Saturday, October 6, 2012

Articles: Living Vegan and Viva La Vegan!

So I wrote an article on compassionate travel for the last Living Vegan magazine, outlining how to be a tourist without exploiting our furry friends. I don't have a scan just yet, but you can pick up the magazine here. I will have an op-ed in the forthcoming issue, too.

I have also begun writing on animal and environmental issues for Viva La Vegan! So far I have looked at super-trawlers and the fishing industry, why animal activists hate your pets (hint: they don't), and how animal cruelty went retro. Fun times are being had by all!

I haven't had as much time for freelancing as I would like, and have had to turn down a few great opportunities for personal reasons. With fingers crossed, I am getting back into the swing of things now, and have a few tricks up my sleeve, yet.

Update: Run, Rabbit Issue Two

Whoops! I have neglected to update on a number of fronts. Most importantly, the second issue of Run, Rabbit Magazine came out in July! I was so impressed with the quality of submissions and am so happy with how it turned out. The third issue, which was originally scheduled for December, is perhaps going to take the form of an annual, unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interview: Ben Ely for Rave Magazine

Lovely guy, great concept and style, lovely venue. This should be a quality exhibit, me thinks. 

Regurgitator’s Ben Ely tells Anna Angel making art gives his ears a break, but just might drive him bonkers.

Most of us start the day with coffee or a shower to perk us up before work. Musician and artist Ben Ely finds himself in the freezing art studio out the back of his Melbourne home before he’s even fully lucid. Ely, best known for his musical projects like Pangaea and Brisbane-born alt-rock mainstay Regurgitator, says that’s when he does his best work. It’s not hard to imagine his paintings as inspired by a dream state, given the bizarre touches he lends even to his bands’ cover art. For his latest exhibition at Fortitude Valley’s Lust for Life, Ely says he’s been painting a life-long obsession: games – both of the computer and board variety.

“The first time I ever saw a Space Invaders machine was in a caravan park in Yamba, and it blew me away that you could move the joystick and the little alien and spaceship would move,” he says.

While there's an identifiable sense of ‘80s nostalgia in the pick of video games inspiring Ely’s new collection (he likes the simplicity of their design and soundtracks) his taste in board games ranges from wacky 18th century creations to strategy classic Risk. That being said, Ely's inspiration to create his own playable art has spurred by more than just Pacman and dice.

 “I had a break up last year, and ‘Game Over!’ is kind of the idea of that as well, how people play games in love and life,” he says.

The only parallel Ely draws between his art and music is a bent toward nostalgia in both, but he says if his paintings were songs they’d be pretty catchy.

 “My art’s pretty low brow; it’s quick and immediate and that’s how I like it,” he says. “Kind of like a pop song you know; short and cheap.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interview: Cirque Du Soleil's Ovo for Rave Magazine

Roll up, roll up! Cirque are coming back to town. For Rave Magazine.

Ovo, the newest Cirque Du Soleil spectacular to fly into Brisbane, is a light-hearted love story swarming with energy. Artistic director Marjon Van Grunsven tells Anna Angel it’s a bug’s life for the cast and crew.

The sun rises, and an ecosystem of insects begins to stir. Into their midst enters a stranger carrying a large and mysterious egg. So begins this unique production from Montreal’s celebrated Cirque Du Soleil. Ovo might be the 25th production from these masters of contemporary circus, but Brazilian dancer and choreographer Deborah Colker is their first female creator and director. Her production, which opened in 2009, is one of only a few Cirque show to maintain an overarching narrative.
 “It’s very sweet and simple to follow for young children, but also for older people and middle-aged people, and it’s just so pleasant and happy,” Ovo’s artistic director Marjon Van Grunsven says.
The family-friendly story, which sees a ladybug fall in love with a fly, is secondary to the main inspiration for the piece: movement. From the pulsating rhythmic music, to the flexible, adjustable costumes, every aspect of the show celebrates the distinctive and fascinating motion of the insect world.
Ovo has all the breath taking acts you might expect, but each adopts a creepy-crawly persona that befits their style of movement. Foot jugglers become hard-working ants, a team of scarabs perform a Russian swing act, an aerial duo transform into graceful butterflies, crickets leap and bound off an eight-metre vertical wall, and a spider dangles dangerously from a slackwire web.
Under Van Grunsven’s guidance, the performers shed their human mannerisms entirely.
“The way [Deborah Colker] works is very much the way I work as well, which is to inspire each and every individual on that stage to dive into the role of their particular insect,” she says. “Let’s take a cricket; we wanted them to study the movement of the cricket by watching films and photos, and going out in nature and watching them for real.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Article: Anchored in Tradition for Vintage Affair

I wrote a piece on the resurgence of traditional American style tattooing in Australia for the second issue of Vintage Affair magazine last year, and it has now been released!

Step right up and see the incredible tattooed lady! Held captive and tattooed every day for a year, she lives to tell her amazing tale!

Nineteenth century crowds flocked to circus ‘freak shows’ to marvel at the tattooed performers, who often invented fantastical tales to accompany their head-to-toe ink. By the turn of the twentieth century, the ancient practice had already become – in Western cultures and especially across the USA – a rite of passage for servicemen, sailors, jailbirds and circus folk. The style and iconography developed by artists of the era formed the backbone of the emergent tattoo culture up until the 1970s.

Some blame Janis Joplin for inspiring a rebellious generation to go under the gun and seek out designs that spoke to them, not their grandfathers. Forty years on, Kat Von D and her merry crew of reality spin-offs are credited with inciting a new wave of tattoo aficionados. This time around, our society’s infatuation with bygone eras and simpler times has ensured the old guard of tattooing got its own back. 

Traditional American designs were a staple of the Australian tattoo culture when pioneer artists like Melbourne’s John ‘Johnny Dollar’ Entwistle opened up shop, before eventually giving way to Japanese, tribal and contemporary styles. Nowadays, traditional and neo-traditional designs are so highly sought after many artists consider it a fad.  The designs are characterised by thick lines, bold colours and the classic iconography that once graced the walls of tattoo parlours everywhere. While there is a large interest in vintage flash today, these images held a different significance for the original wearers. Sailors earned a bluebird on the chest after 5,000 miles at sea, with the ever-popular mirrored bluebirds reserved for those who had doubled that. A pin-up girl design could keep you company when deployed at war, a flag or memorial would remind you of home.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Snakeface - Oberon for Rave Magazine

(Arrest Records)

Ensemble cast star in thriller shot in the Blue Mountains

Snakeface is comprised of members from indie bands Jonathan Boulet and Parades, but that doesn’t mean their sound will necessarily please fans of the aforementioned. Oberon, their second album, is grounded in hardcore and punk, but there’s a mess of influences rearing their heads. It’s self-described as ‘weird and evil shit’, which makes me think I’m not supposed to find this half-hour affair as enjoyable as I do. Sorry. Oberon pits short, gritty, politically charged stretches against interludes of composure to foster an effective  (and rare) sense of balance. Lyrics like “occupy and rebel” and “stop pretending this doesn’t exist” are given a savage delivery that sidesteps the regular trap of affected rage for something with actual guts. Oberon was named for the Blue Mountains spot where it was recorded; I like to think of the superbly ineffable final track, Singularity, twanging across the mountaintops and waking far-flung neighbours from their naps.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Interview: Daniel Weetman for Rave Magazine

Ahh, The Black Seeds. So enjoyable - and such nice lads. Read online here.

DANIEL WEETMAN of THE BLACK SEEDS tells ANNA ANGEL that listening to their records doesn’t do them justice.

 New Zealand reggae mainstays The Black Seeds know where their strengths lie.

Even before dropping their fifth studio album Dust And Dirt in April, they’d packed up and shipped out on the mammoth world tour that will soon bring them to Brisbane. If over 140 shows in four months followed by a packed summer festival season seems like a lot, it is. But there’s little chance the boys will be burnt out by the time they touch down on our shores, according to vocalist and percussionist Daniel Weetman.

 “As long as you’re not overindulging too much in things that can make you a little more tired than usual,” Weetman says with a small laugh, “I think you can handle it.”

They could probably get away with a few benders, but the eight-piece know the value of their reputation for consistently high-energy and immersive sets.

“There’s a lot of people still in New Zealand that haven’t heard The Black Seeds, and even people that work for radio stations and media, but I can tell you that if these people came to a show they’d be more impressed by the band, because live, it’s something else,” Weetman says. “The album isn’t the full picture, and we know that. I don’t think we can just go out there and play the sounds; we’re a band that really wants to get people dancing.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why I'm still watching Glee, or Review: Glee Graduation Album for Rave Magazine

Published in the latest Rave. My love for Glee is now public for the first time since they totally and utterly jumped the shark. 

Goodbye McKinley High; Auto-Tune forever

When my entire grade willingly formed a ‘circle hug’ to Green Day’s Good Riddance for three inexplicable minutes at the end of our year 12 formal, we didn’t know the shame would bind us forever. If Glee had existed when we left school, their cloying cover would almost certainly have been our first choice. You don’t need Vitamin C’s Graduation at the drama class farewell party when you can sob as Chris Colfer performs vocal gymnastics to the tune of Madonna’s I’ll Remember. Don’t think of this as set of overproduced reprisals of some of the most sentimental ‘life change’ tracks of all time, even though that’s essentially what it is. See it as a wonderfully terrible gift. Give it to the next youth at the bus stop whose faraway eyes suggest they’re in want of a dream. Give it to yourself and laugh scornfully at populist culture until suddenly you’re crying because everything was easy when you were seventeen; for God’s sake get your life together. If you’re still following the shenanigans of Mr Schue and his merry band of fit-togethers – and yes I am, guilt free – you can catch these tracks as they’re tentatively linked into the plot line. A handful of the numbers will come to light in the season finale, but it only takes an amateur sleuth to pick up the musical cues. School’s Out, but It’s Not the End because these kids will be Forever Young. Bless their eager hearts. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Sigur Ros - Valtari for Rave Magazine

Read it online here, or in the latest issue. 

Somewhere between lapping up Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s triumphant solo efforts and replaying 2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust on desperate nights, I had begun to believe we’d heard the last from this Icelandic dream quartet. Yes, their sixth studio release was very nearly abandoned, but Valtari – which translates to ‘steamroller’ – is finally tangible. The bulk of the record stems from pre-recorded material; orphaned musical tangents and tracks that outgrew the projects that birthed them. Wherever they were once hiding, these eight tracks together form a striking and cohesive work. Valtari is certainly more minimal than we’ve heard Sigur Rós before. You could almost put it in the ‘ambient’ box, given the floating soundscapes and chilling stillness of Varðeldur and the title track, amongst others. Yet Valtari doesn’t feel lacking for its subtlety. Each layer is given due time to resonate, acting in harmony with Birgisson’s falsetto instead of pushing against it. There are the characteristic breakdowns and flashes of joyous frenzy, but they, too, feel more refined. Google-translating the titles and lyrics of any Sigur Rós track is risky, given their penchant for mixing their invented ‘Hopelandic’ with Icelandic. On the mercifully easy-to-translate finale Fjögur Piano (yep, ‘Four Piano’), the notes hang in the air by a single thread, before weaving into a fittingly haunting end. This steamroller doesn’t hit all at once. It moves gently, sweeping you up inch by inch before knocking the wind out of you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Article: 'Sailing for Trash' for Run Rabbit Magazine

The second issue of Run, Rabbit magazine is coming together a treat. Here's a post I wrote for the blog since I can't reveal any of the main event yet. I am thrilled by the talent of all the contributors on board for this one, and I can't wait to share it with the world.

I come from a thrifty family. Our motto was always ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ – it may as well have been inscribed on our family crest. Growing up, Saturday morning meant trawling the Weekend Shopper for garage sale listings within an hour’s distance from our house. We’d each take a few dollars and high hopes of what we might uncover in a stranger’s carport.
When I was eight or nine, I found toys others had outgrown for only fifty cents. They were always cherished more because I felt I’d rescued them from a mess of unwanted junk. Later, as a self-conscious teen, I’d be scared to get out of the car in case I saw someone I knew from school. I was quickly lured out with the promise of cheap vintage finds my mother’s hawk eye often spotted. Some weekends were more lucrative than others, but it didn’t matter if we came home empty handed. It was the nature of the hunt.

Now, some five years since I last garage sailed with my family, the seas seem to have dried up. Driving through the Brisbane suburbs neighbouring my own, there’s a distinct lack of tatty cardboard signs advertising ‘MEGA BARGAINS’ and sausage sizzles. Is it because we can now list any unwanted bits and bobs on Gumtree or eBay without much hassle? Are we less inclined to invite strangers into our personal space – even if it’s just the front lawn or garage?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Wes Willenbring 'Weapons Reference Manual' for Rave Magazine

View online here.

Thankfully, San Franciscan ambient musician Wes Willenbring doesn’t produce the kind of limply ethereal sounds you once meditated to that time you were trying to be more spiritual. On this, his third release, Willenbring wrests his raw guitar work together with distorting effects and chilling piano to create a record that’s more 'layered aural dreamscape' than 'soundtrack to Ikea catalogue'. Tracks like People Disappear Everyday wax and wane, with deeply immersive silences and striking instrumental work that jolts you back to consciousness. Short, achingly melancholic numbers pepper the highlight tracks. Most are just long enough to lose yourself in but Quaaludes presents fifteen minutes of humming guitar, melting uneasily into a hypnotic composition of warped effects. These soundscapes are tightly constructed but fluid enough that Weapons Reference Manual feels like a choose-your-own-adventure record; there’s undeniable emotion behind the dramatic scores and haunting static interludes, but what it evokes is up to you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: The Mars Volta 'Noctourniquet' for Rave Magazine

This just in. That is, in Rave Magazine issue 1033.

Navigating The Mars Volta’s variety of prog-rock has never been simple; their breadcrumb trail of soundscapes and cryptic lyrics inevitably strays off course. The question is whether to go along for the ride on this, their sixth studio release.

Noctourniquet is a blazing riposte from a band often accused of self-indulgence, and of having reached their peak. These 13 tracks present some of the most accessible in the band’s catalogue, yet their many layers and melodic tangents may be still too dizzying for many of their critics. Coming in at just over an hour, this is a tighter and less frantic mind trip than long-time listeners will be used to.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s sprawling banshee vocals command both structured rock numbers like Aegis, and dreamier moments such as Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound. Never one to be outshone, guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez owns the rhythmic waves of lead single, The Malkin Jewel and the fire-slinging Molochwalker. Ambient nods to ‘70s prog-rock (In Absentia) and synth-heavy numbers (Whip Hand) melt into softly quivering lullabies (Trinkets Pale of Moon). Overall, you get the sense this record is their unique interpretation of the expression ‘less is more’.

Standing slightly askew beside neatly packaged, made-for-iTunes anthems, TMV have made another puzzle worth taking the time to piece together. If Rodriguez Lopez et al. lost you years ago, this record may not be different enough to win you back. For the unacquainted, ambivalent and fans alike, Noctourniquet begs to be heard – hallucinogens not necessary.

Four stars. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Feature: 'Ethical Ink' for Living Vegan

I've got a featuring outline how to get a tattoo done sans animal products in the latest issue of Living Vegan Magazine. I was also charged with the task of testing and comparing chocolate biscuits. It was very onerous, as  I'm sure you can imagine.

I haven't got my hands on a copy yet, but I'll put some scans up soon.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interview: Ashleigh Auckland for Mood of Monk

Recently I chatted to Brisbane songstress Ashleigh Auckland for Mood of Monk. Read online here or below.

The Wanderlust of Ashleigh Auckland

Wanderlust tugs at the restless mind, dragging us into the unknown. I feel the pull, too, so I relate when Brisbane songstress Ashleigh Auckland tells me she’s constantly on the move. Instead of the postcards and Facebook albums titled ‘Adventures’ most of us send back, Auckland internalises the world around her and weaves it into unaffected indie-pop.

The soon-to-be released Vagabond evolved with and apart from its creator, taking on a life and direction of its own, as creative works are sometimes want to do. Auckland says Vagabond isn’t the record she originally set out to produce, but in its fluid state, it became exactly what she wanted to release for her debut. The record is still raw and acoustic in nature, but it has taken on an unexpectedly darker tone. The title track is one hauntingly emotive example.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Feature: ''It's not the end of the world' for The Isthmus

Here's an apocalypse-themed fun piece I wrote for The Isthmus. What role do you play in end-times?
You can read it online here.

It's not the end of the world
By Anna Angel

I’m a big a Robert Frost fan as they come (at least, in any country where his poetry isn’t included in the national curriculum). I have his words tattooed on me, and I think he would have been a damn clever sort. But even I can admit his take on the apocalypse may have been a bit narrow.
Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost – ‘Fire and Ice’
Sure, there’s those who point the finger at fire, and ice hasn’t gotten off scot-free. But what about alien invasion, nuclear annihilation, the Rapture, Mayan prediction or freak cosmic accident? Luckily for the pessimistic and end-day curious amongst us, pop culture has picked up where Frost left off. In fact, we’ve become a little obsessed.

Feature: 'The Golden Era (terms and conditions apply)' for The Isthmus

Here's another piece I wrote in August for The Isthmus, discussing our cultural obsession with 'retro' in light of our actual past. I really enjoyed exploring the issues surrounding this one. 

You can read it online here.

The Golden Era (terms and conditions apply)

By Anna Angel
“You were definitely born in the wrong decade,” a friend says as if it is fact. Sure, I wear vintage clothing, collect retro oddities and have been seen at gigs doing the twist. But I couldn’t agree with rockabilly queen Imelda May when she told British press “the ‘50s were better in every way”. I’m grateful not to have grown up in Australia in the first half of the 20th century. Why? My childhood epilepsy – then widely misunderstood – would probably have landed me in a psychiatric institution, such as this one, for a lack of better treatment options, as might my struggles with anxiety and depression. While that’s an uncomfortable thought, prospects would have been positively bleak if I had of been Aboriginalgay or a non-European migrant. As morbidly hilarious as 1950s anti-gay propaganda and relics of the societal oppression of women may seem now, these were hardly ‘simpler’ times for many members of society. I set out to discover why we idealise elements of the past such as music, fashion and dinner table decorum and glaze over the glaring injustices.

Feature: 'Fear and Carbon in Canberra' for The Isthmus

In my final semester of uni I worked on a collection of articles for a new intelligent pop culture journal called The Isthmus, a project headed by Stephen Harrington. I also acted as online editor, subbing and workshopping all articles before publication. It was a fantastic experience and the team was made up almost exclusively of fun, creative pop culture enthusiasts. 

I've held off posting them until now because there's been a few kinks with the site meaning it never properly launched. I'm like a kid holding up finger painting: 'look, mummy, look what I did!' I just can't wait. 

So, here's a research/opinion piece I wrote in late July on the heated carbon tax debate - before it was passed. You can read it online here

Fear and Loathing in Canberra: a savage journey into the heart of Australian politics

By Anna Angel

There is nothing to fear but fear itself, except the pricing of carbon, that is. The debate over the proposed carbon tax has divided the nation like nothing since the introduction of the GST. Tony Abbott advised his party members to keep the argument ‘civil’ only moments before they called on a national rally in Canberra to “maintain the rage”. “We don’t want our country reduced to two warring camps,” he said.  Sorry, Tony, but it might be a little late for that. Rhetoric and commentary from both sides of the war on carbon have been nothing less than hysterical since the pricing scheme was introduced in July.  In this all-out screaming match, fear mongering is the favoured tack.  We are presented with an apparently impossible choice: implement the tax and our families will go hungry,

fail to do so and eventually, our families will go hungry. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, heavy spin from politicians and media alike aims to ensure you’re not left sitting on it.

Run, Rabbit Issue 1

This is what we made.
There's been a really positive response so far, and I'm so impressed with the contributions that came my way. What could be better than working with creative, inspiring people on an exciting and rewarding project?
Read all about it at
If you think you, or someone you know, might be interested in contributing to the next issue, here's what we're looking for: