To celebrate the arrival of all the amazing artists playing Simple Things, we zipped from venue to venue being nosey and overly intrusive.
We asked them to upturn their bags and reveal a few essentials for life on the road for the sake of this pun-led gallery. Flick-knives, Camel blues, bobbles and foreign currency. Here’s what we found.
It’s been two or three songs since Anna Meredith first came onto stage with the blaring and eerie horns that typify her debut album Varmints. This is one of the Scottish composer’s first forays into pop music and, boy, it is breath taking.
Backstage, she greets us with a big hug, before dispersing into animated chatter. “I’ve had the noisiest tumble rumbles ever since primary school,” she pulls out an all-natural Nakd bar – and, because ‘hair bobble technology has reached great new heights’, a pack of 3 Invisi-bobbles. The last item is a ‘great-for-the-kids’ Captain Haddock keyring, and, presumably, the keys attached to it.
When Stevie Parker swung by the Simple Things press room last week, she brought with her the calm coolness that resonates so potently in her songs and lyrics. Her first item, a sketchbook, contains a series of wonderfully personal sketches of “weird, creepy things”. “I loved drawing as a kid,” she begins, “it was my childhood love”. For Parker, her love of all things creative – drawing, writing and music, all stem from “my desire to express myself”.
Her second ‘essential’ is a stash of badges with the words, ‘Different for Girls’, named after a Jo Jackson song from the 80s that Parker covers. “It’s become a tagline for what I’m trying to convey politically,” she explains. “I’m keen to go against the expectations of what girls feel they have to do in pop music. I’m just here trying to do what all the guys have been doing”.
Lastly, Parker carries an absolute must, Vocalzone throat lozenges, “I simply cannot survive without these”.
Throwing Shade’s Nabihah Iqbal is a woman of many talents. The former human rights lawyer and SOAS graduate has a fortnightly NTS show where she plays an immense catalogue of music from around the world. From traditional Jamaican sounds to early phonograph recordings from the Artic Circle, the London-based producer peppers each track with ethnomusiological commentaries and insightful views.
As for her ‘essentials’, Iqbal is no stranger to practicality. A personalised, yellow swiss army knife is her most prised possession, “I carry this everywhere,” she proclaims. Other items include her brand new backpack from Tokyo – obviously – and a Totoro phonecase, which makes for endless conversation starters. Queue Studio Ghibli chatter.
It has been about ten minutes of nervous waiting since Oscar Powell first came off stage at Bristol’s Firestation. My earlier attempts to speak were swiftly overshadowed by the arrival of Autechre’s Rob Brown, who has since jumped at the chance to congratulate the former Crack interviewee on the success of his set.
The bass was so loud, however, that it “literally threw my soundcard into the crowd,” Powell says, unimpressed. Not that anyone would notice. The Diagonal Records boss delivered a brutal set of trademark tracks, each song emulating the raw and splintered sound that Powell and his label have delivered over the last five years.
Backstage, the London-based artist is fumbling through a pack of cigarettes. “Well, these are definitely an essential,” he slams the pack onto the table. Other necessary items include a phone charger and a trademark cap. A man of simple pleasures.
Crissi Vassilakis, aka Madam X’s energy is contagious. You won’t ever catch the iconic Manchester DJ without oomph. Linked to the Kazien NTS show on the station’s Manchester network, her label of the same name has put out releases for Biome, Silas & Snare and a Walton EP slated for the first quarter of 2017. When we met backstage before her performance at Bristol’s SWX, it was only natural that we asked the upcoming DJ to share a few of her most essential items.
Like all the greats, Vassilakis sticks to the ‘bare essentials’. “You always need tampons,” she laughs, throwing a handful on my lap. Vassilakis also carries a memory stick, a Serato SL3, deodorant and of course, salt and pepper.
All photos by Juho Santasalo