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N E R D S SUMMER 2016
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Panorama European Le Mans Series, Silverstone. Photographs Juan Trujillo Andrades 16 / Brief Cultural highlights for the summer 25 / Locker Stonesfield. Photographs Mark Mattock 50 / Metropolitan Lagos 170 / Expo Junk Club. Photographs Dean Chalkley 176 / Edit Gubblecoat. Photographs Gavin Watson; Styling Adam Howe 182 / People Ala.ni, Rob Gallagher, Toshio Matsuura, Jordan Max, Ernest Ranglin, Lou Rhodes, Dale Watson 190 / Icon Panama Hat 198
Judy Blame 60 / Fightball 66 / Richard Ashcroft 72 Elon Musk 100 / The Kills 104 / Billy Childish 108 Kiki 114 / Highways of the USA 140 Hofesh Shechter 144 / Video Games 166
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Photographs Juan Trujillo Andrades Words Chris May Including copious footage from the real-life endurance race, Lee H. Katzin’s 1971 movie Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, is a compelling early example of factional filmmaking. Since then, the cars have got faster and the technology more sophisticated, but the 24 Hours of Le Mans event remains the pinnacle of endurance racing. We spent a day with the Algarve Pro Racing Team – which includes retired cycling champion Chris Hoy among its drivers – at the European Le Mans Series four-hour race at Silverstone, a qualifier for the French event. Photographer Juan Trujillo Andrades says that endurance racing is as much a test of the mechanics as it is of the cars and the drivers. “The stress on the whole team is unrelenting,” he says. “There’s not a moment of relaxation. The cars come in to be refuelled or have tyres changed with only a few seconds notice, and there are also unexpected
mechanical problems to fix. There’s one picture that’s particularly significant. A mechanic is jumping over the fuel hose, to save a second or two walking round it, while another one is pumping the fuel, another is cleaning the windscreen and a fourth is rushing to get a new tyre. Plus they’re about to change front bodywork of the car damaged during Chris Hoy’s last lap. At-the-limit performance is needed from every member of the team. There’s no let up. Everybody has to be totally switched on throughout.” The European Le Mans Series continues at the Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria, 15-17 July europeanlemansseries.com The Algarve Pro Racing Team competes in 24 Hours of Le Mans, France, 18-19 June algarveproracingteam.com 24h-lemans.com
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The Algarve Pro Racing Team, with their Ligier JS P2 car, competing at the European Le Mans Series four-hour race at the Silverstone circuit, Northamptonshire J &
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Algarve Pro Racing Team driver Chris Hoy
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Algarve Pro Racing Team driver Parth Ghorpade
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BRIEF TIM BURGESS: TIM BOOK TWO “It was always going to be about records, so initially I thought maybe I’d write about 40 LPs I loved,” says Tim Burgess, explaining his new book Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco. “And then the idea came of me getting people I admire to recommend a record that I had to go and find.” It’s the second book from the lead singer of the Charlatans, following his memoir Telling Stories in 2013. “Like the best bits of every cautionary rock star tale... there is armed robbery and smuggling. There’s serious fraud. There are near and actual death experiences, divorce, industrial cocaine consumption and magnificent cameos from Madonna, Alan McGee, Ronnie Wood, Joe Strummer, LA drug dealer Harry the
Dog, and Joaquin Phoenix,” wrote Q Magazine. In the charmingly entitled follow-up, Tim Book Two, Burgess asked his music loving friends (including Iggy Pop, David Lynch and Ian Rankin) for records they were after and then made it his mission to find them while on tour. “It started really with Bill Drummond, he was the first person I approached for the book. And that was Van der Graaf Generator’s [progressive rock LP] H to He, Who Am the Only One,” he says. “Then as the idea developed I just got really excited about who to ask next and what they were going to recommend. And that became the map of the book really.” Burgess’s own love of vinyl began in Northwich in the north of England, where he grew up. “There was an indoor market there that sold records and badges,” he says. “The first records I bought there were ‘Like Clockwork’ by the Boomtown Rats and ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’ by Sham 69.” But it was on trips with mates to nearby Manchester as a young teenager that his vinyl habit really began. “We would go to the underground market to Marshall’s [Record Store] and also to Piccadilly Records and would start to get stuff you couldn’t get in the local market,” he says. “And Piccadilly has really been my most important record shop because it’s had an everlasting impact on me.” While on tour with the Charlatans in the late 1980s, and as a solo artist in more recent years, Burgess would make a point of heading to the local record shops. “It’s something I’ve always done, but with this book it really became my mission,” he says. “I had to go to a record shop in every city, so that was great. I really liked End of an Ear in Austin, where I discovered the hardest record to find in the book, which was Hoodoo Man Blues by Junior Wells that was recommended by Iggy Pop. But there were so many great shops.” Although many records shops have closed in recent years, on his search Burgess discovered even more seem to have opened. “There are loads of records shops out there, in particular in Europe – from Copenhagen to Hamburg,” he says. “There are all these great shops and everyone was really interested in what I was looking for.” In 2011, Burgess’s love of vinyl saw him set up his own label, O Genesis, releasing a solo J &
B r i e f LP Oh No I Love You alongside albums from new and established artists. “I wanted to put records out that I liked and to work with people that I thought were interesting,” he says. “And also to release records by younger people who were just starting out. So it kind of became a record label for them to begin with. And then we started putting out a few spoken word records by people like Jack Underwood and R. Stevie Moore, and then Ian Rankin did a 12. So then it became known as a spoken word label for a bit. We just do it to broaden things out.” The scope of the label’s output recalls that of Factory Records in the 1980s. As well as releasing a seven-inch by one of Burgess’s favourite label’s most cultish bands, Minny Pops, O Genesis also has a similarly strong focus on artwork and design. “Factory was astonishing really, I used to be able to spot one of their records by looking at the beautiful sleeves, so I have always liked that,” says Burgess. His love of great design also saw him call on illustrator Pete Fowler for the front cover of the new book. “I’ve known Pete for a while and he is brilliant,” says Burgess. “Because it’s not an autobiography I didn’t want my face on the front but an illustration by Pete was a different thing.” He had previously collaborated with Fowler on another project, Tim Peaks – a touring coffee shop cum performance space, producing its own brand of Fairtrade coffee (with profits going to the David Lynch Foundation). “It’s kind of become a travelling festival within a festival,” says Burgess. His most recent musical collaboration has been with Peter Gordon, associate of the late avant-garde musician Arthur Russell, for an LP out in late summer. “I had known of Peter’s stuff through the Love of Life Orchestra and have loved Arthur’s music for a long time,” he says. “I met Peter and he suggested we did something together and I’m very excited about it.” With the ongoing success of Record Store Day and the upsurge in vinyl sales, the future is looking bright for the 26
subject of Burgess’s new book. “I think kids like objects and records are really brilliant as objects,” he says. “And then everyone was saying, ‘Oh vinyl is over’ but you have to fight back for what you believe in. And people fighting back is always a good thing.” WORDS ANDY THOMAS PHOTOGRAPH DEAN CHALKLEY PHOTOGRAPHIC ASSISTANT KEN STREET PRODUCTION AMY FOSTER AND ANNA GIBSON AT LO AND BEHOLD LOANDBEHOLDPRODUCTIONS.COM The book Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco is out on 21 July faber.co.uk
HELMUT NEWTON: A RETROSPECTIVE “What I find interesting is working in a society with certain taboos – and fashion photography is about that kind of society… To have taboos, then to get around them – that’s interesting,” said Helmut Newton shortly before his death in January 2004. When Newton lost control of his Cadillac outside the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles, the world lost one of it’s greatest photographers. Twelve years on, Amsterdam’s Foam gallery is presenting a major retrospective of his work, with more than 200 photographs from early, little known prints to his most iconic images. The show aims to give viewers a deeper understanding of this controversial photographer’s work and place it in the cultural context in which it emerged, through publications such Catherine Deneuve as French Vogue in the for Esquire, Paris, 1970s. This period of great 1976 Photograph © Helmet Newton/ social change, with shifting Helmet Newton power relations between Estate men and women, was
B r i e f reflected in the designs of Yves Saint Laurent The photograph that appeared in French and Karl Lagerfeld, with whom Newton was Vogue in 1975 was shot late at night in the closely acquainted. Marais district of Paris, and is one of the best He was born Helmut Neustaedter in Berlin in examples of Newton’s genius with lighting. 1920 to a well-off liberal Jewish family. His father, “With haute couture collections, you couldn’t a wealthy button manufacturer, gave his son a camera get the clothes during the day when customers when he was 12. By the age of 17 he was apprentice were looking at them. So everything was done to visionary avant-garde photographer Yva, shortly at night,” he told New York magazine in 1988. before she was deported to a concentration camp and “Like [Hungarian photographer] Brassaï, later murdered. At the age of 18, Newton escaped a great influence on me. I like working at Nazi Germany to Singapore after the Gestapo had night. And I don’t use a flash; I use the detained his father. He then moved to Australia, actual street lighting.” serving five years in the army. Newton also loved working in natural In Melbourne he surroundings. “I had changed his name found out that I did to Helmut Newton, not function well in and with his wife the studio, that my June Brunell, an imagination needed actress and fellow the reality of the photographer (better outdoors,” he said. known as Alice “I also realised that Springs), set up a only as a fashion small photo studio. photographer could Throughout the I create my kind of 1950s and 1960s universe and take up he was commissioned my camera in the chic by Australian Vogue place and in what the and British Vogue locals called la zone, to work on fashion which were workingspreads, becoming class districts.” a contemporary of Although he never Irving Penn and spoke openly about Self-portrait with wife and models, Paris, Richard Avedon. the holocaust (once 1981 Photograph © Helmet Newton/ Helmet Newton Estate It was after a near saying “I will never fatal heart attack in forget or forgive but 1971 that he began to create the highly sexualised I find the Germans are the only ones who are images he is best known for. Speaking of his time at seriously confronting their past”), Newton’s French Vogue, the man once named “the King of Kink” photography would draw deeply on the said: “Who else would have published these nudes or the decadence of Weimar-era Berlin. Just check crazy and sexually charged fashion photographs which out his pictures Woman into Man, Lighting I would submit to the editor-in-chief ?” Controversy a Cigarette for Vogue in 1979, or Roselyne in Arcangues, France from 1975. These same followed Newton throughout his career, but he always years saw him work with famous models insisted his images were intended to empower women. such as Jerry Hall and perhaps his greatest In 1975, Newton held his first solo exhibition in Paris muse, Charlotte Rampling. with his most famous series of photographs, Big Nudes. His work throughout the following decades It would later be published as one of his three coffee continued to influence everyone from Mario table books, alongside White Women in 1976 and Testino to Ellen von Unwerth. “I think Newton Sleepless Nights in 1978. While he was best known for his nudes, one of the most is interesting because he uses technique, but ultimately it is the story and the models and famous photographs in the Amsterdam exhibition is of the idea that is more important in his work, androgynous actress Vibeke Knudsen in an Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking dinner jacket and wide-leg trousers. and what keeps the pictures from becoming 28
démodé. Techniques date very fast,” said Von Unwerth. But when Newton died at 83, he left a legacy that reached beyond photography, with Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski two of the filmmakers to have been influenced by him. Author J.G. Ballard said of © 1975 Warner Bros Newton: “I think of him as a figurative artist who uses the medium of photography, and his access to gorgeous women, expensive gowns, and exotic locations, to create a unique imaginative world.” As creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford used a series of Newton’s photographs of women in body braces as the inspiration for a line of jewellery: “I was very aware of his twisted sexual fantasies as I was growing up in the 1970s,” he said. “Every one of them has some sort of debauched setting and the subtlest layers of meaning. It was shocking, stunning and nauseating – but gave the sensation of the utmost glamour. That buzz. That, to me, became fashion.” It was perhaps Vogue editor Anna Wintour who described Newton’s legacy best shortly after he died: “The Helmut Newton woman has become part of the vocabulary of fashion photography. Like a great designer, he didn’t waiver from his point of view. Fashion would change, but Helmut’s vision didn’t.” WORDS ANDY THOMAS Helmut Newton: A Retrospective is at Foam, Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS Amsterdam, from 17 June foam.org
STANLEY KUBRICK: BARRY LYNDON “Anyone who has ever been privileged to direct a film,” said Stanley Kubrick, accepting an award in 1997, “knows that, although it can be like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car at an amusement park, when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal the feeling.” Kubrick got it right more often than most. He directed a relatively small number of features, 13 in all, during a career spanning five decades, but his strike rate was unblemished by a single turkey. From his 1953 debut, the anti-war Fear and Desire, through his 1999 swansong, Eyes Wide Shut, every one of Kubrick’s movies was a winner, Spartacus, Lolita,
Dr Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining among them. Although it won four Oscars and two
BAFTAs, Barry Lyndon, which Kubrick wrote, produced and directed in 1975, has slipped through the cracks a little and has rarely been seen on the big screen over the past couple of decades. An adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon, about the exploits of an 18th-century Irish adventurer, the film stars Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson as the chief protagonists. Next month the movie will get UK-wide re-release by the British Film Institute – appropriately enough, as Kubrick hated Hollywood and lived in Britain from 1961 until his death in 1999. Coinciding with Barry Lyndon’s re-release is an exhibition, Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick, on show at London’s Somerset House this summer. Programmed by Mo’Wax founder James Lavelle, a longtime Kubrick fan, the exhibition will present artworks, films and music inspired by Kubrick. WORDS CHRIS MAY
The film Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick has been re-released by the BFI and is out in selected UK cinemas from 26 July bfi.org.uk The exhibition Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick is at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2 from 30 June somersethouse.org.uk J &
B r i e f JOHN CARPENTER: LOST THEMES II “Most people have a movie in their head… So, my album is to score that for you. Turn down the lights, put the album on and let that movie in your head go and I’ll be the music for it.” So said John Carpenter in an interview last year with Uncut about his debut LP Lost Themes. A year on he returned to the studio again for the follow-up, Lost Themes II, which he is currently touring in his first ever live shows. “This is the first music that I’ve done that has nothing to do with image,” he explained. “It has to do simply with the music and the joy of playing and improvising.” It’s an interesting new chapter for a director and composer whose electronic music has always been so closely associated with his films. From the trepidation in his famous theme for Halloween to the brooding menace of The Thing, onto the driving space disco of Assault on Precinct 13, Carpenter’s scores are as central to his films as those of Bernard Herrmann for Alfred Hitchcock. But in creating his own scores, Carpenter is perhaps the ultimate auteur of the 20th century. Raised in Kentucky, Carpenter was brought up on the classical music of his music professor father. But it was the sounds of the cinema that really grabbed the teenager’s attention in the late 1950s and 1960s. He learned from masters of suspense such as Herrmann and Dimitri Tiomkin. Other formative influences were the electronic soundtracks to The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet, and the Hammer scores of James Bernard. “His Quatermass and X the Unknown scores are the greatest,” he told Joseph Burnett from The Quietus in 2012. One of the biggest things he learned from Bernard was that “the horror element in movie scoring comes from mood over complexity”. And it is the mood of Carpenter’s films that have made them so iconic. His best known is Halloween, released in 1978, the fourth feature film that he had written, directed and scored. Ranking alongside the theme to Star Wars and the shower scene in Psycho, the main theme of Carpenter’s horror classic is one of the most 30
John Carpenter and Alan Howarth composing a film score, early 1980s
recognised in American film history. Speaking in 1999 on its 21st anniversary, Mark Kermode explained the foundation of the film. “Halloween had a ruthless simplicity. Not least in its plot, which consisted of the epitome of evil Michael Myers, returning to the town where he’d first made his mark as a child, and attempting over the course of one long night to kill a bunch of people. No rhyme, no reason, no motive – just fear.” Carpenter’s low-budget horror tapped into something deep within small town suburban American psyche and proved hugely influential. WORDS ANDY THOMAS John Carpenter’s international music tour Lost Themes II runs until autumn 2016, including performances at Release the Bats festival in Manchester, 28-29 October, and London, 31 October theofficialjohncarpenter.com
JUN TAKAHASHI: UNDERCOVER Japanese designer Jun Takahashi was barely seven years old when punk was born. But in 1989, while a student at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, he was lead singer with tribute band the Tokyo Sex Pistols. In 1990, with fellow student Ichinose Kobo, he set up
Norman Walsh developed the Tornado in 1983 due to the demanding market of athletes competing in major marathons and races across the globe, most notably the 1983 London Marathon. The shoe featured an ultra-lightweight upper, grounded to the iconic Vibram outsole with extra EVA cushioning in the midsole to combat the strenuous use and offer extra comfort.
B r i e f what would become the Undercover clothing label, which in its early years owed a considerable debt to Vivienne Westwood’s mid-1970s work and has gone on to forge a singular blend of couture values and street credibility. “When I started, I wanted to make punk elegant,” Takahashi told the Lookbook and postcard artwork Business of Fashion website for autumn/winter 1994-95 Photograph Hiroshi Noguchi last year. “It was natural for me to interpret music or movies that I grew up with, that shaped me. I was always interested in rebellion. To me, punk means a spirit that questions and abolishes conventional ideas. That is my fundamental principle. You can apply the principle to fashion design. It depends on each season, but I instil punk interpretation into my designs in many ways – for example, by fusing two contradicting elements or applying techniques that are generally considered taboo.” Undercover took off in 1993, when Takahashi co-founded his first retail outlet, Nowhere, with his friend Nigo, who went on to form clothing brand A Bathing Ape. Punk continues to inform Takahashi’s aesthetic – “We make noise, not clothes” is Undercover’s motto – although the brand’s style has moved far beyond its earliest incarnation. “I am interested in everything,” says Takahashi. “If it makes sense to me, whether it’s a doll, or art, or furniture, I will do it. But I still make mistakes. And it’s fine, because they make me improve. We’re human beings – perfection is not cool.” Undercover’s history is chronicled in a sumptuously produced and lavishly illustrated book published to celebrate the brand’s 25th anniversary. WORDS CHRIS MAY The book Undercover is out on 12 July rizzoliusa.com
WILL CARRUTHERS: PLAYING THE BASS WITH THREE LEFT HANDS In the book Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands, Will Carruthers recounts the highs and lows as a member of groups such as Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. When not playing with these influential bands in the 1980s and 1990s, he worked at various building sites and factories, as told in his previous publication, Book of Jobs. “I got 32
into the building work through being in bands because it’s flexible,” he tells me from his home in Berlin. “It worked for me as a musician because you could come back off tour or making a record and you could still have a job. So when any aspiring musician asks me for advice, I tell them to get yourself a trade, because it’s hard to make a living out of music, particularly now.” Raised in the small town of Rugby in the west Midlands, Carruthers’ first job was in a sheet metal factory in Birmingham. His horizons were broadened through the heady sounds of psychedelic music. “It was a fabulous world that was something beyond the mundanity of the life we were being offered,” he says. “And I always had a desperation to feel differently.” Playing the bass on a Gibson Thunderbird, he joined Jason Pierce and Peter Kember (better known as Sonic Boom) in Spacemen 3 to record their third LP, Playing with Fire. The neo psychedelia of that 1989 album was recorded as acid house swept across England. “I felt like all this stuff was collected in a desperate corner trying to think its way out of this dreadful Thatcherite fucking mire we were all being dragged down into,” he says. “But Spacemen 3 were also very different than anything else around. There wasn’t a scene for that kind of band and that was attractive. They were great and I used to see them before I joined at the Reverberation Club and all that. But playing with them was the best time. The music itself was profound, as was its effect on me. It was a positive thing for me to play music at that time, because I was pretty self-destructive.” It’s a time Carruthers has had to return to in the new book. “I had some great times playing with them, but it was never an easy band to be in,” he says. “It was quite a heavy experience. We were young and dealing with some pretty serious things. And the split was pretty uncomfortable.” After Spacemen 3 broke up, he joined Jason Pierce in Spiritualized and went on to play with a host of bands, including Spectrum. But looking back at his 30 years in music was not always a comfortable experience for Carruthers. “It was funny going back over it all because there are some parts of those times that I would rather not remember,” he says. “But it was kind of valuable to put things in the past so that was really good for me. The whole
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thing though is basically me looking back at the absurdity of my own life. It’s also really a manual for keeping going.” Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands is his third publication after Book of Jobs and a poetry collection, Spoon for the Air, both self-published in limited numbers. “I always wrote when I was younger, but I started more seriously about 10 years ago when I started scribbling poetry down in desperation,” he says. “And then a couple of years ago I decided to start making books myself.” Spoon for the Air saw him study the art of bookbinding. “I learned it from YouTube, which was a really gruelling way to learn. It took me about two months,” he says. “I had an old Ikea chopping board and cannibalised some old furniture to make the spine clamps. The only specialist equipment I had was something called a bone for helping you fold paper. My time working in factories and on building sites came in handy for that. The ability to do really repetitive tasks really worked for me when it came to making all those books.” He repeated the process for Book of Jobs, which also included some of his lino prints. “I never really considered myself to be much of an artist but I found some old lino-cutting tools here in Berlin,” he says. “I enjoy the process, I really like carving. There is something really satisfying about making books.” So is
the process more important than the finished product in some ways? “Isn’t it always?” he says. “It’s nice to have a grasp of the whole process. To know what kind of paper to use and all of that is really what interests me. What I like about books is they are a really good archival format. They are tried and trusted. I have books that are over 100 years old and they seem to do pretty well compared with some of the digital stuff that I have.” The years of constant touring (most recently with the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dead Skeletons) have taken their toll. “Going on tour and playing bass is not an option for me any more, as I’ve started to go deaf,” he says. “But to be honest after all these years of touring it’s kind of lost its attraction. If I ever start to feel bad about not being able to do it any more, I just remember getting in a van and driving for eight hours and the long hours of eating crisps.” It’s left him to follow other creative paths. “I love the art, it’s a different discipline to making music and there is something calming about making it,” he says. “And it’s the same with writing and making the books. If I get stuck into one thing too much it starts J &
B r i e f to drive me a bit mad. It’s a bit contrary to popular opinion because you are supposed to be a specialist. That is something I’ve never understood. Just look at William Blake.” WORDS ANDY THOMAS PHOTOGRAPH JON MORTIMER
The book Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands by Will Carruthers is out on 18 August faber.co.uk
PELÉ: BIRTH OF A LEGEND This summer, the early life and teenage triumph of the footballer christened Edson Arantes do Nascimento will be brought to the silver screen in a new biopic, Pelé: Birth of a Legend. Directed by the Zimbalist brothers – Jeff and Michael, who have documented Brazilian life and culture before with Favela Rising, and a study of the Rio carnival – it will tell the story of how a 17-year-old-boy (named after US inventor Thomas Edison) emerged from the streets of Três Corações, southeast Brazil, signed for Santos FC at 15 and, just two years later, helped take his nation to their first World Cup triumph in Stockholm in 1958. Becoming the youngest player ever to play in a World Cup Final, he overcame a pre-tournament injury to score two goals in Brazil’s 5-2 win against host Sweden. It was the first of three World Cup Final victories in which Pelé starred, culminating in his home country winning and retaining the Jules Rimet trophy in 1970 – surrounded by the team that would go on to be warmly remembered as the ‘Boys from Brazil’. The number 10 Pelé wore throughout his career became as iconic as he was. The previous incumbent of that shirt at his first club, local hero José Vasconcelos, was quoted as saying “Number 10 at Santos was indisputably mine. Until the arrival of a little black boy with stick-like legs who entered history as Pelé”. Throughout this time, the person who acquired the nickname of Pelé as a schoolboy – the roots of which have never really been cleared up, even by Pelé himself; it has no meaning in Portuguese – became a genuine
global sporting icon. Muhammad Ali is arguably the only other athlete with whom he could be compared. Ali was on hand on 1 October 1977 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey – along with the likes of Mick Jagger, Pelé’s great friend and rival Bobby Moore and 77,000 fans – when Pelé played for his first club, Santos, for one half, and his last, New York Cosmos, for the other, in his last ever game. After the match, the heavyweight champ was quoted as saying “now there are two of the greatest”. This new film of his life (featuring acclaimed Brazilian singer and actor Seu Jorge playing Pelé’s father Dondinho, a former player himself) is not the first time Pelé has been seen as an © Dico Filme, LLC artistic and cultural great as much as a heroic sportsman. In the same year he retired, an eponymous French documentary was released, featuring a stellar soundtrack by fellow Brazilian superstar Sérgio Mendes. Pelé can even be heard singing on a couple of tracks, including the theme tune. In 1981, the Hollywood stalwart John Huston cast and directed him as his hero (with a host of other professional players littering his pitch, and Sylvester Stallone in goal) in the Second World War prison camp drama Escape to Victory, which climaxed with Pelé recreating his signature skill, the overhead kick. Perhaps the greatest endorsement to the sheer importance and presence of Pelé comes from Andy Warhol, who in 1977 included him as the only footballer in his Athletes series. “Pelé is one of the few who contradicted my theory,” observed Warhol at the time. “Instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.” WORDS MARK WEBSTER The film Pelé: Birth of a Legend is out now in cinemas worldwide and on demand ifcfilms.com J &
B r i e f WOOLRICH JAPAN: CAPSULE COLLECTION It may be the oldest outdoor-wear company in the US – founded in 1830, more than two decades before Levi Strauss – but family firm Woolrich has lately been bringing some imaginative and fresh brand collaborations to the market. Most of these have been designed to emphasise the company’s place in America’s pioneer tradition. In 2014, for instance, Woolrich teamed up with craft-beer company Dogfish Head Brewery to release Pennsylvania Tuxedo, a pale ale infused with spruce tips foraged from pine forests in Woolrich’s home state. At a hefty 8.5 per cent alcohol, the ale would likely find favour with the early 19th-century loggers and lumberjacks of backcountry Pennsylvania, to whose memory it was dedicated. Woolrich’s latest collaboration looks beyond Americana to embrace modern Japanese outdoor-wear design. Shinsuke Kojima, the creative director of the Tokyo-based Kaptain James, founder of The New Order magazine, wears jacket, jeans and shirt by Woolrich Japan Capsule Collection; T-shirt and hat, model’s own.
Hayato, TV director, wears jacket, trousers and shirt by Woolrich Japan Capsule
Collection; trainers and glasses, model’s own
Sunshine label, has produced new spins on Woolrich’s classic Jungle jacket and Mountain parka. Kojima’s design influences combine American outdoor wear, workwear and military wear traditions, and the form-follows-function aesthetic forged by Italian designer Massimo Osti with Stone Island and CP Company. Kojima defines Kaptain Sunshine’s customers as “contemporary adventurers” and aims to make garments that are as multi-functional and comfortable as they are easy on the eye. His capsule collection for Woolrich hits the same spot. Pennsylvania sake anyone? PHOTOGRAPHS MARTIN HOLTKAMP STYLING KUMIKO KOBAYASHI WORDS CHRIS MAY MODELS JAMES OLIVER AND HAYATO ONISHI The Woolrich Japan capsule collection is out in August woolrich.eu J &
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B r i e f PETER BEARD: LAST WORD IN PARADISE
photographer Peter Beard is without doubt the most intensely of what was then visceral photographer of African wildlife and rural known as the jet people to emerge since the early 1970s. When Hunter S. set. Salvador Dali, Thompson was perfecting gonzo journalism in the pages Ava Gardner, of Rolling Stone, Beard was developing a photographic Pablo Picasso, equivalent. Like Thompson, his work was raw, Andy Warhol and revolutionary and exploding with his personality. Beard’s the bullfighter photographs of lions, rhinos, hippos and crocodiles, the El Cordobés prints embellished with blood smears and scrawled were among his marginalia, catch the animals either in full-tilt, ferocious friends. Around charge or seconds earlier, when they first notice him 1970, he became and are assessing whether he represents a threat or a part of the Machine in the Garden, photograph meal. The grainy quality of many of the shots suggests Rolling Stones’ taken in 1972 and artwork created in they were taken at a distance, but close enough to put inner circle, 2015 © Peter Beard, courtesy of Beard in mortal danger. He frequently had to shin up hanging out with Peter Beard Company trees to avoid attacks, and in 1996 almost died after he Mick and Bianca was gored by an elephant. His photographs of women Jagger at Warhol’s summer retreat in the have a similarly feral quality, shown to powerful effect Hamptons on Long Island. In 1972, Rolling in his collection Nomade (Galeries Lafayette, 2000) and, Stone magazine commissioned Beard and most recently, his Pirelli Calendar 2009. the writer Truman Capote to cover the Stones’ Beard was born into a wealthy New York banking famously sybaritic Exile on Main Street tour dynasty, whose founding fortune had been acquired of the US – during which Beard took his much-reproduced portrait of a strippedMontauk Diary Page, 1976 © Peter Beard, courtesy of Peter Beard Company to-the-waist Keith Richards backstage. How far Beard was an initiate of the band’s druggy milieu is anybody’s guess. In 1974, he told New York’s The Village Voice: “Back in 1963, years before I took any mind-altering substances, Dali said to me: ‘If you ever do drugs, don’t tell anybody.’” In 1975, Beard spent the summer with Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her Greek shipping magnate husband, Aristotle Onassis, on Onassis’s private holiday island, Skorpios. Beard has always been reluctant to discuss his work in technical or aesthetic terms. Photography is simply something he feels compelled to do, partly for its own sake, partly to help preserve traditional African culture and fauna. He throws himself into each project and dislikes intellectualising during the great westward-expansion of America’s rail it. In the interview with The Village Voice, network in the early 19th century. After leaving Yale Beard said: “A lot of it is just blind chance. University in 1960, Beard dodged the family firm on And I always hope for really good accidents. Wall Street, and began dividing his time between New Sometimes there’s nothing better than a bad York and Kenya, a place he had fallen in love with during exposure.” Beard went on to say that his best a family holiday in 1955. A self-taught photographer, he photographs grew out of a mix of “Nikons, always travelled with a loaded camera. Leicas and luck – technology, timing, access, By the mid-1960s, Beard was a member and court accident, psychology, perseverance, pure J &
B r i e f coincidence and common sense.” WORDS CHRIS MAY The exhibition Peter Beard: Last Word in Paradise is at Guild Hall Museum, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, New York, from 18 June guildhall.org
STEVEN SPIELBERG: BFI SEASON In an era when the studio system is a distant blackand-white memory and the big screen is dominated by the franchise blockbuster, one man continues to plough a filmic furrow that represents classic – or perhaps mythic – Hollywood. Steven Spielberg was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18 December 1946. The family Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last were living Crusade, 1989 Still courtesy of Park Circus/ in Phoenix, Paramount Arizona, when Spielberg was tasked with getting his photography merit badge in the boy scouts. “My dad’s still camera was broken, so I asked my scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father’s movie camera,” he once recalled. “He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western. I made it and I got my merit badge. And that’s how it all started.” The Western is just one of the many classic film genres that still influence Spielberg’s work. It was his love of the Western that led to one of his longest working relationships, with composer John Williams, who has scored all but one of his big screen films. The partnership began on Spielberg’s cinematic debut, 1974’s The Sugarland Express. Williams told the LA Times in 2012 that he met the fledgling film director, fresh out of cutting his teeth on American TV series such as Marcus Welby, M.D. and Columbo, over a “Martini lunch [and] it was like going with a teenager who’d never ordered wine before. [But] he seemed to know more 42
about my Steven Spielberg on the set of music than Jaws, 1975 Photograph courtesy I did.” of the BFI The lengthy, powerful and extraordinarily successful collaboration between Williams and Spielberg has been replicated with a number of others during the director’s career. His work with George Lucas has made them the most powerful movie men of their generation, and there are many actors with whom Spielberg has developed a bond that has propelled them into the Hollywood stratosphere. Richard Dreyfuss’s career received an almost unbeatable jump-start when he appeared in 1975’s Jaws, then two years later, Close Encounters of the Third Kind – the two films that really established Spielberg as an industry heavy hitter. Dreyfuss told The Irish Times in 2014: “You wouldn’t be able to tell who was the authority figure if you walked on the set [of Jaws]. By Close Encounters he was like General Patton. Steven never raised his voice but if you were a department head and you screwed up he would look hard at you. That person would quail. He was a prince before you had ever heard of him.” Spielberg’s various projects with Tom Hanks also helped transform the stand-up comic with actorly aspirations into one of the most important men in the big and small screen worlds. They first worked together when Spielberg produced an early Hanks star vehicle, 1986’s The Money Pit, and in 2001 they became production partners with their TV mini series Band of Brothers – which helped the pioneering cable channel HBO kick into overdrive in the process. Spielberg is now returning to his most heartfelt and successful franchise, the Indiana Jones films, due to reach theatres in 2019. Harrison Ford has recently talked about how excited he is to be pulling on the familiar
PARIS / SEPTEMBER 2-6, 2016 PARIS NORD VILLEPINTE
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THE LEADING DECORATION SHOW CONNECTING THE INTERIOR DESIGN & LIFESTYLE COMMUNITY WORLDWIDE.
INFO@SAFISALONS.FR SAFI ORGANISATION, A SUBSIDIARY OF ATELIERS D’ART DE FRANCE AND REED EXPOSITIONS FRANCE / TRADE ONLY / DESIGN © BE-POLES - IMAGE © DR - ZIMINDMITRY
B r i e f fedora once again: “Oh yeah, a character that has a history and a potential, rollicking good movie ride for the audience, Steven Spielberg as a director – what’s not to like.” WORDS MARK WEBSTER A Steven Spielberg film season is at the BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1 during June and July bfi.org.uk Spielberg’s film The BFG is out in UK cinemas on 22 July waltdisneystudios.com
NEAL HEARD: A LOVER’S GUIDE TO FOOTBALL SHIRTS Neal Heard’s lavish tome Trainers, the definitive bible for lovers of classic, rare and vintage casual footwear, was first issued in 2003, and it has since been updated in 2008 and 2015 – testament to the unerring passion for the training shoe in all its myriad forms. Heard’s passion for trainers began in the early 1980s. “When I was like everybody else, quite frankly, but sort of five years younger than the fellas who started it,” he tells me. “Following my elders. And that’s when I got the trainers bug. On the terraces. With the casuals. As what you might call a ‘friend’ of the firm.” As “an old trainer head” he was asked in the early 1990s to put some of that love and knowledge to practical use. “I was approached by Fraser Moss, who is from Newport like me, and he asked if I would like to come on some trips with him,” says Heard. Moss is the man who would go on to form the style-shaping fashion label YMC in 1995, but at this stage he had spotted something of a trend, starting the hunt for deadstock classic trainers. A massive market in Japan and beyond was desperate to replace what Heard describes as the “ugly” new trainers that were being designed. Heard has continued to pursue his labour of love with a missionary zeal, as much as anything else because “I like to think I am just as interested in historical perspective as I am anything else”. “It’s the stories that
are told around them that are so important,” he says. But Heard is equally passionate about innovation, and is working with the classic sports label Le Coq Sportif on a new range of footwear and clothing that will hit the market at the beginning of next year. But before that he returns to the roots of it all by taking a look out from the terraces and onto the field of play with his new book A Lover’s Guide to Football Shirts. Scouring the world for outstanding examples of the genre, Heard has honed his quest down to “135 shirts – the most obscure and the most interesting”, ranging from the England 1966 shirt to Napoli’s Mars top. “These shirts have a cultural impact, J &
Authentic yet contemporary British tailoring combining history, craftsmanship and attention to detail. www.realmandempire.com
B r i e f which is what makes them really interesting,” says behind around 50 arson attacks on Norwegian Heard. “In the book, there are chapters detailing the churches, including the totemic Fantoft Stave crossover of certain shirts with music, with fashion and Church in Bergen. Then, in 1991, singer Per even with shirts as a ‘Dead’ Ohlin Mayhem members Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg, Per ‘Dead’ Ohlin, political statement. committed Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth and Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud, 1989 [The late former Brazil suicide and, in Photograph Kristen Bye captain] Sócrates used 1993, guitarist the Corinthians club Øystein jersey as a vehicle to get ‘Euronymous’ people to vote and to push Aarseth was for democracy. His murdered by ‘Democracia’ movement’s his friend and logo was literally printed former bandmate right there onto the shirt!” Varg ‘Count WORDS MARK WEBSTER Grishnackh’ PHOTOGRAPH ORLANDO GILI Vikernes. All this is recorded in The book A Lover’s Guide words and To Football Shirts by Neal Heard is out now photographs in Stubberud’s memoir. aloversguide.co.uk “I think Mayhem were akin to Nirvana in a way,” says Moore. “Young people, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, wanting to express THE DEATH ARCHIVES: MAYHEM 1984-94 themselves through their love of rock’n’roll. Murder, suicide, church torching and cannibalism – it With Mayhem it was heavy metal music and is all there in the story of black-metal pioneers Mayhem. some punk rock. Punk rock was reality and And now the Norwegian band’s early years have been heavy metal was fantasy. They responded to chronicled in the lavishly produced, photograph-packed British bands like Venom, who were kind of hardback The Death Archives: Mayhem 1984-94, put ragged and trashy and goofy and having a lot together by bassist of fun with the imagery of heavy metal that Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ dealt with nihilism and paganism. They Stubberud, the only grasped the pathos and humour in this. It was surviving member of a curious phenomenon because Mayhem were the original line-up. living in a very well-to-do country. But there The book is published was an attitude that Norway had been taken by Ecstatic Peace over by a corporate, moneyed influence from Library, the art America. I think they had a sense of pride and culture house about where they lived and its history of co-founded by ex-Sonic paganism and they thought it was being Youth singer and threatened by global capitalism and, above all, guitarist Thurston by Christianity. They had a deep fascination Moore and art book with authentic Nordic culture.” editor Eva Prinz. I ask Moore if he sees a connection between Mayhem took their Mayhem’s decibel-intense music and the name from ‘Mayhem seemingly antithetical, understated jazz Mayhem bassist Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud Photograph Øyvind Ihlen with Mercy’, a track coming out of Norway through musicians on British metal trio such as Nils Petter Molvær, Jan Bang, Arild Venom’s album Welcome to Hell. Anti-Christian and Andersen and Bugge Wesseltoft. “I find a lot pro-pagan, Mayhem debuted with the cassette-only of art music coming out of Scandinavia reflects release Pure Fucking Armageddon in 1986. With the band ideas of coldness and distance,” says Moore. as its lords of misrule, the impact of the black-metal “I sense this as a prevailing aesthetic whenever scene grew rapidly. Though the group were not directly I’m passing through. I think it has to do with involved, Mayhem followers were said to have been the proximity of nature and its vastness. The J &
B r i e f music projects an idea of stillness, if not of isolationism. And I think Mayhem with their rambunctious, hairier, more rowdy sound is a reaction to that feeling. It’s drawing attention to itself in a more bedraggled way.” WORDS CHRIS MAY The book The Death Archives: Mayhem 1984-94 is out on 6 June ecstaticpeacelibrary.com A book signing event featuring Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud, Thurston Moore and co-author Svein Strømmen is at Rough Trade East, Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 on 2 June roughtrade.com
HUNTER BARNES: 15 YEARS For the past 15 years, Hunter Barnes has been photographing people on the margins of American society. Among his subjects are bikers, lowriders, Baptist snake handlers, Native Americans and prison inmates. Barnes never sets up his shots, preferring One Boss, Portland, Oregon, 2004 them to be naturalistic Photograph © Hunter Barnes and of-the-moment, which brings a dimension to his work that is absent from much subculture depiction. To encourage his subjects not to act up when he is at work, Barnes spends time getting to know them before he brings his camera out. “Certain situations may need just a few weeks,” he says. “Others can take months. When I photographed the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho, I spent around four months doing sweat lodges with them before I ever took a photograph, until I thought I understood them and they understood me and there was a trust there. By Low Low, Chimayo, New Mexico, 2003 Photograph © Hunter Barnes then I had good friends among the elders and they just took me in. The last photographer who had been invited to live on the reservation was 48
Dreamer, 2004 Photograph © Hunter Barnes
Edward S. Curtis in 1912, who also got to know the tribe before he began photographing them. It’s like with everything else, if you get to know the people, and allow some time, possibilities blossom. There’s no shortcut.” Has Barnes observed a common thread linking such seemingly disparate groups as bikers and snake handlers? “That people are people,” he says. “They all have families. They have grandmas. You have dinner with them. One thing I’ve learned, and I’ve spent time in a lot of different circles, is that the concerns of everyday life are common to mostly everyone. It’s no different wherever you go. For me, what I do is about showing the people who’ve been kind enough to invite me into their homes in the right light. If the people in the photographs are happy with them, then I’m happy with them and I think they’re good things to share.” WORDS ANDY THOMAS The exhibition Hunter Barnes: 15 Years is at Serena Morton Gallery, Ladbroke Grove, London W10 from 3-23 July serenamorton.com A book of Hunter Barnes’ photographs, Roadbook, is out now reelartpress.com
J O C K S & N E R D S
P R E T T Y
G R E E N
Pretty Green x Hendrix Photograph Dean Chalkley Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Words Joe Lloyd Photographic Assistant Chris Chudleigh Model La Touché aka Mr Hat, hatter
James Marshall Hendrix may
Pete Townshend and Eric
have been born in the US, but
Clapton. The crowd had never
Jimi Hendrix was made in
heard guitar playing like this
the UK. It was in London in
before, and a review in the
1966 that Hendrix formed
Record Mirror was titled ‘Mr
the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Phenomenon’. Six months
with British musicians Noel
later, the band’s debut LP,
Redding and Mitch Mitchell.
Are You Experienced, reached
And it was in London that
number two in the UK charts,
Hendrix fully developed his
held off only by Sgt Pepper’s
technique, driving rock music
Lonely Hearts Club Band.
into the firmament. One night looms large in
But music wasn’t all that Hendrix found in London.
the legend: 25 November
His distinctive image –
1966 at the Bag O’Nails
vibrant floral and paisley
nightclub in central London’s
shirts, dogtooth trousers,
Soho. The Experience played
extravagantly brocaded coats
to an audience including
– was formed in the vintage
John Lennon, Mick Jagger,
shops of Chelsea’s King’s Road. He would frequently wear an 1850s hussar uniform over his bare chest, a garment he purchased from countercultural boutique I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet. His fashion was as liberating and eclectic as his music. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hendrix’s arrival in London, Pretty Green has developed a singular collection that pays tribute to his talent and style. Unique prints have been developed from Hendrix’s own garments and given a contemporary spin, while a corresponding set of accessories revives psychedelic iconography.
STONESFIELD Photographs Mark Mattock
NORMAN WALSH FOOTWEAR X SUNSPEL TRAINERS Norman Walsh Footwear has revisited its Ensign trainer for a collaboration with Sunspel. The shoe was first used by the Bolton Harriers team for the 1981 New York Marathon. Out end of July
L o c k e r
MONCLER GAMME BLEU JACKET Monclerâ€™s London store opens on New Bond Street in the autumn J &
MURDOCK SHAVE GIFT SET Created for father’s day, Murdock’s How to Shave set includes a certificate for a wet-shaving lesson, a straight razor, and travel-sized pre-shave oil, shave cream and post-shave balm. Out 19 June OLVERUM TRAVEL SET Olverum bath oil’s unique formula was first created in 1931 and is favoured by athletes and luxury-seekers alike. It is now available in a travel set, including three 15ml bottles. Out now
L o c k e r
KOVAL DRY GIN Chicago spirit distillery Koval, highly decorated in 2015, releases its first dry gin. Out now
PUMA X FC HERZOGENAURACH The German brand Puma has collaborated with FC Herzogenaurach, a football team from the brand’s hometown. The collection features footwear and apparel in a camouflaged take on the team’s dark blue kit colour. Out 27 August
ORLEBAR BROWN SWIM SHOE Orlebar Brown has created two shoe styles that can be worn in water. The Keon features a teflon-coated toe panel and water-permeable insock, while the Larson has an elasticated heel panel and quick-drain insole. Out in July J &
L o c k e r TIMEX IRONMAN SPORTS WATCHES Available in a new range of colours, Timexâ€™s Ironman Sleek 50 Sport features a 50-lap memory, 100m water resistance, a countdown timer. The Ironman Run 50, for the elite sportsman, also includes a heart rate monitor. Out now
BELSTAFF MAGNUM BAG Belstaff has partnered with the award-winning Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin on a functional travel bag made from brushed canvas. Out mid-July
AQUASCUTUM BOGART COAT Aquascutum has partnered with the Bogart Estate to create a trench coat in the style worn by Humphrey Bogart in films such as Casablanca. Out now
GRENSON ARCHIVE BOOTS To celebrate its 150th anniversary, Grenson recreated boots and shoes from its archive. The collection includes a toe-cap Derby boot from 1944, made for the war effort under a government contract. Out late July
IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT I-1 INSTANT CAMERA Eight years after the Impossible Project rescued and restored the last original Polaroid factory in Holland, it has now released its own instant camera that can be connected to a smartphone through an iOS application. Out now BELL AND ROSS AERONAVALE WATCH The Aeronavale series by Bell and Ross features two models with 43mm cases – one is a chronograph – both in all-blue with gold details. Out late July 56
L o c k e r BENTLEY BENTAYGA With a top speed of 187mph and tow weight of 3,500kg, the Bentayga is both fast and powerful, and is Bentley’s first ever SUV. Out now
DUNHILL EYEWEAR Now divided into four lines, Dunhill’s latest eyewear collection includes opticals for the first time, created in association with Italian eyewear brand De Rigo Vision. Out now MACKINTOSH DENIM Included in Mackintosh’s ready-to-wear collection for 2016 is a new denim range, which includes a coat, jacket, shirt and jeans. Out now
STUTTERHEIM BONDED COTTON COLLECTION Stutterheim has developed a new waterproof bonded cotton, adding to the brand’s signature rubberised coats. Out in August ALESSI FRUITBOWL Included in Alessi’s Dine Alfresco collection is the Vime centrepiece, made from rattan and designed by Fratelli Campana. Out now J &
L o c k e r MOYNAT CORSAIRE BAG The Corsaire bag by the Paris-based brand Moynat features a frame made entirely of layers of leather, allowing for a supple body. It features the brand’s patented bridge handles and has two inner zipped pockets.Out now
BARACUTA G23 RAMSEY COAT To celebrate the 50th anniversary since the England football team won the World Cup, Baracuta has reissued its G23 Ramsey Coat – specifically designed for the team in 1966. Out mid-June POLO RALPH LAUREN WIMBLEDON This zip-up top is included in Polo Ralph Lauren’s collection for Wimbledon 2016. Out now
CHAMPION X BEAMS Champion has collaborated with the Japanese retailer Beams on a collections of sweaters, T-shirts, tracksuit bottoms and jackets – all made from a reworked version of Champion’s Reverse Weave fabric. Out late June NIKE AIR PRESTO ULTRA FLYKNIT TRAINER First released in 2000, the Nike Air Presto has been updated with the brand’s Flyknit technology and a mid-cut collar. Out now TAG HEUER FORMULA ONE JAMES HUNT WATCH To celebrate the 40th anniversary of James Hunt winning the Formula One World Championships, Tag Heur has released two James Hunt signature watches as part of its Formula One collection. Out late June 58
ALESSI CORKSCREW Included in Alessiâ€™s Dine Alfresco collection is the cast aluminium Proust Parrot corkscrew by the designer Alessandro Mendini. Out now J &
JUDY BLAME Accessories designer and stylist
came to prominence in the 1980s with a punk aesthetic using everyday objects such as buttons and bottle tops. Over the decades he has collaborated with a host of international designers, from Christopher Nemeth to Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton, as well as styling the likes of Neneh Cherry and Björk.
Portrait Mark Mattock Words Andy Thomas “The one thing I didn’t want it to be was a nostalgia-fest,” announced Judy Blame last November, speaking about his forthcoming exhibition at London’s ICA. “It’s called the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and I want to do something contemporary, using all my different tools. So it’s going to be a bit of jewellery, a bit of customising, photos – we’re finding out a way of mixing all the things together. But it will be me with a 2016 hat on, not a 1980s kind of thing.” It was in the 1980s, though, that Blame’s DIY creativity burst out of London’s post-punk scene. After running away from home in rural Devon when he was 17, he’d spent the early punk years in Manchester meeting influential friends such as Malcolm Garrett, designer of the Buzzcocks’ sleeves. At the end of 1978, he moved to London with Garrett at the birth of the new romantic scene. He was soon hanging out with the likes of Princess Julia at Covent Garden’s PX boutique, and wearing his homemade accessories to the Blitz club. In a previous ICA exhibition, A Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s to Now, one image really captured the spirit of the post-punk period. British artist Nicola Tyson had accompanied Blame and shoemaker John Moore to the muddy banks of the Thames. There under Blackfriars Bridge she photographed them scavenging for old bones, buttons and bottle tops. “I don’t know what it is about England, but we’re really good at accessories,” Blame told Iain R. Webb in The Independent in 2005. “When we haven’t got the money, we have to use our imagination. I’ve never been formally trained at anything so I didn’t have any fear about using something that wasn’t a classical jewellery material.” Blame’s recycled pieces shared much in common with the creative salvage movement, emerging during the bleakest days of Thatcher’s Britain. In the book Cut and Shut: The History of Creative Salvage, Gareth Williams describes the environment in which Blame and his contemporaries worked: “In the early 1980s, Britain seemed to be on the brink of civil war. Riots had kicked off in Brixton, Birmingham and Liverpool… Unemployment had reached 12 per cent. City centre shops were boards up,
industrial buildings sprouted shrubbery from the guttering and ‘To Let’ signs from the walls.” London club culture responded with a display of creative ingenuity. It was at Cha Cha, the club Blame co-hosted at Heaven with Michael Hardy and fellow punk renegade Scarlett Cannon, that his reclaimed jewellery (made out of everything from driftwood to coat hangers and metal chains) really started to turn heads. One of those excited by the pieces he saw was the designer Antony Price, who commissioned Blame for a catwalk show at Camden Palace. Blame’s designs were also reaching across the Atlantic thanks to Susanne Bartsch’s boutique in New York’s Soho. Fast-forward to the men’s collections in Paris in 2015 and his beautiful bricolage jewellery, made out of skeleton keys, brass buttons and leather shoelaces, is adorning Kim Jones’s autumn/winter 2015 collection for Louis Vuitton. Jones’s collection that season was a tribute to the genius of designer Christopher Nemeth. And it was alongside this pioneering deconstructionist that Blame, along with designers John Moore and Richard Torry and photographer Mark Lebon, created the House of Beauty and Culture collective in 1980s east London. The environment around the Hackney store and workshop resulted in beautifully crafted pieces that worked perfectly together – Blame’s salvaged jewellery finishing off a Nemeth post office sack jacket above a pair of John Moore square-toed shoes. It was a similarly organic process that launched Blame as one of England’s pioneering stylists of the 1980s, working with the likes of Ray Petri’s Buffalo collective for The Face and i-D. Alongside many powerful fashion editorials, he created the ‘Buffalo Stance’ look of his friend Neneh Cherry and the cover of Bjork’s Debut in 1993, both shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. In a world where styling is often overthought, Blame strips it back to basics. Collaboration has always been key to Blame’s design ethic. It’s seen him work with everyone from Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons to Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley on their recent Marc by Marc Jacobs line. His work for Kim Jones’s Louis Vuitton collection is the latest in a series of partnerships with a big design houses, including a Paco Rabanne handbag adorned with metal keys, bottle openers, coins and buttons. It’s been quite a journey for the punk renegade, one that is to be explored through a book published by Kim Jones’s Slow Loris imprint, currently in early planning stages. Along with the ICA exhibition it serves as a fitting tribute to one of England’s true design mavericks. J &
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Why did you decide to do the ICA exhibition now? They asked me. I was a bit surprised to tell you the truth. I’d never thought of somewhere like that asking me. I knew [executive director] Gregor [Muir] a bit, but when he asked me I was a bit like, are you sure? I’m really pleased though. It’s nice because it’s on for a few months and isn’t one of these pop-up things. Also Kim Jones had asked me to do the book a couple of years ago, so I was going through a lot of things from the past. And then we did the Christopher Nemeth collection for Louis Vuitton together. And Kim is a bit of a fan so he remembers all the work and is a lot more documentary about it than me. My attitude about it is that I just did it.
interesting for me. And that’s how I’ve put together this exhibition for the ICA. I’ve gone into my archive, I’ve found things that particularly stimulate me still, and then I’ve brought some of those themes up to date.
Do you think all this 1980s nostalgia can hold people back from creating their own thing today? I do have a problem looking backwards; I’m really not a big nostalgia person. I’m one of the last of the paper, glue and scissors era, where you actually made something and wore it yourself – that’s how you used to experiment. Whereas kids experiment in a different way now. They’ve got access to more information. It’s too much information for me, but then I know where my taste is. I never stop and look back and rest on my laurels. I’m always seeing something that inspires me and kicks me off in a new direction.
When did you first starting making things? As a very young kid, I was always the one who was quite happy to be in his room drawing away or making something. I’ve got two brothers and two sisters and they would be outside with the rough and tumble and I’d be in my room drawing and dreaming. I didn’t feel like I had to go out and throw myself around and graze my knees. From a very young age, I always had an attitude that if I didn’t have something, I would make it.
You said you wanted to make the exhibition 2016 rather than 1980s. How have you done this? Looking back over my work, it’s made me realise that there are certain themes that run through what I’ve done. So I can pick up pictures of things I did 25 years ago and one of something I did last week and you can’t really tell the date on them. I’m not saying I’m repetitive, because a lot of what I do is about my environment and the time we are in. But if you look back there are certain threads that run through my work, so that was very
How does your work as an accessories designer connect to your work as a stylist? It always starts from a jewellery idea. All of my roots start from a necklace that I might have made. And then I will think, why don’t I do a shoot that uses that as a starting point. That is one of the things you will see with the ICA show. I wasn’t initially going to put a lot of the jewellery in and then I realised how important it is to my whole thought process. To physically sit there and make something.
Do you think that childlike thing has stuck with you over the years? Yes, sometimes I think my work is naïve but then that is the charm in it. And that’s because I’ve never physically been taught or trained to do anything. So I’m not coming at it from a formal point of view. I’m coming at it from an instinctive, visual way. Have you always seen the beauty in everyday objects? Always. I’ve realised that it’s never about the value of it as a material thing. I’ve always believed you make it into something of value by changing it. But I’ve never had money as my motivation. The inspiration can come from anywhere and I’ve never had blinkers on. I like to use lots of different things from all over the place and mix it up in my own way. Could you tell me more about working on Kim Jones’s Christopher Nemeth collection for Louis Vuitton? To work with Kim really wasn’t difficult because he’s very sympathetic to my ideas. Christopher is a designer who inspired him and he also knew all about my work with him. He was really coming at it from a point of knowledge. But he didn’t want to repeat the nostalgia of it either. So it was really easy. I also love working with Louis Vuitton. You also worked in Paris for Paco Rabanne. Can you tell me about that? What was so good about Paco Rabanne was that they let me go into his archive and really absorb it and to nick some of his old materials. I knew that I had to do a chain bag but anything else that came away from that was fine. So I went into the archive, spent a couple of days in the boxes, then built one of the chain bags with my vibe all over it. And then I made a necklace and a bangle and a couple more bags. It was a really good job because I didn’t know much about him, but being able to go through someone like that’s archive was great. I found I had quite a lot in common with him. Can you talk about the mid-1980s and your work with the House of Beauty and Culture? It’s been turned into legend, which is all a bit odd to those of us still left. The most important thing about that time was that there was a lot of really good camaraderie around. We met when we were all at the same level, just starting out and working out what our own vibe was. John [Moore] had just come out of college and I was doing my jewellery, then we met Nemeth, and we already knew Richard Torry and we were all at a similar level.
Judy Blame’s customised version of Paco Rabanne’s Le 69 bag, 2011 Photograph courtesy of Paco Rabanne 62
Did you create pieces with each other’s work in mind? I was doing a lot of recycled stuff and the minute I saw Nemeth’s stuff I was like, this man makes the clothes of my dreams. So it was like, let’s throw some old coins on it or whatever. It was a very fertile time.
That whole DIY environment you were working in was a continuation from punk. Can you talk about your time in Manchester? I arrived there in 1977. I’d gone to London where I thought I’d meet loads of people but I didn’t. And the only place I knew anyone was Manchester. It had a great scene of its own so I stayed. I knew I couldn’t go back to the countryside. People were friendlier than in London and then it had its own solid scene. There was a lot of stuff going on and we all went to the same things. And in Manchester, I also had some space to learn to make mistakes. What was the main thing punk did for you? I always say I never went to college but punk was like my college. It was like the musicians, many of them couldn’t really play but we still went to see them. It was so daring in a funny way. It was very much, rip it up and start again. And that is what I did. For a young lad from the countryside it was perfect. It really was the start of my life. So I had that spirit in me. And Manchester was a fucking great place to do it. Had you started making your own things by then? Only with our own appearance, that was always important. So, what colour should I have my hair this week? I didn’t know anything about fashion really though. I didn’t know anything about music or anything else, so it was a great way to find out. And luckily I had people like Malcolm [Garrett] saying, “Have you heard this record?” or “Do you know this artist?” or “I’m taking you to the cinema to see this film.”
Unpublished portrait of Judy Blame, circa 1980 Photograph Robyn Beeche
I’m one of the last of the paper, glue and scissors era, where you actually made something and wore it yourself. Kids experiment in a different way now.
You mentioned recycling. Did you feel a connection to the creative salvage movement and people like Ron Arad and Tom Dixon? I didn’t know Ron so much, although I did do a couple of things with him back in the day. I knew Tom well. He made the first clothes rail for Chris [Nemeth] out of old rusted things that he used to hang at Mark Lebon’s studio. Tom made a mad crown out of old cogs and we used to hang all the Nemeth on it. This was before the House of Beauty and Culture and people used to go to Mark’s studio to pick up a wicked jacket or whatever. That is one of the things I miss, the way people mix. They don’t really do that any more. They email, whereas back in the day we didn’t have mobile phones so you had to go to nightclubs to meet people and find out what was going on.
What do most people get wrong about punk today? They think it is a look and it isn’t. Punk is not a look – it is an attitude. They turned the look into a formula so it doesn’t shock anyone now. That’s the worst part of it. Can you tell me about your move to London with Malcolm? When we arrived it was really at the very start of the new romantic time. The guts had been kicked out of punk and it was just formula. I got the feeling with this new romantic thing that it was a bit more like the original punk when everyone wanted to be different. So I loved it, meeting [Princess] Julia and Steve Strange and all that lot. There were definitely a lot of characters, so it was great fun. And this was when you really began making the jewellery? I started making it with my friend Scarlett [Cannon] just to go out. So it was literally just to wear when we went out to the clubs. And then one night at Heaven I met Antony Price. And Antony asked me to do a show with him just from me wearing the pieces out. I didn’t think what I was wearing was very Antony Price at all. But I showed him this funny little book of Polaroids of my other pieces and he laughed while he turned every page. I got really pissed off with it, but he said, “We will do a show together.” So he pushed me to take it to the next stage with this massive show at Camden Palace. It was three nights at £7 a ticket, and it was packed. It was a really great show, very theatrical and it was a brilliant experience for me. I’d been a huge fan of Antony’s work through Roxy Music and it was great for me to do that. How did Susanne Bartsch get hold of your stuff? Again it was through the nightclubs. She came up to me and said, “Oh darling, where did you get that from?” And I was like, “Oh, I made it.” And she was a big friend of Michael [Costiff] and Gerlinde [who owned the boutique World, celebrated in a previous book by Kim Jones’s publishing house Slow Loris] so I went down J &
Ray Petri and he was really encouraging and said, “You’re good at putting clothes together Judy.” And then Terry Jones was getting i-D together. He’d seen what I was doing at the House of Beauty and Culture and liked it so he’d say, “I’ll print that.” So now with The Face and i-D there was somewhere to show these things I was putting together. There was a reason for doing it. What was your first fashion editorial? It was for i-D with Mark Lebon. We were supposed to have Jenny Howarth model for us and I was so nervous. Jenny was like a supermodel back then and I was mad about her. She’d just cropped her hair off and she looked so great in Chris’s clothes. We’d borrowed a lot of stuff from Galliano and when Jenny turned up Mark gave her the camera and said, “You take the fuckin’ pictures.” So I ended up modelling it with my friend Dave Baby and Scarlett, who I called up. And then after the weekend we took the pictures into Terry, who was expecting Jenny done by Mark. But he still printed it.
Elisabet Davidsdottir for i-D magazine, styling and head piece by Judy Blame, make-up by Sharon Dowsett and hair by Barnabé, photographed by Mark Mattock, late 1990s
to the King’s Road to meet Susanne. And she lifted out these pieces made from breeze blocks and all these great wooden beads and chains and took them for her shop in New York. Would this have been around the time of Cha Cha? Yeah. Cha Cha was great for me. Heaven made a big difference to the London nightclub scene because it was so big and so loads more people saw my stuff. I remember wearing this great big chain necklace there once and someone bought it straight off me, which was great because I had no money at the time. So to have £60 on me was great. I’ve never made loads of money but I started to get orders from shops like Maxfield in LA and Charivari in New York. And then I stated going to New York a lot through Susanne and that was a great time to be there. I used to split my time between there and London, going back and forwards. Then we went to Japan and I started to get a fanbase there. What I was making then was very handmade, so I couldn’t make tons of it. So I had to make a relationship with the stores. We never had a factory or anything because that’s not the nature of it. It’s always been handmade.
One of your most iconic shoots was Neneh Cherry for ‘Buffalo Stance’ and the Raw Like Sushi LP. What made that work so well? Neneh was not hard to do. I adore her and, as I said before, I like mixing things up. So she was like a dream person for me to work with. She had it all. She had the Swedish upbringing, the New York upbringing, the jazz, hip-hop, punk, reggae and funk. She had a similar kind of mix to me in a way. We got on like a house on fire. And when it came to the shoots it really was about mixing things up, so the hip-hop with the European look and everything. You had Ray Petri over there doing the Buffalo thing and we were all feeding off each other. And then of course we had [Jean-Baptiste] Mondino taking the shots. It just clicked. Neneh put the black bra on with gold chains and that was it. The cover of Bjork’s Debut LP is a beautiful image. Can you tell me the story behind it? My happy accidents have been some of my most enduring things. I’d only met her two days beforehand at [music producer] Nellee Hooper’s. I didn’t know anything about her, I just thought she was this sweet girl we’d gone back to Nellee’s with after the club. She knew who I was through me working with Neneh and she told me she was shooting with Mondino in Paris in a few days time. I told her I was also in Paris and she said, “I’ve never met him, so would you mind coming to help me out?” I told her, “Just pack your favourite things and I’ll help you get the pictures together with Mondino,” and Topolino, who was doing the
How much of what you do develops as you make a piece? It’s always about the shape and the volume of something. The way my eyes work is using some unexpected thing but in bulk, like the pins or the buttons or whatever. I didn’t think it was about shape, I thought the materials just always directed it, but in fact looking back on it – it’s all about the volume of it. What was your route into styling? If you go back to the House of Beauty and Culture, we were using all the things from our friends. I was really good at putting everything together – John’s shoes with Christopher’s clothes or my jewellery with Richard’s jumpers. So the styling really came along with that. I was good at visually realising it all and I guess also being the promo of it as well. I’d also met Mark Lebon when he did my picture for a feature for Tatler, so we started working together. Then I met 64
Polaroid from Neneh Cherry’s Raw Like Sushi album shoot, styling by Judy Blame, photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, 1988
J u d y make-up. Anyway she arrived at the hotel on Sunday night and the airport had lost all her luggage. So first thing on Monday morning I called Margiela and said, “Can I come over like now?” Bjork wanted to look like a little animal. So I went through and pulled out this little mohair jumper. I took it back to Mondino’s and Topolino put these two little dots under her eyes. It just clicked. The whole simplicity of it made it really fresh. You have said that it worries you that everyone takes their reference from the surface these days and they don’t go below it. There is too much surface and people don’t mind putting another layer on top of it. People aren’t very good about facing up to things any more. It’s all about distraction. You can be so easily distracted now and people don’t think beyond that. The
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world is in a mess, but they still talk about the most mundane things. And you think, yeah, but 200 babies died in Africa while you are talking about someone’s visible panty line. Why do you think there hasn’t been a major cultural response to global events? I don’t worry about it so much as being disappointed by it. But I always live in hope that there will be an underground of some sort, especially now. Some people blame the machines and maybe that’s true to some extent, but you can still use the machines. You just need an idea behind it. I guess you did it with Instagram. If you look at what I do with Instagram, it’s taking one image and putting one slogan with it, and immediately there are two points of reference. And it’s just like my editorials. When I did that shoot about pollution, everyone went, “You’re mad, you can’t do a fashion shoot about pollution.” What was that shoot? It’s one I did for i-D with Mondino. It was around the time of the Exxon Valdez oil disaster [Alaska, 1989], and all you saw on the news were these images of birds covered in oil. So I wanted to do a shoot where it looked like the models were the birds being pulled out of the sea. The thing was, they were these super sexy glamorous images, but then when you looked at them again I’d printed the facts of what was happening to the sea. And it worked. So it’s the way you project things that’s important. If you can get people to look at what you’ve done twice then you’re laughing, because you’ve got them thinking about it, instead of just flicking past it. How does a shoot differ now? You have to look at everything on a machine now, then you have to find a number for it, and then you have to work out a shoot date, and then create a storyboard. Not so much in what I do though. Also, they don’t let the people borrowing the clothes experiment enough with them. If one more PR says to me, “You’ve got to do the total look,” I just look at them like they are a mad person. Nobody I know wears a total look of anything. Before it was like, “What have we got? Throw that Galliano together with that T-shirt from Camden Market, rip that up and tie it on her head.” There’s none of that going on any more. Where do you take most of your inspiration these days? I can’t follow one path, because it could come from anything or anywhere. The news might come on or there might be a programme that sparks something. But it really can come from anywhere.
Clara Benjamin, styling and head piece by Judy Blame, photographed by Mark Mattock, late 1990s
There is too much surface and people don’t mind putting another layer on top of it. People aren’t very good about facing up to things any more. It’s all about distraction.
What have been your most rewarding projects? Going back to Japan was really nice because I hadn’t been there for 10 years. All my memories of Japan had been of my time there with Christopher [Nemeth] so I was a little bit nervous about going back. But I really found Japan exciting again. I met a lot of nice new people and I was referenced quite a lot and homaged a bit. So that was a bonus. But travel always is the bonus of the job. How do you compare your creativity today to back in the early days? Creatively I feel more bubbling today than I ever did. And maybe that’s part of the knowledge thing, with all the looking back for the book and exhibition. It’s really been interesting going through my past. I forget things, but then Kim can reference a picture I did years ago. I get a lot of that these days with young kids coming up to me and pointing to something I did as really inspiring them. I’ve had that all over the world – it could be ‘Buffalo Stance’ with Neneh or a shoot for The Face. They remember which bus they were on when they saw it and how it made them feel, but to you it was just an editorial. It’s funny. The exhibition Judy Blame: Never Again is at the ICA, the Mall, London SW1 from 29 June ica.org.uk J &
This fast and furious game is a pared-down version of basketball, with just two players who thrash it out on the court with maximum intensity. And itâ€™s rapidly spreading across the world. Photographs Janette Beckman Words Mark Webster
Andrew â€˜Spongebobâ€™ Washington and Leandro de Lima competing in the final of Fightball 02, New York, 2016
F i g h t b a l l In the US, there is nothing unusual about seeing two players alternately attacking and defending a hoop on a pole in a park, or screwed above the garage door on the driveway. This is basketball as recreation, but it is no less serious for that. However, this simple, stripped-back notion of two people going at it one on one has been developed over the past couple of years with a brand new variation on the basketball theme, in a game called Fightball. It is not only a legitimate hybrid of the game, but also purposely packaged as a thrilling new sports entertainment genre. “People love teams, but there’s always the one guy people love – the Kobe Bryant, the LeBron James,” says Bernard Bowen, head of player personnel for Fightball. “So the idea was to create a focus on the one guy, and build them into these characters.” Bowen, who is responsible for finding and developing the roster, is explaining the concept to me as his young son warms up in the famous New York Gauchos gym in the Bronx. On the walls are the names of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars such as Jamal Mashburn and Stephon Marbury. These are the elite in the sport, but what is important to Bowen about Fightball tournaments is that the players are not just the pick of the bunch, but men who have “amazing stories”. “They can all play, but these guys come from broken homes,” he says. “Some have been incarcerated. We’ve got guys from Brazil who come from the favelas. It’s their second chance at life. And we don’t discriminate. These are not your regular skill players. They
Andrew ‘Spongebob’ Washington
Malik Boothe and Andrew ‘Spongebob’ Washington
have passion, hunger, and they’re unafraid. They have nothing to lose.” A prime example is their latest surprise champion, Andrew ‘Spongebob’ Washington – so named because he once wore a pair of Spongebob Squarepants socks at a Nike tournament. “He had been playing overseas, but got caught up in some trouble: wrong place, wrong time,” says Bowen. “He spent nine months in federal prison. But he really is an amazing person. We knew he’d compete. But win it, no. And there he was, poor, he’d been evicted from his home, and in a blink of an eye, wins $100,000.” Also among Fightball’s first generation are young ex-college players who are starting to make their way in a profession that’s now a global game, with leagues around the world providing genuine careers for professional players. One of those is 25-year-old Brooklyn-born baller Tymell Murphy. When he was first asked to become a part of Fightball, “It
The players have amazing stories. Some have been incarcerated. We’ve got guys from Brazil who come from the favelas. It’s their second chance at life. They have passion, hunger, and they’re unafraid. They have nothing to lose. J &
Malik Boothe and Andrew ‘Spongebob’ Washington
It’s like boxing. Even to the extent that at the end guys are hugging, just dead from competing. Eric Williams and Andrew ‘Spongebob’ Washington
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was the word that struck me,” he tells me. “That this would be an aggressive sport that you could probably get hurt at. But when the opportunity came again I started to realise who the people were I would be dealing with – and then from talking to a couple of people in the city who had played in it, I thought, why not give it a shot?” “The simple fact is, it’s one-on-one basketball, so you have a lot of responsibility,” continues Murphy. “To stay in shape. To prepare. To focus. To carry yourself like a real professional. You’re exposed, you can’t hide behind four other guys. And it’s an eight-second shot clock. It’s just back and forth. You don’t have time to breathe. Playing in the streets in Brooklyn growing up helped me to start learning how to play the game, but my endurance took me over the top. And the element of being aggressive. It’s all about your grit. Your toughness. Not backing down. It gets personal on that court.” Or, as Bowen puts it, “It’s like boxing. Even to the extent that at the end guys are hugging, just dead from competing.” Although Fightball is a fledgeling sport, its basketball roots coupled with the carefully conceived package that surrounds it has already earned it many plaudits, as well as an international online following. “It’s here to stay. It’s that simple,” says Bowen. “We’ll be in China, Brazil, India. We’ll go all over the world because the players are from all over the world.” And as Murphy says, if you are going to be one of those players, “you’re going to have to commit to it. Not everyone is going to make it to the NBA, to get on a professional team, so the beauty of Fightball is that it still allows you to play the game, and get paid for it. Players don’t leave with nothing.” The next Fightball tournament will be held in Los Angeles in mid-June fightball.co
Photographs Dean Chalkley Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Words Andy Thomas Photographic Assistants Charlie Beerling and Gideon Marshall Styling Assistant Bradley Stainton Production Amy Foster and Anna Gibson at Lo and Behold loandbeholdproductions.com Runner Michaela Efford Equipment Three Four Snap threefoursnap.com
On the release of These People, his first solo album in six years,
Richard Ashcroft discusses digital versus analogue, insanity and psychedelia, and making music in his basement.
Jacket by Alpha Industries; sunglasses by Ray-Ban.
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The backdrop to Richard Ashcroft’s latest solo album, These People, was, he felt, decidedly turbulent. He has described it as a time of contentious wars, grassroots movements turning into semi-revolutions, such as the events in Tahrir Square, people divided and a sense that everything was falling to pieces across the world. It is also Ashcroft’s first release since 2010 under the pseudonym RPA and the United Nations of Sound. On the single ‘Born Again’, from the album United Nations of Sound, Ashcroft sang: “Now I’m a man who ain’t afraid, I’ve destroyed my ego just to make the space, cause I’m born again. When I feel a melody, I get a righteous charge right through me.” And it is his unbridled belief in the power of music to both heal and agitate that has made him one of the most misunderstood rock stars of his generation. It’s been that way since Ashcroft and a group of friends from Wigan in the north of England formed the Verve and signed to Hut Records in 1990. “I believe you can fly and I believe in astral travel, because, if I thought I was just going to walk around this place for the next 50 years, I don’t think I could exist,” he proclaimed in 1992 prior to the release of their acid-drenched single ‘All in the Mind’. The group’s love of psychedelia resulted in their debut album A Storm in Heaven, which can now be seen as a link between the album H.P. Lovecraft II by American psychedelic rock band H. P. Lovecraft in 1968 and Sun Structures by Temples in 2014. Brian Cannon, who would later create iconic sleeves for Oasis, designed the cover. And it was Noel Gallagher who nicknamed Richard
Ashcroft ‘Captain Rock’ before dedicating the song ‘Cast No Shadow’ to him, from the album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? The Verve’s most critically acclaimed LP Urban Hymns from 1997 spawned the huge hit singles ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’, and ‘Lucky Man’. It was to be the band’s last LP (until they reformed eight years ago for the album Forth) before the lead singer set out on his solo career. Released in 2000, Ashcroft’s Alone with Everybody included the single ‘A Song for the Lovers’ with a video by Sexy Beast and Under the Skin director Jonathan Glazer. Ashcroft followed the LP with Human Conditions, his most personal release to date. “When I’m low, and I’m weak, and I’m lost I don’t know who I can trust. Paranoia, the destroyer, comes knocking on my door. You know the pain drifts to days, turns to nights, but it slowly will subside,” sang Ashcroft on the lead single ‘Check the Meaning’. And he has subsequently spoken of his struggles with depression. “Without music and creativity, I’d need other forms of therapy,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “But for me, the life process is the process of healing yourself.” It was four years before Ashcroft returned with his next LP, Keys to the World, after he took time out to bring up his two kids with Kate Radley, former keyboardist with Spiritualized. And it has been an even longer break between United Nations of Sound and These People. The new LP sees him working again with Wil Malone, strings arranger for the Verve’s Urban Hymns, and French electronic producer Mirwais on what could well be his best solo album yet. It’s been six years since your last LP, why the gap? There were lots of different reasons. But the thing is people are coming to this with the concept that time away from making music is either time wasted or redundant time. So it’s their concept of time. I believe being away from that pressure on time is the best time spent. What are we working for and what are we rushing through life for? But in a way it was a novel experience and an unusual thing, as musicians usually get on that gravy train and they can’t get off.
Is that because the music industry expects the artist to have an album out every couple of years? Yes, exactly, and also the star thing and maintaining a level of celebrity influences the whole of this. The industry can’t imagine not posting something on social media from one hour to the next, never mind a number of years. But the thing was that during this gap, my music from the past was still being played.
If I turned the radio on, I would hear ‘Lucky Man’ or I’d meet someone on the street and they’d say, “Nice one Richard, thanks for that tune.” And that keeps you in the present every day. So during any gap I take I’m always feeding off the fact that I wrote tunes that people loved and still love. But no matter who you are you can get in a kind of rut. Then about a year and half ago my momentum changed and I’ve been working every day to take it to the next level.
You began this LP in your basement studio. How important was that time? Very important, that was amazing for me. Most interviews I have done in my life have ended up not talking about music. Because I was a pretty face or I was this or that there was this idea that I was not as valid as a Wire magazine guy or whatever. But I am there in my basement trying to work out Linn’s new drum machine, I am working on Moog’s new bass thing. I’m trying to work on an old synth that I’ve never used before and trying to find my way around it in the language of that machine. And also looking at how those machines can be incorporated into the classic nature of what I do. So all those creative things that were in my head were thrashed around in my cellar, which gave me lots of freedom.
Did you have any of that creative space prior to any of your other LPs? I had a bit of preparation before Human Conditions, but this is the first time since Urban Hymns that I’ve really had the full time to refine things and also to reject shit and hone things down.
Listening to the LP it sounds like the mix of analogue and digital has been really important. I really started to dwell on the way we are going and what is rock’n’roll. Is it enough in 2016 to just have four or five guys churning out stuff that essentially you could have seen in 1972? Plus, you are competing against electronic music and hip-hop. I came to the conclusion that
I started to think, is it enough in 2016 to just have four or five guys churning out stuff that essentially you could have seen in 1972? Jacket by Belstaff; jeans by Lee; sunglasses by Ray-Ban.
we are already on a loser. Your components for your art are really limited if you just come at it from the old angle. But even going back to ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, I was always looking at different ways of writing through sampling a three-chord thing and building on it. In a way, I’ve come back to a reality in the music world that is tailor-made for me, in that the genres are breaking down. With the rise of electronic music the doors have opened for a songwriter. The game is on now – Jimi Hendrix died a long time ago and there are not many of those virtuoso guitar guys who can come up with something in those first few bars that can blow your mind. There are only so many places you can go with a basic instrument, but when you start with the sounds from computers it can just engulf you because the possibilities are insane. But at the same time, it doesn’t matter how many plug-ins you use it doesn’t sound like the real thing. It’s been a real transition for me using both digital and analogue.
When was the transition from your basement to London’s Sugar Cane Studios and what happened in that process. I took it to other studios first. I had what I thought was a finished album. But I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t clear enough. There were great moments of musicality but I felt like I needed to reconnect again with songs that communicate something that is very real and basic. Then songs like ‘Black Lines’ and ‘These People’ came and there started to be a theme. It was like I was fighting for my own space and freedom so there was an internal battle for that. And then at the same time, over the years of making this record, there had been outbreaks of resistance in various parts of the world. You had the neo-conservatives with
Jacket by Baracuta; jeans by Lee; T-shirt and watch, modelâ€™s own; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; belt by Folk.
R i c h a r d their foreign policy for how many countries in the Middle East they were going to destabilise. And so they have now spread chaos across the world. At one point, I wondered whether the record would even come out, because the world was on such a knife-edge. So I really felt like I didn’t have a lot of time.
Did that urgency really affect the making of the LP? Yeah absolutely, I really felt like it was time to move on and I feel there is a real momentum now for me as a writer. So on something like ‘Out of my Body’, it’s me saying: “I’ve opened the door by mixing Johnny Cash into Chic. Where do I go now?”
‘Out of my Body’ includes the lyric “Don’t Go looking for Watergate”. Can you explain the meaning behind it? It’s saying if you go looking for your Watergate they will destroy you. These people who are trying to enlighten the general public as to what is going on generally end up hunted.
I remember seeing you wearing a ‘Free Bradley Manning’ T-shirt at a gig. Yeah it was appalling all that business. It seemed like at the time it was almost as if the force was really showing itself. The whole thing was a joke. There were a lot of similar cases going on in America at the time as well.
Is this search for freedom something that hangs over the LP? It doesn’t hang over it all but it kind of mirrors my own inner search for peace and freedom within myself. Looking at my own desires, fears and insecurities and the programming I’ve consumed, how much of me is just a farce. How much every day do you really connect with yourself or how much do other people’s insecurities or vibe impinge on you?
With its folk-like opening merging into an electronic dance hook, ‘Out of my Body’ is an interesting record. How did it come about? I sent Mirwais what is essentially the Chic-type element of it thinking that he would expand the dance thing further. And he came back with this folky acoustic loop. You would have expected it to have been the other way around. But it switched.
When were you introduced to his music? Years ago. The guy who plays drums for me was doing some work for Madonna and Mirwais went out and did a couple of albums with her. Then when we met in Paris we poured out our thoughts about music and where we were. And we came to the conclusion that there were a lot of copies, or what he calls imposters, of what we were both doing. He’s got some really interesting
philosophies about what it is to be modern but also play a guitar like it’s 1956.
Being on stage on your own is still something that excites you? That very punk rawness of being on your own with a guitar and nothing else to depend on is what I’m all about right now. I saw this clip of me playing in Mexico to 30,000 people and thought that is it, that’s what I want to project. I’m part of this lineage and tapping into something deep that I don’t really understand. The more plastic or homogenised things become the purer it is when someone stands there in front of you knowing it can collapse at any moment. As a solo artist I really am vulnerable and the crowd knows that.
How is playing live different now to back in the days of the Verve? Shows have generally become so governed by the lighting and sound guys, it’s all pre-programmed. It’s not like the old days when these guys were like another member of the band. It was about all the little things they could add to the experience, playing with the night and atmosphere with you. You can forget any of that improvisation now – it will be the same in Chicago as it was in Boston. But at the same time, as I get older the less time I have as a musician for improvisation. You don’t have time to listen to some long-haired dude’s 15-minute guitar solo. And that’s why when I look at that psychedelic era it all looks like one big experiment. It was like an experiment under the guise of freedom of expression and sexual liberation, but as far as music goes a lot of the acts before psychedelia were actually better. They had more clarity. I take the Beatles as a great example of that. When I was 16 or 17, I might have been listening to Sgt Pepper and shit like that, but other than ‘A Day in the Life’ and a few other moments it’s just not an album I want to go back to. I’d rather hear ‘She Loves You’. There is an energy and youthful zest in that earlier music, a pre-corrupted sound that goes right through those early records through to Revolver. There is something sick actually about [the use of LSD in] the psychedelic era for me now that maybe appeals to some people. It’s everyone’s wilful acceptance of something that other than the doctor who invented it [Albert Hofmann], was always used as an experimental thing for governments up to that point. So for that then to suddenly become a synthetic key to a spiritual experience is a bit of a joke.
Do you think the psychedelic era was also a bit too middle class? Absolutely. That’s why looking back you can see why Pete Townshend wrestled with the whole thing. It really was thought of as this
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new panacea, a synthesised idea of some kind of spirituality. It not only distorted things back in the 1960s, it saw my generation take part in it as well when we were kids. We all got involved in it and I was like a lot of people and thought, yeah right, lets stick it [LSD] in the water. But a lot of people were lost along the way, and the way it confused a lot of things worried me. I saw the very early days of all that when you’d see the midweek depressions in people. It was unbelievable.
At the same time, psychedelic music had a huge influence on the Verve’s early sound. I couldn’t listen to H.P. Lovecraft and be 18 and not feel part of it from where I am from. That was the mad thing about it, most of my contemporaries were taking drugs and going to clubs and we were doing it and listening to the widest and most eclectic range of music. In the north west, in towns like Manchester and Liverpool, the older generation had the greatest record collections in the world. They were generally old hippies who were the first people at the early punk gigs.
You mean people like Factory Records producer Martin Hannett and Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell? Exactly. They had all the amazing records and they passed it on to the new generation. Pre-internet it was all word of mouth. You just went into someone’s house and they had this mind-blowing music. In some ways, it was too much information to take in for us as kids.
What was it like to work with Wil Malone again on the new LP? It was fantastic to be with him and to hear his sound again with my voice. It’s like a match made in heaven. I always loved working with him going right back to walking into the studio and hearing him on ‘History’ [from the Verve’s second album, A Northern Soul]. I was like, ‘Yes, me and that dude, let’s do it.’ To be honest I’d do the next 10 albums with him. The whole thing on this LP was, how do I bring what
Jacket by Caruso; jeans by Lee; trainers by Converse; sunglasses by Ray-Ban.
Wil and Mirwais do and what I do and fuse that into something extraordinary.
Is it important for you to create music that is popular as well as interesting? I always wanted to create something that is in keeping with people like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. And I have never been ashamed of that because I know how much popular culture enriched my life as a kid. It was life. You hear the Smiths’ ‘How Soon is Now?’ for the first time when you are 14 or 15 and it’s a gateway into a whole new world. And that’s why it’s so important that pop culture remains vital, with people wanting to take it to another level.
Another major influence was the Stone Roses. Can you explain what impact they had on you? It was massive for me. Huge. That is my Sex Pistols right there. A transcendent moment that will never be repeated no matter who I go to see. There were so many elements to it that were incredible, it was only in the years to come I completely understood why. Every element was different and it created a model for the way I think about everything.
What made those early Stone Roses gigs in 1989 so special? The crowd you’d get at places like Warrington Legends, it was very fucking male, very full on real lads, but the band was playing these really beautiful songs that had a lot of
feminine qualities to them. It was a really special moment in time, but none of us knew it. We were hearing the whole album live way before it came out so were really part of it. The Roses came along at a time when I was so bored they reignited the sense of ‘yeah, you can say no’. You do what you feel is right. Their whole philosophy would be so good now with a generation of young musicians raised on the idea that there is this panel of people who are going to decide if you are good enough. I thought as a band we were carrying on what the Roses did.
How do you feel about the way you were represented in the press? When I got married and we had our first child, it was the journalists and taste makers at that time who weren’t ready for that. They were like, ‘Oh no man, can you not have kids, can’t you get a really bad smack habit instead. For fuck’s sake you’re supposed to die now.’ That was the thing I was always aware of, being put in this box. And these journalists were always trying to put me back in this box by telling the readers my dot-to-dot life, which was bullshit anyway. That’s the crazy thing. But I’ve never bothered to address most of the shit that’s written about me because it created so many layers of crap in the end it was great.
Do you mean being mythologised? I don’t think the mythology is close to the reality in a way. If I was more hip-hop in my representation of how I’d been living and the
escapades I had been up to I could mythologise myself way more.
Was it good to get away from all that attention after the last LP? What was good about the few years off was that I didn’t have a mobile phone for four years and I was in my cellar safe as houses. I also sifted out the useless phone calls and people who didn’t really care, and got back to my hard core of friends who had been with me since childhood. I’ve got three or four really close friends and that is what you need because it’s closer to the truth. When the shit hits the fan you are not going to have 10,000 Facebook friends coming down to help you. Also, the more famous I became the less meaningful the interactions were becoming with nearly everyone in my life. Every interaction was loaded. Most things that come into your life come loaded with insecurity. So down in the cellar making this LP, I cut all this out.
How did you feel during the Verve days when the press came up with things like ‘Mad Richard’? It didn’t take me that long to sort
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I’m just this skinny kid from the outskirts of Wigan, but I can reach right across the world. Big dreams – that’s what it’s all about.
of enjoy it, in the sense that this whole madness/sanity thing is an argument we could have all year. Whose reality is sane? I thought it just showed how conservative a time we were living in. The reason that ‘Mad Richard’ thing came about was that I told this journalist I believed I could fly. Again it goes back to, OK, I’m not just going to be in a band and make a record, if I want to I’m going to fly. So deal with it. Let’s smash every preconceived idea of what is possible. Let’s go to the extreme. So it was a metaphor that unfortunately they didn’t understand. It was just a basic metaphor for life. That you can achieve anything you put your mind to. I was trying to say I was just like you, I’ve just been on the dole for X amount of years, I got five GCSEs at C grade but I’m about to embark on my own education.
Have you always had an enquiring mind?
ordered way of learning is that you have less preconceived ideas. By the time you get to university, and you’ve got your chosen field, you are then at the mercy of your professor and his tight intellectual bubble. And that is what you find in life as well. We all exist in our bubbles, with preconceived ideas that have been passed on to us by family or peers, the culture that either makes you anxious or sells you something. It’s all down to that at the end of the day. When you are fearful of something you want to fill the hole. It’s like, ‘How can I feel safer and less anxious, I better go and buy something then.’
Do you mean that could be either Prozac or a new jacket? Yeah exactly, and that’s the thing about the way these people keep you in a constant state of anxiety on any level. The only way we feel we can fill that void from feeling unstable or not safe is doing something that gives us a little endorphin rush or a little sense of familiarity. So the breaking down of all that is good and then you start again. And that’s the same with my music; I’m going to break myself down and build myself up again. I’m not there yet but there will be a point that I make something that is beautiful as a whole but also indefinable in popular culture either at the time or in the past. That’s the dream.
My granddad was a big stargazer and I lived next door to him. We would go on lots of walks together and he would point out constellations. We would go and look at the satellites and all that. There was a deep connection to that. My granddad had a good way of making me understand things. Whereas so much since has been about keeping us down and divided and focuses on something so far from what my granddad was showing me. It’s all two-dimensional. I used to talk a lot about ultimate reality and people used to think of it as some Jacket by Alpha Industries; trousers, T-shirt, sort of hippy bullshit, scarf, watch and socks, model’s own; trainers but I couldn’t explain by Converse; sunglasses by Ray-Ban. it any other way. I’ve always had that oversensitivity. Whatever it is that shields us from the realities that are going on right now, with someone like me it’s more open.
What is the most important thing music can do? It can offer transience. It can heal. Thousands of years ago, people probably knew better than we do now what tones can do. Music can probably move stone, who knows. We can see how different tones and stuff can affect cell structure. So if you put in general love and positivity and realness into your work I hope the cell structure of my listener changes with it. I admire poets and painters but nothing comes near to music. I’m involved in the greatest art form in the world. I’m just this skinny kid from the outskirts of Wigan, but I can reach right across the world. Big dreams – that’s what it’s all about. The album These People by Richard Ashcroft is out now cookingvinyl.com Richard Ashcroft performs at the Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, on 11 June and Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, on 26 August richardashcroft.com
And you’re continually on that search for knowledge? It never ends. The great thing about not going through the
Art Direction and Styling Harris Elliott Photographs Tatsuo Suzuki Grooming and Make-up Maki Ihara using Mac Cosmetics Styling Assistant Kobayashi Soichiro Production Yuko Watanabe at Obruza obruza.net Models Manami Kinoshita and Nozomu at Image image-tokyo.co.jp
Nozomu wears coat by Black Comme des Garçons; jeans, hat and earring, model’s own; trainers by Converse. Manami wears jacket by Black Comme des Garçons menswear; trousers and top by Julius menswear; shoes and socks, model’s own; hat by CA4LA, customised by Harris Elliott. J &
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Manami wears jumpsuit by Christopher Nemeth menswear; top by Julius menswear; hat by CA4LA, customised by Harris Elliott; necklace and ring by Share Spirit.
Nozomu wears shirt by Ta Ca Si and trousers by Maison Flaneur, both from International Gallery Beams; trainers by Converse; hat and gloves, model’s own; sunglasses by Effector x Enharmonic Tavern; key-clip by Christopher Nemeth, customised by Judy Blame.
Manami wears jacket by Poggy for United Arrows menswear; trousers by Share Spirit menswear; shirt by Black Comme des Garçons menswear; shoes, model’s own; hat by CA4LA, customised by Harris Elliott. Nozomu wears jumpsuit by Julius; trainers by Converse; hat and earring, model’s own; ring by Share Spirit.
Manami wears vest and top by Share Spirit; trousers by Christopher Nemeth menswear; shoes, modelâ€™s own; belt by Undercover; ankle cuffs by Tae Ashida. 84
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Nozomu wears top by Share Spirit; hat by Christopher Nemeth, customised by Judy Blame; glasses by Effector x Enharmonic Tavern; earring, modelâ€™s own.
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Nozomu wears jacket by Undercover; shirt by Black Comme des Garçons; hat and earring, model’s own.
Manami wears jacket by Art Comes First for United Arrows menswear; sunglasses by Share Spirit. Nozomu wears blazer, jacket and trousers by
Julius; hat and earring, model’s own.
Manami wears vest by Yohji Yamamoto menswear; trousers by Christopher Nemeth menswear; shoes, modelâ€™s own; sunglasses and bag by Share Spirit; ankle cuffs by Tae Ashida. Nozomu wears vintage jacket by Takeo Kikuchi, customised by Ray Petri; trousers by Julius; trainers by Converse; hat and earring, modelâ€™s own. J &
Nozomu wears kimono by
Futura x Nigo for United Arrows; trousers and jacket by Julius; hat,
earring and gloves, modelâ€™s own.
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Nozomu wears vintage jacket by Takeo Kikuchi, customised by Ray Petri; trousers by Julius; hat, modelâ€™s own. Manami wears vest and top by Share Spirit; trousers by Christopher Nemeth menswear; belt by Undercover.
Manami wears waistcoat by
Christopher Nemeth menswear; shorts by Julius menswear; shoes
and tights, model’s own; hat by CA4LA; ring by Share Spirit.
Nozomu wears shirt by Ta Ca Si and trousers by Maison Flaneur, both from International Gallery Beams; hat, model’s own; key-clip by Christopher Nemeth, customised by Judy Blame. Manami wears jumpsuit by Christopher Nemeth menswear; shoes, model’s own; hat by CA4LA, customised by Harris Elliott; necklace and ring by Share Spirit; ankle cuffs by Tae Ashida.
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Nozomu wears jacket, hat and earring, modelâ€™s own; shorts by Julius.
Photographs Klaus Thymann Styling Chris Tang UK Production Grace Lines Egypt Production Dune Raider duneraider.me Driver Saleh Sadeq Flights Turkish Airlines turkishairlines.com Sandboarders Hassan Mohsem and Khaled Senosi
Khaled wears red jacket by Moncler; camouflage jacket and shorts by Puma x Stampd; sunglasses by Ă˜rgreen Optics.
Hassan Mohsem, 23, is a sandboarding instructor who works for outdoor events company Dune Raider in Egypt. Khaled Senosi, 28, is the manager, having previously also worked as an instructor. Both were professional athletes but became interested in sandboarding around 10 years ago; they now run sandboarding classes in the desert in Fayoum. They make their own boards from wood, Formica and specialist bindings. 92
Hassan wears T-shirt and shorts by Element; hat by Stüssy; sunglasses by Ørgreen Optics; socks by Dickies.
Hassan wears sweater by Hawksmill Denim Co; shorts by Gieves and Hawkes; shirt by McQ by Alexander McQueen; sunglasses by Ã˜rgreen Optics.
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Hassan wears jacket by North Sails; shorts by Garbstore; sunglasses by Ørgreen Optics.
Khaled wears jacket by Waven; shorts by Wesc; sunglasses by Ørgreen Optics; watch by Nixon.
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Hassan wears shirt by Carhartt WIP; shorts and socks by Dickies; sunglasses by Ă˜rgreen Optics; bracelets, modelâ€™s own.
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Khaled wears jacket by Z Zegna; shorts by Uniqlo; T-shirt by DC Shoes; sunglasses by Ørgreen Optics; watch by Filson.
Khaled wears shirt by Uniqlo x Lemaire; shorts by Maharishi; sunglasses by Ørgreen Optics; watch by Nixon; necklace, model’s own.
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Hassan wears sweater by Orlebar Brown; shorts by Sunspel; shirt by Barbour x White Mountaineering; sunglasses by Ă˜rgreen Optics.
Khaled wears jacket by Nanamica; shorts by Uniqlo; sunglasses by Ă˜rgreen Optics; necklace, modelâ€™s own.
Earth faces a growing barrage of existential threats – nuclear Armageddon, asteroid impact, global pandemics, the exhaustion of natural resources, terminal overpopulation, unchecked global warming and, maybe, the invasion of hostile aliens. Then there’s perhaps the biggest danger, according to physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking – out-of-control robots and self-replicating artificial intelligence. And if none of these catastrophes occur, scientists agree that the sun will eventually collapse in on itself, radiating so much heat that earth will be destroyed. The planet’s demise is not a question of if, but when. Step forward technology pioneer Elon Musk. He wants to save the human race, and as the founder of space travel firm SpaceX, chief executive of electric-car maker Tesla, inventor of air-travel alternative Hyperloop, chairman of solar energy firm SolarCity and cofounder of artificial intelligence research body OpenAI, he might just do it. Words Chris May
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E l o n Scientists and philosophers have been dreaming of colonising space for at least 400 years. In 1610, the astronomer Johannes Kepler, in a letter to his friend and mentor, Galileo Galilei, wrote: “Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the heavenly ether, and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes.” Today, Kepler’s dream looks set to become reality, and not before time. In a BBC interview earlier this year, Stephen Hawking said that multi-planetary existence is “the only hope for humankind”. Inter-planetary travel has been a staple of science fiction since the late 19th century, when mechanically powered flight was on the cusp of becoming an everyday reality. Many of today’s foremost astro-physicists and space pioneers received their inspiration, as children, from the novels of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert. Among these science fiction fans turned scientist entrepreneurs is Elon Musk, the visionary multi-billionaire chief executive of SpaceX, a California-based company dedicated to building rockets and off-planet survival systems and establishing an experimental colony on Mars. Other companies Musk has a major hand in include Tesla Motors, which is developing affordable, high-spec electric cars to transform vehicular travel and the urban environment, and SolarCity, poised to make solar energy the new normal in power generation. It is impossible to overestimate Musk’s importance. He is to the 21st century what engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was to the 19th or web inventor Tim Berners-Lee was to the 20th. And not only is he working to improve the quality of contemporary life, he is intent on saving us from extinction. Musk’s ultimate goal, he says, is to make humanity a multi-planetary species. No techno-utopian fantasist, Musk is building the technology to achieve his vision. In 2010, he told The New York Times: “If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic: being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that were once considered fantasy.” If we do not invent the technology, said Musk, we die: “We face risks the dinosaurs never saw.” Once regarded as a dotcom billionaire’s vanity project, in 2013 SpaceX delivered its first commercial satellite. The company is now taken seriously by one-time sceptics such as the US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), which is partnering SpaceX on a range of projects. Musk and Hawking not only agree over the necessity of multi-planetary existence, they also agree about the over-arching threat posed to humanity by artificial intelligence. Earlier this year, Hawking described AI as “the
biggest danger to humanity’s future” and Musk called it “humanity’s biggest existential threat”. It is not just a question of potentially rogue robots. Hawking and Musk believe that if advanced AI some day gains the ability to redesign itself, an unstoppable intelligence explosion could lead to human extinction. In 2015, Musk cofounded the organisation OpenAI as a not-for-profit body researching how to ensure AI creates a beneficial longterm human impact. He has also donated $10m to another not-for-profit body, the Future of Life Institute. The institute has similar aims to OpenAI, making grants to designers and engineers working on benign AI. Musk and Hawking are on the advisory board. One of the most remarkable aspects of Musk’s entrepreneurial success – his net worth was recently estimated by US business magazine Forbes at $12.8bn – is that, having made his first fortune in the 1990s with two dotcom start-ups, one of which became PayPal, he has concentrated his energy and resources on atoms not bytes, on physical engineering and manufacturing not digital communications or financial products. From this perspective, Musk resembles a classic Victorian engineer visionary. He bends metal to make useful objects. In 2014, Musk told The Wall Street Journal: “I like to make technologies real that I think are important for the future and useful in some sort of way… I really like computer games, but then if I had made really great computer games, how much effect would that have on the world?” For Musk, digital communications technology is delivering diminishing returns. As PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel put it in a 2011 paper titled ‘What Happened to the Future?’: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” Musk says he is no longer motivated by the desire to make money – he told The Wall Street Journal, “The point is to maximise the probable lifespan of humanity” – and all the evidence, including the huge personal fortune that he has spent financing his projects, suggests he is telling the truth. Born in South Africa in 1971, Musk had an unhappy childhood. He was micro-managed by an otherwise distant father and bullied at school for his studiousness. He withdrew into himself, reading vast amounts of science fiction – his favourites included Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Asimov’s
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Foundation series – and designing and modelling space rockets. He was a big fan of the first Star Wars trilogy and decades later named SpaceX’s debut rocket Falcon 1, a reference to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Aged 13, he developed a code for a video game, Blastar, and had it published in a local magazine – in 1984, well ahead of the curve. In 1989, as soon as he was old enough to do so, Musk left South Africa and moved to Canada, where he had a network of relations. He spent a year hitchhiking round the country, doing odd jobs to support himself. He then moved south to the US in 1992, and, with financial support from his family, enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he took degrees in physics and economics. In 1995, Musk became a successful player in the dotcom boom, cofounding an internet-mapping company called Zip2. When Compaq bought it in 1999, Musk made $22m. He ploughed most of it back into his next project, an internet-banking start-up that eventually became PayPal. When PayPal was bought by eBay in 2002, Musk made $100m. Musk kept $4m of his PayPal profit for personal use and invested the rest in the two companies for which he is best known: SpaceX and Tesla. Along the way, both these companies have faced down potentially fatal technical and cashflow crises. “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death,” Musk told Forbes magazine in 2015. But you feel he rather enjoys the experience. His favourite motto is: “Do or die, but don’t give up.” Musk drives himself and his employees hard. During a financial crisis in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street crash, he gave a
Elon Musk is to the 21st century what engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was to the 19th or web inventor Tim Berners-Lee was to the 20th. J &
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Musk has focused on atoms not bytes, on physical engineering not digital communications or financial products. pep talk to engineering staff. One of those present told The New York Times: “He gave a speech saying we would work on Saturdays and Sundays and sleep under desks until [a cost-saving manufacturing programme] got done. Someone pushed back from the table and argued that everyone had been working hard and they were ready for a break and to see their families. Elon said, ‘I would tell those people they will get to see their families a lot when we go bankrupt.’ I was like, ‘Wow,’ but I got it.” On another occasion, an employee missed a meeting to be present at the birth of his child. Musk sent him an email saying, “That is no excuse. I am extremely disappointed. You need to figure out where your priorities are. We’re changing the world and we’re changing history, and you either commit or you don’t.” Musk’s drive is leavened by his generosity. He employs the best people and pays them well. In 2013, when SpaceX went public, he gave employees stock options. In an all-staff email, Musk wrote: “I do actually recommend selling some stock, even if you are certain it will appreciate, as life is short and a bit more cash can increase fun and reduce stress at home (so long as you don’t ratchet up your ongoing personal expenditures proportionately).” Musk has survived as many technical and financial challenges with Tesla as he has with SpaceX, and his vision of earthly carbon-free transportation promises as many benefits as do his longer-term plans for space colonisation. And he’s getting there. The first successful car-making start-up in the US since Chrysler was founded in 1925, Tesla last year sold more than 50,000 cars in the US alone. The electricity to power the cars still has to be
generated somewhere, of course, but simply getting carbon-fuel engines off the streets will be a huge step forward. Musk also plans to generate clean electricity for the cars’ battery packs, in the US to begin with, by expanding SolarCity’s network of solar panels. He has already built free-to-use, solar-powered Superchargers (battery charging stations) in many major towns and cities and along many motorways. As well as free fuel, Teslas’ consumer benefits include reduced servicing costs, as electric cars have fewer moving parts than carbon-fuel cars and so do not need as much maintenance. Musk did not invent electric cars, but he is thoroughly reinventing them. Teslas are efficient enough, and potentially cheap enough, to become commonplace within a decade. The cars’ latest batteries deliver a range of 200 to 300 miles between charges, depending on speed and terrain, far greater than was previously possible, and Tesla’s engineers are aiming for 500 miles within the next couple of years. Teslas are also beautiful objects, as sleek and sexy as a Jaguar XJ and less than half the price. They are also fast. Not as fast as a Jaguar, but fast enough for most of us – the Tesla Model S can go from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. The Model S also has a software programme that allows autopilot functions and enables it to guide itself using GPS. “You will be able to summon the car,” said Musk at a press conference in 2014. “It will come to wherever you are.” This is as revolutionary an innovation as clean fuel, allowing cars to be stored off-street in below-ground car parks. Instead of smelly pollution traps, city streets will become the near-exclusive preserve of pedestrians and cyclists and include generously proportioned green spaces. One day, Musk told Business Insider in 2012, “People may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” The number of Teslas on the road is expected to rise exponentially as unit prices fall and battery-pack efficiency continues to rise. Prices for the Tesla Model 3, scheduled to begin retail deliveries by the end of 2017, will start at $35,000 in the US, making them affordable to mid-range buyers (the Volkswagen range retails from $18,000 to $41,000). Musk is working to reduce prices by a third, bringing Teslas within reach of
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most car users. Uniquely, Tesla has excluded independent car dealerships from its distribution chain, eliminating middlemen margins. It sells directly to consumers from its website and out of Apple-like galleries in high-end shopping malls. Tesla is unique, too, in its abandonment of model years. The company does not designate cars as being “2015” or “2016.” It produces the best vehicle it can at any one time, rather than developing a raft of new features and introducing them all together as “this year’s model”. Further, many of Tesla’s new features can be delivered as free software upgrades, providing existing owners with the same specifications as the most recently produced cars. Musk’s Hyperloop transport project is as revolutionary and environmentally friendly as Tesla. It is, basically, a pneumatic tube, a large-scale version of the ones once used to move memos and mail around offices. Hyperloop will be faster than a plane. Users will park their cars on a pod in the tube and then drive it off in the city they wish to visit. In big countries such as the US, Hyperloop would transform inter-city and long-distance travel. In 2015, on The Late Show, Musk said: “Short of inventing real teleportation, which would of course be awesome – somebody please do it! – this is the only option for socially acceptable super-fast travel.” The first tube, a fully operational test model, will be a five-mile ring road round a proposed 75,000-resident solar-powered city in Quay Valley, California. Construction is set to begin later this year. Hyperloop will, naturally, be solar powered. According to Ashlee Vance, the author of Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future, who has seen Musk’s companies’ most recent balance sheets and sales graphs, Musk is poised to become one of the most successful businessmen of all time. By 2025, says Vance, “Tesla could well have a range of half a dozen cars and be the dominant force in a booming electric-car market. Playing off its current growth rate, SolarCity will have had time to emerge as a massive utility company and the leader in a solar energy market that had finally lived up to its promise. SpaceX should be conducting weekly flights to space, carrying humans and cargo, and have put most of its competitors out of business. Its rockets should be capable of doing a couple of laps round the moon and then landing with pinpoint accuracy back at their spaceport in Texas. And the preparation for the first few dozen trips to Mars should be well under way.” Musk plans to be among the pioneers. “I would like to die on Mars,” he told Vance. “Just not on impact.” solarcity.com spacex.com teslamotors.com
Words Chris May Photographs Elliot Kennedy
The latest album from
The Kills was in jeopardy several times during its making. In 2013, a car-door-slamming accident led to guitarist Jamie Hince almost losing his left hand. Six operations later, he learnt how to play again and finally finished the album. Hince and singer Alison Mosshart give us the full story.
n 1928, the Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, still in his teens but already a professional musician in Parisian nightclubs, was badly burned when his caravan home caught fire. His left hand was mutilated and he lost the use of two fingers, but he managed to develop a new way of shaping chords, using just his thumb and two fingers, and six years later founded the all-conquering Quintette du Hot Club de France with violinist Stéphane Grappelli. In 1980, the New York-based guitarist Pat Martino, a prodigious technician who was
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viewed by some as picking up the baton from Wes Montgomery, suffered a brain seizure. An aneurysm was discovered, and as a result of an operation to correct the condition, Martino lost his memory of how to play the guitar. Over the next five years, he taught himself again from scratch and, aided only by determination and muscle memory, regained all his technical facility. He is still making great records. They say these things come in threes… In 2013, the Kills’ guitarist, Jamie Hince, had the tip of the middle finger of his left hand crushed by a slammed car door. Rushed to A&E, he was given a cortisone injection, Jamie Hince told to keep the wound clean, and sent home. Worse was to come. “My hand got really swollen and painful, which at first I thought was just normal,” says Hince. “They’d left a little hole at the base of my finger, and there was fluid coming out and I was trying to clean it, but the more I squeezed the more it kept coming. The whole hand had become infected. And then this sort of string came out of the hole and I pulled it and I realised it was my tendon. I had it in my hand. It had just rotted away and they had to remove it from my finger tip to my elbow.” Hince’s surgery and recuperation delayed the band’s fifth album, Ash & Ice, by almost three years. Their previous album, Blood Pressures, came out back in 2011. “I had six operations and I was in a hand brace for three months every time I had surgery,” says Hince. “So I wasn’t playing guitar for about 18 months. Then I had to learn to play again. When you have your hand cut open from finger tip to wrist six times, there’s so much scar tissue it becomes very difficult to move it much. So I had to learn to play guitar without using that finger. I eventually had a tendon transplant. I can bend the finger a little bit now but it’s absolutely useless for playing,
far too hit and miss. In the end it made me realise I am actually quite positive, because there was only one day when I was feeling sorry for myself and had a bit of a cry about it. I was more on to the next thing. I figured I’d concentrate on the writing and production. Alison was probably more upset about it than I was.” Singer Alison Mosshart, the other half of the Kills, was more than upset. “I was totally terrified, I was more terrified than Jamie,” she says. “Because he wasn’t allowed to be terrified. So I was being insanely positive all the time, because I didn’t want to show that I was scared – not for me or the band, but for Jamie. At one point it looked like he might lose the hand, because the infection had spread so badly. His whole hand was just exploding with pus. It was such an ongoing saga. I only let my true feelings show when I first heard him playing guitar again after almost two years away from it. We were in the studio, writing, and one day he picked up the guitar and played one of our old songs. As soon as he started, tears just came flooding down my face. I literally couldn’t stop crying. It was such an overwhelming sense of relief. I’d held back so much, and now I could express my real feelings.” Thinking he might no longer have enough facility to play guitar in the band, Hince had put together a transportable recording studio – he is based in London, Mosshart in Nashville – bought some software and resumed writing Ash & Ice with Mosshart that way. “I’d been doing everything I could to delay actually playing guitar,” says Hince. “It went right to the wire before I dared try it. There had been a moment when I felt maybe I wasn’t going to be a guitar player any more. I figured I’d concentrate on studio work instead, being a producer. So I put some money into building a studio, which is the best thing I could have done really. I made it deliberately so I could pack it all into three flight cases and transport it. An old Neve mixing desk from the 1960s, which goes in one flight case, and some outboard gear. As soon as I started building the studio,
T h e learning the software, programming it and playing around, the music all came out in a new way. My first demos [for Ash & Ice] didn’t have any guitar on them at all. It was just programmed drum beats and sub-bass. But once we’d agreed that there was a future in me still playing guitar, songs started coming from all directions.” Unlike the Kills’ previous albums, which were mostly written and recorded at Key Club Studio in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ash & Ice had a rather vagabond, and protracted, genesis. The bulk of recording took place in a rented house in Los Angeles, using both Key Club’s and Hince’s mobile units, and at Electric Lady Studios in New York. Mosshart says Hince’s reliance on software in the initial stages of making Ash & Ice, before he had found the confidence to play
the guitar again, changed the creative process dramatically. “We spent more time on the sonic aspects and the song structures,” she says. “And not only do I have no attention span for the technological aspects of recording, I don’t understand it. So Jamie was in the zone, on another planet that we hadn’t really worked on before, and I was still showing up with my acoustic-guitar demos. Before, we’d meet and play each other ideas for songs on our guitars. This time I’d be showing up with acoustic demos and he’d be doing all this sub-bass stuff with the computer. I’d be doing the topline and he’d be doing the bottom. And we had to add the middle and put it all together somehow. If Ash & Ice was a painting, it would be incredibly complex. It would be one that looked like it had been painted over and over. It would be
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and white and hot and cold and all these things. It is all sides of everything and at the end of it, maybe it’s nothing but a memory, a cigarette in a glass of ice.” Hince and Mosshart later changed the song title to ‘Let It Drop’, but stuck with ‘Ash & Ice’ for the album title. While Hince was recovering from surgery, Mosshart kept herself busy recording with the Dead Weather, her side band with Jack White, as well doing a lot of painting. She has always painted backstage in the down time while the Kills are on tour. But after moving to Nashville a few years ago, she acquired a purpose-built studio space that allowed her to
If Ash & Ice was a painting, it would be incredibly complex. It would be one that looked like it had been painted over and over. It would be so thick off the wall, it would be coming through the frame.
so thick off the wall, it would be coming through the frame.” Once he was back on the guitar, Hince took a 6,000-mile trip on the Trans-Siberian Express, with the idea of shaking up his writing process further. “I wanted to go away somewhere on my own and find out what I had in me. I just took my guitar, all my notebooks and a camera. The first thing I wrote was ‘Siberian Nights’. I had this vision of the record being this icy, paranoid record as I was travelling through Siberia. But the rest of the songs are more about the emotion, the struggle.” “One of the early songs that he brought for the record was called ‘Ash & Ice’,” Mosshart says. “I guess he was sitting at some bar or some party or someone’s house, and people were ashing into a glass of ice, that end of the night thing. And we thought it made a great album title.” As Hince recalls, he was the ash-icer. “I had a drink, and I just threw my cigarette in this glass of ice, and it was just as simple as that. I liked the idea of it being these two opposite souls, the idea of someone with a joint in one hand and a drink in the other.” Mosshart likes the connotations as well. “I love it because it’s opposing ideas, because it’s black
work on larger canvases, leading to her first solo show at New York’s Joseph Gross Gallery last summer. Titled Fire Power, the show featured 127 paintings, drawings, mixed media and tapestries. She also wrote around 120 new songs, for when the Kills could start recording again. Hince and Mosshart have been together as the Kills since 2000. They say they have never been an item, but they make a great team. “I still get this feeling that it’s us against the world,” says Hince. “I would take a bullet for this girl. I think she’s absolutely fantastic, and I have no friendship like that with anyone else. Sometimes we’ve fallen out over things but we get through them. Even when I get sick of her… musically there never seems to be an end to the road.” “If we ever kill each other it won’t be about the music,” says Mosshart. “It will be over something like the washing up.” The album Ash & Ice by the Kills is out now dominorecordco.com The Kills’ current tour includes the Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, on 11 June and Benicassim, Spain, on 16 July thekills.tv
is not, strictly speaking, an outsider artist. The two years he spent on a BA course at London’s Central Saint Martins art school preclude that description, as does the importance to him of art tradition, in particular the formative influences of Van Gogh, Kurt Schwitters, Edvard Munch and the Dada movement. But Words Chris May Photographs Dean Chalkley for most of his life, Childish was born on the Kent self-releasing records in 1977. In 1982, he Childish has forged coast, in Chatham, and, aside founded Hangman Books, publishing his from a brief period squatting own and other writers’ work. Hangman his own path. in London, has lived there all his Films and Hangman Records followed. life – less than an hour by train from London but light years away from the metropolitan culturati. His talent was belatedly recognised by the art establishment around 2010, when he had major exhibitions in London and New York. Childish’s painting style still shows traces of his early influences, but they have coalesced and developed into a style that is entirely his own. He is perhaps most accurately described as a radical traditionalist. He was briefly and mistakenly associated with the Britart movement, mainly because of his relationship with Tracey Emin in the 1980s, but he once famously described Britart conceptualism as “bankers’ Dada”. As well as being a painter, Childish is also a prolific singer, guitarist and author. At the last count he has put out around 150 albums, five novels and more than 45 collections of poetry. Born in 1959, he began self-publishing fanzines and
Among his bands have been the Pop Rivets, Thee Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, the Buff Medways and the Chatham Singers. Radical traditionalism has also been a signature of Childish’s music, particularly in its references to classic blues and rock’n’roll. His current band is CTMF, which stands for Cunts Tossers and Motherfuckers (or Chatham Forts if you find yourself in polite company), which Childish describes as “the sound of yesterday, tomorrow”. Most days of the week, Childish paints in an upstairs bedroom of his mother’s terraced house in Chatham. But one day a week, he paints bigger canvases in his studio above the Victorian Ropery in Chatham’s Historic Dockyard, where he has been artist in residence since 2011, and where we meet for this interview. He married his wife, Julie, in 2000 – the couple have a daughter and Childish has a son from a previous relationship – and aside from family time, he spends most of his waking hours painting, writing or making music. His output is prodigious and he works fast. As we speak, he begins painting a forest landscape around five feet high and 10 feet across, sending me a photo of the finished piece the following day. Warm, open and engaging, Childish seems wholly uncompromised by the art world’s recent, breathless embrace. J &
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Let’s start with your childhood, which was a difficult one, beginning when your father left the family home. How old were you then? I was six or seven. My father used to come back and terrorise my mother because he had a mistress who wanted the house. He was a self-made man with a working-class background, but we didn’t get any benefit from that money. The telephone was often not paid for and my father kept my mother on a shoestring budget. We had central heating when no one else I knew had central heating, but it wasn’t allowed to be on very often. We lived under this tyranny, it was a nightmare really.
Your father later went to prison for a medium-scale dope-smuggling operation. What’s the story? It was in the late 1970s. He had a girlfriend who was a high-class call girl and he financed her to bring hashish in. One of her clients was an Afghani diplomat and she said that with his contacts she could bring stuff in through diplomatic channels. She brought this hashish in through Heathrow, a box of
it about the size of an overnight case, and then for some reason walked up to customs and handed it to them and said, “I shouldn’t have this.” Customs reckoned it was £60,000 worth. She named my dad so the drug squad raided his office and arrested him. I tracked him down, he was in Reading jail, and I did actually get to speak to him on the phone. I asked him how he was. He said, “They’re treating me like a bloody criminal.” He was sentenced to a year in prison.
Not bad for £60,000 worth of hash, even given customs’ tendency to exaggerate the value of their hauls. The fellow whose case was heard before my father got several years just for growing a few hash plants. My father got off with a year through having a QC and a Masonic handshake. He was a member of the oldest lodge in London. He had completely reinvented his past – you wouldn’t think his father was an able seaman from Gillingham, who still lived in an old terraced house he didn’t own because my father never gave him money either. He was a Walter Mitty-type character. He didn’t have a working-class accent; he came across like Michael Heseltine. He was friends with quite a few rightwingers in the Tory party and was up for being a prospective Tory MP. When he came out of prison he tried to knock my mother about because I’d finally got her to divorce him.
Is your father still alive? Both my parents are. My mother is 88 and my father is 81. I’m the only member of the family who will speak to him or who he will speak to. He doesn’t see his grandchildren or anything. I’ve wanted to look out for him because he comes from a difficult background himself.
You were sexually abused by a family friend as a child. Has that left a scar? The thing that’s been
in my favour is that I’ve always been naturally confident. It’s also caused me problems, because people think I’m arrogant, when actually I’m just confident and have opinions. I had to do a lot of work though. I was an alcoholic until I was 33. I subsequently did several years of psychoanalysis and meditation retreats. Those things have come together to form my understanding of the importance of not really identifying with your story. We live in a society that loves victimhood and loves people to identify with it and use it as the reason for wrong behaviour or for gaining attention. People have construed that I’m bitter and angry about things because I write frankly about them. But I don’t hold on to stuff, all the bad stuff is pushed out. I also put my painting and my writing outside of myself. I don’t identify with them either. I identify with my true self, which is beyond experience. My true self is the witness of experience, not the experience itself.
Why were you were expelled from school? My school was a very rough secondary modern and they brought in someone called a school proctor, the official title in the Victorian era for the person in charge of administering punishments. He was a real sadist, he enjoyed his work. But I stood up to him and so he had me expelled before the O-level exam to spite me. I only had one O-level to take, in art. I ignored the expulsion and when the day came I just walked in and took the exam anyway.
You went through childhood as an undiagnosed dyslexic. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 28.
How did you overcome that and become such a prolific writer? I had real issues with reading and writing, but I did get a handle on reading when I was 14, and I had that confidence thing. They liked my creative stories at school, although they always said my spelling was really atrocious. But being innately confident, the fact that I couldn’t spell didn’t stop
me writing. I’m lucky in that, because you can’t make yourself confident, it’s a blessing and finding out what that blessing means and how it works is maybe what life’s for. Even a negative experience can give you empathy with, rather than denial of, other people – it can actually make you more engaged. It took me quite a long time to get to that understanding though. First off I thought, have as many girls as you can get, drink whisky, have money and just please yourself.
Which was kind of your father’s legacy to you.
Tradition is embodied knowledge and not to use it is really stupid. Embodied knowledge means you don’t have to reinvent stuff, you can just get on with it, and it also frees you from the notion that you’re the great visionary, the inventor. Caption goes in here like this. Caption goes in here like this. Caption goes in here like this. Caption goes in here like this.
My father gave me a great gift, because he was a working-class boy who did what he wanted. But unfortunately he is also some sort of sociopathic narcissist. Doing what you want is not a problem, however, as long as you are not doing it to other people’s disadvantage.
Can you remember what first attracted you to art? Not really, because I’ve been drawing all my life, since I was about two. I painted and drew all the time at school. At home, because I couldn’t read or write, my mum used to read to me, and when I was nine or 10 she read me Lust for Life [Irving Stone’s novel based on the life of Van Gogh]. That was it really. I told my mother, “I want to be a painter.”
You started studying at Saint Martins college of art in London in 1978 but left after a few weeks. You began there again in 1980, but you were expelled in 1981. What was going on? I left the first time because all they did was big abstract expressionism, which I thought was nonsense, and I also thought they were up themselves. So I spent about two years on the dole and playing in groups and doing my paintings. Then the dole office hauled me in
and said, “We’re doing a crackdown on people like you.” So I reapplied to Saint Martins and they remembered me and accepted me. I got a small grant. This was the time when my father went into prison and what little money my mother had was not enough to subsidise me. I couldn’t afford to travel to Saint Martins every day so I did my painting at home. By then I’d discovered confessional writing and I also did a lot of that. I printed it on a Xerox machine at Medway College, where I’d done my foundation course, and someone on the staff saw some of it and decided it was obscene. The head of Medway was friends
with the head of Saint Martins and told him about this and, according to my tutor, the head of Saint Martins said, “I want him out of my fucking college.” They said I needed to be signing in at nine in the morning and signing out at eight in the evening, otherwise I’d be expelled. They basically did a work to rule on me, because I couldn’t afford to get in.
Why is tradition so important to you? Tradition is the way that information is passed down through the generations and some of that tradition always remains applicable. It’s embodied knowledge and not to use it is really stupid. Embodied knowledge means you don’t have to reinvent stuff, you can just get on with it, and also it frees you from the notion that you’re the great visionary putting everything right, the inventor. It helps dissolve your ego, so you can let the real
energies get on with what they are required to do. You’re taking yourself out of the frame, making yourself smaller. Who you apparently are is not quite as big a deal as you think. People, artists, are always looking for the new and different. Like this idea of originality that people are always coming up with, this idea that this is how art is going to go forward, this forward trajectory, this ascending of some kind of mountain. It’s obvious to me that this is not how development works. There isn’t a pinnacle, it’s a completely flat landscape, and in a sense no one’s more important than anyone else.
Were you into music from an early age? From when I was about four, probably through having a brother who is four years older than me. First the Beatles and then the Stones and the Kinks and then Hendrix.
If you’re doing something for love that means you’ve got proper engagement. If you’re doing it to pay the mortgage that means it’s a chore. Amateur is a very misused word; it’s almost always used perjoratively. 112
B i l l y Strangely enough my father liked that music before he became such an arch conservative, so before he left our family home we already had all the 45s. We used to sing Beatles songs at bath time and I had a Beatles guitar and a Beatles wig. I absolutely loved them, really passionately. Tradition is important in music as well as painting. Once I got an inkling of that world I peeled it back and got into earlier forms, older stuff like Little Richard. When you go back in time, tradition doesn’t give less, it gives more, and it’s always relevant, always current. Even things I did with groups like the Caesars [in the mid to late 1980s], that were dismissed at the time as being retrograde, people today tell me that it still sounds fresh and it doesn’t sound like it was recorded at any particular time. Which is exactly what you want with painting, too. For it to be timeless, to be of itself. When the Beatles and the Stones started they were into tradition, they covered older stuff – if it wasn’t by older black men then it wasn’t legitimate. They were cutting edge because they were embodied in a tradition that they loved, and that is why their music was so fresh and lively when they were young. My favourite Beatles album is Live at the Star-Club in Hamburg, which was recorded in 1962, before they became a big name, and is full of covers of people like Little Richard and Chuck Berry. Once these people started getting into themselves and thinking, “We’re better than what we love” and had a few drugs and scored with a few chicks… well, very few kids of that age have the strength to avoid the delusional idea that they’ve found the godhead and that godhead is their ego.
Do you think that the digitally accelerated globalisation of culture is making it harder for artists in all fields to retain their regional identities? I imagine so, but I don’t think that’s the main problem. The main problem with digital is that like anything that is egalitarian, it starts out really great because it includes everyone, but then it all turns into blancmange. That’s the downside. It’s made worse because it’s not treated as an addition. There’s nothing wrong with digital apart from when digital wants to eliminate all the other tools in the toolbox. Plus a lot of technology is about non-engagement rather than engagement, which causes real issues. These things have their currency because we’re stupid enough to allow it, but they will never destroy the human spirit.
Would you describe yourself as a champion of amateurism in art and music? Only in the sense that if you looked at history, I bet it’s the amateurs who are doing as much of the discovery and innovation as the professionals, possibly
more. Because they’re not looking at the mortgage, they’re looking at what they’re doing and they’re doing it for love, and if you’re doing something for love that means you’ve got proper engagement. If you’re doing it to pay the mortgage that means it’s a chore. Amateur is a very misused word; it’s almost always used pejoratively.
So do you favour process over product? Process wins hands down, I’m not really interested in product. What I like about painting is painting. I don’t like going to galleries and looking at them. Not much anyway. What I don’t like about galleries is sensory overload. In a way I’m a princess and the pea type person, I’ve got this acute sensitivity and I feel discomfort very easily and I don’t have the ability to obstruct a lot of things I’m uncomfortable with. Same with music. I like listening to classical music, I like listening to Elgar and Beethoven, and it’s all very well until all of a sudden they kick the coffee table over and it’s all up the wall.
Do you regard self-validation as more important than peer-validation? If I’m really honest, I’d say I do want validation, but I think I decided long ago that the only way to get it was to validate myself. That doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of me that aren’t hungry for the validation of others, a little child that wants to be loved and admired. But I try and get my wife to do that and my children to do it. It’s all about knowing where that belongs and not letting a negative aspect of it be brandished around. I don’t like this simpering “like me” situation that you get on things like Facebook. It’s funny, because I tell people an awful lot about myself, but not this looking for sympathy, in an inappropriate way, with strangers.
In 2014 you accepted an honorary doctorate in the arts from the University of Kent. How does that sit with the primacy of self-validation? I suppose I accepted it because of
C h i l d i s h
vanity, and also because the idea that I’m a doctor of arts tickles me. Three or four years before it happened, somebody mentioned it to me and I said, “You’ve got to be bloody joking, I’m not having one of those.” And my wife said to me, “Why not?” I said, “I don’t know, it just seems really stupid, and I’m not wearing one of those costumes.” But then when they asked me, and they said it was for recognition of my work, I thought, OK, it will sit nicely with my O-level. I’m a secondarymodern schoolboy who is dyslexic and who they tried to stop doing his only O-level. Billy Childish being a doctor of arts is really quite ridiculous and I enjoy that.
Everybody likes to be stroked occasionally. I’ve not been stroked an awful lot, I’ve been told some quite bleak things about my character. When I was little my family used to call me the Smell, and my father referred to me as a thicko all the time. So it’s a change to be stroked. And in a way there’s a maturity in accepting compliments. When I was in a band when I was younger and someone said they really liked it, if I thought we’d played badly, I’d tell them. It took me a long time to realise that they were handing me a gift and it was none of my business to say whether I thought we’d been rubbish or not, and in those circumstances you just say, “Thank you.” I was in my thirties before I understood some social things like that. Since then it’s been a process of maturing, and being able to separate myself out from the objects, not to identify myself with them. With this non-identification, the paintings paint themselves and things come out correctly. When you’ve spent 40 years doing your apprenticeship, you can allow the thing to do what it needs to do.
You once said you had no ambition. Do you still hold to that? None of my decisions are based on ambition or on a career plan or an agenda. They’re based on me doing what I feel comfortable with. It gives you a lot of freedom, having no ambition. Even when I was young I thought that success came from just doing what you wanted. When I was 33 and had stopped drinking, people asked me if I had any ambition and I said, “Yes, I want two Rolls-Royces by the time I’m 21 and I want to know myself.” Knowing myself is still all I want. The exhibition Billy Childish: In Print (A Survey) is at Rochester Gallery and Craft Case, Rochester, until 14 August medway.gov.uk The album SQ1 by Billy Childish’s band CTMF is out now damagedgoods.co.uk
Kiki A documentary film on New York’s latest vogue dance scene,
delves into the lives of a new generation taking refuge in an activist-led ballroom subculture.
Gia Love, Queen Mother of the House of Juicy Couture and member of the House of Mizrahi
Words Andy Thomas Photographs Janette Beckman In the clubs and ballrooms of New York, several decades on from the original voguers, a new generation are battling it out. A few streets from where Jennie Livingston’s 1990 film Paris is Burning filmed legendary voguers such as Willi Ninja, battle commences every Monday at Vogue Knights, with DJ MikeQ from the Qween Beat collective. While competition at these events is fierce, many of the young people here are bonding through a grass roots movement called Kiki. Since Paris is Burning, films such as Wolfgang Busch’s How Do I Look have provided a more detailed study of the ballroom scene. And now a new film, Kiki, by Sara Jordenö, co-written with Twiggy Pucci Garçon (and with music by Qween Beat) is providing a similar insight into this new movement in the history of the New York ballroom scene. Born and raised in Sweden, Jordenö was introduced to ballroom culture and vogueing in the mid-1990s. “I learned about it all through queer theory,” she tells me from New York, where she has been based since 2000. “So initially it was really on a theoretical level. It was very much a discussion that was going on in the 1990s with books like Judith Butler’s Bodies That Matter. She was using Paris is
Burning to lay forward her arguments, because for most people outside of the ballroom communities it was the meeting point with the subculture.” Another very important film for Jordenö, and one that sets vogueing in its cultural context for black America, was Marlon Riggs’ incredible Tongues Untied from 1989. It was through a chance meeting in the late 2000s that Jordenö became drawn deeper into the culture. “I was working on a project in Harlem about pimps,” she says. “We were at this community centre to interview them. While we were there, I saw this group of young people in another part of the office. They were really beautiful and the way they were interacting was really nice, there was all this positivity and love that was radiating from them. So I just gravitated towards them. And that turned out to be Twiggy and his friend Chi Chi Mizrahi [another key figure in the film] who worked there at the centre as community health specialists.” The director of the health programme introduced Jordenö to the group, explaining that she was an artist and filmmaker. “They set up an informal meeting and said, ‘We want to tell you about our subculture, this youth movement called Kiki that we have started,’” says Jordenö. “They said they wanted to do a project with it, but they didn’t know quite what. So they asked me whether I would be interested in doing something. As an artist I use film and video installation, and one of my methods is working a lot with communities. I have always been interested in different forms of marginalisation and how these groups create strategies to address this. So this was like a gift to me.” For Twiggy and his friends it was a project that was long overdue. “Myself and Chi Chi had
been having this conversation as to why there had never been a film about how the ballroom scene is now,” he tells me. “And it only made sense for the community to do it. So we educated Sara on this scene and asked her to work on something, not knowing that four years later it would be this huge film.” Was Jordenö aware of the Kiki scene before the meeting? “No, not at all. I really didn’t know this culture still existed,” she says. “I think this is very common, most people seem to think it doesn’t exist any more. They associate it with a very specific time in the 1980s and 1990s with Paris is Burning and when Madonna released ‘Vogue’.” It was in the mid-1980s at David DePino’s Chelsea club Tracks that the House of Xtravaganza had introduced uptown ballroom culture and vogueing into the Manhattan clubs. And it was after hearing Junior Vasquez spin to the ballroom “children” at Sound Factory in the early 1990s that Madonna introduced vogueing to the mainstream. She invited voguers Jose Xtravaganza (from the House of Xtravaganza) and Willi Ninja (from the House of Ninja) onto her Blond Ambition tour, helping to bring the scene to a worldwide audience. “That’s the period most people associate with this culture, but they don’t realise that it has continued to evolve since then,” says Jordenö. “And also most of them don’t realise that ballroom existed way before the 1980s and 1990s.” The roots of ballroom culture reach back to the drag balls of Harlem in the late 19th century. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, what Langston Hughes described as “Spectacles in Color” were taking place at venues such as Rockland Palace on 155th Street. Writer Eric Garber recalled the uptown scene: “Drag balls,
Smerk Old Navy Khan from the House of Old Navy and the House of Khan
K i k i
Twiggy Pucci Garçon, founder of the House of Pucci and Princess of the House of Comme des Garçons
Chi Chi Mizrahi, founder of the House of Unbothered Cartier and member of the House of Mizrahi
part of the American homosexual underground for decades, had developed from clandestine private events into lavish formal affairs attended by thousands. The Harlem balls in particular were anticipated with great excitement by both blacks and whites. The largest were annual events at the regal Rockland Palace, which held up to 6,000 people.” In Kiki we visit the original site of Rockland Palace with members of the community, for a ball organised by Jordenö and Twiggy named the Reincarnation of Rockland Palace. “It’s now a parking lot on 155th Street at Frederick Douglass Boulevard,” says Jordenö. “It’s kind of a bad part of town near where Islan Nettles [a transgender woman from Harlem] was killed. And with that ball we were trying to share the history with the younger generation.” For Twiggy the location of the ball was
also very important. “It was all about what it means for a community to re-occupy a space that was once its own,” he says. “The Reincarnation of Rockland Palace was also created to show the evolution of the scene. Who would have imagined that it would go from Harlem drag balls from the 1920s and 1930s to the Kiki scene we have now.” The ball was a stepping stone for Jordenö to gain the trust of the community. “It was about six months into the project and it really was a turning point because people saw that my interest was more real,” she says. “They were like, ‘OK, she’s throwing a ball and is really doing something for the community.’ So after that people were much more comfortable talking to me directly and not just through Twiggy.” “The first ball we filmed was one of Twiggy’s,” Jordenö continues. “There is always a commentator at the balls and me and Twiggy came up with some text for them to read out. So we told everyone there would be cameras and if they weren’t comfortable to let us know. But also the project had been presented in such a way that it was endorsed by the community and had the support of all the houses.” Author Michael Cunningham recounted the origins of the houses in The Slap of Love, his essay on one of the scene’s formative members, Angie Xtravaganza: “In 1977 an imperious, elegant queen named Crystal LaBeija announced that
a ball she’d helped put together was being given by the House of LaBeija, as in House of Chanel or House of Dior... Suddenly every ball was being given by a house. Some queens named their house after themselves, like Avis Pendavis’ House of Pendavis or Dorian Corey’s House of Corey. Others took the names of established designers like Chanel or Saint Laurent.” What the Kiki scene refers to as the “mainstream” ballroom community has continued to develop over the years. “People don’t understand the continuing importance of the houses,” Andre Collins, DJ at the Warehouse in the Bronx, told The Village Voice in 2000. “They think it all ended with Paris is Burning. Those legends – Paris, Pepper and Dorian – are important, but what nobody realises is that the concept has transferred from one generation to another.” The Kiki scene is built around houses with similarly inventive names and specialisms. The main New York ones include House of Unbothered Cartier, House of Galliano, House of Juicy Couture and House of Pucci, founded by Twiggy in 2009. I ask how you go about setting up a house. “There are lots of logistics involved,” he says. “First and foremost you have to figure out what is the mission or goal of the house and why you are creating it. And then keeping that in mind, who are the right people to lead that house to achieve your goal. For the House of Pucci we wanted it to be comprised of people who were great on the ballroom floor and competing in the different categories, but also who give back to the community.” Many of those involved in the Kiki scene are also members of mainstream houses. “For example, as well as having his own house in
In the mainstream scene, ‘Labels’ is a category – you have to be dressed in high fashion head to toe, including your under garments. Jonovia Juicy Couture Milan And I mean expensive of the House of Juicy Couture and the House of Milan expensive. Whereas the Kiki ‘Labels’ category is exactly the opposite. It’s about shopping at low-end bargain shops but still putting together a nice look. the Kiki scene, Twiggy is also part of the mainstream House of Comme des Garçons, hence his name,” says Jordenö. At the balls members from these houses compete for prizes in different categories. “A lot of the categories in the Kiki scene and the ballroom scene are the same, for example the Realness category, the Face categories and the Runway categories,” says Twiggy. The Kiki houses usually have a different identity to each other and specialise in various categories. “It’s usually the founder who sets the tone or theme,” says Jordenö. “For example the House of Pucci, when they do balls, the category of Runway is always very strong. This is Twiggy’s category. Swiper Pucci [RJ Frazer], who is a member of the House of Pucci and an icon of the scene, is also a stylist and fashion designer who has his own brand called NativNy. So his outfits for Runway are always amazing and very elaborate.” Twiggy explains one of the ways the Kiki balls and mainstream balls differ: “In the mainstream
DJ MikeQ with the Qween Beat music crew
scene, ‘Labels’ is a category, when you have to be dressed in high fashion head to toe, including your under garments. And I mean expensive expensive. Whereas the Kiki ‘Labels’ category is exactly the opposite. It’s about shopping at low-end bargain shops but still putting together a nice look.” Jordenö explains the main differences between the Kiki scene and mainstream ballroom scene: “Ballroom is the culture. It’s an artistic tradition that existed in New York for well over 100 years. And it has continued to evolve. So it has a grown-up scene, which in the Kiki vernacular of Twiggy and his friends is the ‘mainstream’ scene. Of course this is not mainstream in the way we might think of it. But it’s more of an older scene. It’s much more competitive and take places in much bigger balls with bigger prizes. The Kiki scene is much more activist led. It was created for the youth in collaboration with communitybased organisations like GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis] and HMI [Hetrick-Martin Institute]. These are important organisations connecting with LGBT youth from age 14 to 25.” An outreach worker at GMHC, Aisha Diori, was also closely connected to the ballroom scene
Lee Soulja, a New York-based performance artist and executive director of NYC Black Pride
through the House of Latex, founded by the late Arbert Santana at the GMHC. In the early 2000s she and Santana had the idea to create a youth movement based on the principles of the ballroom scene but with a firmer focus on issues such as HIV prevention. “Aisha came up with the term and said, ‘We want to create a Kiki scene that is just for the youth,’” says Jordenö. “It is supposed to take the edge of the competitive side and to be more fun and importantly to be more activist and caring. It’s very much youth led. The way Aisha talks about it is that she and these community organisations wanted to give the youth the tools to create their own scene themselves. And that’s what they did. The Kiki scene really is very positive and also very social and activist. It’s a very political scene. The leaders themselves are very young and they are really helping the younger ones, so there is a lot of mentoring going on.” One of those leaders is Twiggy, who explains the importance of the networks between the Kiki houses: “Most of the houses in the scene are connected through the Kiki Coalition and that breaks down into a plethora of sub communities at this point. The mainstream scene also has alliances where they come together to talk about the categories and things in the same way as we do in the Kiki scene. But they are not youth led like the Kiki scene.” A main strand of the work is centred on HIV support and advice. “Organisations like Faces bring in people like Twiggy to get into these communities that are very hard to reach,” says Jordenö. “They work as role models for these young people and are able to persuade them to come in and get tested because they are not
K i k i Mel Mel Juicy Couture Mugler from the House of Juicy Couture and the House of Miyake Mugler
authority figures. You have to remember a lot of these young people from the Kiki scene have been let down by authority, whether it’s family or the school system or the police. They have a very negative view of authority. But community leaders like Twiggy and Chi Chi are able to reach them.” In the film, Chi Chi Mizrahi talks about the importance of the houses as a safety net for young people. “For me I look at it as a safe haven. It’s a place that allows youth that haven’t been fortunate, or given the opportunity to have family or friends and have that support network in place, to come and find that.” Central to this support structure is the way houses are bonded through familial lines that reach back to the 1920s. “Gay black men in Harlem refer to their community, this collection of interrelated social networks, as their family,” explained William G. Hawkeswood in his book One of the Children: Gay Black Men in Harlem. “This conceptualization enhances the emotional meaning of their membership in the group, or gay community, and is expressed verbally by the members in the use of kinship terms for each other. ‘Mother’, ‘sister’, ‘brother… and ‘children’ are all commonly used.” When making the film, Jordenö and Twiggy wanted to bring
viewers closer into the lives of these families. “Neither Twiggy or I want to position ourselves against Paris is Burning, but when you see the strategy of how that film was made, it has quite a lot of distance,” says Jordenö. “So it kind of reveals this world to us and I’m thankful for that because it was an education and introduction for many people to the culture. And that means that now 25 years on, we were able to make a film that was structured differently. The way we chose to structure it was to focus on seven people who are active in the Kiki scene. So it’s a character-driven film and follows this culture through the eyes of them. This was important because the worry I had was that people would be distanced from this world.” For Twiggy it was crucial that Kiki redressed some of the representations of the community in Paris is Burning. “I think it’s a very important historic film and gave a lot of exposure to the ballroom scene. But one of my critical analyses of it was the tone of it, which I thought was very tragic and sorrowful.” The entry point into ballroom culture for people outside of the community has of course been through vogueing. Its 20th-century roots were an extension of both the ballroom category of presentation as well as ‘throwing shade’ or ‘reading’. “Shade came from reading,” explained Venus Xtravaganza in Paris is Burning. “Reading is the real art form of insult. You get in a smart crack, and everyone laughs and ‘ki-kis’ because you found a flaw and exaggerated it, then you’ve got a good read going on… Vogueing is the same thing. Taking two knives and cutting each other up but in a dance form.” Again speaking in Paris
Hall of Famer and commentator Junior LaBeija from the House of LaBeija
is Burning, the legendary Mother of the House of Ninja, Willi Ninja, explained its roots. “Vogueing came from shade because it was a dance that two people did because they didn’t like each other. Instead of fighting you would dance it out on the dancefloor and whoever did the better moves was throwing the best shade… So vogueing is a safe form of throwing shade.” In parallel to the early days of b-boy culture in the South Bronx, where competitive dancing became a creative alternative to fighting among the gangs, vogueing was an equally vital form of artistic expression and survival. By the 1980s, vogueing had developed into a highly skilled art form taken from a wide range of cultural sources. “Like breakdancing, the dance takes from the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. It also takes on some forms of gymnastics,” explained Willi Ninja, a master of “old way” (pre-1990) vogueing, defined by its clean lines and precision. By the mid-1990s a much more aggressive style of vogueing had taken root. “A ‘new way’ of vogueing also began to be popularised around this time, with the category of Femme Queen Vogue,” wrote Horse Meat Disco DJ Luke Howard in an article in the Gay Times in August 2008. “Wild head-spinning to prove you aren’t wearing a wig, the duck walk similar to a Russian Cossack dance done on the haunches and suicide dips, sometimes known as Makevelli, where contestants slam themselves onto the floor back-first, using a bent leg to support the fall.” In today’s Kiki scene there are
The Kiki scene is not just about balls and vogueing. It’s about the family and the people in it and why they came to this scene. It’s Jamal Lewis Lanvin from a refuge for them. If the House of Lanvin a white, middle-class straight woman is doing vogue, it’s very different to when an African American inner-city homeless youth is doing it.
even more dramatic forms of vogueing, in particular in the category of Butch Queen Vogue Femme. “There are a lot more acrobatic tricks and stunts and extreme charismatic emotions in comparison to both old way and new way,” says Twiggy. The music to accompany vogue battles has continued to evolve to match the dance styles. In the 1980s big tracks included anything from the Shep Pettibone mix of ‘Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)’ by the Salsoul Orchestra to George Kranz’s ‘Din Daa Daa’. By the 1990s records were being tailor-made for the walkways and dancefloor as the new way took hold. It was played to stunning effect by Junior Vasquez at Sound Factory in New York, and included tracks such as ‘Walk 4 Me’ by Robbie Tronco, ‘Feel This’ by Robbie Rivera and ‘If Madonna Calls’ by Junior Vasquez. But the ultimate anthem was Masters at Work’s ‘The Ha Dance’. DJ MikeQ, who provides the soundtrack for the Kiki film, recalled the importance of the track in an interview with XLR8R magazine. “Oh, it’s definitely all about the Ha,” he said. “When I heard that track, I knew what I wanted to do.” After going to his first ball in New Jersey in 2003, MikeQ bought an Akai MPC1000 sampler and set about creating his own raw sounds for the voguers. His Qween Beats label is at the forefront of a new wave of producers including DJ Angel X from Atlanta and Washington DC’s Vjuan Allure. While vogueing has continued to bring the culture into the public eye, Jordenö was determined to show how the art form and the community are intertwined. “If you just take the balls and the creative expression and sever it from the personal histories and the family
Nicole Icon Khan from the House of Khan and mentor to the House of Unbithered York
systems that are central to the scene then you really get it wrong,” she says. “The Kiki scene is not just about the balls and the vogueing. It’s about the family and the people in it and why they came to this scene. It’s a refuge for them. If a white, middle-class straight woman is doing vogue, it’s very different to when an African American inner-city homeless youth like Divo, who grew up in an area where it was very dangerous for a man to display femininity, is doing it. It’s very important to see that vogueing came from a struggle and a conflict. That’s why the art form can be so explosive.” In Kiki we hear the young vogue artist known as Divo Pink Lady talk about what the art form has done for him: “I used to get abused when I was younger, I kind of went through it all. I went through the emotional abuse, the verbal abuse, I went through the physical [and] the ballroom scene really did help me,” he says. “When I vogue that’s why I give so much. Vogueing is not just a dance to me, it’s an art – it’s an outlet to me.” In Kiki we see Divo and his friends vogueing along Christopher Street Pier. “When I first came out I guess you would call me a pier head. We used to stay on the pier all day and vogue all day and all night. Honestly if it wasn’t for the pier there wouldn’t be a Divo,” he says. The Christopher Street Pier is an important hub for the Kiki community, just as it as was for the ballroom scene in years past. “I was there filming and it was really great because I met some really young people there who were vogueing a little bit and I asked them if they knew of the Kiki scene,” says Jordenö. “And they didn’t, so I was able to introduce them to it. So it’s a very important place for people to be find out about the Kiki scene and to become part of it. But the police
and the property owners in the area are working really hard to remove them from the space because they are seen as an unwanted element.” In Kiki, Divo describes his feelings about being stereotyped as a troublemaker. “I feel like society looks at us as all the same and it’s not fair,” he says. “I’ve been arrested three times in my life and they treated us like garbage.” Hopefully with awards such as Best Documentary at this year’s Berlinale film festival, perceptions of this young community will be changed forever. “People look at the Kiki scene and ballroom culture and think they don’t know what it is. But they do. It’s all over popular culture, whether through a Beyoncé video or a TV ad or whatever,” says Jordenö. “We wanted to show that these were people involved in a creative community and an art form that has been part of the culture of New York City for over 100 years but has not been recognised.” Kiki premieres at Sheffield Documentary Festival on 11 June. It will also be screening at the LGBT film festival Frameline in San Francisco,16-26 June kikimovie.com sheffdocfest.com frameline.org
YOUNG HOLLYWOOD Photographs James Dimmock Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Words Chris May Grooming Andrea Pezzillo at JK Artists using Oribe Hair and Make-up Danielle Decker at JK Artists using MAC Cosmetics and Oribe Photographic Assistants José Léon and Dennis Lin Production Assistant James Eason
Jacket by Herno menswear; shirt by The Kooples menswear.
Nadine Crocker Born in Nashville and raised in the small Californian town of Fresno, Nadine Crocker moved to Los Angeles on her own aged 17, intent on making a career in the movies. “All my friends at high school thought I was insane,” says Crocker. “But I’ve always gone my own way.” Ten years on, the move has paid off – Crocker is scaring the shit out of audiences in Eli Roth’s 2016 remake of his 2002 horror film, Cabin Fever. For the first few years in LA, Crocker paid her way with part-time waitressing jobs. “My parents were very supportive,” she says. “It wasn’t easy for them because they didn’t have a lot of money – my dad restores classic cars and my mum is in sales with an office supplies company. They were struggling as well, but they did everything they could to support me. They’re still my best friends. Even when Cabin Fever came out and had nudity in it, dad toughed through it.” Crocker has also begun a career as a scriptwriter. “I’ve got a script about mental health and depression that I want to get shot,” she says. “I suffered from terrible, terrible depression until quite recently and it’s a subject I’m passionate about. We have history in my family. My grandmother killed herself, my dad suffered from terrible depression, and I came very close to killing myself when I was 23. The script is about living with depression and how everything can change for you. Like, I’m finally acting; I’m doing what I love. I couldn’t imagine that at 23, up against it with no work coming in. But at that age, you know nothing.” Crocker’s script has the working title Cont;nue, employing the semi-colon symbol used by the US charity the Semicolon Project, which campaigns on issues relating to suicide and depression. The symbol indicates a pause and continuation, rather than a terminal full stop. Nadine Crocker stars in the film Cabin Fever, out now in UK cinemas ifcfilms.com 120 J &
Suit and shirt by Gant Rugger menswear; T-shirt, stylist’s own; hat, model’s own.
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Jacket by Caruso; shirt by Thom Sweeney; scarf, stylistâ€™s own.
Jacket by The Kooples; jeans by YMC; shirt by Caruso.
Ryan Cooper Ryan Cooper was born in Papua New Guinea to an Australian missionary family. He worked as a carpenter in New Zealand for six years, before a chance encounter led to him being featured in a DKNY ad campaign in 2008. Work for Armani, Hugo Boss and Esprit followed. Cooper broke into acting on the long-established US soap opera One Life to Live. Like Nadine Crocker, Cooper is also a scriptwriter. And again like Crocker, his debut project – the short film Left Behind – deals with mental health and depression. “A friend of mine opened up to me about a lot of his life’s issues late one night,” says Cooper. “It felt as though that opportunity for me to just listen and care was life saving. Left Behind just fell out of me the following morning. My own family history includes mental illness. My grandfather took his life and the shadow of that hung around. And I have fought with a few of the monsters myself. “I wanted to make a little film that addressed mental illness openly and honestly, in a fictional setting. I believe film should be entertainment and cathartic and I felt this piece was an interesting way to do both. I’m hoping it will be used in schools and online to bring awareness and non-judgemental discussion to the topic. I personally have found when I’m able to talk about my depressions and anxiety with others it is cathartic. Isolation breeds fear and can allow insecurities to overtake perspective and reality. When I was isolated and wouldn’t share, or wasn’t given the opportunity to do so, things got worse. We all need a loving, understanding, educated community in order to find solace and thrive.” theryancooper.com J &
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Madeleine Arthur Recently starring in the US television thriller series The Family this year, Madeleine Arthur cut her acting teeth in other surreal, uncanny or just plain creepy TV series such as The Killing, Supernatural, The Haunting Hour and Spooksville. When I suggest that directors were probably attracted to her for these roles because of her big, waif-like eyes and wholesome, childlike appearance, she agrees. “If they think of me that way, that’s great,” says Arthur. “As long as they think of me in other ways as well. But I’m thankful, because I’ve had a lot of fun getting to play those innocent but disturbing roles with deep, dark undertones.” Arthur’s big-screen breakthrough came in late 2014, when she appeared in Tim Burton’s film Big Eyes. Still only 19, Arthur spends much of each year working in Los Angeles and New York, but continues to regard her birthplace in Vancouver, Canada, as home. She began acting when she was six. “I played Oliver in Oliver Twist,” says Arthur. “It was at a theatre camp during school vacation. I loved dressing up and putting on shows with my cousins at home and I somehow heard about this summer camp. Apparently I really pressured my parents to let me go.” Arthur also trained as a gymnast and competed in tournaments until she was 13. “I coached children for five years too,” Arthur says. “I never saw gymnastics as a career though, it was just for fun. I gave it up when I started acting. Also, by the time you’re in your mid-teens, that’s getting pretty old for top-level performance. But we have something called adult gymnastics in Vancouver, which I still do when I’m home.” Madeleine Arthur is currently starring in the TV series The Family abc.com
Sweater by Gant Rugger menswear; trousers by The Kooples menswear; shirt by Richard James menswear; trainers by Gant. Jacket by The Kooples menswear; shirt by Gant menswear; scarf and chain, stylist’s own. J &
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Suit and tie by Thom Sweeney; shirt by Caruso; tie-clip, stylist’s own; ring, model’s own. Jacket by Richard James; T-shirt by Sunspel; sunglasses by Ray-Ban.
Huw Collins Huw Collins was a professional rugby player before he became an actor. Born in London to Welsh parents, he grew up in a house where rugby was almost a religion. “My dad played, both my older brothers played professionally, my mum was briefly a member of the London Welsh Women team and I started when I was four,” says Collins, who played for the Welsh under 19s before joining Saracens as fly half. His move into acting was, he says, emotional rather than rational: “I just wanted to do something totally different when I gave up professional sport.” Collins’ first stage part was the title role in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, by the Love and Madness theatre company, which toured Britain extensively in 2011-12. Collins then moved to Los Angeles, where he currently stars in the long-running TV drama Pretty Little Liars. Despite their apparent differences, Collins has found parallels between acting and rugby. “Sport is a lot like acting in that you can’t think about other things when you’re doing either of them,” he says. “You’re too much in the moment. Then there’s the amount of discipline and dedication to your craft that you need. Come rain or come shine, a sportsman has to get out onto the training field or into the gym and prepare his body for the things he’s going to do. And in the same way an actor has to prepare their body, their voice, for what they’re going to do. Guys like Jonny Wilkinson are the first out of the dressing room and onto the training pitch, and the last off it – actors could take a leaf out of that book. The commitment you need in both endeavours is all consuming.” Huw Collins stars in season seven of the TV series Pretty Little Liars, out at the end of June, and the film One Night, out later this year freeform.go.com J &
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Jacket by Caruso; trousers by The Kooples; shirt and scarf, stylist’s own; boots, model’s own.
Kyle Allen Before Kyle Allen became an actor, he was a ballet dancer. Allen came to ballet relatively late, aged 13, a good five years after most dancers start training. His previous experience in acrobatics helped him make up ground. “I was a bumptious kid with a lot of energy,” he says. “So when I was seven, my parents stuck me in a gymnastics class to burn it off. But I got bored and started doing all this crazy circus stuff. Then a woman from the Kirov ballet company saw me and she said that I should audition for the Kirov Academy in Washington DC. She persuaded me that I could be a principal dancer. So I auditioned and I got in. But I really got more fired up with contemporary dance. I was way better at that because, after acrobatics and gymnastics, contemporary technique came really easily.” Allen trained at the Kirov for five years, until he was 18. But by then he had become more interested in acting. “I had spent six days on a movie set doing a crazy Japanese ad campaign for Pepsi. It was shot like a series of films. I was running around with a samurai sword and I just loved the whole experience. It was one of those moments when I thought, yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” Dance training is physically rigorous, and to begin with Allen thought actors had it easy. “It’s limited physical training for acting,” he says. “But in its own way it’s just as hard as learning to dance. You have to invest the same amount of energy. Learning how to use your voice is one thing and I also had to dial down the physicality – I had to learn how to internalise all the movements that I’d make as a dancer.” Kyle Allen stars in season two of The Path and the film One Night, both out later this year hulu.com
Jacket by The Kooples; trousers by Gant; shirt by Richard James.
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H o l l y w o o d Jacket by Gant Diamond G; jeans and hat, model’s own; sweater by Thom Sweeney. Suit by Caruso; shirt by Gant Rugger; hat, model’s own
Evan Ross The son of Diana Ross, Evan Ross grew up surrounded by music, and has a parallel career as a singer. “Just being in that house inspired me to make music,” he says. “Because of my mum and all her friends who came over to visit. I can remember Luther Vandross singing to me when I was little. So that world seemed normal and everyday to me. I was a super-massive fan of Michael Jackson though, and whenever he visited that was special, beyond exciting.” Ross has just finished an album and is working on another with his wife, the singer Ashlee Simpson. He decided to become an actor before he went into music. “People expect you to tell your story in your music,” he says. “It’s what the music industry pushes you into. That’s hard when you’re younger, you don’t have that much of a story to tell. I didn’t feel ready for it. What attracted me to acting was that you’re there to inhabit another character. And I like the way an actor is there to realise the director’s ideas, to be part of making something else happen... [British director] Tony Kaye is a visionary. Working with him [on Black Water Transit] was an incredible experience.” What does Ross think about the controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars and their under-representation of African American actors? “It focused attention on the issue,” he says. “That’s the most important thing. Shining a light on a dark corner. The more people have to think about it, the faster it’s likely to change. I do feel things are going in the right direction though. More opportunities are definitely coming our way.” Evan Ross stars in the film True to the Game, which is currently in post-production imanientgroup.com 130 J &
Chris ‘Jimmy’ Bell, boot boy, wears coat by Gieves and Hawkes; jeans by Levi’s Sta-Prest, shirt by Brutus and boots by Dr Martens, all model’s own; sweater by Uniqlo.
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Chris wears jacket and jeans by Levi’s Capital E, boots by Dr Martens, braces, scarf and socks, all model’s own; top by Fred Perry; sunglasses by Ray-Ban. Francesca wears jacket by Bally menswear; jumpsuit, sweater, shoes, sunglasses and tights, all model’s own.
Photographs Dean Chalkley Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Photographic Assistant Chris Chudleigh Couple Chris and Francesca Bell
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Chris wears jacket by YMC; top by Fred Perry x Nigel Cabourn; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; scarf, model’s own. Francesca wears jacket by Maison Kitsuné menswear; cardigan, jumpsuit, sweater, sunglasses and jewellery, all model’s own.
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Chris wears jacket by Lee, boots by Dr Martens and braces, all modelâ€™s own; trousers by Lanvin; top by Farah.
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Chris wear jacket by Coach; jeans by Levi’s and boots by Dr Martens, all model’s own; sweater by Lacoste; bag by Forbes and Lewis.
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Chris wears top by Fred Perry x Raf Simons; braces, modelâ€™s own.
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Chris wears trousers by Roxy Threads, shirt by Brutus, shoes by Frank Wright, coat and socks, all modelâ€™s own; cardigan by John Smedley.
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Chris wears coat by Grenfell; jeans by Levi’s, shirt by Brutus, boots by Dr Martens, sweater, braces and scarf, all model’s own. J &
The Highways of the USA
are at the very heart of what it means to be American. On the centenary of President Woodrow Wilson setting the public highway system in motion, filmmaker Alex Cox, artist Jane Dickson and writer Matt Dellinger discuss the peculiar romance of the open road.
Interstate 10 by the State Route 111 turn off to Palm Springs 140 J &
Words Mark Webster Photographs Janette Beckman, Pablo Kjolseth
“When I think about it, I go back to before there were many people on this continent. Back to the buffalo,” says Matt Dellinger, whose book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway is an account of the intriguing, convoluted and sometimes unscrupulous manner in which the USA’s road infrastructure has developed across two centuries – and in the process created a mythology that resonates in books such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, songs such as Chuck Berry’s ‘Route 66’ and a whole road-movie genre. “There’s a road known as the Trace,” says Dellinger. “It was named after what was called the Buffalo Trace, which runs from Tennessee to Kentucky, and it follows the route of how they once travelled from salt
lake to plain and back. And they found the best route. You could see where they trampled the earth as they migrated from place to place. First it became an Indian trail. Then they built a road on top of it. Because if it’s the best route, it’s the best route.” When the land mass that was to become North America was discovered by Europeans, it not only became a symbol for freedom, but also a vast canvas on to which would be painted an enormous dot-to-dot picture of travel and discovery. On horseback, along wagon trails, up and down rivers, then steaming along on railway tracks, the USA began to open up at speed, creating a patchwork quilt of a country that was as disparate as it was united. But it wasn’t until the turn of the 19th century that the States really went into top gear, when Henry Ford opened up shop in Detroit, Michigan, on 16 June 1903 to build his own versions of the new-fangled motorcar. Five years later, with the aid of his pioneering assembly line, the first Model Ts started to leave the factory, and from that moment on the USA and the rest of the world never looked back.
“I was born in Indianapolis, and when one grows up in Indiana, in the suburbs, driving is a necessary activity,” Dellinger tells me from his airy apartment on a quiet street in Brooklyn. “So for me, driving had been freedom. And it was a big deal whether or not you had a car in high school. Because it was the difference between going where you wanted, or relying on someone else.” The wide-open spaces of Indiana, also known as the Hoosier State, have provided the perfect breeding ground for Americans who want to hit the open road. Carl Fisher was born in the town of Greensburg, southeast of Indianapolis, in 1874. In 1891, he opened a bicycle repair shop there, before expanding into cycle racing, then automobile racing, along the state’s primitive and dangerous roadways – on which he would
frequently hurt himself during his many promotional stunts. This led to him inventing a number of safety features for the new form of transportation (for which he started the country’s first dealership), then developing a custom-built track that would become the birthplace of the Indy 500 automobile race. But of much broader impact to the nation was the fact that Fisher could see the direction in which his country was inevitably heading and, in 1913, used the skills he had garnered to conceive, finance and help construct the first great modern American road – the Lincoln Highway, which connected New York City to San Francisco. It was an act of bravado that deliberately cocked a snook at government and commerce. A year before he set out on his groundbreaking mission, he stated that “the highways of America are
As Carl Fisher said, ‘the highways of America are built chiefly of politics, whereas the proper material is crushed rock’.
Mark Dellinger, author
State Route 190, near Death Valley, California built chiefly of politics, whereas the proper material is crushed rock, or concrete”. Which, as Dellinger points out, wasn’t a new idea even then, as “in colonial times there were private turnpikes, from one town to the next, and they’d charge you to use their carriageway”. Three years after Fisher began his work, politics did finally take a more logical and positive role in proceedings. On 11 July 1916 legislation was passed for the Federal Aid Road Act, with President Woodrow Wilson proclaiming at its inception that “the comfort and prosperity of rural life and development of the city are alike conserved by the construction of public highways”. Forty years later, the White House’s then incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower used the same act to introduce the highway’s big brother, the Interstate, which added unremitting speed to the equation. “But there are still people who look at the roads and say the map is not finished,” says Dellinger, who in spite of his New York lifestyle retains that spark of pioneering adventure that has burned inside his fellow Americans across the generations – and with it an ongoing sense of romance and adventure that still inspires works of art and literature, music and movie-making. His book is part travelogue, and he frequently makes journeys “the long way, snapping these small towns out of the window. I got to love the motion blur. And you can drive through places that the GPS says is a town, but is now just a name on a silo”. Dellinger unfurls a cracked and crinkled map for me to see, which he illustrated when he was 16, tracing the 2,200 or so miles he and his family drove from Indianapolis to San Francisco for an aunt’s wedding. The stops are marked, as are the flat tyres. Written across it in Spanish, and in letters that run almost coast to coast, is the legend “the trip from hell”. Interstate 10, California On that map you can see that an immediate neighbour of Indiana is Illinois, where artist Jane Dickson began her life in a suburb of Chicago. Like Dellinger she also found herself filling out her formative years in Indianapolis, and now lives in New
Matt Dellinger York. “I was born in the 1950s,” she tells me in her Tribeca apartment in Manhattan. “And that was very much a time when the car was a symbol of freedom – the rebel without a cause. That whole James Dean thing [perhaps not surprisingly, the actor and sometime car racer was born and raised a Hoosier, an hour’s drive from Indianapolis] was before my time, but that was the myth we grew up with. By the time we hit high school, I felt like it was a flip of the coin between me and my friends – who went east and who went west. Nobody wanted to stay. I came first, east. I’m still waiting for my west coast chapter.” Some of that engine oil and grease of her youth has ingrained itself into Dickson in later life. “My high school boyfriend rode motorcycles and fixed up cars. So I’d stood around holding wrenches since I was 15,” she recalls. And a teenage visit to a demolition derby became a later influence for a series of paintings that celebrate what Dickson feels is becoming an “endangered species” as a great American pastime. But it is the road that seems to frequently draw Dickson’s attention as an artist, who has what she calls “an anthropological approach” to her work. “It’s like, OK, let’s do a few case studies. I’m the case. This is how this looks to me here and now.” Much of what Dickson has chosen to study can be found alongside the highways and freeways of America. Early collections have featured the gas stations, overpasses and strip malls – sights that are at once anonymous and exemplary – that litter the nation’s infrastructure. The most recent collection, painted directly onto astroturf, focuses on the act of moving along those thoroughfares. “I started these paintings because I was commuting,” she says. “I was teaching an hour north of the city and there was a lot of time on the road. So I started photographing as I was driving – not a recommended activity. But I had
H i g h w a y s Alex Cox in Goblin Valley, Utah Photograph Pablo Kjolseth
a lot of time in the car and thought, OK, this looks awesome. “So these are commuter paintings. It’s all about the monotony. And I called it Out of Here because I was feeling claustrophobic in the city, all these buildings, and the kids were getting bigger... so I thought just jump in the car! Where you just sit in traffic. So it’s the crossroads between the hope and the reality.” This is a description that British film director and writer Alex Cox would very much recognise. He is now living in what he describes as “the wildland urban interface” of Oregon, which is a part of the world that plays perfectly into not only his love of the American Western genre – he is currently in Arizona, shooting his latest project, Tombstone Rashomon – but also the open road as a film set. His early crossover hit, 1984’s Repo Man, tapped immediately into that world where fast cars meet small town America, while in 2007 he mainlined on the genre with Searchers 2.0. And as he tells me before he sets off even further into the desert to
shoot his new film, “That’s the American notion isn’t it? That you can drive off to a new world and go and live differently. But I think it can actually be a homogenous culture. So much is the similarity. It’s the fantasy that is often different – which is the whole road movie part of it all. But it remains fascinating because it is still there, and to find it is a treat.” For Cox, those who are getting out there and finding it now are “middle-aged guys with disposable income on motorcycles”. It’s a concept that has already made its way to the big screen, with John Travolta and William H. Macy in 2007’s Wild Hogs – a comedy that plays against the classics of the genre such as 1953’s The Wild One, and the benchmark biker movie, 1969’s Easy Rider. But whichever film you care to choose – Cox cites what many consider a cult classic of the genre, 1971’s Two-Lane Blacktop – he feels there is a look, a feel, an atmosphere that can still be captured. “It’s those lonely, isolated roads that are so romantic,” he says. “Not so much the Interstate. After all, how romantic is the M6? You need to get off of the Interstate and on to those two-lane roads that have more of the magic, the
It’s those lonely, isolated roads that are so romantic. Not so much the Interstate. After all, how romantic is the M6? Alex Cox, filmmaker
Route 66, Arizona
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I was feeling claustrophobic in the city, so I would jump in the car. Where you just sit in traffic. So it’s the crossroads between the hope and the reality. Jane Dickson, artist
Jane Dickson, in front of her painting God Truck, 2003 authenticity, the wildness. In Searchers 2.0, which went from LA to Arizona, the characters actually eschew the freeway and talk about finding the least direct way. And if you’re filming all of this, you don’t have to get permission. You only have a small crew. A small cast. Keep the top down on the car. Constantly change locations. You don’t see glorified, you don’t see exaggerated. Oh, and Monument Valley should always be the destination.” But this does not mean that the open roads of the US, which have been so eulogised over the generations, now only exist as fantasy. Cox says the idea of a road trip is “absolutely still relevant”. Dickson is also quick to point out that well worth driving are “these beautiful parkways that were the first highways. There are still a few”. When I suggest to Dellinger that perhaps these iconic drives may not exist any more, he is quick to counter: “It is more cyclical than that. That place that might now be forgotten and boarded up and devoid of investment, depending on a thousand cultural reasons, can be revived, and in fact some already are.” So get your motor running, hit the road and go get your kicks. The film Tombstone Rashomon, directed by Alex Cox, is currently in post-production alexcoxfilms.wordpress.com janedickson.com twitter.com/mattdellinger
Through a combination of high-octane choreography, explosive percussion and a filmmakerâ€™s sensibility,
HOFESH SHECHTER Words Andy Thomas
is bringing contemporary dance to a whole new audience. He reveals his influences, from Baz Luhrmann and Stanley Kubrick to compulsory military service in Israel.
Barbarians, performed by the Hofesh Shechter Company. Photograph Gabriele Zucca
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The production of Political Mother at London’s Brixton Academy last autumn was a turning point for Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, making his work accessible to a whole new audience and bringing a fresh perspective to contemporary dance. When asked by Hannah Ellis-Petersen of The Guardian why he chose to stage his dance show in a concert venue, Shechter said: “Contemporary dance is like some sort of underground club and when people encounter it and discover it, they feel like they own something very special and kind of crazy. It’s a bag full of surprises – it can be great, it can be horrible and people have to accept that as part of the experiment.” And experimentation has been at the heart of Shechter’s work since he burst onto London’s contemporary dance scene in the early 2000s. Born in 1975, Shechter graduated from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance before moving to Tel Aviv to join Batsheva Dance Company, where he worked with the influential choreographer Ohad Naharin, among others. He arrived in the UK in 2002 after two years in Paris, playing percussion with his band the Human Beings. He joined the Jasmin Vardimon Company soon after, before creating his first choreographed work, Fragments. Set to his own soundtrack, the performance led to his appointment as an associate artist at the Place, London’s contemporary dance hub. It was Shechter’s 2006 work Uprising that really signalled his arrival on London’s contemporary dance scene. “There was suddenly an important new voice,” said Alistair Spalding, director of Sadler’s Wells
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Theatre. “I think it’s not just the choreography, it’s his dominance of the stage. He works more like a filmmaker in a way, telling you what you should be looking at when. He composes the music. He is brilliant at structure. And his choreographic style is very organic.” Uprising was a highly charged, visceral work featuring seven male dancers in combat trousers sparring and bonding to Shechter’s throbbing, percussive score. “I almost felt I had this wild dog inside me that needs to be unleashed,” Shechter said at the time. “It’s really about the childish and competitive mood of a group of men flung together in a room, so there’s something very powerful about it. It’s loud, the guys are very, very physical.” The work drew from his experience of national service in Israel, and the atmosphere of his home country hangs over much of his work. “There’s a combative feeling in the air. It melts into everything. It’s like an energy you’re living inside,” he said. In The Art of Not Looking Back in 2009, Shechter reversed the roles, with an all-female cast and a narration by himself about being left by his mother when he was just two years of age. It was made under the name of the Hofesh Shechter Dance
Company, his Brighton-based troupe that have been creating highly individual work since their formation in 2008. When asked for inspirations, Shechter enthuses about film directors rather than other choreographers, in particular Stanley Kubrick. “I find him a genius of storytelling. He leaves the audience thinking all the time – it’s very suggestive, powerful stuff,” he said recently. His interest in reaching beyond the dance world also saw him work with British sculptor Antony Gormley on Survivor in 2012. It was a collaboration he described as “two lost particles in a universe of many particles – which are all lost as well”. First created in 2010, Political Mother is the company’s most famous piece. Dance critic Mark Monahan described the performance at Brixton Academy last October: “On ground level is a row of faintly terrifying martial snare drummers. Way above them, also spaced out across the full width of the stage, is a classical octet. And floating above them, some 40 feet up – like something that might have blasted its way out of the latest Mad Max film – is a 12-piece band of drummers, percussionists and electric guitarists, with a ranting dictatorcum-rock star at its centre.” Many of the young people in the crowd that evening would have been introduced to Shechter through ‘Maxxie’s Dance’, the opening sequence of the second series of Channel 4’s Skins. Today Shechter continues to create work that challenges the contemporary dance world. We spoke to the choreographer over the phone from Nederlands Dans Theater, where he was preparing for the world premiere of his latest production, Clowns.
I wanted to create material that was wild, strong and from the body. There was something about the energy of a group of men that I really felt like unleashing at the time.
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What was your first love, music or dance?
On the one hand my service was very light because I got a special status as a dancer Oh music, I knew nothing about and was kind of like a clerk doing very little dance and was not connected to for the army. But at the same time I felt the it in any way. I was as distanced oppressive presence of it in my life, because from it as we are from the sun. they wouldn’t just I started to study the piano when release me as a Barbarians. Photograph Gabriele Zucca I was six years old. I hated to dancer. So there was practise but I loved playing and some effect there but making tunes. I had a little tape I would say it was recorder and I loved messing more about just the around with that. And also existence of the army listening to a lot of records. That and the general state was my first contact point with of Israel. And how art and what I really loved. bizarre it is to have inside a democratic When did you discover dance? society a hierarchical That was much later, when I was organisation where about 12. I started to dance with there are completely a youth dance folk company that different rules. So I mainly joined for social reasons. whatever rules you It was nice to be with a group of grow up educated people and touring around Israel. with as a kid, And also going abroad, because suddenly you’re that was a very special thing thrust into the army back then. But yes, learning form Ohad was my school and the rules are different. So it is a very, very and that is where I came from. bizarre and slightly scary situation. I think How important was your time it’s had a huge influence on me and on When did you start playing percussion? at Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Israel. The presence of the army in Israel I didn’t start studying percussion until I Company under Ohad Naharin? is something you can’t miss, it’s part of the That was extremely important. was about 21. I had been at the Batsheva politics, it’s part of the discussion, it is part I joined the junior company Dance Company for a few years and got to of the terror and the fear. when I was 18 and I wasn’t the stage where I didn’t know if I wanted to Male bonding has been one of the themes very developed as a dancer. So dance any more. I really missed the world of of your work. Does some of that come from I learned so much through music so decided to come back to it through your experiences of national service? Ohad. He is a real master of percussion. I also bought myself a digital Yes, there is some of that in there, from my the body, space and time. There four-track and started experimenting with little time in the army and seeing the boot was so much to learn from him. recording music. camps and that. But again it’s also just seeing It was also great being in an What impact did national service have on you the society around and seeing the guys who environment where the dancers and on the psyche of young people in Israel? were what we call the real fighters. The ones were so talented. At the time, who come back every 30 days or whatever and you see the Political Mother, performed by the Hofesh Shechter Company. connections they have with each Photograph Victor Frankowski other, which is based on being in an extreme situation together. It’s a very bizarre kind of bonding. There is something very basic about it and close to primitive. Ohad was inviting other choreographers in to make work as well, so I brushed against the work of people like Paul Selwyn Norton. And then we would perform the work of [William] Forsythe. So it was a real education for me.
I understand you spent some time in Paris away from dance. How did you end up there? I was married to a French girl and we decided to leave Israel and spend some time living there. We decided to travel for a bit and for me to have a break from dance. We were living in a village outside of Paris at the home where my ex-wife grew up with her mum. It was a very different experience for me, kind of pastoral. It was a moment when I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life.
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S h e c h t e r look for opportunities to perform Fragments there. So I sent videos around to many people who just ignored me. But a small theatre in High Barnet picked it up. I performed it there and John Ashford, the director of the Place, came to see it and invited me to perform it there. Then he invited me to become an associate artist and it went from there. I owe John Ashford more than you can believe.
I wasn’t sure if it was dance because being at Batsheva had been like a high-speed train at times. I wanted some time to myself. So I continued to study percussion and experiment with music. I was also playing with a rock band [Human Beings].
And then you moved to England?
Barbarians. Photograph Gabriele Zucca
My wife wanted to study at the British School of Osteopathy and at the same time my band wanted to move to London. So I was like, yeah, OK. I had previously only been to London once for one day and it wasn’t a good day. It was so expensive I couldn’t afford a sandwich, and I thought it was so big and messy. So when I got there it took me some time to love it. But I really didn’t have any plans or dreams when I arrived.
How did you end up joining the Jasmin Vardimon Company?
music for a dance piece. I had a month free so I tasked myself with creating a piece of dance to go with this music I had finished. I went to the local church hall and started to work the choreography with the music. At the time I felt like I needed a purpose to do this and I found a choreography competition in Finland and decided to apply. They accepted it and I took Fragments to Finland. So I jumped into it.
When I got to London I had decided I didn’t want to dance any more, but seeing that How did you get picked up by surviving there was really challenging, I the Place? thought, oh well, I’m a professional dancer, When I came back to London I better find a job to pay the bills. So that from Finland I thought I would really was the way I came back to dance. I heard that Jasmin was looking for a Political Mother. Photograph Gabriele Zucca dancer so I got in touch and auditioned and they took me on.
When did you move into choreography? I’d been at Jasmin Vardimon for a couple of years and decided that now I really wanted to do my own work and not for other choreographers. And so I created my first work, Fragments.
How did you make that transition from being a dancer to a choreographer? I had experimented for many years with making music and suddenly I thought, I am going to create
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Uprising was one of the works that came through your time with the Place. Why did you decide on an all-male cast? I wanted to create material that was wild, strong and from the body. I’m not saying women can’t do this, but there was something about the energy of a group of men that I really felt like unleashing at the time.
In works such as Fragments and Uprising, your dancers are dressed in casual wear. Why did you decide on that? I like things that are very simple and that belong to the street – to us, the people. I’m trying as far as possible to not isolate the work from life. Of course the work takes place in the theatre, but I like that there is a real connection to who or what we are, and that there is no pretence. But in the last few years, for example with Barbarians, I’ve started to use costumes more.
Why is it to so important for you to make your own music for your shows?
really understood something the rest of us don’t know.
It goes back to something William Forsythe said, along the lines of “what you can do yourself, then do yourself ”. The more you do yourself the more complete the work is. I think I made a name for myself as a bit of a control freak though. But to create the music for me is to create the atmosphere and the rhythm of the work. It’s very hard when you’re using someone else’s ready-made music because you are enslaved to it, to the timing of it and to what it says. Sometimes I use ready-made music but usually I create my own.
I’ve always been struck by your use of lighting.
And what comes first, music or choreography?
What was the first work for your own company?
It really depends on the creation. With some work the idea of the choreography comes first and then I start searching for what music to make. And then with other work it’s the other way around, I will have a snippet of music which will kick-start the idea for the dance. I don’t have a set process, and in fact it’s quite chaotic the way it happens.
It was created out of In Your Rooms, which was an Arts Council-backed project that we performed at the Place, then the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Sadler’s Wells. After we took it to Sadler’s Wells they said they would give us regular funding to set up the company. And the dancers from In Your Rooms became the dancers of the company.
Sadler’s Wells director Alistair Spalding said you work more like a filmmaker. How important has cinema been to you?
I love England, but I find London particularly invigorating and exciting. For me there are so many windows of opportunity here. If you try hard enough it seems like something must happen. There are so many options, in
Film is a real inspiration to me. There is one film that I don’t mention enough and that is Moulin Rouge [directed by Baz Luhrmann in 2001]. I saw it again recently, and there is just something about the franticness of it. They were so brave in the whole chaos of the film with the layering and editing. And also the production of the music, that is something I really aspire to, that multi-layered massive kind of production.
Which other directors have inspired you? I love Charlie Kaufman with films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Just the storytelling and editing is so interesting there. And then Kubrick is of course another major influence. His ability to portray human emotion through images and ideas is just amazing. I think he
I worked with [lighting designer] Lee Curran for many years and he has a very strong footprint in what he does, and really strong colours. I think the lighting for me is about creating a space that is epic. That creates a really strong feeling for me.
You mentioned the all-male cast for Uprising. In The Art of Not Looking Back in 2009 you chose an all-female cast. Why? It really came from a very simple idea of challenging myself. After doing Uprising with the all-male cast, I wanted to put myself in a room with female dancers and see what happens. And that was really interesting.
the people you meet and the projects you can do. And that richness is something I really love. But as I said, I learned to love it because it was a very hard entry.
Political Mother introduced your work to a much younger new audience. Is this something that’s important to you? It’s not a mission that I have. But like I said, I didn’t grow up on dance, I grew up on music. And I think my tastes are probably closer to the people who love music than the people who love dance. So it excites me that a lot of new people are coming to the work. Because something about the work is about us – the tribe. And it’s really powerful when a lot of people are connecting to it and feeling something direct coming from it. There is something very raw about it. I like that the work is not pretentious and distant or a work that is just there to serve the well-educated contemporary dance audience. I make work that I want to see and to experience myself. The contemporary dance production Clowns by Hofesh Shechter opens at Stadsschouwburg, Utrecht, on 7 June stadsschouwburg-utrecht.nl hofesh.co.uk
How do you find being in England now?
Political Mother. Photograph Gabriele Zucca
It’s very hard when you’re using someone else’s ready-made music because you’re enslaved to it, to the timing of it and to what it says. Usually I create my own. J &
SCENE INBETWEEN Photographs David Goldman Styling Richard Simpson Photographic Assistant Garth McKee Grooming Keiichiro Hirano at David Artists using Bumble and Bumble Grooming Assistant Masatoshi Fujita Musicians Aidan Clough soundcloud.com/turquoise92, Sam Davies heavenlyrecordings.com Zak Mullard facebook.com/etherlondon
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Sam, DJ and guitarist from the bands the Voyeurs and Death Fuck Leather Party, wears jacket and trousers by
Domingo Rodriguez; sweater by APC; shoes by Vivienne Westwood x Grenson. Zak, singer and guitarist from the band Ether, wears jacket by BLK DNM; trousers by McQ by Alexander McQueen; top by APC; shoes by AgnĂ¨s B. Aidan, musician from the band Half Loon and solo project Turquoise, wears jacket by McQ by Alexander McQueen; trousers and shoes by The Kooples; top by PS by Paul Smith.
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Aidan wears sweater by Reverberate from Thunders, London; trousers by The Kooples.
Sam wears jacket by Our Legacy; sweater by Gant. 152 J &
Sam wears jacket by Vivienne Westwood Man; trousers by Domingo Rodriguez; shirt by Paul Smith; shoes by Vivienne Westwood x Grenson. Aidan wears jacket by AgnĂ¨s B; trousers and shoes by The Kooples; shirt by Paul Smith.
Sam wears jacket by Vivienne Westwood Man; trousers by Domingo Rodriguez; shirt by Paul Smith; belt by AgnĂ¨s B.
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Zak wears sweater by BLK DNM; trousers by McQ by Alexander McQueen.
Sam wears jacket by Oliver Spencer; trousers by Domingo Rodriguez; sweater by AgnĂ¨s B.
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Sam wears top by Paul Smith; trousers by Domingo Rodriguez. Aidan wears sweater by AgnĂ¨s B.
Jumpsuit by Lee; boots by Red Wing Shoes; hat by Drake’s; bandana,
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Photographs Paul Vickery Styling Salim Ahmed-Kashmirwala Model Ibrahim Kamara, artist and stylist Photographic Assistant Lulu Preece Post production Artful Dodgers Imaging artfuldodgersimaging.com
Thames Tideway Jacket by Givenchy from Mr Porter; trousers by Vivienne Westwood Man; top by Timothy Everest; trainers and belt by HermĂ¨s; hat, stylistâ€™s own; watch by Tag Heuer.
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Waistcoat by Lanvin; jeans by Lee; shirt and belt by Hermès; shoes by Vivienne Westwood Man; scarf and necklace, stylist’s own. 160 J &
Jacket and jeans by Maison Kitsuné; T-shirt by Burberry from Mr Porter; hat by Drake’s; necklace, stylist’s own; watch by Tag Heuer.
Jacket by Michiko Koshino; jeans by DSquared2; T-shirt by Merz B Schwanen; boots by Hunter Originals; jewellery, stylistâ€™s own.
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Jacket by Michiko Koshino; trousers by Issey Miyake; shirt by Levi’s; sandals by Vivienne Westwood Man; tie by Drake’s; tie-clip, stylist’s own; badge by Hermès. J &
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Jacket by Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons Man from Mr Porter; trousers and shoes by Loewe; top by Lanvin; scarf by Hermès; watch by Tag Heuer; rings and rope, stylist’s own.
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Jacket by Bottega Veneta from Mr Porter; jeans by Loewe; sandals by Buscemi; neckerchief by HermĂ¨s; watch by Tag Heuer.
Actor Mark Hamill and game developer Chris Roberts on set for the game Squadron 42, 2016 © Cloud Imperium Games and Foundry 42
Words Chris May
With production values to rival the biggest of Hollywood blockbusters, video games present a whole host of challenges for the actors bringing the characters to life. And the voice-over is just the start of it.
Squadron 42, 2016 © Cloud Imperium Games and Foundry 42 166 J &
ideo games have moved on since Nimrod, a rudimentary maths-based game played on a computer the size of a Second World War tank, grabbed visitors’ imaginations at the 1951 Festival of Britain, requiring extra staff to marshal the queues. Among the transformations has been the addition of voice-overs, which are themselves in a different galaxy than their original versions. In the 1980s and early 1990s, games developers routinely recorded the audio tracks themselves, often with unintentionally comical results – some of them, such as those on 1996’s Resident Evil, lovingly preserved on audioatrocities.com, a gaming equivalent of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex awards. By the late 1990s, developers had realised that voice-overs needed to be as well-crafted as those in contemporary big-budget animated movies such as 1996’s Toy Story. Big-ticket Hollywood names, however, mostly considered games to be beneath them, and so a generation of voice-over specialists with little or no track record in on-camera acting emerged. The doyen of these is David Hayter, a games-world star since voicing Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid in 1998. One of the first Hollywood actors to develop a parallel career in voice-overs is Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movies. Hayter is still an in-demand voice actor with games producers, despite the increasing use of cinema and television stars, as is Hamill, who has been joined by Kevin Spacey, Martin Sheen, Liam Neeson, Ellen Page, Samuel L Jackson, Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series Game of Thrones) and many other major names. One of the attractions of games for established screen actors today is money. Modern production budgets can come close to those for blockbuster movies – Grand Theft Auto V cost $269m, not so far short of last year’s James Bond film, Spectre, at $300m. Production teams used to comprise four or five people working out of somebody’s garage. Today, a team of 50 is more typical – Assassin’s Creed II reputedly had 450 at one stage – and, since the advent of face capture and virtual reality, regular movie Steve ‘Old Man’ Colton, sets are the preferred locations. If live-action games using played by Mark Hamill, in real actors on green screens ever become economically Squadron 42 , 2016 viable – a prospect Hayter, below, says is still a way off © Cloud Imperium – games shoots will become indistinguishable from Games and Foundry 42 high-end movie shoots. Crucially, voicing a game is now seen by on-camera actors as a credible, even progressive activity. At this year’s Bafta Games Awards ceremony, Doug Cockle, the lead voice actor in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, said: “Television and film are in some ways much like they were 10 or 15 years ago. But I think in games there’s more equality between the genders – though you’ve got bikini-clad warriors running around while some guy in iron-plate mail is running around as well, so there is a bit of a disparity there. But I do think in terms of opportunities for actors and for women who want to play games and avatars that represent themselves in some way, there’s perhaps more equality in that way.” Troy Baker, who voiced Robin in Batman: Arkham City, which won two awards at the 2012 Baftas, said: “It’s a beacon for actors who have heard they are two inches too tall or that they ‘need someone who is blond’.” Hayter began his career voicing arcade games while living in Japan in the 1980s. Returning to Los Angeles in 1990, he dipped his toes in on-camera movie acting before focusing on games and joining the cast of Metal Gear. Hayter continued playing Solid Snake, and that of his genetic predecessor, Naked Snake, in the series until 2010. His more recent roles include Jedi Knight One in Star Wars: The Old Republic, Winter Soldier in Marvel Heroes and Lieutenant Renn in Dragon Age: Inquisition. “Much more is demanded of voice actors now than was the case 25 years ago,” says Hayter. “Producers want scripts to be brought to life as well as they are in traditional movie making. A couple of decades ago, J &
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most producers didn’t use actors. But as time has gone on, the stories have become more realistic and the emotional and expressive demands have got more extreme.” Hayter says the primary specialist skill required of voice actors is having to be more intense than on-camera actors, while staying on the right side of melodrama. “When your voice is the only instrument you are using to convey the story,” says Hayter, “there is a line to be walked where you are indicating it in a stronger way, but not to the extent that it sounds forced or false. Often, when on-camera actors come in to do voice-over, they can be so subtle that you can’t really read the course of the story or feel the course of the action. “Other than that, I think voicing skills are similar to those used by actors who have to act on a green screen. There’s a lot of imagining what your environment is, what your current state of agitation or whatever is, how loud you have to call across a room to someone or how quietly you can whisper to the person next to you. And typically you can’t see anything, like an actor on a green-screen stage can’t see an approaching monster. Your whole life in voice-over is like that. You get whatever indication you can from the director or the art department about what you’re facing down or what the situation is or how far away you’re standing from the person you’re talking to, and you go from there. Sometimes you don’t have that information, sometimes you just need to walk a line where what you say will work in a number of different scenarios.” Another specialist skill is recording your lines solo, without the presence of other actors with whom to interact. “That’s quite normal and it takes getting used to,” says Hayter. “In Star Wars: The Old Republic, for instance, it’s just a collection of unrelated lines that I did by myself, where I had to intuit what was said before, what the current situation is, how agitated I am, that sort of thing. But on Metal Gear it was very much like a radio play, where they would bring in the other actors one after the other, and we would do our scenes together. When you’re acting opposite someone it has so much more life, so much more reality.” How much directorial guidance can a voice actor expect on set? Is there someone to whom he or she can put the most-asked film actor’s question – what’s my motivation? Mark Hamill and Chris Roberts on set for Wing “You have a director, just like on a Commander III, 1994 © Electronic Arts traditional movie,” says Hayter. “On the Metal Gear games it was Kris Zimmerman, who is an amazing voice actors’ director, and she guides your performance. And typically, they’ll also have a game producer on hand to say, ‘OK, at this stage you’re on such and such planet and you’re facing this or that, and this is what went on before and this is what’s coming after.’ And you have to bridge the technical advice you’re getting from the game producer with the creative direction you’re getting from your director. Usually they’re in the control booth and they speak through a mic to you, although we did the first Metal Gear in a converted house and they were in the room with us. They had to be careful or we’d hear them on the tape.” Does Hayter think the time will come when technical progress means that video games become indistinguishable in content and production values from TV and the movies? “We are trending towards reality and it’s already theoretically possible to shoot a live-action video game,” says Hayter. “As things stand, however, that would be a massive technological feat, and a hugely expensive one – because you have to manipulate the reality to accommodate the changing nature of the game. Each time you play through a scene it could develop differently in multiple directions. So if somebody attempted to shoot a live-action video game it would be extremely difficult, extremely time consuming and extremely expensive. But some time down the line, they may figure out a way to do it.” Hayter says the production of a video game can already be as lengthy a process as traditional movie making, largely because of the multiple routes that can be taken by individual players through the story line. What is the longest period he has spent voicing a game? “The longest game I ever did was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots,” says 168 J &
Solid Snake, voiced by David Hayter, in Metal Gear Solid, 1998 © Konami Digital Entertainment B.V.
Hayter. “That took nine months. I wasn’t doing it quite every day, but it was a pretty intense schedule. The script was thousands of pages long, because of all those branching conversations going along different routes.” A generation older than Hayter, Mark Hamill began voicing games later in his career, having already established his on-camera reputation playing Luke Skywalker between 1977 and 1983. Hamill’s games breakthrough came as Colonel Blair in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger and the Joker in The Adventures of Batman and Robin, both released in 1994. He has reprised Blair in two more games and the Joker in six. For the past few months, Hamill has been living in London, working Solid Snake, voiced by David Hayter, in Metal Gear Solid 4, 2008 at Ealing Studios with Wing Commander’s © Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. developer, Chris Roberts, on Squadron 42, which is set in the Star Citizen universe, described by Roberts as the “spiritual successor” of Wing Commander. In Squadron 42, Hamill has been filmed using body capture, encased from head to foot in a figure-hugging spandex suit with only his face visible. It is a process he took a while to feel comfortable with. “There’s no dignity to it whatsoever,” says Hamill. “You’re in a penguin suit and you’ve got these dots stuck all over your face. You look totally ridiculous. But when you’re finally rendered, you look at what they’ve done and it all becomes worthwhile. When I saw Lord of the Rings, with Andy Serkis as Gollum, I was most interested in the extras on the DVD showing how they did all that stuff. It was a whole new world for a character actor like myself. People mainly thought of me as a Waspy, blond, blue-eyed beach boy. But with body capture, the whole world opens up. You’re able to play roles that you would never otherwise get in a million years. They can render me six feet tall, they can do whatever they want, and the definition of the character disappears into the role he’s playing. To me, that’s enormously liberating. There’s no market for Mark Hamill doing certain roles if you can see me, not if they want me to be a young man or an alpha-male warrior, for instance. But there’s a great market on entertainment platforms that can render me into those. “When I was looking at Andy Serkis, people would say, ‘But nobody knows what he really looks like. He’s not famous when he walks down the street, people aren’t asking for selfies.’ Well, when I became famous with Star Wars, that sort of recognition was fun for about 20 minutes. I’m the sort of person who likes to sit in the park and observe other people, not have them watching me.” Body capture is liberating in other ways, too, says Hamill. “One good thing is you can have your cheat sheets (script print-outs) gaffer-taped right in front of you, but the camera doesn’t pick them up. They’re only capturing your body. This is really useful when you’re doing a video game, because at the bare minimum you’re probably going to have to deliver Mark Hamill a reaction three different ways, with different emphasis or different words – as a neutral, a negative or a positive – depending on what arc the player chooses to take through a scene. So the scripts are enormous, Solid Snake, voiced by David Hayter, in Metal Gear Solid 2, 2001 like telephone directories but bigger. For an actor it turns it into © Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. such a schizophrenic experience. You’re all over the joint. It’s hard to figure out who you are if you’re reacting in three different ways. I cope with it as though I’m manufacturing a jigsaw puzzle. I’m crafting individual pieces to be assembled later by the player as he sees fit.” After body capture and quality voice-overs, virtual reality is perceived by some as the next big thing in gaming, the possible precursor of live-action games. John Carmack, the creator of Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and Quake, who now works at Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality division, received a Bafta fellowship at this year’s ceremony. Afterwards, Carmack told BBC News there was a “very good chance” that virtual reality titles would dominate the 2017 Baftas. “Award shows like this will tend to be kind of bellwethers about where things are going,” said Carmack. “The games won’t dominate the VR market for some time yet, but they will be the exciting things that people are talking about.”
People mainly thought of me as a Waspy, blond, blueeyed beach boy. But with body capture, the whole world opens up. You’re able to play roles that you would never otherwise get in a million years.
The game Squadron 42, featuring Mark Hamill, is out later this year cloudimperiumgames.com J &
LAGOS Words Chris May Photographs Janette Beckman, Marc C, Orlando Gili, Jon Mortimer and Peter Okosun
Until recently, you had to have a very good reason to want to go to the Nigerian capital, rife as it was with corruption, human rights abuse and economic incompetence at the hands of military rule. But these days Lagos is transforming itself into a thriving metropolis that plays host to a wide variety of movers and shakers. Nigeria recently overtook South Africa as the largest economy in Africa, and for the past eight years has enjoyed stable government. Lagos, the commercial capital of West Africa, is now also a creative powerhouse on the global map. The changing character of the city is illustrated by the manner in which it has treated Nigeria’s most famous son, Fela Kuti. Back in the day, Kuti was a strictly oppositional phenomenon. He had an enthusiastic following, but that audience was mostly composed of students and the disadvantaged urban poor. Kuti was the self-declared enemy of Nigeria’s post-colonial military and business establishment and the antipathy ran both ways. In 1977, Kalakuta Republic, the commune where Kuti lived with various family members and his band, was burnt to the ground by a 1,000-strong force from the federal army. Many of the residents, including Kuti and his mother, a veteran of Nigeria’s independence movement, were viciously abused. Kuti continued to be persecuted until his death in 1997. Today, Kuti is treasured in Lagos much like Shakespeare is in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Kalakuta Republic Museum in Ikeja was opened in 2012 by the governor of Lagos – a seal of official approval unthinkable even a few years earlier. The museum contains many of Kuti’s personal possessions, including a rendering of his bedroom that in the authenticity of its disarray evokes Tracey Emin’s My Bed installation. Kuti’s futuristically designed grave is sited to one side of the main building. Then there is the New Afrika Shrine, also in Ikeja, a music venue operated by Kuti’s children. Sons Femi and Seun and their bands both perform there. And every October, around the date of Kuti’s birthday, the Shrine hosts a ‘Felabration’ that spreads out to other venues across the city. People attending Kuti’s original shrine were routinely harassed by the authorities. The New Afrika Shrine is enthusiastically promoted as a tourist attraction. Among dozens of other places worth a visit are the Nike Art Gallery in Lekki, named after its director, artist Nike Okundaye; Terra Kulture, a cultural centre on Victoria Island; the National Museum off Tafawa Balewa Square, with its collection of Benin brasses, and the bullet-riddled car in which Murtala Muhammed was assassinated in 1976; the Jazz Hole book and music store in Ikoyi; Freedom Park on Lagos Island, once the site of a colonial-era prison and now, reinvented by architect Theo Lawson, a venue for music and community events; and the Jankara, Lekki and Balogun street markets (go with a Lagosian or be prepared to be hustled). New brands and creative hubs are putting down roots with exponential frequency. Critical mass, at least in the centre of the city, is close. Some things have not changed, or changed little. The city’s infrastructure is still poor, particularly in the deprived suburbs. Epic traffic jams are commonplace. Electricity supply is improved but unpredictable. The wealth gap makes London look like an egalitarian paradise. And corruption continues to be rife, although Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, elected last year, has introduced ‘clean-up’ legislation. But in Lagos you are surrounded by energy and music and colour. The street food is brilliant. There are bars and clubs everywhere. People laugh a lot. The vibe is unbeatable.
M e t r o p o l i t a n Photograph Janette Beckman
Niyi Okuboyejo began designing menswear
in 2004 and launched Post-Imperial as a business in 2013. Born in Nigeria, he moved to the US as a teenager and now divides his time between Lagos, London, New York and Tokyo, all cities where Post-Imperial has stockists. As Okuboyejo sees it, the rise of Lagos as a style and culture centre was sparked by the 2008 recession. “It was like a godsend,” says Okuboyejo. “Before then everyone who could was leaving Nigeria and finding jobs abroad. Then along came the recession and a lot of people in the US said, ‘If I can’t set up my business here, maybe I can back home.’ Since then Lagos has been building up a community of people who are creating a forward-looking fringe culture. Before 2008, you would never have found somewhere like Stranger [one of Post-Imperial’s stockists] in Lagos.” For the moment, says Okuboyejo, foreign brands continue to dominate Lagos fashion. “That’s a challenge,” he says. “In the US or Europe, there is a pride in domestic design and people want to be part of that. But that isn’t necessarily the case in Nigeria. Part of that might be a lingering post-colonial mindset, but, to be fair, we don’t have a proven tailoring industry. At the moment, I do the manufacturing in the US. But eventually, I want everything we make to carry a label reading ‘Made in Nigeria.’ That’s the plan.” What is the message behind the name Post-Imperial? “A lot of people think it’s a political
thing,” says Okuboyejo. “And to a certain degree it is referencing post-colonialism. A lot of us in or from the diaspora are trying to take back our narrative. But for me, the most important thing is the design. Clothes have to look cool, that’s the number one thing. I can have this great manifesto about how I want to change the face of Nigeria, but if the clothes suck, what’s the point? So the name is more about what I felt the general state of menswear was at the time, which was all about nostalgia. There were too many references to the 1960s or 1920s. I thought it made sense to make clothes that looked like now and for tomorrow, so that people might see them in 30 years and say, ‘I want to look like those guys.’” Along the way, Okuboyejo is helping to preserve Nigeria’s tradition of fabric dyeing, much of which has been wiped out by cheap Chinese imports. The gorgeous dyed fabrics that were taken to the global stage by musicians such as Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade, have come close to extinction. “That’s the thing about globalisation,” says Okuboyejo. “You have a chance to expose your culture on a bigger stage, but on the down side there’s homogenisation. The dyers that I work with, there’s only a few of them left. These guys make beautiful artefacts and I want to make them part of the lexicon of fashion. I want us to have our own space in the universe of fashion.” post-imperial.com
Yegwa Ukpo set up Stranger
with his wife Bibi in 2013. The space – which combines retail with art and craft-related activities – is one of the hot spots reshaping modern Lagos. Along with Niyi Okuboyejo’s Post-Imperial, Stranger stocks Blkkangaroo, Adeju Thompson, Palomino Blackwing, Maxivive and Marvielab among others. The venue also hosts film screenings, workshops and educational activities. “Stranger is about exploring and sharing a more considered approach to design, aesthetics and living, and providing a haven for a certain kind of vagabond,” says Ukpo. “We recently secured a grant from the British Council here to build a Maker Library [a creative space for making, showing and reading]. We’re also starting an indigo-dyeing workshop and a maker studio. We hope it will encourage creatives from different fields to come together. Our in-house brand, Sunless, will be our main platform for these collaborations, and the core of the studio concept, with a focus on wearable objects.” Why does Ukpo think Lagos is transforming so rapidly? “It’s a hub J &
M e t r o p o l i t a n Photograph Marc C
for so many different kinds of people and an economic environment that encourages trial and error,” he says. “Just like London or Paris or Tokyo. A lot of returnees stop in Lagos and there is also a thriving expatriate community. Both are increasing the demand for new experiences. You can try all sorts of esoteric things here – Stranger has bubble tea and an escape room, for instance – and have a much better chance of finding an audience than anywhere else in the country. That, coupled with the natural Nigerian drive towards business, has created an exciting scene. It hasn’t reached maturity yet; there is still a crippling lack of infrastructure to deal with, as well as an anti-collaborative culture among us that is slowing down growth. When we overcome that, the city will really hit its stride.” Stranger launches its Maker Library, providing information on clothing design, later this year strangerlagos.com
Yemi Alade-Lawal was born in London
and grew up in Nigeria. After going to university in Britain, he spent 10 years in the US before moving back to London in 2000 and developing his career as an artist manager. His major artists are Afrikan Boy and Bumi Thomas. As Lagos transforms itself, Alade-Lawal finds himself there frequently, seizing the new opportunities the city has to offer and bringing some of them over to London. “There is a real buzz in Lagos now,” he says. “You can feel it across the board in the creative industries, from Nollywood to literature to music to painting. It’s like a renaissance going on. Many things have changed for the better. For instance, in the 1970s, the soap operas Nigerians watched were made in America primarily for American audiences; now you’ve got Nollywood soaps going
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into Nigerian homes and changing the narrative. There’s been a paradigm shift and people are thinking differently. Africans are trying to define themselves and be more African in their thinking, and I think this is particularly the case in Lagos.” What has triggered this change? “Digital communications have a lot to do with it,” he says. “The digital world means people are connected like they weren’t before, and they can see and swap ideas, nationally and internationally, more easily than they ever could. There’s also a young population now. There are overwhelmingly more people under 30 than over it, and they know what’s going on. Social media is huge. WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. They’re doing everything that everybody is doing in Europe and the US. The young generation calls the country Naija – it signifies the whole country, not the north Photograph Orlando Gili
or south or east or west. That’s how they see it, one country. They see beyond the geopolitical regions that people used to use as their reference points. It’s a very healthy trend.” Alade-Lawal’s latest project is called GidiJand, which means Lagos-England in Yoruba. “The idea is to put on music events in London and Lagos, featuring British and Nigerian-based artists,” he says. “I’m just back from staging the first one in Lagos, and now we’re working on the London follow-up. I want to get more involved in deep Yoruba culture and export it.” “Lagos is a force to be reckoned with,” says Alade-Lawal. “It’s just a shame that we don’t have better civic leadership. Nigeria has a huge, expensive government that is not delivering what the people need. And this hasn’t really changed since the first post-colonial decades. But Nigerians are like goldfish, they seem to forget very quickly. The leaders have no compassion for the people, everything they do is about their own interests. It’s dog eat dog, survival of the fittest. People have been living like that for so long that they’re happy to sit under the master’s table and wait for any crumbs that come down. Until the people are clear about what they want, nothing will change.” GidiJand is hosting events in London throughout the summer gidijand.com The album Mr Kunta Kinte by Afrikan Boy, who is managed by Yemi Alade-Lawal, is out now wegoyam.com
Photograph Peter Okosun
Photograph Jon Mortimer
Elnathan John is part of an emergent
generation of Nigerian writers that also includes Teju Cole and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. John established his international reputation with short stories, and his first novel was published in 2015. Titled Born on a Tuesday, it is a coming-of-age tale set in Nigeria’s northern territory during the rise of Boko Haram. John is probably still best known in Nigeria as a satirist, through his weekly column in the Sunday Trust newspaper and his blog, Elnathan’s Dark Corner. His posts include such well-observed gems as ‘How to Run a Nigerian NGO’, ‘How to Be a Nigerian Politician’ and ‘How to Be Sick in Nigeria’. Back in the 1970s, lampoons such as these could lead to the authorities shutting the author down. Some might say that John’s seeming immunity from establishment harassment is proof of a more enlightened political establishment. John takes a bleaker view. “Satire depends on a certain level of shame,” he says. “For satire to prick people they have to have a conscience that’s capable of being pricked. Sadly, in Nigeria now we are living in a post-shame world. Our politicians simply act as they please. They know there will not be any serious repercussions. Citizens – who cares what they think? Writers – who cares what they say? The powerful are so powerful that they are beyond caring. The only time I’ve got pushed back was when I wrote about a senator who thinks of himself as some sort of activist. I pointed out how ridiculous he sounds when he self-promotes and tries to get in everyone’s face about how he once went to prison on a point of principle, when, as everyone knows,
once he was elected he became worse than the politicians who’d been there for 30 years – perpetrating the cycle of patronage and all that nonsense. He went to my editor and complained. And of course his minions were organised to attack me on social media. But in Nigeria, if someone wants to kill you, that’s easy. So if someone threatens me I’m happy, because now they can’t kill me, everyone would know it was them. I do irritate a lot of people, but not enough to have any significant harm come to me.” How does John think Nigeria will finally break the corrosive cycle of patronage and corruption? “Things will only change when there is public protest,” he says. “But over decades of impoverishment and political instability, people have become numb. The poor are too busy being poor to revolt in any systematic way, too busy finding food for survival. Meanwhile, our quasi-middle class is so afraid of poverty that it is busy trying to climb into the upper class. Everyone has the hope that they will be rich tomorrow. And in Nigeria it is very possible to be poor today and a millionaire tomorrow. A fashion designer, for instance, who is friends with the president’s wife might be given an oil block [a permit granting oil-exploration rights at a specified location] instead of being paid. You could sell that block or lease it out to Shell. So people who might revolt compromise instead. That is what corruption does.” The book Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John is out now cassavarepublic.biz elnathanjohn.com
Yinka Edward is one of Nigeria’s most talked about cinematographers, whose work has notched up prestigious awards and nominations. In 2010, he won the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for his work on Kunle Afolayan’s thriller film The Figurine. In 2015, he was nominated at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards for his work on another Afolayan thriller, October 1. He was cinematographer on Tom Tykwer’s feature Something Necessary, which was nominated for the Audience Choice Award at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2013, and on Kenneth Gyang’s Confusion Na Wa, which won Best Movie at the AMAA the same year. Television credits include the BBC World Service Trust’s Wetin Dey HIV-awareness series in 2007, and The Ties That Bind, Namibia’s first indigenous TV series, in 2010. Edward learnt the basics of cinematography at Nigeria’s National Film Institute in Jos from 2003-06. He then did a Masters in film and television production at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, west of London. A cinematographer who combines technical skill with extraordinary luminosity, Edward regards the label Nollywood with ambivalence. “It’s a loaded term,” he says. “As a film practitioner, I think it is limiting. When most people use the term Nollywood they are generally referring to a J &
M e t r o p o l i t a n Photograph Jon Mortimer
certain kind of film, which is usually cheaply and badly made, thrown together with little regard for quality. So when people call me a Nollywood filmmaker, it often carries an implication that I am not making quality films – but when they watch some of the films I’ve been lucky enough to work on, they’re like, wow! “There is a growing debate in my country about the term. For instance, in 2013, there was an event called ‘Nollywood at 20’. That sparked a lot of argument, because filmmaking in this country is more than 20 years old. Some practitioners were saying: ‘Are you trying to marginalise filmmakers from the late 1970s and early 1980s? Are you saying they are not part of our film industry?’ On the other hand, on an international level, Nollywood can be a marketing tool. So, if Nollywood is the name of the film industry in this country, then I am part of it. But if it represents a certain kind of badly made film, then I am not.” The Beyond Nollywood film season, which includes Yinka Edward’s work, is at the BFI Southbank, London SE1, 20-21 September bfi.org.uk
Kunlé Adeyemi runs an architecture and urbanism practice, NLÉ (Yoruba for “at home”), based in Amsterdam. Much of NLÉ’s work is in Lagos, where Adeyemi has project teams and where he spends part of every month. Among NLÉ’s recent commissions is the internationally
acclaimed Floating School, which has extended education opportunities to children living in Lagos’s deprived Makoko waterfront community –a place that, until recently, has been by turns ignored and harried by local government. “Lagos has changed a lot in the last six years,” says Adeyemi. “And it’s still changing. That’s one of the most exciting things about the city – it keeps evolving. There is still a lot of income inequality, but there is a growing middle class and the infrastructure is improving. Good roads; some degree of stability; a more reliable, though still far from perfect, power supply; new places to shop, eat, watch movies. The city is becoming more liveable. There are still some localised centres of street crime, but generally the sense of safety has improved. “Two things have led to this improvement. First, until the recent fall in oil prices, Lagos, like Nigeria generally, was benefitting from a stronger economy. Second, for almost a decade, we have had political stability, which has improved the quality of life and also led to greater international investment in the country. I’m not saying the infrastructure improvement has been fairly distributed across all income groups. In Lagos, it’s been concentrated on Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lagos Island – the main city centre – and some parts of Ikeja. It has not yet reached the areas where the poorer people live. But that may be about to change. The city governor is putting a lot more effort into those places. There are still a lot of challenges, but we are going in the right direction.”
Adeyemi’s Floating School is the prototype for a larger NLÉ project titled African Water Cities. It is a functional as well as beautiful structure. But Adeyemi is modest about it. “I wouldn’t say it is a work of excellence in itself,” he says. “I would say it catalyses the road to excellence in a very particular context. It disrupts a system in which better-situated people have ignored those living on water in often dreadful conditions. As a building, it’s a minimum viable product, as the jargon goes, and with the next iteration we’ll improve it. Like any prototype, it’s imperfect in many ways, whether it’s technical details here or a bit of leakage there. “When you push the edge, you inevitably run into the unforeseen. But it is beautiful and it has helped the community acquire a degree of legitimacy. It has been successful in making an impact on how the government think about Makoko and how it may attract capital and investment. It’s put the community on the map in a way that is almost immutable.” nleworks.com J &
These New Puritans
Photographs Dean Chalkley Words Andy Thomas
Junk Club Tucked away in a declining coastal town in Essex, this obscure nightclub became the unlikely inspiration for international fashion designers and heavy-hitting music industry players.
“Right now... the most exciting club in Britain can be found in the gloomy basement of a faded hotel at the point where the tip of Southend-on-Sea’s high street meets its fun-fair- dominated seafront,” wrote The Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey in a 2006 article on the Junk Club in Essex, east of London. After four years as a meeting place for bands such as the Horrors and These New Puritans, the club was about to close. One of those interviewed about the ‘Southend scene’ was photographer Dean Chalkley. A Southend local and regular at the Junk Club, he captured the vitality of that time. “The first time I went down there it really did feel like the resistance t o w h at wa s h a p p e n i n g i n Southend,” says Chalkley. “It was a magnet for the disenfranchised who
were swimming against the tide. It left such a marked impression on me, so I kept going back. I wanted to photograph it as I thought it was a significant cultural thing that was going on down there.” Oliver Abbott and the future keyboardist and bassist for the Horrors, Rhys Webb, set up Junk (as it was fondly known) in 2002. “Rhys and me had just come out of the London mod scene, which we had been part of from age 14 to 18,” says Abbott. “But after a while it got really stale just going to London all the time. Then all the Detroit garage bands like the White Stripes started happening and it felt like a new musical revolution to us. It was the first time that there was new music being made that excited us. We’d been to these underground parties in London where you really did feel part of a scene. So we decided to
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Tommi Tokyo and Johanna
create our own thing playing all these new sounds we were hearing. It was a very punk thing of finding our own space and seeing what happens next.” Their first parties were named Teenage Kicks. “After we did those we realised there was a whole group of people who felt the same way as us and listening to the same music,” says Abbott. “At the time in Southend there was nothing going on at all. It used to be really good but there was a massive lull.” Junk Club made its home in the shabby surrounds of the Royal Hotel. “That was perfect for us, a really weird place,” says Junk Club DJ Ciaran O’Shea. “The bar at the Royal was run by this ex-marine who’d had a sex change and used to keep a hatchet underneath the bar.” Soon indie music fans and A&R men were swarming to the club. “We used to have all these music industry people coming down from London and being freaked out by these Southend kids really going for it to some weird and wonderful band like No Bra or Snow White. No stage, just chaos and kids making a racket,” says O’Shea. Along with These New Puritans and Neils Children, the Horrors became the best-known group to play at the club. “I remember the gang of us were sitting at a table in the upstairs bar and we actually decided, let’s form a band and start rehearsing,” says Webb. The scene was covered by the NME in a feature on new clubs, including some of Chalkley’s images, which also appeared in a an exhibition, Southend’s Underground, at London’s Spitz Gallery. “There was suddenly a new influx of people and we started to get requests for interviews in places we would never have expected,” says Abbott. “Dean became a big champion of the club and helped us with exposure through his photographs as well as lots of contacts.” As Chalkley’s photographs show, the Junk was as much about the crowd as the bands that played there. Known as ‘Junkies’ and ‘Junkettes’, the fiercely loyal and very young crowd created their own DIY fashions. “I always thought it was very interesting, very home grown, and a real mix of cultures coming together,” says O’Shea. “Everything was from Pauls
Freddie & Betty
We used to have all these music industry people coming down from London and being freaked out by these Southend kids really going for it to some weird and wonderful band. Rhys ‘Spider’ Webb
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Joshua von Grimm
Ascend Discount Store and Army and Navy, and then lots of home -made T-shirts. It was pretty mad, there was this one group of girls who used to turn up with their faces daubed with emulsion paint.” The dandyism of the young crowd borrowed references from the past 50 years of pop culture – from 1960s psychedelia to 1990s neo-mod via 1970s new wave and 1980s new romantic – to create their look. “The DIY aspect was very much like the early punk thing,” says Webb. At the same time, bands such as Neils Children (whose singer and guitarist John Linger was a regular DJ at the club), the Horrors and These New Puritans created their own indie rock aesthetic. “It was similar to the Detroit bands but with a more refined nature,” says Chalkley. “When the Horrors came out, a lot of people might have thought they had been styled. But they hadn’t – that was just their thing. The whole tight trousers, bum freezer jackets and pointed shoes, there was an archetypal look that developed with these bands although they were very individual.”
After a visit to the club, Hedi Slimane, then creative director of Dior Homme, took inspiration for an indie rock-influenced collection. Soon the designer was using George Barnett from These New Puritans as one of his models. “George really looks good and wears things well so he was an ideal person to model for him,” says Chalkley. “Then a lot of those styles of these bands really did send ripples across the world.” Ten years on, the eclecticism of those days has created its own legacy. “It certainly fits into a wonderful place in terms of Southend’s evolution and music history,” says O’Shea. “It also summed up a great time of change when you weren’t just a jungle kid or a goth or a mod. It was a nice free time when people could take on a lot of different identities.”
Back Room, End of the Night
Dean Chalkley hosts a discussion with musicians and DJs from the Junk Club scene at the Sound of the Thames Delta, Southend Pier, Essex, 1-2 October, which is part of the Estuary 2016 arts festival metalculture.com/estuary-2016
Photographs Gavin Watson Styling Adam Howe Styling Assistants Edie Ashley and Ellie Dodds Models Isaac Kniveton and Sam White
Sam wears shirt by Stüssy; trousers by Norse Projects; trainers by Converse; socks by Uniqlo. Isaac wears shirt by Timothy Everest; trousers, stylist’s own; trainers by Converse; socks by Umbro. 182 J &
E d i t Isaac wears shirt by Dries Van Noten; jeans by Leviâ€™s; trainers by Converse; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; necklace by Topman; socks by Umbro.
Isaac wears shirt by Dries Van Noten; jeans by Levi’s; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; necklace by Topman. Sam White wears shirt by Carhartt WIP; trousers, model’s own.
Isaac wears shirt by PS by Paul Smith; trousers, stylist’s own; trainers by Converse; necklace by Topman.
Sam wears shirt by Uniqlo x Lemaire; trousers, model’s own; necklace by Topman. 184 J &
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Sam wears shirt by Diesel; jeans by Levi’s, hat by Christys’; necklace by Topman.
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Isaac wears shirt by Levi’s Vintage Clothing; jeans by Levi’s; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; belt by Uniqlo.
Sam wears shirt by Acne; shorts by Rapha; hat, stylist’s own; necklace by Topman; glove by Altura.
Isaac wears shirt by Richard James; shorts, stylist’s own; trainers by Converse; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; necklace by Topman; socks by Umbro.
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Sam wears shirt and shorts by Louis Vuitton; hat by Kangol; necklace by Topman.
E d i t Isaac wears shirt by Our Legacy; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; chain necklace by Topman; pendant, stylistâ€™s own.
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Sam wears shirt by Diesel; jeans by Levi’s; trainers by Converse; hat by Christys’; necklace by Topman. Isaac wears shirt by Our Legacy; jeans by Levi’s; trainers by Converse; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; chain necklace by Topman; pendant, stylist’s own.
Sam wears shirt by Bruta; trousers by Dickies; necklace by Topman.
Isaac wears shirt by Lanvin; trousers, stylist’s own; trainers by Converse; sunglasses by Ray-Ban; necklace by Topman. J &
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Lou Rhodes Photograph Lee Vincent Grubb Words Andy Thomas Coming out of the post rave scene of mid-1990s Manchester, Lamb sat within a new wave of electronic music that took influences from all over. “My mum was a folk singer and so I grew up around all that,” says the band’s singer, Lou Rhodes. “But then I was listening to all the pirate radio stations playing early break beat stuff on labels like Shut Up and Dance. I’ve always loved any art form where you throw disparate elements together and something else happens.” With producer and co-writer Andy Barlow, Rhodes set out to combine these disparate influences. It was a time when clubs such as Manchester’s Electric Chair and London’s Blue Note were mixing up everything from Brazilian drum’n’bass to Indian funk. Lamb songs such as ‘Cotton Wool’ and ‘Górecki’ fitted in perfectly, with the edgy but atmospheric breaks of Barlow’s production offset by Rhodes’ emotive, folk-leaning vocals.
Despite their eclectic sound, Lamb soon found themselves boxed into a scene they never felt part of. “That trip-hop tag was very frustrating,” says Rhodes. “It was such a reductionist term. Some journalists just become so lazy and latch onto a term.” Returning to her folk roots for two acclaimed solo LPs in the mid-2000s was restorative for Rhodes. “In the end it felt like we [Lamb] were pulling in different directions and I was really feeling the need to do something acoustic,” she says. Rhodes was nominated for a Mercury prize for her 2006 LP Beloved One, followed by Bloom in 2007 and One Good Thing in 2010. “That last album was really raw as I was in a really rough place in my life,” says Rhodes. Her new LP, Theyesandeye, was written over a number of years, during which time she released two albums with the reformed Lamb. Theyesandeye was recorded with co-producer Simon Byrt in a studio near Rhodes’ home in Wiltshire,
southwest England. “I had written most of the songs and I was thinking, right, what am I going to do with them,” she says. “Then I met Simon at my friend’s studio, which is just beautiful. It’s got lots of lovely analogue equipment and is set in beautiful countryside.” The sound of the new LP owes much to Byrt’s assortment of old analogue gear. “He’s got such a great collection of these vintage space echo and spring reverb machines, and he turns into a bit of a mad professor when he gets going,” says Rhodes. “I really wanted this LP to be based around the old authentic stuff because my solo thing is so much more rough around the edges and rustic than Lamb.” Listening to songs such as ‘All the Birds’, it is clear that Rhodes is at home among the fields of Wiltshire. “I’ve spent periods of my life in the city and loving that buzz but now I’m really enjoying the space and quiet the country gives me,” she says. “I’m a bit of a recluse anyway, so it’s actually good for me to be out in the sticks and it really lends itself to the writing process. And on this new LP I wanted to create a joyful album and a real celebration of finding a positive place in life.” The album Theyesandeye by Lou Rhodes is out on 22 July lourhodes.com
Words Andy Thomas Photograph Dean Chalkley Photographic assistant Gideon Marshall “Sending countries to war just killing themselves. People trying to get high, whilst living in hell.” The opening lines of Jordan Max’s debut single ‘Hell’ could have come from the American south in the 1970s rather than the north of England in 2016. In these days of passivity to the world’s problems by most music makers, it’s refreshing to hear a 23 year old addressing the issues affecting his community. Recorded in his Oldham bedroom, his Only One is King EP brings a 21st-century twist to the conscious soul of artists such as Curtis Mayfield and the Temptations. “My inspirations are very old school, the legends, the giants,” he says. The song that really sent Max’s young head spinning was Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ of 1964, played to him by his uncle. “As soon as I heard it, the emotion hit me and I started singing,” says Max. He had learnt the piano after watching a Ray Charles biopic, but on hearing the soulful urgency in Cooke’s song he found his own voice to express what he saw around him. The results can now be seen on the video for ‘Hell’, shot on the estates of his hometown. As he says, “It’s not Hollywood, it’s Oldham.”
The EP Only One is King by Jordan Max is out now jordanmaxmusic.com
Rob Gallagher Photograph Simon Way Words Andy Thomas “Every box ’n sound, I’ll dance you in the morning Dance me full of fire, stumble like an old man I’ll stumble, like an old man Drop and fall, to the dancefloors of England Club upon pub, out of my constriction Heroes and ghosts, lost and still looking for the dancefloors of England” Dancefloors of England, Rob Gallagher, 2016 Whether penning eco-conscious songs about the destruction of Twyford Down for a motorway extension in southeast England, or evocative urban poems such as ‘Roofing Tiles’, Rob Gallagher was always more than a reluctant figurehead for the acid jazz generation. Since his time as frontman of Galliano in the 1990s, Gallagher has explored the mysticism of east London in the band Two Banks of Four, with long time collaborator Dilip ‘Demus’ Harris, and more recently the marshlands of Suffolk in his W.G. Sebald-inspired folk meets dub venture, William Adamson. The project emerged while recording at Demus’s studios in Suffolk. “We set about devising a map with places of which we had heard, through some chance visits and low sky directions,” Gallagher wrote. “A man was walking. A dog had been prowling, men readied for an apocalypse. Was the sea telling stories? Old songs and new 192 J &
roads, coughing, standing spitting, while we squinted into one of the hollows of England.” Throughout this time, Gallagher’s outings as another alias, Earl Zinger, have brought his sharp, witty lyricism to the club culture he’s observed for over almost 40 years. “It started for me at various youth club discos listening to lovers rock and Michael Jackson, then pogoing to punk records,” he tells me. “So that was also club culture in a way. In my head, I would be in a cool place in New York rather than some dodgy youth club in north London. Then when I was a bit older, as confused soul boys, we used to go to Bumbles in Wood Green then go home and listen to the Associates and Joy Division. So although we were dressing like golfers with diamond jumpers and Farah trousers, we were also listening to John Peel.” His subsequent adventures in clubland took him from the jazz dance scene of Dingwalls in the late 1980s and from Tokyo to Ibiza as MC for DJ friend Gilles Peterson. After a few exclusive seven-inches on Earl Zinger’s Red Egyptian label (also home to Gallagher’s Secret Waltz Band), he released the LP Put Your Phazers on Stun Throw Your Healthfood Skyward. The album included ‘Saturday Morning Rush’, about a manic search for a hip-hop 12-inch around London’s record stores, and ‘Escape from Ibiza’, his witty critique of Balearic excess. Gallagher’s latest release, the EP Dancefloors of England, under the name the Diabolical Liberties, sees him reflecting on his life under the bass bins.
“I’ve been reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets, about dance and carnival being an important release in the human experience, while listening to Trevor Jackson’s On-U Sounds compilation and trying to figure out a good alibi for why I spent my time in so many darkened clubs,” he says. When the EP appeared in specialist record shops earlier in the summer, it came with a typically covert message from Gallagher: “In the old industrial warehouses, down there bellow the sub bass. Down in Phorcy’s kingdom of misshapen beats swimming in their own echo. The new future has already started.” Produced by Alex Patchwork and released on the new Love Vinyl imprint, the EP sees Gallagher reaching back to the early 1980s for inspiration, for what is also a very 2016 sound. “I love the DIY ethic and stuff like Gareth Williams [from This Heat] and Mary Currie’s album Flaming Tunes,” says Gallagher. “But I was thinking that the DIY ethic in 2016 is also fucking about on Ableton [music software] with breaks and beats, repeating stupid shit and
P e o p l e detuning everything in a style of Lisbon’s Principe label. So I look upon it as recording it in classic DIY with guitar, amps, analogue synths, drum machines etc then putting it in Ableton and giving it to Patchwork who goes even more extreme on the beats.” Dancefloors of England is also the title of a book of poetry Gallagher has been working on about his life in the clubs. When did his interest in poetry begin? “It was an English teacher at school called Mr Katz from New York,” he says. “He decided to keep the class engaged by taking us to see the dub poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson. That had a really big impact on me. Then when I was about 14 or 15, I started writing down my own poetry. But I knew nothing really and even in Galliano I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.” It was only during the last few years that he started studying poetry more seriously after discovering the late New York poet Michael Donaghy. “He introduced me to theories of the sonnet and iambic pentameter located in the human heartbeat and breath,” he says. The result is a series of poems written while Gallagher’s mind runs wild on the dancefloor. “I have always zoned out while in clubs, and shooting off into flights of fancy,” he says. “I think some medieval carnival goer in Bremen was doing much the same thing, dancing to lutes instead of techno or whatever. The dancefloor more than ever now for me occupies the area of the enchanted forest.” Other forthcoming projects include cigar box guitar covers of classic house tunes and a series of Russian constructivist poster art where he is replacing the old communist faces with the “the fathers of my own personal revolution, so people like John Peel and Adrian Sherwood”. At the same time, he continues to muse on the mysticism of the dancefloor. “I’ve started to get more and more interested in sound,” he says. “Being in a club is almost like being in a sea of sound. You can’t see it but you can feel it. So you get hundreds of people swaying to this invisible thing. I find that really interesting.” The Dancefloors of England EP by Rob Gallagher, under the moniker the Diabolical Liberties, is out now thediabolicalliberties.bandcamp.com
Ala.ni Photograph Vanni Bassetti Words Andy Thomas For the past 10 years, French music site La Blogothèque has been filming intimate sessions with artists in interesting locations around Paris – from Sigur Rós in a Montparnasse restaurant to Aloe Blacc in Saint-Michel metro. Among the highlights last year was a performance by the young west London singer Ala.ni at the 18th-century Chapelle Expiatoire. The two songs she performed, ‘Darkness at Noon’ and ‘Cherry Blossom’, have now been released as part of her debut LP, You and I. Steeped in blues and classic jazz, it’s seen her compared to everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Minnie Riperton. But she is also very much a 21st-century artist, storyboarding, scripting and directing all of her own music videos. “I’d always been a really keen photographer,” she tells me. “And then I started doing a lot of stop [motion] animation and did a film editing course about three years ago. That helped me understand the process and then it was just a very natural progression. I love making the videos for my songs. It’s a whole different language to use.” Ala.ni grew up in Ravenscourt Park, west London, but her parents are from Granada. “My dad was a bassist in bands playing reggae and calypso and my mum works in fashion couture, so my household was very creative,” she says. “And then when I was five I went to Sylvia Young stage school until I was 16. I was never one of those kids
who would stand there with a hairbrush thinking I want to be on TV, because from the age of five I saw myself on TV [in commercials].” At stage school her main interest was dance, and it wasn’t until she left that singing became more important. “It wasn’t until I started doing backing singing that it felt like a profession,” she says. Apart from touring with Blur, there were many gigs she found soul destroying. “It was frustrating to be behind some of these artists who had a voice and opportunity to change things and they were just wasting that opportunity by being dumb or excessive,” she says. It was during a holiday with her grandparents in Granada that she was inspired to make music. “Just before I went, I had been to an unveiling of a blue plaque for my Uncle Hutch [Leslie Hutchinson] who was a cabaret singer in the 1930s,” she says. “And I was like, if a black man from Granada back then could become one of the highest paid entertainers in the UK, why am I so afraid to try? So in Granada, I had time to clear my head and out of that came the song ‘Cherry Blossom’. Then I met this German guy on the beach who was a music producer and he had a crazy collection of microphones, and that’s where I got my old 1930s RCA ribbon mic to record the album. So it all really came together in Granada.” Ala.ni is now based in Paris, the perfect home for a singer rooted in the old traditions of jazz. “I just knew it would work in Paris because I think they have a deeper understanding of what I do,” she says. “The French took jazz and they gave those American artists a job. Then with the whole Édith Piaf thing, when they see me just standing there singing without dancing or anything, they really understand it.” Ala.ni’s album You and I is out now noformat.net She performs at the Montreal Jazz Festival on 6 July montrealjazzfest.com J &
Music has always been integral to Jocks & Nerds. Since beginning in 2011, the magazine has profiled and interviewed a wealth of musical greats, but music is about so much more than just the people who make it. Music can inspire, educate and entertain. In short, it enriches our lives. Echoes is an ongoing series of evenings curated by Stuart Patterson, the renowned London DJ and Jocks & Nerds’ musical director. Each evening sees a guest DJ play in the lobby bar of east London’s Ace Hotel, all of whom have been selected for their personal musical knowledge and the impact they’ve had on the club or music scene. Echoes has been privileged to welcome Femi Fem, Princess Julia, Dr Bob Jones, Terry Farley, Rhythm Doctor, Noel Watson, Nancy Noise, David Hill, Gordon Mac, Leo Zero, Kevin Beadle, Trevor Fung, Rusty Egan, Ross Allen, Simon ‘Faze Action’ Lee and Frank Tope. Each set is recorded and published on the Jocks & Nerds website alongside an interview with the DJ. Echoes continues with its roster of guest DJs every Thursday from 7pm at Ace Hotel, 100 Shoreditch High St, E1. jocksandnerds.com/echoes
P e o p l e Photograph Nile Saulter Words Chris May Guitarist Ernest Ranglin played on and arranged many of the best-loved records in the ska catalogue – Prince Buster’s ‘Ten Commandments of Man’ and ‘Judge Dread’, Harry J All Stars’ ‘Liquidator’, The Ethiopians’ ‘Train to Skaville’ and Millie Small’s ‘My Boy Lollipop’ among them. Ranglin went on to work with most of the reggae greats, too. In 1977, he played on the Lee Perry-produced album, Heart of the Congos, by vocal duo the Congos, for many people the greatest Jamaican vocal-group album ever made. But this summer, Ranglin plans to hang up his boots. In June, he will be giving a final performance at London’s Barbican Centre, with a band including drummer Tony Allen and saxophonist Soweto Kinch. “It’s going to be my farewell performance,” says Ranglin. “I’ve put in the road miles. I started
playing when I was 14 and I’ll be 84 this year. But even when I hang up my touring boots, I won’t stop playing. I do a lot of songwriting. And I may continue recording. I’d get bored if I didn’t. I’m not going to just sit down and fade away. I’ll go fighting.” While he is probably best known for his ska and reggae recordings, Ranglin cut his teeth on American jazz. His formative influences were Charlie Christian and Johnny Smith. In London in 1964, when Ranglin was visiting as musical director of Millie Small’s backing group, Ronnie Scott was impressed enough to hire him for his club’s house band. Ranglin worked there for almost a year. “I had a little trio that would open the evening,” says Ranglin. “After the
intermission the featured artists would often invite me to guest with them. I played with some real greats that way – Roland Kirk, Stan Getz, Johnny Griffin, lots of people. Kirk used to walk around the club, between the tables, playing his horns, and I used to marvel at how he could do that as a blind man.” The family jazz tradition was picked up by Ranglin’s nephew, the bassist Gary Crosby, who formed Jazz Jamaica in London in 1991. What does Ranglin plan to do in his retirement? “I’m not a church goer,” he says, “but I’m into spiritual things. I’ve studied lots of religions, different sets of people, and taken a little bit from here and a little bit from there. So I’ll return to my studies… and enjoying the climate in Montego Bay.” Ernest Ranglin’s farewell performance is at the Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2 on 27 June barbican.org.uk
Photograph Tatsuo Suzuki Interview Harris Elliott Words Joe Lloyd Translator Yuko Watanabe at Obruza obruza.net Acid jazz may have hatched in the clubs of London, but it soon spread its wings across the world. It was only a matter of time before it reached Japan, where a burgeoning late night music scene was beginning to challenge traditional habits. Toshio Matsuura remains a lynchpin of this scene. As a young man, he became obsessed with jazz, gravitating initially towards Miles Davis’s Kind
of Blue before being inspired by a Paul Murphy DJ set. In 1990, he founded the production outfit United Future Organization (UFO) with Tadashi Yabe and the Frenchman Raphael Sebbag. For 12 years, the trio pioneered their own distinct fusion of jazz, Latin and hip-hop, melding samples to create dance music as smooth as it was eclectic. In 1994, they appeared on the American charity compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot and Cool, and the resulting fame saw them break out of their native market and secure international release on Verve. Drawing on music from across the continents, their five albums and numerous singles stand as the seminal document of Japan’s swinging 1990s. Matsuura has remained prolific, particularly in the creation of compilations. He created a mix for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings in 1999, and almost immediately after leaving UFO in 2002 he released a mellow compilation for the Fueled for the Future series and an entry in the Shibuya Jazz Classics range. He also continued making music as the Toshio Matsuura Group – producing beat-infused remakes of jazz classics such as Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘A Night in Tunisia’ – and he kept on playing at clubs and festivals, as well as curating events for fashion brands in search of his Shibuya cool. Since 2010, Matsuura has presented a radio show, Tokyo Moon. He has a new band, Hex, which fuses his production expertise with the talent of four jazz musicians and electronic sounds. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2013 via Blue Note, the holy grail of hard-bop labels. Most recently, Matsuura has released a book inspired by his radio show, which collects 400 of his favourite albums and their cover artwork. It’s accompanied by two compilations, Songs of Yesterday and Speak Low. Showing no sign of slowing down, Matsuura remains a vital force. The book Tokyo Moon is out now shinko-music.co.jp The accompanying compilations Songs of Yesterday and Speak Low by Matsuura are out now p-vine.jp toshiomatsuura.com
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P e o p l e
Dale Watson Photograph Cristina Fisher Words Chris May “I do not like country music, I’m no part of it, it’s nothing to do with me,” says Dale Watson. “I play Ameripolitan music. That’s honky tonk, western swing, rockabilly and outlaw. They’re the most ignored categories of music, especially since Nashville said that nobody cares about that stuff save for old farts and jackasses.” The singer, songwriter, guitarist and bandleader singles out Ray Price, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Bob Wills and Carl Perkins as Ameripolitan auteurs. Watson was born in Alabama but has lived most of his life in Texas. Since 1995, he has released close on 30 albums ploughing the deep furrow of southern rural music. Watson’s refusal to sugarcoat his material has kept him from mainstream success, but made him a hero of roots Americana. The old farts and jackasses remark was made by new-country singer Blake Shelton on US TV in 2013. “It was when he was one of the judges on The Voice,” says Watson. “Somebody criticised him for making country what it wasn’t, adding hip-hop and autotune and so on. He said: ‘It’s my job to keep country music moving and improving and nobody wants to listen to grandad’s music; I don’t care what the old farts say, I’m not going to listen to those jackasses.’ He let the cat out of the bag because he actually said what Nashville really thinks. It caused a big uproar here in the States. Ray Price, who was still alive at the time, said: ‘Let’s see how his music stacks up in 70 years, like Bob Wills’ does.’ I wrote a song about it. I was on tour in Belgium when the remark hit social media and it was a kneejerk reaction. The song’s called ‘I’d Rather Be an Old Fart Than a New Country Turd.’ It’s subtitled ‘A Song for Blake.’ You can hear it on YouTube. “I used to be very proud to say I played country music. But now I’m embarrassed to be in the same genre. And quite frankly, I’m not. The neighbourhood changed. Country music has been gentrified.
They’ve torn down so much of the sound and the heart and the soul that it’s a different neighbourhood. We’re trying to make Ameripolitan the new neighbourhood.” Watson’s preferred neighbourhood is not Nashville, but Austin, Texas. Now an alternative centre to Hollywood for movie making, Austin has for decades been an alternative centre to Nashville for country music. “Since Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings made it that way,” says Watson. “Bob Wills was actually the first one to tell Nashville where to shove it. Sometime around 1940 he was
there recording and he gave a holler on the track and the producer said: ‘Cut! Cut! Nobody hollers on my record. We’re going to do it again and I don’t want to hear no screaming.’ Bob turned to the band and he said: ‘Pack it up boys, we’re going back to Texas.’ And they split.” Dale Watson and the Lone Stars perform at the 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, London W1 on 13 August dalewatson.com the100club.co.uk J &
I c o n It is the hat of choice for the tropical adventurer, as played by Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo, or the educated man of the deep south, as played by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s what the slightly sweaty heavy goes for – Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca. Or perhaps the suave and peckish cannibal – Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal. Picture an act of seedy espionage in some sweltering third-world country and the outfit isn’t James Bond black tie, but a shabby white suit topped by this particular titfer. Fans of this lightweight, eminently distinctive headwear are very protective of its quality standards. Anything bearing the name of James Lock, Christys’ or Borsalino is a definite yes. These are the kind of crafted crowns that exhibit a high number of vueltas – concentric circles of close weaving – or which demonstrate a certain number of weaves per inch, each arduously assembled by an artisan taking perhaps three months to make a single straw hat. These are the kind of hats that are not made in British or Italian workshops, but which for true authenticity must come from South America – specifically Ecuador and, if you’re going for broke, from the regions of Azuay and Cañar, and if you’re really really going for broke, from the towns of Montecristi and Pile. One of these might set you back £20,000. A hat made by Simón Espinal – a legend in Panama hat-making circles – might command much more. But then he makes them to a density of some 2,500 weaves per square inch. Quite why the Panama hat is not called the Ecuador hat is lost deep in a jungle somewhere, but the best guess is that its name is the result of it being worn by the workers building the Panama ship canal, who needed protection from the blazing sun. The style was already popular with the locals, who had been wearing a version of the sombrero de paja toquilla – as it is less snappily known – for centuries, perhaps pre-dating even the 16th-century Incas. Photograph Marcus Agerman Ross Words Josh Sims Styling Mark Anthony Bradley Model Josh Caffe, musician and DJ
It was discovered that the fibres of the native carludovica palmata tree (or paja toquilla) could be stripped down to thread-like strands that were then woven into a surprisingly strong and breathable fabric. Once pummelled and washed in rainwater, this attained a suppleness that could then be shaped into a hat. The straw was characteristically the palest yellow in colour, though hat makers would sometimes attain a whiter shade by bleaching the fabric using sulphur from local volcanic sources. Francisco Delgado, an entrepreneur who was travelling around Ecuador in the early 1700s, saw the opportunity to sell the creation to a European market. He took what was a rather roughshod regional creation and moulded it into something much closer to the modern conception of the style. Despite Delgado’s best efforts – and surely the Delgado is the best name of all for this hat – the Panama didn’t attain its popularity in the west until it was exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1855 and presented to Emperor Napoleon III. What the court wore set the fashion for the nation, ensuring the style’s uptake. As for the black band characteristic of the most classic versions of the Panama, this addition is said to have originated as a sign of mourning to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. However, the Panama is a style so effortlessly cool – literally and figuratively – that it should be regarded firmly as a celebration of life, as well as of craft and of nature’s bounty. It is only a shame that, in an era in which sweatpants are considered acceptable attire beyond the confines of the gym – and certainly in an era in which formal headwear is characterised more as novelty than necessity – the Panama hat rarely gets the exposure it deserves. But look to the likes of Mark Twain and Noël Coward, to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to Orson Welles and Fred Astaire, every one of them devoted Panama wearers. Need we say more?
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The EP Revolution by Josh Caffe and the Subs is out in July. The debut album by Josh Caffe, Black Magik Dawn, is out later this year. Josh Caffe is DJing live at Glastonbury and Melt festivals in the summer soundcloud.com/joshcaffe
Hat by Borsalino; jacket and neckerchief by Richard James; shorts by Gieves & Hawkes; top by Orlebar Brown; sunglasses by Ray-Ban.
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N E R D S SUMMER 2016
The Kills / Billy Childish Elon Musk / Hofesh Shechter Ala.ni / Toshio Matsuura Lou Rhodes / Kunlé Adeyemi Evan Ross / Madeleine Arthur Ernest Ranglin / Tim Burgess Dale Watson / Mark Hamill Elnathan John / Alex Cox Judy Blame / Rob Gallagher Will Carruthers / Huw Collins Kyle Allen / Nadine Crocker
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