2018 has been quite the rollercoaster, we Brits still don't know where we stand with this scrambled Brexit malarkey.
On the bright side, 2018 has seen the release of weird and wonderful film, TV, music, art and even memes. So if you fancy reliving the good stuff, here’s a special Temples Divided rundown of 2018…
2018 Fav Albums
1. Various artists - Black panther OST
With thanks to Hip Hop legend, Kendrick Lamar this album features all-stars such as; The Weeknd, SZA, Vince Staples and James Blake. Each song is worth of repeating countless times.
2. Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy
Vulnerable yet fierce enough to aggressively fight back criticism and sexism. This debut album put Cardi B to the top of big names in hip hop with her ‘unfiltered’ realness.
This year Cardi B became the first female rapper to get two number one US Billboard hits, with "I Like It" with Bad Bunny and J Balvin.
3. Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
CEO, actress, and established pop queen, Janelle Monae, released her third album this year and is built around the concept of tech fetishism and features LBTQ+ anthems for all.
Big moment in music
This year saw the loss of talented rapper, Mac Miller, just after his release of his new album ‘Swimming’ (he was also set to go on tour later in the year).
Mac Millers infamous battle with addiction, which he regularly documents in his music, and his accidental overdose, has shown many of his fans the gravity of substance abuse. Spotify have just recently released two studio-session songs by Mac Miller which both prove his music will live on.
Just when you think this Netflix showstopper can’t get anymore ‘real’, it does. This year adored ‘Bojack Horseman’ returned to our screens with season 5, with double emotional gut-punches than the last season. And yes, it’s still extremely witty, check out the ‘Quack Demarco’ poster below for proof.
2. Big Mouth
Adult cartoons seem to becoming a theme here. Season 2 of Big Mouth has recently been released and is rising in popularity rapidly. It’s a hilarious ‘coming of age’ take on puberty and sex, that doesn’t hold back.
3. Altered States
Louis Theroux has returned to our screens yet again for some quality documentaries. In particular, his documentary onPolyamory has sparked much debate and but even more out of context photos of Louis.
Big moment: Who will replace Kevin Spacey in House of Cards?
Following a string of allegations of sexual misconduct, Kevin Spacey was fired from his lead role in House of Cards. Much discussion was had on who would replace him in the hit series. Whilst speculation included other high profile male actors, the TV show announced early this year that Robin Wright and her brilliant character, Claire Underwood would be taking a powerful seat in the Oval Office. Since then, the show has gone on to receive countless positive reviews for its decision.
Our favourite films 2018
1. Black Panther
This superhero epic had an extremely successful release and remains one of the most successful films of 2018 and all time (it is the highest grossing film yet). Featuring both male and female heroes that fight for control over the African kingdom, Wakanda, this film feels a lot more important and has a lot more contextual background than any other marvel blockbuster to ever be released. Aside from the film’s political importance, it is an exciting, enjoyable film.
2. Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson, a director that continues to produce the most perfectly charming films, released an incredibly daring stop-motion this year. The story is centred around a pack of likeable dogs and their trek to make it off ‘Trash Island’ in Japan. It’s an emotional, adorable and witty ode to dogs featuring Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston,Scarlet Johansson, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton.
3. BlacKkKlansman Ever passionate, Spike Lee, returns to his directorial position with the help of ‘Get Out’s production team (Jordan Peele) to bring 2018 a hilarious period satire/sociopolitical wakeup call about the presence of ignorance and racism in our world —which is still very much alive in modern day America. The film highlights the true ridiculousness of these views by making black cop go undercover into the Klu Klux Klan.
Big moment: The loss of Stan Lee
Comic book writer and Marvel empire creator, sadly passed away this year at 95. Stan Lee has inspired and been the direct source to so many brilliant Marvel films (one of the most successful media franchises of all time) as well as pioneering change and change of policies in the comic book community. His stories/comics have and will continue to be loved by millions of people around the world.
Moments in Art
The Banksy shredding
"It appears we just got Banksy-ed," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's European head of contemporary art.
This year, anonymous and iconic street artist, Banksy pokes monumental fun at the art world.
In Sotheby’s (London), Banksy’s painting was put up for auction and sold for £1,042,000. Almost immediately, the painting appears to begin shredding itself through the frame. This is because, Banksy had prepared for the day his painting may be sold at auction. He had already built in an automated shredder.
The unlucky buyer of said painting walked away with their head held high claiming that they were “shocked at first” but they “now own a moment of art history”.
This ‘art history moment’ reminds us all what art really is.
Earlier this year (around late January, which is actually a year after the feature debuted) the Google Arts App blew up due to the fact you could compare a selfie to a piece of art that looks alike.
Although in the UK we were unable to use this feature on the Google Arts App (petition to bring this to the UK anyone?) we all sure did enjoy everybody else using it.
Our Favourite Viral Video
Our favourite 2018 sayings
2018 has been a great year for memes, sure. But, it also great year for sayings (that inevitably turn into memes). So let's pay homage to them before we can’t use them anymore because they’re ‘so 2018’. Here are our favourite two:
‘Big Dick Energy’ or ‘BDE’ - This saying is used to describe well, apparently, you’ll just know it when you see it. Women and men alike can both possess BDE. The saying all started after a tweet by Ariana Grande claiming her fiancé was well-endowed (this was hastily deleted) but, Twitter was already doing what is does best (reacting). According the Independent, this is the tweet that started it all:
“Pete Davidson is 6’3 with dark circles, exudes big dick energy, looks evil but apparently is an angel, and loves his girl publicly,”
Weird flex but ok’ - This saying just kind of happened to Twitter and surrounding social media, and it’s amazing. If you couldn’t already tell it’s used to refute an explanation or boast that some would describe as more negative than positive. It was just what 2018 needed.
Most Embarrassing News Moment
We had some very odd moments in news during 2018. Kavanaugh's open interviews about his youthful drinking and having to explain the meaning of 'Devil's Triangle' (we all know that's a threesome right, not a drinking game), was definitely a bizarre spectacle. However- Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg's congressional hearing took the biscuit for being truly ridiculous. Mark appeared weirdly robotic whilst discussing data privacy and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but the nuts thing about this was the lack of internet knowledge amongst the dinosaurs...sorry I mean Senator's. Just take a look at the youtube footage below put together by CNET.
That's 2018 done
We know there's a whole lot more we could've featured in this blog, but hey it's the holiday's... time to feast and get shitfaced in the spirit of Christmas. We'll be back to prepare a survival guide for 2019 Brexit.
Reminiscing - One amazing event out of 2018 was the PyeongChang winter Olympics. So we will leave you with these good memories..
I don't know about you but I get insanely excited about Halloween. Every year I challenge my pumpkin carving skills and try to plan some sort of spooky themed event which usually ends with me creating some terrible attempt of a costume. Whilst browsing the endless zombie walks and ghost tours, something grabbed my eye... HALLOWEEN IN TIGNES !?
Skiing in fancy dress, blood red swimming pool, haunted house... Hell yes!
Unfortunately I was too late and in the wrong country this time round, however convieniently my good friend Debi was. This was the second time the ski resort of Tignes in the French Alps hosted a Halloween Weekend, and I wish them many more!
" Being a lover of all things Halloween I was buzzing to discover that my mountain home of Tignes had decided to go all out and do a Halloween weekend. I was asked if I wanted to volunteer to be made up in special effects make up and run around town scaring people - I was more than happy to take part!! It’s not a full on fright fest though as it’s during a period of school holidays there’s lots of families with young kids. The beauty of it is that there’s something for everyone, from a haunted house with live action to the swimming pool being dyed red. All the volunteers had a great time and there were plenty of screams! Long live the goths Christmas!! I love Halloween! " - Debi Lawrence
Get ready to sink into some delicious melancholy with some open and frank folk-rock by Phoebe Bridgers.
‘Stranger in the Alps’ is an incredibly intimate album for the colder days approaching. Unlike most ‘folk-rock/pop’ artists you can expect to feel rather uplifted by the end of the album (Bon Iver etc.) but Phoebe’s approach is slightly more subtle as her lyrics remain dark as she switches from minor to major chords.
But, remember, we can all have some fun revelling in our blueness sometimes and Phoebe’s voice is an apt accompaniment for this.
Favourite song: Motion Sickness
2. Twin Peaks season 3 soundtrack
The Twin Peaks soundtrack has arrived just in time for autumn and it’s no coincidence that he album’s atmosphere is akin to the season of crystallised spider’s webs and pumpkins.
David Lynch’s obscurity doesn’t end with his films, his music taste is also often inimitable and little-known. If whilst during this season, you’ve been curious by the showcased talent, or you haven’t actually ever seen Twin Peaks but you’re open to exploring some sinister sounding uber-indie music, this album may be for you.
Its 20-track content is an interesting mix of classics you may already know; Otis Redding, ZZ Top, The Platters combined with the Bang Bang Bar’s eclectic and eccentric line-up throughout the series. This where you begin to enter the mind of David Lynch, he includes some of his favourite bands such as Chromatics (a strange Portland reared band) and even his son, Riley Lynch and his band, Trouble, whom sounds exactly how you’d expect them to.
However, if you were more interested in the score and want to walk about town on a foggy morn pretending to be a resident of Twin Peaks, then the ‘Limited Event series original soundtrack’ might be better suited for you. It even features David Lynch and Angela Badalamenti’s 90’s experimental freestyle stuff.
Favourite track: Shadow (The Chromatics)
3. Take me apart | Kelela
Soulful and provocative, Kelela blends vocals and lyrics reminiscent of 90s/00s R&B with fresh rhythms and echoic synth that ooze 2017. LA based, 34 year old, Kelela debuts after two accolade receiving mixtapes.
Unsurprisingly, Kelela’s digital production of ‘Take me apart’ has, so far, been described as “technically stunning” (Pitchfork) and “cutting edge” (The Guardian). Her lyrics, are that of the late night tossing and turning feeling, as she questions “will your love ruin my heart?” (Track 4, ‘Enough’) and then the next day as she gains the confidence to make advances “all you gotta do is let me know” (Track 7, ‘LMK’).
It’s safe to say that each song on the album is masterfully put together and gives you the cohesion of soul with electronic break downs. Perhaps Kelela could be described as a more mainstream FKA Twigs, even though arguably she is less heard of (but that should not take away from Kelela’s fresh and strange take on R&B)… either way, it’s worth the listen.
Favourite track: LMK
4. Dedicated to Bobby Jameson | Ariel Pink
The album starts out with a strange orchestral 80’s vibe Jesus jingle as Ariel repeats “time to meet your God”. Of course, if you’re a fan of Ariel Pink already you’ll already know that he loves a bit of a weird joke (whether you get them or not). The song, just as every album starter should, gears you up for the rest of the album. Which in ‘Dedicated to Bobby Jameson’ is full of far-out, airy indie-pop with a twist of psychedelia.
And, it is literally dedicated to Bobby Jameson (or at least the song ‘Dedicated to Bobby Jameson’ is) a 60’s singer-songwriter who was said to be drowned by the hype of the Beatles arriving in America and unfortunately never managed to bob his head above-shore after. Whether or not this bares any relevance to his own position in the music scene, I’m not so sure.
Favourite song: Another Weekend
5. 1992 Deluxe | Princess Nokia
A year later after the release of Destiny’s mixtape 1992, the Deluxe version brings more than what we could’ve hoped for. Her flow is more poised and addictive than ever, and as always, she has something to say, giving the rest of the artists in her diluted genre a run for their money. In 1992 Deluxe we get to know Princess Nokia a lot more as the music reflects her personality strongly. From the biographical and frank monologue in ‘Bart Simpson’ to more aggressive trap beats that endorse empowerment (‘Flava’).
‘Tomboy’ embraces Destiny Frasqueri’s outlandish and impressive confidence side as she yells “my little titties and my phat belly” and accurately describes herself “my body little, my soul heavy”. The song is basically equal to a large shot of caffeine with a dose of self-love. ‘Mine’ continues Solange’s point of ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ as Destiny informs “It’s mine, I bought it”.
There’s definitely a lot more to say on this 16-track-deluxe. So, please stick this on when you’re next in need of some hyping as it deserves your attention.
Favourite track: Bart Simpson
6. A Deeper Understanding | The War on Drugs
Adam Granduciel’s sound has, in the past, been compared to Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dylan, and Neil Young. So it’s clear that Adam has a nostalgic voice, but when you combine that with the more current and meticulous production of gentle strums and steady drums layered upon an array of other instruments riffing and you get The War on Drugs signature sound.
Although reluctantly, I am tempted to reduce the album to ‘good driving music’, but it is actually quite a good album to drive to. That said the album can be enjoyed anywhere. A Deeper Understanding isn’t vastly different to The War on Drugs’s previous albums it is a little more subdued, however, rather than romantic or uplifting. A Deeper Understanding is well, deeper as Granduciel says… “I want to find what can’t be found” (‘Pain’, track 2).
Favourite song: Holding on
7. Visions of a life | Wolf Alice
As the 90’s seep back into our fashion, as does it seep back into our music. Wolf Alice’s second album, ‘Vision’s of life’ is the grungy teen cliché’s dream. At times its punky and aggressive (‘Yuk Foo’), and then it’s all fairy-like, vulnerable and romantic (‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’). Reminding us of the hormonal ups and downs of our teenage years.
However, frontwoman, Ellie Roswell is definitely more complex (and cooler) than our teenage selves as the album uncovers the many thoughts, feelings and stories from her personal life. Her rhythmic rants actually comfort us in its sheer relevance “Twenty three years old and you’re acting like it’s over” (Sky Musings, track 6).
Visions of a life is the type of album you’ll keep coming back to.
The long drawn out evenings of summer may be tailor-made for a pint in a beer garden, dusting off your BBQ or strolling in your local park. And the cinema, might seem a bit of a waste of that glorious sun.
However, I’d like to make an argument that lately, cinema listings have been rather copious with great films. Films that, despite the blessings of temperatures above 10 degrees, might be worth a watch on the big screen.
The Big Sick
[Image sourced: http://variety.com]
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
The Big Sick is the rom-com we’ve been waiting for. One that can actually be described as genuinely ‘good’ against the other more serious genres. It follows the true story of Kumail, a Pakistani comic, and his relationship with a student called Emily. It features your typical rom-comian ups and downs with a splash comical relief. It is directed by the writer of Wet Hot American Summer and is produced by rom-com royalty Judd Apatow (40 year old virgin, Knocked Up, This is 40) so you can be assured that you’re in safe hands.
[Image sourced: http://metro.co.uk]
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Christopher Nolan returns with his first historical film which attempts to take you out of yourself and transport you to the horrific realities of war. Nolan’s flare for gravity pairs faultlessly with the remarkable WWII event. Although there’s little in the way of dialogue, it only seems to accentuate the ticking tension. Dunkirk has an ensemble cast including, Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and even Harry Styles.
A Ghost Story
[Image sourced: https://www.tynesidecinema.co.uk]
Directed by David Lowery, A Ghost Story is not a horror but a spooked drama depicting grief, love and the enormity of our lives here on earth. Casey Affleck, a sheeted ghost haunts his bereft wife, Rooney Mara, whilst journeying through his memories and history. The film demands patience and mind ready to contemplate. However, the cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo in this film is beautiful regardless.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Former heart-throb and villain, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, leave their type-cast roles at home to become the brothers, Jimmy and Clyde Logan under the direction of Steven Sodenburgh. And, they’re not the only ones trying to break out of the type-cast box as Daniel Craig returns to the screen as a southern jailbird. Jimmy and Clyde set to reverse their family curse through a NASCAR robbery. The perfect action-comedy that’s even been quite highly critically acclaimed, with Roger Ebert giving it 3.5 out of 4.
Atomic Blonde has been described as a film that may start a new wave of killer women (The Guardian). Although the plotline has been somewhat under scrutiny, the character, Lorraine Braughton (Charlize Theron) has been highly acclaimed. Many have said that instead of replacing Bond with a woman, we should just start making franchises with better female characters. Atomic Blonde could be the beginning of said franchise. The film itself is set in Berlin during the Cold War. With the wall about to fall it follows Lorraine, an elite spy as she investigates the murder of a colleague. The neon lights, bluey filters and 80’s soundtrack, sets the perfect tone for this predictable pleasure of an action flick.
Ranging from out-there and politically abrasive sounds to chilled raps and harmonies capable of floating- today, the female voice is truly boundless and when it is combined with an abundancy of style, creativity and significance, obviously, the product is quite something.
Here’s a few of the latest and greatest…
[Image sourced: http://www.standard.co.uk]
The 41 year-old British-Sri Lankan, Maya Arulpragasam, stage name: M.I.A, alongside her rapper/singer title has been labelled as a visual artist, activist and also a leading face in the mid-2000s Nu-Rave movement.
Her songs comprise odd instruments, strange samples and hard hitting lyrics. They are so controversial, in fact, that she has received widespread criticisms. However, Maya has never been afraid of shouting loudly over them and has been described as having a “testy relationship with authority” (The Guardian).
Having been a refugee herself, Maya isn’t fond of people turning a blind eye on the issue. She even called on Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to not only focus on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign but on the plight of other groups, such as today’s refugees. “I’dom, Me’dom, where’s your We’dom?” (Borders, AIM, 2016)
Her song ‘Borders’ also asks us “Identities (what’s up with that?)/ Your privilege (what’s up with that?)”. Parallel to the lyrics, the music video hauntingly depicts lines of people in the desert to highlight the rights-for-refugees agenda behind her music. It was, however, centre of a little row between her and MTV video music awards, as she was left off the nominations list which was, in her opinion, due to the company being prejudiced against her subject matter.
Very recently, M.I.A pronounced herself still on the scene with new track “Goals”. This time, could she be referring to the rise of unattainable ‘goals’: “Ride of your life, better bring your GoPro”? Accompanying the song, Jaime Martinez creates a video series of gifs.
NYC based alt R&B artist, Destiny, uses her strong voice to rap “high-tech fairy girl music” (Papermag.com). She can be found dropping mixtapes that highlight her obsession with individualism, voicing her support for the LGBT community, or telling her crowd at a gig “that’s what you do when a white boy disrespects you” (The Cambridge Student).
Growing up, she hosted parties and go-go dancing from the age of 16. So it’s no surprise where her strange and upbeat sound was born from. The first song she released that gained international recognition, ‘Bitch I’m Posh’, is a song which can best be described in one word: hot. Perhaps a more ‘serious’ tune to show the extent of her immeasurable talent is ‘Destiny’ a song that (according to the YouTube comments) she wrote when she was just 17. Fader also published a documentary by Orian Barki of Princess Nokia called Destiny, which is also an interesting watch.
Spoken-word artist? Poet? Rapper? Playwright? Kate Tempest’s limitless career allows her a strong platform to make claims of a lost Europe and tell stories of ordinary lives and struggles. Her righteous sounds may have flourished out of the “shitty part of town” that she tells The Huffington Post she grew up in. But aware of others struggles, she points out it was in a nice house, where there was always food on the table.
Supporting Scroobius Pip to Billy Bragg, Kate Tempest gained herself a rather large following even in today’s society which is diluted with pop. Her influences range from Samuel Beckett to Wu-tang Clan and her sound can be compared to a perhaps more politically aware Jamie-T.
[Image sourced: http://www.independent.co.uk]
Solange Knowles began her career at 16 with her first studio album ‘Solo Star’. After a few minor acting roles and writing for her older sister Beyoncé, Solange gracefully and properly returned to singing in 2008 with ‘Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams’ which infused sexy pop with motown (check out the song ‘T.O.N.Y’). In 2012, ‘True’ appeared: an album that may have been more influenced by R&B than the former (check out the song ‘Losing You’).
And to bring us up to date, last year she released ‘A Seat at The Table’ which was her first number-one album in the US. It was, rightfully, highly critically acclaimed. ‘Cranes in the Sky’ won the Grammy for ‘Best R&B Performance’.
‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, the song from her last album followed a very well-written and thought out essay on Solange’s ‘SaintHeron.com’. She writes…
“You and your friends have been called the N word, been approached as prostitutes, and have had your hair touched in a predominately white bar…”
“You don’t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought.”
Solange uses the perfectly soft and gentle warm sound of her singing voice to contrast with the strong, slightly angry lyrics in ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’.
[Image sourced: https://nationofbillions.com]
As well as being Kendrick Lamar’s favourite female vocalist to feature, Anna has seen the release of two fairly successful albums as a solo artiste. ‘The Feminine Act: 1’ and ‘The Feminine Act: 2’ are two strong albums with a strong message, which isn’t hard to guess what that message is from the name choice.
“No one tells the woman we go through the fiery flames to come out flexible,
A girl has got to try twice as hard and still it's you who says you made her”
(Stacking that Paper, The Feminine Act: 2)
As she sings of the many tribulations of the everyday woman, one can’t help but feel slightly disheartened by how relatable her lyrics are. That said, it’s pretty empowering stuff.
You could make the assumption her albums are all ‘girl-power’ but her lyrics are also akin to heartbreak and the complex array of emotions the female brain is subject to. But her music isn’t written simply for women, it is necessary for everybody to listen to it. Not just that, but her poppy alt sound is very enjoyable.
[Image sourced: http://www.boomtownfair.co.uk]
After attempting her own adaption of Flying Lotus’s ‘JAZB’ last year, IAMDBB has appeared on the music radars for the addictive sound of her strong yet relaxed and nonchalant voice. Mancunian artist, IAMDBB, says her genre is urban jazz (Google thinks it’s “ambient”) and claims that harmonies are key to her music and are a “vibe that the UK is lacking” (thenorthernquota.org).
She’s chilled, cool and niche and her music is the very same. She firmly believes in doing whatever she likes with her music and doing something that’s different. The Manchester urban music scene, according to IAMDBB is full of people “not practising what they preach, everything you do needs to be honest” (thenorthernquota.org). Her views and her music appear to be ‘right-on’ and she recently played at a Trafford Rape Crisis fundraiser in April (fun fact: she’s also sang for the Angolan president).
[Image sourced: http://www.telegraph.co.uk]
Russian, feminist, protest punk-rock band, (very accurately named) Pussy Riot, has had a fluctuating membership and as you probably already know have had their fair share of run-ins with the law. Their songs have lyrical themes ranging from LGBT rights, feminism, and a general “fuck you” to Putin. Even after being attacked with whips and pepper spray at the 2014 Winter Olympics they’re still provoking the establishment and have lately turned their attention on Trump with new songs last year called ‘Straight Outta Vagina’ and ‘Make America Great Again’.
We can look for the commonalities in these women’s approach to creating music, but maybe the only commonality is that they are all so strongly individual.
This was a super fun trip, I`d been planning this for ages. There is a video you can watch online about it. I had to travel to the city of Kuji for this; it’s a little difficult to get to. I went by coach from Morioka because it was SO much cheaper than the train. I stayed at my friends the night before, even though we live in the same prefecture it still takes 2-3 hours to get there. Our plan was to travel from Kuji to Miyako on the santetsudou, also known as the kotatsu train (if you don’t know what a kotatsu is imagine a bed and a table smooshed into one). It travels down along the Iwate coast line, which is super beautiful, on this day there happened to be a couple re-opening of stations that had been damaged by the Tsunami, the people were waving flags and dressed as mascots. It was pretty great to see how happy they were. The main highlight of the journey is the Namomi ogres that appear as you travel through one of the longest tunnels before you get to Miyako. They’re a unique version of the Namahage that are famous around Japan (originally from Akita), they punish lazy people who sit under kotatsu’s or scare little kids into behaving better. They wield giant knives called Deba knives and can only be pleased by giving them mocha, a famous Japanese treat. It was a pretty fun day, I really enjoyed seeing the ocean.
I wanted to come here after reading about it online, it sounded so cute! Its not very far from where I live however the travel is a little expensive (to be honest, travel is pretty expensive when you live in Japan). From where I lived a return shinkansen ticket cost me Y15,000 (about 125GPB). Ouch, my wallet. This place is situated in the mountains of Miyagi, in the town of ShiroishiZao. This place is pretty much in the middle of no-where. There is no regular bus so we had to take a taxi up to the Fox Villiage, which cost about Y4,200 (about 35GBP). It`s an expensive day out… When I arrived the first thing I saw was a giant Gorilla statue (a little weird at first but this is Japan), and then a taxidermy fox. It was still winter so all the foxes had super fluffy coats. They looked so cute! The black fox in the photo tried to steal our shoes, while we were wearing them! Parts of the village did make me feel a little uncomfortable however, I couldn`t help but feel that they were seen more as a product, which made me a little sad.
This is my second time coming back to Fushimi Inari, I am in love with this place. Each time I go I find something new… I hope to come back here for third time before I leave in the summer. Would really like to spend an entire day there just drawing…
If you get to come here, arrive very early morning or in the evening, between 11am and 2pm it can be pretty busy. The entrance is always full of people, it’s a little off putting but I assure you the higher you climb, the easier it becomes to move about. A lot of people only prefer to go half way.
The entire place has a real Studio Ghibli vibe, it’s gorgeous.
I’m just going to let the photos speak for themselves.
After the visit to Fushimi Inari, we jumped on a train across to Nara (maybe an hour away) to go see the bowing dear and the temples there. It was only a brief visit as there were many delays on the trains but it turned out to be very eventful.
I didnt`t get stuck! I think that means i will recieve good health this year? To be honest i think not getting stuck in their was good for my health.
Living in Japan is definitely an interesting experience, I`ve been to many places and plan to go to loads more during my stay here.
I`m going to use this blog to introduce a few `unknown` areas of Japan that I have been too, the area is called Tohoku. I will talk about a couple other popular places too, they`re all pretty cool, however my home prefecture (Iwate) was hit pretty terribly by the Tsunami in 2011 so many areas are still under reconstruction, others have been totally wiped off the map. More recently we were hit by a pretty intense Typhoon (last August); most of the damaged areas are still doing major clean-up operations. You realize quickly that the people here are super enduring. So I’m totally gunna do some shameless promoting. Not many foreigners visit here, I thought being a foreigner here would be difficult but it`s pretty great. Everyone wants to talk with you, you might be invited for tea by some super adorable little old Japanese couple or end up at crazy events (both of these have happened, one in the mountains of Kamaishi (iwate) and one in Osaka... i`ll let you decide which was which).
This was the highlight of the trip, visiting a 16th century Onsen in the mountains of Akita. Even though it was the end of March the snow here was still 6ft deep and most of the roads had been cut into the snow, it was pretty spectacular!
We left for Akita quite early in the morning. We had been told to arrive by 10.30am at the station. The Onsen is far up in the mountains, near lake Tazawako, so we had to take 2 buses – a local and a shuttle bus.
There was snow everywhere, the higher we went, the deeper it became. On arrival we sat in a beautiful tatami room, closed off from the public, where we could relax and drink tea.
We then spent an hour in the indoor bath before being shown to our 8 tatami room. It looked over the entire Onsen.
After dinner we rested, then went out to use the Onsen until 10.30pm. It started to snow, and there was even thunder and lighting, it was so beautiful however.
The next day, before getting the train home, we decided to get off at Lake Tazawako for an hour. It’s the deepest lake in Japan, with a depth of 423.4m, and crystal blue waters that are surrounded by snow covered mountains. The story is that a young woman who was seeking eternal beauty drank from a nearby spring and turned into a Dragon, leaving behind her family to live in the Lake.
It was pretty chilly so we enjoyed from Udon Tempura and treated myself to a Namahage t-shirt. I would really like to come back here in the summer to take a boat out onto the lake, it’s actually not that far away by Shinkansen so hopefully I will find some time to do that.
Imagine the world went to shit and there was this real Dr. Evil type in power - All that was learnt from mistakes in history was reversed, you were so pissed off that your body mutated into chunks of metal like that guy from Tetsuo (1989 Japanese film)...
Well that's how I would describe the vibe of Ho99o9's new album United States of Horror. You can almost taste the blood, sweat and tears in this album.
Let's be frank, you're not gonna be chilling out in your Sunday slippers whilst listening to this. 'War is Hell', 'City Rejects' and 'United States of Horror' are a handful of tracks that will have you tightening your boots and sparking your inner rebellion. There are a couple of numbers that do turn down the heat (probably to stop you from having an aneurysm and give you time to roll), 'Splash' and 'Hydrolics', like all traditional horror films will have you truely disorientated.
The album is a politically charged fusion of sounds from old school punk, to industrial metal and trap rap. The LA duo have just unleashed hell into our speakers and I think we needed it!
I survived a Ho99o9 show and I highly recommend you to catch them on tour! They do not disappoint - well that's if you can get in without the place being shut down on the first track.
Check out this video for United States of Horror...
(Tetsuo trailer if you didn't get my reference... and yes he has a drill for a dick.)
As I was sitting on the metro, as I almost always do- I stared out the window in a trance. When I suddenly started noticing interesting graffiti, once I noticed one mural I started noticing more. It occurred to me I was essentially enjoying free art that was unique and exclusive to my city. Street art isn’t just something you can use as a backdrop for your new profile picture… It’s is something to be admired and shared with your community.
This is one of my favourites that I managed to snap during my commute. After a quick Google session, I found that it was by Mexican artist, Bayrol Jimenez, who painted it in 2015, as part as the ¡Vamos! Festival. The comic-strip style images use bright, yet pastel colours to brighten up an otherwise dull and mundane metro station.
‘El Patio de mi casa’ – which translates as ‘My House’s Backyard’ by Bayrol Jimenez. Found at North Shields metro station in Newcastle.
After my epiphany, I began trawling through different street art online and for the purpose of this blog I have condensed my findings into a few of my favourite artists and some street-art hotspots. Who knows, you might live near some of them.
ROA is a Belgium street-art muralist that has recently been splashing his eerie animal inspired art around the walls of London (although his work can be find from Belgium, Cambodia to the US). His work continually cropped up, and continually caught my eye. His style is very specific and rather feral.
ROA told Hi-Fructose about his challenge-seeking addiction with graffiti - "every wall is different; the environment, the social life around it, the extern conditions, the size, the depiction, the challenge is always there"
For Birmingham, it is the streets of Digbeth that brag majestic street art. The custard factory, in particular, may ring bells for B—towners as it is known as the creative sector. The street-art that has livened the once bleak walls of Digbeth may be one of the main factors for its regeneration.
Photo: Francesco Falciani. [ Image: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/finest-street-art-spot-birmingham-11457502 ]
For Manchester it’s all about the Northern Quarter (shock) so next time when you’re in the area getting a coffee make sure you pop round to Stevenson Square to have a quick look. As every three months a nearby art shop Fred Aldous sponsors new artists to cover the once public toilets with a fresh mural. You’ll be glad to hear, this isn’t the only space where you can find street art in the northern quarter. It is brimming full of fantastic art often commissioned by the council to give the whole area an extra ‘edgy’ vibe.
If you’re a regular at the old abandoned Victorian house/nightclub/venue, Antwerp Mansion (Rusholme), it might be an idea to next time notice the actually rather expressive art splashed all over the walls. Antwerp Mansion is a free-for-all for graffiti and artists and as no limits apply it has resulted in some pretty cool and impressive artwork.
Based in Valencia, Spain
Escif is a Spaniard street artist based in Valencia. Once, anonymous now only slightly in the public eye- creates minimalist artwork that aims to convey messages. I liked this one in particular.
[ Image: http://www.widewalls.ch/artist/escif/ ]
Recently, Escif spent time in a Gypsy ghetto Font de la Polvora in Girona, Spain. In keeping with his social commentary style, he painted this mural of lemons addressing the dark reality of the Ghetto’s dependence on drugs. However, on the surface the bright, fruitful colours add a jovial pop to the impoverished street.
Created by urban/graffiti artist, Nychos in 2005 is the Rabbit Eye street-art movement. What was once just a concept, is now located in the centre of Vienna in the form of a shop and art agency. What I found cool about the movement is they are creating a community within a community by fuelling people’s street-art talent. It’s inspiring and they’ve also been behind the can on some really amazing projects.
“I created the ‘Rabbit Eye Movement’ as an homage to all the “Rabbits” out there who are active in the Urban Art Movement. It doesn’t matter what kind of mission they are following.” –Nychos
Born in Paulo Alto, grew up in Barcelona, now spray-painting all over the world. Aryz giant murals focus on its characters rather than a particular place or political message. This allows scope for the surreal which is my favourite thing about his work, but it also has a hint of street-art style pop-art.
Thundercat’s third studio album has descended slowly from space, marrying funk/ska fusion with chilled hip-hop… and it’s great.
The Guardian- 4/5 stars
The NME- 4/5 stars
The Young Folks- 8/10
If you fancy something a little different to listen to that will broaden your tastes and also leave you feeling like you’re floating in an upbeat-cosmic-fantasy, then look no further, ‘Drunk’ is for you.
Even if you’re new to the bassist/singer/songwriter, Thundercat- don’t worry, you won’t be leaving your comfort zone completely as Drunk boasts features from the likes Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrel and Flying Lotus. Drunk isn’t too different from his previous releases but perhaps provides an update lyrical-wise, more suiting to the struggles of a 2017 millennial “Don't call me, don't text me, after 2am. Unless you plan on giving me some” (Friendzone, track 14). However, if you dropped a couple of his newer songs back into his debut album, it wouldn’t sound out of place. So, newbies, Drunk is a fine place to start your Thundercat journey.
Overall, the 23-track album provides a fluctuation from a gooey plodding pace to a quicker, bouncier, beat. It is perfect for allowing your mind to relax whilst performing other tasks (whether that’s driving, cooking, tidying etc.). However, warning, it does include the occasional song where you might stop what you’re doing and groovily gyrate (“Friendzone” and “Them Changes”).
It is rare we get a full-length album off a solo bassist so it’s important to note his crazy-mad skills. They are highly noticeable in the funk-ska homage “Uh Uh” as he brags bass riffs too fast to comprehend- never mind perform. Accompanied by an expeditious drum beat and minor vocal ‘oohs’ we can focus our attention on the hurried fingers of Thundercat. On the more relaxing side of the album, Wiz Khalifah’s cool voice supplies the head-nodding rap in “Drink Dat” - a song that perfectly complements that drive home from work on a Friday with the sun-setting feeling.
When it comes to relatable lyrics, Drunk, is an album for those unrequited loves. In “Lava Lamp” (track 6) Thundercat offers his listeners some advice “Sometimes you have to let go to free fall away” accompanied by the creamy, whipped bass riffs it is (nearly) enough ease an achy-heart. Less romantically but more playfully, “Friendzone” tells the tale of a woman rebuffing his attempts at courting. Arguably the best song on the album is “Walk on by” which features Grammy winning, Kendrick Lamar. The groove gets down to a gentle toe-tapping beat, whilst Thundercat softly sing “at the end of it all, no one wants to drink alone” before Kendrick comes in with a rhythmically orgasmic rap. An altogether perfectly put together song. Also, it’s kind of cool to listen to a song by two people who enjoy hanging out as well as making music.
Thundercat, Kendrick and friends:
Thundercat, Anna Wise, Kendrick Lamar, Bilal and Terrace Martin Sonnymoon
We are incredibly saddened to hear the loss of one of the world’s most controversial contemporary photographers. Ren Hang passed away this week only aged 29, not long before his 30th birthday.
Ren composed striking visuals posing pale naked bodies with minimal backgrounds. Whilst some had a more natural look, others embraced eroticism with male gentitals sandwiched between disco balls and sculptural body positions leaving nothing to the imagination.
He was a self-taught photographer, who began by shooting nude photographs of his friends as a cure to boredom during college. Little did he know then that his work was soon to develop into a uniquely expressive erotic style, and he became known as one of China’s most popular radical artists.
"Well, people come into this world naked and I consider naked bodies to be people's original, authentic look. So I feel the real existence of people through their naked bodies.” - Interview with Vice Japan 2013.
Ren Hang’s work became the subject of many international group exhibitions, including "Medium of Desire: An International Anthology of Photography and Video," Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY (2015-2016); "FACELESS," Stichting Mediamatic, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2014); "Fuck Off 2 Chinese Contemporary Art Document," Groninger Museum, Netherlands (2013).
Photography from RenHang.org.
Although his work was worldly appreciated he never gained the recognition he deserved in his home country. Ren Hang was arrested in China multiple times for his sexually explicit photography. His website has been previously pulled offline, and his work has been defaced at exhibitions and confiscated by officials. Although asserting his work wasn’t political, his eroticism appeared to many as a middle finger protest to Chinese repression.
"I'm doing this because I still get a feeling of novelty from it,” he told CNN in an interview published last week. "And it fills the emptiness of my heart."
Ren suffered with depression throughout his life, an experience he shared with his followers through poetry and blog entries in a section titled My Depression on his official website.
An entry from 18.07.2016 put through Google translate: “…. see anything like a weapon, the leaves of the leaves like a blade covered with branches, the fork on the table like Darts, cola like grenades, I dare not eat, do not dare to drink water I sat in the chair, the chair seemed to be broken, and I lay on the couch, and the sofa seemed to collapse. I want to leave, but every step is like a cliff, every step is as difficult as the abyss.”
Ren Hang was in the process of working on a major solo exhibition at Foam, Amsterdam, after receiving the Outset Exhibition Fund at Unseen Photography Festival last September.
"Today we mourn the loss of Ren Hang, a talented and rising young photographer who passed away well before his time,"gallery owner Eli Klein wrote on Instagram Friday morning. "@kleinsungallery was honored to host his solo exhibition last year and send our heartfelt condolences to all of his loved ones.”
Last Thursday I ate my last healthy breakfast and prepared for 4 days of chips and rum. I was so stoked to attend London International Tattoo Convention once again, that I didn't even mind that I had forgotten my coat - ok slight exaggeration as that was one cold train ride!
The International Convention is held at London Tobacco Dock, and is an easy commute to from the centre via underground/ overground rails.
The event hosts hundreds of the worlds top tattoo artists in various galleries around the building. The artists have the opportunity to enter their weekends work into categorised competitions. The venue also has plenty of trading shops, art galleries and stages featuring entertainment such as beard competitions, Circus of Men and The Fuel Girls. There was also performances from bands including Orange Goblin and Raging Speed Horn. The venue also has food and bars on site.
For me this convention is one of the UK's best, in terms of quality of artists. There truly is some amazing work bashed out over the entire weekend. A massive inspirational collective of the best styles in tattooing.
I managed to capture a few shots on the old camera whilst browsing..check them out at the end of this blog.
A massive thank you to Beadesaurus (www.beadesaurus.co.uk) for stocking our product over the weekend. - Huge thanks to everyone to purchased it all!
As always it was lush to catch up with the Total Tattoo crew (plotting some plans with these guys in the future). Also great to meet with some tattoo artists and other brand owners.
Mike Egan is a Pittsburgh artist who is influenced by funeral homes, death, blood, wolves and devils. Of course we had to speak with him to find out more! Heres an interview we did with him earlier this year..
It states on your website that you used to work as a funeral embalmer. How did you get into a career like that?
Well, the story goes that I went to college for fine arts, where I focused on printmaking. After school I didn't really know what to do with my degree and didn't have access to printmaking tools. I ended up moving back home and got a job working for the airlines as I was close to the Pittsburgh airport. After about six months of working there September 11th happened and I lost my job. So not really having a direction with my art and having an unstable job led me to look into the funeral industry. There is a mortuary school here in Pittsburgh and I was very interested in learning how to embalming and restorative art. I enjoyed the work but the hours are terrible. I was oncall most of the time to pick people up to embalm them which led to me staying home to learn painting.
Were you always an artist or did that develop after working there?
I've always loved art ever since I can remember. I'm a kid of the eighties so I grew up drawing skateboard graphics and album covers like the Beastie Boys "License to Ill" and Guns and Roses "Appetite for Destruction"
Your paintings heavily feature death and religion; Is it fair to say that they are a therapeutic creation to your work history with death? Or is it an influence?
I think that its a little of both. Working in funeral homes is definitely a big influence, I make reference to the human anatomy, churches, coffins and of course the running theme of death. But I feel like getting all of this out of my head and onto wood panels and paper is sometimes a huge relief. I think if I kept all of these thoughts in my head all of the time I'd go crazy.
Do you ever get any people that may protest against your work for religious reasons. If so, how do you handle it?
I've only had one person message me about my work for religious reasons. She said that she was concerned about all of the death that I paint and especially the devils. She felt that I needed to be saved by the Lord. If anybody has anything negative to say about my work I tend to let it go, everybody has an opinion and everyone has different beliefs. Did I like that she said that? No not at all, however responding with more negative words wouldn't have helped matters.
What else influences you and your style?
When I was in college my printmaking professors turned me onto the art of the German Expressionists and Jose Guadalupe Posada, they kind of got the ball rolling as far as my style. I like a lot of southern folk art like quilt patterns and hex signs. Really any old antiques or graphics, that's what I've been looking at lately, oh and Russian architecture.
The number 13 reoccurs throughout your work, what does this mean?
13 is a lucky number for me, so I tend to repeat it over and over again. However I sometimes use it as an unlucky number in paintings as people tend to associate it with Friday the 13th.
You've explored with transforming your designs into resin toys and flip books. Can we expect to see more of these?
I'm not too sure. I'd definitely like to do another vinyl figure. But I'd like to figure out how to do my own figures out of wood myself. With my work being very folk art influenced I think that carving wooden skeletons and devils would be pretty amazing if I can pull them off.
What do you have planned for the future? Any goals?
I've got a bunch of shows lined up for 2016, I'll just be in the studio painting nonstop this year. As far as goals I really just want to keep exploring different ways to tell my story and keep finding new people to collect my work.
Laurie Vincent is mostly known as the crazy guitarist from the two piece British punk duo, THE SLAVES. He is also a kick ass painter, tattooist and fashion brand designer.
Here at TD we needed to hear from such a creative individual. Here's our interview from earlier this year....
Who are your idols?
I think I idolise my friends and family more than anything. My parents showed me how to work hard to achieve whatever you want. Current musical idols would include Die Antwoord. Their attitude to creativity is perfect. I think everyone can learn a lot from them its so important to have creative control in every aspect of your work and they are a great example of this. I love Tim armstrong from Rancid. Artistically I love Raymond Pettibon, Blu, Barry mcgee, Wes lang and recently Danny fox too.
Your painting work is contemporary and bright. The themes seem to be mixed imagery that people will recognise mainly from a consumers perspective. Is there any messages/stories behind them like the songs you have in your band, Slaves?What has inspired your painting techniques?
I started just painting simple everyday things that everybody recognised and had a relationship with. Ive become really interested with peoples interactions with mundane things that appear worthless. Pot plants, carrier bags, seagulls, fruit. The everyday mundane being the focus of my work. Recently i have started to tell more stories through my art. I like to leave them to be seen by the viewer though. I don't think its my place to tell anyone what to see in a piece of art. It should always be the viewers right to make their own story up as to what the piece says.
I've noticed you sell your paintings through the "Young Lovers Club". This is also the name of your fashion brand. What is YLC?/ What motivated you to start up a brand?
I sell prints of my paintings but originals are something i've been holding onto. Growing up i have always been obsessed by clothing brands, bathing ape, johnny's cupcakes stuff like that always interested me because it included art in the designs. Ive always loved bright bold imagery and i've been trying to make different clothing brands since i was a kid. YLC is something i had going in the early days of slaves but couldn't afford to sustain it. Since we have enjoyed a bit more success i was able to invest in starting it up. I love making clothes that i want to wear. Thats my favourite part!
You are also a tattooist. How long have you been tattooing for and how would you describe your style?
On and off for 3 years. Thats a hard question maybe somewhere between traditional and illustrative. I dont like to put myself in a box though.
With Slaves touring and becoming more and more popular (congratulations on the success so far) Do you find it difficult to find the time to paint, tattoo or work on your brand?
Its definitely really hard to balance your time equally between all the different things I pursue. Some weeks it works well and then sometimes it doesn't. hopefully one day I will be able to balance it perfectly.
Have you struggled at all with pursuing such a heavily creative lifestyle? / would you recommend a young teenager choosing their options to pursue in a creative path?
Yes. Its a hard path to follow and its not something a lot of people seem to do. So people warn you to get a good job and go to uni. I think you just need to have a brutish sense of determination. It doesn't get handed to you on a plate. You need to know what you want and keep chasing it un till it happens for you. One thing i wouldn't necessarily recommend is attending a university or college to study creatively. I think it can hinder a lot of talented peoples paths. You cant teach creativity in my opinion. It just needs encouraging and nurturing more.
What can we expect from Laurie Vincent in the future?- Any more hidden talents?
An exhibtion is my next goal. My paintings look a lot different in real life and id like people to be able to come and see them in the flesh. I'd like to make a cook book of some sort one day too. I think that would be fun!
Earlier this year we discovered an exciting individual via the waters of Instagram. Chris Collins is not only a crazy bearded bloke high on life, but also co-owner of a unique art gallery, 'Defenders of Good Times' over in Oakland CA. We had to find out more... Here's an interview from earlier this year..
How would you describe yourself as a creative individual and how have you balanced work life with this life choice?
Growing up I had no creative outlet. I was told that art was not my thing and for some reason I listened to that. So the majority of my life has been nonstop input, observing, studying and admiring from a spectators point of view. Now that I do make art and am constantly creating and releasing all of my ideas I realized that there is no balancing passion and work. They have to be one in the same so I have allowed creativity to consume my life. I've accepted the struggles acquired with what I have chosen to do artistically and learned from my hardships so I can adapt to the craziness of living poor and free. Making what I need instead of working for needless wants.
What are your inspirations / motivations?
My main inspiration is life and all of the crazy shit that I have seen throughout my years. I have gone through an endless list of lifestyle changes and feel that I have lived through them all in order to find myself. I am for the most part still as lost as I ever was, which I think allows me to remain inspired. I have also been surrounded by images that give me a tangible source of inspiration whether it's skateboard graphics, album covers, tshirt designs, comic books, toys, stickers patches, pins, architecture or nature. I just constantly see things that spark ideas in my head and make me want to create something that can spark ideas in others. My motivation is the desire to be a part of life and effecting people's minds so that they realize they are not alone and can relate with other weirdos and to brighten people's view in a world that's clouded by mass media and emotional burdens.
What is D.O.G.T?
Defenders Of Good Times is an open minded, open submission art collective that gathers artists at a round table all on the same wall based around the idea of no rules and no expectations in any medium and subject matter. This allows the artist to show an honest display of their creativity and artistic expression with no restriction and no avenue of acceptance. Everyone is accepted in this movement, no matter the individuals personal actions, lifestyle decisions, experience in "art" or status in the art world. Someone's first doodle can have as much of an effect as someone's masterpiece that they have spent years creating. Not to downplay people's hard work but there will always be someone that appreciates or understands what it is that you are doing, even if it's as simple as making someone smile for a second. What you produce effects the world in some way.
Why did you create D.O.G.T? / Do you feel there is a lack of opportunities for creatives to exhibit their work where you live?
I have seen so many discouraged artists that have personally impacted my life and stagnant people that don't create because they feel like what they make serves no purpose and is just "crappy" and honestly some of the work that I have seen by rookie D.O.G.T artists has left an awesome impression in my mind and made me apprectiate the simplicity of honest release through art. I want people to feel understood and appreciated for their productivity. No one should be looked down upon by people more experienced. We are all just expressing our love for the things we consider good times!
Has there been any tough obstacles for you whilst setting up D.O.G.T?
D.O.G.T has been filled with endless obstacles and struggles, which I cannot imagine will slow down anytime soon. There is no perfecting this, it is a collective of over a thousand artists run by myself and one other person, Kiki. This was all started from nothing, just an idea with no financial backing or prior knowledge of the art world and how things are supposed to be done. Every day is just another set of lessons learned. Basically I have no idea what I am doing so D.O.G.T as a whole is an obstacle.
Why do you think people submit their work to D.O.G.T and are there any boundaries?
I think artists submit to the collective because they understand that it is a positive movement. Our purpose is to encourage people to be themselves and share their honest creativity with eachother. We are in this because of our passions, what we do is for everyone, they are all as much apart of this as we are. There are no boundaries or limits to D.O.G.T. It's an ever evolving idea and movement.
What are your favourite submissions / anything someone has done in support of D.O.G.T?
My list of favorites could go on and on. There are so many incredible artists and pieces of artwork involved here that they are all kind of my favorites. There has been so much amazing support from people all around the world that is unseen that I could write a book just on the kind words and actions people have shared that make this all possible.
What are your goals with DOGT's future?
The main goal with D.O.G.T is to never slow down. We will continue to grow in every avenue and aspect of what we do. Especially finding new ways for everyone's work to be seen and appreciated. The integrity of this movement is what is most important. It is simply what it is and that's what it will remain. We will continue pushing new ideas and trying new things but in the end...what you see is what you get.