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Coves

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.

“Everything I do is a contrast,” says Scandi-pop star-in-training MØ. “I like the solitary nature of being on my own but then I really like working in the studio with people too.’

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.”

 

TELEGRAPH-suit

It shouldn’t just be the bride that gets jaws dropping on the big day. The groom, best man and ushers should look sharp too. If you want something different for your morning suits, follow our guide.

Choosing the right formalwear for your wedding is no small task, but thankfully you can get something smart and sophisticated in London without burning through your budget or resorting to the high street.

If you’re looking for something traditional, try Neal & Palmer in Piccadilly Arcade (between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park tubes). Whether you’re going for made-to-measure suits or just want off-the-rail pieces, they take a lot of care producing their garments, using hand embroidered fabrics and it’s good value for money too.

Buckleigh Of London is known as ‘Chelsea’s hidden secret’. The family run business offer bespoke tailoring, including formalwear for children and a great selection of brogues and patent shoes to finish your outfit. 3-piece suit hire starts at £90.

Moss Bros might be a firm staple of many high-streets, but rest assured their extensive range of tailoring at Moss Bespoke means you’re able to get something that’s more individual. Whether you want a classic black tailcoat, something with a bit more character (like the square-tailed frock coat) or an extravagant Ascot-inspired jacket, they’ve got you covered. Better still, their lighter-weight jackets will be perfect if you have a summer wedding planned.

This article originally appeared in The Telegraph on May 19th.

Earlier today, after getting an amazing 9 letter word on Countdown (it was CODPIECE, in case you were wondering) I rolled up my sleeves ready to write something about magazine subscriptions. I’m saying this firmly on my high horse, but I don’t mean to be a dick about it. People aren’t buying many magazines, really, are they? Most journalists, PRs or media-type-folk get copies delivered in the office anyway, and because of their attitudes to print/online, some publications (Esquire and The Guardian come to mind) put enough of the print stuff online to give consumers less incentive to go out and buy something.

Long, long ago (in 2009) I read a really good interview with NME’s Hamish Macbain, who made a solid argument for print > online (full link here).

‘there are things [print] can do that you can’t do online – you can’t have a beautiful double-page spread of an image. There’s still something striking about that. You just have to play to your strengths as a print medium – although we do online stuff as well, you just need to find a way that a magazine can still be a strong means of communication.’

I remember reading that and thinking that was the most amazing statement in the world. Case in point, if you read Q this month, there’s a brilliant cover story article about Amy Winehouse, a year on from her death (actually, read last July’s if you can, because that issue had an even more amazing piece on Amy Winehouse where journalists like Sylvia Patterson discuss meeting her).

I read the feature a couple of times last week, and there are these big images of Amy playing the piano, and staring at the camera looking quite fierce and sometimes quite doe-eyed. And you’re reading about her refusing to do a song to someone else’s deadlines, delaying the production of Back To Black, winding Mark Ronson up and then suddenly turning up at his house and singing Love Is A Losing Game, which she had come up with in her head. The whole thing – images, layout, text – come together like an orchestra (well, an orchestra with three parts). Would the feature be as good read on a website like DigitalSpy, or on Q’s website? Probably not. The images would all be neatly cropped, identical like the soldiers you dunk in a boiled egg. Here’s an image. And another. And another. Oh, and an ad for printer cartridges. Lovely.

On a similar note, Esquire, a magazine I like for their style, grooming, food and drink kind of content, puts content online, but I’ll take the print stuff any time. It just looks better, it looks like the layout has been designed specifically to make the products (whether they’re suits, barbecues or bottles of tequila) the centre of attention.

But people aren’t buying magazines, are they (to a lesser extent, people probably aren’t buying magazine racks either, but IKEA are clever enough to convince you to store sliced lunch meat in them instead, so you have to hand it to them). Circulation figures are going down, and if you work on a magazine or a newspaper, it clogs up your Twitter and Facebook, and the publisher from upstairs comes down to have a chat. You might be doing badly, and they tell you off, but in one of those compliment sandwiches, where nice things bookend a stinging remark. And you get fired up, and think if only we had the weather, people would go on holiday more, and they’d buy your magazine in WHSmith’s at Gatwick and the industry would be SAVED.

One thing people point out is that magazines are expensive. Duh. Didn’t you see those people get made redundant last month? If the magazine is more expensive, maybe they can keep Jackie from accounts. And we NEED Jackie. She’s our Joan from Mad Men, so brilliant at her job. And I think she’s pregnant, but I haven’t checked yet. Oh God, can you imagine if she wasn’t and we all congratulated her? Sounds like something Phil would do. Ha.

That issue of Q I bought was £4.50, which is probably the most expensive monthly I can think of. When I was at FHM (which is just over three quid!) it was pointed out that the mag cost less than a pint. A month. How many times do you buy an extra pint and sick it back up, or feel shit the next day. We tried to stress that you know, this awesome magazine of features and news and funniness was pretty fucking cheap if you think about it.

Thing is, anyone who insists they can’t buy a magazine once in a while because £3.50 a month  is still expensive, what about subscriptions? Have you realised they are ridiculously cheap? Companies love subscriptions, it’s like a pre-nup for publishers. You’re agreeing to give them slightly better circulation figures for a while. When I was 18 I got a subscription to FHM after taking an issue on holiday (Abbey Clancey was on the cover, and the photoshoot was in a bath). I got the subscription because it was good value for money, I didn’t have to get ID’d at the newsagents (so embarrassing) and they gave you a free gift – an awesome t-shirt by Junk Food featuring loads of Marvel superheroes. It was so cool.

Subscriptions, as well as being cheap, give you free gifts! They change most months, but FHM used to do XBox games, GQ and Esquire do lux fragrances, travel accessories, you know, stuff that is really cool.

Look how much magazines WANT your loyalty. While this month’s Q is £4.50, you can get a subscription of 12 issues for TWELVE QUID. Twelve quid. A quid a month. And while this Amy Winehouse issue is admittedly the first I’ve bought since Andrew Harrison stepped in, it’s fucking brill. He’s got people like Adam Levine from Maroon 5 (“Just make me look cool,” he says), Justin Beiber (WTF) and Foster The People. I didn’t like the magazine when it focused so much on U2 or the Gallagers or Elbow. Pop music has its place in music magazines, and I do genuinely feel that by embracing less XFM bands Q is actually turning into a better mag.

So, to summarise: magazines are not doing well, and some magazines are folding because people are not buying them. Like The Word. I actually never bought an issue of The Word, but the way people are going on about it, it sounds like a magazine I’d enjoy. I’d be gutted if it happened to a magazine I really liked.

Speaking of which, read thisBasically, a company has launched Next Issue. Think Spotify for magazines. You can pay a fixed rate a month ($10 gets you access to monthlies, while $15 a month gets you additional access to weeklies, too). Like Spotify, this kind of model will only work with an all-or-nothing approach, and Next Issue has been backed by Conde Naste, Hearst, News Corp, Time Inc and Meredith, meaning you can access Esquire, InStyle, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated and Wired among others. Not bad.

Maybe if people are apathetic about subscriptions to magazines, this kind of thing will excite them. And if not, well, we’ll have no magazines and no newspapers and in a desolate future, we’ll plug ourselves into machines and live an unconscious life where we make our own news.

The End.

SMALL PRINT

  1. Sorry if I sound like a dick. 
  2. I’m not trying to be smug, really, but I was moaning on Twitter last month about a magazine I buy which featured an utter bellend in its pages. As I was moaning, someone started moaning like ‘oh fuck off they have it quite difficult, we need to fill pages, stop whining on Twitter’ and I politely said ‘well I buy this magazine quite a lot, so I think it’s quite fair for me to have an opinion on it’ and kind of feel if you’re a reader, and pay for something, you’re quite within your right to point out said bellend in said magazine.
  3. I have a subscription to Esquire, Men’s Health and Olive, which is a BBC food magazine. That last one was a birthday present, but I have to be honest, it’s really good.
  4. Recently I have also bought NME, FHM and GQ.
  5. And Q, which you may have guessed by my incessant bumming of it in this blog. But I have read it a lot recently, and it was that which inspired me to write this, so there.
  6. Thank you for pointing out CODPIECE is not a 9 letter word.