Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with cake designer and alternative baker Lily Vanilli, a.k.a. Lily Jones

Photography courtesy of Michael Clements

I first heard of Lily Vanilli last year when I read an article in The Observer Magazine about the candidates who made the shortlist for Courvoisier The Future 500 (2009). The graphic designer-turned-bespoke cake designer was listed in the top five and cited as one of the rising stars to watch for her innovative approach to cake baking.

Turning the cupcake business on its head, try Lily’s delicious cakes are the antithesis of the conventional, story cutesy cupcake with their unusual and macabre themes. Her fabulous creations are essentially mini edible sculptures (e.g marzipan beetles, decease morbid meringue bones, etc), an aesthetic delight, which are all crafted by hand in Lily’s kitchen in East London. This, combined with unusual ingredients such as bacon and avocado and a killer melt-in-the mouth sponge recipe, makes for a thrilling culinary experience. Speaking as a dessert fiend and as someone who has sampled Lily’s gourmet cakes, I have never been happier to move over to the dark side of cake!

Lily’s imaginative style to cake baking and kooky creations have earned her somewhat of a cult status within the industry and her decadent cupcakes, which are tailored specifically for each occasion, have featured at parties for Elton John, Henry Holland, Sadie Frost, Hello Kitty, Downing Street, Saatchi Gallery, Levi’s and The Sunday Times. Not bad for someone who only started baking as a hobby.


Photography courtesy of Cico Books

Last month saw the launch of Lily’s first ever book, ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake’, in which she shares her secret recipes for the first time ever. Guaranteed to be unlike any cake baking book you already own, ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!’ is a graphic horror novel/cookbook comic featuring 25 gory recipes ranging from Sweeney Todd’s Surprise, a chocolate cupcake which looks like a pie with a severed bloodied finger poking out of it, to Bleeding Hearts, which, well, looks like squashed bleeding hearts with arteries and veins attached ‘n’ all.

Featuring other sweet treats aptly named ‘Eerie Eyeballs’, ‘Shattered Glass’ and ‘Marzipan Beetles’, the book is a visual feast, fusing the worlds of art and cuisine. With quirky detailed comic illustrations provided by up-and-coming illustrator Paul Parker, ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!’ is a must for any cupcake enthusiast who is ready to take on the challenge of some slightly more sinister baking.

To celebrate the launch of Lily’s new book and her cupcake range at Harrods, Amelia’s Magazine caught up with the alternative cake designer and baker to talk about experimental food movements, taking on the cupcake world and crowd surfing with Nick Griffin’s head…

Photography courtesy of Cico Books

Your background is as a graphic designer – do you think the skills you picked up during your training have helped you in your cake baking career at all?
I was a self-taught designer and I’m a self-taught baker so I never had any training for either! I definitely think there are transferable skills though and it’s valuable to learn how to apply yourself and your creativity to different things; design skills are always useful these days.

What excites you most about being in the cake baking industry?
I think it is a really exciting time for food in the UK; take a look at the Experimental Food Society of which I am a member. There are lots of young and creative people pushing boundaries in food. I think this is just the beginning and it’s going to get really fun. 

What sparked off the idea of going against the conventional cutesy cupcake?
It was a backlash. I was accidentally thrust into the world of the ‘cupcake’ which was never my intention as a baker, and I found it saturated with style-over-substance, overly sweet cakes, iced in glitter and sprinkles and sold at inflated prices. I wanted to bring it back to quality and play with preconceptions of appearance, for example, baking things that were ugly to look at but using quality ingredients.


Photography courtesy of Cico Books

How did you come up with the ideas for the different recipes in your book?
It didn’t take much! I love horror and the macabre and I always had a fascination with things like insects and dark stories like Sweeney Todd. I just played around for a few hours and that was it.

On average, how long does it take you to perfect a recipe including the design?
Most of my recipes are works-in-progress that I have been developing for years. It starts with a flavour or an idea about a perfect cake – texture, smell, flavour, etc – and then I develop it from there. None of my recipes are ever finished. I’m always tweaking and improving things, or adding a new twist. I have one cake, it was the first one I developed, which I have been working on for years – it always gets better. It’s a very wintry cake so I’ll be making it again soon. I can’t wait!

How did you end up working with Paul Parker on the illustrations in your book?
I originally got in touch with an artist I really admire called Richard ‘French’ Sayer. He makes these very beautiful dark and twisted black and white drawings, we had a few meetings about the project and he loved the idea, but once we got started it turned out it wasn’t a perfect fit for the book so he recommended Paul and straight away he completely nailed it. Paul’s work is much more colourful and the comic book/graphic horror novel style was exactly what I wanted. Everything I described to him he produced perfectly. He’s really young and just getting started but I think he’s going to do great things!

Photography courtesy of Cico Books

Have you had any cake baking disasters?
I once made a sculpture of Nick Griffin’s head for an event called ‘ The British Internationalists Party’. I spent about eight hours on it but it died (due to structural issues). We used it anyway and it crowd surfed at a gig, completely deformed by then. People were biting chunks out of it on the sweaty dance floor and marzipan ears were flying around – it was all pretty crazy! The worst part of it was that I had to look at images of Nick Griffin for a full day.

What’s the best cupcake you’ve ever had?
Definitely the best cupcake I’ve ever had is my vanilla with passionfruit, coconut & toasted almond. It really is just the perfect cake – so light and fluffy with a slight chewy texture at the top and beautiful vanilla flavours with gentle creamy buttercream and the sharpness and flavour of the passionfruit balances any sweetness. I made it the perfect cupcake for me, so I definitely say that’s the best one I’ve had…

Who do you most admire in the cake baking industry and why?
There are some really talented cake sculptors, such as Michelle Wibowo and Louise from Love to Cake, but the really exciting people for me in food are people like Bompas & Parr who bring art and science into food creation and push boundaries with everything they do.

What’s next for Lily Vanilli?
I’m launching at Harrods at the moment! This is a huge step for me as they are my first supplier. We will keep it seasonal and creative with new flavours each month. This month sees a special ‘Bonfire night’ cupcake. It’s a warm, wintery spiced cake, with a light lemon frosting and a popping candy chocolate disk with caremelised biscuit. It explodes in your mouth and tastes delicious! I think it’s a real sign of progress for foods in the UK that one of the worlds most visited and prestigious food halls would take a chance on an artisan baker from East London… I’m very excited!

Lily’s new book ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!’ is published by Cico Books and can be purchased here. 

Categories ,A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, ,Bompas & Parr, ,Downing Street, ,Elton John, ,Experimental Food Society, ,Harrods, ,Hello Kitty, ,Henry Holland, ,Kat Phan, ,Levi’s, ,Lily Jones, ,Lily Vanilli, ,Michelle Wibowo, ,Nick Griffin, ,Paul Parker, ,Richard ‘French’ Sayer, ,Saatchi Gallery, ,Sadie Frost, ,Sweeney Todd, ,The Courvoisier Future 500, ,The Observer Magazine, ,The Sunday Times

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with cake designer and alternative baker Lily Vanilli, a.k.a. Lily Jones

Photography courtesy of Michael Clements

I first heard of Lily Vanilli last year when I read an article in The Observer Magazine about the candidates who made the shortlist for Courvoisier The Future 500 (2009). The graphic designer-turned-bespoke cake designer was listed in the top five and cited as one of the rising stars to watch for her innovative approach to cake baking.

Turning the cupcake business on its head, Lily’s delicious cakes are the antithesis of the conventional, cutesy cupcake with their unusual and macabre themes. Her fabulous creations are essentially mini edible sculptures (e.g marzipan beetles, morbid meringue bones, etc), an aesthetic delight, which are all crafted by hand in Lily’s kitchen in East London. This, combined with unusual ingredients such as bacon and avocado and a killer melt-in-the mouth sponge recipe, makes for a thrilling culinary experience. Speaking as a dessert fiend and as someone who has sampled Lily’s gourmet cakes, I have never been happier to move over to the dark side of cake!

Lily’s imaginative style to cake baking and kooky creations have earned her somewhat of a cult status within the industry and her decadent cupcakes, which are tailored specifically for each occasion, have featured at parties for Elton John, Henry Holland, Sadie Frost, Hello Kitty, Downing Street, Saatchi Gallery, Levi’s and The Sunday Times. Not bad for someone who only started baking as a hobby.


Photography courtesy of Cico Books

Last month saw the launch of Lily’s first ever book, ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake’, in which she shares her secret recipes for the first time ever. Guaranteed to be unlike any cake baking book you already own, ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!’ is a graphic horror novel/cookbook comic featuring 25 gory recipes ranging from Sweeney Todd’s Surprise, a chocolate cupcake which looks like a pie with a severed bloodied finger poking out of it, to Bleeding Hearts, which, well, looks like squashed bleeding hearts with arteries and veins attached ‘n’ all.

Featuring other sweet treats aptly named ‘Eerie Eyeballs’, ‘Shattered Glass’ and ‘Marzipan Beetles’, the book is a visual feast, fusing the worlds of art and cuisine. With quirky detailed comic illustrations provided by up-and-coming illustrator Paul Parker, ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!’ is a must for any cupcake enthusiast who is ready to take on the challenge of some slightly more sinister baking.

To celebrate the launch of Lily’s new book and her cupcake range at Harrods, Amelia’s Magazine caught up with the alternative cake designer and baker to talk about experimental food movements, taking on the cupcake world and crowd surfing with Nick Griffin’s head…

Photography courtesy of Cico Books

Your background is as a graphic designer – do you think the skills you picked up during your training have helped you in your cake baking career at all?
I was a self-taught designer and I’m a self-taught baker so I never had any training for either! I definitely think there are transferable skills though and it’s valuable to learn how to apply yourself and your creativity to different things; design skills are always useful these days.

What excites you most about being in the cake baking industry?
I think it is a really exciting time for food in the UK; take a look at the Experimental Food Society of which I am a member. There are lots of young and creative people pushing boundaries in food. I think this is just the beginning and it’s going to get really fun. 

What sparked off the idea of going against the conventional cutesy cupcake?
It was a backlash. I was accidentally thrust into the world of the ‘cupcake’ which was never my intention as a baker, and I found it saturated with style-over-substance, overly sweet cakes, iced in glitter and sprinkles and sold at inflated prices. I wanted to bring it back to quality and play with preconceptions of appearance, for example, baking things that were ugly to look at but using quality ingredients.


Photography courtesy of Cico Books

How did you come up with the ideas for the different recipes in your book?
It didn’t take much! I love horror and the macabre and I always had a fascination with things like insects and dark stories like Sweeney Todd. I just played around for a few hours and that was it.

On average, how long does it take you to perfect a recipe including the design?
Most of my recipes are works-in-progress that I have been developing for years. It starts with a flavour or an idea about a perfect cake – texture, smell, flavour, etc – and then I develop it from there. None of my recipes are ever finished. I’m always tweaking and improving things, or adding a new twist. I have one cake, it was the first one I developed, which I have been working on for years – it always gets better. It’s a very wintry cake so I’ll be making it again soon. I can’t wait!

How did you end up working with Paul Parker on the illustrations in your book?
I originally got in touch with an artist I really admire called Richard ‘French’ Sayer. He makes these very beautiful dark and twisted black and white drawings, we had a few meetings about the project and he loved the idea, but once we got started it turned out it wasn’t a perfect fit for the book so he recommended Paul and straight away he completely nailed it. Paul’s work is much more colourful and the comic book/graphic horror novel style was exactly what I wanted. Everything I described to him he produced perfectly. He’s really young and just getting started but I think he’s going to do great things!

Photography courtesy of Cico Books

Have you had any cake baking disasters?
I once made a sculpture of Nick Griffin’s head for an event called ‘ The British Internationalists Party’. I spent about eight hours on it but it died (due to structural issues). We used it anyway and it crowd surfed at a gig, completely deformed by then. People were biting chunks out of it on the sweaty dance floor and marzipan ears were flying around – it was all pretty crazy! The worst part of it was that I had to look at images of Nick Griffin for a full day.

What’s the best cupcake you’ve ever had?
Definitely the best cupcake I’ve ever had is my vanilla with passionfruit, coconut & toasted almond. It really is just the perfect cake – so light and fluffy with a slight chewy texture at the top and beautiful vanilla flavours with gentle creamy buttercream and the sharpness and flavour of the passionfruit balances any sweetness. I made it the perfect cupcake for me, so I definitely say that’s the best one I’ve had…

Who do you most admire in the cake baking industry and why?
There are some really talented cake sculptors, such as Michelle Wibowo and Louise from Love to Cake, but the really exciting people for me in food are people like Bompas & Parr who bring art and science into food creation and push boundaries with everything they do.

What’s next for Lily Vanilli?
I’m launching at Harrods at the moment! This is a huge step for me as they are my first supplier. We will keep it seasonal and creative with new flavours each month. This month sees a special ‘Bonfire night’ cupcake. It’s a warm, wintery spiced cake, with a light lemon frosting and a popping candy chocolate disk with caremelised biscuit. It explodes in your mouth and tastes delicious! I think it’s a real sign of progress for foods in the UK that one of the worlds most visited and prestigious food halls would take a chance on an artisan baker from East London… I’m very excited!

Lily’s new book ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!’ is published by Cico Books and can be purchased here. 

Categories ,A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, ,Bompas & Parr, ,Downing Street, ,Elton John, ,Experimental Food Society, ,Harrods, ,Hello Kitty, ,Henry Holland, ,Kat Phan, ,Levi’s, ,Lily Jones, ,Lily Vanilli, ,Michelle Wibowo, ,Nick Griffin, ,Paul Parker, ,Richard ‘French’ Sayer, ,Saatchi Gallery, ,Sadie Frost, ,Sweeney Todd, ,The Courvoisier Future 500, ,The Observer Magazine, ,The Sunday Times

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Amelia’s Magazine | John Grant – Queen of Denmark – Album Review

I’ve always been a fiend when it comes to graphic novels. It stems back down to a childhood as a bona fide geek, medications whom attended comic book conventions religiously and kept my collection in cellophane envelopes. It was Joseph Campbell who said that “Throughout the inhabited world, shop in all times and under every circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind. It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.” And in modern times, I’ve always seen the graphic novel as our primary manifestation of the modern myth.
So I get pretty worked up when I find out that Northampton born singer/songwriter VV Brown has collaborated with film-maker David Allain to produce a graphic novel ‘City of Abacus’ which will be released later in the year, and featured in an exhibition debuting at The Book Club this May.
Exiled in New York due to the volcanic debacle, I email interview VV Brown to get some insight into her new project.

How did you decide to transition from music into graphic novels? It was easy. I just did what I wanted to do. It was really fun to work with David Allain also and Emma Price.

What other graphic novels or artists have inspired you to explore this field?
I really love “A Jew in communist Prague” by Vittorio Giardino, “Tintin in Tibet” by Hergé, “Its a good life if you don’t weaken” by Seth,” Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid. There are so many. “Strangers in paradise: I dream of you” by Terry Moore and “The league of extraordinary men” by Alan Moore, who is from my home town Northampton

How did the collaboration with David Allain and Emma Price come about? Just friendships and creative juices flowing. David Allain is also a filmmaker and video director and he did my very first music video, Crying Blood.

Can you tell me a little bit about the concept behind ‘City of Abacus’? It’s about a city, which continues to suppress its people, and numbs down the minds of the individuals making them less creative. Its an epic tale of them being enlightened out of this quagmire.

Are you intending on expanding on stories outside of ‘City of Abacus’ or is this a one-off project? There will be 7 comics released each month between May and November and a graphic novel in December bringing all 7 comics together to read back to back as a novel. You can buy from www.thecityofabacus.com and an application for the iphone and ipad will be coming soon!

Having free-fallen into the darkest depths of despair after the imploding of his band The Czars in 2004, John Grant now makes a welcome return to the music scene with the help of Texas soft-rockers Midlake, more about who provide the acoustic backdrop for his rich, symptoms delicate, velvet-lined vocals.

Drawing on the musical influences of early 1970s Americana, reminiscent of Jackson Browne, Neil Young and – dareIsayit – Elton John, Grant’s debut solo offering does have an easy AM melody radio vibe to it; however, don’t be fooled as the stark contrast of the subject matter demands a closer listen.

Queen of Denmark is a heartbreaking and soul-baring record dealing with the joys and pains of love, depression, destruction, isolation, being gay, wanting to kill yourself, and redemption – so pretty light-hearted stuff, really.

The album opens with ‘TC and Honeybear’, a poignant torch song about insecurity, love and loss, showcasing Grant’s tender baritone bursting with emotion against neat finger picking, fluttering flute and celestial soprano. This is followed by ‘Marz’, a track with dreamy sentiments which wouldn’t sound out of place for an eerie film’s closing credits about lost youth. Here we are projected back to the comfort blanket days of Grant’s youth when life’s complexities passed him by. Grant wistfully reflects on the beauty of childhood innocence by listing the fantastic Willy Wonka-style names of sweets and treats of his local candy store.

Even when Grant is battling with his own crippling insecurities, he manages to do this with heart-clutching humour and sincerity. ‘Sigourney Weaver’ opens with melodramatic-infused synth, where he compares himself to the actress when she battles with the aliens; a parallel that he draws to how he was feeling following his move from Michigan to Colorado, on the cusp of puberty, and being ostracised at school for being gay.

In dealing with gloom, Grant often uses humour and wit as an antidote for his pain and suffering, which he demonstrates aptly in the sprightlier ‘Silver Platter Club’. As orchestral string arrangements are traded for Beatles-inspired ragtime, complete with parade-style trumpet, Grant gets his own back by poking fun at the ‘jocks’ he went to school with who had the looks, athleticism and natural effortless masculinity, which he longed for when he was growing up, along with the durable personality: ”I wish I had no self awareness like the guys I know…who float right through their lives without a thought”.

This upbeat pace continues to weave itself into the record’s tapestry in ‘Jesus Hates Faggots’, where Grant draws on his traumatised experience of growing up gay in a religious household in small town America to direct his bile against his family and conventional society as a whole. Grant dramatically opens with: “I’ve been uncomfortable since the day I was born” to muted synth and dirty bass, with further revealing lyrics about having to face his internal demons about coming to terms with his sexuality: “I can’t believe that I’ve considered taking my own life because I believed the lies about me were the truth”.

In ‘Caramel’, Grant adopts a Jeff Buckleyesque vibrato to expose himself like an egg without as shell on one of the strongest tracks on the album. Essentially a tale of an overwhelming and consuming love, the honest and tender lyrics accompanied by simplistic piano and hypnotic synth leaves you with the feeling of being suspended into the thick darkness of space, drifting to the edges of the unknown, whilst admiring the luminous beauty of the stars from afar.

The album comes to a dramatic close with title track ‘Queen of Denmark’, which takes on a Nilsson-cum-Meatloaf slant, lyrically delivered with heartbreaking yet humorous candour: “I wanted to change the world but I couldn’t change my underpants…(my hairline) keeps receding like my self confidence”. A highly charged ballad that deals with relationship and self-destruction alike, Grant’s vocals swell with his distaste for himself and the world in general to the point where he is almost exploding with anger and frustration. A bipolar track which has Grant swinging between emotional extremes like a pendulum, it’s a raw and honest account of a person on the verge of complete annihilation and a fitting grand finale to an album fuelled by a deadly cocktail of impossible pain, regret, fear, alienation, hatred, anger and self-discovery.

Despite the danger of being labelled as just another emotionally battered singer-songwriter, Grant manages to succeed where others have failed by combining his deeply sad experiences with caustic wit and foresaking his dignity to gain compassion and sympathy. However, all of this is not without credit to Midlake. If Grant’s warm baritone and heartfelt lyrics are a high-rolling Michelin-starred gourmet meal then Midlake’s flawless orchestral arrangements would be the fine vintage wine washing it down.

The path of transforming pained experiences into exquisite art forms is a well trodden one and Queens of Denmark is certainly Grant’s testament to this. For someone who has suffered such debilitating self-criticism and self-hatred throughout their lives to the point where they have even questioned the notion of living, you can’t help but want Grant to succeed.

And with the album released to critical acclaim, a US tour already underway and a European tour starting in June, Mr Grant’s darker days may have well and truly found their place behind him.

Categories ,Elton John, ,Jackson Browne, ,Jeff Buckley, ,John Grant, ,Kat Phan, ,Meatloaf, ,Midlake, ,Neil Young, ,Nilsson, ,Queen of Denmark, ,Singer Songwriter, ,The Czars

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Amelia’s Magazine | Iron and Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean – Album review

tube
Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From twit updates, viagra 60mg I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst we’d been at work.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, this site Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, buy information pills we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

6dayriot-ACOFI-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration of 6 Day Riot by Mina Bach

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to find out, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the WORD etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Akeela pic of me

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Abby_Wright_Amelia_Gregory_ACOFI
Illustration of Amelia, lady of the night by Abby Wright

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Contributor Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From twit updates, approved I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst we’d been at work.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

6dayriot-ACOFI-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration of 6 Day Riot by Mina Bach

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to find out, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the WORD etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Akeela pic of me

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Abby_Wright_Amelia_Gregory_ACOFI
Illustration of Amelia, lady of the night by Abby Wright

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Contributor Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

tube
Photo by Annie Mole, flickr

Excitable, energised, excellent, ends.

Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From twit updates, medical I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst we’d been at work.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, nurse Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

6dayriot-ACOFI-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration of 6 Day Riot by Mina Bach

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to find out, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the WORD etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Akeela pic of me

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Abby_Wright_Amelia_Gregory_ACOFI
Illustration of Amelia, lady of the night by Abby Wright

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Contributor Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

tube
Photo by Annie Mole, flickr

Excitable, energised, excellently enjoyable. Ends.

Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From twit updates, more about I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst we’d been at work.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, stomach Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

6dayriot-ACOFI-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration of 6 Day Riot by Mina Bach

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to find out, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the WORD etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Akeela pic of me

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Abby_Wright_Amelia_Gregory_ACOFI
Illustration of Amelia, lady of the night by Abby Wright

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Contributor Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

tube
Photo by Annie Mole, flickr

Excitable, energised, excellently enjoyable. Ends.

Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From twit updates, information pills I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst we’d been at work.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

6dayriot-ACOFI-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration of 6 Day Riot by Mina Bach

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to find out, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the word etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Akeela pic of me

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Abby_Wright_Amelia_Gregory_ACOFI
Illustration of Amelia, lady of the night by Abby Wright

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Contributor Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

tube
Photo by Annie Mole, flickr

Excitable, energised, excellently enjoyable. Ends.

Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From twit updates, sale I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst i’d been sat at my rectangular Apple.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, ed Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

6dayriot-ACOFI-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration of 6 Day Riot by Mina Bach

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to find out, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the word etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Akeela pic of me

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Abby_Wright_Amelia_Gregory_ACOFI
Illustration of Amelia, lady of the night by Abby Wright

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Contributor Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

tube
Photo by Annie Mole, flickr

Excitable, energised, excellently enjoyable. Ends.

Iron and Wine Album Artwork

Iron and Wine. Two great sources of, generic well, iron. And so it was I settled down with a glass of rouge to better test the mettle of this, Sam Beam’s fourth studio album. Would his steely sense of reinvention produce a varied bouquet to top 2007’s The Shepherd Dog? Ok, that’s enough Iron and Wine jokes. Or is it? Because as this full-bodied release unfolds, it becomes clear that Beam has incorporated a host of currently unfashionable influences into his music without a hint of iron-y.

The ever-inventive Beam has taken inspiration for this album by “mingling memories of his parents’ record collection and hits heard between the static of scanning the car radio on family drives”. Whether or not the album conjures up similar memories for you mainly depends on whether your parents were into the radio friendly 70s MOR of Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Stevie Wonder et al. As it happens, mine were into Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and the Stones – however there’s definitely a touch of Still Crazy-era Paul Simon in the melodic cadences and caustic lyrics of this record.

Iron & Wine by Jennifer Oliver -1
IMAGE: Iron and Wine by Jennifer Oliver

It’s all good news for fans of the humble saxophone. Starting off with a low key slap bass and shakers, Me and Lazarus is maybe the biggest departure on the album for Beam, building as it does into 70’s Earth Wind and Fire-style funk, with spiraling sax solos.

Brass instruments are further put to good use in Big Burned Hand and Your Fake Name is Good Enough For Me, the latter’s almost Motown horn section contributing to an epic gospel track that ends with the refrain “We will become the glory and the guilt, the blossom and the wilt”. It’s a gorgeous sounding record, with probably Beam’s most accessible melodies to date backed by cinematic layers of sound and African and Caribbean rhythms.

The album’s centrepiece is the delicately textured Rabbit Will Run, with it’s combination of African thumb pianos, discordant electric guitar and flutes reminiscent of The Stones’ Ruby Tuesday. It’s a complex yet strikingly subtle sound, backing Beam’s warning that “a rabbit will run, if the lion has nothing to fear”.

Ruby Tuesday:

Iron and Wine by Ray Lee-1

IMAGE: Iron and Wine by Ray Lee

Beam’s gentle poeticism has been compared to Cormac McCarthy, and it shines on this album, with his customary biblical undertones. In the more straightforward folk couplets of opener Walking Far From Home, he sings “I’ve seen sinners making music, and I’ve dreamt of that sound”.

It’s all come a long way from 2002’s lo-fi debut The Creek Drank the Cradle, when Beam was introduced to us as a folk singer in the mould of Bonny Prince Billy. His work is now more reminiscent of such willfully inventive multi-instumentalists as Sufjan Stevens, and, if he continues to be so open to inspiration, he has the scope to be regarded in the same class as, whisper it, the aforementioned Paul Simon.

Kiss Each Other Clean is out now on 4AD

Categories ,Bonny Prince Billy, ,Cormac McCarthy, ,Earth Wind and Fire, ,Elton John, ,fleetwood mac, ,Iron and Wine, ,Jennifer Oliver, ,Kiss Each Other Clean, ,MOR, ,Paul Simon, ,Ray Lee, ,Ruby Tuesday, ,Sam Beam, ,Stevie Wonder, ,Still crazy after all these years, ,Sufjan Stevens, ,The Rolling Stones, ,The Shepherd Dog

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Joan As Police Woman


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall,” announced Joan Wasser as an introduction to “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two middle-aged men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and whose house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music playing in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin with Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons, yet it as only in 2004 that you decided to front your own band. Why was there this delay?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Whose house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free three track download from the new record, click here.

Joan As Police Woman – The Magic YouTube Preview Image

Categories ,Antony and The Johnsons, ,Aysim Genc, ,Beethoven, ,Black Beetle, ,Darren Fletcher, ,Elton John, ,Joan As Police Woman, ,Joan Wasser, ,Kat Phan, ,Lou Reed, ,Matilde Sazio, ,prince, ,Real Life, ,Rufus Wainwright, ,The Barbican, ,The Deep Field, ,The Spitz, ,To Survive

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Joan As Police Woman


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, illness ” announced Joan Wasser as an introduction to “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two middle-aged men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and whose house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music playing in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin with Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons, yet it as only in 2004 that you decided to front your own band. Why was there this delay?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Whose house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free three track download from the new record, click here.

Joan As Police Woman – The Magic YouTube Preview Image

Categories ,Antony and The Johnsons, ,Aysim Genc, ,Beethoven, ,Black Beetle, ,Darren Fletcher, ,Elton John, ,Joan As Police Woman, ,Joan Wasser, ,Kat Phan, ,Lou Reed, ,Matilde Sazio, ,prince, ,Real Life, ,Rufus Wainwright, ,The Barbican, ,The Deep Field, ,The Spitz, ,To Survive

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