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Quench JANUARY FEBRUARY 2016 2016

Issue Issue 156 157






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Quench EDITOR Emily Giblett


DEPUTY EDITOR Hollie Cambridge FEATURES Emily Jones @Quench_Features

COLUMNIST Maria Mellor


CULTURE Beau Beakhouse George Caulton @QuenchCulture

FASHION & BEAUTY Jamila Gandhi @QuenchFashion TRAVEL Alice Dent Lucy Pierce MUSIC Jack Glasscock Erin Gillespie James Ivory @Quench_Travel @QuenchMusic

VIDEO GAMES Tom Morris Saman Izadyar @QuenchGames

FILM & TV Eleanor Parkyn Sadia Pineda Hameed @QuenchFilm

FOOD & DRINK Zenn Wong Daisy Lane-Murley @Quench_Food

HEAD OF DESIGN Olivia Thomas

DESIGNERS Bryn Evans Eleanor Duffy Alyssa Alamillo Jasper Wilkins Sadia Pineda Hameed Stephany Damyanova Eleanor Parkyn Emily Giblett COLUMN ILLUSTRATOR Naomi Brown SPECIAL THANKS TO Olivia Thomas for being the life and soul of the Quench Design party. Bryn Evans for coming in to help for an hour and staying the whole day. Jason Roberts for coming back to Quench to write a super feature. Elaine, as always for being Student Media Fairy Godmother, and Premiere Cinemas for coming to the rescue in our hour of need and sponsoring the Media Awards so we don’t have to compromise our wine allowance!

Pizza and panic I don’t consider myself an arty person, but I’m proud to announce that I drew that pizza. It’s all thanks to our shiny new graphics tablet that arrived in the post this week. Despite the big student media budget squeeze that saw cutbacks threatening our wine allowance for the Cardiff Student Media Awards, we managed to find a spare £50 to buy this piece of kit and it’s made all the difference. Our designers have put it to better use throughout the magazine than I could ever attempt to so keep a look out for some eye-wateringly beautiful design. It’s got to that time of year again where all the third-years I know have started the seemingly endless scramble for grad schemes and internships. As a second-year I can’t deny certain stirrings of panic about my future that have manifested over the last few weeks - I only hope this panic isn’t planning to hang around until graduation because that’s over a year away and I’m already precariously close to becoming a gibbering wreck. In my experience, everyone who seems qualified to give careers advice will generally tell you something along the lines of ‘work experience is as valuable as your degree to an employer’, but it can be difficult to find something to fit around Uni, Ultimate Frisbee and the Hogwarts Society. So this is where I make a shameless plug: STUDENT MEDIA IS THE ANSWER TO YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE WISHES. I’m not limiting this to Quench, although we’d love you to join our team. Whether you are more comfortable behind the camera, in front of the microphone, or interviewing a group of people from london who identify as unicorns, Gair Rhydd, Xpress, CUTV or Quench have something to offer everyone - and it is perfect to fit around your timetable. We are about to launch our recruitment campaigns for next years exec teams so keep an eye on ‘Cardiff Student Media’ on Facebook and @cdfstudentmedia on Twitter for the latest opportunities to get involved. I’m not ashamed to say that this issue of Quench is fabulous throughout. Jason Roberts makes a triumphant return to the features section with our cover story - a fascinating discussion of the worrying increase in the use of steroids by our generation. Culture investigates the link between art and politics, and travel gives you the lowdown on road trips to take this summer. As always, I hope you enjoy reading this issue - if you have any comments, suggestions or general anger to vent, please don’t hesitate to fling it our way @QuenchMag.

Emily Giblett



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C O N T E N T S 66



43 F E AT U R E S







Steroids: All The Rage

There’s been a massive increase in steroid use in the UK, but what are the pains that come with the gains?

Think Before You Ink

Shit tattoos: we share the horror stories


16 18

Culture and Politics In what ways do culture and the arts interact with politics, and should they?

Cultural Icons

Our contributors share their personal cultural icons who have inspired and continue to inspire




Maria Mellor channels her spirit animal Shia Lebouf and attempts to motivate us herself

Back To Basics With organic beauty products on the rise, Quench our favourites


The Gift Of Thrift

The beauty of thrift; it’s not hip unless it’s come off a charity shop rail!


22 24

Take Me Back

Our monthly feature returns once more as we reminisce about our favourite holidays.

Road Trips

Get your fold-out maps and marker pens ready, we’re taking you through some of the best road trips to take


40 44


Pulling in Video Games Romance is in the digital air. Elis Doyle gives us his top tips for pulling in the virtual world

Nothing But The Hoof Let’s talk about horses in video games.


56 61

Not So Black and White Amidst the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Maria Mellor discusses what the problem is.

Cartoons For Adults? Cartoons aren’t just for kids anymore!


From Now On Fest



Interview: Bloc Party


World Restaurant Reviews

Get the low-down on From Now On at Chapter

Jamie Williamson interviews Bloc Party following the release of their latest album ‘Hymns’

Clean eating is now a movement of sorts. Emily Jones discusses

Quench Food + Drink review restaurants around Cardiff serving foods from around the world





A cocktail of societal pressures, poor education, and widespread availability have resulted in a massive increase in steroid use across the UK. Is there anything we can do to kick the habit? “The whole ‘roid rage’ thing? Load of bollocks.”

If anybody knows that, it’s Dave Crosland. As I talk on the phone to him, I put his name into a search engine for what must be the hundredth time this afternoon. I simply can’t comprehend the size of the man. Standing at 6’2 and weighing 28st, his entire frame is covered in gargantuan slabs of muscle that look like they could break the bonds of his skin at any moment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s known within the bodybuilding community as ‘The Freak’. Even on the phone, he sounds big. Throughout the past year, there have been a number of media stories that indicate that steroid use is on the rise, warning of the dire consequences that could befall both the NHS and users themselves. Now normally, it’d be easy to dismiss this sort of reporting as nothing more than a good old-fashioned moral panic, another boogieman fabricated by the yellow press in a desperate attempt to get a few extra copies moved off the shelf. But the trend is something I’ve noticed myself. Former schoolfriends - who I haven’t seen in years - will upload pictures to Instagram and Facebook of their chiselled pumpedup bodies, a far cry from the doughy, pasty physiques I remember. Of course, it would be deeply unfair to accuse every single person who’s transformed their body of having used to steroids to do so. But conversely, it’d be naÏve to suggest that your mate Leon’s new acne is just a by-product of his ultra highprotein diet. Steroids aren’t being used by everyone, and it’d be irresponsible to suggest that users are anything but a minority amongst gym goers. But it’s time to acknowledge that the problem exists, and it’s


not going away. This is why I’ve sought out Dave, to find out what’s behind the boom. As a man who’s taken steroids on and off for over 20 years, he’s seen the changes to how steroids are made and sold, as well as the change in the types of people who are taking them. After all, steroids have been around for years, but until recently, they’ve pretty much been the preserve of bodybuilders. Now, they’re used by men of various ages, shapes and sizes, from snapback-wearing, fake-tanning, chest-waxing überLADs, to middle-aged men hoping to recapture some of the masculinity they feel has been lost to age. Dave’s also spoken before to a variety of publications – VICE, The Guardian, and The Independent to name but a few – about both his own experiences on steroids, and has called on numerous occasions for greater awareness and education about their effects. A week after our conversation, he appears on Reggie Yates’ BBC Three show Dying For a Six Pack, and says a lot of the same things to Reggie on camera as he did to me on the phone. Only this time, he makes the same salient points with blood pouring out of his head; his blood pressure is so high that an extremely intense set on the leg press has caused one of his veins to literally burst. He seems like a good starting point. We begin talking about how one goes about obtaining steroids, and it’s clear from the outset that the Internet has made that aspect easier than ever before. “Type ‘steroids for sale’ into Google and see how many hits you get,” he asks. I feel his request is more imperative than rhetorical, so I oblige. Immediately I’m bombarded by a multitude of sites claiming that their EXTREME GEAR!!! will make me BIGGER!!! and it’s all 100% LEGAL!!! I’m somewhat doubtful, and Dave says I should be. “This is a conservative guess, but I’d say 50% of the steroids sold in this country today aren’t what they say they are,” he claims, although he clarifies that this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone who purchases steroids online is being sold sherbet. He elaborates, “You might go and buy testosterone decanoate, which is a slow-

FEATURES acting testosterone, but what you might end up being sold is testosterone propionate, which is a fast-acting testosterone, and a lot cheaper to manufacture. The amateur will still feel something, and not realise they’ve got the wrong thing.” Surely then, it’d be reasonable to assume that the lack of quality control and regulation would have a negative impact on the health of users? But according to Dave, the implications in this regard aren’t that big. “You very rarely get bad gear on the marketplace,” he says, “And if you do, it’s very quickly found out by the user population, and very quickly shunned,” he says. However, it’s well documented that even ‘pure’ steroids can present serious health issues. Dave details his own problems with headaches, as well as stomach and liver issues, and bouts of acne. He neglects to mention his occasionally bleeding head. Perhaps it’s such a regular occurrence, he no longer considers it a problem. Other users have experienced more severe side effects. Author Craig Davidson underwent a 16-week cycle as research for his book The Fighter, and as a result suffered from cranial swelling, testicular atrophy, as well as gynomastia - the growing of breast tissue due to the build-up

of oestrogen in the body, known to bodybuilders and Fight Club fans as ‘bitch-tits’. But when I caught up with him, he told me that the worst side effect of all was the swelling of his prostate, which meant that he was awake up to 15 times a night trying to urinate. He said, “It never felt like my bladder was empty. I was in my early 30’s, too young to have those kinds of issues. And they’re issues that persist, on and off, to this day - and ones that I imagine I’ll be dealing with the rest of my life.” Tragically, there are also rare instances where users have died. Steroids have a low mortality rate compared to other drugs, but often this makes the few deaths that do occur even more harrowing, usually due to the young age of the victims as well as the severity of their symptoms. One example that received particularly heavy media attention was the death of Oli Cooney, from Bradford, who died in 2013. It was reported that as a result of his steroid habit, he suffered a heart attack and three strokes, before finally succumbing to a second heart attack. He was just 20 years old. ***

It’s all chemical nonsense, it’s not really YOU, but that’s immaterial at some point. It feels enough like truth that you accept it as such. 7


My body had its limits. Well, ‘roids pushed those limits, blew them away.


Other users have experienced more severe side effects. Author Craig Davidson underwent a 16-week cycle as part of the research for his book The Fighter. He endured, among other things, cranial swelling, testicular atrophy, as well as gynomastia - the growing of breast tissue due to the build-up of oestrogen in the body, known to bodybuilders and Fight Club fans as ‘bitch-tits’. But when I caught up with him, he told me that the worst side effect of all was the swelling of his prostate, which meant that he was awake up to 15 times a night trying to urinate. He said, “It never felt like my bladder was empty. I was in my early 30’s, too young to have those kinds of issues. And they’re issues that persist, on and off, to this day - and ones that I imagine I’ll be dealing with the rest of my life.” Tragically, there are also rare instances where users have died. Steroids have a low mortality rate compared to other drugs, but often this makes the few deaths that do occur even more harrowing, usually due to the young age of the victims as well as the severity of their symptoms. One example that received particularly heavy media attention was the death of Oli Cooney, from Bradford, who died in 2013. It was reported that as a result of his steroid habit, he suffered a heart attack and three strokes, before finally succumbing to a second heart attack. He was just 20 years old. So why is steroid use so prevalent nowadays, even when the risks are plain to see? “It’s a combination of several factors,” says Crosland. “There’s more social pressure on young men than there’s ever been… it’s not just pressure from their peer groups, but pressure from the media as well. We’re given a very false

ideal by the media, and by advertising. A lot of the physiques you see have been built with drugs, but that’s never admitted. You couple that with a society that’s inherently lazy, a society where there’s a pill for every ill, a society that wants instant gratification… when all these things come together and you have the mass availability of drugs, you get people that get frustrated and say, “Fuck it, I want to look like this, I’m gonna take these.”’ Dave’s assessment of our society seems like a bit of a sweeping generalisation, but when it comes to the different pressures facing young men today, I only have to look as far as myself to see that he’s absolutely right. I go to the gym four times a week, along with the majority of my friends. Our aims differ, to an extent. A few of us go to counteract our disgracefully unhealthy student lifestyles, reasoning that being able to bench 120kg will somehow make it acceptable to two whole pizzas for dinner, so long as we say we’re bulking. Others take it considerably more seriously. But in one goal we’re united: we want to look good, and looking good means being big. None of us have taken steroids, but we’ve all consumed more than our fair share of protein shakes, creatine pills, and a wide variety of other commonly used supplements. It’s not exactly hard to see other young men like us looking for something to take their training to another level, other young men who are willing to accept the risks that come with taking a substance made in a laboratory, rather than one made in your own body. And this is perhaps the most obvious explanation why steroids are so popular. Regardless of the harm they do to the human body, people are taking them because they work. Davidson explains, “I’d plateaued. My body was what it was, did what it did. It had limits. Well, ‘roids pushed those limits, blew them away. It was mesmerizing and addicting, that feeling. It’s strange at any age to feel like some of the things that limited you don’t anymore. Like taking a pill that increases your IQ by 30 points. It’s all chemical nonsense, it’s not really YOU, but that’s immaterial at some point. It feels enough like truth that you accept it as such.” It’s important to note that some men aren’t just after aesthetics when they take steroids. More and more amateur sportsmen are turning to drugs, mostly those playing contact sports where strength and power are prized assets. This might seem a little extreme, considering at amateur level there’s little more at stake than pride, but this practice is reflective of how far steroid culture has come into the mainstream. Chris*, a student who has played rugby and American football, spoke to me about his decision to undertake a pro-hormone cycle in order to increase his performance. He explained that while pro-hormones don’t work in the same way as traditional anabolic steroids, they are synthetic substances that raise precursors to testosterone, which subsequently raise the level of testosterone within the body. Because of this, both the bodybuilding community and the media have labelled them “designer steroids.” Part of Chris’s decision to start using was that his sporting commitments were holding back his progress in the gym. “I’ve always wanted to better myself, no matter what training program or diet I tried,”

FEATURES he said, “and whilst playing a sport, my body couldn’t make any strength progress because of how sore or tired I was. After consideration, and reviews from friends who previously tried it, I decided, why not?” You can come to your own conclusion about the root of the problem, but one thing’s for certain: the trend is only on the rise. Official statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimate that there are around 60,000 users in the UK, but these figures consist only of those who end up in police custody. And since the law surrounding steroids is pretty relaxed in comparison to other drugs (they’re illegal to sell, but they’re legal to buy, so long as they’re bought for personal consumption and not distribution), many of those who do find themselves in are often suppliers, rather than users. Consequently, because the law is structured to criminalise the few dealers rather than the many users, the scale of the problem is much larger than official statistics would indicate. Steroid expert Professor Julien Baker, from the University of the West of Scotland says, “there are needle exchanges in Cardiff and Glasgow which say they’ve seen a 600% increase for steroid users over 10 years. The real figure is definitely in the hundreds of thousands.” It’s pretty clear that our steroid problem isn’t going away any time soon, so how can we control it? Because the current law attempts to avoid criminalising personal users, some critics believe the current system to be too weak, and have called for more severe penalties. But the general belief among users, the medical community, and most significantly among lawmakers, is that criminalising users will allow the root causes of the problem to go unaddressed, as well as creating new problems. This stance seems to run contrary to the punitive mentality that has so often undermined previous pieces of drug legislation in the UK, which is both refreshing and appropriate, considering that the evidence would suggest steroid use is far more of a social issue than a criminal one. Instead of harsher penalties, many have campaigned for greater awareness and education, a stance echoed by Crosland. He said, “I’m not anti-steroid, I’m not pro-steroid, I believe it’s a personal choice. But, what I am for is greater education, so that people can make informed decisions. I would look at a more comprehensive drug program within schools, and in general, a change in the way we approach drug use within this country across the board.” This sentiment is echoed by Nathan Coles, a natural bodybuilder and personal trainer, who has never used steroids. Coles believes, “Everybody has the right to do what they want with their own body. If someone was considering [using steroids], I’d probably just make sure they’re fully aware of the risks.” There is that progress is being made in this regard, and that’s largely because steroids have moved so far into mainstream fitness culture, that the issue is being discussed more than ever before. Some large gym chains have recognised that this is an issue that they can no longer ignore, and taken the positive step of putting needle-bins in their changing rooms. But Coles, who works for the national chain PureGym,

believes that’s all gyms can do for their members. He says, “It’d be pretty hard to police. For a start, it’s not like steroids are a pre-workout that you have to take to the gym. No gym is going to blood test people, and they’re still paying for membership, so I imagine most gyms wouldn’t care.” Whatever the reasons for the increase in steroid usage, whether you believe it’s due to media pressure, mass availability or sheer laziness, it’s become clear that this is a problem we can no longer ignore. Calls for better education are a start, and it’s encouraging to see that as steroid use has become more accepted, more and more information has been made available to both current and potential users to make them aware of the dangers. But ultimately, if we truly want to eradicate the shady online marketplaces and the underground labs where the quality of these products can be compromised, then there must be a conversation about legalisation and regulation in order to protect the health of users. The conversation regarding steroids - and indeed many other drugs – has too often been of eliminating their existence, and seeing anything other than the completion of that goal as a failure. It’s time for that attitude to change; rather than looking to kick our steroid habit, the focus must now be on managing and regulating it instead. Otherwise, users will continue to buy from questionable suppliers, health issues will continue to go unaddressed, and in rare, tragic cases, people will continue to die. *Real name withheld. JASON ROBERTS






he art of tattooing has been present in many cultures for centuries and tattoos have their place in ancient civilisations, from the Greeks to the Romans, marking identities for good and bad purposes. Following the proliferation of tattoos within modern society in recent years, more and more of us are getting inked as a way to personify our identities, represent our interests and passions, or simply to just to look a whole lot cooler (if not a little badass, if we’re being honest). As a permanent marker on your skin, the majority of us will think these things through seriously – with months of planning and discussion. As drinking culture continues to characterise the way students and young people spend their time and money however, a slightly more liberal attitude towards the art of tattooing has developed rapidly. If the E4 television show Tattoo Fixers is anything to go by, getting inked whilst inebriated on holiday with a bunch of friends is slowly becoming a ritual in itself. One can imagine getting a shit drawing on your thigh or, most popularly, your arse, was not part of the original holiday itinerary. Is it all just fun and games? Is that little squiggle that cost you 40 euros in Magaluf a deeply regrettable mistake, or an amusing memento of drunken foolishness? Alex Proud, in his article for The Telegraph, ‘We’re not going to reach peak tattoo until 2025,’ reveals some interesting tat stats. It’s

estimated that approximately one in five of the UK population has a tattoo. This figure rises to one in three among young adults, which is pretty substantial. So with the heightened frequency with which people get tattoos when drunk or abroad, it makes sense that the shock factor of tattoos has decreased significantly. Yet one may ask, is the craze of ‘drunk tattoos’ essentially devaluing the art of tattooing and potentially hindering this growing acceptance within society? Ethan, 21, boasts eleven tattoos in total, all of which he got when ‘probably drunk or at least hungover.’ Collectively, with a group of equally intoxicated friends, he headed out to a tattoo studio to get a tattoo of a duck. ‘It was kind of just for jokes, it’s harmless, you know, lads lads lads,’ he laughs. ‘Most of my mates hate all that shit but in a weird way we all love it too. I don’t think I’d ever get any covered as all the dumb ones are on my chest or calf. So it’s not like anyone would see any unless I wanted them to anyway, although going to the swimming pool or beach is always fun now.’ It is no doubt that somewhat funny tattoos can be great conversation starters, especially when trying to break the ice with a prospective lover at the union on a Saturday night. However, not all quirky tattoos are conversation starters. Some can be offensive and profane and probably don’t belong in family pools or beaches, and others, hidden from plain sight, are permanent reminders of drunken ‘bants’ and idiocy that cease to become humorous once the holiday buzz fades. Rory, 20, reminisces of his lads’ holiday in Magaluf with some sheepishness, admitting to getting ‘Fucking run at me’ written in calligraphy, tattooed on his arse cheek in a moment of drunken spontaneity. ‘We passed a tattoo parlour and just though it would be funny. Four of us had them done, but I was so drunk I can barely remember it. I was sort of proud of it at first – it was like a little holiday souvenir of all the crazy fun we had, but now the hilarity has worn off and I do kind of regret it. My mum doesn’t know, she would kill me.’ As a new generation of young people emerges with profanities inked on their arses and various other areas, without any recollection of their decisions, it’s worth questioning whether tattoo parlours should legally be allowed to ink those that can barely stand up, let alone make an informed decision. Drunken tattoos may seem to be all fun and games, especially in the euphoria of being on holiday. However, there are also the health and safety risks to consider when getting a tattoo abroad or drunk. Tattoo laws in foreign countries are nowhere near as strict as they are in the UK, often meaning that tattoo artists may not have licences or a credible health check. The chances of your tattoo getting infected are significantly increased. This is not to say that all foreign tattoo parlours are unhygienic, but one should probably proceed with caution when getting inked on

holiday regardless of your level of intoxication. Excessive consumption of alcohol is also known to thin the blood within our bodies, leading to an increased amount of bleeding. Increased bleeding when going under the needle can interfere with tattoo ink and a tattoo could turn out blotchy and faded – certainly not the masterpiece you were thinking of. And no matter what anyone says, no one really wants a permanent and unintelligible shitty blob inked on them. Yet others offer a much more relaxed view, and perceive drunken tattoos as a fun and unique way to document and remember the best moments in our lives. Matthew, 25, comments that his drunken tattoo serves as a brilliant and individual memento of one of his greatest travelling experiences, involving a messy night in Australia. “We had a bit of a mad one, and we listened to this one song about fifteen times called Reggae Shark and it became a huge thing the whole night. Fast forward to a year later, I’m in Thailand with my friend who was there that night, and we spoke about the Reggae Shark a lot. So we got smashed at a beer buffet, like a regular food buffet but just for beer.” A beer buffet and influence from friends led Matthew to leave Thailand with a tattoo of the elusive Reggae Shark on his back. Matthew is not the only one to fall victim to the combination of alcohol and friendly influence. One questions whether Matthew and many like him would have gone through with such a mad idea had they been sober. The answer is: probably not. Yet not all bad tattoo decisions have been made under the influence of alcohol. Many of us have sober tattoos that we regret later on in life, as our circumstances change with age. A majority of people who have drunk tattoos are not ashamed of their decision. Why should they be? While this craze seems largely to be adopted by those in lad culture, it seems it isn’t just the lads enjoying a bit of post alcohol ink. Sarah, 22, embraces her drunk tattoo. ‘It was a holiday to Ibiza with the girlfriends, I was going through that classic wild phase, you know, when you’re trying to prove a point to your parents. I left Ibiza with a tattoo of an egg on my rib cage. I got an eyebrow piercing too, if you can believe, but yeah anyway I got the egg as it was like a little in-joke among our friends; at the time it seemed like it would be a laugh!’ So maybe drunk tattoos aren’t so bad? Generally speaking, sober tattoos can be just as shameful and full of regret as drunk ones. With so many inked individuals, tattoos are slowly becoming acceptable within the professional workplace; not quite the rebellious marker they once were but rather new modes of selfexpression and individuality. Thanks to methods of laser removal and tattoo cover ups, a drunken mistake can soon be forgotten. Alternatively, if you don’t regret it, it’s like a little souvenir to evoke a – somewhat foggy - memory. Abby Cotton



d e e n e w o d Do we need Pride? Is it a Party or a Protest? February is a busy month for most students. Exams are over, and lectures take over our lives once again. Anticipation for the Six Nations soars, Valentine’s plans are made, and as Student Unions and businesses celebrate LGBT+ History Month, Pride flags are flown all around the country. I often hear people asking why the flags are flying, and why do we need a history month? Everyone has different answers, remarks and opinions on this question but when everyone’s personal situations are different, then why can’t they be? Pride’s, wherever they’re held, allow the LGBT+ community to celebrate diverse uniqueness and personal differences, but also remind us of our community’s shared history. National Student Pride combines the best of both ideas, which is most likely why students from Cardiff University have been in attendance for the past 4 years (and many more to come). Occurring in February of each year, LGBT+ History Month is the perfect time for a collaboration of minds and a celebration of the LGBT+ student community! In its 11 year history, Student Pride has been hosted in Oxford, Manchester and Brighton; and for the past three years has resided at the University of Westminster and GAY/Heaven. Making headlines nationally each year with its star studded panels and hot topic discussions, NSP draws more and more students each year, with 2016 having been its biggest event yet. With over 1500 attendees (my sources tell me, Cardiff University was one of the largest


delegations), from 126 Universities, and joined by over 55 stalls and sponsors for the daytime careers fair. It is truly a unique event. What’s not to love? Meeting new people from all over the country, exploring London and experiencing Soho in all its wonder. But it isn’t just a party Pride never is. There’s so much to see and do at any Pride event, and NSP is no different. Over the past three years I’ve attended, the daytime panels have captured my attention and this year was no different. The passion and drive of the committee and volunteers is clear, shining through during their opening remarks, the debates and talks throughout the day. Hosted for a second year by the adorable James Barr and drag artist ‘Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho’, things start with a bang. NSP founded 11 years ago in response to a homophobic and bigoted rant at Oxford Brooks University. This event is a reminder of homophobia and transphobia on campus, and rejects taboos and stigmas in all areas with 2016’s main focus being the difficult but vital topic of Mental Health. This year’s first panel, ‘RUcomingOut’ was hosted by founder Wayne Dhesi, and joined by Charlie Craggs, of Nail Transphobia, BBC Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts, Sherelle Garwood from the Stonewall Youth Programme and Jaymi Hensley of Union J. Everyone within the community still has to overcome the difficulty of coming out to friends, family and colleagues. In light of this, the panel all seemed to agree that once you take that first step, whether it be self acceptance or confiding in those you love, you’re better for it afterwards. Celebrate coming out for the positive change it can bring!


Similarly to the main panel every year, the Mental Health Discussion was meaningful and thought­provoking, and as something that can affect all of us, gay/bi/ace/straight cis/trans/ intersex, this discussion is needed. This is now particularly important after funding cuts have recently closed mental health charity PACE. Being chaired by Attitude Editor, Matthew Todd, the next hour was spent hearing from: popstar and mental health advocate, Will Young, Taz Edwards-­White, Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at Metro, Bisi Alimi, co-­founder of Kaleidoscope Trust and Jonny Benjamin of the Find Mike campaign. Hearing the statistics on mental health can be shocking, but hearing how disproportionately higher Mental Health can affect LGBT+ people is truly saddening. The panel, spoke honestly and candidly about their own experiences, and how they see themselves and their sexuality. They spoke of the need for awareness of mental health treatment, and the pressing need for it to be treated with the same respect as physical illness. Following on from the panels of the day, there were two events to conclude. Hearing from the Warwick University Rowers and their continued work with Sports Allies is inspiring, as the group’s vision of a world where sport is a beacon of hope and diversity, with a mission to promote sport as an inclusive and supportive route to personal growth for everyone. Pride isn’t the same without a drag queen or two, and this year’s special guest was Alaska, of Drag Race fame, judging four brave students stand up to the sass of a Queen and watching them as they “lip-­sync for their lives”. Hearing the passion and drive of LGBT+ celebrities and activists is just one of the reasons to go to National Student Pride. It’s a celebration of our identities. If you want to see what you missed for yourself you can watch the panels’ and lip­sync online https://www. Or if you want to come for yourself, look for news from CU Pride, the Union’s LGBT+ society For those of you who are still worried about the prospect of coming out, here are some words from members of the LGBT+ community: Sherelle: “Be yourself really. That’s all you can ever be, you can’t really hide that person. Sometimes it’ll be easy, sometimes it’ll be hard; but it’s never permanent, the only thing permanent in life is change, it’ll change and get better and you’ll continue to feel more confident in yourself.”

Jaymi: “There’s nothing better than being fully content and proud of who you are as a person...a little bit of hurt for a lifetime of happiness.” Charlie: “It’s about living authentically, you can try and not be who you are, but it’s only going to take a toll on you and that’s the worst thing you can do for yourself, you need to live and be you. You only get one life... don’t waste it” “I’ve never been happier in myself because I’m finally being me, and I’m finally being true to myself. So just take the leap of faith and do it for yourself, you deserve it.” Adele: “Welcome to the family, because that’s how it feels, like a family.”



TEACHING THE ARTS Beau Beakhouse discusses the teaching establishment and asks ‘is the way we are being taught really working?’


ore than most other subjects, the teaching environment is fundamentally important to the arts. In the sciences and in other areas, teaching is different. Facts and information are the focus. This affects the style of teaching as it becomes less about the teaching environment and more about the functional end. But what does this kind of approach do to human individuality and how does this kind of teaching style affect the arts subjects? Facts are taught from a young age. Rules imposed by family members for safety, regulations at a school. In the best cases this information comes from experience and is imposed with the hope that it will help you in the future. But information of this kind can become dangerous when it is imposed as part of an autocratic system that maintains the status quo, rather than because it has intrinsic worth. Tradition is only valuable if the person being taught it understands why it is there in the first place. And if the person teaching does not constantly assess how and why they teach what they do, there is a real problem. In the average British school this type of learning is rife. Education as an institution encourages teaching from a young age that has no concern for the individual. There are facts, there are the way things are, and any movement in almost any direction is a definite non-starter. It can be seen in the treatment of all that don’t quite fit the ‘teachable’ bracket. They are treated as outliers and uncomfortable anomalies, as if they are at fault, rather than as individuals on the same level with all other individuals. This type of thinking disparages students who are genuinely talented and free thinking, out of practical drive for a smooth running system. And in the end what does it encourage? Homogeneity, similarity, a middle class norm. Mothers on the PTA, friends with the teachers, attending all the open days, with parents that know how the system works and how best to navigate it. This would be fine in itself, if it didn’t come at the cost of all those ‘others’ in any category that don’t quite fit the description. Aside from this, the teaching itself is poor. Most people come out of high school disliking most of the subjects they were taught. It’s almost an acknowledged fact now that education is dull, and that there is no way around it. But the mind-set the institution of education instils is perhaps even more dangerous. We are taught that there are facts, a set of conventions that are ‘how things are’, and conforming to them is of absolute necessity. If you analyse your own thought processes about this, you begin to see how deeply entrenched this is. Difference, in any area, is often seen as dangerous. It has applied throughout history; the ‘other’ has always been seen in this way, whether it’s in terms of race, gender or sexuality. The current era seems to be taking big steps in accepting difference in these areas, as the conflict consistently rages in popular media forms. But this fear of difference has a source, and it is wider than the individual debates mentioned here. Fear of the strange, the unusual, the eccentric, the different, is everywhere. People regulate themselves so they will not be included in these categories. Education should be breaking down these barriers rather than encouraging them.


But after drifting through the education system with reasonable ease, where does the average, or above average student find themselves? At university! After having individualism knocked out of them to varying degrees, university is there - with particularly easy access for those same middle class students - to follow their respective interests instilled in them at an early age by parents and teachers. And once again it’s much of the same; academics of the Arts teaching the work of those that rejected institutions and formulaic thought altogether. Quoting critics of critics of critics about a novel that describes the beauty of nature, the power of direct experience, the importance of individuality. All taught from a barren lifeless seminar room to a ring of trapped, slightly uncomfortable students. It’s strange how the connection between the content of the Arts, and the way they are taught, hasn’t been made. The writers, poets, artists, are often as distant from academia as it is possible to be. Most of those creative people have had to reject influence altogether to become those very same ‘unique’ individuals lauded by the teaching establishment. Surely it makes sense then, to foster an environment that prioritises individuality, that becomes an inspiring environment rather than a limiting one. Where expectations are not dictated or forced upon people. In which social barriers are broken down and progress for everyone is made. Paying lip service to individual thought, whilst creating a system that makes you feel as if you are constantly catching up and trying to discover the murky world of fact, is not an environment that encourages individuality, or any human traits worth having-even if they are useful on your CV. If a system excludes the kind of individuals that it is teaching the work of, there is something seriously wrong with the educational institution. If those creative people feel alienated by the subject they are studying, or feel as if it is out of touch and irrelevant, or worse, a hindrance to them, something needs to be fixed. When will the institutions and the people that learn that the greatest artists, as well as the greatest scientists, still exist and do so today? They cannot see that at this point in time, they have taken the place of the institutions of the old, they have become the limiters of independent thought, that consistently limit and define individual creativity. And ironically, as with all problems, it also comes down to individuals. Every student can probably think of one, maybe two, great teachers that they had at some point during school or university. The effects of that teaching style directly correspond with the student’s care about the subject, their drive, inspiration, excitement, optimism. But unfortunately they are a minority, and usually have to work against the grain of established education in order to get anything positive done. The struggle to be individual in any area is something that is usually fought uphill. But teaching, something that has such a massive impact on people’s lives, can make this struggle far more simple, if the individuals that are a part of it do not succumb to those same conformist tendencies that affect all areas of life.


e r u

t l u C s t u C

I know what you are probably thinking. Whether you are flicking through the magazine on a coffee break or are genuinely reading the articles for interest, I know what you are thinking. No, this is not one of those exceedingly long, tedious and philosophical articles than rambles mindlessly about an element of culture which is misconstrued and quite frankly, dull. Cuts in the Arts industry undeniably affect everyone through some shape or form. Whether you are a regular theatre-goer, budding artist, fervent musician or a lover of literature, Cameron’s

“If we have £40m at the drop of a hat for an Olympic Games opening ceremony, and £160bn for Trident weapons, we have got money for arts and culture.” cuts will affect the cultural wellbeing of you and sadly the overall culture wellbeing of society. But, what is culture? Culture: “the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving”. Indeed, culture is most commonly associated with pretentiousness. Pretentiousness and high culture, such as opera, Shakespeare and Monet. But what if the meaning was turned on its head? What if I said culture affected the youth of today, if it shaped younger generations and educated them about the world and the global cultures. Culture is a science. Culture is geography. Culture is an experimental performance. Culture is encouraging. Culture is contemporary and modern, and culture is history as well as history in the making. Culture is ingrained in our lives and genes which ultimately defines ‘us’. At the start of February 2016, protestors lined outside the National Museum in Cardiff for a mock- funeral procession of arts and culture. Organiser of the event, Rabab Ghazoul claimed that “If we have £40m at the drop of a hat for an Olympic Games opening ceremony,

and £160bn for Trident weapons, we have got money for arts and culture”. As well as this, Ghazoul stated that “Arts and culture is not an idea to decorate a city. We have a multiplicity of arts and culture and we do not want to see our diversity downgraded”. In response to the campaigning, Cardiff City Council stated, as seen by Wales Online, that. “Most of the budget cuts related to the arts are about delivering an alternative delivery model for St David’s Hall and the New Theatre which are heavily subsidised by the council. Rather than closing these buildings, we are working to explore new ways to manage them… With the arts sector, we will continue to work with the Welsh Government and our external partners to promote and celebrate Cardiff as a great place for the arts”. Jonathan Jones from the Guardian newspaper claims that another five years of Cameron’s premiership will reduce the arts to a ‘national low’. Jones’ statement is clearly evidenced by the demise of small theatre societies, such as my local theatre group at home, which are withdrawn of all their government funding and are therefore forced to function on the income of ticket sales and generous donations. Theatre societies, like many other cultural forms, are continuously applying for grants in order to barely hold the infrastructure to the floor, let alone the hope of rejuvenation and development for future endeavours. Rather than dismissing culture,

“Culture is contemporary and modern, and culture is history as well as history in the making. Culture is ingrained in our lives and genes which ultimately defines ‘us’.” keep it in your mind and be aware of the cuts that are affecting us on both local and national levels. Whether you are a BA or BSC student, remember that culture is a science. Culture is geography. Culture is an experimental performance. Culture is encouraging. Culture is history, but ultimately, and most crucially. GEORGE CAULTON




Pablo Picasso once defined the artist as “A political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image.” Throughout history, politics has influenced many different types of culture. This has happened in literature, like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which contained themes of omnipresent government surveillance. Or in music, such as Dmitri Shostakovich, whose career was shaped by Stalin’s demands to compose music of a positive nature to inspire patriotism for Russia. But the influence of politics on artwork itself is perhaps the most relevant of all forms in 2016. All around the world today, we can see examples of it. In the midst of the US election debates, art is one way that people are showing their support for their favourite candidates. Los Angeles was recently the first of four US cities to host ‘The Art of a Political Revolution’, a touring art exhibition displaying works that took influence from the political


landscape and showed support for democrat candidate Bernie Sanders. Featuring artworks alongside music, a livestream address from the candidate himself and the opportunity to buy artwork with proceeds going towards the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, it is a perfect modern example of how the political situation can inspire art. From painted to spray painted artwork, when talking about art to make a statement, it’s difficult to ignore the work of Banksy, the reclusive street artist who sees himself as a graffiti artist and political activist in equal measures. Although his identity has never been revealed due to graffiti’s illegal status, he has been a highly active figure ever since the early 90s, when he started off as part of the Bristol underground scene. His first known large wall mural, The Mild Mild West, was painted in 1997 covering a solicitors’ office advert, depicting riot police having a Molotov cocktail thrown at them by a teddy bear. Over the years, his work has come with a variety of messages, challenging capitalism, war and the establishment. Last year was a particularly big year for the artist, who alongside making big news stories with the launch of his spoof temporary art project Dismaland, perhaps most topically made The Son of a Migrant from Syria. This was painted around the Calais jungle, where migrants live before attempting to enter the UK, and depicted Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a travelling migrant, a reference to the successful software entrepreneur’s family history of being the son of a Syrian migrant to the United States. But despite its primary association with left-wing politics, artwork has also been used to promote the other end of the spectrum. Art that promotes the UK Conservative Party has been prominent over the years, be that 2008 posters inspired by socialist artwork, displaying slogans such as ‘Labour – wasting your money since 1997’ or a 1929 poster depicting taxmen around a house and reading ‘Socialism would mean inspectors all round. If you want to call your soul your own, vote Conservative’, going further back in history. History, indeed, has shown that some of the most influential artworks have

“Art is something that is very personal to its creator, so it’s natural that something that people feel as passionately about as politics, much like religion, is likely to be reflected in it.”


“Throughout history, many different views have been represented in artwork and to suggest that you can only appreciate artwork that fits your own perception of the world rather underestimates the power of it.”

been inspired by political situations. Picasso painted Guernica in 1937, responding to news of Germany’s aerial bombing of Guernica, a Spanish town in the Basque country that faced one of the first bombings by the Luftwaffe. With its greyscale colour scheme and depiction of screaming faces, the painter’s expression against the Spanish Civil War and World War II grew to become one of the most famous artworks of the 20th century, as much due to its reflection on the political landscape as anything else. A similar topic was covered even earlier in Francisco Goya’s early 19th century The Disasters of War. This was a series of 82 pieces of art that showed the painter’s disapproval at events of the time. There were

freedom of expression. This was hot on the heels of Education Minister Naftali Bennett withdrawing funding to allow schoolchildren to see the play A Parallel Of Time due to its depiction of a murderer and terrorist. She said: “The Government doesn’t have to support culture. The artists will not dictate to me.” She faced opposition from Israeli curator Roy Brand, who argued that art does not belong to any political party, so should not be taken as sympathising with one view or another. There are certainly reasons for and against linking art and politics. Throughout history, many different views have been represented in artwork and to suggest that you can only appreciate artwork that fits your own perception of the world rather underestimates

three sections to the prints. The first 47 works focused on incidents from the Peninsular War and subsequent consequences. 48 to 64 were about the Madrid famine in 1811-1812 throughout the Dos De Mayo Uprising, where French troops occupied Madrid. Whereas the final paintings were a protest against the Bourbon Restoration, where the monarchy rejected the Spanish Constitution and opposed reforms. They were published 35 years after the artist’s death, which many believe was due to fear for Goya’s political safety had they been published at the time of their painting. Much like Guernica, The Disasters of War uses a bleak colour scheme and was meant to be as much of a nudge towards attention of the political figures of the time as it was an expression of the artist’s feelings. But just as the political situation can inspire art, it can also hinder it. Last June saw Israeli artists of all kinds petitioning against government measures that they believed were anti-democratic and against

the power of it. At the very least, it’s certainly understandable from an artist’s point of view why they are so often combined. Art is something that is very personal to its creator, so it’s natural that something that people feel as passionately about as politics, much like religion, is likely to be reflected in it. Some may argue that politics in art can be a problem because artwork with a message you disagree with can be rather alienating. But on the other hand, great art is about taking some people outside of their comfort zones. Here in Cardiff, we have recently seen ‘Cardiff Without Culture?’ protests against arts cuts by the council. These protests bring out the biggest point of all; when art can live or die based on political decisions, maybe artwork itself is one of the best ways of getting the message across.




allen ginsberg A key figure in the Beat Generation, Allen Ginsberg was the prophet-like poet that significantly influenced a transcendental way of thinking, living and being. In response to the McCarthyera, Post WWII America, Ginsberg and co. bonded over a nonconformist lifestyle, and sought a ‘New Vision’ for creativity inspired by the poetry of Yeats. Fuelled by this spirit (as well as hallucinogenic drugs) Ginsberg became, and remains, a true icon who encouraged becoming impassioned by what inspires you, and living in and appreciating the experiences of life. Ginsberg was influential in the poetry scene known as the San Francisco Renaissance, which later developed into the wider Beat Generation. His writing towards his ‘New Vision’ culminated in the iconic ‘Howl’ Six Gallery reading, San Francisco 1955, which was recounted by Jack Kerouac in his novel The Dharma Bums. Ginsberg’s poems reel off into devotional free verse as he meditates on visions of Blake, Whitman, Williams and Kerouac, life and death, and his concerns such as that of damaging capitalist systems; all in a deeply spiritual tone. In addition to his literary activity, Ginsberg was an imperative figure in Gay Rights activism, free speech movements (having had his poem ‘Howl’ held under an obscenity trial), and took anti-Capitalist and anti-war stances (notably protesting against the Vietnam war and bringing attention towards the victims of the Bangladesh Liberation war). Allen Ginsberg remains an iconic cultural figure for the disillusioned that seek some sense of renewal. SADIA PINEDA HAMEED


kurt cobain It has been little over twenty-two years since the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain. Yet for many he has remained a cultural icon and to some extent the de facto mascot of the punk-grunge era of the nineties. For many, including myself, it was the music that he and his fellow band members were remembered for and was the driving force that catapulted them to a now legendary level of fame. Nirvana left an extensive catalogue of music in which Cobain was immortalised, from the more verbally haunting Polly to one of my personal favourites; Heart Shaped Box. There are also many live albums which only serve to bolster their reputation- such as MTV’s Unplugged, which in my personal opinion, produced one of their greatest performances, which can be seen as their take on David Bowie’s ‘Man Who Sold the World’. In addition to his musical genius, Cobain was also a talented poet and writer, and these influences can be seen in the music video to Heart Shaped Box. Heavily influenced by a punk-ideology, Cobain could be seen as the embodiment of counter-culture, despite being a part of a nineties pop-culture revolution. However, his attempt at trying to adhere to a counter-culture ethos while being a part of ‘the system’ could be said to be one of the many things that attributed to his decline into heroin addiction and intoxication. The figure of the tragic artist being torn apart by a craft that he loved served only to further reinforce his status within cultures worldwide for generations to come.




Quench contributors tell us about their cultural icons tweet @QuenchCulture with yours!

ricky gervais I don’t think a lot of people would call writer, actor and comedian Ricky Gervais an idol. There are many people who are fans of The Office, Extras and Derek, but there are just as many who are not, many of whom are offended by it. A wonderful philosophy of Gervais’ comes from his controversial, yet undoubtedly eye-opening Twitter account. “Just because you’re offended” he said, “doesn’t mean you’re right. Some people are offended by mixed marriage, gay people, atheism. So what?” When you really get down to it, I think he’s right. There will always be someone who is offended by strong-minded people who want to share their views with the world, but Gervais is living proof that for every person that hates your views, there will be another who is comforted by them, whose own thoughts are validated because of them. The bravest thing Gervais does is tackle socially taboo subjects through the use of humour - always a dangerous task - because where does one draw the line? When does a script about a woman confusing Laurence Fishburne with Samuel L Jackson become a racist joke? What Gervais has taught me is to laugh at ourselves, to appreciate our quintessential British awkwardness, but to move on from it, to tackle social issues like disability, homophobia and racism head-on, instead of shying away from them. He has taught me about the power of saying what you think, accepting differing opinions, coping with rejection, and to stand for the power of frank and honest conversation. Always, of course, with a little humour on the side. As he has also said himself; “Humor is to get us over terrible things.” There will be some people who are offended by his views, and perhaps by mine, too. But, so what? ALICE BYRON

hundertwasser Freidensreich Hundertwasser, the Austrian artist and architect has become a symbol of Viennese art and culture. His buildings stand in the heart of Vienna like Gaudi’s in Barcelona; his bright and vibrant expressionist style can not go unnoticed and unappreciated, and has inspired numerous artists all around the world. Hundertwasser’s art was hugely influenced by Austrian painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. He perceived straight lines as an artist’s worst enemy, calling them “godless and immoral” and “something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling,” and thought rationalism and functional architecture were terms that should be abolished and forgotten. Art, according to him, had to be focused on the person viewing it- not on the person creating it. He designed what I would personally call his greatest masterpiece, the Hundertwasserhaus, for free, stating that it was worth it to “prevent something ugly from going up in its place.” The building is an apartment house in Vienna and is absolute eye candy, with an expressionist spirit and a gorgeous facade. Hundertwasser was very passionate about environmental protection and this is very obvious in the Hundertwasserhaus’s design. Trees grow from inside the rooms with branches extending outside some of the apartments’ windows, and the roof is covered with grass and earth. Stepping inside, you could see and feel the way nature and architecture worked together to create an inspiring harmony that I haven’t felt anywhere else. Stephany Damyanova



Thomas Edwards tells us about the unpublished essays recently released by This book of unpublished Christopher essays frequently reiterates itself as the concluding collection of Hitchens.

and prominence was swiftly beset by oesophageal cancer, which would eventually kill him. Many – including himself – made the obvious observation that it was not helped by a life-time of drinking, smoking, and other indulgences. Some of his theistic critics have gone even further by suggesting Christopher Hitchens’ work. It states that cancer was God’s punishment in the inner jacket how it is the ‘final for his atheism; particularly how surely it could not be a coincidence volume’ and ‘the last of the last’. As that Hitchens would be diagnosed a book that is the final product of with oesophageal cancer since the collecting the last essays from what was a considerably well-stocked vault most effective way in which he blasphemed was through his voice. is surely not indicative of Hitchens’ work; nor his artistry as an essayist. In typical fashion – and totally indicative of his sense of humour – His last collection of essays, the Hitchens responded that his voice voluminous Arguably, epitomises this best, but And yet … (the ellipsis was ‘not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed’. is part of the title) a comparatively Both collections, Arguably and And yet …, are markedly similar in content; consisting of book reviews (And Yet … is compromised of a third of them) and essays which alternate between topics such as literature, history, and politics. Amongst these big, big topics, are essays which are less lofty yet just as perceptively written. In Arguably, this would be evident by pieces on subjects like ‘Why Women aren’t funny’, sex-scandals, and blowjobs. And yet … follows a similar course of being both highbrow and high-brow with a wink. I won’t go into too much detail but I highly recommend the three-part

smaller work, can be best seen as an introductory and indeed less imposing work for anyone curious about Christopher Hitchens. Concerning those aforementioned, but in particular those who cannot quite be bothered to read his books, feel free to marvel his skill as orator and masterdebater through countless clips on YouTube: the most popular of which are invariably to do with his atheism and disdain for theocracy. Indeed it is precisely due to his eloquent heresy that he was able to achieve a prominence typically out-of-reach to most journalists. Admittedly his views as an atheist do not interest me very much and the topic seldom features in either of the aforementioned essay collections, which suits me just fine. Unfortunately, his success


piece on his experience/endurance of his first male makeover; entitled, ‘On the Limits of Self-improvement’. Interestingly (for the hardback editions at least) Arguably’s front cover features a hairless and haggard Hitchens defiant against the illness to which he vtzttttwould eventually succumb to. However, And yet … features a Hitchens relaxed, seemingly at the height of his fame, and in good company: a cigarette in his hand with a bottle of whiskey and a copy of P.J. Wodehouse’s ‘Jeeves in the morning’ on the table. Chronologically speaking it would make more sense to have the last collection feature Hitchens during his final days. Although for the sake of recalling Hitchens at his most authentic, it would be best for the last book to have him at his best: alive and well.


Okay it’s time to talk scary. Getting a job, finding what you’re going to do with your life and all that jazz - it’s terrifying. I seem to have this permanent lump somewhere between my throat worrying that I’ll never get a real job, never get what I want in life and wake up one day to find that my degree is useless and I’ve got nothing to show but hours logged on watching Netflix. We all know what we’ve got to do. Get off our asses. The only issue is that it’s so much easier said than done. I mean who wouldn’t prefer spending an extra few hours in bed in the mornings to facing the cold Cardiff winds? I’m not just talking about applying for jobs or going to the library. But, joining societies, meeting people, going shopping or even going to YOLO at the union every once in awhile. If you stay in your room, declining invitations you’re only going to get sad and lonely. (Sorry to be brutal but you know it’s true!) But what if you’re not good enough? What if you’re no good at making friends? These doubts plague EVERYONE. Everyone gets a little nervous before a party or when going to a society meeting. But just think how much fun it’ll be. You could have the best night of your life! If there’s even one tiny part of you that wants to do something, take a chance. What’s the worst that could happen? Okay, so I’ve had a few failed ventures - the short horror film that is laughably crap, the several blogs where I got one or two posts before I got bored, but failure is a necessary step on the path to success. We all fail, but we’ll never succeed without trying. Have you ever not talked to someone because you were too shy or too nervous? That happened to me a couple of years ago with Kenneth Branagh. KENNETH BRANAGH. I could have talked to Gilderoy Lockhart if I hadn’t been such a bloody chicken! I’ll

undoubtedly regret that for years to come, but now whenever I’m nervous about doing something I want to do, I just think of the fact that I could have met actual Kenneth Branagh, sending me marching headfirst into whatever I’m scared of. Even if it’s not a celebrity you want to talk to. Might just be a girl in your seminar who has nice hair or a guy you fancy, you might as well go for it. Take a chance and possibly make a friend. Now for the real talk: job interviews. There’s not one person who doesn’t get even a little nervous before an interview. You’ve just got to relax and remember that you have nothing to lose if you don’t get the job. You can’t get more unemployed! There are loads of jobs out there and who knows, if you don’t get one job, maybe it’s destiny’s way of telling you that there’s a better one out there. Apply for things, take risks! Even if you’re not 100% sure you want the job, it’s better to interview and end up declining a job offer than to have no job at all. Even a “rubbish job” could turn out to be good, as long as you can make friends with your co-workers and earn a bit of cash. What if there’s someone better than you? Someone who has better ideas or better grades. You know what, it doesn’t matter! It really doesn’t. It may sound like I’m just talking a load of guff, but I wish someone had slapped me round the face sooner and said this exact thing to me. Last year I applied to be Social Media Editor for Gair Rhydd. Then, I had no interest in going into journalism in the future and basically just applied on a whim. Much to my surprise I got the job and I can honestly say it was the best thing that has happened to me in my time at university. I’ve had some amazing opportunities, met some amazing people and made some great friends. You probably don’t care about my life story, but the point is that great things can come from unexpected places. Go for it. Say yes. I believe in you


Illustrator - Naomi Brown


and all you have to do is believe in yourself. If no one is hiring you, try and look back at what you could have done better and persevere. You may think it’s weird, but to be a success you have to look at how others are doing. If someone in your field is doing something better than you, you have to see what they’re doing and try and do it better. Say you want to be a Youtuber; you need to watch other Youtubers to see what makes them successful, and use elements of it in your own videos. There’s no such thing as true originality and it’ll help you massively if you look at other people’s work for inspiration in

style and content. I may not be the best at directing, drawing or even writing. But I’ve found something I enjoy and I’m going to stick with it and work at it. Maybe one day I’ll be making a career out of it. Maybe I’ll get a novel published. If you enjoy something, do it. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. However if you’re not enjoying it because you think you might not be good enough then you need to find a way to quieten the voices inside your head telling you to stop and work hard to BE the best. In the wise words of Shia Labeouf: “don’t let your dreams be dreams. Just DO IT.”




e’ve all stumbled across the standard travel photos of elephant rides, religious temples and colourful harem pants, as they are in full blossom all over our social media feeds. Of course, these are all great experiences that any person with a bit of wanderlust in them would want to try. However, to do it a little bit differently, why not do it in India? With wild nature, majestic architecture and a range of interesting cultures and beliefs, India will not fail to live up to any expectation you may have – and then some. As a large country, it has a vast diversity of cultures, lifestyles and adventures, marking each place as individual from the other. Whilst the North is rich on tradition and history, the South gives you a more laid-back, modern take on the Indian life. If you decide to go traveling through the country, this is something you are bound to notice.



BACK... Starting off in the North, only a five-hour train journey from the old fashioned and traditional, yet hectic capital New Delhi, is a city called Agra. This is where the world famous mausoleum the Taj Mahal, is located, making the city bustling with tourists, minibuses and souvenir-sellers. Make sure to get a photo of the majestic Taj Mahal during the hour of sunset, visit it’s sister temple Agra Fort, and have a taste of authentic Indian cuisine (nothing like your average takeaway). However, remember to always dress appropriately (cover your legs and shoulders) and to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times, as Agra is also well known for pickpockets. A four-hour train journey South from Agra, lies the beautiful city of Jaipur. Yet again, this is a city which is famous for its great history and majestic buildings. The biggest tourist attraction is Amer Fort, a large palace located on the top of a hill decorated in mirrors and drawings that could make you walk around the grounds for days. When you’ve had enough of sightseeing, be sure to visit the markets in town. Here you will be able

to get hold of colorful travelling trousers, decorative carpets, beautiful ornaments, spices and jewellery at a dangerously good price. Remember to haggle though, even if it is just over 20p. As you make your way around Jaipur, you will see Indian traffic at it’s best (or should I say worst?). You know those YouTube videos you’ve seen – yeah, it’s just like that. Motorcycles carrying families of five, buses so full that people are virtually hanging off, camels and semi-functioning cars are all making their way round the carefree cows strolling in the middle of the roads. This commotion is in one big unity of honking, ushering and starting the vehicle (or animal) up again. Even though your first encounter with the Indian traffic might be a bit daunting, you will soon find yourself impressed by how the Indians make sense of the chaos. When you’ve had enough of the cultural and historical stuff, it is time to head down to Goa. Think of it as the Magaluf of India. Located at the West Coast of India, it is the perfect place for quality time in the sun

with a good magazine and a cocktail. You can even bring your snorkeling mask and go for a magical adventure around the tropical waters of South Goa, where you can explore colorful fish and corals. In the evenings there are plenty of Indian and Western restaurants to check out, as well as nightclubs. As a last stop on your list, the state of Kerala is a ‘must’ to visit. The state is known for its long beaches and the network of canals, called the backwaters. A seat on a boat going through the backwaters, followed by a night spent living on one of the islands the backwaters runs by, is an experience of a lifetime. The nature is as mind-blowingly green and fruitful, as the people are warm and welcoming. So why not be a little bit different? Why not visit India? With a culture so rich, a nature so beautiful and architecture so breathtaking, you are bound to experience moments that will not only look good on your Instagram, but will stay in your memory forever. Arianrhod Engebø






Road trips aren’t just for the movies anymore. Whether you are looking for an afternoon exploring Wales or an adventure further afield, let our travel team give you some ideas. Words by Alice Dent and Lucy Pierce.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD There’s no doubt that Australia is a pretty cool country, and what better way to experience it than by taking a trip along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road? Stretching some 243 kilometres between the towns of Torquay and Warrnambool on the South Eastern Coast, this famous route was originally built after the First World War by returning soldiers; dedicated to the memory of their fallen comrades, it is the largest war memorial in the world. Now a popular tourist destination, the scenic coastal drive is one of the country’s most well-travelled roads, visited by over seven million people every year. The route follows mile after mile of stunning Australian coastline, including the Surf and Shipwreck Coasts, making it extremely popular with surfers from across the world. Not least because Torquay is the home of Bells Beach and the longest-running professional surfing competition, The Rip Curl Pro. But surfing opportunities are far from all Great Ocean Road has to offer. Other incredible features include Apollo Bay, Otway Forest, Lake Elizabeth and the Great Ocean Walk, not to mention the area’s most visited tourist spot, the Twelve Apostles rock formation off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park. Outdoor activities include scuba diving, kayaking and whale watching whilst there’s also plenty of great food, shopping, local festivals and exhibitions to be enjoyed in the numerous seaside towns dotted along the coastline. Though relatively short in distance, its sheer quantity and diversity of attractions certainly give Great Ocean Road all the makings of the perfect road trip.




This crosscountry “Mother Road” is a rich and vital component of American history; a symbol of dreams and hope


Whitesands is the perfect destination for a weekend away of connecting with the landscape


Along the seemingly never-ending beauty of the Pembrokeshire coastal path lies Whitesands Bay, a gemstone of coastline acquiring its name from its wide expanse of fine white sand. Whitesands is a short drive away from Britain’s smallest city St Davids, where you can visit the 12th century old St Davids Cathedral. It’s also a short trip away from the Abereiddy Beach and Blue Lagoon, a popular spot to experience the thrill of cliff jumping and coasteering, and previous destination of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Whitesands is the perfect destination for a weekend away of connecting with the landscape, and exploring the many different magnificent spots that the Pembrokeshire coastal path has to offer. The little beach has its own easily accessible camping facilities accompanied by a car park and café, making a weekend stay much more enjoyable. Whitesands is also an extremely popular spot for surfers, as it is known to be one of the best surfing beaches in the country. During the summer you’ll often see surfers, windsurfers, body boarders and canoeists competing for the best waves. Whitesands is also a very convenient setting for those who wish to take on the famous coastal path. From Whitesands itself, you can walk the eleven-mile route to the historic village, Trefin, or take the nine-and-a-half-mile route from Caerfai, a multi coloured bay back to Whitesands, passing the historic St Non’s Chapel along your way. For a gorgeous weekend away of sun, sand and scenic views, Whitesands is the best road trip for you!

The infamous Route 66 really is spectacular and hard to beat... The classic journey, travelling west through the centre of the United States from Chicago to Los Angeles runs through hundreds of miles of open road, where examples of American kitsch can be seen at every step of the way. From Cadillac Ranch in Texas, where visitors are encouraged to graffiti the quintessentially American landmark as they pass by, to the multitude of roadside cafes and motels dotted along the trail, you sure as hell won’t be disappointed. However, the allure and mystique of Route 66 is not solely due to the garish neon lights and burger joints. The spectacular American landscape will leave visitors feeling as though they’ve stumbled across the set of a 1960’s western movie, with miles upon miles of open country road and spectacular views of deserts, mountain ranges and of course, the Grand Canyon. This cross-country “Mother Road” is a rich and vital component of American history; a symbol of dreams and hope of a better life on the West Coast during the dust bowl of the 1930’s. Through the original highway is now decommissioned, visitors are still able to replicate a very similar journey, and with a past so rich in culture, it is no surprise the trail is also known as “The Historic Route 66”. The road trip, undeniably mixing garish American kitsch with breath-taking landscapes, can be undertaken in a comfortable 7 days, and with deals available for under £1000 - why not see for yourself?


Find the little treasure that is San Sebastian, a charming, picturesque town that is famous for many of their many Michelin starred restaurants

Not a particularly long route, as road trips go, but I have always imagined doing this trip in the summer months and taking my time at each town to enjoy the different localities and diverse surf. Living out the back of a VW campervan, being a surf bum for a few weeks while the sun bronzes your skin and the sea leaves you with a salty after taste, is more than tempting. Both French Aquitaine and the Spanish Basque area have rich cultures and beautiful landscapes, with sand and sea stretching as far as the eye can see and the Pyrenees’ mountain range towering over the French, Spanish border. Of course, the cuisine in this area is world renowned, with fresh fish,

local produce and tapas like there’s no tomorrow. Find the little treasure that is San Sebastian, a charming, picturesque town that is famous for many of their restaurants having been deemed Michelin starred; foodies - a right treat for you! While Moliets and Hossegor are small towns, they are home to the majority of the European surf crowd, don’t be put off by the little grommets that have clearly learnt to surf before they learnt to walk! This road trip is the perfect getaway for the beach bums trying to escape the dismal British ‘summer-time’!







The primary focus of this well established luxury brand is designing products that rejuvenate and repair poor skin, while still maintaining and respecting the relationship between people and nature. Even if you haven’t been around the world in 80 days, you can be assured that all the ingredients used in the formulas in Amala’s products are sourced exclusively from the best producers worldwide to bring about healing properties for all skin types and conditions. The brand’s bestseller is the Purifying Blemish Treatment and with the flawless results that it achieves, albeit at a bit of a higher cost, having the lingering scent of blue lotus, lemon and tea tree all actively and effectively cleansing and nurturing, are worth the splash. Also recognized for their innovation and being research driven, Amala’s Brightening Toning Essence uses Narcissus, a plant from Turkey. Harvested at peak state for optimum quality and potential, the blend is produced by organic farmers and 100% free from genetically modified substances, yet still successfully combats pigments that lead to dark spots and revives dull, uneven tones.


Born in 1937, Physician’s Formula is an award winning, organic skincare and makeup provider, continuing to change the face of cosmetics for women worldwide. Originally designed to address and nurture sensitive skin, the brand soon developed internationally offering health, glamour and fun to all women. Supplying a vast range in their organic line including mascara, beauty balm cream, and moisturizer, it leaves no question as to why the high – quality yet affordable range is so popular. Plus with close to zero artificial ingredients, the company have promised these lines are free from harsh chemicals, cruelty and synthetic preservatives, colours and fragrance. Their latest masterpiece ‘Natural Origin Work it!’ tinted moisturizer, is designed to be worn for all occasions, including the most physically exhausting tasks like sport and going to the gym. Combinations of carrot, kale, lemon and quinoa protein, provide vitamins A, C and E, and amino acids to the body, in return defending skin against environmental exposure and boosting complexion. Another life saver for students like us constantly on the go, is the ‘life-proof ’ mascara from the Natural Origin collection which claims to strengthen and lengthen lashes with water-resistant blends.


A match made in heaven for all of you dealing with sensitive skin! Pai claims to be experts in natural beauty solutions but are especially renowned for their wide array of products targeting sensitivity issues. Approved “organic” by the Soil Association, this brand checks all the boxes; vegan friendly, cruelty – free but above all being successfully efficient at what their labels claim to do. Starting at $7, their products are undoubtedly value for money, considering how the tiniest amount really does go a long way. The brand is also the first to explicitly list all the ingredients used in simple English, ensuring customers understand what they’re applying on their faces without the need for a chemistry degree! A safe first purchase would have to be the Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, considering Pai prides themselves on their cleansers and day creams. Loaded with skin soothers and free from irritants, it’s no surprise why that specific item bagged the ‘Best Organic Product’ award. Another gem by them is the Echium and Argan Gentle Eye Cream. The perfect balance between heavy and light but super hydrating, the cream also doubles up as a lip balm and sets as an unexpectedly ideal base for matte lip shades.


Translating to ‘clean’ in Swedish, this London – based brand leaves no room for error or concern with their ‘Clean Stamp’. The seal of approval concentrates on producing formulas that are modern, sophisticated, effective and pleasurable while simultaneously being free from the skin – unfriendly ingredients routinely used in the industry today. By assuring every product undergoes the same treatment to meet the highest organic standards and clearly stating what ingredients aren’t used, REN is a great beauty solution for both men and women. Testimonials from users indicate how their products have worked wonders for even the most sensitive of skin types, which is simply further proof to conclude that items are curated with the needs and demands of customers in mind. Whatever the season, moisturizing is key to healthy supple skin and REN is known for putting the ‘calm’ in their Hydra Calming Moisturizer. Plus by incorporating light, fresh scents like herbal and citrus notes, their products remain unisex, making it perfect for the male consumers too and all without using artificial colours or fragrances. REN’s anti – aging line is frequently picked up by young adults too, as the items do a brilliant job at efficiently dealing with adult breakouts, like the T – Zone Balancing Fluid and the exfoliating masks.




Quench Fashion reviews the best fashion bibles Amazon has to offer

Dressing the man: Mastering the art of permanent fashion

In this book, Alan Flusser provides guidelines and inspiration to male fashion victims and discusses the issue of why there are less well-dressed men today than ever before. He puts his focus on men themselves and teaches them how to work with what they have and how to make fashion trends work for individuals instead of blindly following them. Offering detailed advice on fits and body shapes,

Flusser’s wisdom is especially handy and helpful with student life, teaching us the art of casual and work wear. The abundance of old Hollywood photographs reiterates the legacy of the industry’s icons, while also proving to be a great source of inspiration for fashion newbies. Although many would argue the tips suggested are too bold to take into a work environment, and only suitable to the likes

of politicians and corporate leaders, it’s nevertheless great preparation for any selfrespecting future lawyer or businessman. Dressing the Man is definitely one of the best sources of inspiration and information on men’s style and is a must read for anyone looking to portray a modern take of the gentleman.


Decades by Cameron Silver is your best shot into a glance at the industry’s past. Taking the readers through the decades of the last century, the book carefully examines the trends and styles that were prominent in different points of time. A great read for anyone interested in design and styling, Decades takes a look at trend setters, stars and designers and how they influenced the times they lived in. It’s very

much a book about glamour and femininity, about the beauty of the female body and how it has inspired icons and fashion pioneers in their creations through the ages. Throw away your preconceived assumptions of Hepburn being the sole female icon back in the day and prepare to have your fashion stereotypes challenged, as Silver tells the stories of international designers from the West to the East and

beyond. Although it’s a book that’s all about the vintage era, don’t be surprised to find it presented in a contemporary format with humor in the most unexpected places. Overall Decades is a go-to for fashion history if you’re one to be aesthetically pleased, however do keep in mind that there is much content lacking on men’s designs and androgynous labels.


Pretty Powerful is yet another brainchild of world-famous make-up artist Bobbi Brown. Her bestselling book is an entertaining read for both the beauty enthusiast and the total beginner as she reveals her best beauty tips and provides step-bystep application techniques, all of which are accompanied by gorgeous illustrative pictures. The book dedicates itself to a variety of make-up styles, from ‘Pretty Natural’ to ‘Pretty Bold’, ideal for the

university student whose social calendar demands make-up looks for all occasions, from messy initiations to the glamorous summer ball. This is without mentioning Brown’s much appreciated advice on concealer application; that little magic stick that we all rely on after a heavy night and a 9am lecture! However, Pretty Powerful is more than just a beauty book. Brown’s intention this time is just as much to guide aspiring

Scott Schuman’s second book is in many ways everything you’d expect it be – a compilation of street style photos from all around the world, carefully curated with the occasional short comments alongside. Although released with both a male and a female cover, the contents of the book remain the same. It is a very diverse book that provides people with an insight to street style and fashion statements from different corners of the world. His blog,

The Sartorialist, entertains a wide audience and if you’re part of it, it would be no surprise if this book tops your list of things to-read due to the overlapping of content and design. The Sartorialist: Closer is the perfect style inspiration for lightening up Cardiff’s gloomy rainy days and an ideal coffee table flick. Just browse through the wonderful pages of high quality street style photographs and find your pick for tomorrow’s




STEPHANY DAMYanOVA make-up artists as it is to encourage selfconfidence and self-love. Unlike her previous titles, she simultaneously celebrates girl power and the beauty of women, both from within and the exterior. Consisting of inspiring personal tales from the likes of Alexa Ray Joel and Gabourey Sidibe, Pretty Powerful may not offer revolutionary advice, but it does give its readers a well-deserved confidence-boost. LAUREN GRIFFIN outfit. Agreed, there’s little diversity shown in body image in both of Schuman’s books but readers can easily check that box by visiting his blog, which compensates for the lack of variety in print. A personal favourite, this book oozes with brilliant references for artwork and drawing clothes, igniting my inner amateur fashion illustrator with every page flicked. STEPHANY DAMYANOVA


Grace: A Memoir Former Creative Director. Fashion icon. Model. Anna Wintour’s right hand woman. Grace documents Grace Coddington’s extraordinary journey from a small Welsh village to become one of the most influential people in an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Revered within the fashion world as “the woman who made fashion art”, Coddington’s experience and impact is unparalleled, making Grace a mustread for anybody wishing to enter this illustrious industry. This collection of memoirs provides readers with an unprecedented insight into the fashion industry. Grace discusses Coddington’s personal view of her unexpected career as a model, international success and the car crash which ended it all. Intriguingly, Grace explores life as the internationally renowned Creative Director of American Vogue, including her tenure at the British edition of the fashion bible, through much wit and inspiring messages to any aspirational fashion journalist or photographer. Although her often volatile yet faithful relationship with Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, is perhaps the most interesting feature of Coddington’s memoirs. Through a pulls-no-punches approach, Grace delivers a resilient, heartfelt and soul-filled view of an industry which outsiders largely perceive to be egotistical and soulless. Coddington’s clear infatuation and affection towards fashion, and in particular, Vogue, shines through on each page, despite the personal heartbreaks which she discusses. As Grace herself once put it – “Three rules of success in fashion: Perseverance, dream a bit and be passionate about it.”


While IT by Alexa Chung cannot be classified as an autobiography, it takes on a fun and modern form. Within the pretty pink cover of this book lies collections of images and writings of the ‘It’ girl who has taken the British media industry by storm. Chung provides an insight into her eccentric flair that has endured throughout her career as a model, actor, fashion icon and a TV and radio personality. Throughout the book Chung gives snippets of her childhood, heartbreak, instructions on how to take the perfect ‘selfie’, and shares fun snaps from many nights out as an ‘It’ girl. It will come as no surprise that the girl who has had a Mulberry handbag named after her loves all things fashion and gives style tips to her readers, such as how to get dressed in the morning and her favorite looks. Additionally, Chung includes doodles and her personal style inspirations ranging from the spice girls to her grandfather. With its jumble of fashion, life tips and exclusive and intimate pictures from one of Britain’s most stylish personalities, this charmingly quirky book is ideal for inspiration. ISABELLA NICOLSON



pretty powerful Grace: A Memoir 31



ASOS is a British online fashion retailer offering womenswear, menswear, accessories, beauty products and gifts. The company sells over 850 brands including River Island, French Connection, Missguided, Nike and Calvin Klein as well as its own ranges of clothing and accessories such as ASOS White, ASOS Black and ASOS Salon in addition to its exclusive petite and tall collections. The trend-led retailer offers a lavish selection of the latest fashions primarily aimed at the young adult. From New Look to Moschino, ASOS features a huge range of products to cater to any budget. As if the wide range of styles aren’t appealing enough for the online shopper, the clothing site also offers a 10% discount to students all year round, with an occasional 20% discount offer which is available from time to time. Although, with frequent sales and a permanent outlet store, there is always a bargain to be grabbed! Online shopping sceptics need not panic as the site offers free delivery when you spend £20 as well as free returns so you can shop with no regrets, be it with your best friends or tucked up in your duvet at any hour of the day. Unlike other mainstream clothing retailers, the company also features ASOS Marketplace alongside its main website. The marketplace sells both vintage and branded clothing and accessories through independent labels and boutiques, offering quirky and unique fashion you may not find on the high street. With such a huge selection of fashion and the great levels of quality control, ASOS slowly but surely is competing with your local department stores and taking the online shopping web by storm. Megan Sylvester


Believe it or not there are still those among us who have yet to dip their toe into the wonderful procrastination tool that is online shopping. If you too are an online shopping virgin in need of some inspiration for where to direct your browser then read on.

What makes Feel Unique so unique? Founded in 2005, they are currently Europe’s largest online premium beauty retailer with over 500 brands to choose from. Feel Unique has been voted amongst the top in online beauty shopping websites according to many beauty bloggers. They pride themselves in delivering a wide range of products from designer labels and household names, as well as niche brands without the huge price tag. Top brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Lancome, Guerlain, Benefit and many others are heavily discounted; a pocket-friendly treat especially to us students! The ‘special offers’ tab, which gets frequently updated with nearly 50% knocked off items, spoil you even more with a free gift at checkout as well as free delivery worldwide on orders over £10! Usually tracking your parcel’s progress is tricky and stressful, but with Feel Unique the communication is prompt and informative, guaranteeing to work directly with their manufacturers to bring products to customers straight from the brands themselves - unlike many other beauty retailers. As well as successfully getting the stamp of approval by Trusted Shops, reviews have rated the website ‘excellent’ on both customer service and products. A unique shopping journey and truly a destination for beauty indeed. Albina Govic

Since launching in June 2000, Net-a-Porter has built a reputation as the world’s premier luxury fashion destination. Net-a-Porter offers a distinguished selection of designer clothing, from Acne Studios to Zana Bayne, offering all the latest trends. Not only does Net-a-Porter have unique styles on offer, they also stock a variety of items including designer beauty products. Online reviews have revealed outstanding customer service, with easy and fast returns in the event of any unexpected troubles encountered by customers. The online shopping website has a monthly audience of over 6 million customers via a global multi-channel ecosystem, which not only includes their website but also a digital magazine ‘The EDIT’, a print magazine ‘PORTER’, a mobile app ‘The NET SET’, and a menswear website ‘MR PORTER’. With such an extensive network of applications and high levels of trust invested by clients, it comes as no shock that the site stands as one of the leading platforms in this era of online shopping, providing unparalleled shopping experience. The ability to watch videos of catwalk shows and buy each garment, or shop from the online magazine simply by clicking on a photo, truly highlights their firm’s core value of advancing alongside growing technology. Albina Govic


T T F F I I R R TTHH We took a trip to the charity shops of Cathays and they didn’t dissapoint. Turns out you can spice up your wardrobe for pennies in this town

JESS WEARS: shirt - ebay (£8) skirt - ebay(£3) jacket - ebay (£6)

EM WEARS: top - (£3) jeans - vintage (£12) jacket - oxfam (£10)


NAOMI WEARS: shirt - vintage (£15) shorts - vintage (£20) jacket - depop (£6)

BECKY WEARS: top - charity (£5) skirt - depop (£4) jacket - charity (£5) coat - ebay (£22)

HANNAH WEARS: top - vintage (£5) skirt - ebay (£6) jacket - ebay (£30) 35


New newydd

Absorb this music. It’s for your own good.

For Fans Of: The Black Lips. Download: ‘No Cops’ Facebook: thenightbeats @thenightbeats


For fans of: Daughter, Elephant. Download: ‘Change Of Face’ Facebook: WhiteLilacMusic Soundcloud: soundcloud. com/whitelilacmusic

For fans of: Frank Turner, Nebraska-era Springsteen. Download: ‘Remonstrate’ Facebook: churchandivory Soundcloud: soundcloud. com/church-ivory

Whilst wandering through Cardiff city centre you’ll pass many a busker - some good, some bad. Either way, there’s still a slim chance they’ll have amassed a crowd. Yet, there’s at least one individual that appears to do exactly that, and his name is John Adams. Whilst you probably won’t recognise the name, you’re more likely to recall his performance of Damien Rice’s ‘Cannonball’ on 2011’s X Factor (it’s on YouTube, go refresh your memory). Since then, the Aberdare singer/songwriter has disguised himself by taking a good amount of hair from the top of his head and fashioning a beard with it. But aside from his fashion choices, he’s also constructed an album of delightful material entitled, ‘The Pavement Is My Stage’. He’s an artist that wears his influences on his sleeve, with the likes of James Morrison and Passenger very much echoed in his work; even Sam Smith when he really kicks it into falsetto. Head down to Queen Street and see if you can catch a glimpse.


This acoustic two-piece from down south (so far down that you’ve got to get a ferry over to the Isle of Wight to visit them) have roots firmly in folk music. They’re wholly familiar with the twang of an acoustic guitar, the sensuality of group harmony and the beat of a stomped foot; yet all the while they manage to provide a punk sentiment. Their recent debut release, ‘Where Thou Are, That Is Home’, plays host to the duo’s punk-folk melting pot, crystallised in the lyric “fuck you money and screw you greed” on ‘Remonstrate’. The heartfelt, ‘Mother’s Son’ is selfdeprecating, honest and hugely endearing, whilst ‘All I Have’ ponders on life’s ever changing landscape by rooting them in personal experience. The lyrics swerve from micro to macro effortlessly and are backed up by beautiful guitar lines alongside emotionally resonant harmonies. If you’re a fan of morality, the power of songs and a good old cry, then the likelihood is you’ll be a fan of Church & Ivory too.


Since forming in late 2014, Wiltshire based indie/rock band White Lilac have only released three tracks. Yet each in themselves is rich with complexity, emotion and a post punk sense of grit; a formula which allows the four piece to effortlessly grip you from the initial listen. Reminiscent from the humble acoustic origins of singer Faye Rogers, White Lilac provide atmospheric indie noise packed with a beautiful bombardment of reverb and subtle musical obscurities which set this rising talent apart from all the rest. With a backline of heavy drums, jangly clean toned guitar and cello to bring low end in a far more elegant way than most other indie rockers, White Lilac have developed a sound which seems to work effortlessly in the context of both the fast tempo, ‘Change Of Face’, or the dulcet winter beauty of ‘Night Visions’. With the imminent release of their debut EP, ‘Unwelcome Wishes’, there isn’t a better time to check out this Wiltshire wonder.



Night Beats are a three piece American band with a refined psych-garage sound, fuzzy and heavily distorted vocals lazily lying over the top of intricately messy guitar licks. The band’s skewed Texan roots emerge slowly through their music, heavy with rhythm and soul, but being turned upside down with psychedelic guitars which seem to twist into your eardrums. The band’s third album, ‘Who Sold My Generation’ has just been released through the UK’s Heavenly Records, a label that already boasts weird and wonderful music, with artists such as H.Hawkline and King Gizard and the Wizard Lizard on their books. Night Beats aren’t necessarily a ‘new’ band, but they’re relatively new to our ears in Cardiff, and it’s important that you get to hear their strange, stop-start rhythms and dirty, hazy bass lines. Let them take you on a journey of discovery into an acid-filtered landscape of a dusty, ‘60s American countryside. You’ll be taught to think beyond convention, yet you’ll be relaxed by the tripped out bluesy vocals that are just shy of too much enthusiasm for this somewhat lazy adventure.


For fans of: Passenger, James Blunt. Download: ‘The Last Song’ Facebook: JohnAdams88 @john_anthony1


A l b u m

savages adore life


panic! at the disco death of a bachelor


Seemingly shedding members since the release of their debut, ‘Death of a Bachelor’ leaves Brendon Urie as the last man standing of the original band and sees him finally settle into his own sound on this infectious and bombastic release. A consummate performer, Urie has a fine grasp of what will flourish in concert; the album is replete with chant-along choruses, dramatic pauses and energetic riffs. Opener ‘Victorious’ romps in with nagging hooks, the intricate flow of the verses testament to the finesse Urie has attained by his third album. The line between pop and rock has rarely been more blurred than it is today, and Panic! gleefully dive into the haze, be it the boy-band key change of ‘LA Devotee’ or the gospel-aping ‘Hallelujah’. The comparatively formulaic ‘The Good, The Bad and the Dirty’ is the sole track that misses the mark, but there are enough earworms here that it goes relatively unnoticed. Lyrics tackle Urie’s excesses having traded Las Vegas for LA last year, the effects of that lifestyle on his recent marriage and finally his lasting legacy on ‘House of Memories’. Channelling Frank Sinatra and Freddie Mercury, the vocals are king here, the fat of previous releases trimmed down to slick beats and drum loops. Minus a few remaining lyrical clangers ‘Death of a Bachelor’ hangs together better than any Panic! album this decade and, vindicated by hitting number one in the US, is the work of an outfit at their apex. Dillon Eastoe

dark shapes in the water Mantaraybryn is the project of Cardiff University student Bryn Evans, who started making music to delight the internet’s eardrums a few years before he started university. His debut album, ‘Dark Shapes In The Water’ has been hotly anticipated by the huge online following he’s gathered on YouTube and Spotify, and we got a sneak peak of it before anyone else. ‘Beach-pop’ or ‘Americana’ is too sunny for the unfearing perspective of Bryn’s lyrics, yet hearing emotion with such integrity and thought behind it is a wholly uplifting experience in every song. Whether it’s the single-ready ‘Pristine’, which has already received a ridiculous reception (upwards of 500,000 Spotify plays), or the more ballsy and relatable-to-most ‘Health’ which is an album exclusive. Bryn says he “didn’t realise how much the sea influenced his music until he looked at the piece as a whole”. However, in ‘Catch Alight’ the urgent vocals matched with soothing big piano chords are phrased in such a way that you can almost hear the breath of a English (or Welsh) sea. The record has been a long time in the making, but the result sounds perfectly designed. Sharp, pop-like edges pin his bold and strangely enunciated vocals to the minimalist yet effective chords which are perfectly matched, to create this stormy coastal soundscape of a record, perfect for preparing the listener to take on whichever mammoth task may lie ahead. Erin Gillespie

Fans of British post punk have something to rejoice; a new album has hit their niche scene. Savages are back with ‘Adore Life’. Their sophomore album is the first we’ve heard from the usually loud rockers since their debut album in 2013. The new album finds the band back with a familiar sound, singer Jehnny Beth’s equal parts melodic and Patti Smith style wailings take pride of place over a solid cast of punk influenced rock beats. The album sees the girls from Savages taking on the age old questions of love, relationships, and sex as well as, at times, some deeper more philosophical musings. Each song seems to tackle love at its forefront and end up with almost as many interpretations of love as there are songs on the album. ‘The Answer’ and ‘When In Love’ both espouse the finer points of love, finding love as the answer to life’s questions and discussing the crazy things we do for our loved ones. Finally ‘I Need Something New’ finds the band in the last days of a failing relationship, cruelly taunting the song’s antagonist with the words, “Then all the words coming out your mouth wouldn’t be something I’d heard before”. Though sticking largely within the same themes the album manages to explore a diverse range of topics throughout, even if they are all largely centred on love. Musically this isn’t much of a step forwards for the band, the album offers more of a finely tuned look at their sound rather than anything different, but what is there is well crafted and well performed. Jamie Williamson

daughter not to dissappear Daughter are at long last back on the road to promote their eagerly awaited second album ‘Not to Disappear’. Whilst initially emerging in 2010 as a sonic alias for the solo career of singer Elena Tonra, the creative input of Swiss guitarist Igor Haefeli and French drummer Remi Aguilella proved essential in fuelling the instantly recognisable melancholic sound of their debut album ‘If you Leave’, which was met with critical acclaim. Sharing the emotionally raw lyrics which made their debut so appealing, musically, Daughter’s second album seems to ooze greater sophistication and diversity. Driven by a steady guitar melody reminiscent to that of early Joy Division, the first track, ‘New Ways’ opens the Daughter album as you would expect; beautifully, yet in a sombre, wistful manner. However, the strike of the chorus provides a perfectly placed lift. A subtle change from minor to major effortlessly elevates the dynamic of the track highlighting that ‘Not to Disappear’ may be Daughter’s attempt at experimenting with a slightly more upbeat sound. Placed around the halfway point of the album the heavily reverberated full band base of ‘How’ echoes that of The Pixies. In short, ‘Not to Disappear’ captures everything which made Daughter’s first album such a triumph; just with a little more musical finesse and diversity. The album provides song after song of heartwrenching beauty without the fear of becoming repetitive. If you have just stumbled across Daughter and the darker side of indie pop, have a listen and appreciate the greatness of ‘Not to Disappear’. James Ivory



The Libertines - Motorpoint 26/01/16

Cigarette in hand, Pete Doherty stumbles onto the stage. However, it’s not Carl Barat he’s dragging on with him; instead it’s a baby John Cooper Clarke in a fur coat, reciting poetry about Ketamine and Poundland. It was a rowdy entrance, kicking off ‘Barbarians’ and the lyrics “all I wanted was to scream out loud and have it up with a mental crowd”, which set the bar for the remainder of the set. The boys played their new material from the new album admirably; with ‘You’re My Waterloo’ having silenced the audience, whilst big track ‘Gunga Din’ got the crowd going. The new album mixes classic Libertines with a reggae twang, which makes it so desirable. Of course it wouldn’t be a Libertines gig without the traditional sharing of the mic between duo Pete and Carl providing a bit of nostalgia to please the crowd. Despite the gig going smoothly, there’s something rather mellow and tame about a Cardiff audience, and this did not pass by Pete lightly as he described the Cardiff audience as a “notoriously difficult crowd”, also adding “Cardiff you’re an awful crowd”, which inevitably isn’t going to encourage them to be better. Despite sounding a bit like a dick, there was truth to his statement as there was something lacking in the atmosphere, which slightly hindered the full potential of the gig. Nevertheless, the grand finale did not fail to impress, with the usual topless Gary jumping from his drums to the front of the stage screaming at the crowd to get louder. The encore was a big one, ending the night on their anthem ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ and finally injecting some life into the mellow Cardiff audience. It was rather surreal to witness such a legendary band; a band which we once thought would never be seen again.

Mancunian grime artist, Bugzy Malone, opened the show to a mostly empty room, putting on a short but solid set, which if nothing else proved that he has more to his repertoire than his beef with Chip. RAT BOY played next to a now sparsely packed room. Their rock sound, tinged in equal parts by hip hop and punk, blasted out strongly to an appreciative crowd. Their eclectic sound could have come into some problems in a live environment, but any such worries from the band’s fans should be cleared after this set. So good it even brought Bugzy out for a second look. Sheffield based grungy alt-rockers Drenge rounded out the undercard of the night. The crowd which by now were fully warmed up gave themselves completely to the band, swirling in and out of mosh pits and the band took them through their two album repertoire. Starting with the more mature efforts of their second album, ‘Never Awake’ and ‘Running Wild’ drawing big reactions from the crowd, before dropping back into their more high energy hits from their first album. Though Drenge couldn’t compete with the star power of Bloc Party, they gave it everything they could. Last out, the main event of the evening, a first Cardiff outing for Bloc Party’s new line up. Opening with ‘The Good News’, the song of their new album that is closest to their old sound, and this was perhaps an indication of how the night would progress. Combining their old hits with the occasional song from their new album they put on a show that was sure to please their fans in attendance, launching them into a raucous maelstrom of bodies from the first note of ‘Banquets’ that did not let up until they ended the show with ‘Ratchet’. The show maybe wasn’t a triumphant return of Bloc Party but it can be a solid starting place for this new Bloc Party 2.0. -Jamie Williamson


NME Tour - The Great Hall 29/01/16


f you saw Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes support Sum-41 at Cardiff Student Union in early February, you’ll probably be unlikely to refer to support acts as ‘warm-up bands’ ever again. Simply warming up an audience has never been the approach to live performance, explains singer Frank Carter. “When you’re a support band, the whole idea is to go out and try and upstage the main act. There’s never really any level of caution when I play. You really want to be the band that everybody remembers.” It is indeed an exciting time to be following Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. It was only last August that they released their debut ‘Blossom’, but fresh out of the studio, Frank explains that plans for the second album are already taking shape very nicely, and contrary to the stripped-down stereotype of punk rock, he’s letting his ambition show. “I’m just continuously trying to push the boundaries of what I’m capable of. I’ve never been good at being comfortable. On the last record, we had a 12-bar blues section. For this one, I’ve never thought so much about a record before, so I’m very excited about getting it out there.” All of which he says will hopefully be upon us in time for their first performance at Download Festival in June. A festival set to host the likes of Rammstein, whose pyrotechnic-hungry fans you imagine don’t take kindly to half-assed rock shows. Frank assures us that halfassed is never on The Rattlesnakes’ agenda: “The plan is to drop it all on everybody’s head there. An absolutely ferocious, explosive, mindmelting show of pure rock and roll.” In his ongoing quest to move forward, Frank explains that he never likes to dwell on the past. But what a past he has had; 2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of his introduction to the world, singing for Gallows’ debut album ‘Orchestra of Wolves’, before leaving the band five years later. Abandoning Gallows just as they were riding high on sophomore album ‘Grey Britain’ in 2011 would have been a disastrous career move for most artists, but he moved straight on to find success with the more melodic Pure Love. And his work nowadays with The Rattlesnakes manages to combine all the attitude

of Gallows with the unexpected turns of Pure Love into a band he says has produced his most personal material yet. The Rattlesnakes project itself came out as a bit of an accident. Frank had been writing with guitarist Dean Richardson for a while, but this is his first time in a band with him. It was supposed to be Dean’s solo project, but Frank had so much creative input, he ended up making the project his own. “[Dean’s] solo project is on hold. I’ll help him write it to return the favour at some point.” This is a man who has gone about his career with not much of an attachment to any particular musical scene; “I AM a scene”, he jokes. Whilst he admits the music press can be important, he doesn’t pay too much attention to it and tries to keep his head out of it and form his own opinions. But one difference in the music press nowadays from back when Gallows first started, Frank recalls: “Now they’re saying we’re from Hemel Hempstead, not Watford. So they’ve finally got that right.” But for now, he’s “at the very edge” of what he believes he can achieve as a person. On the first album, nowhere was this more evident than on the song ‘Paradise’. The song lyrics, “But if there is a paradise in the sky, hope you never get to see it when you die,” Frank explains were written in reference to religious extremism. This was a subject that tragically became all too relevant to live rock music months after they released the song, with the terrorist attacks that happened in Paris last November. But it seems like nothing is getting Frank to change his relentless touring habits. He commented that “The problem with extremist terrorism is that they’re not looking for a fight, they’re looking to make a statement. But stopping us from touring would count as a failure on our part and a win on theirs. We’ll continue playing these shows and we’ll continue to play that song.” A bold statement from Frank Carter. And with the way he talks about the upcoming second album, it shouldn’t be the last bold statement we hear from him in 2016. -Alec Evans



they is they is


Curated by Shape Records, “From Now On” is a hidden gem of a festival that showcases the finest experimental music from the Cardiff music scene and further abroad. Situated over three days at Chapter Arts Centre, the venue becomes as integral a part to the festival as the musical acts. Art projects litter the festival line-up, with the interactive exhibit Arc Vertiac and the expansive CAM Sinema two installations that amuse and amaze outside of the traditional musical sets.

FRIDAY Kicking off the weekend, Cardiff via Netherlands’ Accu hit the ground running with a set reminiscent of larger synthpop acts such as Purity Ring or Grimes. Possibly the headliner of the whole weekend, Julia Holter played the last set of the night, picking material from 2013’s Loud City Song and last year’s Have You In My Wilderness, both critically acclaimed releases that serve as chamber pop’s best instalments in the genre in some time. Despite some technical difficulties, Holter remained calm (and hilarious) throughout, satisfying a packed Theatre with exquisite renditions of her great studio tracks. Away from the main theatre and out in the Studio, former Race Horses member Meilyr Jones put on an impressive performance that will continue to raise his profile ahead of debut solo album “2013”. Jones was a joy to watch on stage, with his antics extending to pacing across the front of the stage frantically, ripping up pieces of art from the walls and just generally taking the piss out of the audience. The set certainly paid homage to great frontmen of old, or a more modern comparison could be that of Ought’s erratic Tim Darcy.



julia holter



Dark, booming electronic music is the theme of Saturday, with Mark Lyken’s interpretation of Ben F Laposky’s “Oscillon”, mixing ethereal wave graphics with gloomy, ambient compositions. Bristol’s Giant Swan upped the ante with raw, driving techno-noise that blows any cobwebs away, before Apostille became the personification of a human wrecking ball or what a reincarnation of LCD Soundsystem would sound like if James Murphy thought his signature dance-punk was not explosive enough. If the previous sets were too dark for someone’s liking, Happy Meals came along to brighten up the day with infectious synth-funk: so infectious that one half of the duo, Suzanne Cook, decided that a dance-off in the crowd is essential. In a similar vein, Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep closed out the day with a tight performance consisting of sunny psych-pop tracks reminiscent of former tourmates Django Django. However, the major talking point of the Saturday schedule was that of Breadwoman, a product of cult 80s release Breadwoman & Other Tales given a physical performance by Anna Homler, Steve Moshier and the Breadwoman herself. As Homler’s godly chanting and Moshier’s heavenly melodies proliferated around the Stiwdio, a mood washed over the audience that fused together fear and fascination that was only enhanced by the Breadwoman’s hypnotising, almost static movements. Unfortunately, words don’t really give the performance justice; it’s certainly a ‘see-it-to-believe-it’ piece.

SUNDAY If there was one day that could be put forward as an example of how different From Now On is from other festivals, Sunday’s offerings would be just that. Not every festival is able to put on an opera, and even more so an ‘anti-opera’. Tim Parkinson’s ‘Time With People’ is a fascinating look into what an opera actually can be. Starting off with a therapist-esque outpouring of seemingly random life events by two performers while others wade through a pile of garbage in the background, ‘Time With People’ only gets more amusing, bizarre and several other characteristics that lend to its offbeat nature. Spending a significant amount of the allotted time beating up said garbage between takes of choreographed pointing and standing formations, ‘Time With People’ culminates in a drum and chorus combo that peaks with screams of “Together!” The facilities on offer in Chapter also allowed for a great experimentation by H. Hawkline and co., who live soundtracked Gruff Rhys’ favourite 70s Welsh horror movie Gwaed ar y Sed. From today’s perspective of modern cinema, Gwaed ar y Sed comes off as a cheesy B-movie, but add the element of a superbly creepy psychedelic soundtrack that mixes with the movie so well that it feels as much as home as the original soundtrack does and the project becomes an apt love letter to the filmmaking of old.


Not finished for the day, H. Hawkline joined Sweet Baboo (who also played bass in the Gwaed ar y Sed performance) for Synthfonia Cymru, a performance that was shaped as much by the audience as the musicians themselves. With the appropriate theme of ‘Love’ – seeing as it was Valentine’s Day – audience members were able to express their view of what ‘Love’ is by typing it into a larger projection, with the musicians changing the output of their synths to match the mood of the latest input. The spontaneous nature of the project could have resulted in a messy affair, but each musician worked together exquisitely to react to the changing moods. Some examples include the input of “Love is losing track of time”, which resulted in a more ambient production, while “Love is as scary as typing in front of everyone” created a more sinister, unnerving atmosphere. Juxtaposing the grand nature of the earlier sets, Thomas Benevolt’s, stage name L’Ocelle Mare, brought together banjos, rushing feet tapping, blown amps and a wide array of equipment for a manic one man band set that was brimming with raw emotion. L’Ocelle Mare’s set felt like a coming together of sorts for everyone at From Now On and instead of facing a stage as per tradition, the set-up saw the audience curve around Benevolt in the middle of the theatre. Impassioned, mad scientist-esque displays were met with a dazed crowd who would then erupt into applause during down periods, only to be met with a humble “Merci” from Benevolt and a nod.


ticke availa ts ble cardif fstude at: Tocyn na m cardif u ar gael a fstude r : m

mething There’s so one! for every ywbeth Mae yna r i bawb!


ELIZA AND THE BEAR Slowlights kicked off their last support date with Eliza and The Bear in Cardiff with a few strangely placed riffs but entertaining a fairly large crowd of teenagers at the front none the less. They were followed by Rock NTI (we can’t remember what it stands for either) who were great entertainers in a mash of spoken words and powerful but cutesy piano in a Frank Turner-esque style. Relatable bangers like ‘Netflix & Marriage’ which was as full of catchy-yet-cringey lyrics as you’d expect, and getting the crowd to join in on a modified chorus of ‘I’m not American, I am a Welshman’ got the crowd just excited enough for the headline act. Eliza and The Bear managed to create a full, rich sound on stage which got even the perhaps cynical paramore lovers jumping and screaming, with pseudo-brass and strings creating another level of sound for the 5-piece. The instrumentation on stage works, and they gave the music all they had, with every member surely sweating ridiculous amounts by

the second song. High energy harmonies throughout each song ensure everyone in the sold-out crowd oohs along, and their energy sort of shouts at the cynic inside of you, telling you to just let go, pretend you’re 16 again and sing as if your life depends on it. A go-pro hooked to the headstock of Martin Dukelow’s guitar provides some fun during a fast and brilliant keyboard solo by the insane Callie Noakes. The ‘darker’ stuff from the upcoming album which they played was about as dark as Y Plas at closing time, and new song ‘Crawl’ is already a hit, apart from the perhaps unnecessary pre-recorded choir vocals used. They finished off the show with ‘the one you’ve heard on Radio 1,’ and ‘the one from the Bulmers advert’ for their encore, and you saw that glimpse of unashamedly losing yourself to cheesy, good music within a definite majority of the audience. Erin Gillespie





It’s been a hard life in recent years for Bloc Party fans. The band’s first twoyear hiatus ended in 2011 in the form of the comparatively lacklustre album ‘Four’, before it all came crashing down in an apparently cocaine fuelled fashion in 2013. It seemed like Bloc Party would never emerge from the hiatus that followed, being consigned as part of the long list of bands that couldn’t quite work through their differences. That is until good news came in the form of frontman Kele Okereke’s 2014 admission that the band were working on their fifth album, and in 2015 it appeared they were making good on that promise. Armed with a new sound and a much changed line up, band mainstays Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack being joined by newcomers Justin Harris and Louise Bartle, debuted their new track ‘The Good News’ at Radio 1’s Maida Vale studio. With the band’s fifth album ‘Hymns’ releasing back in January Quench caught up with guitarist Russell Lissack to talk about the new release.


The assembly of Bloc Party 2.0 began with new bass player, Justin Harris, a musician who the band already had some association with. “We already knew him [Justin] because he’s in another band, Menomena, who supported us in America in 2009/2010, so we knew him already.” New Drummer Louise on the other hand had a less traditional route to membership. “Someone sent us a link to some videos she put up on Youtube and we were really, really impressed so we invited her down to the studio to meet her, and to jam and it progressed from there really.” The new line up however, didn’t have much of a chance to influence Bloc Party’s latest album with both members joining late on in the process. “Louise didn’t join until we’d pretty much already finished recording the album, and Justin was involved in the recording but he didn’t join until pretty late in the writing process.” Yet, they are already having an influence on the new material being written by the band. “We’re trying to write as much as we can; trying to write some new things everyday. It’s naturally going to be different you know, whenever you work with someone else they’re always going to bring something different, bring their influences and their style to it.” Despite the late arrival of the two new members, ‘Hymns’ definitely brings with it a different sound than the previous Bloc Party albums, and it seems this was something of a conscious effort from the band. “Our intention when we started writing the music was to do something really different from our last record, that’s always been our MO, to try and do something new and challenge ourselves. We tried to focus more on individual sounds than

lots of things on top of each other, but when you’re creating music you always fall into what comes naturally to you so I suppose it’s an amalgamation of trying to do something you haven’t done before but still incorporating the elements that make it you.” This new direction even influenced frontman Kele’s writing style. “This record was different in that he wrote a lot of the lyrics, and the vocals very early on in the process. This was pretty much one of the first times that he had lyrics and themes in his mind that he wanted to express. We started putting the vocals on much, much earlier in the process.” Touring hasn’t always been kind to Bloc Party, but Russell seemed excited to be back on the road. “Playing live has always been my favourite part of being a musician, so yeah, it’s really, really cool to be touring again and playing shows. I’m really enjoying it so far.” When talking of their Cardiff stop at The Great Hall, Russel relays, “It was good, it was really good. It was nice to meet all the other bands doing the tour, and getting to see them play for the first time.” Finally, Justin looks to the future of the band in 2016, with good news in store for any Bloc Party fans looking for more. “We’ve got a fair bit of touring coming up, UK and the US, and then definitely doing a lot of festivals around the world this summer, and then we’re trying to write as much new material as we can, so hopefully we’ll have something new out sooner rather than later.” -Jamie Williamson

“Playing live has always been my favourite part of being a musician, so yeah, it’s really, really cool to be touring again and playing shows. I’m really enjoying it so far.”



The majority of romance-themed games seem to deal with things from a man’s point of view. Where’s the fun in that, I say- I can do that in real life. What I want from a romance game is the chance to play things from a woman’s perspective. It may even help me out in the long term, to put myself in the opposite sex’s shoes for a bit. Step in then, Yandere Simulator, in which you play as a Japanese schoolgirl who has an allencompassing crush on one particular boy in her school. She decides the best way to go about winning his love is to kill all the other girls in the school. This being a school, of course, she needs to do this without arousing suspicion- first so she doesn’t get arrested and second so that she can kill yet more students. This gives rise to ridiculous gameplay (think burning bodies and mopping blood between classes) in the beta version of the as yet unfinished game. The school is reduced to a hellish world where nothing seems to matter except the “Yandere” protagonist’s love for the boy who stands under a tree, completely oblivious to the mass murder. All her interactions with female classmates (that don’t involve killing them) are based around convincing them to stay away from her crush, or luring them to locations to get killed in. Classes are mainly a quick round of button-mashing, the girl desperate to get back out to the schoolyard where she can once again gaze upon the boy of her murderous dreams. It’s some kind of crazy, tongue-in-cheek commentary on what it means to be (literally) madly in love. I guess there must have been a girl at some point in my life who went around killing other girls in order to get my attention, but I never noticed. I’m just clueless.





“I guess there must have been a girl at some point in my life who went round killing other girls in order to get my attention, but I never noticed. I’m just clueless.”

Most of my experiences with romance in video games seem to parallel my experiences with romance in real life. That is they usually start off well, but inevitably spiral towards certain doom after a short period of time. Meryl Silverburgh has to be the first interesting love interest I stumbled upon in gaming. When you’re initially introduced to her she is disguised in enemy uniform and holds a gun to your face. The gun and uniform that she has stolen from the soldier guarding her prison cell (who lies knocked out and naked in the corner of the room). She escapes and later in order to contact her, the fourth wall is shattered as you need to look for her radio frequency on the back of the actual CD case. After some casual flirting you meet up. Things are okay until she gets mind controlled by a psychic and then shot by a sniper. Meryl’s life hangs in the balance when you get captured and tortured. As electricity runs through your entire body, the only way you can survive is to repeatedly press the circle button to sustain your life bar. If you give in, Meryl dies. If you die then you have to go all the way back to your previous save (and this was a time before auto-save so it was a pretty big threat). I never thought that you could win this mini-game, so I would foolishly submit defeat every time. It wasn’t until six years later when I saw Meryl in the trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4 that I realised that canonically she was still alive! Anyway, she ends up marrying that soldier she knocked out in the first game. A more recent intimate experience comes from The Witcher 3, where Geralt gets involved with both Triss Merigold and Yennefer of Vengerburg (interestingly the only non-redhead in this article). It’s at this moment in time that I realised I find it difficult to say “no” to people. Subsequently I didn’t reject either Triss or Yennefer when they declared their love for me and looking back, it may not have been the smartest move to sleep with both parties. The two sorceresses inevitably find out and lead you to think that they both want to be involved in an act of inappropriate cheekiness. The night eventually leads to them tying you on the bed and leaving you there wearing nothing but your pants. Hopefully an experience that I will never have to relate to. SAMAN IZADYAR




IN THE VIRTUAL REALM Alexander Jones takes a look at the things we will soon be wearing on our heads to escape reality Technology has come such a long way over the span of under 50 years, it’s hard to imagine what crazy new perspective on life we will witness next. Virtual reality and augmented reality used to be concepts in sci-fi films and comics, but here we are in 2015 with these amazing pieces of tech just around the corner. People have reacted in some pretty amusing ways, such as waving their arms around aimlessly and occasionally even falling over from nausea. I guess it can only be a good sign if people are fooled into thinking there are giant dinosaurs roaring in their face, or even an animelike woman lying in bed next to you, staring into your soul…yeah that’s a thing. Creeps. So yeah, technology continues to be used for the greatest and most bizarre of things, but how does it hold up? Is it any good or is it just another expensive gimmick that we’ll all be fooled into buying? Surprisingly, VR isn’t as new a thing as you’d believe it to be. Attempts at creating a virtual reality to shelter ourselves from the harshness of real life problems began before 1950 in the form of the View-Master. Although VR was more of a concept than an actual thing you could use back then. Enough history. From a gaming perspective we are lucky enough to witness the development of three major VR and AR headsets. There’s the Oculus Rift, Sony VR and Microsoft’s interesting augmented reality headset HoloLens. The VR headsets are slated for a 2016 release, however the HoloLens will sadly only be available as a development kit in 2016 and costing $3000, which is almost ten times the price of the other two kits. It would appear that virtual reality is closer than we think, with both Oculus Rift and Sony VR offering the sensation of being shot in the face on Call of Duty in less than a year for approximately $350. These two pieces of tech can be compared with each other quite fairly as they both aim to achieve the same goal, whereas Microsoft’s HoloLens is on a different level all together. So which is better? Firstly it is important to note that these devices are limited to what platforms they can actually operate on. Sony VR

is obviously targeted towards the PlayStation side of gaming and despite Oculus’ partnership with Microsoft, the Rift is solely made for PC gaming. The fact that the Oculus Rift focuses entirely on PC gaming comes with its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the PC market for indie games is continuously increasing in size and quality. Games that allow for VR headsets to be used are growing and are only going to get better with time. Another upside to Oculus Rift is its compatibility with other motion devices, such as the Virtuix Omni which allows the player to control character movement. The major downside to the PC-only take on things is that if you want to run an Oculus Rift, you’re more than likely going to need a very powerful computer to maximise your experience. VR without 60 frames per second or a high enough resolution will limit your fun levels to average, so you might have to invest even more of that student loan into your PC rig. Sony VR on the other hand will provide less hassle in terms of configuration and setup. It will work perfectly with PlayStation Move and Dualshock 4. The simplicity of out-of-the-box VR will be a significant factor for many in buying the Sony headset. Finally we have Microsoft’s HoloLens. I’ve separated the HoloLens on its own because it's augmented reality not VR. At this current time there hasn’t really been any hands-on experience with the HoloLens, just a couple of showcases and demos. The overall impression is hugely positive, watching Minecraft become part of the living room or a video player follow you around your house so you never miss a second is truly incredible. HoloLens demonstrates a massive step forward in technology that will eventually be available for gamers and the everyday consumer. However at the very steep price tag that it currently holds, that scenario may take some time. Clearly both VR sets are shaping up quite nicely and both have good points and bad, but the simple method of deduction is: do you own a PlayStation? Yes? Then get Sony VR. No? Get the Rift.




Elis Doyle takes us through the digital tunnel of love.


VIDEO GAMES Hello there dear reader, before you read this article I ask of you one simple task, to ask yourself something relevant to this time of the year: Valentines Day. Do you consider yourself quite the Lothario? Capable of commanding the unified attraction of multiple people at once, with a silver tongue and striking looks to boot, and the ability to sway even the coldest heart with your wit and charm?... Me neither, but do not fret! Since their invention several decades ago, video games have attempted, and in some cases even succeeded, to emulate themes felt in our everyday life. It was only a matter of time before these individuals of unparalleled brilliance managed to inject our thirst for romance and love into our favourite form of entertainment. However, no journey is totally without it's problems, and this one in particular has been fraught with bumps all throughout, whether that be ridiculous dialogue or truly bizarre ways of engaging in said romantic interactions. I will attempt to discern and explore the lengths that video games have gone to in order to create a truly genuine romantic experience. Would I consider myself a fanatic of said experiences? Well, yes and no, since I do enjoy them as a supplement to an already well written and crafted story, especially if they are well paced themselves. As a genre itself, I can't say I have ever been truly interested in romance in fiction. However, gaming has allowed for some very colourful mechanics and some truly bizarre creations in regards to romance. One that comes to mind is Catherine, a game where you play an average guy named Vincent who is in a long term relationship, but is approached by another more alluring woman one evening in a bar. In the day, you simply speak to other characters and based on the decisions you make the narrative will change, but during the night you are forced into a puzzle/nightmare whereupon you must climb a series of platforms as an anthropomorphic sheep-man in plight of

Pretty simple right? In my line of dating I can’t say I’ve ever had to evade falling to my death via a collusion of incredibly difficult puzzles. And thank God, as my upper body strength is shocking. The winding staircase does not end there either my friends, behold Hunie Pop, which appears to be your average dating simulator, but in fact this masquerade hides its true form as an extremely addictive Candy Crush clone! Haven't you ever dreamt of seducing women with your talent to explode corresponding coloured hearts? Well, I'm sorry to say that your skills in 'Sex Tetris' wouldn't translate well into reality, different strokes and all that I guess. “Come now!” I hear you yelp, “There must be some kind of dating simulator which can help me learn to interact with the opposite sex!” Never fear, through my travels in the world of PC marketplace Steam, I came upon another gem to tantalize your romantic desires. Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating simulator with a seemingly simple objective. You play as a high school student who simply wants to get through their classes and perhaps meet somebody special. The only snag is: everybody is a pigeon. You read that right, everyone in the whole world, bar you, is a bloody sentient pigeon. Don't ask me how, but as for why... well, eventually every creative idea has to be conceptualised, doesn't it? That said, I don't see this working in real life either, unless you have a unique fascination with our feathered friends. In that case I highly suggest you go see a doctor. At least these games follow a familiar formula: whilst playing Undertale, I discovered you can 'date' both a narcissistic skeleton, a fish warrior and an otaku dinosaur scientist (and kill them but that’s beside the point). You'd think these farfetched ideas of love would remain reserved to independent titles, but you'd be wrong. As far as Nintendo goes with portraying romance, all we had was the vicious love triangle of Mario, Bowser and Peach, which showed us that all you need to get the princess is to be a plumber with an unhealthy obsession with mushrooms. That was until Fire Emblem: Awakening which introduced the feature of allowing players to become friends with, and even marry, characters within the game.

“Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating simulator with a seemingly simple objective. You play as a high school student who simply wants to get through their classes and perhaps meet somebody special. The only snag is: everybody is a


Although, one of the characters expresses their love for the player based on your shared love for throwing rocks at snakes, who knew? This is not nearly as immediately odd as romance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where apparently I can go to a village I’ve never visited before, hand a woman some ring I’d looted off some poor dude’s body and proceed to get hitched. Or in Fallout 3 where you pay a prostitute for ‘sex’ and spend the next two minutes clipping through the bed. Let's not forget the classic game The Sims, which proved that speaking gibberish to a neighbour, for at least seven hours, with no sleep, food or bathroom breaks is guaranteed to get you laid. In the case that they ever cross you, all you have to do is lure them into your conveniently placed swimming pool, remove the ladders and watch them drown, and who said videogames were sadistic? At least there was an attempt, and it's not like romance is the focal point of these games either. Bioware, the company behind juggernauts like Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age, show us that video games do have the capability to construct an actual believable romance without all the weird game mechanics and abruptness. Lets take Knights of the Old Republic for example, where the first encounter of the protagonist and their love interest is fraught with peril, because of this they initially get off on the wrong foot. Thankfully, instead of an incredibly convoluted way of them becoming closer they... er... "Force Bond"?! Sod it- I've searched endlessly and I'm convinced that there has never been a genuine display of romance or love in video games. I'm afraid that taking video games as the digital Kama Sutra or guide to dating is indeed a dangerous path, a restraining order is almost certainly on the cards, and in the unlikely event it does work you better brush up on that Konami Code to spice up your love life.


VIDEO GAMES Many gamers have had this discussion: what makes a videogame a ‘game’? Can it focus on storytelling? How much ‘gameplay’ is too little? Ask Google and it’ll say that a game is either “a form of competitive activity played according to rules”, or “an activity that one engages in for amusement." Neither definition has any meat behind it. Instead, I found an interpretation by Greg Costikyan, a writer

ADVENTURE GAMES The 90s was the age of point-and-click adventure games like Grim Fandango, which was recently remastered by Double Fine. Their charm came from humorous storylines and dialogues, and challenging puzzles. It could be argued that such products aren’t games because they focus on storytelling over gameplay. But, like in Her Story, the skill involved in solving the puzzles is key. As the story progresses, players utilise seemingly useless items in creative ways to solve every new problem. Because of this, I’m renewing their visa in the land of games.

“Game engines can tell a story in a way that books cannot replicate.”

GONE HOME VS HER STORY Gone Home won awards for its beautiful story, which unfolds during the player’s exploration of an empty mansion. The focus is exclusively on great storytelling, there are no goals or game mechanics, so according to Costikyan’s criteria, it isn’t a game at all. Steve Gaynor, one of Gone Home’s writers, said it qualifies as a game because player experiences differ. This sounded valid, until he elaborated by claiming that experiences vary because people interpret things differently. English students constantly analyse fiction to produce their own interpretations, but, like Gone Home, a novel is not a game. At first glance, Her Story is nothing like Gone Home, but both require exploration to progress the story. The key difference is that while Gone Home’s story is revealed as you simply wander about a house, Her Story makes you work much harder for the same reward. Picking out useful information from interrogation videos takes a small modicum of skill, and some players will find progress slow. This pushes Her Story over the borderline and awards it with ‘game’ status.


and game designer. He says games are defined by impactful decision-making, goals, and something that makes it hard to achieve those goals. Additional features improve upon this basic formula, but without the core components, a game is not a ‘game’. This definition seems reasonable, so we’ll use it here to figure out what actually counts as a ‘game’. I should say that the line separating game


and non-game is blurred, with no right or wrong definition. This article features the opinions of a single man, and many will disagree. But by using the criteria set out above to evaluate some ‘games,' I’ll walk you through my argument, and possibly get you thinking about it too. In my experience, this discussion always turns to one title in particular – Gone Home, so that’s where we’ll start.

QUICK TIME EVENTS Quick time events, or QTEs, require the player to press the right button when prompted in order to succeed. I’m not a fan, so I’m happy to admit that by constraining a player into performing a certain action at a specific moment, often resulting in immediate failure otherwise, traditional QTEs don’t give players freedom to make decisions. If something was made entirely of such events, it wouldn’t qualify as a game. But some games, like Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, rely on a new type of QTE, where mistakes don’t force a restart, but change the outcome. A game with these QTEs meets Costikyan’s criteria. Close, so have the cigar anyway By my definition, Gone Home and The Beginner’s Guide aren’t games. Big whoop. They’re examples of the alternative to ‘proper’ games. Game engines can tell a story in a way that books cannot replicate. Many people already find plot more important than gameplay, preferring games like Mass Effect over Call of Duty. This debate is just an academic exercise, being a ‘game’ isn’t important, and developers shouldn’t limit themselves by making their product fit that status. Gone Home and The Beginner’s Guide achieve different things to mainstream videogames, so need a new label to identify by. Personally, I like ‘Interactive Art’.

THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE VS THE STANLEY PARABLE The Beginner’s Guide is advertised as having “no traditional mechanics, no goals or objectives”. Players follow the story of a game developer named Coda as they’re guided through his unfinished games by the narrator. Its exploration of personal topics is thought provoking, but it’s even less of a game than Gone Home. Being walked through it by a narrator means players can’t make an impact. They’re simply an excuse for the story to be told. Similarly, The Stanley Parable features a clever script, a superb narrator, and a noticeable lack of game mechanics. Unlike The Beginner’s Guide, however, players have choices and can experiment in order to achieve several bizarre endings. Player choice and the goal of unlocking every ending means that The Stanley Parable wins the right to the title of ‘game’.


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Canines have to take the back seat when it comes to man’s best friend in video games. All dogs can do is look cute and bark… you can’t even use them as a means of transportation. This is where the domesticated horse comes in. This naturally makes them the perfect companions to go on adventures with, and is essential for the pre-industrial open-world settings commonly used in games. So, let’s not foal around, as Saman Izadyar takes a look at the best of the best...




Geralt’s horse gets the sympathy vote due to the sheer amount of shit she puts up with. Being the ride of a monster hunter means that Roach will run into scary beasts every day; including but not limited to: trolls, griffins, werewolves and giant frogs. Meaning that she gets terrified on a regular basis (further supplemented by the fact that horses can’t hold swords or learn magic spells, making them pretty useless in a fight). Yet still she sticks around by Geralt’s side, even when he constantly uses magic to calm her down. If that wasn’t enough, Geralt likes to take trophies from the bounties he accomplishes to pretentiously show off how talented he is. Unfortunately another downside to being a horse is that you can’t speak English, so Roach wouldn’t be able to object to having severed heads displayed on her saddle. It’s clear that she has unwavering loyalty, otherwise she would’ve cantered sassily away many moons ago.

Another example of extreme loyalty and affection can be found in the PlayStation 2 classic Shadow of the Colossus. Agro is the sole companion of Wander on his quest to resurrect a cursed girl named Mono. Wander must perform a controversial ritual that demands the death of 16 Colossi – huge, beautiful creatures that peacefully inhabit The Forbidden Lands. Without Agro, this task would be near impossible. Agro’s speed helps in the fight against the faster moving colossi, allowing Wander to dodge attacks and fire his bow whilst on horseback. Albeit, the stead’s most notable act <spoiler alert> comes later in the game in a scene that really “stirrups” your emotions. The pair must cross a stone bridge in order to reach the final Colossus. You can probably guess what happens. The bridge starts to collapse whilst Agro swiftly gallops and bucks Wander to the other side. Agro falls as Wander helplessly looks in despair.

As one would expect, Big Boss’ horse is the most tactical on this list. If James Bond didn’t drive luxurious Aston Martins then he would definitely opt for D-Horse. Like most equine characters, D-Horse has the ability to follow simple commands such as “Stay” and comes to your aid at the sound of a whistle. No-one really understands how video game horses magically appear near you when you call them considering no-one has ever seen a horse teleport. This suggests that maybe horses are smarter than we give them credit for. Perhaps the most eminent of D-Horse’s abilities is the skill to defecate on command. A well placed poo can make light vehicles swerve out of control and incapacitate any driver with the misfortune to stumble upon this brown trap. A truly impressive trait for any horse to have and an absolute mare for provisional drivers in Cathays.






In the Undead Nightmare add-on to everyone’s favourite cowboy simulator, zombies have taken over the AmericanMexican border. With the undead comes an assortment of mythical creatures and amongst the sasquatches, chupacabras and jackalopes come Famine, Pestilence, War and Death. Each have their own unique powers that are very loosely based on their biblical interpretations. War is engulfed in flames and sets enemies on fire, Pestilence is covered in wounds and is surrounded by a sickly green mist that stuns the undead, Famine is accompanied by a swarm of locusts and is the fastest of all the horses and finally, the most powerful, Death who can elegantly make zombies’ heads explode on contact.




lichés, tropes, dead horses, lazy design, whatever you prefer to call it- clichés are inherent in video games. Some have evolved alongside the medium, starting as a clever solution to hardware limitations and never changing since. Some are more recent, being a simple solution to make a game fun or functional. They aren’t necessarily mechanical clichés, the often barebones plotline of a video game can be filled with them. The most obvious example is the “red barrel” in a shooter. So far, the player has moved through a map mainly consisting of fights against lone enemies to warm them up, or perhaps pairs or trios to make them feel good about their headshot skills. They pop up from cover to find not two or three, this time, but a whole gallery of baddies, and quickly duck back down as a volley of ammo passes over their head. Quickly peeking again they notice a red barrel marked “X,” “Flammable,” or “Oil” standing innocently between the enemy soldiers, perhaps a chain of barrels leading away from it. So, the player quickly pops up and a single well aimed pistol shot ignites the barrel, it explodes, It’s really the enemies’ bodies become refreshing when ragdolls and are a game takes thrown aside as the chain reaction a new look at off and other old tricks, and sets barrels finish off sometimes players the stragglers. It’s a great way to wish it would be display a mechanic done more. and make a player feel happy with their new skills. It’s far from new of course- off the top of my head, I can think of this being present in Half-Life 2 (2004), Tomb Raider’s reboot (2013), and Sniper Elite 3 (2014), and I’m sure anyone who’s played a few shooters could think of more examples. It’s nice, familiar, but undoubtedly unoriginal. Barrels were in Donkey Kong way back in 1981, and appeared in their modern, volatile format in early PC shooters like Doom and Duke Nukem. Sometimes we begin to rely on these tropes as concrete “video game knowledge” and it can sometimes take someone who doesn’t play many games to have a fresh view on things. When I was playing

Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011), I got stuck, as is usual with a Zelda game, not on a puzzle but a very simple misunderstanding. Without spoiling it too much, in one of the game’s best dungeons you receive a whip, much like Indiana Jones might use, which paired with the game’s motion controls is a very satisfying way to knock down enemies, swing from branches and pull on levers. There are two types of door in the dungeon: solid doors that you press A to open (unless it’s locked and you need a key first) and iron bars. The iron bars don’t load up a new room if you manage to go through; they just seal off parts of the current room. I didn’t really understand this though, and assumed they were some kind of invisible wall, and that throwing the whip towards the bars would mean it would bounce off the air in between the bars which were only “for show”. My uncle, who was sitting next to me, suggested aiming the whip towards the lever behind the bars, and it worked to my disbelief. For a Nintendo game especially, it seemed quite advanced- and that’s why I hadn’t even thought to try it. It’s really refreshing when a game takes a new look at old tricks, and sometimes players wish it would be done more. Sometimes games take it too far- as in last year’s Earthbound-parodying RPG, Citizens of Earth, where real people (hipsters, politicians, police, you name it) are parodied alongside shockingly dense amounts of old RPG clichés. In this case it doesn’t really work as the game doesn’t seem to have anything new to bring to the table and seems to lean way too much on how zany it is for referencing old games. It’s at stark contrast to Undertale, which sometimes literally thinks outside of the box, really mixing up the way we think about RPGs, especially the battle system and relations with other characters- everyone is there for a reason. Compare the response to Undertale, full of new ideas as well as satire of old ones, and Citizens of Earth, relying solely on loose parody of old ideas, and you should be able to plainly see which style of cliché treatment players prefer.




So far this year our director spotlight has been, for lack of a better term, a bit of a sausage fest. This wasn’t an intentional decision, but more to do with the fact that the number of renowned female film directors with enough films to fill this double-page can be counted on one hand; a hand that has a few fingers missing at that. Last year men were responsible for directing 85% of all American movies, with women only being in charge of 7% of the top 250 Hollywood films. Sofia Coppola is not one of those women, but that is not to say that she hasn’t created some cinematic masterpieces. Some people assert that it’s not what you know, but who you know, and this may well be the case for Sofia, whose father is director Francis Ford Coppola, and is cousins with cinema legend and national treasure, Nicolas Cage, amongst several other famous faces in the film world. But regardless of her family connections, Coppola is a talented director in her own right, with more Oscars than Leonardo DiCaprio (here’s hoping this is his year!). So if you want to watch some aesthetically delightful films, Quench Film and TV are here to give you a run down on some of her best!


The Bling Ring (2013) Mariana Diaz In 2010 Vanity Fair released an article about a small group of teenage friends who managed to break into some celebrity houses, based in Hollywood, and steal millions of dollars. This article inspired Sofia Coppola to direct, and write along with Nancy Jo Sales, The Bling Ring; a film that satirizes the meaningless, and shallow lives of a teenage group from L.A. Influenced by fame, money and social media, Rebecca (Katie Chang) and Marc (Israel Broussard) decided to surround themselves with beautiful and expensive objects, so that they could show them off. Their private adventure started with just the two of them breaking into wealthy residences and stealing few objects from them. By doing this, the owners would not notice they had been robbed. At the end, they invited three more girls to share in their expensive secret, and googled other well known residences to steal valuable articles. Coppola approached this story with a sensitive perspective. She makes the spectator feel the friendship between Marc and Rebecca, and almost pity them for their personals choices. Coppola narrates the story from the young group of friends’ perspective, making the audience understand their point of view. A film that will keep you thinking about the banality of social media and fame, and the deconstructed reality they revealed. Because in the end, is it just fame and wealth that we all want?



FILM + TV The Virgin Suicides (1999) Allanah Williams The brief lives of the unattainable Lisbon sisters make up the compelling, emotional and often depressive storyline of Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut. Therese, Bonnie, Mary, Lux and Cecile are an almost perfect group of girls. It’s something which they themselves cannot quite comprehend when becoming the intense objects of affection of a group of neighbourhood boys. Nevertheless, it’s something they embrace and have fun with, especially the most promiscuous of the Lisbon clan, fourteen year old Lux (excellently played by Kirsten Dunst). The Virgin Suicides is a reactionary tale to the events which occur at the beginning of the film. The attempted suicide of the youngest of the Lisbon sisters, Cecile, further isolates these mysterious sisters and emphasises the tragedy within the confines of their family. The films narration is that of reminiscence. These intrigued, albeit now much older, neighbourhood boys document their encounter with the girls during one of the most vulnerable times for the human race; the brink of adolescence. The sisters’ untouchability and purity, intensely perpetuated by their conservative and catholic mother, is what is makes them lusted over even more. They are the forbidden fruit. ‘We want what we can’t have’; a sentiment embodied by high school dreamboat, Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), whose desire for Lux is a catalyst for the fate of the Lisbon sisters. We know the unfortunate outcome of the girls right from the very start, but still, the abruptness of it leaves us shocked and confused exactly as to why. The sisters had such an intensity and impulsivity to them that their actions are arguably the final grand and symbolic gesture of their short lives. It’s not your cliché coming-ofage film, and whilst praise is due for Coppola’s distinctive cinematography as well as her interpretation of Jeffrey Eugenides novel, the acute elements of comedy which are strangely juxtaposed with feelings of sorrow and an often melancholy tone, probably mean it’s not going to be every teenagers cup of tea.

Marie Antoinette (2006) Ciara Gillespie Coppola’s biopic about Marie Antoinette hit screens in late 2006, depicting the infamous queen’s life throughout her teens and towards her tumultuous demise. Coppola’s frothy, seductive directorial style is clear from the first few frames depicting the teenage Marie Antoinette sprawled out on a velvet lounge chair whilst Gang of Four blares in the background. Kirsten Dunst is stunning as the lead playing the precocious and vastly misunderstood young Queen. We follow her as she is married into the French court at the age of 14 to the naïve and pubescent Louis XVI portrayed by the ever-wonderful Jason Schwartzman. What makes Coppola’s biopic different from any other biopic that would cover the subject is that the movie does not wish to merely recreate and portray a historic moment in time; Coppola is much more interested in showcasing Marie as a young, naïve, sometimes foolish girl; one who makes mistakes, cries, laughs and is quissentially human. Coppola breaks away from the iconic Queen Marie “let them eat cake” Antoinette and makes her appear to be what she really was; a young and somewhat misguided woman. The movie takes place entirely within the confines of the magnificent Palace of Versailles (where the real Antoinette spent a lot of her time). Coppola was given an all access grant to the Palais and it only further contributes to make this film a must-watch. No set piece or fake location could capture even the essence of the beauty of Versailles so having the film set within there was a must for Coppola. Alongside the incredible splendor of the grounds of Versailles we have a backdrop of music from the 90’s – 00’s. This eclectic mix of music shouldn’t work with a biopic about a Queen who lived in the 16th century but it somehow completely does. Coppola cleverly mixes the Then with the Now and through familiar tunes and songs we form a deeper care and connection to the young Queen, which only Coppola knows how to do best.

Somewhere (2010) Magnus McGrigor Within the first half-an-hour of Somewhere, the audience has seen two strip shows (from twins), countless ample bosoms, and a voyeuristic car chase reminiscent of Sean Connery in his “ninety-nine no’s and a yes, mean yes” prime. Sofia Coppola, though, does not show her audience the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as they are used to seeing it. Instead, she aptly uses the exact same lenses her father, Francis Ford Coppola, did in Rumble Fish. Apt because the protagonist, actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff ), is shown to crawl through his A-list lifestyle, numb to the spoils all others swoon over him for. Lingering shots capture the isolation and banality of life at the top, forcing the audience to empathise with a protagonist on his last legs and his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), who begins to bring him back to something nearing happiness. The consistent lack of pace (and at times plot) does begin to grate, even with the comic relief provided by a creepily upbeat Chris Pontius. Yes, “party boy” from Jackass. Whereas in Lost in Translation Bill Murray forcibly drags his audience with him, Stephen Dorff lacks that gargantuan presence, and the film can meander rather than romp. In one scene Johnny is fitted with a prosthetic mask and left to sit still for 40 minutes, Coppola translates this into a 1:45m panning shot accompanied only by his breathing. Depending on your poignancy pallet this might be mesmerising, or like watching latex dry. “I’m fucking nothing” Johnny says on the phone to his ex-wife near the end: This isn’t the rekindling of a fatherdaughter relationship it might be, more a beautifully shot exploration of teetering depression and isolation in a crowd.

A ‘valentine’ to Tokyo as Coppola describes the film herself, Lost in Translation is bound to leave viewers with a bittersweet aftertaste. Lost in Translation (2003) Stephany Damyanova A ‘valentine’ to Tokyo as Coppola describes the film herself, Lost in Translation is bound to leave viewers with a bittersweet aftertaste. The storyline revolves around Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson), a young woman who joins her husband on his work trip to Tokyo and Bob (Bill Murray), an aging actor, who is going through a midlife crisis, travelling to Tokyo to shoot an ad. They meet in a hotel bar and start spending time with each other in the days that follow, forming a platonic relationship and bonding over their feelings of detachment and their search for passion. Coppola’s admiration for Tokyo and the Japanese culture is very noticeable throughout the film. She wanted to portray the struggle of these two people trying to find their way in life by discovering each other and manages to do that perfectly by placing them in the surroundings of an unknown and overwhelming city which deeply resonates with their views of the world. Although the film revolves around Charlotte and Bob’s budding romance, it offers a postromantic portrayal of love, which rejects the notions of monogamy and stereotypical relationships and has a bit of a negative take on romance and dating. It is, nevertheless, a beautiful film in which Sofia Coppola’s cinematographic genius shines through every scene and creates a very human and real portrayal of the characters’ experiences.



not so


inequality in Hollywood

An Academy Award, less formally known as an Oscar, is the most prestigious award an actor can hope to get. To someone who’s lived under a rock their whole life, a small gold figure on a pedestal may not seem like a lot, but they’re widely coveted by many in the film industry; film-makers and actors alike. Only the crème de la crème can hope to even be nominated for an Oscar, let alone win one… Supposedly.













For the second year in a row not one single actor or actress of colour has been nominated, which has made people suspicious about the fairness of the nomination process. It seems a bit odd that the best actors of this year are all caucasian. Are people of colour not any good at acting? Is it truly the best actors who are being nominated, or are minorities being excluded? The Academy holds a lot of power and influence over the film industry and the fact that for two years no minority actors have been nominated has sparked debate in the film community and among minority groups. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite lit up for the second time with the second year in a row of this being a problem, however the



There are specifications that wannabe Academy members must meet in order to even be considered. With industry experience being a key factor, and potential members needing to be officially invited or sponsored in order to get in, the majority of members are in fact white and over 50.



How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films? N

Perhaps even if the selection process is fair, and those nominated truly are the best, then there’s still something going wrong in the industry. As George Clooney pointed out, there’s simply not enough opportunity for minority actors. Viola Davis who plays Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder pointed out the problem when she won an Emmy, becoming the first black woman to win for outstanding actress in a drama, saying “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” And it’s true! There’s a part for an actor, then there’s a part for a black actor. There’s the leading part, then there’s the ethnic best friend. You see it time and time again not only in film but also in television. Even Obama weighed in on the matter, saying “I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”



George Clooney spoke up about the matter, asking “How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?” He noted the few films where people of colour could have been recognised for in the awards, however he insisted that “there should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars.”



It’s fair enough to complain and boycott, however if we’re going to take a proper look into whether it is biased due to race, or just a big coincidence we need to question the nomination process. It’s not like it’s just one fat cat middle-aged white man choosing who he likes the best, there’s a lot more to it than that. The voting process is actually managed by a team of accountants. Glamourous, I know. They send out the ballots to the 6000-odd members of The Academy who choose who they think is the best out of each category. All the members of the category have industry experience, and actors vote for the best actors, directors vote for the best directors etc. Everyone then votes for the best picture. That seems fair, right? Well, let’s just say that while it may not be just one middle-aged white man making the decisions, that doesn’t mean that many members of The Academy aren’t exactly that.

It does seem a little like they skirted around the possibility of nominating people of colour for every category. Straight Outta Compton, for example, starred black actors Corey Hawkins and O’Shea Jackson Jr., but the film’s only Oscar nomination went to the two guys who wrote it, who happen to be white. Likewise, Creed is up for winning an Oscar, going to one of the actors - the white Sylvester Stallone. The same goes for The Hateful Eight - starting to see a pattern?


There has been significant backlash to #OscarsSoWhite in the acting community. Charlotte Rampling, who is nominated for the Best Actress Award for her role in 45 Years, called the boycott ‘anti-white racism’, saying in an interview ‘maybe this time, no black actor or actress deserved to make it to the final selection.’ People opposed to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy hold the argument that choosing nominees with diversity in mind defeats the purpose of the awards. There’s the argument that there aren’t as many people of colour in America, with minority ethnicities making up only about 36% of the population, but Hollywood movies are sent out across the world, translated into a multitude of languages and seen by people of different races. The majority of the world’s population is not caucasian, so why are the Oscar nominees?

They’re never going to kick out members so the only solution to the diversity problem is to get new industry professionals in. Last year in response to #OscarsSoWhite, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs invited over 300 new members, but still it hasn’t seemed to work. Actor David Oyelowo put the situation perfectly: “For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”


debate was brought to widespread media attention with the announcement that the awards ceremony was to be boycotted by certain famous figures. Will Smith, who was eligible for nomination for his part in Concussion, joins his wife Jada PinkettSmith and filmmaker Spike Lee in the boycott, saying “If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.” Jada says that minority groups should not have to ask to be included in the awards, stating that “begging for acknowledgment, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people. And we are powerful.”

The Academy Awards have attempted to make up for the lack of diversity by organising POC hosts and entertainment for the evening. I’ll be looking forward to the ceremony, but as for next year, I hope for a change in procedure not only in The Academy, but in Hollywood’s views of minority actors. Maria Mellor





Eleanor Parkyn Discusses the way violent media is blamed on violent crimes and if there's a real reason to worry. Everybody watches films. Not everybody shoots a child. A bit of an obvious statement you might think, but when it comes to violence in the media, everybody seems to have a PhD in Sociology. It seems as if every other week the news informs us of the latest mass shooting, more often than not, occurring in the so called Land of the Free. The long running argument has been that these acts of violence are all down to our exposure to violent scenes in the movies and television shows that we watch. These arguments are becoming more and more persistent, due to the belief that films are being made to display increasingly violent imagery. Looking at examples of ‘violence’ in old


films compared with new releases actually solidifies this claim that we want more and more violence. Hitchcock’s Psycho, for instance, horrified viewers at the time with its infamous ‘shower scene’, but contemporary viewers are unlikely to bat an eyelid at it (and why should they, we don’t even see the knife touch her?!). It is therefore argued that the more violence shown onscreen, the more we become desensitized to it, and continually demand for more graphic and gruesome violence. Who knows, in years to come, Tarantino’s filmography may seem as violent as the fluffiest kitten video you can imagine! However, arguably this desensitization conditions us to accept violence as normal, leading to the recreation of such violent events in real life. While there may be some logic to this argument, it’s not as if after every episode of Game of Thrones we are all genuinely going to go out on

THE BLAME GAME a murderous rampage (even if certain character’s deaths in the show make us feel like it!) And yet the somewhat tedious debate goes on, making a pretty huge impact upon the film and TV industry. But is there any truth to it? In film and TV, violence isn’t just reserved for the ‘baddies’; heroes are violent, resolving conflicts with the pull of a trigger. Rather than being condemned for their actions, they are rewarded. These are often the ‘heroes’ and role models of younger audiences; think of ‘The Avengers’. Therefore certain individuals may see this as a way of justifying violence against those who do them wrong. This is perhaps why so many reports of mass shootings and similar violent crimes describe the perpetrator as being a ‘loner’, ‘bullied’, or ‘misunderstood’, attacking those they believe have judged them. But maybe, it’s just because these people are psychopaths. Without getting too bogged down in the statistics, there are some studies which do quite strongly suggest watching violence makes us act in an

FILM & TV aggressive way for a short while after watching it. However, there are plenty of conflicting studies that brand such suggestions as incorrect. Is this not also the case with televised sporting events, with a favourite team losing leading to cases of domestic abuse? Obviously this is less about what you watch and more about what you are like as a person. Even so, the news media jump on any chance to blame violent films for the murder of masses. One of the earliest examples of this, somewhat surprisingly, is a British crime; The Hungerford Massacre of 1987, in which Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people, and seriously injured several others. Despite there being absolutely no evidence that he had ever seen the film, the press continually reported that the massacre was spurred by his obsession with the Rambo film First Blood. While the only connection between the two was that they both involve guns, the damage was done and the press have never been able to let go of the idea that violent films are inherently evil and to blame almost entirely for violent crimes committed by those under 25. Unlike our friends across the pond, the British learned from this tragedy and The Firearms Act was amended the following year to prevent similar massacres. Another British violent crime that gained widespread notoriety and led to major changes for the film industry was the murder of Jamie Bulger. The media coverage that ensued following his death blamed the horror film Child’s Play 3 on the actions of the two ten year old boys who kidnapped, tortured and killed him. Again there was no evidence that the boy in question had ever seen the film, let alone been influenced by it. With crimes as horrific as this, violent films can perhaps be seen as a way of rationalising their behaviour, as it is far easier to blame their actions on a film than it is to accept that such young boys could do something so evil. Due to the media coverage and subsequent increase in the mass panic of the public concerning media violence, major changes were enforced for

the BBFC’s rating system, with stricter classifications. This included a test to determine whether a film could cause ‘harm’ to the viewer; themselves, or other people through their actions. Of course, this is now a much bigger issue in America, where guns are more or less freely available. While many famous cases like the Columbine High School Massacre and Sandy Hook school shooting use video games as the source of blame, others are more explicitly linked to films. The shooting that took place a few years back in Colorado, for example, saw James Holmes, the man who fatally shot twelve people and injured seventy at a screening of Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, welcome the comparison made between him and ‘The Joker’. Amazingly (in the ironic sense), this led to an increase of gun sales in the state, rather than enforcing stricter gun laws in the area. The Columbine High School Massacre, while not blamed on films, nonetheless certainly impacted the film industry. Just six months after Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed one of the worst school shootings in US history, ‘black comedy parody’ Duck! The Carbine High Massacre

was released. I’m not sure poor taste and bad timing really quite cover it. But thus began the emergence of a growing number of indie films based around the events that occurred at Columbine. Some examples of these include Elephant, Zero Day, Home Room and April Showers, the latter of which is written and directed by a survivor of the Columbine massacre. Like all other violent media, these films garnered criticism and controversy, in these cases even more so, based on the influences of their content. And perhaps this was cause for concern. With the rise of online social media sites like Tumblr, groups of predominantly teenage girls have joined together as the self-defined ‘Columbiners’, who are obsessed with Eric and Dylan; dressing as them and posing with guns, drawing pictures of them and making ‘fan-edit’ videos of them with footage taken from the above mentioned films and various other documentaries on the massacre, such as Bowling For Columbine. Whether these individuals would actually carry out a similar attack is unknown, although they do discuss their plans to do so openly. While some women obsessing over serial killers (known as hybristophilia) isn’t a new concept, these films have certainly allowed for these ‘Columbiners’ to develop and express their obsessions, possibly even influencing them. Of course, for the vast majority of us, violent media will have no significant impacts, but it cannot be denied that with almost 200 shootings in schools in the US since Columbine, and counting, there may be reason to fear such films, particularly if potential attackers are viewing. That being said, the majority of the people who have committed these atrocities are all considered to be mentally ill, and to blame their actions on the films they watch and not the appalling lack of mental health care provision and refusal to make gun regulations far stricter is a tragedy.

In years to come, Tarantino’s filmography may seem as violent as the fluffiest kitten video



REEL LIFE Why is it so exciting, humorous and mildly tragic to watch Hands on a Hard Body, a documentary about an endurance competition where contestants keep a hand on a new truck for almost four days to win it? Why does Life Itself, about the life of film reviewer Roger Ebert, bring us closer to him? Why is it that Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about one master chef ’s passion and sincere dedication to his craft, inspires us in our own lives? Perhaps it is curiosity, concern, a need to be inspired by real human actions - or all of the above. These are all documentations of people, places and experiences we may never be privy to in our normal lives, and that is something that captivates us. Documentary films are a purer appeal to emotion than fictional film. Viewers don’t feel as though their feelings are being manipulated in the traditional sense as a documentation of real life is as close to the truth as possible in an industry of story-telling. Voted Sight and Sound’s greatest documentary of all time, Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera can help us understand the initial interest in films documenting some aspect of reality. The 1929 film is a montage of life in the Soviet state during the interwar period and remains one of the most experimental examples of cinema today. In a similar sense, what makes a documentary film stand out amongst the everyday, disposable television documentary about drywall or types of moss is an emotionally gripping method of filmmaking. Some films take an ethnographic approach, such as the 1975 classic Grey Gardens, The Dhamma Brothers and The Wolfpack, looking into microcosmic worlds unknown to us. Others examine larger scale subjects such as the visually captivating Samsara and San Soleil, providing us with almost a zeitgeist of the planet as we may or may not know it. No matter


The UK has gone from having only four documentary feature films released in cinemas in 2001 to 89 by 2013. With screenings of feature-length documentaries in mainstream cinemas rising in popularity, Sadia Pineda Hameed asks what attracts us to the dramas of reality. the subject, documentaries seem to be increasingly more appropriate for mainstream viewing on the silver screen because the genre is designed to excite our emotions enough to evoke the disbelief that what we are watching is reality. The word ‘documentary’ may not conjure much excitement to some, but those people haven’t watched The Thin Blue Line. Errol Morris’ 1988 film tells of Randal Dale Adams, a man convicted and sentenced to life for a murder he didn’t commit. An interest in documentaries depicting injustice can be explained if the popularity of documentary series Making a Murderer is examined. Much like The Thin Blue Line did at the time for Adams’ case, the Netflix series put viewers into the position of a detective, amassed outrage about the corrupt justice system and even resulted in petitions for retrials. In recent years, documentaries with such important implications have spiked in popularity, with screenings in mainstream cinemas of 2012’s The Act of Killing, 2013’s Blackfish and 2014’s Virunga. In particular, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing saw both a renewed worldwide attention about the Indonesian killings of 1965–66, and brought about an extraordinary physical display of guilt from one of the death squad killers featured in the film. This expository nature means viewers can get their thrills, the emotional turbulence and sense of injustice that fictional films can simulate; but with documentary, these feelings linger along with the knowledge that it is reality. Even so, some producers find true events easier to swallow as fictional films. Recently, the 2005 documentary Our Brand Is Crisis was remade into the underwhelming 2015 Sandra Bullock film of the same name - presumably because the screenwriters thought the real life crisis wasn’t

thrilling enough. However, since the late 2000’s, documentary filmmakers have been adopting conventions of narrative cinema as part of the norm, giving it a familiar story-telling structure and the same visual intrigue - without sacrificing the informative aspect of the genre. Even if the film isn’t based on a sort of journey, there is always a turn; a poignant moment in place of the climax, such as in The Artist is Present. 2013’s McCullin, about the eponymous war photographer and his reflections on what morally haunts him, was billed as ‘madefor-cinema’. It is rightly described as such, with directors Jacqui and David Morris creating a stunning film with a thoughtful and meditative tone - much like other recent documentaries such as Asif Kapadia’s Senna and the more recent Amy, which had the biggest ever opening weekend in the box office for a British documentary in the UK. All three films already have their narrative, and it was up to the filmmakers to tell them in ways more interesting than fictionalisation. Fictionalised movies, even if based on a true story, seem to have this safety glass between the viewers and what is being shown on screen. We can’t ever wholly invest in something remotely fictional as we never feel they are completely truthful. And strangely enough, the shock factor is harder to attain in the momentary viewing experience of simple documentary series as we’re now so accustomed to reality television. It seems the combination of cinematic nuance and reality is what it now takes to touch us, outrage us or make us want to create change.


Elis Doyle tells us why you can still appreciate cartoons even if you’re a grown up. As a kid my life centred around cartoons; every day before taking the harrowing steps to school, watching Cartoon Network’s fantastic line of programming would fill me with determination. The vibrancy of creativity in the shows would constantly blur the line between ‘child-friendly’ and ‘adult content’. In recent years I have watched episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog via Netflix and realised the extent to which complex themes are covered. However, although cartoons continue to tread that line, with recurring jokes and themes that children could not possibly understand, there remains a taboo about being over the age of fifteen and admitting you enjoy cartoons. I mean there are cartoons that are acceptable to watch as an adult, most frequently you’ll find these are family-comedies like The Simpsons, or Family Guy; although personally the former has run out of steam over the past few years and the latter never appealed to me. I think a lot of this stigma has to do with the network it’s run on, for example the aforementioned cartoons plus Futurama, American Dad, South Park etc. all run on Comedy Central, Sky or BBC. Whereas if a cartoon is showcased on a ‘kids’ network it may predispose an individual to write it off as poorly written or too immature. A further point is that at their essential core, all of the mentioned cartoons are also comedies. Cartoons have been the staple of slapstick and insane humour since their inception into


the mainstream by Walt Disney in the 1920’s. This ingrained representation of cartoons isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it works with programmes like Archer, Rick and Morty and The Regular Show which have sought to make mature humour more accessible in cartoons to those who are initially sceptical. However it detracts from a cartoon’s ability to tell a story that is written well with engaging characters and artistic merit, and still be taken seriously. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the freedom that cartoons give a creative mind. You’ll find within the realms of live-action productions there are such huge restrictions on what a story-teller can do. In a sitcom like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air there is such a grounding in reality occasionally breaking the fourth-wall via running through the studio. But with something like Adventure Time there is no limit to the amount of surreal humour and extraordinary visuals that can be conjured up. I’m fairly certain there’s been no cameo appearance of an anthropomorphic dog with

ing these things I, by no means, wish to deride any other forms of entertainment for their inability to create dream-like worlds and characters, sometimes we need to be grounded by reality with serious entertainment imitating life. But even this can also be made with a cartoony spin, Bob’s Burgers infuses the repetitively bland family sitcom formula with renewed energy. But I suppose in the end, all of these reasons cannot fully explain what make cartoon’s so compelling even into our twilight years. The true answer to me anyway, lies in the feeling of nostalgia reminiscent of a gleeful reunion with an old friend I get when I see the magic of a few drawings and lines being brought to life. A feeling that transcends age, and unites many.

the ability to shape-shift on an episode of House. Now don’t get me wrong, by say-


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reetop Adventure Golf is a rainforest themed mini golf course with a total of 36 holes, situated on top of St. David’s shopping centre. The course itself is easy to find with numerous monkey-clad signs leading potential putters up to the third floor car park, where the ambient jungle sounds can be heard from beyond the entrance. Upon entry, the staff were warm and friendly, and the bar served a selection of good craft beers to enjoy before we teed off. The course itself started off easy, but the difficulty slowly ramped up, with obstacles and bumps in the course that caused a few of us to exceed the six swing limit on the later holes (oops!). The highlights of the course were definitely the sound effects and the fake plants and animals that surrounded the course. A few notable ones included two pelicans perched above a particularly hard hole, who hurl light hearted abuse at the player- infuriatingly funny. In fact, animals and strange statues that glow and talk are a common occurrence here and certainly add to the experience! A rainforest experience is certainly what Treetop offers, everything down to the men’s urinals, which aptly were two hollowed out buckets! I know what you’re thinking, but it’s done tastefully and is in fact, hooked up to the plumbing! Treetop offers good student discounts for the course itself, and fair prices behind the bar. It seems like the perfect place for a few mates to go out and have a few drinks with a bit of extra entertainment, but we also noticed a lot of couples having a drink and a putt. Maybe for some the rainforest experience is the perfect setting for romance; to each their own!

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Steak of the Art

Q & A with... How would you describe Steak of the art in three words? Customer-centric, Tasty, Artistic.

are also finding that people enjoy our craft ales - supplied by local brewer Tiny Rebel, Bristol Beer Factory and Crane - are great accompaniments to a good steak - this is beginning to grow.

What inspired the concept of your restaurant?

The simplicity of a single-dish restaurant serving steak and chips in London and wanting to somehow combine it with our other passion art.

What can one expect from the ‘performance art’ you have to offer? All manner of things - on our opening night we had the Cardiff Male Voice choir singing! We have film evenings, we have had a number of jazz evenings and are planning to investigate opera evenings. We are also exploring whether we might get some live sculpturing going on whilst people are dining - the logistics of that are challenging although we are trying. We are always open to ideas from performers.

Why did you decide to open in Cardiff? Cardiff is a vibrant city with lots of culture and food destinations - it seemed the perfect fit.

For a vegetarian dining at Steak of the Art, what options are available?

We provide various salads and risottos for the vegetarian diner as well as a range of Fish options for those nonmeat eaters who eat fish!

Where do you source your beef and fish, and why this choice? Our beef is local - from the Welsh Borders, using a butcher based in Abergavenny. We understand the Welsh are very patriotic and so local is important, but we also believe in buying from sources that offer good animal husbandry and use natural grass for their feeding regimes. Our fish is sourced from Cornwall, primarily because we have been very pleased with the fish we have received from our supplier Fish for Thought, and having a good, reliable supplier providing supremely fresh fish is tough to get.

What makes a good steak?

A good steak comes from animals bred for beef (as opposed to dairy). We believe grass-fed cattle produce the best tasting meat. But it is also is the animal husbandry practices of the farms supplying the cattle is also important. Animals that are

How do you go about choosing which artists to feature?

not stressed produce better meat. So we look for farms that care for their cattle. Our meat comes from a variety of breeds including Welsh Black, Herefordshire and Aberdeen Angus. At the butchers we take our meat and dry age them in drying rooms lined with Himalayan rock salt which imparts a flavour into the meat and also prevents the fat from going bad.

What cuts of steak are up for grabs and which is the most popular amongst customers?

We sell rump, sirloin, rib-eye and fillet with the sirloin narrowly outselling the fillet. We also sell T-Bones for larger appetites and are just about to introduce a Flat Iron steak which we believe will be very popular considering its quality and price.

What made you branch out by adding fish and risotto to your menu?

Single-dish restaurants can survive in London because the population catchment is so large, outside of London you need to cater for significant repeat business and also varied eating preferences. If there is a large party there will always be people that don’t fancy a steak. We have broadened our menu slightly to accommodate this - however we still do 90% of our business selling steak and chips!

We have noticed your drinks menu is quite extensive- Do you have any recommendations for pairing with your range or steaks, and fish?

Hannah Jayne Smith is our art and events co-ordinator. She curates the art for our restaurants leveraging the knowledge of our partner gallery Vermilion based in Knutsford, Cheshire. The emphasis is to try and get a 50:50 between local artists and established commercial artists.

What can we expect in 2016 from Steak of the art?

More of the same - if it ain’t broke don’t fix it - we intend to continue to focus on the steaks but will introduce some change around the edges to keep the menu fresh. We are looking to increase the entertainment throughout the year and hope the Art side of our business can begin to get some traction.

Malbec is a classic pairing wine with steak and coincidentally is our best seller by an order of magnitude but we


quench food evening



BURRITO This month, Food & Drink invited contributors to join us at Barburrito in the St David’s Centre for a Mexican food fiesta. The award-winning chain opened its Cardiff restaurant in mid-2015, with locations in Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds among others. Here’s what we thought:

Of all of the restaurant options available within the St David’s Centre food court, Barburrito has to be the most value for money. While nearby chain restaurants offer meals for around £10 and above, Barburrito offers you more food and unlimited soft drinks than you could possibly consume in one go, all for less than a coffee and a cookie at Costa. Set out a bit like Subway, you can pick your filling preferences, and how much spiciness you want. In a pretty weak attempt at remaining somewhat healthy I opted for the Superfood Burrito, swapping rice for crunchy slaw, with the added bonus of guacamole being included in the price, rather than as an extra. All the ingredients combine wonderfully into a beautifully delicious burrito that you will happily force down even if you are full after eating half of it! Eleanor Parkyn

FOOD AND DRINK Admittedly, I have never been overly fond of Mexican cuisine. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what Barburrito had to offer when we ventured here as part of our food evening. The eatery exudes an air of tranquility and promotes a casual dining experience through the use of a bar where your burrito is made to order. The method of burrito construction works as follows; first you pick how small or large your dish will be, as well as how much filling you would like inside, second the main ingredient (i.e chicken or steak) and lastly and most importantly the spiciness of the sauce that is drizzled on top. This process is simple and effective, working especially well for fussy eaters and those with allergies alike, ensuring that the dish you eat fits your taste preferences. I opted for the ‘classic burrito’ consisting of rice, beans, onions and peppers, with my personal choice of steak, mushrooms guacamole and a mildly hot sauce. This worked out as being very well priced, as well as delicious and most definitely filled me up for the evening. Although Barburrito does not fall under the category of fine dining, I would recommend it as a place to visit when in need of a cheap, cheerful and hearty meal. Daisy Lane

*We were given a 20% discount for this feature.

It’s the eternal question: which burrito place is the best in Cardiff ? Could it be Mission Burrito with its fast food style set up, or perhaps Burrito Brothers next to the Student’s Union for its convenient location? I’ll have to admit I have a new favourite and it’s Barburrito in St David’s Centre. Here I ordered the ‘loaded burrito’ - the equivalent of a large in other such restaurants, but what made it extra special is that you wouldn’t get the contents in another standard large burrito. I was able to get guacamole, which in a regular burrito would usually cost an extra 75p, as well as an extra filling. I’m usually quite an indecisive person and couldn’t decide between chicken or pulled pork, and so when my server said I could get both I was over the moon. The only complaint I have is very minor - their ‘spicy’ options weren’t incredibly spicy. If you like to turn up the heat a little, go for the hot sauce. I would also thoroughly recommend getting some churros to share to round up the meal. Barburrito is brilliant for eating in as well as taking away and I will definitely be returning to try their tacos! Maria Mellor Cardiff has no shortage of foodie choices; from quirky cafes on every street corner to glamorous wine bars and steak restaurants, most of which are situated in the heart of St David’s. The centre has plenty of options to refuel from when you’ve dropped from all that shopping, and Barburrito is not one to miss. Against Cardiff ’s other Mexican eateries, like El Paso, Wahaca, Chimichanga, Chiquito, Burrito Brothers and Mission Burrito (yes, there’s a burrito theme here), you might think it’d be hard for Barburrito to stand out. But it does! Barburrito pretty much does what it says on the tin - you go up to the bar and the burrito is made to your liking, right in front of you. Squeezing out the last dregs of the January ‘diet’, I went for the Superfood one, which has so much flavour and colour that getting your five-a-day seems far from boring. They’re generous with their guacamole, so avocado fans like me will be in their element. However I soon forgot about any vows of healthiness, because the lovely staff gave us some churros on the house, which were again pretty delicious. All in all, Barburrito is a small, chilled restaurant with a cosy feel and some seriously snazzy decor. They also offer 10% off food and 30% off alcohol for students, so pay them a visit. Ellie Philpotts Having walked past Barburrito several times and admired its eye-catching rainforest-inspired decor, I was excited to finally try it. We were greeted by friendly assistant manager Jerome, who gave us an overview as to how the ordering worked – “essentially, Mexican Subway”. This proved helpful, as the menus placed on each table confused us at first. I opted for Dos Tacos, with a choice of two crispy corn or soft flour tacos – a nice touch that many rival Mexican eateries in Cardiff lack. For fillings, I went for onions and peppers, spicy shredded beef, extra spicy salsa and beans, plus an extra of fresh guacamole. I also ordered crunchy slaw on the side to counteract the fiery tacos. The salsa was spicy enough for my liking, something that I often find disappointing in many of Cardiff ’s Mexican restaurants. Combined with the crunchy tacos, onions and peppers and creamy guacamole, it was a potent and lively mix of tastes and textures. The only thing that disappointed was the crunchy slaw, which I found to be rather bland and rubbery. To finish, we were served churros with a chocolate dip, ending the meal on a sweet note. The churros could perhaps have had a bit more crunch on the outside, although they were still immensely satisfying. All in all, as one of the most budget-friendly restaurants in St David’s Centre, Barburrito gives diners bang for their buck with their surprisingly wide variety of options and hearty, flavourful fare. Zenn Wong As a big fan of any Mexican food, I was excited to try out St David’s Centre’s resident burrito bar. As an avid Mission Burrito consumer, I was prepared to be disappointed by Bar Burrito’s selection, mostly due to their lack of selection regarding black beans. But with more choices of other fillings, not to mention options to have a combination of fillings rather than just the one, Barburrito actually beat my previous favourite Mexican eatery. It can’t be denied however that the price is significantly larger than other burrito stations in Cardiff, but in terms of taste and quantity, you get what you pay for with Barburrito. Furthermore, with extra options such as tacos, nachos, skinny burritos, and even churros (which by the way were delicious), there are a wealth of options simply not available at other restaurants. So suffice to say I was abundantly happy with my experience at Barburrito, and I will be back there very soon for another Mexican meal. Emily Gates



orthorexia Emily Jones investigates the modern obsession with clean eating




n recent years, society has become more obsessed with fitness and nutrition than ever, and as a generation we are fixated on an idealised image of health. As we strive to get ripped, gain perfect abs, glowing skin and heightened fitness levels, a healthy or ‘clean’ lifestyle has overwhelmingly become synonymous with happiness, fulfilment and success. But when does a healthy lifestyle become an unhealthy obsession? In a world where controlling our diets and cutting out food groups deemed to be toxic to our bodily temples has become the norm, when does this increased fetishisation of healthy foods become a problem? Coined by Dr Steven Bratman in 1997, the condition known as ‘Orthorexia’ is fast gaining media attention and medical ground alongside the proliferation of the health market in recent years. Orthorexia is defined as an obsession with health foods, differing from anorexia in that health, rather than weight loss, is the primary goal. The condition regards the elimination of certain food groups as a positive activity, with the aim of cleansing the body of toxins and impurities. And whilst this may be seen as a practice to be commended in a world where #cleaneating #raw and #paleo have become desired diet choices, Orthorexia defines the line between a healthy lifestyle, and a health compulsion that dictates and controls a person’s life. As prominent health food blogger Jordan Younger chronicles in her new book ‘Breaking Vegan’, whilst Orthorexia is not defined by a desire for thinness, rigid control of food and intensive exercise driven by a desire to be healthy, largely accumulates into weight loss and associated health problems. For sufferers, food is regarded as a source of ‘fuel’, for health, rather than for pleasure. Following an announcement on her blog and social media accounts describing her own battle with Orthorexia, Jordan Younger has inspired debate and awareness about the potential dangers that may arise when the lines between balanced eating and compulsive healthiness become blurred and entangled.

daily eating and exercising habits alongside body progress shots, gym selfies and healthy recipes. For young women particularly, health is now characterised by a new ideal of feminine beauty, whereby those who drink kale smoothies, take morning spin classes and eat chia seeds for breakfast become a glowing picture of perfection that many of us wish to replicate. Yet this societal normalisation of strict clean eating and fad diets has largely caused Orthorexia to go unnoticed, particularly as the condition is not currently recognised as a clinical diagnosis. So for many of us, obsessing over what we eat, excessively cutting out food groups, and shovelling avocados into our bodies like there’s no tomorrow has become a totally acceptable and admirable activity. Dairy has become the devil, gluten is now the personification of evil, and carbs, even wholegrain ones, have taken a beating in favour of cauliflower rice and courgette spaghetti. Thus thousands of us have begun to shun food groups and declare veganism, raw diets, paleo lifestyles and juice cleanses as the holy grail of health.

And whilst the escalation of health consciousness and fit individuals is certainly preferable to a generation who hails the chicken nugget as a weekly source of protein, when does it stop? ‘Cut out carbs,’ the paleo diet says, ‘cut out fish and meat and dairy,’ says the raw diet, ‘cut out all solid food and drink raw vegetables’ says Jason Vale the juice master, and the list goes on. At what point does our desire for a healthy life begin to dictate our actions, our social lives, selfworth, and happiness? As Jordan’s social media fame illustrates, in a world where snapping a picture of your quinoa salad will gain you a significant amount of praise in the form of Instagram likes, it is easy to imagine the road from health conscious to Orthorexia. Clean eating is an admirable goal, offering many health and wellbeing benefits, but if you really want that piece of cake, don’t feel guilty, eat it!

Sophisticated marketing strategies have successfully persuaded the health conscious that supposed superfoods such as kale, avocados and goji berries have mythical qualities that will serve us fabulously chiselled bodies when consumed religiously. Yet advertisers work hard to convince us that we will never be healthy enough, never fit enough, thin enough, ripped or perfect enough to warrant a life without the frequent purchase of cocoa powder, detox tea, Nutribullets and Fitbits.

Instagram has exploded with food bloggers, and fitness photo diaries take the forefront as young audiences document their



German Bierkeller

Ground floor, Stadium Plaza, Wood Street Twitter: @CDFBierkeller Stepping into Bierkeller it is easy to feel right at home, with plenty of plush sofas to settle into, intimate booths and a laid-back atmosphere it is the ultimate place to wander into and chill out. Though it is situated in the city centre, so is a bit of a trek for any Cathays- dweller, it is well worth the journey and should appeal to anyone who fancies dabbling in foods from around the globe. As the name suggests it is German and proud, and Cardiff ’s venue is one of only four in the UK. They offer classic pretzels, great beer and of course bratwurst sausages. However, you may be surprised to discover there is much more to Beirkeller than just these German delights. In keeping with this theme the menu offers a variety of dishes, from Italian to, of course, German food. They even host “Mexican

Tuesdays” with a special menu of nachos, fajitas and quesadillas. Everything on the menu looks so mouth-watering, and there is so much to choose from you’ll be left pondering over the menu for ages. I would highly recommend the fajitas, which they serve to you on a sizzling platter with several difference sauces and sides so that you can build your own wrap with; a bit messy but definitely worth it. As well as great food, it comes to life after dark, transforming into a buzzing bar with, of course, plenty of beer and a pretty impressive cocktail selection! Bierkeller’s entire aesthetic is quirky and rustic, but might leave you wanting to pack a suitcase and book a flight to Bavaria. Maps and photographs adorn the walls and even the drinks menu is cleverly disguised as a passport cover. You can experience a taste of Bavarian culture right here in Cardiff ’s city centre. - Olivia Thomas

Italian Svago

153-155 Crwys Road Twitter: @svagocdf “Svago” - spelled out in large green neon letters against the drab, grey backdrop of Crwys Road; is what lulled me through its welcoming doors. Intrigued and excited, its dimly lit and stylish interior assured me of my choice to dine there and the staff were more than accommodating. However, it was only after I had made my order that my excitement gradually began to erode as although only myself, my girlfriend and four other people were in the restaurant at this period, it did take a considerable amount of time to produce the food. My order consisted of a Calamari fritter starter served on top of a portion of salad with extra chillies which was small yet satisfying. My main was a spicy dish named Penne


Mexican Spezzatino, made up of pasta with strips of tender fillet steak mixed with a healthy amount of onions, peppers and chillies which left me gagging for more. And for my final dish I had a salted chocolate fudge brownie which made me salivate at just the name, let alone when I was left staring at a chocolatey void where once the brownie had existed… This was all washed down with copious amounts of Peroni and overall was a relaxing and enjoyable experience. However, if you plan on taking your date or long-lost friend to this chic and dimly lit slice of Italian heaven, make sure you brush up on your ability to generate small talk because you may be left waiting for your order. -Oliver Leigh


51-53 The Hayes Twitter: @wahaca When it comes to celebrating worldwide cuisine, Cardiff doesn’t disappoint. From the most popular foreign fare like Italian and Chinese, to the slightly harderto-find such as Polish or Korean, you definitely can’t go hungry anywhere in the Diff. Many of the city’s international eateries are independent, and many can be found around City Road and Crwys Road. We love independent businesses, and we love how close Cathays and Roath are to uni. But when Wahaca is this delicious, it’s not too much of a hardship to be a little bit more mainstream and flock to a chain restaurant right in the middle of town. Wahaca’s vibrant energy transports a generous dose of the Mexican charm here to Cardiff. The decor is seriously funky, and they’ve

repeatedly been named ‘Sustainable Restaurant Group of the Year’. If you’re anything like me and take so long to decide on what to order that you can no longer pretend to ignore your friends’ tummy rumbles, then you’ll find the problem is solved in Wahaca. Their street food menu is comprised of fun-sized dishes, so you can pick three and feel absolutely no guilt. Whether pork burritos; ‘British steak the Mexican way’; salmon sashimi or chicken enchiladas, you’ll be waddling out of Wahaca seriously satisfied. And don’t fear if you’re a vegetarian or the owner of an unmistakable sweet tooth – the sweet potato fries; black bean, tomatillo and guacamole tostadas and chocolatey churros do nothing for the waistline but everything for the endorphins – which is really all that matters, right?! - Ellie Philpotts




WORLD As a modern capital city,

Cardiff is home to a smorgasbord of restaurants serving up a diverse range of cuisines.

American Shake Shack

St. David’s Centre Twitter: @shakeshackUK Starting out as a hotdog stall in NYC, Shake Shack have had astronomic success, jumping on the trend for quality, upmarket fast food alongside the likes of Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Five Guys. However, the hype for this place doesn’t seem to have hit Cardiff with quite the force they might have hoped for; when we pitched up in the St David’s branch we were one of about four groups in the whole place. I went for the SmokeShack – a bacon cheeseburger with some fancy twists such as the addition of chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce. The single patty incarnation of this burger will set you back £7.50 before you even consider sides and drinks. Given that it is served on a plastic tray in a paper bag, you’d be forgiven for expecting the flavour to do the talking. Unfortunately, this one just didn’t deliver. The dry texture of the burger was worsened by my further bad choice of the mango lemonade to wash it down, which proved to be so sour that I needed another drink to recover. The one saving grace of this meal was the side that stole the show – cheese fries. If there is one

food I consider myself an expert on, it’s cheesy chips. My cries of ‘DON’T LET ME GET CHIPS!’ at predrinks are long forgotten by the time I stumble out of Retros at 2.30am on a Thursday morning with nothing but regret and a blinding desire for chips, cheese and gravy. The cheese fries at Shake Shack were undoubtedly the saviour of this experience for me, and if I were to return it would be for these only. Chips here strike the balance between a crisp coating and a mouth-wateringly fluffy centre. The crinkle cut shape provides diners with extra surface area to enjoy the generous helping of mature cheddar sauce dolloped on top. It really is everything you want from a dining experience. - Emily Giblett

This gives us the privilege of trying food from another culture, or perhaps experiencing a comforting taste of home for those a little farther from

Japanese Tenkaichi

236 City Road Twitter: @TenkaichiSushi For all the international cuisine available, there is a surprising lack of independent Japanese restaurants in Cathays. Just outside of Cathays, however, Tenkaichi provides a decent alternative for those of us bored of Wagamama’s and Yo Sushi. It wasn’t too busy when I was there with a friend for a weekday lunch, and a taciturn waitress swiftly directed us to our seats. I ordered the Tonkatsu Udon (pork cutlet with udon noodles in soup) with a side of Agedashi Tofu (deep fried tofu in broth) while my friend ordered the Bara Chirashi (raw seafood on vinegared rice). When my udon arrived, I was disappointed to find the pork cutlet already soggy as it had been allowed to soak in the soup. This was compounded by the thinness of the meat, and could easily have been solved by serving the pork



separately. The soup was made of a standard soy sauce base, and the udon was decent albeit a little soft. As for the Bara Chirashi, we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the bowl, as well as the variety of seafood included; it was also served with miso soup. As fans of raw seafood, we enjoyed this dish and acknowledged that it was reasonably good considering the lack of availability in Cardiff. Perhaps my favourite was the side of Agedashi Tofu, which came piping hot and with Japanese fish flakes. The broth was moreish and savoury and the fish flakes enhanced its flavour. The thinnerthan-thin deep fried layer provided some texture to the dish, making it an overall winner. Overall, Tenkaichi makes a commendable attempt at providing the Cathays/Roath area with authentic Japanese food – whether or not it’s the best in Cardiff still remains to be investigated. - Zenn Wong


QUENCH Issue 157  

In this issue, we investigate the increasing use of steroids, discuss the crossover between art and politics and interview Bloc Party about...

QUENCH Issue 157  

In this issue, we investigate the increasing use of steroids, discuss the crossover between art and politics and interview Bloc Party about...