*MUSIC HISTORY FOR YOUR WALLS* Limited Edition prints – Dubstep & Grime 2004-2005 now available to purchase
I put up a few of my early Dubstep and Grime images on my store to make it easier for people who request prints. They’re all from around 2004-2005, all taken in London on Digital camera – at Plastic People except for the one of the lathe, which was captured at Transition Mastering Studios, on film.
Photography shows the passage of time…
Smoking is now banned in UK clubs; Plastic People is now closed; DMZ, who feature in one of the pictures minus Coki celebrate 10 years this year; Wiley enjoyed big success, retired then broke his retirement; Skepta and Boy Better Know are leading a Grime renaissance – the genre never went anywhere, but it’s seemingly in a new chapter, as highlighted by Skepta and BBK on stage with Kanye West at The Brit Awards earlier this year.
Transition Mastering Studios is still in Forest Hill, still captained by Jason. I visited him last year as part of a photo series about Mastering Houses for FACT – he’s still as busy as ever, still trusted by hundreds of producers and DJ’s to produce weightly, soulful low-end; what HAS changed for him and most of the other studios I visited however, is that engineers are increasingly working alone, without the producer or DJ next to them. Also, bedroom producers are now often trying to master music on their own, with sonically disastrous consequences. It’s the internet age.
As for my work – it’s evolved, as it should; I don’t blog as much and have started working with film (fruits of labour, will ripen soon). I still love anything to with cities, am still moved by London and it’s layers of narratives and history, my work is published frequently and increasingly appears in documentaries; commissions are building up and I enjoy researching new publications to work with, especially print media as it is King. For stills, I use the same digital camera that I have used for a few years, updating it with new lenses- it’s battered to the point where the staff in Jessops were cooing over it last week – too many photographer’s in their opinion are obsessed with the latest technology. More than anything else, I love that people collect my images for their walls, it’s the most satisfying feeling. Lastly, I have a new website… www.georginacook.net
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Since Twitter, Facebook & Tumblr, make it so easy to shout about likes and dislikes, my currently feelin’ posts are fewer and further between, but it’s always nice to gather them all in one place aint it? Also, there’s either an absolute harvest-like glut of good music out there at the moment, or as a result of being back in South London & organising events again, or both, I’m particularly tuned in at the moment.
This one’s dedicated to fellow music blogger Martin Blackdown Clark, cos he used to appreciate my Currently Feelin’ posts AND he’s released a new album called Dasaflex with his partner in Grime, Dusk that I’m definitely feelin’. So much so, that when I received it, it was pumped out very, very loudly in my café, boings and all. Which is great since as the café is part of Antenna Studios, nobody really minds, but also, a bit risky as we’re on a very quite road and Blackdown & Dusk’s edgier tunes such as Hypergrime have the ability to scare our milder-eared neighbours into never returning for a slice of good organic, locally made cake again (I promise, this is not a sneaky way of advertising the café, merely the truth!).
That sad, the LP’s opening track Lonely Moon feat.Farrah is outstanding in it’s beauty and delicacy and would hopefully entice them back again. What I like particularly about this album and funnily enough some other bits and bobs I’ve been listening to recently, is that it sounds very much like a culmination of a good few years spent living in LDN, dancing to various underground genres, absorbing the vibes of the city, so for me it’s full of recognisable sounds, things that remind me of the likes of Wiley and early dazed DMZ, albeit with a heavy dose of House and Techno vibes, something that I’m personally not quite as familiar with but definitely appreciative of
Mala in Cuba and LV’s Sebenza are two more albums that have been pumped out of the café system; the latter of which I hope LV don’t mind me saying, is incredibly sexy and make me want to dance seductively in a club in front of a man that I fancy. Would be quite cool if that man was Okmalumkoolkat actually, who voices eight of the tracks on the album and who I’ve had a distant crush on ever since he got his belly out in the Boomslang video. There are so many good tracks on this album, all of them made even more interesting by the team of South African MCs such as Spoek Mathambo, Ruffest and the aforementioned Okmalumkoolkat, who introduce to my ears, a whole vocabulary of words like the title Sebenza (“work,” in Zulu) and Pantsula (which as this article explains is a type of dress, a cultural expression and a dance).
Mala in Cuba is an incredible album from a consistently solid producer; like most of Mala’s production, it’s both astoundingly deep and really edgy- some of then tunes, like Changuito have got the marching style of many of Mala’s productions, making you wanna bounce and contort your face at the same time others, such as Calle F are sunnier and percussive and are clearly made in Cuba; as Laurent Fintoni described somewhere on t’internet, the whole album is very much South London meets Cuba via Belgium, where Mala currently resides. What’s more, it’s been getting Mala lots of press and attention (my own Mum was happy to see him in the Sunday papers a few months back) which is well deserved, being that he has always kept his music fresh, pioneering and unstuck. Very much looking forward to the Mala in Cuba Live event in November:
Other Current Feelin’s come from acts that have or are due to play at the Café Thing @ Antenna Studios; putting on a fortnightly live music event takes quite a bit of research, being that we’re striving to offer original music from musicians who may not normally play in Palace. There is of course, an element of luck and synergy involved in finding acts to play, Cloudier Skies who played our 3rd Café Session for example, did so because one half of the duo, David, came in for a coffee one day and gave me their Sound Cloud link. Their live set, surpassed all expectations and was, for a number of reasons, my favourite act to play a session thus far.
This Saturday’s (6th October) Jono McCleery gig, came about also, slightly through chance, myself and The Antenna crew bumped into him at a party; I’ve since been listening to his tunes a lot, trying to work out exactly which one is my favourite and trying to pin his style down so that I can write about it correctly. I haven’t managed to do so and I’m still undecided. Sometimes it’s Stand Proud, sometimes Gymnopedist and sometimes Tomorrow (above), the album version of which has an almost celestial introduction.
Quadron are on the list because, I had the privilege of seeing them live at The Jazz Café last week; where Coco (the singer) performed an outstandingly beautiful acappella that had us all on the verge of tears before launching into the gorgeous motown sounding Pressure, lifting the whole audience up into a whoop of relief.
And last but not least, of the music that I’m currently feelin’ are South Londoners Yola Fatoush whose music and website are ridiculously interesting and ever so mysterious and Chet Baker, who I’ve never otherwise listened to before and whose voice is compellingly spooky. The contrast between his singing style and the lyrics of the song, My Funny Valentine (above), absolutely kills me.
10 years of life-changing music. That’s not an understatement is it? You remember the first time you walked down those steps into the Plastic People basement don’t you? Adrenaline pumped? I was. Through the curtain into the infinite darkness, nothing but a DJ lit by a red light and an almighty sound-system. I have many good memories of my personal honey-moon with FWD>> many of them Youngsta related and shrouded in smoke. Big up the FWD>> crew. See you Saturday.