Amelia’s Magazine | Sea of Bees: Songs for the Ravens – Album Review

sea-of-bees

In autumn nature is vibrant, story drug but also gently muffled, dosage there as it whispers within the trees and slowly looks away from the warmer month’s naivety and brash explosions. These later, brown, red and golden months are melancholic and self defining. The blurriness of the previous heated moments become filed in nostalgia and glorious knitwear is exposed. The perfect music to announce this new phase, both outside your window and inside your stirring consciousness, is sweet, sensitive and yet, triumphant. Determination backing you up like a personal yoga instructor. Sea of Bees is the music you long for. Trust in Californian, Julie Ann Bee, to drift over in her ship and sail you away to a reflective, inspirational paradise.

Sea of Bees is ethereal in her folk sound. Her pitch is high and her instruments hark out in a manner less like ho-down festivity, more like modest little eruptions. There is an element of Decoder Ring, Laura Marling and Joanna Newsom in Julie. This is mixed with a distinct Californian, hippie edge. Despite a voice of sweeties personified (flying saucers), she has more bite than a girly girl, achieving this impression through her guitars, drums and confidence in her flowing notes. She’s that girl you see dancing with her eyes closed, oblivious, absorbed in her own thoughts and allowing her feelings to be shown like the cider in her hand.

sea of bees julie
Julie Ann Bee.

She must do this because Sea of Bees lyrics are so full of raw emotion, it’s like listening to someone’s heart beating, particularly, It Won’t be Long and Skinnybone. She is wistful, glorious and powerful. Just crack on Marmalade right now, I implore you, (available as a free download right here) and embrace the birth of something marvellous.

The new album Songs for the Ravens is out now on Crossbill Records in the USA and Heavenly Recordings in Europe. Sea of Bees is currently touring in the USA. You can check out her myspace here.

Categories ,album review, ,california, ,Crossbill Records, ,Decoder Ring, ,Ethereal Folk, ,folk, ,Heavenly Recordings, ,joanna newsom, ,Julie Ann Bee, ,Laura Marling, ,Sea of Bees, ,Songs for the Ravens

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Amelia’s Magazine | Eleven Glorious Albums of 2010


Eugene Lin, medical illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again when we all set about making resolutions and miraculously changing our lives for the better. So far, case for 2011, viagra dosage I’ve set myself the insurmountable tasks of quitting smoking (again), getting fit (again) and saving money (AGAIN), as well as to make more of an effort to contact friends who I don’t see regularly, get through that list of books I buy on recommendation that is quickly becoming a floor-to-celing pile, learn to cook more than just beans on toast. Oh, sure!

Here at Amelia’s Magazine, we thought it might be interesting to find out what some of our favourite fashion designers plan to do in 2011. I spoke to a few of them, who we interviewed in 2010, about their plans, hopes, ambitions, dreams and everything in between. I posed the question suggesting the response could be hopes for their labels, their personal lives or something more philosophical. I’m so glad one of our designer friends, amidst economic recession and doom and gloom, prioritises ‘more sex’ on their agenda for this coming year…

Here’s a little round-up, with as always, fabulous illustrations… and I’ve linked each designer’s name to our original interview so you can read more about them if you wish!

Ada Zanditon

Illustration by Caroline Coates

‘My main resolution for 2010 is to keep growing and evolving as a brand, creatively and as a business with the vision to bring awareness to conservation and also increase the percentage of my profit margin that can go towards conservation charities, completing the circle between what inspires me as a designer and helping to sustain it in a creative, innovative way that results in sculptural, desirable, uniquely embellished fashion.

‘I would also like to find some time between all of that to spend more time gardening…’

Read a full interview with Ada with even more amazing illustrations in Amelia’s new book!

Eugene Lin

Eugene Lin, illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

1. Keep perfecting the cut of my clothes
2. Remember to ‘TAKE A BREAK’ at least once a month
3. Eat healthy. Run more.

Imogen Belfield

Illustration by Caroline Coates

‘My New Year resolutions are… well, quite honestly, I have to stop injuring myself in the workshop. I had two rather nasty accidents within the last 2 months. And secondly, it would be to have more Skype dates with my overseas friends and family. 2010 has been beyond incredible, and to wish for the same again would be enough in itself, I cannot wait for 2011 to begin, bring it on!’

Makepiece

Illustration by Genie Espinosa

Whilst we’ve developed new cute tags to help our garments last longer (it’s a nice little wooden tag holding yarn so you can fix your garments), launched knitwear shrugs for winter brides and taken on a small concession in Harveys, (the Halifax department store) I’ve also been struggling to feed the poor snowbound sheep.

I’ve been using sledges, mountain bikes and my own two feet to defeat the snow. I’ve never felt so popular as when I’m spotted from afar by my sheep so that they’re already forming a welcoming committee by the gate. It’s difficult, but exhilarating when, once the sheep are cheerfully surrounding their bale of haylage, I can look out over the snowbound valley. It’s beautiful!

Looking forward to the new year though, we’re hoping for a sunny spring. Lots of lambs, picnics in the hay meadow and summer balls. The new collection is coloured like the sun on a misty spring morning and is frilled and ruched and rippled into delicate dresses, tops, cardis and scarves.

Olivia Rubin

Illustration by Lisa Stannard

‘2011 already holds some exciting opportunities for the label including a lot more hard work! I’m looking forward to my collaborations with very.co.uk and my new accessory line for Dune at the start of the year. I’m hoping to broaden my collections and expand the brand by introducing printed knitwear as well as building on the success of the jersey line Oli Rubi… I have a very determined attitude for 2011!

On a personal level one of my New Year’s resolutions is to continue with my running and possibly attempt a half marathon – eeek!’

(Stefan) Orschel-Read

Illustration by Rachel Clare Price

’2011 will be a busy year for me. I will be producing three collections for Orschel-Read. A small A/W 2011/12, the summer 2012 collection for London Fashion Week in September, and also a couture collection for the end of May. A New Year’s resolution for me is to stop working Sundays! And to enjoy the wonderful city we live in a little more. I also hope to spend more time with friends and family, and finally learn something totally new.’

New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday” (Charles Lamb)

Ziad Ghanem

Illustration by Rukmunal Hakim

‘Professionally: In January 2011 I am launching the wedding collection during Couture Fashion Week. So from now on its “strictly sex after marriage…” In February 2011 I am producing an amazing show during London Fashion Week, inspired by Islamic Art, and Maiden Britain tees and sweats will be launched to buy online soon. I am also hoping to do a lot of new collaborations with artists from all over the world this year.

Personally: I hope and wish for peace of mind, good health and more sex. This year I am open for love! I hope everybody’s New Year wishes will come true.’

Do let us know if you’ve made any interesting resolutions for 2011, I’d love to hear them!


Eugene Lin, health illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again when we all set about making resolutions and miraculously changing our lives for the better. So far, cost for 2011, I’ve set myself the insurmountable tasks of quitting smoking (again), getting fit (again) and saving money (AGAIN), as well as to make more of an effort to contact friends who I don’t see regularly, get through that list of books I buy on recommendation that is quickly becoming a floor-to-celing pile, learn to cook more than just beans on toast. Oh, sure!

Here at Amelia’s Magazine, we thought it might be interesting to find out what some of our favourite fashion designers plan to do in 2011. I spoke to a few of them, who we interviewed in 2010, about their plans, hopes, ambitions, dreams and everything in between. I posed the question suggesting the response could be hopes for their labels, their personal lives or something more philosophical. I’m so glad one of our designer friends, amidst economic recession and doom and gloom, prioritises ‘more sex’ on their agenda for this coming year…

Here’s a little round-up, with as always, fabulous illustrations… and I’ve linked each designer’s name to our original interview so you can read more about them if you wish!

Ada Zanditon

Illustration by Caroline Coates

‘My main resolution for 2010 is to keep growing and evolving as a brand, creatively and as a business with the vision to bring awareness to conservation and also increase the percentage of my profit margin that can go towards conservation charities, completing the circle between what inspires me as a designer and helping to sustain it in a creative, innovative way that results in sculptural, desirable, uniquely embellished fashion.

‘I would also like to find some time between all of that to spend more time gardening…’

Read a full interview with Ada with even more amazing illustrations in Amelia’s new book!

Eugene Lin

Eugene Lin, illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

1. Keep perfecting the cut of my clothes
2. Remember to ‘TAKE A BREAK’ at least once a month
3. Eat healthy. Run more.

Imogen Belfield

Illustration by Caroline Coates

‘My New Year resolutions are… well, quite honestly, I have to stop injuring myself in the workshop. I had two rather nasty accidents within the last 2 months. And secondly, it would be to have more Skype dates with my overseas friends and family. 2010 has been beyond incredible, and to wish for the same again would be enough in itself, I cannot wait for 2011 to begin, bring it on!’

Makepiece

Illustration by Genie Espinosa

Whilst we’ve developed new cute tags to help our garments last longer (it’s a nice little wooden tag holding yarn so you can fix your garments), launched knitwear shrugs for winter brides and taken on a small concession in Harveys, (the Halifax department store) I’ve also been struggling to feed the poor snowbound sheep.

I’ve been using sledges, mountain bikes and my own two feet to defeat the snow. I’ve never felt so popular as when I’m spotted from afar by my sheep so that they’re already forming a welcoming committee by the gate. It’s difficult, but exhilarating when, once the sheep are cheerfully surrounding their bale of haylage, I can look out over the snowbound valley. It’s beautiful!

Looking forward to the new year though, we’re hoping for a sunny spring. Lots of lambs, picnics in the hay meadow and summer balls. The new collection is coloured like the sun on a misty spring morning and is frilled and ruched and rippled into delicate dresses, tops, cardis and scarves.

Olivia Rubin

Illustration by Lisa Stannard

‘2011 already holds some exciting opportunities for the label including a lot more hard work! I’m looking forward to my collaborations with very.co.uk and my new accessory line for Dune at the start of the year. I’m hoping to broaden my collections and expand the brand by introducing printed knitwear as well as building on the success of the jersey line Oli Rubi… I have a very determined attitude for 2011!

On a personal level one of my New Year’s resolutions is to continue with my running and possibly attempt a half marathon – eeek!’

(Stefan) Orschel-Read

Illustration by Rachel Clare Price

’2011 will be a busy year for me. I will be producing three collections for Orschel-Read. A small A/W 2011/12, the summer 2012 collection for London Fashion Week in September, and also a couture collection for the end of May. A New Year’s resolution for me is to stop working Sundays! And to enjoy the wonderful city we live in a little more. I also hope to spend more time with friends and family, and finally learn something totally new.’

New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday” (Charles Lamb)

Ziad Ghanem

Illustration by Rukmunal Hakim

‘Professionally: In January 2011 I am launching the wedding collection during Couture Fashion Week. So from now on its “strictly sex after marriage…” In February 2011 I am producing an amazing show during London Fashion Week, inspired by Islamic Art, and Maiden Britain tees and sweats will be launched to buy online soon. I am also hoping to do a lot of new collaborations with artists from all over the world this year.

Personally: I hope and wish for peace of mind, good health and more sex. This year I am open for love! I hope everybody’s New Year wishes will come true.’

Do let us know if you’ve made any interesting resolutions for 2011, I’d love to hear them!

Beach House by Karolina Burdon

Beach House by Karolina Burdon

Being the new year and all, medical perhaps it might be nice to take an appreciative glance at the wonderful music that touched our ears and hearts in 2010, mind and indeed continues to do so as we begin the thrilling joy that is January 2011. Now, remain/become positive chaps and chappettes, a new dawn, means a shiny new chapter. You can file 2010 away under ‘misc’ and make all sorts of resolutions on new notepaper. As arty people and appreciators of creativity, this MUST appeal to you. I personally believe that creativity can be kickstarted with music. So, if you are feeling sluggish and are already considering a nap, perhaps first quickly read my list of music that has the potential to kick the ass of thou. If you are already napping, and can not bring yourself to open your eyes, please use a person to click on an immersed youtube video and feel a small whack from one of these beauties. Then you can wallow as much as you want.

Beach House: Teen Dream, Bella Union
French born, Victoria Legrand produces the sounds of vocals and organ. A striding, confident femme fatale. With her long, dark curly hair she is all about the swipes, swooshes, ducks and flicks. Alex Scally in contrast plays his guitar delicately and beautifully. Interestingly, he was not a guitarist before Beach House and taught himself, which is why he says, he can play exactly how he wants with no preconceived notions about the role of guitar. Together they work as a flamboyant, thinking, sultry and exciting creation. Listening to them is like being stuck in the bubble of a dream pop flash lens… and loving it.

Angus and Julia Stone by Karolina Burdon

Angus and Julia Stone by Karolina Burdon

Angus and Julia Stone: Down The Way, Flock Music
So sweet and delicate. But with some serious edge. Definitely not wishy washy ‘blah’ folk. This Australian brother and sister duo are strong and create catchy songs with a distinct sound from the heart. They used to be solo artists, but decided to collaborate in 2006. One can imagine them sitting somewhere on one of Australia’s ridiculously massive and unfeasibly gold beaches, upright on a beige throw, writing their emotions out. Or on the road… with straw hats on. They tend to write separately apparently, then get together to create a structure and the harmonies. This sounds right, I personally can’t imagine writing about boys with my brother eating marmite (urgh) on toast next to me to be fair. Down The Way is glorious album and a whimsical mixture. Pay particular attention to; ‘I’m Not Yours’, ‘For You’ and ‘And The Boys’.

JoannaNewsom by Avril Kelly

Joanna Newsom by Avril Kelly

Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me, Drag City
Joanna Newsom; harpist, pianist, singer and model from Nevada City, USA. One of those girls at school that is both extremely talented and manages to sustain excellently long hair. Her voice is incredible, and watching her recently, she sounds softer than earlier in her career. ‘Peach, Plum, Pear, live – wow. She released a new album in 2010, ‘Have One On Me’. The gentler sound of her voice and the precise, stunning notes of her instruments leave you in awe with this album. ’81 is just fabulous. Graceful and composed, it’s like listening to a soundtrack from a party taking place in another world, where everything is unashamedly and naturally, magical.

The Acorn: No Ghost, Bella Union
A bit like Bon Iver and Elbow. More like the former, in that The Acorn are from Canada and write their music in Canadian cottages. They went to one in Northern Quebec for No Ghost.This is a highly romantic vision for me and works on many levels, not least because the music seems to reflect the surroundings they were born in. Spindly melodies and haunting humming, these songs are the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. ‘Almanac’ and ‘Misplaced’ are perfect.

Au Revoir Simone by Avril kelly

Au Revoir Simone by Avril Kelly

Au Revoir Simone: Night Light, Moshi Moshi
All remixes of Au Revoir Simone’s songs- by the likes of Jens Lenkman and Neon Indian. The Brooklyn indie pop gals, Heather D’Angelo, Erika Forster and Annie Hart took their name from a minor character in the Tim Burton comedy; Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. This remix album is a like finding a hidden Snickers on a 20 mile walk, or the ice-cream at the end of the tunnel. I challenge you to feel grumpy when listening to the electro, pure girly voices running up and down in pitch. Come on, stand up and make a cup of tea. To use the title of their song; ‘Only You Can Make You Happy’. Drink some tea.

this is the Kit2 by Avril kelly

This Is The Kit by Avril Kelly

This Is The Kit: Wriggle Out The Restless, Dreamboat Records
I put this album on when we visited my boyfriend’s Dad’s new house in Jersey. It’s a big, 60s, art-deco style, Gatsby type house, right on the seafront (I know, it’s idyllic). Previously I had only ever listened to This Is The Kit on my Mac, and once, seen her live. Both intimate venues, I liked to keep Kate locked in my collection as ‘mine’. However, when she was played loud with no distortion, in an acoustically happy room, it’s truly something else (as they say). Her voice resonates and echoes, as if you are actually within an enchanted forest with the most ethereal story teller you can possibly imagine. Or perhaps inside a whale traveling in the ocean. Captivating and vulnerable, she will envelop you. Whenever I play Wriggle Out The Restless, people are immediately in love. I can not recommend this album enough. See my previous review here and listen to my favourite; Moon, below.

Hidden Orchestra: Night Walks, Tru Thoughts
These guys just sound very cool. Wholesomely cool. Listening to this album is being in the countryside and looking at everything in a totally refreshing light. I think they are best listened to in such settings, but this could be my romantic side playing up again (boyfriend away on business…) – I can imagine listening to them waiting for a bus in a city, or with a glass of whisky and someone good to chat to… in a city. I am sure they are really urban actually (being Tru Thoughts and all) but amazing instruments equate to nature for me. I’m rambling. I apologize. ‘Strange’ is angelic.

johnny_flynn-been_listening

Johnny Flynn: Been Listening, Transgressive
We all know how Amelia’s Magazine loves old Johnny. He is multi-talented and makes you want to stare at his face for days. Flynn’s latest album; Been Listening is a culmination of his musings, travels, thoughts and feelings as he grows, figures life out a little more, and becomes more distinctive and beautiful. It’s got a bit more bite than A Larum, but continues with the theatrical edge. Occasionally it sounds like he is swaying about with a tankard singing in your local (endearing). Sometimes it’s like he’s sitting by a river, or in the city’s compact and grimy depths. It is less haystack joviality and more gutsy than younger Flynn. ‘Barnacled Warship’ is a stomper, whilst, ‘The Water’ with Laura Marling is a duet formed in heaven. See live review by Rob Harris here.

Sea Of Bees: Songs for The Ravens, Heavenly Recordings
Lovely voice with a dark undercurrent fluttering through her lyrics. Julie Ann Baenziger is a 25 year old from Sacramento California. Unable to embrace her clear talent, she spent years secretly teaching herself how to sing, until she moved out of home at 23. She plays marimba, glockenspiel and slide guitar. This is her debut album and it is full of raw emotion, wistfulness and beauty. See my full review here.

Best-Coast-Crazy-For-You

Best Coast: Crazy for you, Mexican Summer
Singing about the ocean, sun and fun with a wholly American rocky sound, this band are surf pop at its best. The band consists of Bethany Cosentino, Bobb Bruno and Ali Koehler. Crazy for you is about Bethany’s longing for Los Angeles while spending her days in NY attending Eugene Lang College. Best Coast formed during her first days back in California. Bethany has a ginger cat called Snacks who you can find on twitter and often tweets her whilst she is on tour. Almost too cute.

Mountain Man: Made The Harbor, Bella Union
Molly Erin Sarie, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath produce sounds as sweet as honey pie. The trio use minimal instruments, and instead rely on the power of their voices in unison to produce their earthy, ethereal atmosphere. The three met in Vermont and are from West, Middle West and Eastern United States, they share a love of nature, femininity and the moon. Together their harmonies are utterly all encompassing. So calm, very real and shiver inducing in their intimacy. Made The Harbor was recorded in an old ice cream parlor from the turn of the 20th century. The sounds of the building and the artist’s breathing, welcomed.

Categories ,Amelia’s Magazine, ,Angus and Julia Stone, ,Avril Kelly, ,Beach House, ,Bella Union, ,Best Coast, ,Bon Iver, ,Drag City Records, ,Dreamboat Records, ,Elbow, ,Flock Music, ,Helen Martin, ,Hidden Orchestra, ,Jens Lenkman, ,joanna newsom, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Mexican Summer, ,Moshi Moshi, ,Mountain Man, ,neon indian, ,Rob Harris, ,The Acorn, ,This Is The Kit, ,Transgressive Records, ,tru thoughts

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Amelia’s Magazine | Alela Diane: An Interview

London has had many guises over the millennia, cheapest website like this and what we Londoners (born and bred in my case) consider essential and iconic about it varies wildly from what foreigners do, buy information pills whether they be from the Welsh borders or much further afield. Some outsiders hate London and all it stands for – everyone knows someone from outside who refuses to ever come to the Big Town because it is so “noisy and dirty, and everyone is so rude”.

Of course it is! It’s a big, bad mess of a place. It’s also much more than the sum of Oxford Street and Madame Tussauds, where lots of visitors start their London experience, missing out on the more personal, human aspect of the city because it’s all just too overwhelming. Admittedly, sometimes London feels like an overpriced dump, but it’s our dump. So how to make outsiders see what we see?

Mayor Boris has issued a competition to ad agencies to give London a new identity, presumably with an eye on the Olympics, and branding agency Moving Brands has decided to take its bid public. It’s inviting submissions from all of us to suggest ideas and images in the hope of coming up with something that’s quintessentially Londonic, something Londoners might actually like and want to look at, as well as luring more tourists to the banks of the Thames. There’s a lot of logos already defining some of London’s attributes, some more popular than others:

identity_crisis.jpg

London needs its brand identity to unite all the different facets of city life in the capital. The new face of London can’t be all shiny and perky because we aren’t in America; it shouldn’t be too “yoof” or urban because huge swathes of London is preppy and upper-crust. But we also don’t want to see any references to Shakespeare or any mythical past golden age. London has street markets, opera houses, a Queen, gay clubs, curry houses, Fashion Week, Soho and more scenes than you could count. Why not have a go at designing something that does justice to the London you know and love?

The project is also an interesting peek into the journey a brand goes through during development. Moving Brand’s blog is essentially the brainstorm phase played out in public, where everyone can see the false starts and evolving ideas. There’s quite a few interesting submissions up on their blog already, which could form the basis of the agency’s tender, and they’re getting feedback on everything via Twitter and Facebook. One of these images might become very familiar some time soon.

london-sw.jpg

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Jeans for Genes day was once the highlight of the primary school calendar: one of only a few days when our joyous little selves can don our own clothes and ditch our school uniforms (of course inspiring the mini divas in each of us to spend hours deciding what combo to go with to best impress our school-kid counterparts, order or was that just me?!) Synonymous with freedom, this site equality and embracing the American way of the Western frontier, denim has always held associations with youthful hope. Becoming popular in the James Dean era with 1950s teenagers everywhere, jeans have become symbolic of casual dress, ‘devil-may-care’ attitudes and rebellion. Perhaps that’s why they make an excellent choice for supporting this charity for Genetic Disorders; giving kids a chance to make a difference through self-expression. Whilst providing adults a chance to embrace their inner child, wear their jeans with pride and be optimistic about making a change for a day in our doom-and-gloom world.

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volunteers.jpg

At the same time as raising money for children and families affected by genetic disorders, the charity donates funds to groundbreaking research into cures for the disorders it supports such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Frequently funding research into many unknown disorders enables small projects to receive help they would scarcely be able to generate on their own. By simply donating a bit of dosh each year to help change a life on Jeans for Genes day millions of people are ‘allowed’ to wear jeans to work and school. And this year is no different, with the event taking place on Friday 2nd October across the country.

jody.jpg

With supporters such as Project Catwalk‘s Nick Ede and Donna Ida, of Dona Ida’s denim boutique, Jeans for Genes is well-known in the fashion world. Frequently running other initiatives to unite the fashion and charity spheres, including a t-shirt design competition at London College of Fashion. This year the competition was won by Asha Joneja, a London College of Fashion student for her gold foil double helix design.

Donna Ida summarises the case for Jeans for Genes rather fittingly: “Fashion speaks to such a wide audience that I thought it important to use that platform to gain awareness for a great charity, and Jeans for Genes was the perfect fit,” using the mass-appeal of the fashion industry to generate money for a good cause, rather than personal profit or greed.

Moreover Jeans for Genes are not the only ones with this attitude. It seems this ethic is spreading at the moment; with other charitable organisations tied to fashion springing up and stomping their heels in the name of raising money. One such event, Fit for a Princess, will be held on 26th September 2009 at the Bentall shopping centre in Kingston. Endeavoring to fuse the worlds of fashion and charity, the shopping centre states that it champions the event because it is giving back to the local community with a kick-ass fashion punch.

Alberta_Ferretti_-_Helena_Bonham_Carter.jpg
Helena Bonham Carter

The event’s exhibition is run by the Princess Alice Hospice, a local charity with 25 years of experience caring for its patients, providing free, excellent quality support in a modern setting; it’s income is largely generated by charitable donations such as this event promises to secure.

Undeniably, the event has drawn much fashionista support in the form of Twiggy, Trinny Woodall and Fern Cotton. Each celebrity will showcase their personal party outfits in shop windows throughout the centre, promising to exhibit sassy personal styling as well as trend and designer knowledge. Giving a new meaning to the term ‘window shopping’, shoppers will be able to bid on their favourite celebrities’ stylings on eBay from the 19th October. To locate the clothes type ‘fit for a princess’ in to the site’s search engine.

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Fearne Cotton

Key pieces featuring in the exhibition include an Alberta Ferretti sequin skirt and top worn by Helena Bonham-Carter at the Planet of the Apes premier, and a body con dress by current fascination and legend of the eighties, Hervé Leger, donated by Beverly Knight. It seems that fashion, despite its bad rep as heartless and money-grabbing, can also use its power for good… watch this space for more events that Amelia’s Magazine thinks you should be involved with.

Herve_Leger_-_Beverley_Knight.jpg
Beverley Knight
Over the last few years, there the British summer has seen the festival crescendo. Featuring initially as a mere whisper in the background of our holiday activities to an overwhelming, generic near inaudible screech with festivals popping up bigger and louder than ever before. We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ‘STOP!’ Not everything needs to grow to epic, brand-lavished proportions, things can remain at a small, intimate size. In our economic c*****e (excuse the blasphemy), let’s take it DIY…

An antidote to all things grotesquely commercial, this weekend I ventured to Mellow Croft Farm in the idyllic hills of South Wales to check out the fifth annual CWM event, hosted by South London arts collective, Utrophia.

iron%20bath.jpg

In place of queue foreboding portaloos, were handmade huts where excrement was neatly disposed of with a layer of pine needles. To be ethically turned into manure by the landowner in two years time. There was no sign of any beer sponsored, overprized bars. Instead a table offering £2 pints of local ale and organic cider via, at times, an honesty box system. Not to mention the fire-heated open-air bath to wash off the festival fun. But best of all, the festival goers consisted of around 200 like-minded music lovers and the organisers intend to keep it that way.

mars%20bar.jpg

“Using the word ‘festival’ to describe these events is debatable, as we like to think they mimic the outdoor gatherings that had occurred pre-Woodstock. You know the ones you never heard of, where folk came from near and far to share their goods and entertain one another, ” says the collective.

Something charming about such an intimate event is that you don’t have that (self-coined) ‘Clashtonbury’ moment, where after desiring no bands all morning, you are forced to choose between seeing your two favourite acts, billed simultaneously. At Cwmback, the schedule was as organic as their cider, with announcements of acts made by a cowbell assisted role call from around the campsite. In between acts, was an obligatory regroup at the bar tent or campfire where gems of entertainment were born out of idle moments; the ‘communal hair washing’ incident and ‘crisp eating to music’ event to name just two.

Rather than a main stage live experience that is more like watching BBC iplayer for all you can see of the bands, Cwmback’s live music setting was built within a snug pine forest which handily provided shelter from the rain when those Welsh skies opened – which they love to do.

pine%20forest.jpg

So what of the music? A cast made up mostly of friends of friends, there was an eclectic mix of the obscure to the bizarre, but never a weak link. Jame Dudy Dench delighted on the opening night with a comical Hip-Hopera, more in a vein of a satirical Beastie Boy than R. Kelly. Staying on the ironic end of the spectrum, duo Ginger & Sorrel, opened Sunday night’s entertainment blending Fairground keyboard phrases with beer sipped in comedy timing and a rap about tarpaulin, which was also a component of their outfits.

gingerandsorrel2.jpg

Gentleman’s Relish brought an air of Sinatra, if he’d have gotten lost on the way to Vegas and found himself in a sweaty indie club. The lead singer croons over a mire of guitar riffs and in ‘Wolves and Monkeys’, chimpanzee noises.

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The Human Race managed to overcome technical obstacles in the form of a broken amp/guitar and eventual loss bass guitar string mid-performance to deliver a stomping set – nothing like staring into the face of adversity to up your musical prowess.

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The lo-fi element of the weekend came in the form of girl/boy folk duo, Mouth 4 Rusty who had the audience clicking and clapping along to stripped back simple songs of love forlorn.

A personal hightlight were Limn, an instrumental 4-piece who play in a revolving drum/guitar rectangle, communicating in call and response riffs that transport you to an old Batman cartoon series.

mon%20fio.jpg

Pop crooner, Mon Fio, was joined by a trombone player in an appropriately, Sunday afternoon, ad hoc fashion from the depths of the pine forest location. Such was the desire for an encore (and hangover), songwriter Jon, simply repeated the last song in the set to an audience who had broken out into a line dancing formation.

monfio.jpg

Please paid a fleeting visit to the farm to play a full throttle performance at dusk which had the most timid of music listeners moshing at the front. Festival closer, Pseudo Nippon donned African prints and tropical inspired outfits to screech over a Gameboy backing track, in a Japanese accent and individually hug every member of the audience several times throughout their set. We were charmed.

If you like to enjoy your festival from the confines of your bourgeois motorhome, then this may not be the one for you. If, however, you’ve given up on the scene, loathing everything about Reading Festival and its conglomerate cousins, then Cwmback, because you may well have met your match. Maybe next year avoid the big punchers of the festival circuit, take a leaf out of the Utrophia book and Do It Yourselves.

As previously mentioned in this week’s music listings, you can conveniently find the crop of these bands at Shunt in London Bridge this Friday.

Alela%20Diane_Hair.jpg

Raised on a diet of sun-drenched, price rural, buy more about Californian folk, about it Alela Diane came from relative obscurity, initially self-releasing her albums in paper and lace sleeves with hand lettering, before finally getting noticed by the world’s music press. Only to have one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2007 with her debut, ‘Pirate’s Gospel’. Amelia’s Magazine finds out that she’s still keeping it all in her stride, as we chat on the phone with the down to earth lady, from her house in Portland, Oregon, before she crosses the Atlantic to tour her latest release, ‘To Be Still.’ Here’s how it went…

Amelia’s Magazine: After such a successful debut, how does it feel to release an album with all eyes on you?

Alela Diane: Well I guess I don’t always really realise that all eyes are on me if they are. I try to maintain a low profile. But it is nice to put out another record knowing that people are going to hear it.

AM: Are you excited to bring it to the UK?

AD: It will be nice to do a few more dates in the UK… We’ve been on tour so much this year and part of me is, ‘oh I haven’t been home at all’, but… we haven’t done a lot of touring this album in the UK so that’ll be nice. We’ve done lots of UK festivals with this album but not many smaller venues yet.

alela-diane.jpg

AM: Your music lends itself to an intimate setting, do you enjoy those smaller gigs more for that reason?

AD: It’s really difficult to compare the two. They both have a unique energy. At a festival people are out to have a great time. It’s just so different in a smaller venue. I enjoy both. But sometimes you can really get into the feeling of the music in a smaller setting.

AM: There is a fuller arrangement of the tracks on ‘To Be Still’ compared with your first album. Will you be joined by a full band on tour?

AD: I have a drummer and a bass player and back up singers. And my dad is touring with me also, playing electric guitar and mandolin. Yeah it is more full than I’m used to.

AM: Is that something that makes you feel proud to have your dad touring with you?

AD: My dad is an amazing musician and it really is great having him with me. It keeps me grounded. Makes away feel more homey.

AM: Is he responsible for getting you into music and writing it yourself?

AD: When I really started writing songs and began to perform… that was a thing I kind of did on my own. But my whole life growing up with my parents, my dad is a performer so it was a massive part of my upbringing.

alela4.jpg

AM: Michael Hurley‘s vocals in ‘Age Old Time’ off the new album really capture the raw, nostalgia present in a lot of your music. Was that a conscious decision?

AD: He was really fitting for that song because I wrote that song about my Grandma’s dad. He’d written all these songs for my grandma when she was little. So the song would resonate we really wanted a voice that sounded from another time. I’d met Michael living in Portland and gave him a record. His voice really captured what that song was about. It was one of those magical little moments of the record.

AM: Tell me about Headless Heroes, it was such a favourite album of mine… Is that ever to be repeated?

AD: I really don’t know. It was one of those somewhat random projects, which I was invited to be a part of and what I did on that project was really just sing. I didn’t have anything to do with picking the songs or really much else other than lending my voice. But it was kind of liberating and a lot of fun to just do it and not be responsible for every other detail of that recording. In some ways it allowed me to just really experiment with my voice and have a great experience. I think I learned a lot from doing it and perhaps in the future I will do more projects like that.

alela.jpg

AM: So back to your own music, do you write mainly at home in Portland, Oregon or on tour? Where is most condusive for you?

AD: For ‘To Be Still’ I wrote most of them when I was living in this little cabin in Nevada City and I wrote some of them up in Portland when I was living there. Lately because I have been on the road so much I have started to write a lot more lyrics without having the chance to develop the songs yet. But I have a bunch of words that are waiting to become songs. And I never did that before. I was writing at home where I could make it a song right away. But I don’t have the time and space to do that on tour because I’m around people all the time or in a van. But in a way it’s nice because it’s given me a chance to really develop the words before they become songs. I think once I’m home after this tour I’ll get chance to find the music and the melodies for them.

alela2.jpg

AM: So it sounds like there could be quick turnaround…

AD: Yeah I think so. I’m feeling like there is good stuff there and I can’t wait to develop it.

AM: What do you listen to yourself?

AD: Well… I listen to a lot of older stuff – I guess I’m sitting in front of my vinyl collection right now… the one on the top is a Johnny Cash record.

AM: Which one?

AD: He’s older on the front and it just says CASH… Unchained! Erm… I’ve been pretty into Fleetwood Mac lately and Fairport Convention. I think Sandy Denny has my actual favourite voice. She’s my favourite vocalist.

AM: Is there anything modern that ever catches your ear?

AD: It has been a while… I have friends who I definitely appreciate. My friend Mariee Sioux, I love her music. She does something very different and special. I heard the Fleet Foxes last summer and really, really liked that. For a while I was a bit sceptical because they had been so hyped up and I was like, ‘yeah, yeah.’ But then when I actually heard it, I realised they were very, very talented.

AM: There’s definitely a folk explosion apparent with bands like Fleet Foxes in the US and much in what is coming out of the UK at the moment. Are there any countries that have gripped onto your music that have surprised you?

AD: Yeah. I’ve been a France and lot. And something about my music seems to be really liked in France. I don’t necescarily understand it but I think in a way it is so foreign to them. It’s coming from a place that is so unlike France. The things I sing about…

alela3.jpg

AM: Will the next album see any new collaborations?

AD: I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Because I’ve been touring with the band so much… my dad, my good friend Lena sings the back up vocals. She’s been writing a lot of songs. My boyfriend is the bass player in the band and the four of us are starting to collaborate and working on the idea of what we can do writing together. So that is something that may end up happening.

AM: Is that a first for you then?

AD: Up to this point, all the songs have been written by me and then the studio arrangement… The songs come together from an idea from me or an idea from my dad. But the actual writing with a group like that, exploring ideas, I’ve never done that. And the little that we’ve done together is really inspiring and it feels really different and good. So we’ll see what happens. Everybody has a little different of thing to bring to the table and it’s working out to be pretty groovy.

You can catch Alela Diane with dad in tow on her UK tour this month in these places:

Cambridge (09/09),
Bristol (10/09),
Cardiff (11/09),
Exeter (13/09),
Birmingham (16/09),
London (Shepherd’s Bush Empire) (17/09)

Categories ,alela diane, ,california, ,fairport convention, ,fleet foxes, ,fleetwood mac, ,folk, ,joanna newsom, ,joni mitchell, ,pop

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Tiny: Swedish band interview at the Union Chapel, Islington

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview he was charming and lucid at 74 years of age when he gave his lecture for the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the Red Bull coat of arms, buy sales if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, visit what is ed who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions because over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and has found herself a “team member” of the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich’s musical career started when he took piano lessons and then started studying the drums at the age of 14. This interview began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In 1963 the Cuban missile crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square, preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he focused on the sound of letters without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there is tension and intensity precisely because there is no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon is an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then he has always toured with a close clique of musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out to performers and his musical style has become increasingly complex.

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system. That is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview he was charming and lucid at 74 years of age when he gave his lecture for the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, for sale if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions because over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and has found herself a “team member” of the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich’s musical career started when he took piano lessons and then started studying the drums at the age of 14. This interview began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In 1963 the Cuban missile crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square, preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he focused on the sound of letters without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there is tension and intensity precisely because there is no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon is an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then he has always toured with a close clique of musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out to performers and his musical style has become increasingly complex.

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system. That is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview he was charming and lucid at 74 years of age when he gave his lecture for the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, visit this site if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions because over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and has found herself a “team member” of the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich’s musical career started when he took piano lessons and then started studying the drums at the age of 14. This interview began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In 1963 the Cuban missile crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he used the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there is tension and intensity precisely because there is no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon is an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then he has always toured with a close clique of musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out to performers and his musical style has become increasingly complex.

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system. That is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview he was charming and lucid at 74 years of age when he gave his lecture for the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, sickness if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, online who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions because over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and has found herself a “team member” of the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich’s musical career started when he took piano lessons and then started studying the drums at the age of 14. This interview began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In the early 60s the Cuban Missile Crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he used the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there is tension and intensity precisely because there is no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon is an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then he has always toured with a close clique of musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out to performers and his musical style has become increasingly complex.

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system. That is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview at 74 years of age he was charming and lucid when he gave his lecture for the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, for sale if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions because over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and has found herself a “team member” of the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich’s musical career started when he took piano lessons and then started studying the drums at the age of 14. This interview began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In the early 60s the Cuban Missile Crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he used the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there is tension and intensity precisely because there is no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon is an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then he has always toured with a close clique of musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out to performers and his musical style has become increasingly complex.

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system. That is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview at 74 years of age he was charming and lucid when he gave his lecture for the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, page if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions because over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and has found herself a “team member” of the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich’s musical career started when he took piano lessons and then started studying the drums at the age of 14. This interview began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In the early 60s the Cuban Missile Crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he used the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there is tension and intensity precisely because there is no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon is an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then he has always toured with a close clique of musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out to performers and his musical style has become increasingly complex.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system. That is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview, cheap at 74 years of age he was charming and lucid when he gave his lecture to the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions – over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and acts as a “team member” for the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich‘s musical career started with piano lessons and then the study of drums at the age of 14. This conversation began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job,” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In the early 60s the Cuban Missile Crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he made use of the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there was tension and intensity precisely because there was no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon as an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then his music has got progressively more complex and he has always toured with a close clique of live musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out for performers to learn across the world.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system… that is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview, this site at 74 years of age he was charming and lucid when he gave his lecture to the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, stomach if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions – over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and acts as a “team member” for the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich‘s musical career started with piano lessons and then the study of drums at the age of 14. This conversation began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job,” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In the early 60s the Cuban Missile Crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he made use of the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there was tension and intensity precisely because there was no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon as an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then his music has got progressively more complex and he has always toured with a close clique of live musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out for performers to learn across the world.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system… that is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog…

Interior of Red Bull Music Academy by-gemma-milly
The designer interior of the Red Bull Music Academy by Gemma Milly.

Since the Red Bull Music Academy rolled into town just over a month ago I have been pursued by their PR to blog about the whole shebang. Unfortunately timings could not have been worse and whilst I have been concentrating on London Fashion Week the great and good of the electronic music world have been gathering in force to take part in this most singular of events. It therefore seems strangely fitting that I should finally publish my edit of the Steve Reich lecture that I attended on Tuesday 16th February on the very same day that it finally finishes.

If you live in London you cannot have escaped the presence of the Red Bull Music Academy, recipe mainly in the form of their lovingly produced daily newspaper, case the Daily Note, which has been handed out at tube and train stations across London with the same zeal as the Evening Standard every single day since it started. I absolutely cannot begin to imagine how much it must have cost to assemble the staff to put together such a fast turnaround daily paper, let alone pay the folk that stand around in the street to hand it out.

Red Bull Music Academy interior
Inside a recording studio in the Red Bull Music Academy. I’ve got that G-Plan coffee table in my living room. Cost a tenner at a car boot sale.
All interior photos courtesy of Red Bull.

The amount spent on producing the Daily Note must pale into insignificance when compared with how much money has been poured into the actual Red Bull Music Academy itself – which is a mammoth venture that rolls into a different country every year. This isn’t just a fancy name for a bunch of club nights that the general public can attend (though it is that too), but does exactly what it says on the tin and is an actual academy where actual students can learn from the maestros of electronic music. Sixty carefully selected students from across the world have been whisked into central London, where they’ve been given free accommodation and food for the duration of their stay. At the academy, which is located in the Red Bull headquarters a stone’s throw from the London Dungeon in Bermondsey, they are treated to an amazing roster of talks and tutorials laid on by eminent musicians, producers, DJs and composers, all apparently giving their time for free to further the education of this talented bunch. The emphasis is on electronic and urban music, and on genres which are not usually championed by the establishment, so most of the names featured in the bulging programme will not be familiar to anyone but the geekiest music bod within that particular musical subcategory.

Red Bull Music Academy interior
Red Bull Music Academy interior

The amount of effort, let alone the money, that has been put into this venture is literally staggering. In the designer-decorated headquarters the skeletal office staff have been shunted into the top floors and the bottom few have been converted into something that would not look out of place on a reality show – featuring trendy young things lounging on plush sofas next to speccy music impresarios, a sparkling free cafe, pristine recording suites and buzzing glass walled rooms full of earnest Red Bull Music Academy staff. It is hard to fathom why such a big brand would so entirely align themselves with such a niche sub genre of music, but then this has got to be the most epic “anti-marketing” campaign I’ve ever known. Because no matter how lovingly those Daily Notes are put together I can’t believe many are actually more than skim read by some knackered commuter, and the vast majority will no doubt have been tossed straight into the bin by the mass public who just doesn’t care about this event or the music it champions. Will the Red Bull Music Academy, the busy events schedule or the Daily Note increase sales of Red Bull? Who knows, but for those lucky enough to be taking part as academy students it is surely a life changing opportunity.

Bruna-Sonar-PT-1
bRUNA creating live music with a laptop.

It has to be said that the vast catalogue of acts involved aren’t really my cup of tea – I veer somewhat more on the indie side of life – but I decided to go along to the Sonar Pt 1 taster at the Roundhouse on Friday 5th March, where I then struggled to find something suited to my decidedly more indie/dance tastes. Upstairs what I heard as boos for the headline act were actually calls for hip hop legend Doom. DOOM! Downstairs I discovered something much more to my liking in the form of Red Bull Academy graduate bRUNA, a former lawyer from Spain. Unfortunately he wasn’t exactly what the earnest hip-hop heads had came for and the small room soon emptied. When I stayed on with my male partner bRUNA’s concerned girlfriend came over to check whether we really were there because we liked bRUNA’s cute Euro electro (we did). Or I should say: she came over and checked in with Tim. How funny that sexism should rear it’s ugly head in such a setting. Such was my ire that I did say to her pointedly – actually it’s me you want to be talking to.

I have only recently been inducted into the wonders of Steve Reich, but the event that looked most up my street was a lecture by this influential composer. And so it was that I found myself in the lecture theatre of the Red Bull Music Academy on a very rainy Tuesday afternoon. Read on to find out what Steve Reich revealed to his students…
After Steve Reich had completed his conversation with Emma Warren there were a series of thought provoking questions from the Red Bull Music Academy students:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And with that there is a standing ovation for this most revered of modern composers. I think there’s a room full of people here who will go away and reappraise the ouvre of Steve Reich if they haven’t already done so.
After Steve Reich had completed his conversation with Emma Warren there were a series of thought provoking questions from the Red Bull Music Academy students:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I slipped the new album Gravity & Grace by The Tiny into my desktop, look I had no expectations. I’d never heard of this self-released Swedish phenomenon, cialis 40mg and I doubt that many of my British readers will have either. But I hope all that is set to change, because their third album is a stunning collection of songs from a couple who wear their hearts in their voices and melodies. When I heard that Leo and Ellekari would be playing in London I made it my business to get along and have a short chat with them.

Leo and Ellekari met in 2002, fell in love, moved into a house together and six months later started a band. It doesn’t get more idyllic than this surely? Well yes it does, despite setbacks and the temporary dissolution of the band a few years ago (it was relationship/band make or break time) the pair recently got married, reformed the band with renewed vigour, and are expecting their first child this summer. Why takes things by halves eh?

Both of them come from long musical backgrounds. Leo went to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen for a year before realising that he wasn’t quite cut out to play in a symphony orchestra and transferring to the Academy of Music in Gothenburg, where he could “make up my own education.” He may wield his cello with all the finesse of a classically trained musician but he insists that “it’s all bluffing really.” Ellekari (which is a Sammi name) learnt all sorts of brass instruments when she was younger and did stints as a jazz singer during her teens in her father’s big band before moving on to a series of punk and ska outfits. They both play bits of glockenspiel, synth, organ and piano as well. Between them they’ve worked extensively with some of the best contemporary Scandinavian musicians, including The Concretes, Peter Bjorn & John, Jenny Wilson, and Ane Brun. In the UK they’ve toured with the likes of Camera Obscura and Ed Harcourt.

The Tiny at the Union Chapel
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wanted to know what inspired their name and Ellekari tells me that she wanted it to sound the opposite of all those bands that say “we’re the greatest, the best… and it might fool people into thinking we’re pop.” Their first album, Close Enough “which doesn’t refer to our relationship but rather the fact that it took only two days to record” was released in 2004, followed by Starring Someone Like You in 2006 – both far sparser and less lush that their latest offering, all pared down cello and bare vocals. I don’t think anyone could mistake them for a pop band, although the jazz influence is clear. Leo confirms that this stripped down aesthetic affected their choice of name. “When we first started our music was very deconstructed and there was a lot of silence.” Ellekari has a distinctive quavering voice which at times sounds a bit like that other great warbling songstress, Joanna Newsom – whose vocals I happen to find highly grating. Not so with Ellekari’s offering, who has a far wider range and is capable of much stronger emotion and reach.

Much mileage is made out of The Tiny‘s relationship in their songwriting and in latest single Last Weekend Ellekari clambers on top of a grand piano in a forest to bemoan the lack of commitment in their life. She wears an over the top wedding dress with huge feathered eyelashes whilst Leo saws at his cello in a tail coat and white boxer shorts, eyes blackened. “I could not stand to looooooose you” she opines. Soon they are both hacking the wedding banquet and piano to pieces and one can only imagine the conversations that happened behind the scenes before, during and after this song was made. For this couple at least it seems as though working out their relationship dilemmas through music has resulted in a happy ending, for they got married just as this video was released.

Since the beginning The Tiny have released all their own records with very little money behind them. “it’s always been very hard and lots of work, but no one else wants to do it!” says Leo, “but it has given us the freedom to do whatever we want to do whenever we like.” Most of their friends on major labels complain just as much “so I suppose there are always problems whichever side you are on,” says Ellekari. “It’s a nice way of life but of course we can’t do everything on our own, for instance we have no idea where to start in England!” They didn’t really have a plan to release Gravity & Grace in the UK but when they started to get booking agency requests they decided to go with the “tailwind”. They’re already popular in France so decided to release the album in conjunction with their French collaborator Almost Musique and UK mega distributor Cargo.

The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

Do they think that the sudden rise in their popularity can be ascribed to the reach of the internet? “Definitely!” says Leo, who thinks that sites like Spotify and Myspace have been integral in spreading music, although he doesn’t really see the point of twitter. “We don’t twitter about what we eat. I don’t really know how to use it, I’m too old.” Rubbish! You can follow and encourage them here. I should have told him that the main demographic on twitter is 30-50 year olds. Because their other albums have gradually trickled out over the years their online presence has grown organically. “It feels as if we have grown into a new position with this album – and it definitely feels easier this time around.”

I wonder if having a baby has slightly thrown their plans to promote the new record (this is the first time their UK PR has heard the news). “Not really because we never plan too far ahead anyway. Music is spreading in a different way and in different time stretches,” says Ellekari. “We don’t feel we have to follow a set plan because we want to make music for the rest of our lives.” She does joke that her mum is already booked in to look after the baby, though it might be a push to make any of the festivals this year. “We have no idea how it will work,” concedes Leo.

At the Union Chapel in Islington on March 4th 2010 they play with fellow Swedes First Aid Kit for the first time, although they sang together collaboratively with Anne Ternheim on Summer Rain last year and have nothing but the highest praise for these talented sisters many years younger than themselves. Is the Stockholm scene comforting or claustrophobic? “Well, most Swedes tour a lot outside Sweden because there is such a limited audience there.” They enjoy touring in France because it’s pleasurable to play in nice venues where people are really into their music. What about the food I say, always thinking of my stomach. “Yes, good food helps!”

With that we finish on the very important subject of what Ellekari will be wearing for the concert tonight. She’ll be leaving her fabulous zebra print t-shirt in the dressing room and instead donning a long glittery vintage dress from the 70s that she found in Hungary for “next to nothing.” There must be something in the air, for both First Aid Kit girls are wearing vintage maxi dresses too.

The Tiny Gravity & Grace
The Tiny: Gravity & Grace.

It is with sadness that I will now admit that I missed The Tiny’s Union Chapel concert, but I did make it back in time to see headliners First Aid Kit, which you can also read about here. I really do hope that The Tiny decide the UK is as much fun to tour as France, even with a small baby in tow.

Categories ,Almost Musique, ,Ane Brun, ,Anne Ternheim, ,Camera Obscura, ,cargo, ,copenhagen, ,Ed Harcourt, ,festivals, ,First Aid Kit, ,france, ,Gothenburg, ,Gravity & Grace, ,jazz, ,Jenny Wilson, ,joanna newsom, ,myspace, ,Peter Bjorn & John, ,Spotify, ,sweden, ,The Concretes, ,The Tiny, ,twitter, ,union chapel

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Amelia’s Magazine | Laura Gibson – Live Review

999 it’s time, sildenafil erectile is another green focused campaign. As the website notes “We are in a state of emergency – socially, store economically and ecologically. What do we do in an emergency? In the UK, viagra 100mg we dial 999…” Well that all sounds pretty heartening until you realise that the 999 campaigns reaction to this emergency hasn’t exactly been particularly speedy so far. I can’t help feeling that the climate emergency we are facing means groups should be advocating some real direct action rather than just planting a tree or joining the 10:10 movement. However the campaign has some great initiatives to get the ball rolling and hopefully get more people thinking about the global crisis.

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All illustrations by Suzy Phillips

Of course the campaign does have some credibility, it encourages people to get more environmentally friendly, and behind the celebrity endorsements 999 has some forward thinking ideas about how communities in particular can work together to create a more sustainable world. Transforming rural and urban spaces into shared land to grow food has been one of the most successful elements. Capital Growth is the place to start with a great run through of the process and steps and how to get involved. Land sharing empowers people by growing their own food and creating stronger links in communities as well as reducing the reliance on supermarkets. A definite step in the right direction.

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I caught up with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the rural country celebrity chef, to talk about his part in the 999 campaign.

Can you outline what 999′s main priority is about and why you’re here today?

999 is about driving home the issue of climate change and what we ourselves can do to combat the emergency situation we have found ourselves in. I’ve come today because our aim ties in with the Climate Rush campaign, and its a great way to get talking with the local community, and of course it’s the 9th of the 9th 09.

How is the 999 campaign coming along? It doesn’t seemed to have gained as much prominence in the press such as campaigns like the recent 10:10?

It’s an on-going process, im specifically been looking at the food aspect, and as the ambassador I’m really interested in what small scale communities can do to combat the threat of climate change.

Can you please give some examples of the message your trying to get across in relation to the food aspect of the campaign?

With my books and TV series I’ve been highlighting the importance of locally grown produce and recently I’ve been pushing the idea of land sharing. The idea is to find land, whether in urban or rural spaces where people can grow their own food, there is so much land wasted around the UK that can be used. With over a thousand people on waiting lists for allotments especially in the south, it is vital we utilize all the land we can instead of relying on foreign markets for our vegetables. Food is a great way to create a cohesive community and bring people together.

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How is the land sharing campaign going, have you had much success?

We’ve had over a thousand land plots given to us and up to 30,000 people signing up to the website, so it’s defiantly getting people interested. The campaign is also working with groups like the Church of England and a range of British NGOs. The National Trust for example has just given us 1000 plots of land, so although it’s quite a slow process, there’s been a real positive reaction across the country.

With your interest in climate change, have the facts about the meat industry’s huge carbon footprint persuaded you to become vegetarian yet?

No, not yet, I’m aware of the issues, and I keep by own pigs and livestock, and always advocate buying locally soured meat to keep the carbon footprint low.

So let’s hope this campaign can help to stop this emergency from escalating, with 1 day, 11 hours, 9 minutes since 999 Day, the pressure is on.
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Designers in Residence @ the Design Museum
September 18 – October 31

The Design Museum’s annual exhibition of young designers begins on September 18 with site-specific works from Marc Owens and Dave Bowker. Owens is inspired by virtual realities – his work Avatar Machine replicates video gaming via a headset (above), order designed to make the wearer see themselves as a virtual character in the real world. Bowker works in data visualisation and will be re-examining the way visitors move about the Museum.

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Open House weekend

Once a year thousands of London’s most interesting and historic buildings are opened to the public, sale some of which are locked up tight for the rest of the year. Although some of the most popular buildings in the centre of London have already been completely booked, drugs there are still plenty of places worth visiting.

If you haven’t got your eye on anything in your local area, consider visiting the house of Dr Samuel Johnson, of “the dictionary” fame. It’s free to visit on Friday (there will be free cake on this day) and Saturday, in honour of the great man’s birthday.

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Radical Nature

This exhibition of works revolving around nature and inspired by environmentalism features pieces from architect Richard Buckminster Fuller and artists such as Joseph Beuys and Hans Haacke, as well as newer names such as Heath and Ivan Morrison and Simon Starling. Impactful and timely, there are lots of strong visual statements such as the Fallen Forest by Henrik Håkansson (above) and a visual record of the fields of wheat planted as an act of protest on a landfill site in Manhattan.

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Thames Festival

Sunday

One of the few fireworks displays allowed along the Thames will occur on Sunday when the Thames Festival fireworks are set off in all their glory, fired from barges between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridge so everyone can get a perfect view. There are also events all day, including fire-eaters, an outdoor ballroom (starting to become the South Bank’s speciality) and the annual Night Carnival, where 2,000 costumed revellers bearing lanterns and luminous costumes will welcome the pyrotechnics.
Another load of talks, healing workshops and activities to get stuck into, information pills don’t forget Co-Mutiny is still on all this week in Bristol, Climate Rush are still on tour, and also make sure you get down to protest against the closure of the Vestas Wind Turbine factory this Thursday. Good luck with fitting it all in, I’m certainly going to struggle!

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Illustrations by Emma Hanquist

Cambridge Climate Conference
Monday 14 Sep 2009 to Tuesday 15 Sep 2009 ?

An exciting event has been organised with international speakers and delegates involved in policy-making, business, and academia. Understanding the role of climate change policy is central to a business’s future success. Topics will include the political, economical, technological, and legal challenges and solutions for decarbonising electricity.
To register for a discounted ticket visit the website and enter ‘ge2009′ as the discount code.

Time: 9am-5pm
Venue: Churchill College, Cambridge, UK
Website: www.cambridgeclimate.com/

A Global New Deal needs a Green New Protectionism
Wednesday 16 Sep 2009 ?

An evening to learn and discuss the ‘triple crunch’ that we face: climate change, energy insecurity, and financial and economic meltdown. Colin Hines, Author and convener of the Green New Deal Group will be leading the talks. Colin has worked in the environmental movement for over 30 years including 10 years at Greenpeace. His recent work focuses on the adverse environmental and social effects of international trade and the need to solve these problems by replacing globalisation with localisation. During the evening there will also be a tribute to ‘Teddy’ Goldsmith, founder of The Ecologist magazine.

Time: 6.30pm drinks and food, 7.30pm talk begins at Burgh House
Venue: Gaia House, 18 Well Walk, Hampstead
Contacts: To book email, book online or call 0207 428 0054.
Website: www.gaiafoundation.org

Protest against the closure of Vestas Wind Turbine Factory
Thursday 17 Sep 2009 ?

As well as the continuing protest against the closure of the Vestas Wind Turbine factory at the Isle of Wight, there will also be a chance for people to make their feelings known across the country. People are meeting at the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London to lobby against the government. There will also be speakers including John Mcdonnel, MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) and Tracy Edwards (Young Members Organiser for the Public and Commercial Services Union).
Couldn’t put it better than Phil Thornhill from the Campaign against Climate Change “Just when we need a huge expansion in renewable energy they are closing down the only significant wind turbine factory in the UK. The government has spent billions bailing out the banks, and £2.3 billion in loan guarantees to support the UK car industry – they can and should step in to save the infrastructure we are really going to need prevent a climate catastrophe.
Whilst the impact on employment on the Isle of Wight will be quite devastating, this is an issue not just about jobs or one factory but about whether the government is really going to match up its actions to its rhetoric on green jobs and the rapid decarbonisation of the British economy – whether its prepared to act with the kind of resolution and energy we need to cope with the Climate Emergency”.

Time: 5.30 to 6.30pm
Venue: Outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place.
?Website: www.campaigncc.org

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Out of the Ordinary Festival
Friday 18 Sep 2009 to Sunday 20 Sep 2009
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OOTO is a 3 day family friendly and eco friendly festival set in the beautiful Sussex countryside celebrating the Autumn Equinox. Featuring a variety of live music powered by solar panels and wind generators, fascinating talks and workshops, children’s activities, awesome performances, a green market place and many more out of the ordinary surprises. The festival is also offering Big Green Gathering ticket holders a discount for the event held over the weekend
Venue: Knockhatch Farm, Hailsham, East Sussex
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Website: www.outoftheordinaryfestival.com

Tree-Athlon
Saturday 19th September

Get fit and get your very own tree sapling to take home! Participants run a 5km race to raise money for Trees for Cities, an independent environmental charity working with local communities on tree planting projects. There is also music, entertainment, lots of tree-themed activities, whatever that may consist of, and plenty of other workshops to keep the whole family entertained.
The race is open to runners aged 14 and up and is ideal for beginners or experienced runners alike. Register now, to make sure you can raise as much sponsorship as possible before the day, and look forward to a grand day out.

Time: 9am-3pm
Venue: Battersea Park
Website: www.tree-athlon.org

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The Urban Green Fair ?
Sunday 20th September

?The Urban Green Fair is held in Brockwell Park in London this Sunday, Its a free event and with plenty to do and see, the fair is also powered by solar and wind energy.
The annual family event, has a range of films, talks, workshops, kids activities, stalls, sunshine as well as some unusual bicycles. Unfortunatly no bars or big stages but this keeps the emphasis on education and communication. A chance to share ideas, meet familiar faces and make new friends. With little government action on peak oil and climate change there is plenty to discuss and lots we can do as individuals. ?

Time:11am-7pm
?Venue: Brockwell Park, Lambeth
Website: http://www.urbangreenfair.org/

Leytonstone Car Free Day
Sunday 20th September

Leytonstone Town Centre will car free day this Sunday. As well as having no vehicles hurtling around there will also be entertainment, stalls, live music, dancing, public art and childrens’ play areas. Simon Webbe from Blue and Aswad will be headlining! Get yourself down, and make sure you leave the car(if you’ve got one) at home.
Time: 1pm-7pm
Venue: Outside Leyonstone tube station
Website: www.walthamforest.gov.uk

Co-mutiny
Saturday 12th of September until Monday 21st September

A coming together of activists, eco-warriors gardeners, artists, community/political groups, cooks, builders etc. to demonstrate our creative power to build a city/world we would like to see. Co-Mutineers have taken an old cathedral (of the holy apostles) near the Triangle in the Clifton/Hotwells area, it’s a space to converge, eat, sleep meet and discuss, plan and skill-share!
There will be over a week of different activities, direct actions, workshops, film screenings, public demonstrations and parties. It’s happening all across Bristol and the wider South West.

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During the week there will be actions happening all across the city, which will climax in a fancy dress carnival through the financial district of Bristol on the Friday.
Venue: Bristol Pro Cathedral, Park Place, BS8 1JW
Website: http://comutiny.wordpress.com/
Monday 14th September
William Elliott Whitmore
The Garage, order London

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We can’t get enough of this distilled, medications gravelly bluesman. With Whitmore, it’s almost like you’re listening from inside a huge bottle of JD.

Tuesday 15th September
We Have Band
ICA, London

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This trio spin the grooves of Talking Heads via a stop off and natter with Hot Chip, it’ll make you jive and smile.

Wednesday 16th September
Beth Jeans Houghton
Rough Trade East, London

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Having supported folk heavy weights, Tunng, Bon Iver, and King Creosote, this ballsy 19 year old manages to blend the vocal lustre of Nico and Laura Marling whilst having an edgy stage presence more like Gwen Stefani. Beguiling.

Thursday 17th September
Alela and Laura Gibson
Shepherds Bush Empire, London

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We chatted to Alela recently and she was as lovely as her music. Gibson toes a similar line of enchanting bluesy folk airs.

Friday 18th September
Metronomy, Male Bonding, Your Twenties and Drums Of Death
The Forum, London

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We’re particularly keen on the immaculate indie-pop of Your Twenties after meeting the lovely ex-Metronomy frontman. Nice to see they’re still close.

Saturday 19th September
Tom Paley and Birdengine
The Deptford Arms, London

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A traditional folk night in a scuzzy South-East London boozer. You want more reason that that? Well living legend, Tom Paley who played with Woodie Guthrie back in the day and enchantingly odd, Birdengine are two big ones.

Sunday 20th September
Viv Albertine and Get Back Guinozzi!
The Windmill, London

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The Slits guitarist has picked up a guitar again after a 25 year sabbatical and come up trumps with punk rock outfit, Albertine.


Monday 14th


Rankin at The Truman Brewery

It’s the last chance to see Rankin’s retrospective in Brick Lane this week. The exhibition moves through Rankin at university exploring the well worn art student quest to find a sense of self to portraying the plight of the Congo. After this introduction the exhibition opens onto his best know fashion, website erotic and beauty editorials. Featuring Kate, Hedi, Tilda Swinton and the Dame of British Fashion, Vivienne Westwood to name a few. Rankin’s strongest work comes through in the portraits where he has assumed a sense of a relationship with the sitter, tweaking out their quirks through the movement of an eyebrow, eye or twitch of the lips or neck. Throughout the exhibition Rankin moved his studio into the space to continue photographing the public portraits. A portion of everyone’s fee goes to support Oxfam’s to work in the Congo.
Until the 18th September.

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Tuesday

START KNITTING with prick your finger!

Recent years have seen a rise in designers revisiting craft techniques, with knitting proving to be especially popular with a range of creatives from Louise Goldin to Mark Fast. Last week Amelia’s Magazine participated in a Prick Your Finger discussion on the use and sourcing of local ethical wool and the continuing rise in the popularity of knitting.Join on a Tuesday 7-9 for beginners classes with all your knitting woes and joys.

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Thursday

Fashion Diversity at The Museum of London

The Museum of London is staging a three day fashion diversity event during London Fashion Week. On Thursday the museum hosts a range of workshops from a discussion of the development of sustainable fashion by CHOOLIPS, to a Moving Passion to Profit workshop in association with the MOORDESIGN salon finishing with the importance of branding. Colour Production, addressing how companies interact with their audience visually. Finally 7-16 year olds are giving the opportunity to unlock their creativity in a fashion drawing workshop teaching concentration, communication and dexterity.

Friday and Saturday host the fashion diversity catwalks: Emerging, Established and Honorary designers at 1pm or 3pm Friday and 1pm on Saturday, places are free. Honorary designers Junky Styling and Nico Didonna also present pieces for the runway.

To conclude Saturday’s event, at 3pm student and graduate designers from schools and colleges across London showcase designs inspired by 18th century pleasure gardens and related costumes from from the Museum of London’s archives.

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SHOWstudio : Fashion Revolution

Unable to go to Fashion Week? Fear not! As mentioned last week, the Fashion Revolution exhibition opens at Somerset House. The exhibition curated by Showstudio celebrates nine years of Showstudio.com. The website established by Nick Knight has pushed and developed the idea of communicating fashion ‘live’ through films, online live interviews and streamed performances involving photographers, models, stylists graphic designers and cultural figures to create ethereal fashion portraiture and communication through body and style. New fashion films have been commissioned to accompany the exhibition, alongside a live photographic studio that gives the viewer the opportunity to see the whimsical world of fashion in play.

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Saturday 19th


GIANT VINTAGE SALE

This just dropped into the inbox – The East End thrift store are inviting all budding clothing DIY’ers to come down to the store and fill a bag with all that you can for ten or twenty pounds. Open Saturday to Sunday from 10-7pm.

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The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery celebrates the icon of 60′s British Fashion photography, Twiggy. Dedicating a room to the most iconic images created with her image by a range of photographers from Richard Avedon to Solve Sundsbo. The exhibition coincides with a publication of a new book: Twiggy : A life in photography. This exhibition is a must for anyone interested in the relationship between sitter and photography in fashion portraiture.

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Roll up Roll up and take part in Covent Garden’s fashion fete

Pull the fashion rope, roll around in dressing up boxes courtesy of Costume Boutique. Jump up and Down for the tombola, be styled by Super Super Magazine, scouted by models 1 or preview some of the hottest new design talent with the Fashion and Textiles museum.
Moreover TRAID are holding a stitching workshop on how to transform old clothes into new designs as demonstrated by their remade range.

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The London Vegan Festival this year took place in Kensington Town Hall, ask and was absolutely heaving. Usually, store the odds of bumping into another vegan are slightly higher than those of two Esperanto speakers meeting, so hanging out in a hall packed full of them was a new experience – as was not having to ask ‘Is there dairy in this?’ at every food stall. Bliss.

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Almost as soon as someone mentions becoming vegan, people start to get a panicked look on their faces and tend to begin listing reasons why they couldn’t possibly give up cheese. The general consensus is that a vegan diet is deprived and difficult. Just a quick glance over these photos ought to give anyone with that mindset pause for thought.
Never-mind having never been in a room with so many vegans before, I’d never been in a room filled with so much vegan cake! I ate my way around the festival, starting with a deliciously gooey chocolate brownie, discovered vegan crème eggs half-way round, swung by the Conscious Chocolate stall for my free samples and a bar of Choca Mocha Magic, then hung out with Redwoods comparing the Lincolnshire sausages to the hot dogs. (Hawt dawgs won, hands done.) Veggies provided me with some real food, in the form of a massive Cheezley burger, giving me the energy I needed to head to some of the talks.

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Being vegan isn’t all about the food (though, let’s be honest. It is mostly about the food) and there was a wealth of information at the Festival ranging from talks on vegan nutrition (okay, food again), taking action against animal testing and extreme vegan sports (like regular extreme sports, but partaken of by vegans. Not like preparing scrambled tofu at 30,000 feet. Though, that would be something I would pay to see) to stalls run by the Secret Society of Vegans, animal rights groups and Active Distribution – a bookstall filled with vegan recipe books and anarchist ‘zines. There was information relevant to every level of vegan interest; aspiring, political, dietary…
There was plenty of entertainment too, in the form of magicians, musicians and comedians. (Never let it be said that vegans are without a sense of humour.) I saw Andrew O’Neill, a vegan comedian, who has recently come off the Fringe and was hilarious. Wibbling between whimsical and cruel, from the ‘scat-nav’ to “Kill a Fascist for Grandad” in replacement of the current “Hope not Hate” campaign, he had me laughing from start to finish.

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So, why vegan? We already have McCartney pushing for Meat-Free Mondays, do we really need Dairy-Free Days of the Week as well? I’m on the ‘Yes’ side for that one. Going vegan reduces support for the livestock industry down to zero, on a personal level. (Y’know the livestock industry I’m talking about. The one helping out with Climate Change by about 18%.) If you’re serious about wanting to reduce your environmental impact on the Earth and already cycle everywhere, reuse and recycle, turn your taps off when brushing your teeth, then this is the next step in armchair activism. You don’t need to head up to London to protest, or write letters to your MP. Just start buying dairy-free marge approved by the Vegan society, switch to dark chocolate instead of the sugar-filled sweet stuff, experiment with vegan recipes (hundreds of which are on-line) and have fun doing so. Going vegan isn’t scary or hard, but it is inconvenient. Learning to live without dairy, however, is going to be a lot less inconvenient than learning to live without our planet’s natural resources. If you need any more persuading, I make the most delicious vegan cookies. Drop me a line, and I’ll be sure to hook you up.
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2000 Light Years from Home, physician Neal Fox’s second exhibition, prostate opened at Gallery Daniel Blau in Munich this weekend.

A founder member of the infamous Le Gun collective and a character on the debaucherously creative Soho scene, Neal Fox’s reputation just grows and grows. His pen and ink drawings light up the pages of the Guardian and Dazed and Confused, whilst the Le Gun group shows are always packed to bursting on opening nights, providing the London art world with a much needed buzz of youthful excitement. Each picture features Neal’s grandfather Jonny Watson, by whom he was taken on drinking binges with the hedonist iconoclasts of our age. In this latest show he is taken on a doomsday rock and roll trip and psychedelic journey down the Nile.

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Fox has always drawn ( at school he made pocket money by drawing footballers for his fellow pupils) and became inspired by a discovery he made at his father’s friend Les Coleman’s house.
“…he has a massive collection of underground comics by people like Robert Crumb called things like ‘Amputee Love’. So, I was about eight and I would root through these alternative and psychedelic comics and I got really obsessed with Robert Crumb, I spent my teenage years locked up trying to draw like Robert Crumb.”

These years of drawing clearly paid off as Neal went on to study at Camberwell College and then to complete his masters at the RCA where he met Robert Greene, Chris Bianchi and the other founder members of Le Gun magazine.

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With the growing reputation of the Le Gun collective and the progression of Fox’s other work the whole thing is becoming very exciting and he has now exhibited in Soho’s French House, Gallery Daniel Blau in Munich and Loft 19 in Paris.

This latest exhibition shows great development in the work; the gin-soaked nights of his grandfather in Soho have become psychedelic journeys of the mind as we follow Joseph Conrad down the Nile on a Kenneth Anger inspired acid trip. This drawing is an astonishing 10 meters long. Fox’s work seems to grow in size with each exhibition as the content becomes more and more fantastical.

“Since I got into doing the big pictures, they’ve become much more layered…I think it makes your ideas bigger and makes you feel freer. Coming out of being an illustrator where you are tied to working in a certain size at your desk, I thought why not just make it bigger?”
While he was working on this gargantuan work he hung the drawing on an ‘elaborate contraption’ so he could roll it back and forth as the picture came to life.

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“It starts with the Heart of Darkness, it’s meant to be a mixture of the context of the novel, the pictures evoked by the books but rather than just illustrating the book I wanted to put in the context the books came from and how they bled into culture at the time it was published. “
This layering of influences and ideas is key to these amazing pictures. Drawing from many aspects of culture, from Kenneth Anger to colonial politics, Neal Fox sums up the multi-faceted representation of culture in the world we live in.

All theory aside, these are some pretty amazing adventures in pen and ink: not only will they test your imagination, they’ll tickle your fancy.

Leaving the last words to the artist: “I think the drawings have got a lot more context and my mind has opened up a lot more, the pictures in the last exhibition were more about depicting certain scenes, I’m opening up more to what just comes into my head as I work.”
I first noticed Georgia Hardinge’s exquisite autumn/winter collection for the designer’s transcription of fossil’s architecture into the folds of the collection. An idea embellished by the neutral colour palette of both the make up and the clothes themselves. This season sees Georgia Hardinge premiere her S/S 2010 collection at On|Off’s exhibition space at 180 The Strand. This event staged by On|Off is a separate event which coincides with the official London Fashion Week, tadalafil offering young designers the opportunity to show their collections while the fashion industry is in town.

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After graduating from Parsons Paris School of Design Georgia collaborated with Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and was awarded the golden thimble for best designer at her graduation show. I particularly like the draping and pleating of the fabric to embellish the body’s architecture whilst remaining incredibly feminine pieces of design. The S/S 2010 designs continues themes present in earlier collections from the positioning as clothes as architecture for the body encased within sculptural designs based on landscapes and fossils. I look forward to seeing the entire collection at the On|Off exhibition.

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Georgia, check what inspired you to study fashion design?

Fashion is my way of translating my thoughts into living entities. I am inspired more by ideas of sculpture, science, and architecture than I am by the fashion industry I think clothing should be unique and trend-less.

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When did you creative interests start to develop?

Creating things always interested me, and I remember remaking my friends‚ clothes for fun, and collecting bits and pieces to turn into accessories. We would all go into our mother’s wardrobes and dress up in their clothes.

How important is the natural shape of the body to your designs?

Everyone has areas around their body that they are sensitive about. Manipulating the fabric to draw attention elsewhere makes people more confidant, if I can make people see beauty in what they thought were their faults then I’m happy.

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Which designers would you consider to be important currently?

I don’t consider any one designer to be more important than any other. Our work shows our opinions and everybody has an opinion that matters. It’s about what you like and what feels right at a specific moment.

What is your favourite fabric to work with?

I have this obsession with wool! I can always rely on it to structure my work the way I want, and I love playing with the raw edges of the fabric.

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How do you incorporate structure into your designs?

Architecture is my ultimate inspiration, if I wasn’t in fashion I would dedicate my time to making models of landscapes and buildings, I’m intrigued by doing this on a living body and challenging myself to turn my ideas into garments. On the body my work can travel, people are introduced to my concepts in the street without having to go to a gallery or museum.

So landscape is important to your SS10 collection?

I wanted each piece to map the lines and curves of a woman’s body. I was just experimenting with the idea of boundaries and contours on the body and trying to recreate this as something we can use everyday.

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How does it feel to be part of On|Off at London Fashion Week?

I’m quite excited. This is only my first collection working within my company so I’m just lucky to have this kind of opportunity.

What are your plans for the future?

I have a lot in store for the future. I think all designers have an idea of where they want to be in ten years time. I just hope people stay enthusiastic about my clothes and I keep challenging myself and coming up with fresh ideas.

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Autumn has arrived and with it brings a desire to be contemplatively snuggled up in a quilted blanket wearing your finest armour of knitted garments. Close your eyes and the lilting tones of Oregon native, approved Laura Gibson provides such warmth and opportunity for musing. Open your eyes and you are in the Rough Trade East store surrounded by converse wearing middle-aged men, who’ve heard the media whisper and wanting to ‘keep up,’ have stumbled in on their way home from the office. An altogether less romantic situation but the acoustic ruminations of Gibson provide a suitably poignant escapism nonetheless.

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By Jason Quigley

From the same school of thought as other Portland, Oregon inhabitants, Joanna Newsom and Alela Diane (who she is currently supporting on tour), Gibson is armed with just an acoustic guitar this evening, stripping back tracks from her album, ‘Beasts Of Season’ to the skeletal beauty of their conception. Opening with ‘Where Have All The Good Words Gone?’ she demonstrates the communion of her purposeful yet furtive voice and shimmering guitar motifs. Requests for cloves of garlic came between songs, alerting the audience to an ‘under the weather’ performance that Gibson was doing well to mask in her songs.

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By Jason Quigley

The B-side to her latest track, which went on sale yesterday, provided a highlight within her set. ‘All The Pretty Horses’ is an Alan Lomax collected song, which Gibson describes as “a sweet lullaby that turns into a creepy cowboy song.” This is indicative of the haunting tone in much of Gibson’s music, who coincidentally wrote her album in a room overlooking one of the oldest graveyards in Portland. The acoustic setting is an opportunity for the listener to get lost in the images she creates within such insularity Gibson tells of “bare walls singing” and “pale bones swaying” to their own “Funeral Song” where “Glory” offers a trio of ruminations on father, mother and sister. For somebody who writes with such stark introspection, it is touching when she jokingly invites the audience to embark on a Q & A, bringing me and the middle aged men back into the room to contemplate our journey to the rest of our evening.

After this evening, I’m going to make a point of following the next middle-aged man (wearing converse) I see with a look of intent. They’re probably ‘in the know’ and are heading to a worthy in-store.

Categories ,alela diane, ,caroline weeks, ,folk, ,joanna newsom, ,laura gibson, ,laura marling, ,pop

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Amelia’s Magazine | Sea of Bees: Songs for the Ravens – Album Review

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In autumn nature is vibrant, story drug but also gently muffled, dosage there as it whispers within the trees and slowly looks away from the warmer month’s naivety and brash explosions. These later, brown, red and golden months are melancholic and self defining. The blurriness of the previous heated moments become filed in nostalgia and glorious knitwear is exposed. The perfect music to announce this new phase, both outside your window and inside your stirring consciousness, is sweet, sensitive and yet, triumphant. Determination backing you up like a personal yoga instructor. Sea of Bees is the music you long for. Trust in Californian, Julie Ann Bee, to drift over in her ship and sail you away to a reflective, inspirational paradise.

Sea of Bees is ethereal in her folk sound. Her pitch is high and her instruments hark out in a manner less like ho-down festivity, more like modest little eruptions. There is an element of Decoder Ring, Laura Marling and Joanna Newsom in Julie. This is mixed with a distinct Californian, hippie edge. Despite a voice of sweeties personified (flying saucers), she has more bite than a girly girl, achieving this impression through her guitars, drums and confidence in her flowing notes. She’s that girl you see dancing with her eyes closed, oblivious, absorbed in her own thoughts and allowing her feelings to be shown like the cider in her hand.

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Julie Ann Bee.

She must do this because Sea of Bees lyrics are so full of raw emotion, it’s like listening to someone’s heart beating, particularly, It Won’t be Long and Skinnybone. She is wistful, glorious and powerful. Just crack on Marmalade right now, I implore you, (available as a free download right here) and embrace the birth of something marvellous.

The new album Songs for the Ravens is out now on Crossbill Records in the USA and Heavenly Recordings in Europe. Sea of Bees is currently touring in the USA. You can check out her myspace here.

Categories ,album review, ,california, ,Crossbill Records, ,Decoder Ring, ,Ethereal Folk, ,folk, ,Heavenly Recordings, ,joanna newsom, ,Julie Ann Bee, ,Laura Marling, ,Sea of Bees, ,Songs for the Ravens

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