Sunday, 23 April 2017

Eggcentric: An interview with artist Kirsty Cooper


Artist Kirsty Cooper looking cool and quirky

Last weekend I bumped into eccentric young artist Kirsty Cooper at a local exhibition aiming to celebrate and boost promising creative talent. I was looking at her painting 'egg 1', admiring it's slight absurdity when Kirsty appeared and we got talking. Kirsty's creativity shines through her conversations, her ideas are bursting with lively zest and fascinating concepts, this artist certainly has a lot of interesting things to say.

'Egg 1' by Kirsty Cooper

After asking what exactly her artwork is all about and her ideas behind them, she replied:

"the egg is an egg, born into the world, untouched, so pure. My art is like egg. It is egg".

After this reply I could see why some people may get the impression that Kirsty is slightly mad. But then again, geniuses are supposedly slightly bonkers, especially the ones in the art world.

Her latest art collection aims to contrast the egg, which is symbolic of pure nature, with the constructive ways of human kind.

"The egg is really just a metaphor for the pure nature of things and how we as a human race destroy these natural things as we are destructive by nature and just generally all wankers"

I found this funny and realized she was right, we are all just wankers.

'Egg drifting' by Kirsty Cooper

"So what inspires you to get creative?"

"I'll usually just be sat in my flat watching TV when a light bulb just goes off in my head. I'll just suddenly get ideas. They just come to me. Once I got an idea for a painting in a dream I had about a screaming elephant chasing me down an infinite white corridor"

It sounded like an interesting dream and I was thinking how much I would like to see the painting inspired by it but I soon asked her another few questions.

"Have you always been creative?"

"Yes, ever since I was really young. In first school I drew this really abstract drawing and it was really mad and colourful and the teachers were amazed by it for some reason. They then encouraged me to get into art as I enjoyed it, I was a messy kid, got paint all up the kitchen wall once and all over the dog. Don't know how I managed that!"

Kirsty and I bonded and I soon found myself sharing a couple of drinks with her and a few of her friends in the art world. After discussing my love of art, cartoons and illustrations with the creative crowd I asked Kirsty another question before we all got too pissed.

'Egg 2' by Kirsty Cooper

"What do you think about modern art?"

"Modern art is just really cool and abstract you know. Ok, some of it is a little too abstract for my eyes but the majority of it makes me think and really gets my attention. I go to the Tate Modern and I see art with paint splats and everything and I'm thinking a child could do that piece of rubbish! But there are some bloody brilliant artists out there now and they're all so inventive. Just the sight of all these inventive pieces makes me want to run into an abyss of paint and start creating the wackiest thing I can come up with"

Kirsty certainly has a point here. The times of intricate studies of bowls of fruit is essentially behind us and an influx of new innovative artists has arrived bringing colorful palettes, strange sculptures and rather abstract pieces to the forefront. Modern art isn't for everyone but it's got a certain zeal to it which allows you to escape from the rather bland routines and monotony of everyday life.

'Egg stubbed' by Kirsty Cooper

This young and gleaming artist with high hopes may soon be featured in the Tate Modern, so look out for her artwork!


Thursday, 20 April 2017

A Weekend with a Band: Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll

Last weekend I got to experience the life of local punk rock band "The Jammy Dodgers". Lead singer Josh had invited me to stay at the band's flat after we had met and had a couple of drinks one Saturday evening at a small festival in London. As the band's name suggests, they are brilliantly crazy and full to the brim with energy, my weekend with "The Jammy Dodgers" can only be described as completely bonkers. I got to interview the members, watch rehearsals and see what it's like to play at a gig.

Lead Singer Josh of the Jammy Dodgers in the flat
I turned up to "The Jammy Dodgers" HQ, or should I say a run down flat in the center of town, not quite sure what to expect. The band introduced themselves and I was soon welcomed into their busy lives, sat on a threadbare sofa in the front room as cups of tea were made. "Got any jammy dodgers to go with this?" I asked as we all had our cuppas. The band members were hilariously funny and crazy as I have always imagined rock bands to be, I was definitely not disappointed in any way. Drummer Scott and bassist Emma were helping themselves to a line of coke on the glass coffee table as Josh the singer put one of the band's tracks on for me to hear. Being a guitarist and music fanatic myself, I could appreciate their music and rather enjoyed it, the hard hitting lyrics backed up by the heavy instrumental which was catchy and sometimes rather experimental was promising and I could see that this band, who are only young, seemed to have talent beyond any of the rubbish being played on Radio 1.

Cigarettes and alcohol kept us going through the night
"The Jammy Dodgers" consists of 4 members: Singer Josh, guitarist Cassie, drummer Scott and bassist Emma. These 4 young band members seemed to relish the rock and roll life style, almost as if they were trying to replicate Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger or any other rock stars who have their fair share of drugs and riots. Jagger himself said "you start playing rock and roll to have sex and do drugs" but I don't think the members of The Jammy Dodgers are in it just to have sex and do drugs, they are in it for the love and passion of music, something they made clear during the interview I had the pleasure of doing with them. 

Singer Josh: "Yeah we're not in it for the sex and drugs, that's just an extra part of it, it's just something that goes with it you know? We started this band for the music, we all love music and creating music and that's what we want to do".

"Do you want to become major stars in the world of music?"

Guitarist Cassie: "Yeah why not. It would be great to be famous. How F***** great would that be? As big as the f****** Beatles or Led Zep and all that sh**. Marvelous stuff that, yeah I'd like to be on the front cover of NME, even though NME are c***s". She liked to swear an awful lot, but her reply did make me laugh.

"So what do you think of current mainstream music?"

Drummer Scott: "Load of s****"
Singer Josh: "Yeah, it's just a load of self absorbed c***s trying to get famous and rich, getting expensive music videos where they get naked and s***. It all sounds the same to me, every time I turn on Radio 1 I hope I'll hear a good original song but nah it's just all the same stuff, playing it safe, same old beats and same style of singing and the lyrics don't have any meaning. It's just really pointless, stupid stuff".

I agreed with everything Josh said, I thought he was right and I think even the groupies who had now entered the room and started smoking knew he was right too. At this point I realized that everything happening around me seemed outdated, the rock and roll life style looked ridiculous in the modern age, almost like it should stay in the 70s but there was something also very refreshing about it. It was nice to see some artists speaking their mind, not giving a toss, living in a state of careless rebelliousness when most artists these days care too much about how other people perceive them.

"So what it is about the punk rock genre you like?"

Bassist Emma: "It's different. Nothing like this is being done at the present moment, well I'm sure it is but we're not hearing much of it. We all just really like the punk rock sound, I've always been a fan of rock, especially British rock bands. Never really liked pop or heavy rock. Punk rock suits us well, we self produce our recordings, we're the rebellious youth who aren't influenced by all the mainstream s****. Punk rock tends to have stripped down instrumental, I could just tell you we like punk rock because it's easy to play but actually we try and make the instrumental a bit more complex, a bit less simple, but sometimes simple is good isn't it? No need to over do stuff and make it all fancy, just make good music".

Drinks all round. (Bassist Emma on right with friends) at the after gig party. 

"How did you all meet and form the band?"

Scott: "Now this is a long story"
Josh: "Yeah, This is a long one! Brace yourself. So we were at Glastonbury actually. All with our own separate parties. And I'd just seen Muse play that night on the Pyramid stage. It was bloody brilliant but I was so drunk, I started to walk back to my tent but got lost and ended up falling over in the mud, Cassie came over and helped me up as she was slightly more sober than me, I was completely out of it, and she asked me where my tent was didn't you Cass?"
Cassie: [laughing] Yeah and you replied 'In Narnia, Narnia, with the cows'"
Josh: [laughs] "yeah, so Cass takes me back to her tent and Scott is there too, and he gets me a sleeping bag and everything, and Cass has her guitar with her, she plays a few tunes and I suddenly start singing along, and Scott pretends he's drumming and then Emma appears and she's pissed too"
Emma: "Yeah and I'm like bloody hell, this is some nice s*** their playing and I sit with them, I couldn't find my tent either, it was dark and my tent was in the far field, so I sit with them and once Josh was sobered up we sort of connected didn't we?"
Scott: "Yeah we just bonded, got on really well, had a laugh and Josh sounded good even when he was pissed, next morning we woke up and decided to start a band, because we'd seen all these bands at the festival and we were like yeah, we want to be like them, we want to be on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. So we planned to meet the following week and from there we got the band together".

It's possibly one of the best band formation stories I've heard so far. This band had connected straight away through a love of music at possibly the best festival in Britain. They had the right sort of idea from the start, I just hoped they would continue the raw energy they had when they first formed, most bands seem to fight and squabble but they all seemed genuinely happy to be in each other's company, there had been no arguments yet. And although Josh, the lead singer was at the front of the band, he encouraged the other members to contribute. This was nice to see, as most bands usually have an egocentric singer stealing the limelight.

"What bands/ singers are you influenced by?"

"The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, Pearl Jam, Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banshees, the Damned. We also really like the Britpop bands like Blur and Elastica, yeah they were cool. we like that British sound and the hard edged melodies and yeah, we look up to those bands, but we don't put them on pedestals. We don't want to be like them, we want to be successful like them, with our own style you know?".

And I did know exactly what they meant. After the rather enjoyable and lively interview with the band members, I got to jam with the band and witness them in full rehearsal before a gig at the popular local pub who are always welcoming bands onto their stage. A good turnout was expected, with word of mouth getting out that there was a "fresh, new rock band in town". In rehearsals they seemed to play the songs with energy and ease, the groupies and I loving every second of it as we lay back, had a cig and admired the music. After an interesting ordeal with one of the groupies and a large intake of alcohol we need not get into, the band, it's followers and I headed out to the local pub for the gig.

Guitarist Cassie having a good time partying. It was a long night!

The kit was set up and the band was ready and buzzing to go with only a few pre- gig nerves. I sat at the table with the locals who had come to see the band and have a pint, the band were excellent as predicted and blew the pub goers away. This band looked promising, the lyrics were meaningful, the guitar riffs were excellent, the bass was heavy and the drums were perfectly in rhythm. I realized that this punk rock genre may not be to everyone's taste, the older generation seemed to enjoy it less, but nonetheless, the turnout was great and many of the pub goers enjoyed the different style and raw, hard edged sound of the Jammy Dodgers.

That night we all went back to the flat and stayed up partying, celebrating and drinking an awful lot to celebrate the successful gig. It's a weekend I won't forget. The Jammy Dodgers are a good laugh and I'm sure i'll be seeing them a lot more, whether it be at another after- gig party or on the stage at Glastonbury.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Music These Days... (A very Passionate Rant about the Music Industry, a Corrupt Generation and Ridiculous Artists)

Music these days is pretty rubbish. And I don't mean to sound like a 'special snowflake' or whatever but let's be honest here, it is a bit rubbish compared to previous generations. Ok, there is some great music out there and I'll respect it and listen to it, but there quite frankly isn't enough of that good music. The music on  radio 1... some rap with a rubbish generic beat with lyrics about going to the club and having a good time. Boring, stupid, already been done a thousand times. There's nothing unique... well there must be, but it's certainly not on the mainstream radio. Which leads me to the conclusion that people who have pure, raw talent and should be recognized for that talent aren't being recognized because ridiculous artists like Drake, Bieber, Grande, Swift and all the rest of them are taking the spotlight with music which (in my opinion) isn't even particularly good. Ok, it's catchy music but is it musical genius? Definitely not.

Why aren't people like the amazingly talented guitarists I've seen on Youtube getting recognition? Why aren't the unique singers who sing about things with meaning getting recognition? Why aren't the people with amazing instrumental experimentation and amazing song writing/ composing skills getting recognition? Maybe it's because the stupid bands and singers like Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, The 1975 are being supported by (mostly) young girls who think they are 'cool' and 'hot' and 'soo amazing'. No they really aren't. These girls should be listening to proper music! The music created by geniuses! The music with proper, meaningful lyrics! Not the music with lyrics about sexual objectification and first dates and kissing and having lovely sex. And it all has no musical experimentation, it's just monotone, always the same sort of instrumental backing or beat or whatever. This is really making me angry. All you girls and boys out there who are listening to this (insert swear word) need to broaden your music knowledge and your mind and find some proper band to listen to. Or pick up an electric guitar and start your own band, don't just listen to these artists who are swimming in the cash you spend on them because they are all you've ever heard on the radio so you think they are cool. Wow, I'm really going on a rant here aren't I? Well I've got reason to.

Music isn't what it used to be. The people with pure talent aren't being recognized. X Factor is (insert swear word here). It's not giving the proper artists a chance. All the mainstream stuff is fake, artificially made by people with big money record deals, producing the same old stuff with the same old beats that they know will make the charts because gullible people will listen to it. And then there are the music videos showing boobs and abs and ass and people with tops off just to get famous... what the bloody hell is happening to this society? Why do people feel the need to whip their top off for a music video? Why aren't there more music videos with a story or thought provoking images? It's shambolic. Shambolic! And I'm annoyed that the majority of adults think that teenagers like me actually like the music in the charts. No, I really don't. And I would much rather be growing up with the music you grew up with. Your music inspired a generation, the 60s, 70s and 80s may have been a bit corrupt but at least the music was a sort of way of rebellion, the youth rebelling against all the corruptness and alienation through the uniting and amazing thing that is music. I'm annoyed that other people my age listen to the mainstream artists and actually worship them like they are gods or goddesses when there are much better artists out there that need to be worshiped as they really are the musical geniuses with the real talent. No one likes a smartass, but we all like stars. And it all just goes to show how corrupt society is now.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Teenage Years: A bit Rubbish

Ah, the teenage years of your life... so fun, exciting, full of partying and good times with your best friends, wasting your life away without a care in the world... 

Or just utter c***.

The older generation seem to think the teenage years are the best years of your life. My fellow teens and I thoroughly disagree with that. Because, after all, your teenage years are really just a mess of expectations, hormones, puberty, other teens being bitchy and mean, annoying parents, 'love' and rejection, a lack of independence, trying to find an identity and being hated on by the media. 

We get told to grow up one minute and act like adults then when we do we are told to act our age and enjoy being young. The teenage years are just this void of your life where you are stuck in the middle of being a kid and an adult... you don't know who you are anymore or what it is you should do with your life which stretches out in front of you like a strange and desolate road. You are just there, like floating particles in a galaxy of moving planets and stars. 

Yeah, we have to deal with those completely mental things called hormones as well which doesn't help the whole teenage crisis. And there's always going to be a load of ridiculous drama when you are a teen. You only need to watch an episode of 'Skins' to realize that being a teenager is a horrible, horrible time of heartbreak, bitchiness, fallouts, unrequited love, love which goes wrong, dodgy parties, dodgy alcohol and dodgy drugs. Ok, maybe Skins is a bit of an exaggeration of the normal teen's life. I for one have never been to a club and got completely off my face on drugs and alcohol. 

A lot of bad things happen on the teen drama show 'Skins'...
this show does not make teen life look good.
But the teen years are a time where everyone is a bit mean to each other, a lot of judging goes on and there's a lot of 'putting people into boxes'. You're either cool or uncool and popular or unpopular, you can't just be a bit of both and say you're 'a bit cool and a bit popular'. You're either In or you're Out, a bit like the EU referendum where you couldn't say 'yeah I'm just a bit out of the EU'. And in these teenage years you are just discovering the magical and slightly crazy thing called love. Yes, love, when you desperately want to sleep with that boy or girl you saw at school, when people start to get boyfriends or girlfriends and fall in love, make decisions about who they love or just get into a load of sticky heartbreak and rejection. 

And you'd think your parents would have some understanding of all this and perhaps try and be a bit nicer to you and help you out... because after all, these are the worst years of your life, but actually they have no clue what the bloody hell you are going through and even manage to make things a lot harder than they already are as things were apparently 'easier' in their day, 'none of this technology or important exams'. They tell you that you should help more around the house, do the washing up etc but they also want you to study for your exams, get good grades and get out there and get a job. And all this time you're also trying to work out who you are, what career path you should go down and what it is you want to do with your life after you leave school. 

This picture is fake. School is not a happy time. There is a lot 
of boring revision and pressure to get good exam grades. 
You are expected and told to get good grades and go to university or you'll be working in the greasy pits of McDonalds when in reality grades aren't the be all end all and you should really just do what makes you happy. Then you are constantly being told not to do this, not to do that, don't swear or you'll go to your room etc. And when you do stay in your room your parents will ask 'why do you just stay in your room? Why don't you come downstairs and talk to us?'. So you go downstairs and try and join in with the rest of the family but your heads just too messed up, going through too much and you find it boring when they're just sat there watching the chase and you'd rather just be in your room listening to your music and doing whatever it is you want to do, not sat on the sofa watching tv next to your family. 

Then when you go on your phone they will ask what you are doing on it, why you're always on the bloody thing. You're on it because it's an escape from the tedious routine and reality of life and because it allows you to talk to people you actually want to talk to! Not your parents who just want to talk about the bloody price of a joint of beef or what we should have for dinner or when your going to get a job or what you did at school which you try and leave at school and not bring home to the place you can just relax (or try to). It's all a bit rubbish when you're a teen but adults don't seem to understand this.
We are not all underage drinkers and we don't all do drugs.

Then you have the media, bombarding society with images such as a load of angry looking teens outside a corner shop carrying knives and a bottle of vodka and headliners like 'hoodies attack elderly again'. The media demonizes us, calls us 'hoodies', 'louts', 'scum' and make us all out to be thugs and dirty drug dealing, stealing criminals who don't respect their elders. When in fact, I know many teens who help out at charity shops and care homes therefore actually helping society and contributing to it. But we get told we are the messed up, disordered generation only concerned with social media and selfies when half of us hate social media and are just as fed up with technology as our elders are. 

Oh yeah... and lets not forget the moody, stereotypical character 'Kevin the teenager' from the Harry Enfield comedy sketch show my parents take great delight in watching and saying that I act like that when I don't. Not all teenagers are moody, lazy, grumpy and horrible to their parents and not all teenagers are criminals. 

The stereotypical Kevin the teenager
I spoke to a 20 something year old the other day who said "Make the most of your school years... after school it gets a lot harder... I wish I was still a teenager". And this makes me think 'if my teen years are bloody horrible then what is my adult life going to be like?!' Is life just a downward slope from the moment you are born? No of course not, let's try and be optimistic here... I think the teenage years are definitely the worse years of your life so things can only get better. 

And as Kevin the teenager would say... 'It's so unfair!' 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

My Top 5 Films

1) Trainspotting

I recently re-watched this film after seeing that the second Trainspotting (T2) had come out with an enormous amount of hype and praise. I realized that all the buzz around Trainspotting is well deserved when I watched it again as what a masterpiece of British cinema it is. The opening scene captures you straight away and brings you into the wonderful world of Renton, a heroin addict trying to get his life back on track. The story has an intricate plot involving serious matters of drugs, stealing, pub brawls and a briefcase of money... and the characters are certainly interesting, by the end you'll probably grow to dislike, feel sorry for or even be fond of them. Complimenting the film and it's serious themes is the great witty British humour along with some great dialogue: 'It's shite being Scottish!'. The end scene is also marvelously brilliant, especially when the music for the scene is 'Born Slippy' by NUX which flatters the film immensely. At the end we are left guessing what Renton will do next and this, I suppose, is where T2 comes into play. Overall, the witty dialogue, the brilliant cinematic scenes such as the hilariously vile 'worst toilet in Scotland', the intricate plot and characters really do make Trainspotting a worthwhile watch. 

2) A clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, a well known cult classic, is one of those really stylish, arty films that will make you laugh and at the same time question what it is you just watched. The music in the film (consisting of some classical music and synth) and the hilarious and at times shockingly bizarre scenes of violence made this film rather enjoyable. This film follows the story of the childish yet brutal Alex, a juvenile delinquent who gets up to all sorts with his friends e.g. breaking into houses, beating people up and he goes through a strange journey of experimental treatment to try and cure him of his violence and anti- social behavior. This journey is rather amusing for the audience as we see the entertaining, comical dialogue and visual images of the film and it's characters. Possibly Stanley Kubrick's greatest film, A Clockwork Orange starts of with the well known scene of Alex and his 'droogs' (friends) sat in the Moloko milk bar drinking a nice glass of the old moloko plus (milk). Alex's unblinking gaze into the slow panning camera hooked me and I soon found myself submerged in the distopian England and the satire of the themes the film explored including behavioral conditioning, crime and punishment and the ridiculing of youth culture. This is a film you are unlikely to forget. 

3) A Fish named Wanda

Yes, another British film. These films really do make me proud to be British and 'A Fish Called Wanda' is an excellent display of the marvelous British sense of humour, wit and sarcasm. The 4 main characters, two Brits and two Americans all get involved in a plot involving a heist, Kevin Kline brings us an Oscar winning performance as Otto, the obnoxious American who hates the British. His character really is comic brilliance, especially when you contrast it with Cleese's stereotypical stuffy English behaviour and his awkwardly gangly movements. And most of the scenes are hilariously well done, including the scene where Otto gets run over by the cement roller and the scene where the character Ken can't stop stuttering. This film is not your usual double- cross jewel- thief escapade, this is a film of comedy genius, from the same people who wrote Monty Python, this will surely make you laugh. As a matter of fact, someone died because they were laughing at this film so much. 

4) A Shallow Grave

Yes, it's another Danny Boyle film but I must say this is his second best film (Trainspotting obviously being his best). 'A Shallow Grave' is a black comedy crime film which is really well shot and the dialogue is cleverly written and acted. We have a brilliant cast who completely portray the characters to near perfection, the plot is also clever with a few twists and turns here and there. This film is about three flat mates who get a fourth flat mate, settling on a man called Hugo which turns out to be a big mistake as he is soon found dead in his bedroom with a suitcase packed full with money under his bed. The trio decide to keep the money and from here we see them spiral into madness and abnormality. This film has the usual thriller cliches such as dark shadowy settings and suspicious detectives but it is not your typical tiring thriller film, it has a fast paced plot, no monotonous sub plotting or unnecessary character development and it has extremely realistic characters. The end of Shallow Grave is also brilliantly and shockingly done. It's a worth while watch. 

5) Inglourious Basterds

Lastly, a Tarantino film. I think 'Inglourious Basterds' is possibly his best film (shortly followed by Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill). Inglourious Basterds tells the story of a group of rebels fighting the nazis in France whilst a Jewish woman seeks revenge against the nazis who killed her family.  And yes, as you'd expect from a Tarantino film, it has a lot of violence in it but it's the sort of violence that brings you satisfaction, especially when you see Hitler get shot and an evil nazi general suffer as he gets a swastika carved into his head. In this film there are a lot of ingeniously tense, apprehensive scenes, for example, the bar scene which creates so much dramatic tension that you are on the edge of your seat viciously biting your nails as you know this scene probably won't end well and there will most likely be an all-out, exciting yet bloody Tarantino style shoot out. If you want a satisfyingly savage and shockingly powerful film then this is worth a watch. 

My Top 5 Films Part 2 coming soon. Hope you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment.