Friday, 17 October 2014

Finding your Feet

Bloody hell.
There was a good period of time where I forgot clean about ever having participated in any form of amateur journalism.
If there's anything I've learnt in my 3 month writing hiatus it's that's I'm exceptionally good at procrastinating things that I enjoy doing with shittier insipid activities; such as, becoming assistant manager of a luggage shop, losing my iPhone and making a fresh post-it every morning for the past 12 weeks pledging to myself a fresh blogpost.
Your find yourself in a vicious cycle of promising yourself you will endeavour to produce a piece then finding a seemingly more important task (mine ranged from knitting a long mint coloured scarf, bumping into Matt Bellamy on a south Devon beach, gutting my bedroom, cutting my hair, painting the spare room, the list goes on) and losing faith in yourself upon the failure of completing the task in the back of your mind grinds you down. As a result you ultimately lose the passion for what you were doing in the first place which is weird, because I sure as hell enjoy the act of writing. It's odd, you just find yourself totally slumped at the though to of sitting down at the computer, and every time I saw another published article go up I just think 'what's the point?', a sickening sense of inadequacy at the inability to even produce a few hundred words. I suppose in essence I lost track of what I wanted and people took priority.
Yet we persevere, life is swimming merrily along and months have sailed away. I find myself in the gap year rut of working, soon to be, three equally dissatisfying jobs in pursuit of a month volunteering in Kerala, Southern India in February followed by some weeks of aimless wandering. Then to Sweden? It's all rather vague. Roll on Goldsmiths.
I guess this is quintessentially part of the entire 'finding yourself' cliché. A kick up the arse and a stern 'ELINOR GET BACK ON THE HORSE' because I'm telling you now, I'd hidden the goddamn saddle.
Here's my pledge of a piece a day, let's see how it goes.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Heineken Open'er festival: The Far Out Stance

Bustling with flocks of fellow pundits, the Gdynian festival opened it's doors on Tuesday to swells of avid European muso's. Now in it's 12th year, the 2014 edition of the Heineken Open'er festival has earned a reputation as a staple in the musical calendar as well as a beery affair. With early bird tickets to the four day shenanigans equating to around a modest £90, the festival comes at a snip of many traditional UK festi's and with a lineup ranging from Pearl Jam to Foals to 90s throwback Faith No More, well, you might as well nip over?
Far Out; swept along on the Tuesday morning arrived to the sparsely green former airstrip, pitching up to a questionable soundtrack of Estonian bred Mockney rap, with the backdrop of (subtlety put) interchangeable weather. 
Wednesday's night kicked off with alt-rock lords Interpol christening the Open'er stage for 2014, rousing the throngs to old favourites such as 'Say Hello to the Angels', addressing spectators with a dumbfounded 'SHIT!' charming them with signature ballads from times long before Far Out’s conception, lending to an feeling of distance.
Next we made our way to an ingeniously named Tent Stage to sample the glorious electro popping Metronomy. Ditching the white blazer formalities and adorning instead co-ordinating denim jackets, they administered a delectable measure of old and new stretching  the bands three albums, Love Letters to Radio Ladio, culminating in a stirring rendition of The Bay, monumentally foot-tappingly good, embellished with neon lights and evoking hearty hip swings. As my fellow Devonians shimmied their appreciation, the enjoyment was asserted as lead singer Joe declared the crowd 'absolutely wonderful', we were left blushing.
Next on Wednesdays agenda was The Black Keys. The duo, drenched in monochrome graphics flashing with lurid colours summoned tempestuous Blues Rock.  they nonchalantly blasted crowd pleasing Old School Rock, Wednesday headliners injecting a fresh performance to faces less so, with Preprassams' aplenty amongst smiling spectators. Haim’s gracing of the Tent Stages week after their Glastonbury performance left one with the taste of being somewhat second rate though still a triumphant and multifaceted performance, Este delivering characteristic bass-gun and dubbing us the ‘best fucking crowd’. Jamie xx concluded the evenings revelry, taking to the Beat Stage; almost reminiscent of a budget hall of mirrors with drapes of silver reflective ribbons clinging to the walls. With an aura of effortless cool, xx drops his own remix of ‘Sunset’, lovingly lapped up alongside new track ‘all under one house raving’ clinching the set as a resounding booty shaking success, despite Far Out wilting somewhat. 
Thursday’s second day shenanigans were tenderly opened by MGMT with a 7:00 slot . Warped and jaunty trip inducing graphics complemented the laid back display though a little prematurely psychedelic for well behaved observers. Smile evoking ‘Time to Pretend’ was a heady voyage through the absurdly addled realms of narcotised minds and splayed with harpsichord and synths, backdropped by the image of a scantily clad flexing blonde kaleidoscopically contorting through distinctly Yellow Submarine stylised images merged with pixelated digital birds. Hallucinogenic lullabies aplenty, ‘electric feel’ predictably threw arms and minds back to fond flashes of 2007. Before making a tactical dash to Jagwar Ma, ‘Kids’ saw formerly static collective thawing upon the removal of the lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden’s sunglasses and taking a leisurely stroll along the front row during leading to him acquiring a garishly coloured tie dye jumper that we slings merrily over his shoulder. Alt Stage victors Ma claimed it as their own, oozing Ozzie eccentricity from the electro-psych-indie trio, favouring ‘Man I Need’ ‘The Throw’ and ‘Come Save Me’ lovingly lapped up by a haze of dazed and happily glazed expressions. An exemplary performance and definitely one of Open’er 2014’s finest.
Pearl Jam soundtracked our eve of woozy hedonism as we stocked up on Heineken given the veritable cubic white palace embellished with the logo conveniently alongside the main stage though sadly forcing customers to a separate fenced district making the humble pint seeking brit feel a little like a raging alcoholic for merely seeking a simultaneous shimmy and sip. Glancing the hoards of giggling middle aged men Far Out made a hasty amble to the silent disco, located in an intensely atmospheric disused airplane hold (given the festival is held on a former airport) and was delightfully dingy mainstream interlude, the Black Eyes Peas wriggling down your cochlear providing a light relief from the gruelling looking PJ troupes congregating. After all, who can last four days without a shamefully shitty binge? Wince inducing Rudimental were swiftly avoided in favour of Maya Jane Coles who whilst relaying a dance safe set, failed to recreate the bliss of Jamie xx’s initial night.
Day three was ignited on the Open’er stage by the enticing equestrian ensemble Foals and saw a classic single spanning setlist of ‘My Number’ ‘Blue Blood’ and no frills, evocative simplicity was the order of the day for a naturally harrowing rendition of Spanish Sahara; producing the curious effect of half the crowd sitting down mid-mosh cross legged, much to the confusion of the remaining half. ‘Inhaler’ erupted in a fist swingingly raw Math Rock riot before a predictable concluding ‘Two Steps, Twice’ saw the infamous solo stroll, nevertheless not failing to produce a satisfying finale of Oxford intricacies, crowd pleasing, though with an element of the formulaic. 
Wild Beats next toasted a hearty looking glass of Red to expectant onlookers who they quickly deemed ‘FIT’ with vocals from Tom Fleming annoyingly reminiscent of Dry the River, the new material shone through with the initial ‘Mecca’ and Jools favoured ‘Simple Beautiful Truth’.
Gliding past the whirl of stripy Polish enigma that was ‘Mela Kotelek’ whilst stocking up on the eve’s liquid fuel, Far Out wandered adamantly over to Friday’s headliner, the hugely anticipated Jack White.
After the pretentious move of the pre-gig ‘no images to be taken it detracts from the performance yada yada’, one is left a little with a somewhat bitter taste and the feeling of daylight robbery of a deserved Instagram post, but hey, it’s Jack fucking White. He does what he wants. 
‘High Ball Stepper’ was a superlative opener and saw White brandishing a rather questionable white hat, though in fitting with the look of recent album ‘Lazaretto’. ‘Hotel Yorba’ and ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ played an important reminder of reminding revellers of White’s exceptional career involving himself in The Raconteurs (‘Steady as She Goes’) and current solo work. ‘I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends’ is a sweet and amorous acoustic number that sees a Meg doppleganger assist on vocals. Despite White’s apologies for his poor vocal quality given his recent run of dates he delivers an almighty, phenomenal rendition of ‘Icky Thump’ brazen with the sticky, seductive unapologetic Rock of ’07’s Stripes. 
White concludes thanking God, Lykke Li, Pearl Jam and (amusingly/awkwardly) The Black Keys who appeared two days before on the same bill. Proceeding the recent controversy of leaked emails between White and his former wife, he appears courteous, alluding to his recent divorce with ‘My mother says not to come home unless I have a Polish wife!’.
Fleeing still in a fog of fondly prepubescent anthems, Far Out made a hasty dash to the Tent Stage for the much hyped BANKS. Majestic and sultry, the LA vocalist growls over thudding electro, praising the art of catharsis in ‘I want everyone to feel like a goddess’ preceding the track ‘Goddess’ as she empoweringly flits over the stage. 
Friday night is finally closed with Lykke Li on the Open’er Stage, the notoriously melancholic Swede, swathed in a silver bat wing number. ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘Little Bit’ help to break up the bleak heartbreak depression of Li’s set, even strangely interspersing the beginning to ‘Drunk In Love’ between songs to stimulate a slow dance. A bleak spectrum, Li’s stage was hung with translucent grey drapes and a somewhat fatigued crowd merrily obliged to ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ welcoming the heartbreak hymns and mourning melodies of failed romantic endeavours. ‘Get Some’ was a triumphant finish, though marred by the couple alongside Far Out who wholly misjudged the song’s intent, choosing to repeatedly lock lips in the least romantic gesture since the dawning of time on the line ‘I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some’.
The fourth and final day of the four day festival saw The Horrors claiming the Open’er Stage, a jolly looking Farris sporting a stripy T-shirt and characteristic black jeans, as parodied by the Mighty Boosh, it was nice to see that despite the addition of recent 80s influenced ‘Luminous’ tracks, some things never change. Stand out ‘Sea Within a Sea’ and the penultimate belter ‘Still Life’ defined the experience, a tirelessly euphoric and uplifting track that may have done better to conclude the set. Void of the punk-ish brashness of first album ‘Strange House’ it clearly defined the constant progressive, evolving nature of the elusive band.
Glancing only the first few minutes of the Saturday headliners ‘Faith No More’ (who bedecked the stage in all white and potted plants) in favour of Daughter on the Tent Stage for a foreseeably emotive and delicate state of affairs from Elena Tonra, lighters in the air, handkerchiefs on standby.
The real anticipation however was for Warpaint who put on the most emancipating, triumphant spectacle of unapologetic female ferocity from the all girl troupe, hailed on tumblr as iconic (see ‘’). Moody, captivating and tenaciously, murkily, fightingly punk, despite technical hiccups that resulted in the mid play re-start of opening song ‘Keep it Healthy’, submerged in teals and reds. The new album is disparate from the subtle acoustic delicacy of the first’s ‘Billie Holiday’. Instead, ‘Love is To Die’ and ‘Disco//Very’ shone through, the latter seeing guitarist Emily Kokal take a lengthy gander into the swarms before an encore of ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Elephants’.
Giving Phoenix a wiggle to final track ‘Entertainment’, the French squad lifted the spirits of the fourth night with a nutritious little dose of Indie-Pop that merged into the last act Julio Bashmore on the Beat Stage. We danced, then fled into the night after the final ‘oh baby’ of ‘Au Seve’.


  • It’s a real smorgasbord of talent with a long standing history of bagging some big old headliners. There’s art installations and more eateries than you can shake a stick at on site as well as a theatre and a runway in the Fashion Stage. Prepare yourself for some exceptionally suave looking contemporaries.
  • Impeccably polite and accommodating locals. The security guards even zipped our bags back up after ransacking them for contraband. Adorable.
  • Don’t cast yourself as the classic ignorant tourist. Go the extra mile and learn some Polish.
  • For the love of god, bring water with you. 80p for half a litre is definitely not ok, particularly when it’s 6AM and you’re feeling a little worse for wear.
  • On a health basis this is probably not going to be your finest hour. Beautifully cheap vodka and cigarettes are easily sourced, at the consumer’s peril.
  • Hot showers, like, every day. That’s all I need to say.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Blaenavon, Prague Track Review for Far Out Magazine

Comprising of Ben Gregory, Frank White and Harris McMillan all a tender 19, Blaenavon categorise themselves as ‘ghost jazz’ group, which certainly rings true with an near morbid tone on track ‘Prague’. ‘They’ll steal you soul and turn the men to gold’ Gregory solemnly assures you, delivering lines that depict ‘blood red skies’ though lulled with dulcet vocals.

A band emerging as part of the seemingly swelling Brighton music scene, Blaenavon command stirring lyricism alongside melodies forged by the generation influenced by the The Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Club. ‘Prague’ is plucked from the polished KOSPO EP put out last year on transgressive recordings and is a golden, swelling anthem brushed with an air of sadness. Angst driven, Prague paints almost a dysptopian lyrical landscape and upholding musical simplicity to a commanding effect, bubbling to a fierce climax at 4:20.

The three piece are scheduled this summer for Warlingham based ‘Leefest’ as well as the the ‘Iceland Airwaves’ festival and a one off date at ‘Le Travendo’ in Paris in late July.

And as they so charmingly proclaim, Blaenavon do indeed prove to be ‘3 boys with a story to tell’, with ‘Prague’ asserting this first chapter as one not to skim over.

Open'er Festival preview for Far Out Magazine

Starting today, Gdynia’s own ‘Open’er’ festival is a polished Polish gem and a penny pleasing Glasto alternative for pleasure seeking, financially savvy Brits.

Set on Kosakowo Airport, Open’er boasts six stages and is a four day pledge of ferocious musical energy with the allure of (equally?) satisyingly cheap beers. This years lineup presents an array of potential headliners in their own right with Foals, The Horrors, Jack White, Metronomy, The Black Keys, Pearl Jam and Warpaint, spanning the genres with the likes of Jamie xx, Julio Bashmore and Mary Jane Coles taking to the Beat Stage.

Open’er presents a plethora of best UK and US Indie/Alternative artists whilst simultaneously showcasing the best of the Polish music scene with artists such as Król and Pablopavo i Ludziki sharing stages with the quintesentially British Ben Howard.

A lynchpin of the emerging European festivals scene and putting many back home to shame, Open’er 2014 sets expectations suitably high.

You can expect a comprehensive review of Poland’s prime beersmusical party in the coming days. Eyes peeled.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

TripToTori @ The Wrey Arms, 13/6/14

I've been deliberating over the title of this post for a while now.'Tripping in Barnstaple' presenting frankly unwanted semantics. 
The matter at hand is that I have received an insight in to the seemingly non-existent music scene of the social epicentre that those dwelling in these parts fondly name 'Barny'. I am of course unaffectionately informing you of Barnstaple. Never judge a book by it's cover, another classic idiom that holds resonance. 

Marred only by minor technical hiccups, TripToTori gave me hope in a world that before this eve had been frankly imprisoning. Commanding beyond their years, Devon based five piece 'TripToTori' conducted an intricate counterpoint melodically, drawing distinct influences from the likes of Foals, Radiohead and London Grammar, most audible in recent single 'Lowlands' available below on the bands soundcloud and featuring an unmistakable early Foals informed guitar solo as well as several instances of a Spanish Sahara ambience throughout their set. Forming only in October 2013 TripToTori is composed of both Josh Danks and Georgia Palmer on vocals, whom present a convincing Wolf Alice romantic frailty of vocals between them at times. The room is littered with a whole host of spectators from family relatives to local rugged leather wearers, and, to my astonishment, a youth subculture of scene kids, stretchers and miniature Yannis' never before encountered outside of Exeter. The band incorporate a Kings of Leon cover, only to the effect of complementing their own material though illuminating further their alternative tastes within a social bubble that is frowning in utter confusion.

Promising, most promising.

Listen to:

Beauty in Strings

Perpetually enigmatic, Keaton Henson has recently released a full third album put out under the name 'Romantic Works', the full album available for streaming on the Guardian Music page, with track 2 currently accessible for audible gratification on soundcloud, link below.

A characteristic concoction of the melancholic, 'Elevator Song' presents an Einaudi reminiscent tone. Intensely emotive, it baits a tantalising instrumental of sorrows. 

Find below an example of the multi-talented Henson's art work, a sample we can no doubt all empathise with.
Album review to follow.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

1,000 Babysteps

Just a little shriek of HURRAY to mark the first 1,000 hits on here since starting the blog in October last year and considering the limited publicity I've given this as well as hardly giving it my whole attention myself I'm bloody chuffed.
Thank you for tolerating my presence. It's been a fantastic push towards getting out there and cracking on with this writing business, in-between the suffocating smog of work that A Level literature, language, and godforsaken history entail, seemingly eclipsing all else.
It's been a mega learning curve and I've enjoyed every minute of it so far.
Here's to a summer of festival induced poverty, chats, cats, potential spats, copious amounts reading and a gap year of hella lotta more where this came from!
Eyes to the skies.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Fierce Newcomers: The Lion

Duo Leo Braukmann Pugsley and Callum White

Forming but five months ago, forged deep in the Devonian wilds, Blues-Rock duo 'The Lion' are slowly but surely working their way up through the ranks. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Drenge and The White Stripes the two took a minute before their gig at Exeter's Phoenix Arts Centre to bask in the blazing Exeter sunshine and consolidate their rising success.

So how long have you been together?

Leo: We were in another band before with a friend. We had loads of names, but it never really kicked off. It was difficult so we ended up cutting it down and he wanted to go own way anyway and we kept it just simple, two piece, rock n roll.

How do you find the two-piece works in terms of dynamics, is it right for you?

Leo: it's good because when we play together live,it's just two of us and we can just sort of go with it. The energy's there, even though there's not a lot of texture and things it's fun and it means we can do a lot with our live performance. When we're live it means then we go out there we just make the performance as good as we can.
Callum: we only rely on each other. There's no one else to rely on it's just TWO. It's a lot easier.

With the rise of two piece bands such as Drenge, would you say that they had an influence on you at all?

Leo: Oh definitely a lot yeah! We've seen them, they came to our local venue and we do have a lot of influence from bands like the White Stripes, a little bit of early Black Keys, just all that kinda vibe. Blues/Rock influence, Garage/Rock Guitar sort of stuff.

How would you categorise your sound then?

Leo: Blues? Rock, Garage, Rock n Roll. Something like that, it's a hybrid infusion.

Where do you see yourselves going from this gig? Do you have high aspirations?

Callum: FUCK YES.
Leo: (more tentatively) We'd love to hit it big time, definitely. We'd sell out in a heartbeat. We wanna go to the top. Next year we're going separate ways but I see the band staying together and we'll keep gigging. It's good for us, it's promotion and experience and an opportunity to get in with the local bands.

Do you think there is a specific Exeter scene then?

Leo: There is an Exeter scene, yeah but it's a bit.. shit. We're just breaking into it really but there are also some really good bands in Exeter. We like 'The Big V', they're quite big I mean they're playing gigs in London and stuff. I saw they were playing one the other week in London, not that that means it's a huge venue but I think two of the members actually live there. There's a lot of bands who are around who are popular but we think are shit. But I won't name any names.

Obviously you've got this gig tonight, any other upcoming gigs where people can catch you?

Leo: Yeah we're playing on Friday 18th April at Tobacco House on the Quay which is like a new up and coming venue. There's quite a lot going on down there and there's a festival down there as well in May which we're playing at with loads of other local bands so that'll be good for us.

Do you find it easier to write lyrics of music first? Or do they come relatively together?

Callum: It changes every time really, though the lyrics usually come first.

What have you two been listening to recently?

Leo: Who was it who performed on Letterman recently? Future Islands, they're like a synth-pop group. Man that performance was so good, you seen it? The guys is there literally fully going for it and turns into a goblin, it's fucking sound. They're like 40 or something?
Callum: to be fair,  there's a group from Ireland playing at the moment called The Strypes?
Leo: Oh god, not the young guys?
Calum: I think fair play to them I think they're pretty good for their age.
Leo: The Rolling Stones did a gig for their 50th Anniversary and they thought: 'ooooh let's ride on that wave!'. They're definitely doing well I mean they're great musicians and they're so young so good for them. I shouldn't be jealous really, but, I am.
Callum: I dunno, I haven't listened to them but I've definitely checked them out.

And finally, the age old conundrum; (as answered by the fabled James Bagshaw himself) B-ow-ie or B-oh-ie?

Leo: B-OH-IE! EVERY SINGLE TIME B-OH-IE! and he's a big influence as well
Callum: oh no. I used to say B-ow-ie. Should I say B-ow-ie? I'll say B-ow-ie for you.

The Lion perform at The Old Tobacco House on Friday 18th April and Off Quay Festival from 25th-26th May.

For fail-safe groovin' and musical enrichment, click on over to:

for more details look below at:

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Bombay Bicycle Club at Exeter Uni’s Great Hall 17/03/14

Drawing the predictable melange of charity shop jumpers and Doc Martens, Bombay Bicycle Club took centre stage at the Great Hall playing a sold out set in the halfway leg of their UK tour. 
Swept there on a compelling tide of nostalgia and elated on expectations of £23 tickets, that were needless to say; high.
The band have received heady mainstream success from album number four ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ with singles such as ‘Luna’ gracing the airwaves of the daytime Radio One playlist. 
The set was a notch up in professionalism from the 2010 post ‘had the blues’ relative underground status, they’re big boys now. Support act ‘Flyte’ seemed reminiscent of a mediocre Mystery Jets minus the 80s hype, though pleasantly harmonious. 
This was soon followed by Rae (‘The Hair’) Morris, a radiant songstress who sat, somewhat subdued, at the keyboard whispering delicate vocals. A poignant affair, songs such as current single ‘Skin’ were beautifully executed. 
Bombay were confidently commanding with spirits soon became frenzied by the very presence of the quartet. The Indie introvert pin-up boy Steadman was brilliant as ever, despite the vivaciousness of early tracks such as ‘How Can You Swallow so Much Sleep?’ and ‘Always Like this’ possibly subtracting from the sincerity of  ‘Eyes Off You’ with vocals slightly lapsing. 
Use of mesmerising graphics projected onto circular screens were stunningly implemented, the Asian-fusion undertone to tracks such as ‘Feel’ seeing a gang of artsy cobras grace the background to which guitarist Jamie Maccoll exclaimed ‘RELEASE THE SNAKES!’ to much effect. 
‘Luna’ also saw a Disclosure- esque mockery of the band’s ‘interative’ online video with rotating silhouettes of Steadman and accomplices. 
A ‘Flaws’less performance that secured crowd pleasing old ‘Evening/Morning’, ‘Shuffle’ ‘Light Out, Words Gone’ with an encore of the sublime ‘What If’ and ‘Carry Me’ it was triumphant effort from a band who have certainly secured themselves as seminal figures in the alternative

Photo credit to the delightful Molly Hayden
also published at:

Monday, 10 March 2014

artist S Mark Gubb provides an insight into upcoming Exeter installation

Exeter’s Phoenix centre is set to host Cardiff dwelling artist Mark Gubb’s upcoming new venture. Gubb’s work provides an insight into 1980s Britan drawing upon socio-political issues. Here, Gubb takes the time to answer some questions.

Hi Mark, what can you tell us about the new installation?

It's a collection of new works that encompass a whole bunch of different media and ideas. There are also consistent ideas that run through a lot of what I do – I'm particularly interested in misinformation, controlling forces – whether that be an obvious one, such as an elected government, or something more unseen, such as the psychological side of marketing – and communication between people in general, how this can break down and the implications of that.

There is a prevailing awareness of the 1980s that influences your work. How do you think today’s economic climate might inspire a future generation of artists?

That's an interesting question, in so far as in so many ways, we are in exactly the same situation now as we were in the 80s – strikes, riots, Conservative government, military action, economic depression – it's uncanny really. Under this government the economic climate for the arts is only ever going to get worse, but as always happens, interesting things come out of adversity; people making do and finding other ways and means to realise their creative visions. The real inspiration, so far as I see it, comes out of the reality of the day to day existence – in the same way that I have been influenced by the climate and paranoias of the time, so a new generation will be inspired by what's happening today.

Do you feel that the environments in which your exhibitions are at all encompasses the message you are conveying?

In one part of my practice, I have a real interest in working site-specifically, responding to particular geographies or histories, but those are specific commissions that request that focus from the very beginning. Another part of my practice is what you'll see at the Phoenix – a studio practice, developed around particular points of interest I find in the world. The best analogy I can make is to think of a gallery show as an album – a band writes an album in their garage/rehearsal room wherever they live in the world, then that album gets listened to in bedrooms all over the world. The connection people feel with those songs isn't specific to their individual location, but connects for more personal reasons.

How do you feel your will influences the perceptions of those attending the exhibition?

This is a really tough question to answer – one of the key questions that artists have been asking themselves forever. I may set something up in the gallery that means people can only move through it in a certain direction, or have something very over-bearing that I know will connect on quite a visceral level. But, at the end of the day, any artist has to be aware that every viewer brings their own set of ideas and experiences to any work. Some of the best insights I have ever gained in to my own work have come through things that other people have told me about my work, not things I have figured out for myself.

Do you think the intention of art is to be eye-opening to those observing it or a self-fulfilling act? Or both?

Eye-opening would suggest that something needs to contain an inherent shock or entertainment value, then self-fulfilling suggests something very introspective, even selfish. I'm interested in both of those positions on some level, but also all that grey area in the middle. All I ever really hope for my work is that it might make someone think. Maybe hold something back up to them for another inspection and have them thinking, 'I've never thought of it like that before'. I'm offering a shifted perspective on the world that opens up room for discussion or reconsideration. I'm selfish enough to think that as an artist, you don't owe your audience anything. What I really mean is that you can't second guess who your audience are or what they will think. It's about honesty at the end of the day. I think most people can sense integrity and honesty a mile off, so you owe it to them and to yourself just to be honest.

The exhibition voices the ‘losers’ of history- who would you see as society’s present day losers?

I think we are living in very dangerous times, and by that I don't mean a threat of physical harm, despite what we are told by the media, day in, day out. We have reached a time where the economic value or cost of anything is the first consideration of everything, as opposed to the humanitarian cost or value. We have politicians that are so disconnected from the reality of the lives of the majority of the population that they can't even begin to understand that reality, let alone do anything to support or improve it. I want to live in a civilisation that is empathetic, supportive and compassionate. You can say that everyone is currently losing, whether we look at the erosion of the NHS and civil liberties, basic freedoms or any kind of vision for future generations. the way we structure our societies and values has to drastically change or humanity is doomed. I know that makes me sound like an old hippy, but when we have almost every area of our existence being proven to be unsustainable in the long-term, from energy and food production, to the very air we breathe, we've got to accept that we're losing, it's just some will be going down in luxury yachts whilst the rest of us drown first. Either way everyone's ultimately going down. On that happy note, I'll finish.

The exhibition ‘History is Written by the Winners’ at Exeter Phoenix centre opens on the 28th March. Workshops and further information is also available at:
photo credit:
For further information:

Thursday, 23 January 2014

JAWS at Exeter Cavern 22/01/14 : Squats, Nights out with Miley and a Caterpillar cake

Cavern’s own ‘KINK’ night; wooing students and kindred alternative musical sprits sparsely scattered over the west-country wide.  ‘The Big V’ play supporting in a splay of blackened red and glitter and forcibly feisty female vocals with subtle undertones of Portishead. ‘The Boy is Easily Broken’ we are told, attempting to set the scene for a throng of violent revellers to some avail. 
Yet deep in the burrows of the venue we find the Birmingham collective JAWS nestling, somewhat wearily following an 8 song set, ‘Stay in’ ‘Toucan’ and ‘Gold’ rousing crowds to a flurry of faux-american pop liberally laced with synths. 
They gather tentatively round the ‘VIP’ broom cupboard and comparatively luxurious toilet. Spirits are high with the birthday bassist Jake beaming after a spectacle of anthemic 90s infused ‘surf-pop’ numbers, cast adrift to Devonian shores. 
Ultimately in a style wholly true to myself I decidedly squat myself next to bubbling guitarist Alex Hudson, the bleached mushroom of delight and quietly inquiring as to ‘wouldn’t you rather just stand?’ and a cautious ‘mind the fire extinguisher’. Admittedly, first impressions were of surprising chivalry. 
‘Never been to Exeter, never in my life.. it’s alright though, a good show.’ Connor Schofield the lead singer acknowledges. A ha! I note the soft lull of the black county. Synonymous with the emerging B-town alternative scene, JAWS have supported the likes of contemporaries Swim Deep and Peace though I am firmly assured prior to the gig by a man posing at the merchandise stall with a tiny fringe that JAWS are the firmly righteous successors. ‘You learn from them I mean they were our first two tours. From that aspect you’re influenced yeah but musically not so much- you learn to be a bit more of a professional.’
They themselves formed in February 2012, a consequence of attending music college and living in Birmingham and ‘jos jammin together’. The band acknowledge Soundcloud as a vital vehicle for propelling artists in a media saturated world, they themselves taking to it as a medium for opening up their audience. This is one they themselves recognize as a young base around the ages of 16 often with a limited income to splurge on an LP (let alone be old enough to have any godforsaken idea what an LP is?).
Having spent a solid five minutes explaining the pronunciation of the collective sat before me to colleagues at various intervals throughout the day (‘It’s jaws. Not jewels. JAWS. J-A-W-S’ - followed by a frankly violent movement of my lower mouth in a gestural act) naturally, I was eager to uncover the motive behind this. 
‘Couldn’t think of a name.. wrote a load of s*** names and then watched James Bond, writing all the character names down; James, Moneypenny, Bond, Man with the golden finger, and then jaws. It was a rushed decision because we had this song we wanted to put online. If we could change our name we’d be called Geach and the Three Nuts.. or Geach and the Morons?’ a unanimous appreciation for Geach and his beauteous name is shared.
The online presence and the necessity for bands to maintain an air of internet savvy-ness is one that is prevalent and also significant to the genre, the rise of social networking sites playing a major role in publicity. ‘It’s the easiest and most accessible way to stream music for anyone putting music out’ Alex chirps, 'If you're a new band it's the best thing in the world, put your songs straight onto the internet and it can instantly go viral, it's all positive..literally anyone can have a Soundcloud account’.
Light and dark, whilst JAWS have benefitted hugely from online publicity, the simultaneous rise of music piracy looms over them. 
‘It’s sorta like you’re being mugged. But we would not be in the Cavern, under the holes if people didn’t stream or illegally download our music’. This date is first on the bill for a string of UK dates we are told following several UK festivals last year (reading was ‘surreal man’ and appropriate recognition was given for the heavenly feline-meets-NASA attire as donned by Mr. Schofield)
‘They’re listening to your music and the point of making music is for it to be heard so, you’re obviously losing money but more people are hearing you. You can always make it back through gig tickets but i don’t think it’s made a massive difference. ‘nowadays accept it, don’t make a big deal out of it, embrace the public demand!’.
A topic close to the bone and one I am eager to explore, the conversation steers towards the importance of a band’s look in relation to how one listens. ‘We didn’t have press shots or pictures for I think like six months. I don’t listen to a band and think ‘Oh what haircut’s he got?’ I mean it’s sad because it actually does matter but to me it doesn’t interest me at all’. They smirk, like a gaggle of school boys as Jake remarks ‘I just wore a pair of denim shorts and a baggy teeshirt.’ followed by a nonchalant ‘yolo’.
So, it shouldn’t matter but it does. ‘I mean most of the time all One Direction are on about is Harry Styles’ So if say a band looking like One Direction made the kind of music JAWS do how would they feel about that? There is a rising ambience of voiced opinions from an ensemble that initially took me as almost introvert. Miley? Soon deemed a legend. ‘Good on a night out.’ ‘The only people what care are the f****** mums!’ ‘I kinda think she’s fit but I don’t want to admit it’  the birthday boy is swiftly named and shamed and we proceed.
Talk soon wavers back towards flamboyancy, ‘I’ve got this trippy, crazy ass jumper but it’s like skin tight because my step mum doesn't know what size I am’ and Hudson grins sheepishly. There is definitely something audibly alluring and mellifluous in hearing the phrase ‘crazy ass’ spoken in a brummy dialect. ‘but, but music IS before image’ Schofield sharply interjects, clarifying the revelation of an enjoyment of image, ‘you need to write your songs before you decided what you’re gunna wear on stage’.
Heads up for 2014? ‘A band called Green Day?’ ‘CHVRCHES, Baby Pink especially they’re our boys. Superfood are gunna be the biggest band..’ ‘SUPERFOOD ARE GUNNA HEADLINE GLASTONBURY!’. This year? I am met with an assertive ‘YES’. ‘Laced! and Drenge will get way bigger than they are already’. 
In terms of writing JAWS have finished recording the album and are provisionally set for release in late summer. Though still essentially unsigned their music is promoted through the ‘Rattlepop’ label and EPs Milkshake and GOLD are available to purchase digitally as well as in vinyl format.

special thanks to the endearing accomplice Jessica Eason - you save my bacon.