In November 2021, as Glasgow swirled with police, delegates and protesters during the COP26 conference, one sound art gallery was hosting a unique performance. There, Norwich band The Neutrinos performed Darkroom, their lockdown-inspired, one-audience member soundscape show which takes place – as the name suggests – entirely in darkness. I caught up with vocalist Karen Reilly about the show, the band’s partner project Klanghaus and their dream Darkroom performance venue.
This is the second instalment of the Interviews with NYC Artists series. Part 1 is available here.
Later on that cold December day, after my meeting with Sally, I battle my way through the New York snow to meet the artist Cindy Ruskin in her apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The apartment is filled with art supplies, paintings and other works, including a renovated garbage can laden with small models and storytelling sketches.
The New York art scene is famous for its alternative, underground character. But the city is also home to various initiatives aimed at making art accessible – as an entertainment form and as an activity – to a wider proportion of the public. I met up with two New York artists changing the role of art through such projects to discuss their respective projects’ structures, experiences of participation, and the social significance of their art within the gritty realities of New York life.
Since the Norwich poetry scene largely consists of current or former students and local writers, a chef originating from Cairo doesn’t seem to fit the mould. But Salah El Nagar has achieved local fame, both for his widely translated Arabic poems, and for his cooking. By day, he runs Ramses Egyptian Food, usually located in the market in the heart of Norwich city centre (he also runs pop-up stalls at venues around the city). By evening, you can find him at the Birdcage, promoting acceptance, diversity, and gender equality through his poignant and witty poems.
By Rowan Gavin
Skinny Lister play one hell of a live show. In fact, so raucous and rousing are the London six-piece folk outfit’s performances, I’ve yet to encounter any journalism about them that doesn’t start by stating that fact – and I see no reason to change that here. With guitar and accordion and their ever-present flagon of rum, they set the Norwich Arts Centre a-jumping last Friday night, just as they did the Waterfront on their last visit to Noz in late 2017. This time, I was lucky enough to sit down with frontwoman Lorna Thomas in the bar beforehand, to talk all things Skinny.
by Rowan Gavin
Today, Essex-born folk singer Beans On Toast releases his ninth album, ‘Cushty’. Last night, I saw Beans play live for the ninth-ish time (if I’m honest, I’ve lost count, but the symmetry is pleasing). If you’ve been to a British festival in the past decade you’ve probably run into Beans as well – he’s the kind of musician who pops up everywhere. With a new album out every year since 2009, he’s perpetually turning up in your town on tour, or supporting one of his many musical friends, or appearing at festivals you didn’t know he was on the bill for.
Part of a series exploring great music from the DIY music scene that you may have missed.
Hi Niels, thanks so much for letting me bother you with lots of questions! How are you doing today?
No worries. My pleasure. I’m pretty good today – currently in an airport, waiting for a plane to Copenhagen where I’m going to visit an old friend and see a Guns ‘n’ Roses show. Ten year old me is stoked.
So, I’m pretty late to the game and only just stumbled across you and your musical endeavours – Can you tell me a bit about ‘Stöj Snak’ and how it started and who is involved?
Stöj Snak is a ScreamerSongwriter band from Denmark. I started Stöj Snak as an acoustic solo act around 4 years ago – basically just me recording songs in my apartment as a hobby project. It was never meant for anyone to hear.
Since then the band has grown to a four piece with drums, washboard, upright bass and other trash instruments but the attitude towards the music is still very much the same – we do everything ourselves and because it’s fun. It’s basically the antithesis to Guns ‘n’ Roses.
by Hannah Rose
Your new book, Illegal, tells the story of your arrest and deportation from Ecuador and your consequent return over the Colombian border with the help of corrupt police. There’s also a love story which runs through it. Crime and love both sell books – was this thematic mix deliberate?
My original intent was to focus on borders and revolution but almost every person who read a draft, especially early on, wanted to know more about the love story. So I kept adding more with each new edit. We’ve all been in love so that shared experience makes it relatable and easier to digest. That common basis is a great launch pad to touch on everything else, too.
There are many ways in which the art world can be viewed as an exclusive realm to which only a select few are invited – and to a certain extent, I’d be inclined to agree with some of that sentiment. Behind the careful curation of white walls lies a system of complex unspoken rules that perimeter a selective and hierarchical structure. Be it curator, PR or private collector, everyone has their respective role in the art chain and, in part, this allows practice, consumption and interest in fine art to flourish.
Sometimes you just stumble upon good things. Last year I went down to Stockwell to see Perma War and as per usual got there very early but on this occasion that was good. I got chatting to Ollie – one of the gig organisers, and the guitarist for Mindframe who were due to play that night.
Due to train times I had to leave early and missed their set but not before an interview was agreed. In the following months I listened to their music on Bandcamp and caught a couple of videos: intelligent, well crafted, danceable old school punk. Check out ‘Slumped and Dumped’ from the EP of the same name and try to keep your head still.