Responsible Musicians and Climate Change

It goes without saying, but it has to be said anyway! Greta Thunberg and other young activists undoubtedly had a massive impact on the way we think about climate change. So much so, that her activism has permeated the way bands such as Coldplay and The 1975 promote and produce music. The 1975, and artists such as Dave have been recognised for writing ‘protest music’ and speaking candidly about race, police brutality and sexuality through their music. It begs the question of if self-aware artists have a responsibility to make such music; such art imitates and examines life, and brings it to their large fan followings.

Greta herself has had direct involvement with The 1975, with a spoken-word piece on their upcoming album Notes on a Conditional Form. In it she restates her position on the need to act on the climate crisis. This relates to songs that the band have released in the last couple of years, including the song Love It If We Made It which laments political turmoil and inaction by large governments on immigration, climate change and police brutality.

The proceeds from Greta’s track on The 1975’s new album will go towards the Extinction Rebellion. The band have always been very vocal about their left-wing political leanings and the need for all of us to be more aware of current affairs and the need for action on a variety of issues. So much so, that they protested during their performance at Coachella 2019.

Not only are The 1975 speaking about climate action through their music, their record label. Dirty Hit, is also making efforts to minimise the environmental impact of their merchandise and concerts. Their office has phased out all single-use plastic and is working to minimise the impact of vinyl LP production. The 1975’s new merchandise line is also environmentally friendly, with the band asking fans to bring old band tshirts to reprint their new album logo onto them. Fans also donated clothes to be recycled into new T-shirts.

Not wanting to be accused of hypocrisy, and also putting the impact of their music into action, the band are holding a festival in Finsbury Park this summer (coronavirus permitting of course!), with a gender-balanced lineup they have chosen, after their commitment to only play gender-balanced festivals going forward. The festival will feature branded water bottles for people to use and take home at the event, and be powered by renewable energy.

Coldplay have made a similar move in ceasing all overseas concerts until they can offer ‘environmentally beneficial’ concerts. This is in support of their new album, Everyday Life. They played a show in Jordan which was made into an album film, and played a show in the Natural History Museum, with proceeds going towards environmental charity ClientEarth.

Whether a publicity stunt or not, popular artists, including Billie Eilish, are taking a stand on environmental issues and working towards responsible touring. It seems art is trying to make amends for the mistakes we are making day to day. As music permeates most of our lives on a daily basis, it seems to be the best way to reach people and move them to take action. Participating in such concerts and supporting such artists is just the start of how we can support both the climate movement and responsible artistry.

India Wants The Whole World – An Interview

I started following India on Instagram when I first started my blog, and she’s been a huge source of inspiration to me. Her feed and the stories she tells on her blog have inspired me to try out film and tell stories as well as she does. I highly recommend checking out her blog and her photos, it’s a real treat for your usual Instagram feed.

As she’s answered these questions so well, I’m going to not spam you with my ramblings, and let her work speak for itself.

Do you remember when you first picked up a camera?

• When I was 12. I had been taking terrible photos on phone cameras (as in phone cameras with VGA quality) but I was talking to my dad more and more about photography and he knew I really wanted to improve. He’s a hoarder and is also stuck in some previous decade so he had a bunch of film cameras lying around, which he started giving to me to experiment with. I remember my first roll of film. There were probably around four good photos out of the thirty-six and it took me over a month to complete the roll, but that began my wanderings around my town looking for beauty.

Why did you choose to shoot film?

• I don’t think I even chose film. I used film cameras before I used digital ones, so for me it was the default. When I started using compact digital cameras for holidays and parties, I knew I didn’t like the quality as much as I liked the quality of film. So I improved with digital photography but put more effort, time and money into film because I loved the final product more.

What about shooting film fulfils you?

• Film fulfils my desire to capture snapshots. I can’t think too hard about what I’m capturing, I just know I have to capture it right away. My trusty Nikon EM is perfect for that, it figures out the exposure and I just have to be ready to manually focus and shoot. But I also love having a limited amount of photos to shoot and knowing that each one costs you. It means that even when you’re shooting snapshots, you know that each one needs to matter. I love getting back a roll of film full of gems.

What are some pros and cons you find in shooting film? Likewise with digital? How did that influence your preference for film?

• Pros: being able to physically hold a photograph in my hands, requesting that the photo paper is matte and not glossy, establishing a great relationship with the guy who runs my local Snappy Snaps, spending hours in the darkroom alone blasting music and seeing my own face appear on paper submerged in diluted chemicals. It’s all so beautiful. I feel like I’m in a movie when I’m in the darkroom and the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

• Cons: pure stress over whether or not I’ve loaded the film correctly, forgetting how many photos I have left to shoot, actually realising that I have fucked it all up and have lost precious memories, spending soooo much money on film and developing, running out of film during my travels. The first time I visited the darkroom alone I used some outdated developer and totally screwed up the negative so none of my summer memories came to life. God, I was so pissed! But all of my mess-ups with film only push me to correct my method and get better results next time.

• Pros and cons for digital: it’s essential for when I’m doing paid work for others. I cannot trust film to sufficiently deliver in low-light venues and it is obviously not useful to be so limited in how many photos I can take. But it’s not anywhere near as beautiful and soulful and moving as film. My own digital work rarely impresses me as much as film does. I like digital but it lacks all the personality and flaws of film.

What are your favourite stories to tell through your work?

• My favourite time to shoot is when I’m on holiday. I want to document everything so I always stock up heavily on film before I go. I can never shoot black and white on holiday because my own memories are so colourful and I want the physical photographs to reflect that. I go out walking for hours, just looking at people and buildings and food, trying to restrain how many photos I take. I rarely succeed and end up paying £60 to develop shots when I return home. But it’s worth it! I can hardly wait when I return to England to go to the developer and make all my memories become tangible again. The story I tell through those holiday shots is just my pure joy in observing new and beautiful things.

Any advice for people who want to shoot film?

• Do it!!!! Please, do it. You can find cheap film cameras from charity shops, old people, my father, eBay, even Boots. You can always start with that disposable camera then go buy yourself some £5 compact point and shoot which lets you document parties in the most fun way possible. Then just move upwards and outwards, finding which brands of cameras/film you like most. Shop around for developing options – I’ve recently started sending my film off in the post to a place in Hull which does high quality prints for a (relatively) affordable price. If you are dissatisfied with the quality of your local Max Spielmann or Boots, stop going there! Your film shots deserve the best quality you can afford.

What is/are your muse(s)?

• I adore Adama Jalloh, who shoots black people in black and white, highlighting all the depth and beauty of their skin and distinct British culture. I also love Vicky Grout, another British female photographer, whom I once emailed for advice and received a very friendly and helpful reply from. She is pretty much living my dream, photographing all my favourite rappers.

What can we expect from your blog next?

• Well, if all goes to plan, I should be spending most of my 21st year on Earth in a very different environment from England. I don’t want to give too much away yet but expect lots of travel joy from me!

Anything else you’d like to add about your photo blogging experience?

• The biggest thing I have learnt and keep needing to remind myself is to just post what I like. Shoot what I like. Work with people whose faces I like. My photographs are for me, ultimately, and there is no point in me trying to be someone else, make my photos look like they were taken by someone else etc. I am my favourite photographer.

Portobello

The road market, not the mushrooms. Although someone definitely was selling portobello mushrooms 😂

Hi readers! I’ve been a bit quiet on the ‘gram this week as didn’t want to post anything until I’d written something. I’m trying to post better content, which will make me feel good and also hopefully add something to your day.

So about two weeks ago (god time flies), my housemates from university came down to London to stay with me. It was a weekend that was needed very much. It was almost as if family were visiting and we had a lot of laughs and hopefully decent food (as it was made by yours truly).

Other than reuniting and gallivanting around Covent Garden because Dishoom made a mistake with my brunch booking (y u do dis Dishoom), we decided we’d visit Portobello Road market, something my friend Anu and I had been meaning to do for months.

Given that we’re basic, wannabe hipsters we were enamoured by lanes lined with colourful houses. I wonder if people who live around the area are paid for being part of a major tourist attraction. What would it be like to live in a pink house that everyone photographs everyday?

From lanterns and vintage stores to Greek food and street musicians, there’s something for everyone at London’s oldest and most diverse market. Anu ended up arguing for a donut in Hindi – why the shop assistant tried to make us take the pistachio instead of the Nutella donut remains a mystery.

It was a very cold weekend, with flurries of snow and biting cold driving us into a coffee shop to take shelter. But overall, the melting pot vibe was evident on every street corner, and I definitely need to come back here to take even more artsy photos, probably on my film camera. Could I BE any more basic?

Anyway, thank you for reading my drivel. Here are some photos, a lot of which I ended up not posting on Instagram so ENJOY!

Disposable

I’ve recently started following a lot of film photographers. I was first inspired by my close friend Hannah from school, who owns a Nikon F301 (I think). She often brought it out whenever we did day trips in Hong Kong, and while I was confused as to why she wouldn’t use a digital camera, I always admired the quality.

Oslo, Stavanger and Tromsø, Norway. Photo credits: Hannah Chijiwa Morgan.

I think what really got me into film, at least as of now, is a blog by a junior of mine at university. Her name is India and her photos are out of this world! I really love the thought she puts into her posts, how inventive she is with her work, and she always has really meaningful stories to her captions. I would highly recommend checking her blog out!

**I’ll be publishing an interview that India and I did very soon, stay tuned!**

I also have started following accounts like Everybody Film, 305c and Joel Chua, as well as Kodak, Ilford and instant film accounts such as Polaroid, Lomography, Instax and so on.

My primary aim for my photography was to take photos on a DSLR. I’ve had the model in mind for some time and have been saving up for it. However, I have noticed some bloggers using both film and digital, and whilst digital’s quality is amazing, there’s something majestic, timeless and profound about the quality and thought that goes into composing a film shot.

In order to decide whether or not I wanted to pursue film photography, I bought a recycled Kodak disposable camera from Boots, and recently got it developed.

Only 18 shots of the 36 that I had showed up when developing, because of the quality of the camera itself, but here are a few that turned out somewhat averagely.

The darkroom guy at Boots then proceeded to tell me how to take photos using film and what film to use; it was essentially a film photography lesson that went entirely over my head, so I’ll need to go back with my Pentax and get more free photography lessons from him!

The great thing about shooting digital – whether it’s on a DSLR (which I don’t have yet) or on my phone (which is what I’ve been using so far), is that you can see how your shot will look before you take it, and the end result is instant. That’s also the case with instant film, but, and sorry for stating the obvious, you have a clear photo on your device that you can easily edit and share. It’s very instant gratification.

Digital photography is great. I’m still going to pursue buying a DSLR and trying to hone how I take photos with my phone. However, whilst using the disposable, as obvious as this sounds yet again, I realised how much we take photos for granted. While using the disposable I had no idea if there was a light leak on my photos, if it was in focus, if it was blurry, what the colours looked like, if I liked the photo in general.

And for some reason, I really like that feeling. A lot of thought has to go into film photography, and while I’ll continue to pursue digital, I think film will help me appreciate the art of photography a lot better, and make me feel like I’ve gained some proper technical photography skills.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these photos. Without spoiling what’s to come, I do plan to do more film photography, and more investigation into photography as a craft.

#FoodCrawlLDN: Soho

 

It’s been quite a while since I went on a food crawl with Yuen and Mallika. As we’re meeting up tomorrow, I thought I’d pay tribute to the first time we committed ourselves to being the Food Crawl Trio; during our impromptu dessert run around Chinatown, instead of supposedly going to see Lumiere London 2018.

We did, however, mean to go eat poké! I often describe poké to people as deconstructed sushi, but it actually originated in Hawaii, and was influenced by Japanese cuisine due to Hawaii’s proximity to Japan and due to the number of ethnically Japanese people that live in Hawaii.

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As lovers of raw salmon and poké, the three of us had been trying to organise a time and place to devour a bowl each for months. Finally, Yuen, who is now officially our planning goddess, found Honi Poké in Soho. For about 8 pounds, they give you a pretty generous helping of salmon and toppings. We all ended up getting the salmon poké, and as usual I ended up finishing Mallika’s food for her.

Once we were supposedly full and fully intending to go see the Lumiere, we chanced upon Boba Jam, and thought “let’s get dessert. But not just one dessert, lots of dessert.”

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And so, the food crawl was born.

Boba Jam’s mille-feulle crepe was delightful. I love crepes and I love cream, and the mille feulle crepe can only be described as absolute perfection.

We then headed to Chinatown, where we lined up outside Bubblewrap Waffle for half an hour to get their famous bubble waffles. It was decent, but I’ve had better loaded and traditional bubble waffles in Hong Kong. In London, Nosteagia is by far better than Bubblewrap.

Whilst maneuvring how to devour our waffle, a sea of dragons passed us.

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Just kidding, it was the Lumiere Festival’s Chinatown exhibit.

We finished up our night of delicacies at Four Winters, with a very happy looking penguin, fresh ice cream made of dry ice and a molten cake pudding.

I’m super excited for more food adventures in London, which is why the three of us are heading to Ekachai tomorrow! Check out my Instagram story tomorrow at 8PM GMT!

 

#FoodCrawlLDN: BOXPARK Shoreditch

One of my favourite pastimes in London is trying out various different foods in one sitting. I call this a food crawl; a bar crawl but better. It involves going to different eateries and trying something at each one, with friends who also love food.  I did it at the Cheese Project, I’ve now done it at Boxpark and also in Soho (that blog post is coming soon!

Having done our first food crawl in Soho, after meaning to see the Lumiere Festival, I rounded up Yuen and Mallika, my favourite food crawl partners, for a trip to Boxpark Shoreditch.

Boxpark is full of pop-up eateries and stores selling everything from novelty socks to interactive bucket lists and even Korean skincare products. The main attraction for me anywhere is always the food, and as soon as we arrived I made a beeline for the top floor, where a lot of the food popups were.

The most memorable thing we ate, in my opinion, were the Guaca-Fries!

Guacafries are a glorious gastronomic invention. Crispy wedges and grilled halloumi with generous dollops of the freshest guacamole and lashings of hot sauce; what’s not to love? I’ll definitely be seeking out Poptata’s guacafries at the next food market I’m at. They were as memorable as Oli Baba’s halloumi fries.

The dog and cat this video gave me some serious Nosteagia (geddit) for traditional stores in Hong Kong and egg waffle stands in popular street corners. The blessing cat (and dog) are frequently located within sight of the entrance to bring wealth and prosperity to the buyer and seller.

Our food outing at Nosteagia was certainly very prosperous. We got to create our own bubble waffle – a matcha waffle with Thai milk tea ice cream, Nutella, coffee jelly and a chocolate chip cookie!

In my opinion, Nosteagia is much better than Bubblewrap waffle in Chinatown, one because there’s no queue and two because their flavour combinations are amazing, and you can create your own! The overall quality of the ingredients is better too.

And finally, Soft Serve Society. When I told people of my plans to visit Boxpark, many emphatically encouraged me to make sure Soft Serve Society was on my food crawl list. I’m glad they did! I was lucky enough t be one of the last few to get their limited weekly special, the tiramisu sundae. Yuen got her favourite; matcha, and Mallika adventurously tried charcoal coconut. They were all amazingly smooth and rich flavours, and I’d definitely go back to try them all again. Mallika thought her ice cream looked like cement, which it did, but there are some things you just do for the ‘gram. 😂

And of course, no trip to Shoreditch is complete without taking artsy photos of graffiti.

And famous London landmarks like The Gherkin.

Thanks for reading! If there are any food markets, restaurants or popups in London that I should try, please comment below or DM me on Instagram @itsagidlife. Happy eating!

There is a hole in our hearts

Tears roll down his weathered cheeks, reminiscent of the Mumbai monsoon season she loved. The parrots on the balcony were once bright blue and green, and are now the colour of hospital curtains. There is no one to feed them peanuts, no one to entertain their whims, and no one who will describe them in such close detail on a long distance call.

She is kung pao potato, she is sugar maani and churi after prayers on Mondays.

She is the purple drawstring bag, embroidered with my name on in red, a smiley face stitched inside the letter “o”.

She is the salwars and churidahs she used to wear, the gold bangles she always tried to make me keep, but I could never take them from her. She is the rings on her finger, that they had to take off as if she was about to bake a cake.

She is the Polo mints in her bag, the chutki paan and Hindi nighttime soaps

She is fresh coconut water and shouting at the dining table to get her son to eat more, even when she had permanently lost her appetite

She is the masala chai she used to make, the walks by the waterfront and the windy mornings on the balcony, doing yoga and breathing exercises

She is a sun chaser. No matter how much pain she was in, she would wrap up in layers upon layers and have us walk her to the balcony, just to stare at the sunrise, the sunset, the sun in general. She knew she would become part of that radiant light one day, that would shine on all of us.

But while the sun still shines, and while I try to make more chai,  we all try to look like we have overcome this. A supposedly strong yet brittle son. A grieving daughter with a cheerful facade. A daughter-in-law who tied the family together. Grandchildren who cried at her funeral, who will never feel her warm embrace again.

But no one can forget the very sad man reading the newspaper in the corner of the living room. The man who sips his tea slowly, without adding sugar like she used to do. The man who does not drink anymore. The man who joined the yoga classes she used to go to. The man who never had anyone else.

For fifty-two years, she was his life. She was his wife, his motherly love, the pleasant full feeling in his heart and stomach, his confidante, his very best friend.

And after fifty-two years, they had a precious six months together.  He kept chasing the sun with her, pushed her to take her medicines, kept her spirit going. And she sensed that he was the once who needed the most mental support. In all her woes, she gave him that until the very end.

Try as you might, you cannot reach his core without crying yourself to sleep. He is used to being the rock, but even rocks are eroded by tears.

There is a hole in our hearts that will never be filled,

and the pickle jars, once full of love, are now full of faint, lingering sweetness.