The Skinny: April 2015 Editions




THE SKINNY northwest ISSUE 25

Though this month’s Travel piece laments the sameness of commercialised cultural experience around the world, there’s enough evidence in these pages of folk trying to do things differently that – hopefully – it’s not time to despair quite yet.

The Northwest theatre scene has of late been dominated by conversation around the opening of HOME and the announcement of the programme for the fifth Manchester International Festival, but while these big events are terribly exciting, they shouldn’t overshadow – and indeed wouldn’t be possible without – developments happening on a smaller scale, so it’s great to hear from figures like incoming Bolton Octagon artistic director Elizabeth Newman, with her transformative vision for both the theatre and its hometown, and from the company Graeae, campaigners for accessibility within the arts. Also going their own way this issue are comedian Harriet Dyer, who introduces a new monthly night where acts are encouraged to use the confrontational power of the medium to talk about mental health, and filmmaker Carol Morley, who follows up her deeply upsetting Dreams of a Life with woozy girls-school mystery The Falling, and observes that female writer-directors don’t seem to find themselves labelled ‘auteur’ perhaps as often as they should. 

Most thrilling lately of course is that THE SUN HAS BEEN OUT A BIT and there is proof of it on our very cover, starring lucky buggers Errors, who got to spend winter 2013 recording their fifth album on the Isle of Jura and continue their communion with nature in this beautiful shoot for The Skinny by Mihaela Bodlovic. All that fresh air has informed a breathy, breezy new record, Lease of Life. Further evidence in this magazine that the sun has been out a bit may be found on page 21, 27 and 40. It’s all very exciting.

Someone not unfamiliar with the sun is Melburnian Courtney Barnett, who seems to be taking the recent infinite radio play of current single Pedestrian at Best in her stride, simply “just kinda doing whatever I normally do” and accidentally storming the airwaves in the process: she is her cool, relaxed self on p12, while elsewhere Music is rounded off with words from eternal heartbreak kid Ben Gibbard, Islington Mill dwellers Gnod, and some ostentatious words with Wu-Tang Clanner Raekwon.

Books and Clubs get all ancestral as, in the former, author Patricia Duncker tips her hat to George Eliot and, in the latter, an assembly of DJs look back on their time at the infamous Wigan Casino and explain why the legendary venue played such an influential part in the nascence of Northern Soul. Comedy brings the visual LOLs as the lads from Found Footage Festival introduce us to some of their favourite characters from several years’-worth of digging through weird old VHS tapes and up-and-coming standup Tom Little finds himself on the wrong side of a raging bull, albeit a cartoon one. In Fashion, Manchester jewellery designer Ciara Clark, who readers may remember from our interview last February, styles a shoot for her We Are Kin studio co-founder and photographer, Marta Julve; Deviance meditates on the moronism of ‘meninism’; Showcase features the detailed and mildly unsettling ceramics of Camille Smithwick; Food is both very serious and utterly ridiculous on one page, and Art just chills the fuck out in Pendle.

Last but not least, this issue marks two years of publishing in the Northwest for The Skinny. Whatever it is you do to enrich this funny old life on this strange and beautiful planet – whether you eat books, go to the theatre, get off your face in basements, make art, look at art, travel the world, dream of travelling the world, watch movies, argue about music, invent weird sketch shows with your mates, drink beer, cook badly, cook middlingly, cook well, or just enjoy reading about all these things and more – we hope that in some way this publication is able to contribute something interesting to the conversation. Whether this is the first time you’ve picked it up or you grab a copy every month, thank you for reading The Skinny.

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THE SKINNY Scotland Issue 115

Think of cover stars Errors and it is unlikely that you would conjure up visions of country idylls and the redemptive power of nature. It’s more likely, based on their previous output and general gigging schedule, that you would imagine the dark interior of a Glasgow club, or the throbbing hum of a Woodlands afterparty. Yet here they are, perched atop a hill on the ocean’s edge on the Hebridean isle of Jura. They tell us about their creative rural retreat to the isle, and its influence on new album Lease of Life.

Further into Music, we have some words with rising Aussie songbird Courtney Barnett, over in the UK with succinctly named debut album Sometimes I Sit, And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit. If the conversation online is anything to go by, she’s swiftly becoming a lot of people’s favourite artist – find out more about her disarmingly frank compositions on p15. Even further in, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard talks broken pottery and broken bones, introducing the band’s eighth studio album, Kintsugi, released this month; Salford collective Gnod tell us about killing off psych rock; and John O’Groats’ New Blood Neon Waltz discuss their sharp ascendancy and working with the man who made Oasis famous. We continue our rundown of 2015’s musical offerings with a look at what’s happening in the nation’s outdoor festivals over the summer, the good ones, that is. And on our final page, the inimitable Raekwon leaves us with this unforgettable quote – "When you think of Raekwon, you think ‘He’s internationally known, he’s respected in the game, and he makes luxury art on wax.’” ‘Zactly.

Film fans will be happy to find some words with director Noah Baumbach, here to tell us about new comedy While We’re Young, his follow-up to unapologetic hipster love-in Frances Ha. He seems to have changed his mind about the youth of today, and now eviscerates said hipsters by throwing Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts into their Brooklyn milieu. We also meet Ron Mann to talk about his documentary on the great Robert Altman, and director Ruben Östlund introduces new film Force Majeure, a pitch black comedy exploring what happens when a father abandons his family in the face of an avalanche.

Art looks forward to that much-mentioned but rarely seen concept – SPRING. The Glasgow creative community is waking up from its winter hibernation and celebrating by throwing open the doors of their dwellings. Glasgow Open House weekender invites you into artists’ abodes across the city, while 1 Royal Terrace present their new programme, Colloquy, with exhibitions happening in their residential front room gallery from now until June.

Those Neu! Reekie! mentalists are bringing their much-loved events programme into the physical realm this month as they release #UntitledOne, a book and album celebrating much of the literary / poetry / musical scene that they connect and champion with their monthly nights. They tell us all about it on p16. We also look forward to Glasgow literary festival Aye Write!, which arrives in town this month to celebrate its tenth year. Stalwarts Louise Welsh, Christopher Brookmyre and Alan Bissett discuss the year’s programme, and why it’s totally mental a literary festival didn’t exist in Glasgow before last decade.

Arika are returning with their latest episode of exploratory creative work to pose the question: ‘Could the ways we attend to each other’s joys and pains help us to generate different futures together? Could we give humanness a different future by re-imagining what bodies and minds can be?’ Find out more on p22 and in the Tramway over their five day programme. Theatre also anticipates Behaviour festival, back in the Arches for April.

In a decision we may (as usual) come to regret, Comedy sees Fred Fletch interview some porn stars about internet trolling. Those of a sensitive disposition should look away now. In Travel, our writing competition winner Damien Cifelli scribes a piece on globalisation and the resulting cultural homogeneity occurring around the world. And finally, Fashion has taken its annual sneak peek at the Edinburgh College of Art graduate collections, displayed in all their glory in our centre spread. [Rosamund West]

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