Box Sized DIE – suffocating death metal bands in the name of art

Box Sized DIEThis morning I took a detour on the way to the office, up to 30 St Mary Annexe in the City Of London. Or The Gherkin, as it’s better known.

Outside the front entrance were a row of press photographers and smartly-dressed City types all eagerly snapping shots of death metal band, Unfathomable Ruin. I know I shouldn’t pre-judge, but I’m guessing most people who work in the Gherkin get that excited about death metal very often. Not at 9am, anyway.

The band were about to become part of Portuguese artist João Onofre’s living sculpture, Box Sized DIE, which I was covering for CMU. First shown in 2007, the concept is pretty simple. The sculpture is an airtight iron box, in which is contained a death metal band who perform until such time as they run out of oxygen (about 20 minutes, I learned this morning). The piece has toured around various European cities, each time using a local band, and this is the first time it’s made it to the UK.

I’m not sure what I expected, but the thing I most enjoyed about Box Sized DIE was how quiet it is. The band began playing as the door was closed on them, for a few seconds filling the area with, well, death metal. With the door closed and locked, they became just another dull rumble among all the other dull rumbles. However, by going up and touching the walls of the box, the vibrations coming through reminded you that you were only an inch or two away from a ferocious noise.

Although The City had initially seemed like an odd setting for the performance – it’s part of the Sculpture In The City festival, which starts tomorrow – the idea of this noise being lost in the bustle around it suddenly seemed entirely appropriate.

As I was taking photos, a man walked up to me and asked what was happening.

“There’s a death metal band playing in that box,” I told him.

“What is death metal?” He replied with a smirk, at least proving my earlier assumption. Though after I explained a bit further, he and the Japanese businessman with him seemed quite enthused. “Oh, so they’re about to come out? Oh, marvellous.”

Off they went and joined the small but enthusiastic crowd, who had in turn been wandering up and pressing their hands and ears against the box. And then, a little over 20 minutes after they went in, the door popped open again and that sound rushed out into the air (they were still playing, and not, as you might have guessed, all collapsed on the floor).

Once they’d got their breath back, they explained that not only was it incredibly loud inside the box, but also very hot. All of them had forgotten to take water in with them, a first performance error I’d imagine they’ll not make again. However, they’d been keen to stay inside for longer than they managed in rehearsal – a brief break in the box’s rumbling during the performance having been them trying to decide whether to play one or two more songs (they went for two), rather than their sudden demise, as a large portion of onlookers and organisers seemed to fear for a few seconds.

I’d recommend going and taking a look at Box Sized DIE while you can. You’ll be able to catch the performance outside The Gherkin on Thursday at 6pm and again at 7pm. It’ll then take place at 6pm every Wednesday to Friday from 4 Jul to 1 Aug.

Have a look through some of my photos here

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The CMU Podcast: Live – Episode 1

The CMU Podcast: Live - June 2014Last Tuesday, I pitched up at The Roundhouse in London for the first ever live recording of The CMU Podcast. It was a little nerve-wracking doing the show for the first time, with really no idea how it was going to turn out. But thankfully all went well. We had a great audience, and my guests made sure the conversation was fun and interesting throughout.

Much of the 90 minutes conversation was dominated by our first topic, the ongoing dispute between the indie labels and YouTube – having people able to speak from label, artist, manager and tech backgrounds ensured that it was a lively debate. As well as that, we covered Amazon Prime Music, streaming data being added to the UK singles chart, cuts at the BBC and the Beeb’s new music strategy, the Beastie Boys’ legal battle against Monster Energy Drink, and One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson’s foray into football club ownership. Plus, there was a Q&A session with the audience at the end.

It was tough cutting the podcast down to 30 minutes – at least a third of the YouTube discussion is gone, as are the sections on Amazon Prime Music and the Beastie Boys (so you’ll have to come along in July to make sure you don’t miss out again!). The final show is really good, I think. I’m really looking forward to honing both the event and the finished show over the next two months.

Listen to the first episode – feature Cooking Vinyl’s Sammy Andrews, the MMF’s Jon Webster, Songdrop’s Brittney Bean, CMU’s Chris Cooke and me – below (or subscribe in iTunes here).

You can find more information on this episode of The CMU Podcast: Live here.

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The CMU Podcast is back… live!

Back in 2011, my colleague Chris Cooke and I started presenting a weekly, and later monthly podcast discussing the latest news and trends in the music industry. We always had a break over the summer, due to Chris being up in Edinburgh for the whole of August, working on Edinburgh Festival magazine ThreeWeeks. But last summer, the break became one of those ‘hiatus’ things bands are always going on.

Basically, we wanted to step up the operation a level. That took a little while longer than planned to get in place, but now we’re back. Hurrah! And this time we’re doing it front of a live studio audience.

Tuesday 24 Jun will see the first of three pilot editions of The CMU Podcast: Live at The Roundhouse in London. I’ll host it, and Chris will be there too. But we’ll also be joined by three guests, who’ll help us talk through the issues of the day.

Next week, we’ve got CEO of the Music Managers Forum Jon Webster, Cooking Vinyl’s Head Of Digital Marketing Sammy Andrews, and co-founder of digital music service Songdrop, Brittney Bean. It’s a great panel, and I’m really looking forward to sitting down with them for a chat.

We’ll record for an hour, and then put out edited highlights of the discussion as a free podcast afterwards. You can listen to that, of course, but if you want to hear the full show, you’ll need to come and join us in person. Plus, of course, your support by buying a ticket will help us to keep doing it.

Find out more about the June event here, and book yourself a ticket here.

And here, to get your started, is a quick preview podcast from Chris and me, recorded in our meeting room one evening (basically what I’m saying is that the Roundhouse one will be better than this):

PS: If you want to watch the England v Costa Rica World Cup game, don’t worry, we have it covered. It’ll be screened in the bar at The Roundhouse and all done and dusted before we’re due to start.

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Perfume live review for MTV Japan

J-pop group Perfume played their first ever UK show in London last month, and I reviewed it for MTV 81. Have a read here, and watch the amazing projection mapping section of the show (as performed a few days earlier in Cannes) above.

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Hey, so here’s a post I’ve been meaning to write for ages. I thought I might never get around to it, but given that Tumblr is about to be driven into the ground by Yahoo!*, now seems like as good a time as any to point out that I have another blog on there too.

You might remember back at the beginning of last year I vowed to start posting semi-regular updates to this blog looking at some of the music I’d been listening to but hadn’t had time to write about. You probably don’t, but whatever, I only ever wrote three of them. I do still listen to more music than I can write about though, which the Tumblr blog sort of addresses.

I mainly set it up to be somewhere to collate music I was listening to online and wanted to refer back to. So, it’s just an ongoing series of auto-posted tracks which I’ve bookmarked on SoundCloud, YouTube and Vimeo. Yes, that is the sort of low quality posting that people who complain about Tumblr complain about, but it proves useful for me, alright?

Anyway, if you happen to be interested in seeing some of the stuff I’m listening to without any context, head over to Tumblr, or stare at the box at the bottom right of this page until your eyes dry out.

*Just joking, I’m sure it’ll be fine *bites fist*

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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu live report for MTV Japan

Last week I was very exciting to have the opportunity to see Japanese popstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu perform live in London. I wrote an article about it for MTV Japan’s English-language website, MTV 81, which you can read here.

And if you’ve not yet acquainted yourself with her 2011 single ‘PonPonPon’, get on and do that now:

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Tracks of 2012 playlist


It’s the end of the year. A time of reflection. A time of lists. Who hasn’t made a list of something or other, eh? Not me, that’s who. In that I have made a list. A playlist of my favourite tracks of 2012 (or at least some of them).

It’s quite long, but there are a few stand out tracks, of course. The track that I’ve listened to most this year is White Foxes by Susanne Sundfør, a mini epic that was the first single from her latest album, The Silicone Veil – also one of my favourites of the year. Sundfør is joined by a few fellow Scandinavians on the playlist, with brilliant singles from Frida Hyvönen, Faye and Sleep Party People, amongst others.

More of my favourite albums of the year are represented by artists such as Julia Holter, Dan Le Sac, Busdriver, Killer Mike, and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – the later of whom isn’t actually on Spotify, which gives me the perfect opportunity to direct you towards the video for PonPonPon. And, of course, what 2012 playlist would be complete without Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen?

But that’s the scraping the surface, there’s loads of amazing stuff on this playlist – anyone who says 2012 has been a bit of a lean year just hasn’t been looking hard enough. I’ve stuck it below on Spotify and YouTube, neither of which is complete, sadly (seriously, why is Roman Holiday by Nicki Minaj so militantly kept off YouTube?) but whichever you choose, I’d recommend sticking it on shuffle and seeing what comes up.



Full playlist (tracks appear in no particular order):

Susanne Sundfør – White Foxes
ScHoolboy Q – There He Go
Bernholz – Austerity Boy
Grimes – Genesis
John Talabot – Oro y Sangre
Dan Le Sac – Play Along (feat. Sarah Williams White)
Frida Hyvönen – Terribly Dark
Churches – Lies
Rustie – After Light (feat. AlunaGeorge)
Débruit – Ata
MyPet – Pays To Know
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – PonPonPon
Killer Mike – Reagan
Asbjørn – The Criminal
Busdriver – Kiss Me Back To Life
Chairlift – I Belong In Your Arms
Django Django – Default
Sleep Party People – A Dark God Heart
Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Faye – Breathe Out
Efterklang – Black Summer
Little Mix – DNA
Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
Julia Holter – Marienbad
Gallows – Odessa
Rolo Tomassi – Ex Luna Scientia
Converge – A Glacial Pace
Nicki Minaj – Roman Holiday
Die Hard – Here Goes The Rage
COOLRUNNINGS – Megalomania
2562 – Jerash Hekwerken
Sakaris – I Have Beautiful Eyes (feat. Greta Svabo Bech)
Halls – White Chalk
Chad Valley – Up & Down
Anna Meredith – Nautilus
Scarlet Soho – Solo KO
Albert – Lucky
Gallops – Jeff Leopard
Vessels – The Sky Was Pink
Roses Gabor – Stars
Frankie Rose – Know Me
Perfume – Nee

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