The Skinny May 2023

Page 33

The Skinny's favourite pop breakup songs

Boyz II Men — End of the Road

Womack & Womack — Teardrops

JoJo — Leave (Get Out)

No Doubt — Don't Speak

Robyn — Call Your Girlfriend

Billie Eilish — Happier Than Ever

Robyn — Dancing on my Own

All Saints — Never Ever

Cher — Believe

Natalie Imbruglia — Torn

Icona Pop ft Charli XCX — I Love It

Kesha — Praying

Peach PRC — F U Goodbye

Lily Allen — The Fear

Listen to this playlist on Spotify — search for 'The Skinny Office Playlist' or scan the below code

Issue 208, May 2023 © Radge Media Ltd.

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— 4 — THE SKINNY May 2023Chat
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Championing creativity in Scotland

Meet the team

We asked – What's your most favourite moment in pop history?

Rosamund West Editor-in-chief

"Maybe when David Hasselhoff reunified East and West Berlin through song?"

Peter Simpson Digital Editor, Food & Drink Editor

"My entirely accidental discovery of the Simlish version of Carly Rae Jepsen's Run Away With Me."

Anahit Behrooz Events Editor, Books Editor

"The Imagine video. Culture died."

Jamie Dunn Film Editor, Online Journalist

"Madonna’s less-than-impressed reaction to a mulleted Kevin Costner visiting her backstage during her Blond Ambition tour and describing her incendiary, jaw-dropping show as “neat” – as captured in In Bed with Madonna."

Tallah Brash Music Editor

"Björk's swan dress. And Olly Murs falling down a flight of stairs while absolutely massacring Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered."

Heléna Stanton Clubs Editor

"Anything Azealia Banks related ie her getting raging at the whole country of Ireland on a flight via Twitter.

Polly Glynn

Comedy Editor

" Jarvis Cocker mooning Michael Jackson at The Brits and having Bob Mortimer be his defense lawyer."

Rho Chung Theatre Editor

"When P!nk said, 'I'm gay.............. Actually, I'm not. '"


Harvey Dimond Art Editor

"That time Solange went off at Jay Z in the lift and Beyoncé just stood in the corner watching."

Editorial Sales

George Sully

Sales and Brand Strategist

"Two words: Fyre Festival."

Lewis Robertson Digital Editorial Assistant

"The incredibly short-lived Matt LeBlanc/Taylor Swift collaboration."

Laurie Presswood General Manager

"The Saturdays' high octane 7.42am GMTV performance of Just Can't Get Enough. The hair is bouncing, the dance moves out of sync: someone's just told them they're the next Spice Girls. The 3m2 stage CANNOT handle these stomping ladies."

Eilidh Akilade Intersections Editor

"Charli XCX performing I Love It: 'I thought this song was big in Germany, what the fuck.' A modern classic, imo."


Dalila D'Amico Art Director, Production Manager "Heidi Klum's worm costume. Simply iconic."

Phoebe Willison Designer

"Since the day I was put on this earth I have loved pop history. Pop history is engraved into my brain like 15th of the 6th 85 is unto Nadine Coyle's. I am pop history. Also it’s Jedward's rebrand as a political lobbying powerhouse."

Sandy Park Commercial Director

"Gemma Collins falling through the stage at some Radio 1 awards show. Does that count?"

Tom McCarthy

Creative Projects Manager

"The KLF and Extreme Noise Terror opening the 92 Brit Awards with a grindcore version of 3AM Eternal, firing blanks into the crowd with a machine gun and then leaving a dead sheep on the doorstep of the afterparty."


Words: Rosamund West

In celebration of Eurovision, Beyoncé’s arrival in Edinburgh and in a passionate attempt to get an interview with Jedward, this month The Skinny has gone POP! Sadly Jedward dinghied our multi-platform attempts to get them to talk to us, which is a shame because we really wanted to discuss the atrocities of the British Empire and also The X Factor (spoiler: it’s the same thing) with Twitter’s surprise political commentators as we approach the coronation. Never mind. Tallah brought in her teenage bedroom phone, a rotary handset pasted in Backstreet Boys photos cut out of Smash Hits as style inspiration – come with us as we act out our 90s teen magazine fantasy.

Our celebration of POP! begins with a chat with the Popgirlz Scotland collective, who work to create safe spaces and tackle gender discrimination in the Scottish music scene and beyond. We talk to two rising stars of Scottish dance music, ObviouslyDan and Miss Cabbage, and take a look back on dance-pop crossovers past and their potentially cursed legacy. Pop is political – in Who Run The World? we explore how some of the world’s bi est stars have been using their platform to address issues of inequality and protest injustice. We’ve got an interview with Manchester-based alt-pop star BC Camplight about his heartbreak-inspired new album, and Glasgow sibling duo Comfort talk identity and self-acceptance as they release new album What’s Bad Enough? Film gets in on the pop(ular) action with a spread of the most artful blockbuster hits of the 21st century, and, in true teen mag style, we launch a brand new advice column from resident agony aunt Anahit Behrooz. Turn to p29 for some actually very thoughtful and good advice alongside a frankly smashing new logo.

Forming the bridge between POP! and More Features, Intersections shares a first-person piece on vaginismus and listening to our bodies. And, as acts of political resistance draw more right wing ire, we consider the nature and history of protest, its ability to incite public anger but also to effect change.

Art guides us through Alberta Whittle’s triumphant, essential solo show in the National Galleries of Scotland, and visits Edinburgh Printmakers’ Uprooted Visions group show, developed through international collaboration to platform artists who have experienced migration. Film meets Cambodian-French filmmaker Davy Chou, whose Return to Seoul tells a story of the complexity of homecoming, and the director and editor of eco-thriller How to Blow Up a Pipeline discuss the whirlwind production mirroring the urgency of this political statement.

Clubs talks to Berlin-based techno and house DJ Patrick Mason, talking about connecting with a crowd and challenging the gatekeeping of the clubs industry, ahead of his Riverside Festival set. Books shares an essay exploring the themes of musicality, desire and Blackness in Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Small Worlds. Josie Long’s debut short story collection is released this month – we meet her to talk about fulfilling her lifelong dream of doing comedy and also writing sad stories. Theatre meets Hannah Lavery and Natalie Ibu to learn about their new play, Protest, which aims to inspire hopeful action in a youth audience.

So that is the May issue – a blend of POP! and protest, the coalition of May Day and also Eurovision. Thank you for coming with us on our radical Smash Hits journey. To close, some words with AMUNDA, singer, songwriter, pop producer, who has more than one secret to share.


Cover Design by Phoebe Willison

i: @phoebe.willison

Ft. Popgirlz Scotland

Top row, left to right: Nikhita; Popgirlz Josephine Sillars and Rachel Alice Johnson; KATERINA; Francesca

Bottom row, left to right: Florence Jack; Serena Sophia; Étáin; Cortnë

— 6 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Chat
Image credits: Diana Georgieva; Rhianonne Stone; Frank Murphy; Rhianonne Stone; Eleanor Jack; Fraser Scott; Rhianonne Stone; Elle MacKay

Love Bites: Dual Carriageway Dreaming

Words: Lucy Fitzgerald

The places many dream of visiting to restore personal peace are typically locations of idyllic escape – tropical beaches, Mediterranean verandas, or cypress tree-filled Tuscan fields. But my desires lead me somewhere different: motorway service stations. Yes, I choose to fantasise about the concrete complexes that border our dismal dual carriageways.

I recognise that fixating on these glorified car parks perhaps su ests a grim reality, but my love for them is bound up in the romance and adventure of cinematic road trips, from renegade lovers hitting the open road in Badlands, to the daring abandon of Easy Rider. I think fondly of the rustic glamour of rest stops presented in American film, with their Googie architecture and kitschy signage; I think of the wheels of a Cadillac or camper van scuffing sandy desert ground as it exits Route 66 and pulls up to the pump; I think of True Romance and Thelma and Louise. And so, as I descend the stairs of my National Express bus somewhere outside Penrith and take in a panoramic view of Eddie Stobart trucks, I indulge an Americana delusion that I too am an elusive vagabond – high on counter-culture and low on gas.

When refuelling, re-stocking, and relaxing in this liminal space, I feel revitalised and bound by no law, only loosely tethered to society by the headlines on newspaper stands. I revert to a toddler-like state: I dance on the linoleum floor, I’m in desperate need of the toilet, and I’m overly excited at the prospect of a snack. With no duty to be productive, I am free to play, nap, and surrender to silliness. Whenever my inner child hits those brakes, I find myself reimagining Tebay Services as Utah and my Costa coffee as bootleg cargo.

May 2023 — Chat — 7 — THE SKINNY Love Bites
This month’s columnist unpacks the romance of motorway service stations and the imagined lives they allow us to pit stop at

Heads Up


Galloway, 25-28 May

Set along the banks of the gorgeous Water of Deugh and at the foot of some of Scotland’s most beautiful hills, Knockengorroch is one of Scotland’s most charming outdoor festivals, bringing a love of nature and a real family vibe to the often hectic festival calendar. This year they celebrate their 25th birthday, with a lineup including drum ‘n’ bass supergroup Bad Company UK and party legends Los Chicanos.

Yuichi Hirako: The Nature

The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until 20 May

Japanese mythology, figurative painting and sculpture come together in Yuichi Hirako’s ecologically minded exhibition, which draws on the figure of the kodoma, or “tree-man”, to stage an inquiry into our inconsistent and complex relationship with nature. Through fantastical, purgatorial landscapes that trap the viewer into a new and haunted kind of nature, Hirako demands we reorient our own sense of self within our environments.

Spring continues to creep in as events move outdoors, festival shenanigans ramp up, and the cities fill up with art and music.


The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, 7 May, 7pm

The noughties indie rock band that just keep getting better and better, FOALS’ new album Life Is Yours is one of their best yet – and that’s saying something. Melding infectious rock and disco riffs, intimate lyricism, and a startling, grunge-y romanticism, this is music that is simultaneously wrenching and irresistible. Their show, unsurprisingly, sold out in minutes but beg, borrow, or steal a ticket if you can.

Zineb Sedira: Can’t You

See the Sea Changing?

DCA: Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, until 6 Aug

Marking the artist’s first UK project in 12 years, Zineb Sedira’s newest exhibition brings together film, photography and installation to explore ideas of identity, belonging, and collective memory. Her work draws on her own personal experiences of belonging to different cultures: caught between France and Algeria, Sedira holds up the sea as a symbol of a fluid border space that can articulate conditions of transnationality and migrant consciousness.

Fly Open Air Festival

Hopetoun House, Edinburgh, 20-21 May

A two-day dance music extravaganza taking place in the atmospheric grounds of Hopetoun House, FLY Open Air Festival brings together the best of house, techno and disco, from big international names to the FLY residents who make the Scottish club scene what it is. Highlights from the lineup include Berlin duo DJ HEARTSTRING, FLY legend Denis Sulta and Glasgow rave sensation AISHA.

Edinburgh Tradfest

Various venues, Edinburgh,until 8 May

Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 3-6 May, 7:30pm

A Streetcar Named Desire has been on everyone’s minds recently (hello, Paul Mescal), so there’s no better time to see Scottish Ballet’s subversive and outrageously sexy interpretation of the classic Tennessee Williams play. This is contemporary narrative ballet at its most sizzling and expressionistic, featuring a stunning score, mesmerising choreography, and the kind of sultry production design that transplants you immediately in 1940s New Orleans.


The Caves, Edinburgh, 12 May, 7pm

— 8 — THE SKINNY Heads Up May 2023 — Chat
Yardworks Festival SWG3,
Anna Karenina Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, 13 May-3 Jun, various times
Glasgow, 5-7 May
Yardworks Alicia Edelweiss Anna Karenina Brownbear Image: courtesy of artist Photo: Mark Worst Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic Photo: Paul Jenning Photo: Alex Knowles Photo: Patrick Jamieson, courtesy of artist and The Modern Institute Image: courtesy of FLY Photo: Andrew Ross Photo: Archives Mennour, courtesy of the artist and Mennour, Paris Photo: ReCompose FOALS The Nature Yuichi Hirako AISHA Scottish Ballet's A Streetcar Named Desire Sea Rocks, Zineb Sedira Knockengorroch


SWG3, Glasgow, 19 May, 11pm

Having immersed himself in the UK’s garage scene in his hometown of Bradford, TS7 (aka Thomas Sampson) is now one of the country’s most exciting garage DJs and heads up to Glasgow this month to make his Scottish debut, playing everything from garage-influenced cuts of chart-topping hits to original beats.

Radio 1's Big Weekend

Camperdown Park, Dundee, 26-28 May

For the first time since 2006, Radio 1’s Big Weekend is headed to Dundee. Catch the likes of Wet Leg, The 1975, Self Esteem, and Arlo Parks, while more local acts include Bemz and The Snuts. Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday are sold out, although keep an eye on resale, but tickets for the Friday dance event – featuring the likes of Jamie xx, Eliza Rose and Barry Can’t Swim – are still available.

Brooke Combe

Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow, 12 May, 7pm

Edinburgh-based singer Brooke Combe saw her star rise during the shut-ins of the pandemic, and is now bringing her irresistible brand of pop-soul – with influences as diverse as Whitney Houston and Arctic Monkeys – out in the real world. With a host of festival slots through the summer, this relatively more intimate show at Queen Margaret Union is one of the last of her tour.

Love the Sinner

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 11-13 May, 7:30pm

Having started out life as a performance poetry collection, Imogen Stirling’s acclaimed Love the Sinner is transforming into a fully staged theatre show. Following the embodiments of the Seven Sins as they negotiate the contemporary world and their place within it, Love the Sinner melds Stirling’s lyricism with dynamic visual theatre and electronica for a mythic investigation into what it means to be human and flawed.

CineMasters: Wes Anderson

Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow, 7 May-5 Jul

With the release of Asteroid City just round the corner, Glasgow Film Theatre are delving into the work of quirky king Wes Anderson this month. Kicking off with a screening of the director’s breakthrough sophomore feature Rushmore, find all the classics – from Fantastic Mr Fox to Moonrise Kingdom – in the programme, as well as 35mm screenings of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Palidrone: De Grandi

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, 5 May, 11pm

Edinburgh techno party Palidrone welcomes Parisian wunderkind De Grandi back. Now one of the Paris underground scene’s most propulsive artists, De Grandi is known for his experimental cuts that bleed the boundaries between techno, trance, and grime. Support on the night comes from beloved Palidrone residents J Wax, Provost and Dansa.

All details were correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. Please check organisers’ websites for up to date information.

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

Various venues, Edinburgh, 27 May-4 Jun

CCA: Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, 11 May, 8pm

Leith Folk & Lore

Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Edinburgh, until 26 May


Various venues, Dumfries and Galloway, 20-28 May

— 9 — THE SKINNY Heads Up May 2023 — Chat
and Galloway Arts Festival Cryptic x SAMA presents KINTRA Talisk Photo: Michael C Hunter Photo: Lena Politowski Der Lauf at Imaginate Children's Festival Kintra Image: courtesy of Morvern Graham and Out of the Blue Photo: Agnieszka Straburzynska-Glaner Image: courtesy of GFT Photo: Charlie Cummings Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic Photo: Jake Finnigan Photo: Graham Joy Photography Image: courtesy of the artist Leith Folk & Lore Moonrise Kingdom Arlo Parks Love The Sinner Brooke Combe TS7 De Grandi

What's On


There are some absolutely gargantuan shows happening in Scotland this month. Beyoncé, our POP! issue muse, plays Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on 20 May, before Harry Styles stops by the following week for two nights in the same spot (26 & 27 May). On the same weekend that Harry’s in the country, a plethora of pop stars will also flock to Dundee’s Camperdown Park for Radio 1’s Big Weekend, with Arlo Parks, Wet Leg, Anne-Marie, Ashnikko, FLO, Georgia, Romy, Self Esteem and The 1975 all set to play.

Before all of that, the start of the month sees The Road To The Great Escape land in Glasgow. A warm-up run of shows for Brighton’s The Great Escape (10-13 May), on 6 May catch artists set to play the showcase festival at King Tut’s, Nice N Sleazy, The Garage Attic Bar and G2, including Katie Gregson-Macleod, Terra Kin, Humour, LVRA and more. That same weekend in Glasgow, the Melting Pot x Heverlee Springtime Weekender takes place in Queen’s Park with Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul, James Holden and Pleasure Pool all set to play live.

As the month rolls on, ahead of releasing Tracey Denim, catch the hypnagogic pop of Londoners bar italia at Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s (11 May). The following week, grunge rockers OSEES will rip it up at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket (19 May) and Summerhall’s Dissection Room (20 May). On the same night in Edinburgh, Devo tribute act We Are Not Devo play Voodoo Rooms. Back in Glasgow, Billie Marten brings the dreamy Drop Cherries to Saint Luke’s (24 May), before Caroline Polachek brings her incredible pop pipes and latest album, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, to SWG3 (25 May), the same night Sam Smith’s rescheduled April show happens at the OVO Hydro. At the end of the month, New Zealand’s The Beths play The Garage (30 May), while the following night brings Alvvays to SWG3 and New York icons Interpol to Edinburgh’s O2 Academy.

May also sees a whole host of local artists celebrating new releases. Post Coal Prom Queen launch First Contact at The Old Hairdresser’s (4 May), Brooke Combe’s Black Is the New Gold mixtape gets an airing at QMU (12 May), Comfort play Dundee (Conroy’s Basement, 12 May), Glasgow (The Old Hairdresser’s, 13 May) and Edinburgh (Leith Depot, 14 May) in honour of What’s Bad Enough? and Slime City launch the addictive Slime City Death Club at Saint Luke’s with a little help from LNFG labelmates Bis and Casual Worker (17 May). [Tallah Brash]


Glasgow Film Theatre and Cameo in Edinburgh are showing Wes Anderson plenty of love this spring by putting on full retrospectives ahead of his latest film, Asteroid City, which arrives in cinemas on 23 June.

If that sounds like your nightmare, how about something nightmarish with DCA’s horror festival Dundead (11-14 May)? Its opener couldn’t be better: Andrew Cumming’s “stone age horror” The Origin, which takes us back to palaeolithic Scotland where a band of early humans are being picked off one by one by a mysterious threat. Also look out for Latin American anthology film Satanic Hispanics, and a mini-retrospective dedicated to the master of body horror, David Cronenberg.

But maybe any film is a horror film? That’s the premise of Glasgowbased artist filmmaker Daniel Cockburn’s lecture/performance How Not to

— 11 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Events Guide
details correct at the time of writing
Photo: John Farrell Photo: Mason Poole Photo: Aidan Zamiri Post Coal Prom Queen Beyoncé
The Origin
Caroline Polachek

Watch a Movie (CCA, 3 May). We’re told Cockburn will take audiences down a cinematic rabbit hole through 90s horror films, the Y2K crisis and deep grammatical analyses of power ballad lyrics.

Another highlight this month is the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (aka SQIFF)’s Trans-Generational Tour, a travelling programme of films coming to GFT (12-14 May); MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling (11 May); Cornucopia, Hawick (20 May); DCA (26-27 May); and An Lanntair, Stornoway (16 Jun). Included in the lineup are Framing Agnes, which uncovers buried trans histories, and Trans Parenting, a programme of short films portraying queer parenthood.

We’d also love to see you all at our free screening of the sorely underseen Matinee, Joe Dante’s joyous paean to the B-movie horrors he grew up watching as a kid, which we’re screening for free at CCA Glasgow (10 May) and Summerhall in Edinburgh (11 May). John Goodman is terrific in the film as a schlock director trying to tap into social anxiety around the Cold War and there’s a typically subversive streak to Dante’s knockabout comedy, which looks even sharper 30 years after its release. [Jamie


Kicking off May, in Glasgow Chispa presents: diessa at Stereo; expect wacky edits and bootleg (4 May). Missing Persons Club is back at La Cheetah with Detroit Techno legend DJ Bone (5 May), while Frenetik X Industrial Estate invite Kamafaka (5 May). Melting Pot X Heverlee Springtime Weekender is back once again at Queens Park Recreation Ground with over 15 artists (6-7 May) while The Berkeley Suite sees Amsterdam legend Lena Wilikens take the reins (7 May).

Over in Edinburgh, Palidrone invites French artist De Grandi to Sneaky Pete’s (5 May). At Cabaret Voltaire, Harrison BDP, Anna Wall (fabric) and Alien Communications are playing all night (6 May).

Aberdeen hosts a huge techno lineup for Cultivate Festival with acts including Charlie Sparks, Franck, TAAHLIAH, 999999999, at Innoflate Aberdeen (12-13 May).

Anz performs at La Cheetah (12 May). Voight-Kampff are back at Stereo with Berlin-based hardcore artist Viscerale, with support from Whitley and DJ Aveen (13 May). On 14 May, CBR Sundays presents 12th Isle, Glasgow label legends. Pop Mutations returns with a huge lineup at The Flying Duck on 19 May, featuring Coolant + Pink Pound, General Ludd + DJ Peanut – a night of experimental music.

Over in Edinburgh, the legend Erol Alkan play Sneaky’s on 13 May. FLY Open Air Festival is back with a combination of local stars and international acts. (20-21 May).

On 27 May Glasgow local star Miss Cabbage & Stereo present Goth Jafar, birthed by NYC’s rave scene. This will be a huge night, not to be missed! [Heléna Stanton]


At CAMPLE LINE, near Dumfries, Kira Freije’s river by night (until 10 Jun) uses the nearby River Cample as inspiration. Freije presents new sculptural interventions that reflect on interior psyches and the built and natural environment, in particular response to the gallery’s rural surroundings.

In Edinburgh, Talbot Rice hosts a group show titled The Accursed Share (until 27 May). Revolving around the concept of debt, nine artists (including Lubaina Himid, Sammy Baloji and Marwa Arsanios) unearth the origins of debt in enslavement and imperialism, and how it has manifested itself in contemporary issues such as the cost of living crisis.

In Glasgow, The Modern Institute currently has a trio of exhibitions open, all until 20 May. In A Sunflower, Six Trees, Three Birds and Two Horses (One With Wings), Andrew Sim combines queer autobiography with folklore in a series of radiant pastel motifs of monkey puzzle trees, horses and sunflowers. Meanwhile, Andrew Kerr’s Flattening the Penny (in the gallery’s Aird’s Lane space) demonstrates the artist’s renewed interest in book cover design. In the Aird’s Lane Bricks Space, Tokyo-based artist Yuichi Hirako presents flamboyant paintings and sculptures.

The culmination of a one year residency exchange programme, All Islands Connect Underwater at the CCA (until 3 Jun) brings together artists Asha Athman, Islam Shabana and Samra Mayanja in an exploration of the ocean as a site of political, cultural and legal contestation.

The Hunterian Collection have recently acquired a number of films by the pioneering filmmaker Lis Rhodes, which will go on display at the gallery from 12 May. The exhibition will feature films from the start of Rhodes’ career in the 1980s to more recent works, which trace a feminist and anti-austerity

— 12 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Events Guide
Framing Agnes Erol Alkan Photo: Tom Madwell Miss Cabbage Et hoc quod nos nescimus, Cian Dayrit 2018 Photo: Kyle Crooks Photo: Gianmarco Bresadola Dissonance and Disturbance, Lis Rhodes Image: courtesy of the artist Matinee

trajectory over the last four decades. In the East End, The Pipe Factory is showing Ghada Eissa and Nik Rawlings’s I was in the tide, the tide was in me (6-21 May), a new audiovisual artwork that examines personal experiences of bipolar disorder and neurodiversity.

On 20 May, DCA debuts an exhibition of new work by Saoirse Amira Anis, whose multidisciplinary practice centres radical care, compassion and joy. Anis will delve into Scottish and Moroccan folklore, drawing parallels with how they are deeply embedded in water. [Harvey


From Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery (Lament for Sheku Bayoh) comes Protest (until 2 Jun), a story of marginalisation and solidarity for children and their parents. This exciting collaboration will open at Northern Stage in Newcastle and tour Scotland, including a stop at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (29-31 May). The Children’s Festival offers nine days of family-friendly theatre and dance from 27 May to 4 June.

Glasgow’s Tron Theatre presents Ross Willis’s award-winning Wolfie (4-13 May). This innovative fairytale follows the story of twins separated at birth in an irreverent look at life in and after the care system. At Tramway, the Citizens Theatre Young Company will stage the premiere of PAL: Your AI Care Companion (11-13 May), a new play by Sara Shaarawi (Sister Radio).

Scottish Opera hosts the return of acclaimed director John Fulljames with Bizet’s Carmen, sung in English and set in 1970s Spain. Carmen will visit Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh (12 May-11 Jun).

This month also sees the world premiere of Lesley Hart’s highly-anticipated adaptation of classic story of love, betrayal, and patriarchal oppression Anna Karenina at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum (13 May-3 Jun).

This year’s Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival (20-28 May) sports a tantalising lineup of theatre, music, and cultural events, including Scottish Opera’s Pop-Up Opera and A Play, A Pie, and A Pint’s Leopards Ate My Face

Fred Deakin will debut his immersive show, Club Life, at Edinburgh’s Summerhall (25-28 May). The piece is described as a riotous joyride through the club scene of the 80s and 90s – a cast of dancers invites the audience into this unique experience.

Glasgow will be haunted by Visible Fictions’ new event, Ghosthunter.

Designed for older teens and young adults, this interactive show is described as "part immersive theatre, part expansive escape room" in which audiences will assist a team of paranormal experts as they investigate a haunted house. Audiences can access transport to the space from the Tron Theatre. (30 May-17 Jun). [Rho Chung]


You’ll be pleased to hear that May’s a bumper month for books! Start your summer early with a trip to the Isle of Arran for the McLellan Poetry Fringe Festival (11-14 May). There’ll be appearances from William Letford, Magi Gibson, Kevin P. Gilday and last year’s winner of the McLellan Poetry Competition Annaliese Broughton. Or, if you’d prefer to be loch-side, head to Ullapool Book Festival in the northwest Highlands (5-6 May). Writers Alan Bissett, Kirstin Innes, Michael Pedersen and Don Paterson will be among those in attendance.

For those wanting to stay closer to the central belt, why not pop along to Portobello Bookshop on Edinburgh’s North Sea coast. Events this month include Kae Tempest launching their new collection Divisible by Itself and One at Assembly Rooms (4 May); Heather Parry is discussing her debut short story collection This Is My Body, Given For You (16 May) in the shop. Also premiering a short story collection is comedian Josie Long – her book Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't will be launched at Freemason’s Hall on 22 May. Rounding the month off is Nadine Aisha Jassat, who is releasing her debut middle-grade novel The Stories Grandma Forgot (and How I Found Them) on 30 May, also in the book shop.

Elsewhere in Edinburgh, Chris Carse Wilson’s debut Fray will launch at National Library of Scotland (4 May). Toppings & Co will host nearly twenty writers this month, including broadcaster Sally Magnusson with her latest novel Music in the Dark and some viral TikTok BookTok faves – Olivie Blake (author of The Atlas Six) will launch One for my Enemy alongside fellow YA writer Susan Dennard with The Luminaries (23 May), and Rebecca F Kuang will be discussing her book Yellowface on 31 May.

Glasgow too will be packed with writers over the course of the nine-day Aye Write Festival (19-28 May). There’ll be appearances from Ruby Wax, Darren McGarvey, Leila Aboulela, Val McDermid and Janey Godley, among dozens of others. [Nasim Rebecca Asl]

— 13 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Events Guide
Anna Karenina Wolfie Moving towards the calm one, whose arms open, the breadth of happiness in measurable form, Kira Freije 2021 Photo: Mike Bolam Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic Michael Pedersen Nadine Aisha Jassat Image: courtesy of author Leila Aboulela Image: courtesy of author


20 It’s! A! POP! Special! We take a dive into the world of pop, featuring Popgirlz Scotland, the radical potential of a pop platform, dance-pop crossovers and a rundown of artful pop(ular) films of the 21st century.

26 Alt-pop act BC Camplight discusses The Last Rotation of Earth, an album borne of personal turmoil.

28 Glasgow sibling duo Comfort on new album What’s Bad Enough?

29 Like any good 90s pop magazine, we’ve got a problem page! Ask Anahit is here to solve your petty- to medium-sized drama.

36 We explore Alberta Whittle’s create dangerously – her expansive, generous solo exhibition in the National Galleries of Scotland.

39 Edinburgh Printmakers’ Uprooted Visions show emphasises the importance of elevating marginalised voices.

40 Cambodian-French filmmaker Davy Chou introduces Return to Seoul, the story of a Korean adoptee travelling to her homeland.

43 Director Daniel Goldhaber and editor Daniel Garber on How to Blow Up a Pipeline.

44 We meet Berlin-based DJ Patrick Mason ahead of his Riverside Festival debut.

47 One writer meditates on the themes of Caleb Azumah Nelson’s second novel Small Worlds

48 Josie Long discusses her short story debut Because I Don’t Know What You Mean and What You Don’t

49 Hannah Lavery and Natalie Ibu on Protest, a play which seeks to inspire hope through action.

On the website...

A rundown of the Edinburgh International Festival programme; a whole bunch of reviews (Terminal V, Paramore, Tim Heidecker, the list goes on…); details of more free film screenings with MUBI; The Cineskinny podcast, new episodes every fortnight; and a chat between Alice Slater and Heather Parry about true crime and snails.

— 15 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Contents 5 Meet the Team 6 Editorial 7 Love Bites 8 Heads Up 11 What’s On 16 Crossword 33 Intersections 51 Music 56 Books 57 Film & TV 60 Comedy 61 Food & Drink 62 Design 65 Listings 70 The Skinny On… AMUNDA
20 29 40 26 36 43 28 39 49 44 47 48
Image Credits: (Left to right, top to bottom): Rhianonne Stone; Elyssa Iona; Comfort; Phoebe Willison; courtesy of the aritst and The Modern Institute; Alan Dimmick; Return to Seoul; How To Blow Up a Pipeline; Simon Bay; Poan Pan; Matt Crockett; Jack Murphy

Shot of the month

Richard Dawson @ Saint Luke’s, Glasgow, 26 Apr by Hope Holmes


1. Pop group – held tiny discs (anag) (8,5)

8. Annual leave (3,3)

9. Names (8)

10. Samuel L. Jackson's eyepatch-sporting character in the Marvel movies (4,4)

11. (Limbs) apart (6)

12. ___ Hill (b.1975), frontperson of The Fugees (6)

13. Not (yet?) with a record label (8)

15. Announce (8)

18. Popular verse metre (often pentameter?) (6)

21. Donna ___ (d.2012), the 'Disco Queen' (6)

23. ___ Smith (b.1964), voice of Lisa Simpson (8)

24. Pattern or system – drama pig (anag) (8)

25. "Can you hear me, Major Tom? Here I am, floating in my ___ ___" (3,3)

26. Pop singer – Sprite's nearby (anag) (7,6)


1. Pop singer – a dial-up (anag) (3,4)

2. Balls on a table (7)

3. Bug (9)

4. 1968 hit by Ohio Express, in which they declare they've got love in their tummy (5,5,5)

5. Free online graphic design tool (5)

6. Suspicion (7)

7. Hard-wearing (7)

14. They turned it up to 11 (6,3)

16. Tangy pink vegetable (7)

17. Italian liqueur (7)

19. The 'Queen of Pop' (b.1958) (7)

20. Ace pics (anag) (3,4)

22. Sovereignty (5)

Turn to page 7 for the solutions

— 16 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Chat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
21 2223 24 25 26
1314 151617 181920
Compiled by George Sully
— 17 — THE SKINNY May 2023

Words: Tallah Brash

At the start of February, the news that global superstar Beyoncé would be bringing her Renaissance World Tour to Edinburgh in May heavily disrupted our March Editorial planning meeting. We were in equal states of shock and excitement that Queen Bey would choose to come here, and off the back of our 2022 Album of the Year, the dancefloorready Renaissance, no less. The following week a wider planning meeting asked the question, what should our theme be for the May issue? And so, in honour of Beyoncé (and Harry Styles who plays Edinburgh a week later, but mostly Beyoncé) The Skinny Goes Pop was born and the phrase “kind of like Smash Hits” has featured in almost every planning meeting since.

In the issue, we speak to the Popgirlz Scotland collective who are working tirelessly towards a more balanced and inclusive music industry; and just like all those free CD giveaways from magazines of the 90s, they’ve curated a very special Popgirlz playlist for us too. Cheri Amour digs into pop’s political underbelly, from showstopping Super Bowl performances to the

always political Eurovision via pop stars speaking out about social issues on social media, and Skye Butchard speaks to DJs Miss Cabbage and ObviouslyDan about the changing relationship between pop and electronic music.

As BC Camplight gears up for the bi est release of his career, the alt-pop artist tells us about the impact a breakup has had on his new record, and, embracing more hip-hop and pop influences on their latest record, Glasgow sibling duo Comfort talk identity, self-acceptance and impeccable timing ahead of releasing What’s Bad Enough? Film digs into 20 artful blockbusters from the early 21st century that delivered thoughtprovoking ideas alongside their popcorn thrills, and in true Smash Hits vibes, we’re delighted to welcome the very first iteration of Anahit Behrooz’s advice column: Ask Anahit. Finally, at the very back of the mag, ahead of her forthcoming appearance on our stage at Kelburn Garden Party this summer, pop and R’n’B singer, songwriter and producer AMUNDA takes on our monthly Q&A.

— 19 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Theme Intro

Room At the Table

We get to know the Popgirlz Scotland collective a little bit better, while they curate a special playlist for us featuring just a fraction of their talented members

Words: Tallah Brash, Rachel Alice Johnson and Josephine Sillars

The Popgirlz Scotland collective have come a long way since launching in 2019. From a simple idea to create a safe and respectful space for women in the Scottish music scene, they’ve gone on to tackle gender discrimination in Spotify playlists – most famously the Scotify playlist – and most recently, following a series of complaints, have initiated a conversation with BBC Introducing, asking them to consider incorporating a lyric box to their song uploader.

Popgirlz have also been guest lecturing at universities all over the UK in recent years, hoping to enact positive change in the music industry from the ground up with Nurturing Networks. Using Vick Bain’s Counting the Music Industry findings, they’ve been highlighting the gender gap, inequality and discrimination found in the music industry, from poor representation for women, non-binary and people of colour in everything from playlisting to festival programming. Alongside POWA and Fanny Riot, they’ve helped create the Friendly Fests database, highlighting which festivals display clear safe space policies on their website, calling for those who don’t to do so.

While the pair behind Popgirlz Scotland, Rachel Alice Johnson (Kohla) and Josephine

Sillars, are musicians in their own right, for our pop special, we get to know more about the collective, before handing over the reins to them to talk us through some of the lesser known artists in the collective that they love, with a specially

curated playlist to run alongside it featuring some more familiar faces. First though...

Tell us a bit about Popgirlz and how the collective came about?

Popgirlz Scotland is a support group for female, non-binary and trans artists in the Scottish music scene that are comfortable in a space centred around the experiences of women in music. Rachel Alice Johnson (Kohla) created the group with the idea of making a safe, motivating space for womxn artists. Kohla initially found it difficult to meet other womxn artists and make friends, coming from a fine art background. Cultivating a healthy music scene is of key importance to Popgirlz, with friendship-building encouraged over traditional networking.

Josephine Sillars joined the collective in 2020 and helped lead the Popgirlz Scotland campaign against Scotify, promoting equality in algorithmic playlisting.

How has the collective grown since launching?

Popgirlz was created in late 2019, but grew substantially over lockdown, and includes a collaborative Facebook group, Instagram and Twitter where members can help and support one another. The collective now has 200 members, ranging from new and up-and-coming acts, to established artists including Honeyblood, Be Charlotte and Siobhan Wilson. Post-pandemic, Popgirlz organise social in-person events where members can meet, collaborate and build friendships.

What are some of the challenges you’ve come up against since launching?

Our bi est challenge is lack of financial support. We work on a volunteer basis and our inbox is

constantly flooded! We are hoping to source funding this summer so we can provide more help to members (and avoid our own burnout).

What would you say is the most important thing about Popgirlz?

The most important thing for us is friendship-building. By supporting each other, we allow all of our careers to flourish. The group is a place where members can discuss the pros and cons of working with management, PR, venues, festivals and various other elements of the industry in a non-judgemental and learning-focused space. There is room at the table for all of us, and it’s important to recognise that we are stronger together!

What’s next for Popgirlz?

We are continuing to lecture internationally from September 2023 (we have just returned from our England tour) and are planning to bring our presentation into schools for the first time. We are also hoping to source funding to grow the collective as we are currently run by volunteers. We will also be hosting social events over the summer, with plans to start Popgirlz UK and Ireland very soon due to high demand. We are also currently running a campaign on our social media to encourage BBC

Introducing to add a lyric box to their online uploader. This would help safeguard what is broadcast and promote the lyrical work of singer-songwriters.

— 20 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music THE SKINNY
Florence Jack Minerva Wakes Serena Sophie Étáin Mima Merrow Photo: Eleanor Jack Photo: Kelly Muir Photo: Fraser Scott Photo: Rhianonne Stone


IG: @cortnemusic

Cortnë is a casually-cool alt-pop singer-songwriter from Glasgow’s Southside, who draws inspiration from past relationships, feminism and religious imagery. On the angst-driven Lungs she explores themes of modern love and isolation with layered harmonies and forward-thinking lyrics. On Bliss she evokes the likes of acoustic ballad-era Paramore to deliver a punchy and emotive performance, at both times dreamy and hyper-focused. [Rachel Alice Johnson]


IG: @thisisetain

Imagine if Big Thief was just one Northeastern Irish girl living in Glasgow? That’s Étáin. A singersongwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Étáin’s music is so peaceful to listen to. My favourite of her songs is Tonne of Bricks from her 2017 EP, which is a fresh and chaste song that just instantly was stuck in my head from the first time I heard it. I would really love to see her and Manchester’s Dilettante share a lineup. [Josephine Sillars]

Florence Jack

IG: @florencejackmusic

If Blair Waldorf were a North-Eastern Scottish popstar, she would be Florence Jack. It’s her sassy Queen B energy in Boss and her effortless emotional glamour in Lovely and Dance With You. Florence writes, records and produces her music too – you can hear her personal touch through her backing vocals and lush piano and string arrangements. There’s a timeless elegance to Florence’s music – a natural songwriter. [RAJ]


IG: @fran.ortisi

Francesca is a singer-songwriter and producer originally from Sicily. She experiments with vintage alternative pop in the Nelly Furtado-esque single Obstacle, poised with edge and an ‘eat-youup-and-spit-you-back-out’ energy. She layers soulful vocal melodies on top of crisp Balearicinfused dance beats. On dreamy single Away she writes and performs like a 90s Olivia Rodrigo, her vocals soaring against acoustic and electric guitar slides. [RAJ]



KATERINA is a Greek artist based in Ayr. She only has one song released, and while instrumentally minimalist, the melody, story and arrangement of Ballad of a Hollywood Dreamer is instantly captivating. The melody reminds me of 90s alt-rock, and her voice has a deceptive power to it. I am eagerly awaiting more music from her. [JS]

Maud The Moth

IG: @maudthemoth

Maud The Moth is an Edinburgh-based avant-garde, art-pop singer-songwriter who is simply incredible. Originally from Spain, she writes complex and emotive music that stylistically draws on a vast range of influences – from classical, jazz and rock as well as romanticism and surrealism. Her last album, Orphnē was released in 2020, with a live session from the Brudenell Piano Sessions released in 2022. Orphnē is a powerful, powerful album. [JS]

Mima Merrow

IG: @mimamerrow

Mima Merrow is one of my favourite artists in Glasgow right now. Originally from Belfast, her album Almost Home was released last year, and it is a stunning and poetic debut. Her lyrics are honest and her instrumentation is beautifully atmospheric. Her alternative-folk style of writing is instantly catchy – and I am really annoyed that I consistently always seem to miss her live shows! I am really excited for Mima Merrow this year. [JS]

Minerva Wakes

IG: @minervawakes

One for all the trip-hop girlies! Minerva Wakes is a multi-artform project from Jo D’arc (The Twistettes) that includes dark trip-hop and glitchy psychedelia with poetry, photography and projections incorporated into her live show. The music is dark and enticing. To be expected from Jo, the bass tones are great, and especially on tracks like Perfect Soul, the dynamics completely pull you in. [JS]


IG: @__nikhita

For me, South-Asian-Edinburgh-based Nikhita is an international R’n’B popstar waiting to happen. Her airy vocals glide in every direction on the Lolo Zouaï-tinged Unwrap Me, contrasting perfectly against the song’s fresh synths and MC Salum’s expressive bars. On Aphrodite she delivers a hypnotic vocal line on top of soulful keys and precisely placed trappy hi-hats – reminiscent of Z-era SZA. Her songwriting is delicate and impactful, creating an addictive listen. [RAJ]

Serena Sophia

IG: @serenasophiamusic

Serena Sophia is the powerful pop diva we’ve all been waiting for. A singer-songwriter, dancer and actress from Glasgow, her songs flicker between dance pop icon on Is The Answer Love, featuring driven piano, trip-hop beats and eclectic techno synths, to jazz-pop icon on Giving Me and Hold On. On the latter, the trained saxophonist builds up a sassy brass band, layering sharp finger snaps against a passionate, cutting vocal delivery akin to Good Girl Gone Bad-era Rihanna. It’s strong, feminine, divine energy and we love it. [RAJ]

Popgirlz x The Skinny

Find the playlist on Spotify by searching for ‘Popgirlz x The Skinny’, featuring tracks from all of the aforementioned Popgirlz artists as well as the ones below. Enjoy!


Josephine Sillars



Misty Galactic

Eve Simpson


Elisabeth Elektra

Siobhan Wilson



Sev Ka

follow Popgirlz online on IG and Facebook @popgirlzscotland and Twitter @popgirlzscot

— 21 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music THE SKINNY
Under-the-Radar Popgirlz Picks Francesca Cortnë KATERINA Nikhita Maud The Moth Popgirlz Josephine Sillars and Rachel Alice Johnson Photo: Najma Abukar Photo: Rhianonne Stone Photo: Elle MacKay Photo: Raiona Marnie Photo: Diana Georgieva Photo: Simon Kallas Photo: Rhianonne Stone
— 22 — May 2023 THE SKINNY

Pop Edits

We chat with two rising voices in Scottish dance music about pop crossovers, and why Skrillex is really just like Anakin Skywalker

Words: Skye Butchard

Back in February, three DJs took over Madison Square Garden. When clips surfaced of Skrillex, Four Tet and Fred Again.. cheesing away, selecting tunes for a huge crowd, it was a rare unifying moment. You got swept up in the scale, the ridiculous odd-couple nature of the collaborators, and the silly drops they threw in for fun. But the moment also underlined the changing nature of pop crossovers. When Skrillex played with Four Tet in 2015, DIY mag reacted like many others: “You what, mate?” Four Tet was a respected figure. Why was he working with the guy partly responsible for killing dubstep?

It’s fitting that Fred Again.. is the other producer on stage. Though undoubtedly one of dance’s bi est recent breakthroughs, cursed Ed Sheeran collaborations and ‘nepo baby’ accusations have made the phrase ‘Fred Again.. Vibes’ go from a nice soundcloud tag to a potential insult.

Though not an industry disrupter like Skrillex, he’s become this decade’s musical punching bag in some corners of the club. That makes it a good time to look back on dance-pop crossovers from a decade ago, who they inspired, and what it tells us about the changing relationship between pop and electronic music.

So what was happening in 2013? Disclosure broke through with polished pop inversions of house and UK garage. Tropical house remixes were everywhere. Hypermasculine EDM and goofy drops were ever-present. Crucially, the internet was shaping habits. Scottish producer Dan Smith, aka ObviouslyDan, has featured on Radio 1's Future Dance with his sensitive and melodic approach to club music. But like many young guys in the early 2010s, his gateway was Call of Duty montages. “It blew my mind,” says Smith. “I went into the UKF drum’n’bass world. There was a mad amount of tunes, like Netsky, Friction and all those guys. I got into dubstep from there.”

Soon, he was introduced to Skrillex through another montage that included clips from Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. We talk about the vitriol Skrillex and his fans received when the sound changed what people thought of dubstep. “I can see why. Maybe it would be different if I heard it now, but it felt like a kickback at everything else that was going on,” Smith says. “You were trying to find the most disgusting noise. Then someone would come out with a track even more horrible than the last. It was definitely a bastardised dubstep. Then it got labelled as ‘brostep’, which doesn’t help.”

Smith continues: “You loved it because it had the energy. Now it would be replaced by hyperpop or the gabber renaissance. It’s about fast-paced energy with people like Pink Pantheress. It’s more tasteful now.”

Shawna Milligan, aka Miss Cabbage, is a firm fixture of Glasgow queer nightlife, playing at nights like Phat and Fast Muzik, or supporting TAAHLIAH at headline homecoming shows. She found a home in the dance/pop breakthroughs of this period, though her journey started earlier. “My first core memory with dance music was when I was about seven,” she says. “I lived in quite a chaotic household. There was so much partying going on around me. A family friend was a DJ – he got me into happy hardcore. He gifted me a stack of seven CDs... I’d never felt joy like that before.

“I didn’t have the understanding to know about the queer lineage of dance music. Now looking back, it makes so much sense. I would spend hours on UKF listening to all these channels.” Milligan continues: “I was obsessed with nightlife and clubbing growing up, but it was done in secret, at home on YouTube. I was far away from… not civilisation, but you could call it that.”

As an active part of the queer underground, I’m interested to hear her take on the blurring of categorisations like ‘underground’ and ‘mainstream’ due to widening access and dwindling options. For one, who is allowed to break through? “In the charts, there’s still elitism in that the straight white man is dominant wherever,” Milligan says. “Growing up, it was always masculine people who were the superstars. There wasn’t as much space for women, trans and non-binary artists, even though they existed and are the root of a lot of club culture that’s consumed.”

When Miss Cabbage started DJing in 2021, she was keenly aware of staying inside her genre. But as with those three DJs in New York, the borders between pop and underground are blending: “It’s in the back of my mind. But you see people that are influential that really don’t care,” she says. “Pop edits are back in a big way… You can focus on the journey you’re taking people on, rather than focusing on genre and what you think people want you to play.”

ObviouslyDan has a similar perspective when it comes to changing attitudes towards former villains. “I watched a clip of Hayden Christensen coming out to a crowd of Star Wars fans. Everyone was cheering his name,” he says. “Being Anakin Skywalker and being hated is kind of what I remember Skrillex being in terms of dance music and dubstep. Now he comes out, he’s got Fred Again.., and Four Tet with him, and he’s won people over.”

— 23 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music THE SKINNY
“Pop edits are back… You can focus on the journey you’re taking people on, rather than focusing on genre”
Miss Cabbage
Miss Cabbage ObviouslyDan Photo: Kyle Crooks

Who Run The World?

As government politicians continue to squabble over Partygate, mainstream music stars are addressing the rising concerns of the nation. We explore how pop’s bi est stages continue to collide with radical political expression

Words: Cheri Amour

The camera pans up from the belly of the Super Bowl arena and up into the rafters of the NRG stadium’s roof. A lone figure stands, ahem, on the edge with Houston’s skyline illuminating the horizon behind. Cut to a close-up. Lady Gaga appears clad in an entirely sequinned one-piece. The shoulders jut out in angles straight out of Bowie’s Cat From Japan era, before she launches into a gutsy rendition of Woodie Guthrie’s seminal folk song, This Land Is Our Land. A digitally generated red and blue starlight forms into the US flag before she plunges down to the crowd.

Forget the MTV Awards, the national anthem at a presidential inauguration, or even a 15-night residency at Madison Square Garden (looking at you, Styles!), the Super Bowl is now considered one of the bi est showcases for pop’s brightest stars. The Lady Gaga performance in question saw the superstar fly from the roof to the stage in one of the most acrobatic and showstopping Super Bowl halftime shows of all time. Of course, music has had a long-standing relationship with the NFL’s annual final playoffs. Two decades prior, Michael Jackson took to the stage as part of the 1993 broadcast in a bid to keep viewers from changing the channel. And, in the last 30 years, the coveted half-time slot has become synonymous with a star-studded show, with everyone from Madonna to last year’s Mount Rushmore level of hip-hop royalty (Snoop, Eminem, Dre, Kendrick, Mary J. Blige, to name but a few) entertaining millions.

But, in more recent years, politics have collided with the programmed pop on stage. Beyoncé’s appearance during Coldplay’s 2016 show might have been one of the most radical political statements from the superstar in her career to date. The Grammy-award-winning songwriter was flanked by a dance troupe donning Black Panther-style berets and black leather. They posed with raised fists evocative of the black power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games. The stylisation felt particularly significant too given 2016 marked 50 years since the formation of the Black Panthers. The African-American revolutionary group also had its roots in Oakland, a city positioned less than 50 miles from the stadium where the Super Bowl took place.

Fast forward four years and Jennifer Lopez and Shakira tag-teamed for a sta ering celebration of Latino culture while making an essential comment on the ongoing border crisis between the US and Mexico. Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter Emme

Maribel Muñiz sang a ballad rendition of Let’s Get Loud from inside an illuminated, cage-like dome. In front of the stage, more young girls sat in similar structures – a reference to the conditions many immigrant children were facing under the Trump administration after being separated from their parents and detained in horrifying conditions.

Yet despite tackling such heavy subjects in their stage shows, these buoyant pop personas didn’t see their following thin out. Far from it, in fact, with Beyoncé’s post-Bowl Formation World Tour grossing $256 million in ticket sales. Meanwhile, according to Spotify, streams of J.Lo’s music rose by 335% following her performance. Remarkably, as government politicians continue to squabble over Partygate and hand out internal bullying reports, mainstream music stars are addressing the rising concerns of the populace.

This act of musicians galvanising around a cause or movement isn’t new. The Secret Policeman’s Ball began life in 1976 to support human rights charity, Amnesty International. Two years later, 100,000 people marched six miles from Trafalgar Square to the East End of London (a National Front hotspot) for the first Rock Against Racism; an open-air concert at Victoria Park in Hackney, the event welcomed The Clash, X- Ray Spex, and Jimmy Pursey (of Sham 69 fame) all onto the bill. While the 1970s might’ve found crowds campaigning for change in collective green spaces, the last few years have seen singular pop titans using the mic to amplify political expression. Could it be that rather than simply performing songs as a soundtrack to societal issues, artists are now feeling a moral

— 24 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music THE SKINNY
“With millions of millennial voters across the globe disconnecting from democracy, is it any wonder a new generation is looking to alternative figureheads?”
Photo: Arnie Papp licenced under CC BY 2.0

obligation to make an impact with their platforms as the headlines get bleaker by the minute? The same year that Jennifer Lopez was working hard on her Super Bowl setup, the platinumselling country trio the Dixie Chicks announced they would become simply The Chicks. This was the latest example of sweeping cultural changes brought on by nationwide protests spotlighting racial inequality. As the US questioned removing Confederate monuments that have ignited debate for years, The Chicks made the decision to drop ‘Dixie’ due to its connotations of the pre-war slavery era.

Elsewhere in the South, the Netflix documentary Miss Americana shows 12-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift agonising about whether to speak out to her legions of fans during the 2018 elections. She weighs up publicly endorsing two Democratic candidates from her home state of Tennessee. By doing so, she would denounce [eventual winner] Marsha Blackburn who voted against the reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act and is against gay marriage. On an Instagram post a few months later explaining why, she finally makes her decision clear: “I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin colour, gender, or who they love.”

Not all examples of exposing an artist’s true colours are quite as positive though. Social media has presented our favourite musicians with the opportunity to share more of their values and beliefs with their fans. But what if the audience you garnered some 20 years ago has now wised up to a darker underbelly? An increasingly divided world is suddenly reflected starkly in pop’s bubblegum-sweet sheen. In 2020, Vice ran an investigative report into the mutiny that teen idols Hanson are now facing.

The foundations of the trio’s decade-spanning fanbase began to crumble in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests which swept through America in 2020. While the band is best known for their 90s (and nonsensical) classic, Mmmbop, the rest of their discography actually leans on a lot of Motown riffs and royalty. (They even welcomed renowned Motown Records’ funk bassist Bob Babbitt onto their fifth studio album, Shout It Out in 2010.)

But despite these apparent allegiances, the brothers remained disconcertingly silent about the news stories that were unfolding. It’s not as if their fellow pop peers were opting out of the conversation. Ariana Grande was spotted pledging her support for a peaceful protest using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to share the experience across her social accounts. Meanwhile, Harry Styles literally put his money where his mouth is and forked out the cash to fund numerous bailouts for protestors in LA, with a post that encouraged us all to check our privileges. Yet even with their years of positioning veteran Black artists as a North Star to their music-making, Hanson’s socalled solidarity didn’t spark a single post on their social accounts.

Closer to home, the 67th edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest comes to British shores this month. While the event is often shrouded by a level of inter-country allegiances and tactical voting between entrants, the pop pantheon continues to push its otherwise camp, skirt-flinging legacy to become a safe space for self-expression. You might remember back in 2014, Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst took home the title for their country with blinding banger, Rise Like a Phoenix. This moment marked almost 20 years since Dana International, a

trans woman, clinched the same top spot for Israel with Diva. Eurovision isn’t explicitly a queer extravaganza but there’s no doubt that the annual ceremony is entrenched in LGBTQ+ culture.

It will be a tough brief for the host city Liverpool to land this year though. The UK will be the surrogate home to the ceremony on behalf of last year’s winners in Ukraine, as the war against Russia continues for its people. And so the dichotomy between pop and politics rages on, just like those Super Bowl stadium shows laden with more subtle messaging than just powering Pepsi’s soda sales. And, perhaps, that’s why we need these lightning rods of change now more than ever.

With millions of millennial voters across the globe disconnecting from democracy, is it any wonder a new generation is looking to alternative figureheads? Pop giants like J.Lo and Queen Bey with decade-spanning careers who have displayed a razor-sharp commitment to hard graft and bucketloads of business acumen. These stadium-sized statements don’t just represent a political statement but a humanitarian emergency. Let the (pop) sirens sound.

— 25 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music THE SKINNY
“Rather than simply performing songs as a soundtrack to societal issues, artists are now feeling a moral obligation to make an impact with their platforms”
Photo: Arnie Papp licenced under CC BY 2.0

A Hit on the Head

Ahead of the bi est release of his career, we catch up with Manchester-based alt-pop act BC Camplight to talk about creating art out of personal turmoil

Words: Max Pilley

As Brian Christinzio sat in his Liverpool hotel room late last year between recording sessions, it seemed like his life was falling apart. The experience was indelible enough to have now earned immortalisation in his song Kicking Up a Fuss, and Christinzio remembers every second of it. “I think the hotel was decorated in a decade that has never existed. It was so weird; it was burgundy carpets with cigarette stains and early 90s art but with modern day ‘live laugh love’ shit. It was a hit on the head, for sure.”

The sheer bleakness of the details may not have stung so sharply were it not for the circumstances in which Christinzio found himself. Halfway through the recording of his new album, his fiancée and partner of nine years split up with him. It left him bereft, and suddenly all of the music he’d been working on as BC Camplight seemed redundant. The only consolation to be found was that a flood of new material was suddenly ready to replace it.

“When that happened,” he says, referring to the breakup, “I was like, ‘Christ, this new record is gonna be good.’ I had to focus on some sort of a positive, and I recorded the new record in, like, five weeks. It was just a geyser of songs and feelings. It’s really the only thing that’s made the breakup tolerable.”

In typical BC Camplight fashion, the results are a blend of sweet, infectious melody, wry, matter-of-fact comedy and gently profound life observation. The album’s title track is driven by an unshakably addictive piano riff, while Christinzio sings about an existential wait, or perhaps longing, for life’s finality to become clear to him. On She’s Gone Cold, he borrows lyrics verbatim from the conversation his fiancée had with him that fateful night. If it all seems a bit dark, then welcome to the BC Camplight story.

Since relocating from Philadelphia to Manchester, he’s released a string of sparkling alt-pop albums, each one blighted by misfortune. He was deported from the UK two days before the release of 2015’s How to Die in the North; his father died days before the release of 2018’s Deportation Blues; 2020’s Shortly After Takeoff was released in the first month of lockdown.

That The Last Rotation of Earth is also defined by personal turmoil, then, seems to place it in the same tradition, although Christinzio sees this album as a substantial departure from his previous work. Like its predecessors, it contains several references to his beloved Manchester, but the themes are more internalised and therefore more universal. What does remain, though, is his

characteristic ability to throw in seemingly mundane everyday references, with Homes Under the Hammer and Faith No More among the pop culture potpourri.

“It’s just a device that I really enjoy,” Christinzio explains. “It puts the listener in a specific place. It’s a reminder that you’re listening to a person going through something, and I’m not trying to be Bill Shakespeare.”

Few songwriters of his generation sprinkle laugh-out-loud lyrics into their songs so successfully, especially while walking the tightrope of maintaining such heavy subject matter at the same time. “Music is just the instrument my brain uses to get its thoughts out,” is his typically self-effacing explanation for that. “You have to be mindful that you can’t just dump 3000 pounds of awful feelings onto people all at once. I enjoy having a reprieve and letting people breathe and reset [...] and I think some people appreciate music that reflects the complexities of just how weird our brains are.”

Something else that sets The Last Rotation of Earth apart from his previous work is the expansiveness of its sonic palette; tracks like The Movie and Fear Life in a Dozen Years are positively cinematic in their scope, with members of the Liverpool Philharmonic adding grandeur to Christinzio’s arrangements. The album closes, meanwhile, on a disarmingly uncertain note with the drifting two-minute instrumental The Mourning. “One thing that I don’t like about some musicians is that they assume they have answers to things,” he explains. “I just want to be honest with people, I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, and I don’t know how any of this is going to turn out, but this is what I have to say, and I hope you come along for the ride.”

The BC Camplight stock is continuing to rise, with one of Christinzio’s childhood heroes Elton John now an avowed fan (“He used to hate me, you know, but he likes me now; I wasn’t expecting him to come around”), and a mystery collaborative project with comedian James Acaster in the works. All that remains is for him to cross his fingers that no further disasters get in the way of the bi est release of his career.

“I can’t say that I haven’t been checking the news for comets. I was on the NASA site checking for any undiscovered meteors that might strike on 11 May. But I’ve done my job, I finished it, so the world can go ahead and explode at this point.”

The Last Rotation of Earth is out on 12 May via Bella Union BC Camplight plays Mono, Glasgow, 20 May; The Caves, Edinburgh, 21 May

— 26 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music
“Some people appreciate music that reflects the complexities of just how weird our brains are”
Brian Christinzio, BC Camplight
BC Camplight Photo: Elyssa Iona
— 27 — THE SKINNY May 2023

Breaking Point

Glasgow-based sibling duo Natalie and Sean McGhee talk identity, self-acceptance and impeccable timing ahead of the release of their new album as Comfort

Words: Arusa Qureshi

It’s not a revelation to say that things feel particularly broken at the moment. From the spread of exclusionary politics and right wing hatred to the literal destruction of the planet and rise of a capitalist-tinged survival of the fittest, it can all get a bit much. But with everything feeling so ludicrously and laughably bad so much of the time, you can’t help but ask: What next? Where do we go from here?

“It’s a question that I’ve felt was really relevant with the sociopolitical landscape of Britain and Scotland,” Comfort’s Natalie McGhee explains, referring to the question at the heart of the band’s new LP What’s Bad Enough? “It was also a personal question because I’ve stru led a lot throughout my life with mental health and I think a lot of us, in a lot of the things we experience can put it off because we’re taught if it’s not a crisis, it’s not a problem – you can just grin and bear it. With this album, I wanted to explore all the facets of the wider culture and myself as a person: what is bad enough? It’s already at a breaking point and it still doesn’t feel extreme enough to justify the mass uproar that we should be having.”

Since the release of Not Passing in 2019, the duo have toured extensively, developing their sound as well as their punk, no-holds-barred ethos. In their off-kilter soundscapes and empowering, abrasive vocals, they’ve settled on something that is confrontational but engaging; cheeky but full of a rebellious and provocative energy that is easy to get behind.

“I guess it’s really angry in a lot of ways,” Natalie says of the new album, “but also defiant because it’s about knowing that you are worth more than that. And it’s about the stru le of accepting your worth. It’s about accepting that if you’ve got breath in your lungs, you are worth it. And that should be enough.”

What’s Bad Enough? traverses numerous themes that feel eerily timely and relevant, from trans rights to growing intolerance. But as Sean notes, it sadly epitomises how little has changed. “It’s funny, because we recorded it almost two years ago now,” he says. “Loads of people, with Real Woman especially, were like, ‘did you time this to come out right now with the gender reform controversy?’ But no, we recorded it years ago, it’s just that these issues are persisting, and they’ve gotten worse.”

In the self-produced music video for Real Woman, Natalie dances boldly around Glasgow, singing biting lyrics like ‘Your prejudice is not my problem / What world are you living in? / Gender a car before a person’. At one point, she humorously lifts her top up to reveal JK Rowling’s face covering her nipples. “It felt like one of the more accessible ones, because it is angry, but it’s also quite cheeky,”

Natalie explains. “And we also just knew that we could make a banging video for it. We quite early had the idea for the JK Rowling-covered nipples. It just felt natural because it’s a strong statement and says a lot about who we are as a band.”

“It kind of encapsulates the jump from our last record too, which was basically like a demo that we did really DIY,” Sean adds. “This was obviously in a proper studio, and it’s embracing a lot of more pop and hip-hop influences, which are big influences on the band.”

As well as adopting these influences in a much bi er way, What’s Bad Enough? signals the duo’s leap in confidence and overall drive towards a version of self-acceptance. For Natalie, this comes in the form of being able to explore the more beautiful side of things, as well as the negative. “I don’t want to just be a one-dimensional writer that only writes about one thing, because

life is just not like that. I can be very self-doubting and hard on myself. So you just sort of come around more to the idea that you’re not terrible at what you do and then that leads you to having the courage to experiment more.”

Sean admits that it’s taken them a few years to get to this point but the journey is something they’re proud of and this sense of freedom and rejection of others’ standards permeates clearly throughout What’s Bad Enough? And on the future of Comfort?

“We’re hoping to get straight back in the studio as soon as possible – keep building things, keep playing further away from home,” he says.

“Yeah just keep playing, keep writing and regardless of the outcome, just to not let anything affect that passion we have for expressing ourselves,” Natalie continues. “I truly believe creativity is a function of being alive. It’s such a privilege to keep doing it with someone you really care about. It’s about having as close to a banger of a life as you can in what is the absolute rubble of society right now, and helping people, helping each other. Hopefully, our music just continues to reach out and make people feel less alone.”

What’s Bad Enough? is released on 5 May via FatCat Records

Comfort play Conroy’s Basement, Dundee, 12 May; The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow, 13 May; Leith Depot, Edinburgh, 14 May

— 28 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Music THE SKINNY
“It’s about accepting that if you’ve got breath in your lungs, you are worth it. And that should be enough”
Natalie McGhee, Comfort
Image: courtesy of the artist

It wouldn’t be a POP! issue without a problem page – in the first of a new column, newly anointed agony aunt Anahit Behrooz offers some advice to our readers

My boyfriend and I are generally very happy and have a great relationship. However he is not ‘online’ and doesn’t get any of the memes or cultural refs I send to him/talk about. AITA for wanting him to be more online so we can talk about niche Twitter beefs?

Firstly I’d like to thank you, anon, for staying true to the brief of this page, which is Extremely Petty Shit. But Extremely Petty Shit that matters! Someone’s texting style and their investment in contemporary cultural discourse is something I think about a lot, to the extent that I have brought it up multiple times with multiple friends, and they have multiple times kindly told me to grow up. So, I get it.

I don’t think you’re an arsehole for wanting him to be online, although arguably online is where all the Bad Stuff™ is so like, maybe a bit. But like I said, I get it! The internet, and being chronically online, is a language, and language is what creates connection – it’s where our humour and mutual recognition come from and how we create a shared psychic space with someone, which is all intimacy really is.

At the same time though, being lo ed off in this day and age is a mental health choice more than anything. And, however much you want your partner to understand the specific sociolinguistic ways that Elon Musk is a huge loser, it is unfortunately a boundary that needs to be respected. But honestly maybe you could just tell them? Build it into your relationship, like Prometheus bringing fire from Mount Olympus This is admittedly dangerously close to one of those advice columns where they’re like, “if he’s bad in bed just tell him what to do and it’ll actually be super sexy”. However, as there is simply nothing sexy about Twitter discourse, I think the comparison stops there x

It sometimes feels lonely with my partner. Though we are in the same room, it feels like I’m alone. He usually comes from work and is tired and then just watches TV. He doesn’t really want to do anything outside our home. I get he is tired, but if it happens often it makes me not like him so much.

Oh man. I’m going to compare your situation to a book (I reference this book all the time, to the extent that maybe it’s the only book I’ve ever read?) just because my heart is breaking a little and I need to deflect. I don’t know if you’ve read Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City but she talks about the deceptive idea of loneliness as something happening in solitude, whereas it very often happens within busyness – whether the intimacy of a relationship or the crowds of a city. And it’s so hard because when we’re in those situations we expect it the least, and it hurts so much more.

I guess in terms of practical advice, I feel you maybe need to identify what it is that hurts you. Do you worry what it says about his tendency towards insularity? Do you feel he’s ignoring your needs – for closeness, for conversation? Are you bored and want to be out more? The latter is maybe the easiest fix (the idea that our partners can tend to all our emotional needs is a myth –maybe you need to rely on your friends for that part of your life?) but the other two… there is a potential incompatibility there, either in how you want to live your lives, or the ways he is willing to attend to yours. Unfortunately, nothing to be done other than to have a very gentle but firm conversation, and to always, always bear in mind that you’re not silly for finding your desire – whether for someone or for a kind of life – important

How to heal from someone who was giving indications of wanting a serious relationship, but then left?

Lol yep, shoot me. Not to be like this happened to my buddy Eric (me) but this happens to my buddy Eric (me) a lot.

This is maybe the easiest question to answer because there is a very practical solution – mute them on everything! I mean literally everything!!! The artificiality of social media, where we have access to people we normally wouldn’t have access to after a painful rupture, is fucked up and bad! I know it’s hard and it feels like you’re the one creating a final break, but honestly? They did that and you’re just trying to move on with your life. Why is their stupid little green circle appearing in your flat at half-past-midnight when you’re trying to go to sleep? No thank you!

These practicalities aside, I would also be very careful about the narratives you build for yourself out of this. It’s easy when faced with this kind of rejection to spin it into a reflection of yourself (cause and effect: they left so maybe they left because of you) or a lack of trust in your ability to read things (did you make it all up in your head?). Ultimately, however, the only relationship you have to live with forever is the one with yourself, and internalising these awful narratives because someone was chaotic and inconsiderate is really harmful. They might leave but that shit sticks around. That’s what my buddy Eric says anyway x

Do you have a problem Anahit could help with? Email or check out our Instastories for fully anonymised submissions

— 29 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Ask Anahit THE SKINNY

Pop(corn) Art

Popular films don’t need to be brainless or unambitious. To mark our pop issue, here are 20 artful blockbusters from the 21st century that pushed the envelope, delivering inventive filmmaking and thought-provoking ideas alongside their popcorn thrills

Ad Astra

James Gray, 2019

Marketed as a sci-fi adventure starring Brad Pitt, Ad Astra was heralded as a masterpiece by some critics, but audiences were distinctly less impressed by Gray’s serious-minded drama about an astronaut wrestling with daddy issues. Half space thriller, half psychodrama, Ad Astra is a far cry from the spectacle of Apollo 13 or First Man, with Gray instead using his blockbuster budget to probe deep into the outer reaches of the male psyche. [Patrick Gamble]

Birds of Prey

Cathy Yan, 2020

As far as recent superhero movies go, Birds of Prey holds the title for the most daring. Cathy Yan’s fabulous fable of female rage centres on Margot Robbie as a berserk Harley Quinn and she’s clearly loving every minute. A confetti-filled time bomb that could go off at any minute, Birds of Prey owns its unhinged woman narrative to craft an actionpacked sisterhood story (still a rare occurrence in mainstream comic book adaptations), and it’s a genuine blast. [Stefania


Olivia Wilde, 2019

Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut tells the story of two bookworms who resolve to attend at least one party before they leave high school. Booksmart sets itself apart from the raunchy comedies of earlier in the 2000s by refusing to surrender to judgemental mockery, instead celebrating the diversity of its characters and their values. Wilde builds towards a truly chaotic and cathartic climax, coaxing stunning performances from an absurdly talented roster of stars in the making.


Cloud Atlas

The Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer, 2012

The Wachowskis laugh in the face of the ‘unfilmable’, and together with Tom Tykwer, they mounted a mega-scaled adaptation of David Mitchell’s splintered-timeline opus, a story about stories, an ode to connection. The decision to cast actors in multiple parts doesn’t work in every instance (especially when white actors are made up in yellowface), but there’s a full-bodied embrace of scope and vision that’s at times overwhelmingly powerful. [Rory Doherty]

— 30 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Film THE SKINNY
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Edge of Tomorrow Hustlers Ad Astra Snowpiercer Cloud Atlas

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Matt Reeves, 2014

A refreshingly human but fiercely compelling depiction of one species out-evolving another in real-time, Matt Reeves demonstrated his keen blockbuster storytelling language years before he was handed the keys to Gotham. Part of an unofficial 20-year campaign for motion-capture performances to be considered a legitimate and awardsworthy artform, Andy Serkis one-upped his Gollum portrayal with a trilogy of simian woundedness – but this middle chapter remains a highlight. [RD]

Edge of Tomorrow

Doug Liman, 2014

Tom Cruise’s reluctant soldier relives the same day over and over in Doug Liman’s smartly conceived alien invasion actioner. Obviously an extra-terrestrial twist on Groundhog Day, the movie also draws from the experience of playing video games as it mines its set-up for humour and existential dread. Add in Emily Blunt’s ultimate warrior, some canny editing, and a slick script, and you’ve got a superior blockbuster. [Tom Grieve]


Lorene Scafaria, 2019

Ever since Ray Liotta told us he always wanted to be a gangster, filmmakers have been trying to recapture the propulsive energy and seedy glamour of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Trading in the suits and ties for red bottoms and chinchilla furs, Hustlers might just be the true heir to that throne. Its loud moments are riotously fun, its quiet ones are shockingly moving. In a better world, J.Lo would have won the Oscar for her endlessly-charismatic performance. [Ross Mcindoe]


Jordan Peele, 2022

Jordan Peele’s latest draws heavily on retro sci-fi and western tropes, but Hollywood’s most familiar genres become unnerving and unfamiliar through arresting, unnatural geometries and soundscapes. Setting numerous key scenes at night – masterfully lit by Hoyte van Hoytema – increases the uncanny juxtaposition of film tropes with sickeningly imaginative twists. Yet despite a tonal cynicism, the artistic button is Michael Abels’ score, which heroically revels in movie mythos. [Carmen Paddock]

Ocean’s Twelve

Steven Soderbergh, 2005

For this follow-up to his smash-hit heist thriller Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Soderbergh fused the slick mainstream glitz of the first film with the unbridled experimentation of his oddball meta-comedies Schizopolis (1996) and Full Frontal (2002). Yes, Ocean’s Twelve might be an entry into a major Hollywood franchise and feature some of the world’s bi est stars, but make no mistake – at its heart, it’s an audacious, postmodern marvel. [Alex Barrett]


Park Chan-wook, 2003

Park Chan-wook’s gnarliest tale of revenge boasts one of the greatest action set pieces in cinematic history. In a claustrophobic, sickly green-lit corridor, one single dude – Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) – fights off dozens of crowbar-wielding gangsters; the camera lurches horizontally across screen, weaving a viscerally beautiful tapestry of violence from left to right. The unforgettable corridor scene is currently on display at the V&A in London: Oldboy will always be famous.

[Xuanlin Tham]

Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toro, 2013

Pacific Rim owes itself to a thousand other films – and in some ways, this makes it the ultimate blockbuster. With direction from Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro, a multinational cast, and an aesthetic inspired as much by Japanese tokusatsu cinema as Hollywood action aesthetics, it’s a truly transnational piece of popular cinema that takes its artistry from all over the globe. [Zoe Crombie]

Pitch Black

David Twohy, 2000

Before the Riddick franchise got ridic’, there was Pitch Black. It’s hard to look back on this unblemished by its overblown sequels, but David Twohy’s film is a perfect ensemble-survival thriller. The fat-free plot sees a motley crew crash land on a planet where the sun keeps deadly nocturnal creatures at bay... just in time for a massive solar eclipse. The colour grading does most of the work, but this is how you do psychedelic visuals that actually serve the story. [Louis Cammell]


S. S. Rajamouli, 2022

The most expensive Indian film ever, RRR is a gargantuan tale of friendship, an anti-colonialist homoerotic-tinged bromance, with Bollywood musical dance set-pieces, and action sequences that would make John Wick weep. This story of two polar opposites turned joined-at-the-hip revolutionaries has a man throwing a flaming motorbike with his bare hands, the best God-sent glow-up in history, and a title card drop 40 minutes into the movie!!! [Tony Inglis]

School of Rock

Richard Linklater, 2004

Though ostensibly a mainstream comedy vehicle for actor and musician Jack Black, School of Rock bears all the hallmarks of Linklater’s best work: a gentle pace, a focus on character over plot, and an anti-authoritarian, stick-it-to-the-man, slacker aesthetic. The soundtrack genuinely rocks, and the script by Mike White, creator of The White Lotus, offers plenty of laughs. Warm, generous and inclusive, watching it feels like a hug.

[Alex Barrett]

Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Wright, 2004

That a loving, geeky homage to the horror blockbuster could become a blockbuster in itself is exactly the type of scrappy underdog story beloved by British cinema – and if you were making that movie, you wouldn’t find a better cast for it than this one. Plus, Shaun of the Dead still brings the thrills nearly 20 years on. Whatever happened to that Edgar Wright kid? He should make more films. [LC]

Shin Godzilla

Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi, 2016

Probably the finest Godzilla entry since the 1954 original, this is a surprisingly mature drama about urban disaster response and the failure of bureaucracies to react quickly to evolving catastrophes: a perfect updating of the atomic bomb metaphor in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Despite being made for less than a tenth of Gareth Edwards’ 2014 film, Shin Godzilla – with its visceral horror and knotty satire – towers above its slicker, sterile American cousin.

[Christopher Machell]


Bong Joon-ho, 2013

Through determination and clever fibbery, Bong Joon-ho ensured his cut of Snowpiercer made it to cinemas instead of Harvey Weinstein’s truncation. The result – an imaginative survival tale set on a train through a frozen world – is a huge boon to film fans. Each car reveals new gnarly horrors as a band of rebels progress through knives, fish, and hedonistic parties to bring down the train’s elite masters. [CP]

The Invisible Man

Leigh Whannell's, 2020

Leigh Whannel’s re-imagining of H.G. Wells’ classic horror tale takes the central idea of the story – a man who no-one else can see – and re-centres it around the person most likely to find that prospect terrifying: the woman trying to escape him. It’s a clever conceit, backed up by (yet) another devastatingly raw performance from Elisabeth Moss and Whannell’s sadistically precise direction. A perfectly engineered piece of horror cinema. [RM]


Andrew Stanton, 2008

WALL-E is one of the world’s most widely beloved animations, and it’s the universality of its visual language that truly makes it great. Blending cutting-edge CG visuals with a silent film sensibility that can be traced back to the earliest films ever made, the Pixar masterpiece remains both timely and timeless. [ZC]

— 31 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop Film THE SKINNY
Nope The Invisible Man Oldboy Booksmart

Prioritising Pleasure

Centring comfort in sex will always be crucial – especially when it comes to vaginismus. We discuss gender affirming experiences, pleasurable anal sex, and listening to our bodies

Words: Quinn Rhodes

By some people’s definition, I’ve never had sex. The cisheteropatriarchy – the misogynistic social structures that uphold the (incorrect) belief that everyone is cisgender and heterosexual – means that some define sex as solely penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex.

I have vaginismus, which is the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, making vaginal penetration painful or impossible. I’ve never been fingered by a partner or used a tampon, let alone had PIV sex.

Dr Annabel Sowemimo, a community sexual and reproductive health doctor and author of Divided: Racism, Medicine and Why We Need to Decolonise Healthcare, tells me that possible vaginismus tri ers include “previous trauma, negative experiences with [medical] examinations, having an episiotomy during childbirth, or gender dysphoria.” For me, it’s definitely the latter: I’ve always been terrified of my own body, and that fear and pain made much more sense when I realised I was trans.

When I had sex with another person for the first time, I was expecting it to hurt. I still thought I was a cis woman and every message that I had been given about what sex ‘should’ look like had told me that my sexual debut would be painful. Six months of learning about my body through solo sex beforehand had only confirmed this. Whenever I attempted to finger myself, something I thought I was ‘supposed’ to do during masturbation, it hurt too much to carry on. Even with my smallest finger; even when I was super turned on; even with lots of lube.

I went into my first partnered sex experience wanting my partner to penetrate my vagina despite the pain, because I thought the discomfort was normal. I feel lucky that I had a partner who didn’t force their fingers inside me when my face was screwed up in pain, even when I told them to keep going. I’m grateful that my sexual debut was with someone who listened to my body, even though I was prepared to ignore it. We all deserve partnered sex where we’re not pressured into doing things that hurt, where we’re not shamed for what our bodies can’t do.

But this isn’t everyone’s experience. There are multiple Reddit threads and forums where people with vaginismus ask whether they should do anal to “keep their boyfriends patient”, to “make up” for not being able to have PIV sex. Dr Sowemino says when people are finding vaginal penetration painful following childbirth, partners sometimes pressure them into anal penetration. She thinks it’s logical that this might be happening to people with vaginismus too, even though it’s not something she’s come across in her practice.

Of course, no one should have sex they don’t want to have just to please their partner. But as my own understanding of my body grew, I wondered whether anal sex would be any more pleasurable or comfortable than PIV sex. I figured that anal play might be psychologically hot but not physically enjoyable.

The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that go across the bottom of your pelvic bone. The urethra, the vagina, and the rectum pass through it, so it follows that vaginismus could also lead to discomfort during anal penetration. Dr Sowemino agrees: “Some of those pelvic floor muscles also contribute to the contraction of the anal sphincter, so if you’re getting that contraction during vaginal penetration, anal penetration may be more difficult as well.”

For someone who used to keep my underwear on during sex in case anything came close to my vagina, it’s not surprising that my vaginismus also affected anal penetration. However, anal isn’t necessarily painful for everyone with vaginismus. Jay*, who is 24 and trans-masculine non-binary, has explored anal play a bit – they find it a lot easier (and more fun) than vaginal penetration. For them, it’s not an alternative to PIV sex but something which they enjoy during solo sex.

Meanwhile Phoenix, who is 42, hadn’t explored anal sex much before his medical transition. He thinks his vaginismus was rooted in gender dysphoria, and the NHS-prescribed dilators didn’t help him. “What worked was a combination of testosterone making everything wetter and reducing dysphoria,” he says. While he can now enjoy some vaginal penetration with partners, he still prefers anal.

Eleven months on testosterone has changed my experiences too, albeit only of anal. Feeling more comfortable about my body and less dysphoric means I’m more relaxed during sex. I’ve discovered that not only is anal sex super gender-affirming for me, it also feels really good physically.

Just like the idea that people with vaginismus need to simply “relax and have a glass of wine”, it’s a myth that anal penetration cannot feel pleasurable for the person being penetrated. Anal sex might hurt because you’re not using enough lube, you haven’t warmed up enough and are going too fast, or because you have vaginismus. And if it hurts, you can stop. You don’t owe a partner any kind of penetration, especially not as compensation because they feel entitled to your body and to PIV sex.

I can have anal sex with vaginismus, but you shouldn’t unless you want to. You should have sex that feels good, sex that doesn’t hurt (unless you’re into that); sex that you and your partner(s) want to have – whether you have vaginismus or not.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

— 33 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Intersections
“You don’t owe a partner any kind of penetration, especially not as compensation because they feel entitled to your body”

Uneasy Acts

From slashed paintings to rescheduled snooker matches – methods of political resistance are always criticised. We have a look at condemned protests from our past and present to unpack the power of anger and discomfort in demanding change

Words: Rosie Priest Illustration: Megan Drysdale

Throughout history, protests have been the force behind exposing injustice, demanding accountability, and pushing life-saving social movements. In the early 20th century, the Suffragettes, also known as the Women’s Social and Political Union, attacked Churchill with a whip, set fire to post boxes on Parliament Street, slashed paintings to pieces and hid bombs in theatres in London, aiming to “make England and every department of English life insecure and unsafe”. Three years before the Stonewall Riots, in 1966, a cafeteria worker called the San Francisco police to arrest a customer for being a trans woman, who then threw coffee in the police officers’ faces. The LGBTQIA+ community came together in the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, leading to the creation of the vital Transsexual Counselling Unit in 1968, and Compton’s Transgender Cultural District decades later. Of course, these examples of protest and fighting have led to positive changes. And these examples are also embroiled in moments of violence driven by passion, anger, and hope.

Currently, however, there’s an increasing discourse against moments driven by passion, anger, and hope, when entwined with ongoing fights for liberation. Am I condoning violent actions? Absolutely not. Am I saying that the history of protest and its positive societal changes is peppered with violent, angry moments? Yes. As a Queer woman, I recognise that Queer liberation gained momentum because of riots and violence. When society was attempting to eliminate my Queer ancestors, those ancestors were bold and brave enough to stand up and fight.

But today, we see those seeking to eliminate marginalised folk undermine even peaceful protests with outcries of alleged a ression and

violence. In the murky depths of social media, the rhetoric becomes even more intense. I joined a recent protest outside my local library, which was hosting a meeting for a local anti-trans group; I felt an obligation to support my trans siblings and stand in solidarity with my community. I tweeted that evening: “Even the sky above #Portobello library today said #TransRightsAreHumanRights #PortobelloPride No TERFs on our turf,” with a photograph of the pink and blue sunset. The replies saw me called a c*nt and told to f*ck off, and that I absolutely could not be local to the area because Portobello was an area that did not accept trans people. Despite this online outpouring of vile hatred, it was the protest – a beautiful, gentle evening listening to young trans folks’ stories, singing songs with my older neighbours, and a lot of lovely dogs draped in Pride flags – that was painted as hostile in the press. Similarly, we only need to look at government attacks on the Black Panther’s Free Breakfast for Children programme in the 60s and 70s to remind ourselves that peaceful resistance is routinely criticised throughout history. Whether we’re fighting for the rights of trans people or Black communities, no matter how friendly and gentle our protest is, it’s condemned.

This ongoing delegitimisation of protest purports that any protest that seeks to amplify the voices of those being oppressed is either unnecessarily violent or cancel culture at work. When an anti-trans activist recently had soup thrown in her face, it was reported by a right-wing publication as a ‘shameless persecution… Shaming of a witch.’

Meanwhile, Just Stop Oil’s peaceful protest of throwing soup (soup is currently all the rage in protest) on a glass-protected Van Gogh painting was criticised for deterring public support for climate

justice movements. In April, the group brightened up the World Snooker Championships, emptying yellow powder on the table; it was, predictably, met with a similar response. But of course, protest is never comfortable. The history of protests tells us that. It is angry and it is messy. If it was comfortable it wouldn’t result in newspaper coverage, dialogue, or positive change. It wouldn’t be part of the fight against oppression and marginalisation.

Looking to France currently, where hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the streets to protest the pension age raising from 62 years to 64 years (alarmingly in the UK for someone my age it may be increasing from 67 years to 68 years), the scenes are empowering. From here on our grey little island, most of us don’t seem to be criticising these protests. It’s worth questioning why we’re more supportive of protest when it’s at a comfortable distance.

For those that sit on the fence when it comes to protests – whether home or away – I think there is a discomfort with anger. But like the author Mark Oshiro, for me anger is a gift when directed in the right direction. At seven years old, anger sparked me to paint my first protest sign, reading, “NO NUCLEAR”, held as I traipsed up and down an empty primary school while my friends visited a nuclear power plant. Anger pushed the Suffragettes, the Civil Rights movement, the Just Stop Oil protestors; anger fuelled some of the greatest music, art, and theatre. It is a privilege to not feel anger, and to simply step away from anger. Those of us whose anger isn’t so heavily policed, who can protest with relative ease – due to racial, financial, or able-bodied privilege – should do so.

Stay angry. Keep protesting. And remember to pack a tin of soup. You never know when you’ll need it.

— 34 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Intersections
“Protest is never comfortable. The history of protests tells us that”

Secret Measure

Ahead of releasing their second album – their first on Rock Action Records –Cloth’s Rachael and Paul Swinton talk us through Secret Measure track-by-track

Secret Measure

We wanted this to be a huge-sounding introduction to the record – bi er in scope than anything we’d done before. We were messing around with handclaps in the studio and Ali [Chant, producer] put a delay effect on the clapping we recorded – suddenly we had this amazing, propulsive rhythm that carried the whole song. In terms of its title, a lot of the record is about building resilience in trying times and we liked the concept of having your own private, healthy method of self-assurance; your own ‘secret measure’. It seemed a perfect title for the album. [Paul Swinton]


With Pigeon, we wanted to write a big, bold, infectious bop which still had some weird-sounding guitar work, as we like combining those things. The song came from a riff Rachael wrote which we both really loved and ultimately ended up becoming one of the defining tracks of the record. Lyrically, it’s about teaching yourself to try and be okay with the unknowns of the future, even if things seem uncertain and overwhelming in the present. [PS]

Never Know

This was a really fun one to build up and piece together in the studio. Like many of our songs, it’s quite sparse and minimal so we experimented with a tonne of eerie, atmospheric noises to accentuate that space even more. Ali had this amazing instrument called a waterphone which you fill with liquid and swirl about – it just made these incredible screechy, creepy noises which complemented the darkness of the track really nicely. [Rachael Swinton]


Lido is probably the most electronic track on the album. We’re huge fans of artists like Four Tet and Caribou so we wanted to approach the song in a way reminiscent of those influences

and create something quite dancey and melancholic. We were lucky to work with the amazing Jemima Coulter on this one and they laid down a really haunting Blue Nile-esque trumpet solo in the bridge which just took the track to the next level. [RS]


We were recording a session a couple of years back and Paul had tuned his guitar up for our song Old Bear which has a pretty strange tuning. We were messing around between takes when we realised that striking the guitar at certain harmonic points up the neck seemed to make these beautiful chiming noises. We immediately decided to make a riff out of it and that riff became the foundation of Ladder. [RS]


Ambulance was a real departure for us in songwriting terms. Normally, we spend a while honing and finessing parts but with Ambulance we wrote the whole thing in two days in Bristol between studio sessions. We worked with an amazing jazz drummer called Matt Brown on the album and one of our best memories from recording was really spontaneously throwing around ideas for drum grooves for Ambulance with him and Ali. It’s probably our favourite track from the record. [RS]


In keeping with the album’s theme of trying to discover ways you can pull yourself through pretty bleak times, Another is about trying to go a little easier on yourself and not overthink things. Everyone can be prone to fixating on upsetting situations but when you let that mindset get out of hand it can become debilitating and you end up feeling a bit frozen on a bad road. Another is a gentle reminder just to be kinder to yourself. [PS]


Drips was the song that first made us realise how exciting it is to collaborate with others creatively. We produced our first album ourselves so weren’t used to working with others on song arrangements. That all changed when we recorded Drips with Ali and he started putting our guitars through crazy filtering effects, adding drum machine and unusual percussion and generally taking the song to a completely unique place. That day in the studio was a special, eye-opening experience. [RS]

Money Plant

We wanted to really utilise synths on this record as so much of the music we love is electronic. Ali has a whole studio wall of beautiful analogue synths so we got stuck in and ended up using most of them. Two of our favourite moments in the record are on Money Plant – Rachael’s sparkling Stereolab-esque synth solo in the bridge and the huge, epic bass stabs in the outro (both courtesy of a lovely Korg MS-20). [PS]

Blue Space

Blue Space was the first song we wrote for Secret Measure. For ages it was an instrumental as we’d kind of fallen in love with how sparse and haunting it sounded with just two guitars. After adding vocals it did come alive as a song but we kept things stripped back with just piano/synth and floor tom to retain the intimacy we loved from our early phone-recordings. [PS]

— 35 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Music
Cloth play Monorail, Glasgow, 5 May; TRNSMT, Glasgow Green, 7 Jul Secret Measure is released on 5 May via Rock Action Words: Paul and Rachael Swinton Photo: Rosie Sco

Ancestral Meditations

Alberta Whittle’s create dangerously showcases a vital and visionary artist whose expansive and generous practice shines a light on some of the most urgent issues of our time

Words: Harvey Dimond

The vast central passageway of Modern One glimmers in a gradient of blues, greens and purples, as if a gentle wave has washed over the space, sparkling and effervescent. In this exhibition, the ocean – the Atlantic specifically – is everywhere. It swirls and ripples through the moving image works; it offers the cowrie shells that the artist uses to adorn many of her collages and sculptures; it bears witness in the artist’s performative and hypnotic digital collages.

Invocations of Mami Wata and other ancestral maritime beliefs surface across paintings, collages and films. The ocean also directs the audience to the long and entangled histories of this island that we find ourselves on, and the island of the artist’s birth – Barbados.

In this exhibition, more than ever before, Alberta Whittle invokes the place of her birth – the seawater; the lush, emerald vegetation of the island; the former plantations that haunt its landscape. The exhibition is deeply indebted to Bajan people and history – one of the rooms is a dedication to Kamau Brathwaite, the late Barbadian poet and academic who was a stalwart of cultural studies across the diaspora.

Brathwaite’s voice fills the space, which is painted

a pensive midnight blue, adorned with a delicate wall painting in white and an array of objects including snake plants and a calabash. It is, at once, a shrine and a sanctuary. The Arrivants, a poetic trilogy and perhaps his most iconic text, gives its name to a circular painting of a wild forest, embellished with a graceful swath of golden raffia. In another installation, a half-submerged chattel house, the artist laments the death of The Great Carew – also known as Neville Denis Blackman. The revered Bajan calypso singer died tragically in 1995, when his house, on the west coast of the island, was swept out to sea. The installation points to the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on communities of colour, and how five centuries of colonialism has irreversibly disrupted and altered Caribbean ecologies.

Throughout the exhibition, recurring motifs such as cowrie shells and diamonds point to histories of trade, enslavement and extraction, surfacing in many guises in Whittle’s paintings, sculptures and installations. In Entanglement is more than blood, which was shown as part of the artist’s commission for Scotland + Venice, a large tapestry sprawls across green iron gates, threaded with beads, cowrie shells and hair clips. The ominous sense here of incarceration and confinement is palpable – I am reminded of domestic security contraptions that are pulled across doors, often used in countries like South Africa, where particularly violent colonial histories have morphed into inequality and subsequent fears of violence. The solidity of the steel, however, contrasts beautifully with the fluidity of the tapestry and its delicate embellishments.

A critique of police and state violence, Lagareh – The Last Born forms the focal point of the exhibition, also restaged from Whittle’s representation of Scotland at last year’s Venice Biennale. It is perhaps Whittle’s most explicit and evocative statement on the violence of the British state, with the artist demanding that ‘Premature death at the hands of the government must end’.

In another scene, Dr Isatu Smith delivers a haunting monologue about the treatment of enslaved people on Bunce Island in Sierra Leone, touring a graveyard where enslaved Africans were buried without grave markers. Musician Kumba Kuyateh, performing in the Mandinka language, delivers an

elegiac praise song in an austere London courtroom in dedication to Sheku Bayoh, who was murdered by the police in Kirkcaldy in 2015.

The film explicitly connects the violence of the transatlantic slave trade with the murder of Bayoh and the continued violence exercised on Black bodies – and dispels the myth that antiBlack racism and police violence is an American and English problem. The film ends with a list of names of people of colour murdered by the police in the UK. Here, grief is at its rawest, and violence at its most close and cruel. But, as always with Whittle’s moving image works, there are moments of warmth and tenderness – time and space to breathe. In a particularly poignant scene, a queer couple – friends of the artist – discuss the upbringing they wish to provide for their children. This ethos of taking a breath, of finding rest and respite amidst difficult conversations, is one of the most distinctive and magnetic aspects of Whittle’s practice. It takes precedence in the set of visual, oral and textual languages that the artist has spent many years developing.

This conscious and compassionate way of working (which also includes close collaborations with a constellation of artists, musicians, writers who she describes as ‘accomplices’), encourages the audience to collaborate on how to combat the violence of police brutality, anti-Blackness and climate change. The audience becomes both witness and participant in Whittle’s work – and she urges her audience to work towards a solution to these issues. The title of the exhibition itself –borrowed from Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat – acts as a further invitation to conspire against the continued violence of colonialism.

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Photo: Patrick Jameson. Courtesy of the artist and The Modern Institute Taking a leap toward the ancestors (remembering G) Alberta Whittle

The phrase beautifully captures the collaborative and community-focused aspects of Whittle’s practice – seen, in just one example, in the hanging textile work produced with members of Project Esperanza, an Edinburgh-based organisation supporting women of African descent.

The exhibition is also an opportunity to see how Whittle’s decolonial visions take form in drawings, collages and paintings – many of which are being shown for the first time. In several works, such as Poised and ready to counter the hardhearted gaze of surveillance, we see the artist producing works that fuse painting and sculpture. The culturally-charged materials – which include Florida Water, rum, and a re-purposed British army jacket – are stitched together with a similiar intuition and sensibility as the moving image works. A series of new circular paintings, many of them set against swirling, hazy backdrops, relate to family stories, mythologies and dreamscapes. I ask Alberta about her differing processes of making, in regards to the paintings in the exhibition: “Initially I got back into painting during a very intensive working period in my moving image practice so the two forms of making feel very

intertwined. Often when I was editing, I needed to work with a different material to allow the moving image work to breathe. Now when I work on my paintings, it’s still about figuring out ideas but there’s often a very visceral feeling of release, especially since most ideas can come from my dreams or from half-forgotten memories.”

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the exhibition is the way that the artist makes herself vulnerable. In one of the rooms, visitors can literally walk in her footsteps, which are cast in a series of hypnotic and effervescent resin tiles and placed on the wall and the ground. In Palavar, a wall-based sculptural assemblage, conch shells and cast bronze tongues accompany a cow jaw bone, which the artist collected at the site of a former plantation where her ancestors had laboured. This proximity to these violent histories of colonialism and slavery – which, in the global north, is so often met with inertia and apathy (something the artist has coined “the luxury of amnesia”), is a fact of life for Black and racialised people living in the Caribbean and across the global south. I ask Alberta about this vulnerability, and why it felt necessary to open herself up to her

audience in such a generous way: “The idea of being vulnerable and again taking risks has felt more and more necessary as conditions of making and even surviving have grown increasingly challenging under the hostile environment. I’ve learned so much about staying vulnerable from friends, family, loved ones, my ancestors, my accomplices, and these lessons have often taken the form of storytelling.”

With striking vulnerability and an intentional and compassionate approach to making, Whittle has created the possibility for discussing some of the most vital and consequential concerns of our time, while also providing soothing opportunities to pause, rest and reflect. She has undeniably become a powerful advocate for a new generation of artists who want to critically examine the status quo of white supremacy, anti-Blackness and climate catastrophe.

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Alberta Whittle, create dangerously, National Galleries of Scotland (Modern One), Edinburgh, free, until 7 Jan 2024 Photo: Jaryd Niles-Morris. Courtesy of the artist and The Modern Institute Lagareh – The Last Born, Alberta Whittle
— 38 — THE SKINNY May 2023

Visions of a Life

With the Conservative government’s vicious anti-immigration policies continuing, a new exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers emphasises the importance of elevating marginalised voices through international collaboration

Uprooted Visions, the latest exhibition taking place across Edinburgh Printmakers’ two gallery spaces, is the result of a partnership between five European printmaking studios – in Scotland, Slovenia, Ireland, The Netherlands and Denmark. The show marks the culmination of a series of month-long residency programmes titled Studios of Sanctuary. Many of the artists used the residencies to produce new works reflecting on their experience of global conflicts (including those in Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine), migration and citizenship. While not all of the artists in the exhibition have lived experience of being refugees and asylum seekers, they all have lived experience of migrating to European countries. While for some of the artists the experience of displacement is very recent, others, such as Azad Karim and Zory Shahrokhi, have been developing their practice in their home countries for decades. The versatility and joy in experimentation with printmaking shines through in this exhibition and the breadth of lived experiences makes for an emotional and reflective viewing experience.

Edinburgh-based Shatha Altowai’s stunningly intricate etchings bear a sense of weight and burden. Titled Monument of Loss, they are bloodred in colour, their abstract figures formed of what appear to be numerical tallies of five that take on the form of surgical stitches. In one print from the series of three she is presenting, six figures contort, bearing the weight of oval forms – the way they are described with the red circle within makes it look like they are holding up babies. The works reflect on the ongoing civil war in Yemen, in which over 11,000 children have died or been left with serious injuries since 2015. The three works reflect on the loss of a child and the burden parents face in times of tumult and violence of conflict.

Like Altowai, Arafa and the Dirars’ richly textured screen and block-printed Our Scar also focuses on the horrors of conflict endured by the vulnerable, graphically depicting the influence of war on the human psyche. Their figures look out from the mise-en-scene, mournful and desperate, some in tears. Arafa Hassan Gouda heads this Hull-based artist collective, which brings together Arafa and her four children – Mayas, Ethar, Waieel and Akram Dirar. The family developed their skills in drawing, painting and poetry after fleeing the war in Sudan, living in refugee camps in Libya and Egypt before being resettled in the UK.

Meanwhile, Thaís Muniz’s transatlantic visions take the form of five flags, printed subtly on black chiffon, hung against the gallery windows. Titled New Atlantic Triangulations Flag, they are at once delicate and mournful, fluttering ever so slightly, bearing witness to life inside and

outside the gallery. Circling them initiates a different visual experience, revealing the shapes of each layer – the inverted triangles represent a desire for a matriarchal, progressive society, while the circles represent Ori (a symbol of inner intuition and strength in Yoruba belief systems). While national flags are purposefully striking and bold, Muniz’s flags are more ambigious, their form shifting depending on the lighting conditions and where the viewer is in the space. These flags represent different (and potentially murky) oceanic and landed territories, reflecting on Muniz’s identity as a Black Brazilian woman of West African descent living in Ireland.

Paria Goodarzi’s beautiful print Measuring the Distance synthesises etching, screenprint and embossing, and is a visual represention of a conversation between the artist and her mother both navigating the path to acquiring British citizenship. The multiple planes of the print, which reveal themselves hesitantly, emulate the elusive and purposefully difficult route to gaining settled status in the UK: a closer look at the work discloses delicately screenprinted extracts from travel documentations, barely visible in the background of the two figures.

Upstairs, in Edinburgh Printmakers’ second gallery space, Aqsa Arif’s folklore-inspired, sculptural work Sohni ki Rath, aur Sohni ka Din (Sohni’s Night and Sohni’s Day) is immediately striking. The ornate and intricate screenprint sits

within a colourful charpoy, a woven seat or bed found across South Asia. Inspired by the Pakistani folk stories of The Seven Queens of Sindh, Arif outlines a personal connection to the story of Sohni and Mehar, which tells the story of a woman who traverses a turbulent river each night to be with her lover, defying societal expectations of women. Ceyda Oskay’s installation also moves away from the two-dimensional in their installation. Their screenprinted garments are both hung on the wall and worn by a group of performers, who play an improvised musical set against the backdrop of what appears to be a boatyard. The setting of the boatyard reflects the re-packaging and re-working of motifs, materials and geographies that is so emblematic of Oskay’s practice. In this installation, for instance, her printed garments are embellished with motifs related to Irish history and culture, including Red Stettin wheat, a type of wheat that was gifted to Ireland by Ottoman aid ships during The Great Hunger of 1847.

With the omen of harsher and more extreme legislation as part of the Conservative government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, Uprooted Visions emphasises the importance of elevating marginalised voices through the power of international collaboration, but also celebrates the endurance of creativity in the face of conflict and displacement.

Uprooted Visions, Edinburgh Printmakers, until 2 Jul, free

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Photo: Alan Dimmick


In Return to Seoul, Cambodian-French filmmaker Davy Chou tells the story of a Korean adoptee travelling to her homeland. Chou explains how the idea initially sprang from a friend’s similar journey but eventually realised how personal the film was

Words: Xuanlin Tham

In 2011, Cambodian-French filmmaker Davy Chou found himself on an intercity bus in South Korea. His friend, a Korean adoptee who he’d met studying in Paris, had impulsively asked her biological father to meet her. She asked Chou, “Do you want to come with me?”

The director said yes. Ninety minutes later, he was face-to-face with his friend’s biological father and grandmother, bearing witness to a vignette of such strange and emotional turmoil that he was unable to forget it for years. “That moment of her facing them,” Chou recalls, “and the fact that although they wanted to communicate, they couldn’t – because of the barriers of culture, language, feeling and time. That powerlessness on both sides hit me hard. I thought of it constantly.” In 2017, he would begin to alchemise that moment into a film: the mercurial Return to Seoul

An adoption drama that shimmers with unease, never quite able to settle, Return to Seoul is opposed to the archetypal ‘journey to the roots’ story as a linear quest for self-discovery. Frédérique ‘Freddie’ Benoit, a 25-year-old French-raised Korean adoptee, arrives in Seoul high-strung with the tension of two opposing desires: to vehemently resist anyone’s attempt to define her by her Koreanness; and to figure out why she nevertheless finds herself irresistibly pulled into her foreign homeland.

“I was intuitively attracted to the possibility of offering a counter-narrative to those typical stories,” Chou says. Spanning eight years across multiple time jumps, Return to Seoul is a sawtooth portrait of a woman whose personhood becomes inseparable from constant attempts to reinvent it: an almost pathological avoidance of solidity or

stillness. Her hair changes, her clothes change, the jobs she takes on, the men she fucks. Yet still, she orbits around Seoul, both drawn to and repelled by the existence of her biological parents somewhere on the peninsula. “A character arriving at a comfort zone would feel disappointing, because it’s taking out the complexity of real-life experience,” Chou elaborates. “Only time leads us to understand multiple answers, multiple identities.”

Time is essential to Chou’s film, which repeatedly destabilises the audience with its non-linear structure. “I was excited about offering a different experience of how you feel about the time spent with the character,” says Chou. “[The film] unfolds with the surprise of having gaps in the narrative. It’s a bit risky, but I think that’s what cinema is.”

In writing Freddie’s story, Chou would arrive at some answers of his own. “At the beginning, I was blind enough not to see how personal this story was to me,” he shares. “I was asking myself that question of legitimacy: ‘Why do I make this story if it’s not mine?’ The moment I was ready to give up, something suddenly turned a light on: my god, that’s also my story in a way.” At the age of 25 – the same age as Freddie – Chou decided to go to Cambodia, where his parents were born. “I came with that self-assured overconfidence, like Freddie, being very certain of my identity,” he recalls. “I was taught to repeat: ‘I have the French culture, French education; in conclusion, I’m French’. Facing Cambodian people my age, they were very sceptical: saying, ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit more complex than that?’” Chou laughs. “It was brutal.”

The film’s twisty narrative is given flesh-andblood in an astonishing performance by first-time

actor Park Ji-min: impossible to tear your eyes away from as she leaves collateral damage everywhere in her wake. “I found Ji-min through a common friend,“ says Chou. “I had talked to him extensively about my film, and he said, ‘You should meet this girl. She’s not an adoptee, she’s not an actress. But somehow, everything you said about Freddie reminds me of her.’”

When he eventually met Park, Chou was struck by the feeling that he was already “in front of some kind of alter ego of Freddie”. Freddie became a chimera: the personality of Chou’s friend hybridised with Chou’s own experiences living between Paris and Phnom Penh, and then it sharpened thanks to Park’s challenges to the script. “Ji-min felt unsatisfied with many things [regarding] the portrayal of her experience as an Asian woman in France,” Chou says. “She rewrote the character design in terms of clothes, the precise nature of the relationships she has with male characters, female characters, and Asian characters. So if Freddie looks to be a bit special,” he smiles, “it’s the result of those multiple transformations.”

Weaving between French, Korean, and English, the film is also a fascinating exploration of translation – as not simply a linguistic process, but a constantly troubling negotiation of emotion. “Translation is a question of distance,” Chou says. “How do you find the right way to synchronise yourself?” Return to Seoul is an ode to seeking those moments of synchronisation, even if they never come so easily.

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Return to Seoul is released 5 May by MUBI
— 41 — THE SKINNY May 2023

Tick, Tick... Boom!

How to Blow Up a Pipeline might be the most important film of the year. It’s certainly the most thrilling. We speak to the director and editor behind this nailbiting eco-thriller that’s also a stunning political statement

Every once in a while a film comes along that seems mainlined into the zeitgeist. How to Blow Up a Pipeline, the blistering new work from director Daniel Goldhaber, is one such film. It’s a ticking time bomb thriller that speaks directly to our current moment where climate change is rapidly having devastating effects on our planet.

The story follows a group of incredibly good-looking young people drawn from all across America who have gathered in Texas to blow up a key oil pipeline. The film is adapted from Andreas Malm’s nonfiction book of the same name, which takes the form of a political manifesto that argues the next moral step in climate change activism must be industrial sabotage against the capitalist entities causing the climate crisis.

story duty by editor Daniel Garber, executive producer Jordan Sjol and producer and actor Ariela Barer. “I think the project, more than anything was born out of a political moment,” says Goldhaber when we meet him in Glasgow ahead of How to Blow Up a Pipeline’s UK premiere at the city’s film festival. “We were all coming out of a year of lockdown, and a year of feeling extremely politically, creatively and professionally powerless. We all wanted to make something but it had to be something that’s actually relevant. So this idea of taking a leftist manifesto and bringing it into the mainstream, now felt like it was a very appropriate moment to do that.”

An academic text isn’t the obvious source material for the most exciting film of the year, but Goldhaber’s ingenious adaptation has turned Malm’s political ideas into a breathless nailbiter that evokes myriad classic thrillers, from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point to HenriGeorges Clouzot’s Wages of Fear, while simultaneously feeling fresh and utterly of the moment. Appropriately for a film about collective action, the writing of How to Blow Up a Pipeline was very much a group effort, with Goldhaber joined on

It was Jordan Sjol who initially brought the leftfield source material to the table. “Jordan is an academic,” explains Goldhaber, “and he had always wanted to adapt an academic text into a film – I think half-jokingly, half-not.” Sjol initially recommended Malm’s book to Goldhaber and Barer as a reference for another project they were working on, but Goldhaber quickly realised it had more potential. “I started reading it and immediately had this image of some kids in the desert stru ling with a bomb,” he recalls. “It was just one of those lightning bolt moments.”

If we were to use one single word to describe How to Blow Up a Pipeline it would be urgent: in both its political message and its pacing. Partly to thank for the latter is the film’s ingenious structure, which intermittently pauses the nerve-shredding execution of the group’s sabotage to flashback to quieter moments revealing the individual circumstances that brought each character to take this radical action.

Editor Daniel Garber joins Goldhaber in Glasgow and reckons this breakneck pace was a

natural consequence of the film’s whirlwind production. “I do think that this is an example where everything that’s happening behind the scenes really affects the way that something comes across on screen,” he says. “I mean, it felt like pulling off a heist to actually make the film. It was incredibly quick from conception to delivery. I think Danny first talked to me about it about 18 months before we premiered the film.” The pacing Garber adopts in the edit also takes influence from his and his colleagues’ anxiety about the climate. “A lot of the sense of urgency that we feel around climate change and around taking some kind of meaningful action really translated into the sense of rhythm that the editing communicates,” he says. The result is the most exciting American film of the year. But as well as being a great night at the movies, How to Blow Up a Pipeline is also an energising piece of art. You walk out of the film vibrating, riled up, ready to make your own mark on the world. You might even wanna blow up a pipeline – so detailed is the execution of the plan in the film, you probably could. And this is exactly the feeling that Goldhaber is hoping to elicit. “The movie was absolutely conceptualised as a counterpoint to doomism,” he says.

Goldhaber points out that what often makes people feel so powerless regarding the climate crisis is that there is no one government, business, or system that we can focus our energy on because everyone participates in climate change, to some greater or lesser extent. But the genius of Malm’s manifesto – and by extension Goldhaber’s film – is that it gives us a target: the infrastructure; the machines that are killing us. “I think that’s empowering,” he says. “It’s important for me, even in the face of all of the inaction, even in the face of increasing extreme weather events and deaths and all of that, that we’re not apathetic. And if you do look at the historical record, by that standard, we haven’t even really started to fight. And I think it’s in that idea, that there’s still a sense of hope.”

How to Blow Up a Pipeline is in cinemas now. Listen to the full interview with Daniel Goldhaber and Daniel Garber on the Cineskinny, The Skinny’s film podcast, wherever you get your pods

— 43 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Film
“It felt like pulling off a heist to actually make the film”
Daniel Garber, editor
“The movie was absolutely conceptualised as a counterpoint to doomism”
Daniel Goldhaber, director

Connect to the Crowd

From cutting shapes on the dancefloor at Berghain, graduating to ripping the roof off Panorama Bar – Patrick Mason is now burning up dancefloors all over the world. We chat to him ahead of his Riverside debut in June

Words: Heléna Stanton

Patrick Mason, alongside a star-studded lineup for Riverside’s 10th Birthday, is playing Glasgow on 4 June. From the outset of our conversation, it’s clear the Berlin-based techno and house DJ intends to shake the industry up. Patrick is increasingly being recognised for his incredibly powerful sets, artistry and charismatic performances – he is arguably redefining what it means to be a DJ.

What’s usually expected from a DJ is quite simple: turning knobs, cuing songs on CDJs, fading in and out. However, Patrick Mason goes far beyond this normal expectation; he performs a live show with vocals while playing three decks, creating a narrative. Mason doesn’t want to be limited to the constraints of being a "hard techno

DJ", he tells how he’s "bored of that shit". Mason as a storyteller, describes how he chooses certain tracks to set the atmosphere and transition between tracks. “[Often] I’m starting very dubby, then can do something very different, like going into tribal, house, Detroit and breakbeat. I want to keep people on their toes, you know? I mean, electronic music has so many genres. Why would you limit yourself to one or the other genre? Ultimately, I am trying to constantly reinvent myself, and try to build a story around my universe that I’m trying to communicate to people on the dancefloor.”

Big energy within Mason's sets is one of the many reasons why he’s been a recent favourite of promoters and clubbers. This summer he plays a multitude of international festivals, including Belgium’s Extrema Outdoor – which will be a huge moment for the artist, potentially playing in front of up to 10,000 people. Often it’s such a personal question for artists, to ask what their preference is with intimate venues versus larger stages. Mason describes his connection to bi er crowds: “The connections in the crowd are different, usually there’s quite a significant distance between yourself and the crowd, so you don’t have facial expressions in front of you. However, you can do things on a larger scale, if you can connect with a crowd of that size. If you can connect to one person and make them move, then the entire crowd can move with that one person. It’s a beautiful task I hope to master this year, as big crowds haven’t been on my plate often so far.”

Understanding how Mason operates as

an artist, he tells how he’s amalgamated multiple mediums into his current form as a creator: “I am an artist that’s surrounded with all the tools that I’ve gathered over the past 33 years, assembling and forming them into the shape I need, and ultimately it’s an ever-changing shape. Producing is now my next new topic that’s on my plate. I’ve been in the studio with numerous producers recently. I’m dabbling with producers from R&B and the neosoul side. Trying to explore all the soundscapes that I have within me, that I want to communicate with the world.”

Mason is a clear advocate for change in the music industry, particularly the side that’s associated with ‘techno’. Mason believes that artists should stop gatekeeping, entering the industry with an “everyone for themselves approach… Instead [we should] be helping each other out to collaborate on things and create beauty together. The industry is becoming toxic. And I’m saying this coming from the fashion industry, so I KNOW. Techno wanting only to be underground is hypocritical, locking people out as they have a different approach, is the same shit in blue. We should be more open, we all want to inspire people with our music and make them move, we could all be artists if we’re authentic.”

The next couple of months look extremely full for the artist, including a 30-minute mini mix for the esteemed Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC Radio 6 in May – Mason teases how exciting it will be to curate a mix in such a short amount of time, showcasing his flare for multiple genres, and “broader range of sound I like to play”. He also mentions some artists who should be at everyone’s forefront, including Narciss, Estella Boersma, Toccororo, Spencer Parker, and Alex Wilcox.

Riverside Festival, Glasgow, 4 Jun

— 44 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Clubs
Photo: Simon Bay
“The industry is becoming toxic. And I’m saying this coming from the fashion industry, so I KNOW”
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Sound Systems

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s remarkable sophomore novel Small Worlds is an investigation into music as a structuring force, and as a space where its characters can find security and expression

Words: Tara Okeke

Illustration: Poan Pan

Not all pop songs are love songs. Not every major hit marshalls instrumentation, intonation and imagery to get you feeling keen and keenly feeling. That being said, very little else has the same potential to capture that tripwire sensation of falling in love as music does.

Annie Ernaux gets it: ‘In songs one remains locked in desire,’ she writes in her memoir, Exteriors

Caleb Azumah Nelson gets it, too. His debut novel, Open Water, grapples with what it means to be with someone – to be in love with someone, to be intimate with someone, to be honest with someone – and holds these meanings, whether complementary or counterfactual, in lyrical lockstep. The poetry of that preposition – with – lies not in its indexing of types of interaction or association, but in the way it speaks of proximity and posture. Azumah Nelson’s unnamed narrator – voiced in the second-person singular – is animated by his desires but, initially, a wariness to ‘breach a border’ in pursuit of his love interest.

Eventually, Azumah Nelson’s you becomes a we – the 300-odd miles between people collapsing into sighs akin to ‘percussive breaks’ – with all odds apparently slashed and all obstacles seemingly surmounted. This does not last, of course: the condition of Black life – as mapped through the narrator’s recollections, encounters and concerns – is one bound to the beat of existential threats that thrum through the city, of aches that redouble through the body, of apologies unsaid that leave you undone. It is taken, then, that truly being with and being true to someone else necessitates being able to be with and by oneself. The duet becomes a solo, but desire does not disappear.

In his second novel Small Worlds, Azumah Nelson builds upon this credo like a chorus supplanting the verse. Along with proximity and posture, place gains significance: ample attention is paid to Black British sound systems – those portable orchestras turned portals between home and the homeland – owing to their capacity for world-making and remaking

a hostile world. Concurrently, there is an examination of where the novel’s protagonist, Stephen – a young Black South Londoner with musical aspirations – might go to find, lose, and return to himself. Place, in essence, becomes an organising principle – a geographic arrangement, certainly, but an inducement and an albatross, too. Meanwhile, the kinds of love featured range from feelings for a best friend that ‘excite and terrif[y]’ – that tripwire sensation once again – to devotion to a community besieged by the intolerable effects of gentrification. These kinds of love are transportive yet also fundamentally tethered to place. And music, as it turns out, is both their lock and their key.

Azumah Nelson’s characters are ‘forever improvising’: they rouse the energy within the spaces in which they gather – tracks by J Dilla, D’Angelo, DJ Gregory et al are wheeled up, leaving the crowd electrified, ecstatic, exultant – then meditate on all that they love and long to hear. Occasionally, these meditations occupy silences, are su ested through internal monologues or are, simply, gestural. But when vocalised – when desire, undisappearing, is given a voice – these meditations undeniably resonate, reflecting the Black musical roots and some of the allied techniques of modern-day pop.

In the beginning, there was a cry and, subsequently, a reply. The religious dimensions of call and response – the antiphonal musical pattern that can be traced, in large part, to age-old subSaharan African ceremonial rites – are far from obscured in Open Water and Small Worlds. The latter even begins with a Black church service. However, Azumah Nelson also makes it known that Stephen is more likely to experience ‘something spiritual’ in the clammy palm of a moshpit than within striking distance of a pulpit. But praise be as praise is: even as Azumah Nelson shifts this technique away from its dogmatic origins and toward straight-ahead self-expression, both novels still take the promise of faith seriously. Small Worlds goes as far as to establish this in relation to place, proximity and posture: Stephen’s mother, Joy, attributes her deliverance from the gloom of ‘waiting’ and entrance into a fully-realised life – albeit one lived as a bridge between the UK and Ghana and, more often than not, loved ones at odds – to a faith ‘h[eld] close’ and to tears shed for want of reprieve. A cry in want of a reply.

In the end – after the novel’s litany of devastations reaches its crescendo – Azumah Nelson reveals Small Worlds to be, perhaps, closer to choreography than to musical composition. Parallel movements through time – choices made by a son mirroring those made earlier by a father – recur like steps in a routine. Other symmetries extend back to the novel’s overture-turned-refrain – ‘Since the one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing’ – which two-steps with Hanif Abdurraqib’s remixed essay collection A Little Devil in America. These references and round robin manoeuvres – reflections of techniques, such as sampling and looping, foundational to contemporary Black musical traditions – are an embrace. They confront, they consolidate, they comfort. Not all dances are driven by ardour. Sometimes relief, sought and secured, is enough.

Small Worlds is out on 11 May with Viking Books

— 47 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Books

A Long Time Coming

Award-winning comedian and mum of two Josie Long is now an author. She talks to us from half-way across the world about her debut book, Because I Don’t Know What You Mean and What You Don’t

Words: Louis Cammell

The book is a collection of snapshots that range from romantic to rousing, dystopian to hopeful, satirical to gut-wrenching. “What was cathartic was not having to write within the context of stand up. To be able to write sadness and to not have to undermine it or make it a joke. Or to be able to try to craft beautiful sentences? That’s such a joy…to write stories that are meditative and about these things that I’ve been thinking and feeling for years”.

“All of them are fiction but contain something that comes from my life, be it: How I felt about someone; what someone did to me; a person I know; err, an ex-boyfriend I wish to seek permanent revenge on [laughs]. As a stand-up, you’re saying: This is me, I did this, I went here. With fiction, even though it starts in fact, you might add to it, just to make it this thing, to enjoy the story and its richness. It’s just such a new thing to me and so wonderful. It’s been amazing to draw on my life, use the pain of it, the joy of it… A few of the stories are about people who aren’t quite able to understand what it is they’re doing and why until it’s too late. Or be honest with themselves. I think that’s going to be a lifelong thing for me.”

Long is elated to have created something with the potential for a long shelf-life, in contrast to her stand-up shows which are somewhat lost to time. Even if they’re recorded, “they’re just gone, they go… [Whereas] I do feel excited about the prospect that maybe in ten years people might read [these] and be talking about them,” she says.

Even though Josie Long has had a twentyodd-year-long career in the arts, she still finds it hard to believe that she has written a book. She studied English at Oxford, but stage success decided her trajectory early on.

“[...What You Don’t] had a really long genesis, even though I’ve only written the stories in the last couple of years. When I was at university I really thought, ‘This is what I’m going to do with my life. I’ll do comedy but I’ll also write sad short stories,” Long says.

But winning the BBC New Comedy Award at 17 and the Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe aged just 24, stand-up proved all-encompassing. She says, “I just found that I never quite had that space and time. So during the pandemic when I really couldn’t gig, I realised that I was allowed to cycle to the empty offices of Arts

Emergency, and that I could use that as a workspace. Otherwise we were locked down in our tiny, immiserating London flat.

“It sort of coincided with my ADHD diagnosis because I got there and yet I still couldn’t get anything fucking done. But luckily my very dear friend [novelist] Nikesh Shukla did a few sessions of mentoring to just build my confidence up and help me get started.”

Long’s diagnosis makes up a large part of her current stand-up tour show Re-enchantment, as does the birth of child number two; something from which she feels the work has benefitted. She tells us, “All of these stories are about people with a very intense emotional pitch. A couple I wrote when I was either heavily pregnant or I’d just had my second baby. And I really felt glad that I’d written them in that little manic, unusual time”.

But how does she feel instead about the fact that these stories are fixed, unchangeable from now on? “Well at the moment, I’m thrilled. But what I hope is that I can improve as a writer and come back to these and be like, ‘These are dogshit’. Because [right now] I think they’re the best I could possibly ever write.”

It’s clear the comedian, now author, is on cloud nine. Unprompted, she adds, “It’s just so incredibly exciting to have this thing out in the world. It is something that I’ve really, really put so much into and there’s a chance that people are going to fucking read it! It’s good, man.”

Because I Don’t Know What You Mean and What You Don’t is out 25 May via Canongate Books

Josie Long comes to Glasgow’s Aye Write Festival on Sun 21 May, Portobello Books @ Freemason’s Hall, Edinburgh on Mon 22 May and brings her tour show, Re-enchantment, to Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock, on Sat 3 Jun

— 48 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Comedy
Photo: Matt Crockett

Future Hope

Playwright Hannah Lavery and Director Natalie Ibu hope to inspire hope through action with a play for children and adults alike

Words: Rho Chung

At a time when our national rights to gather and protest are increasingly at risk, our livelihood, our joy, and our liberty seem constantly under threat. As theatre artists, it feels increasingly difficult – and increasingly urgent – to respond to an environment that resists depiction. I find myself asking what we can possibly do against such a strong tide. In Protest, a new collaboration by Fuel, Imaginate, Northern Stage and National Theatre of Scotland, playwright Hannah Lavery and director Natalie Ibu su est an active, hopeful answer to that question.

Protest follows three school-aged girls as they confront different forms of marginalisation. The production is targeted at children eight and up and their families. “I wanted to write a play that I could take my children to,” Lavery says, “That would engage me and provoke me, as well as my children.”

The production, Ibu says, has a manifold purpose: “One of the big priorities for me is finding ways for theatre to feel part of everyone’s lives every day. I think that we can be most successful with that by engaging young people and their families and inviting them into the theatre as early on as possible, so that it’s not then a conversion process when they’re adults – trying to persuade them that theatre, which has ignored them for decades, is now suddenly really important to them.”

Ibu speaks about the divide between “children’s theatre” and “grown-up theatre” – a distinction which, she continues, causes theatre to seem aloof, unattainable, to young people. With Protest, the all-female production team opens their doors to audiences at varying stages of life without judgement. But beyond getting audiences in the door, Ibu stresses the pertinence of the play’s content for viewers of all ages: “It feels really important – [amidst] the impending climate emergency, as we reckon with different forms of oppression, with Black Lives Matter, with patriarchy and misogyny – that we find ways to help people think about the world now, and the world that they want to live in, and the world that they can help be a part of shaping. And it feels like that is not a question that only adults can answer.”

Theatre, Ibu says, can be more than mere entertainment.

“It’s really important to us to find ways for people to feel like it’s an important place for them to work out things about their life and about the world that we live in,” she says.

The takeaway, Lavery says, should be more than just hope.

“It’s a play where they have small wins,” she says, “And they may not achieve everything, but those little things are where the hope lies.” Protest is about inspiring hope through action. Lavery says: “Young people are very aware of the world they are going to inherit and the world they live in. I want to write something that makes young people and their adults feel hopeful, like there’s something they can do.”

“We all think about the role that we can play in bringing about a just world,” Ibu says. Protest posits that “what can sometimes feel like those ‘adult’ challenges around the glass ceiling and patriarchy and misogyny don’t just start when you enter the working world. They don’t just start when you become an adult. It starts from the moment you are born.”

The lessons learned in Protest apply as strongly to adults as they do to children. It is a call for solidarity, not just within the world of the play, but across the theatre sector as a whole. It is a call, Ibu says, to “learn from the provocation” made by the three young protagonists – to “take the baton and apply it to the wider business of making the work.”

Lavery also stresses the importance of solidarity across movements. “Though the things that we have to face feel overwhelming, we can do things, even if they’re just little things in our own communities or our own friendship groups.” Every action, no matter how small, has a place in a more hopeful world. “That’s the kind of offering that felt worth writing about,” Lavery says, “And worth writing about for me now, as well as for me when I was eleven.”

Protest will visit eight venues throughout Scotland until 2 June, including a run at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival from 29-31 Jun

— 49 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Feature Theatre
Photo: Ali Wright, Studio Doug Protest

Album of the Month

Water From Your Eyes — Everyone’s Crushed

On their new album, Chicago’s Water From Your Eyes dare to su est experimental music can be funny. Everyone's Crushed is littered with oblique lyrics delivered with the dead-eyed sarcasm of a mumblecore comedy, while dirty guitars and brutalist sonic farts rip through your speakers. It’s thrilling to hear songs gussied up in the signifiers of ‘challenging music’ be so completely unserious.

Take 14, an example of Rachel Brown and Nate Amos’s downright trollish collaboration. Neoclassical plucked strings and ambient drone swell, while Brown’s voice is at its most classically beautiful. Their words though are a punchline: ‘I’m ready to throw you up’. On Barley, a pop song put through an industrial mixer, they ad-lib ‘shit’ in such a deadpan way you imagine they must need gaffer tape to stop their eyeballs from spinning like they’re in a slot machine.

On Out There, over thrumming bass and Balearic keys, Brown tosses around a jumble of vocabulary, like a child slicing up newspapers to paste and stick. ‘Track free mend three bend feed knee hands scram mud draft drag…’ they go on, creating their own monosyllabic rhythm. It’s an encapsulation of the album’s diffuse musical

approach, as different elements corrugate into something new.

It’s pleasingly hard to decipher if the band are at any point saying anything with any sincerity. When Brown drops the title phrase ‘Everyone’s crushed’, you’re certain nobody is. But then, on the same song, through repetition of surrealist language, a sense of profundity appears: ‘I’m with everyone I love and everything hurts / I’m in love with everyone and everything hurts / I’m with everyone I hurt and everything’s love / Loving everyone I’m with and everything hurts / Everybody is in love and every hurt gives / And with everything to love so everything goes’.

It happens on the final track too. But this time, Brown pulls the rug again just when you thought they were getting too introspective: ‘There are no happy endings, there are only things that happen… buy my product’.

The panoply of wrongfooting sounds continues: Open’s high frequency riffs hit like a migraine, and the denuded guitar of True Life asks: what if the production from Gwen Stefani’s What You Waiting For? was bent completely out of tune, stripped for parts, and anything remotely pleasant tossed away as junk? The duo says it’s all borne from unease. Their prescription is fuckery. [Tony

— 51 — THE SKINNY Album of the Month May 2023 — Review
Inglis] BC Camplight The Last Rotation of Earth Out 12 May via Bella Union Find reviews for the below albums online at Mandy, Indiana i’ve seen a way Out 19 May via Fire Talk Sleep Token Take Me Back to Eden Out 19 May via Spinefarm Released 26 May r Listen to: Barley, Out There, Open Mega Bog End of Everything Out 19 May via Mexican Summer

Westerman An Inbuilt Fault Partisan Records / Play

It Again Sam, 5 May rrrrr

Listen to: CSI: Petralona, Pilot Was a Dancer

Westerman’s second album is a reflection of fraught times.

Where Your Hero Is Not Dead and early singles embellished soft-rock’s melodic sheen to coat his feathery voice, An Inbuilt Fault has sharper edges. The cracked percussion and drone of opener Give hint at this, but the album’s themes reinforce the point. Idol; RE-run is more melodious but deals with the Capitol riots while I, Catallus. meditates on toxic masculinity and A Lens Turning is trapped in a loop of existential crises.

Pilot Was a Dancer sounds like The Verve with a more endearing singer but is concerned with a vague, dystopian future.

However, for the casual listener who fell in love with Westerman’s smooth, easygoing vibes on excellent songs like Confirmation, there are still plenty of lovely moments. CSI: Petralona is simpler and more personal, while Help Didn’t Help At All and I, Catallus. delve into yachtrock funk without falling foul of that genre’s schmaltz. An Inbuilt Fault is a natural progression in Westerman’s young career – a little more austere and timidly experimental. Like a similarly quiet revolutionary Amen Dunes, Westerman is carving out his own identity beyond his influences.

Cloth Secret Measure Rock Action, 5 May rrrrr

Listen to: Pigeon, Money Plant

Cloth have embraced new approaches in the creation of their anticipated second record. Formed of duo Rachael and Paul Swinton, changing their recording style and working with new faces brings a braver sense of musical direction to Secret Measure than their first LP. It never strays too far from the band’s distinctly understated sound – consequently some of the tracks feel a little samey. However, much like Cloth themselves, it’s within the subtleties of this record where the stand out features lie.

Rachael’s hushed, almost whispered vocals are enveloping; like gentle clouds of sea mist settling onto the shoreline. The lyrics may have all been written by Paul, but they’re undoubtedly imbued with Rachael’s own experiences through her delicate delivery. Tracks like Pigeon show the band at their most refined yet, brimming with dynamic arrangements. Never Know correlates by leaning into poppy tendencies. But it’s within the album’s varying textures where Cloth’s boldness shines. Neat layers of guitars, synthesisers and molecularlike rhythms intertwine in sync with one another, each a joy to unravel. A meditative body of work specked with spots of boldness, Secret Measure weaves new colours into Cloth’s musical fabric. [Jamie Wilde]

Lucy Liyou Dog Dreams (개꿈) American Dreams, 12 May rrrrr

Listen to: Dog Dreams (개꿈), April In Paris (봄), Fold The Horse (종이 접기)

The three tracks across Dog Dreams (개꿈) share a lot of the building blocks of the current wave of collaged ambient; the glistening synths, the field recordings, the delicate piano, but Liyou manages to invest a real feeling into them that allows it to surpass their contemporaries. The patient opening to the title track seems to accumulate various detritus, slight hiccups of found sound and loose electronics until it careens skywards with gorgeous organ. Fold The Horse (종이접기) on the other hand closes in a heavenly whirlwind of wordless vocals, flickering field recordings and chiming synth chords. Forgoing the text-to-speech that peppered their earlier work, Liyou foregrounds their own voice, erupting out of the songs at various junctures of high emotion. It’s a bracing tool, all bass rumbles and sparks of noise under quivering vocals. It works spectacularly well, particularly the plaintive wails at the end of the title track that give a tension to the record so many others around lack. It’s another strong record from Liyou, that sees them further experiment and push at their own boundaries, unveiling an ever more interesting artist with every release. [Joe Creely]

SBTRKT The Rat Road AWAL, 5 May rrrrr

Listen to: Demons, L.F.O.

SBTRKT’s now-iconic mask started as a way to put all focus on the music. With that anonymity, electronic producer Aaron Jerome could avoid any preconceptions people might have when looking at him. But surrounded by a strong gang of collaborators in Little Dragon, Jessie Ware and Sampha, it also led to a kind of voicelessness.

Six years since his last record, he’s far away from needing the mask. The Rat Road is a wondrous and playful musical sketchbook that takes the SBTRKT sonic blueprint and builds something lasting. He’s used his time away to explore. The Rat Road is unrestrained. It plays like a classic beat tape, albeit with refined, expensive-sounding production. It’s soaked in nocturnal UK dance sounds, wistful piano and a deep emotional pull.

There are plenty of great guest contributions, like his longtime collaborator Sampha and fresh talents like George Riley, who both nail their vocal contributions on single L.F.O. But all of these guests are characters in a well-directed whole. The scrappy organ interlude Rain Crush and the eerie human horror story Coppa are just as important. In doing so, it reveals the voice that was always there.

— 52 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review


Opening with the heavy sigh of Bruiseless – an expulsion of confusion around growing up – Arlo Parks simultaneously grieves the loss of the days when her ‘eyes were still wide’ and celebrates the bliss of true romance in her present life. Parks’ vocal tone is particularly clear and crisp across My Soft Machine, with her sharp S’s and C’s cutting through the laid-back lo-fi instrumental of Impurities like a hot knife through butter. The cool, cushiony bass of Devotion is also one to listen out for, laying down a spongy foundation for the crunchy Avril Lavigne-inspired guitars and catchy synth melody to dance upon in the final choruses.

There are no overt leaps or shifts in the development of Parks’ sound here, however there is something to be said of the unbridled confidence and general badassery she exudes on tracks like Weightless and Puppy. Parks also treats listeners to the undeniably beautiful Pegasus – a duet with queen of melancholy Phoebe Bridgers which serves up a delicate blend of their unique vocal identities. On My Soft Machine, introspective icon Arlo Parks practises an admirable gratitude for life in the face of some of its greatest challenges. [Jack Faulds]

Since forming in 2020, bar italia have released a steady stream of music. Throughout that time the group have ruthlessly preserved their anonymity; rarely granting interviews or sharing images of themselves online. However, that’s all about to change following the release of Tracey Denim, the band’s first release for Matador Records. The trio – composed of musician and artist Nina Cristante (aka NINA), Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton – combine the rough naivety of C86-era indie music with washed-out grunge guitars and shoegaze buildups to create an album of hypnagogic pop songs.

From the ghostly mid-tempo beauty of tracks like Missus Morality and my kiss era, to lead single Nurse!, bar italia demonstrate how to be complex and seductive, without ever feeling pretentious. Key to this is their overlapping vocals which meld vulnerable and intimate harmonies with overdriven guitars and languid basslines to create a sound that seems to exist in a liminal space between waking and sleeping. The air of mystery that once surrounded the band might have evaporated, but with songs like these bar italia were never going to stay a secret for long. [Patrick

Eyes of Others

Eyes of Others


On Eyes of Others, John Bryden embraces his self-confessed “postpub-couldn’t-get-in-the-club” style. Like memories from a night out, it’s a fug of ticking drum machines, acid basslines, dub-style synth stabs and warped delay. Rarely raising his voice above a mutter, Bryden breathes a jumble of swithering inner-monologues, tongue-in-cheek motivational maxims and self-deprecating confessions into your ear.

The spirit of Ivor Cutler hovers over this album in its playfulness and deadpan humour, but that doesn’t account for its abundance of brilliant musical moments. Opening track Once, Twice, Thrice blooms into life with an outstanding slo-mo synth hook that you’ll be singing for weeks after; New Hair New Me is a perversely uplifting anthem about repressing joy – full of ukuleles, hand-claps and synth brass melodies; Jargon Jones & Jones comfortably sits in a sleazy digidub groove as Bryden complains about being too old to go out anymore.

This album has been a long time in the making and, while Bryden may insinuate he’s past it, this feels like the work of someone who has spent years whittling his music down to create a genuine and original personal expression.

Aperture is a captivatingly atmospheric debut from Hannah Jadagu. As indie, bedroom pop, and shoegaze entwine, her softly powerful vocals guide us as her lyrics span dreamy reverie to longing; love to liminality. “The blanket of synths I use throughout helps me move between sensibilities”, says Jadagu.

Listen to: Say It Now, Warning

Uncertainties and angst are not just things to get through, but worthy of exploration and feeling in and of themselves. Here, Jadagu’s diary-like lyricism melds with creative instrumentation and a markedly indie sensibility to do just so. Standout track Warning Sign sees alternating piano riffs, crunchy guitar and drum beats peek out through synth-saturated haze as she introspectively laments: ‘Every time I get this far it always falls apart / Shouldn’t even try my luck / Maybe it’s not enough’.

Bringing a contemporary and fresh flair to age-old universal themes of love, loss and longing, it’s easy to imagine any song on this album transposed onto the soundtrack of a coming-of-age film. Understated but never dreary, on Aperture Jadagu invites us into her inner world with refreshing vulnerability – to feel as she feels, dream as she dreams, and ultimately, to hold hope at the end of it all.

— 53 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review Albums
Arlo Parks My Soft Machine Transgressive Records, 26 May rrrrr Listen to: Bruiseless, Devotion, Pegasus (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) Recordings, 19 May rrrrr Listen to: Once, Twice, Thrice, Safehouse, Jargon Jones & Jones bar italia Tracey Denim Matador, 19 May rrrrr to: punkt, best in show, yes i have eaten so many lemons yes i am so bitte Hannah Jadagu Aperture Sub Pop, 19 May rrrrr Sign, Dreaming

Music Now

Pop-punk, hardcore screamo, contemplative spoken-word, melancholic piano, hip-hop and more, it’s all happening in Scotland this month

Words: Tallah Brash

April was another busy month for releases, and we’ve found it hard to keep up. There were new albums from Withered Hand, Constant Follower and Jordan Stanley, and a brand new mixtape, LIFE WAS SHIT, IT STILL IS NOW, from Psweatpants. Singles, too, landed like they were going out of fashion. Highlights included NANI’s sublime Limbo, El Ghoul’s propulsive Head Song, the lilting Groovy Itch from Berta Kennedy, the gorgeous storytelling of Alice Faye’s Jamie, Sonotto’s comedic elastic breakfast bop The Dilemma, Neon Waltz’s anthemic Thoughts / Dreams / Regrets, Elisabeth Elektra’s 80s-tinged earworm The Dream, the bouncy swa er of AMUNDA’s Upside Down and newcomers neverfine have caught our attention with Silhouettes, straight out of the Italians Do It Better playbook.

This month, things aren’t slowing down. Earlier in the mag (p28) we speak to Comfort about new record What’s Bad Enough?, while on p35, Cloth’s Rachael and Paul Swinton talk us through their latest album, Secret Measure; read our full review of that on p52, before checking p53 for words on the exciting debut LP from Edinburgh’s Eyes of Others, ba y, trippy and acid-drenched in all the right places.

Ever wondered what it would sound like if The Futureheads, Devo and Blink-182 had triplets but they were Scottish? Well, imagine no more. On 19 May, Slime City enter the chat with their all-at-once familiar yet unfamiliar sound on Slime City Death Club. Opening with the gentle wash of the Windows XP startup sound, this Glasgow trio of Michaels quickly knock us for six with the punchy two-and-a-half-minute Last Generation Guaranteed To Die (In a Traditional Sense), perfectly setting the scene for the next 11 songs full of whoops, tongue-incheek takes, computer samples and more big riffs than should be legal.

Featuring classics like You and Everybody That You Love Will One Day Die, Dial-Up Internet’s The Purest Internet, I.D.S.T. and Glasgow Is a Shitehole, on new cuts, bold and brash existential pop-punk is still the order of the day. As the riffs continue, so too do the smirk-worthy song titles (see: Algorithm Is a Dancer and I Feel It Best When I Feel Nothing At All), while If I Eat Myself Will I Double In Size Or Disappear Completely offers some breathing space on the record, although leaves our brains a bit fried as one colleague su ests: “Wouldn’t we just be the same size, we’d just be inside out?” Um, maybe, idk?

More big riffs can be found this month on Moni Jitchell’s Unreal, with the comedy in this instance stopping at their name. This

hardcore screamo two-piece make a serious amount of good noise, the kind that hasn’t been heard in Glasgow since Bronto Skylift. Set for release on 24 May, syncopated beats, time signatures hard to get your head around, often unintelligible screeched vocals, double kickdrumming, and 12-string guitar shredding combine to make for a chaotic sludge of unreal brain soup. At some points it’s hard to believe this pair will make it to the end of each song in one piece, but fasten your seatbelt and trust you’re in good hands.

From rip-roaring shreds to the contemplative spoken word of Imogen Stirling’s Love The Sinner (5 May). Set atop a gorgeously intricate backdrop of music from producer Sarah Carton, Stirling tackles the seven deadly sins across its seven tracks, with characters Sloth, Envy and Greed etc helping to explore everything from political apathy and everyday mundanity to the complexities of feminism. ‘Wrath can’t understand why she’s angry all the time’, Stirling declares on the do that/don’t do that rage of Wraith. ‘Don’t take up space, take up space, be a boss bitch / Be a feminist, don’t be a feminist, don’t call yourself a feminist […] Go out alone, don’t go out alone / Don’t walk home alone, text me when you get home’.

While not an original concept, Love The Sinner is a commanding piece of work. However, the influence of Kae Tempest is easy to hear, to the point that some may find it distracting, but those willing to lean in will reap rewards aplenty in the perfect interplay between Carton’s considered and precise production and Stirling’s effortlessly paced and thoughtful social commentary.

On 1 May, North Atlantic Oscillation return with United Wire, a record hard to put into words. Playing right through with no breaks, it’s an affecting chameleonic patchwork of captivating compositions, glitchy sounds and gorgeous vocals, with the kind of melancholic piano lines and electronics Thom Yorke would be proud to call his own. ngl, we’re a bit in love with this.

Elsewhere, on 5 May Erland Cooper releases Folded Landscapes, further exploring his relationship with the environment, while Glasgow rapper P CASO releases Mise En Scene, a bouncy seven-track EP produced by Kalum. Later, Edinburgh indie outfit Swim School release Duality (25 May), Billy Got Waves completes his triumvirate with Rocket Boy 3/3 (26 May), featuring lots of lush production from S-Type, and Tzusan and Shogun release the collaborative Lead Wetsuit Schematics (30 May). Plus there are brand new singles from PLASTICINE, Nikhita and Carla J. Easton.

— 54 — THE SKINNY Local Music May 2023 –Review
Imogen Stirling Moni Jitchell Slime City Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic Image: courtesy of Moni Jitchell Photo: Chris Ho e
— 55 — THE SKINNY May 2023

Ordinary Notes

A profound rumination on knowledge, loss, Black American life and memory, Christina Sharpe’s masterful Ordinary Notes is structured across various thematic chapters, each grappling with a different definition of a ‘note’ – ‘to consider or study carefully’ or ‘to make, or have the effect of a note’ – examining the ways in which these work to punctuate our lives.

The book itself is written in short-form notes, creating a long-form non-linear narrative that meanders through various topics, crafting a sense of deep intimacy, as if we have been invited to freely roam through Sharpe’s personal observations and private memories. By placing precious and cherished memories of her mother alongside academic criticism of the African American canon, Sharpe offers an imaginative scholarly work that does not draw a hierarchy between the individual and collective experience.

Sharpe continually points out white violence as a continuous violent note which strikes through the lives of Black Americans. She is unflinching in her observations that, even in attempts at reconciliation, white violence merely reconstructs and bolsters itself. In one striking moment, Sharpe interrogates the function of museums dedicated to preserving the memory of slavery in America, lest the country forget its brutality or destructive legacy, arguing that these museums merely permanently situate Black people in a narrative of victimhood, cruelty and passivity. Sharpe questions what effect these museums would have if they were structured around the violence of white perpetrators, rather than the suffering of Black people. Sharpe’s writing is not intended to always sit comfortably, but is instead a note to her own memory, intertwined with an unforgettable collective narrative. [Laila Ghaffar]

Daunt Books, out now

Weak Teeth

Ellis’ life is falling apart. Her boyfriend of a decade has left her for a coworker and kicked her out of the flat they shared; she has no money or job security; her oblivious mother has plunged into a relationship with a younger man and her sister is angrier than ever. As if that isn’t enough, there is something wrong, again, with her ever-troublesome teeth.

Lynsey May’s debut taps into the voyeuristic pleasure of watching someone make all the wrong decisions, of witnessing – either with disbelief or recognition – another person’s attempt at coping with change and dysfunctional relationships. The extended metaphor hits the mark: like decaying teeth, trauma and mental illness also have deep unseen roots, and the consequences of leaving them unattended can be excruciatingly painful.

May has a keen eye for the manifestation of emotional complexity in all human interaction and a talent for dramatising it. Ellis’ anxiety, rage and paranoia jump out of the page with such vigour that it becomes almost easy to overlook the general flatness of the rest of the characters, who obediently serve the story but don’t do much more. Weak Teeth is compulsively readable, darkly funny, lighthearted and infuriating at times. It is an intimate look into the crumbling life of a woman as she rummages through the wreckage for the strength to bite back. [Venezia Castro]

This Is My Body, Given For You

Where her debut novel, Orpheus Builds a Girl, asked questions of bodily ownership and public spectacle after death, Heather Parry’s newest collection, This is My Body, Given For You, turns unflinchingly to the spectacle of the living body. A six-armed wrestler binds his additional appendages into submission; a woman earns a precarious living as a live gynaecological demonstration doll; a father in mourning kidnaps a boy with his stillborn son’s eyes; a nun poisons an abusive congregation by spiking their food with her bodily fluids.

The author’s voice guides the reader through 15 tales of warped corporeality, prefacing the eight sections with a direct address; these are your tragedies, these are your love stories, this is your happy ending. Despite the reassurance that the collection is structured for your comfort, this insistent narrator creates an unsettling sense of being observed as you wade through her words. Although the stories drip with a dark surrealness, Parry’s unsqueamish descriptions of bodily functions are decisively familiar, from clotted vaginal discharge to the dead weight of an arm devoid of blood. In the collection’s epigraph, Simone de Beauvoir asserts that the body is not a thing, it is a situation. Similarly, Parry presents the body as experiential; something to be suffered through, rebelled against, or escaped from altogether. [Paula Lacey] Haunt

A dead mother, a missing father, a searching child, a Highlands wilderness. With such a simple yet powerful set-up, Fray promises both mystery and melancholy. The surprise of Chris Carse Wilson’s beguiling debut, however, lies in the sheer weight of hallucinatory malevolence that lurks in its pages. An unnamed narrator arrives at an isolated cottage, tracing the steps of their father – missing since a grief-ridden confrontation. Inside, thousands of pieces of paper, fragmentary notes on the mother’s presence, strange experiments, and warnings of devilry. The child fears the worst for the father’s sanity; until new notes appear, with more urgent, personal warnings.

Wilson’s narrative, too, is made of fragments, interweaving the writings of father and child with a third, unnerving, voice. With this structure, Fray achingly captures the cruel rhythms of depression, and the circularities of grief; all trapped here in an unforgiving wilderness. We are immersed in a world of waterfall ‘scars’ and ‘laughing, scorning wind’ where ‘stones claw out of the ground’. When even the landscape begins to change and senses shift, the child must decide what they are willing to lose of themselves in their search for the missing. Written in secret 20-minute bursts over several years, this intriguing and unsettling debut pulses with the energy of dangerous patience and fractured time. [Jess Moody]

HarperNorth, out now

— 56 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review Books
Publishing, 11 May
Polygon, 4 May

Film of the Month — Full Time

Director: Éric Gravel

Starring: Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez, Cyril Gueï, Lucie Gallo, Irina Muluile, Geneviève Mnich


Released 26 May by Parkland

Entertainment Certificate TBC

F/ull Time opens in the half-light of the early morning, with the credits unfurling over the slumbering form of Julie (Laure Calamy). The camera is inches from her face and the only sound we hear is her heavy breathing as she snoozes through the final minutes before her alarm rings. Enjoy this moment of calm, because such peaceful interludes are few and far between in Éric Gravel’s nerve-jangling film.

From the moment Julie rises and starts her day, Gravel begins ratcheting up the tension. She has to get her two uncooperative children fed, dressed and out to the childminder before racing to catch the train to Paris, where she works as a chambermaid in a five-star hotel. All of this morning madness will be wearyingly familiar for countless single mothers, but Gravel shoots such quotidian scenes with an urgency that makes every action feel like a matter of life and death. The unstable handheld camerawork, a ressive jump-cuts and the constant presence of Irène Drésel’s propulsive score feels more influenced by Paul Greengrass and the Safdie brothers than is customary for a tale of everyday working-class life.

Gravel’s goal is to place us firmly in Julie’s shoes, and to make us feel her growing anxiety as she tries to navigate the various time and financial pressures that threaten to consume her. Julie’s ex has failed to send this month’s alimony, the bank keeps calling, her childminder wants to quit, the boiler doesn’t

work, she has a child’s birthday party to plan and pay for. A small beacon of hope on the horizon is the possibility of a new job in marketing, and a return to the career she left four years earlier, but how can she escape from the constant surveillance of her current employers to attend the interview? And how do you even make it from A to B on time when strikes have crippled the Parisian transport network?

The relentless accumulation of obstacles in a span of a few days can feel like a bit too much, but Full Time is potent and gripping as a portrait of how modern life squeezes us dry and pushes us to the edge, making us feel like we are just one slip away from complete disaster. The look of desperation in Julie’s eyes when she realises her job is in peril speaks volumes about how thin the thread is that keeps people afloat, and how easily an employer can cut you adrift. Anyone who has tensed up as they wait to see if a card payment goes through will surely recognise the anxiety that flickers across Laure Calamy’s face at the supermarket checkout; as this wonderfully empathetic actress demonstrated in Cécile Ducrocq’s Her Way (2021), she is adept at playing a woman stru ling to maintain equilibrium and momentum as life pulls her in multiple directions at once. For Julie, every day is both a marathon and a sprint, and like her, you find yourself yearning for respite as you watch Full Time, craving an opportunity to just breathe. [Philip Concannon]

— 57 — THE SKINNY Film of the Month May 2023 — Review

Scotland on Screen: James Price

Talented Glasgow filmmaker James Price is back with Dog Days, his soulful micro-drama about a young guy from Glasgow living rough on the streets of Dundee looking for a sliver of redemption. Price tells us about some of the films that influenced the show

Interview: Jamie Dunn

Filmography (selected): Dog Days (2023), Skint (2022), Infectious Nihilism and Small Metallic Pieces of Hope (2021), ZopaDiamonds Into Dust (2021), Spiral (2019), Boys Night (2019), Concrete & Flowers (2019), CHIBBED (2017), Dropping Off Michael (2015, writer)


We knew James Price was a formidable writer-director thanks to short films like Boys Night, his bittersweet drama in which a young teen escorts his drunk dad home on an odyssey across Glasgow after a wild night out, and Spiral, his spiky spin on Groundhog Day set in and around a council flat in Springburn. We didn’t quite realise, however, that his talents extended to turning the cheezy dance track Set You Free by N-Trance into a heartbreaking anthem. That’s just one of the magic tricks he pulls off in Dog Days, his hugely entertaining and deeply moving new BBC drama which will be released in two formats – a six-episode series, each running ten to 13-minutes, released on iPlayer, and a 60-minute film, which screened at Glasgow Film Festival in March and will be broadcast on BBC Scotland this summer.

The story follows Zoso (Conor McCarron), a young guy from Glasgow who’s down on his luck and sleeping rough in Dundee so he can be closer to his daughter, who’s recently moved to the city with her mother. Set over a week, the show follows Zoso on several adventures, which include becoming an accidental viral sensation while busking with a stolen guitar and beginning a tentative flirtation with Grace (Lois Chimimba), a young woman who teaches at the local college. He also spends a lot of time hanging out with various colourful characters who’re trying to make their way in hardscrabble Dundee.

It’s a cracking watch, reminiscent of the films of Peter Mullan, Alan Clarke and the early work of Martin Scorsese, but there’s also a streak of openhearted romanticism to Dog Days that su ests Nancy Meyers as much as Mean Streets. We sit down with Price to get the lowdown on a few more films that influenced Dog Days

Thief (Michael Mann, 1980)

“A big part of my love for Michael Mann is his visual aesthetic. It’s something that’s not done very often in Scotland. All my big conversations with funders here are about the themes and issues and stuff, and I’m always like, ‘OK, I’ll make you your sad, gritty movies but I want to inject them with a real American style’; I just want to make them more entertaining and more visually interesting.

“Cities in Scotland do look really cinematic, and I don’t think enough people have come close yet to capturing that. The only film I can think of recently is Alia Ghafar’s short SCUZZ Alia shot at a lot of places in Glasgow I wanted to shoot at – so I was raging, actually, when I saw it – but I thought she did an amazing job of making Glasgow look cinematic; I just think we need more of that here. We can tell local stories but we should aim to shoot them with a bit of flair, you know?”

Just a Boy’s Game (John Mackenzie, 1979)

“Just a Boy’s Game is a masterpiece. I think it might be the best film on Glasgow gang culture, and it’s really underrated. But what I love about it is it’s a Play for Today film so it’s from a time

when the BBC was really taking chances and being quite gutsy. That was something that I was passionate about trying to emulate with Dog Days. So like those Play for Today films, I was trying to push the envelope and make it as authentic and uncomfortable as possible, as well as being entertaining.

“Me and my director of photography, Gavin [Hopkins], really fought for an aspect ratio that’s not been shown on the BBC before. We had loads of wanky artistic reasons for using it, but my more immature reason is that it’s really close to the aspect ratio on Play for Today films like Scum and Just a Boy’s Game. I just loved the idea of having that feel from the jump. I love the stuff the BBC does now, of course – Guilt and all that – but given this was quite low budget they gave us a chance to think outside the box, and I wanted to go back to those Play to Today films, so Dog Days, in a way, is a total love letter to Just a Boy’s Game and its writer, Peter McDougall.”

The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Jacques Audiard, 2005)

“I think The Beat That My Heart Skipped is such a striking film, and I really love its central idea of a guy being caught between worlds. He’s caught up in all these dark, shady dealings and then at the same time, he’s an amazing musical artist who wants to escape this life through his music. I didn’t want to watch Audiard’s film on the run-up to Dog Days because I was scared it would influence me too much. But I remember it being in my head quite a lot, so I was definitely pinching stuff from it from memory.

“To be honest, if they ever let us make a follow-up to Dog Days, it would go even further into being similar to The Beat That My Heart Skips in terms of it following a guy who’s caught up in a cycle of revenge.”

For more films that influenced Dog Days, read the longer version at

Dog Days is streaming in episode form on BBC iPlayer and will be broadcast on BBC Scotland in feature form later in 2023

— 58 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review Scotland on Screen
Dog Days

Return to Seoul

Director: Davy Chou

Starring: Park Ji-min, Oh Kwangrok, Guka Han, Kim Sun-young rrrrr

Return to Seoul centres on Freddie (Park Ji-min) – a young woman born in South Korea but adopted as an infant and raised in France – who’s travelled to Seoul to seek out her biological parents. It’s a setup that initially appears to be a simple tale of self-discovery where our protagonist reconnects with her family and comes away with a fuller sense of who she is. But Davy Chou’s film is much thornier than that.

Freddie’s initial journey gives way to a series of returns, each one occurring at a different stage in her life and accompanied by a brand-new persona: now she’s a member of an edgy underground art scene, now a highpowered businesswoman, now a hardy lone traveller. No matter how much Freddie’s appearance might change,

Park’s commanding performance ensures that the character’s soul remains intact. Freddie can’t sit still, impelled to chase down a place where she belongs and also run from it.

She mocks Korean drinking customs and baulks at her biological father’s clumsy attempts to connect with her. She picks up friends and boyfriends along the way then cuts them loose on an impulse. She flies thousands of miles on a whim. She cries, year after year, when her biological mother refuses to make contact with her. Freddie is blunt, blithe and sometimes even consciously cruel. But thanks to Park’s captivating performance and the film’s own propulsive, whirling energy, we get swept up by her just as helplessly as every other Seoul resident she comes into contact with.

Released 5 May by MUBI; certificate 15

Plan 75

Director: Chie Hayakawa

Starring: Chieko Baisho, Hayato Isomura rrrrr

The opening of Chie Hayakawa’s debut feature – based on her 2018 short – evokes a real-life 2016 tragedy: the murder of 19 care home inhabitants and the injury of 26 more in Sagamihara, Japan, by a man who believed the residents a drain on society. In her alternate vision of present-day Japan, this scarcity mindset has been magnified to the extreme as the government launches Plan 75, a scheme encouraging the country’s elderly to end their lives to relieve the burden on the young. An easy life until this euthanasia and a hefty financial bonus to make your younger relatives’ lives easier sweeten the callous deal.

Asking your elderly to kill themselves feels extreme, and Plan 75 cannot wholly avoid emotional manipulation as it follows several interlocking

stories. However, Hayakawa’s script is sensitively judged, and its horrors are kept desaturated, unsensationalised, and largely out of frame in favour of the remarkably warm performances she elicits from her actors. These moments of light and levity are a poignant and effective foil to the chilling bureaucracy driving the plot.

Perhaps the insidiousness of the extremity portrayed is a wake-up call. In an almost throwaway scene, young men cheerfully test out dividing armrests to see which would best prevent the city’s homeless population from sleeping on park benches. The moment is startling but recognisable in hostile architecture worldwide. The best speculative fiction is fact taken to its extreme conclusion. In its pointed observation, Plan 75 echoes Cuarón’s Children of Men. One hopes it proves more warning than prophecy.

Released 12 May by Curzon; certificate 15

The Eight Mountains

Director: Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch

Starring: Luca Marinelli


The Eight Mountains is a soaring platonic romance following the ironclad bond between city boy Pietro and montanaro Bruno, who find common ground in the stillness of Grana, Piedmont, and its surrounding mountains. Pietro spends family holidays in Bruno’s secluded village, with the teens measuring each other up and soothing their peculiar lonelinesses. After losing touch and being drawn back to one another, these boys-turned-men – now played by Martin Eden’s Luca Marinelli as narrator Pietro and Alessandro Borghi as Bruno – rekindle their sturdy, no-nonsense and accepting connection.

Committed not to repeat the mistakes of their fathers and yet tragically bound to, the two protagonists handle their connection with

the utmost reverence, each not fully realising their place in the world lies in the friendship they forged many summers prior. Ruben Impens’ camera captures them chipping away at their silence in the dumbfounding vastness of the Alps, with the long pauses aptly filled by Daniel Norgren’s quiet folk ballads. Their relationship is a sacred land where there isn’t room for others. Absent dads, caring mothers, and feisty female figures are roughly sketched; peripheral characters who will never truly understand the rules of the boys’ game and those of their beloved alpine peaks. With a runtime that, at times, feels as long as an unforgiving winter, The Eight Mountains is occasionally weighed down by Marinelli’s voiceovers. Once you get to the other side, the promise of snow melting to reveal a fresh start proves to be well worth the wait. [Stefania

Released 12 May by Picturehouse; certificate 12A

The Blue Caftan

Director: Maryam Touzani

Starring: Saleh Bakri, Lubna Azabal rrrrr

With just two films under her belt, Moroccan director Maryam Touzani’s penchant for delving into the complexities of characters trapped in societal conventions is evident. Her latest, The Blue Caftan, is a poignant exploration of human emotions set within the confines of an oppressive society.

Through a powerful use of subtle glances and profound silences, Touzani convincingly portrays the repressed desire that Halim (a remarkable Saleh Bakri), a middleaged tailor, feels towards his young male apprentice, Youssef (Ayoub Missioui). While this repressed desire bubbles, Mina (a fantastic Lubna Azabal), Halim’s wife and fellow shop worker, is grappling with a serious illness. But despite Halim’s lack of desire towards Mina, their relationship is portrayed with unwavering

love and mutual respect.

Touzani adeptly balances both storylines, cleverly avoiding didactic speeches and instead creates a melancholic yet authentic portrayal of the injustices in Moroccan society, free from sentimentalism. While the film may not break new ground, it’s part of a well-intentioned body of queer cinema that seeks to combat intolerance.

With a keen eye for capturing emotion and skilful performances from the cast, Touzani approaches the subject matter with sensitivity and purpose, creating a film that is crafted with care that should appeal to a wide audience. The Blue Caftan serves as a compelling indication of Touzani’s talent and vision as a filmmaker, showcasing her humanity in tackling complex themes. With bolder storytelling and less conventional narratives in the future, Touzani could emerge as a major voice in African cinema. [Fernando García]

Released 5 May by New Wave; certificate 12A

— 59 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review
The Eight Mountains Return to Seoul The Blue Caftan Plan 75

Dream Gig

Stellar stand-up and online sensation Alasdair Beckett-King takes us to England’s Home of Mystery

Illustration: Jack Murphy

My best-ever gig was my first-ever gig. Frankly, it has been downhill since then.

OK, I’m exa erating. I have got a lot better at comedy over the years. The audiences have got a bit bi er and I have more than four jokes now (I have five). Nevertheless, the experience of writing comedy for the first time and having people actually laugh at it was unbeatable.

The gig was an open mic night in a pub, which is where most comedians start out. The world of comedy is so glamorous. Most gigs are one bad week away from being replaced with a meat raffle. I had written a five-minute set inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses

In retrospect, it doesn’t sound that funny.

I always wanted to do comedy. When I was 11, I told my dad I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. He implied, with his expression and demeanour, that he didn’t think I would be very funny. He also said that he didn’t think I would be very funny. And, to be fair, he was right. I was 11. Nothing funny had ever happened to me. I’d never eaten airline food. Self-service checkouts were yet to be invented.

So I forgot about my dream until many years later. It was Christmastime. I was staying in my parents’ house, lying awake in bed at night, unable to sleep. I had a sort of eureka moment. I realised I could take a series of short anecdotes about odd real-life encounters and string them together as if they all occurred to me on one long journey home.

Yes, I hear you cry, a bit like James Joyce’s Ulysses!

To my surprise – probably to your surprise – people genuinely laughed. It certainly wasn’t my most polished performance, but my first gig remains my favourite.

My dream gig would be a different matter altogether. Come with me, dear reader, to the Egyptian Hall: England’s Home of Mystery.

The Egyptian Hall could hardly have been less Egyptian. It was built in London’s Piccadilly in 1812. It hosted the arcane mysteries of the magician Maskelyne, the talking automaton of the enigmatic Professor Faber, and all manner of artistic and scientific wonders. It was a place where spiritualists and antispiritualists battled it out to see who could be most annoying.

I’ve dreamed of visiting the Egyptian Hall since I was a kid, from the moment I saw an old drawing of its Egyptian revival façade. But I can’t, because they knocked it down for flats in 1905.

Naturally, the compère for my dream gig would be Kermit the Frog. Mr the Frog is a gifted host and impresario, and he’s very good at thinking on his feet. (Or whatever he has down there.)

For the opener, I would choose one of the funniest doubleacts of all time: Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Screwball comedy movies like Bringing up Baby (1938) asked just one question: what if extremely beautiful people shouted at each other and climbed in and out of windows? The answer is: comedy gold.

I would go on in the middle, because there’s a lot less pressure there, and you can eat some chips in the second interval. But before that, I would have Margaret Thatcher doing an unpaid ten.

Back in 2013, the Telegraph theatre critic Dominic Cavendish revealed that he thought of Thatcher as “Britain’s first major female stand-up comedian”. The headline of the piece has since been changed to something marginally less embarrassing. Still, its craven, cringing stupidity has haunted me for a decade.

We will never know if Thatcher would have made a good comic. She very sadly died in 2013 instead of much earlier. But in my dream gig, I would get her on for the try-out spot and give her a chance to die one more time.

Finally: the headliner. This is an easy choice. It would have to be Roland the Farter, a 12th-century jester. Roland’s act was ‘one jump, one whistle and one fart’. And he must have been something special. He farted during the reign of Henry II and we are still talking about it today. To me, that is talent. I’d like to see Thatcher try it.

Alasdair Beckett-King: The Interdimensional ABK, at The Stand, Edinburgh, 17 May and The Stand, Glasgow, 18 May; 8.30pm, £15

@MisterABK on Twitter / @itsmisterabk on Instagram

— 60 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review Comedy


The new late-night spot from the team behind Heron, Skua is a whirlwind of great drinks, fiery flavours and incredibly goth interiors

Thu-Mon, 5.30pm-midnight

Skua is incredible. Apologies if you’ve heard this already, as it seems everyone’s been talking about the new place from the folk behind the freshly Michelinstarred Heron. Obviously, this doesn’t happen for every new restaurant that opens, and it’s worth acknowledging, before we start, the capital-R reasons for that. Perhaps it’s simple hypebeast behaviour by all of us – if everyone’s shouting about something, it must be good; the more shouting, the more good. Could be the power of reputation, or of catching onto a zeitgeist. Maybe, he whispered, it’s the secret power of having someone on hand who can email all the journalists in town at the same time.

With the mea culpa for following the herd out of the way, Skua is still incredible. Heron is Tomás Gormley and Sam Yorke’s airy, breezy fine dining spot by the Shore, and this is its goth, subterranean cousin lurking on St Stephen Street like the guy from the ‘Sickos’ meme. A jet-black basement that’s moody,

low-lit and incredibly warm when we visit, it is possibly the least ‘Stockbridge’ thing imaginable.

The drinks list is incredibly extensive and the team are impressively knowledgeable (more on that later), but it is also a bit intimidating so there are also a few handy shortcuts you can take. First up – get a boilermaker. At £6 for a beer and a bourbon to chase it, you’ll stru le to find a better deal anywhere else. Next, look at the board – the enormous wine list is mostly by the bottle, but a fair few of those bottles are open and available by the glass on any given day. We probably wouldn’t spend £40 on a bottle of the Saperavi – a fruity oaky red wine from Georgia – right out the gate, but offer us a glass for £7 and we’re on board. The cocktails are also a good place to go. Ask for any classic and you’ll be met with questions about what you actually like, and a drink that fits the bill. Alternatively, throw yourself on the mercy of a drink like tonight’s special, the Winter in the Andy’s (£9), which takes the unlikely trio of amaretto, mezcal and midori and turns it into a stone-cold banger. As for the food, this menu doesn’t muck about. It’s all protein and spice and heat, delicious little fiery chunks that can cut through, no matter where you end up on that drinks list. The trout pastrami (£6) brings a hefty aroma and some comical proportions, with big chunks of fish balanced on a tiny little rye bread crisp. With so much going on, the flavours collapse in on themselves a bit – imagine if a brass band all started their instruments at full volume simultaneously – but the combination is still pretty tasty. The broccoli (£5) is excellent; chargrilled, smeared with gochujang and topped with toasted peanuts, it feels like the brainchild of a pyromaniac barbecue chef told to ‘also put some veg together’. The pork larb (£7) brings a funky tartness which cuts through the heat, meat and herbs, while the koji chicken (£8) is basically a big gnarly meatball with a wildly gelatinous soy dip. Bream ceviche (£7) is a more refined step away from the smoky and spicy; it’s subtler but the freshness and zing make up the difference. Then there’s the fried chicken (£10). This stuff is wild – big juicy

chunks in a savoury, spicy and impressively crunchy carapace, topped with some outlandishly tangy fermented peach hot sauce. Get this chicken. Even if you just poke your head in the door for half an hour, ‘oh I saw this place in the paper, that guy was right it is black in here’, get the chicken. You will not regret it. The octopus (£15) doesn’t quite hit the same heights but it gets pretty close, all charred edges, fermented saltiness and big chunks of maitake mushroom thrown in. It is, as our notes say, a wild bit of business.

Equally wild is the sticky toffee pudding, the only dessert on the menu and rolling in at the low, low price of £3. At the risk of going all Old Man Yells At Cloud, you can’t get anything for £3 in these days of the cozzy livs. It’s not the bi est dessert in the world, but it is also (for an incredibly rich, miso-powered sugar bomb after a load of spicy food and a pic ‘n’ mix of drinks) the objectively correct amount, which is to say ‘a wee bit’.

Skua is, can’t stress this enough, incredible. It’s a super-cool little escape from the normal, a chance to feel like a cool kid in a late-night bar in New York or Barcelona, a place where you can get fantastic fried chicken at 11.15pm while the bar staff pull together a mezcal negroni (tastes like an Aperol ice lolly that’s been set on fire, five stars). Everyone is talking about Skua, but this time, you should absolutely believe the hype.

— 61 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Review Food
49 St Stephen St, EH3 5AH Words: Peter Simpson Photo: Stephen Lister Photo: Stephen Lister

The Joy of Impossible Things

Glasgow’s Soorin Shin explores the ambiguous border between the digital and the physical worlds, creating objects using 3D-printed recycled plastic that interrogate our relationship between technology and nature

Words: Stacey Hunter

In 2021 Soorin Shin founded Wobbly Digital, a 3D printing and digital art studio. As a graduate of Glasgow School of Art (Sculpture and Environmental Art) with a design background studying in Design Academy Eindhoven and Dongduk Women’s University in South Korea, Shin’s studio moves deftly between art and design. Shin’s practice is emblematic of the growing confidence amongst designers and artists to shrug off outdated demarcations and embrace the possibilities of creative freedom of expression.

“Freeing ourselves from categorised boxes, I believe we can let our creativity run further and wilder," says Shin. "WhenI started Wobbly Digital, I decided that regardless of a job title, what I want to do is make something that brings joy. Maybe I should start calling myself a professional joy-maker, a professional of making joyful things.”

Shin’s jewellery, vases and planters have an animalistic quality, like imaginary characters from space with highly distinctive forms and personalities.

“I believe the animalistic imagery comes from my approach to bring joy in my work. For me ‘joy’ is something playful, primitive, instinctive and never cold but warm. All of these qualities come to me as visually organic, soft-edged and tactile. I believe there is an inherent love and interest in nature in all

of us as children of Mother Earth. When I allow my inner free child to go wild, I feel like she goes back to the arms of Mother Earth, recreating shapes and forms from nature like coral, flowers and animals. The best moment in my making process is when I find myself smiling because I’m enjoying the pure creative flow of that very moment.”

The shapes in Shin’s earrings collection are inspired by historical Korean traditional craft techniques with the designer translating the knot tradition using a different medium – plant-based bioplastics – and applying her own unique aesthetic.

“I love that clash between tradition and future but also how perfect a marriage it is. It is impossible to make them without 3D modelling and 3D printing technology; and making knots by using 3D models like a thread is quite an uncommon practice.”

Her artworks are concerned with nature’s depiction in historical and cultural artefacts, especially those related to women, underpinned by Shin’s eco-feminist ideal.

“Driven by my eco-feminist motivation, I have progressively introduced more recycled plastic materials to my work, directing my artistic practice towards true sustainability.”

With 3D technology still in a relatively early stage within a design and art context, it has enormous potential to be developed and discovered by new audiences, something Shin is excited to be part of.

“I love 3D printing because it is a perfect mixture between physical craft and digital technology. I don’t need to choose one way or another – I can do both. Again – it is just like design and art. 3D printing communities are so open about sharing information and giving advice freely online. Sometimes it feels like I am a part of a cool cyberpunk movement, that this technology will liberate society from monopolising mass production to more individualistic and unique creativity.”

With such experimental work, are her clients and customers likely to be pioneers and explorers?

“Yes, I think they are people who are curious and open to new experiments. I feel like we are fellow travellers together, exploring something beyond time from the past to the future. The past resonates through shapes and concepts in my work, blending with a possible future emerging through its new material and practice.”

The feedback from both the design and art world has been that Shin’s sculptures and jewellery are authentic and highly original, something that they have never seen before.

“I think this is the most incredible compliment I could ever ask for! It makes me feel very happy and accomplished that my very genuine and honest way of making has been delivered to audiences through my work.”

Until now, Shin has grown the Wobbly Digital studio in a very organic way that allows her to respond to new ideas with immediacy on a day-today basis. Recently, she has formed a new approach, developing projects in a more structured, strategic and methodological way.

“I am strengthening the concept of Wobbly Digital and its branding to be more applicable in various aspects of design, craft and fine art industries. I am planning on presenting these new projects to a global audience, joining design weeks and art fairs such as Dutch Design Week and Milan Design Week next year.”

Soorin Shin will exhibit at the Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh this June and is a resident artist at the CCA Creative Lab Residencies in Glasgow beginning in January 2024 @wobbly_digital

— 62 — THE SKINNY May 2023 –Review Local Heroes
Dry Flower Photo: Soorin Shin
Under the Sea Photo: Soorin Shin
THE SKINNY May 2023 — 64 —

Glasgow Music

Tue 02 May



Heavy metal from the US.

SCOWL STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Punk from California.

Wed 03 May


KING TUT’S, 20:00–22:30

Indie from London.


SWG3 19:00–22:30

Electro pop from Slovenia.


CATHOUSE, 19:00–22:30

Stoner metal from the US.




Hardcore from Canada.

QUASI BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30

Indie rock from Portland.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Singer-songwriter from Southampton.

Thu 04 May



KING TUT’S, 20:00–22:30

Eclectic lineup.


SWG3 19:00–22:30

Folk pop from the UK.


SWG3 19:00–22:30

Hard rock from the US.


BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30

Psych pop from Norwich.



THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Rock from the UK.

Fri 05 May


KING TUT’S, 20:30–22:30

Alt rock from Brighton.


MONO, 21:00–22:30

Alt rock from Glasgow.


SWG3 18:00–22:30

Indie electronic from the UK.


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Indie from Scotland.



Rap from the UK.


Looking for something to do? Well you’re in the right place! Find listings below for the month ahead across Music, Clubs, Theatre, Comedy and Art in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. To find out how to submit listings, head to



Pop from LA.


Indie from Glasgow.


THE FLYING DUCK, 19:00–22:00

Folk from Glasgow.


Punk rock from Japan.


THE RUM SHACK, 19:30–22:30

Rock from the US.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Ska from New York.


ROOM 2 19:00–22:30

Heavy rock from Japan.

Sat 06 May


O2 ACADEMY GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Ska from London.


CATHOUSE, 18:30–22:30

Metal from Glasgow.


Folk rock from Australia.

UFFIE STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Rap from the US.


Garage from Melbourne.


Punk from Scotland.


Dream pop from New York.


ROOM 2, 19:00–22:30

Rock from Cardiff.

Sun 07 May


Alternative from Australia.


Alt rock from Canada.


Indie folk from the US.


Folk from Ireland.


Country from the US.


Indie from Edinburgh.

Mon 08 May


SWG3 19:00–22:30

Pop from the US.


SWG3 19:00–22:30

Indie rock from Oxford.



GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Rock from the UK.

Tue 09 May


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Hip-hop from the UK.

KARPE ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30

Rap from Norway.


Alt indie from Canada.

Wed 10 May


KING TUT’S, 20:00–22:30

Pop from the UK.


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Metalcore from Texas.


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Grime from the UK.


Post-hardcore from California.


Alt indie from London.

BIG BRAVE STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Rock from Canada.

LANKUM ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30

Trad from Ireland.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Rock from Kyiv.

Thu 11 May

THE MEFFS KING TUT’S, 20:00–22:30

Rock from the UK.


Post-punk from Melbourne.



Hard rock from the US.



Shoegaze metal from Aarhus.


Psych from Brighton.


Electronica from Scotland.


PRESENT NEXT STEP THE RUM SHACK, 19:30–22:30 Eclectic lineup.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Folk from Glasgow.

Fri 12 May


Indie soul from Edinburgh.


Blues from South Africa.


Alt rock from Glasgow. THE LANGAN BAND ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30 Trad from Scotland.


Singer-songwriter from Glasgow.

Sat 13 May



KING TUT’S, 20:30–22:30

Folk from the UK.

COMPLETE SWG3, 19:00–22:30 Rap from Australia.



Metal from Brighton.


Punk rock from California.


Indie from Glasgow.


BARROWLANDS, 19:00–22:30

Hip-hop from Northern Ireland.


SAVAGE STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Pop from Canada.


Punk from Glasgow.


THE OVO HYDRO, 18:30–22:30

Rap from the US.

Sun 14 May


ORAN MOR, 19:00–22:30

Blues from the US.


O2 ACADEMY GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Rock from California.



KING TUT’S, 20:30–22:30

Pop from India.


NICE ‘N’ SLEAZY, 19:30–22:30

Noise rock from New York.


BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30

Indie rock from Washington.





Celtic soul from Scotland.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Post-rock from London.

Mon 15 May


ORAN MOR, 19:00–22:30

Alt rock from the UK.


O2 ACADEMY GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Rock from New York.


KING TUT’S, 20:00–22:30

Alt indie from Canada.


MONO, 20:00–22:30

Post-punk from Atlanta.

RØRY SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Alt pop from the UK.



Soul pop from Scotland.

Tue 16 May


MONO, 20:00–22:30

Americana from the UK.


Indie rock from Canada.

C.O.F.F.I.N STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Rock from Sydney.



GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Country from the US.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Rock from Belfast.

Wed 17 May



Pop from Poland.


Pop from Oregon.


THE FLYING DUCK, 19:00–22:00

Alt psych from Brooklyn.

Thu 18 May


Hip-hop from New York.


Indie rock from Manchester.


BARROWLANDS, 19:00–22:30

Rock from Scotland.

SKEGSS ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30

Surf rock from Australia.


Indie pop from Texas.

Fri 19 May


Jazz from Seattle.



Alt rock from Scotland.


Riff rock from the UK.


Indie from Leeds.


Folk from Glasgow.



Punk rock from California. SLIME CITY (CASUAL WORKER) ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30

Noise pop from Glasgow. RESA SAFFA PARK + GUS HARROWER + TOMMY MCGUIRE ROOM 2 19:00–22:30

Eclectic lineup.

Sat 20 May


Punk jazz from Brighton. BC CAMPLIGHT MONO, 21:00–22:30

Singer-songwriter from the US. WHEN RIVERS MEET THE GARAGE GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Blues rock from the UK.



Country from Glasgow. THE PRIMITIVES BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30

Indie pop from Coventry, THE CHATS BARROWLANDS, 19:00–22:30

Punk rock from Australia. THE LITTLE KICKS STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Indie rock from Aberdeen. HOTHOUSE FLOWERS ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30

Rock from Dublin. M(H)AOL (BRAT COVEN)

THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Punk from Ireland.

Sun 21 May


Indie rock from Brighton.


Folk from Norway.


ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30

Hip-hop from Atlanta.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Post-punk in France.

MALACHY + BARTEK DABROWSKI ROOM 2 19:00–22:30 Eclectic lineup.

Mon 22 May


Alt-country from LA.


Country pop from Manchester.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Alt rock from Reading. LOOP ROOM 2, 19:00–22:30 Rock from the UK.

Tue 23 May


Rock from Dublin.



Composers from Scotland.


Singer-songwriter from the US.

Wed 24 May


O2 ACADEMY GLASGOW, 19:00–22:30

Rap from Bradford. FLOGGING MOLLY SWG3 19:00–22:30

Celtic punk from the US. THE RANGE SWG3 19:00–22:30

Electronica from the US.



Singer-songwriter from Glasgow.

LAKES BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30

Indie rock from the US.

A.A. WILLIAMS STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Folk metal from London.


Singer-songwriter from the UK.

Thu 25 May


KING TUT’S, 20:30–22:30

Indie rock from the UK.


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Punk from Ireland.

GOGOL BORDELLO SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Punk from New York.


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Electro pop from the US.



Pop rock from New Zealand.

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS (COME) BROADCAST, 19:30–22:30 Rock from New York.


Electronica from London.

DESTROY BOYS ST LUKE’S, 19:30–22:30 Punk rock from Sacramento.

Fri 26 May

EVERETTE ORAN MOR, 19:00–22:30

Country rock from Kentucky.


Singer-songwriter from Nashville.



Rock from the UK.



Shoegaze from Brighton.



Punk from Glasgow.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Folk jazz from Palestine.

DADDY LONG LEGS ROOM 2, 19:00–22:30

Punk rock from New York.

Sat 27 May


SWG3 19:00–22:30

Eclectic lineup.



CATHOUSE, 19:00–22:30

Blues rock from the UK.


BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30 Dub from the Canary Islands.



STEREO, 19:00–22:30

Psych rock from Glasgow.



THE FLYING DUCK, 19:00–22:00

Indie rock from Cumbria.


THE HUG AND PINT, 19:30–22:30

Punk blues from the UK.

Sun 28 May


SWG3, 19:00–22:30

Indie rock from Wigan.



Alt electronica from Ireland.


BROADCAST, 19:00–22:30 Punk from Glasgow.

— 65 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Listings

Wed 24 May

FLIPSIDE ALL NIGHT LONG LA CHEETAH CLUB, 23:00–03:00 Bass and garage.

Thu 25 May


Fri 26 May


Experimental club. CÉLESTE THE BERKELEY SUITE, 23:00–03:00 House.

Sat 27 May

KEARNAGE SWG3, 22:00–03:00


Bass and queer club.


Edinburgh Clubs

Tue 02 May

LF SYSTEM SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 House from Edinburgh.

Thu 04 May


Edits and EDM.


Fri 05 May DES WAS A BOWIE FAN WEE RED BAR, 23:00–03:00

Indie pop and post-punk.


Experimental techno from Paris.




Dance and electronica.

Sat 06 May

MJÖLK WEE RED BAR, 23:00–03:00

Indie pop from Sweden.

Regular Edinburgh club nights





Edinburgh and Glasgowstraddling night, with a powerhouse of local residents joined by a selection of guest talent.



Regular Saturday night at Cab Vol, with residents and occasional special guests.

Sneaky Pete’s



B-SIDE/CHAOS IN THE COSMOS/TAIS-TOI House and techno dunts from some of Edinburgh's best young teams.


POPULAR MUSIC DJs playing music by bands to make you dance: Grace Jones to Neu!, Parquet Courts to Brian Eno, The Clash to Janelle Monáe.



Heaters presents weekly local crew showdowns, purveying the multifarious mischief that characterises Sneaks' midweek party haven.



Resident DJs with an eclectic, global outlook FRIDAYS (SECOND OF THE MONTH)


A night for queer people and their friends.



Monthly no-holds-barred, down-and-dirty disco.



SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00

Breakcore from Ireland.


LA BELLE ANGELE, 23:00–03:00



House and breaks.

Sun 07 May



THE BONGO CLUB, 22:00–03:00

Drum ‘n’ bass and jungle.

Thu 11 May




House and techno.


SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00

Garage from Bristol.


LA BELLE ANGELE, 23:00–03:00


Fri 12 May


Hip-hop and R’n’B. SUPERSTAR FISHBAR THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Electronica.


THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00

Dubstep and experimental.

Sat 13 May



Deep house.


SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00

Techno from London.



CLUB NACHT THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Electronica.

PARABELLVM THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Underground.

LIQUID FUNKTION THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Drum ‘n’ bass.

Thu 18 May




SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 House.

Fri 19 May

COSMICO WEE RED BAR, 23:00–03:00 House and italo.



Weekly Sunday session showcasing the very best of heavy-hitting local talent with some extra special guests.

The Liquid Room


Monthly party night celebrating the best in soul, disco, rock and pop with music from the 70s, 80s, 90s and current bangers.

The Hive MONDAYS MIXED UP MONDAY Monday-brightening mix of Hip-hop, R'n'B and chart classics, with requests in the back room.

TUESDAYS TRASH TUESDAY Alternative Tuesday anthems cherry picked from genres of rock, indie, punk, retro and more.

WEDNESDAYS COOKIE WEDNESDAY 90s and 00s cheesy pop and modern chart anthems.

THURSDAYS HI-SOCIETY THURSDAY Student anthems and bangerz.


Yer all-new Friday at Hive. Cheap entry, inevitably danceable, and noveltystuffed. Perrrfect.


Saturday mix of chart and dance, with retro 80s classics thrown in for good measure.


Two rooms of all the chart, cheese and indie-pop you can think of/handle on a Sunday.




THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Rave.

Sat 27 May



THE MASH HOUSE, 21:00–03:00

Trance and house.

Sun 28 May


SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 Bass and breaks.

Mon 29 May TAIS-TOI

SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 Techno.

Dundee Clubs

Fri 05 May


Trance and techno. THE SMALL TOWN CLUB & DEE BOOGS PRESENT NICKODEMUS KINGS, 23:00–03:00 House and afrobeat.

Sat 06 May

Regular Glasgow comedy nights

Drygate Brewing Co.



A new material comedy night hosted by Chris Thorburn.

The Stand



Host Billy Kirkwood and guests act entirely on your suggestions.


Legendary new material night with up to eight acts.


The big weekend show with four comedians.


The big weekend show with four comedians.


The perfect way to end the working week, with four superb stand-up comedians.



An evening of awardwinning comedy, with four superb stand-up comedians that will keep you laughing until Monday.

Regular Edinburgh comedy nights

The Stand


Mondays RED RAW, 20:30

Legendary new material night with up to 8 acts.


The Stand’s very own Stu &; Garry’s make comedy cold from suggestions.

Fridays THE FRIDAY SHOW, 21:00

The big weekend show with four comedians.

Subway Cowgate


Blow the cobwebs off the week with a weekly Monday night party with some of Scotland’s biggest and best drag queens.


Throwback Tuesdays with non-stop 80s, 90s, 00s tunes.


Hip-hop and R'n'B grooves from regulars DJ Beef and DJ Cherry.


More classic Hip-hop and R'n'B dance tunes for the almost end of the week.


Chart-topping tunes perfect for an irresistible sing and dance-along.


The drinks are easy and the pop is heavy.


Sunday Service

Atone for the week before and the week ahead with non-stop dancing.


A weekly techno extravaganza.



Joyous global club sounds: think Afrobeat, Latin and Arabic dancehall on repeat.



The best techno DJs sit alongside The Mash House resident Darrell Pulse.


Sat 20 May

CODE RED WEE RED BAR, 23:00–03:00 Drum ‘n’ bass.

PROSUMER + FRIENDS: HEYDAY SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 Queer house. DECADE LA BELLE ANGELE, 23:00–03:00 Pop and punk.

RMN.BTS 008 THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 House.

DILF THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Art and dance.

Mon 22 May STAND B-SIDE MEMPHIS LK SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 Rave from Melbourne.

Wed 24 May

NUTS THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Techno.

Thu 25 May


LOVERS SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 Disco.


THE MASH HOUSE, 23:00–03:00 Hard dance.

Fri 26 May

LIONOIL SNEAKY PETE’S, 23:00–03:00 House.

SLAM (SOMA) DJ SET KINGS, 23:00–03:00 Techno.

Fri 12 May


Sat 13 May


Fri 26 May

AROOP ROY X DICKY TRISC KINGS, 23:00–03:00 Disco and afrobeat.

Sat 27 May

PPL PRESENTS TAISTOI CHURCH, 23:00–03:00 Techno and electro. JUTE CITY JAM + STATE OF SATTA KINGS, 23:00–03:00 Techno.

Glasgow Comedy

The Stand Glasgow CHRIS FORBES: WORK IN PROGRESS 7 MAY, 8:30PM-10:00PM Multi award-winning comedian Chris Forbes, presents a brand new work in progress.


A brilliantly sharp live performer and one of the most exciting acts on the UK scene.


28 MAY, 4:00PM –


A fast-moving, shiny new spoken word cabaret. Featuring the best poets from across the UK and beyond joining with guest comedians and musicians.


A slightly earlier performance of the big weekend show with four comedians.

Saturdays THE SATURDAY SHOW, 20:30

The big weekend show with four comedians.

Monkey Barrel

Second and third Tuesday of every month THE EDINBURGH REVUE, 19:00

The University of Edinburgh's Comedy Society, who put on sketch and stand-up comedy shows every two weeks.

Wednesdays TOP BANANA, 19:00

Catch the stars of tomorrow today in Monkey Barrel's new act night every Wednesday.

Thursdays SNEAK PEAK, 19:00 + 21:00

Four acts every Thursday take to the stage to try out new material.


Monkey Barrel's flagship night of premier stand-up comedy.

Fridays DATING CRAPP, 22:00

Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Farmers Only...Come and laugh as some of Scotland's best improvisers join forces to perform based off two audience members dating profiles.


Monkey Barrel's flagship night of premier stand-up comedy.


Monkey Barrel's flagship night of premier stand-up comedy.


The heart-stopping, glasses-dropping, hardrocking, wig-shaking, levothyroxine-taking, kneeknocking, boot-licking, justifying, teeth rattling, digressing new show from John Kearns.



Two of Scotland’s standout stand-up stars and Fringe favourites preview their work in progress shows.



17 MAY, 8:30PM –


Taking audience suggestions of the best, worst and downright weirdest things about Glasgow and transforming them into hilarious songs, scenes and characters.


18 MAY, 8:30PM –


Learn to make the best of a bad timeline with ABK's dimension hopping stand-up.


3 MAY, 8:00PM –10:00PM

The UK's biggest dark humour podcast, Dead Men Talking, kicks off a string of live dates in Glasgow.


7 MAY, 5:00PM – 7:00PM

A hilarious yet thoughtprovoking juxtaposition of stand-up comedy, parody and motivational speaking.


Comedy Monkey Barrel Comedy


13 MAY, 8:30PM-10:00PM

Multi award-winning comedian Chris Forbes, presents a brand new work in progress.


13 MAY, 8:30PM-10:00PM

A very magical improv show. THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING

28 MAY, 4:30PM –6:00PM

The Muslims Are Coming! so round up your friends and join in for an uplifting night of laughter.


22 MAY, 8:00PM –


Join host Mark Watson, in person or via the Live Stream, with a selection of his favourite acts for this new monthly show at Monkey Barrel Comedy.


The heart-stopping, glasses-dropping, hardrocking, wig-shaking, levothyroxine-taking, kneeknocking, boot-licking, justifying, teeth rattling, digressing new show from John Kearns.


19 MAY, 8:00PM –


Brand new hour from the star of Scot Squad and the Some Laugh podcast.


6 MAY, 8:00PM – 9:00PM

An hour of new material from Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominee Sarah Keyworth.


7 MAY, 7:00PM – 9:30PM

Join Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Collin Moulton as they film their stand-up specials at Monkey Barrel Comedy in conjunction with 800 Pound Gorilla Media.

— 67 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Listings

Dundee Art

Cooper Gallery



A glimpse at the cutting edge of Scottish art from DJCAD’s graduating class.

DCA: Dundee

Contemporary Arts




Working across photography, installation and film, Sedira draws upon her personal history to explore ideas of identity, mobility, gender, environment and collective memory.




Informed by Black queer literature, this exhibition looks at rituals of personal and collective memory formation.


2 MAY-30 DEC, 10:00AM – 5:00PM

Exploring the McManus 20th-century collection through different positionalities, to examine the responsibility of the museum as institution in responding to history.


2 MAY-30 SEP, 10:00AM


Examining the artistic and historic significance of copies, fakes, and forgeries.

V&A Dundee


1 MAY-14 JAN 24, 10:00AM – 5:00PM

A major new exhibition looking at the social, political, and aesthetic history of tartan.

Edinburgh Venues

We round up the best additions to Edinburgh’s venues, from new photography galleries to ice cream

Words: Marinel Dizon



With the rising temperature in springtime comes a craving for something to cool you down. Luckily, Joelato in Stockbridge has the fix we need. Their menu boasts a wide repertoire of flavours that span from tangy summer fruit sorbets like pineapple to beloved traditional flavours such as salted caramel. Their bestseller? A decadent salted pistachio ice cream. A pared-down shop with a classic Italian Gelateria feel to it, Joelato is also famed for its hot chocolate for the colder months, making it the perfect year-round treat. The shop’s namesake, Joe, prides himself in using the finest ingredients and techniques and describes himself as “pretty much obsessed with making the best gelato” – a high bar, yet one Joelato is surprisingly good at clearing.



The re-emergence of film photography has made its way into the creative industries in Edinburgh, increasing demand for spaces that help up-andcoming artists find a platform. Agitate Gallery in Haymarket has been actively contributing to this, being a haven for photographers looking to widen their reach; the community that the gallery has attracted is diverse, from budding photographers to experienced professionals. Besides film rolls, books, and photo prints, the gallery offers a film development service, partnered with Rocket Film Lab, which is run by university students. From a casual chat about creative industries to more technical enquiries on film types, the people who run Agitate know their stuff. Venue hires are also available, making the gallery a well-rounded venue for anyone, whether a casual hobbyist or a seasoned aficionado; all you need to do is show up.


Fancy a pub quiz or a jazz night? West Port Oracle has all this to offer, and the ambience to match. Re-opened in December 2022 by the folks behind Paradise Palms after its previous iteration 52 Canoes Tiki Den closed down, the venue has definitely found its calling, now home to the best pub quizzes in the city. Its warm, cosy interiors are an ideal setting to enjoy eccentric beverage offerings such as the Penicillin, made with whisky, ginger, honey, and lemon. If you’re not feeling adventurous, they also have well-made classics such as the Negroni – you simply cannot go wrong.

— 69 — THE SKINNY May 2023 — Listings
Agitate Gallery
Marinel Dizon
Marinel Dizon
Joelato Photo:

The Skinny On... AMUNDA

Singer, songwriter and pop producer extraordinaire, Amandah Wilkinson, aka AMUNDA, takes on this month’s Q&A, and accidentally lets us in on more than one secret

What’s your favourite place to visit?

Lisbon, Portugal. The people are super friendly, it’s a wonderful city to discover and the food is amazing.

What’s your favourite food?

Vietnamese beef phở – it’s warming for the tummy, the depth of flavour is rich but still fresh and noodles are the best.

What’s your favourite colour? Green. It’s the colour of nature, plants and the outdoors. For me it signifies fresh and new.

Who was your hero growing up?

Young me: Macaulay Culkin – ‘cause he beat the bad guys! And teen years: Courtney Love. She was the reason I picked up a guitar tbh.

Whose work inspires you now?

There are so many! In general I love how magical the Ghibli world is, I like to get lost in fantasy and have my head in the clouds. Anything and everything that Yukimi from Little Dragon top-lines/touches – she’s an incredible top-liner, singer and songwriter. And my amazing friends! I feel like I have so many incredibly talented pals who make music and art – some of those include Elijah Kashmir, Anaïs and Maria Lewis.

What three people would you invite to your dinner party and what are you cooking?

The lead character in Mac and Me, the one that goes flying off the cliff (for those that don’t know Mac and Me is a rip off of E.T. and totally amazing), Lady Matwara from FBOY Island and Fever Ray (in full character, obv). I’d take them to Yadgar in Govanhill instead of cooking tho, because that’s the best food I’ve ever eaten.

What’s your all time favourite album?

The Knife – Deep Cuts. When I first heard it, it was like nothing I’d ever heard before – not only the production, but the vocals as well. It started my obsession with cold, expansive tones and with Swedish musicians, songwriters and producers.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?

The Age of Adeline. The male love interest was every cliché and just a terrible dickhead tbh and the

whole premise of the movie was also hilarious, but I was stoned when I saw it so think that added to it.

What book would you take to a desert island?

I think I’d want some kind of happy picture book tbh or like a survival guide etc ya know?

Who’s the worst?

People that wait right outside the door of the bus/ train and don’t move when you need to get out.

When did you last cry?

Today when I watched a video of a baby penguin with no mother be accepted by another penguin family.

What are you most scared of?

Feeling lost in life – cause it brings everything you don’t want to face to the surface.

When did you last vomit?

The last time I had a dinner party with John and Ollie from Bossy Love. Ollie is an amazing

storyteller and was telling a funny story and I laughed so hard that I threw up. Was gross and I can’t believe I told you.

Tell us a secret?

The last one was kind of secret, but also Eric from The Little Mermaid was my first crush. Which celebrity could you take in a fight?

Oh my god, I don’t know.

If you could be reincarnated as an animal, which animal would it be?

A panda, solitary creature, likes to chill in the forest and snack on bamboo.

As AMUNDA, you have an EP on the way – what can we expect from that?

It’s an EP full of love songs, I’m in my love song era. So expect big bouncy drums and basslines as usual, sparkly synths and lots of sweet somethings.

You’re playing at Kelburn Garden Party this summer. What are you most looking forward to about returning to our stage this year?

I’m excited to soak up the atmosphere again, I feel like it’s the most welcoming crowd at this festival, so I am excited to do a sing whilst the sun is going down.

Finally, in honour of this being our Pop issue: What’s your most favourite moment in pop history?

When Blu Cantrell had her moment, those were some hits. ALSO, that entire era of pop was incredible, the 2000s, and every video looked like it was filmed inside a cheese grater and was future Y2K vibes. Also Sisqo’s one magical note ‘yeaaah ehhh yeah’ – you know the one!

What’s your favourite pop breakup song? Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn. It just hurts so good.

THE SKINNY — 70 — May 2023 –The Skinny Goes Pop The Skinny On...
AMUNDA plays Kelburn Garden Party, Kelburn Castle, nr Largs, 1 Jul
Photo: Ploy Ottesen

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Articles inside

The Skinny On... AMUNDA

pages 70-71

The Joy of Impossible Things

pages 62-65


page 61

Dream Gig

page 60

Scotland on Screen: James Price

pages 58-59

Film of the Month — Full Time

page 57

Music Now

pages 54-56

Album of the Month Water From Your Eyes — Everyone’s Crushed

pages 51-53

Future Hope

pages 49-51

A Long Time Coming

page 48

Sound Systems

page 47

Connect to the Crowd

pages 44-46

Tick, Tick... Boom!

page 43


pages 40-42

Visions of a Life

page 39

Ancestral Meditations

pages 36-38

Secret Measure

page 35

Uneasy Acts

page 34

Prioritising Pleasure

page 33

Pop(corn) Art

pages 30-32

Breaking Point

pages 28-29

A Hit on the Head

pages 26-27

Who Run The World?

pages 24-25

Pop Edits

page 23

Room At the Table

pages 20-22

Shot of the month

pages 16-19

What's On

pages 11-15

Love Bites: Dual Carriageway Dreaming

pages 7-10


page 6

Championing creativity in Scotland

page 5
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