*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
7 of my photos of Plastic People, the club that I wrote about here a few weeks back have been published as part of FACTmag‘s Oral History of Plastic People, written by Tom Lea and Nick Wilson (aka Beatnick). Some of the photos had never really been seen before, like the one above and the one of Skepta and Plastician . The feature tells the story of the club from the mouths of a handful of it’s resident DJ’s, staff and promoters including Erol Alkan (Trash), Seiji (Bugz In The Attic / Co-Op), Alexander Nut (Eglo), Jon Rust, Elijah Butterz and others. It’s pretty extensive and well worth a read. Also included are a couple of photos by Alex Nut, like this bizarre one of soulstress Fatima and a DJ with a cartoon snake wrapped around them. On an aside, congrats to FACTmag.com on their slick new redesign! It’s lovely to see my name in the contributors list, alongside some great people. 🙂
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?
Of 2014’s new music, I was particularly taken by Dean Blunt’s album “Black Metal” and The Bug’s “Angel & Devil’s.” Fatima Al Quadiri’s “Asiatisch” album really stuck to the shadows of my brain (particularly Shanzai).
Of the pre 2014, there was lots of CAN, lots of PJ Harvey, some Leonard Cohen and loads of King Krule. There’s something kinda ugly about his voice, which is what I like about it.
I was also, blessed with an introduction to Bwiti music this year.
Of the stuff that sits in-between pre-2014 and 2014, it was Hyperdub’s Next Life + all four of their “Hyperdub 10” compiliations that got me; each offering a unique journey through the Hyperdub soundscape.
Breezy’s parents punk band Lost In Space were a repeat prescription in 2014 and it felt so right to play alongside them at a gig with my own band (our third ever). They’re all 50+ and I can honestly say they kick it harder than many bands 20 years younger than them. Raw, honest energy with the most genuine PUNK spirit I’ve ever felt.
Kate Tempest’s launch of her new album Everybody Down at Brixton’s Hootenanny was also full of energy. It was beautiful watching her look so overwhelmed and surprised by the amount of people that had turned out to see her and her band, in a local haunt that she’s played on a number of occasions to far smaller crowds.
Hosting a couple of Oliver Sudden’s Vintage Fly night’s at Antenna Studios Cafe was great fun. I heard some great tunes and met some brilliant people at both of them, such as Hark1karan Gill, who runs this ultra fresh, positive culture website of the same name.
The Fireflies (Nina Walsh, Franck Alba & Dani Cali) have been a pleasure this year. Poet Joe Duggan joined them on the mic at the Crystal Palace Festival x Antenna Studios programme that I curated in June. I had a another great time at Weatherall’s A Love From Outer Space night just before Christmas, followed up by a session of beautiful music from Bear Phillips and Fireflies’ Franck & Nina and her dog Droogy at their house.
I’m incredibly lucky to know so many talented people and some of them appeared in music documentaries such as Channel 4 and Dazed’s “Music Nation” series. It was insanely refreshing being able to see and hear the story of Garage, Bristol Bass, Jungle and other genres and scenes on mainstream TV, particularly when parts of those stories cross over with your own story.