Friday, July 29, 2011

Nicolas Jaar @ fabric

I have become far too accustomed to music with around 126 beats every minute.  And I have never gone into London on a midweek night and then had to go to work the next day (granted I took a half-day so only working 1pm-5pm).

So this was kind of unchartered territory but I like to get out of my musical comfort zones into something more challenging from time to time, and Nicolas Jaar really did catch my ear a year or more ago, with his track, Time For Us, buckets of emotion and more twists - far away from my usual preferences of Cocoon (who I am obsessed with, and I love it that way), Crosstown Rebels, Visionquest...and many many other labels that I don't have at the top of my head...but house/minimal/techno know what I mean.

I went with my good friend, Matt Powell, who is actually quite an accomplished DJ though will never shout about it and will probably take a baseball bat to my head for promoting him, but hey, I like to share what I believe is good music, good DJs, etc with anyone who is willing to listen.  And plays vinyl.  Crazy stuff.

According to another blogger, the advertised warm-up DJ of Gadi Mizrahi was not in attendance, I cannot confirm this as I did not pay attention to the DJ booth (fabric kind of takes my attention away from the DJ booth, I just cannot be bothered to look at the DJ even if it is Sven), and it was apparently Soul Clap to warm-up, and close.

I like their music, I love listening to it at home, and on journeys.  I don't think I quite got into it as much as I thought I would, though I appreciate the pushing of boundaries by playing Madonna.  Indeed.  That isn't to take it away from them, they did their jobs very well, as they were not the main act.  I would very much like to see them in control of room 3 perhaps, or maybe even in room 1 on a Saturday though I know that is pushing it - but it doesn't have to be fabric, just somewhere with a good intimate feel to it.

Anyway, it was Nicolas Jaar's night.

Though, before him was Valentin Stip.  I had never heard of him, or his music, and I soon found myself not wanting to be on the dancefloor, the emotion was too sad, too meloncholic for my liking - I go to nightclubs for fun.  If I want to be miserable, I can go to a Wetherspoons and pick up some 50-year old whore for the night.  It might have been good.  I don't know, I don't think I am in a place to judge.  I just really did not feel it, or maybe want to feel it - perhaps I should have given him longer, but there was such a good friendly crowd at fabric, that I was more interested in talking to people and meeting people.  How unusual.

Nicolas Jaar was good.  He didn't blow me away.  But I only like a few of his productions, love a couple and the rest don't tickle me.  I would see him again, though preferably at a concert venue, or maybe on a festival stage?  And I can definitely recommend seeing him, or listening to his music.  Especially the track I linked to in the second paragraph.

It was a very enjoyable night, I am very glad I went, and would do it again.

I didn't get quite as much out of it musically as I had hoped for, but I conclude that I simply prefer music from Sven, Ricardo, Seth et al.  Which is no slight whatsoever on the artists and DJs of the night, just my preference.  But I will be seeing more of them.  Maybe I will be converted?  It took years to convert any of my friends to Cocoon!!

* I am going to write about what I am going to do in the next few weeks so if you are only interested in what I thought of my night out, you can stop reading now, though me being me I may drift into it as I do tend to waffle on and get quite off topic at times.

19th August, Innervisions present An Evening At The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari at The Roundhouse.  I have wanted to go to The Roundhouse for a few years now, I have been intrigued.  And I have a lot of time for Henrik Schwarz, Ame and Dixon.  I don't really know what to expect at all.

I am also going to do the Saturday of SW4.  Sven is playing.  Why would I say no?  And I have never seen Underworld live.  I don't care who else I see, I shall just enjoy whatever I find.  Well...except the trance tent.  I might go see Tiga, actually.  Not my cup of tea nowadays but I used to love what he did in the mid-2000's prior to electro-house and I do like a musical challenge.

And I am quite glad that there are events in Reading that I actually want to go to.  Yes, I know there are many places to have a good fun night, and Reading is a good night out, but I am a music man and I am passionate about my music so want to hear good underground music.

The outside:inside festival in the centre of Reading is a pop-up festival, so it says.  I am intrigued, although initially put-off by the price of £15, however, I have good friends playing later on tomorrow (Saturday 30th) as Elsewhere, so I am feeling obliged to use some more of the overdraft I have paid off today.  I am not sure about the rest of the music, but I will have good friends around.  And it should be good.

And last but not least (except for your wallet as it is free!), is the Elsewhere party run by 3 very good friends in Reading.  At the laidback Afro Bar, with good house music all day long and a very friendly folk inside (I should know as about 95% of them are Facebook friends...oh and real friends/pretty people that I just like to stare at) - it is just a really good day.  This is Saturday 13th August.  Well worth a visit, even if only for an hour - but try staying for only an hour!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No Cocaine Here

There is something about this picture - I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at it, especially unusual given that it is not porn.  I just like the colours.

James Winfield's Fantasy Football Team

This is my fantasy football team.  There is a league at work, granted only two of the two thousand employees in the office.

If anyone fancies doing a non-work fantasy football league, let me know.

It is free to play!  Can you do any better?

J Hart
N Vidic
M Turner
G Cahill
C Samba
J Wilshere
S Nasri
L Suarez
D Sturridge

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UK 2011 Q2 GDP Growth of 0.2% - And The Future Of The UK economy

I note that GDP growth for the second quarter of 2011 is only 0.2%.

Nobody should be worried about this.  As the below historic graph shows, quarterly GDP growth has always been very volatile.  Just look at the quarters of very low or no growth after the recession in the early 1980's for an example.

There are many dangers out there to the UK economy in the short-term, mostly external such as potential oil price shocks, a US debt default, further problems in the Euro-zone and most likely a default by at least one of the very heavily indebted countries in the Euro.  Internally, not reducing and eliminating our structural deficit is the main one, and also not encouraging private-sector growth.

I am not going to get worried about a few quarters of GDP growth below expectations.  We have just emerged from the worst recession in decades, which should really have been worse but instead we "saved the banks" (or rewarded reckless behaviour depending on your point of view), "protected home-owners" (or rewarded reckless borrowing depending on your point of view) and "injected huge amounts of money into the system through quantitative easing" (or created inflation to reduce the debt, and yet again punish those who are innocent in creating the recession, depending on your point of view).

It is going to take many years, and perhaps a decade or two, to restore the country to long-term growth.  The boom-years of 2000 onwards were funding through borrowing - very little productive gains were made in the economy.

I thoroughly believe that by paying debt back, we will be in a stronger position.  Imaging that right now, you added the monetary value of everything up that you owned.  But you owe about 70% of that value in loans.  And this is increasing by about 10% a year.  At some point this becomes unsustainable, those who have lent you money will stop lending and demand it back, or higher interest rates.  When this happens, the debt repayments become unfeasible.  The Greece debt is 160% of it's value.  The UK's debt is heading that way.  Therefore the UK government is doing the right thing in trying to get to a position by 2015 where we are not adding any more to our debt.

Good economic times are over, and we have to get used to that.  But not forever.  In the 1970's, the UK was known as the sick-man of Europe, in regards to the economy.  A couple of decades later, we had the 5th largest economy in the world.

For those that want to know a bit more about why I am so confident about our mid-term to long-term economic future (unless we let the fucking socialists back in again), there is an excellent 3-part documentary on the BBC iplayer called 'Made In Britain'.  It explains the history of the economy, the present, and the likely future, including why the UK has many special factors which can make us stand out as a place to invest in, and why the future of the UK economy is bright.

Not only that, it is a good guide as to what those who want a good employment future should think about doing in the future, it should be an inspiration.  Perhaps the most important lesson for anyone to take out of it, is 'don't stand still'.

I fully recommend 3 hours of your life to watch this, if you are vaguely interested.  You might even be inspired to a greater future.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So What Have I Been Doing/Going To Do?

You may have noticed a lack of blogging recently - I tend to have these phases of 2-3 weeks where I reduce my productivity, and this was one of those - firstly I had a crazy party weekend, then a week of chilling, then last week going back to work I found quite difficult due to how relaxed I was and just didn't really get around to blogging at my usual pace - or anything for that matter.  Not even partying.

Anyway, I am back with a vengeance now.

So what have I been doing?

The chances are that if you are reading this, you have a pretty good idea that I went to Cocoon In The Park, the weekend of 9th July so shall not repeat this.  Added to going out until 5am on Thursday night, all day drinking on Friday and then going straight to Cocoon In The Park, and only 3 hours sleep between that an all-day Sunday session - the beginning of last week was quite the write-off.

But this was ok as I took last week as holiday.

Sadly I way over-spent (approx £400-£500 that weekend - wtf???!) so last week became very much about relaxing and spending as little money as possible, which I did rather sucessfully.

Though I still managed to go out every day and do something, and didn't quite manage the target of 3 days without an alcoholic drink - achieving a whole zero days without a drink.  Well - I was on holiday :-)

Also had my sister down on the Saturday which was lovely, went to the free outside:inside thing at the Forbury Gardens.  And I spent plenty of time in the sunshine, topped up my pre-Ibiza tan.  On my arms anyway.

Last week I didn't do too much, mainly just getting back into the swing of work, but the weekend just gone I had plenty of fun with a visit from my very good friend, Julie, whom I met at university back in 1998 and became very good friends with.  Also drinks with various trouble-makers like Rick, JP, etc on Saturday but I had to decline the opportunity of paying £15 to the outside:inside festival - I did want to go support Matt, Dan and Terry but £15 is quite a fair amount of money and most of the other acts were bands which just isn't my thing.  And my financial situation does need a little improvement - so it was not justifyable.  £5 yes, £8 perhaps, - £15 up yours!  I can get into fabric for £10!  Or Cocoon Ibiza for...erm...€50 (plus flights, hotel and €20 drinks...ok maybe this logic doesn't add up).

I will however make up for it and be there for roughly the whole 8 hours for their next event at the Afrobar in Reading on 13th August (Saturday).  It is a supremely enjoyable day event from 4pm until midnight, with excellent house music, very nice crowd and free to get in.  Thoroughly recommend it.

Sunday I cleaned the flat and caught up with washing and ironing as I have loads planned this week, and Monday night I slept for 13 hours - also because I have loads to do this week.

So, this week:

Tuesday; meeting another university friend (the second out of two that I managed to keep in touch with, not that I am too fussed, they are the two really really good ones).
Wednesday; hopefully playing badminton with JP (if anyone else ever fancies a game let me know - I am trying to get less unfit but I refuse ever to do anything dull as shit like the gym/running...sorry if you like it, I appreciate many people find minimal as dull as shit, so each to their own).
Thursday; Nicolas Jaar, Soul Clap and Gadi Mizrahi at fabric.  So looking forward to this - three of the most exciting relatively new artists/DJs to come out of America for a long time, bar Seth, for me.  fabric better get their air conditioning sorted out as apparently it was like an oven there this weekend.
Friday; Sorry but I do not remember.  I am sure I have booked something but I cannot figure out what.
Saturday; Maybe fabric.  Ricardo is playing but I only saw him a couple of weeks back so I am not overly desperate to go.  But if anyone else I know wants to go then I am there like a shot!

Busy week :-)

Oh, did I mention I have booked flights to Ibiza?!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

European Solidarity

Many issues in Europe at the moment, such as the tragedy in Norway, seem to come down to some individuals not being accepting towards people who are not of the same race, culture, sexuality, etc as them.

From my reasonable but certainly far from exceptional understanding of European history, events over the previous decade in Europe, in various countries, such as those back in Holland around 2004 which I cannot remember off the top of my head (please can someone remind me so I can reference it) going back to and the rise of such far-right parties and beliefs like we have in England, with the EDL, have so many similarities with the build-up to World War 1 and World War 2.

Two things need to happen.

Firstly, there needs to be a complete and thorough talk about what the European Union should be for.  Every member of the European Union should be consulted.  We like each other, we are similar to each other, but if we are not careful we will end up at war with each other (check your history if you don't believe me).

Secondly, there needs to be less unnecessary hatred of people for such ridiculous things as the colour of their skin, their sexuality, their religion, their music tastes, etc etc.

If someone is evil, then fair enough, hate them, but don't hate everyone else in the culture that they represent.

Anyway, that is me over, I do not want to end up fighting in some stupid war.  I want to be partying, just like our predecessors did in the 1930's...before the war.  Sort it out human beings.

RIP Amy Whinehouse

It is indeed a very sad story.

I have no interest in her music, I am led to believe it is very good but it doesn't tickle my tastes.

However, there is a greater story here of a human being.

And I do hope that anyone who has appreciated her music, appreciates that you have to look after those around you - and they will in return.

It is very easy to turn to substances to help you perform, they might be a hell of a lot of fun in the right place and time, but they are not necessary and can be rather destructive if misused.

I might sound like a hypocrite writing this after several pints but those who know me will know otherwise.

Anyway, my point is, don't be afraid to ask for help if you have a problem, we are all human, and don't be afraid to ask anyone that you think might need a hug, for a hug.  And spare some time for one another.

All can be good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Most Important Website Of The Day (And The Next 4 Days?)

No, not my blog, before you think I have really gone way over the top with the whole ego thing (yes I do control the weather before you ask but that isn't enough to have the most important website in the world).



England vs India.

If we win the series by two clear tests, then England will become the best test cricket team in the world.

India are currently ranked the best.

I cannot see it happening.  It is a huge challenge.  India are fantastic at cricket but England are as good now as I have ever known them to be in my lifetime.

Sadly I do not want to subscribe to Sky Sports to help pay Jimmy Bullard's wages so he can go to London nightclubs at then get a taxi to the training ground (in Hull, before you ask), disrespectful little shit, assuming rumours are true (suspended for two weeks from Hull City), so hence this website will be very useful.

If you don't like cricket then - I do not understand why this would be the case, it does not make sense.

I wish I could spare more time for watching cricket - alas I have other priorities.

Anyway, I am busy, which is why it took until 230pm to write this post quickly, lots of work to do.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Video Diary of Cocoon In The Park by...people on Youtube

These are the best videos kindly uploaded by other Cocoon In The Park folks to Youtube.

It is a pretty reasonable description of my best day of 2011 which has put me on such a high all week.

I hope you enjoy.

I will also compile a list of the tunes played at some point.

The ones with stars are my particular favourite moments if you only have time for a few.

Oh if you want to watch them all continuously, they are on my Youtube channel - this link should work - let me know if it doesn't as this is the first time I have tried this out.

Seth Troxler
A bit more Seth

***Reboot - Caminando. An amazing moment, skip to 1 minute in if you are in a rush
This is the same Reboot moment but another angle I still get tingles down my spine that the whole crowd did this!

*Ricardo playing MDMA not the best sound quality
Ricardo playing ? and a good video of the dancers
**Ricardo playing Planet Rock
**Ricardo feels love :-)
*Ricardo playing Cassius - Sounds Of Violence (Franco Cinelli remix) ...and the whole crowd were singing...not sure if keeping this
Sven's Housier Start
Sven playing Caribou - Sun yes I know it is upside down.
Sven playing Benoit & Sergio, and a great view
**Sven - Hungry For The Power
Sven's intentions
Destructive Sven
***Sven Talking (including how to pronounce his name!)
***Sven's One More Tune

And the after party in Leeds (I wasn't at this party).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holiday Plans

In case you haven't worked it out already, I am on holiday this week.

I intend to use my time wisely.  I've had my 4 days of partying (and I so want to go back to Cocoon In The Park right now...getting a bit emotional, sob!) and now I have a to-do list:

1. Recover from the weekend!  Half achieved.
2. Replace my kitchen light - requires walking to Homebase though, grrr.
3. Start looking for somewhere new to live.  And ideally someone to share with.  I'm in no rush but I just want to free up some of the large amount of cash I spend on rent and bills to do more partying.
4. Download the 500 tunes on my to-download list, listen to them, and the other 400 I still need to listen to.  Perhaps a bit ambitious this one to do in full.
5. Try and resolve my last remaining issues with Traktor and practise how to mix using it, and if I get vaguely acceptable then maybe do a mix that has been in my mind.  Yes, my first ever mix.
6. Sunbathe.  This might have to wait until Thursday.
7. Two weather forecasts.
8. Clean my flat.  Sober.  Joy.
9. Maybe do some art but only if I get time.  I haven't actually done any since New Year.  I still have some Absinthe.
10. Defrost freezer so I will be able to fit both some yorkshire puddings and curly fries in it.
11. Clear out some of the junk that I keep collecting.
12. Do Thursday evening's washing up.  Or was that Wednesday's?  Any potential flat-mates reading, I am not like that when I share!
13. Someone I know wanted some CDs of my favourite DJ so I shall sit down and sort that out.
14. Maybe a game of badminton.  Was supposed to go on Monday but I was, quite predictably, dying.
15. Read the DJ Mag's and Mixmag's from 2010 that I still haven't read.  Oops.
16. Have a pie from Sweeney Todd's.  Probably the easiest item on my list.
17. Get a copy of The Weather Man on DVD as JP keeps going on at me to watch it!
18. Play Cityville.  Slight obsession.
19. Write to the owners of the best nightclubs in the UK (if I can find their e-mail addresses) and suggest that they open a franchise in Reading.  Our underground scene needs it.
20. Thank the producers of my favourite wine, JP Chenet, for the free gifts.  There is a story behind it and there will be a blog post.

I will report on my achievements.  75% success rate will be good.

Oh, did I mention that I have booked Ibiza flights for 10th September?  Yippee!

And did I mention that I really want to be back at Cocoon In The Park right now?  I'm a bit delicate, look after me if you see me, ta, and enjoy your week x

Monday, July 11, 2011

Goodbye News Of The World (And A Word About Jimmy Bullard)

I see that the news of the world has had it's final edition printed.

Oh well, I don't really care.

Onto a much finer publication, the revered Amber Nectar - for the 99.9% of my blog readers who are not Hull City fans (yet) this is an excellent website covers the (Inland Revenue unpaid tax bill court) trials, traumas and the one trophy, of life following Hull City.  It regularly makes me chuckle and puts a smile on my face, with a quite typical Hull sense of humour (I find it hilarious anyway).

It seems a local non-league club, North Ferriby, which Tigers fans have quite an affinity for, not only for selling us my ultimate non-DJing hero, Dean Windass, are having financial difficulties.  Summed up quite nicely with an excellent suggestion as to how Hull City can help.

"The news of financial trouble at North Ferriby makes for some sad reading. They’re a wonderful little club and the annual trip to Church Road is one of the best away games of any year. City’s recent ‘success’ may have been to Ferriby’s detriment, as those Tiger Nationals who’d go to Ferriby when the Tigers were away had the option of watching the City game on an internet feed or on Albanian TV in a pub instead. Ferriby are charging £9 for a home game this coming season, a move designed to reduce the shortfall but one that may backfire and deter floating fans. City should fine Jimmy Bullard a weeks wages for having crap hair and channel it to Ferriby."

Yes, some dickhead not only paid £5million for Jimmy Bullard but also gave him a 5-year contract reportedly worth £45,000.00 a week.  I don't think anyone in Hull earns that in a year.  That is enough to buy a house every week in Hull and still have enough money left over to go to Cocoon In The Park (an annual techno festival in Leeds for the 0.01% of my readers who are Hull City fans and still think that bloody awful 'News Of The World' song is a musical masterpiece) to ensure the 10,000 or so punters have an equally messy and enjoyable time as he is rumoured to have had on occasions.  Seemingly the same regularity of the amount of times I have a messy night...4 in a row this weekend, oops, no wonder my body is falling apart today.  But I don't have to play football.  I can get away with it as long as I do the work expected of me and don't fall asleep at my desk.

I digress.  When was the last post I didn't do that?

Despite how badly let down I feel by Jimmy Bullard, his dodgy knees and a seeming lack of motivation whenever I have seen him play and from match reports, and I suspect that the club hierarchy are not innocent angels with regards to the situation, I still believe that he is one of the best players in the Championship when fit and interested.  Clearly Ipswich fans agree as they voted him their player of the season despite just playing 16 games for them on loan.

I don't expect 46 games from him.  20 will suffice.  I don't expect him to go flying into challenges - he is better at doing the creative side of the midfield.

Hull City management and Jimmy Bullard should go to Ibiza (allegedly he was spotted in Pacha the other weekend - good for him), do a couple of pills, hug and tell each other how much they love each other.

I am more than happy to go out with them and play the role of mediator if they pay for my flights, a villa and my vodka fanta limons (I cannot afford two trips to Ibiza with said drinks at €25 a glass in one year), I'll have a word with my mate Sven and get us into the VIP area at Cocoon.  Actually, he might be quite busy at the moment with his touring schedule, so we can just bribe the security with a few hundred euros each and make sure we take a couple of hot young and particularly friendly women with us to keep them happy.  If you can arrange for them to stay at my villa, that would do nicely.

Have I digressed again?  Sorry...this is what happens after about 10 hours sleep in 4 nights and the odd beer or 100.

My point is that as long as us Hull City fans lower our expectations a bit, Jimmy has the opportunity to actually make use of the remaining two years of his contract and become a footballing hero once again.  A part that his cheeky loveable side which seems to have been lost in a haze, clearly enjoys being.  Maybe a supporters night with Jimmy can get a few questions resolved and a bit of forgiveness, I am sure many will appreciate it...if he has the balls.

Plenty of time to come when he retires to Sky Sports to commentate on non-league football matches alongside Dean Windass, to party all he likes and if he helps get us promoted back to the Premier League, which he is capable of being instrumental of, I am sure that he would be toasted by many a Hull City fan forever...just like Deano is.

Come on Jimmy, sort it out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So, Was Cocoon In The Park 2011 As Amazing As 2010?

Yes it was.

(I hope Cocoon In The Park don't mind me stealing this photo from their Facebook page - I am terrible at the best of times taking my own photos)

I have that big warm glow in my heart that I do every time I go to Cocoon (or fabric).

Surprisingly though, there was a negative in that it wasn't as well run as last year.  One of the comments many said last year was just how ridiculously well run and efficient it was - German standards rather than English...this year it was English standards!

It wasn't bad, well apart from the 3 inches of piss in the toilets which were nowhere near adequate for the size of the crowd (which appeared much higher than last year) and was quite disgusting, and have probably ruined my trainers - though it was just back to what one expects for a festival in England - crap toilets, long queues at bars (though not as bad as SW4 is) and a slightly annoying token scheme for drinks but I cannot begrudge them for doing so as it is safer - not so many temporary staff to have to trust with the takings.

Oh and why were girls using the male toilets?  I know you might have a bigger queue than us guys, but what would you say if I used your toilets?!  I'm not especially offended but it did seem a bit odd - especially considering the amount of piss they have to walk through!

Anyway, I'm being picky - bar far the most important aspect is the music and it was brilliant from start to finish.

The only other thing that would have made it more perfect would have been some of my beloved friends to have shared the special moments with, but I don't begrudge any of them for not coming, after all about 20 of them came last year and it gave me encouragement to speak to loads of randoms and I did meet some very nice people from as far away as Brazil, Italy, Glasgow...and Wakefield.  Quite a few people I spoke to at the festival had never heard of Cocoon, or even more shockingly, Sven!  How could they?  30 years behind the decks, after all :-)

Anyway, to the DJs which is what I love talking about.

Seth was superb, he played lots of really kind of low-slung bass-heavy slow house music, absolutely perfect warm-up and better than I have ever heard from him.  I had hardly heard of any of the tunes, so much new stuff - unsurprisingly I was dancing within about 2 minutes of getting a drink.

I did find myself dancing opposite Seth Troxler at one point, but then I realised that I had already seen two reasonably good lookalikes for him, and it being Leeds and the sense of humour that they have there, it could have just been an exact copy.  But whoever it was was an exact replica of Seth, if not actually him - same style, same hairstyle, same voice, same glint in his eye - so if was him then big respect for coming and dancing in the crowd and not staying in the VIP area - if it wasn't him then a superb effort at cloning him!

Next was Reboot doing a live set - I'm not a huge fan of his and cannot say that I especially enjoyed his live set.  I much prefer DJ sets to live sets, as I just hear a far higher proportion of tunes I enjoy but we did have the Caminando moment which was superb, glad to see that the DC10 whole crowd sit down happens in Leeds too - most of the crowd seemed to work out what was happening and it was a bit of a "whoooo!" moment.  Sadly for him he did suffer some technical issues near the end - he tried in vain to get it back on course but the flow had stopped, it just seemed to stutter and stumble from there and myself and a fair proportion of the crowd lost interest and went to the bar.

Next was Ricardo - and he was in the "Love is in the air" mood that he has reportedly been in recently - and restored my just marginally impaired thoughts of him following a not so good set at fabric in March, I think it was.  More than restored it in fact.  It is so hard to pick a best DJ from the night but I might just have preferred his set to Seth and Sven, not totally sure.

From minute one, he just had such a warm house groove going on, it was ridiculously sublime and feel good.  He did his usual thing of switching from something nice and housey to the strange tripped-out incredibly repetitive and boring tracks which I love, and work so well because you all of a sudden after 10 minutes of the same few sparse beats hear what you think is the beginning of, for example, Donna Summer's classic from 1977, I Feel Love - then a couple of minutes later think he is just teasing you, half the crowd get bored and start to leave, and then you realise you are in the middle of such an amazing track and the crowd run back to create another typical Ricardo moment.

And not normally one to be afraid of throwing a few curveballs to completely confuse everyone, he surprised many with the sudden inclusion of a classic hip-hop tune - I have about as much like for hip-hop as I do for having a cheese-grater to my ears but I admit, it was good.  Apologies but I haven't got a clue what it was.  A second hip-hop track would have been pushing it a bit far - a did hear a fair few "what the hell's?" from some rather confused people, ha ha!

Sven clearly read that message that I posted on his Facebook wall at the end of 2010 asking for a bit more techno in 2011.  His first track was a definite statement of intent, though he did calm it back down and teased us for a little while, but not too long.

Annoyingly, and you probably don't really want to know this but if you know me, you know that I have little shame - this was when I was rather desperate for a piss and the disgusting state of the toilets, the absolutely crowded-ness and the pressure to perform for all the frustrated people outside waiting for me to finish and the shaking vibrating loos in the ridiculous (but superb) bass made it very difficult and about 145 trips to the toilet later after spending the best part of 2 hours suffering - finally the best moment of the night and I could get back to enjoying the last two hours.  Cocoon - if you read - please take note!  It was not just me, there were probably about 200 people in there at any one time all hating it and quite a few people ended up leaving because of it.  Yes, I know I could have stayed sober all night so it is kind of my fault - but hey I like having fun.

Anyway, back to Papa - the most influential man in my life apart from my real papa, of course.  I do wonder how many more years it will be until my dad wants to come to Cocoon - he is 60 now after all, and the delightful Vamanos was about the same age when he first discovered Sven!  But it will be another 5 years before my dad reads my blog so I don't have any expectations.  It took him about 15 years from when I first introduced him to Kylie Minogue to appreciate her and I have not yet introduced him to Sven - Christmas present perhaps?!

I digress.  What did you expect?!

So, as I said, Sven has read my message to him - or perhaps with his magical powers, he just read my mind.  I do prefer house to techno at the moment, but I fell in love with Cocoon for its unique style of, dare I say it - sexy techno, and it is what I want to hear a fair amount of, especially from Sven, and over the last year or so he hasn't really been playing much techno whenever I have heard or seen him.  I got a taste of his re-found love of techno at fabric in May, but I have to say I have probably never heard him in such devastating and destructive techno form in my life - it did actually get a bit much for me at one point and I had to go sit down to gather my marbles a bit!

But it was superb - Sven at his absolute very best, in his own very unique way.

And to top it all off, he got on the microphone towards the end and had a bit of a chat to us!  It was a nice touch - a few people moaned about it and were like "just keep playing music and shut up" but the absolute vast majority, 99.9% appreciated it, and I already knew this but you could tell his true affection for the city of Leeds and his love for it - much of the crowd probably weren't born when he got his first ever DJ residency in Leeds, back in 1991, at The Orbit.  The special spirit that you get up north in places like Leeds probably helped form who he is now.

I do kind of feel very much at home when I go up north - it is a much simpler way of life than living in Reading/London.  I might have had to spend a total of approximately 16 hours travelling - 9 of those on the way back, including 2 and a half hours at Paddington station where I managed twice to very briefly pass out but suddenly wake up when I realised that I was pouring Red Bull on my crotch - how classy am I?!  That and the trainers soaked in other people's urine.  No wonder the homeless kept coming to talk to me in the station.  That and the people who kept sniggering at me and asking if I was ok...hmm.  Again, I have no shame, I love being me and a big part of who I am is my ongoing love affair with Sven, Ricardo, everyone who contributes Cocoon...and ever-increasingly Seth.  I really could not think of a better set of DJs for me personally over the day - and the set lengths were perfect to get a really good grasp of what each DJ could do.

Cocoon never let me down with regards to the soundsystem at their events, or the production of the event, and it was even better than last year.  I liked that the speakers were hanging so that whenever the wind blew, the speakers blew too so there was absolutely no effect on the crystal clear booming loud sound - when I was sat down it actually felt like the hill the site was on was going to collapse and slide down, such was the power of the soundsystem.  Not so sure I like the glowing red stands that the speakers on stage were attached to and the smoke and fire visuals which for a minute or so worried me dreadfully that the stage was on fire and nobody has noticed - it did freak me out for a brief moment - but just Cocoon being Cocoon - messing with my head.  And there were some other questionable visuals like pictures of naked women and male strippers...erm...someone has a rather strange sense of humour!

I had decided during my traumatic hour or two that I wouldn't be coming back next year - but Sven personally asked me if I would come back next year (ok and the other 10,000 or so) - seriously - how can I refuse?  I don't think anyone could.  Cocoon In The Park was the best day of 2010 and so far, is the best day of my 2011.  No question about it.

End of my clubbing now until pay-day - 28th July Nicolas Jaar, Soul Clap and Gadi Mizrahi are all at fabric, and 30th sees the return of Ricardo, along with the fabulous Deniz Curtel and Craig Richards.  Anyone wants to join me, I would of course, be delighted.

Oh, I haven't mentioned the weather - the clouds were really quite ominous as we approached Leeds, getting increasingly large and thundery-looking and it started to rain just as we queued to get in.  But then it stopped after about 5 minutes and was gloriously sunny the rest of the day.  With a nice breeze to stop it from getting too hot - as you would expect when Sven is controlling the universe - it was perfect!

I am going next year - there is no doubt about it.  I love Cocoon and everything about it - Sven and Ricardo especially, but also particularly the crowd and the ridiculously feed-good factor, the amount of really friendly and lovely people there - and the amazing music.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and I hope at least one of my adorable friends joins me on the adventure next year, especially those who didn't go last year.

See you in September, Sven, and the whole of Cocoon and 6000 other beautiful people - so pleased that they have Nina Kraviz playing in the main room - someone who I absolutely adore - along of course, with Sven, with Seth and Loco Dice playing in the terrace - could I ask for any more?  Oh yeah, I nearly forgot, please feel free to invite me and my very good friend, Matt, to the after-party - I have never been to a Cocoon after-party in Ibiza, and it would make my world.  Ta, much love.  And sort the toilets out for 2012 please!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Mission To Leeds

I am expecting this mission to be somewhat interesting, to say the least.

I am not going with everything I wanted, nor am I going with everyone I wanted.

In fact, I am going by myself.  I am going to a foreign town without any of my 5 or so friends, or is that 50 or so?  Their loss...

Leeds isn't really foreign, even though I am from Hull - sworn enemies when it comes to football.

Leeds is cool though, and Reading should really take notice.  Not for the identikit Topman/Topshop 80% of it, but for the difference to the usual - Reading does have plenty of the different, but the lack of a daily newspaper and the general lack of interest in the area in what is going on, let it down.

I know Reading has often been known as a drinker's town, but I dearly wish that it would branch out and find other areas...a bit like the Matrix days...

Oh well, 3am, I better slowly start thinking about walking through the masses and getting to Shoreditch for my coach.

Enjoy your boring days - I am dancing to Sven Vath & Ricardo Villalobos...although it took me 4 attempts to spell them correctly.

The next day or so could be interesting.  fabric on Saturday anyone?  Bus drops off at 3am...I have nothing better to you?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

James Went To Wimbledon...Or Was It South Africa

Firstly, I would like to offer a few tips

1. Never drive through Wimbledon when the tennis final's are on.
2. If you are embarking on a roadtrip of an hour or two, empty your bladder beforehand.
3. If you are embarking on a roadtrip of an hour or two on a warm day, take some water.
4. If you are not in control of the music in a vehicle, do not sit directly next to a speaker.
5. If you happen to be in Wimbledon, go to Chakalaka restuarant.  In fact, make the effort to go if you are anywhere nearby.
6. Groupon sucks.  Because the restaurant had a loud of Groupon people visiting it the night before - there were no snails for me.

Don't take any notice of the menu on the website - it didn't resemble the menu's on the table.

For starters I just had garlic bread.  Yeah I know it is about as adventurous as having chips with fish, but I did want the snails and it is Groupon's fault I couldn't have them, so don't point your finger of accusation at me.  It was well presented though - the chicken wing was my addition.

For the main meal, I had the Kudu, which is a type of Antlelope available in South Africa.  It came with big fat chip things (well it was supposed to come with some dodgy type of mash potato with stuff in it, too scary for me) and green beans and some leaves and a little sauce of some description which I have forgotten.

It was probably the nicest meal I have had all year.  Absolutely delicious.  I also tried some of JP's steak and that was fantastic but not as good as the Kudu - definitely recommend it.

The minibus back only took an hour, half of the time and then onto a party at the birthday boy's, Martin (who is from South Africa, hence the trip to a South African restaurant).

A supremely enjoyable evening, night and morning followed, with some fantastic people, half who were really good friends and half who were random to me but all cool people to speak to...whilst talking was possible anyway.

Definitely made up for the lack of excitement the weekend before - roll on Cocoon In The Park this week - rain and someone gets hurt.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Celebrate American Independence Day? No thanks.

Dear Employer

As you may know, I definitely enjoy working for you, I have absolutely no preference as to what nationality my employer is, I am happy to work for an American firm as such, just as I would a firm from any other location.

However, please do not ask me to celebrate American Independence Day.

Do the Germans celebrate Victory In Europe Day? No.
Do the French celebrate the Batte Of Trafalgar? No.
Do the Palestinians celebrate the 1967 war with Israel? No.
Do the Argentinians celebrate the re-capturing of the Falkland Islands? No.
Do the Pakistanis celebrate the creation of the independent state of Bangalesh? No.

Yes, perhaps I should get over it, especially as it was about 235 years ago. I am perfectly happy for America to have independence from Great Britain, and I very much admire how your country has grown in the years since and am very appreciative of the help you gave my country and many others during World War 2.

However, I do not feel I can support American Independence Day.

I will however be quite happy to celebrate Thanksgiving with you later in the year - especially if you give me a free day off.  Though I'd settle for a turkey sandwich.

I hope you understand.

All the best.
James Winfield

Friday, July 01, 2011

Blue Labour...Seriously

Brilliant.  Just brilliant.

The Labour Party, became New Labour, and has now become Blue Labour.

I quote from Wikipedia "It advocates the belief that working class and 'squeezed middle' voters will be won back to Labour through more conservative policies on certain social and international issues, such as immigration and crime, a rejection of neoliberal economics in favour of ideas from guild socialism and continental corporatism, and a switch to local and democratic community management and provision of services, rather than relying on a traditional welfare state that is seen as excessively 'bureaucratic'."
So, Labour seem to accept that the Conservative way of doing things is the way to get them elected.  Even the Socialist Party think it is 'suspiciously Tory'
How long before this clicks with some of the Labour MP's and they just defect to the Conservatives in that case?  Shall I get writing?  Does anyone remember or know any sensible Labour MPs?
I doubt that you remember but I did suggest the idea of a Conservative - Labour Coalition government shortly before the 2010 general election.
Maggie will be smiling today.  So am I.