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
I was born in Chișinău, the capital of Europe’s poorest country, Moldova. Some of my favourite childhood memories are of exploring golden sunflower fields with my little sister during the hot summers, helping grandma cook plăcintă (the local cheese and dill-filled pastry) and eating everyone’s summer-fruit harvests on the rural farms of my mother’s side of the family. I grew up in England as my father is British and I was fortunate enough to have a happy and safe childhood with both my parents there. Unfortunately this is not the case for 1 in 5 of Moldova’s children who are affected by labour migration or the 7,000 children who live in state-run institutions today. The prison-like institutions are only a short-term solution to a much larger problem relating to an out-dated social reliance on state care. I believe that it is every child’s right to have a happy and safe childhood or at least the hope of a better future. Being raised in these two contrasting cultures has provided me with a unique perspective and instilled a strong belief that these challenges can be significantly improved through interdisciplinary and international partnership. This is where The Moldova Project (TMP) comes in.
TMP works with some of the most vulnerable children and low-income families in Moldova. In a country that is inherently corrupt with an average monthly salary of 4,200 Lei (£140), access to food, childhood education and healthcare is a luxury. The fight for affordable life-saving medicine is a global issue but for the majority of rural families in Moldova it is a matter of survival. The program offers children an escape from very difficult lives and offers parents sustainable solutions including family planning and employment guidance. Sponsorship money pays for medical aid and allows parents to receive the training they require to return to work, preventing their children from joining the lost generation who are left behind as people are forced to seek work in Russia and the EU. After I read about how the program also facilitates UK-based sponsorship to Moldovan children who require but can’t afford HIV medication, my research was done. I booked my flights to Moldova.
Each day, we entertained a classroom full of children with Christmas activities, face-painting, cinema trips and Moş Crăciun (Santa Claus) who delivered Christmas presents to a total of 303 children over the course of the project. The children, who are carefully selected from rural villages, orphanages and institutions have histories ranging from alcohol and drug-related abuse to abandonment at birth due to disability. It was heart-breaking to learn how children with minor limb abnormalities are denied access to national schooling and how more severe neurological disabilities occur as a result of preventable diseases such as syphilis or anaemia – endemic to Moldova affecting 1 in 3 pregnant women.
Towards the end of the trip we visited one of Chișinău’s baby orphanages, a stop which Becca, one of the regular volunteers who had been with the charity for several years, had been looking forward to the whole week. She was best friends with one of the little girls but was accepting of the fact that she had probably been forgotten. The kids know the Christmas visits are reliable but they are only a day long and it had been a year. As we walked into the rooms lined with endless rows of cots, the little girl looked up and a smile spread across her face as she said “Becca!” in polite amazement. For children who have only a handful of happy memories, this tear-jerking moment alone illustrated the importance and long-lasting impact of our Christmas visits.
According to UNICEF-OHCHR, de-institutionalisation targets are being met, new pre-school facilities are being opened and the Law on the Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities was passed in 2012. These changes in the national legal framework are some of the essential steps required to remove the stigma surrounding disability, encourage further reforms in childcare and generate positive public dialogue on the reintegration of the disabled into society. Health sector improvements, such as sexual health campaigns in rural areas, are the greater challenges required to ensure child abandonment in Moldova is confined to the pages of history.
The program left me with a greater understanding of poverty and social change in developing countries, an insight into global public health issues and life-changing memories in a beautiful country that is desperately trying to expunge its darker ties to its former-USSR heritage. I can’t thank the managers, Emma, Lucy and Victoria of The Moldova Project enough for these memories and for the opportunity to work with some of the most kind and dedicated people I’ve ever met. The program organises summer building projects, winter Christmas projects and fundraising events all year round so there is something for everyone. University of Glasgow for Essential Medicines (UGEM) is looking forward to hosting TMP at Glasgow’s refreshers fair this Friday and fundraising ideas are already forming as we look forward to what 2016 will bring. What have you got planned for this summer?
The Moldova Project will be at the Refresher’s Fair next to the UGEM stall at Qudos in the QMU from 10 – 4pm this Friday.
By Joanna Ashby
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.
- I love to cook! I never even allow my girlfriend into the kitchen. There is simply not room for two people in there.
We laugh at the breaking of gendered roles and our prejudice that Scottish people only eat ready-meals and take-out food.
- My mom is Chilean, so I have grown up with homemade food. My mom hates ready-meals. She scolds me and still asks ‘Are you buying ready meals?’ to make sure I’m eating healthy. Anyway, I can’t eat crap food otherwise I can’t concentrate.
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.
- When I was in high school, I played classical music, so I spent a lot of time learning piano and flute. I used to go to the music school, RSAMD, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. I was really into classical music.
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:
- A DJ called Erol Alkan was performing in a tiny tent, with 400-500 people. He was completely in control of the crowds. Everything he did the crowd appreciated. I had never seen anything like that before. It was very tribal and he was really into it. I got shivers watching it.
From that day, Barrientos knew that he wanted to DJ, but his parents thought he needed something safe to fall back on.
- I only wanted to do music, but my parents told me I couldn’t rely on music because it is an unstable career. At the time I didn’t want to hear that cause I had my mind made up, but my parents were just looking out for my best interest.
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 really freaks me out that it has already been 10 years since I started doing dance music. You need to be persistent. You need to know people. You can’t expect to have gigs if no one knows you. I always make sure I am nice to people so that they remember me as a nice person.
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 such a ridiculously good city. It has a really appreciative crowd. If you come to a gig and you are pretentious, you will get told. Dance music is a big community here too. DJs know each other: we support each other. People really like a good night and many DJs are coming to play in Glasgow because of that.
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.
- For me, writing music has always been for people, not for me. When you are having a club night, it is about people’s experience and their night. They appreciate your music and they are having a journey. I always try to remember that. I don’t want to be too self-indulgent with music.
We tell him it must be difficult to stay grounded after playing to crowds of 7000 people.
- I’ve got friends who I have been friends with for years now and they always bring you ‘back to the ground’. It’s so good to have honesty around you. Also, playing to larger crowds you can kind of play anything to certain extent. With a smaller audience, you can see more reactions and if they lose interest they will leave. If you are going to the right direction you can see them get into it, you see they are enjoying it and filming it with their phones. It is more personal. I like to stay to the end, shake hands with the audience and chat to people.
Barrientos’ has recently thought more and more about what direction his music should take, which has resulted in some major changes.
- You begin to realise the more you DJ and who you DJ with, the type of music that you like. I realised we weren’t playing our own music anymore. The music was going back to more like a European sound. But, it is difficult to change a sound entirely, so we have worked hard in the studio and slowly changed it. We have been writing so much. I am predominantly a writer: I write the music and Illyus is the head of production and styles the sounds. We are planning for next year at the moment cause it is not long left.
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.
- Music is still fun for me. The last year it has become more serious, which is good. Even if I never get to the stage of having a career or doing it full time, I will still do music. If not DJing, then in some other form. For example, I devoted so much time to play piano and when it stopped, the music did not. It just changed form.
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
Listening to Rhodes’ album ‘Wishes’, it’s fair to say that this is an introspective experience. The album takes you on a journey and it’s clear that this journey is meant to take place within- through all the suppressed memories, the subconscious emotions and the internal battlefields.
Tonight, a huge crowd gathers at King Tuts to see the man behind the music. The fact that it is a sold out show speaks volumes with regards to just how many people his music touches, and this becomes even more apparent as the atmosphere tightens the moment he sets foot onstage.
On his album, Rhodes sings and plays solo, but the ‘Wishes’ tour called for a four-piece band to support him. Despite this, Rhodes is able to maintain a stage presence as if it really were just him singing. Intimate would be a bit of an understatement, as it truly feels like Rhodes is singing to just one person and every person in the audience believes that it is them. His back up guys add that much more power to his performance and his voice rings clearer than it did on his album.
‘Breathe’ definitely stands out as it feels like it has the opposite effect of its intentions – rather than breathing evenly, it is as if Rhodes takes the breath out of the room. To say the least, he’s a captivating performer, who seems extremely comfortable in the spotlight. Yet every song is followed by a sultry ‘thank you’, with a rather shy tone – which is a bit surprising to hear after speaking to him for twenty minutes prior to the show when GUM got a chance to chat to Rhodes about getting in the right headspace, going solo, and his feelings about his debut album.
Glasgow University Magazine: How are you finding the tour?
Rhodes: It’s cool. I’m feeling it a bit now. I mean this tour has only been going for about just over a week. I know I’ve been talking like ‘oh the tour starts on Monday’, but really I’ve been touring for months. But it’s great, it just feels like every night it’s getting a little bit closer to where I want it to be and that kind of thing.
GUM: And where do you want it to be?
Rhodes: Just with the band and stuff like that, because I spent a lot of time playing on my own, just with a guitar. In my head I kind of have this vision of how I wanted it to sound. I’ve kind of created that within the production on the album and it’s about translating that to the live setting.
GUM: Has it been a really long process trying to reconcile everybody?
Rhodes: Yeah, yeah it has. Finding the right people was quite hard and going through different people is kind of hard for me to do because I get really close to people and attached to the sentimental side of hanging out with someone. Suddenly you realize it might not be working musically, and that can be really difficult. But no, these guys are amazing and we’ve been working hard. It’s tight now. The guy [James Kenosha] who produced the album with me was at the show last night and he was so pleased. He’s like my second set of ears. Because obviously when I’m on stage I can’t tell how it sounds out front so it’s nice to have somebody there who probably knows the songs better than I do because he’s literally sat there, mixed it and gone through every take.
GUM: That’s one thing with venues too- artists can’t tell how they sound on stage versus when you’re in the audience. So what do you think of King Tut’s in terms of how you sound?
Rhodes: Yeah, I’ve never played here with a band, but I always really love playing here. I think the sound guys are so good. They seem like such veterans at what they do.
GUM: Do you have a favorite city that you’ve played so far?
Rhodes: I like a lot of different places. I haven’t done that much traveling before doing this. So traveling around Europe is amazing. I love going to Paris and Amsterdam is an amazing city to play in. It’s one of those places where I had a misconception of what it was going to be like before I went- and I went there and realized it wasn’t just druggies.
GUM: I know tonight’s been rushed, but do you have a pre-show routine that you get into or something to get you in the right headspace?
Rhodes: I think it’s really important to try and switch off and leave everything behind before going on stage. I think it’s really important to leave any worries or troubles or little things you’re thinking about in your mind. It’s hard to do anything when you’re preoccupied. So I’ll probably go back to my hotel room and just read my book for a bit and just chill out for a while. I do warm-ups on my voice and make sure I’m feeling good. I wasn’t naturally singing before and I’m still finding it a little hard. It’s really important that I’m on that particular thing for that hour I’m on stage and make sure that I’m completely. My mind starts wandering on to other things and it’s horrible.
GUM: The songs on ‘Wishes” are quite personal right?
Rhodes: They are very personal, yeah. I can’t really imagine any other way. I mean I don’t really write stories. It’s more about overcoming fears, family, friends and relationships that I’ve had-not just romantic ones but more people close to me drifting apart and growing up and leaving town- things like that. All of those things I think a lot about before I start to write. I was going through this time where I felt like things weren’t really going my way, and I felt to blame for that, like it was my fault. I had to just detach myself from the world I was living in because there was no other way of me finding out what I was really supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be because I was so caught up in this world. At the time I was playing bass in a band and just enjoying myself a bit too much. So I just detached myself and spent a lot of time on my own. I was working during the days and then writing at night- getting a lot of time to think about how I ended up where I was.
GUM: You were playing bass in another band- what was that like trying to break away from that and do your own thing?
Rhodes: It was tough because they were my best friends- they still are my best friends really. I felt like I was turning my back on them. I felt like I was letting them down and I think they were really upset. I think I dealt with it in the wrong way- my only way of really doing it was just by turning my phone off and being like ‘I just can’t face this’. So it wasn’t the best way of doing things.
GUM: Going back to your album, what was the hardest song for you to write?
Rhodes: I think ‘Breathe’ was probably one of the hardest songs to write because it’s about something so sensitive. I wrote it for a friend and it embodies the sentiment of what I was writing about when I wrote the album. It’s just that importance of being there for one another, helping people out, not being too afraid of asking other people to help you out if you need it. My friend had depression and it’s kind of hard to watch. I think the songs that I’ve written are very intentionally left open to interpretation. Some people get the actual meaning and some people apply their own meaning. I like that a lot. I’ve always liked that in music too. You know sometimes you’ll have a favorite song, and you’ll be singing along and you’ll know the words, and you’ll be like ‘oh I love this bit’ and then you read the lyrics and you realize you’ve been singing the wrong words. Music touches people in different ways and that’s the beauty of it. It’s subjective and you can take what you want. I think that’s very important. It’s not that I don’t like talking about the songs, but I prefer it when they’re just listened to- because that’s what they’re for.
GUM: Do you think that there’s a song that audiences love to hear the most from you?
Rhodes: People seem to like hearing ‘Breathe’ quite a lot. I always find it kind of hard at my gigs because everyone’s just so silent. To me I’m thinking, ‘are they enjoying it?’ Now I think they’re being silent in a good way. So it’s really hard for me to tell, but it varies from place to place- it’s quite strange.
GUM: Someone quoted you saying that ‘Close your eyes’ was a song about your own stage fright- is that right?
Rhodes: Yeah, it wasn’t so much stage fright- I didn’t have stage fright because I was always on stage. It was a fear I had of actually singing. I was so, so frightened of singing. I never even sung backing vocals. I still hate listening to myself. With the album I spent so long- so, so long recording the vocals. I kept re-doing them because I wasn’t happy with them, and I’d have all these fits of rage, crying, and all this shit. And James went off and mixed them and he ended up using some of the first few takes on every song. It just goes back to not over thinking things. Sometimes you can try and be too perfect and that detracts from what people actually like about what you’re doing in the first place. I don’t listen to my own music. I mean sometimes. I had this thing when I started writing the songs- I was drinking quite a lot at the time. I don’t drink anymore when I’m touring- otherwise I lose my voice. I used to get drunk and listen to the songs, and smoke and that was my way of feeling comfortable, listening to what I was doing. I still find it so hard listening to my voice. ‘Close your eyes’- that phrase comes from when someone said to me, ‘think of where you feel the most comfortable singing- when you’re on that stage you just need to close your eyes and imagine lying on your bed, playing your own songs. That’s kind of the mechanism I started used to cope with that. But then I thought that that sentiment can apply to so many different things, any fear, any sort of troubles. I tried to broaden the lyrics so they weren’t all about me.
GUM: Do you try to constantly write or do you take time to sit down and write?
Rhodes: I like to sit down and finish things. The idea of writing on the road sounds appealing but it’s not easy because you’re just constantly doing something. When you’re in the van it’s just cramped and it’s weird. So I do need to be in the right headspace.
GUM: Do you have any artists that you’re dying to collaborate with in the future?
Rhodes: I’d love to collaborate with someone who’s a real classic, or someone who’s a real heritage singer. I’d love to work with the National, or Justin Vernon, or something like that.
By Gina Pieracci
In today’s lively LGBTQ+ community it can be easy to think that youth culture is primary representative of the movements’ ideals. However, Open Windows, screened by The Scottish Queer International Film Festival, challenges that assumption. This documentary, about four lesbian women in their seventies, challenges stereotypes and offers increased visibility to the older generation’s past and present experience. Although the film highlights a bygone era where terms like “lesbian” weren’t common, the message of the film is progressive. Overall, it is a call for the present LGBTQ+ movement to recognize the strides lesbians made in the past and to acknowledge those strides both in policymaking and in the community.
Preceding Open Windows, the short film Are We Being Served? was screened with LGBT Health and Wellbeing’s group, LGBT Age. This short film works very well as a way of culturally linking Scotland’s individual experience to the generational LGBTQ+ issues explored in the main feature.
Open Windows begins by following the narratives of Boti, Empar, Micheline and Jocelyne from their initial realizations of being different, to the trials of finding love as a lesbian, to the battle of feeling old versus looking old. Micheline and Jocelyne portray a dual experience of uncovering their own sexualities together. They fall in love at the ripe age of 69, an experience they insist is the cure for old age. Boti and Empar, on the other hand, approach the issue of aging by addressing the mental process of paying attention to one’s sexual desires and acknowledging them regardless of age. However, the film ultimately turns towards the women’s defining experiences with activism to emphasize the need for lesbian visibility.
As part of a generation that defined the LGBTQ+ movement, the four women in Open Windows represent voices that cannot be ignored. The film gives a final message that not only do personal narratives increase understanding of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, but that communication between the old and young members of this group is absolutely vital.
Reviewed by Gina Pieracci
The history behind Hinduism’s happiest festival and how it is celebrated right here in the west end of Glasgow
Every year our Hindu community illuminate Glasgow as they unite and celebrate Diwali, Hinduism’s biggest and brightest festival. In previous years, Diwali celebrations have been nothing short of spectacular. From fire jugglers and fireworks to traditional Indian dancing and storytelling, Diwali immerses Glasgow in vibrancy and excitement. Diwali is known as the Festival of Light and represents the start of the Hindu New Year.
Diwali literally translates to ‘row of lights’. It lasts for five days with the leading festivities taking place on the third day. Diwali commences on the thirteenth day of the dark half of the lunar month, Ashvina, and ends on the second day of the light half of Karttika. This corresponds to one of the main themes represented by Diwali, the transition from darkness to light where darkness signifies ignorance and light signifies knowledge.
The similar theme of good triumphing over evil also holds great importance during Diwali, emanating a joyous atmosphere throughout the celebrations. This past year, the third day of Diwali was celebrated on October 23rd.
The festival of Diwali has a vast and vibrant history and its origin is rooted in Hindu mythology. One of the most memorable reasons for celebrating Diwali is in commemoration of the Ramayana. This historical tale honours RamaChandra, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his Kingdom of Ayodhya with his wife, Sita, after fourteen years of exile in the jungle. During this time he fought and won the battle against the demon king Ravana, who had kidnapped Rama’s wife.
At home, Hindu families irradiate each room with candles and lanterns and enjoy firework displays as the light symbolizes Rama’s victory over the evil Ravana. Bathing the home in light is said to dispel anger and ignorance, and more importantly, glorify the divine light of God.
Another prominent aspect of Diwali is the worshipping of goddess Lakshmi. She is the female counterpart of Lord Vishnu and is known as the female energy of the Supreme Being. As well as embodying beauty and purity, Goddess Lakshmi also means ‘Good Luck’ so is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. Hindus leave the windows and doors of their homes open so that Lakshmi is able to enter. Rangoli patterns are also drawn on the floor near the entrance of homes. Rangoli is a type of folk art from India created from coloured rice, coloured sand and dry flour. The most popular Rangoli pattern of Diwali is the lotus flower. This is because images of Lakshmi traditionally show her either holding a lotus or sitting on one and so this particular Rangoli design is said to encourage the goddess to enter the home and bring good luck for the New Year.
With Diwali marking the Hindu New Year, the day is viewed as a fresh start. It is traditional to clean the house and exchange gifts between family and friends. It is also auspicious to buy silver jewellery for the women of the house. Although the meanings of Diwali, its symbols and rituals, and the reasons for celebration are innumerable, this day always remains a joyous one for those celebrating. The Hindu Temple in Glasgow, located at La Belle Place, was the hub of excitement for the Glasgow Indian Community this Diwali.
Families of all generations, students from India and visitors gathered at the temple to celebrate this auspicious occasion. Divas (clay oil lamps) were lit by everyone and allowed us to remember and reflect on the purpose of this festival. Grand offerings of sweet delicacies were also placed before the Gods.
The priest then invited all devotees to worship the Divine Goddess Lakshmi to achieve blessings of wealth and prosperity. The atmosphere throughout was one of joy and happiness as families, friends and strangers greeted one another. The Diwali celebrations spilled into the night with a spectacular fireworks display in Kelvingrove Park, enabling all participants to commemorate their faith openly with pride and joy.
During the lead-up to Diwali, all Glasgow schools are invited to visit the Hindu Temple and participate in what can only be described as an Extravagant Diwali Workshop. Female pupils dress up in saris, bangles and bindis while male pupils learn the art of turban dressing. There are yoga sessions and Bollywood dance lessons, with teachers joining in the fun. The pupils can also visit the worship area where the priest presents a basic knowledge of the Hindu religion coupled with a brief definition of what the deities represent; allowing students to learn about Hinduism and the significance of Diwali.
The Hindu temple opens its doors to visitors all year round, encouraging people of all faiths to enjoy the festivals and celebrations of Hinduism. Without the community of Glasgow, the unity and joy that echoed throughout the temple this Diwali would not have been possible so thank you to all who celebrated.
Submotion Orchestra are a seven-piece band, with soulful vocals and smooth jazz solos, however, they contain a surprising element — dub.
At 8:50pm on the 7th of November, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut was buzzing with excitement.
Submotion Orchestra, an outfit hailing from Leeds, started their tour of their third album, Alium, at King Tut’s. There was definitely a sense of anticipation in the air. The band came on with lead singer, Ruby Wood, entering last. Her sensuous vocals reverberated through the room, and suddenly, the floor began to vibrate with a deep, smooth throbbing.
Electronica is a typically unconventional pairing with jazz and soul. The band says on their website that their sound is a ‘fusion of bass heavy electronica, jazz and soul’.
Since their first album (Fragments, 2009) their music has followed this unique amalgamation of sounds, gathering a large crowd following with tracks such as ‘Finest Hour’ and ‘Blind Spot’. During the performance, the band plays their much-loved song ‘All Yours’, to which the crowd sings back. Ruby’s vocals were engaging and she regularly checked up with the crowd and kept the energy high.
They also played a variety of songs from Alium, including the energising ‘Trust/Lust’ and the mellow ‘City Lights’. Their sound did not deviate so much from their other albums—during an interview I conducted with Tommy Evans, the drummer, he stated that it was more ‘an extension’ of their last album.
The band made sure to include many jazz solos in their live performance. Bobby Beddoe regularly blew every fibre of his being into his trumpet, providing the audience with sleek and exuberant intervals. Tommy on the drums provided eye-watering, fast rhythms, occasionally having his own solo and leaving the crowd more than impressed. Despite being a relatively large band, throughout the performance they were tight and everything ran smoothly with the help of the band’s producer and engineer, Dom Ruckspin. There were a lot of synthetic tracks on the album, which added to the performance and enhanced the electronic element of the sound.
After their encore, the band politely wished the audience goodnight. I turned to my friend and we discussed the undoubtedly great performance that we had just witnessed.
Alium is out now.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, interstellar was this Autumn’s blockbuster. Involving intersecting themes of the importance of family ties, the struggle between nature and human control and love defying time, the film is ambitious in its content and form and won’t leave you indifferent.
Interstellar is set in a pre-apocalyptic era on earth where food is scarce and extreme changes in climate jeopardize humanity’s survival. Protagonist Cooper: loving father, and former space pilot, is enrolled to go on an interstellar adventure, having to leave his children behind, in search of a planet that can sustain life.
The film by Christopher Nolan was undoubtedly going to be discussed and controversial – Why? – Well, this is a Christopher Nolan film, and used to be Spielberg’s project before passing it on to Nolan. Just like any of his films, Nolan likes to deliver a definitive work of art, to play with the viewers’ mind and feelings, and to titillate the most skeptical of us – any memory of Inception’s final scene?
Interstellar created a real fuss in the distributors’ area with the option of viewing in six different formats: Digital, 4K Digital, IMAX, 35mm film, 70mm film, IMAX 70mm film (ordered by ascending quality). You, dear audience, will have the dilemma to choose which format to watch. Just like Gravity, Interstellar will suffer from a later screening in DVD or Blu Ray, so, try and see it on the big screen as it was intended to be!
I found the film brilliant, but not flawless. The opening statement is original: Earth is not hospitable. It is implied that mankind is the reason for this ecological disaster, but the real threat here is Earth itself.
‘Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here’, states Cooper. ‘We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt’.
If one of the subthemes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, was to wonder about ‘how far should man go’, Interstellar wonders about ‘how far could man go’. The implied statement here being that man is a pioneer, and explorer, and that there are no boundaries to the knowledge humans can acquire. Yet, the comparison with 2001 stops there. Kubrick’s film was more of a quiet book of images demanding high involvement to notice the connotations, while Interstellar is a popular entertainment aiming to inspire people with off-the-cart visual imagery and wordy monologues. The vastness of space has always been a vector of introspection. By being such a grandiose show, Interstellar could lack some individuality. Where movies such as Solaris (2002 remake by Steven Soderbergh) depend completely on its characters, Interstellar does not fully reconcile intimacy and greatness. It is interesting to notice that both films are cradled by Dylan Thomas’ poems. Coincidence? No, thank you, sir.
This slight lack of focus on the characters gives the impression of an unfinished performance by Matthew McConaughey. While a couple of scenes (no spoilers) truly take your breath away and make you want to cry out loud, McConaughey does not reach the grandiose he had in Dallas Buyers Club and Mud. McConaughey is a tremendous actor, his performance in Interstellar is solid and relevant, just not as fascinating as it could have been.
Some may argue that Nolan skims over some aspects of the script, especially in the last act of the film (which is unusual for a film that lasts 2 hours and 49 minutes). Fulfilling, tiresome, mind-blowing, non-credible, you name it. But do make your own opinion of it. We will still be talking about it months from now. In a film messing with our mind by talking about quantum mechanics, time-relativity and the fifth dimension, there was one simple message: love is the one thing that transcends time and space.
It’s an age where we’re supposedly concerned with healthy eating, everything in moderation and regular exercise. Channel 4 seems to delight in the many weight-obsessed shows such as Supersize versus Super skinny and Embarrassing Fat Bodies, which fascinate and repulse us in equal measure. So you would think that we would finally have gotten the balance right. Wrong.
I went for coffee with a friend recently, although ‘going for coffee’ is a term loosely used. I had a caramel latte and (note the pronoun) he had a protein shake. His hands were shaking, and I’m not an intimidating person – he later admitted to me that he was on fat-burning pills. Apparently this was one of the side effects.
It sounds surprising, and all the more so because said friend is a man. But actually, it’s not uncommon nowadays for men to become obsessed with their weight, to begin calorie counting and caring a little, a lot, or too much about what the mirror and scale are reflecting on any particular day. It seems that, as a society, we’re not good at seeing it as a problem, much less understanding it. And to make the situation all the more difficult to deal with, it seems to be much more of a taboo for a man – especially a hulking, heavily built man – to seek help. For many, it seems as if it’s not even in their vocabularies.
In this supposedly health-conscious society, ‘body dysmorphia’ is a term, which is easily, bandied about- it’s just not one we usually extend to large, muscular men. I have several female friends who have dated men like this, and who bemoan the time spent in the gym rather than with them and the obsessive eating habits. Worse, we used to laugh at the photos posted online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it), finding them utterly ridiculous. But imagine being in this situation – spending all your time, energy and money obsessing about your looks, body and weight, missing important events and avoiding certain foods and restaurant situations at all costs. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s something we associate with anorexia or bulimia. But there’s a new term for what is a sort of reversal of anorexia (although many of the signs are the same): muscle dysmorphia. The Internet even has a nickname for it: bigorexia.
The nickname may sound ridiculous but the effects are anything but. Muscle dysmorphia afflicts at least 10% of male bodybuilders, and they describe themselves as chronically anxious that they appear puny and weak – but it’s hard to obtain accurate statistics, given the fact that there are many who won’t admit to it. Harrison G. Pope Jr. MD. of the Maclean Psychiatric Research Leader in Belmont, Massachusetts has described Muscle Dysmorphia as a sort of anorexia nervosa reversal. He thinks that men are beginning to feel the effects of the idealised images society projects, and if you look at the changes these images have undergone; from (big but still attainable) body shapes such as James Dean and John Wayne to the ridiculously large body shapes of Rambo and the Terminator, it’s easy to see how this could be a growing problem.
As yet, there is a gaping hole in the fields of comprehensive studies and research into muscle dysmorphia. This also, unfortunately, means that help is rather limited. These are men who are pushing themselves with punishing workout regimes, sometimes in spite of injuries or other work and social commitments, and some report the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids in an attempt to get bigger. For most, the lengths these men go to are not only extreme, but also practically unimaginable. Edward ‘Spyk’ Gheur, a former Hollywood stuntman, used to consume 10,000 calories per day, and spent six hours per day, six times a week in the gym. Frankly, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
There are misconceptions abound here: that these men do not need help, or that they are simply vain. Reportedly, normal weightlifters admit to spending forty minutes per day thinking about body development. Men with bigorexia find their thoughts occupied by such concerns for five hours or more daily.
As a society, it is time that we realise that the images we project effect more than women. Everyone is vulnerable, whether the person in question is an 8-stone woman or a 16-stone man. When we look at the scales or in the mirror, just when are we ever going to get it right?
The Orange Walks and the Independence Referendum
There are only three certainties in Scotland this year; Death, taxes and the omnipresence of the Independence Referendum. Campaigners from both sides of the vote have tirelessly canvassed, debated, trolled, protested, donated and recruited in what is arguably the largest and most exciting event in recent Scottish history. Unfortunately, the debate on Scotland’s future could become a political bed-sheet waved right at an angry orange bull.
The rub lies in existing issues. For although the Orange Order may seem little more than silly hats, penny whistles and a slightly longer journey to work, religious differences have given it a violent side leading to frequent clashes with the police. As much as the majority of arrests – for drinking in public and antisocial behaviour- can be filed as the inevitable by-product of a large gathering of people on a sunny day in Glasgow, it remains impossible to disguise the link between Orange Order disorder and Sectarianism. ‘ScGlasgow’s East End in summer can be stunning, but it’s no place to nurse a hangover. Each weekend the early afternoon is filled with the whistles, drums and Sunday best suits of the Orange Order. Divisive, fiercely Protestant and strongly unionist, the Order is most active during the ‘marching season’, a series of walks primarily in Northern Ireland and the West of Scotland culminating on the 12th of July, the anniversary of William of Orange’s victory over James II way back when.
This year, the marches in Glasgow are juxtaposed against two major socio-political events – the Independence Referendum and the Commonwealth Games, each with the potential to exacerbate longstanding issues surrounding the parade. And as calls to close down the parades continue, could 2014 be the Order’s last tango on Clydeside?
otland’s Shame’ is a longstanding issue in its largest city, stemming from historic discrimination against Catholic immigrants. Today it is reflected in trouble between fans of the Old Firm clubs -the traditionally Protestant Rangers and Catholic Celtic – and their political allegiances; Celtic fans anti-fascist and pro-Palestine in the current Israel conflict, Rangers the opposite. With Celtic’s stadium and supporters pubs situated in the East End, the walks are tense affairs at best; at worst, this tension quickly gets nasty.
But how does this tie in with independence? Well, essentially, an already politically charged radical organisation (to put it lightly) involving itself with a huge, impassioned movement spells nothing but trouble. The warning signs are present. As expected, The Order has registered as an official supporter of the No Campaign, actively displaying this in brazen WordArt during marches. Their involvement, it seems, couldn’t be further from ‘compassion, peace and stability’: The official Better Together campaign has already publicly distanced itself from the Orangemen; Sam McCrory, widely suspected of plotting to murder senior IRA members, has voiced fears that the Order could disrupt the No campaign by alienating Catholics and centre-left Scots. When a star of Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men tells you to calm down, it’s obvious there’s a problem.
There’s more than the No Campaign’s reputation at risk. With their reputation for disruptive sectarianism ,the Order already face strong opposition within Glasgow – with a petition calling for their ban as ‘discriminatory supremacist Orange hate marches’ gathering over 4,500 signatures – and the IndyRef could trigger genuine conflict. Indeed, it is not far-fetched to speculate that fears of reactionary violence played a large part in Better Together’s choice to ostracise the Order.
It has been argued that the order are actually playing the classic antihero in the independence tragic-comedy, enfranchising ‘tens of thousands in housing schemes across the country’ who would previously never bothered to vote. Surely there is a better way of doing this than through an organisation built on religious discrimination? It seems more likely that the Order’s involvement in the independence campaign will cause greater unrest at the marches.
The Orange Walks and the Commonwealth Games
As the locals debate and speculate ahead of September the 18th, Glasgow City Council has been gearing up for the Commonwealth Games. Fronted by the ‘People Make Glasgow’ campaign in a bid to present a progressive and united city, government funded graffiti, Salmond Cycles and repainted shop-fronts have all emerged as part of an increasingly dubious regeneration programme. With less than a month to go ‘til the competitions start, the council will be understandably keen to avoid any negative publicity; the marches will be a major cause for concern, and it is likely there will be a heavier police presence in an attempt to deter troublemakers.
This creates problems in itself. Over-policing at the Orange Walk could leave the city appearing divided, its elected officials paranoid. Under policing could give the red tops a field day. It’s some conundrum, and GCC and Police Scotland will have to be spot on with their crowd control when the 12th of July comes around -even more so than previous years. And if the marchers fail to live up to the grand words on their anti-independence flyers, decisive action may have to be taken against them.
Since their conception, the Orange Parades have been a permanent bone of contention in Glasgow. Sympathisers see them as a way of expressing freedom, religious and political pride; others see a volatile and incendiary danger. This year as violence at parades continue, political tensions exacerbated by the IndyRef grow – and with the walks carrying strong potential to disrupt the squeaky-clean Commonwealth image – the bell could finally toll.
In an ideal world, the idea of university “Spotted” pages would be quite mundane, possibly even benign. A unique way to interact with your fellow students, I imagine it would foster a sense of community hitherto unknown on Facebook, full of bright, well-adjusted individuals poking light fun at other equally bright, well-adjusted individuals without fear of reprimand or causing offence. After all, the posts on these pages would all be in the name of good fun, and I doubt anybody would make complaints against something so obviously well-intentioned and inoffensive. No harm, no foul, right?
Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world – this fact made clear by the huge debate currently raging over the state of the “Spotted: Glasgow Uni Library” Facebook page. So what exactly is the problem?
After a brief hiatus around Christmas time last year, the infamous “Spotted” page recently resumed regular posting for the exam season. The admin staff had swelled to seven members, and the page’s popularity was higher than ever – roughly 10,500 likes, which, as frequently pointed out by the page admins themselves, is a significant proportion of Glasgow University’s 25,000 students. However, things quickly turned sour. Among the admittedly sketchy regular chat-up lines and solicitous remarks from wannabe Lotharios, some truly seedy and explicit content began to emerge. After outcry from students and the Isabella Elder Feminist Society, these posts were hastily removed and the admin staff cut down to the original two. However, the current admins of the page will admit to no sexism or foul conduct beyond possible revelation of identity, as they have said in a letter to the university, which can be found on the Isabella Elder Feminist Society Facebook page. Many contributors and followers of “Spotted”, as well as the admins themselves, seem to think that the charges raised against them are nothing more than the petty gripes of “moany feminists”, seeking to ruin their fun. When I spoke to one of the admins of the page, he told me they “are infamously an oversensitive school of thought who jump at the chance of possible offence to their gender”, and that the page had “no other intention than light hearted humour”.
And, well, I do believe that they had no consciously malicious intent when they started the page. By their own admission, they just wanted to “get in on the act” and jump on the bandwagon of similar pages hosted by students of other universities. However, their opinion of feminism reeks strongly of reactionary defensiveness, and, honestly, a complete ignorance of the way that oppression actually operates in our society.
At the end of this conversation I was asked not to “label [Spotted: Glasgow Uni Library] as sexist”, as though the term “sexist” were nothing more than an uncomfortable, embarrassing handle unfairly given to someone completely innocent, and undeserving of all suspicion. It’s a word nobody wants to hear, and which nobody wants to think about. But the truth is that we have to think about it. The truth is that people are sexist, that some actions are sexist. The truth is that each and every one of us participate in a sexist culture, and perform sexist actions, whether consciously or unconsciously, on purpose or not.
And let me be clear on one other thing: sexism is not a two-way street. It is true that prejudice against all genders exist, it is true that someone might hold a grudge against you, or demean you, just because you identify as a man. However this is not endemic to our culture. Misandry does not exist in the same way that misogyny does. A common way of defining oppression is “prejudice plus power”. Put simply, what this means in the context of our very own Spotted page is this: when an anonymous post such as “To the Hugh Jackman lookalike who always sits by the level 4 keyboards: get your claws out and rip my clothes off”, obviously aimed at a man, is posted, no one feels threatened. There’s very little precedence (note: not none) for men receiving such comments on a regular basis, or being made to feel ashamed for sexual comments aimed at them. The person this was aimed can probably take this as the humorous post it was intended to be, and leave it there. They may even feel flattered. The problem is that men seem to think women should take these comments in the same way, without realizing that women spend every day of their lives under a barrage of inappropriate comments, are groped, dismissed, harassed, catcalled, belittled – all because of their gender. One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. And we are all aware of this. The risks for men are much lower. Because of this, guys, I’m sorry, but no one is going to take your post about masturbating over a girl in the university library toilets – without her consent – as a compliment. It’s just another unwanted reminder that women are always being watched and assessed for their sexual availability, that they are not even safe in a learning environment – that they can never fully relax in a public place. If you think women should just “get over it” – congratulations, you have about the same empathetic capability as a small reptile.
If you think that I am exaggerating, I’ll direct your attention to this post, made in November of last year:
“To All of the Girls: Usually at this time of year you stop making an effort to look nice due to the increasing pressure of imminent exams and the constant onslaught of freshers’ cocks you have taken over the course of the first semester. But this year I am very glad to say that the overall standard has been consistent and incredibly high. I just wanted to mention my appreciation (and I’m sure I’m not alone here) of the eye candy that has helped me through the hard weeks of study so far this year and for the rest of the hard weeks to come!”
Please don’t try to dismiss this post as the exception to the rule. If it was the exception, it would be something to be laughed at, and dismissed. Instead, it is comments like these which are at the crux of this debate.
No matter how much the admins have tried to water down the content to avoid scandal and keep the page running, they cannot control the slew of misogynistic comments posted by their followers, who evidently don’t seem to care about their anonymity as much as the admins of the page think they should. Throughout the page, and especially on the “Spotted:Glasgow uni sexism” page set up to combat it, those who oppose distressing content are variously referred to as “moany feminists”, told to “ grow the fuck up and take the pole out your arse”, and exposed to callous “jokes” like “sorry I couldn’t reply sooner, had to shout at my mum to do the dishes then go beat my wife.” It would take some hefty denial and exhausting mental gymnastics to convince yourself that those concerned for the safety of their fellow students deserve such harassment, especially since the requests of the Isabella Elder Feminist Society have always been calm, reasoned, and more than willing to negotiate. In an email, they wrote “We are not necessarily against Spotted pages in general but feel that the Spotted Library page has repeatedly and consistently posted material that is of a particularly threatening and frightening nature…which isn’t acceptable.” That seems fair enough to me, unless, of course, you disagree that the nature of the posts are threatening or frightening at all. But hang on, didn’t I just showcase the amount of vitriol levelled at women (which “feminist” is clearly synonymous with) on a daily basis? “We don’t believe that people who are continually complicit in making female students feel unwelcome at this university are in any position to critique feminism”, wrote the IEFS secretary. “They only emphasize its need to exist.”
As I’ve said earlier in this piece, it’s not necessarily the concept of a “Spotted” page which is concerning. It’s the way the page has been handled, and the way it’s been used by its contributors, both anonymous and not, which point to a larger problem in student culture country-wide. The fact is that there are young men and women who are grossly misinformed of what constitutes sexism and harassment, who truly believe that they’re not hurting anyone, and that feminists are just oversensitive harpies spoiling the fun for everybody else. The fact is that there are people at this university who are willfully ignorant of the hurt they cause, refuse to educate themselves on even the most basic tenets of human decency, and would rather humiliate and silence anyone who dares call them out on it than even consider the fact that they may be in the wrong. Their education may have failed them as children, but they are now (supposedly) adults who can and should be critical of their own words and actions, and willing to learn rather than stick to childish instincts. This is a university after all, not a playground.
Words – Ruthie Kennedy
Sex, Death, and Sarah Lucas:
a short review of an exhibition’s preview.
Among the words most commonly used to describe Sarah Lucas’s practice is, probably, ‘shock’. Indeed, on attending the opening of the artist’s retrospective at the Tramway last week, shock was my initial reaction too – the problem is, I wasn’t really shocked for the expected reasons.
Lucas (b. 1962) is an artist who, emerging as one of the key figures of the Young British Artists group, gained significance in the 1990s and is now well known for critiquing many of the stereotypes around gender and sexuality through her provocative representations of the body. Yet, surrounded as my friends and I were by phallic representations, I did not once think of sex, of “masculine clichés,” or of the issue of cultural stereotyping. What was it then that shocked me? It was precisely the inability to be shocked, my very lack of feeling.
One way to explain this response would be to acknowledge that we are today experiencing a cultural moment very different from that of Lucas’s emergence, so sexual images cannot be as shocking. However, it seems to me that to argue this would be to enter the limitless conversation on whether problems such as sexism are indeed now resolved, of whether women and men are now treated as equals, and the list goes on. What is more, it was not that those who attended the opening (including myself) did not appear touched by the artist’s themes that I thought was problematic, but that we were actually enjoying ourselves. In light of this, Lucas’s gigantic masturbating hand (the first thing to catch your eye as you enter the gallery), endlessly moving up and down as it was, appeared to me to speak not about sex or masculinity, but of the situation of contemporary art; rather than a comment on wanking, it struck me as itself an artwank.
As Robert Heinlein noted in his Stranger in a Strange Land, more like love than like masturbation, art is an experience which prescribes two positions, the artist and the perceiver, and it is through the communication of the two that artworks have a life. In much of today’s art-viewing, however, engaging is of secondary importance; simply by being close to the art of some “known” artist, us visitors get to feel significant, complicated, intellectual – and nowhere is this self-pleasuring more apparent, than when a group of ‘artsy’ people stand drinking wine next to Lucas’s very blunt and very mastrurbating hand. So, although one could say that I am, here, focusing on the ‘sex’ part of the exhibition – for there was also a ‘death’ part, the two themes being separated by a diagonal wall in the middle of the gallery space – the way I see it, the two are not in juxtaposition. In point of fact, take away the pleasure and masturbation becomes all about death; it is no longer (pro)creative, it hints at nothingness.
To conclude, what I am trying to say is not that Lucas’s art is not about what it depicts but rather that, in her cynical approach, the artist can be seen at Tramway to also speak of the art world’s own exhaustion, and of its inability to give back what it takes from art.
Sarah Lucas’ retrospective is running at Tramway until 16 March 2014
Scottish actors Alan Cumming and Peter Capaldi have confirmed they are to take part in a new series of online art films which aims to unlock big ideas that have shaped art history.
‘Unlock Art’ is a collaboration between Tate and Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and offers the culturally curious a stimulating, imaginative and witty introduction to the world of art.
In Unlock Art: Bringing performance art to life – the first film in the series writer, comedian, actor and art enthusiast Frank Skinner explores Performance Art and its origins; from DADA and Surrealism through to Yoko Ono and Joseph Beuys. The film also explores how Performance Art has helped to challenge oppressive regimes, and how it makes us question the way we perceive the world around us.
This is the first of eight films which will be released on a monthly basis. Viewers will be taken on an engaging journey through various art movements and themes, from the history of the nude and humour in art, to Surrealism and Pop – offering the need-to-know facts, and making the arts more accessible to a wider audience.
Unlock Art is part of Le Méridien’s ongoing commitment to provide a new perspective on the hotel experience through a curated approach to culture. Its support of the Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund to benefit the Tate Collection, which is in its sixth consecutive year, enables Tate to buy work by emerging artists at Frieze
A team of volunteers are set to run a one day 15 hour charity festival in 5 venues across
Bath Street and Bath Lane in Glasgow city centre on Saturday October 5.
In 2012 the Oxjam We’re Skint, They’re Skinter volunteers delivered a Festival for a Fiver
in SWG3, Distill and The 78 Café Bar, this year the festival has moved to the city centre
and will take place in The Buff Club, The Buff Low Café, Flat 0/1, Lucky Seven Canteen and
Oxjam We’re Skint, They’re Skinter, part of Oxjam – Oxfam’s month-long music festival,
started in January 2012 when volunteer Founder Lindsey McGhie decided to run a local
music event for charity. The name, content and price of the event were all crowd-sourced
by the people who connected with the festival through social media and the festival
Building on the success of last year’s Festival for a Fiver, the 2nd annual even will see a
variety of stalls, acoustic singer/songwriters, an assortment of Scottish bands, an Oxfam
pop up shop, pop up barber, and a ‘never been done before’ After Party across Flat 0/1 and
Lucky Seven Canteen. The event will also see performances from Michael Cassidy, Vagabond
Poets, Mono Six, Mickey 9s, Galoshins, We Found Out, Ifoundation, Anna Shields, Darrell
Muldoon and many more talented Scottish musicians bringing together a variety of Glaswegian
sounds to help raise money to fight poverty across the globe. All musicians are donating their
performances to Oxfam.
The festival will be open from 12noon until 3am on Saturday October 5. It’s absolutely free
to everyone from 12noon-7pm, £5 for 12noon-11pm and £7 for 12noon-3am when tickets
are bought in advance from Ticket Scotland. There will also be limited tickets available at the box
office on the day.
GUM caught up with Kowton, the Bristol based, up and coming DJ/Producer who dominated the Mungo’s arena at Dimensions. His sound nods towards techno and house but like many great artists it is difficult to pigeon hole him and his set reflected his plethora of influences. Alongside Peverelist he is behind the Livity Sound a label; which holds wax in high regard and pushes limited, vinyl only releases. Despite being Bristol based, Kowton has strong ties to Glasgow, having played alongside Off Beat at La Cheetah and most notably his release ‘TFB’ on the All Caps Label.
What was the highlight of Dimensions for you?
Just playing there was amazing, each time was a highlight! Whether it was as Livity Sound, on the boat or at the Mungo’s stage on the Sunday, each set went really well. The amazing location adds so much to the atmosphere; I can’t imagine I’ll get to play anywhere as unique or intimidating as the moat for a little while.
Were there any downsides to Dimensions?
The food off site was horrendous every time we ate – I think a couple of people even got ill from it at one point. The Hessle crew maintained there was an amazing fish restaurant somewhere but we never found it.
How does playing at festivals differ from clubs- do you alter your set accordingly?
I think its important to be a bit more fun really, if there’s ever a time to be a bit more obvious and draw for the anthems its at a festival. Obviously you want to stay true to your sound but playing DJ tools to thousands of people can come across a bit dry at times.
Who did you enjoy seeing the most?
Scion and Tikiman was fantastic, I’m as much of a fanboy as everyone else when it comes to them. I thought everyone on the Hessle stage on Friday was sick, Funkineven smashed it, Anthony Naples killed it on the boat and Chris Farrell finished the Mungo’s stage perfectly.
The Subdub boat party was the highlight of my festival; did you manage to catch any boat parties yourself?
We did a little Idle Hands one with myself, Peverelist, Ron Morelli and Chris which was super fun. It had sold out but wasn’t rammed so there was plenty of space and the music was great throughout. From there we headed straight onto the Hessle boat and that was great too.
Do you reckon you’ll be back next year?
I hope so! Please book us again Simon, please…
Finally, what is your top festival tip?
Pedlo’s with water slides! I don’t really like slides or water but those were ace.
The Livity Compilation drops on the 14th October and you can catch Kowton alongside Peverelist and Asusu at the Livity Sound night at Sub Club on Friday 18th October.
– Lucy AB Molloy
After a 3 hour flight, 5 hour transfer and 10 bottles of water I finally arrived at the Dimensions site in Pula, Croatia. It was definitely worth the journey. The festival is split between an abandoned fort, a well-equipped campsite and a beautiful beach. It felt like paradise.
Asides from the reasonably priced ticket (£135) and beautiful location the real attraction of the festival was, of course, it’s line up. As I stared at the program, I’d never desired quite so much to be able to clone myself. Over the course of 4 days I saw the likes of Benji B, Daphni, MPortico Quartet, Mala and Kowton and that’s to name a few. It wasn’t just the acts that were of a high calibre, the sound systems and production were like no other. As I drifted from stage to moat to ballroom, I felt seriously spoilt. The diverse nature of the music policy meant that I never got bored.
As a new addition to this years festival, Dimensions kicked off with an opening concert set in a beautiful amphitheater just a short taxi or boat ride away from the site. Andrew Ashong began proceedings, followed by Portico Quartet, Mount Kimbie and finally Bonobo. It was a very relaxed affair and the perfect way to begin a week of madness.
This festival is truly designed for 24 hour party people. During the day there were beach parties, which provided a soundtrack for the sunbathers, and the music in the main arena lasted from 10pm-6am. Throughout the weekend there were a series of boat parties curated by labels such as Idle hands, and Eglo Records and NTS Radio. I boarded the Subdub boat, which featured Mungo’s Hifi, Brother Culture, Author and Iration Steppas. Those four hours were hands down the best part of the festival; the music was on point, and the atmosphere was amazing.
Whilst the boat may have been my highlight, it was closely followed by the hotly anticipated Three Chairs, a collective started by Moodyman, Theo Parrish and Rick Wilhite. On the Saturday night Marcellus Pitmann joined them in the Courtyard, where they went b2b for a record 9 and a half hours. The hype surrounding this crew was entirely justified and the crowd remained consistent throughout, dancing, chanting and drinking right through until 6am.
Another positive note to Dimensions was the clientele. With just a 5k capacity, the festival felt intimate and the atmosphere was incredibly chilled. At no point did I see fighting or aggressive behavior that is common at other festivals and the security and staff were pleasant. The only real downsides to the festival were the prices. Croatia is a relatively cheap country but the food and drinks prices on site were well above local rates. However it is possible to bring your own food and alcohol onto the campsite, so I would recommend stocking up at your local supermarket beforehand. There is also a token system instead of money which a lot of people complain about, but it didn’t really bother me – do note that you can’t change tokens back so its best to change a little at a time so you don’t end up with more than you need at the end.
So, if you’re a fan of techno, house, reggae and disco and you want a tan whilst listening to some of the world’s finest musicians look no further than Dimensions Festival.
-Lucy AB Molloy
We enjoyed this episode of VICE’s six part documentary series ‘Big Night Out’. As part of Noisey’s nationwide examination of nuanced music sub-cultures, intrepid explorer Clive Martin embarks on a brave journey into the pumping depths of Glasgow’s gabber scene. The episode documents Angerfist’s recent appearance at Make Do and the ensuing 200 BPM frenzy.
Having stunned audiences at the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival with a one man performance of King Lear maverick dramatist Wu Hsing-kuo and the Contemporary Legend Theatre returned to the capital this month to perform Franz Kafka’s iconic novella Metamorphosis. Gregor Samsa the travelling salesman awakens one day in horror as a giant insect and struggles to cope with his feelings of alienation from the rest of the world.
As with his portrayal of Lear, writer-actor-director Wu dresses the stage with his own blood, the sheer endurance displayed by the 60 year old during his extremely physical performance belies his deep commitment as an artist and his obsession with the author.
Crossing boundaries in all respects; the inclusion of multimedia elements pushes the limits of theatre, while the cross cultural exchange between the 20th century European text and Oriental spirituality alleviates and resolves much of the futility and hopelessness the original narrative evokes. Scripted entirely in Mandarin Wu’s haunting singing is accompanied by translated English subtitles. The simplicity of the spiritual aphorisms of the Mandarin script juxaposed with the complex physicality of Wu’s performance embodies the concept of Saṃsāra, cyclical existence caused by selfishness and the traps of modernity. Only by coming to terms with the absurdity of reality can Gregor escape. As Kafka says “There are only two choices in life. Be yourself or put up with reality.”
Kafka’s monstrous carnation of the beastly insect-man represents a conceptual portrait of Western psychodrama. His flickering antennae and scuttling legs are the Frankenstein collage of the 20th century crisis of consciousness, yet Wu’s finds redemption. After waking up cocooned in insect costume convulsing at the thought of himself he emerges enlightened in stripped, white form as his emancipated soul soars over the mountain, exiting the cycle in the mouth of a bird. The transformation is clear on stage, however the narrative seems to lack any outstanding climatic point until the drawn out ending of the performance.
The man-insect lives in woeful solitude in the confines of his bedroom while his hateful father and wailing mother and sister intermittently interrupt his melancholy self-searching by rapping loudly on the ominous door center stage. Repulsive to those around him, Gregor’s existence becomes that of a pariah. The stage focuses on the looming ice mountain where Wu writhes and squirms in his new arthropodic body as the astonishing visuals by Ethan Wang drape the deconstructed set with pulsating Rorschach blotches, falling Surrealist apples and a superimposed Kafka. The awesome visual beauty projection of visuals onto the set while Wu dances compellingly in Peking Opera style alongside a haunting score lulls the viewer into a psychotomimetic trance.
The production is 100 minutes long without interlude, the audience feels the crushing weight of Gregor’s condition on their own shoulders and so his eventual death comes as a relief, ending both his struggle against the futility of human existence and the viewer’s own desire for the final curtain to fall. While indeed the production does pose a challenge, Wu’s creation is undoubtedly mesmerising and contains a welcome element of hope and the chance of peace, something Kafka’s original text withholds.
Local grime heavyweights I Hate Fun bring Belfast producer Bloom to Glasgow for his first Scottish show this Saturday at St Jude’s. His staggering debut track Quartz shot the Irishman into critical acclaim last year and his arrival in Glasgow follows the release of his much anticipated Maze Temple EP on Visionist’s growing Lost Codes. Part of the new wave of grime producers and a beacon of unadulterated talent, Bloom pushes for progress in the genre, re-establishing to those in doubt that instrumental grime is still relevant and experimental.
Bloom will be playing with support from kindred spirit Inkke and the I Hate Fun residents in Saint Jude’s 11pm-3am.
This year’s Secret Garden Party saw the multi-media event taking over Mill Hill Field near Huntingdon for the tenth time since it’s launch in 2004, with a wealth of eye-boggling, mind expanding, gravity-defying stages and art installations spread across idyllic country fields. Despite its status as one of Britain’s must-go summer music festivals, music has always been secondary to the ethos of SGP with it’s wonderful mixture of family orientated entertainment, old-school yoga and meditation tents, and pure Dionysian hedonism.
The location of this annual fling is a highlight, with several installations remaining on the grounds of Abbots Ripton for the duration of the year. One such example is the 25 foot straw fox, dubbed The Urban Fox and standing since 2012, this year it was decked out in a native American headdress and feathers, bushy tail curving around the small mounds and hills that characterise the area. The Pirate Technics, a group of artists and engineers from across the UK, were responsible not only for our urban fox but also the ‘Middle of the Lake’ installation in SGP, which this year featured a wonderfully crafted ship being pulled under the placid glass surface of the lake by a giant kraken. The beauty of the Secret Garden Party is its ability to completely transport the individual, just an hour away from the busy metropolis of London the flags and lanterns of the festival are a sight for sore eyes, made all the more beautiful by the knowledge that after four short days- it will all be over. Such is the symbolic power of the lake installation, which on Saturday night was burned down amid a half-hour musically coordinated fireworks display. After bursting into flames amongst a cacophony of lights, colours, and classical music, the smoldering wreckage of the ship had many hundreds of festival-goers transfixed for long after the display finished.
The wealth of art installations at the Secret Garden Party are designed to be interactive, commissioned by Secret Arts and funded by grants via Secret Productions, it is an excellent platform for both emerging and established artists. ‘Lûz’ by London based Les Méchants was more blinding than eye-catching, a giant silver triangle standing tall and reflecting light back at anyone who dares look too long. The interest in this piece is that it is instantly transformed when entered, from outside the symbolic rectangle- lacking everything but the eye of providence- inside is a chasm of kaleidoscopic colour. Its mirrored interior reflects the geometric painted patterns making them appear infinite, a meditation on light and the subjective nature of sight, the colours of the installation change as you move around it revealing new geometric landscapes with every step.
Another favorite was the subtle Roborigami installation next to a bridge where the serene lake gives way to a gently splashing waterfall, the collaboration between artist and robotic scientist Coco Sata and Ad Spiers gives way to something a little bizarre and melancholic with the angular red and yellow sculptures seeming strangely at home amongst the flora and fauna. Deeper into the wooded area of the festival you come across the Labyrinth, through surrealist doorways and into a winding wooded path marked by disorientating signs such as ‘exit this way ↑↓’. If you stop to look hard enough you can even find a fireplace to crawl through, leading you into a small clearing decked out with lights and comfy sofas, a perfect place of refuge in the center of delightful confusion.
The contrast between the man made and the natural at the Secret Garden Party has always been a point of fascination, taking a naturally stunning location and molding it into a massive production which caters to thousands of people, while still retaining it’s ethereal beauty, is no easy feat. ‘The Temple’ by An-Architecture managed to do just this, combining natural materials with the landscape to create a functional platform for revelers to swim, walk, and climb to. Located in the middle of a small lake it rises like a natural refuge from the water, with its angular architecture creating new frames of reference to view the landscape from every new position. Just like the festival itself, this piece combines art and architecture, organic and synthetic, and is never experienced the same way twice.
Continuing on the thematic dualism between city/country, organic/synthetic is a piece by Tetsuro Nagata and Guy Woodhouse dubbed ‘Twilight Tweets’. Located in the Labyrinth these mechanized owl sculptures hang in groups high on the tree-trunks, seemingly dead during the day, at night they begin to transform and interact with passers by and with each other, moving like liberated cuckoos from a cuckoo clock and emitting a glowing blue light. If this is a subtle reference to social media these captivating sculptures unfurl their wings during the night onto which short films of the day’s revelry are projected, connecting hundreds of strangers who walk through the area to each other via a disorientating and beautiful array of looped videos.
If birds are your thing, then one sculpture shocked and delighted me. Standing inanely on a hill overlooking the main field a giant yellow sculpture of a character strangely reminiscent of The Muppet’s own Big Bird, who observes the scene through bleary eyes. Dubbed ‘Lucky Shit’ this strange concoction of humor, childhood memory, and wacky surrealism is so interactive that it poops yellow goo at an undisclosed moment in the festival, dousing whoever is underneath. Thought up by collective Hungry Castle, the towering sculpture plays on this year’s Superstition theme by giving a certain Gardener a lucky bird shit to remember.
The transformative quality of the Secret Garden Party is something to experience, from the first couple of days drenched in sunlight with people wandering around in absurd fancy dress, to the rain soaked Saturday night, things can change in an instant. After emerging from my tent in the North camp where I had sheltered from the rain, looking over to the main site I could see hoards of black silhouetted figures loping nimbly against green and blue back-lit trees, with lasers bursting from the stages onto the rain falling from the clouds. It seems that at SGP, everything can be turned into art.
Glasgow’s largest annual LGBT celebration will take place again this weekend as Glasgow Pride comes to town.
The festivities will begin with the annual parade around the city centre with Glasgow Green as the epicentre. Many attendees will be standing in solidarity with the international LGBT community in protest against Russia’s recent displays of homophobic atrocity. Pride in the Green is the place to be through the day providing the biggest entertainment in the form of Heather Small, with a variety of other stages and activities.
The weekend will also unify smaller student lead organisations pushing for equality in Glasgow. Local queer collectives TYCI Lock Up Your Daughters, Blitz are joining together with monthly gay night Birdcage for Alternative Pride Party with Floyd at Saint Judes on Saturday night.
Stand up and support equality this weekend!
The narrative is stripped back to the geological essentials, the film is as contained within the confines of the family car, the occasional leg-stretches through deserts and streams, but also rooted within the little tin space. There is little dialogue, and the dialogue that is present has the same sparsity as the Chilean landscape, it is barren and without the safety of a resolution, we as the audience are left to interpret the real reasons behind the holiday, and like the curious scrutiny of Lucia, we grab at the scraps of information as they are sporadically offered. Perhaps this lack of communication, this kind of withholding by the film, is reflective of the problems in the parent’s marriage. They communicate primarily with looks, shrugs, snubs, but very rarely words. Certainly, the very journey itself feels like it’s filmed with a chronological minuteness, with the mantra of naturalism strictly observed and the muted confinement in the car creating a vacuum of suspended activity. This is flared up ever further through the denial of a soundtrack, no big emotional plot arcs, and the final refusal to completely explain the divergent roads Ana and Fernando are taking.
It is completely unsurprising, and a testament to Sotomayor, that the children, Lucia and Manuel, were not given scripts, but rather were reacting to the situations the adult actors were creating. It is this raw energy, the irrepressibly uncertainty, of Lucia that really haunts the film; she is silently crying out for her parents to facilitate the safety of the next line, of the future. It is the uncertainty of the family dynamic changing during a divorce that often causes the most pain, the fear that happiness and security is now a thing that has driven past and can only be seen in the distance, obscured by a cloud of dust. Indeed, as viewers we are thrust into Lucia’s perspective of anxious uncertainty, seeing the narrative slowly evolving, the little snatches of comprehension and truth we can discern feeling like semi-precious stones glinting through the dusty silence of the Chilean landscape. The camerawork too reflects this stasis, with long, static shots in which the action almost seems incidental, the camera being so reactionless (or perhaps contemplative). We become so accustomed to this steady gaze that we really feel the movement the few times it does become handheld and uprooted.
Last night GUM headed down to O2 ABC to catch RDGLDGRN’s Glasgow debut on the first leg of their European Tour. Fair Fax Records’ hottest Hip-Hop signing garnered support from a small but enthusiastic crowd. Considering the quality of their music and their collaborations with the Legendary Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams, I was surprised that the venue wasn’t packed out. By the way this band is going, I suspect next time they hit town tickets will move faster than Usain Bolt.
The headliners took it upon themselves to come and chat to the crowd before they hit the stage and Red remarked they were ‘humbled to have the opportunity to tour and play to their fans, seeing as a couple of years ago they’d been unemployed jamming in their mom’s basement’. Working with Pharrell had been ‘an inspiring and easy process as they arranged the basics of track within just 25 minutes!’
The warm up was provided by Hector Biserk an unpretentious albeit unlikely combo of a bassist, drummer and MC who’s tracks ranged from angsty anti government ‘Police State’ to the relentlessly catchy ‘Let it go’. Think Jamie T x Rage Against the Machine coated in IRN BRU- you can catch them live at the West End Festival on the 8th of June.
By the time RDGLDGRN appeared everyone had drifted away from the bar and onto the dance floor. Their set was eclectic and energised. The lyrical dexterity of MC Green was intermixed with Gold’s rock infused bass and Red’s softer vocals with drums provided by ‘White Face’ (who’s name stems from a tongue in cheek, PC defying homage to Dave Grohl). They were totally comfortable on stage and it felt as if we were overlooking a jamming session in their backyard. There is something instantly likeable about RDGLDGRN and they would be ideal for a mid afternoon slot at a summer festival.
After the gig the guys were keen to see more of Glasgow, so we took them down to La Cheetah in the hope of giving them a taste of Nightwave’s new night ‘Nightrave’. Unfortunately it proved too popular by demand so we headed to Subculture, where Domenic spun quality techno until the early hours. They certainly enjoyed themselves and we can’t wait till they’re back in town. In the mean time You can check RDGLDGRN’S latest single ‘Million Fans’ here:
Words: Lucy Molloy
Photos: Matthew McAndrew: http://matthewmcandrew.com/?p=3123
Revision: making me feel like a moron since day.
Unfortunately with exam period looming- unless you’re hell bent on failing/ one of those people who get away with doing nothing there is just no avoiding it.
So whether you’re hauling ass to the library or cowering in the corner of your room struggling to read your own handwriting- this is the playlist that may just get you through.
Disclaimer: Not substitute for actual intelligence
*Warning- Spoiler Alert*
‘Springbreakers’ follows four college girls who long to escape the confines of their painting-by-numbers life and journey to the Mecca of hedonism that is Spring Break in Florida. They fund their trip by robbing a local diner and quickly realize that crime can make all their dreams come true. Once they get to Miami, all of their depraved fantasies come to life; pool parties, copious amounts of alcohol and drugs and glorious, sun drenched beaches. The film takes a dark turn when they meet an up and coming crime lord/rapper called Alien (James Franco) who leads them further down the slippery slope of crime.
‘Springbreakers’ shirks conventional storytelling to revel in the neon fantasy world created by Harmony Korine, and the viewer is treated to an explosion of colour and noise like a waterfall of skittles. Korine continues his focus on nihilistic communities that have been central to all his films, but takes an aesthetic left turn by replacing VHS home video visuals for glamorous HD slow motion photography. The result is stupefying. The overwhelming visuals follow the most basic of formulas: TITS,ASS, GUN, BLUNT, BLUNT, GUN. At first, the audience is completely titillated by the slow motion footage of parties but as these images continue and persist, they eventually erode the surface of the sun kissed, party utopia to reveal a vapid world of senseless violence.
Never before have so many bearded men in their mid-thirties cried from a combination of sheer joy and frustration. Picture the scene: it’s been 22 years since My Bloody Valentine’s last album, 1991’s hugely influential Loveless. Since then front man Kevin Shields has repeatedly waved the possibility of a follow-up in front of what must be the most patient fan base in the history of modern music; and then, out-of-the-blue, the band flippantly announce over Facebook that the new album is ready to order via their website. Now, MBV inspire a very particular type of diehard fan, the kind of dude that knows the exact combination of effect pedals used on the band’s whole back catalogue and is more than willing to share this information with you on Youtube. So, when the much anticipated album came to their attention, they flooded MBV’s website in their thousands causing it to crash until the very early hours of the morning – cue the tears.
GUM was delighted to be invited to Chillies West End, an exciting Indian located on Woodlands Road, to promote the new student deal they have just launched. The invitation coincided nicely with our new food and drink section, which seeks to promote affordable dining for all us broke foodies out there. The deal sees students walk out with 10% off all sit-in meals from Sunday to Thursday, and 10% off take-away throughout the week. A valid student card must be shown on order.
The starters offer a range of tastes and textures with a varied origin. The Desi Chilli Puri, the combination of spiced chickpeas on a crunchy pancake was well balanced with the tart mixed pickle. This was followed by two standout dishes, the house speciality of Charcoal lamb Chop, chargrilled with a warm heat cooked in a traditional tandoori oven. It is the chef’s own recipe which draws from North Indian cuisine that is characteristically more dry than the curries we normally associate with Indian here in the UK.
‘Django Unchained’ will be released in British cinemas on Friday the 18th of January but it has already stirred up a lot of controversy in America. The film follows recently freed slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) team up with the eloquent dentist cum bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) as they track down and free Django’s wife. Waltz turns in another dazzling performance, audience and director alike are wooed by his eccentric sense of humour which slightly overshadows Foxx, who, for the most part goes for more of a laconic tough guy caricature. The balance works well and helps Tarantino deal with the issue of slavery in smart ways as Schultz teaches Django how to read and shoot to further his emancipation. However it is DiCaprio who steals the show as the southern debonair, Monsieur Candie, who couples charming wit with sadomasochistic racism in a captivating performance. DiCaprio has been stifled in recent years as he constantly returned to psychologically disturbed roles in an attempt to pick up an Oscar that to this day eludes him, but he seems rejuvenated playing out of type as the Southern gothic villain with high energy and a dandy flair.
Quentin Tarantino has made a name for himself by taking forgotten, worn out relics and breathing new life into them. He salvaged the careers of John Travolta, Pam Grier, Robert Forster, David Caradine and put them back in front of the camera with a renewed hunger to lay down the performance of their careers (in the case of Travolta, he came up against fierce opposition with the Weinstein Company, almost jeopardizing the completion of Pulp Fiction). He took expired genres like the 70s Hong Kong revenge film, grind house and the ‘dirty dozen’ and charged them with his witty dialogue and vivid violence. The only misstep in ‘Django’ is the fact that the western genre has already been updated for modern audiences and once again exhausted by shows such as Deadwood, games like Red Dead Redemption, and films like Cowboys vs Aliens. So the awkward scrolling inter titles and long shoot-outs are a part of a ready-made style as opposed to one unique to Tarantino.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Ah to be this excited about Christmas once again. Snow. Trees. Lights. Santa. This is the joy of the Christmas season personified, in all it’s abundance, saturation, and sensory assaulting-ness.
2. Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
This film is major Hollywood mush, however that’s not necessarily a bad thing during the holidays. Following the Smith family, fronted by Judy Garland as lead sister Esther, through the seasons in turn-of-the-century St Louis, the Christmas portion of this Technicolor cheese-fest ranges from fully-fledged gaiety at the dance (Sub Club it ain’t) to the melancholic lullaby in this clip. Fueled by the fantasy of a nostalgic utopic society before the evils of the 20th century really got going, when put into context, this film can be seen as a conservative encouragement to Americans during WW2. Looking at it now, it’s undeniable that the overt naivety never really existed in an honest way, its manufactured nature is irrepressible. But when we watch it with this knowledge, it’s far easier to enjoy as a piece of familial and social fantasy, rather than something actually aiming to reflect reality.
3. A Christmas Carol (2009)
A story that has been idiomized into our consciousness through the countless re-imaginings of it, the 2009 motion-capture version of A Christmas Carol certainly has its flaws. However, it is unmatched in it’s opening panorama through the streets of Victorian London, presenting in the most Dickensian way all the socio-economic variation of society, from the Christmas Card stuffed windows of the middle classes, to the urchins and beggars, to a banquet brimming with seasonal excess. Although this scene is rooted in the tint of rose-washed Christmas pleasantries, it succeeds in its juxtaposition of poverty and decadence, illustrating the political consciousness that Dickens’ work is founded upon.
4. The Lion in Winter (1968)
Katharine Hepburn in this movie deserves nothing less than the word; wow. Henry II (Peter O’Toole) has allowed his imprisoned with Eleanor of Aquitaine (Hepburn) out to visit for Christmas and by gum is she going to do everything to attempt to overthrow him. Yes, it’s medieval times but the basic familial dysfunction is just as relevant today as it was back then. Ok, so maybe, you’re not all physically trying to stab your brothers, plotting to have your dad dethroned, or pitting your children against each other, but the politics of this film is basically a fancy allegory for saying that Christmas can be a tumultuous time for one and all. Just don’t cut each other please.
Ok, it’s that time of the year again. In December everything revolves around that one day that some guy wound up in a manger. Personally I love Christmas but I’m not a fan of Mariah Carey at the best of times, and despite avoiding most public places since mid-October I still can’t help but catch myself singing THAT chorus. At a loose end and with no friends within a 50 mile radius left to turn to, I did the only thing I could – begged London based, Kezokichi to rustle me up a techno remedy to blast those cloying ballads away.
Stephen Gyllenhaal’s new political comedy, Grassroots, hits cinemas at the perfect time. Based on ‘Zioncheck for President’, the memoirs of lead character Phil Campbell, it charts the progress of his friend Grant Cogswell; a young and inexperienced idealist with one ambition. He wants to bring social equality to Seattle by developing the city’s elegant monorail, with the help of some fervent students and a polar bear suit.
When Cogswell, an unemployed music critic, decides to run for a seat on the local council he encounters a range of problems. He is a single policy candidate with no political prowess, no funds, and only Campbell as his equally inexperienced campaign manager. GUM had the chance to speak to director Stephen Gyllenhaal, who reflected on his motivation in making the film. “I loved the idea of two white slacker dudes who had no business going into politics, and not only doing it, but trying to unseat the only African-American council member in Seattle. Everything about it seemed wrong”. Certainly, the fact that Cogswell specifically targets African American Richard McIver does not go unnoticed. While Joel David Moore’s Cogswell is sometimes too idealistic and too one-dimensional, Jason Biggs’ portrayal of Campbell shows the great emotional journey of a character who only agrees to help his friend because he was recently fired and is struggling to get off the sofa.
And it was just like the movies…
New Orleans, Nola, the big easy. You can call it what you will. In the end, this city is anything you want it to be. After a few gin fizzes I was ready to believe I had waltzed straight into the thirties. The rest is a spinning whirlpool of flashing lights, a French man, and hotel lobbies.
The city is built on stories. Unfortunately, the jazz is a myth. If you’re looking for music New Orleans has little to offer. But that was pushed to the back of my mind as soon as I found the casino. I wandered around for hours watching the dark, serious faces shoving bills into neon machines, the fat polo shirted men who could barely move their arm to pick up their winnings. It was all fun and games until I stopped to listen to the repetitive background music and began to notice the constant surveillance. So I moved on.
We caught an arts festival, this city is a constant source of entertainment. The gallery was full of waistcoats and expensive shoes. As I stood looking at a painting of the devil running down a street holding a bottle of liquor and a bag of money, a drunk fifty-looking woman stumbled toward me. ‘You can find him here honey’, she said, ‘he’s everywhere in this city’. She was right of course, but as long as you don’t outstay your welcome, it’s easy enough to avoid a serious encounter.
Later we joined the tail end of a marching band which had stopped the traffic, put on our blue shiny beads and headed off to a few bars… At the hostel the next morning, it was story time again. The Australians had ridden around town with the locals, taking pictures with a gun. The Belgians had snuck into a penthouse to watch the sunrise, performing for the security guard. The French had woken up in a parking lot at 9am trying to piece the night back together. And I sat wondering who had driven me home. I’m pretty sure he was Mexican.
The truth is, no one here could care less.
Words: Lucy Cheseldine
In the Winter 2012 issue of GUM, James Gaddis relates two anecdotes in what seems little more than an excuse to deride pornography. All under the guise of his concern for the demise of positive attitudes to sex, though he doesn’t indicate where this slide began – porn is as old as art, after all. I like pornography, in all its great variety, and as someone who’s also seen the music, mainstream film and computer games he’s enjoyed blamed for all sorts of social trends, I feel compelled to respond. Continue reading “Reply to James Gaddis article in GUM, issue 02”
Tucked down an alleyway just off the busy Shoreditch high street, The Hoxton Pony was the ideal venue for the launch of one of London’s finest 3 piece electro outfits Belleruche. By 7.30 the basement- which boasts a Funktion One soundsystem was packed out with mostly 20something hipsters cradling complimentary champagne. Whilst we were waiting the resident Dj kept everyone entertained with laid back house and techno.
When the band eventually took to the stage they were met with a warm reception, having yet to see Belleruche live I was intrigued to see what their performance would involve. There’s no other way of saying it, but the make-up of the group is weird. Picture a sultry female solo singer clad in a glitzy black dress, a geeky Dj glued to his synthesiser and a stereotypical bassist hidden behind a shaggy mop of hair. Undoubtedly a strange mix, but for some reason – much like a bloody mary – it just works. Continue reading “Belleruche True Thoughts Album Launch”
Words by Tom Clarke.
Thursday the 22nd of March saw the launch of a new club night at Sub Club. The name of the night is Rubix and the organisers are Joshua Plotnek, Abraham Parker-Clare, David Shields, Daniel Bartling, James Oglethorpe and Calum Lindsay. All are second year students at the university of Glasgow and this is there first ever night. Continue reading “Rubix Glasgow: A new night a Sub Club”
Since 2007 and their debut Album ‘Colour It In’, The Maccabees have come a long way from singing about wave machines and ‘Toothpaste Kisses’. Their third album ‘Given To The Wild’ was released on Wednesday the 9th of January and has proven evidence of the band’s observable maturing since their adolescent, harmless debut.
‘Given To The Wild’ entered the UK mid-week charts at #1 before debuting at #4 on the official weekend charts, the band’s highest ever placing album. With this record, there are remnants of the old Maccabees, there is an essence that holds this album and the last together however, with it’s bigger, more anthemic sound and subject matter – as well as the hype factor off the back of their last album obviously – it’s no wonder that this album is looking to propel them to new heights.
A Place to Bury Strangers, the current flag-bearers of American Noise, will be releasing their latest Ep Onward to the Wall this month (7th of February) on the record label Dead Oceans. With the release of this new extended player, a short 5-track explosion, a slightly new feel is noticeably present. Although not far removed from their trademark sound of surfy, grimy, feedback driven rock, the sound has been sculpted into something typically reckless, yet more mature, without losing its chaotic charm. There seems to be more control on the Ep’s five tracks with lead singer and song-writer Oliver Ackerman venturing up new and unexpected sonic avenues.
After 12 successful years at Mitchell Lane in the Glasgow city centre, it’s time for pan-Asian restaurant Bar Soba to take on the West End. GUM headed down to the launch party to check out this new addition to the already restaurant dense Byres Road. Situated just below University Avenue, at the site of what used to be cocktail bar The Blind Pig, Bar Soba is just around the corner from the university. With a trendy interior, drink promos and discounts, it is clear that Bar Soba seeks to appeal to the student crowd. Deals worth checking out is their 2 for 1 mains for students, Monday to Thursday before 5pm and the all day Sunday to Wednesday drinks promos which include Stoli, Beefeater, Havana and Jim Bean + mix at £2, a pint of Carling at £2 and Apple and Ginger Mojito at £3.
With the months and months of hype surrounding this film, it arguably removes the need for reviewers to harp on about how ‘you MUST go see it, now!’, but for what it’s worth, you must go see it…. Now.
If, like me, the book passed you by and you thought you’d wait until someone jumped in and digitised it (an English version anyway) to see what all the fuss was about, then I can assure you that, after watching this, you’ll get it. I also learned while eavesdropping on a gentleman conferring with his lady friend during the sticky floor shuffle we all partake it when exiting the theatre, that this so called ‘Hollywood’ version is surprisingly accurate to the novel. As mentioned previously, I haven’t read said novel so I can’t really comment, however I can assume that the overall premise is the same – adding to her own personal and financial problems, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a troubled and antisocial young computer hacker is called upon to assist recently smeared journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), in his search for the truth behind the disappearance of Harriet Vanger who went missing 40 years ago and is presumed dead. Their inquiries lead them further and further down the rabbit hole of the Vanger’s sinister and shrouded past, until they find themselves so far in that they aren’t permitted to turn back.
Here, a selection of our music contributors put forward what they consider to be the best musical offerings of 2011. But who are we to put them in order? So here they are, lined up as equals and open for your interpretation. Feel free to defend, argue or add your own favourites in the comment box below – Because there’s nothing quite as contentious as an end of year list…
[TRACK] NY Is Killing Me by Gil Scott Heron and Jamie xx from the album We’re New Here.
An outstanding rework album, We’re New Here exhibits new Electronic music’s capability to be confessional, injected with pathos, and still able to flood a dance floor with sub- bass and addictive manipulated vocal samples. Now a tribute to the late Gil Scott-Heron, this album is a template for minimalist perfection – affirming that the clock is ticking on populist Dubstep. Mixed seamlessly NY is Killing Me in particular is a credit to Jamie XX. With a drop that Skrillex’ ugly sound could only dream of, and a soul that exudes 1960s provenance; this is how Electronic music should be done (MJ).
[TRACK] Bed of Nails by Wild Beasts from the album Smother.
A hint of Twin Peaks about it, Wild Beast’s third release, Smother marks a move towards the ethereal. Bed of Nails exemplifies this new musical manifesto; smouldering lyrics, murky vocals and a haunting electronica pulse –part of a new breed (The Horrors, The Rapture, Outfit) in a sea of tired pop. Maybe Domino Records’ first great release since the mid-noughties’ indie alternative blitz (Franz Ferdinand, et al.) (MJ)
[ALBUM] Sam Baker’s Album by Samiyam.
This album was dropped back in June, all hazy and swaggering. Samiyam (AKA Sam Baker) created a collection of crisp instrumental hip-hop that was acutely delivered yet still deliciously woozy – as ready for the club as it was for chilling in your room half cut. With jazz influences, it is a welcome break from the other more bombastic trends in electronic music. As a whole, Sam Baker’s Album flows with an apparent effortlessness that makes it completely attractive. Also spectacular live back in November. (MD).
Probably meaningless, definitely biased.
1. Mainstream Dubstep. The word ‘Skrillex’ perhaps became the most divisive word of the year in music. Run of the mill chart music was infiltrated by bombastic, mutated versions of this genre, often with unexpected remixes (eg. Korn). For some, endless bass drops and grating wobbles are the thing of ecstasy, for others it causes a teeth grinding disdain ‘towards the watering down of an ‘underground’ scene’. It certainly brings out the Frasier in people.
2. More, more and more – MAXIMAL electronic music. Producer du jour Rustie rose to the top in 2011 as the figurehead of this attack on the boring. In his album ‘Glass Swords’, he brought intensely layered synths and crazed melodies, with every aspect being multiplied to the nth degree. This is the music of a coked-up Sonic the Hedgehog, it is pure hyperbole. Pitchfork of course wrote an immensely long, detailed, socially relevant piece on it but that makes it so much less fun.
3. High-pitched female vocal samples. The more twisted and obscure the better. Blawan’s ‘Getting Me Down’, Hudson Mowhawke with ‘Thunder Bay’, the list goes on and possible culminates with the mega-hyped ‘Ordinary Things’ by xxxy. It often gives a more sensual tone to tracks which without Brandy squealing over the top would be lacking in humanity and catchiness. However, it seems to always verge on the ridiculous and has it now gone as far as it can?
4. Folk saturation. Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, and about 3896 emerging new bands adhered to the formula of acoustic guitar, wistful lyrics and super twee image. Yes, it’s lovely and tame, but in the same way that you can’t really dislike a kitten. Enough.
‘Men were deceivers ever’, sings the ethereal voice of Claire Wallis sucking the audience into the world of STAG’s stunning production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. This modern take on Shakespeare’s adored classic, directed by student Joshua Payne, takes the story of love, lies and deceit to new levels.
We are thrust into a land of criminals and con-men led by the infamous Donna Pedro and Leonato. Don Pedro’s change of sex is an interesting alteration by Payne, but works well in giving the language of the play a greater degree of sexual tension. The pair, together, equate to the mafia of the business world. With an aura of power and cunningness oozing from their presence, especially from actress Harriet Bolwell (Donna Pedro), they decide to take on more than just the money – It is cupid’s turn to be fleeced. Fraud and lies work for business, and the pair use the same devices to concoct a loving match between the striking Benedick and Beatrice. This match, based on a web of lies, surprisingly works out for the better. The love of fellow characters Claudio and Hero, however, a love based on truth and real feelings ends disastrously with devastating humiliation for bride Hero, and agony for both. Hero, played by Isabel Otter-Barry Ross, is the perfect sobbing bride, accused of an adulterous act she did not commit. Deceit has once again played its part, this time under the control of the sexual deviant Josephine Pedro, Donna Pedro’s villainous sister. It becomes clear that not only are lies used to the business world outside this gang culture, members are also untruthful to each other. Every relationship is poisoned by deceit.
In this consciously upbeat dedication to ambient pop and acoustic, Jassy Earl takes us through some of her favourite current tunes that will definitely make you want to forget about that crappy Thursday and retreat to the woods…
[ONE] Ben Howard – The Wolves
It may seem an obvious choice but raving earlier over Ben Howard’s debut, I was astonished to be deafened by replies of “who?!” If you haven’t heard of him yet, it begs the question as to whether you’ve been tracking down polar bears in the Hebrides or have indeed lost your hearing after too many night on Sauchiehall Street. His album Every Kingdom is an intimate beach side jam and a layering of folk and mainstream pop; a showcase of raspy voice and magnificent guitar virtuosity. It’s a sound comparable to Jose Gonzalez’ and is definitely about and beyond the hyper-popular appeal of Ed Sheeran. There’s believability and a raw emotional loading. The Wolves itself is haunting and soulful amongst complicated guitar patterns and military drum beats; and empowering antherm that should be the top of your Most Played list.
[TWO] Lucy Rose – Middle of The Bed
After supporting Ben Howard on Tour, Lucy Rose is one to look out for. She finished her A-Levels, lent her vocals toBombay Bicycle’s ‘Flaws’ and has continued to follow in the footsteps of Laura Marling and Emmy the Great, who have spurned a new generation of female singer-songwriters. Beautiful lyrics, acoustic melodies and a subtle husky tone loaded with beautiful harmonies and simple storytelling lyrics makes the track a catchy one. It’s also worth checking out Don’t You Worry – more sombre, but still magnificent.
Vanishing Point returned to the Tramway with a show reminiscent of ‘Interiors’, their last production. Separated from the stage by a panel of glass, the audience survey the action as if they were looking into a block of flats. Privy to no character dialogue whatsoever, we only hear sounds such as the television set, a hoover and a guitar being strummed. In the two flats we are allowed to see, the muted actors perform in mime. Above the main point of action, an old woman sits in a small room for the entire performance watching a television in the dark. Beneath her a young couple give a display of their life.
No, not the oh so British establishment that reminds daft tourists to take their Malaria tablets on their gap year! There is no baldy William Hague here.
Foreign Office make music embedded deep in new wave and post punk with plenty of spiky guitars and addictive, funk rooted rhythms. The gig was a brisk romp through their catalogue which is heavy in memorable, poppy hooks and joyful synth stabs. Lyrically, Foreign Office seem to be constantly yearning – it’s all begging and pleases, something which seemed appropriate on the night – Please let there be more people, “I’m on my Hands and Knees, PLEASE”** The sparse audience however, were appreciative and eager to embrace what is importantly still a fairly unrecognised band.
But with a tour supporting Young Knives (a match made in heaven), Foreign Office are a band that are unlikely to be left on the art rock waste pile. Their remarkable similarity to the ever-popular Rapture – in their sound, look and influences – will probably be another aid to their career. It can’t then go unmentioned that The Rapture are playing the same venue a week later – it seems like the aesthetically-concerned SWG3 are pinning their colours to the wall in their recent venture into gigs. But, as un-riotous as this night was, it felt like a taste of what is to come from Foreign Office who hopefully after this tour will gain some well-deserved recognition.
**Have a look at their most recent single “Hands and Knees” here (hopefully the hilarious tenuous reference makes sense now..)
Words by Megan Donald
Photos by Jassy Earl
Contributor Alexandra Embiricos went down to Mono to listen to Glaswegian singer songwriter Andrea Marini and attempted to unpick his charmingly modest personality and hard work ethic.
Andrea Marini would appear to be more at home performing in a western than at Mono on a rainy Glasgow evening in September. But despite his name, inherited from his Italian father, Marini is disarmingly Scottish. What on stage sounds like Cash in one of his softer periods, becomes a charming Glaswegian chirp. Just in case there’s any doubt, when a musical admirer asks to buy him a drink, he takes whisky over water.
“I don’t feel like a really confident salesman, I made a sale earlier on- I’ve sold one.” He jokes, “we made it mostly in peoples living rooms, the clock wasn’t ticking so it was good for us” he says about the three year period it took to record the album, compromised completely of original songs.
“A lot of the time was just spent with the recordings, listening to them over and over, getting them right, and it’s a luxury that you have with a debut album. The most important part of the three years is that you make a lot of material and you cut it down. If you listen to the record it’s got quite a lot of space to it. I don’t think that it would have the space that it does if it weren’t for the lengthy period it was recorded over”.
On 25th September, contributor Tom Clarke lent his ear to the new boy of psychedelic odd ball pop.
This is the first night of Mockasin’s tour and it’s ramshackle, hilarious and utterly brilliant. It’s also his first headline tour ever, something that Connan marks out to the audience; “this is different, you’re listening to me”. Pretentions and hierarchies are thrown out the window when he asks if he can lower his mic stand off the stage and sing from within the crowd. His humbleness in front of the audience and the fact that he bridges the gap between them and himself, may give the impressions of shyness or a lack of confidence but these would be completely misplaced. Connan Mockasin does exactly what he wants and knows exactly what he is doing and as he glides through the nine song set that includes eight of the ten songs featured on his most recent album, ‘Please Turn Me into a Snat’. There is a wild energy running between him and his two band mates, who hang on his every movement, looking for indications and directions, when to change, when to speed up. Connan is obviously in charge and these songs have no set in stone layout. Connan Mockasin’s band is usually a five piece but tonight the missing band members are made up for by Mockasin by way of the crowd who he has singing and clapping at particular times to fit the songs and in effect produce a fourth or fifth instrument.
GUM checks out some of the plays at the 2011 edition of Arches Live. Read, enjoy and keep a look out for our next print issue for a story of a rather unusual theatre experience…
“Songs For A Stranger” by Nichola Scrutton
A soulless twenty minutes ended with half the audience standing unmoved and the other half covering their ears. When the applause came, it seemed more an appreciation of the vocal versatility the performers had just demonstrated, unrelated to the piece’s depth. The two females on the stage improvised to a soundtrack of multi-layered electronic music trying to create a song to reflect feeling like a stranger. The range of sounds they were able to make with their mouths and voices was remarkable, but it took a strong use of the imagination to escape the fact that all that faced us on the stage were two women making interpretive sounds and screams into two microphones. Had this piece been an improvised exploration of the theme in the rehearsal room, it would be hailed as brilliant. Had it been released on a CD it would have been labelled interesting and challenging. Yet as a performance it meant very little apart from sour ears.
Ease into the week with GUM’s fornightly playlist. September is creeping to it’s end and with October comes Official Autumn. But delay that extra wooly jumper and forgo the fervent beard-growing as GUM brings you tracks that will envelope you like a warm bath. If you’re always getting caught in the rain (but remain indifferent to pina coladas), have a listen and remind yourself it might never happen.
[ONE] Julia Holter emerges with ‘Tragedy’, her most recent album that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. In track ‘Try To Make Yourself A Work of Art’, a cacophonous blend of elegant melodies and white noise create an abstract, droning backdrop upon which her sparse vocal are laid. This is is the fine line between classical ambience and Dada-ist nightmare.
Get back into the swing of things as GUM lists the nightly musical events in September that just simply cannot be forgotten.
10pm – 3am
Subcity Radio entices you to the Sub Club with a range of their best DJs. Expect darkness and fun.
MHA’S 3rd BDAY: BOXCUTTER (live), COSMIN TRG, FALTY DL, YOUNG MONTANA (LIVE)
9pm – 7am
For Mount Heart Attack’s 3rd Birthday, city centre venue La Cheetah provides a spectacular line-up of stars from the world of techno and electronic music. Along with this, the night promises many thrilling extras including “4 total space babes, all dressed in the hottest outfits”….
9pm – 5am
THE GOAT then secret location…
Relatively new and always thoroughly inventive, Vitamins brings another event which is positively laden with expectation. If Eclair Fifi and Auntie Flo (amongst many others) are not enough to seduce you, then the thrilling air of uncertainty surely must be.
This is the first playlist for GUM online and it is going to aim high. After all, new year, new start. But for a while let’s ignore the looming stress of real life and allow GUM to bring you the antidote to reality. This collection of tunes is especially for all you new freshers out there – prime cuts that will have you dancing your innocent wee socks off and others that will gladly soothe you the day after. Welcome to Glasgow Uni and remember to forever gie it yaldae.
[ONE] Jamie XX can seem to do no wrong and perfects his particular breed of brooding dubstep night music in this mix for Fact Magazine. Expect emotional vocals upon elegant garage beats with glitchy, echoing interludes that are continually fascinating.
[TWO] Glasgow based producer Rustie has risen in popularity and respect over the past year and is now a definite high-flyer. This track is an invigorating introduction if you’re yet to be converted. Boundless inventiveness has led Rustie to making this true original with synth-heavy electro that will definitely charm your pants off.
[THREE] New York based band The Rapture have returned with their irresistible blend of punky dance rock – the indie disco God has clearly been hearing our prayers. House-like piano chords open this track and point the listener firmly in the direction of “NOW IS THE TIME TO PARTY”. Listen to this with glitter on your face and endless vodka-fuelled joy in your heart.
[FOUR] So no-one may actually know what is going on in Björk’s head but this first song from her soon to be released album goes some of the way in exploring her wildly artistic brain. Complex and delicate in it’s composition, the jury is out as to whether this track is sublimely relaxing or a bit disturbing. Either way, ‘Crystalline’ is fascinatingly beautiful and the video entrancing. One for the morning after.
[FIVE] Laura Marling this week released a new album of thoughtful ponderings set upon more complex orchestrations than just an acoustic guitar. Her folk leanings take a turn towards country with this single ‘Sophia’ which gently builds up into a rollicking, chirpy ballad. There’s hope on the horizon for everyone when listening to this.
BY HANNAH CURRIE
“ It’s a difficult bloody thing, managing bands,” says Jamie Webster, the boss of Glasgow indie label Instinctive Racoon, almost as soon as he sits down. Immediately I’m suspicious. Firstly, because managing a record label is to music lovers what cake testing is to gluttons -a dream come true. Secondly, because the tour diary I’d read in preparation for this interview is somewhat at odds with his solemnity: “The party went on into the small hours and a couple of the boys managed to snuggle up to some smoking hot babes,” The rest of the diary is chock-full with fun times and debauchery, plus unspeakable antics which apparently he can’t print “for legal reasons”. (Though, given Charlie Sheen’s recent transgressions, I’d suggest doing so might boost his popularity ten-fold).
The tour to which Webster is referring was with Three Blind Wolves during their support slot for Frightened Rabbit. Webster has nurtured the act from its early days as a solo project by Glasgow singer-songwriter Ross Clark – whom he spotted at an open mic night – to its current success as the latest signing by Communion, the coveted label founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons. The bands also won Best Live Act at the recent Scottish Alternative Music Awards and are currently on an extensive tour of the UK. It all sounds pretty positive- so why the long face?
“The first time we toured Three Blind Wolves in the UK we probably had one good show out of seven. We weren’t getting paid, it was costing us a lot of money, and the band were going out onstage and playing to a small handful of people. It can be soul-destroying”. Ah, fair enough then.
Frazer Graham – aka HaHaHa – is a DJ, music producer, self made label exec and all round good guy, whose relationship with Subcity Radio started three years ago when Frazer was a Business student at Glasgow Uni. His initial intrigue into the possibilities the station had to offer came after attending the Research Club parties with Benny Boom behind the decks (who, incidentally, recently enthused about Frazer on his Mixed Bizness blog<http://mixedbizness.co.uk/hahaha-1111-mixtape/>.) From helping out with visuals and putting forward production ideas, to joining this year’s Subcity events team, Frazer has quickly become a key part of the Subcity community.
Although his first live set as HaHaHa was only six months ago, Frazer has been making beats since November 2009, alongside his other projects which include drumming for acclaimed Glasweigan band Vendor Defendor and making musical bleeps under the Alpine Ski Champion name. Six months ago Frazer decided to give up everything non music in pursuit of making the music he loves- as he explains:
“Some people think I’m an idiot for dropping out of uni with only a few months to go [till finishing] but when it’s a choice of doing something you love or something you hate I choose poverty.”
Continue reading “Subcity Introduces…HaHaHa”
Glasgow University’s own Cut Filmmaking Network arranged one of their weekly activities on Tuesday (22/02/2011) in the Boyd Orr building. The network hosts workshops and projects’ nights every week, varying from prosthetics to camerawork.
This week, the network had invited Alasdair Roberts as their guest, a folk musician (based in Glasgow since 1995), to talk about his career, which has also included working on soundtracks for various short films. In the filmmaking scene, he is probably most well known for his work on the David Mackenzie film Young Adam (starring Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton) from 2003, for which he played guitar.
He told us that his focus turned to music when he was a teenager, around 15 years old and since then he has been involved in music in various ways, though his focus mainly being guitar and vocals. Folklore and traditional Gaelic melodies are something he is fascinated in and this is reflected directly in his music. He has never been taught in music but rather he learned by ear, which is how he still approaches music today. He listens to a lot of music to gain inspiration and always thinks about how he could incorporate fresh aspects into his own music and through this also develop himself as a musician. He has a distinctive style in his work but he still says there are no definite sources of inspiration for him rather that they change through time.
Inbetween their UK tour featuring a wee slot at King Tut’s, Mary Machin caught up with Rhydian Dafydd of Welsh outfit The Joy Formidable for a chat and insight into their creative mindset…
How’s 2011 treating you so far?
Rhydian: Pretty well, yeah. It’s all very early days but we’ve been itching to get on the road and get debuting tracks from The Big Roar live.
When it comes to playing something live for the first time, do you translate songs so their sound is varied from that of the record?
R: Yeah, absolutely, I think we do see the two as quite distant and it’s nice to challenge yourself and change things night to night. The live experience is something within itself, that’s the way we see it and I always think, why go and see something live that I can listen to on a record?
NME Awards Tour 2011
The NME circus arrived in Glasgow for one night only, showcasing the talents of Everything Everything, Magnetic Man, and Crystal Castles. Alex Embiricos arrived ticketless to the O2 Academy, nabbing the last crumpled ticket on the streets, before being granted entrance to one of the most anticipated music events of the month.
The O2 was packed with a crowd of the young and the hip, a tangible energy buzzing with expectation even before any of the acts took to the stage. By the time Everything Everything stepped on wearing top down buttoned shirts and glasses, there was not a single space on the floor. Although the indie-pop four piece remained pretty static, the synth started up with a good backbeat of drums and heavy bass, emphasizing what was to come from two of the most exciting electronic bands around. The audience picked up on this teasing prospect and towards the end of their set the lead singers high pitched, feminine vocals had the crowd’s appetite whetted, and the enthusiasm escalating into a rhythmic jumping frenzy.
Glasgow’s annual Celtic Connections kicks off today, bringing in the new year with one or two footstomps and plenty of willows being stripped to satisfy the ceilidh dancer inside you. Promising you 1500 artists at 14 venues over 18 days, there is certainly no shortage of talent and variety on offer.
Connecting people since 1994, this festival is certainly no stranger to Glasgow’s circuit. Having seen numerous festivals come and go in Glasgow (including the sadly now defunct and wonderfully obscure Triptych) what makes this one so special?? Arguably it is the epitomy of what Glasgow music is all about. Diverse in nature and vibrant in performance, it is perfectly accommodated within the city. There can be few other places to witness americana, jazz and folk on the same stage at times!?
Along with a barrage of music workshops to get involved with, the performers this year include Scottish/Canadian supergroup The Burns Unit, The Walkmen, Alasdair Roberts, Lau, Roddy Hart’s Forever Young Dylan tribute, Seth Lakeman, Rachel Sermanni, Roddy Woomble and Fran Healy. (To name a few)
To get more of a flavour and a detailed taste of what is happening visit,
Alex Embiricos caught up with one of Glasgow’s up and coming bands, The Lava Experiments, who supported Caspian and God As An Astronaut at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut on 9/11/10
“We were thinking of dressing up in clown suits, there’s nothing like playing melancholic music wearing a big pink clown suit.”
‘The Lava Experiments are a band in the chryslis of change, not in the comedy of a clown suit.’ Originally the brain child of singer/ guitarist Fraser Rowan, the band began as a series of experimentations named ‘Lava’ in downtempo ambient electro and, as Fraser eloquently puts it, “some guitar orientated stuff”, which were entirely autonomous. But as it turns out an Icelandic jazz bad had all ready nabbed that title, thus with the addition of bassist Rory McGregor and drummer Alan Wond, The Lava Experiments were born.
So when I ask how they all met I was immediately dealt with “In a dark room, in a gay bar, we just felt things”, thus begins my highly entertaining interview with an interesting band, who no doubt have the required chemistry to pull off the mammoth sounds I heard the other night at King Tuts, with only three guys on a small, sparse stage. Sparse the stage may have been, but the crowd was packed in and intently listening to the layered synth, crunchy guitar and deep vocals which had formed so completely and emerged from the cocoon. Their audience, expecting post-rock, displayed much “nodding of heads, tapping of feet, and stroking of chins” in contemplative appreciation.
Hey, a blizzard!
Put my jacket on, head out… Continue reading “Snow Time Like the Present”
Dave Hunter & Kenneth Mulholland
If Dylan is the master then The Tallest Man On Earth (aka Kristian Matsson) is most definately his apprentice…
With one small stretch, The Tallest Man On Earth assumed control of a captivated crowd at the Arches. One man playing to a whole sell-out section of The Arches is an achievement in itself, and that was before he had even strummed the first chord. Thankfully, he does not disappoint an eager crowd. Opening with numbers such as ‘I won’t Be Found’ off the acclaimed ‘Shallow Grave’ album released in 2008 proved that Matsson at no stage looked over-awed by the onlookers. In fact, he seemed to be more concerned about being flattened by an onrushing train ploughing through the famous venue. Thankfully we have yet to witness this occurence since The Arches was converted in 1991.
It must be said at this point that Matsson is a somewhat enigmatic character. Hailing from Sweden and singing like Dylan does raise the odd eyebrow. So does having a few songs which enjoy a very similar chord structure, but he definitely pulls it off. The more you listen to his songs the more you are convinced of his song-writing skills. Crowd favourite ‘King of Spain’ is a perfect example of his layered approach as he depicts a longing for identity, “Well if you could reinvent my name, well if you could redirect my day, I wanna be the King of Spain”. Playing an extended set was a welcome bonus and he even swapped strings for keys quite effortlessly in the process.
Having toured with the likes of Bon Iver in America, The Tallest Man on Earth is in serious good company. Long may it continue…
One of Glasgow’s most promising contemporary acts, The Phantom Band, have just completed a stint on the road promoting their not to be missed album The Wants, the follow up to critically acclaimed Checkmate Savage. Both albums hold their own in a comparatively dismal musical culture combining rustic, folky elements and more robust percussion sections. This in mind, it goes without saying that the atmosphere inside Oran Mor’s jam-packed depths is positively electric.
Once the Scottish sextet hit the stage, it becomes apparent that there really is no stopping them when it comes to a live show (and Whiskey drinking), a fair feat indeed seeing as they’ve returned from a US tour prior to this month’s UK dates. Powering through a mixture of material from both albums, songs old and new spark the same ecstasy in the home crowd. ‘Crocodile’, ’Into the Corn’ and ‘Everybody Knows It’s True’ strike a particular chord personally and it’s hard not to wonder why The Phantom Band aren’t as well known as they could be. Still, judging on the elated faces that leave after an encore that sees the group get all folked up, it seems that for now, this much love should be enough.
Ahead of their Glasgow gig at the 02 Academy Colin Reilly caught up with the Chris Differs, frontman of influential New Wave band Squeeze and solo artist in his own right to discuss the latest incarnation of Squeeze, their new album and tour…
Colin Reilly: Hi Chris. How are you today?
Chris Difford: Okay
Colin: The tour has just kicked off. How was the gig last night?
Chris: It was good. Very good.
Colin: Do you find your audience is mostly older fans who have followed you since the begining or are there younger fans as well?
Chris: There’s a mixture these days. Especially in America where there’s quite a lot of youngers fans.
The wit of the audience is generally growing. Wits are larger, heights are dropping but the general age is a mixture which is really good.
Abbey Shaw checks out Katy Perry’s new album and the burning question is…is it an improvement on ‘I binned a cat and I liked it’ or something along those lines:
Bubble-gum pop is not my thing. My friends so often complain that all of the music I listen to is nothing more than an incessant drone. Most of the time, I like it that way. There are, rare occasions when something so catchy and poppy will seep into my consciousness that, for a brief blip in time, I will agree that mainstream pop can be brilliant, leaving my cynicism behind. Katy Perry has most certainly won me over. She is most definitely pop but her powerful vocals and defiant attitude do give her an edge.
by Lauren clark
I’m aware with this being October that any mention of Christmas is going to be met with irritable groans but I can assure you that my intentions are not to promote mince pies or any of that other premature festive hoopla that starts to creep in at this time of year. Instead I’m endeavouring to inform you about Yorkhill Santa Cause, an arts and music project that’s merely riding on the coattails of Christmas promotion to generate a little giving in us lot in order to raise money for Yorkhill Childrens Hospital.
This 8 week music and arts extravaganza will be Continue reading “Yorkhill Santa Cause”
Last Saturday, the GU Photo Society (did you know there’s a Photo Society? well… there is) went away to Clydebank and ascended the Titan Crane. Pictures were of course taken, and here are some of mine.
(at Partick railway station)
As sad as it is, not many young people in the UK know about this great Russian writer and Anna Martinen even dares to call him World-Literate. Even those leisurely readers, who are not interested in history and politics, can find something from the life and writings of Mr Bulgakov, as his works are incredibly clever and multi-dimensional.
Born in the end of 19th century, Bulgakov witnessed huge changes in the political landscape during his short life. While the majority in Russia were fascinated with the idea of a revolution and “the power of people” instead of royal rule, Bulgakov suspected that the future’s not going to be as bright as promised. He was a clever and educated man, extremely fond of his own beliefs and honour. People described him as the most honest person they had ever met and perhaps because of this trait Bulgakov never gave in to the political ideologies of his time.
He had to suffer under severe pressure for his resistance, though, put on him by comrade Stalin. The extraordinary attention Bulgakov gained from the Leader resulted not only in being bullied by secret agents, having his notebooks and manuscripts confiscated, plays taken off the stage just a couple of days before the show and almost all his friends arrested, but even in personal terrorising phone calls from Stalin himself. Imagine yourself being a writer, and say, Mr Gordon Brown calling you (too often) about a new essay or article you wrote (and no, I’m not comparing Stalin to Mr Brown, only in respect of grandeur). You can imagine what kind of moral pressure the writer was under.
It is worth contemplating why Bulgakov was ‘honoured’ with all that attention, instead of being sent to a concentration camp where many other dissident writers found their end. Stalin was probably impressed with Bulgakov’s writing talent and wanted to use it for his own purposes (but you can’t make the river flow backwards, can you?). The other possible explanation why Bulgakov’s life was retained is that Stalin needed to have an equal opponent to his ideas. By trying to break Bulgakov’s spirit, Stalin could prove to himself his own authority and power. But he never succeeded. Bulgakov eventually wrote the much wanted communistic piece, but unfortunately for comrade Stalin, he was not the hero of the work, more like an anti-hero.
Power is one of many themes that is to be found in Mikhail Bulgakov’s most famous work – The Master and Margarita. The structure of the novel is complex and multi-dimensional, coming off as a beautiful dance of several story lines that interweave with each other to form one harmonious image. Bulgakov cogitates about power and how it influences people today and in the past. The possession of power and how one uses it is crucial to the writer when portraying human nature.
Although the book is renowned for its ingenious political satire and rewriting of a Biblical tale, it can also be read as a romantic story about self-sacrificing love. The love between the Master and his Margarita is not just fiction and fantasy; the writer himself experienced a very passionate love affair and wrote this book as a mirror To his own life. But this is still not where The Master and Margarita stops unfolding its surprises…Sci-fi fans–this book is for you, too! Witches and the Devil, talking cats, magic- mystical powers of good and evil are all over this story. The book has strong connections to Goethe’s Faust and, similarly to the German writer, Bulgakov shows that nothing is one-sided, just black and white. The ‘negative’ protagonist (the Devil) is someone who connects the past, present and future into one accomplished picture. Certainly deeper than your usual fairy tale.
Bulgakov described himself as a mystic and satiric, and he lived and wrote up to that description. His work reflects his own time and life, retells the past, foresees the future, and not least – really opens us up for a discussion on human nature. With no doubt, Bulgakov possesses a great power over words and that is why everyone, who considers themselves a thinking being, should read this book. Take your time and stop the rush to think about life as Bulgakov did.
GLASGOW is the young Scot’s cultural capital, home of Irn Bru, legendary football teams and that statue with the cone on its head. The Highlands are home of Nessie, the few people who listen to Scottish Country music for enjoyment and, well, not much else. MEGAN DONALD
Despite these regions being the most violently stereotyped in Scotland, there is a certain level of truth behind the preconceptions. Being a fresher straight from the cozy comforts of Inverness (the capital “city” of Highlands), Glasgow is the hilarious antithesis of my hometown and the cultural differences have become obvious to me in my short time at uni so far. Before arriving, my impression of Glasgow was based on Still Game, Franz Ferdinand and a crazy auntie who added “hen” to the end of every sentence. It was a daunting and confusing prospect for someone from a parochial town up North and like everyone else I was thrown in the deep end of Glaswegian culture. This first thing i noticed was the famous language: I was bewildered by the speed of speech and the amount of words Glaswegians managed to fit into a sentence. And they do actually say “pure”. A perfect example was when I bought an ice-cream and asked for a nougat wafer. “Can I have a noo-gah please?” – “No, you can have a nugget,” replied the man. I had been put in my place and had been bitten by the sharp Glaswegian humour for the first time. Yet this was nothing when compared to night I unexpectedly ended up in a Rangers pub in Maryhill. I’d heard it was a bit “jakey” but not understanding the language down here, “jakey” didn’t help me. However, when I arrived, it was quite clear what it meant. It was Saturday night and as I reached the place, i heard the faint, painful mumblings of Islands in the Street on the karaoke (it was John, who I later learned was Maryhill’s karaoke extraordinaire) combined with wafts of spilt beer and fags. My friend warned me not to even joke about religion and to drink Tennents, “cos that’s all there is”. Jakey indeed. Overall it was a night of complete embarrassment for me: my different accent and inability to drink Tennents and generally understand the conversation didn’t exactly endear me to my new mates. But John did take pity and bought me some gin. Let’s consider now Inverness, the furthest North evidence of civilization in Scotland (No, Wick doesn’t count). Don the tartan trews, eat some shortbread, dance the gay gordons and stab a haggis! The “city” of Inverness is seen as the embodiment of all things Highland. The programme, “Monarch of the Glen” brought the Highlands to a mass audience and pulled in tourists wishing see the legendary Glenbogle. Exaggerated as this is, there are aspects which are verging on the truth. Many people do speak gaelic and we do like a ceilidh and a drink. This describes a particular type of staunch super- Highlander known as a “tcheuter” and the further into the Highlands you go the more fervently they cling to traditions. But this idealised version misses out the underlying character which differs so much from Glasgow. Whereas Glasgow is seen as friendly, open and honest, the Highlands are more secularized and unambitious. Highlanders are proud of being different and old-fashioned compared to the central belt; or maybe it’s just a combination of ignorance and unwillingness to change.
Attempts have been made to bring Inverness up to date by naming it a “city” when really it’s just a fairly large town. There have been half-baked redevelopments, new shopping centres and awful street art designed to define “what it means to be from the Highlands”. For example in the centre, blocks of Caithness stone have been placed in the middle of the road with “contemporary virtues the residents felt should guide the city” carved into them. Oddly enough the virtues chosen were, “Perseverance, Open-heartedness, and Insight”. (Personally, I think this is either ironic or very, very hopeful). It means the young Highlander like me is confused about their identity having being brought up with traditional values but is now being told to be thoughtful and have a modern, open view on life: Inverness is a city now! So when you ask a teenage Invernessian how they are, they are likely to respond, “Well, yur see-een it…” And what you are likely to see is a guy called Murdo wearing a pair of trendy jeans, edgy haircut and an iPod…but I bet they’re listening to Runrig. (Runrig is a fairly well known Scottish country band – they’re naff but a bit of a guilty pleasure!) Sometimes I feel like the Invernessian who managed to escape and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be in the big city. Eventually, I know I’ll adapt to the way of life in Glasgow after putting my foot in it a few times but I also know I’ll never completely betray my roots up in there in the Highlands.
On my last visit to Waterstones I noticed something that I’d never come across before in a book shop – an advertisement for electronic book readers, those oddities that apparently let you read books on a relatively gargantuan iPod-esque device. Though perhaps this wasn’t hugely odd in itself, it later struck me as peculiarly counter productive for a shop that deals with the physical object known as ‘book’ to be plugging something that renders such physicality unnecessary.
Admittedly, I hadn’t given much thought to eBook technology before, besides dismissing it as a surplus gizmo that was expensive and pointless, and a brief scan of the World Wide Web only served to reinforce my initial inkling. A brand new eBook reader capable of storing around one hundred and sixty eBooks will set you back near two hundred pounds; a seemingly silly investment when you could instead be spending that money on thirty books, if not more. And a quick dash to an online store confirmed my suspicion that the most popular eBooks (the Twilight series – let’s not get into that) were the same price as their physical counterparts, eliminating the one virtue I could think of, that with eBooks you could in theory eventually be saving money.
Recent news also fail to offer good publicity for the eBook phenomenon. Amazon was left red faced after they discovered they had accidentally put some legally unauthorised eBooks up for sale. Those unfortunate enough to purchase them beforehand and download them to their readers suddenly realised they had the books in question deleted without warning; surely quite the annoyance while halfway through Nineteen Eighty-Four!
But are these dismissals unfair? After all, 20 years ago we would have consulted the map in the glove compartment while marooned up the motorway rather than consult Sandra Sat-Nav, and bought our albums in HMV rather than download them on iTunes. Granted these are by no means fault-free either, after all it’s possible to lose music downloaded from iTunes if it isn’t backed up and anyone who has been overly-dependent on Satellite Navigation on a long journey can testify how bewilderingly useless it can become. But by and large these are innovations we have embraced, and surely now in 2009 if these novelties were suddenly wrenched away many of us would feel the loss?
In this era of technological splendour, why not let books succumb also? There are practical advantages of eBooks after all. For a start the convenience of having hundreds of books stored electronically would reduce the sheer mess that inevitably arises in the home of the keen reader (no more will that immortal phrase be uttered: “What on earth am I going to do with all of these Enid Blyton novels?”), as well as being good news for anyone who struggles to stuff the Norton Anthology of English Literature volumes one and two into their holiday suitcase.
And besides, as overpriced as I found the popular selections, there is a large selection of material online that costs nothing at all, such as books for which the copyright is expired and therefore falls inside the public domain. While it’s possible to read these for free on the internet using resources such as Google Books, surely reading it portably with a reader would be a far more practical and comfortable way to enjoy some Dickens?
As sigh inducing as it would be for some, perhaps having literature in an easily accessible (and occasionally free) electronic form would encourage more people to read in the first place? It’s certainly something that Nintendo seem to have caught onto with their ‘100 Book Collection’ for the DS which has lashings of Austen’s and Shakespeare’s stored on one tiny cartridge. eBooks aslo render self-distribution much easier for aspiring writers, making it possible for them to find an (albeit perhaps limited) audience they otherwise never would have.
Ultimately however, while I think the notion of electronic books isn’t without any merit, physical ownership just seems too important in our society for them to take over in a particularly meaningful way. Having a physical copy of something just seems far more meaningful, and we enjoy having things we can actually look at and touch. Having things done digitally may be convenient, but it takes away a segment of ownership that while perhaps superfluous, still remains important. For the same reason I don’t doubt that downloading music is a practice that will continue, but by no means are physical sales of records going to dissipate overnight.
Books (as in the paper bound with a spine, cover and back, not just megabytes) have been around for centuries. The Diamond Sutra, the believed oldest surviving book bares the date 868 AD, and in these 1141 years I don’t believe terribly much has changed. Besides, next time I’m at Waterstones attending Terry Pratchett/Stephen King/Katie Price’s new bestseller’s book signing, I fear I would look a bit silly asking them to sign my Sony Reader.