Apologies for the radio silence, folks – I’ve been up to my ears in packing boxes (moving flats) and we have other exciting things afoot musically.
Been meaning to share some of my collection of old family snaps with you though, so here’s the first installment. Sorry the scans are a bit rubbish, but these photos have been carted around with me from city to city, continent to continent, and they’re a little, erm, ‘loved’ (Velveteen Rabbit style – my favourite children’s book ever, by the way).
my musical mama
my dad (looking like a total dude)
my step-dad (with his sisters) as a little boy…
…and all grown up!
my step-mum & i, on my 10th birthday
(can you tell by my bunches, and her poodle-perm/pleated jeans, that it was the 80s?)
Say what you like about the internet (ie. “file-sharing has killed the music industry”… “Kids these days have gold-fish-like ADHD because of it”… “It’s for porn.” ) but I am a card-carrying fan. Myspace gave Sweet Tooth our first presence in the big bad world, and the big bad world seemed to like us so we recorded more tunes.
I love how Facebook lets us join in with the chatter of our fan’s friends (and how personally it allows me to keep the spider’s thread of connection going with my old crew in Australia). And don’t get me started on how Youtube & Vimeo have beamed our little video to 36,000 pairs of eyes.
One of my favourite things about it, however, is the wonderful people I’ve met through it. Our website was build by clever Michael at Kopano Media who heard our cries on Twitter and offered to help. We’ve received invaluable advise and assistance from Miss Nini Baseema (social-media doyenne / Lost at E Minor contributor). And best-buddies Laetitia Wajnapel (the friendly, French fashion blogger) & Cate Sevilla (writer, and founder of the site Bitch Buzz) have proven to me that you can be brave, meet online contacts in the ‘real world’, and find that they are as inspiring and hilarious in person as on the page.
But enough of my whittering about the interwebs (hell, you’re blog readers – you know this already). This post is really an excuse for me to talk about two girl crushes of mine that I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person, but when I’m next in NYC I will be hunting down for a cocktail. (In a non-stalkery, uber-cool, not at all excited way, of course).
Blogger & designer friends Alexandra Grecco & Hannah Metz are two Brooklyn-based beauties whose sites I discovered recently and had me instantly charmed. I can’t recall which came first – Alexandra’s soft colours and 1930’s boudoir aesthetic gave me shivers of pleasure when I first I saw her Spring 2010 collection (inspired, in her own words, by “vintage lingerie, curves and pin up girls!”). And it was Hannah modelling the garments, whose winsome styling of the Pickford Onesie and Gish Bolero soon had me putting in my Etsy order:
And what did I find? Alexandra was an absolute darling to deal with – coping cheerfully with my silly confusion over US sizing, and dispatching immediately as I had an event to wear the suit to. And in the ensuing email chain we soon moved from the business at hand onto chatting about music and London, and from that onto a possible musical collaboration to promote her future collections. All by the power of the world-wide-web.
Alexandra in her own designs.
Images speak louder than words when it comes to Alex’s prodigious talent – so check out the gorgeous promo film that Dan Estabrook (an incredible artist who deserves a post of his own) made for her Spring 2011 collection:
And these stunning stills below were taken by photographer and graphic designer Landon Metz– Hannah’s husband and the “Landon” of her blog own title.
Which brings me to the delightful Hannah – pre-Raphaelite red-head; purveyor of vintage clothing and life-envy. It’s hard to know what to say about her without seeming like a total stalker (that’s not me outside in the bushes Hannah, I promise!), but I’ll unashamedly confess that when I found her blog I slowly made my way back through all of her posts. The photography, the romantic subject matter (both in the artistic and personal sense) and the insight given into their married life are just gorgeous. And done with such an unpretentious tone that they don’t seem at all the ‘New York Hipsters’ they could be accused of being by those that didn’t bother to read beyond “Brooklyn artists.” Instead your feeling for the love-birds is simple admiration – and would you believe that they themselves met online on Livejournal?
Hannah’s also a poster-girl for the power of the web when it comes to commerce – taking a growing online profile and using it to raise money for her burgeoning lingerie line The Loved One with the glamazonian Elvia Lahman (click here to their Kickstarter page to donate – the world needs more fancy pants in it!).
Photographs by Landon Metz.
Lingerie by The Loved One.
Bottoms by Hannah Metz & Alexandra Grecco.
And well, if that (and those curvy bottoms) didn’t convince you - Justin Timberlake even knows who they are. I’m sorry, but if The Trousersnake even knew my name, I think I might die of a teen-crush-coronary. Let alone what he has to say about them:
“The thing is, in this day and age, this blog is pretty much as close as we can get to a Shakespearean love sonnet…
Like if their blogspot pages had a smell, they would be vanilla and the smell of baked apples and wood that may have drifted from your grandmother’s apartment. Or maybe cinnamon in a hot totti.
In other words, it is sweet but not saccharine, comforting but not cloying. It makes you want to fall in love and/or escape into their world.”
I couldn’t agree more, Justin
I’ll leave you with a very cute portrait of my cat Sophie and I that Hannah sweetly drew when I told her I was planning a post on her & Alexandra. Oh, did I not already mention that she’s also a talented illustrator in her own right? Yep, she can draw too.
Sweet Tooth clarinet player, Ewan Bleach, on a swinging night at Passing Clouds in Hackney.
Shots taken during the photo shoot for Sweet Tooth’s album artwork at the George Tavern in Commercial Road.
“The greatest thing, you’ll ever learn.
Is just to love.
And be loved, in return.”
Nat “King” Cole’s rendition of the song ‘Nature Boy’ would have to be my favourite recording of all time.
A big statement, I know, but I stand by it. The lyrics as a whole tell a story that’s magically bewitching. And the refrain about love encapsulates my philosophy of life in one, wonderfully simple, line.
I’ve heard this song countless times – from listening to it with my mama when I was a little girl, through to it being a constant edition to any mellow play-list I make. Nat’s soothing voice, combined with the lilting strings and simple, haunting piano line, never fails to make me stop in my tracks and really listen, rather than let it just float by.
But it’s only recently that I discovered what an intriguing story is behind the song’s conception.
The strange and fascinating American songwriter ‘eden ahbez’ wrote the song in 1947, and his life was one of long-haired hippies with flowers in their hair, long before the Peace movement became populist in the 1960s. His real name was George Alexander Aberle but his close friends knew him simple as ‘ahbe’ – a beatnik poet in a full beard, long, flowing white robes and sandals, with a predilection for outdoor living (camping with his wife and young son in L.A’s public parks).
This lifestyle seems to have begun for him in the early 1940’s, when he moved to Los Angeles and supported himself by playing piano in the Eutropheon, a small health food store and raw food café owned by German immigrants. It was here he began to live by a ‘Naturmensch’ philosophy that advised only eating raw fruits, vegetable and nuts (which, considering ahbez lived to almost 90 and even then died in a car accident, could perhaps teach us all something?). It was also here that he changed his name to ‘eden ahbez’ – the lower-case letters purposefully avoiding the capitalization he claimed could only be attributed to two words worthy enough: ‘God’ and ‘Infinity.’ See, I told you he was a little strange!
Quite how he went from health-food shop to acclaimed song-writer is wonderful. In 1947, ahbez diligently loitered outside the stage door of the Million Dollar Theatre, in the hope of approaching Nat “King” Cole with his song ‘Nature Boy.’ After many tries, he was able to get it to Cole’s manager and shortly afterward Cole began to perform the beguiling song live and saw how it touched his audience’s hearts. In order to release a recording of it, however, Cole needed to track down the author and arrange the publishing rights. And here’s where the story gets its magic, as a great search ensued and ahbez was finally discovered living underneath the first ‘L’ of the Hollywood sign (I kid you not!).
The gorgeous recording shot to #1 on the Billboard charts (remaining there for eight consecutive weeks during the summer of 1948), and once the PR’s dream of a story got out, the ensuing media frenzy saw ahbez covered in Life, Time and Newsweek magazines. Stars like Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan later released versions, ahbez continued to supply Cole with songs, and also wrote hits for artists including Eartha Kitt and Sam Cooke (two more of my favourites!).
Just wonderful, hey? Learning the song’s history has made me love it even more so I hope it’s had the same effect on you. It’s always held a slightly mystical quality for me, and this has only increased knowing it was written by a true ‘nature boy,’ camped out under the Hollywood sign.
“Very wise was he” indeed…