Sunday, 30 December 2012

House Magazine # 23

The winter issue of HOUSE magazine is out now; the Science, Technology and Future issue. And there's a beautiful video of it being made, here.

VICTOR by Hasselblad

I edited VICTOR, the new photographic biannual from Hasselblad.

House Magazine # 22

Autumn's issue of House Magazine, the Photographic issue. Edited by me.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Kenny Everett - All In The Best Possible Taste

Tonight sees Kenny Everett receive the BBC4 biopic treatment, following the likes of Kenneth Williams and Sir Clive Sinclair in being dramatically immortalised. In some ways it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for Everett’s life to be dramatised as it lends itself so well to a narrative: feeble, artistic child, chafing against his working class upbringing, turned furious, boundary-pushing talent; arriving just in time to crest the wave of popular culture’s takeover and constantly rubbing shoulders with legendary cultural figures, but repeatedly prone to bouts of self sabotage. Having wrestled with his sexuality to the point of entering into a straight marriage, before eventually coming out and finding some kind of happiness, Everett was then swept away in the AIDS epidemic less than four years after his friend Freddie Mercury (who appears in the film as a sort of liberated Virgil to Ken’s more buttoned-up Dante).

As with all films of this nature now, the story is preceded by a warning that certain liberties may have been taken with the truth. But really, Everett’s story requires little colouring up. While the film has certain flaws – lead Oliver Lansley doesn’t quite nail Everett’s voice (a problem when he was such a unique aural presence) – it does a good job of capturing what was so exciting about him as a performer. Endlessly inventive both creatively and technologically, apparently hard wired to irritate anyone in a position of authority and genuinely anarchic, Everett doesn’t just seem weird with hindsight, but always seemed strangely out of step with the times. Apparently distrustful of the communal piety of the sixties pirate radio scene, he found more of a berth in the seventies, essentially playing a corrupted version of the DJs from his fifties youth. With his enunciation and mildly creepy ‘Hello boys and girls’ delivery Everett was like a pervy, pill-fuelled take on a Home Service announcer (David Bowie, who appeared on Everett's show in this memorable clip, was doing something similar with Ziggy Stardust, recreating a supercharged version of a fifties archetype having failed to get along with the hippies).

A commercial success and popular with a huge demographic at the time, Everett has been somewhat forgotten since. Partly it was that his febrile nature meant he never found a long-term role on any of the BBC’s flagship shows. A lot of his material hasn’t aged brilliantly in isolation – particularly in his later TV work, the joke started to take second place to the technological innovation. But he pioneered much of what now passes for standard fare in broadcasting – the fourth-wall breaking and knowing deconstruction of the premise, the involvement of viewers and crew, the cross pollination between TV and pop music, and the figure of an uncontrollable but hugely popular, desk-driving egomaniac which Radio One still struggles with to this day. Cuddly Ken was a genuine one-off who pursued his craft and his vision at no little personal and professional cost to himself, and a performer who instinctively understood that an artist’s job wasn’t to be a pet of the establishment. We could do with a little more of that spirit nowadays.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Soho House Berlin Apartments book

I wrote and edited the new promotional book for Soho House Berlin's new Apartments. The book was designed, produced and art directed by London's MATERIAL ORGANISATION.

Hardy Amies and The Queen for Sunday Times Magazine

My features debut for The Sunday Times magazine was a long feature about how one of the Queen's couture Hardy Amies dress turned up on Ebay, and the rise, fall and rise again of the Great British fashion house. Behind the Times paywall, so subscribe here.

VICTOR for Hasselblad

I've been working as editorial director on VICTOR, the newly relaunched photographic biannual book for Hasselblad. It's currently on the press, in all its multi-lingual glory.Design by Mark Jubber at South Union.

House Magazine #21

The latest issue of House Magazine came out in late June. It was a sports special, and you can read it here.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Peaking Lights interview

My interview with Peaking Lights about home made synths, analogue production and their fantastic new album was in the Guardian Guide. You can read it here.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Kony2012: 'I Met Joseph Kony'

Invisible Children’s Kony2012 Youtube video has become a viral phenomena, racking up almost 83.6 million hits in just two weeks. However, almost nobody in the western media has actually met with the Ugandan warlord – apart from Financial Times reporter Matthew Green, who met with him after six months pursuit while writing his book WIZARD OF THE NILE: THE HUNT FOR AFRICA’S MOST WANTED. I called Green by satellite phone to ask about how you track down one of the world’s most wanted men.

So when did you actually meet Joseph Kony?

In eastern Congo in 2006. It was in a forest clearing in Garamba National Park.

What are the logistics of tracking down someone so reclusive?

In a sense I was very lucky – it was a unique moment when for a few months he emerged to take part in peace negotiations with elders from northern Uganda. So for a very short period, it was possible for me to hitch a ride with the negotiators

What sense did you get of him as a person?

There’s two Konies. There’s the sort of frightened warlord who’s terrified of the fact that the outside world is taking an interest in him and he might be captured and sent to The Hague [international criminal court]. And then there’s this charismatic, powerful orator who is capable of capturing audiences when he speaks in the Acholi language, and exerts this hypnotic grip over his followers.

Why do you think this video’s gone worldwide so quickly?

The success of this viral video is that it paints a very compelling, clear cut narrative of good against evil and invites the viewer to participate. It’s an incredibly powerful pull and narrative and it’s clearly resonated with people. It’s as much about the skill of the filmmakers as it is the issue of Kony himself.

What do you make of their call for military intervention in Uganda?
Bear in mind that Kony left Uganda six years ago and hasn’t been back since, but that said, he has been causing atrocities in Central African Republic and Congo. But a bungled operation by the military could backfire, we’ve seen this before when they’ve failed to get him and he’s instigated mass killings in retaliation. However, I would say that if the US took an interest and used their Special Forces expertise to take him out of action that would be a good thing.

And finally, will he be aware of all this interest in him?
I think he’s very aware. Remember that the rebels take a very keen interest in world events, they monitor the World Service, and they have supporters around the world in the Acholi diaspora. They’ll be aware of this interest in him, and Kony will be a very frightened man.

Teenage Engineering in new issue of Wallpaper*

My feature on Swedish synth-building design studio TEENAGE ENGINEERING and their OP-1 synthesiser is out now in the current issue of Wallpaper*.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

New issue of The Word

The new issue of Word is out this month. I've written their first person essay at the back, about my youthful infatuation with Crass and what makes people get into bands years after they cease to exist.

House, issue 19

The latest issue of House magazine is out now, edited by me.