Music, Nightlife, spoken word

SPACESUITS ARE GO!  Honour and a pleasure to be asked to float the astral planes on stage at the Portobello Live finale on Monday at Subteranea.

Ledge sonic astronaut Martin Glover aka Youth (bassist with Killing Joke, producer of everything from Naked in the Rain, to The Verve’s Urban Hymn, n back via Primal Scream, The Orb, Paul McCartney) performed with Gaudi (who’s a regular on Alex Paterson’s WNBC radio) backed by Maf and Ned Scot of prog ambienteers, The Egg (new album coming v soon), with Steve ‘Marineboy’ Norris on guitar, and some talented strings – a cellist and violinist.  And I guested with some raps…



Previous space odyssey collabs between Youth and Gaudi can be heard here.

More classical ambient beauty from Youth here.

Thanks to Gil De Ray for filming. x


Cold Lips 04 + launch party

Art, books, Design, Fashion, Fiction, Film, Journalism, literature, london, Music, Nightlife, spoken word

Please come and celebrate the best edition yet…

FRIDAY 27th April at London Fields Brewhouse

Entry from a fiver includes the magazine (RRP: £100), and ace music and poetry.

I began putting together the features last year.  It’s the kinda thing I’d like to read… designed by the beautifully talented  Personality Crisis who is now on a jet plane!

cold_lips_4_final_apr18 SMALL

Entry includes the new summer edition


THE FAT WHITE FAMILY’S ADAM J HARMER and his one man destruction show

Greta Bellamacina, Robert Montgomery

Stuart McKenzie, Ana Seferovic

Kirsty Allison (COLD LIPS editor) with Steve Norris on guitar

Chris Rotter

INSIDE, on the sexy paper: 💥Anti-fashion by Carl Fox ✨Duggie Fields on Syd Barrett (whose Madcap Laugh album inspired the cover shoot with Greta + Robert) 🔥 In the studio with Billy Childish 💥Malik Ameer Crumpler (Madison Washington) on hip-hop 👁 Judy Nylon on collaboration 💖Beyonce’s fave: Scooter Laforge – on The Odyssey ⚡Jeffrey Wengrofsky on digital subcultures 💥New poetry from Rob Plath, fiction from David Noone, and Joseph Coward (CXR) 💥Centrefold: Ana Seferovic by Tamara Suskic, and her collab with the painter Sam Hacking
and plenty more fashion, literature, art, music against the world. x


The night also celebrates the release of PERFUME by Gil De Ray… 

Gil Perfume

IMAGINE Roxy Music riding into town on balearic horses, all Clash Magnificent Seven after a few lost weeks at the rock n roll disco.
There’s a ska bassline to take us into the summer. FIYA! 💖



Art, Fashion, Journalism, literature, london, Music, Nightlife, Politics, spoken word


words chez moi –  photos by Lilly Creightmore at the NOKI x COLD LIPS party for LFW 15th Feb 18 (artwork below by me for the Tweet Me Up show at the Tate, 2012)

The artist NOKI’s work is Fashion AND anti-brand – ya – confusing, right 🤓🤪😫🤯 (you can read more to understand his work on Cold Lips, and i-D, or in the exclusive interview in the third issue we created for the show – Paypal: studio@coldlips.co.uk with £2.99, and a bit for postage if you can afford it, or visit the www.coldlips.co.uk shop), and in the same way, I don’t really know when a zine becomes a magazine, or a fanzine becomes a zine, becomes a magazine.  Sometimes Cold Lips gets called a zine, sometimes a magazine, sometimes a fanzine.  Labels fuck everything up as much as money, and our desire to have the beautiful things in the world.  I mean – I’d wear some of that new Fendi garb… But my conscience battles with the lameness of existing to an index of any kind – negotiating my life through stupid tokens of success, and signals of others. OM! Be gone!  Whether we want to become collectors of water-chiselled bedrocks from Korea, or a piece of Vetements bearing a DHL logo – let’s not be slaves in a battered joke of a vehicle that’s cruising towards a major crash in a post-Colette world of slavery to pop-up distractors.  So when I see content from fashion lifestyle magazines doing little else but promote the production abilities of their glorious advertisers: LMVH (who look after Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Moet, Fendi, Celine, Dior, Pucci, Givenchy, Kenzo, Mark Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Nicholas Kirkwood, Edun and more) or Chanel S.A. (who own Chanel), or Kering (who own much of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Puma, and more) – or the mega-firms of Proctor and Gamble, L’Oreal and Unilever, all pushing ideas of beauty upon my information-pummelled eyes, just to keep the cash circus circulating, I get sick, and I want to withdraw.  Because that’s just one idea of Fashion.  Not only do I want some of the clothes and the wedge from holding those ads, I don’t wanna compromise anything we’re doing in COLD LIPS – which I started to perpetuate the subculture that created it.  Which I’ll come back to – but meanwhile, rather than bemoan the luxury oppressors who I adore, we shall party.  Which is good.  As I’ve always enjoyed a good underground night out.  So it was an honour to be a part of the propaganda team for the NOKI private view on the dawn of London Fashion Week this February – and later all laugh on WhatsApp seeing FENDI do what FILA do, throwing the South London streetwear irony back in the face of the kids that created that look, and see Feral’s look parade down the Gucci line eleven years late…




We had performances from Anne McCloy, who was a resident at the spoken word night that began Cold Lips, she’s toured with Peter Doherty, made merch for many, and lectures at St Martin’s, asking people to challenge what fashion is, daily. Gary Fairfull stepped up with his NHS poem, he gave the original spoken word night its platform.  Feral Is Kinky – a fashion subculture stalwart, known most for singing Everything Starts With An E with Boy George – but currently slamming it out of the underground gay scene to River Island commercial mainstream brilliance, and back again. We also had the word artist Robert Montgomery and poet/filmmaker/model Greta Bellamacina who are the forthcoming cover stars for Cold Lips IV – it’s SUCH A HOT SHOOT by Lilly Creightmore (we turn Robert into the muse of Syd Barrett as per Madcap Laughs, and dress Greta in Vampire’s Wife).   I also put down some lines.  And the beatbox supremo Killa Kella, and DJs Q Boy and Ladylaw.


Art, Film, Journalism, Music


I first met Kelli Ali when we were both new – I was writing for an MTV mag – BLAH BLAH BLAH (it was actually called that) – I was commissioned to interview the Sneaker Pimps down in Greenwich, for some reason.  It was a day out from Old Street, f’shiz.

As a good journalist, I did my research, listened to their music – got into it enough to write further pieces in MIXMAG, and go on a US tour when I was editing on the fashion mag, SCENE which I edited on (prior to getting sacked for crashing out in the fashion cupboard).  The diary for that US tour is good.

Kelli and I have collaborated a heap over the years.  I did a film for her last album:

We had a party at the W Hotel with Sink The Pink.  It was fun.


Now Kelli’s making an amazing film, Ghostdriver, which sounds all Suicide, but takes from everything hip on celluloid ever: Jubilee, to Warhol, to noir.  It’s done with a cast of all our fave people, and is half-funded.  It’s interesting the way the music and film are phoenixing together.  Neither is yet quite finished, but bouncing between mediums – you can be part of her journey by Pledging.  The cameras are rolling.  The piano is playing – it’s kinda trip-hoppy, deep jazz.  And is dark as life.  I play Grace Rider, Hollywood actress.


Kelli continues to be a great influence and inspiration.  Someone who never stops learning.




books, Fiction, Journalism, literature, london, Music, Nightlife, Poetry, Politics, Short story, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club

Started a fash and spoken word zine:  BUY IT

Beyond the editorial, read why in a piece for the Literary Platform

Look at these gorg photos by Charlotte Freed from the London Fashion Week party at The Library.  Thanks to DJs, Gil De Ray and Feral is MC Kinky, and all the amazing performers, and supporters.  Massive appreciation to London Fields Brewery for keeping artists happy

For more info: studio@coldlips.co.uk


Like Cold Lips on Facebook, Love us on  Insta, baby




Music, Nightlife, Poetry

The night before the votes came in…


Was my pleasure to MC amid left-bank optimism in the wilds of Brixton.  Johny Brown – frontman of legendary folk-punk heroes, Band of Holy Joy invited the gorgeously French band over, A Singer Must Die 

– so it all went pretty indie.

Packed crowd also got to hear Morton Valence.  Love.  Robert ‘Hacker’ Jessett looks like George Michael undercover, Anne Gilpin’s more bonnie than her Hacker Clyde.  

When doing my homework, I discovered how poetic translations can be – finding zillions of versions of Baudelaire, Rimbaud & Verlaine.  Being the kind of girl who has to order the first thing she sees on a menu, in fear of indecision, I went freestyle and opted to make my own really bad translations below…


Enemy.  Baudelaire. Kirsty translation v1.

My youth was nothing but a tempest storm

Broken brilliant with sun rays

The thunder and the rain have ravaged me

And sickened fruit in my garden lays

Voila – touched by the autumn of my creative life

I prepare my shovel and pick

To reassemble the earth and soils

Arrêt – this water must not lick through cracks to tombs beneath

And who knows if the flowers that I dream

of finding in this sun will root or wash away, a tragedy,

Never finding the mystic thing which offers their vigorous beauty

O doulear! Alas – time eats life

and the obscure enemy locked to our heart is blood lost,

growing from this fortified dust…

In response to my enemy

Time is my enemy

Not nature

I fight in bars

On dancefloors

In praise of love

Of life raw


At the aftershow

Before there was Burroughs, shooting his wife, Rimbaud shot Verlaine.  

And after Rimbaud came Penny Rimbaud (creator of anarchic band, Crass)

Penny for your Rimbaud (based on this video interview with Ian F Svenonius on Vice)


Go military.  Go Defense.

Give me a penny for your Rimbaud.

Those left behind

Must get out of bed

McLaren, Branson, cash from chaos.

Exit the existential mess

Take action

Get out of bed.

Time and space are the replacement of place

The holocaust is the spirit of displacement

Accepted face

Of a corporate seditionary policy

Anarchy is rage not rave

Get out of bed

Get out of love

Our price is now

Insurrection, mutiny – see treason.

How does it feel to be mother of a thousand dead

No agitprop to Iraq half a million dead

5 years prep to make the platform blow

SantaClausification of dead rockstars

Dead philosophers

Dead myths

Full Marx Mythomania

There ain’t gonna be a revolution

We have to go sideways so we can’t be seen, he said

The true dimension will be like a prairie fire

Conrad’s anarchist will destroy GMT  – universal time…

Anarchists get out of bed.

We shall be moved

We must not bemoan the loss of dinosaurs

Or the concentration camp we live in now

As long as I can remain outside of it

And get out of bed


Vote symbolism

Vote dada

Vote surreal

Vote metaphysical

Vote rock n roll

Vote for the commodification of music
Vote disco

Vote anarchy

Vote punk

Vote religion

Vote politics

Vote homo

Vote labels

Vote The Band Of Holy Joy​

Vote Gainsbourg

Vote Russell Brand​


Vote Kardashian

Vote vagabond

Vote war

Vote rave

Vote pagan light

Vote silk

Vote nylon

Vote outsider

Vote for death

Vote for soil

Vote for now

Vote for the future

Vote for the past

Vote cancer

Vote hallucinogenic

Vote psychedelic

Vote adolescent

Vote child

Vote baby

Vote death


What did one socialist lobster say to another socialist lobster when it went to the voting station alone?

Stop being so shellfish

A very popular translation of Paul VERLAINE’s – THE BULLY – ‘lesser poet’

Through Interminable Land…

(Romances Sans Paroles: Arriettes Oubliées VIII)

Through interminable land

Ennui of the plain,

Vague snow once again

Gleams like sand.

The sky is copper

Devoid of any light,

You might almost gather

The moon had lived and died.

Floating clouds

Grey oak-trees lift

In near-by woods

Among the mists.

The sky is copper

Devoid of any light,

You might almost gather

The moon had lived and died.

Wheezing crow

You gaunt wolves too,

When north winds blow

How do you do?

Through interminable land

Ennui of the plain,

Vague snow once again

Gleams like sand.

— [this was riffed on the back ]

Devoid of light

Avoid the light

a void of light

Metal sky

Bullet hole stars w

Slate oak

Roots remain underground

Sheltered from wheezing city crows

Hunted by gaunt smacked up wolves

Queens of the night

Slumberous reward of narcolepsy

The warmth of dreams

Light – remove it

Through interminable land

Ennui of the plain,

Vague snow once again

Gleams like sand.

Condemned Women  – BAUDELAIRE [didn’t read this, or translate it – lifted from the amazing http://fleursdumal.org]

Like thoughtful cattle on the yellow sands reclined,

They turn their eyes towards the horizon of the sea,

Their feet towards each other stretched, their hands entwined,

They tell of gentle yearning, frigid misery.

A few, with heart-confiding faith of old, imbued

Amid the darkling grove, where silver streamlets flow,

Unfold to each their loves of tender infanthood,

And carve the verdant stems of the vine-kissed portico.

And others like unto nuns with footsteps slow and grave,

Ascend the hallowed rocks of ancient mystic lore,

Where long ago St. Anthony, like a surging wave,

The naked purpled breasts of his temptation saw.

And still some more, that ‘neath the shimmering masses


Among the silent chasm of some pagan caves,

To soothe their burning fevers unto thee they call

O Bacchus ! who all ancient wounds and sorrow laves.

And others again, whose necks in scapulars delight,

Who hide a whip beneath their garments secretly,

Commingling, in the sombre wood and lonesome night,

The foam of torments and of tears with ecstasy.


We walked through cows lost after milking – confused as the clouds rushing past the moon

Suitcase of books

Sleeping in sacks

Most people get three chances – I got FIVE

Light over flatus, ignus, aqua, terra, and me

Misty lake – babtism with nature

who wrapped like ivy pulling to her core

Beneath the soil

Buried in stolen black vinyl

And everyday I fight nature

From Babylonia, to the path of Venus across the Wiccan sky

Israel where jesus drives a Fiat Lux (let there be light)

To blood of Guenavere

Changing from clown to pallbearer

choking on the rust of gargoyle’s lungs

RIMBAUD – RAMBO – the shooter, the midnight looter – rebel poet, walked out on words by 20,

Dying in Marseille – a leg less than he was born with.

But who cares? Poets live forever.

#art #soho #12inch #12×12 #sleevenotes #newseries #WorkInProgress

Art, Music, Nightlife, Poetry, Short story

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A group exhibition reappropriating the 12 inch record sleeve as a canvas.

24th – 26th April
At artFix London

Private view
Friday 24th 6-9pm

Curated by
Novemto Komo & Steven Quinn

Alex Rayment / Andie Macario / Anja Priska / Anna Kolosova / Blair Zaye / Christina Mitrenste / Christopher J Campbell / Daniela Raytchev / Darren Van Asten / Deirdre Mc Kenna / Ella Fleck / Erin Elizabeth Kelly / Gala Knorr / Gemma Withers / Hannah Alice / Holly McCulloch / Ina Shin / Jonas Ranson / KEELERTORNERO / Keith Connolly / Kirsty Allison / Laura Gee / Laura Liliyana-Raffaella Cogoni / Lora Avedian / Mark Powell / Nathan Evans / Novemto Komo / Oly Durcan / Ricki Nerreter / Satoshi Nakajima / Skeleton Cardboard / Steven Quinn / Super Future Kid / Vicki Cody

Brought to you from residents of Hackney Downs Studios
& friends.

Joy of Punk FM

Music, Radio

Honoured to contribute to Bad Punk – performing a piece by Johny Brown at around 20′. There are also bits from Bill Drummond, Brian Eno – trainspotter’s paradise.

The engineering/production is by Peter Smith, keyboardist in Band of Holy Joy – he’s good, uh?

Images from Phil Strongman’s exhibition of Street Culture at 8 Balmes Road, London, N1 – closes Tuesday.




Art, Design, Film, Journalism, Music, Nightlife, Poetry

Shoreditch’s RED is the creative force engaging local communities through facilitation of the continuing Cultural Revolution in the heart of East London.

This versatile, multi-functional space has welcomed a myriad of creativity through its doors since opening in 2010; transforming a derelict group of buildings and unused land into chameleon like art studios, galleries, live events venues, offices, screening rooms, open air event setting, incorporating a street food market and bars.

In keeping with its ethos of cultural guardianship, RED has actively encouraged not only artists and local residents to engage with the facilities, schools such as St Monica’s Primary have utilised the space and in keeping with their continued commitment to communitas, RED plays host to an annual symposium of the religious arts initiative Urban Dialogues, bringing together people from all faiths.

A year in the making, MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING documents elements of the magic that takes place behind the doors (and often on the walls) of RED through interviews and photographs.

To celebrate the launch RED will be hosting a photographic exhibition and in keeping with its anti-hegemonic practice, 2000 copies of the book will be distributed at the launch.

Additional commentary from visionaries such as Stirling Ackroyd’s James Goff, Tom Burger Bear – one of the chefs who led Time Out! to dub Red Market as being the birthplace of ‘the new food revolution’, curators and artists such as Alice Herrick of Herrick Gallery, Jerwood Prize winning Svetlana Fialova, Paul Sakoilsky, Chris Bianchi, Matthew Hawtin of Minus, former street artist, Part2ism,Dimitri Hegemann of Tresor Berlin, trends author Dr. Lida Hujic , fashion designers: Roggykei, patron Nick Winter, Stephen Shashoua of 3 Faiths Forum, music consultant: Juan Leal, Gary Means’ Alternative London street art tours and more.



Design, Music

See, I always thought it was D, C, G…



and I’d been led to believe this appeared in the punk fanzine, Sniffin’ Glue – but it was actually published first in another fanzine called Sideburns…

(Sniffin’ Glue closed after 14 issues with the sentiment: ‘Don’t be satisfied with what we write. Go out and start your own fanzine.’)

Your house is my acid house: flyers 💊❤️✌️

Design, Journalism, Music, Nightlife

A myth about graphic designers is that they’re sticklers of aesthetics and masters of finding the ultimate font, aren’t they?

They know how to rock a retentive margin. And their pencils are always needle sharp, and in a nicely OCD-straight line. Most def a tonne more file-conscious and organised than the paint-brush wielding crazies who took the less financially instantaneous pathway at art college – under the belief they were secret Hirsts, but better. It’s an old fashioned belief that fine artists hold the higher ground of insanity. It’s a pre-pop assumption that they refuse to sell out to capitalist normality and they have ‘chosen’ to live in their mother’s shed with a Dan Flavin light, making shit video installations about mice being their best friends from the city they have been rejected from, or they’ll solve world peace by forming sculptures out of coffee grinds in the shape of Africa.

Yeah – I came to this realisation when putting together this catalogue for a show about acid house flyers. Although the curator, Ernesto Leal had done the groundwork, tracking down these heroes of rave art, a collection of the first rave wave of designs, it took ’some time’ to co-ordinate the facts of this posteriturial research (posterity/curatorial – yes, basically a timeline) – these designers were rock n roll…

*Ease on by…*

– under the echoes of the utterances of acid house, always said between gurns and rushes upon rave fields of yore – Where are you from? What are you on? (obviously my answer would always be that I was from the school bus and I was on my way home) – we EVENTUALLY agreed on the dates and places and facts of these MDMA artifacts.

One love.

[please click the blue Issuu link below if the artwork doesn’t show in your browser]


Creative direction for the poster was by Wilhelm Finger at Double Decker – – always a dream to work with.

The Fall, the crane and biting Gary Numan’s hand

Music, Scene

Listening to The Fall – hearing more online now than I’d ever heard at 20 or 21 when we put this together for Scene- the style magazine I used to edit on in the grunge days.

Mark E Smith had a girl with him (not Brix), I pinned up her drooping hem after he’d sunk about 9 pints in Finch’s on Portobello Road. They’d taken an early train down from Manchester. We had to get Smith drunk to get him into Jocelyn Bain-Hogg, the photographer’s studio- he’d dealt speed from the doorway years before and it brought back bad memories.

Already that day he’d thrown a window cleaner around atop a crane from the base control in Canelot Studios and bitten Gary Numan’s hand.

The PR, Bernard MacMahon told me Mark paid his band members a weekly wage. Few lasted long.

I’d like to see him play soon, and meet him again, having understood his music better.



Art, Film, Music, Press

Beige Exclusive With Munroe Bergdorf

The following interview is from: http://www.beigeuk.com/2013/06/beige-exclusive-with-munroe-bergdorf/

DJ, model and trendsetter, Munroe Bergdorf is the one of the biggest personalities on the London scene. We caught up with her as she prepares to DJ at the launch party for Beige’s summer issue in conjunction with Kiss Me Cleopatra.

Munroe Bergdorf by Ayesha Hussain

How did you get into DJing?
I first gave it a go when I was at university in Brighton but I was awful, I mean… seriously bad. I had no idea what I was doing whatsoever…  I then started to take DJ lessons when I moved to London about four years ago. I then entered a few DJ contests and it built up from there really… There hasn’t been a master plan as such, it started off as just a bit of fun, but then people kept on booking me, so I assumed I was doing something right…

What sort of music do you play and what can we expect from your set at the Beige party on Wednesday?
My sets are really varied depending on the venue I’m playing at.  I love spinning Old Skool Hip Hop and RnB – the stuff that I was raised on… It always gets such a great crowd reaction and people really get in to it. Generally though, the music I play is a mix current RnB, Pop and Dance, with the occasional ‘OMG THEY DIDN’T JUST PLAY THAT’ old skool jam thrown in to keep people on their toes…  So yeah, you can expect pretty much just that…

Munroe Bergdorf by Ayesha Hussain

You also work as a model, most recently creating some stunning images with Ayesha Hussain. What sort of modelling assignment inspires you and why?
I love working with people who have their own individual style – I hate repeating myself when it comes to shoots or visuals. I think it’s important to always try and bring something new to the table, or what’s the point, right? I love shooting with Ayesha, she’s a good friend of mine and one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. She’s actually disgustingly gifted at everything she does and horrendously gorgeous – it’s actually quite gross…

Munroe Bergdorf by Ayesha Hussain

You’re going to be appearing in Kelli Ali’s video ‘Kiss Me Cleopatra’. How did you get to know Kelli and why do you enjoy working with her?
I am indeed!  I actually met Kelli for the first time after we had shot the music video. I was initially approached by the director of the clip, Kirsty Allison, who talked me through the video treatment and played me the track. I’ve been a huge Liz Taylor fan all my life, so I kind of jumped at the chance to play Cleopatra. Kelli and I have been in touch ever since we filmed the video. We met up recently for some afternoon tea which was lovely, she’s an amazing lady.

Munroe Bergdorf still image by Kirsty Allison Munroe Bergdorf still image by Kirsty Allison Munroe Bergdorf still image by Kirsty Allison

You’re playing Cleopatra in the video – a truly iconic figure. What’s your approach to the part and who has inspired your interpretation? Can we expect a bit of Elizabeth Taylor going on or something fabulously new and different?
The video actually includes some archive imagery of Ms Taylor, which I’m so glad Kirsty was able to include in the final cut. I’m playing a bit more of a modern take on Cleopatra. I don’t want to give too much away though, you’ll have to wait and see…

Behind the scenes image by Alexander Snelling Kelli Ali still image by Kirsty Allison Munroe Bergdorf still image by Kirsty Allison

You also work as a club host, and host the now legendary night Room Service with Jodie Harsh. What makes the perfect club host?
Basically it mainly boils down to knowing a lot of people who like to have fun and making sure that they attend the best events in town. It’s not actually as easy as it sounds, trust me on that one. What makes the perfect host?  Someone who can instantly walk into a room and get the party started; someone with a very extensive little black book, and someone with charm, uniqueness, nerve and talent, of course.

You’ve created clothing lines alongside such major labels as BOY LONDON. Where do you get your ideas from and what is your creative vision?
To be honest I just try to create items that I would wear myself or that I think like minded people would like to wear. BOY LONDON was a great platform for me and opened a lot of doors, but I’m definitely only just getting started, so I wouldn’t call myself a designer. I do however have a very sharp eye for what does and doesn’t work when it comes to fashion.

Munroe Bergdorf by Ayesha Hussain

What’s next in the wonderful world of Munroe Bergdorf…?
This summer is looking a bit crazy. I just got back from hosting a party in Tel Aviv for Room Service, which was bananas. Next month I’m going to be spinning in Berlin and Italy, then New York around September time. I like to take each day as it comes to be honest. There’s lots in the pipeline. I’m just making sure I enjoy it all and learn as much as I can along the way.

Images: Ayesha Hussain
Makeup: Martin Rab
Clothing: Ben Adams, Sorapol and Mr Woods
Music video stills: Kirsty Allison and Alexander Snelling
Words: Alex Hopkins

– See more at: http://www.beigeuk.com/2013/06/beige-exclusive-with-munroe-bergdorf/#sthash.iJ8Yuccn.dpuf

Berlin SubCulture to London NoCulture

Art, Journalism, Money, Music, Politics


I’d been going on at Ernesto Leal to programme Danielle De Picciotto in his Red Gallery in London’s Shoreditch, and am super-proud he invited me to steer this panel.


I knew this picture of Danielle De  Picciotto (with her husband, Alexander Hacke, of Einsturzende Neubatten) prior to knowing much else about her…

It was Chris Bohn, editor of The Wire magazine, who turned me onto Danielle – he was reading her book (The Transgression of Beauty – which I whole-heartedly recommend – she’s a true inspiration, the type of woman I don’t find enough of, and trust her schedule will allow her to perform at Red later this year…) – Alexander Snelling – my boyfriend and I were meeting with Bohn and his girlfriend, Keiko, to discuss a film Alex is directing about psychedelic-techno maverick, Manuel Gottsching (the Berliner who went up a mountain with LSD-guru, Timothy Leary, managed to come down to be chased by Nico, recorded with Ashra Tempel, and made this, the definitive Balearic track, sampled on Sueno Latino, nicked by countless inferiors, re-sampled by Derrick May, who, incidentally, believes Techno is a power greater than the mechanical consciousness feared by The Frankfurt school – which I’ll get to – but let it be known, Gottsching is the DUDE).

So we’ve visited Manuel’s scene in Berlin – and I’ve fallen in love with the city’s embrace of techno-academic philosophies guiding ART (I’m a long-term fan of Christiane F- Hacke’s first girlfriend, and I love the Helmut Newton gallery by Zoo Station, and just knowing that Iggy Pop & Bowie hung out in West Berlin kills me – I’ve been lucky enough to visit amazing private views over the years and have a few of Sven Vath’s Harthouse records, a couple of Kraftwerk, some Detroit, Belgian, some of Jeff Mills Underground resistance and old Tresor records in my collection…) but the biggest appeal to Berlin for me is the rationalisation and need for structural understanding of  CULTURE in the programming at festivals such as Transmediale, and discussions at squatted buildings which support discussion as an essential element of progressing thought and practice – call it Neo-Marxism, or techno-democracy, stemming from The Frankfurt School (which I have State-lectured in – under the guise of Contextual Studies for Media – in the old syllabus for undergrads, before Marxism disappeared from the current outline, which came out shortly after the current government – NB – how the fuck can you discuss technological and democracy without Marxist-models is beyond me – but I find it easy to blame the State’s need to have conforming, non-questioning workers who love life in the Mall – another soapbox/blog, another day)…however, the German need to evaluate is likely the intelligent evolution stemming from their post-Nazi situation, I find an inherent German characteristic is logic and REASON (I don’t care if nationalistic identification is perceived as rascist, again, another soapbox, another blog) AND I love working with Germans for this, in my experience, Germans deliver – and progress is why, when I used to write for NME, DJ, Mixmag and many other publications including The Face, Sky, Dazed and Raygun (before DJing and going onto make music documentaries for BBC Radio) – I was always on about the ELECTRONIC VANGUARD, and that’s what Ernesto’s events have always been about – which is why we’re drawn to each other – but aside from Ecstasy, Peace, Love & Unity, the aspects of rave culture shared by the British and German scene-are people came together from different worlds – when the Berlin Wall fell,  the former-Soviet East and the Western bloc (which had been broken into districts ruled by the ‘Western Allies’, France, the US and Britain – with consultation with West Germany), having parties in warehouses in former GDR-land (German Democratic Republic/Soviet) where ownership and legislation was murky, dancing under initial idealistic ideologies of anarchy and optimism in much the same way as we did around the M25, in pre-Criminal Justice Bill Britain – before super-clubs, capital super-greed and State taxation were instigated by the devisive mega-minds at the top of the power tree –  so what evolved, particularly in the grimy warehouse clubs of Berlin such as E-Werk, and all the ‘stay up forever’ principals of Doctor Motte’s LoveParade, was the Techno philosophy of Newness being the Future.  Space – the final frontier…

Ernesto has a pre-occupying theme of gentrification, which becomes as explosive as Shoreditch rents when combined with Berlin’s 90s trance culture and the MASS POSITIVISM which accompanied the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE NOISE-TOTEM championed by DJs such as Paul van Dyk, a discovery of Mancunian, Mark Reeder who was drawn to Berlin in 1978,  having started The Frantic Elevators with a certain Mick Hucknall – before becoming Factory Records label rep in Berlin, moving into East Berlin – the nutbag – started managing and engineering bands like this female punk band, Malaria!

He formed the band which toured with New Order, Die Unbekannten (as Shark Vegas – a more pop version) with Alister Gray and Thomas Wylder, who went onto drum with Die Haut and Berlin lurkers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds:

Setting up a label “Masterminded For Success” MFS – the initials of the Stasi, Ministry for State Security in East Berlin, in 1990 – he encompasses a brilliant musicological ‘rock family tree’ –  stemming from this post-Geniale Dilettentan (Martin Kippenberger-style post-Dada transdisciplinary movement), post-punk East Berlin-isolation, into electronica and trance.  I’m delighted to get the chance to hear him because cultural entrepreneurialism around the delapidation of the Berlin Wall echoed the rave scene I became involved with in London at the age of about 14 – despite a folk-background, I became a wildchild, aware that acid house had the counter-cultural Power to stand as the last revolution against kill sprees and capitalism, to achieve what Flower Power had failed to…sadly, the fantasy failed again -being part of Thatcher’s youth, I was one of the apolitical monghead tools who thought going to a Spiral Tribe rave was a political dancefloor move (huh hurr), but, it meant a generation led the following generations to float in the bland mediocrity of existence, coupled with Generation Fear – those brought up wary of Bin Laden and if not watching Big Brother, being filmed on CCTV- that no-one can ever be bothered to watch (another soapbox – I’m reaching for the stars on those boxes today).

Our economy has been on a downward spiral since acid house – I don’t blame the drugs,  I’m with the half-glass full, Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, who suggests LURVE will get us out of our current financial straits – basically, positive spending energy encourages positive energy – embrace, LoveWorks – bring it on, let’s just get in debt forever, it will always be future debt.
I’ve previously said I believe there should be a Global Charter of Corporate Social Responsibility (with relative social ‘taxes’ – not wholly binary, or financial – more altruistic and community-based) and with this in mind, should base-level creative projects, such as bars, clubs, and galleries, and those feeding from their existence such as property people and businesses, support the underground matrix of artists which offer them credo – (Shoreditch being a prime example of essential co-existence – if Westwood and McQueen have lots in Redchurch St, will they want to stay there without a little of the grit that attracts hipsters to Boy – or will East have moved South by then – I suspect the rents will have pushed them there) but an alternative model could perhaps exist through something in the grasps of corporations: Land, and the provision of it to artists – seeing as we cannae squat civilly nae more – from September it will be a criminal offense to squat in the UK,  I would suggest areas encouraged giving land to artists to aid gentrification, perhaps if their taxes and business rates aren’t doing so well, what with all these empty shops – but if it is done borough by borough, communication can exist in a real sense between those who need to be provided for in some sense by those bigger than them – let’s call it the the parental duty of the 1% if they can be philanthropic enough to assist, but we know it’ll never work – as long as there is greed and need…
But I hope THE INNOVATOR, DIMITRI HEGEMANN (who’s the key speaker) can spread some advice here – he gives grants to artists, supports them with one job to lead to another, a good guy – labelled a Techno activist through, what I suspect will be a belief about DIY-ism, he had the Fishburo bar, turned it into the UFO club, before setting up Tresor -does his embrace of Techno side along using the Internet and whatever private-app based networks we can think we’re underground communicating upon – to achieve this – because what this talk at the Red Gallery sets out to do, is explore the relationship between Subculture and Creative Industries – Tresor, being a prime example of a Creative project, so passionate in its advancing of the techno arts that it became a philanthropic sport of Hegemann to provide lifeblood to the underground matrix of artists.  Is it as simple as Subculture being another word for Lifestyle – so said Alvin Toffler, the futurist who is cited by Detroit-Juan Atkins (Cybotron, Model 500) for inspiring him with his writing on ‘techno rebels’ in his book, The Third Wave.  Is it true the underground no longer exists in our networked world, and instead, the choice is Lifestyle – and whose we’re buying into, because Money Corrupts Equality.

And if we have to be part of a Lifestyle, can we do it without guys like Dimitri investing in progressive artists in an era where it’s Google vs The World?  (They have  Orwellian-powers you do not want to believe) –  where does the capital fit in with art?  Currently through gallerists – bless their sweet souls, but howabout musicians – it’s hard out there, and writers – wow – well, I lecture, and have a PHD is Ducking n Diving.  Is it as black and white as being either DIY and thoroughly indie-pendent, is there a rainbow of opportunity to find support through sponsorship as a working class artist – or one that has to work.  To offer complete autonomy to artists takes a truly maverick brand, and in my experience, there are very few who don’t want to imprint some level of Ownership, and a corporate-instigated belief system or another bullshit masquerade.    I love the principals of GEMA (the copyright society of Germany) who are responsible for ‘protecting artistic works’ but such are their endeavors, to protect the artist as a creator, they are superstrict – and German YouTube is not as liberal in content as elsewhere (another blog -Creative Commons etc and the need for ownership).  Is freedom of expression the same thing as freedom of audience – in Idealistic times, yes.  Which seem historical by their very notion – amoral times, ladies and germs (that’s a Garfield-ism, he was my philosophic hero when I was growing up).

Is there a middle ground of compromise where artists don’t have to do as De Picciotto and co did – which was recluse to a castle, only to have a hundred skinheads as their door- or is the point to co-exist, to log-in to culture and leave the studio as and when required, rather than build a wall around culture, forcing us to totally DIY it, leaving our small castles to get attacked – do we need to be more unSocial than Social – UNwiring ourselves to the networks where corporate/capital cyber-control leave Analogue the only freedom fighter in the ongoing flotilla of post-modernism – because even private networks will always be hackable, because people and artists will always be buy-able.  Let’s all go and buy an island of ideals.  It couldn’t possibly be this planet.  What is the revolution?  As I read in Vanity Fair’s current issue, Woody Allen has endorsed Smirnoff, Kurt Vonnegurt – credit cards, Hitchcock- Western Union and Salvador Dali – Alka Seltzer (!) – Bobby Gillespie sold his soul to Uniqlo – if you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’re stupid enough to believe it – but free economy… (another box of soapsuds, another blog).
As I draw to a close, I would suggest the corporate wave of digitalisation has overthrown the Techno dream of a democratic internet, and new-tech or old-school are the NU NEW.  All power to Anonymous, or maybe not an oligarchical portion.  Folk jumpers and the craft they represent worn with iPhones continue into the next season, my darlings…(iPhones, I know, still – despite a recession, what can everyone sport?  The symbol of not being lonely.)
So the velocity of techno-times have passed, to be replaced by the arguments for living anti-Socially whilst being wired in – PHEW – had to get that out –
Techno-culture was always the melting of new forms, dripping towards a virtual existence – we are in that place – where morals have been replaced by armageddon.  The devil’s playground, which is what the underworld and new world’s can offer – Money and art, and where the twixt wane, cultural capital and it’s involvement with the state – let’s embrace the arts and intellectual like a fist full of dollars and challenge and progress at this event on Thursday 7th June.  Which is full  – but message me if you’re super-keen and I maybe able to swish you in under my magic cape…or stay tuned on here, Twitter and my mailing list, and I hope to upload the discussion soon…
My mind is sure of one thing, there needs to be cultural friction, such as that caused in the competition for Berlin to reclaim its capital status against Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and the riches of Bavaria – cultural friction causes us to fight for progress, unless we’re just creating, man, either in a fog of auteurism and drugs – what Simon Reynolds enchantingly labels some aspects of techno as, “A full-scale retreat from the most radically posthuman and hedonistically functional aspects of rave music toward more traditional ideas about creativity, namely the auteur theory of the solitary genius who humanizes technology,” or in other words, the bedroom DJ – a precursor to the ‘Dead Boys’ of Japan, who are called so because they literally do not interact with society – and this is the darkside, the last frontier, or crossroads that an artist has to do a deal with the devil at in order to create a new beginning…perhaps the Techno dream has come true.

Crossroads and fringes have to shake their tassels right back to the core to have any effect -Techno was a reaction of modernity, a quest for the future, to live on spaceships, in clinical, scientific beauty – away from the wishy-washy drug music of psychedelia – whether Berlin can continue to do this now that the wall’s come down remains to be seen, or as British politics currently suggest, there is, in fact,  a dark secret that if you Build walls, spectacular things will occur, but only once they’re destroyed.

Where are you moving to next?  I heard Athens is pretty cheap…Britain overlooked the importance of allowing people to live as artists to produce exportable merit.  We’ve been drugged goddamit.  And all nanny wanted to do was help.  I take responsibility…TECHNO FOREVER!!!

(the intro track to this, Sugar Daddy, is made by my ex, Kris Needs – he was double my age, I was young, dumb – and errr, full of…blonde ambition – seriously, I was only just out of my teens…don’t do it, Kids, never mind how much you want to learn…)



Kirsty Allison, London, June 2012

Donde esta la fiesta? Top of chops. Feel la musica.

Journalism, Music

Want to transcend the noise?  Turn your phone off, stick on CULT WITH NO NAME (aka CWNN).  Their fifth album, Above As Below is an uber-thinky, muy beautiful, neo-Frankfurt School platter (the Frankfurt school were a bunch of WWII academics championing the elite to progress culture).  Artwork is by a David Bowie design collaborator, Jonathan Barnbrook.

Singer of CWNN, Erik Stein looks like the guy in the poster for W.E. – the film by Madonna, released in London whilst her ex-hubby’s second tribute to opium-addled Sherlock still haunts the screens.

Feat. guest vocals by my dear pal Kelli Ali,  this is an intense album lightened with the dark humour of a true gothic heart.

There are about 14 tracks, and you can find samples on CD Baby, Last Fm, MySpace – or just buy it for less than a London travelcard on iTunes (and it’ll take you further, maaaaaan).  Updates on Facebook.

Out on Trakwerx, the production is all John Foxx-y synthy pianos but excels to filmic scores and twisted Andrew Eldritch-hooks; there are songs that get in your head, songs that take you to bed, songs that spread a smile like a Nightnurse med.   It’s an album that makes every second count, slows you down to bring you up.  Like a sunrise over an ocean.

Hard copies, I am assured, will be available soon.

Yup – they need a video…and I’m seeing them tomorrow – maybe we’ll go to the Paul Morley talk about dead heroes at the Southbank.  My book, which is nearly at completion (again, you yawn) has a bit of a dead rockstar theme…

My other music top chops at the mo are:

Keep a rockin your freeeeeee worlds, bludz.  x

And here’s a nice look in Barrio de las Lettras in Madrid.  

117 studs

Medicine, Music

Rock, man, you find your look and die in it…here I am, forever rock chickening across the road, which is my kitchen after a hellish attempt to drive around a few places for the latter part of this afternoon.  On our way to a parteee on the eastside for a baby Shoooomer who’s reached adulthood, supposedly, partying like it’s 1989…but just back from a few hours reacquainting with one of the first people I ever interviewed, when I was a teenager, for Loaded (before it turned into lame porn, it had intentions to change the face of journalism in a gonzo-styleeeee).  Got a project he’s helping me on.  So happy about that.   Boots, a gift from the generous Kelli Ali, she picked them up in San Francisco.  Jeans, always the same, McQueen.  Shirt, Antiq Batiq, Kelli gave me this too, from LA.  Jacket, McQueen.

41 days of consistency

Music, Nightlife

Sometimes the world can feel like a series of missed events – tonight I didn’t make it to Istanbul for Istancool, nor to the PM Manor, not to the Posted private view in East London, nor to many creative plans lacking completion due to lack of deadlines and home improvements…rather than float around in churches with a video camera, or shapeshifting from one free bar to another, I soaked the oils of the day down the plughole prior to meeting my art school sweetheart, Rev Milo Speedwagon.  We went to see The Band of Holy Joy, who do a fully recommended couple of shows on the infinitely experimental Resonance FM.

The Band of Holy Joy, with special guest Jah Wobble…my heart collides with the earth when the violin meets the bass and Johny Brown performs with that full richter scale of emotions.  The Band of Holy Joy were big in the 80s, messed up with a few too many journalists (there was no media training in those days)…Johny has since worked on the leftbank at the Sorbonne doing theatre work with Ginsberg’s producer, and much more, shout out to Inga for the beautiful VJing.

Shakermaker, Reverend Milo Speedwagon, stellar fella playing the big top at Bestival later this year, and down at the Lock Tavern in Camden on Saturday, perchance.

Dress from the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (where I also bought a gueeetar, mainly because it rhymes).  Shoes, seen on other days, bought with Cannes in mind from an Oxfam in Islington.  Rhinestone necklace and Massai bracelet, gifts from girl-pals, which I’m aware I have an infinite lack of pictures of thus far…they will appear…

Wow, 40 days of this…325 outfits to go…

35 prayers to the wardrobe

Fashion, Music

Newspapers, if it weren’t for the flags on the outside of the buildings they’d be like any other open plan offices, they never live up to the excitement portrayed in The Paper, but they have a noir-ish attraction, guess it’s the power and the deadlines…so today, after I returned from the excitement of a meeting with the best newspaper in Britain, I got in, threw the shackles of  clothes to the floor, then thought, oh man, I’ve not done my blog…I put on an apron, the pictures looked the wrong side of pornographic (like readers’ wives), so here’s one of the outfits that didn’t make it out of the door for the meeting, I didn’t wear it, because, uhm, well, it’s totally inappropriate.

Shoes, Nadia by Beatrix Ong (woooo, many on sale, http://beatrixong.com)

Long top, as dress, Chronicles of Never.  Leather braided tunic, Todd Lynn.

Eyeshadow, Black Star by Chanel.

The lovely picture below was taken by Dougie Wallace, http://www.dougiewallace.com

Also on my travels today, I fell into a church, I often do this, the one on the bottom end of Hanover Square…but how could I possibly resist this one…St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe…c’mon, pray to the wardrobe.

The photos below fell off my camera whilst I was downloading the Wardrobe Church images…Pictured, Micko Westmoreland (who was the brilliant Bowling Green in the 90s) and now does some very cool stuff, www.mickomusic.com, collaborating with his friend who spends much time delivering art therapy to people in head recovery, with foil covered geodesic shields being the best solution to mental illness of any kind…taken at The Betsy Trotwood a couple of Sundays ago at the Ivor Cutler tribute gig.  Cutler collaborated with The Beatles on The Magical Mystery Tour film, playing Buster Bloodvessel, the bus driver…

Day 18s and over only

Design, Fashion, Music, Poetry

Up the nylon carpeted stairs of 71 St John Street, past the PYMCA and Espionage offices is the new Biba.  The Mrs Jones Emporium provides salvage to rock stars and rockette starlets, from Paloma Faith to Kylie.  With a plastic flower strewn roof garden, living-room style hairdressing salon, and full transform-your-lifestyle kit shop, you have entered the entrancing world of my pal Fee Doran (aka Mrs Jones).  It’s a mantric chamber to leather, feathers, silks and tails.

There are clothes (many have been worn by musicians, various designers), interiors (brilliant collabs with furniture maker Louis Baker and others), alongside various art (including gorgeous Indian god prints by Crazy Girl),  It’s pure Mr Ben.  Fee’s style is the best amalgam of magpie vintage, from Woodstock to Studio 54, Essex hairdresser to Shepherd’s Bush Market.  I love her, and her dog, Ruffles, or something, currently sporting  orange tiger stripes.  Fully recommended.  Prices start at £7, for an eggcup reading ‘you’re doing my head in’There’s a full story with Mrs Jones that I did a while ago here… (you’ll have to root around between other interviews all done for Channel4.com)

Also on my travels today, fell into Darkwave on Lamb’s Conduit Street.  Inspiring interiors.  After a peppermint tea in The Bloomsbury Lounge I went to a lesbian moustache convention, sorry, a poetry gig, read something, then finally got to see Woman E who bring drama to electronica, in a good way.  Rennaisance being my fave track today, with the rap, ‘90s throwback, panic attack’…perhaps.

Woman E.  Putting the E into EuroElectronica.

Today, pictured in the Blooomsbury Lounge of the Perseverance pub on Lamb’s Conduit Street, wearing: Alpuharran poncho, available in good tourist shops in the mountains near Orgiva, Spain.  Aubergine leather boots, McQueen.  Catsuit, American Apparel.

A lady looking for freedom in Hoxton a few nights ago

Cooler than a smack sorbet, John Foxx, playing his Analogue show on Saturday.

See post, Day 15, White Out at the Roundhouse

Louis Eliot and the Embers: from last night, my mum would like it too.  R2, get on it!

See post ‘She was just 17’

Day 15, White out at the Roundhouse

Fashion, Music

Oh no, the birds are tweeting morning.  Just back from John Foxx, I’m in one of his films, y’know, Tiny Colour Movies. Foxx is the original synth pioneer.  Cool as lights in a tunnel.  Gary Numan DJed for him tonight at the Roundhouse, late, stuck in his CAR, ironically.  Took Kelli Ali, hung out with Eric Stein from Cult With No Name.  Showcase of classic pieces like Underpass and The Quiet Man, alongside Glastonbury-raveworthy new pieces with  Paul Daley and Benge (who’s recent album 20 Systems charts 20 different synths, historically)…Great visuals, diverse set, analogue styleee, using machines notorious for going off pitch, immaculately controlled.

What did I wear?  White.  Most people were in black…Skirt and jacket, Alexander McQueen.  Two vests, one underneath, Abercrombie & Fitch, one on top reading ‘Punch Drunk & In Love’, Blue Blood.

Agent Provocateur

Journalism, Music

First published in the mid-90s, in Dazed or Scene or NME or Muzik or somewhere, I can’t remember.  This is an interview with a band I loved, Agent Provocateur.  READ IT, had me in stitches.  I think Marcus Piggot & Mert Alas must have taken pictures because I’ve got a vague recollection of doing the interview round at theirs…

I lost all my cuts when I left my old place on Exmouth Market…but have just unearthed a vintage Bloomsbury box file of old gonzo journalism drafts and notes…



Scene/ Lemmy & Ozzy speak

Journalism, Music, Scene

Originally published in Scene, December 1997.  Scene was a gorgeous, luxuriant fashion magazine published by a multi-millionaire.  I was contributing editor in the late 90s.

LEMMY:  How did the black magic associations originally come about?  Was it a fantasy of yours or Tony’s (Ozzy’s guitarist) – or was it just designed to titillate?

OZZY: There never was a black magic thing! We were called Black Sabbath purely because , at the time, there was just all this bullshit, flower-power, San Francisco shit and living in the industrial polluted town of Aston, near Birmingham, it was like ‘What the fuck are you on, mate?’  They were buying bells (bellbottoms) without enough money to buy a pint.

LEMMY: And you were wearing a kaftan, right?

OZZY:  It’s all right to talk about peace and love, but people were making bells and kaftans and manufacturing flower power shit, making dough, and Tony turned round one day and said ‘Isn’t it amazing that people buy this stuff when they’re not really into it?’  So we decided to start writing scary music.  It fucking scared me!

LEMMY: That dove biting thing that you did in New York backfired.

OZZY: It was never done as a publicity thing, it was actually done in pure innocence, I must confess.  I’m 49 now and my epitaph is going to be ‘Ozzy Osbourne – the man who bit the heads off various creatures’

LEMMY The bat was bad news wasn’t it? (Ozzy had to get treated for rabies after eating the bat’s head)  The audience even started chucking rattlesnakes on stage.

OZZY: It got kind of crazy. This policeman came to a gig and he said, ‘Which one of you is Ozzy Bourne?’  I said, ‘Me’, and he said, ‘Do you realise the effect you’re having on the population?’  I was like ‘What do you mean?’ That was when he showed me a polaroid of a guy in the audience wearing a cow’s head on top of his own head (There’s a prolonged silence on the tape while Ozzy and Lemmy remember just how crazy things got) I remember seeing Hendrix play at the Woburn Abbey Festival and I was fucking stunned because I thought he was faking how cool he was.  Everyone else was smiling onstage and being all nice and everything and then on walks this weird guy with gypsy clothes on and he had the most awesome sound.

LEMMY: I was there too.  I used to work for him.

OZZY:If you saw that now you wouldn’t believe it was fully legit.  Him doing that with his teeth – I thought he was playing to tapes.  Until then it was all this happy music.  Even The Beatles and The Stones were playing happy music.

LEMMY: Yeah, The Stones, yeah.  They tried to copy Sergeant Pepper on the Satanic Majesties record.  Next question is did you have a particular sexual fantasy 20 years ago? And if so, has it changed?

OZZY: I wanted to screw my current wife in 1979 so I left my old wife for my new wife.  In those early days I was out to lunch almost all of the time.

LEMMY: You’re out to breakfast now.

OZZY: I had lots of fantasies, but since this AIDS thing’s come out, and since I got older, sex isn’t such a big deal in my life anymore.  In the old days the biggest fears we had were catching syphilis and herpes

OZZY:Do you know that across the road from here, when AIDS first came along, there used to be an advert for diet chocolate and it said ‘Lose weight with Aids’ The chocolate was called Aids!

LEMMY: I remember that quote of yours: ‘The only black magic is chocolate’ I was there to witness to the five monks who visited you on the Blizzard of Oz tour – they were chanting outside your room

OZZY: I don’t remember it really.  I never realised there was black magic until we started getting letters inviting us to gatherings and ceremonies.  I thought it was a fucking wind-up.  They through I was the antichrist.  If you start meddling with dark things, they come back to you. I don’t believe there’s a God sitting on a cloud playing his harp.  I think we live in heaven ad hell.  All the temptations are here on earth.  Can’t fuck, can’t smoke cigarette, can’t get stoned, can’t drink, so what can you do ?  Pray.

LEMMY: Do you think it’s important to have a fantasy to retreat into and do you think that’s dangerous or beneficial?

OZZY: I think more good constructive fantasies are needed.  When I found out Santa Claus was rubbish I was devastated.  As men we’ve all been through ‘I wouldn’t mind getting her in between the sheets!’ But then once you’re done, it’s over.  My greatest fantasy has come true and that’s being a great  rock n roll player, a better thing couldn’t have happened to me.

LEMMY: What was your expectation of stardom and is it as you though it would be?

OZZY When I was a kid the problems were all about money and that was what the arguments were about.  Stardom doesn’t eradicate that.  I was absolutely entrapped by Beatlemania.  I wanted to be a Beatle.

LEMMY: I was in the fan club, me.

OZZY: I bought Beatle wigs, the whole nine yards.

LEMMY: John Lennon was shot because he failed to live up to a deranged fan’s vision of him.  What do you think of that? Have you ever felt threatened by it?

OZZY: It’s an occupational hazard in this business and the media makes it worse.  Lennon was one of my icons and the combinations of Lennon with McCartney was like sweet and sour.  I wrote a letter to People magazine after they put the Lennon’s assassin on the cover.  I said that when they do things like that, that’s when fantasies get dangerous.  Violence is part of reality – we haven’t yet stopped wars.  I do feel threatened, yes.  But if you don’t wanna fall down, you don’t stand in slippery places.  In the old days, I used to drink and get stoned, that pump of booze and drugs, I ended up doing crazy shit

LEMMY: You were anybody’s.

OZZY: You can do heroin and jaywalk on the M6 – the power of destiny will kill you when the time is right

LEMMY:Heroin changes you into a dog

OZZY: I’ve been into various rehabs (mainly for alcohol addiction) throughout my adult life and heroin people are different, once they give up they’re pissed off and they act like they’ve given their soul away.  You and I have seen it a million times.  The graveyard’s full of them.  I don’t know many successful users.

The Guardian / one man bands

Journalism, Music, The Guardian

‘I get to keep all the cash’

Collaboration be damned – why bother with clashing egos and split royalties when it’s easier than ever to make music single-handedly these days? By Kirsty Allison

Kirsty Allison

The Guardian, Friday 19 June 200

“It’s cheaper to tour,” says Ben Nicholls, matter-of-factly. “The scheduling’s not a nightmare and I get to keep all the cash.” He’s explaining why he does what he does: perform and record dark and intense garage rock as a one-man band, under the name Dennis Hopper Choppers. Not a solo artist – one man with an acoustic guitar, a line in heartfelt melancholia and, possibly, a beard – but a one-man band.

Being a one-man band no longer means having cymbals strapped between your knees, a bass drum on your back, a mouth organ suspended around your neck and sleigh bells tied to your ankles. These days, one-man bands are using technology to realise their musical vision, and to take control of what they do. These new one-man bands are not novelty entertainments.

But how do we define the one-man band? Adam Clitheroe, director of the documentary One Man in the Band, puts it this way: “For me, it’s someone willing to go and try to make the noise of a band. If you’re a one-man band in your head, you’re big enough to do it.”

The godfather of the modern one-man bands is probably Hasil Adkins, a rock’n’roller who claimed to have written 7,000 songs, was a forefather of the punk-rockabilly hybrid known as psychobilly, and who died in 2005. “I saw Hasil Adkins, the founding father of the contemporary one-man band scene, and his rockabilly surf twang made me realise it was time to stop arsing around with other people,” says Nicholls. As a child, Adkins assumed that the records he heard on the radio in rural West Virginia were all the work of one-man bands, and he never relinquished his individual approach to music – he once recorded an album of songs about chickens, entitled Poultry in Motion. But Adkins, obviously, was far from the first. There are records of multi-instrumentalists in England and France going back to the 13th century. By the 19th century, the social historian Henry Mayhew noted blind one-man bands busking on London’s streets. In the following century, the one-man band was often part of a clown act, as well as being common among hillbilly communities of the sort that produced Adkins.

What Adkins had that his successors share was a desire to be the centre of attention, even if there’s also an element of necessity, given that few of these artists would be able to pay backing musicians. Bands just don’t allow individual expression, says Johnny Halifax, who performs on his own as Honkeyfinger. “The very nature of having a democratic songwriting process dilutes any ideas from individuals, and unless the warring egos create something as significant as Jagger/Richards or Lennon/McCartney, the concept has to come from the mind of one person.”

Where the Roland 303 gave acid house its sound, and the Roland 808 gave hip-hop its beats, the piece of technology that has done most to liberate a new army of one-man bands is the Boss Loop Station sampler. Combine that with a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, and you’ve got everything you need to make music as a band, without the hassle of bandmates, A&R men, or distributors. “It’s amazing and revolutionary,” says the Tokyo-based one-man band Merce Death. “Since the Boss Loop Station sampler came on to the market seven years ago, it’s opened up the scene. Before, there was only a delay pedal; this sampler allows us to create and control our own layers to play against.” His setup means his improvised space-metal-jazz sets ricochet across the internet from his suburban home as he broadcasts online.

Johnny Halifax chose to become the one-man band Honkeyfinger four and a half years ago, fed up of the “control-freak behaviour” in bands. He, too, uses technology, but in his case it’s to create new music from the roots of rock: the blues. He loops and layers lap-steel guitar, kick drum and harmonica, with his voice processed through a vocoder, while playing guitar solos on top – and it all goes through a single bass amp. Having the ability to sample and loop enables him to recreate the sound of a 60s power trio, like Cream or the Jimi Hendrix experience, without the hassles of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker spitting blood at each other, or Noel Redding wondering why he isn’t the lead guitarist.

But if technology has liberated some, others have chosen to remain resolutely lo-fi and insist on a purist approach to being a one-man band. Dennis Hopper Choppers, for example. “I lug all the gear on and off stage and do not use any form of technology,” says Nicholls. “That’s got to be part of the challenge, playing everything at once, all by yourself. That’s what people want to see. I am a whole band – I do it without cheating. I make that much sound and it becomes part of the whole live experience watching someone create that. I think the sampler is a compromise: it lacks the true ingenuity which I deliver. It’s the sound-defying logic of watching a one-man band struggle to deliver that’s got to be a large part of the attraction.”

Thomas Truax, too, rejects electronics, preferring to invent his own instruments to provide the sounds he wants. The hornicator, for example, is made from the horn from an old gramophone, a kazoo, strings and a microphone. Something he calls Mary Poppins features two arms that fly out to provide a train-like rhythm. He travels from gig to gig by public transport, a wandering minstrel. And when he performs, it is a spectacle – the originality and seeming impossibility of what he does is much of the appeal.

There’s even a case to be made for human beatboxers being urban music’s version of the one-man band. “In another life, I would have been in a band,” says Killa Kela. “When I started I was going into drum’n’bass or a jungle clubs, and the DJ just stopped, it would go silent, and I’d have to fill that – it was a bit of a circus act. Now I can deconstruct what I’m doing, record it, and on my new album the song has to outweigh the concept.” Kela, though, has moved on – he tours with live musicians and has just announced a new live band, but, he says, “I still turn up at clubs and wait for that silence. The one-man band element is nostalgic, and the performance is intimate because it’s so physical – it’s come a long way from doing the Lambeth Walk with a kick drum on the back. I’m still a one-man band, I like to collaborate, but there’s a saying that with restriction comes creativity.”

Kela’s journey is echoed by Amy Turnidge, whose debut album as Theoretical Girl is coming out soon on Memphis Industries. Theoretical Girl started as a one-woman project, but has expanded. “I am a one-lady band, yes,” she says, “but I’ve lately started to get a band because there’s only so far you can go on your own, and outside input is good. It’s a romantic feeling being on a train, alone on the road. It’s freeing, but then it gets to a point when you want your friends with you and someone to share it with.”

Even the most committed one-man bands feel that sense of loneliness sometimes. After all, it’s hard to be a rock’n’roller if there’s no one else to indulge in rock’n’roll behaviour with you. As Johnny Halifax puts it, somewhat wistfully: “The problem I now have is not being able to blame anyone else for smashing up the dressing room.”

Sunday Times

Journalism, Music, The Sunday Times, Uncategorized
Goth-folk: A walk on the dark side

Goth-folk provides an ideal accompaniment to the gloomy new year

If ever there was a year to embrace your inner dark side, 2009 would be it – the economic doom and gloom means it’s time to dig out old Cure T-shirts, swap champagne for snakebite and black, and embrace the goth-folk revolution.

The latter requires no “folk cardigans” or backcombing. Instead, it’s about the words. As Kelli Ali sings on her new single, The Savages, from the album Rocking Horse: “We are the Savages /Welcome to the dark.”

Down cobwebbed alleys and atop moonlit hills, promoters such as Electroacoustic Club, Antifolk UK and Dead Beat are mining interest in the new depression’s pin-ups, among them Ali, Greg Weeks and Marissa Nadler. “I just don’t understand why people would like asphalt more than green grass and woods,” says the American Weeks, a Leonard Cohen for a new generation. His current album, The Hive, swings from medieval melancholia to sunshine-licked mantras and even a Sonic Youth-like Madonna cover, all recorded in his 24-track analogue studio. Weeks is the founder of the record label Language of Stone, whose stable of artists, including Noa Babayof and Sharon Van Etten, share his passion for antiindustrialisation. “We are analogue creatures, not digital media,” he insists.

Hip, palefaced boys in duffel coats and rosy-cheeked, haystack-haired posh girls, goth-folkers are as likely to be found lurking in the aisles of the organic superstore Whole Foods Market as they are in cemeteries. Their common interest is less likely to be cooking heroin than baking bread. And their antitech, back-to-roots dreams echo the political folk era of the 1960s and artists from Pentangle and Fairport Convention to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. Instead of optimism about world peace, however, goth-folksters have a passion for the macabre and a sombre acceptance of realities such as Primark, The X Factor and the global economic meltdown.

In the mainstream, Laura Marling and Goldfrapp are goth-folky, as are the esoteric sounds of the Horrors and goth-prog mods Ipso Facto. Vincent Gallo, the auteur behind films such as Buffalo 66, who performs poetic chants as a solo musician and within his band, RRIICCEE, is a seminal player. His “art or die” attitude is shared by the classique-gothique folker Françoiz Breut, whose sound has attracted American bands such as CocoRosie to Europe to exhibit art alongside their music. Don’t expect Felicity Kendal in The Good Life – it’s more “Kurt Cobain’s Bad Life”, played with tingly tambourines, flowery guitars and a self-conscious irony.

“I’m really happy, as whenever there’s a resurgence of a darker way of expression, it usually means there’s going to be a shift towards more thoughtful times and craft, where it’s like a quiet rebellion to pick up a guitar and gently coo about the darkness of everything,” says Kelli Ali, the former front woman of Sneaker Pimps, whose Rocking Horse album shows a full embrace of folk with trademark gothic leanings. “I was a teenage goth, definitely. I was so into Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus, I listened to Bela Lugosi’s Dead as a morning ritual. After my last album, I started learning the acoustic guitar, so I revisited my mum’s folk sounds, Joan Baez and Sandy Denny.”

Written over a three-year period while Ali was travelling around Mexico, Rocking Horse is an album stripped down by necessity and overflowing with introspection. “It’s a very performance-based album, because we didn’t have that much studio time with Max Richter, who produced it,” she explains. “We had to get the best performances using real instruments and we didn’t layer or edit as much as I did in my early records, which were very synth-based.”

After recording the ethereal and strikingly opulent Rocking Horse in Edinburgh with Richter, Ali got a band together and independently recorded a live, tour-support album, Butterfly, in a day, self-producing it with her manager, Metso. It is only available to buy at gigs, in keeping with the DIY approach of this new movement.

In America, meanwhile, the self-sufficient high priestess of goth-folk is Marissa Nadler. “I don’t go round cutting cats and making bloody bodies,” giggles the dark-haired icon, whose fourth album, the magical Little Hells, comes out on March 2. On it, she has “gone electric”, a backlash against the sound that brought her popularity. “Mall goths with leather and white faces are so not me,” she explains. “I’m a loner, sure, but it’s more a dream-folk sense of the gothic, more classic, going back to Edgar Allan Poe. The new record definitely has a vibe of Cocteau Twins; it’s dark in tone, I can’t run away from that.”

Nadler, who sees her songwriting as a form of therapy, is a chipper lass to speak with. Then again, goths have always had a sense of humour: the Sisters of Mercy could never have survived otherwise, and surely the comedians Russell Brand and the Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding are goths.

Elements of a more extreme form of goth-folk are identified in the singer-songwriter Rose Kemp. Sporting spiked dog collars, cobweb eyes and Tudor sleeves, she is the scion of Steeleye Span’s Rick Kemp and Maddy Prior. Musically, she marries the traditions of her parents with prog rock and doom metal. “My parents were a huge influence,” she says. “They basically invented a new genre and changed musical history. But I have always done my own thing. The only similar thing is being brought up around the traditional minor scale.”

Don’t be too taken in by unconventional appearances, however – these depressionist leaders are tooled up for modern times as indie innovators available on iTunes. So why not throw yourself into the season of the witch?

Kelli Ali tours from January 15 (www.kelliali.comwww.myspace.com/kelliali ). Françoiz Breut tours from January 19. Marissa Nadler will tour in the spring; her album, Little Hells, is due for release on Kemado on March 2, with the single River of Dirt out on February 9. Greg Weeks is planning a tour for March; his album, The Hive, is out now (www.languageofstone.com )



Art, Fashion, Journalism, Music


Profiles of The Mighty Boosh, Faris Badwan from The Horrors; Fee Doran, designer for Madonna & Kylie; writer & actress Sophie Woolley; Mr Holy Moly; digital maverick Jonti Picking; designer & musician Jonny Halifax; female director Amanda Boyle; photographer Charlie Gray & doctor of fabric Julian Roberts.


Another rock star has entered the art arena. Kirsty Allison digs out the latest recruit, Faris Badwan (aka Faris Rotter) from The Horrors.

Also of interest

The Horrors


Rehab 99

On auto Pilot

“I can’t seem to do any work unless I’m under pressure,” announces the very tall Faris Badwan (aka Faris Rotter) from a rooftop on Hoxton Square.

There are two days left before his first exhibition of illustrations in a new gallery on Brick Lane. With a Pilot pen swinging from his neck, joined by a white fur covered lighter and all manner of Victoriana regalia worn in a haute urbane style, he suggests that Pilot should be supplying him with free wares.

“Who knows, maybe that’s my ultimate goal, to get free pens. Actually that would suit me fine”


“When they get blown up, you actually get to see the texture of the pen. The whole point of it is to put it under the microscope.”

As he poises one leg artfully across the other, sitting at a 45 degree profile to the camera, Faris, frontman to the inimitable five-piece, The Horrors, has a presence of aloof genius. His eagle silhouette carries an art school confidence.

We sit at the same level as the flocks of cranes that are creating a new skyline. This is Faris’ former hood: the place that gave birth to his legend. He’s here to have these stylised and heavily worked books scanned before they’re enlarged for a series of limited edition prints.

“When they get blown up, you actually get to see the texture of the pen. The whole point of it is to put it under the microscope.”

The pages contain words and beginnings of poems or lyrics, atomised between spirals and energy lines that shape mini-stories and tales .They’re magical nets, webs that link and weave and wave.

“It all comes from the same place,” he discloses, “I suppose,lyrics are drawn from the drawings I’ve done. They tell stories. Maybe not apparent ones but there’s always some sort of process behind it.”

Getting in on the act

“In all honesty, I really love the course and I’d like to go back, but I’d be equally happy not to go back as it would mean I was doing alright in this field.”

Pete Doherty’s syringe art exhibited recently in West London with £60,000 price tags, enough for a few good nights out. Perhaps now that records fail to sell enough to rack up rock star mansions, art is offering the alternative.

Ronnie Wood, David Bowie, John Lennon, Iggy Pop – there’s a history of one art form feeding the other. And from looking at the William Blake-esque doodles, it becomes painfully obvious that this is the case.

“I did go to St Martins, technically I’m still there,” Faris remarks. “I’ve got the option to return. I’m studying illustration. In all honesty, I really love the course and I’d like to go back, but I’d be equally happy not to go back as it would mean I was doing alright in this field.”

Long road ahead

“I think you can only get so big without compromising your artistic principles.”

So, the band, man. He feels he has felt the biggest rush of success already, about a year ago.

“The amount of people you play to doesn’t just increase infinitely. It goes very fast, then you reach the natural size your band’s going to be.”

“We haven’t quite reached that size yet but y’know, bar massive unexpected commercial success, there is only a certain size that you can be and that’s certainly something that we’re happy with. I think you can only get so big without compromising your artistic principles.”

Without the make-up of the Sisters of Mercy, or as much hairspray as Robert Smith, and with the ironic humour of the 21st century, they’ve got a long road ahead.

“We’re writing the next album. It’ll probably be out in March. We’ll release another single before the end of the year. We’ve got eight new songs after two weeks writing, so it’s going pretty well.”

Don’t mention art history

“You know, art history at school was so fucking boring.”

At art school one is taught the power of individual expression: “Obviously everyone has influences, but mine aren’t really conscious ones, in all honesty,” he admits.

“I don’t think that’s a good thing. I think you are more inspired when you’re looking at other people’s work, but I don’t really go to galleries or know a lot about artists. I know something about the ones I like, but I’m not really a fanatical student of art. I just like doing it.”

“You know, art history at school was so fucking boring. It was such a chore trying to find out when these people were born and I don’t care, y’know.”

He continues, “I hate painting. I used to like it but I find it so, frustrating. For me, I can’t seem to get the rhythm of painting because you can’t draw a straight line. You have to keep putting more paint on the brush and it’s not for me.”

“I like Marcel Dzama. Egon Schiele is probably one of my favourites in terms of human form. Jean Michel Basquiat… he’s completely different, although quite similar in intensity because he used colour.”

“I don’t. But I like the idea of it…horror vacui, the artform where there’s the compulsion to fill every bit of space on the paper. I think that’s funny, the name, the irony there…”

Is that partly where the band’s name came from?

“No not at all, I probably would have called the band Horror Vacui if I’d have known!”


Predictably, at a Q&A with the Mighty Boosh, open to the public/die hard fans skiving from work, there’s the profound question -would the Boosh rather be a band?

Uh, look at them, the new Peter Sellers & Spike Milligan…they roll in an hour late, pint glasses of Coca Cola disguising half a bottle of JD within, one of them’s wearing a cape, and the other is jostling around, half in awe of his own genius, half disgusted.  Uh, yeah, they look like a band. And today’s onstage guests are the American guy, Dave Brown, who plays the show’s zookeeper, Julian’s brother who plays the ape, and the pixie-ish guy who’s like a friend or toy of Aphex Twin, Naboo.  They’ve just come from some kind of performance/fan manhandling event at HMV and they’re about to go on tour, so are they a band yet?  Y’know they make music?  Bill Bailey – is he a musician?

But first, for this event which is being filmed for DVD prosperity by Baby Cow (Steve Coogan’s production company) and myself, somewhat sneakily, if feels, they start at the beginning.  How did they meet?

“Was it in High Wycombe?” asks Noel Fielding?

“The Hellfire Club”  suggests Julian Barrett

“The first thing you ever said to me was “Is your hair on backwards?” You had a suit on and little round glasses, do you remember?”

Julian, the jazz fan, then suggests it was the Enterprise in Chalk Farm, and then there’s talk of an Asylum, the play.  Rich interrupts, says things like ‘You were shooting crack in your testicles’, whilst Julian makes subtle plays on words and Noel explains the male/female aspect important in any comedic duo…

“I am clearly. Yeah, I’m the woman, Julian’s the man”

Talking about the preparation for their first gig together, sponsored by Oranjeboom, Noel paints a Withnail and I picture of no heating, and no curtains – because they made them into costumes.  Julian made a song with a shower head and a lamp, and those rubber shower head tap things for eyes.  That went a bit weird, and the office workers at the gig thought them a little surreal, so they invented some zoo keepers and put potted plants all over the place.

That turned into a pilot, half with audience.  Then it went on radio, and then TV, and then they were doing Brixton Academy, and now they’re doing Wembley Arena.  It should pay the bills.  It’s about getting the props the right size, they say.

A member of the audience asks the band, sorry, comedic duo with session guys who are really part of the group, what sort of album they’d all be; Noel obviously chooses the Stones, Exile on Main Street, one of the best albums of all time, but then, in his bimbo insecurity retreats saying that he’s probably a little more Milli Vanilli.  Julian Barrett goes for Bartok, the mad mathematician classical guru.

Mike Fielding, Julian’s brother chooses Cypress Hill.  Dave Brown, the smartarse, goes for Chaz and Dave.  And rightly so.  Rich then opts Celine Dion.

The Boosh have the raconteuring spirit of all those who spend time on the road, they are quick witted, and at each other like squabbling siblings.

But they’re still after the golden chalice.  Yes, they would love to do a film. “Do you think we should do a film?”  Yes, scream the audience…and what we have to look foward to is a bit Wizard of Oz, a bit Sinbad…Clash of the Titans is good. For Julian, “Anything by Bartok”

Repetition as much of a cornerstone of modern comedy as this band are themselves.



When a popstar/rockstar wants a mega wattage outfit, they can’t go wrong with the Mrs Jones label. Kirsty Allison stitches together this designer’s story.

Suits you

Rocksuits, popsuits and Scissorsuits, Fiona (Fee) Doran’s sewing machine has stitched a compilation album that hits all the peaks of the last decade’s visual music history.

From Kylie’s white comeback mega-hood to The Darkness’s all-in-one beyond-ironic spandex, the girl responsible for the looks that make popstars rock, and the Mrs Jones label, sits in front of me in her West London kitchen creating a couture tale of her career thus far.

Look like a star

“London’s club culture was our home, man. Fee was styling bands in Hoxton, making clothes for shoots with Marcus & Mert and working on a collection called DoranDeacon.”

Fee is a charming, self-deprecating gal who I first met in 90s Shoreditch. She had recorded a track with Tim ‘Love’ Lee called Give Me A Bite of Your Kebab about her Southend upbringing.

London’s club culture was our home, man. Fee was styling bands in Hoxton, making clothes for shoots with Marcus & Mert and working on a collection called DoranDeacon with Giles Deacon whose label, Giles is now toast of the London catwalk.

She then had a head-over-heels love affair with Mark Jones, head honcho of Wall of Sound record. She had a child whose first word was leopardskin, got divorced, and kept the Mrs Jones name, strictly for business.

Fee is currently working on a Mrs Jones collection that takes wearable elements of designs she’s made for stars. This is being sold through the Mensah boutique on Portobello Road, and via their online shop. It gives mortals the chance to dress like pop heroines.

Fee’s first break

“You know who that was…Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran.”

Ext. Portobello Market stall.

‘Poshgirl’ accompanied by Stella McCartney: Oh I love your stuff, darling! Do you think you could make me something?

Fee: Ok, yeah, whatever, here’s my number.

Int. Poshland, making a bird some trousers.

Poshgirl: You must meet my boyfriend!

Boyfriend: What would you make me?

Fee: Oh, probably a little pink mod suit

Boyfriend: I like the sound of that!

Ext. Street outside Poshland:

Fee’s mate: You know who that was?

Fee: No.

Fee’s mate: Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran.

Fee: Oh! You think he liked the story about me sellotaping my gerbil to the record player?!

Dress me up

“When artists start out they just don’t have money, like the Scissor Sisters, and no one will lend them anything.”

Spilling on her first job with musicians, Duran Duran during their White Lines phase, Fee regales the learning curve of how not to style celebs.

“I made the awful mistake of saying, ‘Just tell me what you want and I’ll make it for you.’ They designed these gold plastic suits.”

After working with Duran Duran for six months, taking midnight crisis clothes calls, she then decided to do an opera. After a few years in the wilds of Hoxton she went on to work with international megastars.

“There was Zootwoman, Kylie, Goldfrapp, The Darkness. It wasn’t until I had a baby that I had to get sensible and work everyday and become normal really. It’s always been about making stuff from old stuff, mixing it up with vintage, then cutting up vintage stuff.”

“When artists start out they just don’t have money, like the Scissor Sisters, and no one will lend them anything. You phone up PR companies and they’re like ‘Who? What?’ not even TopShop would lend them stuff. So that’s how it started; if I can’t get it, I’ll make it.”


“Making someone an outfit is not just about the songs, it’s about visual entertainment.”

Switching to the topic of School of Rock, Fee admits, “It’s like being a fairy godmother. On School of Rock I had a vicar’s daughter, I was like, ‘Take yer plaits out love.’ That was brilliant!”

“I’ve done quite a few ads, Bounty ads, Halifax ads…they’re never much fun ‘cos there’s always that continuity shit. I like to go in and out.”

She continues, “Videos are the best really; take a big bottle of whisky and a cowboy boot as a decanter! It’s like being at a club: music going on, people getting dressed up, hanging out with bands and getting drunk, making them do naughty things.”

“Making someone an outfit is not just about the songs, it’s about visual entertainment…so they’re doing it for me in some ways.”


Who is Holy Moly and how did he position himself at the frontline of celebrity gossip with his website? Kirsty Allison uncovers the man who has a knack for getting the tittle-tattle before anyone else does.

Gossip guy

“Is that Kevin Lygo, the head of Channel 4 meeting with the head of Sky One?” asks Holy Moly.

He doesn’t shut up, like a grinning cruise missile his snout twitches with anticipation for gossip, power and media.

Finding Mr Holy Moly has been like a quest for the Holy Grail. His balaclavaed face is masked behind AKA companies and mysterious email addresses. After a tabloid style chase, contact is made with the media mogul, whose newly launched internet TV station has more higher concept content than your average red carpet clip

The man who is stealing the gossip gauntlet from PopBitch and has created the most successful schleb brand since Heat, is elusive, to say the least.

Man in the mask

“Arranging a meeting in his native environment, the place where he preys for his victims, he offers a full house portfolio of private members bars from around London to meet in.”

Arranging a meeting in his native environment, the place where he preys for his victims, he offers a full house portfolio of private members bars from around London to meet in. We settle on Chiswick House, part of Soho/Shoreditch House. It’s just down the road from his former work place, Sky News.

On arrival it’s complicated. “I’m here to meet Holy Moly,” I explain to the concierge. “He wears a balaclava”.

After a few mentions of the celebrity gossip he partakes in, there’s no way I’m going to be allowed upstairs. So I wait for the man in the mask. Zorro is minorly late, there was traffic en route from his office in Chelsea Wharf.

Mystery man unveiled

“I’m not a Perez Hilton wanting to be the star of the show. I’ve got no desire to present my name as the news.”

He’s a classic media-type, attractive, charming, and focused. He’s not wearing the balaclava, but a bristle of stubble and a confidence associated with these clubs.

He has all the style accoutrements of Media Man, an iPhone in one hand, and a Crumpler-type bag with a Mactop in the other. He is our era’s godhead, fusing new media, old fashioned Thatcherite entrepreneurship with loads of trite tittle-tattle about people who are famous for little more than being mysterious enough and freakish enough to get on a reality show.

I wonder if libel is the reason for his disguise, but he cites a more magnanimous answer:

“I’ve got seven or eight full-time staff, a pool of contributors. Credit isn’t all down to me. I’m not a Perez Hilton wanting to be the star of the show. I’ve got no desire to present my name as the news.”

“Secondly, if I was the only person it would make sense. But there are 150 people who send it all in as their own. I’m there to give props to the people who are sometimes risking jobs, and I can say my name and no one knows.” Schneaky.

The whole truth

“More fool them if they speak to me like a piece of shit. A journalist’s job is to let the public know the real truth.”

So Holy Moly could be anything: the dark shadow, the superhero of truth, justice against stupidity and freedom from idiocy.

“I appear as I am when I’m getting stories, as though I have no agenda… More fool them if they speak to me like a piece of shit. A journalist’s job is to let the public know the real truth.”

This frontline mentality is to be admired…it’s successful. Holy Moly has taken the web by storm. Its irreverent disrespect for the art of fame is uniquely humorous and sits as a welcome polarity to the reams of pap paparazzi cheapo jibes.

No stopping him

“We’re not trying to Dennis Pennis them, we’re just trying to point out to them the stupidity of their jobs.”

He remarks, “I see Holy Moly as being anti-celebrity. If there is some integrity to what these people are doing, fair enough. But we do champion people too. We first picked up on Lily Allen in 2004. We scooped Rhianna and Chris Brown, and the Mark Thompson and Jeremy Paxman biting incident.”

You what?

“Mark Thompson, head of BBC, bit a colleague when he was about thirty. Holy Moly got hold of the story through Jeremy Paxman’s team… So alongside publishing the bizarre, and largely unacceptable, Holy Moly is also agenda-setting, but equally irreverent.”

“We turned around to Kerry Katona and asked her if she’d dipped her chips in ketamine. We’re not trying to Dennis Pennis them, we’re just trying to point out to them the stupidity of their jobs.”

It’s not a direct money spinner either. It’s sponsorship led. And sponsorship doesn’t come immediately.

He mentions, “Server bills of £2.5K a month, then there’s a gap which can go on for some time. It’s a sponsorship led medium. It’s not intrusive, and people don’t pay for content.”

“But I don’t see why it should slow down,” he continues. “I’ve been doing it for 5 years. We could take it internationally, India Russia, Australia. The TV thing could be huge. Anyone that watches American Idol will love it. There’s no stopping the growth of the internet.”

And with a family to support, there is no stopping Mr Holy Moly. He’s honest. He’s in it for the money. And why not.


Jonny Halifax has witnessed the pioneering days of promos and has come through on the other side as a rock god of title sequences. Kirsty Allison meets the man making the coolest film graphics on the block.

Also of interest

Jonny Halifax

Jonny on YouTube

Whatver means necessary

Jonny Halifax is England’s rising rock god of title sequences. Born the son of a sailor, he looks like a wane Lemmy and plays a Mac like a slide geetar.

His recent work for Julien Temple showcases his trademark ‘handmade’ style of heavy folk art. He combines After Effects, Motion, drawing, photocopying, “whatever means necessary… the less software based trickery the better.”

Man of many talents

“Whether it’s music, film or art, it’s all a simmering collection of influences, thoughts, ideas.”

Under the daytime allure of The Royal Oak on Columbia Road there’s a backdrop soundtrack similar to Jonny’s own one man band:

“I supported this guy last year,” he comments, sipping on a Leffe. In an industry that relishes individualism, but excellence in only one area, we continue a debate started on email about the realities of being a creative with many talents.

Jonny is a musician who makes the coolest film graphics on the block. He has climbed the promo/ad/tv ladder to get here, kicking down sub-career paths from across the creative sphere.

“Whether it’s music, film or art, it’s all a simmering collection of influences, thoughts, ideas. This can explode into an expression of sound or image, which finds some kind of form. Finally you hone and edit it into a finished work.”

Rite of passage

“Having the front to give it one hell of a go, and hope nobody asked for too much back-up.”

So the medium might be the message, but the process is the same whether it’s a canvas, a story or a song. The medium could be…a jellyfish.

With a history in pop promos with acts like Lo Fidelity Allstars, Goldfrapp, SchwaB, Forward Russia and The Scare, he now sees those experiences as a rite of passage in filmmaking:

“Learning how to use a camera, organise a shoot, get on with other musicians and commissioning editors, make sandwiches en masse, put make-up on men, put up lights, broadcast formats… Well you get the idea… Oh yes, and directing, producing, and editing.”

“It helped that I was working with a like-minded bunch of gung-hos at the time. We called ourselves rather pompously ‘General Lighting and Power’, but that was what it was all about. Having the front to give it one hell of a go, and hope nobody asked for too much back-up.”

“I think that’s a good thing; DIY rules.”

Scrimp and save

“We grew to make probably better promos on a PD150 and load of software filters than we could on 16mm and a load of free meals in Soho post houses.”

General Lighting and Power was a Tomato-type creative cooperative founded by Jonny, Danny and Ezra (now directing at Serious Pictures) and Nic Clear. Located above Dazed and Confused’s offices in Old Street, they worked across the media arts and architecture. They also had a house band.

“When we started making promos the budgets were getting smaller and smaller – what was being made for ten grand in 1997 was being done for one in 2002.”

“Obviously record sales probably dropped off in this period due to the growth of the web, but in that time we grew to make probably better promos on a PD150 and load of software filters than we could on 16mm and a load of free meals in Soho post houses.”

This punk rock ethic, is partly why the collaboration with Mr Temple was a success.

Paving an alternative path in this field, it’s not surprising that Jonny stands out from the crowd with his iconoclastic style.

Jonny Halifax’s current film projects include gfx & titles for: ‘Tantric Tourists’, ‘Silent Sound’- a Jason ‘Spaceman’ Pierce DVD, an Edward Lear series and a Honkyfinger video.


How can you define Julian Roberts? Is he a filmmaker, fashion designer, conceptualist, culture vulture? Kirsty Allison tries to unravel the mystery…

Also of interest


The SuperSuper


BBC Blast

JulianAnd blip.tv

Show Studio

Suits you

Julian Roberts, aka JulianAnd, is the alternative guru of fashion television, he’s the geek’s Gok Wan, and he’s definitely wearing some trousers. They’re pale black denim, if you’re interested…

A former RA student, and an honorary professor of Hertfordshire University (where he spent three years creating a course, a building and validating his ‘Tunnel Technique’- more of which shortly), Julian has shown 13 different collections at London Fashion Week since the late 90s under several different monikers.

Fitting it all in

“He collaborated with The Royal Institute of Mathematics, who see weird maths in his intuitive patterns, which, they tell him, use negative space.”

As the fashion host of BBC Blast, he serves daily trend missives from Hackney – home of the modern anti-hero. He is someone who will defy cash and the temptations of becoming an LVHM mega-brand for the thrill of the academic and satisfaction of pure art.

Other current projects include designing new vestments for the Archbishop of Canterbury (his dad’s a vicar – it’s all about who you know). He collaborated with The Royal Institute of Mathematics, who see weird maths in his intuitive patterns, which, they tell him, use negative space. He will be touring America where he’ll show people his Tunnel Technique/Subtraction Cutting as phase one, and go into nu wave marketing and distribution for the second phase.

And he’s also recently redesigned the Pizza Express and Nando uniforms. They’re pretty groovy too…mix and match, classic charcoals and blacks. Phew! He speaks quickly, he has to fit so much in his life.

Fashion and film

“I bounce between film and fashion. It’s quite elusive and I see it as a negative sometimes but actually I like being in between things.”

“I like to build something up, then kill it off. I’ll give it all away, destroy the soul, I sold all my patterns online for nothing as a way of moving on.” So he’s the Vincent Gallo of fashion.

“I bounce between film and fashion. It’s quite elusive and I see it as a negative sometimes but actually I like being in between things. Why shouldn’t a fashion designer do film?”I projected a collection on the Natural History Museum and got the people who put Gail Porter on Parliament involved.”

That was his first serious involvement with video. He’s since utilised many different techniques, combining old school 80s computer graphics, projecting them on models and then filming the whole thing and editing together in a very new wave way.

His hip use of video is evolving on the catwalk, although it is yet to cross over from off-schedule to official catwalk selection.

Traditionally in fashion, the clothes do the talking, but equally it is an industry that is famous for being the last to ditch the fax machine. Email has only really having been adopted by design houses in the last few years. So it is possible that JulianAnd style direction, combining video, catwalk and performance will become more widely adopted and integrated.

Stepping out

“We have relentless optimism. It’s about positivity, we’re there to challenge.”

JulianAnd’s other sideline is Super Super. He explains, “This is a loose group of artists, DJs, musicians. I’m creative director of the fashion show we do. We don’t rehearse, that’s part of it.”

“We have relentless optimism. It’s about positivity, we’re there to challenge. It’s about people being too scared to step out of normality and conventionalism, especially with terrorism and things like that. It can be oppressive.”

“I think Super Super is about doing it yourself, looking different. Why not take some risks, play some roles. It’s quite empowering, and I see young people doing that.”

Two seasons old, the SuperSuper show is famous for being extremely long and unorthodox. Combining several different designers, live gigs, and video, it’s like an excursion to the youth club party. The colours and sincerity are on a par with the nu-rave mood of designers like Cassette Playa and House of Holland. Yet this mood is calibrated into a whole movement.

Championing DIY

“When I was growing up in the Seventies, people sewed. Now people buy things from China and forget that these clothes are actually still sewn.”

“There’s a generation gap again,” he says, sipping whiskey sours in the basement of the CrazyBear in London. “When I was growing up in the Seventies, people sewed. Now people buy things from China and forget that these clothes are actually still sewn. I have people asking me, ‘How can I find ethically sourced clothes?’ The answer is make it yourself. I can show you how to do it in 20 minutes.”

Julian’s loathing for the identikit consumerist society we inhabit, and enthusiasm for the current youth cyclone of new invention is very on trend. He is in exactly the right place to be the face to champion the new era of DIY, innovation and individualism.

JulianAnd is fashionable, again. With another collection this season and with Namalee, muse and queen of SuperSuper….TV series, anyone?



Why do people drop down to their knees at the mere mention of Weebl and Bob? Kirsty Allison meets the creator Jonti Picking.

Also of interest

UK Resistance



Albino Black Sheep

No flash in the pan

Jonti Picking is the Picasso of the digital art world. He’s also the Dali, the Chapman brothers and the Vic Reeves.

His regular instalments of uniquely stylised cartoons with characters who have pie obsessions or carry names like Prawn to Be Wild, give many a geek a reason to keep thinking in binary. His www.weebls-stuff.com site has more hits a second than Stock, Aitken & Waterman ever achieved.

A true Flash don, Jonti’s unique brand of (fairly base) humour proves that geeks are funny.

Okay we knew that, but advanced fans of his Flash toons can get into online chat, moving plots forward and some will even become collaborators, as several of his peeps have done.

He also has a top secret comedy series in development with Channel 4 and some very cute toys that make ideal gifts.

Give him some work

“My style has evolved a little with the greater freedom…I’m no Disney though.”

GEEK FACT: Brian Blessed who played Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon does voiceover in the Documentary That Is About Weebl and Bob, the story about how Jonti developed the legendary cartoon characters, Wobbl and Bob. So why does he use Flash?

“You can make pretty much anything with it, games to animations to web applications. When I started to use it waaaaaay back in days of yore, PCs weren’t as powerful and internet connections were pretty slow.”

” As a result what I used to make was fairly simple. I was looking to keep file sizes down and keep the animations running smoothly.”

“These days you can do a lot more including video and 3D. My style has evolved a little with the greater freedom and also simply by getting better at animating. I’m no Disney though.”

Fans may disagree. He is frequently hailed as a digi-god by new media folk. What does he say about that? “They should give me some work then… baby needs a new pair of shoes.”

Home boy

“It’s pretty cramped so we’re looking into moving into offices where people won’t mind me shouting ‘anus’ into a microphone at various points throughout the day.”

Still working from home, “in a bedroom has more wires and flashing things than NASA’s mission control”, Jonti admits, “It’s pretty cramped so we’re looking into moving into offices where people won’t mind me shouting ‘anus’ into a microphone at various points throughout the day.”

“It’s good in a way since you can work when you want and I’m often up ’til 4am doing stuff. It takes a fair bit of self-control though since it’s far too easy to just spend the day playing Portal or Halo 3.

The call from MTV

“Then one day I got a phone call from a chap called Paul (great guy) at MTV who said they wanted to show the series. I thought ‘hell yes!’ and quit to do that.”

Combining music, art and script, Jonti’s interest in all things internet was ignited whilst on a music technology course where one of the modules was using Director.

After working at a London based new media company, “building Flash stuff and various websites for some pretty big companies”, and designing the 3D maps for the first Resident Evil, Jonti’s move into animation full-time was by chance.

“I’d started Weebl and Bob and that had taken off surprisingly well. Then one day I got a phone call from a chap called Paul (great guy) at MTV who said they wanted to show the series. I thought ‘hell yes!’ and quit to do that… I never looked back.”

State of play

“I don’t know many clients who’d be happy with a level where you make an old lady crap herself.”

On the subject of digital art peers, Jonti enthuses, “I love the work of Adam Phillips (www.biteycastle.com), frankly no one can touch him at the moment. Chaps like Cyriak Harris, David Firth (www.fat-pie.com) and the guys I work with on www.weebls-stuff.com (Peabo, Drewmo) are all kind of growing up together making Flash toons.”

“It’s really getting interesting these days and production values have shot up incredibly.”

Funding much of his fun work by corporate work, Jonti has worked on a series of ads for Anchor Butter, Sesame Street (yes, that’s Sesame Street) and done titles and links for a show called Totally Viral on Dave.

He says, “We’re currently making a massive game for T-Mobile which I have to say is a lot of fun and they are surprisingly cool about subject matter. ”

“I don’t know many clients who would be happy with a level where you have to make an old lady crap herself. As for the future we’d like to just carry on doing what we do and slowly grow.”


What is it about photographer Charlie Gray that puts A-listers at ease? Kirsty Allisonexposes the smooth operator…

Also of interest

Charlie Gray

Stuart Smith


Magnum Photos

Jetset lifestyle

Recommending film titles to George Clooney is not something everyone would feel comfortable with, but for Charlie Gray it’s like the first cup of tea in the morning.

Just back from LA, then Monaco, whilst fitting in romantic liaisons with an upcoming hot actress makes Charlie seem like the original 60s Blow Up caricature. He’s got the hustle, the looks and a prolific amount of style and good taste.


Charlie had the usual battles with old guard, bitter lecturer types who bullied most, but seemed to have a soft spot for his potential capabilities.”

Born the son of a record retailer, Andy of Andy’s Records in Cambridge, his mum dealt in vintage clothes. He floated through school, excelling in what he put his mind to. A trait that continues to manifest itself today.

Studying a graphics and history of art degree at Anglia Polytechnic, Charlie found that his lectures clashed…so he went swimming.

Charlie had the usual battles with old guard, bitter lecturer types who bullied most, but seemed to have a soft spot for his potential capabilities. Then finally he fell under the wing of a caring photography tutor, Stuart Smith who introduced him to reportage photography. He also studied typography and design with John Warwicker from Tomato, the innovative graphics collective of the 90s.

This combination provided him with a portfolio which he hauled around the likes of theNursing Times and The Guardian before graduating to doing stills shots on TV dramas and reportage on advertising shoots.

Stuart Smith still edits Charlie’s work and he cites him, “one of the reasons I have been so successful so far”.

Rounded personalities

“You meet some actors and actresses who are surly and just show up; there’s a lot to be said for people who are still hungry.”

“I’m doing Jude Law next week,” Charlie says, before grabbing the phone to negotiate a rate for Hello! syndication. Mr Gray is very well-mannered…it’s something he’s learnt from hanging around the truly professional and successful of the world.

“I think when you get close to someone you realise how professional they are; polite, professional, well turned-out, great clothes, and that’s George Clooney being himself.”

“He drove himself on the first day. He’s always telling jokes, getting involved, looking at the screen. He’s interested in the whole process. He’s rounded. He didn’t make it till he was 35, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. He’s a complete gentleman.”

“You meet some actors and actresses who are surly and just show up; there’s a lot to be said for people who are still hungry.”

“Simon Cowell is another one of those people who has had success later on. He’s thoroughly professional”

Classic style

“When they are completely unaware…when they’ve let go of their status; that’s when you get great reportage.”

Whilst learning the ropes in TV drama, photographing the likes of Daniel Craig doingOur Friends in The North, Charlie began to build up his classic style of Magnum moments with stars.

He has worked on several BAFTA-winning series like the Trial of Tony Blair and the groundbreaking Riot films, as well as filling in for Sky and MTV.

“TV work can be fun. The director of Our Friends In The North, Simon Cellan-Jones did cartwheels on set to wake people up.”

Charlie possesses a style that balances contrasts and saturations beautifully. What does he think makes the perfect picture?

“Being there in the moment. It’s about encapsulating the whole mood of the event. If it’s celebrity-based, it’s about getting a key person talking to another person in their field when their guard is down. When they are completely unaware…when they’ve let go of their status; that’s when you get great reportage.”

On another level, in portraiture, you can see the connection is comfortable and there’s someone uncoiling.”

Sharp shooter

“I think giving away the mystique of how you work is a terrible mistake.”

“I think giving away the mystique of how you work is a terrible mistake,” Charlie confesses.

“I use a Nikon D3, the one that’s very good with high ISA/low light, and I shot the BAFTAs at 5000 ISA and there’s no noise. If I’d used my previous camera with its 1500 there would have been a lot of noise.”

“I don’t get nervous that often but for the BAFTA Film Awards I was in the auditorium for two hours preparing before everyone arrived. I’m not a sweaty person, but my palms were hot!…Being there in the Royal Opera House, I was thinking, ‘I have 20 minutes to get everyone.'”

Nevertheless, Charlie Gray thrives on the adrenalin buzz.


Kirsty Allison uncovers why this playwright is tipped for the top.

Lives the life

Sophie Woolley is amazing. Why? Well she’s beaten the legions of mashed up, self-proclaiming pint glass wielders who hang out in Shoreditch bars and Soho clubs preaching about the artistic legacies they’re going to leave for the world.

Sophie was always there, sitting, observing, polite, witty and erudite…but Sophie would be actually doing it, rather than talking about it.

Club together

“People who helped me along the way are club and literature promoters like Ernesto Leal, Sean Mclusky, Joe Muggs and Melanie Abrahams.”

Performing in nightclubs was where she started, reading poems that were slick, innocent and funny. She then wrote the DJ Bird column for Sleaze Nation, did some stuff for Shoreditch Tw*t and appeared in the Comedy Lab pilot on C4.

She says, “People who helped me along the way are club and literature promoters like Ernesto Leal, Sean Mclusky, Joe Muggs and Melanie Abrahams. I started off performing in cabarets and discos and writing specifically for those environments.”

“I even moved to Brighton for a year to work with Jamie Liddell and Matthew Yee-King – that went wrong though. I went off in a musical collaborative direction and it turned out to be a dead end. Even so, we did create some great things which really worked, but they were just moments and not enough.”

Run with it

“In the beginning I approached the running theme as a kind of smirking outsider – but then I ended up getting addicted to running.”

Her dark satire, When To Run sold out on a recent run at the Soho Theatre, and is still touring Britain. In June, her new play, Fight Face opens at the Lyric in Hammersmith. She’s also just signed up to work on some TV sketch shows. Irvine Welsh calls her ‘electrifying’.

When to Run first touched the surface as a poem. It then became a play in 2005 which features a handful of people, all played by Sophie. The structure is clever and the characters and accents are hilarious.

“In the beginning I approached the running theme as a kind of smirking outsider – but then I ended up getting addicted to running.”

“Feeling like a lemon”

“I just kind of stood on stage feeling like a lemon everyday – but despite having a bad time, the audiences enjoyed it…they didn’t know about the lemon stuff.”

When to Run then got financial backing a year later and Sophie took this, her first properly developed play, to the Edinburgh Festival.

She did 26 nights: “I just kind of stood on stage feeling like a lemon everyday – but despite having a bad time, the audiences enjoyed it…they didn’t know about the lemon stuff.”

Sophie felt a little unprepared: “I had never worked with a director before as I’d just done little stand alone monologues in the past and I hadn’t been to drama college.”

“I could do the voices okay but not the physicality of each character. I didn’t even have a costume. Just a frock and a chair on the stage.”

Can’t wing it

“If someone has paid to come and see me I’ve got to be better than good. There is too much dross out there already.”

But at these performances someone from the RSC spotted her, and managed to set her up with a female director from the National Theatre of Scotland. They then rehearsed, and rehearsed, and she sold out a stretch at the Soho Theatre last year.

From raver to rave reviews, she says, “I’ve realised I can’t do my best work alone. I can’t just walk onstage and wing it anymore, that’s not enough in my book. And it’s not enough for an audience.”

“If someone has paid to come and see me I’ve got to be better than good. There is too much dross out there already.”

Take control

“I have sci fi dreams about having a little robot who can do speech recognition and I can take it everywhere with me.”

Sophie’s performances are captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing. The words she has written are projected in huge writing onto a screen behind her just above an urban landscape. It’s very impressive and beautiful to have these magnified words beamed behind someone who sits on stage reciting them word perfect.

If GCSE students checked out Shakespeare in this way, it might all make sense. Sophie’s impetus for doing this is a hereditary hearing problem.

“I had been losing (my hearing) slowly for years. The end of 2001 was a bleak year as the effects of deafness on my life really started to hit home. But I picked myself up and learnt to lip-read and sign. So it’s a happy ending because I took control.”

“I have interpreters and stenographers to help me at rehearsals and meetings nowadays and that means I have to plan ahead and have a decent filing system for all the paperwork that comes with booking interpreters. I have sci fi dreams about having a little robot who can do speech recognition and I can take it everywhere with me.”

With the success of When to Run and all that training, Sophie and her robot are all set to become champions in the British high league of comics.

When to Run tour dates – 11 April Cardiff, 24/25/26 April Manchester; 26 June Hull; Fight Face at Lyric Hammersmith 19-21 June.

Amanda Boyle is a 34 year old director.

Kirsty Allison thinks she should be cloned.

Amanda has the credentials to inspire and lead a new generation as a filmmaker.  Although she has only made a handful of shorts, each tick the right boxes (funding affiliations, philosophies and in production value) to allow the British film establishment to roll out the red carpet for her.  Amanda’s most recent short opened at the London Film Festival, it was funded by the Film Council, BBC Films and FilmLondon, Pop Art stars Ben Milner from Son of Rambow and uses an inflatable puppet to deal with children and bullying in a very British setting, it was written by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son.  Imprints, her previous short film features a male doctor grooming a female patient with amnesia in a frightfully domineering fashion; the dreamlike Hotel Infinity follows the fantasy style of many Oriental films of recent years; and Heavy Metal Drummer from 2005 follows the tale of a young drummer in Morrocco, in a very filmic documentary fashion.

But despite BAFTA nominations, high-flying agents and critical plaudits Amanda Boyle tells 4Talent she’s finding the struggle to succeed exceptionally longwinded.  Is that because she’s a she?

“I hate to make generalizations about sexes, but film is a male dominated arena, and there are a lot of women in production, rather than directing.  Men can be very good at projecting confidence and when they’re younger and get carried into the system faster.  I had the sense that I had to learn all the roles, and I’m not sure that’s the right way, but a lot of men I know go ‘I am a director’ and it’s about getting out there, and financiers and producers want to know that who they’re backing is confident, I felt I had to do a few shorts, and now I feel I’m up to the challenge of doing features.”

The progression from shorts to features is an established one for directors, as is moving from production to direction.  Amanda broke into the British film industry as a post-production assistant at WT2 (part of Working Title Films).

“I left college and thought about film school but my dad died so I was quite pragmatic, I targeted film production companies I respected and wrote hundreds of letters.  I sent three to Scala (Stephen Woolley’s company), eventually I got accepted at WT2.  I worked there for seven years, it was fascinating as they work in the studio system.   It’s quite a unique opportunity do that, it’s taught me to develop things thoroughly before approaching companies”

“I read Philosophy at Cambridge…I don’t like talking about that, it feels like a long time ago, it always gives the impression that film is cliquely, I didn’t have any contacts (her mother is a sculptor).  But I did a lot of theatre at university, I had great lecturers, Peter Greenaway, Terry Gilliam, Danny Boyle, and it moved me from theatre into film, and the fringe work I’d done was collaborative, and so is film”

“My films are about the exploration of different ideas.  With the shorts each one had a problem I was trying to solve, looking back they are personal films using metaphors and my journey has been to try and do that more directly.  So now it’s more about being head on.   I don’t know if it’s a philosophy but I’m trying, for example in the documentary I’m working on, to make it very inclusive.  Each project has something I’m fascinated with, I feel I’m too early to know what defines me really, it’s just an inquisitive nature, I think.”

Powerful characters are a good place to start.  Amanda’s documentary is about autism, based on the writings of Kamran Nazeer.  She has also been developing a series of drama features with playwrights.

“Film is extraordinary for taking time, and if you don’t write there’s no money in development, that can wear you down and can effect you terribly.  There are other people who have come from other areas, like visual artists, who seem to manage the crossover better, if people come from different disciplines it almost seems easier”

Amanda was selected on the Clore scholarship programme this year that has provided her with enough income to survive.  She also scooped the rather tasty mentor of Stephen Frears (director of The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters and many more).

“I do feel there are lots of women coming up, I went for a drink with my agent (Sarah McWhinney at Curtis Brown), and she said most of her people are women.  I know one girl who gave birth on the cutting room floor!

“If you want to be more than a token, it’s about the quality of the work, I’d be lying if it hadn’t been tough.  If you’re trying to explain why you’re trying to do it and why the whole machinery takes so long, spending two years in development means working with actors is a luxury, I have devoted so much of my life to it I’m not giving up now!”


15 FEB 2009

Don’t Diss the Disco


Many moons ago, I used to DJ in a band called the Disco Queens, with right (diss)honorable Irvine Welsh, and Kris Needs.

We scraped each other from floors everywhere from Manumission to Leith.

I was recently asked by one of my lovely girlfriends to compile a list of records to dance to at her wedding…

28th Street Crew – I Need A Rhythm/Jomanda – Make My Body Rock

Madonna- Music & Ray of Light

Sybil/Isaac Hayes – Walk on By

Kevin Saunderson/Reese- Rock to the beat

Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax

Robert Palmer -Addicted to Love

RUN DMC/Aerosmith – Walk This Way

Bowie-Let’s Dance

Cherelle- I didn’t mean to turn to you on

kool & the gang-Celebration

Justin Timberlake-Sexyback

Lovestation/womack&womack remix- Teardrops

The Emotions – Best of My Love

Earth Wind & Fire – September

Tina Turner-What’s Love Gotta Do

Derrick May-Strings of Life

Bob Sinclair- Gym Tonic

Rolling Stones

Heaven 17-Temptation


House of Pain-Jump Around

Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody/Do you love what you feel/i feel for you

Sister Sledge – Lost In Music

T Rex – 21st Century Boy

Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit

Guns n Roses- Mr Brownstone

Derrick L Carter- Sueno Latino

Donna Summer- I feel love – the 15 min version

Cameo- Single Life (not everyone’s married)

U2-Discoteque, Vertigo

Blueboy- Remember Me

Transvision Vamp- I want your love

Snap- the power, Blackbox, Yazoo.  hee hee…

Kylie- Cannae get ye outta me hed

Shirley Bassey & the Propellerheads- History Repeating

Primal scream- country girl/rocks off

Grace Jones- Pull up to the bumper baby

Zootwoman-It’s Automatic


Chilli Peppers-Californication

Foo Fighters- I’ll just go home with the drummer

Billy Idol, White Wedding

Eartha Kitt


New Order-Blue Monday

Duran Duran-Rio/or the one about models

Monie Love- It’s a Shame

Raze-Break for Love

Jackie Wilson-Higher & Higher

Stax, Motown,

Nina Simone-My baby just cares for…

Publc Image Ltd- Flowers of Romance


Missy Elliot-Freeeek on