Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Alternative Press Spring Fair

Wooh, I'm tabling at the Alternative Press Spring Fair Saturday 1st June 11am - 5pm at The Albert.

Come chat to me and see my zines! There will be lots of other rad folk there as well as workshops and screenings and talks and it's totally free to come. I'm gonna do the usual thing and attempt to make a new mini zine in time for it, because there's nowt like the impending doom of a zine fair deadline to get the zine mania going!

Oh and also if you like dancing and divas (who doesn't?) I will be heading to the Divas Dead and Dying club night at Resistance Gallery after the zine fair. Come dance with me!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The glowing world of snotboobs and the severed toe

This weekend I went on a tour of the north to see some friends and visit family and while I was there I made a trip to see this amazing exhibition:

 Yiiikes is a brand new art collective formed by the most amazing rad grrrls: Seleena Laverne Daye, Kandy Diamond, and Alison Erika Forde

Alison + Kandy + Seleena are Yiiikes!

Individually, they are completely amazing artists all working in different mediums. The Glowing World of Snotboobs... is their first exhibition as a collective and all the details surrounding the exhibition had been super hush-hush leading up to opening night. I had no idea what to expect from the exhibition. I knew it would be glo in the dark, I knew it would be a mixture of large scale textile pieces incorporating knit and felt, as well as painted pieces, and above all I knew it would be FUN.

We arrived at the Islington Mill where the exhibition was being held and I was so giddy with excitement I thought I was gonna puke. I'd also just eaten a large quantity of cheese so my excited brain and my lactose intolerant tummy were making me frantic.

Only a few people are allowed into the exhibition at one time, so you collect your ticket from Kandy and await your turn. It was like being at a theme park or something, I was THAT excited to just be in a queue! Once we got called in we were instructed to take our shoes off and put on black cloaks and that once we were inside the exhibition we mustn't touch any of the pieces as they were delicate and also we must stick to the path. Shoes off? Cloaks on? Path? This wasn't yr standard art exhibition! Putting my cloak on I felt like I was going to Hogwarts. And then once we were through the black curtain, all was revealed...

Cloaks on, wands out, we're going to Hogwarts. Or maybe not...

Behind the curtain was  a strange dark creppy daydream world which you are fully immersed in. The black cloaks are to keep the room dark and to make you feel part of the daydream world so you aren't distracted by the glow of your own clothes. Inside every single piece glows in the dark. With very little lighting you rely on the brightly coloured gross glo in the dark path which has been painted especially to guide you through this world. And here are just a few of the things you see along your travels (apologies for the crap photos. These pieces are all glo in the dark but unfortunately I couldn't capture the glow and had to turn my flash on to take pictures. You really need to see this for yourself to get the full creepy glow in the dark experience)

Large scale knitted logs with pom pom mold and fungus

Creepy jars with creepy things! Eyeballs! Intestines! Hearts! Goo! The detail on these smaller pieces is AMAZING

A hovering snotboobs bra suspended in the air

Knited and felt mushrooms with pom pom fungus and creepy eyeballs

A gross coloured wishing well.
A severed toe completed with eyeballs and a tongue
Large scale glow in the dark forest scape complete with creepy eyes in the trees watching your every move and branches made of snot boobs.
Felt eyeballs and pom pom mold
Stay on the path kids!
The trees are watching you
HUGE giant felt mushroom
I think we're being watched...
A knitted tree covered in eyeballs, goo, with some knitted intestines at it's feet
A collection of felt mushrooms and pom pom mold

I didn't take pictures of everything, there is much MUCH more to see and you really need to experience it anyway rather than just look at pictures. I saw the exhition twice on opening night and I took in so much more detail the second time round. 

When you come out of the exhibition there's an amazing photo opportunity!

Accompanying the exhibition is a large scale replica of a Garbage Pail Kids sticker which you can stick your head through and become a monster too. Except instead of Garbage Pail Kids, it's Rubbish Bin Kids! Here's me sticking my head through:

 As a souvenir of your trip you can get a printed sticker of yourself as a Rubbish Bin Kid. In fact there's loads of amazing merch:

Yiiikes t-shirts, photobooth stickers, eyeball badges, and an exhibition postcard set. 

As an extra treat for opening night, the Garbage Pail Kids movie is showing all night long on the first floor. Best film EVER. So much snot and vomit and triumph over beautiful people - that's my kinda movie!

I can't say enough about this exhibition. There are plans for it to go on tour and so if it comes to a city near you then make sure you do everything you can to go see it. I'm so damned proud to have such talented friends that can make something so beautiful and big and fun, I wish all art was like this.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Dungeons and Dragons

Today I got the most awesome zine through the post. 

It's written by Emily Tulett who describes the first time she played d&d, how she got into it, why she loves it, and describes her recent d&d campaign with info about her character. 

Emily is using her zine to document d&d and hopefully future issues will tell us more about her plans to become a DM (dungeon master). You can order it from Emily by emailing her:

I bloody love this zine because I bloody love D&D.

I had my first intro to d&d a few years ago through a local comics group that I used to attend. I went to a session where I was told how to make my own character and was given an overview of the game, but I found it boring and hard. I didn't know many of the people that were playing, I couldn't understand all the rules, and it seemed so complex and difficult that I never returned past my first session.

Last year a bunch of my friends who had never played d&d before decided they wanted to give it a go and we began to seek out a DM who would help guide a bunch of total newbies.

We wanted to play D&D for many reasons: we were broke and wanted some stay at home indoors type fun, we are geeks, we never stopped playing lets pretend in our heads, and the idea of being someone else, someone awesome and tough and kick-ass, sounded like the most fun ever. We knew nothing about d&d and hoped that wouldn't hold us back.

Luckily we knew someone who was mega experienced with RPGs and would DM a session for us. It was THE MOST FUN EVER! That first session lasted 8 hours and I honestly could have kept going. 

The basic premise is that your characters have all kinds of different abilities. You and your friends work as a team, it's not about winning as individuals, it isn't that kind of game, it's all about the teamwork. We work best when we have a mixture of roles in the group. Some of us are good at fighting, some of us are good at communicating, some of us are good at planning, and some of us are good at magics and healing. You pretty much always need a healer in your group cuz yr gonna take some hits and yr group's healer can fix you up in no time. 

You roll dice to make decisions, either about your character skills, or about your actions, or about your attacks - the dice decide everything. You go on quests, you fight bad guys, and you try to stay alive basically. All you need is some dice and a pen and paper and yr good to go!

I think the reason why I like playing d&d so much is because you can't bullshit your way through it. There's no being cool in d&d. You have to totally immerse yourself in a world of make believe, you have to care about your characters and your quests, you have to be earnest otherwise it just doesn't work.

I also just love hanging out with my friends, eating all the food in the world and having the most epic adventures. The last time we played we fought a dragon for about 2 hours and I came away feeling so knackered and hyper as though I'd actually been beating the shit out of a dragon for real. Also our DM, Lloyd is amazing and prepares endless supplies of snacks and fizzy pop and sweets for us each time so we fight dragons while off our faces on e-numbers. 

My character is called Bruce (obviously). We've just started a new session so my scores and my powers arent' that great yet, I need to go on way more quests and battle way more shit til I am fully awesome. But for now I'm a Razorclaw Shifter. I'm an Avenger. I'm pretty awesome at acrobats, perception, and religion. I'm terrible at intimidating people and diplomacy skills, but I can beat the shit out of a lot of things! I have cool utility powers like the Aspect of the Dancing Serpent which means I can take free actions at the end of my turns to do extra cool stuff, and I have cool magic items like the Brooch of No Regrets which means if a member of my group fails to roll something I can say 'halt, I have the Brooch of No Regrets' which allows them to roll again so we can totally go and kick ass.

I can't recommend d&d enough to people. I'm totally hooked, I just wish I could play it more as it often takes a lot of planning to get my d&d gang in the same room at the same time. Just get yourself some dice and read the D&D Player's Handbook.

 You can find this in most public libraries, it's super popular! Find a group of friends to play with, and find someone to be your DM and away you go. Also look out for local DM groups which you can join. Comic shops, game shops, and libraries often have games going on.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A beginner's guide to Bruce

Since writing zines about Bruce Springsteen, I get asked a lot by people to make Bruce mix tapes, or recommend albums from his gigantic back catalogue. I guess they wanna hear what I hear. Just so you know - this is my all time favourite thing to be asked so please ask me! Anyway I made a Bruce mix for you, it's at the bottom of the page so scroll down if you don't wanna read the rest of my chatter.

I totally understand if Bruce aint yr thing. I didn't think he was mine to be honest. There is nothing else in my record collection that sounds remotely like Bruce. Everything in my record collection has a female vocalist and some shouting, mostly bands from Glasgow, and usually with a keyboard and/or drum machine. Did I ever think I'd be the kind of person tapping my toes to a 5 minute guitar solo in the 1978 live version of Prove it all Night? No not at all, I can barely stomach a guitar solo from my favourite band Sleater Kinney during The Woods era, so this doesn't really make any sense!

Chances are if I make you a Bruce mix tape, you probably aren't going to fall madly in love with him the way I did. You might not hear the things that I do, and you might not even get all the way through listening to it.It might bore you. It might not be your thing. That's totally fine, I still want to make you a Bruce mix, cuz even if you just end up not minding maybe one song then that'll do for me.

Getting into Bruce is a bit intimidating, where do you start? The man's had 17 studio albums, not to mention all the live stuff, rarities, and demos floating around. His music goes through periods and if you like one album, it's no guarantee that you'll like anything else he's made as it could sound totally different.

Here's a handy chart:

As a rule of thumb I usually recommend one of three albums to people: 

Born to Run

Cuz it's famous and chances are you've probably heard a few tracks off it already so it won't feel that unfamiliar to you. It's a near perfect album, it's full of songs about adventure and escape and running away and leaving yr small shitty town behind and looking for fun and friends and love and stuff. It's a bit epic if you like that sort of thing.

Born in the USA

Again, it's dead famous so you'll probably have already heard a big chunk of this before without realising. It's the most accessible of his albums to listen to, it's full of pop songs, it's super danceable, and yet each of those 3 minute perfect pop songs have quite dark and incredibly sad lyrics.

Darkness on the Edge of Town 

I don't know why I keep recommending this album, cuz I've never had a success story with it! This is my all time favourite Bruce Springsteen album. This album is the complete opposite to Born to Run. Instead of escape and optimism and adventure there is just grief and anger and staying put in your shitty little town. Instead of fun times and love and friendship, there's just losers and heartbreak and a never ending cycle of shit. It's perfect!

But if you can't stomach a full album, here's a handy Bruce mix I made! I tried to make this as accessible as possible, no weird stuff. There's some obvious hits on here as well as some beautiful album tracks and I tried to represent a lot of his stuff in one go with at least one song from each of his albums* which is a tricky thing to do so it's a mish mash of old style rock n roll, big epic sounds, sparse acoustic songs, and 3 minute pop hits. If you want more, let me know and I'll happily make you a mix based on stuff you wanna hear. And I won't include the '78 live version of Prove it All Night unless you specifically request it. To be fair, it is a really really good guitar solo, and I don't say that shit lightly.

Click on the dancing Bruce to hear the mix!

 photo dancinginthedarkgif_zpsc5833ba2.gif

* No songs from Working on a Dream or Seeger Sessions have been included because I wouldn't do that to you. I'm a bad Bruce fan and don't like those albums one bit, sorry. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Spotlight on a zinester: Seleena Laverne Daye

I promise I'm not gonna turn this blog into a cheap excuse to wish happy birthday to my bffs, honest. This just so happens to be a spotlight on my favourite ever zinester and would ya know it, it just so happens to be her birthday!

This is Seleena Laverne Daye:

Creator of all my favourite zines from Sugar Paper to E.M.O to I Wear This On My Sleeve to lesser known zines like Kandy and the Casio Kids, and the short lived but utterly amazing The Day Bob...

I met Seleena when I was 15 back in 1999. I lived in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. I was a weird shy kid and didn't have any friends. I wrote to teletext asking anyone who liked the band Bis to write to me so I could at least have some penpals. I then got this letter from a girl called Seleena.

She seemed like the coolest person alive and so I started writing to her. We wrote letters to each other almost every week, sometimes every day at the height of our emo. In the school holidays and on weekends when I could afford it after saving up my not-even-minimum wage from my part time job at Shoe Fayre, I'd get a train and cross the pennines and go to Manchester to visit her. It was the first time I'd ever left Dewsbury by myself and it was exciting. When I first met Seleena I was super shy and quiet. Seleena is loud and exciting and it felt like a mancunian Rayanne Graff was shouting about Bis and Placebo in my face. I thought she was AWESOME and I was in AWE. 

We stayed friends and somewhere along the road we started writing zines together. I started writing Angel Food which ran for a few issues and then started writing Go Lola. Seleena was a regular contributor and in fact my only readership for a few other zines that I made. She was the one that suggested writing a zine in a first place. Zines were our lives. After writing and drawing stuff for Angel Food we decided to put out a joint zine together, the short lived (but brilliant) 'The Day Bob...' - the title was a total teenage inside joke which nobody found funny except for us. I did't have time to write for 'The Day Bob' as well as my new zine 'Go Lola' so Seleena took on the zine as a solo writer and the rest is history. My zine output in comparison to Seleena's is pathetic, she's the most prolific zinester I know. As well as being the greatest maker of mix tapes the world has ever seen. 

In 2001 we went to Ladyfest Glasgow together which was the most life changing weekend of our entire lives. We came back fully inspired and knew that we wanted to do something. After reading a super inspiring article in Kitty Magik zine, we formed the very first UK Radical Cheerleaders and performed the following year at Ladyfest London 2002. 

We were awesome. We then went on to play with all our favourite bands like The Gossip, Bis, Bangs, Motormark, Valerie, Blue Minkies, Velodrome 2000, Flamingo 50. We appeared on the Motormark album and put out our own radical cheerleading album as well as making radical cheerleading zines together. 

I then started to make casio pop songs and started to play in bands like Smartypants, The Booklovers, Cooties Attack, Shrieking Shack Disco Gang etc and while I did this Seleena kept making zine and in the last 15 years she's written more zines than I know what to do with. As well as starting up her own craft shop making jewellery and accessories, while also making merchandise for the band Help She Can't Swim, and also setting up her very own sweet shop selling sweets and zines and her own creations. Oh and did I mention she's also an aritst?

Here she is at the opening of her exhibition earlier this year:

She makes felt pieces based on popular culture and her own imagination. I am in love with the art that she makes and I'm so excited for her upcoming exhibition with her new art collective Yiiikes. You can see more of her art and even buy some of her pieces here:

Seleena is the most fun ever, look at the time we got totally REAL scorpion neck tattoos on our trip to Legoland:

And how about the time I got a text message from Seleena saying 'I've just done something crazy' and it turns out she had booked us tickets to Morrisoncon in Vegas where this totally happened:

Or how about the time Seleena and Kandy made their own Romy and Michelle outfits and performed the Romy and Michelle dance at No Dicks Allowed:

The reason why Seleena is my favourite zinester is that when I read her zines I can hear her voice. She doesn't buy into that fake academic bullshit, she writes as herself. She is genuinely smart and super funny and she is honest. Earlier this year she co-created the new zine Poor Lass with Em Ledger, a new zine focusing on class which is BRILLIANT and is easily zine of 2013. She is my hero, she is the best dancer I've ever seen, and most importantly there's no middle ground with her. She either properly loves things in a totally bonkers over the top amazing way. Or she hates it and wants it to fuck off and die. 

While we don't live in the same city anymore I still get to see her for adventures and we still write to each other, although in long complicated emails about being working class and loving MCR rather than actual letters through the post. It's weird to think that we are both grown ups now and in the 14 years we've known each other we've just got more and more awesome. Our 15 year old selves would frikkin love us. I'm very lucky to know someone as awesome as Seleena, she is my total hero. 

Happy birthday!

You  can buy Seleena's zines here  and read the blog she co-writes with fellow Sugar Paper zinester Kandy, here