I am not a nostalgic person, but that night at the Hope and Anchor in Islington really makes me want to move back to London and spend my evenings in dark venues up to four times a week, just as I did when I was writing for music magazines. Nowadays, I no longer get in for free and have to add the train and tube fares to my budget – and I am so busy with my own projects that I wouldn’t find the time to write as many music articles as I did back then!
Therefore, I choose the events I attend very carefully. And tonight, I congratulate myself on my choice.
There are quite a few familiar faces on stage and in the audience, people we have seen on stage numerous times. These are people who have had the courage to keep their creative flames alive despite all the obstacles and setbacks faced by musicians nowadays. In a society that is reversing to the relative comfort of conservative attitudes and is embracing a sinister brand of global blandness and trend-led consumerism, it is reassuring and genuinely heartwarming to find yourself in the company of people who create such thrilling work. Because yes, it was a thrilling evening indeed, full of fantastic and innovative music. Every single one of the bands tonight deserve a bigger audience and a larger venue!
The photos are not as good as I'd want them to be, unfortunately (light was too low for the camera...).
One of Geeta’s songs is called Goose bumps (featured in the teaser video below). How very fitting for such a fascinating performance that mixes vocal prowess, keyboards and electronic sounds! Hailing from Montreal, Geeta is an experienced multi-instrumentalist, singer, artist and producer who has worked extensively on the international art scene. Tonight, she is performing in the poorly lit basement of a pub, and she still manages to capture our imagination and bewitch our senses with her otherworldly songs that pierce the gloom to bring enlightenment to our ears. A natural heir to pioneer Björk – producing electronic music that sounds incredibly organic and close to nature and the universe – Geeta throws herself into her performance with a raw intensity. A real gem.
Will Crewdson is a busy man, and has been for years. I first knew him as the guitarist for fabulous glam-rockers Rachel Stamp, but he has played with so many people that the list is too long to type here (if you’re interested, go to his bio on the Scant Regard website); not surprising though: he’s probably one of the best guitarists around at the moment and looks effortlessly cool at any one time. He is currently very active with the fledgling new wave/electro band he has formed with Shaheena Dax (also ex-Rachel Stamp), She Made Me Do It.
Scant Regard is Will's solo instrumental project in which he is free to experiment with electronics and samples as well as show off his guitar skills. It’s really original, catchy, experimental and cinematic. I love the video for the addictive Sneaking into Godforsaken Territory (see below!), full of vintage footage of vintage fashion and pin-ups which remind me of the books I sell on my stall!
One could describe Prude as a supergroup, the cauldron in which is brewed an explosive musical potion of rock’n’roll and industrial: fronted by an unbelievably charismatic Jared Louche (ex-Chemlab, artist, storyteller, performance artist and educationalist), Prude consists of Louche, Matt Fanale (Caustic), Marc “Plastic” Olivier (Plastic Heroes), Phil DiSiena (Infocollapse, Cyanotic), Howie Beno and Christophe Deschamps, all experienced individuals who have been involved in music for years. They have just released their terrific first album, The Dark Age of Consent, a thrilling vortex of abrasive electronics, rock’n’roll histrionics, groovy melodies and wordy, sharp lyrics – we get a glimpse of Mr Louche the poet. I love musicians who mess up with your head and create a surprise with each and every track. With their eclectic sound and their tendency to revel in the darkest recesses of human nature and the sleaziness that comes with it, Prude remind me of other industrial/rock supergroups Pigface and Revolting Cocks, which can only be a positive thing!
Tonight, Mr Deschamps is on drums, guitarist extraordinaire Marc Plastic provides the grooves and Jared Louche gives a pretty flamboyant performance. The rock is turned up and the electronics down, but this doesn’t prevent us from appreciating the terrific tracks. As I watch Prude play in the tiny space, with the heat and the music building up like inside a pressure cooker, I cannot help thinking that if they carry on at this pace, the Hope and Anchor will end up imploding! Prude’s ambition deserves a bigger venue.
See you in the front row!
I have been looking forward to seeing Black Volition play live, and they are even better than I was expecting.
After the swaggering confidence of Prude, the tone of the evening changes as the atmosphere thickens like the darkest of full-bodied Bourbons. The core members of BV are Will Crewdson and Reza Udhin (founding member of Inertia and keyboardist for the iconic Killing Joke since 2005). Live, they are joined by Roi from North London-based electro band Mechanical Cabaret, accompanied by Spike T Smith (The Damned, Morrissey) on drums and Gary Day (Morrissey, The Gazmen) on double bass (a fantastic vintage-looking specimen!).
It was thrilling to listen to and fascinating to watch: the band members really gel together and there is an unmistakable chemistry between them as they play their beautiful songs. Black Volition describe their sound as taking “a trip through the sleepy towns, lonesome woods and dark cabaret of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Then transport yourself to the back streets and gloomy swamps of a vampire-ridden Louisiana in True Blood via a desert valley of spaghetti westerns”, and I couldn’t put it any better myself. It’s haunting (Underground Cities) and utterly, utterly seductive. This is what a walk around the deserted set of Hollywood’s latest Film Noir would have felt like in the Golden Days of cinema, with a pervading menace just vaguely perceptible underneath the surface (Hands on You). On debut single Rivers (video below), Will’s guitar is full of western-tinged flights of fancy and it’s impossibly catchy. The Rain, featuring performance poet Danni Antagonist, is a thundering, brooding gem of a track that stays with you a long time after it has been performed. Gripping stuff!
This is subtle, multi-layered and nuanced music. The cinematic quality is undeniable, and if the Peaky Blinders editors still needed a few tracks to add to the series, then they should really have a word or two with Black Volition. For my part, I am waiting for the first album with impatience and hope to see BV live again very, very soon.
I read in a newspaper recently that if you are an actor, London is now the place to be. Your career is made by soaking up the furious flashes of the assembled international press and having a selfie taken with a tearful member of your adoring audience whilst standing on the red carpet of a Leicester Square première. Move over, Hollywood!
The film industry has also apparently partially relocated to the British capital due to the wealth of creative talent concentrated in a decidedly resourceful metropolis which is always ready to reinvent itself without entirely letting go of its past.
There will of course be a red carpet at the 58th BFI London Film Festival which takes place this year over 12 days (8-19 October).
The figures first: 247 fiction and documentary features, including 17 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films including 2 Restoration World Premieres, and
148 live action and animated shorts!
Some of the best industry professionals will attend, including of course the stars, which will bring their very own aura of glamour to the proceedings.
The programme of the festival is simply mind-blowing - and features a Sonic Gala showing Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton’s concert film Björk: Biophilia Live. I mean, BJÖRK!!!
Watch the trailer HERE.
The opening gala will be the European Premiere of The Imitation Game, with British stars Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch in attendance. This movie about computer pioneer Alan Turing promises to be fantastic – I have watched THE TRAILER! What a cast! – with an outstanding performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing.
The closing gala will be the European premiere of Fury, starring American star Brad Pitt as a sergeant commanding a Sherman tank on a mission behind enemy lines.
Watch the trailer HERE.
I will add another movie I cannot wait to see: Mr Turner, for which the excellent Timothy Spall was crowned Best Actor at this year's Cannes Film Festival...
Watch the trailer HERE.
Cinema has always found inspiration from the world of literature, and that particular trend seems to be growing every year. This year’s BFI London Film Festival has a strong group of literary adaptations covering a variety of genres, subjects and periods including WW1 drama, murder mystery, soul searching biopic, urban crime drama, female-centric comedy drama and depression-era melodrama.
This year’s Centrepiece gala on Thursday 14th October is Testament of Youth by James Kent with Dominic West and Emily Watson supporting rising stars Kit Harrington and Colin Morgan. This is an adaptation of Vera Brittain’s WW1 memoir.
Watch the trailer HERE.
There will also be Wild by Jean-Marc Vallé. Writer Nick Hornby and actress Reese Witherspoon will attend the screening on Monday 13th October. The film is an adaptation of the bestselling 2012 memoir by Cheryl Strayed about her 1,100-mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Another anticipated adaptation is Serena, with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Ron Rash’s 2008 novel is set in depression-era North Carolina.
Watch the trailer HERE.
The Drop, a crime drama with James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy, was written by Dennis Lehane who has adapted his own 2009 short-story Animal Rescue.
Watch the trailer HERE.
The Blue Room is the adaptation of a 1964 mystery novel written by Belgian author Georges Simenon. It is directed by acclaimed director and actor Mathieu Amalric. It is part thriller, love story and tragedy.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Not a literary adaptation per se, Robert Altman's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is the 1982 adaptation of Ed Graczyk’s play about a 1975 reunion in honour of the 20th anniversary of James Dean’s death and features a group of women who were members of the James Dean fan club. This has an all-female cast including Cher, Kathy Bates, Karen Black and Sandy Dennis.
Watch the (non-official!) trailer HERE.
X+Y is the only movie adapted from a documentary (BAFTA winner Beautiful Young Minds) at the festival. It follows Nathan, a teenage maths genius with autism.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Find everything you need to know about the programme, dates and times and buying tickets HERE.
Now, as a novelist myself, I would lie if I said that I do not dream sometimes of having my books adapted for cinema. I am a very visual writer anyway, and I use pictures of actual places, buildings, objects and landscapes as inspiration. I have an intimate relationship with what every scene looks like – I have some kind of storyboard in my head!
My characters all have physical traits taken from actual people: actors, musicians, individuals I have briefly met or seen in the street or a venue. In I Am a Muse, Constance is a red-haired Dita Von Teese lookalike; in The Book of Thoth, I have written Adam Tuckfield with actor Cillian Murphy in mind, whereas flapper and jazz journalist Maeve is an effervescent mix of Louise Brooks, Clara Bow and Helena Bonham Carter (don’t ask!).
I am pretty sure every fiction writer secretly hankers for their books to be adapted for the cinema – although by a director who would “get them” and be sympathetic to their little idiosyncrasies!
All photos on this blog courtesy of the official press site for the LFF!
Blog 1 will be a report from the basement of the Hope and anchor in Islington, London, where we had a fantastic night yesterday evening. Some truly captivating, thrilling stuff was played... I still have to download the pictures, so bear with me!
Blog 2 will be a preview for a famous cinema festival about to kick off soon in the capital. Of course, it will be related to literature.
I will start work on these tomorrow and hope to post the articles online over the weekend.
So come back in a few days to check this very blog!
After two wonderful weeks in Dorset during which I have spent most of my time outside walking and discovering yet more gorgeous hidden gems of this most beautiful of counties, I am back at my desk sorting out my "to do" lists (yes, there are several ones...).
I will post a few Dorset pictures on here soon.
Before I left, I did a bit of research for my third book, The Right Place, which will be set in Dorset. One of the background topics of the novel will be smuggling in the county, and I read that the best book about this subject is Roger Guttridge's Dorset Smugglers.
I hastened to find out more about this volume and discovered that it was out of print. What a disappointment. Then imagine my joy when on my last day in Dorset, I got my hand on a first edition at the Dorchester Curiosity Centre! What incredible luck indeed! I was feeling very depressed about leaving but this find definitively help me through the drive home...
It has absolutely everything you need to know about smuggling activity in the county!
I will soon know everything there is to know about smugglers in Dorset!
I am particularly interested in the area around Abbotsbury where I will set my book.
Isaac Gulliver, "King of Smugglers", is the inspiration behind one of my characters' ancestor! There is quite a bit about him in the book!
I cannot wait to get started properly on the book... First, there's novel number 2 to publish. I am on 3rd proofs now, nearly there!
My third novel, The Right Place, is set in the area around Bridport and Abbotsbury, in West Dorset.
I first went to Dorset in 2011 for a holiday and fell in love with it. To know why, go to The Right Place page.
If I ever have the financial means to go back to the West Country - I lived in Cornwall for a year back in 1997 and loved it! - then Bridport is the place where I'd want to live and work. You are not that far away from London and you have access to different counties around, as far as Cornwall, perfect for attending events, fairs and markets.
For people like us - we are a creative couple - The St Michael's Trading Estate would provide the ideal environment in which to start a business - we have a very clear idea of what we'd like to do. We write, we design, we publish, we create and we also trade antiques and vintage items.
We have enjoyed the Arts and Vintage Quarter and the wonderful bookshops in the town centre many times since our first visit to the area (we will be back there next week!).
Bridport is a dynamic and creative town located in one of the most beautiful landscapes in England. It deserves to become an example of how to regenerate a small town and how to boost the local economy by providing small businesses and local creative professionals with the right environment in which to develop and grow.
This documentary explains the threat posed by redevelopment to the estate and describes the alternative future for the area proposed by the novel scheme Enterprise St Michael's - such a brilliant idea!
A man's best friend
One of the ghosts haunting Whitemoor Hall in The Book of Thoth is a young soldier who is looking for his horse.
He wanders disconsolately around the stables, trying to find his lost companion. This is not a huge part of the book, just one of the numerous small vignettes scattered here and there in the narrative.
Lovely article about the horses of WW1 HERE.
The Book of Thoth: Whitemoor Hall map
Designer and typesetter Matt ArtPix has drawn a map of Whitemoor Hall, where the action of my second novel The Book of Thoth is set. He has used my own very badly done map of the estate (I used it to write the book as the characters move around the place quite a lot!).
Also, Dimitri, the 11-year-old boy who is one of the main characters of the book, is obsessively drawing a map of the house, so we thought it would be a nice touch to insert a map in the prelims.
I think it is rather cute and clearly shows the main elements featured in the story.
New writer's shack
I dream of having a wonderful, small but perfectly formed writer's shack (with bathroom) by the sea in my favourite county, Dorset. Unfortunately, I'm a poor writer, and cannot afford it.
As much as I love London and the cultural opportunities it offers, I find myself more and more attracted by the quietness, the emptiness, the beauty and mystery of the countryside and repulsed by the shallowness of life in urban areas (and of what passes of "urban culture" nowadays). I am not a sociable person at all.
Then I hear that my parents have gone mad and purchased a small holiday house in the mountains. Guess where I'll be writing next year? (shame it's in France and not Dorset, though).
Cute, isn't it?
A weekend away...
So last weekend was supposed to be a very rock'n'roll weekend indeed, that of the awesome Alt-Fest festival. We were getting ready to enjoy three full days of art and music, with the most fabulous line-up. We were looking forward to seeing some of our favourite artists play there and to checking out some exciting new acts.
After a two-year wait, we were absolutely gutted when the event was cancelled barely two weeks before the festival was due to take place. [for anyone interested in the ins and outs of what has gone wrong, go HERE].
We had booked a gorgeous hotel called Hawthorn House Hotel in the town of Kettering (the festival was supposed to take place at the nearby Boughton estate).
We needed a break anyway; we are very versatile people with a wide range of interests, and so instead of cancelling the hotel, we kept the booking and spent a lovely resting weekend visiting the area. Read Matt ArtPix's blog about it HERE (and there are some great pictures too!).
We did go and have a look at Boughton House (from the road).
It was a fabulous spot for a festival, trust me...
It is so very sad to think about what could have been if things had been handled better...
I think therefore I write.
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