…parce que je ne sais pas mes chers

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 I am now in NW Spain to get better at Spanish and breaking my selfie ban. The skirt cost five euros on sale at Zara which – aside from surviving absinthe – is my biggest achievement of the year so far.

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Here’s the first bit of graffiti I found in Spain, on the back of the toilet door in the bus station. After no sleep for a full twenty four hours it seemed intensely poetic. “We’re the Eiffel Tower lit up on the 14th of February”. Oh, it was a little piece of Paris, I thought, as I finally got to have a wee after my near three-hour coach journey. Alas, it turned out to be a lyric from a song by some sub-Jonas Brothers Spanish boyband called Melocos (and here I was thinking it was a 17th century poet). Will be interesting to see what other musical offerings I can find out here, preferably not scrawled in the bog.

Anyhow, here’s what I did in the latter part of 2013 whilst living in Montmartre/Pigalle and finding out about life under various guises (student, journo, translator , professional hide and seek champion, actual twenty-one year old human being etc).

 Rock En Seine Festival. SEEN TRENT REZNOR LIVE ☑

Phoenix were amazing, although on home turf in France I suppose the crazy reaction was no surprise. They are France’s great indie hope and Bankrupt was amongst the best releases of the year. Likewise Laura Mvula, although she didn’t draw a large crowd :(

 MaMa Apero soiree

 Made In Chelsea s6 preview among other telly bits for The Guardian

 SPECTOR live review and Le Trianon venue guide (coming soon) for my friends at Gigs In Paris

 Benjamin Clementine  singles and new one from Sivu x Marika Hackman for The Line of Best Fit. Also contributed to the Best Fit end of the year rundown. 

 Bought my fave albums of the year (Shulamith by Poliça and Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze) from a great record store called Balades Sonores in Paris’ 9th arrondissement – will 2014 be the year I properly get into vinyl?! Started shopping in a little vintage store with great music which made me appreciate the Stones more.

 Gained an obsession with bullet points and Boursin, and went to Disneyland where I realised that the golden age of Disney is definitely over.

- GIGS:

 

 Jake Bugg at L’Olympia, Paris, 21/11/13

I walk past an Elton John poster on our way into the Olympia. Now there’s an artist you can rely on to still be standing! (shitty pun very much intended) As for Jake Bugg…in ten years time will he just morph into a morose version of Frank Turner? Or will he age backwards, headlining Glastonbury 2024 as a five year old child? Whilst I jest, so much of THE BUGG FACTOR comes from his age (19). Weirdly, the French promoters have decided to almost fetishise this – three days after the release of his second album they’ve billed him as a “British Justin Bieber”, which as well as being hilariously inaccurate is quite offensive to pauvre Jake who is rather established in his own right. Once he starts playing, however, his age just isn’t relevant. A few things get a little loss with a French crowd, notably new track “Two Fingers”, which historically wasn’t really the Gaellic insult of choice. The crowd here flick their peace signs at Jake like wannabe harijuku girls in accidentally benign fashion.

Shangri La, that aforementioned second album, means lots of new material, with lead single “Lightening Bolt” getting a great reaction. Ultimately though it’s tracks from his debut album like “I Can Taste It” that get the best reception. Has he already peaked? Unlikely, but if he wants to hang onto fans the media and PR machine which surrounds him should start focusing on his pitch-perfect voice and quality songwriting, not the fact that he would definitely get ID-ed buying vodka at Sainsbury’s.

 Suede at La Cigale, Paris, 11/11/13 (part of Les Inrockuptibles Fest).

Ever drunk slightly warm Heineken in a room full of people double your age? When the room in question is La Cigale and Paris-loving Britpop pioneers Suede are playing and the cups have Debbie Harry’s face on them it’s quite enjoyable. Temples are support, not that their Seventies-inspired look/sound is given much attention. (Toy, moody band du jour and recently hyped on BBC 6 music by Brett Anderson himself, would have possibly been a better choice).

Suede kick off with Still Life from Dog Star Man – it’s weird hearing it without the strings but poignant nonetheless. Next up are two tracks from 2013 ‘comeback’  Bloodsports: Barriers and It Starts and Ends with You. Still unmistakably Suede, but nicely matured like good cheese or wine or Brett himself, who has the same magnetic quality but a little more wisened. Trash, from my favourite Suede album – Coming Up – is riotous as ever, the crowd joining a sweaty Bretty for anthemic chanting on the chorus. Animal Nitrate is next. This song encapsulates Suede – the band, the brand – at that crucial moment where everything grew from in 1993. It’s as dark and ambiguous as it must have been at time (I’m not too sure however, being in the new wave of Suede fans and having been born in 1992).

They dash from the old – We Are The Pigs – straight back to the new, but nothing ever feels jarring or outdated. The Drowners – one of my favourite Suede songs from their debut feels so powerful and hopeless, with Brett ensconced by fans in a rather surreal scene (see below) yet also detached from everything around him.

Back to the future for more Bloodsports before a few classics that no quality Suede set would be without: So Young and Beautiful Ones. The latter is my all-time Suede fave track and singing along, wildly off key, was the highlight of the night. A little encore ending in acoustic mode rounds off an amazing set from a band who somehow are both effortlessly nostalgic and always, erm, In Fashion.

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HJD

Parisian hello

 

Photo on 01-06-2013 at 23.14

STUFF IVE WRITTEN SINCE I LAST POSTED HERE APPROX 1,000,000 YEARS AGO:

- I now write telly previews for Saturday’s Guardian Guide which are neatly organised over here.

…I think the last time I posted was between two very interesting (by that I mean interesting to write but yes, also hopefully to read!) Guardian pieces which I wrote on Made In Chelsea and My Mad Fat Diary.

- I have reviewed a few gigs for The Fly in the past few months. Although I have the world’s worst memory I think these were Everything Everything at Newcastle O2 Academy, Loom at Ku Bar in Stockton On Tees (magazine) and Maximo Park at Newcastle Cluny.

- I reviewed the new Icky Blossoms one for Zero Core, Jen Long’s zine.

- My novel still hasn’t happened.

- With no more uni for 18 months, I’ve resurrected my Tumblr. Get ready for irritating links of cats morphing into croissants 500 times a day. And more blogs here.

It’s not Madchester but…

Dutch Uncles played Shacklewell Arms on the 8th Jan, marking the release of their third record.

Do they sound like Hot Chip on ‘Out of Touch In The Wild’? Perhaps. But who doesn’t want to be in a band that sounds like a young, sparky Hot Chip/Field Music hybrid? Along with Everything Everything, Delphic + Egyptian Hip Hop, Duncles are putting a certain type of Mancunian music in the spotlight. With the exception of EE, these acts are from MARPLE which is very easily misspelled as MAPLE (syrup, leaf) but is in fact a town in Greater Manchester which has a special section of it’s Wikipedia entry dedicated to it’s Scout hut. A small-town existence is a bonus in many ways – Arcade Fire had to resort to an abandoned church to reach the sublime.

In a live setting they’re not afraid of messing around with their vocals, improvising xylophone bars on “Fester” or, erm, restarting songs altogether. Theirs is a brand of electro that is cleverly formulated but organic and easily tampered with.

Were third albums supposed to be this fun? Does the Shacklewell embue some kind of greatness in acts that perform hear? Probably not, but I like this face of Manchester regardless. It’s sensitive yet cool, unpretentious but definitely complex*, tighter than their previous releases, less guitar-driven but if we wanted that wouldn’t we just listen to a rock band proper?!

In a post-Wu Lyf world we need all the North West talent we can get – yet another reason to jig, jive and jump along to Duncles. They might be out in the wild, but they’re definitely not out of touch with the rest of us.

*I’m defining pretentious here as needlessly arsey/Klaxons part 2. Whilst Duncles do have tracks called “Zug Zwang” and “Phaedra”, they are yet to release an album on VHS or sample Jermaine Jackson.

December 2012 playlist

AHsgjegfjhkeahenbaf! my first ever blog as a twenty year old.

Extremely scary/exciting times. I can’t post on time so apologies about that…my hands are usually red and freezing since I lost yet another pair of gloves.

Mundanity aside, since my last blog I’ve been listening to SO much music, ungodly amounts for someone who doesn’t even carry an iPod around anymore…and written a few cultural bits and bobs (this for The Guardian on Cuckoo, this on Womens Hour (radio show, not the band), again for The Guardian and also live music reviews for The Fly (Frank Turner at the O2 Academy in Newcastle) and Hooded Fang at The Cluny in Newcastle for NME!! (should scan this in soon)). Now all I need to do is write a list of my top tracks of 2012 …but before then…

I’ve stopped writing essays/reading Rookie for five minutes and opened my diary. This is my diary…I made it myself:

 

Inside you’ll find: workyperky, a list of potential train times for going home to London (picking.the.trains.that.don’t.stop.too.lazy.to.move), the spanish word for bruise, some pictures of slugs I drew in a café with the worst service ever (40 minutes for a coffee…jog on…no wait I’ll just stay and draw slugs in a passive-agressive fashion) and some notes on the new + nearly new music I’ve been listening to lately. If you want more new music I recommend the newly-launched new music blog http://thisbandthatband.tumblr.com/, Robbie over at  http://theflashpod.tumblr.com/ and of course BBC 6 Music on the radio… anyhow, here are the bits I’ve copied out of my diary:

Turnpike Glow - why.isn’t.it.summer.2013.already.

China Rats – this safe but punchy (yeah, I’m not sure how that works either)  foursome sound like they drink K Cider out of Cath Kidston mugs. In other words, incredible. Fellow Leeds boys The Sunshine Underground seem an obvious reference point.

PINS- another fourpiece. They like strobes. They like fringes. They like pillow fights. They shop at River Island for checked pants and ask boys on street corners for filters. PINS are the sort of band I’ve been waiting for an invitation to join since I found myself watching Girls and eating chinese takeaways on a regular basis. Building up an underground following, 2012 saw the release of the Manchester girls’ first EP – ‘LUVU4LYF’ – on Bella Union. A dark and rousing mix of abstract noise and punk riffs, its perfect for moments of emotional crisis or, erm, long bus journeys. File besides: The Kills, Siouxie and The Banshees circa Israel.

Allah Las – The high production values and excessive ‘ahs’ are self aware nods to  ritual reinterpretation and their self-titled debut is a pleasure to listen to…but will enough listeners persevere with three minute chunks of the 70s that sound like they should be on your dad’s iTunes wishlist? If you can deal with Alabama Shakes and have a Magic Numbers CD hiding in a drawer somewhere then you’ll probably find yourself whistling rather than gritting your teeth.

OLD REVIEWS

‘cos everyone loves an old review that’s been sitting in the extension of my diary (read: Gmail drafts folder) for a few months. Plus Alunageorge are finally getting exposure if the BBC Sound Of polls still have any relevance…

Alunageorge – Put Up Your Hands (released Jul 2012)
Welcome to 2040. A cryogenic Bird and The Bee have been defrosted in Blighty, and pumped full of Pro Plus, Serato and Janet Jackson’s Number Ones. Oh wait, it’s just the new one from Alunageorge. Wholesome r’n’b grooves from George. Sugar-sweet vocals courtesy of Aluna. Even though the most salient point of the song is raising your hands à la Fedde Le Grand, Fat Man Scoop and, erm, S Club, this futureproof slice of garage-pop is achingly cool. For fans of Disclosure, (ironic) snapbacks and Nandos.
Cheatahs – The Swan Track Review Oct 2012
Two parts painfully constructed nineties vibe to one part sub-Pavement bassline equals something catchy…but unfortunately for Cheatahs the familiar quickly becomes the predictable. Why frontman Nathan Hewitt ignored his calling as an Elliott Smith-influenced strummer (Cheatahs started off as a lo-fi one-man project) to make such mediocre music is anyone’s guess, but now that he’s touring the UK with The Cribs  I hope he enjoys eating Skips with the Jarmans in a layby off the M4.
Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Album Review Oct 2012
The electronica has been turned up to 11, but even a romance with Skrillex didn’t jumpstart Ellie G’s career as a full-on dubstep artist. She reprises the folksy approach she took on “Your Song” for the title track amongst others, but for the most part this is rejected in favour of a polite brand of bassy, dark and tumultuous electropop. Her timorous lyricism about love spreading like fire through her veins is drowned out by complex synths on “Don’t Say a Word”. Likewise “Figure 8″ is ruined by prosaic production…yet it seems that juxtaposing overdone and half-baked was the idea here. For every overly nasal forte into clubland there’s another forgettable chart-orientated Goulding classic, destined for a BBC 1 Christmas ident. Even appearances from Tinie Tempah and Calvin Harris can’t make this album into something special…it lacks definable soul for the most part, and pointless vocal meandering gets repetitive. Unfortunately, this messy mix makes occasionally profound ballads (“JOY”, “Dead In The Water”) feel turgid, and perfect pop gems (“Ritual”) calculatingly formulaic. Perhaps a dubstep career would help Goulding re-focus and work out exactly what message she’s conveying to her fans…”Anything Could Happen” she sings on the track of the same name…but, erm, does anything actually happen at all?
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H
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Resolutions/Soundwave

So I’ve neglected the  blogosphere for a while now…but I am back and ready to rumble. I’ve been away and now I’m back studying and watching pretty much everything I can record on the Sky box…as well as looking for exciting new projects.

The last four years of blogging have been so incredible and I’m not going anywhere, and from now on please expect to see me posting on the 1st of the month. If you would like to contact me and my email doesn’t get locked again (that is a story for a technology blog/rant…) then please drop me a message at hannah AT hannahjdavies . com OR tweet me: @hannahjdavies.

I’m listening to a lot of new, as-of-yet unreleased music as well as the old (Francoise Hardy, random New Order B-sides like the one my friend found in Oxfam, etc) and I want to gather it all together so expect a drop in the next few weeks…like this amazing song from Jake Bugg (the truly talented Generation Z Bob Dylan who you’re equally likely to hear on BBC 6 Music as, erm, Hollyoaks). It’s been around for a bit but it remains fresh with every listen.

Excellente. Also, here and here is some stuff I’ve done for The Guardian lately…

Soundwave Croatia Review

Here’s a review of Soundwave…whilst slightly overdue, I have been meaning to post this for a while and now that it’s rainy and I can FINALLY get into my email account I think it might be the panacea to winter and Bovril. It was the friendliest festival ever (ever).


Soundwave Croatia takes place by a beautiful, untouched stretch of coastline to rival its Greek neighbours. The Garden in the seaside town of Tisno plays host to tons of different events on the festival calendar, and this self-contained campsite with a restaurant, shop, private beach,  showerblocks and loos (as well as apartments for rent) is a cost-effective alternative to UK festivals. We arrive at the campsite and instantly realise it was worth it. My friend Cathryn and I chill out in the sunshine for 48 hours before the festivities begin; on Wednesday we sit around reading books and eating baguettes, and on Thursday we actually hear some music (the festival ‘proper’ is Friday to Sunday).  

Ewan Hoozami brings his Bristolian brand of heavy beats to the mainstage at 6pm. The most amazing thing about this festival is that it’s not a typical “Brits abroad” affair. Yes, pretty much everyone we meet is from London, but Hoozami’s music is appreciated. Beautiful bass and dubstep dips are allowed to seep through the cool evening breeze without accompanying jeers/laddish behaviour. “Lazy Days” is an infectious indie-electronic slice of summer with the repeated refrain of “living in a hazy daze, I just can’t stop loving these lazy days” which surely reflects the docile crowd sprawled out around the mainstage, some on bales of hay, others further away on beanbags. The second amazing thing about this festival is that there is no separation between the mainstage and the campsite. Not up for a twenty-minute trek to get back to your sleeping bag? Perfect – you can stagger back from the bar (just be careful not to trip over any massive rocks…Tisno does have a touch of Bedrock about it…)

Mikey J DJs on the beach stage – a dancefloor and multiple lighting rigs perched by the sea like a shipwrecked club. He’s skilful, and we’re soon dancing to a remix of Ghost Town by The Specials for what won’t be the last time that week. It’s novel to be out by the sea, now dappled with pink and purple shapes from the lights. I’ve never seen so many high quality moving heads and high end showgun 45s at such a small festival! It’s practically Ministry out here! We stay for another, more funky DJ (Rich Reason) before catching a relatively early night. (n.b.: I’ve become a lighting nerd this summer and even went to the PLASA trade show…)

 

Friday

Natural Curriculum play on the mainstage just after 1pm. The quick-tongued Mancunian hip hop crew sample jazz loops and cult telly (The Twilight Zone), rapping about daytime TV and rebellion side by side. They’re followed by the mellow musings of Laura J Martin; I lie sprawled out on a wall with a book, the sound of her fragile vocals and floaty melodies an angelic partner to the sea breeze and pretentious reading. There are so few people here (3,000) that everything feels very intimate…I later befriend someone who comments on my afternoon reading. Elsewhere, it would be creepy. Here, you’re in a revolving door of calm.

The evening sees Ghostpoet take to the mainstage. Although he’s a headliner there’s a sense of equality between all of the acts which is rare for festivals. I won’t lie, his songs do sound better when they’re slowed down recordings, but he gave a stellar performance full of energy on songs like “Survive It”. We also catch Kidkanevil, an exciting DJ/producer and the coolest person ever to have the moniker Gerald (copy and paste “808BoOoOoOmFiyaNight” and check it out) and DJ Yoda has people going mental like Charlie Sheen to high-energy tracks such as, erm, “Charlie Sheen”. It’s worth the packed, potentially very dangerous coach journey to make it to the official festival club, an open-air affair named Barbarellas. Originally built in the 70s but now refurbished, this is the perfect place to listen to Snoop, Biggie and Kanye on a killer soundsystem. We even get free entry as guests to Soundwave, helping us save money for the pizzas in the restaurant which turn out to be amazing and not too expensive. Perhaps I’ll start a pizza blog and write about them there. Forget surviving on bread and Cheerios at other, unnamed European festivals…

 

Saturday

 There’s no better feeling than waking up clammy and worn out in a black tent which has absorbed hours of heat and sunlight! Weirdly, we don’t really care. That’s how chilled out it is at Soundwave! We spend the morning and early afternoon recovering before having a jazz-themed afternoon with the Renegade Brass Band and Riot Jazz (more on them coming up later in this post). There seems to be a synergy between funky brass instruments and sunshine and Renegade even cover “Let Me Clear My Throat”. When I say Sound…you say WAVE! Wah Wah 45s label boss Scrimshire (plus band) bring even more soul to proceedings – check out brooding, Portishead-esque track “Afar” from his latest EP “The Hollow”. We take a few hours out to swim at aforesaid private beach. 

Fink play in the evening – the eponymous singer and his band are exciting, kind of like a British Smashing Pumpkins but super easy to listen to. They play brooding “Blueberry Pancakes” as well as more recent releases from recent EP “Perfect Darkness” and I actually enjoy sitting on a wall for the first time in my life. We make friends with some Dutch guys who’ve brought a miniature rabbit to the festival called Rex (it’s weird but…novel…they’ve also had temporary tattoos in homage to their speckled friend…) and we also catch DJ Kentaro and Eliphino.

Kentaro’s on top form; his transitions are exciting, he loops and samples and his scratching is projected onto a big screen behind him, which is a better sight than his (quite lame) video which looks like it was made in MS Paint. Some DJs have a tendency to lose touch with crowds, slumping into an arrogant pose, whereas he waves and seems to be genuinely enjoying the chance to tempt the crowd with new and old samples, from Caspa and Rusko to 80s hip hop. Eliphino of “More Than Me” fame plays the Pier Stage at 1am (it took us hours to get a definitive answer as to pronunciation: it’s elli-fee-no), bringing old skool garage right up to date. 

Soundwave helped me to broaden my horizons and discover nu-jazz too, although I got overly excited whenever I did actually recognise EDM or hip hop tunes (huge thanks to the beach stage DJs for playing RJD2′s “Ghostwriter” as I know that one fairly well). 

Sunday 

 We chill out for hours and have a brilliant time in Tisno (I know, I know, I sound like a tourism advert now) before heading to a boat party with Riot Jazz for the entire evening!   They’re pretty much the official festival band and have played for a few years on the trot (they even did a little gig in the sea!)

Now they’re headlining a boat party! There’s so much sax as well as classic Stevie Wonder and Whitney choons drifting out across the Adriatic sea. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, the toilet queue is a nightmare and you have to buy specific coupons depending on what drinks you’re getting at the bar but it’s really fun and everyone is up on their feet. A passing group of ‘lads’ on a speedboat moon us (how very 90s) which causes a flurry of attention but soon people are back to enjoying the festivities without the pale bottoms of Britannia as a backdrop.

We even decipher (e.g.: get told by someone else) what Riot Jazz have been singing all week…it turns out to be “got a sousamaphone, sousamaphone, and that’s why the girls won’t leave me alone” (NOT “got a shoe in my phone” as we had thought).

We arrive back on dry land to the sound of Fairground Attraction’s classic “(It’s Got To Be) Perfect” (in a meta twist the video for this song takes place on a boat) in time for headliners De La Soul, who are so legendary that we are all a little in awe of their retro cool. I even end up on someone’s shoulders pointing gun fingers each and every way like a broken missile. I was reminded of Public Enemy’s performance at Bestival last year in that De La Soul hark back to a time before autotune and pointless lyrics made up a vast part of hip hop. “Ooooh” and “Me, Myself and I” are highlights, the grooves transcending all memory of overproduced crap. 

All in all, Soundwave 2012 was a brilliant experience – a truly hassle-free festival in gorgeous surroundings where the focus was on quality music. The crowd were up for a laugh, the “hangover heaven” smoothies on offer were a cure for more than just the mornings and I felt sad the moment we walked into Split airport and surveyed the hundreds of brown bread rolls on offer. Bye bye paradise…just hoping i’ll see you again next year! There’s a reunion in November  for all lucky people near London…

Images – courtesy of Dan Medhurst 

Jamaican jubilation, tricky films, Aaliyah’s legacy + more

Hello all!

Ahh I’m back after a fantastic week in Croatia and then trying to recover from it all. I was covering Soundwave for my friends over at Live, will be linking to that as soon as it is out… *inserts amazing picture to fight off British humidity and rain*

It was great to come back to the UK in time for the Olympics although unfortunately I didn’t make it to any events in person. I did go down to the Holland Heineken House for MTV Sticky which was cool though, more to follow…

ANYHOW, now over to some very important Jamaican business!! Marlow’s Mellow Mood relaxation drink (sort of the opposite of an energy drink and gosh it’s so tasty, especially the green tea and honey variety, not an endorsement but a true testimonial!!) has come to the UK, and they kindly sponsored a fantastic regeneration event on 29th July at Bob Marley Way. Artists new (Devlin, Lady Leshurr, Maverick Sabre and up and coming sonsgtress Aruba Red) and old (Soul II Soul) performed, there were some scantily clad dancers with super cool feather headdresses and I got to eat curry goat for the first time in months! Win! It was a great day despite heavy rain.

Being Jamaican (or half haha) has never been cooler thanks to the recent Olympic triumphs of Bolt, Blake et al. and 50 years of independence. Next weekend there’s going to be another event at Brick Lane’s Vibe Bar called the “Relaxation Generation Mini-Festival” which looks awesome and tickets in advance are just a fiver; unfortunately I’ll be away in the British countryside otherwise I’d be right there…there are live DJs all day until 3am and they have all kinds of artists from Dynamite MC (jungle to hip hop) to Natty (roots and reggae artist with excellent dreads) to legendary MC Rodney P. Anyway, more info is here!

At the Marley Way event I met Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella who was in attendance along with brother Julian. She is a jack of all trades but, as is so rare she is also a master of them, too. She not only sings (duh!), but also manages the family charity (who knew that the Marley family owned a charity with the iconic name 1Love) and does heaps more including designing those very fetching kits which the aforementioned Jamaican athletes wore at the London games. She even wrote a children’s book… Here is my interview with her (the most difficult thing to transcribe ever thanks to”Jammin” being blared out behind us):

Hannah J Davies: You used to be in the [80s and 90s band] Melody Makers with your brothers and sisters…when will we be hearing more from you and them?

Cedella Marley: Hopefully next year we’ll do some type of reunion.

HJD: Do you miss the era when that was your main focus now that you’re doing a lot of other things

CM: No, not really, I mean I have three kids now so having time to spend with them is something I cherish…but its time for me to get back on the road!

HJD: Are they getting a bit older now?

CM: *Puts on a Jamaican accent* yeah mon! They can babysit each other…

HJD: Would you like it if they followed you, their famous grandfather and the rest of the family into the music business?

CM: I would love for my kids to be doctors and lawyers, but if they get into music that’s good…but I’ve always reminded them that no matter what, always have a back-up plan. The business has changed, it’s the not the same. You really don’t have to have talent to be a number one artist, so always have a back-up plan.

HJD: Who on the music scene now do you think is really talented, who isn’t just autotuned?

CM: That girl from over here [London], Adele…I like her

HJD: Do you think you could do a collaboration with her?

CM: Oh, definitely! I could do something really wicked with her.

HJD: Adele if you’re reading this… you also run the Tuff Gong record label as well, what’s an average day running that like?

CM: It has to do a lot with distribution, we’re not the kind of the company that signs artists simply because like I said the business has changed, you don’t need a record company anymore to become a great artist. You can put out your own record on iTunes and make a lot more money, so we’re really on the distribution end. It’s hectic but its good….

HJD: So its not kind of at the front, the a&r

CM: no, I gave that up…especially with our [reggae] music its just harder to develop young artists because a number 1 single and they get an ego. And I cant handle egos….and its like *makes disgusted noise*…it doesn’t deserve my time

HJD: Did you discover anybody in the past?

CM: I had this one really cool artist whose name was Ivan, and I think he went on to tour with The Wailers for a while, so we have some really cool talent out there.

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I went home and, weirdly enough, my mum was playing a Bob Marley CD. He really is an icon and despite my lack of knowledge on his life (am yet to watch the Kevin Macdonald documentary released earlier this year), the event left me intrigued…and assured that his legacy is in the right hands*.

*for more on less fitting legacies, read on…

Books: constantly being stretched beyond their screen potential?

        The film industry: a fanfare of artistic vision and dirty tricks, hidden behind a Spielberg-shaped, Black Orchid-scented miasma. Also responsible for sexing up its bookish cousin, the novel.

From Holmes to Bond to Gatsby to Holmes again to erm, Potter, novels have provided cinema with exciting source material for decades, however it seems of late that the film industry has manipulated this bond to create a new technique for parting punters from their pounds. Forget sequels, prequels, remakes (that includes foreign ones), series reboots and re-releases. Forget trying to get blood out of the (philosopher’s) stone with more Harry Potter movies (there were seven books after all, eight seems just about reasonable…), there’s a new cinematic trend: splitting-books-into-so-many-films-you-lose-count (SBISMFYLC)

Twilight: Breaking Dawn (756 pages) is a perfect case in point. It seems logical on the face of it; part one of the film version due for release in November is 117 minutes long. Here are some unscientific calculations: assuming the second part is 117 minutes too, we now have 234 minutes to cover this near 800 page book…except that movie scripts are about 250 pages each. Double this and we now have 500 pages of script. 234 divided by 500 gives us approximately 0.5 minutes per page. Luckily this is the perfect amount of screentime needed for 500 pages of script…it just doesn’t explain why we needed two lots of 250 in the first place.
In the world of SBISMFYLC, however, slow-moving plots, K-Stew’s awkward eye rolling, sexual tension that extends off-screen and an oh-so-current soundtrack combine to make a second part feasible. 2010’s Eclipse had tunes from Cee-Lo and Vampire Weekend, so expect minutes to be whiled away with wolf pack v vampire battles to the sound of the upcoming Ashanti album.

Oh Kristen, you shouldn’t have cheated on Rob…your awkward moments are about to get SO much longer thanks to a cheap cinematic trick

The Hobbit is probably a more serious case of SBISMFYLC, however. Lord of The Rings was a trilogy because there was enough material to make three standalone films in that tome. The Hobbit, conversely, is less complex and hardly resembles a doorstop at just over 300 pages. How will it fare as three separate outings? Will there be an entire, string-laden montage devoted to Bilbo bringing cakes and ale and chicken up from his larder? The trailer looks stunning but the point remains…do we really need a Tolkien-themed case of SBISMFYLC? Ditto the final Hunger Games film, Mockingjay, which will be split into two films in 2014 and 2015. Imagine that…what would, for example Shawshank, have been if  Andy (Tim Robbins) had been tooled with a toothpick instead of a rock hammer for 60 minutes of literal tunnel vision? Will we ever return to the days of one instalment wonders, or have excessive book adaptations lost their dignity as they bolster Hollywood’s coffers?

A fan’s love won’t take care of Aaliyah’s legacy

A 14 year old can fall in love with the entrancing music of a the beautiful singer uplit by the bright bulbs of celebdom.

Like many artists before her, Aaliyah will release her next album from beyond the grave. The r’n’b singer, who died in 2001 left behind unreleased material, which will form a posthumous album. Drake, a man who never met Aaliyah when she was alive, has been named as the producer. It’s such a shame in my opinion that the Blackground record label (founded by Aaliyah’s uncle) have recruited Drake over her friends and collaborators Missy Elliott and Timbaland. These are the people along with her immediate family who have the insight to make the right decisions without focusing on the PR aspect of any future release.

Here’s the 411 on Drake’s strange ‘relationship’with Aaliyah: he sampled her music on many occasions including his new track ‘Enough Said’; he has a picture of her on an earpiece he wears for concerts and has tattoos dedicated to her – including a portrait of her – as well as mentioning her in as many interviews as possible.

He is evidently infatuated, and wrote this letter to the singer a few years back which I found on the NME website:

Dear Dana (using her middle name rather than addressing her as Aaliyah seems to imply closeness)

I’ve never lost a parent, a friend, or a lover but I will never forget this day for the rest of my life. I remember getting the news that you had passed and it connected with my heart like a clean shot from Muhammad Ali. I was crushed. Not only was I one of your biggest fans but I was truly in love with you. I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you. I am pained that we will never get to connect now that music ended up being my career path. But you should know, we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world. I hope I make the right life choices so I can end up in heaven where I know you rest your head. I’ll continue to make music in your honor until the day we finally meet. Dinner’s on me!

Love you always and forever,

Drake

Personally, having read this saccharine address, I think Drake should leave her legacy to those who knew her. Using her music on [aforementioned new song] ‘Enough Said’ on which he slags off Chris Brown, swears and makes references to such profound topics as, erm, being rich and Mario Ballotelli seems disrespectful and shallow. Aaliyah didn’t live in 2012, she didn’t live to see the advent of autotune or even the fruition of online music. She wasn’t a Youtube pioneer or someone discovered on MySpace; she didn’t live to see the age of online beef disseminated via Twitter or kids listening to her music on iPods or even iPhones. The world she inhabited wasn’t wholesome, but the relationship between talent and exposure in the music industry has experienced a schism in the intervening time. Her voice and her talent were an oasis of calm, but if she was discovered today would Aaliyah’s music really be allowed to retain its identity or would she be simply writhing around a stage?
Luckily it seems that there is family opposition to this release – enter stage left the singer’s brother Rashad, who posted on her Facebook fanpage to report that ‎”there is no official album being released and supported by the Haughton family”.

There are also rumours on the Facebook page of a biopic (again, an unofficial project which Rashad is opposed to) – it seems that everyone thinks they know what’s best for the late singer.

Drake’s female collaborators normally lack class

Overall, the posthumous material doesn’t need the ego of this noughties fanboy to succeed…although maybe I’ve been too quick to berate him. After all, we all have idols. The difference is that maybe being a celebrity has made Drake feel as though he could intrude into someone’s history to feel connected to them; it’s forced, insalubrious, shallow. It’s the 15 year old mourning the girl off the stereo with friends at school who loved her too or, as would happen if Aaliyah had died in 2012, sending messages into the online ether. Notes about how “crushed” they feel, about how much they “loved” her, pledges and pleas which begin with that same repeated “I” which binds together these fans like a parallel family. The online Winehouse troupe or the grieving Jackson contingent numbering into the millions.

To incite the Xzibit meme, “yo dawg, I know how much you like emotion, so I put an emotion in your emotion so you can emotion whilst you emotion”. If you think this meme is inappropriate in this context, then perhaps I can persuade you to rethink “celeb grief”.

It’s an accessible way of remembering the brevity of life…it won’t ever be the same as a real message from a real friend, it will be loaded with different feelings and all of those simple misinterpretations and theories that fans can hold onto. Hence the popularity of conspiracy theories. As a fan of Elliott Smith I have come across so many bloggers and Tweeters claiming to have proof that he was murdered by his girlfriend Jennifer Chiba; it’s a fantasy propagated by the same people who probably jumped on the Courtney killed Kurt bandwagon, too. It’s comforting, it’s effortless civilian justice made up of gifs and what ifs and fingerpointing and shrines.

“Tim[berland] and I carry Aaliyah with us everyday, like so many of the people who love her. She will always live in our hearts. We have nothing but love and respect for her memory and for her loved ones left behind still grieving her loss. They are always in our prayers.” – that quote comes courtesy of Missy Elliott. Without her or Timberland a teenage Aubrey Graham quite possibly would never have come across Aaliyah Houghton and the album which they wrote and produced for her, “One In A Million”.

The final word goes to US author and journalist Michael Joseph-Gross, who once said that “fandom is less like being in love than like being in love with love.” Whatever Drake’s feelings and intentions, whether he is using Aaliyah as collateral, leverage, a spiritual guide or a marketing tactic…his strange plea of “always and forever” is deluded in the here and now.

HJ

June/July 2012 :)

Woo here it is!! I have been coughing and sneezing my way through the past few weeks, but I have some amazing memories blogging for Cornetto at the Isle of MTV Malta Special so all is kind of balanced, plus I’m back at home in London for the summer which is exciting.

Musical magical musings from Malta and too much alliteration as always

MTV & Cornetto teamed up for the second year running to put on a massive concert in Il Fossos Square in the capital, Valeta, (the local taxi driver who picked my friend Josephine and I up from the airport looked at me blankly as I said the name of the square – one thing that Lonely Planet will never tell you is that locals simply call it “Fossos”). I went to blog, and to soak up the Vitamin D.

Here’s our hotel, which was lovely but really, really near Fossos:

From our balcony where I watched France 24 and ate apples whilst staring out at the beautiful waterfront, I could hear every single note of the soundchecks!! About four hours after arriving in the beautiful, boiling Mediterranean I was being whisked away to interview Will.i.am. I’d hoped for a bit more time to ask him some questions on his future musical plans, his life, his cool jackets etc. but I only had about two/three minutes. They were some of the longest few minutes of my life however; I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed someone so well known, plus MTV News filmed it. Up to now I’ve only done a teeny bit of presenting, but it’s definitely something I’d love to do more of in the future :) Here we are chilling on the balcony of his incredible hotel suite:

The video is on the Cornetto Facebook page under the ‘Summer of Music’ tab!

That evening, we had dinner with the PR peeps and Cornetto crew, plus my Italian counterparts who had come to blog – Giuliana and Denis from Style.it and Federica (Elle.it).  I had sushi for the first time in months, maybe a year, which was nice, and we got to see Malta at night. Without sounding like an infomercial from Malta’s tourism board it really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Ageing population plus ancient attractions like the cathedral and Fossos…it doesn’t exactly sound like a typical teen hangout! That’s why I was so surprised to find the following evening that there are actually LOADS of teens in Malta (or perhaps the entire teen population were just all at Isle of MTV haha). On Tuesday 26th June there were crowds everywhere in the previously peaceful streets surrounding Fossos, where a huge stage had been constructed. As my photo shows, there were thousands of people in the square when things started at around 7…wish we had more free events like this in the UK…

We had an incredible view of proceedings from the VIP viewing platform with its red carpet…it also had an open bar (two best words in the English language right there!).

Eva Simons defied gravity/the Maltese wind to perform with her trademark mohawk standing to attention. She kicked off the action wearing a tartan skirt; this along with Kourtney Kardashian’s recent decision to name her daughter Penelope Scotland, Andy Murray’s journey to the Wimbledon final and the Caledonian party at the end of the last season of Made In Chelsea mean I should probably dig out my own well-loved tartan skirts…

Back to Malta, where Eva absolutely killed it. She also dueted on “This Is Love” with Will.i.am – it’s always nice to see a duet recreated properly rather than the awkward backing track technique (see: Professor Green stumbling through “Just Be Good To Green” without Lily Allen at last year’s Benicassim/any other festival). Her performance came after some weird warm up action from Maltese DJ Pierre Cordina (or, as Josephine quipped, was it Jason Statham? You can be the judge…)

Nelly Furtado continued the holy quadrinity of big name acts with an incredible set; for a 33 year old (with an 8 year old daughter no less) she looked not a day over 25! Highlights were “I’m Like A Bird”…it never fails to make me smile…and “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)” which is nineties-themed nonsense but so dancy and upbeat.

The brash and inimitable Flo Rida was up next, simultaneously making us move and cringe with his in-your-face, sexually-charged lyrics on hits including “Low” and “Whistle”. He crowd-surfed, handed out roses during “Wild Ones” and waved a gigantic Maltese flag around (what a lovely gesture to all of those old Maltese folk, eh?)

Will.i.am proved that he was the hardest ever…his set featured pyrotechnics, blinding lights, circus performers from chic London hotspot Cirque Du Soir (note to self.: MUST get there sometime soon). He was also joined by Tyler James, one of his mentees on The Voice UK, and showed some skillful beatmatching (Gotye into Guetta??) during his DJ set.

At the VIP afterparty around the corner at another hotel, we managed to stay up all night long, and there was even more free food and drink like at the concert! WIN! I think I might just become a celebrity so that I never have to go to Tesco again.

The pool looks SO gorgeous…I was one of a sober few who refrained form jumping in but I wish I had in hindsight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got a cheeky snap with Eva Simons – she looks incredible for someone who had probably been awake for about 36 hours. This was taken at around 3am I reckon…

In the morning we had an extremely random breakfast from the biggest spread I’d ever seen in a hotel (ricotta? a fry up? exotic fruits? don’t mind if I do…) After a powernap (just kidding, we really did stay awake til the plane journey) it was time to bid a tearful goodbye to gorgeous Malta. Somewhere between 5am and breakfast one of the MTV guys had told me that Malta’s name was derived from the Greek for “honey” – looking out over the golden sunrise I really hoped that this etymological tale was true and not just traveller’s bullshit. I don’t think Lonely Planet has the answer, it’s probably something only the Fossos-dwelling locals would know…

Brainchild Festival, Wokingham

So, I’d barely been home a moment when I decided it would be a good idea to camp in a field in a two-man tent which was most definitely designed with very small people in mind in the middle of nowhere and write very long, sprawling sentences about my experiences. We didn’t even know the location of Brainchild Festival until the 11th hour, and on Google Maps it appeared to be completely isolated; was this in fact some spurious mafia plot? An ironic non-festival-festival like this year’s Glastonbury coverage ? It turned out to be cracking, however – you can read all about it here. 

Other mad festivals headed your way…

-Zoo Project Festival - 14th-1th Sept, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent: The best summer combo since Pimms and lemonade is surely EDM and wild animals. A spinoff of Ibiza’s Zoo Project event, this looks insane.
-Eurostar Traction, Granary Sq, London – 14th Jul: The best of Europe’s musical offerings offer 3,000 guests a chance to celebrate London 2012 without stepping foot in a velodrome (or indeed, on the Eurostar).

Gaggle, Village Underground

Here’s my review of Gaggle’s album launch show last Wednesday in Shoreditch for The Fly. It was one of the weirdest gigs I’ve ever been to, and made Incubus at Brixton Academy a mere few days later look like the height of corporate rock. Gaggle have no rules, no boundaries and no pretences.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves…Gaggle, image from RockFeedback

 GIRLS are gone (as in the band, not women per se)

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Girls. Like LCD Soundsystem before them, they’ve gone before their time. I’ll miss them, although it’s probably better not to carry on with a new singer (they could end up sounding like a Kings Of Leon tribute band). What will C Owens do next?

Now, that I can’t rely on any new Girls tracks, here’s what I am listening to:

- Angel Haze – New York: she’s not Azealia Banks…she’s even ruder.

- Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young: It’s so jaunty yet britpop angsty…I love this Suede-influenced imagining of youth, as opposed to that which Tulisa peddles. Also, watch out for that almost-key change – that was a surprise, right?

http://soundcloud.com/workit/two-wounded-birds-to-be-young

- Cat Power – Ruin: She’s been to a multitude of places as her lyrics confirm…and Chan Marshall has fought her personal demons to bounce back with this slice of Californian-inspired funk with an international spin. Worth a listen if only for her cool pronunciation. Someone’s been listening to Rosetta Stone…

SOUNDWAVE

Crap, Soundwave’s almost here and I don’t have the bikini I’m coveting yet. Can’t wait to head to gorgeous Croatia to cover it for Live Magazine! Roll on boat parties and incredible music from…

h xx

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