The Black Ghosts Are Morbid Fun

It’s 2 p.m. in New York, which means it’s 11 a.m. in Los Angeles, and the Black Ghosts’ DJ Theo Keaton (formerly of the Wiseguys) sounds tired over the phone. Understandably, of course, because it’s the night after he wrapped up the Black Ghosts’ US tour, and it’s hours before he and singer Simon Lord (formerly of Simian) hop on a plane back to home to London. Keaton says the duo hopes to get back to working on their next album without the stress of the road. “We’ve been touring so much this year that effectively the time to be creative has been pretty small,” Keaton said. “So, we definitely need to take a break.”

Keaton rhapsodizes over the phone about his new hard-to-find additions to his horror film collection that have titles he says are so obscene, he’d rather not share. The occult, however, is not a new obsession for either Keaton or Lord, or of their families. At a young age, Keaton was, well, forced by his parents to watch horror movies. Keaton’s godfather directed “Hammer House of Horror” movies, which led to his early fascination with such films. His childhood home was adorned with arcane symbols his family had found over the years, and an old cemetery lay nearby. Lord was also familiar with the supernatural from an early age. His grandmother, Madeleine Dring, was a music hall satirist and considered a psychic. When asked how his less than traditional upbringing influenced his music, Keaton refutes the question by saying his childhood wasn’t “particularly weird.” “I myself didn’t come from a musical background. It’s something I found myself falling into as a teenager.” Keaton said. “I’m kind of an anomaly in my family. It’s interesting. All of my family is creative in a visual way, and that’s what I always thought that was what I was going to do. I thought I was going to be in design or painting, but I took to music.”

image

At age 16, Keaton bought his first pair of turntables. Twenty years later, those same turntables still work. But you won’t see him playing them at the Black Ghosts’ live shows. While most DJ sets stick simply to mixing the tracks themselves, the Black Ghosts go beyond where most DJ’s have gone before. Both Keaton and Lord combine their respective talents while not infringing on one another. Keaton DJs while Lord overlays tracks on his laptop and sings live. It’s a consensual music relationship made in Internet heaven. Keaton and Lord had tracks laid out before they even met; the duo paired through mutual friends and digitally exchanged tracks over the web. “We have very clear roles, and that’s the way it was set out from the beginning,” Keaton said. “I would make a bunch of tracks and send them to Simon, and he would pick the ones he wanted to write to, and he always wrote what he was inspired to write. I didn’t want to change any of that, and he didn’t say ‘Oh, that snare drum is very weird.’ We both just did our job properly.”

Posh Times in Miami

imageSummer continues to sear the southern population, so what the hell do you do with your Miami condo in the off season? Maybe you and your friends had a little too much fun one night and caused some “slight” damage to the condo’s infrastructure, but, hey, what’s a few thousand dollars? Plus, money isn’t an issue. Posh Condos in Miami provides an “affordable” way to salvage the remains of your condo and make it profitable. And on the flip side, it’s a novel way for Miami visitors to rent some truly spectacular local digs well outside the usual hotel fare.

Alison Moyet Turns in a New Album

Recently, electronica has re-birthed itself into mainstream music. Before Moby songs were persuading you to buy cars, Yazoo (known as Yaz in the U.S.) created seamless hits such as “Only You” and “Situation.” Yazoo’s success, however, was short-lived. Band members Vince Clarke (once a songwriter for Depeche Mode) and Alison Moyet, disbanded shortly after the release of their second album You and Me Both, in 1983. until this May it had been nearly 25 years since Moyet and Clarke played a show together. Here Moyet talks about why Yazoo just didn’t work out the first time around, her new solo album The Turn, and selling her arse at 47.

It’s been nearly 25 years since you released a Yaz Album with Vince Clarke. What made you want to come together with Clarke for a reunion tour?

For me a musical project is not completed until it includes live performance. When we worked together originally, it was fleeting and we only performed 24 shows together, and just three of those were in the U.S. It was not something fully realized and our second album You And Me Both never got an outing, wholly or in part at all, as we had disbanded before its release. I personally have toured as a solo act consistently since, but never felt able to include the songs from this period because the electronica was such an important element. I didn’t want to do some hideous Karaoke versions of them. Live work is my bag. Now is the time that fits for both of us logistically. This is less about a reunion or nostalgia and far more about completing a project.

Have you personally faced any challenges that a reunion tour might pose? If so, how have you dealt with these challenges?

Vincent and I had little relationship to speak of when we worked together in the 80s. The minute we met properly, we were working in the studio fourteen hours a day. We never so much as got a beer together. When we split up that was it. We neither saw each other nor phoned. What happened over the years, is that we both chilled out. Early on we were both shy, social cripples, and precious over our contributions. There was no warmth. Time has made us easier beasts. Now we talk and we laugh, and it’s very easy.

What was the inspiration behind your newest album The Turn?

I wanted to write an album that relied on melody and intelligent lyricism. My ears are weary from the embellishments that adorn the majority of popular song these days. I wanted to work outside popular trends. Is there a specific meaning behind the album’s title?

A Turn is a catch-all name given to variety performers in the north of England, mainly. It is unglamorous and reminds us that one is quickly followed by another, and is soon forgotten. I have no sense of immortality, and I dislike the smoke and mirrors that some acts use to cover up their extreme common mundaneity. A Turn is slightly tragic, and I feel slightly tragic selling my arse still at 47.

image

You’ve taken a couple lengthy breaks in your career. What did you focus on during those periods of time?

The breaks are shorter than they seem. I had a sticky couple of years after releasing Essex, with my then-label Sony. They felt i was committing commercial suicide and they were right. I didn’t want to make the records they knew would sell, and they wouldn’t believe I couldn’t be made to back down. I had another child instead. Finally, they let me into the studio to record Hometime and didn’t like the result. It was then another year to get them to let me go. During that period I played Mamma Morton in the West End production of Chicago, until I found a new label to release the album. Sanctuary put it out for me and it was fantastically received.

Ray-Ban Adds Some Color to New York

Ray-Ban, discontent with merely shielding your rods and cones from the sun, has decided to turn New York into an art gallery of sorts. In conjunction with Marie Claire, and the launch of their “super cool” (their words, not ours) new colored Wayfarer sunglasses, Ray-Ban has commissioned five NYC-based artists (Ron English, Tara McPherson, Scott Alger, Queen Andrea, and Toofly) to create a billboard each. The billboards will incorporate the new colored Wayfarer with the artists’ personal styles, and will be unveiled on July 1st. There’ll be a party that day at Henri Bendel, with the artworks in store windows. But because there’s really no limits when promoting sunglasses, Ray-Ban is organizing a top-secret stunt on July 1st for Ron English’s billboard that will literally stop traffic. Wait, traffic in this city actually moves?

Paul McCartney and Justice Come Together!

Today is Paul McCartney’s 66th birthday! To celebrate (not really, but the timing couldn’t be better), Australian music masher Wax Audio has compiled a remix of Justice’s “Waters of Nazareth” and the Beatles’ “Come Together” for an epic duel entitled, er, “Come To Nazareth—Beatles vs. Justice.” While the new version won’t ever replace the greatness of the original, this might be one of the most inspired remixes of late.

Radiohead Pedals Eco Agenda

Another celebrity attempt to save the world has failed. In an effort to promote eco-friendly lifestyles, Radiohead announced that 50 passes for their show at Paris’ Bercy Arena would be given away to fans who claimed them by bicycle, at record label XL’s Parisian office. Unfortunately, only 15 tickets were claimed for the June 10th show. Perhaps Radiohead didn’t realize that promoting bicycling to pick up tickets would have been a more popular venture in Amsterdam. The band continues to encourage show-goers to use public transportation to attend its shows. We’ll do them one better—we’re backstroking across the Hudson to All Points West.

Gillis Talks Girl Talk

If you’re one of those iPod owners who likes to max out their memory, get ready to purge, because there’s a new album coming out that you’re gonna wanna cop (sorry Weezer, but you’re getting the boot). Pop music contortionist, Girl Talk (a.k.a. Greg Gillis), finished laying down the tracks for his fourth LP, Feed the Animals, last Tuesday (June 10). In the tradition of Radiohead, Gillis told Pitchfork Media the tracks will be available on the Internet “Wednesday or Thursday” of this week for an optional fee along with hard copies to follow. Gillis chose to release the album at an accelerated pace because of the current pop and hip-hop samples on it. There has been no word on what tracks are sampled on the album, but we’re hoping for a few songs in particular. “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne isn’t one of them.

Lacroix Homeward Bound, Curates Arles Exhibit

Legendary fashion designer Christian Lacroix is giving back to his hometown this summer. Lacroix will be this year’s guest curator for the 39th edition of “Rencontres de Photographie d’Arles,” a summer photography exhibit that runs from July 8 through until September 14 in Arles, France. While Lacroix hasn’t returned to his hometown in nearly nine years, in an interview with Le Journal des Arts, he said, “Arles is a city you do things for notwithstanding, and one I keep coming back to.”

The show will host Lacroix’s rediscovered private photography collection and those of other Arles studio photographers. The show centers on Arles: the city and its history, the culture of Provence, bullfighting, the area’s industrial heritage and the “Trente Glorieuses”—France’s 30-year postwar boom—as seen from Arles. This, however, is not Lacroix’s first time as guest curator. The designer has most recently contributed to “Histoires de Mode” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs earlier this year as well as the new exhibition at the Musée Réattu on view now through October.

Givenchy’s Nightingale Bag

Every woman deserves the perfect bag. And, hey, we found it. Givenchy‘s Fall/Winter 2008 Nightingale bag collection by Riccardo Tisci, which has been praised by collectors and celebrities season after season, sports new textures, exotic skins and new metallic colors perfect for colder weather. (We can’t believe we’re already talking about colder weather! When will the heat subside?) The assortment includes embossed crocodile, embossed stingray, “bubbled” leather, patent leather and marbled python skin. If you’re looking for something a bit smaller, the Nightingale is also now available in a new mini for evenings out. It’s also available with pale gold or black opaque gunmetal finished hardware.

image