One of the best things about being home here in the UK has been dropping straight in to festival season, I really couldn’t have timed it better. So, as the weather turns and we head into spooky autumnal October, I thought I’d reflect on my best bits of summer.
My Top 3 of 2016:
Bluedot 22nd June-24th June, Jodrell Bank
Wow! Right, ummm. Bluedot was all about the science. SCIENCE! Being up at the site of the Lovell Telescope was mindblowing. The festival was basically perfect for me, with exactly the right balance of science, music and comedy. Plus a whole bunch of stands where actual IRL physicists were answering questions, at whom I just shouted SCIENCE through sheer exhilaration at being in their presence.
There was a beautiful, pop-up planetarium, fashioned out of wood triangles and tent, which was an exact mathematical dome, even though it was hand-built and portable. I also ate the best cheese toastie of my life. Bluedot was a field full of nerds, my favourite genre of people. The only negatives were there were only chemical toilets and the festival was very majority white men.
Highlights: Planetarium Show with history of Jodrell Bank, Large Hadron Collider demo, Pulsars & Explosions talks, 65 Days Of Static, Public Service Broadcasting, Gwenno, camping right next to a mini radio telescope.
Afropunk 24th September, Alexandra Palace
A poc, feminist, queer-friendly event, Afropunk was one of the best things I’ve ever been to. Re-entering the patriarchal, white supremacist world again after just a few hours in Ally Pally was strange and scary after that wonderful feeling of a world without those oppressive aggressive forces. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for all the black and brown people whose space it was. I’m super grateful that I was able to go to this event, a celebration of black music and culture. The set-up was perfect, with two main stages alternating acts and a second room full of stalls and another stage.
All the music was brilliant and all the fashion and dancing was amazing. As one Vice journalist recently wrote “Afropunk made Fashion Week look like trash”. There were no negatives at this event for me.
People often ask how they can be better allies, or what they can do to “help” oppressed groups. I have been guilty of asking this kind of question before. As a person with a great deal of white privilege and some gender privilege. The best answer I’ve ever heard is “just shut the fuck up and listen”.
Stop asking the question, stop interrupting, stop trying to help people who don’t need any help, stop inputting on conversations that are not yours, stop trying to prove how ‘good’ you are. This is not your space, this is someone else’s space. Show up, be counted, stand next to people and do not let hate happen in your presence. But mostly Shhhhhh. Listen. That’s all.
Supernormal 5th August-8th August, Braziers Park
Set in the stunning grounds of an activist commune, this festival had visual and aural experiments everywhere. The sparse programming left a lot of time for thought and reflection, collaboration and creation. The night skies were stunning and I felt pretty honoured to be able to be there in the company of nature and such weird and wonderful artistic minds. The site was covered in beautiful hand-built structures made only days before the festival. The only negative at this one for me is that there is a lot of class privilege within the activist worlds and the artist worlds, so gathering those two worlds together, I didn’t find my own sense of belonging.Tags: Afropunk, Bluedot, Festival Season, Supernormal
Well, what a night! After hearing the fantastic news that Sadiq Khan is our new London Mayor, I hot-footed it down to Islington to meet a couple of friends from Manchester.
I was lucky enough to get the HOT TICKET of the pre-festival season to go to see David Duchovny perform at Union Chapel. It is, of course, a beautiful venue and always a pleasure to be there, the church surroundings and lighting design didn’t disappoint and his band are very talented musicians.
Duchovny seemed to love self-consciously performing as a rock star rather than singing the songs with meaning, which meant some of the lyrical content was lost. He wandered through the crowd on occasion, who played along and reached out to touch him. I mean, who wouldn’t want to touch David Duchovny?! Some people were even singing along, it was super cute.
I won’t mention the songwriting on his album Hell or Highwater or his singing but the in-between banter was great; he is clever, charming, self-deprecating and very funny.
The best part of all was his out-of-time weird chicken robot dancing. The whole thing felt like when someone has a really great band at their wedding but the bride’s dad gets up to ‘do a few numbers’ with them. It was such a joyous experience I giggled throughout.
He was having such a great time on stage that I just couldn’t hate it. No matter how hard I tried.Tags: David Duchovny, Union Chapel, Weird Robot Chicken Dance
Victoria is a strange journey on which to go alone. It is entirely shot in one take and follows a young Spanish woman on a night out in Berlin, where she lives. I can’t really say much about it without giving any spoilers at all but the way the camera follows the actors, you really feel as if you are inside the film. That they are all real people and this is in fact all really happening.
The sound production was also really really special. There are very occasional moments in the film where music is used in such a perfect way, whereas mostly the sound is left alone as it is on the streets.
The performances are pretty much flawless and Laia Costa deserves every award she is given.
To finish watching and walk out into a busy city in the middle of the night was perfect. I thoroughly recommend this!
Sadly, the Curzon Soho is under threat as they want to build part of the Crossrail 2 where the building stands. The cinema has been around since the 50s and holds a lot of memories for the film industry in the UK. I really hope it is saved in time. Please sign the petition if you’re that way inclined.Tags: Berlin, Curzon Soho, Laia Costa
What a week!
I’ve mostly been hanging out with friends and chilling in my April room in South London, which is much fancier than anywhere I’ve ever lived (yes, even including The Penthouse back in the day – because it’s got some soul, rather than just being a charisma-less flash new building).
Anyway…on Wednesday I had the honour of accompanying two BAFTA Games nominees to the pre-awards party.
Twin brothers, Peter and Robert Curry have a New Zealand-based game development company called Dinopolo Club, under which they released a game called Mini Metro. It lost out (at the awards the following night) to Her Story, the much lauded game by Sam Barlow. I also met a pair of Canadian game developers who were there as nominees for their game Keep Talking Game.
Although he wasn’t at the event, it’s important to note that Mini Metro’s sound was designed by the wonderfully talented Disasterpiece and I now have dreams of heading over to New York on a pilgrimage to ask him to make me his apprentice.
It was a great night in a super glamorous location with lots of champagne and nerding out. I was basically in my heaven.
On my way home, in a magical twist of fate, I crossed paths with the first fox I’ve seen since being back. It was beautiful and we held eye contact for a long time before it toddled off to find a late tea.Tags: BAFTA, Foxes, Games
I have been treated very very well since arriving back home from New Zealand. The biggest highlight of being so spoilt has definitely been the food.
My brother-in-law is an absolutely brilliant cook, so luckily I got to eat lots of yummy homemade meals when staying with my family, this included a wonderful surprise of smoked mackerel salad, as he knew I had missed mackerel very much while I was away.
I’ve eaten a few delicious home-cooked roasts, including the best roast potatoes I’ve ever had, courtesy of my friend Jen.
A visit to Honest Burgers in Soho, was a must, I chose their classic beef burger and rosemary fries, which were large in portion and would’ve been better if they were bigger in size like chips but they were beautifully crispy. The burger was really good, not as good as the best burger I’ve ever eaten, which was at Paddock in Cambridge near Hamilton in New Zealand but better than the burger at Burger Liquor in Wellington.
And then of course, there is The London Particular. I really don’t have the words to describe how good it was to be back in this place. It goes without saying that the coffee is still impeccable. My first meal was a beautiful mix of salads, both vegan, accompanied by beautiful sourdough bread and olive oil.
On my next visit I had the vegetarian brunch bowl, which included the London Particular’s signature baked beans. I’ve never tasted beans like them, so so delicious.
Since I left, the management have expanded and set up the LP Bar next door, decorated with old bits of aeroplanes, complete with actual old aeroplane seats. It’s gorgeous, I can’t wait to try their cocktails some time.
I am considering going vegetarian again or even vegan. It is harder to find ethically-sourced meat and fish here. Quality food is also much more expensive. The thing that most holds me back is finding adequate sources of B12 and Ferritin to ensure I don’t get really sick again like last year. That was really scary.Tags: Burgers, Food, The London Particular, Veganism
I’ve spent my days so far wandering the streets again, going on long bus rides on my own, seeing all the old buildings I missed while I was away, and reconnecting with close friends.
My first week-and-a-half back in London coincided with BFI Flare. I can’t say this was pure coincidence. Queer Christmas, as it is comfortingly called by some of my favourite queers, is an annual celebration of what it means to be LGBTIQ+ in London. There are films galore and DJs play most of the nights in one or both of the bars.
So some of my evenings have been mis-spent, in the best possible way, at the BFI surrounded by gorgeous sexy people of all genders and sexualities.
Femme Brutal is a documentary about an Austrian burlesque troupe based in Vienna. The documentary included interviews with groups of two or more of the seven performers. These interviews were conversational and relaxed, showing the humour and shared chemistry between the people involved in the brutal, kinky burlesque shows.
Interspersed was footage from performances, shot as artistically as possible, with close-ups of bodies and the performances adjusted to work to camera, which ensured the people watching the film were as involved and included as if they were in a live audience. The final sequence was an elaborate power-play of sexiness between two of the performers.
I left flabbergasted, overwhelmed with joy at being home where I belong.
That weekend I went to the Roundhouse to see some performances as part of Roundhouse Rising, most of note was a stunning improvised collaboration between sound artist Gawain Hewitt and countertenor Patrick Terry, based on the theme of ‘water’. The set-up included a bowl of water containing a hydrophone, into which Patrick sang, and a large soundboard with waves painted onto it where the triggers were.
I couldn’t believe it had been improvised, the whole piece was so perfectly delivered.
I was lucky enough to be able to visit some of the young people’s pieces of work down in the Roundhouse Studios too. Audio Collective, made up of 11-25 year olds, has been working over the last few months on some sound art of their own, developed around the idea of water. The three pieces of art I saw were stunning and in great contrast to one another. It was easy to imagine them all within a gallery context, being interacted with and critiqued by pretentious art-types. My favourite was a piece created from sine waves and hospital drips, it was genius.
Then, back to the BFI for a night of three short films as part of the Glitter, Slush, Neon, Cake selection.
The first was a beautifully touching German story about a young teenager spending the summer with her younger maths tutor and her older ballet teacher. The second was a trashy Brazillian high school drama full of magic and lust.
The final film of the evening was a perfect honouring of femme sex workers set in a fictional American building called The Palace. It was just so wonderful, I wanted to dive into the film and spend the night adventuring with them.Tags: Film, Music, Sex and Gender, Sound Art
Just over 27 hours later, I stepped off the plane in Heathrow Airport after 3.25 years in New Zealand. It was 4.50am.
I’m grounded. At peace inside my own body and mind. It’s a strange feeling after spending over 30 years being a crazy Tasmanian-Devil-style-hyperactive-ball-of-mess.
I’m calm now, I listen. These are the things Aotearoa New Zealand gave me, along with the seeds of understanding about what colonisation is and the impact it continues to have on indigenous people around the world.
But aside from these changes, I am hungry. Hungry for a city, a real city. With all the dirt and diversity and dancing.
And I’m writing again…Tags: Home, Writing
December 17th, 2015End Of Year
This year has been amazing, of course. All years seem to be amazing!
It started in a pretty special way with a visit to the famous Riff Raff statue in Hamilton, NZ. The year continued in its magic: I became a DJ, started learning Te Reo Maori, took my clothes off in public, bench coached some more roller derby (even skated around a little bit too), watched a lot of horror movies, talked about sex education and gender everywhere I went, got some gorgeous new tattoos and started learning to drive.
I met some incredible young people, some incredible old people and a few incredible medium people.
Technical issues plagued my music-making throughout the whole year and I thought more than one time that the universe was trying to tell me something bad.
But then I did some Maths and it told me that it wasn’t.
Here’s some links to some things:
Thanks to everyone who was a part of 2015, especially Maim Town, Skittles, Homo and Colleen; Lola and the Boom Boom Room lovelies; Trissel and Palmy YOSS; and of course the Swampton whanau. Y’all saved my life in more ways than you can ever know.
And yet again a plane ticket sits on my bedside table daring me not to leave.
I realise I haven’t done a 2014 post so I should probably do some shout-outs right now to make up for it. Last year was full of many exciting things, new friendships, adventures, music, laughter, and lots and lots of food.
Massive thanks for the inspirations everyone, especially: Buska Dimes, Big Friendlies, Vera Williams, Given Names, Fantails, Slower Motion, and all the people at PBS (Melbourne) and Radio Control (Palmerston North) who introduce my ears to music I hadn’t heard before.
The next 11 months will be mostly Maths and Physics. There will be more music but for now I must go shove my head in some books so I can try to make sense of the universe.
Remember, go outside and look up.
Peace xTags: 2014, 2015, electronic, Palmerston North, Radio Control
2013 was spent in the glorious, most beautiful, breathtaking yet easy-going place I’ve ever been. The year at the Edge Of The World.
I watched some films, some TV shows and read some books. I even listened to a bunch of new music and some old music. This year though, my lists are just one and the theme is just me. And I am proper grateful for everything the universe has sent me.
1. I saw lots of mountains and the ocean. I saw things I’ve never even dreamed of. I did real physical outdoors work for the first time in my life. I wrote about some of it on the internet: Bimbling Along
3. I played a packed gig in an important bar
4. I played a tiny gig to an audience of one in a very very important bar
5. I taught some incredible people how to speak and sing, then I set up a choir
6. I went on lots of beautiful, funny roadtrips and weekends away
7. I saw a screening of a film that changed my whole perspective on the world and I made the filmmaker become my friend
8. I was bench coach for 2 roller derby bouts with some of the best skaters in the country
9. I set up a new jeerleading squad the Rumbles and then let them fly by themselves
10. I survived the biggest storms I’ve been in and My First Ever Earthquakes (peaking at a not-too-shabby 6.5). I looked at the biggest, most stunning skies and sunsets I’ve ever seen
11. I filled in heaps of seemingly boring but actually exciting long forms
12. I made a whole bunch of new friends and learned how much I love my existing ones
14. Cats. Lots and lots of cats.
15. I spent some time with a very special, kind and generous Hot Boy who repeatedly changes my life and who is, before you ask, definitely a Harley
The year ahead holds many incredible surprises and I am filled with hope and reinvigorated ambition and thirst for more travel, adventure and bravery.
2014 will be The Year Folded In Half and it will be THE BEST YEAR EVER.Tags: 2013, Lists