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Where Are The Girls? - Jemima Kirke on women in art

Above is Jemima Kirke, otherwise known as Jessa in HBO’S Girls. With the consistently funny, heartbreaking, accurate and, at times, shocking performance, it’s hard to believe that acting isn’t even her first gig! Her first and foremost love is fine art, and you can watch her in action in this super cool “unlock art” video about sexism in the art world.

-Issey Goold   

For the latest installment of the “Coltt Classics” series, Nadia Hourihan revisits David Lynch’s debut “Eraserhead”

Share with me your nightmares. Blurred. Brutal. Beautiful? Eraserhead satisfies on each account. Filmed over five years punctuated by catastrophe (Two years in, cinematographer Herbert Cardwell, 35, died in his sleep), David Lynch’s debut is achingly, stubbornly perfect. He is dizzyingly, dazzlingly drunk on the elixir of diseased fantasies. The shackles binding him to reality are long rusted; reduced to dust.

   The story is sparse; Henry Spencer, dystopian-industrial-backdrop-ed, is coerced into marriage and fatherhood. Their monstrous offspring repels the mother, and Henry is sacrificed to solitude. It’s a barely-there narrative; but that doesn’t permit unimportance. Already Lynch’s gospel has germinated; through dark (and darkly funny) episodes his bleak parable will bloom.

Thematically, Eraserhead will ensnare horror enthusiasts (Stanley Kubrick made the cast of The Shining watch this film to get into a suitably unsettled mood) and philosophy PHD students alike (Eraseread is both a case study in solipsism and an autopsy on nihilism). The non-musicality of the score (Minor chords are absent) nurtures this horror: Dread manifest. Composed by Lynch and Bandalamenti, the chugging of machinery, grating of metal and paranoid fatalism are rooted in the organic ambience of the setting. 

   Visually, Eraserhead will sate the desires of “obscure-mongers”. The low contrast black and white functions on a plenitude of levels; it drains Henry’s life of vibrancy all the while providing a grim medium for images fated to haunt the dusky peripheries of your subconscious. Dust. Planets. Grannies. Radiators. Mutants.  Enigmatic orifices. Perverted nature.  Lynch’s stew of the utterly absurd and ineffably beautiful simmers at different heats in every mind. No two could arrive at the same interpretation. And therein lays the richness.

For me, (Personal interpretation alert) Eraserhead encases the viewer in an utterly consumptive lust for creation; a lust which refuses to subside; a lust that sweats disgust; a lust that treads too close to death. Essential viewing.

Nadia Hourihan

Coltt Sunday Playlist - 29/06/2014

New Releases:

  • Jamie xx // All Under One Roof Raving
  • The Circles // Gonna Get To You
  • Bleached // For the Feel
  • Hoenyblood // Super Rat
  • Diamond Youth // Red Water

From the Vault:

  • Miss Li // I Can’t Get My Mind Off You
  • How to Dress Well // & it was u
  • Harlem // Cloud Pleaser
  • Nelly Furtado // Say it Right
  • The Pixies // River Euphrates

Song of the Week:

  • fka twigs // Two Weeks

Coltt Classics 

Harry Hennessy revisits the “greatest independent film of all time”, Reservoir Dogs

Lauded by many as the greatest independent film of all time (and in this humble reviewers opinion one of the best of all time, period) “Reservoir Dogs” catapulted Tarantino to fame, introducing the genius to the greater public (we are immensely grateful) and giving us the first glimpse of his distinct and flawless style of film making. The psychological-crime thriller follows the events succeeding a jewelry heist gone wrong, beautifully framing the four surviving criminals and their bosses descent into tragedy through suspicion, fear and violence.

The ideas of trust and moral conscience recur constantly, and are vividly portrayed in the film: the robbers are unified and torn apart by their bonds of loyalty, respect, and mutual distrust of others, with a foundation of lies and manipulation leading to their inevitable downfall. Mr. White (portrayed by Harvey Keitel) impressively sums up the role of “old school” mafia man, heavily influenced by his almost Sicilian principles of honour among thieves and trusting nature ironically contrasted against his immoral actions and the last pull of his trigger finger (if that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will). Michael Madsen as the enigmatic and psychopathic Mr. Blonde is everything we are told as scared children about the world of crime (evil men doing evil things just to watch the world burn), and in most films would have stolen the show with his twisted and haunting nonchalance, if not for Tim Roth, a revelation as Mr. Orange.

By far the most striking motif in the movie is the criminal morality. Throughout the film, Tarantino creates a blatant disregard for basic social norms and a compliance with intrinsically wrong acts accepted as the norm itself. The comparatively naive high moral standards of Mr. Orange accentuate the complacent horrors of this world, and the confusion and torture those of pure mind endure when faced with these realities. His inner turmoil and shock at those around him is masterfully portrayed, and his outer turmoil and shock is beyond perfection - indeed, Roth’s transformation and, ultimately, portrayal of the angst and regret every man experiences before death is legendary (if the film hadn’t been independent he’d have an Oscar right now, but that’s a rant for another day).

In what soon became his trademark, Tarantino exposes violence bluntly and honestly in a brazen act of harsh reality rarely welcome in cinema, but which perfectly suits this gripping underworld tale. His stunning dialogue paired with his cunning non-linear storytelling slowly develops the piece and each intricate character - and besides, the dialogue is, quite frankly, cool - above and beyond what any other screenwriter can do. This harrowing tale stresses the love any man can feel irregardless of disposition and morality, and shows us how in our bleak and violent world, good always succumbs to evil, all in the classic Tarantino style. If you haven’t seen it yet, get your act together post-haste.

Harry Hennessy

Z-SZA

 

Z is the debut label-release of SZA (Solana Rowe), who has been hailed as the future of R&B and a female counterpart to Frank Ocean following the last year’s See.SZA.Run mixtape. But this album is so sun-drenched, so effortless, no one would ever guess it was made with any sense of anticipation or pressure.

            The whole thing is driven by incredible production, with spiraling, addictive synths and beats, ranging from true dancefloor pop to something altogether more sinister, from jazz –like melodies to sparing melancholy. However, the quality and enthralling atmosphere are consistent, and you never once feel in any way detached.

            She opens with the slow, easy distortion of ‘Ur’, before skipping on through the chilled perfection of ‘Child’s Play’ (with a guest verse from Chance the Rapper) and ‘Julia’, her most glittery pop track. This leads into ‘Warm Winds’, arguably the defining track of the album, if only because of its variety, going from heavy thrums of synth into a gentle wind down, showing off both her vocal and lyrical prowess, as she coos “we were all 13 once, long live tramp stamps and Pepper Ann”.

            She follows through with the trill of ‘Hiijack’, the dark echo and sinister lyrics of ‘Green Mile’, and the haunting ‘Babylon’, with Kendrick Lamar. The album finishes on a run of the clever, jazzy ‘Sweet november’, sparing and achingly beautiful ‘Shattered Ring’ and ‘Omega’, filled with a wistful intensity as she asks you to ‘keep your feet firmly planted in the sky’.

            But despite these changes in tone, her vocals pervade every track like incense smoke, distinctive and bittersweet, making it all unmistakably hers. These are paired with often extremely dark lyrics, like a repeated cry of “crucify me”, or the image of a massacre with “bodies arriving every day”, which gives it all a sharp, sinister edge.  The whole thing sounds like an overheated summer, in all its captivating dramatics.

 

9/10

 

Iseult Deane

 

At six years old I put my limited drawing skills to use and began designing my dream wedding dress; a frothy, ten-foot-train, tulle topped disaster. It never occurred to me that that dress would only be required on a day for celebrating my unabashed love for someone. All I wanted to do was play dress up. And if I’m honest, that’s all I still do.

At age ten, I watched my cousin walk down the aisle in a gorgeous white washed town on a tiny Maltese island to classical music strummed quietly on a harp, and knew it wasn’t for me. Not the extravagance or the expense, but the marriage itself. It put me on edge to think that someone would declare their love and commitment in front of everyone, both the people they loved and the people they were forced to invite.

And now at the ripe old age of sweet sixteen it’s becoming clear that I want no part of the murky world of relationships. My mother insists that it’s only because I’ve never had a relationship. Maybe she’s right; I mean I’ve never been kissed, never held someone’s hand, never gone on a date. But on the last day of my last year of ‘nerd camp’ this summer a boy told me of his feeling towards me and asked if he could kiss me. I had no feelings for this boy and the mere question sent shivers down my spine and not the good kind, so maybe I’m right.

Before moving to a new school, I asked the friends I would be leaving behind what they thought of the infamous ‘first kiss.’ They all said it was awkward, usually a tangle of braces and most of them happened at discos in the local GAA club, the five girls I asked are all in long term relationships ranging from five months to almost three years, so I knew they knew what they were talking about. We had talked about it extensively over the years and I always lied and said I had kissed someone. I provided very sketchy details but no one copped it until I told them in June that I had lied. I hated lying, but I hated feeling left out even more.

An English teacher once explained the difference between love and lust: love- ‘to have feeling of affection towards someone’ and lust- ‘to have a great desire for something or someone’. It was then, in my last English class before we broke for Christmas, that I had my eureka moment. The penny dropped. It was obvious that all the boys I said I loved to make myself feel normal was in fact a case of lust and not love, in much the same way I lusted after this season’s hand painted Burberry tote to be swinging jauntily from my arm. I love my family (most of the time) but I have never loved a boy. There were rumours that maybe, just maybe, I hadn’t come out of the closet yet. And while I do spend most of my free time in the closet, it’s picking out clothes and rummaging through stacks of material to make my own version of Hedi Slimane’s boxy blazer without selling my kidney, and not waiting to be outed by two friends that made a wager guessing which girl would be my first kiss.

My therapist once asked me if the idea of waking up next to the person I loved made me happy. When I said no, he stared at me for a few very long minutes looking incredibly perplexed and utterly befuddled. I got the same reaction when I vocalised my aversion to matrimony. After clearing his throat he wondered why I didn’t want a relationship like my parents. I said I didn’t know because, truly, I didn’t. I was told to describe my parent’s relationship. They’ve been married for eighteen years. Every anniversary is blatantly ignored and slips by like an ordinary day. There are no flowers, no dinners for two, nothing. I saw my parents kiss once- a blink and you’ve missed it kind of kiss from my father onto my mother’s cheek. Pet names, holding hands and any form of affection are foreign concepts to my parents. In sixteen years I have never ever heard my parents say they love each other. They very rarely fight and when they do it only last a few minutes and is quickly forgotten. There is no romance. I know they both love and like each other but I just don’t know if they’re in love with each other or if they ever were. It’s like they settled. People say you learn by example so maybe I have a warped sense of relationships on account of my parents, maybe I’m just cynical, but I know for certain that any relationship, certainly one like my parents would be my idea of hell. He informed me that I needed to experience it for myself and that every relationship is different and that I shouldn’t make decisions that would affect my entire life based on one example.

I’ve been thinking recently about whether I should kiss someone, anyone who was willing, just to get it over and done with. But even without putting feelings behind the action I felt paralyzed. On the very rare occasion I talk to people about this particular aspect of my life I always end up using adjectives that would usually describe nerves or uneasiness, which nine times out of ten leads people to the conclusion that I’m just nervous and that it’ll happen when I’m ready. I pride myself on having a rather extensive vocabulary, but for all the words I do have I don’t have the right ones to express how I feel. Then my friend gave me a word: asexual.

I like how it sounded, how it was concise and how it expressed all the things I didn’t have the right words to say. But not everyone liked it. Whenever I described myself as asexual people got angry, angry that I would chose to remain single for the rest of my life, that I would ignore any advances made towards me. They were angry that I would be alone. I soon found out that no one like the idea of people being alone. But most people didn’t know the difference between alone and lonely. They promised to help me find someone. Some even promised to make sure he fit my father’s strict criteria- good family, intelligent, play sport, earning capabilities of over eighty thousand a year. No one wanted to hear that I didn’t mind being alone especially being only sixteen.

Maybe my mother is right, it could be that my therapist is right, or maybe I’m right. I don’t mind being left alone. And I know for certain that I did not chose these feeling or lack thereof but I refuse to feel guilty for not providing my father the opportunity to walk me down the aisle. I may never get married but that doesn’t mean I can’t dress up in vintage wedding dresses, now does it?

 

Orlaith Cullen

6

Paris is Burning

When one sits down to watch a documentary about drag queens in late 80s New York, one expects at most a bit of whimsy or wit to brighten up the daily grind. So, I found myself shocked to be more profoundly affected by Paris Is Burning than any other film I’d ever seen.

It swayed far from a fantastical ode to glamour, instead presenting, with a chilling indifference, the gritty reality of life for people who dared to be themselves within this setting. Dozens of drag queens from young to old are filmed speaking on everything from their styles and philosophies to their personal challenges, which were often almost too heartbreaking to think about.

On top of the standard issues faced by people of colour growing up in mid  20th century America, they face homophobia and transphobia at every stage, often even from their loved ones. The full picture is built from a series of collected moments; one queen speaking of an instance where his mother burned his prized fur coat with the same nonchalance as if he had been talking about the weather, or another older queen discussed how as a child he thought he’d wanted to be Marilyn Monroe but only realised later that he wanted to be Lena Horne. The true poignancy is found in the resigned indifference with which the queens talk about these challenges. They feel little passion or anger about it all; they have accepted the hatred they receive like they once had to accept that the grass is green.

Yet do not despair, as I have yet to mention what makes this film so inspiring. Despite having resigned themselves to their fate, they create a most glorious and beautiful culture and community, so pure and joyous that for a time it casts the shadows away. They thrive on acceptance and love, and treat one another like family. They ignore the mere trivialities of survival and focus on beauty, glamour and dance. Their lives and their records in this film show that no amount of hatred can ever kill what is truly beautiful.

Seán Ceroni

Sunday Playlist-3/8/14

New Releases:

Heavy Metal & Reflective // Azaelia Banks

How Can You Really // Foxygen

Bare Wood Aisles // Neon Waltz

Rapt // Karen O

New Dorp, New York // SBTRKT feat. Ezra Koenig

From the Vault:

Afro Blue // Robert Glasper Experiment feat. Eryka Badu

Dilemma // Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland

La La Love You // Pixies

Pennies from Heaven // Billie Holiday

Wasting My Young Years // London Grammar

Song of the Week:

Real // Kali Uchis

2

The Outsider

 ‘But I suppose you must touch life in order to spring from it’

- Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

I crave the feeling of lung-fulls of moving air, of busyness and happenings against a backdrop of a beautiful and complex humanity. I crave the beat of sunlight and the echo of my voice in a microphone and the feeling of someone else’s fingers entwined with mine. I have always, and believe I always will.

   But for some time, from around the age of nine, I was forced to view all of this from the outside, as if through a veil. I was forced by a paralyzing fear into only commentary on events and never creation. I could not touch life: I could not touch anything. The fear of germs and swarming infections left me washing my hands so often that they were dry and bleeding, and with near-constant shallow panic-breath. This veil stopped me from being a part of life as I wanted to be so badly.  My compulsions replaced rationalism, forming their own warped patterns, maliciously twisting all logic and turning me into an outsider from the inside through.

   Eventually I had to learn to touch again. I was made carry “dirty” things around in my pockets (coins, a single Barbie shoe, the lid of a pen) or run my fingertips down the banister on my way downstairs for dinner. Slowly, the ability to do small things like press a button on an elevator created a new kind of activity, a child-like one that I had lost entirely. The energy I had put into obsessing could once more be used in participating. Touching life once again became both a physical and a philosophical possibility.

   I was still young and very scared. When you have been on the outside, making your way back in can feel like drowning. All that has happened from there are stories for another day, but still now whenever I can, whenever I feel I can swim steady again, I laugh with my whole body so that I can’t stand up straight and swap all my shoelaces with ribbon in utter gratitude. I have felt the chill of standing outside of life, and so now touch it with every chance that I get, whether that means good or bad. 

   ‘Outsider’ is not a badge that I believe should be worn with pride, and certainly not by those who aren’t politically oppressed (I’m white and live in a developed country; I have no right or wish to put forward any ideas of reclaiming the title).  It suggests a form of oppression, whether externally or internally sourced, the only small comfort from which is the added sweetness of relief. It is not an ideal to be strived for, and I am acutely aware that even within this piece I have insulted countless others who’s struggle has been far greater than mine, to whom I can only apologise. The outsider is powerless. That cannot be forgotten. If you cannot at the moment touch life as you want to, please hold out for your veil to lift. And please, if you can, grab it and with that power try to build a world with walls fluid enough for those who need a way in.

Iseult Deane

2

Well, it was inevitable. Ever since he put that paper bag over his head, the sirens have been ringing.

However, errbody needs to chill out. He has much stranger places to go and, in fairness, he did his best to avoid what’s happening right now- it’s written all over that petulant once so well hidden face. He might need a “I’m not a paedo” bag before the week’s out.

Ultimately what makes this video so perverse is its attempts to not be.

Take Shia; all over his face is simultaneously and painstakingly written the countenance of “a concerned father”, “a passionate lover”, “NO NO I’M NOT A PAEDO” and “fuck this is awkward, am I a paedo?”

With this plethora of expressions excruciatingly cobbled together, it’s no wonder he grew that beard - if nothing else but respite for half his acting centre (his face).

Unfortunately, in doing so, this troubled and talented artist has perfectly brought to life one Humbert Humbert; fiction’s most impressive and depraved paedophile. He encapsulates the mans charm and endearing rationalisation, his buckets of denial, his paternal lust, awkward and repressed. Bravo leBeouf, you accidently made this video very interesting.

And as for little Maddie. Well. Need I even say it? She’s the definition of Lolita.

At 12 she’s the right age, she’s pretty, but most importantly at every moment the camera shows her, she shows us that Lolitan cocktail:
the innocence of childhood shining through pitiful attempts to appear grown up, or, in this case, grasp and execute the artistic nuance of Sia.

And she does a great job, hats off; but come on, she’s a child and every time she bravely attempts passion and intensity she appears more juvenile than even her most giddy moments (the scrabbling at her neck whilst pulling a gruesome face is just one adorable example of the latter).

So yeah Sia, you’ve done nothing wrong. You wrote a song (I’m not commenting on it, that’s not why I’m here) and your idea to portray the two sides of Sia in a steel cage of emotion is stellar - particularly considering we constantly see this struggle in your angsty media aversion. But through factors not alterable in Ziegler and indeed noble in LeBeouf, a fascinating take on Humbert Humbert and Lolita has been created. You may not be proud, or see this as praise (or see it at all), but Sia, you have made enduring art that everyone’s talking about.

And that’s a type of lens you can’t and won’t hide from.

Harry Hennessy

Are you tired of being an average kid? Do you envy the wild and individual cool kids in the city? Fear not! After reading Rowan Crerar’s guide to being “cool” you will be the grooviest kid in all the land! Step 1 - Social media Spice up your instaG, and by that I mean up the brightness, down the contrast and making it as boring as possible. All I want to see is solemn selfies, pictures of grimes and swim deep, and a lot of plants. Make sure your captions paint you as being really mysterious and miserable or nobody will pay any attention to you! Post pictures of the sky, get a pair of docs and take pictures of them too! You’re almost social media savvy! Next, add a few X’s to your Instagram name. For example, I would change my @ from @rowancrerarr to @rxwxancrxrxrr so everyone knows that I don’t need vowels to be me. They make me seem really edgy, I’d highly recommend them. Never post on Facebook. Facebook is for inbreds, and it’s sooo 2011. All you need is tumblr and Instagram for keeping in touch with your cool friends!

Step 2 - Appearance Obviously to be cool you have to look cool. So therefore you have to look like all the other cool kids because that’ll make you really unique and chic. Wear a lot of black clothing and black eye makeup (regardless of gender, let’s pretend it’s the 80s). This will make you seem gothic and lifeless, that will make people want to be you, you just can’t be bothered to look alive and that ‘cba’ chic is totally vogue right now. Take selfies so they make you look like you have super prominent cheekbones so that everyone thinks you’re a model and really hot.

Step 3 - Watch movies You just cannot be cool unless you watch films, and by films I don’t mean standard everyday films you and your chums watch, I mean obscure films filmed in odd lighting and in different languages. The more of these indie films you watch the more indie points you get, and the more respected by the world wide indie web community you become. There are far too many to list, but I’ll give you a helping hand.

  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Virgin Suicides
  • Amelie
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Pretty in Pink


Step 4 - Music

This part is crucial. You must only listen to music that nobody else except fellow cool kids know of. Obscure and under the radar bands like Arctic Monkeys, Swim Deep, Grimes, The Smiths and Peace. These bands are really unknown. This is good because people will think you are individual and unique, further adding to your mysterious vibe.


Things a cool kid never listens to
- Rihanna
- Drake
- Rita Ora

One Direction are acceptable. In fact, keep your one direction merchandise because it’s actually really cool to love bands ironically. One Direction are the best for this, but other good choices are JLS and Take That.

Step 5 - Ignore all the crap I’ve just told you
Sorry kids, I lied. There is no guide to being cool. What’s popular on the internet isn’t what you should hold yourself to. If you want to post hundreds of pictures of white walls and plants then do it, if that makes you happy do it! If you want to follow internet trends then do it, just know that it won’t make you cooler or better than other people like I suggested.

The thing that makes people cool is when they are themselves. When I see someone who doesn’t give a hoot about what anyone thinks about them I think they’re pretty cool. If you wanna wear triple sole creepers out and you do you rock, you’re badass and insanely cool. If you wanna listen to German folk and wear knitted jumpers you rock, you’re cool.


So what I’m trying to say is this summer instead of trying to change yourself to be popular on twitter or Instagram just be yourself, be cool and embrace yourself.

Rowan Crerar

6
Feeling the vocational tug of cinephelia? Blank at the precipice of the cyber-abyss?  Drowning in an excess of time (It’s SUMMERRRRR) ? Get off that Empire magazine blog post-haste. Let Coltt help. Some of our writers have each submitted their favourite five films for you to enjoy.  Watch. Be humbled. Be utterly indebted to cinema. It’s that simple. Nadia Hourihan  1) La Dolce Vita  2) Persona  3) 8 ½  4) 2001: A Space Odyssey  5) Eraserhead   Harry Hennessy 1) Bride Wars 2) Nymphomaniac 3) Resrvior Doges
4) BBC Wuthering Heights (The one from the 70s) 5) [Three way tie between] Frozen/ Water for Elephants/ Dear John
Shane Morgan  1) The Godfather  2) Amour  3) Heathers 4) Bande á Part 5) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  Iseult Deane 1) Before Sunrise 2) Donnie Darko 3) Girl, Interrupted 4) We Are the Best! 5) Amélie Seán Ceroni 1) La Dolce Vita 2) Lift to the Scaffold 3) In the Mood For Love 4) Shanghai Express 5) Once Upon a Time in the West Issey Goold 1) Rear Window 2) Fargo 3) Thelma and Louise 4) The Graduate  5) Manhattan Berry Murphy 1) Mysterious Skin  2) The Art of Getting By  3) The Place Beyond the Pines  4) Igby Goes Down  5) Stand By Me Daniel Hanlon 1) Akira 2) Pulp Fiction 3) Breakfast at Tiffany’s 4) Sleeping Beauty 5) The Third Man Nevan Jio 1) Manhattan 2) The Graduate 3) Mulholland Drive 4) Seventh Seal 5) 8 ½ Rowan Crerar 1) Kill Bill vol. II 2) Valentin 3) La vie en rose 4) The Grand Budapest hotel 5) Women without men Aisling Keating 1) A Clockwork Orange 2) Donnie Darko 3) Boy A 4) Requiem For A Dream 5) Citizen Kane Amy Campbell 1) Tangled  2) Les Miserables 3) Perks Of Being A Wallflower  4) Man On A Ledge  5) Cemetery Junction  Aoibhín Crowley 1) Mr. Nobody 2) The Skin I Live In 3) The Breakfast Club 4) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 5) Moonrise Kingdom
2

Junglepussy

Brooklyn-born self-styled “irreplaceable vixen” Junglepussy first came to attention last October with ultra-smooth track ‘Cream Team’. She’s part of the growing Bushwick C-Unit rave scene, which helped launch artists like Azaelia Banks and A$AP Rocky, curated by performer and designer Contessa Stuto to bring together “the queers and the ravers and the ghetto”.

Every one of her tracks is furious but never ever less than ferociously proud and sure-footed. She’s got her agenda, her “picky bitch checklist” and rolls off anthems to her own strength like it’s nothing, in videos surrounded by waist length blonde weave and nails like shards of glass, shot in a bedroom with her real life best friends.

Her album Satisfaction Guaranteed is due out next month, and having already supported Lil Kim and Dai Burger she is without question on the up. I’ve real fear for anyone who tries to stand in the way of this “genie in a bottle of Malibu”.

Iseult Deane

3

LP 1-FKA Twigs 

FKA Twigs’ debut album LP 1 is a strange, ethereal work of silvery, delicate R&B-synth-pop, driven at all times by a sense of immediacy or urgent lust. It focuses mainly on the spark contained in individual moments, but still handles them with depth and sensitivity.

            FKA Twigs started her career as Tahliah Barnett, moving to London to become a dancer. This element of physicality is never absent from her work, reflected both in the image of her face on the album artwork, exaggerated beyond fully identifiable emotion, and the accompanying videos. She’s totally in control and fully present in every aspect of her art.

            This presence is felt in her voice too, as she ranges from gaspy rushes of whispers to celestial tremblings, conveying everything from the resigned anger of ‘Video Girl’ to the frizzy crossover of upset and frustration on ‘Numbers’ to the immediate heat of ‘Two Weeks’.

            LP 1 is a menace-tinged Grimes-meets-Aaliyah-meets-the xx album, indicating an artist both appreciative of the context of her work and willing to push its boundaries. If she continues as she’s begun, she could well go on to define a genre or atmosphere entirely of her own creation.

 7/10

Iseult Deane

An anonymously submitted addition to our "Outsider" series, in celebration of our night at Cork Film Festival - if you have any interest in submitting a piece, e-mail us at shaneblogblog@gmail.com

Why do you stay

inside? While everyone else talks and plays and gossips and does whatever it is children do. Why did your dad plait your hair again?  How come your father gets you ready for school, and we never see  your parents together. Why are you so tall? You are ten years old, you should be small, thin, cute, not wearing age thirteen clothes, standing tall as your own mother. Why are you doing this? Are you trying to be different? Questions such as this have tainted my childhood, my adolescence, my past, my present. It seems as though people are quick to assume that
I have chosen to be The Outsider, even though it is them that insist I should question myself question everything I do everything I say everything I think? I did not choose to 'different'. I did not call myself an 'Outsider', at least not until you gave me reason to believe that every little thing I did was Wrong. And now here I am, sixteen years old trapped inside my own skin yet observing myself from the outside, not liking what I see but unable to do anything about it because you have  trapped me as an Outsider in my own body, condemned to obsess over everything I see and consumed by the feeling that I will never be Right. But can I blame you, can I blame your questions, your mindless words that surely had no intention at all? You just wanted to know if I was really what you suspected, The Outsider. Here is your answer: no, I was not The Outsider because I stayed inside or because my parents didn’t talk or because I was just too tall for your liking. I was The Outsider because I took your words to heart and kept them there in that one part of my brain that refuses to let any memory go even after you have long forgotten what you have done. I am The Outsider because of  how I think, how I see the world, how I know it is your world not mine and I just happen to be here. If I wasn’t The Outsider then, I know I am The Outsider now.

Amy Campbell writes on her fear of things getting better

You know what freaks me out? The idea of things getting better. It’s like, if I look back on what I remember to be the happiest times of my life and compare them to how I feel today, I realise how much happier I am now. And that scares me.

 I’ve had a lot of best friends, people I’ve been impossibly close to, people who were my whole world, who gave definition to the last f in bff. I’m still friends with most of them, on very good terms, although in some cases it’s taken us a couple of years to get there. But there’s things there that weren’t there before. Awkward silences that make you wonder how you once talked to this person all day every day and can you really have changed so much that all you can think of now to say is “I hope the sun comes back before the holidays”.

 Fourth Year in school was a great year for me. No pressure to study and do homework or even go to class, I immersed myself in extra curricular events and entered competitions and joined every club an overly enthusiastic teacher told us about. And I had this best friend. We were inseparable, arm-linking, sentence-finishing, borrowing-each-others-stuff-so-often-that-they-just-became-“ours” sort of people. Everyone used to run our names together into one, we used to start singing the same song at the same time in two part harmony. But now, not so much. The idea of having another best friend one day used to worry me; I was so completely content with her.

 Fifth Year has had a lot more lows, a lot more tears and hiding in bathroom cubicles than the year before. My best friend and I became less two-part harmony and more cancelled plans and Facebook messages “seen at 16:34”. But the good parts have been really, really good.

 It turns out I in fact am the type of girl who’s sister gets mad at her for laughing at her laptop when she’s talking to her best friend, the type of girl who breaks out in mile wide grins at work when she remembers a conversation from six months ago. It got so much better than what I thought was the best.

So then, why am I afraid? I think because I don’t want this time in my life to someday seem less important. I don’t want the things that make me happy to change, I don’t want find people who make me happier than these ones. I am so, so happy with who I am right now and I don’t want to see a day when I’m not the short girl with too much glitter eyeliner and an accent you can’t quite place who loves gay boys and glee and blue bon bons. I don’t want to lose the bffs who taught me less about “forever” and more about “friends”. And gosh, I really don’t want to forget.

These are the sort of fears that make me Facebook message “does the idea of things getting better scare you” out of the blue to a friend that I don’t usually message with meaningful questions. It lead to an amazing conversation though, but unfortunately that just added to my list of things I’m worried won’t mean as much to me when I’m 31 and married (to a secretly closeted man with possibly children and definitely a pomeranian called Kurt) as they do now.

I think I’m worried that one day I’ll look back while cooking tagliatelle and remark on how long it’s been since I’ve thought of my seventeenth year of life and I’ll struggle to remember the last name of the boy who perfectly summed up how I feel with the sentence ” I see all the people I love and I don’t want things to change, even if it makes my situation better”. I’m scared that while I’m draining the pasta into the sink and calling down my possible children for dinner, that I’ll smile fondly at the memories, but conclude that I wasn’t really happy at all.

Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell writes about the struggle and heartbreak of repeatedly falling in love with gay boys 

I spent the first fifteen years of my life not having an answer to the repititive question that seems to be an essential part of preteen and early teenage culture: “who do you like?” Living in a small town in West Cork, my reply was always “nobody”,  and it was true; no one ever seemed quite my type. I spent years turning my nose up at tracksuit wearing, red bull drinking, GAA playing “lads”. And finally, during rehearsals for a musical an hour away from my hometown, I met a dancer with blonde highlights and an actual fashion sense and declared myself in love. I ignored my friends specualtions about what his fringe and his dance abilities and his interest in msuical theatre might mean, but in the end, the sterotypes were right and I was left with an all new problem - getting over a gay guy. 

Ever since, the situation has repeated itself more times than could be a coincidence. It’s strange, there aren’t that many gay guys around, especially in West Cork, but I have a knack for tracking them down, falling in love with them, and facing inevitable heartbreak. Not even just guys I know in real life either, I have oftentimes been known to declare a celebrity to be my future husband, google him and discover that he has a long term boyfriend. My friends laugh at me regularly, and the jokes are almost as repetitive as the questions I get asked every time it happens. “How did you not know he was gay?” Naivety, dellusion, mainly just hope. I have a habbit of trying to tell myself that sterotypes are often wrong, or attempting to convince myself that the fact that he owns three pairs of runners is a sure sign of his straightness.The second question I get asked is “how can you still love him now that you’ve found out that he’s gay?” Craziness, inability to control my emotions. I was never able to simply switch my feeligs off or move them onto someone who could possibly return my feelings one day. I had to complete the slow, torturous proccess of slowly letting my feelings fade while they go on, blissfully unaware. I also get “how do you cope?” a lot. The answer for that is somewhere between “it doesn’t really bother me, it’s kinda funny” and “it’s slowly tearing me apart from within until even breathing is painful”. 

The hardest question to answer has always been “why is it always gays?” I’ve been trying unsuccesfully to answer that since my first, dancer-with-highlights-and-an-actual-fashion-sense heartbreak. I’ve heard several theories from friends: it’s self sabotage - some inner part of my mind is punishing me by repeatedly choosing guys I know will never love me back. It’s self protection - deep down I don’t really want love, I’m scared of the idea of a relationship so I convince myself that the only boys I’m interested in are those who are impossible to pursue a relationship with. I’m afraid of boys, and choose nicer, more feminine ones because I feel safer around them. Unfortunately, these nicer, more feminine boys rarely play for my team. I’m rebelling against the social norm as much as possible by falling for guys who are as different as possible to the guys from my West Cork farming town. Realistically though, I think it’s a lot less deep rooted. I like boys who take care of their appearance, who dress well and have some kind of fashionable hairstyle. I like it when I share interests with guys, and unfortunately my interests are Disney movies and pop queens and musicals and glitter and Glee. I also am sort of unwilling to settle for anything less than a boyfriend who will sing romantic, funny or flirty duets with me complete with cute choreographed dance routines and possibly matching outfits (this one may be a little unrealistic, I blame Glee). I have yet to find a straight guy who is willing to take part in any of these activities, or even a straight guy who is aware that you can’t just wear a navy football jersey with black tracksuit pants and grey runners, you shouldn’t even be wearing any of those on their own not to mind together because they are not nice and they certainly do not match. 

I’ve been through it all, guys who had me at “hello” and lost me at “I’m gay”. I’ve listened intently, unsure if I was laughing or crying as a gay friend who has no idea I want to marry him tells me in pretty graphic details of the boy he was with at a party last weekend. I’ve written cliché teenage heartbreak poetry about a guy, only to have it published in a book which he so happened to buy. I’ve had multiple breakdowns about how all my loves are going to marry each other and I’ll be alone and I can’t even get cats because I’m allergic to cats. But the truth is, I’m getting by. I know what I like, it just doesn’t like me back, but I’m working on that. I’m pretty certain I’ve heard “he’s gay” in response to my “he’s hot” so many times that it can’t possibly hurt anymore, and that the pain that seems to be more part of my bloodstream that than actual blood will dull eventually. I try to convince myself that I believe in true love and destiny and “there’s a guy out there who’s looking for a girl just like you”. I’m still listening to classic love ballads and reading romance novels and watching Glee. I’m learning that sometimes having lots in common with a guy isn’t that great, because while liking the same kind of music and movies is fun, having the same taste in guys is not. I’m still optimistic. But gosh, it’s getting pretty difficult.

Amy Campbell

This Is All Yours-alt J

On their second album This Is All Yours, alt-J have managed to not only maintain, but hone and perfect their signature fragile warmth.

On this album we travel with these timid, highly skilled men through Nara, the strange world in which the album appears to be set. Right from the opening tracks, they manage to convey a sort of mechanical distance, which in fact only serves to highlight the sheer level of human warmth they display. It’s in their stifled or awkward emotional expression (such as the strangely domestic lyrics to ‘Every Other Freckle’ or their habit of drawing out, or even spelling out, words until they’re virtually unrecognisable) that we can see true longing, true frustration, true feeling on show. It’s this thoroughness of expression that makes their music so totally enthralling.

Their development from their Mercury prize-winning debut, An Awesome Wave, is perhaps best traced through ‘Bloodflood’, to ‘Bloodflood Part II’ here. There’s more of a sense of scope in ‘Part II’; less of the palpable excitement of forging new ground and more of the development of an individual voice. They clearly haven’t become wildly different people, but they have learned to appreciate their new position.

They range from track to track from exquisite beauty to atonal rhythmic thrumming and strange contrasts, including a bizzarely placed Miley Cyrus ‘I’m a female rebel’ sample (which whether intentionally or not serves to prove how totally outside any kind of political or social arena their music lies; a reference to the outside world as a reminder of how isolated the whole thing actually feels, how insular Nara is). By the time ‘Leaving Nara’ closes, you are left to smile, in the few moments before the bonus track, at the sheer cumulative effect of the album’s beauty, and for one of the few truly distinctive groups currently working in music exclusively for the purpose of forging of new sounds and expression of individual emotions; this is music for music’s sake.

8/10

Iseult Deane

3

Amy Campbell On Growing Up And Bouncing On Beds

Spending a long time on buses always has a somewhat profound impact on my mentality. A three-day school trip to the North has provided me with over 20 hours on a coach, trying to make out something other than my reflection in the window and simultaneously making some reflections on humanity. Watching the third years on the trip with us kind of shocked me a little, and I’m starting to understand a lot about growing up.

If, three years ago, you’d given me the opportunity to ask a sixth year some questions about growing up, I probably would have asked if grown up things actually literally do taste nice to them and if so, how. Other than that, I would have been fairly confident that I understood it all. Firstly, for anyone younger than me, it literally just happens. I woke up one morning and my favourite tastes were no longer red lollipops and blue bon bons but white wine and black coffee. Secondly, tastes are the only things that become more black and white with age.

I’ve come to realise that there isn’t really such thing as good people and bad people, or even good deeds and bad deeds. There are just people, and things they do, and other people that they do them to. The thing that counts is how we react to them, and if I could give the rowdy third years one piece of advice other than not to scream so much, it would be that you can’t have control over what people do to you or say about you, but you can have complete control over how it affects you and that once you master that, nothing has to hurt you again. So yeah, late teens and early adulthood are a lot of grey, but while gazing out bus windows, I’ve found beauty in cloudy skies and faded tarmac, and grey teenage years can be just as gorgeous.

I romanticise a lot, not just clouds and roads but people, and it has messed things up a bit because I either paint people as white or black and both are equally dangerous. I think a part of growing up is how aware of this I’ve become, and hopefully soon I’m going to get better at not doing it. Similarly, I noticed while lying on the floor of a hotel glass elevator that the sky is more navy than black and the stars are some kind of silver and that basically, even the first things we learn to identify as black and white aren’t quite what they seem.

With acceptance of things not being black and white comes the power to forgive, and to drop grudges. I’ve gotten kind of better at that, putting a six-year feud behind me. The fact that I’m fairly certain neither of us can remember the cause of it contributed to a sudden friendship that has shocked our mutual friends and made for an exceptionally good school trip. I’ve also been forgiven by someone I never thought I’d be laughing with for something I really never thought I’d be laughing about. This trip has been defined by sudden friendships, including the aforementioned two, bonding with estranged ex best friends over card games and hilarious misunderstandings at the dinner table, discovering that I actually have a lot in common with people I’ve been passing in the corridor since first year. I even apologised to the girl who used to throw footballs at me in primary school for not getting her sport stuff, and for the first time I felt like we understood each other.

I’ve always been irritated by tumblr posts that say stuff like “kids - don’t grow up, it’s a trap”. If there are any kids reading this, do grow up. Not just because of how irritating the third years on the field trip were, or because wine and coffee are too good to miss out on, but because literally, you are going to love the grown up version of yourself and revel in most of your new knowledge. There will always be one or two kisses that you’ll wish you hadn’t heard about or things you’ll wish you hadn’t said, but another piece of advice I’d give a third year is never to wish anything hadn’t happened because everything that has an effect on you, positive or negative, contributes to making you who you are and you can’t regret who you are.

Realistically, I’m probably not much wiser than I was three days ago, or even three years ago, but I feel like I’ve gained the three months that I need to become an adult. By the time May does come around and I’m blowing out eighteen candles, which knows what sort of shit I’ll be spouting. For now, growing up is dropping grudges and being affected by murals depicting the troubles and admitting I was wrong about people and giving up stuff that’s bad for you and finding beauty in the colour grey. Growing up is new experiences and new tastes and new friends. And this trip, regardless of the bouncing on hotel room beds I did, has taught me a lot about growing up.