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WOOZE BAS JAN ESTELLA ADEYERI LEWSBERG THE SPOOK SCHOOL
EIGER STUDIOS. REHEARSAL SPACE RECORDING STUDIO —— VENUE
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I’ve been preoccupied about how estranged youth culture, or more specifically student culture, is from what the youths are calling ‘real life’. There’s a panic in the polluted, unsettlingly warm (for February) air about the young people, the activists, uniting to form one group identity in order to protest for equality. It’s as if group identity is a new and dangerous phenomenon, as if these new campaigners will turn into savage dictators. There has been, and I’m sure always will be, group identity. It’s the great belly of cultures. You’ve got your punks, your mods, your ravers, your slackers, your skinheads, all subcultures living under a group identity. If you hadn’t already guessed, this issue’s theme is culture. The internet made a huge impact on the music industry, redefining how we put out music and, subsequently, how we listen to music. Spotify playlists arcade-claw indie hits that can kickstart a band, yet simultaneously can drown artists in a sea of internet releases. And while the resurgence of vinyl has undeniably kept record shop shoppers and owners alike happy, the accessibility and immediacy of the internet no doubt affects how much we fork out on music. And, to be honest, it has probably turned us into lazy listeners. Only half-invested in Daily Mixes, which is ringing through tinny speakers, too impatient to let an album grow on you after four or five listens. We want to be immediately satisfied – that’s what unlimited 4G does to a person. If you feel particularly riled up by this, our first article, ‘Treble Culture’ will sort you right out. It might also be relevant to ask whether the tidal wave that is the internet has had any impact on gig culture. I like to think not. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. As much as pork-pink Daily Mail journalists like to slate the ‘safe space’, it’s important to recognise the progression of venues promoting a grope-free live experience. Also, watching a band live is bloody ace. Ears ringing and walking home with a handful of merch... Can’t get better than that. Cover feature photographed by Peter Butterworth for Delinquent Magazine. Enjoy issue 6, Jean Pavitt Founding editor
firstname.lastname@example.org © 2019
PEEPING DREXELS THURS 7 FEB BERMONDSEY SOCIAL CLUB PUBLIC PRACTICE THURS 7 FEB SHACKLEWELL ARMS TAYLOR SKYE MON 11 FEB SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS ODETTA HARTMAN TUES 12 FEB PAPER DRESS VINTAGE BESS ATWELL FRI 15 FEB ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH ANGELO DE AUGUSTINE MON 18 FEB OSLO HACKNEY KATHRYN JOSEPH TUES 19 FEB UNION CHAPEL YANN TIERSEN TUES 19 & WED 20 FEB ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL NATALIE EVANS WED 20 FEB SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS JUNGLE OUT THURS 21 FEB SOLD ALEXANDRA PALACE LALA LALA THURS 21 FEB SEBRIGHT ARMS THE WAVE PICTURES THURS 21 FEB KOKO SHYGIRL & COUCOU CHLOE THURS 21 FEB CORSICA STUDIOS
PALACE TUES 26 FEBOLD OUT S VILLAGE UNDERGROUND MOTHERS WED 27 FEB OSLO HACKNEY LEIF ERIKSON THURS 28 FEB TUFNELL PARK DOME GENTLY TENDER WED 6 MAR OSLO HACKNEY GIANT PARTY WED 13 MAR OSLO HACKNEY PLASTIC MERMAIDS WED 13 MAR THE LEXINGTON JERSKIN FENDRIX THURS 14 MAR WHIRLED CINEMA ROSIE LOWE THURS 14 MAR OMEARA
GHUM THURS 4 APR BERMONDSEY SOCIAL CLUB HANNAH PEEL & WILL BURNS THURS 4 APR CECIL SHARP HOUSE KELLY MORAN FRI 5 APR PURCELL ROOM STEVE GUNN FRI 5 APR OSLO HACKNEY ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND WED 10 APR OMEARA BC CAMPLIGHT THURS 11 APR SCALA STATS WED 17 APR BERMONDSEY SOCIAL CLUB
BEDOUINE FRI 22 MAR PURCELL ROOM
TIRZAH TUES 23, WED 24 & THURS 25 APR SCALA
EMPRESS OF TUES 26 MAR SCALA
ROZI PLAIN TUES 7 MAY OSLO HACKNEY
SHARON VAN ETTEN TUES 26 MAR ROUNDHOUSE
GUIDED BY VOICES WED 5 & THURSO6UTJUNE SOLD VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
BECKIE MARGARET THURS 28 MAR THE ISLINGTON
THE STROPPIES THURS 18 JUL THE LEXINGTON
KARPE TUES 2 APROLD OUT SCALA S
TREBLE CULTURE HENRY O’LOUGHLIN
BAS JAN JEAN PAVITT
CLAIMING THE SPACE IZZIE BEIRNE
18 WOOZE JAKE CROSSLAND 24
ESTELLA ADEYERI BEN SARGENT
28 REVIEWS 32 LIVE IN PICTURES SAM JOYCE 38 LEWSBERG JAKE CROSSLAND 40
HMV & I SAM DURNEEN
THE SPOOK SCHOOL JEAN PAVITT
THE RECORD SHOP SERIES: JUMBO RECORDS BEN SARGENT
TALES FROM THE BAR SIDE: NYE SHELLY GORMLESS
ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATIVE JACK O’HALLORAN
TREBLE CULTURE Content or context? Which determines how we listen to our music? With a lot of contemporary music, it seems like the latter, judging by the number of people who listen through their iPhone. This so-called ‘treble culture’ has taken buses, parks and, unfortunately, living rooms by storm over recent years. I get it. You love music so much that you want to hear it all the time, and it’s better out of a phone than not at all. I’d have to wilfully disagree. By listening to music out of a phone you’re subjecting your own and all surrounding ears to a lukewarm bootleg of a song; it’s like looking at the Mona Lisa through shutter shades. ‘But’, I hear you say, ‘if it’s not hurting anyone…’ Again, wrong. In the 60s, producers knew that most people listened to music through a tiny transistor radio speaker and tailored the music to that. So, what happens when hundreds of thousands of people listen to music through their phone? DING. The consumer spoke and the market responded. Music producers are now mixing tracks to sound good on phone speakers, or should I say speaker: a two-inch mono speaker cased in a convenient aluminium enclosure. And the enclosure does loads of cool stuff 6
as well; it even has a selfie camera! And we’ve arrived at the next problem. This mild disaster didn’t all come out of people’s love of phone speakers, it came out of convenience. The same convenience which made low-quality MP3s the number one audio file because you could fit more of them on whatever they were on. Quantity over quality. And the more you get to press skip, the more instant gratification. Next there’ll be a hotkey to jump right to the drop. Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Here’s a new one: “The problem with a lot of contemporary music is a five-minute conversation with the average listener.” Arrogant? Absolutely, but I still think I’m right. This isn’t to say there’s not loads of awesome new music coming out; there is. But the vast majority of listeners are consuming music as entertainment, not as an art form, and that’s what saturates the market with mediocrity. Well if they’re going to make it sound good on phones, then what’s the problem? To answer that we need to talk about human hearing for a moment. The maximum range of human hearing is generally regarded as being
from 20Hz (very low bass tones) through 20,000Hz (the highest treble). If a speaker were capable of producing this range of frequencies, it would presumably sound life-like. The more we take away frequencies in this range, the less true to a real sound we are getting. So, when you come along with your iPhone and its speaker half the size of a matchstick, you can probably make an informed guess as to what happens to all those frequencies. Below 1000Hz the phone speaker starts to trail off exponentially, with a complete cut-off around 300Hz. Everything below 300Hz is the meat of a song: the pulse and backbone, and all of the bass. As if being the brunt of band jokes wasn’t enough, now bassists have been cut out of the recording all together! Whilst browsing a forum thread about the frequency response of phones (of which there are a bizarre amount), a user that went by the name ‘Soopafresh’ remarked, “Quality is cool, but don’t forget... Content is King!”. And that is true, to an extent. The music should always come first, but with that should come the respect for the music. The hours and hours of work an artist has put in to craft this 3-minute piece of their soul, followed by the hours of editing, mixing, mastering and unperceivable tweaking it has undergone, all for Soopafresh to mercilessly force it through his phone speaker. Nothing about that is soopa fresh.
Before people had quality hi-fis, music was much more about context than audio content. People would focus on who was performing, how they were performing it and what the lyrics were, as opposed to the actual sound of a record, which all changed the way it was perceived. When we have the luxury of listening to the sound in high-definition, and the figure or idea behind the music is taken out of the picture, music can be appreciated in a completely different way, as Brian Eno effectively summarises: “If you leave your own personality out of the frame, you are inviting the listener to enter it instead. Take a landscape. As soon as there is a human subject, however tiny, it captures all the attention. It’s inevitable.” (1979). The same goes for listening to music out of a phone speaker. It’s all about the song, the artist, the lyrics or whatever riff makes its way through to your ear; there is no blending in with an environment. This considered, it appears we’ve regressed. In the past, music was listened to in this way out of necessity, but now there’s no excuse. So, get down to your local charity shop, spend a tenner, and treat yourself to a decent hi-fi. By putting value on your own experience, you may just surprise yourself! Words by Henry O’Loughlin Artwork by Greg Lonsdale
Whatever producers do to make a tune sound good through a phone, they can’t put sounds there that aren’t. The technology isn’t there and, to a certain extent, never will be. Because to make a speaker sound good, it needs space; it needs to be big, bigger than a phone in any case. So next time you find yourself putting on a tune at the back of the bus, question your own motives for listening to music. Would you rather hear a good quality recording on bad speakers or a bad quality one on good speakers?
With an ever-developing line-up, Bas Jan never seem to be completely settled. But this is reflected in their sound; they sit between genres, poking their toes into a Courtney Barnett-like folk, a Slits-style punk, and a Belle & Sebastian-charmed indie-pop to create an alluring, intriguing, and likeable sound. Synth-driven and charged with violin, bass and occasionally harp accompaniment, Bas Jan is a harmony-laden gem. I chat to the band’s driving force, Serafina Steer, who clarifies that the live line-up is now made up of herself, Charlie Stock and Rachel Barreda Horwood. With new members coming and going, a change in sound and process surely seems inevitable. Steer considers, “the band sound has developed according to the band members. I think we’ll be moving towards a more dance-oriented sound-world for the new material. I like the wonkiness of not having a guitar in the band. Bas Jan has always been about kind of accepting how we sound right now and kind of controlling our own means of production, to borrow a phrase. Normally I bring in half a song and everyone makes up their own parts then maybe we cut some bits or I write a bit more.” 10
BAS JAN There is an ease about a process that isn’t forced, both in the writing and the listening, even in the moodier tracks such as ‘Anglo Saxon Burial Ground’ and ‘Tide Me Over’, the opener of 2018’s album, Yes I Jan. The lyrics have certainly been soaking in the bleak reality that is the politics of today, each song like a short story about how it affects every-day life.
‘Argument’ is a percussion-guided, harmonically-erratic plea to “stop you sending me this stupid mumbo jumbo”, while ‘Walton on the Naze’ is darker reminiscence of a trip to the coastal town with a moody wandering bassline: “there’s still a gherkin in the fridge / in a paper bag, we couldn’t finish it / from the fish and chip shop”. ‘King of the Holloway Road’, on the other hand, celebrates the universal adrenaline-fuelled relief of payday – they’ve got the bells out and all: “I’ve just got paid, I’m the king again / gonna pay my friends back, mum and dad back.” Steer says of the lyrics, “The last EP Instant Nostalgia was obliquely political somehow – maybe informed by the dire political mood in the UK right now, but also Rachel and Emma [formerly of the Bas Jan line-up] are
very politically engaged. I hope [the songs] are politically charged, certainly the latest EP [Instant Nostalgia] was meant to be. And there is a kind of politics inherent in keeping an all-female band going when everyone wants to have babies and it doesn’t make money. There’s thegherkin-in-the-fridge song [‘Walton on the Naze’] I suppose – that makes me think of The Television Personalities ‘Smashing Time’ but a sadder version, crossed with PM Dawn. I like the short story comparison.” Bas Jan, alongside the album, released Yes We Jan, which is what Steer describes as “a megamix of remixes by a host of different friends and colleagues of Bas Jan. It’s a companion to the album Yes I Jan. More of a party.” Bas Jan isn’t the only project the musicians are involved with. Steer has her solo endeavours, while Horwood is part of Trash Kit and Bamboo. I ask Steer how they balance different commitments, and whether it influences the way she writes music for Bas Jan. She admits, “timewise I find it quite easy to fit things in, but mentally I have a real problem working on lots of different projects. I’ve never been very good at changing tack or doing an hour of this then an hour of that. I think most people are involved in lots of different projects these days. I guess the harp is a red-herring. It does mean I have quite a few unfinished businesses lying around. I just started studying again and that is dominating my time.” However, that doesn’t take away from the importance of collaborations in music culture. Steer explains that she feels collaborations are so much more humane. She is working on solo material at the moment for the first time in about six years and finding it really hard. Thinking about the experiences we hope to get from playing with other people in a room, as opposed to playing a live set, Steer reveals, “When I was doing more solo performing, I couldn’t get anywhere experientially during gigs. I got increasingly nervous and self-conscious. I did feel I could sometimes make a world or at least some kind of an atmosphere, but I never really experienced it tran-
scendentally myself. I wanted to. Playing with other people has maybe made it clearer to me what I am looking for. I’ve seen the light! Maybe that will translate back into this new material.”
Society. Servant’s Jazz Quarters, Dalston. Lost Map and the Isle of Eigg, Scotland. From Now On, Supernormal Festival, PRSF (don’t be put off by the application forms, they are really nice).”
A sub-category of music culture is unavoidably internet-culture. For some, it’s a gateway to getting their work into the big, bad world via sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud. It’s an easy, accessible way to share your music with whomever you like. However, one band in the vast sea that is the internet may be more of a struggle than it first appears to be.
And finally, Bas Jan, who should we be listening to?
“I’m either pre or post-internet in spirit. I’ve tried just self-releasing stuff online but it’s so easy for it to get lost. The internet has obviously revolutionised everything but I haven’t worked out what to do about releasing music in the aftermath of that. Human contact and scenes, small venues, bands etc. are more my bag. I don’t think any self-releasing artist would claim they just put it up and it’s this digital utopian edification. It’s bloody hard work and quite isolating.” She also explains that meeting with others involved in music-related projects is beneficial: “I’m part of this small casual monthly meeting with six or seven other people where we meet up and talk about our projects, how we are getting on, if we can help each other. It was Hannah Peel’s idea. It’s really helpful. I would recommend people try setting up things like that (it’s not The Freemasons).” Steer also feels that Bas Jan are disconnected to the music industry. Working with DIY organisations such as Lost Map (the label who released Yes I Jan) and Julie Tippex (a European booking agency) allows Bas Jan to be involved in more artist-led processes. When asked about the band’s favourite independent spaces or organisations, Steer lists: “The Five Bells in New Cross. We had our EP launch there last November with Incredible
“Dry Cleaning, SDF, Snapped Ankles, Natalie Sharp (A.K.A Lone Taxidermist), Lucy Railton, Dane Law, Bishi, Gazelle Twin, Charles Haywood, Black Midi, Bamboo, Trash Kit, Rozi Plain, Charismatic Megafauna, Dog Chocolate, Capitol K.” Steer also tells us that some friends have just started an organisation called Beats to the Bar, which helps you find your local DIY music scene, record shops, venues, labels and promotors, and it sounds pretty cool. Interview by Jean Pavitt
E C A P S
Feminism has become a much disputed word. Many think we need a new word for describing the equality of the sexes because feminism triggers differing connotations in each person, good and bad. However, the actual definition of feminism is: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. No man hating, just the acknowledgement that through history to modern day there has been an unequal balance of power that, through women’s volition, is slowly being righted. So, from the obvious lack – or near infinitesimal number – of well-known women in art history, through to the increased, but still lacking, number in galleries today, feminist art has been crucial as a protest against women’s inequality within and outside the art world. Linda Nochlin’s essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ written in 1971 highlights that this deficiency stems from the art world having been dominated by the white western male. Therefore concluding that the art history being taught to us is a product of misogyny. Art history is thus littered with unrecognised and unacknowledged female artists, whose male counterparts have became household names. One example is the abstract artist Hilma Af Klint. Klint’s pioneering work had 14
only begun gaining international recognition within the last 10 years. However, she started experimenting with abstraction in 1906, years before Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian, who are held up as the fathers of abstraction in art history.
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven is another artist widely unacknowledged, yet is most likely responsible for one of the most controversial pieces of art in the 20th century: Duchamp’s sculpture ‘Fountain’. ‘Fountain’ is an upside down urinal signed and dated “R. Mutt, 1917” which was submitted to the Society of Independent Artists’ salon in New York. The piece was rejected, which sparked a huge debate as to what classes as art, making Duchamp an avant garde household name. However, Duchamp wrote a letter to his sister stating that one of his female friends, under the pseudonym Richard Mutt, sent the urinal in as a sculpture. Of Duchamp’s female friends, the Baroness is undeniably the most likely candidate, with the ‘Fountain’ being strikingly similar to the Baroness’ oeuvre. The notion that anything can be art also seems to have originated from the Baroness, who began declaring objects from the street as sculptures before Duchamp’s readymades.
Therefore, we must question: is one of the most controversial works of the 20th century rightly attributed to Duchamp, or should it be attributed to a feminist artist before her time? This discreditation of female artists throughout history and the unequal power dynamic surrounding the art world was screaming for reform, and regrettably still is today. The Guerrilla Girls are a feminist group of artists whose aim is to shine a light on the unequal power dynamic through hard-hitting statistics with a comedic edge. Their 1989 billboard is one of their most famous pieces highlighting inequality within the arts, ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?’ This billboard showed that 5% of the artists in the modern art section were women and 85% of the nudes were women. We shall jump from that 1989 statistic to 30 years later. The Art Newspaper 2019 has published an article highlighting the dwindling representation of women artists. Their research has shown that in the UK and the USA only 35% of artists represented by just one gallery are female, and of the artists who are represented by nine or ten galleries, less than 10% are women. This is a disheartening statistic, especially in comparison to the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA showing that 51% of visual artists working today are women. Alongside this, the number of women in arts degrees in fact outweighs the number of men. So, why 30 years on from the Guerrilla Girls, has little changed? And why aren’t the statistics of female artists correlating to gallery settings? The path to equality is never easy. However, progress is happening, and women of today are being listened to, which is why it is important that feminist artists keep drawing attention to patriarchal society in order to achieve full equality. In the 1960s and 70s, second-wave feminist movements saw the start of a serious rebellion against the patriarchy and is of great importance in terms of feminist art. Female artists in the 1960s and 70s were regularly denied exhibitions in galleries and found it hard to gain a foothold or acceptance into the boys club of the art world. Female artists thus had to create work outside of
the male-prescribed canon, turning to methods such as performance art, craft, and video art, which were widely unused. They also began performing and exhibiting in a variety of settings, from the street to homes in order to question the unequal social, political and economical position of being a woman in the world. These methods of artistic creation are now seen as some of the most contemporary fields of work, with the recent 2018 Turner Prize finalists all being video artists: two men, one woman and one group. Charlotte Prodger became the ninth female winner of the Turner prize alongside twenty-five male winners. Women artists’ divergence from the prestigious gallery setting is highlighted perfectly by ‘Womanhouse’. ‘Womanhouse’ was the culminated creativity of 21 female artists who were part of the first Feminist Art Program founded by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro in 1971. The artists transformed a dilapidated house listed for demolition into an art space, which they renovated and installed. This art piece brought women’s creativity into a home setting, viewed as a place where women were meant to be dutiful, adoring wives and mothers. By using a house, the artists challenged these roles, showing the creativity, intelligence and ability they possessed and the need to oppose the roles assigned to them. Performance art played a huge role in this period with many seeing feminist art and performance art closely interwoven with one another. Lynn Hershman Leeson literally became her performance piece and between 19741978, Leeson transformed herself into the character she invented, Roberta Breitmore. Within this performance piece she mirrored the experiences of real women living in San Francisco, questioning female identity, highlighting how it is performed rather than inherent. Leeson created a specific appearance for Roberta Breitmore; she dated men and fully became this lived archetype of stereotype at the time. Leeson’s performance piece tackles the same subjects we see within Cindy Sherman’s work, who is arguably one of the most famous feminist artists, with her work spanning over 30 years. Sherman’s work draws attention
to performed/prescribed roles through conceptual portraits. Sherman uses prosthetics, wigs and make-up to turn herself into female stereotypes propagated through the media. Through her art, Sherman is commenting on the mass deception of the roles women undertake, with her saying, “if you don’t like me this way, how about you like me this way?” The performed femininity, roles and beauty ideals Leeson and Sherman highlight and question are still a topic of great importance in society today. People today have to deal with a huge variety of online platforms and the omnipotent social media prescribing how women should look and act within a society still controlled by patriarchy. This power and surveillance circulated by social media is undoubtedly affecting women’s mental health. Recent NHS research has shown that in the last 25 years, depression and anxiety in young people has increased by 70%, correlating with young people’s usage of social media. This obvious crisis in mental health shows the drastic need for an upheaval of women’s repressive representation in the media. Through popular culture, women are portrayed in a way that both satisfies the male gaze and the patriarchy. Therefore meaning that how women act, look and are as a whole, is almost certainly influenced by popular culture, and thus the patriarchy. Contemporary artists such as Rachel Maclean and Amalia Ulman are tackling such topics in their work. Rachel Maclean’s 2018 film Make Me Up sends us to a dystopian, seductive and dangerous world, looking at topics of surveillance, power and submission. The women are dressed in scant dresses, competing in what seems to be a TV show (reminiscent of America’s Next Top Model), the premise being that if the women step out of line or fail to epitomise the essence of beauty, they are brutally eliminated. The women’s voices are turned on or off via a controller to restrict their speaking, stopping them from conspiring together. Maclean highlights
the male-dominant art history within this narrative, using the patriarchal voice of art historian Kenneth Clark as the repressive character over the other women. The themes Maclean highlights within her work of social media’s power over women and how they should look and conform is seen in Amalia Ulman’s piece ‘Excellences & Perfections’. Ulman’s piece has been hailed as the first instagram masterpiece, with her amassing 89,244 followers in 5 months. Within this piece, Ulman underwent 3 stages of the female stereotype seen on instagram. The first stage is modelled on an artsy girl who has just moved to LA, the second stage sees her go off the rails, getting a fake boob job, doing drugs, going to rehab. The finale of this piece is the recovery stage: drinking smoothies, doing yoga and generally epitomising live, love, laugh. To summarise, women’s visibility within art history, spanning to the current day, is thoroughly lacking. Alongside this, repression from the patriarchy seems just as present as ever with media streams vehemently advocating how women should look and act. However, feminist artists repeatedly protest the inequality shown to women within and outside the art world, doing so effectively with their tenacity, intelligence and skill, thus paving the way for societal change. Therefore, going forward we must ask ourselves: who is to gain in denying gender equality, and how can we defeat this ingrained patriarchy in order to achieve an equal world? Words by Izzie Beirne Artwork by Molly Hayden
WOOZE WOOZE know how you’ll react to them. Emerging from the insular Muddy Yard Collective mid-2018 with the tightly knit ‘Hello Can You Go’, Theo Spark and Jamie She are masters of control. Musically, they stitch the madcap invention of band heroes Sparks and Queen with the wiry riffs of Unknown Mortal Orchestra or Revolver-era Beatles while looking like a walking art gallery. Abba, Led Zeppelin and The Kinks all fall into their melting pot but their influences reach further still, dredging through the funk metal of Primus and Bowie’s inspiration and performance. A band rooted in identity crisis and fear of the future, they’re hyperaware of their insignificance and roots in a wide musical canon while at the same time digesting everything around them like an anxious black hole. The music they cough up is exactly as you’d expect: everything at the same time and somehow still unique. In person, their rapport is that of brothers, finishing each other’s sentences and playfully insulting one another for occasionally missing their mark. Sitting close together in their under-construction studio, it may not be us vs. them but intense periods of collaboration have definitely gifted Spark and She a unique, honest and intimate working relationship.
Having formed from the stilted limbo of a former band, the duo initially began working together under the banner of the Rock Casual, a project which saw them release their take on a genre after spending only 24 hours with it, complete with video. She is hesitant to return to the project but Spark is more open. ‘I think that’s actually a big reason why we made WOOZE. It was quite nice to realise that we can do other genres and have more fun with those than we were meant to be having with our [old band’s] genre.’ Retreating from a malaise of managerial middle-men, their old band had fallen (and remain) dormant and Theo and Jamie are happy in their own circles, working with a few trusted outsiders while retaining complete creative control. A passing mention of Young Poet, their label, reveals the dedication others have to the project: ‘It’s run by our producer – he said to us that a large part of his decision to start the label was so that he could release our stuff on our terms. We all had quite a bad experience with other people so I think we just wanted to do it ourselves.’ Burnt in the past, WOOZE is She and Spark’s chance for not only a fresh start creatively, but also strict command of the band’s commercial branch. 19
The industry’s influence is clearly fresh in the band’s hive mind, following a recent tour of South Korea spent frequenting the resilient venues sprouting in the cracks of the K-Pop machine. Touring with industry escapees Wetter, they’ve seen firsthand the havoc a big machine can wreak in all domains of an artistic career. K-Pop’s a catch-all tag for the conveyor belt of bands exported by the country across the world, but really isn’t relevant to WOOZE. Spark sees it as an lazy label for the group’s vision, based on his own Korean heritage and their slick aesthetic, recalling an awkward interview in France. ‘The interviewer was like ‘Cos you’re a K-Pop band, aren’t you?’ and we were like ‘Urm. I don’t think we are.’’ Which begs the question, where would WOOZE even place their heady mix of sugary riffs? Does genre actually merit anything nowadays? ‘I guess we’ve been banding around the word ‘grotesque pop’ or ‘hard pop’, because we just want to write those songs really,’ reports Theo. ‘The boundaries haven’t been defined before or maybe haven’t been as clearly defined as when people have used genre in the past.’ Returning to consider the Rock Casual, Jamie interjects later with a predictably considered take. ‘The interesting thing that you learn from deliberately copying someone else’s genre is that you begin inevitably to question ownership of it. Then you begin to question what actually you were doing before – in our case, our previous band. Where do you go from there?’ It’s clear this is something the band have thought about a lot. Their music is both a response and product of modern consumption: ‘When living in the past, it was kind of expected you’d have your genre, your niche and you’d go by it. Now, people listen to music off Spotify and to playlists, and they absorb many different genres at once. I think that’s something that rubs off on us,’ Theo continues. They’re both victims and perpetrators of a reduced attention span, which only serves their purpose of finding the perfect pop song. ‘If one of us is slightly bored by something we’ve written, then it’s not good enough,’ Jamie rules. ‘Inevitably, the stuff that we’re both keen on sounds like all of our favourite things – it’s all indebted to the stuff we were listening to as a three year old and my catalogue of pop.’
And when it comes to pop, WOOZE are decidedly all in – flamboyant fashion and all. Their visuals are as crucial for pursuing their unspoken manifesto – ‘mum’s the word’ – as their audio output. Spotlighting bright colours, their striking fashion choices are their own but for their incredible music videos they reach out to another trusted collaborator, Nuri Jeong. Her high-production vignettes are all produced in South Korea, with another in the edit, filmed during their last trip out there. ‘The videos are hugely indebted towards our director who we kind of consider to be part of our band, like a further branch of it,’ says Theo. ‘We started working with her almost right at the start. We come up with the seed and then we plant it together.’ Their commitment to the cause has clearly struck a chord with the right people (they recently performed on Made In Chelsea), but as with everything the band do, it’s less a slapdash afterthought and more likely a candidate for part of that unspoken manifesto. They talk romantically about Bowie and his outlandish characters, and their alien fashioning has more than a touch of Aladdin Sane to it. ‘We’re embodying characters for this project, but we never did before,’ mentions Theo, before Jamie continues, ‘and there are characters in the songs as well who are developing lives very slowly.’ The music of WOOZE fell out from the production of a claymation opera (‘we chose rock and roll,’ Theo quips), and so is dense with recurring characters. Talk inevitably turns back to modern audiences, and how newcomers can consume the art of a figure like Bowie with such an expansive back catalogue. ‘The only way to properly digest someone like that is to really look at the characters he made.’ WOOZE’s consideration of music history and how they can even begin to traverse it is never too far from discussion. A cynic could out their characters as a crafty business decision but their lyrics rotate on an axis of anxiety, obsessed with identity crises and disappearing in the digital age. Fictional personas seem a logical extension to grapple with such potent themes. Their manifesto will finally reach fruition with the release of their debut album, yet to be recorded and likely released when only the band decide the time is right.
She and Spark promise it’ll circle and loop back through the huge topics that our conversation has only enough time to dip briefly into. ‘It’s all tightly interwoven with the central themes of identity crisis and the subjectivity of reality. Or the feeling of alienism and being uprooted, which I guess is a symptom of the digital age. But it’s not really about the digital age,’ Theo cryptically and contradictingly thinks aloud. Beyond that? There are far-off thoughts of reinventing themselves (they’ve considered switching identities with each other via laser eye surgery and a wardrobe swap), emulating their heroes while probing deeper into their preoccuptions with identity and its ephemeral nature. A series of live dates loom across and there’ll be another trip back to Korea in October. Ultimately, however, WOOZE’s future will take them wherever She and Spark, and only those two, decide. Those tricky decisions will doubtless be informed by a thousand anxious considerations. They’re constantly reminded by everything that’s come before them and they’re conscious of anything they may add to it. They look back at the past but head excitedly into the unknown. They’re everything at the same time and hopefully, something still unique. Interview by Jake Crossland Photographs by Peter Butterworth for Delinquent
ESTELLA ADEYERI Since she captured the imagination of the UK DIY scene, leading the line with JUNK., Estella Adeyeri hasn’t stopped. Now playing in three bands, Big Joanie, Witching Waves and Charmpit, Estella is inspiring the next generation of female and black punks through her music and much more. You’ve been part of the UK DIY scene for quite a while now and it’s a scene that seems to only be getting stronger, with cassette sales booming and venues like Wharf Chambers in Leeds and DIY Space For London doing great. How has the scene developed over the last few years?
Big Joanie Photo by Ellie Smith
versifying the scene – First Timers, Girls Rock London, Decolonise Fest, Bent Fest to name just a few. It’s cool to see new artists and bands being encouraged and supported. How important are DIY radio shows, like Basement Scene, in the current DIY community? How did your guest-mix with them come about?
I think they’re super important – we need people out there who are creating media that they’re genuinely passionate about, and that isn’t purely motivated by profit above all. I like listening to radio shows from different cities and getting an insight into what’s happening with their local scene, as it’s too easy to just focus I’m not sure about the rest of the UK currently, as I on the London bubble when you live here. It’s always moved back to London in 2015, but I feel like the DIY humbling when someone from further afield, maybe scene here has seen some pretty exciting developfrom somewhere you’ve never even been before, plays ments over time. I feel like people are more vocal than your music as well. I think it’s still a really important ever about combating the dominance of the ‘male, way of reaching a wider audience as well as staying pale and stale’ presence in music. There are so many nights, festivals and other initiatives working towards di- connected with other music scenes. 24
I met Joe from Basement Scene when playing in JUNK. A few years ago, we played one of their shows in Bradford. I got in touch with him while Big Joanie were doing the press run for Sistahs because I thought a mix might be a fun way to celebrate the album finally coming out. We feel like we’re very much a product of our scene, as Big Joanie started out at First Timers and has been gigging around London ever since. We owe a lot to the London DIY punk scene, and there are so many great bands within it that people should know about, so it was cool to be able to share their music! In an age of austerity, the arts can be hit hardest. How important is culture in such a difficult social and political moment? I think the way that the establishment always tries to silence (counter)culture during oppressive times throughout history indicates just how important it is. There’s a power in expressing your truth, whether on a micro-level of just needing to voice the things affecting you, or on a macro-level, where expressing dissent in a way that captures the zeitgeist can initiate a real movement. Or sometimes a piece of art perfectly expresses what you’ve felt but had been unable to put into words, and that can help you process and understand what’s happening around you. It’s clear that increasing the visibility of black artists in the punk scene is very important to yourself and Big Joanie. How do you think your scene can encourage more black people to become a part of the community? I think just showing that black people in punk aren’t an anomaly can make a difference, and creating an environment where people can discuss their different experiences. Decolonise Fest does that I think – not only with the festival itself but with the volunteer team behind it, who are all punks of colour. Any person of colour can get involved with volunteering with Decolonise Fest, even without experience of running a festival, as we share those skills among each other. Then there’s the social aspect too: being able to share with others who understand your experiences (for example cultural expectations, or being the only black or brown face within an overwhelmingly white space) can really help foster that sense of belonging to a community.
Could you tell us a bit about Decolonise Fest and Girls Rock London? Decolonise Fest is a music festival run by punks of colour, for punks of colour. It was created to celebrate the punks of colour from around the world, past and present, that contribute to the scene. The main festival happens every summer over a weekend at DIY Space for London, but there are shows and other events throughout the year. Girls Rock London is a music charity that encourages women and girls, as well as non-binary youth and adults, to pick up an instrument, make music and start bands. It exists within the wider network of Girls Rock Camps across the globe, and aims to challenge gender inequality within music. With Big Joanie you’ve recently toured with Parquet Courts, how was that? Well that tour definitely had its extreme highs and lows. Parquet Courts are such a force live, so it was pretty thrilling to just watch them every night for nearly two weeks. The band and their crew were really friendly too, so it was nice to hang out a little. We played to much bigger crowds than we were used to, as the band had sold out most of their tour dates, including the Roundhouse, which was their (and our!) biggest show ever. We played the UK leg and it was great, but whilst travelling from London to Amsterdam our van broke down twice, which very nearly stopped us from making the shows in mainland Europe. We were determined to make it work – it was our first opportunity to tour Europe with a band like that, and it felt like we’d been working so hard for so long to get that kind of opportunity – so we refused to let it deter us. We spent a fortune calling out a mechanic, hiring a replacement vehicle at the last minute and rebooking the ferry from Dover to Calais, and realised we might just be able to make the Amsterdam show by the skin of our teeth. We created a GoFundMe to help recover our costs, which I think reached the target in under 12 hours – we couldn’t believe the generosity of our friends and fans. We knew we really wanted to be able to continue the tour and it was touching to see that so many other people were rooting for us too. We never expected to see that level of generosity and support, and
we’ll never forget it. We made it to Paradiso in Amsterdam 45 minutes before our stage time and it actually turned out to be one of our favourite shows! You teach music lessons. Could you tell us a bit about how you got into that and what it’s like working with young musicians? Have you got any interesting stories from your lessons? I don’t think I’d have got into teaching without Girls Rock London giving me the confidence to believe I could do it. My first time volunteering with GRL took on the roles of guitar tutor and band coach. GRL’s camps, by their nature, are very intensive – our adult camp runs over a bank holiday weekend whilst our youth camp is just six days over summer – so you have to really think about how to teach in an engaging way that maximises the small amount of time you have, plus think about the different levels of experience you might encounter with your group, etc. I really enjoyed teaching at camp, then at some point a person contacted Girls Rock London as they were looking for a female guitar teacher. I decided to begin lessons with them, and put a callout to see if anyone else would be interested in learning with me. Things kind of took off from there! I love teaching because I find it so rewarding watching someone learn to love their instrument and grow in confidence. One of the best things about Girls Rock London is watching people grow into themselves just through spending a couple days in a really nurturing environment. GRL is about more than just learning to play an instrument or starting a band – we try to make sure that people come away knowing their value and importance. Studies have shown that ages 11-16 is the crucial period where girls’ self esteem tends to be at its lowest, and this is the age group we work with at our youth camps. We host workshops looking at topics like body positivity, queer community, self-expression and self-worth. It can be a really transformative experience, and watching someone leave camp after a few days with a newfound confidence and belief in themselves, and a passion to pursue music in whichever way is meaningful to them, is indescribably rewarding. I think knowing how much music has helped me in those areas it feels really important
that I help others too. Charmpit’s last EP, Squirrel Away the Summer, was out in September, can we expect anything new soon? Charmpit are busy working on some new material, and it’s super exciting to be a part of that process. I loved Charmpit since their first ever show at First Timers in 2016 – I was volunteering with the sound workers collective at DIY Space for London, and was still learning the ropes when it came to engineering shows. They opened the whole weekend, and I’d helped them a little getting set up on stage. Their set was so joyous! I joined them on lead guitar last year, and some of my parts were adapted from the lead parts you can hear on their recordings, while others are new additions by me. You seem to manage to juggle lots of bands all at once. How do you find that? Yeah at the moment I’m playing in 3 bands, which can get quite busy! I like being challenged in different ways in the different roles I play in each band, for example, I’d never really considered myself a lead guitarist until Charmpit mentioned they needed one and I was like, ‘sign me up!’ I like getting to play different styles of music, and I’ve always loved making music collaboratively so I guess I’m always encouraged to be creative by having a few things on the go. Are there any bands you think we need to know about right now? I really like Junodef, who are a post-rock band based in London but hailing from Malmö in Sweden. Molar are my other favourite Malmö-related band. There are so many bands I could name but I’d say it’s worth checking out Screaming Toenail, Secret Power, No Home, Solution Hours, Child’s Pose, Kapil Seshasayee and Charismatic Megafauna. Interview by Ben Sargent
Photo by Naomi Yates
Reviews by Jean Pavitt
HOLIDAY GHOSTS WEST BAY PLAYROOM PNKSLM Recordings
CHAI PUNK Heavenly Recordings
LEWSBERG LEWSBERG Self-release
With just two out of fourteen songs breaching the 3-minute mark, Holiday Ghosts channel the pure and simple punk structure of Ramones and The Clash, while still carrying the inherent DIY charm of the South West. The Falmouth-born record is saturated in 60s and 70s influences; ‘Slipstream’ reminisces The Velvet Underground, while The Modern Lovers reside in ‘Low Flying Bird’.
‘WE ARE CHAI’ is a phrase you’ll recognise not only from being chanted playfully on this record, but from the band’s charmingly charasmatic live performances. PUNK sees CHAI hold nothing back in their pop-fuelled sophmore album. Their pink-suited presence only further promotes the sugar-rush joy that glows from record, and sticks a finger to ‘kawaii’ or ‘cute culture’. The Japanese foursome inject punk ideologies into infectiously poppy synths, indulgent melodies, and empowered lyrics. In ‘I’m Me’ and first single ‘Fashionista’, the band tackle predefined concepts of ‘cute’ by asserting, “I’ll put butter on my steak” and “pink butt cheeks are my charm”, while ‘GREAT JOB’ proclaims, “Fight back!”, “Get Power! Fresh feeling!”. You can just picture the four-piece smiling ear-to-ear all throughout the record. GREAT JOB.
The opening to Lewsberg, the eponymous debut from the Dutch four-piece, is a cosmic lullaby-esque to-and-fro plinking of a synth, accompanied by soft-voiced conversation. It eases you into the single ‘Terrible’, a simply well-written indie-rock song. Vocals have a Lou Reed nonchalance to them as the lyrics unfold, “I’m about to do something terrible / I’m about to do something nice” with humourous detachment. ‘Non-fiction Writer’ dwells into spoken word and ‘Chances’ meets in the middle with a melodic spoken style, which is sandwiched between squawking guitar breaks. A record that is often reminiscent of older classics such as The Modern Lovers and The Velvet Underground, yet still has a very much contemporary sound that fits snugly in between the likes of Ought and Parquet Courts.
The guitars are jangly and the melodies are infectiously playful. West Bay Playroom is a bit bluesy, a bit rock’n’roll, a bit punky, and delightfully bright. For a record seemingly eclectic in its inspiration, while also inheriting input from three songwriters, it is carefully curated to absorb all these influences. It weeps character and makes for an indisputably easy, joyful listen. 28
N0V3L NOVEL Meat Machine
EX HEX IT’S REAL Merge Records
Frantic jangling of squeaking guitars weaving between a head-strong percussion lead leaves one to think that N0V3L have been listening to nothing but Omni, DUDS, and Gang of Four. This is no complaint. Politically-charged and brooding in their black and red wall of bodies, the theme of time creeps up frequently throughout the release – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ warns “time is a resource / to use and to treasure” with specific concern towards an “internet generation”, while the wobbling bass of ‘Sign On The Line’ introduces a fear of ‘devalu[ing] your time”. Vocals chant in unison to the rhythm, creating an intensely animated atmosphere that works as the record’s scaffolding. Kaleidoscopically dystopian in content at times, Novel makes for must-listen debut.
Clad in big, swaggering riffs, It’s Real is unapologetic, unadulterated rock. It has been five years since their 2014 debut Rips and, as you would expect, they’ve upped their game. Power chords belt out underneath glimmering solos, giving Ex Hex a deeper, fuller sound, while choruses have the infectiousness of a classic pop song. “Baby, come on and dance with me / come out of your cave, let’s ride on a wave” sings front-of-house Mary Timony, accompanied by ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and gliding on top of a face-paced, Buzzcocks-style strumming that serves as the track’s underbelly. It’s Real is a power record, which demands to be played loud. Very loud. It’s audacious garage-rock masterfully curated. Ex Hex are back, baby.
HOMESHAKE HELIUM Sinderlyn
JULIA JACKLIN CRUSHING Transgressive Records
It’s not long into Helium’s cool synth intro, ‘Early’, that I realise Peter Sagar’s fourth album is as stylish as ever. Following on from 2017’s Fresh Air, an impossibly trendy exploration into lofi R&B, new album Helium sees Sagar concoct a special blend of perfect pop hooks and the tender vocals that seem to come so easily to the former Mac DeMarco collaborator. Early singles ‘Like Mariah’, ‘Just Like My’ and particularly the glowing ‘Nothing Could Be Better’, the video of which was exceptionally weird in all the best ways, are all stand-outs. Beneath the pounding electronic drum of ‘(Secret Track)’ Sagar’s voice seems particularly sweet before getting some luxurious pitch-shifting treatment. Helium is perhaps Sagar’s most complete collection of songs to date and the Homeshake project is one that seems to just keep getting better and better.
On listening to Crushing you could be forgiven for thinking the heart of Julia Jacklin has been broken a thousand times. Perhaps it has. Nevertheless, the newly-crowned queen of indie has blessed us with a real gem here. Opener ‘Body’ is an effortlessly brilliant piece of storytelling as much as it is a captivating lesson in songwriting. I can’t praise every song in one-hundred words (though I certainly want to) but ‘Pressure To Party’ is a particular triumph that sees Jacklin treading closer to down-right pop than ever before, ‘Good Guy’ is a tear-jerking tale of loneliness and lead single ‘Head Alone’ does everything right. ‘Comfort’ finishes things off on a suitably heartbreaking note. If all heartbreak sounded this good I don’t think anyone would complain.
Reviews by Ben Sargent
STELLA DONNELLY BEWARE OF THE DOGS Secretly Canadian
SNAPPED ANKLES STUNNING LUXURY The Leaf Label
It’s testament to Stella Donnelly that she’s managed to make deep inroads in the UK music scene by touring solo, with just a guitar for company. Last year’s EP Thrush Metal showcased this perfectly. Now backed by a full band, the Australian’s debut album sees her pack a new-found punch. This is an album with bags of character as Donnelly flicks between telling people to fuck off as ‘Seasons Greetings’ comes to a close, before immediately jumping into the delicate, heart-wrenching ‘Allergies’. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is a welcome crossover from Thrush Metal and still sounds perfectly poignant sandwiched between full band material. A real highlight comes near the end in the form of ‘Watching Telly’’s synthsoaked pop. Beware of the Dogs balances brilliantly boisterous and tender sweetness superbly.
The Leaf Label is one of the most reliable out there if you’re on the lookout for something with a bizarre twist in the tail. Their newest output, the equally mad second album from East London’s Snapped Ankles, is no different. The primal beating of incessant drums rings in your ears throughout this unrelenting record. The infusion of primitive psych-punk tropes with wailing electronic pulsations is strangely unnerving. Listening to Stunning Luxury seems not far from experiencing some kind of odd sonic seance. From the incessant chanting of opener ‘Pestisound (Moving Out)’ to the closing electronic soundscape of ‘Dream And Formadehyde’, which echoes into the distance as we breathe properly for the first time in 44 minutes, Stunning Luxury is a whirlwind. You don’t listen to Snapped Ankles, you experience them. 31
LIVE IN PICTURES BY SAM JOYCE
LIVE IN PICTURES BY SAM JOYCE
LIVE IN PICTURES BY SAM JOYCE
Treeboy & Arc
LEWSBERG Hey guys, could you introduce yourselves to us? We’re Lewsberg from Rotterdam. Named after Rotterdam-based writer Robert Loesberg’s English pseudonym. We’re a four-piece group. Michiel writes most of the music, and he plays guitar. Shalita plays bass guitar and sings. Dico is our skinsman. My name is Arie, I’m the lyricist, I play guitar and I sing. How did you all meet? When you live in Rotterdam and are into music, it’s almost impossible to not meet each other. Most of the time, you just see people at shows and nod politely. Sometimes you unintentionally start talking to someone. I think that’s how Michiel, Shalita and I met. Dico isn’t really into music, but I went to art school with him. He was the most promising artist of our year. When I ran into him again recently, I remembered that he once told me that he used to play drums in a high school band. How would you describe your sound? The idea was to start a rock band with really good songs, played very badly. And even though the songs sound pretty decent at times, nowadays, we still try to preserve bits of this original idea. We like to break down songs when they start to sound too nice. To slow down songs when you start to feel the rhythm. To sound really sweet when singing about disaster. To be out of tune during a crucial guitar solo. Who or what are your biggest influences? Usually, when people ask me about my biggest influences, I sum up a list of writers from Rotterdam: Cor Vaandrager, Robert Loesberg, A. Moonen, Hans Sleutelaar, Frans Vogel, Arie Gelderblom. But none of them ever got translated to English, so this might be a pretty useless
answer for the readers of this particular interview. On the other hand, maybe they never got translated just because of the reason why they’ve been an influence on me? Their writing is never plot-driven, it’s more about style and the use of Dutch language. Very functional and pragmatic. How have you been enjoying the reception to the debut album? It’s interesting to see that people are actually listening to a record that hasn’t been put out by a label, that doesn’t have a marketing machine behind it. I enjoy walking to the post office in the morning to ship out orders. And it’s nice to hear your music on the radio, played by a DJ because they like the track, not because they have to play it. What can we expect from upcoming live shows? The good thing about live shows is the volume and physicality of the music, that’s obviously lacking when you listen to it at home. Another nice thing about playing live, is that you can make mistakes. Making mistakes means opening up to new perspectives and possibilities. Not always for the better, but at least it’s refreshing. How do you want to be remembered? I hope I’m dead before I get the chance to think about how I want to be remembered. Could you give us a handful of bands we should be listening to? Lijadu Sisters, Mad Nanna, Nap Eyes, Lithics and Cody Chesnutt. Interview by Jake Crossland 39
HMV & I The daunting chasm of the empty page. Must. Write. Something. And then suddenly it became clear, somewhere along the A1(M) from Peterborough, where steel box wheels dance across worn asphalt. If it matters to you, you’ll have heard that entertainment retailing company HMV recently entered administration. (I live in a small bombshaped parcel, and this information reached me one way or another). Stores up and down the country are emptying and taking on a Most Haunted, props cupboard-y vibe. It’s stomach churning. Let’s poke it with a stick. HMV, which has been active not long off a hundred years, accounts for nearly a third of physical music sales in the UK. Spending on physical music has fallen from approximately one billion pounds to below half a billion in the last ten years. Why? Digitalisation. Spending on digital music has skyrocketed, the prospects are bleak, you’ve heard it all before. But it’s a depressing stat, and one you don’t need a Maths GCSE to figure is having an impact on suppliers – up and down the high street. There’s less incentive to leave the house than ever. With HMV tied to the tracks and more than 2,000 jobs hanging in the balance, what happens now is anyone’s guess. 40
Watching this particular crash from beside the sidelines, it’s impossible for me or anyone else in Cornwall to gauge the reaction from the circles that count. I’m speculating, but perhaps a bracket exists who are celebrating the crash of this big-bucks consumerist corporation; maybe in vegan quinoa farmshops in Brighton this is seen as a victory for independent record stores. The kind of street corner enterprises staked out by the odd cobweb-coated cave-dweller (you should see them round here! Oh, that’s a mirror), or Dave & Terry’s who no-one has to heart to remind it’s not 1974. Please take my flippancy with a pinch of salt. HMV’s continued existence is not just historically essential. The implications of its closure on the popularity of physical music sale are horrendous, and shouldn’t go ignored. Your record collection agrees. Granted, the ambition of HMV’s output far exceeds the Kate Rusby and Amy MacDonald CDs I was brought up on. Did these rose-speckled trips that oversaw my dimensionally transcendental maturity from James Blunt’s Moon Landing to The Stone Roses help to sustain HMV’s high-street presence for any longer than it lasted? No. No. But nostalgia is a wonderful thing, and my last trip to HMV could turn out to be just that. Well, it’s not often I go to into the city.
Queensgate, Peterborough, 31.12.18 Inside, it’s filling up and pouring out. I feel like I’m mooing rather than cooing to make my way through the crowd to the juicy stuff. That’s if there’s anything left. The aisles look stark, starker than the family-Christmas-turned-Saw-trap I’m running away from. But I’m not without hope and the shelves are not without reward. I see more than compact discs. I see the promise of my rescue. Life on Mars seeps from the speakers like a holy beckoning. Could it be the sedatives…? The conventions of categorised product retail appear mostly forgotten. A stack of biographies with an uncanny resemblance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa wobbles above young heads in the middle of the room. Only David Beckham’s face disturbs the illusion of art. It’s pushchair hell, and the pushers have called in back-up. Sound woeful? Oh, but the hubris is half the magic. If you can bear the social anxiety, it’s genuinely exciting to buy music while strangers rummage nearby, looking for the one group you wouldn’t expose your ears to if they paid you. Or the band you’ve been waiting for this whole time. Or the last artist you’d ever expect to find yourself funding a career. It makes for an experience at the opposite end of the spectrum to that comatose stereotype of record-shopping – the crumpled sleeves, the furrowed brows, the crackle of the needle on dusty vinyl (points deducted for describing everything I love about record-shopping). Going to HMV is like a high-octane sport. Different, memorable, not for everyone. The vinyl is extra thick. The decks might soon be extra cheap. The staff are tireless in their enthusiasm, even with their jobs in the air. It has capitalism written all over it, and you should hate it, and I want to hate it. I’m not saying it’s better than Dave & Terry’s street corner enterprise or even comparable – like the debate about professional and non-league football, whether the former alienates “real” fans. But it has to offer more optimism than Spotify, and it’s so much better than nothing.
As I fumble deeper into the shop, past the initial blast site, the post-apocalyptic atmosphere intensifies. By the time I’ve reached letter X of ‘Pop and Rock’ from A-Z, I may as well have stepped onto the set of The Walking Dead. I haven’t come for X-Ray Spex. What have I come for? I’m armed with a £10 gift card. I know I could be looking at the final showdown. I have to make this count. On every previous visit one box in particular has made eyes at me. It’s a funny kind of courtship. I’ve suppressed involvement, chosen pretty much anything else in fear of overfamiliarity. In my quest to discover stuff, I have HMV to thank for: Galaxie 500’s On Fire, Unknown Pleasures, Alvvays’ two EPs to date, Scum by Ratboy, Wolf Alice’s Visions of a Life, Suede’s first three albums plus Sci-Fi Lullabies, Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs, Gene’s Olympian, Balls by The Broken Family Band, 2 by Mac DeMarco, LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream, not to mention everything I have reviewed for Delinquent from Girls Names to Sunflower Bean (other titles are available!). Today’s when I give in. My decision is a loaded gun and brings me full circle, perfect closure. New Year’s Eve couldn’t be a more appropriate setting. I don’t care if I know the tracklist across two discs like my own reflection. I hand over my gift voucher and the guy behind the counter hands me back The Sound of The Smiths – a remastered compilation album with absentees like ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ and ‘Death of a Disco Dancer’, darker songs that demonstrate The Smiths’ real capabilities and provide a fuller picture of a band incorrectly maligned for their one-note output. But oh well. I just might die with a smile on my face after all. A final address to Dave & Terry’s: there’s nothing wrong with 1974. I’m the same, half-stuck in my own rose-speckled past, listening to Kate Rusby and Amy MacDonald. One day misremembered CD trips will be the only thing to show for those songs and that time, and the receipts will have been thrown on the fire and
the houses will have all burned down… I believe truly that independent record shops are the glittering pillars that bind and have bound fragile psyches from the brink of unravelling. The day they cease to exist will be the day guitar music ceases to exist – it won’t happen. But don’t underestimate the influence of HMV on a life or two. A life that – had they not succumbed to the lure of the bigger-on-the-inside shopfront while their mum went about hibernating for the winter in the Boots opposite – might never have been thrown a rubber ring. If HMV closes it won’t be the end, of course not, but it will be sad, and the legacy left after will be worthy of the emotions they gave you back in all those pretty, pretty songs. So what happened? HMV survived liquidation, acquired in early February by Sunrise Records owner Doug Putman. 100 stores have been saved from closure. 27 will close permanently, including the Queensgate store in Peterborough and the author’s nearest store in Drake Circus, Plymouth. Words by Sam Durneen Artwork by Jean Pavitt
THE SPOOK SCHOOL Firstly, who are The Spook School?
groups out there that can fill that void.
Four silly, queer sausages from Scotland who are still learning how to play their instruments.
Gig culture is an inherent part of the music industry. What’s the best thing about playing live?
You released your record Could It Be Different? with Alcopop! How was it working with them?
Not being 100% sure what’s going to happen. Are our amps going to explode? Will the audience turn up? Can we remember the lyrics? Was it a good idea to base the entire show around a plate of haunted mashed potato?
Really nice. Jack is a lovely guy and he gives great hugs. You cover some serious personal and political issues in your lyrics, yet approach it with optimism and a playfully raucous sound. Is this a deliberate choice? What is your writing process like? We really want our music to be fun but we can’t help write about sad stuff. We like to smash together our desire to laugh and our penchant for tears. When we write, normally one person starts with a kernel of an idea and then brings it to the group. Then the whole gang get stuck in and we all get our grubby fingerprints on the track and it becomes something recognisable as The Spook School. You’re held very dearly in the queer scene; how has being part of this music community affected you as a band? It’s been a wonderful support. I think we always feel a little outside of scenes and communities. We started in Edinburgh and didn’t really know any other musicians. Being able to travel and meet such warm and like-minded people is really sweet and touching. Do you feel that having sub-cultures under the great umbrella of indie music is important? Why? Sub-cultures and genres so long as they’re not used in an elitist or exclusionary fashion can be good. They signpost shortcuts to find like-minded people and music and art that touches you and you identify with. People seem to desire community and belonging and there are lots of
What is the music scene like in Edinburgh? Do you feel like it has shaped the way you write and/or perform? When we started in Edinburgh we didn’t know anything about the music scene there. Three of us came out of the comedy scene and we knew how to run our own gigs so we just did it ourselves without knowing any promoters in the city. The way we started definitely taught us to value our independence and embedded in us the knowledge that we can make any silly idea we want real. Are there any spaces or venues that are particularly important to you as a band? Why? Our first ever show was at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh so that place will always mean a lot to us. It’s a tiny venue hidden underneath a White Russian themed bar. Stereo in Glasgow was where we launched the latest album and did our Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausage show, that will stick in the memory. What’s in store for The Spook School in 2019? Some festivals, maybe a tour, who knows! Finally, who should we be listening to? Martha. Bad Moves. Joyce Delaney. Happy Spendy. Interview by Jean Pavitt 45
JUMBO RECORDS A soft pop as needle meets vinyl. It’s a subtle but joyous sound and one that could be on the way out. That’s if the fear-mongering news stories of physical music’s crashing sales and the rise of Spotify and the other evil streaming services are true. Bollocks. On the contrary, despite the constant struggles of HMV, vinyl sales are booming and even cassette sales saw a rise of 90% in the first half of 2018. At the heart of this vinyl resurgence is the humble record store, a hub for lovers of the most tangible form of audio entertainment. At the heart of every music scene is a record shop. As part of Delinquent’s ongoing Record Shop Series (find our first two instalments with Drift of Totnes and Bristol’s Specialist Subject online) we spoke to Matt Bradshaw of legendary Leeds music hub, Jumbo Records. Am I right in thinking that when Jumbo started it specialised in reggae and soul? What are your 46
favourite reggae/soul records and are there any contemporary reggae/soul artists you are championing? That’s right, Jumbo at the time supplied many of the UK Sound systems with ‘specials’ and Soul DJs with their Northern spins – it even had its own Reggae 7” label too. It’s always a tough one when asked about your favorite records so I tend to timidly do the fall back and talk about what I’m digging this month… I pulled some reggae bits out recently to DJ with and I’ve always liked funky reggae so a couple of tracks that span both reggae and soul that you could check on Youtube would be Bruce Ruffin’s ‘Geronimo’ (not actually Bruce, but a DeeJay cut with some seriously funky drums at the start), And Barrington Levy’s ‘Come On’ which has a chilled post-punky funky vibe. What is your favourite record of all time?
Impossible to answer, couldn’t even give you my top 30 BUT I’ve always had a soft spot for Eugene McDaniels’ Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse and Adam & The Ants’ Dirk Wears White Sox. Jumbo often hosts in-stores. Have any artists who’ve played the shop stood out? There have been so many over the years that have been really memorable and often surprising too. Recently Nightmare On Wax played a live set after hours in the shop and seeing the whole shop turn into a dancefloor was something to behold. Ryley Walker was fantastic too, he just rocked up with Nathan from The Brudenell who’d bought him a bottle of bourbon and played a stunner of a set. John Grant (who’s a regular customer when he’s in town) made us melt when he played the old shop and seduced and shocked in equal measures – the image of escalator-travelling turning heads while he belted out the expletive-ridden ‘I Hate This Town’ will always stay with me. What is exciting in the local Leeds music scene right now? Without blurting out the usual list of bands and top tips, I’d rather point to an unholy amount of different genres that seem to be not only be pushing through into the hype-osphere, but also onto 6 Music and into quite a few great music mags and DJ’s hands. I like the Tight Lines crew of jazz maniacs who seem to be continuing the jumping thread of jazz-juice that’s always sloshed excitedly around Leeds from the mid-50s Studio 20 club through the heady days of the Dig Family and now Soul Rebels / Re-Soul and Barry’s Jazz Club… The hook is that people like Lubi from Soul Rebels are STILL discovering and helping to nurture new talent and giving them slots with bigger artists. That’s the thing about Leeds that excites me the most, there are still promoters and venue owners who are willing to give props to those coming up whether they be artists, DJs or musicians.
Look at the way the Brudenell has evolved and to me you have a blue-print of what the scene SHOULD and COULD be like. Nathan’s vision feeds into not just the success of the venue itself but also the wider Leeds scene and has given support to promoters, breweries, bands and designers big and small but also understood the importance of shops like us and Crash Records. Look at the whole caboodle of supportive promoters in general in Leeds (from the success of Live At Leeds to the flurry of fantastic record labels and radio-stations, bars and studios) and you’ll see, like I do, a reason to get excited… Even the flow of magazines like this that intrinsically are part of the music scene, and understand the importance of shops and venues and edge up that excitement and enthusiasm… In Jumbo you can buy tickets for gigs all across Leeds. What shows have you recently seen that were great? What is coming up that you’re looking forward to, and what venues in Leeds do you think are doing exciting things? Crack Cloud were phenomenal and will be playing Leeds again… Serious Sam Barrett is having another album launch at the Brudunell so that’s always going to be a riot. Regarding Leeds venues I suppose because we sell tickets for so many different ones it’s great to see so many gig go’ers wax lyrical about their favourite venues when they come in and buy tickets… There’s so much loyalty and passion around venues and I love the fact that each one seems to have its own crowd of cheerleaders too… Another reason why Leeds seems to have got the balance right through D.I.Y. to Arena: things like Live At Leeds are such an incredible feat of organisation and somehow manages to tie all the strands of the Leeds music scene, big and small, into one dynamite weekend. What’s the best thing about working at Jumbo? The autonomy to carve out great deals and instores with independent labels, bands and distros… The
never-changing passion around music that’s remained a constant in the 24+ years I’ve been working in indies, watching customers whose eyes light up when they speak about their favourite records or genres. I guess I feel proud to be part of a nearly 50-year history of music… To think of all the new genres Jumbo first stocked from Northern Soul when it first became a ‘thing’ to the punk and house scenes… It’s soaked up all that wonderful music and still remains true to its roots and serves the community around it... It’s telling too that a lot of venues and promotors still support and work together with Jumbo which feels incredibly positive especially in a world where there seems to be a race towards profit being more important than people. Do you have any interesting Jumbo-related stories? Lots and lots, too many in fact… Maybe one day all will be revealed but so far you’ll have to come in and ask us or check out the book Last Shop Standing which has a few tales… What’s new in the shop that you’d recommend? By the time this comes out I suspect that the new will become old pretty fast. It doesn’t help that often we get super advanced promos so by the time something is new on the shelves it’s quite old to us… If you pop in usually we play a mixture of things each individual member of staff is diggin’ that week. Plus some new things we’re checking out and some plug play gems that we’ll pop on if someone is hovering around a particular genre or a regular has popped in and we reckon they’ll really like something. Interview by Ben Sargent
NEW RELEASES OUT NOW
SHANA CLEVELAND ‘Night of the Worm Moon’
DANIEL THORNE ‘Lines Of Sight’
LADY LAMB ‘Even In The Tremor’
Shana Cleveland has been beguiling listeners for years in her role as the superlative frontwoman for elastic surf rockers La Luz. Now Cleveland is evolving her sound on the new solo full-length Night of the Worm Moon, a serene album that flows like a warm current while simultaneously wresting open a portal to another dimension.
The invigorating and powerful debut solo album Lines of Sight by Australian-born, Liverpool-based composer, saxophonist and founder of Immix Ensemble, Daniel Thorne.
Even in the Tremor signifies the arrival of her most sonically soaring and brutally honest album to date. Recorded with producer Erin Tonkon (David Bowie/Blackstar).
Hardly Art LP/CD
Erased Tapes LP/CD
Ba Da Bing! LP/CD
ZIG ZAGS ‘They’ll Never Take Us Alive’
HOLIDAY GHOSTS ‘West Bay Playroom’
"“This album, our first with Riding Easy, was written over the last year. It reveals our longtime roots, our enduring love (all hail!) to the early punk of our hero(ines) Dead Moon and The Wipers (forever!) but friends, don’t be misled...this is a METAL record - of the true blue, headbangin’, riff-ridin’, no-bullshit - kind.”
Radical rock group UT originated in the downtown NYC No Wave scene and were inheritors of the collision between rock, free jazz and the avant-garde. ‘Conviction’ is their first studio album from 1986 now reissued with photos, lyrics and introduction by Stewart Lee.
“Falmouth’s finest blend primal garage rock, rock n roll, DIY Punk, blues and giddy, exuberant tunefulness ****” – The Guardian
THE OH SEES ‘The Cool Death of Island Raiders’
CHERRY PICKLES ‘Cherry Pickles Will Harden Your Nipples’
V/A ‘ Jobcentre Rejects – Ultra Rare NWOBHM 78-82’
Conceived over a bucks fizz binge in Birmingham UK early 2018, Cherry Pickles comes at you like the base-ment band you always wanted to start. “cheeky fun for fans of The Cramps, Beat Happening and The Gories” – Brooklyn Vegan
Twelve tracks licensed from rare and hard to find New Wave Of British Heavy Metal-singles originally released in England 1978-1982. Kind of a Nuggets, Pebbles or Killed By Death for NWOBHM.
Riding Easy LP/CD
Castle Face LP/CD
“We here at Castle Face are not afraid to get our shins dirty mucking around in the stacks and we’re well aware of an out-of-press gap of Oh Sees releases right before 2006 when we started the label with Sucks Blood. We’re rectifying that and first among these is The Cool Death of Island Raiders.”
Out Records LP/C
On The Dole Records LP/CD
HARE & THE HOOFE ‘Hare & The Hoofe’
ELA ORLEANS ‘Movies For Ears
Lots of sticky punk heart resin-layered in a futuristic-scanning bionic bop. For fans of Solid Space, Tubeway Army, The Units, The Screamers, and glittery black nail polish.
Pitched somewhere between The Who, The Stooges, ELO, Sparks, Pink Floyd, Voivod,Pete Townshend, Brainiac, Bowie and Judas Priest, The Terror of Melton is a headspinning,ambitious journey.
A retrospective collection of works by Polish-born, Glasgow-based artist Ela Orleans which navigates almost two decades of songwriting in the heart of the global pop underground.
"Like a drugged-up wizard on a BMX" – Prog Magazine
“..her illuminations feel important and hopeful. A stubborn light; someone making great timeless music out of the humdrum of the everyday.” – Stephen Pastel
Castle Face LP/CD
Night School LP/CD
TALES BAR SIDE: FROM THE
I’m drunk. Shit the bed I’m drunk. My shot pouring is wonky. My peripheral is wobbly. My voice is so highpitched people squint when they listen. I keep forgetting to charge people for their drinks and I just dribbled when I laughed – yes, I am drunk. My manager catches me throwing empty glasses into the bin. He calls out my name when I start flicking plastic shot glasses off the bar and into the crowds beyond. I tell him they’re cracked, flicking the last of the shot glasses off the bar. He holds his stare just long enough for me to understand he’s not happy. He walks away. It is crazy busy tonight. We’ve been constantly fivedeep at the bar for hours now. The front windows have steamed up completely and I’m trapped in someone’s meaty fart cloud. The unforgiving heat makes the fart almost chewable. I ask one of the barmen why old man farts always smell of beef Hula-Hoops. He can’t hear me over the music. So I ask him why he’s wearing paedophile glasses. He tells me just likes them. 50
Behind the bar, there is broken glass kicked into its corners. Unbroken glasses cover the entire bar. The back bar is dripping with spirits and renegade ice cubes. Customers continue to wave their money. Anything I lean against I stick to, and my teeth taste like Sambuca. Three middle-aged ladies dressed as pink cowboys try to get my attention behind me. A large black puddle of Guinness dribbles and grows at the far end of the bar. I stumble across, flicking off the tap with plenty of violence and scream out that whoever left the Guinness tap running should come and clean this twat up. Four sweaty barmen turn and look at me. They look at each other and tell me its mine. See I knew that. I realised halfway through shouting at them. I was hoping no one else had noticed. I thought I could style it out somehow with some type of Machiavellian manoeuvre. Pass the greasy baton of blame to that great other. The ones that pay little attention. But shit the bed it is mine. That would be why this guy at the bar is following me around with his eyes. This must be his ten pound note in my
hand. I take a newspaper off the bar, unfold it, and lay it over the Guinness puddle. I lift the paper back up and peel off the ten pound note. A man leans over the bar and waves his hand a couple of inches away from my face. He smiles and asks if I’m serving. Sure I say, looking across the bar. He tells me his order. I turn back and watch his mouth move around a bit. I have no idea. So I pour him a Carling and hope for the best. He looks like a Carling guy. He has an unassuming face and a dress sense that screams out absolutely nothing but necessity. Yet he smells like a bag of old coins passing through a whiskey barrel full of musk and lifelong disappointment. He leans over the bar some more and says he likes my top, but it would look better on his bedroom floor. We both notice his spittle land on my face. We say nothing and I walk away, wiping my face on the sleeve of a staff member’s jacket. I decide I’ll do some glass collecting instead. Hell why not. Those notes are still going to be waved in my face when I get back. That sea of eyes will still be annoyed. The same old guy will still be ordering his £100 round, one drink at a time. I tell no one and disappear. I squeeze myself into the gaps of dancing bodies and head towards the far end of the bar. Shit, I forgot to charge the spittle man for his Carling. Too late now. The crowd fill the spaces I squeezed through. I look back and he is nowhere to be seen. The dance floor is soaked from dropped drinks and people kick glasses around as they dance. I see the DJ making angry faces at a young guy clinging to the DJ booth and insisting on pressing buttons. I watch the DJ slap the guy’s hand away from his laptop. I wave over the doorman standing by the entrance to the smoking area. I say a bunch of words that neither he nor I understand or hear. He just follows the direction of my pointing finger. The smoking area is beyond full capacity. People are smoking over the shoulders of other people. You can
actually see the smoke billowing out from the open door. It looks intense. I decide there’s no chance of me getting through that. So I head across to the other end of the bar, stacking up glasses in my right hand as I go. Stopping only for a wee dance as I pass across the dance floor. It’s the sensible option. It means I get to cut a rug while I watch the doorman drag out pressy-button guy by his neck. I stick my thumb up to the DJ and nod. He waves me over to the side of the booth and shouts in my ear that pressy-button guy kept asking for some Phil Collins. What a bastard. I would love to dance to some Phil Collins right about now, but I shake my head, roll my eyes, and continue collecting glasses. A man passed out on one of our sofas still holds a drink by his side. He is head up, mouth open and filled with cigarettes his friends are currently filling. I put down my stack of glasses, take out a marker pen from my back pocket and write ‘bellend’ on his forehead. I tell his friends not to worry, I know Luke as well. I tell them he’ll thank me for it tomorrow. I pick up my stack of glasses, take the drink from Luke’s hand and squeeze up to the bar to deposit my empties, drinking the rest of Luke’s drink before I put it down. I wince as I realise I spiked it with over-proof rum. Lots of over-proof rum. I burp until a little bit of sick fills my mouth. I swallow it back down and decide glass collecting is too intense. Perhaps there’s something on the other side of the bar I can pretend to do.
lied and told him he had white powder coming out of his nose. They laugh some more and I catch them all independently wiping their noses, or looking at their reflections along the mirrors of the back bar as they serve. Man alive! I’m not just drunk, I’m Keith Moon drunk. I am the booze-soaked plimsoll of Oliver Reed, with hours of work still to be done. Shit-the-bed. The wobble is creeping in from my peripheral and all I can taste is vomity-rum. I can feel the earth spin on its creepy axis. And I suspect I’m about to enter my blackout hours. A period of time where I’m guaranteed to not remember anything. But when I wake tomorrow, I will know that I was there. That I existed, in some grizzly form or state. And I will eventually know of its existence, but first, I will feel its detached shame. I will nurse its blur of embarrassment. Yet I still won’t know its details. So I will beg for its details. Beg myself for details. Details just waiting to be unveiled as soon as I’ve stopped apologising to everyone by text, before I’ve thrown up, and after I’ve got out of bed. And I guarantee you, as I stand by the kettle, wrapped in my duvet, with shaky hands trying to put sugar in my tea, those details will reveal themselves. And my response will be to cringe and throw up in the kitchen sink, all at once. And I might even cry a little bit, just before I laugh. Words by Shelly Gormless Artwork by Red Clarke
Four angry barmen and one unsatisfied manager look at me. I grab the glasses I collected as a way of making a point that I have been working. Luckily, I only dropped half of those glasses. Could’ve been worse. If I had fully committed myself to glass collecting, I would have broken a lot more. Customers continue to clap and whoop at the broken glass. I take a bow, kiss my middle fingers at them and sweep the glass to the side. My manager puts his hand on my shoulder and tells me to just focus on serving. I tell him he has white powder coming out of his left nostril. He immediately takes his hand off my shoulder and makes his way downstairs, rubbing his nose. I decide to apologise to all four angry barmen. I tell them the good times made me do it. They laugh and ask where the manager went. I tell them I
ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATIVE James Ward of Pretend, a Leeds-based community of creatives, wrote an interesting piece for Pretend Online last year titled, ‘Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities’. It compares two sell-out gigs simultaneously occurring at the Brudenell Social Club, one headlined by the jazz, afro-beat influenced Necktr, and the other by alternative-rock Fizzy Blood, identified as a group that can ‘go national’. Ward concludes that while both have great live sets, and both had excellent support from local talent, the more enthused, youthful crowd was at the Necktr event, symbolising a shift in power in the Leeds live music scene away from indie-rock and towards something ‘jazzier’. Now, while I can’t quite reach the same conclusions, I resonate with the sentiment. I too now find alternative-rock gigs an unattractive proposition when compared with, well, the alternatives. This is not due to a lack of talent; Leeds has an large array of excellent acts that you would identify as post-punk, shoegaze, lo-fi, and so on, but this is down to the traditional touring model that these acts often find themselves operating within, and the cultural consequences that comes along with doing so. A band signs to a touring agency, such as X-Ray Touring, who in turn deals with an exclusive promoter for a 54
city, such as Futuresound, who in turn typically put on events at a limited number of established venues. If you want to eventually be playing bigger venues to a wider audience, then engaging in this model is not only understandable, but unless the band happens to possess the nous required to organise a tour and ability to finance themselves, then some form of outside expertise is essential. But being attached to a promoter that almost exclusively uses a select few venues limits what events bands can play, and where they play them. Bands can counter contractual restrictions and play the events they want to by performing under a different name, or not announcing it until the day of the event. Vocalist Ben Phillips, formerly of the D-Beat crossover thrash band Tosserlad, shared an anecdote which, while relating to the world of punk and not alternative-rock, nonetheless exemplified the restrictive nature of touring contracts: “We played a DIY gig, a big venue, about 800 capacity, and later on in the bill, after we played, was an unannounced secret headline act with a lot of speculation around who it could have been. Part of the rumour mill were the now successful Slaves, and sure enough maybe an hour before their set we start seeing burly blokes
dragging in sound equipment, cabs, all with Slaves branding, but due to the contract that they’re on, they couldn’t announce that they were playing this DIY punk gig; apparently their management were trying to deter them. They played the gig, fair play to them, that’s their bread and butter base as it were, but they couldn’t state they were and had to do it on the sly.” While contractual restrictions are an issue that a touring band has to face, there’s then the impact that the model has on the local support. It can be an exciting opportunity to be on a bill at an established venue with a prestige promoter attached, regardless of whether they’ve heard of the act they’re opening for. It’s common however for the promoter to agree to let a venue host one well-known act in return for putting on a handful of gigs where a loss is likely, either due to the touring band being complete unknowns in the UK, or the event being midweek. If an audience doesn’t turn out, this goes from being an exciting opportunity to a demoralising experience. More and more gigs are being hosted in everything-under-one-roof, shopping mall-esque structures. It’s hard to imagine a post-punk, indie-rock revelation happening in a venue that doubles up as a steak house. Last year, private redevelopment projects and increased rental rates have seen the demise of independent venues such as Sheffield’s The Lughole, a DIY practice space that was proudly ‘run by the punks for the punks’; the forced relocation of Leeds’ Art Hostel; and the closure of the Lady Beck studio and project space. In January, Private Eye reported Lancaster Council’s efforts to evict the non-profit Lancaster Music Co-Op, which has provided affordable rehearsal and recording space for local musicians for over 30 years, for redevelopment purposes. These spaces act as creative hubs which serve the artistic community, and it is in further closures where the gravest threat to a city’s arts culture lies. In the face of such cultural threat, the housing of gigs in venues where
music is just one of several revenue streams is unattractive to say the least, regardless of the talent on show. So what are the alternatives? A diverse 2017 all-dayer hosted at rehearsal space turned collective independent venue, CHUNK, featured the drone soundscapes of Gloomy Planets, the sludgy doom of Groak, powerviolence trio Lugubrious Children, and the complex noise rock of Irk to name just a few acts. There was a lot to love about the event: the cans were cheap, the varied line up was lengthy at over 20 acts, all profits were put back into the venue (so a much needed second toilet could be added), and the place was absolutely heaving by the time the much-loved Cowtown headlined, adding an intense, exciting energy to the room. There’s a much complimented sense of community around the DIY scene, exemplified in how bands wearing each others merch isn’t a rarity, you see familiar faces from event to event, and musicians collaborate and form new projects. While you can apply the same points regarding familiar faces and collaboration to the alternative-rock scene (last year saw post-punk Treeboy & Arc team up with Bradford’s melodic Glass Mountain to form new project Wilted), a true sense of community never quite translates. It should go without saying that commercial potential is the key factor in this, and in the face of such potential, success is often measured in terms of distance away from the local scene. Just to be clear, saying that there’s less of a community vibe around more accessible music doesn’t mean that I feel musicians shouldn’t pursue doing what they love as a career. Musicians should absolutely be able to pursue their interests at a professional level, and now appears to be the healthiest time in a many a year to be doing so. Andrew Harrison writes in their January New Statesman piece ‘Resurrection songs’ that, “after many years of being buffeted by the digital hurricane, a humbled music business could finally be settling down to a new and
possibly secure normal. Revenues are now rising at their fastest rate since 1995.” Support is available to help people try to find their way into the industry, whether it be in the form of an industry night with a panel of experts, radio stations committed to upcoming artists like BBC Introducing, or labels that give acts the opportunity to have their own 7” release. The drawback of each these support mechanisms however is that they teach artists how to make themselves more visible and appealing to established institutions, and little about the tangible benefits of remaining independent from them. There’s something quite nauseating about industry dinosaurs advising young adults on how to have a better social media presence. What I do believe is that accessible acts can still pursue professional ambition while learning lessons from the DIY approach. While awaiting opportunities to open for a touring group, more bands should take the daunting step of putting on their own gigs. In doing so they can play alongside a headliner of their choosing at an independent venue that is both capable of holding enough people to turn a profit, but intimate enough to generate atmosphere. Paying for this is undoubtedly frightening, but with a sensibly selected line-up and determined promotional campaigning, generating profit from event organisation is about logistics more so than luck. If in need of help promoting they can reach out to graphic designers looking for an opportunity to get their work out there, or ask for advice from promoters on where to begin. If in need of setting a decent mood for the night, why not enlist the aid of a local a visual artist. They can network with like-minded musicians that may similarly see value in self-promotion in order to alleviate some of the financial burden. Rinse and repeat this approach and soon smaller acts will have supported a handful of crowd-pulling headliners and kept the profit from doing so, earnings that can be reinvested in future events. Don’t get me wrong, acts are wisely already striking this balance, but not in nearly enough numbers to assist in the prevention further cultural decline, and not nearly as often as the now more attractive alternatives to indie rock. Words by Jack O’Halloran Artwork by Ben Sargent
WHO: HERD MOVER CHOSEN BY: SHELLY GORMLESS WHERE: BRIGHTON FOR FANS OF: PIG DESTROYER IRON MONKEY EYEHATEGOD
WHO: DROOL CHOSEN BY: SAM DURNEEN WHERE: WALSALL FOR FANS OF: ARCTIC MONKEYS SUNDARA KARMA BLOSSOMS
WHO: JOVIALE CHOSEN BY: JAKE CROSSLAND WHERE: LONDON FOR FANS OF: NADINE SHAH NILUFER YANYA CRACK CLOUD
WHO: TOMM¥ €A$H CHOSEN BY: IZZIE BEIRNE WHERE: ESTONIA FOR FANS OF: A G COOK DIE ANTWOOD DORIAN ELECTRA
WHO: INCA TERN CHOSEN BY: JACK O’HALLORAN WHERE: LEEDS FOR FANS OF: YO LA TENGO TORTOISE MOGWAI
WHO: ROXY GIRLS CHOSEN BY: JEAN PAVITT WHERE: SUNDERLAND FOR FANS OF: DUDS OMNI GANG OF FOUR
WHO: BLACK PUDDING CHOSEN BY: HENRY O’LOUGHLIN WHERE: LEEDS FOR FANS OF: FAT WHITE FAMILY BLOODY KNEES SHAME
WHO: SECRET FLIGHT CHOSEN BY: BEN SARGENT WHERE: MILTON KEYNES FOR FANS OF: JULEE CRUISE BEACH HOUSE JOHN MAUS
CONTRIBUTORS’ CHOICE’ 59
CATTLE SUEP UNCLE BUZZARD POLEVAULTER JOANNE INSIDE JOKES SECRET FLIGHT AUNT LUCY MANNY BIANCO CGI HAND
BOWL CUT PRESENTS
WHARF CHAMBERS | JUNE 9TH | 2:30-11PM | £7 ADV | £8 OTD | WHARF CHAMBERS IS A MEMBERS CLUB. YOU MUST BE A MEMBER, OR GUEST OF A MEMBER, TO ATTEND
Monomyth Records and Friends Present
March 2019 Tour
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BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
IAN SWEET HEADROW HOUSE
01/03 02/03 09/03
TANK AND THE BANGAS
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
IGLOOGHOST SELF ESTEEM
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
MOUSE OUTFIT POPPY AJUDHA
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
CHILDREN OF ZEUS BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
THE DELE SOSIMI AFROBEAT VIBRATION
FRANKIE STEW & HARVEY GUNN
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
LEEDS UNI STYLUS
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BLAK TWANG, RODNEY P + TY
LOYLE CARNER (SOLD OUT)
JUNGLE (SOLD OUT)
LOST UNDER HEAVEN
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
DORIAN CONCEPT & JAMESZOO
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
BELGRAVE MUSIC HALL
SLUM VILLAGE X ABSTRACT ORCHESTRA
JON HOPKINS 02 ACADEMY
MIKE SKINNER (DJ)
BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB
Issue #6 is all about culture. Featuring Wooze, Bas Jan, Estella Adeyeri, The Spook School, Lewsberg,