Brexit, Baudrillard, Trump, Twitter: Trying To Make Sense In An Age Of Overwhelming

A piece I wrote about the various world events we’re living through right now and how we attempt to process them in an age of ‘post-truth’ and information overload. Rare that I get to write for myself rather than a client nowadays but what started as a cathartic exercise turned into a piece that I’m sincerely proud of and wanted to share.

Read it over on medium.

New(ish) mixes

I’ve been covertly recording and uploading mixes to a new mixcloud page over the past year or so – basically long stretches of music that I have on vinyl but not any other format, that’s also good for drowning out the mundane soundtracks of the cafes I often work in.

Listen here.

(noisy stuff and quiet stuff and new stuff and old stuff and unsettling stuff and soothing stuff and long journeys stuff and sitting at a desk stuff and sort-of dancing stuff)

 

 

Grabble: ‘Live The Stylish Life’

For some strange reason Grabble (aka ‘the tinder of fashion’ aka everyone’s favourite fashion-tech startup from February 2015) got in touch recently to ask if they could feature me in their regular ‘Live The Stylish Life’ column. Obviously they’d seen me traipsing to and from the N16 supermarkets in my threadbare old Yohji and Comme and grotty old skate trainers…

It basically amounted to me trying to encapsulate the evolution of what I wear and why into 500 words without being either reductive or coming across as toooo pretentious. Probably didn’t quite succeed on either front but it’s as good a document of my personal approach to (ugh) fashion as you’re likely to find out there…

Read the feature here.

Thoughts on Orlando // A celebration of LGBT Disco culture

Beyond the obvious horrors associated with all mass shootings, there was something particularly resonant and heartbreaking about the tragedy of Sunday’s shooting at an Orlando gay club.

The intersection of LGBT communities and club culture in the US over the past four decades or so led to some of the most thrilling, euphoric and deceptively progressive music you’ll ever hear. Beyond that, the likes of David Mancuso’s Loft and the spiritual home of Larry Levan, the Paradise Garage, transcended the idea of mere ‘safe spaces’. These places weren’t just a retreat for those facing persecution at home, in the street: they were positively celebratory. The oft-notorious hedonism could essentially be boiled down to a sequinned salute to cast off inhibitions; a chance to revel in the glorious diversity that makes humanity such a rich and wonderful thing at its very core. It’s easy to forget that at this time, but take a look at the still-growing queues of prospective blood donors to see just how much that means to people from all walks of life (and how powerfully they outnumber that One Lone Gunman).

The U.S. took way too long to acknowledge and take action when it came to the AIDs crisis that cut short the lives of so many that made the scene what it was. You can’t help but wonder how much worse things have to get before the country finally begins to tackle its gun crisis in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

Muhammad Ali’s recent death reminded us all just how powerful the combination of love and defiance is. With that in mind, below are some of the most life-affirming and brilliant anthems to have emerged from the gay club scene. If you’re at all familiar with disco they’ll probably be pretty familiar choices, but these are songs to remind you that despite everything, there is so much more that brings us together than divides us and that will always be the case. To paraphrase Gonzalez’ 1979 hit: we haven’t stopped dancing yet.

Loose Joints – Is It All Over My Face (Original Male Version)

How could I not start with this? Arthur Russell co-produced with Steve D’Acquisto but its those earworm lyrics penned by Russell alone that encapsulate the unabashed sexual tension at the heart of so many great dance floors. It’s undoubtedly a universally loved track, but with an inherent queerness to it. It’s partly why I’ve chosen this version rather than Larry Levan’s better known remix with female vocals, even if I don’t necessarily agree with unattributed quote from one of Russell’s original collaborators that claims Levan “made it into a boring straight narrative.”

Patrick Cowley – Zygote

Patrick Cowley was the producer responsible for the hypnotic, never-not-incredible ‘megamix’ version of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love.’He also wrote mind-blowing soundtracks to gay porn movies with titles like School Daze and Muscle Up. Long out of print and highly sought after, we can thankfully hear them much more readily now thanks to recent reissues from the excellent Dark Entries record label. Zygote is a pretty perfect slice of cosmic disco taken from School Daze,  that probably slotted seamlessly into old Daniele Baldelli sets, a vibrant blast of spacey synths that somehow swirl and bounce at the same time. It’s a textbook example of the way Cowley acted as a bridge between 70s disco and 80s hi-NRG, though if you delve deeper into his discography you’re gonna find way weirder (and way more wonderful) tracks.

Al Kent – Born This Way

Whereas many gay disco producers would employ female ‘divas’ to deliver their paeans (they were either being slyly subversive or hiding behind conformity, depending on your reading), Carl Bean was much more straightforward when it came to his anthem, ‘I Was Born This Way’: “I’m happy, I’m carefree and I’m gay, I was born this way!” he sings on the chorus. Gleeful as the original is, I’ve always preferred Al Kent’s edit: a no less exuberant but more dancefloor-ready track that basically loops the best part of Bean’s track over and over for five minutes.

Leonore O’Malley – First Be A Woman

As alluded to above, a lot of great disco gained iconic status when either gay producers or gay audiences meant a re-contextualisation of songs that appeared to possess straight narratives on the surface. Whichever way you look at it, the direct lyrics and forceful delivery of Leonore O’Malley are stridently empowering. The lyrics take on a whole other (often hilarious) dimension when applied to closeted gay men gaining the courage to truly express themselves however. If you ever longed for a record to replace the similar sounding ‘I Will Survive’ (which nobody needs to hear ever again, right?) then here it is.

Agnetha Faltskog – Wrap Your Arms Around Me

A personal favourite from the sub-genre of ‘morning music’ (also known as sleaze, somewhat oddly given its propensity for songs with over-earnest and innocent lyrics). These were the songs that typically got played as the sun was coming up, as lovers new and old came together to steel themselves for a return to reality and/or each other’s arms. Generally more downtempo and prettier in tone and sentiment than the brashness of peak hours sets, the former Abba singer’s track here is exemplary of the form. Luke Howard, of the infamous Vauxhall-based Horse Meat Disco devotes his soundcloud page pretty much exclusively to mixes of this sort – can’t recommend it enough.

Drake // The Hopeless Emptiness

A hard drive clearout unearthed a piece i wrote about everyone’s favourite weirdo popstar super-creep, drake. assembled in the midnight hours shortly after If You’re Reading This… was released, it kind of got away from me a bit and never quite made it as far as its intended publisher…

‘I need some company, I need some company, I need to take my mind off being me in my prime’: Drizzy Drake and the bewildering twilight of his millennial generation…

It’s Halloween of 2011 and I’m at some party. I’m in my final year of university, and had to be dragged there – my preferred way to spend the evening around that time was to freak out about not applying for internships, whilst streaming American sitcoms and not applying for internships. It’s late when I get to the party. I know maybe one friend there, who spends the evening preoccupied with her on-off boyfriend. I’m just about the only one not in costume. Somehow ‘late’ becomes 3am and I’m stumbling; the room is swaying and a rapper, half Jewish-Canadian, half African-American is intoning relentless mixed metaphors and half-realised insights into his relationships with women; with the world in general. It’s 3am and everyone is stumbling, enraptured with fists in the air: chanting along to the first ‘proper’ album by Drake. “I’m Doing Me, I’m Doing Me right now,” and it’s all fed through two or three layers of vocals and vocoder effects and gold-tipped wires and machines made in Japan in a studio in Toronto; West Hollywood; Jamaica. Finally here, recreated on cheap components in a rented house that shakes with every badly over-exposed bass note, sending everybody crazy with that weird, prescient mantra. I’m Doing Me, I’m Doing Me right now…

read the whole piece here.

Discarded Sleeping Stations – George Hields (hostem, 2015)

My dear friend George recently had his Discarded Sleeping Stations photo series published by hostem, who i worked with when they were launching womenswear for the first time a couple of years ago.

It’s difficult to describe how happy it makes me feel when i think about this, without trying to sum up ten years of always fluctuating but always heartfelt friendship. George is one of the truest creative spirits i’ve ever met: relentlessly busy with his art, music and whatever else he turns his hand to. I feel honoured to have played a small part in the project, helping George to articulate the influences and ideas that went into its creation for the foreward.

If it’s not sold out of its limited run yet then i sincerely urge you to head to Hostem – it’s as beautifully put together as everything else in the place.

You can read more about discarded sleeping stations over at hungertv.

 

 

 

She Kept Things Happen In A Silent Way I’m Better Like This In A Silent Way

I found this mix the other day that i must have made a year or so ago on my slightly beat up pair of 1210s. It’s broadly ambient and abstract and a little bit noisy in places but occasionally actual songs bubble to the surface and I still like it, which rarely applies to anything i do after similar amounts of time have passed.

I make these sort of things to justify the amount i spend on records and to keep me sane on commutes.

You can download the mix here.

Tracklist:

waters above the firmament – clay rendering (hospital productions, 2014)
donato dozzy – terzo giorno (stroboscopic artefacts, 2014)
alone on the beach (beach mix) – ron morelli (hospital productions, 2014)
i walked home beholding – mount eerie (p.w. elverum & sun, ltd., 2012)
yonder – cave slave (LN-CC recordings, 2012)
the mirror reflecting pt. 2 – the haxan cloak (tri angle, 2013)
eight methods – killing sound (blackest ever black, 2014)
a change of attitude – dalhous (blackest ever black, 2014)
less – nils frahm (erased tapes, 2011)
please remember – deafheaven (deathwish inc., 2013)
[can’t remember which track] – shampoo boy (blackest ever black, 2013)
sorrow – life without buildings (tugboat records, 2000)