Every week, one of our writers will be given a selection of tracks – they could be unsigned, they could be international superstars. Any genre could be included, and the writer gets one week to give their verdict on each song in under 100 words. This week, Mellanie Moore takes her turn. If you like what you hear, click on the band names to visit their website, and if you want your music to be included in the future, send an MP3, picture, short bio and link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jodie Marie– I Got You
I can’t seem to recall anything exciting about this song. After a second and third listen I was still struggling to figure out a ‘thing’ about it. I do know that she has me though, but even that recollection was aided heavily by the title. All that stayed with me was the melody. I could hum that for you at a moments notice. Other than the melody and Jodie’s gorgeous syrupy voice I’m not grabbed by this song at all. All it brings to mind is a quadrillion montages in a quadrillion romantic comedies that use songs like this one.
EJ – Mama I’m Gunna Sing
A quarter of the way in I’d decided that anybody would dance to this song. Obama, he’d love it. Boris Johnson, he’d go mad. Ivana Trump, King Jong Un…They would all lose their shit to this song on a dance floor. There’s not much singing (and we all know you shouldn’t lie to your mama), but if you’re losing your shit on a dance floor with the POTUS, Mayor of London, Ivana Trump and a Korean dictator, you don’t focus on the little things. Obviously. There’s not that much more to say. It’s a dance track, I want to dance.
The Enemy – Gimme a Sign
This is more like it. It’s forceful and melodic, but not overly poppy as seems to be the risk with rock + melody at the moment. Such peppiness would render the guitars a false accessory, but the track is sufficiently gritty and the guitars are the backbone of the song rather than a generic addition. It’s a perfect blend of anthem and melody with no 80s cringe. I’m not quite sure what eponymous signal they’re waiting for. I’ve no problem dancing with a strangers foot smashed into my face and a spilled pint down my dress while I find out.
Joshua Caole – Sweet Sweet Eyes
What exactly can a man do with a riff stolen from The La’s and a jar of aspartame and ocular organs? He can write this song of course! The riff bothered me for the first half of the song and when I’d figured out why it was familiar it was my favourite part. It was sufficiently distracting that it’s all that remains memorable, even after several listens. All I know is he can’t help falling for some sweet sweet eyes, and they’re not even his. Otherwise the song is dull. My favourite part is from elsewhere, says it all really.
Djanan Turan (pronounced “like naan bread, but with a ja!”) makes a fascinating impression, with tales on her website about singing in cupboards, and lyrics about being a goldfish. More intriguing still is her latest album, Artigo. It invokes the same euphoric absurdity of Regina Spektor at her most bizarre, but with a thread of unearthly yet catchy melodies holding the insanity together. The mixture is something akin to being trapped on an extra terrestrial carousel. In a good way.
Following Artigo’s successful launch in October, Turan has been in pre-production for the music video for ‘Goldfish’. Having experienced the EP it shouldn’t be a complete surprise to hear the video was inspired by some wood she found in a bin. “The scenario is pretty cute,” she says in an email, “this piece of wood I found is a beautiful perfect circle, painted white on one side and looks very much like a full moon.”
Turan was born in Turkey, but is based in London. Her favourite experience as a gigging musician has been to look beyond the “carbon copy” streets of London to see what’s really there. A perfect manifestation of her multicultural influences was a performance with Turkish clarinet player, Selim Sesler, after meeting at the Barbican in London.
“When I moved to this country, discovering London via performing was amazing. It’s like opening millions of little boxes, full of different surprises! So many places that people get crammed in to see live performances.”
Bridging the gap between her Turkish and English-speaking fan-bases requires running two Facebook pages and two websites, as well as responding to direct emails from fans. “We are improving my beautiful website so I can connect with more people. I get lovely messages,” she says. “[My fans] have always been quite friendly and sincere, which makes me feel I am giving that kind of warmth to people and it makes me a happy little lass.”
Women in the music industry often get a raw deal, with the focus being on anything but their music. Whether they’re not thin enough (Amanda Palmer), too thin (Christina Aguilera) too old (Madonna), too young (Willow Smith), too sexy (Rihanna) or not sexy enough (Adele), it’s apparently still something of an oddity to be a female musician, even in 2012. In a profession maligned for its sexism, Turan prefers not to focus on her gender.
“Sometimes it does feel more like a boys club, this whole music-making and performing thing. However this feeling might also be a result of frustration you get every now and then,” she says. “I keep the posture of a ‘person’ in life rather than a woman, and tend not to connect my experiences to my gender, whether they’re positive or negative.”
Aside from being the first Turkish woman I’ve ever heard say “lass”, Turan also has the distinction of being one of the few musicians who appear to genuinely want to spread joy through their shows. “I want [people] to go back home with a massive smile to keep ’til they sleep that night, and one to wake up with,” she says. There’s a : ) afterwards, too.
A true description of her music is difficult to articulate. “I’m still searching for those words myself,” she says. “Let’s say free-spirited pop!” It may well be the closest anyone gets. It’s hard to define the wonderful mix of strange melodies and beautiful lyrics produced by traditional instruments and rhythms not usually associated with pop music. Turan works backwards to figure out what the songs mean, drawing sense out of her lyrics months and years after she first brings them forth in her music.
As well as discarded chunks of wood, she draws her inspiration from the work of others, as well as anything else to hand. “Art and music obviously inspire me and help me…inspiration more often comes out from simplicity and subtlety, rather than pretty things or ecstatic feelings. Other people’s completed and shared work certainly inspires me to keep working,” she explains.
Djanan Turan will next perform at The Secret Garden pub in Battersea on 25th February. Her album, Artigo, can be found on iTunes and you can listen in on Spotify as well as getting the latest news at the Djanan Turan website.
This is the internet, a concept with which you are likely familiar. Probably just as familiar to you will be the concept of commenting. And, if you are a particularly feeble example of humankind, you are even more familiar with the idea of commenting to correct grammar and/or spelling.
Of all the breeds of Internet Pedant, you are the very worst. The word/statement/phrase you’re correcting clearly made adequate sense, or you would not have been able to grasp the concept clearly enough to do so. The ideas were communicated clearly enough for you to worry about a small smudge on their otherwise shining surface.
In your flailing efforts to eradicate the smudge, you obscure a very important fact; that you can even see the post is a miracle. The author could live thousands of miles away from you, you are communicating ACROSS THE PLANET, to DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, INSTANTANEOUSLY and the one thing, the ONLY thing, the most important thing that leaps from your tiny mind is: “Oh, they’ve spelt that wrong. Idiot.” (‘Spelt’ is right, before you start.)
This particular brand of cuntery is especially rife on twitter. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t see an informative or funny tweet from say, @SimonPegg or @SarahMillican or anybody else with a large following, that isn’t immediately followed by “Yes, I know I typo’d. You can stop telling me,” about twenty minutes later. These are intelligent, funny, successful people and yet the most interesting thing people can manage? “You made an insignificant mistake. I noticed it…(P.S. LOVE ME!)”
And that insecurity, I think, is the basis of the pandemic. The internet, no matter how hard it tries, will never ever be high brow. Never. Nor should it aspire to be. Its lack of any sort of brow is the beautiful thing about it. Everybody can access it, everybody can contribute. However, the sort of person that automatically assumes that high brow and intelligent are the same thing worries about the height of the internets brow. They sit and they think “Gosh, this life changing thing. It’s full of slightly-not-perfect, quickly typed un-proofread INFORMATION. FOR FREE. What if people think I’m less than intelligent if I don’t correct all of it?”
This type of insecurity is not entirely unfounded (though it is entirely stupid). Some people do judge others on their grammar and spelling, but only if they’re so invested in this shibboleth that they think it’s actually a test of intelligence. They think their superior spelling actually makes them objectively better rather than a product of very fortunate circumstances.
Let me tell you a story about the Ephraimites and the Gileadites. Once upon a time, (in the Book of Judges, Chapter 12) the Gileadites defeated the Ephraimites in battle. The Gileadites knew that the Ephraimites didn’t have the ‘sh’ phoneme in their language, and so were unable to pronounce a common word, shibboleth, in the Gileadite way. When the Ephraimites tried to cross the Jordan back into their own territory, the Gileadites stopped them, and forced them to prove their Gileaditeyness by saying ‘shibboleth’. When they couldn’t, they killed them. Why bother to kill more Ephraimites? The same reason you’d correct a minor mistake in grammar or spelling on the internet. Because you’re a dick-head, mostly. You Gileadite monster.
Rather than see the beautiful potential for global bonding the internet holds, you see its looser boundaries of nation and language to be a threat to your fixed position of superiority. We must create new boundaries, you say. There shall be the Great Nation of Pedants, and the Great Nation of People with Better Things to Worry About. And long shall they be at war.
The internet is as close to truly free communication as we’re ever likely to get. If you don’t want to talk to people from all walks of life, don’t bother taking part. Not everybody went to school, not everybody got a good education. Even if they did, not everybody enjoyed or understood English as well as you might have, some people didn’t even speak English at school. You have this opportunity, this rain of information and experience to scoop up by the bucketful and all you can manage in response to this awe inspiring spectacle is the internet equivalent of the red squiggly line. Microsoft word does that, and it’s annoying. Useful if you’re writing an assignment or a job application, but otherwise just officious, unnecessary and insufferably smug.
The English language is a dirty dirty fuckabout. It picks up stuff left, right and centre, has survived the rise and fall of an empire, the merging of dozens of tribes, the creation of the redsquigglyline standardised version, French and Norse additions, the dictionary…It’s a tough old thing. It’s unlikely to crumble because some people on the internet are doing it a bit wrong.
What you are engaging in, oh you of the passive aggressive *, is language prescriptivism. It’s ugly and limited and quite a lot snobbish. It does not prove, as you may like to argue, that you have standards (though they are an unfortunate side effect). What it proves is that you have a thirst to show that you done good at school. This makes you very fortunate, extraordinarily so. But there no need to be a dick about it.
Birth and death are two of the most dramatic events we witness as sentient bipeds. Though they have happened billions of times before and are sure to happen a billion times again, they are the explosions that punctuate the march of time. There are no more dramatic births and deaths than those of stars, and both have been photographed and sent to us this week.
In Europe, the Herschel Telescope has shed new light (so to speak) on a volatile star forming region. The Pillars of Creation are situated in the Eagle Nebula, which was first observed 17 years ago by the Hubble telescope. Spanning several light years across, the Pillars are of particular interest to astronomers as they are undergoing a burst of star formation.
The Pillars are visible to optical telescopes, but only as shadowy figures which reveal nothing of the violent processes they hide. The region has been transformed by Herschel which sees light on the infra-red spectrum, setting the pillars alight and revealing the activities within.
Aside from providing us with gorgeous images like the one above, the observation is vital for giving us clues about the birth of stars like our own sun.
Professor Glenn White, of The Open University and The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, who is working on the data said: ‘The local environment in the Eagle Nebula is probably very similar to that when our own solar system formed almost 5 billion years ago – so seeing these images is a bit like using a time machine to look back at how our own solar system might have been born.”
Another revealing discovery has been made by a PhD student in Mallorca, this time concerning how stars die. On August 23rd last year, Stefan Holmes was “in the right place at the right time” (also known as the Open University’s PIRATE facility) and captured a one off image giving us new insight into the origins of supernova. The image shows M101, a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way (but with a far more boring name). Rather disappointingly, the star isn’t visible on the image. What was captured was the light escaping from the supernova, or dying star. Somehow that seems less majestic, more horrific, but that’s scientists for you. Despite a long fascination with these exploding stars, little is actually known about the type of stars that die in this way, which is why the image has caused excitement enough to be featured in the prestigious Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The image is hugely significant. First of all, it captured the light from the closest star explosion for decades; only 20 million light years away. (For reference, it would take over 20 000 years to travel one light year.) Not only is it a convenient few billion years of human travel away, it shows the explosion only four hours after it occurred and is the first such explosion to be available for study with modern astronomical equipment.
‘Type Ia’ supernova are exploding stars that burn brighter than a billion Suns for several weeks. The energy released is relative to the size of the star that exploded. Judging by the light captured in this image, this supernova was about 2/100 of the Sun’s size, a white dwarf.
We must rely on huge structures such as Herschel and PIRATE to supply us with wonders on this scale. Until not too long ago, it seemed like anything beyond the moon had to be captured by the same scientific wizardry, un-accesxible to us mere mortals, and sent to news agencies before any of us had a chance of having a peep. No longer! The BBC’s excellent Stargazing Live, with the ever adorable Professor Brian Cox and the equally charming Dara O’Briain, is showing amateur astronomers’ discoveries and photography alongside amazing space-scapes from machines such as Herschel. The most impressive results can be gained with a DSL camera and a decent telescope.
See? Not exactly a multi-million pound investment, but jaw droppingly stupendous nonetheless.
You can believe what you want about this: I was sitting in the pub with friends and this guy approached me and said ‘Show me your hand.’ I didn’t even know who he was. He just came across and read my palm. He looked at me and said ‘Why are you doing that job?’ A few months later I actually quit…It made complete sense.
A tragic bereavement, an encounter with a fortune teller and turning forty are three events Rachel Cochrane credits with giving her the courage to quit her successful but un-fulfilling pharmaceutical career and take her writing career into her own hands. That was ten years ago. Now she runs Listen Up North a spoken word celebration of writers based in the North East of England. “I want the content to be intelligently written but not elitist. I want it to be accessible to everyone, even people who don’t usually listen to poetry or short stories” she says.
It was very frightening to give up my job because, although I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t know what the future would hold for me. I don’t regret it for one minute.
Following seven years of what Cochrane describes as “writing and getting nowhere” she decided to give herself a platform after discovering what digital media could do for her and the problems with creativity online and in the North East. Firstly, there was nowhere for mature people to access creative online content that was made for them. Secondly, nowhere for local authors to broadcast their talents. Listen Up North kills two birds with one stone and after three years it features the work of over sixty writers and nearly thirty actors. Cochrane has funded the project entirely on her own, only recently being awarded a grant for recording equipment.
“At the moment there’s only one paid for item, a supernatural thriller in six episodes. I’ve just put that onto iTunes and Amazon MP3. It’s 69p an episode and they’re each 15-20 minutes so there’s quite a lot of content for your money,” explains Cochrane. Defending the cost of the content is hardly necessary, as the rest of what Listen Up North has to offer is completely free.
Cochrane created the site out of desire to manifest her work as dramas and to put it out there for an audience. Initially, she thought only about her own writing but found she couldn’t generate quality content quickly enough to satisfy the voracious maw of the internet. She considered at that point that featuring other writers would be a good practical decision. “I really thought that there was a lot of work out there which was of good quality and that people would be interested to hear it,” she adds. The relationship between Cochrane and her writers is a mutually beneficial one. New writers (or established ones) have somewhere to exhibit their talents and she gets content for her website.
The web holds the future for Cochrane. She’s promoting her new film, Celia, on YouTube. Made with virtually no budget and one actress, Celia is another example of good writing being allowed to speak for itself. Starring actress Penny Lamport as the eponymous character, the film was written and directed by Cochrane, with friend and co-producer Shirley Anne Wood editing it for the screen. The music was composed by Rosie Cochrane, Rachel’s daughter.
The beauty of Listen Up North’s audio content, including Celia, is that the writing speaks out to you, and feels more interactive than written content on a web page.
However, while the website is a gallery of diverse content (book extracts, drama, interviews, newsletters, poetry, short stores and newsletters) and writers (62 unique contributors), Cochrane’s own art has suffered. She has discovered that the internet’s savage appetite is for time as well as content and she hasn’t focused on her own writing in months. Her commitment to running a website and exploiting social media to promote it have made her venture a modest success but have been a harsh lesson in the benefits of time management for the creative spirit.
In order to ensure the high quality of the site’s audio content, Cochrane insists on doing all of her own recording. While this means that it must all be done in the local area, she doesn’t feel that this is a limitation, in fact it’s central to the main achievement of the website so far. “I’ve really built an archive of North East writers and writing about the North East.”
An ambassador for the North East, the internet, undiscovered talent, fortune tellers, ex-pharmacists and entrepreneurs, Rachael Cochrane’s dedication to her own creative drive is paying off.
Anybody who watched the triumphant return of Stephen Moffatt and Mark Gatiss’ Sherlock on New Years Day will not be surprised to learn that the naked dominatrix, Ms. Irene Adler, was the subject of some controversial debates around whether or not having a female character with no agency outside of her sexuality was a little bit, well, sexist. A great rundown of the points to be made on that side of the argument can be found over at the Guardian. The latest episode, Hound of the Baskervilles featured precisely two female characters, which can’t have helped matters either.
While it is a little weary that Irene had to be introduced to Sherlock as naked as the day she was born, there are some fascinating bits to be picked out of this arguably ill thought out use of stereotype. This was brought to my notice by the fannish safari park that is Livejournal which provided some thought provoking screen grabs.
Irene Adler is presented as the very personification of sex, and she’s a woman and that is reductionist and unfortunate. That is, after all, what many people and particularly in the media would list as a woman’s primary function. However, put in context I don’t think this particular characterisation is as tragic as all of that. What is arguably more tragic is the reaction provoked by carefully framed shots of a naked woman.
There is an important revelation minutes before Sherlock meets Ms Adler that throws each characters representation into a very different light: Sherlock is a virgin. Is Ms. Adler’s blatant sexuality not the perfect antidote for the bane of Sherlock’s stuttering, awkward virginity?
This creates a parallel and a juxtaposition between Adler and Holmes- a literal virgin/whore dichotomy, except with our dashing detective as the virgin and his intellectual equal as the whore. One is stripped naked and shamed, one declares nudity to be her battle dress. One is empowered by sexuality, one is “alarmed” by it (despite his protests to the contrary). Add to this their shared brilliance and mutual fascination and there is an argument for presenting them as two sides of the same coin, albeit with a controversial point of comparison. Although I suppose sex is always going the divide between great men and great women as far as many people are concerned. In the episode, it isn’t until Sherlock flirts back, uses his sexuality to his own advantage, that he manages to beat Ms. Adler at her own game.
They are also made to look alike. Adler has her hair in curls like Sherlock’s and the same length. She is even wearing his coat.
Looked at in this light, I think introducing Ms. Adler in the nude was a crucial point of comparison between predator and prey. While in this instance, nudity has its use and can be justified, it’s still getting a woman naked and making her sexuality her tool for making her own way. Yes, she manipulates powerful men and women, but without them she would have no secrets and be of no importance. She clearly has a powerful mind but, as Sherlock points out, she chooses to “take her clothes off to make an impression.”
Of course then it becomes about demonising the female form. I don’t recall seeing any complaints about Sherlock’s nudity, though it was more revealing. Is it sexist to present a woman in this way, or sexist to be outraged by a woman presented in this way? Is the female form really so horrific? Is it the fact that she uses it to her advantage or the fact that it’s there at all? There are too many points against Ms. Adler’s nudity that strike me as sexist in themselves that I don’t feel comfortable sticking to one argument or the other.