This year’s Lollapalooza will bring together pop princesses (Lorde), dance-goth overlords (The xx), alt-rockers (The Killers, Phantogram), Britpoppers (Liam Gallagher), hipster godheads (Arcade Fire) and hip-hop innovators (Chance the Rapper, Run the Jewels).
Dance geeks were not unconsidered: Justice, Kaskade and Crystal Castles (minus Alice Glass) are all on the bill. As are veteran singer-songwriters (Ryan Adams) and buzzworthy newcomers (Rag’n’Bone Man).
In its 13th year in Chicago, the unstoppable festival will take place August 3-6 in its usual Grant Park locale.
Where to Stay
The Virgin Hotel is just blocks from the festival grounds, and draws a steady parade of mediarati and musicians – who can be found schmoozing it up in the hotel’s super hip Commons Club.
“I will swallow my pride/ What will be will be/ When you roll over at night/ Tell me what you see/ That empty pillow by your side/ That could have been me/ That could have been me,” our favorite Swedish songstress croons on her second new song this week, “That Could Have Been Me,” produced by the legendary Todd Rundgren.
If our prayers are being answered, two new Robyn tracks in one week is indicative of a forthcoming larger album, though there’s been no confirmation of such dreams.
The sorrowful new heartbreak anthem is currently streaming exclusively on Pitchfork, and is well worth the listen.
“That Could Have Been Me” is featured on Rundgren’s new LP, White Knight. It follows in the wake of Robyn’s “Honey,” which debuted on “Girls” Sunday night.
LPX has just released her first music video as a solo artist – for the alt-pop anthem “Tightrope,” an angsty, ferocious track described by Billboardas “a left field pop gem that blasts with fuzzed-out energy and emotion, recalling the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Klaxons, and The Strokes.”
The video sees Lizzy Plapinger, previously known as the frontwoman of MS MR, thrashing about in red couture in a strange, dark, interdimensional space filled with strobe lights and twitching.
“This song is about wrestling with the dizzying highs and lows of throwing oneself wholly with heart, body and mind, towards a risk,” Plapinger said in a statement. “For the video I wanted to explore translating that internal battle into a physical one while highlighting the intensity and frenetic energy of the song. The video draws inspiration from artists Hito Steyerl and Norman McLaren as well as the 1948 film The Red Shoes and the ‘Imagination’ routine in Flashdance.”
The video is directed by Mafalda Millies and choreographed by Karole Armitage, who’s previously worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Madonna. Check it out below:
Nicki Minaj beat out Aretha Franklin to take over the title of most Hot 100-charting songs for a female artist in Billboardhistory. Franklin previously held the record with 73 Hot 100 songs, and has had the title since 1977. But after dropping her trio of new tracks, “No Frauds,” “Regret In Your Tears,” and “Changed It,” Minaj sits atop the throne with a whopping 76.
Of all acts in music history, the one with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits is the cast of Glee, with 205. Minaj now sits 9th overall, behind her frequent collaborators Lil Wayne, with 135, and Drake, with 133.
Nicki took to Instagram after learning of the new to offer some truly iconic content:
If the term “supermodel” still has any cultural capital, Karen Elson surely would be counted amongst that extremely elite group – with her striking countenance gracing so many magazine covers and advertising campaigns these last two decades as to make her instantly recognizable. But in truth, she’s just a kid from Manchester with a big heart, a remarkably disarming outward warmth, and a great deal of music in her soul that needs to get out.
You know the big public story. She married rock god Jack White in 2005, they had two children together, and then divorced in 2013. In between, she launched a music career with the gorgeously stylized 2010 album The Ghost Who Walks – and with hubbie Jack at the production controls.
But the tumult of the split had left her at once unable to summon her creative muse, yet also determined to tell the new story of Karen Elson. That story has at last arrived in the form of the stunningly visceral new album Double Roses, out April 17.
For the job, she gathered an incredible collection of accomplices (Laura Marling, Pat Sansone of Wilco, Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers, producer Jonathan Wilson), and the result is a record that is as musically accomplished – “Call Your Name” recalls Fleetwood Mac at their best – as it is courageously and movingly soul-baring. One need only to listen to stirring lead single “Distant Shore” to understand what a deeply cathartic experience it must have been for her.
We caught up with her for a remarkably honest and revealing conversation.
The last record was a bit more “storytelling.” This is a much more personal album?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, it’s been seven years since I made a record. The elephant in the room is that I got a divorce. That obviously shifts your perspective.
Well, you’re suddenly split in two…
It’s something very personal; and when you’re in the worlds that Jack and I are in…you’re thrust into the public spotlight. And I felt very protective of myself, I didn’t want people asking me questions. Now all that is somewhat in the distance.
And sometimes you just need time ponder things.
There’s absolute truth in that. But not just regarding my divorce – there were so many things in a state of turmoil in my life. So I had to step back to be able to reflect upon myself and upon my choices.
That brought you to making this record?
I knew I needed to crack into the vulnerability. During the writing, on any given day, I didn’t know if I was going to be “wild and stormy oceans” or a “calm sea.” When I tried to mask my feelings of insecurity, the songs would kind of suck. When I embraced the vulnerability within the writing process, there was something that was way more connected. I got real with myself, and dug into that deep, intricate part of myself.
Some of the lyrics are very honest and vulnerable…and melancholy. You write, “Hey love, it’s the end of an era” – but also, “I am alone / I am free.” Did writing and recording these songs help bring you to a new sense of emotional freedom?
Well, the songs were written over a long period of time, there’s a sort of arc of these turbulent times in my life. A lot of people focus on this being a breakup record; yet there are a lot of other life experiences that color it. But those are not the ones mentioned in the tabloids.
The public wants...
Well, I don’t think I know anybody who’s been through a divorce and said, “That was so fun!” Me and Jack are friends and he’s a wonderful father. But it doesn’t negate that there is real pain and emotional upheaval.
Did you find that you’ve discovered who is Karen Elson is now?
Yeah, definitely! Well, first, I’m a complete and utter daydreamer…
Gee, who would have guessed that about you?
But I do feel a lot more stable than I did a decade ago.
The music seems less stylized on this album, more complex.
I worked really hard on the songs – on the lyrics and on the music. With my first record I was still figuring it out. At that time I was married to such a formidable musician, and always in the back of my head I felt people were thinking that Jack actually wrote all the songs.
But you’ve noticeably moved on from his particular influence.
With this one, I wanted to show myself, I was tired of hiding behind this veneer, being so many women but myself – even as a model. I was also going through an identity crisis, reconfiguring who I am. What I needed in my life to feel vital was to strip myself of all the things that have been put upon me.
Well, modeling is about hiding behind a façade, of course.
And as a model, the fun of it is that I get to go to work, dress up, and become this character for a day – and have my photograph taken. Yet slowly but surely it sinks into your psyche. I started wondering, “Who the hell am I?” I’m not this person in the magazine, but I’m also not the illusion that I was painting on stage. I had this intense desire to simply just be myself. And maybe because of my unique circumstances, weirdly, just being myself was very difficult to accomplish.
The album artwork sort of reflects that. Like you’re trying to emerge from a dark place…
That was me and a friend swimming in the ocean. I was really going through a dark time, it felt sort of hopeless. She just snapped the picture; and I look at it now and I can see all of that in my face. That’s the accurate description of this record, cast out to the stormy sea and trying to find my way back to the calm shore. But I’m no damsel in distress!
How do you balance the worlds of music and fashion?
It’s a strange world, the music business. But then I’ve never even sussed out the fashion business really. As a model, you can have a million people telling you how to look, how to act, how to be. But I’ve not had a normal career at all. I don’t go to fashion parties, I don’t hang out on the scene. I don’t even follow fashion – I don’t look in fashion magazines to follow trends. I have always been a bit of an outsider. I don’t want to be front and center, I want to be on the periphery.
Is that partly due to coming from Manchester?
I have no idea! I think it’s just my personality, at once an extrovert and an introvert. I’ve always been a little bit of a mystery to myself. Duality is a lot my life, I’m a twin. And my twin sister is my best friend.
You’re much more vulnerable making music, of course.
I have worked with amazing photographers, who have this uncanny way of seeing into your soul with a picture. But standing up on stage is so much more vulnerable, yes. Whereas a photograph is just an image of you.
One profession is about holding back emotion, and the other is about diving down into the depths of your emotions.
There’s been so much emphasis on the way I look. But I don’t really like that. I don’t look in the mirror and go, “Oh, look at me, I’m a model!” It’s not to dis the fashion industry, I love the people that I work with. But it is a mindfuck to be put on a pedestal for how you look. Especially when how you looked was what made you miserable as a kid, because everyone fucking tortured you for it. And it also isn’t a real reflection of who you are fundamentally.
But this record certainly is.
Yes, and I’ve come out of it a lot stronger and more hopeful. This record is about being who I am, and standing up for who I am.
The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the true story of a Polish couple who housed Jews in the Warsaw Zoo during the Holocaust, and were able to save the lives of more than 300 from the Warsaw Ghetto. The heartbreaking movie stars Jessica Chastain in the unforgettable role of Antonina Żabińska, and is directed by Niki Caro.
The movie is unique in it’s feminine perspective on a grueling war saga, and thanks to it’s inclusion of many wild animal actors: Chastain’s roster of scene partners include real tigers, elephants, camels, polar bears, skunks, and lions. Interestingly enough, the film, set in the early to mid twentieth century, feels alarmingly modern.
“Well, the world’s changed,” said Caro when asked about the film’s relevancy. “Seven years ago, when I became involved in this movie, I thought I was developing a historical drama. As it happens, we have made a contemporary film.”
Take a look at our exclusive BlackBook interview with the film’s star and director below.
His streak as producer and writer has been impressive, to put it mildly. Platinum singles for Jason Derulo, Pitbull and Fifth Harmony; recent projects with Meghan Trainor and Phantogram; and an upcoming collaboration with Kesha. The apparently very busy Ricky Reed also fronts the Oakland-based act Wallpaper, who have become noted for their cheeky parodying of the vagaries of pop music.
This year he added “Grammy nominee” to his CV. So we can add him confidently to the “ones to watch” list.
But despite his pranksterish history, he plays is pretty straight with the alluring, almost ethereal new solo single “Joan of Arc,” released this month (and co-written by Charli XCX, Mark Foster and James Fauntleroy). The dreamlike song, with its gossamer guitars and languid beat, is exuberant and restrained at once, with a catchy chorus full of clever wordplay (“Dress me in your coat of arms / I will be your Joan of Arc”).
Its attendant video shows him strolling pensively through the woods, before encountering a random cadre of dancing accomplices. If only life could be so.
Art and commerce seamlessly merge in the work of New York-based Australian artist CJ Hendry; indeed her latest work was created in collaboration with legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin.
The fittingly titled Complimentary Colors debuts March 21st at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery at the Fringe Club in Hong Kong, Hendry’s first time showing in Asia. The artist’s fascination with material and pop culture has previously translated into her signature large scale, photorealistic black-and-white drawings of consumer goods. But this time around she’s turned her focus to an unmitigated celebration of color.
Specifically highlighting the color red as an homage to the iconic Louboutin soles, Hendry’s meticulously rendered, mesmerizing wax pencil drawings of thick oil paint dazzle in their vividness.
“I find drawing very intimate, as opposed to other mediums,” Hendry explains. “Drawing allows you to get very close to your craft; and I can reach that new level of detail in each piece. Pencils are very different from my usual medium: ink.” The artist by her own admission has OCD, so messy oil paints were actually never really a reasonable option.
Christian Louboutin by Paolo Ferrarini
Cj Henry by Matthew Kelly
This isn’t the first time she’s been inspired by Louboutin’s designs. Her series The Trophy Room in 2016 (her debut New York show) featured a So Kate heel dipped in bronze, before becoming the focus of one of her ink sketches; it was that work that caught the attention of Louboutin. Noting the obvious synergy between the two, he gushes, “There is something I love in her work that is very playful; and you can feel the artisanship.”
Since 2013 Louboutin has chosen the week of Art Basel Hong Kong to showcase emerging artistic talent. Hendry enthuses, “[Louboutin] is a force whose work I’ve admired for many years. For me, the brand represents what it is to be a strong female – they started with and maintain such a strong product: a high heel. I also love how colorful and playful they are, something I find really engaging. And I appreciate that they are willing to support a young artist like myself.”
Thoughtfully, she stops to reflect and shed light on her apparent obsession with brands: “I don’t think it was intentional to start. It was something that came from a very true place of where I was at the time. I’m interested to see where this new direction will take me.” And so are we.
Last night’s episode of “Girls” delivered us more than reactions to Hannah’s pregnancy and clips from Adam and Jessa’s god-awful movie: we also got to hear the dulcet and much-needed tones of a new Robyn song. “Honey” (the song’s title, according to Shazam) plays as the episode, titled “Full Disclosure,” comes to an end, and has already been ripped from HBO Go and posted to SoundCloud, with minimal dialogue from the episode still present.
“Honey” marks the first new piece of Robyn music since last year’s RMX/RBN, a remix album reworking some of the artist’s biggest hits. Here’s to praying the single is part of a larger new record!
The Swedish songstress had teased that something fun might be coming on last night’s “Girls” in a Facebook post and corresponding fun little photo shoot: