Interview – Doomshakalaka

Introducing Doomshakalaka, maybe better known to some of you as Paul Rafferty, previously of Hot Club de Paris, the indie rock outfit once described in The Guardian as ’abstruse and charming in equal measure’. With his debut self-titled album set for release, we asked what’s gone into its 10 years in the making and got some top tips for a trip to Liverpool…

You’ve been involved in the music industry for a while now, how was the idea of Doomshakalaka as a new project born?

The idea for Doomshakalaka came about around 2011. I’d been writing bits of music here and there that wasn’t suitable for my band at the time (Hot Club de Paris) and once that folded, I wanted to make music without the compromises that you might encounter in a band. When you’re writing as a group you’re attempting to satisfy all the member’s creative visions. The reason the Doomshakalaka record took so long was because it turns out that those series of compromises is what makes writing quicker and easier.

Your album is out tomorrow, it feels like you’ve put a lot of yourself into its making – how personal is it and who else has helped you make it happen?

I guess all ‘solo’ records are pretty personal affairs but this feels particularly so as I recorded all of the material as well as writing and performing it. I mixed it and then designed all of the artwork so I’ve probably put more of myself into this record than a lot of people would. It’s certainly more input than I’m used to so there was a steep learning curve with regard to figuring out how to manage my expectations as a creative person, in line with a lot of technical stuff I was learning about how to record music. My friend Tom English played the drums and provided a much needed voice of reason / encouragement / enthusiasm, without which I might still be recording it now.

Is there a track that stands out for you and what’s it about?

At this point on a good day I love all of the songs in equal measure and on a bad day I hate all of the songs in equal measure. I’ll choose the song Black Balloons. I like the linear arrangement and organic space in it. It feels like I was writing in quite an unabashed, unconstrained way that I feel is a tough zone to get into. I think a lot of writers feel like they’re playing full-contact sport for Team Zeitgeist and it’s sometimes difficult to remember to make whatever the fuck you want. The lyric started as a joke; my girlfriend finds it amusing that I often mention people’s birthdays or birthday parties in songs, and I wanted to write something that might make her laugh. It all went a bit dramatic though and started to be about gunshots and dreaming about your house burning down.


Has lockdown affected your release plans at all?

There were no plans to play this record live as I don’t have a band as yet, so we’re just pressing on regardless of lockdown. It’s kind of tough to make videos for the singles in this situation but restriction often presents better ideas so I’m not too bothered.

Tell us about the video for lead track One Last Saturday Night which features you walking with your dog – is it right that it was shot by your girlfriend on an iPhone?

Yeah, we made it during the initial stages of lockdown. I was recovering from a particularly unpleasant surgery where I’d had a scarred nerve removed from the ball of my foot which is why I’m on crutches in the video. We needed to make something near the house, preferably whilst we walked our dog and not too strenuous, so it was the best we could muster in the circumstances. Turns out she has a very steady hand, plus we’re isolated together so she was the perfect choice for DOP.

And how’s your foot now, will we see you undertaking a series of increasingly difficult sports activities on subsequent videos?

There is 0% risk of me doing anything strenuous on camera.

Liverpool’s normally a pretty busy city – outside of quarantine where are favourite places to go?

Most of my favourite places to go tend to involve food or coffee or both. I really like eating at The Bagelry and most recently Meatless. I like the coffee at Belzan and it’s only a 30 second walk from my studio. I walk my dog everyday in Sefton Park which is beautiful at any point of the day. My favourite gallery is probably The Walker, so I’ve been missing going there during lockdown. If I’m in that part of town I love going to Lovelocks which has brilliant coffee and insane cake. Defend Vinyl is a great record shop in the south of the city and I often spend a couple of hours chatting with the owner about the second hand records he’s acquired. Venue-wise, everywhere I used to go when I was more into going out has been turned into flats, plus I barely drink now so I’m not particularly connected to any bars / pubs / venues. I have quite bad tinnitus these days, so I choose the gigs I attend quite carefully.

Once restrictions are lifted, what’s next for Doomshakalaka?

I’ve been writing a new Doomshakala record! I’m planning a different process this time; simpler songs, quicker bouts of writing and to record the material live with a band. I’ve got some excellent musicians lined up to populate my band and help me record the record so I’m very excited about it. We’re looking at recording it in October. I’m hoping the restrictions will be lifted without reinstatement by then, but you can never be too sure considering our government’s harrowing approach to protecting people’s health. Other than that, I’m thinking about getting a haircut.

Doomshakalaka is released tomorrow, 5th June, on Moshi Moshi Records. You can pre-order the album here and watch the video for One Last Saturday Night below.

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © Nick Duckett via One Beat PR

4th June 2020

 

New Music – Sunflower Thieves + Happyness + Bo Ningen (feat Bobby Gillespie)

New releases – Sunflower Thieves, Happyness, Bo Ningen (feat Bobby Gillespie)

Sunflower Thieves – Hide and Seek (single)

Leeds based duo Sunflower Thieves release their new single today. Continuing their melodic musings with another track filled with haunting harmonies, Hide and Seek is the kind of song that will drift in and out of your consciousness and leave you feeling all the better for it. The band note that the song is about ‘wanting to escape back to childhood bliss when life becomes a little difficult’, something we can probably all relate to at the moment. Listen below.

Sunflower Thieves

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Happyness – Seeing Eye Dog (video)

Following the release of their accomplished album Floatr at the start of the month, Happyness have shared a video for previous single Seeing Eye Dog. Created in isolation, the digitally animated graphics provide a suitably kaleidoscopic background to the band’s mix of fuzzy riffs, feedback and delicate vocals. In this new chapter, it feels as though Happyness have found their own zenith; fans of the band will be keeping their fingers crossed for dates in October and November to go ahead – there is certainly the promise of something special live if so. You can purchase Floatr here and watch the video for Seeing Eye Dog below.

Happyness

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Bo Ningen (feat Bobby Gillespie) – Minimal (single)

Quite a departure from the expected noise-rock of Bo Ningen past, new track Minimal, released today, brings a collaboration with fabled Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie; an eclectic pairing if ever there was one. The result ventures towards an absorbing hybrid of art-pop and EDM with vocals in Japanese and English, sung and spoken. Now signed to Alcopop! Records, Bo Ningen’s metamorphosis into this new musical territory is definitely worth keeping an eye on. New album Sudden Fictions is scheduled for release on 26th June and, all being well, lives dates are planned for October. Pre-orders for the album are open here; listen to Minimal below. 

Bo Ningen

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Words by Siobhan

Photos: Sunflower Thieves via band, Happyness © Holly Whittaker via Practise Music, Bo Ningen via Wall of Sound PR

29th May 2020

 

 

 

Interview – Winter

A trance-like treat for your ears, Winter’s new psych-pop album Endless Space (Between You & I)  looks set to be a perfect summer backdrop. We chatted about music, quarantine and influences ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Marisa Monte…

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into making music…

I am a Los Angeles based artist and make bilingual dream pop. I started writing songs when I was 12 and have been doing it ever since. My project Winter is the culmination of beautiful melodies, fluttering guitars and an other-worldly sensibility. Music is the air I breathe and everything I see. It’s been a part of me my whole life. 

Born in Brazil, living in LA, you must have an interesting mix of musical influences – who are some of your favourite artists past and present?

Yes! There’s such a spectrum of music and artists that I enjoy. I would say I’m greatly inspired by Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Starflyer 59, Lilys and bands from Sarah Records but I also love Brazilian artists such as Boogarins, Marisa Monte, Caetano, Gal Costa… It’s a big list but I would say my taste ranges from Brazilian MPB to east coast indie rock to ambient and noise music and I’ve been recently really getting into electronic music.

Your album Endless Space (Between You and I) is now set for release at the end of July, how has quarantine affected your plans and how does it feel to be launching new music in the current environment?

It’s strange but I think there are some pros and cons to it. I think a big part of releasing music right now is coming to terms with it being a whole new playing field. The old formula of putting out a record and touring it isn’t a possibility, so it’s an exciting and experimental time to figure out what are new things you can do. Letting go and being okay with change is going to be really important. I see it as an exciting time but I’m also a total optimist, haha. My record title seems to fit perfectly with the quarantine themes so I think this context will actually benefit the music and the whole other-worldly escapism that this record can provide.

You’ve just shared the title track, what’s the reaction been like?

It’s been great! We’ve actually released three singles so far and it feels exciting to put each song out month by month. It’s a darker, more magical aesthetic for Winter. Both music videos so far I’m playing different characters and alluding to fairy tales or archetypes so it’s been cool to tell those stories through my music. I’m always making a different type of record so I don’t expect old Winter fans to all like it. I think if you like ambient, psych, dream pop this record will be a treat for you!

And how are things with you, where are you and are you able to see friends or family?

I’m in Los Angeles. I feel pretty lucky because I live in a neighborhood that has two parks and a lot of sunshine and space so I’m able to walk around and even talk with neighbours and friends from a distance when I’m in the outdoors. My family lives in different places so I definitely miss them a lot. I’ve gone through so many different emotional states during this quarantine but I finally feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin and accepting that I just have to take things day by day.

Talk us through a few of the album tracks – what’s the story behind them?

Well, a lot of the songs are inspired by nature, poetry and the tarot. The themes of this record are very expansive and I would say Healing is probably the only song that feels more like a nowadays sort of topic – it’s basically being ‘ghosted’. All the other songs have more grandiose timeless stories. In The Z Plane, Bem No Fundo and Constellation all talk about a Utopian dream world. Pure Magician was inspired by the tarot card of the magician. Here I Am Existing was inspired by a poem by Mary J Oliver. I’m curious once the record is out to hear people’s connection to the songs because I did intentionally leave room for interpretation. 

One album, one film, one book – what would you choose?

I’m so bad with this type of question because I’m always going through different phases, haha, but here goes!
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Amélie Poulain
Bluets by Maggie Nelson

And what are your plans for whenever things get back to normal?

I don’t really have any! Play shows? See my family? Eat a delicious dinner at my favourite restaurant…

Endless Space (Between You & I) will be released on 24th July via Bar/None Records. You can pre-order the album here. In the meantime, catch up with Winter and watch the video for the title track below.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via One Beat PR

28th May 2020

The Way Forward

By Caoimhe Clements

Life has changed dramatically.  We have given up our freedom in a sense to save lives. It is time to be more grateful if you and your loved woke up this morning still breathing – be happy, because thousands of people today didn’t get to breathe again. Together, we can get through this. We can protect each other. Please stay home and stay safe.

My name is Caoimhe Clements and I am a photographer from Ireland. Growing up in the Irish countryside inspired my landscape photography. Moving to Belfast inspired my continuous growing visual language, which is giving people a voice to speak through imagery.

I speak passionately about mental health, epilepsy and climate change through my photographic work. It’s time to talk. Let’s support each other.

Within the past two years, I have exhibited in Ireland and Scotland in group and solo exhibitions, become a photographer for the Woodland Trust, started two long term photographic projects and taught a fashion photography workshop in collaboration with Belfast Design Week 2019.

In June 2019, I began my project From the Inside Out; I exhibited the collection in November 2019. This project takes the viewer on a journey of emotions and how an individual lives with epilepsy, a subject matter very close to my heart.

From showcasing this work, I met a Professor from Trinity College Dublin who studies the brain and epilepsy. Professor Mark Cummingham expressed an interest in an image during launch night of the exhibition. In February 2020 I was invited to Trinity College Dublin to present the photograph to Mark. I am continuing to further and deepen the narrative of this project, through more in-depth research and development of imagery.

A fact about me… I currently attend university, studying my undergraduate in Photography with Video. I’m going into my final year in September 2020, I will embark on my masters after this.

During my second year of my degree I began my project A Global Crisis – an investigation into how people feel and think about climate change, the idea of starting a conversation, giving an individual a voice to speak.

I began to photograph individuals in the studio, inspired by Rembrandt’s painting style – I used the technique known as Rembrandt lightening or the Rembrandt effect.

The idea was to capture their raw emotions in a sad emotional statement, to reflect on how damaging climate change is, the sad reality that human activity is causing a dangerous increase in the change in climate – from extreme environmental changes such as raising sea levels to extreme weather events.

By mid March, Covid-19 had reached the UK and Ireland. Lockdown was introduced. This put a stop to my project; I was in state of feeling depressed, not known what was going to happen. Everything that I and other creative people where working towards had been affected. We had to find new ways to adapt and keep our creative mindsets alive.

But I am staying positive and finding new ways to communicate my concept to the viewer. I feel what is important now is supporting each other and reminding people that we can get through this phase. Stay home.

Since March, I have continued to add depth to my research and develop my project further. I have found interests in the fields of study in Psychology and Social Sciences. I began to read articles and essays into how psychology and climate change is linked and I became very interested in human behaviour and how this impacts the environment. I feel this is the way forward.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, and hope you and your loved ones are safe.

Caoimhe

All words and photos © Caoimhe Clements

You can read Caoimhe’s previous In Focus feature here

27th May 2020

The Enduring Power of Film Photography

The Enduring Power Of Film
by Geoff Maxted

I once sold a car and almost immediately, as it disappeared up the road, I regretted the decision to sell it. Many people instantly rue the day they disposed of this or that item, be it a camera or just a ball of twine because they forgot the golden rule: One day there might be a use for it.

Back in the days before the digital revolution swept over us in a tsunami of technology, I owned several film cameras from Nikon and Contax. To this day I regret being suckered into buying digital cameras: ‘It’s just so much more convenient’, I told myself, ‘no more chemical fumes’. Gone were the camera bodies and assorted lenses; the dark room enlarger and the trays and the changing bags and the dev tanks; yet curiously somehow two Nikon AF-D lenses survived the carnage. I found myself still in possession of a 28mm and a 50mm prime, both in mint condition. They must have been in a drawer somewhere, hiding, because they didn’t reveal themselves until some considerable time had passed.

The Camera Doesn’t Matter

Surprisingly, they still had a value but rather than move them on to a new home, I decided instead to buy a budget film camera. My Nikon F55 is made of plastic, is in almost new condition and cost £35 plus P&P from a trusted used retailer. The first roll of Kodak 400 lasted a year but just lately I have set aside the Sony and the posh Nikon digital models and instead stocked up on Kodak ColorPlus. I haven’t looked back since and there is a good reason why: Others have said this in other ways but the quote I’m using is from the legend that is Sir Don McCullin; “…digital doesn’t transform the atmosphere like film”. Never a truer word.

The camera is irrelevant. The brilliant and rather garrulous American street photographer, John Free, is still going strong aged almost 80 years and still uses a Nikon F3 HP with black and white film that he processes himself. It’s just him, a camera and a single lens yet he continues to produce great work.

They Just Look Right

Sir Don McCullin is not wrong. I recently had on a wall a pin board festooned with small prints and although the content may not be of prize-winning quality, the ‘look’ of the images is always what struck the casual viewer and it is hard to describe. The pictures just look ‘right’. Digital images have been described as being cold and I think that might be it. It isn’t just about grain; that can be added by software. There’s a pleasing warmth to the film images that simply cannot be replicated, despite the plethora of presets that make that claim, rather like my favoured fake film Kodachrome 64 and of course the photographer has to get it right first time in camera; no chimping, no machine-gunning, no second chances, as with the image of the tourists on a boat trip who prefer their phones to an actual view.

One Day My Prints Will Come

There’s an enduring power to film and that power is once again being manifested by the rise of a new generation of film fanatics, be it returners like me or the bright young things in the Lomography crowd. There’s no need to bother with colour or B&W home processing either, there’s plenty of C41 establishments who will develop, print and/or scan those lovely rich negatives. There are also some very interesting new emulsions on the market. It has to be said that it is thanks to the internet and digital science that having decent quality scans and prints made is both fast and reasonably cheap, so there’s no excuse for not shooting the odd roll and then waiting with bated breath for your prints to come.

The lesson here is that if you have some old film camera gear knocking about in the loft, then clean it and treasure it because one day you are going to need it. Even if the cost of a roll of 35mm is temporarily beyond you then hang on to the kit, because one day you will be able to treat yourself to some old-school snapping. Then you’ll be hooked.

All words and photos © Geoff Maxted

26th May 2020

Interview – Charlie’s Hand Movements

Whatever your favoured genre, you’re likely to find something that pleases you in amidst the 38 tracks that make up Nuclear Tapes, the eclectic new album from Charlie’s Hand Movements. Intrigued by the mix of musical styles and amused by their bio citing them as a ‘deeply unsuccessful Ayrshire & Essex based alternative pop band’, we felt compelled to catch up with them to find out more…

Give us an introduction to Charlie’s Hand Movements…

Lance: Charlie’s Hand Movements are Adam Gardner and Lance Keeble; an alt pop duo from Essex, now split between Essex and Ayrshire. Met in art college, bonded over mutual taste in music, discovered we were each making weird bedroom pop on the sly, started making even weirder bedroom pop together, released our first record in 2013, a couple of others and here we are now.

Your third album Nuclear Tapes is out today. Not content with just being an album though or even a double album, it’s a triple album with a whopping 38 tracks. Where did it all begin?

Lance: The desire to make a long record was in part inspired by the excesses of 70s’ prog double albums, but equally a nod of reverence to recent hip hop records like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Hip hop seems to really be paving the way for concept-style albums with an emphasis on overarching narrative told through diverse arrangements and production styles. Their willingness to throw in short skits to break up more complex tracks is something we’re fascinated by. We became pretty obsessed with 90s’ alternative rock band Mansun’s Six, with its spasmodic shifts in tone. I think we’ve always been interested in how humour and irreverence can lend a sort of relief to heavier themes too, and we’re not afraid to explore that, sometimes within the same song.

Tell us about the mix of genres involved and who or what has influenced you along the way?

Lance: I’ve always loved ambient music but for me it becomes particularly powerful when thrown into unexpected contexts. We use our quieter, atmospheric pieces as a tool to pull back the focus. They’re like little breathers I guess, little digestive aids for the more angular songs. There’s a silliness, a goofiness to a number of the songs, usually betraying a darker theme underneath. New Age Nuclear (which finds itself as an unfinished, truncated mix due to some kind of artistic mis-step in which we couldn’t capture its original energy) for example, was a kind of a Philly soul jam for an imagined evangelist church broadcast, set in the 1980s, complete with caustic gated drums and soggy synthesizers. We loved what The Flaming Lips were doing on Embryonic, throwing down some noisy jams and pulling songs out of the wreckage.

Adam: We were quite sure at the beginning that it was going to be some kind of ridiculously overblown concept album that, really, we had absolutely no right to make. Songs sprawling out and going wherever they wanted to, sometimes morphing into something else or just cutting out abruptly. Fleet Foxes put out Crack-Up around the time we were making this too – another big one for us – as they were really changing up what they were doing with song structures and the audience’s expectations for what a Fleet Foxes record should sound like. Not that we have ever come close to having an audience of course.

Some bands don’t stay together for as long as this project has taken, what’s your secret?

Lance: For us I think it’s always been about the thrill of recording, not knowing what’s going to transpire. Could be regrettable, could be beautiful. Some tracks like Suddenly…Fog! and Departures and Nowhere Near are instrumentally one-take improvisations. These moments have always acted as some kind of therapy for Adam and I; we just stop talking to each other, set-up a few instruments and just play whatever. Like actual musicians or something. Speaking of which – the brilliant Mick Gawthorp provided a number of saxophone performances, each illuminating and often steering the songs into new territories. 80% Bad Boy, for example, originally was a scuzzy stoner rock pastiche befitting of its title, but Mick’s sax left us no choice but to transform it into the haphazard slice of cosmic jazz you hear now.

So how will you celebrate the release – where will you both be?

Adam: Each time that we put something out into the real world we usually just message each other back and forth saying things like, ‘Is it crap?’ I mean, we barely have any followers and don’t shift many units so to speak, so it’s more just that anticipation and hope that somebody will connect with it. This is a project that has a lot of emotional baggage for us, I think more than each of us understood until very recently, so I’ll definitely be checking my phone. Knowing Lance, he’ll be in the woods looking at slugs or counting birds.

And how has lockdown impacted on you, in terms of making music and personally, have you found any positives

Lance: In some ways the lockdown may have been the catalyst for us to release Nuclear Tapes, a project we had somewhat given up on due to the perhaps over-ambitious nature of it. These times of fear and uncertainty maybe forced us to reflect on the project and see its merits as a work of spirited self-indulgence. There are mistakes, scratch vocals, rough mixes, strong ideas which fell apart, but there’s some heart there I think.

Adam: My wife and I have a one-year-old boy so it’s kind of like two months (and counting) of being held to ransom in our own home by a teething, unreasonable dictator if I’m honest. Days are long and nights are usually longer, but it does have its moments too. Ha. In terms of music, Lance and I are about to start swapping files remotely for the next project, so I think we’re in a good place.

To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Lance: I’m a zoom, I think Adam is a no-zoom. He sees the bigger picture better than me. I’m a details man, but I get lost in it more often than not and Adam has to pull me out.

Adam: I think Lance has fundamentally misunderstood this question. He knows surprisingly little about what’s happening in the wider world at any given time. I think we’re in the minority that haven’t Zoomed yet though, although we did video call over Messenger a few weeks ago with mixed results. I’m open to Zoom, but we haven’t even discovered Snapchat yet, so we might Zoom by 2030.

Fingers crossed that all our favourite venues survive, where would you love to play when things open up and who’d be on the line-up – you & anyone else you want?

Adam: I’m sure there are plenty of people far more qualified than us to talk about this, but it seems independent venues had things hard enough as it was before the pandemic hit, so it’s an especially cruel blow. We haven’t played to a room full of people for a few years now though, so in that respect the lockdown hasn’t changed much for us, but there are some great small venues we’d love to play. In Southend on Sea – which is where we’re from – there’s a really vibrant scene based around a really cool venue called The Railway Hotel. I moved to Scotland in January though, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s about once/if we come out of the other side of this. As for other people, Cool Thing Records have some really interesting stuff going on in Essex, and we’re big fans of a guy named MG Boulter who’s well worth checking out (he’s also got a new record out soon!)

And what’s next for Charlie’s Hand Movements, how do you follow Nuclear Tapes?

Lance: Now we live far apart, we’ll be working in a different way; sending skeletal song ideas back and forth, adding and subtracting remotely from our home set-ups. It’ll be exciting to see how this moves our sound forward. In the meantime we’re looking to release a much leaner, more compact album later this year.

Adam: It’s exciting though… and in the same way that this project was kind of a reaction to stuff we’d done before, we now have no choice but to approach things differently again. Definitely something more concise too – Nuclear Tapes was our attempt at making a maximalist blowout that followed every idea, even the questionable ones (of which there are many) and it got way out of hand. I mean, it’s long, pretentious, and completely self-indulgent at times, but we’re not Radiohead (as much as we’d love to be) so we’ve got to at least please ourselves. I like that we don’t have any idea of what the next thing will end up being though… I think that’s how it should be. Having said all that, there is another, more palatable, 10-track album that we made alongside this one that might see light of day soon in some form too. I guess we just want to make stuff that we think is good, and that keeps going to places we haven’t been before.

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Find Charlie’s Hand Movements on Twitter and Instagram

You can listen to and purchase Nuclear Tapes now:
Bandcamp

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via Charlie’s Hand Movements

22nd May 2020

In Lockdown with Lauren Fautley

In today’s feature, photographer Lauren Fautley shares her current project reflecting on the recurrent themes of day to day living in quarantine…

Lauren Fautley, Lincoln

‘As a nation and worldwide we have had to adapt to a new way of life. My series, 9 days in Self-Isolation, documents 9 days of this newfound state of inertia with my partner in our Lincoln flat. My work focuses on the mundane, repetitive nature of my daily routine during this self-isolation period.

9am

Portrait

8am

Facetime

I normally work as a portrait photographer but during this time I have geared my work towards a more documentary approach.’

11pm

Window

You can see more of Lauren’s photography and follow her on Instagram

Links to the rest of our series of features with photographers in lockdown can be found here

20th May 2020

 

 

 

New Music – Enjoyable Listens + Pizza Daddy + YNYS

New releases – Enjoyable Listens, Pizza Daddy, YNYS

Enjoyable Listens (Summer Hit) – single

Is it summer yet, which month is it – who knows? Nonetheless, Enjoyable Listens released new single Summer Hit on Friday, and if nothing else is making you feel like digging out your shades and staring moodily at the garden birds in the sun then this should do the trick. There’s a definite 80s’ aura around the song, think Talk Talk vocals with elements of The Cure’s pop melancholy leading the music. Having provided support for both British Sea Power and The Orielles, Enjoyable Listens create a sound that could easily span both fan-bases and much wider. Take a few minutes out to sit back and let this waft over you, then repeat.

More from Enjoyable Listens here

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Pizza Daddy – Too Many Boyfriends (single)

If you google Pizza Daddy be prepared to check out some tasty Trip Advisor reviews for Margheritas and garlic bread, but persevere and you’ll be treated to some newly released music from the London duo of the same name. Having gained their dream-pop stripes with past outfit BOYS, Ross Pearce and Mike Stothard are moving forward with a new project and a more contemporary take on a similar style. The story of polygamous worries, Too Many Boyfriends is a heady mix of jangly guitars and indie angst and sets Pizza Daddy up nicely as ones to watch. 

You can find Pizza Daddy here

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YNYS – Aros am Byth (single)

Opening in style with a big synth-meets-soul break, the new single from YNYS merges genres to present a laid back indie psych-pop tune that is sure to grab your attention. Aros am Byth (Waiting Forever) captures the essence of The Isley Brothers’ classic Summer Breeze and pulls it through time to produce something very current. Singer-songwriter Dylan Hughes explains, ‘The sound I was trying to get was Jeff Lynne taking over the studio after being at a Tame Impala listening party’. It certainly sounds as though Mr Blue Sky enjoyed the experience. Aros am Byth is out now on Libertino Records.

Check out YNYS here

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Words by Siobhan

19th May 2020

Artist Spotlight with Seb of Jolly Bearded Promotions

Introducing us to a world where childhood toys, war reportage and photography meet happily in one project, Seb Akehurst takes us on a journey through some of his fascinating collection of work, including a diversion into music and culture…

‘Hello, I’m Sebastian K Akehurst, otherwise known as ‘Jolly Bearded’. I am currently based in Armagh, Northern Ireland (NI), having returned back from Glasgow after three years and am a graduate in Interactive Media Arts from the University of Ulster, Coleraine (2014). Picking up the camera in the final year after studying photography theory, I decided to focus on War Photography and Toy Photography for my dissertation. I created scenes in black and white of D-Day (WWII) and colour work of the Vietnam War and Middle East conflicts.

Now I can only assume you’re asking yourself, ‘Wait! war and toys? Seb, you are going to have to explain this!’ Don’t worry, I intend to explain my development into this world of toys. I will also detail some of my steps into music events photography.

Originally, I had depicted the NI conflict through toys, as part of another undergraduate project. I saw this concept had potential. I began to see it turn some heads in interest, which I saw as a good start!

During my research, I began to question the integrity of early war photographers and photographs taken by Roger Fenton (1819-69), Mathew Brady (1822-96) and Robert Capa (1913-54). As it came to be known, they were hired for one main duty, to capture ‘good war effort’. In turn, this was used as propaganda back home. This questioned, my thoughts came to how I would wish to restage this. The reasoning for the use of toys became more logical. Any logic in photography can be given reason by the quote by Robert Capa, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. Stated by Stanley Leary who posted on rising.blackstar.com explaining this phrase, “He was telling us to physically get closer – to become more involved and intimate with our subjects”. Originally about capturing conflict, I used this approach in capturing my toy created conflicts. I came to realise this approach would have connections to play in childhood, in other words building a narrative in and about playtime.

Top: Incoming
Bottom: Suspicion

The criteria of this project – I had to show a few examples of the use of toys in photography. To my joy, Brian McCarty’s work captivated me, especially his ongoing project War-Toys. At the time, Brian used drawings constructed by children who had suffered traumas in Middle Eastern conflict zones: Israel, West Bank and The Gaza Strip to name a few. What amazed me was the use of real-time environments in his photographs, in which are these conflicts zones. I can highly recommend you check out his fantastic work over at brianmccarty.com.

Obviously from writing and researching my projects, I took up other mediums to help my work. Taking my criteria to flow, this was in studying classic war movies: Platoon (1986), Black Hawk Down (2001), We Were Soldiers (2002) to one of my favourites, Apocalypse Now (1979). When watching these films I took note of environments and particular traits in the conflicts. When taking and editing these photographs, I also took to finding particular music and soundtracks that would assist the creative process. For the lead to my project, I found music was to be some of the first influence on my work. My project entitled Stray Bullets (2011) was taken from a song written by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman.

Breakdown of image – Wounds

In this instance, my image Wounds – based on the conflict of Vietnam. I took this image and it gave me an impression of the covers of the LIFE magazine. One cover in particular, dated back to November 26th 1965, carried the text ‘The Blunt Reality of War in Vietnam’ accompanied by an image of a Viet Cong held prisoner. Accompanied by text this image gives a feeling of remorse to the viewer, yet maybe at the time of this conflict a different feeling. The environment I saw as a monsoon flooded jungle when, in fact, it was a building site at the end of my road. In connecting this to childhood, the toy used is the popular ‘Action Man’ which is my own from the younger days, although for this he had been given a darker storyline.

Wounds

I took to the camera again, but chose to follow an interest in live music photography. Realising my interest, why not document in the music sector? I used digital media to build an online presence and my ‘can-do attitude’ to just start meeting people to get my name out there. Using my connection in the media sphere I found someone to assist in the logo design and able to make a purchase within the industry, these pieces of merchandise can be found through my early posts on Facebook & Instagram.

I had managed to make a small name for myself, from working locally and further afield in NI, so taking this motto ‘support of artists’ to a whole new level, I decided to move to Glasgow, Scotland. Initially I was only planning on being out for around five months; safe to say this rapidly changed. Much like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, I found myself going down a rabbit hole. I found I would be moving through diverse genres of music and creative individuals. Yes, you are correct to assume I have a lot I could say, I had some memorable shows and places I ended up.

Awkward Family Portraits

Zenga the Titan

One of the major connections I had made was with the New Hellfire Club, Glasgow. Writers and creatives who had established themselves in the music scene of Glasgow built a broad fanbase within this scene. After introducing myself to the guys shortly after moving over, I had been adopted into their family, joining them at their record shop, gigs and other events. Now as time went on, they themselves grew into working towards creating a venue which became known locally as The Ice Box Arts And Music Centre, situated in the Southside of Glasgow. This new venture was exciting to have been a part of as, within the first few months of opening, I managed to see and photograph some fantastic shows (check their gofundmepage).

Left: Kim Khaos
Right: Trongate Rum Riots

I could not mention Glasgow without mentioning some of the amazing venues; from connecting with different bands and artists I found myself in some memorable places. Within the walls of these venues, I have managed to witness and photograph some very talented artists from Glasgow and afar! These venues were King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Cottiers, Nice N Sleazy, The Hug and Pint, Stereo, Broadcast and Cathouse.

Top: Calum Ingram
Bottom left: Keli of Painting Rockets
Bottom right: The Virginmarys

End of summer 2017, I found myself in Edinburgh, where I had the honour to be part of the Fringe festival with a well-known company called 21 Theatre Company. This was my first venture up at the Fringe; being a part of it was thrilling. Whilst in the midst of working to a tight window of two days, I got to see and meet many people who were involved in the creation of these wonderful shows. Shows captured: All The Kings Men, The Blue Brothers Tribute, DOUZE, Trill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story and The Rat Pack.

Top: Blues Brothers
Bottom: Douze

Back in 2014, when I began to dissect this genre of photography, Instagram wouldn’t have been on the radar as much as today, now allowing me to connect with other photographers and artists who also explore creative ways in toy photography. One example of this is NY based Jared Middleton who goes by the name ‘SirDork730’ and would use practical effects to build an atmosphere to his photography. In addition to connecting with him, I have also happily managed to share and connect with Brian McCarty, being able to express my joy in his work and being able to share the outcome of the project Stray Bullets, which to my delight he enjoyed.

I have had a surge of creativity in Toy Photography once again, this time currently developing the theme of playtime, working with multiple characters who are a part of different toy-boxes found in medium such as comics, cartoons and films. Yes, I’m still talking about toys, I’m no stranger to talking about my toys like they are people sometimes, as this assists me in making my photos, and also with my music taste being so wide it helps me create and edit once again. I guess that you could say I like to develop on what I have learnt and find new ways to capture, in hopes of provoking feeling in photographs. These can be from humour to even childhood nostalgia.’

Top: Deadpool vs TMNT
Bottom left: Jumper Trooper
Bottom right: Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

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All words and photos © Jolly Bearded Promotions

18th May 2020

 

Sleaford Mods – From Jobseeker to Rich List

By Ryan Bell

Today, Sleaford Mods release collection/compilation All That Glue, which pieces together some fan favourites as well as some unreleased tracks, as a retrospective of the previous decade. It’s a little tricky to write about Sleaford Mods, the social/political angle of their music has been written about so often and so well by so many music writers in the past, that avoiding repeating what has already been said is easier said than done.

With All That Glue in mind, I can only offer a personal account of how I came to be enthralled by one of Britain’s most vital groups of the 2010s.

In 2015, I had tickets to see Noel Gallagher in Manchester. Seeing him in his hometown, as an Oasis fan, it promised to be electric. But a few months before the gig, I was flicking through my phone, trawling the NME website and I came upon a headline that, to paraphrase, went a little something like ‘SLEAFORD MODS SAY NOEL GALLAGHER HAS BLOOD ON HIS HANDS’.

As I mentioned, I was geared up for this gig, I’d put my Adidas Gazelles and my best coat ready to one side and everything. So, feeling especially defensive my initial though was ‘Pfft, who the bloody hell are Sleaford Mods?’. Clicking the link at the bottom of the page sent me to their tune Tied Up In Nottz

‘The smell of piss is so strong it smells like decent bacon / Kevin’s getting footloose on the overspill / under the piss station’

The opening lines.

I probably played it through about three times back to back, just to check my ears were working properly. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, whether it was brilliant, or it was rubbish, or even whether I liked it or not. This is who’s slagging off Noel Gallagher? Soon after what was probably my fourth or fifth listen, it all suddenly made complete sense, and then shortly after another four or five listens, nothing but Sleaford Mods made sense – especially Noel Gallagher.

I’m not writing this to slag off Noel, I’m still a fan. The gig in Manchester was great as expected (Johnny Marr turned up which was nice), and I’ve seen him again since (though Mods’ ally Baxter Dury upstaged him for my money). But Tied Up In Nottz, which features on the All That Glue compilation, wiped out pretty much everything else I was listening to at the time, it was blisteringly unpleasant yet darkly comical and seemed to accurately expose and unite a faction of the United Kingdom in the same way Anarchy in the UK, Ghost Town or even Live Forever did.

Strangely enough it happened that my first Sleaford Mods gig was exactly one week before the heralded Noel gig. Though Sleaford Mods weren’t playing to a sold-out Manchester Arena, they were performing in my hometown, Wakefield in West Yorkshire, in the upstairs space of city pub venue The Hop.

But that gig was electric.
(Despite accidentally wandering into a pre-gig meeting with management and Mods’ frontman Jason Williamson – once the manager realised I was nothing to do with anything, I was politely asked to wait downstairs with everyone else).

The documentary Bunch of Kunst followed the band around this time, and Jason described what I believe was the Wakefield gig, or at least a gig on the same tour run as “being a real release for people”.

It was true, it was packed full to the rafters by the time Sleaford Mods came on stage, the crowd mainly comprised of men of a similar age to the band themselves, whom were both in their early to mid-forties. It’s funny looking back, I didn’t realise then but I was perhaps a little nostalgic for something I was never even a part of, being so invested in Oasis, The Stone Roses etc., but the group which I used as a distancing tool from that was a band comprised of men of a similar age, of the same generation at least. A generation who likely spent the mid 1990s unified by Britpop, cheering on Gazza striding on goal, with the hope of New Labour and a shift in hope being welcomed in by Halliwell flying the flag; who could blame  millions for believing they would too would ‘Live Forever’? However, not everyone emerged from the millennium millionaire rockstars with a pad in Ibiza, and instead some of that generation were here, sweating out a rage on the top floor of a pub to the new street sound of clunking basslines and the spitfire sprechgesang gospel of everything being a bit shit.

‘Can of Strongbow I’m a mess /  Desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression / supplied to me by the NHS / It’s anyone’s guess how I’ll go / I suck on a roll up – pull your jeans up / Fuck off, I’m going home’

Sleaford Mods most infamous moment is undoubtedly Jobseeker, thankfully included in All That Glue after being missing from streaming services for a good while, and its title alone raises eyebrows even before hearing Williamson’s expletive tirade against the ‘smelly bastards who need executing!’ and the crass confession that since his last signing on date, he’s done ‘fuck all, and sat about the house wanking’.

But like many Mods’ tunes, beneath the toilet grime and sniping verbals, it’s an honest reflection of an all too familiar reality to many, neither patronising nor sycophantic, it’s too tangible to be meticulously calculated, and its timing for me was paramount.

I’d not long left the job centre myself when Sleaford Mods entered my life, and the lyrics documenting the disillusionment of the experience struck me particularly strongly; no other band I was aware of chose to discuss the feeling of finding that your ‘signing on time is supposed to be ten past eleven, and it’s now twelve o’clock’.

I’d never seen anyone personify frustration as perfectly on stage as Williamson in my life, even when watching ‘punk’ bands you could sense an element of posturing about it; but this was the real deal, articulated frustration so strong it burned all five senses.

If punk did away with the guitar solo back in ’77, then Sleaford Mods made the guitar itself redundant for a while, after the gig it seemed like nothing more than a masturbatory prop that would dilute the primal rage that drove the music, and I say that as a guitarist myself.

Beatmaker Andrew Fearn stands at stage right, nodding along to every song, his laptop resting atop stacked empty beer crates which is next to a filled beer crate for himself, and any audience member brazen enough to ask. Williamson stands centre, but does not stay still, constantly gyrating, twitching, spasming, at times laugh out loud hilarious with barnyard animal grunts and silly walks and in the next minute genuinely threatening, the spit and sweat lashing from his beetroot face cropped by his ruler straight fringe; he’s part Benny Hill, part Iggy Pop, but always enthralling.

This is still the case today, or at least the last time I saw Sleaford Mods, on the 2019 tour at Holmfirth Picturedrome, and visually not much has changed in the four years between first and latest. Fearn still bops along in the background, bottle in hand, though Williamson’s knocked drinking on the head and taken up weightlifting, which has only added more energy, more humour and more athletic ability to his arsenal as a performer.

The tunes though, despite what some may have predicted, have developed album by album. The seething rage and grim description that made Austerity Dogs and Divide & Exit so exhilarating remains on recent releases English Tapas and Eton Alive, but it’s obvious that both halves of the group have progression in mind.

You can track it through their venture into the lyrically surreal such as Tarantula Deadly Cargo or their unique stab at a pop choruses TCR as well as the ingenious loop of an off-licence buzzer and an iPhone alarm on Drayton Manored and Discourse respectively, and the final track of All That Glue; When You Come Up to Me being probably the least Mods track the Mods have done yet. Built upon some synth blips sounding like a lost gem from the new-wave era, it’s a track that would have felt highly unlikely back in the top room of a Wakefield pub in 2015, as Williamson sings throughout, his voice miles away from his usual bark, here sounding somewhat earnest and a little vulnerable.

‘Maybe it’s the way we feel and / I wanna love the sky and the universe / But that don’t get the door round here and / It don’t even come close too”

All That Glue oversees a massively creative period for the group which saw five studio albums, two previous compilations, four EPs and a live album. Cynics could argue it’s a little unnecessary, but it’s testament to the band that personally, I would have a hard time swapping any of the previously released tracks out, though there’s many more I would want to add.

So if anything it’s a celebration, not a greatest hits as Williamson has stressed to make clear. And so cheers to Sleaford Mods, one of the most vital bands of the decade for my money, and here’s to the next decade of modernism.

More from Sleaford Mods and links to buy All That Glue here

Words and photos by Ryan Bell

15th May 2020

The Lakeland Blogs

The Lakeland Photo Blogs / 2015-2019
By Derek Rickman

I’ve made numerous visits to the Lake District with my brothers over the last few years and, with the lockdown still in place and no prospect of any further hikes there, it felt like a good time to compile these blogs which I’ve been posting on my Instagram account. I’ve edited and expanded the text and sourced additional images for the purpose of the article. I’ve used iPhone 7 Plus and Canon SX for the photography.

Breakfast at Rydal   26/09/19

We’d just completed the The Coffin Route and reached Rydal Water where we were looking forward to a late breakfast. We were in good spirits because we’d just heard that England had beaten New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup. My brothers have unparalleled expertise in finding the best spot for setting up a camping stove (I’m usually just crashing about in the background with my camera). The light rain that had followed us from Grasmere was still falling as we unpacked everything but the trees provided excellent shelter. We usually have croissants or cereal bars with our hot drinks though I think we had rock cakes at Rydal, they were pretty good! We sipped our coffee becalmed by the tranquility of our surroundings, the gentle lapping of the water and the flurry of a distant swan the only sounds breaking the chill air. The clouds were still lingering on the fells as we departed but the light seemed sharper as we traversed the breadth of the lake and we were treated to a pageant of autumnal hues reflected in the lake below Silver How.

Scafell Pike   28/04/19

This was our reward for the long arduous trek up Scafell Pike last week. We were incredibly fortunate to experience these views as we had arrived at Wasdale Head the previous day in pouring rain, and the forecast for our ascent wasn’t favourable. Luckily the cloud base had lifted as we approached the rock strewn summit which is England’s highest (978m). We could see the whole range of peaks from Eskdale in the west to Blencathra in the east.

In the first photo the clouds are just clearing the jagged teeth of Crinkle Crags with Lake Windermere a thin silver ribbon emerging on the left. There were breathtaking views of Bowfell cradled in the clouds and the remote and mysterious Styhead Tarn which sits at the foot of Green Gable like a frozen teardrop in the encompassing wilderness.

Easedale and Helm Crag   30/08/18

I really enjoyed this climb up to Helm Crag through the pastures and woodland of Easedale. I understand now why this part of Lakeland inspired so much of Wordsworth’s poetry. We passed the house at Lancrigg where he wrote much of his famous work The Prelude. It’s in a beautiful setting and overlooks some of the finest scenery in Lakeland. I can only imagine how it would look in early spring. It requires little effort to reach Helm Crag but despite its low elevation the views are exhilarating, and there are plenty of jagged rocks to scramble over to satisfy the more adventurous among us. We had coffee in a sheltered crag below the summit and watched the sunlight piercing the clouds above Grasmere’s glimmering Lake. As we descended I felt the spirits of many contented souls lingering on the fells who, like me, passed through this glorious landscape rewarded and enriched.

The Bowder Stone   23/04/17

Weighing 2000 tonnes and standing 9 metres high, the Bowder Stone is an andesite lava boulder which can be found in secluded woodland below Bowder Crag in the jaws of Borrowdale. Either a glacial erratic or the result of a cataclysmic rockfall, this geological behemoth is a favourite with amateur rock climbers as it has a low level under-hang. There were guys with climbing ropes and a mattress placed underneath when we were there. However there is a ladder available for anyone without crampons who wants to stand on the top. There’s just enough space for two people standing upright.

Above Buttermere   28/09/18

If you’re a photographer hiking in Lakeland there will be countless viewpoints and perspectives to consider on any ascent, but it’s important to maintain a balance between enjoying the experience of the hike and weighing up photo opportunities. On this occasion I rapidly discarded my trekking pole and ran 30 metres up a slope leaving a trail of dust (much to my brothers’ consternation) to capture this view of Buttermere and the distant sentinels. Despite the heavy cloud and diminishing light, I really like the textures and hues set against the blue water, and the lone wayfaring tree breaks the outline of the lake.

Great Rigg   22/04/17

The Fairfield Horseshoe is a classic Lakeland route and encompasses many outstanding viewpoints, Great Rigg being one of them. It’s the third highest peak (766m) out of a total of 8 on the round. It sounds like a tough day’s hiking but once you’ve made the initial climb from Ambleside or Rydal, negotiating each of the peaks doesn’t seem like such hard work. This was one of Wainwright’s favourite ridge walks. The distance is around 16k and takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete. There are boggy areas but generally the paths are well defined. I would recommend it to anyone who is reasonably fit and is contemplating their first hiking adventure in the Lakes.

Cloudburst at Coppermines   02/10/17

A day of contrasts and fluctuating emotions. It had been some months since our Mother had passed away and knowing how happy it made her to see the three of us hiking together added a touch of poignancy to this outing. We left the outskirts of Coniston climbing through dark swathes of cloud, a silent procession in a ceaseless downpour. Church Beck thundered in our ears and the boulder strewn paths gushed beneath our feet. The whole fabric of the landscape seemed to be reverberating with the force of the deluge. I imagined water coursing through fissures in the mountain and filling hidden chambers in the bedrock. The heavily laden trees shuddered in the rasping wind, showering our faces with icy droplets and twig debris, but a steely resolve had set in and we marched on grimly. We crossed Miner’s Bridge and paused, the rain still unfolding in silver veils across the heather. I smeared the beads from my device and watched the clouds drift over the ruined walls and spoil heaps of a derelict past. Yet the mountain had begun to quell the storm, dark shapes dissolved into flickering waves of sunlight on the shoulder of the mountain. As we approached the Tarn, the wild beauty of our surroundings began to reveal itself. The cobalt surface rippled in the breeze and shards of light danced between half sunken rocks. Far on the other side through the coiling mist a thin ribbon of water fell into an impenetrable gully. By the time we reached the summit of The Old Man there were groups of fellow hikers chatting noisily amongst themselves, relieved like us that they had conquered the elements. We sat beneath the cairn drying out and warming our hands on our coffee cups. A solitary bird soared over the deep blue of the tarn as the clouds parted and we felt the spreading warmth of the sun. It seemed as if a weight we’d been carrying had suddenly lifted. I looked at my brothers, both silently staring into the distance. Through half closed eyes I softly recited the words to a Wolf Alice song..

‘Go Heavenward
Like all earth angels should’

For Mum

Helvellyn   15/05/16

When I look back at all the hikes we’ve done, this was the toughest but also the most rewarding. I suffer with mild vertigo so negotiating a crowded Striding Edge and scaling The Chimney were big personal achievements. Helvellyn is the most popular route in Lakeland but there’s no doubt it strikes fear into some hikers. (There were 13 deaths there the year we climbed it). As we were tackling the first part of Striding Edge a guy gave up the ghost and promptly slid down to the Tarn butt first and later another hiker got crag-fast on The Chimney and had to be cajoled off the rock face. We all felt like we’d been walking a tightrope by the time we scrambled up to Helvellyn summit (950m) so there was much relief and celebration as we enjoyed the views. But we still had Swirral Edge to contend with before we could relax. Although it’s a shorter ridge compared to SE, it needs to be treated with respect and I was soon scrambling on my hands and knees as we descended for a well earned coffee break. After the thrills and spills of the mountain it was good to cool our boots and watch the silent drift of the clouds above Red Tarn. It was pretty much plain sailing all the way back to Glenridding and we had time for a brief stop at the tree fringed Lanty’s Tarn where for a few precious moments I sat in the dappled shade by the water’s edge in a state of zen like calm.

To Future Days

A slight air of melancholy descends on me when a day’s hiking is nearly over but it is always tempered by a sense of fulfilment and wellbeing. Those feelings are magnified by Cumbrian Ale and a lively retelling of the experience just gained. In many ways a walk in the fells is self perpetuating, diverging paths and peaks tempt the eye, new perspectives spring up and vie for your attention imploring you to explore further. In spring I stood on Scafell gazing across a fractured landscape to a distant tarn sparkling in the sunlight. Beyond it lay a deep corridor of verdant slopes caressed by fleeting cloud shadows. How I longed to feel the wildness of that place and look into that mirrored pool. Moments like these sink deep into the soul and provide a rich visual harvest to be replayed on long artless days when there is nothing but work and idle chatter. So perhaps those feelings of melancholy are misplaced, for it is not an ending, merely another beginning.

For Martin and Trevor

All words and photos © Derek Rickman

You can follow Derek’s photography journey on Instagram and read his previous In Focus feature here

14th May 2020

Preview – Rockaway Beach Festival

Rockaway Beach Festival, Bognor Regis, 8th-10th January 2021

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I’m daring to put together a festival preview, given the situation we find ourselves in. However, this is not scheduled to happen until early next year and the line-up details so far fill me with some kind of hope that there really is something to look forward to. Returning to its now regular if somewhat unlikely home at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis, Rockaway Beach continues to pull in a fearsome list of acts to hang out by the fruit machines and, although we’re early in the announcement rollout, 2021 looks exceptional so far.

Breaking Glass favourites Walt Disco, Lazarus Kane and Italia 90 are all set to perform, along with other artists we’ve caught playing great shows in the last year including Porridge Radio, Life and the illustrious Fat White Family. Add to this the much lauded and guaranteed to have everyone dancing PVA, fresh punk trio Big Joanie and alt-rock royalty The Vaselines and you have yourselves a party of serious proportions.

Lazarus Kane 

Walt Disco

Porridge Radio, Italia 90

LIFE

Fat White Family

Keep your fingers tightly crossed that this is far enough away to happen. There are obviously lots more acts to be confirmed but, even based on this initial outlay, Bognor in the new year is looking very attractive.

Get more details as they come through and ticket information here

Words and photos by Siobhan

13th May 2020

 

 

 

Photography – The Very Familiar

We’re delighted to introduce Geoff Maxted, a freelance writer and photographer. Here, he imparts some practical reflections and ideas on how to get the best out of shooting in your local area – especially when that’s the only place you can go…

Lockdown Breakout!
Photographing The Very Familiar

No, I’m definitely not encouraging people to burst out of their coronavirus bubble, but it is a fact that we can get outside and take daily exercise. That’s the ideal time for a bit of breakout photography to find something new in that which we see every day.

That’s the catch; our daily lives are filled with the familiar. We go about our day to day work and play at similar times and on similar routes. That’s how it has to be. High days and holidays define the different but mostly we remain in the mundane. This routine has been magnified during the 2020 virus crisis and more than ever before our location variety is restricted.

Familiar Surroundings

As many keen photographers will have realised time and time again, the more familiar something is the less we see in it. There is no possibility of photographing the same place over and over again and still strive for originality we assume, but is that just looking at the big picture? Are there in fact new ways to document that which is familiar and be able to make a set of worthwhile images. Your toughest critic is yourself; if you like what you do, others may too. These are shots I made during the winter and into the situation we find ourselves now. We have to make the best of what we have access to.

A Respectful Distance

Those fortunate enough to live in rural areas perhaps have a little more leeway, but the majority live in suburban or urban areas surrounded by neighbours and strangers who might take exception to an inquisitive lens. In short, don’t push your luck in the quest for the different image; if in doubt ask and above all stay safe.

The Weather

If there’s one thing we are not short of in this country it is weather. We get plenty of it. We can experience snow, rain, sunshine and winds, sometimes on the same day. Now, in this climate-sensitive era the boundaries between the seasons may be blurred but they are still there.

If travel opportunities are limited, the local park holds many photographic secrets if inspected closely enough. It may have small areas of woodland, a lake or a broad expanse of open country and it changes all the time. The seasons are magnified by nature; there is winter’s cold hand and new life in spring. Then there are the people; the regulars, the dog walkers and the exercisers: People who are often happy to strike up a conversation and maybe even agree to a photo or two.

Parks demonstrate seasonal weather very well. Chilly frost and snow-covered ground devoid of life contrasts with rain-soaked vistas and baked earth festooned with sweltering bodies. Mud can cake boots and pollen invade noses and eyes. Expect snowdrops and crocuses early on, followed by the nodding heads of daffodils. Watch as the male swan chases off last year’s fledged offspring at nest-building time. Avian visitors arrive for summer or are perhaps just passing through for warmer climes. Ice cream vendors appear. Cafes open up (in the not too distant future, we hope), but in all too short a time the nights start drawing in and we begin the slow descent into winter once again.

Nature and human lifestyle offer boundless opportunities for photography, if you look beyond the obvious scenic views and sunny days. Explore more, delve, look, listen and ask.

The Personal Project

Try to move away from random shooting. Set targets and plan a series of images of a certain type or place, whatever the local environment. A set of themed images makes for a good creative whole. Winter gloom in evocative black and white or summer’s lease in glorious colour. Local hedgerows are a haven for wildlife as much as for festivals of litter. Does your area need cleaning up?

Would the series be of interest to the local press or community group? Is the topic about your community or garden or shopping precinct? Every picture tells a story, at least according to Rod Stewart, but a series delivers the whole album.

Down Our Street

There’s a tendency these days for newly built estates to be bland and featureless, but during the building there are plenty of images to explore as the landscape changes. Does the work despoil in any way sensitive areas and is this worth documenting and reporting? Progress often brings dissent among the locals. They might even protest. Be there with your camera. However, once the properties have bedded in they begin to take on the patina of other peoples’ lives. Gardens change for better or for worse and community activities increase, all of which goes to demonstrate how much an area can change and how much variety it can offer.

There is much to interest the enquiring eye in older, more established areas too. The sweep of a tree-lined boulevard or the faded elegance of a Victorian terrace; the open plan nature of a developer’s sixties’ dream settlement, possibly featuring ‘award-winning’ high rises and suspect pedestrian underpasses that have all seen better days. Neon-lit night-time cityscapes and colourful markets; reflections in a puddle after rain.

There is, in the local high street, mixed shopping, street vendors, a rising tide of charity shops and forlorn ‘To Let’ signs on boarded up premises. Small independent shops, especially good old-fashioned ironmongers or butchers’ shops are a disappearing breed, it’s time to document their passing, like the photographer who once shot so many old-fashioned Woolworth shop fronts before that famous name faded away.

So, a good long walk around your local area with eyes peeled, an idea in mind and a camera at the ready is a great way to occupy your permitted exercise time while working on your fitness. Work to see beyond the obvious and poke your nose around the back. Don’t venture alone into troubled areas and don’t be too blatant. Adopt the guise of the seasoned street photographer and study their methods.

Your street. Your district. Your town. Maybe it’s not all that familiar after all.

All words and photos © Geoff Maxted 2020

You can find and follow more of Geoff’s photography on Instagram 

11th May 2020

In Lockdown with Nigel King

It feels very fitting to close this week’s quarantine features with photographer Nigel King, giving us a glimpse into how one community is managing to get together whilst following all the rules on staying apart…

‘I’m Nigel King from Nottingham.

Local residents near to me organised a socially distant game of community lockdown bingo. This was my opportunity to get my camera out at last and shoot an actual event rather than just the cats and plants in my back garden. It was a rather jolly event with everyone wanting to do it again soon. I certainly hope so.

During the lockdown I’ve been spending time looking back at shots from my archive library, doing a bit of reprocessing where I think I could make some improvements now. I’ve also been having a go with my macro lens with some not entirely successful attempts at focus stacking in Photoshop.

When it’s all over I’m looking forward to getting back to the live music, festivals and other public events that we are normally well served with here in Nottingham.’

All photos are taken and copyrighted by Nigel. You can see more of Nigel’s work, including his music and events photography, on his website. For regular posts, find and follow Nigel on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Links to the rest of our series of features with photographers in lockdown can be found here

8th May 2020

In Lockdown with Brian Smith

Today’s lockdown feature is with Brian Smith, whose love of photography across a range of subjects and styles is apparent in this varied collection of shots…

‘My name is Brian Smith, I’m located in Oldbury, West Midlands and am an enthusiastic amateur photographer. I run a photo club at work which includes both our suppliers and clients. I have a mixed approach to photography from still life to portrait/person, and love low key images.

I have been working from home now for five weeks, only going out for essentials or taking the wife to work. It’s been challenging with some days more productive than others.

I love all things old and have included some photos of my 1943 German typewriter; if only it could say what it has written

Following on from old things, I’ve Photoshopped some images to look old

My favourite images are low key so I had to include some of those too

And lastly, wildlife with birds in our garden…’

All photos are taken and copyrighted by Brian. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can find and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Links to the rest of our series of features with photographers in lockdown can be found here

7th May 2020

New Music – The Ninth Wave + Fontaines DC

New releases – The Ninth Wave / Fontaines DC

The Ninth Wave – Happy Days! (single)

Released today, The Ninth Wave’s latest single Happy Days! suggests a more experimental tone for their upcoming EP. Skillfully aided on production by Horrors’ frontman and all round black leather clad legend Faris Badwan, the track strolls across a backdrop of instrumental chasms, a foot still in 80s’ electro-glam but a step out to a more immersive, pulsating overall sound. Also present is the influence of Max Heyes who mixed the track; echoes of past clients Bloc Party’s early work notable on the gradual build of drums. One of the most exciting bands around, with this track The Ninth Wave continue to challenge the expected as they undoubtedly head to bigger things.

The band explain, ‘Happy Days! is a song of ups and downs. At its core, the lyrics shine a torchlight on the murky highs and lows of life. We wanted to make something harsher and more direct than songs we had written before, and this came together relatively quickly.

The flow of the song really captures what we were trying to get across with the lyrics: there’s a rumbling undertow throughout the whole song, interspersed with ethereal ambient sections and culminating in big nasty crushing beats. We were all agreed that this should be the first song from our new EP to let people hear, and hopefully they’re not frightened away.’

Listen to Happy Days! here

The Ninth Wave

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Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death (single)

Fontaines DC had quite the year in 2019, their debut LP Dogrel  high on many album of the year lists. Jumping straight back in with new music, the band have shared A Hero’s Death, title track for their second album due in July. The trademark spoken lyrics are back, the repeated refrain ‘Life ain’t always empty’ a harsh reality mixed with a glimmer of hope as things currently stand. Musically, the backing riff is more Strokes than the early punk simplicity of previous tracks, the intro a promise of something special that doesn’t disappoint on arrival. The starring role in the video is taken by Aidan Gillen, a clear indicator of the band’s popularity. It feels like this track is building the suspense of a rollercoaster climb, the rest of the journey will inevitably be worth waiting for.

Talking about the song and video, vocalist Grian Chatten says, ‘The song is a list of rules for the self, they’re principles for self-prescribed happiness that can often hang by a thread. It’s ostensibly a positive message, but with repetition comes different meanings, that’s what happens to mantras when you test them over and over. There’s this balance between sincerity and insincerity as the song goes on and you see that in the music video as well. That’s why there’s a lot of shifting from major key to minor key. The idea was influenced by a lot of the advertising I was seeing – the repetitive nature of these uplifting messages that take on a surreal and scary feel the more you see them.

The title came from a line in a play by Brendan Behan, and I wrote the lyrics during a time where I felt consumed by the need to write something else to alleviate the fear that I would never be able follow up Dogrel. But more broadly it’s about the battle between happiness and depression, and the trust issues that can form tied to both of those feelings.’

Watch the video for A Hero’s Death here

Fontaines DC

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Words by Siobhan

6th May 2020

 

 

In Lockdown with Steve White

Taking a fresh look at the everyday things around him, photographer Steve White’s isolation shots take on a documentary style, capturing the unusual times we’re living in…

‘My name is Steve White and I’m in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, with my wife and twin daughters.

I’d normally be out shooting gigs a couple of times a week in Leeds, Middlesbrough, Stockton and York and then spending far too much time processing all the images.

Lockdown has been an interesting time so far. My day job is a teacher and the transition to online teaching and learning was a very steep learning curve for myself, students and a lot of parents of those students. I’m missing the gigs. Rumours that venues, clubs and pubs will be one of the last things to reopen isn’t good news but if it keeps people safe, then so be it.

On a positive note it’s given me much more time to spend with my family and it’s been great spending more evenings together. I’ve also spent too much money buying music by bands I’ve now got more time to listen to.

The last time I picked up my DSLR was to shoot The Boomtown Rats in Minehead at the beginning of March. Since the lockdown I’ve just been documenting daily life with my phone or my Olympus. Walks around our now deserted town, daily exercise strolls, home haircuts, games in the garden. Photographing the things I always notice but rarely shoot – sunlight glinting through a sprinkler, car parks, daft shadow shapes. Anything that catches my eye. I suppose it’s just a record of a time in history I hope we never have to go through again.’

All photos are taken and copyrighted by Steve. To see more of his work check out his Flickr site and follow him on Instagram. 

Links to the rest of our series of features with photographers in lockdown can be found here

6th May 2020