Octa Fleeting Moments of Freedom (Wooo)
J Hus Did You See
Alice Coltrane Om Shanti
Thundercat Show You The Way
TQD A Letter To EZ
Little Dragon Sweet
Dollkraut Holy Ghost People
Chastity Belt Different Now
Yves Tumor Limerence
Public Enemy Give It Up
Vagabon Fear & Force
Kendrick Lamar The Heart Part 4
Kelly Lee Owens S.O
It’s a fucked-up situation, even if you consider the comments with an open mind. Would Lydon have been so cocky if instead of Reid and Morgan he’d been speaking to, let’s say, someone whose relatives live in one of the countries targeted by Trump’s Islamaphobic travel bans, or someone who’s living in an intensified climate of fear due to the rise of hate crimes since the Brexit vote – which have increased by 100% across England and Wales? What does Lydon, who’s been an outspoken advocate of the NHS and leftwing politics, make of his possible friend’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Lydon’s new stance is so contradictory it’s almost surreal. In an interview published by the Metro in April 2016, he claimed to be staunchly anti-Brexit, also referring
In this issue there are some admirably bold, defiant characters, and I like to think that these people are rooted with genuine values. Our cover star Helena Hauff excites us because she approaches dance music with punk attitude. Bristol band IDLES tackle political issues in an era of coolydetached irony and the idea that guitar music is “dead”. American artist Octo Octa finds self-esteem in her music despite growing intolerance and headlines about transphobic laws. For our Aesthetic feature, we’ve profiled Jason Williamson of the Sleaford Mods, whose sense of outrage, as Augustin Macellari writes, “seems to flair most when faced with any sort of inauthenticity.”
Helena Hauff shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Vitali Gelwich Berlin: March 2017
At the end of last month, John Lydon appeared on Good Morning Britain with hosts Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan. During the cosy exchange, the former Sex Pistol and PiL frontman – who lives in America – backed Brexit: “The working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them,” he said, also describing his meeting with Nigel Farage as “fantastic.” He then defended Donald Trump: “What I dislike is the left-wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true,” before referring to him as “a possible friend” and chuckling with his hosts.
to Donald Trump as a “wrong’un” and describing the support for his campaign as “hateful and ignorant.” It’s as if Lydon has turned his back on his beliefs to feed his addiction to attention, and it’s disappointing.
When the news about Lydon broke, social media’s hottest take seemed to be the same as when Kanye West met with Trump last year – that this person is an egoist and an agitator, and so it was predictable and that it’s stupid to get worked up about it. I disagree. We’re emotionally invested in our pop icons, and if we get too cynical to hold them to account when they let us down, that’s when we’ve got a real problem. Davy Reed, Editor
In pop culture, we tend to celebrate those who challenge the status quo. But what’s the point in provocation without principles?
Recommended O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty
GIGGS Eventim Apollo 21 April
ØYA FESTIVAL Young Thug, Lana Del Ray, Pixies Oslo, Norway 6-12 August Weekend: £255 / Day Tickets: £90 While you could reasonably argue with Norway’s beer prices, there’s no way you could argue with the sheer quality of Øya Festival’s line-ups. 2017’s edition will see the likes of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Thee Oh Sees, Lana Del Ray, Mac DeMarco, Angel Olsen and Sampha play the festival’s green and pristine city-centre site, while the Norwegian youth’s passion for hip-hop will be satiated with performances from Young Thug, Chance The Rapper, Vince Staples, Danny Brown and Brookyln newcomer Young M.A. And while the festival’s crowd tends to stay away from gritty hedonism, the Øya Night programme provides an excellent excuse for exploring Oslo’s club scene until the early hours.
CARDI B KOKO 17 April
PHARMAKON Electrowerkz 25 April £13.75
BILBAO BBK Depeche Mode, Justice, The Black Madonna Bilbao, Spain 6-8 July 115€ A great excuse to visit the Basque Country. Bilbao BBK boasts cheap drinks, huge acts and genuinely wonderful scenery. This year, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord and Brian Wilson (performing Pet Sounds in full) are our picks of the live line-up. In terms of DJs, they’ve excelled themselves, with the likes of Andrew Weatherall, The Black Madonna, Daphni, Lena Willikens, Job Jobse and a ton of other names who you’d usually end up seeing from the middle of some sweaty room somewhere.
For all of Pharmakon’s extreme abrasiveness, Margaret Chardiet has always laced her sonic assaults with the promise of catharsis. News of her latest album, Contact, even came with an accompanying manifesto calling for renewed connection in increasingly isolated times. She concluded with a simple demand, “Empathy! EMPATHY NOW!” Given the extreme nature of her live show, this is hardly an empty gesture: if anyone’s gonna smash through that protective carapace of individualism, it’s Chardiet.
ISAIAH R ASHAD KOKO 23 April
GUY ANDREWS The Pickle Factory 27 April Oval Space’s Ovation series champions off-kilter beatsmiths and electronic artists on an experimental tip. The likes of Romare and Lakker have previously performed as part of the series, and following in their footsteps is textural electronic artist Guy Andrews, who begins his new residency series Guises at Oval Space’s sister venue The Pickle Factory. Andrews is joined by Untold, one of the UK’s most essential noisemakers, alongside a very special guest who, according to the venue, is the first in a series of “monumental guest headliners”. Earplugs at the ready.
SPL ASHH Bussey Building 26 April WILLIAM BASINSKI Round Chapel 4 May £16
JOE CL AUSSELL + SADAR BAHAR Oval Space 8 April SAFE AS MILK FESTIVAL Prestatyn Pontins, North Wales 21-23 April
For this night Oval Space welcome the emergence of two legends. Joe Claussell is part of the legendary Body and Soul collective alongside Francois K and Danny Krivit, owner of NYC’s Dance Tracks record store, boss of the Spiritual Life Music label and all round iconic New York DJ. Claussell plays alongside insatiable disco stalwart Sadar Bahar. Both artists know how to elicit ecstatic atmospheres and truly euphoric moments, so get ready to ascend.
DE AFHE AVEN KOKO 21 April
William Basinski’s music is often described as ‘experimental’ or ‘avant-garde’ – terms which can be wrongly perceived to have pretentious or elitist associations. But there’s something particularly universal about the appeal of the American musician’s simple and drawn-out soundscapes. Maybe it’s partly thematic – his Disintegration Loops were the definitive artistic expression of 9/11, and he recently paid tribute to Bowie with the tender For David Robert Jones piece. But for generations who are navigating relentless work schedules and millennial anxiety, Basinski’s music provides therapeutic relief. So go and experience William Basinski in the live setting, it’s good for you.
ROSS FROM FRIENDS Moth Club 7 April
029 JOEY ANDERSON The Pickle Factory 14 April
DRE AM WIFE The Dome 27 April QUEER BRITISH ART 1861-1967 Tate Britain 5 April - 1 October £15
DBA PRESENTS DIFFER-ENT Bloc 13 April
SERPENT WITHFEET Hoxton Hall 13 April
DJ Bone, aka Differ-Ent, has serious credentials. As he told us last year, his live session for John Peel (as one of the first DJs to do it) was the first time he’d been properly nervous in his career. And this is a man who shared a booth with Drexciya’s James Stinson every Friday for a year. A Detroit native, from the late 1980s onwards Bone played a significant role in the city’s techno movement. His fluid yet technically flawless mixing – often across three or more decks – has also won him an international following. For this night at Bloc, Bone is joined by his fellow DBA family Karen Gwyer, rRoxymore, MGUN and label boss Semtek. For Bone, it’ll be a breeze.
MERCHANDISE Oslo 4 April
Marking the turning point of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality 50 years ago, Tate Britain will be unveiling its first exhibition of British LGBTQ artists in April. Featuring artists such as the celebrated photographer David Hockney, John Singer Sargent, Dora Carrington and Duncan Grant, the body of work on display will tell over a century’s worth of stories and explore a range of identities beginning from 1861 – when modern terms such as ‘lesbian’ and ‘trans’ were not yet formed. With LGBTQ art rarely featured as the main focal point of a gallery, this historic exhibition is the first of its scale to celebrate British queerness. Unmissable.
PINS Moth Club 19 April
MARIO BATKOVIC Vortex Jazz Club 28 April
ARCA & JESSE K ANDA Roundhouse 28 April
DRUGDE ALER Moth Club 12 April
ATA K AK Jazz Cafe 19 April
If you know anyone who’s been to Love International, you’ve likely heard about the experience. The word of mouth praise for the festival is rife, and it’s also symptomatic of the event’s warm, tight knit atmosphere. The inaugural Love International took place last year, and it sees the safe hands of Bristol’s Team Love carry the intimate feel of Garden – the pioneering Croatian festival which ran for 10 years – into a new era. Taking place across the fishing town of Tisno, the setting is overwhelmingly lovely, with most activities taking place on the glistening Dalmation coast. This year, you can dance on a boat or under the stars to the likes of Ben UFO, The Black Madonna, Tony Humphries, Honey Dijon, The NYC Downlow’s Gideon and San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem crew among many others – the perfect soundtrack for sun-soaked frolicking.
XENIA RUBINOS Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 25 April
Hey… so what’s the deal with lo-fi house? Yeah, yeah, you read the think pieces, you’ve scoffed at the names, in fact, I bet you’re dying to share your fully-baked, completely informed opinion as you read this. Time to leave your reservations in 2016, because Malmo’s DJ Seinfeld’s is rapidly transcending the micro scene – and the dense fug of irony – that once threatened to overwhelm his emotive, decayed house music. Shit’s got serious. This will be big.
STORMZ Y O2 Academy Brixton 2+3+4 May It’s tempting to lose interest in Big Mike now that everyone (and we mean literally everyone) has fallen head over heels for grime’s new king. But don’t let the daytime TV appearances and Ed Sheeran collaborations put you off, Stormzy is still one of the most exciting young artists in the country. His grimegospel opera Gang Signs & Prayer is a seriously impressive effort – an atomic bomb dropped on the scene, the competition and the industry. This is history in the making. Just ask Carlos.
JAMES RUSKIN fabric 7 April
WEYES BLOOD Dome Tufnell Park 13 April
LOVE INTERNATIONAL A xel Boman, Honey Dijon, Prosumer Tisno, Croatia 28 June – 5 July
DJ SEINFELD Patterns Brighton 15 April
O Baybee 1 Mitski / Noname : @jaysomband
MOBILEGIRL Although officially based out of Stockholm, the STAYCORE collective appears just as nebulous and boundary-free as their artists’ music. Munichborn Bao-Tran Tran makes up part of the Berlin division alongside Sweden-Berlin transplant KABLAM. Her fast-rising reputation is built on her edits of RnB tracks often cross-pollinated with angular reggaeton rhythms. It’s effective stuff – club deconstructionism, maybe, but for brightly lit clubs with sticky dancefloors. Newer productions suggest an increasing sophistication: Heartbreak Slew takes Mariah Carey’s cover of Def Leppard’s Bringin’ on the Heartbreak, swapping the keys of the original with a yawning chasm of vaporous synths and monolithic percussion – the final “no” succumbing to the void. Experimental club music is evolving at a breakneck pace right now, but with Mobilegirl, it’s difficult to resist the urge to sort through the fragments and detritus just a little longer.
CHARLOT TE DOS SANTOS
GUT TERSNIPE "Just look at them! They're so awkward and weird looking." This was how one short-sighted detractor described Leeds based free noise experimentalists Guttersnipe. And yet mistaking the duo's ferociously tense live performances for sheer awkwardness is something that they find some perverse solace in. "This entertained us a fair bit," drummer Bdallophytum Oxylepis explains, "That our general appearance and on-stage demeanour would induce pity and discomfort is an asset for us in the face of a culture that favours the strong and well presented." Drawing from an oblivion of influences from noise rock acts such as AIDS Wolf and Fat Worm of Error to the nihilistic openness of power-electronic pioneers including Philip Best, Guttersnipe's songwriting is impossible to pin down. It skitters from one irrational idea to the next like some piece of absurdist theatre. And yet through all the hideous racket they create, their stage pseudonyms suggest a greater creative purpose than just making noise for noise sake. "It was one of the starting points in Guttersnipe," Oxylepis alleviates our suspicion. "We wanted to try and imagine extreme music that would be enjoyed or created by non-humans." And what does that sound like? "Buzzing, whirring, clicking, crumbling. The sound of a swarm of insects or the invisible fields of communication detectable only by life forms alien to our own. It's healthy and I think also fun to try and see things from outside of our human perspective. Noise and avant-garde music has extensively delved into this imaginal realm but it often lacks the kinetic motion and energy that a live rock band has so we aim to bring these fields together. Our pseudonyms and song titles are ways of making these themes more tangible than just the sound alone." With song titles like Phosphene Gamine Forcipule and Tutti Frutti Chernobyl, it's clear that Guttersnipe are approaching their nonhuman project with as much black humour as they are verbose sonic intensity. And considering Violaxia continued to record their latest release with a broken arm, the couple's dedication seems totally unwavering. "She climbed a tree to get a closer look at a bizarre purple wasp's nest that seemed to be glowing. The recording is her playing synth with one hand and me on drums with triggered disco synth beeps; using the 'instant composition' method. We didn't want to be out of action for three months so this was a tactic to stay active and keep the ball rolling. The music is pretty annoying. But so is having a broken arm when you want to play guitar."
The collapse of a relationship can be draining in more ways than one. Charlotte Dos Santos knows this all too well; her track Red Clay is about those leechy types who feed off your life force and then bail, only for you to realise they were kind of a shitty husk to begin with. The Norwegian/Brazilian producer, now based in Brooklyn, has said that she wrote Red Clay about someone who took advantage of her creativity, firing down “vapid people who lack identity and need others to give them a purpose.” The result transcends parasites, though, her voice fluttering above smoky, sultry RnB like flowers blossoming from inside an empty shell. For fans of sumptuous modern soul, Dos Santos is one to watch. Elsewhere she’s echoed Minnie Riperton-style realness on her tracks Move On and Watching You, the latter of which featured on the SOS Tape from Stones Throws’ Sofie. Dos Santos’s debut album is out this spring, and looks set to provide plenty of aural nourishment after a long winter.
O Red Clay 1 Jorja Smith / Fatima : @charlottedossan
O Heartbreak Slew 1 KABLAM
O Tutti Frutti Chernobyl 1 Shellac / PigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigs : guttersnipe.bandcamp.com
O Track 1 File Next To : Website
On her official debut album, Everybody Works, Jay Som opened a door into her introspective, bright bedroom pop, and critics quickly lauded her work for contributing to the effort of reinvigorating indie rock. Having operated on BandCamp for many years, the Oakland soloist is beginning to have a bit of a moment. It’s the kind of dreamy, kaleidoscopic DIY pop that you can keep returning to when the sun is out. She’s also heading over to the UK for a handful of shows in May. Emotionally rich and quietly political, voices like Jay Som’s are the ones we need.
Experimental punk trio Show Me The Body just dropped their Corpus I mixtape – a project uniting kindred spirits in their uncompromising attitudes rather than genre. The tape includes rappers such as Princess Nokia, Negashi Armada (aka Blunt Fang) and Denzel Curry, avant-garde experimentalists like Eartheater and Moor Mother as well as NOLIFE – a New York producer who specialises in pulverising electronics that are delivered with the attitude of a hostile hardcore musician. NOLIFE recently released his You Won’t Survive The State of New York EP via Young Turks, and the title suggests that, like Show Me The Body, his anger is a weapon against NYC’s crushing climate of gentrification and authoritarianism. To promote the record in London, NOLIFE performed an NTS broadcast via the stereo of a souped-up car, proving there to be an indulgent dose of trunk-rattling bass in his explosive formula. O Unkind 1 Death Grips / Blanck Mass : fucknolife.bandcamp.com
Words: Emma Robertson Photography: Vitali Gelwich Styling: Fabiana Vardaro Hair & Makeup: Gabrielle Theurer
Jacket: MISBHV Trousers: OTTOLINGER Turtleneck: MM6 Shoes: ACNE
When we meet in her ground-floor apartment on a rainy evening in Hamburg, the city where she was born, Hauff is surrounded by records. The place is flooded with them. There are overflowing stacks all around the living room and in her studio there are crates teetering on top of crates. Hauff looks upon the mess fondly. She seems content with chaos. “I’ve always loved it when music – especially techno – sounds a bit nasty and a bit raw and unpolished,” Hauff tells me, lighting a cigarette. She has the faintest hint of a UK accent, something she picked up from her English boyfriend and her time spent visiting him during their years-long stint as a long-distance couple. She pronounces ‘techno’, for example, as tet-no. Visible amongst all the vinyl is her set of analog machines, which she started collecting five or six years ago and with which she produces exclusively — just a Juno-60, a Roland-303, an MPC, and a couple of other classics. “The aesthetic of machines is so appealing to me,” Hauff explains. “People tend to think it’s more like robotics, they think it’s soulless because it doesn’t sound like it’s made by a human being. But I like that concept. It’s almost like the machine comes to life and becomes something with its own soul. I’ve learned to let go of the more analytical part of my brain and just let the machines do their own thing. They have a mind of their own, and I love that.” There’s also a thrilling spontaneity to Helena Hauff’s DJ sets; something journalists tend to describe as ‘eclecticism’ or ‘unpredictability.’ Her
selections range from jarring acid to banging techno with infusions of old school industrial, Dutch electronica, post-punk and EBM. And while she’s maintained an experimental, punk attitude, the past few years have seen Hauff rise to become one of leftfield dance music’s most in-demand artists. January of this year marked the first show in Hauff’s BBC Radio One residency – a landmark achievement that’s testament to her rapid growth. “It’s more work than I thought it would be,” she admits, “because I want it to be really diverse. I wanted each episode to showcase a different style of music: a bit of house, a bit of techno, sometimes more wavey, or one episode will be all punk.” Her anything-goes approach is carried through in her self-made label Return to Disorder, which she launched in 2015 with an EP from Leicester psych-rock band Children of Leir. “I don’t want to just put out one type of music. Whenever I get something sent to me, if it’s good, I want to release it,” she insists. “I want to return to disorder in the sense that releases don’t necessarily have to make sense together.” It’s with this attitude that Hauff has established a career that so many artists dream of, without having to compromise her integrity. The story of Helena Hauff’s DJ career begins at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel, a small but legendary portside club renowned for its rough and ready vibe. Hauff discovered the club as a teen and her name is closely associated with the club’s tight-knit family. “When I was younger, I only ever went out to the Pudel. There just wasn’t any other club where I felt at home,” she explains. “Eventually I just got bored with clubbing at some point, around when I started touring. The Pudel was the only place that I never really got bored with.” The Pudel’s spirit was a perfect match for Hauff’s own; the club famously cherishes its sense of freedom – DJs play whatever and however they want. Hauff affectionately dubs it a “playground”. I read her a quote from fellow Pudel regular Call Super, who claimed that the club is a place where you feel that everyone really listens. “I actually disagree!” she exclaims. “When
you play on a Friday, there are loads of young people, lots of tourists, and to be honest, sometimes it feels like they really didn’t care at all. They just want to get drunk and have a good time! But I personally don’t have a problem with that at all. The good thing about Pudel was that half of the people were really into the music, and the other half just didn’t give a shit. It’s not just this elite club where you can only enter if you know everything about electronic music.” In February 2016, the Pudel closed after a fire destroyed the venue completely. Hauff found out while heading back to her hotel after a gig in France: “People were calling and texting me, ‘The Pudel’s burning, the Pudel’s burning,’” she remembers. “It was at a time when we had fought with the owners of the café upstairs from the club, so a lot of conspiracy theories just popped up immediately. It was a really stressful time.” Hamburg’s music community banded together to raise money for the club’s repairs — Hauff herself played a few benefit events, and added her own homemade cut to the selection of “Save the Pudel” videos on YouTube. The club is set to re-open this year, if all goes well. Having developed a reputation as an adventurous DJ, Hauff released her cassette-only debut, entitled A Tape on Dallas-based label Handmade Birds in 2015. The record – which will be re-issued this year via San Francisco’s Dark Entries Records – was compromised of Hauff’s earliest recorded material, rediscovered gems dug off of an old harddrive. “Some of the tracks on there are my first tries, the first things I kept from recording, that I didn’t delete immediately because they were horrible,” she jokes. In 2016 Hauff dropped her debut studio album, Discreet Desires, via Actress’s Werkdiscs. The album is moodier than past releases, more of a “contemplative journey” than her freewheeling DJ sets would have you expect. She plays with melodies and synth and infusions of Italo keys, favouring her trusty Juno-60 on more than one occasion. Hi-hats are thrust in and pulled back out, fuelling the record’s dark, dramatic soundscape. It has a bleak Berlin winter vibe to it.
“I was going for bleak Hamburg winter vibes actually,” Hauff laughs. She rolls another cigarette. “I wouldn’t call it ‘dark’ necessarily, because this type of music makes me happy. Even when I do feel sad, for example, I want to listen to the saddest most depressing music in the world. Maybe I feel a bit sadder for a while but then it gets me out of it. It’s like celebrating the sadness... And then it’s over.” She takes a long haul and blows the smoke out, thinking. “Some people think dark music makes you feel horrible and depressed. But you don’t have to be happy. You can be sad, it’s okay. You’ll be happy again tomorrow, it’s just one day.” She laughs — a kind of half-shrug, half-laugh — and leans forward to ash her cigarette. I wonder if Hauff is into the type of melancholy art or dark poetry or noir films that her productions would suggest. In fact, I am banking on it — I’ve based half my interview questions around it. “I’m not into poetry. I’m not even really into album art, I end up throwing out record sleeves and covers because they take up so much space in my bag!” She does the shrug-laugh again. “They’re heavy to carry around as well. A beautiful cover is nice, but in general I’m not an artwork person.” The cover art for Discreet Desires might suggest otherwise; a grainy, tightly cropped photo of Hauff leaning in, mouth-open, towards a mirror version of herself. It’s alien and slightly erotic, the perfect moment to illustrate the album’s title. Hauff took the photo herself a few years ago when she used to study Fine Arts in university, but it’s a world she’s since grown out of. “I’m just not interested in Fine Arts anymore.” She moves a hand as if to wave the idea away. “My professor, Nikola Torke, I really admired her. She told us, ‘Art can be a fucking horrible world. You have no money, no work... I don’t know why you would do this if you didn’t have that need for it.’ And that’s when I realised, I don’t have the need for art. But I have the need for music.”
Helena Hauff has a thunderstorm inside her. Sometimes it comes out in tangible ways: a cloud of cigarette smoke, her throaty, thunderous laugh, or the flash of a genuine smile. But mostly, it’s projected in her music; in the hammering techno of her DJ sets; the white hot intensity of her acid and electro; the nocturnal mood of her more sombre productions. There’s a turbulence to her style that would fall apart in the wrong hands, but Helena Hauff knows how to walk the line between disorder and control.
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Hauff’s Fine Arts degree was undertaken alongside a major in Systematic Music Science. When she eventually dropped out of school to pursue music full time, that sensibility transferred over. Where music is concerned, Hauff’s method is logic over poetry, realism over romance. Even her music videos, which at first glance appear to be deeply artful and symbolic, come from a left-brain way of thinking. The video for Discreet Desires track Sworn to Secrecy Part II, for example, is a roughly edited piece that features sinister scientific clips in quick succession: chemical containers, a gloved hand, sallow limbs, and a particularly alarming close-up shot of an eye being rinsed out with water. I’m sure that it’s Hauff’s take on a David Lynch-style short film, but Hauff is all logic in her explanation. “It reminds me a bit of a Luis Buñuel film, but I actually just nicked that video from the CIA,” she confesses. “It’s some kind of educational footage from the fifties that the government put together in case of a gas attack. So I just found it on YouTube and I really liked it so I took it for myself.” She pauses. “Don’t put me in jail for this!” Outside, the rain comes down in sheets and Hauff gets up to close the window. I wonder if there’s a romantic aspect to working with machines rather than software, like writing a letter with pen and paper. But for Hauff the beauty is all in the technical process. She references The Fall’s frontman Mark E. Smith, a deranged genius to his fans, who once described how writing lyrics on a computer completely altered his way of working. “I feel exactly the same,” Hauff says. “It’s not a romantic idea, but I choose not to use them because it interferes with my creative process.” She shakes her head. “I don’t think about music in an emotional way, music is not therapy, you know? I don’t want to romanticise it like that.” Hauff's aversion to modern technology extends beyond music production too. She’s not on any social media. She uses few online resources other than email and SoundCloud (when I ask how she promotes things, she answers simply, “I
don’t!”) and she still uses a beat-up old mobile phone. She talks affectionately about the archaic methods of gathering music in her youth, by collecting tracks from CDs she’d borrowed from the library and recording them to cassette tapes. “I think that experience probably made me a DJ, I loved how certain tracks would blend together on the recording,” she says. “It felt like I was the only one interested in music in my school,” she remembers. “I wasn’t even that deep into it but they all just followed MTV. I listened to that too, don’t get me wrong, but I was really looking for something else. I liked Wu-Tang Clan, Radiohead... I loved Joy Division, Nirvana, The Cure... I remember this television channel where they’d stream the Love Parade and stuff like that. [But] when you feel miserable and you’re a teenager, there’s nothing better to listen to than Nirvana.” It’s easy to imagine her as an outsider during her teenage years, and I ask if young Hauff was anti-mainstream. She laughs: “Maybe I thought I was at some point! I did feel like an alien at my school sometimes, but not because of the music, that was mostly just because I was a very weird person. The worst part about it was that I wasn’t an alien, I just thought I was. People actually liked me, I think, I just thought they didn’t so I turned my back on them. And there was no need for that, really. At the end of the day, it’s not even important. Just do what the fuck you want!” It seems as if Helena Hauff will always live by that mentality. For her forthcoming EP, she tells me, she’s moving away from Discreet Desires’ melancholy tendencies back to making that rougher, more acidic music. Outside, the rain has finally stopped but it’s nighttime now, and the sky appears to be endlessly black. I wonder if this new release will take a step away from the darkness of her album. In her usual way, Hauff strips her answer back down to reality: “Proper darkness is a bad place,” she explains, rolling one last cigarette. “The rest is just life.” Helena Hauff appears at Sunfall Festival, Brockwell Park, London, 12 August
Jacket: MISBHV Trousers: OTTOLINGER Turtleneck: MM6 Shoes: ACNE
Words: Gemma Sammways Photography: Antonio Curcetti
041 For the first half of the 90s, Slowdive famously found themselves at the receiving end of particularly vicious criticism from the British music press. Emerging in 1989 – and lumped into the Thames Valley’s shoegaze scene alongside bands like Ride, Chapterhouse and Swervedriver – the Reading-formed five-piece were the subject of think-pieces such as ‘Why Slowdive are Crap’, album reviews stating ‘I would rather drown choking in a bath full of porridge than ever listen to it again,’ and a bizarre attack from Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers, who declared, “We will always hate Slowdive more than we hate Adolf Hitler.” In hindsight, it seems as if Slowdive were the victims of almost comicallypoor timing. Out of step with industry trends, their 1991 debut Just For A Day was sidelined by the dominance of grunge, 1993’s masterpiece Souvlaki coincided with the early-stirrings of Britpop, and by the time they shared final LP Pygmalion two years later, their label mates Oasis were leading the assault on the mainstream. A week after Pygmalion’s release, Slowdive were promptly dropped by Creation Records, and they disbanded shortly after. Huddled into a booth at Shoreditch’s ACE Hotel today, on the press cycle for their first album in 22 years, all five members of Slowdive are remarkably philosophical about the ordeal. “Just how it worked in those days,” shrugs
Neil Halstead, the band’s chief songwriter and vocalist. Rachel Goswell, the band’s slightly more gregarious guitarist and singer, concedes that Melody Maker and the NME’s treatment of them was “very callous”, but adds with a laugh that, “I always thought a lot of them were failed musicians.” The only aspect that seems to still upset them was the music press’ portrayal of Slowdive as rich kids, which Goswell dismisses as “a cheap shot; lazy journalism.” “There was definitely a bit of reverse snobbery,” Halstead agrees. “From very middle class journalists who were really championing the working class, baggy thing that was happening in Manchester, at the expense of the Home Countiesbased, shoegaze thing. I still don’t really understand it to be honest.” But there’s no resentment towards their former label Creation, nor its outspoken and once notoriously hedonistic founder Alan McGee. Halstead praises McGee as “super-supportive” despite being “confused” by the ambient experimentalism of Pygmalion. “They thought it was going to be another guitar record with nice pop tunes on it, and it wasn’t,” he laughs. “They were just like, ‘Oh, what the fuck’s this?” Indeed, in Pitchfork TV’s 2015 Souvlaki documentary, McGee appears as a talking head singing Slowdive’s praises, and fondly reminiscing about signing them when they were “too young for drugs.” Although Goswell points out they were actually 18 when they joined the label, Halstead backs up McGee. “It felt like they were protecting us from rock’n’roll,” he remembers. “There was always a sense, when we’d go to the Creation offices, that the party had just been finished, and they were putting everything away because the kids were coming.”
It’s difficult to imagine the current music press wielding so much power that a scathing review could fatally wound an act’s career. The democratisation of access to music and music criticism online has levelled the playing field – to the point where the potential impact of being slated by the NME is laughable. Two decades ago, however, things were quite different.
“I’m genuinely excited that there’s a new generation that has some sort of resonance with what we do. It’s not just a bunch of old shoegazers”
“It’s true, because you’d have Primal Scream and the Fannies [Teenage Fanclub] there, and they’d have their all-nighters,” Goswell laughs. “And we’d go in for a meeting and they’d still be staggering around.” Nevertheless, when they eventually severed ties with the label – at the ages of 23 and 24, respectively – Goswell and Halstead admit that Slowdive felt “very unloved.” But history has redeemed the shoegaze genre, and Souvlaki in particular is now hailed a classic. I wonder if the band must have felt vindicated, but guitarist Christian Savill corrects me. “We’re not one of those bands that’s come back to claim what was ours. We’re humbled.”
The seeds were sown for Slowdive’s reunion in 2013 by Nathaniel Cramp of Sonic Cathedral, the label that released Halstead’s solo records as well as his work with Black Hearted Brother. Following encouragement from Cramp, Halstead invited Goswell to perform Slowdive and Mojave 3 songs (Halstead and Goswell’s alt-country project with Simon Rowe of Chapterhouse) during his Cecil Sharp House shows, while the other band members looked on.
Despite repeatedly dismissing suggestions of a Slowdive reunion over the years, the band eased themselves into the idea of working towards another record. And so in 2014, the five of them reconvened for a European tour. It included high profile events such as Primavera Sound and quickly expanded to encompass the US and Canada. The shows proved that the band could still summon the sensual magic of their music onstage and, remarkably,
it seemed as if Slowdive were more popular than they’d been the first time round. “I’m genuinely excited that there’s a new generation that has some sort of resonance with what we do,” Halstead says. “I think that’s really amazing. And that’s been the real surprise for me doing the gigs; that it’s not just a bunch of old shoegazers. We never thought we’d be able to get a second bite at the cherry, as it were, so it’s nice.” And here they are, poised to unveil their self-titled new album, which has got the support of various credible youthorientated publications. The album ranges from the shimmering dream-pop of Slomo to the haunting piano loops of the Erased Tapes-esque Falling Ashes, which picks up where the Steve Reich and New York minimalism-inspired Pygmalion left off. While not stylistically representative of the entire record, lead single Star Roving serves as an effective introduction to a richly melodic, intricately textured album, which also happens to be one of 2017’s finest. While it’s wise to approach comeback albums with caution, the new Slowdive record feels like a fresh and vital addition to their discography, rather than a routine exercise in nostalgia. How would they characterise their artistic development? “Painful,” Halsted laughs. “[When] we were teenagers it was quite angsty music. I couldn’t even try to write the same way now. It’s the angst of a middle-aged man at this point.” “The depression of a middle-aged man, realising he’s no longer 21,” Goswell chips in mischievously.
During snatched weekends away from normal life and parenting duties, the five members of Slowdive convened from across the country to jam, with Halstead taking the sketches back to his studio in Newquay for further work. The point where it started to click, they explain, is when they decided to hire Oxford’s Courtyard Studios, where they’d recorded the first two Slowdive albums. “We were comfortable there,” says Halstead. “It’s still the same; exactly the same. It has the same sofa that was there 20 years ago. And Chris [Hufford, Radiohead’s manager] who engineered those records still owns the place, and he would pop in.” “I’m excited about the next phase because I think we’ve familiarised ourselves with being Slowdive with this record,” Halstead continues. “Personally, there’s some unfinished business in terms of where we go next as a band if we want to.” In the meantime, I suggest that the new record is probably going to get glowing reviews. He can’t help but laugh. “You mean we won’t have to wait 20 years?” Slowdive is released 5 May via Dead Oceans Slowdive appear at Field Day, London, 3 June
045 Words: Theo Kotz Photography: Alex de Mora
It’s been six years since Denzel Curry began his rap career at the age of 16. Having graduated from the gothic hiphop collective Raider Klan, recent years have seen Curry spread his wings, developing his hard-hitting style with psychedelic flair. A long-time incumbent of the rap underground, as his profile grows he remains, creatively, the master of his own destiny.
movement and the protests against racially-motivated police violence. Carol City, where Martin had lived, was ground zero for the protests that erupted across the country. “[There] was a lot of energy at that time,” Curry remembers. “Everybody came to school with hoodies on and we were all marching. That’s what inspired me to do Strictly 4 My R.V.I.D.X.R.Z.”
I catch Curry on the phone the day after his 22nd birthday. Occasionally we’re interrupted by his young niece wailing in the background at his brother’s house, and there’s something about the sound of the family scene, and the relaxed authority of his tone, that paints a picture of someone at ease with themselves.
His third mixtape, Strictly 4 My R.V.I.D.X.R.Z. dropped while Denzel Curry was still a member of Raider Klan. The extensive collective was led by rapper/producer Spaceghostpurrp – who was then considered of the most influential artists of the US underground, and is believed to have been an influence on A$AP Rocky before the pair’s relationship turned sour. With the Raider Klan, Purrp regurgitated the menacing, lo-fi aesthetic of early 90s Memphis rap and spread it across his prolific collective of internet-savvy rappers. “I first heard the song Suck a Nigga Dick For 2011 and that’s when I knew [Purpp] was from Carol City, ‘cause only people from Miami say ‘jit’,” Curry explains. “That’s a term for a young person, like a jitterbug. I drew a portrait for him and he was like: ‘this is dope’. Then after he heard my King Remembered Underground Tape 1991 – 1995 I got into Raider Klan.”
Denzel Curry grew up in Zone 3, Carol City, Florida. It’s a part of Miami not known for its calm serenity – violent crime is recorded as 67% above the national average. “Aside from the mangoes and the sunshine, it’s a lot of violence and a lot of lost people,” he tells me. Although it wasn’t always like that. “It was all good until I got older, when the violence started around the city.” Like anyone, Denzel Curry is a product of his environment, and his could be considered to be harsher than most. Police officers tased and killed his brother, Treon Johnson, and rap artists from his town have been incarcerated. While he attended Carol City High, neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed former student Trayvon Martin in 2012. Martin, along with people such as Oscar Grant and Michael Brown, remains one of the many symbols of the Black Lives Matter
Alongside Raider Klan, Curry became affiliated with another leftfield group called Metro Zu, who also embodied the relentless prolific attitude of many underground rappers at the time. “I would go to the Zu Mansion where they would just record, record, record,” Curry remembers, “they wouldn’t even write, they would just go in. At one point [Metro Zu rapper] Lofty305 said he was
“A lot of people are lost but I try to give them hope”
gonna make 100 tapes in a month, and he almost goddamn got it done.” Today Denzel Curry is the most prominent name in Cloud 9 – a collective of Florida artists – but really he’s found his feet as a solo artist, and the music in his deep discography ranges from funny to deadly serious and genuinely trippy. “I love trying new things,” he tells me. “Trying to blend multiple things together to make my own style. That’s what influenced me the most: creating, recreating and mixing it up.” He goes on to reference the multicultural make-up of Miami as an influence, listing some of the ethnic groups in the city: Latinos, Bahamians, Jamaicans, Haitians. “It’s just a melting pot,” he offers. “That’s where the experimentation comes in, I grew up around salsa, merengue and all of that. My best friend is half Hatian and he put me on to all kinds of shit. I listen to shit like Death Grips or Alice Glass too. You can find inspiration in the weirdest places.”
If you check the trajectory of his style since his studio debut Nostalgic 64: Threatz and Dark and Violent through to 2015’s 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms double EP and 2016’s Imperial album, for some tracks he’s developed a distinctively course, machine-gun rattle that critics like to associate with punk. “It just comes out like that ‘cause I’m very aggressive. [32 Zel track] Ultimate was really influenced by some Caribbean shit. But when I was mixing it I wanted it to sound distorted.” Lyrically, Curry flips from sexual bravado to surreal imagery and politicised street anecdotes, as he raps on Ultimate: “Young boy done caught a case/ Bang, now his mama living with
the pain/ Wait, doctor says he’s gonna stay/ Let him get the senzu bean so he regenerate/ Now a nigga harder than the head of state/ Denzel Curry is the new candidate”. But Denzel Curry hates the title ‘conscious rapper’. “I just speak from a human perspective. A lot of people are lost but I try to give them hope.” No stranger to being lost himself, he candidly addresses mental health. “I almost lost my mind when my brother died. With the weight on my shoulders about the next album, touring and figuring out who I am, I wasn’t able to grieve... It’s important to let shit out.” It’s been a steady rise rather than a rapid ascent, but Denzel Curry has established himself a firm position in contemporary leftfield rap, and as a touring artist he’s found himself indemand overseas. His last visit to the UK saw him shoot a video in London for the remix of Knotty Head – a collaboration with fellow Carol City alumnus Rick Ross – with AJ Tracey (“Ya’ll probly gonna hear me do some grime shit soon – I figured it out”) and he’s also been approached by Rockstar Games regarding the next Grand Theft Auto. But as his fanbase grows and his sound diversifies, Denzel Curry seems to have little interest in pandering to the tastes of new audiences. “I want to keep my day ones that been there since the beginning,” he insists, “and please them as much as the new. People gonna look at it and say: ‘Damn I watched you evolve and the styles got crazier every time.’ That’s what I want people to see.” @RavenxMiyagi
049 Joe Talbot’s obsession is about to bear fruit. “Every day for the last seven years I’ve woken up and thought about IDLES,” the frontman tells me with conviction. For the Bristol band and their highly-charged lead singer, the next six months will see them reach bigger audiences than ever, and emotions are high. We’re on home turf in a bar called The Mother’s Ruin, an alternative drinking spot that has hosted more than a few IDLES ‘moments’ over the years. “I once got punched in the face outside,” Talbot remembers. “It was after insulting a guy’s dad after the landlord bet I couldn't drink the entire slops bucket. I did.” IDLES have long been regarded as one of the city’s best live bands, and when we meet they’re finally set to embark on their first ever UK tour. Our conversation partly feels like a sendoff for an act whose next few months will be a validation of seven years’ work. And despite the coming and going of various fads or trends over the years, IDLES have always stuck to their guns with their raw, intense punk sound. “I was constantly getting told guitar music is dying and getting told you’re pissing in the wind,” Talbot admits. “At times I felt like the sad guy in the corner being like ‘it’s still there, it’s still there.’ “What I think we’ve done and what I’ve tried to instill in the other guys is not to worry about what every other cunt is doing,” he continues. “Don’t worry about people going ‘Come on man, it’s time to get a job.’ Get your fucking boots ready and get tight as fuck for the next gig and when that’s done write another song instead of worrying about the big picture. Build up momentum. That patience and passion to go song-by-
song means we haven’t been distracted and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve done it for so long without any gratification. It comes down to our reception live. That’s not a lie. People love our live shows.” Recently, all efforts have been focused on making their live sets as tight as possible. Having had material ready for a debut LP for two years, they’ve ensured that it’s still brimming with intensity in preparation for the long-awaited release of their aptly titled album Brutalism. The album was recorded live, with only a maximum of three takes allowed for each track to encourage rawness and urgency. Both in his lyricism and tone, Talbot has developed a distinctive sense of sardonic punk humour, confronting the topic of class on both Well Done and Stendhal Syndrome. ‘Why don’t you win a medal?/ Even Tarquin’s wins a medal/ Mary Berry’s got a medal/ So why don’t you get a medal?’ he growls on the former, screaming: ‘Have you seen that painting what Rothko did?/ Looks like it was painted by a two year old kid’ on the latter. The band’s lead guitarist Mark Bowen joins us at the table. He’s driven six hours from London for their rehearsal, and he’ll be returning later tonight. As he explains in his soft Irish accent, “Everything about [the album], from the songwriting process to the way we recorded the songs, are straight down the line brutalism. Basically it’s Joe’s interpretation of brutalism versus our interpretation, as we write all the music first.” The concept of brutalism – beyond its overbearing architectural type – has formed the blueprint for the music, and it’s been illustrated in other ways by Talbot’s delivery. His frustration and
aggression has re-imagined brutalism with powerful effect on the record, most of all on the track Mother. Having lived in Newport while caring for his ill mother for five years, until her death in 2015, the song condenses the emotion of these years into a bruising, soul-baring barrage. Accompanied by a video in which Talbot smashes a table of china while overlooked by a monochrome picture of his young mother, the track and video tell a thousand unknown stories of uncountable emotions. The image also forms part of the album’s cover art. “My parents broke up when I was a kid and the album is to do with the roles of women in my life,” Talbot tells me. “It’s also to do with the role my mum played pre and postmortem and also about progression and grief as a theme and eventual rebuilding. The sculpture for the cover was built with my dad in his studio to resemble a brutalist structure and also a headstone. I love that photo of my mum as my dad took it. It is like catharsis to go back to the only other person I could rely on in that situation, which was my dad, as he was the only other person who knew my mum as well as I did. We built something together and it’s the cover. That’s it. It’s very powerful stuff.” The ability to succinctly address themes as visceral and complex as these demonstrates the emotional solidarity and increasing maturity of the band. Other members Lee Kiernan (Guitar), Jon Beavis (Drums) and Adam Devonshire (Bass) have also committed to a certain work ethic to get them to this point, as emphasised by Bowen’s long day in his car. Though his mood is far from lethargic. “It’s a rub your hands moment, what we’re about to do on this tour,” he says. “We’ve been working our arse off.” Talbot couldn’t be more
Words: Thomas Frost Photography: Naomi Wood Footwear by: Dr. Martens
050 in agreement. “If someone turns up late to practice or hungover now then I’m like, ‘I’m working my ass off for you with getting everything split equally, so work with me.’ As soon as your future is invested in your mates, and my passion is invested in them, why not be like ‘Don’t be a cunt? Come on, pull your socks up. I’m on the line here as well.’” Having first been exposed to IDLES in their early days, back then there was a shambolic nature to their behaviour. There was a certain self-fulfilling prophecy of what IDLES imagined being in a rock band should be like and watching them get to the level at which they now find themselves has been a long – and at times frustrating – process. “In the early days we had a misguided vision of what it is to be a band,” Talbot admits. “Go out, get fucked, blah blah blah… Three-day-long benders were a constant, every week for four or five years. Me and Dev [Adam] were in a really bad way, but keeping each other going. I was a fucking nightmare. I was going through so much shit and I was carrying so much shit and then my mum died and then [there] was nothing there. It literally felt like there was a weight gone which was cool. I was carrying so much anger.”
Bowen’s reflection on the situation is frank. “I don’t think five years ago we could have gone on tour with him. Almost right up to about three-
quarters of the way through the writing process of this album he was a fucking nightmare. Hugely argumentative and the worst prick in the world on a hangover. We just had to say to him, don’t show up if you’re hungover, just fuck off. There used to be points like every three months where we’d be in rehearsal and everyone would end up storming out.” Coming out the other side of the battle, a rich creative streak has emerged as well as a realisation: the success you’d like to taste or the experiences you crave don’t always go hand in hand with reckless hedonism. Alongside the release of Brutalism and the debut UK tour, IDLES played at SXSW, and have forthcoming support slots for The Maccabees’ final shows, as well as bookings at Reading and Leeds, Download and a number of European festivals. No one in the band, least of all their lead singer, wants to fuck this chance up. “I always think if you’ve got a mountain to climb, you don’t look at the mountain, you draw a map and get the right boots.” Boots bought. Let’s get climbing. Brutalism is out now IDLES appear at Bilbao BBK, Spain, 6-8 July
“I was constantly getting told guitar music is dying. What we’ve learned is not to worry about what every other cunt is doing”
Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Fabian Fohrer - instagram.com/fabianfohrer
Belly Squad: “Our sound is a combination of where we grew up and where our parents are from: Africa, the Caribbean and the ends” Words: Hamda Issa-Salwe Photography: Harry Mitchell
Something’s been bubbling in the UK. There's a movement of artists fusing dancehall and Afrobeats with road rap and grime, creating a fresh, diasporic sound. Whether you call it ‘Afro-trap’, ‘Afro-hop’ or ‘Afro-swing’ (the jury’s still out on the genre title), it’s undeniable that the music captures a certain energy, one championed by a new generation of artists that includes J Hus, Tion Wayne, MoStack, Kojo Funds, Big Tobz, Yxng Bane and – of course – Belly Squad. Belly Squad are among the most exciting acts to watch this year. A trio made up of 18-year-old East Londoners Yung Max and Ty Jombla and 20-year-old Ross Jombla from South of the Thames, in their early stages they’ve generated an impressive buzz with remixes of Young Thug and Travis Scott’s Pick Up The Phone, Stormzy’s Not That Deep and their tongue-in-cheek track Banana. Thanks to Vine, a six second clip of Ty singing the catchy hook (‘Baby girl quit all the banter/ Come round and come take this banana’) went viral before the song was released as an official single.
“I kinda knew Banana was gonna bang from the reception that the Vine was getting,” Ty tells me. I’m with the group in the bar of an East London hotel with a view of Westfield’s shopping centre, a stone’s throw away from where the young artist grew up. “People just kept asking ‘what’s that song?’ Once
it was out there I knew we were onto something.” The video for Banana’s remix, featuring MOBO Award winning artist Abra Cadabra alongside Young T, Bugsey, Timbo and the late Showkey, currently sits at over four million views on YouTube. “Stormzy tweeted lyrics from Banana and Chip was tweeting about us saying we’re wavy,” Yung Max adds with a humble smile. “The reception’s been mad.” Belly Squad’s music has been catching fire, and they’re part of a soundtrack that’s thrived in clubs as well as in uni raves organised by African Caribbean societies and BarFest – a pilgrimage to some. BarFest was recently name dropped by Stormzy on Cold, and the student events see young ravers enjoy a mix of trap, bashment, grime, RnB, UK rap and Afrobeats. From Coventry to Leicester, these parties have acted as melting pots for this new wave. I ask Belly Squad if they could sum up their sound in one word. “Putting a name on it is just too hard,” Yung Max replies. “It’s just waves. It’s vibrant and it makes people move. We vibe and do what we like, there’s no formula to it”. Ross goes on to consider the influence of each member’s heritage. “Max is from the Caribbean, he’s half Jamaican and halfDominican. Me and Ty are both West African. I’m Sierra Leonean and Liberian, [Ty] is from Sierra Leone and Guinea. All those elements come together.”
“My dad used to play drums in a reggae dub band and tour the world and my mum was a singer. That’s actually how they met funnily enough, through their music," Yung Max adds. "We all grew up hearing different types of sounds at home and in our music we try to fuse all of it in one. Our sound is a combination of where we’re from, where we grew up and where our parents are from: Africa, the Caribbean and the ends.” It’s also important to acknowledge the significance of noughties UK rap and grime in the DNA of Belly Squad’s sound. Ty refers to Channel U, now Channel AKA, one of the few platforms that broadcasted unsigned grime, hip-hop and RnB artists – a staple for young Black Brits growing up between 2003 and 2009. “I spent a lot of time watching Channel U and that was part of the reason I wanted to start making music in the first place,” he says. “I saw the guys on there and thought, ‘I could do that too.’” “I grew up listening to Krept & Konan, Skepta, Chip and Giggs,” Ross goes on to add. “Those are the guys I’ve always looked up to. To me they were the foundation. Giggs definitely had a big impact on my sound. Ty and Max are from East London, where grime started and I’m from South, not too far from where Giggs is from.”
“Music’s been in all of our lives from early,” Max explains. “I even studied it in school but the mad thing was I didn’t enjoy it. It was all them old guys, Mozart and Beethoven. Man don’t even listen to them and I didn’t care so it wasn’t of interest to me. I always kind of knew what I wanted to do, but school didn’t teach me that. I said if I don’t go to uni then I’d want to become an artist, but I just didn’t know how to go about it. My older brother used to spit and I’d be in his room while he’d write bars. Obviously you always look up to your older brother and I thought it was sick, so ended up doing the same.” With the trio’s infectious energy, it’s clear that the group’s ties ran deep long before the music – Ty and Ross are cousins and Yung Max and Ty went to school together. As I leave them, the tight knit crew reveal they had the vision for Belly Squad long before Afro-trap, -hop, or -swing was born. “We had the name way before we even started making music,” Max tells me. “There’s quite a few connotations to ‘Belly’ like being hungry for success. In the ends, the term ‘hit the belly’ means ‘making it big’. That’s just what we aim for”. The Banana EP is out now via Up Records Belly Squad appear at Sequences Festival, Bristol, 29 July
057 A lot has changed in Maya’s world since we last saw each other. Back then, she had a different first name, and presented herself as a different gender. She had a day job in New York that she’s since had to quit, as an already busy touring schedule with her Octo Octa live sets became more demanding once she’d found the confidence to start DJing too. She’s also about to release a new LP, Where Are We Going? Four years since the last one, it’s her third album to date, but it nevertheless feels like a start-over debut. A video chat with Maya gives us a chance to catch up on everything. But distractions come early courtesy of a sultry 12” record cover, displayed on the wall of her Bed-Stuy home studio. “It’s Meli’sa Morgan’s Still In Love With You,” Maya tells me, “I’ve been looking for that record for a long time. It’s my favourite Masters At Work remix. I always keep some records out to have nice things in the studio to look at, and I rarely get to find like an actual picture cover.” After swivelling her screen around to show off her other studio totems, the camera settles on a bloat of ceramic hippopotamuses, crowded together on top of a monitor. “I get a bunch of them from an elderly relative who likes to buy everyone one animal thing,” she explains, “my wife’s brother once said he liked monkeys when he was seven, so for his entire life – he’s 19 now – monkeys are always purchased for him. Since my wife and I have been together 14 years I had to come up with an animal. I was like, ‘What animal do I actually like, but am also not going to receive giant things of, because they would be hard to find? Oh yeah, I like hippos!’”
I laugh, but Maya’s anecdote about quirky gifting strategies quickly turns into a black comedy vignette of the transgender experience. “Christmas last year was rough,” she continued, “she gave me a snack of cheddar-covered mealworms. I was like ‘Oh… thanks.’ She’s like, ‘I just thought that was such a unique gift. I thought you’d love it.’ Why would anyone ever love that? It was her passive aggressive gift, but this year I got a hippo again and fifty bucks. She was finally OK with me coming out, is what that means.” Maya acknowledges that day-to-day life as a transgender person is atypical, and her life as a full-time electronic music artist is also atypical, but she reserves particular ire for the public humiliations of extensive airport security pat downs (“It’s a ton of bullshit. It’s terrible. It’s garbage”), and the phenomenon of catching strangers in the act of taking surreptitious photos of her on the subway. “I’m not looking to get into a fight and have someone just fucking lose it at me,” she says. “I’m a vulnerable individual stuck in this tin can.” But despite the dispiriting, terrifying rise of intolerant and discriminatory ideologies in the USA, there’s a feeling of strength in Maya’s outlook. “It’s funny, I’ve been having interviews now and in a couple of them we’ve been talking a lot about Trump,” she says. “And while doing it I wish I had some statement about supporting trans women in the States right now, but I don’t have that explicit thing, because talking about bathroom laws feels weirdly embarrassing and degrading to me. It’s about where you go to the toilet. I was talking to someone else about it and they were like, ‘Are you going to move to another country?’ And it’s like, ‘No.’ I’m gonna stay here. This is where I grew up and where I live. I don’t want to leave this space. As much as I love travelling and going to other places I’m always super happy, for better or worse, every time I come back to America.” The stylish, retro beauty of that Meli’sa Morgan record cover takes on an extra significance given the imminent release of Where Are We Going? Octo Octa’s music signature – melody drenched, vocal-sampled house music, with
Words: Christine Kakaire Photography: Christopher Olszewski
Maya Bouldry-Morrison and I have what I’d characterise as a warm acquaintanceship. We’ve connected sporadically in Berlin over the years, during her off-duty stints between European tour dates. Each interaction features her charming mix of geniality, self-deprecation and Big Apple sarcasm. Her wheezy chuckle bubbles out at the end of almost every sentence, and almost every sentence of hers is genuinely funny.
“There’s the idea of letting the music speak for itself, but I’m actually happy with how I look and how I am in the world now. That gave me strength to put myself out more”
generous pinches of 90s nostalgia and Balearic dreaminess – remains intact. However, Maya has graduated from cooler-than-thou nouveau house music imprint 100% Silk, to matriculate with San Francisco-based queer collective Honey Soundsystem. She’s shed the 100% Silk aesthetic entirely, where, curiously, the artwork for all but one of her releases depict the heads, limbs, torsos and inscrutable facial expressions of other people. The cover of Where Are We Going? finds her kneeling on a bed, directly facing the camera, dressed in a mini-dress and over-the-knee socks. An unseen wind machine tousles her bangs and long dark hair, while a screwballstyle expression of bemusement has her looking out of frame through tortoiseshell rims. “It‘s something that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with at first, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it,” Maya says of the album’s cover art. “That one was after six hours of taking photos, right at the very end, and we chose that picture because it’s one of the few where I didn't look absolutely insane! There’s that weird idea of letting the music speak for itself, but I’m actually happy with how I look and how I am in the world now. That gave me strength to put myself out more. It’s nice to populate the internet with photos that are not from four years ago. I like having new images that I’m actually proud of, so I make a point to tie the picture of myself with the music as much as possible.”
As with Octo Octa’s previous releases, the tracks of Where Are We Going? are accessible and dancefloor-ready. But as a complete document, the album contains a new steely streak of boldness. Visually, there’s no space for the typically anonymous electronic music artist. Socially, it reclaims some of house music’s increasingly heteronormal real estate, to take up space centrestage (or better yet, centre bed) for a body that is resolutely queer and transgender. By extension, the album is
musically bold as well, soundtracking a weighty four-year period where the artist stared down her personal demons, exposed herself publicly like never before, and pointedly sought out a record label that aligned more closely with the transformation that moved her beyond gender dysphoria. “The last record, Between Two Selves, was a coded queer statement,” she explains. “I wanted to be more overt with this one. As much as I like 100% Silk, it’s not necessarily a queer label.” Two tracks at the middle of Where Are We Going? act as a caesura, retreating from the sparkling house productions on either side into classic chill-out room ambience, pensive piano lilts, slowed Amen breaks, and a notable Mariah Carey sample. The titles of those tracks – No More Pain (Promises To A Younger Self) and Move On (Let Go) (De-stress Mix) – and their retro audio markers seem to point to painful moments in her past, especially given her revelations about a lifelong struggle with severe anxiety, but the truth is much less predictable. “Everything I make always has some event around it that affects why I’m titling it that way,” she says. “No More Pain references the IDM and breakcore I used to make, like a message to 14-year-old me, but I don't remember why I called Move On that. I did two mixes of it, The De-stress Mix and the Stress Mix, which has like a drum’n’bass bassline over it. I don’t know, I was just being goofy! But I’m trying to make conscious choices about being less stressed anyways, and trying to deal with my anxiety more. I don’t do a lot of yoga. It always comes from music, or going out dancing. That’s about as close to self-care therapy as I get.” Where Are We Going? is released 7 April via Honey Soundsystem Octo Octa appears at Field Maneuvers, UK, 1-3 September
Jacket: C.P. Company Shirt: Vintage from Rife & Stride
Photography: Theo Cottle Styling: Charlotte James Stylist's Assistants: Asha Hai, Jade Moore Words: Augustin Macellari
The past few years have seen a gloomy evisceration of what little pride there is to be found in the UK. A resurgence in nationalism – that directly mirrors a deterioration in social services, opportunity and international engagement – appears to be polarising society beyond repair, while heroes from the past are viewed in a new light; as racists, warmongers and sex offenders. Cultural movements, too, are undergoing a process of revision. Punk (the 40th anniversary of which was celebrated last year in the British Library among other places) is not just dead. According to recent reports, it never lived. Weren’t the Sex Pistols essentially One Direction with bad teeth?
In recent years, Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods has assumed the role of unofficial spokesperson for the fuckedoff. Williamson and his bandmate Andrew Fearn have channelled the spirits of both this current age and whatever punk was supposed to be with grim success. Fearn provides a mardy backing to the even mardier invective spat by Williamson, a streamof-consciousness excoriation of class, the government, capitalism, jobsworths and on and on. The stripped-back vocals/backing formula puts them on a spectrum with Suicide and the Pet Shop Boys, though, really, they’re incomparable to either.
Williamson’s fury stretches further than his lyricism; he’s used both the band’s Twitter account and interviews as an opportunity to vent spleen, often by way of throwing shade at other bands. His irritation seems to flair most when faced with any sort of inauthenticity. Indeed, when I talk to him on the phone a couple of days after the shoot, authenticity, or at least honesty – to himself, the band and the public – is a clear concern. There were two conditions to his participation in this fashion editorial: no Stone Island and no tower blocks. “I’ve never worn Stone Island,” he says. “I didn’t want to represent something that wasn’t necessarily close to me.” He's polite and thoughtful, speaking from the middle of a shopping centre. “And the tower blocks… I’ve never lived in one, you know. I find certain imagery can just be insulting to people that are living in that environment. There’s nothing wrong with living in a tower block, but it’s something that I haven’t done, you know?” Image, for Williamson, becomes a question of integrity, and honesty in self-representation supports the overarching message of the band. “The music was made on the foundations of myself and Andrew, and there was absolutely no glamour with that,” Williamson says. “It was what you see is what you get. So it’s important to keep that going.”
Much of Sleaford Mods’ impact lies in Williamson’s lyrical self-awareness. His is not some outsider criticism; there’s no pretence of rejecting society – rather, his songs' resonance comes from his position within it. This same self-awareness manifests as a kind of capitalist pragmatism. Brands, he says, might be “full of shit” but at the same time he understands his position relative to them. “I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m a consumer, you know. I’m by no means one of these kind of anarchic punks; I’m a fully fledged member of consumerism… it doesn’t bother me really.” Plus, he says, he’s witnessed the effect a total rejection of consumerism has first hand: “I’ve got one friend who’s a staunch Marxist, and he looks terrible all the time. You know, he’s got a pair of crocs. That’s the reality of it – you look like a cunt.” His personal style has been informed by, of course, mod culture, though it hasn’t changed much since around the year 2000. “Around 30, 31, I started wearing long coats. I’ve kept to that, long coats and my haircut are the same.” Like the rest of us, he’s largely given up shoes for trainers – a development which he attributes to “this resurgence in grime.” Grime, indeed, comes up frequently – it’s clearly a fresh influence, and there are certainly parallels to be drawn between the genre and the
music of Sleaford Mods, in the shared expressions of working class, urban frustrations. It’s also got him wearing jogging pants. “I think tracksuits look better than suits these days, you know what I mean?” As material success hasn’t necessarily seen a drastic increase in how much his clothes matter, neither has it seen his anger mellow. As the Sleaford Mods’ new album English Tapas shows, Williamson doesn’t need hindsight to clock the UK’s failings: he’s witness to them now. “There’s more people on the streets,” he says. “It gets to the point where you have to specially get money out of the bank so you can give it to them.” From Jason Williamson's vantage point – where image communicates more than just fashion decisions and authenticity is key – his view is clear. “It’s not fucking right.” English Tapas is out now via Rough Trade
Coat: A.P.C Shirt: Oliver Spencer Trousers: Libertine-Libertine Shoes: Adidas
Jacket: Oliver Spencer Shirt: Oliver Spencer Trousers: Libertine-Libertine
Shirt: Vintage from Rife & Stride
Beyond Big Brother:
Words: Josie Thaddeus-Johns Photography: All images ÂŠ David von Becker
CO Berlinâ€™s exhibition asks, are we paranoid enough about the reality of modern surveillance?
It’s a Friday night and Berlin’s CO Gallery is packed. Sipping flutes of opening-night champagne, visitors look thoughtfully up at Hasan Elahi’s work Tracking Transience, a colour-coded wall with hundreds of photos, all taken from the artist’s phone camera roll. In 2002, Elahi was arrested by the FBI at Detroit airport, having been mistakenly placed on a terror watchlist. His response to their surveillance? What he calls ‘sousveillance’. Eladi has recorded his movements for the past 15 years on his website, snippets of which make up the hundreds of photos of hamburgers, unmade beds and car parks displayed in front of the Berlin art crowd tonight. His work is part of Watched! Surveillance Art and Photography, a group show exploring photography’s various strategies for commenting on surveillance culture as it continues to engulf more areas of our lives. Beyond the information we know we’re sharing publicly via social media, our data is given away during most of our interactions with technology, from downloading apps on our phone, to simply using a web browser or a bank account. “These things make life nicer,” says CO curator Ann-Christin Bertrand, touring the gallery with me a week after the opening. “Surveillance is no longer Big Brother watching you, it’s all around us and we all constantly participate in it.
We are the producer and the consumer of surveillance at the same time.” ‘Sousveillance’ is one strategy behind the exhibited artists’ works. If people are collecting data on your every move, why not collect it yourself? Paolo Cirio’s portraits also reflect methods of surveillance back onto those who watch others. The artist finds unofficial, personal photos on social media of US intelligence officials and stencils them in a triangular Warhol style onto a white canvas. The subjects of the portraits spend their days investigating others, but now it’s us who are staring into their overexposed faces.
CO’s Christin Bertrand
In both Elahi and Cirio’s work this notion is taken to an absurd level. As we look at the accumulation of images that appear to reveal everything, we realise how little information we are actually gleaning from them. Of course, much of this information only makes sense when it’s added to vast swathes of data from other people, and can create profiles to forecast a person’s behaviour. This “big data” strategy gives a new, predictive meaning to surveillance, simply by comparing your data to millions of others. One lingering problem with those concerned about the amount of personal information companies and governments hold is that, in many ways, the issue appears to be abstract. Data seems
Paolo Cirio, Overexposed. 2015, from a series of unauthorized photos of NSA, CIA and FBI officials found on social media © Paolo Cirio
Ann-So e Sidén, Sticky Floors (Lunch to last Call), 2014 © Ann-So e Sidén, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm
“Surveillance is all around us and we all constantly participate in it. We are the producer and the consumer of surveillance at the same time”
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, The Painter‘s Wife, 2013, from Spirit is a Bone © Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
As the opening evening progresses, I watch other guests surveying these documents that Edward Snowden risked everything to publish. The words sit mutely behind glass, while thoughtful visitors ponder the art works carefully. Our anxiety about surveillance reached a kind of cultural peak in the immediate aftermath of this data that Snowden leaked – a period in which most of the works in this exhibition were made (2013-15). And yet, nothing has changed. In fact, the effects of our proliferating data seem to be growing, with recent terrorist attacks in Europe causing enough of a security concern for governments to expand the scope of their data collection in the name of public safety.
This is always the playoff: security versus freedom. Meanwhile, the data-donating population became complacent, trusting the security forces were in ‘safe hands’. ‘Sure, they might have my data,’ people seem to think to themselves. ‘But what will they really do with it?’ In 2017, with Donald Trump’s attacks on civil liberties, it’s harder than ever to trust our leaders. How could future governments or corporations use the data we give today? CO Berlin is just metres from Breitscheidplatz, the site of the 2016 attack where a hijacked lorry ploughed into a Christmas market and killed 12 people, injuring many more. The initial suspect of the attack was a 23-yearold asylum seeker, who was deemed to be behaving suspiciously in the high intensity moments after the lorry hit. Esther Hovers’ series of works False Positives shows a range of collective behaviours all deemed to be deviant, that would set off alarm bells in intelligent surveillance systems. A man crosses a street at an odd angle, a cluster of three people splits in the middle of a road. “This is really the problem of surveillance,” Ann-Christin says thoughtfully as we conclude our tour of the show. “It may increase our security but it also reduces our freedom to act in certain ways. It's also about the way of looking...” Indeed, I think, would the wrongly accused suspect of the Breitscheidplatz attack have been
picked out for his “erratic” movement through the crowd if he didn’t have brown skin? It raises the question of how free public spaces are, and how this freedom is conceived of. Viktoria Binschtok’s work arranges images taken from Google Street View next to her own, analogue photographs of the same place, instead focusing on details like a worn carpet, a damaged pool table, or a dropped flipflop. “I offer the viewer two possibilities: it’s all photography,” she says to me, over the noise of the opening night crowd gazing at her diptychs. In other words, there are different ways of seeing the same place. There is more to a location than just what the Google car, in its remarkable similarity to an undercover surveillance vehicle, can see. There are still some spaces that are undisturbed by Google’s Street View cameras, such as the countryside. “For us, the forest is a very romantic location, and a symbol of protection and peace,” says Florian Mehnhart, whose artwork Forest Protocols (2012) comprises recordings of people’s private conversations there, in order to criticise complacency around data privacy. As we chat, we watch visitors placing headphones over their ears to listen in on country-wanderers’ personal conversations. People were angry about his violation of this untouched space, but to Florian, this communicated his
point about data protection. “Sure, I had problems with the authorities,” he says with a shrug. “But we have a law about freedom of the arts, which is why I’m allowed to do it.” This is one aspect of art’s power – it is protected by law. Another part of its power is its unique capacity to make us feel things that we previously only understood rationally. Listening to Florian talk, I imagine that the future belongs not just to huge tech corporations, but to artists too, who can make people feel something, realising the politics inherent in their everyday interactions. And yet, something nags. As I exit the opening, I nearly bump into the event photographer, who is snapping a pair of party guests. They each have a wine glass in one hand, smartphone in the other, thumbing away on these GPS-tracking surveillance devices that nevertheless allow them to chat to all their friends in an instant. They are carefree, unconcerned, enjoying their evening and the attention of being photographed at a glamorous art event. “Perhaps not,” I think. Watched! Surveillance Art and Photography runs at CO Berlin until 23 April
like an intangible force, and yet this information has to be held physically somehow. Some of the photography at the Berlin CO gallery tackles this. For example, Trevor Paglen’s work NsaTapped Fiber Optic Cable Landing Site, Marseille, France (2015) shows a beautiful French seascape in a calm, hazy dusk. On the right hand side of the diptych is a map, annotated with files from the Snowden leaks. Closer inspection reveals that this landscape is the place where underwater cables connect from all over the world, and where the NSA taps vast swathes of data as it rushes through. On the surface, all is calm: underneath, subterfuge. Invisible, but still material.
Ren Untitled, 2014 ÂŠ Ren Hang / courtesy Stieglitz19
073 Hailed as China’s Ryan McGinley, Hang’s work has been described as ‘controversial’, ‘provocative’, ‘boundarypushing’ and ‘subversive’ due to constant run-ins with the Chinese authorities over censorship. As timely as this issue may be, Hang’s work as a photographer transcends the constant politicising of his images. The show at Foam was the result of Hang winning the Unseen Photo Fair’s Outset Exhibition Fund 2016. The prize offers emerging artists a solo show and the opportunity for experimentation in the institution’s dedicated space. Upon entering the small room, high above a 16th century canal house, I’m immediately struck by a large print of one of Hang’s most iconic images: a portrait of a young Chinese girl with trademark red lips peering out at me from behind an iridescent peacock. The space is bright, but contained, and the 23 images adorn the enclosed four walls like constellations. The images themselves are a combination of young male and female models, shot inside unassuming bedrooms, imposing city skylines and blending into nature. It feels like you’re swirling around the inside of the artist’s head. The curator Mirjam Kooiman, who worked closely with Hang on the show, confirms the layout reflects how he himself looked at his own work: “It was presented as a stream of consciousness,” she tells me. Using a cheap point-and-shoot 35mm camera, Hang worked in collaboration with his models – a mix of friends and fans who found him online as well as his mother. Considering the censorship laws in China and the nature of his shoots – many of the models are naked
and totally uninhibited – you can see why Hang was so particular about who he shared his world with. The human body was his material, which he moulded into various sculptures. Cocks are playfully decorated in red lipstick, breasts get pulled into contorted shapes and heads poke out of pussies, spontaneously caught inside his flashlight. Dead octopuses and live birds, fruits and flowers all clash in an orgy of milky body parts. The result is beautiful, shocking and ethereal. But Hang always shrugged off any deeper meaning to his work. “I don’t really view my work as taboo, because I don’t think so much in cultural context, or political context," Hang said in an interview with TASCHEN's Sexy Books editor, Dian Hanson, for his self-titled photobook. "I don’t intentionally push boundaries, I just do what I do." Unfortunately, his beloved homeland saw his practice differently. In China, pornographic images have been banned since 1949 and outdoor nudity is prohibited, leading to many of his shows being cancelled, his work defaced or confiscated, as well as numerous arrests. Despite asserting that his work is not about politics, Hang’s images stare down his generation’s restrictions – issues of gender, sexuality and freedom of speech to name a few. Kooiman believes that, within China’s sociopolitical context, the meaning of Hang’s work can only grow in significance. “He was a successful example of a generation that speaks another language, or at least tries to invent one that fits their lifestyle in the midst of imposed standards,” she tells me. Kooiman isn’t the only person who saw Hang as a mouthpiece for his generation. The outspoken artist and activist Ai Weiwei included him in a group show, FUCK OFF 2, at the Groninger Museum in The Netherlands in 2013. The highly provocative show included 37 contemporary Chinese artists challenging China’s current sociological, environmental, legal, and political climate. “I think now, in this environment, ‘artist’ is a negative term
instead of positive," Hang admitted in a documentary around the same time. “So I don’t like to call myself an artist in Beijing or China. I just shoot photos.” For those who knew Hang, his avoidance in engaging with these issues made sense. The softly spoken, self-taught photographer picked up a camera to alleviate “boredom” when studying advertising at university around 2007. Despite media attention and growing success in the following years, he claimed he took pictures as a way to feel less lonely and to fill the emptiness of his heart. Beyond the candid playfulness, Hang’s photos have an undercurrent of isolation, if you look hard enough. His blog, My Depression, documented his long battle with mental illness. “Every time I cross a bridge, I am afraid of myself, that I will jump into the river,” he wrote in 2013. Following his death, the outpouring of sadness on social media wasn’t just from art world insiders. Hang’s honesty struck a chord with people from all walks of life. His friend and colleague Ai Weiwei opened up to TIME about how Hang’s work spoke to the struggles of a generation: "[Hang] represented a new generation of young Chinese artists [whose] works reflect the reality of China, today. The images are fresh, but also empty and superficial. They contain a deep sadness within." The passing of Ren Hang is still difficult to process. But his legacy will be a fearless exploration of what it means to be human – inhabiting our bodies, reaching out to connect to others and to the space around us. He taught us how to interact with the world in a more honest and open way. And for that, in our post-truth world, we can only be grateful.
Ren Hang’s first solo museum show Naked/Nude ended with a dark cloud over it. On 23 February, a few weeks before its closure at Amsterdam’s Foam Photography Museum, the Chinese photographer jumped from a building to his death. He was 29-years-old. Following this tragic news, Foam became something of a makeshift shrine in the show’s concluding weeks, as his bold images thundered the walls like a suicide note to the world he left behind.
Untitled, 2016 © Ren Hang / courtesy Stieglitz19
Words: Rachel Sato-Banks
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Live THE BUG Gretchen, Berlin 9 March
HELLO STOCKHAUSEN! Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam 17 March
Following a turbulent few years for the the city’s clubs, Printworks is the most talked about venue in London right now. The new, 5000-capacity venue is being hailed as the saviour of nightlife, and the Hydra's daytime event provided ample opportunity to see if those claims carried credence. Formerly Europe’s largest printing press, it’s a fully soundproofed shell – you can’t hear even the slightest shudder of a sub until you’re inside the building. The space is far longer than it is wide, flanked by hulking machinery and pillars. The sound throughout is on-point, but it’s the lighting production that’s a cut above. Searchlights beaming from the ceiling, moving rectangular lighting bars and cleverly utilised disco balls are all put into service of illuminating the huge space. The Hydra’s line-up showcased a number of different flavours. By 5pm, the party was in full swing to the sounds of Joy Orbison’s varied selections, Floating Points’ majestic switches between euphoric disco and tougher house presented a masterclass in not playing it safe, while Daphni’s selections veered between his own Caribou productions (Sun) and current crossover bangers (Denis Sulta’s It’s Only Real). There’s been much talk about London’s dancing options becoming significantly reduced in recent years. With Printworks' current license, they’re hosting day and early evening parties for now, with tonight’s event running from noon until 22:30pm, for example. But spending a wet Saturday evening swept up in what is likely to be the future of big-scale London clubbing gave rise to an all too rare feeling: a genuine sense of hope. ! Thomas Frost N Jake Davi
! Jack Dolan
MITSKI Lido, Berlin 28 February Berlin’s Lido has a calmly decadent feel to it. It’s a stripped-back set-up: the stage bordered by floor-to-ceiling red velvet and littered with exposed-bulb lamps that occasionally match swells in sound. It’s reminiscent of the black lodge from Twin Peaks and filled with the desired ambience for any kind of womb-like cave to hide away from the world. The latter is a realm that Mitski’s music often occupies, and the 26-yearold indie sensation looks every bit celestial as she takes her place under a blue spotlight. Penetrating your soul with the perils of 20-something life, Mitski’s breakthrough album 2016 album Puberty 2 acted as a medium for the universal truths of a quarter life crisis: the awkward dance of fucking up, feeling lost, and getting on with it. The doting crowd hang on her every word like they know, with songs like Once More To See You and I Bet On Losing Dogs having a hypnotic effect. “You like that?” she jokes as they tease the intro of much-loved hit Your Best American Girl during a lively first half. At one point Mitski says goodbye to her band and takes the stage solo. The bulbs lose their light and the backdrop darkens. A couple next to me are locked in an embrace, eyes closed, as Mitski begins A Burning Hill (“Tonight I will wear my white button down, I’m tired of wanting more, I think I’m finally worn”). She thrashes through My Body’s Made Of Crushed Little Stars and back to the haunting existentialism of Last Words of a Shooting Star. Closing out with Class of 2013, where Mitski pines for a womb-like retreat of her own, its final refrain seems to linger in the crowd: “Mom, am I still young? Can I dream for a few months more?” ! Anna Tehabsim N Madeline Ohaus
LIL UZI VERT Electric Ballroom, London 6 March Lil Uzi Vert is rap’s current eccentric-in-chief. If you wanted to describe his swagger to someone completely unfamiliar with millennial rap, you could do worse than ask them to picture what’d happen if someone made a trippy anime where a bunch of scientists genetically splice Lenny Kravitz with a skate park loitering Lil Wayne – diamond grills and all. Arriving onstage at a packed Electric Ballroom, Uzi goes straight into tracks like Do What I Want and Money Longer, kicking and jumping along with the frenzied audience as the beats drop, and the crowd bounce with each “ya” from the opening line to his verse on Migos’ Bad and Boujee. The 22-year-old has full control, whipping up circle pits like a true rockstar and spraying the crowd with champagne. He even has to cut short his performance of Too Much Sauce after a fight breaks out in the pit. His carefree, wavy dance moves definitely deserve a shoutout too – his snaking hips clothed in leather trousers that probably cost more than it does to rent a flat in Shoreditch. Uzi ends the show on a melancholic note with the first ever performance of XO TOUR Llif3 from his newly dropped Luv is Rage 1.5 EP. “All my friends are dead/ Push me to the edge,” he belts, staying true to his brand of cool kid nihilism. The fact that the show came to an abrupt end was fitting: this was a short, sharp shock. Go with it, or be left behind.
! Davy Reed
! Hamda Issa-Salwe N Travers Southwall
DAPHNI + FLOATING POINTS Printworks London 4 March
Karlheinz Stockhausen is one of the most influential composers of the 20th Century, and certainly the most divisive. His experiments with magnetic tape and other electronics in the 50s and 60s had a lasting impact on the early techno pioneers decades later. In fact, the German composer’s influence spans all the way from bands like Can (who were students of his during his time teaching in Cologne) to Juan Atkins. With this collection of pieces, Muziekgebouw delve into some of Stockhausen’s most intriguing and challenging works. The first two works Gesang der Jünglinge and Telemusik are both played solely from Stockhausen’s tape recordings. This puts the focus fully on the music’s remarkable, fully immersive sonics, which translate beautifully thanks to the concert hall’s acoustics. In the second half of the show these layers of pre-recorded sound become the backdrop for a duo of musicians performing Kontakte, Karlheinz’s first electro-acoustic piece composed in the late 50s. The two huge gongs which sit at centre stage are intermittently returned to throughout; sometimes struck, other times scratched, scraped or caressed creating a resonant tone somewhere between the live percussion and recorded sounds. The two performers’ ability to synchronise all of this with complex percussive passages as well as with each other was gripping to watch. I’m not ashamed to admit that the technical depth in Stockhausen’s work is sometimes over my (and most people’s) heads. However, this particular performance successfully brought the composer’s complex ideas to life and made them fascinating, no matter your level of musical education.
Out on the streets of Berlin, Gretchen’s crinkled fly posters list names like Machinedrum, Gonjasufi and LTJ Bukem. The venue offers a comparatively more varied and bass-heavy schedule than many of the city’s most well-known clubs, where techno and house tend to reign supreme. Gretchen – which served as a military horse stable over a hundred years ago – has somewhat bravely offered to host Pressure, the club night of The Bug’s Kevin Martin, an artist who’s always positioned himself against genre uniformity. It’s a partnership that makes sense. Around 20 years ago, Warner Bros apparently bought Martin a colossal soundsystem – which includes ten 18” bass bins among other amps – as part of his advance for the second album from Ice, his project with experimental metal musician Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. When they heard the LP, Ice got dropped, but Martin kept the soundsystem, and he’s brought it back to life after moving from London to Berlin a few years back. Around midnight, a slightly sparse but enthusiastic crowd have gathered for a set of rootsy dub 7”s as Martin DJs under his Black Wax Attack guise. While the physical force of the volume is intimidating, there’s a strangely warm atmosphere, with younger people dancing down the front while older ravers and hippy-types nod in appreciation by the bar. The Acid Ragga set sees Martin joined by Israeli MC Miss Red, who brings a significant force of feminine energy as the duo increase the night’s intensity levels. After an interval Justin Broadrick assists Martin for a special performance that marks the death of their Techno Animal group and the birth of their new project ZONAL. As they warm up with a sustained drone before dropping industrial noise and menacing trip-hop beats, the volume junkies gather close to the system while a middle-aged couple fall asleep on a sofa by the bar. It’s not for everyone, and maybe that’s the point.
LIT TLE DR AGON Season High Loma Vista
In a review of World Eater’s second single Silent Treatment, Pitchfork argued that the track and the record’s cover artwork – a close-up of a dog bearing its teeth – both convey a warning: that “our pets, our loved ones hold the power to hurt us in ways we never could have imagined.” While much of Benjamin Power’s work embodies a duality, simultaneously seducing and punishing its listeners with glistening sound-design and abrasive noise, it’s hard to feel like it ever communicates anything as personal as a beloved but hostile pet. First as one half of noise duo Fuck Buttons and now as Blanck Mass, Powers’ music has always evoked the epic and the imaginary – wildfire, electrical storms or planets being swallowed by suns could all be aptly soundtracked by him. It’s arguably the reason why his music has reached so far beyond noise music’s niche fanbase – Fuck Buttons and Blanck Mass tracks were famously used in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. World Eater sees Powers attempt to introduce some new ideas. Here, glossier production and strange down-tempo interludes break up the density. Vocal samples are no longer treated like instruments: while still warped and pitch-shifted, they reference pop-music more than ever here and clear phrases can be made out. There’s also a confusing inclusion of an almost unedited, 90-second sample of Phoebe – a song by vaporwave outfit Luxury Elite – at the end of Minnesota / Eas Fors / Naked. Aside from seeming to not fit in conceptually, the nod to vaporwave seems slightly regressive, given how far the genre’s champions like Oneohtrix Point Never, now one of Blanck Mass’s peers, have evolved since its heyday. Despite its impressive moments, World Eater seems like an experiment that left the studio too early, marking a crossroads for an artist who has mastered one field and can’t decide whether to keep digging where he stands, or to go out looking for new territory.
Jamiroquai's frontman Jay Kay presents himself as a man of the world, combining streetwise knowledge with roguish charm under a big gnome-y hat. Sometimes, he pulls it off. Will he with Automaton, their first album in seven years? Reportedly, Automaton sees Kay taking that nous and aiming it at the apparently excessive influence of technology on our lives. But on opener Shake It On, Jay Kay ruminates on the difficulties of pushing our limits before truly knowing ourselves: 'I need to find out where I am before I reach the stars/ yeah, before I step on Mars'. Not even a clavinet – perhaps the funkiest instrument in the world – can obscure these bizarrely terrible lyrics, and the dumpy production, hemmed in by toorigidly quantised percussion. The 'maybe technology is bad' theme continues in the title track, which has decent Soulwax-y synth work through the verses ruined by a weak chorus and an excruciating middle-aged-rap. Dr Buzz sees Jay allude to Black Lives Matter, and while Jamiroquai have the capacity for witty pop songs with a coherent political message; unfortunately Dr Buzz just isn't one of them. The rest of Automaton is primarily mushy pap with elements of disco, funk and acid jazz, occasionally enlivened with the trendiest synthesiser lines of 2007. Jay Kay's libido also makes an unwelcome appearance in Hot Property and Summer Girl. In the end, the lairy playboy of the 90s has become the randy dad of 2017. While this album has some good elements, the overall effect is to put the 'why?' in Jamiroquai.
Little Dragon’s frontwoman Yukimi Nagano has described a desire to escape from grey and rainy days in the band’s hometown of Gothenburg with their music. Indeed, electronic music has always been an escape route for those who colour outside the lines. Across the world, dance music has bloomed in warehouses, locked away in basements and concealed deep within a subculture for queers, for people of colour and for those on the outskirts of that which was deemed acceptable and accepted. Little Dragon's fifth LP Season High could soundtrack these margins. The album’s centerpiece Should I drapes Nagano’s silky vocals over a glistening synth riff and offthe-beaten-path percussion that waltzes with folk rhythms. Elsewhere, Push bounces along buoyantly above Nagano’s sometimes breathy, sometimes soulful delivery of a topline that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Candi Staton album. “Waiting for the big win/ You want the world to know”, Nagano taunts, and it’s hard not to vogue along. However, as Little Dragon pluck influences from various genres and eras, the strength of the band’s core electropop sound comes into question. When Nagano’s voice fades behind the production, it becomes clear now more than ever that her instantlyrecognisable vocals are what holds Little Dragon together. But Season High works regardless. The broad palette of styles and influences it represents come together in a colourful soundtrack to escape the bleak standards against which each day of 2017 has been judged. The three years since their last album Nabuma Rubberband were years filled with political unrest, the rise of the unbarred and unjust, and an unsettling uncertainty about where we’re heading. Season High is about leaving it behind for now, but not forever. As Nagano sings in Celebrate, “Don’t escape love, celebrate/ Fading every fear into rainbow tears/ For tonight, don’t be uptight”. As if summoning a full dancefloor misty with bodies and inhibitions, she repeats her refrain: “Let love drip”.
! Steve Mallon
! Robert Bates
! Nathan Ma
BL ANCK MASS World Eater Sacred Bones
JAMIROQUAI Automaton Virgin EMI
ARCA Arca XL Recordings
SMAGGHE & CROSS Ma Offen
Before striding into the spotlight with his stunning stage persona, Alejandro Ghersi, aka Arca, shook the music scene in 2012 as a subversive producer, pregnant with potential. Often described as ‘unclassifiable’, his original, fluid sound morphed between contorted bass music, mutated hip-hop, skittering IDM and a rich, romantic sense of melancholia. As he defies expectations of genre and gender, there’s a radical freedom that runs through all of Arca’s work. Arca’s vision has led to him collaborating with the world’s most exciting musicians – FKA twigs, Kanye West, Dean Blunt, Mica Levi and Björk. In his frequent pairings with close friend and visual artist Jesse Kanda, imagery and sound merge to portray in-between states and the uneasy explorations of an ugly beauty. This all leads us to Arca’s eponymous album, the masterpiece that his previous solo work has hinted at in the past. Having been gently encouraged to sing by Björk, Arca debuts his untreated vocal, for the first time on record, as a holy vessel of bleeding catharsis. “Here’s my voice and all my guts,” he declared in the press release. “Feel free to judge it. It’s like a bullfight: you’re watching emotional violence for pleasure.” Here, Arca sings in his native Spanish. It is his chosen tongue of emotional purge; the language he experienced his parents divorce in; the words he witnessed violence through. The songs here are inspired by the ‘Tonadas’ – the tradition of Venezuelan tonal songs that articulate the ineffable potency of suffering and longing. Arca finds Ghersi shedding his heavy and cluttered production to give his voice space as if he’s removing body armour, exposing raw nerve ends and an ocean of vulnerability. The stunning opener Piel showcases a warbling falsetto that dramatically cascades from ethereal highs, dropping downwards into gravelly lows. The vestige of choirboy-esque innocence reverberating throughout his delivery in Anoche is juxtaposed in the hyper-sexual visual by Kanda, and sometimes the emotional gravity that anchors Arca’s vocal recalls the quivering sorrow that lives within the voice of Anohni. There are mind-blowing instrumental tracks such as the emotionally explosive Urchin and the onomatopoeic aural assault of Whip, which leads us on to Desafio – a gloriously visceral marriage of turmoil and defiance that left me sobbing. Stabbing synth lines – like violent tears – and arpeggiated breathy vocals soar across a metallic symphony, a tremendous redemption of sufferance. Transmuting the hopelessly bittersweet suffering and anguish of life into blindsiding art, Arca has crafted the best album of the year so far.
Accompanying the promo copy of this record is a quote attributed to Andrew Weatherall. It's full of artistic wisdom: Magick for me is the carp in Herman’s monastery pond. Brief flashes of gold as I disturb the murky slit of memory. I have no idea what any of it means, but the mystery is pleasing, and Weatherall’s words reflect the album well. Field recordings are the building blocks with which the composing duo of Ivan Smagghe and Rupert Cross have constructed this conceptual house of mirrors, twisted beyond recognition but never less than beautiful. On Ostende Pt 2 for instance, a vicious barrage of noise dissolves to expose a rusty warmth. Heavy tones hang like fog on tracks like Slowdiving while Warren wheezes along, installing itself in your mind over its 12 minutes. The pair serve up a delicious slice of bleakness in the grubby allegory of Cock Of The North (embellishing an extract from poet Adelle Stripe’s Big Weekend) before an understated and harmonius cover of Patrick Cowley entitled We Need Somebody To Love Tonight ties up the LP. The slow pace of Ma can make it somewhat impenetrable, and it's often as oblique as the art instillations it mimics. But it’s rewarding if you stick with it.
! Aine Devaney
! Theo Kotz
08 07 08
07 THUNDERCAT Drunk Brainfeeder
SPECIAL REQUEST FabricLive 91 fabric
JOEY BADA$$ All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ Pro Era / Cinematic Music Group
Growing up on a rural mountainside, the FabricLive series always held mythical status for me. There was no pirate radio, the internet was sketchy at best and my friends and I were years from being able to attend free parties dotted around the county. What we did have, passed on by older boys or stolen from big sisters, were FabricLive CDs. At some point, breakbeat faded into stagnancy and was subsumed by UK bass in the post-dubstep landscape. But for the first five years of the series, FabricLive was rich with it. True to the cyclical nature of dance music, those big basslines and 130bpm breakbeats began gaining traction again around 2013. Paul Woolford’s Special Request, a project indebted to 90s pirate radio, played no small part in this. His entry feels like those classic FabricLives I grew up with. The first third could channel the spirit of 2004: from Caustic Window’s classic rarity Cordialatron via very early Plastician, through Dexter’s No More to Special Request’s own Redrum (Thrash Mix), it mirrors the buzz of those earlier contributions to the series. Dillinja’s seminal Deadly Deep Subs (Remix) steers the mix toward its inevitable jungle-leaning peak. Replicant, one of six new Special Request tracks, wrestles with Rood Project’s Thunder, opening out in cinematic bluster before the final ascent culminating in Nolige’s Adrenaline (2016 Edit). Ambient cuts from the likes of Carl Craig ease the pressure before Abul Mogarde’s gorgeous Desires Are Reminisces By Now closes. Paul Woolford sublimely cuts in newer tracks with the stone-cold classics FabricLive 91 is built upon. The effect is a distillation of some of the most visceral music from rave culture. It also achieves the rare feat of really capturing the feel of a party set in a studio recording. And it’s a party I’d like to be at.
Having risen to popularity at the beginning of the decade, Montreal's Jacques Greene has finally delivered debut full-length. As a producer who frequently incorporates RnB-style vocals into his tracks and a prominent name on the festival circuit, Greene has positioned himself as one of dance music’s more dependable and accessible artists. But as the culture morphs from one trend to another like the ephemeral shifting of the seasons, what narrative, if any, does a debut Jacques Greene album have in 2017? According to Greene, Feel Infinite's intention is to play on human emotions within the context of dance music. Thankfully, Greene doesn't allow himself to stray too far away from the basic concept. It's a lesson in club mindfulness; tenderly inhaling and exhaling to the beat of deep kick drums. Tracks such as I Won't Judge and recent single Real Time seem to aim for emotive rave euphoria, but are strangely inoffensive. Trance-choked synths ascend and distant vocal melodies echo. Phasers habitually circle above structurally sound basslines, subtly suggesting an air of otherworldliness. It's all hazardously predictable. Feel Infinite is Greene on cruise control, cautiously revving an engine that has steadily driven him to this current trajectory in his career. And while his love of the club experience is just about audible, it’s hard to get excited about a record that’s so gracefully unchallenging.
It’s been five years since a 17-year-old Joey Bada$$ lit up the US hip-hop scene with Survival Tactics. The track introduced the world to his unashamedly throwback aesthetic – that drew countless comparisons to 90s New York rap royalty like Nas and Big L – and told an incendiary, us-versus-them tale of street existence under the shadow of the ruling elite. It’s also been five years since Capital STEEZ, a fellow Pro Era founder who appeared alongside Bada$$ on Survival Tactics, tragically took his own life. Both the memory of STEEZ and the themes of social injustice are very much present in Bada$$‘s second LP All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. The spelling of the title nods to STEEZ’s debut solo mixtape, AmeriKKKan Korruption, and of course the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan – which has found a depressing new relevance in the context of US presidential election. Needless to say, the winner of that election is called out here, as Bada$$’s political discontent proves to be much more than a symptom of adolescent rebellion. “Music is a form of expression/ I’ma use mine just to teach you a lesson,” he raps on lead single For My People. However, in a world so saturated with news media, it’s difficult to say something new or even cutting about the current political climate in the US, and those hoping to hear the fierce and fired up sense of anger that fuelled Survival Tactics will be left a little disappointed. For the most part All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ is Joey Bada$$’s smoothest, most-laidback sounding record to date. But now, Bada$$ is able to reflect street injustices into the wider social and political sphere – in the Eric Garner reference on Babylon, for instance – better than ever before. Perhaps the mellowness is a sign of maturity.
! Theo Kotz
! Tom Watson
! Will Pritchard
JACQUES GREEN Feel Infinite LuckyMe
You could have been thrown by news of the 2014 The Bug / Earth collaboration, perhaps even troubled by the potentially crude marriage of two heavyweight sounds. Happily, the resulting Boa / Cold 12” proved any worries unfounded. Kevin Martin, aka The Bug’s punishing, acid-burnt dub electronics meshed well with Dylan Carlson of Earth’s glacial guitar-work; beats were sparse enough that the drone-metal pioneer’s enormous sound had space to unfold, but powerful enough to drive that immense weight forward. Now the duo return for a full-length effort Concrete Desert, which was recorded over two days in LA. It opens with City of Angels, in which we immediately recognise Carlson’s latter-day sound – a far less distorted affair compared with 1993’s Earth 2, but every bit as heavy. Like other tracks on the album (American Dream, Other Side of the World), it’s beatless, with Martin instead using his prowess to whip up a hallucinatory frenzy of thick, shimmering synths. London Zoo it ain’t. Martin’s best known tunes evoke a specific sense of urban dread, but Carlson’s guitar drags Concrete Desert in the direction of something spiritual, and overwhelming. The familiar elements are in place, but they’re a part of something far grander in scale. On Gasoline, for example, a slo-mo dancehall pattern begins to thud beneath an airborne stream of ethereal feedback, joined quickly by Martin’s harsh, trademark stabs of white noise and bass swells. Then, like a river bursting through a dam, Carlson hits a huge power-chord, and suddenly we’re soaring above the city, rather than walking its streets. It’s moments like these, with the pair moving at full momentum, when the record is at its most immediately gratifying. On balance however, Concrete Desert is a deeply meditative listen, led largely by Carlson’s guitar – a colossal work of texture and atmosphere that rewards those who pay attention.
Charli XCX’s 2013 debut album True Romance was a commercial flop that nevertheless won her dedicated fans. Since then the pop star has tried and tested a number of musical avenues, ranging from the peppy-sounding Boom Clap to last year’s more eccentric, SOPHIE-produced Vroom Vroom EP. Having expressed frustration about her label withholding her next album, Number 1 Angel was released via Twitter as a ‘mixtape’. It features an exciting selection of collaborators, including MØ, Raye, Uffie and Abra. With production from PC Music’s AG Cook, Danny L Harle and SOPHIE, the mixtape holds many of the label’s hallmark sounds – skittering beats, helium vocals and throbbing synths. As a whole, the record embraces the sweet presentations of hedonistic themes embodied in XCX’s previous works (‘we shine when the lights go out/ I wanna kiss you in the nightclub’, she sings in Roll With Me), retaining postmodern irony in its syntheticsounding production (thank you, SOPHIE), that’s both shallow and addictive. There is a charm to Charli’s boldness (‘go fuck yourself’, she spits in 3AM (Pull Up)), but it’s sometimes hard to be convinced amidst all the tongue-in-cheek playfulness. But this is a Charli XCX record, and to search for deeper meaning here would be to miss the point somewhat. Rather, Number 1 Angel succeeds in pulling the listener into their saccharine-sweet hooks and quick-changing dynamics. The final track Lipgloss is a particular highlight, closing the record with a wonderfully neon-sounding display of synths, before Chicago rapper CupcakKe boasts, ‘pussy taste sweet cause I ate my pineapple’. Love it or hate it, Number 1 Angel is unashamedly fierce.
! Josie Roberts
! Xavier Boucherat
! Gunseli Yalcinkaya
THE BUG VS E ARTH Concrete Deser t Ninja Tune
CHARLI XCX Number 1 Angel Asylum
In a discussion about balancing humour and social awareness, Stephen Burner recently told an interviewer, “You’ve gotta laugh to keep from crying,” going on to describe the struggle of coping as a man of colour in America. On his third Thundercat album, Bruner deploys a bizarre and dark sense of humour, one that indulges in surreal fun while exploring the anxieties that bubble underneath in his everyday life. Drunk – which crams 23 tracks into 51 minutes – ricochets between moods, reflecting an intoxicated mind. But beyond the oddities of Bruner’s slippery thought processes, the interjections of ‘meows’ and other bodily noises, the way in which Bruner presents himself on the album is ultimately thoughtful, honest, and somewhat sobering. Musings on existence and mortality are nothing new for Thundercat. Take 2015’s The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam EP for example – a mesmeric and stripped-back contemplation on death and whatever lies thereafter. On Drunk, however, he seems more grounded in the present. In the first part of the album we’re in a lighter place, with the shimmering cosmic melodies of A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II) or the smooth and psychedelic Show You The Way (featuring iconic soft rockers Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald). But as the album veers into its latter half, Bruner’s basslines slog and stumble, sinking a little under the acquired gravity of being lost, drunk and numb. Still, in the face of cops attacking on Jameel’s Space Ride, or hiding in Japan’s ‘suicide forest’ after getting someone pregnant in Tokyo, Bruner is still – just about – grinning. As ever, Bruner’s soft, airy vocals blend together the various excursions into spacey, free-floating jazz, rhythmic funk, and slow and sultry RnB. Sure, there’s his musical partner Flying Lotus on mixing and production duties, and there’s seamlessly high profile features from Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, and Wiz Khalifa. But this is Bruner’s boldest release, and it finds him at his most exposed. On Drunk, you are grabbed by the ankles and pulled into the rabbit hole of Bruner’s mind. It’s a dizzying ride.
06 08 NELLY FURTADO The Ride Nelstar
Juan Atkins’ collaborative efforts are becoming the defining feature of the Detroit artist’s output. 2016’s Transport LP, a tense cross-pollination with Berliner and fellow veteran Mortitz Von Oswald under the Borderland name, was one of the defining techno records of the year. And while this new effort with Amsterdam’s Orlando Voorn is a hugely different specimen, the high level of quality is comparable. Experiments of dub and electro play a part, but the more dancefloor-orientated material on Mind Merge takes the plaudits. Shape Shifting is a superbly produced piece where textures move and scatter around the propulsion, constantly foraging and pushing. Standout track Revolve, with its electronic squeal and raging 130bpm beat, belongs in the biggest of big room techno parties. With the record clocking in at a weighty 75 minutes, however, Mind Merge often has a very heavy feel. What tethers the album is a distinguishable sense of urgency, which despite its length carries enough variation to keep interest throughout. But despite the challenges its weightiness presents, this is a vital slice of compelling techno.
Apart from her ability to pen massive tunes, there’s been little continuity in Nelly Furtado’s career. The Canadian pop star released a greatest hits compilation seven years ago, and a flick through the track-listing (Maneater! Say It Right! Promiscuous! Turn Off the Lights!) is as much a reminder of Nelly’s versatility as it is a trip through your VK-clutching teenage years. Her inimitable voice has sold us slick pop, slinky RnB, banjo-strumming indie and futuristic odes to casual sex. But Furtado’s sixth studio album – released through her own imprint Nelstar – goes for a more independent vibe. The Ride is co-produced by the respected John Congleton. He’s worked with a who’s-who of indie/punk/rock’s finest, and was introduced to Furtado by way of St Vincent’s Annie Clarke, and the pairing results in 15 tracks that take wholly unexpected curves. Flatline operates on deadened beats and hospital bleeps with a subtly dark undertone: “I don’t feel nothing at all/ Come on resuscitate me/ Why don’t you come and save me?” Sirens whoop as Furtado takes it down on Paris Sun, which sounds almost like a St Vincent song, and is far less classy than a summer afternoon in France. Right Road sees Furtado lead an industrial marching band and put in a throaty turn that warns that “the high and mighty/ they have fallen” over aggressively barbed guitars. If it turned out to be a cover of a Nine Inch Nails B-side or on the next GTA soundtrack, no one would be remotely surprised. Closer Behind Your Back is a song that was snuck out mid2016, and a tweet from Furtado warned that it wouldn’t make the LP. Regardless, it’s one of the album’s highlights – a semireturn to Loose era Nelly, the song starts in spacy hip-hop and transforms into noodling keys and a live-band feel with a some quality confessional lyricism: “When I’m talkin’ about you/ It’s nothing bad/ It’s just a chance to say your name.” Dig out your low-rise denim and buckle up; turns out there’s little Nelly Furtado can’t do.
August by Cake is the 100th original studio record of Robert Pollard’s career, which began in 1986 with Forever Since Breakfast. That staggering figure apparently “emphatically excludes” live recordings and compilations in order to avoid comparison with The Who, because Pete Townshend “hasn’t written or recorded a decent song since 1978”. Even by their own standards, it’s a work of sprawling ambition, a 32-track double album on which Pollard has encouraged his collaborators more or less free rein to bring in their own ideas. His instructions to new guitarist Bobby Bare Jr., for instance, were simply, “don’t write any country shit.” Pollard, for his own part, worked on ideas for a single LP that then extended to him extrapolating to a longer format by revisiting old, discarded ideas. That August by Cake still has a sonic cohesion to it is nothing short, therefore, of a minor miracle. We get plenty of classic GBV in the form of opener 5° on the Inside and We Liken the Sun, those reliable lo-fi guitars and Pollard’s freewheeling vocal delivery that casual fans know from the group’s glory days. Elsewhere, the more off-kilter highlights include the spiky proto-punk of Deflect Project, gentle acoustic stylings of Sentimental Wars and the languid pop of The Possible Edge. It’s arguably the finest GBV album since the initial reunion in 2010. Here’s to the next hundred!
For the next trick in the ever-shifting strategies of high-profile album drops, Drake’s More Life was released as a ‘playlist’. There may be commercial motivations. Billboard states that streamable playlists are eligible to appear on the album chart – a detail that some labels are beginning to catch up with. But Drake is the first artist to come at the playlist creatively, and he’s the right man for the job. On More Life, he settles into his role as curator-in-chief – half rap superstar, half globetrotting pop A&R. Drake’s never made any secret of his broad, pop-facing gaze. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and Drake uses the diversity of his hometown as a kind of borrower’s permit – picking up musical codes and regional colloquialisms from the artists he admires. Though he’s never managed to do so with this much sophistication and maturity. Get It Together is a scintillating back-and-forth with ascendant UK singer Jorja Smith, set against the backdrop of Black Coffee’s sugary South African house. Kmt, the second of two Giggs collaborations, is as towering and ice-cold as anything the London rapper would put out on his own terms. Both Skepta and Sampha gets tracks of their own, offering welcome breathers from the sometimes indulgent solipsism of Drake’s other full lengths. On More Life, he invests in the sonic trademarks of his guests. They're shown in the best possible light (Travis Scott, Kanye West) and in the case of 2 Chainz and Young Thug, they arguably sound even better than usual. Drake’s not fully outgrown the old him yet though, there’s still a veritable feast of Aubrey-isms on show. Stories of drunk texting J-Lo, a song called Gyalchester and lyrics like “I play my part too, like a sequel” serve as friendly reminders of his slightly goofy but likeable persona. A cynic could write off More Life’s ‘playlist’ categorisation as a defense mechanism – a way for Drake to secure commercial dominance without the responsibility of presenting the record as an album. Rich with detail and subtle perfections, however, you could make a case for More Life being Drake’s best full length project since Take Care. Through format, he’s found space to breathe without pressure and an ability to step away from the spotlight. Through the music, he’s managed to make his scene-hopping feel celebratory rather than contrived or opportunistic. Music journalists often discuss the “universal language of pop” – it’s a handy semantic tool for legitimising or intellectualising the commercial incentives of mainstream music. But after initially raising doubts, with the More Life playlist, Drake has convincingly positioned himself as an architect for a borderless age of pop music.
The first compilation release from the Berlin-based PAN label is a celebration of ambient experimentation. With tracks from the likes of AAYA, Helm, Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Mya Gomez and Flora Yin-Wong plus a contribution from label head Bill Kouligas, this 16-track collection pulls from a chasmal pool of talent from the bleeding edge of club music. Its title, the Japanese phrase ‘Mono no aware’, translates as 'the pathos of things', and the record seems to have a desire to formulate a discourse around ambient's potential future. Often, mono no aware achieves something transcendental with music that is hypnotic, diverse and tenebrous but clearly forged by the sensitive hands of humans. Its progression too, from one singular composition to another, runs like the uninterrupted pouring of water from a tap. Kareem Lofty's delicate opener Fr3sh segues almost meditatively into the celestial droning of Malibu's Held. Mya Gomez's comparatively boisterous intro to justforu succeeds Flora YinWong's dissonant instrumental measures in Lugere. M.E.S.H.'s softly evolving industrial polyrhythms confidently knot into Oli XL's scarily zonal Heretic. And so on. In its entirety mono no aware is a Spirograph of uniquely experimental artists merging together to create something even more beguiling. A truly arresting listen.
! Thomas Frost
! Katie Hawthorne
! Joe Goggins
! Duncan Harrison
! Tom Watson
FREQUENCY VS ATKINS Mind Merge Out-er
GUIDED BY VOICES August by Cake Rockathon
DR AKE More Life OVO Sound Young Money Entertainment / Cash Money Records
VARIOUS ARTISTS mono no aware PAN
SARAH SARAH WALK WALK
MARCUS KING BAND
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MO KENNEY KENNEY MO
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TICKETS AVAIL ABLE FROM TICKETMASTER.CO.UK & VENUE BOX OFFICES
With SleaterKinney’s revered third album reaching its 20th anniversary, Katie Harkin recalls her journey from teenage fandom to joining the band onstage
Original Release Date: 8 April, 1997 I was busy finishing my last year of primary school when Dig Me Out originally came out. It's unlikely I would've heard it back then – even if it had been playing on Yorkshire’s radio stations. In fact, I didn't discover Sleater Kinney's music until I was a teenager, among the clacking CD racks of a Leeds city centre record shop. I would dig through the crates after school, eagerly searching for sounds that lit up my brain more than the readily available, jockish nu metal and the grim post-Britpop material which would soon be dubbed 'landfill indie'. One day I picked up a flyer with the name Sleater-Kinney on it. But it wasn't for a show of theirs. Rather, their name was nestled among a list of bands aimed at attracting girls like myself to join
a gig-going group organised by a local feminist collective. Teenage social anxiety meant that I only went to one show with that group, but I pored exhaustively through the list they distributed. Each record by the bands cited on the flyer was a new release to me, causing reverberation that crested as it reached me, despite the distance of space and time. Before the advent of shuffling playlists, these kind of tip-offs enabled felt like an exciting network of whispers guiding me to bolstering volume. This is what led me to Dig Me Out. Everything the album contained appealed to me. The songs felt truly punk, but never formulaic. Instead, they were alchemic – cool and hard one moment, hot and molten the next. Even the essential knowledge that this was a group of three women – Janet Weiss, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein – appealed to me in my isolation as the only girl at my school who played in a band.
Dig Me Out continued to lead me at 22, when I got the opportunity to turn over my favourite records in search of producers who I hoped might work on my music. The name of John Goodmanson, Dig Me Out’s producer, was at the top of my list. I admired his rare ability to combine a live feeling with the creative possibilities of studio recording, something that grabbed me from the first time I heard Sleater Kinney’s song Heart Factory, even if I couldn't articulate it until later. John produced my old band Sky Larkin’s debut album The Golden Spike, which was released in 2009. And five years later, I had the best shock of my life when SleaterKinney asked me to join their live band as an extra multiinstrumentalist. Over time I have come to believe that, if you don't see yourself reflected in the world, you can use popular culture as a kind of scaffolding. It's especially true when you're younger, while your identity is
still emerging, and SleaterKinney were part of the scaffold that I built for myself as a teen. Now, a decade after first discovering them, I wondered about pulling the scaffold apart to try and look at it objectively, and to attempt to do justice to the opportunity I had been afforded. I wondered – if I started to dismantle the scaffolding, would the house would stay standing? After the first show I played with Sleater-Kinney, I was genuinely speechless. I didn't play every song, and the experience of switching between being in the show and watching the show felt like jumping on and off a moving freight train. Playing with a band I admired so much has been a unique challenge, one that I've come to treasure. It’s felt like my fandom has been given 3D glasses and presented in glorious technicolour. Whilst on tour with the band, I didn't play on the songs they chose to play from Dig Me Out, so I got to
watch them being performed repeatedly, and to bear witness to each crowd's reaction to them. It has been wild and often moving to see this music re-ignited up-close with the addition of 20 years of band chemistry. The first notes of each song still light the fuse for me every time. Katie Harkin is currently recording new solo material, and she will appear on the forthcoming Waxahatchee record
SLE ATER-KINNEY Dig Me Out Kill Rock Stars
Film 07 04 08
GET OUT dir. Jordan Peele Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener During the running time of Jordan Peele’s debut feature length, we’re taken on a journey of African American identity today, which is presented as a surreal exposé on white quasi-liberalism in a post-Obama US. Get Out doesn't pull any punches but it doesn’t unleash a full flurry of blows either. In part, it's a little reminiscent of the paranoia of Straw Dogs (1971), and similar to the razor sharp social commentary of 1978’s I Spit on Your Grave. But here, Daniel Kaluuya takes on the plight of the African American experience as Chris. Upon meeting his white girlfriend's parents, Get Out immediately transpires into an unrelenting nightmare where, like the aforementioned films, our hero exacts bloody revenge against his oppressors. Although the final payoff could of done with a bit more blood and gore (we were slightly disappointed that this didn’t warrant an 18+ certificate), what it lacked in that department it made up for in brains. A bleak, freakishly original and highly entertaining film. ! Tim Oxley Smith
Bill Condon’s remake of Disney classic Beauty and the Beast transports the viewer into the heart of 90s childhood nostalgia. Musical numbers like the Be Our Guest sequence revive the infamous dancing-crockery surrealism of the original, but with one crucial twist: the film is shot in live-action. Stylistically, the film is unapologetically Disney. The characters, somewhat unsurprisingly, follow a rather linear imprint, and are taken directly from the 1991 animated rendition. In the opening scene, Belle (played by Emma Watson), a longing bookworm in a village of idiots, passes through her brightly coloured hometown, singing the film’s first musical number and bringing the much-loved fairytale to life. Strong-minded and independent, Watson’s rendition of the princess, though loyal to the brand’s original portrayal, gives the character a modern makeover in her yearning for an intellectually richer life beyond the town confines. The Beast, played by Dan Stevens, is presented as the antithesis to the simple foolery of the above, his bulky physique and Elephant Man-style reticence giving an existential weight to his character. The villain, Gaston, played by Luke Evans, is an archetypal narcissistic bigot, whose big-chinned and handsome looks follow the modern Disney paragon of the ‘macho yet malicious’ bad-guy. Of course, there are elements of the film that feel too forced – Gaston’s sidekick LeFou's (Josh Gad) reimagined ‘overtly gay’ performance seems rather obvious, if not embarrassingly backward – and there are points where the viewer can’t help but feel like Condon could have benefitted from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 erotic masterpiece. But as with all cinematic fairytales, the devil – or the beast – is in the details. ! Gunseli Yalcinkaya
CERTAIN WOMEN dir. Kelly Reichardt Starring: Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams
ELLE dir. Paul Verhoeven Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laura Lafitte, Anne Cosigny Paul Verhoeven’s Elle has been plugged as a revenge thriller but those expecting either revenge or thrills may be disappointed. Under the guise of a simple whodunit, the film is a complex engagement with human desire and what we are capable of. Opening with a rape scene in protagonist Michele Leblanc’s bourgeois home, Verhoeven sets the tone from the start. As her attacker flees, Michele (played masterfully by Isabelle Huppert) gets to her feet, sweeps up the broken vase, bins her dress and runs a bath. Later, she orders sushi. After matter-of-factly informing her ex-partner and closest friends, she chooses not to report the crime. It soon becomes apparent why. With her father in prison for an infamous mass murder, something she unwittingly became involved in as a ten-year-old, she’s untrusting of the police and accustomed to trauma. Life goes on. That is, until Michele is contacted by her rapist and determines to find out who he is. Aside from this, Michele has her own moral ambiguity brought into play. Head of a major video game production company, she’s an egocentric force both admired and detested, casting judgement on her son’s narcissistic girlfriend while simultaneously sleeping with her best friend’s husband and seducing her married neighbour. Over the course of the film, she journeys through a spectrum of emotions from fear, weakness and masochism to resentment, manipulation and the will to humiliate – all while maintaining a steely composure. The whodunit element of this film is nothing more than backbone, even the most tenderfoot of police officers could guess who the assailant is within five minutes. Verhoeven instead focuses his attentions on the differences, if any, between choice and urge, innocent and guilty. As Michele says, “Shame isn't a strong enough emotion to stop us doing anything at all.” Towards the end, the question ‘Why?’ is left lingering in the air. We’re rarely any wiser, but two hundred or so thousand years on, it’s still fascinating trying to work it out.
In our technologically-saturated age, one useful way of determining whether a film is worth watching is by counting how often you have the urge to check your phone during it. And although I managed to resist, I wanted to check my phone all the way through Certain Women. This is a seriously boring film. I get what director Kelly Reichardt is trying to do – paint a portrait of three ordinary, overlapping female lives. Laura Dern is a harried lawyer dealing with a nightmare client (the ever-loveable Jared Harris) who refuses to take her advice seriously. Michelle Williams is the high-achieving wife trying to build a weekend country retreat in the face of mutinous rejection from her own family. And Kristen Stewart is a night school teacher forced into a four-hour commute to class who makes an unexpected friend. It's beautifully acted, although as usual I find Stewart's standard teenage sad girl routine affected and irritating. But the problem is with the plot. Reichardt tries to present a naturalistic view of rural and suburban American life. But it's self-indulgent, and dull. Characters lie on beds, staring at ceiling lights with mouths agape. Fans move in empty rooms. In one scene, Williams loads stones into the back of a pick-up truck, and even the way she does it – one stone at a time, when she could carry two – is tedious. Ultimately, Certain Women is as interminable as the fourhour drive that Stewart's character spends most of her on-air time griping about. ! Sirin Kale
! Amelia Phillips
BE AUT Y AND THE BE AST dir. Bill Condon Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens
NVOY / WARREN XLNCE
PHIL TAGGART / BLACK SAINT
THE AGE OF L.U.N.A / TAYÁ
ANDERSON .PAAK (PA SET) & THE FREE NATIONALS (DJ SET) FRI.28.APRIL
FONO / JYNX HOUSE / HIP HOP / FUTURE BEATS #GETBURST EVERY FRIDAY Tickets: KOKO.UK.COM • 0844 847 2258 • Connect:
Products DO WHAT YOU WANT dowhatyouwant.bigcartel.com £7
DIE WELT IST EINE PUDEL monkeytownrecords.com €29.90
In the years since The Great British Bake Off Ruby Tandoh has given us so much more than unpretentious cooking. Her article uncovering the sinister subtleties of ‘clean eating’ inspired us to put down the courgettie, and her latest project tackles another pressing issue – mental health. Tandoh and her partner, musician Leah Pritchard, have curated Do What You Want, a zine about the many faces of mental health, with all profits going to charities. An essential purchase.
This month’s cover star might be the DJ commonly associated with Hamburg’s rowdy – and currently fire-damaged – Golden Pudel club, but Alex Solman is the artist most closely linked to its visual identity. Over the years and across countless flyers, Solman’s distinctive illustration style has depicted the likes of Ben UFO and Sleaford Mods through charming, playful minimalism. From the club to the coffee table, Die Welt ist Eine Pudel features a collection of 168 illustrations created between 2004 and 2016, binding one of club culture’s most singular and iconic visual languages.
KIND OF BLUE T-SHIRT printedgoods.net £25.00 Bristol design studio Printed Goods continue their aesthetically pleasing jazz-based t-shirt series with this graceful homage to Miles Davis’ seminal record. If you don’t buy the tee, use this blurb as an excuse to listen to the album. Delightful.
TRUTH DR AWSTRING BAG Clairebarrow.com £38 Barrow’s illustrative signature style of handpainted leather jackets echo the DIY ethos of the punk movement, and it’s certainly earned the young designer a strong cult following. While drawstring and tote bags are often disposable items, this is definitely one that you can keep and cherish, with a designer’s name that you can be proud of representing.
VESTOJ ISSUE SEVEN: ON MASCULINITIES Vestoj.com £16 While the bros will tell you there’s only one way to be a man, Vestoj will tell you otherwise. Focused on the intersection of masculinities and fashion, Vestoj's latest issue celebrates male complexities, practices and contradictions. EMO DIARY Marianneeloise.bigcartel.com £4
Old people might think we’re a generation rooted in nostalgia and they may be right. If you’re still feeling wistful over the heydays of emo – with its inconvenient side fringes, buckets of tears and checkered Vans – and you feel like screaming along to My Chemical Romance’s I’m Not Okay as Article 50 is triggered, then this is the zine for you.
02.04.17 NÃ©rija Live, theon Cross trio Live, tom skinner
the Pickle Factory
06.04.17 Chrome sparks Live, special Guest tBa
the Pickle Factory
19.04.17 Bastien Keb, eastern Barbers
the Pickle Factory
20.04.17 Daedelus Live, special Guest tBa
the Pickle Factory
21.04.17 Clap! Clap! Live, special Guest tBa
25.04.17 Plaitum Live, special Guest tBa
the Pickle Factory
27.04.17 Guy andrews Live, Untold (DJ), Very special Guest tBa the Pickle Factory 27.04.17 HVOB and Winston Marshall Live, David Douglas
30.04.17 soul:Ution, special Guest tBa
the Pickle Factory
the Pickle Factory
throwing snow Live, special Guest tBa
16.05.17 Off Bloom, special Guest tBa
the Pickle Factory
ekali Live, special Guest tBa
25.05.17 Death in Vegas, special Guest tBa
03.08.17 aDULt., special Guest tBa
ROSE ELINOR DOUGALL
SWIMMING TAPES THE WAITING ROOM
THE GIPSY KINGS ROYAL ALBERT HALL
PWR BTTM THE GARAGE
TO KILL A KING THE BORDERLINE
TO KILL A KING OSLO
GOTHIC TROPIC THE VICTORIA
DAY WAVE THE GARAGE
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX KOKO
HAYSEED DIXIE THE GARAGE
JULIE BYRNE HOXTON HALL
LUKE SITAL-SINGH UNION CHAPEL
PAREKH & SINGH
MON.01.MAY.17 TUE.02.MAY.17 WED.03.MAY.17 THU.22.JUN.17
ED SHEERAN THE O2
THE AMERICANS SEBRIGHT ARMS
POKEY LAFARGE THE COURTYARD
JOAN SHELLEY LEXINGTON
JOHN MORELAND / NOAH GUNDERSEN THE VIEW
SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART OSLO
FAT FREDDYâ€™S DROP ALEXANDRA PALACE
ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
PIERCE BROTHERS THE GARAGE
THE WEDDING PRESENT ROUNDHOUSE
CHERRY GLAZERR THE GARAGE
ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH
SPEECH DEBELLE OSLO
THE GROWLERS THE CORONET
THE CORONAS THE GARAGE
ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
THURSTON MOORE GROUP SCALA
TASH SULTANA SCALA
ST. PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES TROXY
BRIAN WILSON EVENTIM APOLLO
O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX ROUNDHOUSE
ALTTICKETS.COM | FB.COM/ALTTICKETS | @ ALTTICKETS
04—17 MOTH Club Valette St London E8
Saturday 15 April
The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com
mothclub.co.uk Sunday 16 April Thursday 6 April
IGUANA DEATH CULT
Thursday 13 April MATTEO VALICELLI (THE SOFT MOON)
Wednesday 19 April Friday 7 April
ROSS FROM FRIENDS
Friday 14 April
Friday 21 April Tuesday 11 April
KAREN ELSON Thursday 4 May Wednesday 12 April
DRUGDEALER Wednesday 19 April
PINS Friday 21 April
CLAP CLAP Thursday 27 April
BARRY ADAMSON Friday 5 May
KRAUFTWERK (HARALD GROSSKOPF + EBERHARD KRANEMANN)
TRUDY AND THE ROMANCE
The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com Wednesday 12 April
JOHN JOSEPH BRILL Thursday 13 April
SWIMMING TAPES Friday 14 April BLACK MERLIN + GATTO BRITTO Sunday 16 April
INGA MAUER Friday 12 May
Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Thursday 13 April
THE AWAY DAYS Friday 14 April
Thursday 20 April
CINDY LEE Sunday 30 April
DOLLKRAUT Wednesday 10 May
MEADOWLARK Friday 12 May
Saturday 15 April
OUR GIRL Sunday 16 April
JOEY FOURR Friday 28 April
M!R!M Sunday 30 April
SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN Monday 1 May
CHAINS OF FLOWERS
The Montague Arms 289 Queen’s Rd, London SE14 2PA montaguearms.co.uk Friday 7 April
SKINNY GIRL DIET Tuesday 18 April
TONY NJOKU Saturday 29 April
PALM HONEY Friday 5 May
GUERILLA POUBELLE Wednesday 10 May
WED 17TH MAY
WED T D OU 17TH MAY WED 24TH MAY
Dune Rats MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
THU 25TH MAY
Ryley Walker MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
TUE 30TH MAY WED OUT 31ST OLD S MAY
O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON
TUE 29TH AUG
Jens Mac DeMarco Lekman + THE COURTNEYS (30TH) + KIRIN J CALLINAN (31ST) MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET A BIRD ON THE WIRE PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH ATC LIVE
MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
FRI 1ST SEP
TUE 17TH OCT
Ty Segall MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
Hurray For The Riff Raff MORE INFO AND TICKETS BIRDONTHEWIRE.NET
The Derbyshire Hills 7th - 8th July 2017
Tickets on Fatsoma.com £37.50/£47.40/£57.50
ANGUS JEFFORD / JAMIE TRENCH / OLI FURNESS / RICH REASON / MARK XTC JACK MICHALSKI / ANTON FITZ / FRANCIS ADAMS / MARSLAND /CLASS ENEMY
FLUX GROOVE / ETHAN MCNAMARA / JJ MOWBRAY / NIKOLAI / EDWARD K
ADAM BLEZARD / BLINKY / CARL BOON / CHELLIS / DR & MONDE / JAMES HILL JAMIE MANNION / JACK BURLING / JORDON DAY / JOSEPH EDMUND / TEE-O SCIRAN/ SHAW JAMES/ STEFAN UNIEWSKI / SWAIN / THE SOURCE/ TURBILL / RAR KARLOS / L.E.G. / LEVI BIBBY / MR. ANTHONY / NDOH / ONVYA / RYAN INGLEBY Manchester’s underground sound in the glorious Derbyshire Hills. Two days & nights of music, madness and gorgeous views!
Tickets available at Fatsoma.com ~ £37.50/£47.40/£57.50
april 2017 ~ Live ~ earthlings /
Peggy’s Big Sunday /
Ryan Lawrie /
Sounds Familiar Music Quiz /
Hardy Caprio /
Dermot Kennedy [sold out] / 13th
Jazzie B + DJ Format /
Xenia Rubinos /
Urban Cone + Ängie
Club CloseUp /
CoMInG uP In MaY 6th
Jojo Mayer/Nerve /
Model Aeroplanes /
Sigrid [sold out] /
~ LATe ~ every Friday
Night Call bushwiCk boogie suNshiNe soul
Two rooms of hip hop, R & B,
90s hip hop and r’n’b knees
A night of Dancehall,
house, garage and bashment
The Prince Tribute
up for all you cool kids
across the board
Socca & Bashment
Dates, times & tickets: w w w.hoxtonsquarebar.com
“Astonishing” the telegraph HHHHH
A sensational series of live global music and fresh festival favourites
bac.org.uk/borderless17 Box Office 020 7223 2223 Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN
Colston hall presents
Under the skin by arrangement with StUDiOCanaL
KATE SIMKO & LONDON ELECTRONIC ORCHESTRA JODIE ABACUS | SAM LEE SOWETO KINCH | trim melt YOURSELF DOWN FATIMA & EGLO live BAND SOOTHSAYERS EP LAUNCH WITH SPECIAL GUESTS
sCre e n i n g wi th l i v e o r Ch e s tr A london sinfonietta performs the BAFtA-nominated original score live conducted by composer Mica levi
Fri 14 Apr, Colston Hall 7.30pm, Cert 15, £19.50 incl. bf www.colstonhall.org 0117 203 4040
6 — 7 — 8 JULY
LISBON — PORTUGAL
NOS ALIVE FESTIVAL
THE BEST IN NEW LIVE MUSIC SOURCE
APRIL 06 THE FORGE LONDON
APR 12 LOCK TAVERN CAMDEN
GANG OF YOUTHS
MAY 03 BUSSEY BUILDING PECKHAM LONDON
6 JULY THE WEEKND • THE XX
OD SH HA DIT INE W UNT Y RO RS OO T A DS HE D
PHOENIX • ROYAL BLOOD • ALT-J BONOBO (LIVE) • RYAN ADAMS • GLASS ANIMALS RHYE • BLOSSOMS
MAY 09 THE SERVANT JAZZ QUATERS LONDON
MAY 09 OSLO LONDON
MAY 16 KOKO LONDON
T 7 JULY U O D SOL FOO FIGHTERS
THE KILLS • THE CULT • COURTEENERS LOCAL NATIVES • TIAGO BETTENCOURT WARPAINT • SAVAGES PAROV STELAR • WILD BEASTS
T 8 JULY U O SOLD DEPECHE MODE
IMAGINE DRAGONS • FLEET FOXES • KODALINE CAGE THE ELEPHANT • SPOON • PEACHES BENJAMIN BOOKER • FLOATING POINTS (SOLO LIVE) + many more
get your tickets at nosalive.com BAD POP
MAY 18 SEBRIGHT ARMS LONDON
MAY 22 VILLAGE UNDERGROUND LONDON
GET THE BEST OF LISBON THIS SUMMER WITH BEACHES, SURFING, PORTUGUESE FOOD & CULTURE PLUS THE BEST MUSIC AND NIGHTLIFE ALL IN ONE DAY LIVENATION.CO.UK/SOURCE
Crossword Across 2. If you’re in this position, refrain from commenting on the driver’s choices 5. Beats by who? 6. On Manchester derby day, these people take on United 7. Fairly good 2007 film about Ian Curtis 9. Ideally, you want to move like this but sting like a bee Down 1. Praise the almighty 3. Andre 3000 says this 14 times before addressing the ladies and getting them to shake it 4. If you can’t think of a name for your Word document, it will remain… 7. An industrial city just south of Los Angeles 8. The likes of Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith and Martha Stewart have produced entire books of these
Answers Across: Backseat, Dre, City, Control, Butterfly Down: Hallelujah, Alright, Untitled, Compton, Recipe
Self Portrait Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon
George Clinton or Tilda Swinton? Who Said It: Dr. Funkenstein, or the next potential Dr. Who? 1) “It's a real comfort zone for me to feel alien” 2) “I'm from the same planet as David Bowie” 3) “You don't know David Bowie if you ask whether he had funk” 4) “The whole concept of religion is kind of alien” 5) “Soul is a joint rolled in toilet paper” 6) “In my house, a hot dog is a dog that's really hot”
Answers: 1) Swinton 2) Swinton 3) Clinton 4) Clinton 5) Clinton 6) Swinton
This month's artist takeover was created by @moif_collage, who was responding to the word 'Electricity' - markmurph.co.uk
If you're interested in contributing to this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Turning Points: Nelly Furtado
Words: Nathan Ma
“For me to be happy, I had to become the same girl that I was before I made my first album”
2000: Breaking Through with Woah, Nelly! I kind of knew while I was recording the vocal for I’m Like a Bird in the studio that it was a magical moment. I think we always know, somewhere, deep, deep, deep down. You get a feeling sometimes when you’re making music that time kind of stops for a little bit. I think that has something to do with the collective conscious, and the thing that binds us all as human beings—empathic human beings. 2002: The Aftermath of the Grammy Awards Winning the Grammy [for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance] that year, I was sitting with my mother and it was very surreal and kind of magical – and very
storybook. It felt like I was a princess, which was very cute because I was quite young. I was only 23. I kind of wondered what it all meant. It’s a lot to have a huge dream come true at such a young age because, it sounds silly, but you wonder, “What do I do now?” “What’s next?” The essence of being human is that we’re always aspiring for more and we never feel complete. So, for me, I did a little bit of questioning everything. I think I’m always in search of new goals. The reason why I did a Spanish album in 2009 was because I wanted to know what it would be like to do all my interviews in Spanish; the reason I made Loose with Timbaland was because I wanted to know what it would feel like to do choreography on stage – it was fun! The reason I made this new album was because I wanted to know what it would feel like to work with an alternative producer, a cool guy [St. Vincent and Explosions in the Sky producer John Congleton], to make songs that were a little bit more, perhaps, poetic. 2006: Releasing the Loose album and the International Breakthrough It was a wild ride. My inspiration for Loose was Madonna’s album Ray of
Light. I really wanted to show myself that I could create something more broad because my first two albums sounded good in the club, but they never sounded good in a larger setting to me. They sounded very particular and very musically intricate. I had an open mind by the time I started writing with Timbaland. I don’t know what it was, but a personal liberty was exploding within me. This album came from this extremely open-minded and free kind of place. 2016: Collaborating with Dev Hynes on Hadron Collider Dev and I became friends because we were on tour together on this project that David Byrne did [Contemporary Color]. Him and I really hit it off, and Hadron Collider was created in our very first studio session in Toronto. We were actually inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Hadron Collider is inspired by the soundtrack, and by a few moments in the movie: When the little boy sings the gospel song on the balcony, and when you hear the Desiree song when they’re looking at each other through the aquarium glass. 2017: Release of The Ride My entire career has been these bursts of energy and then these almost semi-
depressive lulls where I’m just rebuilding myself internally. But that’s the cycle for me. This album is no exception. I went on some weird creative cocoon and I also tried a lot of cool things. I started going back to university and I studied playwriting, and I tried all these new hobbies that I’d never done before like sewing and pottery. I was working at my friend’s vinyl shop – I was really trying to get back in touch with myself. For me to be happy, I had to – I wanted to – become the same girl that I was before I made my first album. I wanted to really simplify. I was writing songs for my first album while I was cleaning toilets at the Robin Hood Hotel so I started to clean my toilets again in my apartment. I started writing songs while cleaning. This is something I did as a 17-year-old girl, and I think we always stay who we are. The Ride is out now via Nelstar
Nelly Furtado’s career has been a series of about-faces. Breaking on the scene with Woah, Nelly! – a snapshot of turnof-the-century zeitgeist –she's shifted sharply with each album since. With her finger comfortably planted on the pulse, over the years she's worked with hitmakers like Timbaland, Dev Hynes, and Columbian megastar Juanes. Having just released her first album in five years, we caught up with her over the phone to discuss those definitive moments in her exciting discography.
S O U LWA X NEW ALBUM OUT NOW
Oslo, Oslo, Oslo, Oslo, Oslo,
Nor way Nor way Nor way Nor way Nor way
Øyafestivalen · 8 -12 August 2017 · Oslo, Nor way
MØ MØ MØ MØ
MAC DEMARCO (CA) · MADLIB
DJ set (US)
Full lineup & info Oyafestivalen.no Get your tickets at Ticketmaster.no (UK)
Young Young Young Young
Thug Thug Thug Thug
TESTAMENT (US) · VINCE STAPLES (US)
w w w. s o u l w a x . c o m (US)
w/ The Oslo Philharmonic
Jenny Jenny Jenny Jenny
tic ke ts Hval to da y! Hval Hval Hval
NILS BECH (NO) · ANGEL OLSEN (US)
… plus CHRONIX X (JM) · DANN Y BROWN (US) YOUNG M. A (US) · CAR SE AT HE ADREST (US) BADBADNOTGOOD (CA) · KELLY LEE OWENS (UK) SHAME (UK) · MENTAL OVERDRIVE (NO) · COSIMA (UK) K AITLYN AURELIA SMITH (US) · JULIA JACKLIN (AU) SIGRID (NO) · THEE OH SEES (US) and many more!
Cashmere Cashmere Cashmere Cashmere
Cat Cat Cat Cat (NO)
THE HELL ACOPTERS (SE) · SAMPHA (UK)
20 Questions: Thundercat
“A piece of advice I’d give to myself ten years ago? I’d say ‘Chill out man, it gets worse” Words: Davy Reed Photography: B+
Have you ever had a nickname? Turbo Steve.
What’s the last book you read? Marvel’s Civil War II.
What is the first album you truly fell in love with? Spiceworld by Spice Girls.
Would you recommend it? Nah, Marvel’s still trying to find their way man. They’ve got a lot of things to figure out and a lot of these stories are terrible. But they’re working on it, I’ll give you that.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The only job I’ve ever had was working in a comic store, and that was probably the best job ever.
What’s your favourite computer game? Maybe Sonic 2 with the Sonic and Knuckles Cartridge.
Do you have any regrettable tattoos? I have tons of tattoos. There are some in places that are hard to get tattooed, and they hurt like hell getting them done, but I don’t think I regret any of them.
Who’s your favourite Wu-Tang Clan member? ODB.
Who’s the most famous person you've ever met? Pharrell.
Favourite member of Slipknot? Joey Jordison.
What's your least favourite question that journalists ask you? “How big is your dick – in centimeters?”
If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? Jaco Pastorius’s self-titled album. Have you ever taken LSD? Yeah. Did you enjoy it? Hell yeah.
What was the name of your first ever band? The first band I ever played in, I guess, was Young Jazz Giants, and it consisted of me, my brother Ronald, Kamasi Washington and Cameron Graves.
What’s your signature recipe? Ramen.
Best pet you’ve ever had? Charm, that was the best animal that I ever had. She was a cat and she was very smart.
What would you want written on your tombstone? ‘Here Lies A Man.’
Is there a piece of advice you wish you’d give to yourself ten years ago? I’d say ‘Chill out man, it gets worse’.
Drunk is out now via Brainfeeder What’s your favourite drunken snack? Lasagne.
Thundercat has funny friends. As well as messing around with Flying Lotus, he’s been seen to trade fucked-up tweets with Zack Fox, get congratulated by Dave Chappelle onstage and have a “bass off” with a Hannibal Buress robot on the Eric Andre show while being hugged by a guy who was naked from the waist down. He’s also an incredibly gifted musician with many impressive accolades and a new album out, but for this interview we mostly brushed past all that stuff to talk about things like food and LSD.
Illustration: Ed Chambers
Perspective: Tales from the Comment Section Online forums have long been platforms for dance music fans to express their enthusiasm. But with these spaces becoming defined by an aggressive tone, Sirin Kale wonders if there’s an unhelpful macho element to the online scrutiny. On International Women’s Day last month, B.Traits shut down a guy who’d left a patronising comment on her Facebook page. “How about working on gain structure!” he’d written. “The leds are maxed out on the mixer.” “No they’re actually not,” B.Traits responded. “No reds there mate. Try hating somewhere else.” A few months earlier, Nina Kraviz had hit back at critics of her Melbourne DJ set who’d accused her of not playing enough techno. “People wanted techno and I offered none in their opinion," Kraviz wrote. “In fact all I played was pretty much techno at least in my own definition but of a broader spectrum…What can I say.” The fact that Kraviz and B.Traits—both DJs and producers of international stature, who happen to be female—are having to put up with this bullshit, points to two major problems within dance music. Firstly: dance music has become a service industry, and pissed-off fans will send their steaks back to the DJ if they think it’s overcooked. But most importantly, that social media is ruining the party for everyone. Before the Internet and social media, DJs were the gatekeepers and curators
alike of dance music. Only the true of heart, with enough time to scout for obscure records and pockets deep enough to buy them, fancied themselves able to match DJs with their technical and musical knowledge. Nowadays? Every person with Traktor S4 and a Soundcloud premium account knows how to do it better. And unfortunately, most of those people are male – electronic music has always been a male-dominated space, and this imbalance extends online. Chin-stroking keyboard warriors are destroying dance music. It's getting tedious. At one end of the spectrum: In October 2016, Boiler Room announced they’d be shutting down their chatroom after Glaswegian artist Nightwave received relentless misogynistic abuse. “She gotta be giving someone some good head,” wrote one dickhead. “I hope she’s better in a bed,” commented another. This sort of misogyny is nothing new – watch any Boiler Room video on YouTube and you’ll find bros dissecting the physical appearance of any girls who dare to stray in shot. This is obvious misogyny – but subtler strains still waft through the online dance music scene. As a female dance music journalist, I’m exposed to trolling every time I write. Today's makeshift forums and music sharing groups like the New Music Group will mostly consist of male admins and be full of male commenters. The vibe isn’t bad – I’ve never seen a
woman being called out – but it does reinforce a particular type of scrutiny that’s not necessarily good for the scene. Against this, women create their own supportive spaces. Electronic music professionals Sister or collectives like Siren use social media to build networks between female and nonbinary DJs. Occasionally a tone-deaf bro will trespass into these spaces: there was recent furore when a booking agent solicited for “attractive female DJs” in Sister’s Facebook group. In many ways, this opposition reflects a wider paradigm of what’s going on in dance music. The mainstream evolves towards a male-dominated model where dance music fans are consumers, quick to critique artists like Kraviz who don’t cater to a specific taste they’ve refined in Facebook groups and forums online. And women and LGBTQ and nonbinary people create online support networks to correct this imbalance. Arguably, this just reinforces division – a divided dancefloor, when we should be moving as one. And as fewer and fewer of us can afford go out, dance music fans get their kicks online. Sometimes it’s innocuous, dweeby humor. For example, there’s this recent Change.org petition to “Ban Tech House From Ever Existing.” Obviously, the petition spread like wildfire courtesy – tech house is an easy target – but its motivations weren't as simple as that. Turns out, the petition was only created to see if it would
“get a reaction from predictable media outlets”, according to its creator. Other times, online humor reinforces a laddish worldview that makes clubbing teeth-grindingly dull for the rest of us. As underground dance music achieves mainstream appeal, Facebook groups like International Rave Squad or muchbeloved Humans of the Sesh riff on the popularity of “the sesh.” Whereas in the late 90s lads everywhere expressed their masculinity through downing pints and necking girls on small-town dance floors, now these same men embrace dance music culture in online groups of their peers. Cue endless memes of passed-out or gurning guys on dancefloor or ironic tweets about Buckfast and Amber Leaf. Even when online groups are relatively good-natured, they’re still just reinforcing a vision of the dance music community that exists in cyber-space, not in the real world (and I speak as someone who has shared a techno meme in the past.) Does that make me sound like a humourless dick? Maybe. But, as always: Let’s turn off our computers, delete Shazam, step out of our obsessive social media bubbles and onto a dance floor. Follow Sirin Kale on Twitter: @thedalstonyears
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