Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We wanted to be the sky: a DDR fishing boat, Nas, and Bloc chaos

Hi, sorry I've been a bit quiet on here. I've just finished a book on Spain, I'm editing a website called ourBeeb full-time til October for openDemocracy, about the future of the BBC, and somehow I've still found time recently for these three Guardian music features. So here they are!

I was lucky enough to go to Hamburg with ace photographer (and mate) Dave Stelfox to spend a weekend on a 1960s East German herring boat, the 80 metre long MS Stubnitz, to see the engine room, sleep in the bunks, and find out how an incredible Swiss sound artist called Blo saved the boat from the scrap heap, to turn it into an incredible cultural powerhouse, roaming the high seas. Here's the feature about the Stubnitz, ahead of its first ever visit to London, for the ill-faited Bloc Weekend.

Ahead of his new album I went to meet the legendary Nas to talk about what it's like when you're considered the greatest rapper alive, but you're pushing 40, you've seen hip-hop change beyond all recognition, got close to Amy Winehouse over Skype, and had a long, messy break-up with Kelis. He was very philosophical, and said some weird things about cows. Here's the piece.
What happened at Bloc? I was there, and I don't really know where to start, but Friday night's debacle involved two and a half hour queues, dangerous crowd surges, panic, police lines, a cancellation in the small hours of the morning, Steve Reich, and music made by a mass improvised shipping container drum orchestra. There's video and audio, pictures, tweets and 1500 words in this epic collaborative report, with mad love to combabes Chris Wood, Nick Wilson and Dave Stelfox for the bits that weren't the words.


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