FAULT Weekly Playlist: Anabel Englund

anabel

We first got tipped off on LA-based singer/songwriter Anabel Englund from her vocal features on Hot Natured’s (Lee Foss, Jamie Jones, Luca C & Ali Love) 2013 album “Different Sides of the Sun” and after taking some time off to focus on writing and her own artistic creation, Anabel re-emerges with her solo project and debut single “London Headache.”

The futuristic yet classic production on the record allows Anabel to bring both lyrical and vocal talents to the forefront, proving that her level of storytelling is second-to-none within the world of house music. “London Headache” is a stunning piece of alternative pop/house, with elements of disco running throughout, which coupled with her deeply personal lyrics makes for a unique and fascinating listen.

We asked Anabel to put together an exclusive playlist and with it she takes us through her private listening experience as she boards an international flight back to LA.

Misty – Ella Fitzgerald


“I chose this song for my alarm. It doesn’t matter what time I’m waking up if I’m waking up to her voice.”

Kilo – Walls To Build (Mall Grab Remix)

“Regretting booking my flight so fucking early, wiping the sleep from my eyes gathering my last minute things before I hop in the Uber waiting downstairs.”

Max Cooper – Woven Ancestry (Lusine Remix)

“In the Uber on the way to LAX, really excited the trip to my favorite place has begun.”

RÜFÜS – Untie The Sun Needs To Rise

“Walking through security, saying hi to all the airport security peeps appreciating all they do to keep us safe.”

Blaze – Lovelee Dae (Bicep Remix)

“Boarding the plane, grateful I got myself a first class ticket…orange juice and soda water when I sit down. Virgin mimosa #TREATYOSELF”

Tennis – Make It Good (Larry Heard Vocal Remix)

“Writing my thoughts in my journal thinking about all the things I’m gonna do when I land and the days to come.”

The Acid – RA (Weval Remix)

“Going through customs…ALMOST….FUCKING…THERE…….”

Madonna – Don’t Tell Me

“I’M HERE BITCHESSS. CAN’T WAIT TO TEAR THIS CITY UP WITH LOVE AND LIGHT. Don’t tell me to stop.”

Anabel Englund Socials:
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud

‘South By Midwest’ – An Exclusive Fault Menswear Editorial

 

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Waistcoat- Di Liborio / Pendant- Pyrrha / Ring- Pyrrha

 

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(L-R) George: Sweater – Replay / Sweat pants – Bodybound /// David: Shirt- John Varvatos / Jeans- Levi’s / Pendant- Pyrrha /// Harry: Zip Shirt- Samsoe & Samsoe / Jeans- Element

 

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Waistcoat- Di Liborio / Pendant- Pyrrha / Ring- Pyrrha / Hat- Lyonard

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Jeans- Levi’s / Sweater- Bodybound / Belt- Cos / Shoes- Hudson London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shirt- Levi’s / Sweat pants- Bodybound / Jacket- Replay / Ring- Pyrrha / Boots – Base London

Shirt- Levi’s / Sweat pants- Bodybound / Jacket- Replay / Ring- Pyrrha / Boots – Base London

 

Sweatpants- Bodybound / Jacket- Gloverall / Ring-Pyrrha

Sweatpants- Bodybound / Jacket- Gloverall / Ring-Pyrrha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweater – Scotch & Soda / Bracelet- Northskull London

Sweater – Scotch & Soda / Bracelet- Northskull London

 

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(L-R) Harry: Tshirt – Scotch & Soda / Jeans- Replay / Bracelet- Northskull London /// David: Tshirt – Replay / Sweatpants- Scotch & Soda

 

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Sweater- Scotch & Soda / Jeans – Replay / Pendant- Pyrrha

 

 

 

 

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Jeans- Replay / Coat – John Varvatos / Pendant – Pyrrha

 

Shirt underneath- Replay / Shirt on top- Levi’s / Jeans – Replay / Boots- Base London / Pendant- Pyrrha

Shirt underneath- Replay / Shirt on top- Levi’s / Jeans – Replay / Boots- Base London / Pendant- Pyrrha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographer: Charl Marais @ Kayte Ellis Agency

Creative Director/Fashion Editor: Kristine Kilty

Grooming: Kristina Vidic using Mac pro, skincare Dermalogica

Photography Assistant: Lotti Brewer-Gmoser

Models: Harry Goodwins, David Martins, George Blaxall @ Next

FAULT Weekly Playlist: Anna Straker

anna

London-based singer/producer Anna Straker has fast become one of the most exciting emerging talents in electronic music. Her fervent love of synths, powerful lyricism, and bold good looks all tip her as one to watch. Recently she released her debut four-track EP “Serious,” a collection of songs that pay homage to nu disco and 90s house, while also maintaining a playful pop edge.

We asked Anna to put together some songs to help get you through the winter weather, including cuts from Childish Gambino, Bon Iver, and J Dilla.

“These are some songs to hibernate to this winter.” – Anna Straker

Bon Iver – Holocene

“This couldn’t be more winter. Listening to this album (scratch that, all of Bon Iver’s albums) makes me want to wrap up by the fire and contemplate the world. This song brings out all the emotions in me. And the music video is INCREDIBLE WINTERY BLISS.”

Kindness – House

“Not only will this song keep you warm in the bitter cold, but it also has the most charming video to accompany it. We need more kindness in the world. <3”

Connan Mockasin – Im The Man, That Will Find You

“Play this song when you come inside from a cold day, cook up a romantic dinner for you and your soulmate, pour an alcoholic beverage of your choice, and wrap up in those sheets together. This is my sexy winter jam.”

The Stranglers – Golden Brown

“This song is like a winter fairytale. The harpsichord takes me to another world. It’s so soothing. I wish I wrote this song.”

Gorillaz Ft. Little Dragon – Empire Ants

“When I listen to this song I think about snow falling and how millions of snowflakes just disappear into white. Nothing matters and everything matters. I love the carefree vibe of it – it ‘blows all the shadows far away.'”

Radiohead – All I Need

“This is my all time favourite Radiohead song. It embodies the angst and distress I felt as a teen, so play this when you look out the window and you’re consumed by the frosty grey of the outdoors.”

Lapalux – Without You (Binkbeats Version)

“This is an incredible live performance of an incredible song (the original version is also worth fangirling over, too). To me, winter is very melancholic, and this song is the icy wind that bites your cheeks. You can’t not feel heartbroken when you listen.”

Childish Gambino – Sober

“Childish Gambino is a super cool rapper, and I love how this song shows off the more melodic side of his voice. The synths in the choruses sound like inter dimensional christmas bells.”

J Dilla – So Far To Go (ft. Common & D’Angelo)

“If you love Dilla & D’Angelo, you’re in for a treat. Drink your mulled wine and appreciate the slinky sounds of legendary artists that I grew up listening to.”

Anna Straker Socials:
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud

Fault gets to know pop music’s newest breakthrough act Daya

Fault recently caught up with new pop megastar Daya as she promotes her brand new album ‘Sit Still, Look Pretty’ which was released on October 7th.

 

Hey Daya, how’s it going?

Hi! I’m good, how are you?

 

Not bad thanks! Are you in the UK long?

For the next 2 or 3 days.

 

Enjoying so far?

Yeah I love it here, we got into London yesterday and went to a musical, and it was good.

 

Which musical?

I went to ‘Beautiful’, the Carole King one. It was good; it was fun.

8315-v2-min

Top – Di Liboro

You’re going on a long tour soon from end of November all the way through to March?

Yeah I’m doing a lot of Jingle Ball type things around Christmas, and then after that I’ve got a bit of a break. But then I have my first headlining tour in February, which I’m really stoked for.

 

Sounds great! You even end up in your hometown of Pittsburgh?

Yeah, I think I end there; I love doing hometown shows, it’s the best.

 

It must feel quite special with your family being there?

Yeah! All my family and friends are there. It’s really the only time I get to go home because I’m just doing so much craziness. But otherwise it’s fun, everyone has supported me there from the beginning so they can see every time I come home what has changed, and how everything is growing and evolving.

 

How much has life changed since your debut album was released?

Yeah, it was only a couple of weeks ago but it’s just been insane, so incredible and the feedback I’ve received is awesome. I’m just excited for everyone to finally have it and also excited to play the songs from the album live.

 

How long has been in the making, in terms of recording?

It’s been about a year and a half because I released my EP last year and since then we got on with the album. It’s been like a year on and off, in and out of the studio. It has been a lot of fun and I love the process of it all; so I was very anxious to get it out into the world.

 

And as you mention, the response has been strong so far?

Yeah it has been amazing. I just toured in Japan for a week or two and played a lot of the songs live for the first time, so they were really well received.

 

Was it nerve-wracking playing them for the first time?

Yeah I mean it’s always scary to perform songs for the first time but I was so ready to! I’ve been performing the same 6 songs over the past year so I was just ready to move on.

7945-min

Suit – Marccain / Top – Topshop

As the new album has 14 songs on, you’ve got a large catalogue now to take from, does that help?

Yeah so much better to have 14 rather than 6, it’s pretty nice.

 

Are you planning on touring the UK at all next year?

Hopefully. I mean my biggest dream going into all this was to do a world tour so hopefully I’ll be touring Europe, South America, Asia next year or even the year after, I’m not sure yet. That’s the ultimate goal.

 

After listening to the album, is there an apparent theme or message running through it?

Yeah I think a lot of it is about self-development and empowerment. I’m so young in the industry and I haven’t had too many experiences yet with relationships, love or anything so I write about what I know. I feel the album allows you to depend on yourself for happiness, go and be passionate and also pushing you to work hard and go after your dreams.

 

Which is exactly what you have personally done?

Yeah pretty much, I hope to inspire others to do the same.

 

In terms of your collaborations with artists such as The Chainsmokers, how has the response been from that?

Yeah it’s been awesome, that was such a great one to get my foot in the door and to get introduced to a new audience too. I performed at Coachella with them and they’re obviously a lot more electronic dance leaning so I got a lot of new fans from that, which was really cool. I’m super proud of the way the songs hit with everyone, I love that song.

 

I suppose you’re both on the same journey, as you’re growing up in the industry together and entering yourselves into the mainstream chart audiences.

Yeah, and it was really fun to create with them because they’re great guys. We really connected when we first met.

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Top – Jayne Pierson / Bralette – H&M / Skirt – Marcell Von Berlin

Does it feel like a quick journey since that collaboration came out?

Yeah so many things have happened over the past year but I definitely wanted to focus on my music after that feature. It was great to feature with them and everything but I definitely wanted the focus to be on the album, and on me. Just to kind of let them know; the world know who I am.

 

You’ve got new VIP packages available for fans on your upcoming tour, is that an opportunity for them to get closer to you?

Yeah I do. I kind of wanted to make that more of an experience rather than just a “hi” and “bye”. That is something that I’ve always had trouble with during meet and greets. You don’t get to interact with your fans, become friends with them or get to know them at all. Basically for the VIP thing I’m adding to this upcoming tour is to do an interactive sound check experience where they get to ask me questions and hopefully it will be a lot more fun for them too.

 

Are there any new singles fans can expect to come out soon? Or anything new that you’re recording such as a video?

Yeah I have a new single from the album that I’ll start to promote soon and it’s called ‘Words’. It is my favourite from the album and I think that people will really dig it. Its kind of got a dancey tune and sound to it and it’s really fun to perform in concert. So that’ll be the song I’ll be pushing to radio soon.

You’ve been having huge success on streaming sites such as Spotify, has that been a shock to you or has it been a long journey to get to that status on there?

Its really cool and I guess that’s kind of the direction that music is going in these days. It says a lot when songs are played a lot on streaming sites like Spotify. It’s the future and the present for music. I’ve had a lot of great feedback with the numbers from Spotify, which is awesome. I was with someone the other day and they put on the ‘Top Hits’ playlist and two of my songs came on which is amazing. I’m so grateful for the support from Spotify and from listeners everywhere.

 

Are you doing a video to support that single?

Yeah I will be, within the next month or so we’ll start filming it.

 

8049-min

Top – Topshop

Any ideas as to the location of the filming, hometown maybe?

I don’t know yet as its been so crazy. We haven’t looked at treatment or anything yet.

 

You’re travelling lots now, have you got a favourite accent?

I love the UK accent. My make-up artist was doing my glam this morning and she used the term ‘flick’ instead of ‘wing’ for eyeliner and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. [laughs] I thought “this is great”, I mean using that word ‘flick’; its so cool.

 

Have you tried impersonating the British accent?

Yes, but I’m terrible. “Terrible at it, so terrible at it” [in British accent]. [laughs]

 

The more you come over the better you’ll get.

Yeah, definitely.

8338-min

Top – Di Liboro / Trouser – Balmain / Boots – River Island

What is your FAULT?

That’s another term we really don’t use in the US. I say “like” a lot. [laughs] I’m pretty bad at doing that, especially during public speaking.

 

Ever had a problem with crowd banter on stage?

I’m really confident on stage, especially when performing on stage. It’s my favourite part of all of this. I love touring and I love performing in front of my fans.

 

It sounds like you really enjoy the full experience of being an artist.

Yeah, it’s exciting and it’s everything that I’ve wanted to do since I was like 8 years old.

 

You can catch Daya on her upcoming North American tour running from December through to March 2017. Daya’s debut album ‘Sit Still, Look Pretty’ is out now. View full list of tour dates on her website: http://www.theofficialdaya.com/

 

Words Stuart Williams

Photography Jack Alexander

Styling Edith Walker Millwood

Beauty Krystle G using Bumble and Bumble

Anastacia discusses breast cancer and the road to a FAULTless recovery in FAULT Magazine Issue 24

Fashion Editor & Creative Director: Rachel Holland | Photographer: Andres De Lara | Make Up: Alex Price @ FRANK Agency | Hair Stylist: Karin Darnell @FRANK Agency | Nail Artist: Diane Drummond | Photographer’s Assistant: Stefano Della Salla | Stylist’s Assistant: Tara Theiss | Stylist’s Assistant: Lina Buckson

Fashion Editor & Creative Director: Rachel Holland | Photographer: Andres De Lara | Make Up: Alex Price @ FRANK Agency | Hair Stylist: Karin Darnell @FRANK Agency | Nail Artist: Diane Drummond | Photographer’s Assistant: Stefano Della Salla | Stylist’s Assistant: Tara Theiss | Stylist’s Assistant: Lina Buckson

 

Words: Miles Holder

 

Before we begin, I need to break FAULT’s usual editorial style guide and explain the background behind our reversible cover feature for FAULT Issue 24. It’s important to me that our readers understand Anastacia’s head space throughout our interview so that you can understand just how Anastacia is able to make light of times which read like her darkest of days.

As a musician, Anastacia is known for being the powerhouse vocalist who stormed the charts in the early 2000s with hit tracks ‘I’m Outta Love’, ‘One Day in Your Life’ and ‘Left Outside Alone’, all of which now are defining pop anthems of the decade. Despite breaking away from Sony Records (a decision Anastacia admits wasn’t the best idea for the time), Anastacia went on to release 6 studio albums, tour endlessly and sell 52 million records worldwide.

Behind the music, Anastacia has been gripped in an internal battle against illness and self-acceptance her whole life. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age 13 and fighting two bouts of breast cancer, the second of which ended with a Double Mastectomy­ in 2013, Anastacia’s has been on a mission to regain the femininity stolen by the disease.

Arriving at our interview, Anastacia greeted me wide eyed and with a tender embrace; while I wish I could say she was just excited to see me, it’s clear that after years of hiding her scars and parts of her story from the world – it was a godsend for her to finally be able to reveal her story to the world.

It’s been a long fought battle consisting of 10 procedures & 5 Surgeries but Anastacia is ready to reveal her FAULTs to the world.

Here is Anastacia’s story – FAULTs and all.

Dress (worn as Skirt) by Joe Richards

Dress (worn as Skirt) by Joe Richards

FAULT: Thanks for being so trusting with FAULT on this shoot. Prior to this, how did you feel about your scarring?

Anastacia: I resented them. I resented how large they are but I also understood why I needed to go through all the physical changes. My scars are part of my journey and a reminder of all the things I went through with my mastectomy. At this point, I feel great to be able to show them in a way that’s artistic with a respected team in fashion because it’s transformed my body’s “FAULTs” into art.
Your scars aren’t in the usual place for a mastectomy, why is that?

The surgeons had to go around my tattoo; the scars really should have been on my bra line but to graft skin, the surgeons needed to find a place that wasn’t compromised. I wasn’t expecting it to be as long but it was the only way.
How does it feel to finally show the stripped back Anastacia?

I’m so nervous to let people see them, I really am, but I want to be able to go on the beach and not have the first photographs taken of my body to be ones that I didn’t give. I want to be free and knowing that this photo-shoot will be out there and available, I can be on the beach and not worry about what people think. After today, paparazzi can take a photo of me breathing in and call it a gut or say all the things they want, that doesn’t scare me – but my scars are a part of me and I want to be the one to reveal them. If paparazzi photographed them before today, I’d feel like I was being shamed but being able to release them this way, I feel extremely empowered.

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Silver Vest: Baserange | Jeans: Anastacia’s Own (True Religion)

When you battled cancer, you were fighting an illness that was slowly taking over your body and wrecking havoc on its path. Do you feel like you’ve finally reclaimed it back?

Absolutely! Every little thing that I’m doing, including Strictly Come Dancing, was me trying to reclaim a little piece of my femininity that cancer stole. When you have as many surgeries as I’ve had, you lose so many female sensations that you’ll never get back. Nipple sensation is something that cancer robbed from my anatomy and I’m used to it now but there is that little part of me that will always be lost. Doing Strictly and doing this shoot I feel like I’m finally becoming the woman that I was again.

How long has it taken for you to mentality repair and be ready to share your body with us?

It’s definitely been a long process. I was diagnosed January 2013 and it’s nearly 2017. It took this long but finally when people see this shoot it will be 100% back to me. I’m really grateful that this has been the journey and that you are a part of it – if I was on Strictly long enough I might have done it there but it wasn’t meant to be. Doing a shoot like this, I can be sure that the world sees my scars how I now do – as art.

 

Talk me through your first moment of discovery back in 2003.

2003, I actually went in to explore breast reduction as a preventative measure and two days before my procedure my doctor asked me to have a mammogram. I remember saying “I’m young, what are you talking about!?” and he replied “I just want to check that your tissue is pristine” and me being me I said,“Pristine, mean, clean that’s who I am when I’m on the scene!” [laughs] It was all jokes, I got my mammogram and lo and behold, they found cancer. I wasn’t so pristine, mean or clean after all…

It was a blessing because they found it so early. I spent so long learning all the information I could from that point on. When doctors ask “Is cancer in your family?”, they’re only guaranteeing that you will get it. If it’s not, it’s still a wide open field and 70% of women who get cancer, it’s not even in their family and most women will get cancer. Everything in the environment, your stress levels, what you eat – it all can be a cause of cancer. There are so many combining factors that will make you a victim which is why I decided to become an advocate for early detection.

Young women need to ask for a mammogram contribution for holiday gifts or birthdays etc. Even just £5 or £10 towards the procedure, anything will help and it’s all an investment in your long-term well-being. If you’re a young woman in your mid-twenties, just get it the test done and you can have peace of mind until you’re thirty years old. In your thirties go every two or three years depending on your doctor’s advice and then after thirty-five, it’s safest to go each year. Find it early and you’re done and it’s so much easier.

Cancer and death needn’t go hand in hand, if you catch it early you can live with it and seek treatment – it’s not spotting it early enough that’s scary.

Dress: Laura Theiss

Dress: Laura Theiss

You’re very vocal and many who have heard your story were able to learn from it and beat cancer due to their proactive detection. How does that make you feel to know you affected a life in such a drastic way?

I’ve heard it so much that I never take back any personal invasion of my privacy because it allowed my story to be told to so many people and saved so many lives.

The first news of your cancer wasn’t revealed on your terms?

The press told people I had cancer before I told people! I found out I had cancer on Friday and on Sunday World News rang to tell me they were releasing the story and if I’d like to make a statement. I didn’t have a press team at the time to do all that for me and I was still coming to terms with my diagnosis. Three days later most of my friends learnt I had cancer from the press. I couldn’t call anybody; I was trying to deal with what I thought at the time was a death sentence.

In saying that I’m not angry and what the press did – I say all the time that I’m grateful to have had cancer because it meant that I was able to save lives and that is worth every minute of surgery I’ve been through. I’m still alive and telling this story is why I’m still here and that’s why I keep talking about because there are a lot of people who don’t have the ability to raise their voice. It’s hard spiritually and mentally to tell people about your experiences and I get that. Not everybody needs to be as open as I am but as long as I’m open I can help someone who is closed get by and that’s how I look at the world that is cancer but I just look at the first three letters, C.A.N.

 

What physical trait did you hate before scarring and how insignificant does it feel now?

My boobs! [laughs] When I think back to how much I hated them, they ended up saving my life. Had I had smaller breasts I might not have seen anything and then I would have had it and not known and been hit with stage four out of the blue. My friends were telling me not to get them reduced because they were beautiful and people were paying for larger breasts and thank god I didn’t listen to them.

I say I was blessed with cancer and I was blessed with Crohn’s because it allows me to find a positive way to get through it in order to find a way around it. Having Crohn’s has made me a better communicator because to hold it in creates anxiety which makes it worst.
You’ve had bad days, in fact, you’ve had the worst of days. What lifts you back up?

I just wait for it to pass. I think you have to allow yourself to feel like crap, you’re supposed to have those feelings. You need to have emotions and it’s how you process them and how you exist and I think that for me I just tell myself “Anastacia, you’re down today and just be down.” If I have to work, then I push it aside and sometimes I can forget but if I don’t take care of letting it exist then it can come out another way. I’ve made a lot of mindful decision to get me to this place. I’ve had a lot of accomplishments but it’s the setbacks which taught me who I am and what I’m made of.

No, I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to but it’s how you learn from what you haven’t been able to accomplish that brings success.

Trousers: Cacharel Blazer: Cacharel Bodysuit: Else

Trousers: Cacharel; Blazer: Cacharel; Bodysuit: Else

Strictly sounds like a lot of work and even more so for someone who has been through the physical changes that you have. How did you cope?

I was and now am in the best condition that I’ve been in, in a long time. I had just finished 50 dates before I started on Strictly and the injury I received wasn’t because I was unfit but because I was trying to do something that was hard for most people let alone me with my Latissimus Dorsi in front of my body! [Laughs] It was a tall order for my dance partner and me to do but I think we were both stubborn in our “we can do this” philosophy.

And then you got injured. What exactly happened?

I just thought it was a sore muscle and I just waited for it to pass but it got progressively worse and then I felt a lump which I knew couldn’t be cancer because I didn’t have any breast tissue left but it had to be something. I went to see a doctor and as it turns out it was an inflamed scar tissue. I found this out on Saturday morning and the show was filmed live on Saturday night.

We decided to continue with the performance, and we took out the lift to help me do that. By the end of the performance, I was in a lot of pain and knew I needed to see a specialist. Then I was told there was a dance off. I knew I was physically unable to perform, and I was terrified about what damage I had already done. I began to cry and said “sorry I’ll get my things and go and thanks for the opportunity” and I was ready to leave…I didn’t know they had contingencies for occurrences like that.

The press wasn’t so understanding at first.

I didn’t have the best time hearing what the press had to say because I couldn’t dance-off but once they found out why it was all “wow, how did you even dance in the first place!?” and I’m all like “Hello, I’m a fighter!” But once I felt that my arm was going to die, I just had to sit it out. I think the press thought I was being a diva and refusing to dance off which was so wrong and it was the best feeling when the truth finally came out.
If you could give any piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I believe that I would say “be kinder to yourself and not compare yourself to other people.” Back then I never felt I was pretty enough or talented enough. I wore glasses, I wasn’t tall, I didn’t have blue eyes, I didn’t think I was pretty because I compared myself to people who looked nothing like me. I could have picked anything to not like about myself but I wish I’d been gentler and kinder to me and not been so judgemental. It’s strange because my mum always taught me to accept other people for all their differences and I always saw the beauty in others, I just couldn’t see it in myself.

What is your FAULT?

I give to my own detriment. As much as people say giving is a great gift, it’s not when you don’t know when you’re being taken advantage of. I’ve been so giving that I’ve hurt myself so much in the process.

 

 

Read Anastacia’s full story and see more exclusive photographs only in FAULT 24 – available to pre-order now

Lake Street Drive headline Shepherd’s Bush Empire – Gig Review

Lake Street Dive – Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Thursday 10th November 9.00 – 10.00 PM

lake-street-dive-today-screengrab-crop

Lake Street Dive is an American four-piece band who create genre-defying, label-eluding music, self-described as ‘if the Beatles and Motown had a party together’; throw in the Beach Boys ca. Pet Sounds, and all the best bits of pop music up to the present day, too. That description may read like a lot of waffle. Yet their swift progression from indy-labels and local dance halls to talk-show appearances and international touring is a testament to the band’s talent for clever, catchy and above all fun music.

This year LSD have twice appeared in Europe, anticipating and subsequently promoting their spring release Side Pony. Named for the dubious sideways ponytail, the album is a paean to quirky self-expression set to 70s Rock, Soul, and a touch of Disco. Now at the tail-end of a whistle-stop tour across Europe, Performance Reviewed was invited to their sole London appearance at the O2 Empire in Shepherd’s Bush.

Opening on a thunderous, amped up ‘Godawful Things’; – an ironic gospel hymn to rebound relationships – the theme of the evening was a meteoric, power-rocking celebration interspersed with somewhat calmer moments. The song ‘Spectacular Failure’, a thumping pop song on the album, became an ear-shattering, head-banging wall of sound; the jaunty ‘I Don’t Care About You’ turned into a kind of power ballad to searing indifference; and the surfer-styled ‘Hell Yeah’ went in the opposite direction and became frantic rhythm and blues.

Mid-way through the show, the spotlights dimmed and double-bassist Bridget Kearney came to the fore with a captivating, frenetic solo rooted in West African traditional music. At other concerts it would be jarring and gratuitous; here this virtuoso performance only highlighted the band’s versatility.

On the soulful ‘Saving All My Sinning’; and folk-flavoured ‘Mistakes’, vocalist Rachael Price exercises a range and preciseness that is rarely seen in popular music today. These are also among LSD’s more thoughtful, musing songs – beneath the light-heartedness and flippancy of course.

An honorable mention must also go to an inventive rendition of Lennon’s ‘Broken Glass’; with an a capella style chorus.

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Despite the consummate musicianship, however, there was a mismatch between the aural and visual offerings. The Empire building is a charming period theatre, with both an expansive dance floor in below the stage and galleries high above. Performance Reviewed was initially seated in the latter, with prime viewing of what sounded like a hyperactive, rabble-rousing entertainment.

Yet the theatrics, overwrought yet fundamental to mainstream music, were minimalist at best here. Kearney, and Mike Calabrese (drums), were particularly animated on their instruments – and also mostly out of view. Price is an admirable showrunner, but on this occasion she was working with a rather stiff crowd. (An early attempt to get the crowd to sing along, on the call-response chorus of the funky song ‘Got Me Fooled’, was a non-starter).

As plush and comfortable as our seats were, it just felt wrong to be watching this energetic music being belted out below us, vaguely wriggling and foot-tapping to the beat. Could you imagine someone going to a Chuck Berry, and thinking ‘what I really need is a chair’?

Perhaps the fault was of our own making. My friend and I eventually made our way down to the dance floor and, here, got a better sense of what Lake Street Dive is all about . As the band reached the finale with ‘Call of Your Dogs’, a groove reminiscent of the Bee-Gees greatest hits, the Performance Reviewed team let loose and rocked our inner side ponies. For me, Lake Street Dive hits all the right notes. You might not get the same kick out of their nostalgic genre-bending and pastiche, but they are undeniably very, very good at what they do.

Their live performances only up the ante and the energy, at least musically. If you are persuaded to check them out their future shows, do remember to put on your dancing shoes and limber up; and if there is any seating, skip it.

 

Words: Charles Conway

 

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