Monday, July 27, 2015

Cleo T.

Photo Courtesy Of Cleo T.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I grew up in Paris. But, in the last five years I’ve spent a lot of time between Florens and Rome for my work. I consider Italy my second home. Now I’m in the process of moving to Berlin. I love the city and it's really the right atmosphere to prepare for the next album.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO MUSIC AND CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR GENRE?
I don’t know when it started. I fell in love with the piano. It's part of my childhood memories. Music is like growing up, my everyday life. It’s difficult to describe my genre especially as I’m trying to set up a personal dictionary and approach to art. It's about energy and spirit. I get the same kind of feeling from a byzantine icon and a painting by Motherwell. What matters to me is the connection my music seeks to offer to people. The connections to their dreams. I focus on those emotions.

WHO ARE YOUR MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS?
I love popular music along Italian and French traditional songs. And Latin music where the power of rhythms irresistibly speaking to your body then your soul. Elvis to start the week, Nina Simone on Tuesdays, Serge Gainsbourg for Wednesday afternoons, The Lecuona Cuban Boys on Thursdays, Beyoncé on a Friday night, Dalida on Saturday evenings and Isaac Delusion on Sunday mornings.

FIRST SONG EVER SUNG?
My father is an Elvis fan. My mother listened a lot to the French singers of the 60’s. My first song ever sung was probably “That's Allright Mama”, Brigitte Bardot’s version.

DO YOU WRITE YOUR OWN LYRICS AND WHAT ARE YOUR SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE WORDS (OR PHRASES) IN ENGLISH, FRENCH AND ITALIAN?
Beauty. Absolu. Avventura. (Et risotto ai funghi porcini, ma non si dice!)

WHEN YOU PERFORM DO YOU COME ACROSS YOURSELF IN A STATE OF PERPETUAL DISCOVERY?
I’m lucky because I play in front of different audiences. In Southern Italy or in cities like New York, few people know my music thus far. I have to give them something significant. Something unique that stays with them. It's the kind of arena where only what's real matter. I never know what's going to happen. It's ritualistic. I try to open a door to somewhere else through the energy people give me.

IF YOU WEREN’T SINGING WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I would be a bird. Or, a horse.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
Travel. I think I've spent about five weeks at home this year.

WHERE DO YOU GO SHOPPING?
I love clothes that tell a story. I wear a lot of my grandmother’s clothes. She was fashion-forward and designed many of the pieces she was wearing herself then had them made sur mesure. They showcase an amazing savoir-faire. Also vintage from Céline, Burberry or Saint Laurent. I buy a lot of accessories and shoes from Rome and Milano. I appreciate their craftsmanship. In London I get dresses from Karen Millen for the slim fit.

WHAT CAN WE EXCPECT FROM YOU IN THE FUTURE?
Anything. Tomorrow is a magical day.

La Nouvelle Vague


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Easy Rider

Photo Courtesy Of Toni Basil 

Toni Basil is in London. She’s the choreographer of Bette Midler’s “Divine Intervention” tour, a show that evolves with every performance. On a day in between her otherwise hectic schedule, we play phone tag. “Our relationship is double-edged. Dinner, shopping then we turn around and it’s work focused,” says Basil about her longtime friend, Bette, and ads, “Her work ethic is wonderful, intensive and different.” And Basil is accustomed to virtuosity having worked with the best of them. She describes David Bowie as another genius, “You have to do homework to face him the next day.”

In the 80’s Toni was a recording artist herself, enjoying a vocation lasting two albums and three Hot 100 charting singles, though the cover of Racey’s “Kitty” retitled “Mickey” is arguably, actually, factually, the most infectious and well-known song of her catalogue. Accordingly is the tricolour Americana cheerleading uniform Basil wore in the video.

Born to a theatrical and musical family in Philadelphia, September 22, 1943, Basil travelled often and occasionally resided in Chicago along with Las Vegas where she saw everything. “Everything” including Frank Sinatra - who she eventually ended up an opening act for with The Lockers, a dance group she formed with Don Campbell in 1971 - take the stage.

Before the 70's, inflections of Basil’s different careers had already started to come together. Also an actress, Toni featured in the film “Easy Rider” (1969) directed by Dennis Hopper who co-wrote the script and starred in the movie with Peter Fonda. “Easy Rider” is an odyssey, and ode to Harley-Davidson, that documents the social landscape of the U.S. in the 1960’s “such as the rise and fall of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle.” Basil’s appearance as a New Orlean’s based prostitute is brief but noteworthy, so is Jackie Boy Nicholson’s as a less than sober small time lawyer. “East Rider” was a critical and box office success leading Basil and Hopper to work together again in “The Last Movie” (1971). Still, despite Basil’s fortunate as an artist of the cinema, Dance remained her consistent courtesan.

Basil, a classically trained dancer, is credited for bringing “the street” to TV although what a segment of the audience saw for the first time on “Soul Train” had been ongoing in the hood or el barrio, for years. Created by Campbell, locking is a style of dance which mainly means freezing from a rapid movement and "locking" in a certain position. Not to be confused with break dancing where the dancer combat and face each other, Cambellocking as it was originally called, is about communicating with the spectator and telling a story. A story, then, predominantly testosterone fueled and racially segregated. “I had no problem being a girl or white. It was always about the quality of my dancing. It’s the sport, show off and battle element which makes it more male. You don’t see women out there fighting with ISIS,” said Basil, before we’re interrupted, and later added “I'll call you in a couple of days or when I get back to L.A.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Billie Zangewa

Photo Courtesy Of Billie Zangewa

YOU WERE BORN AND RAISED IN MALAWI AND NOW YOU LIVE IN SOUTH AFRICA, WHICH OF EITHER COUNTRIES HAS SHAPED YOU THE MOST?
I was actually raised in Botswana and it has shaped me the most. I lived in a multi-cultural environment where I learnt about other people of the world. In a way I developed a worldly view at this time of my life.

WHAT WERE YOUR ASPIRATIONS GROWING UP? 
I thought about being a lawyer for the power-dressing aspect of it. Then soon after, it came to me that I wanted to be an artist. I have always been a huge fashion fan, watching “Video Fashion Monthly and then Elsa Klensch's “Style” on CNN religiously as well as devouring “Vogue” magazines. Because of this, I thought I would choose a career in fashion so it was a real curve ball so-to-speak. Ironically, I actually did work in fashion as I was trying to find my perfect self-expression and financial independence.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ART AS YOUR MÉTIER?
It's not so much that I chose art, rather that it chose me. I was about 9/10 years old and a friend showed me a drawing and it really moved me and I knew that I also wanted to do this. I did not yet know that there was a career and what it was called, but from then on I drew every single day and information about art started coming to me.

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL PREPARATION?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree from Rhodes University in South Africa.

WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM AND WHAT DO YOU FIND THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECTS OF YOUR WORK TECHNICALLY?
I work primarily with dupion silk and enjoy it immensely.The most challenging thing is that it’s physically demanding; the cutting, pinning and sewing requires a certain level of physical and mental fitness.

IS THERE A PERSON, PLACE OR EXPERIENCE THAT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR ARTISTIC CAREER?
The visual language of the city, specifically Johannesburg, has probably had the greatest impact. It helped to shape the way that I use silk in my work. The experiences that I had within the city informed the subject matter. There have been a few earth-angels (friends, mentors, strangers...) who have given me signs along the way. My family has also been supportive, although it may not have been their preferred career choice for me.

WHAT ARE THE THEMES IN YOUR CURRENT EXHIBITION, “BODY TALK: FEMINISM, SEXUALITY, AND THE BODY IN THE WORK OF SIX AFRICAN WOMEN ARTISTS”?
The works in this exhibition focus on life in the contemporary context and the daily concerns, but also identity.

IS THERE AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE OR IS THE MESSAGE UNIVERSAL AND WHAT DOES ART GIVE US IN THE DIGITAL AGE?
The messages are universal, but I am sharing them from my perspective which is African. I believe that no matter the age, digital or otherwise, music, art and food are part of the human experience. The digital age has opened up new areas of self-expression in art but the physical remains pertinent. We are after all made of matter and live in a physical world.

YOU WORK EXTENSIVELY WITH TEXTILE, SILK SPECIFICALLY, HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED TRANSLATING YOUR IDEAS INTO A CLOTHING LINE?
I would love to do that. I have some ideas and when the time is right, it will happen. I have periodically been making my own clothes since I was a young girl so it is a natural consideration.

LAST YEAR YOU WERE ASSIGNED THE MOST STYLISH PERSON IN SOUTH AFRICA AT THE ANNUAL STYLE AWARDS, CAN YOU INSPIRE US TO GET THERE?
It was in 2004 and I believe it to have been the work of my angels both celestial and terrestrial. I was a figure in the South African fashion scene at the time, but did I deserve the title? It came at a time when I had made the decision to focus fully on art and I believe that it was the universe's way of affirming my decision and giving me tools to help me realize my dream. So if one has a dream and believes in it even when it looks impossible, the Style Award or any other kind of gift might come!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Constant Gardener

Photographed By Ellinor Forje 

Silk tapestry by Billie Zangewa.