Amelia’s Magazine | Los Campesinos! at Koko, Feb 25th – Live Review

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

From outside, look the Koko in Camden looks a bit like one of those Swiss clocks – the ones where a girl in lederhosen comes out on a rail every hour to strike the chime. The bare white front façade is broken only by the large ‘KOKO’ illumination and the two doors at either edge of the building which allow the audience access to the smoking balcony, generic and there’s a fair few of them pacing backwards and forwards. Imagining them as clockwork Bavarians is the kind of thing I find amusing. It passes the time, try waiting in the coffee place across the road for the rain to ease and the doors to open.

Los Campesinos! are a band that I’ve had to convince myself that I actually loved, because for a while I was in denial. As far as my last.fm statistics go they’ve been my favourite band of the last 18 months, and I even found myself buying a ticket for their latest tour as soon as physically able and not really being sure why. It always felt like some kind of weirdly innocuous indulgence that support groups put out literature for – y’know, you swear it’s not a big deal, you could walk away at any second, it doesn’t control your life, etc. etc., only to wake up one morning and realise that you’re deeply addicted and in trouble. It’s frightening to realise you’ve had a new favourite band for so long and not even realised.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Once inside the venue, I buy a drink and text my erstwhile companion, struck down with food poisoning. “I’m probably the oldest person here – where are the adults?“ I ask (and I’m only 22) – there’s a distinct whiff of Lynx in the air (at a guess: Africa). LC! are a bit of a joke to some people thanks to lead singer Gareth’s scribbled-journal lyrics, and frankly they’re right – they can be acutely embarrassing. I try to justify my love (my addiction, you could say) to my friends by being clever – they’re tongue-in-cheek, I say! The literal meaning is totally ironic, but the intent is still sincere! It never works. My first instinct, looking around the venue, is that these skinny, shy kids find Gareth endearing and sincere without any ironic pretension, which would be sweet and naïve if so. Or it could be seen as pathetic – sample lyric: “As if I walked into the room/to see my ex-girlfriend/who by the way I’m still in love with/sucking the face of some pretty boy/with my favourite band’s most popular song in the background/is it wrong that I can’t decide which bothers me most?” – but then ‘pathetic’ sounds so much like ‘pathos’ and I’m sure that their must be some kind of link or derivation at play there, because then there’s my excuse. The band excels at drawing out an emotional response in its audience.

As I’m trying to figure this out (I’m on my own, remember, so those kinds of thoughts are all I have to amuse myself – another excuse) the first bunch of musicians stroll on stage – it’s barely past eight, which leaves me thinking that I’ll probably be home and in slippers before eleven. But as for the band: the lead singer reminds me of Sinbad, and he starts wooping.

“Woop! … Woop! … Woop!” etc. – he’s jumped over the crowd barriers at this point, and is walking through the still-thin crowd, clearly sizing people up. Every now and again somebody will recoil, which I assume is because they assume that he’ll either a) want them to join in (poor, timid children), or b) eat their ears, because he’s mental. I think it’s hilarious. The rhythmic wooping is augmented by the rest of the band joining in with their instruments, using Sinbad as a metronome. They’re a four-piece – Sinbad, fringe girl, moustache guy, and Sweater (his sensible sky-blue knitwear is his most defining feature, I suppose) – and they blew me away. Rotating between instruments, chanting and howling, they managed to bridge the divide between the danceable electro-wash that I so admire in Holy Fuck or Gang Gang Dance and the careful racket of no-wave. One tune sounded like Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ shoved backwards through a plane turbine, i.e. sort of inverted by chopping it up into small pieces and reassembled with the bass brought forward and the optimistic chants turned into these awful, angry shouts… I was a total convert. Only by cornering Sinbad in the lobby afterwards did I manage to get their name – Islet. The internet tells me they’re from Cardiff, and they don’t like the internet, they have no recordings available for streaming or purchase (except this BBC live session), they have no website, they are entirely offline. The only way to experience Islet is as a live band, so go. See them live. They kick ass.

The break between the supports is short, and next on are somewhat-hyped London duo Swanton Bombs. To be fair to them, everything I’ve heard about their album has been positive (including a review on this very site), so I’m going to chalk their disappointing live presence up as unexpected. Every song reminded me of that nasty period in the early 00s when blues-rock groups were two-a-penny, where every song could be plotted on a chart with one axis labelled “Killing Floor“, and “Hey Joe” on the other. In short – it was dull, every song sounded the same, and Blood Red Shoes do this kind of thing with much more aplomb. I drifted out towards the back of the room and then upstairs, where I could fully appreciate how atrocious the Koko’s sound quality is for anyone not on the ground near the front – it’s an embarrassment for London, really, considering how much slack the place has had to take up now that the scuffed and glorious Astoria’s gone.

The audience of kids, mostly bored by what’s happened so far (Islet’s tribal antics went down like a civil servant in Downing Street), persists in ignoring whatever’s happening on stage. They’re very clearly only here for LC!, and it’s something of a relief that they come to life when the main act eventually makes an appearance – making me reassess my earlier assumption, that they were here out of a pathetic sincerity, as completely wrong. Namely: I was being pretentious and snobbish, and these kids just like how enjoyable a band LC! are – the lyrics are just plain funny, the music just plain fun, and whilst people like me with too much time on their hands (I blame my friend standing me up and leaving me to my own interior monologue) might debate the extent to which the band take this influence, or that level of twee irony, or said indebtedness to blah blah, this is bullshit. So I forgot about all that, and started jumping about with the rest of the mosh pit.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Gareth’s certainly a livelier presence than I expected (seeing as he can come across as a bit wet sometimes). Tonight he bounds around like an over-stimulated puppy, and keeps thanking everybody – his friends, their manager, the audience (I count seven separate breaks between songs where he thanks the fans), the venue, the tour promoter. It’s sweet. The set opens with the steamrolling “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know,” which is a bastard of a song, frankly. Their latest album is filled with these, how to say, crunchy numbers, loud and a bit ridiculous, and each one sounds like an anthem tonight – the crowd on ground alongside me is just a heaving sweaty coagulation of fists and smiles, right through the more recent tracks (“There Are Listed Building”, “A Heat Rash in the Shape of The Show Me State; Or, Letters from Me to Charlotte” (it is assumed that if you cannot abide this kind of ludicrous titling of songs then LC! are not a band for you)) to the classics of a couple of years ago (“My Year in Lists,” “This Is How You Spell ‘HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics’”).

One of the best things about seeing these guys live, though, was that their first album suddenly made a lot more sense. Their sound in the flesh isn’t hugely similar to their last two releases (‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ and this year’s ‘Romance Is Boring’), which were relatively crisp and clean to the ear – live, they sound like the horrible mistake that was the David Newfeld-produced debut ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’, where the levels were all over the place and the whole thing was a sorry soppy mess of a release that would stick to a wall if it was thrown at one and would congeal into just a bloody mass of nothing at the bottom. It was poorly produced, is what I’m saying. But hearing them tonight I suddenly realise that Newfeld had captured them as they actually sound, essentially that exact kind of mop bucket softness, without edges, without any definition to grab onto. They aren’t half as exciting on there as they are here because, well, that’s the nature of live music, but I have greater respect for the Broken Social Scene producer now I can understand his Sisyphean intentions.

The highlight for most people comes towards the end, when the band crack out the song that they will presumably still be ending their sets with in middle-age – “You! Me! Dancing!” – which I detest. It’s a horrible song. I don’t know why it grates when I enjoy everything else that they do so much, but there it is. However, in the interest of balance I’ll say that this once it was awesome because, well, it was. I’d never danced to it alongside a few hundred other people before and the sensation was not, shall we say, unpleasant. When the band left the stage it was the end of their largest headline show to date – despite their quirks, their oddities, their introspection and their glee, I fully expect them to be playing even larger venues within a very short time indeed. They are the biggest and best niche group around. To hell with thought – it’s my gut that wants to see them again as soon as possible.

Categories ,camden, ,cardiff, ,headline tour, ,hold on now, ,islet, ,koko, ,london, ,Los Campesinos, ,romance is boring, ,septet, ,seven, ,swanton bombs, ,we are beautiful, ,we are doomed, ,you me dancing, ,youngster

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Amelia’s Magazine | Los Campesinos! at Koko, Feb 25th – Live Review

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

From outside, look the Koko in Camden looks a bit like one of those Swiss clocks – the ones where a girl in lederhosen comes out on a rail every hour to strike the chime. The bare white front façade is broken only by the large ‘KOKO’ illumination and the two doors at either edge of the building which allow the audience access to the smoking balcony, generic and there’s a fair few of them pacing backwards and forwards. Imagining them as clockwork Bavarians is the kind of thing I find amusing. It passes the time, try waiting in the coffee place across the road for the rain to ease and the doors to open.

Los Campesinos! are a band that I’ve had to convince myself that I actually loved, because for a while I was in denial. As far as my last.fm statistics go they’ve been my favourite band of the last 18 months, and I even found myself buying a ticket for their latest tour as soon as physically able and not really being sure why. It always felt like some kind of weirdly innocuous indulgence that support groups put out literature for – y’know, you swear it’s not a big deal, you could walk away at any second, it doesn’t control your life, etc. etc., only to wake up one morning and realise that you’re deeply addicted and in trouble. It’s frightening to realise you’ve had a new favourite band for so long and not even realised.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Once inside the venue, I buy a drink and text my erstwhile companion, struck down with food poisoning. “I’m probably the oldest person here – where are the adults?“ I ask (and I’m only 22) – there’s a distinct whiff of Lynx in the air (at a guess: Africa). LC! are a bit of a joke to some people thanks to lead singer Gareth’s scribbled-journal lyrics, and frankly they’re right – they can be acutely embarrassing. I try to justify my love (my addiction, you could say) to my friends by being clever – they’re tongue-in-cheek, I say! The literal meaning is totally ironic, but the intent is still sincere! It never works. My first instinct, looking around the venue, is that these skinny, shy kids find Gareth endearing and sincere without any ironic pretension, which would be sweet and naïve if so. Or it could be seen as pathetic – sample lyric: “As if I walked into the room/to see my ex-girlfriend/who by the way I’m still in love with/sucking the face of some pretty boy/with my favourite band’s most popular song in the background/is it wrong that I can’t decide which bothers me most?” – but then ‘pathetic’ sounds so much like ‘pathos’ and I’m sure that their must be some kind of link or derivation at play there, because then there’s my excuse. The band excels at drawing out an emotional response in its audience.

As I’m trying to figure this out (I’m on my own, remember, so those kinds of thoughts are all I have to amuse myself – another excuse) the first bunch of musicians stroll on stage – it’s barely past eight, which leaves me thinking that I’ll probably be home and in slippers before eleven. But as for the band: the lead singer reminds me of Sinbad, and he starts wooping.

“Woop! … Woop! … Woop!” etc. – he’s jumped over the crowd barriers at this point, and is walking through the still-thin crowd, clearly sizing people up. Every now and again somebody will recoil, which I assume is because they assume that he’ll either a) want them to join in (poor, timid children), or b) eat their ears, because he’s mental. I think it’s hilarious. The rhythmic wooping is augmented by the rest of the band joining in with their instruments, using Sinbad as a metronome. They’re a four-piece – Sinbad, fringe girl, moustache guy, and Sweater (his sensible sky-blue knitwear is his most defining feature, I suppose) – and they blew me away. Rotating between instruments, chanting and howling, they managed to bridge the divide between the danceable electro-wash that I so admire in Holy Fuck or Gang Gang Dance and the careful racket of no-wave. One tune sounded like Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ shoved backwards through a plane turbine, i.e. sort of inverted by chopping it up into small pieces and reassembled with the bass brought forward and the optimistic chants turned into these awful, angry shouts… I was a total convert. Only by cornering Sinbad in the lobby afterwards did I manage to get their name – Islet. The internet tells me they’re from Cardiff, and they don’t like the internet, they have no recordings available for streaming or purchase (except this BBC live session), they have no website, they are entirely offline. The only way to experience Islet is as a live band, so go. See them live. They kick ass.

The break between the supports is short, and next on are somewhat-hyped London duo Swanton Bombs. To be fair to them, everything I’ve heard about their album has been positive (including a review on this very site), so I’m going to chalk their disappointing live presence up as unexpected. Every song reminded me of that nasty period in the early 00s when blues-rock groups were two-a-penny, where every song could be plotted on a chart with one axis labelled “Killing Floor“, and “Hey Joe” on the other. In short – it was dull, every song sounded the same, and Blood Red Shoes do this kind of thing with much more aplomb. I drifted out towards the back of the room and then upstairs, where I could fully appreciate how atrocious the Koko’s sound quality is for anyone not on the ground near the front – it’s an embarrassment for London, really, considering how much slack the place has had to take up now that the scuffed and glorious Astoria’s gone.

The audience of kids, mostly bored by what’s happened so far (Islet’s tribal antics went down like a civil servant in Downing Street), persists in ignoring whatever’s happening on stage. They’re very clearly only here for LC!, and it’s something of a relief that they come to life when the main act eventually makes an appearance – making me reassess my earlier assumption, that they were here out of a pathetic sincerity, as completely wrong. Namely: I was being pretentious and snobbish, and these kids just like how enjoyable a band LC! are – the lyrics are just plain funny, the music just plain fun, and whilst people like me with too much time on their hands (I blame my friend standing me up and leaving me to my own interior monologue) might debate the extent to which the band take this influence, or that level of twee irony, or said indebtedness to blah blah, this is bullshit. So I forgot about all that, and started jumping about with the rest of the mosh pit.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Gareth’s certainly a livelier presence than I expected (seeing as he can come across as a bit wet sometimes). Tonight he bounds around like an over-stimulated puppy, and keeps thanking everybody – his friends, their manager, the audience (I count seven separate breaks between songs where he thanks the fans), the venue, the tour promoter. It’s sweet. The set opens with the steamrolling “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know,” which is a bastard of a song, frankly. Their latest album is filled with these, how to say, crunchy numbers, loud and a bit ridiculous, and each one sounds like an anthem tonight – the crowd on ground alongside me is just a heaving sweaty coagulation of fists and smiles, right through the more recent tracks (“There Are Listed Building”, “A Heat Rash in the Shape of The Show Me State; Or, Letters from Me to Charlotte” (it is assumed that if you cannot abide this kind of ludicrous titling of songs then LC! are not a band for you)) to the classics of a couple of years ago (“My Year in Lists,” “This Is How You Spell ‘HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics’”).

One of the best things about seeing these guys live, though, was that their first album suddenly made a lot more sense. Their sound in the flesh isn’t hugely similar to their last two releases (‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ and this year’s ‘Romance Is Boring’), which were relatively crisp and clean to the ear – live, they sound like the horrible mistake that was the David Newfeld-produced debut ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’, where the levels were all over the place and the whole thing was a sorry soppy mess of a release that would stick to a wall if it was thrown at one and would congeal into just a bloody mass of nothing at the bottom. It was poorly produced, is what I’m saying. But hearing them tonight I suddenly realise that Newfeld had captured them as they actually sound, essentially that exact kind of mop bucket softness, without edges, without any definition to grab onto. They aren’t half as exciting on there as they are here because, well, that’s the nature of live music, but I have greater respect for the Broken Social Scene producer now I can understand his Sisyphean intentions.

The highlight for most people comes towards the end, when the band crack out the song that they will presumably still be ending their sets with in middle-age – “You! Me! Dancing!” – which I detest. It’s a horrible song. I don’t know why it grates when I enjoy everything else that they do so much, but there it is. However, in the interest of balance I’ll say that this once it was awesome because, well, it was. I’d never danced to it alongside a few hundred other people before and the sensation was not, shall we say, unpleasant. When the band left the stage it was the end of their largest headline show to date – despite their quirks, their oddities, their introspection and their glee, I fully expect them to be playing even larger venues within a very short time indeed. They are the biggest and best niche group around. To hell with thought – it’s my gut that wants to see them again as soon as possible.

Categories ,camden, ,cardiff, ,headline tour, ,hold on now, ,islet, ,koko, ,london, ,Los Campesinos, ,romance is boring, ,septet, ,seven, ,swanton bombs, ,we are beautiful, ,we are doomed, ,you me dancing, ,youngster

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Best Christmas Indie Tunes of 2016: Listen to them all HERE!

hannah-epperson-christmas-tune
It’s nearly Christmas so it must be time for my annual round up of beautiful, interesting, weird and fantastical seasonal tunes, many located this year via Twitter. If you’re reading this in years to come, do get in touch and tell me about your tune so I can include it! That’s what San Diego band Pony Death Ride did a few months back.


Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas was actually released last year and features in the Pony Death Ride annual Christmas show. Look away if you are easily offended, it takes a kooky (and not entirely generous) look at those always tricky family dynamics. Boy can I relate.


Moving on, Low have come up with a gorgeous lilting song that celebrates friendship, Some Hearts (at Christmas Time). I appreciate my true friends more than ever at this time of year.


I love this song by LA based electro singer songwriter Andrew Belle. Back For Christmas is featured on A Very RELEVANT Christmas, Vol. 6, for cool young Christians.


Released in aid of Human Appeal, Christmas Number One (On My Own) by the Raglans continues in the grand tradition of charity singles. It’s a plea to consider the plight of others, with proceeds going to help people in war torn areas. A worthy cause if ever there was one.


An Old Fashioned Christmas Song by Les Bicyclettes de Belsize is a jaunty tune.


If you love your 80s vibes you’ll love You Bring the Snow by The Crookes, complete with fake retro video and subtitles. Dance along to it after one too many sherries.


Featuring an eerily similar knowingly retro video, Christmas Without Snow is by Neon Dreams from Canada. It sounds a bit rave, and more than a bit like Coldplay.


For more 80s electro vibes look no further than This Fucking Time Of Year by Charles Cave, this time with original 80s footage from a family Christmas in Pennsylvania. He says “I think it is every musician’s duty to have a stab at a Christmas song, if only once. The festive season is full of all the emotions that fuel the best songwriting at all other times of the year, so digging into those complicated family dynamics, the bleak weather, the reflecting of the year gone by can be hugely inspiring for an emotive pop song.”

All these 80s vibes resonate with me because I was a child of the 80s, and I also spent quite a few Christmases in the USA, so it all feels (un)comfortably familiar. At one time we lived on a road fondly nicknamed Christmas Tree Lane, where each house competed for extravagant Christmas decorations in the front gardens. We never drew the curtains and I remember that at dinner time I felt like I was living in a dolls house with crowds of people peering in. But I digress…


The Stars Are Made Of Mistletoe is a typical indie Christmas tune by Maylee Todd & Steve Singh, featuring cutesy female vocals and sleigh bells.


Best Coast have released this lovely Beach Boys-esque holiday tune, Christmas and Everyday, which features in the movie An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas.

An exciting new discovery for me this year is the second annual playlist compilation available exclusively from Amazon Music on Prime. Indie for the Holidays features some absolute corkers, some of which are listed below.

Los Campesinos! contribute When Christmas Comes (Boxing Day Version).

I love the sweetly harmonising voices of Joseph in Sister Winter.

Hear Holiday Road by Tennis here:

There are also a few good tunes available on Amazon from their Acoustic Christmas playlist:

Trampled by Turtles sing about Christmas In Prison.

Train contribute I Miss You, Christmas.

Jon McDevitt takes on the mysteries of Father Christmas in his new single, featuring a driving beat and jaunty fiddle. A bittersweet reflection on the real nature of Santa. Listen here as it can’t be streamed elsewhere.


Emma-Lee gives us a sparkling pop song with It Won’t Be Christmas, which owes more than a little debt to Mariah Carey.


Natalie Prass takes a lo-fi approach to the video for Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time) – an ode to the troubled world we find ourselves living in and the difficulty many are having in getting into the Christmas spirit this year.

I absolutely adore this echo-ey electro-pop version of the ancient carol O Holy Night by Nat Jay + Cookie Cartel. Listen to O Holy Night here.


Lastly, Hannah Epperson gives us an experimental Christmas tune in the form of White Flag, which she describes as her “post-apocalyptic Christmas single”, here paired with her simplified version of White Christmas.

With thanks to Andrea Warner for my Canadian finds. Read her original article here. I hope you enjoy listening to these alternative Christmas ditties! A very Merry Christmas all xxx

Categories ,Acoustic Christmas, ,Amazon Music, ,An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas, ,An Old Fashioned Christmas Song, ,Andrea Warner, ,Andrew Belle, ,Best Coast, ,Charles Cave, ,Christmas and Everyday, ,Christmas In Prison, ,Christmas Indie Songs, ,Christmas Music, ,Christmas Number One (On My Own), ,Christmas Tree Lane, ,Christmas tunes, ,Christmas Without Snow, ,Emma Lee, ,Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time), ,Father Christmas, ,Hannah Epperson, ,Holiday Road, ,Human Appeal, ,I Miss You Christmas, ,Indie for the Holidays, ,It Won’t Be Christmas, ,Jon McDevitt, ,Joseph, ,Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, ,Los Campesinos, ,low, ,Maylee Todd & Steve Singh, ,Nat Jay + Cookie Cartel, ,Natalie Prass, ,Neon Dreams, ,Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas, ,O Holy Night, ,Playlist, ,Pony Death Ride, ,Raglans, ,Sister Winter, ,Some Hearts (at Christmas Time), ,Tennis, ,The Crookes, ,The Stars Are Made Of Mistletoe, ,This Fucking Time Of Year, ,Train, ,Trampled by Turtles, ,When Christmas Comes, ,White Christmas, ,White Flag, ,You Bring the Snow

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Amelia’s Magazine | Review: Dot-to-Dot Festival 2010, Nottingham


Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova

Animal Bandido are a fashion label with a difference. They’re totally anti-establishment and detest the omniprescent multi-national fashion empires that exploit workers and fabrics, price case and are on a mission to create a renaissance for struggling manufacturers who cannot compete with the big boys.

Their collections range from the vibrant to the downright whacky; weird and wonderful creations which illustrate fruits and other objects make up there range, pharm which includes knitwear, fabulous graphic prints and casual basics with a twist. Viewing their collections draws comparisons to Jean Charles de Castelbajac, nutty nu-raver Carri Mundane and knitwear brand Sibling. I caught up with Zosen and Claudia, aka Animal Bandido, to find out what’s behind this fresh new label…

What made you guys team up and create the street-wear label Animal Bandido?
Claudia: We started to talk about this project in September 2007. I finished studying fashion design a year before that. I was designing my own collections, doing super-limited editions that I sewed on my own.
At the beginning I was sceptical because I had collaborated on projects before, and most of the time it’s very difficult to agree with the ideas of other people. I thought I’d give this one a go because our backgrounds are different, each of us bringing different ideas and ways of working.
Zosen: I printed my designs on t-shirts for years and I collaborated with fashion designers, but I wanted to go forward producing other garments and control the process. Animal Bandido was born to make something in collaboration and use different techniques; Claudia brings her experience with the patterns and fashion design and I with the graphics and design in general.
But, day-to-day, we both take part in every process.


Spring/Summer 2009

What does the label represent for you?
The label represents other way to create pieces and to show our stuff to as many people possible.

Zosen, you are a well known urban artist in Barcelona. What made you move into fashion?
After the zero tolerance law against street art in Barcelona, I decided to use another techniques to spread the word. Using my graphics and colours on clothes, it’s another way to have a presence on the street and give the message to the street’s citizens.
Also, it’s interesting for me to experiment with other media and other people – it’s a great way to learn.


Autumn/Winter 2010

Claudia, tell us more about your background, in fashion?
I studied a degree in Fashion Design in Barcelona and then studied millinery at Central Saint Martins in London, followed by jewellery workshops at Casa Espiral, Barcelona.
I interned with Alberto Tous for his fashion show for Barcelona Fashion Week, and then began designing my own collections and selling them in little shops in Barcelona and Berlin.

What makes you different to big fashion corporations?
Well, there’s only two of us! There are no hierarchies; we work together and are both involved in everything, all the time. We produce everything locally, we pay worthy salaries, and we keep our manufacturing quantities reasonable to avoid waste.


Illustration by Natsuki Otani

Do you think your label is art or fashion led?
Our clothes are fashion, but treated as small pieces of art. We don’t follow the trends or encourage throwaway fashion, as the corporate giants do. We create and manufacture to order (for shops and customers) again to reduce waste.

Do you usually agree on everything? How easy is it to compromise when working as a creative partnership?
Claudia: It depends on the project, normally we just discuss everything thoroughly, allowing both of us to express our point of view. Sometimes Zosen is forced agree with me when we are talking about patterns and shapes or different ways of finishing a garment, but he controls more in graphic and web design!
We always try to be equally satisfied with everything related to the brand.


Autumn/Winter 2010

Do you experiment with anything else apart from clothes?
Zosen: Oh yes! We do many things, the most recent thing being a sculpture to present the new collection, that we installed in our studio to photograph the collection against.
It’s huge and gives so much new life to our studio that we are hoping to relocate it to some public space.
Claudia: Zosen always has a million and one projects on the go: a giant mural for the people on walls in London, an exhibition of customised records in Rome…
Now I’m coming up with a few surprises for September for Animal Bandido.


Illustration by Yuann Shen

What does Animal Bandido support?
We support the national textile industry in Spain, as opposed to the over-production and the exploitation of the third world. We pay people fairly. We’re behind a renaissance of the companies that became obsolete as a result of insurmountable production levels in third world countries; we want to give the possibility of growth to small companies so it’s not just the yucky multinationals that dominate the local market.

What makes Animal Bandido unique?
Our fabrics have our own original and unique designs printed on them. We make no more than 100 items per piece, so they are truly limited edition. When you consider that we now sell in Basel, New York, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Zaragoza, Sweden and Nottingham and our pieces are divided between those places, there aren’t many per country.


Autumn/Winter 2010

What’s up next for Animal Bandido?
For the summer we’re launching printed bikinis and swimwear; lightweight hoodies using prints from the collection and a new, retro-inspired one. We’re also looking at launching accessories.

Another year, seek another bank holiday at the start of the summer, sale and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, sickness a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive centrally-located indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly failed to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

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Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

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Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother with a description when I can offer a demonstration:

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Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

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The second of my 50-50 choices then arrived, as Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

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It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

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I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

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Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

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Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Categories ,Alternative, ,Annual, ,beach fossils, ,Beach House, ,Blood Red Shoes, ,bristol, ,casiokids, ,Chillwave, ,Dot to Dot, ,festival, ,Frontiers, ,Indie, ,islet, ,liars, ,Los Campesinos, ,manchester, ,Memory Tapes, ,nottingham, ,punk, ,small black, ,The Cheek, ,Washed Out, ,Wild Beasts, ,yuck

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Amelia’s Magazine | Festival Preview: Truck

‘Glass Gun 2′ by Julie Hill

A couple of days ago my housemate returned home bursting with a tale that he’d been carrying around with him all day. What he had witnessed on his well-trodden route to work that morning had seemed to pervade the conditioned air of his office in the hours that followed, mind reruns of the scene played out in windowpane reflections and on the inside of mid-blink eyelids. He had been inspired.

‘Breath Should Be Held’ by Julie Hill

The action that had my friend so roused wasn’t overtly political. Nor was it spectacularly en-masse. It was a man. Alone. Dancing at 8am in the centre of one of Bristol city centre’s busiest junctions, stuff multiple lanes of traffic whirring around unrestrained flying limbs like mechanical rings of chorus girls, capsule their metallic bodywork sparkling.

The root of this act, and the results of it, we can only guess at. Was his rush hour spinning a signal that the rest of us should slow down? A statement on the vulnerability of the pedestrian or the mindlessness of the daily grind? Maybe he just fancied a dance.

CRASH at Artsadmin: experimenting with sustainable alternatives to financial and ecological crises CRASH at Artsadmin: experimenting with sustainable alternatives to financial and ecological crises

As my friend’s impassioned regaling of the scene evidenced, whatever its grounds, form or situation, art is an enormously affecting class of action. And it’s being increasingly embraced as a method of political expression beyond homemade banners or gallery walls, because we can all be arts activists. The only thing that’s required is a little imagination.

Image courtesy of Artsadmin: ‘Quantitative Teasing- A benchmark in post-capitalism’

Two artist activists are on hand later this month to help spark that imagination via Interference, a free five-day workshop to encourage people to develop new ways of working collectively to make a difference to the causes they care about. Beth Whelan (who last year played a large part in the Mainshull Solidarity Camp) and Julie Hill will be working with participants to develop art-related strategies for both acting towards and reacting against change, using such tools as story-telling and myth making, climbing and reclaiming public space, urban foraging, self-publishing and night biking. Interference runs from 21st to 25th June at Artsadmin’s Toynbee Studios in London, but is limited to just 20 places, so if you want one of them Artsadmin asks that you write a short paragraph explaining why you want to get involved, and send it to heather@artsadmin.co.uk.

Beth Whelan at CRASH

Open to people from all backgrounds and experiences, Interference is an invitation to those who want to go beyond just thinking about change; to act via art to be part of, or begin, an empowering, engaging and positive political movement. You never know, it might even be one that stops traffic.

Turning our attention to the smaller independent festivals, page we are thrilled to be featuring Truck, help an event with an impeccable reputation and massive good will behind it. There are so many things that we like about Truck, we could practically list its attributes alphabetically. But for those who are scratching their heads in befuddlement, and wondering who and what this curiously monikered event is, the most important fact to learn about Truck is that it has the ethos and sensibility of a village fete and combines this with a cutting edge musical policy to create a unique and highly personalised festival that is head and shoulders above many of its contemporaries.

Truck has a much deserved reputation of having an eagle eye for upcoming talent. In recent years, bands such as Foals, Young Knives, Fuck Buttons, Get CapeWild Beasts and Fanfarlo have all graced the stages (which are used as cowsheds for the rest of the year – it’s on the site of a working farm), at a time when they were still fresh faced to the music scene. Headlining this year are bands that can easily be described, as NME did, as “awesome”. The roster includes Teenage Fanclub, Mew, Mercury Rev Clearlight Ensemble, Los Campesinos!, Chapel Club, Good Shoes and Summer Camp (a full, and yet to be completed line-up is featured on Trucks website).

Situated deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, Truck is proud to be one of the UK’s longest standing independent small festivals. The more you discover about Truck, the more you realise that it is fiercely independent in all aspects. From the get go (it was formed in 1998), Truck has rejected corporate sponsorship; instead allowing its food and ale stalls – all locally produced of course – to be run by locals rather than brands (and in the case if the ice cream stall, run by the local vicar). Truck lives by a strong charitable ethos; rather than sitting on their profits, they funnel money made at the festival back into local and national causes. Last year for example, £50,000 was raised for charity. The people behind Truck are quite possibly the busiest of bees in Oxford; as well as community projects in the city, they also run Wood, described as “Trucks folkier/younger, cleaner, greener and mysteriously beardier brother”. While Truck may be less hirsute, it certainly has the travellers bug, and recently came to New York State in the shape of Truck America, held in the mountainous Catskills region. Those who would like to attend a closer to home Truck can do so buy booking tickets through their ticket providers, Gigantic and Brown Paper Tickets, one of the first fair trade ticketing agencies in the UK which operates in a not-just-for-profit fashion. For the first time this year, there will be Friday night festivities (the music starts on Saturday at 12pm and finishes Sunday at 10pm), so campers are now welcome to pitch up from Friday, 4pm onwards. This perfectly sized, magic brew of a festival has all the key ingredients for a glorious weekend, and time is running out to get your tickets before it sells out, so hurry up and book yourself a spot!

Festival Details:
Truck Festival July 23 -25th
Ticket Prices
Adult (18+) Weekend –  £80?Friday – £15 adv/£20 on the day
Teen (13-17) Weekend – £60?Friday – £15 adv/£20 on the day
Minor (0-12) Weekend – Free?Friday – Free
Age Restrictions
Children age 14 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Weekend tickets include access to the festival from 9am Saturday, and include 2 nights camping (saturday & sunday).

Categories ,Chapel Club, ,festival, ,fuck buttons, ,Good Shoes, ,Indie, ,Los Campesinos, ,Mercury Rev, ,mew, ,Oxford, ,Stornoway, ,summer camp, ,Teenage Fanclub, ,Wood Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | Music Listings

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Hello, treat treat Katie!! featured in our latest issue, prescription as part of the New Brasil section. It’s the vision of Hisato, who Amelia described as ‘a small portly man with the slightly pallid demeanour of someone who lives for the night”. He’s a very well respected DJ, and I think this says a lot about the key idea behind his latest EP, ‘Girls’.

Opener ‘Don’t Panic (That’s The Way It Is)’ is drenched in the atmosphere of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ – famously the highest selling 7″ of all time, purely because of it’s popularity with DJs. Vocals come in the form of some super cool sounding girl, who I imagine to look exactly like the type you see standing in front of DJ booths in the hope of grabbing attention. It’s a song that I guess comes from Hisato’s time spent hanging around the super cool, Djing fashion shows and stuff like that. Considering the band is named in honour of Kate Moss herself, this is perhaps something to be expected.

My favourite track is ‘Female Moustache’. It has the feel of a soundtrack from a high octane action movie, building and plateauing, only to return to its peak moments of drama once again. You can imagine some bald guy with stubble diving between trains to it, or something like that anyway.

It finishes with ‘Today’s Tomorrow’s Breath’, something of a respite compared to the rest of the album. The vocals sound almost scary, sung by Hisato himself in what sounds like a cave.

The EP comes across like a party in your ears. It has all the aspects of really fun party music that has put Brazil on the musical map in recent years.

Having interviewed the girls who will be featuring in issue 10 of Amelia’s mag (keep an eye out for them), click I was keen to make a pit stop to their preview of their exhibition, look ‘in bed with the girls’.

The first thing that hits you as you enter the bubblegum pink Beverly Knowles Gallery in Notting hill is the burst of colour within all the photos. Cramming 12 years worth of staged portrait photography, capsule self portraiture and performance pieces in one smallish room gives their work an intensity. A few faves are the performance piece where a naked lady is adorned with various sweet treats such as: swiss rolls, tarts, custard creams. The performance piece reminded me of the oldsy english countryside picnics that now looks like a novel practice. With a priest sat next to her this set to unnerve the viewer.

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Also the smurfette pieces were cute and kitsch.

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Most of their work is playful, set with lavish sets, however I also like some of their black and white shots particularly Dungeness which are actually tiny.

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With so many different sets designs and images, these reflect two varied, bubbly personalities. They reference pop culture, the idea of Englishness, gender roles, nostalgia and desire in a fun yet also subtly dark way. So there really is something for everyone.

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Perhaps you’d like a pair of wizard boots? A caterpillar? some skeleton string? or a monster forest? Inventory of Parlour, ed an Australian designed jewellery label, more about offers treats for the imagination! A range of delectable pieces with intricate and distinctive designs that originate from another realm.

Katia, who studied textile design at RMIT University in Melbourne, was introduced to the wonderful world of jewellery when she spent some time living in London interning with the infamously unique Tatty Devine. The influence is clear – treating jewelry as a piece of art, creating something personal to illustrate the wearer. Katia’s own inspirations draw from the Parlour rooms of the 1800′s and the curious happenings within them. The pieces themselves are made mostly out of collages using text and vintage imagery from periodicals, catalogues and encyclopedias.

“A world of alakazams and abracadabras.. demented delights and a menagerie of oddities..”

Intrigued? Want to see more? Unlock the cabinet of goodies on the their blog and get a new lace for that neck!

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Photo: Dan Spinney

Despite my obsession with These New Puritans (we’ve all read the inspiring reviews from music boffs across the globe so its not necessary for me to rationalise this passion), medical neither time nor cash had granted me with a chance to witness them live, prescription until their set at the Amersham Arms. Perhaps it was dangerous levels of excitement which left me doubtful (or the fact that Derv from Amelia’s team wouldn’t stop chatting in my ear), but I couldn’t help but feel that I was left half empty.

There’s something about the intensity of delivery by lead vocalist Jack Barnett which just didn’t hit me as hard as my 5 year old Woolworth’s headphones. Its not that I’m not accusing them of being poor live performers, ‘Colours’, ‘Infinity ytinifnl’ and ‘Swords of truth’ resembled the album versions to a T, but all that intellectual equation and science stuff just seemed that little bit more magical without the hustle and bustle of a pub. Naturally These New Puritans took the opportunity to drop a few new tracks, which if this occasion is anything to go by, prove to be bordering on bland or atmospheric depending on your perspective or the volume of your glass.

Micachu and The Shape’s set wasn’t as enthralling as it should have been, mainly due to the venues poor sound. Teamed with a crowd that seemed preoccupied with having a chin wag, their music almost seemed to take a back seat. When I’ve seen them before, crowds are usually silenced by their magnificent performances, but I think most people were too preoccupied with drinking at that stage of the night. ‘Golden Phone’ did seem to divert people’s attention, and it’s definately still her standout track. She’s an artist destined for much bigger events this time next year.

Next we headed over to The Tavern to finish our night with sets from Loefah and Benga, and were subjected to some very garage heavy selections, which delighted some, but for me it just wasn’t too exciting. Soon after they had taken to the decks though, the speakers blew. It was announced that the line-up would be moved to the nearby Goldsmith’s Student Union Bar.

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Photo: Louis Hartnoll

We followed the crowds round the corner to where there was already a sizeable queue forming. I hate situations like this, when a mass of people is trying to get into a venue and the venue’s security sees it as an excuse to exercise their power by just being weird and annoying. Eventually they decided everybody had waited long enough an allowed us in. The choice of venue was strange, and didn’t really suit the music. Nevertheless, everyone was there to have a good time, and it’s difficult not to enjoy yourself in that type of environment.
So this morning I received an email shouting about NOISE, erectile an online arts showcase funded by the Arts Council & NWDA. The idea is to showcase art, ask music and fashion all conjured up by creative beings under 25. The curators include acclaimed industry professionals such as Badly Drawn Boy for music and Norman Rosenthal for fine arts. This month NOISE festival will cherry pick the crème de la crème for your viewing pleasure. Here’s a few things I spotted:

The talented miss amy brown, prescription who designed the cover of amelia’s mag issue 8 has her portfolio on here. She says that an average day consists of replying to e-mails, tea drinking, drawing, and wiping paint off my kitten Millie-Rad. She also comments that she has always loved drawing and just hope that people get as much enjoyment from looking at [her] work as [she]does making it! Have a peek at her work.

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patrick gildersleeves, aka wowow is inspired by the people of the world, patterns, paper, animals and plants. He likes to work with a pencil, felt tips and paint. His biggest influences are Inuit art, Ancient South American culture and drawings from the Far East.

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heres a cool image of promo shots for the electric circus band by ‘paul’
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6 by rae:
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clockface by chimere:
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brunch from brunch series by shauba:
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So if you want to inject a little brightness to your day or are seeking some inspiration go and check it out.

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It’s been a busy few days – I’ve been up early again with the Suffragettes to try and persuade city commuters that they should join the Climate Rush on Monday.

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getting ready in the station

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Tamsin sandwiched by commuters

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I’ve learnt that the amount of technical devices attached to your body is a direct indicator of whether you are likely to engage with a piece of paper coming your way. Commuters plugged into ipods are in their own little world and noone is going to disrupt that other place… and if you also have a mobile in your other hand you are doubly likely to ignore anyone else. Interesting, this site how we disassociate from the real world around us. Also a trend I have noticed that disheartens me – people with bikes are also more likely to ignore people who are flyering. Very saddening that – all the more I think because as a fellow bike rider I always expect people who ride to be on our side.

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flyering aplenty

That said, remedy many flyers were given out and since then the Suffragettes have been out every day all over town to try and raise awareness. I will be joining them on Friday afternoon in Soho (5.30pm in Soho Square if you fancy coming along) The more the merrier – we’re quite an arresting sight amongst all that grey.
On Saturday we’re going to be making more sashes at my house – if you fancy joining in email us. I am in east London and we plan to go out on the town afterwards dressed as Suffragettes, so come meet us and join in the fun!

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shaking a fist for the cameras

Then yesterday I hotfooted it over to Newham town hall in East London (well, more like District line slowfooted it. How slow is that tube line?!) to meet up with the Flashmob, there to oppose plans to expand City Airport.

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I love this golden light…

The council was meeting to make the final decision on whether expansion goes ahead and local group Fight the Flights directed a flashmob of about 30 people in a chant for the ITV cameras. Everyone was wearing distinctive STOP AIRPORT EXPANSION t-shirts. It was all over very quickly and I then had to slowfoot it back into town to do my jewelery class for the evening.

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flashmobbers still need lipstick

Unfortunately I have since found out that the council has given the go ahead to the expansion, but the evening was not without its drama. I’ve just spoken with Leo from Plane Stupid, who was one of some 25 people to present objections during the meeting, and it sounds like the locals put up a great fight. There were about 75 objectors in the audience who were “kicking off left, right and centre,” so that by the time the meeting drew to a close some hours later a lot of people had been removed for causing a ruckus. Leo was eventually removed for throwing paper airplanes.

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looks like Ken, of Barbie and Ken fame. is actually a highly groomed ITV reporter.

Apparently the local group will be taking the council to court on the grounds that there was no proper consultation – even though up to 13,000 people will be affected by increased noise pollution there have been no new measurements of noise since the year 2000, and only 10,000 letters have been sent out as part of a mandatory consultation.

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A local teacher explained that his students had been processing field data which showed that the noise levels are frequently reaching 85-95 decibels, and not the declared 57 decibels, over which the government considers noise to be a nuisance. Funny then, that the airport owners have forgotten to take new measurements in the past 8 years.
Leo described the yellow tie wearing owner as being totally complacent, safe in the knowledge that his plans would get the go ahead. In fact he was looking so smug that the locals even had a pop at him about it. I wasn’t there, but I can picture him in my mind’s eye. I bet he would have wound me up too.
The airport expansion may be mooted to go ahead, but don’t expect it to happen without a fight…

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sporting an E.On F.Off badge in a hairband. Lovin the look
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We think we may just have sparked a bit of a trend with the USB we gave away free with our last issue. Mr. Scruff has made a pretty tasty looking; tuna shaped stick that has his new album ‘Ninja Tuna’ on it – and it’s the first thing we’ve seen similar to what we did in the UK.

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Now you may think that such fancy packaging may be compensating for something, look but I assure you that the album is equally as good. It has all the jazzy hip hop stylings you expect from Mr. Scruff, but with a few forward thinking surprises thrown in for good measure.

The high point of the album for me has to be Roots Manuva’s cameo on ‘Nice Up The Function’. It’s a far cry from their previous collaboration ‘Jus Jus’ on Scruff’s second album ‘Keep It Unreal’ – something of a standard Roots Manuva tune (if that’s possible).

Scruff has a philosophy behind his music, in which ‘drinking tea holds mythological status and where it’s always music that gets you high’ – which lead me to believe that perhaps he’s just a little bit too much free time lately to be thinking about these things. It did mean however that a tin of organic tea bags was also sent to us. I’ve now listened to the album when drinking tea, and when I have not been drinking tea. My verdict is that the tea makes no difference to your listening pleasure, but is quite nice.

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Every year at two different creative cities in Europe, buy more about Illustrative International Art Forum displays the best in graphics and illustrative arts. This year is happening at Zurich and displays over 400 works from more than 60 artists. This two week long festival aims to exchange ideas, treatment promote emerging new talent as well as rediscovering current trends. With conferences, film programs, book art, illustration and concept art added to the mix, the festival promises to titillate the creative senses. At the end of the festival a Young Illustrators award will be presented to the best young talent. Why not have a peek at the talented bunch’s work. You might even pick up some inspiration. Here’s a few bits of art that tickled my fancy:

heiko windisch:
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dave prosser:
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olaf hajek:
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keith jones:
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andrew hem:
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tara gschwend:
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I walked along to this gig not expecting anything particularly unusual, viagra little was I to know that I would walk away from it wondering whether it may have actually been the best thing I had seen all year.

It was the last night of the tour, which always kind of suggests that you’re in for something special. Jape take to the stage and announce that they’re most excited about the fact that they’ll soon be able to go home and wash their clothes. Their set however suggests they’re a bit more excited than they let on. The singer is literally leaping as he thrashes his drum machine.

As a support band they more than fit the bill. They’re a band not a lot of the people in the room would have known of before the gig, but they manage to get a pretty good reaction. I can’t help but think that their songs don’t seem to have quite enough body to them though. They make Tom Vek styled electronica that could be brought to life by laying off with the use of backing tracks and adding a couple of band members. In my opinion you just can’t beat doing things live. Obviously some bands are great using purely electronics and sampler, but I think Jape’s style of music just doesn’t quite suit it.

Friendly Fires have been a real favourite of mine for quite some time. They have the same chic, funk sound LCD Soundsystem mastered, but with a little more swagger and panache. Lead singer Ed Macfarlane demonstrates some of this panache by strutting and wriggling around the stage like a man possessed.

They open with ‘Photobooth’; one of their songs that I think is slightly overlooked. Out of all their songs I think it has to be the best demonstation of their songwriting skills. But then it was the song that first got me interested in them. So perhaps I’m a little biased.

I expected the crowd to be standing through their album tracks, waiting for them to play the hits. I was sorely mistaken though. Not that they have any bad album tracks, I just thought they would be hard to make enjoyable live. I was sorely, sorely mistaken. ‘White Diamonds’ and ‘Strobe’ were perhaps some of the highlights from their set. The band took them to whole new levels, and the light shows that went along with it more nothing short of dazzling.

Understandably ‘Paris’ and ‘On Board’ seem to kick the crowd into a frenzy, and it’s at this point that they let off confetti launchers. Usually I’d say this was pretty gimmicky, but I’ll let it pass, it was the last night of their tour.

They finish their set with recent single ‘Jump In The Pool’, and about half way through some Brazilian drummers and carnival dancers appear on stage. From then on the song just builds and builds until everyone in the crowd’s faces are awestruck. Ending your tour with a miniature carnival works, and as the stampeed of everybody trying to leave the building began, the only words on people’s lips were “Wow!”

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The Climate Rush is tomorrow, for sale Monday 13th October, order and the modern day Suffragettes have been busy preparing.

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getting ready in Soho Square

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Alice in Old Compton Street

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discussing tactics outside Les Mis

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We flyered the Friday night drinkers in Soho Square, buy information pills culminating in some chalking outside the Private Eye offices and the offer of a free haircut for Alice from The Soho Salon. I managed to wangle myself a complimentary up-do for my appearance as emcee at the Climate Rush, and a quick look at their website also tells me that they specialise in ‘boyzillians’ – that’s male waxing to you and me! Boyzillions are described as a “must for every discerning man” – so now you know! (or maybe not… what are they talking about?) Anyway, I anticipate a suitably Edwardian pin-tucked hairstyle to go with my not very suitable cobbled together probably a bit too plunging neckline and ruffled petticoat Suffragette get-up.

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now who would like a free haircut?!

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what kind of haircut would madam require?!

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foxy Alice modelling her new do from the Soho Salon (done in remarkably quick time)

On Saturday I frantically tidied up my house in anticipation of a Suffragette beer-swilling bake-off.

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Anna mixing up vegan glories

It was a roaring success – we knocked out dozens of colourful fairy cakes, coconut yoghurt cake and vegan banana bread. Expect these lovingly baked delights to be handed out at the rally with a nice cup of tea. With ten suffragettes in the house we also made light work of pinning all the sashes, which are going to look absolutely magical.

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messy red food colouring…

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Tamsin and I double icing

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ooh, look at them colours!

Aside from the odd paranoia dream where hardly anyone turns up to the Climate Rush – and those who do have forgotten to wear period dress – I’m now really looking forward to tomorrow.

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pinning sashes

I hope it will be the start of a new era of direct action, so please do come along to Parliament Square from 5.30pm and remember, Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

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Monday 13th:
Tate Modern, Cildo Meireles‘: Until Jan 09
Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Cildo Meireles creates mysterious and atmostpheric installations which invite the audience. A new version of Fontes that includes 6,000 carpenter’s rulers hanging from the ceiling, a thousand clocks and thousands of vinyl numbers is included.

cildo%20meireles.jpg

Tuesday 14th:
YFBS gallery, Pivot Points: Turkey England Turkey, New Photography by Helen Sheehan: 15th-18th October 08
207 Whitecross St, London, EC1 8QP: 15-18 October, 930-5pm
In ‘Pivot Points’ Sheehan showacases narrative photomontage work which focuses on two individuals James and Zehra. James comes from a well-off background yet his value systems ensure he is involved in campaigning on oil and social justice. Sehra’s family have been persecuted for political reasons in Turkey. Sheehan explores the intensely delicate territory of integration, loyalty, longing, alienations and belonging across two landscapes that shape her subject’s realities.

helen%20sheehan%201.jpg

Wednesday 15th:
Bournemouth, ‘Postcards’: ‘Ishihara’: Emily Draper, Charlie Gates, Rebecca Johnson etc: All day-12pm
An all day exhibition of instillations, video, interactive and
wall-based artwork, accompanied with live elctronica and djs in the evening.
Ishihara is here to feed your eyes, ears and dancing feet with the talent of
current students and recent graduates, as well as music from Bournemouth’s
best kept secrets. Ishihara doesn’t end when the bar closes, with
afterparties and opportunities for all of you to get involved and exhibit in
future Ishihara shows.

a%20million%20postcards.jpg

The old brewery, ‘NEW SENSATIONS’:
The old Truman brewery, T2 Space, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL: 15th-19th October:11am-6pm
Taking part in the Frieze Week in October are 20 shortlisted artists as well as four finalists chosen by judges in this exhibition showcasing new exciting talent. The four finalists of the competition will be given £1000 bursury to make new work. There will be 2 winners of the new sensations 08 competition- one will be decided by the public and one by the panel of judges. So if you want to check out the latest and newest ‘sensation’ then stroll along for this free show.

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Thursday 16th:
Regents Park, ‘FRIEZE ART FAIR’: 16th-19th Octobe
Frieze Art Fair focuses on contemporary living artists with a line up that is packed with talks, artists’ commissions and film projects, many of which are intereactive or performative and encourage visitors to engage with art and artists directly. 11 commisions curated by Neville Wakefield, a New York based curator, critic and editor. With talks including ‘passages of light’ by yoko ono, and ‘the aesthetic responsibility’ by Boris Groys, this is one to write in your diary. Tickets from £21.75

FriezeParks1.jpg

Brown mountain Festival of Performing Arts at Slade Research Centre, ‘Brown Mountain Festival’: the dolly mixtures, goodipal, grand theft impro, emma hart and others: 16th-18th October
Slade Research Centre, Woburn Square, London WC1
Why not indulge in your drama queen tendencies for a bit of performance art action. With collaborations between artists, producers the range of pieces promises satire, wit and optical ingenuity.

brown%20mountain%20college.jpg

Friday 17th:
The Hayward, Robin Rhode: Until 7th December
Southbank Centre, London SE1 8EZ
South African artist Robin Rhode presents inventive performances, photographs and drawings. Charcoal drawings and witty performances as well asanimations makes him a jack of all trades. Animations include two-dimensional representations of everyday objects; he draws a candle and tries to blow it out. His work comments on urban poverty, the politics of leisure and the commodification of youth culture.

rhode_harvest_may_07.jpg

Saturday 18th:
V&A,’Cold War Modern’: Until Jan 11
Cromwell Rd, London, SW7 2RL
The Cold War is the cite for inspiration for an exhibition which shows over 300 objects that reflect both the fears of nuclear devestation and the fantasies of space flight (an Apollo Mision suit). All this characterises an anxious era, from brutalist architecture of the Eastern bloc to the futuristic designs of Dierter Rams.

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music-listings.gif

Tuesday 14th October

The Aliens and Sisters Of Transistors – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, cialis 40mg London
Beggars – 100 Club, London
Shred Yr Face – No Age, Los Campesinos and Times New Viking – The Portland Arms, Cambridge
The Chap, Barringtone, Nattcu – White Heat at Madame Jo Jo’s, London
José Gonzalez, Horse Feathers and Wildbirds and Peacedrums – ULU, London
Cut Off Your Hands, Divisions Of Laura Lee, Sounds Like Violence and When Gravity Falls – Monto Water Rats, London
The Streets – 53 Degrees, Preston
Maps and Atlases and This Town Needs Guns – Barden’s Boudoir, London
Jeremy Warmsley – Night and Day Cafe, London
Esser – ICA, London
Dirty Pretty Things – The Roundhouse, London

Wednesday 15th October

Indian Jewelry and Gentle Friendly – The Luminaire, London
Blood Red Shoes – Cockpit, Leeds
Holy Fuck – Bodega Social Club, Nottingham
Styrofoam, Sportsday Megaphone and Artha and Martha – Club Fandango at 229, London
Hot Club De Paris – The Other Rooms, Newcastle
Screaming Tea Party and Collapsing Cities – The Barfly, London

Thursday 16th October

Towers of London and The Pack A.D – ULU, London
Dead Kids, Math Class and Pre – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
of Montreal, Eugene McGuinness and Wave Machines – Koko, London
The Rivers, The Situationists and Toy! Toy! – The Fly, London
Foals, Holy Fuck and Dananananaykroyd – Brixton Academy, London

Friday 17th October

Hot Chip, Kate Nash, Tilly and The Wall, Florence and The Machine, James Yuill and Slow Club – Matter, London
Johnny Flynn – Nice N Sleazy’s, Glasgow
The Pipettes
Golden Silvers – Bronze Club, London

Saturday 18th October

Selfish Cunt and SCUM – The Enterprise, London
Roots Manuva – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
The Correspondants, Disappears and Man Like Me – Sassoon Gallery, London
Maths Class, Messengers and The Reunionists – Artful at New Cross Inn, London
Chas & Dave – Broadway Theatre, London

Sunday 19th October

Blood Red Shoes – Cafe Drummond, Aberdeen
James Yorkston – Joiners, Southampton
No Age, Los Campesinos and Times New Viking – Rough Trade East, London

Categories ,Blood Red Shoes, ,Chas and Dave, ,Cut off your hands, ,Dead Kids, ,Dirty Pretty Things, ,Eugene McGuiness, ,Florence and the Machine, ,Foals, ,Golden Silvers, ,Holy Fuck, ,Hot Chip, ,James Yorkston, ,James Yuill, ,Los Campesinos, ,No Age, ,Roots Mauva, ,Screaming Tea Party, ,Selfish Cunt, ,Slow Club, ,Tilly and The Wall, ,Times New Viking, ,Towers of London, ,Wave Machines

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Amelia’s Magazine | Festival Review: Truck 2010

aeon festival
AEON Fest by Faye West
Illustration by Faye West.

This will be my third year at Aeon, stomach and for me it’s been a wonderful, nurse stress-free experience, cialis 40mg no queues, suffocating crowds or over-priced disgusting burgers. It describes itself as a ‘Shoestring Boutique festival’ and is set in the beautiful surroundings in mid Devon. A grassy amphitheatre precedes the main stage which sits on the edge of a lake, you are able to camp under the trees and gather around wood burners with friends and strangers. There is no sponsorship or big branding so it’s one of the most naturally visually pleasing festivals around and there’s something about this festival which has a very simplistic charm which embodies what a music festival only really needs to be – friends, music and fresh air.

There are lots of sweet put-together events that take place throughout the day. Last year I was very tempted by the Speed Date plus free meal for a fiver, a hair fascination workshop and a wood cutting class so that you can whittle down your very own wooden spoon from a branch, but of course was too busy frequenting the bar and resting on the grass whilst soaking up the surrounds. I was however encouraged to take part in the bubble wrap race. Once I was wrapped head to toe in bubble wrap, I thought as we all lay there like grubs that I was in for some kind of relaxing spa treatment. Unfortunately we were asked to try and get to our feet, and race each other round a tree and back. I was just left slumped on the floor, immobile from laughter.

Bubble Wrap Racing Aeon Faye West
Bubble wrap racing at Aeon. Photography by Faye West.

I managed to catch the super busy founder of the fest, Niki Portus for a few words whilst the count down for Aeon is on.

Aeon is in it’s 5th year this August, and I know that festivals tend to change quite a bit every year as crowds get bigger and organisers think up new ways to run an efficient festival. Sometimes this is for the worst! What were your goals for organising this year’s Aeon, and was there much you wanted to change or improve on from last year?

I’m a great believer in if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! I think we have a pretty good formula that seems to work and people really like the laid back feel of it all. We had to put the ticket price up this year which was really hard to get my head round but we’ve expanded on production and line up to reflect that – I think it has been more important though to improve on areas where we know we had problems.

We had a big debrief meeting straight after last year and the main area I wanted to get right was the camping as it filled up very quickly last year and was pretty rowdy. So this year we have added an extra area for noisy camping right next to the main site and kept family camping in the old area away from the rowdy bunch. Some of the programming needed adapting a bit but mostly it’s about us wanting to put on a good show and keep it fun for everyone as well as the element of a few surprises. I guess it’s about being realistic about accommodating natural growth as the word spreads, such as having more loos, better fencing and more security but not so it’s in your face. Little background things that cost more money but can make a big difference to the experience for people.

The main thing about Aeon for me is that it has always been about independent artists and strictly no sponsorship or outside funding – the first year was me taking out a small bank loan and maxing the credit cards but I’ve paid the loan off now *lol* and one day I might actually pay off the credit cards! The festival has sustained itself though for the past 4 years on ticket income and by running our own bar on site so it seems to work. I think people like the fact that we’re home grown – it’s very much like a big family now.

Aeon Ampitheatre Faye West

What do you think it is about Aeon that makes it so special and magical? And are you still achieving what you set out to do?

I have no idea! But we have an amazing crew who come up with all sorts of great ideas and are very creative. I think whilst I never thought it would get this far when I first set out on this journey I do feel its stuck to it’s original goal – that’s something I feel very strongly inside but it’s hard to explain! For me personally it’s definitely a love affair – I’ve don’t draw a salary or wage and if I manage to pay myself back for even something like my phone bill it’s a small miracle.

We’re pretty low key with our publicity as I’m always scared of over hyping things. It’s like ‘wow this is the best festival in the world ever’ well no actually it’s one of over 500 festivals in the country and everyone has their favourites for different reasons – you can’t please all the people all the time and there will always be one or two who think it’s crap, that’s just human nature. You see it all over the forums and I always think ‘god please don’t let that be us’ but you can’t control it. Freedom of speech and all that. This is the first year we will possibly have some ‘proper’ festival press on site – I’m terrified they’ll be rude!

Girls Aeon by Faye West
Illustration by Faye West.

Aeon is a wonderfully afordable festival compared to many others. Is it difficult keeping the cost down, and if so do you think the big festies such as Glastonbury are overpriced?

To the first question – in a word – yes – it’s very difficult keeping costs down! Just the little things like having a full time accountant now all adds up behind the scenes. But I don’t think you can compare it to the likes of Glastonbury – the production that goes in to that one is awe inspiring – in fact The History of Glastonbury is like my bible *lol* I find the stories from behind the scenes really heart warming and you know as an organisation they have set the bench mark for all events – their management structure and Health & Safety awareness is amazing. I like the concept of ’boutique festivals’ though – hence our tongue in cheek ‘shoestring boutique’ moniker.

Equally though there is only so much one person can do in a day and for most people special times involve having a laugh with a group of friends not standing in queues for toilets or over priced warm beers, or spending hours hunting for your friends because you went off on a drunken ramble. That said there are two sorts of people – those who go to festivals and those who work at festivals. All my friends who work at festivals prefer it when they’re behind the scenes making stuff happen.

I do really feel as well that just throwing money at something doesn’t make a party and personally I get a kick from doing things on a tight budget. The crew know I’m tight as a gnat’s arse! We’ve got some awesome artists this year for a really good price and I think part of the reason is the agents know we’re doing it all for the right reasons. It’s not about the big headliners for us – it’s about showcasing the underground well regarded stuff that if you know your music makes you go ‘wow that’s cool’ and if you don’t you know you can take a chance and see something you wouldn’t normally see and it’ll be really good. I did contact a couple of agents about some bigger acts this year out of curiosity to see how much it would be and they were like ‘Aeon who?’

Keeping the balance between family friendly and cool party is in the top 5 of my list of requirements for definite. As a single parent I want to know my son is safe.

Shobrook Park Aeon
Shobrooke Park Estate, Crediton – where Aeon is held.

Aeon takes place in a beautiful part of Devon. It appears to be a very eco-friendly event, is this something important to you, and if so has this been an easy practice to take on?

Honestly? I think it can be easy to over hype being ‘Green’ and in fact not take into account how important it is to support the local economy. I live in a little village on Dartmoor and work at the local preschool there – my family have been there over 30 years so we see firsthand how rural economies struggle and last year I joined a committee to build and start up a village shop after our one was closed down.

At the festival it’s therefore important we use local traders and cafes and encourage them to source locally. There are various community groups from Crediton who run things and fund raise on site as well. We struggled with our recycling last year but this year we have a proper green team on board to take the pressure off us on site and the company we use for our skips has their own processing plant just up the road from the festival site that recycles 85% of stuff. The policies behind landfill are actually really strict these days. We dish out bin bags to everyone and encourage them to take care of the park but in reality we live in a disposable culture that drives me up the wall. I think this isn’t helped by festivals being very fashionable at the moment and companies doing cheap deals on tents and welly boots means that many punters still feel they can leave stuff behind even at small festivals like ours. It’s definitely getting worse for events and certainly puts costs up. We encourage car sharing as well and this year are trying out Festival Coaches to see if a shuttle service from Exeter works too.

*********

Last year I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a larger festival, ensuring I got to see some bands I had always wanted to see. I’m not sure if I am just getting old, or maybe not so rock and roll, but I certainly didn’t enjoy this experience as much as I used to. I got angry at the shear masses kicking up dust, mile long queues to simply refill bottles of water and spending stupid money on horrible food (apart from the tea and toast van, which became my staple). Because others had let us all down by creating fires and explosions with gas canisters, gas stoves had been banned and it was impossible to do any proper camp cooking.

So, when Aeon swung round towards the end of last summer – just as most people were getting over festie camping and portoloos – I surprised myself again with how much I enjoyed the weekend as a whole. There was just no effort or stress involved and it felt like a massive garden party. Although there wasn’t any particular headlining act I had travelled miles to see, the bands were all so easy going and cheerful that everyone danced with the same enthusiam as if hearing their favourite ever song. In fact I shredded my new wellies from all the hopping and jumping. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I might do a way with shoes this year and hop about on the grass underfoot instead. Fancy joining me?

The facebook group for Aeon can be found here.

I am standing on a crowded tube on my way to Ladbroke Grove and boy do I want to bust a move. I want to glide along the carriage, sickness wind it up, approved shake my bootie (even though I don’t have much of one), do the robot, shimmy back and forth – but I don’t. Instead I repress all of my disco dancing energy into a few gentle taps on the pole I’m meant to be holding onto with my fingers; my inner Tony Manero bound and gagged.

Summer has arrived in full bloom as I listen to Ali Love’s latest single ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ on my hot pink ipod and find myself plodding along Portobello Road to meet the man himself. If truth be told, the first time I heard of Ali was only a few weeks ago when I was invited to a one-off exclusive show at new East London art venue, CAMP. Although initially weary of the next ‘hottest new act’ on the electro-pop scene label, on seeing him perform and hearing his latest material, I was genuinely struck by his commercial appeal.


Photography courtesy of Pietro Pravettoni.

Storming onto the stage dressed head-to-toe in black with a cloak, studded vest and, oddly enough, what appeared to resemble a tassled curtain tie-back around his neck, Ali worked the stage with his two slinky backing singers dressed in rubber black cat suits, stitched with fluorescent electric blue tubing, like a veteran pop-maestro. As the girls writhed behind him in synchrony with lashings of mascara and kohled eyes, Ali delivered his anabolic steroid pumped disco tunes, filled with dirty bass lines, swirling-synths and throbbing melodies, to an adoring party audience with his Prince-esque vocals providing the perfect dusting.


Photography courtesy of Pietro Pravettoni.

Bursting with 80s electro rhythms, Ali’s sound is fun, upbeat, catchy and infectious, and his set was filled with plenty of tracks, such as ‘Do the Dirty’ and ‘Dark Star’ which deserve to be hit singles. I started the evening cynical, propped up against a wall but by the end of the night, my feet had taken on a funked-up life of their own.


Photography courtesy of Pietro Pravettoni.

Today, there is no cloak and I arrive at Ali’s early to find myself loitering outside his flat, waiting for him to return from picking up his DMX drum machine. I spot him approaching me in distinctively 80s attire; a bright green t-shirt, blue skinny jeans, white Nike high tops with a fluorescent orange tick and a gold vintage bling watch. Ali towers over me, greeting me with a hug and a Sarf London accented: “Hey babe”.

On stage, Ali appeared extroverted, flamboyant and massively confident but on a one-to-one, he was more reserved than I had imagined, often flitting between intense and evasive, lucid and incoherent, and making little eye contact as he spoke. Over the course of the interview and a nice strong brew, however, as Ali began to loosen up, a cheekier and more spiritual side emerged…

I loved the cosmic theme of your stage set of your gig at CAMP. How did this idea come about?
In colour, the music I’ve created is black and electric blue. When I visualise the sound, I can picture things like arpeggiators and my DMX drum machine (Ali points to the electric blue lines on his Oberheim DMX drum machine). On the cosmic theme, well I like cosmic music coz I’m a cosmic guy.

How do you go about composing your records? Do lyrics or a tune come to you first?
Most of the time, it’s the melody that comes to you first. Then I’ll just pick up my guitar and try to re-create it. Other times, it’s being struck by a word that someone says; something that you instantly pick up on and connect with. A good word can just spark off an idea. Songs write themselves most of the time. It’s like a flame; you have to keep feeding it with your creative energy.

How would you describe your new album, Love Harder, in three words?
Electric love music.

What has been the general response from the audience who you have played to so far?
What I’ve done has been well-received by the gay community and all over Europe. They’re mainly my kind of people; slightly left of centre, so not mainstream. I don’t really make music for closed-minded people; I make music for open-minded people and cosmic party people. I don’t know if that sounds snobby but those are the kind of people I want to impress. When musicians like Aeroplane say they love my music, it’s a really great feeling because that’s the kind of audience I’m trying to reach out to. It means a lot to gain respect from the people that I respect.

There’s a track on the album where you collaborate with Teenagers in Tokyo. How do you think they complement your sound?
Well the opportunity arose to work with Sam (Lim) who has a lovely voice so I just grabbed it. I told her to sing like a space siren and she nailed it. She really went for it on the record and to me, she sounds like an angel singing. I think it’s a great track to end the album on.

Your sound is distinctively 80s – is this an era that you look to for inspiration?
I don’t see myself as a retro artist. The palette was slightly electro and analogue so that lends itself to sounding 80s. The machines that I used are all 30 years old. I don’t care whether something is retro or not, it’s about whether you can hold a tune or whether it’s good to listen to. We live in a post-modern world and it’s hard to create new ground.

What has your career highlight been so far?
I’ve been to lots of different places in the world and have experienced a lot of stuff and that’s all because of the music – that aspect has been good. I’m pretty even minded about most things in a Buddhist middle way; I try to stay emotionally consistent, whether things are good or bad. My most blissful musical times aren’t when I’m doing gigs – they’re when I’m in the studio, recording material. That’s what I love doing the most.

It’s interesting you should say that as most people tend to enjoy the gigging aspect.
The last gig was really good and I felt really confident and happy that people were there, which felt like a breakthrough. I’d like to be like Harry Nilsson, he never played live, he just made beautiful amazing songs in the studio. Same with Georgio Moroder, he gave up playing live. I’m more interested in being a recording artist.

What does making music mean to you?
If I didn’t do music I’d have to do meditation or something to stop me from going mad. Music for me is meditative. I need to concentrate on something and it’s been the one thing I can concentrate on. I was terrible at school. My dad died when I was 13 and it stopped me from caring too much about things. I became quite spiritual as I was suddenly hit by the question of death. My whole mind started to move in a different direction. It has given me a lot more empathy for feeling things in the world and enhances your musical palette which happens to a lot of musicians. You need to find a place to visit to write songs. If everything in your life was normal, it would be quite difficult to find inspiration to write. Having said that I do still really like boner jams about sex; they’re all fine.

How have you changed as a person since you started out in the music industry?
When I started out I was living above a club on Kingsland Road in East London and high all the time. I was living on the dole but passionate about my music; just the classic clichéd punk rock vibe. But somehow I managed to get a big record deal. So because I’d been on the dole for six years beforehand, it all went to my head a bit. I went a bit crazy and the partying outweighed the music-making even before it all started. But luckily I had the hit with the Chemical Brothers which kept me financially afloat for ages. I wouldn’t change anything; it was a good journey. Now I’d love to have a guru or teacher and learn kung-fu in the hills; get more in touch with my spiritual side.

Who interests you most on the music scene at the moment and why?
I’m mostly drawn to disco people like Aeroplane and the guy who did my remix, Bottin. I really like the work that Prince Thomas does and the Lindstrom stuff. Pop wise, I like Empire of the Sun.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’d like to collaborate with rappers, some kind of US stuff. I think it’s because I’ve just moved to West London and there’s a bit more rap around where I live and that’s starting to soak into me.

So do you find that where you live influences your sound?
Well I was living in East London before which is why I made a totally gay disco record!

And finally – what random piece of advice can you offer readers of Amelia’s Magazine?
Be nice to each other and always look right twice when you cross the road.

Ali Love’s new album Love Harder is out on 9th August on Back Yard Recordings.

I am standing on a crowded tube on my way to Ladbroke Grove and boy do I want to bust a move. I want to glide along the carriage, online wind it up, price shake my bootie (even though I don’t have much of one), medical do the robot, shimmy back and forth – but I don’t. Instead I repress all of my disco dancing energy into a few gentle taps on the pole I’m meant to be holding onto with my fingers; my inner Tony Manero bound and gagged.

Summer has arrived in full bloom as I listen to Ali Love’s latest single ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ on my hot pink ipod and find myself plodding along Portobello Road to meet the man himself. If truth be told, the first time I heard of Ali was only a few weeks ago when I was invited to a one-off exclusive show at new East London art venue, CAMP. Although initially weary of the next ‘hottest new act’ on the electro-pop scene label, on seeing him perform and hearing his latest material, I was genuinely struck by his commercial appeal.


Photography courtesy of Pietro Pravettoni.

Storming onto the stage dressed head-to-toe in black with a cloak, studded vest and, oddly enough, what appeared to resemble a tassled curtain tie-back around his neck, Ali worked the stage with his two slinky backing singers dressed in rubber black cat suits, stitched with fluorescent electric blue tubing, like a veteran pop-maestro. As the girls writhed behind him in synchrony with lashings of mascara and kohled eyes, Ali delivered his anabolic steroid pumped disco tunes, filled with dirty bass lines, swirling-synths and throbbing melodies, to an adoring party audience with his Prince-esque vocals providing the perfect dusting.

Ali’s sound is fun, upbeat, catchy and infectious, and his set was filled with plenty of tracks, such as ‘Do the Dirty’ and ‘Show Me’ which deserve to be hit singles. I started the evening cynical, propped up against a wall but by the end of the night, my feet had taken on a funked-up life of their own.


Photography courtesy of Pietro Pravettoni.

Today, there is no cloak and I arrive at Ali’s early to find myself loitering outside his flat, waiting for him to return from picking up his DMX drum machine. I spot him approaching me in distinctively 80s attire; a bright green t-shirt, blue skinny jeans, white Nike high tops with a fluorescent orange tick and a gold vintage bling watch. Ali towers over me, greeting me with a hug and a Sarf London accented: “Hey babe”.

On stage, Ali appeared extroverted, flamboyant and massively confident but on a one-to-one, he was more reserved than I had imagined, often flitting between intense and evasive, lucid and incoherent, and making little eye contact as he spoke. Over the course of the interview and a nice strong brew, however, as Ali began to loosen up, a cheekier and more spiritual side emerged…

I loved the cosmic theme of your stage set of your gig at CAMP. How did this idea come about?
In colour, the music I’ve created is black and electric blue. When I visualise the sound, I can picture things like arpeggiators and my DMX drum machine (Ali points to the electric blue lines on his Oberheim DMX drum machine). On the cosmic theme, well I like cosmic music coz I’m a cosmic guy.

How do you go about composing your records? Do lyrics or a tune come to you first?
Most of the time, it’s the melody that comes to you first. Then I’ll just pick up my guitar and try to re-create it. Other times, it’s being struck by a word that someone says; something that you instantly pick up on and connect with. A good word can just spark off an idea. Songs write themselves most of the time. It’s like a flame; you have to keep feeding it with your creative energy.

How would you describe your new album, Love Harder, in three words?
Electric love music.

What has been the general response from the audience who you have played to so far?
What I’ve done has been well-received by the gay community and all over Europe. They’re mainly my kind of people; slightly left of centre, so not mainstream. I don’t really make music for closed-minded people; I make music for open-minded people and cosmic party people. I don’t know if that sounds snobby but those are the kind of people I want to impress. When musicians like Aeroplane say they love my music, it’s a really great feeling because that’s the kind of audience I’m trying to reach out to. It means a lot to gain respect from the people that I respect.

There’s a track on the album where you collaborate with Teenagers in Tokyo. How do you think they complement your sound?
Well the opportunity arose to work with Sam (Lim) who has a lovely voice so I just grabbed it. I told her to sing like a space siren and she nailed it. She really went for it on the record and to me, she sounds like an angel singing. I think it’s a great track to end the album on.


Photography courtesy of Pietro Pravettoni.

Your sound is distinctively 80s – is this an era that you look to for inspiration?
I don’t see myself as a retro artist. The palette was slightly electro and analogue so that lends itself to sounding 80s. The machines that I used are all 30 years old. I don’t care whether something is retro or not, it’s about whether you can hold a tune or whether it’s good to listen to. We live in a post-modern world and it’s hard to create new ground.

What has your career highlight been so far?
I’ve been to lots of different places in the world and have experienced a lot of stuff and that’s all because of the music – that aspect has been good. I’m pretty even minded about most things in a Buddhist middle way; I try to stay emotionally consistent, whether things are good or bad. My most blissful musical times aren’t when I’m doing gigs – they’re when I’m in the studio, recording material. That’s what I love doing the most.

It’s interesting you should say that as most people tend to enjoy the gigging aspect.
The last gig was really good and I felt really confident and happy that people were there, which felt like a breakthrough. I’d like to be like Harry Nilsson, he never played live, he just made beautiful amazing songs in the studio. Same with Georgio Moroder, he gave up playing live. I’m more interested in being a recording artist.

What does making music mean to you?
If I didn’t do music I’d have to do meditation or something to stop me from going mad. Music for me is meditative. I need to concentrate on something and it’s been the one thing I can concentrate on. I was terrible at school. My dad died when I was 13 and it stopped me from caring too much about things. I became quite spiritual as I was suddenly hit by the question of death. My whole mind started to move in a different direction. It has given me a lot more empathy for feeling things in the world and enhances your musical palette which happens to a lot of musicians. You need to find a place to visit to write songs. If everything in your life was normal, it would be quite difficult to find inspiration to write. Having said that I do still really like boner jams about sex; they’re all fine.

How have you changed as a person since you started out in the music industry?
When I started out I was living above a club on Kingsland Road in East London and high all the time. I was living on the dole but passionate about my music; just the classic clichéd punk rock vibe. But somehow I managed to get a big record deal. So because I’d been on the dole for six years beforehand, it all went to my head a bit. I went a bit crazy and the partying outweighed the music-making even before it all started. But luckily I had the hit with the Chemical Brothers which kept me financially afloat for ages. I wouldn’t change anything; it was a good journey. Now I’d love to have a guru or teacher and learn kung-fu in the hills; get more in touch with my spiritual side.

Who interests you most on the music scene at the moment and why?
I’m mostly drawn to disco people like Aeroplane and the guy who did my remix, Bottin. I really like the work that Prince Thomas does and the Lindstrom stuff. Pop wise, I like Empire of the Sun.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’d like to collaborate with rappers, some kind of US stuff. I think it’s because I’ve just moved to West London and there’s a bit more rap around where I live and that’s starting to soak into me.

So do you find that where you live influences your sound?
Well I was living in East London before which is why I made a totally gay disco record!

And finally – what random piece of advice can you offer readers of Amelia’s Magazine?
Be nice to each other and always look right twice when you cross the road.

Ali Love’s new album Love Harder is out on 9th August on Back Yard Recordings.


Darwin Deez at Truck Festival. Photograph by Sabrina Morrison

It was only a matter of time before Amelia’s Magazine and Truck Festival became the firmest of friends. With circles overlapping so far and wide, information pills we might as well be kith and kin, our relationship was cemented and documented by Amelia at the Climate Camp gathering in Glastonbury (understand that Truck is kind of a generic description – the creators of Truck – the brothers Joe and Robin Bennett also play in the utterly fab Danny and The Champions Of The World) in a memorable performance where Joe played part of the gig on his back. ‘Cause that’s how he rolls.


Photographs by Sabrina Morrison


Pulled Apart By Horses perform. Photograph by Caitlin Mogridge

Truck is known for being somewhat of an anomaly; it’s a thoroughly strange hybrid of a bucolic Oxfordshire village fete, complete with a rotary club flipping burgers, a vicar serving ale and – no village fete is complete without this quintessentially English phenomena – cross dressers behind the bar, all of which serve as the surroundings to a musical line-up that is so hip, cutting edge and au courant that it makes SXSW look tame. The place was teeming with journo’s from every major publication, all of whom professed a long standing love for Truck. I had pitched up with a little crew of fellow Amelia’s Magazine colleagues and friends of mine from the band Amber States. By the time we arrived at 1pm on Saturday afternoon, the weather was glorious, the sun beating down on the 5,000 revelers who had already assumed the position of the day; lying flat on their backs (clearly taking a cue from the founder Joe). We quickly discovered that the festival was pleasingly manageable in size. Taking up no more that roughly three fields, the onus was on being able to bounce (I mean amble) from one stage to the next with the minimum of fuss.


Is Tropical in session. Photograph by Sabrina Morrison

So we quickly settled into a routine. Fuel up with a drink, and go find some music. From an extremely horizontal position I watched ex- Beta Band singer Steve Mason do a rousing Beta Band-esque set, followed by Stornoway who actually got me standing up (high praise). Although at some point I realised that that the hottest spot at Truck was by far and away The Barn, which receives the accolade from me as being The Hottest Music Venue In The World Which Also Smells Of Manure. It seemed that the rest of the festival agreed with me, and due to it’s cult like status, and the fact that the bands playing inside were off the charts, there was a constant queue to get into this converted cowshed. But I would stand in line all over again just to see this man play again.


Darwin Deez auditions for So You Think You Can Dance. Photographs by Sabrina Morrison

Mr Darwin Deez, New York hipster, sporter of the finest curls in the contemporary music scene, and creator of mid-song dance routines that even have their own narrative. My favourite bit was the dance that finished Radar Detector where his band mates engaged in what can only be described as a homage to West Side Story and the unfortunate Darwin was pushed to the floor (don’t worry, it was all part of the routine) but heroically sprang back to complete the rest of the dance/mime show. Why don’t more bands do this?
YouTube Preview Image
YouTube Video courtesy of John Pullman


Mew headlining, photograph by Sabrina Morrison

The evening was given over to watch Mew headlining. I had high hopes about this Danish group because the previous week I had been fortunate to have a long chat with Sune from The Raveonettes and he was in raptures over them. Truthfully, they were technically very impressive, but I wasn’t hooked. I think I was spoilt by watching smaller bands whilst scraping hay off of my converse in the cow shed, so this stadium-esque performance left me a little cold. Actually, I think I may have just simply been cold – it was 11pm by this point and the temperature had dropped. I wandered off to find my friends playing table football in the techno tent and concluded this very pleasant evening by not scoring a goal. Story of my life!


I got to meet the strange Truck monster; he was a bit monosyllabic but gave good hugs.

The next day was given over to more of the same thing. Naturally some lazing around had to be done. (We are not lazing in this picture, we are trying to figure out how to play the game where you lift someone up using two fingers, we didn’t succeed.)

Amber States do a collective i-phone check to find out how it’s done. Test study remains rooted to the ground.


Blood Red Shoes perform. Great live set, but inbetween song banter needs be improved; “We love sharks!” yells Laura-Mary. Photo by Caitlin Mogridge


Los Campesinos! Photograph by Caitlin Mogridge


Teenage Fanclub close Truck 13. Photograph by Caitlin Mogridge

Everyone found a band that we had previously not heard off but now had to IMMEDIATELY rush off and buy their tracks. A friend of mine was delighted by A Silent Film, which reminded her a little of The National. I really enjoyed the synth pop of Miaoux Miaoux, Sabrina discovered the joys of Egyptian Hip Hop, another mate stuck to the front of the stage while Blood Red Shoes performed and we all had a bit of a rousing moment to Los Campesinos! and Teenage Fanclub. Personally, Sunday afternoon was all about Danny and the Champions of The World. I’m not just saying that because of the aforementioned connections but simply because they put on a blinding performance. Plus you never know who you are going to get when Danny plays; later he performed a set in the little acoustic tent to a full house of little kids and was joined by the lovely Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou. Everyone clapped along to the songs – one toddler in the front helpfully kept time with the aide of his drum sticks and to me, this summed up Truck entirely; the ethos is collective, without pretension, kid friendly and all about the music, even when the music consists of two acoustic guitars, no mics and a two year old with drum sticks. Thanks again to Truck, for reminding us that this is what life is about.


Danny and Trevor Moss perform
Photograph by Rishi Mullett-Sadones

With thanks to Sabrina Morrison, Caitlin Mogridge and Rishi Mullett-Sadones for the photos.

Categories ,Amber States, ,Blood Red Shoes, ,Climate Camp, ,Danny and the Champions of the World, ,Darwin Deez, ,Egyptian Hip Hop, ,festivals, ,glastonbury, ,Is Tropical, ,Los Campesinos, ,mew, ,Oxford, ,Pulled Apart By Horses, ,Rishi Mullett Sadones, ,sxsw, ,Teenage Fanclub, ,Trever Moss and Hannah Lou, ,Truck Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | Sparky Deathcap – Interview

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
There’s a big buzz around Erdem, link especially amongst the highly groomed and black attired fash-pack. As I entered Senate House I couldn’t but help noting that I looked somewhat out of place, order clashing floral print leggings and gold hi tops peeking out below my sensible black coat, information pills my hair somewhat wilder than the average attendee. Author Talitha Stevenson has just written a new book, Disappear, which describes the lives of hedge fund managers and their wives, many of whom work in “fashion” and I think this may have been where they hang out.

my legs, erdem
This is a view of my legs at Erdem.

One great thing about fashion week is the opportunity to visit fabulous venues that I would never otherwise get to know. Senate House is an art deco masterpiece, and the Grand Hall offered a dramatic setting for the Erdem show, enhanced by the huge globe lights that shed a bright diffused luminescence.

Senate House, Erdem
Senate House.

As I was seated on the upper balcony I was given a brief nod of acknowledgement by Sara from Relative MO PR, a girl who I’ve known as long as I’ve worked in fashion – from way back when we were both humble interns gossiping about our bosses and getting drunk on free cocktails at bad model parties. She’s much younger than me, but she’s since risen up the ranks and I am no longer considered worthy of a proper chat.

balcony at erdem
a view from the balcony at Erdem
A view from the balcony at Erdem.

As she crouched next to some doyenne of fashion I overheard their conversation: she’s getting married, with a ceilidh in the countryside. I felt like saying: “Ah, but will your ceilidh band be as good as mine?!” But I didn’t – because it is the job of a fashion PR to chat to the most important people and I most definitely am not considered important. A fact of which I am very proud – I like to exist on the fringes of fashion, getting excited by only those things I think are worth being excited about and staying away from all the behind-the-scenes machinations. But I won’t pretend it’s not highly irritating when someone I’ve known for a very long time no longer sees fit to talk to me. Such is the world of fashion my friends.

Sometimes the models at a show are just so ultra skinny you are left wondering how they have the energy to stride down the catwalk, let alone do so in a vivacious manner. Erdem was one such show where I was struck by their absolute thinness, no doubt compounded by the pallid make-up and severe pulled back hairdos. But stride they did, criss-crossing the balcony before making a circuit of the downstairs hall. And I thought, why are all these ladies in black getting so excited about Erdem? It’s a strange fact of fashion that those with the most power, the top buyers and PRs, all look exactly the same – the exact opposite in fact of what fashion implores us to do. Erdem showed delicate geometric prints in muted autumnal tones of mustard yellow, teal and rust. There were high rounded shoulders, shaggy ruffles, lace and high waisted miniskirts to compliment the swinging maxi dresses that swept so wonderfully down the balcony. I swear there was not one tone of black in the whole darn collection.

Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As I left I noticed that all the goodie bags had been left behind – a sure sign that this particular audience was too good for free hair products, even if they looked as though they might actually use such things. On my way out I made my first and only sighting of Diana Pernet, who writes A Shaded View on Fashion blog but is best noted for her ever-present foot high hair-do. I passed Erdem himself doing a meet ‘n’ greet as I turned to go down the staircase, a large queue of sycophants waiting to fawn over the designer. But I wonder, just how many of those in attendance would ever actually wear his clothes, beautiful as they were?

Diane Pernet
Diane Pernet.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

There’s a big buzz around Erdem, order especially amongst the highly groomed and black attired fash-pack. As I entered Senate House I couldn’t help noting that I looked somewhat out of place, visit this clashing floral print leggings and gold hi tops peeking out below my sensible black coat, my hair somewhat wilder than the average attendee. Author Talitha Stevenson has just written a new book, Disappear, which describes the lives of hedge fund managers and their wives, many of whom work in “fashion” and I think this may have been where they hang out.

my legs, erdem
This is a view of my legs at Erdem. Lovely angle eh?

One great thing about fashion week is the opportunity to visit fabulous venues that I would never otherwise get to know. Senate House is an art deco masterpiece, and the Grand Hall offered a dramatic setting for the Erdem show, enhanced by the huge globe lights that shed a bright diffused luminescence.

Senate House, Erdem
Senate House.

As I was seated on the upper balcony I was given a brief nod of acknowledgement by Sara from Relative MO PR, a girl who I’ve known as long as I’ve worked in fashion – from way back when we were both humble interns gossiping about our bosses and getting drunk on free cocktails at bad model parties. She’s much younger than me, but she’s since risen up the ranks and I am no longer considered worthy of a proper chat.

balcony at erdem
a view from the balcony at Erdem
A view from the balcony at Erdem.

As she crouched next to some doyenne of fashion I overheard their conversation: she’s getting married, with a ceilidh in the countryside. I felt like saying: “Ah, but will your ceilidh band be as good as mine?!” But I didn’t – because it is the job of a fashion PR to chat to the most important people and I most definitely am not considered important. A fact of which I am very proud – I like to exist on the fringes of fashion, getting excited by only those things I think are worth being excited about and staying away from all the behind-the-scenes machinations. But I won’t pretend it’s not highly irritating when someone I’ve known for a very long time no longer sees fit to talk to me. Such is the world of fashion my friends.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

Sometimes the models at a show are just so ultra skinny you are left wondering how they have the energy to stride down the catwalk, let alone do so in a vivacious manner. Erdem was one such show where I was struck by their absolute thinness, no doubt compounded by the pallid make-up and severe pulled back hairdos. But stride they did, criss-crossing the balcony before making a circuit of the downstairs hall. And I thought, why are all these ladies in black getting so excited about Erdem? It’s a strange fact of fashion that those with the most power, the top buyers and PRs, all look exactly the same – the exact opposite in fact of what fashion implores us to do. Erdem showed delicate geometric prints in muted autumnal tones of mustard yellow, teal and rust. There were high rounded shoulders, shaggy ruffles, lace and high waisted miniskirts to compliment the swinging maxi dresses that swept so wonderfully down the balcony. I swear there was not one tone of black in the whole darn collection.

Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As I left I noticed that all the goodie bags had been left behind – a sure sign that this particular audience was too good for free hair products, even if they looked as though they might actually use such things. On my way out I made my first and only sighting of Diana Pernet, who writes A Shaded View on Fashion blog but is best noted for her ever-present foot high hair-do. I then passed Erdem himself doing a meet ‘n’ greet as I turned to go down the staircase, a large queue of sycophants waiting to fawn over the designer. But I wonder, just how many of those in attendance would ever actually wear his clothes, beautiful as they were?

Diane Pernet
Diane Pernet.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

There’s a big buzz around Erdem, web especially amongst the highly groomed and black attired fash-pack. As I entered Senate House I couldn’t help noting that I looked somewhat out of place, physician clashing floral print leggings and gold hi tops peeking out below my sensible black coat, seek my hair somewhat wilder than the average attendee. Author Talitha Stevenson has just written a new book, Disappear, which describes the lives of hedge fund managers and their wives, many of whom work in “fashion” and I think this may have been where they hang out.

my legs, erdem
This is a view of my legs at Erdem. Lovely angle eh?

One great thing about fashion week is the opportunity to visit fabulous venues that I would never otherwise get to know. Senate House is an art deco masterpiece, and the Grand Hall offered a dramatic setting for the Erdem show, enhanced by the huge globe lights that shed a bright diffused luminescence.

Senate House, Erdem
Senate House.

As I was seated on the upper balcony I was given a brief nod of acknowledgement by Sara from Relative MO PR, a girl who I’ve known as long as I’ve worked in fashion – from way back when we were both humble interns gossiping about our bosses and getting drunk on free cocktails at bad model parties. She’s much younger than me, but she’s since risen up the ranks and I am no longer considered worthy of a proper chat.

balcony at erdem
a view from the balcony at Erdem
A view from the balcony at Erdem.

As she crouched next to some doyenne of fashion I overheard their conversation: she’s getting married, with a ceilidh in the countryside. I felt like saying: “Ah, but will your ceilidh band be as good as mine?!” But I didn’t – because it is the job of a fashion PR to chat to the most important people and I most definitely am not considered important. A fact of which I am very proud – I like to exist on the fringes of fashion, getting excited by only those things I think are worth being excited about and staying away from all the behind-the-scenes machinations. But I won’t pretend it’s not highly irritating when someone I’ve known for a very long time no longer sees fit to talk to me. Such is the world of fashion my friends.

Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix
Erdem by Rachel de Ste. Croix.

Sometimes the models at a show are just so ultra skinny you are left wondering how they have the energy to stride down the catwalk, let alone do so in a vivacious manner. Erdem was one such show where I was struck by their absolute thinness, no doubt compounded by the pallid make-up and severe pulled back hairdos. But stride they did, criss-crossing the balcony before making a circuit of the downstairs hall. And I thought, why are all these ladies in black getting so excited about Erdem? It’s a strange fact of fashion that those with the most power, the top buyers and PRs, all look exactly the same – the exact opposite in fact of what fashion implores us to do. Erdem showed delicate geometric prints in muted autumnal tones of mustard yellow, teal and rust. There were high rounded shoulders, shaggy ruffles, lace and high waisted miniskirts to compliment the swinging maxi dresses that swept so wonderfully down the balcony. I swear there was not one tone of black in the whole darn collection.

Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem Photography by Amelia gregory
Erdem. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Erdem. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

As I left I noticed that all the goodie bags had been left behind – a sure sign that this particular audience was too good for free hair products, even if they looked as though they might actually use such things. On my way out I made my first and only sighting of Diana Pernet, who writes A Shaded View on Fashion blog but is best noted for her ever-present foot high hair-do. I then passed Erdem himself doing a meet ‘n’ greet as I turned to go down the staircase, a large queue of sycophants waiting to fawn over the designer. But I wonder, just how many of those in attendance would ever actually wear his clothes, beautiful as they were?

Diane Pernet
Diane Pernet.

Sparky Deathcap is a twenty-something musician and artist from Cheshire, sale whose wry tales of love and loss are in turns hilarious and heartwrenching. You may have caught him recently supporting the likes of Los Campesinos! and Hot Club de Paris.

On songs like “Berlin Syndrome”, ampoule guitars and handclaps loop and whirl around lyrics like, page “Since then you just make cameos when I’m asleep/you’re the William Shatner of this elite genre of women that I have loved and lost,” creating a lo-fi landscape one that is simultaneously bleak and full of warmth. At times the songs are reminiscent of early Smog, when Bill Callahan wrote songs like he had a sense of humour and sometimes felt a bit awkward. As well as the recent Tear Jerky EP (available here) he maintains a brilliant cartoon blog at his website.

It’s a busy year for Sparky, off on a European tour as we speak, but I managed to send a few emails back and forth about comic books, rock operas and the Wonder Years.

So, you’re on tour with Los Campesinos! right now, how’s that going?

It has been really fun, it’s an absolute privilege to tour with my friends Los Campesinos! and the supports, Islet and Swanton Bombs, are two outrageously good bands. It was my birthday the other day coinciding with our Aberdeen date and the crowd sang happy birthday to me which was a really touching moment.

Sparky Deathcap presumably isn’t your real name – is it a sort of onstage personal that allows you to unleash your inner diva, like Beyonce Knowles’ Sasha Fierce?

I originally chose it something like 5 years ago when I started doing the one man and a guitar thing live because I felt like it would be easier to play if I could invent a persona. Now, however, there isn’t really a great separation between Sparky Deathcap and me, except for when I remember some of the crap, depressing gigs I used to do and I think about younger Sparky as this sort of beleaguered little brother or something and how excited he’d be by the exciting things I’m getting to do at the moment. Crikey, my mind is like Fellini directing The Wonder Years. Edited by Lassie.

When you play live you have drawings projected behind you, do you think you might ever make a whole comic book, is that something you’d be interested in?

Oh I have grand, grand plans for comic books. I’m working on a little comics booklet for my album and an illustrated valentines rock opera for next year. I’m also trying to resurrect my weekly comic strip for my new blog. The trouble is that comics are incredibly labour intensive. Chris Ware pointed out once that unlike writing a novel, comics don’t allow any sort of natural flow to occur as every page has to be planned out as a whole and so the panels within in it are predestined. I’d love to create a big Clowesian comic book one day, but for now I have to concentrate upon producing small, gimmicky things to “build my profile”… urggggghhhh, the modern world… adulthood…

You mentioned your rock opera there, what does that involve?

That was something I wrote for a ukulele festival in Manchester last year on Valentine’s Day. I was wrongly under the impression that we had to perform the whole thing on ukulele and didn’t really have any ukulele songs so I set about writing a sort of musical/rock opera about an organ transplant van driver finding love whilst snowbound in a rural town. I drew some illustrations for my old overhead projector as well. I hope to turn it into a special edition record and book for next year’s Valentine’s Day.

Musically, who would you call your biggest influences? You get compared to Jeffrey Lewis a lot, right? But that seems like a pretty easy comparison for anyone who sings and draws…

I have an awful lot of respect, naturally, for Jeffrey Lewis, and he has obviously influenced some aspects of my live show, even if it is in trying to steer away from his territory as much as I possibly can. I suppose the bands I have revered the most over the years are The Beach Boys, Pavement, Smog, Silver Jews, Magnetic Fields and Why?, but increasingly I’m becoming very interested in Steve Reich and Bill Evans. In terms of my artwork I’m very heavily influenced by Archer Prewitt, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine and Marcel Dzama. Archer Prewitt is another artist/musician; he plays in the The Sea And Cake and under his own name whilst also drawing the incomparable Sof’ Boy comics.

So, after this tour, what’s next for Sparky Deathcap?

Next up: more touring with Los Camp. I’m trying to perfect my world-weary, “oh, touring is such a drag,” but in truth it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. We have European and US tours to come which will be really amazing. In between I’m working hard on writing and recording my album, which is really very exciting.

Categories ,cartoon, ,cartoons, ,comics, ,interview, ,islet, ,Jeffrey Lewis, ,Los Campesinos, ,Singer Songwriter, ,sparky deathcap, ,swanton bombs, ,tearjerky

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Amelia’s Magazine | Los Campesinos!

Cardiff’s beautiful and in my opinion best venue, The Point is more than 3/4 full this evening. For a band that had released just one single before today this is a rather remarkable achievement in itself. Los Campesinos! are the current Cardiff buzz band, the latest ‘talking’ band if you like. So, frenzied excitement aplenty greets the seven members – who have all incidentally, and rather ridiculously changed their surnames to Campesinos! (Yes, with the exclamation mark).

There is no formal introduction from the band, it is only after two rather lacklustre numbers do we get a mumbling of ‘Hi, we are from Cathays’ (Cardiff’s student district), which is greeted with a handful of whoops of recognition from the audience. Things brighten up next with a more raucous female led offering. It is somewhat spoiled by a final minute of unnecessary thrashing, but it is the first song of note of the evening.

The bands set up is quite bizarre and there is a definite divide onstage – one half is home to the static Campesinos’, whilst the other features the grooving Campesinos’. Furthermore, for a band with seven members, their sound, for large chunks of tonight’s set at least was very rudimentary – and I found myself questioning band members’ contributions, wondering if their roles were necessary.

However, new single ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ (Y, they do love an exclamation mark) was the definite set highlight and suggested that there was at least some merit behind the hype. Layered guitars, spiky bass and a catchy chorus – and it felt like the whole band contributed as well. If only they could do this more often.

With their debut album not scheduled for release until 2008, there is still plenty of time for Los Campesinos to develop and improve. They certainly need to if they are not to fade into obscurity. Unfortuatley on tonight’s evidence they are a band running before they can walk.

Categories ,Band, ,Live, ,Los Campesinos!, ,The Point

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Amelia’s Magazine | Gig Review: Wichita 10th Anniversary Celebrations at The Highbury Garage


Peggy Sue Illustration by Emilie Lashmar

Wichita, price the record label that has brought us Bloc Party, The Cribs, Los Campesinos! and Simian Mobile Disco (to name but a few) continued its 10th Anniversary celebrations at the Relentless™ Garage in sunny Highbury. As a special birthday treat, early arrivals received a gift bag full of delightful Wichita goodies, including a Simian Mobile Disco vinyl LP and the new album from Peter, Bjorn and John. The resultant hubbub and excited rustling of bags did little to detract from a nice opening set from Meg Baird, whose delicate fingerpicking and lush, hushed vocals set the tone for a great evening of folk.

Next on stage was the more vivacious Peggy Sue, who didn’t hesitate to show a dazzled crowd why their debut album Fossils and Other Phantoms was so critically acclaimed. Opening the set with the captivating, percussive ‘Watchman’, Rosa and Katy really were a surprise and a delight – consider me a convert. Their luxurious, soulful vocal harmonies were only outdone by their impressive instrumental dexterity, alternating effortlessly between guitar, percussion, ukulele and accordion. With Olly’s marching drums ably complemented by the violin and cello of Becca and Emma, the highlight of the set came in the form of a particularly stunning rendition of ‘Yo Mama’, its chirruping, Gallic accordion and bluesy lead riff laying a spirited backdrop to Katy and Rosa’s spectacular voices. As the girls finished their all-too-brief set with a modest thanks to Wichita and the crowd, the sheer volume of rapturous applause (particularly in such an intimate venue) was a real testament to the performance. You can’t help but get the impression these two have only good things on the horizon.


Illustration by Jill Patterson

Last up were headliners (and perennial Amelia’s Mag favourites First Aid Kit, each taking to the stage in stunning gold dresses – Klara’s marbled with purple paisley, Johanna’s with a magnificent Persian pattern flecked with deep reds and autumnal browns. As someone who had heard little of their music beyond their fantastic cover of Fleet Foxes’ ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ (Youtube it) and recent single ‘I Met Up With the King’, I was pleasantly surprised by their laid-back, distinctly acoustic folk-pop; mature, intricate lyrics and the sibling’s vocal harmonies – the combination of which results in a sound reminiscent of Tegan and Sara’s ‘So Jealous’ crossed with the aforementioned Foxes’ eponymous first album.

Despite coming off a little awkward at first, Johanna and Clara soon settled into a relaxed, warm-hearted banter with the crowd between songs as they made their way through debut album ‘The Big Black and The Blue’. It was settling in to be a perfectly pleasant – if unremarkable – set until, four or five songs in, Kara brazenly unplugged her guitar and the sisters emerged from behind the microphones and belted out a beautiful rendition of ‘Ghost Town’ to the muted room. The stripped down version of an already great song perfectly played to the intimate setting.

The spectacle didn’t stop there. Perhaps buoyed by the song’s thunderous reception, the girls then proceeded to hilariously produce four tickets to this weekend’s Latitude festival, before plucking four volunteering fans from the crowd for a heart-warming demonstration of the brave souls’ lyrical knowledge, with a pair of tickets going to the two winners. It certainly brought the evening to life, as the crowd – now buzzing with excitable chatter – cheered on their favourite contestant. And although you had to feel bad for the unlucky guy and gal who left the stage empty handed, it was impossible not to be charmed.

Closing off the set with the lovely lilting melodies of ‘I Met Up With The King’ was a perfect end to the evening (and no, I wasn’t biased by it being the only song I knew all the lyrics to). Emerging from the Garage and shuffling sleepy-eyed towards the Tube with a bag full of music treats, I couldn’t help but feel contented: beautiful music, memorable chatter and an irrepressible charm to the whole occasion – it perfectly summed up Wichita as a label. And the celebrations aren’t over; the likes of Los Campesinos! (a truly great live act), The Cribs and Johnny Foreigner are still to come later this week. On the basis of last night, it will be well worth a look.

Categories ,Bloc Party, ,First Aid Kit, ,Gig review, ,Los Campesinos, ,Meg Baird, ,Peggy Sue, ,Tegan and Sara, ,The Cribs, ,The Garage, ,Wichita Recordings

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