Steve Reich: the composer with his finger on the pulse

One week ago

Reich showed the world the hypnotic pleasures of repetition as his music took in religion, politics and New York city life and aged 80, hes still moving forward

For 30 years I walked around Manhattan with earplugs in my ears. Steve Reich, whose music seems to embody the pulsing energy of the metropolis, doesnt enjoy being there that much. Whenever I went out I had to kind of gird myself, you know, he says. I basically dont like New York.

If the city had feelings, it would find that particularly hard to take right now. It is in the midst of feting Reich, who has just turned 80. Hes composer in residence at Carnegie Hall, which is throwing a birthday concert for him on 1 November. His work is being performed at the Guggenheim, the Juilliard School and NYU. Hes even in the process of moving back to his roots from the leafy upstate suburb of Pound Ridge, where we meet, to the Lower East Side. I mean, I owe a great deal to New York, he says, and all my best friends are there and I am a New Yorker. But theres a part of me that doesnt like noise, doesnt like a million people, doesnt like concrete.

Fans may have misread City Life, a 1995 work that riffs on slamming taxi doors, horns and sirens, then. That was written in hostility, before we left. It was like, I cant stand these car alarms, so Im going to put them in the piece and do what I want to with them. I know how to take care of you. Im just going to devour you in my music and make something that I really want to hear.

In Pound Ridge birdsong is the only noise likely to disturb him. The Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house that Reich shares with his wife, video artist Beryl Korot, sits on a beautiful wooded slope, and warm October sunlight fills the room in which we talk. It might be a wonderful place to compose, but its too isolated. Snow trapped him here one evening when he was supposed to be at a performance of his work in Manhattan. And Korots gallery is on the Lower East Side. So, despite his misgivings, hes returning to the city in which he made his name half a century ago.

In 1965 Steve Reich arrived back in New York after a spell at Mills College, California, where hed been studying composition. He had begun to experiment with tape loops, playing back snippets of human speech at different rates, letting them phase in and out of sync. Syllables sputter and stretch, zooming from one ear to the other, slowly reforming before deforming again. Its Gonna Rain samples a Pentecostal preacher in Union Square, San Francisco, declaiming the story of the Flood. Come Out, made once he was home again, uses the voice of one of the Harlem Six, black men beaten up by police, explaining how hed had to split the skin on a bruise and let the blood come out in order to prove hed been injured. Created to raise money to pay for the Sixs legal team, the piece was included in a Columbia records compilation of new music a couple of years later. It was singled out in reviews and Reich found himself and his phasing technique in the spotlight.

Not everyone was happy, though. Infantile! Reich shouts, mimicking outrage. Infantile. A critic used that word.

Why? When Reich was a student, serialism, a genre that deliberately avoided harmony, melody and rhythm, was the only game in town. Luciano Berio, one of his teachers at Mills College, was a leading exponent, but its inventor was the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. It is difficult, highly intellectual music that makes sense as a stage in the development of the art, but has limited appeal. There have been periods in music called Mannerist, Reich explains. So at the end of Renaissance polyphony, it gets so convoluted, its brilliant but its always going to be off in a corner because its so recherche and so refined. And this always presages some move towards a drastic simplification, a back to basics. Like: hey lets just have a voice singing! Therell be a story, therell be people acting it out Opera!

And so it was in the middle of the 20th century. The skill particularly with Boulez and Stockhausen and the innovation is enormously admirable, enormously well done, and has its place in music history, no question about it. But, it attracted a minuscule audience. And if it werent for the fact that Stockhausen appeared on the cover of Sgt Pepper, it wouldve been ever smaller.

I felt in my gut: I became a composer because I love Bach, because I love Stravinsky, because I love bebop, because I love John Coltrane. Now, I just cant I dont want to spend my life doing this.

Reich did go back to basics and uproar ensued. A 1973 performance of Four Organs, a hypnotically beautiful work in which harmonic chords are played again and again, shifting and overlapping, for 15 minutes, became famous for all the wrong reasons. According to Michael Tilson Thomas, now director of the San Francisco Symphony, there were at least three attempts to stop the performance by shouting it down. One woman walked down the aisle and repeatedly banged her head on the front of the stage wailing, Stop, stop, I confess.

With the exception of a few European composers still, as Reich puts it, working in the graveyard, serialism has now mostly disappeared. I think we won hands down, he says, referring to the generation of musicians who broke away with him: Terry Riley, Arvo Prt, Philip Glass. But it is a restoration not a revolution. Swallow it: restoration. Of what? Harmony, rhythm and melody.

Its because of this that the pop, EDM and contemporary classical worlds are as close as they now are, he argues. More and more of the young highly skilled conservatory graduates like to hang out with DJs. He mentions Nico Muhly and the Nationals Bryce Dessner, two of the composers who will feature in his Three Generations programme at Carnegie Hall in April 2017.

Reichs son, Ezra, is also a pop aficionado, and has helped him appreciate artists like Prince and Giorgio Moroder. At the time, he says: I didnt pay any attention to Donna Summer or any of that, I knew disco existed but I didnt listen to it at all. He laughs and says that his favourite Summer track wasnt the famous one (I Feel Love). It was and here he bursts into song She works hard for her money ba da da da da da DA! … I really liked that a lot.

Pulse, which will be performed for the first time at the Carnegie Hall concert (its European premiere is at the Barbican in London on 5 November) was partly inspired Daft Punks collaboration with Moroder. Anchoring the winds, strings and piano is an electric guitar, which pumps out a repetitive bassline in homage to the 70s synth genius.

Also on the bill at both concerts are his collaborations with Korot, Three Tales. These video pieces, with accompanying scores by Reich, were designed to mark the turn of the millennium. They dramatise symbolic moments in the history of the 20th century: the explosion of the Hindenburg, the detonation of the hydrogen bomb at Bikini atoll and the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. As such and like Come Out theyre rare examples of political engagement by Reich.

I am not an activist, never have been, he explains, playing down the resonance between Come Out and the Black Lives Matter movement. I mean I have beliefs and if offered the opportunity, I will help out. But, he says in the long run, subject matter doesnt mean crap. Let me give you an example. One of the greatest artists of the last millennium is Pablo Picasso. And one of Picassos greatest masterpieces is Guernica Its extremely topical, its extremely passionate, its extremely political. As a work of art, its a towering masterpiece. As an effective political tool, its an absolute waste of time. Pablo, get out of here, youre an idiot.

His point is that, after Guernica, bombing civilians became more common, not less. So people ask me, should composers write political music? I say theres one obligation composers have. And that is to write the very best music they possibly can. If politics helps musicians get fired up to make good work then its done its job, he reckons.

Religion too. Reich rediscovered Judaism in his 30s the baseball cap hes never seen without is actually his version of a yarmulke and it has inspired some of his best-known works, including Tehillim and the Daniel Variations. On the wall behind him is a bookshelf stacked with weighty Jewish tomes. Theyre basically all centred around Torah, he explains, the first five books of Moses in the Christian Bible and in the Hebrew scriptures as well. Theyre read every year in a cycle. You start at the beginning of Genesis, and were now approaching the end of that cycle as we speak.

Theres a very famous commentary in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which we are presently in its called Teshuvah, by Maimonides. Teshuvah means returning, returning in a very broad sense of the word, returning to who you are, to who you really are.

Some of Reichs contemporaries, including Glass, Riley and La Monte Young, were directly inspired by Buddhism, with its own narratives of rebirth. Is Jewish spirituality the key to his instrumental pieces, as abstract as they sometimes seem? There is, after all, repetition, cycling, returning, on every page. The answer to your question is: who knows. God knows, I dont. I wouldnt say, Oh no, what are you talking about? Youre talking about something real.

The cyclical is only interesting when its not a cycle but when its a spiral, he continues. If it goes around and around in a circle, youre really a rat in a trap, and just playing a loop is a bore. But if you return above that point, or in a different position, you have returned as a different person, you have returned as a different composer, and you have returned to a different musical accomplishment.

I think it was Charles Olson, a poet you may have heard of, who said: People dont change. They only stand more revealed. And that seems about right for this reluctant New Yorker, finally making his way home again.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘Everyone we know is white’: John Legend sings to Downton Abbey theme

20 days ago

Singer concludes Americas love affair with the British show by adding lyrics to the instrumental theme on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Listen here

John Legend leant his vocal prowess and a dose of satire to the Downton Abbey theme song by adding lyrics to the shows famous instrumental opener.

Clad in a tuxedo, Legend appeared on Monday nights episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live to perform his rendition of the song on the heels of Downton Abbeys series finale, which aired Sunday night on PBS. The British period drama ran for six seasons, drawing millions of fans around the globe. Nearly 10 million viewers watched the final season premiere in January.

Legend spared no one in the song, poking fun at individual characters and noting the shows very white cast.

Everyone we know is very white, the song began. We dont have one black friend.

After pointing out that everyone in the show has so many hats to wear, Legend took aim at the Crawley family matriarch, famously portrayed by Maggie Smith.

Grandmamma is always such a witch, Legend sang. She needs to get laid.

He then melodiously stated facts about other characters like Mr Bates (a murderer but hes a real nice guy) and Thomas Barrow (We have a footman who is gay. Hes always carrying a tray). Legend couldnt sing about Downton Abbey without shedding light on favorite British period drama pastimes: drinking tea, taking naps, eating scones and gossiping.

Lets all ride horses and talk smack, he sang.

The song peaked and ended as Legend talked smack on Edith, the second Crawley daughter.

Edith is such a loser, why wont she just die? Why? Why? the Oscar-winner warbled.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

This Kid Was Totally Brutal At The London Marathon And It’s Hilarious

1 month, 2 days ago

Most of us have nothing but respect for the people who manage to run a marathon. I mean, I’m not sure I could even walk 26 miles, never mind run themand look happy aboutit too.

This little rebel however, saw his chance to wreak havoc – and he grasped it with both hands. Well, technically just one hand. And there was definitely no grasping going on.

Definitely the most uninspiring spectator ever, he was called a ‘little sh*t’ by the person recording the video as he offers a hand out to runners for a high five but then retracts it and leaves them hanging. A move that brings back vivid memories from our days at primary school.

Hey, you snooze you lose, guys.

It’s the one guy who goes out of his way to come and get a high five, before getting rejected, that really makes your heart ache…

What do you think? Let us know in the comments

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Miley Cyrus possibly Instagrammed evidence that she married Liam Hemsworth

1 month, 13 days ago

Image: mileycyrus/instagram

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth met on the set of a Nicholas Sparks movie, and since then, their love has had all the twists and turns of a Sparksian romance, including a broken engagement and reunion.

Now, based on Instagram, it seems like they may have finally tied the knot. Miley shared a shot of herself tongue out wearing a Pineapple Express bathings suit and a wedding band.

pool daaaaaze

A photo posted by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:52pm PDT

Recent hints that they’re making things official this time include her Hemsworth tee and tattoo of Vegemite paying tribute to her love’s homeland.

Between Hemsworth and the couple’s many dogs, Miley has built a cuddle-friendly life for herself.

So much love in one pic…. get ur happy hippie teeeee hereeeee http://miley.lk/HappyHippieMerch

A photo posted by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on Jul 17, 2016 at 5:01pm PDT

But Hemsworth also seems pretty close to this alien, so you never really know what’s going on behind closed doors especially where Miley is concerned.

#FriendsWithBenefits

A photo posted by Liam Hemsworth (@liamhemsworth) on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:12am PDT

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This Guy Live Tweeted His Attempt To Get A Free Dessert, And It’s Hilarious

1 month, 15 days ago

Until today, we’d have thought that the best way to get a free dessert at a restaurant – well – would be to pretend that it’s your birthday.

Yes, you might have to endure the whole place singing “Happy Birthday” to you, but then you just blow out a few candles and wham, bam, thank you mam – a free ice-cream sundae.

Well, when Twitter user Elan Gale suggested a better way to get free pudding, one Kyle Baldinger decided that he’d try it out…

Amazing.

Image Credits: Imgur, Rev 967

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Coachella day one: Kanye and Seal offer unlikely cameos in California sandstorm

2 months, 3 days ago

Savages bring visceral performance and LCD Soundsystem complete their comeback on a day of guest appearances and anthemic covers

Guest appearances, rising cover-ups and gusty winds were the order of the day for Friday at Coachella where Kanye West and Seal made their way through the sandstorm to provide unlikely cameos.

Seal appeared on stage with LAs R& B curio Gallant to perform Seals made Crazy, and he assisted Gallant with his track Weight in Gold. While that went down well in the Mojave tent, A$ AP Rockys set, which was delayed and nearly canceled because of the high winds and sand blowing around, watched Kanye make a puzzling cameo. At the end of an impressive set by A$ AP Rocky, in which he operated through recent hittings such as Pretty Flacko Jodye and L$ D with the help of a barbershop quartet, Kanye appeared to play The Life of Pablo track Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1. But his vocals were barely audible and the crowd was instead treated to what amounted to a bizarre mime show.

Earlier in the working day on the main stage, Years& Years won over the crowd with their brand of dance-pop featuring defined closer King, while Foalss transformation from skittish indie outliers to full-blown stadium rockers seemed complete with a set that probably belonged further up the bill.

The Last Shadow Puppets set in the Mojave stood out for the theatrics of Alex Turner, who wore a mustard suit and ran about the stage weave in between the groups string section while flailing a tambourine in the air. In between switching from thanking the crowd for its generosity, then imploring them for more applause and informing them what key anthems were written in, the pair presented the songwriting craft that theyve sharpened on their new album Everything Youve Come to Expect. Charm, however, seems to be a quality that they still lack.

Sufjan Stevenss set was part technicolor sensory overload and proportion singer-songwriter masterclass, with dancers and neon decoration that brought a touch of the psychedelic to the desert. With ways including I Want To Be Well and Impossible Soul, “its one” of the days standout performances.

On the other side of the spectrum were Savages, who eschewed subtlety for a visceral and lapel-grabbing situated, with lead singer Jehnny Beth putting paid to the idea that the epoch of the frontperson is over. Walls of noise, feedback and roaring guitars provided the backing for Beth, who switched between performing in the crowd and creating slam poetry on Shut Up. Pummelling and unapologetically bruising, the bands live offering is much more than style and overly serious posturing.

Jack U certainly wasnt serious. While M83 allayed the crowd with their Imax electro pop, Jack Us set was loaded with more drops than a paratrooper regiment, as he remixed and re-jigged anything imaginable( the Imperial March, anyone ?), turning it all into one repetitive EDM showcase that was torturous or joyous, depending on your stance toward endless wobbly basslines.

LCD Soundsystems headline set assured them complete their comeback, picking up where they left off in 2011. Under a giant disco ball, they operated through Us v Them, Daft Punk Is Playing at My home, You Wanted a Hit, Tribulations and a brilliant version of Yeah, which descended into an acid home workout. The effectivenes of ways such as Someone Great was definitely still there, but it was the bands encompas of David Bowies Heroes and segue into Guns N Roses November Rain that defined their situate.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Steve Reich: the composer with his thumb on the heartbeat

2 months, 4 days ago

Reich indicated the world the hypnotic pleasures of repeat as his music took in religion, politics and New York city life and aged 80, hes still moving forward

For 30 years I walked around Manhattan with earplugs in my ears. Steve Reich, whose music seems to represent the pulsing energy of the metropolis, doesnt enjoy being there that much. Whenever I went out I had to kind of gird myself, you know, he says. I basically dont like New York.

If the city had feelings, it would find that particularly hard to take right now. It is in the midst of feting Reich, who has just turned 80. Hes composer in mansion at Carnegie Hall, which is hurling a birthday concert for him on 1 November. His work is being performed at the Guggenheim, the Juilliard School and NYU. Hes even in the process of moving back to his roots from the leafy upstate suburbium of Pound Ridge, where we satisfy, to the Lower East Side. I entail, I owe a great deal to New York, he says, and all my best friends are there and I am a New Yorker. But theres a part of me that doesnt like noise, doesnt like a million people, doesnt like concrete.

Fans may have misread City Life, a 1995 work that riffs on slamming taxi doors, horns and sirens, then. That was written in resentment, before we left. It was like, I cant stand these car alarms, so Im going to put them in the piece and do what I want to with them. I know how to take care of you. Im just going to devour you in my music and make something that I genuinely want to hear.

In Pound Ridge birdsong is the only noise likely to disturb him. The Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house that Reich shares with his wife, video artist Beryl Korot, sits on a beautiful wooded slope, and warm October sunlight fills the room in which we talk. It might be a wonderful place to compose, but its too isolated. Snow trapped him here one evening when he was supposed to be at a performance of his work in Manhattan. And Korots gallery is on the Lower East Side. So, despite his mistrusts, hes returning to the city in which he made his name half a century ago.

In 1965 Steve Reich arrived back in New York after a spell at Mills College, California, where hed been studying composition. He had begun to experimentation with tape loops-the-loops, playing back snippets of human speech at different rates, letting them phase in and out of sync. Syllables sputter and stretch, zooming from one ear to the other, slowly reforming before deforming again. Its Gonna Rain samples a Pentecostal preacher in Union Square, San Francisco, declaiming the story of the Flood. Come Out, induced once he was home again, uses the voice of one of the Harlem Six, black humen beaten up by police, explaining how hed had to split the skin on a bruise and let the blood come out in order to prove hed been injured. Made to raise money to pay for the Sixs legal squad, the piece was included in a Columbia records compilation of new music a couple of years later. It was singled out in reviews and Reich find himself and his phasing technique in the spotlight.

Not everyone was happy, though. Infantile! Reich hollers, mimicking outrage. Infantile. A critic use that word.

Why? When Reich was a student, serialism, a genre that purposely avoided harmony, melody and rhythm, was the only game in town. Luciano Berio, one of his educators at Mills College, was a resulting exponent, but its inventor was the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. It is difficult, highly intellectual music that constructs sense as a stage in the development of the art, but has limited appeal. There have been periods in music called Mannerist, Reich explains. So at the end of Renaissance polyphony, it gets so convoluted, its brilliant but its always going to be off in a corner because its so recherche and so refined. And this always portends some move towards a drastic simplification, a back to basics. Like: hey lets only have a voice singing! Therell has become a story, therell be people acting it out Opera!

And so it was in the middle of the 20 th century. The skill particularly with Boulez and Stockhausen and the innovation is tremendously admirable, enormously well done, and has its place in music history , no question about it. But, it attracted a minuscule audience. And if it werent for the fact that Stockhausen appeared on the covering of Sgt Pepper, it wouldve been ever smaller.

I felt in my gut: I became a composer because I love Bach, because I love Stravinsky, because I love bebop, because I love John Coltrane. Now, I just cant I dont want to spend my life doing this.

Reich did go back to basics and uproar ensued. A 1973 performance of Four Organs, a hypnotically beautiful work in which harmonic chords are played again and again, changing and overlapping, for 15 minutes, became famous for all the wrong reasons. According to Michael Tilson Thomas , now director of the San Francisco Symphony, there were at least three attempts to stop the performance by shouting it down. One woman strolled down the aisle and repeatedly banged her head on the front of the stage cry, Stop, stop, I confess.

With the exception of a few European composers still, as Reich puts it, working in the graveyard, serialism has now largely disappeared. I think we won hands down, he says, referring to the generation of musicians who violated away with him: Terry Riley, Arvo Prt, Philip Glass. But it is a restoration not a revolution. Swallow it: restoration. Of what? Harmony, rhythm and melody.

Its because of this that the pop, EDM and contemporary classical worlds are as close as they now are, he argues. More and more of the young highly skilled conservatory graduates like to hang out with DJs. He mentions Nico Muhly and the Nationals Bryce Dessner, two of the composers who will feature in his Three Generations program at Carnegie Hall in April 2017.

Reichs son, Ezra, is also a pop aficionado, and has helped him appreciate artists like Prince and Giorgio Moroder. At the time, he says: I didnt pay any attention to Donna Summer or any of that, I knew disco existed but I didnt listen to it at all. He laughs and says that his favourite Summer track wasnt the famous one( I Feel Love ). It was and here he bursts into ballad She works hard for her money ba da da da da da DA! … I really liked that a lot.

Pulse, which will be performed for the first time at the Carnegie Hall concert( its European premiere is at the Barbican in London on 5 November) was partly inspired Daft Punks collaboration with Moroder. Anchoring the winds, strings and piano is an electric guitar, which pumps out a repetition bassline in homage to the 70 s synth genius.

Also on the bill at both concerts are his partnerships with Korot, Three Tales. These video pieces, with accompanying ratings by Reich, were designed to mark the turn of the millennium. They dramatise symbolic moments in the history of the 20 th century: the explosion of the Hindenburg, the detonation of the hydrogen bomb at Bikini atoll and the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. As such and like Come Out theyre rare examples of political involvement by Reich.

I am not an activist, never have been, he explains, playing down the resonance between Come Out and the Black Lives Matter movement. I entail I have faiths and if offered the opportunity, I will help out. But, he says in the long run, subject matter doesnt mean crap. Let me give you an example. One of the greatest artists of the last millennium is Pablo Picasso. And one of Picassos greatest masterpieces is Guernica Its extremely topical, its exceedingly passionate, its extremely political. As a work of art, its a towering masterpiece. As an effective political tool, its an absolute waste of time. Pablo, get out of here, youre an moronic.

His point is that, after Guernica, bombing civilians became more common , not less. So people ask me, should composers write political music? I say theres one obligation composers have. And that is to write the very best music they perhaps can. If politics helps musicians get fired up to make good work then its done its task, he reckons.

Religion too. Reich rediscovered Judaism in his 30 s the baseball cap hes ever seen without is actually his version of a yarmulke and it has inspired some of his best-known runs, including Tehillim and the Daniel Variations. On the wall behind him is a bookshelf stacked with weighty Jewish tomes. Theyre basically all centred around Torah, he explains, the first five volumes of Moses in the Christian Bible and in the Hebrew scriptures as well. Theyre read every year in a cycle. You start at the beginning of Genesis, and were now approaching the end of that cycle as we speak.

Theres a very famous commentary in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which we are presently in its called Teshuvah, by Maimonides. Teshuvah means returning, returning in a very broad sense of the word, returning to who you are, to who you really are.

Some of Reichs contemporaries, including Glass, Riley and La Monte Young, were immediately inspired by Buddhism, with its own narrations of rebirth. Is Jewish spirituality the key to his instrumental pieces, as abstract as they sometimes seem? Here i am, after all, repeating, cycling, returning, on every page. The provide answers to your question is: who knows. God knows, I dont. I wouldnt say, Oh no, what are you talking about? Youre talking about something real.

The cyclical is only interesting when its not a cycle but when its a spiral, he continues. If it runs around and around in a circle, youre genuinely a rat in a trap, and merely playing a loop-the-loop is a bear. But if you return above that phase, or in a different posture, you have returned as a different person, you have returned as a different composer, and you have returned to a different musical accomplishment.

I think it was Charles Olson, a poet you may have heard of, who said: People dont change. They only stand more revealed. And that seems about right for this reluctant New Yorker, finally attaining his route home again.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Haim: the soft-rock sisters on working hard to sound effortless

2 months, 6 days ago

They have had to endure condescension from men and learn to pee at their urinals but the graft is paying off for the Californian trio. We take it so seriously, they say

Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, the Californian sisters who form perhaps the most adored trio in music right now, make it easy to assume these three minds operate as one. While listening to questions, they are three symmetrical and genetically simpatico faces, attention trained patiently. While answering those questions, theyre a ragged, energising symphony of sentence-finishing, speaking in chorus, and lapsing into song. Theres a distinct, eerie charm to their melded consciousness.

As a band, that charm fires up songs that sound, as one friend put it, as though Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie had killed off all the dudes in Fleetwood Mac and were now cheerily making records about pretending to miss them. Haim (which is their surname, pronounced high-im and, aptly enough, Hebrew for life) write the kind of pop-rock that feels like an orange ice-lolly on the first hot day of the year. Crushing on them their hooks, their personalities, their literal and manifest sisterhood seems like the requisite way to experience them.

They also drum and shred and sing so well that 25-year-old Alana, the youngest, has developed a loathing for the word actually: as she explains, there have been just too many guys backstage whove told them, post-show, that they actually play their many instruments really well. I mean, even to this day, she says, voice thick with exasperation, people are, like: Who writes your songs?

We meet at the very un-rock star hour of 9am, a week before the release of their second album, Something to Tell You. Alana, in jeans and a loose-fitting, well-worn Los Angeles Raiders T-shirt, is like a kid before Christmas: Seven days, guys! Seven days. Seven days! Aggghh! The setting is an immaculate hotel suite in a fancy new hotel on Manhattans Lower East Side. Hastily, they explain that the room isnt theirs. If we were staying here, says Alana, taking the wide, elbows-to-knees repose wed call manspreading if she were a guy, there would be clothes And 31-year-old Este, their bassist, finishes the sentence: everywhere. It would be pure chaos.

Este Haims bass face, as spotted by a reader during our Glastonbury coverage.

Blond, six feet tall and with a face like a sardonic Botticelli, Este once earned her generations approbation for tweeting that she wanted to chisel Andrew Garfields dick with my labia. Her bass faces the uninhibited gurnings of a musician feeling it with all her heart and soul are immortalised in online slideshows. Shes a bawdy foil to 28-year-old frontwoman Danielle, whom she and Alana forever the little sister seem to protectively bookend. On stage, Danielle is hard-edged with a rock star lan redolent of Chrissie Hynde and PJ Harvey. Today, though, sheltering in an oversize oatmeal-coloured jumper, there is a faraway, slightly wonderstruck quality to her; softly-spoken and apologetic..

There can be a special kind of obnoxiousness to people who have had their every dream come true. Haim however, who have now opened for most of their favourite bands (Primal Scream, Vampire Weekend, Florence and the Machine), toured with Taylor Swift, been Grammy-nominated and earned love from Jay-Z, Katy Perry and hundreds of thousands of fans, are women for whom success seems to enhance their appeal. They are daughters who love their parents, and musicians who treat their immeasurable good fortune with a kind of dorky awe. Este, for example, still cant get her head around playing to enthusiastic crowds. Youre looking out like: Oh my God, you know the words to this song? Its so weird. I wrote these songs in my living room in the Valley with my mom making nachos for us! Do you know what I mean?

That living room she mentions has taken its place in pop lore. Its where they wrote 2013s Days Are Gone, a first album they spent almost six years finessing, and a record that debuted at No 1 in the UK album chart. Its also where they returned, after an epic touring schedule, to set about making their second. We just kind of chipped away every day, says Este, for two-and-a-half years. Danielle explains: Its not like every morning I just take a shower and Im like, Oh, I have this great idea for a song. We have to work at it. You have to show up every day. That bit-by-bit effort has yielded songs that sound as effortless and indelible as their first records, albeit more fussily produced this time round. They enlisted wunderkind Ariel Rechtshaid as well as former Vampire Weekend man Rostam Batmanglij and British indie-R&B writer-producer Dev Hynes to be in service to their sound.

Haim began as a family band under the guileless name of Rockinhaim, playing local gigs with their dad, Mordechai (Moti), a former professional footballer, and their mother, Donna, who met in New York. I feel like my parents lived a crazier, funner life than I did, says Alana. All they did was dance and play music. I was, like: This is the most beautiful love story Ive ever heard! You guys just met, and fell in love, and danced all the time? Este picks up the thread I wish I could get in a time machine and all three speak rapturously of the 70s New York of CBGB, Studio 54 and Maxs Kansas City. Back then youd actually have a dance partner to go clubbing with, says Este.

Forlorn but a little self-mocking, Danielle adds: Its hard to find a guy to dance with! I feel like I havent found my dance partner.

Theres a song right there, Este pronounces, with big-sisterly authority.

Record three, Alana suggests, I Havent Found My Dance Partner.

Casting Danielle a look, Este adds, in warning: Your dance card is gonna be pretty full, though, if you put that out there.

Click here to watch the video for Want You Back.

At Glastonbury this year they did just fine without partners; at various points, each sister abandoned her instrument to dance. Alana jumped off stage and bounced down to the crowd . Theyve danced in videos, too, first for If I Could Change Your Mind, whose choreography is a winning combination of kitschiness and sincerity. Their synchronised moves read like a living room homage to Destinys Child. Like them, Haim, who have been courted by high fashion, are not above a co-ordinated red-carpet look.

Their latest video is choreographed, too. For the pounding Want You Back they groove down a deserted Ventura Boulevard at dawn, the same San Fernando Valley street that Tom Petty crooned over in 1989s Free Fallin. Its not so easy to shut down an LA thoroughfare but, as Este says: The Valley gods were shining on us. They like to think there was someone in City Hall, who, as Alana puts it, went, Oh, the Haim girls? Yeah.

It wasnt always thus, of course. We know exactly how it feels to be booed, says Alana. We know exactly how it feels to get shit thrown at you. You have to go through that shit. Thats the thing: to me, that was fun as fuck that I get to tell those stories because we worked so hard for five years. It was so funny when we came up to the UK and it was like, Overnight sensation! Im like: Overnight sensation after five years! Theyve played venues, they say, where there were only mens toilets backstage: We had to figure out how to pee in a urinal, says Alana.

Were really good at it by the way, Este says dryly. I could literally show you, and she yanks a leg in the air. Honestly, were limber as fuck now.

A summer of touring lies ahead and, if we seem excited, says Danielle, with a direct, earnest look, its just because were truly just very excited to go back on tour. We dont take any of this very lightly. We spent the last two-and-a-half years working on these songs every day to make sure that were giving everyone the best thing that we can do. We take it so seriously. Their music yes, but themselves, thankfully, no.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How A Meme Became A Currency And Paid For The Jamaican Bobsleigh Team

2 months, 15 days ago

You all know bitcoin, presumably. That internet currency that was big a while back and now isnt as big but is still quite big thats really the only way to describe it. Its secure, untraceable and drugtraffickers100% love it.

Well theres another online currency thats been growing from strength to strength recently that you might not have heard about. Dogecoin

To tell you about this, were going to have to go into its history. And we mean right to the beginning.

So we all know Doge. The jovial, yet slightly confused, shiba inu that took the internet by storm a couple of years back But who is Doge?

In October 2010, someone posted a picture of a corgi onto reddit with the caption LMBO LOOK AT THIS F*****N DOGE. That was the conception on the word. From then, people all over the web were posting pictures of dogs and calling them DOGES.

Meanwhile, a Japanese school teacher had a blog where she shared pictures of her shiba inu, Kabosu, which, for the most part, everyone ignored.

Until July 2013, when Shiba Inus had taken over the doge scene and someone dug up that famous picture of Kabosu and used it for their meme. So Kabosu become the face of doge.

So thats enough history on a meme. Now to the currency.

In December that year, a member of a Bitcoin forum, named Dogecoin, introduced his new e-currency, based on the meme, as a satirical take on Bitcoin.

No one took it seriously, obviously. Its money based on a funny picture of a dog, afterall. That is until there was a crowdfunding opportunity that the whole community jumped on. The Jamaican bobsleigh team looked set to qualify for the 2014 Socchi Winter Olympics but they couldnt afford all of the other stuff.

They need $40,000 for equipment and travel. 27,000,000 dogecoins were raised over 2-3 days (over $30,000) so the team could go.

Its like Cool Runnings without the inspirational montages and witty tte–ttes.

They also raised $7000 in a few hours to send an Indian Shiva K.P. Keshavan to the same Olympics to compete in the luge as his country couldnt afford it anymore.

Doge coin used to be dependant on bitcoin as you used to needed to buy doge through converting it from bitcoin. Now you can use actual real money and everything!

Its now the fifth biggest online currency and its growth is absolutely huge.

From something that started 100% as a joke, it’s pretty cool that they’ve managed to make a difference like they have. I mean it makes me feel totally useless but whatever…

Read more:

Buddhism Fast Facts

2 months, 23 days ago

( CNN) Here’s a look at Buddhism, the major religion of many countries in Asia.

Beliefs/ Practices:
Siddhartha Gautama( Buddha) grew up in a wealthy family. He decided to follow a route of self-denial, but did not find truth until he sat down under a tree , now known as the Bo tree. There he was “enlightened” and obtained the knowledge he had been looking for.

According to legend, Buddha sat under the Bo tree for 49 days and was seduced by demons. He discovered four noble truths and the Eightfold Path to Nirvana, or ultimate bliss.

Other Facts: Timeline:

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