Friday, January 29, 2010

The Beautiful Darkness

Mika Going With The Flow

February/March has traditionally been a time to celebrate being LGBT in Aotearoa so it is good to see the addition of the Aroha Festival - between Sydney's Mardi Gras and Auckland's Pasifika Festival - filling in the gap on the bi-monthly calendar as it were.

Driven by legendary cabaret performer Mika, the festival will be launched at the ASB Theatre/Aotea Centre on Friday March 12 with Po | The Beautiful Darkness a 'tribal pop opera' starring Mika in partnership with composer Gareth Farr and the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, under conductor Hamish McKeich. With Japanese dancer Shakti, Indonesian dancer Alfira, aerial artist Shayne Comino and a cast of contemporary and traditional Maori dancers including Nancy Wijohn, Mokoera Te Amo and Mika Haka Youth combining with director Mark James Hamilton - and additional musical director Penny Dodd - the evening looks well-priced and sounds spectacular.

Po | The Beautiful Darkness
ASB Theatre, The Edge
8pm, Friday March 12

Jeneil's Unreal

The latest issue of Love Magazine is set to go on sale in the Northern Hemisphere next week, and the magazine have given the cover featuring Jamaican model Jeneil Williams to to preview. Shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, who appear to be the incumbents at Love, the cover is a stunner and so is Jeneil. Unlike the cheesey Blake Edwards movie of the eighties, sorry Bo Derek, this body really is a perfect 10.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Long before one of New Zealand's favourite daughters Ladyhawke wrote a song called Paris Is Burning, a film maker called Jennie Livingston made one of the finest documentaries of the modern era. Last night our good friend Stefan Knight stayed and brought that doco, Paris Is Burning (1990), with him. It is a documentary about the 'ball" scene in New York in the 1980s that became famous when Malcolm MacLaren released Deep In Vogue and then in 1989 when Madonna released the song Vogue. Aside from being a world-class piece of documentary film making it is an incredible insight into the world of "houses," "children," and the vibrant dance/fashion/lifestyle community of New York's African American gay scene of the time.

The film is set to an ass-wiggling soundtrack that features some of the finest eighties black disco you will hear - even if MFSB's Love Is The Message does dominate a tad too much. Shot on what appears to be reversal film stock, this film does what photography does at it's very best, captures a moment in time, and it deals with issues that the subjects themselves are living and breathing; racism, homophobia, AIDS, gender and poverty. These people are up against the world yet the overall tone is one of sheer emotion and celebration. Captivating and priceless...

Amazing Rajan

The arrival last year of tween fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson and her Style Rookie blog created massive waves throughout the fashion world and many of the world's hottest mags scrambled to shoot her, interview her and probably try to understand just how a 12 year-old could achieve so much, in so little time. Here come the kids! Yet Tavi's achievements pale in comparison to the rather incredible Canadian Bilaal Rajan. Big-hearted Rajan, who has just turned 13, is quite simply something else.

At the age of four he went selling oranges door-to-door to raise money for victims of the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India. At 7, yes seven, he founded Making Change Now, an organisation dedicated to heightening awareness of youth issues and raising funds for children in developing countries. in 2005 he was chosen as an official Child Representative and Ambassador for UNICEF Canada. When the Asian Tsunami occurred he launched UNICEF Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge which raised $1.8 million for victims of the tsunami and repeated the effort for victims of 2008's Myanmar Cyclone. Oh, and he has published a book too; Making Change; Tips From An Underage Overachiever.

His latest challenge, for the shattered isle of Haiti, simply entitled Help Haiti is a challenge to school children around the globe to raise $100 each for the cause. This kid re-affirms that the next generation is one to watch. Bravo Rajan!

Here's the Help Haiti site...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Slice Of Heaven

Dutch duo Viktor and Rolf have never been accused of doing things by halves. Their Spring 2010 collection, shown in October last year, also proved just how capable the pair are of thinking outside the square and ignoring the industry shifts and nuances of the time. The collection featured a series of cut tulle ball gowns that were structurally gorgeous and seemed to effortlessly defy gravity. While it was great to see their art on the runway, it is even better to see it here on the cover of the latest Dazed and Confused. Shot by Josh Olins the cover features a Viktor and Rolf favourite, and undeniably one of the world's hottest models, Magdalena Frakowiak. It is a lovely image and one of several covers for Magdalena already this year, but to our eyes, it is the gown that does the talking.

Ellie Ellie!

Ellie Goulding is being touted as "the one to watch" in British music this year. At the beginning of January she topped the BBC's Sound Of 2010 influential annual music list; previously topped by Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Duffy and the Ting Tings among others. She works closely with producer du jour Starsmith and you may know her angelic vocals from Passion Pit's Sleepyhead, also remixed by Starsmith. Tonight in London Robert Erdmann will once again team with super stylist Kimi O'Neill to shoot Ellie for issue 12 of Black. The shoot and interview will appear in a feature that includes Daisy Coburn of Daisy Dares You - another on the BBC's list for 2010.

P.C vs Mac - Dylan's view

You may remember Apple's recent campaign to position Mac as the hipper, younger, more creative platform against the perceived frumpiness of the old P.C. As Mac users since 1992 this wasn't news to us but it's interesting to see where Mac and PC are positioned in the minds of the emerging generations. Our 12 year-old nephew Dylan has been saving for the best part of a year for a MacBook Pro already and expects to purchase said machine later this year. While Dylan was staying with us over Christmas he wrote this poem about the "fight" and we think it is rather cute...

Mac vs PC
by Dylan van Lier

An Apple had a punch-up,
With a Microsoft PC.
A Personal Computer,
And a white fruit from a tree.

The PC blasted fractions,
At the metal Powerbook.
The Mac replied with iTunes,
To make the PC’s speakers cook.

The Apple PhotoBoothed the Sun,
And put it on the screen.
The PC opened Webcam,
And reflected back the sheen.

Mac replaced it with widgets,
And times’d them by a ton.
The PC ran out of memory, and
Threw up a red icon.

The PC then surrendered,
And flew a white display.
The Apple danced around for joy,
And fell off the desk that day.

Love The Lover

From Feb 3 to 13 the Basement Theatre is staging Harold Pinter's famous one-act play The Lover. Produced by Tara Riddell the play stars Michelle Langstone and Craig Hall (above) who has a special place in Westie hearts after roles in Savage Honeymoon and Outrageous Fortune. Award-winning costume designer Kirsty Cameron will supplement a stage set by Katie Lockhart that is described as "a work of art in itself." The images for the posters above were shot by the venerable Derek Henderson adding to a total theatre package that looks entirely compelling.

The Lover
Feb 3 - 13
Basement Theatre
Lower Greys Ave
Auckland CBD
Ph: 309 7433

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fare Thee Well

Today was a day of mourning, and that's hard to adjust to on a cobalt-blue Auckland day. Firstly for the tens of thousands who have died in Haiti..devastation...destruction...dismay. And, as if in harmony, two important musical figures have also gone from this world.

Teddy Pendergrass, 59, soul singer with the smoothest of voices died of colon cancer surgery complications in Philadelphia today. And then Jay Reatard, 29, at such a tender age already an indie legend, and a close friend of New Zealand audiences, died today in Memphis. These two musicians are from different hemispheres, entirely different places, and both have contributed much to their respective genres.

May they all rest in peace. Here's Teddy live in '79...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Daisy A Day

Anna Wintour decided some time ago that the future for Vogue was in the marrying of traditional fashion publishing ethos with the ever-encroaching commercial colossus of celebrity culture. Stars were in. Stars on the cover for Anna. Here at Black we're probably more interested in musicians - and the place where fashion and music meet, than celebrities per se - so we are looking to build on the Paloma Faith shoot by Robert Erdmann, Kimi O'Neill et al last issue of Black by featuring rising stars in a fashion shoot commissioned by Black on an ongoing basis. Robert is on his way to shoot Daisy Coburn aka Daisy Dares You (above) for Black Issue 12 in London this weekend. She's been ear-marked by the BBC as a rising star for 2010 and if the styling in her video (below) is anything to go by she's a consummate pop star and a stylish girl. Stylist Zoe James will once again work with Robert on the weekend.

The Excited Artist

As a child, artist Matt Campbell loved Ralph Bashki's Wizards, a lot. These days he is more likely to be "dazzled by the likes of Pixar and Studio Ghibli's Miyasaki" but the Auckland-based artist's illustrative style is still steeped in the back alley style of the classical American cartoon set of the Twentieth Century. After a long sojourn in New York - which included a stint as Design and Digital Director at NYC mega ad agency BBH NYC - Campbell has returned to Auckland and set up a loft-style studio in Auckland's Britomart district.

It is from this base he will continue his collaboration with Japanese fashion-art house Hysteric Glamour (he is responsible for the designs on the Hysteric Mini children's range above) and his "art & commerce" projects, most of which are US-based. One of the biggest of these can be seen at My Little where Campbell is launching a series of animations based upon legendary cartoonist and illustrator Kaz's Underworld series.

Campbell recently exhibited Out Of The Black, a series of gluggy black (we love it) teddys (top) and stuffed animals that sit somewhere between eerily frightening and malleably cute. In April the artist, whom I first met when he was the in-house art director at Flying Nun records, intends to show Out Of The Black in New York. It's great to have an artist/illustrator of Matt's calibre back in town. We look forward to more prolific creative output from the Are You Excited/Matt Campbell studio as the year unfolds...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Great, Great Songs #13 - Neko Case - I'm An Animal

Our summer break has been filled with family, friends, food, sun, food, wine, friends, music, food, more friends and family, food, walking, swimming, food, friends and er, wind, a shitload of wind. Westerlies; southern, central and northern have dictated the climatic ambiance in and around the house. Riding the wind through the open (side) doors has been the lovely, unique, soaring voice of Neko Case and the simple, uplifting lyrical genius contained within I'm An Animal, a country/indie/power pop masterpiece from the equally magnificent Middle Cyclone album. It's not new but this is our signature song of the's a live version...looking forward to the Bruce Mason Centre in a few weeks...

Picture This

Kia ora and Happy New Year! Just turned the computer on for the first time in ten days - the sun, surf, sea, family and friends were all more important. Thought I would cruise around some favourite sites and found this on COACD. Their top 25 intriguing faces of 2009 and a stunning interpretation of some of the world's top models by artist Jenny Mortsell at Jed Root. Love it!