Stories & miscellaneous

I wrote a story about my experience of taking ayahuasca in Colombia…

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-20-34-30

“I’m definitely going to shit myself,” I told my friend, as I stuffed a pair of pants into my rucksack. We were in her apartment in Bogotá, readying ourselves for an overnight stay in Colombia’s Cordillera Oriental mountains, where we were to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony. The pants sat nestled among my carefully chosen stash of essentials: three packets of Ritz crackers, a jumbo bag of ketchup-flavoured crisps, two bottles of water, baby wipes and a sad-looking apple. Packing them helped me feel marginally more prepared for the physical pummelling that lay ahead – the vomiting and diarrhoea which drinking the plant-based ceremonial tea would induce; the bodily price for mental and spiritual enlightenment…read the full story.

 

I marched through the streets of NYC and wrote about it for Dazed Digital. Interviews with Dr Cornel West, Carl Dix and lots of amazing protesters.

Read the article here

Austin Powerrrz & other stories…

I have finally drained the dregs of my prolonged post-SXSW hangover and can look back on it all with a renewed sense of triumph.

It was – in a word – intense. The ‘main drag’, aka 6th Street, was like Notting Hill Carnival at 250 bpm, slathered in pizza and littered with the CD-Rs of broken dreams.

Mohawk was the Jekyll and Hyde of venues – stressful by day, a blanket of weed-soaked calm by night. It’s the place I met my culinary life partner. This is a hot dog smothered in mac ‘n’ cheese and I haven’t felt this way about anything before. Mohawk is also the place I got free weed and fell head-over-heels for Angel Olsen.

THEN there was Hotel Vegas – my insalubrious spiritual home.  The point of no return. The place of Original Sin, Lone Starz and guitarz. “If only my mother could see me now!” was a phrase I found myself repeating throughout. And I don’t think I’ll ever scrape that mud off my platforms. (Parts of Austin did remind me of the bleeding heart of Brighton though and the constant birdsong was a welcome ode to nature).

Work-wise, I interviewed “New Atlanta” rapper Scotty ATL down a dimly-lit alleyway after bumping n grinding to Blackstreet with a whisky & coke in hand. I also sat down and felt my age with a trio of ice-cool 19-year-old New Yorkers at college hangout Spiderhouse, whilst the sun beat down and Burger Records came to life. LA, baby.

I wrote this round-up blog for NME and my interview with New York’s Sunflower Bean is in the mag this week, along with a sprinkling of live reviews.

I hated and loved SXSW in equal measure. You really do have to cut through A LOT of godawful corporate bullshit and avert your eyes to the cold, hard, depressing face of the music industry to uncover great stuff that really makes it worth the trip. But for every free novelty USB there was was a show which lit a fire in my belly…

Clara Rockmore story for Somesuch

Something in the Air

Like Celine Dion and Michael Jackson, she had a gift that could never be bought – the gift of absolute pitch. If you threw Clara a song, she could play you back the notes by ear. She could do this on the piano at the age of two, because she was a v-i-r-t-u-o-s-o. And when she was four, she stood up on a table and breathed rapid hellfire from behind the chin rest of the devil’s instrument. This prowess earned her a place at Russia’s premier music school, the Saint Petersburg Imperial Conservatory, where she began studying the following year.

Clara Reisenberg was born on 9 March, 1911 in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, which was under Russian rule at that time. Her childhood was not spent grazing knees or climbing trees, but rather honing a musical ability that lived deep inside her, like a crystalline pearl at the bottom of the ocean. This irrepressible talent, coupled with the tutelage of esteemed Hungarian violinist Leopold Auer, was sure to guarantee a lifetime of recognition. But there was modern history’s most gruelling chapter to contend with first (we are in early 20th century Russia, after all.) Clara and her family – including her pianist sister Nadia, with whom she would often partner for concerts – fled the hardship and turbulence of their post-revolution homeland in 1921, aboard a steam ship to America.

Clara and Nadia bankrolled their passage with concert earnings, and they continued to light up the stage when they arrived in New York, Clara’s reputation for exceptional violin playing continuing to gather pace all the while. But, after a childhood of malnutrition, nature was to teach her a cruel lesson by striking down her bow arm down with arthritis, forcing her to abandon her first love…read the story here