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Lost Village Festival - Preview

25 May 2016

Lost Village Festival, Lincolnshire Fri 27th May - Sun 29th May


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Long gone are the days when a festival in a single field with one stage would cut the mustard. Now, it’s all about total immersion – all about the fantasy, all about getting lost. A place we can go to forget the real world woes. This Bank Holiday weekend the aptly titled Lost Village Festival returns for its second instalment in the Lincolnshire woods, and it’s sure to be a belter.

The brainchild of DJs Jaymo and Andy George, 2015’s line-up saw the likes of Annie Mac, Four Tet, Tale of Us, and Erol Alkan. This year, with over 5,000 tickets sold, it’s even bigger and better.

Here’s a little run-down of what’s in store:

On Friday night we’ve got the likes of former Berghain resident Ben Klock, Brighton boy Fatboy Slim, Ben UFO, and Bicep. 

On Saturday night on the Burial Ground stage there'll be Heidi, Jackmaster, Hessle Audios’ Ben Pearce, Eats Everything, and then Floating Points and Mano Le Tough in the Forgotten Cabin (doubt you’ll forget those boys anytime soon hehe). 

On Sunday – a collective thank God for no work on Monday – we’ve got the soulful Seramic, who’s track ‘People Say’ has been one of my favourites of this year, BBC Introducing Artist of the Year Jack Garratt, Crazy P Soundsystem, Horse Meat Disco, along with my favourite leather jacket wearing soul spinning robot lover Craig Charles. In the Cabin we’ve got German electronic extraordinaire Roman Flugel and Young Turks’ John Talabot both who I caught at Beacons Festival a couple of years ago, topped off with DJ Koze. Sweet lord, it’s going to be GREAT.

If you fancy a break from the bright lights, the Lake of Tranquility promises waterside wood-fired hot tubs, Swedish saunas, massage, yoga, reflexology and more. There’s also the Lost Theatre, where you can see comedy, and secret performances. And if you’re hungry after all of that why not indulge in a four course meal courtesy of The Man Behind the Curtain’s Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare, along with Lee Westcott of The Typing Room? Now those are some horderves I’m gagging to try.

At only 40 minutes away from Leeds via train, for me Lost Village seems to have taken the mantle of Beacons Festival (RIP) as the local festi to attend this summer. Even from London, it’s only 1hr 20 mins. Also, the fact it’s held over the Bank Holiday weekend means they can pack in even more bloody great music. Clever! See you in the woods my friends.


Father John Misty @ London's The Roundhouse

22 May 2016

 20/5/16


It's 9pm, and the London sky has a hue of pastel blue. I don't think I've ever seen so many beards before in my life; there are Josh Tillman lookalikes for miles. This groomed tide of facial hair is due to the fact that I'm outside the Roundhouse in Camden about to see Father John Misty. I've never been to this venue before, and I'm at once struck by its beauty - the tussle between modern sleek architecture and a Victorian birdcage. Tonight we've traded in the tired legs and sharp elbows of the bottom deck for the relaxed nature of the balcony, and once inside we happily take our seats. 

I last saw Misty over a year ago at The Sage in Gateshead as part of the BBC 6 Music Festival. Back then, I was newly acquainted with his 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear and its 2012 precursor Fear Fun, and knew little about the former Fleet Foxes drummer. Now, 16 months on, the beautiful melodies and smart lyrics feel like an old friend. This 2016 tour would seem odd for any other artist armed with a distinct lack of new material, but Tillman has always been one for flouting conventions. The numerous sold out shows (including the one I'm attending) indicate the scale of his unwavering following. We're nowhere near bored of his back catalogue.

The set begins with 'Everyman Needs A Companion,' a folk-enthused soft song that's a favourite of mine. It's soothing, pretty, and introduces us to Tillman's honeyed voice, along with the various religious allusions in his songs. "John the Baptist took Jesus Christ/ Down to the river on a Friday night," he sings. "They talked about Mary like a couple of boys/ With nothing to lose/ Too scared to try." Throughout the set, I can't help but see Father John as a long-haired preacher figure. Decorated by angelic brightness, then doused in red light he stands in the centre of the stage commanding his congregation with every silky note. At one point he takes to the floor, writhing and thrusting in a slick routine that gives the illusion of somebody overtaken by a spirit, their body speaking in tongues. Later, he descends to the edge of the railing encapsulating the crowd. He folds his body onto his people, hugged by the shaking hands of strangers. 

Tillman's set is ingenious. It is both volatile and seamless. Choreographed and chaotic. Soft and soaring. He seduces the audience with his magnetic charisma, and repeatedly changes songs to keep us awake, alert and allured. During 'Holy Shit' we're lulled into a state of contentment with the similar sounding country blues-tinged rock we expect, before with a CRASH we're sucker punched by a loud channelling of instruments akin to a heavy metal band. 'Don't get too comfortable!' it's as if Tillman's telling us, the disciples on the edge of our seats. Tonight love, faith, sexuality and music are all invariably fluid through the lens of our microphone stand twirling Messiah. 

Other personal highlights of the show include the soulful, sensual arrangement of 'When You're Smiling and Astride Me' and the encore cover of Patti Smith's 'Because The Night'. This night indeed belongs to lovers - the narratives of unconventional love, lust and sex that dominate FJM's poetic sometimes overshadowed verses. 

In his closing and perhaps his most well-known song 'An Ideal Husband,' Tillman speaks of a male protagonist blackened with selfish behaviour, who seeks domesticity as a kind of ironic salvation. "I said, "Baby, I'm finally succumbing"/ Said something dumb like "I'm tired of running.../ Let's put a baby in the oven/ Wouldn't I make the ideal husband?" Is this man Misty? Is he a Sinner dressed as a Saint? Is he more John the Baptist than Jesus? The storyteller baptising us and converting us with the rainbow light show, confetti and bubbles. Does it matter? No. "Bubbles are tough as fuck," Tillman says. Only someone as inherently cool as he could pull this off with such impeccable ease.

Everyman needs a companion, and once again Father John Misty has been aurally and visually one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Is It Time We Ditch Snapchat?

19 May 2016

Back to Black...


I recently rewatched Amy. Skillfully mastered by Asif Kapadia of Senna fame, the documentary made me WEEP upon first viewing, and on its second prompted even more tears. It’s a beautiful, tragic, and heart-wrenching humanisation of the old souled girl behind the bee-hived caricature. This time around in a more analytical headspace, I found myself in awe of the sheer volume of recorded memories of Winehouse.

As I watched, feeling overwhelmingly connected, it made me think of my own life – what would a film about me, created from footage, look like? 2006 webcam MSN moments, camcorder videos of me at eight years old singing the Spice Girls in the back garden, Snapchats with the dog filter on my face. Could that concoct me? I wondered. Would those fragments allow you to know me

In 2016, the vast majority of us fluently film our lives more than ever before. Snapchat, Periscope, YouTube: all of these avenues we use to effectively broadcast our day-to-days to anyone interested enough to watch. Through these mediums, we can practically step into almost anyone's shoes  – I mean, if you've ever wondered what it feels like to play at Wimbledon, Robert Federer can show you.

Social media's ever growing influence at oftentimes can leave me thinking of The Truman Show, the 1998 Jim Carrey comedy-drama set in a dystopian universe where an oblivious Truman Burbank is living in a reality television show. Though the idea of a baby being forcefully imprisoned within a set is still laughable, the premise of live-streaming a life can occasionally feel eerily close. Heartbreakingly in today's society people are even airing their own deaths online.

In Amy we see the eyeliner aficionado at her most vulnerable. Before the fame, and before the downfall, we view her as a wide-eyed child. She retains this innocence throughout the documentary and opens up to the camera in an intoxicating way that professes both her charisma, and also her naivety surrounding others ever witnessing the clips. We see all of Amy -- raw, unadulterated, and unabashed. This is what makes the film so enchanting.

How much of the digital footage we watch nowadays can we say is truly authentic? Alongside the rise of Instagram timelines has come the art of lifestyle curation. We choose what we want people to see; we can now easily filter out the bad bits. Our lives reduced to a careful selection of saturation-heightened photos and/or ten second videos that look amazing. But do they really paint a true picture? Moreover when it comes to celebrities, a lot of the videos we watch which are meant to be 'real' are actually sponsored, tarred with ad lingo. Snapchat is now another tool for marketing, for selling you teeth whitening kits or clothes. The corporations have caught on to the appeal and influence that these app accounts can have. 



I think this is why vlogging has become so popular, for the vloggers themselves and their millions of followers. It's the mediation of sponsored, curated content intermixed with real people with real, authentic emotions. Vloggers create communities, with people from all over the world connected through the digital sphere on their self-centric channel. It's no coincidence that the YouTube videos and starlets that garner the most popularity are those that openly discuss universal issues that lots of people can relate to such as growing up, sexuality, etc, and also have real likeable personalities. The intimacy of some of these videos is undeniable.  You follow them (in true Truman fashion) through their day-to-day lives. You see their relationships. You feel like you're chatting with a friend. Though, of course, it's a little one-sided.

As humans, we're naturally voyeuristic. We're naturally nosey. We like to know other people’s business. This explains the malevolent treatment of celebrities like Amy Winehouse. Yet benevolently, we like to feel akin to others. By digital filmmakers sharing their personal videos online, of their lives, we can bizarrely that we know them. In some senses, we do.



Video as a format is intrinsically intimate. We see people's quirks, their mannerisms. We hear their voices.  A video is so much more of a raw representation of a person than a photo, even with the best angles and lighting. In Amy, Kapadia has crafted clips of Winehouse to fit his narrative, sure. But it's the emotional wealth of said clips derived from home movies that make us empathise with the jazz singer, not the promotional snapshots. Video, then, is one of the most powerful tools for portraying and/or remembering a person.



This is why it's a shame that these days the mindset with video seems all too commonly to be that if it’s not shareable, is it worth it? Would we still get the same satisfaction sans the likes? We've gotten so caught up in needing this 'approval'. 



We used to hold camcorders in our hands, then hold the tapes containing our reels of moments. They were SO real, almost indestructible. You could pop one in an underground bunker ready for the next generation to dig out and see. Now, everything's on our laptops and iPhones and if these die/ get stolen, unless we're prepared we can lose it ALL. Whole years can disappear into a black hole. Digital has eclipsed the physical, and in some ways it feels so much less sturdy, less infinite. So much less free.

Saying that, I think social media is great. The opportunities available to Millennials as a product of cyber-connections is astonishing. But I do miss those videos we used to make as kids pre-YouTube. Back in the days where we knew nobody would see them but us. When we were our silly selves chatting away to the camera. I think we're a lot more self-conscious now when it comes to sharing, which is probably in part to do with the fact that we've gotten older and in part because we've become more sensible online after growing up alongside the Internet. The web is mindblowingly large, and people aren't always friendly on it. 

But that's not to say we can't film the way we used to using digital means. We can still use Snapchat avidly and record just for ourselves. Having a personal brand is important. But preserving unfiltered, personal memories is also. If Amy can teach us anything, it's the value and beauty of recording the little things, the imperfect moments, even if we are the sole viewer. We've already seen a cultural renaissance of film photography, and vinyl. Who knows, maybe video will be next.



Sundaze #6

15 May 2016


Recently I've been thinking about the sunshine and how much better everything feels within its rays. A sun-daze if you will. Everything illuminated, everything rose tinted. In England warm weather is forever fleeting, but always appreciated. I had a week off work a couple of weeks ago, and I was extremely lucky for the temperature to be consistently gorgeous. It was such a lovely, bloody knackering week, during which I jetted around the North and sank a few too many bevvies in beer gardens with bare legs. I also went glamping and slept exposed to the elements in a see-through woodland unidome (which I'll post with more detail soon) at a place in North Yorkshire called Camp Katur. I quite literally arose to the sun on my face, and a squirrel knocking on the wall by my head.

The sunshine and my social media feeds have had me thinking about the eternal state of soleil, California. This week I read Joan Didion's Notes from California, watched Love & Mercy, the California-centric Brian Wilson biopic starring Paul Dano (who I love), and FINALLY viewed the finale of Mad Men. I won't ruin it, but Don Draper "Ohmmm"ing in the Californian canyons is an image I will never forget. 

This week I've been listening to/loving This is the Kitand Emma Gannon's Ctrl Alt Delete podcast, on which she chats to amazing women about growing up in the age of social media. I've also been listening to The Children of Pet Sounds with Kate Puckrik - another nod to B.Wils. 

I've been reading The Glossary of Happiness, which made me very happy indeed. Especially being introduced to the word utepils which in "(Norwegian [means] “a beer that is enjoyed outside . . . particularly on the first hot day of the year”)." I can safely say I've had my first 2016 utepil. 

Fingers crossed the sunshine's here to stay



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