Our favourite stories of the spring packaged for your reading pleasure…
Grace Neutral – tattoo artist, documentary presenter and living, breathing artwork; forked tongue and elf ears and inked blue sclerae – has such personal warmth. The pixie alien aesthetic is more than skin deep: Grace’s love is palpable, uncontainable, reaches all nine senses.
"I’m fully possessed by tattooing. If you want to do this job well you have to dedicate your whole fucking life to it, you know? People think being a tattoo artist is really fun and really cool because it’s popular and tattoo artists are like rock stars. But it’s only a cool job if you actually have a passion for it. Because if you don’t, you’re just going to be shit. Because you won’t want to do all the work to become the best artist you can be. And that involves drawing every night until your fingers cramp up and going to bed at, like, four in the morning."
Frank Carter is some kind of rock legend. Not in the rock n roll hall of fame with Led Zeppelin kinda legend. But an alternative national treasure, nevertheless. You watch Frank Carter in gig mode, small and bleached yellow (or pink or purple); exceedingly tattooed and fizzing with energy – and you think, where does it come from? And then you chat to Frank: it’s a wet Wednesday and he’s in his flat in Hertfordshire watching the rain, and he’s quiet and considered. And of course he is – because he couldn’t live as the spectacle full-time, he’d be dead.
"I’ve realised only recently, very recently, tail end of last year , that a lot of the nihilism and danger that was present in our shows when we started out was a form of [self-] abuse. I would get up and I would rage and I would vent. And that’s quite a dangerous place for artists to be, because you get trapped into believing that’s what people want, and then you stop thinking what’s it doing to yourself. You’ve only got so much blood…"
Maddie Williams is the environmentally conscious designer who turns everyday items into catwalk-worthy garments. Despite an initial suspicion of the fashion industry, the 22-year-old has evolved into a sartorial visionary.
“If you live in London, if you get the train, you see builders' rubble sacks strewn about the railway lines. They’re always outside people’s houses if they’re having work done or on building sites, and so we just kind of took them off the street or asked builders if we could take leftover ones. And they’re single use only so if we didn’t, they’d just get chucked. And ever since I was a child I’ve liked making things out of other odd things.”
Alex Wolff, actor, musician, former Nickelodeon star, is in the process of graduating, both as a songwriter and as an actor. Last year he starred in the Jumanji reboot, this year is set to see the release of a trio of Alex-featuring films: Hereditary, a critically acclaimed Sundance hit, the Netflix-distributed Dude, and then there’s his directorial debut, a long-term personal Wolff project and coming-of-age story that mirrors his own, The Cat and the Moon.
"I never feel like I’ve ever played a character that was so far from me that I couldn't see myself in that situation. The cool thing about acting is that you can explore those dark, twisted places without shame. You get to do really bad things and that’s part of your job. [But] it’s almost always more interesting to play opposite of whatever the part is. I think it’s good to bring any sweetness or charm to the character if you can."
PUSSYLIQUOR are on a mission to empower the world. United by a shared feminist vision, Brighton’s fiercest all-female five-piece eschew stereotypes to deliver post-punk treats. Their debut release 7” Wonder is full of deliciously damning acerbic refrains. They talk regret, drugs and taking no shit.
"We haven’t always fitted in, but the place we feel most at home is with music. Music has taken us away from a distorted society, [one] which we had to mask our true selves, one of conforming. We felt we didn’t fit in because we didn’t feel “normal” due to our appearances and sexuality. Music opened gateways for us, leading us to loving, accepting and supportive communities full of people who feel the same. We want to work towards sharing our mind-set with the world through creativity."
Burnt-out angst in a vintage veneer.
The internet promised the world. Decentralised and governed only by imagination, its virtual filigree would empower individuals and galvanise communities. Instead this vision has faded into an absurd alternative dimension, a tangled web of twisted truths, trolls and Trumps. Replacing technutopia… political players and technogarcs lurk behind convincing masks of convenience productivity and entertainment, directing our digital consumption like modern-day Pied Pipers...
"Americans paw their smartphones more than 2,600 times per day. Because they are hopelessly addicted. And probably so are you. Tech companies stuff their products with addictive design. Psychologists help give apps more pop than a tube of Pringles: pull down to refresh, endless scrolling, autoplaying videos. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. That little buzz from seeing the red dot of a new message? That’s dopamine in action."
BRMC are a curiosity. A rock band with no frontman. Musicians in an era of stars and celebrity. A zag to the zig of the zeitgeist. They’re hard to box, so let’s not. Let’s instead explore a band that rocks so hard they broke the floor – the floor! – at a historic venue in Leeds. A band that split with the same drummer twice, and whose replacement developed a brain condition, Chiari malformation, that was operated away thanks to a crowdsourcing campaign. There have been drugs and thrown punches and bona fide hits: the anthemic Spread Your Love.
"There’s a lot of other bands in the process that, just as you’re kinda travelling, become inspiration. But that all gets turned off once the writing gets going. That confusion of accidentally ripping somebody off on purpose, we’re our worst critics on that stuff. If we hear even a tone thing, we’re like – we can’t do that because the tone of the lick sounds too much like something else."
Costume designer Lindy Hemming created Wonder Woman’s outfit for the feminist-y hit film Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot. She clothed Christian Bale’s Batman for the Dark Knight trilogy. Heath Ledger’s Joker and Tom Hardy’s Bane found their threads in her studio. As did Daniel Craig for Casino Royale, his debut as James Bond. Oscar-winner Lindy, who turns 70 in 2018, was up for a chat thanks to DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super Heroes, where she schooled us on her secrets.
"Go to the theatre a lot. Don't worry about studying a course that’s very specific. But maybe do art or textiles, or you could go and work in Selfridges and work on selling clothes to people, and watching how people behave. You need to study human beings and you need to study the world and life and how people are, how they behave. Study that, and study it constantly, cos that’s what I do. And then when you come to do a costume for anything at all, the smallest or the biggest film, you use all those images and put them into the creation of the costume."