BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Lady Rizo’s Retro-Cool New Single ‘Hit of You’

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Image by Bruce Dean Lindstrom

 

The NY Times described the Lady Rizo stage show as a “…fierce but kindhearted fusion of comedy, burlesque, performance art and rock ’n’ roll.” What’s not to love?

Having veritably invented “caburlesque” with her 2005 show Lady Rizo & the Assettes, she went on to earn a 2010 Grammy for a collab with, of all people, Yo Yo Ma. Now, in advance of the release of her second album, she’s got a quite fabulous new single, “Hit of You,” which BlackBook premieres here.

Never one to record the obvious, the song comes off like Queen’s “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon,” as produced by Sgt. Pepper era George Martin, and performed in 1930s Weimar. Got that?

She elaborates, “It’s about the feeling of euphoria that you associate with the best lover or a really great audience. [It features a] Lewis Carroll pitter-patter rap, and feels like falling down a rabbit hole.”

Totally.

The follow up to her 2013 debut album Violet will be released this August 18. And it’s fittingly titled Indigo – which is known to be the color of perception and intuition.

“It’s like a tour of a grand old house,” she says of the album, “Every song is a different room.”

We can’t wait to get lost in it.

N.B. Following a three-week run at the Soho Theatre in London, she’ll be back in NYC for a trio of dates at Joe’s Pub.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Haunting New Sam Valdez Track ‘Hours’

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LA indie-folk songstress Sam Valdez is going to be breaking a lot of hearts. Indeed, her enigmatic presence and almost gossamer vocal delivery make it almost impossible not to find oneself immediately captivated by her.

To wit, the stunning, haunted ballad “Hours,” which BlackBook premieres here. Evocative lines like “My head’s on your chest / With your lit cigarette” and “Now we’re lost in a perfect haze at midnight” convey a sort of together-but-lonely emotional desolation. And with its bluesy but lush, neo-noir musical backdrop, it recalls the likes of Lana Del Rey, Leonard Cohen and (David Lynch muse) Chrysta Bell.

“This song is about the hold loss can have on us,” Valdez opens up, “while simultaneously being in love with someone who shares a similar experience. I wanted ‘Hours’ to convey the feeling of being aware of pain and the dependencies it can create, and learning to just give into it sometimes and then let it go.”

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until early 2018 for the release of her debut EP. But we’re quite sure we’ll be hearing more from this striking young talent in the meantime.

 

A HiFi Sean Guide to Musical Glasgow + New Crystal Waters Collab ‘Testify’

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Image by Gavin Mills
As singer of the late, great Scottish band The Soup Dragons, Sean Dickson was living high in the early 90s. Their dance-ified cover of The Rolling Stones’ “I’m Free” became a massive hit on both sides of the pond – followed by yet another chart topper, the impossibly groovy “Divine Thing.”
The group disbanded in 1995. Dickson fell in love with New York club sounds at that time – but went through a difficult period personally. Having come out, and being married and a father, he busied himself with DJing, but made no new music for some fifteen years.
A timely revelation led him to eventually hooking up with Crystal Waters – whose 1991 single “Gypsy Woman” also made her a big star – and producing the exuberant hit “Testify” under the moniker HiFi Sean. Its success has shot him straight back into the musical spotlight. He released a 2016 album, Ft., and is now ready to reconquer America – with the Testify! Remixes collection just out this week.
A Glasgow lad, we caught up with him for a chat, and also asked him to turn us on to his fave spots in Scotland’s hippest city.

You were out of music for quite awhile. What inspired you to come back as HiFi Sean?

I lost confidence in myself after a few major personal issues. So I fell back on what I have always loved doing, sharing music with others by DJng and running club nights. Eventually, I realized that a long period of time had passed and it was time for me to start making records again. I decided to go the collaborative route for my first solo album, Ft.  Working with artists whose music I loved allowed me to regain artistic confidence.

Coming out had actually sent you into something of a spiral?   

Yes, I had a nervous breakdown. To some it’s all rainbow flags and unicorns to come out, and for others, not so much. There wasn’t much of a support network for married men with children to help explain what I was feeling and experiencing.   

 

How did you come to work with Crystal Waters? She’s still a big deal in the house music scene, no?

Crystal has ten #1 Billboard dance hits to her name, including last year’s “Believe,” a collaboration featuring Sted-E and Hybrid Heights.  I love her voice and she’s someone with whom I’ve always wanted to work.  My buddy, DJ Ralphi Rosario, connected Crystal and myself.

Are you still DJing around the European dance scene, the big Ibiza clubs and such?

At the start of this month, Crystal and I played Ministry of Sound in London and Glitterbox in Ibiza.  So much fun and the crowds went mad. 

U2 is playing “Testify” before each show on their Joshua Tree tour. Do you know them personally? 

No, I don’t. I think they discovered the track because the club scene in Dublin was quick to embrace some earlier mixes of “Testify.” It’s crazy to think how many people are getting to hear it every night on that tour.  I humbly thank U2 for the support.  

What’s next for HiFi Sean? 

Five mixes of “Testify,” including the original, are being released worldwide this Friday by Defected Records. I’m excited at the prospect of more people discovering the track. The rest of my year will be spent working on a few singles, and at the start of next year I intend to be back in the studio working on a new album.  I’ve already written quite a bit of material for it and I’m pleased to say it sounds amazingly exciting, and unlike what anyone else is doing. That’s my main goal for future projects – musical exploration.  

What inspires you about Glasgow? What makes it such a unique city? 

Glasgow is home and always will be. It has so much artistic energy revolving around music, art and culture.  It’s one of those cities that really does not need to keep justifying its existence to those down south.  Glasgow is happy to do its own thing and that’s what I love about it.   

 

HiFi Sean’s Fave Glasgow Spots

The Poetry Club

A cool arts space designed for dancing and socializing. It is run by artist Jim Lambie, with whom I used to cavort around town attending parties, doing some DJing, and often getting ripped off.  I love the fact that Jim has put something back into the city’s nightlife for all the times we prospered from it.

 

 

Trans Europe Cafe 

I used to be obsessed as a teenager by a cafe called Equi’s up by Charing Cross in Glasgow. It was across the road from Tiffany’s, a ballroom in which I saw many great bands like New Order, Depeche Mode and Soft Cell. We used to stare for hours at all the pen graffiti on the cafe walls from people leaving little messages about shows they had attended. We would daydream and put ourselves into those situations.  Trans Europe Cafe somehow has the same vibe for me. Within the confines of its art deco-meets-Kraftwerk-homage is where I prefer to go when I want to relish a delicious cheddar cheese toastie and a nice cuppa.

Mono CafeMonorail Music

Top UK vegan dining spot, complete with its own essential record store inside and a brilliant live band space for local underground artists. It’s the place to meet everyone on the Glasgow band scene from the past 20 years; at the ship’s wheel is Stephen Pastel of infamous Glasgow band The Pastels.  If you’re looking for something new for your record collection this store is a must.

 

 

Barrowland Ballroom

Infamous and legendary in every way; when I started The Soup Dragons, I could only dream I would ever headline this venue. Eventually I did, in the days leading up to Christmas 1990 – best present ever.  I have seen everybody here from The Cramps to The Beastie Boys to Echo and The Bunnymen, and hundreds more. It just oozes early 1940s Glasgow architecture and that starry ceiling looks as good from the stage as it does looking up at your fave band. The sprung floor ballroom really gets bouncy when the crowd gets moving.

The Berkeley Suite 

The Berkeley Suite – a converted 1980s casino – is now a favorite spot for all things disco and dazzling. Deep red Twin Peaks vibes in this classy club venue. You can see your fave disco DJs and soulheads merge for a cool night out on the town, where “banging” is a term that’s never used.

 

 

Lana Del Rey Blasts the ‘Little F*ckers’ Who Leaked Her New Album

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If you’ve got a lust for life, it may be best to simmer down for a minute or face the wrath of Lana Del Rey. We know you’re simmering with barely-contained excitement for her long-awaited Lust for Life album, but seriously, don’t go looking for it, you “little fuckers.”

Security has been surprisingly tight for the fourth album from the sleepy-voiced songstress, with critics not even getting advance copies before Friday’s release. Yet, that didn’t stop a record store in Canada from giving some groupie love to its customers (and provided one massive summer bummer to Lana Del Rey) when it started selling the record early, according to Reddit. As with any premature release, it soon leaked everywhere and was found on torrenting sites last night. When the news of the leak reached Del Rey on Twitter, the singer’s stoic and laid back persona gave way to a hilariously sharp reaction:

“I’m so known for having everything leak,” she told Zane Lowe last week on Beats 1. “I like things to be a surprise, and I love a schedule. I don’t like that kind. That is so annoying”

The album drops on Friday and, while we don’t condone being a “little fucker” and finding an early copy, we will say that (hypothetically, of course) the song featuring Stevie Nicks is everything we’ve ever wanted. With that said, catch up on the sleepy, summertime videos she’s released so far as you count the days until Friday’s official release and preorder the album, here.

BlackBook Interview: Subway Therapy Artist Matthew Chavez on New Loupe Art Streaming Channel

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As the shock of the Presidential election result was still stark, raw and new, 28-year-old Brooklyn artist Matthew “Levee” Chavez made a decision to craft a positive response amidst all the panic and dejection. He set up a table with post-it notes and markers in the New York City subway underpass at 14th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, offering anyone who passed by to unload their anger, fear, dismay…whatever

He labeled it, simply, “Subway Therapy.”

The heartfelt artistic gesture garnered national attention, with major stories in the likes of the New York Times and USA Today. It also turned the previously unknown Chavez into something of a hero, at least for those who didn’t pull the lever for Donald J. Trump on November 8th.

It landed him a major two-book deal – Bloomsbury will publish Signs of Hope: Messages From Subway Therapy for an October release. In the meantime, the exciting new art streaming app Loupe has launched an eponymous channel – so that said “therapy” will be available to all who seek it out.

 

 

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Matthew,” says Managing Partner Karrie Goldberg, “and showcase his inspirational work via Loupe’s streaming Guest Curated Channel.”

The works being streamed will also be available for purchase as prints for the first time anywhere. And a portion of the proceeds will go to Women in Need. “Owning a print from one of the various ‘Subway Therapy’ messages,” Goldberg explains, “allows the viewer to have a piece of a moment in time, embracing the Signs of Hope from real people.”

We caught up with Chavez himself to discuss inspiration, art as education and making art as available to all as possible.

 

Obviously Trump’s election was the catalyst – but what actually inspired you to create the original Subway Therapy wall?

For almost a year before the election I was setting up a table and two chairs for Subway Therapy, but my original goal was conversation. I was curious to explore how people felt better about the things they feel bad about. I am lucky to have family and friends to talk to when I’m not feeling so great, but even so it’s nice to have a stranger to talk to from time to time.  I talked with individuals on subway platforms all over New York and after the election I didn’t think I would be able to reach enough people. I decided to bring writing materials into the subway and simply wrote “express yourself” on the wall behind me. I wanted to give people an opportunity to connect to each other in a divided time, and the response was overwhelming.

Had you ever before considered art as having therapeutic qualities?

I have always thought art had therapeutic qualities. As a former educator I used art as a tool to benefit the lives of students in a variety of different ways. While art can be relaxing to experience, it can be meditative or therapeutic to create.

 

 

Was the response both positive and negative to Subway Therapy?

For the most part the response to Subway Therapy was positive. I’m sure some commuters were annoyed by an increase in congestion created by the buzz and popularity of the project; but for the most part I only talked to people who were happy to have something beautiful to look at during their commute.

What attracted you to working with Loupe?

It’s hard to connect to different communities underground. I think working with Loupe gives me an opportunity to reach a broader audience. I would like to see my work benefit the communities that helped to create it, and Loupe is a way to show more people this incredible experience, and give back by donating some of the proceeds to charity.

How does the collaboration with Loupe further the Subway Therapy mission and message?

I want to help people, and working with Loupe helps individuals to get the Subway Therapy experience in their own homes. My hope is that people will see the channel on Loupe, and feel more connected to people in their community and around the world.

Do you see the Loupe concept of the readily available streaming of art as helping to make art more accessible to more people?

I think any service that allows people to view art helps art to be more visible.

 

 

 

 

James Franco Reenacts the Worst Film of Our Time in ‘The Disaster Artist’ Teaser

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It’s 2003, and Tommy Wiseau has unwittingly just released the most notoriously horrible film of a generation. From its awkward dialogue to its excruciating acting and its horrible use of green screen, The Room has earned its place in motion picture history. Since then, writer/director/star, Wiseau has gone on to such titles The House That Drips Blood On Alex, Car Botz and Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance.

If there’s one notable Hollywood figure who could find a muse in Wiseau and his debut film almost 15 years later, it’s James Franco. He directs and stars as Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, a film about the making of the worst film ever. And although the original wasn’t a cinematic masterpiece, the new take boasts a star-studded cast, including Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Lizzy Kaplan, Zac Efron, Bryan Cranston, Alison Brie, Josh Hutchinson, Judd Apatow and Sharon Stone.

This is not Franco’s first unconventional plunge into cinematic history. In 2013, he directed and starred in the sexually explicit documentary, Interior. Leather Bar., a film within a film in which he reimagines the lost 40 minutes from the 1980 Al Pacino film, Cruising.

The Disaster Artist premieres December 1, and the first teaser sees Franco’s Wiseau struggling to get through one of the film’s most infamous scenes. Watch below:

Ed Sheeran Deletes Twitter Following ‘Game of Thrones’ Backlash

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If you tuned into the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones, you may have been caught of guard by the slightly distracting cameo from a certain British pop star. As Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) rides through the forest, she comes across a group of Lannister soldiers, one of which sings an undoubtedly beautiful tune before offering her some rabbit. But some fans were not thrilled with the random casting choice of Ed Sheeran.

 

 

Following his appearance in Sunday’s season premiere, fans of the show took to social media with mixed reactions. Although some were pleasantly surprised, others felt it was an unnecessary distraction.

 

After the Tweet storm, Sheeran temporarily deleted his Twitter. Fans noticed his absence from the social media site on Monday night, although it appears he’s now back online. It’s not the first time he’s taken a hiatus from social media. In a recent interview with The Sun, he explained why he doesn’t read Tweets anymore.

“I go on it and there’s nothing but people saying mean things,” he said. “Twitter’s a platform for that. One comment ruins your day. But that’s why I’ve come off it. The head-f*** for me has been trying to work out why people dislike me so much.”

A Superhero’s Unconventional Inspiration Comes to Life in ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women’ Trailer

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Wonder Woman has long been an empowering feminist role model for young girls. Her recent big screen adaptation has come with no shortage of acclaim, reigniting the superhero’s mission of female empowerment. From her origin in the Amazon to her pivotal role with the Justice League, the franchise is giving the comic book movie genre a woman’s touch.

A new film tackles a lesser known origin story of the comic book heroine. Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), a Harvard psychologist created the character in the 1940s as an amalgamation of his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their lover, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcoate). He and his muses’ shared interests in feminism, pacifism and bondage served as the unconventional inspiration behind a beloved American hero. Much like the super heroine and her alter ego, Marston created the comic book anonymously and had to live his own life in the shadows.

Written and directed by Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S., The L Word), Professor Marston and the Wonder Women also stars Connie Britton. The biopic premieres October 27. Watch the trailer below:

LPs ‘When We’re High’ Video is the Glam Elevator Party the Song Deserves

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LP’s single “When We’re High” is a sultry, simmering showcase of Laura Pergolizzi’s hypnotic and unique vocals, backed by a thumping beat that makes it a decidedly danceable hit. Now, the accompanying music video for the song has arrived, and features the singer enjoying a rooftop soiree with a bunch of gorgeous women in glittering dresses.

“When We’re High” is the latest single off of LP’s fourth studio album, Lost On You, which skyrocketed to number one in 13 countries. She’ll embark upon a UK tour this fall to support her latest music, the dates of which are as follows:

November 27 – Birmingham Academy 2
November 28 – London Forum
December 1 – Cardiff Y-Plas
December 3 – Leeds Stylus
December 5 – Glasgow QMU

“When We’re High”‘s bridge takes iconic lyrics from past pop culture anthems and works them into a mischievous jab at the listener: “She’s so fine, hips don’t lie/ Hit me baby one more time, go ahead and insert any random ass line.” Take a listen/ view below: