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.
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 first novel, I Am a Muse, features a dead painter and his muse. I will most certainly go and see Mike Leigh's Mr Turner when it is released in the UK in October, it looks fabulous. (lovely review HERE - I loved Topsy-Turvy, the Gilbert and Sullivan film mentioned in the article!).
See the trailer below!
Today, I am sorting our my study and preparing to get started on Book 3, The Right Place. I will probably start on research and planning around mid-June, after I've finished sorting out a few admin issues... I am still thinking about the ways I could fund this release... I cannot wait to get started as it is set in one of my favourite places, Dorset... An excuse to spend more time in that wonderful county!
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get permission to print the lyrics of PJ Harvey's The Wind in the book (nobody answers... probably not interested in a small imprint!) *sigh*.
Typesetting work on The Book of Thoth should start in June too...
I am absolutely thrilled to present to you the first in my interview series, "Book Talk".
And what a way to get started! an absolutely thrilling interview with the very talented Jordan Reyne, whose first novel, Remembering The Dead, is out now.
What began as a "Book talk" became something else altogether. Really, really interesting.
Subjectivity in the way we interpret history - very fitting with the current debate surrounding WW1 "celebrations" - as well as philosophy, music, the fluidity of language(s), writing, self-publishing, storytelling, surviving...
It's all in there and more.
Thank you Jordan for giving us such in-depth answers to my questions!
READ JORDAN REYNE: REMEMBERING THE DEAD
There is a review of I Am a Muse in issue 2 of V&OAK magazine, a new glossy independently put together in Colchester by a team of talented and hard-working people. V&OAK stands for "vintage and one of a kind".
I am very happy with the review, and it was a surprise to find out that the article took a whole page in the "Culture" section. The review does highlight the main topics in the book. It didn't start well, though, and I have a slight issue with the following sentence: [talking about Constance] "An elite events planner, her story begins along a similar vein to your typical chick-lit narrative of an independent woman stuck in a love triangle with two different yet disposable men."
WHAAAAT? "CHICK-LIT"? *Hits head on wall*.
Believe me, this is absolutely NOT chick-lit. I most certainly do not write for women but for everyone who loves reading. I do not tackle "women's issues", and at no point in my book do I say that the men are disposable! Constance is a single, working individual in London who has affairs, shares a house when she'd prefer not to, and tries to keep her head above water.
Constance is not an "elite events planner", but the manager of an arts and media centre inspired by the iconic Tea Building in Shoreditch where artists and start-ups hire space and units. She also runs a monthly club night inspired by the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
But I "forgive" the reviewer, because the rest of the article is beautifully written and rather spot on (and she corrects herself about the chick-lit tag too in some way!).
OK, and seeing my picture rather big on there was a bit of a shock... You can see you're no longer in the fashion section!
My partner in crime Matt ArtPix also had a little feature in the magazine about his design work.
And both Arcane Publishing and Matt ArtPix advertised in the mag!
This weekend, we went back to lovely Whitstable to attend an event at the first WhitLit, the Whitstable Literary Festival. It is a shame that we couldn't stay over for the whole weekend, as there were quite a few interesting events. Then on the day we decided to attend, we had to choose between two events that fatefully took place at the same time in two different places in town.
So I opted for the talk on British Gothic (one of my fave subjects) with one of my favourite contemporary writers, Christopher Fowler, over the one about two of my favourite classic authors (namely Charles Dickens and most of all Wilkie Collins, whose work has inspired my second novel, The Book of Thoth).
I have written about Whitstable before on this blog, HERE and HERE. My partner Matt ArtPix also posted a lovely blog about the place two years ago, you can read it HERE.
We adore the architecture around the town, and there definitely is an atmosphere...
So yes, we are big fans and we will most certainly go back. Yesterday, there seemed to be even more interesting shops than the last time we were there. This is what a high street should look like: all the shops (or very nearly) taken up, mostly by independent businesses which have kept the uniqueness of the interior of the buildings they now occupy.
We spent a while in the fabulous Oxford Street Books, a treasure trove that had me virtually drooling. Whilst in the basement, a young couple wandered in. I didn't pay attention to them at all until the girl said - with a very bored tone of voice "Why don't you just get your books off the Internet?" (i.e Amazon); I almost SCREAMED. She did look bored. They left. The poor guy didn't even have time to browse properly! Their loss. We on the other end took our time.
In the shop, there was a signed copy of the first and only edition of The Bois Saga written by local VIP resident Peter Cushing. It was £195.00, of course... and no, I didn't buy it! There is an ebay listing for it HERE with a lovely and rather poignant write-up.
We also paid a visit to Harbour Books, the local independent bookstore and associate of the WhitLit festival. I bought a Dorothy Parker poster in there... oops.
As part of the WhitLit festival, a second-hand books event had been organised at All Saint's Church Hall. You just have to say "second-hand books" for me to come running. And there was a tea room as well, which was perfect after so much walking around! I was amazed: people literally bought PILES of books! It was so wonderful to see!
I got my hands on a wonderful little book called Gobbolino, The Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams (written in 1942, this edition 1966). It's cute, and I am going to read it, because, hey, it's got witches and cats in it!
I also rescued the lady above from a charity shop. Isn't she just handsome? I can feel a book coming with her as the heroine.
In the evening, we attended a talk about British Gothic at the Horsebridge centre as part of the WhitLit festival.
The two speakers were Christopher Fowler, a favourite of mine - I encourage you to read his very entertaining and above all informative blog, which he updates daily. I try and read all his posts as I always learn so much about cinema and books! Chris was also one of the speakers at the week-long "Culture Lab: on Writing Fiction" I attended in Southend in October 2012. I have been reading his books since the late 90s, but I really struggle to catch up as he is so incredibly prolific (I am genuinely in awe of this, as I am such a slow writer...)
The second speaker was the very knowledgeable Barry Forshaw, writer and journalist and Vice Chair of the Crime Writers' association, who has a brand new book out about British Gothic cinema.
The discussion - introduced by David Sutton, editor of Fortean Times - was simply fascinating, and one hour wasn't long enough. We could have sat there until midnight without getting bored. The two entertaining speakers swapped ideas, opinions and anecdotes about Gothic cinema, literature and characters. It really was a delight to listen to these two experts describing encounters with the greats of British Gothic cinema (Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee), taking us on a journey from the beginning of the genre to the special effects-saturated movies of current times and Hammer's resurrection. At random, a few things that got mentioned: Dracula, Frankenstein, MR James, Mary Shelley, Ingrid Pitt, lesbians, The Innocents, Hammer Films, Bela Lugosi, sets being reused again and again for different films, Carry On Screaming, Mr Fowler's Bryant and May series... and so many other things!
We then had a few things signed... Of course, I had to get the latest in the Bryant and May series, I can't wait to start reading it!
Afterwards, we decided to hang around in the cafeteria for a bit with some nice hot drinks, whilst the venue was getting readied for the next talk of the evening.
Sitting by the floor to ceiling glass doors leading onto the terrace and looking down at the town outside, we admitted that we didn't really want to go home and that yes, we could see ourselves live in Whitstable...
I'm very busy these days. Things are moving fast and a lot needs to be done. I am just glad freelance work has dried up this month so I can get on with stuff (Ok, no money in, but we won't panic just yet!).
I still need to promote Book 1, I Am a Muse, and my imprint and bookselling venture, Arcane Publishing. More on that later this week I hope, I am waiting for something to come in to share it with you on this blog.
I should also be able to tell you more about some forthcoming events and ideas! Watch this space...
By the way, talking about I Am a Muse: Steve Pottinger, the poet and publisher who created the independent imprint Ignite Books and who so generously shared publishing tips with me and typeset I Am a Muse last year, is on the BBC news website because of a letter he had written to Caffe Nero about their tax-evasion tactics (someone has done some research about it, see the results HERE). Steve is a very passionate and eloquent speaker who deserves your attention. He will be appearing at quite a few events over the next few months, so try to go and see him! All dates HERE.
The manuscript of book number 2, The Book of Thoth, is now finished. Draft 4 was completed yesterday and I am giving it a quick once-over this afternoon. I am quite pleased with it, it is definitively the book I wanted to write. I could probably fiddle with it for another six months or so but time is running out: publication date is December 2014 and I would like to have the freshly printed books piled up in my lounge by the end of September latest.
The manuscript is now going to Matt ArtPix who will be designing the cover and typesetting the whole book. No pressure, then!
I am now turning my attention once more to The Right Place, which will be book number 3. I wrote the opening chapter during my week-long Culture Lab "On Writing Fiction" at Metal in October 2012 and read an updated version of it at the Shorelines literary festival last November.
Now is time to start the next phase of my research: I need to build up the back story, plan the plot, etc. Unfortunately, my Arcane Publishing funds are severely depleted and will be even more so once The Book of Thoth has been printed (it is a big book!).
I hope to find a solution to this state of affairs in the forthcoming months and keep the ball rolling!
I love using boards. I pin anything I think will help me put the book together: pictures, notes, postcards, maps, ideas, etc. The one I have for The Right Place only has the two pictures above on it; I pinned them this morning. The images come from The Sunday Times Magazine's Spectrum section. They are part of Italian photographer Marina Rosso's project "The Beautiful Gene". Kat Moorhouse, one of the main characters, is a red-haired girl. I'd like to inject a bit of Pre-Raphaelite beauty into the book...
Another character in The Right Place will be the Dorset landscape and its relationship with the people who inhabit it. The book might not feature any straightforward supernatural phenomenon like The Book of Thoth, but the mythical and mystical qualities of the countryside there will definitively have a strong influence on the story.
I cannot wait to get started!
I think therefore I write.
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