Friday, August 13, 2010


Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24: 1
Reading: 'The Buddha of Suburbia' by Hanif Kureishi
Hair Day: Have taken the monumentally dramatic decision to start styling my fringe over the other way

Following some strenuous walking up in them thar hills of North Yorkshire and East Riding (highlights being watching gannets, their wings dipped in ink, at Bempton Cliffs, hiking some of the Cleveland Way from Robin Hood's Bay to Whitby, and overcoming my fear of cows enough to stroke one on the nose. Well, it was behind a highly secure fence), I nipped up to a hair-destroyingly torrential Edinburgh Festival. I was there to catch WOLF, a show for which I'd created some a cappella vocals; it explores the mythology of wolves and has a full run in the Caves at Just the Tonic. It was lots of fun finally seeing the whole shebang, the actors rubbing up against audience members, panting, whimpering, singing, snarling, and being utterly dark and wolfish.

I then had Edinburgh to myself, so in between disaster movie levels of downpourage, I drifted around catching a show or two and daydreaming:

I decided to check out some a cappella action, to see if there really was a scene in England for all-singing, all-dancing, camp vocal nonsense. Playing to 200 delighted people every afternoon in August seems to suggest that The Magnets are doing it for the UK. Styling themselves self-deprecatingly as a 'man-band', hammed-up back aches and all, they did a few too many pop covers for my liking (would have loved to see some more instrumental mimicking, and some more diverse choices of songs), but they were very slick and their A to Z of film themes was pretty spectacular.
Dayream #1: I loiter around afterwards, impress the boys with my discussions of the delicacies of tuning 5ths and ensemble enunciation, tell them all about juice, and ingratiate myself as their occasional vocal arranger.
Reality #1: I loiter, the skies split open and unleash biblical amounts of flooding upon the land, I skuttle off to the relative safety of a leaky pub umbrella, as the Magnets dissolve into the deluge.

Forest Cafe!
I stumbled upon Edinburgh's coolest hangout, a perfect mix of E2's half-haircutted art-sillines, but shabbier and with less pretension. During the Festival, you can apparently borrow a 'human library book' - ie a person with specialist knowledge who can chat to you about their subject over a cuppa. Before I left for Scotchland, Andy had joked about me running off with a Scottish man such as my creative Calendonian heroes Alasdair Roberts and Robin Robertson. Lo and behold, as soon as I walked in I spotted in the corner a brooding and beardy Alasdair sitting on the corner of the stage.
Daydream #2: I immediately go up and say hello, buy him a drink, get chatting and through our happily shared musical/lyrical loves become his BACKING SINGER FOREVER. Hurrah!
Reality #2: Pretend not to see him, plot my approach whilst skulking over a chai tea in an antique china cup, watch him leave with his guitar and lady friend. Curses!

Josie Long!
I DID manage to say hello briefly to Josie, who is a friend of friends. Having never seen a live stand-up show, it was a marvellous surprise to thoroughly enjoy myself in the company of a wonderful girl who is basically like me but much more ballsy and famous: she spoke of living in Hackney surounded by politically-ineffectual hipsters (check. Well, until 2 weeks ago), being a feminist which is of course NORMAL (check, ohhh yes), and wanting to be adopted by Billy Bragg or Nye Bevan (I always wanted Bill Nighy or David Attenborough as an uncle) with the aid of a projector and some very nice illustrations. She has a disarming, honest, and proudly female approach which is ACE.
Daydream #3: We hang out after the show, Josie is in awe of my extreme coolnes, we become best buddies and start having tea and politics mornings in Dalston delis along with Ruth Barnes, Fiona Bevan and other East London-dwelling creative feminist-types.
Reality #3: I follow my stomach to excellent diner Mum's for delicious haggis and neeps concoction followed by more tea and book-reading at the Forest cafe, plus a night in a hostel with three extremely polite Tawianese folk, trying to ignore the Ozzie/Scots fighting and police vans outside, which I can only assume was a early hours cross-nation street theatre performance (16+, some violence and much bad language). Though it's funny, I can't seem to find any info about it in my brochure...

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour!
Though they've played at the Last Days of Decadence in Shoreditch many times, it took a trip to Edinburgh to finally catch this marvellous troupe, tapping into the zeitgeisty trends of cabaret and Blitz-era style but with a more sophisticated, Radio 4-ish sheen. They perform radio plays of the '40s and '50s, with you, as the radio audience, able to see their resourceful sound effects and join in with appropriate cheering and groaning. The ripping yarns and quickfire dialogue is all delivered with spunk and gusto, and made me (in best cut-glass accent) terribly, terribly heppy. Much recommended!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Having a Field Day

Level of conviction in own genius: 6
Hours of creative activity achieved today: 2.5
Watching: 'Rev'
Hair day: Greasemonkey

Have had a recent frenzy of gigitude, travelling the length and breadth of our green, pleasant, dirty, rude etc land in the continued quest to rule over the nation with a mix of experimental jazz/folk/acappella nonsense. This has included performing to an audience aged 3-75 (mostly rather nearer the upper end...) with juice at the Harrogate Festival, where we had to get to grips with delivering a full-length concert starting at the very un-voice-friendly time of 11am, when all we really wanted to do was lounge in our jim-jams drinking tea in front of House Antique Makeover Dine With Me Challenge. Then I hared off to Liverpool to sing with Metamorphic at a lovely gallery on the same road as the Cavern Club, thus competing with various Lennon-busking charlatans. The day after that I took my loop station to the Victoria and Albert museum for their inaugural Summer Camp, which brought together an incongruous mix of European tourists learning to clog dance and West London fashionista snortheads drinking martinis out of special cardboard glasses. I sang to this eclectic bunch from the EFDSS stage in my first You Are Wolf outdoor gig, which included the twin rites-of-passage of singing to people stuffing their faces with barbecued pork and shielding my loop station from the rain.

Merrily, unlike last year's diluvian daymare, Field Day at the weekend enjoyed a spark or two of sunshine. We said our sad farewells to our dearly beloved East Endz by strolling to Victoria Park to enjoy some ear-pummelling from These New Puritans, some jangly quite-niceness from Beth Jeans Houghton, the perfect festival parpsters Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, who mixed bare chests, hip hop dancing and really big horns, the sunny clever-house lad Caribou and Parisian headliners Phoenix, whose lightshow made Cat and I super moth-happy. Sad farewells as Andy and I have moved out of The Coolest Place To Live On Earth TM*, to forge new cultural avenues on t'other side of the river, home of Florence Welch, art schools, composer's collectives, and, hopefully, retro flats with mega-views...

You Are Wolf has gone one step further now down the road to stardom with some play on BBC 6Music's Gideon Coe show and 6Music's equivalent in New York, the very ace WFUV. AND with the appearance of my debut video! Which is here, as made by KASH Creative!

*TM by ME