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DANNY SAYS Ramones manager Danny Fields recalls a life less ordinary
J O C K S & N E R D S
The man who gave Grandmaster Flash his break reveals the real Get Down
LA MOVIDA How a generation of young artists helped jumpstart post-Franco Spain
Netflix’s drug lord
on playing Pablo Escobar in Narcos
PLUS Hollie Cook / The history of Pool The The’s Matt Johnson / A guide to Sydney 21st-century cartography / Syl Johnson Director of the Design Museum Deyan Sudjic L.A. Salami / Teenage Fanclub / Bauhaus
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Panorama Muay Thai Fighters Photographs Simon Way 18 / Brief Cultural highlights for the autumn 27 / Locker Cotswold Way Photographs Mark Mattock 52 / Metropolitan Sydney 178 / Expo Handball Photographs Janette Beckman 184 / Edit Down by the Jetty Photographs Dean Chalkley; Styling Karen Mason 190 / People Guy Burnet, Lascelle Gordon, Peter Kember, King Creosote, L.A. Salami, Teenage Fanclub, Preston Thompson, Nedelle Torrisi 196 / Icon Safety Pin 206
Matt Johnson 64 / Maps 78 / Wagner Moura 84 / Syl Johnson 92 Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 126 La Movida 134 / Danny Fields 142 / The Design Museum 152 The Real Get Down 170 / Pool 176
Under the Westway Photographs Dean Chalkley; Styling Salim Ahmed-Kashmirwala 70 / Bauhaus Photographs Jon Mortimer; Styling Mark Anthony Bradley 98 / Tom PandĂŠ Photographs Mark Mattock; Styling William Gilchrist 106 / Greenpoint Photographs Takay; Styling Mark Anthony Bradley 116 / Crown Photographs Mark Mattock; Styling Harris Elliott 160
Photographs Simon Way Words Chris May Simon Way’s intense photographs of Muay Thai fighters were taken at the Ao-Nang Krabi boxing arena in Krabi, a town in southern Thailand. “I wanted to shoot something traditional,” says Way. “I set out from Bangkok with no particular destination in mind and came across this place. There was a huge local crowd there, all of them passionately engaged with what was going on in the ring. I imagine they bet on it, though it wasn’t something that was that evident. Some of the fighters were really young, maybe 10 years old. The fighters’ bodies are ridiculously well developed; everyone is walking around with oiled-up six-packs. It must take some serious training. And they were bloody good at it too. “In some of the shots, you’ll see fighters wearing a special headband. It’s a traditional item called a mongkol. It’s an important part of Muay Thai, spiritual and a very big deal. You only get to wear one when your trainer decides you’re good enough to fight for your club. It’s both a talisman and a badge of honour. It’s blessed before the fight and you wear it into the ring but take it off for the actual bout.” Muay Thai fights take place at the Ao-Nang Krabi Stadium, southern Thailand, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday aonang-thaiboxing.com
P a n o r a m a
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Young fighters wearing traditional mongkol headpieces
P a n o r a m a Muay Thai fights start with the youngest fighters, ending with the most experienced
P a n o r a m a
Fans celebrate a local fighterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s victory
Boxer in traditional dress
We Invented Casual. Launching Autumn 2016
BRIEF KARL HYDE: I AM DOGBOY Back in 2000, the lead singer of Underworld, Karl Hyde, started to write a diary that he posted on the band’s website. The results from the last 16 years have now been published in a new book, I am Dogboy. It splices up his daily musings with snapshots of everyday objects, abstract poetry, and an autobiographical journey – from his childhood in the Midlands in the 1960s to the reissue and tour of the band’s 1994 LP Dubnobasswithmyheadman in 2014. “When I was at art school in the 1970s, I would cover the walls of my flat with these notes, but all I was focusing on was the dark stuff so I stopped it for a really long time,” says Hyde. “Then, towards the end of the 1980s I started to document things out of the window of tour buses, just random stuff like street signs and things.” At the time, Hyde, who had been in bands since the 1970s, was tiring of conventional songwriting. “A friend of mine gave me Lou Reed’s New York album and it blew me away. He was
writing in conversational American. I was looking for a new approach that was unfettered by traditional lyric writing. At the same time, Rick Smith[the other half of Underworld] was starting to make club music. So, I started to think about conversational English, I thought the rhythms of the words would become more interesting than if I try and construct poetry to sing. I also got hold of a copy of Sam Shepard’s book Motel Chronicles. It’s a series of vignettes with no beginning or end, just middles where he describes everyday events, a room, a drunk, a motorcyclist and so on. And they are all dated. I thought this is fantastic. So that is what I started to do, I began to walk around the streets with my notebook, writing what I saw, heard, smelt and what they made me feel.” The result was the cut-up style of songwriting that Hyde became known for. “I’ve always said we all see the world as a series of fragments, it’s just we string them together to describe our day,” he says. “So I started to walk around town with this notebook and documenting these journeys and they became our lyrics. It was just me hoovering up the things I was attracted to. And through them I could describe how I felt.” Struggling with alcoholism throughout the 1990s, Hyde found escape through his new way of writing. “It was a way of expressing myself, because it was all locked up inside,” he says. “So if I couldn’t put it into words I could gather these thoughts that became sculptural. To me they were word installations, landscapes that people could inhabit.” The best known of these word collages were his lyrics for ‘Born Slippy’ – the opening line of which gives the book its name. “The dogboy was the animal that I was as a drinker, walking the streets sniffing out whatever was there,” says Hyde. To accompany his daily reflections he started to carry a cheap 35mm camera everywhere he went. “What occurred to me was that as a drunk you wake up and have these snapshot moments, of a doorway or street or someone you met in a pub,” he says. “I thought that it could be interesting if I carry a camera around and take snapshots of what happens. So I started to do that.” This was around the time he co-founded the Tomato design agency in 1991 with, among others, Smith. “Then I started to do things like passing the film 15 times through the camera to get these layers and building up these photograms,” he says. This new style fed into the book Mmm... Skyscraper I Love You with Hyde’s J &
B r i e f partner at Tomato, John Warwicker, who designed I am Dogboy. As with his written recordings, it’s the ephemera of everyday life that interests Hyde when snapping the streets. “The images I am attracted to are the sculptures that people leave behind – a crisp packet, a bicycle, a bin bag, a piece of cardboard, a scooter in a bush,” he says. “You see the weirdest things walking around. They are like sculptural marks that someone passed this way and I’m really attracted to that, these whimsical little moments.” He traces this interest back to his upbringing in the Midlands. “Where I grew up in my dreary little town, the most mundane things were interesting,” he says. “So a new bus stop or men digging a hole and putting around some red and white tape, visually those things became really stimulating. These were the things that became my language. The things that you stumble across as you walk around. I’m interested in the overlooked, the unseen. Papa San’s album Animal Party, 1986. Artwork Wilfred Limonious © Scar Face And I took that over into my art. Music/Estate of Wilfred Limonious. Courtesy of One Love Books “What I’m interested in is the proximity of speaker, the squad captain says, “Ready, aim… text and picture and the dynamic that happens behind the don’t shoot until the prisoner finish dancing to two. The reader then starts to make up their own story of this Stalag 17-18 and 19 album. I feel nice too!” what they are about. In the same way that people start to “Cartoons tell the story of the many ‘riffs make their own stories about Underworld’s lyrics. To me and grits’ of people’s lives, and perhaps no that’s far more interesting.” one accomplished this better than Limonious,” PHOTOGRAPH MATTIAS PETTERSSON says Orville ‘Bagga’ Case, the reggae singer, WORDS ANDY THOMAS graphic designer and friend of Limonious. Limonious died in 1999 at the age of 50, Karl Hyde’s book I am Dogboy is out on 3 November having made a huge impact on dancehall’s faber.co.uk aesthetic. His most notable influence was on WILFRED LIMONIOUS: IN FINE STYLE electronic music producer Diplo, who cites While reggae in the 1970s called for spiritual emancipation Limonious as a catalyst in the creation of super from corruption and violence, 1980s dancehall celebrated hero character Major Lazer. Jamaica’s love for good times during a period of relative WORDS EDWARD MOORE peace. At the heart of dancehall’s aesthetic was the artwork of Wilfred Limonious. Drawing from the island’s comedic The book In Fine Style: The Dancehall Art traditions and using its patois language, his colourful, of Wilfred Limonious is out now funny drawings appeared in comic strips, flyers and more onelovebooks.com than 150 album covers. His life and work have been documented in a new book, In Fine Style. The exhibition In Fine Style is at Rough Trade Limonious’s knack for everyday humour appeared on East, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 until 30 album covers for labels such as Jammy’s, Techniques, September. It also opens at Colours May Vary, Dennis Star International, Redman International and Unit 1a, Munro House, Duke St, Leeds LS9, from Studio One. He could even make morbid topics funny. 1 October, and at HVW8 Gallery, 661 N His sleeve for Winston Riley’s compilation Original Stalag Spaulding Ave, Los Angeles, from 20 October 17-18 and 19 depicts a blindfolded prisoner dancing in roughtrade.com colours-may-vary.com front of a firing squad. As music blares out of the prison hvw8.com 28
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B r i e f JAZZ: THE ICONIC IMAGES OF TED WILLIAMS As American jazz reshaped itself during and after the bop revolution of the mid-1940s, a new generation of photographers, most of them in their early 20s, emerged to document it. Prominent among them were Herman Leonard, William Claxton, William Gottlieb and Bob Willoughby. Although a generation older than these men, Francis Wolff was another leading figure. A co-founder of the Blue Note label, the hard bop HQ during the 1950s, Wolff was, in truth, an unremarkable photographer, but his unfettered access to Blue Note’s recording sessions, most of which he photographed, means his body of work is an invaluable cultural archive. It was, however, the photographer Ted Williams, who was just 20 years old when bop standard bearers Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk burst on to the New York club scene, who created what is probably the most vibrant and evocative visual journal of the new music and its 1950s offshoots. Williams’s style was contemporary photojournalism at its best. He almost always worked only with available light, never posed his subjects (except on his infrequent sleeve-shot assignments from record labels), used black and white film nearly exclusively, and was a shy man who naturally took to the role of an unobtrusive observer of events. Williams was also, uniquely among his contemporary photographic luminaries, a person of colour. He was born to an African American father and a Mexican American mother, and was one of the first African American photographers to study at Chicago’s Institute of Design, where his tutors included Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind and Buckminster Fuller. Williams’s ethnicity undoubtedly helped him to be accepted by the musicians he photographed, most of whom were African Americans and many of whom were actively engaged in reasserting their importance in the creation and development of jazz. It is hard, for example, to imagine the great tenor saxophonist Ira Sullivan and Johnny Griffin, and lifelong weed smoker Chicago, 1960 Photograph © Lester Young allowing any Iconic Images/Ted Williams of the era’s other leading photographers to shoot him smoking a joint, as Williams did backstage during the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The shot was not included in the 21-page feature that jazz bible Downbeat magazine devoted to Williams’s coverage of the festival. Between the late 1940s and late 1960s, Williams
Duke Ellington at a recording session, Chicago, 1966 Photograph © Iconic Images/Ted Williams took around 90,000 shots, many of them on assignment from Downbeat, Playboy, Metronome, Ebony, Time, Newsweek and Look magazines. His work has never been collected in book form until now. The outstanding 350-page hardback, Jazz: the Iconic Images of Ted Williams, presents a selection. Every page is a delight. WORDS CHRIS MAY Jazz: the Iconic Images of Ted Williams is out on 15 October antiquecollectorsclub.com
SAUL BASS: 20 ICONIC FILM POSTERS Martin Scorsese once described the revolutionary simplicity of designer Saul Bass’s 1950s and 1960s movie posters as being the fruit of “a jeweller’s eye”. Screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, who worked alongside Bass on Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino, said much the same of the main-title sequences Bass designed, first on his own and then, from 1960, with his wife Elaine Bass. “You write a book of 300 to 400 pages and then you boil it down to a script of maybe 100 to 150 pages,” said Pileggi. “Eventually you have the pleasure of seeing that the Basses have knocked you right out of the ballpark. They have boiled it down to four minutes flat.” Bass, who died in 1996, said that he and Elaine tried “to reach for a simple, visual phrase that tells you what the picture is all about and evokes the essence of the story… We have a very reductive view when it comes to visual matters. We see the challenge in getting things down to something totally simple, and yet doing something with it which J &
B r i e f provokes… If it’s simple simple, it’s boring. We try for the idea that is so simple that it will make you think, and rethink.” Until Bass came along, title sequences were static, prosaic affairs, to be endured rather than enjoyed. Among his other innovations, the cut-out animation and kinetic typography that Bass introduced in 1958 for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo transformed the genre and paved the way for the dramatic title sequences that became the new industry standard with the first James Bond movie, Dr No, in 1962. Bass’s break came in 1954, when Preminger hired him to design the titles for Carmen Jones. A string of Preminger classics followed, including The Man with the Golden Arm and Anatomy of a Murder. Along with Scorsese and Hitchcock, other groundbreaking directors who went on to commission Bass included Billy Wilder (Love in the Afternoon), William Wyler (The Big Country), John Frankenheimer (Grand Prix), Stanley Kubrick (The Shining) and Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List). Bass’s title sequences usually survived any studio pressure to dumb them down. His poster designs were less fortunate. Bass defied Hollywood convention by omitting action stills or star portraits, instead Poster, 1957 © Saul Bass, courtesy employing logo-like, of Otto Preminger Films Ltd hand-drawn images. Many of his poster designs were mangled by studio executives or, like that for John Sturges’s The Magnificent Seven, were rejected out of hand. A new book, Saul Bass: 20 Iconic Film Posters, presents a score of Bass’s original designs before the suits got their hands on them. WORDS CHRIS MAY The book Saul Bass: 20 Iconic Film Posters is out now laurenceking.com 32
Saul Bass photographed for Show Business Illustrated, 1962 Photograph Bob Willoughby
ESTUARY FESTIVAL 2016 “Estuary 2016 is about celebrating one of the main gateways into the UK,” says Colette Bailey, artistic director of arts organisation Metal, which has created the festival, with support from Arts Council England. Estuary 2016 celebrates the Thames Estuary with events at historic and culturally important venues across the Essex and Kent shorelines. “We have curated the whole festival with the themes of travel, migration, journey, landscape and history.” With the aftershocks of the EU referendum, these words take on a new resonance for this community-focused event. “Culture plays an important role in bringing communities together and fostering understanding and friendship through sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge,” says Bailey. “The Thames Gateway has been and continues to be hugely significant to the connections that we have as a nation to the rest of the world.” The festival will consist of a number of themes that resonate with ideas of place, landscape and community. Sounds of the Thames Delta (accompanied by Iain McKell’s street photography from the past 40 years) will explore the area’s rich musical heritage with a weekend of gigs and panel discussions featuring musicians, writers and filmmakers. Back in the 1960s R&B groups such as the Orioles and the Paramounts created the soundtrack for the Essex mod scene. And in the 1970s Mickey Jupp (ex of the Orioles) and the Kursaal Flyers joined Eddie
and the Hot Rods and Dr Feelgood from Canvey archive video to tell the story of post-war immigrants. Island in the pub rock scene, which was the Originally created in 2010, it takes on an even greater precursor to punk. In his book No Sleep Till significance in England’s not so pleasant land of post-EU Canvey Island: The Great Pub Rock Revolution, referendum tension and attacks. Will Birch of the Kursaal Flyers wrote: “For Lighter artistic displays will see Southend Pier Southenders, London was transformed by 10 artists who accessible (handy for the document the history of the British Feelgoods’ lightning raids seaside on a number of beach huts, on the pubs in 1973), yet while the pop-up Museum of the remote enough to facilitate Thames Estuary will display flotsam a detached view.” And this and other treasures found on the independent spirit has bed of the river in anticipation of continued to create the permanent museum in 2020. underground scenes The Thames Delta has also of course – from Lacy Lady and inspired writers across the centuries the Goldmine soul clubs – from Charles Dickens and Joseph of the 1970s to the indie Conrad to Bram Stoker and Iain Junk Club in the mid 2000s. Sinclair, and these traditions are One of the recurring to be recognised by the Shorelines subjects of the festival is how Literature Festival. This will include Still from Colin Priest’s film The Dance of the the region’s landscape and walks across the region by writers Neptune Plant, 2014 © Colin Priest topography has affected its involved in the programme. “It’s arts and culture. In 1999, nature writer Roger such a complete mix of strange landscape with its Deakin created a documentary called Southend marshes and wetlands teaming with wildlife plus its Rock in which he made parallels between the peculiar architectural history from the plotlands, which Mississippi and Thames Deltas. On writing his in part led to the ‘delta’ nickname, to some stunning song ‘Down by the Jetty Blues’, Dr Feelgood’s examples of radical utopian architectural ideals from Lee Brilleaux explained in the documentary how: the 1930s,” says Bailey. “I used to think that with all these little shacks WORDS ANDY THOMAS if you closed your eyes on a sunny day it could be the Mississippi Delta, it could be some strange The arts festival Estuary 2016 is held along the Thames place not really part of anywhere in England.” Estuary from 17 September to 2 October And the backdrop of the Delta has similarly estuaryfestival.com inspired local artists across the The Ligeti Quartet and soprano Rachel Puckett generations – from John Constable performing a score by Nastassja Simensky and to Billy Childish. William Frampton, Thames Estuary, 2014 In Points of Departure, 28 Still from the film Colloquy © Nastassja Simensky contemporary artists will exhibit new work at the Tilbury Cruise Terminal as well as interesting venues on the Thames waterside. From Andrew Cross’s video installation Waterbased, exploring the estuary’s ongoing relationship with the economy and culture, to Louisa Fairclough’s drawings of earth and material found across the Thames Delta, local artists will reflect on how place affects art. One of the most powerful works on display will be John Akomfrah’s film installation Mnemosyne, which uses J &
Doc’n’Roll Festival directors Colm Forde and Vanessa Lobon
DOC’N’ROLL FESTIVAL “This is an absolutely DIY project, and the first step was to blag our way through and to pretend to be somebody we weren’t at the time,” says Colm Forde, co-director and programmer of the Doc’n’Roll Festival, a platform for independent music documentaries. The festival was launched in 2014 by Forde and partner Vanessa Lobon. “The festival really is a passion project that myself and Vanessa are doing, so as a start-up we are throwing all our life, energy and cash into it at the moment,” says Forde. “Most of the documentaries we find are crowdfunded films. So we have common ground with the filmmakers because they are also doing the same thing as us. They are getting money from their own kind of people to make the films that nobody else wanted to make because they are too niche or whatever.” To what extent did they set out to provide an alternative to the more mainstream festivals? “The film programmers from all the indie cinemas and festivals could basically pick and choose what they wanted to show because there was no competition,” says Forde. “So it was good to hoist our flag up and say, ‘Bring us your films.’ And since we’ve done that particularly in the past 12 months we’ve been inundated with a crazy amount of submissions from all over the world.” How has the crowdfunding phenomenon changed the nature of the music documentary industry? “That really kicked the door open, for better or for worse,” says Forde. “People who 34
never actually picked up a camera before are now able to make films. And the danger of that is that once someone has made a half-arsed documentary it will put off someone else making a film about the same subject. But luckily the vast majority of the films that reach us are ones of merit. And if they do have a shaky camera or whatever we can turn a blind eye to that because they are generally good films.” The explosion in music documentaries has meant there are far too many for mainstream festivals to cover. “That is the gap where we come in,” says Forde. “Film programmers are overloaded with emails and approaches so they just can’t answer them all. But they basically miss stuff that we can pick up. That is how we started and got successful.” The inaugural festival in 2014 included London: the Modern Babylon, Joe Strummer: the Future is Unwritten, and A Band Called Death about the cult black Detroit punk group. “That film totally went past film programmers here; they couldn’t give a damn,” says Forde. “So that was a good example of how we took a gamble on something that only a niche audience knew about. But we had a sell out and that gave us a lot of confidence.”
B r i e f As well as the annual London programme in the autumn, the Doc’n’Roll Festival has now spread out to include a UK regional cities tour as well as year-round special programmes and screenings. This year has already seen screenings of such diverse films as Yangon Calling: Punk in Myanmar to Sleaford Mods: Invisible Britain. The full list of screenings and events for the third edition of the festival this November will be announced via their website at the end of September. Films confirmed so far include the UK premiere of Northern Disco Lights: the Rise and Rise of Norwegian Dance Music and Lunar Orbit: the Orb. WORDS ANDY THOMAS PHOTOGRAPH DEAN CHALKLEY PHOTOGRAPHIC ASSISTANT CHRIS CHUDLEIGH EQUIPMENT THREE FOUR SNAP THREEFOURSNAP.COM LOCATION RIO CINEMA, 107 KINGSLAND HIGH STREET, LONDON, E8 RIOCINEMA.ORG
town of Asbury Park, with a group of musicians who would later become the E Street Band. At a time when the saxophone, a signature instrument in first-generation rock’n’roll groups such as the one led by Little Richard, was out of fashion, the E Street Band made a major feature of African American tenor player Clarence Clemons, who continued to play with the group until his death in 2011. Springsteen caused the hearts of music journalists everywhere to beat a little faster when he appointed writer Jon Landau as his co-producer in 1975. The previous year, reviewing a Springsteen gig in The Real Paper, Landau said: “I saw the future of rock’n’roll and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Landau, who was also Springsteen’s manager for several years, co-produced all his studio albums from Born to Run through to 1992’s Human Touch and Lucky Town. Now in his mid sixties, Springsteen is as socially engaged as he was in his youth. He has been a vocal
The Doc’n’Roll Fesitval is at selected venues across London, 4-13 November docnrollfestival.com Asbury Park, New Jersey, 1979 Photograph Joel Bernstein BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: BORN TO RUN Since his emergence as leader of the E Street Band in the 1970s, Bruce Springsteen has been treasured for keeping faith with rock’n’roll’s original, rough and ready, bar-room aesthetic. He is also a distinguished link in a long line of musicians who on stage and off have championed the cause of American blue-collar workers, a line that stretches back beyond folk singer Woody Guthrie in the 1930s and 1940s and which also includes John Fogerty’s Creedence Clearwater Revival in the 1960s. Among Springsteen’s early masterpieces was the 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, whose hard-truth lyrics made it less radio-friendly and commercially successful than his 1975 breakthrough, Born to Run. The global superstardom that followed the release of Born in the USA in 1984 did not weaken Springsteen’s fidelity to his working-class roots. In 2006, he released We Shall Overcome: the Seeger Sessions, a collection of 13 songs made popular by Woody Guthrie’s contemporary, folk singer Pete Seeger, in the 1950s and 1960s. In a rare interview given to The Guardian in 2009, Springsteen said: “I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American dream and American reality.” Springsteen was born and brought up in New Jersey. His father was a bus driver, but was often unemployed; his mother was a secretary and the family breadwinner. Springsteen learnt his craft in bar bands playing around the New Jersey resort 36
supporter of LGBTQ rights since the late 1990s, and earlier this year he cancelled a performance in North Carolina in protest at the state’s newly passed Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which dictates which public lavatories transgender people are permitted to use and also prevents LGBTQ people from suing over discrimination in the workplace. WORDS CHRIS MAY Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run is out on 27 September simonandschuster.co.uk The Springsteen compilation Chapter and Verse is out on 23 September columbiarecords.com
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B r i e f THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW AND SHOCK TREATMENT This Halloween, at the British Film Institute (BFI) on the South Bank in London, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its sequel Shock Treatment, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, will be screened along with what is called a “shadow cast” – performers from the stage productions of the musicals who will join in with their on-screen counterparts. These interactive screenings are wholly in keeping with an idea that began as the idle dalliances of a young actor in between roles, and quickly went on to become the archetypical rock opera all-in experience. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was the original stage creation of Richard O’Brien, whose first experience as a performer owes everything to the fact that he spent his youth growing up on a New Zealand sheep farm, his family having emigrated from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. His horse riding skills enabled him to get work as a stuntman on the backlot at Pinewood Studios in 1965’s Carry on Cowboy. His acting career led him to the new rock musicals, with Hair giving him his first London stage role in the late 1960s, before joining Jim Sharman’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the radical Royal Court theatre in Chelsea, west London. Sharman had arrived from his native Australia, where his father had been a famous boxing promoter, with several stage hits already under his belt. It was during this time that O’Brien had been starting to dabble with a musical idea that included many of his passions, such as the music of the 1950s, old B-movies, sci-fi and a series of swords and sandals epics featuring celebrated muscle men of the day – in particular, Steve Reeves. Sharman liked what he saw and The Rocky Horror Picture Show began its life upstairs at the Royal Court in the summer of 1973, then moving pretty swiftly to the Comedy Theatre in the West End. By then it had already caught the eye of songwriter and music business man Jonathan King, who recorded a cast album in two days. King became a backer and helped the musical quickly open in Los Angeles and then Broadway. Its cult following burgeoned with it along the way so that it fast became the must see – then must see again and again and again – musical of the era,
with productions playing across the globe. By 1975, the stage musical had already transformed into the film, with Sharman directing and sharing additional writing. Filming rather appropriately took place at what was the old Hammer studios, where many of the horror films that had inspired O’Brien in the first place had been filmed. In 1976, the notion of audience participation was taken to another level at its infamous Tim Curry as Frank-Nmidnight Furter, 1975 Photograph screenings in courtesy of the BFI New York, which soon involved a performance ritual by the audience that was as much of a draw as the film itself, and inspired similar reactions across the world. At the centre of the story is the incredible Dr Frank-N-Furter, and it was the role that gave novice stage actor and singer Tim Curry his big break. He knew O’Brien from the production of Hair, so when he bumped into him near Baker Street in London where O’Brien was looking for bodybuilders who could sing, O’Brien told him, “You should talk to Jim Sharman. He gave me the script and I thought, boy, if this works, it’s going to be a smash.” The role was not only crucial to the musical and film’s stage success, but also, as an overtly transvestite character – something O’Brien has said he didn’t set out deliberately to create – it was to become a real catalyst in the changing perceptions of transvestism and transgender. O’Brien himself recently spoke about how he had been taking oestrogen to change his body, and that he sees himself as what some have referred to as a “third sex”, which he explains as “a continuum between male and female. Some are hardwired one way or the other, I am in between”. Although, controversially, he also sees this as the nature of transgenderism, telling the Metro newspaper, “You’re in the middle, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” By way of squaring this particular circle, a scheduled US TV adaptation of The Rocky Picture Horror Show has cast transgender actor Laverne J &
B r i e f Cox (nominated for an Emmy for her role in the hit TV series Orange is the New Black) as Frank-NFurter. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Cox explained that she was aware of the responsibility
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975 Courtesy of the BFI she was taking on, but found reassurance within her own family: “I showed my brother pictures of me in character and he was like, ‘You were preparing your whole life for this.’” Like they say, the show must go on. WORDS MARK WEBSTER A Halloween screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its sequel Shock Treatment is at the BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 on 29 October bfi.org.uk A TV-film adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is out on 20 October fox.com
MEN OF STYLE “Fashions fade,” said the giant of French clothes design, Yves Saint Laurent. “Style is eternal.” This point is displayed handsomely in a new book that endeavours to provide us with an A to Z guide – pretty much, from Fred Astaire to Oscar Wilde – of the most stylish men to have sauntered nonchalantly across this planet over the past three centuries. Men of Style endeavours to answer the elusive question, “What is style?”, by introducing us to a series of men who had – and in a few cases still have – it in abundance. The author Josh Sims has tackled this subject in previous books such as Icons of Men’s Style, which analyses the fundamental make up of the male wardrobe, and The Details, which deals with the
accessories. But this time he has selected a group of individuals who have put it all together, in myriad variations on a theme, and just made it work. In his introduction to the book, Sims describes this style thing as “a willingness to play”, and there is no doubt there are quite a few boys in there who were very good at being just that – playboys. Chet Baker, George Best, David Bowie and Michael Caine form a disorderly procession early in the book and immediately you have four completely disparate characters who also happen to have that singular “thing” about them. Alongside them are other such rebels and rabble rousers as James Dean, Keith Richards, the legendary basketball player Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier, Sammy Davis Jr and Orson Welles, who is quoted in the book in typically unswerving form. “Style is,” maintains the great auteur of film, “knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” So that you are left in no doubt as to why Sims picked this particular collection of individuals, Men of Style is awash with fabulous photography, capturing the various icons both in full pose and at leisure. And it is those more candid images, where no one has fiddled with a tie knot or straightened out a pleat for the person, that truly reveal the essence of what the man, and just what that thing called style, really is. Gianni Agnelli outside the Fiat However, it is perhaps factory, Turin, 1967 Photograph prophetic that many David Lees/Life Picture Collection of them are no longer with us. Or if they are – Keith Richards and Walt Frazier, as well as Ralph Lauren and Robert Redford, being the prime examples – they are now gentlemen of a certain age. In his introduction Sims argues that there may be a reason for this. He acknowledges that “to fashion followers, this [style] is to attire themselves in boredom” and goes on to suggest “revolutions, both industrial and social, have in recent years transformed the male wardrobe”, so that perhaps for men of style it is the “last hurrah, destined to be outmoded”. However, I suspect that Sims may be playing the slightly teasing devil’s advocate here, as his book is littered with images that could, apparently effortlessly, be aspired to. J &
B r i e f He also writes of the fact that most men of style “are not famous – you see them up and down the streets”. However, if you are looking for a fella who is out there right now, doing it, then somewhere in between the French film star Alain Delon and the dashing Duke of Windsor is the boy from Kentucky – John Christopher Depp II. A child of the 1960s, Johnny Depp is living proof that style is not just one thing, and that it is timeless. As Sims tells us in the book, in 2012 Depp was the first man to receive the Fashion Icon Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The council’s chief executive said in a subsequent People magazine interview, “[Depp] doesn’t worry about what someone else might think. That’s what we liked about him: he’s got no fear and dresses for himself.” Men of Style quotes Depp’s fundamental, no messin’ take on just what it is that makes him so stylish: “I don’t pretend to be Captain Weird,” says everyone’s favourite pirate. “I just do what I do.” WORDS MARK WEBSTER The book Men of Style is out in October laurenceking.com
HARRY ADAMS EXHIBITION “Everything is forcing itself upon me, I no longer have to think about it, everything comes to meet me, and the whole gigantic kingdom becomes so simple that I can see at once the answer to the most difficult problems. If only I could communicate the insight and joy to someone, but it is not possible,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about his botanical studies in 1786. These words accompanied the exhibition An Impossible Garden at the Modernist Ruin by art duo Harry Adams at Rome’s Galleria Alessandra Bonomo last year. The two London artists, Adam Wood and Steve Lowe, have been similarly preoccupied with the nature of creation since they chose their pseudonym in 2008. Wood and Lowe met at art school in London in 1988 and have collaborated ever since. “Our first collaboration 42
was in bands,” Steve Lowe tells me from Italy, where they are working on their latest exhibition. “It just kind of mutated from doing music to doing visual art with the band STOT21stCplanB. Then when it came to painting, it just didn’t occur to us to do it separately.” After years away from painting, Lowe was inspired to return to it after becoming a gallerist for artists such as Billy Childish, James Cauty of the KLF and Jamie Reid, graphic designer for the Sex Pistols. “I never really wanted to run a gallery and I definitely didn’t want to paint again,” says Lowe. “But then through watching artists there like Billy I thought, I quite fancy doing that myself again.” David Hockney, The gallery, which he London, 1995 founded in 2009, was the Photograph Donald McLellan L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, an anti-establishment space in Clerkenwell, central London, loosely based on the cooperative ethics of Robin Klassnik’s Matt’s Gallery in east London. “The whole idea was that this would be a creative place where I would work with the artists to create the shows,” says Lowe. “I really liked the idea of being closely involved in the whole process, so that is why I only wanted to work with a small group of artists.” The L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, now the studio of Harry Adams, has been the source of a series of works from the two artists that often explore ideas of creation and destruction. “Within Harry Adams’ paintings there is belief and disbelief, beauty and ugliness, order and disorder, dirt and cleanliness, and ecstasy and dysphoria,” wrote Neal Brown in the catalogue for Harry Adams’ Munich exhibition The Lay of the Land in 2013. Why does nature and man’s relationship to it interest the artists so much? “When you go out into the fields there is this great overwhelming sense of the greatness of nature, and when you are painting, there is a similar ecstatic feeling you can get from that,” says Lowe. “But also most
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B r i e f of the nature that we paint, it’s all actually man-made scenery, it’s all fields and hedges.” In works such as Global Seed Vault, Svalbard and The Great Grain Elevator, brutal architectural monoliths disrupt the landscape. “It’s trying to paint the things that you are fearful of but also amazed by,” says Lowe. “They are all testaments
Buds, one each for the 100 years of war since 1914 to the year of the exhibition. It was an attempt in their words to reveal “the political theatre as a lazareto de sangre, run by fools”. Another more overtly political work to emerge from the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop is Jimmy Cauty’s ADP Riot tour, a trilogy of artworks housed in shipping containers depicting a vast post-apocalyptic landscape touring 38 historic riot sites around the UK. Black Clouds Over Will Meadow and “I’m not sure how effective art is as Pasture, 2015 © Harry Adams, a form of opposition but it can be a courtesy of the John Marchant Gallery great way of liberating yourself from the oppression of things,” Lowe says. “It was like the Art Hate posters we do with Billy. It’s just a chance to be as rude as you can without any justification whatsoever, so it’s a true polemic. These things are a way of making people laugh and hopefully bringing people together, the community in fear, in a kind of nice way. And I think art can do that.” The two artists are currently based in the countryside of Umbria preparing for their forthcoming exhibition. “We of man’s use of the planet and often perversion really thought we had a duty to make work in response to of the land that at the same time can be majestic where we are,” says Lowe. “I kind of think of it as gardening and beautiful.” every day – we go out and tend these various crops we have With parallels to the literature of W.G. Sebald, going in different ways. And it will be very interesting to see their work often reveals hidden narratives behind how they turn out in the end. But if we end up with only two what they paint. “When painting The Great great paintings out of it we will be very happy.” Grain Elevator [based on one in Stalingrad] WORDS ANDY THOMAS we discovered the story of the 20 Soviet soldiers that held out there against a mass attack by the The Harry Adams exhibition Water Springs Eternal from Germans who bombarded it for days on end,” the Impossible Garden of Light, in association with Eagle says Lowe. “Then, on another level, when you Gallery, opens at John Marchant Gallery, 159 Farringdon look at grain it’s interesting because this little Road, London EC1 from 6 October grass that grew wild is now dominating the planet. johnmarchantgallery.com emmahilleagle.com We’ve genetically modified it and grow it in fields l-13.org harryadams.org where we have destroyed OASIS: SUPERSONIC all other life. So when we October sees the release of Supersonic, a are doing our seemingly major new documentary on Oasis, timed to lovely landscapes we are celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band’s always discussing these legendary shows at Knebworth in 1996. The ideas. It’s not all dark director is Mat Whitecross, the man behind though, it’s actually the films Spike Island and Sex and Drugs generally light hearted.” and Rock’n’Roll. With major new interviews For On This Land with Noel and Liam Gallagher secured, the Beneath our Skies: 100 director was also given masses of unseen Years 1914-HA14 they footage with which to tell his story. “The painted 100 parallel Oasis, Hampton Court House, London, 1997 film takes the audience back in time – using series of paintings of the Photograph Jill Furmanovsky our privileged access to previously unseen Great Oak and Flower and 44
'Harry Stedman and the Cunard Yanksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; an Exhibition The Shipping Forecast Liverpool L1 4BW Thursday 13th October 6-10pm RSVP: RLEE@HARRYSTEDMAN.COM
B r i e f footage of the band on the rise,” says Whitecross. “This is Liam and Noel as they really are. Unruly and unguarded – filmed on the way up, in the eye of the storm, before they had a chance to grasp the full impact they would have on the planet. This isn’t a traditional music documentary, with older talking heads reminiscing about the good old days. The aim is to plunge the viewer headlong into the rush of Oasis’s meteoric ascent. To feel as if you’re there, rather than looking back nostalgically, and to introduce a new generation of music lovers to one of the greatest bands of all time.” WORDS PAOLO HEWITT The Oasis documentary Supersonic is out in selected cinemas on 2 October lortonentertainment.com A reissue of the album Be Here Now is out on 7 October oasisinet.com
YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? When John Lennon opened ‘Revolution’ on the Beatles’ White Album in 1968 with the line, “You say you want a revolution,” he and his co-lyricist, Paul McCartney, Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow Up, 1966 were tapping © MGM/the Kobal Collection into a popular sentiment. The counterculture’s manifesto for a more liberal, vibrant and culturally inclusive society was widely subscribed to. Music, fashion, cinema and journalism were being transformed, censorship laws were being repealed, gay rights and women’s rights were high on the agenda and, in Britain, capital punishment had recently been abolished. The times, as Bob Dylan had predicted four years earlier, were a-changin’. It seemed like an entire generation were following acid guru Timothy Leary’s advice to “turn on, tune in, drop out” – or, at the very least, they were skinning up. Unfortunately, however, not everyone inhaled. US president Richard Nixon’s vaunted “silent majority” were still out there – and they never went away. Now they and their descendants have come back to bite us. This year’s celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the start of the social upheaval of the 1960s are happening against a
backdrop of reaction and nationalism almost everywhere you look. Little Englanders, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen and their fellow travellers want to turn the clock back to the 1950s. A counter-revolution is underway. But it is not all gloom. Much of the progress people campaigned for in the 1960s happened and its benefits are still with us. Five decades ago, legislation permitting gay marriage seemed inconceivable. So did the idea of a woman leading a mainstream political party (though Margaret Thatcher did just that in 1975). In Britain, you would likely get a prison sentence for possessing a few grams of hash. Vegetarians were widely regarded as figures of fun. Street fashion was the preserve of a tiny minority. Your barber would conclude business by asking, “Anything for the weekend, sir?” Juries invariably believed police witnesses, however ludicrous their submissions. Environmentalism was almost unknown. With the huge exceptions of institutional and “hidden” racism, which continue to disfigure Europe and the US, much has changed for the better, and for this we owe the counterculture of the 1960s a big vote of thanks. Short of the antediluvians taking over civic life, it is hard to see the gains being reversed. But never say never. Now, as much as 50 years ago, we will be wise to make our voices heard. WORDS CHRIS MAY The exhibition You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 from 10 September vam.ac.uk Vietnam War protesters outside the Pentagon, 1967 Photograph Bernie Boston/The Washington Post via Getty Images
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B r i e f YVES SAINT LAURENT: THE PERFECTION OF STYLE “I don’t really like knees,” the 22-year-old Yves Saint Laurent told The Observer in 1958. As he matured the aversion remained, but the aphorisms became more conceptual. “Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it,” he once said, and “It pains me Yves Saint Laurent at home, physically to see a woman Paris, 1977 Photograph victimised, rendered © André Perlstein pathetic, by fashion.” It is no exaggeration to say that Saint Laurent pretty much invented the modern woman’s wardrobe. His most game changing achievement was making ready-to-wear acceptable to the style conscious. In 1966, he was the first French couturier to present a full ready-to-wear collection, launching his Rive Gauche prêt-à-porter boutiques in Paris the same year. In a brilliant PR set-up, Rive Gauche’s first customer was Catherine Deneuve, then as now an epitome of European style. Saint Laurent started out in couture. In 1954, he was hired by Christian Dior as a studio assistant. Four years later, following Dior’s death, he became head designer of the house of Dior. His first Dior collections received mixed reviews and, taking advantage of his conscription into the army in 1960, the brand sacked him. Saint Laurent served less than three weeks before bullying by other conscripts led to the first of the mental collapses that would dog him until his death. He was given electroshock therapy in a military hospital, where doctors put him on a regime of mind-bending psychoactive drugs. Years later, Saint Laurent said that his borderline mental stability and often cripplingly heavy drug use began at the hospital. In 1961, Saint Laurent, with his then life partner Pierre Bergé, founded Yves Saint Laurent Couture House, which morphed into Yves Saint Laurent YSL. A year later, his first collection opened with a pea coat worn over shantung trousers. Subsequent innovations included the tuxedo suit, the pin-stripe trouser suit and the jumpsuit. Garments borrowed from the male wardrobe remained a cornerstone of his style. It took a while for conservative society to adjust. In the 1960s, women were barred from high-end European restaurants for wearing YSL trouser suits.
During the 1980s, beset by mental health issues, Saint Laurent became a near recluse who appeared in public only at his shows. His drink and drug consumption was epic and he sometimes had to be supported on the catwalk by his models. But his genius endured.
“I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation,” Saint Laurent said in 1982, “but with the perfection of my style.” His final show was in 2002 and he died, from brain cancer, in 2008. WORDS CHRIS MAY The exhibition Yves Saint Laurent: the Perfection of Style opens at the Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Avenue, Seattle, on 11 October seattleartmuseum.org A book of the same name is out on 11 October rizzoliusa.com
JOHN CAMERON: PSYCHOMANIA “If Kes was the best film I ever wrote music for, Psychomania was the most bizarre,” said film composer John Cameron, when Trunk Records released the soundtrack of Psychomania for the first time in 2003. “Jazz and session musicians playing pre-punk ‘trash-rock’ for a tale of supernatural gore and mayhem, on a Shepperton recording stage more suited to the London Symphony Orchestra.” J &
B r i e f Thirty years before the retrospective release of the The soundtrack included leading players from soundtrack, director Don Sharp (best known for his horror the British jazz scene who had appeared with films made at Hammer studios in the 1960s) created Cameron on Kes and other recordings for the possibly the most cultish of all British psych-horror films KPM film and TV music library. “It was my kind and certainly the greatest British zombie-hippy-biker of house band and they were very open-minded movie. The brilliant Australian title for the film, Death guys who were into jazz, rock and experimental Wheelers are... Psycho Maniacs, gives a music, so they were clue to the plot of this outrageous piece like, ‘Yeah, why not?’” of low budget cinema. says Cameron. The Featuring a zombie motorcycle gang band included called the Living Dead (whose leader drummer Tony Carr, Tom was played by Nicky Henson Jamaican flautist from the film Witchfinder General) Harold McNair, vibes terrorising suburban London and a player Bill Le Sage frog-worshipping cult led by Tom’s and vocalist Norma satanic mother (Beryl Reid) and Winstone, who her creepy butler Shadwell (George all worked with Sanders), Psychomania is both weird Cameron to get the and strangely wonderful. And the same best out of the rather could be said for the soundtrack antiquated studio. recorded at the Shepperton Sound “The main issue we Stage in the autumn of 1972. faced was that it was So how did the composer of Kes, pre-synthesiser Cover artwork for soundtrack to Don Sharp’s film ranked seventh in the BFI’s Top 10 days,” says Pyschomania Artwork courtesy of the BFI British films, come to create the music Cameron. “So we for this commercial flop? “I had children to feed and I had to improvise with things like using an electric was a jobbing composer. At the time I took anything that harpsichord through a compressor, getting inside I fancied,” Cameron tells me. “It was a long time ago and the piano and beating it with drumsticks, putting I don’t recall how I was approached, but I just remember Musser vibes through phase and wah-wah pedals, being in a screening with another composer who turned using upright bass and bass guitar and putting his nose up at it. But I just thought, no, this is going to them through every pedal we could find.” be fun. The idea of having zombies in Croydon was Cameron thought the session was buried in wonderfully inappropriate.” the midst of time until Jonny Trunk, who had already released his soundtrack to Kes, approached him with an idea: “It was strange,” says Cameron. “At the time we thought me and my mates had done quite a job on this but presumed it had died a death. But then years later it starts to re-emerge when Jonny asked us to put out a CD of it.” Psychomania has become one of the most cultish British films of the 1970s, and Cameron has found himself drawn back into its outlandish delights once more. “There is talk of us doing a live set alongside a screening later in the year,” he says. “We are just talking about that with Jonny Trunk so that’s exciting.” WORDS ANDY THOMAS
Still from Pyschomania, 1973 Courtesy of the BFI 50
A dual format edition of the film Psychomania, with a soundtrack by John Cameron, is out on 17 September bfi.org.uk
COTSWOLD WAY Photographs Mark Mattock Styling Edward Moore and Chris Tang Words Edward Moore
POLO RALPH LAUREN FLAGSHIP STORE, LONDON Having recently streamlined the menswear lines, US brand Ralph Lauren launches its first standalone store dedicated to the Polo range. The store offers the men’s, women’s and children’s collections and sees the launch of Ralph’s Coffee and Bar. Opens on 15 September. Polo Ralph Lauren, 169-173 Regent Street, London W1
ORIS ARTELIER CALIBRE 112 The latest addition to Swiss watchmaker Oris’ Calibre range includes a 10-day power reserve, a GMT function with a day and night indicator, and an in-house movement that is visible on the back through a sapphire crystal case. Out in mid-October
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G-STAR RAW RESEARCH BY AITOR THROUP Over the years British designer Aitor Throup has built a reputation for high-concept, technical clothing, often inspired by street style and youth culture. Previously he has worked with both C.P. Company and Stone Island; this season sees his first collection for denim brand G-Star Raw Research. Out in November
7L Dominic Stansfield began his career in fashion a decade ago, first working for Duffer of St George, PF Flyers and Rushmoor before setting up his brand, Stansfield. His latest venture, 7L (which stands for seven layers) twists military and outdoorinspired clothing into a contemporary wardrobe. Out now
APPLETREES STOCKHOLM STORE Working for several years at Levi’s Vintage Clothing as the brand’s global merchandising manager, Appletrees’ co-founder Victor Sandberg learnt a fair amount about the power of simplicity and authenticity in a garment. He has applied this ethos to his own brand, Appletrees. Expanding the range of unisex shirts to include denim and belts, Appletrees has just opened its first standalone store. Open now at Artillerigatan 29, Stockholm 54
L o c k e r BYREDO 10TH ANNIVERSARY A fine art graduate from Stockholm, Ben Gorham set up his own company, Byredo, 10 years ago. To mark this anniversary he is releasing an unnamed fragrance that encourages wearers to interpret the scent for themselves. Out on 15 September PENHALIGON’S PORTRAITS SERIES This fragrance series centres around four fictitious characters from British aristocracy – Lord George, Lady Blanche, Duchess Rose and the Duke. Out on 12 September ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA QUERCIA The Colonia series takes inspiration from locations around the world. Quercia - Italian for oak - is inspired by the lush oak forests of Italy’s Piedmont region. Out now
ELEMENT X GRIFFIN Element has teamed up with Griffin Studio to create a new range, Black Sky Project. Jeff Griffin, the man behind Griffin Studio, is renowned for his bold, experimental designs influenced by military and high fashion clothing. This capsule collection draws on Element’s use of technical fabrics, including their own Authentech technology that incorporates a waterproof membrane and internal insulation. Out on 5 October
JOHN VARVATOS DARK REBEL RIDER John Varvatos is known for his love of Americana and rock’n’roll. His latest fragrance conjures up the scent of leather; a challenge as it cannot be extracted from leather itself. The packaging is a direct nod to the leather jacket and the rebel spirit it invokes. Out now
BROOKS ENGLAND 150TH ANNIVERSARY Cycling brand Brooks England is almost as old as cycling itself. The anniversary celebrations have included a slew of limited-edition releases, collaborations and a book charting the company’s unique history. The all-black Pickwick Bag is out now
JUSTIN DEAKIN 25TH ANNIVERSARY Justin Deakin, who experienced success early in his career with his brand Stride, is celebrating his quarter century as a shoe designer. To mark the occasion he has designed a celebratory collection, most notably his Twin Monk, which employs opposing straps all made from one piece of leather. He has trademarked this unique design, so you won’t find it anywhere else. Justin Deakin’s 25th anniversary collection is out now
DEREK ROSE HARRODS CONCESSION For almost a century Derek Rose has led the pack when it comes to luxurious nightwear, loungewear and underwear, several generations before the terms athleisure and sportluxe. It is, therefore, somehow fitting that this autumn the company launches its first concession in the Harrods department store. Opens early November, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1
L o c k e r DRAKE’S NEW YORK The luxury British menswear brand Drake’s, originally based in east London, has opened a store in New York’s Soho. The store is showing photography by Jocks & Nerds’ contributor Kevin Davies and artworks courtesy of Hales Gallery. Open now, 120 Prince Street, New York 10012
NIXON THE MISSION Nixon has created the world’s first action sports smartwatch. It is built on the latest Android Wear platform and features a suit of custom applications for surfers, snowboarders and adreline junkies. Out in mid-October RAYMOND WEIL FREELANCER As the official timing partner for Switzerland’s Realteam sailing crew for the 2016 season, Raymond Weil has released its Freelancer watch. Similar to a diving watch, the Freelancer is water resistant to a depth of 300m. Out now
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CUBITTS SPITALFIELDS British spectacles and sunglasses brand Cubbits has added to its Soho and Borough workshops with a new space in east London, offering handmade eyewear, bespoke services, eye examinations and luxury frames. Open now, 86 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London, E1
BARBOUR X SELFRIDGES Selfridges has selected six pieces from Barbour’s 120-year-old archive stocked exclusively at its store. Captain Cotton is based on Barbour’s Durham jacket, sent by a captain in the British Parachute Regiment to the brand’s customer services department to be customised for military use. Out now
OLIVER PEOPLES LONDON The Los Angeles-based eyewear brand has opened its first European boutique, stocking the seasonal collections, as well as collaborations with Byredo and the Row. Open now, 151 Sloane St, London W1
CARHARTT WIP X PELAGO BICYCLES X MISSION WORKSHOP A skate and bike trip to the island of Fuerteventura made by the Carhartt WIP team in 2013 inspired this new collection, which includes all the kit you need: a jacket, T-shirt and hats along with a bicycle, bag and water bottle. Out now J &
L o c k e r MASERATI LEVANTE SUV The Levante is Italian luxury car manufacturer Maserati’s first SUV. The overall opulence is further enhanced by an Ermenegildo Zegna silk or premium leather interior. Other features include a three-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine and a panoramic electric sunroof. Out now
KITON WORLDWIDE STORE LAUNCHES Following the opening of its first boutique in Tokyo, the Neapolitan tailoring brand Kiton is now preparing to open stores in Paris, Moscow and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. Opening soon SEBASTIAN WRONG FOR HAY Available in two sizes, British designer Sebastian Wrong’s bottles for Danish brand Hay have been created in lab-quality borosilicate glass, meaning they can go from boiling to freezing without breaking. Out in late October
DIEMME X MISSONI Italian footwear brand Diemmeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Roccia Vet hiking boot has been redesigned for high-end fashion house Missoni in Tuscan suede and leather. Matching padded collars and laces are made from a knitted fabric on Missoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s traditional loom-knit machines in Sumirago, northern Italy. Out on 23 September STONE ISLAND HOUSE CHECK Italian brand Stone Island has collaborated with Dormeuil, the wool manufacturer which was founded in 1842. The double-weave checked textile was created from Shetland wool and nylon on an antique loom. Out now
GLENFIDDICH GRAN RESERVA RELAUNCH Traditional Scottish whisky maker Glenfiddich has redesigned the bottle and casing for its 21-year-old Gran Reserva single malt. The scotch is matured in Scotland before being transferred to Caribbean rum casks for the final four months. Out now J &
HASSELBLAD X1D Handmade in Sweden, Hasselbladâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s X1D is the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first mirrorless digital mediumformat camera, which allows it to weigh in at just 725g. It also includes HD video, Wi-Fi and a built-in GPS. Out now
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MISMO FOR PRESIDENT’S Italian menswear brand President’s has teamed up with Danish accessories maker Mismo on a collection including a backpack, tote bag, pouch and card-holder. The products feature Mismo’s cotton-nylon exteriors and brass finishes, and Tuscan leathers and striped cotton by President’s. Out at the end of September
HARRY STEDMAN X GRENFELL London menswear brand Harry Stedman and British outerwear company Grenfell’s latest collaboration includes the Slicker jacket, made from a water-repellent cotton and nettle fibre blend. The collection launches alongside the exhibition Harry Stedman and the Cunard Yanks at the Shipping Forecast pub, 15 Slater Street, Liverpool, on 13 October CANADA GOOSE FLAGSHIP STORES Outerwear brand Canada Goose, established 60 years ago in Toronto, specialises in luxury clothing for the coldest temperatures. Flagship stores open at Yorkdale shopping centre, Toronto, and Wooster Street, New York, in October and November. A UK online store launches in September
FLORIS LONDON FRAGRANCE JOURNALS Floris London, the perfume house established in 1731, has released three scents that aim to capture the essence of London in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Out now J &
Matt Johnson The frontman of The The spent his formative years living above his dad’s happening east London pub, now the subject of a documentary film, Tales from the Two Puddings. He discusses the trajectory of his career, from lo-fi experiments in the basement to the excesses of stardom and the pleasures of creating film soundtracks.
Words Andy Thomas Portrait Helen Edwards
“This is the land where nothing changes; the land of red buses and blue-blooded babies. This is the place, where pensioners are raped; and the hearts are being cut from the welfare state. Let the poor drink the milk while the rich eat the honey; let the bums count their blessings while they count the money.” It was more than 30 years ago that Matt Johnson of The The penned these lyrics for ‘Heartland’, a biting critique of Thatcher’s Britain and the opening single from the 1986 album Infected. Born in 1961, Johnson spent his early years living in the Two Puddings pub in Stratford, east London. Known locally in the 1950s as ‘the Butcher’s shop’ due to its cream-coloured tiles and the amount of blood spilt there, the pub was transformed by Johnson’s landlord father Eddie into one of the happening pubs of 1960s London. In 2012, Eddie published the book Tales from the Two Puddings, released through Matt Johnson’s publishing house Fifty First State Press. The book tells the story of the pub’s heyday, when bands such as the Small Faces played early gigs and where famous East End boxers mingled with artists and local gangsters. The pub inspired Barrie Keeffe’s screenplay for the 1980 film The Long Good Friday. And now a new documentary based on the book chronicles the place Matt Johnson called home in the mid-1960s. “My earliest memories of the pub are very vivid, particularly the smell of the place and the noise drifting up through the floorboards,” Johnson tells me at his home in east London. “Me and my brother Andrew would play downstairs when it was closed. I became aware at an early age that buildings have an almost magnetic recording quality to them. You would sense the ghosts from the night before while smelling the cigarette smoke and perfume. I found it very comforting and reassuring.” Above the pub was the Devil’s Kitchen, the first disco in east London, run by Matt’s uncle Kenny and a place of wonder for the two brothers. In the Tales from the Two Puddings film, Andrew Johnson recalls it looking like a “psychedelic ghost train” due to its blue UV lighting and drawings of monsters on the wall. “It was very trippy in there before of course we knew what trippy was, so without knowing it they had created a psychedelic event,” says Matt Johnson. Equally evocative to the two brothers were the bright lights of Stratford Broadway. “I do have very strong memories of it,” says Johnson. “We weren’t allowed to play out on the street, so me and my brother would be upstairs, looking down on this very
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busy road with all the shops lit up with neon. I really did think of it as the Broadway of the song. It was so big and there was music everywhere and cars and people running around.” Growing up at the Two Puddings, music seeped into the soul of the young Matt Johnson. “As we weren’t allowed down in the pub when it was open, we never really knew if it was bands playing or the jukebox, but there was always music,” he says. “Some of my strongest earliest memories were of Tamla Motown, the Beatles and the Kinks. And then as a kid, things like the Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s ‘Fire’ really stirred the imagination and stuck in my mind.” While Johnson recalls playing around with instruments left behind by bands at the Two Puddings, it was when the family took over a second pub in Essex on the outskirts of London that his interest in music took hold. “There was a piano there and I used to go down and practise on that a lot,” he says. “My dad also put on folk nights at the pub so there was always equipment around for me to practise on. Then, when I was around 11, a friend of mine called Nick Freeston suggested we form a band. We were called Roadstar and started with Nick’s little Bontempi organ, a Premier drum kit and an old bashed up acoustic guitar. I didn’t have any musical instruments but I did have the old family reel to reel tape recorder. I would put the microphone into the acoustic guitar and you could turn it on so it was like a little speaker system.” When did that experimentation become more serious? “My brother had bought me this book by Tony Hatch and it mentioned all these well known recording artists that had started as tea boys. It recommended that is what you do. I hated school and had failed all my exams. So I thought this could be an outlet for me,” says Johnson. “I used to read this book religiously. It explained all about songwriting and working in the studio, but also in the index it listed almost every recording studio, music publisher and record company in the country. So I wrote off to dozens of them. I got a lot of replies but only one job interview and that was with De Wolfe. And I got the job, which was fantastic. It really was an escape because all my mates were getting jobs in factories or offices. And that made me feel physically ill.” One of London’s most historic recording studios, publishers and music libraries, De Wolfe was located on Wardour Street in the heart of Soho in central London. Like Stratford in the 1960s, the West End of the 1970s captured the imagination of Johnson. “Soho was very different back then and the sex industry was at the heart of things,” he says. “There was a little place called the Golden Girls Club down on Meard Street. And the working girls would sit on the window looking out and would call me over to make me blush. ‘Oh ain’t he cute,’ they’d say. And I would run off. They were very sweet. So it was a very nice atmosphere down in Soho – seedy but never threatening.” Starting at De Wolfe in July 1977, Johnson arrived in Soho during the creative aftermath of punk. “I was a bit too young for the start of it but really got into what became known as post-punk,” he recalls. “At the time, I was really getting into experimental music. My eldest brother Andrew was the biggest influence on me. He was one of the original punks and would always be bringing back music for me to listen to. And being in the West End, I started to go to gigs and really getting into this nascent scene that became known as post-punk. It didn’t have a name but there was a lot of interesting music going on. Throbbing Gristle were a big influence, as were Thomas Leer, Cabaret Voltaire, Scritti Politti, and of course This Heat.” It was while at De Wolfe, after Roadstar had split, that Johnson’s love of music experimentation really began. “By then, I had discovered the world of overdubbing or sound on sound,” 66
I became aware that buildings have an almost magnetic recording quality. You would sense the ghosts from the night before while smelling the cigarette smoke and perfume.
Two Puddings pub, London, 1960s Photograph Alf Shead he says. “My first experiments were very primitive using an old Cossor tape recorder from the 1960s. Then I saved up to buy an Akai 4000DS MKII (four-track reel to reel tape recorder) that had a sound on sound facility. By this point we had moved to a pub called the Crown in Loughton [Essex] and I started to get a little studio together in the cellar. I had some very primitive bits of equipment; an echo box, an Electro Harmonix drum machine, a Colorsound Tremolo effects peddle and stuff like that.” At the same time, Johnson would experiment in the studio at De Wolfe. “They really taught you very well there,” he says. “They gave you these big old green EMI tape machines to practise on with the razor blades and editing block. It really was a great apprenticeship. Les Sanders was the guy who taught us and he would check the edits until you got it right. I loved it there; it was very evocative with the smell of old tape and electronic equipment mixed with cigarette smoke and coffee.” Johnson would often stay behind in the studio after work, working on material he had recorded on his rudimentary equipment in his basement at home. “I learned a lot from my colleague at De Wolfe, Colin Lloyd Tucker,” he says. “He taught me all about tape looping. He would do things like flanging, putting together two analogue tapes with identical recordings at different speeds. And so I was back and forwards between De Wolfe and my home studio just experimenting with everything I had.” It got to the stage where Johnson and Lloyd Tucker were doing more of their own work at the studio than the company’s. “We kind of left before we were going to get fired,” says Johnson. At the age of 17, he placed an advert in the NME for a new band that read: “Influences; The Residents, Syd Barrett, Throbbing Gristle, Velvet Underground.” With Keith Laws, the synth player he found from those adverts, Johnson played his first gig as The The at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden, central London, in May 1979, supporting Scritti Politti. “Our manager Tom Johnston got us the gig. He really took us under his wing and was a big influence on me,” says Johnson. The group played a number of gigs around London and started to make contacts with some influential figures on the post-punk scene. “We got friendly with This Heat and they were really supportive, really lovely people,” says Johnson. “They invited us to use some of their equipment at their Cold Storage studio in Brixton. They had a Teac four-track that was quite a few steps above my little Akai. So they were very kind and helped us put
Still from Tales from the Two Puddings, 2016 Courtesy of David Simmonds together our backing tracks. And around the same time we also got friendly with Wire through Tom Johnston.” Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis offered to produce a couple of tracks for Johnson’s group. “So we had now been taken under the wing by two of my favourite groups,” says Johnson. “We went into Blackwing Studios [home to early Depeche Mode and Yazoo recordings] and they produced ‘Controversial Subject’ and ‘Black and White’. It was an education for me being in the studio with them.” The resulting tapes found there way to Ivo Watts-Russell of 4AD records, home at the time to Bauhaus and the Birthday Party. The subsequent single ‘Controversial Subject’ (backed by ‘Black and White’) was released by 4AD in August 1980. The LP for 4AD that followed, Burning Blue Soul, was recorded at a cost of £1,800 while Johnson was on the dole. The use of tape loops and various electronic effects on this experimental, lo-fi LP by the teenage Johnson would form part of his later musical template. Around this time Johnson met another label owner, the famously eccentric Stevo of Some Bizzare. “I was still working with Ivo at the time but Stevo was very persistent,” says Johnson. “He wanted us to play a gig supporting Cabaret Voltaire in the north. Then he became more persistent and we let him use a track on his Some Bizzare compilation.” Riding high on the success of Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’, Stevo released The The’s single ‘Cold Spell Ahead’ in September 1981. “It had become a bit of a dilemma for me. I really liked Ivo and 4AD but there was no money,” recalls Johnson. “I was still on the dole sleeping on floors. Then Stevo got interest from CBS and there was a pretty good deal on the table from them, which I signed.” Hoping his new signing would follow Soft Cell to the top of the charts, Stevo sent Johnson to a recording studio in New York. The plan was for a reworked version of ‘Cold Spell Ahead’ (what was to become the single ‘Uncertain Smile’) to be recorded there with producer Mike Thorne. “The first session to do ‘Uncertain Smile’ was really good with Mike at Media Sound in an old church. It went very well,” says Johnson. “Then I went back and those later sessions to do ‘Perfect’ didn’t go so well because there were a lot of drugs involved.” So was this when he was first introduced to ecstasy? “No, I’d had it before then,” he says. “The whole Some Bizzare crowd and Soft Cell were early pioneers of that. We were doing it around 1981. Soft Cell had already been to New York and had got to know a woman called Cindy Ecstasy [who ended up as their backing singer on the Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing LP] and she would bring it over to these little parties we would have in Knightsbridge. There would be a phone call that Cindy has arrived, so you would head over there. But what happened during the second sessions was me and Steve got seriously out of it on a mixture of ecstasy and this really strong Hawaiian grass. I could barely stand up in the studio and didn’t
know what day it was. So I abandoned the sessions and Stevo and me did this mad Fear and Loathing-style trip to the roughest part of Detroit. By then, I was a CBS artist and they must have wondered, what have we signed here?” Following Johnson’s excesses, the rest of the subsequent Soul Mining LP was recorded back in London mainly at John Foxx’s Garden Studios with producer Paul Hardiman. “Me and Paul were on the same wavelength and I really liked his sound,” says Johnson. Far removed from the claustrophobic atmospherics of Burning Blue Soul, Soul Mining found Johnson mixing his studio experimentations with the ‘new pop’ aesthetic of the early 1980s. He has subsequently called Soul Mining the second ecstasy album after Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Listen to the euphoric ‘Giant’ for a sense of where Johnson’s head was at during the recording. “What is interesting about ‘Giant’ and ‘I’ve Been Waiting for Tomorrow’ is they were very much ahead of their time,” says Johnson. “They were almost written in a sequencer-style composition without a sequencer. This was before midi. So what I did was I played the same parts for like six minutes, just repeating these same little riffs. Just doing that again and again and building it up. So I think that’s why they sound so contemporary today.” The Soul Mining sessions included players such as Jools Holland on piano, Zeke Manyika on drums, Thomas Leer on synth, Paul Wickens (Wix) on accordion, and Jim Thirlwell of Foetus (credited as Frank Want). “They were all people I knew already really, apart from Jools,” says Johnson. “At this stage, I really started to know my limitations as a musician. Up until then, I was playing most of the instruments myself. But as a songwriter, I could hear things in my head that I couldn’t really play. So I started to delegate and that was a joy hearing things like the incredible piano solo of Jools on ‘Uncertain Smile’. I couldn’t dream of playing something like that.” It was on Soul Mining that Johnson earned the tag ‘existential blues man’. “I’m just a symptom of the moral decay. That’s gnawing at the heart of the country,” he sang on ‘The Sinking Feeling’. As with all of The The’s albums and singles, the cover artwork was by Matt’s brother Andrew, ‘Andy Dog’, who died recently. “That was actually a painting Andrew had done of one of Fela Kuti’s wives with a joint in her mouth,” says Johnson. “I had seen the picture at his studio and just fell in love with it. I guess it’s got a tenuous link to the African elements on ‘Giant’ but it was really just the colours I loved. He used a beautiful aqua marine and orange. Andrew had already done the portrait of me on the back of the original Burning Blue Soul sleeve and also the cover of ‘Cold Spell Ahead’. And so it seemed like the natural thing to now work together on the LP sleeves.” The graphics were by Fiona Skinner, Johnson’s girlfriend at the time. “She created a whole alphabet for us out of lino print, so it was quite a family affair,” says Johnson. It would be three years before his next LP, Infected. When he returned it was for a much darker and scathing album. “I was drinking a lot of vodka in those days and also doing a lot of cocaine and speed and that had a real impact on Two Puddings pub, 1960s Photograph Alf Shead
me,” he says. “Ultimately I was quite destructive and it was playing havoc with my personal relationships. I could also feel the corrupting and corrosive influence of fame following Soul Mining. Although it was only modest fame, I could feel its effect and it was infecting my relationship and friendships.” The greed culture of Thatcherism and US militarism were the two main targets of Johnson’s vitriol. “I had started writing Infected in 1984 and had started to get a lot more political as we were right in the middle of the Thatcher era,” he says. Just 23 when he began to write it, Johnson created one of the great political albums of the 20th century. When writing lyrics such as “the Saturday morning cinema that lies crumbling to the ground and the piss stinking shopping centre in the new side of town”, Johnson wanted to transport future listeners back to that moment in time. “That [‘Heartland’] took a long time to write,” says Johnson. “It was really a walk through my childhood memories and the sense of the old London and the change into this cold, thrusting Thatcherite era.” How can the effects of Thatcherism be felt today? “You just have to look at the likes of Sir Philip Green for instance,” he says. “These are the torchbearers of Thatcherism. And then Mike Ashley [of Sports Direct] with their Victorian workhouse conditions. So you have that side of things with these so-called entrepreneurs who are really just spivvy crooks. Then the other thing she managed to do was to create a very selfish society and to destroy the sense of community. One thing my dad mentions in the book about working down the docks was how well read a lot of the working class people were. And they not only elevated themselves by exposure to good literature, culture and politics but also shared that with those around them and created a sense of community. And we have lost much of that as society has become more selfish.” Johnson’s venom wasn’t directed solely at homegrown issues. “This is the 51st state of the USA,” he sang, at a time when Thatcher’s seven years Still from the music video for ‘Infected’, 1986
Johnson on the set of the ‘Infected’ music video, Peru
Cover for the single ‘Heartland’, 1986 Artwork Andy Dog in power saw ever-closer ties to the United States. “I could see America remaking the world in its own image,” he says. Reagan’s so called ‘peace through strength’ strategy had resulted in conflicts across South America and the arming by the CIA of Islamic mujahedeen guerrillas in Afghanistan. Johnson foresaw the dangers of the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ of the mid-1980s. “On ‘Angels of Deception’ I sing, ‘He stuck his missiles in your garden and his theories down your throat’. And that was a reference to the cruise missiles coming here. But I was also talking about Reaganomics and theories from the Chicago school of economics and people like Milton Friedman – this experiment in free market economics and neo-conservatism, which is being rolled out in places like Chile and now America and here.” How did Johnson get his information in the days before the internet? “It was harder back then, but you knew what the BBC were telling you was horse shit,” he says. “So it was about both intuition and looking at historical trajectories and making your own decisions. Also buying books from the underground press.” On ‘Sweet Bird of Truth’ Johnson attacked the USA’s involvement in the Middle East. The LP was released four years before the first Gulf War. “If a kid of 21 can see what is in store for us, I mean it’s fucking obvious,” says Johnson. “It’s like the Chilcot report [into the invasion of Iraq]. If all the thousands of us who went on the march knew of the dangers ahead, how come the so-called intelligence services and politicians didn’t know?” The sound of the album owed much to a new keyboard that Johnson had just bought. “The Emulator was all over Infected,” he says. “I had one of the first ones in the country and that cost about £9,000. That was a lot of money in those days. It was an incredible machine.” Already an ambitious project with a cast of many musicians, Infected became a much bigger beast when Johnson and his now manager Stevo persuaded CBS records to fund a hugely ambitious film adaptation of the album. The project began modestly, with director Peter Christopherson filming a video for ‘Heartland’ at Greenwich Power Station. But it took a much darker turn when Johnson and Christopherson flew to South America to film videos for ‘Infected’ and ‘The Mercy Beat’. Stories emerged of tribal rituals with native Indians, confrontations with communist fighters, and general unscripted madness, much of it captured on film. After his month in South America, Johnson flew to New York to film ‘Out of the Blue’ with director Tim Pope in a brothel next door to a crack house in Harlem. “We wanted to make it all as authentic as possible and I was a bit of a daredevil, probably through the drink and drugs and ego,” says Johnson. “So we had to go to
M a t t a working brothel, in Harlem. We went in real prisons in Bolivia. I was strapped on the top of a boat going down the Amazon. Taking the strongest cocaine you’re ever going to get in Bolivia and the whole crew were on it, so it was pretty mad. But we wanted everything to be as authentic as possible. I was obsessed at the time with being like a method songwriter, like a method actor.” Three years after Infected, Johnson released the LP Mind Bomb, featuring Johnny Marr on guitar. “Each album was done under the influence of different drugs and for Mind Bomb it was magic mushrooms,” says Johnson. “I was also meditating a lot and fasting. And I was spending a lot of time by myself writing down my thoughts and dreams. I would try different dosages of mushrooms and through meditation start thinking and writing. At the time, I was also reading a lot of political and religious texts and meditating on this and seeing what came up. So a lot of the lyrics came from that. It wasn’t like I was trying to be some kind of prophet or anything though.” The result though was a series of prophetic cogitations on world events. On ‘Armageddon Days are Here (again)’ Johnson sang, “Islam is rising, the Christians mobilising. The world is on its elbows and knees. It’s forgotten the message and worships the creeds.” The 1990s saw three more LPs including Dusk, which, like Infected, was accompanied by a full-length film, directed by Tim Pope. “That was a difficult album to make because my life had been turned upside down after the death of my brother Eugene,” says Johnson. “I wrote the song ‘Love is Stronger Than Death’ for him, which I think is probably the best song I’ve ever written. The whole LP has a much softer, less egotistical feel. I think because of the bereavement and then me coming down from all the excesses of Infected. After a Hank Williams cover album and a move to New York, where he worked on the LP Naked Self, Johnson became more and more disillusioned with the music industry. “Everything was changing and I really didn’t know where to go,” he says. “I had lost loads of money on tour and had massive debts. So I wanted a big change. I went into a very deep period of procrastination. I decided to take a lot of time off. I really didn’t want to be prancing about on stage any more. The industry was changing with Napster and everything as well, so the wisest thing to do seemed to be to withdraw from it.” Johnson was drawn back to music in the early 2000s through one of his other great interests, film. Working with his ex-partner, the Swedish filmmaker Johanna St Michaels, he composed six soundtracks including the award-winning Best Wishes Bernhard and Snapshots From Reality. “I really lost all interest in music, so the soundtrack thing was a way of coming back,” says Johnson. “I had done some soundtrack stuff before but it was with Hollywood and my experience of that was very unpleasant. The money was good but I didn’t like the people or the process. I would rather be doing something creatively satisfying and that was what happened with the soundtracks with Johanna. I really started to enjoy it.” In 2010, Johnson’s soundtrack for his brother Gerard’s film Tony became the first of a trilogy of albums on his own Cinéola label. So how does writing soundtracks differ to the writing of his own albums? “It depends on who you are working with,” says Johnson. “With Gerard, when he is working on a film, I will be involved from the script stage. He will then create moodboards or give me clips from other films he is going for a similar look for. Also, I ask him for a mixtape of music or sounds that he likes. So we do that and I will create a sound palate, with different timbre, tones and colours. And then he will pretty much give me a free hand to get on with it.” His ominous electronic score for last year’s Hyena positioned Johnson as a worthy successor to the composers that have influenced him, such as Eduard Artemyev
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Johnson on the set of the ‘Heartland’ music video, Beckton Gasworks, London Photograph A.J. Barratt
Just 23 when he began to write Infected, in the middle of the Thatcher era, Johnson created one of the great political albums of the 20th century. and Wendy Carlos. The LPs have been released on Johnson’s own Cinéola label, also home to his occasional Radio Cinéola broadcasts. “I love the independence this gives me,” he says. “That’s a big part of it for me. It’s not the money, it’s the ownership. I love that independent ethos.” Johnson’s immersion in soundtracks has also given him the break he needed to return to the studio to work on new material for The The. “I have written a new song, which was very hard to do as it was motivated by the death of my brother Andrew. That song is called ‘We Can’t Stop What’s Coming’ and it’s very inspired by what happened to him. That was very cathartic and I’m hoping that it’s going to be the start of a new album. And what is brilliant nowadays is the freedom I have to create a record any way I like. So I’m doing exactly what I want to do. There really are no limitations. It’s much more enjoyable for me now than it was back then.” The documentary Tales from the Two Puddings, inspired by the memoirs of Matt Johnson’s father Eddie, is out now on DVD and on demand twopuddingsdocumentary.com Radio Cineola: the Inertia Variations, a documentary by Johanna St Michaels and co-produced by Matt Johnson, is out in spring 2017 The book Democracy? by Matt Johnson is out in late 2017 The book Blitz Kid and Other Stories, a prequel to Tales from the Two Puddings, is out in late 2017 thethe.com J &
Photographs Dean Chalkley Styling Salim Ahmed-Kashmirwala Photographic Assistants Chris Chudleigh and Gideon Marshall Hair and make-up Dani Richardson using Nars Cosmetics and Dermalogica Equipment Three Four Snap threefoursnap.com Locations People’s Sound Records, 11 All Saints Rd, London, W1 1 and Honest Jon’s Records, 278 Portobello Rd, London W11 honestjons.com
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Singer and keyboardist Hollie Cook is the daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Jeni Cook, who was a backing singer for Culture Club. Hollie joined the reformed Slits in the mid-2000s and has collaborated with Ian Brown and Jamie T. She released her self-titled debut album in 2011 and the follow-up Twice in 2014. Her forthcoming album is out next year. holliecook.com Actor and dancer Alex Hughes-Walker, aka Swerve, studied at the Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology, and the Urdang Academy. He was cofounder of the music collective Present Minds and is a member of the Trilogy Dance Crew. He danced for the MTV Michael Jackson tribute in 2012 and for Kanye West at the Brits in 2015. He stars in the film Dance Angels, out now. moonrisepictures.eu 70
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Until the digital revolution, city dwellers needed to carry around a paperback book such as the London A-Z if they were to avoid getting lost, and most car drivers kept a national road map in the glove compartment. Today many of us spend more time referring to web maps and GPS route maps than we do their paper counterparts. But our love affair with maps, as wayfinding resources and also as artefacts worthy of aesthetic appreciation, shows no sign of abating. And it is not just the increasingly frequent instances of “death by GPS” that is keeping the flame alive. Words Chris May
London 225th Anniversary Special, designed by Christopher Wesson, 2016; a 19th-century-style map of contemporary London © Crown 2016 Ordnance Survey. Media 060/16
ust over a century ago, the appetite for paper maps began to spread beyond its traditional bases in the scientific and military communities to include an increasingly broad spectrum of the general population. In 1901, one of the first customers through the door of Stanfords’ newly located cartography shop in central London’s Long Acre was the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. To be precise, it was actually Holmes’s colleague, Dr Watson, who Holmes had sent “down to Stanfords” to obtain a map of Dartmoor. Watson told the story in The Hound of the Baskervilles, whose serialisation began in The Strand Magazine later that year. Stanfords was originally located on nearby Charing Cross Road, where it was opened by Edward Stanford, a tailor’s son turned cartographer, in 1853. His timing was perfect. The already vast British empire was still expanding, the railway age and the accompanying boom in business and leisure travel had arrived, and the Grand Tour of Europe continued to be a rite of passage for artists, intellectuals and members of the leisured upper classes. Demand for maps grew fast. By 1901, Stanfords was the one-stop shop for domestic and overseas travellers, explorers, natural scientists and internationalists of all kinds. Along with Holmes, its long list of customers included Florence Nightingale, David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, and polar explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott. The store is still located on Long Acre and remains the go-to destination for travellers and map enthusiasts, claiming to stock the largest range of paper maps anywhere in the world, including an on-demand customised mapping service. Another London location famed for its maps is the British Library in St Pancras. Tom Harper is curator of antiquarian mapping at the library and co-author of Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art and A History of the 20th Century in 100 Maps. Harper trained as an art historian and joined the library in 2007 after a spell on Bond Street as an antiquarian map seller. The library has an archive of around four million maps, making it the world’s second biggest collection after that held by Washington’s Library of Congress. “When I tell people what I do, they almost always say, ‘Oh, I love maps,’” says Harper. “That is a love affair that began at the start of the 20th century – the interest, the enthusiasm, the being comfortable with maps. It was triggered by a number of things. First, in Europe and the United States, you had universal education, so most people were literate, and geographical location got on to the syllabus by the end of the 19th century. Then in the 20th century, people were travelling more. The use of maps for wayfinding has only really been an attribute of maps since people started travelling further afield. At the same time, maps, which were still primarily bits of paper, became far cheaper to produce and purchase. All this meant that over the course of the 20th century maps crept into every aspect of people’s lives.” By contrast, says Harper, when cartography took root in Europe during the 11th and 12th centuries, maps were available only to a very narrow audience. “It was a learned, academic, religious, monastic audience which was at the same time an official audience – at this point, state and religion were very closely united. So medieval maps were looked at by only a few people and they were used as expressions of devotion and compendiums of history.” Maps became cornerstones of state power around 500 years ago. “It happened as part of the scientific revolution that was part of the Renaissance,” says Harper. “Maps became far more useful for statesmen, and less just records of dynastic rule. They were militarily useful maps. And also, ideologically, if you produced a map of your state, it reaffirmed your belief in it. Henry VIII was really keen on map making. He was the first British map king. He employed surveyors and all sorts of scientists from all over Europe and the first really precise military maps were drawn at that point. Waging his war with France, it helped him to have military surveyors. There is, for instance, a map from his reign showing a planned English attack of Calais. It was pretty good, quite precise. It had scale, it had measurement. “Science and map making really came together in the final quarter of the 17th century, just after the foundation of the Royal Society. The ability to transpose precise geographical information on to a piece of paper and understand it contributed to a growing sense of mastery of the world.” Maps were important tools in the colonisation of Africa and the East. This November, Harper and his colleagues at the British Library will present an exhibition, Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line, which tracks this process and its use by national and international powerbrokers into modern times. A more recent map-making development is counter-mapping, which challenges the state’s monopoly and weaponisation of cartography. The term was first used in 1995 to describe the making of maps designed to be used by rural people in Indonesia to contest state-produced maps that undermined their rights over traditional lands in the interests of logging companies. But the idea of counter-mapping goes back at least as far as the 1960s,
Mars/Western Arabia Terra, designed by Christopher Wesson, 2016; Mars at a scale of 1:4,000,000 © Crown 2016 Ordnance Survey. Media 060/16
The Forth, Clyde and Tay, 1961; a Ministry of Defence map showing a hypothetical nuclear blast in Edinburgh in 1956 Courtesy of the British Library
Ideologically, if you produced a map of your state, it reaffirmed your belief in it. Henry VIII was really keen on map making. He was the first British map king.
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The Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747-55. William Roy’s map of the Scottish Highlands, showing Loch Ard, Trossachs, was created for King George II to find the Jacobite dissenters after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Roy’s skills as a surveyor led to the creation of Ordnance Survey in 1791 Courtesy of the British Library
to the Vietnam war, when students at the University of California, Berkeley, produced campus maps showing which departments were financially supported by the US military, conducting chemical warfare research and so on. The map included collaged photographs of mutilated Vietnamese children. Britain’s map-making hub, Ordnance Survey (OS), has military and imperialistic origins. During the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland in 1745, England’s army commander, the Duke of Cumberland, found that no accurate map of the Scottish Highlands existed. Its absence hindered his pursuit of rebel fighters. A military survey of the Highlands was commissioned by royal decree, producing the “Duke of Cumberland’s map” now held in the British Library. OS was formally established by royal charter in 1791, during the build-up to the Napoleonic Wars. Its first task was the comprehensive mapping of Britain. From then onwards, OS produced many restricted versions of its maps meant for the exclusive use of the military. Such maps included the location and details of sensitive sites such as dockyards, naval installations, airfields and military camps. OS maps continue to be a core resource of the British military today. The organisation’s national importance is reflected in the fact that, despite decades of privatisation, it remains in 100 per cent public ownership with a board of governors answerable to the secretary of state. The geographic information that OS collects and maps is said to be worth £100bn a year to the British economy. OS is best known, however, for its leisure maps. It has never operated its own physical sales outlets, and since 1856 has used Stanfords as its principal shopfront. Stanfords stocks the full range of OS’s leisure maps, including the Landranger (on the scale 1:50,000) and more detailed Explorer (1:25,000). OS has, however, embraced the commercial opportunities of online sales and digital mapping. It produced its first app, Mapfinder, three years ago. Its flagship digital product is Mastermap, which, thanks to continuous review, is never more than six months out of date. Custom Made is a print-on-demand OS service that allows buyers to choose the centre and scale of their map. Christopher Wesson is a cartographic design consultant at OS. To mark its 225th anniversary, OS this summer released a paper map of modern London, designed and J &
rendered by Wesson in the company’s 19th-century style. I meet him at OS’s Geovation Hub in London’s Clerkenwell, where he is about to give an open-access talk about the map. It is an extraordinarily beautiful artefact, as is Wesson’s other recent paper release, a partial map of Mars. For his London map, Wesson has kept the fonts and terminology as similar as possible to those on the first map of the city produced by OS, in 1801, and has replicated the original marginalia, title and scale bar. The place names and symbols on the map have all been rendered by hand. One obvious difference between the 1801 map and the new one is the relative lack of contour information on the latter – Wesson says that the building booms that extended London’s built-up area in the 19th and 20th centuries involved the literal flattening of some parts of the city. “The paper maps that people know and love are no longer a huge part of our business,” says Wesson. “But I think there will always be a need for them. The military continue to value paper maps, for instance. They say that if they get a bullet through their phone or tablet it’s rendered useless. But if they get a bullet through a paper map, they can still use it. So for them, paper maps are incredibly important.” OS’s advice to web map users points out that you never know when an electronic device might fail, get lost or damaged, and if you are forced to stay out longer than expected that is exactly when you will most need a reliable map – and when the batteries in your device are most likely to give out. That said, OS is a primary driver of digital mapping. Its Geovation Hub is a science facility where entrepreneurs and digital cartographists can huddle or work alone, with OS specialists on hand to offer advice. Geovation hosted the most recent meeting of London’s Geomob, a group of insiders and map enthusiasts who hold regular talks and get togethers. OS is also part of the Maptime network that operates in cities worldwide, promoting local interest in cartography. These digital-savvy organisations are the modern complement to such traditional, paper-orientated events and centres such as the London Map Fair and the West End’s antiquarian map trade.
The Battle of the Atlantic, designed by Frederick Donald Blake, 1943; a British propaganda poster showing Nazi planes and warships, produced in various languages Courtesy of the British Library
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The military still value paper maps. If you get a bullet through a phone it’s rendered useless. But with a bullet through a paper map, you can still use it.
Map of New Zealand, designed by MacDonald Gill, 1931; a map demonstrating New Zealand as a prosperous and productive country, created for trade with the British Empire during a period of economic difficulty Courtesy of the British Library
Jewish East London, 1900s; a map showing in blue the concentration of Jewish immigrants Courtesy of the British Library
Wesson says that, despite the arrival of web maps, there is growing appreciation of paper maps. “A lot of people buy them not to use them but to put them up on a wall at home,” says Wesson. His London and Mars maps are downloadable on Flickr, though most of us do not have printers big enough to run them out at the right size and their image resolution will be of a lower grade than the copies sold by OS. Special projects such as the London anniversary and Mars paper maps aside, Wesson spends most of his time producing digital maps. “Rescale and interact are the two biggest things a web map can do and a paper map can’t,” he says. “With a map on your phone or computer you can zoom in and out of it, getting more detail. Interact means that if you’re looking at a Google or OS web map, you can click on something and it will bring up more information – if you click on a shop, for instance, it can tell you the opening hours. However beautiful an object a paper map is, it can’t do that.” Our increasing reliance on web and GPS maps, however, is having unfortunate side effects. The best known is “death by GPS”, a term coined by rangers at the Death Valley national park in California. In giving the most direct route from A to B, the system may take you down roads and tracks that have long been abandoned, or by routes that require local knowledge that would make you aware that taking a particular turn is unwise. In his recent book Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Our World, Greg Milner relates several cautionary tales concerning over-reliance on GPS. Some are comical, such as that of the Danish couple who asked GPS to guide them to the Mediterranean island of Capri, but instead arrived at the northern Italian industrial town Carpi, some 400 miles from their intended destination. An Italian tourist official noted that although Capri is an island, the couple “did not even wonder why they didn’t cross any bridge or take any boat”. Other tales are tragic rather than funny. Death Valley’s tortuous, desiccated landscape and extreme temperature fluctuations make it a particularly dangerous place to rely on GPS. In the summer of 2009, Alicia Sanchez was driving through the park with her young son. GPS directed her down a track that she followed for 20 miles, not realising that it had no exit. When a ranger discovered her Jeep a week later, obscured by a rock overhang and stuck in sand up to its axles, Sanchez was barely alive and her son was dead. But death by GPS is not confined to remote areas. In 2015, Iftikhar Hussain and his wife were driving from their home in Chicago to visit relations in Indiana. As Hussain approached a bridge across the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal, he either did not see, or chose to ignore, the orange cones, “road closed” signs and other warnings to turn back, the crossing having been closed for repairs for six years. The car plunged off a mid-span gap in the bridge, killing his wife. While you cannot legislate for human stupidity, you can improve technology, and so at least some of the factors leading to cases like the Hussains will be eliminated in time. The damage over use of GPS may be causing to the human brain, however, may not be so easily fixed. In a recent study, Dr Hugo Spiers, of University College London’s Spatial Cognition Group, observed that while with GPS we are depending on a technology that in theory makes it impossible to get lost, not only are we still getting lost, we may actually be losing some of our brain power in the process. Spiers’ research suggests that over reliance on GPS can lead to a measurable decline in the brain’s cognitive mapping ability. Julia Frankenstein of the Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Freiburg in Germany agrees. “The problem with GPS systems is that we are not forced to remember or process information,” says Frankenstein. “As it is permanently ‘on hand’, we need not think or make decisions ourselves. The more we rely on technology to find our way, the less we build up our cognitive maps. We see the way from A to Z, but we don’t see the landmarks along the way. Developing a cognitive map from this reduced information is a bit like trying to get an entire musical piece from a few notes.” Frankenstein’s research shows that the habitual use of GPS causes the partial atrophy of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for complex spatial representation. It looks like paper maps are set to survive alongside their digital offspring for the foreseeable future, whether as wayfinding tools, craft and fine art objects to be looked at and enjoyed, repositories of information or artefacts that address the human need to itemise and make sense of the world. The exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line opens at the British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 on 4 November bl.uk Christopher Wesson’s London and Mars maps for Ordnance Survey’s 225th anniversary are available now ordnancesurvey.co.uk J &
Photographs Gavin Bond Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Words Chris May Grooming Dallin James at The Wall Group using Kiehl’s and Phyto Retouching Sophy Holland Photographic Assistant Paul Rae Location Van Zio Rentals ziorentals.com
Wagner Moura plays notorious Colombian cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar in the Netflix drama series Narcos. The Brazilian actor shares his thoughts on drug legalisation, training as a journalist and campaigning against modern-day slavery for the UN.
Over the past 12 months, the Brazilian actor Wagner Moura has been delighting global audiences in the Netflix drama Narcos, in which he plays the real-life Colombian cocaine king Pablo Escobar. Narcos is currently in its second series, which will conclude with Escobar’s death. Moura’s nuanced and assiduously researched portrayal – for which he learnt Spanish and put on 40 pounds to approximate his character’s pudgy build – captures both the ugly reality of Escobar’s murderous career and the Robin Hood-type social gestures and political ambitions that counterpointed it. Moura made his debut full-length feature appearance in Fina Torres’s romantic comedy Woman on Top in 2000. His first major role came three years later in Carlos Diegues’s dramatic comedy God is Brazilian and he became a household name in Brazil in 2007 in the TV soap opera Paraíso Tropical. Moura has progressed to international A-list status in a series of films that have addressed serious social and political issues while also working as great entertainment – notably José Padilha’s Elite Squad and Elite Squad: the
Enemy Within, and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. In 2008, between the two Elite Squad movies, Moura took the title role in a stage production of Hamlet that ran for eight months in São Paulo and another three in Rio de Janeiro. Moura began his career in his mid teens as a stage actor in his home state, Bahia, in northeastern Brazil. He studied journalism at the Federal University of Bahia, and worked briefly on newspapers before returning to acting full time – or almost full time. Moura is also the singer in the band Sua Mãe (Your Mother), and continues to write for Brazilian newspapers and magazines. He is also a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation, which campaigns against slavery and debt bondage and for decent wages and working conditions. Moura lives with his wife and children in Rio, from where he talks to me. Thoughtful and quietly spoken, with excellent English, he seems an admirably well-grounded person, his professional activities balanced by political convictions that have their roots in the poverty he observed while growing up in rural Bahia.
Coat by Polo Ralph Lauren; trousers by Issey Miyake; shirt by Emporio Armani; boots by Jimmy Choo; sunglasses by Tom Ford.
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Coat by Richard James; trousers by APC; shirt by Levi’s; boots by Jimmy Choo; sunglasses by Tom Ford.
You studied journalism at university and went on to work for a while on newspapers. What made you switch to acting? Actually, I started acting when I was 15 and I carried on while I was at university. I decided to go to university rather than drama school because I was only 17 or 18 and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. The journalism degree was really important to me because studying theories about communication – Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, all those Frankfurt School guys – opened my mind as an artist in a very cool way. Some of my best friends nowadays are journalists from that time. And I met my wife [photojournalist Sandra Delgado] at university, though we only started to date later. My band is completely formed of journalists.
I read somewhere that you ultimately opted for acting because, as a journalist, you wanted to write campaigning stories but were instead sent to cover mundane local events. I think all young journalists romanticise the profession. You think you’re going to be surrounded by musicians and painters and film directors and political thinkers. I thought I would end up writing something that would lead to the impeachment of the president. But what actually happened is I was sent to cover the most stupid things. It is how every journalist begins, but I found it really frustrating.
Much of your work, as well as being great drama, has foregrounded important social and political themes. I’m thinking of They Killed Sister Dorothy, Elite Squad, Elysium and Narcos in particular. Do you look for scripts that offer such strands? Maybe, though, choosing a project is not always rational. But I like politics, I’m involved in politics. We are in a very bad political moment in Brazil right now, so it’s hard not to do something. Also in Brazil, we have a history of political films. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, before and during the military dictatorship, we had a movement called cinema novo. Most cinema novo films tried to take a political view on the country, despite the censorship. They had this motto which went: “A camera in your hand and an idea in your mind.” They were influenced by Italian neo-realist films of the 1940s and 1950s. And if you watch
later Brazilian films, like City of God or even Elite Squad and Narcos, you can see that movement continuing. But most cinema novo films were too intellectual to be widely popular. A few of them, like Macunaíma , broke through and became very popular among Brazilians in general. But the arthouse-only releases had an important influence in intellectual circles.
During the cinema novo era, there were singers and composers in Brazil who were making similarly
The journalism degree was really important to me, because studying theories about communication opened my mind as an artist in a very cool way.
important work – bossa nova and tropicália artists such as Nara Leão, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. Like politically inclined actors and film directors, these people were brave. The threat of prison and torture was all too real. Yes. If you listen to Chico’s songs, you can see that it’s actually quite beautiful, because the things that he said, they really criticised the military dictatorship, but he had written them in ways that the censors wouldn’t understand. So he was working with metaphors, poetically. Every artistic production of that time that wasn’t pure entertainment had to face danger. They say that it’s during bad times that creativity is strongest. And if you look at the amount of things that were produced in Brazil from 1964, when there was the coup, to the early 1980s and the downfall of the regime, it’s quite amazing.
I hear that your next film, your directorial debut, is going to be about the dictatorship? Yes, it’s a film about the guerrilla fighter Carlos Marighella. It’s being produced by Fernando Meirelles, who directed City of God. After the Cuban revolution, we started to have a lot of guerrilla movements in South America. The dictatorships crushed those movements really
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fast because the United States, after what happened in Cuba, was like: “OK, this is not going to happen anywhere else in South America.” They were very efficient, sending the CIA guys here and supporting all the rightwing dictatorships – Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia. Everything that happened under those regimes was done with the support of the Americans. Marighella was the leader of the Brazilian resistance, the most famous South American guerrilla after Che Guevara. His father was Italian and his mother came from a family of African Brazilian slaves, so he was a very Brazilian type of guy. His guerrilla group, Ação Libertadora Nacional, was the largest in Brazil. In Europe, people like Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean-Luc Godard would send money to him. The French leftwingers always supported Marighella because he was an intellectual, he wrote books. He was ambushed and killed by the police in São Paulo in 1969. Researching Marighella’s life for the film was difficult, because he lived like a ghost, he was always clandestine. Everybody knew his name but very few facts were known about him. Nobody knew where he lived and he avoided being photographed. But this guy [José Cicero Honorato] wrote a book about him a couple of years ago and I bought the rights to film it.
Elysium can be read as a metaphor for the Syrian refugee crisis, but it was made before the mass emigrations really began. Where was Neill Blomkamp coming from with his story? Neill lives in Canada but he is South African. He was maybe 12 years old when apartheid was abolished and so I think it made a big impression on him when he was growing up. He’s a white guy but very clued up. If you watch his first film, District 9, it’s basically a metaphor for apartheid, with an alien instead of black people. So I think this is one of his biggest concerns. And I really liked District 9, so when I had the opportunity to work with him I was thrilled.
Elysium is a good example of what you were talking about earlier with cinema novo: a film that addresses injustice while simultaneously being a great piece of popular entertainment. City of God is another example – a serious film and here in Brazil very, very popular. This is one thing that I really want to do with my film about Marighella. I don’t want to restrict it to an arthouse audience. I hope it will be a film that has something to say, a political film, but at the same time a popular film that is seen by a lot of people. I want to make a film about a serious topic but without being dry and academic about it. It’s a difficult thing to pull off.
You put a lot of time and effort into researching and preparing for your screen roles. You lived in Bogota for a few months and learnt Spanish for your role as Pablo 88
Escobar. Have your preparations always been so thorough? For Elite Squad we spent almost two months being trained by some special operations guys. José Padilha is a documentarist and so he likes his films to look as real as possible. These guys were told to train us so that we could act on screen exactly like they worked. So they didn’t treat us as actors, they treated us as recruits. They wanted me to be more aggressive, and on one occasion one of the guys said something about my baby son, to provoke me. Next thing I knew I punched him on the nose and broke it. It was unnecessary and I’m not proud of it. But he was really happy that I had done that. There was blood all over his face, his nose was broken and he was going: “Yeah! Yeah! That’s it!” Living in Bogota was more difficult than breaking people’s noses. I hardly spoke a word of Spanish when I went there and I was on my own – my family stayed behind in Brazil. I had to learn a language in order to play a character. But, as an actor, doing that put me very strongly in Pablo’s universe. In order to play Hamlet, I had translated the play into Portuguese. I had an English teacher to help me, but I made the translation myself. So when I did the play I felt really connected to Shakespeare. When I went to Colombia I remembered how that had created this universe, and I felt the same thing when I was learning Spanish to play Pablo. I felt like I was starting from the beginning, learning his language in order to play him. It was really, really hard but it put me in such a strong relationship with the character and his universe. And I was able to read a great deal of Spanish-language literature that had been written about him.
Gay Talese says that when he was writing his book Honor Thy Father, about the New York mafia, for which he had to immerse himself in that world, there were a couple of occasions when he felt his life was in danger. Did you ever feel the same when you were researching Escobar? Not so much then as with Elite Squad actually. We shot the film in some very dangerous places in the Rio
Back in the 1980s, Bogota was the most dangerous city in the world, but now it’s a very cultural, interesting place. favelas. These are places where the government really doesn’t penetrate. We had to negotiate with the drug dealers who controlled the areas; get their permission to be there. When we were shooting, our protection was heavily armed drug dealers. At one point I was taking photographs and this guy started shouting: “Hey! You can’t take pictures of us, man!” A guy with a machine gun in his hands. That was a scary situation, not very cool. But when we did Narcos, Colombia had changed from Pablo’s time. Back in the 1980s, Bogota was the most dangerous city in the world, but nowadays it’s very different. That’s why Colombians are kind of sick of narco stories. Bogota is a very cultural, interesting place now. Of course, they face many of the same issues that other South American cities have – poverty, violence – but nothing like the world you see in Narcos. So I didn’t feel threatened. In fact, I brought my wife and children to Colombia for the last six months of filming. My kids went to Colombian schools and learnt Spanish. About a month ago, I heard that Pablo Escobar’s brother wanted Netflix to pay him a million dollars and he was saying things about me. That was weird, hearing that, coming from a criminal. But it didn’t really affect me.
Did they give him the money? I don’t think so. I hope not.
Do you think drugs should be legalised? Yes. All drugs. I say that because of simply observing how the policies against drugs haven’t worked. For 50 years the ‘war on drugs’ has been a big flop. Especially for the producing countries. The consuming countries have been relatively unscathed. This US-led policy, the war that takes place against the producing and exporting countries – Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia – that’s where most of the young men are dying. When I say that drugs should be legalised I’m very careful to add that I know drug addiction is a terrible thing, a big deal. But I think it is something that should be treated as a health problem and not as a police issue. Because when the narco state takes over, you get violence, murder, a lot of corruption, everything goes bad.
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Please tell us about your work with the International Labour Organisation (ILO)? In a country like Brazil, human rights is an issue that has to be supported. When the Portuguese colonised Brazil they did so by dividing it into big agricultural areas the size of England, and they gave those lands to people that the king believed could take care of things on his behalf. It was a mix of public and private, it was the guys’ land but also the king’s land. And this confusion between what is public and what is private persists in Brazil. Most of the land here is in the hands of a very small number of extremely powerful people. The system doesn’t allow people who need to take care of their families to do so. When the rural workers form unions to try to represent them, even today they get killed. I come from the countryside in Bahia and I saw a lot of shit going on when I was a kid. Not
I heard that Escobar’s brother wanted Netflix to pay him a million dollars and he was saying things about me. That was weird, hearing that from a criminal. only people being killed but people being enslaved. It was very, very common. The way African people came to Brazil as slaves shaped the way our society is now. Brazil was the last country in the western world to abolish slavery, in 1888, and people still believe that they have the power not only to own land the size of a country but also to own the people who live there. They don’t believe they have to pay their workers properly or give them good conditions to live in. What leads the affected people to accept bad conditions is the abject poverty they come from. Poverty is the biggest window to slave labour. The landowners recruit people from the countryside in the north and bus them down. They tell them they’ll pay them say $50 a week. Which to a poor guy in Bahia sounds great. But when they get to
the estate they find they’re being charged $25 for their food and $25 for their accommodation and $25 for the tools they use, so at the end of the week they are owing money to the farmer and the farmers tell them they can’t leave until they’ve paid the debt back. And some Brazilians say, “That’s fair. They should stay until they pay their debts.” Believe it or not, Brazil is a country with some of the best laws to protect workers against slavery. People who are forced to work crazy hours, like 20 a day, or who are trapped in debt bondage, or who are housed in degrading conditions, are considered slaves. But the laws aren’t enforced. There is this big lobby of landowners and industrialists in the congress who are constantly trying to change or undermine these laws. Right now, I’m working for the ILO’s 50 for Freedom campaign. It aims to have 50 countries ratifying a new, much stronger ILO protocol concerning slave labour by 2018. It’s going well, I think we now have seven countries signed up. Britain is one of them. But unfortunately Brazil is not. President Rousseff was going to sign, but then her opponents succeeded in impeaching her.
Finally, dietary tips. In order to play Escobar, you not only learnt Spanish, you put on an extra 40 pounds. I understand you became vegan in order to get back to your original weight. Willem Dafoe told me he turned vegan to lose weight for a movie role, and that it made him feel so energised that he has stuck with it. How did you find the experience? I spent almost two months only eating vegan, but now I’m vegetarian, I’m eating cheese again. I’m not going to eat meat any more though. I feel great and my high cholesterol level, for which I had to take medicine for years, has gone way down. I also feel good about not eating meat for ecological reasons. Brazil is the biggest beef producer in the world and the gases the herds produce are a major contributor to climate change. And all those places that were meant to be unspoilt forests have been completely destroyed in order to grow animals. The second season of TV drama Narcos, starring Wagner Moura as Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, is out now netflix.com
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A biopic of the Brazilian Marxist revolutionary Carlos Marighella, directed by Moura, begins production in spring 2017
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SYL JOHNSON may not be a name that rolls off the tongue, but his song ‘Different Strokes’ has been sampled on more than 50 records by some of hip-hop’s biggest names, from Wu-Tang Clan to the Beastie Boys. “I’m not trying to be a star any more,” says Syl Johnson, speaking to me from his home in Chicago. This sentiment is echoed in the first words we hear from the singer in the recent documentary on his life and work, Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows: “I don’t want them to remember me.” One of the great voices in American soul music, Johnson is highly ambivalent about the long overdue interest in his work, which also includes a six LP boxset, Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology, collecting his recordings from 1959 to 1972 and produced by Chicagobased Numero Group. This ambivalence no doubt stems from Johnson’s difficult life story, which is littered with missed chances and bad timing. It wasn’t until 1993 that he eventually started to earn his dues, after financial settlements with some of the many hip-hop artists who sampled his 1967 breakbeat classic ‘Different Strokes’. “That was one of the biggest songs ever, bigger than [Michael Jackson’s] ‘Billie Jean’,” he tells me. “More people sampled that than any song in the world.” Other settlements followed, including for samples from ‘Could I Be Falling in Love?’, ‘Wind, Blow Her Back My Way’, and ‘Any Way the Wind Blows’ from Johnson’s equally prolific early to mid-1970s period with producer Willie Mitchell at Hi Records, the Memphis home of Al Green. However, for Rob Hatch-Miller, director of the Any Way the Wind Blows film, the singer was worthy of more than hip-hop sample credits and overdue cheques. He first met Johnson in 2009.
“The Numero Group were bringing Syl to town for a tour they had put together called the ‘Eccentric Soul Review’,” says Hatch-Miller. “They were setting up a few radio promotion events for him and they asked me if I could film him for their promotional channel. So I went out to WFMU [radio station] in New Jersey where I worked as a DJ and filmed this amazing 90-minute interview. I just thought that Syl was an incredible character; and that is what you need to make a good documentary.” Following the interview Hatch-Miller got talking to the singer. “Syl had mentioned in the interview that he wanted to write a book about his life if someone would help him, so when the interview finished I said I would actually be very interested in doing a documentary. And that is when it started.” The film he hatched with producer Michael Slaboch (sound engineer at Numero Group) was only possible because of the trust gained between Johnson and Numero Group during the four years it took to finish the Complete Mythology. “That relationship was extremely important,” says Hatch-Miller. “Before that Syl was trying to self-release his albums and they weren’t very well packaged and they weren’t the best masters. He had been doing that because he had never been paid from a lot of the other labels who had released his music.” So it was a trust that was hard to gain from a man who once claimed of the music business, “The only thing I can liken it to is the drug business. Everybody’s out
Syl Johnson, Royal Studios, Tennessee Photograph Rob Hatch-Miller
Words Andy Thomas Portrait Rob Hatch-Miller Photographs courtesy of The Numero Group
Johnson and his band, South Rush Street, Chicago, 1960 Photograph courtesy of Paul Oliver
to get you, no one’s legit, and the only people getting paid are at the top.” But through the Numero Group’s careful handling, Johnson began to put his faith in a record label for the first time for nearly 50 years. “Numero first approached the septuagenarian in 2006 during our research for Eccentric Soul: Twinight’s Lunar Rotation – but he was none too happy to hear from us,” wrote label owner Ken Shipley in the liner notes to Complete Mythology. “After three years drifting rudderless through phone calls, meetings, and off-the-cuff interviews, the still-childlike Syl – sporting Karl Kani knock-off jeans and his Obama cap slightly askew – finally relented.” The ‘Eccentric Soul Review’ had been an important first step for Johnson to gain trust in the label. “I think that tour was the main thing that allowed the relationship to blossom,” says Hatch-Miller. “Syl felt they had treated him well, they had got a good band for him and booked him good venues, and things like a nice tour bus and he felt like he was paid properly. And after that tour he was like, ‘OK, you guys can release my material.’” Alongside the 80 songs that appeared on the Complete Mythology was an in-depth biography by historian Bill Dahl that for the first time told Johnson’s story. “Those notes were extremely important to me when researching the film,” says Hatch-Miller. “But in fact a lot of the shooting was its own research in a way. We had some background to go on as an outline but we learned so much more as we made the film. Which is part of what I love about this kind of documentary when the story unfolds as you make it. I love that process of discovery and I think it helps bring the audience along with you. It’s not just like this authoritative voice that is telling them this is how it was; they are learning the story along with the filmmaker.”
I could play the blues but a kid doesn’t want to sing like their daddy sings. I had my own style I was coming up with. Despite later sample credits and payments, as we see throughout the film Johnson’s story is one of frustration and difficulty, and it is also a story shrouded in mystery – much of it, as Dahl explains, created by Johnson over the years. “If he couldn’t enjoy the successes of an Al Green or a James Brown, he could surely concoct for himself a more mysterious history… Syl Johnson’s illegitimate father would be [blues legend] Robert Johnson. Or so he began to claim.” Syl Johnson was born Sylvester Thompson near Lamar, Mississippi, on the edge of Holly Springs National Forest, in the hot summer of 1936. The sixth child of Samuel and Erlie Thompson, his introduction to music was hearing his father singing in the choir at Hebron Missionary Baptist Church. With his brothers Mac and Jimmy, the young Syl listened to his dad playing harmonica with his brother Hubbard on fiddle. A childhood friend lent Jimmy a guitar that Syl would play when it lay idle, until one Christmas he got his own acoustic
guitar. Like many southerners, Syl’s father joined the Great Migration north, moving to Chicago in the 1940s, the rest of the family following on later. Syl joined his Chicago neighbour Sam Maghett (Magic Sam) in the backing band of Maghett’s uncle James ‘Shakey Jake’ Harris before joining the group Four Aces alongside Junior Wells in 1956. In the same year, Johnson got his first taste of the studio with William ‘Billy Boy’ Arnold on recordings for the Vee-Jay label. During a break at Vee-Jay, recording with Jimmy Reed’s band, the label’s Vivian Carter heard Syl singing and suggested he cut a record for them. While that recording never transpired, it did make Syl determined to give it a go as a singer. With the help of Howard Scott of the local group the Masquerades he wrote the song ‘Teardrops’. Released on the Federal label (a subsidiary of King Records) in 1959 and produced by Ralph Bass, ‘Teardrops’ was a searing piece of R&B/popcorn that set Syl’s mournful vocal around a ghostly female harmony. Although his guitar style was inspired by the Chicago blues men, on his debut as a singer he didn’t want to sound like them. “I had been playing with some blues guys like Billy Boy Arnold and Junior Wells, but I was a young man,” he says. “I could play the blues but a kid doesn’t want to sing like their daddy sings. I had my own style I was coming up with. I was never going to make a blues record; that was adults’ music. All the kids were into doo-wop and soul – they weren’t into the blues.” Until now it was assumed that it was a printing error on the label of his debut that saw his name changed from Sylvester Thompson to Syl Johnson. Putting the record straight, Syl explains how his name change came about: “That one’s a long story. Syd Nathan, founder of King Records, it was his idea. When I went down there to record, he said, ‘Man, Sylvester Thompson sounds like a governor or something. I’m going to name you after a baseball player I know called Syl Johnson.’ He was a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. So he put that name on the record. It was only when someone played it on the
S y l radio that I knew my new name was Syl Johnson. I phoned him up and said, ‘Man, you put the wrong name on it,’ and he said, ‘No, that’s your stage name, like B.B. King or Nat King Cole. So I said, ‘OK,’ and that was it.” ‘Teardrops’ was the first of five raw soul singles for Federal before he left the label after feeling overshadowed by the main star. “I was a very young man when I was at Federal and James Brown dominated that company,” says Johnson. “I was only just learning the business and also didn’t give a shit.” In the early to mid-1960s he recorded a number of one off seven-inches with tiny Chicago labels while working Photograph Jerry Griffith as a delivery driver. By now, Johnson had his own band playing at venues on the South own stuff,” says Hatch-Miller. “He was also very Side of Chicago. “Oh wow, I had the best band much his own self-formed artist with his own together in Chicago and I didn’t have a blues individual voice and style, rather than one that band,” says Johnson. “I played mostly to the was moulded by a label owner as in the case with South Side upper class black people and they Al Green at Hi Records.” The singer thrived on didn’t like the blues. You couldn’t play no blues the freedom given to him at the label. “You talk to them man. All the other little juke joints on to anyone who knows my background and they the West Side had blues bands. But it was soul will tell you my greatest records were the ones in Chicago back then. And don’t let anyone on Twinight, because that is where I was more bullshit you. I also played soul in the white clubs. myself,” says Johnson. As a soul band you could make it, blues was out. The first few singles on Twinight were What made the blues big was the white people collected on the LP Dresses Too Short released in England and their love of people like Howlin’ in 1968. The LP included his most sampled Wolf and Muddy Waters.” It was his move away single, ‘Different Strokes’. Johnson’s suggestive from blues to soul that would make him the star grunt, the unrelenting bass line of Reggie Boyd, of Twinight Records. seriously heavy drums of Morris Jennings, and Originally named Twilight Records, the label giggling intro of Minnie Riperton have been was founded in Chicago in 1967. Released on used by more than 40 hip-hop groups. the yellow Twilight Records label in July 1967, “At the time, Minnie Riperton was known as ‘Come on, Sock it to Me’ reached number 12 Andrea Davis and she was one of my background in the Billboard R&B chart. It was the start of singers on that session with Jackie Ross and Johnson’s hugely prolific tenure with the label, Fontella Bass,” says Johnson. “There is that both as a hit maker and producer. From raucous opening line on ‘Different Strokes’ that goes: funk stompers such as ‘Ode to Soul Man’ to ‘Baby you’re laughin’ but I’ll be around for a righteous deep soul ballads such as ‘I Can Take while, yeah, yeah, yeah. Can’t you dig it, honey, Care of Business’, Johnson’s output for the by watching my style now, alright.’ So with those renamed Twinight was as varied as it was fertile. opening words I wanted someone to laugh to go “What I think made Syl’s work for Twinight so along with it. I asked Fontella and she said, ‘No, incredible was that he was self producing all his no, no,’ and I asked Jackie and she said, ‘No.’ But
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Andrea, that’s Minnie, said, ‘I’ll do it.’ So I said to Morris Jennings, ‘Give me a beat on the drum,’ and Minnie did that amazing laugh. Oh my god. The rappers and hip-hop producers just had to have that in their music. They went wild with it. More people have that in their record than any other sample.” ‘Different Strokes’ has been sampled on more than 50 records, including Boogie Down Productions’ ‘Criminal Minded’, NWA’s ‘Real Niggaz Don’t Die’, EPMD’s ‘It’s My Thing’, Whodini’s ‘Funky Beat’, Schoolly D’s ‘Put Your Filas on’, and Tupac’s ‘Nothin’ But Love’. But it wasn’t until 1993 that one of those artists paid up when female Detroit rapper Boss sent Johnson his first small cheque for the sample on ‘Recipe of a Hoe’. This opened the eyes of the singer, who offered anyone in the neighbourhood $100 if they could find a record that sampled ‘Different Strokes’. “Then I met this lawyer called Linda Mensch through my daughter, the singer
Syleena Johnson,” says Johnson. “And she was the one that started to get me paid.” The first of the big artists to pay up were Wu-Tang Clan for ‘Shame on a Nigga’. In Any Way the Wind Blows we see RZA from Wu-Tang Clan told that it was the money from their samples that helped Johnson buy his house in Chicago. “From the very beginning we knew that the film had to have RZA in it otherwise it wouldn’t be finished in our eyes or in other people’s eyes,” says Hatch-Miller. “We spent years trying to find ways to contact him and eventually found him through his cousin Ramsey Jones. At the time he worked at a great record shop on St Mark’s Place [in New York] called Rockit Scientist. I had seen him over the years but didn’t know he was related to RZA. But thanks to a mutual friend we got that interview.” The same year as Dresses Too Short, Johnson released his scorching conscious soul anthem
Promotional portrait for Twinight Records, 1968 Photograph Gilles Petard/Redferns
‘Is it Because I’m Black’. “The dark brown shades of my skin, only add colour to my tears. That splash against my hollow bones, that rocks my soul. Looking back over my false dreams that I once knew. Wondering why my dreams never came true,” he sang. Looking back on the writing of the song, Johnson says, “That’s when they had killed Martin Luther King and all these other things were happening, and that inspired me to write a song like that. At the time King was just trying to get the garbage workers good pay and the racist bigots shot him. And that inspired me to write and sing the song. But it’s not a militant song.” Hatch-Miller has listened to the song hundreds of times during the making of the film. “I don’t think of it as a protest song as such, rather an expression of his raw emotion and an emotional reaction to what was happening in America at the time,” he says. “I’ve actually come
to hear the song as much about his ambition as anything else and the barriers to that. For me it’s about his desire to be successful as an artist and public figure and businessman. So I think it’s as much about black ambition and upward mobility as it is about the sadness of the days. It’s a complex song, very aspirational, much in the same way as 1990s hip-hop was about having the expensive car and all the bling as a way to overcome all the racism they faced.” ‘Is it Because I’m Black’ would also be sampled by a host of hip-hop artists, including Wu-Tang Clan on ‘Hollow Bones’ from 2000. In 1970, it would become the title track on Is it Because I’m Black, an LP of conscious soul every bit as vital as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (released more than a year after) and Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. Alongside the title track sat the ghetto anthems ‘Concrete Reservation’ and ‘I’m Talkin’ ’Bout Freedom’. It would be his last LP for Twinight. Despite a run of singles for Twinight as both singer and producer in the first two years of the 1970s, it was time for Johnson to look for a new label who could really promote him, or so he had hoped. The singer had already worked with the Hi Records rhythm section on his later tracks for Twinight. These sessions came about after Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell had invited Johnson down to Royal Studios in Memphis. “He knew me from back in Chicago when he saw me with my band playing at Club DeLisa,” says the singer. “I should have come to Hi in 1968,” we hear Johnson tell Mitchell’s daughters in Any Way the Wind Blows as he visits the studios where he and Al Green cut all their Hi recordings. According to Lorraine and Yvonne Mitchell, their dad had originally wanted to sign Johnson to become the label’s star singer. When Johnson never came back with an answer to Mitchell’s approach, Hi Records turned their attention to another smoother and more easily promoted singer. “Going there to Memphis we weren’t totally sure how true that story was,” says Hatch-Miller. “So to hear them confirm that it’s really true that Syl was intended to be the first artist
S y l Promotional portrait for Hi Records, 1970s
signed to Hi Records and the person they were going to put all there promotional efforts into, that was really moving. There is a lot of regret there for him.” By the time Johnson arrived at Hi Records, Al Green had already had hits such as ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and ‘Tired of Being Alone’. Johnson would never emerge from Al Green’s shadow despite incredible records like ‘Wind, Blow her Back My Way’, ‘Could I Be Falling in Love’, and ‘Any Way the Wind Blows’. “Al Green had complete control down there and nobody could beat him,” says Johnson. “He took most of the promotion from Hi and got more of the attention in the studio. So I should have stayed with Twinight or gone to Atlantic Records instead with Jerry Wexler.” Despite the lack of commercial success, his Hi releases contained some of the deepest soul to emerge from the south. Recorded with the same rhythm section as those on Al Green’s huge hits, Johnson’s Hi recordings were way more raw, and many would argue more soulful, than those of his more successful label mate. The raw emotion in
Johnson’s vocal range is something that may actually have held the singer back commercially. “He was more gritty than Al Green,” says RZA in Any Way the Wind Blows. “And I think that could have been part of the hindrance.” Despite Johnson calling Willie Mitchell “one of the greatest producers who ever lived”, he thinks it was his Chicago recordings for Twinight rather than his Memphis recordings for Hi Records that were the pinnacle of his career. But for RZA and the many other hip-hop artists to sample his Hi Records catalogue, this period was equally as important. Throughout the Wu Tang catalogue you will find samples from Hi Records including ‘I Hear the Love Chimes’ by RZA on ‘Funky Theme’, ‘Could I Be Falling in Love’ on Raekwon’s ‘Heaven & Hell’ and ‘I Hate I Walked Away’ on Ghostface Killah’s
He was more gritty than Al Green. And I think that could have been a hindrance. RZA, Wu-Tang Clan
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‘We Made it’. “I was just happy that his music was accessible to us,” says RZA in Any Way the Wind Blows. “And we could help him as an artist because I know a lot of artists didn’t get their just dues.” While the money from these Wu Tang samples eventually helped pay for Johnson to build his house in Chicago, back in the mid-1970s he would see little return for his output on Hi Records. While he returned to Hi in 1977 with polished versions of Twinight songs such as ‘Main Squeeze’, more of his attention was now focused on his own small label, Shama. And then in the early 1980s, disillusioned by the music industry, he opened the first of his Solomon’s Fishery outlets. His franchise would expand to eight restaurants, but by the early 1990s he hit a low with the loss of his mother and father as well as brother Mac. It was more than timely when he finally discovered the amount of hip-hop artists sampling his work. He would then start to get the respect he deserved thanks to Numero Group’s weighty compilations and now this revealing documentary. “There have been a lot of up and downs right through the process and there still are,” says Hatch-Miller. “Syl is great but also very unpredictable. There were times we would go to his house in Chicago as we had plans to film with him and he would be in a bad mood and wouldn’t let us in or he wouldn’t even be there. So we had to be persistent. We still go through periods where Syl is upset with us. One day he loves the film and the next day he isn’t so sure or he didn’t like some personal things that are in the film.” It’s been a labour of love for Hatch-Miller for the past six years. “Syl is a very brilliant man and his brain is always going a million miles an hour,” says the director. “So throughout the making of the film we would ask him something and he wouldn’t necessarily answer the question we gave him. But that meant we ended up getting all these different stories we didn’t know about. We had to have patience and to let him be himself and that was difficult and frustrating; but ultimately I think it meant he really comes through in the film.” As such, Any Way the Wind Blows sits in a lineage of raw and honest music documentary films – from The Devil and Daniel Johnston to Beware of Mr Baker. “I think it’s really about who he is rather than us making some sort of hero or enigma out of him,” says Hatch-Miller. “And that is what his friends have said when they have seen the film. They were shocked at how true to him it really is. I think they were expecting something that was either much more sanitised or hagiographic. Rather than us just letting him be this wonderful, crazy individual personality.” The film Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows will be screened at selected film festivals numerogroup.com syljohnsonmovie.com
Lucas wears coat and black sweater by Prada; roll-neck sweater by Philipp Plein.
BAUHAUS Photographs Jon Mortimer Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Hair Nina Butkovich-Budden at N Management using Oribe Make-up Astrid Stebich using Nars Cosmetics Models Lucas Englander, actor spiel-kind.com and Nico Lehmann, student Location Bauhaus School, Gropiusallee 38, 06846 Dessau-RoĂ&#x;lau bauhaus-dessau.de
Nico wears coat by YMC; trousers by APC; top by Fred Perry x Raf Simons; boots by Oliver Spencer. Lucas wears coat and jacket by Marni; trousers by Lou Dalton; shirt by Maison Margiela from Mr Porter; boots by Oliver Spencer; socks by Pantherella.
Lucas wears cardigan by Gucci from Mr Porter; trousers by Pringle of Scotland; sweater by Uniqlo; boots by John Varvatos.
B a u h a u s Nico wears jacket by Lanvin; trousers by Bally; top by Fred Perry x Raf Simons; trainers by Pointer; hat by Prada. Lucas wears jacket and black leather shirt by Yohji Yamamoto; trousers by Caruso; white shirt by Norse Projects; boots by John Varvatos.
B a u h a u s Lucas wears v-neck sweater by
Fred Perry x Nigel Cabourn; trousers by Yohji Yamamoto; roll-neck sweater by Moncler; boots by John Varvatos; socks by Pantherella.
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Fred Perry x Raf Simons; jeans by Leviâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vintage Clothing; roll-neck sweater by John Smedley; boots by John Varvatos.
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Lucas wears coat by DSquared2; trousers by Lou Dalton; sweater by Maison KitsunĂŠ; boots by John Varvatos; hat from Mint Vintage.
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Nico wears suit by Bally; sweater by John Smedley. Lucas wears suit by Issey Miyake; sweater by John Smedley; boots by Oliver Spencer.
Tom PandĂŠ Photographs Mark Mattock Styling William Gilchrist Photographic Assistant Maxwell Anderson Styling Assistant Julia Lurie
Tom PandĂŠ is an interior designer and photographer working in the fashion industry. He has worked for Oliver Spencer at London Collections Men and designed show spaces for the likes of Martine Rose. He recently worked on the design for Ellipse Tokyo. tomographer.co.uk
Jacket by Dior Homme; trousers from Contemporary Wardrobe; boots by Gieves & Hawkes. 106 J &
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Blazer by Emporio Armani; trousers, photographerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own; shirt-jacket by Oliver Spencer; sweater by John Smedley; boots by Gieves & Hawkes.
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Jacket by Caruso; trousers by YMC; top from Contemporary Wardrobe.
Thomas wears coat by E. Tautz; trousers from Rokit; top by Champion; sweater from The Quality Mending Co; hat by Worth & Worth.
GREENPOINT Photographs Takay Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Hair Kenshin Asano at Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Atelier NYC Casting Von Ford vonford.com Photographic Assistants Jimi Franklin, Romek Rasenas and Lloyd Stevie Hair Assistant Kiyo Models Thomas Gibbons, dancer Adam Wallace, musician Hans Singer, filmmaker and stylist
Adam wears coat by Lanvin; trousers by Our Legacy; sweater by Champion; shirt by Dries van Noten; trainers by Converse; jewellery and socks, modelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own.
Hans wears coat, trousers and sweater by Prada; jacket and hat, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own; trainers by Converse.
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Hans wears jacket by YMC; trousers from The Quality Mending Co; sweater by Joseph; T-shirt, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own; trainers by Converse; hat by Worth & Worth.
Adam wears blazers by Caruso; trousers by Our Legacy; top by Le Coq Sportif; trainers by Converse; hat from The Costume Studio.
Hans wears shirt by E. Tautz; vest by Lanvin; scarf and hat, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own. Adam wears jacket by Joseph; trousers by YMC; top from The Quality Mending Co; hat from The Costume Studio.
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Thomas wears jacket by Cmmn Swdn; trousers by Joseph; sweater by Pringle of Scotland; hat by Worth & Worth; belt, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own.
Thomas wears jackets by 3.1 Phillip Lim; trousers by Joseph; trainers by Converse; hat, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own.
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Adam wears jacket from The Quality Mending Co; trousers by YMC; shirt by Hawksmill Denim Co; trainers by Converse; scarf by Acne Studios. Thomas wears coat from The Quality Mending Co; trousers and shirt by Joseph; trainers by Converse.
Adam wears coat by John Varvatos; trousers by Caruso; jacket by Wood Wood; trainers by Converse; jewellery, model’s own; belt, stylist’s own.
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Paradise Garage dancefloor, New York, 1979 Photograph Bill Bernstein ÂŠ 2016 Bill Bernstein from Disco: the Bill Bernstein Photographs (Reel Art Press)
Words Andy Thomas Portrait Mattias Pettersson
LIFE AND DEATH ON THE NEW YORK DANCE FLOOR
A new book by Tim Lawrence on the party scene at the start of the 1980s reveals a countercultural melting pot of remarkable creativity, diversity and cross-pollination.
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“The early 1980s would reveal themselves to be one of the most creatively vibrant and socially dynamic periods in the history of New York,” writes Tim Lawrence in the introduction to his new book Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983. “Those superficially amorphous years contained some kind of coded lesson about creativity, community and democracy in the global city.” Lawrence’s book is the much anticipated follow up to his Love Saves the Day: a History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979, which took its name from David Mancuso’s 1970 Valentine’s party that inspired the Loft, a series of underground dance parties. “Sanity dictated that this book should have told the history of 1980s dance culture in the United States in the same way that my first book Love Saves the Day excavated the 1970s,” writes Lawrence in the preface to Life and Death. But instead of following the mid-decade rise of Chicago house and Detroit techno, Lawrence immersed himself in the countercultural melting pot of 1980 to 1983. Instead of being a mere bridge between 1970s disco and 1980s house and techno, the post-disco, post-punk and hip-hop scenes interacted with each other and became blurred. If there was one figure that epitomised this convergence it was classical cellist turned mutant disco producer Arthur Russell. And prior to Life and Death Lawrence wrote Hold on to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992. Life and Death is drawn from years of research and hundreds of interviews, resulting in an authoritative study of this riotously creative time in New York. In the introduction, Lawrence credits books as disparate as Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and Simon Reynold’s Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. But as he explains, “While these authors capture a slice of the city’s cultural history, their angled approach inevitably slices up an era that was arguably defined by its synergy and interconnectedness.” And it is in studying these intersections of post-punk and post-disco that Lawrence goes deeper, to reveal the true creativity of New York’s counterculture in the early 1980s.
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Love Saves the Day is widely recognised as the most in-depth book on 1970s New York dance culture. How did that project come about? I was supposed to write a history of house music and rave culture. I had been hearing DJs like Louie Vega playing in London and I wanted to experience that every week really. So I went out to New York to study a PhD in English Literature at Columbia University in the autumn of 1994. The dance culture there at clubs like the Sound Factory Bar was just blowing me away. I was having a difficult time as both my parents had died in quite quick succession. So dance culture became very important to me; it gave me a sense of wellbeing, of joy and community. One of my professors, Edward Said, was a really interesting and inspiring guy and he suggested I write a short book about dance music. The idea was to begin in mid-1980s Chicago with the beginnings of house music. At the time, I was going regularly to buy records from Dance Tracks that was run by Stefan Prescott and Joe Claussell.
Tim Lawrence, author of Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 Portrait Mattias Pettersson
Stefan suggested I talk to this guy called David Mancuso who he said was there from the very beginning. I was actually a bit reluctant because at the time I didn’t want to go back to the 1970s.
Was that because you didn’t understand the link with what was happening in New York at the time? I didn’t really want to go back to disco because to me house music was much more interesting. I thought it was an irrefutable advance of what had gone before. Stefan and Joe at Dance Tracks were always trying to sell me disco classics but at the time if it didn’t have an electronic drum on it, I didn’t want to listen to it. Also, quite a few people I spoke to were saying that David Mancuso wasn’t
Jean-Michel Basquiat DJing at Area, New York, 1986 Photograph Johnny Dynell, courtesy of the photographer
with LSD, and experimentation with sound. So it all just presented itself as a great story for me. And I just followed it and as I did so it led into so many different directions.
How long did it take for all the strands to fit together?
really that relevant any more. He was this figure who was into high-end sound systems and didn’t really mix with anyone, he didn’t interact with other DJs, and so he was very much separate from what was going on. The Loft was no longer really happening at the time either, and he was struggling financially. But I thought I would go to meet him.
What was that first meeting like? I went to meet him at an Italian restaurant in the East Village and we spoke for three hours. I thought I knew quite a lot about New York dance culture at that juncture; but I didn’t know anything or hardly understand a single word he said. All the references were new to me; the Record Pool, Nicky Siano, Michael Cappello, Steve D’Acquisto, David Rodriguez, Reade Street, the Tenth Floor. This was all new to me. And I was like, “How come I haven’t heard any of this at all?” Anyway, I carried on writing this book about house music until my editor said I should have at least one chapter on disco. The first three key interviews were with Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries and David Morales. At the end of each interview I would ask them: “By the way, have you heard of this guy called David Mancuso?” And they all gave the same response almost line for line, that David Mancuso was the most important person in their life and that he had introduced them to the social and sonic possibilities of the dancefloor. They all said the Loft was like a birthing place for them. So this was when it got really interesting. Here were the major DJs from house music all saying the same thing and following the same lineage back to the Loft.
What made the story so interesting to you? As I carried on going through the archives it became apparent that the word disco simply wasn’t in circulation before 1974. It hadn’t been conceptualised as a genre, the record companies didn’t know what was going on. So there was this whole period of four or five years when what became known as disco was developing. There was this very young, open and democratic culture that was intertwined with gay liberation, civil rights, experimentation
In some ways, it was quite quick. By the time I got home that night after the interview with David Mancuso there were about 10 messages on my answer machine with people wanting to talk. So I started following up these leads and I knew that it was something really interesting. And all routes seemed to lead back to the Loft. Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan had been absolute diehards there, they had gone to work for Nicky Siano who had based his club the Gallery on the Loft, Michael Brody’s dream was to open an expanded version of the Loft that would become Paradise Garage. Nobody had written about any of this before. This was 1997. I soon realised this was the book I wanted to write and that one on rave culture would have to wait.
was going into production I was thinking, I don’t want to go right into the next book about the 1980s straight away. At one of the Loft parties held for Love Saves the Day, this guy called Steve Knutson from Audika Records was there and he had brought with him the Arthur LP Calling Out of Context to give to David. I had already been fishing around with my editor and publisher about the idea but they didn’t think there was the interest in him. So the Audika record came out, then the one on Soul Jazz Records (The World of Arthur Russell). Then there was a piece by David Toop in The Wire and features in The New York Times and The New Yorker so things really started to move along. Then my editor said, “OK, let’s do it.” So it was an interesting way for me to stay in the same territory of the New York scene but to move sideways.
That leads us into Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor and what you described in the intro as your sideways “crab like approach”. Writing the Arthur Russell book definitely gave me a new way to think about New York at that time. The new book is a continuation of Love Saves the Day and picks up that story, but New York of the 1980s is quite a different place sonically to New York in the 1970s. And it was by spending time on the Arthur book and understanding his legacy that I got a proper tour of the many different corners of the New York music scene and how everything connected.
After Loves Saves the Day you wrote the first book on Arthur Russell. Can you tell me how you came to write it? One of my earliest Anita Sarko DJing at the Mudd Club, New York, 1980 interviewees had been Photograph Scott Morgan, courtesy of the photographer the pioneering Italian American DJ Steve D’Acquisto I understand you were planning for the new who had told me about this crazy, book to focus on the continuation of disco into brilliant guy called Arthur Russell what became house music. who had hung out with Allen The idea of the new book was to take it up to at Ginsberg, recorded with John least 1988 and to be very much about the clubs Hammond and made the most like the Loft, Paradise Garage and the Saint, extraordinary disco, but at the same and then the arrival of house music. But what time recorded beautiful folk songs happened was very quickly, I realised there on the guitar and cello. But at the was this largely forgotten period before the time I thought, how could I write rise of house music and after the death of disco. a story of someone who is so all I initially thought I could deal with this period over the place, doing everything all quite quickly because it didn’t really have a name at once. There was just no lineage and wasn’t being talked about very much at all. trajectory there to hang things on. I thought of it as an interesting period but not But then when Love Saves the Day enough to attract people into it. So I really did
N e w think I would go from the late 1970s into the arrival of house quite quickly, at a similar pace to Love Saves the Day. But I realised there was something else going on and the book couldn’t be just about what happened next with David Mancuso, Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles. It soon became clear that there was so much going on in this early 1980s period, so much mayhem and inventiveness that I needed to step out from what I made my name with in Love Saves the Day. I had to go sideways, as that is the way things were moving at the time.
How did you approach the writing of the book? I realised the story was quite a simple one. The 1970s had thrown up these three genres: disco and associated DJ culture; punk music, which largely germinated in New York; and hip-hop, which broke through at the end of the decade. But by 1980, there has been the backlash to disco, punk has failed to really break through commercially, and most people think rap is going to be over within six months. But it’s actually the start of the new decade and a new moment for music culture in the
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discrete elements together. They were the ones who became most respected and revered. So first, you had the DJs and producers who were mixing by bringing in a diverse range of music, and in that amalgamation they create a higher platform. This was the peak period for the greats like Larry Levan and François Kevorkian in the studio, then you had Arthur Baker and John Robie coming through. And they were all thinking about how they could bring different elements together. And Keith Haring, Grace Jones and Fred ‘Fab Five Freddy’ Brathwaite then you had someone like Arthur at Fun Gallery, New York, 1983 Photograph Ande Whyland, Russell. With Arthur it was all courtesy of the photographer about how many different things could be thrown in to create one record. And So we had this moment when people were this sort of thinking led to records like ‘Go Bang’, starting to ask, “What if ?” When I came to which combines the new wave scene with the write the book I couldn’t decide how to open compositional orchestral scene – it’s got the R&B it. How do you start a book where everything rhythm section, loft jazz style playing, it was is happening at once? What actually happened was, the club I thought I would end up writing least about became the one I wrote most about. And that was the Mudd Club.
Why was the Mudd Club so important?
It was this punk discotheque, and as I started to interview people connected to it they all said the same thing – the punks wanted to dance too. There had been no dancefloor at the other main punk clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. One of the first people I interviewed was a guy called Johnny Dynell who was in a no wave band living above the Mudd Club. He became the DJ there and thought, what is the ultimate punk gesture a DJ can make at this club? He decided it was not to play punk music but to play quite commercial disco music that the punks were meant to hate. And he does this dressed as John Travolta. This was a piece of art really, but Steve Mass and Diego Cortez, Lower East Side, New York, 1978 the reaction was that Photograph Bobby Grossman, courtesy of the photographer all the punks in the Mudd Club started to dance. It was meant to be city. There were these historic a provocation but instead it becomes an invite. It antagonisms between punk and was this moment when people were ready to do disco and hip-hop and disco, but something not pre-written for them to do. This then all of a sudden people started is going on right across New York at the time. to explore what else was going on. Disco had got so precise, so heavily produced that there needed to be a twist if it was going to excite the dancefloors. And Arthur Russell was one of the first to anticipate this with the track ‘Kiss Me Again’, as he brings in all the distortion and asks his vocalist to sing out of key.
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These connections across genres and scenes worked on many different levels. Could you talk about the importance of the “mixers” that you write about in the book? What I ended up concluding about New York in the early 1980s was that the people who came to the fore were those that were mixing previously
all in there. Then you have the party hosts that take mixing to a different level. So places like the Mudd Club, Club 57, closely followed by Danceteria and Pyramid. There you have this approach to party culture that brings in DJing, but on top of that they create venues where this explosion of artistic experimentation and cross pollination can be integrated into the club.
That’s something Chi Chi Valenti talks about in the book, the importance of these clubs as places of experimentation. Yes, so you have the Mudd Club that combines DJs with no wave cinema, an extraordinary range of live performance and amazingly elaborate and immersive happenings where reality is challenged following the philosophy of the situationists. Then at Club 57 you have similar events but much more performance art based, so there are a lot of theatrics often mixed with mushrooms so it’s a little bit giggly and wacky. And that is where Keith Haring starts coming through and starts curating exhibitions. That leads Steve Mass to open his dedicated art
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gallery at the Mudd Club. Then eventually Danceteria opens and it has three floors with one for the DJ, one for live bands, and one for experimental video from the downtown art scene. And the whole idea here was that you have this almost supermarket choice of cultural experience. Wherever you go you will find somewhere new and dynamic and varied. So it was the mixers who were bringing things together and this was all happening in party spaces. This is where things really germinate. It’s the people who run these spaces that help make the connections.
One of the arguments of the book is that rather than being simply hedonistic, party culture in 1980s New York was hugely important both socially and culturally. There are so many levels to this. One of the most important parts to it is that this whole party culture was a place for people that somehow were slightly outcast of society and not comfortable in the mainstream. You can trace it back to David Mancuso who grew up in an orphanage and created the Loft as a place for people who needed a wider family. So there were a lot of gay black and Latino men and women who would go there as a welcoming place as they weren’t able to come out to their families at the time. And this carries on in the 1980s.
Another part to this is the importance during this time of New York as a place of migration for artists, bohemians, hedonists, gay activists and libertarians from across the US. That’s something I didn’t touch on so much in Love Saves the Day but wanted to in this new book, as you see it much more during this period. New York City and particularly downtown became this refuge for what Ann Magnuson calls in the book “suburban refugees”. People who had grown up in all different parts of the United States, quite often in white middle class homes and feel fundamentally alienated by the routine, the conventions, the conservatism, the 9am-5pm clocking in and clocking out, the whole regulated nature of family life. And they
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wanted to turn all this on its head and have something that was far more exploratory, much more exciting and democratic and free. So there was this huge flow of migration to Downtown in the late 1970s that peaked in the early 1980s. These people who want to find new forms of community and sociality are a very important part of this social mix. You mentioned Chi Chi Valenti; she is an iconic Downtown figure, a promoter, performer, and bar woman, a very charismatic scenester. She said they wanted to go to bed when other people were going to work. They would have been out all night putting on events, taking part in some kind of performance, socialising with friends and often funding ways to get more work; get a part in a film, fashion show or whatever. These clubs became hives of activity for this very diverse range of people.
What was the most dramatic development to come out of this socialisation? It was very much about groups coming together who had never met before and what would happen when they exchanged ideas. Up until then if you were a performer you would mix with other performers, sculptors with sculptors, punks with punks and so on. And as the decade progressed and people discovered that they were living in the same buildings with different creative people they started to have conversations with each other. And it was out of this that the multidisciplinary, hybrid collaborations started to come about. But the most extraordinary development was this meeting point of the downtown art punk scene and the South Bronx hip-hop and graffiti scene. That was the most unlikely coming together.
there are all sorts of downtown art celebrities, people like Andy Warhol, so this diverse community are coming together for the first time. Jean-Michel Basquiat is there and at the time he was the co-author of this notorious graffiti tag Samo. Until then nobody realises who Samo was and at the party he reveals it was him and his friend Al Diaz. He becomes very tight with Fred Brathwaite and they start to head to the Mudd Club. And soon they are meeting with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein [of Blondie] and the whole bunch of new wave figures. So they quickly realise this affinity. And so it started with graffiti but then you had people like Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash; they had this same aesthetic of recycling music and working with fragments.
Recycling was also a big thing in London, from the Creative Salvage of Tom Dixon and Ron Arad to the clothes of Chris Nemeth. As with New York this was very much a result of the economics of course. Yes exactly, there wasn’t a lot of money around in New York so
What did these two scenes have in common? At the time, the Fred ‘Fab Five Freddy’ Brathwaite after filming TV Party, 1980 downtown art scene Photograph Bobby Grossman, courtesy of the photographer at clubs like Club 57, Mudd Club and Danceteria had an interest in people were doing the DIY thing cut up, in semiotics, in collage and recycling. out of necessity to begin with. And when they come into contact with the Downtown was pretty down and nascent hip-hop scene they see that their out at the time; it wasn’t anything aesthetic matches very closely with what is like it is today. Canal Street was happening with South Bronx party culture. really cheap, where you could get And the first person to really make something material like foil or whatever you of this overlap is Fred Brathwaite, Fab 5 Freddy, needed to decorate a space or make who is invited to a downtown party by Michael something. And then there was all Holman [filmmaker and founder of the band sorts of stuff being dumped on the Gray with Jean-Michel Basquiat]. He wants the sidewalk so that was being used Fab 5 collective to come downtown to do some as well. You also had buildings live graffiti. So Holman is also a key figure crumbling and falling apart. I mean in realising that there is this parallel energy AM/PM, where François Kevorkian between Uptown and Downtown. At that party was DJ, had great big concrete slabs
Ruza Blue at Danceteria nightclub, New York, 1984 Photograph Rhonda Paster, courtesy of the photographer coming out the wall; but instead of trying to cover that up it was like, how can we turn this into a sculptural installation. And then in the music, as well as with the hip-hop guys, you also saw a DIY aesthetic in disco. That was partly a reaction to the corporatisation that had happened towards the end of the 1970s. Initially disco was extraordinarily earthy and there was rawness to it. But it had reached a point that where there was this disco that was being churned out by the major companies and much of it sounded the same, so there needed to be change. The DIY thing became very important. And you can see that with people like Arthur Russell. He called his label Sleeping Bag – it was saying, “We’re not fancy we’re just roughing it and down and out.” And that was cool.
Sleeping Bag was just one of a number of independent labels alongside Prelude, West End, Tommy Boy, 99 Records etc. How important were they to this scene? With the major corporations gone, it was the independent sector that were connecting to the DJs and so there was an awful lot more openness to what could get released and how it could get released. There was what I call a virtuous self-sufficient economy kicking in where it becomes a regular experience to sell 50,000 copies of a 12-inch single. And that’s an awful lot of copies for an independent record label to sell and for the DJs who did the mixes to be working on. So it was a good moment for everyone involved. It was quite a healthy form of low-level commercial capitalism. The profits were shared and it was very participatory and people really looked out for each other as well.
One of the other interesting intersections was hip-hop and disco. It could be argued that they were never that far apart in the first place. There has always been this historic assumption about people who write about disco or hip-hop
that these were largely separate scenes. What really amazed me as I started to explore this was that guys like Afrika Islam, apprentice of Afrika Bambaataa, and others from that whole Zulu Nation crowd, were going regularly to the Paradise Garage and they loved it. To me that was really interesting. And then all these new wave DJs like Mark Kamins at Danceteria and Justin Strauss from the Ritz, they were gong to the Garage. And then Larry Levan would go to places like the Ritz and go into the DJ booth and watch the bands like Kraftwerk when they played there. So there was all this movement going on that I don’t think anybody has captured before.
Another interesting intersection was with the dub music coming in from Jamaica and England. François Kevorkian was of course one of the key guys with his work with the Prelude label. He starts to take the dub sounds and techniques and uses it as an integral part of the studio mix. It was very dramatic. And then of course Larry Levan with his productions with records like Peech Boys’ ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ was very into dub. Then you had groups like Tom Tom Club going off to record at Compass Point Studios in Nassau. So it was all going on into this heady mix.
You’ve called the book Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor – could you end by talking about the death of this hugely vibrant, cross-pollinating scene?
community was in crisis, everyone seems to know someone who is addicted to crack. Reagan is slashing the money going into the inner cities so poverty is increasing as the drug is tearing through the community. Then hip-hop took a more radical turn and became much harder edged. So with Aids and crack, people on both scenes are generally becoming more defensive, and this whole period where there was openness to hybridity and exploration through meeting different people – that is very hard to sustain.
You end the book by talking about the economic changes in downtown New York in the mid-1980s and the effect on the scene. If you look at Downtown New York today it’s very clean, polished and commercial and of course it’s very expensive to live there. One of the arguments of the book is, if you want to see how it ended up like that you need to go back to 1983. Reagan becomes the first politician to seriously push an agenda of cutting back the state, cutting back taxes and trying to centre things around market competition and the priorities of the individual versus the public and social. By 1983, the free market growth Reagan set in motion starts to come into play in quite a serious way. As well as people being priced out of Downtown, the subsequent gentrification took other forms. The new people moving into the city join the neighbourhood association and start complaining about the Paradise Garage, as they don’t want 3,000 Latin and black gay men on their doorstep. And this became fairly typical, the rise of neighbourhood associations and the pressure they start to put on New York City to more tightly regulate the party scene. So things become less affordable, rents go up and the city becomes a more regulated and repressive place. And all these things conspired to bring this incredibly exciting and creative period to a close. And now of course it’s very hard to pursue your artistic dreams in New York because it’s so expensive – even if there is openness for people to mix and be creative.
The death is kind of complicated and happens in various ways. The Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, most obvious thing was of course 1980-1983 is out on 30 September Aids. It reaches epidemic dukeupress.edu proportions by 1983. Futura and Patti Astor, New York, 1981 Photograph Anita We get to the point Rosenberg, courtesy of the photographer where key figures on the scene are starting to pass away, so there is this great terror and cloud that is hanging over everything. And it wasn’t just in the white gay scene at places like the Saint that this was happening; it was also devastating the East Village art scene. Then in 1984 crack reaches epidemic proportions and so the whole black
Peluqueria, Limones, from the series Peluqueria, Spain, 1979 Photograph Ouka Leele / VU
Words Andy Thomas Translators Lola Llorca and Lucinda Williams
LA MOVIDA The explosion of arts and culture in Madrid in the aftermath of Franco’s death in the 1970s was filled with riotous colour and wild irreverence. Alongside filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and a host of radical musicians, key figures included photographers Ouka Leele and Miguel Trillo, both on show in London this autumn. Bursting out of Madrid following the death of General Franco in 1975, La Movida Madrileña (the Madrilenian scene) was a countercultural eruption that destroyed the outdated taboos and control over expression created by the dictator. “We weren’t a generation; we weren’t an artistic movement; we weren’t a group with a concrete ideology,” La Movida’s best-known figure, filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, famously proclaimed. “We were simply a bunch of people that coincided in one of the most explosive moments in the country.” The director’s 1980 debut film Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Average Girls) became emblematic of the cultural and sexual freedoms of La Movida. Under a fog of marijuana smoke in the area jokingly dubbed ‘Republica Independiente de Malasaña’, at venues such as Rock-Ola (known as ‘Templo de la Movida’), Carolina and El Sol, musicians, filmmakers, artists, photographers, and writers changed the social and cultural landscape of Spain forever. In one of the few books to document this period, Toward a Cultural Archive of la Movida: Back to the Future, William J. Nichols wrote: “La Movida has been loosely understood as the exciting eruption of energy of a society repressed for so long, one that embraced all the previously condemned social taboos, especially those that had to do with drug use and sex… homosexuality or the subversion of traditional gender roles.” With the rise of the right wing and instability across Europe bringing the real threat of another leader like Franco, a timely exhibition at east
London’s Red Gallery will celebrate the explosion of countercultural creativity that was La Movida. Back in the early 1980s, Miguel Trillo captured the urgent vitality of the times through his gritty photographs taken at venues such as Rock-Ola. At the same time, Ouka Leele emerged as La Movida’s most famous art photographer, producing surreal technicolour images that sat perfectly next to the provocative films of Almodóvar. It is Leele and Trillo’s work that provides the backbone to the exhibition, alongside flyers, fanzines and other ephemera. During Franco’s rule, his desire to create a uniform, obedient Spain saw the destruction or banning of cultural items not approved by the regime. “It was like living in a very conservative society without any cultural or political freedom,” says Trillo. “There was censorship of lyrics and rock album covers, as well as political and sexual censorship in films, magazines and newspapers. Catholic priests and nuns had all the moral power.” In his book Remaking Madrid: Culture, Politics, and Identity after Franco, Hamilton Stapell argues that the oppression was felt most strongly in the Spanish capital:
“Because of the desire to impose an official ‘Spanishness’ on Madrid, local cultures and popular traditions were exterminated… [this] left little room for Madrileños to be proud of their city or to identify with one another.” After the death of Franco, King Juan Carlos began the transition to democracy by quickly naming Adolfo Suárez as prime minister. But in 1981, an attempted right-wing coup saw 200 members of the paramilitary civil guard storm the Spanish parliament. Despite the quick crushing of the coup, many wondered if the transition from dictatorship to democracy would last. The tension in the country was heightened by the actions of the Basque separatist group Eta, which led its deadliest campaign in the years 1978 to 1981, with more than 230 people killed. With unemployment hovering around 20 per cent, young people would have been forgiven for looking at the future with much trepidation. But any fear was countered by an optimism and determination by the country’s young people to make the most of the newfound freedoms. “During the Franco era, I was a child and his death coincided with the beginning of my youth, just finishing school,” says Leele. “I experienced a sense of freedom, that anything was possible and that artists had so much to do.” As a young photographer wanting to capture the vitality of the times, Trillo felt similarly liberated. “It was like a torrent of excess energy,” he tells me. “It was like the energy from what was going on in Paris in May 1968 combined with the energy of punk in London in 1977.”
M o v i d a Singer Alaska on set for the cultural TV show The Golden Age, Madrid, 1983 Photograph Miguel Trillo
In 1982, the appointment of the socialist Felipe González Márquez and the first leftist government (the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) since the Second Republic in the 1930s finally brought the democratic change that the transition had promised. An old firebrand political activist of the 1960s and ’70s, his reforms, such as the partial legalisation of abortion, were a sign to Spanish youth that real change was happening. It was in Madrid that this change was felt most strongly, thanks to the progressive policies of a new mayor. The first left-wing mayor of Madrid for over four decades, Enrique Tierno Galván worked with the socialist prime minister to promote a liberal and progressive España Moderna. He believed the social and creative freedoms of La Movida to be one important element to the new Spain. “During his term of office, the council projected La Movida Madrileña both as a cultural movement as well as a tourist attraction of the city,” says Carlos Entrena, who was in the best-known band of Madrid’s dark wave, Décima Víctima. “Working hours became more permissive and nightlife became very lively.” Immediately breaking with the cultural conservatism and homogeny created by Franco, Galván’s relaxed policies around sex, drugs and youthful self-expression helped create the environment for La Movida to flourish. Just starting out as a photographer at the time, Leele recalls the sense of freedom for artists like herself living in Madrid: “For me it was beautiful, it was like going from grey to colour. It was a real
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explosion of freedom and life that enveloped us all. What I experienced was that suddenly the art and culture were free from politics.” But she is less convinced about Galván’s importance to the movement. “He was a mayor who let things happen for sure. But honestly, the culture was a result of all us coming together,” she says. “As much as politicians might have wanted change, if there hadn’t been artists working for the change nothing would have happened.” It was from the world of music that the first reverberations of La Movida would be felt. While Almodóvar has become the best-known figure in the movement, it was a Mexican-born Cuban émigré by the name of Alaska who would become the queen of La Movida. With a group of friends she met at El Rastro flea market in Madrid, she formed Spain’s first punk band, Kaka de Luxe, in 1977. “She was an icon,” says Trillo. “Her group in those years were very important to La Movida. She also had a big influence on me as Alaska and her keyboard player Ana Curra inspired me to make really good portraits in those years.” The group released their first self-titled EP in 1978 on the Chapa Discos label. Renamed Alaska y los Pegamoides in 1979, they were soon joined by a torrent of other like-minded bands. Looking to London’s new wave and Germany’s Neue Deutsche Welle for inspiration, they rejected the traditional models of Spanish rock that had dominated in the previous two decades. “The biggest difference is that pop and rock before
was based on blues and rock’n’roll, and the new music distanced itself from these influences,” says Entrena. “Punk showed us that you didn’t have to be a skilled musician to make interesting music. The English and German new wave was exciting as this music was new and there had been nothing like it before in Spain. Culturally there was widespread euphoria, everything was filled with colour and the external new wave encompassed this.” On 9 February 1980, a handful of groups including Paraíso (formed by Kaka De Luxe’s Fernando Márquez), Nacha Pop, Tos, Mermelada and Mamá played a concert at Madrid’s Escuela de Caminos in tribute to Canito, a drummer from the group Tos (later to become Los Secretos) who died in a road accident. “Many groups who played there later went on to become symbols of La Movida,” says Trillo, who took his first series of photographs of La Movida at this concert. “I had already taken photos in 1978 at one of Kaka de Luxe’s concerts but they were isolated photos,” he says. “Now at this concert, I was aware that we were experiencing a musical effervescence that I had
never seen before. It was a new audience.” Other musicians there that night were similarly inspired, including future members of Mecano and Radio Futura. “They were one of my favourite groups of La Movida,” says Trillo. “Their singer, Santiago Auserón, had a lot of charisma and I really liked his image and songs.” Radio Futura expressed the positivity of the times in the their sparkling new wave hit ‘Enamorado de la Moda Juvenil’ (In Love with Young People’s Fashion), with the lyric “el futuro ya está aquí” – the future is already here. The venue that became most associated with La Movida was Rock-Ola, where Trillo took his most famous photographs. “There was a great freedom there,” he says. “There was freedom to take photos anywhere in the room, so the stage, dressing rooms and toilets. Their owners put up graffiti relating to May 1968 that read ‘Forbidden to forbid’. This quote had a different meaning to the variety of young people: modernists, rockers, punks, those who liked techno music, goths, everyone.” Rock-Ola was only one of many live music spaces where the new bands could perform. “First there was El Escalón and El Teatro Martín, where the majority of the Spanish groups from La Movida were first put on the map,” says Entrena. “Carolina was another hall and El Sol was also very important. There was also El Quadrophenia, the Golden Village and the Garden.” While the music of the groups who performed at these venues veered from new wave and synth pop to rockabilly and ska, what the first groups of La Movida shared was a vibrant pop aesthetic (what one musician at the time called “pogo, plastic and bright colours”) that blew away the years of darkness for an alternative future. The same could be said for the debut film of Almodóvar. Pepi, Luci, Bom had grown from a story called General Erections, which Almodóvar had written for the influential Barcelona comic El Vibora. “It had to be punky, very aggressive, dirty and funny,” the director recalled in the book Almodóvar on Almodóvar. Released in October 1980, the film revolves around a group of friends who plot revenge when a policeman who has spotted marijuana plants growing in Pepi’s window rapes her. The film features a masochistic housewife, drag queens, golden showers, oral sex, menstruating dolls, an outrageous punk band led by Bom (played by Alaska) and a penis size contest called “General Erections”. It was an outrageously camp, vulgar and provocative debut that made Almodóvar a natural successor to John Waters and Paul Morrissey. “My sensibility was as amoral and playful,” the director explained in Almodóvar on Almodóvar. “Pepi, Luci, Bom helped express in concrete form my relationship to pop, a style I’d always felt close to.” The twisted pop aesthetic of his debut would become one of the defining features of La Movida. As the director alluded to at an event in 2008 to celebrate La Movida, Pepi, Luci, Bom – and the trio of films that followed from 1982 to 1984, Labyrinth of Passion (in which Ouka Leele appeared), Dark Habits and What Have I Done to Deserve This – could never have been made just a
It was like the energy from what was going on in Paris 1968 combined with the energy of punk in London in 1977. few years before: “By paying tribute to the early 1980s culture of Madrid, to our music, our aesthetics, our unquenchable thirst for pleasure and fun, I wanted to remind them [the audience] that we were paying tribute to Spain’s access to liberty and democracy.” Scenes from Pepi, Luci, Bom were shot at Calle de la Palma 14, in the vibrant heart of Madrid’s Malasaña district. The home of a painter couple known as Los Costos (Juan Carrero and Enrique Naya), it was one of the main meeting places for the protagonists of La Movida. Here figures such as Alaska, Almodóvar and Fabio McNamara (who plays drag queen Roxy in Pepi, Luci, Bom and performed with Almodóvar in a high camp musical duo) would share ideas and party with other creative Madrileños. It was a hedonistic atmosphere captured wonderfully in the film, whose themes of female independence and solidarity appealed to another attendee at Los Costos, Ouka Leele. Leele was born Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma in Madrid in 1957. “Ever since I was very young, I have devoted my life to art,” she says. “My first inspiration was simply life, the scenes I saw around me and then drew. I started to go to the Prado museum and that inspired my painting. But then I was also taking a lot in from advertising, television and what was happening on the street.” Initially wanting to be a painter, she took up photography in her late teens. “My friend said he knew a photography school called the Photocentro, so I went
to have a look and loved it and signed up to do a course. In that school they made me question my dedication to drawing and painting: arts they considered obsolete. That was where my unique photography began, images with almost no references… spontaneous and pure, almost adolescent and hallucinogenic.” She was soon to publish her first pictures in black and white in the specialist magazine Nueva Lente, as well as the book Principio. But it was Leele’s experimental work in colour after joining the Cascorro Factory that made her name. The collective was founded in 1976 by cartoonist Ceesepe and Alberto García-Alix, the most famous photographer to emerge from La Movida. “We believed in community life and we thought utopians were able to change the world. But utopia is a nice place to live,” says Leele. “We learned a lot from each other, shared knowledge and everything we had.” Like the original musical pioneers of La Movida, the Cascorro Factory initially looked abroad for their inspiration, publishing pirated versions of American underground comics that they sold
‘The Punk’, and accessories designer Pati at El Rastro, Madrid, 1983 Photograph Miguel Trillo
L a at Madrid’s El Rastro flea market, another important meeting place for La Movida. It was there that Ceesepe (who went on to draw the gloriously gaudy cartoon for Pepi, Luci, Bom) was introduced to the painter José Alfonso Morera Ortiz, better known as El Hortelano. The two collaborated on a series of covers for the Barcelona comic Star. Meeting other members of the Cascorro Factory at El Rastro, Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma named herself Ouka Leele after a Still from Pepi, Luci, Bom y name that appeared in Otras Chicas del Montón, a painting by El directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Hortelano. “My first 1980 Courtesy of the BFI works were signed with the name Barbara, my birth name,” she tells me. “But I was looking for a name under which to hide, a stamp, a brand if you like. El Hortelano had made a drawing and the stars in the black sky had names and one of them was Ouka Leele. My idea was that nobody really knew who Ouka Leele was, whether man or woman, young or old, Japanese or African.” It was through Star magazine that she would get her big break and begin to create the unique style she became famous for. Asked to create a colour photograph for its front cover in already had very intense colours and when I put 1978, she turned to a technique from the early them on the glossy surface of the photo they were 1900s, colouring the black and white photographs like stained glass enamels,” she says. “It was a very she had taken with intense watercolours. “At the shocking result. They are very surreal but also I time, I used to take all my pictures in black and think there is some classicism there, even a touch white,” she says. “I had my own laboratory in of Leonardo in these images. And at the same time Barcelona but could not do colour because it was a very psychedelic colour. There are also hints of very expensive. Star had asked me to do the cover advertising and of course there is humour. It’s a very in colour so I thought, what do I do? I found the interesting cocktail.” solution and that was to take the black and white Leele’s hyper-vivid, surreal art photography could pictures and paint them. So that is how it all be read as a metaphor for emerging from the drab started. Playboy magazine and Penthouse also Franco years towards a bright new future, and she then gave me work. It’s amazing that my most had a strong connection with other figures from emblematic photos of ‘El Beso’ and ‘Escuela de La Movida. “The musicians like Alaska made the Romanos’, of a man reading the newspaper with soundtrack for our lives,” she says. “We fell in love a red leg over the head, were produced by Penthouse. dancing to those songs. And Almodóvar told what Creative directors at the time were really creative was happening in La Movida with grace and and open.” genius. In Labyrinth of Passion my Peluquería The most striking of all her wildly surreal work photos are featured. At the time, we saw each other was the Peluquería (hairdressing) series from 1979. a lot. We all fitted in and you could be mystical or “That was amazing,” she says. “Friends of mine, frivolous. There were no classes or distinctions on most especially artists, Mariscal, Nazario, Peret, ideas or ages.” Living together in a flat in the Retiro Ceesepe, El Hortelano, posed with objects on their district of Madrid, Leele, El Hortelano and Ceesepe heads [including luridly coloured lemons, wine would gather with Alberto García-Alix and other glasses, tortoises, an aeroplane and a bright red figures of La Movida at hangouts such as La Vía octopus] and that experience was wonderful, there Láctea, El Sol and Rock-Ola. were many moments of laughter.” So how did she Some of the most revolutionary and provocative achieve such vivid colours? “The watercolours work of El Hortelano and Ceesepe were published
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We went from grey to colour. It was a real explosion of freedom and life that enveloped us all. Suddenly art and culture were free from politics.
in comics such as Madrid’s Madriz and El Vibora in Barcelona, the heart of Spain’s comic scene. “El Vibora found a wide audience through a crude portrayal,” wrote Pedro Pérez del Solar in an essay in Toward a Cultural Archive of La Movida. “Of street themes directly from the underground – the creation of a group of recognisable characters… a dark humour that pierced everything including violence and sex.” Ceesepe’s work for El Vibora focused on his Black Angels series of street figures that would appear in the opening credits of Pepi, Luci, Bom. His cartoons for El Vibora were deliberately provocative to the Spanish establishment and Catholic church. “The cover of El Vibora 12 presents a rock star with moustache, earring and halo, surrounded by fans – all of them nude young girls – while holding a microphone/phallus in his hand,” wrote Pérez del Solar. Madriz and El Vibora were joined by magazines such as La Luna de Madrid and Madrid Me Mata in a new wave of
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independent publishing born from the street. This included a whole range of fanzines with ties to La Movida. Soon all three artists, El Hortelano, Ceesepe and Leele, would move from the incendiary world of underground comics into the galleries. This included their group exhibition Modelos Para una Fiesta at the Ovidio gallery in Madrid. “It was very fast,” says Leele. “It was through La Movida that I became known all over the world. During the 1980s, articles were written and I did interviews in the international press.” While Leele and her co-conspirators moved into the commercial world, many of the bands that had emerged from La Movida sought autonomy through their own independent labels. One of the most important of these imprints was 3 Cipreses, founded by Eduardo Benavente, the drummer from Alaska y los Pegamoides. With fellow Alaska member Nacho Canut, Benavente formed Parálisis Permanente in 1981. They released dark wave/gothic music (what became known as the “siniestro” sound) inspired by groups such as Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees. “The colouristic pop of groups like Los Secretos, Nacha Pop and Los Zombies started to go out of fashion, being substituted by dark groups that identified themselves with rather sinister names: Gabinete Caligari, Parálisis Permanente, Décima Víctima, Derribos Arias,” says Trillo. The debut single on 3 Cipreses was by Gabinete Caligari. One of the most famous of all the bands associated with La Movida, their lead singer, Jaime Urrutia, had been in the influential pop band Ejecutivos Agresivos founded by Carlos Entrena. In 1981, after Ejecutivos Agresivos split up, Entrena formed Décima Víctima.
Punk band Decadence outside Rock-Ola, Madrid, 1982 Photograph Miguel Trillo
Entrena and his group set up one of Madrid’s other most influential labels, Grabaciones Accidentales. “The record companies in Spain remained outdated and based only on business,” says Entrena. “I was very disappointed in my experience with a standard record label in Ejecutivos Agresivos. So we did our research and found out that it was not so difficult to make small editions of your own records.” The DIY spirit of these independents made them the natural successor to labels such as Rough Trade in the UK. “The recordings were made on a budget,” says Entrena. “Everything was prepared in advance and if Flyer for Miguel Trillo’s exhibition Photocopies, Galeria Amadís, problems arose they Madrid, 1983 were resolved on the fly. We were completely involved in the entire process, which gave us a lot of pride.” As with the other independent labels that emerged in Spain in the early 1980s, Grabaciones Accidentales showed the different corners of La Movida – from the post-punk of Derribos Arias to the rockabilly pop of Los Coyotes.
Today La Movida has more relevance than ever, a reminder of previous fights for freedom in a Europe veering again to the right. 140 J &
In 1982, the photographs Trillo had taken of bands from La Movida were exhibited in a show called Pop Purri. It was the first time the new musical underground had been exposed to a broader audience. “That was very important for a photographer, exhibiting your work in the same environment as that of a painter or sculptor,” he says. “The gallery was called Ovidio and it was the most modern and state of the art in Madrid. I exhibited coloured photos of the concerts between 1980 and 1981 of the pop and techno groups from Madrid. It was my photo diary as a live follower of the new Madrilenian wave.” By 1984, La Movida had infiltrated mainstream Spain. TV show La Bola de Cristal, the idea of Spanish writer Dolores Rico Oliver (Lolo Rico), became essential viewing for kids and their curious parents. Aired on the public channel TVE, this irreverent show was a world away from previous TV shows aimed at Spain’s younger generation. It was hosted by a gothic-looking Alaska who revelled in the anarchy around her. Slogans against authority and political satires were mixed with freaky puppet shows and performances by bands from La Movida in a show that would leave a lasting imprint in the consciousness of young Spain. And today, more than 30 years on, La Movida has more relevance than ever, the explosion of colour and irreverence a reminder of the previous fights for freedom in a Europe veering again to the right. When Jonathan Anderson, creative director at Spanish fashion brand Loewe, was seeking inspiration for his new collection he selected works from Leele’s Peluquería series. The exhibition La Movida Madrileña 1975/1985 is at Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, London, EC2 from 9-27 November redgallerylondon.com The film season In Almodóvar’s Words… is at the BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 until 5 October bfi.org.uk
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P R O J E C T
Ensign x Harris Tweed
played a key role in defining the music and culture of the late 20th century, from his early days with Andy Warhol to managing the Ramones, from running a career-changing interview with the Beatles as editor of a teen magazine to signing the Stooges and the MC5 and working with the likes of Nico, the Doors and Tim Buckley. Portrait Janette Beckman Words Chris May Photographs courtesy of Danny Fields
Fields outside the apartment building of the late Ramones’ graphic designer Arturo Vega, where members of the band stayed during the 1970s, Lower East Side, New York
In a new documentary about the New York journalist, author, band manager and publicist Danny Fields, Iggy Pop tells the camera: “Danny is a connector. Like a fuel injector in a car. He brings all the elements together for an extreme explosion.” Fields arrived in Manhattan from Harvard Law School in 1960 and became part of the scene at Andy Warhol’s arts hothouse, the Factory. He went on to pursue parallel careers – if that is the right word to describe decades of letting good taste and music alone steer him – in rock journalism and the music business. During the mid to late 1960s, Fields was a publicity cum A&R man at Elektra Records, where he worked with the Doors, Nico and Tim Buckley. He got the Stooges and the MC5 signed with a single phone call to label president Jac Holzman before Holzman had even heard of them, let alone their music. He did publicity for the Velvet Underground and wrote the liner notes for the band’s album Live at Max’s Kansas City. At the same time Fields held down the editor’s chair at US teen magazine Datebook, where he published the fateful interview in which John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, igniting a
coast-to-coast furore. A decade later he was manager of the Ramones, while also co-editor at another magazine, 16, the market-leading title for young girls. The Ramones namechecked Fields on their track ‘Danny Says’, which is also the title of the upcoming documentary by Brendan Toller. Since parting company with the Ramones in 1980, Fields has concentrated on writing and photography. His latest book is My Ramones, a collection of 250 photographs he took of the band while he was managing them. He has a legendarily huge archive of memorabilia, which was recently acquired by Yale University. Fields’ other books include Dream On, the biography of Warhol actress Cyrinda Foxe, who went on to marry Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and a biography of his friend, Linda McCartney: a Portrait, which was turned into a TV mini-series by CBS. For seven years he had a nationally syndicated US radio show called Rock Today. Fields has been round the block. He is a warm, outgoing, self-deprecating, erudite and engaging man with many stories to tell. We meet at his Airbnb lodging in London, which he is visiting to speak at a symposium about punk. J &
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Fields and the Ramones at graphic designer Arturo Vega’s loft, New York, 1970s Photograph Arturo Vega Before you moved into music journalism and the record business, you went to Harvard Law School. What led you there? I went to Harvard because I thought it was the place where all the cutest boys went. It was like Brideshead Revisited after three years at university in Pennsylvania. Plus the Ivy League generally was an excuse to drink a lot. But I didn’t even finish the first year.
What happened? I got bored with studying law, I was too busy drinking and fucking and shoplifting and loving life. I was charging a lot at clothes stores. I’d run up about $5,000 of bills in a frenzy of enjoying J. Press. That was a lot of money in 1960, and my father was not happy about paying it after what he considered was a wasted year. I didn’t think it was a wasted year, I thought it was the beginning of my life. So I enrolled in a business school in New York and took a room in a shabby hotel near Washington Square in Greenwich Village. I didn’t want to study business; I just needed an excuse to live in Manhattan.
And pretty soon you hooked up with Andy Warhol and the Factory crowd. Everybody just gravitated to certain bars in the Village. My best friend from Harvard was a brilliant classicist named Donald Lyons. He was a great scholar and later taught James Joyce’s Ulysses to the Patti Smith band. He crossed worlds and was a friend of [filmmaker] Paul Morrissey, who was part of Andy’s scene. And then the Factory and the Harvard people just started to crossbreed. Andy loved Harvard people for the same reason I did – they were beautiful and classy and rich and smart. I had an apartment which had room for people to sleep on the floor and one weekend Edie Sedgwick came to town with the very beautiful Tommy Goodwin, who was the most loved boy in all of Harvard. He said, “This is Edie Sedgwick and she can’t go to her grandmother’s and can you put her up as well?” She stayed for about a month. Then Andy discovered her. We were all just mixing and melding. Nico was invented at a party of mine in 1963.
There was an open door at the Factory. The message was: welcome to all strange, brilliant oddballs. We have this immense space on East 47th Street where you can come and nothing is asked of you. You just got off the elevator and walked in. If you thought you belonged, you belonged. But if you didn’t belong you’d encounter a force stronger than the teeth of a vicious hound dog, a vibration of unwelcomeness.
People say that New York then must have seemed like living in a golden age. I wouldn’t say that. You just woke up every day and thought, do I pay the rent or do I get laid, which party should I go to… or which party was I not invited to? It was just life. But I suppose we didn’t mind being picked out as the epicentre of coolness and glamour and beauty and art.
You gravitated to rock journalism pretty fast, didn’t you? I learnt about magazines working in production at Liquor Store and Outdoor Advertiser magazines. Then in 1966 I got a job with teen title Datebook. I was sitting around with my cool, artistic friends, who were all achieving something, and suddenly I had the power of the press and could start writing about them. The artists who were coming out with their first albums around 1966 were astonishing. Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, Tim Buckley, the Incredible String Band, the Beach Boys and, with Aftermath, the start of the great Stones albums. It was like the creation of the universe, it was the big bang in every dimension. And you know what else was important? This was music being made by a generation of middle class white people. This was not the case before. You had Motown, which was genius, perfection, brilliant, heaven on earth, but it was hard for a middle class white guy to be part of that. Then you had boys like the Byrds, whose fathers headed patrician families, or the Airplane’s Grace Slick, who went to boarding school with Richard Nixon’s daughters. You had middle class, smart, stylish, cool kids with no way to go but rock’n’roll, who were not going to be dentists or go into the family business and who put out these astonishing records. There was an explosion of possibility. It was the first time in history that middle class kids made a musical universe. It may sound offensive now, but we really felt elite.
How did you transition from Outdoor Advertiser to Datebook? I had learned how to put out a magazine and what typesetting is, what advertisers do and the production side of it, and I saw a classified ad which said, “Expanding teen pop magazine seeks editor/knowledge of pop scene required.” I thought they meant pop art – in the US then the word generally indicated the visual arts – and I was hanging out at the Factory. So OK. When I got to the interview I found out they were talking about pop music. I got a second interview though. So for the first time ever I bought [music-industry trade magazine] Billboard and took a lot of amphetamines and memorised an entire issue. And I got the job, which I didn’t deserve. I had no idea how to edit a magazine.
But you knew enough to run the interview where John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus – which caused outrage across the US. Our publisher would go to England a lot. In 1966, he bought the rights to publish Maureen Cleave’s two interviews with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, which the Evening Standard had run some months before to little comment. And I wanted to do something a little bold and
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There was an open door at the Factory. The message was: welcome to all strange, brilliant oddballs. Nico, London, 1974 Photograph Danny Fields
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Fields, Iggy Pop, Lisa Robinson and David Bowie, New York, 1976 Photograph Leee Black Childers Fields and Wayne County, New York, 1970s Photograph Anton Perich
brazen to distinguish Datebook from 16 magazine, which was the bestseller in the field. Anyway, in this interview, Paul, who was supportive of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, had said, “It’s a lousy country where anyone black is a dirty nigger.” And I put that quote on the cover. Deeper in the interview was this famous quote by John saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. I thought, “This is fun and no one went to jail when it came out in London.” But it caused what was literally a fire storm. People were summoned to gather at the local Jesus church and throw everything to do with the Beatles into a big bonfire. It was like the Nazi book burnings in Germany all over again. It spread like a contagion through the Bible belt – these are not quite evolved human beings and we have a huge population of them in America. Now they’re supporting Donald Trump. A third of the population are assholes. If you ask Americans how long did it take for the universe to be created, 33 per cent will say six days. And if you ask whether a woman who will die if she has a baby can have an abortion, 33 per cent will say no. Pick out the moron-asshole questions and you will get a solid 33 per cent
giving a terrible, anti-human answer. Always. The magazine came out while the Beatles were doing the most heavily attended tour of America they had done. And they flew into Memphis and were greeted by about 15,000 members of the Klu Klux Klan and similar assholes. Death threats followed. They called the Beatles devil worshippers and stirred people up to hate them. I think the long hair had a lot to do with it, that some men felt threatened by what they saw as the feminisation of their daughters’ boyfriends. For them, this Jesus thing proved they were right – “First the hair, now this.” The atmosphere became toxic – you heard a car backfire during a soundcheck and you thought it was gunfire, a sniper. Jesus people are very good at death threats; no one’s as good at hate as the Jesus people. Without being melodramatic, at the end of that tour the Beatles did the last concert they ever played. Was the Datebook story part of it? To an extent, I think, yes it was. Getting death threats is not the reason you start a band. You start a band to get laid or you like music.
What led to you joining Elektra Records as their press person? Just before the Doors had their first hit [‘Light My Fire’, 1967], I’d done a little informal publicity for them when they came to New York to play some gigs. I got a call from Nina Holzman, the wife of Elektra president Jac Holzman, who had become a friend of mine, and she said, “Jac would like you to come and start a publicity department.” And though I wasn’t an A&R man, I soon started to behave like one. I was musing one day with Jac, who lived in the Village too, and I said, “Elektra used to put out those records of Germanic beer-drinking songs. Why don’t we put out one about pot?” He thought it was a good idea but we didn’t know what to put on it. Then one day I was walking through Washington Square and I heard a street singer, David Peel, singing “I like marijuana”. So I got Jac to come down and see this guy. Jac said, “If we can record this live,” by which he meant cheap, “let’s do it.” And they did. Peel [and his group the Lower East Side] recorded the album Have a Marijuana for $1,500 and it sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
What’s the origin of that phrase? No one then referred to having “a marijuana”. They had a joint or a number. The thing is David had a bit of a speech impediment and people misheard some words in the lyrics. Time magazine covered an anti-war
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Linda McCartney working on her first photography book, London, circa 1974 Photograph Paul McCartney demonstration and wrote about protestors who “stormed into Grand Central Station” and “someone singing ‘have a marijuana’ – and the phrase jumped off the page. I said to Jac, “There’s the title of the album.”
You say you weren’t an A&R man, but you got Holzman to sign the MC5 and the Stooges without hearing either of them. The set up at Elektra wasn’t hierarchical like at a traditional record company, or like a fashion magazine with fiefdoms and envies and jealousies and looking over your shoulder. It was a group of friends, a bunch of Jewish guys who found ourselves in the rock’n’roll business. Like in 1968, I brought Nico to Jac. She brought her harmonium and sat on the floor of his office and Jac heard, through the fog of Nicodom, that there was an unmistakable lyrical, poetic, melodic brilliance there. He said, “Get me John Cale on the phone.” So John and Nico did The Marble Index. It’s the only album amongst all the ones I was associated with that I can proudly say would not have happened if I hadn’t got the ball rolling.
Where does the title The Marble Index come from? Nico got the title from a book of poetry at my house, which was Wordsworth contemplating a bust of Isaac Newton at Cambridge University. English wasn’t her
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first language, or even her second language, but she had a thing about English and she loved the phrase “the marble index”.
I read somewhere that while you were at Elektra, you tried to pair Nico up with Jim Morrison. It’s true. It was extremely presumptious of me. Who the fuck did I think I was to interfere with the sex lives of these people? I was on a short visit to Los Angeles for Elektra and had seen the Doors at the Fillmore in San Francisco and I went backstage and there were all these trashy groupies around. And I didn’t think that was suitable for this new poet-god, Jim Morrison, who we were inventing. But I thought Nico would be a perfect partner. So I got Jim to come over and visit me at the Castle on Glendower Avenue [in the Hollywood Hills] where Nico and Edie Sedgwick were putting me up. It had been built in the 1920s. The Velvets had stayed there – the owner rented it to rock bands. It was shabby and mock-pretentious, with over-grown vegetation and a slime-filled pool. But it was at the top of a hill and had amazing views of the Los Angeles basin to the south. The meeting was a nightmare, a disaster. Jim consumed an enormous amount of acid and mescaline – I always travelled with the psychedelics of the era – and drank a lot of vodka and ended up walking naked round the roof parapet, the crenelated part that was meant
to look like a castle. And Nico was down in the courtyard and sobbing and bursting into my bedroom saying, “He’s trying to kill me.” But she always loved him and they did indeed belong together. Jim was so completely out of it that day. I thought, “If he gets in his car and it falls off the hill, I will lose my job.” So I took the keys out of the ignition and put them under the floor mat. It was tantamount to kidnapping. This is the Hollywood Hills, it was extremely isolated and there weren’t any landline phones in the house. And great stars and poets don’t like to be kidnapped by some underling from the record company. From then on he put in a request to have me fired every week.
What’s the story behind the MC5 and Stooges signings? Journalists and columnists who I knew who’d gone to cover the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, where there were a lot of street demonstrations, told me about the MC5, who played as part of the protests. So I flew to Detroit to hear them, this rebellious rock’n’roll band living in a
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commune with printing presses in the basement and copies of Mao’s Little Red Book everywhere and a minister of defence who walked around with a rifle. I heard them and they were singing about tearing down the walls and kicking out the jams. “Rock’n’roll and fucking in the streets” was their mantra. They were exactly the sort of band you would want to sign. It was a no brainer. Wayne Kramer, the guitarist with the MC5, said to me the night after I’d heard them, “If you like us, you’re really going to like our baby brother band, the Stooges.” He said, “They’re playing this afternoon right across the street.” I heard them before I saw them, as I was coming into the building. And I thought, “This is it, this is the Wagner of rock’n’roll music.” And then I got in the auditorium and I saw Iggy. So the next day I called the wonderful Jac Holzman in New York, and I said, “Guess what, I saw two bands, one is kind of on the way up and they attract thousands of people, the other one is going to need a bit of work.” He said, “See if the big band will take $20,000 and the other band $5,000.” This is 1968, so multiply those figures by 10 at least. They were both signed. And they were eventually both fired – as I reminded Jac when Elektra celebrated its 60th anniversary with the line “We brought you the MC5 and the Stooges”.
Did you have much to do with Tim Buckley at Elektra? He was one of the artists who first attracted me to the label. A genius. We became good friends. Fucking heroin.
Did you ever do heroin yourself? I snorted it a couple of times. I thought it was nice enough, everything felt pleasant, but I wasn’t dying to do it again. But years later I did do it again and that time I almost died, because it was like a hundred times stronger. This was snorting it, not shooting it up.
Then in 1975 the Ramones came along, at the same time you started at 16 magazine. I always had two gigs. I started off on 16 as an assistant editor. At the same time I was writing a weekly column about rock’n’roll and gossip at Soho Weekly News, a sort of alternative Village Voice. The Ramones very much wanted to get a plug in the column. They kept on ringing and saying how great they were, “better than Television or Patti Smith”, who were two of my big favourites. They said, “We hate their music, we’re playing rock’n’roll, come and see us.” But if someone wants you so much, you think they can’t be very good or they wouldn’t be so needful. A friend of mine, we divided up all these bands that were pressuring us. She was the editor of Rock Scene magazine. And the Ramones were, like, “Why can’t we be in Rock Scene like the New York Dolls?’ So we divided the supplicants up, thinking maybe we can eliminate the wannabes. My friend went to see the Ramones and she rang
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Fields and Fran Lebowitz at the Grammy Awards after party at the Four Seasons Hotel, New York, 1979
Fields photographing the Ramones for their album Road to Ruin, New York, 1978
‘Rock’n’roll and fucking in the streets’ was their mantra. They were exactly the sort of band you wanted to sign.
Fields and the MC5, Upper East Side, New York, 1968 Photograph Stephen Paley
Alice Cooper, Fire Island, New York, 1970s Photograph Danny Fields me the next morning and said, “You will love this band, they’re cute, they all dress alike, their songs are really short and have good tunes, and they never stop.” So I went to see them and everything was right. They presented to me as perfection. After the show, they said, “Will you write about us now?” This is on the sidewalk outside CBGBs. And I said, “I will not only write about you, but I think I want to manage you.” [The Ramones told Fields that, if he could get them a new drum kit, they would let him manage them. He could and they did.]
In July 1976, you bought the Ramones to London for the first time, just when punk was exploding here.
Edie Sedgwick, Connecticut, 1960s
We did a gig at Dingwalls and I remember Paul Simonon of the Clash sitting in the dressing room and saying, “Wow, look at the lines of people queuing to get in. We can’t even get work, I guess we’re just going to have keep practising and getting better at it.” And Johnny Ramone said, “Wait till you hear us. We can’t play, we stink – you just have to rock, give people a show.” Joe Strummer said of that night, “You couldn’t slide a cigarette paper between any two of the [Ramones’] songs.” I think that gig showed musicians here the possibilities. You could be untutored, forget virtuosity, forget having sold records, just do it.
Why did you part company with the Ramones? They parted company with me. After five years, the contract was coming up for renewal and they thought it was time for new management. They wanted hits and though we all believed they had hits, they didn’t get them. Seymour Stein [of Sire Records] thought they had hits, or he wouldn’t have signed them. I thought they had hits, or I wouldn’t have managed them. Everyone thought they had hits except American radio.
Did you feel betrayed when they said they wanted new management?
No. I kind of felt, “Hey, you’re right.” By then the band had three voting members – Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee. Johnny voted to stay with me and [co-manager] Linda Stein, and it was really his band, so his vote softened it a lot. Also, honestly, I’d had enough of them, five years is an awful long time with one act. Though if I had stayed I would be a millionaire, because Joey and Johnny were millionaires by the time they died so tragically young. But what matters is that in the few years left to them, they were rich from things they had achieved together. Mainly from ‘Hey Ho Let’s Go’ being blasted out at every football stadium in the world. When that happens, whoever owns the publishing just sits there and watches the money pouring in. Plus, they were drawing audiences of 60,000 to 100,000 in South America. But mainly they became millionaires from these 10-second abstractions from their song.
What did you do next? How did you keep the wolf from the door after the Ramones? I carried on with journalism and writing books and doing photography. For seven years, I did a syndicated show for US radio, Rock Today. I did 2,000 interviews for that. The thing to do there was to try and make them cry.
Who did you make cry? Ian McCulloch was the best crier. It was after he’d split from Echo and the Bunnymen. He really felt it. It was so sad, I almost cried with him. And people who had become sober, it was pretty easy to get them to cry, cos they’d go to AA meetings and bawl and cry because the whole point was to be a drama queen and get everyone crying along with you as part of your recovery. I’ve just carried on dabbling. The film Danny Says: a Documentary on the Life and Times of Danny Fields is out in selected cinemas from 30 September dannysaysfilm.com Danny Fields’ book My Ramones is out now firstthirdbooks.com
ANGLEPOISE LAMP BY GEORGE CARWARDINE, 1932 â&#x20AC;&#x153;An enduring classic of British design, manufactured by the Terry company that specialised in making springs, and designed by George Carwardine. It has gone through stylistic modifications over the years, put to work on the flight deck of Second World War bombers, and restyled by Kenneth Grange. But it defined the adjustable desk lamp in a way that has never been bettered.â&#x20AC;?
The Design Museum
is about to open its spectacular new home in the former Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street, west London. Its director, Deyan Sudjic, shares his ideas about what design means now and the future of the museum. Words Chris May Photographs Kevin Davies
Deyan Sudjic is about to complete the boldest step in the Design Museum’s 27-year history. The institution has closed the doors of its building at Shad Thames, south of the river near Tower Bridge, and will reopen in November across town in west London. As the prevailing movement in London’s creative and entertainment sectors is firmly eastward, moving west brings risks. The museum receives little public funding and has to rely in large part on ticket sales and corporate sponsorship, and the new building’s size means it will need to get many more feet through the door to prosper. The Design Museum currently attracts around 200,000 visitors a year; in Kensington, the target will be 650,000. What has so far been revealed of the new museum, however, bodes well. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful, housed in a building that is set to become
a destination in its own right. The former Commonwealth Institute, a Grade II listed building opened in 1962, has been vacant for more than a decade. The design team for the new project was led by British architect John Pawson, whose work is renowned for its minimalist integrity. In Pawson’s transformation, the original structure’s distinctive spatial quality has been retained, including a vast central atrium surrounded by viewing galleries. Sudjic, a celebrated design critic, was appointed director of the Design Museum in 2006. He originally planned to be an architect but got waylaid by journalism and writing
books. In 1970, in his mid-teens, he was one of the contributors to the notorious “schoolkids” issue of Oz, Britain’s most flamboyant, acid-drenched underground magazine. The editors’ prosecution at the Old Bailey for obscenity was a cause célèbre and helped usher in more enlightened legislation. Sudjic went on to become design and architecture critic of The Observer newspaper. In 1983 he co-founded the architecture and design magazine Blueprint. He was the director of Glasgow’s UK City of Architecture and Design programme in 1999 and director of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2002. We meet at the Design Museum’s closed Shad Thames building to discuss Sudjic’s views on design and architecture in the 21st century, the history of the institution and the reasons for the move to west London. J &
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Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum
When did you first become aware of design? As a schoolboy growing up in west London. Design seemed to be something that could make my bedroom look different, me look different and life look different. The first object I acquired and appreciated for its design was an Instamatic 100 camera, made by Kodak and designed by Kenneth Grange. Shortly afterwards I bought an Anglepoise lamp. Plus I was always going to be an architect, from very early on, so I was looking at the design and construction of buildings from that point.
How do you define design today? Design is schizophrenic. It’s both a manipulative exercise in manufacturing want and a moral crusade. Design to me is asking questions about the world. It’s a way to understand the world around us. It’s a reflection of our values, it’s about what things mean to us, how they work. It can be seen as being about taste, though personally I don’t see it as that.
There’s a long tradition of design in Britain, from Henry Cole, who was the man who persuaded Prince Albert to stage the Great Exhibition [in 1851, the first international exhibition of manufactured objects] and commissioned Joseph Paxton to make the Crystal Palace. Cole started his first museum, the Museum of Manufactures, in Marlborough House [in St James’s, central London]. It was meant to be full of instructive objects to show students and manufacturers how to make objects that would compete more effectively. And he also had an exhibit which he called False Principles in Design – in other words, bad design – which he had the grace to admit was the most popular part of the museum.
Would you agree that successful design can be as uplifting as an oil painting by one of the old masters? Design used to be called commercial art to distinguish it from “real” art. And the history
of design has always had this polarity between its role of making products appealing and the ideas of William Morris, who was a believer in social change – a feminist, an anti-colonialist, a revolutionary socialist and a wallpaper designer, which is an unusual mixture. Those two poles still shape the parameters of how we investigate design. The idea that design is somehow a moral thing was certainly in the mind of Morris, who was in many ways one of the originators of design in Britain, and the same idea informed the Design Council, which was set up in the closing days of the Second World War. At one stage, the Design Council thought that good design was something that you could attach a black and white triangle award to as an
Design is a way to understand the world around us. It’s a reflection of our values, it’s about what things mean to us. 154 J &
HOT BERTAA KETTLE FOR ALESSI BY PHILIPPE STARCK, 1989
“Alessi turned his company into a hotbed of experimentation, challenging designers of all kinds to design consumer products. Starck came up with the Juicy Salif orange squeezer that is still in production. But he was also responsible for the Hot Bertaa, living proof that he comes from a culture that does not boil water in a kettle to make tea. It looks more like a scaled down version of one of his architectural projects rather than a domestic object.”
WIND-UP RADIO BY TREVOR BAYLIS, 1991
“The wind-up radio provides an interesting debate about the nature of design. Is the designer of the object Trevor Baylis, who usually calls himself an inventor, the man that made the most of a hand crank system to generate enough electricity to power the radio? Or is it the industrial designer who shaped the form and look of the radio?”
endorsement, and that there was something morally reprehensible about appliqué wheatsheaf patterns on the sides of toasters or log-effect electric fires. Design is interesting and relevant because it keeps evolving and
adapting to changes in circumstances. It’s about creating something that didn’t previously exist, so it tends to be optimistic. It’s about ideas. In the time since the Design Museum opened in Shad Thames in 1989 design has become less and less about material objects, because we actually have fewer of them. It’s about what
happens on screens and about how we design processes as well as things. In 2013, we gave an award to the government website, gov.uk. A very elegant piece of work. It’s the front door to getting a passport or registering to vote, getting married, renewing tax on your car. It’s the way that government communicates with Britain
Unless you can communicate what a design is over the telephone, you haven’t fully designed something.
T h e and it’s simple, very easy to navigate, and saves a lot of money – to use it doesn’t cost anything. But I sympathise with the idea that unless you know how to make something you can’t really design it. The Italian designer Vico Magistretti once said that unless you can communicate what a design is over the telephone, you haven’t fully designed something.
Is the popular perception of design different today than it was in 1951 during the Festival of Britain, which was intended to point design and the country in a new direction? Yes. The Festival of Britain was this moment of escape from postwar austerity. It was the creation of Hugh Casson and a group of well-meaning designers who he selected.
ERICSSON ERICOFON TELEPHONE BY RALPH LYSELL, 1941. “In
the early days of telephones, Ericsson made a Bakelite model, an object that the user never owned but rented from the government, a piece of communications equipment. Lysell’s was one of the first attempts to challenge the basic assumptions of the telephone.”
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Whether it reflected a wider world beyond that of the readers of the New Statesman is another question. During the war there was the utility issue. Rationing meant that there was standard clothing, there were standard ranges of furniture, and the government used leading designers to work on those. And maybe it created in the public mind the idea that “good design” and “good taste” were somehow associated with deprivation, and so as soon as they had the chance to react against that they chose the least well-designed things they possibly could, as an assertion of good times.
Are there certain inviolable principles that are prerequisites of “good design”? Certainly not. That view has little relevance to our times. I’m not comfortable with the notion of “good design”. Many people have tried to define what “good design” is. It’s an idea apparently rooted in logic and utility. But the function of a chair designed to sell for £1,000 is rather different from the function of a chair designed to sell for £50. A table designed to sign a peace treaty on is rather different from a table to have breakfast on. So there is no single formula. Human beings have always tried to find order in nature, ever since Plato started talking about ideal forms. But I don’t think it’s a very useful debate. Function is too complicated a subject to have one answer to a problem. If the function of a chair is to be sat on, all chairs would look the same. So there must be more to it. The reason, perhaps, that people get quite enthusiastic about chairs is because they do seem to reflect a personality. There’s something anthropomorphic about chairs. They have legs, they’re symmetrical, they seem to engage us. They’re quite good ways of cementing an aesthetic approach, they reflect the architecture of the room they’re in, they’re in dialogue with it. And they last, they hang around a lot longer than a smartphone does, which might have the life of a year and that’s not got a great deal of satisfaction for a designer. If you actually design something that has lasting qualities, it makes a very different impact on your ego.
So mechanical functionality is not the sole principle of successful design? What is functionality? Jewellery, for instance, which some people might not ascribe functionality to, is full of function. It’s about status, it’s about marking out the important aspects of life – continuity, marriage, death, all sorts of things. Why do we use certain materials? Gold has certain associations, silver has others. It’s based on observation in the same way that dress is. Jackets that button from left to right or right to left are signals of gender. Dress is also designed to reflect all kinds of religious convictions. It’s all part of using material objects to send signals. And while a Cadillac with gigantic tailfins is clearly wasteful and foolish
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and might be dangerous, it is nonetheless quite appealing. I got into some debate when we acquired a Kalashnikov for the museum. On one level it fulfils most of the criteria that might have been on people’s list of what made good design. It’s reliable, it’s simple, it’s easy to use, it’s robust, it doesn’t date, and I guess if it’s used to kill fascists it’s… On the other hand, Kalashnikov himself towards the end of his life started to consult a priest about the negative aspects of his creation.
If there’s no such thing as “good design”, is there such a thing as “bad design”? Bad design is design which doesn’t fulfil its objectives.
I read a contribution you made to the debate about Rafael Viñoly’s “walkie talkie” building at 20 Fenchurch Street, which is routinely described as “bad design”. You argued against the easy option of demolition. Ideas about the qualities of things do change with time. I still can’t get over the fact that Centrepoint is now a listed building. It was commissioned in 1962, a moment in architecture that was uniformly despised until very recently. But now mid-20th-century modern is becoming the new Victoriana. Just at the point when it’s almost too late to save something it has become viewed very differently. I’m not saying that’s going to be true of the Viñoly building, but who knows?
In what ways has the rise of algorithms and artificial intelligence impacted on design? Most technological change has produced schizophrenic responses. On the one hand, as the world has become less and less material people are fascinated by thingness. So it is fascinating that while music has disappeared into the digital ether people are also still fascinated by vinyl pressings. Digital has transformed the way people communicate, but people still like physical magazines that have the authority of ink on paper. Manufacturing is concentrated in China and yet people [here] are fascinated by customising things. Maker workshops are more popular
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than ever. Our job at the Design Museum is not to greet every development as marvellous and wonderful, but to ask if it’s a good idea. At Kodak’s height, it probably employed about 80,000 people. When Google bought Instagram – which you could say was doing something similar to Kodak – it had probably 12 people working for it.
How has digitalisation affected our relationship with physical objects? My father gave me his typewriter, which I used. People were given watches when they turned 21. They inherited cameras. Those items showed the passage of time, they were battered. I had a Nikon 35mm camera once that had black casing, but as time went by the black chipped away and there was brass underneath, and I thought that made it look better. But now, of course, there’s not much point in bequeathing your laptop to your children, and your smartphone starts looking disgusting after about six months. We used to use objects to carry our memories, but now memories are kept on server farms.
And as the world gets faster, cycles in design speeded up. Absolutely. These cycles happen really quickly now. It took probably 50 years for the telephone to go from a working prototype to mass acceptance, and probably 10 years for the fax machine. But the tablet computer took about six months.
We have the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). Why do we need the Design Museum? The Design Museum began as a project inside the V&A. Terence Conran, when he floated the Habitat group, had the resources to put something back into the world, and he wanted to remind the V&A that it had its roots in Henry Cole, as a museum about the present and the future. By the 1980s it had become something very different. A wonderful, exquisite museum for the decorative arts, with Raphael cartoons and ancient Korean vases. But for 50 years it had actually bought nothing from the 20th century and wasn’t interested in cars or computers. So the Boilerhouse was established within the V&A, run by the first director of
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the Design Museum, Stephen Bayley, which did for the time shocking things like Issey Miyake clothes or national identity through design, really fascinating stuff. And that is where the museum had its roots. After three successful years, the decision was taken to come here, to create a distinctive identity. Terence’s original idea about transforming the way the V&A thinks about itself has worked. It’s a very different museum now. But the Design Museum is very different. We are not custodians of four million objects in a permanent collection. Our role is to be light on our feet, more responsive, focused on the future – rather than having contemporary design as one strand in a very large and complicated organisation. Our role is to be relevant and our success is judged on the quality of our ideas and the way that we communicate them. We’re looking for design which has something to say about life. At the new museum, for the first time we’ll offer free admission to the central part of the building, which will be used to display our permanent collection – which is not a chronology or a greatest hits, it’s trying to explore the subject from the perspective of the designer and also the maker and the user. We choose things to narrate that perspective, to make sense in those terms. So it will look at objects as small as a spoon and as large as a piece of architecture. It will look at how fashion cycles work, agents of change, social aspects of design, and also the way it’s used in industry and business. We’re trying to give an introduction to all those multiple meanings.
Moving to the site of the old Commonwealth Institute seems appropriate given the increased awareness now given to design from beyond Britain and continental Europe. The world has become smaller and more industrialised. For example, if one looks at Japan, for half the 20th century, the country was seen as the source of cheap copies of westernmade goods. Then in the 1970s, Sony, Miyake, Comme des Garçons and Nissan suddenly became exporters of ideas. And that’s obviously now happening to China, India, Latin America. By looking at the world through the perspective of design you see where activity is taking place. Usually it begins by somewhere else importing western talent – architects, designers – and next it starts transmitting in the other direction, which is a really interesting process.
You must be conscious that the museum’s change of location westward is contrary to the prevailing eastward shift in London’s cultural sectors? One of our trustees, John Hegarty, from the advertising world, said that you need to zig rather than zag. Kensington High Street was the place that produced Biba, Mr Freedom, Kensington Market, Bus Stop. In the 1960s it was a very, very interesting place. And before
that, in the 19th century, it’s where successful artists lived and had studios. You could say it was the Hoxton of its day. So going to Kensington High Street is appealing to the local authority because it’s a chance to revitalise this street, which has actually lost that sense of being interesting. And we’re near the other museums, and the Royal College of Art. It’s an interesting place to go. I was hired with a brief to grow the museum and initially we were offered a site behind the Turbine Hall at the Tate, and we spent a year exploring that as a possibility. But in the end we thought it was perhaps the most expensive option and also, while it would be nice to have the five million people who go to the Tate each year marching past our front door, would they actually stop and come in? We looked at a site near City Hall, we looked at King’s Cross, we looked at going back to the V&A. But in the end, the Commonwealth Institute seemed like a mixture of positive things. There’s a sense of bringing a landmark back to life and financially it was quite appealing. Personally, it was fascinating to go back to a building that I remember as a school boy as being a wonderfully optimistic space. When I saw it again, I was very sad. It had the smell of failure about it. The Commonwealth moved out around 1998 or 1999, and for a while it was used as a temporary event space and then it closed because it wasn’t working financially. It’s been unused for at least 15 years. To bring that back to life is personally satisfying.
Nonetheless, given the museum’s reliance on its own ability to raise funds, westward-ho is a bold move. The amount of government grant we receive can only be viewed with a microscope. Our operating budget in Kensington will be £11 million a year.
Only £150,000 of that comes from public finance. The vast majority of our budget is money we raise ourselves, which comes from various strands including ticket sales and corporate sponsorship. Our fundraising target for the new building is £48 million plus £7 million as a financial reserve. So far we’ve raised about £46 million. We designed the building to be something which can sustain itself. So ticket sales will be important, and we’ll have two shops, a restaurant, an event space, learning spaces. I wouldn’t be averse
to having more government support, but there’s a lot to be said for living on your commercial sustainability and being directly in touch with your audience. Because it only works if they come. The Design Museum reopens at 224-238, Kensington High Street, London W8 on 24 November. Opening exhibitions include Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World and Designs of the Year 2016 designmuseum.org
We used to use objects to carry our memories, but now memories are kept on server farms.
APPLE IMAC BY JONATHAN IVE, 1998.
“This machine set Apple on course to becoming the world’s most valuable company when Steve Jobs returned to the business after having been forced out. Jonathan Ive proposed an entirely new language for desktop computers, still shaped by the need to accommodate a bulky cathode ray tube. Instead of bland beige, Ive suggested a range of citrus fruit colours, which as Jobs once suggested looked good enough to lick.”
Anna wears coat from The Vintage Showroom; hat, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own.
Photographs Mark Mattock Styling and Casting Harris Elliott Hair Stefano Mazzoleni using Bumble and Bumble Make-up Marie Bruce using Pai Skincare and Becca Cosmetics Production Karlmond Tang Photographic Assistant Maxwell Anderson Styling Assistants Leila Afghan and Devon Greene Models Emily Fiander, model; Helen Humphrey, student; Luka Joy, student; Zakia Sewell, DJ, singer, radio host and model at Camilla Arthur Casting; Anna Winter, student; and Rae Wu, artist and jeweller xxwuxx.com
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Rae wears overalls by Maison KitsunĂŠ; hat by Zoe Sherwood.
Emily wears shirt by Tourne de Transmission; hat by Art Comes First; bracelet on hat by Michelle Lowe-Holder.
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Emily wears jacket and hat from
The Vintage Showroom.
Helen wears jacket and shirt by Marcelo Burlon; hat from The Vintage Showroom menswear.
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Luka wears coat by Tourne de Transmission; jacket, modelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own; hat, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own; bracelet on shoulder by Michelle Lowe-Holder.
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Zakia wears jacket from The Vintage Showroom; hat by CA4LA x Harris Elliott.
Helen wears jacket by Christopher Raeburn; hair braids, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own.
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Anna wears sweater from The Vintage Showroom; hat and belt,
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Rae wears jacket by Tourne de Transmission; hat from The Vintage Showroom; scarf by Rampley & Co.
Emily wears overalls by Wood Wood; hat by CA4LA x Harris Elliott; scarf by Rampley & Co.
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Rae wears vest from The Vintage Showroom; top by Issey Miyake; hat by Stetson; bracelet on vest by Michelle Lowe-Holder.
Sal Abbatiello at his home in Westchester County, New York
Portrait Janette Beckman Words Mark Webster Archive material courtesy of Sal Abbatiello
The Real Get Down
Sal Abbatiello – the man at the heart of the music scene depicted in The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s new TV series set in the Bronx in the 1970s – tells his story.
Always seductive, always an adventure, New York City has nevertheless not always been an easy place to visit or live. In 2002, The New York Times reminded the world of this when it published an article asking “How Close Was New York City to Bankruptcy in 1975?” The piece went on to state: “So close that the city’s lawyers were in State Supreme Court filing a bankruptcy petition. So close that police cars were mobilised to serve the papers on the banks. So close that aides to Mayor Abraham D. Beame had a written statement announcing the default along with an emergency effort to save the city’s dwindling cash for vital services like police and fire protection. That close.” That may all seem pretty implausible now, but this was a period that included a bail out for the city led by the teachers’ union using their own pension fund, risking losing it all in the process; an attempt to salvage the situation by pushing up bus and subway fares; cutting jobs and wages for city workers; and a 24-hour blackout that spawned rioting and looting. All of which saw a million people leave the city in the decade. If you did dare to visit, you might have picked up a leaflet at the airport entitled ‘Welcome to Fear City – a Survival Guide for Visitors to New York City’. So that was the Big Apple then. And its own bad apple was the Bronx – the impoverished borough that began life as the farmland of Swedish immigrant Jonas Bronck, who had arrived when the city was just beginning its long and lurid life as
New Amsterdam. But as has happened many times throughout history, out of adversity came opportunity. And that bubbling cauldron of creativity that was the Bronx in the mid-1970s has inspired filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s latest project – a Netflix musical drama series on the birth of hip-hop, The Get Down. To get an insight into the real deal, I travelled out to a pristine New York suburb to the home of the man who was at the very heart and soul of it all back then, Sal Abbatiello. Abbatiello was so integral to this period, he even got to play himself in the 1985 film Krush Groove, based on the early days of hip-hop label Def Jam Recordings. His own pioneering nightclub Disco Fever was featured as the film’s fictitious venue. Abbatiello is still a busy man. His small office – overseen by White Boy, a DJ and road manager for the dance/pop group the Cover Girls, which Abbatiello formed in 1986 – is a bustling monument to decades of promoting, managing and running his own label, Fever Records, with old school hip-hop shows and events still filling the calendar for months in advance. Nowadays, the dark hair is slicked back in the style of Robert de Niro in Casino and Goodfellas, perhaps not surprising given his family history. This is the man who was once at the epicentre of a cultural revolution, and his story, as he recounts it to me, still has the capacity to move him to tears: “My family, we’re all from the Bronx. My grandfather, he came from Italy. He met my grandmother here, who had also emigrated, and they got married. And they raised their children on Washington Avenue in the Bronx. They opened a grocery store. Then my uncle came from Italy, and he had the butcher’s store next door. And then another uncle had a candy store. He was also Sal, a good guy, he ran block parties. But he was a drinker. Ended up passing away at 51. But he was a real neighbourhood guy. He was poor, always struggling, even back then. So when he died my father, who was going to be an
architect, had to help with the grocery store. But that gave him the opportunity to open up a bar a block from there. They needed more income, and he didn’t want to sell groceries anyway. Unfortunately, first night of opening, there was a fire. Burned the whole place down. So they had to borrow money from the mob, got caught in that mess. My mum had to work there, and my sister. And it was a black, urban neighbourhood now. Ours was the last white family to stay. So I grew up around black people. My mum would take me to work so I’d be in the bar in the afternoons – I had 10 black uncles. And Chubby Checker was out. I remember doing the twist to the record on the jukebox. It was a nice R&B place. And we’d have people over for Thanksgiving. They’d get to eat Italian. We got to try soul food. I didn’t see any prejudice until I was in second grade. At school there was only one black kid there. We became friends and I took him home to my house one day where we had a little makeshift pool, and we played in it. And next day we woke up, and the pool was all broke up and it had “nigger lover” sprayed on it. I remember crying. I was like eight or nine. By the time I got to high school, my father had gone into business with a black gentleman, who had a bar down the block, called Jake. They had been taking business from each other, so they got together and said, “Why don’t we open a place together?” That was 1969, and they wound up going up town to 169th Street and Jerome, and they opened up a place called Pepper-n-Salt. A high class lounge. Everybody wore a tux. They had jazz nights, crab nights. A very upscale place. I was about 16 and I would go in there and help my father get the place ready. But then he put me in there at night too, at 17, as a waiter. I didn’t know a thing about liquor. By the time I’m 18 though, I’m a bartender at our new place on Burnside, Sugar and Spice. It’s an Italian Mafia Top 40 place, band behind the bar. [The actor] Chazz Palminteri was in a band there – good basketball player – and Joe Pesci was too.
“THE MERCHANT” STYLE NO. 8061 - 8062
MADE IN RED WING, MN, USA
T h e And Frank Vincent, from The Sopranos. Plus all the gangsters. Served them at night. Read about them in the papers in the morning. These were strange times for me. I become a navy reserve, I don’t know what made me do it. And I’m going back and forth, working weekends. But it did mean I could buy a new Buick. Loved it. But I took it to work one night, and they’d stolen my hubcaps. And I got shot by some other Italian kids protecting some people from around my neighbourhood. Just a regular couple. I beat up this kid. They got me in an alley. Later, I end up handling that situation. We opened a lumberyard business after I got shot. And I’m still at the bars at night. Only problem is, I wake up at two in the afternoon, the yard shuts at four. Everyone was stealing all the lumber in the morning. So dad finds a place down the block from Pepper-n-Salt. At 167th and Jerome. About six blocks from Yankee Stadium. And he loves building places. Designing them. My uncles are physically building it. And we’re trying to come up with a name for this new joint. One night, my mother’s watching the John Travolta movie and she says, “Why don’t you call it Disco Fever?” I was like, “Nah,” but then it was like, OK good name, because it became instrumental to what we went on to do. So on New Year’s Eve 1976, we open it. And I ask my father if I could try something on a Sunday. So we’re putting on R&B and disco like Harold Melvin, Teddy Pendergrass, Taste of Honey, Lou Rawls, Archie Bell, Sister Sledge – all this great music. But no one believed these bands would come. To the Bronx? Nah. So we didn’t do that well. And all my black uncles are patting me on the head and saying, “Ah well, nice job, kid.” But then after a few months of these nights, this DJ would take over from the regular house guy, and his DJ name was Sweet G – George Godfrey. And he’d get on like 3.30am or 4am, because we used to stay open till six in the morning. The law was till four, but in the Bronx in those years, no one bothered you. I’m listening to him rhyming over the music and talking to the crowd. And back then, no DJ had a mic in the booth. It was just about blending records, keeping the dancefloor flowing. Now this is my first sighting of what was called rap. That’s for me, I mean by that. Because it’s on the street already. But not nightclubs. [Kool DJ] Herc was the first to do it in these community centres. Teenagers, like 13 to 18. And he could do that. He was a big dude. Very muscular. A real presence. Had their respect. And these kids are doing it at home, too. So Kurtis [Blow] is there. [Grandmaster] Flash is there. Spoonie Gee. Treacherous Three. Fearless Four. So this birth is happening and building steam out there, but nobody wanted to deal with the teenagers. You had the gangs. Nightclubs didn’t want that. So I say to George, “What is this you’re doing?” Because I’m thinking, oh my god, this is going to
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DJ Hollywood, Kurtis Blow, Bam Bam and Abbatiello receiving the first certified gold rap record for Blow’s single ‘The Breaks’
Flyer for Disco Fever, New York, 1983
Abbatiello and film director Michael Shultz outside Disco Fever, New York, 1985 be huge because the whole crowd is acting as one person in the club. A doctor, a lawyer, a hooker, a pimp, a school teacher... and there’s this DJ, and he is the same as us. Now, there was another club all the way across town called 371 on the eastside, but they were getting all the hustlers, where we had the average R&B crowd. But they did have DJ Hollywood, and he’s rapping. And he’s becoming a huge celebrity. He was arriving in a limo. Wearing a tux. Two or three shows a night, making $1,500 a night back then in 1976 and 1977. But that wasn’t us. So I ask George – who was a great music programmer, but not great as that kind of DJ, “Where can I see more of this?” So George and me go out onto the streets, and I see Lovebug Starski, Disco Wiz. All these original hip-hop DJs that were fantastic. But one name keeps coming up: Grandmaster Flash. So I go to my father and say we’ve got to bring in MCing for a night. And he and his friends are like, “Nah, nah, they’re not singing, they’re speaking, they’re scratching on the records. They’re not playing the whole record out. It ain’t real music.” I say, “Give me a Tuesday. You’re closed Tuesday.” I get the Tuesday.
Now I get to go to Flash and I say to him, “I’m going to make you a star.” And he’s like, “How’s that? Some white boy coming into my neighbourhood?” And I say, “Well, it’s my neighbourhood, too. I just didn’t leave. Let me put you on where people can see you.” So Flash says, “OK, but I’ve got five MCs.” And we’re only charging a dollar to get in and a dollar a drink. So I say, “Let’s try a night and see if it works? I’ll give you $50 to DJ, and them $50 to MC.” Next, I make up a paper flyer and get it out to all the 18 year olds in the parks and we get to the night, and what happens? Seven hundred people show up. There’s me, one bar tender, Sweet G and Flash running the whole place. And one bouncer on the door collecting a dollar. I’m on the pay phone to the other bars we have: “Hurry up, send help.” And we had wild kids, gang members, crews from different neighbourhoods, but everyone was good, because they were excited. It was a real club. With a real sound system. And with their guy Grandmaster Flash. So now we’re expanding the space out the back. We’re going seven nights. I’m reaching out to Lovebug Starski. Eddie Cheeba. Kurtis Blow, he got started at the Fever, I helped get him his record deal. We became real good friends, I was best man at his wedding. Russell Simmons, he brings Run-DMC along. We had an open mic night with Flash DJing. Kool Moe Dee did it. Treacherous Three. All way before they made records. Now I’ve become the owner of this club that is like the YMCA of the Bronx. There’s high school kids running loose out there because their parents were either holding down two/three jobs or were drug addicts. And I’m still only 25/26. And white
I say to Grandmaster Flash, ‘I’m going to make you a star.’ And he’s like, ‘How’s that? Some white boy coming into my neighbourhood?’
Disco Fever flyer, New York, 1981 people weren’t liked in that neighbourhood. With all the racism. And the cops. I got that from them too, because of the Fever. They’d stop me every night. I’d be out the car, they’d search it. Search me. But then I had to deal with the drug dealers too. Get a rapport with them. And I also had to tie in to the community. So I thought, what am I going to do with teenagers who had been abused by white people all these years? The only ones they knew were those in authority. What am I going to do to get to these kids? So I thought, I’m going to give them sport, music and education. Education the third, through the other two. It was going to be tough, but I had the stamina and the patience to work through it. So I started the United Negro College Fund. Had a telethon, raised money. I’m writing letters to parole officers. I’m putting on shows in prisons.
Set of the film Krush Groove, with Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and Run-DMC, 1985
We rebuilt the local park too. And there were gangsters in there. Drug dealers. They’d wrecked everything. So I went in with my crew and it took us three weeks. We’re physically having fights with these dealers – throwing them down, beating them up – and they finally left. So we had a fundraiser. Run-DMC helped. And we renovated the whole park, started a youth association right there – so the kids could come skating, do their homework. Then it’s 1978/79 and things go up again because ‘Rapper’s Delight’ comes out. I take it to the local radio station, KTU, because Carlos De Jesus is a DJ there, and he’s at the club all the time. And I tell him, “Look, we play this record at the club six times a night.” And he says, “Well they won’t let me play rap on the radio,” but he tries it once and it becomes the most requested record in the station’s history. So now the music is on record, on the radio, and the Fever’s getting famous. We’ve gone from 300 to 1,200 people because we’re picking up stores below us, around us because everything’s abandoned, for rent. And now I’m hiring more people, but only people without a job. People who didn’t have skills. Every bouncer was straight out of Attica [prison]. And now the kids who once stood in line are getting 30 recording artists from the Bronx, Queens, Harlem, all at the same time. It’s their club. And in 1979, I start the Fever basketball league. I’d hire buses, take people to games. I’m on the team. Customers, bouncers, I’d let them all stay at the club, sleeping all over the floor because the games would be like 10 in the morning. So you’d go to Brooklyn, play a team. Their wives might be there, their girlfriends. There’d be 150 of us. But the first game was Sugar Hill Records versus the Fever, over on a court in Harlem. And I advertised it on my friend Mr Magic’s radio station – I’d helped him get it started with sponsorship money for some ad slots – so he was advertising it, and brought the sound to the park on the day, some rappers.
We don’t know who’s showing up. Three thousand people show up for this one. One of the best nights of my life ever. Because this became a real big turning point for me, for the way that I was looked at in the community. What people didn’t know is that I could play, and I went off. I came off the bench, we’re losing, minutes to go, and I hit the last 13 points, including the winning shot on the buzzer. I’m getting lifted up, carried around. And now the people are telling the staunchest black guys in the neighbourhood, “He’s Italian, he’s not white.” But the reason I say all this is because it was important to me that I did it the right way. It’s like why I didn’t get involved in making records in the early days, because I didn’t want to do anything where I could be seen to be ripping people off. I wanted to do everything I could for people who’d had this hardship, and this anger in them that society had put there. And do you know what, we had 10 great years. By 1983, there were like 180 people working for me. Same year Russell [Simmons] finally talked me into starting Fever Records. Open all week long. Three thousand nights of hip-hop. But then came the horrible fire at Happy Land, an unlicensed club in the Bronx. And 87 people died that night. So the fire department and the city just went crazy. So just as we’re applying for licences so that they can shoot Krush Groove here, they have to go to the community board to get the OK. And after all that time, they denied us a cabaret licence. So we closed, and when that happened there was a trickle effect. All those people that were coming into the area didn’t come any more. All those jobs were lost. It killed all the stores in the neighbourhood. We had the choice to try and open up again, but we knew we couldn’t get the licence, and we knew we’d just be shut down again anyway. I just locked up the doors, and I walked away.” Baz Luhrmann’s hip-hop drama The Get Down is out now netflix.com
POOL Words Mark Webster
From the Music Man to the Hustler, pool’s chequered past and dark undertones have ensured a steady stream of starring roles on the stage and screen, the latest of which is the independent film release 8-Ball. Pool, more formally known as pocket billiards, evolved from a lawn game that resembled croquet – the green baize playing surface replicating the original grass. The name pool arrived in the popular vernacular as if by accident. The game as we know it, certainly in terms of its dimensions, started making an impact in the 19th century in what were called pool rooms – so named because groups of men would create pools of betting money in them that would then be won or lost on horses. Thus, by osmosis, the small billiard tables in the corner that were there to keep the punters entertained in between bets became pool tables. The game soon developed a more legitimate profile, and by 1878 there was already a championship tournament, with the star players extolled in news headlines, touring in exhibition games and even having cigarette cards dedicated to them. However, as the game was still frequently played in illegal venues, its connotations remained distinctly seedy. In 1934, The New York Times ran an article about Jack Doyle, “veteran betting commissioner and sports promoter”,
Professional pool player Willie Mosconi, 1930s 176 J &
who was “arrested with 15 other men when police made a gambling raid on his billiard establishment at 1456 Broadway”. Within a matter of months, Hollywood released its first feature film on the subject of pool halls, Bad Boy. Two decades later the same darker aspect of the game featured in the 1957 Broadway hit musical The Music Man. A con man arrives in gentle River City to sell the townsfolk the notion of starting up a marching band. He attempts to do this by scaring them about the danger of the arrival of a pool table at the local billiard parlour. In the song ‘Ya Got Trouble’, he captures hearts and minds as he sings: “You’ve got trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for pool.” As a game, it has pursued a complicated, circuitous route where the various colours, numbers and quantities of balls have provided players with plenty of options across the decades. At the heart of all that was kelly pool, which seems to have been a benchmark for the mainstay games we know today. Kelly pool, invented towards the end of the 19th century, involved the shaking of a bottle full of numbered pieces, which dictated the order in which two players would complete the game – an element adapted by later versions of the game. Where there was kelly pool, there was gambling, and it was a game that was frequently banned across various states, its providers and exponents being hit with heavy fines in the process. In 1914, in Pennsylvania, Judge J.A. MacIlvaine announced the game as “the most pernicious
form of gambling, for it starts youths to higher grades of crime”. By this time there were already two new forms of pool being played that were not only capturing the imagination of Americans, but also forming the basis for the game that went on to travel the world. In 1900, the most basic version of pool first emerged as B.B.C. Co. Pool, named after the manufacturing company Brunswick-BalkeCollender. It started life in Ohio in 1845 in the hands of Swiss emigré John Brunswick, who began to build billiard tables to compete with expensive English imports. In 1875, the company merged with its rival the Great Western Billiard Manufactory, which then quickly added New York company Collender to the group, ostensibly so they could use their patented padded cushions on their tables. But at the coalface of bars and saloons, where a pool table was a recreational weapon to keep the punters playing and spending, a pared-down version emerged where there were two sets of balls – one yellow, one red. One set of these had to be cleared before the game could be won on the black ball, which when numbers were added to all the balls, became number eight. Numbered balls were crucial to the more complex version that appeared in 1910, in a version that, much like kelly pool, enabled the skilled and the unscrupulous to convert the game into some serious income. With the balls racked in the familiar triangle, straight pool was a more sophisticated version of an earlier hybrid, continuous pool, which involved not only the nominating of balls and pockets, but also the manner in which the shot would be executed. Points were accrued and games could also overlap frames so that matches could easily become marathon events. This was the dramatic version of pool that provided the raison d’etre for Walter Tevis’s 1959 book The Hustler and the 1961 film of the same name, starring Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson. Jackie Gleason played Eddie’s nemesis, Minnesota Fats. Gleason, who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn, was no stranger to the world of the pool hall and played all the trick shots himself. The film
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Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson in the film The Hustler, 1961 was credited with regenerating national interest in this most American of indoor games. Although Tevis always denied his characters were based on any specific pool players, this did not stop New York-born player Rudy Wanderone taking full advantage of the situation – adapting his original nickname, New York Fatty, to Minnesota Fats for the rest of his career. Plying his trade during the mid-1920s, Wanderone hustled his way through New York, Washington DC, Illinois and Norfolk, Virginia – where the enormous army base was rich pickings for him – frequently taking money from big name rivals such as Cowboy Weston, Smart Henry and the young Wimpy Lassiter. Wanderone’s legend was confirmed when he played himself (as Minnesota Fats) in the 1971 film The Player, but it was in fact his rivalry with Willie Mosconi – the pro player who was technical adviser on The Hustler – that stoked his infamy well into the 1970s and 1980s.
Born in Philadelphia in 1913, Mosconi was a prodigious talent, winning his first tournament at 11. He became a world record-holding champion, and the man with the highest ever points score in straight pool. In contrast to his larger-thanlife rival, Mosconi, as he said, “played everyone straight”. It was Mosconi who was asked to teach the novice Paul Newman how to not only look good at the pool table in The Hustler, but also how to conduct himself around it. And Newman did learn how to wield a cue pretty effectively, although it is often Mosconi’s hands you’ll see on close ups. But out there in the real world, there was no love lost between Wanderone and Mosconi. As
Mosconi’s widow Flora once recalled, “my husband hated Rudy Wanderone because he felt that he was always hurting the image of pool instead of helping it”. The pair took it out on each other on the pool table, which first happened in a televised game in 1978 on ABC – which gave the station its second highest ratings of the year, beaten only by the Muhammad Ali/Leon Spinks rematch. Later this year the game is once again scheduled to make its way back to the big screen in an independent film release, 8-Ball. The film explores the ways in which the game has weaved its way into the psychology and mythology of the USA. As actor David Barroso (who plays Ramone Torzo in the film) recently explained on Movie Talk, his character’s past is “catching up with him. He has to find a way out. It’s all a game. And he relates it to pool. That’s his real life. That was his game”. The film 8-Ball screens at selected film festivals 8-ballmovie.com
SYDNEY Words Chris May Photographs Felicity Ieraci
There is a wonderful passage in Paul Theroux’s 1992 travel memoir, The Happy Isles of Oceania, in which he recalls a literary dinner he spoke at in the town hall in Perth, on Australia’s west coast. As Theroux was speaking, a man lurched out of his chair at the back of the room and moved purposefully towards him. He was over six feet tall, heavily built and obviously very drunk. Theroux observed fury in the body language. The man’s companion, a petite woman, grabbed his arm and tried to pull him back, but the man dragged her along with him, toppling her over in the process. Finally he stood before Theroux, stabbing the air with one finger and making obscene gestures with the other hand. “You’re a wanker, mate!” he shouted. “You’re a fucking wanker!” With difficulty the woman managed to coax the man out of the door. To Theroux’s relief, he was gone. But not for long. Staggering back into the hall, the man addressed Theroux once more. “You fucking wanker!” he shouted, before being dragged away again. For Theroux, the incident epitomised the cultural allure of western Australia. He should have gone to Sydney. Even 25 years ago, the city on Australia’s east coast was a vibrant global centre, unrecognisable from the place many Australian artists, writers and intellectuals had fled to London from in the early 1960s. And on the lifestyle envy dial today, Sydney goes up to 11. Among the events that shaped the city’s transformation was the opening of the opera house on the harbour front in 1973. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, its structure references yacht sails, and is also a riposte to the phallocentric architectural tradition. Another landmark in Sydney’s cultural coming of age was the programme that formed part of the Australian bicentenary in 1988 – an arts festival almost without parallel, akin to the Venice carnival, Burning Man and the Edinburgh International Festival rolled into one. Things to see and do in Sydney include the Art Gallery of New South Wales (a short walk through the Botanic Garden from the opera house), several specialist aboriginal art galleries, surfing off Bondi Beach, the view from the top of the Sydney Tower Eye, the Blue Mountains National Park west of the city and whale-watching cruises in the coastal waters. Retro petrolheads will enjoy the dirt-track racing at the Valvoline Raceway. And, as an added bonus, whatever you choose to do you are unlikely to need a bad-weather plan. There is only one fly in Sydney’s ointment, but it is a big one – the vestigial presence of the “white Australia policy” that for most of the 20th century in effect allowed immigration solely from Britain and other European countries. Introduced in 1901 and not fully dismantled until 1973, the policy’s legacy means that the overwhelming majority of Australians are of European heritage. The tailor Sam Mingle, who was born and brought up in Ghana before moving to London – and who left Britain for Australia a year ago – speaks about the “black man’s nod”, a feature of life in segregation-era USA that is still exchanged in Sydney.
Chris Friend, pro surfer and founder of Bondi Surf Pro, with Sage Gubbay, pro surfer and junior coach at Bondi Surf Pro
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Chris Friend was born in Queensland, home
of destination surf beaches on Australia’s Gold and Sunshine coasts. He was a member of the Australian Junior Surfing Team before turning professional and spending four years on the international competition circuit. He has surfed on every continent except Antarctica. “That’s still on my list,” he says. “But I have surfed in Norway in the Arctic Circle.” Friend moved to Sydney to study economics at university. He still competes in four or five surf competitions each year, while also coaching and working in sports technology. With fellow professional Teale Vanner, he runs the Bondi Surf school. With Live Heats, he has developed an app for surf-contest management. “Instead of you having to keep complicated, manual spreadsheets,” says Friend, “the app does it for you. It’s error free and automatically moves contestants through the correct heats. It can be used by anyone from a bunch
of school mates who want to have a competition through to pro-level events, and it allows friends and family to follow the scores in real time on their mobile or any other connected platform.” What is it that most appeals to Friend about Sydney? “It’s the one place in the world where I can wake up at 6am, in the heart of the city, and walk to the beach in a couple of minutes,” he says. “Then stay there for an hour and a half before taking a short bike ride to work. I can live a beach life while enjoying the other aspects of city living. They talk about surfing beaches in LA, but I found you have to drive for over an hour before you get to one.” It may be a stereotype, but the surfing world is not best known for sexual abstinence. Most professional sportspeople, however, are discouraged in the run up to an event. Does such discipline apply in professional surfing? “Definitely not,” says Friend. “Pro surfers don’t take that sort of thing seriously. From my own experience it’s
actually the reverse. If I was travelling with a girl, I found it was better. It was like an extended warm up.” And what is Friend’s must-see tip for visitors to Sydney? “I’d recommend spending an afternoon at the day club in the middle of Sydney harbour. It’s on a floating pontoon and you get a water taxi out to it. There’s a bar and live DJs. Aim to head out there about 3pm. In the summer, it’s just amazing.” Coaches from Friend’s surf school Bondi Surf Pro compete monthly at the Bondi Boardriders Club. The next events are on 11 September and 16 October bondisurf.pro liveheats.com J &
Jess Scully is a founding director of Vivid
Sydney, the blockbuster festival that runs from May to June. The festival has three strands, Light, Music and Ideas, and Scully is curator of Ideas. This year, she programmed around 200 talks, symposia and workshops in Sydney’s art galleries, museums, theatres, cinemas and alternative arts spaces. The rainbow of topics included culture, design, technology, making, disruptive art and entrepreneurship. Given its generally cerebral nature, it is not surprising that Vivid Ideas, measured by audience size, is the baby of Vivid Sydney, whose light installations and music shows this year attracted more than two million people. But an impressive 55,000 attended Ideas events. Scully’s budget this year was around A$1m. It sounds like a useful sum of money, but “it doesn’t feel like it when you’re spending it”, says Scully, who has to engage speakers, hire production staff, rent the presentation spaces, provide marketing support and generally fund the events. “A large
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part of the budget goes towards enabling people to put on their own events,” she says. What does Scully find especially appealing about Sydney? “I think it’s the adventurous attitude,” she says. “There’s a great sense of the possible. People are not afraid of kickstarting things and they don’t fall back on replicating stereotypes. And we have a very informal way of doing things. Which isn’t to say we’re not highly regulated – because we sure are, we have a Nordic level of regulation – but there’s a relaxed approach to work. We take it seriously but we’re quite open. Also, people here don’t feel they need permission to initiate things. When they get a good idea, they go for it. There’s still a big audience in Australia for arts and culture that hasn’t been unlocked, but levels of engagement are building up.” 2016 might be Scully’s last year with Vivid Sydney. She is standing for election as a city councillor on the independent team of lord mayor Clover Moore, with special responsibility for cultural affairs. She will find
out if she’s elected on 10 September. What are Scully’s must-see tips? “As someone who spends a lot of time in galleries and museums, and often has to be indoors looking at screens or talking to people, the one thing that I would say visitors have to see is the Royal Botanic Garden,” she says. Founded in 1816, it’s set in 153 acres abutting the harbour next to the opera house. “It’s extraordinary, so beautiful.” Scully hosts Unleashed Festival, Melbourne, on 24 September and Junket, Canberra, 25-27 September unleashedfestival.com junket.junkee.com vividsydney.com jessscully.com
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Jess Scully, curator, policy thinker, festival director, media producer and founding director of the festival Vivid Sydney
Sam Mingle was born and brought up in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. He began his career in London, helping out in his brother’s tailoring shop. The shop made up samples for Vivienne Westwood and tailors on Savile Row. In 2014, after three years with Ozwald Boateng, Mingle set up Dapper Sam. Among the brand’s first clients were members of the Arsenal football squad, who knew and liked his work at Boateng’s. “I started out doing wedding suits for a couple of them,” says Mingle. “Then last year, my wife decided she wanted to go back to home to Australia. I’m working at P. Johnson Tailors while I get the feel of the market. I’ve had a few people who have offered to invest in me, but I want to get to know the market better first, find a gap I can fill. It’s very different here. Whereas most people in London look quite presentable when they leave the house, here it’s always singlets and shorts and cut-off jeans and they think Sam Mingle, tailor they look smart. That was quite a shock when I first arrived. And because of the climate, you can’t really use much tweed or wool like you do in Europe.” Sartorialism aside, how is Mingle settling down in Sydney? “Australia’s got a kind of racist vibe though everyone is quite good at hiding it,” he says. “It’s hard to describe something you can’t see or which isn’t actually said – but I feel a vibe, particularly from some of the older people, who maybe come from more
isolated places like Queensland and have been there for four or five generations. That’s all they know and I can tell they’re shocked when they see me. They don’t expect a black guy and certainly not a well-dressed black guy. The people who are more recent arrivals from Britain, they’re more open-minded. And most people here don’t seem to travel overseas widely. They go to China and south Asia and that’s about it. If they go to Europe they tend to stay there. So they’re not bringing a more advanced attitude back here. “The black population is only like .0001 per cent and because there are so few of us we have this thing we call ‘the black man’s nod’. When you walk down the street and you see another black dude, you give a little nod. It’s very different from London.” pjt.com
There’s a great sense of the possible. People are not afraid of kickstarting things and they don’t fall back on replicating stereotypes. And we have a very informal way of doing things. J &
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Analiese Gregory, chef, in her restaurant Bar Brosé
Analiese Gregory was originally from New
Zealand. She moved to Australia eight years ago and is one of Sydney’s most celebrated chefs. For five years she was a senior member of the team at the acclaimed Quay restaurant in Sydney Harbour. She has also worked in Europe – at the Ledbury in west London, Le Meurice in Paris and Mugaritz outside San Sebastián in northern Spain. Along the way, she ran a pop-up restaurant in Fez, Morocco. With a couple of partners, Gregory recently opened her own place, Bar Brosé, already a hot ticket in Sydney. What’s the idea behind Bar Brosé? “I just wanted somewhere I could cook food I was proud of, with ingredients I sourced myself,” says Gregory. “And have a glass of wine during service if I felt like it. Basically, to not kill myself in the kitchen. It was a lifestyle choice as much as anything.” Bar Brosé is currently open in the evenings only, but she is planning to start lunchtime service soon, beginning on Sundays. Gregory started cooking when she was a child, tutored by her father. “He’s a chef and he did most of the cooking at home. He used to compete in the Culinary Olympics. My mother is half Chinese, half Dutch. So I grew up in a really weird mix of haute cuisine and Chinese stir fries.” Sydney is a world-class culinary hotspot, but only relatively recently. What led to its rise? “It’s probably immigration,” says Gregory. “We don’t really have our own cuisine in Australia, but everybody who has moved here from overseas has brought their cuisine
Australia is like America in that people don’t feel stuck in tradition because we don’t really have one. We feel free to customise things. with them. They began by replicating it over here but things change over time and distance. Italian food in Sydney isn’t traditional Italian food any more. People have modified it with their own ideas. Then there are Thai, Chinese and Japanese communities who have modified their cuisines. Australia is like America in that people don’t feel stuck in tradition because we don’t really have one. We feel free to customise things however we see fit.” Food aside, what makes Sydney such an exciting place? “When I moved here,” says Gregory, “I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was on holiday. The climate is so different from Europe or even New Zealand. Even in winter, you’re sometimes wearing T-shirts. I can go swimming in the sea and walk into work in about 15 minutes. Every time I do that I’m still amazed.” And what is her must-see tip? “Some people I used to work with have recently opened up a restaurant in the opera house. It’s called
Bennelong. It’s really high quality Australian ingredients, everything is beautiful and it’s very vegetable driven. It’s subtle, elegant food. And they have a bar where you can just sit and admire the amazing architecture. It’s not cheap, but it’s a special experience, a destination in itself.” Gregory is hosting a charity event, Dining for a Difference, in Auckland on 8 October leukaemia.org.nz She will be showcasing at the Gourmet Escape food festival, Margaret River, 17-19 November gourmetescape.com.au barbrose.com.au J &
Jessie Vacher and Christian Maisonet
Photographs Janette Beckman Words Mark Webster
This simple community game â&#x20AC;&#x201C; like squash but using hands instead of a racket â&#x20AC;&#x201C; has grown into an elite sport, without letting go of its homegrown roots.
E x p o My time last year at the infamous West 4th Street basketball courts – aka “the cage”– in New York’s Greenwich Village was underscored by the insistent, percussive soundtrack of the adjoining street handball court on the other side of the wire fence. The sound of the tiny rubber ball ricocheting off the floor and wall peppered the air as the players weaved their way around the spartan concrete playing area. This particular version of handball was brought to the US by Irish immigrants when they first moved into the area, before being taken up by the local Jewish community. Its roots are thought to come from Spain’s Basque Country, where small ball
games played against walls and in courtyards were prolific. This summer Beckman documented the One-Wall Big Ball tournament, which takes place across the United States, to decide the King of the Courts in New York’s five boroughs. “I’ve been watching handball played on courts all over the city since I got here in 1983,” she says. “It is an important part of New York street culture, just like basketball. On a hot day, you see young and old – mostly guys – in every dusty little park.” For this prestigious handball tournament, the location was Edison Park, which is tucked away just off Grand Central Parkway in the Queens
Timothy ‘Timbo’ Gonzales, 24, winner of King of the Courts in 2014 and 2015, with his father. “My parents always kept me around the sport since an early age. I can relate it to things that happen in real life, which helps me grow as a person. Like dealing with failure or motivating yourself.”
Simmie ‘Buddy’ Gant, aka ‘The One Game Assassin’, 63, was a star player in his youth, starting out in the 1950s
neighbourhood of Jamaica. “It’s a real neighbourhood affair,” says Beckman. “Burgers and dogs on the grill, fried chicken, ice-cold sodas and homemade cakes. Gatorade and water for the players. There are kids climbing up the chain-link fence to get a better view. A DJ has his table set up on the grass playing hip-hop and Prince, while older guys are playing some serious chess and cards. Dollar bills are also changing hands, as this is, no doubt, a betting event.” T h i s m i xtu re of yout h and experience is not simply confined to the hundreds of spectators that surround the court, all of whom have a view on what they are watching. Cries of “box him out”, “play physical” and “break him” fly through the air as new kids on the block take on veterans of the game. “Players old and young greet each other with respectful handshakes and then a hug,” says Beckman. “The referees are guys around their fifties and sixties, some of whom had to retire through injuries, and not simply age. But they still have an eagle eye. And their word is golden.” By the end of the day, the tournament arrived at a final that perfectly exemplified the wide range of players that compete at the highest level. Endeavouring to make it three wins in a row was the youthful Timothy ‘Timbo’ Gonzalez – a native of the Bronx, born in 1991, who has been playing since
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Luis Santana and Dan Pitre
Isaac Clovis, 17, from Flatbush, works in real estate. “I got into handball because I was trying to impress a girl. After watching some top players, I became addicted and driven to play. On the competitive level, you fall in love with it. It gets better every day.”
It’s a real neighbourhood affair. Burgers and dogs on the grill. Gatorade and water for the players. Kids climbing the chainlink fence trying to get a better view.
E x p o Kadeem Bush and ‘Fifty’
John ‘Rookie’ Wright, 43, winner of King of the Courts in 2016 and six times previously, works in maintenance. “I played handball first at school; it kept me close to the girls. What’s special about it is the physical attributes you get, and it’s fun and addictive.”
Tywan ‘The Golden Child’ Cook, from Brooklyn. “I thought I was the best player ever at the age of six; I’ve been competing for 12 years.”
the age of eight. Something of the golden boy of the sport, he has won titles across the country and also runs clinics in his neighbourhood for the new wave of handball players coming through on the streets. The man looking to stop Timbo completing his hat trick, John ‘Rookie’ Wright, is still one of the all-time greats of the game at 43 years old. Considered handball’s number one player for many years, he was the sport’s first national champion, winning world titles and representing his country at singles and doubles, while frequently returning home to prove himself the best of the bunch in his native New York. This final battle for the crown was seen as a real game of thrones, in the end won by the man with 18 years on his opponent. “The kid is tough,” said Rookie of his challenger. “You just have to move him and work him. He is a great athlete and aggressive. You have to outplay him or you lose.” As Beckman says, “It’s a perfect game. All you need is a small ball and a wall.” The Simple Green US Open of Handball is at Fountain Valley, California, 20-23 October ushandball.org The next King of the Courts tournament, hosted by the St Albans Handball Association, is in New York, July 2017 sahany.org
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It’s a perfect game. All you need is a small ball and a wall.
Tyler Diequez and Alexander ‘Steam’ Konovalov
Photographs Dean Chalkley Styling Karen Mason Photographic Assistant Chris Chudleigh Equipment Three Four Snap threefoursnap.com Production Lo and Behold loandbeholdproductions.com Model Joss Carter
Down by the Jetty A graduate from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, Joss Carterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dance style ranges from classical to contemporary. Since 2009, he has toured with dance companies including BalletBoyz, Russell Maliphant, Mor Shani and Gary Clarke. Upcoming performances choreographed by Carter include Misery Flesh, at the Duckie cabaret night at Vauxhall Tavern, London, in January, and Salvation, which opens in June 2017. josscarter.co.uk
Trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna; shirt by Wooyoungmi; belt by Folk. 190 J &
E d i t Trousers by E. Tautz; T-shirt by Armor-Lux; trainers by Vans; hat by Béton Ciré; belt by Paul & Joe.
Trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna; top by YMC; trainers by Converse; belt by Paul & Joe.
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Trousers and coat by Tourne de Transmission; sweater by Margaret Howell; belt by Paul & Joe.
Trousers and top by Emporio Armani.
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Trousers by Berluti; sweater by Neil Barrett; shoes by G.H. Bass.
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Trousers by Thom Sweeney; coat by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture; top by Cos.
L.A. Salami Photograph Orlando Gili Words Chris May The singer and songwriter Lookman Adekunle Salami, aka L.A. Salami, hit the stage running with his debut EP ‘Another Shade of Blue’ in 2013. The title track was used as the soundtrack for a short film made by Vogue Paris the following year, and Burberry asked him to soundtrack their spring/ summer 2014 menswear collection and open their show in London’s Kensington Palace Gardens. Salami is about to release his first full-length album Dancing with Bad Grammar, recorded at Hackney’s Urchin Studio. As anyone familiar with Salami’s erudite, socially conscious lyrics knows,
there is nothing wrong with his grammar. “The title means making the best of what you’ve got,” says Salami. We speak just two days after EU referendum. “What upsets me most is not so much that we voted to leave – it could have disastrous consequences or it could be amazing – but the manner in which we voted,” says Salami. “We left because the leave campaign played on people’s fear and hatred. London is maybe the most multicultural place in the world. It’s not perfect, but in order to make a smoothie you have to put all the fruit in the blender and press the button and chop it all up.” The album Dancing with Bad Grammar is out on 26 August sundaybest.net
King Creosote Photograph Donald Milne Words Chris May Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, was brought up in Fife on Scotland’s east coast, where he lives in the small fishing town of Crail. His gorgeous melodicism draws from Scotland’s folk tradition and his lyrics read like poetry. There are striking synergies between Anderson and the musician, painter and writer Billy Childish. Both are prolific; Anderson has released around 60 albums and Childish has released around 150 – but Childish has been at it for 20 years longer. Both recorded for their own labels from the start, both have used a variety of outlandish monikers, and both live away from fashionable metropolises – Childish lives in Chatham, Kent, which, like Crail, has a seafaring history. And both men share a profound respect for tradition. “It’s funny you should say that,” says Anderson. “I’ve got a good pal who I share a boat with, Sean Dooley. He’s a massive Billy Childish fan, ridiculously massive. He collects everything he puts out. Sean tells me he first gravitated towards King Creosote because of the similarities with Billy Childish.” In 2013, Anderson and Dooley [on piano] recorded an album, Sure and Steadfast, as a fundraiser for their local boat club. “A couple of years earlier, I had this epiphany,” says Anderson. “I was living in an idyllic harbour village and I thought, surely, if I was ever going to have a boat, it would be now. One was advertised, it was a wreck, and the boat club helped restore it. It’s called the Rose Leaf. Sean and I are actually terrified of going out. The wind has to be so low as to barely fill the sails. And we probably only go out about half a mile before we get the fear and come home again.” The album Astronaught Meets Appleman is out on 2 September dominorecord.co.com King Creosote performs at Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton St, London N1 on 7 September and Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2 on 22 January barbican.org.uk J &
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Photograph Mattias Pettersson Words Andy Thomas London musician and DJ Lascelle Gordon has been crossing musical boundaries for more than 30 years now. His new spiritual jazz meets post-punk project, Vibration Black Finger, is a continuation of an eclectic musical journey that began in the early 1970s in east London. “My mum used to send me out to the local shop on Roman Road market where I lived to get her James Brown singles and stuff,” he says. “I soon got seriously into the funk side of things and started buying albums. Then I was going to the clubs, so places like Crackers and Lacy Lady.” 198 J &
It was through the clubs that he got to know his future DJ partner, Barrie Sharpe, at the former Wag Club in central London’s Soho. “We were living down the same road in Manor Park [east London] and he started to pop over and listen to records,” says Gordon. “He saw that I had a great record collection running along the same lines as he had.” Gordon got his break with Sharpe at Rene Gelston’s Black Market sessions at the Wag, spinning raw funk and rare grooves. When not in the DJ booth, Gordon would be down on the dancefloor. “I grew up around some of the great London dancers so got a lot of inspiration from them. People like Trevor Shakes, Leon Herbert, and of course Barrie Sharpe,” he says.
It was at a session at the Wag that Gelston introduced Gordon to Martin Moscrop from Manchester post-punk funk band A Certain Ratio (ACR), who offered Gordon a spot as their DJ. “Andy Polaris from Animal Nightlife had loaned me the ACR single ‘All Night Party’ and I then started getting into more of the post-punk stuff,” says Gordon. It wasn’t just the music of ACR and their Factory label mates that impressed Gordon as he started to expand his musical horizons. “I loved the artwork and that was a really important thing for me,” he says. “It went hand in hand with the music. I was always into art and was always into record sleeves.” Another introduction at the Wag was to a young drummer from west London, Jan Kincaid. “He came down to the club and handed us a tape of this band he had put together [the Brand New Heavies],” says Gordon. “He asked me and Barrie if we wanted to get involved, so it was a great opportunity to take things onto the next step.” After a tour of the US with the band at the height of the acid jazz scene, Gordon left the group to explore new musical territories as drummer with NME indie favourite Campag Velocet. “That was again me not wanting to keep doing the same things and trying to diversify and keep things fresh,” he says. “They had the funk and art rock going on together so they were a bit ahead of their time.” There followed a string of live sessions and tours as guest percussionist for acts as varied as Beth Orton and My Bloody Valentine. His own musical explorations took a turn in the late 1990s when he bought a Roland 606 drum machine. “I’d always been into the electronic side of things since buying Herbie Hancock in the 1970s and I have a lot of it in my collection,” he says. With producer Ben Cowen he released two LPs of electronic music under the name 7 Hurtz. More recently his work with the jazz quartet Woven Entity has explored his love of experimental music. “That was totally improvised,” he says. “We don’t structure anything or know what we are going to play but it sort of all comes together without sounding like we’re jamming.” At the same time, Gordon’s Music to Ease Your Disease radio show on internet station NTS has explored his vast musical universe – where the
spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders meets the post-punk agitation of the Pop Group. And it is these disparate influences that combine for one of the most exciting projects to emerge from London in 2016. The main inspiration for Vibration Black Finger was the spiritual jazz of the 1970s, but you can also hear the DIY musical collaging of the post-punk era. “I really liked groups like Rip Rig and Panic and what they were doing in the early 1980s, and then also things like Liquid Liquid, I loved that rawness,” says Gordon. Released on Enid Records earlier this year, the self-titled debut EP was recorded at various studios across London. And now the new LP is set to cause an even bigger stir among jazz heads and indie fans alike. Both the EP and forthcoming album came in distinctive artwork created by Thomas Caslin and Louise Hilton at Attica Design. “It’s very important to create a whole aesthetic otherwise it all becomes a bit throw away,” says Gordon. “A lot of it harks back to the album sleeves from the 1960s and 1970s. So we are trying to keep the standard up. And I wanted to make a connection between the music and artwork.” Vibration Black Finger’s self-titled debut EP is out now facebook.com/enidrecords
Nedelle Torrisi Photograph Phil Knott Words Chris May The Los Angeles-based musician Nedelle Torrisi , a native Californian, was born to a jazz-drumming father who was an ex-priest and a piano-playing mother who was an ex-nun. Both parents had taken secular paths because they were frustrated by the lifestyle strictures of the Catholic church. Torrisi took up violin when she was seven years old and studied jazz singing at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She began recording in 2003. Last year she reissued her 2013 album, Nedelle Torrisi, under the title Advice from Paradise – which is also the name of a love-advice column she publishes as a blog. “I don’t have any training in it,” says Torrisi. “But I’ve always been interested in human relations and I love love. And girls talk.” The column
is full of straightforward, commonsense advice and is entirely free of LA psychobabble. Torrisi could clearly become a professional agony aunt if she wanted to. She is also deeply involved in animal welfare. “I’ve been interested in animal rights since I was a teenager,” says Torrisi, who became a vegetarian when she was 15 and has been a vegan since she was 18. “I have a salaried job with Peta [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals]. I started with them three years ago. I write content for their website. I can’t support myself through music alone. It’s an awesome job. I work from home and hopefully I can do Peta and the music without either of them suffering.” A deluxe edition of Nedelle Torrisi’s album Advice from Paradise is out now tinangelrecords.com
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P e o p l e Photograph Janette Beckman Words Chris May Teenage actor and scriptwriter Preston Thompson had an unusual route into the film business. Instead of going to drama or film school, he is an alumnus of the Portobello Panto. For four Christmases he trod the boards of the Tabernacle arts centre in Powis Square, west London, near his home in Ladbroke Grove. The charity panto was dreamed up in the living room of Four Weddings and a Funeral actor Anna Chancellor. As a scriptwriter, Thompson made his professional debut with the 2014 short, A Plea for Grimsby, which he also directed. “In some ways, it’s harder to script a short than a feature,” he says. “You’ve got maybe 12 minutes, and you still need to have a beginning, a middle and an end.” The short featured Will Poulter, who hit the big time last year in Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant. “My parents are in film production,” says Thompson, “so I got to read scripts from an early age. I got a job at a talent agency and one of my tasks was to read scripts. I felt at home with them, I knew the language.” Thompson’s latest project is the British indie Kids in Love, a coming-of-age story he co-scripted and in which he also acts, as does Poulter. “I rather selfishly put myself in it,” says Thompson. “I’m six foot seven, which is really too tall for films – it’s a nightmare for the cinematographer. Sebastian de Souza [co-scriptwriter] and I wrote what we thought was some witty dialogue for the two of us. But he is almost a foot shorter than me and we had to cut it all out because the two of us could never fit in the same frame.”
The film Kids in Love is in selected cinemas, on demand and available on DVD signature-entertainment.co.uk
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Guy Burnet Photograph Phil Knott Words Chris May Raised in Notting Hill, west London, the actor Guy Burnet originally wanted to be a footballer, and briefly attended Queens Park Rangers’ soccer school. But when he was 15 he changed direction. “Me and two friends bunked off school every day,” says Burnet. “We would sometimes sneak into the Gate cinema through the fire exit. We didn’t always watch the movies attentively, it was just better than school. But there was one, La Haine, which really moved us. It’s about three young working-class guys in a Paris suburb – a white guy, a black guy and an Arab guy. Which is exactly what me and my two friends were. It totally blew us away. That’s when the magic of movies struck me.” After five years in Hollyoaks, Burnet moved to Los Angeles. “The extraordinary thing is that last year I was introduced to Mathieu Kassovitz, director of La Haine,” he says. “I told him my story. I bumped into him again some months later and he said he was writing a sequel, because he was affected by the number of people, like me, whose lives had been changed by the original.” Guy Burnet joins the cast of Amazon’s Hand of God as Raymond Kelly, starting 28 October amazon.co.uk He also stars in the forthcoming remake of Jacob’s Ladder
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Photograph Donald Milne Words Andy Thomas In 1991, the US music magazine Spin chose Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque as album of the year over Nirvana’s Nevermind. The Scottish group had just supported Nirvana and Kurt Cobain had called them “the best band in the world”. Hailed as pioneers of grunge when they debuted in 1990 with A Catholic Education, Teenage Fanclub spent the 1990s releasing a string of power-pop LPs to critical acclaim. It saw them building a loyal fanbase that have now had to wait six years for a new album. Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley formed Teenage Fanclub in 1989 in the small postindustrial town of Bellshill, 10 miles outside Glasgow. “There was a club in Glasgow called Splash One, run by various people like Bobby Gillespie and it was where I met Norman,” says McGinley. “In late 1986, Norman had a group called the Boy Hairdressers and he asked me to join.” Blake had previously been in the Pretty Flowers with Duglas T Stewart, with whom he joined an early line up of the BMX Bandits, and Sean Dickson, singer of the Soup Dragons. “Bellshill was like a little sub scene of what was happening in Glasgow,” says McGinley. Recruiting their bass player Gerard Love, Blake and McGinley recorded their debut single at Pet Sounds in Glasgow with money from the sale of a fridge. “It’s funny thinking back to 1989; it cost pretty much the same for a day in the studio as it does now,” says McGinley. “We were paying £250 a day and me and Norman were on the dole. I grew up in a tower block and an elderly neighbour had died and had left me all these
domestic appliances. So I thought, oh fuck it I’ll sell them to make the record.” Released on Paperhouse Records, A Catholic Education was far removed from the catchy pop of their subsequent albums. “With the first record we did it really quickly and weren’t so confident to do that melodic pop and those harmonies we liked,” says McGinley. The grunge sound drew the ears of Cobain. “Kurt Cobain had been really interested in Glasgow music,” says McGinley. “But I keep reading that we were his favourite band and I’m not even sure that we were his favourite band from Glasgow. He was really into the Vaselines and so he really got into us through them.” Having been touted by Cobain, it would have been easy for the band to believe the hype. Instead they named their second album Bandwagonesque and distanced themselves from the grunge tag. “There was some kind of resonance in that album name,” says McGinley. “As a band we never wanted to be seen as in the vanguard of a movement. We’ve always been kind of bemused by what is around us and separate from everything.” The two bands mentioned most around Bandwagonesque were the Beach Boys and Big Star. But the group’s hook-laden power pop also looked back
to the golden era of Scottish pop on the Postcard Records label. “People in Glasgow have traditionally been into melodic music, whether that be older folk music or country and western, and so the whole Postcard thing was a continuation of that,” says McGinley. “Postcard was really cool because they just did whatever they wanted to do. That kind of gave us the confidence to do things melodically and softer.” The three LPs released for Creation in the following years saw them ploughing their own furrow. “Although we’ve always taken advantage of things that are around us we’ve never got too involved, whether it was grunge or Britpop or whatever. I feel like we’ve always been on the periphery,” says McGinley. Since Howdy! in 2000, Teenage Fanclub have released albums every five years or so, with their last, Shadows, released in 2010. The six-year gap to the new LP is a result of band members now living in different countries, so it was recorded in Provence, Glasgow and Hamburg. “It requires more planning,” says McGinley, who shared the songwriting with Blake and Love. “But when we do get together we just do it as we’ve always done it. We can hit the ground running quite quickly. We’ve spent so much time together over the years, it’s like, here we are again.” The album Here is out on 9 September mergerecords.com The US and Canadian tour starts at Lee’s Palace, Toronto, on 12 October. The UK tour starts at Ironworks, Inverness, on 15 November teenagefanclub.com J &
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Peter Kember Photograph Ian Witchell Words Chris May Some historians call La Monte Young the USA’s first minimalist composer. Others cite his contemporary, Terry Riley. It remains a moot point. Young and Riley were both members of the experimental New York collective Theatre of Eternal Music (TEM) in the early 1960s, along with composer Tony Conrad and the Velvet Underground’s John Cale and Sterling Morrison. Young, like the rest of TEM, was also keen to explore music with the help of psychedelics, and cannabis, acid and peyote have played an important part in his life since the mid-1950s. So when the Barbican presents its tribute, the La Monte Young Project, in London later this month,
it is appropriate that the British musician and psychedelic fellow traveller Peter Kember, aka Sonic Boom, is among the featured performers. “I don’t think anyone should ever apologise for their use of cannabis,” says Kember from his home in Sintra, Portugal. Kember’s fellow performers at the Barbican will include French trance producer and saxophonist Etienne Jaumet and singer Celine Wadier. “They’ve been doing a lot of stuff in Paris to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Velvet Underground’s ‘banana’ album,” says Kember. “I think they first approached La Monte Young to do something himself, and I know they went to Tony Conrad [who died last April]. But they both wanted a lot of money. I guess Etienne and me were next on the list.
“All the pieces we’re performing are La Monte Young’s. While some of it is how he wrote it, we improvise on it a bit too. We’ve performed it three times in France. We try to create a strong vibe and atmosphere, to really focus things. And we use images of Sufi-inspired ceramic tiles from north Africa, projected onto the stage. It creates a hypnotic space to be in, minimal but just right for the pieces.” The La Monte Young project is at the Barbican, Silk Street, London EC2 on 30 September barbican.org.uk J &
I c o n In the past few months, the humble safety pin has re-emerged to be displayed prominently and proudly on people’s clothing – once again a simple but potent reactionary symbol. In the wake of the ugly fallout from the EU referendum, a London-based woman by the name of Allison (at the time of press, she was choosing to keep her profile low) sent out a series of Tweets with the idea of showing solidarity to immigrants being abused as a result of the Brexit vote. Her idea was that “anyone against the sort of nationalistic, racist violence we’ve been seeing could identify themselves as a ‘safe’ ally”. She saw it as “a quiet way to say, ‘Hey, it’s fine, I’m with you’”. And quiet as it may have been, it still managed to cause ripples and provide people with an iconic image around which they could all rally. Forty years ago the safety pin was also used not as a practical tool but as a statement piece. Then, however, it was rather more of a brutal symbol, the badge of honour of the burgeoning punk movement – a reputation the humble piece of twisted wire has never really lost. Just five years ago on social media, for example, Canadian singer Avril Lavigne announced to the world after a drunken visit to a tattoo parlour, “It’s a... safety pin bitches!” While 17 years before that, the safety pin was appropriated to make another bold, albeit more opulent statement – this time as a high fashion accessory for what was known as “that dress”, worn by Elizabeth Hurley and designed by Gianni Versace. Its creation had inspired his sister Donatella to say around that time, “For me the safety pin is about rebellion, and I’m punk in the soul.” But way before punk had attached itself to the pin, it had already been making its way steadily through history. One of its earliest manifestations attached itself perfectly to its rebellious reputation, given infamy by Greek historian Herodotus’s written accounts. He recorded an incident involving a group of Athenian women who, using a dagger-like version of the pin designed to attach Words Mark Webster Photograph Dean Chalkley Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Photographic Assistant Chris Chudleigh Model Alfonso Pinto, lead singer of the Parkinsons facebook.com/officialtheparkinsons Location Farr’s School of Dancing, 17-19 Dalston Lane, London, E8 farrsschoolofdancing.com
their tunics, attacked and killed a soldier. As a result, that particular item of clothing was banned. By medieval times in Europe, a pin that had the look of its modern equivalent was used as a piece of jewellery, rendered in gold, silver and ivory. But the humble version we know now was actually born in 1849 in upstate New York, when a prolific inventor happened across its fastening secret while casually fiddling with a piece of wire. Walter Hunt had dabbled with various inventions, including a sewing machine and a repeating rifle, but it was when he was in desperate straits and pondering how he would pay off a $15 debt that he accidentally stumbled on the mechanical quirk that would make his pin safe. Hunt sold patent number 6281 to a manufacturing company for $400 and paid off his debt. The company went on to make millions of pins, and millions and millions of dollars. Cut to the Kings Road, west London, in the early 1970s. What had been popularly assumed for many years to be one of punk’s great inventions in fact turned out to be a classic piece of magpie creativity. Between 1974 and 1976, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren ran a boutique called Sex. It was during this time that the fledgling movement known as punk inspired its first range of clothes. The simple shiny tool that McLaren had previously seen worn in New York by proto punk Richard Hell as a fashion statement was to become the central theme of the radical Westwood look. The Sex Pistols’ John Lydon, however, steadfastly maintained they were only there to stop “the arse of your pants falling out”. One of Westwood’s great contemporaries, Zandra Rhodes, earned herself the title “princess of punk” in 1977 when she enhanced the look to a more glamorous level. To this day, you can still see the safety pin incorporated into Westwood’s jewellery collections, while one of those original Kings Road kids – pioneering art director, stylist and designer Judy Blame – remains inspired in his accessories creations by how the safety pin was first used, and for what it has gone on to represent. Who better to have the final word than Blame: “It is both practical and decorative. I remember it from early on, holding my nappies together, then later with punk we used it to hold our clothes together and brighten them up. Of course I use them in large volume and treat them as a kind of armour. The possibilities are endless, it mixes both comfort and familiarity with threat and danger. A true classic.”
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Alfonso wears safety pins, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own; vintage jacket by Yves Saint Laurent; jeans and belt, modelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own.
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J O C
K S & N
DANNY SAYS Ramones manager Danny Fields recalls a life less ordinary
J O C K S & N E R D S
The man who gave Grandmaster Flash his break reveals the real Get Down
LA MOVIDA How a generation of young artists helped jumpstart post-Franco Spain
Netflix’s drug lord
on playing Pablo Escobar in Narcos
PLUS Hollie Cook / The history of Pool The The’s Matt Johnson / A guide to Sydney 21st-century cartography / Syl Johnson Director of the Design Museum Deyan Sudjic L.A. Salami / Teenage Fanclub / Bauhaus