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.

Continue reading “How Björk has helped me heal from heartbreak”

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.

Continue reading “One to watch: Sofia Kourtesis”

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.

Continue reading “How Britain is facing up to its hidden slavery history”

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.

Continue reading “Review: Green Man Festival”

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.

Continue reading “Cate Le Bon: ‘I’d play piano to stop thinking about chairs’”

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.

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

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.

How LSD influenced Western culture

Published in BBC Culture on October 17, 2018

When you think of LSD, a very specific aesthetic probably leaps to mind: the psychedelic pink-and-orange swirls of the 60s; naked people with flowers in their hair; the shimmer of a sitar. After its psychedelic properties were accidentally discovered in the lab by Albert Hofmann in 1943, the drug was banned in the UK in 1966. LSD is still most strongly associated with hippies who embraced its mind-expanding properties. Continue reading “How LSD influenced Western culture”