Tuesday, 21 October 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Life and Style Lessons Courtesy of Gwen Stefani

Find the original post HERE

To mark the recommencement of Gwen Stefani’s solo career (if you haven’t checked out her new single ‘Baby Don’t Lie’ yet, where have you been?) let’s all remember the vital lifestyle lessons this couture rock goddess has taught us so far…

The definition of Harajuku (“Super cute in Japanese!” – ‘Harajuku Girls’)

How to style out a pair of hoop earrings

That thou shalt not be a Hollaback Girl

How to live it up with you’re a Rich Girl (a.k.a. pay day) 

How to look flashy 

How to look trashy

How to make a chunky chain necklace look cute

 How to rock knuckle-dusters

What a killer set of abs look like

That life is all about being brave and taking risks 

How to wear statement necklaces

And - above all - how to spell bananas 

Get Gwen's look!


Sunday, 19 October 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Britney Spears Piece Of Me Live Review

Find the original post HERE

Seeing Britney Spears live holds every possibility of being an ugly affair. But seeing her play show number 32 as part of her Las Vegas residency? This could be hideous.
Like the hoards of 20-something women who dominate Britney’s audience tonight (and, one suspects, every night), I’ve grown up with her. The last time I attended a Britney Spears concert she was 19 and still a reported virgin. I was 11 and believed it.
Whilst her previous post-breakdown tours felt exploitative, Britney’s ‘Piece Of Me’ show is a celebration of her pop music milestones and a rapid-fire set list is required to get through them all. Some of her earlier hits are melded together, ‘…Baby One More Time’ into ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’ is sent from the Max Martin heavens, whilst others are re-arranged to match her new EDM pop sound. The vocals are not live but no one is a fan of Britney based on her voice alone.
Dancing was always her trump card and she’s still playing it. There is nothing spontaneous about her performance (how could there be? This is show 32, remember?) but the choreography is sharp and to be admired. In the flesh she looks far more dazzling than the tabloids would have you believe – she’s athletic, smiley and brighter of eye than I was anticipating.
Britney’s tours have always been renowned for their theatricality and she does not disappoint here: she varies from playing a flying angel for ‘Everytime’ to a dominatrix for ‘Freakshow’; she leaps from the heightened branch of a tree that grows onstage for ‘Toxic’; and reduces the crowd to a swaying mass for a ballad version of the now frighteningly prophetic ‘Lucky’.
Make no mistake, ‘Piece Of Me’ is no nostalgia fest, it’s a masterfully transmitted message that Britney Spears was and still is a true pop great. One particularly affecting intermission in the show sums it up: the multifarious television screens of the ‘Hold It Against Me’ video are re-created and simultaneously blast out her canonical made-for-MTV images. The impact, like this concert, and like the Britney Spears phenomenon as a whole, is overwhelming.
Written for Classic Pop (and a massive middle finger to anyone who doesn't appreciate the value of Ms Britney Spears) 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Britney Spears' Greatest Lingerie Moments

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Having launched her own line of lingerie and nightwear earlier this month, we’ve been reminiscing about all of the most fabulous bras and panties Britney Spears has rocked throughout her career. So many bra tops, so little time.
The ‘…Baby One More Time’ Sports Bras
The unbuttoned school shirt and it’s resultant exposed black bra may have been the school uniform that launched a thousand ships, but it was the brightly coloured sports bras that Britney wore when outside of the classroom that we still want to wear to the gym today. Still can’t decide whether the neon pink or yellow one is better.

The Black Push Up Bra
For her 1999 debut Rolling Stone cover, Britney Spears was photographed by David LaChapelle for what would be one of the magazine’s most iconic covers. Those silky pink sheets, the strategically placed Teletubby and that halter neck bra announced the arrival of a dangerously knowing teen dream.

The Panties Over The Jeans

To announce her no longer being a “little girl” Britney announced her new edgier pop sound with the help of The Neptunes and heightened provocative image with a whole lot of body oil in the video for ‘Slave 4 U’. By this point she was virtually the spokesgirl for low-cut jeans and she clearly couldn’t wear anything underneath them, so topped off her hip huggers with a pink lace thong.

The Dream Within A Dream Encore Bra

For the finale of Britney’s lavish Dream Within A Dream tour she did three notable things: 1) She murdered ‘…Baby One More Time’ by giving it a ballad/techno ballad makeover 2) Got soaked to the skin thanks to two tonnes of water raining down onto the stage and 3) Beat Rihanna to wearing a barely-there jewelled bra by eight years (and made it look so much better too).

The Neon Twin Set

Hot on the heels of her Las Vegas marriage and annulment, Blender magazine’s January 2004 issue starring Britney in a neon demi bra, matching thong (as exposed by low slung jeans) and an undone leather jacket solidified her new bad girl attitude.

The Onyx Hotel Bed Wear

In what was a racy live concert all round, Britney’s The Onyx Hotel tour reached a new level of peep-meets-pop-show plateau when she performed ‘Breath On Me’. She entered the stage via a pole, wore a silky pink underwear set and black stockings, and rolled around a bed with a backup dancer.

The Fur Shrug Accented Underwear

Not only did Britney Spears co-direct and choreograph the video for ‘Do Somethin’’ she also styled it entirely by herself. Scenes of Britney and her girl gang decked out in Juicy Couture in the club were interspersed with Spears goofing around in black undies with an added fur bolero and Hello Kitty ice around her neck.

The Casual Lounge Wear

Britney showed she can do off-duty sexy too whilst cooking up breakfast in the video for ‘Womanizer’. This soft, silky look can definitely be emulated thanks to The Intimate Britney Spears – pair items from the Anemone collection with the Clementine Kimono and you’re done.


Written for GALORE

DIGITAL WORDS / Pharrell Williams Live Review

Picture by Neil Lupic

At the age of 41 and with an estimated net worth of $80 million, why would Pharrell Williams bother submitting himself to the rigours of his first ever solo tour now?
Currently riding the third tidal wave of his career thanks to a hat-trick of some of the most successful singles in chart history ('Get Lucky', 'Blurred Lines' and 'Happy') he has somehow managed to better the stranglehold that he and his fellow Neptune, Chad Hugo, shared in the early '00s.
Apparently not content with his celebrated producer role or tenure as part of frap rap outfit N*E*R*D (as well as his multiple fashion lines and being the composer of McDonald's 'I'm Lovin' It' jingle), Williams has now completed his hand by proving himself as a standalone solo artist. He's no longer "feat Pharrell", he's "Pharrell Williams".
The set list for tonight's show is no problem. With so many hits to his name, the issue will most likely be deciding what not to play. The worry, though, is his voice. As sweet and smooth as his whispered falsetto tone is, can it truly stand up on it's own in a live setting, without any famous collaborators on hand to fill in the gaps?
As it turns out, even if Pharrell's voice is weaker than that of a seasoned pro, there really is no time to notice as this is one helluva fast paced, jam-packed gig.
He's backed up by two "incredible" backing singers, whom he rightly praises during the course of the night, and at no point does one wish Miley Cyrus was on hand to help out with 'Come Get It Bae' or that Justin Timberlake was waiting in the wings to complete 'Brand New'.
Every detail of Pharrell's tout ensemble tonight has been well considered. On his feet, his own-design, limited edition red Timberland boots. On his backside, some Adidas jeans taken from his collaborative range with the sports brand that sees their logo plastered brightly across the ass pockets. And I'm not sat close enough to verify, but I'm going to assume that he's doused in his unisex G I R L/Comme Des Garçon perfume as well. On his head, disappointingly, not thatVivienne Westwood Buffalo hat, but something slightly more compressed to the dimensions of a wide brimmed, round-topped fedora. Upon his chest, a vintage Stevie Nicks t-shirt. And on that Benjamin Button face of his, cleanly drawn lines of black kohl around his eyes. Take note boysand girls, as Pharrell Williams sets the fashion agenda for both sexes.
And the music is as perfect as his get up. 'Frontin'', his 2003 debut solo single, is dropped within the first five minutes. He plays a frantic selection of songs that he gave to other artists yet are unmistakably "Pharrell": 'Hot In Herre', 'I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)', 'Pass The Courvoisier', 'Beautiful', 'Drop It Like It's Hot' and 'Hollaback Girl'. Jesus — it's like having a dream, live action jukebox on shuffle.
An N*E*R*D medley — which sees Pharrell ask male fans from the audience to join him onstage for a dance and singalong to 'Rock Star' and 'Lap Dance', and then a separate selection of ladies to partake in 'She Wants To Move' (at the end of which he gives a warm to hug to each girl in turn) — heightens the night's impossibly entertaining vibe further.
However, the faction of the crowd who have come to see "the guy who does the 'Happy' song" are somewhat bemused. A family sat just behind me, who I guess were drawn to Pharrell following his soundtracks for the adorable Despicable Me films, sit lifeless all evening until he breaks out his more recent million-selling hits towards the very end. And even then the result is a mother awkwardly bopping along to 'Blurred Lines' with her awkward adolescent son.
Speaking of which… That song. Never before has a song of such phenomenal success been simulataneously lauded and derided with equal measure as 'Blurred Lines'. Considering the vocal feminist views that have inspired Pharrell's current album G I R L, his discomfort at airing even just a verse of this Robin Thicke-tainted number is clear. "We're all animals," he knowingly changes one line to say, and allows the crowd, who are too busy dancing to engage in a debate about the predatory nature of 'Blurred Lines'' lyrics, to finish the rest. Thankfully, the disco redeemer 'Get Lucky' rushes in soon enough to save Williams' blushes.
Two further Daft Punk-assisted gems see him staging a gorgeously laid back encore with 'Lose Yourself To Dance' and the crowning moment of his latest LP, 'Gust Of Wind' — all the while dressed in a jacket on par with the sparkle factor of Michael Jackson's single glove.
And so, it finally arrives. That other song. Pharrell precedes the gospel-pop of 'Happy' with an uplifting, if overly optimistic, speech about making the world a better place. And yes, we do clap along but as much as a cultural behemoth as 'Happy' has become, tonight has served as a reminder that it is not, by far, Pharrell Williams' greatest achievement, merely his most popular song right now.
Written for Rock's Backpages 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Alisa Ueno Interview

I interviewed Japanese IT girl Alisa Ueno for My Flash Trash.

Find the original post HERE

Please describe Fig & Viper.
Japanese women’s fashion brand
. Six retail stores in Japan

What is your day-to-day routine like at work?
Desk work-shooting-meeting

When you are designing do you ever have a particular person in mind that you want to wear those pieces? Or do you create according to your own tastes?
Both. I have muses on each season for example, Rita Ora was my muse for 2013 S/S. But not for all clothing because I have to make many stuff including mainstream on trend items and stuff.

You’ve previously said that London girls have a good eye for fashion. What do you like about London girls’ style?
They’re really good at mixing used clothing with original new stuff,
and the way they dress up is so unpredictable but natural at the same time, London girls are  phenomenal! Also, since London is such a fancy city, maybe that is why they are so fashionable.

What first got you interested in fashion?
I’ve been really into fashion since when I was in kindergarten. But when I started to model, that's when I really got what fashion is.

Who is your all-time fashion idol?
No one in particular.

Which aspects of your work life do like the most – modelling, designing or DJing?
Designing! I love all of my jobs, but designing is my main job and it is my expression.

What are your top tips for girls who want to get into fashion design?
Quick actions and play hard! Always create your own lifestyle and self-plan!

What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
Walked on the red carpet of “Transformer” Japan premier as a Japanese guest. Won a “best hair awards” as a new style section! Both of them were my pride achievements in Japan.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

PRINTED WORDS / Iconic Magazine #16 OUT NOW

The latest issue of Iconic magazine is out now. 

The current issue is dedicated, in a very timely fashion, to Neverland. 

Neverland was perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Michael Jackson's private life and much is uncovered about the construction of this dream home in the issue through conversations with many people who had a hand in creating it. 

Iconic even managed to acquire exclusive designs for a water park that was set to be installed at Neverland... 

My contribution to the issue is an essay looking at Michael Jackson's identification with Peter Pan.

Order your copy of Iconic magazine HERE

Also, if you do not support the sale of Neverland, please take the time to sign THIS PETITION 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Kate Bush 'Before The Dawn' Live Review

Find the original post HERE

There’s no need to explain this phenomenon in detail. Kate Bush breaking her 35 years of being conspicuous by absence from the stage is a big deal. The biggest deal. One particularly lively Kate Bush fan forum quite rightly has an active thread asking where Before The Dawn “ranks in your emotional experiences”. This is not hyperbole. My first draft of this review was a page sodden with tears and drool. Before The Dawn rates pretty damn highly in my own record of “emotional experiences” as it is exactly that – not a gig, not a show, not a musical but an “experience” in every sense of the word.

Where to begin? For anyone who has been lucky enough to be immersed in Before The Dawn will understand the difficulty in expressing the scale and impact of the night. It is structured into three sequences – the first sees Kate Bush fronting a band for a set of music, which seems straight forward enough… more on that momentarily. The second is the centrepiece, ‘The Ninth Wave’, Kate’s concept suite on the second side of Hounds Of Love brought to life and made flesh. The third, after an interval, is another swathe of conceptual beauty as Aerial’s continual ode to the power of nature, titled ‘A Sky Of Honey’, is played out musically and theatrically in full. If Before The Dawn had consisted of just one of these acts it would have been more than enough to justify the hype of Kate Bush’s live comeback, but the fact that she is spoiling her audiences’ three times over means you are left overawed by her generosity of talent, spirit and vision.

The straight opening set of six songs is nothing short of spectacular. Kate Bush grooves on stage barefoot, followed by her backing singers, with the warmest of smiles to a room of people all audibly holding their breath as they adjust to her presence and await her voice. ‘Lily’ is a perfectly selected first song. It’s only right that something from ‘The Red Shoes’ – an album written and recorded with touring in mind – should commence this momentous occasion. ‘Lily’ is given a storming makeover and packs more of punch live than anyone could have imagined. The sound of Kate Bush and her band is truly astounding; its richness fills the theatre to bursting point. The urgent pounding drums of ‘Hounds Of Love’ breaks through for song number two. How can a night get any better, any higher than the ‘Hounds Of’ bloody ‘Love’? The beaming grin on drummer Omar Hakim’s face summarises his and his fellow band members unmistakable joy to be playing these hallowed songs. Aerial’s ‘Joanni’ is next, followed by The Red Shoes’ ‘The Top Of The City’ which again, is realised on such an overwhelming scale that is feels utterly removed from the original recording. ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ inspires a thankful cheer from the audience before demanding revered silence.

All the while Kate Bush’s voice is nothing short of faultless. Just like you imagined it would be yet somehow even better. Her backing singers too make an impact all of their own. ‘Top Of The City’ sees them creating a powerful, vocal wall of sound. ‘King Of The Mountain’, another towering number, brings this section to an abrupt end – a curtain descends and an explosion of confetti rains down. Wait… Nope, it’s not confetti, its tissue paper inscribed with an extract from Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Coming Of Arthur’. “Wave after wave… Till last, a ninth one…”

And so it begins, after almost 30 years of waiting ‘The Ninth Wave’ is fully executed. A ship, The Celtic Deep, is in trouble. A lone, female passenger is missing. And there she is, Kate Bush adrift in a sea of darkness, framed by her orange life jacket singing straight to camera (for this is a filmed segment) ‘And Dream Of Sheep’. It is deeply affecting. The stage has been transformed into a fearsome underwater realm with only live fish skeletons to keep Kate company on her one woman voyage. The feats of theatricality reached in this portion of the show are astounding – Kate bursting suddenly through the floor of the stage as her outer body experience takes hold; the rocking ship that houses the ghostly domesticated scene of ‘Watching You Without Me’; the helicopter search light that swoops over the audience; Kate’s distressing cries of “Let me live!”; and finally, and most touchingly, her lone outstretched hand that secures her safe return to land.

“Thank you,” Bush beams to the standing mass before her – just one of the many, I lost count after standing ovation number 11, that the performance demands this evening. “We’re going to take a quick break, if that’s alright?” she humbly asks. We need to get our breath back more than she does, trust me. “What can possibly happen next?” I wonder. “What is she going to do? Fly?” I chuckle…

Yes, for her final act Kate Bush becomes one with her favourite musicians, the birds, and takes flight after being fitted with a cumbersome set of wings towards the dénouement of ‘A Sky Of Honey’. Again, it’s one of many magical moments that accompanies one her most impressive musical landscapes – puppets coming to life; showers of billowing feathers and tree trunks crashing through the night time set. It is at this point that Kate Bush’s son – Bertie – takes up his biggest onstage role (having also been credited as “Creative Advisor” for these shows and serving as backing singer) as he plays “The Painter” who frets over nature’s ruinous effects upon his canvas. Although his biggest cheer came when his mother sang, “I’ll tell my son…” during ‘The Morning Fog’, so key has his influence been over making her live return real. ‘A Sky Of Honey’ roars to a glorious end with Kate Bush howling at human limitations, “I’ve gotta be up on the roof”, despite transcending the possibilities of performance here before our very eyes.

Two final treats are in store: The first, a calming, lone encore of Kate Bush at the piano playing ‘Among Angels’ from 50 Words For Snow (no material predating 1985 is played). The second, a rousing rendition of ‘Cloudbursting’ where everyone is more than happy to bellow out their own “yeah yeah yeah yeah ooooooooh”. Kate gorgeously growls that most inspiring of lines, “But just saying it could even make it happen,” pointing a finger towards the crowd as she does so in the sassiest of fashions. After this monumental residency comes to an end, who knows what else Kate Bush could make happen. Conversely she could disappear and take one of her extended, working breaks once again. Either way Before The Dawn marks yet another apex of Kate Bush’s evolutionary life and art.

Written for DISORDER

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Five Reasons Why Kate Bush Is The Queen Of Everything

Find the original post HERE

Hi Stateside Galore girls! This list is written specially for you. As you may know, the whole of the UK is going batshit crazy for Kate Bush right now. We are currently in the grip of certifiable Bush Mania!

Last week saw the premiere of Ms. Bush’s ‘Before The Dawn’ live residency – her first live shows in over 35 years. She has not staged a concert since her 1979 ‘Tour Of Life’. No one truly knows why she has remained absent from live music (so ignore anyone writing claiming they do!) all that matters is that she’s back! And we are LOVING IT!

All 22 dates of her ‘Before The Dawn’ show sold out in less than 15 minutes after the complete surprise of their announcement. Critics are running out of stars to assign to their reviews of her shows. She made chart history yesterday by being the first female artist to have eight simultaneous entries in the UK top 40. And a new documentary about her (in which she did not appear, because, duh, she didn’t have to) proved so popular the number of viewers trying to catch it again online crashed BBC’s iPlayer. Here are five key reasons why Kate Bush should be your queen:

Kate Bush educates you
In comparison to all other music artists, no one understands, translates and transmits their cultural references more effectively than Kate Bush. Lady Gaga trying to channel Andy Warhol? Pah! Miley Cyrus calling her ‘Bangerz’ tour “educational”? Ha! Beyonce quoting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Hmm. Well done for trying to convince us you’re all cultured and shit, but this shallow magpie stuff doesn’t fly with Kate Bush fans. Listening to Kate Bush will not only make you book smart, she will also increase your existential and linguistic intelligence. She will teach you to sing pi to 138 decimal places (‘Pi’), she will introduce you to Wilhelm Reich (‘Cloudbursting’), Gurdjieff (‘Them Heavy People’) and generally make you question the limits of human knowledge (‘Sat In Your Lap’).

No one tells Kate Bush what to do
Being told by my father that Kate Bush was the first female artist to have a number one single with a self-penned song is what sparked my interest in her. That song, of course, was 1978’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, a song she insisted her record company release as her debut. After that, there was no way any music executive could act like they understood her artistry better than her. Her refusal to play the fame game is a defining quality of her career – her one-off UK tour, the limited number of interviews she gives, the time she takes to make records (there was a 12 year gap between ‘The Red Shoes’ and ‘Aerial’), her selective public appearances – and it’s a shame no artist since has been brave enough to believe that their art is strong enough to withstand restricted exposure.

She is the riskiest of risk takers
‘The Dreaming’ is her infamously experimental album. It came as a great shock due to its break from her established melodic, piano style. It did not sell particularly well and undermined many people’s ideas of who Kate Bush was as an artist. But, in hindsight, it was a risk worth taking as it now plays as a key stepping stone towards her ‘Hounds Of Love’ masterpiece. At the time, it seemed like self-sabotage and proved to be difficult recording process for her, but it can now be understood as a necessary wall of fire that elevated her already lofty musical ambitions. Yet another lesson – do not be afraid to explore your own creativity.

Innovation should be her middle name
Kast Bush’s ‘Tour Of Life’ set a whole new standard for music concerts – she sang every track from her first two albums, changed costume 17 times, incorporated elaborate magic tricks and dance routines, and introduced the world to the headset microphone. And even before anyone had seen her new theatrical ‘Before The Dawn’ shows, she had already eradicated the plague-like problem of ticket touts (through a simple but timely bit of administration that requires the ticket holder’s name being printed on their tickets and being matched with ID at the concert – WHY ARE NO OTHER ARTISTS DOING THIS!?), and even stopped people from using their camera phones via a polite but strongly willed letter to her fans saying, “I very much want contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras”. Hooray for stamping out arseholes who make you watch gigs through their phone screens!

“Original” is the only appropriate genre title for Kate Bush
In the beginning, she was pop’s most unconventional star. As her music progressed she took on elements of prog rock and mastered the concept suite with ‘The Ninth Wave’. However, no musical genre comfortably encapsulates Kate Bush’s arms-open-wide approach to songwriting, from the characters she embodies to the stories she tells and the sweeping song structures she houses them all in. There really is no word worthy of her, but “original” is as close as one can get.

Written for GALORE