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———– Writer / Music re-views / inter-views / and my points of view ———– The GROUND Magazine / HungerTV

Month: April, 2014

A Conversation with SAMARIS

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We usually think of Iceland as a magic place, a mysterious island beyond time and space where Nature still runs its course peacefully. It’s true that music coming from Iceland, from Björk to Sigur Rós, is as breathtaking as the islands’ landscapes, but progress and modernity is something that won’t hesitate to step into this fairytale land. This is one the many things The GROUND found out talking with Jófríður Ákadóttir, the enchanting voice behind Samaris. The trio, including clarinet player Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir and electronic producer Þórður Kári Steinþórsson, is set to release their new album Silkidrangar on May 5th, a piece of work where pagan voices collide with minimal electronic bits, creating an alienated space that feels like the perfect place to reconnect with Nature.

Silkidrangar transcends language and symbolism, casting a spell on the listeners who will discover the authenticity of Samaris’ music and their beloved island. Talking about tradition, modernity and the importance of surrealism, Jófríður welcomes us in the glacial yet romantic world of Samaris.

 HOW DID SAMARIS CAME TOGETHER?

Áslaug and I have been friends for a long time, we both attended the same music school and played the clarinet. We were really bored of everyday life so, we started talking about making a band that would do something different. Áslaug knew about Þórður being a producer, they went to the same elementary school, and so we contacted him to explain the idea we had in mind. He was on our same wavelength and this is how we went to the studio in our school. The outcome was this: Samaris. It’s the name of this female character from François Schuiten’s graphic novel called ‘The Walls Of Samaris’

I GUESS THERE MUST BE A GREAT CHEMISTRY AMONG THE THREE OF YOU…

I guess we all have a great chemistry because we are all good friends. I think a lot about the melodies and chords’ structure, basically about the notes and the way they come together. Þórður thinks a lot about the sound and groove we want to give to the music. It is a very interesting process because we get inspirations from very different directions.

ARE THE LYRICS OF YOUR NEW ALBUM STILL BASED ON 19TH CENTURY’S POEMS

Yes, definitely. We kept on using that concept and develop it a little further; it’s very interesting to us because it represents the whole idea of combining everything we love. I love very much folk music and traditional music while Þórður is all about the 90s, house music and electro music. Áslaug brings in the classical elements, from the clarinet and her classical music training, so these combinations become our sound. This is our ground and when we create, we layer on top of it; it’s our inspiration.

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 WHAT ARE THEY ABOUT?

They all have some sort of mysterious feel to them, and they say a lot about Nature. Most of them are from the Romantic era, when poets were allowed to love Nature and had big feelings towards it; they respected Nature and were even scared of it: this is something we do really appreciate. They’re also about the circles of life and love to a certain extent, there’s some kind of love conflicts in a few songs but always in a mysterious way. It is not a direct language, the poetry covers up the meaning so you have to think about what is happening and what are they trying to tell you.

‘SILKIDRANGAR’, THE TITLE OF YOUR ALBUM, MEANS ‘SILK CLIFF‘. WHAT IMAGE DID YOU WANT TO CONVEY?

We wanted to give a very sort of visual title because when you hear it, or at least when you know the translation, you get an image in your mind. You think of something surreal that doesn’t really exist but at the same time it’s very beautiful and it feels distant. All of these sensations can be captured in one word, ‘Silkidrangar’, and it means a lot to us. It’s not even a real word, it’s a put-together word.

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 WHAT DOES INSPIRE YOU VISUALLY?

We have been working a lot with faces for our album covers, the previous one had a face of a baby on it and you couldn’t see his eyes; he’s like a crying baby. It was more of a painting with a surreal feel to it. The cover for this one is not a painting but a combination of thoughts that we put together in a way that you don’t really know what it is. Your brain sort of makes a face out of it and it’s very interesting. It is usually about faces, or dogs or a lion! Anything surreal and symbolic that triggers a reaction. You have to use your imagination, at least to some extent, when you listen to us. We sing in Icelandic after all, and you don’t know what’s happening.

HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED TO SING IN ENGLISH?

We have definitely considered it, we thought it would be fun but we don’t want to translate the lyrics. We would rather create song in English from scratch, so it would be true to itself. I don’t like it when musician write something in one language and then they just translate it; it looses the original idea, so we’d rather work the other way round.

MANY PEOPLE ARE FASCINATED BY ICELAND’S MUSIC AND LANDSCAPES. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS SO APPEALING?

It think it is because people don’t know much about Iceland, it’s a sort of isolated place and most of the people haven’t been there so they have a fairytale idea of what is happening there. I think this is why people are fascinated by Iceland and I personally appreciate that they think about its nature because it is something we have to preserve and protect. I wish everyone would do something to support it and that our music could make people think about this in some way, and make them want to try to protest against some injustices happening right now. Big companies, especially from abroad, often come to build huge factories and the Icelandic government is weak sometimes, because it only thinks about the money. They don’t see that building factories, trying to make energy out of the nature, is actually ruining nature itself. They should protect it because there is only one Iceland in the world, this is the only land we have and we must not destroy it to make money out of it. It is a very special place and it has to be like that forever without declining.

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WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN FOCUS BEHIND THE ALBUM?

We thought about more details for this album and through the sound we wanted to create an experience the whole from the first song to the last. If you listen to the album you have to think about that, you have to think about its context because nothing has been added by chance. There are also more details in the percussion for example, and we used the clarinet to create sounds-capes rather than melodies.

IS THERE ANYONE WHO INSPIRES YOU VOCALLY?

I was very much inspired by Joni Mitchell when I was a kid. I know we don’t sound the same at all but I was inspired by her songwriting. She’s my favorite singer.

THE VIDEO FOR ‘Góða Tungl‘ IS VERY SYMBOLIC, WHAT WAS THE IDEA BEHIND IT?

The idea behind it is what people do when they can’t sleep. It’s about sleeplessness and the song is like an ode to the moon and how it helps and lends its light to those who are tired and suffering. The video builds around that and what happens in darkness, how the creatures of the darkness go into the light. It almost got a sexual feel to it at the end, it gets a bit provocative and I like that.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO TRAVEL THE WORLD COMING FROM SUCH AN UNSPOILED PLACE?

I love traveling, it is good to go to big cities. Reykjavik is so small and when you go abroad, you get the feeling that you belong to a much bigger crowd. Keeping a balance is not easy, we travel a lot, jumping back and forth; the last few months have been a strange way of living. In the future we won’t come back home often, so we will get more out of each journey and each day. Traveling is a healthy and necessary thing for someone who comes from a small society. It feels good being on the road to promote Something you have been having in the make for so long. It’s like having a baby in your stomach and giving birth to it. I guess it’s the same feeling, though I never had a baby before, so I don’t know!

IS FASHION SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR SAMARIS?

We just get inspirations from the internet, we pick a few things that we love and put them on right before the show! Sometimes we make things ourselves and we get help from our designers and visual artists friends. It’s very spontaneous, we don’t have one specific theme we work on, it’s always different time to time.

HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING A FEMALE ARTIST IN TODAY’S MUSIC BUSINESS?

I think it’s good to be a woman, it’s getting better and better. We are reaching this point where men and women will be equal; that’s my hope at least. Pop music culture is all about sexuality and if you are a woman, you should be selling your body along with your voice. Our scene is more liberated, we are free to do what we want without playing with our sexualities I am not saying it is a bad thing to do, there are no problems in showing off your body as long as it comes from yourself. It’s wrong when someone is telling you that you can’t make a music video without wearing a bikini.

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YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM THE ALBUM IS…

My favorite song of the album is the first. I really like the feel so the baseline is my favorite line

 

‘Silkidrangar’ is out May 5th on One Little Indian / Pre-order on iTunes available now

Official Website http://www.samaris.is

 

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The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk / Interview with Curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot

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Read it on HUNGER TV

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Already visited by more than one million people worldwide, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk finally arrives at the Barbican Centre in London. Monsieur Gaultier attended yesterday’s inauguration of the very first exhibition on his oeuvres and after an interview, conducted by Exhibition Curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot, he officially opened the Barbican Art Gallery’s doors to his world, where almost four decades of couture become the very fabric of what a dream is made of. Hunger TV peeked inside the exhibition, featuring stage costumes designed for Madonna and Kylie Minogue, pieces created for the films of Pedro Almodóvar [The Skin I Live In] and Luc Besson [The Fifth Element], and Gaultier’s rich collaborations with renowned photographers such as David LaChapelle, Miles Aldridge, Peter Lindbergh and Herb Ritts. In this

View original post 1,723 more words

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk / Interview with Curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot

Read it on HUNGER TV

jpg1-456x581

Already visited by more than one million people worldwide, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk finally arrives at the Barbican Centre in London. Monsieur Gaultier attended yesterday’s inauguration of the very first exhibition on his oeuvres and after an interview, conducted by Exhibition Curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot, he officially opened the Barbican Art Gallery’s doors to his world, where almost four decades of couture become the very fabric of what a dream is made of. Hunger TV peeked inside the exhibition, featuring stage costumes designed for Madonna and Kylie Minogue, pieces created for the films of Pedro Almodóvar [The Skin I Live In] and Luc Besson [The Fifth Element], and Gaultier’s rich collaborations with renowned photographers such as David LaChapelle, Miles Aldridge, Peter Lindbergh and Herb Ritts. In this magnifique and overwhelming French Revolution of couture, music, sketches and videos, we turned to Mr. Loriot, former model turned curator, who guided us through Gaultiers’ vision and explained how he managed to translate it into a theatrically-staged exhibition.

Instead of a fashion retrospective the exhibition, conceived in 2011 by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is an installation featuring eight thematic sections, from Punk Cancan to The Boudoir and Urban Jungle. “An exhibition is not to be something boring. It has to be alive and my dream” said the French couturier and having Nana on display, his childhood’s teddy bear, allows us to make an intimate connection with his imagination as an enfant, when the self-taught designer used to spontaneously play, and unconsciously create his future. Dressing up Nana in 1957 with colorful punk hairdos and the first prototypes of the cone-bra corsets may look like a game that any creative little boy would play but, unlike the others, le petit Gaultier would grow up to see Nana’s paper conic bra turning into the i-conic bustier Madonna wore during her Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. His fantasies, and creations, became bigger than reality and though he remembers his first show as a catastrophe, the 150 haute couture and prêt-à-porter ensembles showcased at the Barbican are pieces of love and history still impacting culture and society.

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“Making the final selection was the biggest challenge I faced as a curator” tells me Mr. Loriot on Gaultier’s archives. “Plus, the exhibition is traveling but there is something great about it. It’s adapted differently depending on the venue and public. In Madrid there was a section about Spain, focusing on all of Gaultier’s collaborations with Almodóvar for example. We also developed new galleries in the process to show pieces we could not feature before, like the Muses section. It’s very generous from him to lend these pieces for such a long time and share them with the world”. After ten years working as a model Mr. Loriot coordinated the Yoko Ono and John Lennon Bed-In For Peace exhibition in Montreal. When Nathalie Bondil, Chief Curator of the museum, called him to discuss a fashion exhibition, there was only Gaultier on his mind. “He is the only contemporary fashion designer whose influence can be seen in so many different things from furniture to music videos and films. I had an incredible archive to work with, it felt like a dream and it’s fun how people think of him only for Madonna.”

It is important to point out Gaultier’s humble upbringing, marked by the open-minded personalities of his mother and grandmother, and not only because “too much comfort is not good for creativity” but most importantly for his early understanding of women’s shapes, tricks and transformations through clothing. This will provide him with that irreverent vision and sensibility necessary to become the enfant terrible we know. Who else could have broken the rules in the pioneering and established world of Parisian couture if not someone with a cheeky attitude and a big passion? As French couturiers where dictating the rules on how to make a woman look chic, Gaultier redefined this notion and succeeded in showing us that collections inspired by rabbis, gypsies, the exotic Frida Khalo and the sparkling Les Folies-Bergère were indeed très chic.

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The Barbican towers, striped for the occasion with the same Gaultier’s signature motif of the French sailors’ sweaters he wore as a boy, welcomed him to London, a city he took a lot of inspirations from, especially in the early 70s. “Maybe it is because you live on an island that you are not contaminated!” joked Gaultier during the interview, talking about his love affair with London and British subculture. If in France fashion was banal according to him, in England the punk movement and the work of Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren was fun, exciting and an invitation to not be afraid of recreating that same feeling through extravagant mises-en-scène. Multiethnic models of all ages and cultural backgrounds started walking and interacting with the audiences on his catwalk. Denim, tattoos, red afro hairstyles and most of all gender bending became for him elements to glorify during the shows. Whatever was it that society tried to ignore or considered taboo on the sidewalk, Gaultier celebrated it on the catwalk. Differences become beautiful and thanks to him, like-minded and revolutionary personalities could not resist a French style that was finally embracing different types of people. Madonna felt powerful and unashamed to show both her masculinity and femininity and in the exhibition, we also find out that someone well-known for his resistance to mass culture like Kurt Cobain was really wearing Gaultier.

Jean Paul Gaultier Installation

“As you can see, London has so many different influences on the exhibition” continues Mr. Loriot, “he always reinterpreted elements of the pearly queens and kings in his work. It is not only about punk there is also Boy George, Amy Winehouse and David Bowie. London is the city where he first saw the stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1973 and he was obsessed with those red lips on the posters. You can also find his spitting image in the Eurotrash section and it’s absolutely fabulous”.

More than terrible Gaultier is still an ‘enfant’ when it comes to look at the world with no filters. You instantly recognize this attitude in his funny and outspoken persona, or in the way he runs up and down the catwalk after a show with the spontaneity of a child. This is because his intention was not to merely provoke the public but to be a voyeur, inspired by what people see even when sometimes “what we see it’s not real but it’s inspiring as well”. Gaultier’s avant-garde shows remind of the theatrical ones that Alexander McQueen will later put on, but their interpretation of “dramatic” does not translate in the same way. There is a joie de vivre in Gaultier’s world and the colorful dramatisation of his couture is meant to provoke a contagious and liberating feeling in everyone who’s watching. Through his work he effortlessly demands our attention because, as a consumed voyeur, he’s aware of our desire for those women full of character, the seducing tailored silhouettes and the intoxicating colors and designs. In the alternate reality he creates, beauty is like a persuasive burlesque performer who keeps our excitement growing as we forget all inhibitions.

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Mr. Loriot cannot define beauty because there are so many different types. When Gaultier dresses someone like Beth Ditto, who is not necessarily a fashion standard, he presents her in a way that makes her beautiful and it’s true. She has this energy and everyone wants to be around her. It is the same thing when he shows people from different backgrounds and I think it’s very generous to give this opportunity. It almost educates society to see something that is different”.

Visiting the exhibition means facing Gaultier’s aesthetic fixations and inspirations. As you walk through it, encountering Odile Gilbert’s sublime sculptural headdresses and wigs and even talking mannequins, with the help of holograms projected onto their faces, memories emanates through this rebellious and innovative way of making couture. The memory of Fellini’s Satyricon and the Broadway show Nine inspired by his film , where Gaultier was struck by a scene in which actresses wore salmon underwear and corsets. The memory of Jacques Becker’s Falbalas is palpable in the section called Muses, expanded for the Barbican to feature models, musicians and performers that have inspired Gaultier from Frida Khalfa, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss to Erin O’Connor and Dita Von Teese who looked like a butterfly closing his Spring/Summer 2014 show. Religious iconography, corsetry, S&M and trompe l’oeil all dissolve through the different rooms blending in a patchwork of everything but always showing a new precise and distinctive facet of his inspirations.

Jean Paul Gaultier Installation

What does Mr. Loriot wish to all the visitors coming to the Barbican? “I hope they understand that there is a strong social message in Gaultier’s world. The exhibition is also a unique opportunity to see couture up close, you don’t get to do it even if you attend couture shows. Some dresses took 1600 hours of work and when they’re on stage for two minutes you don’t have a direct interaction with them. Every piece of his work still looks so modern and fresh because he broke a lot of taboos and offered through fashion a very open vision of society. Everybody is welcomed in his world and just like Gaultier I’m hungry to discover things I don’t know about.”

13. Jean Paul Gaultier, French Cancan collection

Art should be about being revolutionary and without being a chronological installation, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier is more than a visual journey, it’s a cultural experience through time.”Timeless” is an overused adjective when describing fashion styles and yet when you walk out the Barbican, it will be the first one crossing your mind. Gaultier’s universe is a magical source of inspiration for any creative who, just like him, is looking for true uniqueness in a world where being yourself is still the ultimate form of censorship. When a couture creation triggers a reaction that has got more to do with who we are first, rather than the artistry it took to produce it, then this creation becomes a meaningful work of art that goes beyond time and fashion. Gaultier’s bride closing the Fall/Winter 2013-14 haute couture show, wearing trousers and layers of fluttering tulle on a compass-drawn silhouette, is another provocative reflection and statement on society that continues to inspire [him] and being inspired by his bizarre creativity. “I don’t like dreams or reality. I like when dreams become reality because that is my life”, so don’t be surprised if during your visit you happen to see a little boy, wearing a marinière sweater, running through the exhibition’s rooms holding Nana in his hand.

 

 

‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ runs from 9 April 2014 – 25 August 2014 Barbican Art Gallery.

‘In Conversation: Jean Paul Gaultier’ the legendary and newly appointed International Vogue Editor Suzy Menzkes in an intimate on-stage discussion with fashion’s l’enfant terrible. 15 April 2014 at 7pm – Barbican Hall

Tickets and Events Programme here