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It’s midnight. I need help. Every other page on the magazine is finished except this one. Tom Connick keeps hurling a stress ball at the Xpress Radio studio window. We’re listening to the Warioland 1 soundtrack, eating cold pizza, and shouting at each other. Welcome to the dirty world of editor’s notes, and Quench by extension. This page - the first one you see - is the last dying cry of the magazine as it goes to print. If you want an insight into how a student publication is put together, it’s a bit like the opening to 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the apes learn how to use tools and start smashing things with bones. I thought I might be doing things wrong, so I’ve been observing the management styles other organisations employ. I used to work on a sales floor, and their time in meetings yelling at people and each other (because nothing sells ad space like misery), but I’ve found that nobody takes a dome-headed 5’6’’ man seriously. So how do I influence people in this miserable era? Browsing the internet, I’ve found that the consensus seems to be that I should take photographs of myself and upload them to Instagram, make “jokes” on Facebook, and ask people what the fox says. Alas, I have a piece of obsidian where my sense of humour should be, so instead, I’ve found the easiest way forward is to just put together a really good magazine. I’m doing my best, but mistakes are made; last month, three pages were rendered entirely unreadable by print errors, but nobody complained because we put Walter White on the front cover. There’s a lesson to be learned there (I think). I’ve never really seen the appeal of attempting to be all things to all men in an effort to please a few. My favourite people in the limelight weren’t born SEO ready; lord knows if Mark E. Smith grew up at the same time as me and had a blogspot profile, the only thing he would’ve been famous for is hurling abuse at everybody. If your defining characteristic is that you follow the crowd, and do what everybody else is doing, then you’ll be alienated the moment you find something
QUENCH EDITOR’S NOTE
you care about. (Unless it’s cat videos on YouTube, or whatever.) Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. What’s up? How are you? By the time you read this, I will have caught up on a sleep, and I’ll be quite chipper. Being serious, we’ve done our best to make this one of the best issues of Quench ever - and between exclusive interviews with some of the Doctor Who staff, some of the best writing this university has to offer in our features section, and some excellent coverage of the Cowbridge Food Festival, I think we’ve created a magazine which will appeal to everybody.
So how do I influence people in this miserable era? Apparently, take selfies and ask people what the fox says Speaking of festivals, our coverage of this year’s Swn festival is as good as it’s ever been. Thanks to the excellent Urban Tap House, we managed to get interviews with the majority of performing artists, so if you’re searching for something to listen to, type anybody who sounds interesting into Google and track them down. Swn stands head and shoulders above everything else on the Cardiff events calendar, so we’d like to extend our thanks to everybody who performed, organised and attended for making such an excellent event happen. Elsewhere in the magazine, LGBT+ have produced pages commemorate Trans*gender Day of Remembrance, Travel examine interrailing and budget friendly travel, and culture talk about Morrissey’s horrible autobiography. I’ve glanced through his book, and I can confirm that Morrissey is not a charming man. Video games have a review of Beyond: Two Souls (pictured above), which comes highly recommended
from me, having played through it in entirety just before Blockbuster went out of business. While the review of the game is lukewarm, I really liked it; it deviates from its spiritual predecessor, Heavy Rain, by being far less ridiculous (unfortunately, you cannot ‘press X to Jason’ in this one), although me and Matt Grimster have been butting heads over this all month, so you might disagree. I’d also like to give particular regard to Sophie Lodge, whose meteoric rise from ‘updating Mike’s twitter’ (something I don’t think she ever actually did) to my deputy editor is something of legends. However, while I’m dead proud of this issue, I’m equally proud of her; she’s taken to our production cycle like a duck to water, and I’ll bet you anything this magazine would be a lot worse without her. Shame about my twitter, though. Charlie Mock and Charlie Andrews have joined our team as online editors, who are leading the steady charge to modernise our website. There’s some really great stuff there, so I’ve sprinkled QR codes throughout the magazine linking people to some of our more active sections. You can find all the content in the magazine in a more shareable form at http://quenchmag.co.uk, so feel free to take a gander online if you want to accelerate the inevitable death of print. Just before I finish - Quench would like to offer congratulations to Xpress Radio, who won bronze in the best station category at this month’s Student Radio Awards, as well as best live event for their excellent coverage of the 2013 Swansea-Cardiff Varsity. We’re surrounded by really talented people in student media, and we’re honoured to share an office with the guys who bought you Cardiff Unplugged, The Detective, and a whole host of other great shows. Anyway, I think that’s everything - I can only fit in so many acknowledgements, and I’ve got a shedload of work to do, but thank you for reading this far. I hope you enjoy the magazine, and, as ever, you can find me on twitter or send me an email with my details on the next page - I’d love to know what you think. MOCD
@quenchculture · email@example.com Amy Pay Culture editor @YayAmyPay Sum Sze Tam Culture editor @sumtzenbumtzen
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@quenchmag · firstname.lastname@example.org Michael O’Connell-Davidson Editor @mikeocd Sophie Lodge Deputy Editor @splodge82 @quenchfeatures · email@example.com Andy Love Features editor @andyluvv Chloe May Features editor @chloejayne_ Hattie Miskin Features editor
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@quenchlgbt · firstname.lastname@example.org Suryatapa Mukherjee LGBT+ editor @sugaryDEMON Emrhys Pickup LGBT+ editor Helen Griffiths Columnist, deputy controller @ CUTV @_HelenGriffiths
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Jess Rayner Fashion editor @jessie_rayyy Jacqueline Kilikita Fashion editor @J_Kilikita Jordan Brewer Fashion Editor @JordanAffairs Sophie Falcon Fashion editor @sophiefalcon1
FOOD & DRINK
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Emilia Ignaciuk Food editor Dylan Elidyr Jenkins Food editor
@quenchtravel · email@example.com Emma Giles Travel editor @EmmaGiles94 Kathryn Lewis Travel editor @KathrynLewis92
@quenchgames · firstname.lastname@example.org Rhian Carruthers Video games editor @RoutineEnvelope Matt Grimster Video games editor @MattGrimster
FILM & TELEVISION
@quenchfilm · email@example.com Leanne Dixon Film and Television editor @LeanneDixon17 Oli Richards Film and television Editor @ORichards93 Daniel Rosser Film and television editor
@quenchmusic · firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Connick Music editor @ginandconnick Jimmy Dunne Music editor @GrimmyBumm Hannah Embleton-Smith Music editor @HEmbleton
Charlie Andrews, Jordan Brewer, Sarah Brunt, Rhian Carruthers, Tom Connick, Lizzy Clarke, Jimmy Dunne, Jacob Dirnhuber, Tom Eden, Emilia Ignaciuk, Chloe May (+ her excellent banana and chocolate cake) Charlie Mock, Jake Simkiss, all of whom went above and beyond the call of command, and were instrumental in bringing the magazine to print on deadline night, as well as Vidya Brainerd, Gair Rhydd Sport, Politics and Opinion, Andy Williams, Banter, Maximus Eshraghi, and Rowan Whittington. I’d like to take this moment to recognise Charlotte Wace’s contributions to the magazine, who exceeded my expectations at every opportunity. Char, you and your banner were the unsung heroes of freshers’ week, and we’ll miss having you in the office.
GIRL MEETS PORN
Aimee-Lee Abraham examines the myths of pornography and the impact the industry is having on society and the student psyche
This season, a housemate remarked, Channel 4 ‘has gone a bit mental with all the sex’. This is not coincidental; the broadcaster’s ‘campaign for real sex’ is well underway, with shows like Date My Pornstar and Diary of a Teenage Virgin dominating post-watershed airtime. Channel 4 is no stranger to controversy. It is loved and loathed in equal measure for its willingness to cover what other broadcasters, forever fearful of Ofcom complaints and media outcry, will not. According to the accompanying press release ‘The Campaign for Real Sex aims to reclaim sex from the airbrushed, surgically-enhanced, depilated, gymnastic fantasies and celebrate the joy of real sex’ through screenings of cutting-edge documentaries aimed at understanding ‘the kind of sex that is actually going on in Britain’s bedrooms’. The usage of the word ‘reclaim’ implies that something that once belonged to us has been wrongfully taken away, stolen by an industry manufacturing plastic pornography. Is this the case? Porn is sex documented and made publically accessible with the intention to arouse and excite. So, in the diverse sea of sexuality, what exactly are we trying to retrieve from the depths? Channel 4’s Sex Box, aired between the 10th and 15th of October (available on 4oD), is a particularly resonant and watch-worthy series, mainly because its premise is a questionable one. The show, designed as an entertaining and daring way to get real people talking about real sex, does just that by putting a couple in a box that resembles a modern-art interpretation of a Doctor Who prop. In the soundproofed, UV-lit confines of the box they have sex and emerge bright-eyed and bushy-tailed afterwards to discuss their actions in excruciating detail with a panel of sexperts eager to answer their questions. While the supposed sentiment behind the show is admirable, its success in unveiling any groundbreaking new truths about the birds and the bees is debatable. Most of the brave beings leaving the box remain surprisingly tight-lipped for people confident enough to have intercourse on national telly. They appear flushed and forlorn as Mariella Frostup probes them for dirt and deets. There are a few refreshingly frank revelations; couples admit that they were mere friends with benefits who fell for one another unexpectedly, one man admits that despite his herculean efforts, sex leaves him so exhausted that talking about it to the panel is quite a challenge. These anecdotes are valuable and mildly humorous but they do little to dispel the myths of porn, as they exist in a completely separate sphere of reality. Sex Box, uncomfortable to watch and arguably useless, is not making a powerful enough statement to counteract the grip porn has on the most vulnerable members of society.
These are the youth seeking sex education in a country following a syllabus so outdated that putting a condom on a banana while the teacher cringes in the corner is deemed adequate preparation for adulthood. It’s understandable then, that more and more young people are relying on porn to teach them what goes where or rather, as Caitlin Moran wrote in How To Be A Woman, “What could go where if you’re determined enough”. Our generation, those in their late teens and early twenties who experienced the emergence of the internet and all its wonders in our early-mid teens, are perhaps the guinea pigs of porn as it is now. Sprawling and endless and free, porn is no longer a luxury reserved for those daring enough to touch the top-shelf or go snooping for Daddy’s supply. Although porn has always been unrealistic and has never been innocent, the internet has accelerated the lack of realism and lack of innocence with unprecedented and unpredictable velocity. In the sterilized, edited underworld where the shaved, stripped and oil-slathered lurk, sex becomes a mere show. As with any form of entertainment, a critical eye is essential in resisting the temptation to fall for it. Porn is rarely just the documentation of two people doing it. If that were the case, would admitting to watching it remain such a cultural taboo? And would it remain so irresistible and intoxicating to so many? The reason that porn is still embarrassing to talk about despite its prevalence in society probably has a lot to do with the nature of the material consumed as opposed to the existence of the material in itself. Porn pushes boundaries. Porn delves into the deepest and darkest fantasies we conceal at all costs. That’s why indulgence usually occurs in a locked room with the music up loud. Outside of the world of pub banter, far from the hesitant admissions to a partner asking what you want, porn consumption remains one of the last taboos. What happens when this private habit becomes an obsession that spills over into all areas of one’s life? What happens when porn becomes a destructive force with the power to derail an education or a career or a relationship? Channel 4 has been seeking these answers through its television shows; perhaps we should all be sparing a moment to do the same as sexually active adults of the Facebook generation.
What happens when this private habit becomes an obsession that spills over into all areas of one’s life? In researching this article, I consulted online forums where those seeking help for porn related problems lurk. There are women in their twenties, at the peak of their sexual prime, who are experiencing relationship slumps stereotypically reserved for middle-aged marriages. The relationship is not fraught emotionally and the attraction remains outside of the bedroom but reliance on porn to relieve oneself has become the norm for their partners, rendering real sex almost impossible to sustain. Unable to compute how her supposedly besotted boyfriend would refuse to satisfy her but was able to orgasm several times a day whilst looking at other women on a screen, one user confided to fellow strangers that her body confidence and sense of self-worth plummeted to a devastating low that trapped her in a sexless relationship for several years. Friends of mine have confessed to similarly dire domestic scenarios in hushed room corners following too much gin. What makes things even more tragic is that the men involved in scenarios like this one are often plagued by confusion and self-loathing. This is incredibly damaging for the self-esteem of both involved, leaving women feeling unattractive and men inadequate. In Porn On The Brain, another of Channel 4’s projects in which an ex-editor of lad mag, Maxim, meets those directly affected by the material he once published, we are introduced to Callum. Callum is a university student who leads a seemingly normal life; he is young and attractive and his social habits are no different to yours or mine. But Callum has an addiction to porn so overwhelmingly strong that he describes the experience as a kind of personal hell he cannot escape. Decontextualized and alienated, it would be easy to misinterpret the subject matter and assume that Callum is talking about a drug addiction. When asked how he deals with the urges that consume him constantly, he talks of his attempts to get rid of his smartphone and computer in a bid to lessen his chances of accessing material in moments of desperation. The images, though, remain embedded in his consciousness and can be viewed at will whenever he wants. A screen is no longer required and public bathrooms have become a refuge. He looks mournful as he admits feelings of worthlessness and greed following the ecstatic rush masturbation provides but remains a slave to the industry. The only way to recover from a crash, in his opinion? “To do it all again”.
Porn’s danger lies in what it doesn’t show as well as what it does, in the things that porn spares no time for. All of these discarded pieces of narrative and missing puzzle pieces are directly leading to the creation of unsustainable, unattainable fantasy. Porn has no time for the clichéd post-coital cig reserved for the Don Drapers of the world. Porn has no time for pillow talk, no time to fumble around the duvet for a misplaced garment, no time for strained discussion about what it all means and where it’s all going. Porn stars never use condoms. The packet rustles and sounds horrible on camera, putting it on is a chore serving only to delay the act and shatter the illusion of spontaneity and everyone knows that bareback is best (or so the industry has taught us to believe). Porn stars never giggle or cry or say something they’ll later regret.
Porn stars never giggle, or cry, or say something they’ll later regret Surely these rituals are what make sex real? These moments are snapshots of the relationship shared, whether that relationship is purely carnal or deeply meaningful. We are lacking insights into the people behind the bodies. It’s easy to forget that it is somebody’s daughter you are watching being ejaculated on by a gang of men. The men doing the deed are sons and fathers and lovers and friends. Although we cannot expect the porn industry to focus on menial exterior plotlines (after all, who gets turned on by finding out family history, for example?), we can expect them to work harder to diversify and add realism. In the elimination of these factors and in the formulaic material that emerges when identical scenes of identical bodies at identical angles is produced to meet supply and demand levels comparable to factory farm targets, porn is selling us myths alongside our meat. This is why Channel 4’s usage of the word ‘reclaim’ is not as dramatic or drastic as it may initially appear. We are being robbed of reality. This is a student publication so context is called for. How does this apply to university life? Is porn having a negative impact on students? Callum’s addiction shows that people of all ages and backgrounds are not immune from porn addiction. However, it remains that most people who watch porn will watch it in moderation and will not become addicted in the same way, just as drinking socially or recreationally does not necessarily equate to alcoholism and a tendency to diet does not necessarily develop into an eating disorder. There are many social, psychological and physical factors involved. As porn addiction is only beginning to be acknowledged by psychiatrists and neuroscientists as a clinical problem, current research is in the toddler stage of development. What about the casual consumers? Nestled amongst the lesbian schoolgirls and domineering madams, a whole section of the industry is thriving off material submitted by university-goers willing to share intimate moments. The ‘college’ category is bursting at the seams with scenes of house parties gone wild and initiation ceremonies demonstrating how students really study together for their classes. Studying uniformly consists of bodies writhing amongst the spilt beer and filth on the floor as fully clothed frat boys look on with hungry eyes, shouting and stomping as if they’re cheering on a sports team. Punch bowls overflow, music booms, people chat in quiet corners while others touch
themselves on tables. It’s indistinguishable from most typical student parties. Except people are shagging everywhere and some partygoers are carrying on with their conversation as if nothing is happening. I’d love to know what they’re talking about; even the erect penis a mere thirty centimeters away from their faces isn’t enough to warrant a pause. Meanwhile, the bodies are akin to the furniture they are being bent over. They are just a part of the scenery. Shouldn’t we be worried about the implications surrounding the increasing popularity of material like this? Entire sites are popping up dedicated to the documentation of debauchery at university, with many offering cash rewards for the best submissions from amateurs. Such incentives could prove tempting when a loan simply won’t stretch far enough, with potentially devastating consequences. The parties shown in porn do not provide an accurate portrayal of sex at university. Or anywhere. Unless you’re into orgies and are well acquainted with that sort of thing. Sometimes student parties descend into madness and chandelier swinging as seen in the porn world. The vast majority will not. In student housing in particular, there will probably be a pressure to keep quiet. Screaming like a banshee is an option but you will be bullied for weeks over breakfast. Mistakes will come and go. A friend still treads on the breadcrumbs his mistake left strewn along the kitchen floor, over tea he tells me he curses her for inhabiting his shower and his thoughts. I have passed other people’s mistakes on the staircase and smiled awkwardly. I have found that sex at university is no different to sex at any other stage of life; it is diverse and it differs hugely from person to person. Being a student is just a component of an identity, as is sexuality. This is why college porn in particular can be dangerous in that it can contribute to the perception that university is an opportunity or excuse to have as much sex as possible with as many people as possible. Having lots of sex is not inherently a bad thing; we live in a democratic, liberal society and many would agree that consensual sex between two adults who are both equally aware of the consequences is something that belongs in the private sphere. Only those involved can decide what feels right and it is not our place to judge them regardless of our conflicting views. The problem lies in the assumed lack of consequences that accompany sexual freedom, alongside the pressure to compete with porn stars who are pushed to their absolute limits. There is a reason why many participating women feature in porn once and then leave. It is humiliating and degrading and off camera they are feeling humiliated and degraded. Jon Millward’s analysis of 10,000 porn stars and their careers, Deep Inside, produced fascinating demographical graphs portraying the true nature of the industry. An unsurprisingly high level of taboo sex acts were performed by female porn stars during their careers, with 87% of his 10,000 sample taking facials, 62% doing anal and an astonishing 39% being doubly penetrated. In normalizing such acts, porn is changing societal expectations regarding sexual behavior and developing a public appetite for what was previously deemed less appealing or commonplace. Consent and desire are once again paramount; such acts are not be condemned as long as those involved are happy with the situation. What is not okay is the likelihood that porn’s portrayal of such acts is forcing people to participate when they are uncomfortable out of fear of disappointment or a need to conform.
THE MODERN FAMILY
Chloe May discusses the rise of the ‘YouTube Family’ and questions whether you can really make a career out of filming your day-to-day life Home videos: every family has them. The thought of my parents deciding that in an interview with an Irish newspaper. He claimed that in the mainstream my rendition of ‘When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney’, aged six, was worthy of being posted on the internet is a bizarre one. An even more bizarre thought might be the prospect of thousands of viewers tuning in the following day to see what my six-year old self had been up to. We are living in a world obsessed with reality TV shows. There is an increasing demand for shows where the audiences witness ‘real’ people living out their lives and seeing how they change and develop as time passes. It is therefore no surprise that families can make an income from posting daily home videos of their lives on YouTube. Making a career from social media, or even YouTube, is not a new concept but earning a decent wage simply through documenting your day-to-day existence is a career that seems almost too good to be true. As I write this, I am checking the clock. At 6pm, Jonathan and Anna Saccone-Joly, a young Irish couple who post fifteen-minute snippets of their daily lives on their channel LeFloofTV, will be posting a video announcing the gender of their second child. The couple have already announced that they have taken a video of the moment the sonographer tells them the sex of their second child, which they will be sharing with all 250,000 of their subscribers. Their approach to sharing intimate and precious moments with so many people has been criticised in the past, particularly when they chose to film and upload the birth of their first child. Despite the film being taken in a very tasteful way (no blood or gore), the couple were criticised by an Irish newspaper for being ‘disgusting’ and were sent threatening messages by internet savages who claimed they hoped their baby was stillborn. It may be difficult to believe, but there have been many examples of internet trolls targeting their 13-month old daughter for being ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ and ‘slow’. Although the parents may be able to develop a thick skin, is this stream of constant criticism a suitable environment to raise a child? Jonathan Saccone-Joly commented on the relationship that a person who chooses to make a career out of YouTube, or ‘a YouTuber’, has with their audience
media, “the creator doesn’t feel the direct impact of the audience, whereas as a YouTuber you’re criticised for everything you do, you’re vulnerable in that sense’. Whilst looking through a selection of LeFloofTV’s videos, I came across a multitude of critical comments. One viewer claimed that because the family chose to document their lives, their audiences were free to judge and criticise them as much as they wished, in the same way that one would criticise a bad television show or a movie. The difference is that a movie director would never receive a torrid, unfiltered stream of abuse from a reviewer, claiming that the actress he hired was ugly. Whilst the criticism aimed at the family is obscene, critical comments are almost an accepted part of being on YouTube, particularly as your audience increases. Although they have a seemingly huge amount of subscribers, LeFloofTV is a relatively small channel when compared with the massive following boasted by the ‘Shaytards’ channel. With a massive 1.6 million subscribers, the Shaytards, or the Butler family, is arguably the driving force behind this massive surge of families choosing to document their lives, having reached celebrity status through posting videos of mundane day-to-day events as well as key moments in their lives over four years. They are also the brains behind a new documentary in production, entitled ‘I’m Vlogging Here’, which explores the lifestyle of those who choose to make a career out of YouTube. The Shaytards are probably the most distinct example of celebrity culture moving into the online world. Their viewers begin to admire and see the family as their role models, in the same way that people admire film stars and musicians. While researching for this article I stumbled across a blog dedicated to the Shaytard channel. One viewer claimed that the Butler family helped her through her depression and that they were ‘lifesavers’. Another discussed a difficult relationship with her mother and said that the female figures on the show felt like mother figures to her. The audience for these shows tends to be quite young, and
The couple were criticised by an Irish newspaper for being ‘disgusting’ and recieved messages from internet savages claiming they hoped their baby was stillborn
many of these vulnerable teenagers and young adults invest a lot of time and emotion in these families. Earlier this year, Charles Trippy, one half of ‘YouTube Couple’ CTFxC was diagnosed with a brain tumour, after struggling with seizures for over a year. He and his wife Alli decided to continue on with their daily vlogs and share everything from brain surgery to chemotherapy with their massive audience. In an interview Alli said they felt a duty to share this with their audience and claimed that they ‘had a responsibility towards these people who had become their family’. Despite criticisms that the couple secretly hoped that documenting Charles’s brain surgery live would boost their subscribers past the one million mark, the couple claimed that they were doing it to commend the hard work of the doctors and nurses that deal with this every day. Charles also confessed in one of the vlogs whilst he was in hospital, ‘I know I’m talking to hundreds of thousands of people here and it makes me feel a little better’. It is clear that it is not only the audience that feels an emotional attachment. Many of these YouTubers give an impression of welcoming viewers into their family every time they post a new video. By involving other people so intimately within your own lives there is a massive scope for celebrity culture. At a recent convention for YouTubers in Los Angeles, the Shaytards were welcomed to the stage with a roaring audience not dissimilar to that at a One Direction concert. But surely a celebrity lifestyle requires a celebrity wage? Making money from YouTube is not a new, nor a particularly complicated concept. As the number of subscribers increases, so does the creator’s potential earnings through the advertising revenue that Google, YouTube’s parent, creates on the site. Obviously gaining an audience takes time, but there are rumoured to be many six-figure salaries lurking amongst the amusing animal videos. This therefore creates conflict between the creator and their audience. How can you be seen to be the Everyman whilst making extraordinary amounts of money from your videos? Although YouTube has massive scope for creating a steady wage, the
consistency and reliability of using it as a career has to be questioned. As one viewer of LeFloofTv pointed out in the comments, the views on the SacconeJoly’s videos dropped dramatically a few months after their first baby was born, and since Anna announced her second pregnancy, the views have been gradually rising once again. But how long can this last? What happens if you decide you don’t want any more children? What happens if your children decide they don’t want their every waking moment to be documented? This is without even beginning on the safety issues. The internet is a bigger place than most of us would care to imagine and without any filter as to who can watch your content there are many risks for all of the family. The Shaytards have already announced that this year will be their last year as daily vloggers as they wish to focus more on the production of their documentary and no doubt they desire a break from constant documentation. With 100 hours of footage being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it is clear that the potential for creating a career out of YouTube is only going to get larger. As much as I admire these YouTubers’ creativity in earning a steady wage from simply existing, constant exposure of children to the internet through regular documentation is something, call me old fashioned, that is just wrong. However there is no denying the entertainment value of these programmes. Despite the fact that most television channels appear to be inundated with socalled ‘reality’ TV shows, these programmes provide more of a ‘real’ insight to somebody’s life than the scripted, frozen personalities on ‘Made in Chelsea’ and ‘The Only Way is Essex’. The official title of the programme run by Charles and Alli Trippy is ‘Internet Killed Television’, which seems to act as a premonition for the potential YouTube has as a genuine entertainment platform. Having watched a few of these vlogs in preparation for this article, I can vouch for the fact that, in the same way you care for your favourite characters on a TV show, you begin to care for these people because they are distinctly and definitely real. In a world of airbrushed Facebook profiles and edited photographs, I commend these families for creating raw and real entertainment in a world that is so lacking in it.
Making money from YouTube is not a new, nor a particularly complicated concept. As the number of subscribers increases, so does the creator’s potential earnings
WILL THEY GIVE YOU WINGS?
A promise of extra energy, concentration and heightened performance make energy drinks the perfect quick fix. Charlotte Lindsay discusses the risks of pumping yourself with drinks made with Britain’s most socially acceptable drug, caffeine
It appears the energy drink market has managed to exhibit its presence pretty much everywhere. When you can take your pick from half the aisle they occupy in Tesco, and even my nan isn’t a stranger to shooting what she calls ‘jäger-bombers’ it’s obvious how easily available energy-boosting products are. In 2006, the UK alone consumed 345 million litres of energy drinks. By 2012, this had risen to 630 million litres, proving the market for energy enhancing products is definitely on the up. Commercialised as a worldwide energizer, Red Bull dominates as leader of the energy drink market with 43% of the market sales. Their cans boast the ability to ‘Vitalise the Body and Mind’, luring consumers into purchasing their can of advantageous ingredients for a promising health benefit. So what’s actually in a can of Red Bull? Well, it’s a cocktail of caffeine, taurine, B-group vitamins, sucrose and glucose and alpine spring water. It all sounds relatively harmless, and it’s clear the world are obsessed with the buzz, so what are the consequences? High sugar, high caffeine energy drinks have gained a lot of bad press over the years. With the modern energy drink market being less than 20 years old, their long-term effects are not yet conclusive. Introduced to consumers with a larger dose of marketing than actual caffeine, the incredible growth of these products is unsurprising. However as an accumulation of death scares supposedly caused by energy drinks has gradually come to light, it’s becoming apparent that the honeymoon period could be coming to a close. Their main buzz-inducing ingredient, caffeine, is a stimulant that raises heart rate and blood pressure. It has been linked to cardiac arrest, seizures, insomnia and anxiety. Sure, this level of sincerity is usually the consequence of excess consumption, causing the ‘it wont happen to me’ mind-set. But the truth is, caffeine is a drug that pushes your body into an artificial high, followed by a crash, provoking a rollercoaster of highs and lows throughout the day as your body craves more. This, in many people, leads to addiction. Consequentially, excess consumption is the outcome of addiction, causing the severe health risks stated above. Caffeine is also a diuretic, so when energy drinks are used to create a jolt before sport, you could get seriously dehydrated.
A fellow student, Tim, suffered cardiac arrest after drinking too many vodka red bulls on a night out and was rushed to hospital at the age of 21 But what’s the difference between energy drinks and coffee? They can actually contain a similar amount of caffeine, and a cup of coffee a day is often linked to health benefits. The major difference, though, is their advertising. With names like ‘Monster’ and ‘Rockstar’ most energy drinks are made to appeal to people with a taste for danger. Many of their advertising campaigns are packed with high risk, high adrenaline sport directly targeting impressionable young men, and often children. They come in supersize cans made only for the brave, as well as the same contents being crammed into a hard-core, super-quick 60mlshot. Red Bull’s website suggests you drink their drinks ‘On the road, during lectures and study sessions, at work, while doing sports, playing video games or going out day or night’. So for teenage boys, it appears they should be drank pretty much constantly, making clear that they are Red Bull’s main target audience. These are the people, slightly stereotypically, that are most likely to go over the top and glug their products like water, can after can. Compare this to the sophisticated coffee market, where supposedly middle-
class, middle-aged women slowly sip the beverage over a catch up with an old friend. It’s clear that the quantity, purpose and speed at which caffeine is consumed are very different in the media. But we all know that the media and real life are two very different things. In reality, students are known for drinking cup after cup of coffee in a row if that gets you through a night of revision, and at the same time many ‘normal’ middle aged people are opting for energy drinks for a quicker fix than coffee in the mornings.
One 16-ounce can could contain 54 grams of sugar, the approximate equivalent of 14 teaspoons But caffeine isn’t the only ingredient in these drinks that boasts energy-creating properties. Taurine; an amino acid already found in our body and naturally in foods like meat, and B-vitamins, which are essential for the conversion of food energy, will both supposedly add to the rush. However there is little evidence to support this. Adding more B-vitamins won’t give you more energy when the body is already producing enough itself, and as with many of the other ingredients involved, taurine has little evidence of being much more than a fancy extra to fluff up the drink’s perceived nutritional value. Again, the image portrayed through advertising is not necessarily the reality. There is also a great lack of knowledge of the combined outcome of the other ingredients involved, both positive and negative. Apart from caffeine, energy drinks are packed with sugar, adding to the buzz. One 16-ounce can could contain 54 grams of sugar, the approximate equivalent of 14 teaspoons. Used inappropriately in large enough quantities, you can see how they can become pretty much obesity in a can. Further problems arise when mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Combining a stimulant and a depressant, such as alcohol, in one shot is going to cause obvious confusion for your body. Studies show that the addition of an energy drink to alcohol makes people feel less impaired than from alcohol consumption alone, leading to riskier behaviour such as drink driving. But when you can pick up a jäger bomb for 90p on a student night, it’s clear that the people that actually worry about these effects are few and far between. This is going to affect your heart rate, which while being sped up by the energy drink is simultaneously slowed down by the alcohol. A fellow student, Tim, suffered cardiac arrest after drinking too many vodka red bulls on a night out and was rushed to hospital. At the age of 21. It seems that the problem here is more in the media portrayal and the extremists than actual ingredients; people are encouraged to associate taking risks with energy drinks. With limited information into their long-term effects, combined with the constant scares that almost everything is bad for our health, at some point people just stop listening. It has to be noted that the death scares surrounding energy drinks so far have come about in conjunction with other underlying health issues that the individual may have had, not directly from the drink alone. The Food and Drug Administration has so far been unable to make a causal link between any of the energy drinks sold in Britain and the deaths in question, and if in the future they do, that drink will be ruled unsafe and withdrawn from the supermarket shelves. Until then, the risk of guzzling energy drinks in large quantities and mixing them with alcohol is something we should be aware of. Using them as a substitution to sleep or food is also likely to cause you problems, but as the evidence currently stands, the answer appears to be everything in moderation.
Danielle Wickham reports on Cardiff Surf Club’s recent successes at the BUCS Surf Championships and why surfing may just be the sport for you
‘Haven’t seen this time in a while’, I thought, clambering out of the surf lodge’s triple bunk bed at 6.30am on Friday morning. It was the opening day of the BUCS Surf championships, one of the biggest surf contests in Europe. The best thing about the contest is that it is a real eye-opener to competitive surfing, which has been previously overlooked in the sporting world. This year saw 348 competitors, along with hoards of other swell-seeking barrel-bandits, make the trek to take over the infamous Fistral Beach for a weekend of surf, a little bit of sunshine, and Sailors’ Nightclub. As the Cardiff convoy pulled into Fistral beach car park at stupid-o-clock on Friday morning, the tired grumbles and groans about overpriced car parking were silenced by the sight of perfect 6ft sets rolling in, groomed by a fresh offshore wind, which was luckily set to stick with us for the weekend. Everyone was eagerly pulling on wetsuits in no time and Team Cardiff was in the water within ten minutes, battling with hundreds of other student surfers, and the odd grumpy local, to catch some waves before their first heat. It was safe to say the swell was solid, and the Cardiff team was looking on top form for the contest. To be honest, I think everyone was just excited to surf in some clean water. If you’ve ever been to Porthcawl in South Wales you will understand that being able to see the surf board you are sat on is a real treat. By 9am, Round 1 of the Men’s competition had kicked off, with the first few heats already in the water. The day’s conditions provided an excellent contest platform, so without a doubt the judges were looking for some high-performance power surfing. The Cardiff boys seemed to tick all of the boxes, with most of the guys making it through to Round 2. Ollie White managed to fly the Cardiff flag the longest by breezing through to Round 3, until unfortunately getting knocked out by some solid competition from the likes of Falmouth and Welsh rivals Swansea Uni. However without a doubt, the standout of the day was the brave bloke who showed determination and commitment (or maybe he lost a bet) by surfing his heat wearing nothing but a pair of board shorts. With around 50 men’s heats, it felt like a long day waiting around for the woman’s heats to get underway. However, after spending the day fueling up on pasties, we were all pumped to get in the water. The standard of the girls contest was very mixed,
I can guarantee that surfing will make your life better. Any other surfer will say the same.
with some novices just in there having fun, thrown in amongst some real seasoned competitors who showed competence and flow on each of the waves they surfed. Alice Brown and Frankie Pioli both seamlessly sailed through to the next Round. Frankie in particular had a belter of a heat, scoring an 8.5 followed by a 9.0, which was the highest scoring wave of the day. Frankie continued to wave goodbye to the competition all the way through to the finals on Sunday, where she was the only Cardiff trooper still standing in the competition. Pioli battled through a tough final, and was placed fourth overall: a great result for Cardiff Uni. Despite most of the team spending much of the weekend’s contest on the bench, the bright side was that Mother Ocean was offering some tasty waves up and down the coast for us, which the pros, beginners and body-boarders alike could lap up. So the rest of the weekend was spent pulling on those wet sandy wetsuits and surfing some really great waves. The BUCS weekend was a really good way for everyone in the club to surf together and get to know each other both in and out of the water. I strongly encourage anyone to join the surf club at Cardiff, or at least just have a go if you’ve never surfed before, because I can guarantee, and any other surfer will say the same, that surfing makes your life better. The benefits of the sport are endless: getting a tan, building back and shoulder muscles without sweating it out in the gym, the buzz you get after every wave, and not to mention that a beer always tastes a million times better after a surf. So after an epic few days of sick waves and Spoons’ dinners, everyone was surfed out and it was time to say bye bye to Newquay for another year. Despite not achieving the best team result, we had some excellent individual performances at the contest that everyone was stoked about. While the weekend’s pumping waves certainly provided a perfect stage for the experienced surfers to showcase their talent to the crowd, the competition was also a fantastic opportunity for students of all abilities to experience a prestigious surf event, or even try surfing for the first time. The chilled vibe of the weekend attracts more and more student surfers each year purely for the experience, which I think is really positive in that more people want to get involved in the sport and be a part of that laid back, sometimes-sunny, beach-bum lifestyle we all love to live, dude.
TRANS*GENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE Members of the Cardiff University trans*community have come to commemorate Trans*gender Day of Remembrance, or TDoR. Here are a collection of anonymous pieces, written with the aim of fostering understanding of the event and the community at large REMEMBERING RITA HESTER In 1998, an African American trans*woman named Rita Hester was murdered at her home in Boston. Hester was a popular figure in the local community, and her brutal stabbing by an unidentified man prompted a huge outpouring of grief; that December, a candlelit vigil and a march were organised in her memory in her neighbourhood of Allston. She was far from the first person in the US to die as a result of trans*phobic violence and barely a week went by without news of another victim, but something about this particular tragedy moved the hearts of trans*gender and cisgender people alike. This was not to be the limit of Hester’s impact on the trans* rights movement. The next year, around the anniversary of her death, activists in San Francisco organised another memorial event dedicated to everyone who had lost their lives in trans*phobic attacks during the intervening year. This was the origin of the Trans*gender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). An annual opportunity to raise awareness of anti-trans* hate crime while honouring its victims, TDoR is observed around the world on November 20th, typically with evening vigils at which the names of the dead are read aloud by volunteers. The list, which is available online, is chilling in both its content and its sheer length. More than a decade after Rita Hester’s death, other trans*women of colour still make up a large proportion of those to be remembered, and like her, many of the victims are reported to be sex workers. These sections of the
trans*community are most vulnerable to the rampant, almost casual violence that leaves so many injured or dead each year. Trans*women, and other gender variant people who were designated male at birth, are targeted most frequently for a variety of reasons. They often find it difficult to ‘pass,’ i.e. to blend in as women without drawing attention for ‘looking trans*’. Trans*women are also more prevalent in the public consciousness than trans*men, with the former finding themselves the butt of endless mockery in mainstream media while the latter tend to go ignored. However trans*men, and other gender variant people who were designated female at birth, still end up on the receiving end of trans*phobic violence, albeit in smaller numbers. This year’s remembrance list includes Evon Young, a rapper from Milwaukee whose body was dumped in a skip by his killers. TDoR exists not only as a tribute to the dead of this and previous years, but also acts to highlight the attitudes that killed them. The individual murderers in each of these cases share responsibility with a wider culture of ignorance and prejudice against trans* people. The mindset of a comedian who invites audiences to laugh at the stereotype of a trans* sex worker with facial hair or a deep voice is not comparable to that of a client who beats and kills her, but it is easy to see how one dehumanising act prepares the ground for the other.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE TDoR is an opportune moment for trans*people to share their experiences and let you know exactly how the community would like to be treated. Obviously it does vary from person to person, but until you really know someone and they tell you otherwise, here are some good tips to follow to ensure you’re respecting everyone. One thing to remember is that trans*people are just that – people! Although there will no doubt be sensitivities surrounding certain topics of conversation, overall they are just like you or me. So treat trans*people as you would anyone else: with respect! Every trans* person takes a different transition path. Many may choose to live without any kind of medical or surgical intervention, this does not make them any less of a man/woman/other. Transition is not as simple as a ‘sex change operation’, so please refrain from using that term. You do not need to know how someone is transitioning, what surgeries they have or haven’t had unless they are happy to tell you. Many surgeries will
leave scars. If a trans*person decides to show you their surgery results do not pass negative comments about their scars. Scars fade, your words might not. If a trans*person discloses their trans*status to you then you must never tell someone else about it. A lot of people prefer to live without others knowing their medical history and it is not your place to tell other people about it. It is 100% up to the trans*person about who they tell and how much the tell them. You must respect their choices about who they tell. Outing someone can cause a lot of problems for the person, some of which you may have not realise. If you don’t know if someone knows, assume they don’t. If it comes to your attention that I am trans*then please don’t ask me what my ‘real’ name is. My real name is the name you use to address me on a day-to-day basis – what you are looking for is my previous name or birth name. If I decide to tell you what it is then you should never use it or talk to me about it unless I say it’s ok, if I
don’t tell you what it is then please respect that it is from a part of my life I don’t want to talk about. It is never ok to ask a trans*person about their genitals. Ever. You should not ask people what sex they were assigned at birth, what they currently have in their pants or any questions relation to their sexual organs. Think about a question before you ask it, if it was addressed to you and you think it would make you feel uncomfortable then it is never ok to ask someone else that question too. If you are unsure on what someone’s pronouns are then ask, do not just guess: people are happy to tell you their preferred pronouns. If you accidentally use a wrong pronoun, correct yourself, apologise and move on. Never argue with someone about what pronouns they use, or say that their pronouns aren’t real, or that they’re too hard for you to use. If you don’t know how to use someone’s pronouns, ask them how to. Pronouns are very important to many trans*people and using the correct ones makes a huge difference.
“As a woman I am sensual and sexy. As a man I am more... plain.” - Andrej Pejic (Non-binary model) Skinnies, shirt and jacket. Too masculine. Bit of eyeliner. Too feminine. Tie. Boots. Gelled hair. Necklace. I give up. Looking at yourself in the mirror and trying to see how the rest of the world will view you is something I face every morning. Having a non-female, nonmale person look back at me from that reflective frame and trying to fit every aspect and the overall enjambment into male or female is both painful and difficult for me. I get read as anything from a gay male, to a straight female; from a butch lesbian to a joke. I never get read as who I am; a non-binary trans*person. The way our society works is by putting everyone in boxes, whereas I just don’t have one. The majority of people think there are only two genders – male and female, but this is not the case. Non-binary identities include a whole range from a mix of male and female, to neither, to changing between them, to another gender entirely; the possibilities really are endless! While the percentage of people who do not identify as male or female all the time is incredibly small (<1%), should that mean these identities are forgotten about or ignored? I can assure you now there are people reading this thinking ‘this isn’t a real gender’. I can also assure you that I’ve had that thought plenty of times. I have tried my hardest to persuade myself I am male or female, to try and fit in with the stereotypes or ‘gender roles’ of either of those two genders. No matter how hard I have tried, I just cannot; I have learnt to accept that this is who I am. I have tried to change this, and so now I feel it is society’s turn. Society accepts the concept of atheists and asexuals, so why not accept those who are agender? People who are bisexual at least receive serious media representation, so are those who are bigender sidelined? When more
and more people are realising sexuality is fluid, why is it that gender is so rigidly defined? I read someone’s opinion once that said people need to know someone’s sex/gender to know if they can trust, respect or be attracted to said person, which makes me wonder why we can’t just be attracted to who we are attracted to, or why not identifying as one of the binary genders all the time would make us less respectable? However, my opinion on the matter is that non-binary identities are less accepted because of the very nature of our language and the way society has brought us up, as opposed to our rarity. Words we use in everyday life can be very gendered, for example: He. She. Girlfriend. Father. Actress. Policeman. However, I think with just a little effort we can stop gendering everything. They. Partner. Police officer. Thespian. This transformation of language and the way people perceive it has already begun with the feminist movement. Society no longer automatically assumes that doctors or mechanics are male, or that air stewards and nurses are female, and it is this sort of thinking that would help the non-binary acceptance movement progress tenfold. I would like to add that I’m not saying to always gender-neutralise terms for everybody - as this exacerbates the problem and undermines people who do identify as the gender binaries! But I just wish to raise the point that these words exist and thatw we should use them more; when you aren’t sure of someone’s gender; when talking about a population; when someone explicitly asks for these pronouns or terms. I feel like if we all just open our minds before our mouths, then together we can make a massive difference to people’s lives.
IN THE MEDIA ORANGE
IS THE NEW BLACK This TV series has made headlines with the number of boundaries it has pushed in the tv world. Suryatapa Mukherjee I watched the entire first season of Orange is the New Black in a couple of days. And I have to say, I’m impressed. It does a very good job of representing women, women of colour, transwomen and women of varying sexual orientations. That, right there, is quite impressive for any single show to successfully handle. When the season starts off, it could have easily flown into the usual storyline of lesbian relationships being portrayed as sexual deviancy. Piper Chapman could easily have become the ‘nice, blond lady’ who had a ‘lost-soul, post-college, adventure phase’ with a dangerous drug-importing lesbian who ultimately led her into trouble. But it does not. After she comes into prison, gay people continue looking menacing for a little while - as Chapman is stalked and wooed by Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ - but so do straight people. There is Joe Caputo, the prison counselor, who masturbates in his office and crushes on a much younger correctional officer. There is ‘Pornstache’ Mendez who sexually harasses prison inmates every chance he gets. The characters become multi-layered and complicated,
and so do their relationships - same-sex or otherwise. There are people who make homophobic and transphobic statements, but those are not given much credit. The homosexual, and transgendered characters are made, if not always likeable, at least definitely understandable. They are not stereotyped, unnecessarily dramatized, or used for comic relief. In spite of being constantly labelled ‘lesbian,’ ‘exlesbian’ and ‘straight,’ Piper never once identifies with any of them. When her best friend says that she might turn gay again, she says, “You don’t just turn gay, you fall somewhere on a spectrum, like a Kinsey scale.” Some might argue that it leads to bi-erasure, as bisexuality is never discussed, but I’d give it time. It looks like Chapman is finding herself - and as many of us bisexuals know, that takes some time. Piper’s heterosexual relationship is sometimes directly pitted against her homosexual one - both on a physical and an emotional plane - and the second never comes off as lesser than the first. The show’s transgendered character is played by a transgendered actor - impressive, again. It is highly
commendable how the show depicts her journey, leaving little room for stereotyping. Her relationship with her wife is very complicated and refreshing. They do not stop being a couple even after Burset decides to transition her son is not as understanding, clearly hating her for it. When, due to budget cuts, her exogenous estrogen dosage is reduced, she goes to great lengths for help; “If I don’t get my medication, I’m going through withdrawal - hot flashes, night sweats, my face will sag, my body hair will start to grow back... I have given five years, eighty-five hundred dollars and my freedom for this... I can’t go back.” No one understands. She says that she wants to see a doctor, saying, “This is an emergency.” The reply comes, “Ya, well, we don’t see it that way.” It portrays how transitioning is viewed as a luxury, an option - rather than a necessity. Sophia Burset nicely expresses how much of a necessity it really is. It makes the viewers root for her, be hopeful that she’ll get her estrogen dosage, disliking each person who turns her down. It makes the viewers understand. And that is where OITNB really wins: It makes you understand.
Jack Oakley talks about the trans* character in Waterloo Road and where the BBC went horribly wrong I am going to admit to one of my guilty pleasures, and please try not to judge! I watch Waterloo Road. This school-based drama has been on the BBC since 2006, has won numerous awards and enjoys a viewership of approximately 5 million. Over the years, the show has covered many difficult issues, but when they revealed earlier this year that one of their characters was trans*, I must admit I got very excited; after all this is the BBC and with its large viewership this storyline could have a great impact upon people and their understanding of trans* issues. This was to be the second time they followed the story of a trans* child, but hopefully this time they would do it correctly. The story followed Kacey, who came out as Robbie, a transgender student transitioning from female to male. The BBC did a
reasonable job of showing some of the difficulties faced by a trans* person during the early stages of coming out - from the difficulties with family, through to bullying from some of the more ignorant members of the school.
They have implied that being trans* is a phase, and is something that can be beaten out of a person However, the staff were very supportive, and at first it seemed the BBC may have cracked it and shown the public an insight into the life of a trans* schoolchild. My hopes were so high for this storyline, but then the BBC blew it, and managed to do it in such a spectacularly damaging way it left
me very angry. Robbie eventually decides that they are not actually trans*, and that it was all a mistake. This didn’t annoy me as much as you would think: after all, gender identity can be a very confusing twhing for a lot of people, particularly when they are young. What really did annoy me was how this change of heart came about. Robbie is attacked and beaten up, suddenly bringing on the “realisation” that they are actually a girl after all. This is such a dangerous approach, and I hope the BBC realise exactly what they have done. They have implied that being trans* is a phase, and is something that can be beaten out of a person. This is of course complete nonsense, and instead of the storyline encouraging trans* understanding and inclusion, it has given its viewers dangerous ideas, and if even one viewer takes it onboard then the
BBC will be responsible for adding to the already horrific number of transphobic attacks that take place all over the country.
Gender identity can be a very confusing thing for a lot of people, particularly when they are young. I will admit, I had always expected better of the BBC, and thought that they would encourage education and understanding of one of the most persecuted groups in society. But no, they would rather stir up further misunderstanding and potentially, even violence. Unacceptable behaviour, BBC.
STEPHEN FRY: OUT THERE Sophie Lodge reviews Stephen Fry’s documentary on the status of LGBT+ people around the world, while also reflecting on their lives here in the UK. Stephen Fry has always been a prominent speaker in the LGBT+ community; but this year, he explored more than just British homosexuality by creating a two part documentary on the persecution of the gay community around the world, speaking to both the victims of homophobic crimes and the politicians seeking to enforce homophobic laws again them. The overarching theme within the series is the ridiculousness of homophobia. From a grandmother in India who didn’t care if her grandson had a relationship with a man or a woman as long as they came from a good background, to the haunting story of a fourteen year old Ugandan girl who was raped to show her ‘how to be with men’ - and consequently became pregnant and contracted HIV. It emphasises the unprovoked and terrifying attacks many members of the gay community have had to suffer, and the ignorance of those in power, who are in some cases helping this persecution. The laws in Russia, for example, which make it impossible for young gay teenagers to seek any help or guidance in regards to their sexuality. What resonated with me was Fry’s comment that many nations present the gay community as ‘sub-human’; I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between this and the persecution of the Jews in the 1930s and 40s. Many homophobes that Fry interviews (most of whom are in powerful positions within their community) see the gay community as a threat that will take over society; that the gay community are trying to ‘recruit’, but
Out There demonstrates how harmless and human these communities are. They have families, children, and lives that have been destroyed by homophobic crimes. This is important not only for those watching overseas who may ignore their own country’s homophobia, but also for us in the UK to see that victims of homophobic crimes are not faceless anomalies. As Fry states, here in the UK we may have accepted the LGBT+ community in terms of legal rights, but it is society’s opinion that now needs to change. Research by Galop in August 2013 found that 98 homophobic and transphobic crimes are reported each week in the UK, and this figure is doubled if you count crimes that haven’t been reported. If this is the case in a developed, liberal, modern society like ours where homosexuality is legal, it is terrifying to think of the conditions LGBT+ members across the world have to live in. There were even countries the BBC were advised against filming in. It is shocking to think that the cases Fry examines are not the most extreme examples. In an interview with the BBC after filming Out There, Fry asks, “Why do we take time off from what is already a difficult business, that of survival, to group together to pick on, bully and marginalise people who can do us no harm?” This is in essence how many people feel about homophobia, and hopefully Out There may encourage people to support gay rights more openly.
SPEAKING TRANS* With the advent of social media, everybody can simultaneously produce and consume media. Lubna Anani looks at how this has helped trans* people represent themselves and reach out to each other through YouTube.
Teenagers struggling with their sexual orientation often find solace watching shows like The L Word and Queer as Folk which, while flawed artistically, present a range of different storylines dealing with real social issues in the gay community. Transgendered people, however, often have a harder time finding resources with hardly any trans* visibility in the media. Luckily, gone are the days of watching Oprah specials and dodgy documentaries featuring middle-aged men who – with a sudden dislike of all things virile – abandon their sports in favour of their wives’ closets. Trans* people across the gender spectrum have taken matters into their own hands, using YouTube to document their transitional journeys and talk about the serious issues neglected by the media. With thousands of videos posted
from around the world, transgendered YouTubers have formed a strong, niche group among the growing community of vloggers. In this manner, they often feel like a conversation between intimate friends, casual and unscripted. Topics discussed range from serious heartfelt commentary such as coming-out stories and dealing with feelings of suicide and discomfort, to lighter subjects such as makeup and haircuts. It is essentially a safe space where trans* people are given carte blanche to discuss anything. One of the most popular of those content creators is Skylar Kergil (username skylarkeleven). Kergil began posting videos on his channel in early 2009, as a way to document his medical transition from female to male (F.T.M). His first video, taken the same day he was injected with his first testosterone shot, shows the ecstatic teenager talking about the experience. “This morning I injected testosterone into my body. So today is my first day being born, I guess,” he enthuses. “I’m an Obama baby!” Later videos document his physical and emotional changes on testosterone therapy over four years, his voice sounding considerably lower in each video, his facial hair growing and his body becoming more muscular, culminating in “top surgery” and a hysterectomy. But more importantly,
it is the emotional journey that is clear. In a 2010 video entitled “it gets better!”, he offers hope and support to viewers in similar situations to his, saying, “Today I feel like I’m on top of the world...and my soul is so happy…Just know that it gets better.” On the other end of the spectrum is Julie Vu (username: princessjoules), a makeup artist and aspiring model whose videos on YouTube have garnered her over 92,000 subscribers. Vu began posting videos on YouTube three years ago, revolving mainly around makeup tutorials, comedy sketches, and time spent bonding with her little sister. But it wasn’t until a year later that she came out publicly as transgendered (M.T.F). In a video entitled “Transgender”, she declared, “I’m coming out to all of you as a transgendered person…I see myself as a girl inside. I was born physically male but I am one hundred per cent female on the inside.” Announcing her plans to start transitioning to a female, Vu began posting videos on the effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on her body, as well as other updates, among the most popular being “Being a girl”, “My first bikini!”, and “Lingerie Haul!”, depicting milestones for many girls growing up. Exuding confidence and femininity, Vu also uses her platform to focus on changing
others’ perceptions of transgendered people, and, by extension, avidly talks about sexism and violence against women. The multitude of trans-related videos available on YouTube are not only a resource of useful information and personal experiences, but have brought together an active online community made up of thousands of people supporting each other in their transitions. This support extends beyond words to include action. Trans* YouTubers such as emqism and uppercaseCHASE1, who looked to get expensive transgender surgery but did not have the means to pay for it, have set up fundraising accounts. The outpouring of generosity from people held testament to the power and influence of online communities. Traditional media is no longer the dominant dictator of how minority people are represented to society. This is especially true for trans* people, who have dealt with both negligence and distorted representations by the media. Nowadays, one only has to google the word ‘transgender’ and an endless list of YouTube videos will appear. Through putting their privacy aside and documenting their transitional journeys online, trans* people exemplify the endless possibilities available for one to lead a happy life, however they identify.
LIFESTYLE COLUMNIST C O L U M N
R O A D
with Helen Griffiths
seriously. And why not? You can do everything online these days, so why shouldn’t that stretch to dating? I’ve personally never felt any desire to dive into the world of matchmaking sites, but a few of my friends have ventured there. It’s actually worked out rather well for one or two of them. One friend, for example, went on a couple of dates with a guy she met through online dating and ended up seeing him for a really long time. So I don’t know, maybe they’re on to something. Just to take it one step further, the popularity of dating apps is also spreading like wildfire. Yep, you read that correctly, DATING APPS because, of course, there is now an app for EVERYTHING. You may have heard of the likes of Tinder and Grindr – if not, as far as I can gather, they work on the basis of flicking through images of guys/girls and selecting the ones that catch your interest as you go. Kind of like a dating version of Instagram, except that selfies are encouraged rather than frowned upon! Again, I know people who have gleaned actual dates from interaction on these apps. There’s one for the grandkids, eh? “He liked my Tinder profile, and the rest was history”. And they say romance is dead.
Of Mice and Men A funny thing happened when I was planning this column. Before I launch into storytime, you’re going to need a bit of background info. I do a show on Xpress Radio with Beth Lyons, which we’ve punnily dubbed “The Lyon, the Griff and the Wardrobe”. In the run-up to our first show, Beth and our producer, Kayleigh, made it known that they were planning a “secret feature” which I was to know nothing about. Sounds ominous, right? It gets worse.
You can do everything online these days. why shouldn’t that stretch to dating? I’d been toying with the idea of writing a piece on the relationship between dating and digital media for a while, so when Beth and Kayleigh revealed live on air that they had, to my dismay, created an online dating profile with my name and photo, the matter was settled. I’d always known that this “secret feature” was bound to be something hideously embarrassing; my lovely co-host and producer had been plotting and sniggering to themselves for a good couple of weeks. But I wasn’t expecting this. I mean, there’s no denying that it’s a cracking idea for a radio feature, but bloody hell. I don’t think I’ve ever cringed so much in my life. They really went all-out with the profile, too – I’m still having nightmares over the “about me” section. It was riddled with Game of Thrones and Great British Bake Off references - which, fair play, are two of my favourite shows, but that doesn’t mean I want to be described as a “hybrid between Danaerys and Mary Berry”! I believe this fake online me also stated that her dream would be to open a “zoo-café”, so that she could merge her love of dragons and baking. Can’t argue with that logic. Needless to say, I was at a complete loss as to how there could be ANY replies. But a few poor souls did indeed respond, thinking that this profile was genuine, which (despite the fact that it made me question their sanity) was rather flattering. It turns out A LOT of people take online dating
If I want to make myself more attractive to the opposite
All of this almost makes the humble art of texting seem outdated, but I think we can still agree that it very much has its part to play. I think it’s interesting that texting has become such an integral step in flirtatious interaction; who hasn’t, at some point, questioned a friend about a romantic interest and received the reply “well, we’ve been texting quite a lot…”? That’s usually the cue for excited “ooooh”s from any listening parties. Plus, with both texting and Facebook chat comes the (digital) age-old dilemma of deciding how many ‘x’s to send/interpreting how many you’ve been sent. Not to mention the virtual minefield of generally trying to work out how messages are meant to be taken – was that sarcastic? Wasn’t it? It’s so hard to tell from behind a screen and keyboard! Misinterpretation can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings, and then things just get awkward when you have to try to explain what you meant. “The best laid plans of mice and men”, eh? (I wanted to shoehorn that one in somehow… mouse, computer mouse, get it?). Another peril (well, more of a faff really) of the digital age is that having so many different mediums through which you can potentially contact someone can get really confusing! There’s a bit in the modernclassic chick flick He’s Just Not That Into You where Drew Barrymore’s character is talking about a guy who left her a voicemail, whom she then phoned back, then he e-mailed to her Blackberry so she then texted him… and it all gets a bit out of hand really, until finally she cracks and says “I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine!” I feel your pain, Drew, I do. Of course, that film was released a good four years ago, and these days we have even more mediums to consider – before now, I’ve had simultaneous conversations with THE SAME person via text, Whatsapp and Snapchat. As Drew concludes, “it’s exhausting”.
Whether it is small pendants, or oversized totes; accessories can Charlie Mock has been scouring the highstreet for your accessory essentails
1. Vintage style Knot earrings Though this pair is from Topshop, you’ll be sure to find similar earrings in all high street stores. The simple style goes with everything and can be used to dress up or down! 2. Croc Print Doc Martens Everyone needs a pair of Doc Martens in their wardrobe. Hardwearing and incredibly comfy, they are very versatile and look great with a cute pair of lace socks. 3. Casio Digital Watch We all love the 90s, let’s admit it. So why not add a bit of your favourite decade to your daily outfits. It’s black, it goes with everything, you can’t go wrong. Available in Urban Outfitters and Argos.
4. statement necklace Perfect for nights out and an easy way to add a bit of colour to an otherwise
5. Medicine Bag As winter draws ever nearer, we’re making the move from our lightweight summer bags to a heavier, darker number. Top of the list for us is a good old medicine bag. Topshop have a lovely collection (pictured bag is £40) but search around Cardiff Fashion Quarter and you’ll be sure to find a second-hand one with a bit of character. 6. eagle Ring It’s all about rings. Rings with everything. This cute little eagle ring is from Topshop and is a great way to jazz up your
hands. 7. skull Midi Ring We said it’s all about rings didn’t we? So why not cram on as many as possible with a midi ring or two. River Island’s selection is wide and moderately priced. 8. suede tassel Boots It’s time to purchase a pair of winter boots. Don’t be afraid of suede! Get a good shoe protector from Clarke’s or the like and your new friends will stay intact. 9. Michael Kors Watch Who doesn’t love an indulgent accessory? There’s nothing better to splash out on than a reliable (and incredibly beautiful) watch. Though
pricey (Micheal Kors watches start at £170), you can guarantee that you’ll wear it to the very end. 10. stegosaurus Ring If you’re looking for something that’s a little different then take a trip down to H&M. Cheap and cheerful (mostly), with a bit of a twist on what you’ll find in the other high street stores. 11. Vintage Chains Search around the charity shops and you’ll undoubtedly come across some treasures. These gold chains came to a total of £5 from Oxfam and are perfect with a patterned collar.
Fashion on the go: @QuenchFashion
As winter draws near, the latest fashion trends have been looking towards the wild and windy Highlands for inspiration. Whether you wear it prim and proper or punk pretty, tartan has become one of the most versatile and dramatic looks to surface recently. One of the most prominent takes on the tartan trend draws influence from gritty skinhead classic This Is England, mixing traditional checks with androgynous silhouettes, washed-out denim, and, of course, a trusty pair of well-worn Doc Martens. Style spots include cut up checked crop tops, tight tartan pencil skirts and chequered dungarees dresses paired with ripped fishnets. As well as this, the trend looks back to the prim pleats of the past, matching perfectly pressed tartan skirts and fitted, cropped jackets with bold and brash gold accessories to add some
impact and originality to the look. Pushing the look forward into the future, we also see the Club Kid spin on the tartan trend, taking classic patterns and transforming them with clashing neon colours and bright, bold embellishment. One of the best high street interpretations of this look has to be Topshop’s sequin check pencil skirt, a dazzling display of contrasting blue, orange and silver checks that dramatically encapsulates this futuristic take on tartan. Emerging tartan accessories appear to draw upon the innocence of childhood, reminiscent of schoolgirl scrunchies and Rupert the Bear’s yellow checked scarf. However it is worn, this new chequered trend provides a diverse and dramatic approach to wintry textiles, so wrap up warm and walk into winter.
TREND WATCH: TARTAN
MOVEMBER November is a month of optimism. Halloween is done and Christmas is weeks away, but more importantly, it’s Movember. To the uninitiated, Movember is, in their words, ‘responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches… to raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health’. Movember is a fantastic way to raise money for an important cause, but the stark reality is that some people grow crap facial hair. I would know; I’m one of them.
Every morning of this month, men up and down the country will be staring intently into the bathroom mirror, willing their moustache to blossom into a glorious mo’ to rival Tom Sellick, Ron Burgundy or Charles Bronson. However, many of us end up regressing back into 14 year old boys who haven’t learnt how to shave. But fear not, as the Movember movement grows year on year (unlike my facial hair), there are now a host of options for the facial-follickly-challenged amongst us. Moustache
grooming kits are available from the Movember website (http://uk.movember.com) that will provide you with a comb, scissors and wax. The comb is important to help straighten out the hair and prevent it from curling, making it look longer and more prominent. An added positive is that there’s something inherently masculine about pulling out a comb and sorting out your moustache as you walk down the street. The use of wax will only really help towards the end of the month when it comes to styling your mo’.
Alternatively, using mascara on your budding stubble will help it look thicker and more impressive, although it’s not as advisable to be seen applying it in public. For those blessed with thick luscious facial fur, Movember is yours for the taking. You are our role models, so make sure you sign on the Movember website and upload photos of imaginative facial hair designs. Extra bonuses for anyone willing to sport a handlebar moustache for the month. Conor Brown
Should Sex Sell?
FaShion iS about Freedom and the choice to wear what we want; we Shouldn’t be conStrained by other people’S viewS Via anne porter The sexualisation of fashion has become an issue of great debate recently. I see it as a positive thing, as we can interpret fashion in any way that we want to. As a nation, Britain loves sex. So now that our fashion industry is becoming more sexualised, why are people so shocked? Fashion is about freedom and the choice to wear what we want, and what we feel good in. Surely we shouldn’t be constrained by other people’s views on our own fashion tastes? It’s fair to say, us Brits love to dabble in sexualised fashion tastes. From underwear as outerwear (as long you’re wearing actual clothes - looking at you,
Miley Cyrus), to leather, PVC, and thigh-high boots that Puss in Boots would be proud of. Of course, some countries do not allow for such provocative tastes to be a part of the fashion industry. For some, the burka or niqab, amongst other religious dress, are everyday clothes. While some women embrace the fact that they must wear such dress, others feel resentment. We should be able to utilise our freedom to dress as we choose. Our tastes in fashion are often influenced by feeling attractive. We wear what makes us feel good, or what allows us to create a certain impression about ourselves.
If fashion is sexualised, then surely this will give us more confidence as individuals. Our fashion industry thrives on providing us with the choice to personalise our own style (that said, Primark seems to do a roaring trade among students, making many of us look very similar). Arguably, we could be worrying over nothing here. According to the British Fashion Council, the fashion industry is worth £21 billion, so surely there are bigger things to worry about than how sexualised our fashion industry is becoming. Saving our country from its current debt might be a good place to start – so let’s go shopping.
liFeStyle FaShion & beauty Fashion is undeniably becoming more sexualised. With hemlines getting shorter and necklines getting lower, there seems to be a growing desire to flash the flesh. Is this new fad a confidence boost or is it promoting a warped and unrealistic image of beauty? Anne Porter and Olivia Thomas discuss the trend that has taken the fashion industry by storm.
there’S SomethinG Sad in the current belieF that barinG SKin iS the only way to looK beautiFul Via olivia thomas Crop tops, hot pants and bralets – without a doubt the past summer has been one of flesh-baring fashion. Sexualisation is everywhere in the fashion industry and although this issue isn’t a new one, it is growing more prominent, with barely dressed women splashed across every billboard and magazine cover, as marketers try to convince women and young girls that this is beauty. Without going on a feminist rant, there is certainly something sad in the current belief that baring skin is the only way to look beautiful. But what’s the big deal? Well, surely how women are viewed by men, and how they view
themselves, is pretty important? The fashion industry and media exert immense pressure on women to try and conform to what they define as “beautiful” or “fashionable” – regardless of whether this involves throwing decency and modesty out of the window. With trendsetters like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna battling to see who can wear the least, girls are being fed distorted images of what is actually fashionable. Miley Cyrus’ recent attempt at conveying a “bad girl” image through poor outfit choices and near nudity is a perfect example of how the fashion (and music) industry is based more around
sexual attractiveness and raunchy outfits than actual talent. But Miley isn’t the only culprit of smothering her talent in trashy outfits and bad hairstyles. In her new music video Pour It Up, Rihanna rocks a particularly revealing diamond bra and denim thong whilst “twerking” to a backdrop of strippers and pole dancers. Beautiful as she is, Rihanna, as with so many other celebs and models, has allowed her image to become centred solely on sex appeal. The bottom line is: women need a reminder that less isn’t always more and that fashion is about the clothes, not wearing as little as is legally possible.
The year of the Buffalo It comes as no surprise that the majority of students have to shop with a restricted budget, but that does not mean our style has to be at a loss. Buffalo Boutique to revamp their style. Out with the old and in with the vintage… Quench Fashion spoke to Kay Russant of Buffalo Boutique about smart tailoring, independent brands and the Cardiff fashion community.
Firstly, Kay, tell me a little bit about yourself? I do a bit of freelance marketing in events for fashion in Cardiff. I’ve done stuff for Cardiff Fashion Week and Cardiff Fashion Quarter. But I’ve done loads of bits and pieces; working with Buffalo Boutique we’ve worked with Puma, UO and Topshop – just advertising their brands and bringing it to students I guess. What was your reason behind starting Buffalo Boutique? We wanted to offer a late night shopping event where you could come to socialise, drink and find a bargain. We encourage our sellers to keep prices low and suggest stock ideas so that they can tailor
to current trends. We also wanted to give new brands a chance to get themselves out there too! How do you find the designers and stall holders who showcase at Buffalo Boutique? (Do you scout them, or do they come to you?) It’s a mix, we get a lot of people emailing us after coming to a previous event, or a friend suggesting it to them. I spend a lot of time scouring Etsy, ASOS marketplace and facebook looking for new designers or vintage sellers to refresh stock every month and keep building the BB network. It is very difficult to succeed as an independent shop, especially with
corporate shops still smothering the high street. However, there have been signs of independent labels becoming popular. What is the future for independent shops, in your view? Independent shopping has been very popular recently, with shoppers desperate to find something unique and different. The bigger shops are also trying to get a slice of this market, with Urban Outfitters having their own vintage (renewal) range, and Topshop has also been opening their doors to new independent brands in their concessions. Being an independent is all about community and working together; we all club together to help each other out and to get as many people involved to help spread the word. That’s what makes things like
LIFESTYLE FASHION & BEAUTY BS8 in Bristol and Cardiff Fashion Quarter in Cardiff successful. How do you think Buffalo Boutique has helped to showcase aspiring designers and stalls? (giving them publicity, networking, etc?) I’d like to think that we have given them a platform to introduce themselves to the Cardiff fashion community. We get a lot of bloggers at the event who we encourage to talk to our sellers and to get involved, as well as all the shoppers who are desperate for something new. We promote everything online too, which has been really helpful with some of our custom sellers like Mati Stuff, who does most of their work online.
Are there any independent brands we should keep an eye out for next year? I love These Folk, who do fun t-shirt prints with cats, beards and Mean Girls quotes. They have expanded to crops for the summer and hoodies for the fall; we’re super excited to see what’s going to come next from them. I should also mention that we have some amazing artists who sell prints too, including Reunited Designs who do intricate patterns and bespoke designs. What do you think about Cardiff fashion; what is the statement Welsh style? I think the preppy style is quite Welsh, I’ve got my dungaree dresses and can’t get enough of it. A
lot of girls have beautifully collared shirts and the structured tailoring is very nice ‘Cardiff’ fashion. What lies ahead for BB? Any events we should pencil into our diaries? The next event is on the 2nd December which will be a Movember special, with a focus on menswear (as well as all the usual ace stalls for us girls!). The last one of the year is on the 9th December, where you will be able to pick up tons of great Christmas gift ideas for £20 or less.
CUTV covered the event for ‘Dressing the ‘Diff’ check out their YouTube channel: CardiffUnionTV
Make sure to check out their next event: 2nd December at Buffalo Bar
BeautySpot Make up trends have changed and developed somewhat over the years. Quench Fashion contributor, Kirsty Fardell takes you on a tour of two of the most prominent decades of the century..
Make up in the 1960’s was all about the dramatic eye. A strongly defined eye on both the upper and lower lid with a feline flick was essential, with Twiggy making the darkened eyelid crease fashionable. False lashes became an important accessory for both top and bottom lashes and white eyeliner was used on the waterline to make eyes appear larger. Eye shadows were always matte, often with white used on the upper lid to contrast the dark crease line which was never blended. Lips were kept very pale in beige-pink nudes, corals and peaches, which matched a pale blush on the cheeks. Again, they were all made matte much like the eye shadows. Brows ranged from a strong and defined brow like Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor, to a thin, softer one like Twiggy or Brigitte Bardot.
GET THE LOOK Eylure Katy Perry ‘Oh My’ False Lashes £5.95 Boots
Rimmel Exaggerate Liner, £5.29 Boots
Revlon Matte Nude Attitude, £7.49 Superdrug
Today these looks are still used but with a more updated method. Lana Del Rey is almost always wearing a 60’s inspired look with a nude lip and dramatically lined eyes, but the dark crease line has been updated by using a dark eye shadow which is heavily blended, so the definition is still there but appears more subtle. Katy Perry is often wearing heavy eyeliner on her top lid with a perfect flick in the outer corner as well as voluptuous false lashes, but chooses bold shimmery eye shadow colours over the matte look to contrast her eye colour. The bold brow has taken off recently with help from Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora, and white eye liner is still used on the water line to widen the eye. A lot of people still favour a paler lip colour, but a pillar box red has become a lot of celebrities’ statement look.
LIFESTYLE FASHION & BEAUTY
Whilst we were running around in tragic skirt / trouser combos with our hair in pig tails, our older siblings were embracing the grunge music and fashion of the 90s much to our envy. The crossover of music and fashion has meant that both still live on today - it doesn’t take long to notice someone wearing a checked shirt in lots of eye liner or for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to dominate a dance floor. The patrons of this look were celebrities like Courtney Love and Alanis Morrissette who pioneered the ‘heroin chic’ look. The look involved using smudgy black eye make up to make the eyes appear sunken and dark. Skin was kept pale with matte nude lipstick or a very dark red. Hair was left messy, matted and not straightened. The completed look made its fans look like junkies, much like their idols were in the music industry. Alexa Chung and Rita Ora often channel a more updated version of the grunge look. Alexa keeps to the
low maintenance style by wearing blended smoky eye liner on both the upper and lower lid with a less dramatic effect and a pale lip with her hair kept slightly messy and tousled. Rita prefers a more polished look with a dark red lip, keeping her eyeliner clean cut and her hair in big messy curls. To recreate the original look use a thick eyeliner pencil to line your lips and blend upwards with an eye shadow brush. Add a thin coat of mascara, contour cheeks with a rusty bronzer and add a dark red lip if you’re feeling brave! Then throw on your Doc Martens, a vintage shirt, ripped black tights and a beanie to fully embrace what you missed out on during your childhood.
Next Issue: Stylish stocking
GET THE LOOK Rimmel Traffic Stopping Eyeshadow, £6.49 Boots
Nails in Bittersweet, £6 Topshop
NARS pure matte lipstick in Amsterdam, £18.50 Nars Cosmetics
Bourjois Effet Smoky Eye Pencil Sparkling Granite, £5.49 Superdrug
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LIFESTYLE FOOD & DRINK
COWBRIDGE FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL
Half an hour’s drive from Cardiff is the vibrant market town of Cowbridge, and this year it celebrated the 10th anniversary of its award-winning food and drink festival. The festival has grown and grown since it was founded in 2004, now attracting over 14,000 visitors to its multiplicity of stalls, exploring worldwide cuisines in locally sourced Welsh food, in one delicious weekend. The town takes pride in this now prestigious event, and there’s a strong local feel that drives the attendants and participants. Quench couldn’t resist but joining the flocks of locals and food lovers, and we’ve tried to compile the best of what we experienced for you to enjoy. So get your bibs on, and prepare to be hungry. Photography: Anne Porter, Alice Rebecca Fairbanks
Food writer Sarah-Jane Salmon gives an account of the richness of Nestled in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan, Cowbridge is nothing less than a wonderfully wholesome and rustic little market town. It’s also home to the award-winning Cowbridge Food and Drink festival, now in its 10th year of success as people from all over flocked to showcase an event to remember. With its concoction of local arts, culture, live food demonstrations and most importantly, a plethora of delicious eats, it’s truly refreshing. Armed with hungry appetites, we made our way through the bustling marquees dripping with rich smells, ready to tantalise our weak resolves and set our bellies roaring. My purse strings were quivering already. Arriving at the street food courtyard, mouthwatering smells danced in the air and the atmosphere bristled with energy. Everything you could imagine was being dished up. From sticky succulent sausage baps, crispy chicken satays, to rich, smoky beef patties, stacked with sweet caramelised onions, oozing with flavours of satisfaction. Temptation led me towards the pulled pork burritos which were parcels of utter perfection! Nestled in a punchy sauce of juicy flavour and beautifully naughty in all the right ways, they were down right fun, delicious and messy. Just how life should be! Traipsing to the middle marquee and guided by a hungry belly, I felt like I was setting foot into Santa’s grotto. Rows of chocolates, glistening fudge, plump organic vegetables and chunks of home crafted confectionary teased both my willpower and budget with their playful winks. I unearthed an assortment of organic baked breads infused with different spices, herbs and flavours. Caroline’s Read Bread Company specialise in fresh, healthy ingredients to produce plump, natural breads. My eyes were drawn towards a striking Mediterranean medley and with only one of them left, I had it tucked snuggly under my arm before I knew it. Focaccia made of an Italian flatbread base, imbued with basil, portly cherry tomatoes and olive oil, I simply couldn’t wait to tuck into it for dinner. Light, airy with a crisp buttery golden crust, it was fabulous warmed through in a piping oven. Next up was Fablas Ice Cream. Anything cold, creamy and charged with flavour will always be a winner in my eyes and this stall was definitely
right up my street. Judging from the people jostling to get their hands on them, I’m clearly not the only one with a troublesome penchant for ice cream. Churned from the Fablas cows at Michaelston-lePit, the Jersey milk used to make the ice cream leaves a silken smooth texture which is then impregnated with flavours to set your tastebuds alight. The passion for their produce and their creativity shines through their flavours of sea salted caramel, toffee fudge, banoffee and bounty coconut. Some brave but aspirational mixes were gin and tonic, turkish delight, orange whiskey and even christmas cake. I plumped for a taste sensation of ferrero rocher, vanilla and snickers. After all, it’d be rude not to sample all three! It was rich, incredibly light and just like creamy velvet in your mouth. If you’re feeling extra naughty, Fablas offer an impressive display of lavish toppings like crumbly chocolate flakes, peanut slivers and so much more. A must for sugar magpies, you’ll certainly find something to satisfy your sweet tooth! The Chocolate Brownie Company attracted a mammoth amount of interest throughout the entire day. All I could see was a sea of heads and greedy hands, reaching for their anticipated hamper boxes. Deciding it was about time to find out what all the fuss was, I wandered over to behold the impressive selection on offer. Made with dark Belgian chocolate, they had everything imaginable up for grabs. From honeycomb, ginger whiskey, orange chocolate crunch, salted caramel to peanut butter and a fearless chili and lime mix, there was something for everyone. Clutching my boxed beauties and not being able to resist a cheeky taste test, they were gooey, chunky and utterly moreish. As time slipped on, we eventually found ourselves in the big, jam-packed cheese marquee. Scurrying through the stalls stealing sneaky nibbles, it was hard not to be blown away by the extensive range on display. The atmosphere was filled with a tangy and explosive aroma which only got us more excited to get our cheese fix on! The winner was hands down the Snowdonia Cheese Company, presenting an extensive, fullbodied range of Welsh farmhouse cheddars. Tasty, fresh, original and enough to get us all in a fluster, I had my poor purse whipped out before I could finish my samples.
Behold my chosen top three! Green thunder, infused with garden herbs and heady garlic, bouncing berry, laced with ripe succulent berries & ginger spice. The latter is a medium cheddar which when sliced, reveals soft chunks of stem ginger nestled within the cheesy base. Striking a magnificent flavour punch and delicious mopped up with some orchard apple chutney and crackers, Snowdonia cheeses succeed in both style and substance. Final word of advice? Next year, get yourself down to Cowbridge food and drink festival and prepare to relish the charming town at its most vibrant. It’s a must opportunity to mingle, taste and learn about some scrumptious food and then wash it all down with some quenching tipples .You won’t be disappointed!
Drink up! Sean Bagnall explores the boozy delights of Cowbridge
Cowbridge Food Festival. To a native of the middle of England (like myself) this festival is hardly as famous as the likes of Glastonbury, but being a food loving, aspiring amateur food writer, it was only right that I visited this charming little town to see what it had to offer. My mission though, was not to look at the wonders and delights of fresh Welsh gourmet foods. No, my mission (as instructed by my Quench Editors) was to drink. I wasn’t about to complain. To try and paint a picture, it seemed like the entire village lived for this weekend. Even the thunder, gusts and slightly-too-heavy-rain wasn’t enough to dampen its spirit (pardon the pun). Stepping into the main food area was like stepping into a savoury Willy Wonka factory - just replace the oompa lumpas with passionate fine food lovers, all of which oozed friendliness and impressive expert knowledge. A warming atmosphere. Like a true soldier, I kept my eye on my mission objective and made sure to try out as many drink stands as I could. If you fancied a lengthy drink real ale was in abundance. Perry and scrumpy cider stands stood at the ready to fill your glass. A pint of Norman cider from the Gwatkin Cider stand felt like a (very well tasting) time capsule in a glass. Alternatively, one could take an aperitif-like beverage, such as damson gin from Tipsy Fruit Gins Ltd or blackcurrant brandies and a framboise from the award winning British Cassis - an alcoholic fruit mixer company. There were of course fine wine stands and even a champagne lounge (cue jazz music). I’m also pleased to say I lost both my elderflower wine and spiced mead virginity (both delicious). At 21, I thought it was about time… It would be naïve to think the only drink one could find at Cowbridge this weekend had a percentage value on its back label. Plenty of stands sold quality tea and coffee, including all the extras. The flavoured coffee syrup shots were of particular interest to me, but in honesty almost every stand had me hooked. There was so much to see and try and nibble and sip, I just wish my wallet was a little deeper at the time! And despite everything I was experiencing and learning, my main interest of the day was still unanswered...
LIFESTYLE FOOD & DRINK Leading up to the festival, I read on the “campaign for real ale” website how ales can be paired with food, in a similar way to wine. There seems to be a buzz in modern cuisine where the Great British Pub, and the quality beers within it, is becoming trendy and appreciated once again. On such an ale stand, Tudor Brewery from Abergavenny, fronted by managing director Jaime C. Devine lured me in with their impressive array of real ales. I was given an insight into how real ales can work with great dishes and we later discussed how British ales are becoming a fashionable, quintessential part of modern British cuisine. Q: Can real ales be paired with food/dishes? A: “We have seen first hand how the number of high-end restaurants, bistros and other eateries have embraced this emerging culture and not only use ales as a flavouring in their creations, but as an accompaniment to the courses being served. Just like wine, different blends lend themselves to different dishes. In my own experience, there is nothing better than a fully hopped real ale, with a crisp, fresh and citrus undercurrent alongside a piece of white fish. Q: Ok, so what are the rules of thumb? A: “For beer connoisseurs, the rules of thumb are similar to those of wine drinkers. The hoppier the ale, the livelier the dish should be, so the flavours of the food are not drowned out by the taste of the ales. For red meat dishes, look to the maltier, toffee mouthed beers, usually stronger in ABV, which can hold their own against the earthy tastes of dark meats. This is nothing new; you have heard of steak and ale pie, I am sure. Q: Could you give me an example of how one of your ales compliments a dish? A: We use our own Blorenge Pale Golden Ale for curries and spicier food as it cleanses the pallet, whilst complementing the ingredients on the plate! So, it seems we could be at the early stages of a beer renaissance! I was completely taken by this idea and ended the day by spending my final pennies on a few bottles of Tudor Brewery’s own Skyrrid beer - a fantastically hoppy, dark ale, full of flavour, which I enjoyed with a slab of Snowdonia mature cheddar. A match made in heaven. Welsh food and drink at its finest, found in the small, but charming and totally impressive Cowbridge Food Festival. Mission accomplished.
Elm Tree Farm pies - highly recommended
Tortoise Bakery sourdough breads
LIFESTYLE FOOD & DRINK
Snowdonia Cheese Company, with a whisky cheddar that's to die for
Dessert wines from Cwm Deri winery
Stonebaked pizzas on the go
British Cassis boozy fruit mixers
THAI FOOD diaries Words and photography: Lucy Twaite
Different curries on offer
When I knew I was going to be teaching English in Thailand on a six week internship, the first thing that struck my mind was the food! I was to live with the Thai people, a people who take pride in ensuring that guests trying something new every hour of every day. Like many other cultures, eating is a ritualistic pleasure. At the school where I worked, the teachers brought in a wonderful array of food that was shared around the table. You took a spoonful of each dish, sampling different flavours, flavours that kept me going back for thirds, fourths, even fifths, ensuring I experienced everything…it was heavenly. They thoroughly enjoyed watching me (often struggling, but always willing!) to get through mountainous amounts of food. The lunch break lasted for hours, as the Thai teachers chatted; bonding over a selection of gastronomic delights. I was living in a rural area and we visited the market every day. Fresh, plentiful vats of fragrant curries, pork skewers, and barbequed fish steaks were just a small selection of what was on offer. Meat, especially pork, was frequently seen as street food, and was a staple in the meals I had with my host; I ate pork for breakfast nearly every day. There were only a few foods I didn’t grow accustomed to; I still haven’t gotten my head around roasted scorpions. It was also hard to comprehend the amount of rice available… sticky, egg fried and coconut rice; rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner! However, rice was just the accompaniment to other dishes. Thailand is known for its strong flavour combinations: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, sometimes combined into one dish; and always tasting sublime. If you enjoy eating an overly sweetened Thai Green Curry from the local takeaway, then you must taste the real thing. The incredible aromatic flavours from the kaffir lime leaves and ginger, the saltiness of the Nam pla (fish sauce) combined with hints of chilli and sweetness from the coconut milk, is just to die for. Or how about the formidable ‘Gaang massaman’ curry, a rich creamy dish with a peanut based, cardamom infused sauce, added to chicken and potatoes - just glorious! As much as I enjoyed the curries, Thai cuisine definitely has more to offer. Chicken, pork and fish is served as the base of soup-like dishes,
often incorporating unusually clear vermicellilike noodles, which is also served with rice. A particular favourite of mine was the papaya salad, ‘Som tam’. The papaya’s perfectly complimented the sharp flavour of the chilli and saltiness of the pork, combined with the crunch of the peanuts and spring onions; a complete explosion of flavour. I struggled with spiciness at the beginning of my stay, breaking out in sweat when trying each food, but coming back to sausage and mash have left me craving chillies. I was also amazed at the variety of fresh fruits, which were found in abundance in any Thai garden. There is the very interesting durian, which emits a strong pungent odour when cut open. On the other hand, there’s the kiwi-like dragon fruit, which smells and tastes much more appetising. One ingredient I haven’t touched on is coconut milk. A staple for curry dishes, it’s also a core ingredient in desserts…a particular passion of mine. My host soon realised my penchant for sweet foods, and made sure I tried something new after every meal. I absolutely loved the street food, ‘kanom krop’ made in a cast iron pan. It has a cakey yet crispy crêpelike exterior, filled with luxuriously soft coconut custard. Extremely moreish, I enjoyed these every time we went to the market. However, beyond the realms of gorgeousness was ‘khao niao mamuan’, sticky rice cooked in sweetened thick coconut milk and served with ripe mango. We usually ate it for dessert, but I’m salivating thinking about it as a bedtime treat right now! I was so in love with this I even made it for my family at home. It’s such a simple recipe: steam some sticky rice, mix together some coconut milk, salt and sugar and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool and then pour the warm coconut milk over the top. Voila! This won’t disappoint! Cardiff has many Thai restaurants to offer, iCookthai on Crwys Road and Thai Lounge in Whitchurch Road being two I would highly recommend. But if this article has tempted you to discover some of these tantalizing treats for yourself, then the only option is to go there. It’s an experience that can only be encountered when in Thailand, and was one that has transformed my taste buds for good.
LIFESTYLE FOOD & DRINK
The Hungry Student Cookbook Words: Tessa Wright
The Hungry Student: Vegetarian Cookbook Words: Felicity Holmes-Mackie
The Hungry Student: Easy Baking Words: Dylan Elidyr
Aspiring student chefs have quite a wealth of books to choose from, so how does “The Hungry Student” by Charlotte Pike measure up? Quench Food & Drink had three different writers review this new series to see how it fares on the market of student cookbooks
The Hungry Student Cookbook is an allrounder; a little bit of everything, ranging from the basics to more ambitious recipes. Charlotte Pike’s experience in university ensures that her recipes are studentorientated, not only on skill, but also on comedy, labelling chapters with titles like ‘the morning after’. If this piqued your interest, I’d advise you to read the introductory section at the beginning of the book, as I found it really useful - with helpful hints to save you money and keep you eating well. Each recipe has individual comments, appealing to the Gordon Ramsay wannabes among us, on how to make the dishes snazzier. I had to read some of the recipes twice
over, such as vodka pasta (I’m pretty sure there isn’t a student on earth that would buy a bottle of vodka to cook with). I also found some of the dishes a little too ‘cheffy’ for student life and so maybe a little inappropriate for the audience, especially considering they will not have the time, the money, or in some cases, the culinary skill, to make them. In order to practically test their quality I decided to make the one that appealed to me the most, orange and lemon chicken. Cost-wise it was cheap, disregarding the fact I already had the majority of ingredients required. Making the chicken was easy, although time-consuming as you had to marinade it, which is not
something I would have been happy doing on a standard day at uni. When I eventually got round to eating, the dish tasted great. However, call me fat, but there just wasn’t enough on the plate. I cooked for myself and my housemate, because the serving was for two; but I could easily have eaten both portions. If you believe yourself to be the next Jamie Oliver, I would recommend this cookbook - it has some great ideas (vodka pasta aside) valuable to someone who is passionate about cooking, and it’s not exactly breaking the bank at £7.99. However, if you’d rather stick to the basics, I would suggest a simpler book.
The expectations one has from a student cookbook for vegetarians are that the recipes inside will be a) cheap, b) not too complicated or time-consuming, c) nutritionally balanced and d) more imaginative than you are yourself. The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook offers some of these essentials but unfortunately has issues as well. The book’s informal tone verges on patronising at times, talking about your ‘mates’ rather than friends, and ‘veggies’ rather than vegetables. Student cookbooks are unfortunately major perpetrators of this dumbing-down of students; I refuse to believe this many parents send their child off to live on their own without telling them how to bake a potato or fry an egg. Thankfully, once you get down to the cooking side of things there are some very
nice recipes. Favourites include some of the stir-fries which use tahini, sesame oil, fresh orange and ginger. It’s also an introduction to some potentially new ingredients such as pad thai noodles, bulgur wheat and a range of curry powders, and teaches how to make a real risotto with minimal effort. The book has an emphasis on using wine, spices and fresh herbs in recipes without being too insistent. This is positive because these additions can make you feel like you’ve really had a tasty, hearty meal. Seasonality in any vegetarian cookbook is key and sadly The Hungry Vegetarian Student doesn’t show much awareness of this. It also asks you to spend on little extras when, in reality, most students just don’t feel like they can add those to their shopping. The book does suggest which of these additions are valuable and which to
buy only if you’re likely to make a lot of one certain cuisine, but I feel it could add more; for example, why not include advice on freezing chopped fresh ginger, chillies and garlic into ice cube trays? The book has the imagination which some vegetarian students lack, as it goes beyond the “meat substitute, beans and potatoes” route. It also steers clear of relentless quinoa, spelt and pulses. The recipes aren’t always cheap but are affordable if you plan your meals. I suspect that relying on this book would result in limited skills and not understanding the seasonal nature of being a skint vegetarian. However, if you have a friend who is a hungry vegetarian student then do buy them this book. They will get inspiration from it and be introduced to original, well-composed flavour combinations.
I recently had the pleasure of taking home The Hungry Student: Easy Baking cookbook from the Quench office. Being a student, and an often hungry one at that, it seemed ideal for me. The book claims to be the first of its kind - a baking book for students, and this certainly appealed to me. Baking has grown over the past few years into a fashionable, talked about and fundamentally British pastime. This rise in popularity is down to BBC2’s now mostwatched programme, The Great British Bake Off. The book comes as a follow-up to this craze, and it’s a great time for it to be on the shelves. It’s a straightforward book that teaches simple baking techniques, presented in an approachable manner. The book explores adventurous tastes, when it comes to baking at least, but proves
that delicious flavours can be produced by techniques which are, well, easy as pie. My girlfriend was as surprised as I was at how easy it is to make your own caramel, and we were truly impressed by how good it tasted in our attempts at a pear tarte tatin. Most of the bakes caught my eye, and there’s a huge variation, from puffy strudels to homemade loafs, fruit pies to pizza pies. The only fault I can truly give is its lack of photography, an aspect which for me plays an important role in choosing whether to buy a cookbook, and picking recipes once it’s mine. But what the book lacks in photographic generosity it makes up for in clarity, practicality and an overall sense of fun. Its advice is friendly and doesn’t patronize. It’s well organized and nicely put together – separating pastry from cake,
sweet from savoury – and both my girlfriend and I found it easy to follow and to understand. I managed to produce three of its recipes – the pear tarte tatin, a loaf of soda bread and mozzarella and tomato pastries. All three were surprisingly easy to make, and didn’t lack in flavour whatsoever; in fact they actually turned out pretty well, and by the end I was filled with a certain cockiness driven by my new-found expertise in baking. I’ve always enjoyed cookbooks and this one didn’t disappoint. I’m left with a new-found urge to bake (Cardiff Uni founded a baking society this year, and I’m now quite tempted to join). At £7.99, I see this book as a fair investment that will bring hours of enjoyment to anyone who’s eager to start baking. So rise to the occasion, and bake.
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every october, cardiff city centre plays host to one of the most vibrant and exciting celebrations of music in the country. now in its seventh year, s n festival converts each of cardiffâ€™s many music venues into a different stage, and attracts a myriad of up and coming musical talents. Quench took to the streets (and the bars) to offer a comprehensive account of the weekend. @Quenchmusic interviewers: joe ainscough tom connick amy endacott alec evans francesca gardner simeon goldstraw liam mcneilly jack meredith charlie mock staff PhotograPhers: hannah embleton-smith helen griffiths india thomas
Quenchmag.co.uk reviewers: henry boon tom connick jimmy dunne hannah embleton-smith liam mcneilly charlie mock india thomas
special thanks to urban taP house for their hospitality over the weekend and kait mordey for her photography.
THURSDAY 17 OCTOBER EVERYTHING EVERYTHING
Everything Everything have evolved their live show. Gone are the grey boiler suits and stoic stage manner of their 'Man Alive' tour; the band walk on in what look like utopian IKEA uniforms, but they walk on smiling. The most notable change is in singer Jonathan Higgs, who emerges from behind the synth to play the part of frontman with relish, handing deliberately tricky lyrics over to the crowd while he peacocks the stage. Some manage to keep up with the rapid high notes of opener 'Undrowned', but most content themselves with filming it on their iPhones. More songs from second album 'Arc' follow, and are met with the same fervour as old favourites. 'Torso of the Week', in particular, prove the band still like to jam as many melodies into one single as decency allows. Responding to appeals for ‘one more song’, the band take an encore, Jonathan clears his throat into the mic, and they perform an exhilarating 'Cough Cough' to a rejuvenated crowd, pounding drums to the largest cheers of the night. JD
“Thanks for coming early!” Frontman Andrew Hunt and his band Outfit are tasked with opening not just the evening, but S n itself. Launching into 'House on Fire', a curious crowd becomes an excited one, drawn closer to the stage by beautiful, skulking disco numbers. One angular pop melody after another rewards the earlybirds, and after the tightest of sets, they end on album-closer 'Two Islands', and even those merely reserving a space for later felt sad to see them go. JD
FRANKIE & THE HEARTSTRINGS
The vocals get higher and the dancing gets stranger as Dutch Uncles respond to Outfit’s opening set with their own brand of oddpop. 'Flexxin’' and 'Slave to the Atypical Rhythm' provoke the exact response you’d expect from such titles, as happy gig-goers shed inhibitions and get down in hilarious fashion. Frontman Duncan Wallis leads proceedings, interjecting bursts of song with spasmodic jerks and shimmys. As exhausting, and fun, a show as you’re ever likely to see outside of punk. JD
CLWB IFOR BACH
Sporting a new, sharper look, frontman Frankie Francis has matured, maintaining what comes across as genuine enthusiasm but having put aside many of the unnecessary theatrics of 12 months ago. Although the crowd isn’t quite as up for it as the band would have hoped they don’t allow it to detract from their performance, which is lively and animated throughout. The band play their way through a selection of material from their two previous albums, which doesn’t offer much in terms of variety, but displays the sort of jangly guitars and catchy choruses that we have become accustomed to, with Frankie’s regional vocal giving it the Heartstring seal of approval. LM
Within seconds of taking to the stage, Ghostpoet’s bassy soundtrack tears down the stage’s S n Festival backdrop. This, coupled with the poet himself (Obaro Ejimiwe to his mother) being shrouded in darkness, forms perfect metaphor for the subsequent hour and a half. This is not about the festival, this is not about the man; this is all about the voice. Warped and muddled by an array of pedals to Ejimiwe’s right, it takes on a life of its own among the ornate surroundings of the Angel Hotel. As the crowd sways and bobs before him, it soon becomes clear that Ghostpoet is in fact less a poet, more a priest, and tonight’s performance is a borderline religious experience. TC
At just 18 years old, Chlöe Howl writes the sort of brutally honest lyrics about what it is to be young that you’d expect from someone who’s lived through it. Her synth pop talent was clear from the outset, with opener 'Rumour' from the EP: a tight arrangement set the tone. Halfway through, the tempo slowed as Howl confronted drug issues with a performance that showed serious promise for her future. The slot ended on her new single 'No Strings', delivered with a resounding vocal and riffs harking back to ’80s pop, leaving the crowd convinced of her place on the British scene. HES
JOHN ROSTRON: SWN CO-CREATOR
TOM CONNICK GOT THE LOWDOWN FROM THE FATHER OF THE FESTIVAL For the uninitiated, can you explain what Swn Festival is and why they should take note? S n is a 4-day multi-venue new music festival which takes place in Cardiff. You buy either a day or 4-day wristband, then go and see as many of the 200 bands as you possibly can. There’s also music industry seminars in the daytime during the week; a record fayre; music bingo, films and quizzes and a whole bundle of other stuff all happening too.
You co-created the festival alongside Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. How did the idea for Swn come about? Huw and I were at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas in 2007. We’d been there before and loved it, but that year we found ourselves wondering ‘why not do a small version of this in Cardiff?’ We came back and put the first S n on that autumn. The festival has gone from strength to strength over the years. This year is your biggest yet – would you like to see this growth continue? We had about 500 people come in the first year. Last year we had 6000! S n is now here to stay - it’s always
fun; its packed with brilliant bands; and it’s now managed by a small team who all came to our attention through volunteering on the festival. It feels like it’s owned by Cardiff and everyone who comes. As festivals like Swn show, Cardiff has a fantastic music scene. What does the Cardiff scene – and indeed, the wider Welsh scene – mean to you? I guess S n also came about because Huw and I were always talking about what great music there is from Wales - that is indisputable. We see that every year as the judges for the Welsh Music Prize get their albums and are always introduced to new acts that they are impressed by.
Swn has played host to some artists whose careers have skyrocketed following their performance, with Alt-J playing Dempseys in 2011, and AlunaGeorge playing Buffalo in 2012. Anyone from this year’s line-up we should be keeping a close eye on? I think Chloe Howl is clearly going to be as big as Aluna George next year; and I’d add Nick Mulvey, Waxahatchee; Fryars, Fist Of The First Man, Plu and Marika Hackman as must-sees. But I’ll also be down the front for Land Observations, Dan Bettridge, Ellie Makes Music and about another 100 acts!
Francesca Graham speaks to Leeds' Sky Larkin. How have you found Swn so far? Kate: S n is such a great festival and Cardiff is such a great city - it’s a match made in heaven. We played the first year so it’s really nice to come back; it felt like a family affair. You’ve been together eight years; how have you progressed? Michael: We had a break after the second record, so for me it feels like starting all over again, but with the benefit of touring before. Kate: All three of us have a lot of touring experience. In the best way possible, it’s taken the drama out and means that we’re good at coping in a crisis! What can we expect from the new record? Kate: I set goalposts of wanting to make something that was arresting but not aggressive, and beautiful but not permissive. Michael: I think it’s direct but not rushed, not hurried, not forced.
CLWB IFOR BACH
S n saw Gulp, current project of Guto Pryce (Super Furry Animals), return to the scene of their first gig. Gulp’s brand of synth-psychedelia saw Clwb packed out. Lindsey Leven’s vocals are captivating and sincere, delivered in a way that invites the audience into the melodic opening of the set. Following two unreleased tracks, the droning synth of Game Love kicks in, signalling the beginning of the hazy 3 and half-minute journey through the band’s debut single. The duo combine electronic and experimental influences to create a unique sound, owed in part to Leven’s delicate vocals, and bring an extra dimension to their live performance, with trippy visuals creating a fitting atmosphere. The set closes with upbeat dance floor-friendly 'Diamonds', leaving an audience likely expecting much more from this band. LM
Jack Meredith & Joe Ainscough talk to Gulp. What do you think of Clwb's plans to promote Welsh culture more? Guto: It’s a great club, and it’s totally bilingual – the way it should be in Wales, it shouldn’t be separate and all held in a museum. It should be a vibrant, working, all-inclusive society. Following single 'Play', is there a fulllength nearing completion? Guto: Yes, we’re working at it, slowly. I know people who have had babies quicker than we’ve finished a song. We spend a lot of time on the instrumentation and arrangements.
SKY LARKIN CLWB IFOR BACH The Leeds-based trio are back together from separate projects. Regulars in Cardiff, they returned for their second set in a month following their UK tour for the release of album 'Motto' in September. This time, Sky Larkin were slow to start but things picked up with upbeat single 'Loom'. Beers in hand and a faultless unity throughout, the band attracted growing cheers with each song. The whole gig had an easy vibe with every member giving a straightforward, quality performance. Sky Larkin have honed rich, resounding instrumentals and the right balance between addressing the crowd and playing a great set. HES
CLWB IFOR BACH
Radstewart is a fresh offering from Cardiff, with a knack for poignant societal commentary and jarring chords. They played Thursday's set to a full crowd, who were laughing at singer Jac’s witticisms as much as appreciating their musical skill. The set featured tracks from the EP including 'Arabesque Bedouin' and crowd favourite 'Hot Damn', as well as exciting new material. Jac’s brilliantly awkward vocals are key to Radstewart’s originality, but it’s their individual talent and collective coherence (or deliberate incoherence) that seals their potential. HES
FRIDAY 18 OCTOBER Upstairs in Dempseys, three brothers from Missouri ripped up the venue with frenzied hardcore punk stemming from the ’80s. The delivery was exceptional and polished. We would never have guessed that the oldest has no more than 20 years to his name. Dee’s vocals resonated with angst as his brother plunged into an eager crowd, writhing around with the bass and a slightly unhinged demeanour. Meanwhile, the littlest Radke brother was trying to keep up on the drums like his life depended on it – and he did, bless him. At this stage they’re a definite band of brothers, but their sound has the potential to be up with the big names in punk, and probably will. Ones to watch. HES
Jack Meredith & Joe Ainscough meet Isaiah Radke(y). Does it help that you're brothers? Isaiah: It makes it really easy actually. We were homeschooled so we are abnormally close. Was there a specific reason you chose to release EP Devil Fruit on vinyl? vinyl’s really cool, it sounds better. Everyone wants to hear themselves on vinyl, so it’s cool that we finally got to. When can we expect a full-length album? Hopefully in April. We still have to write it, but we’re gonna get two weeks off after this tour so we should hopefully write it all then. You don’t want to take too long with that stuff. You want it to feel cool. What can we expect from a Radkey live show? It’s gonna be loud, it’s gonna be pretty sweaty, it’s gonna be messed up, man. It should be fun.
Setting up, the awkward duo looked incapable of living up to their name. Fortunately, appearances can be deceiving: their post-punk material is minimal and unforgiving, with heavy bass lines, monotone vocals and the odd atmospheric yelp from guitarist Rosie. Sure, it was weird at times, but in a progressive kind of way. After a shaky start of forgotten lyrics, the pair won over the crowd with cheeky subject matter and a little selfdeprecation. At one moment the duo would be seemingly unaware of having an audience; the next, they’d be moving through the crowd and grimacing at press cameras. Totem Terrors gave a quirky performance with a parting message to match: “We’ve been Totem Terrors and you’ve been… a bigger audience than expected”. HES
Taking to the stage clad entirely in black, Heavy Petting Zoo’s uniform forms stark contrast to the white suited dancer they’ve brought along with them. Deftly filling the gap in the crowd consistently formed by those either too cool or too shy to move forward, their snowy shape-thrower perfectly compliments Heavy Petting Zoo’s darkly swaggering rock ‘n’ roll. Downtuned and bassy, the set soon takes a turn for the weird as a conga breaks out around Clwb’s infamous mid-floor pole while HPZ continue to churn out their tremendously wall-quivering riffs. A brisk end-of-set undressing from the band’s alternative answer to Bez puts a full stop on the previous half hour's madcap antics, and solidifies this as one of the most interesting – if incongruous – sets of the weekend. TC
PAWWS Indie rockers Wolf Alice popped in for a chat with ahead of their set want for Christmas
Joel: Well, I like it. Joff: We’ve had some really nice press and stuff; people have been very, very kind. Joel: It got streamed with the Guardian, which is very, very cool for any band really. NME like it. Theo: It got a strong seven.
Joff: To be honest, the label only puts out through vinyl. If I’m completely honest I’d much rather have it on CD. It’s probably a bit silly that we didn’t do it on CD. Joel: It’s just a cool thing. I remember
when I was growing up and getting into vinyl, they just look cool. Ellie: It’s more of a collector’s piece, a bit of memorabilia. Joel: It’s like a t-shirt; you don’t really listen to it.
Joel: I was so proud. I bought it. Everyone has an opinion on NME, but I don’t care. Theo: It’s really cool, it’s massive. They’ve been very nice to us, we’re very grateful to them.
Joel: Album. We’re going to get an album for Christmas. Joff: Dear Santa, one Wolf Alice album. Make it mixed and mastered. Joel: It needs to be eight in NME as well. We want to smash next year.
By this point, the rain hammering on Cardiff was almost biblical, prompting many to seek refuge in the nearest venue to hand. This meant that by the time Beard Of Wolves took to the Jealous Lovers Club Stage in the impossibly hot Four Bars, the place was crammed to the rafters. With the instrumentation stripped down to a bass and a drum kit, and the accompanying vocals on the loud side of shouty, BOW channelled the spirit of scene heroes Death From Above – that is, if DFA had opted for ditties about the brilliance of blowjobs and the manliness of the moustache. The simplistic pleasure offered by BOW made for the perfect antidote to the drizzle outside, and ensured that those who came in soggy left both steamy and smiling.
You will have heard Lucy Taylor - a.k.a. Pawws – before; you just might not know it. Voice of Kele’s ‘What Did I Do’ and flute section of MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’, Taylor is now releasing her own pop gems com solo. It is a high, delicate voice that gives us songs about relationships sung with fragility. Latest number ‘Outside’ would sit comfortably alongside the Drive soundtrack with its shimmering Euro synth and murmured chorus. Onstage Pawws is a demure figure, swaying slightly but otherwise not venturing from behind the microphone, looking over the audience as she bares her soul. The irony is, after a 40 minute set detailing the numerous strains and tragedies of relationships, you’ll be hard pressed not to fall a little bit in love with her. JD North London’s Wolf Alice were certainly one of the less talkative bands to grace the stage in the cosy upstairs room of Clwb Ifor Bach during this year’s S n Festival, but my, did they get away with it. Drawing the crowds in from the streets and away from the festival’s six other venues as the Friday night powered towards its climax, lead vocalist Ellie filled the room with her sweet sounds ranging from the haunting ‘Blush’ to her transformation into the Cherrie Currie of this decade in the chorus of ‘Fluffy’. The growing hype surrounding Wolf Alice has by no means been without reason; it’s clear that it wasn’t just the torrential rain that kept people watching until the very end. Let us not be fooled by appearances. Of course, being separated from the facial expressions of the band by a thick barrier of jet black hair was slightly disconcerting. And yes, not understanding a word they were saying did detract from the enjoyment of the music in some sense. There was also the worry that the excessive arm movements was some form of hex being put on the slightly stunned crowd. But you’ve got to hand it to Japanese four-piece Bo Ningen, they brought something to the upstairs room of Clwb Ifor Bach that was rivalled by none across the entire weekend of S n Festival. What that something was, we’re not quite sure. What we are sure of, is that the quartet are definitely worth a watch. Emerging amongst great industry optimism at the turn of the decade, The Broken Vinyl Club seemed destined to go from strength to strength, endorsed by no other than Liam Gallagher. A debut album later and the band found themselves in an early evening slot at O’Neill’s, perhaps not the sort of show that might have been predicted two and a half years ago. TBVC draw heavily on classic rock n’ roll outfits, with elements of more contemporary indie and Britpop also evident to a lesser extent. However, after the opening couple of tracks, it becomes clear that nothing about this band is going to come as a surprise. The enthusiasm that they display for bygone eras shines through in their own music ever so strongly, meaning that on occasions their introductions could be mistaken for that of a cover, resulting in a rather underwhelming display.
There’s a sense of trepidation floating around Four Bars as the clock strikes 11. Cardiff’s prodigal sons Samoans have returned from an almost yearlong absence, bringing with them arguably the South Wales scene’s most anticipated debut album. They shuffle onto the stage with all the nerves of someone introducing their new spouse to a gaggle of drunk mates. Wall-to-wall, Four Bars is packed with friends and family of the Cardiff fourpiece, and as they kick into a set solely comprised of new material, eyes are wide with pride. Frontman Dan Barnett’s vocals struggle slightly due to an incredibly unfortunate loss of voice, but this matters little when the material being debuted is of such a high quality. Channelling their wealth of math-rock experience through a bombastic, anthemic sensibility, perfectly tuned for stage far larger than this. A promising look to the future of one of Cardiff’s most exciting new bands, this is both a mission accomplished and the start of a new chapter not only for Samoans, but for the South Welsh music scene as a whole.
Clouded since the summer by former Labour MP Tom Watson’s ‘look at me I’m so hip’ declaration of fandom, Drenge had a lot to prove by the time they took to the upstairs of Clwb. But let’s put political point scoring aside for one second. Drenge are a formidable beast, emerging at just the right time to blow away the cobwebs of over-production and stale songwriting that were starting to plague popular guitar music. Channelling the same energy that first brought grunge kicking and screaming into the limelight, brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless crafted a furious debut album that seems screaming to be let loose of its recorded confines and into the live arena. Tonight the duo’s stage time is set just after one in the morning, and yet the queue that snakes its way down Womanby Street hints at the fervour that surrounds one of the year’s most promising new bands. Emerging from the backroom clad in Primark pyjamas (a cheeky nod to it being way past their bedtime), the brothers Drenge threw themselves straight into a selection of all the finest cuts from this summer’s eponymous debut album. Predictably loud, the boys barely stop for breath throughout the course of the hour-long set – a gargantuan ‘Bloodsports’ proving to be the highlight. Sadly, the obnoxiously late stage time leads to one too many people having consumed one too many drinks, as evidenced by the awful excuse for a mosh pit that emerges at the front of the room. However, as the morning creeps ever closer and the grins on the Loveless brothers widen, its clear that nothing could taint this experience for the pair. Small though S n may be, this is the first festival headline slot Drenge have held. On tonight’s evidence, it surely won’t be the last.
PALOMINO PARTY After an excruciatingly particular soundcheck, Hail! The Planes were ready to play and once they began the reason for all this fine-tuning was made abundantly clear. One of those bands that think about every last detail of their sound, this accumulated into a hypnotically beautiful performance. A combination of great on-stage chemistry and lead singer Holly Müller’s delicate vocals had the suitably large crowd crammed into Fuel lulled into a slowly swaying silence. The six-piece slipped effortlessly from track to track from their forthcoming EP ‘Send A Signal To Me’ and finished on their mesmerising two track EP from earlier this year ‘Brother, I’m Sinking’. Well worth checking out.
Flamboyant five piece Palomino Party brought their theatrical vibes to O’Neills. With frontman Linford Hydes bedecked in a string of pearls and a fur coat, one would assume that the band’s focus is on aesthetics alone. This is far from true. Basked in the venue’s pink glow, their brand of upbeat indie earned enthusiasm from the amassed crowd, who seemed as engaged by their funk-infused tracks as by the quintet’s high energy performance. Costumes and dancing aside, this is a band whose songs are strong enough to stand up independently. Foals-esque ‘Deseo’, and contemplative ‘Scarletta’ were particular highlights of their set. Palomino Party prove that well-composed and considered tracks remain the best part of an artist’s show.
Officially a five-piece, Among Brothers took to the stage eight members strong, a number you would expect to seem crowded in the tiny venue that is Fuel. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth; Among Brothers were, as usual, flawless. With instruments including trombones, violins and obscenely bass-heavy drum-pads, Among Brothers deliver a unique sound like no other, ranging from contemporary experimental electronica to delicate, hushed vocal harmonies. The set spanned across their whole back-catalogue and onwards, with a few tantalising new numbers from what is setting up to be an astounding follow up to ‘Homes’; their debut album released earlier this year. Despite the quality of their performance however, Among Brothers drew a disappointingly small crowd. It cannot be stressed enough here; if you get a chance, go and see this band!
Olympians are a band that clearly love what they do more than anything, a trait portrayed best by their live performances; they were fun, entertaining, and had an infectious energy that swept through the crowd, making for one of the most enjoyable shows of the weekend. Their insightful and often quite bleak lyrics of recent EP ‘Adventure Gun’ are counteracted by a constantly amusing and light-hearted rapport with the crowd. Barely Regal Records rarely present a band that don’t impress, and Olympians are no exception. The London/Norwich gang delivered an impressively complex sound in a both widely entertaining and stunningly beautiful show.
Among Brothers talk Quench and Cardiff with
Matt: Definitely. We were actually talking about how Adam used to work for Quench.
Adam: Yep! I was one of the film section editors for like, two years. Alex: And we had a terrible radio show. Matt: I think we had five listeners once.
Matt: It’s a brilliant festival, it pulls everything in Cardiff together. It’s everything all in one place; it’s such a brilliant feeling. Alex: You can be in a place and literally every single one of your friends in this one room at once, which is really cool.
Linford: Anything from theatre, to art. It’s steeped in everything we did before we went off to study - we were all in a theatre company. Sam: We try and make it a spectacle - every show
is ‘a show’ rather than just us playing. We make an effort and bring props and costumes. Linford: In a way, that’s the way we’ve known, so we’ve applied that to a gig sense. We’re thinking about set, about costume, about audience members’ enjoyment they should enjoy is as much as they would a theatre show.
Photo by Kait Mordey
Since the 90s, the emo/punk/indie-rock sounds adopted by Sheffield’s Nai Harvest seem to have come full circle - from being on-trend, to off-trend and now back on - meaning that there seemed to be quite a lot of buzz surrounding their set, and Fuel was packed to its tiny rafters with all the coolest people S n had to offer. It is safe to say that this buzz is not misplaced, as the Sheffield duo delivered a strikingly touching performance surrounding the questions and problems that arise in the mind of a twenty-something modern day punk, drawing mostly from their latest album ‘Whatever’, released earlier this year. If critique is to be made, however, it’s that as a performance Nai Harvest left a little to be desired. While the audio was spot on, the visual side of their show was virtually non-existent as the pair slaved away melancholically, hardly moving or looking up from their instruments. Although this may not make for the most exciting performance, it is a style fitting to their genre and therefore shouldn’t detract too much from what was a passionate and engaging set.
When I think of a one man band, I imagine grainy 1970s Top of the Pops footage of an old man with a drum strapped to his waist, bells on his ankles, and a harmonica braced onto his jaw, working himself to the bone to create an amateur skiffle noise. Theo isn’t really like that; he plays heavy math-rock in the vein of Maybeshewill and 65daysofstatic, solo, without vocals, and definitely no bells on top. He walks out to a small crowd in a tiny room. It’s always cosy watching an act in Fuel, but Theo – real name Sam Knight – packs more electrical equipment than any band I’ve ever seen, and space is at a premium. He takes centre-stage with guitar in hand, and begins a simple riff, distorted and looped into a beat. We watch as he casually discards his guitar, the riff still ringing out, and wanders over to the drumkit as if bored while shopping for instruments. When he starts hitting the drums the sound is palpable, I feel every note crackling through my hair and pressing against my clothes. I’m able to pick out the single I Am Destructor, but just barely; the set blurs into one six minute electric catharsis after another. The crowd leans in and out as one, dipping heads appreciatively in a modest approximation of a headbang, until the static rings out and it becomes apparent the set has finished. Theo gives a little smile, his first expression in forty minutes of playing, and takes a few seconds to take in applause before beginning the long, long process of packing away his kit. LM
Charlie Mock speaks to the duo about their busy schedule You’ve hit numerous festivals over the last few months, as well
something every weekend. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the last two months has been rammo for us. We’re just doing our jobs and uni and then it’s like a weekend party, we look forward to it.
Ben: Yeah, we played London the other day as well!
Ben: We have weekdays off! But, since September we’ve been doing
Lew: We’re nervous. I don’t know if we can keep up with them! Ben: They’re just crazy guys! There’s free beer at all the shows as well so I don’t know what’s going to happen!
speaks to Cardiff’s returning heroes Kutosis ahead of album two. Ian: It gave us a little boost! It was nice to know that our first album, that had minimum PR, managed to filter through to a lot of people. Ian: We went to a couple of gigs on Thursday and Friday- I like Radstewart! They’re really good. I hadn’t seen them before but they were great. Jim: Heavy Petting Zoo were quite interesting! Ian: When we started writing for the new album [‘Dream It Away’] we kind of went down
a two directions and had to choose one. It’s a poppier, surfier sound. Jim: We stopped with the jagged guitars, and the probing, shouting call-and-response. Now we feel like we’ve written eleven or twelve actual songs. It’s quite a lot different to our old stuff. When we went into the studio, we already had in mind that we were going in to do something different to before, so there was some apprehension there because we were like, “what happens if no one likes this new stuff!? We might just disappear!” I feel a lot more confident with it, though. I’m hoping it just gives us a platform to become bigger.
KuTOSIS Photo by Stereoboard.com
Hip-hop trio Clipping talk to ahead of their weekend-defining set.
experimental music is a Daveed: Well, I think we certainly owe a great debt to all the early gangsta rap pioneers; N.W.A definitely is CLIPPING a huge influence on us, King T, “It’s Clipping, bitch” - the motto, mantra, and introduction to the stage of this L.A industrial all of the folks that Dr Dre was hip hop act. Quite unlike any other band at Swn, Clipping lay lightning verses over beats working with around that time. almost shredded beyond recognition. Often you will stare open-mouthed at MC Daveed Diggs, wondering at the inner-metronome that can keep tempo to a track that sounds like knives in a ceiling-fan. But keep tempo he does, spitting his assorted stories of the streets for the good people of Cardiff. A trenchcoated hipster stands in front of me, arms folded, a pillar of scepticism in an otherwise sound room. He clearly doesn’t expect the next song to be performed inches from his face, mic held in a three-finger grip by the breakneck Diggs, who stands and watches the young man squirm for a good couple of minutes. Poor bastard. JD
Daveed: I think it’s a good label to work with in general, they’re really good people. Jon: We thought it was a weird pairing first, too, but, Sub Pop actually doesn’t have a unified sound. What they seem to get excited about, which is great, is just letting it blend and letting us do exactly what we want, there’s no creative control coming down from the label.
Will: It was a reference to digital clipping, audio distortion. Jon: LA Clippers was in the list of names we were discussing. Will: I’m glad we didn’t call ourselves that, we’d be sued…
Aled Rheon represents what Swn Fest is all about. Performing his carefully written songs in both Welsh and English, the musician broadly appeals to all while standing up for his heritage. Peaceful and soothing melodies filled The Hayes during his performance on the circular stage. Reminiscent of Dallas Green’s side-project, City and Colour, Rheon demonstrated how minimal production can, in some cases, make a maximum impact. Rheon’s heart-warming songs and Welsh lyrics aided him in standing out from the highly talented line-up. The singer is proof that Welsh-speaking acts still have something to offer the music industry today. ALED RHEON The trio fronted by a confident Maddie Jones captured the attention of passing crowds on Sunday afternoon at Swn Fest. Packing more punch than her contemporaries, Maddie’s powerful voice can be as soft as Norah Jones’, or stronger and attention grabbing on tracks like the band’s cover of Billy Jean. Green and Blue saw the folk act take a seemingly popular, jazz-infused turn. Regardless of their (often changed) instruments of choice, Maddie Jones and her band were easily the most natural performers of the day. Determined since a young age to avoid the monotonous 9-5 grind in favour of following her dreams of musicianship, Jones seems to finally be getting the recognition she deserves. Without a doubt, a highlight of the festival.
Performing a mix of crowd pleasing covers and original material, Ellie James took to The Outdoor Stage on the Sunday of Swn Fest. Hordes had gathered in The Hayes to witness the 19 year old’s sweet, acoustic songs. Delivering her whimsical musings with a stronger voice than most performers on the circuit; Ellie’s folktinged sound was far from passively appreciated. A cross between Nina Nesbitt in her early YouTube covers, and Gabrielle Aplin; the audience lapped up each and every one of her songs. Having made her debut live performance at Swn Fest back in 2009, it’s clear that the event aids up-and-coming talent rise to the top. Expect more good things from Ellie Makes Music in the near future.
The week before gracing the stage at S n, Childhood were paraded by NME as part of the ‘Young Britannia’ feature. Being cast in what seems to be the never-ending tirade to convince the nation that a handful of ‘fair to good’ guitar bands are the most exciting thing to happen to British music since The Beatles, might be seen more as a hindrance than help by some. Childhood needed to bring something to the table in a live setting. From the outset it’s clear that they’re incredibly tight, with front man Ben Romans Hopcraft delivering every line with considered enthusiasm against the backdrop of the dreamy guitar hooks and infectious bass lines that are indicative of Childhood’s sound. Their releases to date have been notable for echoed vocals and use of effect units, but everything translates incredibly clearly in a live environment. Having drawn their set to a close with a rapturous, stretched out rendition of latest single Solemn Skies followed by their debut Blue Velvet, the band left the stage having made quite an impact of the Clwb crowd. Murmurs at the bar and in the smoking area spoke fondly of their tight delivery and live credentials, suggesting that Childhood might just have what it takes to find their way to the top of the pile of ‘fair to good’ guitar bands previously mentioned. LM
The pleasure of closing the festival, at Clwb in any case, fell to the capable hands of Kettering 4-piece Temples. Being able to produce a distinguishable sound in a market immersed with young British guitar bands is something that many have found difficult, but Temples’ psych-heavy, colourful pop sound provides gives them a much-needed edge. You shouldn’t allow the bright sparkly tops, the permed hair or the glittered eyes to fool you; Temples are a band up for a lawless show. “This one’s called Prisms, now let’s have it” adjures front man James Bagshaw before the band enter in to the kaleidoscopic b-side from the band’s debut single. That debut was released just one year ago, and such has been Temples’ significant rise, Bagshaw seems to forget where the band have played, declaring the show their first in Wales despite performing to an impressive crowd on the banks of an estuary at Portmeirion’s Festival No.6 just a couple of months earlier. Part way through the set it becomes clear that the crowd isn’t quite as up for a lively one as the band are. “If you can’t dance, dance… and if you can dance, show off” encourages Bagshaw before the rumbling bass of Ankh kicks. It’s not that the audience isn’t digging it, but perhaps the effects of four days festival-ing have set in. The set moves through a drop in tempo as Temples draw the crowd in with the hazy ‘Move With The Seasons’, before bringing proceedings to a close with ‘Colours To Life’ and finally, their debut single ‘Shelter Song’. It’s the debut that may serve as a benchmark, but on the evidence of this performance it’s one that Temples are more than capable of reaching for years to come. LM
talks to Childhood about Guardian praise and the festival circuit.
Dan: They’re both good, they’re very different. Ben: I think it’s impossible to really categorise the big ones, ‘cause you go to Reading and it’s completely different backstage, the vibe is different at upand-coming festivals. Every festival is completely different. Dan: These ones feel a lot more like a gig because there’s three bands on at the venue and we’re just playing with them, which is cool, but maybe
camping festivals are a little bit of a different vibe and you don’t really know what you expect to get when to walk into, as such.
Dan: We’ll find out if it’s a classic. Ben: I call everything classic in a way, I guess it’s one of the things people say these days that doesn’t have the meaning it used to have. Hopefully Paul Lester was right, potential classic. I don’t know if it’s a classic yet. We really appreciate support from The Guardian, they’ve been really nice to us.
As the weekend draws to a close, Tom Connick talks to Katie Crutchfield, the head and heart behind Waxahatchee Swn is modelled quite heavily on South By South West, which you played for the first time this year. What do you find the main differences are between city-based festivals compared to field-based ones? Is there a different vibe, do you prefer one or the other? I guess I’ve never really thought about that; I like both. The only drawback of a city festival is that it’s impossible to not schedule bands at the same time so there’s just conflict there. But I do like that you can go to a festival in a city, and you get to see all of these different venues, and you get to really experience the town. A field is kind of a drag because it’s always hot and it’s just kind of gross. You’re just outside all day, and sometimes that’s fine but… no showers, urgh. Yeah, I think I prefer city festivals. You’re touring alongside your sister in Swearin’, and both your albums were recorded in two different family homes. Is it quite important to you to keep that personal connection with the music? Yeah, I really like home recording. We kind of have a really good set-up now because Kyle from Swearin’ went to school for audio engineering and he’s kind of a nerd when it comes to that stuff. He
has tons of equipment, so we kind of have a great set-up, practically a studio set-up in our house. I like doing that because you don’t have a time limit and it’s free, so you can just experiment for as long as you want to. I think that’s really cool. And also, like you said, the personal connection. When we recorded my album it was just like all my best friends helping me do it and that’s really nice. Your new album ‘Cerulean Salt’ is more polished than [debut] ‘American Weekend’ was. Was that a conscious decision; to move away from the really lo-fi sound on the debut? Not entirely – I actually recorded a whole version of ‘Cerulean Salt’ recorded exactly how I did the first one which I did myself, and I just didn’t really think that it serviced the songs; it was a little too blownout. The outcome of ‘American Weekend’ was sort of a surprise – I didn’t know what I was doing and it just sort of ended up sounding like how I wanted it to. But then with the second record, I don’t know how to mic drums or anything like that, so it didn’t sound very good. We just scrapped it and re-did it. I kind of warmed up to the idea of having a more polished record as we were working on it, because originally I didn’t really want to do that.
Despite the fact that your sound is quite personal, you move away from the personal in that you don’t go under your own name – what’s the motivation behind that? I don’t know, I liked the idea of calling it Waxahatchee more so than I just definitely didn’t want to call it my name. I wrote and recorded all the first songs at Waxahatchee Creek in Alabama It’s just been a big part of my life throughout my childhood and everything, so I just thought it would be a cool thing to call it. Obviously ‘Cerulean Salt’ has been really well received. What’s next for Waxahatchee, and what’s next for Katie? It’s all the same now! My whole life has been doing this music stuff, like the past couple of years. But I’m almost finished with touring for the year, and then I’m just going to start working on the next record – that’s the big plan. Straight back into it – it’s two records in two years, are you hoping to get another one out next year? Probably, I’ve always worked really fast, so pretty much since I’ve started writing music I’ve pretty much put out a record every single year. I wouldn’t be surprised if I do another one next year.
Katie Crutchfield is an unassuming presence. Among the lavish arches of Westgate Street’s Angel Hotel and under her Waxahatchee guise, she takes to the the stage alone, and can seemingly barely bring herself to make eye contact with the room-filling crowd she has drawn. Solo, Crutchfield is an endearingly slight figure. Strumming forlornly at her guitar, the audience is granted an insight into the girl who crafted such an unashamedly raw and open debut album tucked away in the bedroom of her parental home. However, it is undoubtedly this year’s sophomore ‘Cerulean Salt’ that will define Waxahatchee. A runaway critical success, the album expanded on the stripped back ambiance of debut ‘American Weekend’, adding more complex instrumentation without losing the personality of Crutchfield’s solo bedroom recordings. Such a change is echoed tonight as Waxahatchee transitions from solo performance to full-band bombast. Exploding into life with a onetwo of ‘Coast To Coast’ and ‘Misery Over Dispute’, the grungier, sludgier aspects of Crutchfield’s output take hold. The alternation between quiet, soulful introspection and brash, ferocious snarl perfectly personifies the S n weekend’s diversity. Something for everyone is offered throughout the four-day extravaganza, and as Crutchfield closes the weekend, she herself reflects this wonderfully vibrant bout of escapism. We’ll see you next year. Interview and review by Tom Connick
Photo by Kait Mordey
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INTERRAILING: THE ONLY WAY TO EXPLORE EUROPE
As term descends and students grow ever restless for a summer holiday, Anica Whitmore and Desna Lespinoy explore the rise of interrailing and give us an insight into why interrailing is growing ever popular with travellers, especially student travellers Whatever the nature of the trip, whether it’s a short summer holiday or a month exploring, InterRailing is becoming increasingly popular with those seeking adventure. One ticket which allows you to freely hop on and off Europe’s trains appears to be a perfect getaway, as well as an ideal way to see a world outside of Britain. The ability to freely travel a whole continent is definitely something which appeals to me, and I would even argue this kind of trip seems much more worthwhile and rewarding than a boozy yet expensive, week away on a girls/boys holiday. The affordable packages make InterRailing
InterRailing truly allows you to tailor make your own adventure perfect for students. With each country in Europe being priced at 1 of 4 levels, it is possible to devise a trip which completely suits your individual needs. By either purchasing a ‘single country pass’ for as little as £30, or opting for a ‘global pass’ starting from just £161, you can ensure the package fits your personal budget. Not only this, but tickets also include many additional discounts on things such as ferries, museums and hotels, which are bound to be of use along the journey. After a hectic university year of scrimping and saving, as well as endless deadlines and exams, these packages seem all the more enticing as a summer break. As well as such fantastic prices, I was also
RISE OF THE RAILS
drawn in by the diversity involved in such a trip. InterRailing truly allows you to tailor-make your own adventure, choosing from exploring bustling capital cities one day, to visiting charming cultural villages, relaxing on sunny Mediterranean beaches or embracing snowy alpine landscapes. It is perfect for those interested in understanding different cultures, and interacting with new people as well as places. There is no limit to the experiences you may encounter, with one ticket to a thousand destinations. InterRailing can be desirable for groups of old friends eager to embark on a journey together, as well as catering perfectly for the lone traveller, as it thrives socially. Exploring the continent by train allows fellow travellers to cross paths and share stories and experiences on a daily basis, which is also true of the buzzing hostels around Europe, perfect for youngsters. Hostels are basic, but they are often the most affordable form of accommodation, as well as a lively yet safe environment to meet groups of like minded people. Shared dorms offer party-like atmospheres, similar to student experiences in university halls, helping to create new friendships and new directions to adventures. What better way to travel than on a relaxing train ride which takes you to the heart of each location? The convenience of getting dropped in the midst of the action, coming and going at your own pace, with no time limits other than ones you set yourself, sounds like anybody’s dream vacation.
Planning a European holiday may seem overwhelming - after all, you’ve only got so much time and a whole continent to explore. With so many tempting destinations, narrowing the list down becomes a heart-wrenching task. To save your interRailing adventure from becoming a trainwreck of a trip check out Sarah Davis’ guide to the five top cities in Europe.
Prague, Czech Republic: With a backdrop of traditional Czech street music and fairytale style architecture, it is near impossible not to fall in love with Prague. Located in the heart of Europe, Prague radiates an authentic, medieval feel that makes you feel as though you’d travelled to another era. The Czech cuisine is ridiculously underrated (- I recommend the goulash and potato pancakes!) and the buzzing nightlife makes sleep become an annoying hindrance. If you lose yourself down the winding brick streets, and remember to visit Prague Castle and Charles Bridge, then you’re guaranteed an enjoyable stay. Well worth czech-ing out! (sorry).
Barcelona, Spain: Barcelona is the idyllic location in Europe for any sun-starved students. The Gaudi-designed aesthetic that blankets the city provides explorers with a constant view of distinctive architecture. Gaudi’s famous Catalan cathedral masterpiece, the ‘Sagrada Familia’, is a definite must-see. With the thriving cities just a walk away from the sandy beaches, Barcelona accommodates for all types of travellers. The enticing tapas bars are ubiquitous in Barcelona, but I recommend for you to try the local delicacies from the boisterous La Boqueria market. And, of course, Barcelona is wellknown for its lively nightlife scene, hosting the worlds top DJs and is the perfect place for lovers of electronic & jazz music.
Paris is the ideal city to kickstart your interrailing trip. The exciting yet beautifully elegant aura of the city lets you engage in the sophisticated Parisian lifestyle; whether you’re lingering over your third pain au chocolat in a picturesque café, or meandering along the streets of Montmartre. Although it’s known as an expensive city of haute couture, if you wander down the seductively fashionable area of Champs-Elysèes, you will find yourself marvelling at the sights of the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Notre Dame and (of course) the Eiffel Tower. For a truly French experience, try venturing over to find the overwhelming view from the Sacre Couer, and to indulge yourself in the red light district with the Moulin Rouge.
Rome, Italy: Rome is a classic traveller’s favourite, and for good reason. The ‘Dolce Vita’ mentality permeates the city, with the quaint cobbled streets and the stunning views providing the perfect setting for any getaway. No need to tell you of the utmost importance of gelato to the Italianate culture, and the jovial Campo de Fiori alone makes the whole trip worthwhile. Rome hosts a range of popular landmarks the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps may be the first of which come to mind, and all are definitely worth visiting. But if you want to get a real taste of Rome, then make sure you head over to Monti, where you’ll find endless gems of fashion stores, architecture and restaurants tucked away.
Perhaps the most well-known European city for its trendy, artistic lifestyle is Berlin. It boasts some legendary clubs and bars to suit all tastes, from the electric beat in Tresor to the ‘Matrix’ style dancefloor in Berghain. This dynamic, vibrant city has a plethora of coffee shops, vintage boutiques and beautiful gothic architecture. Berlin’s not only a pretty face, though. Immerse yourself in the city’s fascinating history as you traverse down the colourful murals on the East Side Gallery, and find authentic sections of the Berlin Wall scattered over the city. The electric cultural scene in Mitte is always worth a visit, as well as the evocative landmarks of Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gates.
This month our travel journal presents one of Eastern Europe’s best kept secrets, Ashley Bebbington give us his personal insight in to Poland’s capital, Warsaw With the cost of being a student higher than ever before, more and more students have begun to explore Eastern Europe to cut travel costs. It was with this in mind that I decided to visit Warsaw, Poland, managing to secure flights, and two nights in a hotel for under £100. From London, the flight only takes around two hours. To top it all off, the hotel was four stars, and when I arrived I discovered it had been the home to a number of football teams during the 2012 European Football competition. Definitely a good start. Sports fans will definitely want to head over to the national stadium which is a short walk from the city centre. Built for the Euro Cup finals of 2012, it is now home to perhaps Poland’s most famous club, Legia Warsaw. The stadium is a master class in architecture, but it’s difficult not to notice the run down area that surrounds it, and the fact that the stadium is enclosed in a cast-iron fence.
Sports fans will want to head over to the national stadium The city has plenty to offer for history buffs, as the impact of Nazi occupation in the 1940s can be quite clearly seen today. The majority of the city was bombed during the German invasion of 1939, meaning that the centre is a sprawl of modern architecture. Take a short stroll north, however, and you’ll find yourself in the Old Town, the only part of the centre that predates 1939. The Old Town is something of a tourist hotspot, so you may want to avoid spending too much money there, but taking a walk through this
beautiful area is a fantastic experience that anyone visiting Warsaw should not miss. In addition to this, there is also a museum dedicated to the failed uprising against the Nazis. The museum provides an extensive wealth of information and artefacts relating to the two-month resistance against Nazi rule in 1944. I ended up spending over two hours here soaking it all up, and left feeling inspired by the ultimately doomed plight of these people who risked and lost their lives to fight for their freedom. Another thing you’ll want to try in Poland is the vodka. Even if you’re someone who despises vodka (I’m one such person), you’ll love it the way the Polish do it. My favourite was Wodka Zoladkowa Gorzka, a mint flavored vodka that goes down remarkably easily, and that I’ve tried to no avail to buy in the UK ever since! And the best part? It’s only 5 Euros a bottle. Seriously. Smokers will also be happy to know that a pack of 20 filter cigarettes comes in at a little under 2 Euros. Just be wary of the fact that you can only bring 200 back to the UK! Something else I noticed was the cost of eating out. On my travels I’m accustomed to buying some bread and filling, and trying to assemble some kind of sandwich on a park bench somewhere – I once tried to do this in Museumplein in Amsterdam and got attacked by a horde of hungry pigeons. Not ideal. I managed to avoid doing this in Warsaw because you can pick up a decent sit-down meal with drinks for 5-8 euros. Okay, I was ordering the cheapest items on the menu, but
it makes a welcome change from looking over my shoulder for flying rodents that are far too accustomed to humans. Something you should definitely try in Poland is traditional Polish soup served in a bread bowl, the perfect thing to warm you up on a cold day. The public transport links in Warsaw are great, the infrastructure having been greatly improved in the run-up to the Euro Cup in 2012. They’re also cheap, meaning getting around in Warsaw is no problem at all.
It’s an ideal location to go as a student strapped for cash The language barrier can be a bit taxing, so I would definitely recommend purchasing a Polish phrasebook (or smartphone app) before jetting off. It’s a tough language to get your head around, but a few choice phrases will prove invaluable, as the majority of people you’ll come into contact with won’t speak a word of English. Mostly though, the Polish are a very kind people, who, more often than not are elated that you’ve chosen to visit their home (97% of people living in Poland are Polish, and tourism isn’t exactly booming). Warsaw, then, is an amazing juxtaposition between the pre-war traditional, and the postwar industrial. It is truly amazing to see the contrast between the old and the new, and with cheap flights, accommodation, food, and – most importantly – vodka, it is an ideal location to go as a student strapped for cash. Just remember to pack warm clothes!
STUDENT IN A STRANGE LAND
Students are increasingly being given the opportunity to undertake their studies or teach in a foreign county, advancing their CV whilst experiencing a different culture. Travel writers Alexandra Brown & Lucy Twaite shed some light on their time abroad
TEACH THAILAND Last summer I travelled to rural Thailand for six weeks to teach children with AIESEC: a youth led organisation run by university students in over a hundred countries. Arriving in Bangkok, we spent three days being taught about the AIESEC project with eighty other interns. Here I met people from Mexico, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, France, Italy, Canada, USA, and Lithuania. The cultural nuances I had been expecting suddenly felt cavernous, but at the same time we quickly got to know each other, all searching for a seam of common ground. After the training, I headed to Chaiyaphum, in north eastern Thailand. I was staying with Me Tuk, a female Thai teacher, and Mitha, a fellow intern, from Indonesia. Me Tuk kindly let us stay in her spare room during our time in Chaiyaphum. Sleeping in the same bed; Mitha and I certainly got to know each other quickly! On my first day of school I was greeted with stares of wonder, most of my students had never met a fair-skinned European before. The desirability of my pale complexion was an amusing contradiction to my usual quest for a suntan! The students would come up and ask for autographs, photos and phone numbers; the adoration they had for Mitha and me made the demands of teaching a pleasure. Although teaching children from ages seven to fifteen was at times difficult, it was always rewarding. Nervous at first, it was wonderful when the students repeated English sentences back to me; I knew their confidence had grown. I hoped that they would be inspired and would have the courage to continue learning English. Although weekdays were spent in school, the weekends were free allowing us to travel around Thailand. This experience was probably as valuable as the teaching. All the interns bonded quickly, whether it be from visiting temples and markets, white water rafting, paragliding, trekking through the jungle, or discussing the aftermath of many drunken nights out in Bangkok! Like Me Tuk, my host, every Thai person I encountered was welcoming, hospitable and friendly making the experience truly memorable. So if you’ve got next summer free, why not consider an AIESEC internship to Thailand? I don’t think you’d be disappointed! Lucy Twaite
Study China is a programme open to UK undergraduate and postgraduate students which is designed to grant successful candidates a unique insight into China, its language and culture. Funded by the Department of Business and Innovation, Study China offers successful applicants 3 weeks tuition and accommodation at a Chinese university as well as organising a selection of cultural trips and activities for participants. I, along with around 80 other British students, were based at the prestigious Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. With 40 scheduled hours of language tuition our academic itinerary was intense. Despite the difficulties getting to grips with the language, the excitement of a local understanding our broken attempts at Mandarin made all our hours in the
classroom worthwhile. Despite our busy itinerary, we made the most of being in such a famous province of China. It wasn’t hard to see why the district was labelled by Marco Polo as ‘heaven on earth’. From visiting the famous West Lake to trekking up Mount Mogan, we definitely made the most of our stay in Zhejiang. Our exploring wasn’t just restricted to appreciating the natural beauty of the region; the city of Hangzhou came alive at night. From bustling street markets to trendy clubs and bars, we enjoyed the cheap drinks and experienced Hangzhou’s nightlife well... even if this did often make attending our 9am mandarin classes or 8am morning exercise classes more of a challenge! We also arranged to stay in the dynamic city of Shanghai at weekends where we spent our time exploring shops, temples and rooftop bars. After our three weeks in Zhejiang was over and after an emotional leaving ceremony with teachers and other students, I travelled to Beijing with some friends to spend my last few days in China. From riding Tuk Tuks to eating the world famous Peking duck, the capital didn’t disappoint. I even got to visit the iconic Great Wall, which was incredible. As one of the world’s most influential superpowers, understanding Chinese culture and learning Mandarin has never been more relevant or interesting. Study China offers students a unique insight into the country’s fascinating history, amazing cities, people and culture. I couldn’t recommend the trip enough to any student who has a desire to experience a new culture. Many universities have grants and funding available for students to help with the costs of the programme - even more reason to apply! Alexandra Brown
PHYSICAL THEATRE: MORE THAN DANCEY ACTING? The stage: traditionally a foundation for acting, singing or dancing. Then, physical theatre came along and integrated the disciplines, the primary idea being that performers tell a story through physical means. What is it? Where does it come from? How is it put together? This month, Sophie Barnes unravels these questions
s physical theatre’s popularity grows, so does its following. This is owed to the increase in media interest, putting choreographers into the spotlight, including the likes of Matthew Bourne and physical theatre group DV8. The style has also attracted younger audiences as professional shows toured the UK, Europe, and beyond to bring physical theatre to the world stage. The A-list of physical theatre continues to grow annually. Having first wowed audiences in the early twentieth century, classical practitioners such as Barrault, Stanislavski and Artaud pushed at boundaries and challenged tradition by establishing a distinct difference between mime and physical theatre. Barrault is of particular relevance; he rejected the idea that mime should be silent and made way for the dawn of a new performance style. This was known as ‘total theatre’ and went on to lay the foundations for physical theatre. It made way for future pioneers of postmodern physical theatre in the years that followed, with the likes of Motionhouse and Clod Ensemble bringing the style into the contemporary era through the use of social media. The performance style is being introduced to a new generation of dancers as a major part of the A-level and GCSE Performing Arts curriculum, allowing students to develop expression in performance. It also introduces boys to the marriage of theatre and dance, which can be off-putting on account of it being ‘too girly’. Physical theatre requires no specific dance style from its performers – it is the freedom to express emotion in performance whilst integrating various acting and dance techniques.
Like every performance discipline, it is influenced by the whole world. Opera carries Italian influences, ballet carries French influences and physical theatre carries multi-cultural influences. The earliest origins of physical theatre can be linked across the Channel to the French development of mime and ‘clown schools’, particularly in Paris we all know and recognise the stereotype of the French mime. Either way, the mime is used to show emotion and expression without speech. Many of the French elements of this are still linked to physical theatre today. There have also been influences from outside of Europe. For example, the Japanese ‘Noh’ theatre tradition uses every aspect of the stage and a ritualistic, dance-like movement style. Balinese theatre intrigued Artaud with its energy, use of space and unique make-up and costume. It is claimed that Artaud rejected using scripts in performance to dispel the metaphorical barrier between performers and audience. Artaud’s influence on physical theatre has led to performers having a more direct relationship with the audience. Modern physical theatre also owes much of its movement to contemporary dance, in particular the work of Rudolf von Laban. Laban looked at creating movement for actors as well as for dancers, integrating three aspects of performing arts: dance, drama and music. Laban made it acceptable for others, including world-renowned Pina Bausch, to look into the relationship between dance and theatre. You may not realise it when you are watching, but pantomime is a form of physical theatre. Its use of movement while acting or singing (or all three together) is a key feature of the performance genre. So, what is physical theatre? There is no right or wrong answer to this question; physical theatre is simply the most bodily expressive style today. Remember, the next time you are shouting “oh no it isn’t!”, you are engaging with a contemporary form of physical theatre.
CLOD ENSEMBLE: AN ANATOMIE Making a piece of physical theatre is a complicated, lengthy process; Culture editors Amy Pay and Sum Sze Tam spoke to Tracy Gentles, the producer of upcoming physical theatre production An Anatomie in Four Quarters, to find out how such a complex work of art comes into being
IN FOUR QUARTERS
Photos: Hugo Glendinning, Manuel
An Anatomie in Four Quarters is showing soon in the WMC. Can you tell us a little bit about it? An Anatomie was originally commissioned by Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London as a site-specific piece for their main house. The piece leads an audience to draw parallels between the anatomy of the human body and the anatomical make-up (architecture) of a theatre. This time round we are reimagining the piece for the Donald Gordon Theatre, and joining up with the Sinfonia Cymru. It’s been branded as a really different kind of show. What can the audience expect? Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s quite a ride! It is unique in the sense that each member of the small audience is central to the piece. With the show split into four quarters, the audience alter their viewing positions within each. During each quarter parts of the theatre’s inner workings are exposed, its guts, its mechanisms revealed, many of which an audience may not have seen before. The theatre is turned inside out as they move closer to the bodies of the performers. Tell us a bit about Clod Ensemble. What does your job as producer involve? Clod Ensemble is led by Artistic Directors Suzy Willson, and composer Paul Clark who writes all of Clod Ensemble’s music. They’ve been making work for almost eighteen years now and I’ve been with them for the last five. My role as Producer at Clod Ensemble is concerned with supporting our Artistic Directors, distilling ideas and putting together the elements in order to make things possible. This can be anything from building relationships with venues, finding financial support or artists to work with. How does the creative process in physical theatre differ from straight theatre?
I would think every process differs dependent on the approach of the director and the cast. With Clod Ensemble the process is very collaborative, although the structure and concepts are given and shaped by our Artistic Directors. We work with a range of physical performers who each bring their own experience and movement vocabulary to the table to create the piece in collaboration. What qualities do you think are the most important for an actor looking to go into physical theatre? I think it’s important to be open. The best physical performers I have worked with possess an openness and willingness to learn and explore. Every performer working on An Anatomie, be they from a dance background or trained in physical theatre, has a sense of exploration and a willingness to share, practice and develop, to find new ways to explore ideas non-verbally. What’s in the pipeline for Clod Ensemble’s future projects? We are currently working with Sarah Cameron, who appears in An Anatomie, to adapt a novel she has written for the stage, The Red Chair, . Also we’re working to remount an old piece, Red Ladies, which is a piece for 18 identically dressed women who descend upon a city or town to perform a series of outdoor interventions before congregating indoors to present a one-hour theatrical demonstration. If you’d like to keep in touch with what we’re doing please do watch this space: www.clodensemble.com
An Anatomie in Four Quarters is showing in the Donald Gordon Theatre, WMC, from 29-30 Nov.
making the environment relevant again?
via Dan Tucker
EntErtaInMEnt CULtUrE if i really wanted to upset the Daily mail, i would probably call up tracey emin and ask her if she would be willing to collaborate with greenpeace. “green” seemed to be the big buzz-word of the pre-recession zeitgeist, but in a time of austerity, the environment sadly seems to have taken something of a back seat, retreating once more into the composting bins of eco-hipsters. environmentalism has started to appear as self-absorbed, and at its worst, self-congratulatory; i can’t help but think of the joke about the Prius driver with one hand on the wheel and the other patting his own back. Serious concerns about humanity’s future on this planet have become muddied with branding and commercialism and the debate has been hijacked by insincere point-scoring by career politicians. But British environmentalism may have found an unlikely hero for its cause. Uncommon ground: land art in Britain 1966 – 1979 is an outstanding collection of works from some of the most iconic names in British land art, such as tony Cragg, richard long, antony gormley and David nash. Following developments in land art through the two decades that birthed modern awareness of numerous environmental issues, this exhibition functions as a return to those wholesome, hearty, almost childlike explorations of nature that make land art so appealing, as well as making some very salient points about the world around us. much of David nash’s work is reminiscent of what it was like to learn to love nature. his 1977 work, ash Dome, was a 22 year project consisting of 22 young ash trees being slowly shaped into a canopy. it instantly reminded me of those childhood games of building dens in the woods with your friends.Wooden Boulder, chronicles a three-decade-long journey of a block of wood from north Wales to the ocean, moved only by the forces of nature. like a child at play, nash lets loose the instinctual desire to shape, to create, and to give meaning to his environment. this inescapable sense of innocence permeates land art; an air of naïvety and purity that, bizarrely, serves to add to its highly provocative nature. of course, we must remember that behind each of these serene depictions of the joys of nature is an artist making a bold statement about the world that they live in. Few, however, make statements bolder than tony Cragg. his 1978 assemblage, new Stones - newton’s tones (pictured) is a striking, fifty-square-foot piece composed of hundreds of tiny plastic fragments, many of which are recognisable elements of household products. the look and texture of the piece is really quite stunning, and is definitely appealing in terms of aesthetics, made all the more pleasant by the cheesey wordplay of its title. it has that kitschy, plastic, highly tonal feel that i so love
- and ioS 7 users seem to so dislike. But it’s a bright yellow piece of plastic with the nestle logo emblazoned across that makes me realise how i’ve missed the whole point of this beautiful mass of colour. For me, Cragg is making the point that these titular new Stones, no matter how appealing, are rapidly replacing “newton’s tones”, and i think Cragg wants us to react strongly to his pretense of naturality in his presentation of these objects. like John latham’s “Derelict land art: Five Sisters”, a documentation of the disposal of waste from oil shale extraction, the piece serves as a direct challenge to society’s rather blasé attitude towards the planet. in a world where the media is obsessed with throw-away stories, and the profits of international corporations are fueled by throw-away products, art that has remained
land art is one of those rare areas of art that anyone can “get”, because there is nothing more human than wanting to participate in the world around us.
often said that art is what distinguishes people from animals, and despite the inescapably anthropocentric nature of such a judgement, i do feel that the desire to craft, to shape, and to nurture are all at the very core of the human experience. of course, the accessibility of land art should not be construed as it suffering from a deficit of artistic merit. an attitude does persist in the British cultural mindset that conceptual art somehow lacks the refinement or the rigour of mediums such as sculpture, or oil on canvas. i think that this is part-and-parcel of our “small-c” conservative culture in Britain; our inability, or more correctly, our unwillingness to depart from the comfort of traditional mediums. if you find yourself sceptical of more unconventional mediums, then take the time to enjoy roger ackling’s night and Day. the medium is exquisitely innovative - “sunlight on wood”. Yet despite the abstract sounding description, this medium is immediately familiar to all of us; ackling sketched his image using a magnifying glass to burn a smooth wooden block. the fact that he considers one of his works to be “a country sketch in the vale of the white horse” demonstrates how keen ackling is for people to feel comfortable seeing one of his pieces next to a watercolour or a marble sculpture. these challenges to our perceptions of the use of natural mediums are distilled in the work of antony gormley. one of the biggest names in British land art, gormley is an expert in provoking discussions about our perceptions of biomass, as well as our interactions with it. his two contrasting works from 1978, Flat tree (pictured) and Upright tree, respectively portray a tree sliced horizontally into dozens of discs, and one left intact, raising numerous thoughts as to how we view organic materials. all of these themes, issues and concepts come together to create an incredibly refreshing discussion of the natural world, which challenges our preconceived notions of how we should behave in our environment, and what sort of legacy that we are leaving for future generations. land art breaks down our cultural perceptions about nature, removing the commercial and political bolt-ons that have distracted from meaningful stewardship of the earth. By getting back to basics, this exhibition brings out our instinctual love for the land - the inbuilt desire of each human being to care for the planet, to contemplate our role within it, and to behave in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Be sure to catch this exhibit before it disappears after Christmas - it’s worth every minute of your time.
relevant for five decades is truly eye opening. But land art isn’t just about punchy messages of social responsibility. land art can just as quickly swerve “offmessage” and turn into a celebration of natural mediums, which is often when it’s at its best. hamish Fulton’s Seven Days documents a week long walk through the rockies in the autumn of 1978, is as accessible as it is engaging. his humble and thematically uncomplicated pieces are reminiscent of the colloquial style of the works of alfred Wainwright, who famously documented hundreds of walks in the lake District. richard long’s a line made by Walking (1967) is maybe the one piece that is simultaneously the simplest and the boldest - a path trampled into some grass near his home. these paths, formed as a product of people cutting across grassy areas, are known by numerous names - “desire lines”, “social trails”, “goat tracks” - and are all equally endearing ways to illustrate our intimate interactions with the environment. richard long may have captured his line made by Walking fifty years ago in london, but it makes me immediately think of the “desire line” by the traffic lights adjacent to the law building. this illustrates the reason why viewing the exhibition was so affectingly personal; every piece in the gallery reflects something universal, even fundamental, about our interactions with nature. land art is one of those rare areas of art that anyone can “get”, because there is nothing more human See the exhibition for yourself at the National Museum of than wanting to participate in the world around us. it’s Wales from September 28th to January 5th.
WOMEN OF FICTION Bridget Jones: diary-writer, mother, Twitter user... We love her just the way she is; a character who embodies the woman of our time, supposedly. Anne Porter explores what makes her, and many other notable female literary figures, such an exceptional personality Helen Fielding’s character first emerged in a newspaper column in the 1990s, with the witty column’s popularity leading to the character’s life stories expanding to fill a novel. Bridget is stereotypical, scatty and chaotic, but she has taught us a lot. She teaches us that our mothers are often a hindrance to our ultimate independence, she shows that having perfect hair and make-up isn’t the be all and end all, and she knows that people will love you if you are yourself. She is still popular today, partly thanks to her 2001 on-screen transformation. Despite what we love about her, Bridget has been criticised as a character. Her obsessive calorie counting (which she still endures, aged 51, in her third instalment, Mad About The Boy) and her continual hunt for happiness in a relationship is somewhat grating. Surely Fielding should have taught us that there are more important things to worry about than diets and the meaning of every single text message? Journalist Hadley Freeman argues that ‘being a woman who occasionally gets things wrong does not make you Bridget Jones because Bridget Jones is fictional’. Hadley’s quite right, but surely we can take some lessons from Bridget and other women in literature. Women are intelligent. Bridget’s academic qualifications aren’t exactly glowing (‘a Third from Bangor University’) but she occasionally shows intelligence in other ways. She works in publishing, she lives independently in London, she has a close group of friends (including ‘Shazzer. Likes to say fuck, a lot’) and she eventually works out that Daniel Cleaver is an ‘emotional fuckwit’, unlike Darcy. Bridget gets through life’s challenges, albeit in a somewhat unique way.
While bad relationships exist, so too do good ones that are very much worth the stress
Many women in literature are smart characters. Harry Potter’s Hermione regularly outsmarts her male counterparts. She is quick witted, loyal, friendly and, to say the very least,
a goody-two shoes. Her decision-making saves Ron and Harry on multiple occasions. In the second novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, she figures out who is attacking the muggles and how. In the final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, her handbag comes in very useful (who knew?) for keeping the trio safe. Similar to Hermione and Bridget is Roald Dahl’s Matilda. The little girl outsmarts her father, despite his assertion that ‘I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it’. Her quick thinking sees her out of many family difficulties, eventually letting her escape her father’s wrath through being adopted by Miss Honey. Women in literature can be seen as intelligent – just as they should be seen in reality. Our fathers are invaluable. Despite what Matilda thinks, some literary females rely on their fathers. Bridget relies on her father, and vice versa. When her father fears that Bridget’s mother is cheating on him, Bridget rushes to his aid. When Bridget is sick of her mother’s attempts to set her up with various men, she seeks consolation from her father (that said, one of these men is Mark Darcy.) In contrast to Bridget comes Scout Finch from a very different novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout, aged five and a half at the beginning, learns her life lessons from her father, Atticus. One of the most famous is: ‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’. While Scout narrates the novel, she learns about the events surrounding her from her father’s perspective. This makes her very mature. She learns how to understand others when her father tells her ‘you never really understand a person until you consider things from [their] point of view’. Scout is similar to Bridget in that she relies greatly upon her father, though Bridget doesn’t realise just how much she needs her dad.
a person. Bridget is infamously unfortunate in relationships with men. In the first diary instalment, she writes “I will not fall for any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, people with girlfriends or wives, misogynists, megalomaniacs, chauvinists, emotional fuckwits or freeloaders, perverts.” Then she falls for Daniel Cleaver, her boss, who ‘embodies all these things’. Smooth. There are ups and downs in her relationships, but her character finds happiness at the end of the first two novels. Bridget is not the only one in her friendship group who has relationship problems. Her best friend Jude is often ‘crying over [her] fuckwit boyfriend’. Bridget’s coping mechanism (burying herself in a duvet with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream when she thinks Mark Darcy doesn’t want her) is less extreme but still similar to Miss Havisham’s refusal to remove her wedding dress when she is jilted in Dickens’s Great Expectations - both seek comfort and security. Bridget shows us that while bad relationships exist, so too do good ones that are very much worth the stress. Women judge people, especially each other. The first time Bridget meets Mark at her mother’s infamous ‘Turkey Curry Buffet’, she judges him on his comical Christmas jumper. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with the central relationship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, was the basis for Bridget Jones’ Diary (note Mark’s referential surname). Elizabeth Bennet overcomes her ‘prejudices’ of to marry Mr Darcy. In contrast, Bridget shows herself to be judgemental of other women, such as Mark’s colleague Natasha. Pride and Prejudice celebrated its 200th anniversary this year, and its messages are still as relevant as those in modern literature today.
Women in Literature: A Lesson in Self Worth These comparison points show that fictional women have a lot to teach us, despite being mere characters in representations of real life. Perhaps the most important lesson that literature teaches us about women is that we Relationships can be terrible, but also great. should be ourselves, no matter how hapless Family relationships within Bridget Jones’ that self may be (looking at you, Miss Jones). Diary aren’t always steady, but they are noted and seen as influential in the development of
THIS CHARMING MAN
This month saw the publication of Autobiography, the long-awaited memoir of Morrissey – bequiffed singer, lyricist and iconoclast famed for fronting the 1980’s alt-rock band The Smiths. Owen Spalding tells us his views on the Penguin Classic Usually reserved for such literary luminaries as Plato, Hardy and Nabokov, Autobiography was published, at Morrissey’s request, by Penguin’s venerable Classics imprint. The news that the memoir would achieve a status never before achieved by an inaugural work understandably came laced with controversy. I can confirm, however, that Penguin’s decision to publish Autobiography as such is entirely justified. Beautifully written in a lyrical prose laced with an inimitable, deadpan humor only Morrissey himself could conjure, Autobiography is a joy to read. Smithsrelated talk is kept to an absolute minimum, occupying a mere 70 pages in this 457page opus. This does not prove problematic, however. The brilliance of Autobiography lies not with Morrissey’s brief account of his time spent fronting the seminal Manchester band but in the self-portrait he paints of the man himself. From his school days, ‘Kafkaesque in its nightmare’, spent dodging the brutality of his teachers, to the teenage years spent locked in the bedroom of his mother’s Manchester terrace immersed in the poetry of Auden, Wilde and Housman, we are given a glimpse at chapters of the Morrissey legacy that are seldom explored. More tantalizing still is a hint at Morrissey’s ever-mythologized sexuality. His account of the two-year relationship he shared with one
Jake Owen Walters during the 90s is a truly moving vignette. ‘For the first time’ in my life…’ Morrissey recounts, ‘…the eternal ‘I’ becomes ‘we’, as, finally, I can get on with someone’. On several occasions, Autobiography teeters on the edge becoming a platform for Morrissey to vent his rage at everyone who has ever wronged him. His account of the infamous court case involving Morrissey and Mike Joyce, the former Smiths drummer, in which Joyce successfully won the right to a full 25% of the Smiths’ posthumous revenue, clocks in at a mammoth 40 pages. Even for a die-hard Mozophile (the affectionate nickname ascribed to devout followers of the Moz), having to endure the rant of the aggrieved singer borders on the tedious at times. It is, however, the brilliance of Morrissey’s written style, his acerbic wit and his ability to hilariously tear into his adversaries with such rancor that saves such anecdotes from becoming stagnant. Although we can forget any chance of a Smiths reunion, I can only hope that the success of Autobiography provides the muchneeded impetus for a new musical effort from Morrissey - a pop star unquestionably as important now as he has ever been. As the man himself solemnly reminds us, ‘I will sing. If not, I will have to die’.
Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy and Morrissey’s Autobiography are both available in bookstores now
I’M AN ARISTOCRAT, GET ME OUT OF HERE 21 NOV, RWCMD For one night only, theatre company Gonzo Moose brings to Wales the hilarious, swashbuckling tale of a hero during the French Revolution. The show will bring you action, romance, and ‘death-defying French accents’ - not an event to miss!
KATHRYN ASHILL: FOR FUTURE REFERENCE 25 OCT - 24 NOV, CHAPTER After a visit to a psychic in 2007, Neath’s Kathryn Ashill became fascinated with seers. Her ongoing autobiographical project features drawings, installations, films and performances that question the accuracy of readings, knowing the future and storytelling in life.
LLANAST! (CARNAGE) 21-23 NOV, SHERMAN CYMRU A Welsh adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s Carnage, this contemporary comedy of manners upturns the mature world of two parents and reduces them to squabbling children. A modern classic, this show guarantees a hilariously chaotic evening.
PARALLEL LINES 20-30 NOV, CHAPTER The premiere of a 2012 Wales Drama Award winning play, this drama is about 15-year-old Steph and her teacher Simon when they are implicated in mysterious accusations. From critically acclaimed company Dirty Protest, this show explores themes of class, truth and power.
AN EVENING WITH BRYAN FERRY 20 NOV, ST DAVID’S HALL Having just come from a stint writing the score to The Great Gatsby, Bryan Ferry will be playing for one night only with both his band and the newly formed Bryan Ferry Orchestra.
PERFORMING MEDICINE: THE ANATOMY SEASON 26 NOV-6 DEC, WMC To coincide with An Anatomie In Four Quarters, this short season explores the relationship between anatomy and performance. Free talks, art workshops and movement sessions led by industry professionals will open up the topics for attendants in a fun, accessible way.
CHIN-CHIN 26-30 NOV, NEW THEATRE British acting veterans Simon Callow (Shakespeare In Love) and Felicity Kendal (The Good Life) star in a revamp of Billetdoux’s French comedy. The two get together in Paris after their partners have an affair with each other, a story both funny and sad.
GREG DAVIES 27 NOV, ST DAVID’S HALL The Inbetweeners’ headmaster takes the second solo tour of his comedy career on a repeat lap around the UK. Guaranteed to be hilarious, scathing and a humungous presence, the stand-up gives fans another chance to see him live and unrestricted.
BEYOND: TWO SOULS AVAILABLE ON: 3DS, 2DS DEVELOPER: QUANTIC DREAM OUT NOW
3/5 This month, Adam Bown looks at the spiritual successor to Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain. Is it worthy of being called an autumn blockbuster? in a fight, whilst Madison Paige was chiefly in Heavy Rain to be exploited. Furthermore, the strong performances from the cast - Ellen Page in particular is excellent in the central role - and an exquisite score by Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe and Normand Corbeil, help to sell the dramatic elements of the story, allowing players to get invested in the events transpiring.
Sometimes expectations can make or break an opinion on a piece of work. For instance, the original ending to Mass Effect 3 caused controversy when it brought to a close a series as anticlimatically as possible, almost like waiting for the encore at an Iron Maiden gig, yet instead of coming out with ‘Aces High’ they do a song and dance routine to ‘Sexy and I Know It’. In this particular case, anticipation for Beyond: Two Souls was mute at best, this being writer/director David Cage’s follow up to 2010’s Heavy Rain: a neo-noir/sci-fi/thriller that, despite having some shining moments, almost hung itself by its own rampaging plot threads. However, what kept Quantic Dream’s latest offering interesting was the partcipation of A-list actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, as their performances coupled with David Cage’s visual direction - had the potential to be one of the better collaborations seen in recent times. Beyond : Two Souls follows the story of Jodie Holmes (Ellen Page) ,who has been tied to an entity know as Aiden since birth, across 15 years of her life split into 24 chapters, which range from Jodie being a young girl at a paranormal research facility, to being hunted down by the CIA.
First and foremost, it is a visceral experience that takes place across a wide-array of locales and allows director David Cage to to create technically impressive scenes - a personal favourite being a time-lapse in the chapter ‘Homeless’ which transitions from day to night whilst Ellen Page sings artist Beck’s ‘Lost Cause’. Cage’s script is on the whole much more tightly focused here than in his previous outing. It was also refreshing to see Cage had dropped the rampant objectification of female characters with Jodie being strong and able to hold her own
An experience rather than a challenge
However, one thing that has not been mentioned is the actual gameplay; and this is where we begin to find the first major problems. It is minimalistic at best - Jodie’s actions usually revolve around Quick Time Events or the much taked about ‘bullet-time’ mechanic, which involves moving the right analogue stick in the same way as Jodie’s motion, which led to several frustrating failures as some of the motions are ambiguous to say the least. It is also possible to explore the semi-linear environments with either Jodie or the entity Aiden, whose mechanics are controlled using the triggers and analogue sticks. However, unlike Jodie, Aiden has more of a free-roam aspect and can interact with certain objects and NPCs to solve puzzles or create sheer chaos. This is exemplified in the chapter ‘Hunted’ whereby a series of opportunities to posess NPCs leads to one of the best action set-pieces of the game. Although this does bring us on to perhaps Beyond: Two Souls’ biggest flaw: it is far more of a film than it is a game, an experience rather than a challenge, and that is what will make it suffer in the gaming community - it may well be too passive an experience for the ‘hardcore’ gamers of today. Nevertheless, it is bolstered by a great central performance from Ellen Page, solid direction by David Cage, a phenomenal score and has a story with an emotional punch that shows.
POKEMON X&Y AVAILABLE ON: 3DS, 2DS DEVELOPER: GAME FREAK OUT NOW
4/5 Now in its 6th Generation, Nintendo’s series of Pokémon games have made their jump into 3D. Francesca Hepburn sees if the latest offering live up to the series’ reputation their first Pokémon game. The pace of the game has improved compared to previous games as, whilst the basis is the same, there is always something to do and the game has a feel of fluidity that it arguably lacked before. Just as in previous games, each Pokémon can evolve when they meet certain conditions. However one of the most exciting features
If there is one Nintendo franchise that never seems to grow old, it is most certainly Pokémon. Whether you fell in love with it through the video games, the TV series or the trading cards - for the vast majority of us Pokémon was everywhere when we were children. The series has continued to influence generation after generation, as evident in its continued success at the top of sales charts and a monopoly of merchandise wherever you go. The Nintendo DS not only saw 2 whole new generations of Pokémon games, but also two well-received remakes of the Game Boy Color classics Gold and Silver. Now the time has some for the series to make the jump to the Nintendo 3DS, but can it offer anything substantially new? The biggest noticeable change in Pokémon X and Y is the big upgrade in terms of graphics and general aesthetics. The colours
are more vivid, the movements of the characters are much smoother than previous games and the 3D enhances the game whilst not being over used. Despite being visually upgraded, Pokémon X and Y have still managed to keep the old ‘antique’ look of the original Pokémon games that are loved by all players. As well as better visuals, the game can be personalised with features such as the ability to change the clothes that your character wears along with the fairly wide range of clothing and hair choices. Whilst this isn’t why most people buy the game, it makes it feel more personal to the player and adds to the overall entertainment. Surprisingly each Pokémon can still only learn a maximum of four moves, which can be quite frustrating when having to choose which move to forget; although traditionalists would argue that changing this would be giving too much leeway for the players, which particularly for those more experienced isn’t necessarily a good thing. Also adding more slots would affect what is a very tried-and-tested formula, which the makers of Pokémon X and Y have clearly made an effort not to change, no doubt to please players for whom this is not
There is always something to do and the game has a feel of fluidity that it arguably lacked before.
added is Mega Evolutions, which can be triggered once per battle when a Pokémon is carrying a particular item. This not only increases their strength, but there is also the possibility of their ability or types changing too, along with an awesome new look. This is an exciting new feature that all players can appreciate once they have ventured into the Kalos region. Although probably created to accommodate for a younger audience, quite a trivial feature that adds to the game is the mini games available with your Pokémon. You can now feed them to create a stronger bond, which positively affects the actual gameplay, increasing stats and general strength. There are three different mini games on offer, which include dragging the correct fruit to the right Pokémon and a catching game. All of these have three difficulty levels and are a good way to have a break from the actual gameplay itself. Overall Pokémon X and Y are impressive and suitable installments for the series. The new look given to the game really works and the 3D feature is an added bonus making the battles feel just that bit more real. The fact that making the game feel brand new whilst sticking to the core values of the series has clearly been at the forefront when the game was developed and, as a result, they have done justice to a long running series.
RAYMAN LEGENDS AVAILABLE ON: WII U, PC, XBOX 360, PS3, PS VITA DEVELOPER: UBISOFT OUT NOW
Rhys Thomas Elliott rediscovers the whimsical charm of 2D platformers with the crazy and colourful Rayman Legends Rayman Origins was a game that resonated with many. The tight 2D platforming coupled with a cutesy aesthetic and musical charm was a neat throwback to the good old days. Rayman Legends builds upon the foundations Origins created, and then some. However, Legends had a bit of a rocky start. It was initially intended to be a Wii U exclusive. Due to release in the early days, the game was delayed for months to accommodate a simultaneous release for Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PC and PS Vita. I myself played it on the PS3. The game kicks off with Rayman and the gang being awoken after a 100 year nap to find out that the 10 princesses and teensies of the land have been captured by the dark teensies. The plot is appropriately minimal, but its charm and tonguein-cheek nature caused me to crack a smile on more than one occasion.
The aim of the game in Legends is to save the captured princesses and teensies. This is achieved across over 120 levels, with many collectables and goodies to find along the way; it’s a perfectionist’s dream. There are 700 teensies to collect, with what can be taken as the endgame being unlocked at 400 teensies. The core game took me roughly 8 hours to complete, but there is so much more quality content to this game. Each level has a certain amount of lums (the game’s currency) to collect and teensies to save, and you are accordingly given a gold, silver or bronze trophy for your efforts. You are heavily rewarded for fully exploring the levels in the form of Lucky Tickets, which unlock extra lums, enemy concepts and extra levels. There are also daily and weekly challenges, which pit you against the globe or your friends in addictive leaderboard-based challenges. That’s not all, Legends features: 40 remastered levels from Rayman Origins, time trials, an addictive football minigame and survival levels. That’s a lot of Rayman for thirty quid. The visual presentation of the game is top-notch. The hand-
That’s a lot of Rayman for 30 quid
drawn style visuals and quirky characters radiate off the screen, while the character animations are also extremely charming and fluid. For me though, the details in the environments are the visual high point in Legends. The game features an array of themed worlds for you to explore; everything from the standard water and snow levels to the bewilderingly bizarre world based on the contents of a fridge. Legends proves that a good art direction trumps pure processing power any day. The gameplay in Rayman Legends builds upon the foundations set forward in Origins. It involves swimming,
swinging, leaping, stomping and punching your way through whatever hazards, obstacles and enemies the game throws your way, and it’ll be throwing a lot your way. As with Origins, Legends can be played co-operatively with 1-3 friends locally. There is definitely some fun to be had with Legends as a party game; the sense of camaraderie in working together to explore the levels with friends is pretty fulfilling. Tempo and timing are central to the platforming experience here. This is perhaps why the soundtrack is so refined and varied. The soundtrack features contributions from the likes of Incubus, Slimkid3, and DJ Nu-Mark. The high point in this game comes in the form of the rhythm-based levels. In these levels, every interaction with the environment cues a musical element in the track. For example, on one level I collected 30 lums in rapid succession, only to hear a 30 note, face-melting guitar solo; the feedback is extremely satisfying and is handsdown one of my best gaming experiences this year. Legends is about the fun factor, and nothing but the fun factor. No DLC, no season pass, just pure gaming ecstasy. The astonishing gameplay, charm, visuals and soundtrack of Legends all mix together to fuse a cocktail of gaming goodness. Buy it.
SHADOWS OF THE DAMNED AVAILABLE ON: XBOX, PS3 DEVELOPER: GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURER OUT NOW
Anthony Coote goes to Hell and back with the most phallic gun you’ll ever fire in the 2011 grindhouse extravaganza Shadows of the Damned “Shadows of the Damned” is a game produced by Suda 51, Grasshopper studios and EA for the PS3 and Xbox 360. The game centres round Garcia “fucking” Hotspur as he refers to himself, who travels into the underworld to save his suicidal girlfriend Paula from Fleming “Lord of Demons” who wishes to make her his mistress. He is aided by his gun and demon sidekick Johnson. In case you hadn’t guessed by now this game is full of sexual innuendo and jokes probably more at home in a B-list movie than a videogame, however this turns out to be one of the games charms rather than a short coming as it contrasts and compliments the hellish surroundings Garcia finds himself in. The game aspires to pay homage to the grindhouse genre of cinema, characterised by excessive violence and sexual content, and it does this exceptionally well. This particular choice of art direction actually suits the videogame medium very well making for an immersive and alternative picture of Hell that seems almost credible. The world is exceptionally well imagined with great characters and a solid storyline. The game takes a five act structure split into levels. Of course, at the end of each Act there is a boss fight and here is where the gameplay sometimes falls flat.
While some bosses are great such as the operatic steampunk singer, others seem very lazy. They also vary wildly in the level of challenge they present. Even with the sisters grim getting progressively harder and other bosses ranging from easy to fairly hard to defeat none of them present much of a challenge leading to a slight anti-climax. This leads us to one of the key issues of the game. Yes the method of character control is dated and the camera follows you too eagerly, but for the experienced among us it may be too easy. Once I’d finished on the demon hunter (normal) difficulty I replayed it on hard but the level of difficulty didn’t increase that much. You get many guns throughout the game
and these all have their unique strengths and faults, but the largest weapon upgrades are Automatic. You can still upgrade via Red Gems and later buy these and Health from Charlie the Daemon using the lesser White Gems which all adds up to make the weapon system more a decoration than
An immersive and alternative picture of hell
intrinsic element, but when your gun is a wise cracking skull with penis envy this shouldn’t matter. This game is more of a fun experience than an actual challenge and this is okay. There’s enough story and humour to carry it through and make it a thoroughly enjoyable 11 and a half hours. Even though the game was made in 2011 it does look slightly dated and texture pop-in is a constant presence. The art direction here is very creative, with the game as a whole pleasing to the eye, even if Garcia does run like a Jerry Anderson Puppet. This almost makes up for the shortfalls in textures and animation, but with the standard of graphics in the current generation so high you can’t help but feel a little let down. The sound design on the whole is also commendable despite occasional lip-sync issues, and the music while not as metal as I would have like for hell suits the environment well and all the effects make the game extremely immersive. Despite all it’s faults I can’t help but recommend the game. If you like the gratuitous gross out horrors of the 70’s and 80’s then this game is for you. It is also the most normal by far of Suda 51’s games (though that doesn’t take much) and it would be a shame to overlook it.
SQUARE EYED THE QUENCH TV ROUNDUP
AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK With Marvel’s ‘Avengers Assemble!’ standing as the third highest grossing film of all time and every frequent release being another smash hit, the company has undoubtedly mastered the art of box office success. But now they have turned their attention to the small screen with a desire to rival the dominance of competitors DC. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is shaping up to be an explosive, character driven thrill-ride. The pilot episode opens with the introduction of the male protagonist, Agent Ward (Brett Dalton), in a scene that acts as a stereotypical spy scenario that, naturally, escalates into violence, yet still has the element of humour which has been evident in Avengers Assemble! and the Iron Man trilogy. Shortly after the confrontation, special-guest star Cobie Smulders (reprising her role as Agent Maria Hill) is revealed questioning Ward about “what S.H.I.E.L.D stands for”. After Ward extends the acronym Hill asks what it means for him; typically Joss Whedon (director of Avenger’s Assemble! and guest director of the show’s pilot episode) utilises this moment for a classic piece of satirical humour with Ward replying “that somebody really wanted our initials to spell out shield”. This is not the first cheap one-liner and, although most are witty and clever, there are some recurring jokes that are annoying and get old really, really quickly: namely Fitz and Simmons. As with Avenger’s Assemble!, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D offers a team dynamic in the form of “Level 7”; a group of specially selected agents chosen by Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg; the walking, talking dead agent killed by Loki in Avengers) who are on the hunt for a man with superhuman abilities as Coulson believes other interested parties will be looking for him as well. Coulson’s team consists of young, inexperienced, scientific specialists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge); who, based on their irritating collaborations, may as well be the same character; Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), who has a mysterious past of her own; and Skye (Chloe Bennet) – whose fascination with superheroes and suspicion of S.H.I.E.L.D leads to her recruitment by the end of the episode. These characters are immediately established as a mismatched grouping but it will be interesting to see how they work together and ultimately form a team. Skye seems to be “a risk” but there is no reason to doubt Whedon’s character development. ChArlie Andrews
‘Orange is the New Black’ is a new comedy-drama series based on the author’s real experiences within prison. This show really will have you rolling around on the ground laughing. After watching the first episode there is no going back. Entering prison is Piper Kerman, an attractive young woman with a classically suburban upbringing, who was caught for delivering a suitcase of drug money for her ex-lover. In prison she encounters the outrageous rules she must follow in prison, the racially segregated system and the sexually obsessed lives of the women inside. The events within the prison act as a paradigm for American politics and represent many of society’s flaws and ethical dilemmas. Alongside this it is thoroughly entertaining. Watching what seems to be a relatively ‘normal’ young woman encountering the new ‘rules’ she has to live by while inside is relatable and equally hilarious. From the ver y first episode you won’t be able to tear yourselves away from being a part of her journey. You’ll watch how after being ‘star ved out’ by the prison chef, dealing with the lesbian advances from someone nicknamed “crazy eyes” and tr ying to keep a long distance relationship going with her fiancé she progresses towards a different psychological mind set and comes to term with the realities of her life. Brilliant and witty one liners are used CONSTANTLY to unfold the realities of life inside prison which gives the show a light hearted spirit. Watching the flashbacks of Piper’s and her fellow inmate’s lives will leave you attached to the personal experiences of the great variety of characters and can really become an emotional experience. By the end of the series you see a family of inmates with their extreme differences pushing through the culture of prison together and a liberated Piper who knows what she really wants. Alys TApp
enTerTAinmenT film & Tv
MOON Sci-fi: In popular culture this has become a cheap term, conjuring up images of Michael Bay’s giant robots, Tom Cruise looking surprised and blue Pocahontas. Gone are the days of gritty credible sci-fi, of HAL not opening pod bay doors, of Deckard stalking the streets of futuristic Los Angeles. Or so we thought. Shining through the veil of blockbuster mediocrity is a film that should be considered a modern masterpiece, the first true science fiction film since Cameron’s 1986 Aliens. This film is Moon, brainchild of director/ writer Duncan Jones’ love for the true science fiction of the 20th century. Set several decades in a foreseeable future, where clean power is provided by helium3 fusion, the story centres on the lone crew member of Sarang base, a helium 3 mining outpost on the far side of the moon. This crew member, Sam Bell (masterfully performed by Sam Rockwell), is nearing the end of his three year shift, and has been away from Earth for too long. With only Gerty the base computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company, Sam begins to hallucinate, becoming increasingly distracted from his dangerous work. The feeling of hallucination is only enhanced by the white claustrophobic interior of the base, putting in mind the Discovery from 2001 A Space Odyssey. Eventually this hallucination leads Sam into an accident on the lunar surface; waking up in the
The nostalgia this film evokes is palpable, and only adds to the torrent of emotion as the film reaches its intense climactic chapter. medical bay, he has no memory of the accident. Spurred on by Gerty’s deflection of his questioning about the accident, Sam ventures out onto the lunar surface, finding what appears to be another Sam Bell at the site of the accident. Being unconscious but alive, this apparent clone is brought back to the base by Sam, and when awakened appears to be like him in every way. As the end of his shift approaches, and cut off from Earth by communication failure, the two Sams doubt their apparent hallucination, and determine to find answers to their situation. The nostalgia this film evokes is palpable, and only adds to the torrent of emotion as the film reaches its intense climactic chapter. The atmosphere and setting of this film is masterfully achieved by artist Gavin Rothery, a close friend of the director, who creates
STARRING: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey YEAR : 2009 DIRECTOR: Duncan Jones
a lunar base that is at once futuristic and realistic. Using models as well as CGI for realistic effect, you truly get a sense of being isolated on the moon, the utilitarian tech reminding one of the Nostromo from Alien. CGI is also put to amazing effect in creating the two Sams, heightening the already intense sense of hallucination. Along with the minimalist setting the film’s score, by Clint Mansell, is at once eerie and full of tension, perfectly complementing the plot. The plot itself is at once nostalgic and original, drawing on the corporate conspiracy theme common to sci-fi of the late 70’s and 80’s. But instead of the large casts and broad setting intrinsic to films such as Blade Runner and Aliens, Moon takes the genre in a decidedly intimate direction. The main character is isolated, accompanied only by machines, and at the same time Gerty cannot be seen as a companion, but as the representation of corporate authority. Even when the second Sam appears, he should not be considered a separate character, but as an extension of the original, making this film unique in that it can be considered the dramatic monologue and struggle of Sam alone. In Rockwell’s best role so far, he presents a character that is sympathetic and funny, heartbreaking and utterly human. All these factors together create a cinematic experience that is vastly different from socalled current sci-fi, a film that does not rely on special effects, a film that creates a truly powerful dramatic situation that will have a fan of true science fiction enraptured from beginning to end. In spite of recent attempts at a return to good science fiction, such as the ill-written Prometheus and clichéd Oblivion, Moon will stand out as a modern example of what true science fiction should be. And with a possible loosely-related sequel coming out in a few years, Mute, hopefully the tradition of credible sci-fi can be resurrected. Oli riChArds
Save the day Kayleigh Chan is seriously excited about the upcoming 50th anniversary episode of doctor Who. you should be too - and here’s why.
This month Doctor Who turns fifty. Whovians across the world have been eagerly awaiting the date, savouring every little bit of information that the BBC have drip fed into the public consciousness. The fiftieth anniversary celebrations are vast and global, culminating in the premiere of the new episode The Day of the Doctor. Picture the scene. It’s Saturday November 23rd 1963. The world is still in shock and mourning after the assassination of JFK just a day previous. You sit down for dinner at 5.15 and turn on the television. An old man ‘from another time, another world’ whisks away his granddaughter and her two school teachers… in a police box. Fast forward fifty years and the entire world is in preparation for The Day of the Doctor. The 75-minute episode, shot in 3D, will be simulcast in cinemas throughout the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand not to mention on TV in over seventy-five countries. The eagerly anticipated episode has been billed as an event. And with sell out cinema showings, it seems that Doctor Who is reclaiming this Saturday night as its own. In a time when catch up TV dominates, it is a testament to the show’s history and production team that there is such a buzz surrounding it. The Day of the Doctor is written by current showrunner Steven Moffatt and features an all-star cast. The tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler are back, as played by David Tennant and Billie Piper, and will be joining Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman, the current occupants of the TARDIS. It will pick up where we left off in May, with a cliff hanger that has sparked debate amongst the online forums. Just who is John Hurt’s character? We know that he is The Doctor, but from what time? Past? Future? Or is he an amalgamation of all of them? A lot has changed since The Doctor, played by William Hartnell, set off on that first adventure. The new episode will be shown in 3D, unimaginable for a 1963 audience content with a black and white set and two channels. Secondly, we live in a faster paced world; what was an acceptable 25 minute episode back then would barely pass as a pre-title sequence nowadays. Doctor Who has defied all expectations from its beginnings as a drama the BBC was reluctant to make in 1963 to its flagship brand of the new millennium. During the build up to the fiftieth anniversary broadcast there will be a range of Doctor Who focused programming across radio and television. Amongst these, one of the most anticipated is the docu-drama, An Adventure in Space and Time. The 90-minute film explains the story of Doctor Who’s creation and the production of
Since its return in 2005, Doctor Who has become an unstoppable force
the first few episodes. Viewers may be surprised to find out just how many obstacles were in the way to creating the first episodes. Written by life long fan and Doctor Who regular, Mark Gatiss, the film is his ‘love-letter to Doctor Who.’ Originally running from 1963 to 1989, what is now referred to as ‘The Classic Series’, Doctor Who enjoyed twenty-six years as a primetime BBC show. When William Hartnell decided to leave the show in 1966, the show’s producers were left with a difficult decision, as documented in Gatiss’ drama. And so the idea of ‘regeneration’ was born, which allowed the show to continue with a brand new leading man. During the Classic era seven men took on the title role; the most notable of which was Tom Baker, who played the fourth Doctor for seven years. Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor is so iconic that his long scarf and love of jelly babies is still associated with the character. A 1996 TV movie saw the brand brought back for a brief time but received a poor reception, meaning that fans would have to wait another nine years before the show returned for good. Since its return in 2005, Doctor Who has become an unstoppable force. It has become a staple in the Saturday night schedule, not just in the UK but also with 80 million other viewers in over 200 countries. The demand for Doctor Who was demonstrated by the reception of the one-off programme, Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, which was simulcast across the globe and revealed the casting of the twelfth Doctor. Filming for Peter Capaldi’s first series in the title role is due to begin in December, when Twitter will typically be on the lookout for any sign of him on Cardiff streets. One of the fantastic things about having Doctor Who filmed in Cardiff is that the locations used are instantly recognisable. Not only that, but it is also possible to discover filming taking place, as many did for the upcoming episode outside both the National Museum of Wales and Doctor Who Experience in the bay. You may be surprised to watch old episodes back and realise just how many university buildings get used as sets. Whilst there is yet to be any official events organised in Cardiff for the anniversary, the Doctor Who Experience is once again organising exclusive TARDIS tours as part of the celebrations. Available to purchase up to December 1st, fans have the opportunity to tour the actual TARDIS set, just a short walk from the Experience at Roath Lock Studios. The Day of the Doctor will see the hero face his biggest challenge yet. Even if you’re not a fan, you won’t want to miss this television event.
ben foSter Leanne dixon sat down to chat with doctor Who maestro ben foster, the conductor and orchestrator of the soundtrack to the time Lord’s adventures. Hi Ben, how does it feel working on a show that you loved watching growing up? It’s a big responsibility working on a show that you loved because you want to make sure that it is the way you want it to be, but also that other people are going to enjoy it. It’s a thrill, and it doesn’t really feel like work sometimes, even though the schedules are pretty tough and the nights are pretty late, instead it does have an element of doing something that’s a real treat and doing something that’s collectively exciting. People are really looking forward to seeing the next episode, and I’m the same really, so when we get to see the new episodes and we are working on the music, it is a really exciting process.
We are always delighted when a concert sells out so quickly! We first did the Doctor Who prom in 2008 and to bring it back this was obviously very exciting both for us and the audience. We’ve toured in Australia, we are going back there in 2014 and hopefully there will be other tours in the future, as there is a great audience worldwide. But hopefully we won’t forget that we can perform this music in the UK and there will be more concerts to come. The music is recognised in its own right and that’s fantastic, as is the fact that it’s available on CD. The record label Silva Screen have been incredibly supportive in putting the music out so that people can enjoy it away from the TV show. It’s great that Murray writes such strong themes that people can recognise them away from the show itself, and I think that helps the concerts, it also helps the CD and it also helps people to be able to play the music away from the show and be able to imagine and remember the pictures, which I think is an important part of music for picture. I think the Doctor Who scores appeal to so many people for that reason alone, which is that they can listen to them in their daily lives, whilst on the train or jogging or walking the dog, and they can escape into the world of the Doctor simply by listening to the music. It’s a fantastically powerful thing that exists separately to the show itself and which we are delighted about.
What is your relationship with [composer] Murray Gold and what is your role as orchestrator? I’ve worked with Murray now since 2005 so we have a very clear, and very well organised relationship. We are also very good friends which certainly helps when you are in a bit of a pinch, because we rely on each other. I love working on Doctor Who with him and the music he writes is full of life, love and character, and it’s a pleasure to orchestrate. My role as orchestratror is to bring to life Murray’s piano sketches: sometimes he will write in a more detailed way, sometimes its just a piano sketch, which I will then transform into an orchestral form. The process of bringing Doctor Who to life is one that involves the National Orchestra of Wales as very much the heart of the sound of the music and they are people we really rely on to bring the music to life. They do an amazing job of recording a lot of music in a very short space of time but not in a way that is boring, they do it in a way that is full of life and commitment, and really the music of Doctor Who wouldn’t be the same without them. You’ve already mentioned the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the life they bring to the music of the show. How has your relationship with them developed over the years? I’m very clear about what we can achieve in a short space of time and I know the individual players pretty well, so when I write the orchestrations I think of them personally, I think of who might be playing this part and what character they can bring to it. To my mind they really are the Doctor Who orchestra and they always will be. I hope we will always be recording the music for the show with them; they are a very important part of it. The Doctor Who Prom sold out two shows in less than an hour this year, are you happy that the music of the show is recognised in its own right?
When you were first approached to be a part of the show did you still expect it to be running now? I guess so, because the show ran for such a long time before, and there was always the hope that they would bring it back. I’m not surprised because as soon as it returned, you realised how much it had been missed and how a new generation of fans were ready to take it on and love it as much as the previous generation did, who of course still love it now. So it’s a massive shared experience not just in the UK but all around the world.
I’m very clear about what we can achieve in a short space of time
My favourite piece from the show is Goodbye Pond, what is yours? I’d have to say The Long Song from The Rings of Akhatan episode. We performed it at the proms, and it’s a really anthemic and joyful piece. What else you are working on at the moment? A series for the BBC called Hidden Kingdom, which is a three part nature drama about the smallest creatures on the planet, which should be broadcast at the end of 2013. I’m composing, conducting and orchestrating the music, and hopefully it’s going to be really great.
Gareth roberts Gareth roberts has been writing within the Doctor Who universe since the 1990s. Leanne Dixon asks him how and why he came to write lines for the world famous time how long have you been a fan of Doctor Who and how does it feel to work on a show you’re such a fan of? I can narrow it down to December 1972, when I was 4 years old. I was watching Jon Pertwee in the first episode of ‘The Three Doctors’. Obviously I didn’t understand what the doctors were but I vividly remember it. It intrigued me, it was very different to anything that was on television. When Tom Baker took over a couple of years later, that was when I became really wrapped up. I was fascinated by him. He felt very much like my Doctor Who, it was as if he was beamed down from another planet to play that part. I loved his strange rudeness. He behaved like a kid yet at the same time was very adult, remote and strange. In those days, with no video recorders, you only got to see something once if you were lucky. Television was much more of an event, it was like a play. It came on and that was it, so you had to carry your memories of it with you, which meant you took a lot more in. how did you get into this job? I’d been working in television for about ten years. People of my age and younger had all grown up with Doctor Who and it had come to the point where you thought ‘Well why isn’t it on?!’ Growing up it was one of those continuous shows, like Coronation Street or Eastenders. Suddenly you had a mass gathering at the BBC and they went ahead and brought it back in 2005. I had worked with Russell T. Davies before at Granada and I wrote my first episode in 2006, which went out in 2007. It’s a very strange feeling because it had been off air for so long and was regarded as a bit naff! Then it came back and it was hugely popular, and still is. It has gone back to being a kind of perennial, it feels like a fixture, like a soap, a long-runner. so, how did you make the transition from working on soaps to working on Doctor Who? Soaps gave me a good grounding. With soaps you learn so much, about production, what can and can’t be done, what kind of scenes to write and where to cut. Before the return of Doctor Who the storylines tended to have a problem, the cast dealt with it and then just let it go. There were big emotions, terror, joy, fun and solving a mystery. What Russell did was
expand it and put in a real feeling of ‘what would this feel like and what would it be like to be travelling through time and space?’ He introduced the emotions of modern television. It expanded as a drama. So, having worked on the soaps, it was great to be writing magical realism, where you treat everything as if it was real.
With Doctor Who every so often it changes ... the lead actor changes, the design changes, the feel of it changes What is it like working with russell t. Davies and steven Moffat? I’ve known them both as friends for a very long time. It is quite daunting and occasionally you do sort of get the willies! What’s great about them is you learn so much. They’re both very different writers with different approaches. I’ve learnt so much, things I had never considered, like the more technical side of writing scripts, the difference between writing a soap scene or a drama scene. They’re big ideas men, they come up with daring, sometimes scary thoughts and you think ‘Oh my god, what if everyone hates it!?’ But they’re bold, they will really go for it. When I first started in television there was a general feeling of ‘oh, we better not frighten the horses’. Now, largely due to the success of people like Russell and Steven, people want something that is going to make them go, ‘what the hell was that?’ how do you think the more recent series of Doctor Who compares with classic Doctor Who? are you excited about the discovery of the lost episodes? In a way, the old episodes were sometimes much scarier. We have all sorts of compliance these days where you very rarely see blood in Doctor Who. In the old days there was buckets of it, with really horrible things happening to people! I was watching some of the rediscovered episodes and there is a lot of sadism and people being very nasty.
Join Quench as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Doctor Who broadcast. We still have that but it’s quite shocking when you look back. I think, in general, 60s and 70s television was a lot more squeamish about things like sex and nudity than we are, but could be quite violent. I was hugely excited about the lost episodes, I stayed up until late to watch them straight away. It was a surreal feeling. It’s been in your head for thirty, forty years and suddenly it’s there. It’s like rediscovering something from history, like a new work of Leonardo Da Vinci turning up!
What Russell did was expand it and put in a real feeling of ‘what would this feel like and what would it be like to be travelling through time and space?’ Considering your work on the sarah Jane adventures, what do you think are the differences between writing for children and family? Writing for children can actually be a lot more serious. Children will pay much more attention to the plot and they will notice things more. A few times in Sarah Jane a scene would last about five minutes just explaining the premise of something, you wouldn’t really risk that in Doctor Who. Douglas Adams once said: ‘the jokes are there for the adults, the plot is there for the kids’. Stories are new to children and you have to respect that. It’s difficult because writing Doctor Who is so unlike writing anything else, you can’t compare it to anything else. It’s very fast moving, and the tone changes within a few seconds. It’s a very hard job and, if I may say so, a very unique skill to have! What do you think is the secret to the show’s longevity and can you see it changing over the next 50 years?
It changes all the time. If you look at the first episode of Coronation Street, for example, it’s still recognisably the same show that it is today. With Doctor Who every so often it changes. The lead actor changes, the design changes, the feel of it changes. That’s part of the reason that it has gone on for so long. Different writers, producers, doctors and companions come in and consequently every so often you are being presented with something entirely new. It wasn’t built into the format when it started, it was an accidental thing, but it has become the icing on the cake of the show. You can look at clips from 1965, 1975, 2005, or even 2015 soon enough, and they’ll all look totally different. What do you think it is about Doctor Who that attracts such devoted fans and why it appeals to both adults and children? Every episode is somebody’s first episode. One thing that’s very important is to keep a sense of wonder about the series. You have to constantly remind the viewers of how amazing it is! Say you are a five year old girl now, you are going to tune in next year to Peter Capaldi, which will be a whole new show to you. So in a way, every series is the first series. the fans really are so devoted, there are a lot of hardcore Whovians. Definitely but there are also a hell of a lot of people who aren’t that into it, yet still watch it fairly religiously. You have varying degrees of your audience and you are always trying to hold that audience and increase it. It’s a question of making it open and welcoming to anybody. So yes, there are hardcore fans who know everything that’s ever happened, and then there are those which know hardly anything at all about the show, and they are just as important. So, it’s like a balance of capturing the two types of fans? Yeah, and I think this year, particularly with the 50th anniversary, there is a lot of pay off and warmth for the whole history of it. But normally it’s more a question of moving on and finding new things to explore, reinventing the series each time.
Gareth is currently working on the new Peter Capaldi episodes for Doctor Who Series 8.
DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron PRODUCERS: Alfonso Cuaron David Heyman STARRING: George Clooney Sandra Bullock STUDIO: Esperanto Filmoj BUDGET: $100m
REVIEWER: Oliver Richards
Gravity is a beautiful film, make no mistake. Director Alfonso Cuarón (Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men) and his cinematographer Emmanual Lebezki (Tree of Life) lovingly craft a vision of such, ahem, gravity that it is hard to resist. Co-written with his brother Jonas Cuarón’s script is perhaps the only disappointment: the combination of a stargazing George Clooney and a monologue on the significance of life is a bit cloying. But, for the most part however Clooney, and the real star of the show, Sandra Bullock do a good job of carrying the film’s heavy subject matter. Cuarón’s film, unlike Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life, does not aim to intrigue your moral compass or posit questions about the universe of life-changing grandeur. Instead Gravity instead, in a similar fashion to Danny Boyle’s much underrated Sunshine, aims to construct a tense and gripping world leaving both its characters and audience breathless. This is best achieved in sections
that combine an excellent score, clever sound engineering and the inescapably beautiful cosmic landscapes shown in deep and effective 3D. In moments such as this the closing of an airlock is preceded by a booming swell of noise which dissipates in such a manor that will leave more than a few thinking they have just experience a pressure change. This suspense gradually creates a vice-like grip that, regardless of corny lines and some too earnestly heart-tugging exposure, is difficult to escape. Whatever you think about spending 90 minutes sharing a space helmet, and the camerawork seamlessly creates this symbiosis, by the film’s conclusion you will be heaving a heavy sigh of release and sucking in as much breath as you can find in the theatre. As far as modern cinema goes, for all its obvious turns and techniques, Gravity creates a true experience. Something that is often missing from blockbusters.
RunneR RunneR For a film about online gambling, Runner Runner ironically takes not a single risk. The movie follows a safe, tried and tested formula dealing with the theme of innocence being corrupted. Think The Devil’s Advocate but in Costa Rica. Justin Timberlake stars in the lead role as Richie Furst, a genius Princeton student whose tuition money is stolen from him then arrogantly sets out to confront his perpetrator Ivan Block played by Ben Affleck, but is ultimately enticed by the lure of money and women. Timberlake never has to stray too far from either expressing a worried look or showing the audience how good he looks in a suit. It is a seeming waste of acting potential having previously showcased his ability to find depth and range in The Social Network. In contrast Affleck as the pantomime antagonist of the piece is loud, brash and volatile. Talented actors Anthony Mackie and Gemma Arterton are not given
enough material or screen time to fully develop their characters; filling in as onedimensional supporting roles. However the most disappointing element of Runner Runner is the director Brad Furman. Furman showed great promise with his earlier directorial effort The Lincoln Lawyer; but the assured and tight storytelling is clearly absent this time around. Ultimately despite its attempt to be an engaging thriller, there are little to no thrills or exciting plot twists and as Runner Runner runs its course, there is unfortunately no climatic payoff. Instead once the credits do begin to roll, viewers are simply left with a distinct underwhelming feeling as they realise that there is no way of retrieving the last ninety minutes of their lives. A much more apt title would be Duller Duller. Imran Bukhari
enTeRTAInmenT fIlm & TV “...this is a master class of real-life dramatisation from the director who does it best...”
The long-anticipated big screen retelling of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama does not disappoint. Veteran director Paul Greengrass offering two hours of brilliantly played-out tension, as the action moves from the darkness of the ship’s engine room to the creeping claustrophobia that engulfs the latter part of this epic and intense film. With the Bourne Ultimatum director masterminding proceedings, Captain Phillips is a showcase of how to imbue a real story with genuine suspense and terror, each scene gradually building towards the central action with commendable skill. Recounting the story of Captain Richard Phillips and his crew on the Maersk Alabama, which became the first American vessel in over a century to be successfully hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia, this film is notable for the performances from its two leads. Tom Hanks produces a performance that ranks alongside anything from his commendable back catalogue, whilst newcomer Barkhad Abdi sparkles with menace as the villain of the piece. Alongside these commendable performances, where this film really excels is in the confrontations between the pirates and their victims, the life-or-death stand-offs portrayed with such breathless realism that you feel yourself being drawn into the heart of this real-life story of terror and piracy on the high seas. Greengrass uses his trademark close-up camerawork to full effect, drawing every ounce of emotion
ThoR: The dARk woRld Coming from the same company that gave us Iron Man and Avengers Assemble, the first Thor film produced by the franchise in2011, featuring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, was largely well received commercially and critically, despite some criticism of being more commercially-minded than true to the original Marvel creation. It will please many comic book enthusiasts to hear that Marvel Cinematic Universe’s second Thor film, Thor: The Dark World is a more serious and generally darker affair. It retains everything that made the first film so enjoyable; Hemsworth’s fantastic delivery, exciting but not over-the-top visual effects, powerful one-liners and a cinematic-sized soundtrack, this time composed by Brian Tyler (who also scored Iron Man 3), that accurately represents the ferocity of battle alongside more solemn adagio sections. This edition contains a further,
from each scene, and contrasting the cramped and dingy ship with the vast and unending ocean that serves as the canvas for this gripping and enthrallingly told tale. Right from the opening shots of Captain Phillips at home as he prepares to embark on this fateful voyage, this film clearly aims to be more than the brainless action movie it could have easily become. The real-life elements, and the lingering thought that this is an all-too-common occurrence for vessels in this part of the world, offers a sense of perspective and reality that raises the film to a very high standard. Light on laughs and heavily dominated by a testosterone-fuelled male cast - I counted no more than three women with a total screen time of less than ten minutes - this movie may not appeal to all cinema-goers, with its brutal and unflinching examination of the fraught nature of piracy and hostage situations. But the sheer quality with which Greengrass executes this film, without flashy Hollywood set pieces or baseless posturing, makes it a gripping and nerve shredding watch. Despite the extensive running time and unrelenting intensity that underpins the whole film, this is a master class of real-life dramatisation from the director who does it best.
more interesting exploration of Thor’s relationship with his family, particularly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and even with some welcome light humour, manages a better appropriation of mood throughout. In this film, there is a better flow between the two worlds of earth and Asgard, in contrast to the slightly forced nature of Thor’s first appearance on earth in the previous film, as well as being a film that should delight long-time Marvel fans and a wider audience alike. Where bad sequels have the potential to turn a well-loved film into something predictable and tired, Thor: The Dark World only expands and progresses from the original, hinting at great things to come from Thor and Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole in the future. Alec Evans
Well, do you? In a season of Welsh musIc aWards and festIvals, charlIe mock examInes just hoW far songWrItIng In Welsh can get you In 2013 It’s hardly a new development. Music was an inherent part of the Welsh culture long before Tom Jones lent ‘It’s Not Unusual’ to Carlton Banks’ famous dance moves. No, ‘the Land of Song’ has been churning out music since the twelfth century and it isn’t stopping any time soon. Ask anyone and they’ll be able to name a myriad of Welsh artists, be it Newport’s favourite alternative rock band Feeder or veteran on the scene Shirley Bassey. That being said, ask someone to name an artist who sings primarily in the mother tongue of our Celtic nation and you’re likely to be left hanging. Why? Well, approximately 73% of the population in Wales have no Welsh speaking skills, leaving a tiny fraction to lead the movement. Before music in the Welsh language has even left its country of origin, it’s deemed a minority. But when did that ever stop anyone? Organisations throughout the country work hard to ensure that the music of Wales is given the attention it deserves. Both Mentrau Iaith Cymru and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg host battle of the bands shows and annual festivals presenting acts who utilise the Welsh language in their music as well as BBC Wales, BBC Cymru and Huw Stephens at Radio One showing their continuing support and promotion of the scene. The abundance of record labels championing the Welsh language is just as strong, with Cardiff-based Peski putting on a regular night to showcase the latest talent that has emerged on the circuit. Not only is it a community that is growing consistently, the
music industry in Wales boasts a collection of topclass artists. This attention, albeit getting the hard work of talented musicians noticed, also begs the question: why are only Welsh media outlets pushing the dreamy Celtic lyrics into the limelight? If ‘Sunday Girl’ can get to number one with a verse in French, who says a Welsh act can’t follow in Blondie’s footsteps and get their own language recognised on a national or worldwide scale?
73% of the population in Wales have no Welsh speaking skills, leaving a fraction to lead the movement. With the Welsh language heralding a history placed firmly in the genre of folk and evoking memories of the many male voice choirs that get through to the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, it’s no wonder that the Great British public are slightly close-minded towards the vast amount of music hiding behind the border. Earlier this year, 19 year-old Bronwen Lewis attempted to break down the stereotypes clinging to the language with what was described as a haunting translation of Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’ for BBC talent show The Voice. Despite not progressing in the
competition, Lewis received strong support from all four of the show’s judges, with Jessie J telling her that she didn’t need the show to have a career. In the sixth months since the initial airing of Bronwen’s episode of The Voice, she has been signed to Thumb Print Music on a six-year contract. Lewis opened up following the show saying that ‘more Welsh music needs to be sung on television, it needs to be more accessible to people my age’ and what better place to begin than the great big network in the clouds (no, not heaven), the internet. Producer, DJ, radio presenter and musician Gwenno has been in the industry for seven years and with experiences of singing in Welsh, Cornish and English, is adamant that music should not be ruled by language. ‘We’re in an era where interesting things in music can get out there - music isn’t language,’ she enthuses, believing that the internet revolution should be used to its full advantage to ensure that music produced in any foreign language receives the appreciation it deserves. Websites like Soundcloud and Last.fm are overflowing with artists creating music using some of the world’s most diverse sounds and since technology is making it easier than ever for those outside of the mainstream to present their work to an audience of millions, a lack of platforms no longer poses a barrier. ‘This is an age where there is so much music and so much access to it, if you have another form of expression you should pursue it,’ she continues. ‘Before the internet you could just
Huw Stephens: spokesperson for Welsh artists
Gwenno has released debut single Chwyldro in Welsh, promoting an international music scene. be dismissive,’ she emphasises, outlining the vast expanse of music that young people in particular are exposed to today. Georgia Ruth, singer, harpist and winner of this year’s Welsh Music Prize with her album ‘Week of Pines’, which features a combination of tracks in both English and Welsh, agrees with Gwenno: ‘if you can express yourself in the Welsh language, why not?' In spite of this, some still feel that singing in a language understood by such a small proportion of the UK’s population is limiting your chances of progressing in the industry. Welsh singers Sen Segur have spoken out about playing shows engineered purely for those who speak the language, saying that it’s ‘difficult to reach new audiences because you’re performing to the same circle of people’. As a result, the band has made the decision to switch to the English language in an attempt to maximize their listeners. ‘We don’t feel like we’ve been forced into changing our language; we did it because we wanted to… We love singing in Welsh, it’s in our blood, so we’ll never lose it,’ responded vocalist Ben. On the reason behind their upcoming release: ‘I think that we’ve reached our full potential in Wales, there’s not much else we can do here but keep playing the same venues. It’d be nice to play in front of people we’ve never met before.’ But is a restricted following the only factor leading artists to make the decision to up sticks and switch to a language so saturated as English? Gwenno points out that in the past ‘people have experimented and not been given much attention for doing so. Even in Wales there’s a resistance to the language – it’s not just about the music.’ She explains that the funding behind music in the Welsh language has proved a contentious issue across the country. ‘I think it’s the general influence of the UK in the media and government, which still adheres to the idea that
English is the only official language worth having – they don’t represent us.’ Even the new Nordic Noir TV series ‘Y Gwyll’, broadcast on BBC 4 has been stripped of its original Welsh language. Where its Scandinavian counterparts keep their language and gain subtitles, ‘Y Gwyll’ was filmed in English purely for the purpose of mainstream UK television.
Music isn’t language We’re in an era where interesting things can get out there With the Celtic tongue struggling to make it to the big time in something that has already received critical acclaim, the worry that the language barrier may never be broken in the entertainment industry does creep into mind. Despite this, Gwenno insists that ‘the best music ever made was not made as a career thing, it was made to just be in the now. You have to make your own motivation as [the Welsh language] isn’t mainstream.’ When asked if she ever thinks that the language will fade out as a form of musical expression, Gwenno suggested that we ‘always have to have the attitude that it could… The sense of crisis is an artistic motivation.’ So, providing musicians are prepared to brave the wilderness that surrounds the social mainstream of the 21st century, original and innovative use of the Welsh language in music should continue to strive. Of course, opportunities for Welsh artists to get their music recognised within the industry are growing year by year with the Welsh Music Prize and S n Festival about to enter their fourth and eighth years respectively in 2014. Although events like
these can prove career changing for artists, it is not unknown to hear that they feel segregated from the mainstream English-speaking performers. ‘There’s no reason why we couldn’t have just performed with the rest of the bands,’ suggests Sen Segur’s Ben, having played Nyth Presents, a night dedicated to acts playing in the Welsh language during S n Festival. Co-organiser of both events Huw Stephens insists that they ‘didn’t want to segregate the Welsh and the English because that’s not what [they] think the scene is about – the Welsh music scene in general is very inclusive, so it’s easy to just let the music take precedence.’ With the WMP showcasing artists who sing in both languages and stages across S n and other Welsh festivals like it placing acts from across the world next to one another, it is not out of the question to ask when similar things will start happening on a larger scale. It’s clear that interest in the scene is certainly not dead. Through the continuous growth of events that champion artists like Gwenno, Georgia Ruth and their contemporaries, it could be only a matter of time before national media outlets shine the spotlight on Welsh language that those artists have been waiting for. So, what’s next for Welsh music? Will it continue to showcase the uniqueness that is the country’s language? The answer: undoubtedly. The compromise? We may have to be willing to delve a little deeper into the treasure troves of the ocean that is the World Wide Web in order to reel it out. At least for now, anyway.
Gwenno’s single ‘Chwyldro’ is available for download now with the album released in March 2014. Georgia Ruth’s WMP winning ‘Week of Pines’ is also available for download. Look out for Sen Segur’s upcoming English language debut, estimated for release in late December.
record reviews ArcAde fire - reflektor The Montreal-based band, now on their fourth album, has been the subject of much critical acclaim throughout their 12 years together, with previous album The suburbs seeing them being named album of the year by Q Magazine and BBc 6 Music. on their fourth album reflektor, they have worked with James Murphy of Lcd soundsystem as their producer. The album shows them drawing from the suitably ambitious concepts of Black orpheus, a 1959 film based on an adaptation of the Greek legend of orpheus and eurydice and The Present Age, an essay by danish philosopher søren Kierkegaard. The consistency and flow lends itself well to a double album, with a sense of freedom still allowing them to give way to new ideas, such as the Haitian music and even influences
gwenno - chwyldro if you’re new to music in the mother tongue of welsh then Gwenno is a great artist to begin and arguably end with, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. ‘chwyldro’, the first of three singles from the upcoming LP (welsh for revolution) is a beautifully relaxing infusion of synth and bass, topped by the angelic vocal acrobatics of cardiff’s very own music producer, dJ, radio presenter and musician. released on Peski records, the collection is a perfect example of the talent that is hiding behind the city walls. despite its downbeat tone, swathed in all its chilled out glory, a prominent bass line keeps the track in the check giving it an overridingly optimistic resonance. Bonus track ‘A B c ch d’ is equally haunting and just as packed with echoey melodies and enchanting hooks. As the soloist narrates the hypnotic verses, the first five letters
fUtUre of the left - how to stop yoUr brAin in An Accident As cardiff's best alternative band, i would argue and lead singer Andy Falkous would certainly argue, Future of The Left have quite a task in surpassing their 2012 welsh Music Prize-winning 'Plot Against common sense'. FoTL had certainly crafted their most coherent and aggressively catchy record to date, containing both their trademark wit and angular punk rock with sense of longevity perhaps missing from the bands previous two efforts, 2007's 'curses' and 2009's 'Travels with Myself And Another'. As far as the songs go, the band's new album 'How To stop Your Brain in An Accident' builds upon a sound they car ved out with the departure of previous bassist Kelson (who now works in cardiff University's dental hospital,
5/5 from the alternative approach to dance music of Lcd soundsystem. Highlights including the david Bowie-assisted reflektor, an unusual choice for a first single with its seven and a half minute length and some French-language lyrics, the comparitively catchy You Already Know and second disc finale supersymmetry, coming across as Arcade Fire’s take on a fusion of African drumming and an almost sigur ros-style ambience. despite not being one of the year’s most instant albums, repeated listens in full should give listeners the opportunity to hear the band producing some of their best work yet. Butler’s comments of influences being ‘locked down by the time you're 16’ don’t seem to show in reflektor – this is a band that just keeps evolving. Alec evans
4/5 of the welsh alphabet reverberate beneath the main focus of attention in a barely audible whisper. if that’s not enough to keep you interested then r seiliog’s mesmerizing interpretation of ‘chwyldro’ tops off the release wonderfully. with a psychedelic spin on the single, it is certainly a track worth waiting for. we must urge, do not be put off by the lack of english language- the dream-like celtic lyrics enhance the overriding tone of the calming electro-pop, lulling you into a serene state of contentment that would blend particularly well with a mug of hot chocolate and a thick blanket when you’re hiding from the stereotypical cardiffian weather. catch Gwenno at Undertone on 23rd November with Y Pencadlys. charlie Mock
4/5 irrelevant but interesting) and the arrival of exMillion dead bassist Julia ruzicka. This sound being a mix of sludgy rhythms ('Future child embarrassment Matrix') and increasingly anthemic tunes ('Johnny Borrell Afterlife'). it almost goes without mentioning that Falco's lyrics are as sharp as ever, aggressively political when fitting and absurdly entertaining elsewhere (see 'singing of the Bonesaws'). The resulting album is less of a step for ward but a showcasing of a group that, tighter than ever, have created their niche and built a comfortable but exciting home within it. oli richards
"...The resulting album is less of a step forward but a showcasing of a group that, tighter than ever, have created their niche and built a home within it..."
los cAMpesinos - no blUes You know those albums where every song is absolutely top notch? Those albums that you just can’t stop listening to? Yeah? well, this is one of them. ‘No Blues’ is the newest release from cardiff’s very own sextet and it’s a mighty good one, to say the least. don’t let the optimistic title get you too in the mood for the latest bubblegum pop though; in true Los campesinos! fashion, a wave of ardently anguished lyrics hits you in the heart at exactly the same time as the overwhelmingly buoyant noise pop crashes into your ears. A match made in heaven if there ever was one. ‘For Flotsam’ sets the tone for the album. with a mighty chorus that could have easily turned the record into the biggest anti-climax since the 2012 steps reform, it instead
gives an expectation-shattering hint at what is to follow. ‘what Leaves death Behind’ and ‘Glue Me’ keep the record moving consistently towards ‘Avocado, Baby’, the first single released from the album. Providing yet another page in the band’s meticulously thought out musical canon, the track’s final refrain hits you like a wall of bricks before sliding calmly into the closing tracks. ‘selling rope’ brings the album to a defiant finish with a beautifully slowed down melody and echoing reverb. As a result, ‘No Blues’ draws you in, takes you to its peak with a mish-mash of beautifully layered harmonies and instrumentals before being dropping you straight back into reality amidst the overwhelming and insuppressible urge to listen all over again. charlie Mock
eMineM - the MArshAll MAthers lp 2 There didn’t seem to be a taboo subject that eminem wouldn’t tackle releasing ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ back in 2000. Having since opted for an altogether less angry sound on following releases, could it be that ‘the most meanest emcee on this earth’ has mellowed out in his later years? revealing his new album to be called ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’ at the MTv video Music Awards in late August, eminem was clearly interested in a return to the venomous mood from the turn of the millennium, but the question on the world of hip hop’s lips was just how well would the man behind ‘The real slim shady’ stand up in 2013? straight from first track Bad Guy, eminem sounds more invigorated and focused than he has done in years. He raises the bar further with rhyme or reason, his combination of rapid-fire verses and some amusing oneliners. The backing beats are a step down from his glory
days, but his sense of diction is a return to form, hinted at but never quite achieved on recovery three years ago. Looking forward to hip hop’s future in collaboration with popular upstart Kendrick Lamar on Love Game as well as embracing its past with catchy but slightly regressive Beastie Boys tribute Berzerk, this is eminem adapting to the times, referencing hip hop history and writing personal lyrics better than he has done in over a decade. Possible highlight is the Kanye west-style ambition of rap God, combining some of eminem’s fastest rapping yet with edMinspired synth. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 doesn’t have the consistency of the original, but even some of the filler tracks prove interesting listens. For a rapper that has claimed to be ‘back’ on every album since he rocketed to fame, with this record you can’t help but think that he means it more than he has done for quite some time. Alec evans
disclosUre - Apollo
little Arrow - poeticAlly
electronic wonder-kids disclosure are back, only a short time after their debut album launch with ‘Apollo’; a decidedly darker track, featuring their trademark deep, lush synths and space-like vocal samples, showing that they have not completely lost touch with their garage roots. After the chart success of ‘Latch’ and ‘white Noise’, it’s promising to see they haven’t lost their ability to release highly energetic house music, appealing to both hardcore fans and the casual club-goer in equal measure.
in their third endeavour, Little Arrow’s title track 'Poetically' opens with a rich a cappella reflection on the world’s cruelty. A chorus of voices resonate with the potential to move away from conventional folk. Unfortunately, those guitar twangs soon kick in, while the vocal becomes self-indulgently theatrical. The track builds to a clash of drums and inconsequential electric guitar to close. radiohead influences permeate follow-up 'i Man ogre'. This track is jarring to higher effect. it’s just a shame that the second track has
There is nothing new to report here, just a very well produced piece of electronic fare which, whilst staying comfortably within the realms of conventional club music, succeeds in sounding fresh and interesting with an absence of cheese or compromise. This track easily matches some of the best material off the album and unquestionably tops off an excellent year for Britain’s most exciting musical duo. george Atkins
the stronger personality, leaving the first in folk limbo. This time, the electric instrumental with chanting vocals achieves its aim, surreal and climactic. Third track 'Paddy Fields' is a live session. sparse acoustic guitar accompanies the richest vocals on the single, adding to the isolation pervading the lyrics. The steady drum beat and multitude of voices come in again, unnecessarily: a strippedback offering would have had more impact. But then that ain’t folk. hannah embleton-smith
It’s dark. There isn’t a queue at the bar. The usual buzz of the top floor is somewhat stagnant, as the large audience huddles awkwardly around a gismo-cluttered stage, awaiting vintage indie band Young Knives. Five minutes late for their set, bassist Thomas Dartnall bounces onto the stage in an oversized alien mask. He prances around to the tune of children counting, which is mystifying, to say the least. This precedes an hour-long recital of their newest album, Sick Octave: a mixture of crunching riffs and wailing poetr y. Unfortunately, these are completely overshadowed by a wall of synthetic sound and homemade percussion; the audience seems slightly bewildered. This is a far cr y from their ‘old stuff’, where they were revered for catchy melodies and witty lyricism. There’s a shared expectation for something theatrical, ‘a real live experience’, as advertised. Instead,
tonight’s inhabitants of the third floor must endure a weak and pretentious musical display, backed only by a projection of a naked man swinging his ding-a-ling. Singer Henr y Dartnall’s tie-dye outfit and pompous stagecraft is accompanied by a bubbling concoction of sound, which no one seems brave enough to drink. And then they turn it upside down. Young Knives’ saving grace is their ability to groove impeccably when playing their older songs. Thomas finally steps away from the synthesizers, pumping lines that rumble in the chest and warm the cockles. Henr y breathes fire instead of wilting flowers. Drummer Oliver Askew is solid rock. Together, they become natural, confident. Their encore is deser ved; ever yone dances the night away.
Upgraded from the Solus to the cavernous Great Hall, the feverishness that surrounds tonight’s rare Dillinger Escape Plan UK appearance is palpable. Openers Maybeshewill channel this energy into a gargantuan feast of perfectionist post-rock. Peppered with spoken word samples and strobe lighting, the awed silence that pervades the room somehow speaks volumes. Three Trapped Tigers’ electronic noise-rock occupies a far different end of the instrumental spectrum. The band’s on-record ability to mix jarring electronic wizardry with a muddled sense of melody is inspiring enough, but watching them somehow recreate it live invokes a whole new level of respect for the trio’s talents. As 9pm rolls around, the packed out Great Hall hints at the reverence that surrounds tonight’s headliners. The sea of beards indicates the circles from which this reverence emanates, though The Dillinger Escape Plan may just be
the metalheads’ best kept secret. Dillinger are an abrasive but breath-taking assault on the senses, whose metallic, mathematic and melodic output holds more in common with an ironworks than Iron Maiden. They may have arrived in Cardiff a day late for Halloween, but the band bring the horror with them, flanking themselves with screens displaying eerie, jarring imagery. The true spectacle, however, lies with the band themselves. Frontman Greg Puciato and guitarist Ben Weinmann make the perfect pairing – a seemingly unanimous mass of muscle and madness, health and safety take a swift nosedive within seconds of stage time. From walking on the crowd, to hurling microphone stands at each other, to flailing guitars around by their straps like maces; the set is an hour and a half of pure, unconfined chaos - though never once does the music suffer at the hands of the stage show. Intense, insane and incomparable - Dillinger’s legacy is well rooted.
‘And if you’re in love then you are the lucky one, because most of us are bitter over someone.’ With such brutal honesty from their single ‘Youth’, Daughter are recognised for their beautifully melancholic songwriting, which gives insight into lead singer Elena Tonra’s cynicism of love and heartache. It was intriguing to see if their emotionally bleeding tracks would translate to a live audience, yet it was this lyrical frankness that made Daughter so compelling. Together with dynamic playing from guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella, and a complementary visual production, the trio commanded a hushed audience. Tonra’s understated yet haunting vocals echoed, sending The Great Hall into a trance-like state with her ethereal tone. Haefeli used the innovation of violin bowing his electric guitar, creating spooky harmonics that further contributed to the atmosphere. Daughter’s soundscape varies from quiet, guitar-led tracks such as ‘Candles’ that are more exposed, compared to ‘Human’ that is driven by
Aguilella’s drums and displays a more extensive production. A highlight of the set was ‘Youth’, visually stripped down to twinkling background lights with the audience singing back the lyrics, creating an aura of tranquility. ‘Home’ brought the gig to a climactic end as the trio built a huge crescendo, bombarding the audience with a wall of sound. Daughter left the stage to a rousing applause, fully deserved after a stunning performance. Despite minimal interaction, Daughter surprisingly still connected with a live audience. When Tonra briefly spoke mid-set, her timid voice was barely audible. She is enigmatic in that through her songwriting she doesn’t hold anything back, but she is quite the opposite when speaking to an audience. The band covered Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ for their encore, purely due to demand from the crowd, and the trio looked taken aback by the positive reception. However it is a reaction that Daughter should indeed get used to, as this is merely the beginning.
THINGS NOT TO MISS
Formed at Cardiff University in 2006, Los Campesinos have enjoyed a career that has taken them around the world, seen them play with the likes of Johnny Foreigner and grace stages at festivals such as Reading & Leeds, Latitude and Glastonbury. With four successful albums behind them, and having just released their fifth at the end of last month, they are returning to the city it all started. If fun indie pop is your thing; you’ll enjoy it. But if you want music that makes you dance, sing and shout whilst awakening emotions you’d forgotten existed, then Los Campesinos! will captivate you. Supported by the equally enchanting Playlounge, the atmosphere is sure to be electric: this is an evening not to be missed.
LOOKING FOR AN EvENING OFF THE BEATEN TRACK? qUENCH CONTRIBUTORS PICK THEIR HIGHLIGHTS FROM CARDIFF’S UPCOMING MUSICAL CALENDAR
What’s in a name? Unashamedly gnarly, Gnarwolves’ unabashed, singalong punk-rock has spread across the country like wildfire in recent months. Seemingly never off the road, the band have enjoyed support slots alongside Funeral For A Friend, Lower Than Atlantis and Anti-Flag to name a few. They return to the South West with this, their first UK headline tour, bringing along their Big Scary Monsters labelmates Woahnows and one of Swn’s highlights Nai Harvest along for the ride. Gon’ get sweaty.
Adopting a DIY approach to launch his career, Lewis Watson has steadily accumulated a loyal following that arose from uploading YouTube covers. 2013 has seen acceleration in Watson’s success, after being elevated to the leagues of Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard by critics, and his first three EPs all broke into the top 10 iTunes chart. Starting with minimal acoustic tracks using solely his guitar, the recent EP ‘The Wild’ exhibits an evolved production, yet Watson’s songwriting remains sincerely heartfelt. The cheery optimism of his latest EP ‘Four More Songs’ awakens a summer atmosphere, which will undoubtedly be a distant yet welcomed memory amidst Cardiff’s winter months. Lewis Watson will be stopping off at CF10 during his headline tour, an ideal venue of just 300-capacity to showcase his refreshing talent.
Despite taking their band name from the remote Scottish isle, the folk quartet Stornoway originated in Oxford, writing jubilant pop ditties on a reoccurring pastoral theme. Leaving his unrock’n’roll studies of ornithology behind to start the band, lead singer Brian Briggs’ unconventional lyricism is undeniably inspired by his background, singing ‘I’m a scientist with far too many metaphors’. After the success of their first album ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’, Stornoway steer clear from the second album curse with ‘Tales From Terra Firma’, crafting charmingly intelligent tracks. Stornoway will be performing in Cathays’ conveniently situated The Globe, and their feel-good repertoire promises to be an exuberant and uplifting affair.
After the success of the Cardiff Oxjam Takeover earlier this month, Cardiff Uni Oxfam Soc presents another line-up featuring some of the best local talent. Headliners Peasant’s King are an emerging Welsh band tipped for great things after recently securing a spot on the coveted Radio One playlist. Support comes from the energetic indie pop of Atoms and good time boys Weekend Arrows. With the addition of cake, it would be rude not to head down to enjoy a night of live music in the name of charity.