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!
Last time I posted was over a month ago, and I was in the process of writing my end of year report for university – I’m very pleased to say this is now all finished and submitted! To celebrate with me, Bill flew out and we spent a fantastic weekend in Paris practising the art of the flâneur.
Being only three hours away by train, I don’t know why I hadn’t visited Paris already! When asked if they like Paris, people often claim that they love the city but find the Parisiennes to be rude – this was far from my experience, as everyone we encountered was friendly and very patient with my bad French.
Having never explored Paris before I was keen to take in all the touristy sites, and in our brief visit we managed to see a lot. We stumbled into the Grand Carnival in Montmartre, walked the Champs-Élysées, and ate an inadvisable amount of macarons.
After quite a few successive weekends in the lab working on my report, a trip to Paris was just what I needed. I’ve got a few months ahead of me without any uni work, so expect some exciting posts on the following:
- A super fun design collaboration with the excellent Versatyl & Pilgrim of New Street Records for their new single, Lessons/Underground Sound – follow them on all the social medias so you don’t miss it!
- Complaints about camping and snarky comments about all the acts I get to catch at Eurockéennes Festival next weekend!
- A guest post exchange with the fabulous ALMSEE, who’s fresh off the plane from Trek America – find out more about her travels on her blog!
- A picky vegetarian restaurant review for my follow chemistry student Greg of the brilliantly named new food blog Boy Who Eats – I can’t wait to get back to Birmingham and check out some of his recommendations for myself!
Of course you can also find the usual travel snaps and self-important ramblings right here – I’ve got two months left in Basel, so I’m hoping to explore the surrounding area some more before flying home to England! As usual, I’d love to here where you think I should go – I’m currently thinking Milan for next month – so let me know in the comments!
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.
In exactly one month’s time, I’ll be beginning my internship with Roche in Basel Switzerland. Now seems like a good time for an update!
Firstly, I’d like to wrap up a few things from U21 Undergraduate Research Conference at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. I had such an amazing time, and met so many fantastic people. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was genuinely inspiring to hear about the exciting research being carried out all over the world. I can’t thank everyone enough who made the week possible. Here’s some photos that never made it into my blog posts while I was out there!
So, that was my trip to China. A week was nowhere near enough to see all of Shanghai, but it was an amazing week nonetheless. It’s definitely given me the urge to travel more though – I came back and promptly booked a holiday to Turkey with my bff Rosie. We set off in about 12 days, so it’s shaping up to be a busy summer!
In the meantime, you might imagine I’d been sitting around and generally having a rest – ha! Boring. Since getting back from China, I managed to fit in meeting Caitlin Moran (and eagerly blogging about it here) and making a fairly eventful trip up to the West Midlands. I got myself a little going away present; a tattoo that I’ve been after for the best part of a year, thanks to the lovely Lizzie of the appropriately named Bon Voyage Tattoo Studio in Stourbridge. I can’t recommend her highly enough!
I won’t lie, it’s been met with a mixed reception – ranging from a highly satisfying, “Oh my god – and I mean that in a good way!” to a predictable, “I just wish you’d had something prettier…” Nonetheless, I love it. Without boring you with the oh-so-deep-and-meaningful motivation behind it, it’s exactly what I wanted and I wouldn’t change one thing. The detail Lizzie has put into it is just amazing (click on the image to zoom) – as is her other work. Her instagram page is well worth checking out – you might even spot my delightful back on there….
I try and catch Velvet Texas Cannonball whenever they’re playing, so this might be the last gig I make it to before I move out to Switzerland, sadly! Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint. If 60s psychedelic garage-rock is your thing, they’re well worth a listen. The headliners, Rose Windows, were also fantastic. They came all the way from Seattle to bring us some great psych-y folk. Recommended.
I stayed up in the area for a little longer to go to a wedding (Congrats to Maz & Stu – have fun in the USA!) and then came back to my Mum’s house in Somerset. I’ve now got 4 weeks to get ready for the move to Basel – wish me luck! Any advice is very, very welcome…
Guys. I MET CAITLIN MORAN.
(This might not be of interest to everyone – if you’re not bothered, consider yourself excused!)
In the way of proof, here is a picture of me grinning nervously while she hugs me.
Last week, I went up to Birmingham to see her live show with Anna of ALMSEE. Only a few days after flying back in from Shanghai (more on that later!) I wasn’t exactly keen to make that train journey – but it was more than worth it!
She opened the show by announcing that her new book, “How To Build A Girl” had made it to number one. By way of celebration, she shotted an M&S trifle; it was truly a beautiful moment. Then ensued an evening of shouting, feminism, and Catmo’s “Top 5 worst menstruation stories” (They are exactly as bad as you think. Without spoiling anything for anyone, Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents have white sofas.)
As someone who has read most of Caitlin Moran’s work (apart from the brand new book, which I am currently half way through!), I was worried that she might not have a lot of new material for the live show. I was wrong! The evening consisted of maybe 10% readings, and the rest of it was anecdotes, observational humour, and audience participation (ie, making everyone stand on their chairs and shout “I AM A FEMINIST!”) Brilliant. After the show she did a signing, so we managed to get hugs from her! It took ages to get to the front, as seemingly more than half of the audience decided to line up. How Moran managed to be so smiley and happy even after hours of posing for photos I don’t know, but credit to her for it!
During the second set, Moran talked about her technique of, “if you can’t do something, just pretend to be someone who can!”, and how throughout her teenage years, that person was Courtney Love. I think it’s fair to say that, for a few people in the audience last week, that person is Caitlin Moran.
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!
It’s been a while!
Sorry for the lack of updates – I’ve just had my last exam for the year (Bio-organic Chemistry, for anyone who’s interested) so here I am, enjoying a cool glass of post-exam freedom. After weeks of revising, I’m finally free to continue writing self important posts about nothing in particular. Good times. This is less a post in itself, more just an update – here’s what I’ve been up to:
- I reviewed Richard Ayoade’s The Double for SofaPotatoes – you can read it here.
- I wrote a guest post for National Vegetarian Week 2014 on The Tofu Diaries, which you can find here. There’s one guest post for each day of the week, so it’s well worth a scroll through!
- I entered my review of Blood Red Shoes into a blogging competition with Ticketmaster. It didn’t get shortlisted…but, the lovely Billy Beale‘s review of the same gig did! Pretty exciting stuff. If you can spare a few seconds to go and vote for his entry (and why wouldn’t you – he’s officially a better reviewer than me. I mean, come on) then lucky you because you can do it right here! It would mean a huge amount if he gets chosen. To vote, just scroll to the bottom of the page and like/tweet/whatever it is you do on google+. Thanks in advance you lovely people!
Coming up, I need to sort out my visa for Shanghai, and put together my presentation. Exciting! I also need to get ready to move out of my lovely flat in Birmingham, which I’ll be sad to leave behind.
So that’s where I am right now. Have you just finished exams right now too? Let me know in the comments!
Ears still ringing slightly, I thought I’d tell you about a gig I went to last night (all in the name of avoiding revision, of course!)
Playing at the O2 Academy in Birmingham last night were Blood Red Shoes with support from Slaves and DZ Deathrays – all three bands being two-pieces. Edgy.
First on were Slaves. I’d already looked these guys up so I was keen to hear their 15 second epic, “GIRL FIGHT” done live:
For anyone who first heard Blood Red Shoes as part of the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Soundtrack (cough), it’s hard not to compare Slaves to “Crash & the Boys”. Not all their songs are < 20 seconds long, but these guys really don’t mess around. A self-described “garage punk band from kent”, most of their songs were prefaced with some kind of explanation for the ensuing wall of noise. It was impressive to see a two piece that seemed too large and loud for the stage they were on, and as an opening act, they really got the audience going; I’ll be keeping an eye out for more chances to catch them. And “GIRL FIGHT”? It did not disappoint. (Incidentally, I saw I guy down the front with a “girl fight” t shirt on – if anyone can tell me where I might purchase one of these…)
Next up we had DZ Deathrays. They really had the grunge/garage aesthetic down, and it was a lot of fun. The guitarist had an orange stack which was making a nice sound, but for me last night it felt like that was about all they had to offer. There was the odd catchy riff in thrown in there, but all in all I felt like I was listening to the same track throughout their set. Technically their sound wasn’t as good as the other two bands – the sound team seemed to be running into trouble all night, and there was a lot of waiting around – so maybe this was what let them down. Listening now to their studio stuff, it seems like they just didn’t really deliver as a live band on the night. Maybe that’s one of the limitations of being a duo – below is a great studio track from them. Definitely worth a listen.
After more waiting (apparently “the sound desk was broken or something”), we were treated to a great set from Blood Red Shoes. They came out all smoke and lights, and set the tone for a show that didn’t dip in energy from start to finish. Most of what they played was from their new self-titled album, which is full of not only their most mature tracks yet, but also some riffs that sound really great live.
Their stage presence was understated (guitarist Laura May shyly admitted at the end of their set that they couldn’t match the in-your-face charisma of Slaves) but suited their moody sound, and played well against the lights show, which was delivered by a slightly strobe-happy technician.
As with the other two bands, Blood Red Shoes had ample energy to really fill the room. Overall it was a great night, and everyone in the audience left grinning and sweaty. (Although, at £4.40 a for a pint of Carlsberg, stone cold sober. This isn’t London, O2!)
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!