All recorded by label head honcho A La Fu at our newly christened Studio 23 and available here: http://bit.ly/2iXgppa
“Do you have a name for the studio?” - Bill Drummond
“No, too busy with building the thing.” - A La Fu
“How about Studio 23?” - Jimmy Cauty
And so it goes.
After many months of meticulous planning and impatience, Va Va Records are pleased to announce the first project recorded and edited at our new studio headquarters with would you adam and eve it, pop music’s greatest provocateurs Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, aka The Jams, aka The KLF, aka The Timelords (to name but a few handles).
Our man A La Fu has been working with Bill Drummond on a handful of projects over the past few years and after being asked to perform at the closing of Drummonds 'The 25 Paintings' exhibition they even duetted together with a version of ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’ by The Shirelles, naturally.
As you may know Cauty and Drummond have completed their 23 year moratorium this year and returned as The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu. To celebrate they have written a book titled ‘2023’, a trilogy described by the governors as a “utopian costume drama, set in the near future, written in the recent past”.
It is the audio version of the book that has been recorded and edited by A La Fu and narrated by Daisy Campbell in the brand new Cauty christened, Studio 23.
HELLO ! FIT LIKE ? ETC ETC
PLEASE KEEP SUPPORTING THE CWU
AND YOUR LOCAL POSTIES !!!!!
ROYAL MAIL TODAY PAID OUT A RECORD
BREAKING SIXTY EIGHT MILLION POUNDS
TO ITS PRIVATE SHARE HOLDERS,
THIS WHILE POSTIES AROUND THE COUNTRY
STRUGGLE TO GET UNIFORMS, ELASTIC BANDS
AND AMONG MANY OTHER THINGS, A
GUARANTEE THAT THEIR PENSIONS WILL BE
WINTER IS HERE. CHRISTMAS IS COMING. BUT ONLY
THE PRIVATE SHARE HOLDERS ARE GETTING FAT !!!
A wee message brought to you by Blackfledge Falling
Track 4 of 5 in this weeks run up to Willis Ellmore's 'Pop Life Crisis' E.P. "You don't engage properly with social media mate, you might as well give up."
Track 3 of 5 in this weeks run up to Willis Ellmore's 'Pop Life Crisis' E.P. The media circus rolls on.
Track 2 of 5 in this weeks daily stream of tracks from Willis Ellmore's Pop Life Crisis. 'Todays Video Is For You' is a critique based on the slew of youtube ‘how to make it in music’ videos from alleged professionals, no mention of artistry whatsoever...welcome to the saturated world of the 'creative networker'.
'I know it's saturation point but I'm Willis Ellmo.'
In the run up to the release of Willis Ellmore's brand new E.P. Pop Life Crisis, we'll be uploading a track from it everyday this week.
Track 1 of 5 is this gem featuring the vocal prowess of Dazzla (Lotek Hi-Fi/Big Dada). If you sign up to our mailing list here you get the track as a free download.
Willis Ellmore quickly returns with his new work ‘Pop Life Crisis’. While perhaps a riff on the title of a classic Prince song (is there any other kind?) it certainly shines a light on the West’s clamber for false recognition and escapism through popular culture and social media that can cloud us from the humanitarian, political, economic and environmental crises that continue towards life threatening levels which we may not be able to overturn. Willis Ellmore suggests that it is time to address the crisis of meaning in popular life, work and society as the closing track (ft. The Dazzla of Lo Tek Hi Fi/Big Dada fame) states:
“We’re in the season of Donald, could it be society’s lost all morals? You know we’re in trouble when a businessman’s in charge of tomorrow.”
And so begins this collection of beautiful noises via electronic signals with ambience and drums that uplift alongside an inner charm rarely felt these days. The track titles also convey a re-think to what some of us find important or not as the case may be, ‘You Are Free (To Do As They Tell You)’ reminds us that sixty-three million Americans voted for a psychopath, ‘Todays Video Is For You’ is a critique based on the slew of youtube ‘how to make it in music’ videos from alleged professionals, ‘The Star Mangled Banner & The Union Wack’ refers to the media circus in the recent US/UK elections along with the social media baiting ‘Judge Us By Our Likes & You Wont Press Play’ while the E.P. opens with the glowing chords of ‘Somewhere Over Belarus’ (a track written in the skies around 32,000 ft on return from a gig in Moscow that comes complete with hidden meaning). Anyone?
Despite his tender years, the self proclaimed young, ghetto occupant and East Londoner has already worked with the legendary Mike Ladd and is also one half of Video Tourist with the inimitable A La Fu and to quote the young man, “I know its saturation point but I’m Willis Ellmo.” Pop Life Crisis print designed by Willis Ellmore with font designed by Remi/Rough is available to order (pre order only) at our online shop here.
The latest Radio Va Va episode titled ‘The Sounds of One Summer’ is put together by A La Fu and Willis Ellmore and celebrates this summers road trip with our friends at Try Industries in the golden state of California. All tracks were either purchased, inspired, experienced or made whilst in this sunny disposition.
We would like to send some love to New Zealand DJ institution Stinky Jim, the host of 95bFM show Stinky Grooves that encompasses the broadest beats and most delightfully robust rhythms sourced from all corners of the globe. From the freshest reggaematical business to crucial cumbia, exceedingly eclectic electronics and a smattering of the most righteously rocking malarkey, the three hours of Stinky Grooves offers bountiful rewards to the attentive listener and their headphones.
Stinky Grooves has been on air on 95bFM for the last 27 years and stands tall as one of the stations most established specialist shows and we are honoured to be included on one of the latest with A La Fu & Lotek's Care Home Dub from the latest Jacob Yates & The Pearly Gate Lock Pickers single...nice one Jim, keep on.
The legendary Andrew Weatherall transmits our own Jacob Yates & The Pearly Gate Lock Pickers unfliching dub Care Home on his current NTS show Music's Not For Everyone alongside other finery.
Listen again here: http://bit.ly/2qabntN
Tut Vu Vu perform at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow Sunday May 7th as part of Tectonics music festival which is curated by Ilan Volkov and Alisdair Campbell and proudly presented by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. It takes place over the weekend of 6-7 May.
Interview by Elena Martinique for Widewalls
The Symphony of Systematic Minimalism
Widewalls: Your first solo show in Italy titled Symphony of Systematic Minimalism will soon be on view at Wunderkammern Rome. Can you tell us something about the concept of the show and this new body of work?
Remi Rough: The works for this show are without a doubt some of my best and most decisive works to date. I really tried to take a minimalist path to making the work but also to really expand on all the ideas I have been working on of late. I also decided quite early on to make a soundtrack / album to accompany the artworks in the exhibition. I have been producing music for a long time now but I’ve never connected my music with my art until now! I felt it was about time the two worlds were finally connected. A La Fu from Vava Records has really helped me make the album a reality too. I played him some demos and he jumped on board making the songs sound amazing and obviously releasing it through his label.
I really wanted to try new things out with the paintings. I am definitely really happy with the result so far. I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions. I wanted to channel the abstract masters of old and make a stand for a genre art form that is still to this day wholly relevant.
Widewalls: Your latest book titled “#RoughSketches. Volume 01” will be presented during the opening reception of the exhibition. What went into this book and what does it mean to you?
RR: The book clearly illustrates just how the journey from wild style through to abstraction happened. It’s chronological too so you can physically see where some of those key moments happened. I started writing graffiti in 1984 but only used blackbook sketches from 1996 and onwards as that’s the point I became truly happy with the letters I was drawing. I guess it’s really important to me to have a legacy and narrative to where all this came from. It didn’t just happen overnight, it wound its way through decades of experimentation and development. Having a document that shows that journey is really important to me. It shows the provenance of the kind of work I now make. I am really excited about the special edition leather bound versions that the amazing Sandra Varisco has put together for the Wunderkammern exhibition. I think they’re going to be pretty incredible judging by the other work I have seen of hers.
Combining Music and Visual Art
Widewalls: You have been pushing the boundaries of graffiti for over three decades, but you also have a 20 years-long experience in music production. How are these two forms of expression interlinked and how do they influence each other?
RR: They’re both very similar actually… Both the way I paint and the way I produce music is done in layers. I create layers upon layers of either sounds or colours and see how they interact together. I guess the main difference is that with the music, I go into making a track with a lot more foresight than I do, a painting. There’s no point in just throwing a couple of sounds together and hoping for the best… I Like to think through each soft instrument and sound and work from sketches or sometimes start with a musical sketch and build that sketch into a finished piece of music. The paintings can sometimes be a lot more organic. I always work from drawings but once I begin, things can change very quickly. One example would be ‘Unconventional’ from the new show. It’s started as something completely different and took a completely different course as I was painting it.
Widewalls: Over the years, your pieces have been becoming more and more abstract. Can you tell us how this progression came to be?
RR: As a graffiti writer you literally write your name over and over again… I was always looking for interesting ways to achieve that. Be it straight letters or wild styles or bubble letters or whatever… As I got to a stage where I felt I’d done that enough, the letters began to abstract. As they abstracted more and more they became less and less like characters or typography and more like spatial, architectural plains. It was a slow progression really throughout the 2000’s. First I began to deconstruct the letter forms into simpler and simpler shapes. The ‘O’ became a small triangle and I would also exaggerate the sizes too. Then slowly and slowly I began letting go of all this traditionalist baggage and finding more interesting things in the space itself. Negative and positive. I began to understand that the paintings have to dictate the end result, not the painter. If that makes any sense?
Widewalls: For several years now, you have been a part of the collective Agents of Change. Could you tell us something about these collaborative projects?
RR: We started AOC in 2008 when Timid, LX One, System and myself were invited to Berlin to exhibit at the Bridge Art Fair. We went with practically nothing and ended up walking the Berlin streets pulling posters off the street walls and taking them back to our apartment to paint on and draw on. We made a massive installation of the posters and ended up signing with a Berlin Gallery and a Santander Gallery for subsequent shows. It really made us look at how and why we made work. We went home after the art fair and decided to start a super collective with all the best people in their fields. Slowly and slowly, we got there. We are 12 artists now from the USA, Australia, Germany, France and the UK. The following project was ‘The Ghost Village Project’ which was an abandoned village in the West Coast of Scotland that we turned into an art installation. We made a 12 minute documentary of the project and ended up winning a couple of short film awards for it and we never even had a press release for it. The idea of Agents Of Change was to explore space. To do something new and exciting without the baggage of selling or trying to monetise it. It’s purely about the art… We also started AOC around the same time of the banks crash so it seemed fitting for us.
Widewalls: Since it usually occupies a public space, what is the power and responsibility of street art today?
RR: I think street art and any public art really has an obligation to engage with the public. It’s always for them really. I don’t think all art has to be in any way political as such. I believe that just by actually being artists we’re making a political statement. It doesn’t have to be super obvious all of the time. The power in any piece of art is its ability to create emotions with the viewers. That’s what I like about painting murals. It’s all about the viewers in the end… I like that it transforms the environment into something other than what it was meant for.
Future Plans and Projects
Widewalls: Who are your influences, and whose work do you appreciate the most today?
RR: Oh my word… I have so many influences… From Malevich, Moholy-Nagy, Van Doesburg and Mondrian to Futura, Dondi, Jerry Inscoe and Steve More. I am always finding new inspirations. Charley Peters, Saturation Point, Sinta Tantra, Mark Francis… I could literally go on all day with the kind of artists that inspire me to me make art. I love Nicky Hirst’s work and Vhils is amazing for the kind of things he does. I often think I am so very lucky to be an artist and be surrounded by so many talented and beautiful people…
One of my favourite current artists is Steve More from Edinburgh. You should definitely give his work a look if you don’t already know it.
Widewalls: For the end, could you share some future plans and projects
RR: It’s funny, but I ended last year with a solo show at Speerstra Gallery in Switzerland and had nothing in the diary, then by Christmas suddenly I had a solo show in Rome, a museum show in Roubaix curated by Magda Danysz and a group show in New York curated by Lori Zimmer. So it all became very busy very quickly. I am also working on a huge monograph for release next year and some mural projects in Bellinzona, Monaco, Washington DC and some I have been working on a special edition graphic for the new Nike Air Woven release. I keep pretty busy. It’s hard work being an artist sometimes but I love it too. On top of all the work, I have to try and spend as much time as possible with my wife and daughter and we’ve been renovating our home which is a little like having a whole other job.
Download Symphony of Systematic Minimalism here: https://we.tl/JlMRaPXxs3
Featured images: Remi Rough, photo by Marco Cavarischi. All images courtesy of Remi Rough.