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Having read Eimear McBride’s book and been emotionally wrung out, inspired and challenged, I decided my next read would have to be a bit more light-hearted and fun and Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane’s Addiction fit the bill perfectly.
The book had its genesis in a 2003 article in Spin magazine; Mullen was asked to interview people for an oral history of the band just after JA reunited. Being a massive Jane’s fan, I loved the in-depth article and thought that a biography in the same vein would be brilliant. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as Mullen was approached to enlarge the original article into this book. Unfortunately the band members chose not to do any further interviews so there’s no new material from them, but their history is filled out with extensive interviews with others.
For those unfamiliar with the band, Jane’s Addiction are widely considered to be a seminal alt-rock American band whose reputation was built on an initial output of just two albums: Nothing’s Shocking (1988) and Ritual de lo habitual (1990). The band built their following in the mid-80s in Los Angeles, playing shows at underground venues including the Lingerie Club where they met author Brendan Mullen. Jane’s became legendary for their rock and roll excess, however they were an art influenced band and so their antics were more left-field than many of their contemporaries. Can you see the members of Motley Crue getting naked and French kissing each other on stage? Or designing a sculpture based on a body-cast of their girlfriends for their album covers?
Jane’s were a decadent and debaucherous band, and ruinous heroin use was one of the reasons they fell apart, but before that happened they did manage to create some magic tunes, most famously “Jane Says”; a song about their flatmate Jane Bainter (also the inspiration for their name) who was a heroin addict and always promised “to quit tomorrow”. Bainter was interviewed for the book, along with the band’s friends, peers, family members, ex-girlfriends, and many people from the LA music scene in the 80s and 90s.
Whores is certainly comprehensive and gives a real sense of the atmosphere in the rock scene at the time and the excitement and chaos around the band. It’s a shame that the band didn’t contribute further as obviously their own take on their history is what the reader is most interested in, but this is still a great biography and one any music fan will enjoy.
Obviously when I’m DJing there are certain songs that people want to hear and so I play them at almost every gig, e.g. at a rock gig you have to play The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, etc. Consequently playing them week after week at gigs has ruined tunes that I used to love, so much so that I’d be happy if I never heard them again! (I won’t name them here as it’s not fair; I did love them once!)
I know this tune from Bloc Party is old. Way old. It’s taken from their award winning album Silent Alarm which was released in 2005. But it’s one tune I never get sick of, no matter how many times I play it. The main reason I adore this song is Matt Tong’s drumming. His playing is tight, he sits right in the groove and drives the song beautifully, and it reminds me a little of Stewart Copeland’s drumming with The Police.
Anyway, I’m sure you know “Banquet” but have a listen and appreciate a classic!
DJ, founder of Shejay, producer and now singer, Kelly Sylvia is a force to be reckoned with! Kelly started DJing in the 90s and steadily built up her name as a soulful house DJ with appearances at venues like London’s Fabric, Pacha and Ministry of Sound, as well as playing further afield in Hong Kong, Ibiza, Moscow and Dubai.
Since 2010, American-born and London-based Kelly has been producing her own music and releasing tracks on indie dance label, Simplified. In the last couple of months, she has branched out to create something unique with her new label Blood & Stone Music.
‘Remedy’ is written, sung and produced by Kelly and it’s a slice of subtle funk influenced house with crisp production and gorgeous vocals. The track was released last Friday and is available for sale on Beatport, Traxsource and iTunes. Go get it!
We all know how much I love drummers and so while browsing on Netflix recently I was delighted to find a documentary on rock legend Ginger Baker. Directed by Jay Bulger, Beware of Mr. Baker first premiered in 2012 at the SXSW Film Festival and went on release in May of last year. Bulger spent three months living with Baker in South Africa researching an article for Rolling Stone. The article and the numerous hours of interviews he captured on film became the premise for Beware of Mr. Baker.
Ginger Baker is most well-known for being the drummer with legendary rock act Cream, whose members also included Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. Cream lasted for less than two years (1966-1968), in part due to Bruce and Baker’s volatile relationship, but they were hugely influential. Baker also worked with rock acts Graham Bond Organisation and Blind Faith, but he always considered himself a jazz drummer and one who was very influenced by the rhythms in African drumming. In later years he worked closely with Fela Kuti and also challenged jazz masters Art Blakey and Elvin Jones to drum battles. (It has to be mentioned however, that many jazz drummers didn’t rate Baker: Elvin Jones said, “Nothin’ happenin. Cat’s got delusions of grandeur with no grounds. They should make him an astronaut and lose his ass.”; and Buddy Rich is claimed to have said, “Ginger Baker challenging me is like a paraplegic challenging Jack Nicklaus to a round of golf.”)
The documentary covers Baker’s life from his birth in 1939 in Lewisham in London up to 2010 and it is most definitely not hagiography. While his considerable talent and innovation are the focus, the film doesn’t shy away from his feuds with other musicians, his violent temper and fights, his drug use, and his relationships with family (he’s on his fourth wife and has three kids from his first marriage), showing Baker as the irascible, antisocial, violent, and generally dislikable character that he is.
In fact the first scene is of Baker fighting with Bulger and beating him on his face with a steel cane. He also beat Jack Bruce and pulled a knife on him, gave his fifteen-year-old son a line of coke, and ran off with his daughter’s eighteen-year-old friend: just a small sample of the incidents that contribute to his reputation. The only things that seem to bring out his softer side are music and animals: he cries when describing his friendships with his heroes like Max Roach and when he hears African musicians drumming in Nigeria; he speaks more kindly to his horses than he does to any human being and seems to be closer to his dogs than to his children.
Beware of Mr. Baker is comprehensively researched and includes interviews not only with Baker’s family and colleagues (unsurprisingly he doesn’t have many friends), but also with other drummers such as Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland and Charlie Watts, as well as numerous people he knew in Africa, and even the last people to interview him on radio in America. I particularly loved the animation provided by David Bell and Joe Scarpulla which adds a visual energy to the film that perfectly compliments Baker’s drumming.
While you won’t come away filled with sentimental good feeling for its subject, Beware of Mr. Baker is certainly an interesting and entertaining film.
I decided last week to go through my iTunes library to see what I had been neglecting. Like many people I can get into a music rut and forget about great tunes that I have bought previously. Browsing through tunes from a couple of years ago, I found Lianne La Havas’ album Is Your Love Big Enough which I listened to a couple of times when I bought it in 2012 and then promptly forgot about!
La Havas is from London, is only twenty-four, and the album is her debut. It was named iTunes Album of the Year in 2012 and she has since gone on to critical acclaim, so much so that Prince has even called over to her gaff! Her vocals are stunning; slightly reminiscent of Sia but with a bigger, more classic soul sound.
The title track is amazing so if you haven’t already discovered Lianne, have a listen to it here.
I got Flume’s debut album last year but didn’t really give it a proper listen until a couple of months ago. Flume (AKA Harley Edward Straten) is a 22 year old producer and musician from Australia. His debut album Holdin’ On was released in November 2012 and was nominated for four ARIA awards.
I love the track “Sleepless” featuring Jezzabell Doran; a glitchy loungey slice of electro that I play at more chilled out gigs.
However “On Top” featuring LA-based rapper T-Shirt is my favourite track. Hip-hop with a driving beat and insistent synth chords reminiscent of a siren, it’s right up my street.
Dunk Murphy, AKA Sunken Foal, is one of the most talented electronic music producers working in Ireland and I have long been a fan. I blogged about his album Friday Syndrome back in 2012 - it was one of my favourite records of that year and I caned it in my house. At the end of last year he released the follow-up Friday Syndrome Vol. II and this release is accompanied by editioned generative 50cm x 70cm prints and t-shirts.
The majority of the tracks are taken from a project where Dunk would set aside Friday evenings to write a track from scratch and send it to a bunch of friends. Crunchy beats, clockwork guitars, vocal fragments, muddy chords and sci-fi bleeps all feature. My favourite track is “Cash for Gold” which uses a gorgeous guitar line and juxtaposes it with more Eastern influenced strings and vocal hooks.
The album is available to buy on BandCamp for the princely sum of €5 and I recommend it highly!
Morning all and Happy New Year! Sorry for the blogging silence but I was very ill over Christmas with flu (not man-flu or a head cold, but proper doctor house-call viral misery) and am only just back on my feet. Anyway back to the business at hand…
I have worked with Harvey Nichols in Dundrum for about eighteen months and have loved gigging out there. I’ve done in-store beauty and fashion events, parties, and gigs in the bar. Since December the restaurant and bar have been under the management of Rock Lobster. It’s great fun: brilliant staff, awesome cocktails and a discerning cool crowd.
When I’m playing in my other residencies in Whelan’s and The Mercantile, the music policy is rock and roll; my first love so I’m always happy! In Harvey Nichols the music policy is different and so I play a lot more pop-remixes and electro and I love the chance to play other genres. Looking for new tunes to add to my repertoire, I went to the always-reliable Nialler9′s site to see his recommendations for best remixes of 2013. I found this gorgeous remix of Janet Jackson’s “If” which I have been caning at home and at gigs. You can download it (legally!) for free here. Hope you enjoy!
The last couple of weeks have been filled with many gigs and so posting here has been a wee bit slow. I’ll be taking a break over the holiday season, putting the finishing touches to my book which will be ready for agents in January, and getting a lot of rest!
To all the Multiverse readers, have a wonderful Christmas and a great 2014. I’ll see you back here in January but in the meantime here are some links to keep you occupied if you have a spare moment/are bored/need time out from your family before you lose it.
1. If you’ve ever wanted a drag queen make-up tutorial (No? Just me?) I have sourced it. Watch Raven from Season Two of Rupaul’s Drag Race transform club kid legend James St. James into a fierce queen.
2. Sometimes when work isn’t going as well as one had hoped, it’s encouraging to know that even the most successful writers can often feel like failures!
3. The Toast did a very funny article on popular posters from the past and what they say about you now. I had the Reservoir Dogs poster on my wall for years which apparently means, “You refer to everyone that you have ever dated as ‘crazy’ without exception.”
4. Katy and Katie are two girls who have taken it upon themselves to test out various pieces of advice found on the Intenet with varying results. Their tagline is, “Dumb enough to try anything. Smart enough to warn against it.” The videos on their site are very funny and it’s well worth checking out. Start with the DIY GOOP sweatshirt which you can watch on their Tumblr or on their Youtube channel.
5. Anyone who has ever worked in marketing or dealt with an ad agency will get a HUGE laugh out of these Santa Brand Guidelines. “Santa winds infinite possibilities around finite limitations to invoke the essence of invention and odour of nostalgia…”
7. Being a DJ means sometimes you get bizarre requests, and of course someone has started a blog on this very subject called “No Breasts, No Requests” which sounds sexist but isn’t. The blog owner explains: “No Breasts, No Requests isn’t my policy as a dj, but a quote from one of the first signs I found and posted.” (I really wish he’d change the name.) Some classics on the site such as this one!
8. My current favourite fashion blog is Atlantic Pacific by Blair Eadie Bee, a visual merchandiser living in New York. Her style is different from my own – much more chic and polished – but I think she’s a fashion icon in the making.
9. As I’ve said before, I listen to a lot of jazz at home as I crave different music to the stuff I play when I’m working. Anita O’Day is one of my favourite jazz singers and this song isn’t strictly speaking a Christmas song but I think it was used in a holiday ad (M&S?) a few years ago. Aaaanyway, her voice is sublime so listen and let it thrill you!
10. I’ve written before about the entertainment to be found in misheard lyrics. Here’s a stomach-achingly hysterical animated video for “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. “SALSA COOKIES!!!”
11. I often love the villains in TV shows (e.g. Karen in Will and Grace. Seriously. Watch that link. She’s awesome!) and Cartman is one of my favourites. Watch his profanity get rewarded with electric shocks in this seasonal South Park clip.
12. This footage of Earth from the International Space Station is a wondrous and humbling look at our planet. The cinematography in Gravity may have been amazing, but the real thing is a hundred times more beautiful.
Over the last couple of months I’ve been lucky enough to DJ at some amazing fashion events: the launch of Isabel Marant pour H&M, Dundrum Town Centre’s “Fashion Framed” catwalk shows, and Arnott’s SS2014 press day just last Monday.
Choosing music for fashion shows is always an enjoyable task for me. I generally tend to find some nice remixes of pop tunes and intersperse them with electro tracks. One thing to remember is that the tempo has to be one that models can walk to (ergo no drum and bass!) as I think it adds impact to a show when the models can walk in time to the music.
I thought I’d put together a playlist of some of the tunes I’ve used over the last few months to give you a flavour of the kind of stuff I play at these events. Enjoy!