Amelia’s Magazine | Festival Preview: Latitude

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Viveka Goyanes
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Kim Seoghee may not be Flemish (I’m gonna bet he isn’t) but his work sure as hell feels the touch of Belgium. With a team of skinny stoney faced pretty boy models and ethereal girls, visit web Kim showed us a classic example of the sulky European genre. Eyes emphasised with kohl, visit this the models lined up to show Another 7th Day, prescription a pick ‘n’ mix collection in black, grey and cream. Amongst the upbeat surroundings of Alternative Fashion Week their cool collective attitude stood right out, but they’d fit right in at Paris or London fashion weeks proper.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Kim Seoghee with his models.

Laura Panter showed a clever collection – ‘This collection cries adolescent’ – God knows what being a teenager had to do with it though. The clothes were a curve enhancing mix of pastel chiffon and wool with bondage inspired straps and belt features.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Laura Panter.

She was followed swiftly by the work of another Laura. Laura Fox had put together a cute series of outfits inspired by ‘British Heritage, Harris Tweed and Oilskin’ – with the aim of promoting manufacturing in the UK. Her love for classic British designers such as Christopher Bailey for Burberry were clear in what I thought was a sweet and mature collection, and that was before I discovered that Laura is wheelchair bound. She has a good web presence with a Carbonmade website and a twitter feed so she clearly hasn’t let a little thing like a disability stop her from keeping busy. And my friends over at Creative Boom have also blogged on her here. Dead impressed.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Laura Fox had business cards to hand: the way it should be done!

Sarina Hosking showed a couple of pieces titled Beauty and the Beast. I have to say I’m not surprised by the title – during a week when titles often bore abstract relevance to the collections they were attached to (at best), this did exactly what it said on the tin. The girl that really got all the photographers salivating was a sexy grown-up version of Little Red Riding Hood, complete with red lacy veil. An elegant gent in wolf mask looked on. They were a distraction from the rest of the collection but heck, why not mix and match your fairytale references? According to her myspace Sarina is principally a theatrical designer, so it all begins to make sense.

Transform by Elizabeth Wilcox was described as ‘Sportswear creating capsule wardrobe’. It was certainly sporty but I am not sure I was feeling the marl grey highlighted with neon sculptural thing.

Viveka Goyanes put together cutesy cream printed shirts with carefully styled black and white tailoring to present a mature collection called Brummella the Dandella. I particularly loved all the little touches, like the ripped and accessorised socks. It always pays to look down!

The first festival I ever had the fortune to attend was Latitude 2007. Still a fresher at university, page still fresh-faced and just a little naïve; a small hatchback, viagra order four friends, and every nook and cranny jammed with our camping equipment. We were green, and we didn’t know that you wouldn’t need six sets of clothes, nor a full foldable mattress, nor (as one of our group, bizarrely, thought) a full set of crockery. It was only due to our general keenness that left us arriving early and managing to snag a camping spot both close to the site entrance and (crucially) within 600 yards of the car park. That was, I discovered, exactly the limit of my stamina for being able to carry my own weight in paperbacks and camping stoves (three!) and several pairs of shoes. Oh, idle youth! These days I can take five nights of living in muddy squalor like a medieval serf in my stride, but that’s only down to training myself; I had to ween myself off such modern luxuries as soap, razors, and fresh underwear.

But I digress – this is meant to be a preview of Latitude 2010. The background: Latitude occurs every year in July in Southwold in Suffolk, and operates under the banner of Festival Republic (formerly Mean Fiddler), that gargantuan promotions company with fingers in many pies and still perhaps best know for the carnival of the damned that is the Reading and Leeds Weekender. Latitude is something of a pet project for Festival Republic, who felt that British festivals had lost track of what made them so culturally important in the first place – not just the bands but the atmosphere, the vibe, the performers on stilts and the chance meetings in the dark under the boughs of some off-to-the-side willow. Glastonbury has become something of a behemoth, but it used to be a small and intimate affair; Latitude’s raison d’être is to mimic what Glastonbury is suppose to once have been. My verdict, taking my experiences of 2007 into account, is that they have succeeded admirably, though it would be churlish to say that it’s exactly as the same. Many of those ideals that the hippies celebrated at the solstice three decades ago – appreciation of the earth, appreciation of humanity – have arguably seeped into the larger (regular) festival-going public, but these days we’re much, much better at recycling.

Capacity is relatively small, as far as festivals go these days, capped at 25000 since 2008, and the wondrous thing about Latitude is that you can go the whole weekend without seeing a single band. There’s a strong lineup of comedy acts, theatre performances, literature talks and other cultural oddities that mark it out as unique in the British festival scene. I’ll run through some of the things to look forward to this year, for those that are going, and if you’re not then be quick, because it’ll sell out soon.

There are several music stages scattered about the site. The largest is the main Obelisk Arena, this year headlined by Florence & the Machine, Belle & Sebastian, and Vampire Weekend. Other artists worth seeing include folkster Laura Marling, indie legends Spoon, insanely talented Mexican acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, gorgeous melody act Dirty Projectors, and even a recently-reformed James. They’ll probably sing that song about sitting.

Move across to the second stage and you’ll find the Word Arena, headlined by the National, the xx, and Grizzly Bear. The first is one of the best bands in the world, without question, and if you go you’ll probably find me there too, undergoing some kind of trembling transcendental spasm attack. I love that band. Oh god how I do. The xx are an interesting choice of headliner as their music, so heavy with meaning and yet so utterly minimal, might struggle to hold a headlining slot on a festival stage. I’ve seen them live before and they were bloody fantastic, so I’m sure they’ll be fine; I won’t be seeing them at Latitude, though. My reasons involve a broken heart, a worn mixtape, and shattered promises – I won’t burden you any further than that, but know that it was horrid. Grizzly Bear are sick, and will absolutely suit the beautiful site that Latitude is situated within. Also playing the Word Arena are Wild Beasts, Richard Hawley, the Horrors, and Yeasayer, etc. etc..

Then you’ve got your Lake Stage, which is (no surprises here) situated next to a lake, as well as the Sunrise Arena deep in the woods on the edge of the site. Exactly who shall be playing where on these stages hasn’t been announced yet, but what is know is that artists and bands such as the Big Pink, Black Mountain, Girls, These New Puritans, Tokyo Police Club, and a bunch of others. I’ve been looking back through past years and Latitude 2010 looks like being potentially the best ever with regards to the music acts (though 2009 was also pretty sick – Nick Cave!). But it’s not all about the music, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be quite as sweetly unique as it is.

In the Comedy tent there are sets from Richard Herring, Emo Philips, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus, Mark Watson, but also many smaller acts such as Mark Oliver and Doc Brown. In previous years this tent has had a propensity towards overcrowding when the bigger names have appeared, but hopefully they’ll have ironed out the creases there. We’ve already covered the Literature tent on Amelia’s Magazine, somewhat, but I’ll add that Jon McGregor is also giving a talk. He’s the author of If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things, a novel that is in itself extraordinarily remarkable and one of the finest examples of prose-poetry I’ve read in the past decade. Also of note here is that Dan Kitson, who probably blushes when he gets described as, “perhaps the finest standup comic of his generation,” all time, will be telling a story for an hour every night at midnight on the Waterfront Stage. His work is rarely available on video as he doesn’t like the idea of his shows being pirated, so please take this opportunity to see him in the flesh.

John Cooper Clarke is in the Poetry tent – one of the towering figures of modern performance poetry in this country should be reason enough to raise some curiosity there, but there are also appearances from important figures on the British poetry scene like Luke Wright and John Stammers. Eddie Argos, of Art Brut fame, will also be doing a set – if you’re familiar with the man then you’ll know that’s an intriguing prospect.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here – there’s a Cabaret tent that parties on into the early hours of the morning, there’s the Film & Music Arena showcasing some unique new audiovisual shows (as well as more irreverent stuff from the likes of Adam Buxton and the Modern Toss crew), and there’s also a chance to wander into the woods to find both the opera performances and the In The Woods area, a woodland clearing set up for late night raving. There are numerous plays put on at the Theatre Arena, including performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Everyman Playhouse. There’s a huge childrens’ area that’s almost like a playground.

Hell, the whole thing is like some gaudy carnival from the middle ages transported through time for our enjoyment. There’s a parade at some point, there’s giant painting projects, you can row boats in the lake, you can watch a jazz band play all day on a floating stage on the lake, and so on, and so on. The beauty of the site just completes the package, and thankfully the Latitude team are very good at maintaining it. They’ve got a well-developed set of environmentally-friendly policies that have managed to recycle most of the waste from past festivals, including designated recycling bins, bags handed out to campers for sorting their recycling, and everything you can buy on site is sourced so that it won’t damage the environment both getting there and if it’s thrown away. Sorted.

So that’s Latitude 2010. Three days almost doesn’t seem enough, does it?

Categories ,2010, ,Adam Buxton, ,Art Brut, ,Arts, ,Belle & Sebastian, ,Black Mountain, ,Cabaret, ,comedy, ,Dan Kitson, ,dirty projectors, ,Doc Brown, ,Eddie Argos, ,Emo Philips, ,environment, ,Everyman Playhouse, ,festival, ,film, ,Florence & the Machine, ,girls, ,glastonbury, ,grizzly bear, ,ian steadman, ,James, ,John Cooper Clarke, ,John Stammers, ,Jon McGregor, ,latitude, ,Latitude Festival, ,Laura Marling, ,leeds, ,Luke Wright, ,Mark Oliver, ,Mark Watson, ,Modern Toss, ,music, ,Nick Cave, ,opera, ,Phill Jupitus, ,rave, ,Reading, ,Rich Hall, ,richard hawley, ,Richard Herring, ,rodrigo y gabriela, ,Royal Shakespeare Company, ,Spoon, ,Standup, ,the big pink, ,the horrors, ,The National, ,The XX, ,These New Puritans, ,Tokyo Police Club, ,Vampire Weekend, ,Wild Beasts, ,Yeasayer

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Amelia’s Magazine | Kitsuné Maison Compilation 5 â

Paris-based record label Kitsuné are releasing the fifth in their series of compilations, promoting the work of such prodigies of electro MIA, Autokratz and Alan Braxe. The Parisian music scene is pretty wonderful at the moment, and, as you may have noticed from the way I can’t resist slipping in a bit of vocabulaire Francais in every review, I have a deep affection for it. So you may think I’m biased when I say that this compilation is GREAT. But it is.

Big Face, described by the label as ‘some nutters from Glasgow’, Cazals and my old friends Does It Offend You, Yeah? all grace us with their musical presence, and the princes and princesses of cutesy keyboards CSS themselves get in there with a remix of Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Ya’s Fuck Friend. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the Silverlink vs Kicks Like A Mule remix of MIA’s XR2, but perhaps that’s just because I like the original so much that I felt it didn’t need manipulating. And this is the only – very minor – disappointment of Kitsune Maison Five to my ears. The Teenagers are inevitably heading skywards this year, as are our very own Nottingham-based Late Of The Pier, and their second single, Broken, is brought to the fore with Fairy Lights’ fantastic remix of Earl Samuel Dust’s charmingly vivacious vocals. Alan Braxe, co-creator of the now decade-old Music Sounds Better With You (remember that one?) also contributes a delectable track; in my opinion, his departure from Stardust has done nothing but good, and Addicted truly lives up to its name – it cannot be played only once. A thumping, adrenaline-fuelled beat ascends into a climactic eruption of zombie-like strobes of sound. Indeed, with regards to his former musical collaborators, the music really sounds better without you. Autokratz present a morsel of hearty rave goodness in Pardon Garcon; it isn’t a new sound, but it’s as hard, dark and satisfying as a bar of Bournville. Expect an album imminently.

The compilation has a spontaneous but natural development to it – it’s not just an array of random electro thrown haphazardly together. Creativity and consideration has evidently been imbued in this nocturnal dream of dance music, and French consideration at that. Oh, monsieur!

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Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review: Butcher the Bar – For Each A Future Tethered

For Each A Future Tethered is easy-listening embodied in 11 songs and Nicholson’s is a voice that simply seems to melt into your ears. There are a few artists that Nicholson in his Butcher The Bar incarnation brings to mind and many come from across the pond. His sweetly sung, more about breathy songs definitely evoke Elliot Smith but perhaps without the darker edge – from the amount of sunshine that comes bursting through the songs on this album it’s certainly difficult to believe that Nicholson is of a similar disposition to the late Smith.

Butcher The Bar by Natalie Hughes

Butcher The Bar by Cheryl Windahl

Shoegazey ditties like Alpha Street West conjure Josh Radin or Jason Schwartzman’s band Coconut Records and there’s definitely something Eels-esque in the rousing Lullaby. As for a homegrown influence then you wouldn’t be far wrong if you imagined the best of Badly Drawn Boy’s back catalogue.

Butcher The Bar by Jaymie O’Callaghan

Butcher The Bar’s sound is quite a full one – layers of clarinets, keyboards, glockenspiels, trumpets, and guitars all pile up to make for some pretty hefty choruses. It would definitely be interesting to check them out at a gig to see if they can translate this big sound into their lives shows.

Butcher The Bar by Emma Carlilse

Inspiration for most of the lyrics seem to be taken from the every day with many tracks recounting little stories – including walks with loved ones, imagined romances and teenaged mums – giving the album a really lovely, personal feel.

Butcher The Bar by Cheryl Windahl

Stand out tracks include Sign Your Name (“sign your name upon my heart for me”) and Silk Tilts, which will give anyone in need of a instant banjo hit a great deal of pleasure – just try not to continually misread and mishear the title, as I keep doing!

Butcher The Bar Man by Natalie Hughes

Giant with it’s refrain of “you’re my favourite, favourite one” is a good example of the material on offer here – it’s not complicated stuff, but it’s so sweet and backed-up by some pretty impressive musicianship. In fact most of the songs don’t surpass 3 and-a-half minutes so there is no hint that Nicholson is trying to do anything particularly wacky or experimental. For Each A Future Tethered is simply a collection of delightful indie-pop songs, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Butcher The Bar by Cheryl Windahl

Categories ,acoustic, ,album, ,Butcher The Bar, ,Clarinet, ,Eliot Smith, ,folk, ,guitar, ,Indie, ,Indie Folk, ,Joel Nicholson, ,Joshua Radin, ,New music

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Amelia’s Magazine | Field Day

People sheltering from the rain under the band stand

For me, Saturday mornings are supposed to be about late rises and very large breakfasts; but the Saturday of Field Day was one very large exception. The coming of Field Day meant that I had to co-ordinate the meeting point of many friends at one spot in central London. With them all arriving at different times, I opted to solve it the only way that seemed reasonable. Tell them all to meet us there and bring drink so that we could wait for the rest to arrive. This seemed like the perfect plan, apart from the fact that the few I had already found and myself were then stuck under a tree, in the rain, drinking gin and tonic.

Finally we began our field day with a mad dash over to the Adventures In The Beetroot Field tent to get out of the rain. We were met with cheers, not for ourselves obviously, but for White Lies who had just taken to the stage. They played the few songs they have to a packed tent, but there was something a little lack luster about the show. We found ourselves talking, much like the rest of the crowd – finding ourselves easily distracted due to the less than deafening sound levels. Our growing interest in a plastic horse we had found served as proof that there really was no reason for us to linger.

White Lies

We opted to brave the rain again, heading over to the main stage to catch the end of Wild Beasts. It seems like if you can stand Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto vocal assortments, you fall in love with them very soon afterwards. The ridiculousness of it all seeps away as soon as it’s teamed with structure of ‘The Devil’s Crayon‘, leading fans to a point of defense as soon as remarks like “He sounds like someone got him by the John Thomas” are made. I’m sad to say though, it was over all too soon, and we were forced to find shelter in the colourful bar/tent.

This was when horror stories of the previous years Field Day began to surface. Toilet queues, inaudible sound levels and sold out bars made it sound like a very traumatic experience, and I was comforted by the fact that apparently a whole host of sound and management experts had been roped in to rectify the previous year problems. Fat load of use they were though. The toilet queues stretched as far as the eye could see, and the noise levels, well, I’ll speak about that a bit more later – but to put it bluntly, two borrowers could have had a long and intricate conversation right at the front of the tents, without having to repeat themselves at any point due to mishearing.

The new village mentality idea was a bit of a washout. I’m sure it would have added some much needed fun factor to the day, if it hadn’t of been for the persistent rain. I couldn’t help feeling that perhaps they should have sorted out the lots of more basic aspects of the festival, before putting so much effort into something like this.

The village mentality not really capturing people’s imagination

I then headed over to the Bugged Out tent to check out Modeselektor. The German duo have been on my to see list for ages and by the swelling mass of people at the mouth of the tent I’m guessing I’m not the only one. Perhaps one of the most bizarre things about it was that everyone seemed to have different ideas as to whereabouts in the tent would be best to actually hear the music. Some were trying to get as near to the front as possible, others opted to stand by the smaller speaker at the back.

Modeselektor and the less than enthralled crowd

Basically, it was a shambles, and in the end Modeselektor stopped about halfway through their set announcing that, “if there is no bass, there is no point”. To which everybody was infuriated, yet understanding. The annoying part was that it obviously wasn’t the artist’s fault, and I don’t eve think it’s even really the organizers fault. It’s just a case of people wanting to kick up a fuss over nothing; I just wish people could be a bit more lenient in these kinds of situations. London is hardly a tranquil haven, how is a bit of music any worse than the cars, trains, tube and planes we have surrounding us?

of Montreal being Fantastic

Well, now my rant is over I suppose I should speak some more about the music. One band that were a real treat from start to finish was of Montreal. A band I had heard a lot about, but hadn’t really been exposed to. A friend’s persistent statements on how he was longing to see them however won me over, and I’m very glad they did. If Patrick Wolf were to make NY-esque disco in a similar vain as Anthony Hegarty and his Hercules and the Love Affair shenanigans, it would sound like of Montreal. I know that’s probably a statement that some time fans don’t want to hear, but to me, that’s how it came across. The real treat of their show was the epic ‘The Past Is A Grotesque Animal’. Clocking in at approximately half of their set it should have had people slowly filtering away, but instead the sound grew and grew around the same hook. People were transfixed, if not on the on stage performers, then on my friend who seemed to know every word. It was astounding.

The next few hours then disintegrated into catching bits and bobs of stuff, whilst persisting through the rain. Attempting to stay together soon became the least of our worries as a big effort was made to enjoy James Holden’s set. It was just impossible to get more than a few feet into the tent, and the sound was still pitiful. If Spinal Tap had amps that went up to 11, Field Day’s dials must have gone down to at least -1. But I think I’ve done enough moaning on that frontier.

Due to a rather hairy adventure trying to make my way out of the tent, I was only able to catch the last few songs of Les Savy Fav. I think it’s more than likely that half the crowd was purely there to see the lead singer and his distasteful antics, I certainly was. They were great nonetheless, and I’ll definitely try and catch them again, preferably somewhere drier and louder.

My choice of headliner was Benga, who proved almost impossible to find. He had been moved to a smaller tent where he was now headlining, but once we had found him I certainly wasn’t complaining. Once he had put his foot down enough for them to pump up the volume, the small tent was soon filled with the most ridiculous bass lines, and some dancing that you would usually find only in the earliest of hours. It was horrendous fun though, and although everyone would probably say they had wanted him to go on longer, I was completely exhausted by the end of it.

Overall, the whole event was perhaps one of the worst organized events I’ve ever attended, but also perhaps one of the most entertaining and fun. If the organizers ironed out all the faults, I think it could quite easily become the highlight of the year.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Red Bull Music Academy: Steve Reich lecture Q&A from students

Illustration by Gemma Milly
Illustration by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich gave a very inspiring lecture to the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy (which you can read here). Afterwards he took a series of questions from the floor and I’ve tried to transcribe the answers as best I can on this blog, viagra 100mg because they were an intriguing bunch:

How do you balance the listenability of your music with what you want to create?
When I write I’m alone in the music, and my theory is if I love it I hope you do too, but I think it’s valid to question listenability if you’re writing a jingle. It’s not the same with a fine art composition. People are intuitively smart about music so you can’t fool them – they will smell a rat [if your music doesn’t come from the heart].

How easy is it to get into composition if you’re not classically trained?
Sometimes you can see shapes in music and follow them. My son got Pro Tools and everything changed because he suddenly saw what he was doing and the eye got involved in addition to the ear. It changes your perspective when you can see the music you are composing. I work with Sibelius; it’s easy to learn the basics but you should ask yourself – will it be useful? Will it help you?

Are you interested in audio illusions?
Well I haven’t used phasing since the 70s but [having said that] my entire arsenal of equipment is Macbook Pro, Sibelius and Reason. My new piece will feature speech samples from 9/11and they are triggered from a notation programme. I also wanted to create the equivalent in sound of stop action in a film, and something called granular synthesis can stop a sound anywhere, even on a consonant – “I saw a fishhhhhhhh…..” – it does a fantastic job of it.

Of course the audience want to know more about his new project…
During 9/11 I was living on Broadway, four blocks from Ground Zero. My son and grandkids were in the apartment when it happened, and I won’t go into details but it was terrifying but basically our neighbours saved my family. I didn’t do anything about it but a year ago I realised I had unfinished business and so I’m in the middle of a new piece based on the Jewish tradition whereby you don’t leave a body before it’s buried. These women didn’t know what parts were in the tents [at Ground Zero] but they came down and said psalms 24 hours a day.

I worry that I’m saying something flippant now, but how did you describe your music in the early days?
Hey, lighten up, they got London once so let’s hope they’re not back in a hurry!
It’s not important what you call your music: journalists want a label, but they’ll invent something anyway so it doesn’t matter. Philip Glass called it repetitive music. I don’t like ‘minimal’ but it’s better than trance or some other things. If a journalist ever pushes you on this say ‘wash out your mouth, it’s your job to write the next piece’. Don’t put yourself in a box – it’s someone else’s job to do that. Be polite though, and don’t make enemies if you don’t have to.

What is the process when you start writing? And how much has it changed?
Oh boy! I briefly did pieces for orchestra, and they were by far not my best works; they were too phat. I learnt that in the late 80s, so since the beginning, minus a little break, I have written for ensemble, e.g. six pianos. I want identical pairs of instruments. Before Music for 18 Musicians I used rhythmic melodic pattern, like drumming on a phone but then I thought what happens if if I worked things out harmonically and it really worked, so I continued. I start with a harmonic super structure, which before computers was done on a multi track tape. I’ve always worked in real sound, not in my head. I’m a crippled man, I have to hear it! In the mid 80s I got a grant and bought a Tascam 8 track, which weighed a tonne, but I used it for the next ten years until midi appeared. Different Trains was composed on a Mac which was easy. No, that’s a complete lie, it crashed every 15 seconds! I invent harmonic movements that don’t come intuitively, which is a bit like hanging onto a horse for dear life [to keep control]. All the details are done on computer but there is a lot of garbage. My trash can runneth over!

How do you advise moving from the creation of songs to symphonies or longer works?
It’s usually a mess when pop musicians try to do that – for example I would never advise Radiohead to write a symphony – they’re geniuses anyway so why bother. Anyone who doesn’t recognise that is mad. But if you are really serious about it it may mean going to music school to get the practical knowledge, which could be a laborious series of years.

Do you think it’s better to concentrate on emotion or concept?
Bach was the greatest improviser of his day but I’m not much of one so the bedrock of anything I’ve ever done has rested on musical intuition. How does it sound on Monday, Tuesday, next month? Does it keep sounding good?

And with that there is a standing ovation for this most revered of modern composers. I think there’s a room full of people here who will go away and reappraise the oeuvre of Steve Reich if they haven’t already done so.

Categories ,Bach, ,Broadway, ,classical, ,Gemma Milly, ,Ground Zero, ,improvisation, ,Macbook, ,Minimalist music, ,Orchestra, ,Philip Glass, ,pop, ,radiohead, ,Reason, ,Red Bull Music Academy, ,Sibelius, ,Steve Reich

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Amelia’s Magazine | SXSW – Tips for 2010

The latest in a series of events from Bad Idea Magazine, illness ‘Future Human’ explores a new topic each month and hosts an evening of discussion and debate at The Book Club in Shoreditch.

This month’s topic ‘Fashion’s Microchic Shake-Up’ pondered on the impact of the internet on the global fashion market we see today. Prior to the invention of the internet, cheapest origins of fashion trends could be pinpointed to say, dosage a specific youth culture, a political movement, or a new music trend. Times have changed; the way we see fashion has changed. The serge of information made accessible to us via the internet has created a new breed of consumer, a fashionista in his or her own right. Hello Microchic. 

The term Microchic is used to describe fashion today – fashion derived from a variety of new, and inspirational sources. A style influenced by social networking sites, trend blogs and small cult labels adopted by highstreet clothing lines. A Microchic consumer knows about fashion and demands individuality, quality, innovation and fashion-forward appeal. 
Ben Beaumont-Thomas began the evening with ‘The Great Microchic Shake-Up: A Primer’, in which he defined microchic as a ‘hyper-personal multi-faceted look’. The internet allows us to cherry pick fashions, it’s no longer about subcultures showcasing specific looks but about a consumer being able to choose a look for that day without the commitment. London’s fashion-forward hubs like Shoreditch accommodate many a microchic fashionista and, it seems what used to be ironic now just ‘is’. In order to track cult fashion movements on the streets of London, Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo big brands subscribe to online global think tanks and trend forecasting services such as WGSN. These think tanks track fashion movements all over the world. Data is collected to give information on a global scale. Sales figures, market research, on-the-street trend spotters, and research into new manufacturing techniques all form a hub of information essential to any brand that wants to survive. It seems clear; the Internet has played a huge part in turning the way we think about fashion around.

So began the evenings debate; “Can the British High Street compete with Microchic?” The audience were able to upload thoughts in real-time via a live twitter feed which was displayed on stage for debate interaction. Guests Iris Ben David, CEO of Styleshake, Helen Brown, founder of Catwalk Genius and Ruth Marshall-Johnson, senior editor of WGSN Think Tank also shared their thoughts, prompting further debate. A particularly interesting point made by @cushefootwear via twitter was “Internet is to clothes what microwaves are to food”, prompting us to question the importance of ‘experience’ and ‘sensation’ when buying fashion. 
Alterations in consumer shopping patterns have led to many interesting technological developments. Innovative systems are being designed to meet new sets of consumer demands.

Styleshake allows a user to build a look within an online interface. The idea is, the user can create the garment they have in their head (you know, that absolutely perfect dress you wonder if you’ll ever find) through the selection of various characteristics, such as fabrics, necklines, and detailing. After you’ve designed the garment you can have it made at very reasonable prices.

Catwalk Genius is an innovative creative platform in which unestablished and up-and-coming fashion designers can sell their ranges. It’s a great resource for those looking for something ‘not on the High Street’. Users can also invest in emerging talent by buying shares in a designer’s next collection.

Perhaps a more extreme example of innovation is Augmented-Reality Shopping in which tools such as 3D scanners are used to replicate the body shape and look of a user, allowing him or her to see what they would look like in any chosen garment. 
Emerging trends are all about the involvement of the consumer. The consumer is part of the process. Innovative systems like these are designed to combat consumer frustrations such as differentiation in sizing between brands or inability to find a specific item or size, while offering an alternative consumer experience. Many consumers would be happy to do away with the days of long queues, sweaty changing rooms, rude salespeople and traipsing round shops all afternoon. By adopting an online shopping sphere, however, we lose out on the interactivity, the social nature and the tactility of shopping the High Street. Retail brands will need to facilitate technical developments such as 3D scanners (eliminating the need for changing rooms) to compete. 

H&M Garden Collection

The competitive nature of the High Street has resulted in a cycle of mass production of fast-fashion garments and large amounts of waste. In contributing to our throw-away society the highstreet fails to represent the ethical edge that can be found in Microchic. However the High Street favourites H&M’s Garden Collection made up of organic cotton and recycled polyester represents a change in attitudes from big brands.

So what does the future hold for the British High Street? Join the Debate!

We Have Band could be the most interesting group I have ever interviewed for the sole reason that every question results in the three members talking over each other, rx telling jokes and generally launching into their own internal debate. This is hardly surprising when you consider that two of the members of the band are married to each other and the third member has unwittingly become part of that relationship. Regardless, the London-based three piece are always hilarious and charming in equal measure.

The group has already been tipped by numerous music critics as the band to watch in 2010 and have their songs have been remixed by Bloc Party, Carl Craig and DJ Mujava. It seems inevitable that We Have Band’s debut album, WHB, will thrust them into the limelight with the same feverish hysteria that surrounded Hot Chip’s The Warning, as their dance floor friendly electro pop is already getting some heavy rotation by some of the world’s biggest DJs.

Amelia’s sat down with Darren, Thomas and Dede to find out more about their debut album and the unlikely way the band came together.

Howdy, guys. How was the band formed?
Dede: Thomas was making music and he wasn’t feeling very inspired so I offered to make music with him. I came up with a concept name for the band and mentioned it to Darren. He liked the name and asked if he could join. He came round for dinner and then we formed the band.
Darren: Thomas and Dede are married so I am like the third member of the marriage. It’s quite weird because we don’t really know each other but we just experimented. On the first night we wrote WHB and that’s why we called the album WHB.

How long have you been together?
Dede: Just over two years. That first dinner was in late 2007 and then we spent about 6 or 7 months writing songs. Then everything just went crazy.

Why did you choose to work with producer Gareth Jones (Grizzly Bear, Interpol) on this album?
Thomas: He actually just did additional production and mixing. We had done most of the production ourselves so we just needed someone to help us take it to that next level. We didn’t want to stray too far from what we had originally done but we wanted to give it that shine. He understood that. We wanted someone who would tailor themselves to the band rather than try to change things. We basically tried to capture the energy of the live shows.

You seem very polite and welcoming on stage. How true is this in real life?
Darren: It’s all a huge lie!
Thomas: Dede gets excited.
Dede: If everyone is enjoying themselves then you start enjoying yourself and you start getting excited by the atmosphere. We are quite relaxed.
Thomas: We all have our quirks but we are quite happy in each other’s company. As Darren mentioned, Dede and I are married so there is always something bigger than the band.
Dede: We all just go and have a cup of tea and a bag of crisps after a show.

-Painting by John Lee Bird-

What are you noticing about each other as you tour together and immerse yourselves in each other’s company?
Thomas: Darren has a laptop addiction.
Dede: He is also addicted to eggs

That can’t be very pleasant on a tour bus!
Darren: No, it isn’t! I tend to avoid Thomas and Dede until they have had a coffee in the morning.
Thomas: We can all be a bit short with each other but that’s fine. For the first hour of each day we just don’t speak and then after that we are fine!

You have been referred to as “part Hot Chip, part Talking Heads”. What do you think about this?
Thomas: Dede is banned from reading reviews but we’re fine with that.
Dede: That’s fine. It’s just not what we are.
Thomas: Yeah, it’s not what we are. Talking Heads were obviously an amazing band and we have only released a couple of singles so far but we will let them just say that and take it.

Piano is a very misleading first song on the album as it is nothing like the rest of the record. Did you have a theme or is the album just a bunch of songs that you were happy with?
Thomas: We were aware that they were quite stylistically diverse but they are all us. They are all produced in the same way with the same equipment. Plus, lots of bands have one, maybe two songwriters but all three of us contribute equally to the songs. We didn’t want to hide Piano at the end of the album just because it was a little different.

2010 salutes the return of the 60s, discount but forget the bubblegum pop of The Shangri-Las & co – I’m talking about the deeper and more sophisticated psychedelic sounds of Cream and The 13th Floor Elevators. If the noughties have been characterised by a great come back of punk, sildenafil post-punk and no wave sounds, then my personal forecasts for the new decade see a return to more psychedelic and drone-y atmospheres. The ‘nu-psychedelia’ I saw at SXSW, however, is intertwined with lots of different influences, from the rawness of garage rock and surf music, to the fuzziness of shoegaze-y guitars and 80’s synths, and the complexity of noise.

Turn on, tune in, drop out! Hopefully this will be a new Summer of Love.

Bet on these as real gold for 2010 and beyond:

These Are Powers – finally over the “ghost punk” definition they’ve dubbed themselves with, their hypercharged electro tunes, brightened up with sirens, samples and the best bassline I’ve heard in a while. They will make us dance all the summer.

Small Black – the East Coast is living the cosmic age. Small Black and fellow musicians Washed Out, Neon Indian, Memory Cassette among others take electropop to another dimension with fuzzy dreamy synth-y melodies and textured vocals. This band, in particular, is just great. And it’s making its way to the heart of the hipsters all over the world.

Pearl Harbor – the West Coast, on the contrary, is living the Summer of Love. And Pearl Harbor, together with extraordinaire Best Coast, are major exponents of the trend. Peace and love.

Male Bonding – despite coming from Dalston, Male Bonding don’t even sound British. They explosive mix of noise, shoegaze and rock and roll sounds closer to the Los Angeles bands gathered around The Smell than the anorexic depressed goths that meet at Catch. There’s some hope for British music. God save Male Bonding.

Best Coast – Bethany Cosentino & co are one of the most blogged about bands of the past few months and their broken-hearted twee gaze-y tunes will be pop anthems of the new decade. Someone compared them to the Ramones’ 45s played at 33 revolutions per minute. Listen to them and you’ll see why.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – this 6-piece band from Philly has been one of the most underrated bands of the past few years. Hopefully this SXSW will help them to rise to the well-deserved heights of glory. Their haunting, dreamy, almost pastoral music reminds of Beach House and Grizzly Bear in a way, but they’re as unique as the former are.

Harlem – brilliant post-surf (if you can call it that way) with a Bowie-esque touch.

Tanlines – here’s another example of the new Brooklyn sound. Tanlines mix urban rhythms with tropical beats and space-y vocals. The mix of these elements seems weird but it’s actually a winner.

Once again, it seems like the American music scene is beating the UK for new, interesting production. People seem to want to dance, to dream, to trip into outer spaces – and US musicians, with their home productions and collective efforts, seem to give the best answer to these new needs. The thought process seems to be: The times have never been so shit. So what? Let’s drop acid and dance in the woods!

It’s a shame UK and European bands can’t keep up with the change, considering the great music tradition we’ve got here. The industry is stuck, 90% of British musicians are either on the dole or working 7 shifts a week in shitty pubs in order not to starve (or doing too much mephedrone so they don’t feel the hunger) and what suffers is the music.

Hopefully this wave of positivism will reach the Old World soon and we’ll see brilliant more UK bands at SXSW next year.

Categories ,13th Floor Elevators, ,2010, ,A Sunny Day In Glasgow, ,austin, ,Best Coast, ,Cream, ,Diary, ,festival, ,Harlem, ,laura lotti, ,Male Bonding, ,pearl harbour, ,small black, ,South By South West, ,sxsw, ,tanlines, ,texas, ,The Shangri-Las, ,these are powers, ,Tips, ,Videos

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Amelia’s Magazine | The landscapes of Brooklyn: An interview with Lapland

lapland by daria h
Lapland by Daria Hlazatova.

Josh Mease works out of a tiny bedroom in Brooklyn, where he created his gorgeous debut self titled album Lapland, released late last year on The Lights Label. Trawling the evocative landscapes within his mind, he has put together a haunting collection of songs that are sure to creep under your skin…

You were born in Houston but now live in Brooklyn – why and when did you make the move to NY?
Right after high school. I thought I wanted to be a jazz musician, and NY is the best place to do that. I came up and studied music at a university, and about halfway through I realized I’d rather write songs and sing.

What were your biggest influences, music wise, growing up?
When I was a kid it was the Beatles and random 70′s and 80′s country music that my parents would listen to around the house. Also lots of stuff that was on MTV in the early nineties when I was 11 or 12. Once I got into high school I started studying jazz pretty intensely, so it was lots of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. Some of these things show up in music and some don’t.

What have you been doing alongside making music under the moniker Lapland?
I play random gigs as a freelance musician on bass and guitar. I also sing for jingles, and teach lessons. I help out with the family business, which is basically helping manage a website at this point.

Can you tell us more about your process of songwriting?
It’s always a little different for me. Sometimes I start by humming something in my iphone as a voice memo. Sometimes I’ll make stuff up on guitar or a keyboard. Or I’ll start w/ just an odd drum beat or loop that triggers my imagination. If I think of an interesting phrase or song idea, I’ll jot it down for later. Basically I change stuff up so I don’t get too bored and fall into writing the same stuff over and over. I would say most of my ideas start out as a melody and some chords, and I fill in the words later.

Why do you have the nickname White Chocolate?
At this point the only people that call me White Chocolate are some of the guys I went to a performing arts high school with in Houston, Texas. It started when I first got to school. I wasn’t the greatest player in the world as far as improvising jazz went, but I could play funky little ideas on guitar with ease.

You have said you like the idea of nature rather than the reality – do you have any nature stories you can share with us? Things that happened to you when you’ve been out in the wilds? Go on…
What I meant was I like the idea of being in a natural place more than the actual reality of trying to go camping or something like that. I don’t really have any nature stories as I’m actually kind of a city-slicker. When I’m sitting down to write I try and imagine I’m in a different place…

Lapland by Lapland is out now. Go enjoy!

Categories ,brooklyn, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Josh Mease, ,Lapland, ,The Lights Label

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Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review: Born Ruffians – Say It

God Bless Canada. Quietly producing some of the most influential and downright awesome musicians known to all mankind (I’m talking Neil Young, viagra Joni Mitchell, treat Leonard Cohen & Arcade Fire here rather than Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne and Bryan Adams, by the way. Although, lets face it, after a few Camparis ‘Summer of 69’ is a chooon…) the Canucks are still chucking out quality music at an alarming rate these days.

Having cemented themselves firmly into the collective consciousness of the indie scenesters in 2008 with their successful debut album ‘Red, Yellow & Blue’, Toronto’s jangly pop darlings Born Ruffians are back with ‘Say It’, the notoriously tricky second album. And tricky it certainly is.
The first thing to clear up is that there is nothing as instantly toe-tappingly poptastic as ‘Hummingbird’ on this record. What we get instead is a sense of impending maturity and a feeling that our kids are all grown up.

Having happily settled into their own skins on this album, they seem less frantic and desperate to impress. This newfound maturity may mean a less instant record musically, but what we do get is a more laid back affair and what I believe will eventually been seen as more impressive an album than their debut. Still replete with the familiar jerky vocal twitchings of lead singer and guitarist Luke LaLonde, whose voice on this record goes from Alex Turner to David Byrne to Ben ‘Band of Horses’ Bridwell from one track to the next, ‘Say It’ displays a wider variety of influence and style which subsequently paints a much broader musical picture than it’s slightly one dimensional predecessor. This ability to develop and grow musically pulls them gently out of the indie schmindie pop kids category, placing them on the periphery of ‘respectable musical outfit’. Luckily they manage this shift in style without entirely losing the cheeky twinkle in the eye that saturated ‘Red, Yellow & Blue’ so appealingly.
Lead single ‘Sole Brother’ is the most radio friendly track on offer here, with a lazy slacker melody line and charmingly mellow weaving guitars. This is the one that inadvertently burrows into your ear and pops up on your internal jukebox a week later when you’re in the queue at Sainsburys. And then stays there for the next two weeks.

Best named track of the year, ‘Retard Canard’, is clearly indebted to Talking Heads early output, with mildly threatening heartbeat pounding exercise in eccentricity ‘The Ballad Of Moose Bruce’ seeing the band forget the commercial future of their music for a second and genuinely get stuck into some cheeky geeky indie eccentricity. And it works. For the most part. What is frustrating about this record is that every song throws up so many overt musical references that it becomes more an exercise in ‘what track/band does this remind you of?’ than in appreciating Born Ruffians on their own merit. Yet this album certainly gets under your skin.
In ‘Retard Canard’ we hear LaLonde yelp about wanting to set the world on fire. Sadly it is unlikely that this record is going to get even close to doing that, but it is still a fine example of a band developing their sound and style, yet not losing their ‘wink at the camera’ playfulness. They still have some way to go before they are up there with the likes of fellow Toronto exports Broken Social Scene in experimental musical terms, but they are getting there. Perhaps if they stopped wrapping up their dark and pain-laden lyrics in such a shiny pop sheen, we might start to see the real band and hear what they are truly capable of. ‘Say It’ makes me hungry to hear what they are going to deliver to us next, which can only be a good thing. This record is, for want of a better term, a ‘grower’ that, if you can be bothered to put the work in, pays dividends in the end. Give it a listen. Or five. It’s well worth it.

Categories ,album review, ,Arcade Fire, ,Born Ruffians, ,canada, ,Indie, ,Joni Mitchell, ,Neil Young

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Amelia’s Magazine | Lord Skywave – Odds and Sods

The member of Black Ghosts‘ solo project Lord Skywave is steeped in biographical influences and sways into the worlds of pop, dub reggae and avant-garde electronica. Then again, when you look at Simon Lord’s musical career you can see why his solo project is such a multi-genre mish mash.

Perhaps the most heartwarming part of this album is his extensive use of his families musical past. He samples the music his grandmother used to make so many moons ago. After a summer of visiting his grandfather’s house and going through his collection of old reel-to-reel tape recordings and 78′s, he had an entire archive of her fantastically composed sweep off-your-feet instrumentals to work with.


As well as this, all the electronic bass sounds on the album were produced using the Lord Skywave synthesizer which was built by Simon’s dad in the 70′s, and only 10 were made. Which I find hard to believe with such a tantalizing name, surely there must have been more demand!

I don’t know about you, but I find all this absolutely fascinating, and such a refreshing change from the majority of music, which can sometimes can appear to be something of a soulless, money grabbing, dried out husk.

It’s so hard to pinpoint my favourite tracks on this album because it’s all so diverse and to start comparing them makes my retinas hurt. I think what I find so gripping about his style is his voice. At points it’s heartbreak in a sound wave and at others it‘s the happy morning shower singing that I thought only really occured in plays set in New York in the 1950′s.

Even though Simon Lord is an established musician, as both an ex-member of Simian and current half of The Black Ghosts, this album sets him apart from all his previous endeavors. It sounds like Prince if he was quintessentially British. What more can I say?

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Amelia’s Magazine | Au Revoir Simone Are Staying Golden

Featuring competitions in the already overly competitive world that is Art may seem somewhat crude to say the least. But in fact it’s through these well supported and sponsored prizes that new and underexposed artists and creative mediums gain a platform and a voice, information pills page and a fairly fair and just route for career progression out of the studios and into the spotlight. It’s also a darn good excuse to curate a fine exhibition of very talented folk, hospital and in a collaborative sense get together with a common thread, clinic be it the format, subject matter or genre, and share opinions, ideas and approaches. I call to the stand Foto8 and their annual Photographic Prize an exhibition of which opens with a right knees up of a party this weekend in London.


Joerg Brueggermann (2009 Entry)

Foto8, in their own words, is ‘a space to share, comment and debate photography. The site exists to bridge the divide between photographers, authors and their audience through interactive displays and a constant stream of new works and resources’. Based on the belief that documentary photography has a vital role to play in contemporary society, Foto8′s ethos firmly pushes the medium as a valued tool for communication and self education about the world around us and the lesser understood worlds of others.


Abbie Traylor-Smith (2009 Entry)

The London based website has regular postings of reviews, commentaries, interviews and picture stories as well as photographic events and news items, and serves as an outlet for the biannually published 8 magazine, which can be previewed, ordered and subscribed to from there. Now up to issue 25 the magazine blurs and tests the boundaries between photography, journalism and art and represents ‘the very best in design and print, following a graphic format that uses the medium of the printed page to its fullest.’


Robert Hackman (2009 Entry)

The Gallery that will house this spectacular show was established by director of Foto8 Jon Levy along with Adrian Evans, the director of Panos Pictures, and celebrates it’s fourth birthday this year. HOST is dedicated to the specialised promotion and exploration of photojournalism and documentary photography, ‘from classical black and white reportage to contemporary mixed media’. They pioneer both new and traditional methods of manipulating the gallery setting with innovation and passion. The gallery proudly boasts a highly-respected exhibition schedule, complimented by an on-going program of face-to-face encounters with photography and film, including screenings, talks and regular book club meetings.


Clemence de Limburg (2009 Entry)

From around 2300 images submitted from 44 different countries from as far afield as Thailand and Turkey, just over 100 carefully selected images will make up the final display at this year’s Foto 8 Summer Show at London’s HOST Gallery. As well as each entry appearing in the show’s published book, each photograph will be for sale to the public from the opening night and throughout the exhibition, and of course each and every exhibit will be in with the chance to win either the ‘Best in Show’ category or the ‘People’s Choice’, both highly sort after and respected prizes in the industry.


Dougie Wallace (2008 Winner of ‘Best in Show’)


Guido Castagnoli (2008 Winner of ‘People’s Choice’)

Whereas the Best in Show is awarded by an elite team of experts in the field, including The Times’ Director of Photography Graham Wood and the V&A’s Head of Images Andrea Stern, and entails a £1500 reward, the People’s Choice will be determined by public visitors to the show and in many respects is a more coveted title, given that each exhibitor’s work must speak to those with perhaps a less trained eye for artistic and technical merit, and must rely on more personal and emotional responses from the everyday spectator.


Domenico Pugliese (2009 Entry)

The brief for prospective entrants was simple. They seek images that challenge and engage, convey stories and raise questions. They state that they ‘encourage free expression’ and ‘new ways of seeing and telling’, also adding that they value photography ‘that conveys feeling as much as fact.’ The entry requirements allow for up to three submitted images per person, and the submissions look set to be as diverse and varied as 2008′s collections were.


Rachel Bevis (2009 Entry)

Being the biased art appreciators that we are, there is already a winner of an entry in our opinion, an image that stands out for us and will be certainly receiving the ‘Amelia’s Choice’ award at the opening on Friday evening. ‘Marie’ by semi-professional London based photographer Rachel Bevis commands our attention and holds our gaze. At first seeming to be a mono-chrome image of a lone figure at night, on second appreciation is actually a wintery street scene in which a female is immersed in falling snow. Mysterious, evocative and powerful this photograph is one we cannot tire of looking at. Best of luck Miss Bevis.

Who will you be exercising your democratic rights and voting for?

Foto8 Summer Show
HOST Gallery
1 Honduras Street
London, EC1Y 0TH

24th July: Opening Night Party
6:30pm – 11:30pm

Tickets: £5 in advance, £8 on the door
Tickets available to buy here

24th July – 5th September
Opening times:
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm
Sat 11am-4pm


Kurt Tong (2009 Entry)
One of the organisations we’ve been following of late at Amelia’s Magazine is the Ethical Fashion Forum. Springing up in 2004 following the concerns made famous in the international press during the 1990s – sweatshop working, information pills terrible wages and mass environmental damage – a group of designers decided to do something about it by raising awareness. Liasing with over 400 designers, fashion brands and other fashion businesses, the EFF connects people who want to promote a sustainable future for the fashion industry; this includes creating safe working environments and increasing wages in oft-exploited third world countries, as well as encouraging minimal environmental damage. Closely tied to this venture is the Fair Trade Foundation – pinpointing exactly how topical a sustainable fashion industry has become in recent years alongside the massive interest in Fair Trade products.

Earlier in the year EFF launched it’s biannual “Innovation” competition for designers, the first being PURE, rewarding and recognising those who have shown innovation (!) and initiative regarding the greater good of the fashion world. The shortlist of competitors was announced last month, and gave publicity to an assortment of passionate designers who are keen to support a sustainable and ethical fashion future through their business strategies and design work. The competition hopes to raise awareness of the EFF’s goals and views by rewarding those who have shown similar ethical principles to itself, whilst at the same time inspiring this generation of designers to work together for a better future. The overused cliché of “green is the new black” really seems to be ringing true at EFF!

This years shortlist of 12 included designers from all over the world, all excited to promote the EFF message; those from or working in South Africa, Malawi, India, China and North America were all on show, with a good percentage of designers working in poverty-stricken Third World countries. The designers largely sourced their materials from traditional industries all over the world, and particularly in struggling areas, as shown by this quick survey of the territories they work within. Others are supporting local industries within the UK, such as crofting in the Scottish Highlands. Each were judged on their collection’s overall design and finish, their brand ethics, and their sale-ability, by a panel including Anna Orsini, head of London Fashion Week, Donna Wallace of ELLE magazine, alongside other senior fashion journalists and lecturers.

So who came up trumps in the end? Being selected to show at the PURE trade show, the winners were Cape Town brand Lalesso, and MIA, another African working in Malawi. Lalesso was a clear box-ticker: initially set up to provide a “socially responsible method of manufacturing”.



Designing clothes based on East African traditions and current trends, the label aids struggling unemployment by providing well-paid work for several different groups, from the unskilled ‘beach boys’ to the traditionally skilled Masaai tradesmen. The clothes are vibrant, fun and youthful, including patterned prom dresses and casual beach wear, showcasing typical laidback African style tailored for a fashion-conscious audience who care.

MIA was an equally obvious winner. Recycling vintage pieces is no new idea; however MIA has taken this to new lengths with her remade clothing. Using second- hand streetwear combined with traditional Malawian dress, she has created designs that are thoroughly modern, embracing the current fascination with all things retro and uniquely individual.


MIA’s message is to embrace our wardrobes and recycle them in order to prevent such widespread textile waste in the way that we recycle food packaging and other products in the new millennium. She’s another designer interested in the capacities of upcycled clothing, and is keen to promote change with her range of smock style mini dresses combining different materials in their zig-zag skirts.

Some of the other candidates we were keen on included Henrietta Ludgate, a Central Saint Martins graduate and Scottish designer hailing from the Highlands.


Embracing her Highland roots, this designer used crofting techniques in her collections in a way that has not been seen in recent years, supporting local industries with her work. Crofting involves reusing excess waste material from mills as part of a small community of workers who all support each other.

A similar idea can be seen with Outsider, who support the oft-abused textile industries in China and India through sourcing organic fabrics and providing fair labour conditions and wages, true to the EFF message. Stating that “we believe ethical fashion should just look like fashion” these designers are certainly up there with the best of the bunch.


Their latest collection featured reworked classic shapes with pleat detailing and simple lines, all in sophisticated black, with the main focus of the design work being on the use of sustainable fabrics to inspire confidence in what we’re wearing and how it is sustaining the fashion industry globally.

Coming up in September will be the Esethetica awards when more winners will be announced – what did you make of the shortlist and did you agree with the winners? Let us know!

Monday 27th July
Coco Electrik- Pure Groove, help London

On it as we generally are, hospital we included Coco Electrik in our magazine a while back. Fun poppy danceable electro with a surreal twist.


Tuesday 28th
First Aid Kit – The Lexington, London

We love First Aid Kit and their oddball folk complete with tinkling harmonies, and they carried of their set at Climate Camp Glastonbury with aplomb I hear. Support comes from Blue Roses, whom I’ve known of for a while under her “day-to-day” name Laura Groves, her music is achingly delicate and beautiful.


Wednesday 29th July
Simian Mobile Disco- Roundhouse, London

Simian Mobile Disco have been shimmying their way into our hearts and minds for a while now. Funky and exuberant, their latest release features vocals from Alexis Taylor and Beth Ditto


Thursday 30th July
Maps – Hoxton Bar and Grill, London

I would definitely put Maps‘ lo-fi bedroom electronica on my “Top 3 Things To Do With Maps” List alongside every indie schmindie’s make-out song of choice by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and actual maps which are great. A must for fans of Low and My Bloody Valentine.


Friday 31st July
Left With PicturesBush Hall, London

Left With Pictures is a whirling mix of vocal harmonising, melodicas, violins…the whole shebang. It’s quite exciting and suprising to listen to and more than a little bit evocative of another era. Lovely stuff!


Saturday 1st August
Field Day– Victoria Park, London

Ahh London’s favourite festival returns, highlights include the mighty Mogwai, Final Fanatsy, Four Tet and Fanfarlo.


Sometimes, discount the maxim that “two heads are better than one”, page certainly rings true. Well, check never has this been more appropriate than with dynamic design partners in crime, Siamese duo, Fanny and Jessy, the East London pair causing a stir on the design scene at the moment. Having recently graduated from the London College of Fashion, these young designers have set about refusing to pigeonhole their collections into trends or even genders, preferring to leave it all unisex. How Judith Butler would have approved!


The new collection, cheekily named “I hope you die soon”, features designs that are something of a cross between Donnie Darko and Topshop Unique. Think fringing, fraying, and rippling, pod shapes, skinny fit leggings and rock star fur. Imagine Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler raiding David Bowie‘s wardrobe; its rock’n’roll mixed with futuristic meets minimalistic; it’s a bit special indeed! Inspired in their own words, by music, art, film and life, the collection is something of an exception to trends of the moment. There’s no hint of these clothes fitting into a Vogue run-down of current catwalk trends emergent this season.


Featuring cut out, holey leggings paired with cocoon-like tops with shoulder padding, shape and volume are a clear focus of the collection. Pod- like hoods and wide wide wide, sharp, triangular shoulder pads sculpt the tops, or only collars are left with no top to speak of! One constant is the shock or avant garde factor, alongside of course the extreme precision and talent that has gone in to combining so many different shapes and effects in a way that isn’t garish or over the top. The collection is very balanced in a Gemini like way. Must be the dual influence.


The different photo shoots capturing the collection also serve to capture its different facets. Mark Cant‘s photography delineates the beautiful precision of the pieces with his optical illusions of blurring motion in black and white – whereas Christopher James’ pictures evoke the Hoxton art student feel, which was clearly a subconscious influence on the designers as students of East London.


The models ride bicycles and lean against Brick Lane-esque graffiti scenes to give the clothes a really modern ‘James Dean‘ rebel feel. Ellie Scott too focuses on the youthful vibrancy of the pieces combined with an urban backdrop featuring railway arches and garages, even including a matching mottled car. The designers clearly knew when working with these photographers that the ideas behind their clothing would not be lost.



The pair have unsurprisingly gathered something of a cult following, largely as a result of their collaborations with other artistic projects (as seen with their impeccable taste in fashion photographers). ‘Collaboration’ is a key word for these designers, it seems. Having worked with artist/film maker Danny Sangra on the logo of the label, the duo set about making a short film of the new collection released this month. The film perfectly captures the ethos of “I hope you die soon”. Featuring flashing torch light and heavy drum and bass, the jilting camera follows models stepping in and out of the spot light before beginning to dance. The underground, dirty basement setting adds scare factor, whilst also appealing to that underworld art student vibe of the collection, like a secret drum and bass rave.

Stepping back, you can see that Fanny and Jessy’s combined talents manifest themselves in a holistic sense, since they can be seen throughout not just the collection but also the promotional artwork surrounding it. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Hackey Wicked Festival

Various Locations in Hackney Wick
1st August – 2nd August
Free Entry

Photo by Margaret Stone

Hackney has for a while now been a hub of new exciting art activity. In celebration of the localised talent Hackey Wicked is back this year and according to NY Arts Magazine is ‘the most vital art event of the Summer’. Covering all bases of creativity there will be a live Graffiti Jam, order outdoor film screenings, sildenafil workshops, flash mob punk choir, a raffle even a floating gallery, as well as open studios around the E9 area, details of which can be found on their site here.

Saturday 1 August
12.00pm – 10.00pm
Famous artist will cut the ribbon at noon

Hackney WickED’s OFFICIAL Art Fete with Artist-run Stalls, Live Art, Infatigable Decima Travelling Shop, Bribery Stall, Dog Races, Mobile Galleries, Games and Prizes, Raffle, Vintage Fashion, Bric-a-brac, Books and Records Food Stalls, Credit Crunch ‘n’ Fun and Hackney WickED Live Music Stage.

Sunday 2 August
12.30pm – 10.00pm
Closing Party along the Canal, Wallis Road, E9

The festival will be closing with a massive soiree and BBQ during Harry Meadow’s Coracle Regatta at 2pm, Watercolour Challenge, projections on the Olympic Fence, boat rides and Burning of the Wicker Man at dusk.


Vauxhall Skate

Secret Shoreditch Location
July 29th
8pm – late


“Vauxhall will be pushing the conventions of roller disco to another level this summer with their Vauxhall Skate event, which promises to take us on a journey through a 21st century vision of the future where 70s disco meets Knight Rider on roller skates. If the time travelling journey fails, at the very least, guests will get to enjoy the skating joys of their truly weird but wonderful Vauxhall Corsa roller skates.

DJs Remi Nicole, Alfie Allen, Carl Barat, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Smash and Grab’s DJ duo Queens of Noize will be manning the decks for the night. The Queens will also be bringing in Florence Welch from Florence and The Machine (who they manage and art direct) for a guest DJ spot. Other than the vehicle skates, there will be distractions a-plenty involving cakes, dressing up and hair styling. Jonny Woo will be hosting a ‘car-aroke’ complete with dressing-up props. A car pit-stop hair salon with free styling from Lyndell Mansfield, who’s currently working with The Gossip. Skaters can make energy pit stops at the hot dogs and cup cakes stands and Kate Moross has also been working on a special four-wheeled piece of art that will be on display.

Dazed and Vauxhall have partnered up to give away 35 pairs of free tickets for the roller skate extravaganza. Just click here to enter your email address to enter.”


Rankin Live

Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
E1 6QL
London E1 6QL

31st July – 18th September
Daily 10am-8pm
Thursday until 10pm
Tickets: £10/£7


You may have seen the huge black and white posters around in the last couple of weeks asking innocent passersby whether they ‘fancy a quick Rank?’ Well, the answer is a very definite ‘yes’ from us. The week is the opening of the hotly awaited Rankin Live exhibition, the first ever retrospective of the world renowned photographer Ian Rankin’s work covering an impressive 22 year career. To add a participatory element to the show, ‘Shoot Me, Rankin!’ is offering 1000 member of the public the chance to be captured by the man himself and for their portraits to instantly become part of the exhibition.


Association of Illustrators: Images 33

London College of Communication
Elephant & Castle
London SE1 6SB

29th July – 12th August

Weekdays: 10 – 5pm
Saturdays: 10 – 4pm
Closed Sundays
Free Entry

Image: Daniel Pudles’s dramatic editorial image Latitude, Leonard And The Mob

“The Association of Illustrators (AOI) are proud to present Images 33 – the best of British contemporary illustration 2009, the most prestigious and comprehensive illustration awards and exhibition in the UK today. On display are over 300 artworks showcasing the incredible talents of illustrators who have made a significant contribution to their industry over the last year.”


Iconography of Masks

Resistance Gallery
265 Poyser Street
Bethnal Green
London E2 9RF

30th July – 2nd August
All Events Weekender Ticket: £15


From festish, to death, to superheroes and tribes, masks are widely used and interpreted by all sorts of cultures and communities. This weekend you are invited to join the Iconography Of Mask folks and the likes of Bonnie Baker, Charles of London, Suckadelic and Pam Glew in celebrating all things mask, including workshops in mask making and a masked fashion show with DJs and live music.

Thurs 30th July Art Opening Exhibition: 7pm. Free (donation to IOM trust)

Friday 31st July Live Art, Bands, Dj’s & Masked Fashion Shows: 9pm-2am. £5

Saturday 1st August Mask Making Workshops and Seminars: 2pm-7pm. £5

Saturday 1st August Hoodlovers Ball, Dj’s & Performances: 10pm-late am. £10


Elizabeth Peyton: Live Forever

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX

Until 10th September
Thursday: 11am–9pm
Free Entry


New York resident Elizabeth Peyton is showcasing 70 or so paintings, including depictions of historical figures such as Bonaparte, iconic figures she has been inspired by such as Frida Kahlo, and artists from her own generation such as Matthew Barney. Oil paint, watercolour, ink or pencil, Peyton’s small but perfectly formed portraits using a combination of ‘realism, luminous palette and a rhythmic energy of line’.



St Aloysius Social Club
21 Phoenix Rd

Saturday August 1st
1pm – 5pm


Craftwerk is a sale of affordable handmade goods including clothing, homewares and toys from London-based artists and craftspeople. There are Funky Finds swag bags for the first 50 arrivals; also cakes and sweets stalls, a bar and a raffle.’

Thumbnail by Nishant Choski
Monday 27th July

Agrofuels: The Miracle of Creative Carbon Accounting

Deepak Rugani explains the problems with simply replacing a fossil fuel economy with an agrofuels one. Agrofuels promise to cut carbon emissions, malady burning plant oils not fossil fuels. In fact, this is wrong – according to Friends of the Earth, they ‘often deliver poor greenhouse gas savings and some of them pose a threat to ecosystems that act as vital carbon sinks.’

6.30 pm – venue to be announced (more info : Campaign against Climate Change)

Illustrations by Sergio Membrillas

Tuesday 28th July

Workshops for Community Hydro Power

Water Power Enterprises, who specialise in community hydro power projects, are running some free workshops for community groups interested in setting up their own community-owned hydro schemes.

Friends of the Earth have previously worked with Water Power Enterprises to create their case study page for hydro power. They’ve also been involved with the Settle hydro project.

They’ve just won a national award with the Co-op for the ‘best’ collaborative venture regarding community hydro schemes. They’re looking to recuit more people to their workshops and I thought this worthwhile promoting. The workshops take place in Manchester and are scheduled for : July 28th, Sept 29th, Oct 29th, Nov 24th.

More information can be found at or call Steve Welsh on 01706 813663

Wednesday 29th July

The Big Green Gathering

The Big Green Gathering is a five day family camping event which concentrates on all aspects of sustainable living. It combines entertainment with environmental awareness. Various fields are devoted to different aspects of sustainable and alternative lifestyles. Children are well catered for.

Contact: Big Green Gathering P.O. Box 3423 Glastonbury BA6 9ZN – 01458 834629 – midday Wednesday to midnight Sunday – Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin, Somerset

Teddy Bear’s Picnic at RSPB Rainham Marshes

A special day at the Rainham marshes for the under 6′s. Bring your teddy and a picnic for a wondrous woodland adventure. Booking Essential. WEX members: £3.50, child non members: £5, adult members:
£1, adult non members: £3.50

Contact: – 01708 899840
11 am-1 pm – RSPB Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve, New Tank Hill Road, Purfleet. RM19 1SZ


Thursday 30th July

An Introduction to Transmission Meditation

Share International invite you to a simple group meditation providing both a dynamic service to the world and powerful, personal spiritual development.

Contact: 020 7482 1113
7-9pm – admission free – Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1

Friday 31st July

Living roofs

This course will look at the why, how and what of living roofs and living roof installation. There is growing interest in the use of green roofs on buildings, and also a growing number of people who wish to do part or all of the installation themselves, with the least possible impact on the environment (in terms of materials) and of course on the pocket.

The course will be run by John Little of The Grass Roof Company, and Dusty Gedge of and the Green Roof Consultancy.

Contact: Taryn 01296 714184
Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August


Saturday 1st August

Green Economics Institute Conference

The clash between ecology and economy. Transformation at a time of economic crisis. Women’s unequal pay and poverty stream. Intra-generational equity. And an international range of speakers from 20 countries including Prof Graciela Chichilnisky, Columbia University and Dr Joseph Halevi, University de Nice, Sydney University. This conference on Green Economics must be pre-registered, pre-paid (£89 per day, concessions £39).

Contact: Miriam Kennet, 01189 841 026 –
Mansfield College – Friday and Saturday

Sunday 2nd August

Green Sunday @ The Dalston Mill

A family day out this Green Sunday in partnership with the Barbican Art Gallery. All welcome, drop in anytime.

3pm – 5pm : Workshops and Activities – ecoACTIVE sculpture workshop for kids of all ages – creating natural forms out of unnatural materials. Bike MOT check, SwapShop, Homemade Toiletries and Cake Decorating workshops

5pm – 7.30pm : Evening Entertainment – Afro-Brazilian percussion and Capoeira – Angola-Kabula performance and workshop. VoiCE – a young, female a cappella trio.

Contact: Owen Calvert-Lyons –
Entrance to The Dalston Mill by the Peace Mural on Dalston Lane, between Ashwin Street and Hartwell Street, E8
For the past few years now since the release of Verses of Comfort and Reassurance, cheapest I’ve been biding my time until I’m invited to join Au Revoir Simone, generic I’ve practised looking fey at a keyboard and I’ve got the fringe and floaty dresses sorted. Having not yet received the invite I satiated my lustily illustrious day-dreams of touring the world, sick dinners with David Lynch (number 1 Au Revoir Simone fan and a reoccurring odd but loveable sort of uncle figure in the dreams) and having tea together in striped t-shirts; by going to Proud Galleries on Saturday to see them play. So if you’re reading Au Revoir Simone: Call Me!


First up though were Those Dancing Days, who simmered last summer with their single ‘Hitten’, a year on and now pushing the grand old age of 19, they have honed and matured their style a lot whilst retaining the fun exuberance of last year.


The mix of Linnea Jonsson’s strong voice, the swirling Hammond organs and heady keyboards show a homage to Northern Soul and a talent beyond their years. Add to that mix some hooky bass and excellent drumming and KA-BLAM you’ve got yourself a unique take on the average girl with guitar set-up and a totally enjoyable live act. The song ‘Those Dancing Days’ was standout, spinning into a dizzying crescendo as the show’s finale.


Au Revoir Simone quietly appear on stage, looking like the Lisbon sisters from the Virgin Suicides and assuming a rather Kraftwerk-ian set-up behind a line of keyboards.


This mix sort of sets a format for their show; an ethereal aesthetic grounded by musical ability and lots of gadgets.


Dressed in white, there is something rather ghostly and transparent about the girls, as a stream of surreal and dreamy images are projected onto them. They mostly play songs from their latest offering ‘Still Night, Still Light’ which is more synth heavy and creepy than their previous two albums.


The new material translates well live with songs like ‘Knight of Wands’ and ‘All or Nothing’ having a danceable crunchiness and thumping bass to them which was an exciting departure from their space-y mellowness of their studio work.


Unlike the dreamy spontaneity I had imagined; there was a definite structure to their arrangement as they bounce and refract of each other in a triangle of music, which was particularly lovely on old favourite ‘Sad Song’.


They were charming, surprising and entrancing in equal measure and if David Lynch is a fan then so am I!


Categories ,Au Revoir Simone, ,David Lynch, ,Drums, ,Electronica, ,Keyboard, ,Live, ,London, ,New York, ,Northern Soul, ,Pop, ,Sweden

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