As another series of RuPaul’s Drag Race draws to a close (with its highest viewers yet), RuPaul’s position as a titan of queer culture is cemented.
It can’t be easy being the best known drag queen in the world, and fans of Drag Race will be familiar, by now, with Ru’s very Zen way of handling the spotlight, as well as handling other people.
Which is why this candid interview with Joan Rivers is so very refreshing. Ru really spills the T, from his often-overlooked background as a punk rocker and a go-go dancer, to his long term relationship and its “open” status, his mother (who sounds great!), his make-up tips, and his musings on gay culture and its relationship with the mainstream, which makes for some of the most interesting, and insightful, conversation here. You also get to find out RuPaul’s real name, which may come as a bit of a surprise if you don’t already know.
Of course, Joan Rivers is no minnow in the sea of gay culture herself, so it shouldn’t be surprising that when these too get together it’s a real treat. Both are fountains of knowledge, both queer and straight, and to see them kiki with so much mutual admiration is great. There’s simply no way they couldn’t be fans of each others’ work, which probably explains the openness and ease of this interview.
RuPaul in bed with Joan Rivers really is worth a watch:
Like I mentioned in the article, Egyptian Lover is a bona fide legend, a pioneer of both Hip-hop culture on America’s West Coast, and the TR-808 drum machine (the foundation stone of rap, electro and house music - in fact, it’s an integral part of all electronic music.) If you are in anyway interested in dance music culture and it’s history, then Egyptian Lover, or Greg Broussard to his friends, should loom very large on your radar.
Which is why I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY to announce that Egyptian Lover has produced a remix for my next single. That release is an acid-vogue version of Missy Elliot’s “Work It” that I have performed in my live sets for a long time, and included on my AKA album earlier this year (available to hear and as a free download here).
I still need to pinch myself form time to time to prove that no, I am not dreaming, I really do have a remix from Egyptian Lover. This guy has been a huge influence on my own music and djing, so to actually have him creating a beat and rapping on my track is… hard to describe.
As we say over here, I’m chuffed.
I sent Greg a few quick questions to answer, via email:
Do you still have the first 808 you bought? If so, does it still work?
Yes I still have the first one I ever bought and 5 more. I absolutely love the sound of it. I even bring one on the road with me to play at all my shows.
Are there any good 808 substitutes (for people who can’t afford the real thing)?
What are your top 3 808-based tracks of all time?
The 808 is still going strong to this very day. Who are your favorite modern producers, or djs?
Not too many, I’m old school 100% but I like AUX88, Jimmy Edgar, Jamie Jones, Dam Funk, just to name a few.
You seem to be touring non-stop. How is that going?
It’s a great life when you can see the world, DJ, and get paid for it!!!
What are your favorite places to play?
Paris, London, all of Germany and Barcelona are my favorites
What’s coming up in the near future for the Egyyptian Lover?
A new album 1984 and a big surprise with Stones Throw Records.
Have you ever been to Egypt?
Never been to Egypt but I plan on it very very soon!!!
Now THAT would be a gig to see - Egyptian Lover rocking the pyramids of Giza with his trusty 808. Or maybe on a boat down the Nile on the way to his house. I’ll do a fuller interview with Greg when 1984 is ready to drop, but in the meantime, here is the Egyptian Lover’s remix of “Work It”:
The full download release of Work It is coming on the 17th of September through Juno, and I will be uploading more of the remixes (from Hard Ton, Electrosexual, Ynfynyt Scroll and Cunt Traxxx) to my Soundcloud page over the coming weeks.
There’s always music and news updates available at www.niallism.com, and if you’re on Facebook, you can find me here.
As he mentioned, Egyptian Lover’s album 1984 will be coming out later this year on Stones Throw Records. You can keep up to date with Egyptian Lover, and his tour schedule, via Twitter and MySpace.
HARDTalk is an in-depth interview program from BBC News, something akin to Larry King Live with a sit down, face-to-face, half hour format (perhaps there’s a better reference point here, but my knowledge of American news broadcasters is limited.) In this edition, which aired last week, host Stephen Sackur talks to Alan Moore, who may be a hero to many but is still a fringe presence in this kind of mainstream news setting.
Moore has nothing in particular to promote, so this isn’t a kiss-ass puff piece, and being a “serious” show there is no talk of magic and mysticism. Instead, Sackur picks issue with Moore’s characterisation of the comics industry as gangsters, and has pertinent questions to ask him about the subjects of his works Lost Girls and V For Vendetta. Moore responds very well to being taken this seriously, answering with an unusual frankness and striking honesty:
HARDTalk with Alan Moore (part 1)
HARDTalk with Alan Moore (part 2) is after the jump…
An amusing little anecdote from Ari Up of the Slits about the time she met Patti Smith after a show in the 70s (which doesn’t go quite as you’d expect.) As ever, Up oozes oddball charm here, she is still very much missed!
Last Friday I posted the new video from the band SSION called “My Love Grows in The Dark.” If you haven’t watched it yet, then go and do so right now. It’s a little bizarre and rather brilliant. The album that song is taken from, Bent, was available as a free download release for one month only last year, and it was one of my favorites. This year too in fact, as it is being given a physical re-release soon by the Dovecote label.
SSION, which has existed in various forms over the years, is essentially the brainchild of Cody Critcheloe. Cody is a visual artist and video director by day (he has directed clips for Peaches and Santigold) but by night he transforms into a gender-and-preconception bending performer whose live shows have been picking up a lot of acclaim. I spoke to Cody a short while back about SSION, and his decision to release such an excellent album for free. Here’s a little taster:
Bent is a great pop album. In fact, I’d say it is surprisingly great for a free download release. How did the idea to release it for free first come about?
I have always worked outside of labels, and the way it goes I’ll put out a record every four years. I’ll take a while to develop it and work out what I wanna do with it. At the time there’s wasn’t anyone anxious to put it out, so it seemed like the right thing to do. I thought if a label really wants to be a part of this they’ll figure out a way to go about this, because SSION is such a different kind of project. It seemed like a big FU to put it out and let people get it and listen to it, and I like the idea of people being able to get it, so people who aren’t even your fans can still get into it.
What has your fans’ reaction been to the download release?
It’s crazy ‘cos I think in the long term it’s gonna pay off. The shows we’ve played in New York have all been really amazing, and everyone knows the words to the songs already. It’s been instant, like this has already had an effect, an effect outside of any label being behind it to pump it up or publicize it. Everything that has happened to SSION is because of people who are genuinely interested and really into the music. I love the fact that there’s gonna be a physical release ‘cos I put a lot of work into the art work, but I could also take it or leave it. If it doesn’t work out I can still have a life. I still somehow survive off doing these things and other projects. I’m just into it as a very punk way of going about things.
But what about an effect on sales?
The thing about it is, the last record we had you can find it online for free, so why not make it available for everyone? And it’s crazy too because our other records are on iTunes and we still make money of them every month, even though people could easily get them for free.
“Come To Daddy” sleeve painted on “SAW2” cassettes bySami Havia
This is a treat for fans of IDM and ambient music - a 70 minute, 1996 Aphex Twin special from MTV UK’s Party Zone dance program. There’s an interview with Richard James, numerous videos, some live footage from the Big Love festival, and an extended extract from the Warp Records’ film Westworld, a collaboration between Aphex Twin and visual artists Stakker.
There’s always been something about James that has struck me as bratty - from the tales of driving tanks through central London to numerous reports from friends of spending relatively large sums on tickets only for James not to play, or not to play properly. This interview doesn’t really do much to dispel that, but it does give a bit of insight into his working methods at the time, and goddamit his tunes are good. So sit back, relax, and zone out:
Manchester’s Market Street branch of American Apparel, yesterday.
The wave of rioting has spread further across the UK, and last night it arrived here in Manchester. This is footage from Sky News of an interview with one of the rioters/looters.
I have been asked to transcribe this as the interviewee’s accent is thick. Here it is. I have transcribed the interviewee verbatim, but have sumarised the interviewer’s questions (I am sure we can all understand him):
Why are you masked?
Because the police will get me on camera, and then they’ll nick [arrest] me 3 months down the line.
If you were law abiding -
I’m not law abiding, nah.
So why are you doing this?
To piss the police off, do you get me?
Why do you want to piss off the police?
You don’t know what the police are like bro… no, I can’t explain in words.
Please try to explain - are you doing this out of anger?
I’m out for money [not for anger] because the police nick you for stupid things mate, and now this is our payback because they can’t do nothing to us today. So it’s like freedom, like do whatever you want today.
What have you been doing?
I’ve been doing what I want. Getting pissed [drunk].
After the jump, footage of Miss Selfridge on Manchester’s main thoroughfare, Market Street, being set alight.
The great Nile Rodgers has started uploading clips from his old TV show New Visions to his new YouTube account. This short clip gives a fascinating insight into the artwork made by Miles Davis, of which there is an example above, called “The Kiss”.
Here Miles talks candidly about the shapes and colours in his work and what they mean to him, in his wonderfully gravelly voice. It all seems very sexual. The only downside is that this video is agonisingly short - Nile, if you have the full length version of this episode then you HAVE to put it online for the whole world to see!
Another clip from New Visions, this time featuring guitarists John Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana, Robert Fripp and more:
Man Test was a British TV program where famous people are asked a series of questions on their private lives, and asked to rate their feelings on certain topics from one to seven. The overall score will determine whether a person falls more into the “masculine” or “feminine” category. Where do you think Henry Rollins lands? The answer may surprise you.
On the other hand, I’ve only just recently watched The Henry Rollins Show, as it never aired in the UK as far as I knew. To my mild surprise I like it and him. He comes across well, though that would be the point of having your own TV show I guess. But Rollins is an excellent interviewer, holding back on inserting his own ego into conversations and good at creating rapport with his guests. The Werner Herzog and Steve Buscemi interviews are good examples. I don’t even mind his rants on the show, which is more surprising as I am not a fan of his stand up. It’s hectoring, and not as insightful or as clever as he thinks it is.
Man Test gives some surprising insights into Henry Rollins’ character. The show, from 2000, asks him some direct questions about his love and family life, which he is not afraid of answering openly. Rollins is not a man who wears his intelligence lightly, which works against him sometimes, but he is definitely an interesting character. Personally, I would like to know if he is a fan of TLC’s “No Scrubs”?
Hmm, I think the subtitles on this clip are not an accurate representation of the conversation taking place. But still, it made me laugh, and it combines two currently popular memes - Bin Laden dying and a look back at rave culture.
Edit - turns out this guy’s name is Dimitri - thanks Tara and Woody!
In all seriousness though, the reaction of the rave generation to the clamping down on personal freedoms since 9/11 is to me one of the greatest cultural disappointments of the last decade. Especially as the rave “scene” in the UK was born out of opposition to police and government harassment. I touch on this topic in my article “2001: All Eyes on New York”, part of a retrospective series on Noughties music for for the Weaponizer site. Contrast the reality of what has happened these last years to how the ravers themselves imagine they have changed society in the 2000 documentary “The Chemical Generation”, posted by Paul on this site only a few months ago. It’s grim.
Regardless of what you think of his music, it can’t be denied that Andrew WK gives great interviews. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he is the most articulate, erudite Wayne Campbell look-a-like in modern music. Any guest spot he’s on is worth a watch, there’s generally at least one nugget of pure wisdom in there.
I remember growing up reading interviews with bands I though were seriously cool, and how the proclamations and sound bites they would deliver regarding culture and (sometimes) politics would make them seem even cooler. Only later did I learn how much editing and re-writing goes into the process of music journalism. Oh. So they probably made it up? Not Andrew WK. No, this is how he actually talks.
There’s a bit of controversy surrounding this guy (is he who he says he is? is he just a corporate puppet?) and I have to admit that at first I was suckered into thinking he was another airhead with nothing to offer but nosebleeds and puke buckets. But alas, I was wrong. This episode of Rehersal Space is a good introduction to the Andrew WK dichotomy (onstage animal/offstage intellectual). It really gets going around 4:30, when Andrew starts talking about the physical, emotional and mental (even psychic?!) response to pop music:
This interview is how I discovered the magic of Andrew WK’s mouth and mind. I’m a big fan of Ian Svenonius (frontman of Weird War/The Make Up/Nation of Ulysses, equally as articulate as W.K. if a bit more oblique) and his Soft Focus interview series. I had already watched the episodes with Genesis P Orridge, Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye, and thought I would give this one a whirl. Needless to say I was entranced by the wit and wisdom of WK (as was Svenonius who, not quite speechless, was genuinely impressed). WK’s seemingly off the cuff answer to “what is a party to you?” at around 19 minutes will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
After the jump: Andrew WK gets a make-over at Bloomingdales! Andrew WK talks to Lee Scratch Perry! Andrew WK interviewed by a four year old! AND Andrew WK gives the best one word response in an interview EVER…
Richard, if you ever get the chance to interview this guy, then please do!
David Lynch’s Interview Project has recently and quietly come to its scheduled end. The well-produced online-only project comprises a full 121 video interviews with random people, shot by Lynch’s team (led by his son Austin) on a year-long road-trip around the United States.
Lynch and co. manage to tap deeply into the wealth of personal stories in the great American working class that was first mined by the likes of oral historian Studs Terkel. But Interview Project filters Terkel’s ultra-earnest approach through the post-thereputic present, often getting a surprising amount of confessional material from a literal stop-and-talk encounter.