Archive for the ‘Magazine Contributions’ Category

Review: Deportment for Dukes and Tips for Toffs – The Times Literary Supplement

In History Reviews, Literature Reviews, Magazine Contributions on November 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

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Published in The Times Literary Supplement, 22 November 2013, P27.

Interview: The Cat Empire – Notion Magazine

In Interviews, Magazine Contributions, Music Reviews on October 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Gabriella Swerling catches up with The Cat Empire’s fiery lead singer, Felix Riebl, on their world tour and doesn’t expect to find a tame pussycat.


I have always wanted Felix Riebl to invite me to his bedroom. Never did I expect it would actually happen, but more of that later.

As I wait for the band to finish their sound check, I can hear Felix huskily purring the opening lines to ‘The Rhythm’ into the microphone:

“…And my knees were shaking and my jaw was dropping and my eyes were squinting and my smile was growing and my pants were bulging and my hands were sweating and my chest was beating so I cry, ‘excuse me, what is the secret to your soul?’” Read the rest of this entry »

NO BRA INTERVIEW – Fashion Soundtrack

In Interviews, Magazine Contributions, Music Reviews on October 23, 2013 at 8:18 am

Photo by Heidi Slimane

No Bra. That’s right, she really does let those puppies free. The weird and wonderful alternative-techno singer catches up with Gabriella Swerling to talk digital revolutions, narcissism and sexual fantasies.
“On a date with the devil, the devil asked me ‘sing me one of your songs’, I said ‘well they’re not really songs, more like shouting’, the devil said ‘never mind, I’ll fuck you anyway.”

Perhaps a little more out-there than your other female soloists No Bra throws caution to the wind, sticks a metaphorical finger up to your Beyonce’s, your Joni Mitchell’s and your Lady Gaga’s, and relishes in performing a Virginia Woolf-esque stream of consciousness that flits from various musings to general sounds and groans. ‘Speak-singing’ is, I think, the technical term.

Read the rest of this entry »


In Fashion, Interviews, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Magazine Contributions on October 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Vogue’s fashion night out was a fabulous northern affair yesterday evening. The Manchester event began in Hugo Boss’s store with a fashionista shindig. There was plenty to keep shoppers busy – from fashion talks with Roksanda Ilincic and Jonathan Saunders at Harvey Nichols to Pixie Geldof DJing at H&M and The Maccabees performing at Emporio Armani. Meanwhile industry names offered their fashion wisdom – Kate Phelan’s styling tips in Topshop, Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey gave a trend talk at Kurt Geiger and Bay Garnett shared packing tips at Louis Vuitton. See the street style coverage and industry insight courtesy of the gorgeous Gabriella Swerling….. vogue
Henry Holland: “Manchester’s always been close to my heart, it’s my home city so I think it’s great bringing attention to the Northern fashion scene and that Vogue’s decided to hold Fashion Night Out here.” Read the rest of this entry »

Miley, Don’t Make Me Cry – The Vagenda

In Comment and Opinion, Internet, Magazine Contributions, Music Reviews, Women on October 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm


Saturday night. I’m babysitting. I’m also, by chance, engaging in anthropological research regarding the social implications of Miley Cyrus’s very public, orchestrated ‘breakdown’ for a pre-pubescent audience, as her music blasts out of the television.

“What’s happened to Miley Cyrus?!” quoth ten-year-old Amelia.

“It’s all the fame,” ten-and-a-fifth-year-old Sophie sighs. “It’s got to her. First Britney, then Lindsay, and now Hannah Montana.”

Hannah Montana is a squeaky clean Disney Channel character. Miley Cyrus has grown up and metamorphosed into her alter ego in a powerful Jekyll-Hyde-esque transformation that has left young girls confused to say the least.

They know what ‘twerking’ is. They just about know that ‘humping’ is ‘sexy’. But they don’t know what sex is – and so they shouldn’t! Call me prudish if you must.

“Have you seen the video for wrecking ball?” Amelia whispers, quite horrified, “She hasn’t got any clothes on!”

These girls, whom Hannah Montana lured into her pop-princess bubblegum lair, have been duped into ‘twerking out’ what adolescence is just a tad too soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Live Review: Laura Marling @ at The Lowry – Notion Magazine

In Magazine Contributions, Music Reviews on October 1, 2013 at 10:30 am

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She takes to the stage in what appears to be a frilly Victorian nightgown. She dissolves into the dress, white on white, the porcelain English rose – with red Converse on underneath.

The age-old truism that appearances are deceptive certainly stands true with Laura Marling. She is a fierce, dark, elusive performer. She enjoys silence, but is not quiet. She is private but reveals deeply melodic secrets.

Laura Marling is growing up. She first appeared on the Jools Holland show in 2007 at the tender age of 17. The Ophelia-style get-up is somewhat different to her first stage outfit comprised of a Spice Girls t-shirt and a look of utter terror.

This performance is a portrait of the artist as a young lady. She now stands tall and proud, singing up into the mic, Gallagher-style. She no longer avoids eye-contact, but altogether eschews it, looking up and singing to her musical muses in a trance.

The 23-year-old is touring with her fourth album, Once I was an Eagle. It is her third to be nominated for the Mercury Prize and this year she is competing against the likes of Bowie and Arctic Monkeys. Read the rest of this entry »

Flight by Elephant by Andrew Martin – book review for the Times Literary Supplement 20/09/13

In History Reviews, Literature Reviews, Magazine Contributions, Newspaper Contributions on September 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

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Film Reviews of Snow White and the Huntsman and Cosmopolis – published in UK:Cue/ The Walford Gazette

In Film Reviews, Magazine Contributions on April 9, 2013 at 11:58 am


Interview with Allen Stone: son of a preacher man converts to soul man – Notion Magazine

In Interviews, Magazine Contributions, Music Reviews on February 22, 2013 at 9:30 am

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What do you get if you cross a born-again atheist with the spirit of Stevie Wonder? 25-year-old Allen Stone, a blue-eyed gospel-soul singer-songwriter who’s set to become a big star in 2013.

Allen Stone isn’t happy with modern music, and he wants you to know it. “It’s just so cotton candy and cookie cutter,” the US soul singer says from behind tendrils of hippyish, wavy blonde hair. “It’s all about love and sex and clubs and it doesn’t really do anything – it doesn’t really inspire people or kids my age to do anything – besides go to the club and grind on each other.”

Stone is on a mission to put the meaning back into popular song, and is harking back to the birth of soul music for inspiration. “Back then, when somebody would write something in a song, people would listen to it – and it would mean something,” he declares. Inspired by the music born out of an America rocked by the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, and an affinity with the children spawned by the groovy Woodstock era, Stone is taking on a music industry that he believes has lost its soul. And as he spreads the word, people are listening.

His 2011 single Unaware was a viral sensation and has racked up almost 2 million YouTube hits. The video, which was recorded in his mother’s living room, led to a string of US television performances, with many critics labelling him “one to watch”. True to his ethos, the lyrics of Unaware discuss the current economic climate: “Every day the deficit grows, you spend more than you own.” They reflect our generation’s struggles – the credit crunch victims condemned to toil through Dickensian hard times.

Despite admitting that the Unaware video “has helped me out immensely”, Stone is less interested in YouTube fame than he is in being “the best live performer that I can possibly be”. In a digital age where anyone with a laptop and an acoustic guitar can upload the seven-hundredth take of their four-chord, caterwauling ballad onto the internet, Stone refreshingly challenges the would-be popstars to “get on stage and hold an audience’s attention”. Read the rest of this entry »

Second Life: Your Virtual Existence – Lippy Magazine

In Magazine Contributions on November 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Second Life

Second Life is an online virtual world that was launched and developed by Linden Lab in 2003. By 2011 it had about one million active users, called residents, that interact in a world known as the ‘grid’, through avatars that they create and design themselves. Many popular current designs include wings, glittery skin and anthropomorphised body parts. You can create anything you can dream. Through their avatars, residents can control and change anything about themselves and their world at any given time. Their avatar is the extension of themselves, their representative in the grid.

To name but a few things an avatar is capable of in Second Life, they can: communicate publicly and privately, travel, fly, have sex, fall in love, shop, adopt a virtual pet, have magic powers, party at 24/7 nightclubs where mixers from around the world spin classic and new tracks, and trade virtual property and services. They can attend discussion groups, concerts, drive-in movies, lectures and meditation workshops; play games that transport the user into other worlds; visit galleries and museums to view innovative 3D interactive artwork. This is all within the realm of stunningly complex and outstandingly beautiful graphics that assist in communicating this staggering new world to the resident. The computer game physics in Second Life are astounding. Everything you could ever wish for in real life – and more – can be found in the grid. But this is not just a game. The boundaries between real life and virtual life have become blurred with Second Life. It is the next stepping stone in the virtual world of strategic simulated reality, following creations such as Maxis’ best-selling game The Sims. In Second Life, the communication between virtual avatars veils the communication between the two very real people behind them.

Although  The Sims has no eventual or definitive objective to the game, it is possible to encounter relative states of failure – through death (either accidental or instigated by the player), bad relationships and arguments resulting in a Sim leaving the game of his or her own accord, children who fail school will be sent away. Not only this; it is possible to lock a Sim in an ‘undead’ state by preventing them from getting out of the shower, for example, or leaving a room by constructing their environment in a particularly sinister way. Aside from the previous example of the programmed consciousness of Sims to leave the game, they are ultimately and completely controlled by the player. After all, it is the player who can control the extent to which a Sim interacts and gets on with a fellow Sim. So if he or she leaves the game, the player obviously enjoyed watching heated arguments ensue.

The Sims aims to simulate real life and Second Life, as its name reveals, really does act as an alternative life to some of its users. Since its inception, the fantastic world of Second Life has come hand-in-hand hand with obsession. After the release of James Cameron’s futuristic blockbuster Avatar in 2009, a spate of suicide thoughts and pacts were reported as viewers confessed their depression at never being able to experience the utopian world of Pandora, shown in the film. Similarly, the virtual reality of Second Life has had a shocking impact upon its users’ real lives. One addict confessed that because she was in trouble in her real life, “it was a nice escape into a world where no one knew my real life issues. I threw myself into the game […] It took over my life. Second Lifewas basically my first life. I basically couldn’t turn the game off.” In a world where virtual shopping soured her taste for her real life shopping addiction, the game held her an obsessive prisoner to making L$ and dating the sexiest male avatar – who she later discovered to be a girl in real life.

Virtual entrepreneurs can also become addicted to making money in Second Life because it has its own internal economy, currency and banks. One need never spend money in the real world again. The currency of the grid is the Linden dollar (L$)which can be used, just as in the real world, to buy, sell, rent or trade virtual goods and services with other users. Avatars can have jobs and run businesses. L$ can be purchased with the players’ own currency using Linden Lab’s LindeX exchange, independent brokers, or other players who buy L$ using their own money on market-based currency exchanges. In 2006, the virtual land baroness Anshe Chung became Second Life’s first millionaire – in real U.S. dollars. Her net worth is based on her considerable land holdings in the grid which correspond to her cash in L$, which can be converted to real U.S. dollars. Her real-life persona, Ailin Graef, earned her fortune from her initial investment of $9.95 for theSecond Life account by purchasing virtual real estate which she then developed, subdivided, landscaped and re-constructed for rental and resale purposes. Since then, she has converted her virtual success into a real-life fortune with her ‘spin-off’ corporation Anshe Chung Studios, which develops immersive 3D environments.  In 2009 Linden Lab published figures revealing that 64,000 Second Life users made a profit in February 2009. 38,524 of these people made less than US$10 and 233 made more than US$500. Since Anshe Chung’s success there have been and there will be more Second Life millionaires and entrepreneurs. Naturally, as in the real world, only a small minority of Second Life users earn vast amounts of money from the grid. But then again, as in the real world, we all strive for more.

This addiction to Second Life reveals deeper psychological vulnerabilities that the game simultaneously provides a release from and exploits. As we are on the brink of a new screen-age, Second Life poses deeper, more introspective and existential questions that we must face in its microcosmic representations of real life. Why do some people feel the need to escape and detach themselves from reality in the first place, preoccupy themselves instead with the virtual? Is virtual happiness not different to real happiness? What motivates the desire to control the avatar’s appearance, movements, social circle, knowledge and financial situation? Of course Linden Lab has created a game where the wondrous is possible. But most importantly, they capitalise on the assumption that people want to change something about themselves. What is left when the virtual life supersedes real life is emptiness. After all, all those cyber relationships and lectures and parties were all virtual. You did not attend. Your avatar did. There is a time limit on your free, real life account. It should not be frittered away into cyberspace.

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