issue 03 - no caps, all exclamation marks
catching the writing bug, music in the Montenegro mountains, humanising the Ukraine war, a guest feature from Ariane and more
welcome back to FRESH! find us on insta @freshbywing ♡ what has your heart been telling you this week?
(a note for those of you reading this in your email - this issue goes over email length limit so it will get shortened in your mailbox, do click on the “…” cuts in your email to expand and read the full version!)
i think i have officially caught the writing bug. i can’t stop, and don’t want to stop. this is a very welcome change i am embracing, as someone who once thought writing 4,000 words for her IB Extended Essay was the biggest challenge she had ever faced (for context, i have already written over that amount in the first two issues of FRESH in less than two weeks 🤯 ).
on the subject of writing - i want to mention something slightly meta about my writing style here in issues of FRESH. you’ll notice that i don’t capitalize my sentences, that is a conscious choice on my part. i thought about going full Editorial initially and sticking to Standard English Formatting, but decided to ditch that. no-caps makes me feel like my writing is most authentic to me, like i’m sending you a very, very long text. it feels like there are less imaginary walls between you as a reader and myself as a writer, that what i write will get straight through to you with no frills and trims. i love that. and i love that i’m free to do that here.
you’ll also notice that i love! my exclamation marks! i can’t help it. it’s probably my favorite punctuation mark ever, apart from the comma, and i love using them as liberally as i possibly can. i’m an easily excitable individual with equally easily excitable expression. fun (theoretic) drinking game idea, take a shot for every exclamation mark used in an issue of FRESH… on second thoughts, probably not a fun idea if you end up passing out. let’s get on with the issue shall we, sans shots:
FRESH: new electronic + live sets
Anjunadeep 13, Live from Montenegro
it’s time for the annual label compilation album from Anjunadeep, and this year’s one is a doozy! (for context, Anjunadeep releases one of these every year showcasing upcoming unreleased tracks on the label, with a selection curated and mixed by label heads Jody Wisternoff and James Grant.) usually, the album is an audio-only release, but this year they’ve decided to step things up and film a cinematic live video to go along with the tracks! recorded in two separate sessions at sunrise and sunset in the Montenegro mountains, the scenic location provides the perfect visual complement to the mix. (very reminiscent of what Cercle have been doing in their live sets also.)
the overall mood of the 2-disc album is very subdued and mellow, even for the usual chilled-out sounds of Anjunadeep. it showcases a compelling sonic direction for the label this upcoming year, filled with experimental downtempo, alluring vocals and breakbeats galore. some first impressions track highlights:
as tradition for each compilation, fantastic new remixes from Jody and James themselves - their remix with label artist PROFF of Lane 8’s What Have You Done To Me? is a dreamy, stripped down rendition of the original track, and their Winter In The Woods remix is a fitting closing tribute to Pierce Fulton of Leaving Laurel, who sadly passed away earlier last year. props to Jody and James for finding space to fit in some uptempo DnB into this mix, definitely took me by surprise!
some fantastic tracks from Anjunadeep alumni returning to the label - Cubicolor shines on the pensive Summer & Smoke, whose last release was their sophomore album Hardly A Day, Hardly A Night back in 2020. Lane 8 also (ironically) has a little bit of sonic fun on No Fun, with Rae Morris on vocals.
thrilled to see Låpsley’s first release on the label, on Like I Used To with Steven Weston!
very promising new faces and names - Mona Vale’s lounge house, disco-inspired Pieces Of You sounds every bit a fitting afternoon poolside track.
you can give the entire 40-track compilation a spin below:
Reborn - Kavinsky
as promised last issue, we go for a deeper dive into synthwave legend Kavinsky’s comeback to the electronic scene, and newly released, long-awaited album Reborn! this is his sophomore album release, and is also his first album release in nine years (since his debut release OutRun in 2013). after his song Nightcall exploded in popularity from being featured in the opening credits of the 2013 film Drive, he took a step back from the spotlight to figure out on his own terms what he wanted to create next, without the pressure to record releases quickly in the age of streaming, as he explains in this interview with NME.
the final result is a refined, cohesive record that stays true to Kavinsky’s synth-pop sound, yet also evolves into covering a more diverse sonic territory, and feels executed in a more mature manner.
some track highlights from the album:
Zenith, the second single off the album, which Kavinsky describes (in the same NME interview above) as a sequel to Nightcall, and rightfully so. in poetic terms, if Nightcall is the hopeful start of the opening credits, Zenith is the cathartic ending montage to conclude the story.
slower tempo tracks that are wonderfully poignant - Goodbye featuring fellow French artist Sébastien Tellier is the perfect angst-laden song to slow dance to, and the vocoder-heavy Horizon feels very reminiscent of the softer, latter half of Daft Punk’s Touch.
high-energy, get-up-and-dance tracks that inject a thread of lively youthfulness - notably the first single Renegade, the fun and groovy Cameo featuring vocalist Kareen Lomax (who you may know from Paul Woolford and Diplo’s 2021 collaboration Looking For Me), and the sci-fi-inspired Zombie.
whilst doing some further background research on synthwave, i found this website that serves as a very handy quick guide and introduction to the various subgenres within synthwave, if you are interested in exploring other synthwave artists. they have also created these visual cheat sheets with a rundown of definitive releases within each subgenre. happy listening and let me know what you discover!
Nurture Live at Red Rocks 2022
a very emergency last minute addition to this week’s issue - Porter Robinson is currently playing two headline shows at Red Rocks this weekend on April 1st and 2nd, and there are lots of new exciting tidbits!
first off, the return of Air2Earth (Porter’s house/progressive/disco side project) after a 6-month hiatus since his last set at the Second Sky afterparty at the Midway! for now, Air2Earth is a live-only project with no officially released tracks under the alias, but who knows if that will change in the (near) future!
currently extremely obsessed with the fact that Air2Earth dropped tracks by CRi (1) (2), Icarus, Ben Hemsley and Fred again.. - what a stellar artist and track selection. (for more Air2Earth track IDs, head over to this playlist created by my dear friend Peter! i’ve been listening to it so much over the last half a year.)
next up - this wonderful stripped-down piano rendition of EON BREAK by Virtual Self (Porter’s other trance/hardstyle/techno alias), that played in an intermission between sets! a lovely nod and wink for everyone who had their ears peeled… wonder when Virtual Self will (hopefully) return?
on the actual Nurture Live side of things, Porter debuted a new mashup of Easy and Flicker with an Air2Earth house-y twist, and sung a live rendition of his remix of NERO’s The Thrill for the very first time, along with a hardstyle reimagining of the track. chef kiss to both of those, 10/10 amazing stunning beautiful.
soundtrack to a runaway road trip
whilst on a Lorde throwback listening spree after last issue, i finally connected with a track off Melodrama that i previously had only skimmed over - The Louvre. revisiting the album with fresh eyes and more life experience was wonderful, the feelings this track evokes are ones that feel very recent and visceral to me.
it also belongs perfectly in this playlist of mine - soundtrack to a runaway roadtrip. this playlist happened after i stumbled on the music video to The Lumineers’ Sleep On The Floor, and consequently had the insatiable urge to run away cross-country with my Star-Crossed, One True Love. if this music video was film length, this is what i imagine the soundtrack would be like.
FRESH: events and happenings
we have an update on ABGT500 - this time it will be held at a yet unnamed open air venue in Los Angeles! perhaps i’ll see you there?
and of course, it wouldn’t be wing-level hype without a hype playlist to go along with it!
(trigger warning: mentions of death and violence)
Humanising the Ukraine War
mass media reporting of tragedies have a tendency to focus on newsflash and shocking sensationalism, you’ve seen the headlines countless times - “XX People Killed in Mass Shooting in XXX Town”, or most recently, they’ve been along the lines of “strike on Kyiv mall kills 8”. this has always been one of my biggest gripes about mainstream news journalism - the fact that shock factor is highlighted, instead of the humanity and down-on-the-ground coverage about how life finds a way to go on, despite disaster and suffering.
that said, there still are numerous media outlets, journalists and photographers who strive to report traumatic events through a humanising lens. photojournalist Laurel Chor has recently been on the ground in Ukraine, documenting smaller moments and scenes from the Ukraine War that largely go unreported by big-name media. this particular photoset captures the various makeshift beds of Ukranians in the basement of an apartment building, next to the Kyiv mall that was hit by a Russian strike on March 20.
the fact that the people sleeping in these beds are not shown makes these all the more poignant - a visual allusion to the way they have been forced out of their ‘normal’ lives, into such unideal living situations. each picture forms a powerful portrait of the individuals and families who are still enduring the trials and tribulations of war day by day.
side note about Laurel Chor: she’s been consistently creating some of the most compelling and accessible photojournalism about world happenings - notably, her coverage of the 2019 Hong Kong Protests was an invaluable solace to me, and to other Hong Kongers. highly recommend you follow her instagram.
FRESH: health + self
Bring That ENERGY
i had not had any semblance of a workout routine in my life, until i discovered one of Sydney Cummings’ workout videos by accident one day earlier this year. i’ve been iffy about following exercise videos on Youtube, but a number of things just clicked for me about hers - easy to follow actions with modifications depending on your physical abilities, a warm-up and cool-down per session, background soundtrack of EDM, with a very generous dose of encouragement and motivational insight throughout. Sydney organises the workouts in different series, each lasting several weeks - this particular one is from the ENERGY series.
you don’t need any fancy gear if you don’t have them - i’m currently substituting 1L water bottles for dumbbells 😬
something Sydney mentioned at the end of this workout particularly stuck with me, the concept of “failing forward”. a play on words, it made me rethink my negative associations around failing, and whether to even use the word at all as a label. when i think of failing, i usually associate that with taking steps backward instead of making progress - it absolutely can be the latter, if you reframe your thinking around what failures are.
it is true that failures are, by definition, an inability to meet a goal or set standard, but sometimes these goals and standards are set unrealistically high - either by society, by others around us or by ourselves. if you feel like you’ve failed, it also means that you have tried, and given your best shot a go. that itself is a step forward, even if it may not seem that way. in my head, i’ve been experimenting with labelling them as ‘attempts’ or ‘trials’ instead of as ‘failures’, and that has been really helpful in feeling less resulting guilt and shame about myself.
something about laying out colorful, tiny objects next to each other, perfectly spaced out from each other, is so satisfying - both to create and to look at. i think it’s the maximalist in me. i’ve been doing exactly that with my beads for jewelry making, here’s one i shot earlier!
if you’re interested in some bead soup of your own for your creations, you can adopt a bag or two here!
welcome to the very first guest feature section on FRESH! on GUESTFRESH, we’ll be inviting rad human beings to write about what they think is fresh. if you are interested in writing for a future GUESTFRESH, send us a message on instagram!
our very first guest writer is the wonderful Ariane, whom you may remember from issue 01! they are a writer, comedian, podcast host, singer/songwriter and cat parent, among other diverse pursuits. Ari also writes an email newsletter called Hyperfixate, which very much inspired FRESH - you can read and subscribe to it right here! you can also find them on twitter and on instagram.
i’ll hand you over now into the very capable hands of Ari, take it away!
As It Was, So It Goes
Harry Styles’ latest single from his upcoming album Harry’s House came out this April 1st, on April Fool’s! It was no joke! Harry is famously an Aquarius, and Aquarians famously love April Fool’s. There was nothing madcap or wacky about this single or this video, though!
As It Was is delightful sonically, it sounds like if Wallows did a cover of A-ha’s Take on Me! The lyrics, however, are the most sobering Styles and his collaborators have come up with in a while. I love that he’s embracing the mythology his stardom has afforded him. To be honest, I don’t know how willing he actually is about that. His relationship with celebrity has always been fraught, going back to the tabloid-splashing days of One Direction. In As It Was, there were a couple of lyrics fans would have picked up on where he alludes to some headlines and blind items he’s made over the last couple of years, notably:
Leave America, two kids follow her
I don't wanna talk about who's doin' it first
Fans have speculated that this is a reference to his relationship with Olivia Wilde, who has children with her ex-partner comedian Jason Sudeikis. Obviously, this is just fans turning the never-ending spindle of celebrity lore, transforming the reality of a complete stranger’s personal life into entertainment fodder. I don’t think there are many merits in the moralizing of the consumption of celebrity culture, the ethical discourse on the subject is tired (as we’ve learned with the Oscars this past week) and gives voice to the people that are more concerned about their own liability than any actual interesting or open dialogue. Maybe it was a nod to that little tidbit, maybe it wasn’t! Regardless, it’s a good pair of lyrics.
My favourite lyrics in As It Was are in the second verse:
They’re very simple lyrics but they’re incredibly evocative. Styles has been open about his mental health—as much as one can be with the PR team behind him—as well as his recreational use of drugs in his songwriting process. To hear him so candid on a lead single—again, as candid as his carefully curated persona allows—is refreshing. To me, it signals the beginning of a new era for Styles, not just musically, but mythologically. Harry is leaning into incredibly personal, sensationalized, yet distanced songwriting that evokes inklings of the messy drama of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours or the tongue-in-cheek self-reference of his one-time paramour Taylor Swift. I can’t wait to step into the rest of Harry’s House. I hope it’s all just as fresh.
Oh, and the music video? I adore it. It’s colourful yet understated, it’s wonderfully choreographed to give Harry’s X-Factor Bootcamp training a run for its money, and some of it is shot at the Barbican in London! Which is where Wing and I became friends (London, not the Barbican. I’m not actually sure if we’ve been to the Barbican together.)
She Came In Like A Wrecking Ball
Miley Cyrus is someone that delivers on her promises. I am proud to be whatever the current collective fan classification for Miley Fans is today. Cyrus tweeted that she would soon release a Live album, after the acclaimed responses to her performances on the South American leg of her current tour. I know it’s probably too early to call it, but her live album Attention is probably one of if not my favourite release of the year.
This mashup of her 2013 hit We Can’t Stop and Pixies’ Where Is My Mind? solidifies—as if anyone else needed more convincing—Miley’s bonafide rockstar credentials. There’s also a mashup of See You Again and Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang which is perhaps my favourite thing in the whole world. Here’s the thing with covers and mashups: since Glee hypersaturated them in the 2010s, it’s hard to actually imagine exciting twists to already existing songs. I love when artists re-interpret what inspires them. In addition to Bang Bang and Where Is My Mind?, Cyrus pays homage to her godmother Dolly Parton by covering Jolene. I’ve always loved when she did this song, there’s something in her voice and the arrangement that she does that is clearly representative of her passion for her influences.
Waking Life and Dreams
SPOILERS FOR MOON KNIGHT
I am a reluctant Marvel consumer. I don’t like throwing money at the Mouse, yet I’ve become invested in these silly little people in tights. Marvel’s Moon Knight, however, is something I have been waiting for.
If you’re familiar with me from my own newsletter, you’d know that I am a self-proclaimed Oscar Isaac scholar. I love the guy. I think he’s great. He’s one of the more interesting and charismatic ‘movie stars’ we have today, in an age where movie stardom lacks the grandeur and spectacle it once did.
Isaac plays the titular Moon Knight, who resides in the body of one Steven Grant, a bumbling museum gift shop assistant with an accent that can only be described as British-adjacent. Steven sleepwalks at night and makes sure to safeguard himself in the nighttime. When we meet him, he experiences gaps in time that indicate something bigger than himself is going on, including suddenly finding himself in the European alps at the mercy of a mysterious cult leader (Ethan Hawke).
I won’t say anymore, just because I think Moon Knight is one of the more complicated and interesting additions to the MCU. The pilot episode feels like it stands apart from the shared universe. It reminds of the good old Netflix days with Daredevil or The Punisher. Now that Disney has re-acquired the rights to the former Netflix properties, I hope Moon Knight crosses paths with those fellas soon. Moon Knight is a riot, and is available to stream on Disney+ now.
Thank You For Being A Friend
I have been rewatching The Golden Girls, which is the furthest from fresh any viewing experience could be on paper, but I’ve actually been feeling quite reinvigorated by it. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s a sitcom about four older women living under one roof in Miami, redefining modern (at least for the 80s) womanhood and friendship.
When I was younger and would watch Golden Girls in passing, I never really understood the jokes. They went over my head, as many things did. The innuendos and gags are actually quite masterful and each character is more distinct than I remember them. I’m obsessed with Bea Arthur’s character Dorothy—she was always my favourite, but I could never place why. Now I know: she’s savage. At least, in the modern, post-hip hop way. She has some of the best one-liners and comebacks on the show. Dorothy is more often than not the voice of reason in the group, even if the voice can be quite harsh. Also, the theme song has been stuck in my head for months, even before I started rewatching the show:
The girls just aren’t doing it like them anymore! They are truly, bringing it full circle to Harry Styles again, golden.
big thank you to Ari for this issue’s guest feature, hope you enjoyed reading that as much as i did! As It Was is now stuck in my head, and you’ll be seeing more about Moon Knight in future issues from me - absolutely obsessed.
and to you, dear reader, thank you for making it through a bumper-sized issue of FRESH - see you for the next one!
manifesting you love and light,