Tuesday, 26 March 2013

PRINTED WORDS / ICONIC Magazine Issue #10 OUT NOW

The latest issue of ICONIC magazine is amazing and out now.

The current issue is all about Michael Jackson live. 


Among other highlights are my argument for Bad being Michael Jackson's greatest tour, an article on the significance of the 1974 Las Vegas residency the Jackson 5 played, and what else was in the pipeline had Jackson's 2009 This Is It shows gone ahead. All sounds fascinating, doesn't it?

You can buy a copy HERE

Monday, 25 March 2013

DIGITAL WORDS / Highlights of David Bowie is at The V&A

Find the original post for Rock's Backpages HERE


I’ve never been a Bowie-phile, but after visiting the David Bowie is exhibition at the V&A last week it’s difficult not to feel as though such fan status could be on the cards in the near future.
After emerging from a couple of hours spent immersed in the stupendously-curated and presented exhibition (into, what else, but a gift shop where you can immediately purchase your David Bowie pencils, chocolate coins and earrings), it seems that the V&A has gone beyond achieving their objective of putting together an exhibition about “one of the most iconic figures of our time,” but instead lead if not brainwash you into seeing Bowie as the singular most important figure modern popular culture has ever, or will ever, know.
As overblown as it all seemed a day or so later, once removed from the all-encompassing sensory experience David Bowie is affords (you are provided with a headset upon entering and as you move around the exhibit, depending on what item you’re standing in front of, appropriate audio clips play), it’s actually quite refreshing to experience hero-worship on such a grand and uninhibited scale for someone who is still alive.
Sorry to be morbid, but why is it that we’re only allowed to reflect on and appreciate a public figure and their worth once it’s that little too late? Although this exhibition has been artfully timed to coincide with the current Bowie renaissance, it’s encouraging to know that in our disposable 140-character world there is still one pop star out there that has the ability to remain silent for ten years and also to send the world into a positive tizzy.
With over 300 artefacts from Bowie’s archives on display, it’s difficult to appreciate everything on show in just one visit. Plus it was easy to walk or, in our case, be pushed past plenty of items when you’re just one amongst 600 other invited media types who wanted to beat the 47,000 other punters who have already bought their tickets to visit this retrospective. So from what we did get to see, here are relics we found most interesting at David Bowie is:
Footage of David Bowie meeting Andy Warhol – A black and white silent film clip shows a 1971 encounter between the two pop culture mammoths. It looks like a pretty tense and awkward social situation.
Handwritten lyrics – Lyrics scribed by Bowie’s own fair hand include Starman and Oh! You Pretty Things, amongst others. Whether using a scratchy biro or a thick blue felt tip, his handwriting, strangely, never looks the same.
Clown costume worn on Saturday Night Live in 1979 – The oversized monochrome clown outfit Bowie wore for this performance was so restrictive that he had to be carried to the front of the stage by his backing singers. The 1920s avant-garde cabaret style performance David Bowie gave of The Man Who Sold The World, backed by performance artists Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias, plays on a continuous loop alongside the outfit Bowie wore. Having never seen this material before, I stopped to watch it twice.
A used tissue – Are we supposed to be impressed or amused by the fact that a tissue used to blot his lipstick in 1974 has been saved and now put on display by the David Bowie Archive? One man’s trash…
Where Are We Now puppet – This creepy, two-headed little creature is weirdly fascinating. Plus the fact that it sits alongside the silver Natasha Korniloff Pierrot costume worn in the Ashes To Ashes video, shows that it’s a modern prop, not from a golden Bowie era, that can hold its own.
Immersive audio-visual space – By far, the most impressive section of the exhibition is a room shrouded in darkness, lit by huge silk screens showing video projections of David Bowie live performances. You are encouraged to sit and enjoy a truly surround sound and sight experience. It’s also worth hanging around as once the film clips fade out, hidden behind the screens are a number of stage costumes.
David Bowie is takes place at The V&A from 23rd March – 11th August 2013 
Written for Rock's Backpages

Thursday, 14 March 2013

I Like... Rare Michael Jackson Images and Merchandise / Making HIStory Exhibition

On 11th and 12th May 2013 I'll be helping out at a very exciting Michael Jackson event - the Making HIStory Exhibition. 


The event will be made up of an exhibition by photographer Christophe Boulmé, who worked closely with Michael Jackson during the HIStory era, displaying over 20 rare and famous images and artworks. Christophe Boulmé will be in attendance and available to answer any questions fans may have. 

There will also be an opportunity to buy Michael Jackson official merchandise, both brand new and vintage items, courtesy of King Of Shop. (Cash payments only - bring ya bills).

The Making HIStory exhibition will take place at The Gallery On The Corner Ltd. (Battersea Park)

Tickets cost just £5 

MORE INFORMATION AND TICKETS HERE

I cannot stress how great this will be. The images are beautiful and I've seen some of the new official merchandise that will be on sale - Jackson fans will not want to miss out. TRUST ME. Plus I'll be helping/hanging out so people who read ICONIC should come down and discuss Michael Jackson with me and tell me how much they like/loathe my writing about him. 

Great! You're coming! Can't wait! See you there!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

DIGITAL WORDS / Indiana Interview

View the original post HERE


A young, sensitive singer songwriter with a seemingly innate talent for performance and composition, Indiana is a songstress that you should be keeping your eyes, ears and attention fixed on. She has been the architect of her own creativity with her emotionally driven, low key music being minimal in construction but maximum in impact. We wanted to know more about the voice behind the shivering beauty of track ‘Blind As I Am’, so we chatted to our new favourite female siren about her, admittedly, “jammy” road to a record contract, her latest single ‘Bound’ and her pre-performance paranoia. As well as Gary Numan, Indiana Jones and sadomasochism...


So we thought we could establish some basic facts first. Your name is a reference to Indiana Jones. Tell us where that came from.

Just from watching it as a kid really. When I got into music I didn’t want to be called by my birth name. I wanted to be called something different and I wanted to disassociate myself from that and be creative. It took quite a while. Every name I thought of just didn’t feel right. It was my boyfriend actually that thought, “What did you used to watch when you were a kid?” I said, “Indiana Jones,” and a few days later he text me and went, “Why don’t you call yourself Indiana?” 


Have you always been set on being a solo artists or did you try being in bands before becoming Indiana?

I’m really new to even wanting to be in the music industry. It all kind of happened by accident. My sister was the musical one in the family; she played piano, sang and wrote songs. She had a piano but she was moving into a small flat and it couldn’t fit, so I offered to look after it for her. I kept it in my dining room and kept having a go on it and thought, “I’m actually alright at this.” I was learning to play songs off the internet, like from guitar tabs, and teaching myself chords. After I got that hang of all that I started writing my own stuff but it was pretty rubbish. I figured I could do it though so started focussing on doing cover versions. Again my boyfriend, James, introduced me to the song ‘Gabriel’ by Joe Goddard and I loved it. I wanted to do my own version of it. I posted it on YouTube and the actual song’s composer, John Beck, saw it. He said he wanted to watch it for a laugh really but in the end he wasn’t laughing! He liked it and got in contact with me. And we’ve been working together ever since. It all just happened by accident. No wonder I never settled into any jobs before this. I feel like this has just been waiting for me.


What were you doing before you got into music? Just out of interest.

I was printing and designing t-shirts. Like, holiday t-shirts. For example ones that would say “Ibiza 2011” on the back or something like that. It wasn’t like I was some cool designer in a boutique!


Well it’s the greatest happy accident we’ve ever heard of.

It sounds pretty jammy, doesn’t it? I don’t think other artists would appreciate me just falling into the hands of Sony and signing a recording deal, all within a year of me realising I liked music!


It can happen that way now though because the music industry no longer sticks to a tradition format or formula. There are many different routes to success now. Anyway, the cover you did of ‘Gabriel’ has been pretty instrumental to getting you established and your name out there. You also did a cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Swim Good.’ Is there anything in particular that made you choose those songs? Is there a certain something you look for when you want to do one of your interpretations?

I just have to connect with the song or it has to speak to me. At the moment I’m looking at doing a medley with a Gary Numan track and a Blondie track, and using songs that are more about the production, I guess. When I did the covers of ‘Gabriel’ and ‘Swim Good’, lyrically, I could put myself in those positions. It felt as though I actually wrote ‘Swim Good’. At the end of the recording I actually found myself in tears. You can hear me crying at the end. I just have to make a connection. Not necessarily a sad connection though.


Can you tell us about your new single ‘Bound’? It seems quite different to your previous single ‘Blind As I Am.’ It seems less low-key and sounds like a bigger production.

I’m taking more control over song writing now and I’m now heavily involved with production. I think you can hear that ‘Bound’ is much darker and more sinister. It’s also a bit more edgy and leftfield. It’s different because I’m not afraid to experiment.




Female artists are very much dominating music en masse right now. From new names winning acclaim to Madonna still being the highest act in music. How does that sit with you as a new talent entering the field? Do you find the number of strong female voices out there encouraging?

Definitely. I mean, Adele and all her success in the US has really opened the door for other female British artists too. Hopefully we can all take over the world together. It’s very encouraging.


Where would you put yourself on the musical landscape? Who would you say you sit beside in terms of sound?

This won’t make sense to people yet as they haven’t heard the music I’m working on right now but I would probably say I’m somewhere in-between James Blake and Gary Numan[laughs]. In time that will make sense! It’s so frustrating that I’m evolving and I have all this new material that I have to hold back. I just want to show everyone. Originally the plan was not to release a new single until the end of April but I just couldn’t wait that long.  


Do you think it’s important to keep up a fast work pace in order to keep people interested?

I thought it would be that way but I’m being taught to see it differently. For quite I while I had just three songs out there on all the social media networks and I was worried that people would think I was just a one trick pony or that I didn’t have anything else to offer. You have to get the right speed and momentum. You can’t show everybody everything you’ve got, but equally you can’t keep it all too close to your chest otherwise people will lose interest in you. I wish I could be putting more stuff out there but I’m going to do as I’m told for a while.


You’ve got some live shows coming up – how do you feel about performing? Do you get nervous?

I don’t get nervous until the day of the performance, and then I can’t eat and I can’t talk. Then an hour before I’m due to go on my voice will get really hoarse and I start feeling ill and thinking that I cannot do it. I think that my career is over! [Laughs]. I get so paranoid. But when I get on stage, open my mouth and sing the first note I think, “What was I worrying about?” I don’t get stage fright, I get career fright. I get scared that it’s all been accident and that I’m going to forget how to sing.


Are you someone who puts in a lot of practice before a live show? Are you a perfectionist?

I would like to say ‘yes’ but… I’ll rehearse a few times but I know my music and it really is an ‘in the moment’ kind of thing. I can sing around the house to practice but when I’m recording or performing there’s just something that comes out of me and I go somewhere else. It’s as though I go into the song. And when that three and a half minutes is up it feels like I’ve been thrown back into the room. I can’t practice that, it just happens.


And to finish, who are your idols?

Can I say more than one? Well, Gary Numan is number one. I’ve only recently become a fan. Working with John Beck, who is a bit older than me, I’ll be showing him things that I’ve come up with and he tells me that it reminds him of Gary Numan in terms of the production that I like and my strange song subjects. I hate throwaway lyrics and I think that’s something I have in common with Gary Numan. I like to tell a story. It doesn’t necessarily have to be true or be about me but I’ll put myself in the role of, say, an insomniac, an adrenaline junkie or in the case of ‘Bound’, a sadomasochist. Anyway, the more I’ve been researching Gary Numan’s work I’ve developed a massive music crush on him. I also have a lot of respect for The xx, they were a good reference point that I kept going back to when I was working on ‘Blind As I Am’. I really felt what they were doing and wanted to apply it to my music. I really like James Blake as well. His song ‘Retrograde’ makes me feel like everything else I’ve ever done is rubbish [laughs]. It’s so good that I don’t even think he’s human.

Indiana plays Live At Leeds Festival on 4th May 2013

Her current single ‘Bound’ is out now

Written for IDOL

Saturday, 9 March 2013

DIGITAL WORDS / Sensual Harassment Interview

View the original post HERE


Sensual Harassment – it’s a good band name. Not only that, but Sensual Harassment are a band making music that is every bit as striking as their name. We had a chat with one half of the Brooklyn disco synth-pop duo (Todd Thomas) to find out what inspired the cinematic sound of their debut EP, the DIY method of working that has given them full creative control, and some of the favourite bands, both old and new.


Tell us, who are Sensual Harassment and what do you do?

Humanoids refer to us as Todd Thomas and Mike Sherburn.  Basically, we are just two guys making music for ourselves and hopefully other people will enjoy it.  We're both multi-instrumentalists, so it’s just whoever's got the best demo of a song we just start working on it. It’s really helpful to have two songwriters just writing constantly - it's fun to try and outdo each other because we both win in the end. The concept for the band was to take our obsession with synths, dance music and pop songs and turn it into a challenge to see if we could make new music in a classic style the way our heroes did. We get a lot of satisfaction just making songs by ourselves, so when other people respond and like what we're doing it’s just a huge bonus.  

Who came up with the band name?

I think the name was just a pun we were throwing around many years ago.  On one hand it’s kind of funny, on the other, it's very serious.  Kind of how we feel about our music in general - its pop music but it’s no joke to us.  Sensual Harassment is also a name that always gets attention in one way or another, so we've stuck with it.

How did you guys meet and when did you decide to start making music together?

Mike and I met through a friend.  We are both from North Carolina originally so we had a ton of things in common right away and understand each other a lot better because of those points of reference. Add that to the fact we were both inspired by so many of the same things, the writing partnership was just really strong from the very beginning - we were speaking each other's language.  Mike was looking for a serious band and I was looking for somebody really serious.  A friend set it up so that I flew down to North Carolina to meet Mike. We had beers, talked shop and the next week he was up in NYC with me working on music right away.  The fact he was crazy enough to do that let me know this was a guy I needed to stick with.  

Your EP, Escape From Alpha Draconis, is amazing and out now. What kind of environment or situation is your music best suited to? When is the ideal time to press play on your EP?

For us, the music we make has to have some drama.  It’s gonna make you wanna drive faster, dance harder, drink more, fall in love, whatever - it just has to move you in some way.  We write songs all the time and people will hear them and say, “That sounds like a movie soundtrack” or “I can see that being in a film” - that's a huge compliment for us.  I'm not even sure we're writing like that on purpose, but sometimes it just comes out that way.  If you put our tunes on while you're walking through a busy city or driving alone in the country at night, you will hopefully start to appreciate it a little more.

The video for your track ‘Disco Heart’ received a lot of attention. What was your involvement in the video? Do you have plans for some more arresting videos in the future?

'Disco Heart' was a concept video we did with our friend (and in our opinion video genius) Joel Fernando.  We produced the video ourselves and worked on a shoestring budget and ended up making something we were very proud of and got a decent amount of attention for.  Joel is just a really out there artist with a striking visual sense that really matched the aesthetic we were going for.  Once we got Karley Sciortino (Slutever) signed on, everything just fell into place.  It was more successful than we could have imagined.  As soon as we're back from touring in March we'll be cranking out more videos very soon.  So far we've chosen to continue putting out our own records (giving away our music for free: www.sensualharassment.com) and doing our own publicity, so we enjoy the freedom of not having to hear "no" from anyone when it comes to our music of videos.  We're anxious to get back to making videos and try to push some limits again and have some more fun.  



You’ve played alongside some really cool bands (Friends, Blondes, Future Islands). You clearly have your finger on the pulse – are there any new acts you’re into at the moment that we should be listening to?

We definitely like Xosar.  Amazing techno coming from the Netherlands. We're opening up for a band called Soft Moon in New Orleans.  They're just starting to catch on, but they're a really tight band.  And our friends Dead Leaf Echo are a really up and coming shoe gaze band out of Brooklyn doing some cool stuff.  Hopefully, you'll be hearing more from all of those bands in 2013.  

Do you have any live shows coming up? Will you come and visit us in London any time soon?

We'll be touring the States for a few weeks in March, heading down to Austin, Texas for SXSW.  We've been toying with the idea of doing a UK tour for a while, but haven't been able to make time for it yet.  But hey, anyone that wants to help us with shows over there, we wanna hear from you (sensualharassment@gmail.com)!

Finally, who are your idols and why?

From a musical standpoint, you can hear stuff like New Order, Blondie, The Cars and Daft Punk all over our music.  For us, there is just a real art and a perfectionism that should go into a pop song and those bands especially were just incredible at that.  Any time you can make something that is timelessly treasured like that, it’s a huge deal. I think sometimes people take for granted that a 'fun' song you might bob your head to can actually be a work of art, and for us, those bands did it as well as anyone.  Outside of music, we always appreciate people who were outsiders and took matters into their own hands.  Even guys like Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park come to mind.  True artists that came from nothing and built an empire based off their art.  Sometimes you have to just do what you love and hopefully the world will come around to your way of thinking.  I think the same goes for our music.  

Sensual Harrasment’s Escape From Alpha Draconis EP is available to download for free now.

Written for IDOL

Monday, 4 March 2013

I Like... Florence Welch's Jewellery / Flotique


Do you like my new ring? 


It's from Florence Welch's new Flotique Jewellery collection. 

This ring is a take off of the tattoo Florence bears on her middle finger, thus appealing to all the Flophiles who aren't quite committed enough to ink on the real thing.

The rest of the range is inspired by the art deco themes of Florence + The Machine's Ceremonials art work and tour stage set. 

Here she is modelling pretty much the entire line in one go. Lovely. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013