Tuesday, 2 September 2014

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

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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

Sunday, 17 August 2014

I Hate… Conjecture / “Let me have it. Let me grab your soul away”

Have you heard? Kate Bush is playing live for the first time in, like, forever. Yeah,  weird right?
We all know the story. 1979: The Tour Life. Then? No more tours or standalone concerts from Kate Bush.
What do we know about her beautifully out of the blue Before The Dawn dates? Sweet FA.

But, of course, magazines and newspapers are shambling together the ropiest of features and speculative bullshit in order to try and seem part of the elusive buzz that only Kate Bush can concoct.
Women’s magazines have been running wafer thin articles such as “How Kate Bush Influenced Fashion”  and they bat around adjectives like “billowing” and “romantic” blah blah blah. She’s beautiful. Sometimes she wore flowing gowns. Sometimes she wore informal dancewear. Kate Bush is above and beyond anything as menial as fashion and trends. End of.
As for anyone trying to guess what will happen on August 26th when Kate Bush arrives on stage – you are, unequivocally, a fool and beyond help. No one has ever been able to second guess Kate Bush. And anyone that Kate Bush doesn’t want knowing her business does not know her business. Period. So let’s stop wondering, “Will she do ‘Wuthering Heights’?” “Will she be dancing?” Let’s all just appreciate the fact that we still have an artist who can captivate, surprise and truly thrill. She could come on stage dressed in a bin bag and spit at her sold-out audiences and we should still be grateful just for her very presence.
For anyone hoping for “special guests” – who the hell could be more “special” than Kate Bush?
And as sign-off to this rant I took offense at this hot gas from The Independent last weekend that, on the subject of dance, said: “it’s simply unbecoming for a woman of a certain age to be prancing about, and certainly not in the leotard and leg-warmers of the 1979 shows.” 
Who is to say what and is not appropriate for a woman of any age? Let alone KATE BLOODY BUSH.
Please allow me to make this clear *coughs to clear throat and speaks into megaphone*: Kate Bush can do whatever she likes, whenever she likes and you had better appreciate it.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Thursday, 10 July 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Amber Atherton of My Flash Trash Interview

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My Flash Trash is the jewellery destination for girls in the know. You’ll find My Flash Trash stocked in select locations or you can browse the treasure trove of carefully curated pieces from their online boutique. My Flash Trash caters for both girls who are looking for an impulsive budget buy and those considering investing in statement pieces. Whether you want to show off some attention grabbing faux bling or keep it understated with an item from the designer that everyone else is yet to catch on to, My Flash Trash has you covered.

Founded in 2008 by Amber Atherton, enthusiastic entrepreneur, model and former Made In Chelsea star, My Flash Trash and it’s handpicked merchandise has drawn attention from British fashion institutions ranging from Topshop to Kate Middleton.

We met up with 23-year-old Amber to talk accessories, royalty and inspiring career advice.

What’s a typical day like for you as the owner of your own business?

I get up early to go swimming or do pilates. I walk everywhere so I’ll go to my office where I’ll stay until the early afternoon. Then it could be off to a photo shoot, an event or to see a stylist – something like that. Once I get home I can be on Tumblr until 2am!

Do you enjoy being your own boss?

Having the freedom to dictate how want to run your schedule is the most enjoyable thing about being your own boss. Managing your time is a skill though and you do learn to get better at it. I’m currently working from a colour-coordinated timetable.

Since My Flash Trash started in 2008 it’s undergone some changes. Your stock has varying price points. You also have your own design imprint called Flash Trash Girl.

In the beginning it was exclusively market place but now I design my own ranges alongside continuing to support up and coming designers. So it changed from being a market place to being a brand. I like to say it’s for champagne girls on a lemonade budget. It’s both inspirational and aspirational. We have pieces that range from £12 to the hundreds.

Your latest Flash Trash Girldesigns were stocked in Topshop’s flag ship London store. How did that come about?

Our brand is quite limited in terms of distribution in that we don’t want to be stocked in every store. So there are very few suitable channels but when Topshop approached us it was a no-brainer. They came to us and we designed the collection specifically for Topshop.

Where are you hoping to pop up next?

America is our biggest growing market so we’re having discussions with American retailers and concept stores about the best way for us to progress.

Do you enjoy deigning your own pieces?

I do it enjoy it. I’ll work with a designer to refine my ideas. There’s a pair of hoop earrings with palm trees on them, and that’s from a design I drew in the early hours one morning. I get just as much fulfilment from the creative side as I do in the analytics and financial forecasting!

The main focus of My Flash Trash is the platform it gives to new designers. How do you go about curating the collections you stock online?

It’s a combination of designers sending applications to us and us scouting out designers from trend blogs or Instagram. All the pieces we stock are a mix of being tasteful and dreamy, girly and romantic or others are quite tongue-in-cheek. The items have to be conversation starters. We often have quirky pieces too. There’s this armour ring that seems to attract so much male attention. I don’t know why because it looks quite threatening. Overall what we curate has to be individual but trend reactive.

What are your current favourite pieces?

We havethis necklace that says “internet” on it and I am just obsessed with it. I love all of the new Flash Trash Girl pieces because we put so much into making them. The inspiration for them came from watching The O.C. and Spring Breakers. I also really like a designer from Israel that we’re about to launch who makes rings. There’s also a London designer who makes incredible skull rings with gems in them, they have this rock and roll romance about them.

Your first collaboration was with the girls behind the fashion movement Funkyoffish. Do you have any others in the works?

We have Wah Nails coming up. The Wah collection isn’t particularly ring or finger focussed, it’s more about [founder] Sharmadean Reid’s aesthetic. It has real attitude. We’ve also in talks with other designers and celebrities… Watch this space!

Plenty of celebrities have been seen wearing My Flash Trash purchases. BeyoncĂ©, Rita Ora, Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne… But Kate Middleton wearing your Double Leaf Earrings by Catherine Zoraida has to be the ultimate in celebrity clientele. How did her patronage affect your business?

It caused the website to crash. We were selling a pair of those earrings every four minutes. It boosted our American sales a lot. She’s worn them more than once and each time she’s seen in them we’ll get an influx of orders from America especially. I don’t think a lot of people would associate our brand with Kate Middleton so it was interesting. It emphasised that My Flash Trash does have this girly, princess side.

Your background in fashion is more high end. How have you adapted to being the figurehead of such an accessible brand?

A few years into Flash Trash and we started selling really expensive jewellery, like £600 - £1000. We started as a very small brand and we were featured in the likes of Love and Vogue magazine. But when I was on Made In Chelsea suddenly the entire teenage population of England was following me on Twitter, visiting the website, seeing the prices and quickly logging off again. I realised it had to become more commercial.

You were involved with Made In Chelsea from very early on, way before it premiered on TV. Was it a difficult decision to leave after three series?

It took a long time for me to finally decide to go. It was a lot of fun and I am very grateful for the experience and the way it introduced so many girls to My Flash Trash, but ultimately I don't think it reflected who I really am. I was probably the worst reality start to ever exist! Plus I was bringing my laptop to all the filming and would be doing work or having conference calls in between shooting and I just had a moment when I was drinking champagne listening to Spencer or whoever chat about something or other that I was like, ‘Okay, I've had enough now!’

You’ve done modelling, TV work, now you’re a successful entrepreneur… What aspect of your career makes brings you the most happiness?

I am really passionate about motivating other people. I love meeting up and coming designers and encouraging them to make everything bigger than what they think it can be. So many people have limited boundaries on what they can achieve. I feel very passionate about enterprise and career motivation. I also love the challenge of creating products and a brand that people believe in.

A great piece of advice you espouse is “Don’t be afraid of rejection”. It’s not just applicable to the business world. How do you put it into practice?

This comes from when I was modelling and I was far too young for it. I was 13 when I did an early shoot and from the age of 16 to 19 I was going out to castings a lot and being rejected. You develop a tough skin from that and you have to realise that it doesn’t matter. I just don’t process rejection or the word “No”. Even if something doesn’t work out you have to keep a spirit of positivity and self-belief. If something doesn’t work out you just have to seek out new opportunities. I’m not massively spiritual but sometimes you have to think “That wasn’t the right timing” or “That wasn’t meant to be”.

Finally, what should we be accessorising with for the rest of 2014? How can we be ahead of the trend?

Chokers. They are back. We’ve got so many coming. 

Written for GALORE

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

DIGITAL WORDS/ The Libertines At Hyde Park Live Review

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Picture by Steve Cook 

Don’t look back into the sun...

Sheer joy was my reaction to The Libertines’ announcement of their biggest ever live show earlier this year. A band I had loved so dearly during their oh so brief time together and was so thrilled by when they had their first reunion live at Reading and Leeds festivals four years ago. The chance to see the boys in the band do it all over again was a tantalising prospect shaped by my unshakeably fond memories not of their heyday, but that triumphant display at Reading in 2010.

Is it cruel or kind not to speak my mind/And to lie to you, rather than hurt you?

But, alas, the show The Libertines put in before a 65,000 capacity audience at Hyde Park last weekend was the stuff of nightmares.

There’s no denying it, I am a Libertines fan girl – I couldn’t sleep the night before the gig such was my anticipation (I know how lame that makes me sound, but please appreciate my honesty – which shall continue throughout this review). And yet I’m not a sycophant. I was not expecting a polished performance from The Libertines. They are The Libertines after all, and mild chaos is what they do. But for the £65, plus ever infernal “admin” charges, I paid to see them, I was expecting much more than the strained display that greeted my eager eyes and ears on Saturday night.

Prior to appearing on stage, a clearly inebriated and already dangerously swollen crowd were treated to the shrewd marketing move of an announcement of further live Libertines shows later this year at Alexandra Palace. Great, clearly the tickets will be more fairly priced than this joke of a day festival being sponsored by Barclaycard, where other acts on the depressing bill ranged from the dribbling, human pickle Shane MacGowan and The Pogues at one end to The Twang – THE TWANG! – at the other.

A montage of classic Roger Sargent portraits of The Libertines flashing across the screens proved to be an unwise move when compared to the men that paced onto the stage. Both Pete Doherty and Carl Barat looked filthy, covered in general dust, dirt and debris, with the former providing a reality check of just how much time has passed since we all first fell for this unlikely, shambling group. That is, of course, if you could even see them. An utterly obtrusive observation tower had been erected slap bang in front of the middle of the stage. So a view of Pete and Carl sharing a microphone once again was permitted to those either in the hallowed VIP section or those willing to risk their lives right in the thick of it down at the front. And risk their lives they did...

It’s a horrorshow come on down...

After the opening ‘Vertigo’ and a minute or so of ‘Boys In The Band’ the sound was cut and security made an extended attempt to help the hundreds of fans being crushed and trampled on. The band themselves also pleaded with the crowd to calm down and take a few steps back. But how long was it going to last? The barbed guitars and turbulent tempos that constitute The Libertines’ bursts of songs are designed to instigate frenzy. Though they manage to make it through ‘The Delaney’ and ‘Campaign Of Hate’ without any significant injuries further crowd surges hold up ‘Time For Heroes’. Later on in the night Carl’s solo acoustic spot ‘France’ is abandoned when members of the audience start scaling the sound delay towers.
None of this, of course, is the band’s fault. They did what little they could to quell the clear dangers within the crowd. The event organisers knew what kind of music the band play and how many tickets had been sold. More security should have been employed and more areas of the audience sectioned rather than just the “VIP package experience” ticket holders and guests...

None of this should have mattered. No one was expecting the gig to go off without a hitch. I mean, I’ve even experienced Pete Doherty playing a solo acoustic show at the Royal Albert Hall that ended in an en masse stage invasion and numerous police vehicles seeing the audience out of the Kensington area. But if the band had played anywhere near as well as they did that fateful night at Reading I would have left as a satisfied fan. And, quite simply, they didn’t.

There was no enthusiasm or excitement to the four of them revisiting their shoulda-been hits once again. Carl Barat looked extremely tense. The guitars were far too soft and lost in the sound mix. Gary Powell’s drumming, ever the back bone of the group, was unquestionably solid but the guitars just fell apart around him. Pete Doherty seemed lucid and engaged but was just getting the job done. The permanent frown fixed on bassist John Hassall’s face said it all.

Aside from the curious choice of playing ‘Radio America’ – the blight that tarnished Up The Bracket’s otherwise perfect running order – they air may of their greatest numbers; ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘What A Waster’, ‘What Katie Did’. But there was just no spark, no zing, no whatever-you-want-to-call-it that previously elevated The Libertines as a captivating spectacle. Even Pete and Carl pulling out their old shared recitation of Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Suicide In The Trenches’ did little to help matters. If anything, it just made things worse.

Watery pinned eyes/My soul has gone a little cold

I left Hyde Park nigh on heartbroken. That was not the band I had seen shine previously. Would it be the same band that goes on to tour Europe throughout the summer before taking a triple victory lap at London’s Alexandra Palace in September? Will I even be there to see it for myself?

For me, The Libertines at Hyde Park was a write-off but I’m in denial that this should serve as the closing chapter to my experience of the band. My loyalty to them is strong but not blind. I sincerely don’t want to end this review with a highly predictable line from ‘The Good Old Days’ but it seems only fitting: “If you’ve lost your faith in love and music/Oh the end won’t be long...” 

Written for DISORDER

I Like... Morrissey's new album / "World Peace Is None Of Your Business"

Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ringers full of ringworm
Angel of disdain
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Mine is melanoma
Tikes full of gripe
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me

- Lyrics taken from 'Neal Cassady Drops Dead'

Listen to World Peace Is None Of Your Business in full HERE

Monday, 30 June 2014

PRINTED WORDS / Iconic Magazine #15 OUT NOW

The latest issue of Iconic Magazine is available now.

The theme of the issue is Michael Jackson and the movies. 

Oh, and what's that on the cover? A never before seen image? If that's what's on the front page, just imagine how good the content inside of the magazine is...

Inside this edition a number of people who worked on Jackson's big screen projects, Moonwalker and Captain EO, as well as looking at his silver screen debut, The Wiz. Meanwhile, I take on the subject of Michael's near-misses of working with Tim Burton...

Order your copy HERE

Saturday, 28 June 2014