Photography – In Focus with Juanita McKenzie

Embracing city life, photographer Juanita McKenzie finds beauty in the metropolitan landscape around her to produce some powerful, eye-catching shots. Here, she tells us what drives her and shares some of her favourite photos…

‘I am a Bristol based amateur photographer but I’m originally from Cape Town in South Africa and moved to the UK about 6 years ago. It was a huge transition to make and in many ways was a process of starting over but I believe this was the catalyst to rediscovering my teenage dreams of pursuing photography. In high school I dreamed of becoming a photojournalist and telling the stories that I so passionately believed needed to be told. I saw the ability of an image to convey powerful emotive messages in a way that words could not, yet I also saw the synergy that could arise from combining image and word.

Looking back, I realise that the passion for photography has been there almost since the beginning – as a very young child I was fascinated by a set of encyclopaedias at home that had the most amazing colour pictures of the world and its people. I remember spending hours looking through them, planning how I would visit all these places one day, to take the photographs and tell the stories. So here I am now… a late starter perhaps and with a lot to learn… but I have a long-standing love of photography and a dream that demands I pursue it!

Having moved from the Cape Town environment of mountains and sea to living in a city in the UK has been a big adjustment and a major influence on my style of photography. I’ve had to adapt to not only being in a new country but also to city life and being part of an urban landscape. Cities can appear to be grey, oppressive concrete jungles but I have learned that if you really look, there is beauty to be found everywhere.

(Kings Cross Station, London)

Everything is about perception and your perspective at any given time. It fascinates me how we all look at the same things yet see something completely different. How we perceive the world is unique to each one of us and photography is a way to for me to show the viewer the world as I see it, through my particular perspective and through my lens. I hope that it creates a visual journey for the viewer that may inspire seeing the familiar or ordinary with new eyes.

For me photography is a narrative, each image tells a story and often has a story behind it too. Photography captures moments in a sea of constant change and this is particularly evident in the fast pace of city life. Photography is a way of slowing down and being present in the midst of all the rush and movement. It is a way of capturing the essence of a moment and documenting places, lives, people, the times we live in. These images are collections of moments that weave together to tell our stories.

I hope that I can inspire others to discover the world with new eyes every single day, starting right where they are. There is beauty everywhere, you just have to look for it!’

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour”

– William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

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Colourful Exchanges

Paddington Central, Westway Bridge – city underpasses transformed by colour. This is a public artwork by Liz Weston, called Colour Transfer. The statue in the foreground is one of two very realistic figures by sculptor Sean Henry, portraying the narrative of everyday life and the potential of meeting up.

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Perceptions

New Bridewell Street Walkway, Bristol – large public artwork on the side of a building, showing a digital pattern that appears to change as you walk past. This artwork is called 14537/9431 and is by artist Lilah Fowler.

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Keeping an Eye on You

Candid shot of spectators at the vibrant Notting Hill Carnival 2018.  Some of the buildings along the streets are boarded up during the carnival weekend but these barriers are transformed into colourful and inviting artworks.

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Golden Hour Reflections in London

This is a city that has definitely stolen my heart with all its contrasts and contradictions. The modern architectural styles of glass fronted skyscrapers can provide perfect reflections and in both of these images I loved the combinations of old and new, reflection and form, cold and warm light.

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Walking in my Shoes

Bristol Wing – This was taken on a photoshoot and the model was posing outside the old fire station doors. While everyone was trying to capture her face in the last ray of sunlight, I noticed her shoes and how they expressed so much. I love DMs and pretty much live in them, so well-worn boots speak to me of character and roads travelled.

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Look Up

City buildings can tower over us, dominating the landscape and blocking out light. I see so many people walk around the city, hunched over, looking down, drawn into themselves. Looking up reveals beautiful building details, expansive skies and interesting skylines. It also creates a sense of spaciousness and light that can sometimes be forgotten in the concrete jungle.

(Left: Bristol Wing, old police headquarters – Top Right: Richmond Building, Bristol – Bottom Right: Rivington Place, Shoreditch)

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At the Feet of a Poet

St Pancras International – detail shot of the large statue of poet, Sir John Betjeman. Something a little different and purely because I could not seem to get a clear shot without people in it. I eventually sat down on the ground in despair to wait and that’s when I saw this shot. I never did get a shot of the entire statue.

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Painted Cities

Urban art has fascinated me for a long time and it is so much a part of city life as a means of social commentary, protest, expression and also transformation. I notice how areas that are decaying and forgotten often provide the canvas for some of the most beautiful and colourful street art. The art transforms and uplifts these neglected spaces and creates a sense of vibrant culture and optimism in these communities. In some cases street art has even become part of the identity of these areas.

(Top Left & Top Right: Stokes Croft, Bristol – Bottom: Brick Lane, London – Header Shot: Shoreditch, London)

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All photos are taken and copyrighted by Juanita. If you would like to see more of her work or discuss a photography project, you can contact her via her website and see regular posts on Instagram.

25th February 2019

Made in Greece – Inner Ear Records

Discovering an independent label with an impressive roster of artists is always going to make you sit up and pay attention. Not that Inner Ear Records are new – they’ve been around since 2007 and have spent that time building the label’s reputation by working with a plethora of new and innovative artists in their native Greece. Based in the carnival city of Patras, Inner Ear have a pool full of talent with some really exciting releases on their books.

From psych to dance and experimental pop, there are so many artists worth checking out so do take a look through their portfolio at your leisure. In the meantime, it’s been a huge pleasure to speak to four of their acts – Bazooka, Daphne and The Fuzz, Goodbye Bedouin and Vagina Lips, all highly recommended listening. Get to know them here and find yourselves some great new music in the process…

Bazooka

Give us a quick band intro – who are Bazooka?

Bazooka is a 4 piece band, at sometimes 5 in the past. We are originally from Volos, a small coastal town in the centre of the Greek peninsula. We formed in 2008 and relocated to Athens in 2009. Since then we are playing around Europe and Greece and we have also toured the US. We are playing a mix of punk and post punk with a lot of 60s’ influences. We have two albums on the US label Slovenly Recordings. The first one is a self titled LP released in 2013 and the second one is the Useless Generation LP released in 2016 that marked our transition from singing in English to singing in Greek.

Your new album Zero Hits was released in January – how long did it take to put together and how did it feel hearing the end result?

In November 2017 we worked for the first time with Inner Ear Records releasing the Zougla EP. After that release our manager and dear friend, Penny Liaromati, said that it was the time for a new LP. The plan was from January till May 2018 to write new songs and then go into the studio in June to record the new album. We did the recording sessions  in Electric Highway Studio in the north suburbs of Athens, with the sound engineer being our drummer John Vulgaris and the second engineer being John Damianos. We did all the live takes in almost 2 weeks. We recorded one or two songs every day. When we were done with the live recordings we started overdubbing where it was needed and then we added synths, percussion, some wind instruments here and there and of course the vocals. The whole recording process took us 3 weeks. It was the first time that we used such a long time. Usually we do everything in 1 week. This time the whole process  of recording and being in the studio felt really good and creative!

You’ve toured Europe many times already – any plans for dates outside Greece in the near future?

We are booking a European tour for April 2019. Countries included are Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and The Balkans. We are going to post the schedule on our Facebook and Instagram pages soon.

Best or worst experiences playing live?

One of the best shows was playing at The Shacklewell Arms in London in 2016. We were touring England as part of our European tour and it was the second show in London in a week. We saw all the people that came a few days ago to our first show coming again and it was really moving and the crowd was amazing. Many good shows in France also. French people know how to throw a party. Worst experience was playing in a squat in Leiden, Netherlands in 2011 on our first tour ever. The people were great but we played in a really tiny rehearsal space where it smelled of rat shit because the guys next door were keeping some rats for pets and all the smell from the ventilation system was coming inside this tiny room. It was a nightmare to say the least.

And what’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2019?

For now we are going to promote our new album Zero Hits by playing a lot in Greece and touring Europe. It’s really exciting playing all these new songs live!

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Listen to/buy music from Bazooka

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Daphne and The Fuzz

Introduce us to Daphne and The Fuzz – who’s involved?

Daphne and the Fuzz is the dream pop project of Daphne Lz, a singer, songwriter and videographer from Athens, Greece. We released our debut self-titled album in 2016 and 2AM in 2018, both with Inner Ear Records. The band consists of Orestes Benekas (keys, synths), Giannis Rallis (guitars), Vasilis Nissopoulos (bass and also the producer of 2AM) and Dimitris Doumouliakas (drums).

Your album 2am came out in October – tell us a a bit about it and what the reaction to it has been like…

There was a concept before the recordings that we were going to make an uptempo album. We were inspired by the French electronic scene as well as psychedelic pop/rock bands that turned to dance beats such as Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and MGMT. We have received a mixed reaction to 2AM so far. There are those who liked our debut album a lot – which had a more vintage pop aesthetic – and don’t think that the new genre we tried to approach fits us that well. And there are those who really seem to like the straight-forwardness and extroversion of our new album. I believe that what truly builds a band’s character is above all the songwriting and, as I really enjoy experimenting with new things all the time, I can promise that what’s coming next for Daphne and the Fuzz will sound a bit different as well.

What’s your local music scene like?

Athens’ indie music scene has been rising in the past years. There are so many new talented musicians in such a relatively small city. Even though each project sounds unique there is a continuous interaction between them, and we can’t talk yet about the scene having a ‘settled’ sound because it is still evolving. From dream pop to psychedelic rock, to stoner and electro, it’s definitely indie and self-made, subconsciously inspired by the economical crisis, the political changes and the explosion of technological advances of the past years that formed us and made us take life in our own hands without stopping dreaming. I’m really proud being part of it, but at the same time, the audience, even though supportive, doesn’t seem big enough to bring the local scene outside our country’s borders.

What’s been on your favourite albums list over the last year or so?

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II & Multi-Love, St. Vincent – Masseduction, MGMT – Little Dark Age, Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, Gorillaz – The Now Now, Justice – Woman

I also made a Spotify list with our influences and the songs we were listening during the recordings of 2AM – you can listen to it here.

And what are your hopes and plans for the next year?

I am currently working on a new live set – you could call it a one woman show. I think it contributes to our latest album’s sound and it will be more versatile for touring. So my plans for now are to organise my first European tour while I also want to start working on my new ideas.

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Listen to/buy music from Daphne and The Fuzz

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Goodbye Bedouin

Can you introduce the band and describe your music in a sentence?

The name of our band is Goodbye Bedouin and, although we will always have doubts about it, we like to say that we play psych garage music.

Tell us about your debut single Submarine/ Youth

Submarine/Youth is the product of our early rehearsals in the studio. In a sense, these two songs embody the drive and the lust that brought us together in the first place. We had a very good experience working with Manolis Aggelakis (producer), Sakis Bastas (sound engineer), and everyone from Inner Ear Records for its production, and we are really happy that the single is out.

What brought you together as a band – did you already know each other before you formed?

Most of us we were friends before forming the band, so that was in itself a very good reason to get together and see how it would go. Composing and playing music with friends can be interestingly (or exhaustingly) tricky at times, yet it almost always delivers a sense of genuineness and, I guess, substance to the process of making and performing songs. Also, we all shared a very similar desire to adopt a music style that would sound direct and rough, oscillating between garage, rock’n’roll and psych pop.

If you could tour with any 2 other bands/artists what would be your ideal line up?

I think we would all agree on The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain. But at the same time, I guess an ideal line up could likewise consist of two bands/artists that are not famous. You always have more fun with non-famous people I think.

And what’s next for GoodbyeBedouin?

Working on an album or an EP and performing live at interesting places!

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Listen to/buy music from Goodbye Bedouin

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Vagina Lips

Tell us about the person behind Vagina Lips…

I’m Jimmy Polioudis and I live in Thessaloniki, Greece. I’m 37 years old and I like 80s’ teen movies, vegetarian food, smoking and buying records. The project Vagina Lips was created almost 4 summers away and for the last 3 years I’ve been creating music and playing live shows all by myself. I have released five full albums and four mini albums.

Your album Generation Y dropped in December – who else worked on it who deserves a mention and how did it feel seeing and hearing the end product?

The other person who worked with me not only on Generation Y but on every release I’ve done so far is Konstantinos Iosifidis (leader of the band Psychedelic Trips To Death). When I first heard the end product I didn’t know how to feel. This is something characteristic about me. Most of the time I don’t know how to feel.

Which other artists have you been listening to or seen live lately?

IDLES, Heavy Lungs, Shame, Fontaines DC, Choir Boy, These New Puritans, Young Fathers

Message to the world?

Respect what you don’t understand.

And what are your aspirations for the coming year?

Many live shows out of Greece if that’s possible, to get big, be happy and to get a cat.

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Independent record labels are vital in supporting and encouraging new artists; if you like what you’ve seen and heard here you can listen to more of Inner Ear Records’ acts by visiting their website and checking out their Bandcamp, Soundcloud and YouTube pages. 

Promo photos via Inner Ear Records
(Bazooka © Sarah, Daphne and The Fuzz © Mariza Kapsabeli, Vagina Lips © Leah Miza)
19th February 2019

Allusinlove at Komedia Studio

Allusinlove / Mantra / Grymm, Komedia Studio Brighton, 13th Feb 2019

With new music and a new name, Allusondrugs are no longer and Allusinlove have very much taken over. With fresh songs shared back in November, the band are currently working their way through a string of dates across the UK before heading to Europe. On Wednesday night they hit the stage at Brighton’s Komedia Studio, grunge rock still at their core but with a more accessible edge, latest single All Good People translating into an instant live anthem. Excellent openers for the evening came from locals Grymm and London’s Mantra, both pulling in a good crowd and making a strong case for getting along early for the support bands.

Check out our gig gallery below…

Allusinlove

Grymm

Mantra

Allusinlove

Click through for the latest from Allusinlove, Grymm and Mantra

Words and photos by Siobhan

15th February 2019

New Music – Good Cop Bad Cop

Good Cop Bad Cop – Silk and Leather

Put together Milburn vocalist Joe Carnall with Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and you might expect a guitar driven, full on indie outpouring. But the Sheffield pair have some surprises up their sleeves…

Taking a different musical path, Joe has moved towards electronica, his vocals sounding smoother against a synth backdrop. He has written and played all instruments excluding drums on Silk & Leather, the noteworthy debut single from new project Good Cop Bad Cop. With demos complete, he sent them across to Matt thinking he ‘would be into it’ which resulted in the two working together and Matt producing the record in his home studio in the Hollywood Hills, a stark contrast to its birthplace in South Yorkshire.

With Milburn’s last album Time produced by Bill Ryder-Jones, Joe is no stranger to artist production and this new venture confirms that Matt’s skills range way beyond the drum kit. He explains this new string to his bow: ‘I’ve become progressively more interested in production over the years but have perhaps never been brave enough to take the first steps; Joe’s project seemed like the perfect place to start’. Joe describes the experience saying, ‘It was great for both of us as we could afford to make mistakes without a huge bill to pay at the end. It really was just two old friends spending time together and making music in a glorified garage’.

From what is presumably a glorified garage like no other, the pair have come up with something reminiscent of 80s’ synth pop with a current twist and the forthcoming self-titled album will surely be highly anticipated by fans and the industry alike.

Tickets for upcoming tour dates have largely sold out despite having only been announced a few days ago but look out for spares or returns for the following locations in April:

13th – Glasgow King Tut’s
15th – Manchester Yes
16th – Leeds Belgrave Hall
18th – London Hoxton Hall
19th – Sheffield Crookes Social Club
21st – Nottingham Bodega
22nd – Bristol Thekla

Watch the video for Silk & Leather now – you can receive an instant download of the single when you pre-order the album here; you can also see an exclusive Q&A with Joe and Matt – the album release date is scheduled for 29th March 2019

Don’t miss out on updates from Good Cop Bad Cop on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Words by Siobhan

Photo via Lucid Online PR

8th February 2019

 

Independent Venue Week – Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess and The Anytime Minutes / The Silver Field / Average Sex, St Paul’s Worthing, 1st Feb 2019

The past week has seen gigs arranged in over 200 independent venues right across the UK from Inverness to the Isle of Wight. It’s been a chance to catch new and established artists in some unlikely places and the news that Tim Burgess was coming to town, to play at a local arts centre in a converted chapel, definitely took a few residents by surprise in the seaside town of Worthing.

Running his own independent label, O Genesis Recordings, Tim has long been a vocal supporter of smaller venues and emerging artists, curating new music on Tim Peaks stages at festivals nationally. On this occasion he brought with him the fantastically energetic Average Sex (who later became his backing band as The Anytime Minutes) and The Silver Field, whose enchanting debut album Rooms has just been released on O Genesis. In an intimate setting with no gap between the stage and the crowd, Tim showcased an eclectic mix of his solo work – and a cover of Culture Club’s Time (Clock of the Heart) – and was his usual charming self, chatting to audience members between songs. The surroundings at St Paul’s make an impressive backdrop with many of the church’s original features still in place. Now run as a cafe and multi arts centre it has become a vibrant hub of the local community but needs ongoing support to maintain its offer as so many local venues do. IVW provides just one such opportunity. This is how it works…

‘Independent Venue Week is a 7 day celebration of small music venues around the country and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them, week in, week out. These venues give artists their first experience of playing live in front of an audience and for fans, somewhere to get up close to artists that one day, may well be playing stadiums and festival main stages. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England in the UK and also the wider music industry and brands globally, Independent Venue Week brings together these venues along with breaking and established artists, promoters, labels, media, bloggers and tastemakers to create a nationwide series of gigs. These venues are the backbone of the live music scene in their country and Independent Venue Week wants to recognise all that they have done to create some of the most memorable nights of the past so they can continue to do the same in the future.’

(Independent Venue Week website)

Simple really, it’s free for venues to take part, they get to keep 100% of ticket sales, can put on one or more shows in the week and get support from regional IVW reps and volunteers to promote and run their events.

The last year has proved that grassroots venues are still at huge risk of closure with Bristol’s Thekla under threat and Brighton neighbours Sticky Mike’s and The Globe both clearing their stages for the final time – just a few casualties amongst a host of others struggling to survive. Independent Venue Week offers a helping hand to all those who remain open with the hope that the ethos behind it will last all year.

For a packed crowd in Worthing, Friday night was a great reason to brave the freezing weather and get involved in a brilliant, unexpected line up of live music. Tim, come back soon and bring your friends, we’d love to see you all again.

You can find out more about Independent Venue Week, what went on and the application process on their website (UK and US each have their own week of celebrations)

Click through for more on O Genesis Recordings, Average Sex and The Silver Field

Words and photos by Siobhan

4th February 2019