Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 87 / the alternative music tabloid
The girl from Pereira
Kali Uchis + Yaeji Snapped Ankles Eyedress Philipp Gorbachev Goldie A guide to End Of The Road 2017
A guide to End of the road 2017 – 12 yaeji – 16 snapped ankles – 20 eyedress – 22 Philipp gorbachev – 24 kali uchis – 26 goldie – 32
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 87 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
The girl from Pereira
Kali Uchis + Yaeji Snapped Ankles Eyedress Philipp Gorbachev Goldie A guide to End Of The Road 2017
c o v er p h o t o g raphy n a t h a n i el wo o d
Earlier this month Goldie revealed who Banksy was. Kinda. But not really. He casually referred to him as ‘Rob’ on Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces podcast, which did nothing to quell the rumour that Banksy is Massive Attack’s 3D (Robert Del Naja), a guy who you’d presume Goldie knows pretty well. The Daily Star – a reliable news source if there never was one – seemed happy enough with that thin theory to go with the headline ‘Who is Banksy? Identity revealed as Massive Attack’s 3D’, standing by the mainstream press tradition of making two plus two equal not-quite-four-but-thanks-for-theclick. This is how we got to fake news and, in turn, how a Trump administration has hijacked and overloaded the term to get away with murder – it could be argued, literally. Since last month’s Loud And Quiet, though, we’ve had a General Election, the overwhelming new hope that has come with a decreased Tory government and a victorious Jeremy Corbyn, and with it something that is hopefully everlasting – the weakening of newspapers’ influence. Marginalised young people got mobilised, and they don’t read the papers – they watch videos of grime artists talking to politicians about standing up for themselves. It was only a matter of time before media bias started to fall on deaf ears. Goldie doesn’t give up Banksy in our own interview with him this month, although at various salacious points he does say that there’s no God (call The Mail), “thank fuck for yoga” (call The Guardian) and that Jeremy Corbyn is “a good lad, not like Ed Balls.” Kalis Uchis doesn’t hold her tongue either, although her delivery is more in line with her polarised personality – a shy/tough 22-year-old from Colombia who, inspired by straight-talking women like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, finds herself in LA’s young hip-hop scene, questioning just how big she wants to become. She’s well aware of how ridiculous fame is – the thing is, she’s already very good at it. Stuart Stubbs
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Julia jacklin spent her sixteenth summer living out a real life version of Mean Girls, if Lindsay Lohan had played rugby
ulia Jacklin: This photo was taken in the front yard at my mum’s house, Christmas 2006. My right leg is in a full cast. It was on for the whole summer, in 40 degree heat. I’d played in my school’s rugby team for the last 6 months – a group of us were starting to become some version of feminists and we went on a tirade about how there was no female rugby union team at my school, so we formed one. And it was really fun until I got really badly injured. It was a pretty bad tackle, where I tore my meniscus. I was really sporty, which came from being where I was from in New SouthWales. It was social capital at my school. I was really into athletics and soccer and hockey, and then rugby. It didn’t really continue once I got into music. I really enjoyed playing sport but it never really got me going or lit a fire in me. I guess I was just naturally good at it because I was very competitive. I got more and more fearless with my body, and I remember that tackle so well, and knowing in the moment that I should not have gone for it, because the girl was a lot bigger than me and I knew it was going to end badly as I was running at her. It made me realise for the first time that my actions have consequences. And so at a time when I was starting to sneak out and go to parties and rebel, I missed out that summer because I had this cast on. I feel like I hear these stories all the time that go, ‘… and this is when I learned to play guitar.’ I
As told to stuart stubbs didn’t have that epiphany. I probably just moped around, watched TV and pissed my mum off a lot listening to loud music. I’m looking at my whole schtick here, like what I’m wearing and my hair, and how confusing that was.Where did that hairstyle come from!? Because that was a big thing. I think it came from Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday, or Hilary Duff – Avril Lavigne too – real clean popstars who were marketed to teenagers as rebels. I was listening to a really confusing mix of stuff. I was listening to Linkin Park a lot, but I was also into Radiohead, and also The Drifters and Doris Day – stuff that I’d grown up listening to.Then there was another side to me that was pretending to listen to music that I really didn’t like – I remember having lots of conversations about that band HIM, who to this day I’ve still not even listened to, but I pretended because I thought it was the height of coolness. It was a really confusing time. I knew I wanted to do music, but I had no avenue to express that or figure it out. Nobody at my school did music; none of my family did. I was doing classical singing, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I couldn’t get any of the lead parts in the school musical however much I tried. And I was really embarrassed about it too – I was embarrassed to sing in front of people, even though I really wanted to. I wished I had the courage to do it, but I’d get so nervous that my voice would shake too much and I’d get facial
twitches, which stayed with me until the end of high school. To be really honest, at that time in my life I was really obsessed with fitting in, and being cool and being liked by boys. I was quite superficial. I was into drinking and getting into mischief. But I had all of these interests – like I loved writing short stories – but none of my friends at the time were into creative things, so I felt like I had to squash that down and be the sporty party girl. That’s why I left that school and went to a school two hours away – because I was pretending to be this Blue Mountain sporty girl. It wasn’t me in any capacity. At that age you don’t really care about each other. We were all friends but we could be really cruel to each other in terms of our bodies and our personalities, and be really judgmental of each other. So as much as I felt successful at having friends, I always felt on edge around them. It’s something that a lot of teenage girls go through – not knowing what friendship really is. To give you an idea of the vibe, a couple of years before I was in a group of 13 girls, and every week this one girl would call a group meeting, and we’d sit in a circle and air our grievances with each other. You’d sit there hoping that no one was going to say something awful about you. It’s so crazy to think of now, because I have all these supportive women in my life. When you’re a teenager, you don’t know what you shouldn’t put up with.
books + ANYONE CAN PLAY GUITAR
Kevin Bacon Reef Younis catalogues the curious music careers of mega celebrities. Illustrated by Josie Sommer. / Michael, who’s older, with music as his day job) are as many studio albums into their career as there are degrees of separation between, Kevin and, say, Rowan Atkinson. In order, they are: ‘Forosco’ (1997), ‘Getting There’ (1999), ‘Can’t Complain’ (2001), ‘White Knuckles’ (2005), ‘New Year’s Day’ (2009) and ‘36 Cents’ (2014) – all healthy slices of country rock folk and Americana that might not have enjoyed the commercial success of other ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ alumni, but, then, none of them played in Daryl Hall’s (of Hall & Oates) house or got to write songs about eggs in a series of curiously painful adverts where a three chord chorus of ‘E G G S / E G G S / E G G S / Eggs!’ will earworm its way into, and ruin, every fry up you will ever eat from now on. It’s in the former, round Daryl’s, where Kevin, sat on a stool and surrounded by his bandmates, proves that he has a solid set of pipes on him. It’s also pretty cute how made up he is to be playing when his guitar (one of about 400) comes in on Hall & Oates’ ‘When The Morning Comes’ – you can YouTube it. It’s not enough to make me rush out and buy an album (not even ‘White Knuckles’) but it does help make this side of Bacon surprisingly satisfying.
Kevin Bacon’s been many things in a long and storied acting career: a restless young dancer in Footloose, a child molester in The Woodsman, a man in an eternal, straight-to-DVD battle with giant cannibal worms in Tremors and the guy who’s spent most of the last decade peddling shit 4G for EE. Let’s not forget, though, that Bacon has also made a brilliant supporting habit in understated classics like JFK, Frost/Nixon, A Few Good Men and Sleepers; that got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and, in 2015, became the face of the US egg industry – and a lifetime of breakfastbased puns. Still, even with that star on Hollywood Blvd, Bacon’s varied acting career has come to be defined by the Bacon Index – a mathematical formalisation of other actor’s proximity to him based on the annexed ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ meme. On the silver screen, then, he might forever be considered the ultimate supporting actor but that all changes when it comes to The Bacon Brothers. Here, behind the recording studio microphone, there’s no more playing second fiddle (well, guitar) to the Wahlbergs, Costners and Pitts of this world. The Bacon Brothers (the other one’s called
by jani ne & L ee bullman
Gallow’s Pole by Benjamin Myers bluemoose
The first of two excellent new novels this month is Benjamin Myers’ northern noir in a creepy-cool cover, Gallow’s Pole. Now six novels in and fully in his stride, Myers has turned his attention to historical true crime in order to tell an astonishing story set in the wild bandit country of preindustrialised eighteenth century Yorkshire. In the book, counterfeiter David Hartley finds his livelihood threatened when he crosses paths with nemesis William Deighton, the man charged with closing down his illegal coining operation. Gallow’s Pole feels as though it was carved out of the landscape which underpins it. Myers’ prose rumble and skip, and yet again it marks him as one of the most versatile and original writers hitting the keys.
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile By Adelle Stripe
Psychedelia: 101 Underground Rock Albums 1966 – 1970 by Richard Morton Jack
The second killer novel this month is based on the life of Andrea Dunbar, the Bradford playwright best known for the 1987 film adaptation of her play Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Dunbar’s own story, every bit as gritty and startling as that of her characters, is captured expertly here and used as the frame upon which Adelle Stripe can carefully weave her fiction. Time and place are realistically evoked in Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, and Stripe’s fine toothcomb research and genuine love of her subject are in evidence throughout, as is her own stark, sharp and direct voice. This is an extraordinary book made all the more impressive in being the author’s debut novel.
Although covering a period of just four years, Psychedelia 66 – 70 brings to life a frenetic, creative and fascinating period that saw seismic shifts in popular culture, many of them fuelled by unbounded experimentation and mind-expanding drugs. Here, Morton Jack examines chronologically the 101 albums that plot the journey down the rabbit hole from which the world never quite emerged. No artist or band appears more than once, ensuring a dizzying array of records are celebrated, from the ones you already own to the ones you’ve never heard of. Where else would Love and the Mothers of Invention rub psychedelic shoulders with Hapshash and the Coloured Coat?
getting to know you
Waxahatchee Katie Crutchfield has a celebrity face-matching app that has her down as a 64-year-old man. She named her band after her favourite place in the world, and this month releases her fourth album, ‘Out In The Storm’, via Merge Records /
The best piece of advice you’ve been given Rose Melberg told me not to sweat it if you go a long time without writing songs. I used to think taking breaks from writing meant that maybe I would lose the ability. Your favourite word I like soft-sounding words like ‘cloud’ or ‘rum’ or ‘love’. Anything that sounds smooth. Your pet-hate I’m going to assume this means ‘pet-peeve’? Took me a minute. I would say that being late really irks me. I don’t mind when other people are late, I just hate when I’m late or stuck in traffic or have no control over getting myself where I need to go when I need to go. It’s a control thing.
The thing you’d rescue from a burning building Probably my favourite clothes of the moment and my guitar.
Your favourite item of clothing Currently it’s a pair of shorts made out of sweatpants material, Pons Avarcas shoes and a Kansas City Royals hat.
The worst date you’ve been on I’ve never been on a terrible one! Hoping to keep that streak going.
Your biggest disappointment The 2016 presidential election.
Your first big extravagance I bought myself a laptop after my second record. It was the first expensive thing I ever bought myself. Your hidden talent I’m pretty good at ski-ball. Do you have ski-ball in England?
What is success to you? Creative fulfilment and staying busy.
Your style icon “My sister Allison and viv albertine”
The film you can quote the most of Coal Miner’s Daughter. Your favourite place in the world Waxahatchee Creek. I named my band after it! It’s peaceful and I have so many amazing memories growing up there. The one song you wished you’d written ‘Side of the Road’ by Lucinda Williams. The most famous person you’ve met I served coffee to Alec Baldwin once. He was nice and tipped well. The best book in the world The Hear is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Your guilty pleasure I try not to have guilty pleasures. No shame.
People’s biggest misconception about you That I’m a sad person because I write sad songs. Who would play you in a film of your life? According to a celebrity face-matching app, Tim Allen.
If you could only eat one food forever, it would be… Maybe avocados. Or BBQ. The worst job you’ve had I babysat for a family in Manhattan once. They always forgot to pay me even though they were super rich.
The celebrity that pissed you off the most even though you’ve never met them I try not to let celebrities piss me off *because* I’ve never met them.
What talent do you wish you had? I wish I could play drums. How would you choose to die? Peacefully in my sleep at the age of 100. What is the most overrated thing in the world? Olives.
The worst present you’ve received I’m a really hard person to buy gifts for. Anything I reeeeally want I always just buy for myself. So I’d like to intercept the blame here, and I do think it’s the thought that really counts The characteristic you most like about yourself I think I’m pretty good at remaining positive and keeping a group of people positive in a stressful situation. Your biggest fear My most inane but frequent fear is not being able to fall asleep when I know I have to be up early.
What, if anything, would you change about your physical appearance? I try not to focus on that but I would maybe make my fingers half an inch longer for guitar reasons. What’s your biggest turn-off? A person with no filter. What would you tell your 15-year-old self? Hang in there – in 10 years all the long hours writing and practicing will start to pay off. Your best piece of advice for others It’s okay to say no.
A Loud And Quiet guide to
End of The Road Staff picks We’re pretty sure that the highlights of EOTR (Aug 31 - Sept 3) will be as worthy of a mention here. Aldous Harding possesses an unpredictably like nobody else, though. Sometimes she sings her gothic folk songs in a deep, stoned, Nico-ish purr; at other times she’s got that Joanna Newsom, sprite thing going on; her lyrics sound foreboding even when they’re about a pool party. You may get as far as the vegan sushi roll truck and decide that’s you for the weekend. That’s cool, but at least check out Aldous Harding – it could be something really special.
01. Timber Timbre
It’s a stone cold fact that Timber Timbre have released one of the best guitar albums of the year so far. The good news is that if ‘Sincerely, Future Pollution’ has passed you by, you’re not the only one, and so there’s still time to discover it and tell everybody else how good it is. A record about the “utter chaos and confusion” of 2016 (a great year), the Canadian band’s sixth album is coldwave if coldwave had a sleazy lounge groove, like Nick Cave fronting a bitter ’80s Vegas house band. Bring your black velvet suit for this one.
06. Klein on the BBC
End of the Road have an exciting hook up in place for the first time this year, with BBC Radio 3’s experimental music show The Late Junction. The BBC! On the Friday night, they’ll be taking over the Tipi Tent to record four experimental musicians for later broadcast. It’s how South London artist Klein got involved with the festival. Last year she self-released two darkly fascinating albums of anti-easylistening: ‘Only’ and the more disturbing ‘Lagata’. Having grown up in a religious Nigerian household without pop music, and relocating first to Lagos and then to L.A., Klein’s jarring sound collages of gospel singing, spoken word and found sounds is not typical EOTR fare because it’s not typical of anything.
07. Moses Sumney
techno early this year. She’ll have us covered for that spaced-out Twin Peaks feeling (with ‘Keep Walking’), an oddly enjoyable sense of claustrophobia (‘Arthur’) and some sub-bass mellow dance music you can dance too, but, for everyone’s sake, not too much.
03. Kelly Lee Owens
The heart and soul of End of the Road has always been folk music and indie rock. It’s still the case today, but the festival’s electronic bill has increasingly become a reason to go all by itself. A former cancer nurse from Wales, Kelly Lee Owens released her self-titled debut album of subtle, enveloping
away from Fuck Buttons reached new heights this year with third album ‘World Eater’ – a record of pummelling, dark electronics that’s more than noise and something other than post-rock. Like Timber Timbre’s latest album, it was inspired by a shitty 2016. It’d be a shame to miss out on the full sensory force of it because your head explodes.
04. Blanck Mass
Guessing you heard that story about a guy who went to a Blanck Mass show and didn’t take earplugs? His head literally exploded. Yeah, my mate’s brother knew the guy. The fact is that Benjamin John Power’s solo project
05. Aldous Harding
So, yeah, folk music and indie rock really is still the backbone of End of the Road, with Bill Callahan, Julia Jacklin, Mac DeMarco and Ty Segall all
Like the work of Woodkid or Hans Zimmer, Moses Sumney makes the kind of music that’s perfect for soundtracking sweeping aerial shots of epic landscapes – something Larmer Tree Gardens is good for. It’s somehow grand and intimate. When he played a pair of sold-out shows at London’s Old St Pancras church last autumn the room could barely contain the noise he was making with just a guitar and loop pedal. Alarm bells are probably ringing right now because we said ‘loop pedal’. That’s fair, but come and see Sumney for a bit of a laugh too – he’s a joker more than his music lets on.
Photography by Jonangelo Molinari & Tim Cochrane
Don’t forget to pack an extra bag for End of the Road – one for all your standard festival gear (yoga mat, Keep Calm and Listen to Nirvana T-shirt), and another with what you intend to wear to HMLTD’s show. That should include blue lipstick, platform rockabilly creepers, a faux fur jacket, aqua eye shadow, black nail polish, a string vest, your old school trousers (pre-year 9) and something from your nearest bondage store. These guys make an effort so let’s pay back some of that respect. Before every show they play, HMLTD measure the entirety of the venue and dress it for a one-off theme. In the past that’s included Heaven and Atlantis. We might not get that, but their bat-shit mix of industrial gothrock, spaghetti western glam, new romantic pageantry and the occasional ’90s rave drop should make up for it. Bill Callahan will be playing on the other stage.
ts icke t 2 Win R at EOT / o t .com iet ndqu a r d u lo -eot /win t r o sh
L&Q x EOTR
For the second year running, we’ve teamed up with End of The Road. This is what we’ll be up to on site.
Not music There’s more to End Of The Road than stupid songs Glastonbury invented the extra curricular side of British festivals, where if you didn’t fancy watching Blur you could go and see some guy juggle, or have a fight with a Diablo. Everyone has a non-music program these days, but End of the Road’s has taken on a life of its own, due to the scaled down, pretty site of Larmer Tree Gardens, and how heartfelt it all feels. They’re a crafty bunch and as such encourage guests to do as they do, with a bunch of workshops that are especially good for tricking children into not shouting their stupid little heads off. Adults are welcome too, as long as you’re OK with not being able to carve a wooden spoon better than a 6-year-old. If that’s going to be a problem, between walks around the Victorian gardens, through installations and the odd secret set by bands on the bill, here’s what’s good away from the music.
Loud And Quiet presents the Big Top stage, with a running order of:
music in Throbbing Gristle, it’s one hell of an apt title, and a far more interesting read than a lot of rock memoirs. A bit of David Lynch
Watching movies at a music festival is a bit counter-intuitive. End of the Road do make the whole thing so fucking tempting, though. Their cinema is the comfiest spot on the site, and this year they’re apparently moving it and making it better. As well as Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar’s remake of Purple Rain (called Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red in It), this year’s showings include the original Twin Peaks pilot followed by Blue Velvet on the opening Thursday night. Videopia
The Adam Buxton Podcast
Comedy is a big part of End of the Road, with this year’s cast including Joe Lycett, Doc Brown, Cardinal Burns and Jenny Collier. Adam Buxton also returns for a second year to record his interview podcast in front of a live audience. It’s no big deal but we’ll be doing that, too, and so will Amy Annette for her brilliant What Women Want Podcast. It’s not for us to say which of those podcasts is the best, but ‘Dr Buckles’ does have a way about him. It’d be so much easier to hate the guy.
Of those workshops we mentioned where you’ll probably be shown up by a child, the one where you’ll care least is probably Videopia – a filmmaking class that revels in the absurd, where being crap is kind of a bonus. Over the course of last year’s festival they remade Jurassic Park – this year they’ll taking on Labyrinth. We’ve all wanted to be David Bowie at least 100 times in our lives, and now’s your chance. Maybe take a banana to ensure you get the part.
Gold Panda Romare Let’s Eat Grandma Nick Hakim HMLTD Gulp Tides of Man Pixx 12.00pm at the Piano Stage: Live recording of our Midnight Chats podcast, with Nadine Shah in conversation Come and see Nadine indulge us in a lucid conversation that will then be committed to Internet history forever. Midnight ‘til late at the Disco Ship: L&Q presents Father John Misty’s Midnight Mass Following last year’s Bat For Lashes after show disco that one local paper described as “good”, we’ll be playing similar miserable/happy hits in the woods following Father John Misty’s headline set. Join us for The Cure and The Smiths.
Sunday 3rd there’s food too
Cosey Fanni Tutti in Conversation
Each day, before the music starts at around 12pm, the literature line-up gets going with authors reading their work and discussing their writing. This year that will include Cosey Fanni Tutti, who will be talking about her autobiography, Art Sex Music. As a stripper and performance artist who changed the face of experimental, industrial
At any festival you’re going to need sustenance to keep you going. None of this guide works if you forget to eat. In festivals of the past that would include tactical meals – 5 donuts and a Mars Bar for elevenses and a boiled hamburger for dinner if you really needed it. It’s hard not to miss those carefree days, but the food at End of the Road is actually good and good for you. A majority of it is vegetarian, so you’re not tempted to relapse.
4.00pm at the Library Stage: Who prints a zine in 2017? We do. And a lot of other people. Join us and some of them for tips and stories about old fashioned self-publishing in the modern world.
Guide to End of The Road
Ask Alex Your End Of The Road concerns laid to rest by Sydney’s ‘Mr Show business’, Alex Cameron
Ian Tanker, Exeter
I can’t think of a circumstance where it’s not OK to cry. It’s more about how you do it. Are you crying for humanity? Or for yourself? Are you crying on account of you brutalising an animal when you were a kid and it keeps you up at night? Or are you crying because you got a trash pile of insurmountable personal shortcomings? Divorce? Death in the family? Jubilation? Love? Pop a tear pal. Let em have it. If no one comes to comfort you just B line for the medical tent and pretend you took a bad ecstasy tablet. They’ll hug you. I pulled that move at the 2006 Big Day out in Sydney and I’m fine today. Dear Alex: At End Of The Road there are no VIP areas. It makes me nervous that I might find myself stood next to a famous person. If that person was you, how should I act? Jennifer Framp, Woking
Jennifer, if you see me, I’d like to speak to you. Just don’t approach me from behind and make sure you’re clear that we’ve never met before. As for my business partner and saxophone player Roy Molloy, he’s a conversational genius. Go nuts. Ask him about his childhood. He’s got a great story that involves a waterslide and the urine of young women. Dear Alex: I’ve just started learning the acoustic guitar and have ‘Scar Tissue’ pretty much down. It’s
appropriate that I bring it to the festival for the campsite, right?
when you’re sleeping in your clothes. Any tips?
Gareth Meakon, Kent
Paul Hemp, Croydon
Bring the guitar but learn yourself a better song. Like ‘How Bizarre’ or something from Jack Johnson’s prolific earlier years. Then you should smash the guitar against a wall and use it for firewood. Keep a sharp piece of the neck under your pillow for self defence reasons.
Camping is not in the traditional realm of looking good. Last time I camped it was under a tarpaulin in a pile of people on LSD and we all went swimming in what we later found was a still part of river with a bed of human shit. I was wearing a terry towelling cricket hat and some pretty big shades though. Wear some shades.
Dear Alex: Straight up question – should I be going to the Silent Disco or the normal disco? Robbie Jackson, London
I’m a normal disco kinda guy. On account of that, silent discos are a total joke. Dear Alex: Whenever my boyfriend and I go to End Of The Road, he wants to spend all of his time in the games area, beating kids at Ping-Pong. Am I with the wrong guy?
Dear Alex: I’ve been a bit of a rebel in the past, running through fields of wheat that weren’t mine and wot not. How would you suggest one is equally as naughty at End Of The Road?
Dear Alex: Naturally, I want to look GOOD at the festival, but it’s difficult
Dear Alex: I’m sure I won’t need it, but do you have a foolproof hangover cure? Philip Stark, Harrow
Hangovers are awful. Unless you get one of those nice fuzzy ones where everything’s funny and you’re desperately horny. I like to get in the shade either way. Start drinking iced liquid. And if you gotta vomit then just have it. Don’t pussy foot around being nauseous all day. Hit the button at the back of your throat and start breakdancing all over again.
You should free your body. Remove your clothes. What are they gonna do, arrest you? Big deal. People wanna see each other nude I don’t get what the hubbub is. We’re more prudish than our parents were. Get naked.
Susan Shipley, Taplow
It depends on how the sex is. Competitive guy, so I’d say he’s an eager lover. Maybe not the most dexterous or sensitive but certainly willing and able. Kinda reminds me of myself in that way. If he’s like me, all you gotta do is make it clear that he’s upset you by neglecting your needs and he’ll crumble into the shape of a small companion animal. If that doesn’t work then go single for 18 months. Get your life in order and start again.
body is receiving the right salts and minerals. Don’t kid yourself. Stay hydrated.
Dear Alex: I’ve heard the food at EOTR is really good. Is there any cuisine I should avoid, though? I won’t be having the fish curry at Reading Festival again, for example. Or any other tips for sustenance at festivals? Margot Falstaff, Brighton
Sustenance is important, but I’m a big hydration guy. I make sure my whole crew is hydrated. If someone pulls up short with dry mouth or a headache or I see Roy’s in a bad mood, chances are it’s a hydration issue. Water is good, but if it’s real hot you wanna be putting some sugar in there too. Make sure the
Dear Alex: I’m taking my nephew to EOTR and was of course planning on seeing your show. Can you 100% guarantee that it will be suitable for an 8-year-old boy? Rachel Bifford, Hitchin
Yes Rachel. Our show is 100% family friendly. If there’s anything you find offensive, I assure you it rings true in reality – and even through the darkness, I hope there’s something on offer for people from a moralistic standpoint. One of my songs also sounds a bit like the Thomas The Tank Engine theme song. He’ll like that one. It’s about alcoholism.
Photography by Sibilla Calzolari
Dear Alex: Father John Misty is headlining EOTR this year. I love his new album, but Jesus Christ, it’s dark. What I’m saying is, when is it ok to cry at a music festival?
Yaeji A visual artist and house musician finally finds a home in New York City Photography: David cortes / writer: colin groundwater
Be low: Kat h y Y ae j i L e e in he r art s tud io. Bu shw ick, Br oo k ly n, Ne w York Cit y .
met Yaeji at her Bushwick studio on a rainy day in May. The weather was thoroughly grey, but the space that Yaeji dedicates to her visual art was bathed in a soft yellow light. It poured for most of the day, but she left the door open for the duration of my visit to let the cool air and the sound of it drift in. Yaeji – Kathy Yaeji Lee, but really just Yaeji – is a rising New York-based DJ whose hypnotic house-inflected tunes have found their way around the globe in the past year. You may have heard her remix of Drake’s ‘More Life’ highlight ‘Passionfruit’, which made the rounds through the Web recently to positive reviews. When she spoke with me, she was preparing to play her first Boiler Room set on the heels of her self-titled new EP. Released by GODMODE, it’s a promising collection of five diverse, engaging songs. Highlights include ‘New York 93’, a meditative and surreal take on memory, and ‘Feel It Out’, a thumping dance track that’s as infectious as it is playful, and has the singer dancing with pineapples in its video. From a quick look at Yaeji’s studio, however, you wouldn’t guess any of that. “I mostly paint here, and try to keep it that way,” she explains. “I try to keep music at home.” Before anything, Yaeji gives me a tour of the place, which she shares with four ceramicists and a graffiti painter. Passing over a few unfinished canvases in her corner of the space, she takes care to talk about the work of each of her studio mates, making the case for their art with a genuine enthusiasm. It’s a moment that reflects something central about Yaeji’s character. She cares deeply about her friends and collaborators; it’s an ethic rooted in a longstanding commitment to kinship and community. You can trace that value throughout the producer’s life. An only child born in Queens, Yaeji moved around frequently during her childhood, first around New York City, then to Atlanta, and then back to Seoul. She attributes this move back to South Korea in part to her parents’ concern that she was speaking more and more in English, becoming less Korean. In Seoul she switched between different international schools on an almost yearly basis. As a result, it was often
difficult for Yaeji to settle in to any kind of community. “It’s really hard to make friends,” she reflects, as if the thought has only just occurred to her. Without a stable local social group, Yaeji turned, like so many of her generation, to the Internet. It comes at no surprise that this led to one of her first encounters with music. “For a minute I got really into this Korean DIY scene of making your stamps out of erasers and drawing your own stickers and selling them online,” she says. “The music associated with it was bossa nova, like jazz music, and certain Korean indie bands at the time.” She would visit small storefronts in Seoul where people associated with this culture would sell their stickers and stamps, and this music would be playing at the small pop-up retailers. The memory is an early example of a connection Yaeji forged with a community that had its own unique musical identity. Still, music wasn’t her primary interest yet. In her early years, she thought she would become a visual artist and trained accordingly, eventually enrolling in the Fine Arts program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Though she started out painting, she gradually became more interested in conceptual art. Yaeji considers Pittsburgh to be one of the first places where she could settle in. Four years was a comparatively long time for her to be in one place. During her sophomore year, she joined Carnegie Mellon’s radio station WRCT (88.3 FM, for those of you who should ever find yourself in the Pittsburgh area). This might constitute the most pivotal moment in Yaeji’s musical career: WRCT introduced her to the electronic underground. While the scene in Pittsburgh isn’t exactly what you’d call thriving, Yaeji found a small, tight-knit community that enabled her to develop her taste and her talent, from early days of DJing on Ableton to eventually producing her own tracks. “It was a newly discovered love,” she says, and it took off like a rocket. Suddenly she was skipping class all the time to stay home and make music. Listening to tracks, she would retroactively unpack the samples and beats, effectively taking a self-taught course in ’90s hip-hop and R&B. During this period, she would often
try to integrate music with her visual art – during college she worked on a series where she made tracks for visuals and vice versa. Now, she keeps them separate, a division reflected in the stark distinction between home and studio.
he first song Yaeji ever uploaded to Soundcloud, a house track called ‘areyouami’, became the moment when she realised that making music was a real, serious possibility for her future. “I showed it to my friend, and he’s the one who actually helped me download Ableton and showed me how to use it. He listened to it and cried,” she remembers in a solemn tone. “Here’s someone I respect so much, who’s been teaching me everything, and he’s crying.” Armed with more confidence and experience under her belt,Yaeji moved to New York City after her graduation. She speaks about that period with an unbridled enthusiasm. At last, it seems she found the vibrant community of music and culture she’d been searching for. Often, she would approach strangers she kept on seeing at shows just to introduce herself and make friends. “I was just going out every night; just going to shows and saying hi,” she says. “I was just genuinely so enthusiastic, every day was mindblowing to me.” Bright-eyed, she remembers going to Palisades, an iconic DIY venue in Brooklyn and seeing a show in the DWMS series by Purple Tape Pedigree. “That was my first time seeing club music in a live venue.” She says there was a rare, beautiful camaraderie at that show – at all the Palisades shows – that she found profoundly inspiring. She was where she needed to be. Soon, Yaeji was collaborating within the scene, or simply hanging out. She DJ’d about town, produced a mix for Discwoman, a collective dedicated to showcasing women in electronic music, and contributed to a resistance themed compilation, ‘Physically Sick’, put out by Discwoman and Allergy Season. She hosts an event she calls “Curry in No Hurry,” where she makes curry and friends share music they’re excited about. All in all, Yaeji has settled in nicely.
“Here’s someone I respect so much, and he’s crying” Oddly, you don’t always get that sense from her music. Despite her steadfast commitment to the relationships in her life – perhaps because of it – her music can focus on isolation and the sense of being trapped in one’s head. ‘Noonside’ explores the experience of crossing through customs between Korea and the United States, taking you to a liminal non-state. ‘New York 93’ contrasts the grounding of its title in time and place with the inaccessibility of memory and home. Yaeji’s lyrics, sung in English and Korean, also lend the music a certain opacity. Favouring abstraction over the obvious, she’s made a conscious decision to use language she thought few people could understand. “Korean
was a way for me to hide what I was actually talking about,” she explains. Now, however, she keeps an ongoing notebook filled with words and phrases that she can consider for loops and lyrics on new tracks. “I realised Korean sounds really nice, just texturally. It’s almost very percussive, very angular, in a way. And I sing quietly, so it has a nice ASMR texture to it.” Regardless, if Yaeji thought she could hide anything by singing in Korean, she may have miscalculated. “I didn’t ever imagine that Korean people would listen to this in Korea!” she says, with genuine surprise. But now,Yaeji is taking off on a global scale. Looking ahead, she mentions the scene in Seoul in particular, where she
lived for the bulk of her formative years. “Korea is in its infancy,” she tells me. “It’s a very exciting time. I do want to spend a huge chunk of time there if I can, to grow with it.” Ever one to bump members of her musical community, she name checks a few local institutions. Cakeshop, an iconic and influential club, and Contra, its new sister venue, both showcase artists and sounds on the cutting edge; Clique Records, according to Yaeji, is the record store for dance music in Seoul; and Seoul Community Radio, a platform for the burgeoning underground music community that offers great sounds from a wide range of genres. With strong roots in place, there are exciting possibilities on the horizon.
The same, of course, can be said for Yaeji. For now, she’s just excited to be out and about, playing shows or attending them, making music or just listening to it with friends. Regardless of what she’s doing and when and where she does it, there’s no doubt that Yaeji can find and form fertile communities that enable her to flourish. Those communities will surely only widen along with her audience.
Snapped Ankles Embrace your primal fears with the performance art band who play synthesisers made from logs Photogra phy: timothy cochrane / writer: dominic haley
op p o s i t e: s n a p p ed a n k l es with their log instruments at t o t a l r ef r es h men t c e n t r e, D a l s t o n , L o n d o n .
o you know what the beauty of the woodland analogy is?” asks Snapped Ankle’s Patrick Clarke as we sit watching a large Labrador take a dip in the pond behind Hackney City Farm. “It’s that you can apply it to pretty much anything.” “I guess the only thing that really compares to it is football,” he continues with a semi-serious grin; “maybe we’ll do a football themed band next.” It’s the hottest day of 2017 so far and we’ve decided to visit one of Hackney’s last patches of unspoilt woodland for our interview. With my phone malfunctioning in the midday heat, I’m starting to wonder if it really was the best idea, but with both Hackney and the forest hardwired into Snapped Ankles’ DNA, we probably couldn’t have found a better spot if we’d tried. Clarke, dressed in a battered t-shirt and cut-off jeans, has just come from work and looks about as far as you can imagine from his demonic stage persona. Dressed in dead plants, face masks and antlers, the band have a look that is half Jethro Tull, half Sasquatch, and is a hell of a lot more terrifying than the mild-mannered man cheerfully chatting about French cinema who’s sat next to me. Almost everything about Snapped Ankles defies easy categorisation. The music they make is primal, triballike electronica that teeters between the cold, driving motorik rhythms of Can and Neu and the shamanistic, occult-feeling prog-folk of bands like Steeleye Span and Black Widow. “When we started the band going it was mostly groove-based stuff with guitars and drums and keyboard,” says Clarke in typically understated fashion while talking about the band’s origins. “I suppose when you get a live drummer and a groove going things suddenly become post-punk by their very nature.” For Snapped Ankles, the journey into conceptual synth music, like for so many others, began with a love of Kraftwerk. “I loved how they got rid of the drummer and suddenly thought they were robots,” explains Clarke. “They basically decided to embrace new technology and go ‘this is the future and we’re the robots.’ But for us electronic music isn’t the future – electronic music is now vintage.” The four-piece have taken this idea of regression and run with it. Many
bands could be said to encompass the sounds of the forest, by Snapped Ankles almost literally play the plants. Clarke says that they’ve always been into bands like Gum Takes Tooth and Lightning Bolt; “bands using drums and applying the post-punk groove directly. So rather than just buying a synth we thought, why can’t we handmake one or even better, just go out and find a natural one? I found these basic disco triggers and attached them to old bits of timber I’d found in the woods. So we took what looked like a rotten log, added a trigger, and you’ve got your smashed-up synth or guitar, or whatever.” Snapped Ankles experimental instruments have led, in turn, to a highly experimental approach to making music. Getting together for what they call ‘log jams’, most of the band’s songs evolve from freeform drum sessions that see the four members bashing out rhythms on wood, synths and sequencers. “They tend to be an incubator for working Clarke explains after I ask him about playing out the songs,” says Clarke. “It’s a bit like that Public Enemy story – when they wrote ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ they all stood in a room hitting samplers and making absolute chaos. They’d record everything, listen back and go,‘yeah, that’s where it’s working.’ We try and emulate that approach, really. It’s about setting up a bunch of bases that we can eventually develop into new sounds.” These jam sessions also form the foundations of Snapped Ankles’ remarkable live performances. “We’d put on these warehouse shows with performance artists and dancers – all people with good shows, and we apply that thinking to our music. “I managed to convince the rest of the band to wear ghillie suits. They hadn’t really done art performance before, so it was good for those rock boys to be able to take on a different persona. I mean, none of them have a background in performance art; you have to spend a few years rolling around naked in a bin-bag or covered in butter to free yourself up enough to really do performance art.” Although it’s a philosophy that is becoming more difficult to pull off now that they’ve become a touring band, the group are determined that no two gigs should ever be the same.
“We’re trying to deliver the full experience,” says Clarke, “like, take things somewhere beyond just the music. Putting the mask on helps you transcend just being a musician. You end up with this sense of theatre and I’m always looking for ways you can subvert that. Like maybe the band can walk around the audience, or the crowd can wear the masks. “I used to love it when Lightning Bolt would set up in the middle of the crowd,” he continues. “It’s inspiring when you see live bands that try to push it. The stage that bands play on is so regimented. Like, people go to college and get a degree on how to set up bands in a certain way. Those are all things that I think are up for grabs.”
s we talk, it quickly becomes apparent that Clarke is a man whose head is brimming with ideas. Our conversation tumbles at breakneck speed through obscure techno bands, the ecology of ancient woodland and lost horror movies. Almost any thread you pull on releases an explosion of new concepts and tangential thinking, so it’s probably not surprising that Snapped Ankles have made this seemingly large conceptual leap between cold, technological electronica and ancient, occult imagery. “A lot of pagan history has been forgotten, but it’s left this kind of primeval fear of the forest that we’ve tried to tap into,” he explains with a shrug. “It manifests in things like Morris dancing and the Krampus [the half-goat, half-demon folklore figure] and all these old traditions where people dress like the devil and scare kids. I think there’s an aspect of that in the performance of certain genres of music; a fierceness and energy that we’ve decided to have a little fun with.” As well as ancient woodland and pagan deities, a deep love of cinema also plays a large part in Snapped Ankles’ sound and mystique. ‘Drum Cinema’, one of the band’s performance art pieces splices together scenes from Blue Velvet, Peeping Tom and the film from which the band take their name, Misery, while filmmaker Sol Haim is an unofficial member of the band. Signing with Leeds’ Leaf Label in March of this year (“It just had to be that label!” says Clarke when I ask about this, “it’s just
so perfect!”) the band’s just-released EP ‘The Best Light is the Last Light’ is chock-full of nods to classic and arthouse film. Recent single ‘Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin’ is a case in point. A reference to Greta Garbo’s film debut The Saga of Gosta Berling, its main inspiration comes from Jean LucGoddard’s situationist nightmare Weekend; a film that charts the collapse of civilisation through the prism of one couple’s weekend break. Once described as a film that “reads itself, tells the viewer what that reading should be and at the same time tells the viewer that this reading is inaccurate and should be ignored” it’s the ideal foil for Snapped Ankles’ music. “I just love the weird, circular nature of it,” beams Clarke. “I like how it starts with this bourgeois couple planning murders in the city and ends with them being murdered by hippies in the forest.” Wilting under the afternoon sun, we decide to leave the woods and head down to Broadway Market to find some water. Walking past rows of shops and cafes, we find ourselves playing that typical London game of pointing out the new businesses that have appeared since the last time we’d been down this way. “We haven’t publicised it much, but we’ve done some performances with estate agents signs,” says Clarke as we walk past The Albion, a once-famous football pub that’s currently being redeveloped into a fish restaurant. “We were playing this squat and decided to hook our synths up to estate agent signs and dress like estate agents with the ghillie heads. We were basically auctioning off parts of the building in song and almost in time. The look of horror on people’s faces; I think it might be the new direction for the band. As we amble across the bridge spanning Regent’s Canal, I ask if that’s Snapped Ankles’ future, once they’ve released their debut album, ‘Come Play The Trees’ at the end of September. “Rejecting nature and embracing pure capitalism?” asks Clarke. “Yeah, why not? After the forest men; the estate agents.”
Eyedress Laconic indie hip-hop from Manila, about Manila, for Manila Photography: jonangelo molinari / writer: katie beswick
Op p o s i t e: I d r i s V i c u ñ a aka ey ed r es s i n D a l s t o n , e ast Lo n d o n .
dris Vicuña – the Filipino hip-hop artist better known as Eyedress – has a slow, syrupy voice, thick and sweet. Speaking to him is like listening to someone talk through treacle. He is spaced out during our conversation, languorous and palpably exhausted, so it isn’t a huge surprise when he tells me that he is on a massive mushroom comedown and feeling a bit out of it having arrived in a rain-drenched Paris after an all-nighter in Amsterdam where he and his band performed the night before. “We took magic truffles last night so we’re like zombies now. I don’t even know how I’m still awake.” “How were the mushrooms?” “It was scary at one point, but fun though. We were in our hotel room tripping out. We wanted to have the whole Amsterdam experience.” He pauses for a long time, as if he has dropped the thread of his thoughts. “We played a show there. The show was cool. I think some people bought some records, so that’s good enough for me.” Eyedress is touring his album – the brilliant but terribly titled ‘Manila Ice’ – a celebration of the Manila music scene, made in collaboration with friends and peers from his home city. It was written after he returned from a stint in the UK in 2015, where he was signed to XL Recordings. “[XL] had me collaborating with people who they found suitable. It made me miss my friends back home and everything we were doing back there. So when I got home I decided to make an album with my friends.” There is another long, vacant silence. “So yeah. I moved back and I wanted to make this album with friends because I missed all the things we were doing before I left – so when I got back that was my goal, to work with all the most passionate, serious artists in my town.” He tells me that the title is a reference to a joke made by Josh from Jungle (the London-based soul band), but that the intention of the album is serious: to showcase Manila’s talent, to use only Manila-based artists. “Well,” Eyedress clarifies, “except Prefuse 73 – he’s also signed to Lex [Eyedress’ new label]. He got me signed so that doesn’t count. He’s the only one who’s not Filipino. I just thought all my friends are really good
at what they do. I know most of them through the Internet and what they’ve posted online. How can we put two and two together and come up with something bigger than all of them, I guess? Because everyone working together, it’s always more grand. Everyone’s going out of his or her way to make time, to make something worthwhile. I just wanted to show that so people would stop asking me what the music scene is like and I could just give them an album and show them – from my point of view at least.” Idris is especially proud of the collaborations with his girlfriend, Jasmine (she sings on ‘Pentagram Land’ and ‘Love all Around’). “They’re really personal and sweet to me. My parent’s are still married, so I’ve always seen how love can be such a good thing. You work together and make an effort for each other.” His girlfriend is not on the tour; she is back home, watching their baby. Eyedress clearly finds it hard to be away from his family. “But I know they’re ok. We have help around the house. I know I’m going to come back and see them, so I try to be patient. “This album does mean a lot to me,” he continues. “I was getting therapy when I was making this album. I was getting really paranoid; a lot of things happened to me that really shaped who I am. This album is me trying to grow up. I used to make songs out of love. I’d be in love with some girl and make this music for her. It was kind of cheesy. And then when you grow up you realise love isn’t… it’s not holding hands and that. Some of the songs are about my friends, about my family. I just wanted it to be about me, all the super-embarrassing stuff: emo, sad. This album is just me being as vulnerable as possible.”
he political climate in the Philippines is one area in which I imagine Eyedress feels particularly vulnerable. It’s extremely fraught, with an oppressive right-wing government and insurgent militant groups engaged in frequent and violent clashes. Terrorist attacks are common. On 23 May 2017, President Duterte declared martial law for the whole of the island province Mindanao for 60 days “in order to suppress lawless violence and
rebellion and for public safety.” Creating music in this climate must be difficult. Eyedress sighs when I ask him about how the national politics influence his music. “I’m not like a super political person,” he says. “It’s quite a dangerous place to stand up against those in power because they could just have me killed. I just wanted to give a nonbiased perspective and just show the reality. I wasn’t trying to exaggerate it or anything. All the things going on makes me more socially aware – all the things I’m saying or doing. I’m not going to contribute to any of the conflict in this world. There’s enough already. Especially in my country. There’s not really much I can do; I’m not a politician, I don’t have my own private army – I just try to lay low.” Midway through our chat I mention to Eyedress that I was particularly struck by the album artwork. He seems pleased, if a little surprised, and tells me that it is his own drawing, that in fact visual art is one of his life-long, allconsuming passions. “I drew everything [on the album]. It’s just me in Manila. That’s what it looks like to me at least. I’m always angry because cabs don’t want to pick me up. I get stressed over traffic and things that just can’t be fixed. There’s a lot of problems in Manila – things that are just never gonna work out. Everyone’s corrupt: they’re openly corrupt; it’s out there in your face. You’re gonna see it. So the album cover is just a representation of the chaos we face daily. I’m not the only one who has it hard. We go through the struggle of living there – it being a third world country, having to turn a blind eye to the poverty all around us. The only thing we can do is just tell it how it is. With the truth out there maybe, hopefully that changes something.” He warms to the subject of his artwork, speaking with an endearing, animated modesty. He tells me how a painter friend helped him exhibit four of his drawings in a recent professional show. “I exhibited with real artists. I didn’t go to college or anything like that but all the people I exhibited with did. It was just luck really. I made it really expensive because it’s the original art from my album. But no one bought it.” He laughs. “That’s not what I do it for. I just like to get stoned and draw really. Though it would be nice.
“I just draw with sharpies. My dad is an animator: that was his first job, so he’s super talented. I’m never gonna be as good as him, he can draw an explosion frame by frame. This is just me trying to make my dad proud. I’ll never be as great an artist as he is, but I can try and even if my art seems childish or kiddy… I’m not van Gogh or anything. I’m trying to be political. I’m trying to communicate something. So I do that through my drawing – I could write a song or something but I don’t wanna seem to preach. If I could alter people’s perspectives, that’s the goal really. “I guess I’m just trying to carry out my vision. I want my drawings to be...’ he tails off, remembering, I assume, that this is an interview about his music. “I’m definitely gonna make a bunch of albums, and hopefully my artwork can represent the sounds I’m trying to convey and the place I live in. Hopefully my videos can reflect what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to get on a movie level.” “My dad’s a director,” he says, “so I made a skating film a while ago, and I’m kind of a wannabe director. I’d like to combine everything I’m doing – the music, the visual art. That’s what I’m trying to achieve with my brand. I make clothes. Well, everybody makes clothes. I mean, I need to make money for my baby, so I’m trying – not a capitalist venture – I guess it’s just me seeing the value in what I make and hoping others will too and want to support me. I make clothes – I work for a gallery and make clothes. I didn’t go to school or anything.” He still speaks with that slow, treacly drawl. “I’m just trying to get by with what I know how to do. I don’t print the T-shirts myself, I work with a team. I just try to make sure the quality is as good as I want it to be. I’m your indie Kanye.”
Philipp Gorbachev Moscowâ€™s underground producer and DJ who was asked to perform a Boiler Room set and so instantly put together a live band Photogra phy: sibilla calzolari / writer: daniel dylan wray
op p o s i t e: P h i l i p p go r b a c h ev i n t h e S c h ö n eb er g d i s t r i c t of b er l i n , g er ma n y .
hilipp Gorbachev has been gently simmering away at the heart of Moscow’s electronic music scene for some years. The producer began releasing singles in 2011 before a debut album, ‘Silver Album’, was released in 2014 on Matias Aguayo’s hip Berlin label Cómeme. Gorbachev followed it with ‘Unlock the Box’ in 2016, this time on his own label, PG Tunes. His music blends techno, house, avant-garde dance and the jagged edges of post-punk. Ultimately, it always very much feels like a live dance group more than a purely electronic one. Which makes sense, because as a young boy growing up in Moscow this was his intro into the world. “My mum took me to see groups like Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, David Bowie, and Einstürzende Neubauten,” he tells me from Berlin, where he splits his time with living in Moscow. “So my main introduction to music was not through buying records but through listening to it live and I think this really changed my life.” On top of having parents with tastes that many would find envious, he was also growing up in a period of vast change in Moscow, amongst the collapse of the Soviet Union and the birth of rave culture. They were key developments, he explains. “For most people where you live there is a backstory to friends and family, a history of where people have lived etc., but in my country when the Soviets came to power, many millions of people died. Millions of people who had their own opinion and wanted to do something good have been killed by the state and millions of people have been thrown in jail all of their lives. Plus there’s all those who died in the Second World War,” he says with a palpable poignancy in his voice. “Then in ’89 when Soviet power cracked completely, the ’90s in Russia was… it wasn’t like the ’90s in the traditional sense, like people think of grunge and MTV. It was total anarchy everywhere. If you wanted to sell something like Coca Cola, then you would have been the first businessman who is selling these sorts of things; if you’re throwing a rave then it’s going to be the first rave in the country. The absolute first ever rave in the whole country, without any history and without any connection to the international context. You start
from scratch. I was very happy to live in a country where everybody was starting from scratch and was a little bit confused.” The wipe the slate clean feeling amongst people meant the birthing of new identities, new sounds and, well, new everything. It’s the melting pot approach that Gorbachev hangs onto today, as he reflects back on that period. “I grew up in a super funny time,” he says. “There were no rules, just total anarchy – no state, the society was very young and everyone was digging out their own model of how they feel. It had nothing to do with being proud of being Russian, no nationalism at all.” In 2017 Gorbachev has yet another project as The Naked Man, born as an antidote to the sterility of laptop DJ sets. He was sick of that, so when Gorbachev was asked to perform a Boiler Room set he decided he would form a one-off band for the whole thing and play new material. He put an ad on Craigslist and joined a band with complete strangers. The chemistry worked and as a result they went on to make an album together, one created with the same spontaneity and spark as the initial creation of the band. “It’s easy to make music alone in the bedroom,” he says of his new outfit. “Music requires a lot of tension. I’m always interested to see how electrified it becomes when you have a band or you make music in a group of people. With the Naked Man, we all come from very different music worlds. This was my great experiment to step outside of my DJ/producer comfort zone. For me, it was a challenge to kill all my fears and trust the people I am in the room with.” In Loud And Quiet 86, I reviewed Gorbachev’s new album, calling it, “A peculiar mix of strutting grooves and discordant eruptions, with funk-tinged bass lines rolling smoothly throughout as echo-laden vocals howl atop manic drums and wildly whirring synthesisers, creating a sort of spasmodic disco, like ESG being given electrocutions. Whilst it’s undeniably chaotic, occasionally messy and constantly unpredictable, it makes for a persistently curious listen, as chasing its tale becomes a wild and spiralling pursuit.” Helping along with that chaos was producer Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers, who Gorbachev also worked with on ‘Silver Album’. Of Leary,
Gorbachev says: “As an artist I really like the energy he manages to preserve in music. He knows exactly what sort of vibe is important to keep in live performed music.” The feelings that radiate from the end record (‘I Don’t Give A Snare’) and collaboration, and from speaking to Gorbachev, is that he views dance music as something much broader and all encompassing than simply electronic music. “Absolutely,” he says when I put that to him. “Good music is music that moves my spirit and if my spirit is moved, I dance. If I don’t dance and I don’t move then something is wrong, something is not happening.” Within his own dance creation, Gorbachev sees himself as overseeing things as much as he does creating them. “I play the role of conductor,” he says. “I think there’s a link to a DJ approach of performing music, or my experience of performing live in the rave scene, because it’s where you control space and time with rhythms and grooves. If you get the feeling of the room then nothing can go wrong. This is what I took from the rave and club world to the band. I was inspired by this and wanted to take it to the live realm, rather than being just inspired by other bands and performers.”
hen not making new music in Berlin, Gorbachev is often throwing club nights and having parties back in Moscow. The former techno club and collective, Arma17, of which Gorbachev is closely linked, has been having ongoing issues with authorities, with events and venues getting shut down. It remains an ongoing battle and whilst none of Gorbachev’s personal parties have been shut down, he has felt the brunt of it, like in 2016 when he was due to premiere his ‘Unlock the Box’ show and music for the first time at Outline Festival and the whole thing was shut down just hours before and the festival cancelled. The incentives for such closures remain a little murky and it’s an area Gorbachev seems reluctant to go into in detail. He does view it as being a form of interference, though, saying: “I don’t want to go deep in this topic but don’t forget that Russia is a very corrupt country, which means that if you want something to stop happening, you can
do it with connections and money. The reason behind it, I really don’t know. It’s a big loss for the country and the world because what the people with Arma17 are doing is really cool and creating an important social platform.” When asked if he has hope for the future, he gives an immediate “of course” but almost laughs off the question given its fundamental lack of consideration for the ever-changing political climate that both Russia and the rest of the world are going through right now. He feels this creates a livein-the-moment nature deep within Russian culture, something he is proud to be attached to and that is present through his own music and creations. “I don’t want to say it’s super special but what’s going on in Russia right now is maybe a little like Jamaica used to be, in creating its own sound and style. The codes that we have in our society and in our blood and in our culture, they are not rubbish, they are based on a lot of love, it’s just a little bit different to the English-speaking world, or Berlin or Paris. It’s a totally different chemistry and that doesn’t mean it’s not good. But here we’re going into a different realm, spiritually, as the majority of Russian people are connected to the Orthodox Church [Gorbachev himself is a Christian]. The belief of course is the same, the bible is the same, but the way our visual culture, our sound culture, our language culture unfolds, it’s a little bit different from what I’ve witnessed in Europe. So why do people say Russians are so crazy? Maybe because it’s that we literally die every day – we are not afraid to give and to share because the country has been through so many terrible moments in our history that maybe things have shifted to just be about being in the moment, about facing what’s in front of you.”
Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis is all about empathy, but without a humble childhood in the small city of Pereira she wouldn’t be making good rap songs great, or questioning just how big she wants to be
Tough Love Photography: nathaniel wood / writer: greg cochrane
It’s the afternoon after the General Election. Outside Shepherd’s Bush Market tube in west London, a bundle of free newspapers calling for Theresa May’s resignation have toppled over and a handful of Lib Dem campaign leaflets are blown across the road. Underneath the train station, between a series of large red brick arches, past the motorcycle garage offering cheap MOTs, Kali Uchis is with her live band in a large rehearsal space. A drum kit is set up, along with some laptops, a bass amp and mic stands – a dance studio mirror runs down one side of the room, and various members of Kali’s backing group are strewn about the place taking a break.
As footage of volunteers sprinting around leisure centres clutching ballot boxes stuffed with votes were simulcast on TV the night before, the 22-yearold singer was on stage at Brixton Academy. She was there with some of her famous friends and peers – Vince Staples, Kelela, Popcaan – performing her cyborg-pop collaboration ‘She’s My Collar’ with Gorillaz. It was the first night of a relentless trip to the UK for the artist. Over the next six days she’ll guest spot with Gorillaz twice, make her proper British festival debut and play two headline solo shows. A bunch of radio slots, photoshoots and interviews are planned for the minutes in between.
Kali u chi s in s anta monica, L o s Ange le s , Californi a.
Past all the band’s equipment, there’s a kitchen out back, a narrow room where Kali, wearing massive brown sunglasses, green corduroy trousers and a pinstripe grey blazer, hugs her knees and curls into the corner of a sofa. “Last night was cool,” she says meekly, stifling a jetlag yawn, reviewing her Brixton appearance. “It’s kind of like those last days of school with all your classmates. You’re bullshiting, watching movies and shit – just hanging out, waiting to do our thing.” For some artists, being picked up by Gorillaz and asked to feature on their album (she’s on two songs, the second being ‘Ticker Tape’) would be the kind of springboard they’d leap on. Kali, however, is relaxed about it. The drummer in Gorillaz had heard her 2015 track ‘Loner’, handed it to Damon Albarn, who flew her to the studio in New York. “I don’t get too much of that Ohmy-God-I’m-around-a-famousperson,” she says. “I’ve never really felt that way. Even before I was making music, my persona, just as a human being, is that I see everyone as equal. I don’t think that celebrity life is real.” Even though she grew up listening to Albarn’s music, and admits collaborating was a “very humbling moment”, Kali’s profile has been on the ascent anyway. The debut mixtape she shared back in 2012 (‘Drunken Babble’), made on her laptop when she was 18, caught the attention of Tyler, The Creator and Snoop Dogg (she’s gone on to work with both).The nine-track EP, ‘Por Vida’, she released in 2015 laid the foundations nicely, too. Tracks like ‘Ridin Round’, ‘Loner’, ‘Rush’ and ‘Lottery’ may not have been promoted much by British radio and press, but the streams for their eyecatching, self-directed videos are now well into the millions. So, with the release of her debut LP imminent, it’s looking like a smart move for Gorillaz to get Kali Uchis on their album.
sk Kali Uchis about growing up and there’s a duality to her answers about “home”. Born Karly Loaiza in July 1994, her early years were spent in Pereira, Colombia, a small city in the foothills of the Andes, a five-hour drive from the mega-sprawl of Medellin and the capital Bogota. “It’s a small city. It’s just real people,” she explains, nudging her sunglasses with a long fingernail. “Everybody’s different there. People want to get away, they dream of going
somewhere else to start a new life. It’s very much like that.” The reality of Colombia, she says, is a bit more diverse than the picture painted by a TV series like Narcos or Shakira’s music videos. “Places are always going to have stigmas. In the same way when people talk about Africa, they think about starving kids in the streets; when they think about Columbia, they just think about cocaine, coffee and a guy riding a horse with a sombrero on. We do have a lot of issues just like every other country – but we have come a long way.” But then there’s also “home” two thousand miles away in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. Kali moved there when she was seven years old. In memory of that period, and his decision to emigrate, she has her father’s passport signature tattooed on her arm. She identifies as both Colombian and American, but admits her sporting allegiance lies with her Latin American roots. She’s one of five siblings – the youngest – with three brothers and one sister. “I’m really close with my brother on my dad’s side. His mum is Puerto Rican and he lives in Miami right now. He’s a skateboarder,” she says. “My siblings on my mum’s side I’m not as close with, but it’s all love.” Another brother lives in Japan and they keep in touch via Facetime when the time-zones collide. Her sister, who now lives in Italy, she doesn’t speak to anymore. “I miss her,” says Kali, openly. “It was just difficult because I’m way younger than all my other siblings. So when I was born she was already 15. But we were close when I was younger. She went into foster care, so we didn’t grow up in the same house since I was really little.” “She would visit me when she was an older teenager and take me to her boyfriend’s house. Then we kind of just fell out, I think, over weird sibling stuff – got into too many huge fights where I was like, ‘I can’t deal with this anymore.’ She has a good heart, but it’s just too much deep-rooted, dark shit, that I feel like she projects family issues onto me since I’m the youngest one.” Kali was, in her own words, “the annoying little sister”. Her brothers were protective of her, and she wanted to play with them all the time. “They were like, ‘leave us alone, you’re not invited,’ and I was like, ‘I just want to be your friend.’ Or, ‘I’m going to tell on you! That you were burning bugs with the microscope the other day, and I’m gonna tell mummy!’” she laughs, putting on a child’s voice. “I definitely
became the snitch out of resentment of not being able to play with them.” The scene she describes at home is chaotic. Once settled in the States, her father began to relocate members of their family from Colombia. He was a property manager, and would find work for people as cleaners or construction workers. “Our house was like; First Destination,” Kali recalls. “You’d come to our house, live at our house for a couple of years until you get yourself on your feet and my dad will help you get a job.” That meant home life wasn’t just Kali, her parents and her siblings, but at points, numerous uncles, aunts and cousins all under one roof. “I was in the room with, like, three bunk beds.We all shared one bathroom. It was a mess. Female room and male room. Then there was mum’s and my dad’s room. It was very in and out, very busy and hectic.” She remembers it being particularly hard for one auntie who had to make the distressing choice to leave her husband and young children in south America, where unemployment was high, in order to earn money in the States and send it home. “That kind of puts it in perspective, how badly some people need that new chance in life and that opportunity. She knew that she needed to leave her kids, basically, and that they were better off having her send them money, toys and whatever they wanted from America... over being there with her babies.” Despite the chaos, the noise, the constant comings and goings, Kali led a relatively introverted upbringing. Sure, she had her mates in Alexandria, but while her brothers were busy playing with friends their own age, she was left to entertain herself. That’s where music came in. Her performance started with the school jazz band. From fourth grade (age 10) she would sing and play saxophone, and would later become First Chair. The team would travel hundreds of miles to places like North Carolina to compete in area competitions. All very Glee. Until, later, around the age of 15, she quit. “I was very active in it. It kind of took over my life, and then, five, six years went by. When I got older, I became ‘anti’. I was like, ‘fuck rehearsals, fuck all these people, fuck a band!’” she giggles. “I was like, ‘I’m not waking up early in the morning to go put this fucking neck strap on and wet my reed – fuck this!” Around this period, she began writing songs. She’d borrow her father’s tape dictator from work, and between
his personal notes about leaking pipes and faulty extractor fans she’d slip her own tape into the player and record her tracks. “Back when cell phones didn’t have the recording shit,” she smiles. “I used to love to play with it.” Her parents were pleased she’d taken up the sax, but it wasn’t until later that they bought her a keyboard and a few piano lessons. “My parents were working so much,” she says. “Sometimes I’d feel like when I had a concert or something everyone’s family was there to support them… I’d have the big solo and then I felt like a loser because sometimes my parents wouldn’t be there. I would just feel like, ‘this is stupid.’ I was just like, ‘fuck it,’” she sighs. “But then, I guess, I always loved music since then, even once I’d stopped playing saxophone, even once I’d stopped playing piano. I would still keep writing songs all the time, but I was never like, ‘I want to be a singer.’ I didn’t ever look at that lifestyle as something I wanted for myself.” At this point in her mid-teens she was on a rampage of discovering music, and some lasting influencers were entering her life. “I was just one of those dorky dorks – that was my thing. I was like, ‘ahh, I just want to find new music all the time and go to the record store. I would just go by myself. I would go on Pure [the now defunct music service] and just be downloading.” Along with the Spanish-language Colombian pop music, the jazz introduced to her by her grandmother (she loves Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday) and the low-rider hip-hop her brothers loved, she remembers getting into “international artists”. VV Brown,The Noisettes, Amy Winehouse. She remembers watching Lily Allen’s ‘Smile’ video online for the very first time (“the video where she’s doing all the fucked up shit to the guy!”). “All of them were girls who did their own thing, and just were very, like, strong-minded individuals,” she remembers, as her manager arrives with her lunch – a Nandos pita. “I’m always attracted to artists that are unique. I don’t like people who sound like everyone else or are doing something trendy. I can’t relate to an artist that doesn’t have opinions. I just found myself more attracted to people who weren’t scared to show their personality.” That’s exactly the kind of artist Kali is now. Once the topic of music is raised, she spends five minutes telling me how a lot of artists “don’t show their personality until they’re super
“I got a little sense of what it’s like to be ‘famous’. It kinda spooked me out.” loudandquiet.com
established” and how that’s not her style. “It’s the safe route of, like, ‘I’m just not going to offend anyone, I’m not going to take sides, I’m not going to stand for anything, I’m not going to talk about ANYTHING,’” she quips. “I’m just gonna be like, ‘he he he, tee hee hee.’ I’m just going to be supercute and likable and bubbly and take my whatever that shit is called where they teach you how to speak to interviewers?” Media training? “... do my media training and just be like perfect. Obviously none of us are perfect. Some of us just hide it more than others. Some of us pretend more than others. I’ve always been attracted to artists that aren’t afraid of showing they’re flawed. Sometimes we don’t always know the right thing to say, we’re not as educated as we would like to be, we make mistakes, we struggle with our own psychological issues or personal traumas. A lot of us who make music are broken people inside. The people who can show that are strong – strong enough to be honest.” In 2017, when Kali talks about home, it’s Los Angeles. She moved from Virginia two years ago and now lives in California with her boyfriend. “When I got to LA, I was like, ‘this is going to be great; I’m going to have so many friends that do the same things as me.’ Then I realised
that everyone is super-competitive. Everyone is just trying to one-up each other with their accomplishments and their name-drops. And fair enough, I get it, I didn’t exactly come to the city to raise a family and grow a farm – we all came for our careers – but there’s definitely a way to get ahead without fore-fronting yourself constantly like you’re the only person that matters in the room.” L.A. has taken some getting used to. She describes her “culture shock” when hanging out with other musicians “who know some Spanish because their nanny taught them.” “You’re not going to see a crazy mansion in Pereira. Everyone is very humble,” she says. “I’ve never lived in a house that’s had more than one storey. To this day, I don’t.” At the moment, back in Colombia, Kali’s father is building a house in the mountains. “It’s his dream,” she says, “it has multiple storeys. I went over there and I’m like, ‘what the hell? Do you need six floors? It looks like a damn hospital!”
t’s Saturday early evening at Dreamland, Margate, a recently restored retro theme park hosting Gorillaz’s Demon Dayz festival. There’s a helter skelter, dodgems and the
musty smell of hot-dogs in the disco foyer. The queues for the mousethemed “rodent-coaster” are long, and so are the odds on some sunburnt punters hitting nine cans with a beanbag to win a giant purple ape. At the ‘By The Sea’ hall, Kali Uchis is about to play her first UK show with a full live band. Except, a cantankerous bass amp is delaying the start and causing some sound issues. When she does emerge, wearing a shredded sequin dress, it’s a promising, if slightly cautious, performance. Later, with Gorillaz’s headline set in full-swing and the sun-setting over a crowd of 15,000 fans, she strolls on to the main stage to perform ‘She’s My Collar’. Damon Albarn bellows her name, lifts her arm to the crowd and gives her a sweaty embrace. Two nights later, back in London, I see Kali play the second of two soldout headline shows; this time at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. This is her gig, her crowd, and the tickets apparently went in minutes. It starts with a hypeman drummer whipping the crowd. Kali, both glamorous and street, wearing a cocktail dress but looking like she’s going to a block party, shimmies across the lip of the stage, smiling, dancing, having fun but also kind of nonchalant. There’s covers: a version of Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and a party rendition of Elvis Crespo’s ‘Suavemente’ – a massive hit on the Billboard Latin chart in the late ’90s. New stuff’s kept to a minimum – a slow one called ‘Killer’ (“written three years ago when I was living out of my car”) and the recently released ‘Tyrant’, where Jorja Smith arrives on stage to huge cheers to sing her verse. The whole evening has the feel of seeing a sure-to-be massive pop star in a small room. And, while she’s done very little in the UK (this weekend is the first time she’s played), the young, dedicated fans packed into the room are hanging to her every note, capturing every sentence or hip-shake on their glowing smartphones. People practically claw at each other when she takes a handful of white lilies off her mic stand and throws them into the audience during ‘Loner’. People bring gifts, too. One girl battles from the back of the room with her own bunch of flowers to hand them to her heroine. It’s a tangible taste of the kind of growing dedication Kali has attracted over the past five years. It can be seen online everyday. Her every Instagram post is jumped on by hundreds of comments, every picture she shares retweeted thousands of times. It’s why,
when performing two new tracks (‘Killer’ in London, ‘Miami’ in Margate) she asks the crowd not the film the songs and put them online. For a girl from Pereira, she’s still coming to terms with what she calls “quote unquote fame”. On the way home, I’m sat next to a girl on the train clutching one of Kali’s lilies battling tears and eulogising her as a “magical lady”. It’s sweet, but as Kali tells me a couple of days before, it can also be consuming – a permanent, scrolling commentary on her looks, lifestyle choices and relationship status. “I’m a Cancer, so I’m a naturally emotional, sensitive person,” she says. “I had to learn to have hard skin. I’m the youngest; I would get bullied a lot, picked on by my siblings or by older people in my family. Tough love, and all that kind of stuff. If at a really young age you learn to take punches you’re kind of prepared for this type of career – it’s all about taking punches and being criticised constantly.” While she’s better coping with it now, she’s admits that it does affect her. “I don’t mind being criticised or disliked for who I am,” she continues. “But the one thing that does still hurt me about this career is people creating completely false narratives about who I am, or hating me for something I’m not. That sucks.” Kali’s eyes search around the room trying to find an example, then look at what I’m wearing. “Let’s say all of a sudden that your red and black chequered shirt was like you supporting something that you’re completely actually against. Like some type of organisation. Say they were like, ‘those are the KKK colours’ on your shirt, that red and black on your shirt, you must be a Nazi.’ Right? Let’s say. And then everyone starts saying that to you and you’re like, ‘What? You guys are fucking stupid,’ and they’re like, ‘you can’t take criticism.’ It’s not really constructive criticism if you’re attacking me and calling me something that I’m not. And something that’s completely offensive, hurtful and opposite to who I am. That’s the type of shit I’m saying. People think it’s criticism, but criticising is like, ‘I don’t like her music, it’s boring.’ That’s criticism. I can handle that – what I can’t handle is people turning things hateful… I can’t take that shit because I feel so strongly about people not being hateful, people not discriminating and people not telling other people what to do with their bodies.” She also recalls moments where that passion from supporters has crossed the line. Like recently when she
was visiting her family back in Pereira and strangers came to the house. “I got a little sense of what it’s like to be ‘famous’,” she says. “It kinda spooked me out. For a second, I was like, ‘I don’t want this to get bigger than it is, because I don’t even like this level.’ People constantly intruding on me and treating me like I’m some kind of display animal in a zoo, like I don’t have feelings, don’t have my own personal life and don’t have personal things that I’m going through. That’s weird and it made me want to stop doing it… I mean I would never stop doing music in my real life, but it made me want to stop doing music publically.” She takes a deep breath. “It’s strange, but I’m just learning to live with that. Certain things you wish you still had to yourself. I had to take a second, step back and be like, do I really want this to happen to me and to my family? You realise that in order to do this you have to sacrifice a lot and… I never wanted to. When I was first going to make music, I wanted it to be faceless, actually. I wanted it to be a much more mysterious identity. But that never worked out for me.”
ur final conversation is brief, a snatched phone call two days after the Jazz Cafe show, as she’s sat on a plane on the runway ready to take off for Los Angeles. “At this stage of your career, you’re 24/7 being an artist and facilitating everyone,” she says, sounding emotional. “Sometimes there’s no time to be upset or feel what you really feel.” The inference being: people forget there’s a person inside this pop star. Back in LA, she’ll put the finishing touches to her proper debut album, out in September. On it, she’s worked with legendary bass player Bootsy Collins and once again enlisted the help of 20-year-old production wunderkid Steve Lacey from The Internet. Over the 7 tracks I’ve heard Kali traverses styles, mixing mellow trap, dub, reggaeton and latin-pop, including Cumbia, from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It’s varied, but her jazz vocal means it’s all infused with the same, deep authentic soul. On ‘Miami’ she sounds like early Santigold, on ‘Just A Stranger’ she’s ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby’-era Gwen Stefani. It’s an LP she says is “all different genres, tempos, energies” but has the overarching lyrical themes of selfreliance, independence and empathy. “The main things that I think would solve all the problems in the world –
people being empathetic, confident and self-aware,” she confirms. “I always aspire to be confident in myself,” she’d told me a couple of days before, with both a sadness and sweetness in her voice. “Just like anyone else who’s confident, we’re compensating for our insecurities. Overcompensating for the fact that maybe I’m not good enough, and you just have to tell yourself, I am good enough.” “I had people telling me when I was trying to do music or be my own person that I couldn’t do it, trying to discourage me. ‘Oh, you look like this! You look like that! Who’re you trying to be? Who do you think you are?’ I was like, ‘Who do I think I am? Someone who believes in myself and
loves myself endlessly, boundlessly.You don’t? Sucks to be you.’” That kind of sums Kali Uchis up. Like her idols, she’s fragile but she’s assured, honest and outspoken, sensitive but bullish, highly motivated but doubtful, has attitude but also understanding. A mix of all these things, she’s a girl from Pereira currently navigating the pitfalls and peaks of a fame she’s created for herself. “I’m in it for the long haul,” she nods. “I’m not expecting any overnight success ever. If it happens, great, saves me a lot of time! Constantly I’m growing, my stock is increasing everyday. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just do something else. I’ll go sell the mangos on the side of the road, and I’ll be happy regardless.”
Goldie Meditations on the power of yoga, David Bowie, death and Jeremy Corbyn – a “good lad” Photogra p hy: gabriel green writer: david zammitt
tell me about it
Le ft: Goldie at o c t o be r galle ry, hol bor n, ce ntral Lond on.
Arriving at least seven minutes early for my meeting with Goldie, I’m greeted with the sight and unmistakable sound of the man himself. Back to the door, he’s loudly cursing journalists for being late. The worst ones, he booms, are the ones with beards. I, if you must know, sport a well-groomed collection of bristles, of which I am very proud. As Clifford Joseph Price MBE turns in mock surprise, letting out a belly laugh that makes the floorboards of Bloomsbury’s October Gallery vibrate, I know that this isn’t going to be an average conversation. Indeed, an encounter with Goldie involves more than just words: it is a distinctly physical experience. He gets in my face, staring deep into my skull, seemingly to see if I can hold eye contact. He bounds around the room, he lies back and he sits up, over and over again. He hitches down his waistband showing the massive scar left after a reality TV water-ski jump went wrong. He slips into a David Bowie impression without any prewarning whatsoever. He namedrops classical composers. It’s a disorientating experience and it’s pure theatre, with Goldie at the centre; playwright, director and leading man all in one. As we cover everything from the gentrification of British electronic music to his own alcohol and drug addictions, and his most recent salvation, yoga, the limitless passion and energy of a man now in his 50s is never in doubt. His emotions, as he says himself, are pinned firmly to his sleeve and it’s the only way he knows how to live, even if it does mean he gets only three or four hours of sleep a night. His doctors fret about the extra, abnormal heartbeats he experiences periodically, but Goldie himself just gets on with it. Returning after a decade-long hiatus, his new album, ‘The Journey Man’, goes back further, picking up where his 1998 epic ‘Saturnz Return’ left off. An odyssey through classic 90s drum and bass, house, jazz and trip hop, he says that he wouldn’t have had to make it if anyone else had been able to match his previous work – particularly his 1995 debut album ‘Timeless’. Reenergised, he is enjoying making music again, with the promise of much more to come. As my own
Goldie journey climaxes with a sneak preview of new music in the back of his Range Rover, I’m feeling fairly knackered. The man himself, though, is ready for his next appointment. “My friend Marcus Intalex [aka DJ Travino] died a couple of days ago. It’s beyond even imagining”
I thought losing Kemi [DJ Kemistry, Metalheadz co-founder] was bad but this is bad for so many other reasons. He’s probably the most real person you can talk to. He can talk to me like it’s me as opposed to some fuckin’ thing that people assume you are. Marcus was straight. You think about the impact of his music; that’s the only way you can live on in this life. With the drum and bass thing, it was a very family-oriented thing because it was pre-Internet. “There’s not a day when I wake up and don’t think about dying”
Or in the evening before I go to sleep. It’s been like that for years. It’s so close to the bone. Just as I’m falling asleep I wake up and think, ‘Fuck, I’m not going to be here.’ It’s the fact I haven’t done enough. It just drives me, I think. I just think there’s more to do. I’m just an insatiable fucking twat! Everything is constantly a stream for me. It’s everything for me – that deep web, the power of that and the power of it all, the power of the heart. I really do enjoy life and I’m trying to work out some way of shifting that energy to something far greater after this, but who knows? There’s no God, in that sense. I’m not an atheist but there’s no God. I’ve made peace with the fact that it’s just a shifting of energy. “Who the fuck wants to do arias in Hyde Park and be number one!?”
You’ll listen to the new album but then you’ll start to really hear it, and it’ll unravel. Like, ‘the boy’s really hanging out the bus window going like that [sticks up his middle finger]!’ There’s a lot of people in bus shelters who
shouldn’t even be involved in music. It’s a dirty job making real music but someone’s got to do it. I just love the journey of doing it. And people ask, ‘Why is your new album called ‘The Journey Man?’ if it means someone who doesn’t quite make it?’ Well, that’s kind of the story of my life. It’s two tiered: the man and the journey. It’s the baker; the footballer who never quite made it; the gun for hire. That’s always been me and I prefer the underdog. So arias in Hyde Park? Being number one? Nah. “‘Timeless’ is great because it’s rose-tinted glasses and everyone’s shagging to it”
It’s a really lovely piece of music. I get it. But this one’s a better album – it’s a bigger album. I actually went back and listened to it when I was making ‘The Journey Man’. And I wouldn’t have made it if anyone had surpassed ‘Timeless’, to be honest, but no one did. And I thought, there’s a lot of shite being made from the gentrification of this music. I don’t mind when you move someone from the railway arches and you rehouse them so their infrastructure stays here, but I see a lot of people taking out but not putting back in. Kiddy fiddlers, I call them. You’re making music for kids and you’re grown-ass people. ‘Timeless’ is a very adolescent album, because it’s my youth – a misspent youth on a really beautiful diagram of a great blueprint. ‘The Journey Man’ is the building; the architecture. “I’ve got another album ready to go and it’s fucking weird”
It comes in waves of creativity. The other project is a serious project. By no means is this project anything you could even quantify to get your head around. It’s fucking weird. I thought, ‘Alright, OK. You can have the concept of ‘The Journey Man’, but let me just do what I never did. What have I not done before?’ There’s something really, really, really powerful going on. I like it because it’s not me. It’s not me making it, oh God no. She’s always fucking about – that universe, she just keeps
coming at me, man. Dropping these fucking things in my head. It’s not me; please leave me alone! She won’t leave me alone! “I feel like I’ve let go of a lot of stuff, and I think the yoga’s been powerful”
I’ve come back from three festivals and I’ve had this loss and I haven’t had time to grieve. I’ve come back from Paddington and I was so tired. And I thought, ‘I’m going to make that 3 o’clock yoga session.’ I got there at five to, got out at Great Portland Street station, got off the rucksack and got in that room. And I thought, ‘This is where it’s at.’ I love bringing people to the mat. They always go, ‘Why don’t you teach it?’ and I’ll tell you why I don’t teach it, because I don’t want to get complacent. I see a lot of teachers who are complacent and I don’t want to be that. I’m in the trenches and I love being in the trenches. The music’s secondary. It’s like yoga. Listen; yoga’s not about losing weight. It’s about losing the mind. It’s the mindset you get from yoga. The tuning of this machine. “I sat with Kate Bush in Fortnum and Mason having sandwiches, trying to convince her to sing on ‘Truth’”
I wanted her to do the vocal [from 1998’s ‘Saturnz Return’], but she didn’t want to do it. And then I get the call from David Bowie’s manager and David wanted to do it. They’re the two people who I threw it out there for. It’s all preordained. Like David said, when I wrote that track for him – and I’m one of the blessed people in the world to have done something for such a great man – ‘Did you know, Michelangelo said that if you blow the dust off the marble, inside is the sculpture already.’ That will never leave me because that was the driving force. That was at the peak of my drug use, that was. I was doing 3-day, 4-day benders, man. I was in and out of acid; in and out of everything. If I could lick frogs I would go to a fucking pond if I could. And at that point the only salvation that was ever going to happen was going to be the music.
tell me about it
“My drug use was positive but ‘Truth’, the old version, was a very macabre track”
I was literally on a tenterhook of leaving life or not leaving here. It was definitely a point where I was going to leave. It was definitely on that line of, ‘He’s going to go, that kid.’ I was definitely going to go. It was ‘Saturnz Return’, in my early 30s. A real heavy time. But I celebrate that on this longplayer. It’s a happy album. Thank fuck for yoga, eh? “The Hoffman Process is a very beautiful process”
It’s a residential course on the South Coast [a psychological detox]. I was never going to cross a road when I saw a pub, was I? Let’s face it. I shouldn’t knock the 12 Steps [the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program] because it works for some people. I think the new generation has so many diversions and so many distractions that I think the Hoffman is a really beautiful thing. I nearly OD’d and I was out of it until my friend said, ‘You’ve got to try it, you’ve got nothing left.’ “I only get four hours sleep a night”
I got PVC (Premature ventricular contractions). The doctor said, ‘You’re not gonna die but, you know, you could either take sleeping tablets to sleep or we can catheter you.’ And I’m
not having that. The alternative is knowing when to pick my battles, knowing when to sleep. So I only get four hours – I can’t help it. Like last night, I was up from 3.00 until 4.30. I just get up like an old biddy – it’s weird shit, man. My mind switches on and goes elsewhere. So I’m just trying to calm it down. “They said I’d never walk again with this bastard”
[Goldie hitches down his jeans to show me a scar]. That’s a fucker, isn’t it? It was one reality TV show too many. I did The Games. I was in practice on the last day and was smashing it to bits and the skis took my leg under the water and snapped the femur two inches from the top of the ball joint. Work that one out. So you can’t talk to me about the clubbed hand on the left side and all the damage from the stabbings and everything that happened to me on my left-hand side. And that’s what the Hoffman told me. The left side is the effeminate, the mother. Everything I’ve ever experienced is this left pain. And the numbness is always the right. Whenever you bang yourself on the right, it’s always something to do with your dad. I wouldn’t bet against me on that. As an artist I’m left and I’ve got a lot of pain in my heart because of that. “I’m hoping now I can just calm the fuck down”
I think burying mum, and going to the chapel of rest and sitting there playing
‘Mother’ [Goldie’s 60-minute track from ‘Saturnz Return’] was what it was designed for. You can’t wear your heart on your sleeve any more than that, can you? I’m playing this hourlong record to this white monkey with skin stretched over a marble corpse. I’ll never forget the face. I sat there and the guys made me a cup of tea and I sat there and listened to ‘Mother’. It would’ve bored them all to fucking death at the funeral but it was the chapel of rest where it needed to happen. That walk into the room and sliding the two doors open – it’s just a shifting of energy, man. It’s sometimes a very painful thing being an artist, but you get the best joy out of it. And I’m hoping now I can just calm the fuck down. I’m hoping that all this energy… the yoga’s been the most important thing. I’ve got a 46 BPM heart rate; how did that happen? Seven years of yoga, that’s how that happened. “Corbyn’s a good lad”
I was at a thing where this fucking kid was on stage at a festival, saying, ‘Corbyn!’ and all these grime kids are jumping up and down for Corbyn. The system’s fucked and it’s bound to fail and we love Corbyn. I’d love to give him a try. He ain’t Ed Balls, put it that way. I did a social worker campaign – went and addressed 200 social workers around the corner from Number fucking 10. Went into 10 Downing
Street and slipped a Metalheadz sticker in the toilet. Have that in the cistern; have that lads. Number 10, Buckingham Palace and the House of Lords have Metalheadz stickers in there. Fucking love it. That’s me having my thing. And Gordon Brown, thank you for selling the gold from this country, you twat – at the lowest point gold could ever have been sold for. He sold the country’s soul there, mate. That’s why I left this country. So you go to dinner with Ed Balls and as a thank you, you think the fucker would put his hand in his pocket, wouldn’t you? You go and do a thing, I paid the bill and he’s sitting there drinking my wine. And he gets a little bit pissed. I’ve got this great booking come up, and it’s got this chapter in it called ‘Ed Balls’. It’s brilliant. I’m waiting for it. ‘So why politics, then, Ed?’ He leans over and he goes, ‘The power.’ And as soon as he said that, there he is, that’s the devil you know. When he said that, I fucking knew. Corbyn ain’t like that and Paxman got dealt with [in the debates]. Paxman fell on his own sword and he’s supposed to be neutral. He looks like a cunt now. I’m all about political change and when ‘Timeless’ came out there was political unrest. And this new album is coming at the right time. I’m standing up to be counted.
Reviews / Albums
Sheer Mag Need To Feel Your Love St a ti c s h oc k By alex wi sgar d. In sto re s July 14
Sheer Mag are a DIY success story for the ages. The Philadelphia fivepiece have put out one self-recorded EP per year since 2014, and flooded basement shows through sweat levels alone. Three years down the line, the shows may have got bigger, and they’re now with the slightly bigger London hardcore label Static Shock Records, but their selfsufficient ethos remains in tact. Listening to the band’s EPs (compiled earlier this year under the no-nonsense title ‘Compilation’) presents the sound of a band improving ¬– as writers, performers and producers ¬– before your ears. Sheer Mag clearly knew what their thing was from day one: arena rock for the DIY punk set. While bands like White Reaper and Japandroids occupy similar real estate, the brittle sound and incandescent fury of ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ blows all
comers out of the water from the off. This is an album that’s scrappy in all senses: the production may be rough, but that’s only because it sounds like every instrument is spoiling for a fight. So as powerhouse vocalist Tina Halladay sneers about “Silver spoon suckers heading for a fall, and justice for all!” on the opening ‘Meet Me InThe Street’, Kyle Seely backs it up with one of the year’s most venomous solos. Halladay’s fearsome delivery (through gritted teeth and in a Beth Ditto-ish, high scream) makes every line she sings sound like a tour-deforce – fitting, considering her lyrics touch on the Stonewall Riots and Nazi Germany. Her lyrics come off as slogans that would look just as good on a demonstration banner as they sound in a grimy club. The band are versatile enough to match her, with fiery licks giving way
to Johnny Marr-like jangle on the flip of a dime, while Sheer Mag’s backbone of heads-down punk rock and effervescent power pop is interspersed with moments that sound like Motorhead auditioning for a slot at Studio 54 or, on ‘Suffer Me’, ‘Low’-era Bowie laced with a shimmering Afropop guitar intro. As every track slams to a close, the album dares you to guess what’s next. It’s the work of aggro punks who can also write some of the most heartstring-tugging love songs, produced to sound like it’s coming out of a tinny transistor radio. It’s when the band mix the two that ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ comes even more alive; propped up by Hart Seely’s popping bass, the vintage disco of ‘Pure Desire’ is sung with all the passion of a protest song. Best of all, though, is ‘Expect The Bayonet’.
Halladay describes the song as “a warning to those who don’t want all voices to be heard,” piling on the inherent bigotry and oppression of the American Constitution and those who hold it dear. The singer is all too aware of the heaviness of the subject matter (“Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…” she disclaimers at the start of the second verse) – it’s a brutal pill sugared by the rest of the band. The song’s gorgeous chord progression, cribbed from The The, may give way to the album’s most memorable riff, but the last word still belongs to Halladay: “If you don’t give us the ballot, expect the bayonet.” Simply put, Sheer Mag are here to fuck shit up, and ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ isn’t a debut album so much as a loud motivational speach to do... SOMETHING. Come on down. Get in the mix.
Shabazz Palaces Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star / Quazarz Vs The Jealous Machines su b p op By dav id zammi tt. In sto re s july 14
“Who or what is Quazarz?” I hear you ask. Quazarz, of course, is, “a sentient being from somewhere else, an observer sent to ‘Amurderca’ as a musical emissary.” So say Shabazz Palaces, and who am I to disagree? After a pair of superb, genre-bending LPs and a couple of equally fantastic extended plays, Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire have pushed the hiphop envelope into a whole new galaxy and earned the right to do as they please, even if that does mean simultaneously releasing two albums with a sci-fi narrative that can be described, at best, as initially a little challenging. ‘Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star’ and ‘Quazarz vs. The Jealous
Machines’ are the product of what the pair describe as a sudden burst of energy. Rather than existing as a double album, though, the former functions as an introduction to Quazarz as he arrives in ‘Amurderca’ (I think it’s a pun) to discover its brutality and lies, while the latter is the “extra-spacial twin” to its sibling, and sees the hero chronicle Amurderca’s citizens’ obsession with technology; a fixation that borders on the sensual. But are they any good?The answer is a decisive ‘Yes!’ Shabazz Palaces have a tendency towards the overblown, sure, but they are extraordinarily original and should be cherished. And while the narrative
might be a little overwrought, it is built around a kernel of sociopolitical insight that lampoons modern day America’s economic imbalance and inherent racism with quite a bit of success. Throw in the fact that these albums contain some of Butler and Maraire’s outright catchiest work, and the ‘Quazarz’ suite is an unequivocal triumph. ‘Eel Dreams’, for example, a word association workout with a sumptuously fuzzy bass line and sweeping bands of spacey synths, is the pair at their playful neo-jazz best, while the wonderfully-named ‘Fine Ass Hairdresser’ pulls off its jarring triplets (“I’ve got my money / I’ve got my honey / I’ve got my gunny”) by
virtue of not taking itself too seriously. Elsewhere, ‘Moon Whip Quäz’ functions as the albums’ team anthem, a four-to-the-floor house tune based around 8 simple notes that will have you chanting, “Quazarz born on a gangster star,” as though you know what it means. Album number two sees the pair indulge their penchant for free jazz more thoroughly than before, revolving around another superb title in the shape of ‘Love In The Time of Kanye’. Drenched in reverb, it’s an altogether rockier ride but all the more rewarding as its repeated chants reveal themselves with listens. I can’t wait to see what Quazarz does next.
If you’re particularly invested in harmonic vocals and gentle soundscapes, turn away now. Otherwise, strap in. Providence’s Downtown Boys are back with their third album, and ‘Cost of Living’ is a fierce offering that takes aim at fascism, queerphobia, capitalism, and racism in a howl of cathartic energy. On the surface, the record seems to be straightforward meatand-potatoes DIY punk. But let’s revise our understanding of ‘melody’. It’s there. The guitar riffs and
arrangements on ‘Violent Complicity’ and the shimmering, Joy Division-style ‘Lips That Bite’ are proof of that, and worth the price of admission on their own. Elsewhere, the band pick up the trail left by punk and hardcore greats before them. They cite influences including The Clash and Wire, but on tracks like ‘It Can’t Wait’ producer Guy Picciotto’s Fugazi heritage shines through. Underneath the wailing, split-lip vocals is a crispness that defines the
record, turning the frenzy into something more than just musical rebellion. That said, ‘Cost of Living’ still manages to push back against the status quo at every turn. By the Downtown Boys’ own admission they’re aiming to topple ‘white-cishet-hegemony’ using Chicana, queer and latinx voices. This is never clearer than on the anguished, Spanish language ‘Tonta’ that, with its frantic sax section, is entirely unlike anything else other records this year have to offer.
Downtown Boys Cost of Living S u b Po p By li am kon emann. In sto res a ug 11
Albums 0 4/ 1 0
Single Mothers Our Pleasure
Breakfast Muff Eurgh
Toro Y Moi Boo Boo
Bi g S c ar y M on s te r s
Amo ur f oo
ni nj a tune
By susan dar l i ng ton. I n store july 14
B y r os i e ramsd e n. In s to re s j ul y 7
By d avi d z amm i tt. I n s to r es n o w
B y a lex w is g a r d. I n st o r e s j u ly 7
There are quite a lot of things that Drew Thomson doesn’t like. Across the course of Single Mothers’ second album, his antipathy includes religion, word processors and body fascism. With his splenetic delivery and ‘yeah yeah yeah’ sarcasm it’s difficult to tell whether this is bratty suburban frustration or a new generational voice of disillusionment. His self-deprecation and frequent allusions to self-esteem nonetheless make his lyrics one of the Ontario quartet’s key selling points. Matching this bile with hardcore guitars and skull-crusher drums, ‘Well-Wisher’ and ‘Long Distance’ are fairly standard post-punk tunes that compensate for their lack of subtlety with unrelenting energy. More interesting are the band’s attempts to combine this rage with slackerrock. ‘Bolt Cutters’, for instance, is like Pavement recording Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ and ‘People Are Pets’ twists its way through ’90s rock melodies. Combined with Thomson’s lyrics, this broaden the band’s appeal beyond the post-hardcore scene and adds some tonal variety to their moments of contemptuous pleasure.
The title of ‘Eurgh!’, the debut album from Glasgow’s intransigent DIY pop trio Breakfast Muff, is heterogeneous in meaning. Above all, it’s an acknowledgement of the disgust-tinged dissatisfaction that litters the album – sometimes rebellious, sometimes righteous, but never resigned. After that, there’s the denotation of passion; the hope for a future that doesn’t see respect given to bandwagon faux feminists and welcomes in a new wave of tolerance for a rainbow of sexual preferences. Furthermore, however, in both title and content, ‘Eurgh!’ is in part a bugle call for a heightened awareness of issues such as consent and bullying, and in part an affable conversation between friends – Breakfast Muff and their audience – on that which they all agree. Screechy and infectious as well as gently offkilter, this debut album is an record of stirring, if safe, revolt. While its thematic leanings are, to an extent, slightly been-there-done-that, its idiosyncratic vocal layering and angry, fuzzed guitars are noisily refreshing.
Stuart Howard’s third album, as the name implies, deals with decay. An exploration of the space between life and death, much of the album grew out of a theatrical score he composed for a performance art piece staged in a cemetery last summer. Some will say that that sounds depressing. Well, they’re wrong. Confronting death, this is the most gorgeous instalment in Howard’s gorgeous back catalogue. In order to create ‘Ruinism’’s sound, the man behind Lapalux stuck to hardware and real instruments rather than relying solely on software. Sampling and resampling his recordings, he’s fashioned a collection that is at turns brutal and reassuring, discordant and harmonious. ‘Data Demon’, perhaps the most beautiful Lapalux creation to date, sums up the conflicting aesthetic, morphing from glass-shattering choral textures, complete with strings and a melancholy bassoon (yep) line, to a Venetian Snares-esque industrial onslaught without ever sounding like it doesn’t make sense. There are loads of grooves and choruses too, but you probably knew that already.
As with many late noughties blogapproved subgenres (witch house, anyone?), chillwave burned brightly, but its influence seems scant now. Chaz Bundick, aka Toro Y Moi, is a rare exception, armed from the start with a kaleidoscopic palette of influences and a savvy ear. Bundick recorded ‘Boo Boo’ while “becoming self-conscious about my position in life as a ‘famous’ person,” and seeking comfort in ambient sounds. ‘Boo Boo’ makes these influences brutally clear: “My baby got fed up with my ego / Wasn’t even wishin’ to be known worldwide,” runs the chorus of ‘No Show’. Its highlight may be ‘Don’t Try’ – an almost postpunk wasteland underpinned by throbbing one-note bass and primitive drum machines – but ‘Boo Boo’ is no pity party. The album boasts some of Bundick’s strongest melodies yet, with shades of Prince andTalking Heads – ‘Labyrinth’ could be the glum cousin of ‘This Must Be The Place’ – amongst his trademark hazy atmospheric pop. “I’m just trying to paint my picture best I can,” Bundick insists on ‘Windows’. ‘Boo Boo’ just might be his masterpiece.
“This house is full of women,” murmurs Michelle Zauner on ‘This House’, “playing guitar, cooking breakfast, sharing trauma, doing dishes. And where are you?” Her cadence forms the words in a blur. Her voice breaks through when a moment of rage takes her, but aching absence is the overwhelming feeling. The same pensiveness could be heard throughout even the chirpiest moments of her last album, when her mind was undoubtedly on the recent death of her mother. Little time has
passed since then, and that experience still lives with her on here. What began as a concept album, framed as a sci-fi musical, has opened up into personal, raw territory. Zauner is pulling from older songs that predate Japanese Breakfast, here, and with the past colouring much of the album’s mood, it’s fitting to hear her perform old thoughts with new vigour. What the album nails is this mood, rightly thrusting Zauner’s persona to the forefront. But many of its songs
feel too similar compositionally to translate the weight of their subject. ‘Boyish’, ‘Sounds from Another Planet’ and ‘Till Death’ are all stinging narratives, but they circle around melodies that flatten when they begin to imitate each other. There are highlights, like the slinky, dreamlike ‘Road Head’; Zauner puts down her guitar several times throughout the album and embraces the life of a replicant. At other times, it unfortunately feels even more like a copy of a copy.
Japanese Breakfast Soft Sounds from Another Planet dead oce a n s By st ep h en bu t cha rd . I n store s July 14
Reviews 0 7/ 1 0
Warm Digits Wirless Word
Sextile Albeit Living
Mammut Kinder Versions
me m ph is in du st r i e s
Fe l te
Be l l a un ion
James Heather Stories From Far Away On Piano
By r eef y oun is . In store s a ug 4
B y k ati e b e swi c k . I n sto re s j ul y 1 4
By Joe go gg in s . I n sto re s j u ly 2 8
a h ea d of o u r tim e B y stu a r t stu bbs. In sto r es a u g 1 1
Inspired by a world teetering between progress and collapse, Warm Digits’ third album combines disparate parts of analogue warmth, Giorgio Moroder-esque electronic exploration and an often beautiful, battering propulsion. Armed with live drums, guitar and electronics, and a few guest vocalists (Field Music’s Peter Brewis, Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell and Devon Sproule), the tracks on ‘Wireless World’ flicker between rich, widescreen ambition and polyrhythmic playfulness. On ‘Fracking Blackpool’, the Northern duo propel forward with a steady Motorik insistence; on ‘Always On’ they channel a sub-two minute blast of ‘Tarot Sport’-era Fuck Buttons; on ‘Victims of Geology’ they come alive with a potent blend of guitar angst and electronic complexity that both 65DaysofStatic andVessels continue to perfect. But in-between the cracks, Cracknell and ‘Growth of Raindrops’ emerge with a burst of blooming M83-inspired shoegaze and Sproule adds some sass ‘The Rumble and the Tremor’ to ensure there’s some levity to Warm Digits’ impressive machine funk march.
‘Albeit Living’, the second album from underground LA band Sextile, is a curious, frantic oxymoron – a joyously angry, politically-charged celebration of the absurdity of living in the present day, with a distinctly ’70s punk feel. The synth is the standout instrument on this record, deliberately given top billing as Sextile refine their signature sound in the wake of their debut album, 2015’s ‘A Thousand Hands’. And it works: this is sound-centred song writing. The track titles are weirdly onomatopoeic (‘Ripped’, ‘Floored’, ‘Mental’ and even the poetic ‘Who Killed Six’), capturing the aural energy of the songs they describe in a way that makes me feel these works were composed right in the midst of the visceral experiences they convey. I am not surprised to learn that frontman Brady Keehn used his personal experiences of addiction on the opening track ‘One ofThese’ – an intense tirade about his personal struggles and attempts to escape. Despite its retro-feel, this intense, impassioned record feels achingly current; a dark, optimistic battle cry for these uncertain times.
In a career that’s defied all logic and convention, moments of inconsistency are to be expected. While there is a tendency for fans to negate any wrongdoings when it comes toThe Fall’s recent output, the truth is there haven’t been any latterday releases that match the restless brilliance of ‘Your Future Our Clutter’ or the remarkable consistency of 2005’s ‘Fall Heads Roll’. Much like 2015’s ‘Sub-Lingual Tablet’, ‘New Facts Emerge’ is a mish-mash of weakness and familiar genius. ‘Fol De Rol’’s hook-heavy abrasiveness is everything that’s triumphant about this version of the group, and ‘Second House Now’ wonderfully elicits Mark E. Smith’s playfulness. Elsewhere, his garbled nonsense is once again saved by Pete Greenway’s potent, rockabilly-tinged guitar work on ‘Groundsboy’ and ‘Nine Out Of Ten’. Fortunately, there’s a lot less surreal growling from Smith on this record, his lyrics comprehensible, though still making little sense. That’s one thing I miss most about The Fall of yore: the smart & witty, wry lyrics, often as cryptic as they were identifiable.
The sound of a lone piano is unlike that of any other solo instrument. It can fill space, sustain and flourish where others can’t, and the space in between feels all the more silent when it comes. For it to feel really empathetic, it has to be played well, of course, like on James Heather’s debut album, where, dealing in minimal arpeggios that solemnly flutter and slowly build, the contemporary pianist has made nine incredibly emotive pieces, where his early love for Debussy is evident. Instrumental music like this begs for you to attach your own feelings and interpretations, but it’s pain that is at the heart of these compositions about true new stories found by Heather – of 16 years of false imprisonment (‘Teardrop Tattoo’), Boer War concentration camps (‘Empire Sounds’) and the Paris attacks (‘Last Minute Change of Heart’). Having survived a near fatal car crash in 2008, Heather knows a thing or two about struggle and sadness, but optimism and the beauty of life, too. It all goes into this tender and touching album.
It sounded like Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee were heading in a more electronic direction on 2015’s ‘Ivy Tripp’. But no. The role of keyboards has been downgraded on its follow up, with ‘Recite Remorse’ being ther only track on which the instrument is given a prominent role, slowly building over three parts from a shimmery electro wash to more standard indie-rock. Rather than marking a complete U-turn, however, ‘Out In The Storm’’s fuller band sound is indicative of how Crutchfield
has opted to move forward, recording mostly live, with the introduction of Sleater-Kinney touring member Katie Harkin on lead guitar. This has resulted in tracks such as ‘Never Been Wrong’ and ‘No Question’ having a heavier sound, reminiscent of Belly’s ‘King’ in their alt-rock brightness. It’s a guitar-driven tone that reflects the fiery, autobiographical lyrics of Crutchfield as she conversationally progresses from self-reflection (“I always gravitate
towards those who are unimpressed,” she acknowledges on ‘Recite Remorse’) to something resembling self-acceptance (“I’m walking away,” she declares on ‘Fade’, in reference to a toxic relationship). This emotional journey lends the material its nuances, with ‘Sparks Fly’ and ‘A Little More’ being a partial return to her folk-punk roots. Rather than looking backwards, though, ‘Out In The Storm’ marks an unsteady but definite musical and personal transformation.
Waxahatchee Out In The Storm Mer ge By su san dar ling ton. In store s july 14
Moon Diagrams Lifetime of Love
Peter Perrett How The West Was Won
Trailer Trash Tracys Althaea
Washed Out Mister Mellow
So n i c c at h e d r al
dom i n o
do ub l e s i x
Sto n es T h r ow
By sam wa lto n . In store s now
B y s t e p he n b u t c ha rd. I n s to re s now
By de re k robe rt s o n. I n s to r es a u g 1 1
B y s te ph en B u t c h a r d . I n s to r es j u ly 7
Moon Diagrams is the side-project of Deerhunter drummer Moses John Archuleta who, by the sounds of ‘Lifetime Of Love’, has no time for his parent band’s formalist approach to making albums. Written in three distinct periods that span the past decade, Archuleta’s debut is, bluntly, all over the place, featuring ambient washes, turbid dirges, atmospheric minimal techno and even a sort of narcotic yacht rock finale, all of which he makes no attempt to cohere. The central run of three vast and darkly repetitive slabs of megalithic techno is the album’s highlight, all airless studies of single-chord texture which, at 32 minutes, could well have constituted the album by itself. That Archuleta bookends it with foggy quasi-songs that variously recycle Madonna’s ‘Holiday’, sound like a Walkman gradually losing power or pay tribute to Hall & Oates, is baffling. It’s not necessarily to its detriment, though: indeed, the fact it breaks quite so many rules of how a record should flow makes ‘Lifetime Of Love’ a rather thrillingly one-off, transgressive experience.
This is Peter Perrett’s proper homecoming. It wasn’t easy getting here. A decade since the brief reunion of his cult band The Only Ones in 2007, he claims to have hardly touched a guitar. On ‘How the West Was Won’, he has soaked up all that time to deliver something both experienced and joyously innocent. The stark cover and titular opening track suggest a despondent reflection on the modern age from someone who saw it take shape. But it’s not all bleak. The album is built on comradery and connection, with songs supported by the sturdy musicianship of his sons. His wife, Zena, was the force that got him back on stage, setting up a small tour in the summer of 2015 and, fittingly, most of these songs are intimate and humble. ‘Troika’, ‘An Epic Story’ and ‘C Voyeurger’ are in debt to those that encouraged this afterglow, captured in the warm, weathered vocals, and resonant melodies. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll have heard this album countless times. But Perrett’s clarity of voice is intact. It’s good to have him back.
London duo Trailer Trash Traceys are not a band in a hurry. After the hazy, shoegaze delights of debut single ‘Strangling Good Guys’, three years elapsed before their debut album appeared. ‘Althaea’, their second, arrives a full five years after that. What they do have in spades is a sense of otherworldliness, and a determination to plough their own furrow. In a similar vein to the likes of label mates Dirty Projectors, they turn modern pop music inside out. The results, whilst challenging, are certainly not dull. Drawing from a number of eclectic sources (Filipino carnival music, avant-garde pop, latin rhythms and Japanese tropical music to name but four) the duo have put together a collection of songs that surprise and confound in equal measure, forever disappearing off on a tangent. It’s exhausting in places, but effort is rewarded: repeated listens yield lush details and neat little melodies, heightening the sense of a band dedicated to their craft. ‘Althaea’ might lack a few genuine standout moments, but the journey from lo-fi dream pop to this has been fascinating to witness.
There’s a smirk behind the title of Ernest Greene’s visual album, ‘Mr Mellow’. While many lumped into the dead buzz-genre of Chillwave (Neon Indian,ToroY Moi) have gone running to bolder things, Greene embraces the cosy quality that saw him rise to fame. You might expect the visual aspect of ‘Mr Mellow’ to imply a clear focus or narrative. Instead, it acts as a collection of colourful sketches that amplify the nostalgic mood of each song. The music embraces cheesy disco, fifties kitsch, and Avalanches-indebted ambience. The visuals celebrate Python-style cutout animation and comforting film crackle. Frames are graffitied in Crayola-scribbled daydreams. This visual element feels more than a gimmick though. Vocal samples too hazy to be picked out through a cursory listen are given clarity; themes of drug dependency and apathy form. By the end of the album, Greene finds solace in getting lost in ‘Get Lost’, the album’s lead single and sharpest moment.You’ve heard it before, but this cohesive, weightless pool of an album reveals moments of heft when allowed to be noticed.
Art Feynman’s press photos see him standing in what appears to be a quarry, using various means (flowers, floppy hats) to obscure his face in the shot. Perhaps this Californian wants to hide himself from the lens. His boldly produced debut album, though, displays no such signs of shyness – rather a determination, it at least seems, to break generic boundaries as well as to mine African influences. Feynman starts to relax into things with second track, ‘Slow
Down’, which is very cool, with a shuffling beat and a sensuous vocal. Imagine Portishead in a smoky jazz club. The song feels very freeform, and ends too quickly. Yet an underlying sense of unease seems to be one of the central musical themes of this record, which is built on equal parts rhythmic tightness, exemplary musicianship and abstract creativity. The eight-minute ‘Feeling Good About Feeling Good’ is almost like the Beta Band meets ‘Second Coming’-era Stone Roses, with a
repeated lyrical refrain and an extended wig-out to close; the kind of holy jam which, if done right, will never feel old. But while you can’t help admire that ‘Blast Off Through The Wicker’ genuinely pulses with creativity, songs like ‘Hot Night Jeremiah’ are overly long and incredibly dull, and on album closer ‘Small House Blues’ it’s as if the musicians themselves are painfully bored. This otherwise impressive debut suffers greatly for it.
Art Feynman Blast Off Through The Wicker Wes te rn v inyl By c h r i s watke ts. I n store july 14
Katie Von Schleicher Shitty Hits
Avey Tare Eucalyptus
Childhood Universal High
Soccer Mommy Collection
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Vintage pop fans rejoice – Katie Von Schleider has you covered. Her selfproduced debut album was created on a tape machine in her childhood home in Maryland and, perhaps because of that, a sense of syrupy, melodic nostalgia permeates the whole of ‘Shitty Hits’. Never fear, though; this album stays firmly on the right side of saccharine. Comparisons could be drawn to the cinematic scope of Angel Olsen, Caitlin Rose’s soulful post-war throwbacks, or even Lana Del Rey, but truthfully Katie Von Schleider’s first full length outing is more than the sum of its parts. Lead single ‘Life’s A Lie’ deals with imposter syndrome, its self-critical lyrics hidden under the guise of a cheerful pop tune.The single’s sentiments are repeated throughout the record, as on ‘Isolator’ and the soulful, sepiatoned ‘Paranoia’. ‘Shitty Hits’ is by turns self-deprecating and tender, with wonky piano riffs and staticriddled percussion twining around the lyrics. Katie Von Schleider’s debut tackles feelings of mediocrity, and turns them into something grand instead.
There are commendable moments on the second solo album from Animal Collective’s principle songwriter, but they are so infrequent as to resemble needles within a dense haystack of meandering claptrap, rendering the search for them at first rather demoralising and then almost mythical. A case in point: the infectiously off-kilter ‘Jackson 5’ is a terrific blast of experimental pop, but it’s flanked on both sides by 20 minutes of rudderless songwriting that goes nowhere slowly and is constantly interrupting itself with another halfbaked idea; the musical equivalent of one of Grandpa Simpson’s neverending monologues. ‘Roamer’, too, is a fascinating detuned subversion of glam’s stomp that lifts itself admirably from the surrounding thickets, but even then the reward isn’t equal to the quest. It’s a marker of how worshipped Animal Collective have become that a side-project this slapdash is commercially viable (the deluxe double vinyl edition is yours, via the band’s own store, for £30). More damningly, though, it’s also a measure of their complacency.
Some records manage to instantly dissolve cynicism like sugar in acid. Childhood’s ‘Universal High’ (Ben Romans-Hopcraft’s reinvention from indie band leader to solo act) is a summertime blast of good-time, tune-heavy joy that wears its soul influences like a poster board. ‘A.M.D’ is open-top road music, a shimmering chorus carried by falsetto vocals, while ‘Too Old For My Tears’ is a great blast of brassy soul-pop; two minutes of distilled jive brilliance. This is an album of universal appeal and big choruses, while lines like “When I was nineteen on the dancefloor / And everything felt like so much more” display a sweet wistfulness. ‘Cameo’ has a bassline built for lovin’ and vocals that sound like Gruff Rhys doing an impression of Barry White, before a chorus reminiscent of Mansun’s ‘Wide Open Space’ – an odd menagerie, but incredibly it all sounds brilliant together. Barring a couple of pedestrian moments, and it must be said the occasional feeling of pastiche, ‘Universal High’ is a melody-driven, good-time record of fabulous soul-pop.
Soccer Mommy’s anti-debut album – a further jaunt into the world of free Bandcamp releases and sprawling online discographies – is a bold rejection of mainstream music production and distribution. Indeed, don’t be fooled by ‘Collection’’s disguise. Packaged just like a debut album – 8 tracks pressed onto coloured vinyl, plus CD and cassette – it is actually just as its title suggests: an assemblage of polished versions of the band’s best tracks. Soccer Mommy’s songs address the pain of adolescence while maintaining sunshine chord progressions and twee, though never totally saccharine, melodies. More exciting still is that songs like ‘Try’ aren’t being spouted into an echo chamber whose walls are bricked with GarageBand-addicted college kids. Allison’s refrain of ‘I just wanna try,’ thanks in part to its power and in part to her distribution techniques, will be inspirational to all with an Internet connection. In a world plighted by instant gratification and thus the expectations that accompany it, ‘Collection’ embodies the value of patience and hard work.
In a career that’s defied all logic and convention, moments of inconsistency are to be expected. While there is a tendency for fans to negate any wrongdoings when it comes toThe Fall’s recent output, the truth is there haven’t been any latterday releases that match the restless brilliance of ‘Your Future Our Clutter’ or the remarkable consistency of 2005’s ‘Fall Heads Roll’. Much like 2015’s ‘Sub-Lingual Tablet’, ‘New Facts Emerge’ is a mish-mash of weakness and familiar
genius. ‘Fol De Rol’’s hook-heavy abrasiveness is everything that’s triumphant about this version of the group, and ‘Second House Now’ wonderfully elicits Mark E. Smith’s playfulness. Elsewhere, his garbled nonsense is once again saved by Pete Greenway’s potent, rockabillytinged guitar work on ‘Groundsboy’ and ‘Nine Out Of Ten’. Fortunately, there’s a lot less surreal growling from Smith on this record, his lyrics comprehensible, though still making little sense.
That’s one thing I miss most about The Fall of yore: the smart & witty, wry lyrics, often as cryptic as they were identifiable. While there are some outstanding moments here, it’s missing the usual attempt at poppy accessibility the likes of ‘Jetplane’ and ‘Snazzy’ exuded on previous recent LPs, somethingThe Fall have always done very well indeed. Elena’s primitive synth parts are also forgone in favour of a tougher, guitar-centric sound. Her departure could prove fatal.
The Fall New Facts Emerge Ch er r y r ed By hay ley sc ott . I n sto res July 28
Girl Ray Earl Grey mo shi mo shi By joe goggi ns. In sto res a ug 4
What’s already become clear about Girl Ray in the few months since they really began to catch people’s attention is that it’s one thing to form a band over a shared love of certain influences, but another entirely to be able to meld them together in a way that suggests an almost telepathic manner of intra-band communication. Everything we were shown of this debut record ahead of time suggested as much. ‘Stupid Things’ channelled both the timelessness of Carole King and the very singular sonic palette of C86 at the same time.This should, on paper, mean that ‘Earl Grey’ isn’t an especially original album, but the way in which the Brighton-based trio
have taken their cues from their favourite records feels genuinely fresh. Perhaps even vital. ‘Preacher’ is a great case in point, sounding every inch the classic pop love song, all undulating acoustic guitars and flighty vocals. ‘Where Am I Now’ follows a similar tack, albeit with the addition of twinkly synths that hint at a psych-ier direction without ever going all the way down that particular rabbit hole. That sort of experimentation is instead kept in wholesale reserve for the likes of the epic title track, which clocks in at thirteen (count em) minutes and glides glacially from minimalist pop at the outset to an increasingly eclectic outro, with
trumpets signalling the start of a descent into a messy-feedback laden outro. ‘A Few Months’ is deceptively off-kilter, too, flitting between sunny guitars and foreboding synths. Also striking about ‘Earl Grey’ is that you suspect that Girl Ray – who, stupefyingly, released their first single whilst they were studying for their A-levels (not their degrees, like old-timers) – are young enough that they might not just be referencing classic inspirations here, but also bands new enough to be their contemporaries. The weirdness of the sugary ‘Ghosty’ recalls the first Veronica Falls album, whilst the lyrical approach that singer Poppy
Hankin takes is striking in both its precocity (she talks about love and romance with a cynicism that belies her nineteen years) and its appetite for tackling those issues with tongue often firmly in cheek. In truth, though, the thing that’ll really hit you about ‘Earl Grey’ right across the board is how assured it sounds, even if the band weren’t so terrifyingly young. That they are, and that they’ve carved their own niche out of their influences so quickly, should guarantee a very bright future ahead of them.The only caveat is this – you wonder, listening to ‘Earl Grey’, whether this is one of those debuts they’ll spend the rest of their career trying to top.
Back in the halcyon days of early noughties indie rock, the number of great guitar bands seemed endless. But if NYC felt like the centre of the universe, the great Canadian export of artists like Arcade Fire, Metric, Feist, The New Pornographers and Broken Social Scene challenged that assertion every step of the way. And while the latter didn’t generate the global acclaim of others, their place shouldn’t be understated, even if it was less celebrated. After all, a lot of those acts came from
Broken Social Scene. Returning after a seven-year hiatus with album number five, Kevin Drew’s evolving band remain as much of an incongruent collective as they do an indie supergroup. The spotlight isn’t on them the way it once was but, as ‘Hug of Thunder’ proves, this is still a Rolodex of pooled passions, projects and talents creating music that’s as unashamedly baroque as it is consistently brilliant in its ambition. Here, tracks like ‘Stay Happy’
and ‘Vanity Pail Kids’ are music as a spectacle – all raucous vocals and righteous, happy pandemonium – and it’s that communal sense of fun that ensures BSS endure. Even when things finally slow down on the ghostly ‘Victim Lover’ and with the sombre, drifting echoes of ‘Please Take Me With You’, they pick it up to grandiosely close on ‘Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse’. Hiatus or not, they’re still proudly fragmented and anything but broken.
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Once a year we’re happy to team up with Primavera Sound for a long weekend of live music on Barcelona’s coastline. You probably know the deal by now, even if you’ve not made it to the festival yet – an ever-growing line-up of superior alt. artists all meet up at Parc del Forum and play into the hot Catalan night, causing spontaneous fits of crying at the beauty of it all, sometimes enhanced by sunstroke and other substances. Over the years we’ve noticed how a majority of the artists fit neatly into the following four categories. Four of us took on one each. Like X Factor.
The groups No one’s quite sure why sloshy Cali band The Growlers have such a high billing on the second day, but on the giant main stage they look too louche – or too stoned – to care. Frontman Brooks Neilsen, who’s
dressed like Che Guevara and swaggers like Ian Brown, is a star with croaky Julian Casablancas vocals. Some of it sounds like The Blockheads, other bits the Happy Mondays, all of it sublimely ridiculous, just like Mac DeMarco’s drummer Joe McMurray who, throughout his band’s performance, wears a bucket hat... and nothing else. The ongoing joke is that during the set the rest of the band try to get him to stand up and uncover his modesty. The typically daft show ends with Mac stripped down to his boxers, smoking a cigarette and rubbing his crotch into his keyboardist’s head during ‘Together’. A beautiful moment. And yes, McMurray did stand up and we all saw his penis. That same night, Sleaford Mods suffer from the biggest technical failure of the weekend despite only having a laptop between them. They have to restart opening song ‘Army
Nights’ three times. Jason Williamson gives the sound guy a bollocking – which he later apologies for – but by the end tracks like ‘BHS’, ‘Jolly Fucker’ and ‘Jobseeker’ prove themselves the most unlikely of festival anthems, to the biggest crowd by two angry white men. Arcade Fire pretty much wrap up things for the groups on the final night. New show, new album, new production, but somehow it gets off to a sluggish start. When it does get going, with ‘Reflektor’ and then ‘Afterlife’, it’s the Sagrada Familiasized spectacle everyone’s used to seeing from the Canadians. All in all, the groups did some good work this year. Greg Cochrane
the over 45s The over 45s category at Primavera is usually well appointed, each year bolstered by a seasoned veteran or
two, an exhumed ghost from the past, and Shellac, who, since the demise of ATP, now never actually leave Primavera’s little stage by the marina. This year it’s no different: Van Morrison (71) and Grace Jones (69) bring the star quality, the Belfast Cowboy obliging his public with a setlist full of hits, and Jones doing likewise with euphorically bombastic disco and heavy dub alongside costume changes and confetti cannons. The ghosts are here too, both figurative, in the form of the alarmingly translucent Zombies (mid-70s), and literal, thanks to Seu Jorge (47) and his gentle invocations of David Bowie (dead), quietly beautiful on the Ray-Ban stage. And, yes, Shellac (mid-50s) played too. But the surprise package of the weekend in any category were metal legends Slayer (also mid-50s), who tore the main stage a brand new pentagram-shaped one with
Photography by Alba Ruperez, Eric Pamies, Garbine Irizar
New to Primavera
intimidatingly tight and unapologetically histrionic full of surprises, individuality and utter musical devotion – characteristics which should’ve been the preserve of Aphex Twin (45) had he not spent his first half-hour trying to convert 20,000 drunk people to the nuanced joys of musique concrete. When he eventually found his feet, the burbling acid and freaky projections provided a fine spectacle, but at 3am on the opening night of Primavera, the mantra of “fuck art, let’s dance” has never felt more appropriate. Sam Walton
the rappers Primavera always has a small but sturdy rap presence, where no two acts are alike. Skepta’s on a victory lap. Run The Jewels are the formerunderdog champions. But smallstage acts have something to prove. Chameleon Chicago MC Joey Purp gives us the most traditional, no-frills rap set of the weekend. He flits between breezy, aggressive, personal and universal. Gritty, overblown cuts like ‘Photobooth’ are smashed next to kooky summer jams like ‘Girls @’. He’s nimble no matter the mood. Swet Shop Boys rattle through a collection of menacing cuts. Anger
Clockw ise f r om f ar le f t: Sle aford Mo d s , gr ac e j one s , bon ive r & s we t s h op boy s .
3 things that were added to this year’s expanding festival program House parties
bleeds out of sly punchlines, mostly about being an outsider, even within hip-hop. Both Heems and Riz MC rap about their immigrant identity over Redinho’s dextrous production that splices eastern samples with blunt club showmanship. They have a sharp dynamic, balancing different types of rebellion. Heems is more cynical, riding the beat with looseness and charisma; Riz MC brings intensity. “It’s important to stay hydrated,” he shouts at one point. Even that is barked like he wants to eat your children. The most vital moment of the rap line-up comes from Kate Tempest. ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ gets more poignant with each headline. Her set
is a lamentation. Each song aches. She frequently stresses new corners of a song to make you take notice. On ‘Tunnel Vision’ she twists her verse to start each line with the word ‘vote’. Primavera understands the communal spirit that a festival can carry, but Tempest elevates us to family. Stephen Butchard
the solo artists Primavera has a reputation for treating its players well, and although I imagine it’s not a hard sell convincing artists to come and play in the sun and sleep in a 5-star hotel, it says a lot that for all his cancelled shows, Bon Iver kept Primavera on his dwindling tour schedule, playing ‘22, A Million’ in Europe for the first time. He does it in order, and, contorting with every bend of outrageous autotune, his new, contrary songs outshine the likes of ‘Perth’ and ‘Holocene’ tacked on the end. It’s emotional stuff, but not as much as Seu Jorge’s Life Aquatic tribute to David Bowie. At this vigil, the Brazilian sings in Portuguese with everyone else singing back to him in the English lyrics we all know from osmosis. Disappointingly, Mitski’s is a laclustre performance made more sluggish by weak sound that’s clearly pissed her off. Otherwise things had been such a laugh with the solo artists, as Alex Cameron led the inside auditorium (an odd placing) in a merry dance, creating a whack-amole situation with security who tried in vain to get people to sit down to this sleazy, funky dude, while Skepta closed out the main stage with unaffected grime bluster and the most fun. Stuart Stubbs
Primavera is no longer confined to its festival site in the north east of Barcelona, with club shows opening and closing the festival in town each year. Primavera Casa Teva was something new, though, as five acts played in five residential homes around the city, including The Wedding Present, Songhoy Blues and Kelly Lee Owens, who turned a townhouse off Las Ramblas into a techno club at 2 in the afternoon.
secret shows Now that there’s no Prince, we thought the best secret show we could ever hope for would be Kevin Morby acoustic (still pretty good). Primavera did one a day – Arcade Fire in the carpark, Mogwai previewing a new album in full, and, perhaps most impressive of all, Haim who ended up closing the festival on a small stage, one stadium pop shout out at a time. Turns out it’s what all us selfrighteous dorks needed.
dance village Last year Primavera added a Bowers & Wilkins soundsystem down by the beach. This year it was pushed out further with a corner of the sand in front of it blocked off for festivalgoers’ use in the day and into the night. It became the place the start your evening each day, with the soundsystem itself being as bigger draw as the lush grass – a festival rarity.
M.I.A. Royal Festival Hall, London 19 / 0 6/ 20 17 writ er: S tu art Stub bs Photog rapher: M i ke Massaro
M.I.A. has been threatening to quit since 2007 and her second album, ‘Kala’. Nine years later, with a couple more albums in between, she prepped the release of 2016’s ‘AIM’ with insistence that this really would be it. “It’s my last record so I wanted it to be happy,” she told Annie Mac on Radio 1. When ‘AIM’ dropped in September of last year to mixed-tonegative reviews it really did feel like the end. The previously released ‘Borders’ showed that there was still pop genius and political fire in M.I.A. but across the rest of the album, half songs that peaked with her sampling her own ‘Arular’ track ‘Galang’ (admittedly due to a legal dispute over an Elton John sample) suggested something hard to swallow – M.I.A. seemed to be all out of ideas. Worse still was the sense that most people hadn’t really bothered to even check out ‘AIM’. Tonight M.I.A. closes her owncurated Meltdown Festival with a tightly executed, gapless run of career hits. But before we get into that, it’s worth sparing a thought for how M.I.A. has revitalised the Southbank Centre’s Meltdown – a 10day run of shows that has felt Guy Garvey’d-out long before the Elbow singer curated last year’s event. It may well be that M.I.A.’s singular sound feels outdated in 2017, but over the last 10 days her influence and connects have
breathed new life into a series that was often fusty and low on simple fun. M.I.A. by comparison pulled together a line-up of rappers and artists that represent youth culture in a time of political change and underdog success, from Giggs and Princess Nokia to past collaborator Afrikan Boy, to Mykki Blanco, to Young M.A – world artists, straight and queer, how M.I.A. has been preaching since 2005. She starts her victory lap with ‘Borders’, which gives us a sense of what we’re in for – the obliging big tunes. M.I.A. is all in white with red roses on a sheer gown. A wall of illuminated bars block off a majority of the stage, leaving a narrow ledge for the singer to swagger back and forth on. Behind the bars with an expanse of space to dance in is DJ Tiger who looks like a science lab technician and shouts out in that old school garage way. Maybe it stuns people, or perhaps it’s the all-seated theatre, but ‘Borders’ is received with a flatter than expected response. The same goes for ‘Go Off’ and ‘Pull Up The People’, despite a short roar when M.I.A. says, “This song is for anyone out there helping people who are worse off than them,” and for a brief moment it feels like no matter how banging the song choices are tonight, maybe in this space it’s just not going to happen. M.I.A. does something about that, jumping into the crowd for
the following ‘Bamboo Banga’ and running up and down the aisles. From that point on the vibe of the room matches the aggression of the dancers on stage, the pristine sound system (they hold the BAFTAs here) and M.I.A.’s casual cool that will probably outlive her songs in any case. She strolls back and forth, leans back and swishes, reaches down to hold hands with the front row. She scales the bars for ‘P.O.W.A.’, pulls back on ‘XR2’ to keep the momentum up as each track hops into the next with a quick mix, bounces through the Suicidesampling ‘Born Free’ and briefly speaks about her hope in UK politics – not renewed but found for the first time, due to Jeremy Corbyn. “Well done for voting,” she says. “I never thought I’d say that – it’s quite a big thing for me.” It’s a fast, tight show that’s initially done within 35 minutes. Her encore includes ‘Ali R U Ok?’ from ‘AIM’, and ‘Bad Girls’, through which she
Ron Gallo Shacklewell Arms, London
Mount Kimbie Star Theatre, Portland, OR
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Ron Gallo combines a remarkable ability to coax and energise a crowd while retaining a Jonathan Richmanlike earnestness of message. His version of the garage (rock) pop idiom melds messy fuzz with Ringo backbeats.Though clearly convinced of the significance of his music, he’s likeable, and in a packed, sweltering pub during the first flush of summer, Gallo dispenses his insights with the enthusiasm of a caffeine-high street
preacher. Now, I don’t always agree with him: Gallo is a cultural elitist who asks ‘why do you have kids?’ and laments ‘Werewolves of London’ having less streaming hits than Kid Rock. The incongruous stadium rock antics that accompany this could signal hypocrisy but the crowd seems to broadly agree with him. ‘All the Punks Are Domesticated’ is this review in microcosm and proves to be the highpoint.
Just over four years ago I was sat on the roof of Mount Kimbie’s London studio space, in the early evening sunshine talking about the imminent release of ‘Cold Spring, Faultless Youth’. It’s a vivid recollection of a band, their music and a city I happily left three years ago, and tonight that fleeting shared history creates a happy reminiscence as the hazy alchemy of ‘Carbonated’ drifts into the smoke, and the minimal beauty of
encourages woman in the crowd to join her onstage until security finally freak out about the amount of people on the thin walkway. There’s ‘Paper Planes’, of course, and something special to end – ‘Bird Song’ and a very first live performance of ‘Freedun’ are backed by a female a capella youth choir in matching ‘Fly Pirate’ tees. Both songs sound infinitely better than they do on ‘AIM’, with ‘Freedun’ bordering on spiritual, whether you’re dehydrated through intense sweating or not. If ‘AIM’ really is the end, M.I.A. leaves more than Meltdown in better shape than she found it. As an artist who’s always represented unity, the package of M.I.A. has ironically alienated some, who feel it too hip for them – a fashion crowd thing. The diversity of tonight’s audience negates that, with 65 year-old white gentlemen standing on their chairs between whole families and people of all nationalities. We’re going to miss her more than we probably think.
‘Before I Move Off’ stirs memories of long night buses and lost nights. New track ‘Delta’ changes the pace, kicking into a Motorik, keyboard groove before the lighter, vocal touch of ‘Marilyn’ and chunky bass of ‘So Many Times, So Many Ways’ softens the mood. It’s left, then, to the eternally satisfying thump of ‘Made To Stray’ to finish, barrelling its way to a pounding close of a set as big on both highlights and memories.
‘Sexy’ with Pressa still kept the vibe going. From here, ‘3 Wheel-ups’, along with ‘Man Don’t Care’ and ‘KMT’, showed Giggs could do a features show better than most people’s albums, and that the barrier was well and truly broken. People poured down the stairs, danced in the aisles and climbed on seats. ‘Lock Doh’ and the Giggs classics ‘Look What
the Cat Dragged In’ and ‘Talking Da Hardest’ (of course the national anthem had to be played in The Royal Festival Hall) had people skanking before chaos resumed for the finale of ‘Whippin’ Excursion’. What was special about all of this was that there was no question over whether he deserved to be there.There was no acquiescence to the room. No suggestion that the music needed to be altered to fit in. Rap and grime have been performed in similar places with orchestral accompaniment, such as Kanye West’s ‘Late Orchestration’ or The Radio 1Xtra Proms, but Giggs took the room, as he has throughout his career, by being unashamedly himself. He’s been blocked from playing clubs and had his career stalled by the powers that be for too long. It took grime and UK rap years to be accepted and respected by the mainstream. Years of being told it would never work, years of being accused it promoted violence and years of being forced into making it pop and dance tracks. Now it’s in the Royal Festival Hall.
pounce of the beat hits as hard as any contemporary techno track does. ‘Computer Love’ soars like the glorious piece of symphony-like pop it is; ‘The Man-Machine’ sounds fierce whilst ‘Neon Lights’ has an almost poignant melancholy to it, its infectious melody and slowed down, slightly wonky pace and beautifully simplistic lyrics giving space for reflection. It’s that reflection that gravitates towards the grim realisation that these wonderful, pioneering, German creations that emanate from the stage will no longer be linked to our country in the same way
in the near future. As is customary, they bring out their robots for the encore of ‘The Robots’ as the rather pleasingly antiquated robot dolls – as is the style for much of their visuals too – move in jolting fashion back and forth in red shirts and black ties. The humans return for one last finale, ending in a thumping closing trio of ‘Boing Boom Tschak’, ‘Techno Pop’ and ‘Music Non Stop’ before disappearing one at time, leaving the echo of some of the greatest music ever created ringing loudly in your ears, with the sad irony that soon we’ll all have a little less Kraftwerk in us.
Giggs Royal Festival Hall, London 13 / 0 6/ 20 17 wri ter: t homas ga ne photo grapher: V icto r Fra nko wski
Someone’s smoking weed in the Royal Festival Hall. Next week Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 will be performed here, but right now someone is smoking weed, people are dancing on chairs and the DJ just reloaded ‘3 Wheel-ups’ because Giggs has turned the place into a festival tent. Following strong sets by Lisa Mercedes, Rude Kid and A2, the crowd started to get up for Nadia Rose, tentatively testing the boundaries of what was acceptable in this hall of ‘high culture’. In Giggs’ DJ’s warm up set it’s pushed further. J Hus’ ‘Did You See’ is wheeled as bodies filled the aisles. The clock crept closer to 10pm and it actually felt like a festival: boozy, buzzing and with a hint of anxiety. Giggs took the stage with the
confidence of a man who knows he’s got dangerous songs in his locker. He walked casually on as the first bars of ‘The Blow Back’ rang out, gradually upping the ante until the whole Festival Hall was yelling the hook; “gang, gang, gang, gang.” He then put hearts in mouths when he said he was bringing out his “brother from Toronto… no, not that one,” but the performance of new single
Julien Baker The Deaf Institute Manchester
Kraftwerk City Hall Sheffield
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wri ter: Joe Go gg ins
write r : dani e l d yl an w r ay
“You’re all very quiet,” says Julien Baker in her unmistakable Tennessee lilt, three or four songs into tonight’s set. “You’re all very polite. I appreciate that.” Nothing else was ever going to do, really. Baker is now deservedly a critical darling off the back of February’s tremendous debut LP, ‘Sprained Ankle’, and given that said record mined minimalist charm so fundamentally, it would have been frankly perverse for Baker to play with a band tonight. Thankfully, all we get is Baker and her Telecaster. Even then, there’s room for flexibility; ‘Vessels’ is an octave lower, and an octave more powerful therefore, whilst the rawness of new track ‘Turn Out the Lights’ cuts to the bone in vocal terms. Baker promises we’ll have a new album by October, and that she’ll be back in November. Until then, though, she signs off with a ferocious cover of Audioslave’s ‘Doesn’t Remind Me’ – a nod to her Pacific Northwest influences, and a testament to her musical versatility.
A staggering 43 years since the German electro gods started the ignition on ‘Autobahn’ and went hurtling into the future, and they are still performing, albeit with just one original member, Ralf Hutter, left in the line-up. It’s been 14 years since they last released any new material, yet the 3-D show, which they have now been touring for some years, feels anything but an exercise in nostalgia or even a prolonged victory lap. The infinite crispness and dynamism of the music, along with the ceaseless desire to purify the sounds of their electronics with ongoing technological advancements, means that these shows still feel progressive, advancing and blindingly fresh. It’s of course testament to their impeccable back catalogue and their wider impact on the music world that it still sounds so punchy and accessible, but what’s most astonishing is how locked into a feeling of futurism they still are. The three-part take of ‘Tour De France’ unravels at an almost punishing volume and the bite and
Singing Pictures the video evolution of beyoncÉ
Sasha Fierce, Queen Bee or simply Bey; whatever you call her there’s no getting away from the fact that Beyoncé is at the pinnacle of pop monarchy. Whether she’s releasing videos, albums or babies, people give a shit. This stuff matters. Rather like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé is an artist who has done a lot of her growing up in the public eye. She’s been in bands since she was just nine, starting with Girl’s Tyme, which evolved into Destiny’s Child, before going solo in 2003 and becoming everyone’s favourite highnote wailing warbler. Now some 14 years later she’s not so much a pop star as a living aspirational artwork. So how did we find ourselves living in the reign of Queen Bey? Let’s go back to the beginning and find out.
There aren’t many music videos that cause the kind of commotion ‘Formation’ did. Launched just before Beyoncé’s Superbowl appearance in 2016, this is a video that will either resonate or repel, depending on your perspective. For those who think the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was an expression of systematic racism, and support the Black Lives Matter movement, ‘Formation’ is an amazing awareness-raising piece of activism. For those that don’t, it’s probably a bit of a difficult watch. Whereas in ‘Countdown’ we just got cool visuals, now we have an aesthetic ideal married to a political message. The slave history of the south, the marching bands of Mardi Gras and the ominous power of the police are all evoked. We even see graffiti that says ‘Stop shooting us’. Again, it’s a lot to absorb in less than five minutes, but its density is part of its power – you’re overwhelmed by the sheer weight of Beyoncé’s musical, visual and lyrical argument. That said, ‘Formation’ has not been without its critics. The embrace of ostentatious wealth – the furs, the jewels, the ‘Givenchy dress’ – does jar. After all, modern day capitalism is the very thing that has crushed Black communities in America and elsewhere – should it really be celebrated as empowerment, even if it is a Black woman with the power? Maybe, maybe not. But Beyoncé is the one making conversations like this happen, and for that we should thank her.
1. crazy in love (2003) This is where Beyoncé the Pop Behemoth began, with a hit that’s bigger than an Antony Joshua punch to the face. The music video was also considered a success – though frankly you could have paired this banger up with a slowmo of a dog taking a shit and you’d still have a winner – gathering a gaggle of gongs at the MTV Video Music Awards. Looking back it’s hard to understand why, because frankly, it’s not very good. Beyoncé writhes around a lot, using moves that are more part-time stripper than coherent choreographic composition. She bursts some bubble gum bubbles, gets water poured all over her, licks her fingers and does a good deal of what today you’d call twerking but back then was known as shaking your arse. She also wears an expensive looking fur coat while a car explodes. Taken all together, ‘Crazy in Love’ feels like it was conceived by a focus group made up exclusively of Nuts reader. But what Beyoncé did next was a bit different.
Here’s where things start to get interesting. Gone is Beyoncé the sexy plastic Barbie and in comes Beyoncé the player of reference roulette. ’50s actresses, ’60s colour schemes, ’70s style motifs and ’80s ballet are all alluded to in a split-screen, splatterpaint approach that is both visually compelling and slightly sickening, like mixing every flavour of ice cream together and then eating it. The best bits are the stop-motion
moments, with Beyoncé impersonating Audrey Hepburn while a kaleidoscope of colours snaps by. The choreography is also very cool, although the fact it was lifted from a famous contemporary dance piece called ‘Rosas danst Rosas’ caused a minor controversy at the time. What’s clear from this video is that Beyoncé now sees herself as more
than a pop singer: she’s an all-around artist whose visual and musical output is of equal importance. The only problem with this is that you then have to be judged at a higher standard, and for me, ‘Countdown’ isn’t quite complete. Yes, it looks great in places, but with so many “inspirations” battling for position it is rather too busy.
First she made great music. Then she became a visual virtuoso. Finally, with ‘Formation’, we get these two combined with an added message. So is Beyoncé the ultimate music video artist? I can’t answer that conclusively, but going through her music video history has given me a new appreciation for her work. Sonically she’s not really my thing – and let’s face it, I’m not the target audience – but I finally get the whole business of Queen Bey. And yes, her unrestrained embrace of wealth is a bit problematic, but when John Lennon sang “imagine no possessions” while surrounded by loads expensive shit we didn’t give him a hard time. In the journey from throwaway pop star to meaningful music maker, Beyoncé is not perfect, but she’s pretty close.
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FanFIction: On the way to the Count
The Prime Minister’s two aides glanced at each other in the back of the car. Their chief was mumbling to herself again, as she stared out of the window. “I don’t want to go,” she said a little louder. “Hey, come on ma’am,” said one of the aides. “It’s going to be fine. We’re going to nip in, hear the count (which of course you’re going win), show the world how strong and stable you are, and out. 20 minutes max.” “But the Exit Polls,” she said… “We’re fucked, aren’t we?” “Of course we’re not,” said the second aide. “Who believes the polls these days, anyway? Trust me, by the morning you’ll be thinking what was I so worried about.” The PM thought for a second and
slowly started to come around to the idea. “Yeaaah, maybe you’re right,” she said. “I mean, the polls are always wrong, aren’t they? Yeah. We’ll go to the count, aye? Walk in – no, strut in – and show them exactly what I’m made of. The odd troublemaker will jeer and taunt, of course, but who remember’s them! People only remember winners... Yeah... I’m quite excited, actually.” “That’s the spirit, ma’am. And hey, it can’t be as bad as Tim Farron’s count, can it? There was a guy standing against him dressed as a fish finger.” “Yes, I did see that,” giggled the Prime Minister. “I shouldn’t laugh but how embarrassing for him. Imagine – having to give a winner’s speech at your count with a fish
finger beside you making a mockery of the whole democratic process and everything you stand for. I. Would. Die.” She crowed. Her first aide shuffled awkwardly and waited for the din to die down. “Yes, indeed... There is one thing you should be made aware of before we arrive...” she finally said. “Yesss?” hissed the PM. “One of your opponents tonight is called Lord Buckethead…” “Oh God,” said the PM, wringing her hands. “He’s not a real lord,” said the aide with a gritted half smile. “Well, I know that, don’t I,” snapped the leader of the country. “Yes, of course… He’s just some silly man, ma’am. Some loner, probably, who’s called himself Lord Buckethead, the intergalactic space lord. It’s no big deal. People will hardly notice he’s there. I mean, you’re the Prime Minister. You’re the only person people care about in Maidenhead tonight. I just thought I should mention it.” “No, quite right,” said the PM, looking out the window again. She paused. “Well, yes. So what!? It’s just one looney guy. Lord whatever. Who cares!? And, y’know, I felt genuinely sorry for Tim and the fish finger, so I’ll expect the same from my peers and the public. It’s just the one silly man,” she said, lowering her voice. “Just the one silly man.” “… And Elmo,” said the aide. The PM whipped her head around. “What do you mean, ‘and Elmo’?” “From Sesame Street?” said the second aide. “Yes. There’s also going to be a man dressed as Elmo.”
“Which one’s Elmo?” said the Prime Minister. “Not the one who lives in a bin? The green one?” “That’s Oscar The Grouch,” said the second aide. “No, Kermit’s the green one,” said the first aide. “That’s The Muppets,” said the second aide. “Sesame Street isn’t The Muppets. They’re totally different. Elmo is the red guy. You know – ELMO.” “Fucking, shut up a minute!” shouted the PM. “So I’m clear on this, Elmo from The Muppets… “Sesame Street.” “… Elmo from Sesame Street is standing against me as an alternative Member of Parliament in my constituency, at a time when I’m the Prime Minister of the country? Is the a fucking wind up? Am I on Ant and Dec’s Saturday... SHITTING HOUSE PARTY?” She tried to laugh but didn’t quite manage it. “I give up,” she said, throwing her hands up in mock resignation. “Is this because of what I said about the field of wheat? Is this character assignation because I’m not enough of a rebel?! I suppose if I’d said I’d eaten a bong at university everybody would think I’m cool like David and his rock and roll music, would they!?” At the count, the Prime Minister dutifully met the other candidates. It was worse than she feared. Lord Buckethead pressed her on his manifesto, especially the legalisation of the hunting of fox-hunters. Elmo repeatedly said, “tickle me.” Buckethead did a dab when it was announced he’d won 249 votes. She was sad when she won.
There you go, mate. Don’t forget to give me 5 stars, yeah? Unless you’ve been crushed to death back there. Ha!
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely fictitious
Photo casebook: The unfortunate world of Ian Beale
Kali Uchis / Yaeji / Goldie / Snapped Ankles / Eyedress / Philipp Gorbachev / End of The Road