Tuesday, 27 May 2014

THAT TIME I INTERVIEWED LOUISE WENER

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
After Sleeper’s very first interview Wener was branded mouthy and outspoken, labels that would follow her for the rest of her career. Rather than fight it, she decided to try and take things into her own hands, “I would plan about three things that I thought would be interesting or just make a difference, or would mean that we would get a bigger piece. I think I lost control a bit, I became such a caricature.” Wener was also titled a sex symbol on several occasions by Melody Maker and NME. How did this particular accolade feel? “After being the plain kid at school suddenly I wasn’t any more, but it also felt so reductive. In the first paragraph of anything written about me they would mention it. I didn’t feel comfortable, and then I wondered why I didn’t feel comfortable…I still don’t know how I feel about it even now. We live in a post-feminist world where women have the right to go and be pole dancers and feel great about it, but I feel uncomfortable with the inherent sexualisation in music which is more prevalent now than it’s ever been”.
After years of flailing in indie obscurity Wener and her bandmate Jon Stewart decided to stick two fingers up at the superficiality of the industry they so desperately wanted to be a part of. They sent off demos to record companies, around which they wrapped a copy of their recent NME live review – which they’d written themselves. “It was the first thing I’d ever written. We found this skanky little guy in a basement and we gave him the font and the layout so he could get everything just right. I made a point of saying we weren’t too brilliant, as I thought that would be too exposing. I think I said something like ‘this is a scene that celebrates itself and this band needs celebrating’…something unbearably naff.” The plan went further. They placed an advert for a dancing audition which would take place at their next gig, “I think we had 30 auditionees. People phoned up before because of the advert and I pretended to be an agent, ‘Just dance and look zingy’. There was dancing at the front, it was bizarre – why were people dancing? That never happens at a little indie gig. Afterwards a couple of them rang up and shouted at us. There was a certain level of embarrassment that we’d done that but it paid off a little bit.”
I don’t know what I’m doing with my face in this photo.
Today, fewer and fewer bands seem to be able to make that leap into major label gold. Which is in some ways a good thing – encouraging a worthy “it’s all about the music, man” approach, and inspiring camaraderie and Blitz spirit amongst bands. Though she’s not an avid follower of current music trends, this is something Wener empathises with, “I think there’s less room to make mistakes, but then there are some great ways into it. You don’t have to sign a huge deal”. But for Sleeper, was money a big part of the appeal? Without hestiation Wener nods, “We wanted to make loads of money, although we didn’t [laughs] but that’s where the power was, and I wanted the power to be mine and not theirs. I felt like once you had money you could start saying no to things and dictate it. Fame, power, money. That would be great.”
The end of Britpop coincided with the creation of New Labour – Noel Gallagher and Alan McGee publically supporting Tony Blair and even attending a celebratory party at Number 10. This dismayed many of their peers who saw this introduction of a political party into the Britpop fold as, Wener puts it, “the death of rebellion”. It was undoubtedly lame. “We [as bands] were conformist, but we hoped there was a rebellion instinct, and if there was, that was the point it stopped. It’s the job of people outside the establishment to remain outside the establishment and poke it hard”. Was she invited to Tony’s tea party? A long “no”.
So once again we find ourselves in political and economical turmoil, with a (half) Conservative Government. Will this inspire bands to “poke”? “I think it will. I think there’s been so much complacency, the ‘Coldplay model’. It’s all very sweet and emotional, with no-one kicking, and I think really great music comes from having something to kick against. It might become a bit more angular and powerful and aggressive. More than just overt lyrics like ‘Clegg has gone completely mad’”.
Would Sleeper pick up their instruments to lead the rebellion? “Um…no. It seems appropriate for Blur and Pulp because they were so much bigger than us and they never really stopped doing it, stepping back into it would feel strange.” But she must miss it? “I only miss it when I go to a gig, I get a bit teary because I know what kind of day they’ve had, it’s like going back to your school or something, I have a connection there. But that only lasts for about an hour…”
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN NOTION

STYLE DISSECTION: CARRIE IN 'SEX AND THE CITY' (SEASON 2)









I feel bad that those two movies have ruined Sex And The City for a lot of people, and confirmed to the naysayers that yes, this was a vapid, superficial show, completely out of touch with real life.  I mean, it pretty much was those things - I can't deny it had a lot of flaws - but there was also a time when it was funny and smart, and discussed/portrayed things that we'd not seen on the small screen before. Samantha, I'm looking at you here.  

And, jeez, it was a great-looking show.  

Today I'm only going to focus on the second season, as I think that was when the show - and Carrie - were  at their best.  It was before Aidan, before the cheating on Aidan, and before hair straighteners and tongs.  (OK, she discovers them halfway through this season, but still).  This was curly Carrie with the blues, Carrie who has just been dumped by Big - sorry, JOHN - and was miserable in her beloved wintery New York.  

Guys, look how sad she was.  

Monday, 26 May 2014

THE PUNK SINGER


This weekend I watched this documentary about Kathleen Hanna, hero and musician from Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin.  A mix of archive footage and new interviews, it features loads of amazing people, including Tavi Gevinson, Kim Gordon, Adam Horowitz and Carrie Brownstein all talking about Hanna, the Riot Grrrl movement, and her influences on music, culture and feminism.  Guys, she coined the phrase, "Smells like teen spirit".  It's beautiful and funny and moving.  It actually came out last October but for some reason I've missed it till now, get hold of it and watch it, it's fantastic.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

INSPIRED BY: SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH







There were so many outfits I could have chosen as inspiration for today's outfit post, but after my Style Dissection of the show I was swayed by Sabrina and Zelda's prediliction for red when it comes to their Christmas wardrobes (see pictures below).  And yeah, I know it's not even June, but I like to plan ahead.

I also picked up this Pull&Bear cat purse and ASOS cat ears watch to represent the awesome-ness that is Salem Saberhagen.  The dress is also from ASOS.  I had to have Sabrina-esque mesh and Zelda-esque bell sleeves, so it was perfect.  The shoes are from Ganni, who are a Danish brand and as well as shoes make beautiful patterned dresses and silky kimonos.  I think Zelda would love those.  Now all I need to do is save up enough money to buy their real-life house in New Jersey, turn it back into a home, and discover those latent magical powers I DEFINITELY have.






Tuesday, 20 May 2014

CHEATER'S SALTED CARAMEL MILLIONAIRE SHORTBREAD





Last week I made sweet potato brownies.  I follow lots of Instagrams that feature healthy cooking and baking, endless photos of colourful and nourishing food.  Eat the rainbow.  I try and eat lots of vegetables and lean meat, except when it comes to Meat Liquor burgers, desserts and tea time.  I could sit down and eat a whole cake and not feel sick - I have an astounding capacity to chomp through endless plates of brownies.  I could live on triple chocolate cookies.  But then I thought - how wonderful it would be if there were actually recipes for the things I love that were also nutritious?  So I tried the sweet potato brownie recipe.  They turned out exactly as they were supposed to - they were sweet potato brownies.  

Maybe I just need to be more flexible?  Maybe my tastebuds need to grow up?  Maybe it was just the wrong recipe for me.  But I've come to the conclusion that if you're going to make brownies, or cakes, or millionaire shortbread with salted caramel, then you need to do it properly, and for me that means full fat.  And that means chocolate, butter, sugar and biscuits.  (No offence at all intended to people who love sweet potato brownies - in fact I'm jealous of you).  

This recipe is a cheat because I use pre-made digestive biscuits for the base and condensed milk for the caramel.  I actually prefer it to the version I make with real caramel, though.  So there.  And it's salted because I think salt is the most amazing ingredient we have.  I put it on everything, including my porridge. 

INGREDIENTS
For the base:
250g Digestive biscuits 
125g Butter

For the caramel:
Can of condensed milk (about 400g)
150g Butter
150g Soft dark brown sugar
As much sea salt as you like

Topping:
200g Milk chocolate (Or dark.  Or white.)

Heat the oven to 150°C for a fan oven and line a baking tray, one that measures about 20cm.

Crush the biscuits as much as you can.  I put them in a Ziploc bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until they're a big dusty mess.  Melt 125g of the butter and then pour the biscuit crumbs into the pan.  Stir them together and then pour the buttery. biscuity mixture into the baking tray, pushing it down so it's flat and even.  Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Take it out and leave to cool.  

Melt the 150g of butter and the sugar in a pan, then add the condensed milk.  Keep stirring as you bring it to the boil.  When the butter is no longer separated and the caramel has thickened add the salt - I use about a teaspoon - and then taste to see if it's salty enough.  It's usually not. When you've got yours perfect, pour it onto the biscuit base.  Put it in the fridge for about 30minutes, until the caramel has set - you should be able to touch it gently and still have a clean finger.  Melt the chocolate using the bain-marie method and then and pour it over the caramel.  Use a spatula to spread it evenly, then put the tray of amazing-ness back in the fridge for a couple of hours till the chocolate is hard.  Cut it into slices - I recommend heating the knife in hot water first so the chocolate doesn't crack.  Eat it for breakfast. With extra salt. 


Friday, 16 May 2014

INSPIRED BY: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS










OK, so this post should actually be called 'Inspired By: That One Scene In The Royal Tenenbaums When Margot Has Brown Hair And Wears 15 Denier Tights' (see above).  I'm not blonde, and I don't have a bob, so therefore I will never truly be able to re-create Margot Tenenbaum's signature look, or the placid stare that makes her the amazing woman she is.

However, as always, it was fun to dress like one of my movie heroines - I'd never put liner on my bottom lashes before today.  Big moment guys!  I don't think I would have ever thought of putting a Lacoste tennis dress with loafers and a fur coat (Margot's is full length by the way.  And definitely not leopard print).  It seems a bit wrong to team something so summery with a coat that is definitely made to be worn from October to March.  But then Margot is very unconventional.  

The loafers are from Truffle, the coat is from ASOS, and the weird desire to cut off my finger with an axe and fall for my suicidal adopted brother is all Margot. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES 'SAVED BY THE BELL' PHOTOS










After doing a style dissection of the show on Tuesday I'm so happy to have been sent a link to these behind the scenes photos from Saved By The Bell, which were reblogged from Buzzfeed.

They're just wonderful, what I wouldn't give to rummage around in those big boxes behind the ladies (below), full of bracelets and coloured socks.  And how cute do Tori Spelling and Dustin Diamond look together?  Just hanging out all casual with an official SBTB letterman jacket.  Dreamy.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: 'SAVED BY THE BELL'





Saved By The Bell, the American TV series which ran from 1989 to 1993, has become an iconic slice of idealised teen-dom.  It was a show with strong morals, flimsy sets and a Principal with a very high pitched laugh.  Of course at the time I didn't care about any of that, I was far too invested in the lives and wardrobes of Jessie, Kelly, Lisa, Zack and Slater.  And Screech, kind of.  These were kids with golden California-sunshine lives, sure bad stuff happened but none of it ever lasted for longer than 25 minutes, and at the end we all came away having learned an important life lesson.  For example, don't do drugs, work hard, save your local diner, help old people.  That kind of thing.

Rewatching it now brings a rush of nostalgia: this was what I grew up thinking America was like.  But of course no one has a life like these guys, it's pure teen fantasy.  It's so safe, no one is ever in serious danger - there's no real peril.  It's warm and cosy, it feels a million miles away from shows like My So-Called Life, Beverly Hills 90210 and even Dawson's Creek.  Compared to the gritty real-ness of Angela, Joey et al, this is a cartoon.  Except in a cartoon the characters can go outside and are able to venture into more than just five rooms in their lives.  Seriously - all the scenes are either in the same bit of hallway, the same classroom, the diner, the gym, or one bedroom they just switch around depending on which character supposedly sleeps in it.

I also realised that the treatment of outsiders in the programme is sort of messed up.  The main characters, who are supposed to be good, honest people, are often laughing at other characters in glasses who are overweight/have nasal voices/snort when they laugh.  Stereotypical "nerds", I guess.  And boy nerds are nearly always in bow ties, while girl nerds have plaits.  Both wear glasses.  Obviously that's the show creators being lame-o's rather than the actors, but still it's a weird running joke to have on a show that's so preachy about being a perfect teen.  Oh, wait, it's because that means you have to be physically perfect too!  I just got that!

Here are some of said nerds.  Yes, one of them is Tori Spelling.








However, it wasn't all negative. The focus on working hard is pretty cool, and I think Jessie Spano gave me my first taste of feminism.  Sure it was a bit heavy-handed, but still.  Then there was Kelly. Kelly Kapowski was my dream girl, I wanted to be her so badly.  She was sweet, funny, beautiful, hard-working and great at sports.  And her wardrobe was perfect.  I always loved how fashionista Lisa Turtle dressed, but I knew I would never have the confidence to wear door knocker earrings, and Jessie's serious nature extended to her outfits.  But Kelly dressed like the coolest girl in the world, she was amazing.  

Here, let me show you.