Another Bank Holiday weekend arrives. May rocks! Bank Holiday weekend usually stands for one thing in this country, crazy partying/. And there is shed loads on this weekend. If I was in London this weekend I would be at BBE getting down to Jazzy Jeff and Carl Craig. The only problem is the venue, Canvas, which is notorious for huge queues and Hillsborough style crushes (no joke), and £4 a pop for a beer.
Is it any wonder that everyone's gurning when it's £4 for a drink in Canvas, Cargo, The End and pills cost £5 (and that's expensive), and last you all night rather than 20 minutes. Ravers get fleeced yet again.
Also worth checking are the slew of warehouse parties: Mulletover, Issst, Kompakt Records, which are inevitably Shoreditch and beyond.
However the event that's most caught my eye is UK Takeover in Nottingham, with a sick line up of homegrown hip hop and lyricists. The irony is that it will be a few years before an event of this ilk will happen in London. Coz the Police assume grime and hip hop events, will result in shootings and murders. No joke, it's that simple, grime, hip hop and young black men can only mean one thing - violence. Clueless mofos. Makes my blood boil.
Whining is not a good look Sov. It'll be interesting to see whether her PR machine buries this. The first link to this on Youtube mysteriously disappeared overnight. Still it could be used as a training video for all up and coming artists in how not to treat your audience. Though in fairness, many US hip hop stars have thrown bigger hissy fits than this on stage, that's when they can be bothered to turn up on time.
Hat tip to Monique for this.
Klashnekoff is my favourite homegrown rapper. To call him the UK equivalent of Krs 1 or Public Enemy is not an unjust comparison. He's a hard hitting, uncompromising rapper who does street reportage, like nobody else ever has in the UK. He questions and rails against the establishment, hoodrats, his own community, our society, humanity and tries to give a positive example for misguided inner city youth to follow. His flow, imagery and metaphors is poetry in motion. For me he's the closest thing I've heard to a Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Anyway I'll stop gushing over Klashnekoff and simply say the proof's in his music. Check both The Sagas Of Klasnekoff (a compilation of his early material including the above, Murda), or this year's Lionheart: Tussle With The Beast.
Here's an interview with the Hackneyite that appears in today's Newcastle Metro ahead of his date tomorrow at the Other Rooms. And believe me this is about 5% of what he had to say... including how much he loves folk (coz 1960s folk is music made from pain and struggle)
Darren ‘Klashnekoff’ Kandler is a misunderstood rapper. He’s the most politically and socially aware hip-hop artist in Britain but is often perceived as a gun-toting, gangsta rapper because of his nom de guerre and unflinching observations on inner city life.
‘The Kalashnikov is the tool that people use to fight their oppressors and it inspired me,’ says Klashnekoff, explaining the origins of his name. ‘The Kalashnikov is a revolutionary symbol, it’s a Malcolm X thing and represents liberation, equality and justice.’
These themes feature heavily on Klash’s compelling LP, Lionheart: Tussle With The Beast, which also clears up any confusion on where the Hackney-rapper is coming from. Klasnekoff takes aim at a society that values footballers over nurses, challenges hip-hop’s obsession with materialism, and offer alternatives to the live fast die young lifestyle, that has seen so many teenage boys’ lives lost to guns and knives.
‘I’m trying to do something a little different – relate my pain and bring knowledge to young people too,’ explains Klashnekoff. ‘Rappers today aren’t giving the kids anything back – if you listen to my album you’ll get something good from it, it ain’t no McDonalds crap.’
‘I’m not trying to be gangsta, I talk about society, responsibility, I talk about my ‘mumsy’ and respecting women’, he continues. ‘I’m trying to be the best human being I can be.’
Klashnekoff’s fire-and-brimstone delivery, his flow (hybridizing cockney and Jamaican patois like a latter day Linton Kwesi Johnson), imagery and passion, has marked him out as a homegrown hip-hop hero since the early noughties.
However it’s the critically acclaimed Lionheart… that has seen Klashnekoff move beyond the UK hip-hop’s underground and gain fans including Gilles Peterson and Rio Ferdinand. Joe Buddha’s production, drawing on 1960s roots reggae and soul, means Klash’s no compromise rhymes are softened by bright reggae horns, calypso and warm melodies.
It’s probably why Klash’s been dubbed the ‘rap Bob Marley’, when more apt comparisons would be the originator of conscious, politically minded hip-hop, Krs One, the ‘teacher’, or Public Enemey. ‘I’m trying to rep for the strugglers all over the world as long as you have a good heart and you’re down for some freedom,’ says Klashnekoff. ‘Technology is at its highest but humanity is at its lowest: we should be concentrating on feeding and housing people - that’s real and logical to me.’
‘If people can’t see what’s going on they’re in Happy Shopper mode and more concerned with the latest clothes,’ says Klashnekoff. ‘What I’m talking about isn’t that outlandish I want humanity to be in a better place. What’s wrong with that?’
It's that time of the year that our minds turn to festivals. What is it with the British and festivals? At the last count there are some 450 festivals taking place across the country this summer. OK plenty don't qualify as festivals in the camping, Portaloo horror sense but it says something about Britain, no? Or does it say more about the increasing creep of brands and corporate (mobile, alcohol payola) into previously sacrosant spaces. This battle has been long lost, but it's worth breaking it down: for example do 02 (behind Wireless) really care about music, or their profit margins come the end of the financial year? The same applies to Southern Comfort and their Fat Tuesday brand.
The flipside is without sponsorhip and branding festivals cannot grow beyond a niche concern and size. Rob Da Bank (Bestival) was quoted in the Observer on Sunday saying he needs £1m to do Bestival which is a baby festival compared to Glastonbury, V, Reading, even the Big Chill.
If you're sick of that corporate vibe at UK festivals - like I am - then these foreign festivals are well worth exploring. Two others are Serbia's Exit - for the sheer wow factor and up for it atmosphere - and Sonar - for an example of how a modern european city can support underground, music, arts and culture. The day event takes place in the Institute Of Contemporary Catalan Culture. I hope that I see as cutting edge, underground event at either the Tate Modern or The National Portrait Gallery (which would be the London equivalent) before I die. I doubut it though.
Both Exit and Sonar are as branded as the average WAG, so missed the cut in this piece. Though to their credit, they still 'feel' authentic and relatively brand free spaces.
I also did a grassroots festival piece on UK festivals unspoilt by brands. drop me a line (r a v i n g r a h u l @ g m a i l . c o m - apologies for the spaces, it foils spammers apparently) if you want to know more about them...
Go Global Not Glasto
Combining a festival abroad with a short break or as part of a longer holiday can work wonders: Many foreign festivals seem to be cheaper (in some instances the price of a gig ticket here!) and take place in beautiful cities or unusual locations. Often the climate’s more reliable and you can incorporate a couple of days of rest and relaxation so you don’t feel like you need a holiday to recover from festival excesses. Here’s a guide to some of the less well-known, foreign festivals that are guaranteed to leave you awe-struck and imploring your mates to go next year.
DISSONAZE (Jun 1-2)
WHERE: The stately Palazzo Dei Ricevimenti e Dei Congressi in Rome, Italy.
WHAT: A showcase and celebration of cutting edge electronic music and digital art, set in a stunning building (with a roof terrace hosting events) featuring site-specific projects and installations.
WHO’S PLAYING: Phil Hartnoll (The Orb), composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, ‘new Daft Punk’ Digitalism, math-rock band Battles and Mike Patton (Faith No More), and DJs including Luciano and Ellen Allien.
WHO GOES: Electronic music and multi-media arts fans interested in the relationship between creativity and technology. Berlin and Shoreditch’s shabby-chic scenesters who feel Barcelona’s Sonar is now too ‘last year’ and commercial.
HOW MUCH: One day €25 in adv; two days €40 in adv, €45 door.
GOING NOWHERE (Jul 4-8)
WHERE: The Mars-like terrain of an exposed mountainside near Zaragoza, Spain. The nearest towns are 12km away and the nearest airport (Zaragoza), an hour’s drive.
WHAT: The European spin-off of America’s Burning Man, Going Nowhere is the place to go to escape festivals as we know them. You will not find any bands you have heard of, mobile phone charge points, or brand sponsorship.
You cannot buy anything, only exchange and barter or gift services and objects. You must take as much water, food, and living equipment that you need for the extreme conditions. And leave no trace (clean up after yourself… thoroughly).
WHO’S PLAYING? Nowhere’s built around the concept that it’s YOU, that makes the festival. So your participation and self expression – rather than spectating – is key.
WHO GOES: People that like a challenge, anti-capitalists and those bored of the ‘predictable’ festival experience.
HOW MUCH: €70 (until end of May)-€90
THE GARDEN FESTIVAL (July 6-8)
WHERE: Near Zadar, Croatia in a hotel complex hidden by a canopy of trees overlooking the Adriatic and two-minute walk from 900-year-old village, Petrcane.
WHAT: A ‘boutique festival’ with daytime beach and boat parties, live music stage and a kitsch 1960s club Barbarellas Discotheque, to dance ‘til dawn.
WHO’S PLAYING: Crazy P, Mr Scruff, Sean ‘Guilty Pleasures’ Rowley, The Unabombers and many more
WHO GOES? The programming reflects Gilles Peterson-style eclecticism and will appeal to fans of soulful, funky dance music, or people who like to party in a comfortable, relaxed environment and prefer an intimate, friendly atmosphere.
HOW MUCH: £30 for three day pass.
DANCE VALLEY (Jul 14)
WHERE: The lush, undulating green valleys Spaarnwoude on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Holland.
WHAT: A ‘Circus Of Dance Music’, or an unashamed celebration of all dance music, whether cool or not. Now in its 11th year Dance Valley’s production values, breathtaking setting and easygoing vibe, makes it a unique experience and unlike any UK dance music festival.
WHO’S PLAYING: Ten arenas, and four stages, of dance music host trance gods Paul Van Dyk and Ferry Corsten, as well as Carl Cox, Tim Deluxe, Kenny Dope Gonzalez and Sandy Rivera.
WHO GOES: Like-minded, laidback clubbers who love hardcore dance music, particularly from the Benelux countries and across Europe.
HOW MUCH: £48.50
LAKE OF STARS (Oct 5-7)(pictured above)
WHERE: Chintheche Inn, Lake Malawi, Malawi,
WHAT: Now in its fourth year, Lake Of Stars is an altruistic festival organised by hugely popular UK club night, Chibuku (named after the local beer). Lake Of Stars brings together British and Malawian musicians to raise money for Unicef in Malawi and promote the country as a tourist destination.
Music ranges from gospel to house. This year’s line up includes Giles Peterson, Annie Mac, beatboxer Joe Driscoll, Rob Da Bank (Bestival), reggae band The Black Missionaries and ten strong Afrojazz band Wambali Mkandawire. More artists to be announced.
WHO GOES: Clubbers with a conscience and wanderlust, and open-minded, curious people that like world music, an adventure and the unpredictable.
HOW MUCH? Three-day ticket is £40 (+bf). www.lakeofstars.co.uk
Today's London Metro club column. This is James Holden, a prodigiously talented dance music producer. He's actually moving dance music forward and although is part of that scene, is willing to challenge its conventions.
As ever when interviewing someone and then writing up a story, Holden had lots to say that didn't make the cut. For example why in the UK music seems so segragated (admittedly it's changing now, but why was dance music so segragated and tribal in the 1990s?), how he hates myspace (he only joined because a Walter Mitty character was impersonating him and leaving comments/feedback to music makers as Holden, AND demanding loads of money AND GIRLS as Holden's requirements for doing DJ dates) and finally how Holden in music terms is a 'girl in a man's body' largely because he has no truck with anal, snobby, chin-stroking producer's music and likes melody and vocals. Regardless of what elements he likes or dislikes, the key element here is he's following what he's into and representing himself rather than following trends and making music that he thinks people want to hear.
Interesting guy - I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of his music, but I can appreciate what he's doing and I have the utmost respect for his challenging thinking.
James Holden appears to have it all: he's been the toast of the dance music since 1999, he has the jet-set DJ lifestyle and his esteemed label Border Community, begin a haloed End residency this Saturday.
In clubland Border Community's residency at The End is big news: the pioneering club’s residencies nights are reserved for dance music’s most respected names such as Layo & Bushwacka, Sven Vath, Erol Alkan, DJ Marky and previously Richie Hawtin and Laurent Garnier. Border Community’s End debut will feature Holden, his label-mate and fellow prodigy Nathan Fake performing a live set and intriguingly Kieren Hebden (aka Four Tet) in the lounge.
Holden, however, wants to cut down on DJing: ‘I’ve decided I’m too old to be away from home so much so I’m trying to find the balance between staying at home, making some music and having a normal life and going away to DJ’, he says. ‘I like having more time to myself to produce, so if I keep DJing rare, it makes it more special and I really look forward to DJing now - it doesn’t feel like work if you don’t do it regularly.’
At just 27 Holden is flying in the face of received wisdom and dance music’s tradition of DJing ‘til you drop. Yet it’s precisely this kind of renegade, single-minded thinking that is responsible for the softly spoken, classically trained, Oxford maths graduate rising to dance music’s highest echelons.
Holden first pricked ears and dancefloors with the exquisite progressive trance single Horizons single in 1999 (voted as one of the Top 100 dance records by Mixmag readers). He’s since reinvigorated dance music – particularly trance and progressive house - with beautiful, painstakingly detailed productions oozing gentle melodies, fuzzy harmonies, dubwise beats and quirky, ethereal pop.
Now Holden’s fully focused on producing timeless dance music, and building on Border Community’s outstanding reputation for avant-garde electronic music that defies categorisation. ‘I decided to DJ less because I did a mini album [The Idiots Are Winning] at the end of last year and suddenly remembered that I I wanted to make records rather than play other’s people’s,’ he explains. ‘When I’m old and looking back I’m not going to remember parties, but I will remember albums.’
'The production standards in dance music can be quite low, people tolerate too much rubbish - the cult of the underground is used to justify throwaway inane music,’ says Holden, highlighting dance music’s saturation with instantly forgettable, disposable music. ‘What we wanted to do with Border Community was to only release music that we would like in five years time.’
We’re really conscious that we release music that isn’t aimed at the DJ anymore,’ concludes Holden. ‘We’re aiming for proper records, with proper songs by proper artists with a personality rather than just fodder.’
Sat, Border Community, The End, West Central Street WC1, 10pm to 7am, £16, £15 door. Tel: 020 7 419 9199. Tube: Holborn
The video for Dizzee's new single Sirens. The video's superb: clean, crisp and innovative. The track's pretty good too. It's interesting to see Dizzee pursue the rap rock direction. What with the new LP featuring guest spots with Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner, and the nod to rap rock, Dizzee has his sights fixed firmly on the mainstream. And good luck to him.
Could we be about to witness the first no compromise, black British rapper crossing into the mainstream?? I hope so and if anyone's capable of doing it, it's Dizzee. I was lucky enough to see him play at Exit in Serbia last July (he was followed on the main stage by Morrissey, that's some twisted programming). And to be frank, the audience didn't know his music. So Dizzee switched the instrumentals to rock, and it went down a storm.
Dizzee freestyled over We Will Rock You, worked the crowd with call and response, then slipped in Jezebel and I Luv U, before switching back to rapping over rock (Sweet Child Of Mine, Limp Bizkit, White Stripes Seven Nation Army, though I'm not sure I can forgive him bouncing around to Let Me Entertain You, there are some limits). The energy in much of this music, is very similar to grime - you shock out, big time.
Anyway, the point being that I didn't expect Dizzee's versatility and ability to rap over rock would end up on his next LP. But it has. The boy in da corner has done good.
Today's London Metro Clubs Column looking at what's on this May Bank Holiday weekend. Kid Koala is a genius. truly. a storytelling scratch DJ. Personally speaking I will be going to epic dubsdtep dance, DMZ and if I'm still able on Sunday, I'll be checking out the big sunglasses at Secretsundaze, the very anti-thesis of corporate/superclub exeperience. It's different, exciting, has an X factor and until now has laregly been marketed virally (by word of mouth, email, or posters).
Kitsune versus Trailer Trash
Until recently the words 'outdoor summer clubbing in London’ would have either drawn bemused looks and guffaws or interpreted as a reference to either Egg's or The Cross's open air spaces. However over the last few years Secretsundaze has changed that through organising al fresco raves on summer Sundays, and in the process has become London’s premier destination club. James Priestley and Giles Smith Mediterranean-approach has put large slices of mystery and excitement, back into capital clubbing: and it’s proved so popular that this Sunday's first Secretsundaze of the season (it's like being in Ibiza) is the huge roof of Canvas (with a capacity nearing 1,000) which will host electro and house from Andre Galluzi (from Berlin's hip Panorama Bar), Samin (Get Physical) performing live and residents Priestley and Smith. And the beauty of this weekend… is no work on Monday.
The Slaang and Issst crew is rapidly establishing a reputation for wild warehouse parties soundtracked by cutting edge, underground electro, minimal house and noisy indie-dance. This Saturday's epic Slaang (the second of four) features Para One reprising his tough electro live and Berlin darling Jesse Rose showcasing his busy, restless brand of electronic music, dubbed ‘fidget house’. The line up’s completed by young pretenders including Bethnal Green's quirky electro act Kissy Sell Out and Mock & Toof (DFA Records) and promoters/curators/residents, Bobby M and Kevin Griffiths. Naturally there's an after party too.
First it was Ed Banger Records now fellow hipster French label Kitsune makes its London warehouse debut, at Kitsune vs Trailer Trash. Kitsune's up there with Modular as the label that's brought punk rock style and attitude into dance music through their Maison compilations featuring The Gossip, Simian, Digitalism and Klaxons. And it’s fitting that Kitsune has teamed up with stylish yet inclusive Trailer Trash night that has been championing the forward looking urban-edged electro of Sinden and Switch, Bmore gutter, baile funk, electro, house and rock you can rave to. Kitsune label heads, Gildaes Loac and Masaya Kuroki headline with support from Fox n Wolf's with bass heavy Italo-disco (live), bastard pop producer Freelance Hellraiser and residents Mikki Most and Hannah Holland.
Former primary school teacher Canadian Eric San, aka Kid Koala, is the most entertaining, accessible and fun scratch DJ you will see. A Kid Koala show incorporates storytelling, drawing, audience involvement and San sitting with a turntable on his lap, jamming. Sesame Street-obsessed Kid Koala uses four decks to work up a sweat, furiously manipulating samples, scratching and beat jugging to create weird and wonderful sounds (for example a drunken horn sample becomes a clarinet-playing mosquito), to narrate his equally cute and quirky sketches.
Tonight, Kid Koala, Koko, Camden High Street NW1, 7.30pm 'til late, £13.50. Tel: 0870 145 1115. Tube: Mornington Crescent
Sat, Slaang, 68-74 Tooley Street SE1, 10pm to 7am, £17. Tel: 0870 060 0100. Tube: London Bridge
Sat, Kitsune vs Trailer Trash, Hearn Street Car Park EC2, 11pm to 7am, £10 in adv. Tel: 0870 2462050. Tube: Old Street
Sun, Secretsundaze, Canvas, York Way N1, 2pm 'til late, £8 to £18. Tel: 0870 060 0100. Tube: Kings Cross