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CONTENTS WHAT'S ON
Central Scotland Documentary Festival – No Birds Land Scotland Loves Anime – Northern Lights Festival – The Tempest
Bemz – Self Esteem – Parquet Courts – Live at the Pink Hotel Graeme Macrae Burnet – Push the Boat Out
FOOD & DRINK P34 Food & Drink News – Vegan Sushi
LGBT+ P40 Elvira – The (Not) Gay Movie Club
REVIEW P44 Vitalic – Denise Mina – Warren Ellis – Kairos – Herbert Powell Goodnight Louisa – Constant Follower – She Drew The Gun – Blushing Brydes – Stina Tweeddale – Deer Leader – Wozniak
CREDITS Editor/Sales: Kenny Lavelle Sub Editor: Leona Skene Food and Drink Editors: Emma Mykytyn and Mark Murphy LGBT+ Editor: Jonny Stone Design: Julia Szekeres Cover photo credit: Andrew Low Spine quote: Vanessa Lee To advertise in SNACK firstname.lastname@example.org 0141 632 4641
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Disclaimer: Snack Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this magazine in part or in whole is forbidden without the explicit written consent of the publishers. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the content of this magazine but we cannot guarantee it is complete and up to date. Snack Publishing Ltd. is not responsible for your use of the information contained herein.
Hello and welcome to issue 32 of SNACK, Has that been three years already? We’ve come a long way, baby, since we launched in October 2018, and I’m delighted that we’re still kicking, especially after the last 18 months or so. Much has changed with the mag since back then – the last three years have been an education, but the main aim is still to support the amazing wealth of creative talent in our artistic communities, and to try to make a living while doing it. I’m glad to report that it’s all still going to plan. As you’ll have seen, this month’s front cover is occupied by Bemz – undoubtedly one of Scottish hip hop’s most exciting talents. He’s been gathering a head of steam lately, as has Scottish hip hop in general, with his EP Saint of Lost Causes longlisted for the 2021 SAY Award and selling out SWG3’s Poetry Club, setting the groundwork for his excellent new EP, M4, to take him to a whole new audience. Elsewhere you’ll find our conversation with the brilliant Rebecca Taylor aka Self Esteem, talking about her new album Prioritise Pleasure – a ferociously inventive art-pop feast. She also chats about how absolutely insane just being herself makes some people, and the middle point between wanting to be an attractive, great, sexy woman whom people like, and managing that while being angry, fed up, and scared. As for the rest, I’m sure you’ll find your way around. Stay safe, and we'll see you in November. Kenny Lavelle Editor
28 Oct – 1 Nov 2021 Talks | Docs & more
Curated & Presented by Macrobert Arts Centre Macrobert is a Registered Scottish Charity No: SC039546
PAISLEY 7-16 October Tickets on sale NOW
The Twilight Sad Nadine Shah The Bluebells The Rezillos Michael PLUS
Rother Kathryn Joseph Arab Strap Wee Spree for kids Nick Lowe Retro Video Club www.thespree.co.uk
WHAT’S ON GUIDE CENTRAL SCOTLAND DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL Stirling – 28th October till 1st November Central Scotland Documentary Festival, curated and presented by Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, is back again to celebrate creative documentary and non-fiction filmmaking. Having launched in 2017 as a fully curated and programmed festival, for the first time they have invited documentary and non-fiction filmmakers to submit their recent work for the 2021 edition, with selected films being eligible for Jury and Audience awards. The full programme will be announced on Friday 8th October. Keep an eye on their socials (@ CSDocuFest) for all the news. macrobertartscentre.org/centscotdocufest
NO BIRDS LAND Trinity Tunnel, Edinburgh – till 15th November No Birds Land is a site-specific sound-art installation which seeks to bring to light the ongoing reduction in the number of breeding birds in the British Isles. Artist Tamsin Grainger has created a sound poem (download via QR code at the tunnel entrances) using avian warning sounds, interspersed with the causes of declining bird numbers. Hanging on metal hooks which were once used for cables is a string of bunting made of found materials, sporting bird illustrations – lifting the pennant flaps reveals sounds from the poem.
SCOTLAND LOVES ANIME GFT, Glasgow: 1st-3rd October & Filmhouse, Edinburgh: 11th-17th October The Glasgow portion of Scotland Loves Anime will be a memory by the time this month’s mag is out but there’s still plenty of time to prepare for the Edinburgh leg of this, the 12th year of the festival. There’s loads of quality anime to engage your peepers with, including Takashi Yamazaki’s Lupin III: The First, the European premiere of Over the Sky, Belle (Directed by Academy Award nominee Mamoru Hosoda, Mirai), and The Deer King which, pertinently enough for these times, tells the story of a gifted physician searching for a cure for a deadly disease, Black Wolf Fever, that is spreading throughout the Empire. lovesanimation.com
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What’s on Page 9
NORTHERN LIGHTS FESTIVAL THE TEMPEST 8th till 16th October Northern Lights Festival is a brand new arts festival produced by Lyth Arts Centre. Celebrating the stunning Wick Harbour and Caithness coastline in the far north of Scotland, the festival is part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21. The festival will blend together film screenings, exhibitions, performances, talks and a showcase on local, sustainable food, all centred around a showstopping, free series of outdoor projections, running throughout the eight-day event. At the centre of a diverse and exciting programme is an installation that will bring Wick Harbour to life with stunning projections across the harbour. Created in collaboration with Moray-based production company Wildbird, using archive footage and contemporary material, a new film will be turned into seven distinctive, striking installations that will be projected at iconic locations across the harbour. lytharts.org.uk
Tron Theatre – 29th October till 13th November Tron Theatre is reopening following lockdown with this all-female cast production of The Tempest. Working with a cast of eleven Scottish-based female/female identifying actors, The Tempest will be staged during the COP26 summit in a way that embraces a more environmentally friendly approach to producing work (minimalist staging with set, props and costumes recycled from stock), reflecting the atmosphere of the Tron’s strippedback main auditorium. Dreamlike, surreal, magical, romantic, and cruel, The Tempest is generally accepted as a play about exploitative male power and greed, and the colonisation of other lands and their indigenous inhabitants. Artistic Director Andy Arnold says that by introducing an exclusively female voice to the stage, this interpretation is challenged in this brand new version. tron.co.uk
Image design: Joe Connolly
JOM Charity presents:
Afro-Celtic Textile Art Exhibition & International Carnival Day
1st - 25th September, Milngavie Food & Music | Gavin’s Mill – 4th Sept Whisky Tasting | Scottish Gantry – 11th Sept, 2pm to 6pm International Festival | Town Centre – 25th Sept, 11am to 6pm
jomcharity.com Exhibition | Workshop | Fashion Show | Music If you need free condoms, it is quick and easy. Fill in your details on our website form and your condoms sent direct to you. International Foodwill&be Drinks | Raffles
What’s on Page 11
PAISLEY HALLOWEEN FEST
Paisley, various venues – 7th till 16th October Paisley’s annual festival of music, comedy and arts is back with a full programme for 2021. Events are once again spread across the town with the main musical acts concentrated in the famous SpiegelTent (now moved to Bridge Street to allow more room). If you’re quick you might still be able to grab tickets for Kathryn Joseph, Arab Strap, The Twilight Sad, Arab Strap, or Michael Rother. There’s plenty for the kids too with The Wee Spree’s Arts, Crafts, and Science Hub; Dance Along Film, The Lion King; TikTok Moves; a Two Day Circus Camp, and loads more besides. Spree For All has plenty of quality events for absolutely no pence, including Linzi Clark at The Coach House on the Saturday night. If you fancy something a little more lively, The Rezillos will close the festival in energetic style the same evening. thespree.co.uk
Paisley, 28th October till 1st November Paisley’s popular Halloween celebrations are back for 2021 as Paisley Halloween Festival presents Out of this World – an illuminated trail of installations and light displays centred on the River Cart. This year there is a twist on the annual festival’s usual format as the town centre will be transformed into an immersive ‘otherworldly’ experience with a series of spectacular displays concentrated around Paisley Abbey, Town Hall and the River Cart from Thursday 28th October until Monday 1st November – illuminated from 5pm-10pm for visitors to enjoy safely at a time that suits them.
It promises to be a real spectacle with an alien invasion, creatures from the deep and a constellation of stars providing some fun, free family entertainment. A series of artists have been commissioned to develop these stunning installations to help bring an unearthly experience to the town. As part of the celebrations of this year the area around the River Cart will be transformed into the centrepiece of the Out of this World experience. The river will become a must-visit spot on the trail as Mike Jones’ ‘Orionids’ installation will echo the breath-taking beauty of a meteor shower cascading across the Cart to create an enchanting web of light on the water. You might even see the moon on a rope. paisley.is
What’s on Page 13
Bemz is a Nigerian-born Ayrshire artist who recently broke into the forefront of Scotland’s rap scene. His EP Saint of Lost Causes has recently been longlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, he has released new EP M4, and he's just played a sold-out headline show at Glasgow’s Poetry Club. SNACK caught up with Bemz to discuss the Scottish hip hop scene, his career, the trials and tribulations of bringing up a child as a full-time musician, and more. Bemz, you have recently come into the spotlight as one of the most exciting names in Scottish hip hop. Why do you think people resonate with you so much? Bro, God's honest truth…I don’t know. I did what I had to do, focused on my music, had a daughter, set a goal for myself and did it. You barely even see me in social settings: it's all thanks to God, because there’s no answer that I could give to explain that. Can you tell me more about your religious side? I’m a Christian; it’s a very big part of my life. I grew up very religious, but I fell away from religion for a while. From when I moved out of my auntie’s house at 18 until I was about 24 – that’s when I found God again. A lot of it was through the help of my older sister. I don’t believe in churches, I don’t go to church, but I pray to God and stuff like that. Ever since I started leaving everything to God’s hands, everything just started falling into place. You’ve been making and releasing music for a long time now. What are your first memories of picking up the mic? Rapping – I always did that with my older brother Jerry, may he rest in peace. It was just for banter back then, dropping stupid bars, having a laugh.
Photo credits: Andrew Low
When and why did you start taking rapping seriously? From when I was 16 I knew I wanted to do music. The only Higher I got in school was music, so I always knew I wanted to do something creative. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out exactly what I wanted. The one moment that made me fully commit to music was when I found out I was gonna be a dad. What were your first impressions of the Scottish rap scene upon entering it and getting to know people? That’s a funny question. I don’t think people will like my answer, but you know what, I don’t care. The first people I knew rapping in Scotland were your old school donnies, Madhat McGore, Loki, etc. For me, rapping in Scotland seemed like a white man’s game. I grew up in Stranraer, predominantly white; I moved to Ayr, predominantly white. The first Black person I knew about doing music was Kobi Onyame. To be honest, my first introduction to the scene was not nice. I was sending out tunes and people were leaving me on read. Prior to me releasing a track with [Glasgow-based rapper] Paque, no one supported me. People were surprised when they first heard of me: they were like, ‘people in Ayr make music?!’ I was like, ‘yeah!’ Coming out from Ayr into Glasgow, I felt like the scene was washed. I was like ‘fuck the scene’. When I came to Glasgow, I worked hard to get to this point… and I felt like there’s f*ck all here. I’m watching people beef each other saying ‘I’m the king of this, king of that’. Bro, king of what? I’m not part of the Glasgow scene, I’m an Ayrshire rapper based in Glasgow.
Music Joe Rosenthal Page 15
How do you view the future of the scene? The scene is still in its infancy, and people need to realise that. We need people who have integrity and want to leave a legacy. People need to work together if this is ever going to work. Your new EP, M4, is out next week. How does this compare stylistically to Saint of Lost Causes? I feel more confident this time round. I believe in myself as an artist more. This translates into the sound. You’ve been put on the longlist for the Scottish Album of the Year Awards. How did this make you feel? See when the email came through, that out of 327 albums I had got to the last 20, my first thought was ‘it's only the last 20, I ain’t done shit yet.’ My team had to convince me of the magnitude of this, and now I’m starting to feel happy. snackmag.co.uk
You’re supporting indie band The Snuts in a sold-out Barrowlands gig. Do you see more crossovers happening between hip hop and other genres in Scotland? Why not? People need to get out of their comfort zone. I did the song ‘26’; it’s a bit of a housey tune. Tenement TV paired up artists of different genres to make songs. My guy made electronic and house music, we put our skills together and made a banger. Supporting The Snuts will be tough, performing in front of 800 indie kids who could potentially boo me off as I’m coming from a completely different genre. But I’m ready for it and I want to grab the opportunity. You also host a show on Radio Buena Vida – is this something you want to do more? Hell yeah. I’m not even a DJ really, bro. It’s just so fun, now that rapping has become more of a job. Radio DJing has become like a fun hobby. I love it.
How do you make a living outside of music? I work full time in Size, selling trainers. Your work rate seems very fast. How do you manage to stay creative, and what are you doing when you write at your best? It comes randomly. A lot of my lyrics come when I’m in the shower, actually. I never force creativity. A couple weeks ago I was self-isolating for 20 days. Two of those days I wrote 6 songs, the other 18 I did fuck all. It just happens when it happens. What are your goals and aspirations going forward? With music, I just want to keep pushing the boundaries, see how far I can take it. Personally, I’m just trying to make it out the hood. I’m just trying to make sure my daughter doesn’t have to worry about nothing. My long-term goal is to bring something to Scotland that benefits everybody. It's all in God’s hands. What do you think you’d be doing in life had you not chosen music?
M4 is out on 8th October, available at m4gla.com/M4xBEMZ
I’d be an English teacher. How do you balance bringing up a daughter while embarking on a music career? Every single bit of money I spend on music takes away from my daughter’s mouth. Do you know how hard a conflict that is? Do I continue making music, or give my daughter everything that I have? I have to make this worth it. I want to get to a point where I can give her everything. I want to say to her, ‘Look, I accomplished this’. But it's hard; I suffer with anxiety, I suffer with depression, but it doesn’t matter. Shit still needs to get done. Photo credits: Andrew Low
Music by Joe Rosenthal Page 17
snackmag.co.uk Photo Credit: Olivia Richardson
Self Esteem’s second album Prioritise Pleasure is the next layer of her ‘fuck all of that’ cake – even tastier, even chunkier than the last, with hunks you’ll be chewing till your jaw hurts and bits you’ll be picking out your teeth for an age afterwards. The album features a diverse range of confident pop beats to bash her bracing and embracing lyrics into your brain. There’s still that sweeping sound to her voice, supported by layers of vocals that are part of Rebecca’s signature sound. This is underscored by a variety of noises, repetitions and samples – some sweet, some contorted and grating. Highlights are ‘I Do This All The Time’ for its earnestness, ‘Moody’ for its catchy and to-the-core chorus, and ‘Still Reigning’ for the way it seizes and carries you off. Your most recent video, for ‘How Can I Help You?’, to me, on the surface, seems like a woman getting to be free, getting to be sweaty and messy, chebs oot, playing aggressively and joyfully at the drums. But what kept coming back to me was the lock and key necklace. Maybe it's more you're actually trapped and just performing for the gaze of others. Or actually, maybe you could free yourself from this trap, but have chosen not to. What was that about? I learned to play the drums at 13 or 14 – I loved it. I played the drums in my old band live, but I would always fear the people looking at me – the wrong kind of attention. It all plays into my childhood, which was very much like, ‘don't draw attention to yourself, and that will keep you safe’. The album is about how fucking tired out I am by that and how angry I am that I just haven't been able to live my life how I'd like to because of the threat of male violence or male gaze. The video was more about me reclaiming the drums in a way and going, ‘look, when I play a drum, my tit will move – you’ve got to fucking deal with that.’ As well as that, I'm very aware of how much that thumbnail will get a nice click – ooh tits, ooh sweaty tits, even better – but then what they’re having to hear is about how fucking done in I am by it. I thought it was a fun way to get a message across. I'm always trying to do this Trojan horse thing and it was another one of them. The lock and key – yeah, it was the freedom from the fear of playing the drums. I've got a lot of weird comments. So I guess my work was done. You knew that was gonna get attention, but at the same time it’s a comment on how female figures are treated and why, for example female MPs and MSPs are given extra training on social media while males aren’t. Yeah, it’s been wild. I think you are just perfectly explaining why I do this. It's like a weird, double art thing: the second part of my art is this bit where you get to see how absolutely insane just me being me makes some people. Music by Natalie Jayne Clark Page 19
I was comparing your videos for this album to previous ones that you've made. The older videos contain a little bit more in the way of oddities and colour. But what you've released for this new album, so far, are all on a stage, very dark, and you're always wearing a black outfit, whatever that outfit might be. Could tell me a bit more about that? I think I'm ready to not be so jokey. I’m ready to be very clear on what I’m saying. I've always used humour or sexiness or colour or fashion and stuff as a way to sort of make it palatable. I wanted the starkness of that on stage. I shot them all in one day as well.
So how much then does the reaction to it influence what you do next as an artist? Great question. I think I'm almost always just doing what I want to do. I've been making music full time since I was 18 or 19. So it's never far from my mind that whatever I do will be digested by an audience, however big. I don't think I actually know what I'm gonna do. I am so busy with this one that all a part of me can think about next is ‘could I have a holiday?’ I've never done any of this in a manipulative sort of manner. It maybe looks like I've gone, ‘right, do a pop record to get out of a band’ or whatever. It was never that, it was just I've always done what I needed to, and what I want to and I’m sticking to that – I’m being true. I believe it is why people like it, because I'm extremely authentic. There's no bullshit. So I’ll always just stick to that, I think. snackmag.co.uk
Have you seen that film Dogville? It's a very tough watch. It's all set on a soundstage, there's no set – it's all just thrown on the floor, kind of thing. I was really inspired by bringing everything down to the bare minimum of what needs to be there. The idea was that the videos would lead through and it was as if you were seeing a show on a stage, you know? I don't want faff – although I'm shooting one tomorrow that's just silly and funny. I guess it just felt right again. I just stuck to my gut on it all. Affection is a theme I feel throughout your videos and your lyrics. Why do you feature that so heavily throughout your work? I think it’s just where I'm at...oh, although, it was where I was at before too. I don't know what the answer is. I think, given a chance to have a hug or not, I’m gonna take the hug! I'm a Libra. I'm extremely affectionate. No one's ever as affectionate as me. I need it – part of being alive is other humans for me, and then, artistically, it's where my brain goes. As soon as you go, ‘right, I'm going to take a picture of you for the album cover, what do you want?’ To my mind, it was like, ‘me oiled up with all these people around me.’ For me, it's like the lifeblood of being alive.
Photo Credit: Olivia Richardson
How much does gender and sexuality play into your art?
The new album starts with ‘I'm Fine’, which has the sample ‘there's nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged’. Can you tell me how much of that is in your act/persona? The live show is definitely a sort of exorcising of demons. Not just mine – there's five of us going for it. I did a sort of summer school with a load of 18 to 21 year olds, and we had all these discussions. We were making a piece of theatre about consent – it was equal parts exciting and amazing, because so many of them were comfortable with their sexuality and not frightened of gender and stuff in the way that I was at their age, but so many of them still are just frightened by men every day. We did this chat about what you do to keep safe. When I was making the record, I was like, ‘one of them said this fucking amazing thing, what was it?’ and I went and found it. 'You are either deranged and crazy or you're doing what everyone wants from you, and there's no room for middle ground.' I want to be an attractive, great, sexy woman who people like, as well as being angry and fed up and scared, and full of hate for our lot and what we've been given. What's the middle point of that? I guess it's me. But I mean, I've been called crazy forever. I don't think I am. I think I'm just literally trying to exist in a world where I didn't do what would have kept me safe or would have made everyone happy or would have made sense. And I'm not that radical.
Never very consciously, but I was in a band with all men from when I was 18. Like, my life has been ‘how to be the girl in the band’. I didn't realize how much that had caused a lot of issues I've had and a lot of shit things that have happened to me, and I sort of realized there is a difference. I was always a tomboy but I was a dickhead with it when I was early teens to early 20s. Acting the cool girl, you know what I mean? But actually, that all wears off fucking quickly. This is the root cause of what’s up with me. I often felt like a burden or a diva or whatever. But my needs were different because of my gender. And that's as simple as I can say it. My work is living in this post-realisation world of ‘I'm full of quite a lot of anger’. There's quite a lot of injustice about my 20s and teens that I'm processing and then there's also stuff from more recent times. [Thinking] to make people fancy me I’ve gotta do xyz and now knowing I didn't have to do any of this, and all of this was fuuucked by the way. It's quite a hard space to live in – but it's also sort of exhilarating because I can see a way forward for the rest of my life now it’s not being addled by such bullshit. So all my work is gendered, I guess, because I'm still dealing with the realisation that being a woman isn't equal. It's not fucking fair. People are like, ‘Oh, the album's very timely’, and I’m like, ‘it's not, it's not! This has been my life forever. How dare you, just because you know there's some women in the press at the minute that have been killed – that's always happening!’ Prioritise Pleasure is out on 22nd October via Fiction Records. Self Esteem will play The Bongo Club, Edinburgh on 6th November and 7th November at Audio, Glasgow.
Music by Natalie Jayne Clark Page 21
Rather than wasting a minute of your time (forget about it) with a lengthy intro, let’s agree that Parquet Courts are one of the greatest bands of the past decade; and a live act everyone should see at least twice. SNACK caught up with Parquet Courts bassist Sean Yeaton to discuss robots, dancing and (read the full interview on our website) the famous Glaswegian creative fighting ability! Hi Sean, how are you doing? Good man, great. How’s the weather over there? Glasgow is dull and grey at the moment. God, I wish I was there, man. It's so hot here! People tell me I have some sort of Scottish lineage; you know how people in America are, nobody is American. I can’t stand the heat. I love it over there. I would do just fine if I could have a Glaswegian climate. It gets very dark in autumn and winter for you guys, doesn’t it? We’ve been there so many times. We were there for Halloween years ago [the band’s first Scottish show in Mono in 2013, where the group appeared wearing cardboard masks]. I remember it being a lot of fun. I love Glasgow, and we worked with a Scottish guy on this record, producer Rodaidh McDonald. New album Sympathy For Life is another evolution in the sound of the band. Did you decide on a distinct theme before starting the record? Yes, we very much wanted to make a record that embodied a live music experience but more like at a club or party level with DJs, not necessarily a live band. As a live band, we wanted to capture DJ music. That sounds crazy, is that the way people say it? You know what I mean! All photo credits: Pooneh Ghana
Many of the songs evolved from jams and have been much edited. Do you think we’ll hear the longer forms, and was that a fun process? I loved the process. I feel I’ve used the same process in many other parts of my life since, in every Parquet Courts record going back to American Specialities [the band’s debut album, released in 2011], which almost doesn’t count as it was the first piece of evidence the four of us were hanging out. This record sounds more like that; we were willing to accept different avenues for how it might go. We were open to different techniques to get there. Jamming is still the primary form of communication we’ve maintained over the ten years or so. When we’re hanging out, and it’s really good, there’s no difference to us laughing about God knows what to when we’re all on stage or in the studio. The band comes across as a very tight unit. What is it like working with external producers? It’s fun, I love it. It’s good for us, we have a lot of ideas, it’s important to have someone who is able to direct traffic! We’ve been very lucky to work with producers who have an excellent work flow, to the point where I can reference what I want to sound like to obscure points, and they’re there. You can ask Rodaidh or John [Parish, producer] about my reference points for this record, stuff like ‘I want to sound like I’m skateboarding’ and their ability to understand and take that language is great. Dealing with the players and running it through to their universe and getting it back to you in the way you heard it in your head, or better – usually better – it’s great, and we need it.
Music by Andrew Reilly Page 23
Before the recording process began, you all took some time apart to come back refreshed with new ideas. What did you do? Andrew went to Italy, where he took acid and lifted weights. What did I do? I live in the middle of nowhere, and up until the pandemic, I was beginning to resent it. But it’s been a godsend since, as we have all this land. I’m always trying to put up swings or spiral staircases around trees, but honestly, I was just trying to find the delicate balance of someone who lives their dream playing music, and being a dad. I tried to be a better dad during that time, that and some other cool shit. It’s been awesome to see so much of my kids, and they got to come to the soundcheck of our first show back. They’re both old enough, their personalities are developed, they’ve got so many questions. And they’re excited. I’ve been looking to bring them into my life for so long.
It all depends on the situation. I’ve been known to dance to ‘Crazy Train’ [by Ozzy Osbourne] or Metallica. I love that song that goes on about blue cheese [‘Whoopty’ by CJ]; a good hook gets me every time. Talking Heads or Devo, that’s always good. There’s some good country stuff, like ‘Dallas’ from Flatlanders. I like a lot of atonal stuff, like Scott Walker or that band Daughters. They’re not friends of mine, but I’ve known them for years; they were a grindcore band, and now they’re very artistic. You know what’s a great record to dance to from start to finish? You know the German band Trio, they did ‘Da Da Da’? Dude, their whole record is so sick. The more I looked into this band, the more insane they are. [Sean then plays ‘Out In The Streets’ from the band’s second album, Bye Bye.] I listen to that song a lot.
It’s been funny at times, taking my daughter to soccer practice. I have a tattoo of a six-fingered hand with an eyeball on it, and no one else is ‘that guy’. I’m not embarrassed by it, but I have felt like an ‘other’ in all arenas I exist in, so having the kids with the band at times is helpful. I exist somewhere in the middle of Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire and Robin Williams in Hook. Getting back to the new album: it’s a very danceable record. What artists or songs make you dance? There’s this one song called ‘Weekend’ by Class Action. It’s insane, the song is ridiculous. It’s a great disco funk pop song. I like to dance in all sorts of different ways – that Fela Kuti song ‘Zombie’ always gets me going.
All photo credits: Pooneh Ghana
Europe won’t see you until next year, but you’re about to tour in the US. Are you all set? We’ve played two shows so far, and they were both great. We head out on Friday [17th September] for a stretch of shows, so that’ll be a better sense of touring. We’ve a lot of precautions that we’re diligent about. We’ve never been a band that goes crazy with partying. We’re so excited to play again, and if we have to take baby steps, that’s fine and to be expected. I remember pulling my hair out a year ago thinking ‘we won’t touch our instruments for two years, I can’t believe that!’ So now we’re starting up again, it feels really good. Parquet Courts is now more than 10 years old – how would you sum up the first decade? It feels young compared to 20, and so many things are 20 years old. So much of my time has been spent in this fucking band, but I love it. I’ve loved it from the start, now more than ever, I guess. It just feels even better to get out there and play with my friends. These two shows we’ve played have felt like the most fun. It’s like a ghost has come up to you and said [exaggerated trembling voice], ‘Cherish every moment, cherish it!’ I feel like I’m doing that now. We toured so much – it was like a machine, it was always on. I know there were moments I took for granted, purely because time didn’t allow for us to do as much as we’d like to. Now, I’m smiling, jumping around. I broke a string the other night. I’m just looking forward to seeing you all again in real life. Sympathy For Life is released on 22nd October on Rough Trade Records Full interview at snackmag.co.uk/parquetcourts
Music by Andrew Reilly Page 25
Photo Credit: Rhianonne Stone
Political, surreal, and mystical: Live at the Pink Hotel is set to open its doors in Glasgow for one night this October. The night will be headlined by riot grrl legends The Twistettes, with support from new kids on the block Rubber Rose, and Leeds-based Joshua Zero. SNACK caught up with event organiser Josephine Sillars, Jess Williams (both Rubber Rose), and Jo D’Arc of The Twistettes, to talk about making gigs safe for everyone, societal attitudes to women ageing, and owning your own narrative. The lineup for the show is tough and punky, which isn’t too uncommon in Glasgow. What is less common – and exciting – is that the show will be run from the ground up, and populated by, women and non-binary people. This roots-up focus on inclusivity was important to everyone involved. Jess says: ‘We champion inclusivity in the music that we make and in what we’re planning here.’ This is a far cry from gigs and festivals claiming inclusivity with token queer or female lead acts. This isn’t where the concept ends – they are keen to highlight that the gig is being set up as a safe space, with gig-goers (and acts) having space to flag issues and take a minute out if necessary. Jess explains, 'Safe spaces are at the forefront of our minds,’ with the focus on safety ‘making it an enjoyable experience for everyone’. snackmag.co.uk
LIVE AT THE PINK HOTEL
Rubber Rose’s debut single ‘Worship The Crone’ is a bass-heavy, droning punk track that attacks head-on some common perceptions of ageing women. Jess explains, ‘A lot of pagan mythologies and Jungian psychology talk about the maid, the mother and the crone. It’s about how the Crone is the freest of them all – she has no servitude to anyone. She’s just been let off the hook, doing what the fuck she wants.’ It is this conversation about ageism, specifically for women, that is really powerful, and something rarely discussed in rock spaces. Jo explains, ‘I think we were 24 and they were like, ‘Oh well, that’s you [finished].’ It’s so weird, this idea. I don’t think anyone would have said to guys at 24, 'That's you gone past it, you should probably just retire now.’ It’s easy to agree; few people are telling AC/DC to hang up the school uniforms, and plenty of dudes keep rocking well into pension age. One thing for sure is that the show will be based in the real, with strong political and social messaging from the bands. The Twistettes are notably political: Jo’s dad and family are miners, which Jo says inspires their music to have a strong class consciousness. She is quick to point out that while some songs are talking about feminist issues, this isn’t always the case, and people often assume a feminist message in songs where there is none: ‘So you’re a women in a punk band, so you sing about feminist stuff ‘cause that’s just what happens, isn’t it? There’s this weird disconnect that people have where they think you can only sing about being a woman.’ Check out ‘Tory Cunts’ from last year’s album Live From Capture Works if, for some reason, you’re in any doubt about their range. There’s surely no room for misinterpretation here. Josephine chimes in, mentioning how women immediately become politicised in spaces, and that the music world is no different. ‘The whole angle of the show is that we’re trying to highlight voices that aren’t always highlighted through the lineup. We’re trying to take over a space that is, in a way, not how you’d previously imagined it. We’re already politicised – why not make it our own narrative?’ The Twistettes, Rubber Rose and Joshua Zero will be ‘Live at the Pink Hotel’ at Glasgow’s Room 2 on 16th October The Twistettes
Music by Dominic Cassidy Page 27
BURNET Graeme Macrae’s Burnet’s Case Study is among the most eagerly anticipated publications of the year. In 2016 his novel His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and it remains an incredibly influential and widely discussed Scottish text. Add to this his Inspector Gorski novels, and you have a writer who offers fiction with a style and substance all of his own. SNACK spoke to him about Case Study. Case Study deals with some complex themes, including identity, duality, the concept of self, and even the nature of truth. Why did you want to write this novel? I never think about themes when I’m writing. I don’t even really like the word. But I think themes are something that should emerge as you write, rather than constitute a starting point. My interest in writing this book really came from reading volumes of psychiatric case studies and becoming more and more interested in the dynamic between the therapist and the client, and the question of which one might be saner than the other.
It is also a playful book, with different texts woven together. Do you enjoy the idea of 'playing' with readers? Well, I definitely like to use different kinds of texts to tell the story, as I did in His Bloody Project. For me, this is just a question of using the range of devices available to a novelist. I think the novel is a tremendously flexible form and has been since its very beginnings. I never think of myself as ‘playing’ with the reader. I hate the idea of being deliberately manipulative. But if it seems like I’m playing with the reader, it’s perhaps because when I set out I don’t know where I’m going, so developments in the narrative are often as much of a surprise to me as they are to the reader.
One of the central protagonists, psychiatrist Collins Braithwaite, does terrible things but proves to be a complicated, even charismatic, creation. Are you ever surprised at how your characters develop? I am often surprised and sometimes horrified. But it’s in these moments when I find myself writing something that I had no idea would happen that I feel a piece of work is coming alive. Psychiatrist RD Laing is just one of a few 'real people' who are mentioned, and his shadow seems to loom large over the story. Is that fair? It’s definitely fair! I re-read The Divided Self before I started writing the book, and found it astonishing, not only because of what I see as its insightful and humane view of mental illness but also because it’s a book which describes certain behaviours or traits that I recognise in myself and which I think seep into most of my fictional characters. In Case Study, my psychotherapist character Collins Braithwaite sets himself up quite consciously as a rival to Laing – he’s out to steal his enfant terrible thunder! So yes, Laing casts a long shadow over the book, but hopefully one which might lead people to engage with his ideas. The book also comments on the life of a writer, or at least Collins Braithwaite's experience. Do you share any experiences? Well, at one point Braithwaite refuses to alter a word of his first book, so my own editor might say we have something in common. Ha ha.
There is brief mention of Søren Kierkegaard's The Sickness Unto Death. Was this an inspiration for Case Study? And were there other texts which were important to you? Kierkegaard’s was a book which I read purely to inform a section in which I describe Braithwaite’s own views on the self (a section which readers might be relieved to know that I cut significantly from the first draft!), so it wasn’t a text that really informed the book as whole. Aside from The Divided Self and other works by Laing, I deliberately sought out works written from the perspective of the patient rather than the therapist – first-hand accounts of madness – and those definitely informed the characterisations. Aside from Case Study and His Bloody Project you have written two Gorski novels, following the cases of Inspector Georges Gorski. Are you splitting yourself as a writer, in the manner of Iain Banks? In light of all this talk of divided selves, the idea of ‘splitting’ myself as a writer seems very pertinent. But actually I try very hard not to analyse what I’m doing as a writer. I have a terrible fear that if I become too self-conscious about what I do, I’ll kill it. So I don’t really draw any distinction between the Gorski books and these stand-alone novels. In fact, I find myself revisiting some quite familiar tropes, whoever the character or whatever the historical setting. It seems I can’t escape my own obsessions. Case Study is out now, published by Saraband Books by Alistair Braidwood Page 29
Push the Boat Out is a new, multidisciplinary festival that focuses on poetry, hip hop, visual art, and the spoken word scene across the UK and Ireland. The festival will hit Edinburgh’s Summerhall from Friday 15th – Sunday 17th October. SNACK spoke with Director/Programmer Jenny Niven and acclaimed novelist and poet Salena Godden, who will be appearing at the festival. Push the Boat Out is a new festival for Scotland's literature scene. Jenny, can you tell us more? What can we expect in October? JN: Push the Boat Out is a festival that encompasses poetry, spoken word and hip hop. But there is lots of other textural stuff in there – there’s installations, artist talks, there’s a strange experience we have developed called Poetry Mile, there’s takeovers with other literature organisations, there’s film, there’s audio. So we have kind of brought together all these interesting disciplines that people are working in, in poetry and language at the moment, and have squished them all together for a weekend of fun, inspiration and interrogation of what poetry is doing right now. snackmag.co.uk
All Images by: Louise Montgomery
Salena, what compelled you to get involved and take a punt on this new and boldly programmed festival? SG: The people organising it are people that I’ve worked with in the past, and my friends and poets I really love are doing it, so it just looked like a jolly good idea. And Kevin Williamson is amazing – he always puts together a good programme, of course, with Neu! Reekie! And I’ve always done lots of amazing gigs and events with them. So I imagine it will be that kind of energy and good vibe that’s made such powerful events over the years. Edinburgh is always such an exciting city and a great place to perform in. So I am happy to be returning there in a slightly different format, not doing the Book Festival, but doing something a bit different. Salena, what can we expect from your event? SG: It’s gonna be really high energy; it’s gonna be great fun. I really love the venue and I love all the people that are on the bill with me. The whole lineup, the whole festival is extraordinary. I am really looking forward to seeing some people that I’ve missed, and writers and poets I admire and look up to. There’s a lot of heroes that are gonna be there for this festival; there’ll be a bit of a get-together as well as we haven’t seen each other for a long time. I’m really excited and I can’t wait.
There’s a real mix of Scottish and UK-wide artists and poets on the bill. What were your criteria when you were putting that programme together? JN: There’s a real interesting dynamic. There's a lot of urgency about the writing that’s really interesting, and we very much started with the poets that we read and like and listen to, as most programmers do. But I think when we started it still wasn’t exactly clear what we would be able to do performancewise, so we started to make these tiny little podcasts trying to show, curatorially, what we are interested in. And that was really nice because it allowed us from the very beginning to reach out to poets whose work we admire and say, 'Do you like the sound of the project – would you want to be involved?’ And as we built the model over the last year we were able to begin those conversations with different writers and artists that we wanted to work with, holding off knowing what the actual expression of that would be like because of the COVID situation. I think it means that when you get to the programme, you’re seeing a bunch of writers that across our team we all admire and are really excited by their work, and I think that constitutes the programme.
Poetry by Keira Brown Page 31
Salena, with your event on the Saturday night, will we be hearing from Mrs Death or will we get to hear a mix of old and new poetry from you? SG: I’ve got some new poems that I want to try out that are unpublished, some new work, but I’m also going to be reading from Mrs Death Misses Death. So much of that book is rooted in Edinburgh, and I just know it will go down a bomb there. It’s a bold and brilliant programme of poets and musicians, with some more unusual events on there too. Which events are your personal highlights and those that you would recommend people check out? JN: I think the first one, Poems from a Dangerous Year. Within that we’ve got a wee dash of internationalism: we’ve got the former Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Lorna Goodison, who will be joining us from Jamaica via live link up. And then we have Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Nick Makoha, Caroline Bird and Roseanne Watt, who are all amazing poets from the UK and Ireland and who are doing really interesting things. And we have asked all of them to read a couple of poems that they have written over lockdown, or poems that have really spoken to them, because we’re trying to think about what the role of poetry has been and is throughout these weird and turbulent times. Throughout all these different historical shifts and periods of drama and crisis, poetry has had a place, and I am really interested in what poetry is doing right now. There’s a lot of stuff in the programme that is quite political or it comments on society or the environment, because that is the sort of work that I find really inspiring. And I think that’s what we’re asking people to do on that opening night: to use poetry as a lens to look at what we’ve been through. snackmag.co.uk
There are four themes in the programme that aren’t totally explicit, but they’ve been kind of the guiding principle as we’ve put it together. They are: social justice and representation; healing and recovery (such a big area for poetry for the last wee while); climate change and eco-poetics; and virtual and other realities, which gives you a bit of a sweep across what we are interested in. But that Friday night, the opener, I hope, will set the scene. We are also going to be joined by the cellist Esther Swift, who has taken some of Edwin Morgan’s poems and set them to music. The centenary of Edwin Morgan was last year, and his poetry is the inspiration for the festival’s title. That will be a really nice event. SG: I think it’s all one massive highlight!
All Images by: Louise Montgomery
Most of the festival is in real life, from what I can gather, but is there going to be an online component to it as well for those folks out of Edinburgh? JN: The full online line-up will be on our website and we will put it out via socials and stuff on 1st October, if not before. We will definitely be doing lots of stuff online – we’re going to stream things live during the festival, package some stuff up and show it afterwards. And also there will be quite a few of the sessions, the more kind of discursive discussion-based ones, that we’ll turn into podcasts. And it's mostly happening in Edinburgh's Summerhall, which has been a key component of the festival since you began to develop it. Any particular reason for choosing Summerhall? JN: Yeah, that was actually Kevin’s idea. He really envisaged that this was the best venue for this type of thing because what we were wanting to do from the start was to bring people together in one space where they will be able to take it over for the period of the festival. Hopefully people will be inspired to experiment, because I think poetry sometimes feels like it's quite sectiona,l in a way, in that people might like some bits of it but are not often exposed to other bits. So the idea we are trying to put forward is that if you like language, you might also like this other thing. Also, the venue was quite important for making people feel that they can roam around between different spaces and spend time there. That’s why we’ve got artistic installations as well, and the lovely folks from Lighthouse Books who are going to be doing our sales for us. They are going to have a little bespoke Push the Boat Out bookshop within Summerhall. So the venue gives us that rough and punky experimental sort of feel, but it also allows us to provide a home for our guests over the three days of the festival. In other times, we would like to do a festival that is similar to the music festival model where you just buy one ticket for the whole thing. That just wasn’t possible with COVID, but it might be something we attempt to do in the future. Push the Boat Out runs 15th till 17th October at Edinburgh’s Summerhall shows.pushtheboatout.org summerhall.co.uk Poetry by Keira Brown Page 33
FOODIE NEWS EDINBURGH
Social Bite, the Edinburgh-based 'pay it forward' business, have opened a new cafe at the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters at Gogarburn. This joins their site within Bank of Scotland on Argyle Street in Glasgow. social-bite.co.uk
Strathclyde University’s Strath Union has moved from John St to 51 Richmond Street, on the other side of Rottenrow Gardens and it’s a union fit for the modern era The food on offer ranges from bao buns to noodle bowls via mac and cheese. The bar sells cocktails, craft beers and wine. There is a new venue space that will be ideal for intimate gigs and comedy nights. strathunion.com
Known for 'molecular mixology', where drinks meet theatre, The Alchemist chain is a feature in many cities in England and Wales and now they have finally come to Scotland with a cocktail bar and restaurant opening this month at the new St James Quarter. thealchemist.uk.com/venues/edinburgh Pizza and pasta restaurant Vapiano, just off St Andrew Square has reopened after temporarily closing in May 2020 for the first lockdown. uk.vapiano.com
The people behind Eighty Eighty at 88 Dumbarton Rd have now opened a second restaurant with a focus on natural wine and small plates. Food choices include Cumbrae & Lindisfarne oysters, IJ Mellis cheeses, lamb tartare and kombu cured monkfish. Hooligan can be found above the Drake on Lynedoch St, just off Woodlands Rd. hooliganwine.co.uk You won’t need to go far to find Glasgow’s coolest new cocktail bar, in fact, Fly South is right next door to Hooligan and shares the same toilets but is a separate business. But it is the sort of place which evokes a sense of travel, to Buenos Aires in the 1920s perhaps or the set of a James Bond movie. The walls behind the bar feature an array of alcoholic drinks from around the world, but if cocktails aren’t your thing they also have a selection of wines and craft beer etc. Big Counter on Victoria Rd have ditched their burger menu and are now serving up an eclectic mix of Spanish-influenced dishes.
KILMARNOCK Cook School Scotland has reopened with half-day, full-day and cook at home classes now available. A full day course is usually £100 per person but right now you can book a course for two for £150. Classes are held on Fridays and Saturdays so check the calendar to see what is available as each month features a number of different cuisines or specialities. cookschool.org
Glaswegin has released a new Raspberry and Rhubarb pink gin. This new release is flavoured with ten carefully selected botanicals – Raspberry, Rhubarb, Milk Thistle, Italian Juniper, Russian Coriander, Angelica, Orange and Chamomile Flowers, Bay Leaves and Pink Peppercorns. Creating a fruity, soft and almost creamy drink. The perfect serve is with tonic and topped with mint and raspberries. glaswegin.com
PRODUCT There are now many Scottish gin and vodka brands on the market but one thing which helps Aberdeenshire’s Esker stand out is that each spirit is distilled with local silver birch sap to impart a unique flavour. They have recently released a Spiced Pear Vodka (40% / 70cl) which tastes great with soda water and ice, or with ginger ale. eskerspirits.com
Jump Ship Brewing is celebrating as their Yardarm lager has been named the best alcoholfree lager in the world at the World Beer Awards. This is a crisp lager is brewed with Citra and Styrian Bobek hops. The beer is gluten-free, vegan and lower in calories than standard beers. jumpship.beer Jump Ship Brew
Most traditional vodkas are made from grains like rye and wheat, while British vodka tends to be made from potatoes (Chase, Ogilvery etc.). Royal Mash (40% / 70cl) have taken this a step further and use only oversized Jersey Royal potatoes. These would have been discarded rather than sold before, so the end result is not just a smooth vodka but one which is sustainable too. royalmash.com Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 35
To the uninitiated, Japanese cuisine is just sushi, and sushi is simply a combination of rice and raw fish, but actually that’s not true. Sushi isn’t even originally Japanese, like tempura which is Portuguese, or perhaps more like green tea, which traces its origins to China. Sushi began life as ‘narezushi’ on the Chinese mainland, potentially two millennia ago. Think of narezushi as a more basic, less aesthetically pleasing form of rice and fermented fish that was preserved with salt.
Over time narezushi developed into nigiri, strips of sliced seafood sitting atop sticky rice and assembled into a brick shape. As tastes changed and techniques developed, rice vinegar replaced salt and the rice became more palatable and was accepted to be eaten alongside the fish.
▌ 1 ½ tsp salt
Sushi didn’t reach the western world until the last century, and in efforts to encourage it to a wider population, it was adapted to western tastes. And so the California roll and other adaptations like chicken sushi were born. Nowadays you can buy sushi-making kits and attend sushi-making classes, so you can incorporate whatever you want into your own creations.
▌ 250g sushi rice ▌ 1 yellow pepper ▌ 1 large carrot ▌ 6 tbsp rice vinegar ▌ 2 tbsp caster sugar + 1 tsp for carrots
▌ 2 tbsp peas, cooked (frozen are easier to crush) ▌ 4 sheets sushi nori (roasted seaweed sheets) ▌ 2 tbsp sushi ginger ▌ 2 tbsp sesame seeds ▌ Soy sauce (to serve, in a dipping bowl) ▌ Equipment ▌ Bamboo rolling mat (optional). You can usually buy these in supermarkets, sometimes as part of a sushi kit. This makes for sturdier sushi but isn’t essential unless you want to be a sushi wizard. ▌ Tinfoil ▌ Clingfilm
Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 37
METHOD ▌ Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear, then add to a saucepan with 330ml of water. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes covered with a lid. Remove from heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes, without removing the lid. ▌ Preheat the oven to 180ºC /160ºC fan/ 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. ▌ Remove the seeds from the yellow pepper, and place it (skin side up) onto a baking tray. Drizzle or spray with a little oil, then roast for 25 minutes until it is soft and the skin is just starting to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. ▌ To pickle the carrot: peel and trim the ends off, then cut it into matchsticks. Place the carrot into a shallow bowl. Mix together 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sugar and ½ tsp salt, and pour this over the carrots and some warm water so that the liquid covers the carrots. Leave aside until ready to use. ▌ When the rice has completely cooled, add the remaining 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Mix until fully combined.
Pickled Carrot & Ginger Maki Rolls Lay a sheet of nori on the bamboo rolling mat. Spoon about a quarter of the rice onto the nori, and use the back of a wet spoon to spread it to the edges of the nori sheet, leaving about a centimetre at each end to allow it to stick together. Place a line of sushi ginger from each end of the rice, followed by a line of pickled carrot. Use a wet finger to slightly dampen the edges of the nori sheet. Roll up tightly, squeezing as you go to make the roll as tight as possible. Trim the ends off the roll, then slice the roll into 8 equal slices. Roasted Pepper Nigiri Cut six equal-sized rectangles from the roasted pepper. Take a dessert spoon full of rice, wet your hands, and squeeze and shape it into roughly the same shape as a pepper slice. Add a slice of sushi ginger to the rice shapes, then add a slice of pepper. Cut strips of nori about half a centimetre wide, then dampen each one with a wet finger, and wrap one around each pepper and rice shape. Pea & Carrot Rolls Lay a sheet of nori onto your foil. Add about a quarter of the rice onto the nori, and use the back of a wet spoon to spread it to the edges of the nori sheet. Sprinkle 1 tbsp sesame seeds over the rice, then cover it with another sheet of cling film. Flip over the nori so that the rice is now face down, and peel off the cling film over the nori sheet. Squash the peas with the back of a fork and put them in a line across the nori, then place the remaining pickled carrots on top of the peas. Roll everything up tightly, remembering to squeeze the roll as you go. Trim the ends off the roll, then slice the roll into 8 equal slices. Serve with a dipping bowl of soy sauce and optional wasabi.
Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 39
ELVIRA MISTRESS OF THE DARK
It is no secret that I am a gargantuan fan of Elvira. I have merch. I have pre-ordered her book, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark. I have played the licensed Elvira pinball machine. I even watched her wonderfully woeful reality competition show And this time last year, we inducted her cult classic comedy Elvira: Mistress of the Dark into the (Not) Gay Movie Club, an illustrious honour we don’t give to just anyone. Elvira, played by Cassandra Peterson, is a timeless icon who doesn’t seem to have aged even slightly since 1981. Actual witchcraft may be afoot. 2021 marks not only Peterson’s 70th birthday but her 40th anniversary of performing as Elvira. This is an incredible feat for any performer, made especially impressive by the fact that Peterson remains at the top of her game, and there is a horrifying host of celebrations lined up to mark the occasion in style. snackmag.co.uk
Styled after glamorous ghouls like Vampira and Morticia Addams, Elvira is a character conceived 40 years ago by comedian Cassandra Peterson, one that fuses the worlds of horror, comedy, and glamour like no other. The premise of her original schtick was to commentate old school horror and sci-fi on her TV show, Elvira’s Movie Macabre, which launched her to stardom thanks to her penchant for double entendre, usually regarding her cleavage. Elvira became a pop culture icon, and Peterson became the puppeteer of an incredibly long-lasting, lucrative enterprise. There is virtually no one – perhaps with the exception of RuPaul – who has sustained such a character-centred career the way Elvira has. Of course, Elvira is a celebrated gay icon. It’s like she was built for us: your cool camp aunt who is glamorous, tells filthy jokes and possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of horror movies. All while looking like that! And there is something inherently queer about Elvira, who remains herself unapologetically and celebrates the culture considered too low brow, camp or disgusting by mainstream critics.
Just watch Mistress of the Dark: Elvira is burned at the stake by the do-gooders in her new town, yet she somehow survives intact, oozing unshakeable self-confidence. Elvira is always in on the joke and is the first to send herself up, before turning her razor wit to whatever is on screen during her commentaries. But ultimately Elvira is there to make you feel good. She offers escape for an hour, bitching about Frankenstein and indulging in the macabre. This month sees Elvira finally release her autobiography. Since its publication in the US, the book has made headlines because of some of Peterson’s revelations, including her experience of sexual assault at the hands of NBA player Wilt Chamberlain and her coming out. Notoriously private, she reveals she has been in a relationship with Teresa Wierson for 19 years. She stated in September 2021 that she had been reluctant to come out, fearing the backlash that doing so would have on her career. Hearing that very universal fear from someone who has been such a mainstay of queer culture is poignant and humanising. Fans have never had such access to Peterson, who has carefully cultivated a fixed distance between the figure we adore and the mastermind behind. For a character branded as so bold and brash, the mystery of the woman under the wig has had an alluring appeal for decades.
What is the secret to Elvira’s success? Other than being the epitome of charisma and glamour, I guess it’s her ability to remain flexible for four decades, to possess some magic that appeals to so many. She flies under the radar just enough to feel like a subcultural icon but has achieved a longevity rarely seen in Hollywood; she appeals to queer audiences thanks to her bawdy badinage but sells out family-friendly shows on Not-Scary Farm every Halloween; she’s 70 and looks like she bathes in formaldehyde. But this book has reminded us that Elvira – both the woman behind the icon and the character herself – is a survivor, someone who has stuck around and overcome more than we would expect in the pursuit of creating joy for others. She’s bold, fearless, and embodies the strength so many of us wish we had. I fully expect to be writing this same article in another 40 years, where Elvira will look exactly the same and is peddling the same shtick: making fun of horror movies in a huge rock and roll beehive. And we don’t need much more than that. Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special Special is on Shudder from 27th September Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark, published by Hachette Books, is available in the UK from 14th October
Fangs (sorry, fans; it’s contagious) will be delighted that Elvira will also be returning to our screens. Shudder is presenting a marathon event, Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special Special to celebrate the Mistress of the Dark’s marvellous milestone.
LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 41
ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES In my family, Halloween always was, and remains, a monstrous affair, our biggest celebration perhaps, after Christmas. I struggle to think of a film I have seen more times than Addams Family Values, a sequel that fully captures the magic of the franchise and remains essential Halloween viewing to this day. What sets Addams Family Values apart from its predecessor — and from most family focused comedies — is the balance struck between its cutting, satirical humour and the emotional weight conjured up by its stellar cast. Oh, and it’s high camp from start to finish. And on that, let’s induct Addams Family Values into the NGMC. For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t somehow seen this Bank Holiday Channel 5 staple, the film follows the eccentric, ghoulish family as they welcome a new member to the fold – the alarmingly named Pubert – and go on to rescue Uncle Fester from his new gold digging wife, who [SPOILER ALERT] is also a serial killer. She masterfully separates the family – understanding quickly that their strength lies in unity – and they must rescue Fester from her villainous clutches. Subplots include Wednesday snackmag.co.uk
and Pugsley suffering at summer camp, Morticia entering the world of work, and Pubert becoming a blond, rosy-cheeked cherub as a result of the family’s traumatic circumstance. The film’s greatest asset is its cast, some of whom we do not meet in the first film. The chemistry between its lead actors Raúl Juliá and gay icon Angelica Huston is palpable; the former is bombastic and impassioned by virtually everything. 'At his request, I would rip out my eyes. At his command, I would crawl on my belly through hot coals and broken glass,' he says of Fester, while the latter remains calm and vampish throughout. Huston is always lit separately from everyone else in a scene, with one beam of light across her eyes that gradually fades outward. The kind of energy taken to preserve something so needlessly over the top is the reason we are discussing this film. The larger cast is excellent, especially the chilling deadpan of Christina Ricci as Wednesday, the addition of legendary comic actor Carol Kane as Grandmama Addams and, of course, a star turn by Christine Baranski as Becky Martin-Granger, who puts the 'camp' in camp counsellor.
Addams Family Values is a visual feast and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The aforementioned production of Morticia alone is impressive, but the entire film has so much to appreciate aesthetically: the contrast between the Addams children (dressed in Victorian swimwear) and their all-American privileged counterparts at summer camp; the special effects, not least the prominence and acrobatics of Thing; and the hair and costuming, which captures the caricature of each character perfectly. The film is hugely satirical, the family itself parodying the archetypal family that had been part of the cultural zeitgeist on TV in the 60s. One need look no further than the iconic Thanksgiving set piece in the film’s third act, after Wednesday, Pugsley, and Joel have endured a summer at Camp Chippewa. Wednesday is largely treated to the best straight-man punchlines in the movie whereas the masterful Raúl Juliá chews up every scene with flair and melodrama: 'To mirth, to merriment... to manslaughter!'. The script for Family Values is flawless. However, the gem in the crown that is Addams Family Values is the character of Debbie Jellinsky, the homicidal gold digger played with aplomb by Joan Cusack. She is in full drag: dresses immaculately in white, sports the perfect blonde bob and full face of makeup, and remains outrageously over the top from start to finish. Unlike the family she has chosen to torment, Debbie truly is a monster. She has killed several men in the hopes of securing her own fortune and is a master of disguise and deception. The character is a masterclass in camp.
She even makes a visually appealing, organised slideshow detailing all her past victims, for crying out loud. Cusack evokes the glamorous femmes fatales of old Hollywood but injects such humour and gleeful malice. Put this performance in the Smithsonian. But ultimately, the Addams family provides a sharp contrast to the conservative Americans who rallied behind the Bush-era slogan of 'family values,' a section of society that has hardly dissipated in the last three decades. Screenwriter Paul Rudnick has reflected on his intention behind the script: 'I did also want the movie’s name to be a response to the Republican Party’s constant harping on 'family values' as if only conservatives could define a loving family. In Republican terms, 'family values' is always code for censorship and exclusion, and Republicans still refuse to respect or even acknowledge, for example, LGBTQ families. I like to believe that the Addams Family is far more loving and accepting than their enemies. Lesson: be more like an Addams. Some of us are lucky enough to have close and accepting families, but many LGBTQ+ people simply don’t, relying heavily instead on a chosen family that loves them as they are. And I guess I see my own family in the Addams – perhaps with less bloodlust. But regardless of who you’re with this year, indulge in the morbid macabre and merriment of an iconic troupe that epitomises unconditional love, the importance of haphazard bowling balls and, of course, wholesome family values. Oh, and Happy Halloween.
Cusack savours every moment and leans into the cartoon villain: she gift wraps a bomb intended for Fester with ribbon. Meanwhile the 'Ballerina Barbie' monologue, recited as she holds the family captive, lives rent free in my head: 'Graceful. Delicate.'
Addams Family Values is currently streaming on Netflix
LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 43
Track by Track: Vitalic Dissidænce Episode 1 Photo Credit: Yann Rabanier
For 20 years, Vitalic (Pascal Arbez-Nicolas to his mum and, presumably, accountant) has enthralled lovers of electro and techno with four studio albums and one iconic live album’s worth of maximalist, direct tunes. That’s without mentioning the ongoing legacy of 2001’s breakthrough Poney EP. His last album, 2017’s considerably shinier Voyager, managed to convey a sense of that most elusive of taboos in dance music – that of getting older. Like the rest of us, he spent 2020 not going many places and not playing DJ or live sets to anyone. So, he went back to his synths and beatboxes and created what would become his fifth album. This fifth album is now set to be released in two parts. He explains, ‘While composing I realised that eight tracks felt like too little for an album, and sixteen was really over the top, so I decided to cut the whole thing in half…I felt I hadn’t been able to express everything I wanted to on the first volume – like something had been left unfinished’.
Opening track ‘Haute Definition’ is about 25 percent more banging than it has any right to be. A jumpy, almost funky electro bassline drives through a landscape of busy, swirling synths giving way to chiming, layered percussion. There’s actually a good deal more compositional awareness in this than in most of Vitalic’s contemporaries’ output. The driving bass kick thump is fairly consistent throughout the track, but the more tonal elements cleverly ebb and flow throughout, giving a definite sense of linear movement.
Dissidænce Episode 1 appears to have the intention of revisiting the musical styles of Vitalic’s career to date, with the upcoming Episode 2 promising to be composed of harder, faster music aimed at keeping underground sweatboxes in their full complement of sweaty, dancing bodies.
If I thought the opening track was banging, ‘Rave Against the System’ is abrasive enough to strip the enamel off your teeth. Influences outside the techno world are evident, though, and the song can definitely be categorised as electro-punk complete with angry, modal vocals by Parisian icon Kiddy Smile.
As a climbdown from this aggressive, high BPM assault which belongs mostly in times beyond 2am, next track ‘Lost Time’ is a beatless swamp of vibratosoaked synths (think a theremin pitched down a couple of octaves) which would fit seamlessly in the background of a film where there’s imminent danger lurking just out of sight. Ostensibly telling the story of a couple formed on a dancefloor at stupid o’clock, ‘Danse Avec Moi’ reverberates with tangibly dirty energy virtually slipping out of grasp due to sheer perspiration. Hints of early eighties electronica in the arpeggio synths occasionally pick out a more romantic edge to the glorious slime which forms the backbone of the mix. ‘Cosmic Renegade’ might be my favourite track on the whole album. It’s set at a more manageable pace than the outright bangers elsewhere on the record and features sonic textures that interlink, recede, and grow in a manner that can only be described as compositionally mature. Buried between the nods to Teutonic 90s techno there are big fat vocal pads which are almost operatic, beats moving between various levels of filter and a distinct understanding of what makes a booty shake.
It’s all capped off by lead single ‘Carbonized’, a frantically bouncing mass of energy reminiscent of so many French electroclash records from the turn of the century and, indeed, Vitalic’s own 2005 anthem ‘La Rock 01’ (that’s the one that sounds like a car constantly changing gear dropped in DJ sets by Miss Kittin, amongst others). According to the producer himself, it’s about ‘toxic people who can kill without touching, without weapons – just by their nature.’ One of the vocal samples sounds enough like Werner Herzog for me to decide that it definitely is him. I can see what Arbez-Nicolas said about the album seeming unfinished. While he has certainly rediscovered his knack for grooves that tiptoe between aggressive and just downright sexy, it’ll be intriguing to see where the second half of Dissidænce goes and how it complements or counters the first part. On its own, Episode 1 definitely has all of its high points on side 2 of the record but it does feel weirdly incomplete. Whether the second instalment brings everything to a logical conclusion or accentuates the highlights of Episode 1 remains to be seen. Dissidænce Episode 1 is out on 15th October via Civage Music
’14 AM’ begins as an homage to Laurie Anderson’s iconic 1981 smash ‘O Superman’ before emerging from its chrysalis as a more conventional four to the floor groove bouncing off the sampled staccato vocals. If any track on the album could be classified as traditional Vitalic territory, then the maelstrom of high, fidgety, driving synth patterns on ‘Boomer OK’ would be it. Pretty much every cliché of a high energy electro tune is rammed into one groovy five-minute slice of hip-swinging bliss. It’s a challenge to listen to, even in the most sedentary position, without popping your hands in the air and allowing your gluteal sections to bounce along. Music by Stephen McColgan Page 45
Book: Rizzio Denise Mina’s Rizzio is the first of Polygon’s Darkland Tales series, where authors retell stories from Scotland’s rich history, and it kicks the project off with a brutal bang. It recounts the plot to kill Mary Queen of Scots’ Italian secretary and confidant David Rizzio, and rarely has history been so horrific. Mina adds her own inimitable style to proceedings. There are violent and visceral scenes which wouldn’t be out of place in Game of Thrones, with the crisis of faith experienced by the spy Henry Yair leading to a particularly powerful conclusion. Blood is everywhere in Rizzio – in hearts, minds, and dreams, and the stain is impossible to shift. It tells a tale of a powerful woman plotted against by capricious and cruel men who are willing to kill kith, kin, and even their queen to retain their wealth and power. Rizzio proves to be short, sharp, and shocking.
Book: Nina Simone's Gum
Rizzio is out now, published by Polygon Books Alistair Braidwood
On Thursday 1st July, 1999, Nina Simone gave a rare performance as part of Nick Cave's Meltdown Festival, during which she was chewing a piece of gum. That gum ended up on the piano she had played during her performance, and that was by no means the end of the gum’ journey. Warren Ellis, the multi-instrumentalist known for performing in both The Bad Seeds and The Dirty Three, has written Nina Simone’s Gum, a book that explores holding onto those rare moments through tangible mementos. It’s a history of how the gum travels to various places, including an exhibition curated by Nick Cave. In a state of awe after Simone’s grandiose but riveting show, Warren crept onto the stage, took her piece of chewed gum from the piano, wrapped it in her stage towel and put it in a Tower Records bag. The gum remained with him for twenty years, a sacred token and a catalyst for Ellis to venture back to his childhood and his relationship with found objects. Nina Simone's Gum also explores trust, relationships, and connection, as Ellis enlists the help of many to preserve the gum in various ways. A tale about clutching onto experiences and how these become imbued with spirituality, Nina Simone’s Gum is a beguiling photographic record, with images compiled from a mix of Ellis’ own and those of collaborators on the project. With a compelling introduction by Nick Cave, the book is sure to be one that aficionados will enjoy. Nina Simone’s Gum is out now, published by Faber Keira Brown
Album: Here In My Scheme, Here It Ends
‘Cruel’ is the latest release from Leeds-based Zambian/Glaswegian artist Louisa McClure’s solo project KAIROS. With Bhundu Boys-esque guitar licks, the energetic indie pop track draws upon Louisa’s lyrical prowess and hypnotic vocals to balance the sweet rhythmic bounce of the melody. It’s incredibly danceable and is featured on a compilation album, Boundless, from Leed’s label Come Play With Me. It dropped online on the 17th September and is also available on vinyl.
Herbert Powell’s live shows in Glasgow were the stuff of legend. The homegrown four-piece built up a cult following in the city and further afield almost entirely on the basis of their gigs, before seemingly evaporating as an entity into their individual creative gaseous states without releasing an album.
Photo Credit: Mollie Higgins
Boundless features the single ‘Cruel’ and is out now on Come Play With Me Aisha Fatunmbi-Randall
GOODNIGHT LOUISA Single: Diana
Keiran Thomas (vocals, bass), ‘Romeo’ Taylor Stewart (drums), Kay Logan (guitar) and Billy Gaughan (guitar) have released various named recording projects under their own steam but a full HP album always seemed to be a missing jigsaw piece. Here In My Scheme, Here It Ends is ten tracks of energetic, angular songs reminiscent of early Talking Heads with a hint of Zappa, late-era The Damned, and all the assured self-awareness that implies. Highlights ‘Velcro Dinner’ and ‘Birth Mask’ contain enough jangling exuberance married with skewed harmonic nuance to transport you back to a sticky-floored gig venue sometime in 2014. Here In My Scheme, Here It Ends is out November 5th on Lost Map Records Stephen McColgan
With the release of her haunting new single, ‘Diana’, Edinburgh’s Goodnight Louisa (Louise McCraw) pays tribute to the now mythical Diana Spencer. The song also passes judgment on how society treats women and the constant scrutiny that those in the public eye face. Lyrically, it’s both heart-wrenching and empowering, with McCraw’s delicate performance soaring over dreamy, bittersweet instrumentation. ‘Diana’ is available to stream now Beth McLeish
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SHE DREW THE GUN
Album: Neither Is, Nor Ever Was The debut album from Constant Follower, Neither Is, Nor Ever Was, is solitary, forlorn, and wild – and in all the best ways possible. The instrumentation is stripped down to some guitar, synths, and bass, all utilised sparingly to devastating effect. Frontman Stephen McAll’s understated vocals add a level of grounding to the record, preventing anything from becoming too floaty; anchoring the listener as they drift through ambivalent dreamscapes. Vocal harmonies populate the record nicely.
Album: Behave Myself Louisa Roach, the brainchild behind She Drew The Gun, is an outspoken presence, in a sea of bland, wispy singer-songwriter types. Not for her the cliches of fey, acoustic guitar music and autumnal photoshoots. She writes lyrics which feel like a dystopian nightmare, interrogating feminism, class and beliefs. She's all about music as revolution, refusing to be complacent or silent. Roach has the chops too, a young mum from a working class background, who studied Psychology as a mature student.
The one-two punch of ‘Spirits In The Roof Tree’ and ‘Altona’ at the record’s halfway point especially stand out. ‘Spirits In The Roof Tree’, a lament for relationships, is utterly singular in its melancholy. ‘You know I’ll never leave you / What's my life without you / I know we’ll always be’, drifts on and on - the need to feel close to someone while facing an obstacle, encapsulated. This moves into ‘Altona’, the biggest tonal departure on the record. It feels at the same time more lively and also more forbidding – you feel as though someone is calling out to you from beyond the fog. From here reality starts to call into the dream.
In this, her third album, the Liverpool artist's polemical, punk-inspired pop takes a distinctive electronic twist. There is a sneaky kind of subversion here, as her music is accessible enough to appeal to trendy kids, but with enough eloquence to inspire effective discourse. All in all, it's a nice way of sugaring the pill, especially for those who may not otherwise be politically active.
Constant Follower have produced a sublime, mature, empathetic record. It’s not so much one that demands to be heard, but once you hit play, you will demand to hear it all. Neither Is, Nor Ever Was will be released on 1st October on Shimmy Disc / Joyful Noise Dominic Cassidy
'Next On The List' sides with all of society's marginalised voices, and the title track feels like a twenty first century response to The Slits' 'Typical Girls', the verse chanted like a dead-eyed, robotic mantra, but buzzing with dissatisfaction, even as it slides into a catchy chorus. 'Class War (How Much)' is one of the best tracks here, poking at corporate venality, but with an eye on the dancefloor, and 'Panopticon' even has shades of New Order and Pet Shop Boys in its DNA, a retro but melancholic gem with Roach's vocals erring on the more vulnerable side. Lived experience is what separates She Drew The Gun from the poseurs- Behave Myself is proof positive that she's well on her way. Academia's loss is indie pop's gain. Behave Myself is out now on Submarine Cat Lorna Irvine
BLUSHING BRYDES Album: The Breaking in our Hearts ‘You have a way of crushing me, that makes me believe in love.’ Chances are that you have read thousands of sentences in the last 24 hours (Takeaway for tea? Oot of bog roll. PM LICKS MUD) but I would be more than surprised if any come close to the one up there.
Photo Credit: Rob Blackham
The line above is actually a perfect summary of The Breaking in our Hearts. It lovingly cradles tear-inducing lows within goosebump-inducing highs. Lyrically, it's beautifully written, and bloody sad at times: tales of lost loves, requited and unrequited loves – all the things which cause your heart to shudder nervously or make you look down towards your boots. Musically, it couldn't contrast more: euphoric synths, poppy, memorable vocal melodies, glorious guitar work, and tracks naturally building peak after peak of life affirming aceness. If you are looking for a genre, I guess I would call it dreampop. Blushing Brydes could be the ones writing the Technicolor soundtrack for my wee, grey dreams. The Breaking In Our Hearts is out 22nd October on Iffy Folk Records Peter Clarkin
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Live Music: QMU Glasgow – 27th September Perhaps it would be apposite to just do a series of emojis for this review: black midi are, after all, impossible to categorise. There's a soupçon of Beefheart, a sliver of John Coltrane, and a little Battles thrown in for good measure, in their staccato fits and starts. It's an irresistible combination, and one which has over the last few years incurred a slew of frothing adjectives from critics trying to gauge how it all slots together.
EP: A Souvenir Of a Terrible Year You can change the name, but some of the songs remain the same. Stina Marie Claire’s knack of ear-worm melodies remain in place, regardless of the artist’s moniker.
The band's sense of humour is apparent from the moment they emerge, seemingly styled by Alan Partridge, to a wrestling intro. They toyfight, pose like Nigel Tufnel and even play a quick game of cards.There are moments that work: a teasing 'Sugar/Tzu' becomes a storm, 'Speedway' is immense, and 'John L', of course, goes off like a frog in a sock. But the sound mixing is a problem. Not their finest hour, then, but they'll be back. Lorna Irvine
Going by her given name affords Stina more space for reflection and pathos, with ‘Just Cause You’re Lonely’ and ‘Souvenir’ being more touchingly open than Honeyblood’s ferociously beautiful offerings. The closing cover version of a Sundays classic owes its place to democracy and a Patreon fanbase directing many of the key decisions for the EP. And to be fair, it’s nowhere near the worst example of people being allowed a say that we’ve seen in recent years. And of course, the lyrics give rise to one of the most aptly titled EP releases we’ll encounter for some time. A Souvenir of a Terrible Year was released on 1st October on ICEBLINK LUCK Andrew Reilly
Photo Credit: Craig R McIntosh
Photo Credit: Mark Cameron
The London band are too awkward for the mainstream, yet they are still as funky as hell. Geordie Greep's yowling vocals vacillate between angsty croon and wilful provocation. Anchoring it all is the battering-ram drumming of Morgan Simpson, and Kaidi Akinnibi's skronky sax solos, which add yet more layers to their sound. Tonight though, sadly, they come a little unstuck at times. Perhaps it's the lack of Akinnibi and the fact that everything sounds really trebly, losing the nuances. Seth Evans' keyboards drown almost everything else. Greep's vocals are often incoherent, more possessed auctioneer tonight than lead vocalist, with James Chance undertones.
‘The Human Condition’ is up there with the best of Stina’s day job songs, and is more than enough reason to check out this collection.
Album: We’ve Met Before, Haven’t We Deer Leader have developed a decent reputation for sonic landscapes that move you or make you think, and this album delivers.
EP: Big Tomato soup on a damp day. Your favourite pair of denims. Your sworn enemy making a fool of themselves.
‘Crocodile’ was a firm favourite with SNACK upon release last year, and it’s good to see time hasn’t dulled its snap! It’s more pleasing to learn it wasn’t an outlier, with We’ve Met Before, Haven’t We carrying enough bite and menace to leave you slightly on edge with the dark nights enveloping us.
Some things are timeless and will always put a smile on your face. We all love to hear the next big thing in music, but equally, we love to hear music that is instantly familiar, even on first listen. Big doesn’t know whether it’s a lengthy EP or a short album, but it is certain about everything else. Songs like ‘Big’, ‘True Love Gone’ and ‘Heaven’ are effortlessly likable, breezing by with a yearning vocal style recalling Elliott Smith.
‘Four Deuces’ has a nagging refrain bubbling over looping guitars, and like many songs here, might leave you feeling slightly disorientated. At certain points of the record’s second half, notably on ‘Party Mellow’, there’s a strong chance you’ll lose yourself in the music and find yourself drifting away from reality. In a good way. Any album with an 11-minute closer is prone to glimmers of indulgence, but when it's so comfortable, why fight it? We’ve Met Before, Haven’t We is released on Last Night From Glasgow Records Andrew Reilly
At times you think the release would benefit by being littered with the guitar fills and runs that bookend the collection of songs, but on reflection, less is definitely more. Loup Havenith pitches the mood and tone of the record nicely, and it’s wellpaced and spaced to allow for repeated listens. Big was released on 1st October on Heavenly Creature Records. Andrew Reilly
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SARYA Single: nothing Edinburgh-based Taiwanese American artist sarya’s ‘nothing’ is a poignant reflection of heartbreak. Here they stray away from their familiar soft electronic sound: instead, it’s smothered with tangible emotion, the cries of heartbreak conveyed tenderly through sarya’s wispy yet whole voice. The focus on acoustic guitar and sarya’s vocals is in turn soothing and arresting, creating intrigue as to what’s to come for this ever-growing artist. ‘Nothing’ is available to stream now Abbie Aitken
Album: Bruises A slow burner that digs into you a bit deeper with each new listen. That is as appropriate a description for Wozniak generally as it is for their second album, Bruises. Feel free to use every shoegaze or post-rock cliché you know – the band has heard and drilled through them all.
EP: Mind In Decline What constitutes good pop music should always be on the move, but equally, it should always be set in stone. The best pop music tells tales of everyday life, love and heartache, instantly making the listener feel as though the singer is in their shoes. The best songs also have the finest singers bringing these ‘feels’ to life.
The drumming on ‘Arts & Science’ almost takes on the role of lead instrument, pushing the song forward and pummelling the listener into themselves. ‘Icelandic Water’ is one of the most aptly titled songs of the year; refreshing, chilling and potentially fatal when it wraps itself around you, while ‘Moga Mobo’ is delightful, an interlude of elusive beauty. The quiet-quiet-loud-quiet formula is one we are all well acquainted with, but to their credit, Wozniak keep things feeling fresh and varied on Bruises. It’s a sprawling record that moves listeners without displacing them. Bruises was released on 27th August on Morningside Young Team Records Andrew Reilly snackmag.co.uk
The Mind In Decline EP has a title that hints at darker times, but isn’t that where the best moments of creativity bound from? Shears is on fire here, ticking off all the expected boxes, but wrapping it up in a cool and bouncing electro style that is so 2021 that it cannot be found on the shelves of your local store! ‘Pick Me Up’ sparkles with purpose, ‘Afterthought’ brings the cool and darker edge, while ‘Face’ brings the collection to a potent close, bordering on banger territory with uplifting singalong backing vocals. Mind In Decline is released on 27th October Andrew Reilly
NEW ORDER Film Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a film infused with such incredible aesthetic grace that it can’t help but enrapture, despite its depressing vision of the future. Mexican director Michel Franco’s New Order could not be further from Scott’s aesthetic approach, but his film shares an unrelentingly grim tone, and dials this up even further. While not everyone’s idea of a fun Saturday night, New Order is a vital, searing comment on Mexican society and society at large that deserves to be seen by a wide audience to get its point across. Marianne (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) is the daughter of an upper-class family, and is enjoying her wedding day. A man who used to work for the family shows up to the wedding, saying he needs money for his wife’s heart surgery, which leads Marianne to try and get across the city to give him the money he needs. Meanwhile an uprising is occurring, and protestors storm the wedding. Marianne is captured by soldiers, and the family will do anything to get her back.
New Order pushes the brutal state of affairs of its narrative in our faces, and implies that this could easily happen in real life. The film depicts a rotten system wherein revolution is needed and the lower classes have had enough. Director Franco has said this was meant to represent the social disparity in Mexico, and how many of those with money do not engage with the fact that there are millions living in horrendous poverty. Of course, this applies to many countries the world over. New Order has tension, superb naturalistic acting (especially from Norvind) and a very tight script to spare, and despite its depressing nature manages to engage through these elements. The film has opened up a dialogue about the nature of the systems we live in, and has won two awards at the Venice Film Festival. It has inspired me to watch more of Franco’s movies, and inform myself about the country of his birth. Recommended to those with strong stomachs and open minds. New Order is streaming on MUBI now, and will be released on Blu Ray and DVD from the 11th of October Martin Sandison
The opening scenes of New Order fail to convince; it opens with a soap opera style that removes the viewer from the story. Once the crux of the narrative begins though, with the backdrop to the families woes (the uprising) taking centre stage, it grips. The performances of Norvind and Diego Boneta as her brother Daniel are top class, with Norvind convincing as the moral centre of the film who goes through immense suffering. The shades of Boneta’s character are brilliantly portrayed; it’s easy at some points to feel for him, but more difficult when his narcissism rears its ugly head and his decisions cost lives. Most other characters are not given enough screen time for real depth, which is disappointing, but then its run time is just under 90 minutes.
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SHELLS I go to the beach to escape the sounds. The shouts, cries, laughs, chatter. Sounds of human life. I close my eyes and take in the sounds of the other life. Sounds of birds, waves, sand beneath my shoes. So what a surprise when I arrive one day and find the human sounds written on the beach. Inches from the waterline a large ‘Hello’ is printed in seashells. I look around. No one. I look back at the display in the sand. I watch as the waves inch closer and finally erase the greeting. I walk away. The next day, it’s back. ‘Hello’. I look around again, and only see a little boy and a woman walking down the beach. I scratch ‘hi’ in the sand next to the shell-greeting and walk off. And so on for a week. A simple shell-greeting, and a shell-reply. And always the same child and woman. One day, I come early. I see the little boy on the sand. I approach him, he looks up. I stop a safe distance away and wave. He smiles shyly. His gaze returns to the sand. No shells, just a smooth blank canvas. A crunching sound makes us both look up. The woman is walking towards us, carrying a pile of shells in her jacket. She sees me and smiles the same smile as the boy. She kneels beside him and drops the shells on the ground. She traces large deepset letters in the sand. The boy follows each of her movements attentively. When she has finished he grabs some shells and proceeds to cover each letter with them. Then he stands up and beckons me forward. He and his mother move away as I come to stand before the phrase in the sand. ‘Nice to see you’ it reads. I smile. The mother grins and points to the sand at my feet. I drop to my knees and pick up a shell from the pile. I print my own reply and then move away. The little boy mouths each word quietly as he reads, and then giggles. I wave goodbye and the two wave back, the little boy jumping with glee. The woman puts the last of the shells in her pocket. She takes her son’s hand and before moving off has one last glance at the shell-exchange in the sand: ‘Nice to see you. You too.’
Scotland's wee A5 What's On, Art & Culture magazine. Distributed across central Scotland and Dundee, free-to-pick-up every month. This issu...
Published on Oct 6, 2021
Scotland's wee A5 What's On, Art & Culture magazine. Distributed across central Scotland and Dundee, free-to-pick-up every month. This issu...