Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dev Hynes Are Lifelong Lovers For ‘Deadly Valentine’

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Imagine if The Notebook had been recreated as an art film and, instead of being about building houses with your bare hands and climbing Ferris wheels, it was about dressing in all white and running a lot. That’s the premise behind the decade-spanning new video from French-British singer and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In the clip for her song “Deadly Valentine” from her new album Rest, Gainsbourg tell the story of two lifelong lovers who dance and run through their lives together, all while dressed for a wedding, but their life is the wedding because that’s art. For part of the video, Gainsbourg enlisted the help of Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, which means that yes, they danced quite a lot.

“Each video came from personal, resonating ideas,” Gainsbourg explained in a statement. “This song mixes wedding vows with an offbeat tone. I wanted to express the idea of a lifetime engagement; a couple running to church, from childhood to old age, a lifetime path. I asked my friend Dev Hynes if he would play my partner, and he very graciously agreed. It was fun finding our younger and older selves!”

The record will be her first since 2010 and is set for release on November 17.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Chappell Roan’s Stunning Debut EP ‘School Nights’

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Image by Catie Laffoon

 

When you’re from Willard, Missouri, there’s not much chance that a famous music producer is just going to appear suddenly at one of your gigs – no matter you much you believe in what you’re doing. But Chappell Roan is that rarest of Cinderella stories, the small town high school choir girl who happened to post a performance to YouTube that ultimately changed her life.

It didn’t hurt her chances that she has a voice which seems to come from some supernatural or celestial place. And her new EP School Nights, which BlackBook premieres here, is as stunning a debut as we’ve heard in all of 2017. Musically sophisticated yet strikingly vulnerable, tracks like “Meantime” and “Die Young” have an almost hymn-like quality, the latter marked by its soaring strings and stark confessions of emotional uncertainty: “I keep my doubts in the back of my mind.” And “Sugar High” – a haunted, noir-like lament that has an almost David Lynchian essence – proves the range of her songwriting perspicacity.

But it’s perhaps the soulful lead single “Good Hurt” which is most affecting, with its mournful, visceral piano and tormented declarations of, “I should know better.” Indeed, it leaves little doubt of her future greatness. (Though we’ll hold the “next Lorde” proclamations for now.)

“These very personal songs have been tucked away for so long,” she confides. “They’re like my little babies.”

 

You’re just 19 and from a small town in Missouri. How exactly were you “discovered?”

It was pretty much a long shot. I performed locally at coffee shops and tiny venues and posted my performances on YouTube. Another artist, Troye Sivan, saw one of my videos and tweeted about it…and that got me some buzz and attention from a few record labels. Now here I am, still awestruck that this is even happening.

You have a singularly unique singing style. Who are some of your vocal influences?

I love Stevie Nicks and Karen Carpenter, those are my main  influences. I used to try to mimic their voices exactly when I was younger. Stylistically, Lana Del Rey and Lorde inspire so much of my writing and how I move my voice.

There’s certainly a dark thread running through your music. Are the songs a way of working those things out for you?

I write exactly what I feel. When I was writing this EP, I was in a very dark place at the time, and it definitely helped to write and release what I was feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the songs and realize how sad or crazy or alone I used to feel. I am in such a happier place now.

There’s also a bit of a cinematic quality to your songs. Are you influenced by film?

I just recently got into film. I really love film scores and how they’re such an important part of telling a story. I try to write my songs in a way you can visualize the story in your head – I incorporate specific details so you can really see and feel the same things that I do.

Is the School Nights EP a collective reflection of you leading up to this moment? Or is it pointing the way forward?

I feel like The School Nights is a reflection of so many different sides of me. Some parts of it are things that I still have to work on, but others I have let go of and have grown out of. It has taken me a long time to write all of these songs, so I was at various stages in my life. I just hope that it can make someone feel like they’re not crazy for feeling the way they do, and that it’s okay to feel sad or happy, or both at the same time.

How do you feel about it now that it is finished and ready to be released?

To be honest, I’m nervous…but so excited at the same time. I feel pretty vulnerable with [these songs] being released; but I’m so proud, and I know this is just the beginning of what I have been working so hard for. This all feels like such a dream.

(N.B.  She launches an extensive North American tour with Foy Vance in Vancouver on September 27.)

 

Wes Anderson Is Back With New Film ‘Isle of Dogs’

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Prepare to freak. Wes Anderson is back with a new movie that’s about the only thing better than Wes Anderson: dogs. In the Isle of Dogs, Anderson returns to the stop-motion style he used in The Fantastic Mr. Fox and goes in a more science fiction route with a story set in a futuristic Japan.

An outbreak of “dog flu” prompts an evacuation of all dogs in Megasaki City to Trash Island, which gets renamed (you guessed it) the Isle of Dogs. The film will follow 12-year-old pilot Atari Kobayashi, the ward of corrupt Mayor Kobayashi, as he flies off to the Isle of Dogs in search of his bodyguard dog, Spots.

As per usual, Anderson has brought together is whimsical, wild cast of friends for the new film. Isle of Dogs will star Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Tilda Swinton, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance, Bob Balaban, and fucking Yoko Ono.

Isle of Dogs will be out on March 23rd, 2018, which means we have plenty of time to binge watch all of our old Wes Anderson favorites.

 

Miley Cyrus Releases Breakup Track ‘Week Without You’

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Miley Cyrus dropped a new breakup track just in time for you to kick your summer lover to the curb. The single from the new Younger Now album is fittingly called “Week Without You,” and it may have you strumming your imaginary guitar on your fire escape, while you cry and chain smoke.

In the twangy country song, Cyrus sings about spending a week without her lover, which, let’s be real, is probably Liam Hemsworth, considering she co-wrote and co-produced every song on the upcoming record. “I know that I gave you my heart, but you stomped it to the ground,” she sings on the chorus. “And that’s what’s got me wondering what is like to not have you around.”

 

 

The track is the latest in a heavy run of releases from Miley. Last week, she turned her Rainbowland Studios into a BBC Live Lounge set, and performed country versions of “See You Again” and “Party in the U.S.A.”…as well as a cover of the Roberta Flack classic “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Check them all out below.

 

Ezra Koenig Made an Anime Show Starring Jaden Smith

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Who could’ve guessed that in 2017, two alumni of Vampire Weekend would go in two wildly different directions? While Rostam Batmanglij split off from the band to release his solo album Half-Life last week, lead singer Ezra Koenig is…releasing an anime show starring Jaden Smith on Netflix.

Neo Yokio is a new, six-episode series premiering this week that Koenig created, wrote and executive produced, alongside Nick Weidenfeld. It will follow Kaz Kaan, the youngest child in a family of “magistocrats,” or pink-haired demon slayers, that liberated the city of Neo Yokio back in the day. Oh, and Neo Yokio is a futuristic version of New York by way of Tokyo.

Since the show is largely about the problems Kaz faces as one of the city’s most eligible bachelors, and features major first world problems like who he’ll take to a gala at the Met or his heartbreak over getting dumped by his girlfriend, it’s a bit like Gossip Girl but with demons and robot butlers.

The robot butler, by the way, is voiced by Jude Law – as if the premise of the show wasn’t crazy enough. Besides Smith and Law, it also features the voice talents of Susan Sarandon, Tavi Gevinson, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Buscemi and Amandla Stenberg.

How this was made we may never know; but it may be the most millennial-focused anime show of all time, right down to the millennial pink title slide. All the Netflix episodes of Neo Yokio drop on Friday, September 22nd.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Sexy Remix of Honne’s ‘Just Dance’ by Ross From Friends

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On the occasion of their introduction to the world in 2014, Brit electronic duo Honne (James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck) were described by The Telegraph as “destined to re-invent babymaking.” That’s a serious responsibility – once held by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Sade – but they’ve seemed decidedly up for the task.

And now, a year after their debut album Warm on a Cold Night won critical raves, they have a seriously sensual new single,  the unambiguously titled “Just Dance.” Its retro 80s, new-nu-soul charms are immediate and utterly infectious.

“‘Just Dance,’ for us, is a song about losing your inhibitions,” says Clutterbuck. ‘Dance like you are with nobody’ pretty much sums up the feel we wanted for the track – relentlessly energetic and ready to go until the early hours.”

Not that it needed any help. But this fabulous new remix by London producer Ross From Friends (ha ha, clever), which BlackBook premieres here, sexes it up considerably.

(For those who want to groove with Honne in person – and perhaps make a baby or two – they’ll be at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City November 19.)

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Provocative New Bottin Single ‘Perfect Mind’

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We’ve been atwitter with anticipation since premiering Bottin‘s seductive new single “Y-A-M-L” this past June. And now the globetrotting-but-very-Italian DJ-producer-sound*designer is at last ready to tease his new album, I Have What I Gave, which drops October 6 on 2MR.

Naturally, we’re privileged to premiere first single ‘Perfect Mind.’ It is a revealing harbinger of the sort of cinematic retro-futuro-disco that will assure that I Have What I Gave will be one of autumn’s most buzzed about dance albums. Intended as a piece for the late performance artist Chiara Fumai, Bottin instead made the decision to employ vox synths for the proper effect.  And so the finished track flaunts an electronic voice alluringly and thought-provokingly reciting from the ancient Gnostic gospels over a thundering electro beat – a surely once-in-a-lifetime coming together of ancient scripture and 80s Euro club culture.

“It started as a collaboration with my artist friend Chiara Fumai,” Bottin explains, “featuring words from an ancient Greek prayer: ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ found in the Nag Hammadi texts discovered in Egypt in 1945. The words are delivered through various vocal synthesis engines, evoking a feminine spiritual entity discussing the most human of matters and the consequences of giving in to carnal temptation.”

That…and it will make you dance.

 

 

The Coolest European Cities You Don’t Know, Part I

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We’ve been plenty busy in 2017, museum-hopping in Paris, flirting in Rome and clubbing in the Berlin Kreuzberg underground. But cultivated Europhiles that we are, we’re always feeling the call of some of our less-trodden, yet still favorite cities on the Continent.

Nothing beckons us to Europa quite like the turning of autumn, with its exhilaratingly crisp evenings, stylishly scarfed locals, and those transcendently evocative fragrances that fill the air of each city (the latter a particular treat for those forced to breath the noxious fumes of New York and LA every day).

Part I of our sojourn takes us to fashionable Antwerp (Belgium) and sophisticated Maastricht (The Netherlands). Take note, if you’ve yet to fall for the charms of the Benelux, a couple of days in each city will cure you of that straight away.

 

Antwerp

Clockwise from top left, The Jane Restaurant; Antwerp architecture; Hotel Julien; MoMu

 

If fashion has held a central place in your life and you haven’t yet been to Antwerp, you should readily acknowledge a slight tinge of embarrassment. From the Antwerp Six on to today’s new guard of Belgian design, the exalted Royal Academy of Fine Arts continues to turn out some of the most astonishing talent, whose creations can be found in the vanguard boutiques in and around Nationalestraat – where you’ll also stumble upon the hallowed flagships of the likes of Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester. Nearby, as well, is the MoMu, the city’s incomparable fashion museum, which as of December 10 will host Olivier Theyskens, She Walks in Beauty. (Between boutiques, stop in for a de rigueur lunch at Verso Cafe, within the concept shop of the same name.)

Antwerp is also a place of staggering physical beauty, with its gothic-looking Flemish Renaissance cityscape and majestic harbor. The latter is now home to industrial-chic restaurants like Het Pomphuis (in a grandiose former pump house) and the sleek, Michelin-starred ‘t Zilte, on the top floor of the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom).

And speaking of vanguard, the thought-provoking M HKA museum, and independent galleries such as Valerie Traan, Stella Lohaus and Annie Gentils are central to Antwerp’s thriving contemporary art scene. If it’s architecture that sets you atingle, plan a leisurely stroll along the Cogels Osylei, a street in the Zurenborg district where art nouveau, neo-Renaissance, neo-gothic and Tudor-revival styles (amongst others) all come together in a strange but elegant sort of harmony.

Antwerp nightlife, it must be said, is totally bonkers. Start with a glamorous dinner at The Jane, fitted into a stunning 19th Century former chapel; the 13-course prix-fixe menu is €140, but the upstairs bar has much more agreeable prices, and seats you closer to God. Continue on to the extravagant scenes at over-the-top dance clubs like Red & Blue, Publik and Cafe D’Anvers. Expect a significant degree of mind-altering.

Stay

Hotel Julien is a smart, mostly-minimalist guesthouse with an intimate subterranean spa; Hotel Banks is a stylish sleep amidst the best fashion shopping; De Witte Lelie is the joining of three 17th Century townhouses into a place of utterly ethereal beauty (and favored by notable fashion designers).

 

Maastricht

Clockwise from top left, Kruisherenhotel; River Meuse; Stijl boutique; Maastricht streets

 

Famous as the place where in 1992 the modern European Union and the euro were born (the anti-Brexit, if you will), Maastricht is actually a seductive mix of international college town and exquisitely cosmopolitan city. And seriously, nearly everyone seems to have a bloody great sense of style here. With its right and left banks straddling the majestic Meuse River, the ethereal setting might easily have you thinking it can’t possibly all be real.

Wedged almost covertly between Belgium and Germany (Cologne is just 70 km away), history and modernity play very well together in this comely Southern Dutch town. Roman cathedrals bookend narrow 17th Century streets, which are abuzz with urbane cafes, indie fashion boutiques and intimate contemporary art galleries. And to be sure, one of the vigorously recommended activities is just…walking around.

Remarkably, for a relatively small city, Maastricht packs in rather a lot of Michelin stars. Tout a Fait, Beluga loves you, Toine Hermsen, Au Coin des Bons Enfants and the glorious Chateau Neercanne, just outside the center, all boast at least one – and chefs can be wildly experimental. But there are also more bars per capita than even Amsterdam – so a jenever (gin) soaked night on the tiles requires little planning. Still, make sure to hit The Lab for perception-altering cocktails, and Complex for bleeding-edge dance music.

Culture vultures should make time for the architecture and design gallery Bureau Europa, as well as the Bonnefantenmuseum, with its fascinating mix of Italian and Flemish Renaissance and baroque works, and brilliantly curated – Richard Serra, Sol Lewitt, Neo Rauch, Gilbert & George – contemporary collection.

Stay

The Kruisherenhotel (a member of Design Hotels) might literally be the most spectacular hotel in the known universe, fitted as it is into an awe-inspiring, 15th Century former monastery and cathedral; the Beaumont, right on the buzzy Stationsstraat, has minimalist rooms and the chic Harry’s restaurant; Hotel Dis is an artistic 7-room guesthouse with its own gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

BlackBook Interview: Chatting With IAMX About Abstraction, Cultural Paralysis and LA vs. Berlin

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When Chris Corner became IAMX in 2004, it was a way of fulfilling the promise of his band Sneaker Pimps’ 1996 album title prophecy Becoming X. And it’s precisely that level of thoughtful, thought-provoking self-possession that has fueled 13 years of his mind-altering alter-ego – including six studio albums, 19 singles and 20 aesthetically ideological videos.

Album number seven, intriguingly titled Unfall, is released this Friday, September 22. It finds him throwing one of his greatest challenges into his own path: tossing off the yolk of emotional responsibility, to make essentially instrumental music that defines itself by design – without coming off at all cold or detached.

Indeed, first single Little Deaths” is a stunning work of cinematic horrortronica, full of anxiety and haunted by lunatic whispers; “The Noise Cabinet” throws nervous squelches and bleeps and a fractured reggae beat against a lush, almost serenity-inducing backdrop; and “Mirtazapine,” which BlackBook premieres here, reckons antidepressants with jittery video-game-like noises, and lots of sexualized Teutonic tension. It’s genuinely mind-blowing stuff, the work of a musical architect who had ostensibly until now left too many buildings unbuilt.

For fans of his more straightforwardly (we use that term carefully) visceral work, a new “vocal” album – and full band tour – will follow closely behind.

At this pivotal creative moment, we had the singular pleasure of conversing with the enigmatic yet graciously forthcoming musical thespian.

 

 

How much is IAMX the real Chris Corner, and how much is it…

A Hell?

Haha. But maybe a sort of sanctuary of artifice?

It’s definitely not artifice, since whatever I do in that space is very real. It’s almost too deep for me, sometimes. I wouldn’t actually call it a sanctuary.

So there’s not really a line between the two?

That line was blurred a long time ago. I kind of yearn for that line to be back – although it’s been character building. But there are subtleties to the normal everyday Chris Corner that I miss a bit…since I’m so preoccupied with this beast.

You’re not doing this album to any commercial ends, surely. How did you come to decide on it?

It was my way of taking a break from the normal depths – from using music to question humanity and my place in it…you know, the things you go through with art. Instrumental music is a technical project – you can actually create the emotion without having to feel the emotion. It’s a nice respite from the intensity of writing lyrics and being tuned in to the wrongs of the world. I also wanted to see if I could actually do it.

It bears the hallmarks of total artistic freedom. What was influencing you at the time?

Just the idea of abstraction and space, taking my usual palette and deconstructing it into something unexpected.

Yet that seems a carefully edited sonic palette. But then, the people with the best musical tastes are those that reject almost everything.

I don’t listen to music very often. It’s actually exhausting to me to listen to all kinds of music.

Was this a chance for you to be more of a “sound designer”?

To be honest, the hardest work with IAMX is the message. And here the only message is artistic freedom. So yes, sound designing was my first intention.

 

Speaking of message. The world is always in chaos, and your lyrics have addressed so many of humanity’s ills. But in this particularly divisive time, music seems to have slinked away from the fight. 

Culturally, music is just paralyzed. It’s now just this product that’s too ‘consumed’ to have any greater impact.

We wanted art to change the world…

It’s just this huge loop that we’re in. It makes you feel a little helpless – so you focus on the things that you can control. And my themes are a bit too subversive to ever be in the position to politically do anything; but I think you can chip away in the underground. And I’m not fucking interested in Trump supporters – I’m interested in conscientious, interesting human beings.

You live in LA now…

Well, for a morbid artist like myself, it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air. I could have sat around for years in Berlin and written all my dark, introspective music. But I can actually do that here. The place seems like a bit of a contradiction with the music…

But all life is contradiction.

Yes, absolutely.