Time Travel, Retro-Futurism and Religion – Raf and O

I recently attended the premiere for Raf and O’s new album “Portal” in the beautiful setting of St James the Less Church in Pimlico. Raf and O are Raf Mantelli and Richard Smith (O), combining acoustic guitar and drums with an eclectic range of electronica. People ask, what do they sound like and I have to say “Raf and O” !! This is a rare achievement in a world of repeat performances and soundalikes.  They describe themselves as performing unique detailed avant-pop, fusing electro/ acoustic drums, self-made triggers, pads, samplers, vocals, synths and acoustic guitar bathed in effects. This is accurate even if it does not trip off the tongue in a media friendly soundbite !!:-)

The Eagle Has Landed - with Raf and O

iThe Eagle Has Landed – with Raf and O – where less is more at St James the Less – Click on the picture to buy the album on iTunes

David Stubbs of The Quietus also attempts to explain Raf and O’s music:

“The excellent Time Machine represents the very antithesis of EDM – There is a butterfly, acoustic delicacy and yet also the deceptive, steel strength of spider silk in their complex weaving – Raf’s vocal ranges far and wide in her emotional and lyrical foragings”

I first came across Raf and O at Richard Strange’s “Cabaret Futura” club – a place where Marc Almond, Spandau Ballet, Depeche Mode and Alexi Sayle first passed through. Since that time, Raf and O performed at Richard’s stunning production “Language is a Virus from Outer Space” at The Southbank Centre. The production celebrated the life of William Burroughs, leading light of the Beat Movement and author of “Naked Lunch”.

The album “Portal” explores time travel, although, questioning the real and the imagined via a sound world of spaciousness, tinged in sinister shades. It articulates their journey of the last two years, a series of connections, discoveries and dreams, seeming at times to tune in with the people who passed, leaving a mark into this world and unto our consciousness.

Photograph by Peter Tainsh

If you are looking for instant gratification in a busy world, try listening to “The Deadliest Flower” or “Magic” to give you an insight into just one window pane of their diverse work.  Find them on You Tube for an insight into their performance capabilities.

The evening was started by an equally awesome performance from Emmy nominated electronicist Robert Logan. Robert’s list of collaborators include Grace Jones, Brigitte Fontaine, Steve Roach and Skye (Morcheeba). He recently collaborated with Raf and O on a series of sessions working closely in the same space, in their own words:

“Concocting a deconstructed and layered amalgamation of song, electronic sounds, dense atmospheres and organic instruments, textures and further exploration of fragmentation”

On the evening itself, Robert built up an impressive soundscape in the Church, using modern versions of classic Korg Synthesisers fused with modern digital technologies – the sweetspot where ancient meets postmodern. Even a prayer mat was involved …

Where Church Meets Korg - The Set up for Robert Logan

Where Church Meets Korg – The Set up for Robert Logan

If you are bored with hearing template music and want to hear sounds you have never imagined, get hold of some music by these artists for a change …

Fusing tradition with church and electronica - Click on the picture to find Raf and O's work with Robert Logan - Photography by Peter Tainsh

Fusing tradition with church and electronica – Click on the picture to find Raf and O’s work with Robert Logan – Photography by Peter Tainsh

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Check his latest book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” out at Bloomsbury.

Author and contributor to 11 books

Guns, Roses and Rock ‘n’ Roll

I’m delighted to announce a major new speaking partnership with Vicky Hamilton, former Manager of Guns N’ Roses, Poison and Faster Pussycat and management consultant with Mötley Crüe. Together, Vicky and I offer an exclusive series of corporate keynotes and longer masterclasses across the globe. Together, we offer MBA2 where Masters of Business Administration meets Much Bigger Amplifiers … a unique combination of lessons on leadership from Vicky’s experience in holding explosive rock bands together with Peter’s quintessentially English observations on business from his combined experience as an MBA tutor, scientist and musician. Together we offer insights on the following topics:

  • Disruptive and creative thinking about your business strategy and practices
  • Converting creativity into sustainable profit
  • Managing volatile people with huge egos under extreme pressure
  • Negotiation, influencing and persuading powerful people
  • Building and rethinking your brand to face a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)

We are giving showcase events at The Virgin Lounges in the UK on these dates:

Virgin Lounge Tour 2016

Virgin Lounge Tour 2016

I interviewed Vicky just recently to give you a taste of her insights into life in the fast lane. Check out the video below:

Much Bigger Amplifiers : Keynotes that go all the way up to 11 …

At 22, Vicky Hamilton left her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and arrived on the Sunset Strip as a wide-eyed blonde with an ear for rock & roll: “I was back home interviewing Tom Petty for Three Rivers Review,” says Hamilton, “And he told me I was a ‘real California girl,’ and that’s all it took.” It was 1981, and Hamilton arrived at the center of Hollywood; where the scene was erupting with spandex, sex, cocaine, Aqua Net hairspray and madcap visionaries, like Hamilton, who discovered Guns N’ Roses and became their first manager and surrogate mother. She moved on to work as an A&R executive at major labels such as Geffen and Capitol, in addition to starting her own Grammy winning indie label Small Hairy Dog. Vicky’s book “Appetite for Dysfunction” is a no-holds-barred exploration of the realities of managing rock bands with transferable lessons for anyone seeking to manage creative people or disrupt their markets. Vicky is considered one of the most successful female industry players and has made many TV appearances on MTV, VH1, BBC, The Biography Channel etc.

Sex, Dysfunction and Rock'n'Roll

Sex, Dysfunction and Rock’n’Roll

Slash 4

Slash meets Prince – with my pal Aaron Stone after hours at a private party 

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Business / Organisation Development and Coaching / Mentoring. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music.

For some wisdom on business leadership, innovation and creativity, check Peter’s seventh book out at Bloomsbury or book us for a masterclass or longer development programme.

 

Shakespeare Versus Spotify

Announcing a record breaking album of songs inspired by Shakespeare in the form of the album Shakespeare Versus Streaming. The album, up for a Mercury Music Award, is the brainchild of Mark Christopher Lee and I’m proud to have contributed two songs to it, one of which explores the dark theme of Donald Trump.

100x30

Mark says of the 100 x 30 project and some of the songs on the album:

This is London band The Pocket Gods’ new album of one hundred thirty second songs – and all about the great Bard himself!
It’s being released on Nub Music/Thoroughbred Music with distribution by Proper Music on July 15th 2016 – to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.
Following their previous groundbreaking album “100×30”-  cult indie band The Pocket Gods are continuing the campaign for fairer royalties from streaming services such as Spotify with this, another album of 100 songs all 30 seconds long. !!

The previous album 100×30 is to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Guinness_World_Records_logo.svg

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Business / Organisation Development and Coaching / Mentoring. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music.

For some wisdom on business leadership, innovation and creativity, check Peter’s seventh book out at Bloomsbury or book us for our full development programme or a keynote or masterclass session.

A Song for Europe

Come Together, right now

Come Together, right now

I’m seriously hoping that some sense prevails and that we can pull back from economic oblivion and a sleepwalk into intolerance after our knife edge decision to leave the EU last Thursday. In the meantime, rather than looking to politicians who have almost universally lied to us, I thought we might seek wisdom and solace from some music and musicians:

Hotel California – The Eagles – adequately describes Article 50 !

“You can check-out any time you like
But you can never leave”

Ball of Confusion – The Temptations – adequately describes the VUCA world we have entered:

“People moving out, people moving in. Why, because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can’t hide. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I’ll set you free. Rap on, brother, rap on
Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the … preacher
And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the … teacher.
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball of confusion. Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today. Woo, hey, hey”

The National Front Disco – Morrissey – perhaps sums up the 50% rise in hate and race related crime in the wake of our departure from the EU. Although many Brexit voters are thoughtful and moderate people, a small group have had their racist views legitimised by the Leave vote:

“Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National
To the National
To the National Front disco
Because you want the day to come sooner
You want the day to come sooner
You want the day to come sooner
When you’ve settled the score”

Anarchy in the UK – The Sex Pistols – It seems to be the way we’re headed if we continue down the road of leaving the EU:

“Is this the M.P.L.A?
Or is this the U.D.A?
Or is this the I.R.A?
I thought it was the UK”

Dreamer – Prince – Nobody does anti-racism like Prince, God rest his soul

“Eye was born & raised on the same plantation
In the united states of the red, white and blue
Eye never knew that eye was different
Til dr. king was on the balcony
Lying in a bloody pool
Expected so much more from a loving society

A truthful xplanation but you know what?
Eye got another conspiracy

If it was just a dream… call me
Call me a dreamer 2″

Living for the City – Stevie Wonder – With companies considering relocation of their HQ to EU countries, we may well find that the low wage economy becomes the norm in the UK:

“His father works some days for fourteen hours
And you can bet he barely makes a dollar
His mother goes to scrub the floor for many
And you’d best believe she hardly gets a penny”

Paranoid – Black Sabbath – Courtesy of Darren Johnson, who wrote the previous blog entry Rock Against Brexit we have some good old words of wisdom from Ozzy Osbourne:

“Finished with my woman ’cause she couldn’t help me with my mind
People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time
All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I’ll lose my mind if I don’t find something to pacify”

Baby can I hold you – Tracey Chapman – Finally, Tracey Chapman expresses the spirit of Bregret:

Sorry, Is all you can say

I’m personally not for sitting on my arse and watching this demise whilst playing records. With so many people now expressing “Bregret” I will continue to push UK Government to reconsider the marginal leave vote (51.9% leave, 48.1% remain, 30% non voters and a high proportion of young people who did not manage to register). A quick scan of the local area last night shows the degree of confusion that still surrounds the issue …

Ball of Confusion

Ball of Confusion

Read our other posts on the EU :

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Rock Against Brexit

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.

Check his new book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” out.

Available in Europe without additional taxes for the next month or so …

 

 

Rocking the EU Vote: Could Brexit screw British rock bands?

A Guest Post from Darren Johnson

Rock Fanatic and former Chair of the London Assembly for the Green Party

Darren Johnson and another Johnson ... not related

Darren Johnson, Rock Fanatic with Queen and another Johnson … not related

Younger voters have been overwhelmingly pro-EU. And in spite of concerns that younger people are less likely to vote, less likely to be registered or be at Glastonbury for the referendum and failed to apply for a postal vote, it seems that younger music fans are pretty much like the rest of their generation when it comes to recognising the benefits of Britain’s membership of the EU. But what of older rock fans? I’ve both heard some pretty alarming sentiments expressed amongst fellow music fans of our generation. In some ways that’s not surprising. Opinion polls are showing that while there is a massive lead for remaining in the EU amongst the 18-39 age group, when it gets to the over 50’s and particularly the over 60’s the tables are turned and there’s a significant lead for leaving the EU.

Bob Geldof presented four reasons to remain in the EU

Bob Geldof presented four reasons to remain in the EU, pointing out that he feels everyone should consult their kids on their views, as it is they that will inherit the consequences of the vote … Peter Cook agrees that Nigel Farage is no Fisherman’s Friend, having only attended 1 out of 43 meetings at the EU where he could have put their case.

However, could it be that older rock fans are unwittingly sabotaging one of the things in life they love most. The Musicians Union has sounded alarm bells that a so-called Brexit vote could have serious consequences for musicians, particularly in the area of touring and copyright. A recent official statement argues:

“The effect that Brexit would have on musicians in Britain is not entirely clear and would depend on the terms negotiated. We could, however, expect touring to become more difficult and potentially see British musicians having to apply for visas in order to travel within Europe. Given the cost and difficulty many musicians face in obtaining visas for work in countries such as the U.S, this would be very unwelcome. It is also likely that European legislation which has protected musicians in the areas of copyright, health and safety and workers’ rights would be watered down or removed entirely if Britain were to leave the EU.”

Bernie Torme, former Gillan guitarist, still gigging and still releasing albums, spells out the likely extra hassles and expense should we leave. These are not millionaire rock stars. Artists like Bernie have a niche, but dedicated fan-base and every penny matters if the economics of touring and releasing albums are to add up. As Bernie says:

“Leaving is a no-win situation for musicians in my opinion: as the MU points out it will increase the cost and difficulty of European touring, through potential visas and also the probable reintroduction of customs carnets and bonds coupled with the time involved in organising all that. That will make it well nigh impossible to tour and sell merch in Europe unless you are a very big band and have an organisation behind you to back you up. For an independent artist like me who self releases CDs and vinyl it will also be significantly more difficult and expensive: the best quality, cheapest, and quickest pressing plants are all in mainland Europe, so with Brexit there will be customs duty on getting the records in to the UK and also again on selling them back out to Europe. Many other reasons too, from buying equipment at a cheaper price than you can in the UK, to copyright protection and royalty collection (royalty collection from the US is a nightmare), to the problems some bands would have because they have members in various countries. Its not good.”

Mr Torme

Mr Torme …

Indeed, Mark Davyd, Chief Executive of the Music Venue Trust, who are fighting a strong and effective battle to protect Britain’s grassroots music venues, argues that the so-called “heritage” rock acts could be particularly hard hit.

“The impact will be felt hardest by those musicians who need Europe the most; those trying to establish a career, build audiences, or UK musicians who have built a sustainable touring career – heritage bands who aren’t massive but need to tour Europe to make ends meet. In terms of what will happen,; nobody really knows, but the question of immigration and rights to work are not a one way street; if you want to limit the number of EU workers able to work in the UK, that means you accept a limit on the number of UK workers able to work in the EU. The most likely outcome of a Brexit which includes limiting immigration, which seems to be the main driver of the Brexit campaign, will be to limit temporary workers, and that means UK musicians, their technicians and crew. A US Visa takes six months to arrange and costs, including management of taxation, circa $5,000 for the most organised. Even imagining a single EU entry visa, with no further border controls or conditions as UK musicians pass from one EU nation to another, that sum of money and the organisation time is beyond 90% of the UK musicians currently supplementing their income with EU performances.

And that’s just the musicians. UK Music’s report “Wish You Were Here 2016” demonstrates the value of music tourism to the UK, at festivals and in every venue in the UK – even at a grassroots music level, over 135,000 overseas tourists made a visit. We don’t know how many of them will be dissuaded by new border permissions, nor what the impact of a falling pound will be on their ability to travel – currently our EU visitors enjoy reciprocal benefits such as access to health care which makes the UK an ideal holiday destination. Will that continue? Nobody knows.”

From a fan’s perspective Mark Tully, an avid supporter of classic rock bands, backs up the point that leaving the EU could mean lots of extra hassle and expense for the bands and musicians he loves seeing:

“A friend of mine is Brian Cummins who does a Peter Gabriel tribute. Last year he got a telephone call asking if he would do a performance at Rockpalast in Germany. He drove all the way from the Wirral to Germany. He only had to present his passport when he left the UK and when he arrived back. If we leave the European Union it is very likely that this will not be the case.”

There are many, many reasons for Britain to stay in the EU, economically, socially, environmentally and, of course, this referendum is about far, far more than the impact on the British music scene. But amidst all the hollow rhetoric about “getting our country back” and outright lies about straight bananas, it would be a great shame if rock fans do vote to leave the EU on Thursday placing additional burdens and expense on some of the bands they love which may call into question their ability to carry on touring and carry on making music.

Peter points out that artists from Roger Daltrey to Bob Geldof, Billy Bragg and Paloma Faith recently stated their support for the remain campaign. So far it seems that Mick Hucknell of Simply Red is one of few noted stars that has come out against staying in Europe. Peter has analysed this and points out that this decision was foretold in their hit “Something got me started”:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 22.02.50

Even David Cameron and Tessa Jowell tried to get in on the act … and Peter does not even think they play the guitar or are members of the Musicians Union …

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 22.07.00

Finally, Peter also points out that Boris Johnson (not related to Darren) is also not qualified to talk about music and musicians:

Note the position of the Capodastra ....

Note the position of the Capodastra ….

 Related Post : Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

A tribute to Prince

Friday and Saturday 24/25 June mark a major event in memory of Prince in London and in support of Autism Rocks. Here, Marcus Anderson, Prince’s Saxophone Player talks about the event:

Here’s some of the songs and personalities you might be hearing from and meeting at this once in a lifetime event to mark the passing of a legend:

I hope to see some of you there on the Saturday gig. We are hoping to catch some interviews with the performers along the way. Here are some of the tributes left for him at Camden recently:

Prince Memorial

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business Development around Strategy, Innovation, Creativity and Change.

Check Peter’s new book out on innovation and creativity with Bloomsbury. Check out our full development programme for sustainable and profitable innovations.

Bohemian Rhapsody – The Making of a Classic

Here is the interview we recorded with Barry Ainsworth, the man who engineered Bohemian Rhapsody and many many more classic records. Enjoy!!

This week, we are conducting interviews with Jordan Gray, Marcus Anderson (Prince’s sax player) and possibly CeeLo Green. Here’s part 2 of the interview with Barry – The Q&A:

To book Barry for an exclusive masterclass on dealing with creative and highly talented people, get in touch. If you know of any artists that would like an interview in our growing collection of interviews with music giants please get in touch with Rory Gill the film maker or myself:

BH

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock, fusing business with parallel ideas from music and Human Dynamics, offering business and organisation development. Check his latest work “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” for Bloomsbury.