J O C JOEY BADA$$
J O C K S & N E R D S
RAP BITES BACK WITH THE HIP-HOP MESSIAH
K S & N
WILLIAM EGGLESTON on quasars, Korgs and colour
MARTIN FREEMAN steps behind the camera
reinvent rock with Sean and Yoko
The scientists who want to make you
LIVE FOREVER From Borgen to Game of Thrones
PILOU ASBÆK PLUS
BILL SKARSGÅRD Stephen King’s killer clown is here to give you nightmares
Dries Van Noten Billy Bragg Charlie Brooker Christian Scott Kraftwerk Douglas Brothers Oumou Sangaré
Cover Star Bill Skarsgård Photograph Gavin Bond Styling Mark Holmes Shirt by Jeffrey Rüdes; trousers by Valentino from Barney’s New York, Beverly Hills; vest by Ami; necklace and bracelet, stylist’s own; belt by Salvatore Ferragamo; watch by Shinola. Editor-in-Chief & Creative Director Marcus Agerman Ross firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Shazia Chaudhry shaziachaudhry.co.uk
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY PETER LINDBERGH MOJAVE DESERT, CALIFORNIA Levi Dylan wears the Rockmore
R E G
Panorama Muslims of London Photographs Tom Skipp 8 Brief Summer’s cultural bright spots 14 / Locker The world’s most beautiful new products Photographs Mark Mattock 25 Metropolitan Jerusalem 154 / Expo Glasgow Roller Derby Photographs Armando Ferrari 162 / Edit Shoreham-by-Sea Photographs David Goldman; Styling Chris Tang 168 People Douglas Brothers, Inua Ellams, Nick Hakim, Oumou Sangaré, Reid Scott, Samson Young 175 / Icon Espadrilles Photograph Mark Mattock; Styling Chris Tang 182
William Eggleston and Huger Foote 40 Who Wants to Live Forever? 60 / Joey Bada$$ 66 / Bill Skarsgård 74 Turner Twins 88 / Black Lips 110 / Martin Freeman 118 The Death of Expertise 134 / Pilou Asbæk 148
Wyatt Rabun Mattock Photographs Mark Mattock; Styling William Gilchrist 48 / New Orleans Photographs Lee Strickland; Fashion Director Mark Anthony Bradley 96 De La Warr Pavilion Photographs Jon Mortimer; Fashion Director Mark Anthony Bradley 124 / Yucatán Photographs Klaus Thymann; Styling Chris Tang 140
UTAH spring summer 2017
Michael Arthur Hideout Riders Club
GTX Mountain Jacket
P a n o r a m a
Erkin ‘Egg’ Gurney “Egg owns and runs a mosque that was originally built as a synagogue, so it feels unlike many others in London. He’s married to a Jewish woman and has spent some time in prison. On the exterior of the dome Egg once painted his own name, which you can still see.” ukturkishislamictrust.co.uk 8
MUSLIMS OF LONDON Photographs Tom Skipp Words Tom Banham The most egregious among the many unconstitutional moves Donald Trump has pulled since rising to America’s highest office might be Executive Order 13796: the Muslim ban. By closing America’s borders to visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, the commander-inchief inflamed cultural tensions that haven’t burnt so fiercely since god-fearing knights spent the Middle Ages waging war in the Holy Land. Since 9/11 and George W. Bush’s vengeful call for a ‘crusade’, Muslims have replaced Russians as Hollywood’s go-to bad guys. In reaction, for liberal dramatists they become saints, as if to prove a point. Which leaves little room for those who don’t see their religion as the only thing that defines them. “I felt that I could show a more balanced view and something that people could relate to,” says photographer Tom Skipp, whose photo series Welcome to Briton captures Muslim men who live within five miles of his home in London. He spent a few hours with each, learning about the role religion plays in their lives. “Each person welcomed me warmly and has shown me more about the Britain I love. There is no ‘other’. It’s only ‘us’, together.” tomskipp.com J &
Ahmad Bismillah â€œAhmad is the vice-chairman of the Madina Mosque Trust, which is based at the mosque on Lea Bridge Road in Clapton. Ahmad took three hours of his time to show me around the building and explain the location where he practises his faith.â€? madina-masjid.org.uk 10
P a n o r a m a
P a n o r a m a Mohammed Yahya “I met Mohammed in Tottenham, where he lives. A self-described ‘rapper, educator and servant of God’, we had both visited the Jungle camp in Calais, where he had performed for people.” @mohammedyahyamc
Arman Hussain “Arman met me in Kilburn, where he grew up. We talked about his business making moderate clothing geared towards the Muslim faith, then moved on to relationships, Michael McIntyre and weddings.” armanhussain.studio 12
M&O IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE
M&O PARIS SEPT. 8-12, 2017 PARIS NORD VILLEPINTE THE LEADING HOME DECOR FAIR CONNECTING THE INTERNATIONAL INTERIOR DESIGN AND LIFESTYLE COMMUNITY
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Photograph Jason S.
DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE A handful of filmmakers alter the world of cinema so completely that they become adjectives, their names shorthand for a style that is stolen endlessly by lesser artists. Spielbergian. Tarantinoesque. Hitchcockian. And Lynchian. David Lynch: The Art Life is Lynchian in a few ways. First, its subject – the director, who offers vignettes that cover his childhood and time studying art in Philadelphia, up to the making of his first feature, Eraserhead. But there’s also its style – through cigarette smoke, and interspersed with home movies, Lynch tells stories of his upbringing that thrum with dark subtext. Director Jon Nguyen first contacted Lynch 12 years ago, through a mutual friend. The meeting resulted in Lynch: One, a behind-the-scenes documentary of Lynch’s film Inland Empire (2006). The auteur has long refused to analyse his work, and on Lynch: One proved slippery. But Nguyen gained his trust and, after the birth of Lynch’s youngest daughter 14
Lula in 2012, approached him again. “We pitched him the idea of doing a more personal documentary,” he says. “‘Your daughter’s young, you’re getting older [Lynch is now 71], and there is going to come a time when she may not be old enough for you to be able to tell her your story. So here’s an opportunity.’ The deal was we hand over all 25 hours of material to her when she becomes a teenager. That’s why the film is dedicated to Lula.” It would sometimes take months before Lynch was in the mood to talk and the team hurried to his house for recording. “It’s only possible if you stay up there,” Nguyen says, “and there aren’t that many people David would allow to stay up there.” Cinematographer Jason Scheunemann ended up living with Lynch for two and a half years.
“What you see is really his life,” says Nguyen. “It was just a camera hidden away that he’s forgotten about. It’s a very simple, meditative lifestyle up in the hills; relaxing, painting, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. He pursues this ‘art life’.” The title is Lynch’s, his own description of the existence he imagined as a young man. It just took 50 years to materialise. “A lot of fans think he’s probably a strange, weird character,” says Nguyen. “His movies are so leftfield. What surprised me is how down to earth he is. He’s an elderly man living a very calm lifestyle. But his brain can take flights.” The author David Foster Wallace once described the tension in Lynch’s films as “a particular kind of irony, where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter”. The same description could apply to the director’s childhood. In one story, Lynch describes a naked woman walking across the street with a bloodied lip, an image paralleled by Isabella Rossellini’s character in Blue Velvet. Nguyen originally planned to interview Lynch’s university friends, to draw a more rounded picture. “It felt like it lost its intimacy once other people came into the picture,” he says. “They just didn’t have the mood we were after.” That came from Lynch – everything featured in the documentary, from the home videos to the artworks that illustrate Lynch’s stories, sprung directly from its subject. But Nguyen’s role as director was to create a world in which Lynch could reveal himself. WORDS RICKY JONES David Lynch: The Art Life is out on 14 July facebook.com/davidlynchtheartlife
STRAIGHT NO CHASER When Paul Bradshaw ended music magazine Straight No Chaser a decade ago, it was with a heavy heart. The internet had gutted revenues, stole readers and slashed attention spans. It was an ignominious end for a title that, with the loosest definition of ‘jazz’ as its lodestar, offered a unique take on black, mainly British, Issue 97, 2007 Artwork Swifty music for 20 years. But so it goes, he thought. At least now he had the time to write books. Last year, while working on one with his former art director, Ian Swift (Swifty), the pair started reminiscing. “He asked me how many issues we’d done,” Bradshaw says. Ninety-seven, it turned out. Well, asked Swifty, why hadn’t he made it to 100? It was because “we were haemorrhaging money”, he says. But a decade on, and with the music he loved fragmenting in new and exciting ways, perhaps it was time to tick off those last three. “It would allow Issue 22, 1993 Artwork Swifty me to reach out to a new generation. People involved in the Peckham scene, who tune in to NTS and Soho Radio and Worldwide FM.” Straight No Chaser’s return feels timely. A new generation are channelling and collaborating with artists who were just getting established at the magazine’s end. “That’s what Straight No Chaser was about, joining links between generations,” says Bradshaw. “Providing the history and some kind of continuity. We weren’t afraid of going in deeper.” WORDS TOM BANHAM The final issues of Straight No Chaser will be released throughout 2017 ancienttofuture.com J &
B r i e f HOW SKIFFLE CHANGED THE WORLD Lonnie Donegan could be the patron saint of luthiers. At the start of 1956, British guitar makers sold around 5,000 acoustics every year. In January that year, Donegan released his skiffle version of ‘Rock Island Line’. Within 12 months, they were turning over more than a quarter of a million. Rock’n’roll played a part in the acoustic guitar’s explosion in popularity – a photo of Elvis Presley holding one was used on the cover of his 1956 debut album – but skiffle was the major impetus. In 1957, at the height of the craze, there were up to 50,000 active skiffle bands in Britain, according to Billy Bragg’s exhaustive new history of the movement, Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World. Almost every town and city had a skiffle club, hosting open mic evenings in youth clubs and community halls. “For me, skiffle has the same credibility as punk,”
The Eden Street Skiffle Group Photograph © Brian Jackman 16
says Bragg. “It had a comparably catalytic impact on youth culture. It was the first British music to be made for teenagers by teenagers.” Like punk, skiffle soundtracked protest movements – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Rock Against Racism played out to a skiffle beat and its artists were at the forefront of the response to the Notting Hill race riots. “It was making a statement on behalf of outsiders,” says Bragg. “‘Rock Island Line’ is often spoken about as a singularity that came out of nowhere. But there was a whole cultural movement around it.” Skiffle’s appeal was in its simplicity. The instruments were cheap, if not free – wrap a string around a broom then stick in a tea chest and you had yourself an upright bass – and the songs were easy to play, even for amateur musicians. Bragg feels that, 60 years on, skiffle’s cultural importance isn’t fully understood. “It’s one of the last areas of pop culture to be properly appreciated,” he says. And with the original generation’s ranks thinning, he wanted to speak to the remaining primary sources before it was too late.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
The Ghouls performing inside Orlando’s delicatessen, Old Compton Street, London Photograph © Daily Herald Archive/Science and Society Picture Library Until recently, many of the rock musicians who grew up during the skiffle era – and, like the Beatles, cut their teeth in skiffle groups – have been reluctant to acknowledge the role it played. When electric guitars usurped acoustic ones, skiffle became uncool, says Bragg. “If you had the choice between naming Lonnie Donegan as your formative influence, or Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, you’d probably say Holly and Berry.” One musician not shy of giving skiffle its due is the normally uncommunicative Van Morrison, who once spent a morning sharing his enthusiasm with Bragg. John Peel was another champion. “I got invited to come and have dinner with him and Lonnie Donegan in the late 1990s,” says Bragg. “We got on like a house on fire. But during the whole dinner Peel spoke barely two sentences. I found out later that he wanted me there because he was so in awe of Donegan that he didn’t think he could engage him in conversation himself. Which is amazing, specially when you think of all the musicians Peel talked to in the course of his life. Lonnie Donegan, of all people.” WORDS CHRIS MAY
Think of a fashion industry rule and Dries Van Noten has probably broken it. He doesn’t advertise. He doesn’t bolster his brand’s coffers with licensed scents and watches. He designs only for his own label rather than lending his talents to a couture house. He doesn’t do couture at all, not seeing the point of expending creative energy on things that his customers can never buy. He is also intensely private. On his Instagram account, expect the corporate – runway shots, new collection announcements – interspersed with occasional shots of flowers in his garden and his Airedale terrier, Harry. The latter feature prominently in a new documentary, Dries, by Reiner Holzemer. The director met Van Noten on a Vogue shoot, while he was working on a film about photographer Juergen Teller. Until then, Holzemer had resisted documenting the fashion industry. He wasn’t interested in the drama of fashion shows, or the race to get a collection ready. Nor, it seemed, was Van Noten. As he puts it in the film, “The word ‘fashion’, I don’t like. Because fashion is something that is over after six months. I would like to find a word that is more timeless.” Van Noten’s anti-fashion approach has tended to take him away from the mainstream. At minimalism’s peak he produced a collection suffused with Bollywood’s patterns and colours. His originality trickles into the rest of industry. He steers trends, but never follows. In Dries we see him pore over samples, searching for something that will translate his ideas about art, beauty and culture into something that is wearable and, most importantly, timeless. WORDS TOM BANHAM Dries is out on 7 July dogwoof.com Dries Van Noten working on his prints for the women’s S/S16 collection Still courtesy of Dogwoof
Billy Bragg’s book Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World is out now faber.co.uk J &
B r i e f Tour de France, Mont Ventoux, France, 1958
VENTOUX: SACRIFICE AND SUFFERING ON THE GIANT OF PROVENCE The Ventoux is a strange, desolate and extreme mountain, of baking heat and high winds. It stands alone, overlooking the Rhone valley, the final ripple in the rumpled quilt of the Alpine chain of peaks. Mont Ventoux is so identifiable that pilots flying south towards Italy and the Côte d’Azur use its bleached summit as a reference point. The vast, unmistakable bulk of the ‘Giant of Provence’ dominates the rolling landscape of the Drôme and Vaucluse regions of the south of France. The mountain, dubbed the “killer climb” by L’Equipe newspaper, is as prominent in the minds of cyclists. Infamously, Tom Simpson, a former world champion and 18
BBC sports personality of the year, collapsed and died near the barren summit during the 1967 Tour de France. Since then the ‘Giant’ has been synonymous with cycling’s struggle to overcome its ethical demons. More than any other climb, Ventoux has become a lightning rod for the debate over doping in cycling. Like many others, Simpson had always struggled there, the heat, thin air and unrelenting gradient overpowering him. He wanted to win the 1967 Tour de France, to be a superstar, to be as loved back home as the Beatles or Bobby Moore. But, as he entered the twilight of his career, financially overcommitted to a Corsican property deal and desperately trying to negotiate a lucrative sponsorship contract, the Ventoux crushed him. Officially, his death was caused by heat exhaustion and dehydration. But there was also a lingering reputation for amphetamine abuse, although some close to him, including his daughter Joanne, still contest his use of doping. The debate over how Simpson should be remembered – as a flawed but courageous hero or as another example of professional sport’s ongoing ethical malaise – still continues. In an era of naivety and lawlessness, his story ensures that, of all the mountains in cycling, it is the Ventoux that casts the longest shadow. It is also the ascent that Lance Armstrong, even with all his doping, rated the hardest in France. It’s the story of a mountain that has become an icon, a climb that’s at the top of every cycling obsessive’s bucket list. Jean Bobet, the brother and team mate of triple Tour de France champion Louison Bobet, and also an accomplished writer, described the experience
of approaching the Ventoux during the 1955 Tour: “Nobody says a word, nobody laughs. Lifting your head slightly, you can make out the shape, in the distance, of the Ventoux. You can smell the fear of the men going to a lingering death.” Snow-covered in winter, arid as a desert in summer, Mont Ventoux has become the Everest of cycling. It’s unlike any other climb – intimidating and unforgiving, but also inspiring in its extremes. It has a unique smell in the heat of summer – hot tarmac, the cypress trees, the lavender, eucalyptus and herbs. After an electric storm, steam rises off the road and there is a taste of metal in the air. It is a stage made for drama and suffering. Even as recently as last summer, after high winds forced the race to abandon a planned summit finish, Tour de France leader Chris Froome found himself running up the Ventoux after huge crowds caused a crash. Success for three-time Tour-winner Froome, and Team Sky, has brought ever-increasing scrutiny. But suspicion in cycling is nothing new. Long before the Simpson tragedy, riders had been driven to delirium and collapse by the combination of the Ventoux and the tacit acceptance of a widespread culture of doping. In fact, after several riders had collapsed on the Ventoux in previous years, Simpson’s was a death foretold. Even so, it’s a tragedy that many in cycling would still rather forget. There will be no visit to the Ventoux from the Tour this July, the race organisers preferring to ignore the anniversary. Yet 50 summers on, as sport faces ever greater levels of corruption, his story, and that of the mountain that killed him, are as relevant as ever. WORDS JEREMY WHITTLE The book Ventoux: Sacrifice and Suffering on the Giant of Provence is out now simonandschuster.co.uk Tour de France champion Chris Froome climbing Mont Ventoux, France, 2013
KRAFTWERK 3-D: THE CATALOGUE Kraftwerk have never been content to do what is expected. When they released Autobahn in 1974, rock dominated and the idea that four Germans playing computers would ever dislodge ‘real instruments’ in the charts seemed laughable. It didn’t help that the title track stretched to 22 minutes. Rolling Stone’s review mostly ignored the music and instead spent its wordcount on car maintenance tips. But then, great art is never appreciated at first. And for anyone who ever doubted that what
Kraftwerk performing live, 2016 Photograph Peter Boettcher they do is art, in 2012 Kraftwerk set off on an international tour of eight of the world’s leading galleries and museums, including London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In each, the quartet played eight Kraftwerk albums in their entirety, in chronological order, kicking off with Autobahn and finishing on their ode to cycling, Tour de France. These multimedia performances have now been documented in an exhaustive, four-disc box set, featuring concert footage from all eight live performances, tour films and the projections. They are accompanied by a 236-page hardback book, which features computer-generated images from each of the 3D shows as well as unseen backstage footage. Kraftwerk completists can also snare new, live versions of all eight albums, which have been mixed and mastered at Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang Studio in Düsseldorf. Rolling Stone should carve out some time to give them all a listen. WORDS TOM BANHAM Kraftwerk 3-D: The Catalogue is out now The band tours the UK throughout June kraftwerk.com J &
INTO THE UNKNOWN: A JOURNEY THROUGH SCIENCE FICTION
original Blade Runner; instead, the film has been fed into a computer, which ‘watches’ it, then spits It’s easy to forget that science fiction was once a fringe out what it sees. Like an android dreaming, just pursuit, before Disney hoovered up the Marvel and Star not of electric sheep. Wars universes and nerd culture reached cinematic ubiquity. The Barbican proved not only encouraging It seems that today, blockbusters don’t get made without partners, but also the perfect space for Gyger’s a spaceship or exhibition. Like the best science fiction, its design Technology/ superhero. And offered something radically new. “It’s daring and Transformation: yet science fiction it takes guts to create something like that, out Wonder Woman, has never quite of nothing,” he says. “The conservatory is like directed by Dara shaken its outsider a spaceship that has created its own natural Birnbaum, 1978-79 Still courtesy of status – neophytes environment inside an artificial environment.” Dara Birnbaum and might watch the The opening, however, is rather more Electronic Arts odd Avengers film, contemporary. At the entrance, visitors are greeted Intermix but its true fans by six-foot-high video screens, which display scenes congregate en from Charlie Brooker’s TV series Black Mirror. masse, dressed “Even though Black Mirror is a sci-fi show, I don’t as their favourite think of it as such,” Brooker says. His touch notes characters. For are less Star Trek, more Tales of the Unexpected, Patrick Gyger, who has curated a new exhibition at London’s which provoked chills by being only an inch or Barbican that tracks the genre from its roots in the satirical two removed from reality. “I was always interested fiction of the 16th century to today, that posed a problem. in technology and I’ve always been interested in “It has to please a crowd of specialists as well as people who ‘what if ’ stories, but I’ve never been a consumer don’t know the genre very well, or don’t think it’s for them.” of the kind of science fiction where I can’t see The simplest solution would be the one most exhibitions how it relates to me.” of this type tend towards; memorabilia. But the Barbican’s These science not-so-fictions form a key part open-ended brief allowed Gyger to take a rather more of Gyger’s narrative, as well as offering access nuanced approach. “I’d created 30 exhibitions before and they points to people turned off by aliens or time travel. were always really specific “But they’ve read Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang, 1927 Still – things like flying cars or something like courtesy of the Roger Grant Archive music,” he says. “But the 1984,” he says. scope here is the whole of “And then you can science fiction, not as a show them other gateway to something else.” things that they There are still rare finds, might normally including Darth Vader’s have ignored.” helmet and Jules Verne’s Orwell’s novel original manuscripts. links directly to But they form part of a the earliest work narrative that explores how featured in the science fiction’s utopias show, Thomas and dystopias have shaped More’s 1516 book society’s view of its own Utopia, in which possible futures. “Science an allegorical fiction is a mass-produced island where slaves genre,” Gyger says. “A comic or a toy robot from the 1950s is are chained in gold and the population espouses more important than original superhero artwork because tens a proto-communist approach to personal property of thousands of people had those in their homes. And that served as a critique of contemporary society. In the five centuries since, authors and filmmakers have pervasiveness of the genre is very important.” used the genre to satirise things too controversial There are also some notable gaps. “People will ask, ‘Where to tackle overtly. is the DeLorean?’ Well, it doesn’t exist any more.” He was “When Rod Serling created The Twilight Zone, he also stymied in his efforts to get footage from Ridley Scott’s 20
B r i e f Black Mirror, 2011 Still courtesy of House of Tomorrow
was actually wanting to write teleplays about things like racism and McCarthyism,” says Brooker. “But they were getting censored. He realised that if he couched it as metaphor, he could go further.” Black Mirror applies the same approach to today’s biggest moral panic, the insidious creep of technology, which as a bonus also offers its writer a way out
of potential plot holes. “Back then, they’d have an idea like, ‘What if there was a talking doll that tells you it’s going to kill you?’ And to justify it, they’d have to say it’s a ghost or a spirit. Today, you can use technology to take the place of the supernatural.” Black Mirror has been lauded for its radical and unsettling vision, but science fiction’s transition from the margins to the mainstream has also dulled some of its Prototype for a Nonfunctional inventiveness. Film studios now see sci-fi as a safe Satellite designed by Trevor bet; what was originally exciting becomes prosaic Paglen, 2013 Photograph courtesy when it reappears in sequel after sequel. But Gyger of Trevor Paglen Studio is confident that sci-fi’s current popularity will incubate a new generation of radicals. “You can only reboot things three or four times,” he says. “Eventually you will have to stop doing Spiderman. But there are other people who are doing new things, bringing in new ideas and new aesthetics, they’re just not mainstream at the moment.” Hopefully, they’re not in a galaxy far, far away. WORDS TOM BANHAM The exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction is at the Barbican, London, until 1 September barbican.org.uk J &
100 YEARS OF JAZZ
Dave Mulligan was 12 when he first sampled poitín, after mistaking a bottle of Ireland’s moonshine for water. Since the spirit was illegal, distillers tended to avoid labels. His nose should have tipped him off though – poitín can reach nearly 90 per cent alcohol. It was banned in 1661 and remained illegal in Ireland until 1997, not for its strength, but because the British government wanted its cut of a booming whiskey trade. “The culture was just making your own spirit at home with what you grew,” says Mulligan, who founded the Bán Poitín brand in 2015. “If you didn’t grow it, then your neighbour gave you the ingredients – potatoes, grain, rye, barley or sugar beet – and you gave him back the spirit.” But with no regulation, quality varied. Before the ban was lifted, drinkers were advised to mix a drop of their poitín with milk. If it curdled, avoid it. In contrast, industrialisation meant a handful of distilleries now dominate Irish whiskey, from 1,200 in 1661 to three a decade ago, says Mulligan. But a recent surge in its popularity means ten new distilleries have opened since 2013 to feed the demand, including Echlinville, which in 2015 won the first new Northern Irish licence for 125 years. Irish whiskey has to spend at least three years in barrels but poitín is unaged. So while Echlinville waits for its whiskies to mature, it works with Mulligan on poitíns you won’t regret the next day. The legal stuff is still an acquired taste. But it is also a link to Ireland’s authentic drinking heritage. “It’s more culturally relevant than biscotti-flavoured Irish cream liqueur,” says Mulligan. “No Paddy ever drank that in their life.” WORDS TOM BANHAM
Jazz celebrates four significant birthdays this year. Ella, Thelonious and Dizzy – three figures whose art is still so powerful that their first names suffice – would each have turned 100 in 2017. And all were born in the same year as jazz itself. The Original Dixieland Jass Band’s February 1917 performances of ‘Livery Stable Blues’ and its flipside ‘Dixie Jass Band One-Step’ are considered ground zero for jazz on record. A group of five white musicians gathered in the New York City recording studios of the Victor Talking Machine Company and raucously made history. A century on, jazz shows no sign of rot. The jazz world has been relishing in a newfound energy; back to its best and as subversive as ever. This is fitting for a music whose influence has filtered into every pore of contemporary culture and served regularly as a megaphone for free-spiritedness, rebellion and resilience. As befits America’s first true art form, US artists have led the charge, braiding influences from hip-hop, electronica and more into an already complex DNA. Of particular prominence are singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding, who experimented with psych rock on 2016’s Emily’s D+Evolution; Thundercat, whose cosmic wizardry tightropes between pop, funk, electronica and prog rock; and Alice Coltrane’s great-nephew, Flying Lotus, who continues to close the gap between electronica and jazz via his Brainfeeder imprint. This year, Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott releases a trio of albums, The Centennial Trilogy, which explore jazz’s anti-establishment history. “You can hear that the music has updated itself, and how absurd it is that socially we’re going through the same shit that we were going through a hundred years ago,” he says. “The vernacular, the structure of the compositions, you can hear a hundred years worth of growth. But why are there still issues over gender? Why do we have the racial dynamic we have?” Things feel particularly ripe in the UK too, where a wave of young musicians are coupling jazz with grime, dancehall and other sounds born from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. The result is something that’s still jazz at heart, but feels more Rinse FM than Radio 3. Drummer and composer Moses Boyd – who released his album Journey to the Mountain of Forever in early June, alongside fellow UK talent Binker Golding – has worked with the likes of Four Tet and Tony Allen as well as
B r i e f producing his own brand of Caribbeanflecked jazz. Though it would be unrecognisable to the Original Dixieland Jass Band, it’s still true to the spirit of their music. “With improvisation being such a key feature within the art form, the nature of jazz is Trumpeter Christian Scott ever-evolving and reflective of one’s time and experience on this earth,” Boyd says. “I believe that the rawness, honesty and constant search of a great jazz musician – like a John Coltrane, Milford Graves or Eric Dolphy – resonates with people on a deep level and permeates culture, age and background. All this music speaks about something relevant – socially, politically – and it really impacted me.” Jazz’s latest success comes at an apposite time. Political upheaval has often played out to a jazz soundtrack: Billie Holiday’s recording of ‘Strange Fruit’, in 1939, protested lynching; John Coltrane recorded ‘Alabama’ after four black Artwork courtesy of Jazz Re:freshed
girls died in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. On 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ aimed to soothe and uplift at a time when police brutality filled front pages and became an unexpected anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. It helps that newcomers to jazz now have more opportunities to discover it. The internet provides artists, radio provides cultural acceptance and traditional venues like the newly revamped Jazz Cafe in London have been joined by more dance-oriented spaces, such as London’s XOYO and Village Underground. “When I was starting to write and gig a couple of years ago, there weren’t as many opportunities to play jazz in places other than jazz clubs,” says 25-year-old saxophonist Nubya Garcia, whose debut EP, 5ive, sold out in days. “A lot of collaborations are happening between jazz musicians and producers from other genres, which is taking things to a whole new place.” You need only glance at Herbie Hancock’s electronics and J. Dilla’s jazz-sourced samples to see how high those kinds of explorations can soar. WORDS TOM BANHAM Christian Scott’s The Centennial Trilogy is out on 25 September christianscott.bandcamp.com Binker and Moses’s Journey to the Mountain of Forever is out now gearboxrecords.com J &
JOCKS & NERDS IN ASSOCIATION WITH EE FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF CLUB CULTURE with DJ Pierre / Clive Henry Paul Trouble Anderson / Terry Farley Stuart Patterson / Dave Beer
VIP Lounge, Eastern Electrics, Morden Park, London Sat 5 August, 11am-10pm easternelectrics.com
LOCKER Photographs Mark Mattock Words Chris Gaynor Edited by Edward Moore and Chris Tang
J.M. WESTON ROLAND GARROS MOCS To tennis players, red clay is a daunting reminder of the slow and difficult playing surfaces of the Roland Garros courts. The Paris club’s own fashion brand turned 30 this year; to mark the anniversary it has teamed up with cordonniers J.M. Weston, for a range of ‘mocs’ based on the shoemaker’s signature loafer. With a nod to the French Open, the colourways include white, blue and red clay. Out now
L o c k e r RAG & BONE EUROPEAN FLAGSHIP Though synonymous with New York style, Rag & Bone is run by a Brit, Marcus Wainwright, who founded the company in 2002 to make “the perfect pair of jeans”. With no prior fashion experience, he worked in a factory for 18 months while he perfected the design on which he founded his brand. This summer Rag & Bone comes home, taking over a 113-year-old, tile-covered building in London’s Soho, which houses its entire range. Rag & Bone is now open at 50-54 Beak St, London W1
PATRÓN MEXICAN HERITAGE TIN Before they learnt the art of distilling from Spanish conquistadors, Aztec and Mayan leaders drank pulque, a drink first produced in 1,000 BC by fermenting the leaves of the agave. The same plant is used today to make tequila. To celebrate the ancient Central American culture and the history surrounding tequila’s origins, Patrón has released a limited-edition Mexican Heritage tin, designed by artist Adrian Dominguez. Out now 26
BREITLING SUPEROCEAN HERITAGE II Though synonymous with aviation, Breitling has an aquatic history too; its flagship Superocean turns 60 this year. To mark its birthday, the brand has teamed up with fellow adventurers Tudor, fitting its MT5612 movement into the new three-hander Superoceans. The chronograph retains its Breitling guts but, as with the rest of the range, gets a facelift, the former steel bezel replaced with ultra-hard ceramic. Out now
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BELL & ROSS BR 03-94 RS17 Renault’s debut F1 car was powerful but unreliable. Failing to finish in any of its races, it earned the nickname the ‘Yellow Teapot’. Since then, the French team has become a force in Formula 1 and an inspiration to Bell & Ross. For its new BR 03-94 RS17 model, the watchmaker used the same carbon fibre as the F1 car’s chassis and decorated it with the shade of yellow the race team has used since its 1977 debut. Out now RADO HYPERCHROME CAPTAIN COOK Rado is responsible for introducing hard metal and sapphire crystal into the watchmaking industry. To mark the 60th anniversary of its Captain Cook diving watch, the Swiss firm has opted for something simpler; an almost note-for-note recreation of the original, including printed dial markers and 37mm case. The anchor logo at 12 o’clock even spins as the wearer moves their arm, a feature that debuted in 1962. Out now
GIBSON FIREBIRD STUDIO Founded by Orville Gibson in 1902, Gibson guitars have run parallel to the history of popular music. Originally a mandolin maker, Gibson invented the archtop guitar in the 1890s and it quickly became popular with musicians across jazz, rock’n’roll and blues. The Les Paul might be the best known in the family of Gibson guitars, but a raft of different silhouettes have been played by musicians including George Benson, Neil Young and Ronnie Wood – who often plays a Firebird, which this year gets its first update since 1963. The new Firebird strips out much of the original’s weight and adds a highly polished fretboard, which speeds up fingering and means players won’t need to call for a stool during all-night recording. Out now
TOMATIN FIVE VIRTUES SERIES In the 1970s, Tomatin was one of the largest distilleries in Scotland, producing affordable scotch for blended whiskies. But in recent years, its output has turned more premium, with aged single malts collecting a slew of industry awards. Its latest innovation is the Five Virtues series, a quintet of whiskies whose production echoes the natural elements; the Fire edition, for example, is aged in charred oak, while Wood is cycled through French, American and Hungarian casks. Out now
L o c k e r NOMOS GLASHÜTTE AQUA Two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nomos Glashütte was founded by Roland Schwertner. Designed with the sensibility of Bauhaus in mind, the watches have maintained a simple aesthetic since they were first created – until now. The new Aqua range features two eyepopping colours – siren blue and red – and will keep ticking down to 200m beneath the waves. So now your work watch can also be your play watch. Out now
KRONABY In a market saturated with complicated interfaces, Kronaby is a revelation for the smartwatch industry. The understated analogue face is free of email notifications, but the Swedish watchmaker has made features such as a physical activity monitor and sound control accessible through an app. Out now
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DAVID ADJAYE X MASTER & DYNAMIC In the 1990s, architect David Adjaye was among those bright, British talents lumped together under the banner of ‘Cool Britannia’. He designed the Whitechapel Idea Store, which ushered in the idea that public institutions such as libraries could be exciting, dynamic and full of life. For Master & Dynamic he has created a 16kg speaker made from concrete. The sound-dampening quality of the wireless speakers means there is no risk of any precious vinyl jumping. Out now
MOVITRA In a breakthrough for butterfingers everywhere, Italian eyewear designer Movitra has produced a range of sunglasses with a rotating frame. When all folded down the arms cover both sides of the lenses – so no more scratched glass. Out now BELSTAFF SUNGLASSES In the past three years motorbike sales in the UK have almost doubled. As the desire for two-wheeled machinery climbs, so does the appeal of the lifestyle that surrounds it. No one understands this better than Belstaff, whose flagship store on London’s Bond St suggests an understanding that its clothes are as desirable on the city catwalks as the open road. It seems only fitting that sunglasses – simultaneously protective and stylish – are now available alongside the apparel. Out now
WRANGLER X PETER MAX Peter Max is one of the leading practitioners of psychedelic art in the US and may have had a hand in the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine artwork, depending on whose account you believe. Max worked with Wrangler in the 1970s, and to mark the company’s 70th birthday he has created a ’70s-inspired denim collection, as well as a boldly coloured range of apparel. Out now
GUCCI X MR PORTER CAPSULE COLLECTION Having collaborated with Net-aPorter last year, this season Gucci turns its attention to its male counterpart. The 43-piece collection, designed by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, emphasises the Italian brand’s classic logos, while incorporating a couple of new ones. The collection’s colours and prints also nod to Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, who died last year. Out now
ISSEY MIYAKE NUIT D’ISSEY BLEU ASTRAL The original L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme remains one of the world’s most popular fragrances. It reflected the designer’s idea that innovative ideas could reach a mass market – with yuzu and water lily it smelt like water on hot concrete, when most men’s fragrances seemed inspired by either discos or smoking clubs. The brand’s latest release is no less challenging, blending lime, leather and vetiver into something that captures the essence of late summer nights. Out now
CANYON AEROAD BIKE Former cyclist Mario Cipollini claimed that “if you brake, you don’t win”. For those who don’t live by Super Mario’s stance on cycling, Canyon’s Aeroad features a set of Shimano disc brakes, which sit within a redesigned wheelset – meaning the extra hardware adds only 0.8 watts of drag in the wind tunnel. The carbon frame comes in either black and asphalt grey or cherry red and pepper. Out now 34
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COMME DES GARÇONS OLFACTORY LIBRARY Since formulating its first ‘antiperfume’ in 1994, Comme des Garçons has released 75 fragrances, which reinterpret synthetic and natural notes such as nail polish, cellulose and burnt rubber. To mark this milestone, the pioneering Japanese brand is re-releasing its first ten scents; eschewing fragrance tradition, Rei Kawakubo’s olfactory library takes in the scents of tar, cake and a kerosene-scented garage. Out now
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TUMI X ORLEBAR BROWN British leisurewear maker Orlebar Brown built its reputation on printed swimming shorts, but has since branched out into everything else a man might need by the pool, often emblazoned with photography. Its collaboration with Italian luggage expert Tumi incorporates the work of celebrity and society photographer Slim Aarons, who once described his work as â€œattractive people doing attractive things in attractive placesâ€?. Out now
Lauded by Elton John, the singer-songwriter couples epic hooks with intimate love songs Stretch chino suit; deck-striped T-shirt; triple-stripe socks; all by J. Crew; limited-edition trainers by New Balance for J. Crew.
Photographs Lee Strickland Styling Salim Ahmed-Kashmirwala Grooming Kelly Sadler using Balance Me, Bumble & Bumble and MAC Cosmetics Photographic Assistant Bonny Sadr
For a singer-songwriter with a knack for penning anthemic pop, it’s edifying when the man who basically invented the style decides he digs your sound so much he wants you to open for him on tour. Not that Jake Isaac’s career lift is only thanks to Elton John. Before pricking Elton’s ears, Isaac received a Mobo (Music of Black Origin) nod for best gospel act, worked with the likes of Duffy and Ms Dynamite and voiced Ill Blu’s huge house track ‘Fall Out’. Despite the power of his voice, with its shades of Bill
Withers and Isaac Hayes, he came late to singing. “I grew up in church and I was absolutely transfixed on the drums,” he says. He played in jazz and rock bands and was ready for a career as a session musician until his parents said he had to get an education first. “Pretty much all the way through uni I was sneaking back to London to do drumming and bass playing sessions,” he says. “By this time I had also started teaching myself acoustic guitar and writing little love songs in my room.”
Isaac grew up absorbing early garage but at university discovered the Libertines. “I’d never heard anything like them,” he says. “Their music was wild, but aggressive and so rebellious.” He filtered both influences into his own songs, coupling the lyricism of MCs such as Megaman and Oxide and Neutrino with singalong guitar hooks. He tries not to pigeonhole his music. “I’ve kinda let go of trying to figure it out,” he says. It’s an attitude shared by a certain multi-platinum-selling rocket man, who signed Isaac
to his label in 2014. He swiftly sold out an international tour, supported Ella Eyre and played Glastonbury for the first time. This year, he released his debut album, Our Lives, and in June joins Elton on his UK stadium tour. He’ll have to hope he doesn’t upstage the boss. Jake Isaac’s debut album Our Lives is out now iamjakeisaac.com
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Madras shirt; 770 straight fit, stretch chinos; pocket T-shirt; all by J. Crew; limited-edition trainers by New Balance for J. Crew.
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William Eggleston, one of photography’s most revolutionary figures, has turned his hand to music. Ahead of the release of his debut album, he sat down with his protégé, Huger Foote, to discuss quantum theory, colour and the characteristics of great art. Words Tom Banham Photographs Huger Foote
Wiliam Eggleston’s 1976 show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) splits photography into two eras. Before Eggleston, artists shot in black and white; colour was for selling toothpaste. But after his vibrant images of the seemingly banal – a bouffanted woman sat on a pavement; a child’s tricycle – that distinction slowly collapsed. His images were so unexpected, so at odds with everything understood to be good about photography, that critics couldn’t believe MoMA’s curator, John Szarkowski, had the gall to hang them in a space reserved for the giants of contemporary art. The New York Times saw fit to call the exhibition “the most hated show of the year”. Eggleston’s images felt at first like snapshots, but as you looked – really looked – they began to speak. The woman’s bouffant, you noticed, was echoed in a loop of chain that encircled a parking meter. The tricycle was shot from below, so it loomed monstrously over low-slung houses. There was almost always something sinister, perhaps off-putting, that turned what at first appeared everyday into art. It helped that he has an almost supernatural eye for composition. “I only ever take one picture of one thing,” he told The Guardian in 2004. “Literally. Never two. So then that picture is taken and then the next one is waiting somewhere else.” For photographers, seeing Eggleston was like being suddenly unshackled. Theory could go hang; all that mattered was composition and emotion. You had to capture a sense of the world in a moment. Huger Foote felt that same revelation two decades later, when he was sent to photograph the now elder statesman for Vanity Fair. Though Memphis-born, like Eggleston, he was living and working in New York. On their first meeting, Eggleston proffered a tin of pipe tobacco samples, then put a tape by soul singer Mahalia Jackson on his reel-to-reel. “He turned the volume all the way up, until the room was shaking and he went and sat in a chair about 10 feet away,” says Foote. The pair sat and listened for an hour, smoking the tobacco in roll-up cigarettes, never saying a word. The music finished and Eggleston stood up and apologised for having an urgent appointment. Could Foote possibly come again the next day? He did and this time they talked, about their time growing up in the south and about photography. Foote perused the stacks of prints that littered Eggleston’s home – he has hinted that he has shot over a million pictures in his career – and realised that the images he wanted to take were not in New York, with models and hairstylists and racks of lights, but in his backyard. He just had to learn to look. He spent the next two days walking the streets of Memphis, hunting Eggleston’s magic. He never caught his return flight. Some of those images were published as My Friend from Memphis, in 2002. Foote became 42
Eggleston’s protégé and shot his mentor frequently – two of those images feature in his 2015 book, Now Here Then. The image on the previous page is also his, shot with a self-timer. “Just one frame, like Bill,” he laughs. The two have remained close ever since, linked by their heritage, their approach to photography, and a love of music that on many occasions transcends speech. The pair have spent many nights at Eggleston’s home on Walnut Grove, Memphis, sitting and drinking as the older man played the piano, until the sun came back up. In his apartment, where he
lives five storeys up – it feels as if he dwells among the birds whose song floats in through his window – Eggleston has rooms of synthesisers and audio equipment, on which he improvises endlessly. This year, those experiments will be released as Musik, through the Secretly Canadian label. It is an album as bewildering, unexpected and beautiful as anything Eggleston has done with a camera. As with his photography, Eggleston is economical with his words. He mulls questions, offers the syllables that answer them and no more. As befits his work’s ineffability, he resists its analysis. An image is either great, or it isn’t; it’s a waste of time to try and figure out why. So ahead of Musik’s release, Foote sat down with Eggleston, surrounded by his machines, to discuss everything else.
Egglesgton in his home on Walnut Grove in Memphis, Tennessee
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So Bill, it’s nice to see you. When I came in, I found you listening to Beethoven. Are you going to play me some of your new release?
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Adjusting a rack of audio equipment in his Memphis apartment
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that were music-related. Those nights out on Walnut Grove when you were playing the the piano for several hours at a time.
I’m trying to find it. [Music starts playing]. This is way into the middle of it. Let me start it over.
It’s very exciting that you’re going to release this material for the first time. Make it public.
Yeah. And there’s still a whole lot of it out there.
It’s all done on the Korg synthesiser. It’s not the piano.
It’s beautiful stuff.
This equipment was out at Walnut Grove?
It’s the best you can get. This is a spectrum analyser.
And as I came in the door I saw a whole lot of equipment out there. That wasn’t here last time I visited.
A spectrum analyser? Uh huh. And these are various function generators. Generates all kinds of signals.
That’s right [laughs].
What is all that stuff?
Is their primary use for the creation of music or are they things that process audio sound?
Mostly oscilloscopes and signal generators.
They can go into gamma rays, much past audio.
There are a lot of tube amps plugged into that Korg. Are they powering it?
Are you creating music in non-audio forms? Gamma ray recordings?
Some of them, yes. Actually the Korg has a memory. These were compiled from floppy discs.
These recordings? Uh huh.
I remember you mentioning that, in the background, you were always recording music. That’s quite true.
I ran into this – there’s a tendency, in the world of photography, for people to focus entirely on the work. But to understand an artist, it’s good to take a look at everything that they’re doing.
Yes, I remember. He spent several months playing the vinyl records and making reel-to-reel tapes that corresponded to them. Really it was an excuse to go back through the entire collection and listen to the music. It was a complete immersion in the music, which is something I’ve noticed in you. Let’s go in there and I’ll walk you through this equipment.
Out in deep space?
Do you hear that bird?
I don’t know enough about this.
No, is there one?
They’re billions of light years away from us. They’re the farthest things we can detect through radio waves. And no one knows how old they are.
I agree, yes.
You and my dad remind me of each other a lot. He collected all the classical music that he loved on vinyl originally. Then at one point decided to transfer the entire thing over to reel-to-reel. And spent several months – Some of those I borrowed. I’d listen to them.
No [laughs]. I’ll explain to you how the spectrum goes. At zero cycles, up to 20,000, we can hear. Then beyond that, you get into infrared, very high frequencies. Then into visible light, which is even higher frequency. Then beyond visible light is ultraviolet. And beyond ultraviolet are X-rays. Beyond X-rays, in between are microwaves, then at the end the highest frequencies really are gamma rays. I think the only places that really create gamma rays are quasars.
Yeah, I think he’s built a nest outside your window. There’s a bird chirping. Ha, could be.
I think he’s trying to encourage you to sing as you play.
So these spectrum analysers and these function generators, when you acquired these, what was your intention?
All of these are really measuring devices. So you can measure practically anything.
When this interview was proposed I sat and thought about all those times we spent together
Sure. And beyond light.
Whether it be sound or light. Sounds like we’re talking about physics here.
No other person could come up with a composition like Mozart. The same is true of your photographs.
We are. No question about that [laughs].
Do you read about quantum? I’m much involved with it. Quantum theory, yes.
That doesn’t surprise me at all. Because, I’ve always felt from the time I first read something J &
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Untitled. Courtesy of David Lusk Gallery, Memphis
about quantum, I remember thinking this has something to do with the way Bill takes pictures.
turned it up, only about a quarter of the way, but it still made everything in this room shake. Then we left, and we left it going for the entertainment of your neighbours.
How did you come to acquire those and what was your intention when you did? Were you just interested in the device and how it measured?
So how long have you been studying about quantum stuff?
[Laughs]. It filled every room in this building.
A long, long time. Fifteen or 20 years, maybe. It’s hard to say.
You probably brought a lot of smiles to a lot of people up and down this hall. Vibrations.
I was using these, the same units, up at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] to measure television signals. And I got familiar with this stuff so I bought the exact units when I got back.
That makes sense.
I’m looking beyond these devices and across the room at your recent publications – Chromes and The Democratic Forest, the big box sets – and those are resting on top of something it might be nice to let you describe. That’s a stereo speaker system. A passive, you have to have amplifiers to drive it.
It’s huge, about 10 feet long? At least. Maybe longer than that.
That’s right. Would you do a favour for me, would you bring my cigarettes in? And the lighter?
Yep. Here you go, American Spirits. These oscilloscopes remind me of something you see in 1950s sci-fi films. You’ve got waveforms on the screen? That’s what they display.
And everyone’s screaming and they say, “Doctor, the ship is in trouble. We’re nearing a black hole.”
You did a residency, an artistin-residence at MIT? Or was it a professorship? We were researching colour television. And we worked pretty hard at it, but – this is several years ago – portable colour television recording just didn’t exist back then. It’s commonplace now.
[Laughs]. That’s right.
It’s a beautiful, handcrafted wood thing. What would be the original place one would find something like that? It wouldn’t be in an apartment. No. It was designed for auditoriums. That’s what the convex piece does, it refracts the sound in every direction. So that thing will fill any large auditorium [laughs].
I recall one time you and I were going out for lunch together and you put some music on and 44
A digital recorder or something. So those oscilloscopes, they basically have screens, they measure a waveform then generate a visual? Displays it on the screen and it’s divided into graphic views. Divisions. You can measure per division, depending on where the basic scanning – units of time – run. From micro-micro-microseconds to seconds. So, I think these go from zero to a hundred megacycles, probably. A thousand million.
Had you already started working in video at that point? Like the footage from Stranded in Canton, you were already doing that? That was black and white.
I know, all of that was black and white. So you were at MIT creating
portable colour recordings? Yeah. The equipment that existed back then was meant for television studios, it was too heavy to carry around. And the reason Stranded was in black and white was because that was the only portable system at that time out.
With your work, I got to know it here in Memphis. And you being a fellow Memphian, it’s always felt like something so familiar. And now I see it out in the world in places like London, your recent big exhibition in New York, and I wonder how the world perceives it. Because they didn’t know those people. What must that world of Stranded, for example –
Look. Very intently. And you’ll hopefully see what’s really there – wonder.
But it’s a special pleasure to be able to see it and be familiar with the subject matter.
the green tie, and that’s how I remembered it was that day, that picture in my book of you coming out of a field along Highway 61. And the reason I say it was music-related is that my dad had a box set with three cassettes in it of Muddy Waters. And I started changing the music at one point because we’d heard about 30 Muddy Waters songs in a row and you said, “No no. Leave that Muddy on.” And you liked Muddy Waters.
We have a unique position there [laughs].
Growing up in Mississippi, did you see a lot of blues players?
It’s very popular.
I know [laughs]. All over the world.
It’s the finest piano in the world, isn’t it? It probably is.
Which brings me to another piano, which isn’t here today, that giant Steinway concert grand. And that thing was – that was one of the first pianos I ever heard you play. It was a Steinway, wasn’t it? I had a Steinway also. That was a – I think it was a Baldwin. Nine feet.
And you said if the bombs ever start falling, that would be a good place to get. It’s the sturdiest piece of furniture in the area. [Laughs]. That’s the truth.
Most of these other people don’t know any of those people. Quite a few of them are dead.
Another day, and this is just me telling stories, but another music-related memory I have is driving with you. We started in Memphis and we were in my dad’s convertible, a little white BMW that he had at the time. It was Father’s Day, and the three of us got in that convertible and drove down to Sumner to pick up [Eggleston’s daughter] Andra and drive her back to Memphis. And I found that old photograph of you wearing With a hunting shotgun, originally for Vanity Fair
So all these things are all connected – oscilloscopes, spectrometers, function generators.
I know that beautiful death portrait you did, in the coffin.
[Picks up another device]. This is called a band pass filter.
That was Fred McDowell.
Mississippi Fred McDowell, that’s right. He was so amazing.
And you also were always interested in audio equipment. Oh, sure.
He was a very fine musician.
Speakers, amps. So back to these devices and the research. You were at MIT researching how to record – We were researching possible portable colour video. And everything we learned – all the equipment was so heavy, it was not portable. We’re speaking of colour television.
I’m trying to figure out how all this fits together. And maybe it’s not necessary to ask, but are you measuring things? Are you creating sounds? Is it just curiosity about the particles of the universe, what’s holding them all together? [Laughs]. It’s sensible to look at it that way.
And I’m just trying to connect all the pieces with the devices in the room. In the other room is a piano that you had made, custom built?
And beautiful, well-crafted objects, like a Bösendorfer or like the other things that I’ve seen you collect and I’ve seen drawers full of, which are Leicas and firearms.
Ordered. It’s a Bösendorfer, made in Vienna. It takes – they age – the soundboard is spruce wood and they age it, just naturally. Like in here, 70-something degrees. Most other piano makers age the wood artificially with heat. Bösendorfer does not. It takes them five years for the wood to age.
And that’s just to age the wood before they begin construction?
That was a Joseph Lang, of London. I think I know the one you mean.
That’s right. Just the soundboard is spruce. The rest of it is different woods.
It was perfectly weighted.
I remember one time over at Walnut Grove, when I took that portrait of you for Vanity Fair holding a beautiful old English hunting shotgun. We were just sitting there and you said, “Reach under that couch.” And I reached underneath it and out came this beautiful leather case with a beautiful shotgun worthy of the Smithsonian Institution.
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there. One of them, I had a lot of them.
Improvising is a very complicated thing. It’s just not easy to do. Hardly anyone can really pull it off. And I was examining that and you said, “Go over to that chest of drawers and open the middle drawer.” And it was literally full of pistols. [Laughs]. That’s right.
And there were something like 27, all beautiful, nothing modern and nickel-plated or whatever. All beautiful things like fine watches or something. Each had its own character. You had a beautiful British gun that was hinged at the trigger. A pistol?
A British, second world war pistol. And Rugers and German guns. All in one drawer. And then, the most surprising thing of all, was the Gatling gun that was positioned just inside the front door, aimed at the door. [Laughs]. That was the only place I could figure out to put it.
Do you still have it? Yeah.
You also had a big, beautiful box of ammunition to go with it. It was the real thing, it would fire. It was one of two, handmade. One for the Smithsonian and I got the other one. They just didn’t make a whole lot of them. I say “they”, I think one man made the whole thing. I don’t know how long it took him to do it, but years I would think.
Any time you travelled I remember you’d get a suite at a hotel in New York and then you’d have a pretty sizeable amount of audio equipment with you, and a Korg. You’d have the full set up, the same one you’d have at home in Memphis. Quite true.
But that famous quote of yours, about photographing democratically: when it comes to these recordings, are you composing democratically? You’re not excluding anything from the realm of possibility? You made a CD for me when you were recording back in the ’90s. It would go from everything from a beautiful rendition of Dixie all the way over to you know, kettle drums thundering. You were just saying they’re improvisations. You were freely exploring? Even that early [synthesiser] that’s in the other room will make several billion different sounds. Including kettle drums, of course. Everything one can imagine really. Even thunder and lightning.
So how do you feel about sending it out into the world as a published body of work? I’m delighted that the original digital recordings exist. So many of those are lost or have been given away and are no longer in the memory of the machine.
I feel especially lucky to have been present for so many of your improvisational sessions. Many of which weren’t recorded but were magnificent. Improvising is a very complicated thing. Improvisation – let me see how to put it – it’s just really not easy to do. Hardly anyone can do it, really.
In a Gothenburg hotel on a trip to receive the Hasselblad Award
Successfully, you mean? Right. Because when I say it’s complex, what I’m meaning is that to do it successfully, let’s say, hardly anyone can really pull it off. Because you do it and it’s just – I mean one can’t make a mistake, that’s why so few people can really do it successfully. No mistakes and a continuum of music comes out. And it’s – when I say complex – I’m meaning it’s not something one can go back and correct. If one has that discipline. So that constitutes my trying to define what I mean when I say complex.
I remember the last time we were here, we were writing out a list about what the basic essentials are for successful art, a successful photograph. I remember what you mean.
Trying to lay down what the components are that create something. I’ve never written down a list, it’s fairly long, but at the top of the list would be composition. And something so complicated can’t be taught. Next probably would come design/geometry. After that would come content – speaking of photographs.
Right, right. To produce a photograph that is also a work of fine art, all of these elements have to exist in the final picture. Any one that’s absent and the picture just doesn’t really work. The same thing is absolutely true of painting and fine art. Which brings us back to not being terribly different from creating music.
I was thinking that too. Just to fabricate the parts. It was perfectly constructed too. So that was quite a thing to walk in and see that in the middle of the living room floor. I was thinking of something, just to get back to this forthcoming release of your recorded music. Many of the people who hear it will already be familiar with your photography, some with your drawings and art. But I think it’s going to take them by surprise, they’re going to want to figure it out and probably be expecting something classical.
As you say, it’s very difficult to make it work. All those things have to be present for it to really function as a work of fine art.
Over what period of time were they made? Over many years? Was it when you got the Korg?
The creative process, one of the things that makes it so exhilarating is if you’re engaged with it, you’re dancing with something that’s just out of reach, almost. You can’t methodically place those elements there. They are things that occur.
One of the first Korgs is in the piano room over
That is right. That’s true.
They’re improvisations. And that’s what’s being released right now.
That’s correct. To have that attitude.
It’s not a series of steps, or A through C to arrive there. It’s something beyond logic, like the lyrical beauty of Lincoln’s speeches, the “Lincoln music” as it’s been called, or the mystery of Mozart. In Mozart there are so many levels, and beneath them there’s what one writer called a “demoniacal clang”, something beneath the surface. Things really began in western music with J.S. Bach. And after Bach – well, there was Frideric Handel, who was German, but he lived in England – and then after them the most important person who came along was Wolfgang Mozart.
We all know how difficult it is to make that happen. No human can but him. Absolutely true.
Untitled. Courtesy of David Lusk Gallery, Memphis
It’s a digital tape recorder, for audio. Made by Nagra and what it’s sitting on, that beautiful desk, was in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
You do like to surround yourself with beauty. One could say they just don’t grow on trees.
No other person, even if they dedicated their life to it, could come up with a composition like Mozart. And the same is true of your photographs. I think they can be imitated, but you can never achieve what occurs in your images. It’s beyond – Both things – what I do – are things that can’t be taught. That pretty much sums it up. Then after Mozart, of course, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin. Not to forget Stravinsky.
A lot of artists, their work is intertwined with certain types of music. The one that pops to mind is Pollock, listening to all that Charlie Parker. Have you found that music and your visual art are deeply intertwined in that way? I don’t see why not. I had a conversation the other day with a gentleman and we got around to talking about music and we both agreed, I’m not a bit convinced that jazz really is music.
I know that it’s an idiom that you don’t prefer, to put it lightly for you. I don’t have anything to do with it. I don’t mind repeating that, I’m not at all sure that jazz is music. Jazz is jazz, a different animal. Quite obviously I’m not interested in it.
Over here, there’s two things that I want to ask you about. On top of this chest, there’s an incredible piece of Nasa-looking equipment. What is that?
There’s more to the story of this chest, because it was originally cast in silver? That’s an exact replica. The entire Hall of Mirrors was originally full of pieces like that, made of solid silver. Back in the early 1600s, there was a war going on in Austria and waging war is an expensive thing. So Louis XIV summoned his people who kept the coffers, the money, and they said well the coffers are not full enough to continue this war. So he had to take all the furniture and melt down the silver. At the same time he had his draughstmen make exact duplicates of the pieces that were originally in solid silver. And that’s one of them.
That’s a great compliment. Thanks.
People are going to be surprised when they hear your music for the first time. Is there any guide you might offer? No. I would only say one thing – please listen. That’s it. I could say a similar thing about looking at my photographs. Look. Very intently. And you’ll hopefully see what’s really there – wonder.
The first book I owned was your The Democratic Forest. I lived with it open on my table and initially it was for my enjoyment, but over time as I’ve begun to make photographs and revisit the book it was not only for my enjoyment but also my instruction. I understand that.
Since we’re sitting in Memphis together, let’s talk about Memphis. You live here and the first time I met you, I was just back temporarily and I was going to go back to New York and start being a commercial photographer again. Being around your work and all the sort of things that are in this apartment woke me up to a completely different way of what photography could be. What was the purpose of creating photographs if not to do something really great? So I started wandering around the city taking pictures, inspired by you and the stacks of prints that were lying around your house and the music you were playing. I never went back to New York, stayed in Memphis and eventually went on to publish books and have exhibitions.
Once you really see what’s there, you never see the world the same way again. The world looks different. You can see the patterns. The proportions. If you say so [laughs]. William Eggleston’s debut album Musik is out on 4 August egglestontrust.com Huger Foote’s book Here Now Then is out now dashwoodbooks.com davidluskgallery.com
Wyatt Rabun Mattock Photographs Mark Mattock Styling William Gilchrist
Shirt by Bally; sweater by Markus Lupfer.
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Shirt by Etro; trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna; vest by Cos; bracelet by Jacqueline Rabun; watch by Rolex.
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Words Chris Stokel-Walker
Who Wants to Live Forever? Though human life expectancy is soaring, it is still resolutely finite. But if cryogenic freezing, DNA tampering or uploading our minds into the cloud could keep us going indefinitely, would we even want to?
Bigfoot Dewar canisters at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona. These custom-designed canisters contain liquid nitrogen, chilled to minus 196ยบ celsius. Each can hold up to four bodies, or 10 brains, in a state of preservation, with the hope that one day the patients can be revived. Photograph courtesy of Alcor Life Extension Foundation
lorida bookends the great American lifespan. Children flock to the Sunshine State in search of happy ever afters. When they’re older and sicker, many return to see out their days in the sun. One in every four Floridians is aged 60 or older. That proportion is expected to reach one in three by 2030, echoing a global trend that has seen over-65s rise from five per cent of the global population in 1960 to more than eight per cent today. This comes even as the global birth rate has plummeted, halving in the same period. The inexorable growth of the global population – which could rise to 9.6bn by 2050 – is driven not by too many new children, but by a paucity of deaths. If he avoids falling trees and tropical diseases, a boy born today in the United Kingdom should get to 2096 before he drops dead. A girl would be likely to see in the new century before her death. Their children should enjoy an even longer dotage: life expectancy has been increasing “around two and a half years per decade since about 1850”, says Linda Partridge, director of the Institute of Healthy Ageing at University College London, an organisation that explores the biological changes that occur in our bodies as we age and how they can be alleviated. “Although it varies a lot between countries,” she says. Gerontologists’ eyes are trained on South Korea. It currently ranks 11th for life expectancy, but outstrips every other nation in the pace at which that number is increasing. In 1960, its population died 16 years earlier than the average among developed nations; by 2005 it had reached par, an average increase of more than six months per year. This newfound longevity comes courtesy of prodigious improvements to South Korea’s healthcare and wealth, both of which are also more evenly distributed than most western nations (Japan, currently at the top of the table, is the world’s most egalitarian economy). That trend will soon put South Korea above its neighbour. According to forecasts by British researchers, published in The Lancet earlier this year, a South Korean woman born in 2030 will likely live until at least 2120. That’s a significant moment, not only because it is a very long time, but also because as recently as the millennium, the scientific community was sceptical whether average life expectancy could ever creep above 90. Now they’re wondering just how far it could go. “I don’t believe we’re anywhere near the upper limit,” says Majid Ezzati, professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London and the author of The Lancet study. He even questions if there is a limit.
s a 10-year-old, Neal VanDeRee would wander the beaches of northwest Florida, talking to the old men who sunned themselves as they wound down their retirement. “They’ve got a lot to teach and they’re usually willing, when they’re super old, to share their wisdom and experience,” the 56 year old explains over a crackling phone line from Hollywood, Florida. Like the elderly portrayed in that other Hollywood, they recounted their lives and what they
wish they’d known at his age. But mostly, they talked about how they wanted just a little longer in the sun. “I don’t know any of my old friends who wanted to die,” VanDeRee says. “Every one of them told me they wished they could have a little more time or wished they’d taken better care of themselves. All of them wanted to see their children and grandchildren grow older and see what was going to happen in the next year, the next month, the next day. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened.” For most of humanity’s existence, our lives were short and brutal. But in the past few hundred years, the way we live has changed. “The increase in life expectancy has to be regarded as a manifestation of civilisation,” says Partridge. “We’ve improved our living conditions and mainly dealt with public health issues, clean water and sanitation issues.” Once we died of misfortune. Now we die of time. For the first few years of our lives, we grow, develop and adapt to our surroundings. Our brains form connections that help us understand the world; our bodies, bones and muscles develop; and we mature into adults. Natural selection only cares about keeping us alive until we can reproduce and pass on our genes. Then, the ageing process kicks in: our DNA misfires then eventually stops dividing; we lose hair, hearing and sight; our muscles and bones, which were at full strength in our thirties, begin to winnow away. The longer we live, the more we discover quite how ill-designed the human body is for longevity. “The increase in life expectancy has unmasked these difficult age-related diseases,” says Partridge, “particularly in neurodegeneration, but also cancer and cardiovascular disease.” Nearly half of all those aged 65 or older have at least one long-term health condition (compared with one in five of those aged 18 to 24), and one in 10 have three or more serious, long-lasting issues affecting their wellbeing. Every extra candle on your cake brings increased odds you’ll develop something debilitating. “Natural selection has never seen bodies this old and has had no chance to try and make them work,” explains Partridge. Processes that tick over in youth jam up when they’re applied to ageing cells. Cellular changes that help us recuperate after exercise
when we’re young, or repair our muscles and tissue after having a baby, become much more worrisome when those same changes happen to old cells that have accumulated decades of damage. The mutations multiply and we contract serious diseases like dementia or cancer. So who’d want to live forever?
ith its pink walls, white columned entrance and optimistic moniker, the Church of Perpetual Life could pass as one of the many Christian churches that litter south Florida. Religion has always offered a path to immortality, but the dogma taught here is rather more immediate. Technology is god, eternal life on earth the goal. The church claims a following of a few thousand people. As well as operating satellite outposts in San Francisco, Chicago and Denver, it livestreams services to its congregation from this chapel, which nestles among the kind of one-bedroom bungalows Americans flock to in their latter years. VanDeRee is its officiator, one of the many terms and ideas the church has borrowed from traditional religion. On Christmas Eve, it holds a service called ‘Remembrance of the Resurrectables’, in which parishioners light candles for the cryogenically frozen, who await thawing in some (hopefully) not-too-distant future in which death has finally been overcome. “We call ourselves immortalists because we have faith in human technology,” says VanDeRee. “The church is a place where people of like minds, people who want unlimited lifespans, can meet and discuss all the things that are coming in the future.” Despite his evangelist message, not everyone is convinced. “My own family members, some want to die and be buried in a pine box to be part of the ecosystem. Others want to go to heaven. Some have other ideas of what will be in store for them. But all the people I love and know, I hope they wake up and realise they don’t have to die. Death is optional. If they open their eyes to the possibilities, they’ll be aware of what is available to them here, now, in this time.” VanDeRee’s desire to beat death was planted when he spoke to those on the cusp of experiencing it, but didn’t bloom until the scythe swung closer to home. “I was young and in a state of paradise,” he says. “I had the perfect life, the perfect wife, the perfect job. I wanted that to go on and didn’t want it to end.” But then he contracted a rare illness and was told he didn’t have long to live. He opted for experimental treatment and the illness abated. He then began to look at life in new ways. “I decided if there’s some way to avoid death, ultimately, I want to do that,” he says. VanDeRee exchanged letters with sci-fi author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, who directed him towards the world of cryonic preservation; as soon as possible after death the body is injected with antifreeze, to prevent ice crystals forming within cells, then plunged into a tank of liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold theoretically puts the body into suspended animation, until such time as science can kickstart a frozen corpse back into life.
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All the people I love and know, I hope they wake up and realise they don’t have to die. Death is optional. If they open their eyes to the possibilities, they will be aware of what is available to them here, now, in this time.
“It’s really a stop gap, a plan B,” says VanDeRee. “It doesn’t do what I want it to do, which is not die, but it gives me a chance of getting into the future.” One in which death has become optional. The same ideals (and a similar health scare) motivate José Cordeiro, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies in Tokyo. Now 55, Cordeiro was 20 when he contracted cerebral malaria. “I lost my spleen and a lot of blood and fell into a coma for three days,” he says. “After that I began to get more interested in how short and delicate our lives are.” Today’s immortalists are not the first to try and beat death. Chinese alchemists were searching for an elixir of immortality by the seventh century, and it remained an obsession until the rise of scientific methodology a millennium later. “During the last five or 10 years, incredible things have happened,” says Cordeiro. “Every couple of years we’re improving nanotechnology, biotechnology, infotechnology and cognotechnology. These four technologies are converging in the next two decades and will allow us to reach immortality of hardware and software.” Cordeiro is hopeful that as science figures out ways to slow biological ageing, Silicon Valley will build artificial intelligence systems that can supplement ailing brains, and engineers will craft robotics to replace failing bodies. None of which will happen overnight, and incremental improvements to life expectancy aren’t good enough for the
immortalists. “The number one puzzle to solve is finding a cure for the disease of ageing,” says VanDeRee. “Then we have the opportunity to solve many of the other questions that will come about.”
inding that solution will prove difficult, though. VanDeRee and Cordeiro both take simple steps to try and prolong their lives while scientists strive to find the solution to the inevitable. They eat sensibly and take a variety of supplements and vitamins that are meant to ward off common colds and illnesses. The Church of Perpetual Life’s co-founder, Bill Faloon, eats just 1,200 calories a day – some scientific research has shown that calorie-limited diets allow people to live longer – while gulping down handfuls of supplements, vitamins and prescription pills for illnesses he doesn’t have, such as diabetes, because there’s some evidence it could prolong lifespans. But again, this is just a sticking plaster. “You can eat all the vitamins and supplements you can get your hands on and it still may only buy you 20 or 25 years,” says VanDeRee. “We’re talking about hundreds or thousands of years. There has to be something else.” Cordeiro is a subscriber to American futurist Ray Kurzweil’s belief in the ‘three bridges’, first outlined in his 2004 book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, which promise a path to eternal life. Humanity is currently at the first bridge – living a healthy and clean life. The second bridge, which Cordeiro believes will arrive in the next decade, is biotechnology. Innovations to extend the human lifespan are being tested by traditional means in laboratories and at home by enterprising biohackers. At the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, director María Blasco has tripled a mouse’s lifespan by adapting its telomeres – DNA sequences that shorten every time a cell divides, and the eventual disappearance of which, some scientists theorise, could cause cells to die. The same principle has been carried out under more personal conditions
by Elizabeth Parrish, the CEO of gene therapy company BioViva. She has supposedly managed not only to stymie the shortening of her telomeres, but by injecting herself with viruses adapted with special enzymes, actually extend them. In essence, she claims, she’s managed to reverse ageing. VanDeRee is a proponent of a separate method of extending life: parabiosis. “The belief is that if you take an old mouse, say five years old, and a new mouse that’s one year old, and you tie them together where you have the blood from the new mouse replacing the blood of the old mouse, the biologically older mouse becomes younger,” he says. After mouse trials yielded positive results, the first human experiment kicked off last year. The immortalist community is watching closely. “This old man keeps calling me and saying, ‘I want to do this study; I’m looking for a young volunteer,’” says VanDeRee. Should the second bridge become a reality, Kurzweil believes that humanity will reach a third bridge; uploading our minds into the cloud and augmenting our bodies with robotics. It could be something as small as a bionic limb or joint to replace our dilapidated bones; it could be as drastic, some theorise, as brains plugged into robot bodies. Cordeiro is excited about that, but isn’t willing – yet – to self-experiment. “I’m still waiting for more advanced techniques to become available in the marketplace, and I’m pretty sure they will be available in five to 10 years,” he says. “In the next 20 years we are going to see more discoveries than in the last 2,000 years because of these exponential changes.” But the questions remains whether, even as we live longer, we’ll be able to live well. “You need to start thinking about how long you’re going to live when you’re young, both from the health and the economic view,” says Partridge. “Young people have simply no idea how long they’re going to live. The young generation now, unless something goes horribly wrong, are going to routinely survive into their nineties. They need J &
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It would be horrible in terms of creativity. If you knew you were going to live forever, what’s the reason for changing anything immediately?
to think about how they’re going to be skipping around when they’re in their nineties and how they’re going to have sufficient income to keep skipping.”
n 1947, when death was in particularly sharp focus, Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges published the short story ‘The Immortal’. It depicts a Roman soldier who accidentally drinks from a stream that bestows eternal life, but then discovers that without death to sharpen it, life has no meaning. “I think that most people want to have a great wonderful, carefree, problem-free life,” says Stan Goldberg, professor emeritus at San Francisco State University. He has lived with cancer for 15 years and has counselled those near death, and written about mortality, for a decade. “Thinking about living forever falls into that category, but I think if people just reflect on those times in their life where they had the most significant growth experience or when they came up with an insight, one of those eureka moments where you say, ‘That’s what it’s all about,’ I doubt it ever occurred when everything was blissful.” So much of our culture, our philosophy, is based on the finite lifespan that its disappearance would demolish our ideas of what it means to be human. The challenge of living forever is more than simply bending human biology to our will: it’s also about shaping and preparing our minds for the consequences. “It’d be horrible in terms of creativity,” says Goldberg. “If you knew you were going to live forever, what’s the reason for changing anything immediately? Postponement of dealing with your current life because we take a pill for eternal life is a bad thing. It prevents us from growing.” VanDeRee remains bullish. Though he is hopeful that the necessary breakthroughs will arrive in the next 15 or 20 years, he is also aware that he may
pass beyond the average human lifespan before he’s given the chance to allay the ageing process. Hence the plan B. Many immortalists cling to cryonics, the notion that we can freeze ourselves now, then be defrosted at a date in the future when science has solved these problems. If they’ve considered it as a serious option, the chances are they’ve spoken to Rudi Hoffman, a financial planner based in Port Orange, Florida. He is also a member of the World Transhumanist Association and, he proudly claims, the world’s leading cryonics insurer. “I have something like 80 per cent of the world market share of fully signed-up cryonicists,” he says. Admittedly, Hoffman estimates that there are only around 1,600 people who have fully funded their preservation for a lifetime (the cost of a full-body preservation at Alcor, one of two major cryonics sites in the United States, is around $220,000, plus $520-a-year membership that ensures your tank remains in place), but it’s a dominant position to be in. One of the 1,600 people is Hoffman himself, who came to the idea of cryonics in 1994 after reading a magazine article. “I had been a science fiction reader for many decades and all of a sudden I found out that there is not one but two organisations that had been quietly cryopreserving people for literally decades,” Hoffman recalls. “Not only was it a real science, but it was affordable through life insurance.” Which, happily enough, was his day job. Hoffman mulled the idea for six months, then sold himself a policy. “My motivation is similar to anybody who tries to figure out how to enjoy life,” he says. “It just seems a huge tragedy that at the time we’ve been around the world long enough to develop something we call wisdom, all of a sudden we get sick and we die. And that’s a pretty unfortunate reality, the nature of the human condition now. But it may not be forever.”
Like VanDeRee, Hoffman has also had personal experience of serious illness and fear of premature death. Now 60, he contracted what he calls “a spot of cancer” last year. He overcame the illness and with his all-clear came the idea that he wanted to live forever. He’s fully focused on cryonics, which he calls “a bridge” until science arrives at an anti-ageing cure. Linda Partridge isn’t sure when – or if – that will happen. “You can never say never, but I think at the moment it’s science fiction,” she says. “We’re nowhere near close to getting something like that to work, or even having an understanding in principle of how you would get something like that to work. But if in 100 years time, or sooner, there’s some sort of breakthrough that lets people preserve bits to keep going, or possibly to be put to sleep and wake up later, there are always people who will pay for it.” “At one point I was motivated by a fear of death,” VanDeRee says. “But I’m not motivated by that now. Now I have absolute faith I will have the opportunity for an unlimited lifespan. I want to see the future; to me it’s a very bright, very cool place. If you look back to 500 years ago, you had plagues ravaging Europe and death and destruction and war. That was then and now we have a better lifestyle. I look forward to seeing what may possibly be on the horizon for humanity and myself.” His odds of experiencing it are unclear. Though Hoffman will continue selling cryonics life insurance policies, to date no one has worked out a way to put humans into deep freeze and then defrost them safely. The link between telomeres and ageing is still unconfirmed. And parabiosis, which has so far been effective only in lab animals, may work only for certain diseases associated with ageing, such as Alzheimer’s. But VanDeRee will keep attending the monthly meetings of the Church of Perpetual Life. He will continue to study the literature and note down the developments from labs around the world. He remains determined not to become one of the old men he spent his childhood talking to on the beach, determined to keep his sun above the horizon. alcor.org churchofperpetuallife.org
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Words Tom Banham Photographs Janette Beckman Styling Laura Mazza Grooming Bee Wiseman Hair Styling Nigella Millar Photographic Assistant Matt Weiss Styling Assistant Cathleen Peters
Once hailed as the spiritual successor to Nas, Joey Bada$$ is sick of standing in someone elseâ€™s shadow. On his new album, the saviour of New York hip-hop shrugs off his crown and mans the barricades.
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t took 30 seconds for Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, better known as the rapper Joey Bada$$, to realise racism had not been consigned to history. Until he was 12, he assumed that his country had long since found a solution to what seemed a very simple problem. He was a black boy who lived in a black neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York, and attended a predominantly black school. Then one summer afternoon, while he was playing football with friends outside his grandmother’s house in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, an unmarked police car pulled onto the pavement and two white men stepped out and shoved his face into a wall. For black men raised in America’s inner cities, there is a coming of age that too often precedes first drinks and lost virginities; the realisation that the police are present not to protect and serve, but to protect against. Parents give two versions of ‘the talk’: before safe sex, they teach how to keep a stop-and-frisk from escalating into another candlelit vigil, another grand jury acquittal, another tearful parent lamenting police violence on CNN.
black women. This violence became a catalyst. For his follow-up album, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, Scott dragged his sound out of the ’90s and switched his focus from teenage time-killing to America’s propensity for killing its black teenagers. “Leave us dead in the street, then be your organ donors,” he raps on the single ‘Land of the Free’, released on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration and Scott’s 22nd birthday. “They disorganised my people, made us all loners / Still got the last names of our slave owners.” Just as he rejected being labelled a boom-bap revivalist, Scott bristles at the idea that he’s a political rapper. “That’s another box that people put me in to try and marginalise my music,” he says. His lyrics, he points out, have always celebrated “positive messages”. It just took until now for his viewpoint to expand. As an American-born child of West
I learnt about racism in school but I didn’t see any slaves. I had to learn as I got older that slavery is mental now. It’s not physical any more. It’s not something you can see. It’s deeper than that. Scott was stopped because being black and up the street from some corner drug dealers counted as probable cause. “It opened my eyes,” he says. “Before that, I felt like [racism] was almost gone, it was disappearing. I learnt about it in school but I didn’t see any slaves. I had to learn as I got older that slavery is mental now. It’s not physical any more. It’s not something you can see. It’s deeper than that.” Though Scott has addressed the issues tangentially, until now his focus has been more domestic. He was a hip-hop prodigy, racking up millions of YouTube views before he’d left school with his intricately rhymed tales of smoking weed and growing up. The blog scene was fascinated by this teenager channelling Tupac and Biggie, who idolised an era that burnt out before he was born. Some critics hailed him as the MC to save hip-hop from gangsters and guns; others wrote him off as a high-class soundalike. He found both views limiting. “I felt I had to break that box, to show people that this is not all I can do,” he says. In the two years since his debut album, B4.Da.$$, American police officers have killed 107 unarmed black men and seven unarmed
Indian immigrants – his mother is from Saint Lucia, his father Jamaica – his early years were soundtracked by Caribbean soca and reggae, and American hip-hop. Lyricism was everything. “I was introduced to poetry in kindergarten, and I immediately saw the connection between that and the music that I was so drawn to,” he says. He absorbed Maya Angelou alongside Dr Seuss and would submit a poem for every assignment he could. “Teachers were always impressed, because my poems had a rap kind of structure,” he says. “I was mirroring the people on TV who inspired me.” Poetry slams ignited a passion for performance and he auditioned for an acting place at New York performing arts school LaGuardia, the alma mater of Al Pacino and Wesley Snipes. Though he failed to win a place, he got into his second choice, Edward R. Murrow High
School, which also emphasised music and drama. A video interview with Scott at 17 follows him through its halls and he pauses in front of the school’s wall of fame. “I hope to be on [it] one day,” he mumbles, gesturing to the names of Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. That board is now significantly busier. Scott features alongside a clutch of other rappers and producers, the Pro Era crew, who congregated every free period in the cafeteria or in a park behind the school to cypher. “There were a lot of rappers in that school,” says singer Elijah Hosein, who was an early member and whose parents’ basement served as their makeshift recording studio. “But nobody sounded like them at that time. They stood out because of their drive and their sound and what they were trying to portray at that moment.” Pro Era was founded by Jamal Dewar, a student two years older than Scott, who rapped under the name Capital Steez. Before they met, the pair discovered each other on YouTube, where they each posted videos of their freestyles. “He was huge on YouTube, pretty much famous,” says Scott. Both eschewed the synth-backed club rap that filled the airwaves, favouring lyrical dexterity and jazz-sampling beats. One day when Scott was coming into school, Dewar approached and complimented him on his flow. The pair soon became inseparable. “I was raised as a leader,” says Scott, “but when I met him, it was the first time that I thought I could follow this person and he won’t lead me on a bad path.” Dewal was an atypical MC; a wordsmith in the vein of De La Soul but whose subject matter ranged from black empowerment to weed to astral projection. He was fascinated by spirituality and instructed Pro Era in the ways of the ‘third eye’, through which he believed they would learn to see the world as it existed beyond their consciousness. “When Steez introduced us to enlightenment, chakras, it opened our eyes,” says Scott. “We always had that type of spiritual connection but we didn’t have words for it. So when this man gave us words and vision and sight to see what it truly was, that’s what brought us together.” It also took Pro Era’s music in a more esoteric direction. Though rooted in hip-hop’s golden age, Scott and Dewar traded bars about Arthurian legends and quantum physics. The crew would pile into Hosein’s basement after school, where producers Kirk Knight or Powers Pleasant would fire up their latest beat and a rotating cast of MCs – Pro Era also includes rappers C.J. Fly, Chuck Strangers and Nyck Caution – passed round the mic. “It was like 20 people in my basement,” says Hosein. “They’d just freestyle the first time to get the vibe of the beat, then after that they’d go into the booth and just record.” This collegiate approach prioritised wit and inventiveness. “We were challenging each other every day,” Scott says. “It was a friendly competition. Every day you would have to come back with some new bars and every day you
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I want to tell you what I know. If I’ve got something that can make you better, I want to give it to you . .
wanted to have the best verse.” Scott submitted his freestyles to influential blog Worldstar Hip Hop, but was ignored. In 2010, after the 80th rejection, he renamed one on his own channel ‘15 year old freestyles for Worldstar Hip Hop!’. The trick drove thousands of views, including the editors at Worldstar. When they posted the video to their homepage, it caught the eye of Cinematic Music Group boss Jonny Shipes. “As soon as I saw [Scott] spit the first bars out of his mouth,” Shipes says, “his confidence and swagger – alongside his flow at such a young age – convinced me he was the complete package.” He tried to convince Scott to sign to his label as a solo artist, but Scott refused to ink any deal that didn’t include Pro Era in its entirety. Most of the crew were now juggling school with gigs and recording sessions, but Dewal had graduated
and grew even more focused on both his music and its message. In 2012, while prepping his first solo mixtape, AmeriKKKan Korruption, he spent time with Occupy Wall Street and his beliefs began to morph into something more pugnacious, a reaction in part to enduring many stop-and-frisks. In February, Cinematic released the video to ‘Survival Tactics’, the first single from 1999 and meant as a launchpad for AmeriKKKan Korruption. It was typical Pro Era: a sample lifted from ’90s underground rappers Styles of Beyond, over which Scott self-aggrandised and Dewal warned about an impending apocalypse. The track went viral – at the time of writing, it had almost 14m views. It arrived at a boom time for lyrical, conscious rap. For every Rick Ross, there was a Kendrick Lamar, a Vince Staples, a Chance the Rapper; MCs who picked apart inequality in complex rhyme. But unlike those peers, Scott and Dewar seemed unable to escape their influences. For many critics, teenagers who offered a note perfect Nas facsimile were remarkable in the same way a talking dog is; not because of what they were saying, but that they were saying it at all.
Ten months later, seconds before midnight on 23 December, Dewar tweeted the words “The End”, and stepped off the roof of Cinematic’s office in Manhattan. His death punched a hole through the heart of Pro Era. “That was our older brother,” says Hosein. “He influenced us in so many ways that when it happened, we didn’t know how to take it.” Scott was hit particularly hard. His music shifted away from freewheeling lyricism towards something more introspective. He also grew more determined to achieve the things he and Dewar used to rap about. “It made him go harder and it made him stronger,” says Hosein. “That had been [Dewar’s] dream, for him to become successful. Someone he had loved had wanted it for him and he wanted it for himself. So he was going to make it happen.” It wasn’t the first time Scott had found energy in adversity. His parents divorced when he was five and, when his mother lost her job during the recession and was forced to work double shifts to support the family, Scott was left to fend for himself. “I used to get scared, but I found comfort in music,” he says. “I found that I needed that
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alone time to express myself. I started flipping that fear and it became something I loved. I loved being alone, because I could yell into my microphone, I could do whatever I want and be whoever I want.” This self-fashioning is one reason why he’s so stung by accusations that he’s a boom-bap revivalist. It was just that, unlike most rappers, he matured under the glare of an audience. “The first art that I shared with people is what defined me,” he says. But his recent shift in sound was always planned. “It was more about showing people, like yo, there’s way more depth to this. It’s so much more versatile. I just don’t like to be limited when it comes to music and creativity in general.” To which All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ is testament. Though he called on the same Pro Era producers, they provided beats that feel as current as Scott’s broadsides against Trump’s election. The album is a fiery meditation on the black experience of America. “Knowing the history of my kind in America I feel, not culturally lost, but I feel like I’m disconnected from my original heritage,” he says. As a second-generation immigrant he is at once insider and outsider. That position, coupled with his growing profile, means he feels a responsibility to speak out. “I want to tell you what I know,” he says. “If I’ve got something that can make you better, I want to give it to you.” He wrote the album’s first track, ‘Babylon’, after Freddie Gray was killed by Baltimore police in April 2015. Scott called on Jamaican reggae artist Chronixx, who provides a hook that punctures America’s self image as the land of the free, as Scott builds to a scream against mass incarceration and a government that has spent three centuries profiting from black bodies. “R.I.P. to Eric Garner, only right I show respect / Nowadays they hangin’ us by a different tree / Branches of the government, I can name all three / Judicial, legislative and executive / Lock your pops away, your moms, then next the kids.” Scott retains the same consciousness that informed his on-the-mic sparring with Dewar in their Brooklyn basement. But he has realised that, though the spiritual quest remains, there may be no black men left to achieve enlightenment unless these more immediate issues are addressed. “As Joey grows up and sees more of the things going on in the world, he wants to use his voice and influence to speak on these topics,” says Shipes. “I think he grew through the process [of recording the album] tremendously.” But he remains restless. He has returned to acting, with a recurring role in Amazon’s Mr Robot, and is also designing a Pro Era fashion line. “To even call it a [360º mindset] would be limiting,” he laughs. “I know that I can do a lot, I’ve always just had that mindset that I can do anything that I put my mind to. I don’t have to limit myself. Why do I have to be just like the status quo of my position? Why do I have to be just another rapper? Why do I have to follow the same ideals and morals that other rappers do? Why can’t I have different ones from the world in
general? To me it’s always been about challenging the environment around me and the world.” Since Dewar’s death, Scott has taken a more prominent role at Cinematic, spearheading its merchandise line and collaborating with Shipes on ways to grow the company. At 17, Scott turned down an offer from Jay Z’s Roc Nation, preferring to stick with Cinematic. That the label is still independent hasn’t hurt Scott’s sales – B4.Da.$$ is expected to join All-Amerikkkan Bada$$’s first single ‘Devastated’ in going gold later this year – but it has enabled him to maintain creative control of his music. “He’s one of the most driven, focused artists and business-minded individuals I’ve ever been around,” says Shipes. “I sometimes find myself pushing myself to go harder because I know he’s going just as hard, if not harder than me. We march to our own drum and don’t study what others are doing. We just do us and that is key to being successful; don’t worry about what the other labels are doing. We just focus on doing what we are good at and that is making timeless music.” It helps that Scott is finally stepping out from the shadow both of his influences and Dewar.
through my music. It’s like talking to a person for the first time. This is the beginning of my career. This is my surface level shit.” It is now more important for him to be a figurehead than simply a killer lyricist. After his first experience with law enforcement, Scott grew wary of flashing lights and blue uniforms. He began to notice that store detectives lingered near him in shopping malls. He read James Baldwin and Marcus Garvey and he came to realise that the music he listened to was not archaeological. This era in which black men were beaten to death by police officers, who then escaped charge, was not preserved like a mosquito in amber. It was now. And he had a duty to address it. “There was a point where I didn’t think I’d have to talk about this stuff, for sure,” he says. “But the more I got older, the more I was like, we have
Why do I have to be just another rapper? Why do I have to follow the same ideals and morals that other rappers do? To me it’s always been about challenging the environment around me and the world. He has grown into his voice and grown confident enough to dictate the music it sits on. For All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, he worked on bespoke beats with Knight and Pleasant, as well as reaching outside the Pro Era family to producers 1-900 and Statik Selektah. The latter’s offering, which was built around a sample from South African jazz artist Andile Yenana, became ‘Legendary’, a collaboration with J. Cole. When Nas heard it, his manager got in touch to see if the one-time boy wonder could have the beat too. His hope is that recognition from rap’s royalty helps him reach wider success, without the need to compromise his vision. Earlier this year he claimed he would beat Tupac in a bar-for-bar rap battle, but after attracting the predictable heat, he is now more maganimous about his position in the hip-hop firmament. “The rappers who are up there, that people know, they’ve given me my props. I inspire them,” he says. “There’s no box that’s going to fit me because I’m constantly shifting to show you that, yo, I can do this, I can do that. But more importantly, I’m a human being. I move in different ways and you’ll see different sides of me as I grow, the more you get to know me
to talk about this world. We’ve got to talk about what’s going on. Because I feel like music is healing. To me, music is the most influential force, aside from love and God. “I know there are good cops out there. But they need to speak up when cops are inhumane. We need more good cops to come to light so that they can change that image that they’ve got. It’s almost like rappers. When you think ‘rapper’ in this present day and time, you’re like, ‘Oh, chains, bitches, money, hoes.’ But it’s not. There’s some of us out there who are really trying to change that perception. We’re taking a stand to really try and fight.” Joey Bada$$’s second album All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ is out now elijahhoseinmusic.com He is on tour throughout 2017 theproera.com
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t is exceedingly white in Bill Skarsgård’s room in New York. Well, not actually his room. The actor – scion of an acting family that includes father Stellan (100-odd films, including Good Will Hunting and Thor) and brothers Alexander (Tarzan), Gustaf (Vikings) and Valter (Black Lake) – hasn’t had a permanent home in more than half a decade. He drifts between rented apartments in LA, relatives’ houses in Stockholm and hotels wherever his latest film demands. Often that means Toronto – he spent three years there with Netflix’s vampires and werewolves series Hemlock Grove, and another few months last year shooting Andrés Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel It, in which he plays the titular child-killing clown. But for now he is in New York, recovering from the Met Gala in this blinding hotel room that, with its white panelled ceiling, white walls and white lampshades, is the kind of place a director might house their ‘serious Swedish actor type’ if they’re short on exposition time. Admittedly, Skarsgård is all those things, although without the setting you might not guess the second bit. His American accent has none of that Swedish melody or bounce. He was exposed to English early, on his father’s film sets, which helped flatten any sing-song syllables. But he’s not had a dialect coach in a while. He reads in English and slips between tongues at will. He dreams in both. But then he is both Swedish and not, a man who began travelling almost at birth and seems never to have stopped – who doesn’t believe in borders, not really, and has been horrified with his current home’s slip into jingoism, its sudden vogue for deportations and walls and, well, selfishness. “For me, it’s very obvious, to not consider your nation a team,” he says, and sighs and shrugs as if this is all just so self-evident. “People who are really into sports have a tendency to think this way about world politics as well – us and them. And it’s so scary, especially in America, where people are so patriotic. You see it so much. Have you asked yourself, is patriotism good? Nationalism? What’s the point of saying our country is better than someone else’s?” He’s warming up now and the studious actor thing starts to slip. When he talks about work he picks his words with care, doubling back to self-edit. But these kinds of conversations have always been rather more passionate, taught by a father who would sit and drink red wine with
fellow artists either until the world’s problems were fixed or the sun came back up. “I think taking in immigrants is one of the most noble things you can do as a country. It’s an important thing that we should talk about more. These anti-immigrant parties and racists, instead of calling them racists – I think that just polarises – we should just start calling them ‘selfish’. That’s really what it is. Stop being a selfish prick.” He has a good face for anger. It is otherworldly, his hooded eyes set deep in skin so pale it seems translucent. In the right light, you feel, you might be able to glimpse the skull underneath. Skarsgård’s open-door mentality seems par for the course in Sweden, which in recent years has welcomed, per capita, more immigrants than any other country in Europe. For Skarsgård, this is something to be proud about. But in the new digs, that attitude doesn’t always go down so well. “You have these right-wing fascists talking about Sweden as a failed example of how bad it can get,” he says. “But I’ve heard it not only in these right-wing politicians, I’ve also heard it more from liberals. ‘Look at Sweden.’ And you go, ‘Why? What am I missing here?’ That’s not the country I go back to.” Of course, it is easy to bang the drum of integration when you spent months as a child on dad’s movie sets in Cambodia, Mexico and Toronto, where the six-year-old Skarsgård hung out with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Robin Williams while they shot Good Will Hunting. His mind was broadened. He came to appreciate other cultures, how they didn’t dilute his Swedishness, but added something new. It sparked a wanderlust – more than a few months with the same scenery and he starts to get antsy. This is a useful characteristic in a career that demands constant movement. As is the sense of independence fostered by Stellan’s up-to-16 parenting policy – after that, he believes, his kids can figure life out for themselves. But Skarsgård was also forced to grow up early. He was eight when his mother, My, contracted cervical cancer. Faced with death, she turned to drink. Her husband’s Stakhanovite work ethic kept him away from home and as she sank into alcoholism, the then 18-yearold Gustaf took up the slack. My stopped travelling to Stellan’s films and would instead stay at home, locked in the bathroom, in case the alcohol killed her and her children stumbled across her body. The pair divorced in 2006 and My entered rehab a year later. She now runs alcohol therapy courses and recently helped Gustaf, who began drinking at
12 and using drugs at 16 when his father showed him how to roll his first joint, to get sober as well. Until My unburdened herself in a magazine interview in 2011, Swedes thought that their most famous family were as happy as any group of people who enjoyed unfettered, intergenerational, international success. So when Skarsgård made his first appearances on screen, all audiences saw was a fourth face off the production line walking straight onto screen. Avoiding charges of nepotism might have been easier if he was one Sweden’s 100,000 Svenssons or 250,000 Johanssons. But the Skarsgård name is, he thinks, unique; it was invented by his grandfather, né Nilsson, in the 1940s, as part of a government push to inject some originality into the phonebook between all those sons of Sven and Johan. Perhaps Skarsgård senior shouldn’t have bothered: in every one of his grandson’s early reviews, he became: “Bill, son of Stellan”. Sweden’s most famous filmic name since Bergman helps when you’re trying to get a CV in front of casting directors. But it also adds pressure. “There’s the notion that because you come from a famous family, you’re somehow spoiled,” Skarsgård says. “If you’re also a terrible actor, it fulfils that idea of who you are. If you’re not bad, if you’re in something good, it’s like, ‘OK, well maybe he knows how to act after all. But he’s still a privileged brat.’” Skarsgård is aware that this is among the most first-world of problems, but still, it bothered him. So he treated acting as a pastime while he waited for real life to start. Film sets felt like home anyway, and he didn’t really see how what his family did for work was all that different from what he and his friends did on the playground. “A kid plays and pretends that he’s different people all the time,” he says. “As a kid actor, it’s hard to differentiate ‘acting’ to just ‘playing’.”
Words Tom Banham Photographs Gavin Bond Styling Mark Holmes Grooming KC Fee at The Wall Group using Oribe and Shiseido Men Photographic Assistant Robert Hutt Styling Assistant Ethan Cole Production Janey Owen at Walter Schupfer Management
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He comes from the most famous acting dynasty in Sweden, and he’s about to take on a dream role that is the stuff of nightmares.
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A kid plays and pretends that he’s different people all the time. As a kid actor, it’s hard to differentiate ‘acting’ to just ‘playing’. At 17, he discovered the difference on the set of Arn, a two-part epic with the biggest budget in Swedish cinema history. It also featured the country’s best-known actors, which naturally included his father as well as Gustaf and Valter. “I read this script and I was about to do this film myself and I could hear my dad and my brother talking about the things that worked or didn’t work, what needs to be changed,” he says. “And I’d felt the same way, maybe when I’ve watched a movie: ‘I don’t believe this performance.’ Or, ‘This feels forced.’ All these things that stop a movie working, I’ve had those visceral feelings. And I realised that problem-solving is part of acting. It’s what makes it so much fun.”
is next role comes with a big list of problems. Skarsgård is a methodical actor – he likes to research, he relishes character arcs and growth and all the other things he used to discuss with his father and brothers over the dinner table. In It, he plays a demented spirit, as old as time, who every 27 years awakes to feed on children’s flesh. He can appear in any form but tends to materialise as a clown called Pennywise – because Stephen King, who wrote the 1,200-page novel in
the 1980s, believes that deep down, everyone is scared of clowns. He is the embodiment of evil, the manifestation of whatever his victims fear most. Character motivation is a tricky one here. Then there’s the baggage. When the teaser trailer landed in March, it racked up 197m views in 24 hours, racing past the previous record-holder, the billion-dollar-grossing The Fate of the Furious. If that seems surprising for a horror film, it shouldn’t. It bullseyes a Venn diagram of nostalgia – for the novel, for the Tim Curry-starring TV series, and for the kind of ’80s monster shocks that Netflix smash Stranger Things rode to ubiquity last year. “Stranger Things was released in the middle of shooting and everyone was like, ‘Oh shit,’” says
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There’s the notion that because you come from a famous family, you’re somehow spoiled. If you’re not bad, it’s like, OK, maybe he knows how to act, but he’s still a privileged brat.
Skarsgård. “I binged the whole thing in Toronto. And I thought, shit, there’s a lot of similarities. It’s set in the ’80s, it’s kids and bikes and monsters.” The chronology, however, is slightly about face. When It was still in development, Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers pitched to direct it. Warner Bros was unwilling to trust its franchise to a pair of untested directors, so the Duffer Brothers decided to create their own spin instead. Then they stuffed it with references to It, The Mist and Carrie. “Watching Stranger Things is [like] watching Steve King’s Greatest Hits,” tweeted Stephen King last year. “I mean that in a good way.” Even before Warner Bros politely declined the Duffers, rebooting It had proved torturous. When the studio optioned the rights in 2009, it was determined to squeeze King’s enormous novel into a single feature. The Duffers had considered this near-impossible without stripping the plot of its intricacy. The book follows seven misfit kids, the Losers Club, who have to deal first with bullies, then the demonic clown that has terrorised their town for decades. It also tracks them two decades later, when Pennywise returns and they need to reassemble to vanquish him again. It is about good and evil but also camaraderie and the power of friendship. Original scriptwriter David Kajganich tried to compress It and failed. By 2012, True Detective director Cary Fukunaga was onboard and the project had mushroomed into two films; the first would deal with the characters as kids, the second with Pennywise’s reappearance when they were adults. Actor Will Poulter was cast as the clown. Stephen King blessed the script. All seemed good. Then Fukunaga fell out with the studio. He quit and his star followed. On came Muschietti, director of breakout horror hit Mama, who reworked the script (though Fukunaga retains a credit) to ramp it up to an ‘R’ rating. In that, it honours the source material; King’s novel is, on one hand, a Stand By Me-style
story of kids discovering their inner strength. But it also opens with a clown ripping off a seven-yearold’s arm in a storm drain and features a scene in which the kids have group sex in a sewer. The 1990 TV series, which debuted before HBO made graphic violence de rigeur for prestige TV, had to curb the gore. It relied instead on shocks and the creepy disjunction in how cheerfully Curry’s clown lured children to their deaths. When Skarsgård’s casting was announced, the reaction in those corners of the internet in which horror and nostalgia coalesce – ie, the obsessive ones – was mixed. The original Pennywise was a monster, but he wasn’t monstrous. Like John Wayne Gacy, the clown-costumed serial killer who murdered 33 children in the 1970s, Pennywise wasn’t supposed to be scary until you couldn’t escape. Skarsgård looked demonic. He didn’t walk, he scuttled. What child would follow this clown anywhere?
onsidering Skarsgård has been on-screen since he was nine, he has done well to avoid even a hint of child actor syndrome. But the Swedish film industry is small and its pressures are slight. This, coupled with his laissez-faire approach to acting at the start of his career, can make it feel as though luck, more than effort, has steered his rise. And he admits it’s played a part. In 2009, Skarsgård won four lead roles, each of which offered enough variety and range for a young actor to showcase his chops. In Simple Simon, he played a boy with Asperger’s who has to help his brother find a new girlfriend. In Behind Blue Skies he was a teenager who escapes his alcoholic father and becomes ensnared in a cocaine-smuggling ring, where he falls for his boss’s daughter. The Swedish film industry only makes “around 30 films a year” and this was unheard of. “I finished them all before the first one came out,” he says. “I don’t think I would have gotten all these parts if they were released before I booked the other ones. I was still
this kind of undiscovered thing, even though I’d just finished four films. But it was about to be a year and a half of Bill Skarsgård. I was aware that I wasn’t going to be able to work in Sweden for quite some time.” So he decamped to the States, where his name snared him an agent, and he auditioned for everything, just in case. He lost roles because his ears stuck out too much or his jaw didn’t jut out quite right. In Sweden, an audition lasted an hour. Here, he was in and out in 10 minutes. Directors were looking for types, and he didn’t want to be typecast, so he didn’t mind too much. Alexander had warned him not to rush. Enjoy yourself, wait for the right project to come along and don’t get defined too early. When a residual cheque from an old feature came through he flew two friends out, to drive the car he couldn’t and just hang out. He felt a man should have money, lose it all, then find it again later. So they’d hit clubs then crash in Airbnbs and spend the days tearing through LA in an uninsured car, absorbing Hollywood, discovering just how far they really were from Stockholm. He was having fun, so when his agent passed him the script for a new Netflix vampire show, he demurred. His brother was already playing a hunky bloodsucker in True Blood and, well, vampires? He wanted to play a character with edge, not one that excited teenage girls. But they insisted. He read it and thought he could see something in this undead murder mystery. He went up for the
Jacket by Matania; trousers, shoes and belt by Salvatore Ferragamo; shirt by Saint Laurent from Barneyâ€™s New York, Beverly Hills; vest by Calvin Klein; sunglasses by Barton Perreira; necklace, stylistâ€™s own.
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Jacket by Maison Margiela from Barney’s New York, Beverly Hills; trousers by Canali; shirt by Gucci from Barney’s New York, Beverly Hills; vest by Calvin Klein; shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo; sunglasses by Persol; necklace, stylist’s own; watch by Shinola; socks, model’s own. J &
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I worked on that idea of what fear is and how it would manifest itself. This thing is created by children. There’s this element of Pennywise that is essentially just a horrific child.
lead and a week later was driving when his team at William Morris crowded round their speakerphone: “Congratulaaaaaaations!” Skarsgård called his father, a man who had worked for more than a decade before landing his first American role and who had told his son that after that domestic streak, he’d have to knuckle down and build up his career through bit parts. It had actually only taken six weeks, he explained. “Fuck off,” came the response from Stockholm. Back home, he’d made boys turning into men his speciality. Each tremor of his bottom lip seemed weighted with the pain of discovering that the world is not as he thought and can never be again. But now he swept back his goofy side-parting, shook off any vestiges of gawky teen, and reinvented himself as a heartthrob. Hemlock Grove was no House of Cards, but reviewers recognised that Skarsgård was good in a bad show. Three seasons drenched in fake blood also proved his horror chops. “Audiences and producers and studios see you in one thing and they’re like, ‘Ah, now he’s that,’” he says. “It’s just a good career strategy to try and be versatile, so that the people who actually pay for the tickets don’t get bored.” Skarsgård’s Pennywise may horrify. It may confound. But it certainly won’t bore. To put distance between his performance and Curry’s, he trained with a contortionist who taught him how to bend his six-foot-three frame into alarming shapes. On set, he would drool and babble in nonsensical Swedish, until his co-stars were so scared they could barely breathe. “I worked on that idea of what fear is and how it would manifest itself,” he says. “This thing is created by children. There’s this element of Pennywise that is essentially just a horrific child. So I really focused on that: what fear was and how the kids would perceive that fear.” But he had to carve the character out in isolation. Muschietti didn’t want to dilute the shock of seeing Skarsgård for the first time, so he was squirrelled away and could only
talk to the woman who dressed him in a sweaty suit and the two prosthetics guys who glued stuff to his face and the woman who shoved glowing contacts in his eyes. And like Pennywise, forever trapped in the sewers, he felt lonely. “I like bonding with a crew,” he says. “The whole atmosphere of a film crew really feeds me, gives me energy and I translate that into whatever I’m doing. But I looked so fucking horrible that the crew members had a hard time looking at me. So I wasn’t hanging around, goofing around with anyone, really. Instead, you kind of become an observer of everyone.” “At the wrap party, Bill said he was a little sad to have been separated from us,” says Finn Wolfhard, who starred in Stranger Things and plays Losers Club member Richie Tozier. “He heard how much fun we had for the first three months. We were together constantly and poor Bill was stashed away to protect from press leaks and to make his eventual appearance even more horrific. It must have been tough for him, but the intention behind it – I mean, you will see, it definitely works on screen.” At first, Skarsgård’s co-stars insisted they wouldn’t be scared. It was only a film, right? And he’d seemed nice enough at the readthrough. Then he walked on set. “Bill is such a sweet person in real life, but when it comes time to shoot he, no doubt, goes full evil,” says Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Eddie Kaspbrak, the first Loser to experience the full Pennywise. “Before a take he would scream in my face and really transport the both of us into a genuine state of extreme angst and fear. He used a lot of the environment around him to get into character. He would dance, howl, crawl around the room. He just transformed into this devilish creature.” Skarsgård has four younger siblings and making children cry was not something that came naturally. “It feels so wrong,” he says. “The most sinister or evil thing is not only scaring a child but really enjoying the scare while you’re doing it. There was also this kind of mocking hate that Pennywise has.
He actually hates these children. When they’re at their most scared, he’s mocking them and he enjoys that so much.” When Skarsgård was a child, he would sit with Stellan and watch foreign films. He was too young to read the subtitles, so his father would translate, or pause the movie occasionally and explain what was going on. The best films were the ones where his father didn’t have to explain too much, when the performances told the story even when he didn’t understand the words. “I remember watching Seven Samurai when I was eight and it was fantastic for an eight-year-old to watch, because it’s just such an amazing adventure story. And I think that kids can, at a young age, appreciate movies that otherwise would be considered adult films.” Great stories are universal, he says. What makes an eight-year-old smile in Stockholm will do the same for a kid in New York or Tokyo or Karachi. There’s more that makes us the same than makes us different. “We’re living in a time where there’s these countering forces that are trying to regress the world back to something border-based, nationalistic,” he says. “But countries, nations, borders – they’re illusions.” Some experiences, like love and friendship and growing up, are universal. And so is fear. Because it doesn’t matter where in the world you come from. Everyone’s afraid of clowns. Bill Skarsgård’s latest film, It, is out on 8 September warnerbros.com
Suit by J. Lindeberg; vest by Ami; necklace and bracelet, stylistâ€™s own; belt by Lanvin; watch by Shinola.
40 years of agnès b. Jocks & Nerds invited four of its collaborators to model garments from the label’s current collection to celebrate its 40th anniversary. French designer agnès b. has been disrupting preconceived notions of fashion ever since a chance encounter with the editor of Elle. Working as a stylist for several years, her first foray into design was a series of T-shirts for William Klein’s 1966 film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? Starting her eponymous label in 1977, she is known for continuously redefining wardrobe classics such as the white shirt and the breton top. These portraits are on display at agnès b., 35-36 Floral Street, London WC2 10-28 June agnesb.co.uk
Photographs Mark Mattock Styling Harris Elliott Grooming and Make-up Riona O’Sullivan using Caudalie Skincare Photographic Assistant Maxwell Anderson
CHRISTOS TOLERA, ARTIST Finding fame in the early 1980s as singer of legendary band Blue Rondo à la Turk, Tolera also graced numerous pages of the style titles of the day and runways as a successful model. Although his looks and natural style have led him to several acting roles, Tolera has, for the past three decades, dedicated his working life to his first passion – painting. christostolera.com
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HOLLIE COOK, MUSICIAN Hailing from west London, Cook’s music has more than a slice of reggae influence, although she describes her music as “tropical pop”. She grew up in a musical family – her father is Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and her godfather is Boy George. Recently, Jocks & Nerds worked with Hollie to create a limitededition live vinyl album. holliecook.com
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DEAN CHALKLEY, PHOTOGRAPHER AND FILMMAKER Chalkley is best known as one of the UK’s preeminent music photographers, who has worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Dizzee Rascal. His project Return of the Rudeboy, profiling the rise in rudeboy dandyism, was exhibited in London’s Somerset House before travelling the world. deanchalkley.com
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KARLMOND TANG, CREATIVE DIRECTOR Working predominantly in fashion, Tang both styles and takes photographs for a range of commercial clients. He also works as right-hand man to Harris Elliott, who has worked as creative director for Kate Tempest and Japanese label Julius. Earlier this year he curated Part One: Gift, the first exhibition at the YKK gallery in East London. karlmond.com
Ross wears jacket by Canada Goose; trousers by Aeance; T-shirt by 66° North; shoes from The Quay Climbing Centre; bracelet, model’s own. Hugo wears jacket by C.P. Company; shorts and leggings by Nike; T-shirt by Finisterre; shoes from The Quay Climbing Centre;
bracelet, model’s own.
Words Jamie Millar Photographs Klaus Thymann Styling Chris Tang Production Grace Lines Retoucher Ross Davenport Accommodation Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel, Southernhay East, Exeter EX1 mercure.com
TURNER TWINS Two boys from Devon have become the world’s first identical twin explorers undertaking medical research. Now they’re on a mission to reach the planet’s ‘poles of inaccessibility’.
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he journey from London’s Clapham Junction station to Ross Turner’s flat overlooking the River Thames is an urban jungle of intersecting back streets. But for the contemporary pioneer, smartphone in hand and global positioning satellite on tap, it’s hardly insurmountable. The name of a nearby office block, Plantation Wharf, evokes voyages to somewhat more exotic locations with presumably unintentional bathos. Ross – not to be confused with his identical twin brother Hugo or ‘Hugs’ – answers the door. It’s important to establish who’s who at the outset, and make a mental note of what they’re each wearing, because it’s difficult even to differentiate between their voices when listening back to the conversation. It’s a little past 11am on a Sunday morning, so Ross or Hugo brews a cafetiere of coffee while Hugo or Ross makes a brunch of stilton on toast. “That’s your first question for the interview,” says Hugo (hopefully). “Do we eat well?” “Anything and everything to fill a hole,” replies Ross.
Apart from the Canada Goose parkas in the hallway, the only clue as to the Turner twins’ atypical line of work is the huge wooden sled lying along the length of one wall in the open-plan living area, running fully nine feet from the kitchen counter to the television. The ‘pulk’, as it’s called, looks like something that Ernest Shackleton might have used to reach the South Pole at the turn of the 20th century. Or that you might pick up at a vintage furniture flea market for an inflated sum because it looks cool. The twins can attest that the pulk is in good working condition, because they’ve tested it by trekking across Greenland in their capacity as professional explorers. The 28-year-olds are currently preparing for a forthcoming expedition that, fundraising allowing, they should embark on at the end of August. “The next idea is to ride bikes to the centre of South America,” explains Hugo, unfolding a delightfully quaint paper map. “So we’ll start over on the west coast of Chile, moving up through the salt flats of the Atacama Desert. Then there are the volcanoes, which are what, 6,500m? So we’re going to be cycling at well over 5,000m: seriously high-altitude stuff. And then we drop down into the Mato Grosso, which is more low-lying flatland.” The contrast between the landscapes and climates – plains, mountains, deserts, jungles, swamps and rivers – promises to be “phenomenal”, if a nightmare to outfit for. They’ll also be packing rafts for the wetter bits.
In this age of Google Earth, the kind of ‘world firsts’ that are bread and butter to pro explorers like the twins are increasingly hard to find. Then they discovered the ‘poles of inaccessibility’ – remote points that represent the hardest places to reach on the planet. For the foreseeable future, they’re focusing on ticking off the continental centre points that are farthest away from coastlines. The appeal of these poles of inaccessibility is that they’re relatively uncharted territory. “Everybody’s been focused on the North and South Pole,” says Hugo. “Then came the mission to climb Everest, which is classed as a third pole. But nobody’s really focused on what other poles there are.” They’re also abundant enough to provide the twins with steady work, and a near-constant stream of content to satisfy their brand partners. “We want to do at least one or two every year for probably the next three years.” First though, there’s the small matter of their 1,600-mile South American odyssey, which also includes 33,000 feet of ‘gain’ or elevation. “Which is quite a lot,” deadpans Ross. Perhaps unsurprisingly given their proclivities and proximity to the river, they mostly train outside, or at the nearby Easygym when certain equipment is called for. “I used to go to a £90-a-month gym and it was just filled with shit,” says Ross. “Fair enough, London isn’t the greatest place to run, but I find it ironic that people spend all that money to go on a treadmill when you’ve got Richmond Park and all these other amazing places.”
Ross wears jacket by Rapha; shorts by Björn Borg; sweater by Timberland; trainers by Norman Walsh Footwear; bag by Pacsafe; watch by Breitling; bracelet and socks, model’s own. Hugo wears jacket by Finisterre; shorts by Rapha; sweater by Tommy Hilfiger; trainers by Norman Walsh Footwear; bag by Pacsafe; watch by Breitling; socks, model’s own.
Ross wears jacket by Paul & Shark; trousers by Uniqlo; top by Orlebar Brown; trainers by Norman Walsh Footwear. Hugo wears jacket by Belstaff; jogging bottoms by Polo Ralph Lauren; boots by Stone Island.
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Hugo wears jacket by Arc’teryx; sweater by Les Basics; sunglasses by Persol; watch by Breitling. Ross wears sweater by Z Zegna; T-shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren. While their training largely amounts to ‘general fitness’, one major consideration is not getting too big. “We’re 90 kilos naturally, which is quite heavy,” says Ross. “So we do lots of bodyweight exercises, plyometrics and strength and power work, away from the hypertrophy side.” The more muscle you’re carrying, the more oxygen and energy you require, and the more inefficient you are in the thin air of high altitude. Lean tissue also costs a lot of calories to maintain, which is not ideal when you have to carry all your food around. If anything, it’s more advantageous for the twins to put on fat, which provides an alternative fuel source and a blubber buffer on expeditions where they can lose an average of half a kilo a day. But even with a diet of stilton on toast, their volume
of training makes gaining a struggle. “You’re burning it off as you’re putting it on,” says Ross. So far off any kind of track, let alone a beaten one, spoiling food and water shortages will be the biggest threats for the twins – aside from the drug cartels. “We’ll probably have to get a fixer and guide when we get to Brazil,” says Ross. “We’re not so fussed about Bolivia because nobody really lives on the route that we’re taking.” Of higher concern for Hugo is altitude sickness. “There’s no link between how fit you are and avoiding it,” he says. “You can have
guys who’ve summitted Everest several times with no problem, then they’ll go back again and get altitude sickness. Scientists are still trying to work out what the actual cause is. Is it nature or nurture? Is it in your genes?” The twins may be of some assistance there. Since their Greenland expedition in 2014, the self-styled ‘adventure guinea pigs’ – not a description readily associated with that rodent – have been collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline’s Human Performance Lab and King’s College London’s Department of Twin Research. While that might seem like an esoteric subject for a dedicated department, identical twins are greatly prized by researchers, who can otherwise struggle to distinguish whether a given outcome is due to
You can go through life just living, or actually go and achieve something. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. You’ve got to take it by the horns.
environmental factors, individual genetic variation or some combination of the two. An indistinguishable double provides them with a precious control group. And identical twin explorers are extremely rare. “I think we’re one of only two sets in the world,” says Hugo. “Certainly the only ones doing this kind of research.” As well as providing stool samples, the twins have given blood and urine, plus skin and fat biopsies from their abdomens. Everything from their bone density to lung function and grip strength has been measured in order to improve medical science’s grasp of conditions such as osteoporosis, asthma and arthritis. They’ve also contributed to research projects into epigenetics (how genes can be switched on or off by biological
mechanisms), metabolomics (the processes involved in metabolism) and intestinal bacteria. On their 2015 expedition up Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus, between the Black and Caspian seas, the twins monitored their levels of the stress hormone cortisol as they climbed the 5,642m to Europe’s highest peak by taking swabs of saliva, followed by cognition tests on an iPad. Cortisol rose in line with altitude and the concomitant increase in physical workload; despite this empirical data, Hugo insists that the most stressful part of an expedition is the one they’re on right now: the organising stage. In Greenland, they pricked their skin daily to measure their fasting blood sugar, which if their hormones were doing their jobs properly should have remained within a narrow normal range. But on two occasions, Hugo dipped below the baseline at which he might expect to slip into a hypoglycemic coma. It should be pretty self-explanatory why going into a coma on an ice cap is less than ideal. But just in case, King’s College London sent the twins an entire document on the matter. “They were like, ‘That was seriously dangerous,’” says Hugo. “But I suppose that part of what we’re doing is trying to not push the boundaries, but make them question the norms: ‘Well, these guys didn’t go into a hypoglycemic coma. Why is that?’” For Ross, the question of why he didn’t slip into a hypoglycaemic coma was relatively straightforward to answer: he was eating the same kind of food that Shackleton took on his 1909 expedition to Antarctica. “Cured meat, fat and oats were my main staples,” says Ross. “Then tins of vegetables. One 400g can had 49 calories, compared to 400g of Hugs’ food, which had 800 calories.” Yet Ross’s energy levels were a straight line while Hugo’s yo-yoed: “That’s because the modern expedition foods have so much sugar and carbohydrate in them. They give you that initial buzz, then you get that crash.” Ross was also wearing replicas of Shackleton’s clothing, including a Sunspel Aran jumper and Crockett & Jones boots. These not only made him “the pimpest gentleman on the ice cap”, as Hugo designates him, but also outperformed the supposedly superior modern garments. Ross’s cream-coloured chunky cable knit in particular was a hero piece as it allowed air to flow through. That doesn’t sound like a selling point in sub-zero temperatures, especially when you’re not wearing a coat. But the breathable wool enabled his sweat
to escape – unlike Hugo’s technical outerwear, in which his trapped perspiration froze and turned into an ice pack. Which begs the question of why we’ve replaced these time-tested old reliables with less effective – and elegant – products. “I would say the biggest thing is marketing,” says Hugo. “Everything’s got to be lighter, more colourful. But if you look at polar explorers and guides who live for months at a time, year on year, up in the Arctic, most of their clothing is handmade, because they know it works.” Ross meanwhile points to the advent of plastics and polymer textiles such as nylon and polyester, which are “much easier, quicker and cheaper” to produce than natural fibres, and therefore more profitable – even if they come at a cost to the consumer. Similarly, Ross’s authentic pulk was “100 times better” than Hugo’s newfangled plastic one, and easier to pull – despite being much bigger – thanks to its larger surface area over which to displace weight. “It’s like a ballerina and a tank,” says Hugo. “If the ballerina lifts herself up on her toe, she sinks in more than the tank.” Likewise Ross’s wooden skis: “They’re that little bit wider, which allows your foot to be more stable. Whereas Hugs injured his knee because he was trying to balance all the time.” With an impingement of the fat pad under his knee, and ploughing through on painkillers not an option – “You could be getting frostbite and not feel it” – they were forced to write off 18 months of preparation after just two weeks. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” says Hugo. “But in those environments, there’s no margin for error. We had the odd phone call saying, ‘You’ve got to carry on.’ But that’s very easy to say when you’re in a nice warm office.” In January 2016, experienced explorer Henry Worsley died of an infection while
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attempting an unaided crossing of Antarctica. “Yes, the trip was frustrating, but we learnt a lot and we can go back. Sadly for him, he can’t.” Injury has played a fateful role in the twins’ lives. One idyllic evening when they were 17 and working at a shop near a beach in Cornwall, Hugo ran down to the water, dived in a little too deeply and hit his head, crushing the C7 vertebra in his neck. There followed six months of long and painful recovery, including reconstructive surgery to fix the floating bone that was sticking into his spinal cord. Mercifully, he didn’t lose any movement or sensation, but he suffered pins and needles for a while. A close brush with paralysis might make some people a little more cautious in future; for the twins, it was a carpe diem catalyst. “Hugs’ accident made us realise that you can go through life just living, or actually go and achieve something,” says Ross. Their way of thinking is the polar opposite of most of the rest of western society, which is unquestioningly content to sacrifice present happiness on the altar of earning money for the promise of a retirement that premature death may well curtail – if they even make it that far. “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal,” says Hugo. “You’ve got to take it by the horns.” It’s hard to distinguish whether the twins are adventurous by accident, nature or nurture. Their parents had a small farm and they spent all their time outside; they didn’t have a TV until they were eight. (“No one ever comes away from watching television going, ‘Oh, that was great,’” says Hugo. “I mean, they do. But it’s just time wasting.”) Instead, they explored the woods at the bottom of their garden, camping in a fort that their dad built and ringing a brass bell if they got into trouble. They were clad in the same clothes, with an R and an H on the front and the back, which they’d swap when they got into a different kind of trouble; today, they’re wearing matching Breitling Emergency II watches, which have a built-in distress beacon that will summon a rescue team anywhere in the world – a fancy brass bell. Exploring never struck them as a viable career. They both studied industrial design and technology at Loughborough University, and Hugo had been entertaining thoughts of becoming a yacht skipper, or maybe an estate agent. Ross meanwhile was playing rugby for the famously sporty university’s first XV and toying with the idea of going pro (their father captained England U23s, and their great-uncle played for the All Blacks) until he had his own unlucky break: specifically, his leg. “I kicked the ball over and someone tackled me late, as I was running,” he recalls. “I remember spasming, thinking, ‘This is weird...’ Then I looked down and there was a bulge out the side.” He had half a year of rehab, followed by four months of playing his way back up through Loughborough’s lower teams. His last game before persistent back problems – a knock-on of his fracture – called time on his contact sport days was against England U20s. It’s said that opportunity lies in adversity. For
the twins, graduating from university in the middle of a recession was a chance to raise £250,000 for Spinal Research – and “add something to the CV” – by rowing the Atlantic. Setting out with two uni friends from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and landing in the Caribbean paradise of Barbados, they overcame hell and high water to cover the distance of 2,560 miles in just under 42 days, along the way setting records for the youngest crew to row the Atlantic and the first twins to row any ocean. Even doing two-hour shifts in pairs on the oars, the biggest challenge was the sheer unrelentingness. “If you’re cycling around the world, you can stop, put your tent up and forget about it for a while,” says Ross. “Whereas the row is 24 hours. It’s brutal.” Ceaselessly buffeted by 60-foot seas, as well as the inevitable sickness they also had to contend with lightening storms, sharks, jellyfish stings, salt sores and swollen prostates, not to mention the mental ramifications of extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation. Such as hallucinations that often took the form of preparing imaginary food, like that scene in Hook. “I remember Hugs properly making a meal,” says Ross. “‘What are you doing, Hugs?’ ‘Just making some food.’ ‘Oh, wicked.’ Then he turned around and handed me nothing.” It helped that they had consulted psychologists beforehand and pre-agreed what they would do in certain situations and who would call the shots when “the brown stuff hits the swirly thing”, to use Hugo’s colourful phrase. “Because naturally you’re going to be throttling each other,” he says. “Or at least that was our perception going into it.” And a classic Ben Fogle-James Cracknell schism between those who wanted to race and those who just wanted to get across did develop. But having worked on the sea and knowing that their speed was “99 per cent” down to the weather, the twins were of the same pragmatic mind, and put their collective foot and sea anchor down when necessary: “Invariably, it would take one wave which would nearly capsize us and they’d be like, ‘OK, let’s stop.’” The mental aspect was also the hardest part of paramotoring 1,600km to Australia’s ‘Red Pole’ of inaccessibility in August last year. “We’d been flying for a year or so and had the minimum 50 or so hours under our belts, which is a lot of time in the air,” says Ross. “But it’s not a lot of experience.” Not when you’re navigating what many pilots say is the worst turbulence anywhere on the planet, which partly explains why the Red Centre northwest of Alice Springs is so rarely visited. With only small windows of reduced thermal activity in which to travel, the twins had to wake up, consult their windsock and perform the necessary safety checks to get airborne five minutes later: “It was exhausting, doing that two, three times a day. We never really switched off.” Then there was the added pressure for the contemporary pioneer of creating content, a necessary evil that nevertheless places a filter between the twins and fully appreciating what’s
in front of their lenses. “You go to concerts and everybody’s just watching it through their phones,” says Hugo. “I don’t understand that concept.” Being uncontactable is one of the things that they enjoy most about being on expeditions, and the clarity that comes with being forced to focus on only what’s truly essential for survival: eat, sleep, move, repeat. “Life becomes incredibly simple – you don’t chase pointless things,” says Hugo, who would happily go back to dumb phones like the Nokia 3310. That the model is being relaunched this June suggest that he’s not alone in that regard. What they do miss is other people to talk to. The first thing they do
You can have guys who’ve summited Everest several times with no problem, then they’ll go back again and get altitude sickness. Scientists are still trying to work out what the actual cause is. Is it nature or nurture? Is it in your genes? when they get back is go down to their caravan on the beach in Cornwall for a few days to see friends, have a pint and chill. They have each other on the expeditions, of course, and a seemingly infinite capacity to hang out, although they’re by no means joined at the hip: they live and occasionally even
adventure separately (Hugo resides in Earlsfield), and they made their uni choices independently. They just happened to choose the same course at the same institution. While they deny having any spooky psychic connection, they’re so on the same wavelength that they don’t even need to talk. “We can have a whole conversation with just a look,” says Ross. “It’s quite weird. We first realised it in the Atlantic.”
But while the brothers enjoy the silence, they also appreciate having time to share stories and just hang out, often in the world’s most incredible locations. “I’m really looking forward to being at the highest point in the Andes a few months from now,” says Ross. “Overlooking the most insane view, probably with a little campfire.” theturnertwins.co.uk
Hugo wears jacket and shorts by Peak Performance; leggings by Björn Borg; T-shirt by Belstaff; trainers by Norman Walsh Footwear; sunglasses by Oakley; gloves by Patagonia from Mr Porter. Ross wears gilet by Parajumpers; shorts and sunglasses by Nike; top by Aeance; leggings by Patagonia from Mr Porter; trainers by Norman Walsh Footwear; watch by Breitling.
Jacket by Just Cavalli; shirt by Billionaire; tie, stylist’s own; watch,
New Orleans Photography Lee Strickland Fashion Director Mark Anthony Bradley Models Dominic and Devin Minix Dominic Minix believes that jazz is unkillable. “It’s unpopular, some people will say it’s dead,” he says. “But the people who respect the art form understand – and seek to uphold – its high calibre musicianship and artistry. In that way, jazz is still vital.” Born in New Orleans, Minix fell in love with jazz at school, where he studied guitar. He has toured with Christian Scott and played alongside a swathe of New Orleans jazz masters, including Donald Harrison and Delfeayo Marsalis. He also sings in the Dominic Minix Quartet, which is influenced by hardcore punk and hip-hop. “New Orleans jazz honours the past but it is also a hub for artistic innovation,” he says. “It’s this combination of experimentation and tradition that makes New Orleans jazz special.” dminixmusic.com
Suit, shirt, tie and pocket square by Richard James; hat by Caruso; sunglasses and watch, modelâ€™s own; pen by Bentley. 98
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Jacket by Richard James; trousers by Billionaire; shirt by Caruso; shoes by Sharpeye x Tricker’s; hat and scarf, stylist’s own; vintage sunglasses by Dita, stylist’s own; watch and rings, model’s own.
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Coat by Casely-Hayford; trousers and shirt by Brooks Brothers; shoes by Sharpeye x Tricker’s; glasses, model’s own; tie, stylist’s own; pocket square and belt by Richard James; socks by Pantherella.
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Jacket by Alexander McQueen; trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna; polo shirt by Richard James; vintage glasses by Dunhill, stylistâ€™s own; pocket accessory by Caruso.
Devin wears jacket by 3.1 Phillip Lim; trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna; shirt by Alexander McQueen; shoes and sunglasses, model’s own; hat by Sharpeye. Dominic wears cardigan and hat by Sharpeye; trousers by Richard James; shirt by Levi’s Vintage Clothing; shoes by Sharpeye x Tricker’s; glasses, model’s own; scarf by Simon James Cathcart; socks by Pantherella.
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Jacket by Dries Van Noten; polo shirt by Bally; vintage sunglasses by Dita, stylistâ€™s own; scarf by Simon James Cathcart.
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Suit by Marc Jacobs; jacket by Missoni; shoes by Sharpeye x Tricker’s; hat by Sharpeye; sunglasses and bracelet, model’s own; scarf, stylist’s own. 104 J &
Jacket by Bally; trousers by Wooyoungmi; polo shirt by Simon James Cathcart; hat by Sharpeye; vintage sunglasses by Cazal, stylistâ€™s own.
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Jacket by Paul Smith; trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna; polo shirt and scarf by Simon James Cathcart; vintage sunglasses by Dunhill, stylistâ€™s own.
Jacket by Caruso; trousers by Marc Jacobs; shirt by Lanvin; hat, stylist’s
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Shirt by Paul Smith; trousers by Brooks Brothers; boots from Costume Studio; hat by Sharpeye; vintage sunglasses by Dunhill, stylistâ€™s own; scarf by Richard James.
Most actors would be happy if they booked just one TV show that forever changed the format. Martin Freeman has at least two to his name, three if you include Fargo – and the fact that a sprawling take on a totem of American cinema, in which Freeman pulls off a Minnesotan accent, can be considered an afterthought is only testament to quite how enormous The Office and Sherlock have become. And yet it’s easy to forget just how high Freeman’s star has risen since his days at the Wernham Hogg paper company of The Office. Perhaps it’s because both The Office and Sherlock produced stars who appeared to burn even brighter – Ricky Gervais and Benedict Cumberbatch – that the other guy in the room could be eclipsed. And yet it’s Freeman who has played the title role in an almost $3bn-grossing trilogy – The Hobbit – by one of the world’s most decorated directors, Peter Jackson. It might be because the roles Freeman is best known for tend to be unassuming characters drawn into circumstances they can’t control: an unmanageable boss (The Office); a murdered wife (Fargo); a quest to Vintage jacket by DeRossi Co, model’s own; trousers by Paul Smith; knitwear by John Smedley; glasses by Retrospecs; pocket square by Nicholson & Walcot; watch by Omega.
evict a dragon (The Hobbit). He disappears into these roles, making them feel so relatable that you forget he’s acting at all. In life, as in art, Freeman has shunned the bright lights of LA and still lives in London. He DJs when he can and makes music documentaries when his schedule permits. He still thinks the world’s best job would be to sit at home in his house and play his records. Until he figures out a way to make that pay, he’ll just have to keep making art that upends the idea of what that kind of art can be.
Words Mark Webster Photographs Dean Chalkley Fashion Director Mark Anthony Bradley Photographic Assistant Chris Chudleigh Make-up and grooming Dani Richardson using Dermalogica and Fudge
Cardigan by Albam; shirt by Oliver Spencer.
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Suit by Mark Powell; polo shirt by Sunspel; pocket square by Nicholson & Walcot.
I like vulnerability and honesty. An actor without vulnerability is a fucking waste of space. When did you get into music? Two-tone. It was the summer of 1980 and I was nine and it was like a window opened. I’m the youngest of five so I had punk records in the house, but it was a bit older than me. Two-tone was truly like a light going on for me. Then I got into the R&B and soul thing. It must have been helpful having things already in the house. I didn’t have to discover them alone. It was by osmosis. The first time I heard Never Mind the Bollocks I was five or six and it was like contraband – getting that past your dad when your parents used to sit and think that was the end of the world. Now it has been co-opted and has national treasure status, but back then it was fucking scary. Maybe my kids, when they’re older, will get into things that I don’t get and I’m threatened by. I suppose the equivalent of punk in terms of a generational thing would be dubstep or grime. It’s not cosy. I kind of get it a bit but it’s not supposed to be for me. I don’t particularly like this, but by god I’m glad it exists. I’m not going to the opera, but I’m glad it exists. We need disparate culture. When I first heard jungle, I would have been about 21. I loved hip-hop and reggae. The whole jungle thing for me was a bit strong and I wasn’t living that life, I was at drama school. One of the first guys who asked me if I liked jungle was Idris Elba, he used to come to Central [School of Speech and Drama, where Freeman studied] and he heard me DJ. I didn’t really know what he
meant and when I heard it, I went, “Oh that, no not really, it’s a bit strong for me. I like melody and nice songs.” Were you DJing to make a couple of quid, or inflict your music on people? Throughout drama school and at parties, I’d be making sure there’d be decent music. There’d be me, this guy who would play R&B and hip-hop and another guy, Steve John Shepherd – he’s an actor, he’s been in Eastenders – and he was a mad soul boy. I’d be playing soul and all kinds of mod stuff. We wanted to make sure there was stuff to dance to that wasn’t just chart music. It’s the greatest motivation of all. That’s pretty much all the best DJs in that thought process. Did you embrace the personality side of it or find it awkward? I really embraced it. I find it more awkward now when people know who you are. That coincides with everyone carrying a camera 24 hours a day. It is annoying when people want to have a conversation with you as you change your record. People think you’re being a ‘celeb DJ’. Without protesting too much, it’s nothing like that to me. It’s not like I’m going to be doing the opening of a cool club. I play for dodgy old mods and soul boys. Do you try to counterbalance the luvvie side of your life? I’m not consciously doing that. I’ve definitely gotten more cosseted. But I also think if you’ve been brought up well, politely, and to look out for people and to be public-spirited, it’s not extraordinary to be nice. Especially when the world is treating you very nicely, fuck me that’s the time to be nice. You have money, you’re travelling first class, you’re doing things a lot of people will not do in a million years, what are you being a cunt for? J &
Jacket by Beams Plus.
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The idea of becoming Scrooge appeals to me. I unironically wear a nightshirt. How do you cope with the fame of Sherlock and the like? Benedict [Cumberbatch] and me are very aware of it. When the first series went out, over three episodes, the people who liked it, it was like it had always been their favourite show. It’s like when a new band comes along – in a way The Office was a bit like a band. It was cool and a bit off the beaten track. When I found out [Paul] McCartney liked The Office, I was like, “Fucking hell.” I get the sense that your lifestyle hasn’t changed much. Not at all. I don’t live in a flat in Bethnal Green any more, but my taste hasn’t changed. Because that is still me as a nine-year-old. Peter Jackson is the 12-year-old that he was. That essential me that was excited about MA-1 jackets, that’s still me. That crosses into your trade. You do get to indulge that. I know that I’m able to talk to a costume designer in a fairly detailed way about what I want. But you have to be careful that you’re not trying to look cool. In my civilian world, I’m into clothes. But very often I was playing low lifes or schlubs, people who would not have had money and did not have to look stylish. I couldn’t be vain. Vanity is the absolute enemy of good acting. The enemy of good art. Just wanting to look cool, it’s not enough. Sherlock is written and shot in such a way that, frankly, you can look pretty good in that. It’s not designer, but you can look right and there’s no reason you shouldn’t look right. It’s a dual thing. I adore clothes and that illness is getting worse. But also because I’m interested in ‘stuff’. I’m interested in history, I’m interested in politics. I’m interested in people who aren’t me. Which is another reason I guess I’m an actor, because you can pretend to be other people. If you’re lucky you can play those things as an actor, where you get to bring different interests in. But my main thing is just what it is to be human, what it is to be alive. I like vulnerability and honesty. An actor without vulnerability is a fucking waste of space. Like you in that dressing gown in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My own, stupid integrity suggested that I should look schlubby. Mos Def looks great, Zooey Deschanel looks brilliant, Sam Rockwell looks like some Elvis/James Brown thing. And I’m in a giant, towelling dressing gown. I didn’t think it through. Did you steal it from the set? I did get the dressing gown that Bilbo Baggins wore [in The Hobbit]. It’s bespoke, beautiful patchwork, velvet. I wear it around the house, it makes me feel like Uncle Bulgaria [of The Wombles]. The idea of becoming Scrooge appeals to me. I unironically wear a nightshirt. They’re comfortable, they’re nice. But I need a nightcap. Is it hard only having one outlet for your creative side? I’m starting to dip my toe a bit into producing things and creating work. I’ve always been interested in social history and the politics of this country. Not in a preachy way – because I’m definitely getting less preachy as I get older. I know that I know jack shit. All the things you know when you’re 20 – that’s wrong, that’s right – I know I don’t know. The basics, yes. But the details, I don’t fucking know. I’m glad I’m not in charge.
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Did you pursue an American TV experience with Fargo? Something like that – that kind of animal. And they’re very rare, of course. But it arrived to me. We were filming the third series of Sherlock, I was somewhere in South Wales and I got a call from my American agent saying she’s got a script for an American TV show. “Don’t be alarmed, I know it’s a TV show, but it’s only 10 episodes, it’s four months, you don’t have to sign your life away for seven years.” And I read the first episode and thought, fucking hell. And it was already an offer. I think without the dual thing of The Office and The Hobbit, if I hadn’t had those things, I wouldn’t get offered things like Fargo. I would have to go on tape several times. But it was lovely to get that trust. To be offered that – it was a specific piece of work, a specific accent. And to be trusted that I’d be able to do that. It could have been awful – it’s not an easy accent to do. Do you have the dream of going to America? When The Office happened I was getting approached by a few big managers and agents. Big comedy people in the States. And I genuinely didn’t see the point. Why would I want an American agent? We’ve got fax. I’m glad I’ve got one now [laughs]. Some British people want it. Good people who just really fucking love American movies and that’s all they want to do. But I just don’t want to live in LA. I get it a bit and I don’t hate it. But I get this, for all that it pisses me off slipping over in the rain yet a-fucking-gain. You’ve had long enough to think about that as an issue. It would have happened by now. I’m very lucky – I get offered things. I did a thing last year in Puerto Rico, 10 episodes of a show called StartUp for American TV. It was a straight offer, an even darker role than Fargo. I wouldn’t have been offered that without having a bit of stuff behind me. There are people of my generation who just go to America to try it out. It might happen, but it’s hard. Because do you know how many people can act in LA? There’s lots of people there. More than 12. And some of them are better looking than me. Is that what brought you to producing? It was born out of wanting a vote in something and not just an opinion. If we’re working together and you’re my director, you’d be crazy not to listen to me. But you don’t have to. It came from being on some things and seeing something and knowing that’s wrong. You were exposed to that straight away on The Office. I still don’t know how that happened. Even 16 years later, I still don’t know how they, the BBC, let it happen. Where two completely untried people get to write and direct and one of them star in a BBC series. And thank Jesus they did. Because if that had been directed by a journeyman hack, say, imagine how different that would have been. The script still would have been good, performances would have been good. But without that eye, it wouldn’t have had their taste. And taste is a massive thing. In terms of producing, is it drama, comedy? I’ve got a comedy thing in the pipeline that I’m helping to create. Based on a dream I had, actually. It was sort of true, true about the way I feel about something. So I’m getting together with a very good writer and very good director and we’re hammering that out at the moment. But the ideas that I’ve had that one day I will write, or someone even better will write, are dramas. They’re 20th century, one would be an Edwardian thing – they’re dramas based on true events. And I wouldn’t be in them. You know your canvas in terms of life and art. If you were a shrink, then I’m more Joe Strummer than Kiss. And believe me, not everything I do has to be right on and earnest. The older I get, I’m getting way less right on. But I wouldn’t have any faith in myself to be able to make a space odyssey. That’s a different brain. What’s that old Marxist phrase? The personal is political. I wouldn’t try and tell the story of the entire ’60s. But I would try and tell the story of one docker in 1968. Martin Freeman is in Ghost Stories, released later this year warpfilms.com J &
Coat by Ami; trousers by Kent & Curwen; sweater by Acne Studios; shirt by Jil Sander; shoes by Churchâ€™s; hat by Caruso; socks by Pantherella.
Photographs Jon Mortimer Fashion Director Mark Anthony Bradley Grooming Asashi at Caren Model Nick Sen
DE LA WARR Nick Sen is currently finishing his second year in bespoke tailoring at east Londonâ€™s Newham College. He first cut his teeth in the Italian ateliers of Florence, and since returning to London he has worked for tailoring houses Thom Sweeney and Charlie Allen.
Coat and shirt by Alexander McQueen; scarf by Rockins.
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Coat by Valentino; trousers and shoes by Bottega Veneta; jacket by Berluti; knitwear by Acne Studios; ring, modelâ€™s own; socks by Pantherella.
Coat by Kent & Curwen; trousers by Wooyoungmi; jacket and shirt by Qasimi; shoes by Bottega Veneta; sunglasses by Persol; scarf, stylistâ€™s own; socks by Pantherella.
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Coat by Acne Studios; jacket by Bottega Veneta; shirt by Cmmn Swdn; scarf by Heller’s Cafe from Son of a Stag; necklace, model’s own.
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Coat by Maison Mihara Yasuhiro; trousers and jacket by Bottega Veneta; shirt by E. Tautz; shoes by Church’s; tie, stylist’s own; ring, model’s own; socks by Pantherella.
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Coat by Joseph; trousers, sweater and shirt by Acne Studios; jacket by E. Tautz; sunglasses by Oliver Peoples x Alain Mikli.
Coat by Canali; trousers by Caruso; jacket by Wooyoungmi; top by Cmmn Swdn; polo shirt by Baracuta; shoes by Churchâ€™s.
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Coat, trousers and sweater by Acne Studios; shirt by Valentino; shoes by Churchâ€™s; sunglasses by Oliver Peoples x Alain Mikli; scarf by Bottega Veneta; socks by Pantherella.
On 12 November 2016, the Saturday after Donald Trump won the US election, thousands of New Yorkers marched from Union Square to Trump Tower to protest their new presidentâ€™s anti-feminist, anti-Muslim and anti-environment campaign
Words Chris May Photograph Janette Beckman
Experts are under attack, facts are no longer facts and anti-science is a badge of honour. This is not some sci-fi dystopia – this is our world, right here, right now. Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power seek to galvanise an urgent response.
n 19 January, Al Gore stepped onstage at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to a thunderous ovation from an audience that had just watched the premiere of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. The film, which sees Gore traverse the globe to meet those affected by climate change, strikes a more hopeful note than its predecessor, 2006’s Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth. An Inconvenient Truth was more lecture than film, its slideshow based on one Gore had been presenting since his presidential loss to George W. Bush six years earlier. It was exhaustively researched, 96 minutes of facts and statistics that made clear the inexorable path from fossil fuel dependence to environmental catastrophe – which made it more terrifying than any of Hollywood’s computer-generated efforts to frighten us into recycling. An Inconvenient Sequel reflects the political and social shifts its predecessor helped to precipitate. At Sundance the former vice‑president turned campaigner took questions from the audience and ended with a rallying cry. “We will prevail,” he said. “No one person can stop us. We will fight like our world depends on it. We will win.” As he left the stage, the crowd again rose to its feet. The next day, 2,000 miles east, Donald Trump addressed his own supporters, who shivered in close-to-freezing conditions that seemed to reinforce their new president’s climate scepticism – in 2010, Trump said the Nobel committee should rescind Gore’s prize because of record snow levels. He described to them the “carnage” he saw engulfing the United States, referring not to the increasingly violent weather that had ravaged New Orleans, Florida and New York, but rather a manufacturing slowdown, which he claimed had been caused by the outgoing administration’s efforts to reduce America’s consumption of fossil fuel and minimise toxic emissions from coal-burning factories. During his election campaign, Trump repeatedly admitted that he was not a believer in man-made climate change. “It’s a hoax,” he said at a rally in South Carolina in December 2015. “It’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.” It was a familiar theme – three years earlier, he tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”. Once Trump was in office, his strategic adviser, Steve Bannon, previously executive chair of the far-right website Breitbart News, encouraged the new president to “move fast and break things”, a mantra borrowed from Facebook. “Figure out what needs doing, then just do it,” he reportedly told 136 J &
officials at the Republican National Convention. “Don’t wait for permission.” Trump didn’t. On the day of his election, the White House website was scrubbed of almost any references to climate change, replacing them with a promise that by lifting restrictions he would increase wages by $30bn over the next seven years. Within days, he’d issued executive orders rolling back environmental protection legislation made during Barack Obama’s presidency. By mid-February, he had installed fellow climate change denier Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These events on either side of the US highlight the increasingly binary nature of political discourse, not only in America but around the world. Protesters, be they on the left or the right, assemble to affirm and celebrate shared beliefs. In chatrooms and on social media, millions more do the same. But few explore the world beyond their bubble. This is not a characteristic monopolised by right or left: in the UK, for both Brexiteers and Momentum the media is partisan, the BBC out to undermine either Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or Brexit minister David Davis, depending on your viewpoint. Al Gore’s Sundance premiere and Donald Trump’s inaugural address were separated by 24 hours, 2,000 miles and the erosion of public trust in authority that has occurred since the turn of the millennium, when Bush swung the presidency by his hanging chads. The problem facing the pro-science community – and a raft of movements such as Black Lives Matter – is how to counter a mindset that listens only to itself and refuses to engage in evidence-based debate. How do you preach beyond the choir, when everyone else is singing their own song so loud it drowns you out? Gore’s confidence in winning the climate change battle is undimmed, despite a vociferous and newly empowered anti-science movement. “I will say that Trump’s appointments to departments and agencies important to the environment have been deeply troubling,” he said in a press statement in April. “But the progress that is being generated by business, industry, investors and local and state governments will continue – regardless of what the new administration’s policies are. It’s not the first time that those of us working to solve the climate crisis have experienced an unwelcome setback. But despair is just another form of denial. We’re going to win this.” Cheerleaders play an important role in any movement, but campaigners have no illusions about how tough winning this battle is going to be. Pruitt says that he does not believe that carbon dioxide emissions are a root cause of climate change. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, has described funding research into global warming as a “waste of taxpayer dollars”. But as ominous as these appointments are, perhaps even more worrying is President Trump’s disinclination to follow the office’s tradition and appoint a science adviser, a role that has been filled by some of the USA’s best minds since its inception during the Second World War. Although perhaps that’s for the best – the figure tipped for the position, Princeton physicist William Happer, has equated the consensus
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The big problem facing America is not that so many voters do not know much about science or politics, it is that they are proud of not knowing things. In rejecting the advice of experts they have found a way to insulate their egos from ever being wrong.
on carbon dioxide’s role in global warming to Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. Anti-science has a rich tradition, from Pope Paul V ordering Galileo Galilei to recant his discovery that the earth revolved around the sun, to William Blake’s vilification of Isaac Newton, and the ongoing battles between the religious right and America’s schools over the teaching of evolution. “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life,” wrote science fiction author Isaac Asimov in Newsweek in 1980, “nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” Trump is not simply anti-science, he is anti-expertise and anti-intellectualism in the widest sense. As well as proposing substantial cuts to the EPA budget, Trump is advocating similar cuts at the National Institutes of Health and to foreign aid, education and the arts. Meanwhile, he has signalled sympathy for campaigners who say that attempts to make vaccinations against diseases such as polio and tuberculosis statutory for most children are a threat to American democracy – a notion on a par with the belief of far-right campaigners in the 1950s that putting fluoride in drinking water was part of a Soviet plot to destroy America. In 2017, the rejection of expertise has reached pandemic proportions. Some commentators warn that, if left unchallenged, it could become resistant to treatment. Among them is Tom Nichols, author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. A Republican-voting professor at the US Naval War College, Nichols was a prominent member of Never Trump, a movement that campaigned to stop the Apprentice star winning his party’s presidential nomination. “Early in the presidential campaign, [Trump] made a speech about foreign policy in which he said that experts are terrible,” Nichols tells me. “I found that terrifying. My specialist field is foreign policy and I became very alarmed that someone who had no idea how international policy works would try to get rid of the United States foreign aid budget.” For most presidents, expert advisers are vital in addressing the myriad responsibilities of their office. For Trump, who refuses to admit to even the smallest degree of ignorance, they are a sign of weakness. “Trump encourages a reflex among American voters that anybody who knows anything is the enemy,” Nichols continues. “The fact that so many Trump voters are still strongly
with him says that they’re just immune to facts and that they are invested in Trump’s use of ‘expertise’ as a proxy for ‘elite’. People are dug in now. They think rejecting expertise is a necessary form of class warfare. They use the word ‘expert’ as an insult.” Nichols argues that the big problem facing America is not that so many voters do not know much about science or politics, it is that they are proud of not knowing things. In rejecting the advice of experts they have found a way to insulate their egos from ever being wrong. It is a new Declaration of Independence, says Nichols. Now all truths are held to be self-evident, even the ones based on alternative facts. Anybody’s opinion on any subject, however ill-informed, is as good as any other. To suggest this is delusional is to risk being called an elitist. Kenneth Kimmell, president of not-for-profit organisation the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), votes Democrat, but shares much of Nichols’ analysis. The UCS, formed in 1969 with the motto ‘Science for a Healthy Planet and Safer World’, was one of the organisers of the worldwide March for Science, which took place in April. The event’s manifesto declared that science needed to be recognised as a pillar of freedom and prosperity and called on politicians and legislators to enact evidence-based policies. “You know you’re in trouble when scientists take to the streets,” Kimmell wrote in The Observer newspaper a week before the march. “For a long time, many of us have believed that facts speak for themselves. The recent election [of Trump] and its aftermath have clearly triggered a dramatic re-evaluation of these norms. We have learned the hard way that we can’t take respect for facts and science for granted.” Without facts, without experts, “the truth is whatever the ruler says it is.” On 22 April, Earth Day, the March for Science held demonstrations in more than 500 cities worldwide. But while turnout was impressive, it’s questionable how many people its message reached who weren’t already sympathetic. An Inconvenient Truth was radical because, through facts and logic, it convinced a generation not already engaged with the conservation movement that they could – and must – make changes to protect the planet. The risk is that Gore’s sequel will only cement beliefs on both sides of the debate. One of the most alarming aspects of post-truth discourse is the accompanying vitriol. “There is a self-righteousness and fury to this new rejection of expertise that suggests, at least to me, that this isn’t just mistrust or questioning or the pursuit of alternatives,” writes Nichols in The Death of Expertise. “It is narcissism, coupled to a disdain for expertise as some sort of exercise in self-actualisation.” Nichols blames social media not just for amplifying the message, but for making people meaner. “Alone behind their keyboards, people argue rather than discuss, and insult rather than listen,” he writes. The internet was intended as a tool to aid discourse, but it has collapsed the communication between experts and laypeople by offering an apparent shortcut to erudition. “It allows people to J &
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mimic intellectual accomplishment by indulging in an illusion of expertise provided by a limitless supply of facts. And facts are not the same as knowledge or ability. On the internet, ‘facts’ are sometimes not even facts. In the various skirmishes in the campaigns against established knowledge, the internet is like artillery support: a constant bombardment of random, disconnected information that rains down on experts and ordinary citizens alike, deafening all of us while blowing up attempts at reasonable discussion.” If that sounds apocalyptic, well, it is. Nichols sees a post-truth society as heading inexorably downwards, until it undermines not just democracy, but may even pose existential threats to humanity itself. America is only the most visible example of global trends; similar effects are being seen across Europe, where Breitbart is keen to expand, as well as the Middle East, Asia and Africa. In South Africa in the 2000s, President Thabo Mbeki refuted the medical consensus that HIV causes Aids, steered in part by climate change denier Kary Mullis, and banned antiretroviral drugs in public hospitals. His actions are estimated to have caused the preventable deaths of around 350,000 people. The denial of facts and the rubbishing of experts became standard tactics during the Brexit campaign, most egregiously from Leave campaigner Michael Gove. “I think people in this country have had enough of experts,” said the Oxford graduate and former Tory minister, in response to economists and think-tanks who seemed pessimistic about a post-Europe British economy. Ukip’s Nigel Farage even hinted that independent experts weren’t so independent, but were rather funded by the government and EU – a view shared by Donald Trump, who tweeted in 2014 that “Any and all weather events are used by the global warming hoaxsters to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!” “Experts advise,” counters Nichols in his book. “Elected leaders decide.” We have a duty to democracy to seek out knowledge, not revel in ignorance. Without it, how can we hold our leaders to account? “This does not mean that every American must engage in deep study of policy, but if citizens do not bother to gain basic literacy in the issues that affect their lives, they abdicate control over those issues whether they like it or not. And when voters lose control of these important decisions, they risk the hijacking of their democracy by ignorant demagogues, or the more quiet and gradual decay of their democratic institutions into authoritarian technocracy.” Other concerned observers say that among the chatroom participants, talk radio hosts and post-truth bloggers, feelings have become more important than facts; if people think that medical vaccines are harmful or Barack Obama is a shape-shifter sent to destroy America, it is elitist to contradict them. According to James Traub, a member of not-for-profit US think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations, the stand-off has reached the point where it is time for the defenders of liberalism “to rise up against the ignorant masses”. In a piece for the US magazine Foreign Policy in 2016, Traub wrote: “It is necessary to say that 138 J &
people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude. Is that ‘elitist’? Maybe it is; maybe we have become so inclined to celebrate the authenticity of all personal conviction that it is now elitist to believe in reason, expertise and the lessons of history.” So how is this all going to pan out? As Gore tells it, 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth woke up millions to the scale of the problems. The size of the environmental movement has reached a critical mass that will produce what its members call a sustainable revolution, which he says will have as profoundly transformational an impact on society as the industrial and digital revolutions before it, sparking innovation in design, scientific discovery, technology, commerce, finance and conservation. “It has the scope of the industrial revolution and the speed of the digital revolution.” Nichols remains markedly less upbeat. In The Death of Expertise, he imagines a scenario in which democracy in the US, and by extension in any country, is overwhelmed by some as yet unforeseen calamity and replaced by full-blown dictatorship. “It may be a war or an economic collapse,” writes Nichols. “It may be in the emergence of an ignorant demagoguery, a process already underway in the United States and Europe, or the rise to power of a technocracy that finally runs out of patience and thus dispenses with voting as anything other than a formality. The creation of a vibrant intellectual and scientific culture in the West and in the United States required democracy and secular tolerance. Without such virtues, knowledge and progress fall prey to ideological, religious and populist attacks. Nations that have given in to such temptations have suffered any number of terrible fates, including mass repression, cultural and material poverty and defeat in war.” The bulwark against such outcomes is expertise. “We need a bipartisan movement of experts to get out there and stand up for expertise,” Nichols tells me. “To reclaim the role of the public intellectual and to relentlessly argue with the mob. There’s a great virtue in experts simply stepping forward and defending what they know is true.” The film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is out in the UK on 25 August paramountpictures.co.uk The book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters is out now global.oup.com
Photographs Klaus Thymann Styling Chris Tang Production Grace Lines Retoucher Ross Davenport Models Bernardo Dacal, Fernando Fernandez, Darío Ferreira, Johanes Rustige and Elmo Torres-Talamante Accommodation XscapeTulum, Mexico xscapetulum.com
Fernando wears shirt by J. Crew; shorts by J. Lindeberg; football by Adidas. DarĂo wears polo shirt by Kent & Curwen; shorts by Tracksmith. Johanes wears shirt by Tommy Hilfiger; shorts by Frescobol Carioca.
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Darío wears polo shirt by Baracuta; shorts by Ron Dorff; headband, model’s own.
Fernando wears cardigan, shorts, T-shirt, scarf and belt by Missoni. Elmo wears polo shirt and shorts by Orlebar Brown.
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Johanes wears shirt by APC; shorts by Penfield; hat by Pretty Green x Christysâ€™.
Fernando wears top and shorts by Tracksmith.
Bernardo wears top by
Tracksmith; shorts by Iffley Road.
Fernando wears top and shorts by Tracksmith. Elmo wears polo shirt by Sunspel; shorts by Frescobol Carioca.
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Fernando wears top and shorts by Tracksmith. Bernardo wears top by Ben Sherman; shorts by Iffley Road.
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Fernando wears jacket and trousers by C.P. Company; top by Paul & Shark. Bernardo wears polo shirt by
Corinthian; shorts by Stone Island.
Darío wears jacket by Woolrich; shorts by Frescobol Carioca. Elmo wears jacket by Paul & Shark; trousers by J Crew; top by Stone Island.
Elmo wears sweater by Stüssy; trousers by Edwin Jeans; hat by Lock & Co; sandals, model’s own. Darío wears jacket by Woolrich; shorts by Frescobol Carioca. Bernardo wears top by Corinthian. Fernando wears T-shirt by Gant Rugger; shorts by Iffley Road; hat by Lock & Co.
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Bernardo wears polo shirt by Corinthian; shorts by Stone Island.
Words Chris May Portrait Janette Beckman
He started out as a clown, but work quickly got more serious for the Danish actor, star of Borgen and Game of Thrones. But if it all gets too much, he still has a trick – he can make himself disappear.
e came to acting late and with no intention of making it his career. Unlike the other first-year students at the Danish National School of Theatre in 2004, most of whom already had years of drama tuition behind them, Pilou Asbæk had begun acting less than a year earlier, during his final year at high school. He had just turned 19 and was looking for a way to maximise the A grades in his graduation exams. Casting around for suitable, preferably undemanding, curriculum additions, he learnt that Ms Jakobsen, who taught his literature class, also took a drama class. As Jakobsen always gave him good grades for literature, and seemed to like him, Asbæk thought he might get lucky in her drama class, too. He was right, but hard work and aptitude were the deciders, not luck. Within a few weeks of starting the class, Asbæk knew where he wanted to go with his life. He auditioned for the Danish National School of Theatre, where he studied for four
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years. He left in 2008 and things happened fast for him. This time, luck was definitely a factor. During an otherwise mind-numbing gig as a clown in an amusement park, he met the film producer René Ezra at a co-performer’s birthday party. Ezra was in the process of casting a prison drama. Asbæk auditioned, and was given the lead hard-man role in R, playing a drug dealer’s bagman. The film was completed in 2010 and Asbæk won several awards for his performance, including the Danish Film Critics Association’s award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Asbæk’s good fortune did not stop there. On R, he met the writer/director Tobias Lindholm, who was developing a political drama series for Danish TV, to be called Borgen. Lindholm suggested that Asbæk audition for the part of Kasper Juul, the spin-doctor to the series’ protagonist. A massive hit in Denmark, where it was watched by around a third of the population, Borgen went on to make Asbæk an international name. Among his other collaborations with Lindholm are the neorealist-informed movies A Hijacking (2012) and A War (2015). Asbæk’s fame is set to increase further this year, playing Euron Greyjoy in series seven of Game of Thrones. Asbæk debuted the role in series six, in which Greyjoy was a minor character. “My contract says I’m not allowed to say anything about the new series,” says Asbæk. “They’re very
strict about that. But Euron Greyjoy is a great character and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the part is bigger in series seven. This is also the series in which two storylines are going to change.” Game of Thrones junkies will have to wait for more details until the series is screened, based as it is on George R.R. Martin’s yet to be published A Dream of Spring, the seventh volume in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga. It all seems a long way away from Ms Jakobsen’s class at Herlufsholm, a boarding school-cumcollege an hour’s drive south of Copenhagen. Founded in 1565, and big on tradition, Herlufsholm is the only school in Denmark with a compulsory uniform. Rules are strict and students work a ten-day week followed by a three-day weekend. “Thank god it was co-educational,” says Asbæk. “But I loved it so much. Not the first six months though. I come from a very creative, artistic, liberal, free-spirit family. Then all of a sudden being at this school where there was a hierarchy and a serious attitude, I felt like kind of a rebel.” Asbæk’s parents were, and still are, prominent gallerists in Denmark, and he was brought up in an artistic milieu surrounded by painters, poets and counterculturists. Herlufsholm seems a strange choice for his parents to have made, but parental ambition often crosses societal boundaries. “Though they were very creative
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A s b æ k A Hijacking, 2012 Still courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
people themselves,” says Asbæk, “they didn’t want their children to be artists. They wanted them to be lawyers or doctors or something in the shipping industry. A ‘real job’. My parents knew the struggle involved in being an artist or performer. They knew so many great painters whose lives had not been fulfilled because of competition and the high incidence of failure. It was not until recently that my dad said, ‘I see it’s going well, so OK, I’m happy you chose acting.’ Before then, he wasn’t unsupportive but he didn’t really care.” Asbæk’s partner is the playwright Anna Bro. The couple have been together since 2008 and have a daughter, Agnes, who was born in 2012. I ask Asbæk whether, given his experience with his own parents, he would support Agnes’s wish if she grew up and decided to become an actor. “I think I would support her,” he says after a lengthy pause. “I would tell her all the wonderful things about the job but also make her understand that there is a lot of struggle and it’s only a small, small, small group of people who actually have enough success to be able to live well. When I joined the National School of Theatre, I thought I was destined to be the new Hamlet. Every drama student imagines they’re going to go out and revolutionise Shakespeare and I thought I was god’s gift to acting. And then in 2008 I became a clown in an amusement park outside Copenhagen. That was my first professional job. And you think, is this what I’ve been working towards for four years?” But the clowning led to the fateful meeting with René Ezra. “He asked me if I could recommend anyone for the lead in his movie,” says Asbæk. “And because I’d been raised with very good manners – always pouring wine for others before myself, opening doors for people – I recommended everyone else but me. And René said, ‘You’re the first actor I’ve ever met who didn’t push himself to the front of the queue. I want to see you audition.’ Three days later I did probably the worst audition in history. It was terrible. But they gave me a second shot because they could see something.
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it out. As it happened, having a female lead proved to be a winner. But I think if you do start trying to second-guess audiences, that’s when you will start making crappy work.” One of the great strengths of Borgen is the layered interpretation Asbæk brings to his character, the cynical and manipulative Kasper Juul. At times, I tell him, he almost made Juul seem like a good guy. “Actually, I think all my characters are good guys,” says Asbæk. “I try to find the human heart inside every one of them. Right now we’re creating a society, with Twitter and so on, where everything is either totally good or totally bad, black or white. But humanity is more complex than that – there are not 50 but hundreds of shades of grey. You can’t say that Putin is all bad, or that Trump is all bad, there must be some part of them which is good. My job is to find those hidden aspects, not just the dominant, more apparent ones that may be dark. I love to see actors who project the full spectrum of their character.” Despite its success, Asbæk left Borgen midway through the filming of the final series. Having played Juul as a spin doctor during the first two seasons, he was disenchanted with the decision to turn the character
And I was fucking up again. I knew I was losing any chance of getting the part. So in the middle of the improvisation I picked up this potato peeler, pushed my intended co-star up against a wall, knocked his glasses off, made like I was holding a knife to his throat and said, ‘Give me the fucking money or you’re dead.’ And I got the role.” R was not Asbæk’s first film to be released, but it was the one that established him in the Danish film world. It was Borgen, though, that made him a global name. The programme, which was screened over three series in Denmark between autumn 2010 and spring 2013, was soon roller-coasting across other territories. At the last count it has been been sold to 120 different TV stations across the world. With hindsight, Borgen’s success seems inevitable. But Asbæk remembers that no-one involved in the production had any inkling of what was to come. “I can say that with 100 per cent confidence,” he says. “When we started making Borgen, The Killing [the murder series starring Sofie Gråbøl as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund] was getting massive reviews overseas. It took the UK and other places by storm. So I asked Camilla Hammerich, the producer on Borgen, ‘Is that going to happen with us?’ She laughed and said, ‘Pilou, this is about Danish politics and it has a female lead. It’s never, ever going to happen overseas.’ It just goes to show how unpredictable this industry is. Game of Thrones Photograph Helen Sloan/HBO Even the experts can’t figure
into a journalist. Instead, he accepted a part in Thor Bjørn Krebs’ The Baroness, a stage play about the Danish writer Karen Blixen. Asbæk once said he regretted leaving Borgen and described the theatre work that followed it as “ego projects”. He has a more nuanced view today. “I really meant I didn’t know what I had in Borgen,” says Asbæk. “But when they told me the synopsis for the third season, I felt that would be extremely boring. There was no reason to carry on other than to take the money. So, after long discussions with the production team, I quit. I did some theatre instead, because I’d had this teacher at theatre school who told me, ‘If you want to be famous, do TV; if you want be rich, do movies; if you want to be a better actor, do theatre.’ And there’s some truth in that. I hadn’t done any theatre for three or four years when I was offered The Baroness. In the cast was Karen-Lise Mynster, the biggest actress alive in Denmark. I felt that by working alongside her I could kind of get one-on-one lessons.” The play ran for six months, during which Asbæk learnt as much as he had in four years at the National School of Theatre. Asbæk says he enjoys alternating film and TV work with less well-paid stage projects, because an actor needs to find new situations and fresh challenges if he is to grow. Right now, though, he
Borgen Photograph Mike Kollöffel, DR
Asbæk returned to movies, and to Lindholm, right after the run of The Baroness ended, in A Hijacking, playing a ship’s cook taken hostage by Somalian pirates. In 2015, the team reunited with A War, in which
My job is to find those hidden aspects, not just the dominant, more apparent ones that may be dark. is involved in so much screen work that theatre is not an immediate prospect. Does he fancy a crack at Hamlet some time or does he reach for a gun every time that particular piece of tourist-bait is mentioned, great play though it might be? “It would be interesting to do Hamlet at some point,” says Asbæk. “It’s one of those big nuts you want to crack, but for a Danish actor I suppose it is a bit of cliché. I would rather do Molière’s The Misanthrope to be honest. I would rather do Molière or Chekhov because I connect more with those guys. I think The Misanthrope is incredible because Alceste [the protagonist] is a guy in some discomfort, he’s not black and white, there’s always a bit of bitterness, of evil, and I like that in roles. And Chekhov for me is the psychological champion.”
Ben-Hur, 2016 Still © 2016 Paramount Pictures and Metro-GoldwynMayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved
Asbæk plays a soldier fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan who is accused of committing a war crime. While the pair’s first collaboration, R, had been shot in a Dogme 95 style, A Hijacking and A War give hefty nods to Italian neorealist tradition, employing ‘ordinary’ people alongside professional actors. In A War, Asbæk worked alongside soldiers who had actually fought in Afghanistan. Known for his pacifist beliefs, did the experience in any way recalibrate Asbæk’s opinions about the military? “Before doing A War my sympathy for the military was zero,” says Asbæk. “And then I met these guys and they explained to me why they had made the decision to be soldiers and why they had chosen to fight for democracy. We could engage in a philosophical discussion about the contradictions in that for hours – you remember that saying from the Vietnam war, ‘Going to war for peace is like fucking for virginity’? But it was fascinating to get to know these young soldiers who
were fighting to create a better society for all Afghan civilians. Some of them became very, very good friends, people I continue to see. I still think that war is shit, but I now have so much respect for the soldiers on the ground. And in A Hijacking, which we shot off the Kenyan coast, not so far from Somalia, some of the actors had actually been hijacked in real life and the boat we were using had once been captured by pirates. We had four armed guards on the boat keeping a watch out all the time. It was surreal and sometimes quite frightening, but I’m happy we did it that way. It gave so much authenticity to the film. “In situations like those you have to up your game. It requires you to do your best. Because your fellow actors know how it was in real life, and they’re going to react by instinct, act natural. You have to be extremely well prepared when you’re working with real soldiers or real hijacking survivors, much more than when you’re part of an all-professional cast. It gives your performance an extra edge.” Between A Hijacking and A War, Asbæk caused controversy in the acting world by accepting an invitation to be one of the three Danish anchors on the 2014 edition of Eurovision. There were snipes about vulgarism and about greed. Asbæk denies both charges. “The money was OK, but I didn’t need it,” he says. “Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s a show that we all watch, and laugh along with, and I wanted to do something lighthearted for a change. I’d been playing all these guys who’d been molested or hijacked or killed and I thought it was time to turn everything upside down. Doing it was hysterical. It was a crazy week and I loved it. It’s got 200 million viewers worldwide and is the biggest party in the world, and I’ve never said no to a party. It was a really strange experience and some of it is in extremely bad taste. But the essence of it is Europe coming together to celebrate music. That’s kind of beautiful.” A household name in Denmark long before Eurovision, Asbæk’s profile rose even higher with
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A s b æ k Ghost in the Shell, 2017 Still © 2016 Paramount Pictures. All rights resevered
Denmark is a small country, it seems like everybody knows each other. If you act like an arse, they all know about it the next day. the show. It will rise again with series seven of Game of Thrones. Asbæk has become bored, he says, by being recognised on the street, though he accepts this comes with the territory and he generally goes along with selfie requests with good grace. “Fame is like a mistress,” says Asbæk. “It’s interesting and it can be very seductive, but it’s also dangerous. If you let it, it will stop you staying grounded and you may end up deluded or a monster or both. I don’t want to let it influence me or my wife or my daughter. I’m a very private person and it does intrude. It’s important to me to keep grounded. So I’ve learnt how to walk the streets without anyone noticing me. That’s one of the skills I’ve got, that I can disappear. I’ve learnt how to blend into the background. It’s a little switch I can turn on and off.” Asbæk’s downtime is spent entirely with his partner and daughter. “When I’m not working, I’m with my family and we do ordinary family stuff,” says Asbæk. “I try to be as good and as present a husband and father as possible. I try to avoid doing anything that is ‘glamorous’. And you
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have to remember that Denmark is a small country, it seems like everybody knows each other. If you act like an arse, they all know about it the next day. So if you get your head in the sky they’re going to pull you down. Which you may need sometimes – and I can always rely on Anna to do that. The size of the country is quite a civilising force, it stops you misbehaving or taking on airs. And there’s no reason to take on airs. As an actor, you’re just giving people some entertainment for a couple of hours. It’s not like you’re a brain surgeon
or something. Actors sometimes think they’re the centre of the universe. I know I’m not. “In the last two years, I’ve been based on three different continents – Europe, Asia, America. For me, if I can’t take my family with me when I’m filming, I don’t do the project. It’s manageable now, because of Agnes’s age. She will have to start school soon and travelling will become an issue. I’ve had long discussions with Anna about it. But I’m thinking, what’s the best way to learn about life? I think it’s by experiencing it. The world is becoming more and more international and interconnected, and travel helps you understand that.” Asbæk is only prepared to take this internationalism a certain distance, however. “People keep asking me why we haven’t moved to Los Angeles,” he says. “Well, I don’t want to move to America or anywhere else. I’m always going to be a Dane in America or a Dane in the UK. I’m never going to be a British actor or an American actor. I’m very happy to be a Danish actor because what I represent is this little piece of the earth and it’s unique and important to me. It is who I am.” Series seven of Game of Thrones is out on HBO and Sky Atlantic from 16 July hbo.com sky.com
Lucy, 2014 Still courtesy of Universal Pictures
Sandqvist UK Flagship Store | Soho, London | 79 Berwick Street
Jerusalem Words Andy Thomas Photographs Shiri Rozenberg and Yahav Yaakov
Jerusalem is one of the world’s oldest tourist hotspots. As far back as the Middle Ages, guidebooks for pilgrims highlighted religious sites on the way to the Holy Land. And the old city – with its Temple Mount, Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock and ancient souks – remains a powerful experience for any first-time visitor. But it doesn’t take long to discover an inspiring and creative contemporary metropolis. Despite the obvious divisions and ongoing frictions, people are brought together through music, art, dance, design and food. Alongside the old religious sites you will find buildings such as the Bauhaus-style Bonem House and the postmodern Supreme Court. And soon Daniel Libeskind’s pyramid-shaped skyscraper will add to the changing skyline. It will rise above the neighbouring Machane Yehuda market (known locally as the Shuk), one of Jerusalem’s lively areas and home to the famous Machneyuda restaurant. It’s the way that the ancient and modern traditions are combining that makes Jerusalem so exciting right now. And this is perhaps most evident in the city’s culinary scene. It was the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi (from the Jewish west of the city) and Sami Tamimi (from the Muslim east) that introduced the world to the diversity of the food here. And now exciting new restaurants such as Talbiye, Yudale and Mona are bringing the city’s culinary fusion into the 21st century. But it’s not just food that is bringing people together. In November 2014, over 2,000 young people from all sides of the city gathered near downtown Jerusalem for a massive street party. Coordinated by two Arabs and one Jew from the Hebrew University and supported by the Jerusalem Foundation, the Simply Singing initiative united Jews and Arabs through shared cultural events. As well as performers singing in both Hebrew and Arabic, the event featured a food truck where Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli chefs created fusion dishes, as well as Arab and Jewish DJ collaborations in the downtown bars. And just last year a new festival called Mekudeshet was set up to explore Jerusalem’s complex layers with a number of cross-cultural events. Add in underground music collectives such as Raash Hour and you have a party scene that is ripe for discovery. Jerusalem is also home to a thriving art scene – from polished galleries such as Rosenbach Contemporary on King David Street to the Agripas 12 cooperative in the bustling downtown area. The alleyways around downtown are also adorned with street art, often with a social message, such as the graffiti created by Banksy on the West Bank wall near his newly opened Walled Off hotel. But there is also another West Bank, one where tech start-ups in East Jerusalem are emerging to grasp the tools of the future. And while Jerusalemites wait for a solution for peace, the city’s creative scene offers an alternative space for people to come together.
Photograph Shiri Rozenberg
M e t r o p o l i t a n
Mikael Berkowitsch owns HaMazkeka, a vibrant bar and music venue he runs with Dafna Cohen and Ofer Tisser in an atmospheric alley off the main Jaffa Road in the city centre. HaMazkeka opened in 2014 after Berkowitsch visited John Zorn’s avant-garde music venue, the Stone, in New York’s East Village. “I felt there was a vacuum in Jerusalem for a space which allows artists from all backgrounds and genres to experiment and perform on a professional stage with a friendly atmosphere,” he says. “Jerusalem is home for a variety of people from eclectic backgrounds and cultures, giving rise to a rich alternative scene. But the divides between communities make it hard to reach a vast audience. So I decided to establish a venue that could do that.” As a non-profit, they make it affordable for the artists and the audience. “One of our goals is to
collaborate with local art schools and give students and young artists a place where they can learn, experiment and express themselves,” says Berkowitsch. A quick glance at their programme reveals how diverse the city’s creative scene is. “We are looking for anything ‘off the grid’, from experimental jazz, through hip-hop and rock,” says Tisser. “We are not interested in a specific genre but we are looking for talent, creativity, innovation and imagination. And that includes DJs like Markey Funk, Amit Stark, Gilli Tha Kid, Ilia Gorovitz and Feller as well as bands such as Hynom, the Turbans and Mujahideen.” “It is very important for us that HaMazkeka is a home for people, no matter their background, religion or culture,” says Berkowitsch. “We host Arab musicians, joint Israel-Palestinian bands, and we have an ongoing party called Monolingua, which
hosts contemporary Arab music from the middle-east with DJs and MCs from both East and West Jerusalem.” How do the tensions in the city influence the creativity? “Jerusalem is composed of so many different groups, beliefs and contradictions, it’s fascinating to see how they sometimes integrate and sometimes clash,” says Cohen. “The tension has a major effect on the creation. It feels that everything is more extreme and experimental. And it’s crucial for us to try and bring music and art together and to present different sounds of love and togetherness.” mazkeka.com J &
P R E T T YG R E E N . CO M J A P A N / A O YA M A / S H I N J U K U M A R U I M E N / V E N U S F O R T / N A G O YA P A R C O / O S A K A / S A P P O R O P A R C O / F U K U O K A P A R C O U K / L O N D O N / M A N C H E S T E R / L I V E R P O O L / S H E F F I E L D / N OT T I N G H A M / N E W C A S T L E / B R I G H TO N / C A R D I F F / E D I N B U R G H / G L A S G OW / L E E D S / B I R M I N G H A M
M e t r o p o l i t a n Ofra Idel is co-founder of Machol Shalem (aka Mash), the leading dance organisation in Jerusalem. After studying at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, she started dancing with professional companies until she founded Machol Shalem with Ruby Edelman in 2002. The centre is based in the Musrara neighbourhood, an area that provides both opportunities and challenges for the organisation. “Musrara is a very complex and diverse place and has a wealth of populations with varied needs,” says Idel. “It’s on the seam line between the eastern and western parts of the city, between new Jerusalem and the Old City. In the last few years there’s a significant percentage of very religious Haredi Jews here and so there are tensions and dynamic changes in the power structure that also affect the cultural organisations active in the area. “We believe that the way to try and heal the rift is through art, joint programmes, getting to know each other, and being familiar with different lifestyles and opinions,” says Idel. “For example we’re developing a platform for religious and Haredi women artists.” The various youth projects that Mash runs, such as those in conjunction with the Jerusalem Foundation and Jerusalem International YMCA, are also central to the bridge building. “Teens aged 14 to
The way to heal the rift is through art, joint programmes, being familiar with different lifestyles and opinions. 17 from the eastern and western parts of the city came to the YMCA and Machol Shalem and we ran a joint performing arts programme,” says Idel. “Friends put political conflicts aside and got along even during the waves of terrorism. One of the most moving events was a Friday night dinner where the Jewish teens brought kosher food from home and made kiddush, while the Arab teens brought food from their homes and talked about customs from the Muslim and Christian worlds. During those two hours an entire world of acceptance and inclusion was created – a world that is contrary to what takes place so often in Jerusalem.” As for the dance scene in the city more generally, Idel sees many positive signs. “The Jerusalem dance scene is growing. There are more academy graduates who are staying in the city and that’s a great start for building a community,” she says. “Jerusalem is also becoming known in the
international scene. Foreign artists are clamouring to come to Jerusalem and we’re trying to create a variety of platforms so that more of them can.” What makes Jerusalem such an inspiring place? “It’s a very intense mix of power relations, beliefs, opinions and faiths,” she says. “In certain ways it’s a city that’s very cosmopolitan, yet in other ways it’s very conservative and archaic. People here carry a heavy weight on their backs, but they’re trying to make the city a modern place where you can have entertainment and cutting-edge, high-quality culture. It’s fascinating to see these things intermingle.” macholshalem.org.il
Photograph Shiri Rozenberg
Yuval Baer and Galit ShifmanNathan set up YBGSNA less than 10 years ago,
and it is now one of the leading architectural firms in Jerusalem. The two architects bonded through a love of the great European modernists. “The most inspirational architect for me is always Mies van der Rohe,” says Baer. “Though since I function in an imperfect world I find comfort in the works of Le Corbusier, Adolf Loos, John Hejduk and Raimund Abraham.” How would Baer describe the Jerusalem architecture scene? “Extremely conservative and demanding,” he says. “But we always try to respect the past and the context; if possible we try to challenge the obvious. We have had some victories, but it doesn’t come easily here.” One of their greatest victories is the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, in construction at the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus. “This is not an ordinary Jerusalem building but one that is attentive to tradition while introducing unprecedented architectural themes
and technology,” says Shifman-Nathan. A collaboration with Foster and Partners, the building’s perforated aluminium screen is based on a pattern derived from the structure of the brain. It’s a bold design in a city where tradition often holds back progression. “Many talented architects fail while trying to express something new in the city,” says Baer. “This is what we often call the ‘Jerusalem Syndrome’. You could say the awe often paralyses.” To address the challenges, Baer and Shifman-Nathan work with a team of progressive architects drawn from across Jerusalem society. “We have a pretty diverse range of staff from different backgrounds and origins which allows us to step out of the mould,” says Shifman-Nathan. YBGSNA is also working with Foster and Partners on the Einstein Museum in the city. This spherical building will have an amphitheatre at its centre focused on a bed of gyroscopic mirrors that rotate and reflect sunlight to produce light shows above the museum. The sphere will be visible from most parts of the city and, alongside Daniel Libeskind’s
pyramid-shaped skyscraper, will be one of Jerusalem’s most striking modern buildings. “This building is not a monument, but it has a contemporary monumental presence,” says Shifman-Nathan. As well as these large statement buildings, the firm also works on small-scale projects such as a boutique hotel on Hanevi’im Street. “It’s a historical building with a funky twist in its interior, infusing Jerusalem with a different kind of energy,” says Baer. For the two architects, that new energy is best experienced around the old Machane Yehuda market. “No one planned it but the old Shuk is one of the most hot, young and vibrant environments in the entire city,” says Shifman-Nathan. ybgsna.com
Photograph Shiri Rozenberg
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M e t r o p o l i t a n Photograph Yahav Yaakov
Uri Navon is co-owner of Machneyuda, the award-winning restaurant that has revolutionised the city’s culinary scene. It was eight years ago that Navon and Assaf Granit, fellow chef on the Iron Chef TV show, joined forces with Yossi Elad to open their restaurant on the edge of the famous Machane Yehuda market. The company now has five other restaurants in Jerusalem as well as the Palomar and the Barbary in London. “The idea of Machneyuda came about through the long nights of cooking new and exciting stuff on Iron Chef,” says Navon. “We wanted to create a cool restaurant that would feel like a home away from home, not only for us but for everyone who walks through the door.” They set out to find a space that would be suitable for the kind of laid-back yet riotous restaurant they envisaged. “The building had an old rugged pub in it, and when we heard
that the owner was thinking of quitting we jumped at the opportunity,” says Navon. “The location really inspired us. When you go to the Machane Yehuda market, you can’t remain indifferent to new smells and colours. The market changes daily and that dictates the character of the menu as we roam around searching for the best produce. But we don’t think about seasonal any more because it has become second nature. We just cook what we see.” How would Navon describe their approach to cooking? “It’s happy food – that’s it. We took some of our heritage cuisines and twisted them to the point where they became hip and cool. With a lot of respect to the origin it came from, we manage to keep it familiar yet innovative.” Their innovative signature dishes (perhaps the most famous being shikshukit – tahini, yoghurt and ground kebab) are also inspired by the food the chefs were raised on. “Basically
Come with an open mind and forget everything you think you know about Israel, Jerusalem and the cuisine.
it’s a mixture of everybody’s grandmother’s kitchens,” says Navon. “Jerusalem food is a melting pot of so many different cultures and heritages including Moroccan, Russian, Kurdish and even Yemenite.” The loud and chaotic club-like atmosphere and laid-back design are almost as important as the food. “On the first day we opened the door, it felt like it had been there for ages. That’s the secret,” says Navon. “The chairs don’t match each other, nor do the plates and cutlery. And the kitchen is open in a way that you can see and hear everything going on in there. So there’s this great interaction between our guests and the incredible team we have. It really feels like family.” So as well as sampling the menu and perhaps dancing on a table at Machneyuda, what else would Navon suggest visitors do? “Come with an open mind and forget everything you think you know about Israel, Jerusalem and the cuisine here,” he says. “The nightlife of Jerusalem has a lot to offer as well. The Machane Yehuda morning market changes in the evenings and becomes a bustling bar area as the old city labyrinth offers an almost out-of-body experience.” machneyuda.co.il J &
M e t r o p o l i t a n
Photograph Shiri Rozenberg
Markey Funk is a DJ, producer and
crate-digger who has helped expose the city’s groove and breaks scene with two LPs and mixes for Coldcut’s Solid Steel Radio Show. His latest Solid Steel mix, taking in everything from Giallo soundtracks by Goblin to early electronics by Aminadav Aloni, coincided with the release of his second album, Instinct: A Study on Tension, Fear and Anxiety. Released on the Kudos label, its eclectic blend was inspired by years of digging for rare and esoteric records. “My love of vinyl began with my father’s record collection, which consisted of Soviet and Eastern European jazz, ’60s and ’70s rock, and a lot of classical, baroque and medieval music,” he says. Markey moved to Jerusalem from Minsk with his family at the age of 16. “About a year after we relocated here, the Second Intifada broke out, so the place was really quite heavy, dark and not so welcoming,” he says. “But what surprised me was that even in dark periods like this, when nobody could be sure what tomorrow would bring, there was an incredible burst of creativity. The daily reality of regular terrorist attacks required a radical escape, found in underground techno raves, weekly multilingual rap cyphers, and edgy electronic music.” This was the time of independent labels such as Fact Records and Ak Duck, and record shops such as Balance and Prozak. “These were not only places for digging but also the meeting points for local artists, where they could share demos and distribute DIY releases,” says Markey. “This is where I met
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Even in dark periods like this, when nobody could be sure what tomorrow would bring, there was an incredible burst of creativity. people that later left a major impact on my development as an artist and DJ.” How would Markey describe the Jerusalem music scene? “I’d call it a community rather than a scene,” he says. “Jerusalem has the highest number of art schools, colleges and academies in the country, which sets a perfect environment for experimentation. In the last few years the Raash Hour collective has been developing the current sound of the city, mixing global psychedelia, bass-heavy beats and dark, edgy electronica.” You can hear it in the music of Hynom, Tisser and Ilia Gorovitz, as well as sets by Gilli Tha Kid, Sigi Smalls and Tali Ben Itzhak. “These guys reflect
all the complexity and tensions of life in this place,” says Markey. As does Markey’s music, particularly in his latest LP. “I wanted to explore the nature of human fears through music and sound,” he says. “It’s a combination of the heavy, uncompromising vibe of the regular Headz parties held by my Raash Hour peers and the heavy tense atmosphere in Jerusalem during the last war in Gaza.” As well as the Raash Hour events, what other parties should people check out? “I’m most likely to be seen at the pub Sira. Even in the darkest years of the Second Intifada this was probably the only place where Israelis, Palestinians and tourists could go out, have a drink together and feel safe,” he says. “Another place that puts plenty of focus on cultural dialogue between Jewish and Arabic artists and audiences is HaMazkeka, where I also play. I’d also recommend Monolingua – an Arab club night hosted by DJ Ramzi that bring together massive mixed crowds of Israelis and Palestinians under the message of love, unity and fun.” markeyfunk.bandcamp.com
Photographs Armando Ferrari Words Edward Moore
Glasgow Roller Derby
Fast, furious and all-female, theirs is a grassroots sport based on DIY principles and strong camaraderie, with a rockabilly style and punk attitude to boot.
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The sport is now global and even under consideration for the 2020 Olympics.
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The rules of roller derby are comparatively simple – players skate round an oval track and attempt to lap each other. Each time they do, they earn points. To stop each other, they deploy force. It sounds easy enough, but the game has a complex history. Founded in the 1930s by an events promoter called Leo Seltzer, the sport tapped into a US roller-skating boom; at the time, 93 per cent of Americans had worn skates at some point in their lives. It grew quickly – within 30 years, 15 million people tuned in to watch matches each week – but then collapsed in the 1970s when the petrol crisis made it difficult for players to travel. Sporadic revivals followed and the game warped into ‘sports entertainment’, more akin to professional wrestling: falls were exaggerated and matches played out to ludicrous storylines. One iteration even featured a pit of live alligators. But in the 2000s, after a male promoter in Austin, Texas, attempted to set up an all-female team, he fell out with the women he recruited and they launched their own league instead. The sport has since kept some elements from its broadcast days – rockabilly outfits and stage names – but the emphasis is on competition. The sport is now global and even under
consideration for the 2020 Olympics. Glasgow Roller Derby was launched in 2007 as the first league in Scotland and the fourth in the UK. “It’s funded on DIY principles,” says Sarah McMillan of the Glasgow Roller Girls. “Everything goes through the skaters. It’s not a top-down organisation but very much grassroots. By the skaters, for the skaters; it’s their tagline, I suppose. As long as we keep that DIY aspect to it then it will be our sport, our decisions, our rules. That’s what is so unique about it.” Glaswegian photographer Armando Ferrari, who has captured grassroots sports including amateur boxing and motorcycle speedway, heard about the Roller Girls through a friend of a friend. “I was looking to do a project about strong female personalities and perspectives within sport,” he says. “What’s great about this is that it’s not a girl’s version of a boy’s sport. They just love doing their own thing and
Bernie McCann, aka Killer Bee
By the skaters, for the skaters; it’s their tagline, I suppose.
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Lindsey ‘Haberbashery’ Watson
aren’t bothered about whether or not you buy into it.” After Drew Barrymore’s roller derby film Whip It came out in 2009, the sport went mainstream. Starring Ellen Page and Juliette Lewis, it depicted the alternative appeal of the sport, with its roller names – Babe Ruthless, Smashley Simpson, Iron Maven – and punk style, as well as the sisterhood and camaraderie. “The film came along a couple of years into me playing roller derby,” says McMillan. “It gave me goose bumps. Even though the gameplay is rubbish, it was about the relationships. You get somebody who is Juliette Lewis’s age hanging out with Ellen Page. I’m 42 and really good friends with my team captain who is 20. It doesn’t mean anything, which is wonderful. Whoever you are, it just doesn’t matter.” glasgowrollerderby.com
Henley by North Sea Clothing; trousers by Margaret Howell; hat by Lock & Co.
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Shoreham-by-Sea Photographs David Goldman Styling Chris Tang Grooming Jon Redman using Bumble and Bumble Model Dan Kennedy
Henley by Ron Dorff. J &
Henley by John Smedley; suit and hat by Emporio Armani; sunglasses by Oliver Peoples; watch by Oris.
Henley by Bruta; coat by Jil Sander; trousers and shoes by Acne Studios; hat by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture.
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Henley by Merz B. Schwanen from Son of a Stag; jacket by Lewis Leathers; trousers by Oliver Spencer; boots by Red Wing Shoes; belt by Margaret Howell; watch by Salvatore Ferragamo.
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Henley and jeans by Leviâ€™s Vintage Clothing; jacket by APC; shoes by Helbers; sunglasses by Persol; watch by Raymond Weil.
Binker and Moses
Journey To The Mountain Of Forever
Extraordinary new LP, CD and digital album out now at gearboxrecords.com and all good shops
Photograph Dean Chalkley Words Errol Anderson ‘Home’ is an evolving idea for poet, playwright and graphic artist Inua Ellams. The 32-year-old was born in Nigeria, moved to London at 12, then to Dublin, where he was the only black boy in his school. “My father’s mother is a Hausa, a nomadic people that travelled across North Africa and down to Nigeria,” says Ellams. “That blood is still in my veins.” He returned to London without money or the right to work, but poetry was free and its success led him to theatre. His latest play, Barber Shop Chronicles, was inspired by a charity in Sierra Leone that addresses sexual and mental health issues through barber shops. “Barbers can just listen to men talking,” says Ellams. “Because there’s that moment of vulnerability, they’re best prepared to give good advice.” The play offers insights for those both within and outside the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. Like Ellams’ other work, it bristles with hip-hop inflected dynamism and vividly portrays the black experience, often autobiographically. Barber Shop Chronicles runs at the National Theatre, London, until 8 July nationaltheatre.org.uk inuaellams.com J &
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Photograph Janette Beckman Words Tom Banham “I want to make an album in a month,” says Nick Hakim. It’s an ambitious aim, considering that his debut, Green Twins – which sounds like a half-remembered dream in which J. Dilla manned the desk for Al Green’s Back Up Train – took three years to finesse. Every track on the album began life as one of thousands of sketches, recorded at home when aimlessly strummed chords, or a loose beat, suddenly snapped into focus. “I’ll set up a mic and an instrumental and just start improvising on top, then I’ll listen back and be like, oh, that was nice,” he says. “I’m not thinking about anything, it’s like I’m on autopilot.” 176 J &
It helps that Hakim noodles better than most. Despite not taking up piano until his teens, the self-taught student won a place at Boston’s elite Berklee College of Music, where he wrote and recorded his double-EP Where Will We Go. He moved to New York in 2013 and split his time between restaurant jobs, whatever gigs he could get, and weekends manning the desk at Brooklyn’s Human Head record store. “They had a lot of really crazy soul and jazz records that I’d never heard of,” says Hakim. These were collected by owner Travis Klein, who would leave Hakim in charge at weekends
while he scoured the record fairs in Philadelphia and Connecticut. Exposure to these oddities pushed his sound into stranger waters. “It was fun, but it definitely had an impact on what influenced the record.” As did his struggles breaking into his new home’s music scene. “I had a lot of friends in Boston, and in DC where I grew up,” says Hakim. In New York, he’d play gigs and meet people, only to see messages go unanswered. “It was a big shift. New York was exciting, but it was difficult.” That sense of disconnection bubbles through the album. “If I had it my way,” he sings on the title track, “We would’ve stayed where we started.” Luckily for us, he didn’t. The album Green Twins is out now atorecords.com
Photograph Vanni Bassetti Words Edward Moore Hailing from the Malian city of Bamako, singer Oumou Sangaré combines music from her Peul/ Wassoulou heritage with feminist lyrics. Since her debut record Moussolou (“Women”), she has been railing against customs such as arranged marriages, polygamy and the selling of brides. Sangaré’s take on women’s issues, particularly polygamy, comes from personal experience. Aged two, her father fled from the family with a second wife to the Ivory Coast. He abandoned her mother, who was pregnant at the time and left to raise the family on the money she earned as a singer at weddings and baptisms. Sangaré took to singing from a young age and soon found herself in demand. In her teens, she began performing in well-regarded groups such as Djoliba Percussions and received tuition from the famed composer Amadou Ba Guindo. She eventually decided to become a full-time singer to help her mother earn money. “She has always been a motivation and a light to my way,” says Sangaré. “I left school when I became a young star for the people in Mali. I started earning a good salary and my priority was to keep my family in a good condition.” Her latest album, Mogoya (“People Today”), explores relationship issues such as jealousy and betrayal. “There is not so much love nowadays,” she says. “People are running crazy. We are in danger of losing our sense of humanity. There is only war around. If love was there, we would not think
about just fighting each other and would advance in a different direction. In my album, I talk about it because I’m still optimistic after all this. I think if we give it visibility and we all talk about it, things may change.” With production by the French collective Albert – which has worked with Franz Ferdinand, Beck and Charlotte Gainsbourg among others – Mogoya has a modern edge. Also featured is Afrobeat pioneer, drummer Tony Allen. “We love working together,”
says Sangaré. “I composed the track ‘Fadjamou’ thinking on an Afrobeat rhythm. At the time of working on drums for the song, it was just clear I wanted Tony to play it. The song is fast and he delivered. This man is a genius.” Oumou Sangaré’s album Mogoya is out now noformat.net
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Douglas Brothers Photograph Phil Knott Words Tom Banham
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Photography has long struggled with how to separate the commercial and the artistic. For British duo the Douglas Brothers, the easiest way to navigate that tension was to ignore it entirely. “We found that no matter how we tried to rationalise or justify any particular position or standpoint, the parameters just kept moving,” says Stuart Douglas, who along with brother Andrew spent a decade creating portraits that celebrated shadow and blur. They shot famous names such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Salman Rushdie using archaic techniques, and booked international ad campaigns by demanding that clients trust their vision implicitly. They used natural light and worked quickly, one manning the large format camera at the front, the other circling with a handheld to capture candid moments. “We were looking for something surprising, in terms of both the subject’s expression
and in composition,” says Andrew. Among their most striking portraits is one of Tilda Swinton. “I was so fascinated by her face and her presence that I continued to shoot until the publicist politely pulled her away,” says Andrew. “When we processed the film, we had taken roll after roll of the same shot, the same framing, the same enigmatic expression. I didn’t want her to leave.” In 1996, the brothers called time on the partnership, both swapping stills for film. They locked up the work in a storage unit in London’s King’s Cross with no intention of resurrecting it. But last year their longtime agent received a call informing him of the imminent
Photograph Phil Knott Words Tom Banham With the rise of Donald Trump, the producers of Veep faced a quandary. They had spent five seasons satirising the American political class by exploring vice-president Selina Meyer’s lust for and loss of power. Now they were faced with a real-life president who was so venal and arrogant they would have rejected him as a character because he felt too far-fetched. So how do you satirise a presidency that does that job itself? “The whole last campaign and election cycle, into this new administration, is blowing the doors off comedy,” says Reid Scott, who plays Meyer’s Machiavellian aide,
Dan Egan. “The hardest thing to do is to try and top it.” The smart move? Don’t try. Instead, the show’s sixth season sets its sights on a less self-parodic target – network news. Egan is now a smarmy morning anchor, happy to manipulate his former colleagues for better ratings. Veep, like its British progenitor The Thick of It, has always targeted types rather than events: the flip-flopping politician; the foul-mouthed press secretary. “We’ve never been a ripped-fromthe-headlines kind of show,” says Scott. “More massaged-from-the-headlines.” And like The Thick of It, Veep treats insults as an artform. “My favourite is probably when Dan tells [six-foot-three aide-turned-senator] Jonah Ryan that he looks like melted playdough on a flagpole,” says Scott. “It’s so viciously creative.” Season six of Veep is out now on Sky Atlantic sky.com
demolition of the lock-up. He could come and get the images or they would be destroyed the next day. He rescued 30 crates, from which 14 images were acquired by London’s National Portrait Gallery, including Swinton’s. “We never set out to make art, yet these pieces don’t look out of place hanging on walls,” says Stuart. “I guess others will have to answer the art-commerce question for themselves.” The exhibition See/Saw is at Art Bermondsey Project Space, London, from 15 June thedouglasbrothers.com project-space.london J &
P e o p l e Photograph Craig Salmon Words Tom Banham Visitors to this year’s Venice Biennale might be surprised, on visiting Hong Kong’s pavilion, to hear a series of Christmas singles. The work, Songs for Disaster Relief, is the creation of artist Samson Young, and explores the tensions embodied in charity singles by Band Aid and its kin. “Not to make a mockery of them, but rather looking at what sort of cultural and historical circumstances made these songs possible,” he says. “The genuine aspirations that these songs embodied on the one hand and the moral and ethical problems they present on the other.” A trained composer who straddles music and performance, Young’s work often centres on aspects of war. He has fired birdsong from cannons and used household objects to recreate the
sound of Middle Eastern conflict zones. He is currently finalising a new work, One of Two Stories, or Both (Field Bagatelles), which includes a series of radio plays and a sound installation exploring the mythic tale of a group of Chinese travellers who walked to Europe in the 17th century. “I had serious doubts about its truthfulness,” says Young. “But then I started becoming more interested in why people tell such fantastical stories about themselves. What do these stories say about the storyteller and the places they left behind?” Songs for Disaster Relief is at the Venice Biennale until 26 November labiennale.org One of Two Stories, or Both (Field Bagatelles) opens at the Manchester International Festival on 30 June mif.co.uk thismusicisfalse.com
I c o n The popularity of espadrilles among the Riviera set can make it feel like the rope-and-fabric slipper wasn’t invented until the Americans started mooring their yachts off the coast of Saint-Tropez in the 1920s. JFK was a fan, and took his style cues from Picasso and Dalí – the latter favouring an all-white pair by Spanish brand Castañer for his trips to the beach. But they boast a rather more egalitarian history; in the Archaeological Museum of Granada, Spain, sits a pair discovered in a prehistoric cave that have been dated to around 2,000 BC. In fact, until the 20th century the style was exclusively worn by the toiling classes, particularly farmers, priests and miners. In boiling Spanish summers, they appreciated the fact that the rope soles, which quickly moulded to their wearer’s feet, were breathable and comfortable. What espadrilles lacked in longevity they more than made up for in price. The rope that formed the soles was braided from a local grass called esparto (which gives the shoe its name), and the two-part uppers were made from cheap linen, stitched on separately, with an optional ribbon for the wearer to loop round their calf if they needed a more secure fit. Though espadrilles now come in a kaleidoscope of colours and fabrics – Berluti’s leather-trimmed versions feature calligraphy on the heel inspired by an 18th-century manuscript, and Valentino has a pair in its signature camo – traditionally the linen was either dyed black or left in its natural colour. Workers would have a pair of each, keeping the lighter ones for church and the dark pair for the fields. Though ideal in summer, espadrilles tended not to fare well in the wet. To counter their slipperiness, miners would coat the soles in tar for grip. Modern espadrilles follow suit, although they swap tar for thin strips of rubber, so as not to obstruct the all-important airflow. These treated espadrilles are also hardy enough for marching. Instead of boots, Spanish soldiers fighting in the Civil War were issued with multiple pairs of espadrilles, since spares were light enough to stow in a rucksack and they could be thrown away when they began to fall apart.
Words Tom Banham Photograph Mark Mattock Styling Chris Tang Model Matteo Fogale matteofogale.com
They weren’t the first warriors to wage war in espadrilles; in the 13th century, the King of Aragon’s army marched on rope soles. The style became synonymous with northern Spain and was adopted by the residents of neighbouring Catalonia, who wore them as part of the outfit for their national dance, the sardana. Their version, known as espardenyes, features twin strips of fabric at the heel, which are wrapped around the legs so the shoes don’t slip off mid-leap. Though the style remains an integral part of Spanish culture, today around 90 per cent of the world’s espadrilles are made in Bangladesh. Not coincidentally, the country also grows most of the world’s jute, the grass now used for the espadrille’s soles. This mass production has replaced a once enormous Spanish manufacturing industry, which saw young women flock to the Pyrenees in summer to meet demand. Their popularity outside Spain and southern France was driven in the early 20th century by an influx of monied American tourists, who filled the Rivera berths vacated by the aristocrats whose houses hadn’t survived world war one. They crossed into the mainstream in the 1940s, when Rita Hayworth donned a pair in The Lady from Shanghai and Lauren Bacall followed suit in Key Largo. They were embraced by the fashion industry a couple of decades later, when Yves Saint Laurent bumped into the boss of Castañer at a trade show and told him he’d spent months seeking someone who could craft a pair with a wedge sole. The manufacturer accepted the challenge and produced a pair with a cork base that was then wrapped in the traditional rope. For men, the style peaked in the 1980s, when they co-starred alongside Crockett and Tubbs in Miami Vice. As Aragonian soldiers had discovered seven centuries earlier, the apparently flimsy footwear actually prove ideal for active pursuits; since they are flexible, padded and encourage airflow, they keep the feet comfortable whether their wearer is attempting to avoid the lances of French crusaders or chasing cocaine smugglers along the deck of a yacht.
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Espadrilles by Berluti; shirt by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture; trousers by Loewe; sunglasses by Oliver Peoples x Berluti; bracelets by Miansai.
Matteo Fogale is a furniture and product designer. Since 2014 he has worked with Laetitia de Allegri from his workshop in east London, where they create pieces from architectural materials such as recycled plastic. “We’re interested in exploring how these things can be used in different contexts,” says Fogale.
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