Saturday, April 3, 2010
Love is the stick you throw
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 9:27 pm
A week ago I sat in Birmingham New Street station, on platform 10a, looking every bit like I was in a Lucksmiths song — “and though you promised not to cry when you said goodbye / your eyes were bright with wine” — although it had nothing to do with wine and everything to do with too little sleep and too much excitement. I clutched my ipod tightly and listened to Pocketbooks sing that “love is the stick you throw / however far it goes, you’ll find your way back home again,” and I marvelled at how a line that had sounded so awkward the first time I heard it could suddenly sound so right. I marvelled at the fact that, suddenly, I had every reason to believe that this was exactly true.
And so I remembered, once again, that even though this world is one of frustration and loneliness and disappointments, it is also a world where magic and mystery lurk around the corners, about to jump into your life at the slightest provocation. And I resolved to try harder –even harder, as hard as I could– to remember to ask them in.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Pocketbooks, mirrors and other magical things
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:30 pm
I wrote this in March 2009 and never got round to finishing it. It’s too good to delete and although I sort of remember what it is I’d intended to say, the momentum is long gone now.
The new Pocketbooks album sounds like spring coming. It sounds like a warm summer evening falling soundlessly, lazily over the city. It sounds like those bright, crisp autumn afternoons when the world seems to be at your feet. It sounds like the mist that turns Exmouth into a poem about winter. It sounds like arriving in a strange town on a train, full of anticipation and nerves; like the view from Marianthi’s flat, over south London; like sunshine on your skin in an Athenian winter; like April showers; like a day off entirely devoted to reading a book on the sofa; like an unexpedcted love letter from a long lost penpal; like the perfect cup of coffee; like waking up from a good dream to sunlight pouring through your window.
In short, it sounds like being alive.
I seriously doubt I ever had the ability to talk about music I like with anything approaching subjectivity. But even if I did, I have lost completely in the years since I last attempted to use it. I cannot convince anyone who doesn’t already love Pocketbooks to pieces that they are the most fabulous thing to happen to indiepop since the invention of Pipas, all those years ago. Oh, I can go on about the wonderfully witty, heart-achingly bittersweet, awfully clever yet entirely uncynical lyrics. I can write a book about those, believe me. I can even pretend to talk about the music — the keyboards, the guitars, the occasional harmonies, the all-important urgency and the way it is always balanced, almost restrained, by a certain poetry. But none of this means anything until I tell you that it makes me want to weep with joy, or that it makes me want to turn pirouettes and somersaults, or that it makes my heart sing and sigh. And none of these things are about ‘Flight paths’, they are all about me.
Of course, this is my blog and I can talk about myself if I want to. I can tell you about the evening I fell in love with Pocketbooks (documented by last.fm here). I can tell you about the smell of the linden blossom that floated in through the open window; about the darkness that came earlier and earlier each night; about the way I clang to the last remnants of my first English summer. I can tell you I sat in the darkened flat, on my own, playing mindless computer games and listening to ‘Falling leaves’ again and again, trying hard to decipher the lyrics so that I could sing along, because it was imperative to do so, because my heart would explode if I didn’t. I can tell you about playing some Pocketbooks song or other in every futile attempt at a clubnight we ever made, and mumbling incoherently to the half- (or perfect) strangers that almost invariably showed up to ask what that was.
I can tell you about dancing my heart out at their gig at Indietracks, next to people who were dancing their hearts out too. I can tell you that I fell in love with them even more on that day, if that was ever possible; because seeing Andy make faces that match the lines he sings (‘look, I’m making all this up’) is charming beyond words. And I can tell you about hearing ‘Camera angels’ for the first time the next night, played acoustically on the platform, and being so overwhelmed by the perfectness of everything –the moment, the lyrics, the location, the weather– that I fell in love with the world, all over again, hopelessly, passionately, as if I had never done it before, as if I would never do it again. The song concluded exactly the way I thought it would (‘no one needs a storyboard to tell us what we should have known all along — that the camera follows everyone’) and all was right with the world that night.
I can tell you about seeing them again in October, in London, in a half-empty venue, and finding it hard to believe that someone had really written the line ‘and for every fleeting moment there’s a fortnight left to wonder if it happened at all’, that there are people outside my head who feel this way, and that they write perfect pop songs on top of that too. And I can tell you about the moment Pocketbooks launched into ‘Falling leaves’ and I cheered, and a group of strangers cheered, too, and we all joined in and we all knew all the words even though there’s such a lot of them, and I felt like I was in the presence of an anthem. It reminded me of what happens when Jens Lekman plays ‘You are the light’ — and indeed, why not? They’re both about the same kind of thing, too: passionate, loyal, hopeless, inspiring love.
I can tell you about the Saturday that followed which Marianthi and I spent walking through falling leaves and finishing each other’s sentences about the greatness that is Pocketbooks and the way they capture something Belle & Sebastian had for a moment or two in the year 2000, while pining for the new album. And I can tell you that eventually the new album arrived, on a March Monday morning, in the post, and that it was perfect beyond belief, beyond expectations, beyond words. And that it contained a song that began with the words:
‘And the most curious thing,
aside from the way that the sun always shines inappropriately on a crisis,
aside from the strange sense of calm and the way we instinctively sit on the left-hand side of the top deck of the local bus,
is what happens to all the secrets we carelessly shared on those January days on the sofa in the front room of your terraced house?’
I have just used up almost a thousand words to tell you that there is very little that I can tell you about the Pocketbooks. In fact there is only one thing, something that has been both elusive and always present in my writing about indiepop, of which there has been rather a lot. (Proportionately, in any case.) It is something I said once, almost by accident, and then continued trying to put it into words for years to come. It is the answer to the ever-present question — what is it about indiepop that makes it so magical to me? What is it about it that makes me so happy?
Monday, January 28, 2008
Cloudberry A to Z
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 11:36 am
I wrote this as a reply to this, somewhat unbelievable, discussion. It grew longer and longer (possibly because I should be writing an assignment instead) so in the end I decided to post it here too.
a) It seems to be a fact of life that people will have different definitions of indiepop.
b) It also seems that those who don’t “get” a certain side of indiepop, or indiepop all together, will enjoy making fun of it.
c) This actually happens to some perfectly intelligent and nice people too. Go figure.
d) However, people who do this too seriously should better get a life.
e) I actually like Los Campesinos. I saw them live in Exeter –Exeter!– in October and I greatly enjoyed it.
f) While there are several Cloudberry releases that I am not that crazy about.
g) In fact I only own one of their releases so far, and that’s because I was involved in its release somehow.
h) Still, a year ago I told Roque that he would save indiepop in the year 2007
i) And I am very proud to see that he did, and that a lot of other people think so, too.
j) People who argue that Roque should be promoting the bands, or that 100 handmade cd-rs do not a label make just don’t get it.
k) I don’t think Roque ever wanted a “label” in the way that they define it.
l) In fact I don’t think he ever wanted anything other than a happy happy heart, to give bands something they can hold in their hands and give to their friends, and an opportunity to be heard by a few more people.
m) Being friends with a few “Cloudberry bands,” because Roque has an uncanny ability to unearth all my music-making friends, I find that they are very happy with that. They like Roque, they like the idea, they like some or most or all of the other bands, and so they say yes.
n) And then one day they get a few cds in the post, and they might even get an email from somebody across the world saying they like their song which they downloaded off the Cloudberry site, and that makes their day.
o) And that’s what indiepop –as the people who have been defending/advertising Cloudberry here undestand it– is all about.
p) I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it can not be stressed enough: Cloudberry is a project, a statement about indiepop today and a community of like-minded people, and it should be judged –or, better still, celebrated– as such.
q) In fact that the fact that Roque created all this –this scene, this fuss, you can call it what you want– out of nothing but “Myspace bands”, my friends’ long lost bedsit songs and back-yard side-projects is nothing short of remarkable.
r) In other words, I don’t think he did anything for indiepop other than cause us to sit up and look at what was already there with different eyes. But isn’t that amazing?
s) I think it is.
This is my antfucker-trap (Thank you, Alistair!)
u) I appreciate his dedication and his enthusiasm and I love seeing all the things that they make happen.
v) Like the release of six Pinefox songs (in the First Division and Arc Lamps eps). Getting some Pinefox songs released was one of my last year’s resolutions. And, thanks to Roque, it came true.
w) And that’s all there is to it. Radio, charts, even memorability are irrelevant.
x) Although I am sure that in ten, or fifteen, or twenty years I will remember Cloudberry.
y) I will remember the way ‘Lifetime in the sun’ was October’s hit in my front room, the way the line “how many paperbacks can you fit in a rucksack?” made me smile, the way Blind Terry stole my heart.
z) And I will be telling my children that they should follow their dreams even if they sound silly or small. Because it can be fun, and it can touch other people’s hearts.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The end of a summer
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 3:38 pm
This post has been so long in the making that I have actually forgotten what I wanted to say. Here it is, anyway. And, erm, sorry for the over-a-month-long delay. I will get better at posting one day. You’ll see. Until then, thank god for RSS and/or patient readers.
Or, too many things to celebrate:
- Seeing Rose Melberg — and seeing Ian see Rose Melberg. You don’t get that look of awe and wonder on people older than five nearly enough these days.
- Bean-and-tuna salads, good crisps, Alexander McCall Smith books and late evening train rides to the West Country.
- And light falling almost horizontally on the fields of Wiltshire making everything look green and golden.
- And the world suddenly looking like a better place.
- Seeing Rose Melberg again, this time on a soft, warm Oxfordshire night, in a smelly, dirty Oxfordshire pub which played some sort of metal on the radio downstairs — the sort of place where I could have sworn nothing magical ever happens.
- Midday train rides to the West Country, with fluffy white clouds and bright blue skies and bright green hills and fluffy white sheep.
- Ten years of twee bedroom sadness, in the form of the Sinister mailing list, which, once upon a time, changed my life.
- The picnic to mark this occasion, which was very much like Sinister Picnics Of Yore used to be: weird at first, fun after a while, wonderful by the end.
- Tales of Jenny songs performed live at said picnic, and me running off (sort of) in the middle of a conversation to listen to them.
- And Pines’ songs, of course. (Always Pines’ songs. Even though I missed the best one by walking down the hill to the toilet.)
- And Visitors songs, too, under the tree, with Tim taking drags off his cigarette between verses, looking all shy and I-wasn’t-ready-to-do-this-guys.
- And staying out alive till the last of the sun.
- And the view from the top of Primrose Hill, with the moon rising on one side and the sun setting on the either.
- Kris‘s writing about it all, which nearly made me cry.
- The realisation that all this was so wonderful mostly due to people I met after I stopped going to picnics.
- The realisation which follows from the one above: that I’ve not only grown out of Sinister but into it as well.
- The fact that this somehow seemed highly significant at the time. It said something about my inner world’s local coherence.
- Staying up after the picnic in Tim’s living room, with the window half-open and April Dreams England on the cd-player.
- And the moment we both started singing along to ‘Service station’, so effortless and sweet.
- Kind London friends who invite us over to their colourful flat and cook us lunchon a Sunday when we are sleepy and hungry and poor and outside it is sweaty and hot.
- The last train of the day to the West Country, even though it was too cold and you couldn’t to see a thing out of the window past Didcot (and there’s not much point in looking out of the window before that).
- A year of Puffin-and-Daisy in England — or, rather, in Devon, our place of sea winds and low rolling hills and wide open skies, for which we have fallen completely.
- Celebrating said year with organic food and pop friends who have also been transplanted to the West Country, some a long time ago and others even more recently than us.
- The Taunton skyline out of Rob’s window, of trees and a church tower against a darkening sky.
- The last train… only kidding. It wasn’t much fun this time.
- The release (finally!) of the Occasional Flickers record, about which I will have to write more one of these days.
Or, in other words: the end of a summer that, just before its end, turned out to be rather lovely after all.
Friday, July 20, 2007
An exercise in honesty
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 12:39 am
I’ve been tagged! And it made me so happy I couldn’t think of anything to say for two weeks. But never mind — better late than never and all that. I think I have to tell you eight things you don’t know about me… or eight weird things… or was it random things? In any case, here are eight plain old things about me.
1) It turns out that, despite what I thought, I am not made out of blogger material. (You have probably figured that one out yourself.) Part of the problem is that when I dreamed this blog up, in the spring of 2004, I literally lived half my life, if not more, in the computer. I worked on it, played on it and talked to my friends on it. By the time I actually got round to making a blog, however –the summer of 2005– my life had changed in a way that meant that I had a lot less energy and computer-time, and the blog fell by the wayside. I do think of it nearly every day, though. Honest.
2) I am still, constantly, ceaselessly amazed by the ways in and the extend to which my family is dysfunctional. (A polite word for fucked up, in this case at least.)
3) I find it very hard to talk about this. Not because I think one shouldn’t talk about such personal things in public –I’d shout it from the rooftops if I could– but because I am worried it will look like I am feeling sorry for myself too much. Oh, and because I wouldn’t know who would want to listen to this stuff.
4) This was supposed to be a blog about ‘growing up, being in love with the world, and indiepop’ after all. Yes, this is its official tagline. No, I didn’t know I had one, either. I filled this in without thinking when I first set wordpress up –in the summer of 2005, in case you’re not paying attention– and then forgot about it until this spring, when I accidentally discovered it again.
5) I was amazed by how accurate this description was, on retrospect. My whole life is about loving the world, growing up, and indiepop.
6) Despite this, and the entry bellow, I remain as ambivalent about indiepop as I have ever been.
7) For example, Horowitz‘s ‘Popkids of the world, unite!’ makes me smile and cringe at the same time. I mean, it is sweet, and catchy as fuck, and –I hope– a reference to Nixon — what is there not to love? Except it has been such a awfully long time since all I wanted was “a happy, happy heart and your cutesy hand in my hand,” and it sounds silly and shallow. And yet, there are moments. There are moments. Like the evening of the Spiral Scratch All-Dayer when we ran away from the Manhattan Love Suicides –too much noise for my liking– only to go stand on the side of the street opposite Electrophonvintage and they looked cuter than anything I had seen in a long long time, and so Swedish that I was instantly transported –with my head spinning and my heart beating fast– to the wondrous summer of 2004. Or those nights like tonight — when the Pines nearly move me to tears — when the way Joe sings ‘somewhere, there were tears that held everything that I wanted to say’ seems to speak of every single ache that has ever resided in my heart.
(The Pines are, in a way, the band that got me into indiepop. It was a gradual process, really, but somewhere in there there is a Pines 7″ that changed my life in ways that it could never had imagined.)
8) Speaking of which: some stranger told me a while ago that the Friends of the Heroes fanzine –which I made, nearly single-handedly, in the summer of 2004– changed his life, in ways that I could never ever had imagined. And to think I have spent the intervening years thinking no one had really cared about the damn thing. And when I think back to it, I feel honoured more than anything else. Humbled, too — that someone opened up their heart to something I made that much. It makes it all worth it. I’d do it all over again in a moment, if I could.
And, as he said, life is very pretty sometimes. Even though –as evident from the list above– mine seems to have stopped sometime in late 2004, early 2005…
PS Oh, yes. I nearly forgot. I fully expect to be ignored, but, well, I tag Martijn, Alistair, Will, Ola, Clismo, and the following blogless people, who are welcome to use my comments box: Marianthi, Georgie and Koen. Just in case they ever read my blog, that is.
PPS Oh and thank you sunbeam for making me feel loved!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I suppose I won’t grow out of indiepop after all
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:10 pm
This should have been written and published right after the ‘These are the things that make these days worth living through’ entry below. In essence, it is the third, most important, and possibly last instalment in the ‘April dreams England’ series — in other words, the exploration of what this gig meant to me. But life got in the way and so it ended up being written for the Spiral Scratch all-dayer fanzine, which, according to my copy at least (#147), was distributed to 250 people. That, come to think of it, is probably my widest audience ever; but, just in case you weren’t there (say you live in another country or something): there you go. Oh, and the strangest thing? Kieron, who seemed to be the only other non-Spiral Scratch person who wrote for said fanzine, also talked about growing out of indiepop. Go figure.
We are sitting outside the Plant – two sixths of The Visitors, one half of the Pines and the Foxgloves, the boy behind thinksmall.nl and me. The Plant is a cafe in Exeter’s Cathedral Yard –a fine place to be– and the day is strange, hot and cold at the same time. There is a low grey cloud hanging over us and the promise of better weather in the air. We’re theorising about pop music in a way that makes the words ‘High Fidelity’ pop to mind, a way that makes me grin on the outside and giggle on the inside. And then Tim mentions ‘that part of folk that is the closest to pop’ and how hard it is to find it — and that’s when I say it. I tell him I’ve been looking for that for a few years now because “one day I’ll grow out of indiepop, and I’m afraid I won’t have anything to listen to” then. My attempt to explain this controversial statement is very soon abandoned because it only seems to make the questioning looks worse.
The concern that I will grow out of indiepop has been around for a few years. Since 2005, to be precise: the year that answered both my burning questions within the space of a few months, leaving my head spinning and rendering the songs about holding hands and hoping for a kiss irrelevant. (The questions were “will I find someone to spend my life with, and will I deserve them?” and “what can I do to leave a sweet mark on the world?” and, in case you are interested, the answers were “yes, and, trust me, that will be the least of your worries” and “how about being a teacher?” respectively.) I clang on to the few songs that still resonated — primarily the Lucksmiths, Pipas, the Pines, and the occasional song here and there that wasn’t about being young, lost, and waiting for love, along with the occasional song that was about these things but which I seemed to love too much to give up — and I worried. Because even though so much had changed, one thing had stayed the same: I only really liked indiepop.
Later on on that same evening, after Tim and Joe have played a set of three Visitors and ten Pinefox songs to an audience of five Visitors fans, one lonely-but-excited Pinefox fan and approximately fourteen bemused-but-interested kind strangers, I am standing in the corner fiddling with CDs and headphones and buttons, and Joe walks up to me. “Nice music,” he says, “I like it” — or something to that effect. I think I am playing the Razorcuts, or the Siddeleys, or otherwise something equally trademark: “This?” I tease, “it’s indiepop!” Because another thing that emerged from the aforementioned conversation is that those two don’t seem to be the sort of people who will readily identify themselves as indiepoppers. “The one you’ll grow out of?” he retorts and I am left smiling even though you can claim I have ostensibly lost. I like it when people remember what I say — and I like it even more when they use it appropriately.
That night we ride back home on the last bus, a double-decker that we have mostly to ourselves, through surreal-looking empty country roads. In the morning we ride back on a train packed like the beach on a bank holiday Monday because the promise of better weather has been fulfilled, and the day is warm and sunny and windy — in other words, perfect. In fact it is the best day of the year so far, weatherwise and otherwise, inside and out. We wander around Exeter — the boy Think Small, the Pinefox, Alistair Fitchett and me: a cafe, the Cathedral, the Cathedral Yard, Northenhay gardens. We talk of pop music and poetry, Lloyd Cole and literature, and somehow these seem to stretch all day. They blend with the sunshine and the haze, the odd questions and our awkward answers and our sudden, instant happiness.
But it is the evening that changes my mind. Because as it rolls around and Alistair leaves to catch a bus the rest of us roll down the hill, back to the green grass of the Cathedral Yard, armed with three bottles of beer, a bag of crisps, and the aforementioned happiness, discussing the relative sadness of the line “I loved you / well, never mind” — and the bells of St Steven’s begin to ring. They ring and ring all through the evening, as the light changes and the temperature drops and the people go home, the same three-chord song for hours on end. You’d think it would sound boring, but it doesn’t — it sounds heavenly — and the repetition only makes it more precious. I feel elated, honoured to be in the presence of something rare, on such a perfect day at that too!
And so I gather up my courage and look at Joe’s guitar case and ask him if he can play us a Cat’s Miaow song. It turns out that he can, and he can play us a lot more besides. And so we drink the beer, we eat the crisps, we talk about love and our favourite Magnetic Fields songs, and we sing. In perfect harmony for a moment or two — within, and, perhaps, even without. When we finish ‘The luckiest guy on the lower east side’ a random stranger claps. For a while it seems like I am living in a charmed world, where what is around corresponds to what is inside.
The time to dash to the bus station comes too soon, and so we dash. Saying goodbye breaks my heart, and so my heart is broken. But it is happier than it has been in a long while, too — as happy as it was when we stood with Pipas on the rocks overlooking Athens under brilliant blue skies, and I felt like we were about to discover the treasure at the end of the rainbow — because I have found a part of myself I haven’t seen since, and it is the part that I know and love the best. And so, as we walk away into the sweet-smelling spring air, where the bells are still ringing, I make a face and I tell my husband: I suppose I won’t grow out of indiepop after all.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
These are the things which make these days worth living through
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 2:23 pm
[You might want to go and read Alistair’s and Martijn’s reviews of this first, if you haven’t already.]
What you have to understand is that I feel responsible for this gig.
I asked Joe (who is half of the Pines and also of the Foxgloves) to come down to play because I’ve secretly been truly in love with his songs since I first heard them. He asked Tim to come down to play with him for reasons that weren’t clear to me until this afternoon, when Tim got off the train full of stories about supporting Talulah Gosh in this very venue and rushing to catch the last bus too many times to count. It was only then that I realised that the Visitors were actually from Sidmouth, the town a few miles east of Budleigh Salterton. They lived here: they wrote their songs and performed them and went to gigs and got drunk and were hangover on Sunday mornings, all right here in Devon. The very idea seems difficult to grasp, somehow. What do you mean the Razorcuts played in the Arts Centre too? I know they probably only played to a dozen or so people, but that doesn’t make it sound any less impressive. Quite the opposite. It gives me hope that the First Division will one day be legendary too.
For the moment things aren’t looking all that promising. Alistair’s C is right when she says that the whole thing has a refectory feel about it. Joe and Tim play to a row of mostly empty tables while all around people walk, talk and drink, casting only the occasional glance our way. The occasional puzzled glance, I have to add. Why are these nervous-looking people playing a gig at the corner of the bar? And why is this small bunch of happy-looking not-quite-kids-anymore looking at them so intensely? What’s the big deal? And so I feel a little bad.
To me, of course, every little bit is perfect, has been from the start: Joe saying that ‘this is a song about roads, the roads between us and the people we’ve left behind, the people we’re yet to meet, the people we love’ at the beginning of ‘Second hand’, for example, or Tim’s smile when he bravely launches into the first song (the Visitors’ ‘Bliss’). But I’m starting to wonder if I’ve only put this on for myself, to hear these songs that I love to bits played live and get yet another chance to sing along to them, and whether I should have put everyone else through the trouble just for this. Surely not. How selfish of me.
And then, wouldn’t you know it, they launch on another Visitors’ song, and as Tim sings ‘all the old songs that I’ve known and loved for years / playing quietly from someone else’s radio’ something stirs inside me, and as he goes on pictures of Devon in the summer unfold effortlessly in my head, and everything starts to fall into place. The song builds up beautifully and the performance is faultless too, even if it is only me thinking that and I’ve never really paid attention to it before, so what would I know? But it does, to me anyway, and as it draws to a close (‘leaning from my window shouting into the dark I don’t love you, I don’t love you, I don’t love you!’) I find I’m leaning forward from my chair, nearly falling over. And suddenly it’s alright. Even if no one else cares, it’s alright.
But of course they do. People seem drawn into the strong imagery of ‘Oil Fires’ that follows and they laugh at the bittersweet wryness of ‘Do you have to stop writing to start living?’ — because, how could they not? It’s wonderful! And I smile. My heart is lifted by the sight of others appreciating the wonder that are these songs, songs that have been major hits in my front room, songs that I keep so close to my heart, the songs that have brought us all here tonight.
And when Tim announces ‘Goldmining’ (‘this song was last performed twenty years ago, in this very venue’) somebody who was actually there twenty years ago cheers and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who cares. They finish off with ‘We’ll never be cool’ –a song with major indiepop-hit potential– and I sing along like I did those nights in Dorking, back where it all started, convinced of the same old thing. We’re really the coolest of them all.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
There’s always a song playing in the background #2
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 7:20 pm
Do you know how specific songs seem to have been locked together in your heart with specific moments and always seem to remind you of them? I particularly love the small, random ones. Like Glo-worm’s cover of ‘Friday I’m in love’ seems to instantly take me back to a certain sunny evening in my tiny yard in Athens, because I was listening to it while handing my laundry. It brings back the exact feeling of what it was like to stand there surrounded by wet colourful pieces of cloth and the early summer breeze.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Who would have thought
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:53 am
The day has come when I will, almost voluntarily, link to a myspace site — and one that doesn’t allow you to download the songs at that too! The reasons behind that are called the Sunny Street and to be honest I know nothing about them other than a few pop kids with immaculate taste have been listening to them. And that they sound like a cross between Galaxie 500 and Friday Bridge. And that this is oddly touching.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
April dreams England
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 4:00 pm
(You can start with the numbers.)
Two friends. One idea. Twenty songs, and thirty days to write them in. (One month: April). Another month, or two, to record them in — in a flat or two. Twenty songs that make up one album, and which were, thereafter, set out to wander the world in the form on a handful of cassettes. A handful of cassettes which were destined to circulate among a number of people only slightly larger than a circle of friends for years. Years that, if you add them up, make seven. Seven years in which those twenty songs amounted to little more than someplace-or-other’s best kept secret, until they resurfaced one misty April night in Exeter. But I am jumping ahead of myself here.
(And you can go on with the adjectives.)
It is criminal, really. In a fairer world ‘April dreams England’ would be Matinee Recordings’ long lost masterpiece, and I would be happy. Because ‘April dreams England’ contains some of the most evocative, delicate, exquisitely-crafted songs I have ever happened to come across. Because the First Division are masters of pop and poetry. Their songs capture the essence of a moment with an intensity that can take you by surprise. They portray the loves, longings and regrets of those who are half-outsiders, and half enchanted by the world; those who are sour and sweet, torn between books and life, and, all the while, nostalgic for the present.
(Or you can put it differently.)
The First Division consist of members of the Pines and the Visitors playing poetic pop songs about ‘life in England, outside London’ in a way that will have you believe they are the long lost link between Lloyd Cole and C86. They are going to present those to the world for the very first time at the bar of the Exeter Phoenix, on Friday, April 13th, at 8:00 pm.
It’s going to be great — and it’s going to be free, too.
More colourful version: http://www.exetergoespop.com
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
My fondest wish
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 5:05 pm
When I sent out the last Sprinkled Pepper newsletter, I got an email back touchingly entitled ‘there’s always a song playing in the background’, which instantly made me think of Comet Gain’s ‘You can hide your love forever’ and the way it instantly makes me feel like I am standing in the middle of a field in the middle nowhere in south-east Sweden. Ever since that phrase keeps coming back to me whenever I think of a song that distinctly reminds me of someone or something. It sprung to mind yesterday when I came across this ILX thread where someone had quoted a line from a Big Star song that distinctly reminds me of someone (the song — not the line):
“I loved you, well, never mind”
I have to admit that my first thought was that ‘September Gurls’ would never even cross my mind if I was looking for the saddest line. Today, I suddenly see his point.
By the way, I have no idea what I’d say the saddest line actually is. I’ve been thinking about it but I can’t seem to come up with anything. Something off ‘I started a joke’ perhaps? Something off ‘Suzanne’? Dear Nora’s “and I’ll think about it all / including how you never call / even though I sit waiting by the phone on any given night”? Laura Watling’s “what would you say if I told you I always look for you when I’m walking down the street”? Can it be that I really can’t think of anything else?
And what do you think? What is the saddest line?
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 8:26 pm
I’ve been unwell. Unwell, and buried under a pile of difficult things to think higher than me. And in a way, I’m still under it (in another way, I always am). But today the sun was shining properly –it was warm– and the wind was more playful than cold and I felt alive more than I felt like crying. I wanted to go out and draw trees more than I wanted to crawl under the duvet and hide for the rest of the week. And I wanted to write more than I wanted to stay silent.
And, of course, as it happens in such cases all the things that had been waiting inside me —waiting for a chance to be talked about— rushed out all at once. And, as it happens in such cases, they all got stuck at the door. Currently they are arguing with each other about what I should write about. The way the indiepop community still seems to be the best place to make friends after all these years? Athens and how my memories of it occasionally come back to haunt me? Or that old, half-forgotten project on ‘the beauty of the way that we are living’ and all the things that make me want to pick it up again? The opening lines of the poem Joan gave us and how they describe a land I sometimes visit in my dreams?
Or, perhaps, how sometimes every raindrop that lands on my window feels like a kiss on my soul, and I don’t hate the rain anymore.
Friday, February 16, 2007
True, it may seem like a stretch, but it’s thoughts like these that catch my troubled head when you’re away, when I am missing you so
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 3:46 pm
One of the songs I played last Friday – goodness, is it already a week ago?! – was ‘Such great heights’ by Postal Service. Martijn turned to me and said that he would never have played it himself because he thought it is a bit of a clichÃƒÂ©, is it not? And it’s not quite indiepop either, at least not anymore. But I had shown him he was wrong, he said. “If you play it at the right moment, it still sounds perfect!” I nodded. It was all true. But my reason for playing it had been simpler, much simpler.
It’s just that sometimes I need to shout out ‘I’m thinking it’s a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned’.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Reason #24 why you should like the Lucksmiths
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 3:52 pm
(Reasons 1 to 23)
Someone once told me (in Stockholm, on a bench, as dusk was ever so slowly falling all around) that the Lucksmiths are the quintessence of life. I must have laughed, and thought it touching –and, I suppose, rather true– and that would have been the end of that, were it not for days like today. Days when I spend the morning listening to them (each new song bringing forth a torrent of memories and feelings, all of them making the world look full of possibilities) and then I spend the afternoon nostalgic for the morning and all the while I wonder whether they have, after all, managed to distil at least half of the essence of life.
And then bottled it in a song, preserved forever and ever for the likes of me and you.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 8:45 pm
I seem to be up to a million things, lately, too many things, and it is driving me crazy, and… you don’t care, do you? Because I don’t either. What I wanted to say is that one of these things seems to be rediscovering the Chills’ ‘Heavenly pop hit’ and listening to it a lot. I only thought of it because I was feeling positive (along with positively overexcited — in fact it seems that overexcited has become my default mood, but never mind that) and wanted something positive to sing along to. And you can’t get much more positive than that:
Each evening the sun sets in five billion places
Seen by ten billion eyes set in five billion faces
Then they close in a daze and wait for the dawning
But the daylight and sunrise are brighter in our eyes
Where night cannot devour golden solar power
Once we were damned, now I guess we are angels
For we passed though the dark and eluded the dangers
Then awoke with a start, to startling changes
All the tension is ended, the sentence suspended
And darkness now sparkles and gleams
I used to feel like this, once upon a time — that “once we were damned, now I guess we are angels”. Honestly. It only lasted a few weeks, two or three or so, but I remember it clearly as one of the best times in my life. Perhaps singing this is going to bring it back. It is true, after all. Daylight and sunrise are brighter in our eyes, and we did pass through the dark and eluded the dangers. It is even quite possible that we have awoken with a start to startling changes. It would explain a few things…
Like why the darkness suddenly seems to sparkle and gleam.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:21 pm
Sometimes I love the world so much I think I am going to cry. Do you know what I mean? It only takes two sips of wine, an unbelievably exciting weekend, an empty flat and the Pines covering a Cat’s Miaow song, and I am about to burst from… from… something. I don’t know what, but it is good.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
First London weekend
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 12:42 pm
We’re going! We’re going! We’re going!
(And we need somewhere to stay. Offers more than welcome.)
Friday, December 1, 2006
Temporary pop envy vs Monday morning
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:23 pm
I’ve just spent an hour looking for reviews of our gigs on Google. It is not a healthy way to spend the time, I know, but sometimes you just can’t resist it. I found a couple of reviews I hadn’t come across before: one of Jens, one of the last ‘Flickers gig and a mention of the Clientele too.
[Honestly, why would anyone compare Lupe to Isobel Campbell?! I don’t see whatever it is they possibly have in common. But what to you expect from the nation that consistently uses the words ‘Sarah records’ when reviewing the Occasional Flickers? Really, if anything, they sound more Matinee or Shelflife. But then again in Greek ‘Sarah records’ seems to mean ‘indie-pop’ and ‘Pale Fountains’ equals ‘trumpets in a song or two’ — and ‘Isobel Campbell’ translates into ‘female vocalist in poppy band’. Sigh.]
And then I listened to Jens, and I missed him. I regretted never having written anything to commemorate the one year anniversary of his gig in Athens, and felt a pang for nostalgia for that old pop life of mine. In fact for a moment I missed the excitement of doing gigs so much I could cry.
But then the moment passed. Because I know that on Monday I will walk into the classroom (for the second week of school experience) and all thoughts of ‘Jens’, ‘indiepop’ and ‘gigs’ will be have long disappeared. (In fact they are already fading fast.) They will be replaced by thoughts of things like ‘soul’, ‘spirit’, ‘so much noise’, ‘growing and learning’, ‘sweet lovely smiles’ and ‘a lot of fun’. Because –did I mention?– I really do love Class 5. They’re making me think I was right to want to be a teacher. And, you know what else? Deep down, they’re more exciting than Jens.
A little more exciting.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Long lost tape III
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 6:01 pm
[Long lost tape II]
I wonder if I’ve been making this sound like a bigger deal than what it is. There’s not much suspense to it: Rachel convinced me to write Joe an email telling him how much I missed the tape and asking him for a new copy of it, and I did just that, even though it took a fair bit of courage and a couple of hours. Once I had done it I wondered whatever had been holding me back from doing so all this time. It wasn’t that hard. Joe wrote back, and so did I, with another story; he sent a tap complete with sleevenotes, and that made me very happy; then he sent another one, which I wasn’t expecting, and that made me even happier. I listened to the first one nearly all the time until I got the second one, and I’ve been listening to that ever since I got it, three days ago. I’m listening to it now, for that matter: singing along, wondering what it is that makes these song speak to my heart in a way very few others do, and – dare I say it?– feeling blessed to own a copy of these recordings again.
Needless to say, I’ve broken off the write-protection tabs already.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Long lost tape II
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 8:23 pm
[Long lost tape I]
In the months that followed I played that tape a lot. (They were rather happy, intense, creative months, while also being long and dark, and they changed my life.) And then, one crazy April night while it was snowing and I was talking to a friend who had suddenly rang my doorbell after months of not being in touch, I accidentally taped over it.
Oh, the sense of loss when I realised. I got over it, of course, over time I even forgot about it; but every now and again I thought back of that night and quietly cursed myself. Damn. Damn. Of all the tapes in my bedroom, why did I have to pick that one? I had asked David to make me another copy, of course, and he had said yes, but then he never quite got round to it and then we lost touch, and that was the end of that. I gave up on the idea of getting hold of those songs again and I started telling this story instead, and the tape acquired legendary status in the story of my life.
And every now and again a phrase or a picture from these songs would come back to me, like a flashback from a different life, and I would feel haunted for a minute or a day, and long to listen to them again. Three and a half years and the intensity of that feeling still surprised me. It was clear that I had to do something.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
A reason to be thankful
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:55 pm
I thought of using “You should all be murdered” as the title of this post, but I just couldn’t bring myself to it, even though I know they didn’t mean it literally. (I can’t quite imagine Harvey Williams planning to murder people.) Even so, I don’t like the sound of it. I do like the song, though. I love its indiepop-angst-ness and the guitars and the drumbeat and the fact that it was probably recorded in a shed, or something. And I love the lyrics:
The people who were cruel to those that don’t deserve.
The people who talk too much, the people who don’t care.
The people whose lives are going nowhere.
The people who just give in, the people who don’t fight.
The people I don’t like.
There’s something so right about them, in all their wrongness. And here’s mine (even though it doesn’t rhyme):
The people who have no faith.
The people who think that homo homini lupus est.
The people who make it so because they believe it is like that.
The people who think there is no meaning in this life, and nothing beyond it.
The people who find there is little or no joy and no goodness.
The people I can’t stand.
I’m not sure what got me thinking of that, though I do have my suspicions; what I do know is that it is not because I came across one of these people recently. In fact thinking about it made me realise that I am surrounded by people who think there is a reason for this madness — and how great that is!
The people who think that we come from somewhere, and we are on our way to somewhere.
The people who think that what we do in between is immensely important.
The people who think that things such as right and wrong actually exist, and one can actually tell them apart.
The people who think that as is meaning inherent in everything, so is joy in living.
The people who think that there is love even in the smallest of things.
The people I like.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Long lost tape I
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 9:29 pm
David and I walk down a dark street in Dorking singing “we’ll never be cool, we’ll never hang around in the right place / we’ll never be cool, not with your mind, and my face”. Even though, to be honest, we thought we were quite cool, in our own, uncool way.
That was the autumn of 2002: on retrospect, one of the happiest times in my life. (One of the very few trouble-free times in my life.) David was my boyfriend, and he was sweet. Dorking was, and still is to the best of my knowledge, a town in Surrey (and not something English people do). The song was (surprisingly enough) called ‘We’ll never be cool’. David had it on tape, a tape given to him by someone, possibly the person who wrote the song or perhaps a friend of his? I can’t remember. What I do remember is that after he played me that tape once, he had to play it again and again because I fell in love with it. We made a copy of it before I left for Greece, on flight with a long layover in Prague. Back then I had a walkman, which explains why I ended up listening to the Foxgloves on a bus though Czech suburbs. The bus was supposed to take me to a metro station, from where I could catch a train to the centre, where I would walk around for an hour or so. Except the whole town had been flooded just a few days before, the metro wasn’t running, I couldn’t find the replacement bus service, I was tired, and I decided to go back to the airport and wait. Thus, these are my only memories of Prague: the grey, run down buildings in the twilight, how poor everyone looked, the songs.
My other memory of that night is of the plane flying low over Thessaloniki at 2 am. The streets were empty, the streetlights were flickering in the mist and the whole thing looked gorgeous. We nearly flew over my flat. I took a taxi from the empty, deserted airport back into town and crept into my room, then crept out to carry the stereo back in. I set it up on some cardboard boxes, connected the speakers hastily and went to bed, the images from the songs moulding into my dreams.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
There’s more to life than popsongs, but…
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 11:57 pm
Who is Sally Shapiro, and
why is she how come she is covering Nixon?
I never thought I’d see the words ‘Pitchfork media’ and ‘Nixon’ in the same sentence — it just had never crossed my mind, but there you go. This morning I did, courtesy of the indiepop list. It felt really strange. In a way I am very happy that such a great tune will get a wider audience, but in another, my inner
snob indiepopper is shaking her head, thinking “where were you when…” Which is slightly ridiculous because I came to Nixon rather late myself, not to mention that I’m not sure I want to be that sort of person. (I’m not sure I don’t want to be that sort of person either, to be honest. What I am sure of is that it doesn’t really mater. It’s just a song, anyway. Even if it is a Nixon song, and I used to have the biggest crush on Nixon. It is just a song.)
It doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t. But
here’s the original, anyway.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
“And/ even if there really is no place/ where dreams come true/ my heart is still with you”
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:01 pm
Because there’s water dripping down our kitchen ceiling, and it makes the smoke alarm go off (update: the water has just stopped, but the alarm won’t shut up). Because my head is spinning from a busy –and lovely– day. Because my camera ran out of batteries so I couldn’t take the photo I’ve been wanting to take since Tuesday. Because I came to truly love Rose Melberg this summer. Because ‘Cast away the clouds’ did exactly that, help cast away the clouds. Because ‘Each new day’ is priceless, and I spent he first two weeks of living in Exmouth singing it to myself. And just because it sounds lovely and it’s a nice something to have:
Mp3s: Rose Melberg live in Allston (with many thanks to Bradley’s Almanac)
(Also, because Martijn wants the laptop so he can email Alistair and I need to play my recorder and empty my head before going to bed — but somehow those don’t quite have the same ring to them, do they?)
Monday, February 13, 2006
At least you’re not fighting with another boy
or, sing a song with the Triangles and one with the Snow Fairies
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 4:07 pm
I think I’m at least four posts behind on the books thread, probably a lot more. There’s a whole series of posts (on the relative merits of 2005) that I just didn’t do, not to mention all the day-to-day posting I could have been doing. And there’s a long story, entitled ‘anniversaries, autism and the fifth boy’, that I intended to write and post on the 19th of January, which was nearly a month ago…
When this sort of thing happens you can imagine me buried under a pile of unpleasant books, exam stress, endless, pointless family arguments, a lot of parental unpleasantness and a tonne of uncertainty about the future. A lot of looking for the boyfriend inside the boyfriend too; sulking, shouting and wondering; trying to understand why things happen. Like this:
We’re visiting a friend of mine at the restaurant where he works, and I am telling him all about my troubles. If this were my day off, he says — I interrupt: it is not our day off, we’re always off, or always on, depending on how you look at it — if I could leave this place anytime, he says — yes? — then I would go out, have a nice meal and get drunk and forget about everyone and everything. I translate to the boyfriend (said friend’s English isn’t very reliable so we were having the conversation in Greek) who is quietly, patiently sitting next to me and working (i.e. thinking of some very abstract, very complicated mathematical things) and what does he reply but:
“I’m not very hungry.”
You know, some times I have it in me to explain that this is not about being hungry but about having fun, getting drunk, ignoring the fact that we might not find a taxi home because of the snow, seeing what being crazy and careless feels like for a change, whatever — some others I don’t. Most times in fact I don’t even realise I need to explain, not for a few hours at least, so that’s where sulking, shouting and wondering comes in.
And then some laughing. We’ll make it through.
Because I think I’m doing okay. Despite everything. In fact, considering it is February, that is, the absolute rock bottom of any given year for me, and that the past year has strangely seemed to be the hardest one so far I’m not just doing okay, I’m doing brilliant. You know, I even smile when the sun is shining. And this got me dancing in the bus stop the other day. The boyfriend told me he had known about it since October. When I asked him why he had kept it a secret all this time he replied “You don’t read my blog!” (He is right by the way. They do sound like what I had hoped the Polyphonic Spree to do.)
One of the next songs to come on was by the Snow Fairies, and I have known it since October.
“- Every day we fight…
– I wouldn’t call it a fight.
– Every time you cry…
– Oh, there’s tears in your eyes for me.
– At least you’re not fighting with another boy!
– When I saw you last night…
– I have forgotten all of it!
– I couldn’t think of the words I wanted to say.
– I saw them all in your eyes.”
Friday, January 13, 2006
Say yes to everything
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 1:30 am
I made a Friends of the Heroes cover today. It was the first one I’ve done in a while, and it took a very long time, but I’m proud of the result and it making it made happy, and that’s all that matters sometimes, right? I also made the contents page, and, while doing so, listened to St. Christopher’s ‘Say yes to everything’ at least a hundred times. (It wasn’t really a hundred times, more likely twenty or so, but they felt like a hundred.) Each time the drum beat sent a shiver down my spine; each time the chorus made me want to cry.
‘.. and, surely, you will say yes to everything”
Really, the song is not much more than a love song — though a great one at that: there’s a good description of it on ‘Little Hits’ (and I think you can download it from there too, by the way)— but the reason it brings me close to tears doesn’t have to do with being in love.
At least not with this sort of love.
The line ‘say yes to everything’ brings me back to a spring morning when I was fifteen or sixteen. I was standing at the schoolyard during an all-too-short break. Trying to read some photocopied notes the teacher expected us to have studied by the next period, walk down some steps and enjoy the glorious weather at the same time. It was sunny, and windy, and that wind was just soft enough and strong enough to make my soul turn somersaults with happiness. In fact it was distracting me a whole lot but still I managed to read on. I think we were studying Odysseas Elytis and that the notes were meant to be analysing the main themes in his poetry. Then again, I’m not too sure, which goes to show how much I learned: not much at all. But that doesn’t matter.
It is hard to say what matters, that’s why I keep going off in tangents. It is hard, because there’s not much to say. I just read the phrase ‘a constant affirmation of life’. That’s all. And perhaps my heart missed half a beat, and perhaps it didn’t. And the wind kept on blowing, and I walked down the steps with my friends, probably moaning about something or other. It could be homework, or teachers being stupid. (They were.) And something in the back of my head whispered, quietly: Yes. Yes. That’s it. That’s what you do.
You say yes to everything.
Now I am older; wiser; and I spent half my evening looking in books, my Minstrels folder and the back of my head for a quote to use on that contents page. It was frustrating and I couldn’t find anything, because that’s what happens when you already have an idea in your head. Nothing else fits. Except I couldn’t use that something, because the book that contained it was in my parents house, 550 kilometres away, and you can’t quote someone on what you more or less remember they said, can you?
You can’t. But I wanted to quote Bert Hellinger. He had said something about how he can stay calm in the face of everything, because he accepts the bad things he comes across as a part of life. And then, when he sees something beautiful, he acknowledges that as a part of life too.
(I did find a quote in the end, by the way, but that’s a story in itself. Perhaps some other time.)
Friday, November 25, 2005
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 6:52 pm
(As in, “I think our Jens is falling asleep, it’s time we threw you guys out” – said at 4 am on Sunday morning to a crowd consisting of the support band and his ex-girlfriend, after we have sang songs in Greek, Japanese and Italian…)
One reason I haven’t yet talked about it is that it’s hard to. The memory of Saturday night brings tears to my eyes just now –it was that great– and I’m not the only one to feel this way. Since then I’ve read a review stating he was “wonderful, wonderful”; got three emails along the same lines; and had a couple of people after the gig tell me they could hardly speak. And, in this land of moaners (Greece), I haven’t heard one negative thing about it all. And did I mention it was nearly sold out? We actually made money.
I have never before felt so successful in my life. And to think I didn’t do that much about it. Okay, I did to a fair bit of the organising, but the idea was Lupe’s, and it would never have happened without Chris, Nick, Georgie, Martijn, and of course Jens, who even while touring America was decided not to cancel this show. The funniest thing about it is that back then I was too drunk (on excitement, mostly) to realise how great everything had gone. For a few hours, between, say, 10 pm on Saturday (when I stopped panicking) and 5 am on Sunday (when I finally fell asleep), I didn’t realise, think or even feel anything. I just was.
I don’t know what the best part was.
Perhaps it was when he climbed on those stairs next to the stage and sang an acoustic version of ‘Julie’ to an audience that was almost holding its breath. I know, because me & Chris were singing along occasionally, just the words we could remember by heart, and even though we were rather quiet, I could still hear us perfectly clearly
“… and all your friends are moving to London, while the sherry trees are still in blossom, oooh, Julie…”
Of course it says ‘cherry trees’ but the Swedes have a problem with the ‘ch’ sound and we had fun imagining sherry bottles hanging from trees.
Or it might have been when he said he would do two more songs, and because we should go away happy, he’d do the sad one first and I, almost unable to hold it back, said rather loudly “we’re just happy to have you”. It took my breath away, just how much my words reflected the general feeling in the room – and how Jens smiled (rather shyly).
Or it might have been the fact the he hardly paused between songs, which made the whole thing seem like a party. Just as I had promised everyone it would be. Of course later on Chris told me it was because it was best not to pause the i-pod which isn’t the most romantic reason but perhaps it makes it even better.
Or perhaps it was ‘Higher power’. The last song before the first encore (there were three!), and my favourite one… That Blueboy sample gets me every time. (I’ve always thought ‘So catch him’ is the best song ever, anyway.) I hardly remember much of that in fact, I must have died of happiness by then, having sang my heart out through most of the gig – particularly ‘Black cab’ and ‘Maple leaves’ and ‘You are the light’, I think everyone was shouting along during these… And the boyfriend said he would propose to me there and then if he hadn’t done it already.
“She said let’s put a plastic bag over our heads
and then kiss and stuff ’til we get dizzy and fall on the bed.
We were in heaven for five or six minutes, then we passed out
and I was so in love I thought I knew what love was all about.”
The funny thing is, I would have probably said yes. Even though I’ve done it already.