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Monday, 29 October 2012 00:54

Music and politics in Western Ukraine

A man with a rather large bushy grey moustache plonked three glasses of thin brackish coffee down on the fold-away table of our railway carriage and demanded 12 hryvnia (around 1 euro). It wasn't so much the clink and crash of the glasses as they hit the table which surprised us the most, but rather the hard look on the man's face as his arm swung round releasing the cups, almost throwing them down, and the way he spoke as he asked for the money: short and succinct, to the point. There was no question of not paying, despite grimacing as we reluctantly swallowed the hot watery liquid.

Respublica festival

We are on our way by train from Lviv to Khmelnytskyi in Western Ukraine, and then by minibus to Kamianets-Podilskyi, where we have been invited to play on the AZH Promo Stage at the Respublica festival, located in the Khmelnytskyi Oblast near the border with Moldova and Romania. We, consists of the three members of the band Grace Beneath the Pines as well as Ivanna Cherukha from AZH Promo who is acting as our guide and interpreter. The festival was advertising itself as &quot;an anti-commercial festival action whose aim is the concentration of attention on cultural and social problems of small cities, as well as in the country in general.&quot;

The organisers were also encouraging festival-goers to throw away their televisions by stating on the events page of their website: &quot;Throw away your TV – get a ticket for the festival! TVs are useless idiot boxes. So get rid of them now! The first 15 people who bring their TVs to the daylight stage will get a free ticket for the festival. Others will be able to buy them with a 50 % discount.&quot; Other social projects were also advertised as taking place including an eco-action &quot;to clean up the trash from the canyon of the River Smotrych ... [which] will become a bright example for the residents of Kamianets-Podilskyi and the younger generation.&quot;

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 06:58

Gavras taps into the poetics of protest

The recent protests, and especially those of the Occupy movements in numerous American and European cities, have gained a vast presence in the media and in many cases popularised radical alternatives to the current democratic system. This process brought back situationist initiatives such as the 90's "Reclaim the Streets" that were envisioned as a model for the contemporary manifestations. Along with the protesters' demands came symbols of civil disobedience, such as Guy Fawkes masks, a human microphone, tents in a cityscape, or the calls simply to "occupy everything." The last of these didn't just remain in the symbolic sphere. Patterns of communication and cooperation that were adopted in the occupied spaces effectively appealed to the public imagination and thus formed a "poetics of protest."

Tapping into the feel of these movements, Jay-Z and Kanye West released a video for their song "No Church In The Wild" last May. The video was directed by a young Greek, Romain Gavras, who is known for his violent yet elegant aesthetics, a coldly tinted imagery and daring narrative themes. This time, Gavras had a go at the spectacle of a riot scene.

The video quite clearly strikes the viewer as glamorous. When a protester lights up a Molotov cocktail in the opening sequence, it is difficult to resist an association with French New Wave cinema chic. On a fiercer note, for Salon's Natasha Lennard the video is unmistakably "riot porn," "capturing particularly dramatic riot scenes - the sort with fire, tear gas, charging police horses, careening masked crowds and, often, a hardcore backing track." "Riot porn" might also earn its name because it shows scenes of passion staged especially for the camera. Indeed, the video's striking beauty is disturbing and alarming when we realise the familiarity of the images and our consent to watching them paired with some rather decadent rap.

Jay Z & Kanye West "No church in the wild" (dir. ROMAIN-GAVRAS, available on Vimeo.)

Published in Cafe Cinema

They seem to fit the stereotype perfectly. Loose-fitting t-shirts, lots of tattoos and the attitude to go with it. Mund de Carlo, also known as Carlos Demsitz, is a hip hopper, alright. But he's more than that - he's a business man with a love for his music that has driven him to explore new ways of using his potential and skills.

Freestyling: Something about your mum, and something about your genitals

interviweing_mund_de_carlo
Juliane (E&M) interviewing Mund de Carlo

I meet Mund de Carlo right after his performance at the Skate Scene at Roskilde Festival, where he participated in the Rap Battles - something between a poetry slam, a freestyle rap battle and a more regular performance. The rappers have prepared verses meant to diss their competition, but they rap without a beat and rely on the audience's good will to keep them in the tournament. It's a rough environment where you can't take offense when the weight of your mother or the size of your private parts are being used as lyrical weapon. I asked Mund de Carlo why the style of the freestyle battles is always like this, and he explained: "You have to think on your feet and while you are rapping one line, you need to come up with the next. At the same time, you want to please the audience, so the language gets rough sometimes because that's what comes to mind when you have to think that fast."

Published in Wired in
Monday, 09 July 2012 08:53

Roskilde Festival: The warm-up days

It's one thing to submit yourself to living in a tent in a dirty field for four days because it gives you access to your favourite music. But what's the deal with people voluntarily going to a festival up to five whole days before the music even starts? What's the appeal of the warm-up days at Roskilde Festival? Juliane Dybkjær investigates.

It's like everyday life... Turned upside down

atmosphere_camping_site

The tents are crammed together in small squares, surrounding pavillions under which young people from all over Europe gather to listen to music on their stereos. Some are munching on a sandwich they just bought, some are eating tinned food to keep their spending down, and almost all of them seem to have a beer permanently attached to their right hand. At first glance, the living arrangements seem special to say the least. But after a few days in the slum, as the camping area is affectionately called by the festival-goers, I begin to see a pattern emerging. People are living their everyday life here on the campsite - with a few key differences.

Saturday, 24 March 2012 14:01

How I didn't make it big in Ukraine

Hayden Berry is Assistant Editor at New Eastern Europe and a Krakow-based musician. He recently played a few concerts in Eastern Europe. This is his personal account of his misadventure in Kyiv and how he missed his one shot at hitting the Ukrainian big time, originally published in New Eastern Europe.

On February 9th 2012, I flew into an icy Boryspil International Airport with my partner and a couple of friends. Poland had recently been experiencing sub-zero temperatures of between minus 15 to 20 degrees centigrade, and the news out of Ukraine, in which over 150 people had died as a result of exposure to extreme temperatures, had warned us to expect worse. As the plane touched down, the stewardess informed us that it was, indeed, minus 25 degrees centigrade and the passengers started the all too familiar ritual of putting on their hats, coats and gloves before disembarking onto the airport bus. The roads out of the airport were edged with billboards advertising EURO 2012 designed to hide the construction of the new VIP facility referred to as Boryspil 2, still as yet unfinished.

In the footsteps of Les Kurbas

We were in Kyiv to perform two weekend concerts at the Les Kurbas State Centre for Theatre Arts at the invitation of our hosts, a group of young people who organise concerts under the name AZH Promo, and the Polish Institute in Kyiv who provided funding for the event. Les Kurbas had been one of the most influential Ukrainian theatre directors of the 20th century until he was sent to Solovki labour camp and eventually shot on the direct order of Joseph Stalin in the forests of Sandarmokh. The theatre named after Les Kurbas is off the main street opposite the golden spires of the Saint Sophia Cathedral on Volodymyrs’ka Street and pays tribute to the man many claimed a genius. The theatre website ambitiously states that the centre aims to &quot;to provoke experimentation and to create globally-constructive models for theatre as a builder of a national spiritual environment,&quot; followed by a hope for the future: &quot;The intellectual thought of new Ukraine and its culturology and art research, should reintegrate themselves into the European and world contexts from which they have been separated for well-known historical reasons.&quot;

Published in Reader Submissions
Friday, 24 February 2012 11:56

Wired in #29: Message To Bears

Message to Bears is a one man band from Bristol, UK with music that can make you sentimental and dreamy, or just happy and at peace. Jerome Alexander, the talented multi-instrumentalist behind Message to Bears, just released his latest album "Folding Leaves". Read on to find out why messages from strangers can be important for song writing and, of course, where you can see a Message to Bears gig soon.

E&M: Your latest album was just released. What was the most exciting part of the creation of this record?

JA: The most exciting part for me was probably whenever a new track came out of nowhere after a period of writer's block, or when I tried one simple new idea (sometimes by accident) that completely changed a song for the better.

E&M: Being a one man band, I imagine it takes a while to put together and conceptualise the different audio tracks that go into a song. Do you have a clear idea of the outcome when you sit down at the start?

Published in Wired in
Sunday, 20 February 2011 09:30

Musica franca?

&quot;The Role of Music in Building the EU&quot; is a title that promises a lot.

Erna Hennicot-Schoepges’ lecture &quot;The language of art and music&quot; doesn’t keep it. In fact the 69 year old pianist, educated in Brussels, Paris, Salzburg and Luxembourg, knows both sides: from 1999–2004 she was minister of culture, higher education, research and public works in Luxembourg, and then worked as a member of the European Parliament (2004-9). But in her speech the good and noble ideals suffer from insufficient and biased argumentation.

Yes! – music is a wonderful thing. Yes! - there is scientific proof that music, more directly than other forms of arts or communication, affects the brain’s emotional centre. Yes! - there have been studies in Berlin elementary schools suggesting a positive correlation between instrumental music education, intelligence and social competence. And of course one cannot appreciate enough a highly decorated (retired) politician vouching not only for better music education in general, but also for the delicate imparting of contemporary classical music. But does that really suffice to emphatically declare music is a language that all mankind understands, all mankind is unified by and that it is the language that a multilingual and fragmented EU can be built on?

Friday, 11 February 2011 10:29

Two ways to change E&M, Express yourself!

E&M is about making Europe more personal and we want our new Sixth Sense to be about YOU! That’s why we’re giving you two exciting opportunities to express yourself on our pages. With just one email you can paint our site with your own colour and sound.

OPTION 1. 'IMAGES OF EUROPE'

We want to know what your corner of Europe looks like: Where is home? What’s your favourite view? Where’s the most stunning place you’ve visited? Share your images of Europe and be a part of our forthcoming interactive map of the continent.

There are only two rules; it has to be your own work, and it has to be truly unique. (some ideas: It could be a village scene, unique graffiti, fields, monuments, A painting, A photo, anything you can only find there… etc.) ~ And feel free to send more than one!

OPTION 2. 'THE TRANSNATIONAL MUSIC BLOG' 

Rike Maier is setting up a weekly music blog exclusively for readers of E&M. Our aim is to cover unheard acts from across Europe. That’s where you come in: do you have a favourite local band that no one has heard about, or are your friends playing small venues for no money? All styles welcome, so send us their website/details and we’ll interview them and feature their music!

(Please supply: First name, age, and city/country with all submissions (so we can thank you for it!) and in option 1 a few sentences on what/where your ‘image’ is -  and send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

E&M relies upon your inspiration, so show us what Europe means to you!

The E&M Editors x

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