“Play what you know and then play above that.”Miles Davis
“When I die, just keep playing the records.”Jimi Hendrix
Vans released a line of shoes themed to commemorate the late David Bowie and his artful genius. Each of the four designs in The Vans x David Bowie collection mimic the artist’s album covers, including Blackstar and Aladdin Sane from his earlier glam era.
You can read more about the special collection here.
The ‘write what you know’ trope works because it’s easier to write the truth. But what’s authentic isn’t always what’s best for the art.
David Bowie modified his voice when he sang “I’m Afraid of Americans.” He wanted to make sure the tone matched up with the voice of the character (himself) portraying it. He interpreted music through motion. Brian Eno said that Bowie did what was best for the song, not clinging to the usual memoir approach of a singer.
“A lot of people think that singers should always be sincere, that it has to be their own soul coming out. That’s b — — — -. What you’re really doing is working like a playwright. You’re making little plays and the singer is the lead character.”Brian Eno
Eno encourages fictional storytelling. Making art is an act. It’s supposed to be fantasy. But some artists think that the truth is what sets them free and leave it to their fans are there to sort it out.
“It’s that ridiculous teenage idea that when Mick Jagger sings, he’s telling you something about his own life. It’s so arrogant to think that people would want to know about it. This is my problem with Tracey Emin. Who f****** cares.”Brian Eno
Art breaks the rules. It takes inspiration from the real world to create something new. It dances with fear. Artists continue dreaming into adulthood, without taking everything so seriously.
“Children learn through play, adults learn through art.”
Eno’s modus operandi it to make stuff that’s “a continuation of what we do as children.” He recently released a new album on Warp Records called The Ship. He also created a ‘visual music’ light piece called The Zenith. Eno creates things he wished existed.
Both Eno and Bowie teach us to have fun with our curiosity by showing the world what we can see in our heads.
I first heard of artist Kate Bush on Tricky’s Back to Mine album in 2003. The former Massive Attack frontman also had this to say about the singer:
“I don’t believe in god, but if I did, [Kate Bush’s] music would be my Bible.”
Watch any of her iconic music videos. Her unique fashion sense and dances inspired the likes of Bjork and Tori Amos. Like David Bowie, she interpreted music as an act and sang and danced in a way that befitted the character of the song. So why wasn’t she a star like Bowie? One of her biggest admirers, Andre 3000 of Outkast, once explained:
“Kate Bush’s music opened my mind up. She was so bugged-out, man, but I felt her. She’s so f*ckin’ dope, so underrated and so off the radar.”
Before Bush became a recluse, she made 50 demo tapes by the age of fifteen, got signed, and eventually went on tour in 1979 to promote her first album The Kick Inside. As Emmanuel Happsis writes for KQED writes:
“And then she stopped touring completely, as if to say, I don’t need your validation. I will release life-changing music on my own schedule whenever I want and you will flake on your friends to stay home and cry to it.”
Like the release of any new iPhone, her life secrecy inspired ever more interest. She even made fans wait 12 years between album releases — she released Aerial in 2005 after 1993’s The Red Shoes. And finally, 35 years later, she’s back on tour in London.
Bush took an unusual, slow route to making music – making her fanbase beg for her reappearance. After a long wait, it is a relief to have her back.
Do yourself a favor and catch up on everything in ‘Kate Bush: A Crash Course for the Non-Believer.’
When advertising is done right, it doesn’t feel like advertising. Take a look back at the life of Elton John in this beautiful life montage. The video reminds me of Nike’s nostalgic commercial showcasing the home video archives of Serena Williams.
Photographer and blogger Eilon Paz has put together a book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting, which features more than 130 vinyl collectors across the world.
The images are amazing and diverse, ranging from the Italian man who owns the world’s largest collection of colored vinyl records to an owner who collects only Beatles’ White Album records.
Says Paz in an interview with Slate Magazine on capturing the vinyl enthusiasts:
It’s just me and the camera and that’s it. It’s like two friends hanging out listening to records and then I shoot some photos. It builds a very intimate moment between me and my subjects. When they talk about music they lose all their inhibitions. They just really enjoy it.
Vinyl has been having a resurgence the last few years as a reaction to the digitization of everything. As the most famous rock DJ John Peel promptly noted: “Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, ‘Listen, mate, life has surface noise.”
Alex Bartsch spent the last ten years photographing the original locations of some of his favorite UK reggae vinyl covers from 1967 to 1987. Holding each sleeve up to arm’s length, he meshes the past and present of London’s surroundings.
While Googling came handy, what he found in his research was that most of the shoots took place outside the record label offices themselves. He told Huck Magazine:
“It often starts with the information on the record sleeve but many of them don’t offer much to go on. I have learned through doing this project that a good place to start is the area where the label was based. Sometimes it was just outside the door of the record label.”
Some of the artists included in his book Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London include Bob Marley & The Wailers, Alton Ellis, Peter Tosh, Delroy Wilson, and more.
Music writer penned a dynamite article celebrating the 20th-anniversary release of [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FMF3R76″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Mezzanine[/easyazon_link] from UK band Massive Attack.
Mezzanine is an album best listened to loud, preferably on earphones, to properly hear the layers of weirdness and rhythms, a soulful sound collage that was miles away from the “Parklifes” and “Champagne Supernovas” of their Brit-pop contemporaries Blur and Oasis.
Along with the likes of fellow Bristol-based artists Portishead and Tricky, the band helped usher in an era of trip-hop. The trip-hop genre mashed hip-hop and electronica, adding layers of rock, soul, and dub. Mezzanine was therefore fresh and original, contrary to the DJ sampling on the group’s previous two albums [easyazon_link identifier=”B01L388UBI” locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Blue Lines[/easyazon_link] and [easyazon_link identifier=”B000TEVJYS” locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Protection[/easyazon_link].
The trip-hop label was bestowed on the group by the Brit journalist Jonathan Taylor to describe the trippy music that was simultaneously street and psychedelic. Trip-hop was a tag that, like jazz, was often rejected by the practitioners, but it fit perfectly.
Mezzanine contained 4 singles, each matched by a dark and intriguing music video (see below). It’s also worth mentioning that one of the three key band members, Robert Del Naja, is rumored to be street artist Banksy.
To celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary, the band decided to release the album in DNA format. 920,000 DNA strands make it the second-largest file ever stored in DNA. This is sure to make it forever timeless.