Category Archives: photography

Why everyone is sad about Plastic People’s closure.

Security

Smiley Security at Plastic People ©GC

Beloved club Plastic People closed down last weekend. The first time I went there was with Mala, sometime in 2004, on a Thursday night for Forward>> – I was trembling with adrenaline as I walked down the stairs and into the basement. There were lots of blokes, some of whom I recognised from Croydon. After some hellos and introductions (probably to Sarah Souljah, among others) and a drink at the bar, I went through the black curtains into the dark chasm of bass and space and became immersed in sound in a way that I’d never been before.

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Crazy D, Plastic People. ©GC

The next few years following that, Forward>> became a regular weekly pilgrimage. I’d come home from work, have some food, get my camera together, get in my Mum’s car, put Rinse on the radio and feel excited from the moment I left the house to the moment I was back in the basement, where a sense of seriousness would then kick in.

Circus ©GC

The Bar at Plastic People ©GC

By the bar, I’d meet and greet (or nod at on the dancefloor) Coki, N-Type and Walsh, Skream, Youngsta, Sarah, Loefah and Pokes, Kode9, Spaceape, Blackdown, Distance, Jamie from Vex’d, the Steppa gang, Scientist, SLT Mob, Cyrus, Crazy D, Youngsta, Benny Ill, D1, Dan Hancox, Bok Bok and Manara, Appleblim, Shackleton, Elemental, Boomnoise, Letty and Tom, Chantelle Fiddy, Melissa Bradshaw, Emma Warren, Hanna and Darkstar, the three DMZ/FWD>> regulars that I called the random trio among others. Pinch would pop in from Bristol and Joe Nice and DQ from the U.S.

Bouncy Crew, ©GC

Bouncy Crew at BASH, Plastic People, ©GC

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One of my pics of Youngsta playing FWD>> at Plastic People.

Youngsta’s dark, solid sets became a staple and the thing I’d most look forward to.  It was at Plastic People that I also first experienced the energy of Grime via Roll Deep & BBK and there that I witnessed the merging of Dubstep & Grime in Skream’s Request Line, which I spoke about in this Guardian piece.  It was at Plastic that I first met Burial and where I started to really get my head around sound, frequencies and their capabilities. I also took a load of photographs there, like the relatively well known image below, often battling with whether to use flash or not.

Skank by GC

“SKANK” FWD>> Dancefloor, as seen in SLANG MAGAZINE, Portugal.

Hand Shake, ©GC

Warrior Queen & The Bug, BASH @ Plastic People, ©GC

Drumzticks ©GC

Drumzofthesouth, Plastic People ©GC

The fact that these memories are all from one Forward>> and Rinse Nights, says a lot about those particular events, bit also about the club itself, which was also hosting other forward thinking nights such as Co-Op and CDR.

Loefah and The Bug’s BASH also happened at Plastic People with guests including Warrior Queen, Nicolette and Ari Up (The Slits). I had the honour of doing the door on one occasion.

Plastic People was an important part of life for a very long time. And it doesn’t matter that it got to a point where I would no longer recognise anyone when I went there (the names above went on to set up their own nights or labels, tour around the world, run record shops and write books). It just meant that the place had become important to a new crowd. Like Croydon’s Black Sheep Bar which sadly closed last year, these venues facilitate honey moons – a particular group go there, love it, make it theirs for a number of years then naturally move on to make space for a new crowd to enjoy a new honeymoon.

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Plastic People, ©GC

Such third places foster community. They also facilitate innovation by allowing people from different places, interests and backgrounds to mesh together to create new ideas, new things.  I’ve read and heard countless tweets and statements over the past few days from producers saying that they would make tunes to play specifically at Plastic People, punters saying they met some of their best mates there and lots of people saying it changed their lives.

SO WHY DID IT SHUT DOWN? According to this article, the management felt it time to move on. Which is hard to accept considering how many other London venues have closed or been under threat of closure. Madame Jojo’s, The Joiner’s Arms, Vibe Bar, Black Sheep Bar, Micro-universes for so many people, ALL GONE.  Fabric nearly closed last year, Ministry of Sound the year before that and currently, there are battles to keep Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street) and The Curzon Cinema alive. The truth is that London is changing rapidly because of development. Cross rail and The Overground have sprung up. On the one hand, Londoners can now get about this country of a city a bit more easily (ironically when the Overground was introduced, I was living abroad and wished it had existed when I was going to Plastic People every week).  On the other hand, more transport links mean more developers who know that areas are attractive to live in if they’re well connected.

“2008 to 2013, 41% of planning applications within a kilometre of a Crossrail station cited the new railway as a justification for the development proceeding, equating to around 53 million square feet of residential, commercial and retail space.” GVA

Expensive flats, offices, shops and posh eating places are springing up where great clubs, pubs and bars used to be (or next to them leading to noise complaints). There’re not attractive to me, nor most of my friends, family and acquaintances. Arts and culture are attractive, interesting, vital and good for the economy, but alas, they don’t seem to be a priority to London’s current mayor; money does. At least we have memories though, right?

 

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2014 part 3: My year in Photographs.

View this collection of photos as a slideshow:

Music House

or as single images on Tumblr.

Documentaries that I contributed to:

London ‘On a Regular’ from Rollo Jackson on Vimeo.


Coki and Mala (Digital Mystikz) Studio 2004
http://johnpeelarchive.com/mala/

2014 part 1: life, death and 10 years of… !!!!!!!!!

10 YEARS OF HYPERDUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Strobes

My favourite label Hyperdub provided me with my favourite live show of the year and one of the only London night’s that I brought my camera to in 2014 (click on image for the gallery). Which was no mean feat as it involved strobes on an otherwise pitch black dark floor. Check out this guy in the centre, blinded. That was all of us in the room. What you can’t see or hear are the high pitched sounds that accompanied this particular part of Dean Blunt’s compelling and heartfelt set. An immense experience.

Spectrum

I’d like to say a big thank you to Hyperdub for a decade of music that is beyond great. The four Hyperdub 10. compilations that came out this year highlight their varied contribution to the sonic landscape, which includes the aforementioned Dean Blunt, Burial, Darkstar, Scratcha DVA, Cooly G, Ikonika, Kode9 and of course, DJ Rashad and Spaceape, both of whom very sadly passed away this year.

Spaceape Polaroid ©GC

While I reflected on Rashad here, I never managed to post a proper tribute to Spaceape. I none the less felt his passing quite deeply and have been reminded repeatedly of his talent, this year. Most recently, it came up while re-watching the punishingly emotional dystopian epic that is Children of Men (watch it!) , which features his and Kode 9’s Backwards Mala’s John Peel Record Box, closes peacefully with his track Sine of The Dub, again produced with Kode9, but this time under Spaceape’s earlier moniker Daddi Gee.

I was lucky enough to hang out and photograph him, in his different guises as well as his regular (happy and incredibly clever) Stephen Gordon self on a number of occasions. His early DMZ sets and his ability to instill a nameless dread over the chasms of Kode9’s music, is a memory deeply embedded in my psyche and undoubtedly, the collective psyche of music lovers worldwide.  Rest in Peace Spaceape aka Steve Gordon.

10 YEARS OF BLACKDOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of the maddest things about Hyperdub’s 10th birthday is that it’s sort of all of our 10th birthdays – all as in everybody that was around on the dancefloors of FWD>> and DMZ 10 years ago.  Ever the torch bearer shining light on the underground, Blackdown also celebrated his 10th birthday this year and wrote a lovely piece to mark it, in which Drumzofthesouth (and the name that Sgt Pokes beset upon me, “Soulsnatch”) got a few mentions. Following the post, there was a nice bit of reminiscing on Twitter between myself, Blackdown, Bok Bok, Dan Hancox and Seckle. All good guys, all involved, all progressing. Bok Bok was on the cover of DJ Mag this year and Hancox published some essential articles about gentrification for Vice. Blackdown himself is forging ahead with success with his label Keysound. Happy Birtday Blackdown.

10 YEARS OF DRUMZOFTHESOUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s funny, that considering that as a photographer and blogger my career is built on sentimentality, I did not manage to get my self together to publicly celebrate 10 YEARS OF DRUMZOFTHESOUTH, which as the story so far goes, “was born in 2004 with Quark and photocopier in Streatham Hill before becoming a blog.”  TRUE STORY. 10 YEARS! Who even knows what Quark is these days? (The above pic is my old bedroom in Norwood where I blogged from). While I’ve been away from the blog a lot, distracted by Trees and crafting stories for FACT among other reputable media, my heart’s still here. I’m still interested in what’s happening underground and even though I often feel old at raves these days, or that I don’t want to take my camera out cos it’s heavy, my ears are still open.

So send me stuff or get in touch if you would like to contribute to drumzofthesouth in 2015, which as it goes will mark 10 years of DMZ (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) And in the meantime, I’ll be posting up a few other bits about 2014, including photos and a “Currently Feelin'” post, which as old Drumz’ readers know, is NOT simply stuff that’s been released recently but stuff that I’ve found and would like to share cos, well, sharing is caring.

Until then, HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR !

In a good place

“If there’s anything we have in life it is a freedom of expression.” – Mala

Click on the image of Mala above to be taken to a video of him digging through John Peel’s archive. It’s a catalyst for a description of Mala’s own journey with music and proves very inspirational. Check out which tune Mala plays to his baby son to soothe him. Check out a collection of my images towards the end of the video. It was nice to be involved in this!! John Peel lives on. x

http://johnpeelarchive.com/mala/

Inside London’s Iconic Mastering Houses: a gallery by Georgina Cook – FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music.

Inside London’s Iconic Mastering Houses: a gallery by Georgina Cook – FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music.

Transition

Here’s a photo documentary I did for FACT about 5 of London’s iconic Mastering Houses. There are more studios that I could’ve visited but we decided to keep it down to five. There is SO much history and so much passion for the craft in each and every one of these studios. My words and photos only touch on a fraction of it. Maybe one day I’ll write more about what I learnt. Here’s a little something in the meantime – there’s a photo of a golden Technics deck in there somewhere that once belonged to Goldie himself.