A CUT ABOVE THE REST
The singer on the first bout of mainstream success
The German band on their debut album and getting the timing just right
The Australian musician on a mission to leave the world better
welcome Before anything else, I want to start this off by saying that I truly hope that everyone out there and you, our fantastic reader, is doing well, considering the given circumstances. While many of us have been hoping for an ease of the current situation thanks to the humongous amounts of vaccines that have been flying around, others have once again become one with their lockdown-selves, finding joy in counting the tiles on the bathroom floor and baking the odd banana bread. Oh, and let’s not forget the daily walk around the same block. In short, we’re living in dreadful times, and everyone knows. But what we mustn’t forget is that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. It might be small and rather hidden right now, but it is there. And if there is one thing this new year brings, it’s hope. And a fresh start.
LET’S GET CULTURAL
FANDOMS & COVID
For this reason, we dedicate this very special issue of GEM to all the newcomers, fresh starters and hope-finders out there. To start everything off, we have got our cover stars, the young altwonders of Giant Rooks, Germany’s hottest musical export right now and active fighters for a better future. Then there is LA-based singer-songwriter JP Saxe, who puts his heart on the plate with every song he writes. And lastly, we’ve got Ziggy Alberts, the Australian folk singer who has made the spotlighting of societal and environmental issues his day-to-day business.
Furthermore, we are once again handing over the mic to the new voices of the scene, our hidden gems - this time with British indie-stars Wild Front, Austria’s latest discovery Mandalane, US rock newcomers This Pine Box, and London-based singer-songwriter Athena Skye. There is a lot to unpack in this issue, from enthralling interviews, fantastic new music discoveries, a bold look into fandom in times of a global pandemic, and a daring opinion piece on why our voices now matter more than ever. In the end, though, this issue is about how all these remarkable individuals look at today’s world and how they are fighting for a better tomorrow. So that we can all have the fresh, new start we deserve. This issue is for them. And you, our lovely readers. I truly hope you enjoy it. Here’s to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Laura Weingrill founder and editor-in-chief 3
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Team: Laura Weingrill, founder & editor-in-chief Lauren Dehollogne, founder & co-editor Ine Vanvuchelen, news editor / online reviews editor Vanessa Valentine, opinion piece editor Benedetta Borgese, graphic designer
Illustrations by Icons8.com
NEWS All that is new in the fantastical world of music, art and culture
CORONAPROOF FESTIVAL IN SPAIN The Primavera Sound foundation initiated the PRIMA-CoV study in Barcelona in December 2020 to test whether an indoor concert carried out under Covid restrictions – such as wearing a mask, using hand disinfectant and providing a negative antigen test for COVID-19 done on the same day – would result in an increase of Covid cases after the concert. Strict rules such as keeping distance and less movement inside the venue were determined. Fortunately, the results show that all 1047 participants were tested negative afterwards, which might suggest this strategy as a concert alternative for 2021.
Photo by Tony Pham Written by Alexa Zsigmond
BIDEN AND HARRIS WELCOMED BY AMERICA’S GREATEST After four intense years, President Donald Trump left the White House in January. The Democrat Joe Biden took his seat in the Oval Office as President of the United States, alongside his Vice President Kamala Harris who embarked on a new chapter in American history as the nation’s first female, African American and Asian American VP. At the inauguration, many artists took the stage to celebrate the new president and vice president; Lady Gaga proudly sang the national anthem, while Jennifer Lopez performed a medley of ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘This Land Is Your Land’.
Photo by Louis Velazquez Written by Ine Vanvuchelen
NEW TARIFF FOR LIVESTREAM SHOWS Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, livestream concerts have become the main source of income for musicians. In December 2020, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) wanted to change the usual 4,2% gross revenues for inperson events to a tariff between 8% and 17% for virtual events. In an open letter, the Featured Artist Coalition (FAC) and the Music Managers Forum (MMF) stated that “PRS’s proposed experimental tariff for livestream events is unworkable for artists“. Representatives of artists like Niall Horan, Dua Lipa and Arctic Monkeys didn’t hesitate to sign. PRS has now implemented the tariffs.
Photo by Filip Andrejevic Written by Melina Spahn
GRAMMY AWARDS POSTPONED UNTIL MARCH The 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony has been postponed, due to the recent aggressive developments of the coronavirus. The 63rd Grammys will not take place on 31 January as previously communicated, but have instead been pushed back to 14 March, US time, whilst Europeans and UK citizens will be able to follow the ceremony during the night of 15 March. The Grammy nominations were earlier announced on 24 November 2020. Photo by Sudhith Xavier Written by Lauren Dehollogne 5
GHT First gigs in small clubs and dingy bars, concerts in front of classmates at school parties, family members as the biggest fans – this is where it usually starts for newcomer bands on the come-up. And for most, this is also where it ends. But not for Giant Rooks, a group of talented indie-youngsters that have truly made it. They refuse to sing in German, despite it being their mother tongue, definitely don’t let themselves be pigeonholed into one specific genre, and above all, they might just be the most promising and hottest musical export Germany has to offer right now. “At the very beginning of our career, our English was really bad. We actually went on stage without having any real lyrics and just sang gibberish. That‘s why you could never really decipher that it was English, it was more of a strange kind of fantasy language. I can’t believe we even dared to do that,”, laughs Frederik Rabe, frontman and lead singer of the enthralling quintet, remembering where it all began for the group: a small town in Western Germany called Hamm. As far as small towns go, it was rather tricky for the young singer to find like-minded people with the same ambition and drive, after having initially started a band with his cousin Finn Schwieters, now the guitarist of Giant Rooks, when they were just eight years old. But after some searching, the duo finally pulled Luca Göttner (bass), Finn Thomas (drums) and Jonathan Wischniowski (keyboards) into their rehearsal room in 2015 and it all instantly clicked. Giant Rooks were born. Five years later, labelling the band as high-flyers would be a massive understatement and doesn’t even come close to what they have achieved in the recent years. They might still operate under the term indie, but in respect of their popularity and success, the five friends from Hamm have left their indie status behind a long time ago. Two years
Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Jean Raclet & Nils Lucas
HT TIME TI
We find it difficult to see anything positive in the pandemic, mainly because it has brought so much suffering for so many people. Of course, we suddenly had time for things that we didn‘t have time for before, but I would never say that it is something positive. - Finn Schwieters
ago they took a step most bands take once they have reached a certain level of success and made the fantastic Berlin their home. But rather surprisingly, up until Corona put everything to a halt, the group had hardly seen anything of the city, having spent most of their time travelling all across Germany and Europe, bouncing from one ecstatic live show to the other. It is only now that the immense success of the last few years is finally sinking in for the charming musicians, as Rabe observes: “Until recently I had completely forgotten that people could know me. Because we live in Berlin and the city is still relatively anonymous. But then I was approached a few times on the street and thought “wow, people actually know me now”. I‘ve totally forgotten that in the last few months because we couldn‘t go on tour.”
of time, something that you are capturing right now and then no longer want to change,”, explains Rabe, while also addressing the inevitable topic that has become part of everyone’s life, standing there like the elephant in the room – the pandemic. It’s a topic that no member of the remarkable bunch can bear to find much sympathy or affection for, as guitarist Finn Schwieters states: “We find it difficult to see anything positive in the pandemic, mainly because it has brought so much suffering for so many people. Of course, we suddenly had time for things that we didn‘t have time for before, but I would never say that it is something positive.” It‘s an introspective view on today’s society that underlines Giant Rooks’ mission as a band. They’re a group that looks at a world full of unrest, wondering about their role in it. This, above all, shows itself in their lyrics, which oftentimes are dressed as questions asking about the big things in life and the issues everyone’s confronted with right now: love, happiness, death, climate change, politics, the meaning of our being. For some, themes like these might seem a bit too monumental to be taken on by one band alone, but Giant Rooks wouldn’t be the unique group they are if they wouldn’t dare to accept the challenge. “Our music is a mirror for how we perceive the world and for how we perceive ourselves in it. First and foremost, we ask ourselves what our role is, and in doing so, we try to tell stories that inspire or touch us and our listeners. Those stories can come from both personal and fictional origins, but for us, it‘s all about absorbing everything and processing it,”, explains Schwieters, while singer Rabe adds: “And even if it‘s a fictional story that inspires us, it will still turn into a personal song because after all it made us feel something and had us react in a certain way, which we then use for lyrics. So we never write impersonal songs.”
Much of that attention stems from the release of their highly anticipated debut album ‘Rookery’, which finally saw the light of day in the summer of 2020, right in the midst of another break in-between lockdowns. Regarding the state of the world, many other newcomer bands looking to make a name for themselves would have probably chosen to postpone the release and moved it to another time. One that would allow the listeners and fans to fully immerse themselves in the album, without having to constantly watch their backs in an ever so steadily darkening world. And one that would allow the group to actually perform and live out their record, one that has been in the making for so many years. But Giant Rooks have never been like the others. They went for the bold move to release the album right when they wanted to – and right when the world needed new, phenomenal music more than ever. “We talked for a very, very long time about whether it would make sense to release an album into the world we live in now. But we see our music as a picture that you take at that moment, it is an image
By letting their guard down and pulling the curtains from their own lives, the band has found an ease in judging themselves and their own actions as much as they would judge others. They have cemented their status as a band that prioritises looking inward, even when these reflections could be neglected and avoided. Not afraid to show their true selves, they stand tall for their opinions and thoughts, whether it is on social media or during their live shows. From building up a cooperative project with Spotify to have trees planted that their fans could buy and have named after them, to supporting “Friday’s For Future” and playing live at the protests, the quintet is determined to leave this planet a bit better. “On social media, we take a clear stance on topics that concern us and that are on our minds, such as racism or the climate crisis. These are the questions of justice of our generation,”, exclaims Schwieters, while also going back to the band’s first and foremost source of inspiration. “All of these societal, pressing topics and discussions are always reflected in our songs because ultimately everything we deal with flows into our music. We absorb all of it like a sponge.”
- Finn Schwieters
honest approach to their work and one that seems to connect with their listeners and immense masses of fans. Effortlessly, the band fuses sparkling electro-pop and sleek indie beats with rock anthem choruses and has mastered the perfect soundtrack to late night drives during the warm summer months. As a result, they’ve ended up with something truly unique, with stand-out tracks like ‘Watershed’, ‘Wild Stare’ and ‘Misinterpretations’ serving as first tastes of the ethereal soundscapes the group’s music creates. Bringing their blend of influences to the forefront of their striking debut, mixed with Rabe’s throaty, haunting voice, the dazzling newcomers skilfully play with various different genres. The end result: ecstatic samples and captivating electronic sounds, the one or other autotune experiment and an ultimate farewell to the classic verse-chorus-verse structure. It’s not Alt-J, nor The Kooks, without the 2000s indie nostalgia, but forwardlooking music, marrying the sounds of the past with the possibilities of the future. And all of that in English, despite their German heritage and countless arguments that sticking to their mother-tongue would help them win over their home country’s market.
But not just lyrically, but also musically Giant Rooks like to soak up their surroundings, taking everything in what they see, hear and experience and mixing it all together with their own thoughts and ideas to get to that unique sound that they have learned to make their own. Whether it be pop, indie, rock, RnB, electronic music, or anything in-between – the group likes to dip their toes into all the musical puddles out there. Therefore, to force the band and their music into one specific genre would be a neverending, almost impossible task. One that the five friends are purposely not even considering tapping into, finding peace in existing in the realm of today’s playlist culture. “I always find it very difficult to describe our music, because we don‘t feel like pigeonholing ourselves. We just make the music that we would like to listen to ourselves. When you hear our music, you know roughly what kind of taste in music we have,”, utters frontman Rabe. It’s a truthful,
Our music is a mirror for how we perceive the world and for how we perceive ourselves in it. First and foremost, we ask ourselves what our role is, and in doing so, we try to tell stories that inspire or touch us and our listeners.
Without German, but rather in English and with all their hearts poured into their work, Giant Rooks are proof that sometimes your own gut can be your best advisor. With almost 80 million streams on Spotify and fans from all over the planet following their every step, the group is quickly making their name known in the world, one hit track at a time. With their irresistible energy and enthusiasm that distinguishes them from the majority of the local competition and an album that speaks for itself, Giant Rooks have coined themselves as the most intriguing eyecatcher of today’s music industry. They might just be at the start of their careers, but one thing is for sure: these German youngsters are on the eve of global stardom.
We see our music as a picture that you take at that moment, it is an image of time, something that you are capturing right now and then no longer want to change. - Frederik Rabe 10
A L B U M
Zayn Nobody Is Listening Label: RCA Records
R E V I E W S Zayn released his third album ‘Nobody Is Listening’ which focuses on the process of not only finding yourself but also healthy relationships, in a world that might make it hard for you to do so – especially if you’re in the public eye and happen to experience people befriending you for the sole purpose to leech off your name and success. “No time for no lie and I’m here to show I found a way higher, me is all I need to be inspired”, Zayn sings in ‘Unfuckwitable’, proving he doesn’t waste time on fake people and puts himself first. Although the British singer now lives miles away in Los Angeles with his own little family, model girlfriend Gigi Hadid and daughter Khai, he doesn’t forget about his Arabic heritage as he sings a few lines in his mother tongue Urdu on the song ‘Tightrope’ – a reoccurring signature trait he has continued through all of his existing albums. On the last track ‘River Rode’, Zayn questions where his life will take him in the future since money and success can’t buy everything – and he seems to remind us of that. by Vicky Madzak
Belgian indie-rock group Balthazar is back with their fifth studio album, straying away from their melancholic shackles of the past. ‘Sand’ - called after the sand in an hourglass - is a soulful alt-pop embrace, highlighting the refinement of love, loss and life. With glitchy undertones and sumptuous vocals on ‘On A Roll’, the enraptured pop-bliss of ‘Linger On’ and the jazz-tinged ‘Powerless’, the band continues to pursue groovy sounds on which you can’t help but dance to. And with that they continue their newfound road full of funky bass lines, fun synths and sultry voices they discovered on their previous album ‘Fever’. The ingenuity of Devoldere and Deprez (the two lead singers) distinctive voices hit new heights on the lovelorn narrative of ‘You Won’t Come Around’, a break-up song about the guilt you feel after you follow your selfish heart blindly into a new love. ‘Hourglass’ serves as the theme running through the tracks: waiting, restlessness, not being able to live in the moment or putting trust into the future becomes crystal clear, making it the band’s most cohesive album yet.
Label: PIAS Recordings
Taylor Swift evermore
by Lien Joos
Swift’s ninth album lives in the same mystical sphere as ‘folklore’ but ‘evermore’ sees us coming back to the grit reality of 2020. In ‘Dorothea’ she sings about “A tiny screen’s the only place I see you now” and catapults us to the longing sensation Swift has made us feel countless times before. ‘‘tis the damn season’ mentions the holidays but isn’t filled with yuletide glee but rather the fleeting loneliness of escapism and indecisiveness. ‘evermore’ is Taylor Swift’s latest and possibly most beautifully dramatic album yet. With this new rising of Taylor Swift’s music, we can put her in the same category as Phoebe Bridgers as the two singer-songwriters coming after the emotional revolution that is called 2020. What the rest of 2021 has in store for us we might not know but what we do know is that we have a wide arrange of new music Swift offered to break our fall and cry our eyes out to. Yes, she has done it again, an album that will age so gracefully that 20 years from now people will still treasure it. by Lauren Dehollogne
M U S I C
BILLIE EILISH & ROSALIA - LO VAS A OLVIDAR Label: Darkroom/Interscope Records
After Billie Eilish and Rosalía already hinted a collaboration months ago, the fans finally received an announcement to their song ‘Lo Vas A Olvidar’. The song featured in the Euphoria special ‘Part Two: Jules’. This is the first time we hear Billie sing in Spanish and it’s something we all didn’t know we needed until now. Two angelic voices perfectly completing each other in this track make you fall deeply in love with their gently sung high notes. MS
BIRDY - SURRENDER Label: Warner Music Ltd UK/Atlantic Records UK ‘Surrender’ is about desperately searching for clarification and meaning, when actually all one wants is to let go and “fall / Into the night / Into your arms, surrender” Birdy sings. Its melancholic ambience makes it sound like the perfect movie soundtrack. The soft piano and guitar melodies combined with Birdy’s delicate voice create a dreamy acoustic atmosphere. AZ
TYCHO JONES - SHE DON’T LIKE ME Label: Globe Town Records
Hackney-based alt-pop wonder Tycho Jones is starting off the year with his latest release ‘She Don’t Like Me’. The dazzling track marks the newcomer’s latest step in continuing his rise to become one with the stars in the highest ranks of the music industry, proving he has come to stay with this striking marriage of Jones’s stunning vocals and a lavish bed of addictive, intricate beats. LW
TATE MCRAE - RUBBERBAND Label: RCA Records
N E W
At 17, Tate Mcrae’s extraordinary talent has once again shone through with her latest song ‘rubberband’. The vulnerable nature of the song, alongside its evocative lyrics, highlight the pain of not being ready in yourself to love another person truly, whilst missing that exhilarating rush of being together. With the music video achieving her biggest opening day to date, it’s an incredibly exciting time for the upcoming star’s future. IT
SLAYYYTER - TROUBLED PARADISE Label: Fader
On the third single from her upcoming debut album and undoubtedly the best song of her career, hyperpop it-girl Slayyyter gives us a blissed-out synth-pop anthem with an absolutely killer hook. ‘Troubled Paradise’ has the typical Slayyyter-isms of airy vocals and twinkling production, but with a beautiful tone and lyricism that puts this track at the top of her discography. LD
OLIVIA RODRIGO - DRIVERS LICENSE Label: Geffen Records Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘drivers license’ grasped everyone’s attention and brought along a new popstar in the making. Rodrigo’s debut single is as emotional as it is pure heartbreaking excellence. The 17-year-old is stepping into the footsteps of her idol, Taylor Swift, whilst being deeply personal. “cause you said forever now I drive alone in your street” uses the simple symbolism she alludes to in the track’s title and has us all in tears, hoping for a follow-up that touches us equally as much. LD 13
WILD FRONT LIVE AT THE 1865
NYE LIVE - JUSTIN BIEBER From bedroom sessions to playing gigs in empty venues and broadcasting them on social media, 2020 became the year of livestreams, offering a glimpse of comfort in times of need. It’s only fitting we ended the year dancing in our living room, drinking wine and screaming iconic lyrics to Justin Bieber’s New Year’s Eve livestream.
Written by: Laura Weingrill - Photo Credit: LJR Photography Anyone remember gigs? The phenomenal events where we used to scream our lungs out, admiringly stare at the artists on stage in front of us, and dance the night away? Remember those? They are back – after all this time. For us, it is the Southampton-based indie-group Wild Front that we have to thank for getting us back together with live music. And a feeling of happiness that can never be surpassed. “It feels so lovely to have you all here, thank you so much for coming,”, frontman and guitarist Jack Williams smiles at the crowd seated in front of him. It has been a very long time since he was last able to look into the happy faces of his band’s fans and since those very same excited fans have been able to enjoy the four-piece’s music live. Way too long, many would say. But that is just one of the many reasons why their comeback show at the famous Southampton venue ‘The 1865’ feels not only like a celebration of the band’s music but also like a big fest for the revival of live gigs.
The concert is special in many ways: it being the first full gig of the “prince of pop” in three years, his brand new song ‘Anyone’ is given a live debut, and the impressive stage with a light show and fireworks is the icing on the cake. In the 75-minute gig Bieber reminds us why he’s one of the greatest pop icons, delivering a greatest-hits set with impeccable vocals, impressive dance routines and so much energy that you can feel the atmosphere from miles away. Bieber doesn’t address his virtual audience throughout the entire set, which makes the gig feel more like a pre-taped movie than a live concert. He does however focus his attention to the few lucky ones watching the concert in real life from the balconies of the Beverly Hilton hotel, including Billie Eilish holding an “I love JB” sign. Apart from ignoring us, Bieber’s New Year’s Eve party was a brilliant way to kick off 2021.
Written by: Lien Joos
With a setlist to dream for, Wild Front give their fans and us everything we could have ever wished for. With an effortless mix of their greatest hits like ‘Rico’ and ‘Southside’ and a selection of striking songs from their latest EP ‘The Great Indoors’, the group never fails to uphold the sparkling atmosphere in the room, with singer Williams’ soft, dreamy vocals leading through the evening, while being perfectly elevated by the faultless instrumentals from his bandmates. After all, the indie-wonders of Wild Front give us something that we thought to have lost forever – live music. And with their one-hour long set packed with shining indie-hits and heavenly stars of alt-rock, they manage to build up a world that we happily step out of reality for and lose ourselves in the quartet’s music. We might not have our beloved normality back just yet, but if there is one thing that Wild Front prove with their show, it is that live music will always find its way back to us, no matter what.
JEREMIAS LIVE IN COLOGNE
BOY PABLO PRESENTS:
Take a whole orchestra and four incredibly talented young men, place them on the stage of the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany, and let the magic begin. The newcomerband Jeremias played their first big online live stream show this Thursday evening (January 21st), presented by WDR Funkhausorchester and 1LIVE. The band was formed in Hannover, and consists of lead vocalist Jeremias Heimbach, guitarist Oliver Sparkuhle, bassist Ben Hoffmann and drummer Jonas Herrmann. Playing the best of their EP’s ‘Du musst an den Frühling glauben’ and ‘alma’, Jeremias definitely did not fail to make everyone at home get up and dance. They also got us to sit down, leaving us mesmerized and speechless, while we listen to this beautifully sung German poetry. The Moderator comes up on stage holding a radio in his hands. As he presses one of the buttons, the sound of applause fills the concert hall. Lead singer Jeremias walks back on stage and sits down in front of the piano. As he hits the keys and starts singing the first words of ‘Grüne Augen lügen nicht’, he creates this silence in the whole concert hall and at home, yet leaving us with loud feelings. And as the grand finale for this evening, Jeremias and the orchestra play their lyrical masterpiece ‘Wenn Blätter Fallen’ and leave us in absolute awe…and tears.
Written by: Melina Spahn - Photo Credit: Lucio Vignolo
Written by: Laura Weingrill - Photo Credit: Michael Ray Vera Cruz Boy Pablo is one of those artists who has had to exchange his planned tour with a one-off live stream titled “Boy Pablo presents: Wachito Rico”. And although Pablo and his enthralling band have to perform for screens instead of real people, the show doesn’t lack the happiness and charm usual Boy Pablo gigs have become known and loved for. The show starts with the singer and frontman NorwegianChilean Nicolas Muñoz telling the story behind the first track of his debut album, ‘i hope she loves me back’, remembering the time in high school when he had just started going out with his girlfriend Elisabeth, who he has been with ever since. After the scene, which strongly resembles the style of a documentary, we get a first look at the actual set, the band placed in the middle of a plant-filled living room. Unsurprisingly, even before greeting the audience, Muñoz bursts out laughing, his excited bandmates following instantly, taking away any tension that might have been there before. Throughout the whole set, we jump back and forth between pre-recorded scenes depicting Muñoz discussing the album, the recording process, sharing stories with his friends, manager and bandmates, while walking around in his hometown Bergen, Norway, and the actual live performances of the record. Musically, Boy Pablo delivers an energetic, almost ecstatic show that makes it easy to forget about the darkening world that’s luring outside. There is no doubt that all the members are putting their whole hearts into their performances.
JP SAXE RETURNING TO THE STAGE After all its trials and turbulations, 2020 has
extremely exasperating for so many artists. Saxe expressed
proven to be an explosive year for Candian singer
that the magical feeling of being on stage feels like a little
Jonathan Percy Starker Saxe, better known as JP
bit of a different colour each night, saying, “that’s what
Saxe. Together with girlfriend Julia Michaels,
I miss most about performing is just the spontaneity of
Saxe received a Grammy nomination for hit song
it, the mystery of it, how it can be a little bit different
‘If The World Was Ending’ and in combination
every night.” His shows tend to have a surprise element
with a support slot on Lennon Stella’s tour JP
to them as he likes “to let things play out a little bit in
Saxe is slowly becoming a household name.
the unknown” varying setlists each night influenced by his mood. He described how future shows could go one
‘If The World Was Ending’, a song that despite being
of two ways, revealing “I’ll either just be locked in, super
released in October 2019, has taken the world by storm
proper and about making everything precise or I’ll be
throughout the ongoing pandemic, led JP to receive his
so deprived of performing that I’m just really overdoing
first Grammy nomination in November 2020 for the
everything, talking way too much and having random
category of “Song of the Year”. When recalling what the
conversations with fans in between songs – we shall see.”
feeling of this huge recognition was like, he mentioned how it was still “a little outside of my ability to comprehend
Saxe was due to hit the road and come to Europe with
that it has happened,”, and about when in the process
his ‘Hold It Together’ tour, which has since indefinitely
of creating art, the possibility of winning Grammys isn’t
been postponed. The uncertainty surrounding the matter
part of the thought process or even fathomable.
has meant that his album may be out before any form of touring can take place. Despite many artists incorporating their debut EP into their first album, JP hasn’t, as he teased
“It just felt like a really nice metaphor for how it gets better in ways you don’t expect.”
that he’s written too many songs that he likes, going on to
He described how “it was maybe a little more within
Despite JP’s well-known track record within his fanbase,
the realm of possibility for Julia” because Michaels has
named the Hometeam, of him teasing songs throughout
received 3 Grammy nominations to date but how this
his Instagram live streams, he indicated that “only two of
acknowledgement has been “surreal”, especially for a
them are currently out which means there will be around
song that means so much to so many.
13 new songs” on his debut album.
Moreover, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the arts
This album is going to be a collection of songs that he’s
industry has been halted from experiencing the beauty
written over the last three to four years, therefore acting
of live performances since March 2020. For a career in
like a monologue of the journey he’s been on in terms
which performing is one of the main aspects, this has been
of love, heartbreak, the highs, the lows and all of the in-
explain “that’s a good thing because I guess the show is just going to have to be kinda long as I want to play the EP and the album.”
taking on more of a tone like his ‘A Little Bit Yours’
initial response is, “Don’t worry too much about
era. The beautiful, healthy kind of love only reflects
acne.” However, he was reserved and hesitant
the last year and a half of his life, meaning it will
to give too much advice to his younger self,
be a combination and honest representation of his
explaining, “I think one of my greatest skills was
growth. In regards to previous eras, JP expressed it
I always looked at things a little more like an
as “fun to be singing a song that was so devastating
adventure than a struggle,”, he felt that his life has
while being in love because it just felt like a really
only become what it is now due to his experiences,
nice metaphor for how it gets better in ways you
that some may view as different and unfavourable,
don’t expect,” labelling the album as the “most in-
such as sleeping in his car when he moved to Los
depth representation of the way I write and the
Angeles initially and having so much of his early
music I love that I’ve ever done”.
music not believed in enough to be released, but he viewed them as exciting ventures keeping that
The tracklist of any album is important, especially
drive in him alight.
when reflecting a process you’ve experienced over an extended period of time. A huge focus for JP is
Nevertheless, he recognised that he had “blessings
how the album weaves together and the emotional
and privileges” which allowed him to have that
transformation listeners are taken on from track to
mentality, explaining that, “worst-case scenario,
track. “It feels like coursing out a 15-course meal,
I could move back to Toronto and have a really
what taste do you want to have in your mouth
loving family who would have my back.” After
when you try the next thing?”.
careful contemplation about the growth he’s been on, his overall message was about his incentive
With love being one of the themes of his upcoming
being songs and people, describing them as his
album, JP pondered about what the feeling of love
“favourite things in the world”. In closing, he stated
is like and if he could describe it in a couple of
an important message, almost about bringing
words, eventually expressing how he believes “the
it back to the simple, most meaningful things in
majority of art is probably just a failed attempt
life and of where he finds the most happiness,
at summarising what it feels like to love a person
describing how “that’s where my joy comes from,
or loose love with a person or the struggles of
so as long as I had those things around me, I
love with a person.” He went on to say that the
was making songs and I was with people I loved,
album could be argued to be, “thousands of words
everything else seemed fine.”
attempting to describe the feeling of love,” as love is the biggest feeling of humankind.
“Thousands of words attempting to describe the feeling of love.”
Over the past year, JP has significantly grown as both an artist and as a person, with the release of his debut EP ‘Hold It Together’ in February 2020, his time spent supporting Lennon Stella on tour, his experience of falling in the healthy kind of love, and the list goes on. When talking about advice he’d offer to his 16-year-old self, reflecting on the journey of growth he’s undertaken, his 18
Photo Credit: Nirav Patel Written by: Issy Todd
Written by: Lauren Dehollogne Photo Credit: Shelley Kimber
Ziggy Alberts, one of Australia’s leading independent artists is finding his way through the maze of the multitude of musicians. Alberts who was born and bred in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, emphasises a sense of urgency in his music by way of prioritising climate change and the ever-growing divide between different groups of people. Coincidentally he created his own label, Commonfolk Records, together with his family. A decision he made to have full control on releases and to take the path less travelled by. After four albums that were met with success, Alberts is gearing up for the release of his fifth album ‘Searching for Freedom’.
Where does your music stem from? Sometimes, your emotions just pour out and this is the natural outcome; other times, I like to intentionally address key concerns in terms of relationships, which is a very human thing. The things that influence me the most are my personal reflections, and commentary on the events of my life and the world around me - the lessons I‘ve been learning along the way. What was the biggest factor in deciding to start your own record label ‘Commonfolk Records’? Being able to have full control on releases, work with family, and take the path less travelled. Shoutout to my amazing team and all the incredible independent artists who helped inspire this decision! I couldn‘t be happier for having done so. How do you feel now that Australia’s music scene is returning to some sort of normalcy whilst the rest of the world is going back into respective lockdowns? I would actually say the Australian music scene isn‘t returning back to a normal state - far from it. Shows, legal requirements and border closures are changing daily. It is chaos for musicians. The Australian music scene is a huge
provider of jobs and contributes massively to our economy: like the arts sector in so many countries, there has been very little support for our industry and that is one of the many changes I would like to see. How did lockdown and the pandemic change you as an artist and as a human being? It made me realise what is truly my core values and showed me the same of others. It has made me sharper in my thinking and in how I articulate myself. What is the message you are trying to portray? Love over fear. One love. For every cliche it is - we are all connected.
“Love over fear. One love. For
every cliche it is - we are all connected.”
The released tracks from your upcoming album ‘searching for freedom’ creates an atmosphere of complete acceptance and love whilst still tackling some important questions. You sing about “letting the news tear each other apart” and that “fear is making money”. How did these statements make it into the album? I think they’ve never been more relevant - like I said, my songs are often a reflection of what is happening in the world. I wrote several songs for the album whilst recording it so many of the themes are relevant to 2020, this year and beyond.
Do you often disconnect from our rapid content exchange world? And how do you try to see the truth between all the lies spread on social media? Absolutely. From time to time, I find a phone free week is a total physical and mental reset - I highly recommend it. As truth is important to me, I try to find out what the intentions are of said person/company. Is there any financial conflict of interest in why they are pushing what they are? What grasps my attention is if someone is challenging the mainstream media and risking their careers to do so. That is when there is no financial/ social gain to be noticed. I always tend to listen carefully to them. Often those are the people who’ve got nothing to gain but telling the truth because they care.
Is there anything you would like to change in the world if you could? I’m not sure. I think if I could change something, it would be for big corporations, mainstream media and government to be more transparent, as more often than not they aren’t. Your latest music video ‘heartbeat’ had a beautiful romantic tale that worked perfectly alongside the music. How important is the story setting for your music videos to you? It is paramount – ‘heartbeat’ was a real breakthrough for us as a team, because I feel like that the music video carries the song in incredible ways. It has added depth to the story of the lyrics like a video never has before! How did you become interested in being a musician? My parents bought me a guitar as a finishing school present. I was 16 years old, and at that time, I was already writing for my personal blog and for surfing magazines - I started writing songs at the same time as learning guitar, which turned out to be a very natural extension of my expressive creative interests as a whole. Thanks Mum and Dad! 21
Let's Get Cultural WANDAVISION Text by: Laura Weingrill Director: Matt Shakman Where to watch: Disney+
Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, we know – even without the fun but deliberately unexplained and tumultuous race through the decades – that not all can be quite what it seems in the couple’s domestic paradise.
A tale of a telepathic, telekinetic, and reality-bending superhero and her android lover, who was very much dead the last time we saw him. A set of TV characters living in an idyllic small town for yet unknown reasons. A play on classic sitcoms with a side of time-hopping and a hint that everything might not actually be as pleasant and peaceful as it seems. That is the latest series hit ‘WandaVision’ in a nutshell, a show that is as surprising and mind-bending as ever. But that is nothing new when it comes to Marvel.
With every episode, Marvel hands the watcher a pictureperfect piece of film-making – from the acting, to the script, the set design, the cinematography, and the aspect ratio – everything is as well-made as it can be, always going back to that loving tribute to old sitcoms (the first episode and most of the second have even been stripped of colour and serve as black and white delights). Every aspect, even the tiniest details of ‘WandaVision’ are deliciously stylish. The jokes are great and perfectly set to the time period they are supposed to have grown out of, the performances are phenomenal as always, and, as with every Marvel project, there is this clear sense that there are people shaping this who know exactly what they are doing and what they have planned for their fans. And with Easter eggs for the MCU’s mega-fans waiting around every corner, while still leaving the watcher questioning what is truly going on, ‘WandaVision’ feels like a gift waiting to be unpacked.
Set in the rather cheesy, white-fenced town of Westview, MCU’s beloved superhero Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen), and everyone’s favourite flying android Vision (played by Paul Bettany) find themselves in a world the couple has always dreamed of – a normal life with normal neighbours, a normal family, a normal house and normal jobs. But everything might not be as regular as it seems after all, with a mysterious voice constantly trying to reach Wanda through a radio, asking who is doing this to her (we have yet to find out what “this” is), and a strange beekeeper lurking in the sewers. And with a clear memory of Vision definitely dying at the hands of
Written by: Alexa Zsigmond Writer: Rebecca Solnit Publication: Granta Books
Written by: Lauren Dehollogne Director: Regina King Where to watch: Amazon Prime
‘Call Them by Their True Names’ is a book comprising a collection of essays concerning mostly American crises of which many also exist in the global context.
Regina King’s directorial debut ‘One Night in Miami’ sees Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammed Ali still known as Cassius Clay at the time of events (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) come together at Malcolm X’s hotel room after Ali’s iconic win against Sonny Liston and after his crowning of Heavy Weight Champion.
The intention of the bestselling author Rebecca Solnit is to shed light on the significance of language in connection to political, social and ecological issues and how language is used to describe certain matters, such as police shootings, climate change and social injustices. How do we make meaning through language? How do emotions influence social and political discourses? Solnit answers those questions by illustrating examples, which also seem to reflect current discussions even almost three years after the book’s release.
The film embarks on a trip where the four historical key figures are separately introduced to the audience before their personal connections are getting intertwined, eventually all meeting in X’s hotel room. King’s debut sees her switching between factual stories and fictional speculation creating a perfect balance that sees the men’s common goals and their different approaches. ‘One Night in Miami’ doesn’t rush the story yet let it comes to terms with all of its complexities. The story tackles Malcolm X leaving the Nation of Islam after learning the truth about leader Elijah Muhammed, Cassius Clay converting to Islam, Sam Cooke on the brink of changing his music to a more protestest-esque outlet and Jim Brown at the end of his American football career. Through its switches between light and deeply serious conversations, the film creates the perfect showcase for these extremely talented actors.
The author tells the heart-rending story of a man’s life on death row as well as the unfolding of the distressing killing of Alex Nieto, a Latino, who was shot by four San Francisco policemen. These moving essays, written quite descriptively and profoundly, also remind us of recent events in America which emphasise the importance that this book still has now. Solnit educates the reader through exceptional storytelling, and her style of writing feels like a wake-up call to finally call the many crises in America, and the whole world, by their true names!
‘One Night In Miami’ sees King rising to a prominent director with her knack of engaging both our emotions and mind.
Covid-19, Chalamania and the rise of fangirls
What was supposed to be a year filled with megacinema-hit-movies, press interviews, premiers and lots of interaction with his fans, turned out a bit different for Timothée Chalamet and his evergrowing fanbase. The actor lauded to be Gen Z’s answer to Leonardo DiCaprio has charmed people all across the globe with his stellar performances in ‘Call Me By Your Name’, ‘Beautiful Boy’, ‘Little Women’, etc. and his goofy yet quick-witted personality. Whether you are a film buff or not, being on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram has made it nearly impossible to escape the presence of the 25-year-old actor. With the help of the internet, this adoration has resulted in a massive online following and even his own movement called ‘Chalamania’.
it is nice to follow up with Timothée and to support his career.” For many Chalamet is a breeze of fresh air in the world of “stanning”. Being a stan can be defined as a dedicated fan that follows their entire line of work and loves the celebrity unconditionally. Today being a stan is mainly outed on social media platforms and whilst before the pandemic hit people could also express their love at premieres or big press events, 2020 has made us delve even deeper into our virtual realities. A reality the New York native has strayed away from. He has a rather sparse social media presence yet, therefore, causing enormous excitement when he does randomly appear to post, like or comment on stuff. “I always compare our fandom to others that stan someone who posts every second of a day. It would be exhausting to keep up with that much content,”, notes timmysfrench, a popular account dedicated to Chalamet on Instagram. This is a sentiment reiterated by many of his fans. Another fan, Haley, mentions that his low-key
This movement is seen by flocks of fans and as Antje Van Schelvergem, one of Timothée Chalamet’s fans mentions: “As a fan I feel an immense amount of pride but I also feel as if I have connected with him even without knowing him on a personal level. I also think
social media profiles make what content he does share feel special and a novel each time and even goes on to say that “it’s probably healthier both for him and for stans to not always be airing everything out on social media.”
And although his acclaim and following is often credited to his boyish good looks, it is his fandom that wants to push back from this narrative. To them, he is not just a pretty face with some good roles. They were drawn to him by the allure of his quality performances and excellent project picking. Another narrative seems to jump out from the observation of his stans. They are not to be classified as superficial beings often derived from gossip culture. No, Darbie even goes on to admit that to her stan culture is not about the private lives of celebrities and that for neither party that side of fandom would be seen as a healthy.
However, this year was supposed to be a year filled with Timothée Chalamet content gracing our screens whether big or small. With the sudden eruption of Covid-19, it has pushed back bound to be fan-favourites, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of ‘Dune’ and Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’ both starring Chalamet. With a bigger cinematic release in the future, another change has come along for film major ‘Dune’, a possible joint release on HBO Max. Film fanatics might have found this a troublesome result of 2020 yet fans of Chalamet and the franchise alike are seeing things in a more positive light.
“We all just share the love for one person and it brings us together in ways we have never imagined. I have made some of my best friends in the world being a part of this
“It can be a slippery slope- too much idolisation of a celebrity creates a disconnect between your perceptions of someone who is a stranger to you and reality.”
If this would secure a sequel they are more than welcome to see this movie be promoted on more platforms.
fandom. It is so rewarding,”, timmysfrench expresses. So will 2021 finally be the year to stop casting aside stan culture? Yes, fandoms can be toxic at times and social media can be overwhelming but being a stan doesn’t mean that their love is just thrown into a void. For most stans, the idea of celebrity culture is not a new concept. They have had the intellectual debate about how much of something is healthy for them and as Haley puts it “It can be a slippery slope- too much idolisation of a celebrity creates a disconnect between your perceptions of someone who is a stranger to you and reality.” No longer can people cast aside the talent, dedication and adorations of these large group of people, traditionally believed to be young females and maybe the Timothée Chalamet fandom is the start of something new.
After all the twirling around of old content, a new massive event appeared, his Saturday Night Live hosting gig. “After all the movie postponements in 2020, fans were finally able to see him acting for the first time in a year!” Darbie, who has a fan account on Twitter (@ caladanchalamet), explains the excitement felt over his SNL performance. One look at Twitter or Instagram should’ve been enough to notice that this performance had brought back Chalamet’s charm to the overwhelming masses whilst his all-knowing fans were adoring to share their favourite person with the rest of the world.
Written by Lauren Dehollogne - Photo Credit: SNL - Mary Ellen Matthews 25
WILD FRONT Written by Laura Weingrill Photo by Katie Betteridge
A four-piece indie rock outfit built on a diverse blend of musical tastes. A long history of expertise and a music degree to back it all. And the drive to go for the big goalposts while still staying true to themselves. The end result? Wild Front, a Southampton-based indie-group loved and known for its dreamy blend of sleek, ambient pop with ‘80s inspired heavier rock. Since their formation in 2015, the band has continued on an upward trajectory and is already preparing to make 2021 their year. “I met the guys at Tottenham College, but they had always been friends, had grown up together. And I was already working on this folky solo project, which then grew into a band once we became friends,”, remembers Jack Williams, the frontman of the talented bunch. Originally formed under the name “Tracy Island”, it wasn’t long before Wild Front switched to their current set-up, under which they have been racking up awe-inspiring achievements ever since. With a string of impressive festival slots already under their belts, the group, just like everyone in the music industry, had to put their touring plans on hold, which didn’t stop them from blessing their dedicated fans’ ears with not one but two new EPs – one original titled ‘The Great Indoors’ and one cover record. Looking at the title of their 2020 release, one might be quick to file it as another quarantine affectionate piece, when in reality the story behind the title stems from somewhere completely different. “The EP isn’t inspired by lockdown at all. We released it during the pandemic, but it was written and finished way before that. The title is a nod to mental health, being stuck in your own mind
and depression. It was never meant as a pun on being stuck inside because of lockdown, but everyone thought it was. So we were all like “oh fuck, people will think we hopped on the lockdown bandwagon really fast”, which wasn’t at all what happened,”, laughs singer Williams, while thinking back to the release which once again saw the band pair the unrestrained emotions of music with the capricious nature of life. Almost cinematic in places, the melodic feel-good record sparkled as the perfect addition to everyone’s soundtrack to the dazzling, airy weeks of the summer sunshine.
hidd Despite the band’s remarkable success, they have always stayed close to their roots, writing, recording, engineering and mixing all of their music at their home studio. Essentially, it is that sense of pride the guys put into their DIY-led projects that gives their music its unique sound and turns it into this exquisite marriage of fierce, energydriven guitars paired with astounding melodies and addictive, irresistible choruses. And it works. Looking at the new year and the upcoming months, the foursome has already got a few tricks up their sleeves, which might even be album-shaped after the band’s long run of EPs: “Before, we have never written a body that has felt like an album. But I think we are getting closer to something feeling like that. We just don’t want to put it out for the sake of it. We want it to be something that we are proud of.” As vague as that sounds, one can be sure that 2021 will not be short of yet another enchanting Wild Front release to dream to. And while the group’s ascent may not have been an overnight one, they are definitely one of the top tier bands to keep an eye on right now. It won’t be long before they’re everywhere.
MANDALANE Written by Victoria Madzak Photo by German Vemeyan
The COVID-pandemic has affected everyone in the music industry, especially upcoming acts who were supposed to embark on their first touring adventures in 2020 and the last few months – including the Viennese band Mandalane. Vicky Madzak spoke to the lead singer Niklas Budinsky about how his band had to replace their live shows with performances being uploaded to their Instagram account and took a trip down memory lane, providing insight on the band’s highlights of the past few years. Ever since its formation, Mandalane (all members in their early 20s) have been steadily gaining a lot of followers and listeners by continuously sharing their progress with their fans online. In a nutshell, the band’s history is quite simple: “I have always been interested in making music. I learned how to play the piano when I was four years old and how to play the guitar when I was eleven,”, Budinsky remembers. When he was in high school – a music school of course – he met Julian Auer, who was taken over by playing the bass, and the both of them quickly went on to make music together. Through a mutual friend, they later met their drummer Alexander Gruber and officially decided to start a band. Like many bands on the comeup, the talented group writes, records and produces all of their songs themselves in a studio on the outskirts of Vienna: “It’s the best way to keep our creative freedom,”, Budinsky explains.
experience. Around that time, Budinsky, Auer and Gruber also decided to step up their fashion game, so they could be recognised more easily and visually express themselves. “It’s an ongoing struggle,”, Budinsky laughs, explaining how their different styles often don’t seem to match, causing heated discussions during video- and photoshoots.
den In 2018, the trio often travelled to Stockholm to connect with people who could potentially help them improve their songwriting and producing skills and to simply gain
A year later, the group took part in the German casting show ‘My Hit. Your Song.’, where they covered ‘Want To Want Me’ and ‘The Other Side’ by Jason Derulo, who was also serving as a judge in the show and absolutely blown away by their performance. And not only Derulo but also Olly Murs quickly became a fan of the group, comparing their style to The 1975 – a massive compliment, since Mandalane still like to credit them as one of their favourite bands and inspirations, alongside Bon Iver and Coldplay. When it comes to songwriting, Mandalane like to follow the footsteps of many other creatives. As Budinsky admits, he is the most productive at night: “I find inspiration in the starry night sky, street lights, candles and red wine”. The lyrics are often about love, finding comfort in your significant other and appreciating their existence – “what are the odds...” to meeting them in the first place, Budinsky sings in their single ‘The Odds’. Their lyrics might come across as mainstream, but their sound definitely doesn’t – it’s “too much rock for radio, too much pop for SoundCloud” as they capture it in their Instagram bio. And it‘s true. Mandalane don’t fit any genre, they’re just being their most authentic selves in everything they do, and if there is one thing we are sure of, it is that that will definitely be rewarded in the future. Their start might not have been the easiest, but this is only their beginning.
THIS PINE BOX Four talented guys, a stolen drum mat, and above all a lot of passion for music: that’s This Pine Box in a nutshell. Around a year ago, the Ohio-based band, founded in 2016 by Jake Knight, Joe Tellman, JP Demmel, and Tim Garner, was still looking forward to a good summer. Just like for every other artist, 2020 turned out to be a year of cancelled shows and staying at home for the group. With all this time off the road, the band, like many others, started working on new music. Last November they released their catchy song ‘Watchya Got’, which is the title track of their upcoming EP. “It is one of our favourite songs we have put out so far,”, states the band proudly. “If we were to describe our band, we would call ourselves “students of the masters”.” Meet This Pine Box, an ambitious and buoyant band from the United States. Usually, their years consist of playing between 40 to 60 live shows, but in 2020 they only played two. “Now that we can’t do in-person shows, we rather focus on making new music,”, explains the quartet. They have done a lot of recording the past year, but not in the environment they were used to. “We started recording in our bedrooms and building songs up from the ground, which is something that we hadn’t necessarily done before. It does feel like you might end up in a slightly different place if you are building it in your own space. There’s a different kind of workflow than when you are sitting in a studio.”
Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Jack Bridgland
Written by Ine Vanvuchelen Photo by Sophie Seay
With an EP on its way and plans for their sophomore album waiting to be realised, the band is ready for a fresh start in 2021. “Our EP ‘Watchya Got’ will be out on February 12th – there are some bangers on there. Our album will be a little bit more parable based, which is a different direction than what we have done before.”
GE Looking back on the past rather than the future, the group remembers one particular moment that has stuck with them ever since. “We stayed at a hotel once and when we were leaving, I saw this rug that said, “making you happy makes us happy”,”, JP starts off his story about the stolen drum mat. “When we were done packing up all of our stuff, I went back in to grab a coffee but instead of going back outside, I kept walking, picked up the rug, and put it in the car.” The very same rug now serves as a drum mat, with the quote facing the crowd whenever they perform. “We apologise for taking the mat, but on the other hand, it has been greatly used. Someday we will buy them a new one,”, the group laughs. On a more serious note, the quote on the rug tells no lies, as making people feel happy is exactly what the band is here to do. “Sometimes the music that means the most to me is the songs that transfer something that I don’t know how to express or explain,”, Knight states. “It is awesome if our music can do that for people as well.”
Written by Vanessa Valentine Photo by Eric Aydin-Barberini
Athena Skye is breaking rules with her genrebending melodies. A lyricist at heart- she spent her childhood honing her craft. Undeniably honest with her words, Skye has an ability to put all your thoughts and feelings into a song, and make you want to play it over and over again. In November 2020, the singer-songwriter released her debut single from her East London apartment. Growing up in Atlanta, which is a music capital in its own right, she had always dreamed of moving to the UK to pursue her passion. Two years after making the move, ‘Over & Over Again’ was released. The track was created in lockdown. Her lyrics, “But my hopes and dreams, so dark they seem” reflect a feeling common among creatives at this time. The song explores themes of confidence and feeling lost in an industry that’s future is looking bleak. When talking about the track, she gushed: “It’s a perfect representation of me, my songs are always an honest reflection of what I’m going through.” Like many others, Skye uses songwriting as therapy, as music has always remained a constant in her life and has helped her work through many a difficult situation.
spent a year or so gigging, which is where she met the like-minded individuals that helped shape her into the confident, business-minded artist she is today. Although Skye is currently working as a self-funded and independent artist, she comes across as polished and professional both in-person and online. The selfproclaimed perfectionist released a visualiser for ‘Over & Over Again’ on YouTube that was expertly put together. The video marries to the track perfectly. It is bursting with colour and cut up by a retro style of editing that puts a modern twist on a singer that’s clearly inspired by the ’90s.
MS Skye isn’t quite a newcomer to the scene, she has had some success on Soundcloud. Her most notable being a cover of ‘All The Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar and SZA that she released three years ago. The track has garnered 129k streams to date. However, moving to London is when she really came into her own artistically. Pre-pandemic, she
A possible Ariana Grande in the making, her music can best be described as pop meets old school R&B. The singer’s gentle tone is reminiscent of a 2012 Frank Ocean. Skye wants to keep the ball rolling now she has material out in the world. She teased plenty of new music, working with the same producer, that’s ready to go. Skye was connected with New Zealand-based Joey C in perhaps the most Gen-Z way possible, via Instagram. When asked about the direction in which she wishes to take her sound in the future, the talented singer states: “I don’t care to be put in a box, I don’t care to be bound by a specific genre.” She is open to life and everything it has to offer with her music adapting to the ever-changing journey. Her next track is coming out later this year and we can’t wait to see what she gives us next. Athena Skye is definitely one to watch - this won’t be the last time you see her in GEM.
Your words. Your opinions. Presenting:
YOUR VOICE MATTERS. USE IT. wRITTEn bY VAnESSA VAlEnTInE 30
Social justice has become a mainstream focus in all of our daily lives. The rise of the internet has given many marginalised communities, which may not have been heard over the political noise of the mainstream media 20+ years ago, a voice. This has provided us with many great opportunities and connections. But issues that catch wind often turn into trends. Social justice has been commodified.
Take pride month, for example, a month founded to celebrate the ongoing work for acceptance and equality of the LGBTQIA+ community has now transformed into a branded holiday. Commercialisation is where the disconnect lays: brands promoting gay pride are not consistent in supporting the people they are profiting off. This has happened with Black Lives Matter, International Women’s Day and will continue to percolate unless we take a stand and call out this performative activism.
We’ve all seen the video of the white woman posing in front of a broken window at a Black Lives Matter march in June, and it set the internet afire and she was subsequently ‘cancelled’. Although “cancel culture” comes with its own challenges, using it to hold people accountable for stunts of performative activism like this is surely acceptable. It’s important for all of us to keep questioning: Am I doing enough to support these causes in real life as well as online? Before the dawn of social media, governments were the gatekeepers of information. Platforms like Twitter are helping tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges through education. It’s a tool that provides space for people to participate in influencing decisions historically made by governments. The world needs our generation to act for human and environmental rights to remind politicians that we’re here and we won’t be silenced.
Performative activism is defined as “when a person or group joins on a political bandwagon in order to keep up appearances”. The matter of saying versus doing is made complicated for most of us by the element of financial security. Students can only go so far with their words on Twitter - our capacity to influence is limited and incomparable to that of billion-dollar corporations. However, it’s important to keep standing up for social justice issues and encouraging people to do the same. Visibility is how we reach acceptance.
Having liberal views and not acting on them is no longer good enough when faced with being called out for not posting enough on social justice issues, it’s easy to cling on to all the good deeds done rather than facing complicity in the oppression of others. While retweeting doesn’t solve the problem, it does raise awareness.
Using your platform - no matter how small - to advocate is an easy and fast way to use your privilege in a positive way. 21st-century activism is sharing petitions, charities and raising issues through social media. While posting an Instagram story in support of transgender lives is good, it’s also important to ensure that your actions in real life match up. In addition to online allyship, you should be using your voice to condemn acts of prejudice if you hear them. Challenging someone using incorrect pronouns is a small example of how we ensure our generation is actively enforcing positive change. I’m sure to many people reading this, difficult conversations are the norm, but this your reminder to consider that your words are only as powerful as the actions you place behind them.
In addition to reposting frustrations on politics, do your research and boycott companies that support right-wing ideologies. Social media has given our generation a chance to directly influence the people in power and rally them to make radical and real change. Not seizing this opportunity and using it in every way you can risk us being another generation lost to empty symbols and promises. Our voices are stronger and louder together. Your voice matters, use it.
WHËRË THË FÜÑ STÜFF HÅPPËÑS
MANDALANE When people think of Austrian cuisine, they usually like to think of Viennese Schnitzel, Bratwurst and the odd Gulasch. Fatty, meaty and definitely not meant to be included in a diet, for newbies to the country its restaurants definitely don‘t seem vegetarian or even vegan-friendly. But with more and more people discovering the environmental, health, and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet, even the food culture in Austria has set off for a change of mind. It comes to no surprise therefore that especially young people are at the forefront of that change, with the rockers of the Austrian indie-group Mandalane placing themselves right amongst them. For their frontman Niklas Budinsky, there is nothing better than a hearty dish of vegan pasta bolognese. And as we know that resistance always takes the fast way out when it comes to pasta, here is how you can make this delicious comfort food yourself: Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 large carrots, grated 1 tbsp tomato purée 1 courgette, diced 1 tin of lentils or a pack of vegan mince 1 jar or tin of your favourite tomato sauce 300g spaghetti herbs and spices fresh basil, to serve (optional) 1.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and carrots and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened. Then stir in the garlic, tomato purée, and chopped courgette. Cook for a few minutes, then add the lentils or vegan mince, and the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan loosely and cook for 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency. Stir often and add a splash of the cooking water from the pasta if the sauce starts to catch on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, finish cooking the pasta to pack instructions. To serve, season the sauce with your favourite herbs and spices and spoon over the drained pasta. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves, if you like. Enjoy!
Gunther on Insta w o
at @gunter.s gram
Written by Lauren Dehollogne // Photos by Gunther Segers
ART OF THE MOMENT
The past year has been tough on all of us. Social interactions have been limited, plans had to be cancelled and at times it felt as if there was no positive future in our sights so how have we been able to grasp on to our sanity this year? It has been an up and down battle and in a year where multiple governments around the world have been trying to undermine the creative arts industry, art has been proven to be the quintessential being to lift up part of our sorrow. Gunther Segers, a Belgian based artist has been reaching his “goals” yet he says “it feels as if these goals disappear into nothingness by lack of availability to celebrate successes.” His art is inspired by the way the world has an effect on him as an individual. Segers gives the example of a certain objectification of his inspiration, the way the door of a train opens. To him, art is a way of escaping the struggles of everyday life. Segers is aware of the multitude of emotions that can be felt whilst people are looking at his work but says that it touches him when someone recognises and appreciates it within the words or imagery of his art. The moment the artist and viewer align in their ideas and experiences, it creates the feeling of togetherness for Segers, “they‘re not alone and neither am I“. 33