Review: On Connection, Kae Tempest

Published in The Observer October 25, 2020

Kae Tempest has added one more string to an already crowded bow: On Connection is the first nonfiction work by this Mercury prize-winning musician, Ted Hughes award-winning poet, acclaimed playwright, novelist, and chief creative chronicler of the last decade. It’s also Tempest’s first publication since changing their name from Kate, and using they/them pronouns.

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How Björk has helped me heal from heartbreak

Published in BBC Culture August 21, 2020

We often hear about break-up albums – records made by artists in the throes of heartbreak, destined to be listened to on repeat by fans when they have their own wounds to lick. But there’s also a lesser-recognised musical phenomenon: the putting-yourself-back-together record.

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One to watch: Sofia Kourtesis

Published in The Observer March 1, 2020

Listen to the opening number of the Peruvian-born producer Sofia Kourtesis’s first, self-titled EP, and you imagine a train made of rackety sonic junk clattering down a track. Its destination? A good time, surely: while her brand of house may be arrestingly distinct, clicking and juddering with distorted vocals and fragments of field recordings, she always keeps her eyes firmly on the dancefloor rather than the navel.

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How Britain is facing up to its hidden slavery history

Published in BBC Culture February 3, 2020

If we hear at all about Britain’s involvement in slavery, there’s often a slight whiff of self-congratulation – for abolishing it in 1833, 32 years ahead of the US, where the legacy of slavery is still more of an open wound. Less well known, however, is the enormous cost of this decision for the taxpayer – the British government spent £20 million, a staggering 40% of its budget in 1833, to buy freedom for slaves.

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Review: Green Man Festival

Published in The Independent August 19, 2019

Now in its 17th year, Green Man festival sold out again in record time. But it’s easy to see why revellers loyally return year after year – and it’s not just for the music. Set in one of the most beautiful festival sites in the UK, on the Glanusk estate in south Wales, its outdoor stages are framed by the Black Mountains.

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Cate Le Bon: ‘I’d play piano to stop thinking about chairs’

Published in the i May 23, 2019

Cate Le Bon has spent just over a decade carving her own musical niche, via surreal lyrics sung in a deep, deadpan voice, angular guitar parts and wonky, ear-snagging melodies. I’m meeting her ostensibly to talk about her fifth album, Reward. Instead, we’re chatting about furniture.

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The Ryan Adams revelations are all too familiar. Time’s up for the tortured male genius myth

Published in The Independent February 15, 2019

“To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly.” So tweeted Ryan Adams when The New York Times article on the singer-songwriter’s alleged sexual misconduct and manipulative behaviour towards women was published this week. His forthcoming album has been pulled; he’s reportedly being investigated by the FBI over the allegations that he exchanged explicit messages with an underage girl.

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It’s a Theater, With Craft Beer and D.J.s Until 6 a.m.

Published in The New York Times February 3, 2019

The stage filled with women in Princess Diana masks, smashing VHS cassettes with hammers. A dancer wove her way through a bar, muttering about kittens. A figure wrapped in a filthy comforter emerged from a tent, crawling among clubbers dressed in fetish gear.

I wrote about The Yard – London’s only theater-slash-nightclub – for the New York Times. You can read the full piece here.