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 

Hungry, hungry, sad fandom

(Woo welcome to my blog! As part of a meta twist/late April Fool’s joke I’m going to set the post date to 31st March and we can pretend I blogged on time. Now, prepare to travel back in time).

“Katniss has a fat ass”.

 …”For a starving girl, Katniss had a fat face”.

“Jennifer lawrence is too fat and emotionless to play katnissNot calling her fat but katniss is supposed to be STARVING cmon”.

…”Katniss Everdeen had a fat ass”.

The Hunger Games isn’t the type of film I’d normally get excited about. It wasn’t made twenty/thirty years ago; it doesn’t have any ‘cult’ actors in it (although Jennifer Lawrence was on the cover of last month’s Glamour, woop!); it’s not in a foreign-language; there are no murders, not even an attempted murder. There’s not even a wise but intelligible oldie giving out laboured advice about the correlation between power and great responsibility. There’s too much action, its too long and the idea of kids killing each other is a bit abstract, especially when Lawrence is wearing a fresh coat of mascara every few scenes….but it works. What doesn’t work, however, is using a film where a viewer has to not only suspend their disbelief but also to forget all logic entirely, as ammo for a real world debate about what size young women “should” be. In short, it is essentially what we were all berating Joseph Kony for doing a few weeks ago, plus a bit of Lenny Kravitz sporting gold eyeshadow, minus any common sense, to the power of Lady Gaga and mutiplied by trackerjackers and mockingjays (sorry if I’ve lost you there).

In amongst this mad menagerie, there was still time for a group of fans to poison the Twitter waters with the message that Lawrence was too “big “to play Katniss from poverty-stricken District 12. D’oh! Not once in 142 minutes did I question whether Jennifer Lawrence should be playing Katniss, and even questioning her weight seems to denote too much time spent missing the point. Plus, you’re not meant to get angry and political in the cinema. It’s a fact. (That’s why they sell nachos, sweet popcorn and Fanta. These foods dissolve your brain cells into docile molecules. That’s why we laugh at unfunny commercials from Orange and cry during Katherine Heigl films, it’s all science).

Exhibit A: a fat person. I'm not condoning calling people fat, but this person is not thin, and if she were to play a starving person... then this would be possibly more crass and insensitive than being used as an example of a fat person on someone's blog. It would still, however, be crass and insensitive for someone to Tweet that this person was fat (gottit?).
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games": the awkward moment when you're fat...in a fictional, dystopian universe...

I digress – the problem here seems to lie with fans of the original trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins – a US writer specialising in Young Adult fiction – descending on cinemas to pick holes in the film adaptation. The same people have taken to the internet to spout nonsense which has even extended to racist comments about the casting, as explored in detail here by Bim Adewunmi for The Guardian.

It’s great to see new and exciting literary series’ being developed for tweens and younger teens, especially as the last few years have been, for the most part, a bipartisan contest between Harry Potter and Twilight. I remember in the not-so-distant past picking up enthralling adventure novels like the Wind On Fire trilogy by William Nicholson or Burning Issy by Melvin Burgess and being absorbed into fantasy worlds where superficial conventions about weight or race are often challenged via extended metaphors. In the case of The Hunger Games, I can’t be too sure about it’s original meaning, as I didn’t read the source material. On screen, however, it seemed to show the importance of friendship and loyalty, whilst underlining the dangerously superficial nature of the media and rich sponsors to whom – spoiler alert – Katniss and Peeta must play up their relationship to in order to win support, and ultimately to become victors. Presumably this was the point of the first novel in the series too, and any changes can surely be deemed inevitable – after all, what was the last film adaptation you saw which was identical to the book? With such an exciting story, a cast consisting almost entirely of PYTs and rising stars, and a moral message too, how ironic it is then, that the wishlist of so many morons consisted of a) a whitewashed cast and b) an emaciated lead. The fact that this “mainstream” view panders to society’s most dangerous tropes must be a coincidence.

mar/apr PLAYLIST

Stuff I’ve had on repeat:

Let It Go – Fossil Collective – The story behind the above video? “A tragic ballooning accident separates two lovebirds, and the story follows the male character as he’s stuck on a island trying to build his way to the moon to rescue his love”. Stop-motion animation is rarely so heartstoppingly poignant, matching the chilled yet soul-searching vintage sounds of Leeds duo Fossil Collective. Their upcoming EP (June’s “Let It Go via Dirty Hit) is sure to be the perfect relic.

Suffocation – Heath Remix, Crystal Castles – a dark , dirty companion to 2010’s original track, this remix is aural asphyxiation. Punning words aside, two years without new CC material equals impatient fans.

Come On Be A No-one – The Cribs – No more Johnny Marr…but a new track with vigour and attitude. 70% Buzzcocks, 30% amped-up UK grunge which we always knew the brothers Jarman did best. C.O.B.A.N premiered on Vice’s new music channel Noisey , upping the band’s cool credentials ever further.

Jaan Pehechaan Ho – it’s been on the Heineken ad. It’s been in Ghost World. It’s so cool to listen to whilst wearing harem pants and burning incense and being a rah (just kidding on the last one).

HJ x

ps here’s something I wrote for The Guardian Guide