Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Rick and Me

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

After working so hard on getting the single out and promoting the launch party, I gave myself a few days off. I was worried I would go a bit stir crazy so I lined up lots of TV that I’d missed and films to watch.

Instead I ended up reading the entire first compendium of The Walking Dead basically in one sitting with short breaks for food and sleep.

It is a truly magnificent work and you should all read it if you haven’t already. Hurry though, because they’ve made a TV series out of it that comes out over Halloween weekend and you’ll want to have read it before then..

The Walking Dead

Once I’ve finally finished Kraken by China Mieville I will get on with the next set… Keep your wits about you out there…

2010? Totally The Best Year Ever.

Song and Dance

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I do believe in following the signs. First step, I guess, is figuring out what your signs are. I have mine but won’t bore you with the whole list!

The connection between the body and the voice is well documented and any good singer uses the whole of their body to create versatile sound qualities. You’ll remember that I got my favourite books out of storage. In among them is The Mastery of Movement by Rudolf Laban. Simply inspiring.

The other day while walking through Shoreditch, I stumbled across an exhibition at the Rivington. The sign outside said it was several artists’ interpretations of maps.

One was by new Hero List entry Gayle Chong Kwan and mapped the history of Rumba. It is a superb mixed-media piece and includes a large map on the wall with the geographical routes of the dance form and explanations colour coded on it.

Hanging from the ceiling in front of the map is a set of headphones.

Standing listening to segments of interviews from the people listed below with Cuban rhythms playing in the background, you can’t help but start to move your hips. Looking at the map while hearing each piece of anecdotal evidence brought the subject into true perspective.

While listening, I was handed the final piece of the puzzle: a dance card (complete with wrist elastic) with each section/interview paraphrased and some of the dance notation for rumba moves.

The only things missing were some real life dancers and a Mojito.

Kele Baker

Sergio Brilhante

Colette Leong-Son

Susan Hacking

Heather Gladding

Rudolf von Laban

Yvonne Daniel

Curt Sachs

Walter Laird

Monsieur Pierre

Ann Hutchison Guest

Halfway House

Friday, July 9th, 2010

As we get further into July, some Top Secret Autumn preparation is taking place and I realised that I hadn’t told y’all what I’ve been up to for ages, so here’s a list:

  • Gone outside a LOT and walked whenever possible
  • Hung out with some of my favourite people, drank, ate and laughed a lot
  • Visited the maps at the British Library about 3 times
  • Saw Future of the Left post-Kelson’s departure, they were okay but the magic was lost
  • Circus Boy came for a visit to celebrate his birthday
  • Alex CF’s stunning exhibition of Many Dead Things opened in Shoreditch
  • Went to the amazing Frisky & Mannish show at Udderbelly, where I laughed so hard I cried and cringed so hard I hid
  • Was introduced to lush Mint and Chilli tea
  • Went to Futurising. It was brilliant, my favourite bits were Tom Hunter and Morag Myerscough
  • Ankles was played on Radio Teesdale
  • My wonderful friend Sarah and I met Terry Pratchett and saw China Mieville on a panel with Adam Roberts and some other leaders in Sci Fi fiction
  • Started watching Mad Men. Wow.
  • Went to the Science Museum. The best bit was the sound exhibit; watched a presentation about Space, there were explosions and I learnt some sign language
  • I joined Formspring and have been asked lots of interesting questions
  • Put up some shelves and finally got my favourite books out of storage. There were also some DVDs that I’d forgotten about
  • I saw China Mieville speak a second time at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival
  • We celebrated a whole year since my first solo gig by going to see Jim Bob read from his book and play some music; he was supported by Isy Suttie and Andrew Collins

Saving the best till last: I’ve set up a Tumblr blog to share inspirations I find on this here internets.

I was also commissioned by a dance company to create two pieces of music for some choreography. They wanted there to be some links between the two pieces but very different feels. You can listen to the final tracks here:

Commissioned Soundtracks (tracks for Candoco)

This month is mostly planning, writing (I’m only halfway through the album), re-recording and re-editing. Off to Truck in a couple of weeks, where I’m gonna see Something Beginning With L, Pulled Apart By Horses and Islet all in the same place (can’t quite believe my luck).

Remember if you put good stuff out there, life can be a wonderful thing. Be generous of your time and your spirit and the rewards you reap will be beyond your imaginings. I’ve been focusing on seeing the good in all people and in living without bravado. Laughter is the best medicine.

In Storage

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I’ve just finished reading this brilliant book:

Storage StoriesIt is written in a similar style to some of my favourite authors and tells the story of a man who used to be in a famous rock band and who now works in storage. It is freaking awesome; it made me laugh and cry.

You can buy it here.

The author Jim Bob is also a musician (and rather brilliant songwriter).

Anyone who knows his music will find self-referential points throughout the book. It is a perfect example of how good something can be if you ‘write what you know’.

Creativity is born of revolution

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Post-2010 election and the future of this country’s cultural community hangs in the balance.

Yesterday, following a Tory/Lib-Dem coalition and the announcement of the new cabinet that includes Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt *rhyming slang anyone?*, a £66 million cut in budget for the DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) was reported in the national press.

Where this cut will likely be made will be to the Arts and arts funding.

So, why should this bother me?

Unable to avoid sounding like a cliche, “the Arts” is my life. My entire life. Creativity, music and performance are everything I have ever known and everything I have been able to do since I can remember. I don’t know about a lot of things, I have built my whole adult existence around music making and creating opportunities for others to make music.

But that was my choice surely?

Yes, I chose to do a variety of work that doesn’t pay very well in a field that I am passionate about. I chose to give myself the freedom I need in order to write the music I want to make. I chose to commit myself to work I believe in. But I am not a doctor, a scientist, a soldier, a psychologist, a classroom teacher, a policewoman, a plumber or a builder. If I was in the balloon I would be the first to be thrown out. I am not claiming that this is a worthy profession.

Music is all around us. It can change our mood instantaneously and unpredictably. It urges us to move, to dance, to celebrate, to cry, to sleep, to breathe differently, to rise up, to ritualise, I could go on and on.

Art is everywhere. It is what our brains do when we’re not thinking.

When did you last read a book? When did you last see a film? When did you last see a postcard or a painting that you loved? When did you last watch some people dancing or singing? When did you last pretend or lie? When did you last create, however small, even a doodle on a pad or whistling a tune? When did you last write something for work and think really hard about picking the right words? When did you last take a photograph?

What will happen?

I can’t predict the future (as you all know I’m pretty good at it though!). High end, high cost, high brow art will be largely unaffected. Yes, sure there will be cuts to the biggies (the national theatres, ballets, operas and musicals) but they will stay open and the ticket prices will go up to cover any lowering of funding.

The people who will be affected are people like me, individual artists trying to earn a living doing the only thing they are any good at. People who didn’t inherit any money to put them through private education, people who might or might not have a degree and might or might not be classically trained. Also, disabled artists, who face additional barriers to their music making and performance, this might be because of mental health difficulties, cognitive, sensory or physical impairments.

Talented, committed and incredible, unique people who have a right to express themselves through their art and have a right to be heard and seen.

In a capitalist society we all have to earn a living, we all have to contribute whatever we can to the world. I only have this. Music. This is all I have to give.

Creativity is born of revolution

I am unclear what this looks like at the moment, it is too close to yesterday’s announcement for me to feel anything other than distress. I have fire in my belly though and with time (not much time!) I will be able to express better what I mean by the above statement.

If you have anything creative in you, do it. Let it out.

Here’s some stuff that might help:

  • Any of the links on the right hand side of here will take you to stuff that can inspire you.
  • This was posted on Twitter by Futurising a while ago, it’s about just getting on with it.
  • Drake Music is a music organisation that I work with.
  • You can write to Jeremy Hunt and tell him what you think of him, in fact why not write to that awful woman Theresa May at the same time.

And the Ass Saw the Angel

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Nick Cave novel 1

I have just finished reading what was Nick Cave’s first book, And the Ass Saw the Angel.

It took me nearly two months; it has been hard to find the time to sit down and read any book, particularly this one. As you can imagine, Nick Cave writes in such poetic language you want to savour every word. The story itself is horrific and beautiful both at once. One of the most inspiring things I have ever read.

As some of you know, I have a strange relationship with sleep and dreaming. This book and elements of its language and imagery will haunt my nights for years to come.

At some point I will do a quotes page on here (hidden of course to avoid spoilers!) with all the bits I underlined whilst reading.

Desert Island Comics

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Twitter is a wonderful place. There has emerged a new thread: #desertislandcomics. It is now one of my very favourite things in the whole world. Here is a small random selection:

Akira the Don: Death’s Head, Calvin & Hobbes, Miracleman, Hate… crap, how many can I have? …The Fixer, Bone, Asterix, The Invisibles, When The Wind Blows, Preacher… I could build a hut by this point. Part 3: Jimmy Corrigan. All Star Superman. Squee. Maid Marion And Her Merry Men. The Tale Of One Bad Rat. 1602.

Martin Carr: Maus, Jimmy Corrigan, Ed The Happy Clown, From Hell, Bone, Hate

Nick Shearon: transmetropolitan, umbrella acadamy, the submariner, sandman, hellboy, scott pilgrim, wormwood Part Deux: Doktor Sleepless, Crossed, Narcopolis, Ignition City, Preacher, Stuff Sucks

Douglas Noble: Fires, Joe’s Bar, Sky Chariots, Alec, Temptation

Andrew Luke: Mills/Ezuerra 3WW Bk 1, Morrisson etc Animal Man, Coney & Holden Moon Looked Down and Laughed, a laptop for And Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen

Jason Cobley: 1: complete Capt Britain. 2: Miracle/Marvelman. 3: DR @ Quinch. Moore and Davis’s finest moments. 4: Joe Sacco Palestine. 5: Will Eisner Contract With God trilogy. Genius. beautiful, funny and moving as well as angry. 6: complete Calvin and Hobbes. Obviously. 7: V For Vendetta. Better than anything. 8: Saga of Swamp Thing. Moore’s run. 8: Bulldog Empire. I couldn’t not. We got it right. 10: Dan Dare 1st Eagle collection. Bubbling under: Judge Death…WHY didn’t I mention Rainbow Orchid? Or Dare? Or Martha Washington? Or CS:SO? Or Fun Comics? Or Derek the Sheep?

Jonathon Dalton: Finder, Age of Bronze, Understanding Comics, Yotsuba&!, Scott Pilgrim, Watchmen, The Arrival (I have ecclectic tastes)

CLR: Bone, Fun Home, Blankets, plus all of Zits and Fruits Basket, and Boulet’s books.

Neill Cameron: 1: Ranma 1/2 vol 1, by Rumiko Takahashi. Incredibly funny and sweet, beautiful art, kung-fu pandas and gender-bending. 2: Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. Possibly my favourite artist ever. 3: a collection of Moore-Davis-Delano Captain Britain. And if we could squeeze some Excalibur in there too, aces. I might swap out CB for a collected edition of Morrison/Yeowell’s Zenith I mean, seeing as this is all imaginary anyway

Faith Erin Hicks: This is SO OBVIOUS, but: Bone by Jeff Smith, everything by Naoki Urasawa. But here’s a weirder one: I think I’d also like the complete Alan Davis run on Excalibur. I really liked that comic.


Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I am reading this:


It is about these and other very large mythical/mystical creatures.

The stories were selected by the great Isaac Asimov, he’s also written a forward that explains some of the science behind the fiction (amazing).