Letter #69

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a lovely week, and you’re ready to start the weekend. Big thanks to Ben for last week’s guest letter – and thanks to everyone who sent in fan mail too 😍. You’re a cute bunch. This week it’s back to boring old me, but I reckon I’ve got a treat for you.

There’s a lot of musical variety on the tape this week (and even some Hall & Oates). I’d also say that it follows the Mancuso Bardos more than usual, so I’d recommend getting yourself a little drink of something nice and sitting down to listen – but expect to be kitchen dancing before you know it.


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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. First things first, one of our crew (Matt Everitt) has got a new book coming out – The First Time – get it pre-ordered!
  2. This is a brilliant profile on Robyn and her impact on pop music over the last two decades from Laura Snapes of the Guardian
  3. It’s neurologically true – jazz musicians are wired different from classical musicians
  4. The Saatchi Gallery has a new exhibition that looks great – Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire – part of which is the Ray’s A Laugh photo-series that shows what the midlands was like in the 90s (it looks about right to me)
  5. There’s a new free jazz documentary from Tom Surgal coming soon that sounds absolutely amazing
  6. Head down to the Tate Modern to see Kode9’s contribution to an installation by Tania Bruguera in the turbine hall (spoiler: it’s a 40,000 watt sub bass rig)
  7. There’s a nice interview with Jon Phonics on his alternative history of Detroit soul on Stamp The Wax
  8. Stephen Titmus from RA has published the latest in the Art of DJingseries – this one with genuine legend Louie Vega (from Masters at Work, of course)
  9. There’s a new Netflix documentary series coming called ReMastered – eight episodes, each exploring a different major moment in music culture
  10. Finally, have a read of this interview with Chilly Gonzales in Huck, I knew very little about him, but I’m going to go looking for more now
📚 The notes 📚
The notes this week are a little brief, as I’m working on a bigger idea that I want to give proper time to rather than rushing it. However, I had a few things I wanted to share. I finally finished the Dave Haslam book this week, and I cannot recommend it enough – I can honestly say it’s one of the best books I’ve read in ages, not just for the musical history of Manchester (and the Hacienda), not just for the bands and DJs featured, or even for the way he talks about culture, but for Dave himself. He’s an astounding human, and he looks at the world like we do. There’s a line near the end of the book that I wanted to share, as it captured so perfectly how I (and I think we) feel, and the very reason for Love Will l Save the Day; “I’m just a guy who believes the project of being human should be fuelled by talking, connecting, positivity and love. And music, of course”.

As I’ve been reading, it’s sparked so many thoughts on my own exploration of culture and music. Something that’s always felt so natural and organic, but still occasionally needs a bit of a check up. I think I find it easy to slip into a cultural bubble. To read the same sort of books, to buy the same set of magazines, visit the same record shops, where I look in the same genre sections, and pull from the same set of sources for new music. It’s easy to get trapped in a loop, and often I find two things pull me into that loop; time, and routine. Time is hard, because I have a wonderful family that I desperately try to spend as much time with as I can, and a dream job that means I pour what’s left of my time into that. This project is so intensely important to me, but it can be tempting to cut corners, to churn something out without really thinking just to say that I’ve done it. Tick. Done. You deserve better.

The second challenge is definitely routine (which is definitely connected to time too). I’m a horrendous creature of habit. My job can be unpredictable, so I crave structure in other ways. I wear similar clothes, eat similar foods, and have little crutches that provide routine. I never, ever want music or exploring culture to become routine, so I have to keep a check on where I explore, and force myself to break routines and habits.

The risk is falling down an ever decreasingly narrow hole, and missing the bigger picture. I always want to have one foot in popular culture, and many other feet at the many other edges of culture. So it’s important to pop that bubble. In fact, last weekend the bubble was popped for me, without me knowing it. About a year ago a new record shop opened up in Southend, called Two Twelve Tensand despite knowing the owner, last weekend was my first visit. Along with being busy, I thought that because the shop specialises in drum’n’bass, there wouldn’t be anything for me. I had a couple of hours free, so decided to pop down and see how it was going. The shop stock is mostly built from second hand collections bought in bulk, so I decided to have a dig through on the off-chance I’d find a couple of records I wanted. Two hours later I finished the last crate, and ended up bringing home 20+ records. There was so much killer music, most of which I don’t think I’d have ever found from my usual sources, and definitely wouldn’t have found from my routine record shops. Quite a few of the tracks are on this week’s mixtape – I’d be intrigued if you can spot which ones.

Last week I was talking with Phil Hilton (founder of Shortlist magazine), and given he’s spent more than two decades shaping and reflecting UK popular culture, I asked how he kept up? He said that he consumes everything that he can, and never stops asking questions and looking for more. Which felt like half validation, and half warning shot to never stop looking. Anyway, I’m rambling, but I suppose my point is that there’s so much amazing stuff to experience and find, it’s important to keep the desire burning and never give up trying to find the edges.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

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