The woman who could ‘draw’ music

Published in BBC Culture on May 30, 2017

Few people know Daphne Oram, but she helped shape the sounds, and songs, we listen to today. A pioneer of electronic music, she wrote Still Point – thought to be the world’s first composition which manipulates electronic sounds in real time – in 1949. In 1957, she set up the famous BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The same year, she began working on her Oramics machine, which turned graphical gestures into music: the user could ‘draw’ the sounds they wished to hear.

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When pop stars score theatre

Published in The Independent on October 31, 2016

“Look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” So opens Lazarus, a song on David Bowie’s final album Blackstar – and also the title of a stage musical sequel to The Man Who Fell To Earth, which premiered in New York last year before his death, and opens in London next week. Continue reading “When pop stars score theatre”

Talking pub politics with Charlotte Church

Published in Refinery29 on October 17, 2016

No-one would have predicted that the biggest hit at po-faced super-muso festival All Tomorrow’s Parties earlier this year would have been former “voice of an angel” Charlotte Church doing pop covers in a spangly leotard. But this is her latest project – her Late Night Pop Dungeon – and the Welsh singer absolutely smashed it: the crowd went wild for her band covering everything from En Vogue to Joy Division to Nine Inch Nails. Continue reading “Talking pub politics with Charlotte Church”

Review: Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight, Oval House

Published in What's on Stage on October 10, 2016

Let’s just say this now: this was a gig, and this is a gig review. It’s a shift in form that Christopher Brett Bailey – whose last show, the acclaimed This Is How We Die, concluded with noisy guitars – set out in a photocopied handout given to the audience, with earplugs. Continue reading “Review: Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight, Oval House”

Warpaint interview: ‘We don’t need a lead singer but we do need each other’

Published in The i on September 2, 2016

There’s always been a gap between Warpaint, the bouncing live band, and Warpaint, the downbeat foursome of their records. Meeting two of the American dream-pop/psych-rock group – bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and guitarist Theresa Wayman – they give the impression that both their fans, and the band themselves, have always preferred their more upbeat incarnation. Continue reading “Warpaint interview: ‘We don’t need a lead singer but we do need each other’”

Review: KlangHaus On Air, Royal Festival Hall

Published in What's on Stage on July 13, 2016

KlangHaus: On Air began life in an old animal hospital in Edinburgh two summers ago. Now, it’s arrived at the Royal Festival Hall, and offers a thrilling, sonic trip through a normally hidden roof space of that great brutalist building. Continue reading “Review: KlangHaus On Air, Royal Festival Hall”

On the rise and rise of the city day festival

Published in The Independent on June 29, 2016

You might be forgiven for thinking the UK had hit peak festival: every weekend from May to September offers a chance to lose yourself in a field. All summer long, train carriages are stuffed with damp tents, and newspapers stuffed pictures of girls in wellies. Continue reading “On the rise and rise of the city day festival”