Thursday, 18 October 2012

London, Newquay & Meeting Shepard Fairey!

So I spent as much time on the tubes getting from Heathrow to Dave's flat as it took to fly from Aberdeen to London. Welcome to the big smoke! But to be fair it was a pretty long trip to Shoreditch and after the flight I didn't mind sitting chilling out for a bit. I did however get worried as I pulled into White Chapel and realised my phone was about to die. A few failed phone attempts later and kaput!  From here on it was relying on my pigeon like homing senses to find Dave's flat. I knew it was beside the Tonybee Hall so if I could find that then I was safe. Of course I went the wrong way and ended up on Brick Lane where I spotted the chap from The Curious Incident stage show speaking to a bouncer, first minor celebrity spotting! With in 30 minutes I was knocking at Dave's door and being introduced to his beautiful lady friend Emma.

The chat instantly turned to party and we set off for Kingsland Road! Upon stepping out of the taxi I was introduced to Emma's equally as stunning sister Chay and her friend Felix, who happened to be in Basement Jaxx. After some twoing and frowing we made a decision to join the non que que for The Nest. After waiting an obscene amount of time and watching superstar dj's like Skream just walk in we finally managed to get to the front of the que. And then nothing, for maybe 30 minutes and finally we were granted entry to this haven of sweat and party people. It was only when we checked the board did we realise it was the venues second birthday party with dj sets from The Juan Maclean, Skream and Busy P! The music was pretty party tastic and kept me in a sweat for a good few hours before we decided it was time to pay our respects to Ali Ababs take away and hit the road home.


Day 2 brought on a fuzzy head and a desire to meet Jon Burgerman. Thanks to the wonders of facebook I found out the man himself would be signing books in central London. Armed with the knowledge that he loves cakes I set off on my mission to swap a raspberry tart for a Burgerman illustration. However upon arriving at the book signing all we found were piles of My American Summer all signed by Jon, but no Jon in sight! Sadly I picked up a copy of his latest tome and headed for the check out, where to my suprise I see Jon walking towards me! I hesitantly called his name, recieved a startled stare back and explained my intentions. Jon was kind enough to draw a cake on my reciept for the tart, a fair swap although I still think I got the better end of the deal. Jon was really nice and seemed genuinely touched by the gift, a great start to the day!


Next we paid a visit to Slam City Skates, whose exterior walls are plastered with artwork by Phil Frost, who's work I recognised from the DJ Shadow's Preemptive Strike album. After drooling over the Slam City x Vans Collab shoes we headed over to Hyde Park for a stroll to the top of the hill, you get quite an impressive view from the top and its well worth the hike.


Eventually we went to Dave's to relax before heading out to see Apparat at the South Bank Center. This was my second attempt at seeing Apparat live before they shut themselves away in a studio, my dream for the year which I thought had been dashed when Bloc Weekend got cancelled in July. In total ill have traveled about 2000 miles to see them! Later that evening we took our seats in the almost sold out auditorium and waited for what was to be one of the best live concerts I've ever witnessed.

Opening with Your House Is My World left me a little bit suprised being the last song from The Devils Walk and a song I've come to associate with my friend who's no longer here. Safe to say the rendition was so beautiful that I ended up in tears. This became a common factor during the gig, and having Row D tickets meant we could almost touch the band, the perfect view for such an amazing gig. Another special moment came when the band played Rusty Nails from the Moderat (Mode Selector x Apparat) album, which features Sasha on vocals. I still packed all the punch of the original but also added something extra that only a live performance can do! The Devils Walk has become such a special album to me and seeing it performed live really has made my year. Song of Los took on a new intensity, Candil De La Calle had the entire room swaying and set closer Black Water really just blew everyone away "I'm floating in black water, to another surging sea, to another surging sea"! After giving the band a standing ovation we regrouped and relived our highlights, the communal feeling being we'd all just witnessed something truelly special!


A bus ride later and we find ourselves wandering around Vauxhall looking for a place to get a drink. The first establishment turned out to be a Turkish / Greek cafe bar with full on Salsa motions going off on the dance floor, the average age being in the over 50's mark. Eventually we headed along to Fire where Apparat just happened to be doing a dj set! Well as I waited for George to pick up his tickets I spot the keyboard and cello players from the band waiting to get in. I expressed my gratitude to them for the amazing gig and headed inside to find my friends. Upon finding them they quickly ran for the toilets, leaving me standing alone out side. And lucky they did, as I looked up I see the main man from Apparat standing before me, dressed in his distinctive goblin hoody. Well I couldn't help myself so I walked up and again expressed my gratitude for the gig and just let him know how much the album means to me. He seemed quite humbled by my words and was happy to sign my ticket. My friends returned just in time to see him walk off in search of a drink and the turntables!

We stumbled around and finally found the right tunnel where Apparat would be playing and found a rather cool guy called Amarali playing a live set. The perfect way to start round two of what was quite an amazing night! The Apparat dj set was really good but I knew it wouldn't compare to the live set, didn't stop me getting up on a speaker and dancing like there's no tomorrow though! Eventually we decided it was home time, around 4am, clubs shut a lot later in London, but not before everyone got their photo taken with Apparat, while I stood outside waiting for them like a plum. Never mind, I have the memories all the same.


Day 3, Sunday brought a day of rest. A quick wander around Brick Lane spotting some art by She One and a few others from the Futurism 2.0 show, a beautiful Sunday roast with Dave and his friends and finally a 7 hour bus ride to Newquay. I can safely say its the worst journey I have ever endured. Safe to say I shall never be taking that bus again!


Day 4 only started after getting some shut eye at Nash manor. Helen kindly let me rest up before we set off in search of breakfast, at 1pm. We checked out the (Hippy cafe) where we had to wait a ridiculously long time to get fed. We walked up the big hill to Mats Hostel where I would be spending the night and made our way along to Fistral beach. The fog hung low but the waves still looked impressive. As I looked into the distance I couldn't help but recognise the Headland hotel, the setting for the classic film adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches! I wanted to go find them but alas, being a grown up I wouldn't have been able to tell one from Adam. Eventually we headed along to the Watershed, Newquay's coolest surf shop / cafe / gallery by a country mile! The guys were kind enough to loan me an old wetsuit, combined with the foamy board I borrowed from the hostel I was all set to make another dream come true, surfing in Newquay! We set off from the shop with James, part owner of the Watershed and all round top guy and crabbed our way over to Fistral bay. After a few hours being bashed about and seeing the fading light we made our way back to the shop to drop off boards and settled in for a quite evening. Much needed after the past 3 days!


Day 5 brought clearer sky's and some family time. The reason for my trip to Newquay was to see Helen before she began her 3 year round the World trip, also a chance to meet her infamous twin sister. We grabbed a spot of lunch at Cafe Irie which was pretty amazing and the comfy seats had me almost sleeping! They also had some art work on display by Toby Ray, mixing found wood with seascapes and stencils, the Ralph Meets A Moomin piece being a favourite!

We managed to borrow a Penny Nikel board from Watershed which meant we could all skate around town and bomb hills in the car park. I managed to bomb one hill a little too fast and almost ended up totaling a parked car, I believe had I hit the vehicle it would have been a right off! luckily I skimmed past the back and then decided to never skateboard while on holiday ever again! My NYC near death experience should have been enough! The Watershed also houses a lovely coffee shop up stairs, the walls of which currently show the work of Leon Thompson. Rather nice wave inspired repeat patterns adorn the walls, all for sale with the proceeds going towards a flight to Australia where Leon has a beau waiting for him to join her so if you like the work maybe purchase a piece, help a mans dreams come true?

After a lovely tea with the Nash family we cruised along to Fistral bay for one last look before hitting the pub. Fistral is such a beautiful bay, a surfers paradise but I don't think I've ever seen so many people in the water! A few casual drinks with new friends and old really helped prepare me for the next epic bus journey back to London. I was rather sad to be leaving so soon but I was chuffed I got to see Helen before her own big adventure began (she will be in Bangkok as I type this) and felt like I'd made some good friends in Newquay so a return trip shall be planned for next year!

Day 6 started with the bus ride back to London, the return was a little easier going but still never taking that God forskaken bus again! When I arrived at 6am I had a sudden realisation that Dave would probably be asleep after going to see Radiohead at the 02 Arena so I decided to head off on a tube adventure which brought me to Finsbury Park. Just in time for the sunrise. So I spent a good hour walking around the gentle hills admiring the lush trees and watching the insane joggers and yoga buffs. I even spotted what I thought was a tramp doing Tai Chi, turns out she was just stretching before getting into it.


Eventually I got to Dave's, refreshed then hit up Brick Lane for one of the infamous Brick Lane bagels. Cheese & Bacon sorted me out and we headed further up Brick Lane to the flower market. An entire street is taken over and all manner of flowers and plants are sold. I also stumbled across the Nelly Duffy which specialises in contemporary / street art prints and books. There's always so much to see and do around the Brick Lane / Shoreditch area you could really spend a week and still not do everything. As night time came I made plans to meet up with Tom and found myself standing out side an old meat factory in Dalston. With no way of contacting my man inside I was left standing for a few minutes before a gold toothed cleaner opened the door. I quickly followed him inside and asked if he knew where the Just Jam party would be? "Oh its just back there mate where that girl is". Nice one!

After passing through a pretty cool screen printing studio I found myself in a little side room painted all blue. This is because they film the Just Jam dj vj sets in this room and Tom aka Lockah just happened to be playing at The New British x Just Jam 75 take over! Imagine the boiler room but in a smaller space with less hipsters. I was actually hoping to get to do both that night as a friend tried to get us into the Four Tet x Caribou Boiler Room but it was impossible. But once the music started pumping it didn't matter where we were because the vibe in the room was banging and seeing all the up and coming producers step up to play their sets was pretty dope, but I must say Tom really showed some skills with his cutting and scratching on the turntables and played a pretty solid set, which is available to view below. Keep an eye out for some cheeky Aberdeen scamp at the 27.40 mark! Aberdeen crew in the house indeed, especially with Offshore bringing the beers!



Day 7 started a bit groggy after partying it up at Just Jam and the after party. But I was excited about the prospect of meeting one of my favourite artists, Shepard Fairey (Obey)! Martin had informed me that Shepard was painting a mural right out side his office and thought it would be a great chance to meet one of my hero's! So I dashed back to Dave's, got cleaned up and quickly made my way along to Ebor street but the mural had been completed. Martin had another lead though, a second mural was being painted just around the corner so we went to check it out, but no Shepard in sight. Instead we headed along to The Breakfast Club to get a tea and a posh sausage sandwich.

I must admit I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't get to meet Shepard as I think you get these moments of luck and coincidence and you have to make the most of them, I mean its not every day your in the same post code as one of your creative hero's. All I wanted to really do was just say how much I loved his work and how inspirational it is. So as I made my way back down Brick Lane I had an idea, I'd go past Stolen Space and ask for him, I'd just pretend I was supposed to be meeting him for lunch as I figured no one would be any the wiser.Thankfully the door was open and as I walked in, I was confronted by the man himself, standing speaking to one of his helpers. I was taken aback and stood frozen to the spot, watching the giant works being hung all around. Then "Can I help you mate" from the girl on reception, "um yeah...... I just wanted to say hi to Shepard and tell him how much I love his work, I'm leaving tomorrow so gonna miss the show and thought I'd just say hi and thanks". Shepard just looked at me blankly for a minute then said thanks.

What followed was really amazing, he took me over to the custom Obey 7" singles with hand cut and sprayed covers and began to tell me about the work! He told me a little bit about DJ Z - Trip making a special Sound & Vision mix for the show, about some of his favourite bands and showed me round the works being hung in the smaller space. After chatting for 5 minutes he suggested I take some Obey stickers as he had to get back to hanging the work. When I walked out of the gallery I was almost in a daze, people say you shouldn't meet your hero's as they will disappoint you but with Shepard I don't think it could have been any better, getting a private tour and a decent chat! I did tell him to visit Scotland, to check out the Recoat Gallery and Mark Lyken to which he answered "I'm acquaintances with Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand and he said he would give me a tour of Glasgow so maybe one day" ha! And I got my photo wearing my WLD WLVS tee, big up to the gang!


As I walked back towards Brick Lane I spotted another space full of photographs, a pop up exhibition. Organised by Gasket Gallery the show was entitled Adrift and featured some really great work from a host of International Photographers who really pushed the theme to its limits! I guess being Scottish you get used to seeing these samey nice landscapes which are nice, but they don't set the mind on fire. The gents invigilating the show were wondering if I had a favourite and I think all the work was great but Paul Smith, Lena Hald, Simon Rowe and Isodoro Ramirez's work really stood out, click their names and take the plunge to read some interviews with each of them.


Next stop was a quick tour of Tate Britain. Frieda kindly gave me a whirlwind tour and a catch up, she's currently working for Tate and seems to be enjoying every minute of it! Walking through Tate Britain its almost hard to concentrate because there's so many amazing works of art, many of which I didn't get a second glance at but one painting did hold my attention, 'Fishermen at Sea' and 'A Disaster at Sea' by Joseph Mallord William Turner. After looking at the on line collection you realise there's a lot of classical British paintings in the Tate collection but its seeing them in real life, seeing the canvas that's as big as a living room, the colours almost as fresh as the day they were painted, that's how these paintings should be seen, not on a screen as it will never do them justice! I wish I'd had more time to properly appreciate the work but its top of my list to do next time I visit!


So a pretty intense and busy trip. After spending some time in the city, some time in the country, time with friends and time alone, it was time to head home. Home to the familiar surroundings, the friendly faces, the lovely Scottish accents (You do miss that in London) and the prospect of work on Monday. But its not all bad, sometimes you need to leave a place, even just for a week to realise how special it is. They say home is where the heart is and I tend to agree, even if it is rainy old Aberdream!

P.s. Fashion tip for 2013, Medieval  all the way! Big love to everyone who made the trip so much fun!