As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been doing some work for New Street Records. Last week my position as Head of Graphic Design was confirmed for next year, which is great because it means I can spend more time messing around with fonts and crayons and calling it work.
I was lucky enough to collaborate with the brilliant Versatyl & Pilgrim on the artwork for their new single, Lessons/Underground Sound, which is out today! You can find it on iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Beats Music, so there’s no excuse not to give it a listen; I’ll even embed the video for Underground Sound right here:
I had great fun working with the guys on this, and they were full of ideas. They have strong roots in Birmingham, but rap about global issues, and wanted something to reflect this.
The final design took the form of a mixed media digital collage. The skyline in the top left incorporates some of Birmingham’s most distinctive buildings, including the Bullring, the BT Tower, the Custard Factory, and of course Old Joe. Surrounding the globe are social justice hashtags selected by the guys themselves, reflecting recent worldwide campaigns for change. The logo text is modified from a piece of street art produced for V&P by GraffitiArtist.com. We created two versions – one for each track.
All elements of the design (apart from the text in the bottom left corner) were hand drawn to “keep things organic”, in the words of Pilgrim. I had so much fun working on this – and the tracks themselves are great! If you want to hear more from V&P, you can find some of their previous releases here, including their Wax N Facts mixtape from last year. They’re one to watch!
In an effort to keep up with whats going on at the University of Birmingham while I’m on my industry year, I’ve got involved in a really cool project thanks to their Circles of Influence campaign. I’m really excited to be the head of In-House Graphic Design for New Street Records, a brand new student-run record label in Birmingham. We will be seeking out a range of student artists, and help give them the springboard that they need.
Keep an eye out for more news hear soon about our first signings, but in the meantime, here’s the poster for the launch night THIS THURSDAY:
If you’re in Birmingham, I highly recommend you head along – it’s set to be a great night. In the meantime, you can find out more about New Street Records on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Since coming back to Basel after the Christmas break, I’ve realised that I need to find some more time for my University course. My physical chemistry exam is only weeks away, and I’m the first to admit that it isn’t my strong point!
This means a lot of sitting down and reading through notes. On the plus side, I find trains a great place to read, and I live right near Basel SBB station. So, I’ve been taking advantage of this excuse to do some exploring!
Last weekend I made my way to Mulhouse, which is only a half hour trip across the border into Alsace. I’d been advised by a coworker not to, “waste time visiting Mulhouse”, so my hopes weren’t high – it’s just so close that it seemed silly not to visit. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Mulhouse has some great architecture, including the gothic Temple Saint-Étienne or “Cathédrale de Mulhouse” right in the centre of the City.
Just across the square from this is the Rothüss, or city hall – a great pink Renaissance style building covered in paintings. Hung in the doorway of this usually flamboyant building was a sobering sign, reading, “Je Suis Charlie“. These signs could be seen in the windows of businesses all over the city; I was there on the 10th of January, only a few days after the Paris attack, and the events had cleary resonated throughout the country.
After a few hours wandering around the city, I found a great little café where I settled down to get some reading done – I had to do something to maintain the idea that I was getting some uni work done. Everyone has different ways of studying, and for me environment makes a huge difference – I can never get anything done in my own flat. Great coffee and pain au chocolat is a big help, too ;)
A week later, and I decided to visit Bern. The train there stopped in Olten, which was excitingly snowy. The Swiss of course are used to a bit of snow – everything still works, nothing shuts, and the news doesn’t devote 90% of it’s attention to weather reporting. However, as a Brit I can’t help but think it’s a big deal whenever it happens.
In Bern itself it was a little more rainy than snowy, but still pretty cold! There’s so much to see in the city, and the old covered walkways offered some shelter. I feel a bit like cities in Switzerland offer a lot more independent shops and small chains than British high streets, which makes shopping much more interesting. I found a branch of Fizzen, a really cute clothes shop that has a few shops across Switzerland. I also managed to make some great additions to my ever expanding postcard collection!
Do you have any suggestions for where I should go next? Or any great study tips? Let me know in the comments!
It’s been a busy few weeks! Six days after my last exam and I was straight back in the lab, completing a “boot camp” for students taking an industrial
placement next year. This came to three weeks of synthesis, distillations and the ever-divisive titration (they’re not that bad, guys!) following which I feel pretty prepared for my placement with Roche.
There were times when the sun was shining and everyone else who had finished was out enjoying the weather, so a 9am start in the warm undergraduate labs didn’t seem all that appealing. Handing in my completed lab book came with quite a sense of achievement, though!
As well as being the last day in the labs, yesterday was also results day. Grim. Queueing up to get results is just the worst, so a few of us did our best to avoid it. However, it got to 15 minutes after the release time and we could wait any longer. Mine were okay – I got what I needed to carry on with my course – but I wasn’t thrilled. I did get some really good marks in some of my modules though, so I’ll take that!
Now I’ve finished with year two of University, I can focus on whats coming up next; In 12 days (!) I’ll be off to Shanghai! I’ve still got a few things to sort out before I go, but at least now I’ve got ample spare time. I’ve also got my last two days working with Hands on Science next week! I’ll be sad to leave (although I’m hoping to return in 2015) so expect an emotional blog post about that in the coming week…
In other news: As the latest incident in my war on gadgets, last week I inadvertently washed my phone – I’m talking a full cycle. Picture me, calling my phone to find it, getting no answer, and then turning around to see it going round and round in the window of the washing machine. Fab. Luckily it was on it’s last legs anyway, so I ended up upgrading. New toy, new apps, and I can’t stop playing around with all the photo editing software on it. I’ll leave you with my latest creation:
Did you get exam results this week? Let me know in the comments!
Everything seems a bit crazy right now – I can’t believe that this time in 3 weeks I’ll be in Shanghai! That is, if everything goes to plan. Flights are booked and my visa is on it’s way. I’ve got a 9 hour stopover in Amsterdam too, so I should have the chance to do plenty of exploring! Aside from that though, I am going there for a Universitas 21 conference. At the moment I’m putting together a presentation for said conference, which is on the theme of “Food Safety”.
Anyone who saw my guest post on The Tofu Diaries will probably be able to guess what I’m presenting on; I’ve been looking into meat production methods, their impact on the environment, and the alternatives available. You might have heard of the “In-vitro beef burger” created by Maastricht University last year – I thought this was really exciting!
This brings me on to the big ask – I want to know what other people think about this. Here is a three question survey on meat and meat alternatives. If you could spare 30 seconds to fill it out, it would be a massive help! In return, expect lots of exciting photos and blogs about Shanghai 😉 Are you going anywhere exciting this summer? Let me know in the comments!
Hi there! Sorry for the lack of updates lately – despite exams being over, I’m still managing to be super busy. Six days after finishing my last exam, I was straight back into the labs for a “boot camp” in preparation for my industry year in Switzerland. Between these sessions I’ve been trying to sort out my visa for Shanghai, so all in all, not the chilled out few weeks I wanted! I’ve found time to finally play Red Dead Redemption though – been wanting to get hold of it for ages. I realise how late to the game I am with that one, so of course I don’t need to tell you how super-fun it is (you can lasso people!)
That aside, I did get a chance to head over to University of Birmingham’s Valefest yesterday with the lovely ladies Anna of ALMSEE and Rosie (who has yet to get blogging..), both of whom finished the same day as me. Despite a pretty grim weather forecast, we donned the obligatory raincoats, glitter and flower garlands and headed over to the Vale.
Valefest is a yearly music festival run by students at the university, and this year was it’s tenth birthday. With loads of tents, stages and stalls featuring bands, DJs, comedy acts, and workshops, there was something for everyone. We turned up in time to catch Temple Funk Collective, an 8-piece brass section from Oxford, who managed to coax the sun out with their jazz-funk rearrangements of modern tracks. If this sounds like it might be up your street, give their “Drum and Brass” medley a listen:
When these guys had finished, the sun was shining so we sat out on the grass and watched Battle Reenactment Society do their thing. This is exactly what it sounds like (think chainmail, axes and shouting) and after seeing them open the Miscellany Gala earlier this year, I was keen to see them again. They did not disappoint.
After this we wandered over to the food court – there was a good amount of choice, although I was sad to see that purveyors of “gourmet toasties” The Jabberwocky, were absent. They were there last year, and their “4 Cheese Supreme” was one of the highlights of Valefest 2013 for me. We grabbed some sizeable burgers (Quorn! yey!) from the BBQ stall and ate them in the sunshine by the main stage. The Sons of Pitches were playing, who I’ve heard a few times and who are always good fun. An acapella group of uni students, these guys have quite a following. It’s not hard to see why – it’s hard not to smile when you hear them:
After The Sons of Pitches, we were treated to a set from Fresh Dixie Project. The self professed “crossover swing” band were perfect for the festival, and welcomed in the warm evening with their upbeat original tracks.
(Their cover of “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book was a standout track for me, although it doesn’t seem to be around online. Anyone who’s heard Paulo Nutini’s version will know where I’m coming from, though.)
Next we wandered over to the Macmillan Stage and caught Signals‘ set. Math-pop/rock always makes for an impressive live show in my opinion, and Signals were no exception. As an act they were tight, and their clean harmonies were a breath of fresh air amongst the plentiful ska/funk bands we heard over the day. Their audience was unfortunately a little sparse to begin with, but after a brief shower drove lots of people into the tent, they had a lot more listeners. The new, bigger crowd was only in part thanks to the weather, though; the sun soon came back out, but no one left. Their song “Constructions” was one of my favourite tracks of the day:
They were followed by Ghouls, a lively band of “alt-gypsy-punks” from London. This was the headline act for the Macmillan Stage, and they certainly went out with a bang. Never stopping to lower the tempo, Ghouls got the crowd going with song after song of short punchy tracks – think Reel Big Fish meets The Meteors:
Finally, closing the whole festival was the Electric Swing Circus. I had heard a lot about these guys – as locals and ex-UoB students, they play a lot of shows near me, but until now I had never made it to one. They more than lived up to the hype. Fusing 20s swing with electro-house beats, the group put on a fantastic show, complete with smoke machine(!). Vocalists Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh had the air of seasoned performers, all twenties dance routines and unbridled sass. They even found time in their set for an electric double bass solo, which is pretty much all I want from a live band. Their new track, “Minnie”, tells you all you need to know:
So, all round, Valefest 2014 was exactly what the doctor ordered – live music, good food, and a few drinks in the sun with friends. Not to mention that all the proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support and Trekstock. What’s not to like!
Were you at Valefest? Have you made it to any other great festivals so far this year? Let me know in the comments!
Next week, someone else is taking over my position as Treasurer for University of Birmingham Film Society.
During the academic year, the group meets twice a week. I’m going to miss it when I’m in Switzerland! People expect us to be fairly academic about it, and though we do try and cover the more eclectic side of cinema, really it’s just a bunch of students watching a film and going to the pub afterwards. In my first year in particular, Film Society was a big part of my university life; I wasn’t really in to clubbing, which seems to account for most of the first year undergraduate social scene, so it was great having something else to get involved with. I think the same thing is true for a lot of students. My advice to anyone starting university this year would be this: Don’t feel like you have to go clubbing every week to make friends or fit in. Most universities have hundreds of societies, so you’re bound to find something that suits you. And if you’re starting at the University of Birmingham, join the film society! You could not find a nicer group of people to argue about Tarantino with on a Tuesday night.
Being on the committee this year has meant I could choose some of the films to be screened. It goes without saying that not everyone appreciates my taste in film – awkward indie comedies made up most of my choices – but it’s been brilliant getting to introduce the group to some of my favourite films. (Included below is a list of my screenings for anyone who’s interested.)
Film society has also introduced me to a lot of new films that I’m so glad to have found; Park Chan-wook’s Thirst, and the stop motion film A Town Called Panic stand out for me. And with an exciting schedule for next semester, I’m looking forward to finding lots more! The new committee has made some great choices, so it looks like the society is in safe hands until my glorious return in 2015.
My film screenings (with fun/obnoxious comments about why you should go and watch them if you haven’t already):
- Bright Star (2009) – I love this film dearly but it did not go down well. I guess Ben Whishaw moping about in a velvet jacket isn’t everyone’s idea of entertainment.
- Clerks (1994) – Needs no introduction. If you haven’t seen it, you should fix that.
- Eagle vs. Shark (2007) – I think people came to see this expecting a “Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus” style CGI fest, and this film couldn’t be further from that. But it does feature Jemaine from Flight of the Concords in a homemade eagle costume.
- Robot & Frank (2012) – This went down really well. Sci-fi heist movie… but not what you’re imagining when I say that.
- Bunny & The Bull (2009) – Possibly my all-time favourite film. Simon Farnaby is perfect.
- Seven Psychopaths (2012) – I thought the marketing for this film was pretty misleading, as it just looked like another action film. Because of this it had passed a lot of people by, but it has a smart story. And Christopher Walken.
- A Film With Me In It (2008) – A darkly self-aware farce. Very Irish.
- The Piano (1993) – Another Jane Campion, but this went down much better than Bright Star. A new take on the gothic genre.
- A Clockwork Orange (1971) – We needed to show some Kubrick. I fought for 2001, but it was just too long..
- The Road (2009) – The most tender yet crushing dystopia you will ever see. Possibly a low one to end on, though.
Seen any of these already? Tell me what you thought in the comments!
Feminism has been all over the media recently. New books out from Everyday Sexism and The Vagenda, and Veet pulling that ad campaign following something of a twitterstorm. (It’s almost commendable how ~30seconds of footage managed to be quite so universally offensive.)
The internet is flooded with people voicing their opinions on the matter, so I was almost reluctant to weigh in. The other day, though, I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments (I know) on a Tab article (I know!). This one, if you’re interested. Predictably, the internet hate machine has once again spewed out every angry thing it could in response to a fairly inoffensive article with the word feminism in the title. Now, this article is from my own university, and presumably most of the commenters are as well. I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down, and it got me thinking. And I guess I’m self-important enough to think my opinions are interesting, so here you go:
To a lot of people feminism has become a dirty word. I have a number of friends (of different genders, sexualities and backgrounds) who agree with 95% of the principles behind the modern feminist movement, but don’t feel comfortable with the word itself. I feel like feminism could do with a re-brand.
The word itself implies it’s only for women. However, to me feminism is the fight for gender equality. Women’s rights have come a long way in the last century, so the goals have changed. It just feels like the image hasn’t. There is a deficit between men’s rights and women’s rights, but it goes without saying that it’s not JUST a case of men doing better in every single area. It’s a shame, really, that “gender equalitarianism” just doesn’t have a very good ring to it. Not really something you can fit on a bumper sticker.
That Veet ad campaign is the perfect example in my eyes. Although the backlash against it has been received as “raving feminists ruining anything fun” by some people, is there anyone that it ISN’T offensive against? The values in it seem to me to be harmful to pretty much anyone. At the risk of sounding a bit worthy, can’t we all just play nice and work towards equality together, rather than this weird battle of the sexes thing that seems to prevail at the moment?
Windows 8, what are you. I’ve made the jump to a new computer and everything feels a bit odd to say the least. I’ve been playing around, trying to get everything up and running. I just checked my emails (which you’ll be glad to hear still exist within the new OS) and I had a message from my personal tutor at uni just saying “Congratulations! Fantastic news!”. All very nice, but a bit mysterious on it’s own. So I scrolled down, and right there is a message from my university telling me that my application for the Universitas 21 Undergraduate Research Conference has been successful. Which, in short, means they’re sending me to Shanghai this summer!
I only had the interview a few days ago; pretty standard procedure – crowbar myself into and uncomfortable pencil skirt, go and babble to the panel for ten-fifteen minutes and then come out the room a bit dazed and try and forget it happened. The interviewers told me that I wouldn’t hear until next week, so I was pretty surprised to get the email so soon!
It feels like I’m going to be all over the place this year. I’m writing this from a sleeping bag on the sofa at my Mum’s house in Somerset, where I haven’t been since Christmas. A couple of friends came down with me, and I’ve been hunting for “fun” southwest-y activities the last couple of days: yesterday we went to the beach at Minehead, ate chips on the seafront, played on the penny-pusher machines and essentially had the most cliché British day out ever. Hardly glamorous, but another place to have been – and of course I need to start sorting things out for my move to Switzerland, which is getting closer and closer..
Before that though, Shanghai! I’ll be spending a week at Jiao Tong University at a Food Safety Conference in July. Anticipate photos, blogs and maybe even a ~vlog~. Who knows.
Primarily in the interest of making this page a bit more ~multimedia~ , I thought I’d share this video which features my charming face. Look out for some great stop motion, and the comedy rewind at about a minute in (neither of which I can take credit for!)
It was part of a module on my course called Science Communication, where all second years had to produce a short film, along with some pieces of scientific writing. Needless to say, some people approached it with some reluctance! Personally I was glad of the variety; I love my course, but once we got on to the fourth physical chemistry module of the year getting some credits for nervously grinning into a video camera seemed pretty appealing.
Which brings me onto science communication. This is something close to my heart – every week I work at a nearby school teaching science. “Grown ups” often get overlooked, however!
Once school science lessons are done with, so many people just lose interest. For most adults who aren’t actively involved in the scientific community, the only source of information on new scientific developments is the mainstream media. Although this is great when journalists get the science right, it’s often not the case. As something that effects all of us every day, it bothers me a bit that so few people show an interest in new science. But, I suppose I’m biased – not everyone wants to know about the latest in nanotechnology or space exploration. I just feel that, as new technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives, the average person needs a greater scientific awareness in order to make informed decisions.
Up to date, accessible information is more available than ever before thanks to blogs like io9 and even the New Scientist website. There are also more and more mainstream science tv shows (I have a lot of love for Dara Ó Briain’s Science Club!) so maybe I’m over-reacting. Either way, I’m going to keep fighting the corner, and continue telling anyone who will listen to me why “Heisenberg” was such a funny codename for Walter White to use and why you don’t need to worry about the risks of “dihydrogen monoxide”.