All of these photos were taken by me, NONE of the quotes were written by me, they’re just from people I like.
‘I think the main attraction was that it showed you that you can create your own identity, or rely on your own identity without having to subscribe to any official rules of how to behave and how to look in order to be right or to be cool. In particular, it was always beyond the commercial. It was all about being free, in terms of money. The sorts of lifestyles that were endorsed in i-D [magazine] were all about their accessibility. And things were labelled with their prices, to show just how cheap things were, like second-hand coats for £5 and sunglasses for 99 pence. And so there was this liberty: you could actually be having a great time, be sort of glamorous, and at the same time not buy into any commercialism.’
‘For 3 years I was learning Tango, and then one night a stranger came and I started dancing with him, and he stopped in the middle of the floor and said “what are you doing? You’re in your head, predicting what I’m going to ask you to do, you’re not with me. Forget all the steps in your head, just feel the movement on my body, the momentum in the beat.” Tango changed that night into something totally different and magical. People who have close relationships are more able to tune into the relational drama that’s going on. Other people do what I was doing, they’re in their head, doing tasks. You’ll ask someone why they got married and some people will say something like “Oh I don’t know, like you know, we both like cannoeing, and my other girlfriend didn’t like cannoeing and I wanted to cannoe every weekend, and I thought it was time to get married.” It’s like it’s a deal, they’re not tuned into the relational aspect.’
“The essence of breakbeats for me is that [it’s] drum cuts from funk and pop, so [it’s] a part of the collective unconscious,” says Coutinho. A seven-second fill can be recycled countless ways, something that “recharges meaning as opposed to exhausting it”. In the flesh, Coutinho and Drew bear this out, each typically bounding around the DJ booth with unbridled, utterly infectious glee. Going off the grid with snare rushes or spasmodic drum patterns provokes a similar excitement on dancefloors, says Coutinho. “It’s funny to switch from a squarer song to these while looking at the room – it gets bouncy, the atmosphere shifts to a vibe of fluid dancing and informality, like people suddenly feel at home. [They] seem to make people comfortable in their skin.” Drew agrees: “Nothing cracks your body quite like them.”
Violet and Eris Drew interviewed by Gabriel Szatan for the Guardian.
‘Always at the entrance of the hotel there was hundreds of people because they knew that we lived there, I was getting bundled into a car to go to rehearsals and everyone was like can I have a photo, and this one bloke was like can I get a photo please, genuine. And I look in his phone at the selfie being taken, and I recognise his face, it’s him, it‘s the guy that was tweeting all this stuff. Our eyes never met because we were both looking into the screen, and I just turned towards me and his face just dropped, and he was so embarrassed, and I got in the car and it drove off. It was like in a film, the only way I remember it, it was all quite slow, and then it all clicked into place none of it’s real. It’s a way of getting a reaction, and I went let’s do it, let’s play this game.’
Rylan Clark-Neil interviewed by Annie Mac (on her podcast Finding Annie).
“If you ever go read old census documents before the printing press from France or Russia, nobody had the same name. Just crazy-ass names all over the place. And then after the printing press, everyone started having the same 20 or 30 names. We entered this monoculture zone where everything got more centered into single sources of power. Everyone was in agreement on who the biggest stars in the world were. Everybody knew Michael Jackson and Madonna. But now, with the internet and all of these different forms of media, we’re entering a new period of customization again where people are able to customize their existence more. I feel like the kids of the millennials are just going to have wild names.”
Grimes in Interview Magazine (interviewed by Lana Del Rey).
‘Rowland Atkinson has recently written on the complex ways in which the urban soundscapes that constitute ‘aural’ or ‘sonic ecologies; come to impinge upon everyday experiences… if we listen more closely to the ambient architecture of the streetscape we become sensitised to music and sounds that affect how we live… tuning out is about users creating for themselves a distraction from the aural ecology without ever really escaping or removing themselves from the urban context. Tuning out describes an attempt on the part of the user of the mobile music device to rewrite the narratives of the city.’
David Beer in Tune Out: Music, Soundscapes and the Urban Mise-En-Scène.
‘Erving Goffman, his theory of identity was basically like, any time that we are interacting with a person we are putting on a performance for them, and we are constructing an idea of ourself… when I get in a cab later to go back to my hotel, this is not the self I will be performing… it’s different from the one I will be staging when I meet with my friend for drinks tonight… sometimes we end up backstage, like at home, where we feel that we are in the company of other performers maybe or just by ourselves and we can just drop the idea of performance. [let that sink in for a sec] On the internet, right, the audience never changes over, it just accumulates, it never has to leave. That’s what gives rise to this idea, being on the internet can be like being on a job interview that never has to end.’
Jia Tolentino on The Ezra Klein Show podcast.
“The greatest drug of all, my dear, was not one of those pills in so many colors that you took over the years, was not the opium, the hash you smoked in houses at the beach, or the speed or smack you shot up in Sutherland’s apartment, no, it wasn’t any of these. It was the city, darling, it was the city, the city itself. And do you see why I had to leave? As Santayana said, dear, artists are unhappy because they are not interested in happiness; they live for beauty. God, was that steaming, loathsome city beautiful!!! And why finally no human lover was possible, because I was in love with all men, with the city itself.”
Andrew Holleran in his novel Dancer from the Dance.
‘We’re strange people, soldiers stuck out in wars. Happy to breathe because we seen terror and horror and then for a while they ain’t in dominion. Bibles weren’t wrote for us nor any books. We ain’t maybe what people do call human because we ain’t partaking of that bread of heaven. But if God is trying to make an excuse for us He might point at that strange love between us. Like when you fumbling for about in the darkness and you light a lamp and the light come up and rescue things.’
Sebastian Barry in his novel Days Without End.
And now a little further back in time, to my last month in Berlin…
Did any of your writing sessions prove to be a turning point by not working out?
There were loads of studio sessions where I went in and we didn’t really vibe in the room — in the beginning it’s hard to go into a room with someone you’ve never met before and just open up, but at the beginning of a session I try to get to know people before I start. You make yourself comfortable, you make them comfortable
Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in?
I’ve been the new girl a lot, in school. It’s tricky when you go in once everyone’s formed their friendships and you’re trying to figure out where you fit in. And you don’t know who to hang around with, because you don’t know who’s going to be nice or mean to you.
You make it sound like the music industry.
Yes! It’s difficult to see where you fit in — you just have to go with your gut. And that’s something I’ve had to adapt to a lot in my life.
– Dua Lipa interviewed by Peter Robinson
‘I feel like I’m at home in Scotland. It’s because here is where my identity is not defined by my language or physical appearance, my identity here is based on my personality, my ideas, my actions…. This cultural background that I keep talking about can be visualised as a set of clichés, as a number of stereotyped ideas that we base our identity on. These stereotyped ideas are really important in mass communication, because information has to be made as simple as possible, and that’s why we need to base the graphics on the very simple elements. Now this simplistic way of conveying a message is not an issue itself, what worries me is are we able to manage this simplicity, are we aware of it.’
I can’t remember when I first became conscious of it but I started to feel like there were two parts of me, artist self and private self, and there was nothing in between to link the two anymore. I was one or the other, and neither part of my personality could be present in the same environment. When one part of a personality dominates, other parts shrink and life can take on an unreal, two-dimensional quality. Everything in western culture feels so geared towards self-definition, but I wonder if having a looser idea of yourself could make life richer.
Some people have been asking about new music and I’m always flattered to be asked. I know one year is like an aeon in digital time! The honest answer is I don’t know when that will be, but the connection I have with music has always flowered from an honest connection with myself, and I trust my instincts. Whenever I get back on stage again, I would love to feel like I am the sum of my parts, not the sum of a persona or an image. That’s the goal. A lot of reality with a little bit of fantasy.’
Monáe is guarded, an admittedly private person. I see a young Octavia Butler when she speaks to me, a bit solemn, gifted and scary smart. The type that knows an uncomfortable amount of information. “[Cindi] helps me write and she helps me talk. When I speak about science-fiction and the future and androids, I’m speaking about the ‘other.’ The future form of the ‘other.’ Androids are the new black, the new gay or the new women.” … Her words engage with questions Dery brought up in his essay: “Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for more legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?”
Eno’s epiphany came. “I wondered why no music like this existed,” he explained in a 1996 interview. “Why couldn’t we buy records that made this beautiful random mixture of things like the raindrops, with little flurries of things within it like icebergs… It was immediately after this, in 1975, that I recorded Discreet Music, the first of my records conceived as ambient music.” That same year, half a world away in Los Angeles, Smokey Robinson was fixating on a similar phenomenon. “I heard distant thunder, smelled the air just before the rain, saw lightning streak across the sky, felt the winds blow,” he recalled in his autobiography. A Quiet Storm was discreet soul music.
‘We’ve got this developed cortex from watching the leaves fluter, tracking the animals, from grooving on reality and reveling in the repetition and redundancy of information with minor but frequent variations. Slight variations. Slight variations become magical, hypnotizing, mesmerising. They give you deep identification or participatory consciousness. You flow into repetition.’
Lee Scratch Perry diagrams the neurocircuitry of the soundcraft mixing board, its thought flow: ‘I put my mind into the machine and the machine performs reality. Invisible thoughtwaves, you put them into the machine by sending them through the controls and the knobs or you jack it into the jackpanel.’ It is a medium that forms reality, violently bending the environment, massaging it. When you sculpt space with the mixing desk, these technical effects – gate and reverb, echo and flange – are routes through a network of volumes, doorways and tunnels connecting spatial architectures.
In short, it’s a break-up record. Each track depicts the consecutive emotional stages I went through following the break-up of a long term relationship I was in till about this time last year…It was certainly a cathartic process but the tracks pretty much wrote themselves. Plus I think there are many examples of emotionally rich techno: ‘Lady Science’ by Soul Capsule, ‘I Owe You Everything’ by Levon Vincent and ‘Sister,’ by Asusu. Maybe I’m being overly romantic, but these examples alone are dripping with sad feels. Just from my writing process I find my music is usually contextually specific to a certain/current state of mind. Plus in the case of such raw and relatable emotion, it doesn’t take much for such themes to transcend genres. It’s just a case of using particular musical devices, specific to certain cultural contexts. Besides, who said the tone of a kick drum isn’t capable of making a soul weep? Haha! … the process was pretty much the same: fucking with sound on my laptop in my bedroom. The only difference being that there were more tears this time round.
This zone I think of as ‘inner space’, the internal landscape of tomorrow that is a transmuted image of the past, and one of the most fruitful areas for the imaginative writer…. The painters de Chirico, Dali and Marx Ernst, among others, are in sense iconographers of inner space, all… concerned with the discovery of images in which the internal and external reality meet and fuse.