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Issue 3, 2017

Issue 03

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News

  • Protests against rape culture draw hundreds

  • Dirty Ships

  • Lower Hutt, Higher Cut?

  • GWRC potentially undercutting unionised bus staff

  • Update to Domestic Violence Act

  • Staff at Auckland University go on Strike

  • Abortion, Bill

  • No Justice, No Peace

  • Airing Victoria’s Laundry… again

  • Features

  • CapitalC

    Capital C

    – SPONSORED – Tucked off busy Willis Street exists Wellington’s most ambitious food concept — Capital Market, the city’s current answer to the long-time global phenomenon that is the food court and home to the widest array of affordable food fare. With tall canopies, kaleidoscopic backdrops, and ill-fated pigeons on the prowl, the market announces […]

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  • FAFSWAG

    The Culture of Shame: Talanoaga ma Witch Bitch, FAFSWAG

    – SPONSORED – FAFSWAG is a Pacific Art Collective based in South Auckland. Their sub-group Witch Bitch, comprising of Sione, Manu, and Pati, brought their exhibition Statuesque Anarchy with curator Tanu to Enjoy Gallery, Wellington. Salote and Laura sat with them on the floor of the gallery to chat about their intersectional experiences of being […]

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  • Cloud_feature2

    Lament under the long white cloud

    – SPONSORED – TW: This article contains discussion of suicide and drug use.   After eight years I still have questions. Twelve and thirteen-year olds aren’t equipped to deal with suicide, and I remember sitting in the chapel feeling helpless; dumbly wondering at the magnitude of it all as your mother, father, and brother gave […]

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  • CapitalC

    Capital C

    – SPONSORED – Tucked off busy Willis Street exists Wellington’s most ambitious food concept — Capital Market, the city’s current answer to the long-time global phenomenon that is the food court and home to the widest array of affordable food fare. With tall canopies, kaleidoscopic backdrops, and ill-fated pigeons on the prowl, the market announces […]

    by

  • FAFSWAG

    The Culture of Shame: Talanoaga ma Witch Bitch, FAFSWAG

    – SPONSORED – FAFSWAG is a Pacific Art Collective based in South Auckland. Their sub-group Witch Bitch, comprising of Sione, Manu, and Pati, brought their exhibition Statuesque Anarchy with curator Tanu to Enjoy Gallery, Wellington. Salote and Laura sat with them on the floor of the gallery to chat about their intersectional experiences of being […]

    by

  • Cloud_feature2

    Lament under the long white cloud

    – SPONSORED – TW: This article contains discussion of suicide and drug use.   After eight years I still have questions. Twelve and thirteen-year olds aren’t equipped to deal with suicide, and I remember sitting in the chapel feeling helpless; dumbly wondering at the magnitude of it all as your mother, father, and brother gave […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • Eight Things I Hate About Call of Duty

    I fucking despise the Call of Duty (CoD) series. Or, rather, I despise what it has become: a symbol of everything wrong with the triple-A gaming industry. For your consideration, I offer a clickbait-style list of why this mind-bogglingly popular series needs to jump off a cliff, or at least take a break for a few years:

    1. The core shooting gameplay is, for the most part, unrewarding and does not require as much skill or strategy compared to most other shooters. You just “run and gun” until you reach the end of the level, or when the match ends in multiplayer. Compare that to a round of Counter-Strike, or even Overwatch, and the difference is night and day.

    2. All the single-player campaigns from Modern Warfare onwards are “corridor shooters,” offering almost no choice on how you can get from point to point. I like to explore a little when trying out a campaign, and CoD simply won’t let you do that. Single-player campaigns should be more than a series of set pieces linked by a generic action movie story.

    3. The series is the definitive “annual franchise” — every November, without fail, there’s a new CoD game. Most of the time they won’t even bother with any sort of innovation, and each game feels far too like its predecessor. The one time the series was truly innovative was with CoD 4: Modern Warfare, which pretty much defined the seventh generation of console gaming.

    4. When they tried again with Advanced Warfare in 2013, they just took the wall-running and jump-pack mechanics from Titanfall — a much superior game which deserves more love. Modern Warfare’s innovations and success led to a massive wave of clones, none of which are interesting in any way. The sole exception is Spec Ops: The Line, a vicious satire of these “modern military shooters” that calls them and the player out for participating in the glorification of war.

    5. Despite the series starting out as a PC exclusive, it is clear that the series only has console players in mind. The most recent games use a hybrid system, where if the servers have too much traffic it reverts to peer-to-peer connectivity, making lag more likely. Even with servers there isn’t a server browser; you’ll just be connected to the nearest one. PC gamers don’t like it when concessions like this are made, and I don’t blame them.

    6. Whenever I hear the term “CoD fan” a specific image pops in my head: an obnoxious, meat-headed dudebro who is obsessed with the gym, disrespects women, and only plays CoD because he just doesn’t know any better. Maybe I’m wrong, but this image only serves to make other gamers look bad.

    7. Because the series is Activision’s cash cow, they will try and squeeze every drop out of their fanbase. Multiplayer DLC map-packs have been part of CoD for years, even though they typically split the community into haves and have-nots. Every new game has pre-order bonuses and special editions up the wazoo, meaning you need a spreadsheet to figure out which version you want. Recent games have even introduced microtransactions, a very scummy practice considering they are full-priced games.

    8. And finally, there’s the bullshit with Modern Warfare Remastered. Not only did Activision hold this game for ransom, only being available to those who purchase a special edition of Infinite Warfare, they are selling the same map-packs as the original version for a higher price and have included microtransactions. This is for a remaster of a nearly ten-year old game! Does Activision hate its customers?

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  • The Sellout — Paul Beatty

    I finished the 2016 Man Booker Prize winner The Sellout, by Paul Beatty, for my birthday. It was both unfamiliar and tasty. Easy to fit on the fork and easy to snack on in one sitting.

    The main character and narrator, known only as the “sellout,” is funny and down to earth as he tells his tale of race relations in modern America. The jokes and pop culture references makes him both likeable and enduringly memorable. He is that one friend you’ve known for years.

    Beatty uses him to soften the blows of his narrative curve-balls. Many times I raised my eyebrows and announced to my empty bedroom, “what am I reading?” Through short stories and anecdotes, the story becomes clear — the sellout wants to bring segregation back to America.

    The floodgates are opened and everyone on the political spectrum receives scathing commentary. Those who ignore racism are dealt with harshly, as well as the left’s tendency to pander to victims of racism for the sake of virtue-signalling.

    What fascinated me most was the quote from the Guardian on the front cover: “The most lacerating American satire in years.” Yet Beatty refuses to allow it to be labelled a satire. Sure, it’s comical in parts, but it’s a more thoughtful commentary in a similar vein to C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. It’s so much easier to take out a message you already know and are comfortable with than to be challenged while reading.

    I think the book strives for unity and togetherness between different cultures. Beatty understands that we need a common cause to unite those who have grown up with different backgrounds and values. If you’re a silent class member, exhausted from political conversations, this is still a fun and enjoyable romp with engaging characters and a what’s going to happen next? storyline. Powerful, humbling, and definitely digestible.

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  • Say Why To Drugs

    From the medicinal marijuana debate to the increased use of methamphetamine, recreational drugs are at the forefront of New Zealand media. Often these stories are presented to us in a sensationalist manner, with complex issues of addiction reduced to purely law and order. The discussion about drugs from people around us can also be extreme:

    Your dad: “If you smell marijuana, you’ll end up addicted and in prison and what will I tell your mother then??”

    Gross guy at a house party: “Actually, LSD unlocked a new part of my mind. A lot of people don’t know that. I do my best drawings on acid…”

    We know these people are not quite correct. Yet there are so many myths wrapped around drugs that it’s often difficult to find out the facts.  

    Say Why To Drugs is an informative podcast hosted by psychologist Dr Suzi Gage and rapper Scroobius Pip. It takes a neutral stance on recreational drugs, attempting to seek out facts alone. Each episode is around half an hour long and covers a different drug, outlining its origins as well as the harms and benefits of use. The show also has a section dedicated to examining the accuracy of myths surrounding drugs. Gage and Pip are English, and accordingly discuss drugs that are especially prolific in the UK. However, this show easily translates to a New Zealand audience as domestic issues of law enforcement and legality are not debated.

    The presenters have a great dynamic, making the information accessible. Gage discusses the effects of recreational drugs on the human body and summarises the most recent research in a way that is simple and easy to understand. Pip is her enthusiastic pupil, asking questions and speaking honestly about his past experiences taking recreational drugs.  

    The scariest theme that persists throughout the podcast is how little is known about many recreational drugs due to difficulties in researching them. In order to discuss any social issue effectively, we need to be adequately informed. Start by informing yourself, and give Say Why To Drugs a listen.

    Episode to start with: MDMA

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  • 2017 Alliance Française | French Film Festival

    Things To Come (L’avenir) (2016)

    Director — Mia Hansen-Løve

    There is something incredible about European cinema in that, for some reason (I’m not an anthropologist, I don’t know what that reason is), it is more than willing to delve into the sadness and stress that occurs in everyday life.

    In American cinema, conflict often arises from your usual Oscar-bait story tropes — drug addiction, death in the family, struggling to realise your dreams, etc. But many films coming from Europe (saying Europe sounds strange; mainly France and Germany) seem more willing to admit that to be emotional, and for conflict to arise both before and after that emotion, is simply what it means to be human. Because of this, stories of minimal magnitude can be made riveting by filmmakers and creators who take the basic struggles of life and make them cinematic.

    There’s no sugar coating, but god the films are sweet anyway. Things To Come contains the basic theme of coming to terms with your own life, and moving forward with it. Isabelle Huppert, fresh off her much celebrated role of Elle (in the film Elle), plays Nathalie, whose life is not so much falling apart as merely changing for the worse. Jaded with the politics of her country and agitated by her eccentric and depressive mother she soldiers on, teaching philosophy at high school.

    Her’s is truly a case of a role being as well written as it is performed. While in Hollywood every second scene would have had her bursting into tears and bemoaning the woes of life, Nathalie puts her head down and quietly deals with each scenario as it unfolds. That said, her moments of extraordinary charisma are absolute scene-stealers, and there’s a small dash of humour to take the edge off — mostly in the form of an obese cat.

    It was a pleasure to watch this film unfold, particularly the contrast of the emotive youth in comparison to the intellectual adults. Elements of film rise and fall with subtlety, something which is echoed in the restrained, thoughtful, and beautiful directing and production.

     

    Planetarium (2016)

    Director — Rebecca Zlotowski

    This one I enjoyed… less so. In a very stylised portrait of Parisian high society in the ‘30s, sisters Laura and Kate Barlow entertain crowds by contacting the spirit realm, and attract the attention of a very wealthy man who wants their gifts to come to life on celluloid.

    This is a film about film, but also about a lot of other things. It’s about the relationship between the sisters, it’s about luxury, it’s about the past, and it’s a period piece. Sadly none of these elements are underpinned with an engaging story or interesting characters.

    When it comes to the central roles (Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp being the sisters and Emmanuel Salinger being the man with the movie camera) it’s not a question of sympathy; it’s merely the fact that you never have any reason to invest in or be entertained by any of the characters’ motives. Salinger comes across well with a hesitant fervour in his search for the supernatural, but neither Portman nor Depp bring much of interest to the table, and the later verges on non-acting in some scenes.

    The cinematography is undulating — sometimes beautiful but often over-lit and overly radiant; and the camera work is often close up and handheld in a way that feels constantly out of place. Before I could even think about the characters, I could barely process the choppy footage of simple social exchanges. To its credit, it is a film that tries to do its own thing, and the effort is very clear, but unfortunately it didn’t succeed. Potentially moving the focus away from the subject matter to its characters would have been to its benefit.

    If there’s anything to be learnt from festival films it is that scenario and subject matter are of little importance relative to characters and the narrative, and Planetarium may have gotten a little too carried away with its own subject.

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  • Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood — Sun Kil Moon

    A staple feature of Kozelek as a man, not just a musician, is that he is unapologetically frank about his thoughts and feelings — regardless of how they can be taken. Over the last three years of mainstream popularity he’s offended more than his fair share of people in the industry, including feminist reviewers, by calling a music journalist a “bitch” who wants to have his babies, and fans of The War On Drugs for telling them to “suck my cock” and then writing a song about it. Some editors have even taken to boycotting his music.

    Kozelek’s creative breakthrough Benji, released in 2014, focused entirely on mortality, the fragility of human life, and loss — whether that was friends, distant relatives he never knew, or those he’s never met, such as victims of the mass shootings in Sandy Hook. On first listening to the album, it frequently brought me to tears due to its extreme lyrical honesty. This new spoken word style of songwriting Mark was honing was completely devoid of metaphor and meant to be taken at face value; a far cry from the poetic stylings used previously in Among the Leaves (2012) and Admiral Fell Promises (2010).

    Ignoring last year’s releases, the epic 130-minute double album Common as Light and Love feels like the most natural progression of Benji. Kozelek speaks mostly about personal experiences, and songs are filled with digressions about David Bowie, politics, and meeting Owen Wilson at a friend’s place over lunch. If you’re not used to it, Mark’s spoken word storytelling comes across as rambly and without direction, but they are all featured with purpose. In listening closer there are a lot of interconnected themes and stories, which move in and out of his songs like a shifting tide.

    For example “Early June Blues” starts about the love for his partner, before moving into how affected he was after the death of Muhammed Ali. The next song “Bergen to Trondheim” is about gun violence in America and stirs up the Ali topic again, turning his two-word poem “Me, We” into the main hook of the song and an anthem for policy change. Kozelek does this multiple times over the album and some themes even carried through from Benji, particularly his love of true crime and thoughts on “why is the world simultaneously so beautiful and a pile of shit?”

    The musical arrangements on this album are a definite shift from Kozelek’s folk range that long-standing fans will have become so accustomed to, but still within the realms of the experimentation we’ve come to expect. Instead of fingerstyle guitar, music on this album is heavily driven by droning basslines on tracks like “Sarah Lawrence College Song”, or carried by repetitive synth loops and drums like on “Chili Lemon Peanuts”.

    Some timing and mid-song style changes take you completely off guard, like the bass and drum beat on “Highway Song” where Kozelek sings about driving to Sacramento, mentioning his love of “old west stuff” before breaking into quiet fingerpicking guitar and telling an 1851 true crime story.

    This album as a whole is an engrossing and challenging amalgamation of varying musical styles and detailed stories. Even at 130 minutes, I felt it only dragged at a couple points — a huge feat by any standards. If you’re unfamiliar with Mark Kozelek, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest living songwriters and most prolific indie/folk guitarists; this album helps to prove it.

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  • Statuesque Anarchy

    The exhibition Statuesque Anarchy opened at Enjoy Gallery on Cuba Street on March 9, marking the first time the prolific FAFSWAG, an LGBTQI+ Pacific arts collective from South Auckland, had a showing in our neck of the woods.

    Witch Bitch is a sub-group of FAFSWAG made up of artists Sione Monu, Pati Solomona Tyrell, and Manu Vea. Together with curator Tanu Gago, they performed Statuesque Anarchy as part of Tū whakahīhī e Te Whanganui-ā-Tara 2017.

    Statuesque Anarchy is an activation: involving a live performance and a video installation. On Thursday’s opening night, the Witch Bitch trio watched from the staircase above us, with foreboding eyes, as we entered the gallery. Tyrell held a salu, Monu a ili, and Vea a sapelu — all much bigger, more majestic, than their life-size versions. This was their space now.

    The artists became aitu. Or was it the other way around? The beauty of this show was that each prop, each chant, each monologue, each costume, straddled the line of humanity and divinity. It was jarring, and rightfully so.

    Fa’avae i le Atua Sāmoa. Sāmoa was founded on God.

    Pre-colonial spirituality in the Pacific was (and still is) often framed as “savagery” while post-colonial/post-conversion spirituality is “enlightenment”. The gender spectrum and fluid sexual orientation have been put firmly in the savage category. Witch Bitch seeks an understanding of the destructive legacy of this framing and, more importantly, move toward decolonisation.

    Any real understanding of ourselves and our existing cultures calls for an attempt to understand colonialism and what it did and is still doing to us.

    — Albert Wendt, 1978 (Towards A New Oceania).

    Saturday night saw a showcase of the wider FAFSWAG collective, featuring work from Monu, Tyrell, Vea, and Gago, as well as the multitalented visual media artist Mahia Jermaine Dean, and the fucking gorgeous Moe Laga, fresh off her TEDx Manukau debut, and other members of the collective.

    The showcase started with Tyrell reprising the role of aitu and this time there was a musical accompaniment. Tyrell’s siva was graceful and expressive, with the eyes following the hands as all good siva dancers have been taught to do, and was an early highlight of the showcase.

    The next part of the show was comprised of vignettes from the collective. Monu’s vignette on the underwhelming adventures on Grindr was juxtaposed by the all-powerful aitu Monu and the intuitive stardust that is Sione. Vea’s poetry was inspired by his grandmother, the great teacher of pettiness, and the formidable Divas of De La Salle. Vea’s charm lay as much in his unassuming candor with the audience as it did with the words of the poems. Dean’s enthralling Takeover of the CBD and Laga’s hilarious and insightful monologues were also highlights of the showcase, as well as Laga’s foray with URBAN THREADS, the coolest coven in the fight against fast fashion and body-policing, giving us the greatest IG bio line in history: “why would I want to be classy when we’re not even in the same class?”

    The literal cost of not doing this work is human life.

    —Tanu Gago, 2017.

    One of the last vignettes shown was a piece by collective member Jaycee. The piece highlighted the systemic discrimination and pervasive violence that trans women of colour face. In Pacific spaces the “performance of femininity” is still widely considered comedic — take the ever-present Aunty Tala character. There is a targeted violence against trans women under the guise of religious or moral concerns, an issue with devastating consequences. FAFSWAG’s work in promoting Pacific LGBTQI+ experiences is important and revolutionary.

    For all our sakes, we need to do better. We must do better.

    Say her name in your thoughts.

    #MyNameIsJeanine #BeautifulJeanine

    — Samoa Fa’afafine Association to Samoa Observer, 2016 (“We need to do better, we must do better”).

    Statuesque Anarchy was a night of constant highlights and a masterclass in interdisciplinary artistic expression. The vignettes were wonderfully created, the activation gave me goosebumps down my back, the spoken words were enchanting, the voguing was fabulous, and the Aitu Ball sneak peak finale was fire. My heart is full and thankful.

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  • Pixies — TSB Bank Arena, March 10

    The Pixies, possessors of the finest loud/quiet dynamic in guitar music, purveyors of Dali-esque surrealism and tales of sexual depravity, landed in Wellington on Friday night to seduce the crowd with their dark magic dust.

    The band launched into the double whammy of “Gouge Away” and “Wave of Mutilation” with the fury of a band whose power remains undiminished since their formation in Boston 30-odd years ago.

    Mass sing-alongs of the calmer and poppier “Here Comes Your Man” and “Where is My Mind?” ensued, demonstrating fans’ affection for their pop hooks. Viewing the whole, mostly middle-aged, mosh pit raging like drunken sailors in a bar fight to more frantic oddities such as “Crackity Jones” and “Vamos” further encapsulated their fans’ joy.

    Material from recent release Head Carrier had the quietest crowd engagement throughout, although songs such as “Classic Masher” proved a welcome respite from the intensity of their heavier material (this was, after all, a tour in support of the new album).

    The mammoth 30-song set ended with the encore climax of “Into the White”, an especially unsettling number, sung by new bass player Paz Lenchantin, that the band performed invisibly — completely engulfed in a cloud of white smoke illuminated by flashing lights. This was tantamount to where the charms of the show often lay: the Pixies perform with risk to fully embrace the danger in their music, the operative devil in the details. The Pixies remain a vital force to be reckoned with.

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  • God Help the Child — Toni Morrison

    A blue-black baby is born to a mother who’s so scared of her she almost wants to smother her then and there. But she doesn’t, instead she raises her, alone, and makes sure that she’s disciplined, that she’s well-behaved, and knows the way the world works. To ensure, the mother thinks, that she’ll be as safe as she can keep her.

    The baby, she’s called Lula Ann but renames herself Bride, grows up and makes a success of her life. She’s got a high-paying job, she’s turned out smoking hot, and she’s got a boyfriend who she doesn’t know anything about, but their sex is insane.

    The boyfriend breaks up with her. Then she decides to pay a visit to a woman she knew a long time ago. A woman she helped put in jail as a child. At this point, everything begins to morph and twist and crumble through her blue-black hands. And alongside it, a kind of body horror reversion — why is she suddenly hairless like a small girl again? Why do the earring holes in her pierced ears heal up all of a sudden? What the hell is going on?

    Morrison, an African-American novelist with both a Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize to her name, is extraordinary. She takes these thousand strands of life and weaves them together into something that’s not quite reality, not quite resolved, but very true.

    Life is presented as intricately together with pain. But equally, ultimately, together with hope. God Help the Child will lead you to stare at your own skin — whichever colour. But, of course, it matters what colour in different ways, as what are the burdens we carry with us? From so long ago, from when we were children.

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  • Frankie Cosmos/Greta Kline Interview

    Frankie Cosmos’ Next Thing (2016) is another testament to Greta Kline’s striking ability to pull from the past, and produce a fun yet emotional series of poetic pop songs. Kline grants her listeners more than a glimpse into some of her most quintessentially “teenage” moments in Next Thing, with retrospective whispers of young love and hurt underpinned by universally endearing melodies. Prior to their show at Moon last Friday, Salient talked to Greta about the new album, among other things.

    Greta. Shannon Harrison. 2017.

    Greta. Shannon Harrison. 2017.

     

    Salient: So you’re promoting Next Thing that came out almost a year ago now. Are you enjoying touring?

    Greta: Yeah!

    S: Where have you been so far?

    G: In the last year? We toured in America quite a few times, and in Europe a couple times. We went to maybe eleven countries in Europe. We just went to Australia, and now we’re here, next we’re going to Japan!

     

    S: I’ve noticed your album is quite retrospective, I guess of your teenage years, would you say you draw on your past a lot when writing?

    G: It’s kind of a mix. I feel like I’m best at writing about the past, more than the current stuff. Because I feel the more I’ve processed something and thought about it over and over again, the better I can distil it into something I can write about. So it takes some time to get to the point where I’m writing what I want to about whatever experience.

     

    S: Some of your songs sound like poems, especially the end of “Young” from Fit Me In. Do you start out with little poems, then go from there?

    G: Yeah often it starts as a poem. The ending of “Young” — I actually remember writing it as a poem first. I think it was part of another poem. I remember where I was when I was writing it. Then, later, I was like “I’m gonna use these as a weird tail-ending for a song.” But overall, it depends. I think usually when I’m writing a poem, it’s like “this is a poem,” then when I’m writing lyrics, it’s like “these are going to be lyrics.” Sometimes I end up mixing them.

     

    S: Next Thing seems an ode to teenhood. Do you feel nostalgic for your teen years?

    G:  I definitely feel I’m still in my teen years, even though I know that I’m not. But I’m definitely, constantly, brought back to those feelings, and feeling very new in the world. I feel I’m still going through a lot of firsts. But I sometimes get nostalgic for the purity, and the openness that I had as a teenager, that I don’t really have now. Sometimes I feel myself getting more closed off, and I try and hold on to the part of me that wants to express every feeling, and the part of me that wants to give love really fully, and not really worry about repercussions.

     

    S: Your song “I’m 20” — I listened to it over and over on my birthday.

    G: Oh really? Haha! Cool!

    S: It felt pretty relevant with the lyrics “I’m 20, washed up already.” Kind of felt like those words were cementing the end of your teenhood, and I really got that feeling too.

    G: Yeah! It’s definitely about a fear y’know — you don’t wanna get old, you don’t wanna get jaded. Getting old is fine as long as you’re getting wiser or something. But I got a little bit scared about watching this band unravel into a business. It’s about worrying your motives about things change, and wanting to hold onto your real motives behind everything.

     

    S: Your lyrics in songs – they’re fun but, from what you’ve said, they’re deep as well. Is that something you strive for? What kind of vibe do you want the band to have?

    G: I definitely like it to be fun! I have a lot of fun performing, but I also have a lot of fun crying. I like big emotional experiences. I’m all for the audience having fun, and feeling included. I want them to also, whether or not they’re having fun, be able to share in the emotional experience of it too. Often what I’m trying to express is maybe… not like a lesson that I’ve learnt or something, but wherever I’m at about a feeling — I’m always trying to express that. So whether it’s something I’m saying or something in the song, I want them to, whether or not they know it, walk away with that. Though I don’t know if that’s really a possible thing. That’s my dream for someone to even accidentally learn something about themselves or the world from hearing about someone else’s experience.

    S: That’s really nice.

    G: In saying that, people can experience it however they want and that’s cool too!

     

    S: Would you say from when you were a teenager to now your views on the kind of things you’ve been through have changed a lot? Do you think from this album you’ve looked at them through wiser eyes?

    G: Totally! Even since writing this album I feel I still have different views on the stuff I was writing about. They’re constantly changing. The older I get, the more I understand other people’s perspectives. Whether it means forgiving or apologising for them, like based on knowing that they’re also a person, like having empathy, that side of me is always growing. Next Thing is pretty angry a lot of times. The new songs I’m writing are maybe more vague? Or they’re more general because they’re less about like me being mad… I don’t know, I’m always changing my views. I mean I’m still learning how to be, even outside of music, like how to be a friend, or how to wake up and feed myself — just basic human stuff. So yeah it’s always changing.

     

    S: Friendship is a prominent aspect in a lot of your songs. You talk about your friends a great deal. Would you say they have influenced you and this album, or the writing?

    G: Yeah! I have a lot of good friends who are also artists, and their music or art always affects me no matter what. I’m always inspired by the people that I surround myself with. So yeah, I can see the ways that I was influenced by my friends’ art. But also even my friends who are my band mates, they bring so much of their personal style to this band so you can definitely see how friendship forms a song. And also I think a really beautiful thing about friendship is that you’re your own person and that’s amazing and then when you’re with your friend you have such a special bond, you become another person.

    S: Yeah!

    G: You like who you are when you’re together, and I feel in the same way that’s what having a band is. Everyone has got their own music ideas, and then you come together and its such a different thing when you’re working together.

    S: You take parts from each other, and then even when you’re by yourself those parts are still there.

    G: Yeah totally.

     

    S: Out of all your projects which has been the most fun? I know you were in Porches, and you had the Ingrid Superstar stuff.

    G: Frankie Cosmos is definitely the most fun! It is the best vibe ever being in this band and going on tour and stuff. We’re all like really excited about it. All the other solo projects and stuff that I did were just trying to find a name, but it’s all basically Frankie Cosmos in my head. Like Ingrid Superstar is just me writing stuff. But yeah I definitely like being the main writer, and I love being in this band.

     

    S: Okay this is probably a difficult question for any musician, but do you think it’s more important to make the music for yourself, or something the fans will connect with?

    G: Oh man! I think that it’s a good plus if people can connect with what you’re making but I think that if you try and make something for people to connect with that’s not how it works. I think if you’re true to yourself, there’s people out there that will connect with you. And some people aren’t going to, and that’s fine. I definitely think for me personally I wouldn’t want to be a working musician if it meant making music that I didn’t 110% believe in. So I have to be my favourite — I have to be my number one fan. Always. Because if I don’t like it then what’s the point busting my ass going on tour you know? So I think the audience comes later — no offence to the audience…because they are totally what keeps us alive!

    S: I kind of think no matter what you write someone is going to connect with it.

    G: Yeah, exactly!

     

    S: So you grew up in New York. Did you find it gave you more opportunities breaking into the scenes or did you find it just as hard making a name for yourself since there’s so many hopefuls?

    G: Yeeeah, I don’t know! I mean, just from the perspective of a really young person who’s interested in music, I think being in New York was amazing because there are so many all ages venues, or there were when I was growing up. It was just a really good place to have access to culture as a young person and learn about that. I was involved in the music scene from a young age and so in that way it was a huge benefit to me. But in terms of making a name for myself? I wasn’t really ever trying to so I never got disappointed or jaded. Some bands start off and they’re like, “we really wanna be successful!” and so if they play ten shows to zero people they get really bummed out. For me just playing a show was so exciting that it never really got to the point where I was disillusioned or bummed out, or didn’t wanna keep trying because I wasn’t trying to do anything… I just wanted to keep playing. I basically asked everyone I knew all the time, “Can I play? Can I open every show?” and it just worked somehow…

     

    S: Speaking of New York, do you have a favourite spot that you go to and feel inspired, or just a favourite spot in general?

    G: Yeah totally! It’s definitely the Natural History museum. Secretly it’s “pay what you wish” which is basically free, so you can go there every day. I really like the murals of the animals, or the dioramas of the animals. I really like dioramas.

     

    S: Do you ever just walk round and an idea for a song will come into your head and you’ll scribble it down no matter where you are?

    G:  All the time! Almost every good idea I ever have is like that. Whether I’m just writing it down really quickly or sometimes I’ll just take out my phone and pretend to be on my phone and I’ll be walking down the street singing an idea into my phone’s voice memos. Those always become the best songs I think.

     

    S: Something more light — what was your teen anthem?

    G: I’m gonna say it was probably… like, oh man. I really liked local bands. I was listening to No One and Somebodies, and Fiasco, and Old Table, which were these three New York bands. If I’m being honest, the song that has the most listens on my iTunes from that age range was probably “It’s Alright” by Old Table. Really good song.

     

    S: What’s your favourite song to play each set?

    G: Ooh it depends on the room. But right now I really like, and we’ve been opening most nights with this song, “Correctly”, which is a demo that I put out. We perform it as a lead in to “Floated In” from Next Thing. I like that, it’s probably never going to be on an album so it’s fun to play it. It’s a good way to open… it feels good.

     

    S: I really love the song “Young”. The line at the end particularly — “I just wanna be alive that’s it.” What does that mean to you?

    G: I guess it’s just, for me, I can’t even think about making plans for the future or anything because all I’m thinking about is just figuring out how to be a person, everyday, just literally getting out of bed and eating three meals, y’ know. Just taking care of myself a little bit and being a good person, maybe? It’s hard enough to do the simple things, but I think for me that’s what that line is about right now — just trying to get through, just being alive, and then focus on the plan for our band, or any other bigger things to think about.

     

    S: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the response to your music? Every time you play gigs I imagine people come up and tell you how much they resonate with your music.

    G: Yeah it’s amazing. It’s still really shocking every time because we’re going to all these new places, meeting new people, and it’s unbelievable to me that people care about my songs. I just think it’s cool because I would be making them either way, but it’s definitely nice encouragement. It reminds me that I’m in the right place and doing the right thing and that’s really special.

     

    S: What was the last album that you bought that meant a lot to you?

    G: I recently bought a CD of Cherry Peel by of Montreal. It’s a really good record. I don’t buy a lot of stuff to own so I bought that to have in the car whilst on tour sometime this year. Actually it was the last CD I ever bought from my favourite record store in New York that closed.

     

    S: So… have you got a dog yet?

    G: Noooo! I really want one. But it’s so impossible as a touring musician. But my dream is to convince my parents to get a dog.

    S: What kind of dog would you want?

    G: Literally any dog. Preferably a rescue dog. I think that all dogs are amazing. I love them so much. I try and dog sit sometimes.

     

    S: After you go to Japan what are you doing?

    G: We’re going home for a month, and we’re going to try finish our record. Then we’re gonna go on another American tour, then another European tour, then another two American tours, all before the end of this year. Got my year cut out for me…

    S: That’s intense… you do have your year planned.

    G: It’s crazy to be able to see that far ahead. It’s weird.

    S: Just please don’t over-work yourself okay, because we want you back here…

    G: Haha I’ll try. We got some time off, we’ll be home a little bit.

    by

  • On the Dramatic Arts (or “Theatre” if you’re not a pretentious shit), and why you should write about it for Salient.

    Free theatre? In Wellington? Tell me more, in around 500 words, for publishing reasons.

    Seems a bit specific, but sure: I’m Sean Harbottle, an insufferably British theatre editor for Salient. I’ve reviewed both amateur and professional theatre for student media in Vancouver and in the UK for about a year and a half now.

    Theatre editor? So wait, what do you actually do?

    Through an arrangement that I don’t fully understand, Salient gets free tickets to theatre in Wellington, for critics (me) to attend and write about. More importantly, if others are interested, they can attend and write it up instead.

    But is reviewing really relevant anymore? And why should people listen to an amateur reviewer, anyway?

    When tickets can cost upwards of $25 for cheap seats, you’re making a bet that’s generally quite expensive for students. As in, “I bet that this piece is worth my time and money that could be spent eating $7 lamb roti canai and drinking $8 chardonnay.” Wouldn’t you feel a lot easier about making your bet if there was a student like you, who had already seen it and said “yeah, I’ve seen a few of these shows, and you NEED to see this one” or “nah, give it a miss”?

    That sounds cool! One problem though: I can’t write theatre reviews.

    Did you see Moonlight?

    Of course. I thought it was a brilliant character study with some stirring dialogue. Its depiction of an LGBT+ narrative in Black American suburbia is even more important considering the rampant whitewashing in Hollywood and the current political shitshow. I liked it!

    Did you know it was originally based upon characters, dialogue, and situations from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, an unpublished play by main writer Tarell Alvin McCraney? All of what you just said would be great as a theatre review, if Moonlight was staged as a play.

    So the same criteria can apply to theatre? I just have to say whether I liked it or not and why?

    That’s generally the idea. Obviously it’s a bit more complicated, because there are amazing things about theatre that films/music/your mate’s amateur art exhibition (where they broke an iPhone and called it anti-social networks) can’t replicate. It’s dangerous: nowhere else are you so close to absolute carnage, whether planned or unplanned. I’ve had Kevin Spacey’s spit on my face from when he was performing as Richard III in London, seen full-frontal male nudity in a dance piece on election night instead of watching Donald Trump gesticulate, and been seduced by Lucy the Slut at Avenue Q. You don’t get that at the Paramount. But you do get to write about it, and get so much better and more confident each time you do.

    Okay, I think I’m ready to begin my career as an earnest theatre writer. Where do I start?

    My email is harbottlesean@gmail.com. Or, even better, come see me or one of the Salient editors at our office in the Student Union Building. The password is “Death of A Salesman is underrated.”

    by

  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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