Month: January 2014

A SKIN-DEEP STATEMENT

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Let me start off by saying I’m a bit of a tattoo addict having so far amassed a collection of 13 with more to come. I love that sterile smell, the loud and unmistakable buzz of tattoo guns and the anticipation of feeling the pain (Yes it does hurt!) of getting tattooed. I may be a tattoo lover but there are many people who find them ugly, stupid and downright tacky (My own mother being one of said people). Clothes we change with time, trend, mood and even age, for instance, my skinny jean staple may not be suitable when I’m 50 but my tattoos will remain far longer whether I like it or not. I am under no illusion that there may very well come a time when I regret my tattoos. But each of them will always remind me of a moment in my life and that’s what I love most. I will always remember where I was, why I got it, who I was with, what I was thinking and what the tattoo represents to me.

My dad is 62 years old and has 6 tattoos all of which done in his late teens/early twenties and when growing up he always told me how much he hated them and never to get any of my own. Of course I paid no attention and I’ve shown him my freshly inked skin many-a-time guaranteeing I will hear the same words “oh son, not again”. However the most recent two he was surprisingly complimentary about. One is an Amsterdam themed butterfly and the second a modern twist on one his tattoos (pictured above).

With the ever increasing popularity of tattoos I have no doubt many people are putting little thought into what they’re getting, why, which artist they are trusting to mark their skin forever and doing it just to be part of a trend. We’ve all seen badly done tattoos, we may even know people with bad tattoos. If you haven’t, just head over to the @ShitTats twitter account and marvel at the weird, awful, terribly done and even misspelt body art.

Tattoos have become more and more prevalent in the fashion world, whether it be designs, prints and even the models used in campaigns and shows. Ricki Hall (pictured above) certainly doesn’t look like your conventional model with his bushy beard and heavily tattooed torso but that didn’t stop him being signed up by top London agency Nevs. Ricki has fronted campaigns for the likes of P & Co, Diesel and Paul Smith. Although the audience for the latter were clearly not ready for his inked up body with all of his tattoo’s being removed either digitally or with makeup. But would Ricki Hall have got so much work 10 years ago? Even 5 years ago? I think not!

A tattoo is a permanent statement and should be treated as such. So if you’re contemplating your first one or even adding to your collection, here’s a few do’s and don’ts before going under the needle;

DO visit multiple tattoo parlous – you must comfortable where you’re getting inked and that it’s a reputable place.

DON’T pick your tattoo from a flash card. A flash card is usually just basic samples of work. No one wants a tattoo someone else already has!

DO find the right artist. Make sure you’re on the same page, they have the right style for you and are excited about what they’re tattooing.

DON’T get the name of your partner. No relationship needs that pressure to stand the test of time.

DO be original. Go to your artist with images/artworks/inspiration and have them create something unique for you. If they cant do that, they’re not a tattoo artist. They’re a tattooer!

Don’t rush it. I’ve thought about a potential tattoo for years before getting it. I also have some impulsive ones. Whilst I like both, the ones with more thought behind them always come out better.

DO be open to change. The fact is your wonderful idea might not work as a tattoo and your artist should tell you. Once you start talking, between you you’ll come up with things that add to your idea and make it even better than you first imagined.

What do you think of ink? Love it or hate it? Whatever you opinion, to my thinking those who are inked ink for themselves and only themselves. It just so happens your choice of body art is often on display for all to see. So think before you ink!

.S.

THE SHAMMY AWARDS

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Last night I decided to tune in to the televised edit of the 56th annual Grammy awards. An award which at one time was THE most prestigious award for any artist to have on their mantelpiece. An award ceremony which had some of the most ground-breaking performances in the history of music; 1988 – Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror, 1993 – Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven, 1994 – Whitney Houston – I will always Love you. Even as recently as Elton John & Eminem in 2001, Amy Whinehouse in 2008 and Adele in 2012 . But whilst watching Robin Thicke strut his pervy uncle-esque stuff to BluRRed Lines it got me thinking about the state of POP music today and how this gathering of music royalty has changed over the years.

The first annual Grammy awards was held in 1958 and consisted of 28 awards. By comparison the 2014 category list comes in at an eye watering 83! Yes music has evolved since the days people used a gramophone as more than just a vintage hipster showpiece. But dishing out these gongs in so many watered down categories takes everything away from how special it is to get one in the first place.

And the winners are/were……

Record Of The Year 

2014 – Get Lucky (Daft Punk & Pharrell)                       1983 – Beat It (Michael Jackson)

Album Of The Year

2014 – Random Access Memory (Daft Punk)              1977 – Rumours (Fleetwood Mac)

Song Of The Year

               2014 – Royals (Lorde)                                1984 – Every Breath You Take (The Police)

Best New Artist  

2014 – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis                       1965 – The Beatles

The brackets really weren’t required for the past winners (if for you they were then stop reading now, you’re totally going to miss my point). Could the same be said for 2014’s collection of golden gramophone holders in 10/20/30 years time?? The way we have access to music in the modern age in one way is brilliant, just a click of the mouse, a swipe of the iPad or flick of the TV channel and it’s all right there in your ears in an instant. But is this having a negative affect on our attention span or the staying power of artist?

An award of any description for your talent should be a shining beacon of success in career. Unfortunately I think the sheen of a Grammy has dimmed slightly over the years but perhaps that’s of our own (or technologies) doing.

.S.

CULTIVATING YOUR CLIQUE

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Relocating to any country is a daunting process with many things to consider and take into account such as where to live, how to set up a bank account, dealing with a different currency, a different style of life, different culture. The list goes on and on. Now that I look back on it, surprisingly there were a lot of things I hadn’t thought about. Isn’t hindsight a beautiful thing?! Once you’ve taken care of all the important and often boring stuff it’s time to think about your social circle. Your social life can define your relocation experience and how you feel about your new home. Back in your homeland you’ve got an established circle of pals/buddies/mates/acquaintances. Whatever you want to call your clique, they’re all there with no real need to expand this core group further. But what about when they’re all in another country? A whatsapp group chat doesn’t quite cut it.  The realization hit me and to quote Paul Rudd in one of my favourite movies – I Love You Man – “I gotta get some fuckin’ friends”

When I came to Amsterdam I pretty much knew just one person, my very good friend James L. He’d been in Amsterdam for one year and had been instrumental in making the move a little less scary. James had already made plenty of mates and many of which I can now happily also call my friends but I was also conscious I had to get out there and find some of my own. But how? where? Going up to some dude in a bar and asking him to be your friend was going to give totally the wrong impression and is just plain weird! I was never the most forward of people in the past.

I looked into meetup groups, groups where people with similar interests gather, chat and as the name suggests meet up. But in the end I didn’t actually attend any. I felt like using these groups to meet people was almost admitting defeat and that I couldn’t find friends by myself, that there must have been something wrong with my character. Which now I have to say I see as a bit of a stupid way to look at it but at the time that was my feeling. So now what?

In my experience the people who make up this wonderful city are pretty open with Amsterdam being a very multi-cultural city made up of locals as well as many expats just like me. This common ground is an ideal way to make a connection and before long you’ll find it second nature to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before. It’s just a matter of putting yourself out there, getting out of your comfort zone and stop being a pussy! Bars, Parties, through other friends are great ways to meet people but the key is to follow it up. If you meet someone you get on with, exchange numbers and arrange to meet up again. Being the person to take the initiative and send that first message is the final hurdle and pretty soon you’ll feel right at home with people who not so long ago were total strangers. I’ve made some amazing friends over the past 18 months, friends who I know will be in my life in one way or another for a very long time to come.

Relocating is more than just a journey for your clothes, photo’s and nick nack’s to make in a suitcase. It’s a journey of personal discovery and one I hope you enjoy as much as I continue to.

.S.

STYLE ICON

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From his quiffed locks to his Chelsea boots, Nick Grimshaw (or Grimmy as he’s affectionately known) is absolutely my style icon and has been for some years now. As anyone who follows fashion will know, you take inspiration from all sorts of places but there is always that one person you look to who can’t seem to put a foot wrong in the wardrobe department. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve felt utter envy over his attire. His circulation restricting denim is right up my street! Whether its a biker jacket, plaid shirt and t-shirt combo or stunningly skinny suits Grimshaw is my go-to-guy. And it seems this is true for the British fashion world as he was recently named ambassador for London Collections: Men.

Mr Grimshaw’s look is a perfect combination of luxury, vintage and high street naming Topman, Dunhill, Mr Start and Liberty  among his faves. But he wasn’t always at the height of fashion and admits to an awful purchase in his youth; a knee-length SILVER puffer jacket from the clothing line of that well known Notorious BIG sidekick, P Diddy. Clearly in this case to be referred to by his former name, Puff Daddy! We’ve all made fashion faux pas growing up, with mine being a slightly too keen interest in the styling’s of British bad-boy band East 17. I shall describe no further!

For those of you who don’t know, Nick Grimshaw earns his pennies as radio presenter on his prime-time breakfast show slot on BBC Radio One. As well as this, thankfully his threads do see the light of day and is often seen on screen presenting an array of awards and shows including his own panel show. Counting Henry Holland, Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and Daisy Lowe among his bezzies its no wonder Grimmy is always fashionably adorned. Rumor has it he is/was dating Italian stylist Nicco Torelli after he accompanied Nick the GQ Awards.

Yes, that’s right my style icon is gay and despite the regular assumption that I am, in fact Nick and I have a different sexual preference. Your sexual orientation certainly doesn’t define who you are and neither should it define your style. So be who you are, wear what you like and find your style icons in anyone you so wish.

For being my style icon, not taking yourself too seriously and waking me up every weekday morning……Nick Grimshaw I salute you!

.S.

TUNE-THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN

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Here you have it, the first installment of Tune-Thousand And Fourteen. The regular profile of exciting artists you’ll be hearing big things from this year. So without further ado;

Denai Moore

This Jamaican born, Stratford raised 19 year old apparently began experimenting with music at the teeny tiny age of 7. Some of her earliest tracks were so deep and heart-wrenching it was almost impossible to believe they had been composed by a girl who at the time was just 12 years old. Mini Moore took inspiration from things she heard and things she saw. Whether she fully understood the content of these early tracks I’m unsure but a self-confessed obsession with Lauryn Hill had clearly made an impact. When she later moved to the guitar and a folkier element appeared her sound began to take shape. I first heard a track called Flaws and instantly wanted to hear more of Moore because one things for sure, her voice is anything but flawed. The title track from her debut EP “The Lake” shows a beautifully delicate vocal performance, at times sounding close to tears.

 

Childish Gambino

Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is a man of many talents. Starting his career in comedy and appearing in numerous roles on the big and small screen he’s now focusing on the area we really care about here, MUSIC. His second studio album “Because The Internet” was released on December 10th and has since received rave reviews. The album title came while working with none other than Beck, who asked “Do rappers talk to each other?”. Mr Glover responded “I don’t like starting answer’s with this, but because the internet….”. Beck suggested that be the name of the album and it stuck! When everything we do leaves a digital in-print somewhere online it’s pretty accurate, because the internet is everything. Childish Gambino’s lyrical content is unlike your everyday rapper, there’s a welcome lack of bitches, money and bling which can surely be contributed to his work as a writer. This as well as killer beats and catchy hooks makes “Because The Internet” a must listen. He’ll be performing here in Amsterdam at Melkweg on February 12th.

 

RY X

RY X is an Australian singer songwriter who currently resides in LALA Land began his career back in 2010 under his real name (Ry Cuming) with a self titled album. I discovered RY X thanks to the brilliant Shazam app after hearing a snippet of Berlin on a TV advert for a Sony Bravia television of all things. Now with label mates such as Alt-J and Local Natives, he’s in good company and following the release of the “Berlin EP”  is sure to go onto be known for much more than “that song on that tv ad”. The striped back nature of Berlin makes it a beautifully captivating yet stunningly simple track. Vampires has since followed and is equally brilliant. RY X will be playing at Paradijskerk in Rotterdam on February 22nd.

 

Public Access T.V.

New York three piece Public Access T.V. are the talk of the town although little is known about the indie-punk sounding outfit. With minimal online presence consisting of just one track on Soundcloud, a sparse facebook page, little followed Twitter account and NOTHING on Youtube information is hard to come by. Having played their first publicized gig in New York as recently as January 30th they’ve had their first play on Radio One and interviewers are circling like sharks. In an age where everyone is after their 15 minutes and self publicity is easier than ever because the internet (see what I did there) does this make them brilliant or simply plain arrogant? I’m going with the former. Who knows how, when or where we’ll be hearing more from them but there is certainly no IF about it. Public Access T.V. are ones to keep your ear to the ground for.

 

 

Green For Go

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For some time now I’ve been considering writing a blog and now it’s time to take the plunge…..so here goes! But what should you expect to see here in the Fiets Lane? I hear you ask.

Here I will be sharing my love for Music, my love for Fashion and life being an Englishman in Amsterdam. I love living in Amsterdam! The last 18 months have been filled with exploration, change, growth, tears, fears and joys. But I can happily say the highs (not like that) far outweigh the lows.

The music will be eclectic, the fashion fabulous and Amsterdam…..well…..I think this quote sums it up just perfectly;

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin”– John Green

So keep your eyes peeled, your headphones at the ready and your minds open!