lapsley

Låpsley – The Perfect Comedown

14.01.2016 | Music | BY:

After sweeping the net with her ethereal lo-fi offering ‘Station’ (which had Annie Mac gushing), Liverpool’s soulful stirring vocalist Holly Fletcher, aka Låpsley (it’s her middle name), is the 19-year-old still on everyone’s minds, radiating an inner warmth with her teary and introspective lyrics, achingly beautiful harmonies and haunting minimalism.

A multi-instrumentalist with a classical background, her non-traditional route into the industry as a bedroom producer (via Soundcloud), saw her tipped for big things, and later as a studio producer, her debut EP followed as XL’s latest signing, the label that brought us ground-breaking and innovative records from the likes of FKA Twigs and M.I.A.

Låpsley’s self-motivated vision and creative control continues the uprising of women in electronic music – a traditionally male-dominated genre – with the internet providing a platform and voice to be heard.

We caught up with the singer / songwriter to talk musical heroes, owning a loch one day, and why she’s already broken one of her new years resolutions.

Hello, so how are the New Years resolutions going – did you make any?
I am trying to be vegan for January. It was going well until I went to Italy and they force fed me Parmesan!

And what about NYE, do you remember anything past midnight?
I stopped drinking at midnight but somehow can’t remember anything between then and 8 in the morning so must have drunk my bodyweight in Prosecco.

Haha! So you probably missed London’s NYE music-a-thon fireworks on the TV then, I reckon David Bowie’s going to feature on that playlist quite heavily this year – who are your musical heroes?
Arthur Russell is a genius, his work is so honest. Joni Mitchell as a songwriter and of course Bowie as someone who was such a creative innovator and set an example for generations to come to not be afraid to go against the perceived norm.

What about the first record you bought, embarrassing or a good’un?
I think it was Kings Of Leon ‘Only By The Night’ – that’s a good’un to me, wouldn’t really listen to them now however as a 12 year old emotional wreck I clung onto the words.

I bet you made emotional mix tapes for yourself and your loves right?
Yes. I made loads. For boys that I fancied, for best friends, for parties, for promiscuous year 11 times, for everything really.

And what else did you listen to growing up?
My parents music. From my Dad it was Joy Division, The Smiths and Depeche Mode. From my Mum it was Fleetwood Mac, Bjork and Kate Bush.

Did you have pop poster crushes on your walls?
Mum wouldn’t let me put blu tac on the wall so I had lots of framed art of things like squirrels and other wildlife (British wildlife) ha!

And if you could choose a song that completely sums you up now, what would it be?
For January it’s that Internet sensation ‘Peel the Avocado (guacamole)’.

Oh that song! Dr. Jean should officially be on the NHS as an anti-depressant. So tell me more about Låpsley – what’s the story behind that name?
It’s my middle name so no exciting story there. It’s Scottish, it actually means keeper of the loch, hopefully one day I’ll own a loch #buymyalbumpayformyloch (#bmapfml)

Nice hashtag! And you went from bedroom producer, gaining fans like DJ Annie Mac, to being signed to a label really quickly – are you still in control of your overall soundscape, so it’s still a personal and natural growth?
Yes I’m totally in control of my own sound but also take advice and am open to help developing my sound.

You’re experimenting more with new genres too, how would you describe your sound?
Experimental [laughs]

Ha! And how are you evolving, do you know where you’re going to, as Diana Ross once sang?
I think with every new song I finish I learn something new. Fuck knows where I’m going though.

And what about your impact on the electro music genre, it’s still very much a male dominated scene – how do you bring a female perspective to it?
Hopefully lyrically women will be able to relate to my lyrics because men are heartless bastards (fuck my ex, #fme)

Well that told him. So from where you’re sitting, apart from the heartless ex, what does it mean to be a woman in 2016?
It’s sick, Tom Ford has a new make up range that just came out, what could be better? Still pissed that tampons are classed as a luxury item by the government though.

The ‘Understudy’ EP is out now. Låpsley’s debut album will follow later this year.

musiclapsley.com

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Frances | Jenna Foxton | Communion

Meet Frances: heiress to the vocal powerhouse throne

12.11.2015 | Blog , Music | BY:

She’s got a voice and she knows how to use it.

That’s 21-year-old newcomer Frances, the British vocal-powerhouse who could sing you out of the room in karaoke (watch out Adele), and who could also give Florence Welch a run for her money in the wonderfully wild red mane stakes.

Hailing from Newbury, she’s got a set of lungs that sound like they’ve been soaked in 90% proof emotion, serving up a high intensity of feelings to comfort you, before hitting you round the head with a massive chorus that stirs you. She’s already supported Sam Smith live, performed for Radio 1’s Live Lounge and sold out her first three UK London tour dates.

The new soulstress on the block you should know about, we caught up with Frances to talk love and fears, nostalgic moments and the best woah-oh-oh ever.

What’s your earliest memory of music?
Dancing around the house with my mum to ‘Poetry In Motion’ by Jonny Tillotson.

And when did you start performing?
I had my first performance when I was three, but I’m not sure if that counts. I’ve always performed in some way since I was a toddler – it just felt so natural.

I first heard of you when I came across the track ‘Fire May Save You’ (the Cesare Remix), and I remember sharing it on my Twitter account as I loved it, and you messaged me back to thank me. Are you officially the nicest person in pop?
Haha! I appreciate so much any support for my music, so I think it’s so important and only polite to say thank you!

But what about when you become too famous to even peel your own banana, what will your tour rider consist of?
Haha! Everyone should peel their own bananas, its part of the experience! Hmmm. Sparkling water, cereal bars for a quick energy boost in case I’m lagging, and some speakers for the tour tunes. That would do me fine.

Well as you’re so nice, I really want you to record a mellow stripped back piano version of Whitney’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and totally belt it out – can you do that especially for me on the next EP please?
That’s an amazing idea… I’m going to say YES!

Awesome, I’ll wait for it! And talking of vocal belters, you supported Sam Smith this past Summer for a live show – that must have been a pretty intense experience?
It was an amazing experience – he’s such a star and the nicest guy on the planet. I loved every minute.

Were you and Sam trying to outdo each other back stage with who could sing the highest note?
I’m pretty sure he’d win if we did!

What about other performers you admire…you might spontaneously combust if you found out you were sharing a stage with who?
Carole King. That would just be insane.

Wow, what a duo, you two would be musical ear porn! How would you describe your own sound?
Well it’s all about the song for me. So I want to sing songs that people can relate to and share with their loved ones. And in doing that I hope that my voice sings those songs in a way that people endear to, and feel they want to carry on listening.

And how have you evolved and grown with each release?
I think I’ve grown as a producer. So I’m finding new ways of delivering my songs and how I can use some different sounds on top of the piano and my voice to enforce meaning in the songs, lyrically and musically. But I’m also maintaining that actually keeping things simple is still a great approach for me for some songs, as nothing gets in the way then.

What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learnt so far on your musical journey?
I’ve had to learn that other people do really care about my music and career. It can be hard to believe at first but once you work with the right people you learn that people have got your back!

You’re among the Next Gen of female singer / songwriters to make their mark on the industry – what other female performers keep you on your toes, for a bit of healthy competition and sisterly respect?
I’ve got so much respect for so many female performers. A few that stand out though are Aurora, I think she’s incredible, so haunting and beautiful. Rukhsana Merrise is amazing too, I love her song ‘So They Say’. And then there’s of course Alessia Cara, Adele, Florence, Maria Mena and more.. I could go on forever!

What about if we looked through your record collection, would we find any embarrassing moments?
I still have my Vengaboys CDs.. loved them. And I’ve probably still got my Aqua – Barbie Girl CD too, haha!

Ha! Well my Bucks Fizz Greatest Hits beats your Barbie Girl. What else makes you nostalgic?
My childhood. It was so fun, I had (and still have) a wild imagination and just lived in a world of my own most of the time.

Is that why you’re quite emotively explorative in your lyrics, you’re very deep and reflective for someone so young?
I’m very sensitive to emotion, both my own and others. I tend to over-think and analyse everything so that means I think about things at quite a deep level.. which can be good and bad I think!

Do you think it’s easier to love or be loved?
I always say you have to love yourself before you can love another.. but I also think you need to know that you’re loveable.. so that’s a tricky one! I guess they both become easier  if you have value for and love yourself.

Good answer. And are you fatalistic?
In some ways I am.. but then I also believe you can create your own luck and opportunities. But ultimately we’re all destined to do something, whatever that may be. We all have our own piece of the puzzle.

What’s your greatest fear?
Disappointing someone I love.

But you’re not ashamed to admit that you love…?
I don’t think we should be ashamed to love anything, but I guess my love for Christmas films is quite intense.

And where is your happy place?
Snuggled up with my dogs watching a great film. That’s just the best!

And when not snuggled up indoors, what’s your go-to feel good song before a night out?
‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire.

What about the best woah-oh-oh you’ve ever heard in a song?
It’s got to be ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyonce! Or for a more emotional ballad-y one, it would have to be the ‘Oh’ section in ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay.

Ok, so you’re off to karaoke – which three singers would you take with you and what’s the song you’re going to sing?
I’d bring Sam Smith, George Ezra and JoJo and we’d sing ‘Lose My Breath’ by Destiny’s Child.

Ooh nice! So what’s coming next for you and what can we expect from your debut album?
I can’t wait to do my album. It’ll be here next year sometime. It will be in a similar vein to my EPs, but a bit more accomplished I hope, I want to show I’ve grown and developed as a songwriter and for people to really connect and relate to the music.

So taking inspiration from the title of your latest release ‘Let It Out’ – how can we all really let it out today Frances?
Dance in a shop. If a great song comes on it deserves to be danced to. You’ll brighten up your own day and someone else’s!

The ‘Let It Out’ EP is out now and you can see Frances live on her UK tour which kicks off in 2016. For more information head to francesmusic.com

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The Female Frontier: Hats On with Tasya van Ree and Stetson

09.09.2015 | Fashion | BY:

The late Louise Wilson (course director of Central Saint Martin’s Fashion MA) once said in relation to her students, “They should be bringing me a book or something that I haven’t seen, not like some obscure chant book by Dominican monks, but an image of the way they see the world.”

For LA based artist and photographer Tasya van Ree, the way in which she sees the world is something every young dreamer could draw inspiration from – with a vision which explores the inner workings of the human spirit, the human form, landscapes, nature and animals – her work is a visual and emotional journey translating deeper connections with the intelligence and beauty that exists all around us.

With such an engaging creative sensibility, it’s no surprise she’s been propelled into the public eye as everyone’s latest art crush, resulting in solo exhibitions in LA, New York, and Paris – Girl power yet again challenging the exclusionary structures which frame the industry for female artists.

With her unique and often sartorial style, her affinity for hats has also not gone unnoticed, which is why iconic US brand Stetson invited her to collaborate with them for their 150th-anniversary.

“Tasya van Ree is an ideal collaborator for Stetson”, says Izumi Kajimoto, the brand’s Chief Executive Officer. “She looks strong, empowered, and captivating in her hats, which is something that also comes across in her extensive body of work. Stetson has always been a part of contemporary culture and we’re excited to continue to work with artists whose visions relate to our brand.”

Taking one of Stetson’s vintage felted styles as a blank canvas, van Ree called upon her artistic flair to create a unique design for the brand – dubbed “The Signature”, the hat is an effortlessly stylish and structured piece of modern minimalism – in itself, a work of art.

We caught up with van Ree to find out more about the collaboration with one of fashion’s most enduring brands, and her plans for the future.

So tell me how you got involved with Stetson for this project?

I’ve worn a vintage Stetson for years and have been photographed in it quite a few times in the social media realm. Through that exposure we began a dialogue and soon after, the collaboration was born.

And what was the inspiration behind your hat design?

Horses. I wanted to design a piece of art that reflected their intelligence and also that captured the beauty of their philosophical language of power, their sensuous lines and their majestic sense of spirituality and danger.

What was the creative process like for you?

Combining the world of fashion and the natural world was quite seamless. They both operate on the same level. It was just a matter of finding the moment through sketches where the influence of an emotional state of mind connected to an image of artistic appeal. It was a process, and after a good amount of time “The Signature” hat was drawn out and created.

So does it feel like youre officially an ambassador for hats now?

“Ambassador” sounds really formal, I just really like wearing hats!

Hats are an extension of ones self, the minute you put one on, it becomes a living part of you – what is the quality that makes the hat come to life for you?

There is a harmony between my physical appearance and my internal existence. My hat is the conductor that creates this relationship.

So would you ever go all out and do an Isabella Blowthen, and wear something outlandish, just to move away from your signature comfort zone?

I’ll do anything once!

The English have an inbuilt understanding of the peculiarities of life and thats often expressed through fashion – living in LA, how would you describe the dress codes there?

Objective.

What about defining your own style?

Half Japanese / half Dutch.

Yes, I can see how youve shifted towards a more conceptual approach in your style vocabulary. So do you think youll move on to other fashion collaborations in the future? Absolutely. I’ve fallen in love with the collaboration process. I’m open and would love to join forces with other creative minds in all forms, whether it’s in fashion, art, music, etc. 

Lets talk more about art and photography – I read recently that over 50 new galleries have opened in the last two years in LA. Its always been a cultural mecca for creativity, but it must be cool to see the city now really embracing and shaping art?

Art is elemental in the progression of a culture’s evolution. I’m really interested to see what profound changes LA will make as the art world becomes more and more pronounced here.

And has there also been a shift towards those galleries supporting and exhibiting work by more female artists?

I feel as if they have. I’ve been going to more openings and shows that are exhibiting female artists. Much more than in the past.

Are you planning any new exhibitions of your own work?

Yes, I have a photo exhibition with The Curator LA next month and also in Paris at the beginning of November. And later in the year / early next year, an artist residency show in Mexico.

So talking of exhibitions, Annie Leibovitz is returning to her project Womenand is now going to tour a show documenting portraits of 21st century females, to present how womens roles are changing in a new feminist society.

Who would you personally like to see in that roll call?

Every woman in the world should be photographed for this project. Every one of them has a voice that is changing the world in which we live in on a daily basis.

The Signatureby Tasya van Ree for Stetson style will be available from October 2015 at stetson.com. Photo credit: Anais & Dax anaisdax.com

 

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A NEW KIND OF BEAU

04.06.2015 | Music | BY:

Native New Yorkers Heather Boo and Emma Rose, otherwise known as BEAU, make the kind of harmonised blissfully soaked folk-pop with a modern new wave vibe, that sends you into a state of mellow melancholy, rooted in a fragile musical journey that wallows through their mindset and experiences – at times it’s a bumpy ride, with emotionally charged lyrics that underscore all those tear-inducing woes – “Is there such a thing as Karma? Falling in your life at the wrong time, when you’re sitting alone, an empty pistol with a glass of the wrong wine.”

Who knows what kind of wine is in their glass, but it suits BEAU to let loose. A little drama never hurt anyone did it?

Having worked with photographer Ryan McGinley, French cult magazine Purple and Gia Coppola for an Opening Ceremony campaign, BEAU have now released their self-titled debut EP via tastemaker Parisian label Kitsuné.

Ahead of their upcoming headline London show, we spoke to the multifaceted duo about their New York state of mind, personal heroes and good karma.

How did you both come together to form BEAU?
We started making music when we were 13 years old. From the moment we learned to play guitar, songwriting then followed. By 18 we had written so many songs that we didn’t know what to do with them. Beau was the answer.

What were each of you doing before that?
Emma: I was studying in school to become an ecologist. I’m very passionate about sustainability.

Heather: I was trying to get through High school and all of the drama that came with it. I was always affected by little things.

Your soundscape has been described as 70s folk Americana meets the West Coast– how would you define it?
Children of New York.

And your musical break came through cult Paris-based label Kitsuné – how did they discover you?
We met the co-founder Gildas Loaëc in Paris through our mutual friend André Saraiva. André told Gildas about our iPhone recordings of our songs and Gildas was all ears. The next thing we knew our relationship became deeply involved with Kitsunè. They are like family now.

So you hail from NYC and ‘New Wave New Yorkis a hot topic right now – how do you think the mindset of young creatives there like yourselves, is adapting to the citys changing cultural identity?
The mindset for us at least is that the city’s cultural identity changed a long time ago so all we can do to preserve whatever is left is to continue to be ourselves.

The city obviously influences your vision – what else motivates you to write?
Anything from an empty room to the most beautiful view can inspire us to write. It really only takes our imagination. You can write about anything and nothing at the same time, and then of course there’s the whole wide world at our creative disposal… it goes on and on.

And lyrically, where do you draw your inspiration from?
We are really inspired by Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen for their impeccable writing skills. They always manage to penetrate the psyche with the least amount and most simple of words. It’s about getting a feeling on paper and making sure that whatever you are trying to say is clear. When an emotion enters our minds we use lyrics as a release, it helps express and relieve.

Music is a universal language – do you think a lot about the way other cultures are working when writing songs?
We try to make sure that our lyrics aren’t rude or offensive in any way, but also make a statement and touch people. If we don’t speak about things that matter and affect the people of this earth nobody is going to vibe with the music.

Talking of vibes – one of the tracks on your debut EP is called ‘Karma– do you believe in it?
It’s funny you ask because both our Mother’s study Buddhism and believe in its power, but as for us.. we kind of just think of it in a simplified way. Bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people.

But you’re obviously both quite spiritually minded?
Yes we are very spiritual. It’s all about energy.

And with the energy your music gives off, how would you like people to connect with it – what do you want them to take away?
A feeling, any feeling, at the least.

You describe your EP as a mix of songs about love, friendship and never giving up–  whats your life motto?
Be true and you will live a true life.

And do you have personal heroes?
Our Mum, Dad, Einstein, and all the doctors and nurses out there volunteering and saving lives.

So let’s talk about women in music and the latest conversation surrounding the lack of female performers at festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury, in comparison to the guys – whats your take on it?
We think it should be changed and that there should be just as many women performing as men. It should be that way for everything.

And what can female artists like yourselves continue to do to ensure a balanced and positive representation of women in music, so future generations have inspirational role models like we’ve grown up with?
Stand up for our natural born rights, for freedom, for equality and live by these words: LOVE, SUPPORT, GIVE, BE THANKFUL, CARE, BE STRONG.

Now your own profile and fanbase is growing, what about the recognition side – are you ready to be stared at in the street?
It already happens because we’re such weirdos so hey, yeah, why not!

What about social media – you seem to have embraced it and enjoy a good selfie?
An occasional selfie never does any harm. Neither does the occasional post. We probably will never be fully enwrapped in the cyber world but we welcome it.

And your look is a real mix of girlie vintage meets street casual tomboy – tell us about the BEAU wardrobe?
501 Jeans and a faded T-shirt with some suede shoes. Perhaps a leather jacket or a jean jacket and the occasional terracotta silk dress. Trench coats are good too. If we feel eccentric we go super vintage. But it’s all hand-me downs. When a designer gives us a piece we really cherish it and only wear it on special occasions.

So you’re about to play a showcase in London – on a scale of excited to very excited, how excited are you?
We are falling off our chairs, that’s how excited we are!

BEAU the EP is out now via Kitsuné and to win one of 5 pairs of tickets to see the duo play in London on June 8th at The Social, just send your name and email address to adam.guest@purplepr.com. The 5 winners will be selected at random and notified.

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DEVAN DU BOIS’ SOUTHERN NOIR

24.04.2015 | Music | BY:

He may appear to have all the Yeehaw sensibilities you would associate with someone hailing from Louisiana’s deep south (he’s not preachy but he’s definitely fond of a cowboy hat or two), yet Devan Dubois’ Southern cool reveals a shadowy dark decadence and cultish aesthetic, seductively drawing you into his world.

His soundscape explores influences of country and western music through a modern lens, seamlessly blending stomping rock elements with evocative lyrics and swirling moody instrumental beats. It’s a sound which defies genre and is constantly evolving, as can be heard in the track People Are People – premiered here exclusively for yall on Twin – a new teaser for what’s musically to come from DuBois, his first release since the 2014 debut album Le Fou.

We caught up with the singer to talk hats, love and riding mechanical bulls.

Describe your Instagram #currentmood?
Pineapples, street crawling, and lighting bolts.

Interesting mix! So talking of moods, youre part Philipino and part Indian which are vibrantly colourful cultures – so with that dual heritage, why is your signature aesthetic so dark?
Hmm. It is all seasonal I think. Some variety in colour and mood is coming with my new music and art. We shall see.

And obviously we have to talk about your hats. Youre quite the connoisseur – do you have them all bespoke made and how many do you own?
I have approximately 20 hats and most are custom made yes. Some people like nice watches – I like nice hats! Lately bracelets and head-wraps have also been a hobby.

I interviewed another singer who told me his hats were not about self-expression or identity, but because he had too many bad hair days! What do yours say about you?
I went about 2 years where I wore a hat almost every day. But in the last 4 months I wear a hat just 2 or 3 times per week. Not sure why. It’s just that time I guess. I have good hair I’ve been told so it’s not that – although a hat can give you some extra days to not wash your hair when you are busy, haha!

And hats are very common place in your native Louisiana – there is definitely a Southern gothic spirit about you, do you think theres something brooding in the atmosphere down in the deep South?
Oh yes it is there. Louisiana is a world of its own. So much history has happened there.

Former major trade port city, slavery, birth place of blues and jazz, natural disasters, oh and the food is unparalleled.

But youre now based in LA – was it quite a culture shock moving to the anything-goes culture and open attitudes of California, from growing up somewhere not quite so forward-thinking and traditionally associated with the bible-belt?
No not really. I had the internet and other media growing up and I really utilised that. As a teenager I was really fascinated by various cultures and time periods. I had a real hunger for it.

And talking of everything associated with Southern Americana – obviously Im going to ask if youve ever ridden a mechanical bull or gone to a rodeo?
Haha! Yes to both. The mechanical bull experience is really dependant upon the operator – I got banged up real nice by a mechanical bull down in New Orleans one Mardi Gras years ago. And I’ve been to plenty of rodeos, race tracks and circuses – they all feel similar to me.

So lets talk about the music – when did you start writing / recording and can you define your sound?
Playing guitar at 15. Started recording for fun around 16. And my soundscape is all about function, perspective, and the use of juxtaposition.

When I listen to your last album I hear elements of Lou Reed, Beck and Jack White – who are the artists or creative visionaries who have inspired you personally?
Yeah they are great. A few other artists include – Dylan, Petty, the Stones, Picasso, Beatles, Warhol, Kanye, Brando, Joni, MJ, KOL, the list goes on…

Romance and heartbreak seem to be running themes in your music, is everyone just crying over their achey breaky hearts (and Bourbons) in the Deep South?
Haha! I’m not sure. At first glance it is heartbreak but there is more there. I’m sure of that. But even romance in general is a multi-layered thing.

So whats the most romantic thing youve ever done for someone?
Hmm I would say.. last year I brought my ex-girlfriend to London, Paris, and Nice. It was a pretty romantic trip. Plus those cities lend themselves to that.

And all three cities are also associated with iconic literary luminaries (Virginia Woolf, Voltaire, Jean Cocteau). Youre very lyrically poetic – who are your favourite poets and authors?

TS Eliot, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac. I also really enjoy autobiographies. I just re-read Keith Richards ‘Life’ – so good!

And in your life, is there an inspirational quote or motto you live by?
Lately it has been ‘Keep afloat, keep moving, focus on the next 2-3 steps’.

So whats coming up next for you project-wise?
I am working on a new set of songs. I have created a new sound with my current producer and collaborator Kennedy (Jack Kennedy).

I am also incorporating many forms of art into my music, because for me it is more than just the music. It is experiential, experimental, graphic, subtle, motivational, frustrated, architectural, visual and about commentary, questions, and proclamations – it is me becoming one with my breath, with my art. My life and those around me.

Were premiering an unreleased new teaser track from you, People Are People – it sounds very different to your previous stuff, tell us more?
This song is about you and this song is about me. ‘People Are People’ is a clue to the new music that I have been creating. It is reflective duration feel good subliminal protest.

My producer Kennedy and I have created a really special body of songs and I can’t wait to share them all in due time. Get ready for the great pineapple!

devandubois.com

All Images © Sequoia Ziff
Stylist/Creative Director: Georgia Mitropoulos
‘People Are People’ cover artwork by Blanda

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Fashion without Definition: Veer NYC

30.03.2015 | Fashion | BY:

Blending experimental identity with the viral energy of streetwear, VEER NYC’s design philosophy encourages the wearer to blur the lines of masculine vs feminine style, transcending traditional dress codes and encouraging expression through individuality.

As the concept of a ‘third gender’ in fashion marks a significant turning point in the way we think – VEER NYC are exploring the notion of ‘his’ and ‘hers’ by moving between a genderless aesthetic, a neutrality only determined by fit and sizing.

Founded in 2013 by Jenny McClary and Allie Leepson, we caught up with the design duo to discuss the redefinition of popular dress, and how fashion is moving forward to reflect the realities of the way we live now.

What were you both doing before launching Veer NYC?
Allie – I was (and am) a fashion photographer for multiple brands.

Jenny – I was doing creative strategy and marketing for creative production companies serving the fashion and advertising industries.

Describe your core aesthetic – how does it differ in comparison to other womenswear labels – what are you trying to inform the wearer about?
J – Our core aesthetic is minimalist with complexities in detail, modern and functional. VEER [almost always] exists around the absence of colour and also the transformability of pieces that hold their strength in the details (fabric, hardware and construction). We’ve also truly rejected feminine silhouettes in favour of a fit that ends up looking very androgynous.

A – A lot of other brands that claim to exist in the same sector end up being more masculine of centre and not quite as clean and minimal as what our goal is to be.

So how did the decision to start the label come about – in particular, focusing on an androgynous silhouette?
J – Both Allie and I had a sense of style that was hard to satisfy. We were seeking fashion that was truly genderless in design and aesthetic – but would also actually fit. We weren’t looking for the tomboy trend, nor were we looking for womenswear that was “menswear-inspired”.

A – Those trends we were seeing all still maintained pretty traditionally feminine details and shape so it wasn’t cutting it.

There is growing experimentation to find a neutral space between male and female fashion, making the line between genders more ambiguous – why do you think this is?
J – I think the definition of beauty is growing as a culture as a result of people experimenting in this space. Just as we saw the blending of gendered roles, we are going to see that in aesthetics as well. Each traditional “model” has its strengths and a lot of people right now are feeling free and confident enough to pull from both ends of the spectrum to create what’s right for them.

A – Women and men are constantly going to move towards better and more open ways of self-expression. As we learn more about what feels “right” it’s only natural that we find that within aspects of both womenswear and menswear. We’ll each find our own sweet spot!

Do you think the fashion industry could be doing more to promote the concept of a third sex – could the future be genderless shopping?
J – That would be amazing if unisex fashion became more solidified! I think the difficult part of unisex clothing is that the buyer has to be willing to play around with sizes to achieve the fit he/she wants. Male and female bodies are different so it’s not such a transferrable “look” when buying. I think we’d first have to tackle the way we approach size.

So is the non-gendered route a progressive factor in your creative vision for the label?
A – We will continue to push the boundaries with our line and we’d love to design what we are comfortable calling unisex.

You dont design by season, so how does your process evolve creatively and where do you draw influences from?
J – We are constantly creating! I think a lot of our process has to deal with how we piece together a lot of clothing that could fall in multiple seasons anyway. Layering is key for us.

A – And I suppose “de-layering” as well haha. We also take a lot of influence from Japanese and Korean menswear.

Youre only available online at the moment – how do you envision the label growing in the future?
As VEER, we exist on veernyc.com, but we do have a couple of brick and mortar shops that are selling our pieces now. In NYC we have American Two Shot, upcoming in Canada is Frances Grey, and online we are with Not Just Another Label. We’ll be expanding that so we can have a presence in so many more cities and states.

So lets think for a moment about the VEER NYC muse – if you could choose one person who completely embodies your design ethos and attitude, who would it be?
J & A – Patti Smith.

And Patti was all about freedom of expression as we know. So in terms of tapping into your own creative freedom to build the label, what has been the most rewarding part of the journey so far?
J – We love seeing how different people with different styles transform our pieces.

A – We never really had one specific type of person in mind when we started the company. We wanted to build a brand that, at a glance, looked one way, but could easily be re-shaped to fit another. When we see that happen it’s incredible!

VEER NYCs latest collection DRIFT [01] is now available online.

 veernyc.com

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London Fashion Week AW15 Highlights

02.03.2015 | Fashion | BY:

As the fashion pack decamps to Paris for the next round of Autumn / Winter 15 womenswear shows, Twin revisits London Fashion Week – the off-guard moments, the new stars of design and the risk-takers who made us sit up and take notice.

1205

Back to Winter basics was the theme for designer and NewGen recipient Paula Gerbase this season, as her signature androgynous vision continued with structured tailoring, loose fit trousers and knitwear taking the form of longer-length dresses, high polo necks and a sleeveless knit tunic. Utility detailing worked against the neutral colour palette of chalky whites, navy and grey, as the Barbican’s glass roofed conservatory provided a leafy sanctuary and tropical oasis of calm during a hectic fashion week – a setting which blended perfectly with this effortlessly understated collection.

1205.eu

Charlie May

Turning her presentation into a live lookbook shoot – complete with photographer Yuvali Thesis and illustrator Clym Evernden capturing the moment – Charlie May invited the audience behind the scenes into her world of clean-cut modernism. Set in Mayfair’s art-deco inspired Beaumont Hotel, the collection presented an oversize silhouette as generous shapes framed the body in a mix of shearling, leather and rich wools – the emphasis was on tactile textures, quality cuts and winter seen through a fresh minimalist focus.

charlie-may.co.uk

Helen Lawrence

Experimenting with the concept of deconstruction of textural fabrics, the designer drew inspiration from the tape-wrapped sculptures of British artist Phyllida Barlow.

Creating a collection which included oversize silhouettes in lambswool and elastomeric yarn, raw unfinished holes were left in the garments, paired with heavy leather boots by Kult Domini, evoking a woolly 90s grunge aesthetic.

Set against a landscape of meteor-like rocks, her vision transformed Chelsea College of Arts into a post-apocalyptic playground, with the odd pop of gold bleeding through the romantic darkness.

helen-lawrence.co.uk

Christopher Raeburn 

We are sailing was a key reference for Raeburn’s nautical-inspired collection, Immerse, which continued the theme from his AW15 Menswear show, offering a bold exploration of the textures, shapes and colours associated with a life on the seas. A merino wool cape, puffer jacket, pea coat and duffel coat all reinvented the sailor aesthetic, in muted blues and life-jacket orange.

His shark print motif was in full effect across knitwear and jumpsuits while fur detailing and long ponchos injected a casually luxe elegance into his signature mix of modern technical outerwear. Shark-shaped bags and mittens gave things a playful twist. Aye aye captain.

christopherraeburn.co.uk

Joseph 

The basement of a Soho car park complete with silver foil blankets for warmth, provided the setting for Joseph’s take on desconstructed femininity – and the blanket association didn’t stop there. Across an almost nude colour palette, heavy knits and blanket fabrics seamlessly blended with silk, fur and cashmere to evoke an organic cozy familiarity, as hard oversize masculine cuts played against the softness, unravelling a seductive femininity – inspiration drawn from the work of sculptor Robert Morris.

In a collection which included threadbare knits with drop-stitching, fur tunics and blanket dresses, all worn with velcro strap sandals and thick woolly ankle socks, it evoked the feeling of coming in from the cold, with added comfort.

joseph-fashion.com

Sibling  

Do you wanna be in their gang? Yes please. The Sibling trio continued to put the fun into reworked classics, with an energetic collection which fused a myriad of textural styles, including signature cobwebbed knits, fuzzy furs, lyrically-splashed polished latex and a reinvented tweed two-piece in knitted lurex.

Drawing inspiration from the vibrant hues of the late Danish furniture and interiors designer Verner Panton, 80s neon pinks and sherbet oranges called for attention across colour-block knits, slinky knit dresses and skinny scarves, as detailing from beaded brooches and badges evoked those Saturday trips to Camden Market as a teenager, the one with only DIY on your mind. Slim and sexy silhouettes injected glamour into a collection which celebrated being too cool for school, complete with punk-edged mohawks.

The signature slogan sweater made its entrance too, paying homage to the show’s soundtrack by Blondie – Call Me it said, and if you saw one of Sibling’s girls hanging out at a party… you would definitely try to get her number.

siblinglondon.com

Ashley Williams 

From behind a key-hole underneath a neon sign that read “Ashley’s”, out stepped Georgia May Jagger and Alice Dellal along with a gang of cool cultish skater girls, transporting you back to the future, as 80s and 90s references signified a collection which celebrated subverting conventional dress codes. Taking inspiration from riot-grrl founder Kathleen Hanna, actress Chloe Sevigny and the 1985 Beastie Boys track, Girls, out came leather corsets (think vice and all things nice), heavy metal tees, neon pink cropped jumpers, fur bucket hats, vampish PVC dresses, leggings with knee holes, mini dresses decorated in patches, cartoon face print dresses and knit jumpers and skirts featuring graphics by Fergus Purcell.

This was in no way a bubblegum sweet collection, it was hard and fast for girls with a bold attitude who aren’t afraid to express themselves, defined by bratty slogans like “Improve Your Image. Be Seen With Me.” Now that’s confidence for you.

ashleywilliamslondon.com

Ashish

Who knew that stripper chic could be so covetable, as a troupe of sassy girls stomped out clad in a powerful and provocative collection which drew inspiration from Jane Fonda’s character Bree Daniels, in the cult 70s movie Klute.

Signature sequin embellishment took on a new form across pumped-up camouflage parkas, mini skirts and jumpers with fur trims, while stonewashed denim was roughed up for the streets, cut into dresses, jackets and lace-up jeans decorated with stud detailing. Boudoir-ready nighties with lace trimming sent the temperature soaring, along with lipstick-red latex boots and a patchwork fur slogan jumper which simply read, “Sex” – watching this collection, you couldn’t help but have it on your mind.

ashish.co.uk

Topshop Unique

There’s a new cocktail in town and it’s called ‘Topshop Unique’, as the fashion powerhouse blended one part outdoorsy daytime English heritage with one part slinky night owl, serving up a decadent mix of sexed-up kilts, vinyl miniskirts, dandelion print dresses with thigh-high slits, marabou trimmed dresses, embellished velvet frocks, Aran knits, retro roll necks and faux fur-lined duffel coats.

Mixing the conventional with the unconventional, this was a gilded happy hour full of posh girls from the countryside who come to the city to party (yah yah), kicking off their red square-toed velvet shoes at the end of the night. We’ll cheers to that.

topshop.com

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Dee Dee Penny: Dum Dum Girls

30.01.2015 | Music | BY:

Dee Dee Penny (aka Kristin Gundred), is an artistic statement all on her own – like a visually potent mix of Pat Benatar, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Blondie all rolled into one – she’s the hypnotic front woman for all-female guitar four-piece Dum Dum Girls. With their all-black clad femme fatale aesthetic, Dee Dee is the striking founding force behind the band, an inky-haired, red-lipped stage siren who mystically oozes an aura of sexiness and danger, enticing you into her world.

With their heart-wrecking girl group melodies – think the dreamy, guitar-heavy surf-rock of The Bangles and The Go-Go’s, but with a more seductive and polished sensibility – the Dum Dum Girl’s rise to fame is a product of Dee Dee’s visceral songwriting, seamlessly blending into a sonically charged soundscape, laced with echoes of post-punk through a fuzzy-pop filter. From their hyper-real video for the sweetly addictive “Rimbaud Eyes” (inspired by 19th-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud), to the Bret Easton Ellis-written psych-thriller for “Are You Okay” – the Dum Dum Girls continue to expand and colour our musical horizons.

Twin caught up with Dee Dee to talk female icons, poetry and tattoo symbolism.

You first introduced your music as a solo artist via MySpace – how did it then evolve into the band and being signed by indie powerhouse Sub Pop?
I guess contrary to appearances, the project still is at its core a solo one. The writing and recording processes are extremely personal for me, so it’s more a phase one – phase two thing: creating behind closed doors and then bringing it to the band to try on and fill out. Sub Pop signed me after a few songs online, no live show history and no true intentions to tour. They remain my dedicated cheerleaders. It was and continues to be a surreal partnership.

So with that in mind, obviously the music speaks for itself, but as front woman for the band, what do you want people to interpret about you – for example, most people could define Patti Smith or Blondie in one sentence. Who is Dee Dee, and is public acceptance important to you?
You’re right; the Patti’s and Debbie’s are larger than life, iconic. My path to owning my spot has been slower than I’d like. I started the project anonymously and was adamant the music should speak for itself. But with the last record (the third album Too True), and even more so now, I get it. I get that I am a person not just a voice, that fans want someone to look to, that my band needs a leader. I feel ready now. I’ve always given off a stoic vibe, an ice queen sort of thing, but I think that’s melted a bit. Maybe my vulnerability is more potent. I am pretty human.

What about forming an all-girl band – was it easy to find other women with the same vision and energy as you who wanted to be taken seriously as musicians?
My original intention was as much sonically motivated as politically. It was the classic girl group harmony thing I heard in my head – I needed to recreate that. I also had only ever played music with boys and was very much interested in experiencing for myself the female dynamic and energy that had inspired me when I was younger. I’m a few years past that now though; my drive is purely the music. I saw Sleater-Kinney (US rock band) touch on this last week – how it’s a badge you find yourself wanting to reject (have you ever seen an “all-boy band” descriptor?) but also knowing it’s a minority you want to support and promote.

And you play guitars too, so you must get asked all the usual questions about the role of women in rock music vs. feminism. So lets take a different angle – Chrissie Hynde said last year that being a woman in a band was great because guys will carry my guitars and stuff who’s going to say no? Guys always tune my guitars, too.

Please say you tune all your own guitars and carry your own cases?!
Yes to both! Though we do tour with a roadie. I generally carry it on flights, in a soft case. But I’ve stepped away from playing it for the most part. I don’t think I’ll be bringing it on tour for the next run. 

Talking of Chrissie, which other female pioneers and visionaries have inspired you personally?
So many, and so many I know personally. I’ve never been part of any scene but I do feel a general camaraderie that’s very empowering. Musicians like Tamaryn, Zohra Atash (Azar Swan), FKA Twigs, Hether Fortune (Wax Idols), Liza Thorn (Starred), Hollie Cook, Neneh Cherry, my stylist Raquel Medina-Cleghorn, the poet Ariana Reines. The post-drag art collective Chez Deep has maybe been the most singularly inspiring. They are fearless.

Many of those artists are similar to you in making songs which let your mind run wild into this hazy, emotional place, its provocatively poetic – do you read/write a lot of poetry yourself?

Both, though most written stuff ends up in songs. If it can stand alone though, that’s the high bar.

I imagine then that Patti Smiths revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock has inspired some of your creative output too?
Yeah she is the Queen. I go to her for a lot, like Christians might reference the Bible or something! 

And shes a mesmerising force to see live. Youve previously described yourself as a bit of a wallflower,  yet you blossom on stage. How do you reach that transcendent moment when you crossover into a glamour puss and woo the audience?
Oddly enough, I love performing. It’s like a safe place where nothing can touch me. Nothing can interfere. I did the whole last tour sober and that was maybe the most important discovery I’ve made recently. If you can touch that transcendent moment in a chemically unaltered state, well that’s power.

Stylistically on stage, you also fit that ‘Riot-Grrrl mould with your impressive mix of tattoos – can you tell me more about the symbolism behind them?
My tattoos are mostly commemorative in nature; I’ve lost a lot of people and they are tiny ways to keep their spirit alive. My support of other female artists, and more recently my relationship to my body and its incorporation into my music, are the most Riot Grrrl-influenced things about me. 

And what about the bands visual aesthetic, do you deliberately co-ordinate that gothic, femme-fatale-like uniform, or is it just how you all rock out?
It’s a lead-by-example sort of thing.

So you were obviously the perfect fit for fashion label AllSaints Biker Portrait Series – tell me more about that collaboration on the video for Under These Hands?
Their Creative Director is a fan and offered us a video session. It turned into a bigger thing than usual – they normally do live performances and we got to make a live music video while passing through London on our tour. I liked showcasing a live version of a song, abandoning my guitar and pulling in fans. 

Do you make more of a mental note now to think about what you wear in terms of self-expression, because it tells the audience a story about you?
I hope that the independent spirit is contagious.

I think it is! So whats your personal motto in life?
Sing Your Life by Morrissey.

The Dum Dum Girls will be performing live at Liverpool Sound City in the UK on May 24th.

wearedumdumgirls.com

Image one: Dee Dee Penny by James Orlando | Image two: Dum Dum Girls by Lauren Dukoff

Girls Only

20.01.2015 | Art , Culture | BY:

Thanks to feminist art historians like Griselda Pollock, Rozsika Parker and Linda Nochlin (Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?), alongside visionary female art activists such as Guerrilla Girls, and high-profile visionaries like Marina Abramović, Yayoi Kusama and Tracey Emin – all of whom have defied statistics when it comes to the male/female success ratio in the art world – there are increasingly more and more signs of recognition for the value, influence and stature of female artists.

Doing their own bit to ensure that cultural landscape remains is Girls Only. Girl-power gang, women-only wolf-pack, riot grrl clique – however you describe them, the transatlantic collective is an experimental community uniting female artists, encouraging conversation, creativity and expression from a new wave feminist stance. Twin caught up with the group’s founder and curator Antonia Marsh, to find out more.

How did Girls Only evolve?
After I graduated from my Masters in curating, I felt that I needed to generate my own voice as a curator so I decided to work on a project of my own. I left San Francisco for NYC, rented the first studio I viewed and started kitting it out. The first resident started within that month.

So were you an artist yourself too?
I’ve only recently started making art myself but I studied art history and have been working in the art world assisting and curating for ten years now.

What was your vision for the project?
To create a safe space for female artists to talk about and share their work with one another, outside of the exclusivity of a largely patriarchal art world. This vision has developed organically over time – while it remains, what I want more for the artists now is for them to be able to show their work in an exhibition context as much as possible.

So whats the process – from bringing a community of women together, to promoting the art?
It mostly starts with a conversation or an idea for a smaller project and then snowballs. We  do a lot of things – from film screenings to talks and discussion groups, exhibitions, school trips and studio visits – there is a lot of space for artists to get involved.

Were you ever concerned that by calling the group Girls Only, it immediately alienates men and becomes a feminist conversation?
Of course, this was a major concern from the start of the project. However, with this in mind the choice of name was deliberate. There’s nothing wrong with a feminist conversation, in fact I believe it’s really important that they are engaged with it. Girls Only is not about excluding men, it’s about including artists and providing them with the time, space and money to make work, that might not otherwise have such an opportunity.

At the moment with the under-representation of women in the commercial art world, and in museums and gallery shows, they are the artists that need these opportunities the most.

Youre obviously aware of activists like Guerrilla Girls and the Bunny Collective – do you think were having a renaissance for female artists, particularly thanks to the internet?
We actually did a performance project in homage to the Guerrilla Girls in New York! There’s definitely a lot more conversations about it, and I’m doing whatever I can to push in that direction.

Yet there are still many challenges facing female artists. What do you think is the glaringly obvious one?
I think whether or not to identify as female in relation to their work and whether that should be part of their artwork. I think many female artists actually feel inhibited by this and don’t feel the need to relate the work they’re making to their gender. I would imagine that with the burgeoning conversation surrounding feminism in the cultural zeitgeist at the moment, it can be hard to escape constant questions as to where they position themselves, and their practice in relation to this.

And do you think there has been any shift in male attitudes towards women in art?
Not really. I hope they’re freaking out though.

Me too, particularly with so much emerging talent out there. So who are your personal trailblazers – the ones who really shaped freedom of expression for women in art?
Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman, Carolee Schneeman, Jenny Saville, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas.

You recently collaborated with Anti-Agency in London – what was the purpose of pairing up a casting agency with the art world?
Lucy Greene and Pandora Lennard from Anti-Agency approached me after the first Girls Only exhibition in London. A lot of the girls they represent are extremely talented young female artists, and they wanted to give them a chance to show their work. After doing studio visits with them I was really impressed and they were fantastic to work with, I’m really proud of how the show turned out.

And whats next on your to-do list?
Well the residencies have officially started in London, so at the studio we will have two artists living and working, and at the end they will show their work at different spaces. Our website is also launching, and we are opening temporary studio and exhibition spaces in Paris, Copenhagen and Berlin so we can collaborate with local artists. Hopefully then we will put together a book of everything we’ve done so far.

And finally, how can women continue to ensure the art world keeps recognising their contribution and talent?
Honestly I think the answer to this is really just to keep on making art. It’s as simple and beautiful as that.

girlsonlynyc.tumblr.com

Image One: Girls Only Founder & Curator Antonia Marsh – pic credit Chad Moore | Image two: Artwork by artist Bella Howard from the Anti-Agency x Girls Only Exhibition – Pic Credit, Tas Gaitanos | Image three: Artwork by artist Arvida Bystrom from the Anti-Agency x Girls Only Exhibition – Pic Credit, Tas Gaitanos | Image four: Artwork by artist Nicole Fitch from the Anti-Agency x Girls Only Exhibition – Pic Credit, Tas Gaitanos

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