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Hello, dear readers, and welcome to our much anticipated current issue of The Curiosity Cabinet. It has taken us months of fine-tuning, re-writing, logo hunting and website building but we are proud to show it to you all and we canâ€™t wait to hear what you think. Inside the magazine you will find poetry, music, art, literature, interviews, book reviews... ... And a curious tale about Edgar Allan Poe... Curious love, Michelle Keeley x
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Poetry: Claire Walker, Vivienne Dembele, Matt Tustin
Interview: Matt Haig
Book Review: The Radleys
Short Story: Stuart Snelson
Interview: Nadine Carina
The Curious Logo Competition
Poetry: James Seymour
Book Review: The Great Gatsby
Photography: Ellie Gale, Joe Kelly
Short Story: Sophie Hatfield
Interview: Shannen Bamford
Feature Article: Finding Phoebe
Film Review: Found
Poetry: Tyson Bley Interview: Vizea Sound
Feature Article: The Poe Toaster
Acknowledgements and Contact Details
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Enchanted By Claire Walker
She spent her gapped-toothed smiles of childhood collecting fairies in a jar. Picked them from the wild overgrown grass by the lake- she knew they gathered there, scooped their homes from toadstool middles, just as stories told. Each one fizzed on entry, a meteor burning through the pickled atmosphere. She didn’t see them flinch at the clip of the lid or hear talk of how they missed afternoon drifting on hand-woven lily pad rafts, never saw evidence of useless dust now they could no longer wash their tiny skirts outdoors. Each time she added to that see-through kilner, her enchantment echoed through the glass, preserved.
Emily’s Goodbye By Vivienne Dembele
I wished I had kissed Emily goodbye, And watched blonde curls bob out of sight. A walk to school, a drive to church, Off to the baths, or Brownies night. I wish I had kissed Emily goodbye In jeans and tee-shirt, slouch socks and pumps, Brushed hair in pigtails, shiny, loose, Laughing, shouting, down in the dumps. But my daughter came unbreathing from me Unwashed, unseen, unloved, away. I couldn’t kiss Emily goodbye and can’t Spend time with her today. My life moves on and sorrow ebbs; Rarer now, the tears, the sigh. But still I wish, in quiet times... I wish I had kissed Emily goodbye.
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Obligation By Matt Tustin
“An obligation”, a murmer, “It’s all just words” Any idea just how much that hurt? It set thought in motion, though, about what they mean these words one puts stock in, but one never comes clean I fell for a face, a date and a name, and all that came with it, with all that was claimed. A jump, a shock, water like steel, to the informed, they know how to feel Hours and hours ‘til the weeks slip away missing the point of the cold light of day Nocturnus, revolve, darken what was clear rape and pillage all that once was held dear Time marches on, through thick and through thin Much more is needed to anoint the skin knowledge is power, of that I am sure, sully the memory of what was once pure Cleared a path through the forest, for mile upon mile, fought demons and dragons, and kept up a smile. Neglect of everything, knee deep in sadness when was the end of the start of the madness? It slipped away slowly, left naught but a mark Black Dog fell silent, not a growl or a bark, Left without anything, nothing to hold, pleasure is limited, nothing to be sold. A craving for skin to come close to skin, warmth from above, and warmth from within, conversation and money and a clear sense of when movement can happen, when joy comes again. Too many untruths, I could recover, but not through the pain and the hurt of another, Given everything within ‘til there’s no more to give No more existing, he just wants to live.
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A while ago on Twitter, I was followed by a gentleman called Matt Haig. I then noticed that he was a writer and he had had several of his books published. So, I decided to buy some. I was frankly bewildered that I had never read anything by him before and was left captivated by his original writing style and his dark, comical tales. Matt has fast become one of my favourite authors. We are touched and honoured that Matt agreed to an interview with our humble magazine. He’s someone who appreciates his fans and we like that about him. So, if you’ve not yet read any Matt Haig, get yourself down to a book shop and buy some of his books. Computer or good old fashioned pen and paper? Pen and paper because it can’t access Twitter. How/why did you start writing novels? I ran out of possibilities. What would you do if you started seeing “ghosts” like Philip Noble? Think I was hallucinating. Take tablets. 6
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If you could be a character, just for one day, from one of your books, who would you be? Newton, in The Humans. Because he is a dog. Your writing is always refreshing, quirky and often hilarious. With regards to your choice of writing style in Dead Fathers Club - why did you choose to write in the way you did? (without me giving too much away to people who haven’t read it yet) I chose to write with very little punctuation to reflect the speed of the eleven-year-old narrator’s mind. Why Vampires, ghosts and talking dogs? I don’t know. I always try to come at reality from a new angle. You can often see more that way. I’ve even read your children’s books now, how difficult was the transition when writing for different audiences? Not very difficult, to be honest. There is always some kind of transition between books. What’s next on the agenda for Mr. Haig? Writing the screenplay for The Humans. That’s the immediate future. A few Favourites: 1. Favourite place to write? My attic. On a sofa, or lying in bed. The less if feels like work, the better the writing tends to be. 2. Favourite book? (an unfair question really, as it’s possibly the hardest question in the world) Emily Dickinson, Complete Poems. 3. Favourite quote? “For ever is composed of nows,” Emily Dickinson. 4. Favourite thing to do when you’re not writing? Eat Mexican food with friends. Or alone, actually. 5. Favourite tip for writers just starting out? Only do it if you enjoy it. 6. Favourite memory? Swimming with my dad in a motel pool in Los Angeles at night. It was a holiday. I was eight-years-old. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @matthaig1 or visit his website at www.matthaig.com. His newest book, The Humans is available to buy now at Waterstones, Canongate and Amazon and is also available in e-book format.
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The Radleys, By Matt Haig I thought I’d had enough of vampire tales after the tragedy that was Twilight. No more could I, a horror fanatic, endure the twinkle of pretty boys and needy teenage girls. I found myself pining after the wonders of Lugosi and Nosferatu whilst desperate for a bit of a refreshing take on the traditional tale. (But not so refreshing that it is set in an American high school and is all... angsty.) Then came The Radleys, a dark tale of a seemingly normal British family who happen to be... yeah, you guessed it! VAMPIRES. These aren’t your shiny, pretty, kissy, smoochy, ‘put-a-poster-of-me-on-your-wall’ vampires. These vampires are just like you and I. ‘Normal’ people with normal jobs who go to a normal school and get bullied by normal bullies and have normal dinner parties and have normal black sheep in the family. The Radleys is a tale of family secrets, fitting in and abstinence. Haig takes a new and clever approach to an age old tale, making vampires utterly delicious once more. The beautiful thing about it is that although it is about bloodsucking creatures of the night, their family problems suddenly become very real. I found myself thinking ANY family could get into this situation. It’s about being human as much as it’s about not being human. The instincts they have as vampires are not something which we can’t relate to, whether it be a parental instinct, a love obsession, a thirst for power, addiction or you know...a murder. Haig’s ‘sharp’ wit is incomparable and his way with words leaves you...’thirsty’ for more and I’M SORRY BUT I HAVE TO SAY IT: It’s a story you can really sink your teeth into...
CURIOUS RATING 5/5 Review by Michelle Keeley
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The Architect of Haunted Houses By Stuart Snelson
Floorboards creaking underfoot, she descended apprehensively the cellar steps. Unaccustomed, her hand padded the wall in the hope of finding a light switch. Her fingers eventually alighting on one she pressed it, and waited as electricity jittered into light. Turning she saw what lay below. No room in the house above failed to feel the reverberations of her scream.
He had always been drawn toward the macabre. As a child, at the funfair: an epiphany. On the ghost train, as part-time skeletons sprang up in cardboard windows, his mind was set racing: how could this be made truly terrifying? Once home he set to scribbling, conjured felt-tipped vistas of haunted houses. Over time, his excursions took him further afield, to fairgrounds and theme parks, always with an eye on improvement. Entering his teens, whilst his peers pursued the opposite sex he discovered his own distractions. He devoured old horror films, creaky, creepy tales that unfolded in silhouetted castles. Through reruns, he became acquainted with the residents of Mockingbird and Cemetery Lanes. Ignoring foreground terrors, he devoted his attention to what went on behind the action, was less interested in what was happening than where it was happening. He wondered about the heritage of these onscreen houses, considered the logistics of their construction. The labyrinths of secret passageways, the dungeons, the rotating library shelves: who realised their dreams for them? He imagined disparate clients â€“ crazed scientists, mad uncles, the feverishly insane â€“ negotiating with third parties to build their houses of horror. Careers advisors tried to coerce his interests towards economically viable ends. Obediently, he followed this line of enquiry, converted a pencilled aptitude into a place studying architecture. He soon became bored. The prospect of seven years at the drawing board seemed less golden opportunity than custodial sentence. He wished to concentrate on the fantastic not the mundane; he was not destined for a life designing suburban estates. He wished to work with his hands, to see his plans immediately realised. Through a chain of favourable circumstance, he found himself working on film sets. Within the industry, his reputation soon spread. Over the years, he worked on all manner of terrifying edifice: gothic hideaways, haunted houses, dilapidated castles. As notions of horror changed, he kept pace. Outside of the resurrected vampire franchise, his work veered away from the supernatural, and soon he worked predominantly on serial killer lairs. To this end, he compiled a disturbing library of books on the topic. Ignoring their crimes and motivations, he focused exclusively on their notions of interior design. Between bloodbaths, dismemberments, how did they like to relax? He studied crime scenes photographs for the unsettling details that would add authenticity to his creations. His research led him to conclude that most career killers expended little energy on the matter of interior design, only taking an interest in home improvement when their nefarious ends necessitated it. Their murderous excavations were rarely contracted out; the relentless shovelling required to provide dank wells of holding cells was the single-handed labour of the tunnel-visioned. His film sets replicated this feeling; they always had to look as though they were the work of just one man. Engaged alone in such malignant toil, did they at no point question their objectives? After all, crimes
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didnâ€™t get much more premeditated than those that involved excavating a dungeon in which to commit them. He wondered how many sinister cellars the world contained, pictured the insalubrious warrens of subterranean suburbia. He had seen, onscreen, his rivalâ€™s excesses: refrigerators three deep with severed heads. It was easy to overdo. He considered his interiors more subtly sinister. He tried to capture the banality of such environments so that when the tone switched, the horror detonated, it was all the more shocking, audiences shifting uncomfortably as horrendous crimes were committed in homes much like their own. His work, he felt, was often undermined, considered his sets less wooden than the actors who paraded within them. They were either too stilted or they succumbed to hammy theatrics. Frequently he winced through advance screenings as actors stalked and frothed with ghoulish exuberance, chewed their way through his plasterboard fabrications.
Over the years, he had sought proof of the paranormal to no avail. With an open mind, he had consulted mediums, engaged in Ouija board sessions, but so far nothing had convinced him. His communications with the dead remained a one-sided affair. Since childhood, he had harboured dreams of living in a haunted house. Alas, possessed properties seldom came on the market, or if they did, they rarely advertised themselves as such; nobody openly flaunted hauntings, made a selling point of poltergeists. Even the sites of notorious murders were now routinely demolished, removed permanently from the property market, tainted addresses razed whilst souvenir seekers were discouraged from the rubble. In the absence of bona fide haunted properties, he set about creating his own. Whilst his professional success lay in understatement, this was not an accusation that could be levelled at his home. Restraint dissolved as he indulged his fantasies. He had opted not for the shocking home of the socially dysfunctional, but a haunted house of the classical order. In this pursuit, he channelled the masters, every lightning illuminated, menacing castle he had ever seen. Having bought an old country house, he set about its transformation.
As looming shadows, they emerged from between the trees. Gravel crunching underfoot, they approached his daunting house. Ruinous, in a state of sinister dilapidation, it seemed the kind of property that by night would wait patiently for the owners of broken down cars: salvation sought, death discovered. Upon his door a pocked knocker demanded the frantic hammerings of a torch bearing lynch mob. At their knock, the door opened itself, creaked aside to allow them ingress. Inside, no hunched butler awaited them. His guests, as requested, had arrived at the witching hour that they might experience more fully the houseâ€™s atmosphere. As they closed the door behind them, a storm erupted. Their host had mastered meteorology, sound effects ensuring that it rained on dry days, thundered in sunshine. Very little natural light was cast on his peculiarities. Presiding over dinner parties, he had made his presence known in all peculiar manners: in a suit of armour in the dining room, coming to life only when everyone was seated; as a bloodied corpse guests stumbled upon in the library. He was not a typical host. On this occasion, not wishing to appear too unhinged, he neutered his more flagrant eccentricities. Welcome, he cried, emerging, arms outstretched, to my humble abode. His guests, a man and a woman, insisted upon a guided tour. He preferred visitors to find their own way round, to make their own shocking discoveries. But for them he relented. By candlelight, he conducted his tour, the three of them followed by their wavering shadows. Observing his house, they soon discovered first appearances were not to be trusted. It existed 10
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in a deliberate state of disrepair. All furniture, all decoration had not acquired natural patination, but had been prematurely aged. This was not the only layer of artifice. As they walked the corridors, shivering, it became clear that the breezes, the rattling windows were all controlled remotely, that they bore no resemblance to actual atmospheric conditions. Hidden air jets provided mixed chills, from gentle breezes that ruffled candle flames, to thorough gusts that extinguished them completely. Behind canvas portraits, mechanised eyes moved side-to-side. Throughout, motion detectors activated random sounds of horror, dispensed canned ambience, their tour soundtracked by voices seeping through air vents, sinister susurrations. All falsely attested to unearthly presences. As their host forced open yet another creaking door, they were engulfed as smoke belched forth, acrid smells forcing his guests to cover their noses. Entering, they peered around this mad scientist’s lair, a laboratory crammed to its rafters, an array of antiquated scientific equipment obscured by smoke: conical flasks bubbling troublingly, regiments of test tubes. In discoloured jars, pickled oddments, skin flakes encircling, a row of gruesome snow globes. Through the smoke, one of the guests snapped happily, photographed his host’s eccentricities. His guests were there at the behest of a trade magazine. Before commencing his tour he had answered, obligingly, her routine questions, had posed, reluctantly, for his accompanying photographs. He would rather let his house do the talking. For her profile, she had already settled on a title: The Architect of Haunted Houses. Still coughing from the noxious fumes, their host suggested that they take a stroll outside. By moonlight, they continued their tour in the garden, losing their feet in the undergrowth. Deliberately overgrown, it was prey to wild cultivation. Between rampant plants lay catholic salvage, selections of cracked masonry, chipped statues and stones that engendered a cemeterial unease. Although they marked no specific graves, their host felt that the dead must rest somewhere below each marker. Unless one adhered to a creationist calendar, it seemed likely that beneath every square foot of the earth, death marked its presence. In the distance, the photographer could just about make out a lake, or at least, a dark body of water. Is that where you dump the bodies? he asked in jest, an accusation that remained politely ignored. Tour resumed, he lead them past an ostentatiously locked room, its chained and bolted door initially uncommented upon. What’s in there? they enquired. Ignoring them, he moved swiftly on to the next room. Can we see what’s in there? He turned to them, and smiled. I’m sorry, I can’t let you look in there. He rattled the chain. I’m afraid that no one, aside from myself, who has ever entered that room has lived to tell the tale. He was clearly relishing his role as tour guide, she thought, but nevertheless she was intrigued by what lay beyond the door. I’m almost afraid to ask, but do you have a bathroom I could use? With that, the photographer was ushered down a corridor toward a musty little room. His entrance activated a radio set that featured an endless loop of programme interruptions as announcers urged listeners to stay indoors, to be vigilant against escapees from nearby prisons and asylums, murderers, stranglers, hook-handed manglers: a roll call of urban mythology. If nothing else, his host’s attention to detail was astonishing. But as he urinated, as a buoyant eyeball in the bowl returned his gaze, he pondered: how could he live like this? Freshening up he turned, with difficulty, rusty taps that dripped blood, the cracked mirror offering reflections of people who weren’t there. Rather than the creation of a world of horror, they felt more like the actions of an inexhaustible prankster or an over eager child keen to show off new toys. As he turned the bathroom doorknob, he discovered that he had been locked in.
She looked around, became all too aware of her colleague’s absence. She proceeded to make notes, the tour continuing without him, but was ill at ease. She filled the silence with further questions. Without wishing to offend you, how do you actually live here? Is it not like living in a theme park? At this, he bristled. Homeliness had never been his objective. It was perhaps for this reason that he 11
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struggled to find a wife with whom to share his morbid life. Few women, at least those he had met, wished to curl up in his gothic four-poster whilst outside a motorised finger tapped languidly at the windowpane. Over time, he had become one of those men who would occupy their hands with everything but a woman, a perennial tinkerer. Impatiently he batted away her more impertinent questions. He had expected a more hagiographical approach. Was he to be made to look foolish? As the tour continued, and his interviewer took an ever more personal tone he would point to anything in order to distract her. Fortunately, his house was predominately distraction. He could sense that she no longer wished to be here, and with this he was in agreement. Tiring of her enquiries, he adopted a whistle-stop pace, speeding through rooms in which he usually joyfully lingered: the library with its rotating wall, a tilted volume granting access to his study; his black museum of film memorabilia, an array of props presented to him over the years at wrap parties, from animatronic puppets to severed appendages; the funfair distortions of his hall of mirrors. He could see that such delights would be wasted on her.
You go on ahead, he had insisted, as he led her towards the cellar. The light switch is about halfway down to your left. She was unsure, but without her colleague for support decided not to openly convey her fear. Tentatively, she took her first step. It was whilst trapped in the bathroom, feeling himself the victim of yet another of his host’s pranks, that he heard her scream. His pounding on the door failing to gain attention, his frantic turns of the doorknob failing to grant him exit, he finally realised that he had bolted himself in. At a single stroke, he was free. He turned about wondering from which way her scream had come. On a whim, he decided on a direction and rushed to her aide. Would he be too late? Chasing through the warren of corridors he eventually found them. Whilst she didn’t look pleased, she was, at least, alive. But what was the . . . I thought I heard a scream? Sheepishly, she pointed him towards the cellar door. On a table, in the centre of the cellar lay a mutilated corpse. At the photographer’s flash, its innards glistened. It was one of the more extravagant pieces their host had salvaged from his work. To its left, a grubbier proposition, a patchwork mannequin that spoke of grave robbers, of soil-dusted limbs excavated in the dead of night. But no monster would surge to life upon this table, no assemblage of pilfered limbs would become animated, no forked lightning harnessed to invigorate, to deliver an electric twitch to this hand-stitched monster. They were simply the centrepieces of their host’s grand tour. Often, hosting dinner parties, he would send some unsuspecting initiate into the cellar alone, on the pretext of fetching more wine. Screams would announce their arrival. They would return to the table with a bottle and a look of embarrassment. For this guest it had proved a fright too far. Thank you, I think that we’ve got all that we need.
Without guests, he was well aware that his house could be seen as a sign of madness. With others around to share in its synthetic thrills, it came alive. He loved to entertain, to have people round to show off the house’s idiosyncratic features. You should turn this place into a hotel, the photographer had suggested. It was a notion to which he had devoted much thought. Scribbled between jobs he had outlined plans for a themed hotel, skew blueprints for bleak weekend breaks. Dankly imagined, each room was modelled on a famous crime scene, encompassing both cinematic and real life horrors, a block of grisly recreation. But who would sleep soundly in such a place? He conceded that it was not many peoples idea of a romantic getaway. This was perhaps why his talents found a home in cinema and not hospitality. He lacked investors, it seeming too grim a proposition. Such an environment was certain to attract the wrong sorts, and few businesses, outside of the arms trade, openly courted the psychopath pound. His drawings would remain flattened, unrealised, in his portfolio of dark ideas. 12
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Driving away to the strains of none existent thunder, the journalist questioned what she had seen. Did he sleep soundly above a cellar full of corpses? What did the locked room contain? Was she in danger of overlooking the obvious, of misinterpreting blatant signs? She became concerned that they had been briefly resident in a genuine chamber of horrors, envisaged the police interviewing her at some future date, incredulous that her suspicions had not been aroused by this macabre set up, effectively a room full of evidence passed off as souvenirs.
After their departure, in bed, he felt unsettled. Of late, he had begun to sense a presence, not in the clichéd distortions of his creations, the creaks and screams of his elaborate artifice, but in their absence, the spaces in between. Having quelled the recorded thunder and driving rain, the intermittent hoots and howls, he struggled to sleep. It functioned as ominous white noise. He had always believed that he wanted to see a ghost, to make contact with the other side. Now that he sensed something, he wasn’t so sure. Sliding out of his four-poster bed, with key in hand he set off towards the sealed room. The padlock and chain, bulky and rusted, were merely for display. Having removed them, he turned the key in the lock. The door creaked in the exaggerated fashion of the house. He entered. The flickering light was slow to reveal the room’s contents. Eventually settling, he was transported to the past. Patterned wallpaper looked down upon a comic book bedspread, the room furnished with a plethora of toys and games. It was his childhood bedroom recreated as exactly as he could manage, most of the contents retrieved from storage. When he tired of his house’s melodramatic excesses, it was to here that he retired. Huddled snugly beneath his undersized duvet, a framed portrait of his parents watched over him. This was where the ghosts lived.
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It’s somehow apposite that I meet Nadine Carina in Leaf, the best place for a cuppa in Liverpool. Like a decent cup of tea, her work is warming, reviving and never the same twice. Born in Switzerland, but resident in Liverpool, her music is both strange and strangely wonderful. She’s small, charming and very friendly. She flits between pop and more experimental work with the deft skills of a true artist. Growing up in Switzerland, what were her influences? And how did this affect her music: “I was always listening to music a lot; I watched a lot of cartoons, Disney cartoons. The tunes are really strong, and this is my childlike influences… when you are a child, things stay a lot in your mind when you grow up. It is the strongest part of your life when you were a child. I think this influenced me a lot… but then I grew up and listened to rock, to punk and stuff. I started in music, when I realised I wanted to write my own songs. Then I started in a school of music, and then everything started”. Of course, coming to England meant a label was stuck on her as soon as she passed through Passport Control. We love labels in this country. As a writer, sometimes I have to resort to them as a form of reference, but generally, labels are for tinned food. That label was Quirky. “When I came to England, everyone was saying this word. What’s “quirky”? And then I went in a dictionary… I found out, because everyone was saying it. And that explained to me what ‘quirky’ meant. ” Nadine rejects this label, most people would. I would, and I’m a beautiful eccentric. So, okay, how would she describe her music? “Experimental. Dreamy. I dream a lot. I like to dream.” 14
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“I was always listening to music a lot; I watched a lot of... Disney cartoons. The tunes are really strong, and this is my childlike influences… when you are a child, things stay a lot in your mind when you grow up.” That is evident from her songs, which have a bucolic, literary feel. It’s obvious, like all the best songwriters, she draws inspiration from everywhere. Especially her travels, but like most artists she knows it can’t be forced or made to happen: “I don’t really decide, “now I am going to write”. It comes by itself, when I am on the train. When I am travelling, it mostly comes out on the train. Mostly I just write what I feel. If I can feel it will be a song, it will be a song. Usually it just stays in my notebook. I don’t force the writing process, but when I go home I go into my home studio, I go “let’s start a song, let’s start some sounds and stuff”. Nadine’s gigs have a homely feel, not just with a sound check but also a table lamp and a tablecloth. Her adopted home is Liverpool, a city where everyone is in a band. Compare that to Manchester, where everyone has been in The Fall. Liverpool’s music scene is currently in good health, but rich in different genres. The stereotypical image of Switzerland is white chocolate and cuckoo clocks, but again labels can be deceptive. Between these worlds, this gives her the freedom to do something different.
“(My music is) experimental. Dreamy. I dream a lot. I like to dream.” “Switzerland, it’s like Wales. It’s also like Norway. I feel like when I’m in Switzerland, I don’t know, it’s because of my family… I feel more quiet, I like more peace. But you know, most of my ideas come when I’m here. In Switzerland, there is not so many people doing music, when I’m here, everyone is doing music. When I am back home, I feel like I am doing something different, and I like that. “ Nadine was one of the finalists for this year’s GIT Awards (Get Into This), which champion new music in Liverpool. She has a lot of love in this city, but has worldwide plans for the rest of the year. So, what would she say her typical fan is like? “Maybe just people looking for new music. There is a lot of people looking for new music. They like discovering new artists, like me… something that is new and undiscovered. I think other people are too.” So, with those plans in mind, and music that can be either pop or experimental; does this make Nadine Carina true to herself? “I think I am true to myself. Even my personality I change every day. I can’t really decide. I change a lot. ” What doesn’t change is the small, homely beauty of Nadine Carina’s music. Put the kettle on, settle down and listen. You’ll thank me for it. You can follow Nadine on Twitter at @nadinecarina or visit her website at www.nadinecarina.com. You can listen to her music on Soundcloud at www.soundcloud.com/nadinecarina. Interview by Kevin McCready
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To find a logo for our humble little magazine, we decided to run a competition. We had many wonderful entries, but in the end our fans settled on two. Our winners were Amy Haslam and Becky Shaw. Amyâ€™s has been used for our front cover design and will also be used as our profile picture when we have the opportunity to display a more intricate version of the logo. Beckyâ€™s will be used as our Facebook and website header/ banner, as well as business cards in the future. See if you can spot her signature creepy bunny throughout this issue! However, you guys were all winners in our eyes! (Enjoy that cheesy line?) On the following page is other entries we liked...
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Top Right: James Seymour Below & Middle Left: Laura Burns Middle Right & Bottom: Nick Huck
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By James Seymour
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The Great Gatsby, By F. Scott Fitzgerald Fitzgerald has to be one of my favourite authors and his 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, is one of the most recognised works of fiction of the 20th century, read by the common reader and academia alike. The story of Jay Gatsby caught criticism when first published, but 87 years later it is still studied and read for pleasure, as well as being worthy of film adaptation. The main message of the novel revolves around the concept of the American dream and how life is so transient and fleeting. As the narrator and neighbour of Gatsby, Nick Carraway is carried readily into the extravagant lifestyle of the man next door, he first falls in love with all that Gatsby represents (who wouldnâ€™t?) but before too long, Nick is opened up to doubts of Gatsbyâ€™s past, and how he lives. Gatsby, it transpires, built his life on a dream of status and money. Unbeknownst at first to all 20
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the characters and the readers themselves, Gatsby grew up poor and changed his name to match his new image of elite socialite, his real name being James Gatz. While serving in World War 1, Gatsby met and fell in love with the rich Daisy Fey, but had no money to marry her. As Gatsby went off once again to battle, Daisy opted to marry Tom Bucchanan, an ‘old money’ brat, and opportunely, a friend of our narrator Nick. Tom Bucchanan, a character in my opinion that is extremely difficult to like, has an affair with the wife of a gas station owner. Mr and Mrs Wilson, or Myrtle, as the mistress is called, lived in the Valley of Ashes, a grey and run down place outside of Manhattan, that is overlooked by a pair of giant eyes on a billboard advertising Dr. T. J. Eckleberg’s Optometrist. The message stands out to me that these eyes see all and hear all, but have the capacity to do nothing more than install guilt into the sinners hearts, perhaps maybe the eyes of the billboard are representing the reader! Not by chance, five years after Gatsby’s romance, he finds himself living in a mansion in West Egg, Rhode Island, across the dock from Daisy and Toms house. Throwing parties to allure Daisy to his home, Gatsby, although very charming and hard to dislike, is subject to rumours from the party goers, drunk on his wine, of how he makes his living. Nobody knows anything substantial about him. It becomes apparent as the story unfolds, that everything from the parties, to the mansion and the money, is all for Daisy. From his mansion, Gatsby can see the green light that shines on the dock in front of Daisy’s house and is frequently described as gazing at it, leading Nick to label it as an ‘enchanted object’, a thing that, through the readers eyes, may well be a symbol of Daisy herself, and the description of this I feel, by Fitzgerald is purposely pointing to the theme, that we all want what we can not have. As the story unravels, you feel that Gatsby is desperate to fit in with the elite that attend his parties, and the over use of the phrase ‘Old sport’ lends him to sound more…high brow. Tom Bucchanan and Gatsby do not get on from the minute they are introduced, and Tom refers to Gatsby as Mr Nothing from Nowhere, but in Gatsby’s eyes, perhaps Tom’s wife Daisy could help him become Mr Somebody from Somewhere, as Gatsby is quoted by saying: “Her voice is full of money.” As the story goes, the inevitable affair between Daisy and Gatsby ensues, after Nick invites both her and Gatsby to tea, in a room filled with yellow, another symbolic colour. Nick even comments on the fact that the room ‘smells pale gold.’ Gatsby wants to confront Tom about the affair with Daisy and succeeds, but Daisy telling him in front of Tom, that she loves him, is not enough for Gatsby, he wants her to say that she never loved Tom! “I love you now, isn’t that enough?” Daisy falls at the last hurdle, to Gatsby’s dismay, and can not say that she never loved her husband. You can almost hear Gatsby’s heart break when he realises that the dream he had, could never be reality. The Great Gatsby follows a man desperate to regain, not a love, but what he felt like when they were first in love, he is trying to reclaim his past. Gatsby’s demise comes when he decides to eventually use his pool! Mr Wilson loses his wife to a road accident, and Tom tells him that Gatsby was the one that killed her. Only revenge and death ensue now. This story indicates that there is not enough for us in this world, because when we do get what we want, we end up wanting more, or something different. Is it due to losing the age of innocence? Are we all fighting, just like James Gatz, to return to a simpler, happier time of our lives? For Gatsby, the pursuit only leads faster to a world of corruption and violence. I found the last chapter the saddest, depicting that guilt and innocence are muddied by money and the need for status. We can not blame Gatsby for his compulsion, or his pursuit, as we all at some point will or have done the same. After all, aren’t we all chasing the green light? Review by Emma Jayne
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Based in the rugged landscape of West Yorkshire, Ellie Victoria Gale is a fine art and fashion photographer. We found the spectacular Ellie through her collaborations with Pearls & Swine, who create the most intricate and fascinating head wear. Ellieâ€™s work is beautiful and surreal, often with a wonderfully vintage feel. You can read her interview with us on our blog page at www.curiositycabinetmagazine.co.uk
Want to work with Ellie Victoria Gale? You can drop her a line at email@example.com or visit her website http://www.ellievictoriagale.com, her Facebook at www.facebook.com/ellievictoriagale or her Twitter @EVGale.
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Joe Kelly, age 21, is the lead singer/songwriter for blues, folk and rock band Sordid Marauders and photographer preferring city based images.
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Minions Are A Girl’s Best Friend By Sophie Hatfield
Once, there was the prettiest little serial killer you ever did see.
She had long golden hair, that she kept in glorious condition and big blue eyes that sparkled due to a regular administration of eye drops. She kept herself in good shape and had a lithe and toned body. If she was going to be the last thing someone ever saw, she wanted them to at least have a good view. She practiced smiling in the mirror daily, so that she could do it under any circumstances. It was bright, breezy and cheerful and (to her mind) not in any way horrific.
However, our little serial killer had a problem. To whit, she was terrified of people.
Most would think this an advantage for a serial killer - after all, wouldn’t it add to their motivation? To destroy the very things that frightened them? Sadly, our little killer was so terrified of people that she lived way out into the forest, all alone but for the acres of trees that surrounded her. She couldn’t get within 10 meters of another human being without breaking out into a cold sweat and trembling all over. Thus, killer though she may be, she had never actually killed another human being in her life. She knew that, if she could get over her fear of people, she would be a perfectly competent serial killer. After all, she performed beautiful mutilations upon the corpses she dug from the hallowed ground of the graveyard, or, when she was feeling particularly brave, stole from the mortuary. Yes, it took a great deal of skill to peel the skin whole from a corpse, leaving it undamaged and translucent. It made beautiful parchment, especially when she burned graceful swirls and curlicues around the edge to make a delicate, fanciful border. She made a fortune on eBay selling those. To read the rest of the story please visit the website. You won’t regret it...
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“My first song was called Kitten In Your Arms.” The Curiosity Cabinet recently had the pleasure of meeting up with one of Liverpool’s rising musical stars for a few ‘bevvies’ and a bit of a Q&A Session. Shannen Bamford is a young Liverpool woman who has just released her long anticipated E.P entitled ‘Paper Planes.’ Shannen started writing music at the tender age of 6 years when she was constantly singing on the playground and forming bands. “My first song was called ‘Kitten in your arms’” she laughs. Her personality is as infectious as her music.
“Inspiration for my songs come from other people’s experiences...” However good ‘Kitten In Your Arms’ was, her musical career didn’t truly blossom until her late teens. Locking herself away in her bedroom until she had created what we can only describe as soft, beautiful, warm melodies mixed with lyrics you could spend hours pulling apart. That’s the interesting thing about Shannen’s music, the majority of it isn’t about her. “Inspiration for my songs come from other people’s experiences, life and situations. ‘Left Behind’ is probably my most personal song. They’re usually about other people...nobody else knows what it’s about.” Shannen has gone from playing in her bedroom to being one of the most loved local acoustic artists in Liverpool, even having the opportunity to play at Liverpool Music awards in front of her childhood idol Mel C (“It was...amazing.”) and has truly solidified her position in this city’s ever growing music scene. Add to this, her passion for helping other people to showcase their talent. She runs various open mic and live music nights around Liverpool. So, what advice would she give to new musicians? “Just do it” she says. “Don’t be self-conscious. If you love doing it, don’t let anything hold you back.” Shannen’s E.P is out now and is available on iTunes and Amazon. You can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shannenbamfordmusic where you can keep up to date with all of her musical shenannigans.
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Tucked away on Hatton Garden, Liverpool, you will find a familiar-looking bar. Familiar, that is, if you owned a television between 1994 and 2004 - for this bar is none other than Central Perk from Friends. Well - a near-as-damnit replica, anyway - with that sofa and selling all manner of American delights. Surprisingly the first of its kind in the UK when it opened last year, Central Perk caught your roving reporter’s eye with not only its distinctive layout but its musical evenings, the charmingly titled “Finding Phoebe Open Mic”.
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Set up and hosted by songwriter Shannen Bamford in order to showcase emerging talent from Liverpool, “Finding Phoebe” has become a must for anyone looking to discover new acts or perform in front of a friendly bunch of people. All styles of music are encouraged and welcomed at the night, and on the same evening you may witness bluegrass, folk, loop-machines, duets, and even on occasion a Frenchman covering “Smelly Cat”... Let there be no mistake: the quality of this open mic is far higher than Phoebe’s strumming or Ross’s keyboard shenanigans. Regular performers include Guy Matthews, Vanessa Murray, Just by Chance, Joe Kelly, Keith Lord, Peter Harrison, Christophe Serra, and of course the editor of this very magazine, Shell Keeley. Shannen Bamford herself also performs in between acts with her combination of covers and originals. It’s free entry and a bottle of wine will set you back a very reasonable £8, which is frankly a steal at today’s prices. The best thing about open mics is always discovering a new artist and there are plenty at Central Perk to be discovered. The venue is large enough for a bit of toe-tapping and hip-shaking but small enough for an intimate atmosphere that feels like your amongst old friends - even if you have only just met. Liverpool and New York do have something of a shared history - the architect of Central Park was influenced by Birkenhead Park, which also influenced Sefton Park; and of course John Lennon famously made both cities his home - so it’s good to see that connection continuing even now with this fantastic open mic night. By Ian Adamson
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Found, By Scott Schirmer Found is a low-budget, indie horror film directed by Scott Schirmer. Now, with any type of low budget film you’re going to face setbacks in certain departments. That is to be expected. However, I am willing to forgive such shortcomings if the quality of the material is compelling enough to captivate me as a viewer. Don’t get it twisted, though. Found is a very well made film from a production standpoint, despite failing to reach the same level as many theatrical feature films. I’ve treaded around the ‘indie horror’ waters for a while and I’ve witnessed the good (Teddy) and the bad (Doll Boy), and when I saw the trailer to Found I really thought that this could be one of the highlights of that particular genre. I wasn’t wrong. What I was wrong about was my initial assumption, that the movie was a bog-standard slasher with high production value. Pleasantly, it turned out to be a lot more than that. What it lacks in budget, it makes up for in intelligence. One incredibly notable thing that I have give the filmmakers credit for is being able to produce a genuinely creepy vibe throughout the entirety of the ‘Headless’ scene, as well as the climax of the film. It could’ve easily gone the route of being too jokey and over-the-top, but they managed to get away with it and make it work well for the context of the film. Something like that is very difficult to pull off, even in mainstream big budget horror flicks so needless to say, I was impressed. The infusion of perversion with violence works extremely well and, as a viewer, makes you feel uncomfortable in a way that I can’t necessarily determine is good or bad. It’s sick, stylish, and inventive. I will also give Schirmer the credit of casting child actors that don’t suck. Gavin Brown provides a strong performance as Marty, the film’s protagonist. The children’s acting can be flawed and a bit wooden at times, but not to the point where it draws you out of the movie. Although, after Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, the bar for passable child actors hasn’t been very hard to surpass. The true gem of the cast comes in the form of newcomer, Ethan Philbeck. His character, Steve, is truly the most compelling. Without going into any spoiler-ish detail, I can assure you that you’ll probably feel the same way by the end of the film. Philbeck delivers the strongest acting of the bunch and the writing gives him a proper greenlight to showcase his abilities. 28
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Now, on to the bad. The biggest flaw I could find (no pun intended) was that the audio wasn’t very good whenever scenes took place within Marty’s household - usually around the dinner table. That really irked me during my first viewing, but that only occurred due to the fact that the film had done such a good job at convincing me (up until then) that this was no different than a moderatelybudgeted motion picture. It’s a significant gripe, but ultimately it doesn’t take much away from the film as a whole. Overall, I enjoyed Found a hell of a lot more than I thought I would and appreciated the intellectual integrity within the material, itself. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with this movie that couldn’t have been solved with a higher budget. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Scott Schirmer and co.
CURIOUS RATING 3/5 Review by Jayme Karales
Superficial Knowledge By Tyson Bley
I psychologically abused the bacterium until its head came off like cooked chicken flesh. After eating its own tail, the mole on my chin had a shrunken head. I’m sympathetic to these reductions. It’s a miracle the double hung schlong even survived natural selection. A sculptor who crams meaningless volumes with cats, I once looked kindly upon a sliver of water vapor and glibly mistook it for bling from outer space. We kiss the openings of grocery bags clockwise; the feathers of ducks who’d pissed themselves marinate in ammonia; these feathers as a result perform rude gestures. We’re harmonious with our oscillations and rotations. As a conduit for the bejeezus, the dinner bell is loaded with spiritual reductionism. And the Crop Circles are taxidermied swamps. So mix and match your herpes: they prove your underwear products of their environment and garnish ATMs, which these days are much less rough-hewn. I’m goaded by its syphilitic green eyes and wipe my ass with its psychedelic Washingtons. I’d sputtered a log. Stabbing Miss Piggy looks pathetic and feels like funnelling a log. It’s one way to cock-block Mike Meyers: on one of his killing sprees, he took acid and became a mixture of certain hallways. The dreadlock is not noticeable when it plays dead. That makes it virtually unstoppable, a force to reckon with. Spock’s logic ruptured like a car battery-sized calculator while feeding the ducks. They pissed themselves and, like wall-eyed automatons, flipped him the bird. He’d moments prior read one of octoBarbie’s 16 tweets; he was still crying, feeling like an unfrozen caveman to whom modern trash looks paranormal. The unfrozen caveman notices how a Twinkie turns tough in the Earth’s atmosphere. Notices how shark crap is fluffier in Hong Kong. “It sucks to walk in high heels with a flipper,” says the shark prostitute. We have merely superficial knowledge of shit: it doesn’t simply roll on after hitting the fan. 29
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Tucked away in one of Liverpool’s most historic streets, (Hope Street) is Vizea Sound. Fulfilling all of your musical needs from recording through to helping you progress as a musician, Vizea Sound is a multi-talented establishment. We sent Amy Roberts along to find out more... 1. What inspired you to set up the studio? Creating an opportunity for bands and artists to come in, not only at an affordable rate, but to provide support during and after the recording process to give new artists a head start in their music career. 2. Most inspiring thing to come out of your time at the studio? Meeting new artists and the variety of work. One day we could be working with a talent singer songwriter mentioning no names, James Carson (plug plug) and the next we’re working on a soundtrack for a thriller film. 3. Liverpool has always been amazing for music, what do you think makes it so great? The pure passion for music. Liverpool for a long time has been a hot bed for musicians, so why not embrace that? Why is it that London is always ‘the place to go’. No, it’s not...go to Liverpool ‘cause 30
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you’ll be surprised. There’s so many smaller venues to see quality on tour and local talent. 4. What are your favourite songs? Ooh...tough one. Can I have a few? I’m into a lot of music but one of my favourite bands is from Spain called “Vetusta Morla”…excellent. If their songs were in English then they’ll big a massive band over here. There’s a song called “La cuadratura del círculo”… brillant and the concept is great, basically means trying to turn a circle into a square… or something like that. Other favourites, Muse - “Dead Star”, Walk The Moon - “Jenny”, Reuben - “Lights Out” and a cheeky guilty pleasure “Hey You Beautiful” by Olly Murs! 5. Do you write for yourselves too? Yes but I’m too critical. I like writing for myself and to chill. That way I use it as a therapy rather than a necessity. 6. Do you have any tips or advice for people wanting to start out and record? Don’t. Only kidding! Yes, it’s not so easy anymore, but someone’s got to do it. You have to be inspired by the thing that created the problems in the first place, the internet. Get online and plug your music, not by flashing it in front of people’s faces and suffocating their time. Speak to people who are artists and managers in the local areas, start creating a buzz by playing at the bars and be prepared to give lots of music away because without fans your music is not going to provide you with a career, they mean the most. Develop the right attitude/look and match that to the people who would listen to you. If music is really for you and you’re doing your’ soul’s work’, you will make it...trust me. Only those who have passion and a never say no attitude will survive, but you’ve got to do it right and be persistent. Don’t send CDs off to record labels, don’t waste your time writing emails and don’t always persist going down the same route, try others. Go on forums, LinkedIn, find the people who are going to be at the gigs you should be playing at. Make your presence know and be nice about it, be modest and support others, the more you give, the more you’ll get back. You can contact the studio at: THE ANNEXE 13 HOPE STREET, LIVERPOOL, L1 9BH INFO@VIZEASOUND.CO.UK 0773 057 4789 www.vizeasound.co.uk (Above photograph courtesy of the Vizea Sound website) 31
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It isn’t an issue of The Curiosity Cabinet without some form of reference to Edgar Allen Poe in it... so when Ian told me of this mysterious tale, I thought it was only right to write an article on it. This was after getting excited for about ten minutes that he was actually telling me about a toaster in the shape of Poe’s face. For 75 years, in the early hours of the 19th of January, (Poe’s birthday) a mysterious, black clad figure went on a pilgrimage to Edgar Allen Poe’s grave to leave a bottle of cognac, roses and occasionally a note... Poe died under ‘mysterious’ circumstances at the age of 40 on October 7th 1849 in Baltimore, yet the “Poe Toaster” didn’t start making an “appearance” until the 1930’s. Was it an old friend? A huge fan? Someone Poe drank cognac with? Or was it simply just a publicity stunt by someone who wanted a secret identity? All we have is a photo apparently showing this pilgrim which was featured in LIFE magazine. There is speculation that in recent years, before this tradition seemingly ended, that this habit was passed on from father to son, as onlookers told others of a younger looking gentleman wearing the same outfit his predecessor did. There were also reports of people trying to catch the “Poe Toaster” to try and reveal his true identity! However, I don’t think we should know the identity of this mysterious person. It would ruin the magic. I suppose it would be comparable to when Lemony Snicket revealed his own true identity. I found myself disappointed that he wasn’t actually a silhouette. We live in an age of CCTV, phones, internet and being able to show the world something in less than a second... it’s important that in this era we can keep some things unknown. We are naturally curious as human beings, but sometimes, curiosity kills the cat... and no one likes a dead cat. We raise a glass of cognac to the Poe Toaster here at The Curiosity Cabinet. May he stay forever a mystery and may he someday return! By Michelle Keeley
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Thank you to everyone who has submitted to our magazine and helped to make it beautiful and full of awesome things! And a special thank you to our friend, James Seymour, who has worked hard to design this issue as well as being generally fantastic and supportive. (Art Editor Note: And my deepest thanks to both Shell and Ian for being so patient with me and my Peter Saville-like procrastination in putting this issue together. Although, granted, Peter Saville is a legend and a genius. I’m a... well...)
Are you thinking of submitting to The Curiosity Cabinet? If so, you can find guidelines on our website www.curiositycabinetmagazine.co.uk or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to keep updated with our Facebook page by giving us a “like” at www.facebook.com/thecuriositycabinet and follow us on Twitter @CurioCabMag Feel free to get in touch with the people who appear in this magazine and check out their work further! Keep your eyes peeled for them and anyone else at the website or on our Facebook page.
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