Latin for invisible things – english for perfect podcast

Blog, Podcasts

If you enjoy podcasts you should definitely sink your ears into Invisibilia.

Invisibilia (an NPR podcast) is the brain child of Lulu Miller and Alix Spielgel.

Lulu has previously worked on Radiolab and has also been a writer, wood worker (so cool) and cyclist. Alix has worked on This American Life and is also a violinist and award winning journalist.  Both Lulu and Alix have also worked on NPR’s science desk – which I hear is where Invisibilia was forged..

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(illustration courtesy of Topher McCulloch and Creative Commons)

Together they combine their wealth of experience and interests to create a podcast that describes itself as being about:

“The invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.”

And this is true – particularly the last part.

I’ve listened to a few storytelling style podcasts and you hear some incredible stories – one moment your laughing, the next your crying. But for me, the stories sadly seem to fade and, if I’m being honest, a few days after they’re listened to I’m no longer able to recall the narratives that had only very recently seemed so vivid.

But I listened to Invisibilia’s first season over two years ago now – when I had a long drive to work by motorbike in Vietnam (blissful) – and I can still recount, and still do retell, the narratives from that first series with clarity. Yes some episodes stick more than others – but I really do think I remember the stories I do because, listening to those episodes has genuinely changed my perception of the world around me in such a significant way that, as with any significant stuctural mental shift,  you remember the seed that grew those new perceptions and ideas. Invisibilia has given me beautiful brain seeds. In this way I’ve found the experience of listening to Invisibilia weirdly familar to the feeling of studying philosophy at university.

‘We’re going to tell you a story that makes you believe something you do not currently believe’, they say, at the beginning of one episode.

In an episode called ‘the problem with the solutiton‘ the podcast completely changed my perception of mental illness and how we discuss and treat it as a society. And in ‘how to become batman‘ Invisibilia challenged and reformed my ideas of disabilities, my perception of my own capabilities and ultimately the way I treat those around me.

Alex and Lulu push and pull at the ideas of things we take for granted each day.

It’s now starting it’s third season and I couldn’t endorse it enough if you’re interested!

P.S They also play tracks at the end of the shows, and when one of those is David Byrne’s ‘Don’t Fence Me In!‘ – what more could you want?

Escape into Monica Ramos’ illustrations

Art, Blog, Illustration, Women to love

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Monica Ramos is an illustrator born in Manila in the Philippines and who now lives in New York – having graduated from Parsons, the New School for Design.

She’s previously said she’s inspired by Miyazaki and the collision of the real and spirit world within his work. Which gives an indication of what you’re in for and perhaps helps explain the thought processes behind some of her pieces.

She said in one of her first recorded interviews six years ago that she ‘just wanted to make beautiful, funny things’ and she talks about a Children’s Book she was illustrating at the time about a forest girl who’s ‘wild, brave and loves to eat berries’ (heart glowing).

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But since then Ramos has been hard at work and she’s now had a host of exhibitions predominantly in New York, but also Washington, Austin and Copenhagen. Her work is hard to pin down and you don’t quite know what will come next, but it’s definitely included a fair few lamas and lot of different kinds of foods (all the important things). But my favourite pieces of Ramos’ work have been those that portray women.

Her most recently commissioned work Muslim Women is a great example of how good she is at doing this:

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One of my ultimate faves is from a personal collection she did for an exhibition in Copenhagen called ‘Just Swim’.

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The calming and beautiful illustrations of naked women floating amongst tigers in pale blue clear waters – take me in, and let me rest there!

And you may recognise the below illustration from the My Year of Women website banner:

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But she’s done a truck load of amazing stuff. From an asian-american tarot card deck to a woman riding an aubergine (in a sexual way). I definitely recommend checking her out here if you like what you see – and keeping an eye on her online store. Her tumblr archive is also great when getting a sense of her work’s progression, and also to grab snippets of projects and pieces that have flown lower on the radar.

Go and run head first into the beautiful images Ramos creates – she’s a women to love for sure.

P.S She also created (with a pal) a two hit wonder ‘Sad Girls Zine’ – which I wish I had a copy of because it looks hilarious.

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Did you know about Betty Davis?

Blog, Music, Women to love

Because I didn’t – and I wonder how that happened!?

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Born in 1945 Betty Davis is an American funk and soul singer (that doesn’t describe it right/do her justice) who was making music and performing in the 1960s and 1970s.

Her music is sexy, powerful, unique, gigantic, unapologetic, empowering and all the rest of the adjectives.

She grew up in Pittsburgh on her Grandma’s farm and apparently she wrote her first song at 12 years old. She then moved to New York at 16 to live with her aunt. While there, she’s said to have been a frequenter come hostess/DJ at Greenwich Village’s nightclub The Cellar in New York – were she was pals with musical greats such as Hendrix . Towards the late 60s she started recording songs at Colombia Records.

She was born Betty Mabry but had a year long marriage to Miles Davis giving her the name Betty Davis. There’s a truck load of conjecture around their relationship but, who knows? (And less about the men she laid and more the music she made huh).

After their split she did a brief stint in London to pursue her modelling career – have ya seen her! Then returned to the US to make the music I’m now listening to.

AND !!! THE MUSIC SHE MADE.

Three albums were released by Light in The Attic Records – Betty Davis (1973), They say I’m Different (1974) and Nasty Gal (1975). And they’re blowing my mind.

She’s repeatedly described as ahead of her time. And a truck ton of artists are said to have stolen from her and been influenced by her.

Apparently she was a stupendous stage presence but I unfortunately haven’t been able to find any footage.  Though people are currently crowd funding to make a documentary about her life called Nasty Gal: The many lives of funk Queen Betty Davis which, here’s hoping, gets made.

I really really super recommend you check her out (if ya fancy). Here’s some of my faves so far:

Nasty Gal: an amazing example of Davis at her best.

Anti-love song: this sounds so good and is Davis at the most vulnerable I’ve heard. ‘That’s why I don’t wanna love you, cause I’d know what you’d do to my heart’.

Don’t call her no tramp: which is basically a feminist anthem ‘you can call her trendy, and superficial, an elegant hustler – but don’t you call her no tramp’.

Dedicated to the Press: a response to negative press she was receiving for being unapologetically herself.

Hope you click and enjoy!

The Oscars (part two – Kelly Reichardt & the Bechdel Test)

Blog, Film, Women to love

So what did I do when the world was talking about the Oscars (a belated retelling).

I went to see Kelly Reichardt’s film Certain Women hosted by the Bechdel Test Fest and then listened to her talk about it. And it was a great idea!

Hurrah for the Bechdel Test Fest! This being, in their own words, ‘an ongoing celebration of films that pass the Bechdel Test‘.

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To pass the test the film must have:

  1. At least two female characters
  2. They must both have names
  3. And they have to talk to each other (just once) about something other than a man.

It’s a very low bar – but over half of the top grossing films in 2016 didn’t pass. But the Bechdel Test Fest project works to promote and showcase the films that do.  Here’s a list of their upcoming events and they’re great to fb follow.

But yes, they brought screenwriter and director Kelly Reichardt and her film Certain Women into my life. (Thank you).

The film debuted at the Sundance film festival in January 2016 and was formally released in October 2016. To write the screen play Reichardt took two short story collections from Mantana’s Maile Meloy – an American Fiction Writer who’s books I’ve subsequently amazon ordered.

The film

First off, here’s the trailer. Which really gives the best indication of what you’re in for.

The film follows four women (Laura played by Laura Dern, Gina played by Michelle Williams, The Rancher played by Lily Gladstone and Beth played by Kristen Stewart) whose stories link tenuously and at times more intimately with each other.

I’ve actually had the darned hardest time trying to sum up this film because it’s just the bees knees. Put in the most succinct terms I can muster, Certain Women felt like one of the most true to life portrayals of women I’d seen on the big screen. No over exaggeration.

This is perhaps instantly demonstrated when looking at the physical portrayal of the characters.  Their hair looking like mine does now. The clothes pulled from what could have been an actual wardrobe. In watching Laura Dern use a lint roller on her clothes. And in most of the characters appearing without make up. Most poignant for me was seeing Kristen Stewart’s character Beth stand up in front of her class with her necklace clasp and pendant hanging next to each other. As necklace clasps do – all the time!

And each woman was physically different from the other – as we are. There wasn’t a sniff of the Hollywood homogeny we are unfortunately accustomed to.

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Physical appearances aside, the film finds each character to an extent both physically and emotionally alone. Not in a sad, negative, patronising way – but it’s a poignant isolation, that seemed to me to arise as a kind of side effect of their clear intelligence and independence as women. And their choice not to conform to dated, traditional societal ideas of gender roles.

Unfortunately, they still inhabit the landscape of an inherently sexist world.

And there’s the masterpiece. The cracking juxtaposition of women just being – as we all are. In a world full of perceptions of what they/we should be. And the balancing act of of it all. (And books and books could be written on how Reichardt achieves this).

It also portrays unapologetically the suckiness of that. There’s a scene in which Laura Dern’s character, a lawyer, takes a client who won’t listen to her advice to get a second opinion from a male lawyer. The male lawyer’s verdict is instantly accepted.  ‘It would be nice to think if I were a man’ she says ‘how restful that would be’.

But there’s no shrieking, there’s no visible anger. Contrastly there’s placidity and calm. And aside from its social comment, it’s just a beautifully shot and peaceful insight into Montana. Telling three stories about complex and interesting individuals in a mesmirsing way. It was great!

The Q&A

And then there was the Q&A and Kelly Reichardt talked about the film. (Woman crush – she was so cool).

Aside from writing the screen play and directing Certain Women, Reichardt also talked about editing the film herself and said she had done this with a majority of her work due to a lack of money/funding.

At one point, someone in the audience implied they felt like one of her characters was sad. (The character in question was the lawyer who lived alone with her dog). To which Reichardt contested the absoluteness of that statement and then said – you see the image of a man and a dog out in some wilderness and it’s a picture of happiness. But this woman and her dog – people impose sadness and an incompleteness to her life. What’s that about? (Mic drop).

Somebody also asked about the future of the women – and Reichardt couldn’t answer that. As consumers we are used to narratives in which each character has trajectories, lessons to learn, things to over come – and these are stories that engage us but are removed from us in their perhaps unrealistic resemblance of  life. But Certain Women is glimpses of actual people. As if Reichardt just held a camera up to a moment in their lives. Individuals so complex in their nature how could you predict the choices that they would come to make.

After the Oscar’s funk, Reichardt and her film Certain Women reminded me exactly of why I’m doing this.

The screening was relatively small and didn’t pack out – which seemed bizarre for the price and the opportunity to listen to Reichardt – but there you go.

To sum up: Kelly Recihardt is basically a fucking genius. And Certain Women is a calm and powerful film full of relatable moments. Go watch it!

The Oscars (part one – frustration)

Blog, Film

The Oscars came and went – the time of year when gold figurines in the male form are given out to recognise “excellence in cinematic achievements”. Because what else could?

The people who decide who’s excellent are ‘the Academy’ – or AMPAS ‘the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ .

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(photo credit Marcin Wichary – creative commons)

The Academy doesn’t have a great track record of being representative of society – according to a Los Angeles times study in 2012 94% of its members were white, 77% were male and 86% were aged 59 or older. And of the 43 people sitting on the board of governors – only six were female and Cherly Boone Isaacs doubled up as the only person of colour.

Looking back at the nominees this year – no women were nominated in the categories of animation, cinematography, direction, editing or sound mixing. There were a smattering of women across the board but there weren’t nearly enough considering 50% of people have a vagina.

And whose to blame? While it’s easy and tempting to blame the AMPAS members – and they aren’t excusable – they are only one part, one solitary body amid the giant complex mass of problematic universe surrounding and shaping them.

Since starting this project – my world is shifting, contorting and repositioning itself. I wasn’t known for being particularly optimistic about equality, but the reality I now see really is a lot worse than I had even imagined. I wanted this project to be a positive and constructive outlet for my frustration – but things are looming larger than they ever have before.

Our inequality as women is the entire great mass of our human history culminating in our current existence. And you can evidence it in each part – it will be there, in some manifestation or form. It’s in the gold male figurines, it’s in the board of governors, it’s in the funding awarded, it’s in the choices young women make. It’s in the promotion somebody else got, it’s the leg up, the hand held out, the old traditions – it’s in the frameworks we’ve been told to accept.

It flourishes in the bias of men and women, unbeknown to them. Its expectations are pulling down the very open sky to rest itself as a leaden weight on the shoulders of, women. That ceiling – they patronisingly coax us to crack.

And yes, let’s realise how fucking bad it is. And realise it’s everywhere. And call out that person who insists, ‘but we are equal!’.

And then let’s look forward to think about how we can make positive change, because we need to. And it is happening.

Organisations such as ‘women in film’, ‘agnes film’, ‘women make movies’ and ‘EWA’ financially, professionally ad practically aim to support women in the field and they will be integral in bridging the gap and bringing about a nomination list that actually in some way resembles our society.

Women supporting women will be how we bridge the gap.

I didn’t watch the oscars – this year I wasn’t able to watch the majority of films nominated. But a few (very few) things did get the all clear and I’ve either already enjoyed them or will be soon:

  • 13th, documentary directed by Ava DuVernay
  • 4.1 Miles, short documentary directed by Daphne Matziaraki
  • Toni Erdmann – foreign language film directed by Maren Ade

 

Hopefully this list will be significantly longer next year.

Waad Al-Kateab – camerawoman in East Aleppo

Blog, TV, Women to love

If anyone has watched Channel 4 News in the last year they’ll have seen Waad Al-Kateab’s footage.

She was commissioned to film the life that was left for the people of Eastern Aleppo and in doing so she became Eastern Aleppo’s messenger to the world.

As Channel4 put it ‘all year Waad has provided dozens of outstanding reports that have led and dominated our programme, and have now been viewed hundreds of millions of times by people around the world’.

She lived there with her daughter Sama, less than a year old, and her husband, a Syrian Surgeon. Both herself and her husband risked their lives each day – and while doing so she provided an unflinching testimony and objective record of what was happening to her people. Both Waad as a journalist, and her husband as one of around 35 doctors left in the city  would have been coveted by the Syrian government.

A lot of the footage captured was within Eastern Aleppo’s largest remaining hospital, al-Quds. And the edited shorts juxtapose Aleppo’s streets, in which the Syrian people were relentlessly attacked, and the inside of the hospital, in which lives were desperately trying to be saved.

This juxtaposition is perhaps no where clearer than in the edited short ‘the barrel bomb baby‘. As the Syrian government and Russian forces bombed the city continuously  – Waad filmed the doctor’s trying to save a pregnant woman and her unborn child.  After the mother had been badly injured from a barrel bomb* and had shrapnel in her stomach.

She films despite there being 200 airstrikes in one day. She films as the Syrian goverment and Russian forces bomb the food markets, water supplies, hospitals, medical storage facilities, convoys delivering aid and finally Al Queds hospital itself – where nurses, patients, doctors and Aleppo’s last paediatrician were killed.

This is when the Syrian goverment and Russian forces said they were bombing terrorist targets.

And then there is the grief of those left behind. Outside of the hospital Waad films a gardener, Abu-Ward, and his son, Ibrahim. She tells the story of Abu-Ward’s devotion to his craft and in doing so captures the resilience of the Syrian people. But when Abu-Ward is killed during an airstrike – the short becomes a window into the silent grief of a devoted son who asks Waad ‘what do you want me to do?’.

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(footage from film)

As the western world became obsessed with Trump’s next Tweet, in the city of Aleppo the East was finally taken by the government forces. Waad documented Aleppo’s final days in the last remaining hospital and then filmed the final hospital itself being bombed. And then came the influx of patients struggling to breath from chlorine gas – a chemical weapon.

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(photo Waad Al-Kateab took)

You can watch all of Waad Al-Kateab’s footage here as part of Channel4’s Inside Aleppo. Along with a written narrative and  a timeline of the events that took place there.

On 1 March 2017 the United Nations Commisson of Inquiry’s report said the Syrian government and allied Russian forces have committed war crimes – a fact that wouldn’t have needed verification for Waad and the Syrian people.

Waad was awarded two amnesty international media awards for television news and best new journalist. But trapped inside Eastern Aleppo at the time and unable to accept the awards, she gave these words to be read out in her absence:

“Maybe this will be my last letter to you and to the world. I am in the most dangerous city in the world and only today 30 barrel bombs and 100 artillery shells fell on my neighbourhood (al-Sukkari). I wanted to be with you but the siege of the city prevented that. I am just one individual among the 270,000 people who live under this siege. The only thing that’s available in this city is air, but this air, most of the time, is polluted with poisonous gases and chlorine. We are not the only city in Syria under siege and our salvation will not be achieved only by the lifting of this siege or halting the bombing, but with the fall of the Assad regime and getting our freedom and dignity as Syrians. I would have liked for my lens and my colleagues’ lenses to give you the complete picture of Aleppo, but we are helpless in front of the horrors of annihilation that the Russians and the regime are enjoying in this ancient city. This is a perished city called Aleppo. And all its people are asking you to remember your humanity.”

But we, in the western world, didn’t do that.

Waad and her family are now, miraculously, safe in London.  She is a true heroine – I fall short of words worthy to describe her.

*(Definition by Google) A barrel bomb is an improvised unguided bomb, sometimes described as a flying IED (improvised explosive device). They are typically made from a large barrel-shaped metal container that has been filled with high explosives, possibly shrapnel, oil or chemicals as well, and then dropped from a helicopter or airplane.

 

Songbirds – a night of female musicians (and Sula Mae)

Blog, Music, Women to love

‘Celebrating women in Music’ was the tagline and it definitely delivered.

Last weekish I went to a night at 93 Feet East organised by Laid Bare records who, with the upcoming International Women’s day in mind, took the opportunity to showcase and celebrate their female musicians.

They were also promoting Take Her Name – a campaign which aims to highlight the inequality in the music industry by asking male musicians to show solidarity with female artists, and change their names on social media to a female version on Wednesday (IWD).

All the ladies that played are definitely worth checking out if you’re in and around London (I’ve included links at the bottom). But, truthfully, all this was a brilliant coincidence – because I was really there as the label had recently signed one of my best friends,  Sula Mae.

She headlined the night and she was perfect. Her music is a crash of soul, jazz and pop slathered on delicious beats and crinkly ukulele and keys. And, something often over looked, her stage chat really is the best. She was a sparkling sensation and I’m pretty sure she stole the heart of each person watching her.

It was made more mega as I’d seen her, for the last ten years, work her ass off. She’s made difficult decisions. Sacrifices – professionally, socially and financially.  Hundreds of hours, miles, gigs and pounds in the pan. And, though it’s not been easy nor does it ever seem to be, she has always found a way to stay strong – and stay bloody brilliant.

It was a special feeling to see all that work come together – and to see it all having made her the artist she is today. She’d never been better.

But the struggle is real y’all – let’s all support each other.

Go and check her out! This song is the bomb and a good place to start.

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The rest of the ladies:

Bee Bakare – is a Nigera born soul singer and songwriter whose voice completely floors you. She’s just won  the Future Music Songwriting competition and is certainly someone you’d want to keep up with.

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Polly Money Music – is a younger singer songwriter and musician whose whose confidence and clever lyrics leave you dazzled.

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Autumnmusic – worked serious magic on the keys, pedals and with her voice to create a mesmerising sound.

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Eilsa Imperilee – her haunting voice covers soft beats to create chill out tunes.

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And there was the fab and fun Jennifer Crothers who was dj’ing between the acts.

Record Store Fail

Blog, Music

So a few weeks ago a very handsome man I know (wink) bought me a beautiful record player.

And not one of those Crosley suitcase ones – that are strangely confusing and pushed by Urban Outfitters. This was a Audio-Technica masterpiece..

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I think a lot of us have the record player dream – and I was glee filled that mine had now come true. (Thank you handsome man, who is much more than just handsome.)

So I told myself, ‘now begins the long awaited mystical journey of collecting records‘.

And I set out that weekend, optimism in hand, to take my first steps on that enchanting road. I had visions of me flicking through the LP’s – looking as cool as a cucumber – while my cumbersome and flighty heart crept out of its chest,  flopped all over the records, and lead me to some new heavenly dream music.

Ahh the sweet optimism of ignorance.

So here  I am, out strolling, throwing in a skip and a jump, smiling at the sky, noticing the wonderful London skyline and I’m heading to two record stores nearby.

Then around 45minutes later I’m trundling home with my heart practically in tatters. Trying not to scowl too much at strangers nor feel too much anger towards a record shop owner who was really just living his own dream and being himself – even though I found ‘himself’ to be a bit of an ass.

So what happened? The first shop was more of a record exchange store – so when the only women I could find were R&B artists who’s albums I already had (and didn’t really have a burning desire to get Jamelia’s first album on vinyl). I felt knocked down but still optimistic.

The second store I was headed to sold things from new – so I still had some good strong positive wind in my sails.

Oh no did the rocks come up out of the surf, capsize the boat and crack those masts clean in half.

In the second shop, I’m perusing and I’m thinking – ‘hang on a moment, there’s not a woman in sight!!?’

After perseverance I noticed that tucked away in a corner of the store was a section called ‘Female Singer Songwriters’ taglined with ’60’s, 70’s, 80’s’. It had 12 LPs in it – 6 of which were Joni Mitchell albums. It had Joanna Newsom who wasn’t 60’s, 70’s or 80’s so I could only conclude that this was just the place in the shop were female artists got cooped.

Slightly dumfounded I gave the place a thorough go over and did find some Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone – but that was it. In this ‘Record Store’, filled with thousands of LPs, there was maybe an optimistic grand total of twenty that I’d be able to listen to this year. It was an unexpectedly emotionally overwhelming realisation – and felt pretty much like crap pants.

As I paid for my Joni Mitchel I was served by a young woman and I asked her ‘how do you feel about the size of the women’s section and the limited women in stock?’

At this point the store owner, hearing my question, sidles over – chest puffed out, obnoxious grin (in hindsight) and says ‘Women’s section! – I didn’t even know we had a women’s section!’. To this I responded nothing, and turned back to the woman I was talking to.

The woman looked fairly embarrassed and said the two guys that run the shop don’t really listen to her.

At which point he guffawed and said ‘yeah, we only let her listen to what she wants on her birthday!’.

I again turned back to the woman who explained the store worked on a recommendation basis – and they didn’t take hers. She didn’t say it in a catty way, she wasn’t having ‘banter’ and joining in with her hilarious boss. She was quiet, humble and serious.

I left the store feeling shitty and confused.

I think having a record player is going to be more complicated than I thought.

I guess record stores do become personal to their owners, and in a  way they are extensions of those owner’s curated record collections. For some reason these guys didn’t really value music made by women and ‘weren’t’ receiving recommendations for their LP’s in store. (But that’s some bullshit).

So now, I’m on a hunt for some different/better people with different/better music taste who have their own different/better record stores. If you can recommend any in London – please give me a shout.

Mitski, Mitski – I love Mitski

Blog, Music, Women to love

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Not only is her music objectively amazing – but she is just seriously so cool.

About Mitski (from what I can discern): She’s Japanese and American and she sings and plays the guitar. She released her first two albums on her own (Retired from Sad, News Career in Business 2013 and Lush 2012). And since has released two more albums which everyone agrees are just the absolute shit (Bury Me Out at Makeout Creek 2014 and Puberty II 2016).

I first came across Mitski when my friend sent me a link to the music video for Happy. I was baffled and also instantly taken.

The songs opening is strangely uncomfortable/borderline unbearable – which is then juxtaposed with this killer sweet voice entering that’s saying all the truths in all the right ways. And just when you think you’ve got the lay of the land – in hits a giant, clamouring fan fare, obnoxious and demanding.  Pretty much within the first thirty seconds of just one of Mitski’s songs all your previous musical understanding is in tatters and your brain is completely stretched in mesmorised glory!

I listened to Happy repeatedly for a while and it took me a while to venture beyond it – but as I’ve slowly absorbed more, the more emphatic about Mitski I’ve become.

For me, the enjoyment of Mitski’s music is it’s dangerously playful marriage of barely comfortable gigantic sound with the sweetness of her voice and melodies. She also appears completely fearless – she’s all there in all of it. It gives the impression of complete exposure. In my head I see her vividly ‘being’ and ‘creating’ – she’s 4D and technicolour. Her lyrics also, while feeling unique compared to other artists and unique in their honest recounts of a singular experience, feel powerfully relatable.

She’s making music like I’ve never heard and she’s saying things honestly in a way we all should be doing a lot more of all the time. Go and get her!

Here’s three track recommendations – if you do fancy getting your feet wet.

1. Your Best America Girl – this track is off the newest album and
seems to have everyone talking. It appears an account/working through of Mitski’s feelings towards her dual heritage as she sings ‘Your mother wouldn’t approve of, how my mother raised me – but I do, I think I do’. Boom!

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2. Townie – this is off the album Bury Me Out at Makeout Creek.  It sings of the coming of age moments where you’re defying imposed expectations and exploring your sexuality as a young woman – while also painfully becoming aware of the imposed restrictions that sexuality gives you. ‘And change, change, change is gonna come but when, when, when’ she sings. The video is also directed and animated by super cool Faye Orlove who really should have her own post..

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3. First Love/Late Spring – again from album Bury Me Out at Makeout Creek – is one of my  personal favourites. This is such a beautiful track in so many ways. It speaks to all of us at that stage of meeting someone special. It’s that moment when you teter on the edge of giving in to ‘love’ but can’t quite understand exactly what’s happened to your brain. And can’t seem to enjoy it either! ‘Wild woman don’t get the blues, but lately I’ve been crying like a tall child’.

I love ya Mitski – and I mean it.

Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe is my new universe

Blog, TV, Women to love

If you enjoy watching anime or cartoons  then I’d highly, highly recommend Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe.

I’m now 73 blissful episodes into my Steven Universe adventure and I’m in love.

The show is a mega mix of fantasy and reality with Steven at it’s centre – a boy coming of age as half human and half ‘crystal gem’. The crystal gems are a group of bad ass women, who empathise with us mere mortals enough to have vowed to protect our way of life on earth.

Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, is the first woman to have had an independently created series on Cartoon Network (side note: argh barmy). And there are rumours in the mill that, according to Google Trends, Steven Universe has now become the flagship show on the network – probably because it’s SUPER BRILLIANT. It’s also been nominated for two Emmy Awards and five Annie Awards (animation awards).

The characters are super unique and it’s genuinely exciting to watch them ‘be’ and ‘do’ within the varying landscapes and situations they find themselves in as the series unfolds. Details of their lives and pasts are quietly woven into the fabric of the story and you quickly become aware each character has their own special cognitive spinning blocks which affect how they go about being cool. Watching Steven Universe and its characters grow fonder and fonder of each other in turn makes you more and more fond of them. There’s so much love and endless good vibes in the show.

Aesthetically, the show is a pleasure to watch – the colours and tones Sugar uses alongside the intricate and varying fantasy worlds the gems find themselves in create a mega viewing experience .

Steven Universe is also jam packed with music and songs that effortlessly become a part of the story being told. You only have to listen to the opening theme tune to get a feel for the DELIGHTFULNESS that awaits you.

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Interestingly, and also annoyingly, the show was censored by Cartoon Network during a scene in which Pearl and Rose ‘fuse’. Fusion is a super sexy way of gems getting together to create super gems that are even more badass and even more capable. Click here to enjoy (in full) the moment the network partially censored.

But this is just an example of another great reason to watch the show as it’s been applauded for it’s LGBT themes/just general good loving of all things theme. Sugar has apparently said she draws from her own experiences of growing up as a bisexual woman to create the story. Funnily enough the day I wrote this blog post, Steven Universe was nominated for a GLAAD media award – which means the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation want to applaud Steven Universe for it’s outstanding representation of of the LGBT community – bloody fab!

 And there’s a giant pink lion that can open up portals to different places.

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So if you’re into feeling mega happy – give it a watch!