[Written by Lynsay Holmes]
[Image Credit: 1. Christopher Byrne, 2. William Woozie and 3. Dom Emek]
[Written by Lynsay Holmes]
[Image Credit: 1. Christopher Byrne, 2. William Woozie and 3. Dom Emek]
[Written by Sidra Rashid]
[Image Credit: Pixabay//Free-Photos/9108 Images]
[Written by Anna Rieser]
[Image Credit: the Citizens Theatre]
[Written by Anna Rieser]
[Image Credit: Tron Theatre//Ambergris]
[Written by Anna Shams Lli]
[Image Credit: MPM Film]
[Written by Anastasija Svarevska]
[Image Credit: Katherine MacBride]
[Written by Beth Leishman]
[Image Credit: Pixnio//pixel2013]
[Written by Vaiva Gikaitė]
[Image by Kate Zápražná]
This article was originally published in the Between issue
[Written by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
[Image by Julia Rosner & Aike Jansen]
[Written by Anastasija Svarevska]
[Image credit: Isabel Nolan, A lion with a thorn in his paw, 2015. Courtesy Kerlin Gallery.]
[Written by Amy Shimmins]
[Image by Aike Jansen]
[Written by Stephanie Reynolds and Anastasija Svarevska]
[Image Credit: Instagram//Jonathan Lo (@happymundane)]
Content Warning: This article includes discussion of body dismorphia and other mental health issues.
I scroll aimlessly through Instagram, looking for nothing in particular. I see people who are much better looking than me, cooking something much more delicious than my last meal while in a beautiful location that is—you guessed it—much more picturesque than where I am. I am both enthralled and loath to continue looking. I study her skin and her hair. They’re so much better than mine. She has a fitness routine that is so disciplined and difficult yet she does it with such ease and energy. I feel guilty, as I can’t be bothered to do anything. She has the best diet plan and the best ingredients. She knows exactly where to purchase hemp seeds and her cupboards are never short of the essential vegan morsels. She has an expensive blender that she uses every day to show us how to make the most delicious vegan smoothies. She has a gorgeous boyfriend who poses with her in pictures. He is loyal and caring and they are the best couple in the world and they never disagree or have any arguments.
[Written by Ellen Magee]
[Image by Adriana Iuliano]
Watching a film is often an experience akin to invading the fantastical imagination of a stranger—that is, by the creative environment we enter, or the feelings invoked in us, or the fanciful characters whose lives we feel a part of. It is often thought that watching films is a method of escapism and a distraction from real life; a time to switch off and to fully immerse oneself in this fanciful world, far from any daily woes of our often bleak in comparison lives. This fantasy of cinematic experience is apparent particularly in films that depict imaginary utopian worlds, such as science fiction films, and superhero movies, to name a few. Indeed, the highest grossing films from 2018 are abundant in their fantasy worlds, not least The Incredibles 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Black Panther, and Ant Man and The Wasp. However, there are other films that—whilst still encompassing this cinematic experience—enforce important information on their audiences, such as Netflix’s 2018 hit Roma, which teaches its audience about the workings of a housekeeper in Mexico City, and BlacKkKlansman (2018), Spike Lee’s retelling of a true story about an African American cop infiltrating the KKK in 1970s America.
[Written by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
[Image Credit: Cuba photos 2018 by Effie Crompton; header and footer by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
On a sunny Glaswegian morning before the dreaded exam season had begun, I met up with Effie Crompton, a third-year communication design student at GSA and fellow North Londoner. Although it was our first time meeting, I had been following her dreamy Instagram (@effiecrompton) for some time. Over coffee at Papercup we discussed the intentions behind her art, the importance of community, and her recent trip to Cuba.
[Written by Emma Harrison]
[Images by Tosca de Wilt]
We have never had such a broad range – or, arguably, high level of quality – of televisual content as we do right now. The monumental success of streaming services like Netflix has led to the production of an unprecedented number of programmes – we almost have too much choice in what we watch, from hundreds of sitcoms to colossal undertakings like Game of Thrones. But are we truly living in a ‘golden age’ of television? It seems a questionable claim considering that so many of its great successes are inspired by (or a direct reboot of) older material.
[Written by Elsa Lindström]
[Image by Elena Roselli]
Until last year, I was never that excited about Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, of course it was nice to have a reason to not go to school and get presents, but if someone asked me what my favourite holiday was, I would always answer Halloween. Christmas just simply was not that special, and I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about.
[Written by Livia Dyring]
[Image by Dalia Sara and Aike Jansen]
At times, I can feel like I’m playing twister constantly. Except the mat is a large world map – and it’s all too real.
[Written by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
[Images by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
I sat down with Lauren Davis, director of the newly opened Glasgow Zine Library and long-established Glasgow Zine Fest on a particularly dreich Glaswegian day. The space is a haven, tucked into an unassuming street near The Laurieston Pub. Zines of all descriptions that are inspired by an endless range of diverse life experiences clad the walls. A multiplicity of thoughts and voices are housed here, completely open to whomever steps in; that is the essential beauty of this community space. Lauren’s passion was truly infectious, and this interview was a testament to the importance of both the library and the festival within—and beyond—Glasgow’s art scene.
[Written by Maja Soomägi]
[Image by Elena Roselli and Aike Jansen]
Since the beginning of my life, I have been in a state of existing in between countries. On one side, a language without a direct translation of “please”. On the other side, a language with an abundance of vowels. When my grandmother calls me, we say hi in the same language. Opening phrases, how are you, I’m good how are you, same. But then it changes, and our mouths form different words, provides different sounds. She speaks to me in one language, I respond in another. Growing up, I never saw that as a weird thing. It was just everyday life, that my dad spoke to me in one language while I responded in another and laughed at my friends when they accidentally called my dad “dad” in a language they knew nothing about.
[Written by Charles Pring]
[Image by Elena Roselli]
I have generally always been in good supply when it comes to festive spirit, especially once the days of mid-December starting drifting past. Sure, the predatory commercialism can be disillusioning, and my acrid rage smoulders at the sight of Christmas goods before Halloween, but it is hard to resist the charms of seemingly endless food and drink, the gathering of family, and the glorious receiving of free stuff.
[Written By Anastasija Svarevska]
[Image by Dalia Sara and Aike Jansen]
How often do we get stuck? Stuck in a queue for food, in an elevator, in an awkward conversation or a complicated situation and so on. For quite a while, I was stuck when asked “Where are you from?”
[Written by Maria Jeleńska]
[Image by Elena Roselli and Aike Jansen]
Moving out from home can be a very difficult experience. I left Poland three weeks ago, and it is my first time at a new university, city, and country. This situation is about standing on your own feet.
[Written by Elena Roselli]
[Image by Grace Elder]
Since a very young age, I have always been described as a “bookworm”.
Growing up, I quickly grew bored of usual stories you could find in kid’s books, to the point that my father had to make-up a new story every night to get me to go to sleep. The problem was pretty much solved when I started to read alone. I was finally able to form my personal image of the stories written in the books I loved, to choose the characters I wanted to dream of, the type of story I was intrigued by.
[Written by Elena Roselli]
[Image by Dalia Sara and Aike Jansen]
When you set out for Ithaka
Ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
Ask that your way be long,
At many a summer dawn to enter
-with gratitude, what joy-
ports seen for the first time;
[Written by Dalia Gale]
[Image by Anna Shams Ili]
Content warning: this article includes discussion of mental illness and the representation of such.
Mental illness is a thing. Some people would still like to keep it a taboo subject, while others deny its existence, but mental illness is not going anywhere, and those who suffer from it will not be silenced. Creators in particular do not like being silenced in any matter, and for that reason they often reach for art and its various form of expression to discuss mental illness and share their experiences with it.
[Written by Sophia Archontis]
[Image by Elena Roselli and Aike Jansen]
Being bicultural is a double-edged sword.
It feels ungrateful to say this, as biculturalism and bilingualism are definitely gifts: I can speak many languages and I find myself able to assimilate into multiple different cultures, feeling comfortable as I do. However, in spite of the cultural diversity I have gained, I find that I have lost my cultural identity – something that in others is innate never seems to have existed in me.
[Written by Viva Gikaite]
[Image by Dalia Sara and Aike Jansen]
I don’t think there’s anything particularly interesting about my upbringing, despite its relative diversity. I was born in Lithuania, moved to the American Deep South as a baby and lived there until the age of 11 when my parents divorce and my mum’s desire to escape the States brought us to Scotland. (Scratch that, the fact that my mum was brave enough to start her life over in a new country with an adolescent daughter is pretty interesting. Snaps to mama. But not to me.)
[Written by Annegret Maja Fiedler]
[Image Credit: WikimediaCommons//Alexander Kellner]
IDLES at Queen Margaret Union (QMU), Glasgow was an empowering, optimistic and loud audio-visual experience, which included a full body workout. Their tour features their newest album Joy as an Act of Resistance, which does not shy away from directly addressing Brexit, toxic masculinity, bereavement, xenophobia and mental health. It has been receiving rave reviews since its release in August, and has managed to inject heavy punk rock into European and US charts. Their sold out performance on the 20th October, 2018, of course, did not disappoint.
[Written by Pauliina Ketonen]
[Image Credit: Flickr/kentarotakizawa]
It all started in 2006. The album? Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits.
Crazy Frog is a CGI-animated blue frog, that spawned from the insanity that was early 2000s marketing. Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits is one of several cover albums starring the frog and includes hits such as Cotton Eyed Joe and Everytime We Touch but most importantly for little 9-year-old me, We Are the Champions. Feeling like a champion, I told my mom how much I loved the song. She patiently listened to my rambling, and then made me listen to the original. And that’s how I discovered Bohemian Rhapsody.
[Written by Nina Panter]
[Image by Tosca De Wilt]
Picture this scene; you are in your friend’s car on the way to god knows where, or enjoying some simple pre’s in a flat and music is playing; it’s an old pop song that was on the radio a couple years ago, it’s silly but catchy, and life feels good. As the song ends, your friend turns to you and says; “Next I was thinking we could put on a song you like! What’s your favourite band?”
[Written by Rowen Leverentz]
[Illustration by Norliza Matheson @norxillustrations]
The first time I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show I was probably about 14 or 15. My parents didn’t want me to watch it at the time, so I went around to my friends and we watched it secretly together. The show is based around a heteronormative engaged couple named Janet and Brad, who end up in a spaceship inside of a castle. The ship is full of aliens obsessed with fashion and sex that sing the whole way through. It’s probably the most ridiculous thing you will ever watch, but the show made me feel comfortable within myself due to its openness surrounding sexuality.
[Written by Tara Smith]
[Image Credit: Popbuzz.com//DisneyStudios]
So I’m 12 years old, chilling on the sofa, remote in one hand, while I wait on my best friend to put the DVD on. We’ve planned our whole sleepover out: fluffy PJs on, a bowl each of sweets, and hot chocolates. I am so ready to watch and fall asleep to a movie I have seen a hundred times before; recite all the best lines, play on my phone at the sad parts, then fall asleep at the end credits. But this isn’t the movie I expected.
[Written by Katherine Jossi]
[Image by Katherine Jossi]
Oct 12th Barrowlands
Tom Odell’s performance at the Barrowlands kicks off the tour for his upcoming album. After a two-year hiatus, Jubilee Road is set to release later this month. When I think of British singer-songwriter Tom Odell, I remember his first album from 2013 – Long Way Down. I was 15 when it came out and I remember listening to his song Another Love after boy drama. So naturally I was expecting a fairly mellow concert, but it was anything but that.
[Written by Manon Klatt, Culture Editor @manonqueenbi]
[Image by Kate Zápražná]
Pumpkin spice, rose gold, Taylor Swift, Instagram, yoga pants. Either you just read that to the tune of Fairy Odd Parents, or the image of a basic, white girl just formed in your head. A picture resembling me, a self proclaimed basic girl. People apply the term to girls in a derogatory way, who they deem as plain, without personality, maybe even a bit unintellectual. This might make you wonder, why did I chose to apply to term ‘basic’ to myself. The answer is simple, I am reclaiming the term ‘basic’, arguing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being basic.
[Written by Amanda Landegren, Publicity Coordinator for GIST]
[Image Credit: GIST//Facebook.com]
With the current existence of over five other performing arts societies, was there really space—and need—for yet another theatre society at the university? When looking to the anglo-centrism of the content performed, the answer was a firm but enthusiastic yes! GIST, Glasgow International Student Theatre, was created last year with the intention of bringing attention to theatre from around the world. With a goal to perform, promote and celebrate theatre in translation and theatre from lesser known authors, the founders imagined a society where all are welcome, no matter accent, experience or prior knowledge. Looking then at the society’s first year in existence, the members are a small but devoted bunch who all contribute to diversifying the performing arts scene. The great advantage of multiple nationalities is not only cultural insight into the plays, but also the ability to share that insight with others.
[Written by Aimée Stanton, Elsa Lindstöm and Maria Jeleńska]
[Image Credit: Pixabay//philprice13]
It’s spooky season. People are picking out their costumes, planning parties, and purchasing massive amounts of sweets. Halloween is a beloved holiday for most people in the UK and the US, however, the rest of the world might have some different takes on how to celebrate skeletons, vampires, and a sugar-induced coma.
[Written by Mark Wilson]
[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons//Universal Studios 1931]
You know the drill. Lights off, curtains shut, volume up, and feet in a safer place than the ominous darkness lurking beside your sofa. No other genre has become synonymous with such accepted rituals as that of horror. This encroaching of the horror film within people’s living rooms, cinemas, and social lives has particularly escalated in the past few years due to a severance from the infamous ‘torture porn’ and ‘jump-scare’ flicks of the mid-2000s, towards more socially minded modern horrors. The social phenomenon that became of Hereditary (2018), the Oscar success of Get Out (2017), and the box-office leviathan It (2017), all demonstrate the resurgence of an innate desire to be genuinely frightened. But why is ‘scary’ so sought-after, and what is the cause of this cultural shift towards the horrific; and how, ultimately, can fear bring us a new level of empathy and understanding, together as a society?
[Written by Emil Marty]
[Image Credit: ‘A witch at her cauldron surrounded by beasts.’ Etching by J. van de Velde II, 1626//Wellcome Collection]
With Halloween hot on our tail, the usual spooky signs are showing. It’s that time of year where supermarkets go supernatural, and every dark corner is littered with cobwebs. Plastic skeletons lurk behind the fruit and veg aisle, and we run home to go over the entire back-catalogue of American horror movies. But come November 1st, the cobwebs have been wiped away to make room for the Christmas tree, the skeletons have been replaced with Santa Claus, and Nightmare on Elm Street swapped out for Miracle on 34th Street. For many, Halloween is a quick holiday that breaks up summer and Christmas with a freak excuse to get drunk and dress up. But for some, Halloween has roots that rest deeper than that, and continue beyond October 31st. In witchcraft, Halloween or Samhain marks the last harvest festival of the year. To find out more, I caught up with a friend of mine to talk about their practice. Brynn Alred, 20, tells me all I need to know about tea, tarot and how to hex a Tory.
[Written by Anastasija Svarevska]
[Image by Tosca de Wilt]
When you think about coffee, what exactly comes to your mind? Is it the smell of freshly grinded beans, a survival tool, a bitter liquid, a drug, a daily ritual of going for a cup with a friend, a Starbucks logo, or an “indulgence in a cup”, as the saying goes? No matter how many different connotations and meanings it might bear, it is safe to say that there are three camps in which we, as coffee-drinkers, are divided into: those who know its history and who enjoy it as such, sipping on pure espresso from freshly roasted Kenyan beans; those who don’t really care about where it comes from because, well, coffee is coffee isn’t it; and those who exclusively enjoy the idea of having a coffee, be it from Starbucks or a hipster coffee shop around the corner, with everything that it implies: cute Instagram pictures, fancy cups, or trendy tastes which, with the change of seasons, are on the front burner. One of them is, as we all know, pumpkin spice (which, as I recently discovered, not only extends beyond coffee to cocktails such as White Russians, biscuits, buffalo wings – which makes me wonder why we still don’t have pumpkin spice infused perfume – but that’s not what this article is about).
[Written by Abby Wilson]
[Image by Abby Wilson]
Autumn: the glorious transition from the warmth of summer to the bitterness of winter. It is a season full of colour: deep reds, burnt oranges, mustard yellows. Sadly, alongside the changing colours comes the changing tones. Despite the occasional seasonal walk through the park or nearby forest, where we can witness, first hand, the magic of autumn, it is colder, breezier, rainier, and often, we would rather spend these darkening days indoors. Personally, with studying and other commitments, I struggle to spend as much time outdoors as I would like. However, I have found a simple solution: bringing my favourite elements of the outside in. This includes colours, scents and even tastes. I’ve listed some of my autumnal favourites below:
[Written by Gabriel Rutherford @niemalsallein_]
[Illustration by Grace Elder]
“Cancelled”. “Over”. “Called out”. A new lexicon of language is being formed online, particularly on Twitter, where more and more fans are policing their own “faves”. The language a celebrity uses, who they are photographed with, what they wear and even what they eat is being critiqued in what seems to be a crusade to find the one true virtuous celebrity (spoiler: it’s Jeff Goldblum). A “callout culture” has been formed, where it’s the done thing to instantly point out the transgressions of a famous person – fair enough. After all, this is done with good intentions and a noble goal, namely to try to influence social behaviour by calling out public figures who perpetuate damaging ideals or actions.
[Written by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
‘Glasgow In Conversation’ is an online series seeking to profile socially, politically and/or culturally engaged figures and spaces within the Glasgow context. The premise is simple – 10 questions, which remain more or less the same, put forth to interesting people doing interesting things within our city.
[Written by Annie Wakefield]
[Image by Kate Zápražná]
When an artist makes controversial statements or life choices that you neither support or condone, is it possible to find a separation between an artist and their art, or are they of one thing?
For many people, there is a dilemma in still appreciating an artist’s work, be it watching a film starring said actor, or listening to an artist’s music, after they’ve come under fire – whether it be for making provocative political statements or for unacceptable behaviour in their personal life.
[Written by Stefanie Reynolds]
[Image by Aike Jansen – Online Photo Editor]
I love film. I love experiencing film at the cinema, at a friend’s house on a wide screen TV or just on my own, in my bedroom, through my laptop. I enjoy most genres; comedy or romantic being my favourite. I go weak in the knees for a beautifully, romantic love story! However, despite this, there is one (huge!) sacrifice I have to make whenever I give myself over to film for an hour or two – I probably won’t see myself. Under representation is a problem in film, but worse still is the token black character. My non-black friends have often been quick to remind me of many films with black actors, and have even eagerly pursued to put them on in my presence.
[Written by Niki Radman]
[Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson/flickr.com]
Whenever I sport my What-Would-Lin-Manuel-Miranda-Do-T-Shirt in public, people tend to give me puzzled looks and, occasionally, a hesitant “So, who is… errr –?”. It appears that there are still people in Scotland who don’t know the name Lin-Manuel Miranda. Curious. To be honest, answering their question is difficult for me. When you admire someone to the extent that I do Mr Miranda, drawing a sensitive sketch – both of perceived personality and various achievements – becomes extremely challenging. Chances of going on a disconnected ramble are high but then again how to pick from the plethora of information obtained on afternoons of compulsive googling? Nonetheless, here is my attempt at an overview.
[ By: Emma Lees ]
Hannah Hill is a 22-year-old woman from London. What first drew and continues to draw me to Hannah’s’ social media presence is her power to use raw relation in a way most people can’t stomach: forthcoming with not only her position on social standards, mental health, immigration, drug use, politics, equality and body image (to name a few), but she also shares her perceived weaknesses and strengths. She lays herself bare and brave. This in turn cultivates a network of girls who genuinely care about her; girls who read her vulnerable musings like a diary, who notice when she seems happier or sadder, and like a private-public chat room communicate that concern or well-wishes for all to see. Scrolling through her Instagram is the mental equivalent of a girls’ sleepover, the admiration for yourself you wanted to have but didn’t know where or how to start, an uninhibited conversation in the girls’ bathroom with someone you immediately know has shared a slice of your life and love, victories and losses. To summarise – Hannah is singlehandedly the girl gang we all need. She is the human manifestation of those girls who dominate the likes of Laura Callaghan’s illustrations – sassy, sincere and unapologetically sexual. She puts the time in to be the person reinforcing feelings worth talking about and for someone with 43.3k followers on Instagram, that’s a socially significant mindset to have and a courageous life to live.
[Written By: Katie Fannin]
‘Dream Wife’ is the eagerly awaited self-titled first album from the Icelandic-Brightonian pop punk three-piece. Formed during art school in Brighton, the band have already made a name for themselves supporting a cavalcade of big names on tour and securing a slot at the infamous SXSW last year.
[Written By: Gabriel Rutherford]
[Photographer: Elena Roselli]
The importance of arts funding cannot be overstated. For culture, funding is crucial for survival especially in an age where inflation means that artists have to charge more for their art, thereby limiting audience sizes – already a problem in the echelons of “higher” art. After all, when was the last time you went to the opera?
[By: Aike Jansen with thanks to Jo Reid]
If you were a queer student at Glasgow Uni before the 1970s, the only way to meet up with fellow LGBTQ students was having lunch together on a specific day in the Fraser Building. Then in the 70s, while homosexuality was still criminalised in Scotland, a lecturer set up the Glasgow University Gay Society, Gay Soc for short. One week, the society would meet in a QMU committee room to listen to a talk or chat, the next week they would socialize in a bar, ensuring that both closeted and out LGBTQ students could join. Now, GULGBTQ+ is among one of the biggest societies on campus, still ensuring there’s a great variety of things happening – from weekly coffee-meetups where one can hang out with others of a specific orientation or gender-identity, big Wednesday-night events, knitting groups, campaigns and ceilidhs. ‘The LGBTQ+ community is so big, you’ve got to make sure you’re trying to cater to as many people as possible’ says Jo Reid, current president of GULGBTQ+. ‘It can be challenging, taking care of all these different needs. You’ve got to balance being informative, and offering welfare, and campaigning while being a social society. At the end of the day, this is a volunteer society, people come here because they want to have fun! But if there’s something missing, we very much welcome our members to tell us what they’d like to see and we can try to make it happen.’
[Written By: Niki Radman]
[Illustration: Perry Stewart]
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every self-respecting film nerd on the face of this earth must have seen Blade Runner at some point or another. Although less than successful during its initial release, the film has developed a cult following that few others can claim. It has been praised for stunning visuals, thought-provoking themes and an eerily beautiful score by Vangelis. I will not try to counter any of these claims and I don’t aim to push the masterpiece off its pedestal. I won’t try to argue that ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is poor either. When I saw both movies at a double-feature over the holidays, the experience was very enjoyable. Upon further reflection, I realised something wasn’t quite right. My stomach started churning and eventually I identified the feeling which was tormenting me as anger. Something about these movies had made me profoundly angry. Initially I was too emotional to form my thoughts into a coherent argument however, distance and time have made it easier to untangle the threads and lay out before you now exactly what I believe went wrong.
[Written By: Anna Shams Ili]
[Photographer: Rowan Allen]
“I’m going to count down – eins, zwei, drei, and then we scream.” Andreya Casablanca shouts out to the audience, leaning slightly back as to not scream directly into the microphone. Her scream is joined by the audiences’ and the one of fellow frontwoman Laura Lee. They jump and dance on stage while playing their punk-inspired tunes, trying to make this average Wednesday stand out. That’s the main difference between playing at a festival and outside one, they tell me later. You can feel that people aren’t really always letting loose the same way having been weighed down by the workday. This is all happening at Broadcast, where they are guesting as part of their Europe tour. While the band hails from Berlin they are no strangers to the UK, not even Glasgow. Last time they played support, at Broadcast as well, for Stag & Dagger – this time they’re headlining. When asked about their favourite spot so far, Andreya naturally answers Glasgow. And yet, “London is like Berlin times three. And we’ve played there a lot, especially some of our first shows, so we feel like we have a fanbase.”
[Written By: Emma Lees]
DIY slacker rock hero Mac Demarco played his hotly anticipated date on the last Friday of November at The Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow as part of his This Old Dog tour. Set to be eclectic mix of psychedelic garage music sloped with jazzy overtones and heinous onstage antics – it did not disappoint. Well known for the stream of trippy slow paced romantic records he releases which lie in stark contrast to the boyish and downright vulgar behaviour in his videos and in front of the crowd. With a goofy Lloyd Christmas Canadian charm, endearingly softly spoken voice and low maintenance modus operandi, he’s become a hero for anyone who’s ever felt weird and liked it.
[Written by: Lucia Marquez-Leaman]
I am a second generation Spice Girls fan, a sacred obsession carefully passed on by familial elders. Having come 20 years late to the party I have been deprived the luxuries of the super- fans back in their heyday alas, I will never be able to throw my balled up pants at Geri or whatever crazed fans used to do before twitter. So when The Grosvenor cinema advertised a special 20th anniversary screening of ‘Spice World’ I ditched my very real plans that were definitely happening at the altar of the Spice Girls and their great work.
Written By: Hannah Lane
Photo: Hannah Lane
The Lighthouse, 21 Oct – 25 Nov, Free to attend.
By: Isabella Noero
Photo by: Sebastian Summers
The sabor of Cuban culture is much closer than you think. In its 3rd year, the Havana/Glasgow Film Festival brings the authentic essence of this Caribbean island to Glasgow – its official twin city since 2002.
Written By: Arianne Crainie
Tramway, 20/10-29/10/17, Open daily, 12-5pm. Free.
What will it take for people to recognise that refugees are equal and human? That they too are living, breathing individuals with homes, jobs and families? Correspondingly, how does the mainstream media feed into these ideas and who voices these narratives?
By Jen Hughes
If there was anything that could perfectly encapsulate ‘punk’, it was Poetry @ Inn Deep. It was on Tuesday 24th October it celebrated its 5th birthday, and it was a night of intelligent prose and rowdy audience participation. As it was a special occasion, they had a projector up with a social media feed where the audience could post pictures of themselves on Twitter and Instagram at the event under hashtag #spec_books. It filled up pretty quickly, not just of pictures from the event but also with memes and pictures of cute animals.
Written By: Arianne Crainie
Illustration: Michael Paget
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Thirty-five years ago Ridley Scott’s cult classic Blade Runner illuminated the big screen with questions on modernity, humanity and identity. Now its offspring, Blade Runner 2049 dir. Dennis Villeneuve, is updating these ideas to run with our contemporary society. Or at least it tries to.
By Aike Jansen
CCA, 13 October ‘17
Thinking about representation of mental health in mainstream media brings to mind either exaggerated, judgemental, or overly comical portrayals that often don’t have a positive effect on the way people experiencing mental health in their day to day life are regarded by others. It is thus excellent to see two young filmmakers tackling this subject in a sensitive yet highly artistic way .‘Northern Lights’ and ‘OverLove’ are presented together as ‘Youth Perspective’ at this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Both films are not perfect, as no film about a subject that is experienced in so many different ways will be, but they are emotional, tense, and contributing to a more honest portrayal of what mental health is like.
By Amy Shimmin – @amylfc
GFT, 17/10-19/10 ‘17
First of all, it is not enough to consider Loving Vincent solely as a film. We are reminded before the picture starts that ‘the film [we] are about to see has been entirely hand painted’; this is the fruit of over one hundred artists. Each frame of the movie has been painted in Van Gogh’s signature style: swooping brushstrokes of oil paint. This, in itself, is an unprecedented achievement, and worthy of merit. There is a silent awareness amongst the audience that we are watching something that goes beyond mere camera and film.
Reviewed by Hamish Stewart
Tron Theatre, 13/10/17
Religion and power, amoralism and sex, scandal and murder- all awash at Richard Crane and Faynia Williams’s ‘The Brother’s Karamazov’ reboot at the Tron Theatre this Autumn. And what else could be playing with that thematic lineup? This impressive feat of distillation, where the essence of Dostoevsky’s tone remains perfectly intact in the two-hour show, leaves the audience wondering what exactly the world’s been doing for the last 150 years, given the narrative could have been written yesterday.
Reviewed by: Clare Patterson
30/9/17, CCA Glasgow
Created by artist and writer Claire Biddles and writer and ‘Doll Hospital’ zine editor Bethany Lamont, ‘Sad Girl Cinema’ is a documentary that combines representations of mental illness on screen with analysis from contemporary female writers. The film is still in production – the event, examining numerous representations of mental illness on screen, is bookended by two short clips from the film itself – and even for just the first glimpse of this ongoing project, the CCA Theatre is packed, showing the ravenous appetite for this kind of representation, for perspectives on women with mental illness outside of harridan mothers and ‘tragically beautiful’ teenage girls.
Written by: Amy Shimmin – @amylfc
Back for its third year, Scottish Queer International Film Festival is renowned for its diverse programming. From following pregnancy while trans to a queer anarchist punk musical, to workshops on LGBT working class cinema wrapped up with late-night parties, the Festival promises a scream of a line-up every autumn. SQIFF Shorts: Defiant Dykes presents a collection of six short films, focusing mainly on lesbian identity, in the UK and overseas.
Reviewed by Aike Jansen
From 27th of September until October 1st, Glaswegians can again delight in the best of queer film during SQIFF. For the third year in a row, Scottish Queer International Film Festival is promoting LGBTIQ+ cinema – getting people to watch and talk about films they would otherwise not have the chance to see, whilst creating informative events alongside it. Perhaps symbolic for the neglect of bisexual experiences within LGBTQ+ politics, activism and communities, representation of bisexuality in film was completely lacking in the first two years of SQIFF. To make up for this “fuck-up”, there is now a bi-specific programme, kicking off with a ride through cinematic representations of bisexuality presented by Jacob Engelberg, the programmer of Brighton-based queer film strand Eyes Wide Open Cinema.
By: Sam Bingham
Hello and welcome! I am Sam from the Glasgow University Magazine; could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey Sam, it’s great to get a bit of chat on the go. In Victoria McNulty, a poet and spoken word performer from Glasgow.
SSE Hydro, 27th September
Nick Cave’s legendary status precedes him. With 16 studio albums under his belt, and a global reputation for his dark, unsettling and existential songwriting, expectations are high for the 60-year-old Aussie and his band of eccentrics, The Bad Seeds, to deliver an affecting and memorable performance. And deliver they certainly do.
Gregory Alan Isakov writes stories, seamlessly interwoven into raw melodies, creating hypnotising and beautifully poetic songs. Hailing from Philadelphia, Isakov’s music is quickly gaining popularity over here, with the success of singles such as ‘Black Car’ and ‘The Stable Song’. However to appreciate the full scope of his repertoire, and talent, you must experience the energy of his live performances. Accompanied by an outstanding group of musicians- a violin, banjo, double bass, drums and an equally talented support act- an uplifting and intimate gig awaited me at King Tut’s.
Despite the extent to which it has become intertwined with our twenty-first century lives, the Internet is often regarded with caution. The recent election of Donald Trump and the notable rise of the alt right across Europe has only brought criticism against online culture into sharper relief. It is undeniable that the Internet can be a breeding ground for hate. Online chat forums lead angry young men to believe that white masculinity is under threat from those who don’t agree with them – feminists, the LGBTQ+ community, etc. – and a space such as the Internet naturally provides an echo chamber in which hateful subcultures fester and churn out trolls. On an individual level people worry that excessive use of social media can have an adverse effect on mental health, that genuine empathy is being replaced by the angry-face react button. Millenials, the world’s first ever Internet generation, are seen as ‘self-obsessed’ and unable to have decent conversations IRL.
When was the first time you really put yourselves in someone else’s shoes? I mean, really thought about and felt what someone else was feeling? Empathy and sympathy are key skills we tend to learn growing up, and one of the first times we are asked to actually consider a different person’s viewpoint or situation is through the media we consume. Culture does a great job providing a ‘window on the world’; giving us access to places and the lives of people we may have never had the chance to witness before – from nature documentaries showcasing penguins in Antarctica to novels detailing the life of an astronaut. Culture can also show us ideas and life experiences far beyond our comfort zone, forcing us to confront our own preconceptions and build empathy for someone we may never have met, or someone who might not even exist.
Our editors reveal the albums they have connected with personally. Look out for more album reviews in our upcoming issue!
Mylo Xyloto (2011)
I was tempted to listen to Mylo Xyloto after seeing the beautiful album cover; colourful watercolour designs with graffiti inserts looked rather unique and promising. When I researched the album before listening to it, I knew it was going to be different from what I had heard before, but what I didn’t know was how it would make me feel. This might sound ridiculous but Mylo Xyloto is like a friend to me when I need company in an unpleasant state. The vast majority of songs are relatable, therefore, listening to them makes you feel as though you’re not alone. If someone manages to write songs about the feeling I am experiencing that means that they had to feel the same at some point and they managed to make it into a work of art. Also, the album has a positive vibe while speaking about heart-breaking experiences. For all these reasons, this album helped make me feel understood.
This year for the Glasgow Film Festival 2017 I was both coordinating the press coverage for GUM and volunteering on the festival myself. However, with so many interesting films on, there were no signs of fatigue. Here’s a quick round up of films I’ve managed to see (no fully formed reviews here, just scattered thoughts).
In the last decade, there has been an exponential growth in the amount of participatory theatre being produced. What started as a new theatrical experience has now often become a tokenistic trait. Nowadays, participatory performances rarely provide the audience with actual agency and autonomy, but rather an illusion of such. We are Slumber Club, a group of third year Theatre Studies students at the University of Glasgow. From Friday the 17th until Wednesday the 22nd of March we are putting on a project titled Trilogy. We want to return ownership of a theatre performance to you. We intend to move audience interaction from the performance to the process, so the spectator’s active involvement is to contribute items and ideas during the show’s development. When we then perform the final show, created by the spectators, we hope to question these ideas of participation and democracy.
This documentary about a group of maverick Dutch journalists investigating the possibility of ethically produced chocolate manages to be educational, depressing, and very funny all at the same time. The beginning half depicts the efforts of the core member of the group, Teun van de Keuken, to get himself imprisoned for the crime of consciously eating chocolate while knowing that its production has involved child slavery. Towards the end, the film shifts its focus to Teun’s (‘Tony’s’, as his name is commonly wrangled by anglophones) quest to create their own, 100% slave-free brand of chocolate, called Tony Chocolonely. As it turns out, there are massive obstacles on the way to achieving that goal.
Artwork featuring kissing couples is almost endless – whether in fan art or Renaissance frescos, manifesta-tions of love are present. Art history is filled with this subject matter and often the background stories of the paintings can be even more enticing than the scenes they display.
William Dyce, Francesca da Rimini, 1837
The painting depicts lovers Francesca and Paolo from Dante’s epic poem, The Inferno, sharing an innocently tender moment in the moonlight. In the poem, Francesca is to be married off to the old and deformed Gianciotto, but she falls in love with his younger brother, Paolo. The picture includes some ominous elements to suggest the tragic fate of the lovers – for example, Gianciotto’s disembodied hand is still included in the edge of the canvas, although the figure himself has been trimmed off due to damage to the canvas. The kiss, in all its gentleness, cannot fend off the sinister atmosphere of the painting, which reflects the doomed love of the unfortunate couple.
Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, 1859
The medieval setting and the passionate embrace of the figures in Francesco Hayez’s painting evoke the feeling of that epic, grand love familiar to us from fairytales. There are certain things in the painting that sug-gest the scene to be a farewell – like the man wearing his hat; a foot already on the stair; and his lover gripping onto his shoulder, unwilling to let go. These elements add to the picture a slightly wistful atmosphere – yet at the same time they also enhance the depiction of a great, tragic love.
Jean-Leon Gerome, Pygmalion and Galatea, 1890
This painting draws its inspiration from the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. According to the story, Pygmalion, the king of Cyprus, sculpted in his studio the perfect female figure and fell in love with her. His lovesickness for the sculpted woman was pitied by Aphrodite, who turned the ideal figure, Galatea, into a living being and presided over their marriage. The kiss is a representation of the desire to attain what seems to be bitter-sweetly beyond reach, and it can also be seen to convey the message of the irrationality and uncontrollable nature of love.
Marc Chagall, The Birthday, 1915
In this painting, the artist pictures himself giving a kiss to his wife on her birthday. The figures are free from the constraints of gravity, and the way Chagall turns to his wife to kiss her, his body twisted to the other direction and floating mid-air, conveys a feeling of surprise and spontaneity. The modernist streak in the style serves to emphasize the sentiment further and the experimental visual language translates to the playfulness of the portrayed scene.
Rene Magritte, The Lovers, 1928
One of Rene Magritte’s most iconic works, this picture portrays two lovers kissing, with their faces covered. The shrouded faces have been interpreted in a multitude of ways in art history — the cloth can be seen as a barrier forever separating the lovers and rendering their intimacy to isolation, or it can be read as a symbolic description of the distance that always exists between people. The shrouding of the figures’ faces certainly has an effect on the mood of the image. It is a mysterious, slightly sad and even a little terrifying depiction of what is usually thought to be the ultimate act of romance.
By Emmi Joensuu
What does it take to be chosen by the Scottish Women Football Association to be their main anthem’s songwriter?
How does it feel to compose, write and sing a song that represents women’s empowerment and struggle?
Most importantly, what is it like to be a woman nowadays, who plays football and the guitar just as well?
Sharon Martin talks power, talent and gender equality honestly, truly and openly – like only she can.
How did you get into music initially?
I always loved music but got into performing at the age of 16. I used to hang around with a bunch of grunge kids who would go to Riverside studios in Busby every Saturday to rehearse with their band. We’d all squeeze in the room and watch them perform. Got me thinking it was something that I wanted to do – so I did! I started my own Grunge band called ‘Corset’ – I was the singer and we’d do very bad covers of Nirvana, Hole and Placebo. Was a hoot! We fibbed about our age to get gigs in pubs in Glasgow. Very naughty…
Indeed, but it worked! You’ve been chosen to write the SFA’s anthem. Where is the intercept between music and football? And what does it mean for fans and players according to you?
Music plays a role in everything – it adds the emotive element. It’s a rush for fans to chant songs in the stands, encouraging and supporting their players. For players, it’s a rush to hear your fans supporting you through song.
I have played football most of my life- I am a former Glasgow City player. It has given me so much in terms of health, focus, friendship and confidence. I’ve met some of the most amazing, funny and inspiring people through football- so writing the Scottish Women’s Anthem for them seemed like the least I could do to give back.
What meaning does the song hold for you?
For me, the meaning is in the message. I believe that every human being is gifted – but so often these gifts aren’t used because a person’s potential isn’t encouraged and cultivated by their environment. I wanted to remind the girls and women of Scotland that greatness is in every one of them and self-belief is the key to releasing this. This isn’t an elitist song that is only for those with ambition to be world leaders, it applies to everyone – the woman in the Women’s Aid shelter with her kids, the kid getting bullied at school. It’s a reminder to hold tight because things will get better. It’s also of course a celebration of Scottish Women and a big shout out for gender equality – something that is very applicable to sport in this country.
You told me there would be a video too. Can you give us a bit of info about it?
The song is being used as part of an SFA campaign to encourage participation in Girls Football in this country. A video has been shot with the National Team players – this campaign kicks off in May. SWF (Scottish Women’s Football) have also shot a video with Purple TV to promote their support of the song’s message and to promote the Scottish Women’s League.
Amazing! How important is for girls, who enjoy football, to feel supported and encouraged?
It’s vital to support our female footballers. Scotland is such a progressive nation yet people don’t necessarily realize that there is such a disparity in support and opportunity between the men and women’s game. The media needs to get behind this cause- with public support comes the potential for commercial investment and thus, make the game more professional. They do it in other countries, why not here? Most of the girls and women work full-time jobs then train like athletes every evening – it is no doubt exhausting.
But it’s not just about supporting football for the sake of football. If we support our female athletes in the media, we create positive role models for our younger generation. Girls are bombarded with images of size zero models in beauty magazines; they should also see fit, healthy, strong women who are working hard and achieving. It gives them something better to aspire to, and to know that a females self esteem should not be derived from her sexual objectification. It also in turn, cultivates more positive gender attitudes amongst boys.
Couldn’t agree more! How important is gender equality not just in sports but overall?
It’s imperative for the future of our world. Equal rights and opportunity will create a more stable society. It is statistically proven that when women are empowered economically, more money goes to their children’s health and wellbeing. There is less debt and more investment in health, education and housing. The more women appointed in Government, the more democratic the country is. Women possess a great capacity for humility and compassion – wouldn’t this make them more inclined to seek peaceful resolve as opposed to starting and participating in wars? To me it’s a no brainer – we need each other, and we need to be on an equal footing. What man wouldn’t want a better future for his daughter and the women in his life?
What’s the future holding for the women in SFA? And for you, personally?
My hope is that women take up key positions within the SFA and are strongly involved in the decision-making processes. Decisions that impact the future of both the men’s and women’s game. I hope that the women’s game flourishes in this country and the girls are giving the credit they deserve for their athleticism, achievements and positive influence on the nation.
For me personally, I’ll just keep writing songs and getting behind the causes that I believe in. Many thanks for this interview.
Sharon Martin’s song, the SWF and SFA anthem Girl (Daugher of Scotland) is now available on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/girl-daughter-scotland-single/id1104656614
By Joanna Velikov
Eyes blur. Tension is unbearable. Breath is out of control. Pain, pleasure, agony, and release.
No, I am not having sex. I am trying to accomplish the camel pose of bikram yoga.
Health is the obsession of our time: the next diet and exercise trend always claiming to be better than the last. In the eighties spandex-clad individuals crowded in front of their TVs and clenched their buttocks in unison to the sounds of synth-pop (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deKHYCsjseg). A decade ago, there was the cardio craze, which had thousands of middle-aged men take to cycling, swimming and long distance running – all intent on completing a new triathlon each weekend. Lately, there have popped up a number of refurbished industrial buildings where people stand in stripped-down rooms, lift enormous tractor tires and wield sledgehammers in order to buff up.
Female weightlifters and skinny men in lycra are breaking gender norms, but body dimorphic disorder (BDD) has never been more prevalent as it is today. According to a 2015 report by Beat (https://www.b-eat.co.uk/assets/000/000/302/The_costs_of_eating_disorders_Final_original.pdf?1424694814) there are 725 000 people suffering from eating disorders in the UK, which is a 7% yearly increase since 2009. This is not just a physical and psychological burden for the patient, but it also takes an immense emotional toll on the carers and has a severe financial impact on the NHS and UK’s economy. Not to mention that it is the one mental health issue today most common to end in fatality.
That is why I wish to address a different change in the health community: the turn towards mindfulness. Recent studies in cognitive behavioural therapy have shown that mindfulness can be effective when treating anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, as well as depression, stress and anxiety. Bikram yoga is just one example of how to exercise mindfulness. The 90-minute class consists of 26 different poses and two breathing exercises, which take place in a room heated to 40 degrees. The aim is to work every single part of the human body to achieve optimum health and function.
Don’t get me wrong. I was definitely a sceptic too. Standing in a hot room, dripping of sweat and attempting to breathe slowly did not seem like my type of exercise. In fact, it did not seem like exercise at all. I was used to running far and fast, lifting heavy weights and swinging kettle bells in quick succession. I wanted to burn fat, build muscle and tone my body to perfection. I did not see the value of relaxation and meditation.
Time devoted for relaxation has become another stress factor for students today. It is not enough to achieve straight-As. You need to have a part-time job to pay the bills. You need to do an unpaid internship to forward your career. You need to apply for postgraduate study with the aching knowledge that you are slowly losing control of your future. Simultaneously, you need to prove that you have a social life (don’t even get me started on Tinder…) and party with your friends, while maintaining a healthy diet and visiting the gym regularly to feel good about your exterior.
Bikram yoga is certainly not exempt from the stress and the weight-losing obsession that stalks gyms today. Like in any female locker room, you will find women in yoga studios that pinch their love handles, stare at the mirror and sigh at their static kilos of pudginess – ‘Who’s the (fattest) of them all?’. There seems to be an awkward silence in the yoga community about people with body dysmorphia. The yoga ideal that adorns magazine covers, Instagram accounts and Youtube videos holds the promise of a skinny but anorexic body. Healthy eating that accompany yoga narratives, such as juice cleanses, gluten-free vegan diets and fruity smoothies, all propagate a certain life style that may disguise a person’s eating disorders. In their May 2015 issue, Yoga Magazine even featured an ancient yoga technique called Vyaghra kriyā (vomiting in order to cleanse your body), which becomes another way of rationalising bulimic practice.
Bikram yoga might not be for everyone. And the first five classes were not exactly my cup of tea. With sweat running in every crease of your being, the fat bulging in awkward places and constantly falling down during balance poses, it is difficult to accept and celebrate your body. I came out feeling depressed about my ‘extra kilos’ and exhausted from the heat. I began to despise the loud and happy chatter of the thin, flexible women proudly sporting their tight bras and mini shorts. Everything just seemed too perfect.
The yoga community needs to start admitting their responsibility in inspiring unhealthy food habits and obsessive exercise. Yet not all hope is lost. My yoga centre features flyers from Glasgow Centre for Eating Disorder, which encourages yogis in need to seek help (http://www.glasgow-eating-disorders.co.uk/). The classes focus on clearing the mind from stress. Newcomers are warmly applauded for just staying in the room throughout the class. On the Internet, there are new and encouraging narratives from yogis of all sizes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9FSZJu448 and https://www.instagram.com/biggalyoga/?hl=en).
So perhaps it is not your body that needs to change, but the way you think about your body. From a young age, girls are complimented for being pretty and boys are complimented for being cool. It is no wonder that girls learn to measure their self-worth from their looks and not from their smarts. Next time, instead of telling your friends they look skinny and beautiful, tell them they look happy and confident. Instead of staring at the number on the scale, think about how well you accomplished a certain yoga pose. Congratulate yourself on the progress you make, not on losing kilos or sculpting your body, but on mastering a certain pose or controlling your breath.
As the feeling of yoga mastery slowly came to me, I started to notice new things in my class. Surrounding me were people of all ages, all sizes, both genders and different origins. Some were beginners, some were experts, but everyone was struggling with their own personal issues. The instructors were smiling and positive, not because they seek perfection, but because they enjoy the feeling of community: the feeling of everyone working together. I began to accept that I would turn into a human waterfall. I started to enjoy having 90 uninterrupted makeup-free minutes for myself. Afterwards, when the sweating subsides, I can rest in the afterglow of knowing when to let go.
By Sofia Lindén
Photo from Read: Tidal online
Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes, knows she can take Glasgow’s 02 ABC by storm. The 27 year old from Vancouver is upbeat and confident from the get-go, as she plunges the audience into her unique and addictive brand of powerful and ethereal electropop.
One thing that characterises Grimes is that her gigs aren’t just about her – the show is a team effort, and it abounds with personality as a result. She is joined onstage by support act Hana, whose own distinctive voice and style allow her to slot seamlessly into that badass “Girl Gang” vibe that Grimes likes to project. The two backing dancers are every bit as central to the performance as Grimes herself, and they skilfully work the spotlight for much of the show. The sheer uncontained force and energy of their movement is captivating and infectious. Grimes herself really knows how to command the stage, purely by virtue of being so impossibly energetic. Her onstage chat is also delightful – too hyperactive to beat about the bush when it comes to introducing songs, she cheerfully propels the set from one song to the next without letting the energy drop for an instant.
The newer material gels well with the old; defying claims that Grimes’ newest release, the distinctly pop-ier ‘Art Angels’, was too far a departure from the more experimental, electronic sound of ‘Visions. In fact, Grimes is a musical master at the height of her powers, and the seamless, carefully considered composition of the live experience is proof of her artistic, ahem, vision. She gives the impression of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going as an artist.
Crowd-pleasers such as the hugely popular ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and ‘Genesis’ are complimented by some pleasant surprises. ‘Go’, originally a collaboration with Blood Diamonds, has an almost euphoric resonance in the packed venue, while less celebrated tracks off the new album like ‘World Princess Part II’ really come into their own. Grimes’ remarkable versatility as a performer is also striking – in the absence of Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, she declares that she, Grimes, will be performing the verses of ‘SCREAM’ in Russian. And she absolutely kills it.
As the set draws to a close, Grimes has a confession to make. She doesn’t actually like encores, because the etiquette is awkward and stressful. So she’s just going to launch straight into what would ordinarily be the encore song, ‘Kill V. Maim.’ And who could blame this adorable human? Everyone has been won over, everyone has already had the time of their lives, and everyone wishes they could be up onstage dancing with Grimes and her friends. For such a huge and hectic gig, the atmosphere is overwhelmingly warm, light-hearted and welcoming, and this is undoubtedly what sets it apart as one of those gigs that you remember for months, perhaps even years, to come.
By Cat Acheson
I know, I know. It’s probably the last thing you’d like to hear (or read) about after weeks of controversy, speculation, #WorstDressed and #AskHerMore. The Oscars. Or as the actress Bette Midler put it, ’the awards show where Leonardo DiCaprio is ”overdue” but black people can ”wait till next year.”’
But bare with me. I’m not going to write about white privilege, institutional racism or how we’re all relieved that Leo finally won (even though we all know he really peaked in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), as important as these topics are. What I want to linger on for just a little more is the film that, to the surprise of many and disappointment of some, won Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards: Spotlight.
It was a surprise (even Morgan Freeman, who presented the award, seemed unable to conceal his astonishment) because Spotlight was outshone in the ceremony by an epic one man’s battle-against-the-odds revenge journey with Tom Hardy and an epic sort-of-feminist action-thriller-extravaganza with Tom Hardy. But, at least to me, it was a really nice surprise for a change.
Spotlight itself is an unexpected treat: a clean, crisp and, according to reporters such as The Guardian’s Alicia Shepard, an authentic portrayal of investigative journalism. Although the basic narrative it offers—based on a true story about a group of journalists who in the early 2000s exposed the systemic sex abuse of children by Catholic priests in Boston—reeks of Oscars-worthy heroism, the way in which it is told largely avoids the pitfalls of excessive sentimentality that we’ve come to expect from Hollywood biographies. In this respect it also fares much better than the other Hollywood film about journalism that was released last year, James Vanderbilt’s Truth, which was part of the Glasgow Film Festival programme a couple weeks back. Starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford as the 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes and legendary anchor Dan Rather, respectively, the film tells the story of the Killian documents controversy that led to Mapes’ firing from CBS and the end of Rather’s career.
Although Spotlight is much more subtle and sophisticated than Truth, which cannot help but indulge in moments of heroic pathos (watch out for overpowering score and slow motion footage of Redford intercut with shots of people clapping), both films do something important. They illustrate what journalism, essentially, is about—what it can be at its finest (Spotlight), what is at stake when mistakes are made (Truth), and, perhaps most importantly, the amount of work that goes into—or should go into—telling a story that is not only true but accepted as such (both). The amount of hours spent on digging up documents in archives and courthouses, making phone calls, checking facts from multiple sources and—what seems to be Truth screenwriters’ favourite phrase—asking questions, is staggering. I hesitate to claim that these films are ‘authentic’ or ‘truthful’ descriptions of what it is like being a journalist—of course they’re not, they’re dramatizations, and of a special kind of journalism at that, the investigative kind. Nor do I want to be naïve and insist that all journalists are motivated by some higher cause. But, for me at least, they succeed in conveying a sense of appreciation for the hard work done by the people in that profession, so often met up by insults and harsh criticism rather than applauds and Oscar statues.
And what a topical subject for us as students of Glasgow University. Last week, the editors of Glasgow Guardian reported on the SRC elections to much controversy (see here https://glasgowguardian.co.uk/2016/03/01/src-ran-movember-at-a-loss/ and here https://glasgowguardian.co.uk/2016/03/03/a-response-to-the-tab/) and, as the new SRC president Ameer Ibrahim and VPs start their term, the fate of student media on campus needs to be addressed. As far removed as the world of Boston Globe and CBS seems to be from our little hill, Spotlight and Truth can still say something about the importance of sustaining student-led organisations and societies that speak to and for students, such as Subcity, Glasgow Guardian, GUM, GUST, Qmunicate and others. Apart from the overall significance of journalism, these films also illustrate the importance of good management and adequate support—my message to Ameer Ibrahim and others at the SRC.
On a more personal note: if you’re in the same situation as I am—about to graduate, suddenly waking up to the realisation that you have no idea what you want to do with your life—watching a film like Spotlight could make a difference. Someone older and wiser would perhaps advise you never to base your career plans on the information you get from a Hollywood film, but I say that a little dreaming never hurt anybody. And, if after your movie night you feel like journalism or ‘something to do with media’ (that’s me) might be for you, get in touch with GUM or one of the above and get involved with student media. You might not be applauded on an Oscar stage, but, I guarantee you, you will get to ask questions.
Truth and Spotlight in cinemas now. For other entertaining and intelligent portrayals of journalism see the Danish TV drama Borgen and HBO’s Newsroom.
Watch this space: GUM editorial positions open for applications soon.
By Hanna Markkanen
Not to be dramatic, but the Hummingbirds’ gig at the Hug and Pint last week is one of the best that Glasgow has seen in recent months.
The evening kicks off with support from Laurence Made Me Cry – a beautiful singer with a beautiful voice who writes her own music. She hands the audience members a pack of seeds after her set with a download code on them (‘I ran out of CDs’). She’s launching her EP on the tenth of April and you should get yourself along and check her out, she’s amazing.
It’s safe to say that the Hummingbirds do not disappoint in any respect. After all, who could be anything less than content with a nice pint and five Liverpudlians serenading them. Looking around the audience in the intimate venue, each person loves what they hear and most are dancing along. During their set their passion and enjoyment of the music is clear to see and we are told afterwards that most of their music is written to play to each other’s likes and strengths, which is probably why their music sounds so natural and works so well.
They’ve been playing together for about five years, starting out as a couple of lads messing around with guitars and then building on the music they were making by adding new members and slowly creating their own sound. Of course, we are hesitant to ask five boys from Liverpool about their artistic influences, but before we have even finished the question they are laughing and confirm that the Beatles are pretty important to them. They seem flattered when we say that their image and sound was similar to the Fab Four. Indeed they are very humble and pleased with these compliments – ‘Imagine someone saying you sound like the Beatles!’ Jay exclaims.
The Hummingbirds’ album ‘Pieces of You’ is being released at the end of March, check them out on social media (fantastic Instagram) and at their website: wearethehummingbirds.com
By Alice Tully
Stalls are packed tonight as The Royal Scottish National Orchestra prepare to perform the music of John Williams. Williams provided the music screen hits such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hook, E.T and Jurassic Park, as well as many other countless film titles.
The whole performance is spectacular – the instruments played by a number of talented musicians serve as paint brushes, depicting imagery witnessed on the screen many times. For whether it is a battle scene between Luke Sky Walker and Darth Vader or the first encounter of a candlelit Hogwarts by Harry, Ron and Hermione, the music evokes feelings of nostalgia, excitement, awe, intensity and melancholy – all in the space of two hours.
It is hard to forget the music played in “Star Wars” as the musicians visit it many times throughout the whole performance and play so beautifully and powerfully. The theme tune in particular comes out of nowhere and takes everyone by surprise. It is a very cinematic experience.
Another notable part of the performance is the composition from “Far and Away”. The film tells the tale of an Irish Family who migrated to the U.S in the 1890s and then make their quest to Oklahoma – the Free Land. Though this film is perhaps one of his lesser known films, Williams does a good job of depicting an image of the family’s journey through a beautiful blend of classical music with playful traditional folk music. In addition to the music, this piece sparks thought about a current issue. By reminding us of the migration rates between Europe and America in the nineteenth century – when many Scots and Irish were forced to flee their homes – we are reminded that many individuals today are being forced out of their homelands and turning to the UK to seek safety.
Also grasping the attention of the audience this evening is conductor Richard Kaufman who gives praise to John Williams, describing him as “memorable creative voice”. His music gave these films a character which really drew audiences, and made classical music much more accessible to the general public.
To add, in his speech Kaufman gives notable praise to music in general: “Life can be tough and it can be difficult to deal with at times. This can sometimes be dealt with by seeking peace, beauty and refinement”. This comes in the form of nicely composed, classical pieces performed by a talented orchestra, who are always in residence at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
By Greg Marlborough
Two years ago, I landed in a lovely sisterhood of a flat where we would sit round the kitchen table and quiz each other via the ‘The Dating Persona’ Okcupid test. It promised to analyze sex drive, predictability, intelligence and inherent goodness. It was an absurd hangover breakfast diversion, but I enjoyed the zany matches to other types and dead-eyed pastel illustrations.
I happened to be single that summer, and watching How To Be Single this week impressed uncanny similarities between my old self and the lead lady Alice. The most obvious aspect I saw of myself was that I had to go the long haul to realize I wasn’t doing things on my own: to enjoy my own company. I would cycle the extra mile for a baked good cause I deserved to be in love with myself. I would text many guys because I was lonely – but I thought I was owning it – and was probably quite shitty to my friends in figuring all this out. Also, the phrase ‘getting caught in dick sand’ sounds like something me and my friends would actually say.
How To Be Single was by no means a perfect film – the plot lost the way a little in the middle – but it was endlessly refreshing as it showed a more realistic attitude to young women today. It surfs the polar standards set by Hollywood of people that are either happily in love or desolate and single. The film presents a grey area, a middle slog that sometimes takes months, perhaps years to traverse. This is the tumultuous ocean of self-love. Also, it was great to have Rebel Wilson provide some comic effect. Likewise, the men in the film were not all after the poon. Mr. Bartender was weird, but I think him ending the film alone with his dis-serviced mini fridge proved a point. Mr. Professional Building-Developer was shitty to Alice, but then apologized and vacated the screen focusing on the core relationship in his life; that with his daughter. ‘Hey there’s that adorable man who warmed the butter in his hands from Obvious Child!’ at first hand seemed too eagerly pursuing his chosen gal, but it was revealed he just wanted a nice family all along and dressed-up as a stay at home dad at an 8th grade costume party. Basically, a male with his eyes set on the prize – all day watching Chef’s Table re-runs on Netflix and making pureed carrot. He was a… LATTE PAPA. It is fantastic that movies finally recognize this breed of human.
When films give two minutes to consider equal cinematic representation of the sexes, it’s like watching a toddler still stumbling towards their first steps, as you get to see it grow and reflect on the triumphs and near misses. Superhero film Deadpool was like an overly performative ten-year-old throwing shit into your eyes. Watching Deadpool, I was reminded instantly of one of the darker questions of the Okcupid quiz: ‘Suppose your boyfriend/girlfriend is horribly burned in a car accident that was totally your fault. They are badly mutilated and *pissed off*. Is it time to say goodbye?’. We were all horrified at this question and, not being a sociopath, answered no. Ryan Reynold’s character simply says: ‘Are you deformed from trying to access an up-and-coming cancer treatment? Gross. Never even walk on the same street as your partner again, as they will not accept you’. He also draws the line at having cancer period. Just walk right out on your fiancée in the middle of the night, cause it’s time to say goodbye.
Another thing Deadpool does is pay for a sex-worker to go on a date with him, in some sort of hostage situation, where he withholds sex until the clock is running (cause he sweetly wanted to take her to an arcade first). But when the magic does happen, she is utterly eroticized by his peen and, unclearly, she is now his girlfriend.
Their whole relationship is a montage of different ways they’ve had sex. This might have been refreshing in another film, but since her character was a sex-worker two minutes ago earlier, they should have clarified if she was still on a contract with him.
After twenty-four hours, I can now laugh at it, but in all honestly Deadpool made the world feel a bit smaller with its smack-down of sexism. A female character, who exhibited to a traditional lad-mentality audience an unapproachable appearance (piercings, shaved hair and comfortable clothing) was met with the aside ‘Good luck to the guy who tries to force her into after prom sex’. Ah Deadpool, how wink wink nudge nudge you slipped a rape joke in! I honestly was sick in my mouth multiple times during this film. I also got a neck injury from peeking over at the majority male audience in Dbox seats – cause real men sit in the hardcore area – to see how they were receiving it. They found the whole thing utterly hilarious of course.
So one film made the world a little bigger with its exploration of newer shades of movie character, the other made me afraid to strike up a conversation with any man that isn’t my boyfriend. In case you’re wondering, one film received 83% and the other 49%. I’ll let you puzzle that one out for yourself. However, as both films present themselves as cinematic junk food I was pleasantly surprised to get a little more from How to Be Single.
By Heather O’Donnell
With one week left until GUM #2 The Future Edition is released, the editor reflects on the future of media.
Not many things get people excited anymore. The greatest turn-ons of the year seem to be the Superbowl Half-Time Show, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive and the Academy Awards Ceremony. (Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to diminish celebrity achievements. I have like everyone else been haunted by wet dreams of Leonardo DiCaprio grabbing a phallic golden statuette and I am also massively impressed by Beyoncé’s twerking skills.)
But the more I flick through online newsfeeds and social media channels, the more I realise that the media is a circus. And the readers are the clowns that perform in it. I wish we could be as graceful as the elephants. But we remain clowns with masks that obscure how we perceive the world – pale and white, ghoulishly laughing, with black tear stains.
Events and news that matter remain somewhat concealed to us. Those moments are rare that silence the buzz of sensationalism. Those moments that cut like a razor through everything and make the world crystal clear. Those moments where we are confronted with The Real.
One such moment happened in 2013 when Internet activist Aaron Swartz died. During his entire life, Swartz propagated for the freedom of information to all, maintaining that access to the Internet is a human right. When he studied at MIT, he downloaded millions of academic articles from JSTOR to make the point that these journals should be available to everyone – that knowledge should not be exclusive to a rich élite. Swartz was subsequently charged with intent to commit a felony and an overzealous list of prosecutorial charges dragged on for the next two years. The sad event of Swartz’ suicide was mourned across the globe and awoke the world to the importance of freedom of information.
Another heart-stopping moment occurred when whistle-blower Edward Snowden left his post at the NSA in Hawaii and fled to Hong Kong with thousands of classified documents. These documents exposed illegal telecommunications and online surveillance, not just of American citizens, but also of people worldwide. With roguish charm, Snowden managed to fool the US government and an entire press core when he booked several airline tickets and escaped to Moscow. Since then, Snowden has expertly eluded all his persecutors and has had reporters chase their tails for an interview. Now he has become an icon for something larger than himself: everyone’s fundamental right to privacy.
A third moment took place in 2015, when hacktivist group Anonymous interrupted Fox News. For a minute and a half, the Guy Fawkes-mask invaded the TV screens of American homes with the message: ‘We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!’. Soon the reel was shown across the world. It proved that the Internet collective of jokesters and trolls had become a serious political movement in its own right with powers to influence and effect change. The Internet has thus become an arena for people to express their opinions on equal grounds. Anonymous has facilitated the public demonstrations of these opinions, united by a common goal: the freedom of expression.
These are the moments that matter, that break through all the noise and reveal something resembling the truth. Some say that print media is dying, but it does not mean that the media is less important. On the contrary, the media and our continual engagement with it are more important than ever. It does not mean we should stop enjoying celebrity news. It means that the freedom of information, the right to privacy and the freedom of expression should not be taken for granted. The way we exercise these rights will define our generation.
Personally, I believe it is high time to wash off our clown faces; step into the ring of the circus and claim ownership of what is ours.
By Sofia Linden
For more information on moments the earth skipped a beat… Watch the following excellent documentaries:
The Internet’s Own Boy (2014), directed by Brian Knappenberger
Citizenfour (2014), directed by Laura Poitras
We Are Legion (2012), directed by Brian Knappenberger
As I walk down Byres Road, I ask myself the same questions that Bilbo asked himself when dwarfs overtook his home. Where did they come from? What do they want? And for how long do they plan to stay? Ten years ago nobody had heard of a “hipster”, much less seen them or knew what they were. One day, they began to appear and, suddenly, they were everywhere. There was never a first hipster, a father of hipsters nor the Adam and Eve of hipsters. Nonetheless, similar to an alpine avalanche, hipsters have become unstoppable and they are multiplying exponentially for each passing day.
I don’t think anyone has ever met a self-professed hipster (if you have, please leave a comment, I would surely love to meet them). No one has ever introduced him or herself to me and openly declared “Hi! My name is _____ and I am a hipster”.
It seems we cannot be sure hipsters exist at all. Even though, everyone knows what signs to look for: retro clothing, broad-rimmed glasses, tote bags and an unread copy of Kafka or Camus under their arm. There is no way to prove that someone identifies as a hipster unless they say so themselves.
As I continue my walk down the road, I watch them closely. They roll their skinny cigarettes or carefully apply wax to their moustaches. I feel the urge to grab them and shake them and shout: “Who are you? Why are you doing this? Take me to your leader!”. But that would be crazy. They do not have an ideology. They are not a movement or a subculture as such. There is no charismatic leader and they do not geographically belong. There seems to be no point to their conceptual existence at all.
I begin to wonder where my hipsterphobia (my innate fear of hipsters) comes from. It’s a burning question for any reader who made it this far. I am a young vegetarian woman with a straight fringe, who studies English Literature, loves to go on angry feminist rants and only buys clothes from charity shops. I seem to check all the right boxes. Yet, I have never identified as a hipster, and I know I have not always been this way. I wasn’t born riding an old stripped-down bike with the urge to go to Berlin and visit underground nightclubs.
So, how did it happen? Perhaps, I woke up one day and felt the inexplicable urge to play vinyl records and wear Doc Martens boots. Or maybe, it happened by slow degrees through careful societal manipulation and social pressure to be different from the mainstream. I must have bought into the trend for some reason. But I still don’t want people to call me that word. Hipster. It fills me with dread.
I tear my hair because I can’t figure out why the word feels so shameful. The concept contains an inherent contradiction. As everyone attempts to be different, mainstream becomes difference and the essence of difference continually slips away and stays slightly out of reach. It becomes a competition and a race: who has the artsiest tote bag, who went to the most underground party and who read the most obscure book…
I’ve made a decision. It is time to let go of the shame and step out of the closet. This is who I am. I accept. I cannot hide it anymore. My desire for woolly sweaters and delicious cups of tea is too great to be contained. So I step forward and in a loud voice I declare: I am hipster, hear me roar!
By Sofia Linden
Photograph: Brand New Images/Getty Images
You’ve probably heard the term ‘lad culture’ thrown around at university or in the newspapers. Headlines such as The Telegraph’s ‘Can universities ever get rid of boozy, sexist lad culture?’ and the Guardian’s ‘It’s not lad culture – it’s misogyny’ conjures up images of alcoholic rapists running rampant on the street while mid way through an honours degree.
I don’t mean to be insensitive when addressing this issue; certain consequences of pre-conceived ideas of lad culture result in sexual harassment and alcohol abuse and this is unacceptable. And while it is thought that ‘lad culture’ is a black and white issue, insomuch as, it’s a sub culture of predominately men who endorse sexist, racist, homophobic behaviour – this is only sometimes the case. Those who consider themselves affiliated with lad culture can come from a variety of backgrounds and have diverse range of interest and opinions. So how do we define lad culture when it’s such a subjective term?
The NUS (National Union of Students) describes lad culture as ‘a group or ‘pack’ mentality residing in activities such as sport, heavy alcohol consumption and ‘banter’ which was often sexist, misogynistic, racist or homophobic’. This is a common understanding of lad culture, particularly amoung young women. Gemma Clark, a multi-media journalist student at Glasgow Caledonian University believes lad culture is ‘groups of guys that act hyper-masculine. I see lad culture as drinking, being derogatory towards women, being loud, anti social behaviour and travelling in packs’. Similarly, UWS (University of the West of Scotland) student Heather Armstrong says ‘I’d say lad culture is a negative part of the socialisation of young people, especially young men’. However, people can associate themselves with ‘lad culture’, or deem themselves a ‘lad’, without being guilty of endorsing sexist or antisocial behaviour, yet this isn’t something that is openly discussed. ‘Lad culture’ is portrayed to have ridged pre-requisites, when actually it’s a versatile culture that encompasses different aspects of what is considered ‘popular culture’.
As the term itself originated in the 90s, it has evolved and changed over the years. In the 90s it was associated with bands such as Oasis and was understood as a brotherhood of sorts, a support network of male friends who enjoyed the same activities. The understanding of the term in 2015 is wholly different, with an emphasis on sexually aggressive and bigoted ideals. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that those aspects didn’t exist in the 90s, it was hardly a decade innocent of sexual exploitation, but lad culture sprouted mainly into the cultural fields of Britpop and did so with a ferocity equivalent to the Spice Girls infamous ‘girl power’. In the 90s, both ‘lad culture’ and ‘girl power’ were gendered consumer cultures that, on the outside, pretended to empower each gender but, underneath, simply reinforced stereotypes in a largely benign way.
Nowadays, ‘lad culture’ can be associated with anything from car enthusiasts and sports fans, to Playboy readers and homophobes. But whatever the association, it’s now a dominant sub culture that surrounds us daily, compared to previous years when it merely acted as a social escapism for young people. Chris of feminist zine TYCI says, ‘Personally I love football and I used to like Oasis (a long time back). At the same time I am certainly not homophobic, I don’t drink much and I co-founded a feminist fanzine so for me any real definition (of lad culture) immediately breaks down.’ Thus, we are faced with the problem – if lad culture covers such a broad range of attitudes and interests then how can we pinpoint where the destructive elements of this culture stem from?
I think it’s important to address the damaging aspects of lad culture within the wider context of society and its inherent traditional views of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’. It is not justifiable to blame all young men for the negative aspects associated with this culture, we must take into account the shades of grey within such a dominant issue. Generalisations are rarely ethically sound, but having said that, whether you consider yourself part of lad culture or not, it’s beneficial for everyone to recognise unacceptable behaviours and pave the way for a societal shift in consciousness that is reflective of its actions and attitudes.
It can be argued that ‘lad culture’ feeds into the wider ‘popular culture’ and both of these terms merely act as umbrellas to more specific complex issues. These issues exist within a nebulous universe of fixed ideas and inadvertent principals concerning femininity, race, sexuality and class.
‘Lad culture’ therefore, is a complex term that spans many regions of thought in the western hemisphere. It can’t be boxed in or pigeonholed. However, there are certain negative and archaic attitudes that exist within lad culture that should be challenged. Tackling the root of these attitudes will allow us to move forward as a progressive, compassionate society.
By Mina Green
Although I have written a lot about social mix, cities still remain divided, or perceived as divided. The four directions of a compass are often used to make a distinction of some sort. Who hasn’t heard of the so-called Iron Curtain that divided the socialist East from the capitalist West? And nowadays, when geographers are referring to the global North or the global South, the North is the new framing of the First World, or the developed countries and comprises ironically also most of the ‘western’ countries. The South on the other hand, is the new concept for the Third World or developing countries. But also on much smaller geographical scales, the north and the south are used to distinguish one from the other, better from worse, richer from poorer.
The southern banks of the river Clyde for example, have a rather infamous reputation according to inhabitants of their northern counterparts. When you don’t have any purpose of going across the river, you simply don’t. Although I have lived in Glasgow for almost four months now, I indeed have never found myself in the position or need to take the Squinty Bridge to the other side. How residents think of the south side, became very clear when I asked a local to tell me how he felt about the area. He said that friends would ask him if he ‘got his shots’ before going to the south, and he would rather invite friends who lived there over to the north, because the south would be just somewhere you would not like to go and have a drink. On the other hand, because the south is a – presumably partly because of its reputation – relatively cheap area, some also said that it is becoming a more attractive area.
Not surprisingly, the natural boundary of water and more specifically rivers seems to divide cities everywhere, also in Amsterdam. Here the role of North and South is reversed, with the South looking down on the North. The city of Amsterdam is split by the IJ, an important water way for trade shipping from and to the North Sea. Therefore, the construction of bridges is nearly impossible due to the fact that they would have to open almost all the time, or have to be sky high. The result is a ferry service, which runs indeed very frequent and is free for everybody, but nevertheless makes the threshold to go to the North (Noord) higher, although the geographical distance is relatively short. Moreover, by southern citizens Noord is seen as a residential area for the rough working class. But again, this is changing and processes of gentrification are also taking place here, because almost every other neighbourhood is becoming too expensive for the average citizen to live in.
Difference is also made based on other natural features. In the Netherlands for example, The Hague has a part that has been built on sand, and a part that is built on moor. The richer inhabitants live on the sandy part, the poorer on the moor part. Moor was perceived as bad soil for building and the source for many health issues, what resulted in the working class mainly residing in these areas. The wealthy were of course able to go to better areas. And whereas in the Netherlands distinction based on height differences is hardly possible, in Glasgow you can find traces of these kinds of divisions. According to some of the people I spoke to, Park Circus is only reserved for the wealthy that can literally look down upon the surrounding neighbourhoods and have a magnificent view on the city.
It is interesting to be aware of how a geographical situation may lead to certain images about the areas and its population. Moreover it is remarkable to see how the physical environment shapes the social environment. The people of ancient Greece already noticed this and argued that climate would have an influence on people’s behaviour. But that boundaries, both natural and artificial, do have a lot of implications for people that are exposed to them, is one thing that we can be sure of.
By Rosa de Jong
“Can I just have a quick smoke first?” grins the ever-charismatic Gregor Hunter Coleman as we approach him during a break in his busking set one Friday afternoon. Gregor, we note, is something of a local celebrity in Glasgow nowadays, having become an almost permanent fixture in the city centre.
“I’m out here busking every day,” he confirms, glancing around the bustling street. Arduous as though this might seem – braving the biting Glasgow wind to bring covers of popular songs to the masses – Gregor is by no means alone in this game. Glasgow is, in essence, Scotland’s busking capital. If it’s not a slice of pristine indie pop greeting your ears as you ascend the steps of the Subway station, it’s a tuneful accordion or triumphant saxophone. Voices drift along every street, singing songs both jaunty and mournful. It seems there’s room for every genre in this thriving metropolis.
Despite his dedication to the trade, Gregor’s quick to inform us that performing on the street isn’t without its problems. “All my stuff broke yesterday so I had to replace it,” he says of his equipment. He also tells us that busking at night carries an element of risk – when darkness descends, there’s an increased chance of people stealing the day’s earnings from your case. He knows this from experience.
Nonetheless, Glasgow’s busking scene suits him well. “Busking’s the only time you get paid what’s 100% yours,” he tells us earnestly. His statement rings with truth – playing in the middle of Buchanan Street doesn’t incur any agent’s fees, after all. Busking has also awarded him plenty of valuable opportunities. After hearing him play in the centre of the city, a woman requested that he play at her wedding – in the Lake District.
Any pre-wedding jitters?
“It’s a big day”, he smiles. “If I ruin the songs, then…”
It’s worth betting he won’t ruin the songs. In any case, Gregor’s certainly establishing himself within the music sphere, his endeavours now extending beyond the realm of street performance. He has gigged with Nicholas McDonald, Motherwell-native who was placed runner-up in 2013’s X-factor, as well as reality TV personality Jake Quickenden. He’s also aiming to get his band truly up and running, with their first show due to take place on December 18 at the 02 ABC.
Life could’ve been quite different for Gregor had his family gone through with plans to relocate to Dunoon when he was younger. He reckons he’d “literally just be a farmer” by now. When asked what he’d like to do in future, Gregor smiles coyly. “I just want to busk and see what happens.”
It’s a similar story for Jackson Harvey. The twenty-one-year-old once busked every day, but is now channelling most of his energy into The Modests, a band he’s been with for seven years. On the occasions he comes into the city centre armed with his guitar, it’s for enjoyment purposes only. He’s graduated to venues now, having played “everywhere in Glasgow… except The Hydro.” We probe him to tell us about his favourite venue. “It depends what you’re looking for,” he responds sensibly. “The 02 Academy is great for the ‘big venue’ experience”. Meanwhile, he thinks Box offers a nice intimate atmosphere. Jackson’s foray into the music world began upon the realisation that he’s too uncoordinated to be a footballer. “I’m not ambidextrous,” he laughs. “I can’t play with either foot.”
Halfway down Buchanan Street, a crowd has gathered around Glasgow-based duo Wandering Sons. The song they’re playing is not just toe-tappingly good, but a real foot-stomper. It transpires that it’s an original: the first track on their new album, which can be downloaded from their Facebook page for free or picked up in physical form for £5. The original music is delightfully interspersed with an energetic rendition of Florence and the Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love.” Though technically proficient, Wandering Sons may strike as being decidedly unorthodox. Their guitar case is adorned with rubber ducks; the drummer, David, has forgone a proper drum kit in favour of plastic buckets.
The band’s history, it seems, is as interesting as their aesthetic. Lead singer Barney (20), originally from Belgium, met David through Church, and the pair formed as a two-piece in 2012. Despite their talent, Wandering Sons embody Glasgow’s trademark self-deprecating humour. Starting out, they considered themselves “the worst musicians out of [their] whole friends group.”
It is soon revealed that their first time busking was in the Lake District, their efforts being met with a fairly enthusiastic response. “I think people were just being polite,” Barney says modestly. They admit that busking on Glasgow’s streets presents some challenges. It has been so cold on occasion that Barney has had to wear fingerless gloves while playing guitar. They’ve taken big risks for the band – quitting their day jobs and higher education courses – but things seem to be working out for them. They’ve toured mainland Europe and are beginning to gig seriously now, co-headlining shows with an Australian artist.
“We just do this and play gigs,” the boys say. “We love it at the moment… We’re making what we need to live.”
The band began to perform on the street after seeing others do the same. They praise the Glasgow busker scene very highly. “I don’t think I’d be busking [if I hadn’t moved to Glasgow]. There’s no busking scene in Belgium,” Barney muses.
As we approach Anna Shields – one of the only female buskers we’ve seen all day – we note a sign advertising a gig at the 02 Academy on the 11th of October. Clearly she’s doing quite well.
“The first time I went busking my mum wouldn’t let me go by myself,” Anna says, recounting her first experience performing in the city centre. Consequently, her brother stood and watched her from the side that day. “I made £12… I was so excited!”
Though Anna busked “for the fun of it” back then, she’s got bigger things on her mind now. She formed a band at the start of the year with her boyfriend – who plays guitar – and their bassist friend.
When asked if Anna suffers at all in such a male-dominated industry – and, indeed, within a male-dominated band – she doesn’t give the answer we’re expecting.
“It’s actually quite good for me,” she says. At this point, she begins to talk about the male buskers who garner attention on the basis of how they look. “When people see us, they’re coming to see the music. People are there because they want to listen to us,” she explains.
Like the others, Anna is picking up gigs in a number of Glasgow’s venues. She’s played the legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah hut on two occasions already.
Any hopes for the future?
According to Anna a CD is now in the works, due for release next year. She’ll have to juggle this with the music degree she’s studying for at the University of the West of Scotland. “Even if I don’t make it as a musician, I still want to be involved in the industry.”
If you hadn’t been born and raised in Glasgow, do you think you’d still be doing this?
“I would probably still be doing music – but probably not to the extent I’m doing it,” Anna tells us. “The Glasgow scene is the best for buskers… It has the best busker scene in the UK.”
This is a view echoed by Alexander, a Polish saxophonist who moved to Glasgow four months ago. He too has an extensive musical catalogue: besides performing in Buchanan Street alongside his guitarist, he has also played various gigs during his time here. He doesn’t seek out these shows as such – Alexander seems quite content with busking for the moment. “We live from music,” he says poignantly. “Busking is enough.”
Finally, we meet a guitarist who goes by the name of Mike. Mike’s still “finding his feet” on the busking scene, but his story’s a fascinating one. “God made me want to start busking. I used to run a lap dance club, but I had a dream one night… And now I sing to God. The songs and the words are for God.”
By Morgan Laing
Enter into Broadcast: a laid-back space with open fireplaces glowing from every TV screen, an impressive list of White Russians on a blackboard and friendly faces in every corner of the bar. A steep and narrow stairwell will take you down to the hidden underground. The roof there is so low you can barely stand tall. The room is so small people have to crowd to see the stage. Everyone clutches his or her plastic cups of beer in eager anticipation.
Then the music begins…
Kathryn and Calum are the founders of The Basement Sessions. They met when they were playing in the same band and remained good friends. In the beginning of 2015, they noticed there was a lack of live music in the Glasgow nightclub scene and decided to change that. Even though Kathryn is a full-time student in events management and Calum both works and plays his own music, they have managed to make their vision of bringing live music into a club setting come true. Today, The Basement Sessions arrange monthly gigs in the basement of Broadcast.
Kathryn: It is quite nice for the shows to be a bit of a treat. Once a month is perfect.
Each night gathers around 130 visitors, eager to see handpicked bands from the Glasgow music scene.
Kathryn: The music scene is very vibrant in Glasgow. Right now, the techno and the garage scene are trending. But despite all the trends, there is always a place for live music. In the past 50 years, there has been a decline of it. But the last ten years, it has started to increase again. Live music is just something that will never die. It is just a completely different experience.
The Basement Sessions’ nights are always free. This makes it possible to move freely. You can go outside, come back in, sit upstairs for a while and then go back to listen to your favourite band. In addition, you don’t have to commit a full evening: you can pop in on your way out or on your way home. If you don’t like one band, you can come back and listen to the next.
Lately, Kathryn and Calum have started to move away from the one-man acoustic acts.
Calum: It doesn’t grip people on a Friday or Saturday night. People want to have a good time and dance. But we organise other events as well, so there is space for all kinds of different acts. We want the crowd to have fun and to feel free to move around like in a club with a DJ.
Kathryn and Calum have been involved in the music scene of Glasgow, so it has been quite easy for them to find great talents. As Glasgow is a small city, many bands are friends with each other and are willing to support one another. Their selection of bands is based on a mixture of word-of-mouth, Soundcloud, music blogs or the bands contact them on their own. They work hard to create a musically coherent night, with three acts: two bands and a DJ that complement each other. The DJ plays a big part, as their job is to wrap up the night. They can interpret what the crowd wants and knows how to create a fun and entertaining environment.
Kathryn: We are not specifically looking for certain types of bands. It just comes down to what we enjoy, what we think will be received well by the audience. The Basement Sessions is a place where people can discover new talents.
Calum: We want to make a really good night for people to have fun. We don’t wanna loose sight of what we are doing now: giving up-and-coming local bands exposure.
In the past, The Basement Sessions have had themed nights, of which one was a hiphop special that attracted many people and talented musicians. However, Kathryn and Calum’s best memories are from a mini festival they arranged earlier this year in August.
Kathryn: We did a mini festival, showcasing the best bands and DJs that had performed for us so far. Alongside, there were some local artists and local clothes brands. It was a celebration of all the talents Glasgow has to offer. It became a huge success. It is nice to bring different talented people together. Everyone can network, learn from the event, from each other and gain new experiences.
If you want to brighten up your Friday night and experience something groovy: get off Netflix, change out of your pyjamas and grab some friends. You can still make it. It only begins after 11 pm. Head down to Broadcast on Sauchiehall Street for a night of dancing and sweet tunes.
By Sofia Linden and Saara Antikainen
I would wet my tights for him in puddles,
so that he might notice the way my toes curled
and be distracted from the fact that
I don’t know how to carry my teeth.
My eyes are positioned perfectly
for him to notice just how blue they are,
but, his gaze is fixed to the buds which bloomed
earlier this summer.
Him? Him sitting alongside me?
He is a child, with pointed hair.
Spiked to a crown,
the king of our castle
in his clammy cardigan.
And with sweat soaked hand he might stretch,
and cautiously touch my shoulder,
which I have let slip, like a secret,
pale and sly from its strap
so that he might not see the way
that I don’t like my face today.
But, never mind.
He stinks of Lynx
and adolescent self loathing
and his clothing is what was picked for him.
And I am Bambi,
in ridiculous heels that make me ten feet tall
yet I still feel small
and all they play is House
yet I don’t feel at home.
But, never mind.
that one day that crown will thin
and fall on to his pillow.
And I know,
that he is a rabbit
caught in the flashing lights
which caught my carefully crossed arms
and he likes the angle that I make.
I would like to preface this essay with an offering of #notallmens to ward off the twin menaces which haunt articles such as these: the demon of wilful misunderstandings and the phantom of hurt feelings. Let me say now: I am of course not talking about all men, because most of you are genuinely wonderful sparkly little beacons of light who deserve nothing but warmth, affection and very good sex for the rest of your sparkly little lives. However, some aren’t; so please excuse me.
#notallmen #notallmen #notallmen #notallmen #notallmen #notallmen #notallmen #notallmen
Thank you. Now we can begin.
As we all know, there are men in the world who will drag a girl down a dark alley and rape her. There are men who will lock a girl in a bedroom at a party and rape her. There are men who will purposely drug a girl or get her blackout drunk so they can rape her. This is terrible and horrible and I feel all sorts of hideous ways about it, but it’s not what I’m going to talk about here, for the following reason.
You and I know these men are bad men. I have no doubt that the majority of these men know they are bad men. Unless you’re a bona fide psychopath, you don’t commit these horrible acts without knowing that you’re doing a Bad Thing.
However, there is another class of men who also do Bad Things but who genuinely believe that they have done nothing wrong. These men have the potential to cause just as much harm as our straight-up Baddies, and these men worry me more because I know them. I’ve met them. I have, on occasion, been friends with them. And so have you.
These are the men for whom the Yes means Yes laws were instated. These are the men who take a woman’s silence as agreement, for whom reluctance is a form of flirtation, for whom a quiet ‘no’ is a token resistance, for whom quite a few ‘no’s are just a barrier to be pushed through. These are men that assume that because a woman is kissing them, she’s consenting to everything else. They aren’t violently holding down their partner and their partner isn’t screaming and crying but it is still wrong.
When I was seventeen and drunk and making out with a guy, and he continued doing what he was doing even after I said ‘no’ a bunch of times and tried to push his hands away, I didn’t think I’m being sexually assaulted. I thought, oh, I guess we’re doing this now, and even though I don’t want him to be doing this I also don’t want to cause a scene so I suppose I’ll just let him.
The next day there was no doubt in my mind that he hadn’t done anything wrong. If I’d really not wanted him to do it, I’d have screamed, right? I’d have pushed him off the bed or smacked him in the jaw. And I’d kept kissing him while saying no to his hands in my pants, because I’d still wanted to kiss him, so I guess he just thought I was fine with it. And anyway, I didn’t feel particularly upset, so what’s the big deal?
I didn’t think about this again until a couple of years later, when a friend was telling me that a similar thing happened to her. The difference was, she did feel upset about it, tremendously and rightfully so: she had said no and he had ignored her. We agreed that this person was a bad person who had done a bad thing.
And then I thought about that night when I was seventeen, and thought Oh.
Why hadn’t I felt at the time like the guy who had stuck his hands in my pants even after I said no was a bad person? Why hadn’t I felt like he’d done anything wrong? Looking at the facts, I knew he shouldn’t have done it, but I had a hard time attaching the label rape or sexual assault to something that made me feel less like I’d been violated and more like I’d been forced to go to a party that I didn’t really want to go to but ended up having an OK time.
Art by Terri Lee
In the end, it doesn’t matter that I hadn’t felt violated; plenty of women would have, and quite rightfully so. But this demonstrates why there are otherwise normal, caring, good guys out there studiously ignoring a lack of consent without realising they’re doing anything wrong, because it happened to me and at seventeen I didn’t even realise it was wrong. I just figured that’s how things go.
Where did we both get the idea that that’s ‘how it goes’? Why on earth did I feel like it was OK for my protests to be ignored, and why did an otherwise good guy feel OK ignoring them? The problem lies in what straight men and women are taught – explicitly, by countless dating guides and the pick-up artist movement, and implicitly by our media and culture – about how men and women (should) behave regarding sex. This is why I’m phrasing this piece in terms of men and women; of course rapists aren’t all men and victims aren’t all women, nor all sexual encounters heterosexual, but a big part of what leads to the situations I’ve described is the way straight men are socialised in our society.
How many films glorify men who keep pursuing a girl after she’s expressed her disinterest? How many tell men that they can indeed get the girl if they just keep trying? Many of them focus on ‘getting’ the girl in terms of a romantic relationship as well as a sexual one, but serve to create and reinforce the idea of the man as the pursuer and the woman as the pursued – which is just a softer, cuddlier, Hollywood-endorsed version of men as the predator and women as the prey.
We have all been taught by the media, by our culture, that the man should be the aggressor, that he should ‘escalate’ the situation. Men have been taught that women might seem reluctant or put up a ‘token resistance’ but that they shouldn’t be disheartened, it’s just how girls are! So innocent! So coy! Just push a little more! Don’t give up!
Please. Give up. If a woman says no, listen to her. If a woman seems reluctant or uncomfortable, ask her about it, or slow down, or pull back; give her the space to express her desire and don’t keep pushing for something you aren’t absolutely certain that she wants.
Women, express your desire! If you want to have sex with someone, tell them. Show them. Ask them. This largely isn’t our problem to solve but playing hard to get when you genuinely desire someone fuels the idea that consenting women have to be hunted, pursued, and pushed in order for a guy to get what he wants.
As I said, I don’t think most of the men doing these things are bad men by any means. They are good men who need to be taught better. This was a difficult essay to write because it’s a difficult situation: I’m aware that the modern dating game is largely predicated on these harmful gender roles and it can be difficult to escape from them. We’ve all been born into this patriarchal culture. No one alive now is the source of the problem, but we can stop perpetuating it by no longer buying into antiquated notions of how men and women are supposed to interact.
As long as our men are taught that they are the ones who must push things forward, that women will seem reluctant in order to fulfil the cultural requirement for girls to be innocent and good; as long as women do sometimes put up a token resistance in order to get what they want without being judged; as long as the discourse around one night stands and promiscuous sex remains buried in the assumption that men are the hunters and women are the prey; as long as we maintain that ‘boys will be boys’ and fail to hold them accountable for their actions; as long as we demean men by insisting that when it comes to attractive women, they just can’t control themselves; as long as we demean women by failing to see them as sexual actors, aggressors, women who know what they want… This will keep happening. And no matter how I felt that one night when I was seventeen, it’s not OK. I know better now.
Hopefully, soon, we all will.
By Lauren Jack
If you have any thoughts or experiences surrounding this complex issue of sexual consent please head over to The Grey Area our anonymous forum and help us raise awareness of this difficult problem and affect change within it.
It’s been six and a half years since the last time Metric paid Glasgow a visit and one might be wondering whether the Scottish crowd has forgotten about the Canadian four-piece after such a long time. But as soon as Emily Haines and her band take over the stage, after an outstanding support set from Dublin duo All Tvvins, all doubts are immediately blown away.
Even though the O2 ABC is not sold out, from beginning to end the audience is dancing, jumping, and singing along and Metric do their best to keep them happy and entertained. From being dressed as mystical creatures during the intro, and wearing giant illuminated sunglasses in the dark, to Emily Haines’ multiple outfit changes, including a fluorescent neon cape and huge black glittery wings decorated with multi-coloured lights, there’s absolutely nothing they have missed out on. And the fans clearly appreciate all this effort by heating up the atmosphere and after about half an hour into the set, one can even spot the people in the back dancing along.
Albeit just having released their new album “Pagans in Vegas” in September which is, as expected, heavily feature tonight, nearly every song gets the same sing-along response from the eager audience no matter if it is their latest single “The Shade” or “Help I’m Alive”, one of their biggest hits to date.
Determined to keep the crowd on their toes, the credits for the energetic live show especially go to guitarist James Shaw, with his fast, fulminant guitar solos and 41 year old singer Emily Haines who dances and jumps around in high heels, hot pants and a sexy corsage that puts every 20 year old to shame.
After about an hour the band leave the stage only to return a couple of minutes later supported by loud “one more tune”-chants and pick up exactly where they left off, pleasing their fans with four more songs: “Empty”, “Celebrate”, followed by an acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy” which especially manages to wow everyone in the O2 ABC.
Finishing off the show, with “Breathing Underwater”, an anthemic disco-number and every member of the band smiling, dancing and getting the most out of their instruments, ensures that everyone leaves satisfied – but sweaty.
After more than 15 years in the business, Metric certainly know how to put on a memorable show. And after witnessing this 90 minute adrenaline-soaked set, it is no wonder that the Glasgow crowd have not forgotten about them after more than 6 years.
By Sarah Stockinger
I am now studying Urban Geography, which involves the analysis of the interplay between human behaviour and the (built) environment, and therefore I have a special interest in architecture. The first year of my studies I found out that I was not only interested in the facades of buildings, but also what hides behind the front door. While I was exploring Glasgow, I inevitably entered the Kelvingrove Museum where I walked past the painting ‘Windows in the West’, which perfectly shows my sentiments towards the flats in the city: we all live together apart, and try to make the best of it.
As with almost every city, Scottish architecture differs from the Dutch. Whereas in the Netherlands, buildings are usually built with small bricks, here, in the West End for example, the Victorian houses consist of large chunks of stone. But I found one of the most interesting features of Scottish building practices when I started doing fieldwork for my thesis. This involved posting leaflets in mailboxes to announce my presence in a neighbourhood. I was startled when I found out there are no mailboxes on the outside of closes. Of course, later I discovered that you actually have to enter the close to post anything. This raised some questions, since one entrance to a close had a sign saying not to let in any strangers. The placing of mailboxes outside might decrease the risk of unwanted guests entering.
Apart from the appearance of the buildings, the housing policies and housing stock of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands differ significantly. Whereas in the Netherlands, the social housing stock comprises the majority of the housing market, the contrary is the case in the United Kingdom. The Netherlands is actively trying to decrease the share of social housing. Bearing this in mind, it struck me that the Guardian devoted on the 23rd of September a 15 page long special in their paper to the promotion of social housing. It is strange that both the promotion and decrease of social housing seem to have the same outcome or at least imply that that is their purpose: improved social cohesion.
How can the decrease or increase of social housing improve social cohesion? The idea is that more mixed communities in social, economic, cultural and ethnic terms is fruitful ground for more tolerance from every angle. In short, homogenous neighbourhoods are something that should be avoided. Apart from the fact that mixing could create tolerance, some people argue that different social groups can learn from each other and make bridging social bonds which can help people to advance further in life.
The question is of course if this is actually the case. There is evidence that mixing creates more tolerance and may result in some mirrored behaviour, but other research points out that it tears up local communities when, in the Netherlands for example, social housing is replaced by private rental or owner-occupied housing. The flipside is that deprived areas know a lot of problems, and that interventions have to be made somehow. Whether social mixing is the one and only solution has to be discussed. One of my respondents in the Netherlands said: ‘What if you had done nothing?’. Indeed, a lot of times in these restructured or regenerated neighbourhoods the situation is improved in quantified terms. But often this also means that the ‘problem’ has moved to other or more peripheral areas.
Avril Paton – Windows in the West
Currently in Kelvingrove Museum
By Rosa de Jong
Review Jamie xx, O2 Academy, 17.10.15
Entering Jamie xx’s sold-out show at the O2 Academy on Saturday – part of his European-wide ‘In Colour’ tour – one is unsure what to expect from him. Will he be performing a live show or a DJ set? Will he be showcasing only his own material or also that of others? The Young Turks label head – real name Jamie Smith – appears as an enigmatic figure in the world of electronic music. He finds himself positioned somewhere in the middle-ground that separates the scene’s proudly underground artists – those who are firmly immersed in club culture and care not for global fame – from those who have embraced the mainstream and adjusted their sound accordingly to appeal to a wider audience. Despite sharing both similarities and differences with both sides of this spectrum, Smith’s work is neither representative of the average underground club DJ nor the average EDM act.
Regardless of this, his musical talent is undisputed. A string of solid EP releases, a critically acclaimed rework of the music of Gil-Scott Heron, and two masterfully atmospheric albums with indie band The xx all culminated in June when he oversaw the release of his first full length solo album, ‘In Colour’. The album was received positively although failed to encapsulate his full capabilities as a producer.
Revered selector and local favourite Spencer is on warm-up duties tonight. It is a surprisingly dreary two hour set from the Numbers label co-founder and one that only really comes to fruition in the last fifteen minutes or so when two upbeat, old-school New York house numbers are preceded by Italo-disco classic ‘Take a Chance’ by Mr Flaggio. Finally, Smith takes to the stage, to rapturous applause, and the sounds of his steel-drum laden ‘All Under One Roof Raving’ slowly filling the venue. Sample-heavy and paying homage to 90s rave culture: both the tempo and mood of this track are ideal for the opener and get the crowd moving accordingly.
Sadly, the tone and the quality of music takes a turn for the worse shortly after this. Some mundane piano house is followed by a couple of big-room tracks – fitting for the inappropriately oversized venue – that comes complete with EDM-esque crescendos and an overblown light show. As if attempting to steer his set away from the mainstream EDM road it is now heading down, Smith drops two ‘90s UK Garage tracks in quick succession. The latter, ‘138 Trek’ by DJ Zinc, ought to throw him a lifeline but the venue’s sound system allows for only a fraction of the song’s euphoric nature to be captured. The remainder of the set seems to be filled with Smith to-ing and fro-ing between mainstream crowd-pleasing tracks and throwing in something with a degree of obscurity to illustrate the depth of his musical knowledge. For someone endowed with such a degree of musical ability, the overall performance is distinctly off the mark. It gives the impression of someone who is not at ease in his current state of limbo between underground and mainstream and it appears his live performances could be taking a hit as a result.
By Michael Lawson
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon in November, we are invited to Barrientos’ Studio on Union Street in Glasgow. Behind a mysterious door with a sign saying ‘Illyus’, we find ourselves in a cosy studio. It feels like a time capsule: sound-proofed from the on-goings of the outside world and with dimmed lights that blur the concepts of night and day. One of the walls is lined with synthesizers and opposite stands a large computer screen. Over a large mixing table, a couple of his vinyl EPs hang on the wall. We sit back in a comfy leather sofa and Barrientos shoots us a relaxed smile from behind the coffee table.
Barrientos is not like any DJ we have met before. When we ask him about his life at the moment, his first complaint is not having a bigger kitchen.
We laugh at the breaking of gendered roles and our prejudice that Scottish people only eat ready-meals and take-out food.
Barrientos has an unusual background for a DJ. He grew up in Glasgow, with an English father and Chilean mother, and fell into classical music at an early stage in life.
The gap between classical and dance music may seem distant, but Barrientos’ musical development began in his early teens, when visiting the music festival Rockness:
From that day, Barrientos knew that he wanted to DJ, but his parents thought he needed something safe to fall back on.
Even though Barrientos has been a DJ for ten years, he has still managed to finish an engineering degree, a medical master and now he is in the middle of a PhD.
It certainly has been a long journey for Barrientos. His first gig took place in the basement of Nice’n’Sleazy’s, and after that, it was a steep learning curve. He never had anyone tell him how something is done, so he had to learn to use all the computer software himself, by reading magazines and watching tutorials on Youtube. After a while, he made more contacts and the ball started rolling. Rob Etherson from the duo Mia Dora listened to his tunes and gave Barrientos constructive feedback. Blogger Colin Brownbill of SynthGlasgow loved his music and promoted Barrientos on his blog. Finally, Mylo’s former manager Kevin McKay heard his mixtape for SynthGlasgow and offered him to remix Romanthony.
Today Barrientos has reached international acclaim with tours to London, Ibiza and Austria, but he still loves the Glasgow scene.
It is difficult not to like Barrientos. He is an extremely talented, but humble person. When he talks about his music, he stresses that it is not about him but about the crowd. Just like his first experience of dance music at Rockness, his music has always contained a social element.
We tell him it must be difficult to stay grounded after playing to crowds of 7000 people.
Barrientos’ has recently thought more and more about what direction his music should take, which has resulted in some major changes.
Next year is packed with amazing new releases that you won’t want to miss with singles on Suara Records, Toolroom Records, and Glasgow Underground, plus a compilation CD called Toolroom Live 04 with Technasia and Ramiro Lopez.
A strong ‘80s-style diva voice emanates from the speakers as Barrientos plays us one of his latest tracks. It is clear that he has put a lot of work into it. There are over 40 layers in the track and each sound is styled to perfection. We immediately find that we can’t sit still to this kind of music and start to long for a dance floor.
To be a successful DJ is more work than you can imagine. We begin to wonder if Barrientos ever feels like he wants to give up in the face of the competitive music scene.
Two hours have passed while we were in the studio and chatting to Barrientos. It feels like only ten minutes. As we exit the building and enter the depressing Glasgow rain, we look forward to the GUM Launch Party on December 4th at the Art School Assembly Hall. We can’t wait to let down our hair, dust off our dancing shoes and dance to the groovy tunes of Barrientos, our very own and much-loved Glasgow DJ.
Tickets to see Barrientos perform at the GUM Launch Party can be bought at:
By Sofia Linden and Saara Antikainen
In terms of fashion, the ‘60s continued until about 1975 when the Mary Quant mini-skirts and zip dresses relaxed into Flower Power’s flowing fabrics, long hair and hippie trails. Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Boots’ turned into The Mama’s and the Papa’s warble. Fashion and music have always enjoyed an effect on one another. Fashion has a way of emulating the glamour of a celebrity high life in the everyday person, when they dress up to go out on the weekend. However, the costume changes of ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn weren’t readily available to all, so there was still a hint of the ‘1950s wardrobe among folk – thick wool skirts, well-made but demure to the point of being monastic. The ‘50s may have swung in Elvis and rock’n’roll but it still held onto the notion that you were children until you became adults – and if this was the case in life – it was similarly so in fashion. Male or female, you moved from consciously childlike clothing to replicas of your parent’s wardrobe, and often, their way of life.
However, with the ‘1960s came the Pill and along with it: the idea that ‘the youth’ existed as separate from, and more often than not, opposite to the older generation. They were more than children, but they were not yet old. In Glasgow and other big cities across the UK, the new ‘youth’ began to decide and divide; depending on which new subculture they associated with.
Enter the ‘Mods’, those of scooter and Parker fame. If you were a mod, you’d likely wear a clean-cut suit with slicked back hair or a miniskirt, square-toe boots and sleek bob haircut. Your focus would be the fashion and music scene emerging at the time: soul, rhythm, blues and ska. On said scooter, you would be looking for a fight, probably with a Rocker.
Rocker men come clad in the leather necessities of their motor biking antics. Their hair was grown long and styled into a ‘pompadour’ (similar to Danny in Greece), their music choice was the rock’n’roll of the ‘1950s. Rocker women wore full skirts, bomber jackets and bright prints that were best if you were dancing to Eddie Cochran and Bo Diddley on a Saturday night. The hemlines were generally shorter – so were the tempers. Any chance for either group to come into conflict with the other seemed actively encouraged, with rallies ending in brutal riots, the weapons used ranging from fish hooks to flick knives and bike chains.
What about ‘60s fashion in Glasgow? If you were older you would still be living with the memories of the wartime ration book and your clothes were therefore a spend thrift patchwork of fifties and late forties style. If you were young, you would be drawn to the new commodity; affordable fashion. You would be more liberated than the previous generation – both sexually and financially – but the going was still tough and the playing was equally rough.
It is the year 1960, it’s Christmas Eve, the city is heaving with people. Alasdair Gray is teaching at the Art school and the infamous Barrowland’s Ballroom is re-opening after a fire two years earlier had destroyed it. You’re going because your parents would hate it. You’ve chosen your uniform and you’re dependant on the music genre of your vinyl record, playing in the background of your poorly lit flat. If lucky – your friend or boyfriend will pick you up on his scooter or motorbike and zip you over to Glasgow Green – but probably you’ll just end up walking or taking the last of the trams still rattling about the city. Choose your Brothel Creepers or your Mary Jane’s and let the fun, and the fight, begin…
By Nancy Hervy Bathurst
In Glasgow there is music pulsing through almost every café, pub, church and venue as well as along the streets connecting them. However, this broad range of venues might feel overwhelming, and it is easy to end up at the bigger and more well known stages like King Tut’s or Nice’n’Sleazy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going to a big venue, but if you feel like digging deeper into what Glasgow’s music scene has to offer, GUM has a few suggestions for you to start discovering.
The Hug and Pint
171 Great Western Rd
Still one of Glasgow’s newest music venues, The Hug and Pint has been successfully wrapping its arms around the local scene since June of this year. A quick step inside the place sets you on the top floor, where you’re immediately embraced by the warm woodworking that makes up the café and bar area. If their ever-revolving vegan menu or the craft beer does not impress you, step downstairs where you’ll be welcomed by sounds of local musicians and their playful banter. It doesn’t get more intimate than standing among the instruments waiting to be played on stage – so head over to The Hug and Pint for the friendliest of feels.
12 King’s Court
Tucked away in Glasgow’s Merchant City, Mono makes innovative use out of a section of an ex-railway station. Primarily a vegan café, the wide-open space fosters creativity through ample table space, arched ceilings, an in-house microbrewery and an expanding record store all under the same roof. The stage is quite roomy and plays host to not just music but film screenings, book readings, and poetry nights. Though music isn’t booked for every weeknight, the Monday-Thursday food and coffee deals make up for it. This cavernous venue is full of the happenings of a welcoming community and well worth the journey!
117 Bath St
Bath Street is home to the independent venue known as Bloc. With a stacked calendar spanning all genres, avoiding this venue is a task in itself. From open-mic nights, to community orchestras, to earth shattering metal bands and their mosh pits, to club nights almost every week, you’re doing something wrong if you’re not hanging around Bloc. Did we mention all their shows are free? That means all the more reason to try their next level pub food, which is too epic not to take a picture of. Just be sure to check their house rules listed on their website before making this venture!
The 13th Note
50-60 King St
Many bands have started their musical journeys in the dusky basement venue of The 13th Note. The venue is like a small dark cave, where the audience is close to the band since the stage is not elevated. This makes the 13th note a welcoming venue for up-and-coming bands. A wide variety of genres are presented, though they usually lean towards rock, metal and heavier tunes. Be sure to play some foozball upstairs and try the vegetarian food in the cozy ivy-covered pub. For emerging Glasgow bands this is one of your go-to places with affordable gigs almost any night of the week.
The Glad Café
1006A Pollokshaws Rd
Take a bus southwards to the eclectic Glad Café, a creative hub for music, poetry, art and film. Walk through the colourful cafe to find the door to the intimate venue, which offers acts ranging from experimental electronic to indie and folk. Although it’s located far from the West End, the vibrant atmosphere of the Glad Cafe makes up for the trip. We would recommend making an afternoon of it – try the locally roasted coffee and home-baked goods in the café, before migrating to the venue towards the evening. You are sure to find something to your liking in their diverse line-up.
100 Eastvale Pl
If you are tired of the usual snug pub venues then SWG3 will give you a unique and Berlin-esque music experience. Located in an old warehouse in the outskirts of the West End, SWG3 offers electronic DJs as well as alternative live acts. SWG3 is a non-profit creative community, and within the warehouse there is an art gallery and studio space for artists, designers and musicians. If you are in the mood the venue also hosts club nights and warehouse parties in their smaller room known as The Poetry Club. This is also where you will find events with spoken word, local DJ’s and emerging live bands. It’s probably the most exciting thing happening in a warehouse in Glasgow, and definitely one of the cooler venues available.
By Gina Pieracci and Lara Sindelar
My not so guilty pleasure is grabbing a coffee and a cake at a cosy café. Luckily, Glasgow provides me with a lot of specialty coffee bars. I fit perfectly into the group that by academia is named as creative or cognitive cultural class: highly educated and occupied with a creative or managerial job. They are – or I am – part of a wider process of gentrification: the upgrading of neighbourhoods in value and amenities through regeneration. Since I am exploring urban life, I recently developed an internal conflict. Inevitably I am more or less part of the ‘gentrifiers’, but I am also aware of the negative effects of this process. In this column, I will elaborate on this internal conflict.
Wherever you go in whatever city, you will find clues that lead you to areas that are showcases of the creative culture. Some cities try explicitly to attract people that are part of this development. If you believe Richard Florida, the creative class will lead the pack to a flourishing urban economy. Explaining this theory is beyond the scope of this column, so I will give a few examples of how the hipster culture can be recognised in Glasgow, and elaborate on its implications.
The creative class wants to distinguish itself. A lot of studies and theories around the concept of distinction exist, for example by Bourdieu. The most obvious ways in which distinction can be achieved, is in behaviour in general and in consumption patterns in particular. The places of consumption where this group in society likes to drink coffee or sip their beer can often be labelled with A-words: authentic, artisanal and artistic.
How do we distinguish the creative café from the ordinary bar? Often craftsmanship is highly valued in these places: the beer cafes have their own beer brand, and the coffee shops have a range of choices in coffee beans and specials. Your coffee is often finished with a nice figure in your milk foam, such as a leaf or a heart or even more complicated ones. Glasgow houses a lot of these kinds of places of consumption. On many occasions, to enjoy a coffee or a beer in those establishments is more about the spot than about a person’s knowledge about the products.
A city is obviously not hipster proof if it doesn’t host a specialty coffee festival. And that is what Glasgow has had over the last few years. The Glasgow Coffee Festival is dedicated to the celebration of the growing vibrant Scottish specialty coffee scene. The amount of adverbs is often a clue to creativity. The venue where this festival took place is indicative for the authentic component that is part of the hipster culture: the old Glasgow fish market. Bars and cafes readily adopt an industrial feel to their businesses, to add some authenticity to their brand. This sometimes clashes with the individuality that these establishments are trying to achieve, because in the end they all seem to look alike.
The problematic part of it all is the fact that cities and their governing bodies see the attraction of a creative class as a problem solving mechanism for a lot of societal problems. But it seems to deny the fact that society exists of a lot more groups than the creative, who deserve equal attention and amenities in every area. Amsterdam for example is so successful in attracting an affluent creative or middle class, that the inner city is becoming more and more expensive to live in for the average citizen. And London has also had an uprising against a ‘hipster café’. A process of displacement that leads towards a homogeneous population in certain neighbourhoods is taking place. And that is dangerous in a way, because some parts of the city are not perceived as accessible for every resident. Although I love my coffee, and Glasgow isn’t and may never end up the way Amsterdam has, it is good to be aware of your behavioural choices and how they influence urban life. Societal balance must not get lost.
By Rosa de Jong
How to become a local in Glasgow
When you move to another city, one of the first things you want to achieve is a feeling of home, and the idea of belonging to the place. Feeling at home has both a physical and a social component. A physical feeling of belonging refers to the ability of finding your way around your new hometown, and knowing little things, such as: where the best place is to park your car and getting used noise at various times of the day. The second component involves becoming socially embedded in your neighbourhood and town. This can include random encounters with your neighbours or developing strong ties with friends during various activities, such as sports recreation or cultural events. In this piece, I give you a few signs that you are becoming a local in Glasgow.
When you arrive in a new city, your mental map of the urban environment is filled with voids. If you flip through the Lonely Planet before a plane drops you in your soon-to-be hometown, you might only have a small notion of places you must visit and the only thing you know for certain is how to get from the airport to your new room. However, as you spend more and more time in the new city, your mental map evolves into a network of places, linked through various routes. You are able to go from A to B without constantly checking GoogleMaps. You find your favourite spaces, collect memories and know where it is safe to walk both day and night.
Hopefully, you don’t limit your experience of Scotland by only staying in Glasgow. Scotland’s nature is beautiful: the lochs, highlands and forests might surprise you with a glimpse of their hidden magic. There are new impressions to be found around every corner and there is never a dull moment. After an exhausting day, during which your hand got lame because you tried to take a snapshot of every single magnificent view, you finally head back. Suddenly, you cross the city’s borders, and surprise yourself by thinking: “almost home!”, as if this new city has become your new home.
So far, I have mainly written about the physical aspects of attachment to places. But experiences are not the same when you cannot share them with others. Of course, you can share your pictures and stories with others when you return to your home country, but that’s not the same as to experience something together with the ones you miss. To become socially embedded is maybe the hardest and most stressful part of moving country. Luckily, Glaswegians are very including and tend to care about the wellbeing of newcomers. So if you go to Glasgow, you will not have trouble finding a group of friends that you can live and laugh with during your stay. For me, Glasgow was a positive change from Amsterdam, where everybody stays in his or her own bubble and does not want to let anyone in.
However, to become a real Glaswegian local is difficult for an outsider. Mastering the Sco’ish accent is by far the hardest thing to do and the main characteristic with which people can distinguish you from a real Scotsman or Scotswoman. In Glasgow, I found that there is a double language barrier: the first is the English language, and the second is the Scots. But this is the least of your worries if you have come to feel at home. And life without challenges would be boring in the end.
By Rosa de Jong
Justin Kurzel’s ‘Macbeth’ is ferocious. The film has a lot to say and it says it with such insight and ferociousness that Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ – a work so famous its mere nickname has a dedicated Wikipedia page – is once again made unpredictable and raw.
The film is faithful to the Scottish Play from first to last, but this is no straightforward adaptation. The movie is beautifully interpretative and nuanced, not bending the original narrative, but rather taking the uncertainties and hints already present in the play and weaving them together into a compelling and persuasive modern take on a much-told story.
Macbeth, an 11th century nobleman, meets three witches who prophesize that he will become king of Scotland. Spurred on by his wife, Macbeth assassinates the current monarch, then crumbles under the psychological cost of murder.
But Shakespeare’s tragedy itself is full of ambiguity and open questions, not the least of which is the murder itself. The witches have proved themselves to be reliable, so it is certain that one day Macbeth will rule. Then why does he have a feeling of urgency to kill the king and ‘catch the nearest way’?
The film succeeds due to the visceral, emotionally stirring explanations that it offers. A brief line in the play alludes to Lady Macbeth having once had a child, and boldly, the movie begins with the funeral of the infant in question. Fassbender and Cotillard proceed to give powerful performances as a couple who still love one another, but are struggling to fill the emptiness that has arisen between them. There is a newfound poignancy in Lady Macbeth’s assertion that she feels ‘now the future in the instant’. These are more than ruthless villains driven by ambition – they are people who can see no other future, and who are fighting for meaning in a life ‘signifying nothing’.
And then there is war, ravaging Scotland, and Macbeth the soldier, forced to kill. There are echoes of ‘Apocalypse Now’ in the film’s treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the way humans respond to violence. ‘I wept,’ says Colonel Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’. ‘I wanted to tear my teeth out… and then I realized… my God… the genius of it!’ A similar idea is palpable in the way Fassbender’s Macbeth is simultaneously wounded and enraptured by his own acts of brutality.
Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, like one of its most famous lines, is full of ‘sound and fury’. To this verbal and thematic intensity Kurzel adds striking cinematography and gorgeous visuals, noteworthy in and of themselves. This is, however, both a strong point and a problem. The movie overwhelms. The images complement the dialogue for the most part, but there are times when script and visuals distract from one another – and before one has time to consider either, the movie has moved on. The pacing is relentless, and there are no pauses either in the action, or in the tone. The drunken porter of the original play, telling jokes on stage to provide the audience with a welcome break, has been cut out completely.
Had the film let its images linger on screen for a little longer, been a little slower, it might have been less intellectually and emotionally exhausting. As it stands, it does not allow enough time for one to consider the ideas it puts forward, which is a shame, precisely because the insights it delivers are so worthy of consideration. Ultimately though, ‘Macbeth’ is a brutal, beautiful movie with a persuasive point of view, and two exceptionally good lead actors. Its atmosphere lingers, long after the final credits stop rolling.
By Lisa Feklistova