Celebrity Big Brother is back – the yearly practice whereby the nation judges the state of pop culture purely by who has made the business decision to go into the house. I am already disgustingly addicted.
After Louis Walsh announced he’s leaving X Factor, it’s time for the dark Lord of pop to return to his rightful throne – so at least someone on X Factor knows what they are babbling on about
After Giles Peterson hyped her demo track ‘Bout You’, seventeen-year-old Rainy Milo became inundated with offers from record labels, but she took time to figure everything out. “I just wanted to do it properly, on my own terms,” she tells Notion.
The result was Limey, released last October. “It’s pretty scattered, I suppose,” she explains. “The material’s broad, I wrote a lot of it a year ago but some of it was older. It covered a lot of different feelings.”
Limey is remarkably mature, held together by pensive, window-gazing lyrics; ‘I always forget the bad stuff that he does, all too easily/I just hope he don’t regret me‘ she sighs, on ‘Don’t Regret Me’. Elsewhere, Rainy sings with a straight-up sass befit of Lily Allen, ‘betting all my heart on this shitty guy‘ on ‘The Other Way’ and praising a guy wearing a killer pair of Nikes.
Rainy draws inspiration from the sombre storytelling of Amy Winehouse and Corrine Bailey-Rae; “They bare it all, and it’s beautiful,” but she also loves Willow Smith. “I was listening to Willow and I just thought Oh My God… she’s just amazing, isn’t she?”
Her heartbreaking tracks are tied together with old jazz beats, but Rainy is no old soul; her Tumblr features street style, GIFs, dip-dyes and cats. She recently posted a shot of her squatting next to this year’s Lovebox poster, pointing at her name (she’s playing on The Fly Presents… stage as well as Ghostpoet, Big Deal and Splashh).
“I keep seeing it! It’s an amazing feeling,” she says. “I love the festival and to be a part of it is so cool. I had to share it. And why not? Tumblr makes me feel like a real person, with my feet on the ground. And I want it to stay like that.”
The raw sounds of dreamy shoe-gaze band Coves take over Battersea power station
Battersea’s iconic power station is going through a bit of an identity crisis. Once a coal-powered station sitting comfortably on the south bank of the River Thames, later this year it’s going to be turned into a luxury hotel.
Until then, the huge, four-chimneyed building – pock-marked with shattered window panes, the inside raw and exposed – houses a sleek, shiny glass structure, where tonight Superdry are celebrating their 10th anniversary. Contrast doesn’t even come close.
That contrast resonates with Coves, who perform their dreamy, shoe-gazey indie in lieu of a DJ tonight, as toned catwalk models sweep across the stage. “If I had to describe the night I suppose I’d say… well, Super is a bit obvious,” says singer Beck Wood. “Energetic is good. There’s a lot of energy tonight. We’ve been here for a few hours and I haven’t got bored once. There’s loads going on. “It’s like organized chaos,” says instrumentalist John Ridgard thoughtfully.
Fashion and music aren’t total strangers, nor are Coves to the idea of fashion and style; Beck studied fashion at university, even having her work featured at London Graduate Fashion Week – but grew tired of the industry and dropped out to pursue music photography instead.
“Then me and John were out drinking and we decided to be in a band,” she says. “It was one of the best decisions we made.”
“It’s a continuing theme; we haven’t recorded any of the songs on the album without at least a bottle of wine. We’ve kept the drunk theme going,” John says proudly.
Coves’ signature sound – a kind of lethargic-chic that turns savage and sweet in tight turns – should feel out of place in the glassy castle within Battersea’s ruins, but taking to the stage in the brand’s latest premium collaboration with contemporary British tailor, Timothy Everest’s moddish, tailored jackets and brogue-boots gives the band a kind of sophistication that takes them beyond their two years together.
In much the same vein music and fashion sit comfy, so does music to Battersea; the station has been featured (and popularized) by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and, er, Take That, who rowed past it in their video for The Flood.
“I was reading up on it the other day,” John said. “Battersea Power Station has one of the best Wikipedia pages ever. The first thing I said when we got here was ‘Did you know this is the biggest red brick building in Europe?’ and [Beck] said ‘No, it’s the biggest brick building in Europe. Full. Stop.”
Superdry founder James Holder calls the band ‘raw and exciting’ earlier in the evening. “They’re a rare talent, they’re doing a great job representing British music at the moment and we’re thrilled to have them with us tonight.”
And for Coves, the venue has stood out as one of the most iconic venues they’ve taken their music. But where will they go from here.
“Maybe the top of the shard,” Becky says wistfully.
“Or failing that, we could play some tunes on the District Line,” John says, before the band button up their blazers and take to the stage.
The girl formerly known as Karen Marie Ørsted is Skyping us from her childhood bedroom, where she’s recording the vocals for her debut album.
A soundproof vocal booth has been constructed by taping bedsheets up against the ceiling, teepee-style. It’s a fitting environment for the 25-year-old’s icy tales of adolescence, heartache, love and self-identity to crystallise within.
The fragmented, glitchy audio of her singles “Pilgrim” and “Waste of Time” gives her a fragile and precious songs a defiant toughness.
“With Waste Of Time, I heard the beat and remember thinking it was this combination of aggressive and energetic, then something cold and silent,” she explains. “Like two poles, or two forces, so I wanted the vocals to be the same. Very soft, but very aggressive.”
The song’s video splices a series of images together by an ominous theme: a chainsaw ripping through wood, a chair bursting into flames, a grass snake rearing its head, ready to strike.
The dream world also plays a pivotal role in her song-writing process. “I just wrote a song that’s about a break-up, and there’s a house. Inside the house is all the chaos, and outside, in the garden, lies the calmness.” She pauses, catching her breath. “Then things get mixed up, and the chaos comes inside, infecting the calmness. And that reflects the relationship between the two people inside.”
MØ’s debut album will be released later in the year. She promises it will be a snapshot of love and the journey to become and find oneself.
“As a teenager, you're as close to being a psychopath as you'll ever be. Focused on yourself, on your own emotions. Even when you get older you’re always searching for something more; we’re made that way. Always looking for validation towards what we’re feeling.”
Here are a few of the TV/Culture pieces I’ve written for Esquire:
Seven Acts You Need To Check Out At Glastonbury
Whether you’re new to Glasto or just want to avoid Mumford & Sons, we look at the best acts you’re less likely to have heard of
Breaking Bad: The Greatest Moments So Far
The most dramatic, suspenseful, heart-stopping moments so far in Breaking Bad; includes spoilers [obviously]
The Best On-Screen Orgasms
(Or, why Hollywood has a problem faking it)
Frank Ocean’s Most Stylish Moments
As the grammy-winner prepares to play in the UK this week, Esquire rounds up Frank Ocean’s most stylish moments
Empire State Of Mind: A Look At Jay-Z’s More Unusual Business Ventures
From his own brand of cognac to his own official colour, we look at Jay-Z’s more unusual investments
How To Wear A Harrington Jacket (Without Looking Like Chris Huhne)
Chris Huhne may have damaged the rep of this season’s essential jacket, but hope is not lost
What To Pack In Your Holiday Washbag
Light, multi-purpose items that are ideal for tidying up on vacation this summer
Esquire’s Summer Footwear Guide
Without A Flip Flop In Sight
Reputations have a habit of being in constant flux. A good reputation does not take much to tarnish, and similarly even the most bruised apple can bounce back.
But there is something that has suffered for too long to ever really be respected again: the humble lanyard. Once used in corporate offices to denote who is responsible in case of a fire, the lanyards use by charity muggers on high streets has turned it into a shibboleth, a way of identifying that the person in a North Face jacket cantering towards you like an excited Spaniel is, in fact, about to bother you with something you don’t care about.
Do you donate to charities? I don’t, really, but there have been exceptions. If someone I like/know in real life is running a marathon I like to offer support, but seeing my paltry £2.50 up against more generous donations can sting. If my weekend plans involve watching Paul O’Grady’s For The Love Of Dogs while clutching a bottle of Hendricks gin, I can also find myself bawling my security code down the phone to the Battersea charity, pledging to adopt all the dogs, all creeds and colours, like some canine incarnation of the Jolie-Pitts.
Charity mugging irks a lot of people, so maybe it’s too easy to bark on about how annoying it is. I still think, though, there’s a time and a place. On Oxford Street, after I’ve taken out a mortgage on a pair of brogues or decided to buy a new Paul Smith suit in lieu of keeping one of my kidneys, maybe it’s not ideal.
Part of the problem lies in the sociolinguistic construct between charityperson and shopper. That sounds more complicated than it should. What I mean is, when someone wants you to sign up for a charity, there’s a pretty basic level of interaction you can have. You can say yes, and make their day, or you can say no.
A lot of people act like cunts when they do the latter. You hear about them shoving charity workers or telling them to do one or flipping the finger. But being pleasant – ‘Oh hi no I’m not in a hurry actually you can probably tell by my slow saunter of a walk even though thats mainly because I have a blister from running yesterday man exercise sucks I’d love to know more about this charity and what you do’ and having a solid rapport kind of makes refusing to sign up to their charity more difficult.
Case in point, last week I was on Oxford Street; I was waiting for a friend who works nearby, and I work nearby, and had some exciting news about work, so we decided to have a quick pint.
I see the lanyard first. Then the North Face jacket. Then that the mugger looks like Theon Greyjoy from Game Of Thrones (Alfie Allen to the rest of you). Theon has spent a lot of S3 being tortured, mocked, hurt, flayed, and spread on a cross, so to see someone so strikingly similar made me think it would be nice to talk to him.
He was from the Sunday Times! Not a charity. I was thrown.
Anyway he’s selling subscriptions, so I listen, because the more Sundays I wake up feeling hungover AND alone, I realise that not having to leave the house to buy a paper might be really amazing. And I’d get a subscription to the website, meaning I can stop remaining ignorant of people tweeting ‘Amazing; you MUST read this interview on the Times [£]’. That would be good.
So the packages range in price but for me – a vigorous young go-getter, in Theon’s words – I would probably enjoy the weekend one. The Times on Saturday, and The Sunday Times. Those are the good ones, I thought. Maybe I could read them at the breakfast table. I could make those waffles I saw on Buzzfeed! Life would be a fine thing.
Thing is, my mate is here now, having only been marginally late for our going-to-the-pub thing. I’m umming and ahhing about getting this subscription – especially since Theon explains I have to pay an extra pound to get them delivered to my house. (“How am I paying for a subscription if they’re not being delivered?” I ask, sensibly. “We’d post you a coupon you can redeem for a newspaper at selected newsagents,” he explains, which to me is shorthand for THIS IS A LOAD OF FAFF WHAT AN UTTER FAFF).
Whenever I try to figure out if I’m being fleeced I multiply the deal by however many weeks/months are in the year. This deal, for the year, is £208. It’s good, but I am wanting to have a think about it. My mate photographs me being, in his words, ‘mugged off’, and I turn and wave as he does it, making me look a bit like Alan Partridge. He tweets it 😦
“Look, I mean it sounds great,” I say.
“Ah, Chris, don’t let me down man!” the guy says. And herein lies the problem. We’ve been having a chat, I’ve been making some hilarious quips, he’s been laughing in all the right places. Our chat is nice. But it’s crunch time now, and the whole thing becomes tricky.
“I don’t think I’m interested in signing up today,” in what I think is a flat, serious tone (NB: I probably grinned like a mug the whole time).
You are! He says. You said so! He adds. Such good value, he reminds me. Can I get some kind of leaflet and think about it, I ask, ever the diplomat. No. The offer stands right now, it will be gone after today.
I think in 95% of cases, forcing someone to make that kind of decision in a fleeting moment will result in them backing away and ducking out. I gave the guy my number (???) and said he should call me at the weekend and I’ll think about it, but I have made up my mind at this point.
(He rang today actually but I turned the phone on silent and went and made a pot of coffee. He predicted this would happen on friday, but I laughed it off with a ‘HA classic Theon Greyjoy’ remark)
It’s the same thing with charities. At this exact moment, on my lunch break, do I want to sign up to a charity? Probably not. And because of my saunter (/blister) I walk awfully aloof, so people catch me. Once, when someone from a dog charity approached me, I told them I was very interested but my partner and I just adopted a retired greyhound from that EXACT centre. We called him Chester, and he was a kind of mottled colour, very quiet, and friendly, and he was fitting in really well, but we had spent so much on his vet bills we couldn’t commit to a charity right now but maybe next year! In truth there was no dog. No adoption. Chester does not exist. I didn’t even have a partner 😦
Then you feel bad because even though they say it’s nice to chat to people instead of having scrunched up copies of ES magazine hurtled at them by commuters, you do feel like you just wasted their time. Theon said he had to sign up one more person and he could go home. Maybe that person was walking past while he and I talked.
So what’s the lesson here? Maybe it’s that being nice isn’t always enough. Or that diplomacy can be detrimental. Or never to meet friends on Oxford Street.
Then again, if I saw Kit Harrington in a lanyard, I don’t think I’d have it in me to be rude.