Tag Archives: Pop

Young Professionals to Watch: Gavin Collins, Photographer

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privellage to present another talented photographer from the streets of the cultural capital city that is Cape Town! May I introduce Mr Gavin Collins: 

The extraordinarily gifted creator of his Pretty Trendy blog, Gavin Collins, began his photographic and creative journey as a simple means of self expression. However, his natural talent and eye for style have captured the interest of many of Cape Town’s creatives. He is a remarkably dynamic individual and definitely one to look out for in the future.  

Dani: In a few words, sum up the essence of you:

Gavin: I’m a funny-looking, care-free kid with big dreams and creative thoughts.

Dani: Where are you from and how did you become involved in photography?

Gavin: I’ve lived in Cape Town my whole life and for as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures. I was into creative things like drawing and painting at school, and photography was just the next step for me. My friends and I used to spontaneously get dressed up (okay we still do) and mission around town to try get cool shots. I guess it’s just progressed from there.

Dani: If you had to classify your work in one or two sentences it would be…?

Gavin: I am fascinated by contemporary South African pop culture. I photograph things that appeal to me, exploring the aesthetic of simple, everyday things; finding beauty that others may overlook.

I am also interested in fashion and aspire to one day shoot for international fashion magazines.

Dani: Which have been your favourite shoots and why?  

Gavin: My favourite shoot would have to be one of my very first ones. It was a very informal shoot with my friend Daisy on Longbeach in Noordhoek. She had this really cool, old red umbrella and together with stormy clouds and perfect light I really loved the photographs that I was able to make.

Oh and I also had a really fun day shooting some spoof shots of See You Next Wednesday with my friends for the Crazy White Bitches summer sale. It was hilarious because we were trying to be as outrageous as possible, and I think the end product was pretty successful.

Dani: What or whom would you love to photograph if you could choose anything or anyone in the world? Why?

Gavin: I would love to shoot someone like Charlotte Free for a magazine like Dazed & Confused or Wonderland. She is a total bad ass and has such an amazing sense of style (and she’s like stunningly beautiful) and Dazed is such an iconic magazine.

Dani: Where can one find your work?

Gavin: On my blog www.prettytrendy.tumblr.com

Dani: What he failed to mention is that his work has been regularly featured in popular arts magazine One Small Seed (an online and print magazine reknowned for recognising and promoting the work of notable creatives), exhibitions such as the Bodyblocks  exhibition (a playful collection of body photography by upcoming and established photographers hosted by Exposure Gallery at The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock in 2011) and he has a consistantly strong online following.    

 

Dani: What is the greatest lesson life has taught you thus far?

Gavin: I’ve learnt that if you want to be happy in life you need to embrace the challenges you experience with a positive attitude. A positive mentality is one of the greatest tools you can use when trying to achieve your goals. You should never underestimate the power of your mind.

Dani: If you could work with or for any photographer who would it be? And why?

 Gavin: I’d have to say Rankin. He is really just a phenomenal photographer. He co-founded one of my favourite magazines, Dazed and he has recently launched a new magazine, called The Hunger, that consists of entirely his photographs (well, minus one or two). It’s incredible, I can’t think of any other photographer in the world attempting (or even thinking) of doing the same thing.

Gavin has this untamed honesty to his art. He has this gift and curse that he can’t hold anything back. That’s real art. In his pictures, in his write-ups; its all him. It comes across in the emotion of his photographs. He is telling stories with his camera. 

Dani: If someone made a movie of your life, who would play the lead? 

Gavin: Sheesh I have no idea. Well it would have to be a skinny white boy with a bad haircut playing me and it would definitely be a comedy.

Dani: Would you watch it?

Gavin: No. There’s no chance I would watch it because my life is awkward enough already, I don’t need to watch it being screened to an audience.

Dani: When you die you want the world to remember this:

Live hard, have fun and always make sure you wear clean underwear.

Find out more about Gavin Collins by checking out his blog www.prettytrendy.tumblr.com or stalk him on facebook.

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Women in the Music Industry

There is a lot of negative stigma attached to the concept “Women in music.”

Groupies and girlfriends and other sorts of latchers on are now making money out of the musicians apart from bribing them and selling their secrets, through the likes of their own books and reality t.v. shows. This type of involvement of women in the music industry is destructive for those who actually ARE musicians themselves. It is very difficult for women to be taken seriously as musicians and it seems to me that it is a male dominated industry as far as instrumentation is concerned even today. 

This rant was birthed from a friend’s facebook status about the lack of pants worn by Rihanna and Beyonce and Lady Gaga. It made me think about the female role in the music scene. I am very much of the opinion that women have pretty much branded themselves as sex on purpose with sales and marketing in mind. Lets face it, nobody wakes up the morning of their gig and goes

 “I think ill just wear this leotard on stage because all my other clothes are in the wash.” Unlikely.

So my first point is that the lack of clothes is always a premeditated course of action. The ladies weren’t tricked into being half naked. They want to wear no clothes. Its an easy cop-out option to attract people without the talent doing the talking.

Number two: If sexy people want to wear no clothes, go for it. Its their thing. There are millions of ways to look horrendous in outfits that do include pants so I guess its just a case of people pulling off the look they’re going for. Sometimes going for “outrageous freak” works for people ala Lady Gaga and David Bowie. It should be noted though that to dress outlandishly obviously increases the chances of getting it horribly wrong ala Rihana. (I have to include that I am well bias when it comes to Rihana because I really detest her music and Nuno Bettencourt is her guitarist. Well jealous. How terrible is it that amazing musicians are making horrible music because there is more money in bad taste than good taste?!  But that’s for another time.)

 And That’s  the thing about bizarre experimentation: sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
 So the other side of the coin is that society clearly has some blame in this scenario too. Ladies with minimum talent are doing extremely well while basing their carreers on sexiness. Examples of this are endless. Credit to them for actually making money off their rubbish songs though.  (Grumble. Grumble.) You would have to be really stupid not to notice that sex sells. Sad fact. Passing sexiness off as “talent” is a lucritive business strategy.

What is far, far worse than talentless ladies making money off of a sexy image is extraordinarily talented ladies doing the same thing.

Voices like Madonna and Cher really did not have to strip down to make it! But they did (And then some). That bleaks me out more than anything. Say what you will about them, those are two of the most phenominal and dynamic performers in the world. They sing, they act and they are legendary icons.

When is it time to stand back and let your talent do the work and not the botox? I believe in these women. I believe in their ability and clearly they don’t have as much faith in their talent as I do. Nobody wants to see Elton John in spandex or a thong. These women are just as accomplished (and just as old).

 

That is not to say that men don’t also exploit their        sexiness to sell their music. Think of Sebastian Bach (Skidrow) and Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Billy Idol, Mick Jagger, Steve Vai… I can’t recall many iconic images of Iggy Pop in a shirt.  In the music industry you are selling your image, your lifestyle, your music, your person. You are the brand. I actually enjoy the multifaceted nature of it all.

 

Sexiness is a whole lot more than no clothes though. It’s the way people speak. It’s in the way people move. It is also a clever  tool to make oneself more appealing. Ultimately that’s what you’re aiming for I guess, to use whatever you can to get those people in that room to get into your music.  

I have this idea though that all the pimping and promoting can actually undermine the music. Isn’t the real magic of music the fact that it is the music that makes you feel?

 

 

Music can make you cry, make you dance, mourn the loss, share the joy, feel the love, relate, remember, forget, call you to arms, inspire, give hope, bring destruction. It’s the music that causes you to really and truly feel. It amazes me, knocks-me-over every single time musicians do that. Every time a song stirrs up a whirlpool inside you, you are feeling what some  musician has created. New artists, old forgotten songs, live bands or tapes; THAT is the beauty of music.

I seldom put on a record and lie on my bed thinking “if only Led Zeppelin had released a frangrance” or listen to Marlene Dietrich thinking “I’m sure her outfit was so 1940s.”

The branding, the image, the sexiness and the facades all fade with time. The only thing left is the music; The songs we write, the light or darkness that we speak and sing into the world. I don’t see much appeal in leaving your legacy as “that umbrella chick  with no pants.”

Some points to consider:

a) Performers have been rocking that leotard look for CENTURIES! Literally. And theres a reason ballet dancers are all super scarily skinny… Its not a flattering look. 

b) Using sex to sell your music is only a good idea if you know your music is too horrible to sell otherwise or if you are lazy.

c) Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh is not a real sentence.

 

Lastly, it is an unforgivable thing to lump the likes of Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Ella, Janis Joplin, Tracy Chapman and hundreds of brilliant female musicians who have revolutionised the world with their amazing gifts in the same basket as Joe from the Real Housewives of Orange County or Jessica Simpson.

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Isochronous Inscape Album Tour, 2Sep, Mercury (CT)

Isochronous (photographed by Laura McCullagh)

Isochronous hit Mercury last weekend with full force and, as promised, it was quite a pimping event. The band that originally hails from Pretoria have a steady and loyal following (mainly from the Northern suburbs interestingly) in the Western Cape who’d mission around to fill the most unusual spots just to get a chance to see these boys take the stage. Luckily for them though, this time it was an epic gig at the old faithful venue, Mercury Live, sporting good sound, good beer, bad wine and bad-asses. All the best ingredients for a great night out!

The line-up also included Red Huxley and The Sleepers. Both bands have got stellar reputations themselves. Red Huxley rocked an entirely danceable set with a kind of old school honkey-tonk swagger. The enthusiasm from the jam-packed masses is a testament to their ability to win over any crowd. With raw guitar grooves and steady drums, Red Huxley had rock’nroll riding on the airwaves.  

The Sleepers' new rocking vocalist, Daniel Photographed by Laura McCullagh

 The Sleepers were up next with their new frontman Dan for the second time ever. They totally killed their set, impressing old fans and new faces alike. The energy! It was pretty epic. Each band member was violently involved in their music and the solidarity of the original quartet; Steve, Chris, Adam & Nicolai, was phenomenal. They torpedoed through complicated time-signature changes, lifting and lowering the mood like practiced puppeteers. Their new vocalist was strong and gave them a far more accessible sound than I’m used to. I am really, really excited to see their next few shows to watch how this awesome mix of thundering post-core Sleepers awaken.

The Sleepers (photo by Laura McCullagh)

Isochronous are by far my favourite alternate pop-rockers. In fact they’re some of the only really poppy music that I truly love. Their music is well-crafted, their CDs are professionally produced and their extraordinarily moving, powerful compositions are captured beautifully on recordings. If you shut your eyes listening to Isochronous the dark you can feel their music bending the world. Their new album is NO exception. Once again they’ve put out brilliant melodies and sing-a-long friendly lyrics.

Richard gets my vote for best female vocals in South Africa.

Isochronous' Richard (photo by Laura McCullagh)

This gig certainly was part of a well- orchestrated tour. They played the entire album and held people’s attention the majority of the time (which is quite a feat with the long, lovely bars taunting their audience). However, after all the expectations (admittedly it’s partially my own fault) I always seem to build them up in my head so much that their live performances disappoint me. They were tight. They were energetic. But they were also so strategic and structured about their choreographies and interactions that it compromised the genuine feeling of the music. The cheesy poses made me feel like I was watching High-School Musical!

Baring that in mind, their particular commercialised version of alternate music is actually rather good. These are quality musicians who love what they do and if High-School Musical can front a billion-dollar empire, then Isochronous might actually be well on the way to their dream of world domination.

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Infiltrating Idols

 ‘Singing pop is not selling out, not doing music is selling out’

So I decided to audition for Idols. Not Pop Idols… that would be the classier, original, money-fueled version. No. I entered Idols SA from the gorgeous and talent-laden mother-city, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Anyway, it started as an adventure on a whim. Dani heads off at 4 in the morning in a tiny rokkie and my (security-blanket) cowboy boots only to find a place in a queue behind the REALLY keen hundreds that had the idea before me.

Literally four hours later, once all the boredom that waiting around brings subsided and the very oddest of talents emerged, we were let in the big glass (public) doors. Since any hint of pretense had long worn off, the directors shamelessly subjected the (first lot of) thousands to an hour long round of whooping and waving for the ‘judges’ that actually only arrive three days later (unbeknownst to first-timers like myself).

Then from the whooping and cheering in the lobby we were herded like pigs to the slaughter up the escalators… well not quite to the slaughter yet. In fact, we still had a good few hours loafing in a big room on chairs before being numbered and grouped and sent out to meet our first opponent. A little cheesy classic Grease number, ‘Hopelessly devoted to you’ originally by Olivia Newton-John and the enemy was won over with my dazzling inner-diva.
Round 1: DANI-1, Enemy-0
Aaaaand then the reward: Wait around till 5pm to find out that the whole process happens again the next morning. Win.

Day 2 was far more eventful. Ha! 8am start and in a less retarded outfit than before. Still rolling the cowboy boots though… and decidedly UN-daytime makeup! We walked straight in today and got our numbers. Hours passed by like minutes now that you know some people and you’ve kind of built up immunity to waiting around. The energy is hyped. It’s called the director’s cut. Basically there’s a room chockablock with everyone you’ve caught a glimpse of in an Idols shirt. They sit there in a row or two and you stand on a mark and perform. I launched into a powerful rendition of Celine Dion’s ‘I’m your lady.’ Thankfully they either have bad taste in music or were looking for nutjobs or both so that was right up my alley! However, they are apparently anti-pants (a movement I fully endorse in my spare time) and told me to glam-up a bit for tomorrow. Yes, they totally let it slip! Haha. Oh well. If it’s glitter they want it is glitter they’ll get!!

 
 
 The rest of my friends got axed. One from every ten would pass o the television recorded actual audition! First prize? A trip back to the CTICC, glammed up like a hooker, oh I mean Pop-star, at 7am!

Monday. 7am. Dressed in a sequined mini-dress with tarty heels especially bought for the occasion, I slow motion model-walked my entrance, hair-blowing and everything just like you’ll see on TV! (I kid. They totally edit that stuff hahaha but If it looks awesome then I swear I’m just a morning person.)
After some modeling and pimping in front of my fellow fine 50 and some decent jams and REALLY embarrassing footage collection, I got to the front of the telly-line. Eek. I waltzed into the room, mellow on herbal remedies and planted my killer heels firmly on the floor.

“I rocked so hard they all quit their jobs to join my
fanclub” – Flat Out Lie

 
Sadly, I stood there and sang them a pretty song. Randal admitted it was pretty so there! He also noted that I didn’t “feel the song.” It was a no. Danny K said he’d be stupid if he said I couldn’t sing… he’d be right. It was a yes.
Unathi is definitely my biggest fan. She told me to forget IDOLS and hit the Grammy’s baby. So that’s the second yes!! I only needed one more to go to Jo’burg. Gareth. I’m pretty sure he’s dyslexic or something and mixed up ‘Hell-yes-she’s-my-hero-baby’ with ‘no’.

So it was that my 3-day pop career ended before the Golden Ticket. Beaten by a brilliant but bald bassist and a bisexual who as far as I know, isn’t even a musician!! I did score slutty heels through the deal though. Oh, and an offer to do a porno.

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