Amelia’s Magazine | Nancy Elizabeth introduces the video for Simon Says Dance

Nancy Elizabeth by Simon McLaren
Nancy Elizabeth by Simon McLaren.

Simon Says Dance is the second single to be taken from Nancy Elizabeth’s new album, Dancing, which was released on The Leaf Label in May 2013. It is an accidental song, according to Nancy, who wrote it on the piano in the middle of the night after she’d been out dancing. It wasn’t initially intended for inclusion on Dancing even though thematically it’s a perfect match, and the single version is radically different to the one that appears on the album, descending into a mesmerising drumbeat with a big bassline. Nancy Elizabeth explains the making of the accompanying video below.

YouTube Preview Image
The video is a celebration; a meeting of friends in colour and light. The song is a lighthearted poem about reflections, patterns and rhythms that happen between people so I wanted this to be the main focus in the video. That is why it is focused around dancing. 

Nancy Elizabeth
These friendly, lovely women at Bloc and Blur, a film making company in Manchester, were up for making a video for Simon Says Dance, so we found a day on which we all had to get out of bed at an unholy hour. The video shoot started at 7am – with a large team of crew carrying heavy gear into Islington Mill, ant like. I got there for 9, along with my good friends Gonzalo, Nula and my soon to be friend Ella. We moved into a derelict building in Manchester city centre and and Gonzalo and Ella ran around on the beautiful staircase being filmed. I sat on my coat in a dusty room waiting to be needed. I wasn’t needed for ages, luckily Nula was keeping me company and keeping me sane. It was freezing. We then moved along, back to Islington Mill. Some amazing people had dressed the attic with fabrics and bunting. My friends were waiting for me up there. Someone put on some tunes and we all danced around while a load of people moved in and out with cameras, filming us. Gonzalo and Ella did some great moves and looked beautiful. Then it was time for me. FInally. I sang along and did some twirls for the camera. The wonderful director did the rest. They all worked so hard. I am very grateful to everyone who came down to dance or hold a camera. It was a really great day.

Nancy Elizabeth Dancing album cover
Nancy Elizabeth is on tour with her new album throughout June, including an appearance at this year’s Beacons Festival. The track can be downloaded for free from Nancy’s Bandcamp. Dancing is out now on The Leaf Label. Read our interview with Nancy Elizabeth from 2011 here.

Categories ,Beacons Festival, ,Bloc and Blur, ,dancing, ,Islington Mill, ,nancy elizabeth, ,Simon Mclaren, ,Simon Says Dance

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Amelia’s Magazine | Music: An Interview with Nancy Elizabeth


Rachel Freire S/S 2011, website like this illustrated by Krister Selin

‘I’m terrible at interviews’ I announce shortly after arriving at Rachel Freire‘s East London studio. A bit of a melodramatic introduction, stomach maybe; but as I now sit staring at my notes which resemble the scribbles of a toddler I now know why I said it.

My trouble is that I just like to listen to people. I get lost in conversation and forget to write anything down. I refuse to record interviews because I hate the sound of my own voice and I find it a bit of a distraction, cialis 40mg so my erratic notes are all I have to record our meeting. Sometimes, if I meet up with somebody and they don’t say much, I can manage it; when I meet people like Rachel Freire – gorgeous, mesmerising, opinionated, articulate – I’m left with nothing.


Illustration by Abby Wright

Rachel is based at the Dace Road studios, home also to the likes of Christopher Raeburn (featured in ACOFI) and Rui Leonardes. Ex-tennants include Mark Fast and Mary Kantrantzou who’ve now moved to Shacklewell Studios, aka hipster central, but despite her successes, Rachel’s staying put. I meet her on a grey Saturday afternoon, she’s been up for most of the night, but you wouldn’t notice despite her protests.

”Whoever says January is a dead month is LYING!’ Rachel exclaims as she makes the tea. I do find that I get on better with people who drink lots of tea. I just don’t trust people who don’t like it. I know, as she gives them a stir, that we’re going to get along. We sit at a big oak desk in the centre of the studio, Rachel lights a cigarette and we begin our conversation. I ask Rachel how it’s going, and she seems pretty positive. She has an army of interns and creates ‘a sense of family’ in her studio, which is adorned with all sorts of interesting antiquities like skulls and baseball paraphernalia. A sign above the door, Rachel’s mantra, reads ‘IF IN DOUBT, SPRAYPAINT IT GOLD,’ a statement I wholeheartedly agree with.


S/S 2011, illustrated by Naomi Law

Rachel brands herself as a ‘costumier’ who happened to fall into fashion, which explains her unique and innovative approach to dressing. ‘I’ll never lose track of my costumier routes,’ she tells me, ‘I’m pretty anti-fashion. It dictates what we wear and how we feel, and I’ve never subscribed to that.’ Her models ‘need to have an arse’ and she’s conscious of the responsibility a fashion designer must adopt, whether that be ethical or environmental. ‘I am the cheapest person!’ Rachel admits, ‘but I will never shop in Primark. I look at the clothes and think ‘somebody suffered for this’. I want customers to hold things knowing somebody’s crafted it – that something is special.’


S/S 2011, illustrated by Gemma Milly

Rachel won’t compromise. She’s staying true to herself and won’t put her name on anything that she hasn’t rigourously vetted and knows exactly where everything has come from. Rachel is as much an ethical designer as any of the Estethica designers – if not more so. She values the work of other people and believes that you ‘have to be ethical in so many different ways’. How you treat your interns, where you source your fabrics, how you communicate with suppliers – all these things, Rachel believes, are necessary for good business, not just opting for ethical fabrics.

Rachel’s previous collections provide sculptural, architectural pieces with innovative techniques (read all about her glow-in-the-dark S/S 2011 collection here) and it seems A/W 2011 will be even more exciting. As we chat about the boy Rachel’s texting and get mixed up with whose tea is whose (easy mistake – Rachel’s recently got a new mug but the Queen of Fucking Everything option she’s given me still has sentimental value) we’re surrounded by leather nipples. REAL nipples. Rachel and her team of merry men (and women) have been hard at work in the previous weeks to marry them together to make roses. They’re absolutely beautiful to touch and look at but there’s something rather unsettling about them. ‘That’s my aesthetic!’ Rachel declares.


S/S 2011, illustrated by Joana Faria

Rachel’s also working with Ecco, who are developing processes for leather manufacturing for couture houses. Rachel has devoted a lot of her time visiting the Netherlands tannery working alongside them in their quest to transform how we produce and approach leather goods. ‘I’m obsessed with materials!’ Rachel tells me. ‘It’s much nicer to make a jacket out of something that you’ve had an input in from the start.’ She shows me a new process she’s working on (damned if I can remember the name) which gives leather an ethereal ripple-like pattern that looks as if it’s been photoshopped. I’m speechless, and we both sit caressing it for a while until I can think of something to say.


S/S 2011, illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova

So what’s up next for Rachel? Well, A/W 2011 looks set to be her bravest collection yet, and I had a sneak peek at some of the fabrics, textures, techniques and cuts she’s working on. On a grander scale, she ‘loves to teach’ and wants to establish a system where the efforts of designers to instil good practises and skills into their army of interns is recognised. She describes mainstay teaching as ‘box ticking’ and, as someone whose never done what she was told to do, feels there’s more to give in a studio-based environment than anything in the classroom. I hear ya, love.

Rachel’s excited about the future. She plans to dazzle once a year at the A/W 2011 shows while maintaining commissions with an ever-expanding roster of clients and other projects during the rest of the year. She also wants to live on a boat and explore costume design in cinema. She references Jean Paul Gaultier‘s work on flicks like The Fifth Element and is excited by the prospect of applying her unique aesthetic to film. It all comes down to financing. ‘Money dictates and creates a standard,’ Rachel tells me. ‘The system to support new designers is very small, but I won’t compromise my values. I’m here to stay.’

I should bloody hope so.

All photography by Matt Bramford
AmeliasMagazine_LFW_Ada-Zanditon_ArtistAndrea
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 sneak preview by Andrea Peterson. I asked a variety of illustrators to interpret the same image.

Ada looks somewhat confused as I pile into her live/workspace at the same time as the morning influx of interns – maybe I’m a new, view rather overgrown one? She is still in her pyjamas, approved having recently emerged from the space beneath a cutting table that currently serves as her bed.

This season Ada will not be putting on a catwalk show, instead she will show a film presentation alongside the collection on mannequins. “What you can do on a catwalk is dictated by how big a budget a brand has,” she explains. “For instance Lagerfield puts on amazing shows… but the cost to produce his concepts is huge. One reason why everyone loved McQueen was because he put on an event; a moment that could be referenced from then on.” Ada feels that a film or presentation can offer a much more immersive experience given the cost restraints she has.

Ada Zanditon LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd.

Last season’s show at Victoria House was intended to be interactive, with people circulating around the models. In fact it became more like a salon show as soon as the pesky photographers formed a bank across the room that guests were afraid to cross. “But the fact that it wasn’t a normal catwalk set was exciting – now it’s time to go to the next stage.” This season movement will be shown on a screen and the audience will be able to feel the details up close without fear of interaction with any live humans. “I’ve learnt that people won’t walk up to a model when they are in full hair and make up because it is too daunting.”

The night before our interview Ada was filming the A/W 2011 presentation at Netil House just off Broadway Market. On the wall above the table where the interns are busy cutting out invitations there is a model – I correctly deduce that Georgiana from Bulgaria is in fact the star of her new film. “It’s much better to fit a narrative around one person.” This time Ada was able to exactly fit the garments to Georgiana, chosen because of an active interest in her concept and aesthetic. “She also has ability to act and move elegantly and gracefully. I feel she embodies the aspirations of my customers.”

Ada-Zanditon-AW11-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Ada’s great grandparents were from Ukraine and Lithuania, but her mother was born and grew up in America, with the result that Ada has dual nationality and got to spend holidays in fashionable Martha’s Vineyard, where her parents bought a house before it became popular. “Of course now it’s full of rich yuppies… which in a way is good because they look after the beautiful landscape.” Ada herself was born in Crouch End in north London before the family moved south of the river. Secondary school was by all accounts not a fun experience – even though she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from the age of 5 her school pushed her in an academic direction that she felt uneasy with. As a result she didn’t do art A-level but instead took photography GCSE and attended life drawing classes. With the encouragement of an art teacher who spotted her potential she went to Morley College to produce a self generated portfolio which she took to her Art Foundation interview at Kingston University. She was promptly offered an unconditional offer. “They were so warm and impressed that I cried in the interview – I was just so happy that someone finally understood my work.” Afterwards she did a degree at London College of Fashion and then embarked an internship with McQueen where she learnt “a hell of a lot”. She was there for a total of four seasons, working almost all of the time. “It’s a tough industry – you can work 9-5 and achieve something mediocre or you can put 100% in and achieve something beautiful.”

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews.

The new A/W 2011 collection is called The Cryoflux, embodying in its name frozen landscapes and the idea of change. It was inspired by the polar regions, mainly Antarctica, but also the climatic changes experienced by people living in the Arctic. Ada became fascinated by the ice cores that are pulled up to show our climate history in intimate detail, and extremophiles, mostly microscopic organisms which exist in extreme conditions such as the polar regions. “But I didn’t want to be too literal in my translation – after all we’re experiencing extreme conditions both politically and economically as well.”

For further inspiration she looked at the doomed Robert Scott expedition of the early 1900s, for which the explorers were clothed in heritage clothing from great British brands like Mulberry. “I combined the romantic world of beautiful tailoring with an icy modern aesthetic. For instance I looked at broken ice floes in a constant state of flux.”

Ada Zanditon
Ada Zanditon in her studio in Whitechapel.

I wonder if Ada will model a bit of clothing from the collection so that I can get it illustrated but she baulks at the suggestion because she doesn’t design for herself. “I’m quite scruffy… but my designs always come out elegant and polished.” Her collections are instead inspired by an interest in architectural design and illustration. “I want to create wearable stuff for my customer and not myself because I am quite a specific market [of one].” As part of the designing process she loves meeting and learning more about her customers although she’s eager to assure me she’s not a slave to them, and concepts will always be important. She likens it to the work of Monet. “He doesn’t look like a waterlily. And lots of male designers don’t wear the frocks that they design.”

Ada-Zanditon-S/S 2011 by-Maria-del-Carmen-Smith
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith.

The collection features lots of British wool but the silk is not organic because it is much harder to source than good quality organic fair-trade cotton. “Most silk is Chinese even though it often claims to be Indian. I’ve looked into using Peace Silk [which doesn’t kill the silk worms in the process of manufacture] but the trouble is that you only get a smooth continuous unbroken fibre if the worm is killed. My customers want quality and I don’t want to compromise that.” At present Ada feels it is more important to focus on the bigger picture when it comes to sustainability.

All of the silk prints in the new collection were done locally in Bermondsey. “I feel that winter is usually more about sculptural details, so I tend to explore the cut. Print tends to be for S/S. But you can get sick of tailoring!” Ada can’t imagine living somewhere where the climate doesn’t change at all and she is looking forward to designing for the next S/S season: think big and loose, “like a million layers of air”.

Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd
Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd, who chose to put her in one of her S/S 2011 designs anyway.

This season Ada had her choice of slot at LFW, so naturally she chose to show on the first day. The main theme of her presentation remains firmly under wraps but expect a narrative inspired by the solar system and in particular by Europa, which is a moon of Jupitor that experiences particularly extreme conditions. “I like the outside perspective; seeing things from the viewpoint of the other. So I imagined a superwoman extremophile who evolved under the surface of Europa and goes on an exploration of Antarctica.” The film is directed by twins Andrew and William Ho, who had lots of passion and enthusiasm for her subject. “I love their elegant aesthetic.” As well as an “interesting” soundtrack guests can expect a surprise immediately as they enter the venue between 1-2pm on Friday 18th February. I can’t wait… and I shall report back on my findings.

Ada Zanditon features in my new book: Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Part two of this interview will go online tomorrow and digs deeper into Ada’s theories on sustainable practice.
AmeliasMagazine_LFW_Ada-Zanditon_ArtistAndrea
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 sneak preview by Andrea Peterson. I asked a variety of illustrators to interpret the same image.

Ada Zanditon looks somewhat confused as I pile into her live/workspace at the same time as the morning influx of interns – maybe I’m a new, cialis 40mg rather overgrown one? She is still in her pyjamas, price having recently emerged from the space beneath a cutting table that currently serves as her bed.

This season Ada will not be putting on a catwalk show; instead she will show a film presentation alongside the collection on mannequins. “What you can do on a catwalk is dictated by how big your budget is, sick ” she explains. “Lagerfield puts on amazing shows but the cost of production is huge. One reason why everyone loved McQueen was because he put on an event; a moment that could be referenced from then on.” Ada feels that a film or presentation can offer a much more immersive experience on a tight budget.

Ada Zanditon LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd.

Last season’s show at Victoria House was intended to be interactive, with people circulating around the models. In fact it became more like a salon show as soon as the pesky photographers formed a bank across the room that guests were afraid to cross. “But the fact that it wasn’t a normal catwalk set was exciting – now it’s time to go to the next stage.” This season movement will be shown on a screen and the audience will be able to feel the details up close without fear of interaction with any live humans. “I’ve learnt that people won’t walk up to a model when they are in full hair and make up because it is too daunting.”

The night before our interview Ada was filming the A/W 2011 presentation at Netil House just off Broadway Market. On the wall above the table where the interns are busy cutting out invitations there is a model – I correctly deduce that Georgiana from Bulgaria is in fact the star of her new film. “It’s much better to fit a narrative around one person.” This time Ada was able to exactly fit the garments to Georgiana, chosen because of an active interest in her concept and aesthetic. “She also has ability to act and move elegantly and gracefully. I feel she embodies the aspirations of my customers.”

Ada-Zanditon-AW11-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Ada’s great grandparents were from Ukraine and Lithuania, but her mother was born and grew up in America, with the result that Ada has dual nationality and got to spend holidays in fashionable Martha’s Vineyard, where her parents bought a house before it became popular. “Of course now it’s full of rich yuppies… which in a way is good because they look after the beautiful landscape.” Ada herself was born in Crouch End in north London before the family moved south of the river. Secondary school was by all accounts not a fun experience – even though she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from the age of 5 her school pushed her in an academic direction that she felt uneasy with. As a result she didn’t do art A-level but instead took photography GCSE and attended life drawing classes. With the encouragement of an art teacher who spotted her potential she went to Morley College to produce a self generated portfolio which she took to her Art Foundation interview at Kingston University. She was promptly offered an unconditional offer. “They were so warm and impressed that I cried in the interview – I was just so happy that someone finally understood my work.” Afterwards she did a degree at London College of Fashion and then embarked an internship with McQueen where she learnt “a hell of a lot”. She was there for a total of four seasons, working almost all of the time. “It’s a tough industry – you can work 9-5 and achieve something mediocre or you can put 100% in and achieve something beautiful.”

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews.

The new A/W 2011 collection is called The Cryoflux, embodying in its name frozen landscapes and the idea of change. It was inspired by the polar regions, mainly Antarctica, but also the climatic changes experienced by people living in the Arctic. Ada became fascinated by the ice cores that are pulled up to show our climate history in intimate detail, and extremophiles, mostly microscopic organisms which exist in extreme conditions such as the polar regions. “But I didn’t want to be too literal in my translation – after all we’re experiencing extreme conditions both politically and economically as well.”

For further inspiration she looked at the doomed Robert Scott expedition of the early 1900s, for which the explorers were clothed in heritage clothing from great British brands like Mulberry. “I combined the romantic world of beautiful tailoring with an icy modern aesthetic. For instance I looked at broken ice floes in a constant state of flux.”

Ada Zanditon
Ada Zanditon in her studio in Whitechapel.

I wonder if Ada will model a bit of clothing from the collection so that I can get it illustrated but she baulks at the suggestion because she doesn’t design for herself. “I’m quite scruffy… but my designs always come out elegant and polished.” Her collections are instead inspired by an interest in architectural design and illustration. “I want to create wearable stuff for my customer and not myself because I am quite a specific market [of one].” As part of the designing process she loves meeting and learning more about her customers although she’s eager to assure me she’s not a slave to them, and concepts will always be important. She likens it to the work of Monet. “He doesn’t look like a waterlily. And lots of male designers don’t wear the frocks that they design.”

Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd
Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd, who chose to put her in one of her S/S 2011 designs anyway.

The collection features lots of British wool but the silk is not organic because it is much harder to source than good quality organic fair-trade cotton. “Most silk is Chinese even though it often claims to be Indian. I’ve looked into using Peace Silk [which doesn’t kill the silk worms in the process of manufacture] but the trouble is that you only get a smooth continuous unbroken fibre if the worm is killed. My customers want quality and I don’t want to compromise that.” At present Ada feels it is more important to focus on the bigger picture when it comes to sustainability.

All of the silk prints in the new collection were done locally in Bermondsey. “I feel that winter is usually more about sculptural details, so I tend to explore the cut. Print tends to be for S/S. But you can get sick of tailoring!” Ada can’t imagine living somewhere where the climate doesn’t change at all and she is looking forward to designing for the next S/S season: think big and loose, “like a million layers of air”.

Ada-Zanditon-S/S 2011 by-Maria-del-Carmen-Smith
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith.

This season Ada had her choice of slot at LFW, so naturally she chose to show on the first day. The main theme of her presentation remains firmly under wraps but expect a narrative inspired by the solar system and in particular by Europa, which is a moon of Jupitor that experiences particularly extreme conditions. “I like the outside perspective; seeing things from the viewpoint of the other. So I imagined a superwoman extremophile who evolved under the surface of Europa and goes on an exploration of Antarctica.” The film is directed by twins Andrew and William Ho, who had lots of passion and enthusiasm for her subject. “I love their elegant aesthetic.” As well as an “interesting” soundtrack guests can expect a surprise immediately as they enter the venue between 1-2pm on Friday 18th February. I can’t wait… and I shall report back on my findings.

Ada Zanditon features in my new book: Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Part two of this interview will go online tomorrow and digs deeper into Ada’s theories on sustainable practice.
AmeliasMagazine_LFW_Ada-Zanditon_ArtistAndrea
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 sneak preview by Andrea Peterson. I asked a variety of illustrators to interpret the same image.

Ada Zanditon looks somewhat confused as I pile into her live/workspace at the same time as the morning influx of interns – maybe I’m a new, more about rather overgrown one? She is still in her pyjamas, health having recently emerged from the space beneath a cutting table that currently serves as her bed.

This season Ada will not be putting on a catwalk show; instead she will show a film presentation alongside the collection on mannequins. “What you can do on a catwalk is dictated by how big your budget is,” she explains. “Lagerfield puts on amazing shows but the cost of production is huge. One reason why everyone loved McQueen was because he put on an event; a moment that could be referenced from then on.” Ada feels that a film or presentation can offer a much more immersive experience on a tight budget.

Ada Zanditon LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd.

Last season’s show at Victoria House was intended to be interactive, with people circulating around the models. In fact it became more like a salon show as soon as the pesky photographers formed a bank across the room that guests were afraid to cross. “But the fact that it wasn’t a normal catwalk set was exciting – now it’s time to go to the next stage.” This season movement will be shown on a screen and the audience will be able to feel the details up close without fear of interaction with any live humans. “I’ve learnt that people won’t walk up to a model when they are in full hair and make up because it is too daunting.”

The night before our interview Ada was filming the A/W 2011 presentation at Netil House just off Broadway Market. On the wall above the table where the interns are busy cutting out invitations there is a model – I correctly deduce that Georgiana from Bulgaria is in fact the star of her new film. “It’s much better to fit a narrative around one person,” she says. Ada was able to exactly fit the garments to Georgiana, chosen because of an active interest in her concept and aesthetic. “She also has ability to act and move elegantly and gracefully. I feel she embodies the aspirations of my customers.”

Ada-Zanditon-AW11-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Ada’s great grandparents were from Ukraine and Lithuania, but her mother was born and grew up in America, with the result that Ada has dual nationality and got to spend holidays in fashionable Martha’s Vineyard, where her parents bought a house before it became popular. “Of course now it’s full of rich yuppies… which in a way is good because they look after the beautiful landscape.” Ada herself was born in Crouch End in north London before the family moved south of the river. Secondary school was by all accounts not a fun experience – even though she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from the age of 5 her school pushed her in an academic direction that she felt uneasy with. As a result she didn’t do art A-level but instead took photography GCSE and attended life drawing classes.

With the encouragement of an art teacher who spotted her potential she went to Morley College to produce a self generated portfolio which she took to her Art Foundation interview at Kingston University. She was promptly offered an unconditional offer. “They were so warm and impressed that I cried in the interview – I was just so happy that someone finally understood my work.” Afterwards she did a degree at London College of Fashion and then embarked an internship with McQueen where she learnt “a hell of a lot”. She was there for a total of four seasons, working almost all of the time. “It’s a tough industry – you can work 9-5 and achieve something mediocre or you can put 100% in and achieve something beautiful.”

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews.

The new A/W 2011 collection is called The Cryoflux, embodying in its name frozen landscapes and the idea of change. It was inspired by the polar regions, mainly Antarctica, but also the climatic changes experienced by people living in the Arctic. Ada became fascinated by the ice cores that are pulled up to show our climate history in intimate detail, and extremophiles, mostly microscopic organisms which exist in extreme conditions such as the polar regions. “But I didn’t want to be too literal in my translation – after all we’re experiencing extreme conditions both politically and economically as well.”

For further inspiration she looked at the doomed Robert Scott expedition of the early 1900s, for which the explorers were clothed in heritage clothing from great British brands like Mulberry. “I combined the romantic world of beautiful tailoring with an icy modern aesthetic. For instance I looked at broken ice floes in a constant state of flux.”

Ada Zanditon
Ada Zanditon in her studio in Whitechapel.

I wonder if Ada will model a bit of clothing from the collection so that I can get it illustrated but she baulks at the suggestion because she doesn’t design for herself. “I’m quite scruffy… but my designs always come out elegant and polished,” she says. “I want to create wearable stuff for my customer and not myself because I am quite a specific market of one.” Her collections are instead inspired by an interest in architectural design and illustration. As part of the designing process she loves meeting and learning more about her customers although she’s eager to assure me she’s not a slave to them, and concepts will always be important. She likens it to the work of Monet. “He doesn’t look like a waterlily. And lots of male designers don’t wear the frocks that they design.”

Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd
Ada Zanditon in her studio by Donya Todd, who chose to put her in one of her S/S 2011 designs anyway.

The collection features lots of British wool but the silk is not organic because it is much harder to source than good quality organic fair-trade cotton. “Most silk is Chinese even though it often claims to be Indian. I’ve looked into using Peace Silk [which doesn’t kill the silk worms in the process of manufacture] but the trouble is that you only get a smooth continuous unbroken fibre if the worm is killed. My customers want quality and I don’t want to compromise that.” At present Ada feels it is more important to focus on the bigger picture when it comes to sustainability.

There are only a few print designs in the new collection, which were printed locally in Bermondsey. “I feel that winter is usually more about sculptural details, so I tend to explore the cut. Print tends to be for S/S. But you can get sick of tailoring!” Ada can’t imagine living somewhere where the climate doesn’t change on a regular basis and she is looking forward to designing for the next S/S season: think big and loose, “like a million layers of air”.

Ada-Zanditon-S/S 2011 by-Maria-del-Carmen-Smith
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith.

This season Ada had her choice of slot at LFW, so naturally she chose to show on the first day. The main theme of her presentation remains firmly under wraps but expect a narrative inspired by the solar system and in particular by Europa, which is a moon of Jupiter that experiences particularly extreme conditions. “I like the outside perspective; seeing things from the viewpoint of the other. So I imagined a superwoman extremophile who evolved under the surface of Europa and goes on an exploration of Antarctica.” The film is directed by twins Andrew and William Ho, who had lots of passion and enthusiasm for her subject. “I love their elegant aesthetic.” As well as an “interesting” soundtrack guests can expect a surprise immediately as they enter the venue between 1-2pm on Friday 18th February. I can’t wait… and I shall report back on my findings.

Ada Zanditon features in my new book: Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Part two of this interview will go online tomorrow and digs deeper into Ada’s theories on sustainable practice.
AmeliasMagazine_LFW_Ada-Zanditon_ArtistAndrea
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 sneak preview by Andrea Peterson. I asked a variety of illustrators to interpret one piece from the new collection… so read on to see what they did!

Ada Zanditon looks somewhat confused as I pile into her live/workspace at the same time as the morning influx of interns – maybe I’m a new, salve rather overgrown one? She is still in her pyjamas, shop having recently emerged from the space beneath a cutting table that currently serves as her bed.

This season Ada will not be putting on a catwalk show; instead she will show a film presentation alongside the collection on mannequins. “What you can do on a catwalk is dictated by how big your budget is, information pills ” she explains. “Lagerfield puts on amazing shows but the cost of production is huge. One reason why everyone loved McQueen was because he put on an event; a moment that could be referenced from then on.” Ada feels that a film or presentation can offer a much more immersive experience on a tight budget.

Ada Zanditon LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd.

Last season’s show at Victoria House was intended to be interactive, with people circulating around the models. In fact it became more like a salon show as soon as the pesky photographers formed a bank across the room that guests were afraid to cross. “But the fact that it wasn’t a normal catwalk set was exciting – now it’s time to go to the next stage.” This season movement will be shown on a screen and the audience will be able to feel the details up close without fear of interaction with any live humans. “I’ve learnt that people won’t walk up to a model when they are in full hair and make up because it is too daunting.”

The night before our interview Ada was filming the A/W 2011 presentation at Netil House just off Broadway Market. On the wall above the table where the interns are busy cutting out invitations there is a model – I correctly deduce that Georgiana from Bulgaria is in fact the star of her new film. “It’s much better to fit a narrative around one person,” she says. Ada was able to exactly fit the garments to Georgiana, chosen because of an active interest in her concept and aesthetic. “She also has ability to act and move elegantly and gracefully. I feel she embodies the aspirations of my customers.”

Ada-Zanditon-AW11-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Ada’s great grandparents were from Ukraine and Lithuania, but her mother was born and grew up in America, with the result that Ada has dual nationality and got to spend holidays in fashionable Martha’s Vineyard, where her parents bought a house before it became popular. “Of course now it’s full of rich yuppies… which in a way is good because they look after the beautiful landscape.” Ada herself was born in Crouch End in north London before the family moved south of the river. Secondary school was by all accounts not a fun experience – even though she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from the age of 5 her school pushed her in an academic direction that she felt uneasy with. As a result she didn’t do art A-level but instead took photography GCSE and attended life drawing classes.

With the encouragement of an art teacher who spotted her potential she went to Morley College to produce a self generated portfolio which she took to her Art Foundation interview at Kingston University. She was promptly offered an unconditional offer. “They were so warm and impressed that I cried in the interview – I was just so happy that someone finally understood my work.” Afterwards she did a degree at London College of Fashion and then embarked an internship with McQueen where she learnt “a hell of a lot”. She was there for a total of four seasons, working almost all of the time. “It’s a tough industry – you can work 9-5 and achieve something mediocre or you can put 100% in and achieve something beautiful.”

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews.

The new A/W 2011 collection is called The Cryoflux, embodying in its name frozen landscapes and the idea of change. It was inspired by the polar regions, mainly Antarctica, but also the climatic changes experienced by people living in the Arctic. Ada became fascinated by the ice cores that are pulled up to show our climate history in intimate detail, and extremophiles, mostly microscopic organisms which exist in extreme conditions such as the polar regions. “But I didn’t want to be too literal in my translation – after all we’re experiencing extreme conditions both politically and economically as well.”

For further inspiration she looked at the doomed Robert Scott expedition of the early 1900s, for which the explorers were clothed in heritage clothing from great British brands like Mulberry. “I combined the romantic world of beautiful tailoring with an icy modern aesthetic. For instance I looked at broken ice floes in a constant state of flux.”

Ada Zanditon
Ada Zanditon in her studio in Whitechapel.

I wonder if Ada will model a bit of clothing from the collection so that I can get it illustrated but she baulks at the suggestion because she doesn’t design for herself. “I’m quite scruffy… but my designs always come out elegant and polished,” she says. “I want to create wearable stuff for my customer and not myself because I am quite a specific market of one.” Her collections are instead inspired by an interest in architectural design and illustration. As part of the designing process she loves meeting and learning more about her customers although she’s eager to assure me she’s not a slave to them, and concepts will always be important. She likens it to the work of Monet. “He doesn’t look like a waterlily. And lots of male designers don’t wear the frocks that they design.”

Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd
Ada Zanditon in her studio by Donya Todd, who chose to put her in one of her S/S 2011 designs anyway.

The collection features lots of British wool but the silk is not organic because it is much harder to source than good quality organic fair-trade cotton. “Most silk is Chinese even though it often claims to be Indian. I’ve looked into using Peace Silk [which doesn’t kill the silk worms in the process of manufacture] but the trouble is that you only get a smooth continuous unbroken fibre if the worm is killed. My customers want quality and I don’t want to compromise that.” At present Ada feels it is more important to focus on the bigger picture when it comes to sustainability.

There are only a few print designs in the new collection, which were printed locally in Bermondsey. “I feel that winter is usually more about sculptural details, so I tend to explore the cut. Print tends to be for S/S. But you can get sick of tailoring!” Ada can’t imagine living somewhere where the climate doesn’t change on a regular basis and she is looking forward to designing for the next S/S season: think big and loose, “like a million layers of air”.

Ada-Zanditon-S/S 2011 by-Maria-del-Carmen-Smith
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith.

This season Ada had her choice of slot at LFW, so naturally she chose to show on the first day. The main theme of her presentation remains firmly under wraps but expect a narrative inspired by the solar system and in particular by Europa, which is a moon of Jupiter that experiences particularly extreme conditions. “I like the outside perspective; seeing things from the viewpoint of the other. So I imagined a superwoman extremophile who evolved under the surface of Europa and goes on an exploration of Antarctica.” The film is directed by twins Andrew and William Ho, who had lots of passion and enthusiasm for her subject. “I love their elegant aesthetic.” As well as an “interesting” soundtrack guests can expect a surprise immediately as they enter the venue between 1-2pm on Friday 18th February. I can’t wait… and I shall report back on my findings.

Ada Zanditon features in my new book: Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Part two of this interview will go online tomorrow and digs deeper into Ada’s theories on sustainable practice.
AmeliasMagazine_LFW_Ada-Zanditon_ArtistAndrea
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 sneak preview by Andrea Peterson. I asked a variety of illustrators to interpret one piece from the new collection… so read on to see what they did!

Ada Zanditon looks somewhat confused as I pile into her live/workspace at the same time as the morning influx of interns – maybe I’m a new, case rather overgrown one? She is still in her pyjamas, order having recently emerged from the space beneath a cutting table that currently serves as her bed.

This season Ada will not be putting on a catwalk show; instead she will show a film presentation alongside the collection on mannequins. “What you can do on a catwalk is dictated by how big your budget is, unhealthy ” she explains. “Lagerfield puts on amazing shows but the cost of production is huge. One reason why everyone loved McQueen was because he put on an event; a moment that could be referenced from then on.” Ada feels that a film or presentation can offer a much more immersive experience on a tight budget.

Ada Zanditon LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 LFW Preview by Danielle Shepherd.

Last season’s show at Victoria House was intended to be interactive, with people circulating around the models. In fact it became more like a salon show as soon as the pesky photographers formed a bank across the room that guests were afraid to cross. “But the fact that it wasn’t a normal catwalk set was exciting – now it’s time to go to the next stage.” This season movement will be shown on a screen and the audience will be able to feel the details up close without fear of interaction with any live humans. “I’ve learnt that people won’t walk up to a model when they are in full hair and make up because it is too daunting.”

The night before our interview Ada was filming the A/W 2011 presentation at Netil House just off Broadway Market. On the wall above the table where the interns are busy cutting out invitations there is a model – I correctly deduce that Georgiana from Bulgaria is in fact the star of her new film. “It’s much better to fit a narrative around one person,” she says. Ada was able to exactly fit the garments to Georgiana, chosen because of an active interest in her concept and aesthetic. “She also has ability to act and move elegantly and gracefully. I feel she embodies the aspirations of my customers.”

Ada-Zanditon-AW11-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Ada’s great grandparents were from Ukraine and Lithuania, but her mother was born and grew up in America, with the result that Ada has dual nationality and got to spend holidays in fashionable Martha’s Vineyard, where her parents bought a house before it became popular. “Of course now it’s full of rich yuppies… which in a way is good because they look after the beautiful landscape.” Ada herself was born in Crouch End in north London before the family moved south of the river. Secondary school was by all accounts not a fun experience – even though she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from the age of 5 her school pushed her in an academic direction that she felt uneasy with. As a result she didn’t do art A-level but instead took photography GCSE and attended life drawing classes.

With the encouragement of an art teacher who spotted her potential she went to Morley College to produce a self generated portfolio which she took to her Art Foundation interview at Kingston University. She was promptly offered an unconditional offer. “They were so warm and impressed that I cried in the interview – I was just so happy that someone finally understood my work.” Afterwards she did a degree at London College of Fashion and then embarked an internship with McQueen where she learnt “a hell of a lot”. She was there for a total of four seasons, working almost all of the time. “It’s a tough industry – you can work 9-5 and achieve something mediocre or you can put 100% in and achieve something beautiful.”

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 by Dee Andrews.

The new A/W 2011 collection is called The Cryoflux, embodying in its name frozen landscapes and the idea of change. It was inspired by the polar regions, mainly Antarctica, but also the climatic changes experienced by people living in the Arctic. Ada became fascinated by the ice cores that are pulled up to show our climate history in intimate detail, and extremophiles, mostly microscopic organisms which exist in extreme conditions such as the polar regions. “But I didn’t want to be too literal in my translation – after all we’re experiencing extreme conditions both politically and economically as well.”

For further inspiration she looked at the doomed Robert Scott expedition of the early 1900s, for which the explorers were clothed in heritage clothing from great British brands like Mulberry. “I combined the romantic world of beautiful tailoring with an icy modern aesthetic. For instance I looked at broken ice floes in a constant state of flux.”

Ada Zanditon
Ada Zanditon in her studio in Whitechapel.

I wonder if Ada will model a bit of clothing from the collection so that I can get it illustrated but she baulks at the suggestion because she doesn’t design for herself. “I’m quite scruffy… but my designs always come out elegant and polished,” she says. “I want to create wearable stuff for my customer and not myself because I am quite a specific market of one.” Her collections are instead inspired by an interest in architectural design and illustration. As part of the designing process she loves meeting and learning more about her customers although she’s eager to assure me she’s not a slave to them, and concepts will always be important. She likens it to the work of Monet. “He doesn’t look like a waterlily. And lots of male designers don’t wear the frocks that they design.”

Ada Zanditon by Donya Todd
Ada Zanditon in her studio by Donya Todd, who chose to put her in one of her S/S 2011 designs anyway.

The collection features lots of British wool but the silk is not organic because it is much harder to source than good quality organic fair-trade cotton. “Most silk is Chinese even though it often claims to be Indian. I’ve looked into using Peace Silk [which doesn’t kill the silk worms in the process of manufacture] but the trouble is that you only get a smooth continuous unbroken fibre if the worm is killed. My customers want quality and I don’t want to compromise that.” At present Ada feels it is more important to focus on the bigger picture when it comes to sustainability.

There are only a few print designs in the new collection, which were printed locally in Bermondsey. “I feel that winter is usually more about sculptural details, so I tend to explore the cut. Print tends to be for S/S. But you can get sick of tailoring!” Ada can’t imagine living somewhere where the climate doesn’t change on a regular basis and she is looking forward to designing for the next S/S season: think big and loose, “like a million layers of air”.

Ada-Zanditon-S/S 2011 by-Maria-del-Carmen-Smith
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith.

This season Ada had her choice of slot at LFW, so naturally she chose to show on the first day. The main theme of her presentation remains firmly under wraps but expect a narrative inspired by the solar system and in particular by Europa, which is a moon of Jupiter that experiences particularly extreme conditions. “I like the outside perspective; seeing things from the viewpoint of the other. So I imagined a superwoman extremophile who evolved under the surface of Europa and goes on an exploration of Antarctica.” The film is directed by twins Andrew and William Ho, who had lots of passion and enthusiasm for her subject. “I love their elegant aesthetic.” As well as an “interesting” soundtrack guests can expect a surprise immediately as they enter the venue between 1-2pm on Friday 18th February. I can’t wait… and I shall report back on my findings.

Ada Zanditon features in my new book: Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Part two of this interview will go online tomorrow and digs deeper into Ada’s theories on sustainable practice.
rachel-destecroix-acofi-susie-bubble-portrait
Susie Bubble needs no introduction and I absolutely adore Rachel’s rendition of this infamous fashion blogger. She’s been a great supporter of Amelia’s Magazine so it was an honour to see her at the launch party. You can read her write up here. Thanks Susie!

Rachel de Ste. Croix has developed a unique style that suits both childrens’ book illustration and fashion illustration a treat. Working from life she sketches a likeness of her subject and then transfers into into her computer through a painstaking process involving a light box and lots of black felt markers. From there she messes around in photoshop to achieve a beautiful handmade look that in fact makes the most of digital special effects – something which I talked about when I mentioned her in my Digital Arts interview. Here’s her fabulous ACOFI launch party output:

rachel-desctecroix-acofi-neil-bennnett-digitalartsmag-portrait
I love the fact that Neil Bennett of Digital Arts donated his ACOFI tote bag to his daughter, page who has been using it to carry her school books, mind much to the envy of her classmates. Check her out in this twitpic: coolest kid in town!

rachel-destecroix-acofi-katie-wright-portrait
Katie Wright writes Style My Wardrobe and she managed to grab a little bit of my time to ask a few questions at the launch – you can read her great write up here.

rachel-destecroix-acofi-sarahBvernon-portrait
Sarah Vernon is best known as SBV of essbeevee, doctor a lovely fashion blog. Here’s her write up.

rachel-destecroix-acofi-tigzrice-portrait
Tigz Rice is actually a friend of Rachel’s – I’ve now had the pleasure of working with more than a couple University of Westminster graduates, who are all super talented. Can’t think why. Maybe it’s because one of my bestest mates the wonderful illustrator Simone Lia teaches there. Or else it’s something in the water.

rachel-destecroix-acofi-amelia-gregory-portrait
I cheekily asked Rachel to illustrate me. Well, she did such an amazing job with everyone else I really didn’t want to be left out. Here I am wearing my Joanna Cave earrings (new season darling) and Beautiful Soul cape-let made out of an upcycled kimono. You can buy similar Beautiful Soul pieces (they’re all different obviously) at the V&A shop.

MattBramford_ACOFI_Rachel de ste croix
Rachel hard at work drawing Susie behind a curtain of hair. Photography by Matt Bramford.

You can follow Rachel de Ste. Croix on twitter on @precious_little and don’t forget you can buy Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration here, with a special 10% if you use the discount code ACOFI LAUNCH up until the 28th February 2011. Here’s Rachel talking in detail about how she creates her illustrations on youtube.

YouTube Preview Image
Lily Vanilli ACOFI launch cake by Abby Wright
Lily Vanilli ACOFI launch cake by Abby Wright. This must be the most lovingly photographed and illustrated cake ever!

Ah, cheapest Abby Wright. Where to begin? She has grabbed the proverbial illustration bull by the horns and run with it, big time. Never has someone still at university so inspired me. Some people just get it you know? And she’s one of them. If you’re reading this and you’re still at university wondering how you will ever get noticed, then read on and learn. I’m serious. This girl has got it going on.

Firstly – she’s all over twitter chatting to fellow illustrators up and down the country all the time, encouraging them and swapping advice. She’s so switched on she even instigated the Tea and Crayons illustration collective. Secondly – she just keeps on creating. Day after day she volunteers illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine. She’s not afraid of making mistakes in public, she puts it out there and learns, and it is a joy to watch her work developing all the time. Students all over should be inspired… just take a look at how many followers she has on twitter! Abby Wright is going places.

Which is why I asked her along to be at my ACOFI afternoon launch party. And here are the results of her doodlings:

Johann_Chan_Digital_Arts_abby_Wright
Johann Chan, art editor of Digital Arts – no doubt grinning ear to ear because he came down for the fabulous cakes (see above).

Adorngirl_Abby_Wright
Adorngirl, otherwise known as Ashanti Jason, who wrote this lovely blog about the event.

Emma_Davenport_Abby_Wright
Emma Davenport is an old friend of mine who. Inspired by a life long love of the charity shop – snap! – she has been researching the history of ethical dress and fashion at the RCA. She has a blog called Frock Conscious and you can read her party piece here.

ACOFI_launch Charles Ampadu_Abby_Wright
Charles Ampadu – fashion stylist and model scout.

Neil_Bennett_Digital_Arts_Abby_Wright
Neil Bennett – editor of Digital Arts. The one with the very cool daughter, yes, that’s him again!

Nikki_Nakki_Lou_Abby_Wright
Nikki Nakki Lousuper blogger from the Wirral.

Prince_Cassius_Abby_Wright
And finishing up with socialite Prince Cassius. Oh yes, he of the dapper clothing and super fro – a delight for both illustrators and photographers alike. What a gent.

Abby Wright takes tea. Photography by Liz Johnson-Artur
Abby Wright takes tea. Photography by Liz Johnson-Artur.

You can follow Abby Wright on twitter on @abbyillustrator and don’t forget you can buy Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration here, with a special 10% if you use the discount code ACOFI LAUNCH up until the 28th February 2011. Find out just how Abby gets ahead in illustration in my interview with her on youtube here.

YouTube Preview Image

Nancy Elizabeth falling Matilde Sazio
Illustration by Matilde Sazio

She sounds delicate, healing pretty and well.. wonderful. Floating folk, pharm her music is ethereal and yet very raw. We at Amelia’s have been fans of Nancy Elizabeth for yonks. See the review of her album, Wrought Iron, available on the Leaf Label, here. Then see live reviews, here and here from 2007. This is our first interview with her. She is simply charming as you can read. Enjoy.

You sound so relaxed when you play your music, it’s like having a massage listening to you! Are you a very relaxed person?
Erm, It’s hard to tell how relaxed you yourself are because you have nothing to measure it against. I’ve never been inside someone else’s mind to see how it is. Nevertheless, I do feel at home on stage even though I hate people staring at me. It’s a strange juxtaposition. I’m generally a relaxed person I suppose. I hate rushing and spend a lot of time day dreaming.

How did you get to where you are today?
I have a great mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, who has taught me never to give in to disbelief and doubt. I adore making music, so I do as much of it as possible.

nancy elizabeth by daria hlazatova
Illustration by Daria Hlazatova

Have you always been creative?
Yes, it’s quite tiring. I am always thinking of sounds and images and how to make new things. Having said that, I don’t know if I’m that creative. I do create a lot of stuff, but again, I’ve never been inside the mind of an accountant so I don’t know what that’d be like. I imagine everyone is creative, just in different ways. I can’t create a spreadsheet that will calculate the cost of cornflakes to save my life, because I don’t care. Some people do! I think creativity is the desire to do something and the necessary inspiration to do it, whatever it may be. Some people have that for cooking, some people have it for equations. I have it for music and words.

What musical instruments do you play and when did you start learning them?
I generally play anything that comes my way. I’ve got a piano and a guitar and a little harp and a few other stringed instruments, a celeste, synths, bells, drums. Loads of stuff. My house is a nightmare. Can’t move for instruments. They’re not designed to be economic with space. I started with the piano when I was ten but I hated having lessons so I rebelled and taught myself guitar. From then on I’ve collected various things and ended up falling back in love with the piano, but on my own terms, not the teacher’s terms.

Nancy Elizabeth by Jenny Lloyd
Illustration by Jenny Lloyd

Who inspires your music?
Everyone I meet. I particularly adore Aphex Twin and I’d love to be inside his mind for a moment. I also love poetry and dialects.

How do you use the countryside/city/people as tools to write your lyrics?
I don’t really think about that. I live in a city. I sometimes go for walks in the countryside. I’m always writing so it makes no difference where I am. I use my own feelings as inspiration and both people and places being out different feelings so I try and mix it up as much as possible. I’ll be out clubbing one week and staring at a mountain the next. I have loads of different kinds of friends and enemies. It’s all a rich tapestry to me.

Nancy Elizabeth
Illustration by Matilde Sazio

It’s so easy to become immersed in your music and drift off to a little world. Would you say your lyrics are your almost like your ‘own world’?
Yes. I find it really hard to deal with the reality of paying my rent and organizing paperwork. I’m 100% completely absorbed by my story of life and I live it like it’s a book unfolding. I sometimes want to shoot myself in the head and put a rest to it all but I don’t have a gun and anyway, even struggling to pay my rent is a story and a new chapter so I embrace it all. My songs are most definitely like chapters in a story. I don’t even care if no one cares. I am living out my life like a play and I love all the characters dearly. If I didn’t have many different kinds of sub plots and storylines going on then I wouldn’t be able to understand or relate to any one else’s story. It’s all interesting. I think I will write music until I die.

Does it ever make you feel vulnerable, articulating and exposing it?
Not really. In this modern age people seem to think you’ve got to put on some kind of show, especially in the arts. I am completely myself. I believe that my life is perfect as it is, with all it’s flaws and foibles. Surely I would not be happy if I felt I had to hide it? I think that sometimes people don’t like my level of honesty but I am happy this way so I will keep on writing music that is a representation of how I feel and if no one likes it I don’t worry. I don’t think that other people’s opinion’s has any bearing on how valuable what I do is. This is the only way to not end up making shit, lifeless music, or die of heartache in an industry and world where money and fame are the only accepted ways to measure success. It might sound arrogant, but it’s just self-belief, the two are not the same. I believe in myself completely, but I also have absolute belief in other people.

How do you escape it and free your mind?!
Day dreaming, dancing and the odd pint.

Is it hard to sit down and motivate yourself sometimes? How do you do it?
Yes I sometimes put off what needs to be done because it feels like the task it too big and everything is hard and scary. This never benefits me but I’ve learned not to give myself a hard time for it. I think motivation comes in direct proportion to how inspired I feel, and how inspired I feel comes in direct proportion to how much I’m striving to understand the purpose of my life. As I say, going out for a pint usually helps, as does eating curry and turning my music up loud and dancing around.

Where did you grow up, and where do you reside now?
I grew up in the wonderful town of Wigan and I now live in my beloved city of Manchester.

nancy

How important is ‘home’ to you? Do you get nostalgic?
I’ve wondered about this loads. I’m in love with the North of England. I really love other places too, but a few years ago I realized that I always measure everything against what I first knew… Wigan. I suppose the word “home” means, the place where you consider to be the centre of your world. Of course that can mean many different things. Geographically, at least, that will always be Lancashire for me. I always wear rose tinted spectacles when it comes to Lancashire. Red ones, of course.

How do you challenge yourself?
Ooo that’s a big question. I’d like to say I go for a jog at 6am everyday but that would be a giant lie. I try and read and see something good in people who I might dislike. If I just outright hate them then I’ll try and understand why and take a look at myself. I try and make my fingers play things they don’t want to on the piano, but only if it sounds good. Drumming is great for me because I usually can’t physically do what is in my mind, but after a good practice it all comes right. That is great.

What are you working on now?
MY THIRD ALBUM! God only knows when it shall be ready. I’m not rushing.

Thank you x

Nancy will be playing three more dates this month. See them here.

Categories ,album, ,Amelia, ,Amelia’s Magazine, ,Aphex Twin, ,bells, ,celeste, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,drums, ,folk, ,guitar, ,Helen Martin, ,interview, ,Jenny Lloyd, ,Leaf Label, ,manchester, ,Matilde Sazio, ,music, ,nancy elizabeth, ,piano, ,Reviews, ,synths, ,whimsical, ,Wigan

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Amelia’s Magazine | Nancy Elizabeth – Wrought Iron: Album Review

Nancy Elizabeth by Emily Dennison 3

The choice of music you hear and the surroundings you hear that music in have always acted as unconscious bedfellows for appreciation. Back in the 70s Brian Eno popularised a dialogue between recorded music and listening surroundings with his Ambient works, now in October 2009 I am having my very own, accidentally arrived at synergy.

The music: second album from Nancy Elizabeth, a UK folkster who since debut Battle and Victory has been cementing her reputation with collaborations as diverse as James Yorkston and Susumu Yokota.

The location: my folks’ place.

Nancy Elizabeth by Emily Dennison 1

The favourability of this review may be in no small part be down to current personal circumstances. I am lying up recovering from the worst virus of my life in exile from the city in remotest, deepest Dorset. The experience of listening to Wrought Iron – an album seemingly made to fill the vast, damp and natural spaces of an autumnal countryside – echoes my current sensibilities.

Is it a surprise the press release makes a big deal of the isolated manor of the album’s writing process in rural Wales, Spain and the Faroe Islands? It is a strange, muted album, best listened to without a great deal of volume, although not to suggest Elizabeth has made an album of background music in any sense: this is music that has actively reproduced an atmosphere.

Nancy Elizabeth by Emily Dennison 2

Piano led, mostly beat less. Occasional brass, xylophones and other acoustic instruments play firm supporting characters, bucking up but never stealing the limelight from her piano and her often dry recorded voice.

I first put the CD on a week ago, lying back on a sunbed surrounded by trees and in constant gratitude the Indian summer is holding out for another day. The bird singing is real, around me, but could be part of the recording. On branches near me spiders are frantically spinning webs and the bees are trudging around on their last searches for fresh fauna to pollinate. I am living in a virtual reality of this album.

Nancy Elizabeth by Harold Thompson

A week passes, the virus comes and goes, phasing in and out like an unwelcome guest refusing to leave a long finished party. It’s raining. Autumn has set. The grass outside is filling up with apples too lazy or ripe to hang onto the browning trees. The album takes on new levels of melancholy; there’s something of the wistfulness of Nick Drake, in the lovely way Tow The Line descends into its chorus. It dips, like its revealing a truth that is only safe to mutter. The Act has a guitar line and brave sparsity that conjure Talk Talk at their most victorious, that played with any more force, would evaporate its minor key beauty out of existence.

This is music that hangs in open spaces and small corners so long as both are bereft of people. It is an isolated one on one dialogue with surroundings.

It is also another small victory of quality for The Leaf Label, who for well over ten years now have acted as a bastion of the more accessible end of what a Wire subscriber’s CD buying money goes on.

Categories ,album, ,brian eno, ,folk, ,James Yorkston, ,nancy elizabeth, ,review, ,susumu yokota, ,talk talk

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Amelia’s Magazine | Kept Impulses at the Barbican featuring Nancy Elizabeth, Hauschka and James Blackshaw

nancy elizabeth - abi daker
Nancy Elizabeth by Abigail Daker.

I made a decision to attend Kept Impulses at the Barbican at the last minute only because I wanted to support Fran – erstwhile violinist in my ceilidh band Green Kite Midnight – backing the extremely talented 12 string guitarist James Blackshaw, physician stuff who we covered here last year. But I knew we were in for a treat as soon as I spotted Nancy Elizabeth in the line up for this collaborative show, here directed by David Coulter.

Nancy Elizabeth featured in issue 09 of Amelia’s Magazine and she also made a tune to go on the accompanying usb, but I met her long before that at the Thermal Festival in 2007. Feel free to read all about my exploits at this boutique festival oop north, curated by Sam Genders, formerly of Tuung and my report of Nancy’s gig at 93 Feet East that same year. I am happy to report that her down to earth manner and strong Mancunian accent remain absolutely intact, despite her now rarefied setting.

Abi Daker - Nancy Elizabeth James Blackshaw
James Blackshaw and Nancy Elizabeth play together.

She glided across the stage in a flouncy tiered frock. “You stood on ma lead!” she remonstrated James, as he took centre stage between Nancy and the German avante guard pianist Hauschka, “I thought I’d better wear the poshest dress I own since I’m in the poshest concert hall. I was a bit freaked out about playing here; I think we all feel the same.” Apparently they’d been up rehearsing for 3 days. No pressure then.

The first part of the performance was devoted to rearranged collaborative versions of original compositions, with the backing musicians swirling in and out of focus behind the thin gauze curtain according to the lighting effects and their importance. These included the harpist Julia Thornton stage left, and Thomas Bloch on a glass harmonica and cristal baschet on the far side, so I was unable to see what fun he was up to.

Nancy’s voice, without wanting to sound like a huge perv, wavers between the sweetest maple syrup and heaviest treacle. She is at ease with the piano, guitar, harp, or… plastic chair. “I asked them to find me one I could hit and I swear they spent an hour looking for the right one. I wasn’t expecting it to be this manky though.” Her sparse compositions worked well swollen with extra instruments.

Nancy Elizabeth - Abi Daker
Nancy Elizabeth by Abigail Daker.

I’ve been to see Fran play with James Blackshaw before so I know that he is brilliant at complex cyclical picking that builds up into a glorious wall of sound, beloved of guitar aficionados aplenty. The real revelation of the evening was Hauschka, who I have not heard of before. His speciality is what’s known as ‘prepared piano’ whereby he drops bits of junk into the innards of the instrument to create interesting noise effects. Sounds diabolical, makes amazing noises. Picking each bit of debris out one by one, he then dumped a bag of ping pong balls inside so that they could bounce up and down with the music.

Abi Daker - Hauschka
In my eagerness to catch Hauschka in action for this illustration by Abigail Daker, I received a severe remonstration from one of the stewards. Worth it though, don’t you agree?

After the break Nancy reappeared in a change of outfit, this time a striped gold and black number with a wide angular bottom, “I thought I’d have a costume change to show James up. I did offer him the dress first though.” Each of the musicians had a chance to showcase their solo work in the second half, complete with a much enlarged backing orchestra, including Fran, her little white stockings aglow in the centre of the stage. The finale was a joint composition created a few weeks ago and given the name 1000 Angels thanks to the appearance of huge numbers of Hells Angels near their Hackney recording studio. “I don’t know where it was,” said Nancy, “somewhere down south.” Only a true Northerner would say that. It’s east love, east.

Categories ,Abigail Daker, ,barbican, ,David Coulter, ,Green Kite Midnight, ,Harp, ,Hauschka, ,Hells Angels, ,james blackshaw, ,Julia Thornton, ,Kept Impulses, ,nancy elizabeth, ,piano, ,Sam Genders, ,Thermal Festival, ,Thomas Bloch, ,tuung

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Amelia’s Magazine | Efterklang – The Asylum, Birmingham – Live Review

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This year the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2009 graces the walls of the Natural History Museum for another year and it’s safe to say this is one exhibition that cannot be missed. Owned by the museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, view the competition is one that prides itself on exposing and celebrating the diversity of life on the planet.

The room dedicated to this exhibiton is dimly lit and you discover that this is to make way for the photographs themselves. Each one is displayed on a screen, cialis 40mg illuminated from behind so that they stand as
The competiton is divided into categories, first showing the winner and then a selection of those that are highly recommended.

Under the heading of ‘Urban and Garden Wildlife’ I find the corresponding winner to be something of a stroke of genius. The entries are required to be poignant, beautiful or striking comopositions of wild animals or plants in urban or suburban settings. The judges look for uncommonly good images of common subjects. It’s easy to see why ‘Respect’ by Igor Shilpenok (Russia) was the judges’ favourite. The centre of the photo is a stage for a stand off – one small domestic cat against a considerably bigger wild fox. This is one cat that clearly has a ________ complex. There’s something quite triumphant about this scene. You feel a sense of jubilation in his victory over the intruder. Shilpenok was working as a ranger in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka, Russia with his cat Ryska for company. He comments that, “One day Ryska, protecting me, ran to attack an approaching fox. The fox bottled it and Ryska instantly earned respect from the foxes – and me”.

In this exhibition, it’s not only the animals that are showcased – there are also categories committed to the plant kingdom. ‘Wild Places’ presents photographs that must show scenes that are wild and awe-inspiring. The judges look for beautiful light, a true feeling of wilderness and a sense of awe. The photograph of ‘The Fountain Of Ice’ by Floris Van Breugel is one that doesn’t quite register at first. It’s easy to read it as a digitally manipulated image and even after a closer glance it’s hard not see it in this way. Had I not known it’s origin, it could just be another picture in the same vein as other framed waterfall paintings found hung on the walls of a garishly decorated Seventies living room. But what makes this all the more impressive is that this is, without question, a completely bona fide photograph. Taken in the Bailey Range in Olympic National Park, Washington, is a challenging route with few trails. Scrambling and rock-climbing with a heavy pack, Floris was forced to stop short of his destination. But that didn’t matter, because close to where he camped, he discovered this miniature gem of an ice-cave and waterfall. The ice had melted to the thickness that allowed just the right amount of light to filter through and produce an otherworldly blue, illuminating the waterfall and waterside plants.
Last week a group of 21 activists from around the country stormed Didcot Power Station in an awe inspiring action that managed to force the power company to switch from burning coal to gas, ampoule a much cleaner power source, price dramatically reduce the output of the power station as well as inspiring protestors across the world.
A group locked on to the coal conveyor belts halting the supply of coal to the furnace and at the same time 9 protestors scaled the 600 ft chimney, occupied a room and pitched tents next to the chimney flues. Unfortunately the plan to camp in the flues for a week was impossible as it became apparent that they were too hot too stay in for any long period of time.

Although the Didcot Power Station protest may ostensibly have come to a rather unsatisfactory and anticlimactic end, with the nine remaining protesters arrested when they descended last Wednesday having failed to disrupt power generation for a week as planned, the protesters achieved something more important in successfully raising more awareness of the threat of climate change.

The group met at climate camp London this year, and are not just an obscure group of radicals shrouded in secrecy, but just ordinary individuals from all sorts of trades and professions who felt compelled to do something. Initiatives for environmental action are constantly being developed by normal people who happen to meet, and agree that something needs to be done.

While the action did not gain quite the level of publicity it perhaps hoped for, given its dramatic and unusual nature, there was a reasonable degree of press coverage.

What is surprising however, and perhaps indicative of heightened public concern regarding environmental issues, was that rather condemning the protest as the work of misguided hippies, coverage in the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, and even the Daily Mail seemed at worst objective, and at best sympathetic.

Although a mainstream newspaper clearly cannot condone ‘unlawful’ protests outright, the Guardian’s article condemning ‘punitive pre-charge bail conditions’, while not compromising its own position, showed a certain solidarity by emphasising the increasingly dubious actions of law-enforcers.

The article’s inflammatory title, ‘Didcot demonstration: Police use bail restrictions to stifle climate protest’ carefully negotiates a pro-environment position that put the actions of police, not protesters, in the spotlight.

Of course, there will still be those who dismiss these facts as irrelevant, or outweighed by the jobs and electricity Didcot provides. But crucially debate is being provoked, and it is becoming increasingly clear that provocateurs are not extremists, they are people who feel that the current circumstances require extreme action. The demystification of environmental protest – making it seem more inclusive, distilling it down to an issue of personal choices just like any other political issue – will hopefully encourage others.

In a BBC article, John Rainford of RWE power is quoted as saying, “Sitting on top of a chimney isn’t going to affect climate change. The people who can – and do – really make a difference are the people at the bottom of the chimney – the power station workers. They are deeply passionate and absolutely committed to cutting emissions. These are the people who work in the community, live in the community and care about their community”. While it is true that sitting on a chimney did not stop climate change instantly and directly, there is more truth to his words than he knows. Protests are changing public opinion, and if wasn’t for public opinion there would be no call or incentive for a cut in emissions. It is small actions of the builders, receptionists and power station workers which together will determine the survival or demise of coal power in Britain.

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Efterklang are a seven-piece from the tiny Danish island of Als who have big ideas involving strings, information pills brass and symphonic harmonies, viagra approved refusing to let a lack of classical training serve as a deterrent. We’ve heard and loved the album, Performing Parades, now it is time for the live experience with Nancy Elizabeth in support.

“Strong as a silk thread”

With songs like spider’s webs, Nancy Elizabeth takes the stage and casts spells. The silences between the music were broken only by the kerching of the bar cash register. A most incongruous sound against Elizabeth‘s songs, almost taunting her that her beautiful, Beth Gibbons style, delicate folk compositions will not earn her the living she deserves. Shamefully the record buying public will not embrace this artist as they should, will not clasp her to their collective bosom and give her a fraction of the kudos they heap upon the myriad of less inspired female singer songwriters. Elizabeth‘s ethereal vocal dominates the set and for several tracks is the only instrument used, to astounding effect. Elements of Cocteau Twins, Low, Portishead and perhaps even Aphex Twin, writhe and coil towards our ears, wrapping around our brain stems, poisoning us with the spaces between words.

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“This world is for the birds”

Efterklang, here represented by seven human beings and their many instruments, are enormous. Each tune they play makes you feel slightly better about yourself. The exuberance and their sheer joy in playing this stripped down set wakes you up, running you through countless emotions. All the best ones, anyway. I say stripped down, they have been playing with a full orchestra, which bizarrely makes a stage crammed with seven bodies and multitudinous pieces of hardware ‘stripped down’.

“You wrote a novel, I gave it’s tune.”

On stage they talk and banter between each other and the audience in good nature, telling a story about a man called Bear and the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” I couldn’t tell you much more than that through the accent and mispronunciations, but how well do you get by in Danish? Lines from songs free themselves from their constraints and hurl themselves at me, lodging in my temporal lobe. They stayed there safe, until now when they spill across my page, headlining and bookending these words.

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“I know we didn’t kiss”

They are many gigantic shades of joy and gorgeousness. They fill the room from floor to ceiling with music. Explosive, expansive music that excites you. Ethereal, angelic sounds that stay just on the right side of “soundscapes”. A solid mass of sound that will crush you, press you down, seep into you through your pores. It hurts.

Seeing this band live hurts. But in the good way.

Efterklang is the danish word for remembrance and reverberation, the album helped solidify that fact, the live experience makes the name ever more apt.

Categories ,aphew twin, ,brighton, ,Cocteau Twins, ,efterklang, ,gig, ,live, ,low, ,nancy elizabeth, ,review, ,sigur ros

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