Sunday, March 09, 2008

Danger Girls

Level of conviction in own genius: 8.5
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 20 mins
Watching /Listening: BBC 4's new ace US import, 'Mad Men' / Camille's 1st album
Hair Day: bedhead hair

Last night saw juice's debut at the BFI Southbank, where we performed all-new, live 'n' kicking vocalistics as part of the women filmmakers' festival, marvellously-named Bird's Eye View. They have a series of silent films with live music, this year with the likes of our pals the Elysian Quartet, jazzers like Nikki Yeoh and even, rather exclusively, Imogen Heap doing a solo piano set. Our night was paired with Mercury Music Prize nominee Zoe Rahman, feisty and funky jazz pianist; she was the main feature, playing her rock-and-tumble style to 'I Don't Want To Be A Man!' a fabulous German comedy which involved drag, perky slapstick and men kissing, which seems rather racy for 1919! We had a 20 minute short, 'The Danger Girl' from 1916, starring a young, fierce-eyed Gloria Swanson capering about with a variety of men; cue fast cars, lots of falling off swings and more drag. We'd worked really hard on writing snippets of close-harmony material, supplemented with stylised sound effects, imagined sung dialogue, comedy musical quotes (The Killers' 'Somebody Told Me' and 'Walk on the Wild Side', plus a trumpety 'Superman' fanfare) and had taken pains to really add to as well as complement the film. Zoe Rahman was ridiculously over-complimentary afterwards, which was very cool... We hung about backstage beforehand with 'Smack the Pony' star Sally Phillips, who was introducing the films; initially frosty-seeming, it turned out she felt terrifiedly under-prepared and she relaxed when we started talking about babies: she was enviously astonished that Anna, with wee Molly only 4 weeks old (and hanging out in the BFI with Ed), looked so damned slim.

I have been working hard helping Tower Hamlets tykes write mini-operas based on Hamlet, as well as introducing Stravinsky's 'A Soldier's Tale' to a mixture of cheerily raucous Year 8 girls from a ramshackle Catholic school and long-fringed City Academy students, whose school looked like a humongous airport hangar. Next weekend I make my acting debut in Wigmore Hall no less, playing aforementioned solider! Eek.

In culture news, visited Wimbledon College's ace MA show at Bow Arts Trust, with my mate Harry doing a lovely, near-weepingly beautiful interactive photo/storytelling piece. Saw a very good but as hard-hitting-as-a-baseball-bat-in-the-face Deutsche Borsche prize at the Photographer's Gallery. Saw the awe-inspiring 'There Will Be Blood' at the Barbie - see it now, if only to sink, sighingly, into your seat at the sound of Daniel Day Lewis' mouthful-of-tobacco voice! Have seen two great gigs, Rachel Unthank and the Winterset with acquaintance Stef playing metal-funk piano to the gorgeously busty, ruddy-cheeked Geordie lasses' husky songs; plus nu-jazz double-whammy, Basquiat Strings (two of whom are with the Elysian Qtet and thus played at our wedding!) and the Portico Quartet at Union Chapel. Basquiat were angular and fairly rockin', but definitely need to improve on their flat-tyre stage presence; Portico created a richly glowing aurora borealis of sound with their unusual 'hang', an invented instrument that looks like a posh BBQ with the lid down, in the mix, but were maybe a bit too Fast Show-esque 'nice' for Andy and I. We need our gateway-jazz with a little more grease and muck and, well, Led Bib, frankly.

Soon DOLLYman will shake up the world of post-post-jazz, or whatever it is now: we've just recorded new material which sounds bleedin' ace! Portico, beware...

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