Monday, 1 August 2016

My Favourite Beatles Songs

I am convinced that you could ask anyone on the street to sing a song by the Beatles and they would be able to. Whether you are a fan or not, most people can admit they are the most revolutionary band of all time. Not only did they go down in music history, but the history of the world. They accomplished more in 10 years than most musicians accomplish in a lifetime. There is no doubt they changed the world. As a huge fan, I am going to talk about my top 10 favourite songs by the fab four. I know that if I reread this post in 2 months I will have changed my mind. But for now, in no particular order..

1. Hey Jude (1968)

The most famous song by The Beatles, and thought by some as the most well known song in the world, Hey Jude had to be on this list. I have a very early memory of hearing this song as a child and that could be one reason I love the song so much. Written by Paul McCartney and released in 1968, this song was supposedly written about John Lennon's son, Julian, during his parents divorce. This song is still a firm favourite on the radio 48 years later; that's no mean feat. 

2. Come Together (1969)

Although lyrically this song has been criticised, musically I believe it was one of their best works. I would even go as far as to say that no other Beatles song sounds even faintly similar to it. In itself, its a very unique song. Written by Lennon, it was inspired by Timothy Leary's campaign as governor of California against Ronald Reagan, although that cannot explain the seemingly meaningless lyrics. 

3. Martha My Dear (1968)

There is no specific reason why I love this song so much other than I just think it's a great song. It's not very famous and musically is no more superior than many of their other songs, but there's just something about it that makes me happy. The song is apparently about Paul McCartney's sheepdog named Martha. I have even heard that Jane Asher, Paul's girlfriend at the time, thought the song was about her, and was reasonably miffed to find it wasn't. 

4. Michelle (1965)

As one of their melodic songs, this one is a firm favourite of mine. Despite the title, this song was not written about a girl in particular. In fact, this song was written purely because Paul was interested in french culture. The french parts of the songs were actually written by John's friend. Despite the lack of a sentimental meaning, this song still sounds beautiful. 

5. In My Life (1965)

Whenever I play the Beatles at home, my mother always requests this song. It is thought to have been inspired by a bus route John use to take during his childhood. In itself it is a very nostalgic song that can come across as quite melancholic. It was ranked 23rd in the ''500 Greatest Songs of All Time'' by Rolling Stone Magazine, and 5th on their list of the ''Greatest Beatles Songs''. Its loved by many, including me. 

6. And I Love Her (1964)

When I was first getting into the Beatles, this was with no doubt my favourite song. A somewhat typical love song, this was the 5th track on the album A Hard Day's Night. Written primarily by Paul McCartney, this song became even more famous when it was covered by Kurt Cobain which got to number 1 in the ''UK Vinyl Chart Sales''. 

7. All I've Got to Do (1963)

No doubt the earliest song on my list,  All I've Got to Do was first released on the album With the Beatles. It is thought by many as the first song in rock music where the bass plays chords as a vital part in the song. 

8. Something (1969)

This song is one of the more well known Beatles songs. Written by George Harrison, this song was much loved by both John and Paul, and thought by them to be the best song on Abbey Road and by far the best song George had ever written. The public loved it too, doing well in both the UK and the US. He had written it for his wife, Pattie Boyd. 

9. Penny Lane (1967)

There is no question in my mind that this is in my top 3 of this list. Penny Lane was written by Paul McCartney as a response to the song, ''Strawberry Fields Forever''. Inspired by a bus terminus in Liverpool both John and Paul knew, musically this is a very complex song. Because of this song, Penny Lane in Liverpool has become a very popular tourist attraction among fans and is actually a place I too would like to visit some day. 

10. Girl (1965)

As one of their more famous love songs, this song is written by John Lennon. There are many theories about why this song was written, and what it's about. It was the last song recorded on the album Rubber Soul album. It remains a favourite of mine purely because of the very relaxing melody.

Other favourites include: Eleanor Rigby, Taxman, Got to Get You Into My Life, When I'm Sixty Four, We Can Work it Out, While my Guitar Gently Weeps, Ob La Di Ob La Da, Blackbird

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Keaton Henson: Musician and Illustrator

After watching the extraordinarily well-made movie X+Y last year, I came across the musician Keaton Henson, whose music was the soundtrack for the movie. Until then, I had not heard of him. Turns out, not many people have. But his music fit the movie so perfectly that I decided to give some of his music a listen, and I was not disappointed. 

Keaton was born in London in 1988 and is the son of Nicky Henson, a well known actor, and Marguerite Porter, a ballet dancer. His original job was as an illustrator, and he has designed many album covers for various artists over the years. After deciding to write songs for his own enjoyment, he was encouraged to put the music online. In 2010, his debut album Dear was released. 

Despite the fact it's really hard to describe music without sounding like a wordy-egotist, his music is very poetic and melodic. As I am no music writer, that is all I can say, but my favourite songs by him are Small Hands, You and Sweetheart What have You done to Us. I recommend you to check out those songs and also their accompanying music videos as they are so fitting.

After hearing his music, I also came across some of his amazing illustrations. As someone who also uses pen and ink, I can appreciate the intricacy of his drawings and illustrations and there are so many I love. Below are some of my favourites:

Keaton's website:

My Experiences with Ageism

Having grown up in a successful family business, I was practically destined to be an entrepreneur. I am fortunate enough to say that both my parents and grandparents have always given me a slightly unusual perspective on money. It wasn't something I was given in a weekly allowance and it wasn't something I particularly needed to work a 9-5 to earn; money could come from anywhere if you thought outside the box. 

My first 'job' I had was, as expected, working in one of the family shops. I was seven years old when I sold my first pair of shoes at a total of around £60. I served the customer, fitted the shoes for them, used the till and used a credit card machine. These days, I would be very surprised to see a child that young working, but it goes to show you can never be too young to understand the concept of business.

A few years ago when I was thirteen years old, I decided I was going to set up an online business which sells wholesale clothing. Nothing new, nothing innovative, but very profitable. I attended a trade show to speak to companies to discuss what I wanted to buy. I came across one company who sold sunglasses. I told them quite clearly my intention and what I was willing to spend - but they completely ignored me. They preceded to talk to my father who explained that I was the client and I was the one who was spending money. After around half an hour of explaining, the company decided they were not going to sell me a single item.

Wholesale is a very simple concept. The client buys from the producer at a trade value and sells it on for profit. Its just like making a purchase in a shop. There is (at least, shouldn't be) any written contract or partnership; it should be just a very simple sale. There was no way me purchasing from this company could do any harm to them. They couldn't lose a single penny - it was completely risk free. There was no possible reason why they wouldn't serve me other than the fact I was thirteen years old.

Three years later, I have a small shop in which my mother and I sell stuff we have made. A completely different path to the wholesale idea I had a few years previous, but nevertheless a business. I have found that even at sixteen people simply do not believe that I am capable of doing anything other than scroll through instagram all day and shopping. Like I cannot think independently, come to my own conclusions and have my own opinions on politics and business. That I could possibly earn my own money through innovation and not through pocket money! 

Entrepreneurship is such an important asset in business (we can't all be bankers!). The ability so think, create, and run your own business is such a challenging but rewarding way of earning a living. If people were taught that they did not need to go to university to make a living, that creativity really can pay your bills and that you do not need be a certain age to run a business, I think that young people really could be a force to be reckoned with.  Until then, I will continue to prove those judgmental and assumptive people wrong. 

Friday, 29 July 2016

Waste (Part 1)

For the past few years I have been really passionate about good ethics in business, and the more I learn about it the more I try my hardest to be the most conscious consumer I possibly can. Although being eco can apply to nearly every area of your life and the number of issues is almost never ending, I am going to discuss 3 prominent issues in the world of materialistic consumerism. 

The 'Wonky Veg' Scandal

In November 2015, television chef and food writer Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall released a documentary on BBC 1 campaigning against food waste. Although this show did touch on other issues within the landfill and recycling industry, the main topic of the show was to expose the immoral and unprincipled deeds by UK supermarkets. The statistic that shaped the show was that a staggering 40% of all crops grown are thrown away because they do not meet the cosmetic criteria, such as size, shape and even colour that the supermarkets want to sell. During the show, they followed a turnip farming family who has to bin up to 20 tonnes of produce every single week because the supermarkets simply will not purchase it. You and I would assume that these vegetables would be used in soups, livestock feed, ect...right? Although that is true for a small portion of the produce, most of it ends up in landfill. Not only is this completely vile in itself, the fact that food that could feed thousands of people is being pumped back into the ground, thus taking up room for genuinely unrecyclable goods, it is completely unnecessary. 

The tragic truth is that not only is so much food being wasted, so is the hours of labour, land, water, time and money that went into it. This has forced many independent farms into bankruptcy because they simply cannot sustain this turnover, and I cannot imagine the damage it is doing in agricultural exporting countries in other continents around the world.  Since the show, some progress has been made. Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons are now selling 'wonky veg' ranges at a discounted rate, although this is only a minute victory. However, the truth of the matter is that these cosmetic rules need not only be relaxed, but completely abolished before any sort of moral justice is served. 

If you have a spare hour or two, please do watch Hugh's War on Waste:

The Premature Use-By Date

It is no surprise that food that is out of date is thrown away. Whether it is the supermarket or you in your own home that physically throws it away, food that has gone past that magical date stamped on the front is usually destined for the bin. Although that is somewhat understandable, although completely avoidable, what happens if it was not at all necessary?  
Although there is no hardcore proof anywhere which can explicitly expose the motive behind the false use by date, the waste caused by it is undeniable. Until recently, all unsold food was thrown out. Mouldy bread and rotting fruit of course is not fit for human consumption, but what about the 'one day old' pack of sandwiches or a banana that is only just starting to brown? All food is set a sell by date that can be anywhere from a 3 days to weeks in advance of the food turning bad, meaning that food that is completely safe is being binned. With the rising demand for foodbanks, surely we can do better?   

Thankfully, supermarkets have woken up and a select few do donate some unsold food to charity. However, it is not compulsory, and the UK government rejected the petition to make it law.

Quantity over Quality: The Devastating World of Fast Fashion

I have written numerous blog posts on various websites about fast fashion and the detrimental effects it has on pretty much everything. The mindset of ''buy-wear-bin-repeat' is one that is rewarding the rich, stealing from the poor, and poisoning the environment. The ability to walk into a shop, buy a dress for say, £10, and being able to throw it away months later and cause no significant monetary loss is simply disgusting.

A few years ago my complete view on fashion changed. At 8:45 am, the Savar Building, Bangladesh, collapsed. Although this meant very little to most westerners, this was one of the many factories used by cheap clothing retailers such as Primark, Matalan, Mango and Walmart. In a split second the building was in ruins and 1,129 lives were lost, including many children. The Bangladesh Fire Service had previously reported that the top 4 floors were built without a permit, and structurally could not hold the weight of such heavy machinery. A TV channel had also filmed the cracks that covered the building, and after a small evacuation, all workers were forced to re-enter or their months wages would be withheld. No western company heeded the concerns raised. This rings alarm bells in so many ways. Why had these big cooperation's done nothing about the safety concerns? Why were there children in a factory, despite the fact that all these companies swear blind they do not use child labour? And why, oh why, has none of this changed since then? One of the most tragic parts is that to this day, some of these companies have not paid the compensation owed the families of those who have lost loved ones.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the greedy world of fast fashion. It was found last year that 7 tonnes, approximately 10,000 garments of clothing is thrown away every 10 minutes. That means just over a 1000 tonnes of clothing is binned in 24 hours in the UK. But why? I don't know about you, but if I paid £100 for a shirt, and it lost a button, I wouldn't throw it away. If I paid £3 for a shirt and it lost a button, I'd be far more tempted to wave goodbye. Truth is, the cheaper the garment, the less the consumer cares about it, thus chucking it away the moment it needs fixing or is no longer trendy. The saddest part is, this will end up in landfill, and the fast fashion cycle will continue to make sure companies such as Primark and Arcadia group thrive. 

To find out more about the Rana Plaza Collapse, click here.       

I will be following up this blog post with a part 2 on more of the issues and scandals that are harming the environment, wasting resources, and even taking lives. For all those interested, check out Youtube for some brilliant ethic based documentaries on how you can be a conscious consumer.


Saturday, 9 January 2016

From Holly Golightly to Jordana Bevan: Top 5 Film Style Icons

Well thought out characters in films have to have a very distinct persona. Their vocabulary, their body language and their circumstances are all things that create the viewers perception of that character. The clothes that character wears can also suggest who they are or the era that movie is set in. As a fashion lover, I may notice clothes more than the ordinary person, however costume is a very important tool in the making of the movie. Today, I am going to talk about my personal Top 5 favourite film character style icons. In no particular order..

1. Yasmin Paige as 'Jordana Bevan' in "Submarine"
Yasmin Paige starring in Submarine

This was not a box office hit, however this movie did get an audience in Tumblr lovers, of course. Submarine is a 'coming-of-age' drama about a boys, Oliver Tate's, infactuation with Jordana. Yasmin Paige's character, Jordanna, has been plastered over photo sharing platforms online for her iconic bob and red coat, and I must admit I've reblogged it a few times too. 
2. Chloe Grace Moretz as 'Isabelle' in "Hugo"
Chloe Grace Moretz starring in Hugo

Hugo, a American/British/French steampunk drama, is jam packed with culture and history. Set in Paris, this movie was laden with well executed costumes. Isabelle, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, who starts opposite Asa Butterfield as Hugo, was a mysterious, intelligent and go-at-it girl with great wonder about the world around her. I've seen this movie a few times now, and have loved it each time. It is impeccably well made, and the set, special effects and costume is beyond convincing. There is little costume change within the movie, which in this case, is totally acceptable. The beret, tweed blazer and striped cashmere paired with a tartan kilt is a look that screamed French 1930's, and is still lovely to this day. I wish I could pull this off. 

3. Audrey Hepburn as 'Holly Goglightly' in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
Audrey Hepburn starring in Breakfast at Tiffany's

1961 American romantic comedy, Breakfast at Tiffany's, is one of the most famous movies of it's time. Directed by Blake Edwards, this movie is based on novel by Truman Capote. This movie is seen by many as a hollywood classic, and with the late Audrey Hepburn as the leading role is it any wonder? Hepburn plays witty, straight-talking and undeniably unsentimental Holly Golightly in this epic adaptation, and her love for expensive things has earned her way onto this list. She practically created the little black dress and that alone gives her the name 'Style Icon'. Enough said. 

4. Freddie Highmore as 'George Zinavoy' in "The Art of Getting By"

Freddie Highmore starring in The Art of Getting By

Barely making the big screen, this movie is by no means a hit, despite it being an excellent movie. George Zinavoy, played by Freddie Highmore, is a deep, pessimistic and self-professed loner who is convinced that life is primarily an illusion. The story of this movie is primarily about his relationship with schoolgirl Sally Howe, played by Emma Roberts. This movie is extremely well made, and Freddie's character is extremely loveable. Like Hugo, there is not all that much costume change, as George is rarely seen without his 'overcoat' to which he is attached. At one point in the movie, he is asked why he is always wearing it and is asked to take it off. Keep the overcoat George, we like it. 

5. Aaron Taylor Johnson as 'John Lennon' in "Nowhere Boy"

Aaron Taylor Johnson starring in Nowhere Boy

Being a true fan of 1960's rockband, The Beatles, I had to include this one. Nowhere Boy, a biopic following rock-legend John Lennon's teenage years, is another film that is set in a different era. Aaron Taylor Johnson plays (extremely well, might I add) the young John Lennon in the years following up to the formation of The Beatles. In all honesty, his style was no more incredible than anyone's back in the late 1950's, but in 2016, I can appreciate this way of dressing. Oh, how I'd love to go back. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Casey Neistat: Film-maker, storyteller and Youtube extraordinaire

  For the past two years or so, Youtube has been growing in popularity in both creators and viewers. The rise of Youtubers and the associated wealth that can be earned by this site has caused an influx in people jumping on the band wagon. Because of this, the site continues to grow but the creativity of film-making has decreased with the saturated market. I have watched videos on Youtube on a daily basis for many years now, and the sheer numbers that videos can get these days is astonishing. However, the love for thumbs up and subscribers of some Youtubers has lead to being concerned only by the possible bucks that could be made from a video as oppose to the quality of their video content.

Back in May/June 2015, I heard someone recommend a Youtuber called Casey Neistat. I headed on over, and watched a few of his videos. It was fair to say I was hooked. I watched all of his non-vlog films that night and it was no surprise he got one more subscriber that night. Never have I ever discovered a film-maker who made me want to find my camcorder again. After watching a few of his videos I was buzzing with ideas, and was inspired to work harder on my creative projects. Now in 2016, I have been an avid watcher since and have watched nearly all of his daily vlogs since I discovered him that day.

Casey was born in New London, Connecticut. He hasn't spoken much about his early childhood, other than dropping out of high school at the age of 15 and not returning. He left home and ended up living in a trailer park on welfare which is when he and his girlfriend had a baby at just 17. He often refers to this time as a motivation for the work he does today and to provide for his family. After being dumped, he moved to New York City in 2001 with the intention of becoming a film-maker. 

"As a guiding principle, life shrinks and life expands in direct proportion to your willingness to assume risk" - Casey Neistat

His first job in New York was a bike messenger, and it was in this time period where he lived in several apartments in New York. One so small he could not expand his futon bed, and the other with drug addicts and new prison releases. In mid 2001, he and his brother met contemporary artist Tom Sachs. Casey and his brother Van were hired to make a series of films about Tom's work. 

Despite his previous work with Tom Sachs, it wasn't until he released a video criticizing the battery life of the iPod where he started to get exposure. The film had over 3 million views within one month of releasing it on the internet in 2003, which was 3 years before Youtube was launched. The story received international attention from many broadcasting stations, and after two weeks of the film being published, Apple had extended the iPod's warranty and had announced a battery replacement policy. 

Two shots from iPod's Dirty Secret by The Neistat Brothers

Since then Casey has continued to make films on a variety of mediums, which can be anything from 2 minutes to over an hour long. He has also had a successful advertising career and has directed adverts for brands such as Nike, Google and Mercedes Benz. 

Casey has two Youtube channels. The first one, his main channel, he started in 2010 and it is on this channel you will find the videos he has made since 2010 and his daily vlogs. He also has his second channel, Casey Nesitat Classics, which has his earlier films which he made in between 2001 and 2010, including iPod's Dirty Secret.

A continual theme with many of his films is about, or is heavily focused on New York City. Casey has always expressed his love for the hustle and bustle that is NY, and has centered many of vlogs around it. He has a studio/workshop on Broadway which is where most of his movies are constructed and sometimes even filmed. 

Earlier this year, Casey Neistat and Matt Hackett released Beme, an app which enables you to share videos by holding your smartphone to your chest. It was a bigger success than Casey initially thought and it continues to grow in the social media platform. 

As I said earlier, the rise of Youtubers has resulted in a very saturated market. Challenge videos, spoofs, parodies and vlogs has left little room for real-life movies made by amateur and professional film-makers. Therefore, Casey began vlogging earlier in 2015 not only to further his work, but as a personal challenge to be productive. 

One thing I love about Casey is he never compromises the quality of his work. Whether it's an hour film or a 4 minute vlog, you can be guaranteed his heart went into both. This mindset and his work ethos is an inspiration to creative's all over the world that you do not have to compromise quality for quantity or sharing medium. 

"Our job as creators is to further define any medium." - Casey Neistat

Not only that, Casey's honesty in regards to authenticity and advertising is rare. All branded videos have been openly labelled and I believe his genuine character is why he is such a likeable. What you see is what you get could not be more true. 

If you do not know of Casey, then click here for his main channel on Youtube
Click here for Vlog 1