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Wednesday, 2 September 2015
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Not sure if I have just made a rather significant contribution to the ever accelerating decline of modern journalism, of if I have just enhanced the field beyond measure with the invention of the published iMessage interview.
I spoke to filmmaker and journalist Billie JD Porter and Mushpit editor Bertie Brandes over text for My Flash Trash.
Read the interviews and you can decide if I have just become the redeemer or enemy of 21st century journalism...
Sunday, 19 July 2015
“Progress is impossible without change…” - George Bernard Shaw.
“Ch-ch-ch-ch- changes,” - David Bowie in 1972.
Julie Chance and Jon Dark – a.k.a. Evvol – are a testament to the power of change. The darkwave electronica pair, who previously went by the band name of Kool Thing, are now reaping the rewards of breaking with their established name and sound, and are forging new sounds with a revitalised mind-set and garnering more attention and praise than they had been counting on.
Sat on the rickety wooden benches of an all-organic Dalston café on a sweltering summer afternoon, Julie and Jon are dressed casually but plastered in some seriously smoky eye makeup, having finished up a cover shoot earlier in the day. Jon’s look is soft and shimmery, whilst Julie’s war paint is jet black kohl to the max, smudged all over her eye sockets and beyond. They laugh off the challenge of removing it all come bed time, plus they thought it would be a waste to wash it off at the end of their shoot.
Over organic juices, natch, the band formerly known as Kool Thing talk excitedly about shedding that exact tag:
“It was freeing,” Julie asserts, “but scary too. I think we kept the old name for too long anyway and we wanted to change it.”
Having released a self-titled album, toured with the likes of Grimes and Peaches, and established themselves on the Berlin scene (where they both call home) as Kool Thing, it would be understandable for Jon and Julie to have felt apprehensive about leaving their old identity behind. Not so for Evvol, whose break with the past has allowed them to move on to bigger and better sounds. “We wanted to change the name and the focus,” Chance explains. “A whole new name for a new project.”
And that “new project” culminates in the release of Evvol’s debut album, ‘Eternalism’, via !K7/Mad Dog & Love on July 24.
‘Eternalism’ is the little album that could. The original intention for Jon and Julie, who had a spell of separation before reuniting to reformulate their band, was to simply lay down an EP and distribute it as a self-release.
Fate had other plans as the music presented itself so generously that an album painlessly emerged. As Jon recalls, “The writing process felt completely free. There were no pre-requisites. All we needed was one thing and it would set off a spark. It could be a single lyric, a sound, a general mood or feel, maybe a harmony. It was just the best time, being around your best mate and playing music.”
The overall sound of ‘Eternalism’ is an authentic reflection of the creative freedom the band remember fondly. It veers between arthouse trance and noir pop with dashes of R&B warmth and intricate instrumental finishes.
‘Eternalism’ also stands defiantly against the ultra-customisable way many now choose to consume music. Pick a song from here. Sum it up with a hashtag there. No. ‘Eternalism’ lends itself to uninterrupted listening. It demands full unerring attention due to its waxing and waning structure, and sense of journey.
‘Starcrossed’ is a definite highlight of album and acts as microcosm of ‘Eternalism’ as a whole. “That’s an emotional song for us,” Jon reveals. The story of the pair of them coming back together is encapsulated in ‘Starcrossed’ and plays out over a beseeching, trembling lyric of “I’ll take care of you” before what they describe as a “John Mayer kind of guitar solo” announces itself, and concludes with a swirl of synth sirens.
Such eclecticism may stem from the fact that the girls are from different sides of the world (literally, Jon is from Australia, and Julie Ireland), and that they had very different musical upbringings. “I grew up listening to a lot of traditional Irish music from my dad,” Julie recalls. “Me and my sister would fight over who would get to singalong to Christy Moore or Mary Black albums first. And I was in my first band when I was at primary school. We would play covers of The Travelling Wilburys.” Jon, on the other hand, admits to being “obsessed with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. I had it on vinyl and would sing along to it at the top of my voice.”
However, what they both agree on now is the influence being based in Berlin has had on Evvol’s sound. “There’s no way a person cannot be affected by living in a city like Berlin,” Chance insists. “Plus we’re really into the music that has been made in the city – Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’. It was very natural that we ended up there and I just think you can’t help but be influenced by your surroundings.”
The evidence speaks for itself. Whilst the darkened undertones that ebb away beneath glossy electronic currents of ‘Eternalism’ pay tribute to the band’s cultural base, the human pulse of the record reveals the personal voyage that’s captured within. As much of a sonic voyage as ‘Eternalism’ is, this doesn’t feel in anyway like the final destination on the continuing journey of Evvol’s evolution.
Written for NOTION
Friday, 26 June 2015
Juno Calypso is the name you need to know on the London art scene.
The artist and her staged alter ego, Joyce, is making waves with her self-portraits that examine Americana suburbia, consumerism and ideas around beauty and femininity – all with a distinctively unsettling and compelling vision.
Ahead of her upcoming exhibition as Artist of the Day at Flowers Gallery (21 Cork Street, London, W1S 3LZ) on July 2, we spoke to Juno about her life, art and style.
Check out what Juno had to say and some of her best work below…
Hey Juno! We can’t decide if we think of you as a photographer or an artist… Which title do you prefer?
I like artist because taking the photo is only the last small step in a long process of prop making and set building. And because it let’s me off when I forget how to use a camera properly!
How did you get started in your line of work?
I studied photography at London College of Communication where the course was very fine-art based and they really taught me how to make a career as a fine-art photographer. After I graduated I was nominated for the Catlin Art Prize and I’ve been hitchhiking around the art world since then.
Tell us about your character Joyce. Where did she come from? What does she represent?
Joyce was an accidental child. I used to only photograph friends and models but I’d always use myself as a stand-in model to test out the lighting a few days before a shoot. I’d pull ugly faces to make the experience less awkward and one day I brought the pictures into uni just to have something to show my tutor for our weekly deadline and she loved them.
My face made her laugh and that was an interesting reaction that changed everything. Before, all I wanted to do was make hyper-alluring glossy images of women looking sexy and dangerous. Now I use my weird face to make people laugh but also to explore the exhaustion women often feel while bearing the weight of constructed femininity.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
I think being awarded first prize and full marks for my degree show is still my favourite because I had no idea if my work was any good then and I’d worked so hard for it. I’m a born and bred Londoner so seeing my work on the underground was cool too.
What’s coming up for you next?
I have a solo exhibition at where I’ll be showing a new body of work that I shot at a couple’s honeymoon hotel in America. I went by myself and it was a very awkward experience but I can’t wait for people to see the images.
Written for MY FLASH TRASH
Thursday, 18 June 2015
Sunday, 31 May 2015
Hey Bebe! Let’s get straight to it. You’ve described your look before as “grunge glamour”. How can we emulate your look?
Mix cool expensive stuff with cheap shit. I’ve got Doc Martens on today but I have a pair of Vesaces that I travel with too. A really good leather jacket is essential. I recently bought a real leather motorcycle jacket, it’s so heavy, it’s about 20 pounds. Tons of jewellery is good too, as well as jeans and lots of t-shirts to switch up underneath. Layer shit – layering is key. Get the basics together and then add to it.
How about your makeup? Your eyeliner is always perfect.
I’m very simple. I bounce between two classic looks. One is clean winged eyeliner and really pretty lashes, and a red lip. The other is a smoky eye and nude lip. Sometimes I just take an eyeliner and smudge it, lashes on and apply a bit of bronzer.
So how has your European tour been going so far?
The crowds have been very respectful and listen to everything I say. In the US they’ll be a little more crazy, but I’ll get to a slow song and I’m like, “Shut the fuck up!” That happened once. I told everyone to shut up and they wouldn’t listen. I was being dead serious but they just kept cheering me on. In Finland yesterday I cried. It was the first time there has been an audience that knew every word to all my songs. I got emotional. There was a little nine year old girl there, crying, she was singing every word, including all the swear words! She had a little leather jacket on and she said, “I’m wearing my leather jacket for you.” It was the cutest thing in the world. Playing my own smaller shows but to people who know all the words is way better than bigger shows supporting someone else. These people are coming to see me – it’s amazing.
Do you like London?
Everybody dresses so cool here. The fashion here is ridiculous. It sucks to say but you cannot compare London fashion to New York. Europe is so much cooler. I wore some creepers in my video and you can’t do that in L.A. or New York, they don’t think it’s cute at all.
You’ve already filmed some epic music videos. Did you grow up watching a lot of MTV?
Yes, TRL! And I will always remember seeing Britney Spears’ first music video. I haven’t had that same feeling since.. All her videos are insane and I’ve never had that strong feeling for anyone other than Britney. I want to make bigger videos in the future. I wanna burn shit down!
You’ve previously cited Alanis Morrissette as a key influence for you…
Once we were blasting her CD at the studio and Glen Ballard was there – he produced Jagged Little Pill. That album is insane, and even though she had the songs she refused to be the fashion girl and didn’t fit the mold. You can do whatever the fuck you want!
Who else did you grow up listening to?
I only started liking the Kanyes and Lauryn Hills, or Tracey Chapman – all these more credible artists as I’m getting older because I can see what they’re saying and it means more to me. But when I was little I was listening to Destiny’s Child and Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. I was a total pop junkie. I liked ‘80s stuff too, like Madonna and Duran Duran. My aunt bought me my first tape, it was ‘Genie In A Bottle’.
You’ve worked with Max Martin already… Can you tell us something about him that no one knows?
He’s very nice but also very gangster. When I was working with him he had two sessions going on at the same time, he would come in, doctor the melody, do it himself. Oh, and he has a great voice! A really fucking good voice. Like, superstar voice! His ear is incredible. When he listens to a song it’s mathematical to him. It was very different working with him because I just do what I feel.
How does it compare hearing other artists’ recordings of your songs to listening back to one of your own releases?
Hearing your own song is more epic. I can see Eminem and Rihanna perform my song in front of a million people and it feels awesome but if I see 200 people singing the words to my own song, that’s incredible. When you write a song it’s like part of your soul. You put your spirit, soul and energy into creating a song from thin air.
The songs on your EP are very relatable. Is that something you aim for?
In the end I ultimately want that but it usually starts out as just therapy for myself. But when I try to help myself as a form of therapy it does help others too. I do take it into consideration and I’ve been writing about women and empowerment recently – a song called ‘24/7’. It’s about letting a girl have her moment. If she wants to cry, or put her lipstick on, or go dancing and feel sexy… It’s not easy being a girl or a woman.
You’ve spoken really openly about losing your first record deal. You’ve written about the negativity that followed it too. What advice do you have for anyone feeling knocked down?
There’s this saying I like: “In the end it will be okay. And if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” I tell myself that. You have to remember that things will get better. I wrote a song called ‘Die A Little’ – a line of it says, “You have to die a little to know what it’s like to be alive.” And if you ever feel down, go for a walk. Walk for miles – that’s what I do – it clears your head.
Written for MY FLASH TRASH