Sundara Karma – Live at Brixton O2 Academy

Reading four-piece Sundara Karma played their biggest ever headline show on 5th October to a delirious crowd at Brixton O2 Academy. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Oscar Pollock, drummer Haydn Evans, bassist Dom Cordell, and guitarist Ally Baty, the indie pop/rock band has been making music since the tender age of fourteen.

With support from Willie J. Healey and The Magic Gang, the quartet kicked off their gig with gothic number ‘Another Word for Beautiful’, before launching into the more upbeat crowd pleasers ‘A Young Understanding’ and ‘Loveblood’.

The evening saw the band play the entire ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ album, intertwined with a few old favourites such as ‘Flame’, ‘Run Away’ and ‘In the Night’; much to the delight of their captivated fans, who sang along with Pollock word for word on almost every track. The androgynous frontman even jumped into the crowd during ‘Vivienne’.

“Is heaven such a fine thing?” Pollock sang on ‘Olympia’, bathed in the blue luminescence of the stage, which shifted to red as the gig progressed, three white orbs glowing behind him. 

Ending their set with ‘Explore’, Drummer Haydn Evans cast his sticks into the crowd before the band exited the stage to a fittingly roaring applause.

Sundara Karma’s lyrics might be about the trials and tribulations of youth, but their evolved sound offsets their young years. Filled with entrancing guitar riffs and soaring vocals, a live show with them is not to be missed.

Words Aimee Phillips

London Fashion Week Ss18, Backstage With Steven Tai

Review: Miss Polly Rae’s ‘Between the Sheets’ at Underbelly Festival

polly rae between the sheets underbelly 2017

I’m a huge fan of Polly, the woman beside me says: she’s the best in the business. We’re sitting on the far left of a crowded semi-circle that cups the stage. I can’t hear her exacts words, which are drowned out by both the frank invitations of Khia’s My Neck, My Back and the murmuring crowd around us.

For Underbelly Festival’s debut season, Miss Polly Rae reprises her popular show Between the Sheets with new and exclusive material. Within a cavernous spiegeltent, festooned with lights and disco balls, the lovely MC and her colourful troupe celebrate perversion, outlandish desires, and love in the 21st century. Although advertised as cabaret, the show is more a heady mixture of burlesque, striptease and variety.

Soon the lights are killed and the tent goes pitch black – save for a white, glowing sheet in front of the catwalk. Behind it lies a scene of men and women, angelically silhouetted but suggestively posed. The light flickers softly, and each time the scene shifts: the result is a kind of orgiastic moving picture. It’s a clever little teaser for what proves to be a most excellent and myriad light show.

polly rae beneath the sheets underbelly festival 2017 troupe

The troupe makes a steamy entrance.

A lithe figure, purple skinned with neon hair and lips, struts out of the darkness and across the dim stage. Beau Rocks starts us off with a straightforward, purely sensuous dance routine. It feels like a retro sci-fi mixture of burlesque and rave, with a lush chair routine to really get your rocks off. Between the Sheets is very much a millennial production – from the selection of predominantly 90s popular music, down to the costuming.

Beau less than subtly finishes up by pouring glowing, multicolored paint all over herself. After the applause a sultry voice emerges from the audience. Miss Polly Rae, from where I’m sitting, appears to be wreathed by rays of golden light. She slinks towards the stage, flirting and quipping with audience members along the way, as she introduces herself and the show to newcomers. Rae sweetly explains that we are between her sheets – her world of fantasy and desire.

The acts get along at a brisk pace. Most are elaborate stripteases, varying between pastiche or parody, with suitably elaborate outfits. If they aren’t especially sophisticated, one is easily distracted by both the dazzling lights and the troupe’s physical sensuousness. The women are voluptuous, the men chiseled, and all are very limber. Tom Cunningham and Myles Brown prove to be the mainstay of the show, featuring in at least half of it. They are the most dynamic of the bunch (at least on the ground…) both physically and emotively.

Lily Snatchdragon, as Miss Rae’s long-suffering understudy, provides two coarsely comedic interludes. Her character is a mishmash of Oriental Asian stereotypes – ‘I’m Thai but the kimono is Japanese, deal with it’ – down to the saccharine falsetto. Lily bemoans both her lot in life, (avoiding) to clean up after the rest’s escapades, and her desire for British nationality. The highlight is a very blue parody of I’d Do Anything, including raucous suggestions from backstage. Playing desperation for laughs is a tricky thing, and Lily’s momentum does flag at moments however.

polly rae between the sheets underbelly festival 2017 duo visage

For their enchanting, gravity-defying performance, the lights were turned down low and the music softened.

 

polly rae between the sheets underbelly festival 2017 kitty bang bang

Kitty Bang Bang’s first fire-breathing performance.

Personally, my favourite part of the evening is also the least overtly sexual. Acrobatics partners Duo Visage mesmerise the crowd, almost to complete silence, suspended upon an aerial hoop. Intertwined they perform seemingly impossible feats of contortion and agility, lowering each other down and up and around, all while spinning in the air.

It was a tough one to follow. In barely-there lingerie, Kitty Bang Bang sets the stage aflame – literally so, at the climax – twirling torches and swallowing fire. Yet the striptease and the gyrating almost feels perfunctory here, and definitely a distraction. ‘Pony Play’, with Brown and Cunningham as the stallions and Rae the rider, starts promisingly but ends up feeling a little mechanical.

Wrapping up the show, to everyone’s dismay, Miss Rae proffers one last act. Kitty sweeps the stage again in a flowing black dress, a classic femme fatale, for a jaw-dropping reprise. Stripping the dress away, she climbs into a raised basin of water. I soon receive a light showering, while the Polly fan beside me gets soaked. (It’s sour, she says with a little grimace). Sweat and water dripping down my face, I behold the sexpot – clad in fiery, spinning nipple tassels – getting raunchy and wet inside a giant, also flame-rimmed cocktail glass.

polle rae between the sheets underbelly festival 2017 finale

Polly and the cast, all in fresh outfits, make a sparkling farewell.

Between the Sheets is an extravaganza of earthly delights, both carnal and otherwise. Director/Art Director Laura Corcoran and Klare Wilkinson have put together a fun production that rises above itself. The focus is on striptease, and the cast is very comfortable in their own skin. Yet the show makes a balancing act of titillation, erotica, laughter and serious stagecraft. It doesn’t always work, but what strikes me is how earnest the troupe appear to be.

‘Love is what it’s all about’, Polly Rae declares in the finale. I might even believe her.

 

Words: Charles Conway
Photography: Jason Moon/Underbelly Festival
Originally written for Performance Reviewed

FAULT Magazine Reviews: The Trading House

Summer has finally landed in London, and as promised, FAULT Magazine is putting together our very own ‘Where To Dine Summer 2017’ guide to let you know of all about London’s best restaurants.

We recently visited Trading House to see what it had to offer and despite being in banker central, on entering, we were amazed to discover so much life and soul within the venue. With a live performer and marvellously rich décor, we were off to a good start so let’s dive into the meal!

We began where all good meals should, at the bar, where they have an extensive wine list and even larger (and more fun) cocktail menu. From the offset, the bar staff were ready to make our experience as unique with their cocktail menu which boasts original twists on old English classics. To put this into perspective, they can make five different variations of the world famous mojito from a Spiced Pineapple to a softer tasting Peach & Cardamom variation. It being summer, we opted for their Elderflower Gin Coolers and Karma’s A Bitch cocktail; the latter mixes gin, apricot, homemade karma tea-infused syrup and while I have no idea what karma tea is, it’s certainly delicious.

Their nibbles menu is also sufficient enough if you’re only planning on visiting for a few drinks after work too. Start your evening with crispy whitebait, salt and pepper onion petals, pork crackling and or olives if you’re only popping in for a short amount of time.

For our starters, we were spoiled for choice with Trading House offering scotch eggs, calamari, truffle mushrooms, smoked haddock fondue and many other restaurant favourites. We went for the classic dishes to use as a point of reference and compare them to what we’re used to from another restaurant. With that in mind, we tried the crispy calamari and wings in barbeque sauce which were both to die for. The calamari was coated in Piri Piri salt, and I don’t believe I’ll be able to eat them any other way from now on – a great start!

Moving on to the mains and again, we were very impressed by the comprehensive menu. Don’t be put off if you’ll be dining with less adventurous dinner guests as The Trading House caters for everybody. While the lure of the unknown and adventure might take your fancy, The Trading House also features classic dishes such as fish and chips, flat iron steak sandwiches and pan-fried seabass for those with a less adventurous tongue. We thought it’d make for a better review to go with the more out-there offerings however and lucky for us the menu is a playground for the adventurous diner.

Choosing a main course was difficult, and quite frankly, it begs for a second visit because everything sounds delectable. From the new Orleans inspired, prawn and chicken gumbo to lamb kofta or their selection of pies, all of it looked amazing but what The Trading House is famous for is their Hanging Kebabs so it’d be rude not to!

We opted for the salt and pepper pork belly which arrived on your very own spit with the chips at the bottom ready to soak up any rich and flavoursome sauces which drip upon them. Accompanies with sweet chilli and ginger sauce, the meal was oozing with different flavours not often put together but ones which blend surprisingly well.
Non-meat eaters looking to enjoy Trading House’s hanging kebabs can opt for the halloumi, and falafel kebab alongside garlic butter and cauliflower couscous and if you’re a fish lover, Jerk Salmon alongside rice and peas sounds and looked amazing.

If by chance you can still manage dessert, the white chocolate and peanut butter mousse with chocolate and ginger crumb are as great as it sounds. If you don’t share our sweet tooth, we can with real confidence recommend the cheese board.

We admit when we first heard of the Trading House and it’s location in Bank we were a little worried that we’d find nothing but a tourist trap filled with false charm and unnecessary theatrics but we, in fact, found the complete opposite. The Trading House isn’t a themed restaurant, nor one that tries too hard to force a feeling of exclusivity despite its high-end level of customer service. Their cocktails all come at a fair price and in London, it’s not often you’ll be able to get a three-course meal of this quality at under £30 per head.

The Trading House is a great location for laid back date nights with or casual drinks. What that area of London has been missing for too long is a restaurant that provides excellent customer service without compromising the human touch and charm required. For us, Trading House is the perfect example of how to strike the right balance.

Trading House – one of the finest examples of fresh ideas and exciting cuisine in a part of London that sorely needs it. For us, this is one of 2017’s must visits!

 

 

Bundle of Joy: Burgeoning London-based songstress Joy Crookes Releases Third Single ‘Bad Feeling’

Despite being only 18-years young, seemingly everyone from the established indie blogosphere right through to Brooklyn Beckham are sitting up and taking notice of London-based trip-hop, soul-infused singer, Joy Crookes. Having released 60’s-soul inspired, twilight hour baroque-pop ballads in Sinatra and New Manhattan last year, Crookes releases third single ‘Bad Feeling’, a musical shift towards jazz-enthused, R&B grooves showing a tongue-in-cheek side to the singer who wears a myriad of cultural influences on her sleeve.

Citing a range of genres and artists as seemingly polarising as Lauryn Hill, Nancy Sinatra, The Clash, and Van Morrison as inspirations, Crookes’ has developed a mature, multi-faceted sound which bodes well for her forthcoming debut EP release, produced by Tev’n (SBTRKT, Celeste, Lily Allen). Sold out shows last year included a packed-to-the-rafters Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, with forthcoming gigs at Bushstock Festival in London and a performance at Live Nation’s renowned Source Night on 14th July offering must-see opportunities to see a star in the making.

We recently sat down with Crookes to discuss her intriguing background and how her influences have filtered into a distinctly signature sound.

Joy Crookes Bad Feeling

 

Many people are linking your music so far to Lauryn Hill – would you say that was a fair assessment?

I love Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, Grace Jones. I love artists that seem real or authentic, so I can say I love their authenticity. I wouldn’t say I was directly inspired by Lauryn Hill. I think it’s more complex than saying I’m inspired by one female artist. I think it’s more that people want to understand what you’re about before they listen to you, and sometimes you get comparisons. I never thought I’d be compared with Lauryn Hill, it’s crazy! I grew up on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but I’m from a very eclectic background of music.

What would you say are the most prominent influences from your background?

I’m from South London, which is just a melting pot of cultures. I’m part of one of the biggest Latino communities in London, which is linked to Caribbean and West African communities, while my Dad is Irish. I’m an ethnic chic so I understand the comparisons with someone like Lauryn Hill, but when I’m making music I tend to think more of Nancy Sinatra and Eartha Kitt. I’m quite an emotional person, and I’ve had things happen with family and mental health issues so I think when you suffer experiences like that from an early age, you observe things differently and it can make you quite mature. You feel ten times more than anyone else feels at the time.

Tell us a bit more about the creative process behind your latest single ‘Bad Feeling’?

It’s very tongue in cheek and I wrote the chorus part in that vein. Eartha Kitt is incredible and she’s so cheeky, when she does her videos she looks like a lion or a tiger, so Bad Feeling was much the same in that it was a cheeky song and it was done very quickly. It’s a surface level song, you know, we’ve all been through it. It’s not about immigration or anything, it’s simple. I wrote it during a writing camp and there was a funny moment during the experience that I exaggerated and made it about myself.

You hear a lot of songs taking about relationships where the protagonist is worried the other person is going to leave them, while your take on romance on ‘Bad Feeling’ is more about not being sure of yourself.

I am such a cheeky character but I don’t think you grasp that on New Manhattan or Sinatra. New Manhattan reflects more my Irish emotional side, while Bad Feeling represents the charm and whit of my mum who moved over from Bengal when she was just sixteen. She inspired me to be memorable and I think when you meet people like that you get excited, so I wanted to reflect that side of my personality in the song, and show people that I can be funny and quite cheeky as well as being emotional.

 

Going back to previous releases such as New Manhattan and Sinatra, there seems to be a lot of dreamy, emotive, Lana Del Rey inspired imagery on those songs, was this a conscious direction in sound?

The one thing I can say about Lana is that if David Lynch made music the result would be her, with the themes of drugs and sex. I’m hugely into Massive Attack, as I grew up listening to the whole Bristol music scene. Their song ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ is a good example, where they have a soul singer with an orchestra and Latin percussion backing her. There is so much going on and so many influences in their music that I couldn’t replicate everything. New Manhattan is a commercially sounding track, but the guitar does have that Lynchian/Nancy Sinatra sound, while the drum beat is straight out of a Massive Attack song.

It’s amazing to be compared to people like Lana Del Rey because that means people are trying to understand the music from a commercial degree, but then if you look in more detail and learn the reasons behind why I added certain influences then it’s a little more complex. I’m 18 years old and a girl from South London who is sponge when it comes to life experiences, so anything my family or my boyfriend says, or even the music I listen to has an impact, so I’m as much of a melting pot as my location and cultural upbringing.

What’s the story behind New Manhattan?

It’s a place in Brussels that I visited with my boyfriend, and I just felt compelled to write an observational story about the area, which quickly developed into a love song. There was a red-light district, so that’s where the lyric ‘I took a picture with my eyes, and I’m frightened of girls in plastic heights’ came from. It hurt to be in an area like that and realise that a country home to the European Commission can also have streets that are filled with hookers and others which are family street markets in contrast, so it was quite difficult for someone who hadn’t been in an area like that before. The general idea with the song was that you can be anywhere and be comfortable as long as you have the right person next to you.

Although it’s still early days, what do you hope to achieve in music?

I would like to be known as iconic, and to feel like I’ve made a difference to people. My favourite subject at school was history, and I had this brilliant history teacher who taught me about different cultures and mental health, which was quite inspirational while growing up in Elephant and Castle at the time. The main issue I remember her talking about was American history and the misuse of power, which can happen to everyone no matter how big or small. I always wanted to write songs from the perspective of being a woman with colour and how it has shaped my life.

Words Jamie Boyd

 

Stream Joy’s new track BAD FEELING below:

Lights Of Soho X Fenwick Of Bond Street unveil ‘Women in Neon’ Exhibition

 

FAULT Favourite creative venue, Lights Of Soho have brought their creative nous to the high street with their latest partnership retail behemoth – Fenwick Bond Street.

Entitled ‘Women in Neon’ all works on display were created by female artists. While the whole collection of works can be viewed on the first floor – LOS have also taken over the window display at the street level where Federica Marangoni’s ‘Art Has No Sex’ neon unashamedly illuminates their message.

While all artists have worked with Neon for this exhibition, they all hail from different disciplines and creative backgrounds, the display is fluid and stands as a testament to how both individualism and collaboration can come together to create a true work of art.

“Women in Neon” will be taking a four week residency on the 3rd floor of Fenwick of Bond Street on 20th March and all pieces displayed will be available to purchase.

Read more info on the artists displaying work below:

Linda Bracey is creative director of God’s Own Junkyard, founded by her late husband Chris Bracey. Linda has designed neon artworks and studio ranges for several exhibitions at the Lights of Soho gallery. She has also curated an exhibition of her late husband’s artworks in various London gallery spaces.

Lauren Baker is a British contemporary multidisciplinary artist who exhibits internationally. Her work explores the fragility of life, energy-fields, the after-life and other dimensions. She’s created installations at The V&A, Tate Britain, ran an art workshop at Tate Modern and directed the windows of Selfridges.

Rebecca Mason is a UK based artist using light to convey the darkness within human life, existence and emotion. Rebecca has exhibited in various UK locations including restaurants, bars and galleries.

Dianna Chire is a London based artist. Her practice frequently employs visual puns and bawdy humour as well as a commentary on female identity. Dianna works in mediums of sculpture, performance and neon.
Federica Marangoni is a Venetian artist and designer, working internationally has researched on various materials and technological media throughout her career and has exhibited in many international museums including MoMA (New York 1980), Peggy Guggenheim Foundation (Venice, 2001) and La Triennale di Milano (2016)

FAULT Magazine Behind The Scenes with Dreamgirls star Joe Aaron Reid

 

 

As one of the world’s most iconic musicals, landing a role in Dreamgirls is a stage actor’s dream gig. The high-octane dance moves, emotional storyline and powerful musical numbers have blown away theatre audiences since the show first premiered back in the early 1980’s. Dreamgirls gained further worldwide acclaim thanks to the 2006 Hollywood blockbuster release of the same name starring vocal powerhouses Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson. Today, there are few who don’t know the story of the Dreamgirls journey and fewer who aren’t familiar with the iconic ‘And I Am Telling You’ musical number midway through the show. Returning to London’s Savoy Theatre late 2016, audience’s expectations from the whole cast have been high, to say the least.

With a gruelling eight shows a week schedule, FAULT wanted to find out just what it takes for cast member Joe Aaron Reid to prepare for the big stage. Playing the business minded and (sometimes) antagonist Curtis Taylor Junior  (played by Jamie Foxx in the 2006 movie) – we find out just what it’s like to be part of such an iconic production.

 

 

FAULT: Did you know much about the character of Curtis before you took the role?

Joe: I knew what Jamie Foxx had done, I didn’t know much more than that though. I auditioned for the movie many years ago but for the role of Cici as I was much younger at the time. I didn’t have much connection with Curtis until auditions came around this time and I realised it was far more fitting for me.

 

The Jamie Foxx version is very famous – does that make it harder for you to make the character your own?

I think anytime there’s a movie of something that you can replay and watch over and over, often times it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, that’s just what people know and as an actor, it’s hard to force yourself into someone elses perceptions. The great thing about this production, often times people who love the movie have come up to me and said they love the production so much because they can appreciate both independently and that is very reassuring.

Is there a big difference between your version of Curtis and the ones we say in the movie?

I’m a bit younger than Jamie Foxx is in the movie which helps because we start so early in the story to when it finishes. Especially with act 1 – we can explore their younger years which isn’t really touched on in the movie so you have a longer story arch for all the characters. We all start as naïve and ambition young people and so we can show a broader character development.

 

Are you playing Curtis as less the Hollywood villain because of this?

It’s a mixed bag – I just try to be true. Some days it can be an ambitious portrayal and other it’s pure villainy. It’s an interesting role and I’m learning from the audience that no matter how I play Curtis, they’re looking for a bad guy. Everyone is always onEffie’s side and what’s funny to see is that people forget that Effie is not always easy to work with.

Curtis isn’t innocent but despite always making decisions for the benefit of the whole group, Curtis is always hated! I try to veer my performances towards the ambitious and to make it clear that it’s about survival in the industry and less about the personal feeling. There’s a line in the show which reads ‘It’s business baby’ and with Curtis, it really is about the business over everything.

What about Curtis attracted you to the role?

Curtis was a role that I’ve always had my eye on. He’s a meaty character and the growth he goes through in two hours in realy engaging. To start the show as wide eyes and end the show as broken as he becomes and everything in-between, is an actor’s dream. To be part of a musical with the big performers and performances but to play the person who acts as the glue for all the build up is something that as an actor, I’m lucky to get that.

So opening night comes and the whole cast is ill…

[Laughs] I know right! There have been a lot of people who were ill throughout the whole process. It’s such an iconic show so stress just destroys your immune system. I was fine up until the week before previews and I have two kids who are in nursery and they bring home everything! I ended up having a viral and bacterial infection which wiped me out and two other cast members were also very sick.

I then had to miss the following three shows and I came back and then as luck would have it and I got the neural virus and press was in so I couldn’t pull out. The team were literally following me around with buckets and I was in tears but we all pushed through opening night and then it all fell apart. It hasn’t been easy but we pushed through and it looks as though everyone is on the mend now.

 

What are you looking for when you pick roles to audition for?

Everyone wants the meaty roles; the big songs,  the showy moments, the challenge and the recognitions that come with it. Sometimes you’re blessed with that and sometimes you’re not. In the show before this, I got to play Benny from ‘In The Heights’ and that was a dream role for me. His character is such a huge departure from Curtis because he is a young lover who just wants to have success and love the girl he loves and when he can’t do that, he just lets it go. With Curtis, he’s also misunderstood but he still ploughs through anything in his way.  The difference in character there is a great thing for me to play. When people say they’ve seen me in both they always say “it’s great to hear you play such different characters.”

Is the stage where your heart is and where you want to stay or do you think you’ll go into film and television?

I think my heart will always lie here. When I was a kid, movies and musicals were so my “thing” and it’s certainly in my heart but in NYC I was able to work on a tv show and I’d love to sink my teeth more in there. Not that I want it to take me away from the theatre, I just want to be able to pick and choose where my time is spent especially now I’m older and I have a family.

Finally, what is your FAULT

My FAULT is that I’m a perfectionist. I like things to be perfect all of the time, which I’m fully aware is impossible. As I get a bit older, I’m learning not to be such a control freak but you know what they say.. ”old habits die hard”

Words & Photography: Miles Holder

 

 

 

Fault Magazine Reviews Belstaff LCM SS17 Presentation

 

Taking inspiration from Bruce Brown’s Motorcycle classic, Belstaff decided to bring the dirt track to London with a film-set homage to On Any Sunday, making it a weekend to remember. Heavily influenced by the “King of Cool”, Steve McQueen, the models lazed back on the vintage cars and motor cycles dressed in hand-waxed leather clad and aviator shades. The cast had a carefree attitude exuding off of their rugged exterior – you could almost smell the motor oil radiating off of them. Integral to this collection was the personalisation of the leather jackets and the references to the sun-bleached palette of the film. Recognisable personas from the track were replicated in this collection: Romero with a diamond hand-waxed leather application and Mashburn’s black and yellow colour schemes. These pieces celebrated the pioneering era of 1970s racers as Frederik Dyhr, Belstaff VP Men’s Design explains, “[It] was a defining time for Belstaff because leather manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic were really embracing this idea of personalising leatherwear and so began an era of strong colour direction”.

 

Rough-edged, lived-in looks, rich tobacco tonals and black burnished finishes set the tone for most outfits. Paying tribute to racing as a coveted sport, we saw relaxed open necklines – an ode to the racing shirts of the 1970s. As a nice surprise Belstaff showed us five looks from the Women’s SS17 pre collection, again taking carefree biker-goddess attitudes as well as hand-waxed suede and lightweight straight-leg denim. The show carried on outside thrilling the public with Twelve-time Trial World Champion Dougie Lampkin MBE performing crazy bike stunts a stones throw away from Queen Liz’s 90thbirthday luncheon. A rather noisy, but lovely birthday surprise, we think!

Words: Lizzie Griffin