Flying Lotus And Kendrick Lamar’s “Never Catch Me” Video Takes A Look At Youth And Death

It takes a pretty great video to match the artistry and complexity of a Flying Lotus song, especially one as great as his collaboration with Kendrick Lamar. Hiro Murai succeeded in doing so, however. He directs the poignant and beautiful video that goes from somber mourning at two kids’ funeral to a dance routine after the children miraculously rise.

The poignancy lies within the novelty — it’s very possible those kids are ghosts. Note how no one in that church is like, “Holy shit! Those kids are alive,” when they rise from the coffin. Joy is the overriding emotion of this video, though. Watch it above.

Previously: Five Beats Flying Lotus Wishes He Produced
Flying Lotus Made A Short Film Starring Actress Noomi Rapace

Flying Lotus Faces Down Death On His New Album

Blondie’s Chris Stein Shares Stories Behind His Punk Photographs

Last month, Blondie guitarist and songwriter Chris Stein released the almost self-titled Chris Stein / Negative, a handsome photobook featuring shots that begin in the mid-Seventies and end with a picture of Debbie Harry and Philip Glass taken at Lou Reed’s memorial service. “There was a lot of multitasking going on,” Stein says of his early days playing with and taking photos of his Blondie bandmates. “Everybody was doing all kinds of stuff. The guys in Television were all active poets and writers as well as being musicians. Things were kind of like that.” On the phone, just before the opening of a Chelsea Hotel gallery exhibit featuring a few of his shots, the singer discussed the punk era, photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Nile Rodgers and how Skrillex and Latin music inspire him today.

When did you start taking pictures and getting interested in photography?
I was always dabbling in photography. When I was a little kid I used to take pictures of toys and all that junk. You know, little toy cameras. And then I was in the School of Visual Arts pretty early on. I think my first year there was in like ’67. And also there was a friend of mine in my neighborhood who was a really great photographer, and he had apprenticed for Diane Arbus and was in the Warhol scene a little bit. He was a big inspiration.

Who were your favorite photographers at the time?
The usual suspects: Brassaï and Weegee and Arbus. People now who are my contemporaries are great photographers. David Godlis’ Kickstarter campaign, he asked for 30 grand and he made almost 100 grand. He’s probably up to 100 grand by now for a CBGBs photo book, and he’s one of the great downtown photographers. William Coupon is also a great photographer. He’s always producing amazing images.

One of the photos in the book, before the table of contents even, is Debbie in this messy apartment with a Communist Party logo. Whose apartment was that?
That was our loft on the Bowery. That was right across the street from where the New Museum is now, but back then it was very funky. And the Communist Party thing was just something we found in the street that was a nice graphic.

Were you guys communists?
Actually my parents had met in the party, but I wasn’t actively anything. I think we are probably still more anti-government than anything else. But it’s hard to say at this point, things being where they are.

When you look back at these photos in your book, what do you feel?
There’s a lot of memory involved. Personally, the photos are linked to a lot of memories. I’m often approached by people with some long story that I don’t remember at all. I just saw Tom Verlaine and then Richard Hell’s book – they both say I auditioned for the Neon Boys, which was the early incarnation of Television. I don’t really remember that at all – though I told Tom I did remember, just to be polite.

I recently saw an interview where you briefly mentioned class distinction between the downtown punk scene and the disco scene. Can you talk a little more about that?
Yeah, there was definitely a disconnect. The disco scene in Manhattan was a little more high-end with the clubs, but when you went out in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens it was much more funky and working class. A little bit like the movie, like Saturday Night Fever.

Were you going out there?
Once or twice, yeah. There was a disco in Brooklyn called Dynamite that was a big disco that was funky that I went to once or twice. But mostly we were all just involved in what we were doing.

It seems like you were involved with a lot more than just your scene, though. The book has a great photo of Basquiat at the “Rapture” video shoot.
Well he was a great character. He was just really pissed off that the director wouldn’t let him graffiti on the walls. He wanted a clean red wall behind it.
Did you spend much time with him?
A little bit, yeah. Towards the end, yeah. I think Andy’s death affected him really profoundly, among other things. He was always kind of a brooding guy, but he was what he was. He was a genius too.

And musically, were you familiar with his band Gray at all?
Oh, yeah, yeah. I have a copy of one of the records actually. He had this crazy sort of noise band. They were really experimental. I don’t know if I ever saw them live. I listened to the record. It was experimental noise. I think one of them was playing his guitar with a file or something like that. It was a little abstract.

There’s a cool photo of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards in there too. I was wondering when you linked up with them.
Pretty early on. We were the first ones on both sides that either had worked with outside of their home bands: Those guys were the first ones we worked with outside of Blondie, and I’m pretty we were the first ones they worked with outside of Chic. We were just really huge Chic fans, so we just approached them.

Did other bands or other musicians in your scene listen as widely as you guys did and have all these outside influences in the same way?
Yeah sure, probably. I mean certainly the Talking Heads had a pretty broad vision of what they were doing. I just think a lot of those guys, just their focus was a little narrower. The Ramones certainly had a very specific focus. Also with Blondie I think it had a lot to do with us getting into the studio. Our early live stuff wasn’t, you know, that together, but I think a lot of our forward motion came out of us getting into the recording studio for the first times.

Jumping up to the present, I love that you put Los Rakas on the new record.
Those guys are awesome. Actually Jeff [Saltzman] was the one that put them on, but I’m a big fan of the reggaeton and cumbia movements. There’s really a lot of amazing stuff. Bomba Estéreo are fucking great. There’s a lot of great stuff going on, it’s just that it doesn’t cross over because it’s all Spanish language.

How did you get into it?
I don’t know, probably just listening to the radio. I picked up a Colombia compilation record at some point and was really inspired by it. There’s a great radio station in New York called La Mega, I think, which is really cool.

Actually, one of my favorite post-Blondie records is “In Love With Love,” and I first heard that on a Latin freestyle compilation. Where you going for that sound at the time?
You know, I can’t remember. It was probably just a lot about the synthesizers and groove stuff. But yeah, I’m just really deep into modern Latin music these days, the last four or five years. I really like the modern electronic Latin scene, so that’s funny. Maybe it was just always in there.

What else are you listening to these days?
Everything. We just came off the tour and the guys in the bands are just founts of musical stuff. I’m always very perplexed when I hear people saying they don’t hear any good music now and it was all back in the Seventies or Eighties or whenever. I find that kind of crazy. I really like Sia now. I think she’s kind of amazing. I’ve always been a huge Beirut fan. I like Die Antwoord a lot. I like a lot of the EDM guys – I’m a big Skrillex fan.

Mystic Music Festival in Konya, September 22-30

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Simon Broughton pays a visit to the Mystic Music Festival in Konya with performances from Kayhan Kalhor and Sain Zahoor

I’ve spent the last few days at the Mystic Music Festival in Konya, Turkey, which ran for nine days until September 30. Konya is most famous, of course, for the shrine and mausoleum of Rumi, the Sufi poet and religious leader who died here in 1273. His followers, known as the Mevlevi or the Whirling Dervishes, spread throughout the Ottoman Empire. But in modern times, the translations of his Persian poems of tolerance, plurality and love within that have made him a spiritual inspiration worldwide. Annually, Konya is visited by two and a half million people, 500,000 from overseas.

September 30 is Rumi’s birthday and the festival included musicians from Iran, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Mayotte, Spain, Bolivia and Turkey. These included kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor (who played at Songlines Encounters in June, see #100), but here with a five-piece Iranian ensemble accompanying poetry of Rumi; and the extraordinary Sain Zahoor (pictured below), a true Sufi mystic from Punjab, who won a BBC Award for World Music in 2006. His speciality is the Punjabi poetry of Bulleh Shah. “I don’t feel it’s me singing,” he says, “it’s as if Bulleh Shah is singing inside me.” The festival ended, of course, with a performance of Mevlevi music and whirling from the Konya Turkish Sufi Music Ensemble.

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Back in the 13th century Konya was the capital of the Turkish Seljuk empire. It’s not one of Turkey’s most immediately appealing cities, but there are some magnificent buildings surviving from that golden age. Rumi’s tomb in the mausoleum, with its distinctive green conical dome, is a place of pilgrimage and also a fascinating museum of Mevlevi belief, history and music. There are a couple of guys from Birmingham, also regular visitors to the Fes Festival, who are here for the third time. “It’s a great place to chill out and hear some really quality performances,” one of them, a lawyer, tells me.

I write this having just emerged from a transformative Turkish bath (hamam). Turkish food, the Turkish bath and probably Iznik tilework are the three greatest Turkish contributions to civilisation. In the hamam, dating back to Seljuk times, I was scrubbed with an abrasive glove – producing köfte kebabs of dirt and skin – and then lathered with soapy foam from a muslin bag which was then kneaded in. As I lay on the marble slab I gazed at star shaped holes in the ceiling. Glorious. It was finished off with a glass of tea – and Turkish tea is surely the best in the world. I emerged floating on air.

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I also took the opportunity to go and see the mausoleum of the other important Sufi mystic, Hacı Bektaş. A contemporary of Rumi, he was the founder of the Alevi Bektaşi Sufis and his shrine is in a town now called Hacıbektaş about 260km from Konya (pictured above). Whereas the Mevlevis became close to the Ottoman court, the Alevi were simple rural people and have always been associated with the grassroots. Put simply, the Mevlevis were an educated elite while the Alevis were ordinary folk – and that’s very obvious in the costumes and headscarfs of the women that come to the Hacıbektaş shrine. In an Alevi gathering music is played on the saz (long-necked lute) and men and women participate together on an equal basis. One of Hacı Bektaş’ most celebrated sayings is “a nation which does not educate its women cannot progress.” A message that still needs to be remembered in many parts of the world today.

Both Rumi and Hacı Bektaş have left a huge musical legacy. As well as all the music for the Mevlevi sema ceremonies (one of them composed by Sultan Selim III), there are countless settings of his lyrics and all the ney (reed flute) repertoire symbolising man’s search for God. The musical legacy of Hacı Bektaş is the music of the aşik minstrels, accompanying themselves on saz, which is so central to Turkish folk tradition. In fact at Hacıbektaş I bought a wonderful piece of kitsch – a statue of Pir Sultan Abdal, an Alevi minstrel and follower of Hacı Bektaş who was celebrated for his songs of struggle. He’s standing, dressed as a dervish holding his saz aloft in triumph. He’s a 16th-century Sufi musician, but totally rock’n’roll.

www.mysticmusicfest.com

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Ontario Gothic

Warren Hildebrand’s second album as Foxes in Fiction packs a remarkable level of emotion into its 30 minutes. Inspired by the painful loss of a younger sibling, Ontario Gothic wraps the Canadian-born artist’s low-fi hymns in endless miles of reverb, cushioning the hurt in layers of soft sound. Again and again, heavenly……

Kimo Salih – Men lameta – ETHIOPIAN NEW MUSIC 2014

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Live | Tamikrest tour the UK, October 30-November 9

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Tamikrest are embarking on a nine-date tour of the UK starting on October 30 at the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s University in Belfast.

The young Touareg rockers released their third album Chatma in September 2013. Meaning ‘sisters’ in Tamashek, it is dedicated to the Touareg women who have suffered during the war in Mali. The album was met with great critical acclaim and the band were revered for taking their iconic desert rock sound to brave, brilliant directions, incorporating psych-rock, indie, dub and funk.

Chatma’s sucess helped Tamikrest secure the award for Best Group in this year’s Songlines Music Awards, and one of the shows includes a very special evening at Sage Gateshead on November 6 for the Songlines Music Awards Winners’ Concert (tickets are still available).

Tamikrest are also offering a free download of their song ‘Djanegh etoumast’. For more information on tour dates click here.

Video for ‘Djanegh etoumast’

Anna Sui, Rogan, Pamela Love Celebrate Their New T-Shirt Collaboration

We were invited to attend the official unveil of the highly anticipated fashion collaboration, Mustang Unleashed, featuring designs from Anna Sui, Rogan, Pamela Love and more. In addition to unveiling the limited-edition line of graphic t-shirts, the celebration included a special fashion presentation from leading Parson designers to debut the Ford Mustang + Parsons Design Lab collection.
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In other Mustang news, yesterday was the official launch of “I.C.O.N.50: Mustang Celebrates Inspirational Creatives Owning the Next 50 Years.”  Icon50 is the new campaign assembling a collective of cultural experts to provide expert content on the state of adventure in the U.S. The initiative will encourage Americans to take the road and explore what’s new, what’s next and what’s moving us forward. The evening was hosted by pop culture and entertainment expert, Brian Balthazar and featured partners: Hard Rock Hotel (music & entertainment), Zagat (food), ESPN the Magazine (sports) and Mashable (technology).

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