Cafe Oto

Onwards + upwards: FARAI talk creative integration + inter-disciplinary action ahead of their show at Festival Hyperlocal

15 September 2017

“I’m a warrior, but even lions cry too,” bellows Farai Bukowski-Bouquet over the heavy synth and marching bass of ‘I’m a Warrior.’ It’s a track that follows the soothing prelude of an ambient opener in ‘Intro’; a musing on the complexity of love, lust and self-care from a four-track EP called KISSWELL, named after her father and guide who recently passed away.

FARAI (2017). Photo by Luke Farley. Courtesy the artists.

The aforementioned standout track — which was also released as a music video on NTS in January of this year, directed and edited by Crackstevens — encapsulates both the struggle and resistance of what the Zimbabwe-born, poet and musician describes as “living in and battling life on the streets.” It was produced with London-based musician and friend TØNE (aka Basil Anthony Harewood) in a collaboration, which they describe as a friendship “drawn together through spiritual gravity.” The working relationship evolved over a series of sessions in Deptford through 2016, crystallising in the KISSWELL EP release via the Chino Amobi, nkisi and ANGEL-HO-founded label NON Worldwide in March.

Ahead of their Festival Hyperlocal performance at London’s Cafe Oto on September 16, we speak with FARAI the band, about what’s behind the EP, what their influences are, and the reactions from the past that have influenced their present.

**How did you guys start working together?

TØNE: My brother put us in touch, about four years ago. I was recently band/project-less and he mentioned a Zimbabwean poet calling herself Bukowski. I just knew from the intro it was going to be an interesting collaboration.

**Is the project a fusion of your independent sounds or something entirely different?

FARAI (2017). Photo by Luke Farley. Courtesy the artists.

TH: I think we were both finding our style previous to the project and I guess we are always going to be in that process of change and progression but, for me, my music has taken on a new life of its own working with Farai. I think music is really a reaction to a situation or feeling you get, either in the presence of other people or by words or images you see. And my music here is a reflection of Farai’s poetry, which hasn’t seen song shapes before. So, yes, I would say this is a new approach for us both.

**Are there some specific inspirations behind this EP you can share?

Farai: Kisswell is my father who died last year, whom the EP was named after and dedicated to. He was a great inspiration to me and I wanted his energy and spirit to live on in my music. 

** Do you both work in any mediums other than music?

F: I started art school before pursuing music and also fashion is also a big part of my life. I feel it’s a powerful tool for expression especially now we have a platform to do that with live gigs and photos for publications. I plan to curate an art show soon with artists and friends of mine such as Chris Calderwood and TØNE, who will do a music/video installation. I would also like to try get our friend Mica to contribute, she paints the best pieces and always leaves them around the studio her and TØNE share.

FARAI (2017). Photo by Luke Farley. Courtesy the artists.

To add, I also consider myself a writer, poet and spoken word artist, I integrate this into every one of my shows and I plan to release a written work at some in the future. 

** What/who are you most excited by sonically (or other) at the minute?

T + F: We both really like pop music, afro beat, latest chart stuff. We thought about this the other day, as the music we make can be super intense, I think for us we need soothing. Davido, sza, mac demarco. But also a lot of our friends music, SWEETBOY, RAISA K, BLUE SHIT, COBY SEY, BROTHER MAY, BUSINESS LUNCH, BEN VINCE, KLEIN, LARRY B, JACOB SAMUEL. The new label Curl run these dope jam/gig nights, which are always fun. The next batch is happening sometime soon. **

FARAI is performing Festival Hyperlocal at London’s Cafe Oto on September 16, 2017.

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Montreal-based producer Kara-Lis Coverdale brings her tessellating motifs + diffuse semi-linear movements to Cafe Oto, Aug 2

31 July 2017

Kara-Lis Coverdale is playing at London’s Cafe Oto on August 2. 

The Montreal-based producer is a classically-trained pianist and has played the organ in church for a day job from 13-years-old. Coverdale creates dense electronic arrangements and “catchy melodies [that] learn to live with and against their own auto-regurgitating churn,” as noted by AQNB writer, Alexander Iadarola in his review of Coverdale’s most recent EP Grafts, released via Boomkat on April 27.

Flora Yin-Wong will also be performing. The artist works with “roughly-sampled field recordings, dissonant melodies, and influences from contemporary club culture,” and recently released Lugere via Berlin-based label PAN. Yin-Wong is also a DJ and writer, contributing to DIS Magazine, Dummy, Somesuch Stories and more with a focus on “mythology, perspective, and belief.”

Visit the Cafe Oto website for details.**

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“Part rage part grace.” Hyperlocal presents odwalla1221, uv ac + xname at Cafe OTO, Jun 11

9 June 2017

Festival Hyperlocal presents odwalla1221, uv ac and xname at London’s Cafe OTO on June 11.

The event is the third of a series of monthly events, and features three performances. Los Angeles-based duo ODWALLA 1221 (Chloe Maratta and Flannery Silva), who describe themselves as “part rage and part grace,” build their sounds through looping vocals, electronic drums and samples and they recently released Fawns Are Dirty / Purr Hi (2016) on Thunderzone.

uv ac self-described “crimson clown expiring soon” will also play, along with London-based xname (Eleonora Oreggia) who is a conceptual elecontronic artist who creates live compositions that “transform light and other electromagnetic frequencies in sound waves through self built synthesizers.”

Read a recent interview with Odwalla1221 + visit Festival Hyperlocal website for details.**

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Hyperlocal presents Ewa Justka, Patchfinder + THOTH at Café Oto, May 16

15 May 2017

Hyperlocal presents Ewa Justka, Patchfinder and Thoth at London’s Café Oto on May 16.

The evening will bring together three performances by Glasgow-based psych noise Thoth, London-based Polish noise artist and “self taught instruments builder” Ewa Justka and a “spore of shit music from the bin” by Patchfinder.

Hyperlocal festival has a primary focus on London and Buenos Aires, and hosts a line-up of international artists connected locally in each city.

See the Hyperlocal Festival Website for details.**

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Mental health in the spotlight with PS/Y’s ‘Hysterical X’ + Hysteria 2017

16 December 2016

PS/Y‘s upcoming Hysteria programme is putting mental health in the spotlight. The multidisciplinary arts festival, that will take place across venues in London throughout 2017, is putting together a number of events dedicated to the research and exploration of psychological trauma and its effects on physical well-being. 

Directed by artist and mental health campaigner Errol Francis and curator Mette Kjærgaard Præst, the programme is the latest in a trajectory of projects dedicated to mental health and arts,   following the previous Anxiety 2014, Acting Out Nottingham 2015and Anxious Xmas 2013 + 2012.  

What role does health and illness play in contemporary society? How can interdisciplinary projects help interrogate contemporary ideas around the psyche? How can we break down the separated boundaries between fields of knowledge? The curatorial and public engagement organization is tapping into the growing need for cross-industry dialogue, with the intersection of arts and health sciences at its core.

As a prelude to the coming events, PS/Y presents ‘Hysterical X at London’s Cafe Oto on December 17. The evening will feature performances by London-based artists Zadie Xa and Visionist.

Xa, whose work explores desire and identity, will bring together video, sound and storytelling in ‘Basic Instructions B4 Leaving’The narrative, written by Taylor Le Melle, is a non-linear venture into a shifting cosmos. Visionist will present “a personal portrait of anxiety” that makes up the new material in his debut album Safe

With a strong focus on interdisciplinary dialogue, the festival will continue across workshops, exhibitions, live performance, dance, music, film, panel discussions, as well as residencies and community engagement, and aims to combine “arts audiences, artists, scholars, scientists and students with interests across the arts, humanities and medical sciences.”

This year’s programme will focus on hysteria as it relates to conversion disorder, paying particular attention to “issues of gender, race and cultural identity.” Conversion disorder is defined as a type of blindness or paralysis that cannot be diagnosed medically. 

Præst recently gave a talk at Camden Arts Centre (November 2016) to discuss some of the research behind the chosen focus of Hysteria, looking at its varied iterations through time; the wandering womb in ancient Egypt and Greece, Witches and “the glowing skin of Princess Diana” were among the many topics covered. 

The project feels refreshing in its investment to not only pose new questions, but seek answers and solutions to the under-discussed and over-looked aspects of psychology as it relates to “post-traumatic stress disorder, psychogenic and psychosomatic disorders” and its effect on physicality. With an investment in opening up dialogue, the festival seems to sit somewhere between the need for further complexity within the Western model of medicine, and a desire for more coherence in our artistic conversations around mental health and healing.

Stay tuned for the upcoming four commissions between artists and biomedical partners that will explore the phenomenon and conceptualization of this topic.**

Hysterical X will be on at London’s Cafe Oto on December 8, 2016.

Header image: Jenna Bliss, Into this Recovery Center (2015). Courtesy the artist, South London Gallery + PS/Y’s Acting Out Nottingham.

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Breadwoman performances, Feb 5 – 13

4 February 2016

Anna Homler and Steven Warwick are presenting a series of Breadwoman live performances across European cities in February.

Starting with a show at CTM Festival on February 5, the events herald the re-release of 1985 record Breadwoman & Others Stories on RVNG Intl the same month, produced by performance artist Homler in collaboration with electro-acoustic composer and LA avant-garde contemporary Steve Moshier.

The live collaboration follows a recent residency by Warwick at Villa Aurora where he spent three months as part of the German exchange programme in Los Angeles, exploring the varied desert landscape and accompanying mythology of the Californian city and its perimeter.

Homler’s recording too, was born from legend where it describes the artist driving in an ocean blue classic Cadillac to meet poet and playwright Deena Metzger in Topanga Canyon in 1982: “Passing a non-descript desert patch where tall wheat and mustard flowers grow, Anna opens her mouth and sings in a salient stream of rhythmic, melodic sound.”

See the RVNG Intl website for more details on the release and live dates below:

HAU1, Berlin – Feb 5

Café Oto, London – Feb 9

The Glad Cafe, Glasgow – Feb 11

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – Feb 13 **

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Heatsick @ Cafe OTO, Sep 11 – 12

11 September 2015

Producer Heatsick (aka Steven Warwick) is commencing a two-day residency hosted by London’s Cafe OTO, running across the evenings of September 11 and 12.

A Berlin-based, Nottingham-born artist, perhaps best known by his Heatsick moniker, Warwick’s immersive performances spanning the spectrum of the senses have been presented in various contexts, including live sets at Unsound festival, a performance in a pub toilet and a “noir installation and soundtrack to LA” performed as part of a residency at Los Angeles’ Villa Aurora.

The latter was featured as part of a two part video series on the artist, one of which is embedded below, and may come as a fine supplement to Friday’s “laboratory-cum-club” presenting new works in progress and a temporary Cafe OTO rebrand as “Club Nutri”. On Saturday, expect a play called Neonliberal, in which “a group of Superfoods become animated as characters and unravel their journey in Neoliberal Fortress Europe 2k15”.

See the Cafe OTO website for details.**

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Unconscious Archives two-day program announced

22 October 2013

The “body’s appearance and disappearance” is the central theme of Unconscious Archives’ The Perfect Medium is the Wrong Message, a two day program, working across sound and film, and running in East London venues, Cafe Oto and Apiary Studios, November 1 and 2.

The Friday will feature a rarely screened  Malcolm Le Grice’s Horror Film 1, as well as light performance by Amy Dickson, flame-sound sculpture from Aura Satz, Sally Golding‘s projection piece ‘Face of An Other’ and Sir Gideon Vein‘s live TV pilot. The Saturday will feature a presentation on the spirit of early cinema by Guy Edmonds followed by a seance for home movies with ‘mediums’ Gary Wright and Demian Allen, personal pulp theatre from Tai Shani, Possession Trance as DDD from Ryan Jordan of noise=noise and experiments for a bed time dancefloor by TVO.

See the  Unconscious Archives website for more details. **

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Mind Body Soul

Robin Fox. Mind Body Soul
17 September 2012

There’s this idea that parents pass on their unresolved experiences to their children. Anecdotal evidence will support it, whether it’s the hoarding of a post-Depression child or trans-generational trauma. On a very basic level, though, it’s safe to say the emotions and events of early life will doubtless inform the rest. That’s why it’s not surprising that the thinking behind audiovisual artist Robin Fox’s laser show is inspired by his own mother’s experiences with synesthesia. It’s a condition that means that a person experiencing one sensation will simultaneously experience another -most commonly colour through sound -and that’s something Fox attempts to recreate with this ambitious performance featuring himself, a laptop, a smoke machine and a rather expensive laser projector.

Image courtesy of Robin Fox.
Image courtesy of Robin Fox.

Continue reading Mind Body Soul

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